Category Archives: Recipes

A True Taste Sensation

Some days you just want to go for a picnic and yesterday happened to be a day just as such. We had planned for the picnic all day. My visions of sitting on a beautiful hill looking out as the sun dove beneath the waves were wonderfully planned. Taking care to remember this was the Marin County coast and would be chilly, my menu was made just with that in mind. For all the anticipation, things never go as planned. 

The fog came out to play, so thick we couldn’t even see that there even had been a sunset or an end to the waves meeting the skies. Not much to look at after my visions, eh? How about a handsome Duck in your picture instead? Because at the time I didn’t think taking a picture of what I had described above was necessary, being just a disappointment. 

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None the less, the evening picnic was saved by just such company kept and the delicious meal I had planned and cooked all afternoon…well except for the two hours I left to go see Guardians of the Galaxy with Duck. 

IMG_0800 We pulled out the sweatshirt and sat on the car hood to partake in our meal. Perhaps you ask how this amazing presentation for a quaint picnic was done. Simply I had reheated what I thought was enough for two portions, along with the casserole dish in a 350 oven until we were just about ready to leave. Our meal also came with freshly-made, corn-filled, 100% vegan cornbread and proper Early Grey tea with a touch of honey and milk.

IMG_0776Who created such a masterpiece, you ask? Well me of course, the Fox. Just as this picnic has an end, it also had a grand beginning of planning down to the minute.  From that very morning all the way up to leaving for the movie at 3pm, I was cooking to my heart’s content in a kitchen all by my lonesome. Don’t despair as I like it just that way; giving direction in the kitchen is not my forte. My loved ones don’t deserve that kind of treatment, nor do I need the stress it brings me. (Fox goes RAWR with people in her kitchen space, even if they want to help.) 

Anyhow, on to the good stuffs! Once the planning was finished, Fox was just about jumping to get in the kitchen and make some simple beans and a few vegetables into something delicious. Starting off with hot pans is just about the best way to start, unless you need to quick-soak your beans because you forgot to start the soaking process the night before after a long day of badminton, but that is another story…

IMG_0782Fill a giant stock pot with enough water to cover the beans two inches high and bring to a boil before simmering for probably 10 minutes, then switch off the gas and let them rest for an hour! That is all there is to quick soaking. Right before took this picture, all the sediment and beany stuff was on the bottom of the pan and you could see the beans really nicely, but then I stirred it and took the shot. Oops. 

 

While those beans be a’resting in their hot water, you can stIMG_0779art to chop up one large yellow onion. Put another pan on high heat and add oil before dropping your onion and tossing to coat in the hot oil. Let those onions sweat until translucent, tossing now and again while you dice up two large carrots and four large celery stalks. If onions get translucent while you are still chopping up celery after carrots, just throw in what you have already chopped and saute away. I was chopping and sauteing a good half hour while my beans soaked so my timing would be perfect for the movie leave-of-absence. 

Once all the things are nicely sauteed my beans were still not down soaking. Quick fix is just to leave them on the stove and cool down a bit. My next step was once the beans were drained I heated more oil in the stock pot and added my poblano pepper, sauteing just for a minute while it turned a brighter green. Then I added in 1 tablespoon worth of tomato paste and the other sauteed vegetables, letting a fond grow along the bottom of the pan. Fond is a french term for yummy crud that is browned and developed admirable flavor. 

 

I scraped thIMG_0790is crud off the bottom of the pan, added some of the stock from my 32 oz vegetable stock jug and scraped again to deliver flavor to all edges of the vegetables. Adding all my beans back to its soaking pot then the rest of the vegetable stock and giving another stir. Oh yes, did I forget to mention this entire time since the poblano pepper that I have been adding dashes of dried oregano worth about a tablespoon in total to the dish. That is the stuff you see floating in the stock.

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From there it gets easier as all you need do is bring your soup to a boil then turn down to a simmer as low as possible and lid the pot, leaving just a crack for some steam to escape. This will reduce your liquid loss and save energy as the soup will properly bubble like a higher heat simmer.

You have already seen the finished product, but man was it amazing. Sincerely did I think that the picnic portion was perfect for two, but I underestimated how good the food would taste out in that foggy cold. Usually my dishes don’t taste so spectacular, but if the fog had to keep away a beautiful sunset I guess my food had to make up for it, so said the universe that night. 

As I am a food writer I love giving out my long explanation, but I also have the recipe in short version on another website. I would give it out here, but I don’t seem to have that nice recipe writer that most food blogs seem to have, so you all get links. But don’t forget I served cornbread with this dish and boy did that complete the meal. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of maple syrup, but I used about 1/2 cup of honey for more sweetness. If you don’t like it that sweet keep the 1/4 cup amount. And I know some vegans don’t count honey as vegan, but whatever. I’m not vegan and had honey on hand… OH and also, I used a 9 inch pie pan and it cooked up in 30 minutes beautifully. 

Savory for Breakfast

Hello again, so I would have a lovely photo of my dish for you today, but before eating I thought my camera snapped the one and only shot. Apparently it did not and now I am sitting here full of tasty foods without a proper picture. However, I do have a description and a sort of recipe. Although this was not a planned morning meal it came out okay. Originally I had marinated some tofu and soaked some brown rice for dinner the other night, but it just happens that life turns around on me for dinner some nights.

So this morning I felt the need to fry my tofu and make the rice with some kombu and minced ginger, then decided my baby bok choy deserved a place in my bowl. The tofu marinade does not matter as it was too salty and you can create whatever you want with your tofu. The recipe inspiration I want to share is a copy-cat of the Trader Joe’s miso ginger broth which came out a bit more spicy and fairly flavorful. I did somewhat cheat as I had a box already and wanted to check the ingredients they used and also I used one of their mushroom pastes to impart most of the flavor and spiciness.

Grab your fresh ginger, green onion, the TJ’s mushroom paste or some mushroom stock, a hint of red chili pepper for a desired heat level, apple cider vinegar or the more preferred rice wine vinegar and finally miso paste. Add as much or little of all these ingredients as you like, more broth and less reducing will equal a less flavorful but more soupy recipe. My way was first heating the pan with a little ginger then adding the vinegar before adding water and the mushroom paste as I didn’t have stock. Green onion came in at some point and it reduced a fair, fair bit before I even started cooking my bok choy stems into the broth. The secret to well cooked vegetables that still retain their nutrients is making sure you don’t lose crunch. The stems need longer cooking than the leaves, which come into the broth at the last second.

Once I deemed my stems along the way enough, I added my overly-salty tofu to reheat it and had to add more liquid because it had reduced too much. After this I added my bok choy stems and simmered just a minute or less. Then I turned the heat off completely; but you ask wait…you didn’t add the miso to your miso ginger broth. This is because you do not want to boil your miso if you want to keep the nutrients and benefits of miso in your food as over heating destroys the nutrients. I stirred a spoonful into the broth and smushed and the like to get it incorporated.

Serving the broth in a bowl with my ginger brown rice and tofu was a nourishing, savory breakfast that will last me a good part of the day. Not to mention how easy vegetarian food can be made and made with yummy-ness. But again, learning process as I will from now on make sure my photos get taken properly before consuming the final product. Oh yeah, and drinking some jasmine green tea only heightens the experience and effect of the meal.

Smoothies and Fox’s Challenge

Ahh yes, the infamous, versatile smoothie to include anything and everything you need, want, could dream of. Fox has been having lots of stuff in her breakfast the past few days thanks to the power of smoothie making. It started with just a quick meal and became a whole challenge for herself; vegetarian cooking and eating for the month of May, starting a little before May. But before we begin onward with smoothies, Fox’s challenge came up with the eating of a corn empanada for a breakfast.

That weekend after the empanada Rupert brought together his Fox and Duck for a day of empanada making with two savory, vegetarian fillings and a lemon curd sweet empanada. Literally, from the time we got home from market at 2pm till 8 pm we were making fillings, rolling dough for 40 empanadas, filling/crimping/ egg washing and finally baking three batches. Rupert sort of laughed at us while we slaved away, slave master over there. In the end, Duck got a lot of home made meals during his week days while Fox wasn’t able to be there to create him meals. The lemon empanada was delicious and the potato/cheese empanada was yummy, but my three sisters needed sauce and more flavor. A day of work needed more tweeking and work apparently.

However, we had decided on two savory and vegetarian fillings A) beause potato cheese is delicious, but also both Duck and Fox have been tiring of meat. Fox especially was looking for a change and boy did she find it in her challenge.

smoothieAlready starting, Fox has been working on some protein filled, low added sugar smoothies that satisfy her tummy for hours. Always frozen fruit and some homemade almond butter, it also usually includes almond milk, non-fat yogurt for added sweetness, protein powder, vegetables when available, ground flax and wheat germ. Today’s special smoothie is something new however, for a chocolate lover’s early morning fix with this hot weather coming in Cali. Nutrition_Facts_Label 

Two handfuls of frozen strawberries, about 3 heaping tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, ground flax and wheat germ, 1/2 cup of almond milk,  1 tablespoon homemade almond butter made with virgin coconut oil, 1 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt, handful spinach and two 1 foot long chard leaves. Anything I’m forgetting? It ends in a delicious, chocolately and thick drink for your morning treat. It is a sweet treat that doesn’t make you feel guilty. Delish!

Not to mention the beautiful white bean and caramelized onion kaumt/quinoa pasta full of complete protein and vegetables of chard, carrot and pesto.  A recipe Fox found online for flatbread of which she transformed into pasta.

Pasta With Rupert…OR NOT!

Indeed, this is not with Rupert. However, it is with my Hedgehog and comes with a recipe.

One of my favorite dishes just happens to be every day old pasta in cream sauce. Cream sauce is so versatile and I had some things laying around in the frig, just waiting to be made into something even more spectacular. So out came the roasted garlic, dried olive oil-ed tomatoes, heavy cream, some thyme and parsley, along with walnuts and bell pepper. And ta-da!

2013-04-12 12.49.55 It all starts with having a good pasta that the sauce will cling to. Then comes your main ingredient of every good dish: SALT. Salting the pasta water, the sauce, adding cheese at the end of the sauce (preferably Parmesan for this recipe, but I didn’t have any at the moment). I found that salting the pasta water gave my pasta a good amount of seasoning, but my sauce lacked it. Even when you think you salted enough or too much, check and make sure before off pull it out of the pan.

Being a partial bread maker, I weighed my pasta out ,then weighed some more because this will be a lunch and dinner meal for myself. I think 4 ounces of pasta works better for this recipe than my 6-8 ounces. Note:You might see 4 ounces of penne pasta or a shorter pasta as about a cup of dried, uncooked pasta.  So while my salty water was boiling the pasta, I prepped my other ingredients, dicing a whole bell pepper, mincing 4-5 cloves of roasted garlic and mincing 4 dried tomatoes. 

Then came sauteeing everything; first came the bell pepper just until is got color on a few sides for 3-4 minutes at medium heat. After that came the tomatoes and some stirring of the pan a few seconds right before adding the garlic. Everything was smelling lovely by this time, so I added the dried thyme then a just splash of white wine (the good stuff you would want to drink). Let the wine reduce and evaporate out of the pan before adding your cream. Don’t forget your main ingredient after this step, salt here vigorously  Let’s say 1 cup of cream per 4 ounces of pasta goes in.

Again, once you add the cream everything has to come to a simmer (light boil) for several moments so the liquid reduces and flavors mix, meld and compliment each other. Let this reduce down while your pasta cooks the last bit, or for 3-5 minutes, depending on how thick you like you sauce to be. I reduced mine just 3 minutes and drained my pasta which immediately went into the sauce. All the gluten still on the unwashed pasta thickened my sauce even more so.

I finished the whole dish with two handfuls of walnuts and some dried parsley. I should have salted my sauce one more time before adding the pasta, because mine came out lacking somewhat. Salt used correctly heightens the flavor of your dish, so it is a big help.

Overall, my dish was an experiment and it went well. Sauce was not too thin and has good flavor when you take bites of the tomato, garlic or bell pepper. But just pasta alone is slightly bland. I love the walnuts, so please try it with them. Don’t forget to salt three times, because I believe that was my biggest issue. Flavors also develop over time, so if you wanted to add extra cream and reduce it down, it would allow flavors to meld together better.

Feel free to use fresh herbs for an even better pasta, or finish with Parmesan and a tad less salt.