Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sesame Ginger Tempeh Sandwiches

As far as I know, Asian food and sandwiches aren't really synonymous. I'm not claiming to know all the food from every country in Asia, but I haven't heard of Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese Korean or Indonesian sandwiches. If you know of any, please let me know so that I can try them because this sandwich is delicious.

This brings me to another point. When I say "Asian food" I recognize that Asia is a continent made up of vastly different people groups and cuisines. But this sandwich isn't really from any particular Asian country, it just uses various traditionally Asian flavors. So be notified, I know "Asian food" is a very general term and all food from Asia is not alike.

For this recipe you'll be making a marinade to bake the tempeh, a simple sauce, and a simple slaw. Then it's all assembled on a roll of your choice.

8 oz. tempeh (as usual for these tempeh sandwiches, try to get a long rectangle shaped tempeh cake rather than those short, stubby square ones).
1/4 c. water or vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. shoyu or tamari
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice (or rice vinegar in a pinch)
1 Tbsp. chile garlic paste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2" knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
2 scallions, roughly chopped
2 tsp. arrowroot powder or corn starch and 4 tsp. water, mixed together
2 c. cabbage, shredded
1/2 tsp. rice wine or brown rice vinegar
1/4 tsp. toasted sesame oil
A small pinch of sea salt
about 1/3-1/2  c. Veganaise
Sriracha hot sauce or chili garlic paste to taste, I like about 1 Tbsp.
4 rolls of your choice, (I like multigrain ciabatta, just because they're usually the right size for the tempeh patties)

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare the marinade by whisking together the water or broth, shoyu, lemon, chili garlic paste, garlic, ginger and scallions in a small bowl. Set aside.

2) Slice the tempeh in half width wise to make two squares. Then slice each square in half lengthwise through the center forming two flat squares (not two little fat rectangles).

3) Place the tempeh in a 2 quart baking dish and pour the marinade over the top. Gently toss the tempeh around to coat in the marinade and cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.

4) Mix the arrowroot or corn starch and water together in a small bowl and set aside.

5) As the tempeh bakes prepare the slaw by sprinkling 1/4 tsp. sea salt, the vinegar, and the toasted sesame oil over the thinly sliced cabbage (you could also use a bagged slaw mix from the grocery store) and tossing it together. Set aside.

6) Also prepare the Sriracha mayo in a small bowl by whisking the Veganaise and Sriracha hot sauce or chile garlic paste together in a small bowl. Set aside. You can also slice open your rolls at this point.

7) When the tempeh has baked for 15 minutes, remove the foil, give the arrowroot/water mixture one last whisk and pour it over the tempeh sauce (try to pour it into the spots where the sauce is visible). Use a fork to try to mix the arrowroot into the sauce a bit. Flip the tempeh patties over with a spatula and return to the oven, uncovered, for an additional 10-15 minutes to let the sauce thicken a bit.

8) To assemble the sandwiches, spread the Sriracha mayo over the tops and bottoms of each roll. Place a tempeh patty on the bottom half of each roll and top the tempeh with some of the slaw. Place the top of the roll over the slaw and secure with a toothpick or some similar device.

This makes 4 sandwiches.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Liquid Sunshine (Green Juice)

Sorry to be annoying, but you need a juicer for this recipe and you need one that can juice greens. Good juicers are pricey, but I figured most chronic diseases are even more costly so a few years ago I decided to invest in my family's health and get a juicer. Everything I read always posits green juice as one of the most beneficial health foods. Greens just can't be beat, they are so jam packed with nutrients. Juicing is a delicious and easy way to get loads of greens into your diet. Some people complain about the taste of green juice, but if you ask me this tastes like summertime, warm breezes, sunshine, and happiness.

1 bunch of kale, collards or other dark green (warning: mustard greens are disgusting in this), about 10 leaves (you can juice the stems too)
4 ribs celery
1 whole lemon, peel and all
1 medium-small golden beet (or purple if you can't find golden), ends cut off but peel left on
1/2" piece of ginger, washed but not peeled
2 apples - peels, seeds and all

1) Juice all of the ingredients according to the directions for your juicer. I do mine in the order listed above and turn it from low to high for the beet, ginger and apples. Run the vegetables through slowly so you can extract the maximum amount of juice.

2) Stir, transfer to a glass, and enjoy.

This makes 1-2 servings and even kids like it!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cold Soba Salad

This could be as easy as just making the dressing and tossing with the noodles, but you can also add various combinations of vegetables. My favorite vegetables in this salad are thinly sliced shallots and green peas.

Soba noodles are found in the Asian section of most large grocery stores nowadays. They are traditionally made with buckwheat flour, but I've noticed a lot of the brands have part buckwheat flour and part wheat flour. If you can find 100% buckwheat flour soba noodles you should give them a try if you like sea vegetables because they do taste a little like wakame and have an interesting almost slimy texture. The ones that include wheat flour are more mild and grainy.

8 oz. dry soba noodles, cooked according to package directions
1/4 c. seasoned or brown rice vinegar
1/4 c. natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp. (overflowing) shoyu, tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. (or more) sriracha (found in the Asian section of most grocery stores, it's a lovely Asian hot sauce)
Small drizzle each of toasted sesame oil and pure maple syrup
About 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger (optional but really good)
1 thinly sliced shallot or red onion
1/2 c. green peas, thawed by running under hot water in a strainer (if using frozen)

1) Cook the soba noodles according to package directions, drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until the pasta is completely cooled.

2) As the noodles cook, whisk together everything but the vegetables in a large bowl.

3) When the noodles are finished cooking and have been rinsed under cold water add them, along with the peas and shallots, to the dressing and toss to coat.

Eat immediately or chill first. This makes 4-6 servings, depending on how hungry everyone is and what else you're eating.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baked Kimchi Wontons

This is my new favorite appetizer. And may I just say, Asian cultures make the best appetizers in the world (sorry Americans, Italians, and Mexicans). I don't want to toot my own horn, but these are amazing.

1 package extra firm tofu, crumbled
3 Tbsp. shoyu or tamari
3/4 c. minced Kimchi, homemade or store bought
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 a medium red or white onion, minced
8 oz. crimini or shiitake mushrooms, diced
About 18 oz. eggless pot sticker wrappers, about 1 1/2 packages
2 Tbsp. non-dairy milk
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (or black), to garnish, optional
Sweet chile garlic sauce for dipping

1) Crumble the tofu into a mixing bowl with your fingers and then smash it up with a fork or potato masher. Mince and add the kimchi and the shoyu and set aside.

2) Heat the sesame oil in a saute pan and add the scallions, minced onion and mushrooms. Saute over medium heat until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

3) Add the sauteed vegetables to the tofu mixture and mix well.

4) Take a wonton wrapper and wet the entire circumference with your finger dipped in water. Add about 2 tsp. of the tofu mixture to the bottom half of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the mixture, forcing the mixture to stay in the wrapper, and seal the edges by pressing it down with a fork. Repeat until the mixture is used up.

5) Place the finished wontons onto the prepared baking sheets. Rub the tops of the stuffed wontons with a finger dipped in non-dairy milk and then sprinkle the sesame seeds over the tops of the wontons.

6) Bake for 15-20 minutes until just golden brown. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with sweet chile garlic sauce for dipping.

This makes about 10-12 appetizer servings.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Red Beans and Rice

When I first became a vegetarian in college my mainstay was those bags of Zatarain's red beans and rice. In the many, many, many years since college I've come to avoid pre-packaged meals as much as possible. I've often looked at red beans and rice recipes, but reading over ingredient lists I've been left uninspired and I have to admit I've not tried a single one I've looked at. Maybe they all would have been delicious, but I just wasn't motivated by them to try. So, of course, I finally decided to make my own. I don't know how this ingredient list will strike you, but let me assure you it is very delicious. The recipe is not a lot of work, but it does take quite a long time for the beans and rice to cook. For that reason this is an excellent meal to make on the weekend when you have some extra time, then you can use the leftovers for lunches during the week.

About 1 lb. of small red beans (if it's a little over or under that's no big deal), sorted, soaked and rinsed
About 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
6 oz. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. dried oregano
6 c. water, plus more added during the cooking process
1 c. rice
1 scant Tbsp. sea salt
1 pound container of fresh salsa (I got it in the deli section of the grocery store), or 1 recipe Pico de Gallo.

1. Lay the beans out on a large kitchen towel and sort through them removing any debris or discolored, broken, or  malformed beans. Rinse the beans to clean and then place them in a large bowl covered with 2-3 inches of water. Let them soak for at least 6 hours up to overnight. Once they have soaked, rise them in a strainer and set aside.

2. When the beans have been soaked and rinsed heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and let it saute until soft, about 7 minutes.

3. When the onion is soft add the tomato paste, mustard and oregano. Let the tomato paste melt as you stir the mixture around to evenly coat all of the onions.

4. Once the tomato paste is distributed evenly over the onions add the beans and about 6 cups of hot water, or enough to cover the beans by about 2-3 inches, and bring to a boil.

5. Let the beans cook at medium boil (not a gentle simmer) for about 2 hours until they are completely soft, stirring occasionally and adding more hot water when it starts to evaporate too much. You want to keep the beans submerged in a lot of liquid so that they have room to move around in the pot and cook evenly.

6. When the beans are fully cooked but not falling apart, add 1 c. of rinsed brown rice and a little more water if necessary. Let it cook for 45 minutes longer, partially covered, and stir occasionally but keep an eye on it because you'll start letting the water evaporate at this point to form a thick sauce.

Here the salsa has just been added.
7. As the mixture boils only add more water at this point if it is about to dry out, but just enough to keep it boiling without drying out. Keep stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan at this point to avoid burning. When the rice is fully cooked, after about 45 minutes, add the entire container of fresh salsa and let it cook for 15 minutes longer as the liquid continues to evaporate into a thick sauce.

This is how thick the sauce should be.
 This makes 6-8 servings and tastes lovely topped with fresh Guacamole.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Quick Pickle Red Onions

I eat these like popcorn when I make them. Even if you don't want to make them to eat as a snack on their own, they are great on tacos, wraps, sandwiches or salads. In my opinion, these have just the right balance of tangy, salty and sweet. I love them on corn tortillas with Black Beans, Guacamole, and Scotch Bonnet Salsa.

1 c. cold water
1 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. unrefined sugar
1 large or 2 small red onions

1) Whisk everything but the onions together in a glass container large enough to hold the liquid and the onion (I use a pyrex 4 c. measuring cup)

2) Slice the onion into thin strips. You could do rings, or any shape you want, I just think strips are the easiest shape to deal with.

3) Place the onions into the liquid and weight them down with a small glass or ceramic object (such as a small plate, bowl or lid). Let the onions sit at room temperature in the liquid for 1-5 hours.

4) Drain the onions in a strainer and briefly rinse them off in cool water. Store the onions in a glass container in the fridge for at least a week, maybe longer.

This makes about 2 c. of onion pickles depending on the size of your onion. The photo to the right is of my taco spread with pickled red onions.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Kimchi Tofu Scramble

I've been keeping a secret this winter. I never thought I was superstitious until I considered sharing my secret and realized that I was afraid I would jinx it if I said it out loud. So I'm not going to say it out loud, I'm just going to quietly type it. The flu has been going around this winter, and from my understanding it's pretty nasty. I was fully expecting our family to get infected, but we never did. In fact, most of us have not even gotten a cold this winter. With two kids in elementary school and a toddler who puts everything in her mouth, including other people's tooth brushes, I couldn't figure out how we were avoiding getting sick. Then I realized that it's probably from eating fermented foods so much.

My husband and I eat lacto fermented sour kraut, kimchi, curtido or jalapenos several times per week. My daughters eat lacto fermented cucumber pickles almost every day. The fermentation process develops the good bacteria that help to build the bacteria colony in your gut (which I heard likened to a second brain in a TED Talk recently). If you have a well developed bacteria colony in your gut, you are able to obtain maximum nutrition from the foods you eat during the digestion process which may enable your body to fight illness because it's not lacking in nutrition. I think this is what has kept us from getting sick.

You can find lacto fermented kimchi (and other products) in the refrigerated section of most health food stores, but they are very expensive. I think they're so costly because they need to remain refrigerated and cannot sit in hot warehouses or trucks. At least that's the only reason for the high price that I can come up with because they're extremely inexpensive to make yourself. For this recipe I add the kimchi at the last moment after the greens have been wilted to just heat it through so as not to kill the good bacteria with high heat. It's best to prep everything before you start cooking because the dish goes quickly once you start adding things to the pan.

2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 small onion (any color), diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
10-12 mushrooms (crimini, button or shiitake work well), diced
White or black pepper to taste
1 lb. firm or extra firm tofu, crumbled to look like scrambled eggs with your fingers
1 Tbsp. fermented Korean bean paste or chile garlic paste
2 1/2 Tbsp. shoyu or tamari 
1/2-1 c. Kimchi, home made or store bought
5-6 leaves kale (or other green), thinly chopped

1) Slice the vegetables and have them ready to add. Rinse the tofu and pat it dry. Preheat the sesame oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.

2) Add the scallions, onions and diced stalks of your greens (if you're using a hearty green like kale, collards, gai lan or broccoli) and onions and a bit of white or black pepper. Toss to combine and let the onions cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

3) Add the tofu by crumbling it with your fingers into the pan and toss to combine. let the mixture cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, then add the mushrooms, toss and cook for another 3 minutes.

4) Add the fermented Korean bean paste (or chile garlic paste) and shoyu or tamari and toss it around to dissolve the paste into the scramble and coat everything with the sauce.

5) Add the greens and cook until wilted (kale or gai lan will take longer than spinach or watercress).

6) Once the greens have just wilted add the minced kimchi and toss to combine everything well. Remove from the heat once the kimchi is warmed and serve. 

This serves 4 and looks nice garnished with black or tan sesame seeds and minced fresh chives.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Curried White Bean Spread

In my Indian Chickpea Salad post I likened that salad to a deconstructed hummus. I like that salad so much that I decided to reconstruct it into a white bean spread/dip. You can use this like hummus. I like using cannellini beans rather than chickpeas (aka: garbanzos) for this dip because they get smoother and creamier. You could also try navy beans.

3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice (I like it better with the vinegar)
2 Tbps. water, plus more for thinning during mixing if necessary
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans (or 2 cups cooked)
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. curry powder (hot, sweet, whatever you want)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. tahini
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1) Place all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender or a food processor and mix until fully combined and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add more water 1 Tbsp. at a time to facilitate blending if necessary.

2) Taste and add more curry, vinegar or lemon, or salt if needed.

This makes about 2 cups of bean spread.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup

Recently I had what I can only call the one true tomato soup that I have ever enjoyed. However, upon later reflection I realized that it probably had cream in it and I just didn't realize it at the time. So, of course, this prompted me to create my own version of a creamy tomato soup, and what better way to get a nice, rich flavor than by roasting the ingredients first?

2 containers Pomi diced tomatoes, or 2 28 oz. cans whole or crushed tomatoes
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. dried parsley
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. dried rosemary
3/4 tsp. dried basil
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. black pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 c. vegetable broth
2 c. plain milk alternative such as soy, almond or oat (don't use anything too thin like rice milk)

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the tomatoes, onion, herbs, salt and pepper into a 2-3 quart baking dish and toss to mix. Roast the mixture for 3 hours. Add the garlic after the first our and then stir the mixture every 20 minutes after the first hour (this ensures even roasting and keeps the top bits from burning).

2) When the mixture is done roasting let it cool a bit and then transfer to a blender and blend until completely smooth.

3) Add the mixture to a large soup pot along with the vegetable broth and milk alternative. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary.

This makes 4-6 servings and would go excellently with homemade Garlic Bread, Spicy Kale Chips, Sauteed Italian flavored Tofurkey pieces, cured olives, a salad or Pizza. 

The photo to the left is so that you can see the Pomi tomato product I used. I find it in the "Natural Foods" section of my local grocery store. I like this product because it's not in a BPA lined can.