Tag Archives: vegetarian

Roasted Cauliflower – Too Delicious to Ignore

Roasting cauliflower is akin to transforming an unappreciated commoner like Eliza Dolittle into an empress. Perhaps I should mention that I never had anything against cauliflower – I just never sought it out before now.

I happened to somehow end up with three or four cauliflower at once – so…what to do? Yes, why not try roasting? Brings out the sweetness of the vegetable and gives it a great texture. Yummy, yummy. I’ve decided it will be a non-guilty pleasure, what with the all vitamin C and other nutritional goodness it represents as a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables.

cauliflower slathered in olive oil and salt

on the grill/cookie sheet

roasted cauliflower

Ingredients/Tools:

  1. 2 cauliflowers;
  2. approximately 1/4 cup of oil;
  3. salt;
  4. mixing bowl/zippered plastic bag; and
  5. toaster oven.

Directions:

  1. Set your toaster oven to broil. While that’s getting hot, get into the prep.
  2. Break off the cauliflower florets and slice the largest into quarters, cross-wise.
  3. Pour some oil into the zippered bag, then add 2 teaspoons of salt.
  4. Add the florets and shake the bag! Cover all the florets with this oil mixture.
  5. Pop the cauliflower pieces into the toaster oven. (I did this in 2 batches, 30 minutes apiece).

It’s so easy. What about sauces? I was thinking about glazing the cauliflower with some miso butter – haven’t gotten around to doing that, mostly eating it just roasted. Squeezed some home-grown lemons (gift from a friend) onto the roasted cauliflowers with some dashes of soy sauce – worked great!

Miso Butter Asparagus Tart Experiment (why does David Chang have to be an evil genius?)

Miso. Butter. Uh…those are the ingredients for…miso butter. This is why David Chang is an evil genius. Way back when he was just a non-famous kid*, learning all about ramen in Japan, he happened upon the Sapporo stylings of miso ramen: finished off with a “knob” of butter and some corn. David notices the flavor combo is  crazy good.  He and his friends abbreviate the flavor insanity to miso + butter. Well,  I have both butter and miso in the fridge, so why not? Doesn’t cost me anything.

What does miso butter taste like? It tastes so good it’s just WRONG!!! The umami in the butter melds with that of the miso to create this uber-umami whirlwind of deliciousness.

He has a fancy recipe for poached eggs with miso butter on asparagus, in his Momofuku book – I decided to try something more basic, elemental: why not just go for the miso butter as the major taste?

Miso Butter Asparagus Tart

Ingredients: (these are very very approximate measurements, due to this being an experiment)

  • 1 yellow onion;
  • two or three handfuls of asparagus pieces**;
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry;
  • 1 tablespoon of dark miso; and
  • 2 tablespoons of butter.

Slice a whole yellow onion and saute until translucent. Allow to cool completely.  Wash and slice the asparagus spears. If they are thicker than 1/3″, you may want to halve them.

Take the puff pastry out of the freezer and allow to thaw for the required time. Cut the puff pastry into modest rectangles (like 3″x2″) – I was using Pepperidge Farms puff pastry, which yields about 12 pieces. Transfer the pieces to a cookie sheet.

Melt the butter in the microwave – try it like 15 seconds at a time – and mix in the miso. Mix. Mix. Mix. Baste the miso butter onto the puff pastry with a brush. Put a thin layer of carmelized onion onto the pastry. Then top with the asparagus pieces. Baste the asparagus with yet more miso butter.

Set your oven to 425 Fahrenheit. (I fiddled with the temperature, all the way down to 350 at one point). Bake. Remove once the puff pastry has puffed (about 15 ~ 20 minutes, depending on how heavy the asparagus and onions are).

Remove, and wait for praise and adoration!!!

Notes – I cooked this in an oven with a see-thru door to help keep a vigilant eye over the tarts so that they did not burn too much. The miso burns mercilessly fast.

Taster Feedback:

One taster (who weighs no greater than 110 lbs, I believe) ate portions intended for three adults in one sitting! One taster complained that the tart should be more attractive, perhaps with carrot or something pretty. One taster liked the flakiness of the pastry and the nice taste of the asparagus and how it was all bound together with the miso. All tasters eagerly ate MULTIPLE servings!

* His dad ran golf businesses and David played competitive golf as a kid…I guess he had to get out because he could read the writing on the wall when Tiger Woods‘ face would be on the brochures…for the tournaments he was competing in!

** The asparagus in the picture consists only of the tips because I had used the stems for another dish. I was lucky enough to find it on sale for under $2.00 per pound during a weekly special. You could probably swap in summer squash or even scallions for a more frugal take.

P.S. Here’s a link to the Kitchen Window story from yesterday that has some background info on miso (and hastened my decision to post about my miso butter experiment)!

Low-Carb Experiment #1: Tofu Bok Choy Hot Salad

Is there anything good about carbs? Results from a recent study suggest that a low-carb diet may be better for your heart than a low-fat diet. I guess you need them at times for quick energy…but last time I checked, my work tends to be about sitting at a desk, and less about running after animals or other more athletic pursuits. So, I’m eating fewer carbs.

One of my favorite preparations of tofu, yudofu,  is nearly zero preparation at all: slice a tofu cake into large-ish pieces; simmer in some water* to soften; serve with rice and garnishes of katsuobushi, sliced green onions, and soy sauce. That’s it! I love the simple, beany flavor of the tofu that is inexplicably sturdy enough to stand up to these aggressive garnishes. Hint: make sure you really like the tofu you are using, because you definitely be tasting it. This is not a matter of hiding or camouflaging it!

That spirit of simplicity made me think of eating tofu with gingery bok choy. Mainly because I bought a ton of baby bok choy and tofu in the fridge. I’m going to call this a hot salad.

Hot Tofu and Bok Choy Salad**


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of baby bok choy, sliced into halves; (about $.85, since it was $1.69/ lb at ye olde Ranch 99 Market);
  • 1/2 cake of tofu, torn into large pieces; (about $.45 at $.89 for 1 cake);
  • 1/2 cubic inch of ginger sliced into matchsticks (pennies, $1.59/lb);
  • soy sauce (pennies); and
  • vegetable oil.

(total cost per serving: .45 + .85 + miscellaneous pennies for soy sauce and ginger = 1.30 + X = under $1.50 per serving.)

The baby bok choy cook very quickly. Wash them. Halve them. Heat up a skillet. Slice the ginger into small, matchstick-like pieces. Once the skillet is medium hot, throw 1 teaspoon of veggie oil in the middle of the skillet. Spread the oil by lifting and angling the pan (or just smearing the oil with a bit of paper towel). Throw the sliced ginger into it. (I always love the smell of frying ginger!) Let the ginger cook for about 2 minutes, flipping it with a spatula a few times. This will infuse the oil with the fabulousness of the ginger. Throw the baby bok choy into the skillet. It will wilt immediately. Cover the skillet with a lid, and turn off the heat. You are basically steaming the veggies.

Next, open a package of medium-firm tofu. Tear the tofu with your hands, into large-ish pieces. I just like the way the torn tofu looks for this dish…you can of course cut it into cubes. Put the tofu on a plate and…microwave it! Yes, I said, microwave it – it’s already cooked, so it’s now just a matter of heating it up. This prep is the ultimate in laziness! Depending on the strength of your microwave, this might be for 1 minute to 90 seconds. Ladle the bok choy, with whatever gingery-liquids that developed in the skillet, onto the tofu. Drizzle generous amounts of soy sauce. Done.

When I ate this, I felt strangely satisfied. It’s very plain, but for me, tofu is a comfort food. Can’t get much simpler than this!

* I guess some use dashi – but I’m accustomed simmering it in plain old water.

** If there is such a thing as a roast beef salad, I think I can name this a salad too. The word “salad” is rooted in the use of salt to flavor veggies.

Mango Kanten

I am falling in love with kanten all over again. Summer = = cool, fruity desserts. Like mango kanten! Sometimes mango kanten comes out like this:

Mango No Kantent (mango pudding)

And that’s fine. It’s actually quite pudding-like. But, I kinda like it to be firmer, more like yokan.*

Mango Kanten

  • 1 can of sweetened mango puree ($3.49 for 30 oz – I used Ashoka, a brand sold in Indian markets);
  • 2 cups of water;
  • 4 grams of powdered kanten (about $.50 worth);
  • sugar to taste (optional); and
  • lime slices (optional).

Boil the water. Add the puree. Mix, mix, mix. Once the temperature rises again to barely a simmer, add the powder. Mix, mix, mix. You want to avoid lumping! Taste it. Add sugar/sweetener if necessary. Pour into a 9″ pie plate (it will just barely fit). Let it cool to room temperature. Then cover with wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Cut it into squares and serve. Makes a lot…at least eight or nine servings (turns out to be about $.50 per serving or less). Squeeze a bit of lime if you have it – I kinda like the contrast with the dense mango flavor.

*One of these days, I will have to make a tea-flavored yokan (photo displayed here by kind permission of ya ma):

P.S. I had no idea that people prepare kanten in Mumbai…interesting!

P.P.S. Here is some gratuitous food porn, of castella (fantabulous Japanese dessert by way of the Portuguese):

It’s something you can enjoy even if it’s cold and gloomy out!

I love sweets, but, I don’t make very many…I guess I’m trying to be more daring about my desserts! So, here are some other recipes I’ve blogged about that are perfect for you if you are a novice like me:

My Mom’s Kohi Kanten – Coffee Pudding (Vegan – and about $.10 per serving!)

Kanten…so many reasons I love it:

  1. it’s a naturally ZERO calorie food. That’s right. I said, ZERO!
  2. it’s filling and yet not wiggly-jiggly (unlike gelatin);
  3. even the laziest prep yields yummilicious results; and
  4. I grew up eating it!

Below is a picture of agar agar in stick form.

At any Asian market you can find premixed packets of almond kanten for less than 2 or 3 dollars – really tasty with even the least interesting fruit cocktail. Growing up, we had that all the time. Perfect summertime dessert. Nice and cool! But avoid buying agar agar at Whole Foods. I have seen the Eden versions for almost 6 dollars!!! You should be able to buy the stick agar agar for $2.00 or less per 10 grams (.35 oz). the urban vegan recommends buying the stick format and sticking the sticks into the food processor to make flakes.* I’m used to the stick forms, but, I think this is a great tip for people accustomed to the flake format. Also, people can get quite glamorous with agar agar (also known as kanten in Japanese). I am stockpiling ideas for what do with it. And coffee kanten is a classic (kohi = coffee in Japanese). So here it is!

Mom’s Kohi Kanten

  • 2 cups of boiling coffee – sweeten to taste (pennies);
  • 5 grams of powdered agar agar (about 1/2 of a stick of agar agar – about $.50 worth); and
  • coconut milk – this is optional (about 10 teaspoons – roughly 1/4th of a 13 oz can – $1.59 = $.40 cents worth).

Dissolve the agar agar in the boiling hot coffee in a saucepot. Mix mix mix. Add your sweetener. Mix. Pour the piping hot mixture into a pie plate. Alright, just cover and chill it for about 2 hours. Done. It’s traditional to cut it into squares (as you see above). Splash on a teaspoon of coconut milk per serving. If you have them around, put a roasted coffee bean on top. Makes eight~ ten servings, depending on the size (less than $.10 per serving – half of that if you do not use the coconut milk of course). Be sure to have this with some lovely tea!

(you can also cool it into cute little cups for individual servings)

* the urban vegan’s post is actually VERY helpful for gaining a good understanding of agar agar. Read it and let the erudition flow!

P.S. I don’t really follow diet news, so, maybe someone can tell me if there are any standards for what is “low-carb”? My very casual research shows me that the FDA hasn’t made a decision yet, but, I’m guessing that might not be the latest info.

Update: VegCookingBlog, thanks for linking to this post! My stats are blowing up 🙂 !!!! I’ve also written a post on making Mango Kanten.

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Housekeeping notes:

(1) I’ve added a “Tips” page to the blog to park handy things I learn about (and/or blog about). For example, last week, limes went on sale – 10 for a dollar. So…I’m not going to use ten in a given week…and they don’t last forever…but they can last longer if you slice them and freeze them. Like so:

Might be better to peel skin off – haven’t tried it that way yet. Works grrrrreat in iced tea. (This is a tip contributed by my mom.)

(2) Not sure why, but Feedburner sent off an old post (from April ’07) on May 10. It wasn’t my doing! I’ll try to find out why that happened.

Spinach Frittata. Egg in a Nest. Oven Fried Red Potatoes. Miscellaneous Breakfast Joy

When I made a spinach frittata recently, I let someone, who shall remain nameless, have a “bite.” Somehow, upon my return to the pan, hoping to enjoy the last two tablespoons, the rest of it had disappeared! The explanation: “well, it was so good…” Oh, a little flattery gets you everywhere. Who says crime doesn’t pay!

Spinach (and Bean Salad) Frittata:

  • 2 eggs;
  • 2 egg whites;
  • 2 whopping cups of organic spinach from Costco;*
  • 4 tablespoons of bean salad, drained;**
  • 4 tablespoons of Kraft Parmesan grated cheese; and
  • black pepper, to taste.

Feeds one very very hungry person (me). Plus one interloper. OK, so, I sliced the spinach leaves into a loose chiffonade. While the cast iron skillet heated up to a nice medium high, I beat the eggs together with the spinach, bean salad, cheese, and black pepper. Threw some vegetable oil on there. Then I put it all in the skillet. And then tried to flip it, in parts. That was pretty much it. Probably took me all of 4 or 5 minutes of prep. Might have taken 10 minutes to cook. The bean salad adds sweetness, a nice chewiness, and a great tang that stands up to the spinach nicely.

Egg in the Nest

Also made Egg in the Nest recently, with the help of this lid:

Began like so:

Ended like so:

Now you know when I say you might want to avoid using raisin bread to make Egg in the Nest…well, I lived through the hardship of over-carmelization – so you can learn from my pain…

Red Potato Oven Fries

You buy a sack of potatoes. You have the very best intentions. But how quickly can any human get through a 5lb bag (especially if rice = = primary starch)? The potatoes looked wilted and lame after waiting around with nothing to do for too darn long. I resuscitated them overnight with a dash of vinegar. Vinegar prevents the potatoes from browning. I don’t have the “before.” Just know and trust that the potatoes were less than photogenic.

After:

The next day, I drained and dried them, slathered them in olive oil and a pre-packaged Italian-style herb mix before baking them at 375F for about 1/2 hr. Easy as pie. Freezes and microwaves beautifully. Lovely to have for breakfast, especially with eggs and some fine coffee.

After roasting, then freezing:

*Links you to a 2004 industry article regarding the synergy between Costco’s membership base and the organic agriculture market.

**Since the first time I made it, I find myself making it every few weeks. This last rendition boasted some canned corn.

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

Only for people who want a high fiber, high protein, insanely delicious and cheap snack. Or if you want to get major props. Because people will like them. They will disappear like nobody’s business. And they are way more exciting than popcorn! Since I have that 2kg bag of dried chickpeas, I thought I should find a way to enjoy them. Many, many, many, many, many people love roasted, spicy chickpeas. “Addictive” is the perfect word to describe them. I had no idea. But now I know, and I can never be the same. I encourage you to go forth and seek chickpeas!

Roasted Spicy Chickpeas

  • 1 lb cooked chickpeas(about $.30 cents worth of dried, cooked chickpeas – 1/2 lb or less) ;
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (likely any type of oil would suffice – pennies); and
  • 2 ~ 2 & 1/2tablespoons of seasoning (I used a mixture of Pappy’s and dried cilantro (coriander) – pennies).

Um…but…it’s complicated…first you have to turn on the oven, to about 400…then you have to mix the cooked chickpeas (which you have patted dry) with spices and olive oil…then you pour the beans in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Whew! It’s a lot to think about, but, you can do it! When’s the last time a 3-step recipe yielded you insanely gratifying results?

P.S. Even before roasting, as seen below, they tasted pretty good! But the popular vote was to try roasting…and a good thing was rendered into the hallowed dimensions of fabulousness.

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Other DWTS recipes involving chickpeas (both very inexpensive to prepare – less than $1.00 per serving):

Chana Masala (Chole) and
Madras Chicken Curry.