Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Vegetarian Saltado with Tempeh

I love Peruvian food. And I love Tempeh. I know there are many, many people who would agree with the first sentence. And I suspect I’ve lost many of you at the second sentence. I know Tempeh can be a polarizing food; either you love it or you hate it. I imagine the people who can’t stand it have a hard time getting past the deeply bitter aftertaste that is incredibly hard to correct for or cook out of it, no matter how you prepare it. The main flavors in this dish are rich, tart, sweet and salty, so I thought it would be a fabulous combination to bring tempeh’s satisfying nuttiness to the fore while vastly muting its off putting bitterness. The vinegar and soy sauce marinade, crispy fatty fries and sweet peppers complimented the tempeh in exactly the way I had hoped. I did not taste a trace of the bitterness, but it's nuttiness shone through.

Saltado is a stir fry typically made with beef and served with french fries. The sauce is made with vinegar and soy sauce, as well as a pinch of a pepper used widely in Peruvian food, Ají Amarillo. It is a stir fry from Peru in the Chifa tradition, a culinary tradition which merges Cantonese cuisine with traditional Peruvian dishes. Chifa originated in Peru with a growing number of Chinese immigrants from the southern China province of Guangdong around the turn of the 20th century. It is a popular enough culinary tradition that Chifa restaurants can be found in many parts of Peru.

This dish is a flavorful, fantastic option for meatless Mondays. As well it is a perfect thing to serve to impress a vegan or vegetarian guest.


I used store bought frozen french fries, which you can choose to bake or deep fry I chose to deep fry it to bring the fat content to a satisfying level. If you bake them toss them in plenty of olive oil, since the fatty fries really complete this dish (the vinegar marinade cuts through that richness just perfectly).

If tempeh is still not your thing, fear not. I'll be posting a traditional version here sometime in October

Tempeh Saltado

1 lb tempeh, cut into 1/4" slices
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly
3 small roma tomatoes, ribs and seeds removed and sliced into strips lengthwise
2 large russet potatoes, cut into fries*
1/4 cup vinegar
2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 Tablespoon sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon Ají Amarillo pepper paste (or hot sauce of choice)
Fresh Black Pepper, to taste
To make marinade, whisk together vinegar, Ají paste, soy sauce, oils, sesame seeds, garlic and season with pepper. Lay tempeh, onions and peppers into a wide bowl. Pour marinade over tempeh and veggies and toss gently to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for one hour. Meanwhile deep fry potatoes, or bake them according to package directions; whichever you prefer. (If you bake them toss them in plenty of olive oil, since the fat on the fries is what really makes this dish as the vinegar marinade cuts through that richness just perfectly). Set potatoes aside on a paper towel lined plate. Heat a wok or large saucepan to medium high and toss in tempeh, veggies, tomatoes and marinade. Saute, stirring frequently, until onions are cooked through and peppers have softened. Serve over rice and topped with a handful of french fried potatoes.
*I used 1/2 bag trader joes handsome cut fries from the freezer section

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Labor Day Recipes: Onion Balsamic Relish and Beer Braised Carrots

Have you been invited to a bbq and don't know what to bring? This post is going to help you out with that! try bringing a sweet and tart savory onion relish or a fancy-ish side dish of beer braised carrots. Everyone loves beer, right? Both dishes are vegan and the relish makes a great topping for veggie burgers or tofu hot dogs (I can personally vouch for this, since we tried it as a topping on the latter and it was scrumptious), but don't let that stop you from piling the relish on your beef burger, hot dog or sausage or helping yourself to some carrots alongside your steak or bbq chicken!

Since I haven't posted in awhile, enjoy two recipes at once!
Deglazing caramelized onions with balsamic vinegar enhances their sweetness and at the same time imparts a lovely, subtle tart flavor that keeps the relish from tasting too sweet or too one note.
The braised carrots were inspired by Lisa’s fabulous traditional rosemary and garlic braised carrots, which are one of the many delicious recipes in our very first foodies+ collaborative cookbook, Foodies+ Christmas Around the World. Seeing how lovely carrots can be sauteed and then braised with the right aromatics inspired me to experiment with the vegetable. I decided to try braising them in beer on a whim, since no bbq is complete without beer! Just a touch of beer will lend its bitterness to the sweet carrots and balance out the slight vegetal taste that tends to put many people off of the vegetable.

Onion Balsamic Relish

Makes 10 ounces

5 onions, diced finely
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Heat a medium heavy bottomed saucepan over medium flame. Add olive oil, then onions. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Turn heat down to medium low and sauté until onions brown (about 30 minutes).
3. Add balsamic and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has been absorbed. As you cook the vinegar in, try to scrape up any browned bits from the pan to add more flavor to your relish.

Serve warm with bbq item of your choice.

Beer Braised Carrots

Makes 6 side servings

8 carrots, sliced thinly
2 ounces India pale ale, or similar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, julienned
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. In a medium saucepan over medium flame, add olive oil and sauté onions until they begin to soften (about 3 minutes).
2. Add carrots and sauté until they have begun to soften and have caramelized (roughly 15 minutes ).
3. Add beer and cook until liquid is absorbed (about 10 minutes).
Serve as a side or bring to a bbq as a side.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Creamy Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry (Chana Gobi)

This recipe will delight both vegetarians and curry lovers alike. If you fall in the center of that venn diagram, you are probably about to do a happy dance. For those of you seeking a way to mask your vegetables, creamy Chana Gobi delivers. The sauce is fragrant and creamy, made richer and thicker by the addition of yogurt and irresistible by the inclusion of mouthwatering spices. As spicy curries go, this one is certainly on the milder side. If you would like to bump up the heat level, add a diced chili of your choice in with the onions.

I specifically chose a cauliflower in our farm basket because my husband and I have agreed to cut down on our meat consumption, which left me scrambling to find dinners that are filling and substantive. I love Aloo Gobi and wanted to do something similar, but to add protein I decided to sub the potatoes for chickpeas. Soft, creamy chickpeas are wonderful in combination with sweet, crunchy cauliflower. The creamy tomato gravy, just a touch tart and very flavorful, provides a delicious backdrop.

Chana Gobi

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and parboiled 3 minutes in salted water
1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large heirloom tomato, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup crushed tomato
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup half n half (or 1/4 c milk & 1/4 c cream)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, julienned
1 ½ inch piece of ginger, peeled & grated
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 bay leaf
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Chopped cilantro, for garnish

In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add in olive oil, onions and a pinch of salt. Sweat onions until they begin to brown (5 minutes).
Add spices, garlic, bay leaf and ginger. Cook for 90 seconds, stirring constantly. Add in chopped tomatoes, and when their moisture has cooked out (about 3 minutes), add crushed tomatoes, then mix in yogurt and half n half.
Add in chickpeas and cauliflower. Stir to coat. Cover and bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes to thicken sauce.
Serve garnished with chopped cilantro and accompanied by steamed long grain rice.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Norman Scrambled Eggs

I haven’t been blogging much. Our lives have been hectic and sadly last month my grandfather passed away at 87. He was such a smart, successful cultured man who loved his six grandchildren fiercely. Did I mention he was funny? Well, he could be just as serious as he was funny, but when he told a joke he had a warm, infectious grin.
We spent nearly every summer with my grandparents on Long Island and although my grandmother did nearly all of the cooking, my grandfather would sometimes make us a special scrambled egg dish for breakfast that we referred to as Norman scrambled eggs. It started simply: he would add bacos (crunchy fake bacon bits that are popular in some places as a salad topping) to his fluffy, moist scrambled eggs. One year he started a vegetable garden and we began to add his homegrown cherry tomatoes to the eggs at the very end of cooking.
When I went away to college I would often make “Norman Scrambled Eggs” to combat bouts of homesickness. Over the course of my schooling I began adding onions. I made it for him with onions that next summer and he proclaimed it delicious. With Norman scrambled eggs on my mind I added some Heirloom Tomatoes to my farm share box. Because I’m fancy and because I had some to use up, I’ve subbed out the bacos for bacon (see notes) I felt the eggs were silkier because I then used the rendered bacon fat to cook them.

I served mine with a potato rösti made with schmaltz and some fluffy blueberry pancakes for dessert (blueberries were also in my farm share box). Dinner for breakfast is popular in our family.

Norman Scrambled Eggs

Serves 3

6 jumbo eggs
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
3 slices bacon, chiffonaded
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 medium Heirloom Tomato, diced
Small pinch of salt
Pepper, to taste

1. Whisk together eggs, cream, milk and salt. Season with a small pinch pepper.
2. In a pan over medium high heat, fry off bacon until thoroughly crispy. Remove bacon from pan and set on a paper towel lined plate to drain. There will be some rendered bacon fat in the pan. Turn the heat to medium and add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent.
3. Add the eggs, stirring or whisking constantly. When eggs have started to set, remove from heat for a few seconds, long enough for it to stop cooking somewhat. Return them to the stove, still whisking constantly. Add the tomatoes. Repeat the process until eggs are set but still moist; you’re going for a fluffy but creamy consistency (a little like custard).

Serve with breakfast potatoes or a side salad.

Notes: If you don’t eat meat or don’t eat pork I think McCormick sells the fake bacon bits and they’re called something like bac’n pieces. You’ll want to use about 1 Tablespoon of butter in place of the bacon fat to saute the onions and cook the scrambled egg.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thyme Roasted Zucchini and Carrot Cassoulet

Since this is in fact vegetarian, it is a stretch to call it a cassoulet. I’ve used white beans, finished it with a buttery crumb topping and for the first time ever cooked my beans entirely in the oven, so perhaps we could just say that is inspired by a cassoulet. Heavily. We can also say of this baked bean dish that it is absolutely delicious. If I could have this every day I might be persuaded to give up meat. Maybe. Except for bacon.

Thyme Roasted Zucchini and Carrot Cassoulet

1 lb great northern, cannellini or navy beans
1 cup mirepoix
1/2 leek, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons minced Italian (flat leaf) parsley
32 ounces vegetable stock
1 can chopped tomatoes (400g)
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon thyme leaves + 5 sprigs
2 zucchini, sliced into 1" thick pieces
4 small carrots, in 1" slices
3 ounces olive oil
1 bay leaf
Salt, to taste
Pepper to taste

Crumb topping:

1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 Tablespoons butter

Soak the beans covered in 6 - 8 cups cold water a minimum of 8 hours. Preheat oven to 450. Strip 3 thyme sprigs of leaves and discard stems. Melt the 1 Tablespoon butter. Toss the zucchini and carrots with butter and thyme, salt and pepper and lay in a single layer on a baking sheet. Lay two remaining thyme sprigs in the center. Roast for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Turn oven down to 325.
In a dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat, add olive oil. Add mirepoix, leeks, parsley, thyme and a little salt and pepper. Cook until translucent​ (3 minutes). Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, one minute. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Add wine to deglaze. Scrape to get the caramelized bits off of the bottom. Cook for 5 minutes. Add stock, drained beans, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf and water to cover beans. Cover pot and cook in the oven for 2 hours. Meanwhile, make the crumb topping: melt butter and combine with breadcrumbs and thyme, a small touch of salt and pepper. Carefully remove dutch oven, and mix in roasted zucchini and carrots. Turn the heat up to 350. Top with a layer of breadcrumbs and return to the oven uncovered. Bake until the breadcrumbs turn golden (approx 15 - 20 minutes).

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mozzarella in Carrozza (inspired post)

I learned about this magnificent cross between a grilled cheese and savory monte cristo from Andrew Zimmern’s fascinating post on Google+. I usually write my own recipes, but I really loved the flavors he put into it, so I used his recipe as a guide with a few minor touches of my own. His recipe is a departure from the original dish as it is enjoyed in Campania: he makes a salty, herbaceous spread to cut the richness of the cheese and rather than batter it in egg and then breadcrumbs he makes a thin egg and flour batter. I have yet to try it the traditional way, although I definitely plan to have a go at it, but I particularly loved the sound of his recipe and I was almost convinced to try making them myself. Almost. Until Paul posted his recipe for homemade tomato soup during Foodies+ cheese month and I knew it would be a match made in heaven.

When you are making these lovely, crunchy, flavorful sandwiches, you’ll want to cover the pan with a lid so that the cheese gets all melty. And luscious. I’ve cut Mr. Zimmern’s recipe down from 6 sandwiches to 4 and I’ve made other changes. I’ll include the link below so you can compare the two.

Mozzarella in Carrozza
1. Make the spread: in a small saucepan, saute shallots in olive oil until they begin to soften (about 3 minutes). Add pepper and anchovies and cook, stirring frequently, until anchovies have dissolved. Add tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes to marry flavors and slightly rehydrate. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
2. Meanwhile, make the batter: whisk together eggs and flour, and then add cold water, a little at a time, until it is the consistency of crepe batter (think thin pancake batter). Set aside.
3. Finish spread by mixing parsley in. Assemble sandwiches: evenly divide the spread between four slices of bread. Top the other four slices with an even layer of mozzarella slices and cover cheese with spread slathered bread, spread side inward. One or two at a time (to avoid pan overcrowding), carefully dip each assembled sandwich in batter. Carefully flip to cover each side.
4. Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed saucepan over low-medium heat. Lay sandwich(es) in in a single layer. Cover pan with a lid and cook for 4 minutes. Flip each one, cover, and cook for an additional 4 minutes.

Serve and enjoy for dinner, lunch or a decadent late night snack.

Andrew Zimmern's Mozzarella in Carrozza: https://plus.google.com/+AndrewZimmern/posts/anfNmDKDFCu

Notes: if you are using sundried tomatoes preserved in olive oil you can use the olive oil they’re preserved in (as I did).

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Beef, Black Bean & Roasted Sweet Potato Chili

I have already written a chili recipe, which is a hearty, healthy and satisfying meal. However, I recently became inspired eating at the cafes at my husband's work. He is lucky enough to work for a company which not only feeds its employees for free, but also has many fabulous gourmet cafes to choose from. Some of the 23 cafes my husband's company sustains are open for breakfast and dinner and all are open for lunch. Since he is allowed the occasional guest for a meal I have sampled the food from a few cafes and can attest to its remarkable quality and diversity. One thing most of the cafes seem to do is soup or chili. This sweet potato and black bean chili is one that pops up from time to time. It usually features quinoa instead of beef, but my family loves their red meat, so I've changed it up.

Why try this chili? Well, while it is savory it has just a touch of sweet, courtesy of the sweet potatoes and cinnamon. Far from being a handicap it enhances the rich beef tallow and the starchy beans and is delightfully reminiscent of a rich mole sauce. We love it and it makes a perfect quick meal, garnished with crema (Mexican sour cream) and sprinkled with cotija cheese. I usually serve it with cornbread, but you can serve it with just about any starch.

Beef, Black Bean and Roasted Sweet Potato Chili

1 lb 85/15 ground beef
2 (15 oz) cans organic black beans in their liquid
1 1/2 sweet potatoes diced & roasted (see notes)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 a yellow onion, julienned
1 Tablespoon butter, melted (see notes)
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
Tiny pinch Cayenne (see notes)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. heat a dutch oven or heavy bottomed large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions and saute until they begin to caramelize.

2. Add spices and cook for another minute. Add beef, season with salt and pepper and break it up into small bits. Cook until thoroughly browned.
3. Add tomato paste, beans in their liquid and about 20 ounces of water.
4. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes to thicken, stirring occasionally.
5. Add sweet potato, cover, and simmer until fully cooked (about 5 minutes).
Serve drizzled with crema and sprinkled with cotija cheese alongside cornbread.

Notes: to roast sweet potatoes: preheat oven to 400. Dice sweet potato and toss with butter and Cayenne. Spread on a cookie sheet in an even layer. Bake until slightly undercooked according to your preference (~20 minutes).