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Vegetarian

Dinner, Lactose Free, Recipes, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Chinese Smashed Cucumbers with Sesame Oil & Garlic

November 10, 2017

Chinese Smashed CucumbersI’m always on the look out for new and interesting pickle recipes. This quick cucumber pickle caught my eye because it reminds me so much of kimchi. It is savory, crunchy, salty, and the perfect side dish to serve with a bowl of rice and grilled teriyaki chicken, beef, fish, or tofu.

Keiki CukesUse thin-skinned cucumbers such as Keiki Cukes (found locally in Hawaii) or Japanese, Persian, or even English cucumbers.  Cucumbers with few seeds are what you are looking for.

Keiki Cukes

Smashed Keiki CukesIt’s amazing how the seed pockets detach from the cucumbers once they are smashed.  I use my mallet which works perfectly. You can use the blade of a large knife if you don’t have a mallet (or a small skillet).

DressingThe dressing for the cucumbers is simple to prepare.  Mix everything together in a small bowl, set aside until ready to serve.  You could also drizzle this dressing over steamed bok choy, watercress, or blanched bean sprouts.

Chinese Smashed Cucumbers

Chinese Smashed Cucumbers

Chinese Smashed Cucumbers with Sesame Oil & Garlic
 
Adapted from New York Times Cooking
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds thin-skinned cucumbers
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt for dressing plus ¼ teaspoon for cucumbers
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (sometimes I use avocado oil which is milder than olive oil)
  • ½ teaspoon grated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons gochugaru (medium heat Korean chili pepper flakes that have a fruity and slightly smoky flavor) or red chili pepper flakes to taste
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Toasted sesame seeds
Preparation
  1. Rinse cucumbers and pat dry. Cut crosswise into pieces about 4 inches long. Cut each piece in half lengthwise.
  2. Place cucumbers on a cutting board cut side down. Using a mallet or the blade of a knife, smash down lightly until the flesh breaks down a bit and the seeds separate. Slice pieces diagonally into bite-sized pieces leaving seeds behind.
  3. Place cucumber pieces in a strainer over a bowl and toss with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and a few big pinches of sugar. Place a plate or bowl over the cucumbers and weigh it down with something heavy such as a large can of tomatoes. Set aside while you make the dressing.
  4. In a small bowl, combine ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and rice vinegar. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Stir in sesame oil, soy sauce, grated garlic, and Korean chili flakes.
  5. When ready to serve, lightly pat dry cucumbers with paper towels and transfer to a serving bowl. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Stir in half of the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning adding salt if needed. Stir in more dressing so that the cucumbers are well coated. Garnish with cilantro leaves and sesame seeds before serving.

 

Dinner, Fruit, Lactose Free, Recipes, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Crunchy Cabbage & Pomegranate Salad

October 24, 2017


Crunchy Cabbage & Pomegranate Salad

The beautiful pomegranate is in season now which means it’s a good idea to take advantage of their short appearance in your local markets.  If you don’t have plans to use it right away, store the fruit in your refrigerator where it should keep nicely for several weeks.  This simple and refreshing salad is highlighted by pomegranate and is quick to put together with just a few other ingredients.  If you are not a cilantro fan you can certainly omit it, but don’t leave out the mint as it is an integral ingredient that makes this salad stand out.

Cabbage, Tomatoes, Mint & Cilantro

Pomegranate

There are many video’s on how to remove the seeds from the rather bitter membrane that securely surrounds them.  Whichever method you use, beware that pomegranate juice stains so be careful not to get it on your clothing or counter.  It’s best to work with it in the sink.  Once you remove the seeds which are known as arils, you may store them in an airtight container and use them within 5 days.

Pomegranate

Crunchy Cabbage & Pomegranate Salad

Crunchy Cabbage & Pomegranate Salad
 
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups packed thinly sliced green cabbage
  • pinch of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons canola or avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped sweet onion
  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preparation
  1. Toss cabbage with a pinch of sugar and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Combine lemon juice, oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Add chopped onion, tomatoes, mint, cilantro and pomegranate seeds to cabbage. Toss with dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

 

Dinner, Recipes, Sandwiches, Vegetarian

Cheese & Nut Loaf + Burgers

February 8, 2017

Cheese & Nut Loaf

During the holidays last year, I wanted to serve a main dish that would appeal to my vegetarian guests, but also be enjoyable for my other guests as well.  This cheese and nut loaf turned out to be the perfect choice.  It bakes into a gorgeous loaf that looks beautiful and tastes delicious.  You can serve it alone or drizzle a vegetarian mushroom gravy or béchamel sauce over the slices before serving. The recipe comes from Deborah Madison’s The Greens cookbook named after the successful Greens Restaurant in San Francisco that still exists today.  Unfortunately I don’t own the cookbook and it seems to be out of print, but after reading all the great comments on line from those who have made it and having made it myself, I can see why everyone loves it.

Cheese & Nut Burger

My husband John had a great idea, and that was to shape the cheese and nut loaf mixture into patties. This turned out to be our favorite way to eat the cheese and nut loaf.  The burgers bake in just 30 minutes or so and they are so tasty nestled in a hamburger bun and topped with all of your favorite burger condiments.  Another thing I’d like to mention is that both the loaf and burgers freeze beautifully and can be microwaved or pan-fried for another excellent meal.

Cremini & Morel Mushrooms

Use whatever mushrooms are available to you.  I used creminis and morels. These gorgeous morels were sent to us by my stepdaughter Katie who hunts for mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest.

Parsley, Marjoram, Thyme

One of the things I love most about our garden are the assorted herbs that we grow. If you don’t have them, most markets carry a nice assortment of herbs these days but you can also use dried herbs as well.

Patties in Cooking Rings

You will need to cook the brown rice in advance. Otherwise all of the other ingredients can be put together as you prepare the recipe. The mixture is gently formed and patted into baking rings that I made of aluminum foil.  This keeps the patties from spreading when baking (they will flatten and become uneven when baking without the rings).

Baked Cheese & Nut Burgers

Cheese & Nut Burgers

And here we have perfectly shaped plump burgers.

Cheese & Nut Burger

Cheese & Nut Loaf

Cheese & Nut Loaf + Burgers
 
Adapted from Deborah Madison's recipe
Author:
Serves: 1 loaf or 10 - 12 burgers
Ingredients
  • 1½ tablespoons butter
  • 1¼ cups finely diced onion
  • 1 cup (packed) mushrooms, chopped fine
  • 1½ cups walnuts, toasted
  • ½ cup raw unsalted cashews, toasted
  • 2½ tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped marjoram (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage (or ½ heaping teaspoon dried)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1½ cups cooked brown rice
  • 8 ounces grated cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar and yogurt cheese)
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (I used lactose free)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Spread walnuts and cashews on a small rimmed baking sheet and toast until very lightly golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer nuts to a plate to cool slightly. Chop nuts finely and set aside.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.
  4. For the loaf: Butter a 9" loaf pan and line with parchment paper allowing the paper to overhang on the sides to allow easy removal of the loaf.
  5. Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they are translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until they are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir in chopped nuts, herbs, garlic, brown rice, cheese, cottage cheese, and eggs. Mix in salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the loaf pan, smoothing the top lightly.
  6. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before transferring loaf to a plate.
  7. For the burgers: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. The patties will spread and flatten when baking unless you use cooking rings which will keep them uniform in size. I use aluminum foil folded over a few times and stapled the ends together to make sturdy, disposable rings. Coat inside of rings with non-stick cooking spray.
  8. Divide the mixture into 10 - 12 portions. Gently form the patties so they fit snugly in the cooking rings. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the burgers are nicely browned. Remove cooking rings and serve burgers on toasted buns with your favorite accompaniments.
  9. Both the loaf and burgers freeze nicely.
  10. *For 4 - 6 burgers cut the recipe in half. The full recipe will also make an 8x4" loaf plus two burgers.

 

Dinner, Korean, Lactose Free, Pasta, Recipes, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers

December 7, 2016

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers

Cold noodles tossed with crisp vegetables are one of my favorite lunch dishes.  I often make a big bowl of Aunty Ruby’s Somen Salad and take it to work to share with my friends.  This recipe calls for perciatelli or bucatini pasta but I couldn’t resist using delicate somen noodles.  They cook up in 3 minutes and are the perfect partner for the spicy cucumbers.  I found this delightful recipe in Martha Stewart Living magazine. The subject of this particular article was Korean Barbecue and a talented Korean cook, Mrs. Pai.  This is one of her original side dishes.

Somen Noodles

Keiki Cukes

These beautiful “Keiki Cukes” are grown on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Big Island Produce is a hydroponic farm that produces cucumbers all year long.  They are super crunchy and don’t have any seeds.  We use them to make dill pickles, bread & butter pickles, and add them to all types of salads.

Chopped Scallions

Korean Chili Flakes

Korean chili flakes or gochugaru (not to be confused with red pepper powder), has a unique balance of sweet and smoky flavors with medium heat.  I have heard that hotter varieties are available but the one I buy from Whole Spice tends to be just the right heat for me.

Spicy Cucumbers

The cucumbers are mixed with Korean chili flakes, scallions, garlic, and sesame oil before being tossed with cold noodles.

somen-1-2

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers
 
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Magazine
Author:
Serves: 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish
Ingredients
  • 10 ounces thinly sliced small cucumbers (Keiki, Japanese, Persian)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ tablespoons Korean chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press
  • 4 tablespoons roasted sesame oil, divided (Kadoya brand recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 package (3 bundles - 8 oz.) somen noodles
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • salt for seasoning
Preparation
  1. Toss cucumbers with ½ teaspoon salt, and let sit for 30 minutes. Transfer cucumbers to a clean dish towel and wring to remove excess liquid from cucumbers. Transfer to a large bowl. Add Korean chili flakes, sugar, scallions, garlic, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, and the vinegar. Mix seasonings into cucumbers; let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook somen noodles according to package instructions. Shirakiku brand cooks for just 3 minutes. Immediately drain, rinse under cold water and place noodles in an ice bath until well chilled. Drain noodles well and add to cucumbers, tossing to combine. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and the soy sauce. Season with salt and additional Korean chili flakes before serving. Leftovers are delicious the following day.

 

Appetizers, Dinner, Italian, Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian, Veggies

Puff Pastry Tomato Tarts

November 14, 2016

Tomato Tart

These tasty tomato tarts are so easy to make when using ready-made frozen puff pastry.  Of course if you have time you could make your own, but using already prepared puff pastry reduces your prep time. The key to a delicious tart is to use really good tomatoes.  You want tomatoes that are meaty with few seeds so that the crust doesn’t get soggy.  Our tomato plants underproduced this summer, however, we were lucky to have a handful of really nice tomatoes that I used for tomato sauce, salsa, Mexican rice, salads, and these tarts.

Homegrown Tomatoes

Peeled Tomatoes

I didn’t peel the tomatoes the first time I made the tart but did so the next time around.  The tomato skins don’t soften much or break down when baked so peeling them ensures that when you take a bite of the tart you’re not left with the tomato skin pulling away from the rest of the slice.

Unbaked Tomato Tart with Feta & Thyme

You can make one large tart or divide the puff pastry into two equal portions and make two tarts.  Below I made one with pesto and another with feta cheese.  It was nice to have a variety of flavors.  These little tarts  make perfect appetizers for a small party.  You can make them a couple of hours in advance and still count on the crust being flaky and crisp.

Pesto & Feta Tomato Tarts

Tomato Tart with Thyme

The tomatoes above were not peeled.  You may notice the skins did not cook down much which means that when you take a bite of the tomato tart the skin may come off in one piece.  It’s definitely OK to leave the skins on though if this isn’t bothersome to you.

Tomato Tart with Feta & Thyme

Puff Pastry Tomato Tarts
 
Adapted from Canal House Cooks Every Day
Author:
Serves: 6 - 8 as an appetizer
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen ready-to-bake puff pastry sheet such as Pepperidge Farm
  • 2 - 3 tomatoes, peeled, cored, and sliced (about ⅓-inch thick)
  • 3 branches fresh thyme
  • crumbled feta (optional)
  • basil pesto (optional)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper
  • Maldon or other crunchy sea salt
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit a large baking sheet pan. Place parchment paper on counter. Remove puff pastry sheet from the freezer and place it on the parchment paper. Let puff pastry defrost for 20 minutes.
  3. Roll out puff pastry on the parchment paper to measure 9½ x 12 inch rectangle. If making two tarts divide the pastry in half. Once rolled out, transfer puff pastry (on parchment paper) to your baking sheet. Using the tip of a small paring knife, lightly score a border about ½ inch from the edge of the pastry. Pierce the dough inside the border all over with the tines of a fork to prevent the central area from puffing up too much during baking.
  4. If using only tomatoes: Arrange tomatoes over the pastry. Season with pepper. Drizzle or brush a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes. Scatter fresh thyme leaves over the top.
  5. If using pesto: Brush pesto over the pastry (except border). Arrange tomatoes on the pesto and season with pepper. Drizzle or brush a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes.
  6. If using feta: Arrange tomatoes on pastry and season with pepper. Scatter crumbled feta between the tomatoes. Drizzle or brush a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes. Scatter fresh thyme leaves over the top.
  7. Bake tart(s) for 30 - 35 minutes until the pastry is crisp and edges are lightly browned. Season with Maldon salt.

 

Beans, Dinner, Lactose Free, Pressure Cooker, Recipes, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Flageolet Beans & Wilted Greens

October 31, 2016

Flageolet Beans & Wilted Greens

A few years ago I purchased Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton’s highly regarded Canal House Cooks Every Day cookbook.  The book has gorgeous photos with straightforward, practical instructions and is formatted by the four seasons.  It’s just a lovely book.  I had not consulted it in several years but I won’t neglect it again.  An example of their beautiful cuisine is this simple and delicious meal that lets the beans and greens shine.

Dried Flageolets

The original recipe calls for borlotti beans but they weren’t available at any of the stores I visited.  Instead, I used flageolets, one of my favorite beans.  Beautiful pale green and ivory colored, they cook up nicely, holding their shape.  I used my pressure cooker to save some time but you can certainly cook them in a Dutch oven if you don’t have a pressure cooker.  As with all types of beans, some will break during the cooking process.  A few will be too soft.  Though it may take an extra 5 – 10 minutes, I sort through the beans discarding the broken and soft beans after they have cooked.  Your finished dish will look beautiful and all of the beans will be the perfect texture.

Cooked Flageolets

Flageolet Beans & Wilted Greens

Flageolet Beans & Wilted Greens
 
Adapted from Canal House Cooks Every Day
Author:
Serves: 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried flageolet beans, rinsed (sorted through to remove broken beans)
  • ½ medium onion cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 5 ounces baby kale, spinach, or a combination (I used Organic Girl I Love Baby Kale mixture)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Preparation
  1. For stove top pressure cooker:
  2. Place beans in pot with 5 cups filtered water, bay leaf and onion. Pressure cook for 25 - 30 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. Check beans for doneness. They should be tender and cooked through but not mushy. If they need a little more time, pressure cook for a few additional minutes or simmer on the stove until done.
  3. For Dutch oven stove top:
  4. Place beans in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot along with the onion and bay leaf and cover with at least 2½ inches of water. Bring the beans to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down so the beans simmer gently. Check on the beans after 50 minutes to see how they are doing. Add more hot water as needed to keep the beans submerged. Continue to monitor the beans until they are completely cooked through but not soft.
  5. If you made your beans in advance remove them from the refrigerator and place them in a pot with a few tablespoons of water and a good splash of olive oil (discard onion and bay leaf). Cover and heat on low until just warm.
  6. Meanwhile, put 1½ tablespoons olive oil and the sliced garlic in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Rinse your greens and add it to the pan with the water still clinging to the greens. Sauté the greens, stirring and turning them in the oil, until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, place beans in a shallow bowl. Drizzle beans with a little olive oil. Top with the wilted greens and season with salt and pepper. I serve this with open-faced ham sandwiches but toasted garlic bread would be a delicious accompaniment as well.

 

 

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