Tag Archives: daring cooks

Daring Cooks: Sri Lankan Beef Curry and Carrots with Tropical Flavors

Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.

I won’t go too much into Appam, as I didn’t make it. Right now, I am not eating grains or yeast, so I figured making a yeasted rice flatbread wasn’t in the cards. However, if you want to read about how to make these (and they look like the perfect accompaniment to a saucy curry!), check them out over at Mary Mary Culinary.

I did, however, jump right on some Sri Lankan curry! I love curries made with coconut milk. Spices + coconut milk = comfort food. (I’ve already mentioned this in my previous post about a Thai-inspired curry, but it’s really true!) This curry was different than most I’ve made; it used fresh curry leaves and tamarind pulp. Lucky for me, there is an Indian grocery not far from our house, and I was able to pick up the necessary ingredients.

As this curry simmered on the stove, the intoxicating aroma of spices filled the house. I could hardly wait until it was ready. I served it with spaghetti squash for me, brown rice for the hubby, and some amazing carrots with lime, peppers, shallots, and cilantro that was bright, fresh, and lightened up the heavier curry. It was a lovely meal. Next time, I think I might opt for a lower temperature when cooking the meat, and perhaps swap out the beef for a lamb or goat. The London Broil I used was a bit too lean, and ended up a tad dry for the dish. However, the flavors were sensuous and won me over.

Sri Lankan Beef Curry, adapted from Mangoes & Curry Leaves

1 lb boneless beef (I used London Broil)

1 T coconut oil

10 fresh or frozen curry leaves

1 green cayenne chili, finely chopped

generous 1 c  finely chopped onion

1 t turmeric

1 t salt

½ c coconut milk

1 T tamarind pulp (I had a jarred tamarind pulp with no seeds)

3 c water

1 T arrowroot powder

Dry Spice Mixture:

1 T coriander seeds

1 t cumin seeds

one 1-inch piece cinnamon or cassia stick

seeds from 2 pods of green cardamom

1. Cut the beef into ½ inch cubes. Set aside.

2. In a small heavy skillet, roast the dry spice mixture over medium to medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously, until it smells amazing!

3. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and grind/pound to a powder. Set aside.

4. In a large, wide pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the curry leaves, green chile, onion and turmeric and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the meat and salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so all surfaces of the meat get browned.

5. Add the reserved spice mixture and the coconut milk and stir to coat the meat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6.  Add the tamarind pulp to the 2 cups of water. Whisk in the arrowroot powder.

7. Add the tamarind/water mixture to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered at a strong simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the flavors are well blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot.

Carrots with Tropical Flavors, adapted from Mangoes & Curry Leaves

1 lb carrots, about 5 medium, peeled

1 T coconut oil

about 8 fresh curry leaves

2 T minced seeded green cayenne chiles

3 T minced shallots

2 t rice vinegar (I used lime juice)

1 t salt

¼ t honey

½ c coconut milk

¼ c water

coarse salt, optional

cilantro (coriander) leaves to garnish

1. Julienne or coarsely grate the carrots. Set aside.

2. Place a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then add half of the curry leaves, the chiles and the shallots. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring.

3. Add the carrots, stir, and add the vinegar/lime juice, salt, honey and mix well. Increase the heat and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until they give off a bit of liquid.

4. Add the water and half of the coconut milk and bring to a fast boil. Stir, cover tightly and cook until just tender, 5 minutes or so, depending on size. Check to ensure the liquid has not boiled away and add a little more water if it is almost dry.

5. Add the remaining coconut milk and curry leaves. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with coarse salt, if desired, and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

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Filed under Beef, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Daring Cooks: Handmade Gluten-Free Fettucine with Basil-Walnut Pesto

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with.

Of course, those recipes were merely inspiration for my dish. I went off to find my own gluten-free pasta recipe. I’ve made gluten-free pasta only once before (an egg-yolk ravioli that was tasty, but my pasta was too thick and heavy), so this was still a relatively new experience for me. I wanted to make sure I made it thin and light this time around. I wanted it to be delicious. Lucky for me, Shauna over at Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef made pasta just a few days before I did. Her pasta was beautiful, and I loved the way she opted to incorporate psyllium husk to increase the flexibility/stretchiness of the dough. I’ve been using psyllium husk a lot more lately in my baking, and am enjoying the results. I was sold.

I wanted the flavor and texture of the pasta to shine through, so I wanted a sauce that wouldn’t overwhelm or cause the dish to be too heavy. After all, we’ve had temperatures at 100 degrees or more for nearly two weeks now, so a lighter dish was definitely a plus. My garden is overflowing with basil, so I opted for a fresh, bright, dairy-free pesto. Basil is one of those herbs that just screams summer to me. It was the perfect compliment to my pasta.

The pasta was somewhat finicky to make – rolling it thin wasn’t much of an issue, however, I had a bit of trouble with it breaking while rolling. After a bit of practice and patience, though, I fell into a rhythm. It started to work. I now understand why so many people love making pasta. It’s as soothing as making bread – a slow, repetitive, and strangely comforting process. I started to fall in love myself.

Once the pasta was all rolled and cut, the rest of the process was easy. Glazing the walnuts in the maple syrup, and then a quick blitz in the food processor, and the pesto was finished. The pasta took only 2 minutes to cook. A quick toss, and we were more than ready to eat.

So eat we did.

 

Gluten-Free Fettucine, adapted from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

3 oz white bean flour

3 oz millet flour

3 oz potato starch

1 t psyllium husk powder

1 t kosher salt

1 large egg

4 egg yolks from large eggs

1 to 2 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 to 2 T water

Combine the flours, psyllium powder, nutmeg, and salt in the bowl of the food processor to combine the flours. Mix the egg, egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the water. Pour the liquid into the flours. Run the food processor on pulse 8 to 10 times, then look at the dough. If the dough has formed crumbs that stay together when pressed, you’re done. If they are a little too dry, add the remaining olive oil, then pulse, look, then add more water, if necessary. If the dough looks a bit too wet, add another tablespoon of flour.

Turn out onto a dry, clean surface. Gather into a ball with your hands and press together. Once a ball is formed, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Cut ball of dough into 4 pieces. Lightly flour your working surface with any of the flours you used for the pasta. Roll out one of the pieces of dough in a rectangle until very thin, as thin as you can get it without breaking. Cut with a pizza cutter into strips, carefully placing each strip onto a plate. Cover the cut pasta with a damp cloth as you go.

To cook the pasta, bring a large, well-salted pot of water to a boil. Carefully lower your pasta into the water and cook for 2 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through but still retains some bite. Drain and toss with a bit of olive oil, then your sauce/pesto.

Serves 4.

Vegan Basil-Walnut Pesto

1 1/2 c walnuts

1 T maple syrup

1 T olive oil

1 1/2 c fresh basil leaves, packed

1 1/2 c fresh parsley leaves, packed

2 1/2 T nutritional yeast flakes

juice of 1 large orange

7 cloves garlic, peeled

1 t salt

1/2 t black pepper

1 t brown rice vinegar

In a small skillet at medium heat, add the walnuts, maple syrup, and olive oil. Cook, stiring slowly for 2-3 minutes or until syrup clings to the walnuts and starts to caramelize. Remove and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add basil, parsley, nutritional yeast, orange juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and brown rice vinegar and pulse, scraping the bowl as you go, until everything is finely chopped, but not a uniform paste. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Pasta, Vegetarian

Daring Cooks: Dill and Caper Red Potato Salad

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

Of course, I’ve made potato salad before. My mom has a straightforward recipe that I love (and have blogged about before – scroll down towards the bottom to view the recipe). But for this challenge, I wanted to make a bit of a different potato salad. Immediately, capers came to mind. Their briny, piquant flavor would compliment the creamy potatoes well. Of course, I’d still want to add some creamy texture, so a nice high-end mayonnaise would be needed. In the interest of keeping the salad lower in calories, though, I tried to keep the amount modest. Some fresh dill, dijon mustard, and smoked paprika helped round out what became a full-flavored, potato salad – a perfect accompaniment to any backyard barbecue.

Dill and Caper Red Potato Salad

1 lb small red potatoes

Salt

1 T lemon juice

3 T diced red onion

3 T olive oil mayonnaise (such as Spectrum)

1 t dijon mustard

1 t honey

1 T capers

1 t fresh dill, chopped

1/4 t smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan with a generous amount of salt and enough water to cover. Boil for 15 minutes or until pierced easily with a fork. Drain and allow to cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1/2 inch) and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and red onion. Stir to coat, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, and honey. Add capers, dill, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add in the potatoes and eggs and toss with the dressing until evenly coated. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Serve chilled. Makes 4 servings.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Daring Cooks: Edible Containers (Nori Bowls)

This month for the Daring Cooks challenge, the sky was the limit.  Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers. She provided lovely ideas and recipes (a pumpkin bowl filled with creamy shrimp, or a fried noodle bowl), but we could also use our creativity and come up with our own idea, as long as our containers were edible and had suitable content for it.

For me, this was exciting. Rather than having to modify a challenge recipe to fit my dietary needs, I could come up with something completely from scratch! How exciting! But then I started brainstorming, and couldn’t come up with much. I had a few ideas – dips inside of avocado halves, a twist on deviled eggs, or some sort of roll-up thing…but nothing ground-breaking. So I enlisted my sister to help. (She is the artist in our family) I sent her a text message, asking her to think of some sort of edible container, and that the sky was the limit. She sent a message back: what about making nori sheets into some sort of paper mache thing?

Wow. I was inspired. Immediately, I dismissed my other ideas and focused on this one. I wasn’t sure how I’d get it to work, but I knew I had to. It sounded like fun. I had a few days before I would have time to actually make the bowls, so I instead spent time working out the issue in my head. What I loved about this challenge is that unlike some others, I actually didn’t do any research. This was all going to be playing around and going with my gut.

It wouldn’t exactly be paper mache, I thought. Paper mache involves some paste-like substance, and when I think of edible paste, I think of corn starch and water. That didn’t sound appetizing in the least. But I needed something sticky. Brown rice syrup. I purchased some to make Amy’s Slow Cooker Ketchup, and I loved the thick, neutral, not-too-sweet stuff. (Side note: there’s still time to enter into my giveaway for a copy of her cookbook! Check it out here!) I knew I was going to use it – it seemed like the perfect solution. I also knew I’d have to use some sort of mold in order to make and keep a bowl shape until it dried. I already planned on using my dehydrator to speed up that drying process, but as for the minute details? Those would have to wait until I was in the throes of making the bowls.

As it turns out, all that advance mental preparation helped. Making these bowls was a snap. Okay, well, not exactly a snap, as a snap implies speed (at least, in my mind it does) and they did take a while to dry, but they were easy to put together. Just a little brushing of my sticky brown rice and tamari solution, some time in my “molds”, and some time in the dehydrator, and I had a cute little bowl, perfect for filling.

Filling with what? Well, honestly, I did not spend much time brainstorming about that part. But as I surveyed my pantry and refrigerator, I quickly realized that I had the ingredients for a version of jap chae, and those flavors would go perfectly with the nori. I whipped it together (which really is a snap – jap chae only takes a few minutes to make), and I had a perfectly delicious, vegan meal in a cute nori bowl.

This was an exciting challenge, and my hat goes off to Renata.

Nori Bowls

2 nori sheets per bowl

Olive oil

2 T brown rice syrup

1 T gluten-free soy sauce

small bowls

1 recipe Jap Chae

Using kitchen shears, cut slits into the nori sheet, making sure you make them only about halfway to the center of the sheet, leaving room for the bottom of the bowl. (I cut the first one with slits as shown here, but then realized I should cut only 4 slits, one on each corner, for the second sheet. Sorry, no pic on that one, but you get the idea.)

Cut the second sheet of nori with slits and lay over the first sheet, offsetting the slits slightly so that the whole area is covered with nori. Lightly brush the bowl with oil on the outside, and place the nori sheets on top.

In a small, separate bowl, whisk together the brown rice syrup and soy sauce. Brush mixture along the cut edges, and press together firmly, against the bowl, until all of the nori is “sealed” with the syrup mixture. Brush oil on the inside of your second molding bowl, and place on top of your nori. Press together.

Using your kitchen shears, cut around the edges of your mold to remove excess nori. Repeat with additional nori sheets and bowls as desired. Let the molds sit for about an hour.

Remove the interior molding bowl, and place in dehydrator, right side up. Allow to dehydrate for an additional hour at about 130 degrees. Once the nori starts to feel less “wet”, carefully remove the second molding bowl and place the nori bowl back into the dehydrator. Continue to dehydrate for another hour or two, or until the nori is hard and no longer the least bit tacky to the touch. Trim the edges with kitchen shears as needed to clean up the look of your bowl.

It is now ready to fill! Prepare your jap chae according to recipe (or make another filling for your bowl) and serve. You’ll find that after a while, when the filling has had a chance to sit in the bowl, it will soften a bit, and you might be able to fold the sides and eat your jap chae-filled nori bowl rolled up, burrito style.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Vegetarian

Daring Cooks: Ceviche and Papas Rellenas

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau, and Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

I’ve enjoyed ceviche many times in Mexican restaurants, but never Peruvian ceviche, and never in my own kitchen. And as for papas rellenas? Nope – never tried them. I love ceviche – it’s cool, clean, and light. Which is a good thing when paired with papas rellenas, as they are definitely NOT light. Papas rellenas are stuffed potatoes that are then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Potatoes and deep-fried are two words that rarely, if ever, appear in the same sentence when it comes to our kitchen.  This was definitely uncharted territory for me, but I was up for it!

I started with the ceviche. I found some large sea scallops that I decided would be perfect for it. (In the interest of full disclosure, they were flash frozen. Not optimal, but I’m land-locked and super-fresh scallops are just not that readily available.) As I went through the process of making it, I wondered why I’d never made it before. It was simple – just a quick whisk of garlic, chile, cilantro, and lime, toss in the seafood, top with onion, and a brief stay in the refrigerator to “cook”, and I had a lovely appetizer worthy of company. The ceviche was lovely – it was light, with just a touch of bite from the chiles, and a fresh lime flavor. If I closed my eyes, I could just about imagine being on a beach somewhere. This was definitely a recipe to keep in my back pocket when I need to entertain.

The papas rellenas weren’t as simple, but that’s not to say that they were difficult. They did take time, however – definitely not a weeknight recipe. I made the mistake of using large russet potatoes, which took a long while to boil. And then there’s the whole frying thing, which once the oil is heated, only takes a few minutes, but frying is still “special occasion” for me, because it uses so much oil and requires a good deal of clean-up. All in all, the filling was wonderful. I opted to use an all-natural beef breakfast sausage I’d purchased from a local rancher instead of the ground beef called for in the recipe, just to boost the flavor. The addition of chiles, olives, raisins, and garlic truly brought the flavors together. I could eat that filling by itself.

The finished papas rellenas were not my favorite – they seemed heavy to me. Of course, I’m not a huge potato fan, and we’d enjoyed a big lunch already that day, so I was really not in the mood for something so filling. Brittany, who was with us for dinner, enjoyed them a great deal. I served them with a jarred chipotle salsa (Is that cheating, when it comes to Daring Cooks? If so, whoops, and pretend you never read that!), which complimented the flavors well.

A big kudos to Kathlyn for this challenge, and for giving us a bit of insight into Peruvian cuisine. This was a good challenge!

Scallop Ceviche

2 lbs sea scallops, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I cut mine into quarters)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

1 c freshly squeezed lime juice

1 T fresh cilantro, chopped

1 red onion, thinly sliced

Place the scallops in a large non-reactive bowl (glass is great for this). Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Whisk together the garlic, jalapeno, lime, and cilantro and pour over scallops. Toss well to evenly coat. Top with red onions. Refrigerate for 10 minutes up to 8 hours, or until desired “doneness” is reached. (I marinated for about 30 minutes) Remove from lime juice and place in dishes, topping with a few onions for garnish.

Serves 6 as an appetizer.

Gluten-Free Papas Rellenas

For the dough:

2¼ lb russet potatoes

1 large egg

For the filling:

2 T of a light flavored oil

½ lb ground (minced) beef (I used beef sausage)

6 black olives, pitted and chopped (use more if you love olives)

3 hard boiled large eggs, chopped

1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)

½ cup raisins, soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced

1 finely diced aji pepper (ok to sub jalapeño or other pepper – if you are shy about heat, use less)

2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press (if you love garlic, add more)

1 t ground cumin (use more if you like cumin)

½ t sweet paprika

¼ c white wine, water or beef stock for deglazing

Salt and pepper to taste

For the final preparation:

1 large egg, beaten

1/3 cup soy flour, 1/3 cup tapioca starch, and 1/3 cup brown rice flour, whisked together

Dash cayenne pepper

Dash salt

1 cup dry gluten-free bread crumbs (I dried out some slices of gluten-free bread in the oven, then processed in the food processor)

Oil for frying (enough for 2” in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven)

In order to save time, you can boil the potatoes, and while they are cooling, you can make the filling. While that is cooling, you can make the potato “dough.” In this way, little time is spent waiting for anything to cool.

Boil the potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork. Remove them from the water and cool. Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred). Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.

While the potatoes are cooling, gently brown onion and garlic in oil (about 5 minutes) in a large skillet. Add the chili pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes. Add ground beef and brown. Add raisins, cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds). Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add olives and cook for a few moments longer. Add hard boiled eggs and fold in off heat. Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”

Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt. In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water. Put bread crumbs in the third. Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling. Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling. Repeat with all dough (you should have about 6 papas).

Heat 1 ½ – 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 – 190°C). Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs. Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides. Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF (95ºC) (gas mark ¼) oven if frying in batches.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy

Daring Cooks: Cold Soba Salad and Tempura

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com.

While I am a fan of Japanese cuisine, truthfully, it’s something that has rarely made an appearance in my kitchen. I’ve made sushi before, but that’s about the extent of my experience. However, I was excited about this challenge – tempura is a tricky beast, and I thought this would be a wonderful chance to tackle it. As for cold soba salad – I was game for that! I’ve made soba a few times before, most successfully in a dish called ostu. It’s been a while though, and this was a new recipe, so it was also exciting.

How did I make the tempura gluten-free? This was perhaps one of the easiest adjustments so far with my Daring Cooks’ challenges. The original recipe called for a 1/2 cup of regular flour and 1/2 cup of cornstarch – so I substituted 1/2 cup of sweet white rice flour and 1/2 cup of tapioca starch. It came out beautifully – airy and crisp. We enjoyed sweet potatoes, green beans, and shrimp, dipped in the spicy dipping sauce (made gluten-free easily by substituting gluten-free soy sauce), and there wasn’t a bit left. While I loved this Japanese-style, I can easily imagine taking the tempura batter “process” over to other cuisines (onion rings, anyone?).

The soba salad was also delicious, so much so, I think I enjoyed it even more than the tempura. I served ours with a dashi sauce, green onions, eggs, grated daikon radish, pickled ginger, and some toasted nori. I am having leftovers for lunch today, and am pretty darn excited about it, if I do say so. While finding 100% buckwheat soba isn’t easy (I had to visit Whole Foods – most soba in the American groceries is a blend of wheat and buckwheat flour), I am definitely going to pick up some more when I find it again. I love the nutty, earthy flavor of the noodles.

All in all, another delicious Daring Cooks’ challenge completed! What’s even better – this has inspired me to dig further into Japanese cuisine. I’m overdue for an adventure!

Gluten-Free Tempura

1 egg yolk

1 c iced water

1/2 c sweet white rice flour

1/2 c tapioca starch

1/2 t baking powder

Oil for deep frying

Ice water bath, for the tempura batter

Very cold vegetables and seafood – you can choose from: blanched and cooled sweet potato slices, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, pumpkin, onions, shrimp, etc.

Place the iced water in a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well. Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura. Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F/160°C; for seafood it should be 340°F/170°C. It is more difficult to maintain a steady temperature and produce consistent tempura if you don’t have a thermometer, but it can be done. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready. Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, that won’t leave a strong odor in the oil. Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter. Slide them into the hot oil, deep frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop. Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor. Serve immediately for best flavor.

Gluten-Free Spicy Dipping Sauce

¾ c spring onions/green onions/scallions, finely chopped
3 T gluten-free soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
½ t agave nectar
¼ t English mustard powder
1 T grape-seed oil
1 T sesame oil
1/2 t ground  black pepper 

Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.

Gluten-Free Soba Salad

2 quarts + 1 c cold water, divided

12 oz 100% buckwheat noodles

Cooking the noodles:

  1. Heat 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the noodles a small bundle at a time, stirring gently to separate. When the water returns to a full boil, add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this twice. When the water returns to a full boil, check the noodles for doneness. You want to cook them until they are firm-tender. Do not overcook them.
  2. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse well under cold running water until the noodles are cool. This not only stops the cooking process, but also removes the starch from the noodles. This is an essential part of soba noodle making. Once the noodles are cool, drain them and cover them with a damp kitchen towel and set them aside allowing them to cool completely.
  3. 

Mentsuyu – Traditional dipping sauce

2 c Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi (This can be bought in many forms from most Asian stores and you can make your own. Recipe is HERE.) Or a basic vegetable stock.

1/3 c gluten-free soy sauce

1/3 c mirin (sweet rice wine)

Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and dashi soup stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

I served the soba noodles by placing some cold noodles in a bowl, and ladling some of the sauce over. I topped with crumbled nori, egg omelet strips, grated raw daikon radish, pickled ginger, and some green onions. You can top with any of the following: thin omelet strips, boiled chicken breasts, ham, cucumber, boiled bean sprouts, tomatoes, toasted nori, green onions, wasabi powder, grated daikon, pickled ginger, etc. Everything should be finely grated, diced, or julienned.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Salads, Seafood

Daring Cooks: Vegan Cassoulet

 Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

I have always wanted to make cassoulet. It’s rich, comforting, and perfect for a wintry day. However, lately I’ve been focusing on lighter fare. (In addition, I looked at the challenge for the first time this week, and didn’t think I could spend the time needed, or get the duck legs I wanted, in time.) So while I will definitely make the traditional cassoulet one day soon, this month, I opted for a lighter, quicker version of the dish. I opted to go for a vegan cassoulet, and confit some garlic cloves.

The cassoulet came together relatively quickly. (I did opt to cook my own beans from dried, rather than canned. I used Stephanie’s slow cooker instructions, so the beans were ready when I came home from work. I think they taste better than canned, and they tend to be more digestible. An added bonus – they’re much lower in sodium.) This is one relaxing dish to make. As the aromatic vegetables cooked, the aroma was so comforting – a myriad of leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic wafted through the air. The act of slowly stirring beans in a pot soothes me – it’s not stressful, high-speed cooking. This is love in a pot.

My favorite part about the dish though had to be the breadcrumbs. I will have to confess – the gluten-free bread I used was not vegan. I had frozen Udi’s to use up – so I made breadcrumbs from that bread. (Udi’s uses eggs) However, you could use Carrie’s lovely vegan gluten-free bread and make it completely vegan. These breadcrumbs were so deliciously crisp, with the inticing bite of the garlic and freshness from the parsley. I snuck spoonfuls while in the kitchen. These breadcrumbs balanced the creamy beans perfectly.

All in all, I didn’t miss the rich components of a traditional cassoulet (or what I’d imagine it would be, I have never actually eaten it). This was so satisfying (and healthier). I’m looking forward to the leftovers!

Vegetarian/Vegan Cassoulet
Vegetarian Cassoulet by Gourmet Magazine, March 2008

(Note: we didn’t actually make this recipe, but we’re sure it’s a good one!)

Ingredients:

3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide (25 mm) pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-wide (25 mm) pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 parsley sprigs
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon (2/3 ml) (1 gm) ground cloves
3 (19-oz/540 gm) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 qt (4 cups/960 ml) water
4 cups (960 ml) (300 gm) coarse fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (12 gm) chopped garlic
1/4 cup (60 ml) (80 gm) chopped parsley

Directions:

1. Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch (13 mm) pieces, then wash well (see cooks’ note, below) and pat dry.
2. Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon (2½ mm) each of salt and pepper in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans, then water, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with rack in middle.
4. Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon (1¼ ml) each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated.
5. Spread in a baking pan and toast in oven, stirring once halfway through, until crisp and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
6. Cool crumbs in pan, then return to bowl and stir in parsley.
7. Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf. Mash some of beans in pot with a potato masher or back of a spoon to thicken broth.
8. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs.

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