Thursday, June 26, 2014

Book Review: Meatless All Day

Author: Dina Cheney

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press (March 2014)

About the book:

Meatless all day is a sumptuous book that looks at vegetarian and vegan meals not as quick and easy or even healthy, but as fine dining experiences using the freshest seasonal ingredients and worldly spices and herbs. 

I am used to vegan or vegetarian cookbooks that spend the introduction explaining and defining vegetarian and vegan food in order to highlight the oddity of this type of cooking, but I like that Cheney's book instead goes into some specific tips on cooking. I especially liked the section on tips for golden brown, crispy exteriors. With vegetarian and vegan food, sometimes focusing on textures makes it more palatable for non veg heads. Saw another tip from "The Kitchen" about salting home fried potatoes after and not before cooking for that golden brown color. 

Another plus for this book is that the pictures are fabulous. This is not a book to read when you're hungry or even right before dinner. This is a plan ahead for the week Sunday morning read.

I definitely loved the vegan dishes like the "tabbouleh with dates and pomegranate vinaigrette." The spices of cumin, coriander, sumac, cayenne created a vibrant palate of flavors. I lucked out that my health food store had sumac which I think makes a difference.

I also enjoyed going out of my usual comfort zone of Indian/Asian/Mediterranean flavors and made the Mexican chopped salad with cornbread croutons. I don't use lime zest enough and I need to start doing that. I didn't use the cheese cubes because I am more vegan than vegetarian, but I don't think it made a difference. 

What I want to try and I'm waiting for the right time is the Greek salad with roasted chickpeas and watermelon. Perhaps fourth of July. Also fall would be great for the veggie chili with butternut squash.

There are just so many intriguing recipes in here that it will take a year to try everything and with so many different ethnic flavors, going meatless all day will not be a boring journey.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Almost Homemade Ketchup with a Kick

Tango Cafe in Honolulu is one of my favorite places to eat breakfast in Honolulu. When we are there for work, we wait in line outside at 7 am for their coffee and eggs benedict. My favorite is a half half - half gravlax benedict and half florentine or crab hash benedict. Really great restaurants have great food, true, but a really really great restaurant knows how to do those little off the menu things like make sure that every refill of coffee is unasked for and fresh. But the real key is their ketchup. When it comes to the table and you're sitting with Tango newbies, don't say anything. Just nonchalantly move it toward you. It comes in a little dish, not really red and kind of thick and grainy in texture, but this stuff is so good you will want to lick the dish. 

We asked them how to make it and all they said was it's tomatoes cooked down, carmelized onions, some cumin.

This is my first attempt. I didn't cook down tomatoes. I just used bought ketchup I had, carmelized some onions and added some kick. The Tango version is not spicy, but this one has a bit of a kick. 

1 T canola oil
1 medium onion, sliced thin

In a heavy bottom saucepan, slowly cook the onions with oil until they are brown and super soft (I stood over the stove for about half an hour which is long for me). 

While it cooks, put together -
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
dash of ground cinnamon
dash of ground nutmeg
black pepper

When the onions are carmelized, not burned, add 1 Tablespoon of cider vinegar, stir it around to scrape some of the crusty bits from the pan then add the ketchup mix. Cook it gently for about 5 minutes to meld the flavors, then take it off the heat. When it cools down a little, put it in the Vitamix, blend to the consistency you want and enjoy. 

I'm pre-prepping for the Father's day sliders, so ketchup done.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Nobu's Den Miso with Broiled Eggplant

Summer is the worst time to cook, but I have so many recipes in my Evernote folders and my Pinterest boards so this is the down time for me. I think this is a fabulous fall or winter recipe, but with a cold Kirin, it's still good in the summer and it can be eaten cold on salad for lunch.

Find the original recipe here. Besides cooking the sauce on eggplant, it's a good dipping sauce for fried tofu, tossed with blanched green beans, and used as a dipping sauce for boiled tako (octopus). Keep the extras in the refrigerator.

Den Miso:
  •  1 1/2 cups white miso 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 3/4 cup sake 
  • 3/4 cup mirin 
Combine miso and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add sake and mirin, whisking to combine. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved and color begins to darken, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat.

Den Miso with Nasubi (eggplant)

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying 
  • 4 Japanese eggplants (about 6 ounces each), halved lengthwise and skin scored in a crosshatch pattern 
  • 1 cup Nobu's Den Miso 
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds 
  • Pickled ginger and plums, for garnish (optional) 
 Heat oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with paper towels; set aside. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat about 2 inches of oil to 360 degrees. Working in batches, place eggplants in pan, skin side up, and fry 1 minute. Turn and fry 30 seconds more. Transfer eggplants to baking sheet and let drain. 

 Transfer eggplants, skin side down, to an unlined baking sheet. Spread each half with slightly more than 1 tablespoon miso. Broil until miso begins to darken and caramelize, about 30 seconds to a few minutes, depending on the strength of your broiler. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish with pickled ginger and plums.