Thursday, January 24, 2013

Okra with Tomato

Okra and I have not always been friends. Sure, it's great when battered and deep-fried, but okra tends to summon up memories of impossibly slimy dishes, often with a funky fish sauce added.  Soupou kandia, a Senegalese stew, was almost universally reviled among my study-abroad peers as we pined for mafe, ceebu jen, or yassa instead...

I think this prejudice started to change when my mom and I met some friends at Mela in Asheville, NC. The bhindi masala was an incredible mix of textures and flavors, and slimy and fishy were not among them. Since then, I have made the (equally fantastic) okra dish in Indian Home Cooking, and, finally, a simplified version from memory.

I've heard that the secret to non-slimy okra is to cook it for a shorter time (and thus necessarily at a very high temp). But I think what works here is simply adding other liquid (via tomatoes) later on in the dish to dilute the dish's overall viscosity. The end result of this recipe is flavorful, and the okra is delicate and tender, but not mushy or slimy.

When I'm cooking, I often snap quick photos of ingredients or steps in the process just so that I remember what I did when I'm writing the recipe up.

I started with this much okra, trimmed and cut into 1-in pieces:

In my trusty cast-iron, I fried some mustard and cumin seeds:

Then I added onion slivers, and salt, and (a few minutes later) garlic and fresh chilies: 

When this was pretty much cooked, I added cayenne, turmeric, and a pinch of cinnmon:

And then I added the okra, cooking it on hot for about 5 min until the okra started browning. I added a can of tomatoes:

...and then I reduced the heat to medium, covered it all, and simmered for about ten more minutes. At the end, I added some lemon juice and cilantro before serving hot:

Okra with Tomato
(adapted from Indian Home Cooking)

mustard seeds
cumin seeds
1/2 red onion, cut into slivers
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano chili, minced
cayenne (to taste)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
2-3 c okra, trimmed and cut into 1-in pieces
lemon juice

See above for instructions
Serves about 3.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Roasted Yukon Potatoes and Cremini Mushrooms with Caramelized Onions and Truffle Oil

Oh man. The controversy about truffle oil.

I bought some. It's a mixture of actual truffle pieces and the much reviled "natural truffle flavor." And I will indeed use it from time to time for its deliciousness.

There once was a time when I prided myself on knowing how gauche it was to drink a cappuccino after 11 a.m. Silly Brits (I was living in London at the time), thinking they're so sophisticated when they're actually doing it all wrong!

With the exception of celebrity chefs, cultural gatekeepers, and generally unhappy people.... No one gives a fuck.

Anyway, here's yet another mushroom and potato recipe, this time with truffle oil. I added the mushrooms to the original recipe, and I used some smoked salt as well.

Roasted Yukon Potatoes and Cremini Mushrooms with Caramelized Onions and Truffle Oil


1 lb small, waxy potatoes, scrubbed, quartered
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 large yellow onion, peeled, thinly sliced
3 TB olive oil
smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper
several shakes of white truffle oil, about 1/2 teaspoon (less is more!)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Put potatoes, mushrooms, and onions in a sturdy roasting pan. Pour olive oil over them and toss well to coat. Liberally grind salt and pepper over the potatoes and onions. Spread the veggies out so they are in a single layer in the pan. Place in oven. Cook for 40 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned and cooked through.
2. Before serving, sprinkle with truffle oil and toss to coat. Serves 4.


A few more recipes I may try: I just made my first risotto in years, and I want to try one with dried mushrooms and/or truffle oil, like this one with leeks and shiitakes, or this one with several kinds of mushroom.

I'm also still thinking about the seared risotto cakes Zippy and I had in our surprisingly great dinner at the Cambria Pines Lodge Restaurant awhile back.


And here's a table of party snacks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Curried Blackeyed Peas and Lemon Rice

The taste of freedom!

Spoils from a Westside pilgrimage to India Spices and Grocery and Surfas

I advanced to candidacy on Monday, which means I feel I can dedicate a bit more time to trying new recipes and blogging. I have hundreds of recipes bookmarked in Google Reader, and I also seem to have acquired, um, four cookbooks in the past few months. I'm hoping to do a 50-50 balance of posts on cookbook recipes (where I won't repost the recipe) and other recipes that I can share.

Here are two things I recently made from Indian Home Cooking. This cookbook is so great, I had to review it on amazon.

Curried Blackeyed Peas
(I substituted soymilk with 1/2 tsp vinegar for the yogurt, and it worked great)

Lemon Rice
(Not a favorite, but the nutty flavors of cashew and toasted legumes were a nice balance to the lemon)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh

Janet's suggestion to my plea for more recipes that use Worcestershire was incredible. This marinade was tangy and savory and spicy all at once. I loved it.

I made a few simple changes: I sliced half of a serrano chili paper thin and sprinkled the rings over the baking dish. I also used onion powder rather than scallions for a less 'raw' taste. And the biggest difference, I baked the tempeh rather than pan-frying it after marinating. This way I missed out on a blackened or seared element, but I wanted to make sure the tempeh absorbed a lot of the marinade. The result was very succulent and very flavorful. I found it to be a little too vinegary, so (at least for this cooking method), I would reduce that. There was a lot of cooking liquid left after 40 minutes of baking, so I saved it and froze it; I'll try to use it again!

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh
(adapted from taste space)

1/2 c fresh orange juice
1/2 c white vinegar (or less--see above note)
1/4 c olive oil
2 TB tamari
1 TB vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 TB brown sugar
1 TB allspice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 TB fresh minced ginger
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 unseeded serrano chili, very thinly sliced in little rounds
8 oz tempeh, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/2″ by 2″ strips


1. Preheat oven to 350. In a baking dish, combine all the marinade ingredients and stir well. Add the tempeh strips in a single layer and ensure all of the tempeh is coated.
2. Place dish in oven and bake for 40 minutes, flipping tempeh at the halfway point (only if sauce is running low). Serves 3.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Garlicky Green Beans with Lemon and Ajika

Remember the mysterious ajika, labeled only as "Russian delicacy, best with meats, chicken, seafood, and vegetable"? I found a great use for it. This dish is simple, healthy, and fast. I paired it with a version of adas bil-hamud and some rice for a quick and restorative meal. Lemon and garlic forever!

Garlicky Green Beans with Lemon and Ajika

1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-in pieces
olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ajika (or to taste)
1 TB lemon juice (or to taste)

1. Steam beans until tender
2. In a medium frying pan, saute garlic in oil.
3. When garlic is golden, toss in the beans and stir to coat. Stir in ajika.
4. Turn off heat and stir in lemon and salt. Check flavors and adjust to taste, then serve warm. Serves about 3.


And here's some citrus porn. The regular grapefruits are from Sina's garden.


Finally, I've been experimenting with making my own stock, saving scraps in a freezer bag until I have a whole bag, then simmering it in water with salt and straining. The first batch was a bit weird--I got too excited about recycling and started throwing in potato and apple skins--but I'm getting better. It's safer to stick just to garlic and onion scraps, or maybe two basic stocks: garlic, onion, celery, and parsely; and garlic, onion, ginger, and chilies. I've also cheated and thrown in another whole onion to boost the flavor. You can, of course, freeze the stock in smaller batches once its made and strained.

Step one:

Step two:

Step three:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Read this blog

I just wanted to share this post from sistah vegan's blog. Veganism and critical consciousness about race issues in the US are often very divorced from one another, and they really shouldn't be. Veganism isn’t just a bleeding-heart white-girl-of-privilege issue, and Breeze identifies several important reasons that people tend to think of it as such.

For example:
(4) Telling me you fight to release animals from cages as priority and have no interest in seeking solidarity against the prison industrial complex, “Because animals can’t chose to be imprisoned, but people can make the choice about being in prison by simply not committing crimes”, leaves me speechless.