Archive for December, 2011

24
Dec
11

Potstickers, Brussel Sprouts and Tempeh

I purchased some brussel sprouts today because Danielle said that she has never had brussel sprouts, and liked them.  I took that as a challenge and this is what I came up with.

    

1 – Package of Nasoya round wraps

1 – Large Onion

2 – Cups of shredded brussel sprouts

1/2 – Package of Tempeh

3 – Egg whites

2 – Cloves of Garlic

1/4 – Cup of chopped cilantro

1 – Tbs of toasted sesame seeds

2 – Tbs of canola oil

Salt and pepper to taste

The first thing you need to do is prepare your veggies.  First I clean up my brussel sprouts.    Chop off the hard ends so they are pretty much round to just below round.  Then peel off the leaves that are very green and are loose.  Now, cut these in half and slice them very thin.  You probably need 10 or 12 for this dish.  The next thing you need to do is to dice your onion.  Make sure it is a pretty fine dice.  Chop or mince your garlic and you are done with the veg mix.

Finally, time to cook.  Bring a saute pan to medium high heat and add 1 Tbs of canola oil.  Once it is nice and hot add the diced onion.  Lightly salt.  Cook this for 5  minutes or so until they are somewhat translucent.  While this is happening take out your tempeh.  Cut the package in half and put that part back in the fridge.  Crumble the remaining piece by using your fingers.  The fresher it is the easier it crumbles.  Once the onions become translucent add the crumbled tempeh and shredded brussel sprouts.  You will need to add a bit more salt, pepper and canola oil at this point.  Let this saute for about 5 minutes or so stirring constantly.  Finally add the chili powder and garlic and cook for another couple minutes.  Check seasoning and add salt or pepper as needed.   Once it is done spread it out on a plate so it can cool.

After about 5 or 10 minutes put it in a bowl and add the egg whites, sesame seeds and cilantro.  Stir it well.  You will want to get your round wraps out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before you begin making the wraps.  The more cold they are the more fragile they are.

Now, it’s time to make the potstickers.  First get a small bowl and fill it with water.  The next thing you need to do is lay out 12 of your round wraps.  (This is enough for 2 people to have 6 portions)  Using a small spoon put a couple teaspoons of the mix on top of the wraps.  Be careful not to add to much.  The more you put in there the harder it is to seal it. I would start with one tsp and work my way up from there.  Once you get your mix in the center of the wrap dip your finger in the water and then run it around the outside of the wrap, all the way around.  Next bring to of the opposite sides together and squeeze them at the top, forming a half moon.  Work your way down the sides, squeezing them together until you reach the bottom.  Get as close to the center as possible, you don’t want any air inside.  Once it is sealed fold the seam over onto it’s self at least 3 or 4 times.  Set it on a counter and make sure it stands up straight.

While you are putting the potstickers together cut a burner on medium and put a saute pan on it.  Put just enough oil in it so the potstickers don’t stick when you put them in the pan.  Once they are in, I do about 12 at a time, put 1/2 cup of water in and put a lid on it.  Let this steam until the water is mostly gone, about 5 minutes or so.  Once the water is gone add a bit more oil and give the potstickers a shake to loosen them.  If they don’t shake loose just use a wooden spoon or something to get them moving.  Continue to brown until the bottoms are nice and crispy, a couple minutes at the most.  Remove them from the pan with some tongs and place them on their sided on a plate.  If you put them bottom side down you will loose some of your crispiness.  I serve mine with soy sauce.

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14
Dec
11

Pineapple/Fig Risotto in a Blue Cheese Sauce

As I was going through the grocery store I was looking for some type of “sale item” I could cook for dinner.  It was pretty barren so I settled on the $2.50 whole pineapples.  As I checked my pantry I found some arborio rice, so I settled on risotto.  This is what I did with my pantry items.

   

1 – Cup of Arborio Rice

3 – Cups of Vegetable Broth

1 – Cup of Fresh Chopped Pineapple

1 – Cup of Peeled, diced fresh Figs or 1/2 cup of dried  Camembert figs, diced

1/2 – Package of Firm Tofu drained, 1/2 inch chopped

1/4 – Cup of Good Blue Cheese, crumbled

1 – Tbs of Butter and Canola oil

1 –  Tsp of Fresh Thyme

2 – Shakes of Parmesan Cheese

Salt to taste

                                             

The first thing you need to do is buy or make some vegetable broth.  I tossed a bunch of carrot, celery, onion, pepper, broccoli and garlic in a pot with about 6 cups of water.  These are the ingredients I had in my fridge.  I salted the water and cooked them at a boil for about 30 minutes.

The first thing I do is prepare the pineapple.  When purchasing fresh pineapple check the base to make sure it is firm but does not give to pressure.  To chop it start by slicing off about 1 inch of the base.  Then do the same for the top.  After this stand up the pineapple and begin running your knife down the sides, removing the skin.  Make sure you go deep enough to get 80% or so of the pits.  Once you get it peeled slice it from top to bottom into 4 long wedges.  The core is tuff so make sure you remove 1 1/2 inches of the core on each wedge.  Finally, slice and rough chop the pieces.

          

Now, let’s make the risotto.  The first thing  you do is add the butter and oil to a pan and bring it to medium heat.  Once you do add the rice.  Saute this for about 3 or 4 minutes.  Next toss in the chopped pineapple and fig.  Cook/stir for about one or two more minutes.  Now it’s time to add the vegetable broth.  Make sure the broth is hot, so if you are using canned o boxed stuff, toss it in a pan to heat up.  Add one cup of the broth to the rice mixture and stir.  Let it continue to cook until the broth has been absorbed, then add 1 more cup of broth.  Continue cooking until the broth has been absorbed again.  At this time add the tofu.  Season to taste.  Finally add the last cup of broth. Cook until it is 80% absorbed.  At this point taste the rice to check and see if it is done.  If not, add a bit more broth.  Once the risotto is soft add the blue cheese in small pieces.  Stir and cut the heat off.  The residual heat will melt the blue cheese and make a nice creamy sauce.    Season to taste.

Spoon the rice onto your serving dish and toss on a couple shakes of parmesan cheese.  To finish this sprinkle a small amount thyme and fresh pineapple over the dish.

This was an amazing dish.  This amount is good for a side dish if you are feeding 4 people. Or this would work as an appetizer for the same amount.  I fed two adults and two kids, and ran out.

08
Dec
11

Pan Seared Scallops over Octopus Braised Swiss Chard and Squid Ink Fettuccine

Once again I am not working off of a recipe.  I pieced this together while walking through the grocery store and seeing what was available.  This fish counter didn’t have anything I had never cooked before, so I decided to make something “fancy” instead.  Here is my ingredient list.   This can be changed up depending on what is available.

     

1 – Package Octopus in oil ( I used Reese Fancy Octopus 4 oz)

2 – Bunches of Swiss Chard or Rainbow Chard

1 – Package of Al Dente Squid Ink Fettuccine Noodles

8 – Large Scallops

6 – Crimini Mushrooms, Sliced

2 – Cloves of garlic, minced

1 – Tbs of Canola oil

2 – Tbs of Extra virgin Olive oil.

2 – Shakes of Parmesan Cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

The first thing I did was drain the octopus pieces so I could use the oil for the Swiss chard.  Before I begin prepping up the other items I get 2 pots of water on the stove so they can head toward a rolling boil.  They should be good-sized because you are going to use them for the pasta and chard.  I would also pull the scallops out of the fridge and put them on a paper towel to dry.  Now back to prepping.  Clean and prep the chard just like you would do most any greens.  Pinch the leaves toward one another, starting at the base, and pull them off.  Discard the stem.  Stack up some of the leaves and cut them into 1/2 to 1 inch strips.  It cooks down more like spinach than other greens.

This is where it gets interesting.  Add 2 saute pans to the other two eyes.  I know, using 4 burners at one time, for one dish seems excessive.  Trust me it is actually easy.   The only reason you need 4 at one time is for the timing, so that everything gets done about the same time.  In saute pan number one add about 2 table spoons of the reserved octopus oil and heat over medium.  Add the sliced crimini mushrooms and garlic.  Rough chop the octopus and add it as well. Flip the scallops over on the paper towel to make sure they are getting good and dry.  Next add the chard to one of the pots of boiling water.  Cook for about 3 minutes.  You do this to pull some of the acids out of the chard.  Once this is done drain it and add it to the mushrooms and octopus.  Stir it in well and reduce the heat to medium low.  Season the chard at this time.  You are just trying to marry the flavors at this point.

You can now add the canola oil the second saute pan and bring it up to a medium – medium high heat.  Once it is hot season the scallops with salt and add them to the pan.  I would also drop my pasta in the water at this point.  This brand only takes 3 minutes to cook.  Make sure the pasta water is well salted.  It should taste like ocean water.  Once the scallops have browned on once side, flip them over.  It will probably take 3 or 4 minutes.  Cook them about the same amount of time on the other side.  You want them to be cooked to medium at the most.  Once you get higher than that they get very chewy, not “good eats”.  Once my pasta is done drain it, in the same strainer you used for the chard.  Put it back in the pot you just drained from and add the chard, mushroom and octopus mixture.  Now is when you would add the extra virgin olive oil.  I find it easiest to toss it with a pair of tongs.

Now that everything is cooked it’s time to plate it up.  Using a pair of tongs pull some of the pasta/chard out of the pot.  Put it on the plate, twisting it to try to give it some height.  The give each plate a couple shakes of Parmesan cheese.  If you have a block of parm that is even better.  You could shave some on with a veggie peeler.  Next cut the scallops in half giving you 16 medallions.  Arrange these on the top of the pasta.  This is a very nice looking dish.  The contrast of the squid ink pasta, mushrooms and the scallops pops nicely on the plate, especially a very white plate.  I will definitely be making this again.  The family loved it.  There is also enough pasta left over for lunch the next day.