Thursday, March 30, 2006

Tofu Jerky

So I was monkeying around on the Internet, browsing recipes and vegetarian websites, and I came across the idea of Tofu Jerky. I've never tried Tofu Jerky, and you know how I was a bit skeeved out by the texture of tofu, but yet I was oddly intrigued by the idea of jerky made out of it. And since I'll try anything once, I decided to give it the old college try.
I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. Although the texture isn't like real jerky, it's oddly close enough. I also think that the seasonings are distracting enough that this is rather enjoyable. I definitely think that most people, vegetarian or not, would enjoy this as a fairly healthy snack. While I can't see myself making this weekly, I definitely think it will be kept to try again.

Tofu jerky

Tofu Jerky
(recipe based on this one)

1 lb extra-firm tofu
1/2 c tamari (or soy sauce)
3 tbsp liquid smoke
1/8 c water
1 tbsp onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp harissa (optional)

I pressed my tofu by wrapping in paper towels and putting it on a plate. I then put a large wooden cutting board on top, and stacked about 4 cans on top of it. I left it for about 45 minutes, and then took it out of the "press."
Slice tofu about 1/4" thick. I carefully placed my slices into a ziploc bag, and added the marinade. Allow to marinate for a few hours or overnight.
I then put mine in the food dehydrator, and it took about 17 hours to dry to a chewy, not crispy texture. Alternately, you can bake in a 200 degree oven, flipping every few hours, for about 4 to 8 hours, until done.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I adore hot sauces, and I always have, even when I was younger. But I came by it honestly - I grew up with a mother who always carried a bottle of hot sauce in her purse. Even now, if we go out for dinner, I know a bottle of Cholula Hot Sauce is only a few feet away. (As an aside, I've been known to carry a travel pepper grinder, but that's a whole different story)

Anyway, I love to try different hot sauces, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of sauces. Hot sauces are also extremely easy to make. This sauce, harissa, is a staple in North African cuisine. There are quite a few variations, but the base ingredients of dried red chilies and garlic are always present.

This sauce can be used on virtually anything. You can use it as a hot sauce, or stir into rice or couscous for a great side dish. As for as heat goes, on a scale of 1-10, I would place this at a 7, with 10 being the hottest. You can always omit the cayenne pepper for a mild sauce.



1 1/2 oz dried chilies
2 c boiling water
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp caraway seed, crushed
1 c onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
4 tsp lime juice

Place chilies in hot water, and allow to soak for 30 minutes. Place peppers and water into food processor, and blend well. Set aside. Combine flour and next five ingredients. Set aside. Heat oil in pan, and saute onions and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Add flour mixture, stir well, and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add pepper/water mixture, and bring to a boil. Stir in tomato paste and salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Place mixture into blender, and puree well. Stir in lime juice and store in refrigerator.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Peanut Noodle Salad

You know how I'm a sucker for peanut sauces, right? Well, this one is probably my absolute favorite. It's a very simple recipe, and only takes about 20 minutes to whip up.
The lime, the peanut butter, and the fresh cilantro are magic together. I went fairly simple with the add-ins this time, although some shredded carrots, bean sprouts, and possibly even some tofu could make this a full meal in no time!

Peanut Noodle Salad

Peanut-Lime Noodle Salad

1/2 lb angel hair pasta, cooked, rinsed, and cooled
3-4 scallions, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano chili, chopped
3 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
1 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all sauce ingredients, other than oils, in a food processor until well blended. Slowly drizzle in oil, and process well. Allow to chill for 30 minutes.
Pour over noodles and remaining salad ingredients. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Cauliflower and Potato Curry
(recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times, April 2006)

I love Indian food. I love everything about it - the fragrant spices, the versatility, the comfort of it. I'm also a huge fan since Indian cuisine includes quite a lot of stand alone high-powered vegetarian dishes.
One of my favorite Indian spices is curry, and I don't think I've had a curry yet that I don't like. This recipe came from the current edition of Vegetarian Times, and is a fairly quick and easy dish to prepare.

Cauliflower Curry

Cauliflower and Potato Curry

2 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 c onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tbsp + 1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 c cauliflower florets
3-4 medium red-skinned potatoes, peeled and diced
1 c canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and ginger, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Add curry powder and garlic, and cook 30 seconds, stirring often. Add cauliflower and potates, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until they start to soften. Add tomatoes, 1/4 c cilantro, 1/2 c water, and salt.
Simmer, reduce heat, and cook, covered for 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Stir in remaining cilantro and cook, covered, for 2 more minutes.
Serve alone or over rice.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Coconut Date Pudding

Do you ever just want a taste of something sweet, but don't want to have to visit the calorie confessional the next day? I love desserts that are simple to make, yet are low in calories and fat.
This pudding is light and refreshing, and the coconut and date combination is very tasty. Overall, it's not very sweet, so you might need to up the sweetener if you prefer.

Date Coconut Pudding

Coconut Date Pudding

1/2 c dates, finely chopped
1/4 c flake coconut
1 c soymilk
1 c coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 T pure maple syrup or honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c flour

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Whisking well, bring to a boil. Boil for an additional 2-3 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour, then serve, garnished with coconut.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ginger Carrot Morning Cookies

With my busy schedule, I rarely have the luxury of eating a full breakfast before taking off. Knowing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it's hard finding the right thing to grab and go.

Muffins, donuts, and biscuits are all loaded with fat and calories. I wanted something light I could throw in a bag and eat on the run. That's where these come in. Overall, there is barely any fat in these. The fresh carrot and ginger give it a lovely flavor, and the flax seed meal and whole wheat flower add a delicious whole grain taste. There's not a lot of sweetener in them, so if you prefer things to be sweet, I'd add more. Also, raisins or dried cranberries would be lovely in these as well.

*This is also my entry for Kalyn's Kitchen Weekend Herb Blogging. Swing on over to her site on Sunday to see some more wonderful recipes showcasing herbs. Also, check out Kalyn's site for more wonderful recipes. She's got plenty of low carb, low fat recipes to tempt you*

Ginger Carrot Cookies

Ginger Carrot Morning Cookies
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c flax seed meal
1 1/4 c rolled oats
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1 c grated carrot
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch sea salt
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced finely
1 egg (or egg substitute)
2/3 c soymilk
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp oil

Preheat oven to 375. Combine all dry ingredients, flour to salt, in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine ginger through honey. Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir with a large spatula until combined. Do not overstir! 14-16 strokes should be enough.
Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, and place into oven. Bake about 20-25 minutes, until done in the center. Cool on a rack and serve.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Falafels with Cilantro and Tahini Sauces

After an intense craving for falafels, I devised this recipe, along with the 2 sauces. Trust me, you might not ever want another strip-mall falafel ever again after trying this one. The flavor of the falafels is the perfect showcase for the spicy cilantro sauce, and the creamy cool tahini sauce.
Although the recipe looks a bit long in the ingredients, trust me when I say it took about 1/2 hour from start to finish, including the frying.


Falafels with Cilantro and Tahini Sauces

2 c chickpeas, drained
1/2 c onion, finely minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp flour

Tahini Sauce
1/3 c tahini
1/2 c water
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt

Cilantro Sauce
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
pinch sugar
4 oz plain yogurt

Combine all ingredients for falafels in food processor. (Or I just use a potato masher with the beans until nicely smashed, and then handstir in the remaining ingredients. I like to retain some of the texture) Set in refrigerator to chill while making sauces.
Combine all Tahini sauce ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.
(*Note - by itself, right after it's made, this sauce will seem way too overwhelming to be good with anything. Trust me when I say it will become a fabulous member of the entire equation)
Combine all Cilantro sauce ingredients, except for yogurt, in food processor and blend until smooth. Add yogurt, and pulse until well-blended.
Heat oil in heavy frying pan. Make patties of falafel mixture, about 2 tbsp each. Fry on each side until crisp and browned. Drain on paper towels.
Serve falafels in a pita with fresh lettuce, tomato, and onion with both sauces drizzled on top, by themselves with the sauce, or top a salad with them.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Spiced Applesauce Bread

After a brief vacation, I am back in the kitchen. I wanted something quick to make for breakfast, yet something hearty. I'm not really a bagel or biscuit person, but I'm a sucker for a quickbread. This recipe was based on one I found on one of the many vegetarian groups I belong to.

I love the spice and moistness, and the flax meal really gives it a lovely nutty texture and taste.

Applesauce Bread

Spiced Applesauce Bread
1/2 c flax seed meal
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 c white flour
3/4 c sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 egg (or egg substitute)
1 c applesauce (I used an apple blackberry sauce)
2 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in small bowl. Combine all wet ingredients in large bowl, and add dry ingredients. Stir until combined, and spread into a greased loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven for about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
Remove from oven and pan, and cool completely.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thai Basil Hummus
I know, I know. I should have titled this blog "28 Cooks Hummus." But this recipe, which I received from good old E (who is not only my coworker, but in less than a week will be my neighbor) is really quite fantastic.
As I've said before, almost anything is good with a peanut sauce, and this hummus proves it. It's especially tasty with the fresh basil thrown in there.
Recently, someone suggested warming up hummus and tossing it over pasta or steamed vegetables. This would probably be the perfect hummus to use.

Thai Hummus

Thai Basil Hummus
2 (15oz) cans garbano beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp roasted peanut oil
2 tbsp peanut butter
juice and zest of 2 limes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c fresh basil leaves, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt/pepper to taste

Combine beans, oil, peanut butter, lime juice and zest, and garlic. *I use the potato masher to keep a great texture, but feel free to use a food processor* Stir in basil, pepper, salt, and pepper. Allow to chill for an hour or so, then serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

7th Circle Peanut Butter

Some of you might look at the ingredients of this and immediately be turned off by the combination. I have to admit that even I was skeptical the first time I tried it. However, it is such a wonderful combination of flavors, that it's hard to resist. You start off with the sweetness of the peanut butter and honey, followed by the tanginess of the lemon juice and garlic, and then it's all rounded out with a nice heat.
This is fabulous with pretzels, spread on toast or crackers, on celery, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

Peanut Butter

7th Circle Peanut Butter
1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 c peanut oil
2 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp soy sauce
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp hot water

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Stirring constantly, heat until it starts to bubble. Do not burn!! After a minute of bubbling, place in a jar and allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Chai-Spiced Rice Pudding

I wasn't a huge fan of rice pudding until I started working at a restaurant where the recipe was an old greek family one. After that, I sort of got hooked on it, and it's the perfect comfort food, whether hot or cold.
Chai has gained much popularity here in the United States over the past few years. However, living in Kenya for a few years when I was younger, chai was served everyday, almost everywhere you went. The combination of cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice make a great warming combination, and combined with the creaminess of the rice pudding, it makes a gorgeous comfort food.

Chai Rice Pudding

Chai-spiced Rice Pudding
5 c soymilk or almond milk
1 c medium grain rice
2/3 c sugar
1/3 tsp salt
1/8 c crystallized ginger, finely diced
3/4 tsp cinnamon
a very scant 1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Bring milk, rice, sugar, and salt to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, until rice is tender. *Do not cook all of the moisture out. Pudding will thicken up as it sits. Remove from heat and stir in spices.
Serve warm or cold.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sundried Tomato and Pesto Hummus
I think I'm obsessed with hummus, although I have to ask myself, "How could I not be?" It's fresh-tasting, it's healthy, and it's super easy and inexpensive to whip up. I think maybe I should just write a hummus cookbook.
Here's the next one I tried and loved. Of course the sundried tomatoes speak for themselves, and the pesto is a very nice touch.

Sundried Tom Hummus

Sundried Tomato and Pesto Hummus

1 can (15oz) garbanzo beans
3 tbsp oil from sundried tomatoes
2 tsp pesto
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced
7 sundried tomatoes, minced

Combine beans, oil, pesto, lemon juice, tahini, and garlic. I use a potato masher, but feel free to use a food processor and blend together well. Stir in tomatoes, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow to chill for an hour or so, and serve.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sundried Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad
I love dishes that are fresh and summery in the dead of winter when all you want is spring. This is a great dish, and the sundried tomato dressing brings it alive. Of course, the fresh mozzarella and basil don't hurt either.
Sundried Tom Pasta

Sundried Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad

5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c sundried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained
1 tbsp of oil from tomatoes
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1 tbsp capers
2 cloves garlic, minced

12 oz pasta, cooked
2 c cherry tomatoes, halved
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 pieces
1 c fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 c fresh parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper

Cook pasta according to directions. In the meantime, process all dressing ingredients in food processor until tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Combine pasta, dressing, and rest of the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Porcini and Parmesan Risotto

I've fallen in love. As soon as I opened the package of dried porcini, I knew that we would be happy together for the rest of our lives.The aroma of the dried mushrooms is amazingly meaty and powerful, yet has some delicately earthy notes.
Although the porcinis were fabulous in the potstickers, this risotto really gives them the room to show their true flavor. The parmesan added at the end adds a lovely nuttiness to it and to the overall creaminess of the dish.
I'm betting you'll love this dish as much as I did...

Porcini Risotto

Porcini and Parmesan Risotto
6 c vegetable stock
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp finely chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups arborio rice
1 oz dried porcinis
2 c hot water
freshly ground black pepper
1 c freshly grated Parmesan

Soak mushrooms in water for 30 minutes. Drain, saving water, squeeze out excess from mushrooms, and chop.
Bring the broth to a simmer in a small saucepan next to where you are cooking the risotto.
In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp butter and olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions, and cook until translucent, but not brown. Add garlic, and saute for 30 seconds. Add rice, and stir until it is well coated with oil mixture. Continue to stir until it takes on a golden color.
Add 1/2 c of the hot broth. Cook, stirring constantly but slowly, scraping bottoms and sides, until all moisture is gone. When there is no more liquid, add another 1/2 c of broth. Continue stirring and adding broth for about 10 minutes. Add chopped mushrooms, and 1/2 of the mushroom soaking water. Stir until all liquid is gone, then add more soaking water. Continue until all soaking water is gone. Continue with broth, until rice is very tender, yet still firm to the bite. Once all liquid is gone, remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste, the remaining butter, and the parmesan cheese. Stir well and serve immediately.