Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Red Chile Sauce

Those that know me, or those that have been with 28 Cooks for awhile, know that I absolutely adore hot spicy foods. I recently purchased some dried red chilies to make the Cilantro Potato Salad. Unfortunately, they were only sold in a large container, so I've since been trying to find things to do with the leftovers.
I haven't made a new hot sauce in a bit, and I wanted to try and capture the smokiness of the dried chilies. This sauce is quite flavorful and has its own personality, so it would be perfect as a sauce over beans, enchiladas, rice, or a million other things.

Red Chile Sauce

Red Chile Sauce
2 1/4 c water
15 dried thai chilies
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt

Place water and chilies in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to soak for 45 minutes. Place chilies and 1 cup of soaking liquid in blender or food processor. Process for 2-3 minutes. Turn into a sieve and rub through sieve into bowl to eliminate small bits of peel. Rinse blender with an additional 1 cup soaking liquid and pour over remaining pulp in sieve.
In small saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add garlic, and saute 30 seconds. Add flour, and whisking well, cook for 1 minute. Slowly add pepper liquid and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, until thick. Allow to cool, and serve over rice, beans, or anything that could use a little spiciness.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Garden Vegetable Tomato Sauce

This is my favorite time of year, when all of the end of summer produce is getting out of hand, and people are begging people to take their extras. Since I live in an apartment in the city, I have no outside space for a garden. If I did, I would definitely have it bursting with fresh veggies and herbs, but for now, I must simply wait for the goodwill of others to fill my produce drawers.

This week, I was gifted with a lovely eggplant, some fresh summer squash, and some gorgeous blood red tomatoes. I knew right away I wanted to combine them into a lovely fresh-tasting vegetable tomato sauce.

The ingredients are so simple in this recipe, and it gives the produce a perfect stage to showcase its flavorful ripeness. It's so tasty you may be tempted to eat it by itself, but it would also be incredible over pasta, rice, or wholewheat couscous.

Garden Vegetable Tomato Sauce

Garden Vegetable Tomato Sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups yellow squash, chopped
1 cup red onion, chopped
2 cups eggplant, chopped*
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fennel seed, crushed
1 c tomato, chopped
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes in puree
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

In a large saucepan, heat 3 tbsp olive oil. Add squash and onion, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add eggplant, cook an additional 3 minutes. Add garlic and fennel seed, and saute 3 minutes. Add tomato, crushed tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. Stir well, and simmer over low heat until vegetables are tender. Serve over pasta, rice, or couscous.

*To prepare my eggplant, I always slice it lengthwise a few times, sprinkle with salt, and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes. The salt draws out the bitterness. Rinse off well before chopping.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Black Bean Salsa

I've made the Bueno Fresh Salsa so many times this summer for parties, picnics, and to take into work, I just needed something new.

As you can tell from my archives, I'm a huge fan of black beans. And as someone said in the comments of the Southwest Couscous salad, there isn't a better combination than black beans, cilantro, and lime juice.

Those 3 ingredients make up the backbone of this salsa, and although the ingredients list is somewhat simple, and will take about 15 minutes to make start to finish, it's got a lovely rounded and full flavor.

Black Bean Salsa

Black Bean Salsa

1 (30 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c diced yellow bell pepper
1/4 c minced red onion
1/2 c minced fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
4 dried thai chilies, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dried basil

Combine all ingredients well in large bowl. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so before serving. Serve with tortilla chips, or mix into rice or couscous for a very quick salad.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Pickled Vegetables

Everybody Likes Sandwiches (great blog name, btw, because who doesn't like sandwiches) recently had a post about making refrigerator pickles. It immediately took my mind back to a recipe for pickled vegetables that I haven't made in a very long time.

Refrigerator pickles are one of those things that you don't normally make, but when you do, you remember how tasty they can be. This recipe was originally from Alton Brown, but of course I've made some changes. I think you'll find these tangy pickles just as addictive as I do. It's also going to help with some of that produce bounty that the end of summer brings.

Pickled Vegetables

Pickled Vegetables
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 kirby cucumber, 1/4" slices
8 oz baby carrots, cut in halves
4 cloves garlic, cut in halves
1 cup water
1/2 c white vinegar
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp pickling spices
1 tsp peppercorns

Layer onion, cucumber, carrots, and garlic cloves in a large jar. Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 minutes. Slowly pour liquid over vegetables, filling to the top of the jar. Allow to cool, then top jar off with any remaining liquid. Refrigerate at least overnight before digging in (if you can).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Southwest Couscous Salad with Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette

Here is it, already the 16th of August, and summer is almost over. School will be starting in the next few weeks, and the dog days of summer will soon turn to the crispy days of fall. It's about this time of year when people start to realize summer will soon be closing its doors for the year, and hustle to have those last minute picnics and get-togethers.

Vegetarian Times had a lovely little couscous salad in the latest issue that inspired me to make this. While the main ingredients are basically the same, I completely re-made the dressing into this tangy little chipolte lime vinaigrette. And not only is this couscous salad tasty, but it's also pretty nutrionally sound, with olive oil being its only added fat. It's also got a lovely look to it, and I promise it will be a hit at whatever meal you serve it.

SW Couscous Salad

Southwest Couscous Salad with Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette
1 1/2 c water
1/2 tsp salt
1 c uncooked couscous
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 c red onion
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 c fresh cilantro, minced

Chipolte Lime Vinaigrette
4 1/2 tbsp olive oil
4 1/2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp adobo sauce (from canned chipotle chilies)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp toasted cumin seed, crushed
3/4 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp sugar

Bring water and salt to a boil. Add couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes, until all moisture is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Cool. Add beans, jalapeno, red onion, and tomato. In food processor, combine all vinaigrette ingredients. Process until well combined. Add to mixing bowl, and stir well. Stir in fresh cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Spiced Soynuts

Soynuts are a great source of protein and a wonderful snacking idea. A half cup provides 7 grams of fiber and 34 grams of protein. I'm a huge fan of the seasoned and spicy soynuts I find in my health food store, but as I was reading the label, I discovered that egg whites are a common ingredient.

These are a great egg-free variation, and the spice possibilities are almost endless. And rather than heat up my kitchen with the oven on, I did these in a half batch in the toaster oven and they turned out marvelously. Warning - these can be extremely addictive.

Spiced Soynuts

Spiced Soynuts
2 cups roasted unsalted soynuts*
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon

In a bowl, stir soynuts and olive oil together. Place into a brown paper bag and shake with spices until well coated. Place into preheated oven and bake 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, pour onto a papertowel lined plate, and allow to cool. Store in airtight container.

*If you can only find salted soynuts, just use garlic powder in place of garlic salt.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

As you can tell from most of my recipes on here, I eat a primarily vegetarian diet. However, in the sidebar, you'll notice I call myself a vegaquarian, so I do occasionally eat some sort of seafood or fish.

This was a recipe I used to make with chicken quite frequently back when I was a meat eater. My friend Lina suggested making it with shrimp, and I'd have to say it's a perfect fit.

Although some of the ingredients in the sauce sound a bit interesting, like the orange marmalade, I can guarantee you it's a perfect partner to the fresh ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. Serve in a lettuce wrap, or just over rice - either way, I think you'll be in love.

Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
2 lbs smaller-sized shrimp, peeled
1/2 c soy sauce
1/3 c honey
3 scallions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2" piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Butter, red leaf, or romaine lettuce
1 c cooked jasmine or basmati rice
6 tbsp rice vinegar
5 tbsp orange marmalade

Peel shrimp and place into a large ziploc bag. In a food processor, combine soy sauce, honey, scallions, garlic, ginger, pepper, and sesame oil until well combined. Pour over shrimp and seal bag. Allow to marinate 25-30 minutes. Drain shrimp from marinade, reserving marinade for later. Heat wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Add shrimp, and stirfry until done, about 5-7 minutes. Remove shrimp from pan with slotted spoon, and place into a serving bowl. Stir in fresh basil. Add rice vinegar and marmalade to pan, along with remaining marinade. Bring to a boil, and allow to boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
To assemble lettuce wraps, place a leaf of lettuce on a plate. Scoop some rice onto leaf, and then top with a healthy portion of shrimp. Pour a small amount of sauce over shrimp. Wrap, eat, and repeat!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Asian Green Beans

I think summer has to be the greatest season for any vegetarian, at least on the East Coast. Around here, we don't have access to fresh fruits and vegetables year-round. But living in the middle of Amish and farming country, summer is the time you can't make a move without running into a fresh vegetable stand.

I saw these green beans and knew I had to take some home. Although I plan on using them in their fresh and raw state, I also just wanted something quick to whip up for a side dish.

These remind me of the ubiquitious green beans that can be found on almost every single Chinese buffet I've ever seen. From start to finish, they take about 10-15 minutes to make, so you can have these delicious beans on the table in no time at all. The fresh ginger and garlic make these especially savory.

Asian Green Beans

Asian Green Beans

1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 thin slices of fresh ginger
1 scallion, minced
3 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 c water

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add beans and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from pot and immediately plunge into a bowl of cold water. Allow to sit for a minute or two, then drain and set aside. In a wok over medium high heat, heat sesame oil. Add garlic, ginger, and scallions, and saute for 2 minutes. Add sugar and soy sauce, and bring to a boil, stirring well. Add beans and water, and cook for 3 minutes, or until beans are at desired tenderness. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Mediterranean Stuffed Tomatoes

It's hot everywhere. I just got home from suffering through a dry 122 degrees in California, and now I'm suffering through a humid 103 degrees here in Pennsylvania. Anyone that cooks knows that the last thing you want to do on a sticky hot day is heat up the kitchen by turning on the oven.

That's why these are perfect. The couscous cooks up quickly, and the rest is a matter of just chopping and mixing. It's also a perfect way to use up the huge crop of fresh tomatoes that are ready right about this time.

Med stuffed tomatoes

Mediterranean Stuffed Tomatoes
4 large tomatoes
1 c cucumber, peeled and diced
1 c cooked couscous
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
3 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Salt/pepper to taste

Slice tops off of tomatoes. Scoop out the insides, discarding as many seeds as possible. Chop the rest of the flesh and place into medium bowl. Salt and pepper the insides of the tomatoes and set aside. Add remaining ingredients into bowl and stir well. Fill each tomato with a heaping portion of the couscous mixture. Serve and enjoy! (The filling is also wonderful by itself, and would make a great salad or side.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Well hello!

KJ Grapes

I had such an excellent time on vacation. It's the first time in a long time that I've had more than 3 consecutive days off from work, so it was definitely a well needed time.

The purpose of the trip was to attend my uncle's wedding in San Bernadino. It was a lovely affair, despite being an outdoor wedding on a day the thermometer hit 122 degrees. Seriously, do you have any idea how hot that is?? I felt rather lucky, however, that I was able to get away with just a simple dress and sandals as opposed to the 3-piece suits the groomsmen were wearing.

Although it was great to see family, the highlight of my trip was definitely the time we spent in San Francisco and the Napa Valley. Although I'm originally from Southern California, I've never been to the Northern parts of it. I was thoroughly enchanted with it, and fell truly, madly, and deeply in love with it.

Hook and Ladder

I didn't get to spend as much time as I wanted in the Napa Valley, but I did hit a few vineyards and did some wine tasting. I tasted quite a few excellent wines, and wished I had more room in my luggage to bring home more than 3 bottles.

All in all, it was a fabulous trip. I took far less pictures that I thought I would. I blame it on being so friggin' hot. But I'll leave you with one of my most favorite pictures from the trip. This is a little girl we saw at one of the In-N-Out Burger joints we stopped at. (BTW, the vegetarian "Grilled Cheese" they make is quite outstanding) Check out what she has tucked into her pocket.

Little Lady Handgun

I like to call this picture "You know you're in LA when...."

I'll see you tomorrow with something tasty!