Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tilapia with Parmesan Crab Sauce

I think one of the best parts of cooking is being able to feed other people. I love to entertain and have people enjoy my cooking. Every home cook wants to be able to wow their guests and have everyone talking about their food for a long time. You want people to beg for the recipes. And best of all, you want to be able to say, "Oh, this old recipe?? I just threw it together."

Every home chef needs a few good "ace-in-the-hole" recipes - you know, the ones you can throw together, yet they look like you were slaving in the kitchen for hours. This recipe is absolutely perfect. It looks gourmet, yet you can truly have this on the table in about a half an hour. The ingredients are simple and are probably found in any well stocked refrigerator and pantry.

I adore this recipe. It's perfect for serving to guests or for a nice quiet romantic dinner. Go ahead - give it a try. And then sit back and wait for the compliments to come.

Tilapia with Parmesan Crab Sauce

Tilapia with Parmesan Crab Sauce
Serves 4

4 tilapia filets
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
A scant 1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp soy milk
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/8 c dry white wine
3/4 c Parmesan cheese, shredded
8 oz fresh crab meat (I use claw)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and nutmeg. Slowly whisk in milk. Continue whisking and cook until smooth. Add in worcestershire, white wine, and Parmesan cheese. Add crab, mix well, and remove from heat. Season tilapia filets with salt and pepper. Place in well oiled baking dish. Pour sauce over tilapia. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And the winner is.....

The winner of the Sweet Melissa Baking Book is Magpie, who is the author of the food blog Je Le Vous Dirais. Congratulations!

And what great cooking tips and ideas. So many of them are things I couldn't live without in my kitchen too. I'm in love with my Le Creuset pots and use them for almost everything. I'm also convinced that I now need more! I also use my silicon spatulas quite a bit and my bamboo cooking spoons are always close at hand. I also love my bar-sized cutting board I purchased last year. I use it almost daily and it's the perfect size for cutting almost anything.

Thanks for sharing and thanks for playing!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Who Doesn't Love a Contest?

So I received a wonderful new cookbook in the mail from a publisher to review and I just happened to get an extra copy. So guess what that means??

It can be ALL yours!


The Sweet Melissa Baking Book is a great cookbook from the owner of the Sweet Melissa P√Ętisserie shops in Brooklyn. She has some very tasty French-influenced treats that I'm sure any baker would love. I have my eyes on her Guinness Gingerbread. There's also a recipe for Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake that just has to be good.

To be entered into the drawing, simply leave me a comment with the one thing in your kitchen that you simply can't live without. That's all you have to do!
Enter before midnite on March 24th and the winner will be announced on March 25th.
Good luck!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pineapple Curry Hummus

I don't know where it comes from. But sometimes, random combinations of flavors will pop into my head and I'll write them down for later. In my hummus file, I've had "pineapple" and "curry" written down for a long time, but I've been scared to try it. Theoretically, I thought it could possibly work, but I was still scared. Today I conquered that fear. Even walking through the grocery store this morning, picking up ingredients, I was still very apprehensive about how it would all work out together.

Amazingly enough, it's very tasty. The sweetness of the pineapple is just perfect to offset the full-on flavor of the curry powder. It actually reminds me of an Indian dish I've had in the past. This is definitely one hummus recipe you'll have to try to taste how the flavors work together.

Pineapple Curry Hummus

Pineapple Curry Hummus

1 (15.9 oz) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 c olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp tahini
1 scant tsp curry powder
1/3 c crushed pineapple
salt to taste

Combine beans, oil, lemon juice, tahini, and curry powder in food processor. Process until well blended. Remove, place in medium sized bowl, and stir in pineapple. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so for flavors to make friends.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tempeh Chili
So since my first foray into tempeh was very successful, I decided to give it another try in a different dish. I was googling "tempeh" to find some different recipes and chili is one of the most common uses. I figured I'd follow the flow and try it.

Once again, I was not disappointed. The tempeh, when grated, almost tastes and looks like rice, so even non-vegetarians will find this hearty and satisfying. My roommate, who isn't completely sold on the whole tempeh thing, gave this recipe 2 thumbs up. As with almost all chilis, flavors improve overnight, so this is perfect for packing into lunches.

Tempeh Chili

Tempeh Chili

1 (8 oz) pkg tempeh

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp Lousiana-style hot sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp sesame oil

4 tbsp oil
4 cloves garlic
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (15 oz) can black beans
1/2 c water

In large ziploc bag, combine all marinade ingredients. Add tempeh, seal bag, and refrigerate for 1-8 hours (or longer). Grate tempeh with large grater and place into medium bowl with remaining marinade. Heat olive oil over medium-high in large pot. Add garlic and onion, and saute until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add Italian seasoning, mustard, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper, and stir for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, beans, tempeh, and water. Stir well, bring to a boil, then lower heat. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 30-45 minutes, until chili is thickened. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Just Because It's Vegan: Raw Vegan Brownies

I admit, even I'm guilty. Guilty of that mindset that just because something is vegan, it can't taste that good. Even though I've been a vegetarian for years, I still have the tendency to shy away from those things labeled "Vegan." And you know what - I have absolutely no reason to.

My friend, LJ, who just recently went vegan, made these brownies last week. After both her kids and her meat-eating husband loved them, she passed the recipe on to me. I have to admit, I was slightly skeptical, but I figured I'd give them a try. And I'm glad I did. Not only are they super easy to make, but they taste really really good. There's plenty of versions on the internet for these things, but I switched it up a bit adding some dried cherries. I'm sure you could substitute any other dried fruit as well and have some great tasty variations.

This is also the first entry in a new feature that will be popping up from time to time here on 28 Cooks, entitled "Just Because It's Vegan." These will be recipes that will be strictly vegan, but will satisfy almost everyone.

Raw Vegan Brownies

Raw Vegan Brownies
12 servings

1/2 c dried dates
1/2 c dried cherries
1/4 c carob powder (or cocoa powder)
1 c walnuts
3 tbsp agave nectar (or honey)

Process all in food processor until ingredients are well mixed and chopped. Press into a small square baking pan and freeze for 1 hour. Slice brownies into 12 pieces. Store in fridge.

Nutritional information per serving - 119 calories, less than 1 g saturated fat, 2 grams of protein

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hearty Mushroom Soup

I know, I know. Mushrooms again. You're probably sick of seeing them and definitely sick of hearing me go on and on about how much I love them. And I was fully intending to not do another mushroom related post for a few weeks. But this is what happens when you have a bunch of mushrooms having out in your refrigerator, left over from other recipes, and you don't want to throw them away.

I was looking at different food blogs and ran across "The Jew and a Carrot." They had a fantastic little mushroom soup recipe that sounded so good, I immediately printed it out to try it.

I've made quite a few variations to it and I think it's quite tasty. I wanted just a subtle hint of spice to it, so I added just a touch of some classic Indian flavors. I also wanted to make it more of a creamy soup, yet without adding any cream, so I ran my stick blender in it for a few seconds. All in all, I think this a great soup that any mushroom lover is bound to enjoy. (As an aside, even my non-mushroom loving roommate found this soup to be tasty)

Hearty Mushroom Soup

Hearty Mushroom Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1 1/2 pounds of assorted mushrooms, chopped (I used a combination of baby bellas, oyster, and white button)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 quart of vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Saute shallots and garlic for 30 seconds. Add coriander, cumin, and mustard seeds and saute for an additional 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, salt to taste, cover with lid, and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mushrooms should be semi-tender. Add Worcestershire, vegetable stock, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 25 minutes. Process two-thirds of the soup in a blender or pulse for a few minutes with the immersion blender. Add fresh parsley, stir well, and serve.

To make parmesan crisps, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Place tablespoons of freshly shredded parmesan cheese on sheet and press down. Sprinkle with freshly-cracked peppercorns, toasted cumin seed, or other spice blends. Bake 5-10 minutes until crispy. Cool.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Buffalo Tempeh "Wings"

So I've got this fear of faux meats and all things tofu, tempeh, and seitan. I think it all stems from the first time I ever tried tofu. I was 16 and found a recipe for a seasoned tofu burger in a Cooking Light magazine. For some reason, I can remember the recipe taking me forever to make. I think there was pressing, marinating, cooking, frying, and probably a zillion other steps. (Actually, probably not, but you know how years have a tendency to exaggerate things) Anyway, I finally finished the recipe, sat down at the table, took a huge bite, and promptly spit it out. I absolutely hated it. The texture was completely different than I expected. And since I'm such a huge texture person, I was done. I swore off tofu for years.

Since I became a vegetarian, I still haven't really ever forgiven tofu. Sure, I have a few recipes that have tofu in them, but it's usually so well disguised that it's not discernable. I avoid the faux meats case in the grocery store, although my little vegetarian heart feels guilty for not giving it a try.

So today I did it. I recently purchased a great cookbook, Veganomicon, and have been reading all of the tempeh and seitan recipes. It got me thinking that maybe I was being just a bit harsh writing it all off over 1 bad experience. After a few days, I finally decided it was time to stop being a baby and give it the old college try. I found this recipe on the internet, made a few modifications, threw it in the oven, and crossed my fingers.

Let me tell you - delicious. No, seriously. They're delicious. Now I'm not getting crazy and saying meat eaters are going to eat this and instantly convert, but it's seriously tasty. The texture is different, but good different. The panko crumbs on the outside really give it a crunchy texture, and there's nothing a little wing sauce can't make tasty. Although the directions look lengthy, it really doesn't take more than 35-40 minutes to have these on the table. If you haven't tried tempeh, let this be your first recipe. And if you have, then you'd be crazy for not trying this recipe. Now it's your turn to give it the old college try.

*This recipe is dedicated to a longtime reader of 28 Cooks, LJ, who recently became a vegan. Enjoy, LJ!*

Buffalo Tempeh "Wings"

Buffalo Tempeh "Wings"
1 (8 oz) pkg tempeh
1/3 c soy milk
1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup Italian seasoninged panko crumbs

Wing Sauce
1/2 c Louisiana-style hot sauce
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp ketchup

Bring 4 cups of water to boil over high heat. Meanwhile, remove tempeh from package. Slice into 8 strips. (If you are a first time tempheh eater and have texture issues, I recommend slicing into 10-12 strips) Once water is boiling, lower heat to medium high, add tempeh, and boil for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.
Set out 3 bowls. In one, pour in soy milk. In the second, combine flour and seasonings. In third bowl, add panko crumbs. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place each strip in milk. Coat in flour mixture, then briefly re-dip into milk. Toss with panko crumbs, coating well. Set on slightly oiled baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tempeh strips. Once all are coated and on baking sheet, lightly spray all "wings" with cooking spray. Place into oven and bake for 10 minutes. Flip "wings" over and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
While they are baking, place wing sauce ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Cover with Saran wrap and heat in microwave on medium high setting for a minute and a half. Remove from heat and whisk ingredients together.
When wings are finished baking, toss with sauce. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette

I recently discovered the Frantic Home Cook, which is a great little food blog with witty writing and great instructional pictures. One of the first recipes that caught my eye was her Simple Vinaigrette, which I wanted to make for the plethora of salads I've been eating lately. The recipe is super easy, only requiring measuring and mixing, so this would be a great and easy dressing to always have on hand. I made a few variations, using up some of the leftover sundried tomatoes I had from the Sundried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Stuffed Mushrooms, and I think they add a lovely little flavor punch.

Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette

Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette

1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
1/4 c oil from sundried tomatoes
1/2 c minced sundried tomatoes, oil-packed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
2 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp stone ground mustard
1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients, shake well, and chill in the refrigerator for flavors to get all friendly-like.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Sundried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Stuffed Mushrooms

Can you believe I'm still on my mushroom kick? I woke up this morning thinking about the goodness of 'shrooms (is that weird?) and immediately started thinking about how I wanted to make some today.

The last stuffed mushrooms were such a hit and I wanted something equally tasty and flavorful, yet easy to throw together. I'm such a huge fan of sundried tomatoes and they add such a wonderful full flavor to the mixture. The kalamata olives add just the right amount of kick without being overwhelming, and all the flavors combine for an appetizer you won't soon forget. These take about 15 minutes of prep time before throwing in the oven, so in about 30 minutes you'll have a great-looking tasty appetizer to put on the table.

Sundried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Stuffed Mushrooms

Sundried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves 3-4

6 medium portabella mushrooms
1 tbsp oil from sundried tomatoes
2 tbsp minced shallots
1/2 c oil-packed sundried tomatoes, diced
1/4 c kalamata olives, minced
1/4 c seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, shredded

Remove stems from mushrooms, chop, and set aside. Place mushroom caps in a lightly-oiled baking dish. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Preheat oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add shallots and mushroom stems, saute for 1 minute until tender. Add sundried tomatoes and olives, stirring well. Remove from heat and stir in bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Place 2-3 tablespoons of mixture in each mushroom cap, packing it in firmly. (Mixture will be crumbly) Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and place into oven. Bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is golden brown and mushrooms are tender. Serve and enjoy!