Saturday, 29 December 2012

Wassap, B?

I have to admit that back in my rice-eating days, I used to order avocado rolls simply for their neutral flavour, as they were a perfect vehicle for the taste of wasabi and pickled ginger.  Wasabi is just a fantastic punch-to-your-sinuses that I cannot put behind me.  I chuckle every time I see the David and Goliath sticker (which I first saw in a Waikiki store a couple years ago), which has a sushi roll asking the pile of wasabi, 'Wassap, B?"  So imagine my excitement to see this soba salad recipe.  Buckwheat noodles (soba)?  I can have!  Edamame?  Totally.  Wasabi?  You are ON!

As I mentioned earlier, I forgot to get a few things when I went grocery shopping last, so if you are wondering why radishes are in my recipe and not in my pictures, that's why.  I had every intention of using them!  Otherwise, I made slight adjustments to the original (due to an allergy to peas and rice--including rice vinegar) and figured you may want to try my version too!


1 pkg (250g) buckwheat noodles (be careful!  If you have rice or wheat allergies, not all buckwheat or soba noodles are 100% buckwheat)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (I used more than that because I had more, but don't, keep it to 1 cup!)
4 carrots, julienned
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons wheat free tamari soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon prepared wasabi paste (I have wasabi powder, which is mixed with water to make a paste)
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced 

1. Prepare the vinaigrette by combining the garlic, vinegar, oil and paste.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water.
3. Steam edamame and carrots 4 minutes or until crisp-tender.
4. Toss everything together. Serve immediately, or until you have wasted enough time and camera battery life taking pictures of your meal.  Enjoy!

A quick note on leftovers: the excess vinaigrette is completely soaked up overnight and without a top up of more vinaigrette or at least a little bit of tamari soy sauce, your leftovers might taste surprisingly bland.  But once you add a little more vinagrette, your dish returns to it's freshly-cooked flavour.

This isn't the end, wasabi.  We will see one another again soon, I am sure of it!!!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Dinner Starring.....MEATLOAF!

I don't know what inspired me to try to make meatloaf.  I guess it has always seemed liked one of those mountains that needs to be conquered.  What I used to like about meatloaf, primarily being able to drown the beefy goodness in ketchup, is no longer an option due to my tomato allergy.  Not to mention it's contents are generally held together with breadcrumbs and egg.  When I bookmarked Allergic Living's recipe, it planted a seed in my head that maybe I could enjoy meatloaf, even on it's own, without ketchup.  So on my cooking extravaganza that I am performing this holiday season, I set out to give it a go.  Let's say first that it did NOT turn out how I was hoping, but it was decent.  Read the end of the post for my reflections.  Here's how I made the recipe this time:

2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 sweet onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
about 1kg (2 1/4 pounds) raw ground turkey
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax meal, 6 tbsp warm water blended until thick)
1 cup millet cereal
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Pinch of each salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a skillet, sauté onions and garlic in vegetable oil until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients including cooled onion and garlic. Mix well and place in a loaf pan.  The original recipe calls for 6 patties to be made, but then it's more like salisbury steak, no?  So it went in a loaf pan. 
4. Place in oven for 60+ minutes or until cooked through.  It takes about 60 minutes for it to cook through but it took an extra 15-20 for it to be drier and not soggy.  BLECH!  Soggy meat.  I served it with spaghetti squash seasoned with vegan butter, salt and pepper (always a success, yum!!).

So like I said, this recipe did not quite turn out.  I can think of a few reasons:
1.  There was just too much turkey.  Who in their right stomach can digest that much ground turkey?  And that was even 0.4kg less than what the recipe called for.  Next time I will half it and it will not need to cook for so long.
2.  I need to cut the onions smaller.  I find it difficult to mince an onion, but I must try harder next time.
3.  I didn't realize it until it was in the bowl with the raw turkey but my stick blender didn't mix my flax egg completely, so that's why it may have been more crumbly. 
4.  There needed to be a higher cereal to turkey ratio (though it looks very strange, it is undetectable in taste).  Less turkey would accomplish this AND maybe I would even sacrifice some of my delicious 100% Rye bread to make breadcrumbs instead of using cereal.  But by next time I may not be so willing to entertain that thought so I might just stick with cereal, hahahaha. 

Overall, it was decent.  Those around me at the lunch table the next day thought it smelled delicious, so there is definitely potential!  Stay tuned in coming months when I try to make this again, you know, when I can look at turkey again after the holiday season. 

Okay, I Give In...

I will finally get a steamer basket.  I've had my eye on one anyways, but my procrastinating personality wouldn't let me pay $10 for it.  When I look at that sentence now, I feel a bit foolish.  My cheeks, I'm sure, are reddening and I am entertaining thoughts of deleting this whole paragraph.  But that's what this blog is all about, right?  If I was able to steam successfully with a metal colander I would tell you (don't laugh!!  Okay, laugh).  These are my adventures and perhaps you too would like to know if you can do it.  Well, I'm going to tell you honestly that when you have to steam most of your meal, like I have for this Millet Bowl recipe, you need a steamer insert or basket.

I actually didn't need to change much of this recipe to suit my allergies.  The millet and bean mixture went together easily on the stovetop and had a strong ginger taste.  I even took another stab at baby bok choy and mushrooms (I couldn't find shiitake so I used portobello caps), some of my least favourite vegetables.  Steaming took forever though, as nothing was steaming evenly in the colander (go ahead, I'm kind of snickering at myself too).  I may have steamed the mushrooms and bok choy to death, perhaps you will have better success with that.  The next go around with this recipe will see me using some other green (perhaps kale) and using small mushrooms or *ahem, none at all.  I will also alter the dressing, as I craved a stronger vinegar taste than what I was getting, Maybe even adding a bit of fresh ginger to the dressing so the flavour was carried throughout the dish.  It even has potential to be a stir fry, if you don't mind a little more oil in your diet.  I will be making this again for sure.  Hope you enjoy it too. 

Stocking Up.

And this isn't even half of it!  I may have gone a little overboard.  You see, the week before Christmas I decided that I didn't want to have to deal with holiday lineups at the grocery store, and the mean people who race their way through the aisles to get the one thing they forgot to get before the store closes early.  Worse yet, I had a few nightmares of being partway through a recipe and to my horror I would discover that I too was missing a key ingredient!  So I carefully wrote out a recipe plan, printed off the recipes, made my grocery list, and methodically went store-to-store to get what I needed with plenty of time to spare before the holidays.  Then, I soon realized, you have to be able to put all this food away.  This of course led to my cleaning out and reorganizing of the fridge....

Thank you Tupperware's Fridge Smart Containers for extending the life of my fresh produce.  My herbs should now outlive my procrastination. 

This is the fullest my fridge has EVER been.  Yet, it should not surprise you that I did forget a few things.  It just seems to be my style.  I'd probably forget my head if it was not screwed on.  But I have been making do.  Some of the recipes that I've tried during my time off have been real successes.  Others have shown some potential so stay tuned, you will not be disappointed!  You don't have to go to the same extremes, but you can definitely benefit from mine. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Things Are Getting Twisted Around Here!

All the ingredients on hand....we are going to make some pretzels today!

I have had this recipe for Rye Pretzels for a LONG time.  I don't know why yeast baking scares me, but it does, I am very hesitant to work with it.  Yet, when I make a recipe involving yeast I am always pleasantly surprised at how easy it was.  So when I was cooped up at home this weekend I decided to take advantage of the time on my hands and make this recipe.  I gathered all the ingredients together, with some minor adjustments.  I used all rye flour and coconut sugar instead of the malt powder or sugar.

Mixing up the dough was easy.  I loaded it into the oven and with just the light on and saran wrap covering the top of the bowl, I waited 1 1/2 hours.  When I looked at it, it had not risen much at all but I was impatient so I went ahead, divided my dough, and started to form pretzels on my pastry mat and brought it over to the stove, where my water was starting to boil.

No one warned me that when you add the coconut sugar and baking soda to your boiling water it bubbles up over the saucepan.  Consider yourself warned. 

At first the pretzel sinks, but in a split second it begins to float, and before you know it, you need to turn it over (be careful, I had to use a couple of slotted spoons for this).  Sprinkled them with caraway seeds and salt....mmmmm....but FYI: the amount of salt you see on these pretzels is too much.  Just a little bit goes a long way, especially if you are dipping your pretzel in dijon mustard.  It was so delicious, that I ate four pretzels that afternoon.  My lesson for today?  Don't be afraid of a yeast bread recipe, you could be surprised by how it turns out!  Now excuse me, I have some eating to do...