Wednesday, July 27, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons...Make Lemon Curd

             On lazy afternoon I peeked into the refrigerator and realized the only thing in there, besides condiments, was half a pan of corn bread. I did mention that this was a lazy afternoon, so I warmed up the corn bread and while it was delicious, it needed something. I scoured the jars of exotic marinades and tubes of sauces and came across a half eaten jar of lemon curd. I had never had lemon curd before but my beau seemed to like it. I spread the creamy concoction on the corn bread and took a small bite. It was instant love and I was left wandering how could I not have known about this tart-sweet jar of heaven. 
            When I returned home to my own empty refrigerator I knew that lemon curd would be on my shopping list. Soon after wandering down the baking aisle I spotted the exact same brand of lemon curd that had turned me out and out of habit I picked up the jar and turned to its ingredients list. Ugh, why did I have to go and ruin a good thing, it's true; ignorance is bliss. The decadent spread was made with egg, heavy cream, and the neighboring brands were no better; featuring other undesirable ingredients like animal based gelatin and butter. I knew this could not be the end of my new love affair with lemon curd. There were so many dishes I wanted to slather it on; pancakes, waffles, toast, fresh fruit, and of course, corn bread. I was able to rekindle the food flame by using coconut milk instead of heavy cream and corn starch instead of gelatin or eggs as a thickener. The result was a sweet tooth satiating tryst that only felt naughty. 

Here's what you need:

  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup unbleached organic sugar (or sugar replacer) 
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

 Here's what you gotta do:

1. In a medium sauce pan combine the coconut milk, lemon juice, cornstarch, sugar, and vanilla. 
2. Heat pan at medium heat for 2 minutes, stir occasionally to break up any lumps. Turn heat to low and continue cooking for another 3 minutes or until the mixture is thick and lump free. 
3. Once the mixture has thickened remove from heat and add the zest.
4. Let the lemon curd cool for 2 minutes before serving.

* Store remainder in refrigerator for later use. Tastes good warm or cold!

Snazzy red grater I picked up for $1
Lemon zest can be made by using a zester or a vegetable grater with a fine grating plane (aka little holes). Before juicing the lemons run them across the grater lightly to remove to top yellow layer of lemon peel. You don't want to get to the pith (white layer) of the lemon, this part is bitter and will make your curd bitter rather than tangy. One large lemon will make about a tablespoon of zest.

                   Life is Delicious...Go Taste it!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Southernplayalisticadillac Sushi

Memorial Day has come and gone and that can mean only one thing: peach season is in full swing. Coming second only to Outkast, Goergia peaches are one of my favorite exports from the southern state. Below is a unique way to use peaches in a savory sushi role.

Nori is the Japanese name for edible seaweed. The nearly
transparent green sheets can be found in the Asian foods
section of most grocery stores. 
Here's what you need:
  • 4 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
  •  2 tsp.  minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  •  1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 14 oz. package of firm tofu sliced into 12 1/2inch strips
  • 2 firm peaches peeled & cut into ¼ inch strips
  •  3 green onions sliced lengthwise
  •  6 Nori sheets
  •   3 cups short grown brown rice (cooked)
  •  2 oz. of rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp. sugar
  •  ½ tsp. salt

Here's what you gotta do:
1.     Combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger, pepper, and orange juice in a bowl and mix well. Add the tofu strips and marinate for 20 minutes.
2.     Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt into a small saucepan. Heat the mixture on medium heat until the sugar and salt are dissolved, but do not boil.
3.     Let the vinegar mixture cool then pour over the rice. Gently fold the liquid into the rice and let it sit for ten minutes.
4.     Place the nori sheet shiny side down onto a sushi-rolling mat or a flat surface to hand roll.
5.     Gently spread the rice mixture onto the nori, leaving a 1-inch lip to seal the sushi after rolling.
6.     Lay two strips of tofu, some onion, and peaches on the rice lengthwise along the bottom third of the rice.

7.     Lift the nori at the edge closest to you and fold it to cover the filling, now lift the mat and roll the nori away from you, while pressing firmly.
8.      Roll until the lip is sealed.  Set the roll aside with the seam down.
9.     Repeat steps 4 through 8 five more times.
10.   Cut the rolls into 8 pieces serve with soy sauce. 

                                    Life is Delicious...Go taste it!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kale Salad with Indian Spiced "Chicken"

  The hostel reservations were made and my one-way ticket to Nepal was secured. The plan was to fly into Katmandu and backpack into India. This dream trip was to end with a mango lassi sipped slowly in the southern city of Bombay. My trip to India was foiled by an acceptance into law school, which started just a week after the trip was slated to start.  The small amount of disappointment was quickly crushed by the notion of attending law school, a dream I once thought was more far-fetched then living on a house boat in Kerala.
   These days my taste for India is satiated in part by indulging in its cuisine. Southern Indian food is traditionally vegetarian and many of the spices needed are readily available stateside.  One of the most distinct of Indian spices is Graham Masala. While it's ingredients vary by region, it typically includes cumin, coriander, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, and chili pepper. The pungent spice blend can be sprinkled on warm naan or into a bag of hot popped corn...yum!  A commercially made brand is used in this recipe to season faux chicken strips and remind me that India isn't going anywhere.

Here's what you need:

  • 8 oz bag of Vegan Chick'n strips (or extra firm tofu, drained & cut into 1/2 inch strips)
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of Graham Masala
  • 1/2 a small red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • I used Morning Star Meal Starters
    Chick'n Strip
  • Large head of Kale rinsed and chopped

Here's what you gotta do:

  1. Heat the olive oil to medium heat in a large skillet or wok 
  2. Add the onion and graham masala. Sauté for 2 minutes.
  3. Raise heat to medium high and add chick'n (or tofu).  Heat for about 4 minute or until brown
  4. Stir in the kale, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice.  Heat for 3 minutes or until kale has wilted slightly.
  5. Serve hot and enjoy!

** if using tofu add a generous pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp  of cumin at step 3**

Serves 4 as a starter or side salad.

                                                            Life is Delicious ...Go taste it!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tasting : Hemp Milk

    Whenever I do a big grocery run I try to pick up at least one item that is not a part of my usual list. This last grocery outing I saw that hemp milk was on sale. At a dollar less than the surrounding dairy replacements, I had no excuses.  I've always wanted to try this kitschy dairy replacer, but couldn't justify veering from my sure bet (sweetened vanilla almond milk) for the higher priced alternative. 
  Despite the fact that Hemp milk comes from the infamous cannabis plant, mother fauna of marijuana, it will not get you high.  Unlike pot, which comes from the bud of the cannabis plant, hemp milk and most hemp products do not contain THC, the mind-altering chemical associated with marijuana.
      So why drink hemp milk? Hemp milk serves as a good alternative to the typical dairy substitutes because it is made from the hemp seed and does not carry any of the allergens that trigger soy or tree nut allergies. It is also chock full of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (the good fat).
        I tried the sweetened vanilla flavor served ice cold as suggested on the box. It was creamy and similar to the consistency of almond milk, but I thought it was just ok. There was a hint of cardboard flavor that I wasn’t exactly thrilled about. When poured over cereal or added to a smoothie the cardboard flavor disappeared. I don’t have any of the allergies I mentioned and perhaps the cardboard flavor is indicative of the brand I choose, but I don’t think this will be replacing my usual almond milk.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cussing Gravy

Nutritional Yeast
   Ever tasted something that was so surprisingly good that you wanted to cuss?  It's almost like the flavor lubricates your lips and the four letter word slips right out. Well that's exactly what happened when I experimented with gravy making. I'm not ashamed to admit, I've made gravy that is less than edible in my quest to find "the perfect gravy". My version of perfect means the gravy has to be worthy of being served up along side my grandmother's biscuits and that is a pretty high bar. The not-so-secret weapons used to make vegan gravy so good it makes you wanna cuss are tamari and nutritional yeast.
   Tamari is sort of like soy sauce, but slightly thicker and it has a more complex flavor. It is lower in sodium and tends to be a little easier on the palate then soy sauce, which can overwhelm a dish. The addition of the tamari gave this gravy its color and salty depth. Don't fret if you can't find it in the Asian foods section of your local grocery store just add soy sauce instead. 
  The second key here was the addition is nutritional yeast.  Not to be confused with the active yeast we use in baked goods, nutritional yeast is sold only for it's nutritional value and is rich in B vitamins. Nutritional yeast is closely related to edible mushrooms and is typically used as a cheese flavor replacement in vegan dishes. While I don't think it tastes much like cheese, it does add an incredible savory kick to dishes. It adds pizzazz to plain rice, sass to soups, and puts some bang in boring vegetables. It can be found in most health food and natural stores, however, I found it in my local grocery store in the "natural foods” section. I think this was the addition that kicked this gravy up a couple of notches. 

 Special Tip : Make sure the kids are out of the room before you try this gravy!

Here's what you need: 
This gravy is #@*% good!

   1 ½ tbsp olive oil
   ½ red onion finely sliced
   ½ tsp of cumin
   2 tbsp flour
   1 ½ tbsp cornstarch  
   1 ½ vegetable broth
   1 tbsp of tamari
   1 tbsp of nutritional yeast      

 Here's what you gotta do: 

1)   Heat olive oil  in a small sauce pan on a medium  heat
2)   Add the onion and cumin . Sauté until the onion is translucent
3)   Add the flour, starch and vegetable broth . Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring to beak up lumps.
4)   Cook an additional 2 minutes on boil and lower the heat to a medium low. Stir in the tamari and nutritional yeast. Cook for an additional 3 minutes on low.
Serve  warm.

                                                   Life is Delicious...Go taste it! 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Go B-A-N-A-N-A-S

Eating a half a tub of ice cream after running 5miles seems a bit nuts. Here's a way to go bananas without derailing all of you summer hot body dreams. A simple "ice cream" to satisfy the need for a creamy cool treat after all of your hard work...You deserve it.

Here's what you need:

  • 1 frozen banana (per serving you intend to make)
  • 1 tbsp cold vanilla soy milk (per serving)

Here's what you gotta do:

  1. Put soy milk and banana in a blender and blend on "cream" setting until the the mixture is the consistency of ice cream. Serve immediately.

That's it! I know it's so simple it almost seems sinful...but its not so eat up!

                                                     Life is Delicious...Go Taste it!