Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Vegan Coconut Curried Noodle Salad

I'm not vegan, or even vegetarian, but I appreciate vegan and vegetarian cooking, and am always enjoy cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables as center stage.  Plus, it is such a healthy way to eat, so it is totally smart for any carnivore like myself to mix some vegan and/or vegetarian meals into the weekly meal rotation.  My friend Shannon was visiting from Toronto recently, and gave me the book La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer as a present to try some new vegan experimentation in the kitchen (although she's not vegan either, she vouched for the excellent cookbook).  When she was still visiting last weekend, we tried the cold coconut curried sesame noodles, and discovered they taste good either hot or cold. The recipe was not too difficult and delicious, either as a side dish, appetizer or a main course. I love the coconut flavor with the noodles, and it was boatloads better than traditional sesame noodles.

Coconut Curried Noodles Salad (from La Dolce Vegan)
dry broad rice noodles (full package or box, enough for four servings)
1/2 cup shallots, diced (I substituted onions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T sesame oil
2 T curry paste
2T tamari (you can use soy sauce)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt (I used 1/2 tsp)
1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh basil (I used parsley instead)
1 large tomato, chopped (we added two instead when I made it with Shannon because one was lonely)

Boil the rice noodles in salted water. While the noodles cook, dice the tomatoes and onions/shallots. Cook the shallots in canola oil until translucent, about three minutes.  Add the curry paste, soy sauce, turmeric, salt and coconut milk and simmer on hight for six to eight minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the basil (I used parsley) and tomatoes. Drain the noodles and mix with the sauce. This dish tastes great either hot or cold.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Zucchini Corn Fritters

Farm fresh zucchini and corn are so good this time of year, that I couldn't resist a fun, healthy variation on traditional zucchini fritters. I only fry with canola oil - never with vegetable oil, so they're about as healthy as they can be. I used local corn and zucchini for the recipe and it was absolutely delicious, sweetened by the delicious sweet corn that I shucked. They key to this recipe is squeezing all of the water out of the zucchini, so that it doesn't make an overly watery batter.  This is a great weekday meal, and I plan on making another batch this coming weekend as a dinner party appetizer. A recipe like this really just reminds me of summer!

Sasha's Zucchini Corn Fritters
Two large zucchini (about 4 1/2 cups shredded zucchini)
3 ears of corn, shucked
4 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 cup curly parsley, minced
pepper to taste
canola oil for frying
serve with lowfat yogurt

Shred the zucchini using a cheese grater and allow to drain as much as possible over a colander or strainer.  Scramble the eggs and mix with the shucked corn, onion, spices, parsley, flour and pepper.  Squeeze the shredded zucchini in handfuls to get rid of as much of the water as possible and then combine with the other ingredients.  Heat about a quarter inch of canola oil in a frying pan. Drop heaps of the zucchini-corn mixture and form circular shaped fritters. Cook until golden on both sides, about 2-3 minutes. Remove and allow to drain on parchment paper. Serve with yogurt.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Charlene's Kitchen in Philadelphia: Herb-and-Olive Frittata

Mark Bittman is one of my food heroes. I love his low-pressure approach to cooking and his simple recipes. His old Minimalist videos are inspiring and often humorous. I’ve also been enjoying his more recent columns focusing on food policy and related health, environmental, and social issues. His blog, On Food, is located here:

In one of his more recent “Eat” pieces in The New York Times Magazine, Bittman gives special treatment to herbs! As a fellow herb-lover and an herb gardener, these recipes really whet my appetite. Here’s the recipe for one that I made this week. It includes no less than three cups (!) of herbs and it will leave a bright, refreshing taste in your mouth. If you don’t already have an herb garden, let this be inspiration for starting one next year...

Herb-and-Olive Frittata
by Mark Bittman
from The New York Times Magazine, Sunday, August 14, 2011, page 43.

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped black olives, preferably oil-cured
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Salt and black pepper.

1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the olives and herbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and become dry, 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, beat together the eggs, milk, flour and some salt and pepper.

3. Turn heat to low and pour the egg mixture into the skillet, using a spoon if necessary to evenly distribute the herbs and olives. Cook, undisturbed, until the eggs are just set, 5 to 10 minutes. (You can set the top further by putting the pan in an oven at 350 for a few minutes or by running it under the broiler for a minute or two.)

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Note: It took closer to 10-14 minutes for my eggs to set on the stovetop, then I did stick the pan in the oven for an additional 4 minutes at 350 degrees. They did not seem overcooked to me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Harry Potter Butterbeer Flying Snitch Cupcakes

I've always been a huge Harry Potter fan - both of the earlier parts of the series, and the darker chapters as well.  I loved the Quidditch games that were played in the first few books, and decided to create a Harry Potter inspired cupcake.  I really want to take a trip to Wizarding World in Orlando and taste some butterbeer for myself, but so far I've only made my homemade butterbeer using this recipe.  At any rate, my newest cupcakes have a butterscotch frosting and are inspired to have a butterbeer flavor.  They are decorated in a Quidditch theme, with golden snitches that I made out of yellow chocolate melts and fondant., as Harry was the Gryffindor Quidditch team seeker. Thus, these cupcakes have the spirit of the early Potter books (and movies) - a flair for Quidditch and a taste of butterbeer, which I re-created with flavors of cream soda and butterscotch. Now, I just need one of those hopping chocolate frogs and I'm all set.

Sasha's Harry Potter Butterbeer Quidditch Cupcakes
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup Dr. Brown's Cream soda (or A&W)

1/2 cup heavy cream
5 oz butterscotch chips
1 stick of butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups confectioner's sugar

Combine the dry ingredients for the cupcakes in a bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt). Beat the butter and sugars in the basin of your stand mixer until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Alternate beating in the milk and the dry ingredients, and finally, beat in the cream soda until smooth.

Bake the cupcakes at 350 for about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting. To make the frosting, prepare a butterscotch ganache with 5 oz of butterscotch chips and 1/2 cup of heavy cream.  Combine the two in the top of a double boiler and mix until smooth. Allow to chill for about a half an hour in the refrigerator.  Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth and add in the ganache. Frost the cupcakes using a frosting bag. If you wish to decorate, I made the snitches using fondant, a fondant pen and yellow chocolate melts for the golden center.

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