Thursday, December 25, 2008


I've never been one of those people who claims that fake crab tastes like crab, or that a seitan fillet is a dead ringer for chicken breast, but I don't see any problem with creating alternative versions of certain foods. No copyright issues there - just a bit of imagination. So, this Christmas, I'm going for the real fake thing, and I'm doing it in style: hijiki caviar and tofu sour cream. (both recipes from the Natural Gourmet School)

Hijiki Caviar

1/2 cup hijiki
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2-3 tablespoons shoyu
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt
lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated ginger, squeezed through cheesecloth to make juice

1. Soak hijiki in water for 15 minutes
2. Remove hijiki from water and saute in sesame oil for 3 to 5 minutes. Add water to cover, bring to a boil, add shoyu and cook until all liquid is evaporated.
3. In another pan, saute shallots and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes
4. While shallots are sauteing, finely chop the hijiki
5. Season with shoyu or sea salt, lemon juice and ginger juice to taste. Serve with tofu sour cream...

Tofu Sour Cream

12 ounces soft tofu, blanched
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 tablespoons water
1/2 bunch dill

1. Blend tofu, lemon juice, salt, olive oil and water until smooth and creamy
2. Add dill and blend for 30 more seconds

Sunday, December 21, 2008


After my sea vegetables class last week, during which our instructor informed us of the rejuvenating benefits of essentially sitting in a bathtub of miso and seaweed soup (if anyone feels like trying this, please do share!), I felt inspired to do something tasty with the most intense of all the seaweed varieties: hijiki (pronounced hee-JEE-kee). This can be served as a warm or cold salad, and should definitely be paired with something sweet (ie: mango chicken salad?) to counterbalance the tight saltiness of the dish - or, to make this into a balanced main dish, you can toss in some pan-fried tofu cubes and try cooking the hijiki in apple juice rather than water, which yields a lovely sweet-and-savory effect. You can find many varieties of seaweed at the health food store, always dried and vacuum sealed in a plastic bag.

I admit, seaweed sounds kind of scary and gross, but in light of the upcoming new year, now's the time to try something different. (And for the record, I am not condoning bungee jumping or anything like that... just a bit of culinary pluck!)

Hijiki Salad

1/2 cup dried hijiki
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 onion, diced small
- 1 carrot, grated or julienned
- water (or apple juice) to cover
- 1/4 cup shoyu (soy sauce)
- 8 ounces tofu, cut into slices and lightly fried (optional)

1. Soak dried hijiki in warm water until it absorbs water and doubles in size, about 30 minutes
2. In a large skillet, saute the onion in very hot oil until lightly browned, then add the carrot and cook about 5 minutes longer, stirring frequently.
3. Add the rehydrated seaweed to the pan, stirring to coat with onion mixture. Add water or apple juice to cover, then cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and let seaweed simmer in liquid.
4. Keep cooking, covered, until all the liquid is almost absorbed. Then uncover and stir in shoyu and tofu slices, if using. Serve warm or allow to cool and refrigerate for a few hours.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Indian in me

Yes, friends, it's me again. The new job, on top of cooking class, has me running circles around myself, so the posts have become infrequent as of late (as I warned they would). But I continue to cook! So here's one fleshed out recipe and a few other thoughts that have emerged from my kitchen.

All credit for the harshi roti (sp?) goes to Mrs. Kaushik, mother of my good friend Vinitha and the woman who contributed to raising me on solid Indian cooking. This was my favorite dish to eat while I was growing up across the street from the Kaushiks, and I've made a valiant effort here to recreate it. It's not exactly "authentic" but it comes close. And I can't even express how happy it makes me to smell these familiar smells in my own kitchen.

*photo credit to Kat Cheng and her shutter skills!

(adapted from the kitchen of Mrs. K)

- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour (besan)
- 3 peeled and grated carrots
- 1 knob ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 green chili pepper, seeded and diced small
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tbsp. oil
- salt

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add in the wet. The mixture should have the consistency of pancake batter, pourable but not runny.

Cut a square sheet of tinfoil and spoon about 2/3 cup of the mix onto it. Smooth the batter out into a circle with the back of the spoon and push aside the middle to make a silver-dollar sized hole.

Heat a large pan with oil and wait until a drop of water will sizzle when dropped in. Then turn the prepared batter onto the skillet, leaving the tinfoil to cover for the first few minutes of frying. Remove tinfoil once the bottom of the roti is pretty solid. Add a few more drops of oil to the perimeter and in the center of the roti, and flip once the bottom is well browned. Fry a few minutes on the other side, then remove onto a plate and serve with butter, chutney pudi, raita (yogurt-based condiment) and, my other fave, Indian peanut stew (sounds like "goj") - or any combination therein.

Other things I've churned up (the Cliffs Notes edition):
- Barley with roasted garlic, olive oil, chopped fresh mint, and cumin
- Curry split pea soup (with cardemom, fenugreek, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, etc.)
- Chicken soup with wild rice & quinoa (made with my Thanksgiving turkey stock)
- Black-eyed pea tomato stew with mushrooms and cinnamon