Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Japanese Curry Rice

Curry Rice is a western curry popular in Japan, and one of my personal favorites. Friday night (I think? or was it Saturday?) was Atsushi's curry night for staff meal when I worked at Kajitsu, and I was always happy to be working on curry night. 

Japanese curry is a very comforting concoction; curry for the soul, if you will. This thick, savory stew is mild enough that both my nieces (3 and 9) tried some and liked it! Avalanche was an awesome assistant chef today. She picked fresh carrots from the garden, helped me mix up a garam masala, make the tonkatsu sauce, and caramelize the onions. We looked up food terminology together on google and discussed the importance of credible sources when conducting research on the internet.

Since this type of curry usually isn't made from scratch, for this recipe I relied heavily on Chef Marc's method over at No Recipes. Only slight modifications were required to make it vegan. I decided to go with the traditional potatoes, onion, carrots and peas. Curry is great because you can throw any odds and ends in it - from burdock to zucchini. Mushrooms and tofu would have been really yummy, but I was cooking for kids.

Japanese Curry Rice
(serves 6)

for the curry:
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 large carrots, sliced (or equivalent baby garden carrots)
  • 5 small red potatoes, sliced or diced
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (or fresh snow peas, sliced)
for the roux:
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 cup flour (I used tapioca)
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup (or tomato paste)
  • 1 tablespoon tonkatsu bbq sauce (or vegan worcestershire)
for the tonkatsu sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon tapioca flour (or cornstarch)
  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Sauté the onions until they are golden and caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  2. Add the water and carrots, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, applesauce, salt and garam masala. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  3. For the roux, add the oil and flour to a skillet over medium low flame, stirring until the flour begins to brown.
  4. Add the garam masala, stirring until fragrant. Add the cayenne pepper (optional) and ground black pepper, the ketchup and the tonkatsu sauce, stirring until combined.
  5. Ladle 2 cups of liquid from the curry into the roux and whisk until smooth. Pour the roux back into the curry pot, stirring until thickened. Add the frozen peas and heat through.
  6. Serve with white rice.

Japanese Curry Rice by Rubber Cowgirl

Itadakimasu! This curry was delicious. I can't stop eating it. Kids like it! Make some!

My Vegan Month of Curry continues. Happy MoFo! 
This post was brought to you by the letters C, for Curry, and D, for Dishwasher.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bularian Canapés

It's Trekkie TV Tuesday! This week I attempted a delicacy favored by Star Fleet Admiral Alynna Nechayev: Bularian Canapés.
canapé (a type of hors d’œuvre) is a small, prepared and usually decorative food, held in the fingers and often eaten in one bite...served during cocktail hours, it is...desired that a canapé be either salty or spicy, in order to encourage guests to drink more. - Wikipedia
In 2370, Captain Jean-Luc Picard welcomed Admiral Alynna Nechayev aboard the Enterprise for tea. Hoping to ease a tense situation, Picard contacted the Admiral's aide over subspace to find out her favorite food. He served a selection of watercress sandwiches, Bularian canapés and Earl Grey (you know how he is about Earl Grey). Nechayev had already started briefing Picard on the Federation's new treaty with the Cardassian Empire before she noticed the tray of Bularian canapés and did a double-take. Unfortunately, she never got to eat any, because Picard didn't set out any little plates or napkins.
(Picard pours the tea)
TNG S07 E20 "Journey's End"
screen shots for fan purposes only

It's the thought that counts. Admiral Nechayev seemed appeased by the fact that Picard had tried to do something nice for her. It's not easy being a Star Fleet Admiral.
Nor is it easy to make Bularian canapés. I tried, but I'm afraid that my canapés would not impress the admiral, not even if I served them with cocktails. Nechayev probably wouldn't find it amusing if I offered her a Cardassian Sunrise and deflated canapés. There's got to be something specific to the planet of Bularia that makes their pastries puff perfectly - their gravitational force? their average altitude? their atmosphere?

More research is required, and further experimentation before I succeed in replicating the elusive Bularian canapé. Practice makes perfect, so they say.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vegan MoFo Chopped Challenge! Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash in an Oolong-Plum-Red Wine Reduction with Jalapeno-Apple-Radish Accompaniment

I have to admit it: I love Chopped. I watched quite a bit of it earlier this summer while I was pet-sitting. I had a lot of fun with the 2012 Vegan MoFo Iron Chef challenge. Who doesn't love a challenge? In the spirit of Chopped, I decided that I would make the first idea I came up with.

At first I was stumped.

How do I combine radishes, Oolong tea, prune plums and jalapeños into one succulent entreé?

I slept on it, and over coffee yesterday morning, made a grocery list.
My idea:

red wine oolong plum reduction
over roasted sweet dumpling squash
with tempeh, daikon, and radish green stuffing
garnished with a jalapeño, apple, and red radish salad
with ume vinegar

I biked to the wine store and selected a bottle of Shiraz-Grenache blend from Australia, put my hair up in "chopped sticks" and went to work.

...what I came up with looked a little something like this:

Ain't it purty?

This came out Freakin' Awesome!!!
The flavors meshed perfectly. I especially love the red wine reduction.
Plums and Oolongs and Shiraz - Oh My!
The squashes and apple perfectly complement the jalapeno and radish.
Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.
Tempeh in my Mouth.
I believe I have achieved Umami.

I'm probably one of those people they're talking about when they say food photography is a neurosis. But hey, I love beautiful food, and I love food styling, and it's Vegan MoFo, for crying out loud, so I'm going to show off.

Here's a bunch of gorgeous food porn:

the ingredients I added
start chopping

plums and red wine
roasted sweet dumpling squashes
oolong - red wine - plum reduction

pretty, pretty ingredients
apple - jalapeno - radish salad
tempeh - daikon - radish greens stuffing
Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash in a Plum Oolong Red Wine Reduction with Jalapeno Apple Radish Salad
close up
squash on the rocks
Dexter thinks he wants some...
So, first thing I did was to heat the oven to 400. Then I started the wine reduction with 2 cups of Shiraz and 4 plums, pitted and thinly sliced, with 4 Oolohg tea bags. I sliced the tops off the sqashes and scraped the seeds out, then roasted them, cut-side down, in 1/4 inch of water. While things simmered/baked I chopped up a bunch of red radishes, two green and one orange japapeno/s, one Gala apple, 3 inches of daikon and tossed them together with some ume (plum) vinegar. Next, I sauteed 1 block of tempeh in 1T olive oil with another 3 inches of diced daikon, tamari and ume vinegar, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper, then added some shredded radish greens and steamed until the greens were tender. I stuffed the roasted dumpling squash with the tempeh-daikon-radish greens mixture and topped it off with the shiraz-plum-oolong reduction - I used my immersion blender to puree the plums into the sauce - and garnished the plate with apple-jalapeno-radish salad.

Will I win this challenge like the Broncos won today?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Massaman Peanut Curry

According to legend (and Wikipedia) Massaman originated in Thailand in the 16th century, when a Persian envoy introduced it to the court of Ayutthaya. It was a favorite of Rama II (1767-1824) who loved it so much that he extolled it in a poem comparing food to lovers, saying,

'Any man who has tasted your Massaman pines for you.'

Massaman is a rich peanut and coconut curry seasoned with sweet spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. It's traditionally made with potatoes, but I wanted something more colorful. The sweet and spicy peanut sauce complements winter squash and root vegetables perfectly, so I opted for carrots and Carnival. Sweet potatoes and onions would also go really well.

Massaman Curry

for the curry paste:
  • 6 bird chilies
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer layers removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled
  • 1 thumb-width chunk peeled ginger, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • ¼ cup salted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
Whizz all ingredients together in a food processor until a thick paste has formed.

for the stew:
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 carnival squash, seeded and sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup salted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
  • tablespoon vegetable oil, for frying
Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot. Sauté the squash until golden on one side, flip, then add carrots and fry a few minutes more. Add the coconut milk and curry paste. Simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serve over rice, garnished with green onion, cilantro and peanuts.

  • I used the entire recipe of curry paste, because I like it hot. Add another can of coconut milk or use less curry paste for a milder, more peanutty stew. The curry paste can be refrigerated or frozen for future use.
  • I'm really getting into this whole curry paste idea - making it fresh opens up whole new flavor dimensions. For this dish, I adapted a Massaman Curry Paste recipe that I discovered on Bon Appétit.
  • That beautiful, handmade clay bowl with vented lid was a birthday present from my mom last year. It's from Ten Thousand Villages.

Mmmm...Massaman. Taste of it and fall in love!
Massaman is my Vegan MoFo Curry Number Six, and I'm not finished yet! The month is not  over, and I can forsee more curry in your very near future!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Chana Saag

The first time I tasted Chana Saag, I fell in love with spinach. This is a quick and inexpensive meal that's super easy to make, with only 5 ingredients! One of the ingredients is a curry spice blend, but if you have a fully stocked spice cabinet, I've included measurements for you to mix up your own.

Serves 4

  • 2 bunches of spinach
  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons curry spice blend
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 2 green onions to garnish (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  1. Wash the spinach. The easiest way to get all the dirt off is to immerse the entire bunch in water, so fill your sink up. Dunk the spinach several times, then tear it into pieces. It's okay to leave the stems, because they're all gonna get puréed, just remove the ends.
  2. Prepare your spice blend, if using.
  3. Heat some oil in a stock pot over medium flame, add the spices and sizzle for a minute to infuse the oil with flavor.
  4. Add the chickpeas, stirring so that they get coated in spice. Fry for a few minutes, until they are nicely browned.
  5. Remove half the chickpeas and set aside.
  6. Add the vegetable broth.
  7. Add the spinach and cilantro and simmer until tender.
  8. Purée everything together.
  9. Return the reserved chickpeas to the curry.
  10. Serve over basmati rice, garnished with green onions.
This curry pairs nicely with a spicy red wine, like a Malbec or a Syrah. If you have time, some Sweet Potato Samosas would be a perfect match.

Chana Saag is Vegan MoFo Curry Number 5! Get your fill and come back for more - I'll be featuring my favorite curries and trying new ones all month long.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vadouvan French Curry

I had no idea that such a thing as French curry existed until a few months ago. I was working as a hostess in a prix-fixe restaurant owned by a talented and creative chef who changed the menu up weekly. I thought that I was a curry expert, but this "Vadouvan" was news to me. I never got to taste the curry at that restaurant - it was most definitely not vegan - but it inspired me to try making my own.

Vadouvan is an onion-based curry that is roasted to add smokiness and enhance the flavors of its sweet and savory blend of spices. It didn't take much searching to find a recipe that I could adapt to vegan purposes. Gourmet published a recipe for Vadouvan way back in 2008 (thank you, Epicurious!) that I used as a guide. 

Vadouvan Curry

for the curry paste:
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 shallots
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
for the stew:
  • 1 more onion
  • 1 young aubergine
  • 1 fistful haricots vert
  • 12 champignons blanc
  • oil for frying
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • salt to taste
  1. Soak the fenugreek seeds in the tamari. I have tried grinding them in a mortar and pestle before, without success. Those little buggers are hard to crack.
  2. Peel the onion, shallots and garlic and chop roughly. Add them to a food processor with the oil, spices and tamari-soaked fenugreek. Whizz it all up into a nice thick paste.
  3. At this point you can either refrigerate your curry paste for future use or heat the oven up to 350.
  4. Chop the other onion and the aubergine into bite-size pieces. Wash and slice the mushrooms and the haricots vert.
  5. Mix the onions and curry paste together and bake. I threw my aubergine in there, too, because eggplants just taste better roasted. Bake 30 - 45 minutes, until onions are caramelized.
  6. Heat a little oil in a wok and lightly sauté the mushrooms and green beans, then add the roasted veg and curry paste. 
  7. Add in the vegetable broth and simmer 15 - 20 minutes. Salt to taste.
  8. Serve with basmati rice or naan and fresh herbs, alongside a glass of Merlot.

This was my first attempt at a Vadouvan, and I must be a Curry Expert after all, because it tasted amazing! (My taste testers agree.) It came out a little darker than I expected, but the flavor was fabulous! The caramelized onions are piquantly sweet, and mesh perfectly with spices like fenugreek and cardamom. Plus, roasting the Vadouvan makes your kitchen smell like a fancy Indian restaurant. Oh, the anticipation of flavors those smells incite!

This was Vegan MoFo Curry #4! More curries coming up, including Massaman and Chana Saag, so stay tuned, curry lovers!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Darvot Fritters

In the future, there aren't a lot of chefs. Except for a few diehard foodies, everybody uses replicators. They're very convenient - no shopping, no chopping - but sometimes they break down.
Neelix, a Talaxian and amateur chef aboard Voyager, set up a galley in what was supposed to be Captain Janeway's private dining room. The replicators were down, and the crew were quickly growing tired of dehydrated emergency rations. Neelix and Kes convinced the captain to convert Cargo Bay 2 into a hydroponic garden so the crew could enjoy some fresh food. "I can do some wonderful things with vegetables, Captain," Neelix bragged. "My Feragoit Goulash is known across 12 star systems."

Neelix in Voyager Season 1, Episode 4: "The Phage"

Neelix has kindly agreed to share his recipe for one of my personal favorites, Darvot Fritters. These spicy, bite-sized appetizers were one of the first dishes that Neelix served on Voyager. That time, there weren't enough to go around - crew members were allowed only one apiece. Now, you can eat as many as you can make! The best Terran substitute for darvot is summer squash, so here's a recipe to help you use up some of your excess zucchini.

"Rotate the Darvot Fritters until they turn a deep chartreuse."

Darvot Fritters

  • 1 summer squash, grated
  • 1 hatch pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chickpea flour
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • oil for frying
  1. Mix all ingredients into a sticky batter.
  2. Heat the frying oil in a skillet over medium flame. The bottom of the pan should be entirely coated.
  3. When the oil is hot, drop spoonfuls of the batter into the skillet. If the oil is hot, the fritters won't stick.
  4. Flip or rotate fritters until nicely browned, or, if you're using darvot, until a deep chartreuse.
  5. Serve with dipping sauce.
For my dipping sauce, I made a quick raita: plain coconut yogurt mixed with lime juice and minced cilantro.

I am happy that I have access to so much fresh food. The crew of Voyager had to get rather creative when sourcing ingredients. One of Neelix's specialties was "making something out of nothing," and edible substances were not limited to the vegetables in Cargo Bay 2...

Hopefully if I'm ever stranded in the Delta Quadrant, I won't have to resort to eating insects...ugh!

Happy Trekkie Tuesday and happy Vegan Month of Food to my Talaxian and Okampan friends!