March 14, 2013 § 5 Comments
Looking back through the archives, it seems that every year around this time pickles make an appearance. Perhaps it’s to do with the lull between winter veg and new spring veg, since I certainly eat pickles year round. But right now, in March, pickled vegetables perk everything up; they’re light on effort and brighten up even the most ordinary vegetables and meals.
I hadn’t made pickled carrots in a while, and so when I’d got everything else ready it dawned on me that I was out of fresh ginger and frozen ginger. But, recalling the jar of candied ginger used in the pear-ginger sugar muffins, I decided to give it a try, subbing out some of the added sugar in my typical carrot pickling mixture for the sugar inherent in candied ginger. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 2, 2012 § 11 Comments
Lately I’ve been on a bit of a preservation/pickling kick, as evidenced by the pickled beets previous. After impatiently waiting for a few weeks while the salt and acid worked its magic, I can enjoy the fruits of my labor, preserved lemons and preserved oranges.
The preserved lemons are a classic Mediterranean/Maghrebian/Middle Eastern dish, with each region having a preferred spice mix. My version seems to be most common in Moroccan cuisine, with coriander adding a nutty warmth and slight muskiness to the bright lemons. I also poked in a dried chilli because I like spice. The lemons are great chopped finely and added to tagines and couscous dishes, and they also go well with poultry too.
As for the preserved oranges, I decided to take them in an almost Chinese direction, with a hint of Szechuan peppercorns adding a tingling spiciness, chillis for yet more added heat, and my favorite, a broken point of star anise providing a licorice undercurrent. They’re an almost-fusion experiment that turned out even more successful than I could’ve hoped. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 30, 2011 § 3 Comments
A crunchy, slightly bitter variant of radish, daikon, with its crisp texture and delicate flavor, makes a refreshing salad when thinly sliced and dressed with a tangy, creamy dressing with notes of soy sauce, mustard, and lemon. Daikon is often associated with Japanese cuisine, and at least in my experience daikon is typically made into really delicious pickles or into what is known as turnip cake (you may have tried it at a dim sum restaurant), which is a bit of a misnomer since there’s no turnip in turnip cake.
Aside from restaurants, typically daikon is available at Asian markets, but I actually spotted daikon at the grocery store the other day (Whole Foods, if you have one nearby) and squealed with excitement. Ignoring the many mutinous mumblings from a certain someone wishing to never go grocery shopping with me again in the future, I went in search of watercress so that I could make this daikon, mango, and watercress salad I’d read about earlier in the day.
The recipe itself is actually a British interpretation of a Japanese dish. But before you shudder off in horror, the British twist is supplied by none other than Jamie Oliver, who is one of the sources I turn to most when in search of new ideas for vegetables. « Read the rest of this entry »
April 12, 2011 § 4 Comments
Ginger-scallion noodles and quick pickles are some of the easiest dishes I know, and more importantly, they’re tasty and crowd-pleasing. Mostly, though, I adore them because they bring alive the flavors of my childhood. Ginger and scallions are, of course, two cornerstones of Chinese cooking, along with soy sauce and garlic, and the pickles are kind of a cousin to my mom’s classic cucumber salad, and one of my very first posted recipes.
I am inordinately fond of the pickles because for a long time I never thought I’d be able to eat them again, the restaurant where I first enjoyed them having closed right after I graduated from college. While all the meals were spectacular (and I’m still trying to replicate a few other dishes), the taste of the pickles in particular fascinated me. They are subtly sweet with a slight sour kick and perfect with any sort of Asian-type meal, though I generally tend to make them to accompany these ginger-scallion noodles, as their fresh, crisp taste contrasts nicely with the ginger-scallion sauce. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Thai-inspired green curry is by no means an authentic dish, but it tastes seriously delicious and definitely made my cravings for Thai food diminish somewhat. Living in what is basically the middle of nowhere, there are actually many restaurants and grocery stores catering to Asian clientele, though sadly none for Thai food. However, I was able to scrounge around the decently-stocked “World Foods” aisle at Meijer and find some Thai curry pastes, both red and green, plus I had a few cans of coconut milk lurking around my pantry that I had stocked up on at a trip to Whole Foods a few months ago. Fortunately the paste I picked (the brand is helpfully named Thai Kitchen) is quite good: gently spicy and fragrant with lemongrass and kaffir limes.
October 16, 2010 § 3 Comments
Usually when I cook spaghetti squash, I take it in an Italian-ish direction, with Parmigiano cheese and basil and sometimes even bacon (the Midwestern version of pancetta), as this squash is often treated like pasta. But, this time I decided to take spaghetti squash in a completely different direction, but still being inspired of the spaghetti squash’s namesake by thinking of Asian flavors and, more specifically, Chinese noodles. I like the contrast of the spaghetti squash’s nutty taste and the bright, energetic flavors of sesame oil and soy sauce, but taken up a notch with fresh ginger, scallions, peanuts, and garlic.
I opted for crushed peanuts as garnish, but you could top it with sesame seeds, roasted squash seeds, or cashews. Of course, this is great on its own, but adding in shrimp or pan-fried tofu would also be tasty, and turn this into a heartier dish.
August 16, 2010 § Leave a comment
Yesterday was my first trip to the local farmer’s market. I’ve been to the large one in my hometown but never to the one here near my school in the Midwest because I’d either oversleep the time, or was out of town. However, I am so happy I grumpily made it out of bed and to the market, because I found so many gorgeous vegetables and a lot of other foodstuffs – they had bread, homemade tortilla chips, pies and other sweets, cheese, and sausages in addition to fruits and vegetables.
However, I restricted myself to two reusable cotton bags of produce, because otherwise I’d find myself drowning in vegetables. The first thing I cooked was Swiss chard. Isn’t it stunning? It’s like eating crayons, only, you know, healthy and tasty…and actually edible for those of us not in kindergarten!
Anyways, I decided to stir-fry it with some Chinese sausage. I like to serve the Swiss chard and Chinese sausage mixed in with noodles, but it’s also good with rice. I don’t recommend using seashell pasta like I did – spaghetti or linguine or any long noodle, Asian or not, works much better – but hey, this is what I had in my pantry. It still tastes great, though is more challenging to eat with chopsticks; I opted for a fork.