Pickled mustard greens

One of my favorite Szechuan dishes is a spicy stew of fermented mustard greens and fish. I have tried to recreate it at home using homemade sauerkraut and chilis, and it was good – but not the same.

Fresh local mustard greens inspired me to ferment my own, and I can’t wait to eventually try making the stew again (in maybe a month? I like my greens real sour).

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  • 3 quarts water
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 3-4 star anise pods
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled, sliced thin
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 bird chilis or other hot chili to taste
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1.5 lbs fresh mustard greens, well washed (lots of grit!)

Boil all ingredients except mustard greens and cool brine back to room temperature. Pack glass canning jars with greens and fill with brine to cover greens. Evenly distribute the aromatics among the jars. Make sure all greens are below the brine level and set in a dark place to ferment for at least a week. Loosen the jar lid periodically to let gas escape. You can place in the fridge and let slow ferment for months- just be sure to keep releasing the pressure.

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Apricot-Salted Caramel Ice Cream

This lightly tropical ice cream is so luscious you wouldn’t know that it’s dairy free! I used coconut milk and eggs to add richness, and the pureed apricots add a velvety texture and perfume. You could go all the way vegan with this recipe by thickening with cornstarch instead of eggs.

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  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 3 large eggs (for vegan ice cream: omit eggs and dissolve 1/4 cup cornstarch in 1 can of coconut milk and add to the blender before the apricots)
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup toasted cashews

Melt sugar in medium saucepan over medium heat and continue to heat until it turns a deep brown and smells a bit like burnt marshmallows. Swirl the pan as the sugar browns to even it out. If you don’t let it go long enough at this stage, you won’t get much caramel flavor. I always think of it like this – if I go too far and it burns (has a bitter smell/taste), I can always start over – it’s just sugar.

Pour in the coconut milk (mixture will bubble and spit) and carefully stir over medium heat to re-melt the caramel. Pour mixture into a blender and, with blender running, add the eggs one at a time. Add 3/4 cup apricots, salt, and vanilla and let run until smooth.

Pour the mixture back into your saucepan and slowly heat to fully thicken, whisking constantly. Do not let boil – but, if you do, pour the mixture through a strainer before cooling to get any lumps out. Cool custard overnight and then churn in an ice cream maker. Top with thinly sliced dried apricots and toasted cashews.

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Kimchi pancakes and caramelized delicata squash

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Kimchi makes me so happy. So so happy. These pancakes especially with their crispy, spicy, chewy, tangy, juicy-ness, are one of my favorite ways to have kimchi. You could sub in all sorts of ingredients here, and I’ll share suggestions below. (a previous post has the salad recipe)

Kimchi pancakes

  • 1 cup kimchi sliced thin
  • 1 scallion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup bay shrimp (could sub in other proteins like drained tofu, sauteed mushrooms, scallops or leave out completely. My kimchi is vegan and gluten-free, so I can easily accommodate dietary restrictions. Many store-bought brands of kimchi contain fish sauce or oysters and may have gochujang with can be made with wheat or barley paste both of which contain gluten – check it closely to be sure)
  • 1/2 cup flour (can use gf flour blend or rice flour)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all of the ingredients together and thin with a little kimchi liquid if needed. Heat oil on medium high in a large nonstick pan. Scoop about 1/4 cup mixture into the pan and flatten so ingredients are more or less in one layer. Let the pancake cook until it is golden brown and crispy, then flip and cook to crisp the other side, about 5-7 minutes total.

These can be served with or without an easy dipping sauce of equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar with a dash of toasted sesame oil and chili paste. You can use tamari if you are trying to keep this recipe gluten-free.

Caramelized delicata squash

  • 1 delicata squash, scrubbed clean, cut in half longways, seeds scraped and then sliced (skin on) into thin half moons
  • Oil and salt/pepper

Not really a recipe, but after you have cooked the kimchi pancakes, throw the squash into the same pan and cook for about 5 minutes per side until they are dark brown and tender. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Tabouli with amaranth (gf)

IMG-3053I have been craving sour things lately – the aforementioned kombucha, fish with sauerkraut and fermented black beans, and this bright and crunchy tabouli. I make it gluten free using amaranth (a seed) in place of the bulgur (which is cracked wheat and thus has gluten). I happen to love the texture of amaranth anyways, but it also packs a serious nutrition punch. You can use the bulgur if you are not wheat sensitive, or try another grain or seed like quinoa, brown rice, or millet.

Tabouli with amaranth

  • 1 clove garlic, minced fine
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled amaranth (cook according to package directions – be sure to add salt to the cooking liquid)
  • 1 bunch curly parsley, de-stemmed and chopped fine
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped fine
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • juice of 2-3 lemons
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything up to the cucumbers in a large bowl to combine and then begin adding your seasonings to taste. I like it pretty sour, so I use all of the lemon juice, but start with half and add more to taste. Same with the olive oil, salt and pepper. You may need to re-season with salt once the veggies have lost some of their water. Garnish with chive blossoms if you are lucky enough to have some around!

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Cherry-ginger kombucha (aka fizzy, sweet and sour drink)

IMG_2741I have joined team kombucha. After drinking switchels for years, kombucha was easy to love – lightly fizzy, sweet and sour, interesting flavors, refreshing. As someone who doesn’t drink much alcohol, it has also been a welcome option for happy hours and potlucks. My main problem has been the price of it. At $3-$5 per 12-ounce bottle, it is often more expensive than beer.

Problem solved. My friend O gave me a “scoby” (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and some simple instructions (use black tea, plain sugar, keep it out of the light) and off I went. This is my third gallon batch, cherry-ginger flavor this time. I won’t go into instructions here, because there are so many blogs that dedicate themselves just to home-brew kombucha, but I will encourage you to give it a try. It isn’t hard at all (mostly waiting) and the flavor combinations are endless!

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Kimchi pancakes and kimchi style romaine

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I love kimchi pancakes in all their forms: mung flour based, rice flour based, regular wheat flour based (although I just found out that my body has decided not to be friends with gluten anymore). These were made with regular flour, eggs, chopped kimchi, chopped green onions and kimchi “juice.”

For this post, I’d like to focus on the salad – a kimchi style romaine with shaved radishes. The dressing is the exciting part, and I love the tang, spice and salt.

  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated peeled ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse Korean hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons black vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Combine these ingredients and toss with the chopped romaine and shaved radishes. This salad actually tastes even better as it marinates and wilts a bit.

South Indian-inspired lentil stew with coconut-rice crepes

Lentil soup with coconut rice crepe

This stew is inspired by some of my favorite breakfasts while in Goa. I didn’t follow a recipe, but I’ll try to capture how I ended up with the step. The crepes are an easy recipe that I’ll include below. I think they’d also be delicious with some butter and honey drizzled for breakfast or dessert!

Lentil Stew

Saute a chopped onion, 3 carrots, a tablespoon each of grated ginger and turmeric and 5 cloves of garlic until golden brown. Add a teaspoon each of black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and your favorite curry powder or masala. Add one bunch of chopped kale, 1/2 lb of split red lentils and enough veggie broth to cover everything. Let this simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt to taste. Once the lentils are soft, use an immersion blender to puree about half the soup and stir together until you get a consistency that you like. I prefer leaving in some of the chunks, but you might prefer a smoother soup. Adjust the spice levels to taste and add lemon juice for some brightness.

Coconut Rice Crepes

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Soak one cup of white rice (I used a mixture of basmati and sushi rice) in water overnight. Drain and place in a blender with 1/2 cup of fresh water and 1/2 cup coconut milk. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and blend until completely smooth. The batter will be very runny, maybe the thickness of cream? That is how it should be, don’t worry!

Heat a nonstick pan on high with some oil until just smoking. Add about 1/2 cup of batter to the pan and tilt to coat the pan thinly. Cook until light brown and then flip and cook until light brown on the other side.

Serve the stew with a garnish of chopped cilantro and a few rice crepes for dipping.

Poached eggs, kale-lemon salad, buttery toast

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Easy dinner –

Step 1: Put a shallow pan of water on to simmer (for the eggs). Add a dash of vinegar and salt.

Step 2: Wash, stem and roughly chop one bunch of kale. Massage in a bowl with the juice of a lemon, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Step 3: Melt lots of butter in a big pan. Toast bread in the melted butter until golden on both sides.

Step 5: Crack eggs into a heatproof saucer and slip into the simmering water, one at a time. Poach for about 5 minutes for a medium-soft yolk.

Step 6: Stack the salad in a large bowl with toast on the bottom, topped with kale salad, crumbled feta and a poached egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted spaghetti squash

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It’s squash roasting season, obviously, but I wanted to make a specific plug for spaghetti squash. Cut it in half, scrape out the seeds, coat with olive oil and fill the halves with sliced garlic, herb sprigs and a sprinkle of salt.

Place, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the squash strands separate as you drag a fork across them. The texture should remain crisp, and it’s better to under-bake than over. If you really want to soften it, just throw it back in the oven for a few more minutes. An over-baked squash is just mushy and sad.

I like to toss the strands with toasted walnuts, red pepper flakes, black pepper and shards of parmesan or aged gouda. It’s also great coated with some fresh pesto.

Savory rice waffles (again)

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This post is only to remind you that you should make rice waffles for dinner very soon, and, more broadly, that you can put so many things in your waffle maker! These rice waffles were pretty basic, but topped with some seared bass, sauteed cabbage and a spicy black bean sauce.

Just take day-old (or week old, I’m not judging) rice, mix in an egg, some salt and any other add-ins (green onions, basil, chopped bacon, diced cooked shrimp). Cook in your waffle maker until the edges are nice and crispy. Top with sauteed veggies, meats, gravies, melted cheese, you name it. You can usually make a topping in the time it takes your waffle to crisp up!