19 August 2017

Beet salad update

I keep meaning to update my beet salad recipe, but keep forgetting to do so. My friend asked me for the recipe, and I pulled it up here.

http://altveg.blogspot.com/2009/02/beet-salad-of-doom.html

I've made that salad many times, and as she mentioned, it's extremely forgiving. You can happily cut this in half, and it'll be fine. When I wrote the recipe originally, it was a way for me to eat beets, and not hate them. Over time, however, I found that 3 lbs of beets was a bit much to get at once, and that buying a half pound of daikon is a bit of a ridiculous proposition. So I'd quietly cut back on the beets, and just bump up the daikon and apples, and the balance of flavours was much nicer for me. Also, over the times I've made it, I would sometimes not have daikon, so I'd use whatever was similar in texture that was lying around, and it worked out just fine. Sometimes, I'd have only odds and ends left, and I'd work it out with those odds and ends. Also, sometimes I'll throw in a chopped red onion, and it's a lovely addition.


2 lb beets
1 lb carrots
1 lb daikon, red radish, chayote, red cabbage, white cabbage, or any combination of these
1 lb granny smith apples (if you can't find granny smith, use the firmest apple you can find, and bump up the lime juice in the dressing)

Peel the beets with a peeler. Grate the beets. Don't bother peeling anything else, unless you're really that fussed about it. If the skin is gross looking, I'll peel the daikon or carrot, but never peel the apple. The skin helps it stay together.

Dressing:
1/4 - 1/2 cup peanut butter (this works with sunflower seed butter, almond butter, and cashew butter as well)
1 TB white miso (optional; if you use red miso, cut the amount in half)
1 1/4 cups apple juice
2 TB lemon or lime juice
Salt, to taste
1 TB Rice wine or apple cider vinegar
Knob of ginger about the size of the first joint of your thumb
Cayenne pepper, to taste

In a blender, combine together the miso, the apple juice, the lime juice, some salt, the vinegar, ginger, and a couple of pinches of cayenne pepper. Blend until the ginger is completely broken down and incorporated. Start with 1/4 cup of peanut butter, and blend to combine. If the dressing is thick to your liking, stop here. If you'd like it thicker, feel free to add more peanut butter.

Toss the grated vegetables together with as much dressing as you'd like (I use it all, because I like salad to be decadent), and let it marinate for about 30 minutes in the fridge. The flavours need a bit of time to mellow out, and combine well.



If you don't have or like apple juice, just use water, and add about 1 tsp of sugar. If you don't have miso, skip it completely, or sub it out with tahini. The dressing will definitely have no problems if you feel like adding a bit more ginger. You can blend in about 1 tsp of toasted sesame oil if you want the flavours to be more intense, but I wanted this recipe to be oil free. You can also add chopped onion and garlic, but I wanted the recipe to be free of onion and garlic as well.

If you don't like sweet with salty, cut back on the apples by about 1/2, and bump up the daikon/cabbage/chayote (or whatever you end up using) instead. They'll be able to mute some of the sweetness coming from the apples and carrots. I personally don't care for recipes that are sweet and salty together, but this was a good balance, and I enjoyed it.

This does make a good base to add to other stuff, but when you've got like 6 lbs of salad lying around, I'm not sure that you'll ever need to bulk it out. That said, if you do end up halving the recipe, still make the full batch of dressing. The dressing is quite delicious when tossed with noodles too.

The point is that the salad is very forgiving, and you'll be fine as long as you stick to the texture family of the ingredients I've listed.

16 July 2017

Blooming spices

I give a VERY short primer on blooming spices in fat.

13 May 2017

Vegetable Soup

It came out well. I also give you a mini mini mini tour of my tiny kitchen.

09 February 2017

Someone asked me how to get separate rice like you get in the Indian restaurants. I responded as I did below:

First of all, realise that restaurants frequently undercook 1/4 of their rice, and toss it through to give it the illusion of being even more separate. Also, they use enough fat to drown a whale. If we all did that, it would come out like the restaurant too, but we'd also turn so fat that we'd never walk again.

Here's your best bet.

You need a pot with tight fitting lid. You need rice that's a good brand of basmati. Not all basmati is created equal. If you want the best of the very best, get yourself Tilda basmati rice. It will always come out longer, fluffier, and better tasting than any other brand. While you practise, you can use whatever.

In a saucepan, add just enough oil to coat the bottom. You don't need huge heaping amounts, but just enough to lubricate the rice. Heat it up over medium heat, with the lid on, checking frequently for the state of the oil. The oil should be hot enough that a bit of smoke escapes the surface. Add in 1 cup of rice. If you really feel like washing rice is essential, feel free to do so before you heat the pot, but I've skipped that step, and my rice comes out lovely. Add a generous sprinkle of salt. Why? Because like any starch, rice absorbs salt from the cooking water, and tastes really good when it does so. If you're watching your salt intake, just do a couple of hefty pinches. Rice needs some salt to be its best.

DO NOT USE A SPOON ON THE RICE. In fact, don't use any stirring utensil if you can help it. Instead, toss the rice in the oil by making the tossing motion with your saucepan. Why? Because if you mess with the rice with a stirring implement, you risk breaking up the delicate grains.

Continue cooking and tossing until the rice is opaque. It will no longer be translucent, but become a brighter white than opaque. Once the rice smells slightly nutty, and has a uniformly opaque look, add 1 cup + 1/4 cup of boiling water, and crank the heat to as high as it'll go. Why boiling?

You want the water to come up to the boil as rapidly as you can. It seems to help keep the oil onto the surface of the rice, rather than washing off into the liquid, and making the rice stick to the bottom of the pan, or each other. As soon as the rice hits a full rushing boil, lift the pot off of the stove, and swirl it around for 3 seconds. Loosely drape a square of parchment paper, aluminium foil, or a damp towel over the pot's opening, and slam on the lid. This will ensure that the seal is tight.

Drop down the heat to as low as the stove will go, and place the pot back onto the heat. Set a timer for 12 minutes if it's an electric stove, or 15 minutes if it's a gas stove. Why? Because an electric stove takes a longer time to cool down than a gas stove. You will have the pot sat on the residual heat longer on an electric stove. The gas stove will only have residual heat on the metal parts, meaning that the rice will need direct flame a bit longer.

At the end of the cooking time, turn off the heat, and DON'T TOUCH THE LID OR THE POT. The rice is still cooking, and needs time to finish steaming. There will be a bit of water that needs to absorb into the rice. Set a timer for 12 minutes for electric, and 10 minutes for gas. Leave the pot alone, and walk away.

At the end of the waiting time, go ahead and remove the lid, and any tightening measures you've done. Dump it out aonto a large platter (I use my cookie sheet, because it's huge), and gently press it out into as flat a layer as possible with a silicon spatula. Let it cool for about 30 seconds, and gently toss with the silicon spatula. It will fluff up beautifully and the whole thing will smell awesome.

Or, use a rice cooker.

11 January 2017

Catching up with old friends

My friend Pete had a Monday evening off, and it was a flimsy excuse (but a good enough one for us!) to get together. He's the one who took the lovely picture of the food. Go say hi to him. He's a cool vegan guy. I suggested we get together for dinner. Mikeypod realised that he was also free on Monday night, and said he could come as well. Perfect.
cucumber and tomato salad, garlic sesame broccoli, red lentil daal on brown basmati rice, green beans curry
Photo Credit: Peter Teoh https://plus.google.com/+PeterTeoh

It's been a long time since we got together. Between scheduling and work, it's been almost impossible to coordinate a time when we can all hang out and eat. I knew that the meal had to be good and filling, while still tasting amazing. Pete had some green beans, broccoli, and red lentils. He also had  box of those campari tomatoes. They taste good all by themselves. 

I brought over the brown rice and the cucumbers. I generally dislike brown rice, but in the hands of people who know how to cook it properly, I quite like it. I especially like it if I have some kind of stew to pour over it. That way the texture isn't quite as much of a turn-off. 

The red lentils were a basic daal: mustard seed, cumin seed, sesame seed, turmeric, onion, garlic, and ginger. I fried some dried red chilies, but that's an optional step. You can skip it, or add it directly to the tarka, and it'll still be fine. Pete made the brown rice. He is without a doubt one of the people who is good at making brown rice. 

The broccoli was super simple. I peeled the stems and cut the florets into long pieces with the long stems attached. I blanched it in boiling water for about a minute or two. I drained off the boiling water, and rinsed it under cold running water. I then fried some garlic and sesame seeds in hot oil, and tossed the cold broccoli in that mixture with a bit of salt. I did this last step just before Mike arrived, so that it'd be hot off the stove. 

The green beans are a typical South Indian preparation. You chop them into small pieces, and stir fry them with a tarka made of mustard seeds, asafoetida, and sesame seeds. I didn't have any urad daal or curry leaves, so I skipped it. I didn't have any fresh grated coconut, so I skipped that as well. 

The salad is a basic combination of cucumber, tomato, onion, lemon juice, and cilantro. Since all three of us like cilantro, I put lots of it in. If you don't like cilantro, try basil instead. It's equally delicious. 

I think all three of us had second helpings of everything, because it all came out so well. I had help, so the whole thing took about 45 minutes to make.