Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘ginger’

Vegan Challenge-Week 1 check in

Well…… I’ve DONE it!!  One whole week with not a hit of animal product past my lips! As suspected, it really hasn’t been that hard because we already enjoy many vegan dishes a week, so it’s not like it feels all “weird” to be eating the things we do, it’s just the every meal aspect of it and of course the cow milk in my tea! Oh and much to my dismay, discovered that most, readily available, chocolate products all seem to contain dairy!!

So what have I been eating you ask?

vegetables II

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On the first night I whipped up a little “Spicy Tofu with vegetables and noodles”.

Start a little before and marinade the tofu for maximum flavour.

Marinade:

  • 2 cloves crushed fresh garlic
  • 1 inch knob of fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp sweetener of your choice – I used brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy  or Bragg sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

I whizzed it all up in my mini chopper but if you do your mincing and crushing by hand, just mix it all in a bowl.

Meanwhile, chop up a block of firm tofu into 1 inch cubes.  I put them directly into a glass baking dish in one layer and then pour the marinate all over them and make sure they are evenly coated.

Let sit for at LEAST half hour, but the longer the better.

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When you are ready to eat, assemble your goods.

So now like any “stir fry” type thing, feel free to use what ever vegetables you enjoy but this is what I used:

  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 4 medium size cremini mushrooms cut into fours
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage thinly sliced
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach with a rough chopped

Meanwhile:

Put on a pot of water to boil for the noodles.

I was surprised to find out that “Catelli Multigrain” noodles are in fact vegan.  I use these most of the time anyway but had never registered that they were egg free before because it wasn’t a priority, but good to know.

Then while the water is boiling, you might as well prepare a little garnish to go on top.

I chopped up a couple of green onions and made some carrot juliennes ( match stick size) with my new julien peeler ( I’ll show you that another time)

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Okay, let’s get started.

Firstly, in a large skillet or wok,  you want to pan fry your marinated tofu ( adding the marinade in a little at a time till it cooks down)  in a little neutral oil, till it gets  a little crispy on each side, just to give it some texture and the marinade makes a bit of a gooey sauce.

Then remove from the pan and keep warm in a heat safe container.

Add a little more oil and then toss in your vegetables.

Put you noodles in the boiling water and give a little stir.

Keep tossing the veg around until the cabbage starts to get nice and wilted.

Once the noodles are done, drain quickly and keep a bit of the cooking water.  Then toss the noodles into the pan with the veggies and toss them together.

Turn off the heat.

Give them a generous shot of soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and then keep tossing it everybody is well acquainted.

Place into your favorite bowl,  spoon on a helping of tofu, then top with the green onions,  carrot sticks and a sprinkle more sesame seeds.

Voila!  Vegan!

Vegan006

A little mid week Chinese chicken

Back in the day……

There was nothing I loved more than a great Chinese Buffet!

I had this one particular friend, who she and I would dawn our most spacious sun dresses and steal away to the buffet and eat till we could barely walk!

But times of have changed.

Now I try to eat healthy and then since I developed that pesky shell fish allergy, going buffets where I don’t know exactly what’s in everything, is simply just high risk behaviour!

But every now and again, I get a strong craving for some Chinese style chicken!

So last night I googled “Sweet and Sour Chicken” and so this recipe is loosely based on the first three or four that I looked at.

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Start by cutting and appropriate amount of  fresh chicken ( I used boneless breast) into nice manageable strips or bite size chunks.

Place the chicken in a bowl with one egg white,  2 tsp of cornstarch and 1/4 tsp of salt.   Mix throughly till the chicken bits are well coated, then set aside.

Meanwhile chop up a bunch of your favorite Asian style veg into nice strips.

I used:

  • red pepper
  • yellow pepper
  • red cabbage
  • broccoli

But any nice firm veg will do.

And some finely chopped fresh ginger, about 1″ knob or at least 1 tbsp.

 

Chinese chicken002

Oh yes…..and you will probably want to be cooking some rice or noodles or something on the side to go with it……or not.

Okay, now you are ready to go.

Get out your wok, or in my case big skillet and get it pretty smokin hot!

Then add about 1 tbsp of high smoking temp oil.  Do NOT use olive oil!!  I used coconut, it has a nice neutral flavour and can get nice and hot before burning.

 

Chinese chicken006

Once the oil is nice and hot, dump your chicken in the pan and quickly spread it out to a single layer.  But then DON’T touch it!!  And yes it will immediately stick!

But then after a minute or two of cooking, with a good strong spatula, flip it over and let it go another minute or two.

Then remove it to a CLEAN bowl or plate.  Don’t worry if it still looks a little pinkish, it will cook some more soon.

Then add a little more oil to the pan, let it heat, then toss in all of your veg, including the ginger and give them a good toss.

 

Chinese chicken005

 

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NOTE:   now in all the “Sweet and Sour” recipes I looked at, they were using pineapple as the “Sweet”.   I didn’t have any so I substituted in the sauce (coming next) but if you WERE to use pineapple chucks, this is where you would toss them in, with the veg and then use the juice in the sauce.

 

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Sauce:   So as mentioned, the real recipes called for canned pineapple and then the juice in the sauce.   But the closest thing I had was oranges.

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 white or rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • and in hind sight, I would have used a pinch of chili flakes

Mix that up well.

Once the veg have cooked for a minute or two, pour in the sauce, mix well and turn up the heat until the sauce starts to bubble.

Then add the chicken back in to the pan.   Stir it all up, put the lid on and let simmer for a couple of minutes until everything is well cooked.

Serve with your favorite side dish!

Easy chicken!  And the best part is……you know EXACTLY what’s in it!!

 

Chinese chicken008

Cockle Warmer

Well we all knew it would happen sooner or later, that the weather would turn on us! I hope not as bad for you as it has been for some!

Now that we have changed the clocks back to standard time here in North America,  it is time to turn to our comfort food.

The “Cockle Warmers” if you will.

Here’s a little impromptu dish I whipped up for a dreary night.

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I started with the base of my “Butter Chicken” recipe but went the lazy route.

Here is what you will need:

  • boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into cubes
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 inch minced fresh ginger

Start by browning the chicken is a deep skillet.  When the chicken is no longer pink, toss in the onions, garlic and ginger and keep stirring around till everything is looking a bit “sweaty”.

Now I just happened to have some grape tomatoes that were about on their last days so I tossed them in.   But you could use any chopped or canned tomato if you like.

Keep cooking till the tomatoes get a bit wrinkly looking.

Then add your spices.  Curry type dishes can be very personal from heat to intensity.   I hate to admit but I really have no rhyme nor reason to my combos.  I have a big drawer full of old pickled artichoke jars that I fill with my herbs and spices.  I open the drawer and see what takes me.   On this occasion I added, more or less a “good sprinkle of”:

  • cumin
  • coriander
  • chili flakes
  • turmeric
  • commercial curry powder
  • smokie paprika
  • garam masala
  • salt & pepper

Sprinkle all of those over the chicken and then stir in thoroughly till you can smell them.

Then add about 1/2 cup or more of cream.

Stir that in well and then cover and let simmer for at least 10 minutes till the flavours get good and acquainted.

You COULD stop here.

But I also happened to have some left over chick peas in the fridge that I tossed in and then some nice kale that I chopped up and added in at the last minute.

Put the lid back on for a few minutes until the chick peas heat and the kale wilts.

Then you are good to go!   Just add it to some rice or your favorite grain.

Or in my house, we even put this sort of thing on pasta!

I quickly whipped up a little cucumber salad to have something fresh along with it.

Finely slice either by hand or on a mandolin slicer some:

  • Cucumber
  • red bell pepper
  • red onion

Toss them in a little rice wine vinegar with a drizzle of something sweet, sugar, honey, agave etc and a little salt and pepper.    Let the vegetables sit in this for a little before serving.   But I like to leave as much of the liquid behind when serving.

And there you have a quick Wednesday night type dinner that was very easy and you can hide all sorts of good for you things in there!!

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Pineapple Chicken

For those of you who have been following along for a while, you’ll know that I don’t usually eat in Asian style restaurants.

Not that I don’t LOVE that food, it’s just that with my shell-fish allergy it is just too high risk to make sure I don’t accidentally eat the wrong thing?

So I often have to rely on trying to recreate my favorite dishes so that I know exactly what is in them.

Pineapple chicken used to be one of my favorite dishes from the Chinese take-out.   I am embarrassed to admit that I used to love that heavily battered stuff in the super sticky unnaturally red sauce.  I even liked the frozen version that you could bake in the oven in the tin foil box!

My how times have changed.

I think you will find this version just a tad healthier.

You will need:

  • skinless, boneless chicken ( breast or thighs)
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper cut into triangle chunks
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 can of pineapple chunks in own juice.  ( drain but keep juice for sauce)

Start by dicing the chicken into bite size bits and add to a hot  skillet with a few sloshes of a neutral oil.

Brown on all sides and then add onion, peppers and ginger, keep cooking.

After a few minutes, add the vinegar, soy sauce and chili flakes.   And if you like things sweeter, at this point you could add a tbsp of brown sugar or the sweetener of your choice.

Mix well, then add the pineapple chunks, stir in, turn down the heat and let simmer until everything is cooked through.

Once everything is well heated and chicken is cooked, it is time to make the sauce.

Add to the reserved pineapple juice, 2 tsp of cornstarch and mix it in until it is completely dissolved then add to the chicken and keep stirring until you see that the sauce is thickened up.

I served it with some “orange scented” basmati rice.  Which basically means I used orange juice as half of the cooking liquid and then added some fresh orange zest just before serving.

For greens, I cooked up some brocoli with a bit of bok choy and fresh ginger with a splash of soy sauce and sesame seeds.

There you go.  A healthier version of an old favorite and you know exactly what you put in it!

Pineapple Chicken

Salad Wraps

I love, love, love these!

They are easy, tasty and another favorite way of hiding the veggies!

So what you will need for wraps:

  • rice paper
  • mixed greens salad mix or other lettuce
  • cilantro leaves
  • veg cut into strips   ( your choice is endless)

Some choices being:

  • cucumber
  • peppers
  • zucchini
  • carrot
  • jicama
  • basically anything you can cut into a strip
Prepare all of your vegetables before you start.  Then place everything out ready for assembly.
Get a flat, big enough to hold the wrapper, sized bowl of warm water, a cutting board with a clean tea towel on it.
Dip the wrapper in the water for a few seconds till it goes limp.   Practice makes perfect on this.
Lay it out on the the tea towel and line the middle with salad greens then top with your favorite veg.  Being careful not to stuff them too much that you can’t roll them.
Feel free to sprinkle with chopped toasted nuts or sesame seeds or the like.  And the cilantro leaves.
Then roll them up like you would a burrito.  Fold over covering the filling, then sides in, then roll.

Meanwhile………..and this is only a suggestion.  Feel free to use the dipping sauce of your choice…….there are many!

For sauce:

  • 1/2 cup raw soaked cashews  or 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 cilantro
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy or Bragg sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes

Whiz this up in the food processor.  Add a little water if it is too thick whiz again.  Repeat till you get the consistency you like.

These make a great snack or lunch or make a bunch ( smaller size ones) and they make a great party snack!

Salad rolls with dipping sauce

Citrus Chicken

As I have mentioned many a time before, I am allergic to shell-fish and for that reason I avoid most Asian style restaurants because the abundance of shell-fish is just too high risk.

But this doesn’t mean to say that I don’t LOVE some of the foods one might get there.  Before “the trouble” ( because I wasn’t always allergic) I used to frequent many a Chinese buffet!

One thing I particularly miss is Lemon Chicken.

So today I thought I’d try my own version, only without the crispy batter of course.

Here is what you will need:

  • boneless skinless chicken breast cut in bite size cubes
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • aprox 1 inch minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 orange pepper in thin slices
  • juice of half a fresh orange
  • juice of 1 fresh lemon
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar ( or sweetener of your choice)
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes ( more if you like)
  • 1/4 water or stock

In a hot skillet, add about 1 tbsp of oil and then brown the chicken.   Then add the garlic and ginger, toss well and cook till they are well sweated.

Then add all of the other ingredients, mix well and bring up to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes.

At this point, it can be ready but the sauce will be thin.   OR you can do like real Chinese food and add some cornstarch to thicken it up and give it that glossy look.

Put 1 tbsp of cornstarch in about 3 tbsp of water and mix into a thin paste, then add to the chicken dish and mix in well.  It should take a short time for it to thicken up.

Then it is ready to serve.  Top with some green onion and maybe some toasted cashews?

Citrus Chicken

Singapore Noodles

Back in the day, I used to eat a LOT of Singapore Noodles! 

Back when I lived in Montreal, I used to work as a Stage Manager in live theatre, so every Thursday night, I would call in the order from the lighting booth and then after the show,  we would swing by the Kam Shing restaurant on Cote des Neiges Blvd to pick up a big order of Singapore Noodles and General Tso Chicken.

Those were the days!   I could still eat shrimp back then.  In fact, it was while eating those noodles every week that I started to notice “the trouble”.  I always dread the thought that I may have over eaten shrimp to the point of being allergic!!

Oh well……so now I make my own, without the shrimp of course!

Feel free to add shrimp if they are no trouble to you.  Or substitute with chicken or tofu or like in this particular version, there is nothing at all!

Firstly, you will need:

  • 1 pack thin rice stick noodles (rice vermicelli)

Then, thinly slice up:

  • 1 red or green bell pepper  ( or half of each)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 carrot into match stick size bits
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage
  • 3 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 cup of mung bean sprouts ( but I didn’t use any)
  • 2 green onions

Then for the sauce mix together:

  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar  ( or favorite sweetener)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt  ( or 1 tsp soy sauce )
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder, or to taste

Start by boiling some water for you noodles, either in a pot or a kettle.  When the water boils, turn it off and add the noodles or pour boiling water over noodles in a bowl, stir to soften them.

Rice vermicelli noodles

Then in a skillet or a wok, heat some oil then add, peppers, carrots and ginger. 

Once they get a head start, add the cabbage and if using, bean sprouts.  Add a bit of the sauce to help cook down the cabbage.

Drain the noodles and add to the skillet, toss into vegetables.

Add the remaining sauce and the green onions, toss quickly till noodles are completely coated.

Singapore Noodles

Serve immediately.  I garnished with some chopped cilantro and black sesame seeds.

Ah the memories!

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