Category Archives: Vegetables and Fruits

Tempeh and Eggplant Ragu with Quinoa

Recipe trying to imitate: Eggplant Ragu from Granville Cafe

Eggplant Ragu

Upon hearing a phrase “fermented soy beans,” we Japanese are probably the only people who would go “Mmmmm…. Now THAT sounds delicious” and even truely mean it.  But why not?  They have given us critical foundation for traditional Japanese flavors that we simply should not live without – Soy sauce is made of fermented soy beans, for instance, and so is miso.  And let’s not forget that dreaded but addictive natto.  Mmmmmm.

So as you can imagine, I think quite highly of fermented soy beans and believe anything that comes from them, even if it is originated outside of Japan like tempeh, cannot be not awesome.  But all these make it kind of ironic that my favorite tempeh recipe couldn’t be farther away from any Asian flavor.  Continue reading

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Salad with Fresh Figs, Cheese and Nuts

Recipe coming from: My romancing of fresh figs and all the recipes out there that I tried to find a perfect combination

fresh fig salad

If I were to be given three wishes, one of them, naturally, would be to make fresh figs available all year around.  Ridiculous, I know.  I have a car that tells me how to get to new places and a robot that sweeps and mops the floor.  Yet we still have not figured out how we can produce this most delicious fruit throughout the year?  I mean, I see bean sprouts any time of the year, and everybody I know seems to hate them.  Seriously, people… PRIORITIES.

With the promise of the 21st century science failing me, I have no choice but continue to obsess and have as many of these little gems as possible from the moment they hit the fresh produce section mid to late summer until the end of September when the short season ends.  That means – A few more trips to Trader Joe’s, and I have to endure many figless months all over again. Continue reading

Za’atar Spiced Beet Dip with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

Recipe adjusted from: Food & Wine Magazine (Contributed by: Yotam Ottolenghi)

za'atar spiced beet dipI *adore* beets. It is my typical weekend routine to buy and roast a bunch so that I can enjoy them throughout the coming week. Whether with a quick lemon-balsamic vinaigrette and toasted nuts on the bed of greens or in creamy yogurt sauce with fresh herbs and spices, their intense sweetness always comes through even in simplest preparations and never ceases to amaze me. As if that is not enough, I also tend to order a beet appetizer when I eat out if the restaurant has one on the menu. I feel by now I have tried every possible combination of ingredients when it comes to eating beets.

So when I say this may be my favorite way of eating beets – You should know it’s not just good, it’s CRAZY good. Do consider yourself warned; Ever since I discovered this recipe, I have been making and eating it non-stop. I may have possibly exceeded my lifetime quota of beet consumption at this point. Continue reading

Mushroom Stroganoff with Cardamom Basmati Rice

Recipe adapted from: Feast – Food to Celebrate Life (by Nigella Lawson)

mushroom stroganoff

I didn’t like mushrooms when I was growing up, and I was a fool.

I thought they were slimy and kind of gross, and they always seemed like a “filler” or even an afterthought in sautéed veggies or meaty pasta, which I felt was rather pointless and unnecessary. The idea of truffle being one of the world’s most precious and sought-after delicacies perplexed me more than fish roe and duck liver being the others. Of course I had never tasted truffle at that time, I only knew it was a type of mushroom. And people train pigs to find them in the forest. That sounded as bizarre as “Where the wild things are” to a 9-year old Japanese kid.

Fortunately, my taste bud had caught up to be able to appreciate the fantastic world of fungi by the time I was introduced to this version of mushroom stroganoff.  Still, I was absolutely shocked by how delicious this dish came out despite of the recipe’s simplicity when I made it for the first time. Since then I have made this for many, many occasions, but every time, I’m amazed and almost confused as to how only mushrooms and a couple of spices (paprika and nutmeg) can deliver such a deeply rich and complex flavor. And every time, it makes me regret about all those years when I diligently picked out any mushroom slices I could find from my plate to avoid eating them. Continue reading

A Day-Old Bread, Chard and White Beans Gratin

Recipe inspired by: Zuppa di Cavolo (Italian Cabbage Soup)

bread chard white bean casseroleI have had my fair share of a rock-hard bread loaf forgotten in the breadbox, but I never minded that much as there seem to be many usages for it – Famous panzanella salad and tomato & bread soup would be obvious and fun choices, whereas I could be more practical and make homemade croutons or bread crumbs to stock up in freezer.

Then one day, with another half loaf of old bread and some leftover ingredients, I almost accidentally put this together, adapting from a variation of Zuppa di Cavolo where the soup is ladled over toasted crusty bread. It INSTANTLY became my favorite way of consuming old bread – As a matter of fact, I like it so much that I now go so far as to let the bread go stale on purpose to make this dish.

But since I sort of made it up and perhaps tend to be overexcited thus somewhat incoherent when talking about it, I have had a hard time describing this dish to others and, consequently, convincing them how good it is – Even to my sister, who is actually married to an Italian (“So… it’s basically cabbage soup?” “No, it’s more like gratin. And bread becomes like French toast, but it’s savory and baked” “So it has eggs in it?” “No, it’s soaked in broth. And I put cheese on top. It’s soooo good! Make it. Make it TONIIIIGHT!!!” “Uhh… Okay…”). Continue reading