Monday, March 3, 2008

Vegan for Lent!

P has decided to become vegan during the period of lent. This poses a new challenge for me which i found a little daunting at first but after perusing so many recipes online, i realised that i am not and will not be alone during this period of 55 days. So today being my day off, i made Pink Bean, Quinoa and Spinach Soup, courtesy of Fatfree Vegan Kitchen. The recipe was slightly modified as i did not know where to find pink beans.

Pink Bean, Quinoa and Spinach Soup
1.5 tbsp evoo
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8 baby carrots, quartered lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 14-16oz can diced tomatoes
2 tsp curry powder
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
0.5 cup quinoa
1 15-16oz can of pink beans ( I used Canellini)
5-6 oz baby spinach leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

I also added some lemon juice, Bragg's all purpose seasoning, 2 strips of Wakame to up the nutrient factor

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add carrots and garlic and saute until golden, about 5 min.

2. Add 6 cups water, followed by bouillon cubes, tomatoes, quinoa, beans and spices. Bring to a rapid simmer and cover then gently simmer for 15-20 min or until quinoa is tender.

3. Add Spinach and cover and cook until wilted. Season and serve.

This is a fairly quick one pot meal that can be made in about 25 min and is perfect for a light lunch. For Dinner, i wanted something with more flavour and found this scrumptious recipe from the Vegan Feast Kitchen

The original recipe is named Bryanna's Thai-style Spinach and Tofu with Peanut Sauce. I modified the recipe slightly to make it more nutty and spicy. 

Spinach and Tofu with Peanut Sauce
For the peanut sauce
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup veggie broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp palm sugar
1-2 tsp chilli paste ( i used a thai chilli and garlic paste)

Other ingredients
1 250g packet of tofu
300g spinach
1-2 tbsp Veg oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp chilli paste

1. Heat ingredients in a small saucepan until well combined.
2. Fry tofu until browned in peanut oil.
3. Add other ingredients, except spinach and stir until absorbed by tofu.
4. Add spinach last and cook until wilted.

Serve with steamed rice.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sambal prawns without the sambal

It was a special occasion yesterday and we ate out. We've been in Byron Bay for almost 6 months and have given up eating out everywhere except for 1 place which never fails to disappoint. Ignoring our gut feeling, we decided to try somewhere new and we ended up at a restaurant with a beautiful setting and ambience. With the sun setting in the background, we perused the menu with renewed confidence. I was surprised to see that the menu was all asian-fusion-modern. I am not a big fan of this sort of menu due to past experiences but placed my orders and crossed my fingers. By this time, i was starving after all.

I started with a Bloody Mary which needed more tabasco ( it needed more alcohol too). The raw kingfish with papaya salad was mediocre. The fish was fresh but at room temperature and drowned with a mix of very strong asian flavours including kecap manis. Coincidentally P's entree had the same overpowering sauce. My main was a very well cooked snapper fillet on a bed of wilted vegetables and heavily sauced again. But the final straw was the dessert, coconut cake, which was rather indescribable and we had barely made a dent in it. Overall, we were lamenting over the dinner and wondering if we were the 2 most picky eaters. The produce was undoubtedly fresh but it was a waste as everything was drowned in a rather generic tasting sauce. 

Ironically for dinner today, i decided to cook up some prawns and after browsing through some recipes on the net, i choose this one. Sambal Udang.

I added some kecap manis, soy sauce and lime juice. And served with rice and a salad with our current favorite salad dressing. But that's for another time. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Blog is born.

I've been lurking in everyone else's food blogs for a while. So many have been so inspirational and entertaining at the very least. I'm pretty much at the start of my cooking journey and decided it would be a good time to start my own. Like everyone else, i want to put up pictures of my creations and recipes. If nothing else, many self-help books push writing journals as an outlet. I'm all for outlets. 

Come to think of it, i should have started this earlier. Then i could document how far i've come. I used to serve ham sandwiches to friends comprising of 2 slices of bread ( generic, white bread) and a slice of ham. Untoasted! Very un-glam. I also never ate vegetables until the age of 19. I used to live with my sisters in a little apartment while at university. Our cousins named us the Salvation Army because we would eat anything, and everything. And be very grateful for any food that was given to us. As the eldest of three i went through phases of dabbling and my sister, who was always in desperate need of a home cooked meal, always volunteered to be my food tester with misplaced optimism. I started cooking in Febuary 2007, more out of necessity than anything else. Living in a country town for 6 months away from the city made eating out more an anti-climax than anything else. Partly because we are very picky eaters.  Never did i imagine that the endless hours of thinking about food, looking at cookbooks, and cooking would bring me such a feeling of accomplishment. I never knew i had it in me. Apparently no one else did too.

The name Exploding fish comes from a fail-safe recipe handed to me by a friend. It consists of ocean trout or salmon in a pyrex dish ( with a lid) in a microwave at medium power.

Exploding Fish
2 trout fillets
a dash of soy sauce
a smidge of chinese rice wine
chopped ginger
coriander powder
chopped coriander or spring onion

  1. Put all ingredients in the dish except chopped herbs and cover
  2. Microwave on medium for 8 minutes
  3. Remove and add herbs and cover for a few minutes until ready to serve
For all who have used a microwave before, you can deduce where the exploding comes from. The beauty of this recipe is that you don't need exact amounts and you can add or substitute different herbs (ie chilli, lime, lemongrass, ginger) and it always works itself out!