Posts tagged ‘vegetarian’

Palappam, Indian rice pancake


According to wikipedia; appam’ is fermented bread usually prepared with finely powdered rice flour. Palappam has a crisp lacy edge from being cooked in curved pans like woks.

The first time I had tried them was at a Sri Lankan restaurant in Staten Island, they called them hoppers (not to be confused with string hoppers which I had done at another Sri Lankan restaurant).

An egg goes on every fourth one (optional?), and I tried to keep the yolk runny. I used the recipe from Salt and Pepper, a simple recipe with really helpful photos, using just rice flour, coconut milk, and yeast. From what is I saw of all the rest of the recipes online, you basically need some raw rice and cooked rice. I took 2 tablespoons of rice flour and cooked it with some water to form a paste, the “kurukku” part (to be mixed with raw rice flour, can of coconut milk, and yeast). It ferments overnight, so plan ahead. In the morning the batter was thick and needed to be thinned out. The first one stuck to the pan, but the rest worked out great. This broke in my newly seasoned wok. Overall, it was much easier than I had expected. Unfortunately I didn’t have a good Sri Lankan fish curry to go with it. You can also eat it with sweet accompaniments instead of savory. They have a slight tangy coconut flavor and fluffy texture.



March 16, 2008 at 5:10 am 3 comments

Sesame noodles for lunch

Any type of noodles (hot or cold), dressed with soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds and scallions; makes for a quick light lunch, maybe with a poached or fried egg and some miso soup with spinach would be nice.
I have to get back to work now.  =(

February 21, 2008 at 4:24 pm 4 comments

Falafels are awesome


Until recently, I’ve only had the dried flavorless golf balls that passed as falafels at salad bars. But I’ve seen (and tasted) the light at several falafel locations in the city, and now I crave them often. Here’s a great falafel recipe by Mark Bittman over at the New York Times.

Falafel: Time: 1 hour, plus 24 hours’ soaking

  • 1 3/4 cup dried chickpeas
  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Scant teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 cup chopped parsley or cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • oil for frying
1. Put beans in a large bowl and cover with water by 3 or 4 inches; they will triple in volume. Soak for 24 hours, adding water if needed to keep beans submerged.
2. Drain beans well (reserve soaking water) and transfer to a food processor. Add remaining ingredients except oil; pulse until minced but not puréed, scraping sides of bowl down; add soaking water if necessary to allow machine to do its work, but no more than 1 or 2 tablespoons. Keep pulsing until mixture comes together. Taste, adding salt, pepper, cayenne or lemon juice to taste.
3. Put oil in a large, deep saucepan to a depth of at least 2 inches; more is better. The narrower the saucepan the less oil you need, but the more oil you use the more patties you can cook at a time. Turn heat to medium-high and heat oil to about 350 degrees (a pinch of batter will sizzle immediately).
4. Scoop heaping tablespoons of batter and shape into balls or small patties. Fry in batches, without crowding, until nicely browned, turning as necessary; total cooking time will be less than 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.


This makes a LOT of falafel, and I wanted to eat them all that night (but I stopped myself). They do taste good the next day reheated (either by frying briefly or baking in oven), but the texture did change a little. You really do need the dried beans to get the best effect. Fry up a few and adjust the seasonings for the batter. I didn’t think the one teaspoon of salt was enough and added an additional two. And you really do have to watch the oil temps (though I didn’t use a thermometer), make sure the oil isn’t too hot or you won’t be able to cook them all the way thru before you scorch the outside. The batter is easy to do if you have a large enough food processor (I had to do it in two batches), but the 24hour soaking doesn’t give me the instant falafel gratification (sigh). Maybe I can freeze some rehydrated chickpeas for falafels whenever? And don’t forget the yogurt sauce and pitas.

falafelsss.jpg(some were a little underdone, you need to get the outside browned all over)

lina-sm.gif Lina

February 17, 2008 at 9:55 am 3 comments

Graham flour is tasty


Trying to infuse some healthier things into my baking, I bought some whole wheat graham flour along with whole wheat pastry flour. Graham flour really smells like graham crackers (go figure). I also happened to catch the crepe episode on Good Eats the day before (this was a while ago), so naturally I had crepes on the brain.

Whole wheat graham crepes

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp oil
  • and extra oil for pan


Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients together well in a separate bowl or large measuring cup (the honey will not want to meld, it’ll take some time). Then whisk wet and dry together till smooth, set batter aside for 20mins. Heat up pan or griddle (medium to medium high), I prefer cast iron but nonstick will work. Put a few drops of oil in the pan and spread it all around. Ladle (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup) batter into the center of the pan, and quickly use the bottom of the ladle to spread out the batter in a circular motion (this will give you a nice thin crepe). After a minute (maybe little more) you can flip them, it should be a golden brown, if it’s too light you can flip it back again after another minute. Pile them up on a plate as you cook. They are both tender and sturdy with a slight honey graham flavor, great for breakfast or whenever.


lina-sm.gif -L

February 13, 2008 at 5:28 pm 3 comments

Warming winter squash

pan squash
My favorite squashes are Kabocha, a Japanese squash (with a thin skin that I can easily cut thru and leave on) and Butternut squash (if it’s the pre-peeled/pre-cut packaged kind). And my favorite way to cook squash is to roast them in the oven till they get crisp and caramelized.

Cumin Roasted Squash with Orange and Thyme

  • 1/2 Kabocha squash or 1.5lb of Butternut squash
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp of coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 tsp of whole cumin seeds or ½ tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coarse fresh ground pepper
  • 1 orange, juiced and zest
  • 1 tbsp of fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp of dried thyme

Preheat oven to 425°.
Cut squash into one and a half inch pieces.
Pour oil into a large cast iron pan or roasting pan.
Add in squash and mix in pan till they are coated in oil.
Then sprinkle on salt and spices, mix thoroughly.
Place in oven for about 20-25mins, turn them every 10min with tongs or flip them with spatula.
Zest the orange, and then juice it.
Mix zest and thyme in the orange juice.
Put the hot squash and juice into serving bowl, stir to incorporate.

    You can skip the orange juice as a dressing altogether. The roasted squash on its own is already perfect, a sweet interior with a savory crisp exterior.

    orange squash

     lina-sm.gif -L

    February 12, 2008 at 10:26 am 5 comments

    Obento, packing lunch…

    japanese food pyramid
    (This is a Japanese food pyramid poster sponsored by some major food corporations, I believe the official government one is far larger and includes categories for fermented foods and sea vegetables.)

      I usually just pack leftovers as a lunch for the hubby. When there are no leftovers, he sometimes leaves in morning with a banana and an orange and calls it a meal. With our families always insisting he’s too thin, I try feed him as often as I can. Usually in addition to dinner, he eats most of my baked goods and I pack him lunch when he’s substitute teaching. Here’s an example of my obento (not the cutest or most elaborate).

      1 1/2 cup cooked short grain rice
      1 tsp red shiso furikake (rice seasoning)
      1/2 sheet nori (cut into small strips)
      1 egg (beaten w/ dash of salt & pepper)
      3 shitake mushrooms
      1 korean pepper
      1 tsp sesame
      2 tsp mirin
      1 tbsp oil
      handful of (1 cup) baby spinach
      4 cherry tomatoes (halved)

        Cook rice according to package (I used a rice cooker and added some mixed grains). Cut mushrooms and peppers into strips. Heat up a small pan, add oil and then sesame seeds. Give it a few seconds for the sesame seeds to toast up and then throw in the mushrooms and peppers. Cook till mushrooms have shrunk and the peppers soften, then add the mirin and the spinach, stir till they wilt. I put the veggies in one corner of the dish, and the rice on the other half. With a hot pan coated in oil, pour the beaten egg in and swirl around. It should spread out thin like a crepe, and fold it over on itself twice to get a wedge. Stick in the egg and tomatoes, and sprinkle the rice with nori and furikake. You can make it completely vegan by replacing the egg with tofu or natto (for the adventurous). I think I got in a good chunk of the food pyramid, and I applied the principles of washoku (balance of colors and flavors). Made me feel like a Japanese housewaifuu.

        lina-sm.gif -L

        January 31, 2008 at 11:21 am Leave a comment

        Under pressure…

        I recently decided to buy a pressure cooker. The idea of cooking dried legumes in minutes was very appealing, but the idea of an exploding pot of legumes, not so much. The pressure cooker had an element of danger, and a few loose parts (they are supposed to be loose). After reading the instruction booklet for a few minutes I had a basic idea of how to cook dried beans, and was reassured of the safety.


        I soaked 2/3 cup of black beans and 1/3 cup of kidney beans for 5 hours (soaking times vary for differnt beans). I also soaked 1/4 cup of wild rice separately at the same time. To test it out the first time I cooked the beans and rice first in the pressure cooker. I didn’t know if the 4qt pot could hold all the ingredients for my chili under the max-fill line. I found out the pot is really good as a 4qt pot on it’s own, the thick bottom really heats up fast and evenly. I sealed up the lid and watch the pressure build, and all the mechanisms pop up till finally the top knob started hissing and wobbling. After that it’s supposed to be only about 5min of cooking. You have to wait for the pressure to go down on its own or run it under cold water before the locking mechanisms release and you can open it.


        Vegetarian Chili

        • 28oz can of diced tomato
        • 1 cup of dried beans (any type, I used black beans and kidney beans)
        • 1/4 cup of wild rice
        • 1 cup water
        • 2 Portobello mushrooms
        • 4 shitake mushrooms
        • 1 medium onion
        • 1 poblano chili (or bell pepper)
        • 2 small green chilies of your choice
        • 2 cloves of garlic
        • 1/2  cup of chopped cilantro
        • 2 tbsp chili powder*
        • 1 1/2  tsp kosher salt
        • 3 tbsp olive oil

        Soak the beans and wild rice in a bowl of water that covers the beans by 1-2 inches for 1-4hrs, or go with canned beans and quick cook wild rice if not using a pressure cooker (and leave off the added water). Drain off the cloudy soaking liquid and rinse. This recipe cooks the beans in the chili, not separately.

        Dice the mushrooms and pepper into roughly ¾ inch chunks and the onions into ½ inch dice. Mince the garlic and green chilies.

        Heat the pressure cooker pot medium high; add oil then onion, garlic and chilies.

        Stir for a minute then add chili powder and salt. Continue to stir till everything is coated in chili powder. Next add the pepper then mushrooms, stir and heat thru.

        Then add in can of tomato, beans, wild rice and water. Making sure everything is below the max-fill line (you can cut back on the water), mix well then cover and seal the pressure cooker. Wait for the sealing, followed by hissing then it’s about 8-10min. After which you turn off the heat and wait for the pressure to dissipate (another 10-15min). If you find it too soupy, turn heat back on and simmer for a few more minutes while stirring. It should thicken up nicely. Lastly, chop up the cilantro and mix in before eating.

        I like the added textures of mushrooms and wild rice in a vegetarian chili, beans alone can seem monotonous. 

        *My chili mix usually has dried ancho, chipotle, and  cayenne peppers, along with cumin, coriander, oregano, garlic powder, and some other stuff I can’t remember.


        January 16, 2008 at 5:10 pm Leave a comment

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