Friday, November 24, 2006

Ben's wagamama inspired dish

Wagamama in Glasgow

While I don't miss the chaotic flight attendant life I lead for almost 2 years, I do however miss much of what the UK has to offer. If any of you ever go to the UK I can definately suggest a plethora of must-visit places to eat. Pret a manger, Itsu, Tiffinbites, MAOZ, and the list goes on and on. One of my favorite places to visit in the UK (they're everywhere in the UK!) was Wagamama's. Wagamama is an amazing take on Japanese cooking. They focus on flavours such as miso, coconut, ginger, lemongrass and lime... to name a few. I recently purchased a copy of the wagamama cookbook. While Wagamama isn't vegetarian at all; it does cater to vegetarians and vegans; many of their dishes are vegetarian, a few are vegan... and the waiters know how to veganise the vegetarian ones (usually swapping one noodle for another). Oh yea... it's really a noodle bar kinda place.

I was inspired today to create my own take on a wagamama dish. I didn't have a plethora of ingredients tonight but I saw how in this one recipe they stir fry the veggies in miso soup and that got the wheels turning. I wanted to try something where I'd rely more on steam and would end up with mostly veggies and a bit of miso broth; much like a red curry recipe for example. Anyway enough talking... here it is!

Ben's wagamama inspired recipe

1 cup water
1 tablespoon barley miso (or whatever miso)
1/4 of a Kabocha or buttercup squash, peel sliced off, cubed
1/3 block of extra firm tofu, cubed into 1" cubes
1 small red onions, cut into half rings
8 small to medium shitake mushrooms, some sliced, some quartered
1 cup small broccoli florets
10-16 sugar snap peas, whole
agave nectar
1 small carrot, thinly sliced into a ribbon with a mandolin

Place the water into a wok and turn on high/medium heat. When water starts to get hot, add miso and mix well to combine. Add onions, tofu and squash to form an even layer at the bottom of the wok. Add the mushrooms, sugar snap peas and broccoli on top of the first layer. Drizzle on a bit of agave. Cover the wok and allow to simmer. Check back every 5 minutes and give it a bit of a stir; try not to lose all the steam. When you start to notice that the squash starts to "mash" easily when poked with your spatula, it's time to serve the dish. Spoon into two bowls, being careful to leave the squash cubes intact. Evenly distribute liquid left over. Top with carrot ribbon. Easy schmeazy! Oil free and full of nutrients!

[Update: 11/27/2006] This recipe is very adaptable and I wanted to let you know I made the same recipe last night using different ingredients. Instead of red onions I used 1 tablespoon grated ginger. First layer consisted again of Kabocha squash and cubed tofu. Layer two was broccoli and baby bok choi (sliced). I added a third layer of chopped kale. Topped with agave nectar and this time a squirt or two of low sodium Tamari and followed the same directions. Also, check out Candi's blog where she tailored this recipe based on the ingredients she had around.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Easy chai vanilla mousse with chai almond nougat

Lazy Sundays call for lazy sunday desserts. I was kinda comatose all day and I managed to make some yummy sprouted sushi again. Very yum.

Not to sound like a lame infomercial or product endorsement but I love the bolthouse drinks. Love the "green goodness" when I haven't been eating alkaline; it's full of powerful alkalizing goodness. I also quite like the chai vanilla perfectly protein. It's packed full of soy protein, is naturally sweetened and it just tastes sooooo good I thought I could make a dessert out of it. Apparently it's possible!

Chai vanilla mousse with chai almond nougat

The mousse:
2 cups Bolthouse "perfectly protein"
1/2 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons agar agar (half a bar)

1/4 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon arrowroot

The nougat:
1/8 cup agave nectar
1/8 cup granular soy lecithin
1/8 cup perfectly protein

1 tablespoon chopped almonds
ground clove

Oil molds with almond oil or safflower oil. Add the perfectly protein, soy milk and agar agar (torn into pieces) to a saucepan on high/medium heat and stir occasionally. Now's a good time to start working on the nugat. When agar is fully dissolved, allow the mixture to reach a near boiling point. Make a slurry out of the soy milk and arrowroot and add it to the mixture. Stir for about 30 seconds until the mixture feels thicker. Pour into molds and put them in the fridge for about 2 hours before serving.

In a small GLASS bowl, add all the ingredients (except the spices) and almonds and mix together. Fill a larger bowl with boiling water and float the glass bowl in it while mixing the ingredients together. You may need to do this a few times to get the lecithin to melt. You may also need to pour boiling water over a metal spoon and using it to mix the ingredients together. Sprinkle on the spices into the mixture until it tastes right (I didn't measure the spices sorry). Fold in almonds.

Place the mousse dessert on a plate and top with nugat. And enjoy!

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In other random news: I bought a really cute lemon juicer and not only does it really work well but it's just so cleverly designed. I just thought I would share it with all of you.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Cinnamonny Apple Almond Pancakes

Yet another pancake recipe! I don't think this one will out-do the pumpkin pancake recipe I posted 2 weeks ago however they are quite yummy. The almonds, much to my surprise, were not detectable flavor-wise but I like how they add protein and alkalinize the meal. They taste really good with maple syrup; I wouldn't have them with any other sort of syrup though.

Cinnamonny Apple Almond Pancakes

½ cup almonds
1-2 teaspoons safflower oil + more for oiling
1 cup + ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup apple juice
¼ cup soy milk
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 Jonagold apple (or other good baking apple)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

In a blender, liquefy the almonds, safflower oil, apple juice and soy milk. Add the applesauce, agave nectar, cinnamon, and cardamom and blend well.

Quarter the apple and remove the seeds and the tough parts. Using a Japanese mandolin or a sharp knife, very thinly slice the apple quarters into half moon shapes. Roughly chop the half moons.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours and the baking powder. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and stir together until “just mixed”. Fold in the apple slices.

Lightly oil a non-stick pan with safflower oil and follow your usual pancake making technique. The trick to these is to make sure the bottom is thoroughly cooked and starting to brown darkly before flipping.

Vegan Pancakes Take Over the Universe!!! :)


Monday, November 13, 2006

More sushi madness!

So the apple diet is over. It wasn't so bad. The first day's always the hardest; you want to eat everything in sight. Day 2 and 3 are much more serene. I spent the rest of the weekend passed out. Totally comatose. I was hanging on to this "recipe" for a rainy day and today is it. But before I get to that... I got some cookbooks today!!!

I finally got my vegan cupcakes take over the world. I'm a bit disappointed to see everything is vegan margarine, veggie shortening and refined sugar filled. Oh well. I was kind of expecting that. I also got Vegan with a vengeance. I like pictures in my cookbooks (my favorite cookbook so far is "Love, Eric"... pictures of EVERY recipe!). I guess I'm a visual person. I've heard awesome things about VwoV so I'll have to flip through it later some more.

The best buy though was the one I had no expectations about: "Raw food, Real world". It's soooo awesome. Amazing looking food... the guy on the cover was really cute so I think that made me want to buy the cookbook even more... lucky for me there are tons of additional pictures of him throughout the cookbook... along with pictures of yummy food! This one's definately making my top 5 cookbook list!

Anyhow... On to the recipe!

No rice sushi... version 2

Alfalfa sprouts or Broccoli sprouts
Carrots, matchsticked
Cucumber, matchsticked
Ginger-Orange tofu (see previous sushi recipe)
Nori Sheets

(Any kind of veggie combinations you want! See previous sushi recipe for more ideas like sweet potato and marinated shitake mushrooms)

Lay the sprouts in a thin bed onto the nori sheets. Add the veggies and tofu and roll in typical veggie sushi fashion.

Tada! I making this and bringing it for lunch last week. Very yum!

Missed you all!

- Ben

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sesame crusted mushrooms

I guess it would be too long to call this recipe Sesame Crusted Mushrooms on Chayote noodle bed with shitake miso sauce but that's exactly what it is. Before I start on that I'll just rant for a bit. So I ordered my "Vegan cupcakes take over the world" cookbook along with two others and I was sooo close to getting it but then it got sent back to the warehouse. There was a problem with my address. This time I ordered it from Amazon and I hope there won't be a problem. I want to join in the vegan cupcake fun.

I'm also taking a blogging hyatus... but not a long one. Over the next 3 days I'll be doing "the apple diet". It's as exciting as it sounds. Pretty much just apples all day, lots of water and a few other tweaks as detailed in Dr Pagano's book.

Needless to say, I wanted my "last meal" before starting the apple diet tomorrow to be a good one! Danika picked me up a Chayote last week because she thought it was cute and lime green (my favorite color) and the ones they had at the store were a product of Costa Rica ( my favorite country ). I had no idea what it was and yea... this is what I came up with... I'm quite happy with the result. The fresh crispiness of the chayote is an amazing contrast to the woody flavors of the mushrooms. The Oyster mushrooms in this recipe are ORGASMIC.... hence the picture! :) I hope I don't get in trouble for that picture LOL.

I know a lot of my recipes look daunting but really... this took maybe 45 minutes to make.

Sesame Crusted Mushrooms on Chayote noodle bed with shitake miso sauce

2 chayotes, cut into 1" strips (japanese mandolins rock!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon grated ginger
juice of half a lemon

2 medium shitake mushrooms
3/4 cup soy milk + 1tsp apple cider vinegar (to sour the s'milk)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground dried sage
2 tablespoon soy milk
1 teaspoon arrowroot
1 teaspoon mugi miso (barley miso)

6 oyster mushrooms (whole)
8 cremini mushrooms (quartered)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoons tahini (sesame butter)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

In a wok, mix olive oil, agave nectar, ginger and lemon juice. Turn on high/medium heat and add chayote strips. Toss regularly until they're a bit softer. Hint: Start this first and check up on it every 1/2 minutes while you work on the sauce which is the next step.

In a small bowl, make a slurry with the 2 tablespoons of soy milk and the arrowroot. Cut the shitake mushrooms into strips. In a saucepan add olive oil, ginger and shitake mushrooms. Sprinkle sage and simmer on high/medium heat until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the sour soy milk tand mix regularly, pressing down on the mushrooms to release more juices until the soy milk mixture starts to simmer. Transfer the mixture to a blender and liquify for 30 to 60 seconds (mushrooms must be fully dissolved). Add miso and blend until well incorporated. Finally add the slurry to the mixture. Transfer the sauce back to the saucepan, mixing regularly until it starts to bubble. Remove from heat.

The Chayote should be ready by now. Place in a small seperate bowl. Rinse the wok and mix in sesame oil, agave nectar, white pepper, tamari and tahini. Place the oyster mushrooms face down onto the marinade. Wok should be on high/medium heat. Press down on the mushrooms and move them around regularly until a crust starts to form. Flip the mushrooms to the other side and wait until that side starts to get crispy. When they're ready, place them aside and add the cremini mushrooms into the wok (don't worry if there isn't any marinade left in your work by now; there's still traces and the cremini mushrooms will pick them up). Keep tossing the cremini mushrooms continuously until they are fully cooked; about 3 to 5 minutes.

To arrange: pool the sauce onto a plate and top with chayote "noodles". Create a hole in the nest of the 'noodles' so that the oyster mushrooms look as if they grew out of that nest. Add the cremini mushrooms along the sides.

Bon appetit!

PS: I'm working on a really kickass cake again... I will be posting it when I'm done my apple diet hell.
PPS: Okay so I couldn't leave you hanging without explaining the 'statue' in that picture. I got it in the Dominican republic. He normally is dressed with the barrel you see there... but when you take the barrel off... something SPRINGS up. Those cheeky Dominicans! :)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Devilishly yummy kabocha pumpkin pancakes

My sister and I work at the same travel agency/airline now so it means I get lots of rides home and Wednesday nights she sleeps over instead of doing the long drive back to my hometown and back the next morning. It also means I get to cook up breakfast. I still had half a Kabocha squash in my fridge that had no purpose in life. The poor thing looked downright dejected. This morning I found a purpose for it!

So regardless if Halloween is over, please allow me to dazzle you with yet another pumpkin recipe!

Devilishly yummy kabocha pumpkin pancakes

½ Kabocha Squash, cubed, peel taken off with a paring knife.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup Spelt flour (or just go for full on whole wheat if you don’t have spelt)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ - ½ teaspoon cardamom
¼ - ½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Place the cubed & peeled squash in a steamer for 20-25 minutes until really tender. When the squash is ready, mash it down into a measuring cup until you have 1 cup. Place it into a blender along with soy milk and maple syrup and blend on high speed for 30 seconds.

In a large bowl, sift together the whole wheat flour, spelt flour, baking powder and spices. Add the wet ingredients and mix well. Lightly oil a non stick frying pan with a bit of safflower oil and follow your usual pancake making technique.

These were sooo delicious topped with maple syrup! And quite quick to make once the squash was out of the steamer.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Cambodian Stuffed Butternut Squash

Cambodian Stuffed Butternut Squash

Okay it’s not really Cambodian but it’s not really Japanese or Indonesian so I decided to pick a random country in between cause this recipe is kind of an in between. This is honestly a recipe I pulled out of my ass after an hour of not knowing what to do with this squash that I’ve had for about 2 weeks now. I love butternut squash but I wanted to do something fun with it other than a soup… and yea… curries are not allowed on the Pagano diet. Sniff sniff. So Candi, if you’re too scared to buy another spaghetti squash, you could always try this recipe for Cambodian stuffed butternut squash!!

Cambodian Stuffed Butternut Squash

1 Butternut Squash, halved and deseeded
1/3 cup Orange Juice
1 tablespoon mugi miso (barley miso, any other bold miso will do fine)
1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
olive oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup broccoli florets
3-4 shitake mushrooms, sliced
½ tofu block

¼ cup wild rice (or whatever rice!)
1 ½ tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
1 teaspoon low sodium tamari or soy sauce
¼ cup almonds, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a small bowl, whisk together the miso, orange juice and agave nectar. Score the squash on the vertical and diagonals (refer to photo). Brush the marinade onto the squash several times. You can leave a small puddle in the “well” part of the squash. Lightly brush some olive oil onto the squash, place onto a cookie sheet cut side up and place in the oven for 40 minutes. Brush on more marinade every 10 to 15 minutes.

Place the rice in a steamer as per your steamer’s directions.

Use a small amount of the marinade to line a wok. Mix in sesame oil and heat on medium-high heat. Crumble the tofu into the wok, add the sliced mushrooms and broccoli florets. Cover for 5 minutes until broccoli is tender.

When the rice is ready, place it in a small bowl and mix in the agave nectar, tamari and almonds.

When the squash is ready, cut it in half lengthwise (almost all the way through, stop at the peel) and allow the squash to naturally create a “valley” as it separates. Spoon the tofu mixture into the “valley”. Top it with the sweet almond rice.


Quick note: Don’t get carried away! Butternut Squash peel is not edible! The good news is the edible part will come off very easily from the peel as you eat your way through this butternut squash mountain.