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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ruby Treasure Pockets

I've been really curious about bento lunches, I like the way the food is neatly arranged and portioned. I've not gone so far as to invest in bento boxes from Japan or making tiny flowers out of carrots, yet, but I have experimented with a couple of dishes that pack well into small containers for lunch. One of the easiest and tastiest are these little pockets of abura-age filled with rice and roasted beets. The beets turn the rice a gorgeous hue and look like little jewels. Christie supplied the lovely name for this dish.

The Stuff
  • 2 large pieces of abura-age (check out an Asian, preferably Japanese market for these, we get them at Uwajimaya)
  • 1 medium, red beet, peeled & diced into 1/2" cubes
  • 2 cups of cooked, short-grain brown rice
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar ("sushi" vinegar)
  • 1/2 T canola oil
  • salt/pepper
  • Furikake (to garnish, optional)
The Making

Pre-heat over to 375. Toss diced beet in canola oil and a little salt & pepper. Roast diced beet in oven until tender.

Add rice to a bowl and drizzle vinegar over. Stir vigorously, tossing the rice well in the vinegar and set aside to let rice absorb it. Once all the vinegar has been absorbed, add in the roasted beets and toss together to mix well. Rice will begin to take on a rich, red hue.

Slice the pieces of abura-age in half and carefully open up. Stuff rice, vinegar & beet mixture carefully, but firmly into the abura-age pouches. Sprinkle tops with your favorite furikake mix if desired.

Either serve immediately or pack into your bento lunch! The abura-age pouches make for a very neat way to enjoy the rice & beets. These even pack well for a hand-held snack while hiking!

The ruby beet pockets are at the top of this picture of a great, stir-fry medley we had a few weeks ago featuring broccoli/tofu/leek, the rest of the roasted beets not used for the rice pockets, and garlic/green beans.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chipotle 'Yummay' Sauce...

So everybody luvs teh Yumm(TM) sauce from Cafe Yumm down in Eugene. Unfortunately, it's pretty damn espensive, and as much as I believe in supporting local good companies, I support my "make yummy stuff myself and save teh dough" movement more. I was making a chipotle aioli, tweaked it by accident (added "too much" lemon juice) and suddenly went "Hey, this is Yumm Sauce(TM)!!"

  • ½ cup Vegenaise 
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard powder or 2 tsp yellow salad mustard
  • 1 tsp Smoky Chipotle Tabasco 
  • ½ tsp Smoky Chipotle chili powder 
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder 
  • 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast

Whisk together. Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Organics to You January 11, 2010

Today's New Year box from Organics to You contains:
  • Head of red lettuce
  • some broccoli
  • A bunch of rainbow carrots
  • 4 lovely, enormous yellow potatoes
  • 1 leek
  • green, curly kale
  • spinach
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 yellow onion
  • a pile of red potatoes
  • 3 Jazz apples
  • 4 Bosc pears
  • 4 Mandarins
  • 4 bananas
From last week the fridge still contains:
  • some red lettuce
  • some broccoli stems & two full crowns on stems
  • 3 carrots
  • spinach
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1/2 red beet
  • 3 Pinova apples
  • 6 red pears
  • 1 Bosc pear
  • 5 green pears
  • 2 green apples
  • 4 Fuji apples
  • 4 oranges
  • 1 Satsuma
  • 4 kiwis
  • celery
  • 2 leeks
  • 1/2 red onion
  • green, curly kale
The Compost Pail of Shame (what I didn't use and had to compost):
  • 2 satsumas
  • 1 orange
Wow, we have a lot of fruit in the house. Umm, still. Yeah, I'm thinking I need to bake some kind of apple/pear tart thing or Christie suggested a cobbler. That's got to be done, we're overrun with fruit! She's suggesting mashed potatoes again this week. I'm also thinking potato/leek/white bean/kale soup to use up some of this bounty. Christie has requested a quinoa/tempeh salad I've made, so that will show up again this week.

Last week saw some simple meals. Lots of steamed broccoli served simply with rice & grilled tofu. Split pea soup using up some celery & a potato (one of the huge ones). We ended up purchasing some collards since Christie wanted specifically to make them with BBQ black-eyed peas, which we served with quinoa. We also made a few lovely salads.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year's Extravaganza

Really, this post is all about the food porn. I will be writing up the miso udon soup as a recipe, but for now I will talk about New Year's Eve.

In Japan people eat a traditional meal to celebrate the new year, Osechi Ryori. It is generally involved, highly symbolic, and vegan unfriendly. Needless to say, I took this as a challenge and we headed off to Uwajimaya.

Udon is a big deal - there's a special kind that gets made for New Year's with extra, extra long noodles. It is a challenge to try and eat it without breaking the noodle (one long slurp). This represents things like longevity of life, luck, etc. The udon are served in a simple, dashi broth with a few veggies.

Since I'd recently made a quart of vegan dashi (hell, yeah) this was the easiest dish to make. We'd picked up some of Jorinji's amazing red miso (small batch, miso made in Portland) and Christie wanted to include it in the soup.

The result as an amazing miso udon soup. There's a scallion caramelized first, then the dashi added, a few small broccoli florets allowed to poach, the miso added (but never boiled). Udon cooked separately, rinsed, and added to bowls. Top with age (fried tofu, this with bits of sea vegetable & carrot in it) and then add several ladles of the broth & broccoli. Top this with furikake and a piece of baked mochi (thank goodness for the Internet with this stuff... we got it home and discovered that ALL the directions were in Japanese).


So delicious. I chomped a lot of noodles, more than I slurped, it was heavenly.

I did make a salad of carrot & daikon with a little seasoned rice vinegar added to it.

This was our first course of the evening. After enjoying this we moved onto the rest of the dishes for the night.

Next the burdock, a root vegetable that's been recommended to us before. I have always been a little intimidated by it for some reason, but decided to try.


Here you see me already doing the wrong thing - peeling it fully! Apparently I should have lightly scraped off any rootlets, dirt and left the rest. I tried out a fairly simple recipe I found, but the final result was a little gray (maybe the pan, still not sure). It was fibrous and fairly tasty.

Oseschi Ryori seems to have all kinds of little fish cakes. I decided that instead we'd have sushi. I made a mango/sauteed aspargus inside-out roll, cucumber & fried tofu roll, and a shiso & avocado roll. There was some big pieces of fried tofu that I used as pockets to make a kind of inari from the last of the rice, mango & asparagus.


Here I am, looking tired after all that cooking! I'm happy we stayed home.

Some extra mango slices with lime juice for dessert, daikon/carrot salad, burdock root, sushi, and some lovely Sayuri sake

Smoky Sun-Dried Tomato Cheese Spread

  • 1 lb cream cheese (Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese--Non-Hydro is what I use)
  • 2 tbsp port wine reduction*
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 7-8 oz sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (drained)
  • 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend well (2min minimum so as to finely mince the tomatoes.)  Refrigerate over-night for flavors to meld and spread to thicken.  For a dip instead of a spread, double the water to 1/2 cup, or until desired consistency is reached.

Port Reduction
  • 3 cups ruby port
  • 3 tbsp dehydrated onion flakes
  • 3 bay leaves
Bring to low boil uncovered.  Reduce down to 1/2 cup, siring frequently with a whisk (about 30min).  Strain.  With the back of a mixing spoon, press onions of liquid, and save for something else.

May be reduced even further once onions are removed to make a syrup.

Garlic & Chive Cheese Spread

  • 1.5 lb cream "cheese" ("Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese"--Non-Hydro is what I use)
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp powdered garlic
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • Fresh chives to taste (about 2g worth)
Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend on high to combine.  Refrigerate over-night for flavors to meld and spread to thicken.  For a dip instead of a spread, double the water to 1/2 cup, or until desired consistency is reached.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Organics to You January 4, 2010

Today's New Year box from Organics to You contains:
  • Head of red lettuce
  • a whole lot of broccoli (um, really? I'm thinking soup)
  • A bunch of rainbow carrots
  • bok choy
  • 4 lovely, enormous yellow potatoes
  • celery (good, nearly out)
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 red onion
  • green, curly kale
  • 4 Fuji apples
  • 3 green pears
  • 2 oranges
  • 4 kiwis
From last week the fridge still contains:
  • Head of green lettuce
  • broccoli
  • 2 carrots
  • spinach
  • more lovely, red potatoes
  • 2 red beets
  • 6 Pinova apples
  • 3 red pear
  • 2 bosc pears
  • 2 green pears
  • 5 oranges
  • 3 Satsumas
  • 1 Avocado
  • half a yellow onion
The Compost Pail of Shame (what I didn't use and had to compost):
  • 4 satsumas
  • some lettuce
  • a tomato
Wow, we have a lot of fruit in the house. Today I mindfully ate an orange and Christie mindfully picked an apple for a snack. I'm thinking I may need to bake with the apples & pears, make a compote or something. We have more than we can eat!

Last week we made a huge Japanese feast for New Year's Eve and Day. Sushi, braised burdock, udon miso soup, grilled asparagus, daikon (both from Uwajimaya) & carrot salad and mochi. It was pretty fabulous, but we were really only using up the broccoli (of which we still have some remaining) and an avocado. We also had a couple of mangoes as a New Year treat, which meant even less fruit in the house consumed. One dish I made used only veggies from the box last week - a roasted potato, tempeh & broccoli hash.

The bok choy went immediately into a sweet & sour stir fry tonight with the carrots from last week & some of the leftover onion. I probably should have made something using the avocado since it is ripe, but we'll have it tomorrow.

We need to do a lot of cooking this week. One night we won't use as much as Christie is planning on making barbecue black-eyed peas & collards (from New Seasons). However, the rest of the week is going to see a lot of salads & veggies! Maybe a garbanzo stew, it has been a while since I've made one. We have been asked to make some vegan treats for the 12-hour Chant for Peace on Saturday, maybe I'll do some kind of pear/apple thing to go with the cupcakes I'm planning.