Hot and sour tofu with rhubarb

In the United States and Europe, rhubarb is known as the pie plant and in fact we tend to use it in sweet dishes. However, in Asia, it is more used in savory main dishes. Today, I’m presenting a savory dish that was inspired by the following blogs: ( blog 1 and blog 2). The rhubarb gives the sour taste that is balanced out nicely with the sweet and hot Chinese sauce and the bitter bamboo shoots. I chose broccoli as the main vegetable for the dish. Traditionally, pork is used but is replaced here with the tofu. In the original recipe, the raw rhubarb is blended in the sauce but I made it more traditionally sautéed like the rest of the vegetables.

For the meat version of this dish, please, see this recipe.

Recipe


Serves: 4 people  

Ingredients

  • 500g tofu
  • 2 tsp + 3 Tbsp honey (or replace with agaste sauce for a vegan option)
  • 1/4 tsp five spice
  • chili flakes to taste
  • Sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp sake
  • 3 Tbsp rice wine
  • 3 Tbsp graded ginger
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 large cloves garlic
  • 200g of rhubarb stalks (about 3 smaller or 2 bigger stalks)
  • 2 large heads of broccoli
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 can (8oz/225g) of bamboo shoots, drained
  • handful of penuts, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • lime
  • cilantro
  • rice or rice noodles

Ingredients listed as used in groups

Rice or rice noodles

Marinade/tofu: 2 tsp honey, 1/4 tsp five spice powder, 1/4 tsp red chilli pepper flakes (optional), 1 Tbsp seasame oil, 3 Tbsp rice vinegar, 3 Tbsp sake, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 500 g tofu.

The sauce: 5 cloves garlic, 3 Tbsp honey, 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp ginger, 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes (or to taste).

Vegetables: 200g (3 medium sized) rhubarb stalks, 1 large onion, 2 heads of broccoli, 1 can of bamboo shoots.

Toppings: handful of chopped peanuts, 4 scallions, small handfull coriander, soy sauce and limes.


Directions

  • The rice.  Make the rice of your choice. I used sushi rice.
  • Cut up the tofu so it is about 1 cm / 1/2 inch thick. I made triangular shapes but rectangular or square shapes are fine too.
  • Mix the ingredients of the marinade in a small bowl and pour it all over the tofu. Cover and put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  • Make the sauce. Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix to get a nice sauce. Set aside.
  • Take tofu/marinade out of the fridge and strain off marinade. Pat dry tofu with a towel. Sautee tofu slices in small amount of oil for about 5 minutes on each side. Cover and set aside.
  • Cut up the vegetables. Thinly slice the onions, cut up the broccoli flowers. Cut rhubarb diagonally in 2-3 inches length. If stalks are bigger, cut them in half first.
  • In a larger pan or wok, heat seasame oil, add rhubarb batons in a single layer and cook for abot 1-2 minutes while stiring to make sure all sides cook well. Make sure you don’t over cook rhubarb, they should be firm and not mushy. Add 1 Tbsp sugar and cook for 1 minute. Take off heat and set aside.
  • On medium high heat, sauté the sliced onion for about 10 minutes until translucent. Add the brocololi and continue sautéing on medium high heat for about 5 minutes or until it is soft but still crunchy. Add the sauce made earlier. (Quickly whisk, then pour it into the pan). Add the rhubarb (that was set aside from earlier step) and the bamboo shoots and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for three or four minutes. Add the tofu and toss and coat well and cook until the fofu is warm.
  • Serve on rice with chopped cashew nuts, chopped scallions, cilantro, lime wedges and soy sauce.

enjoy!

Sources

http://www.mostlyeating.com/ tofu with hot and sour sauce

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/35104325/posts/55143

Photo, recipe and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Chana masala (Indian chickpea dish)

Chana masala is a delicious Indian dish that would be great for the spring. I still vividly remember the first time I had chana masala at a friend’s house. He had us over for dinner when his parents came to visit like 25 years ago. I did not even recognize the chickpeas … I actually thought they were chestnuts. I never got the recipe but his mother gave me some tips. (Thanks to the internet I found this recipe on line and I think it is very close to what we had that night).

Chana means garbanzo beans and is the main ingredient in the dish. IMO it is crucial to prepare these beans properly. I remember our friend’s mother told me to cook the beans for a long time. They should be cooked for 3 hours or you can use a pressure cooker according to its instructions, of course. Cooking for this long will soften the beans and let the flavors come out. So if time is not an issue, I would recommend home cooked chickpeas instead of using the canned ones. The canned beans will not have the same results for sure.

Garam masala is the main spice in the dish. It is not just one spice but is actually a cleverly chosen mixture of a few spices: fennel seeds, star anise, mace, black cardamom. It is nicely balanced so one flavor will not overwhelm the dish. You can blend it yourself or you can just buy it. (I ended up buying it at the store).

This is a common dish that people in India make on a regular basis for lunch or dinner. It has an interesting flavor, taste and texture. It can be made less spicy, if you don’t like spicy dishes, just leave out the green chili. So chana masala is basically a chickpea curry cooked in an onion tomato sauce with the spices. I always wonder how poor people in India get by on very little money and still eat well. This dish might be one of their secrets …

RECIPE

-I doubled the recipe

serves 3-4 people

  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas or 1 (15oz) can
  • 3 cups of water

Ingredients for the tomato sauce

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil/ghee
  • 2 large onions, finally chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger piece, finally chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 TBSP of red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste

Ingredients for the chana masala gravy

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick (If you double up the recipe, you will not need to add another cinnamon stick)
  • 2-3 clove pieces
  • 3 green cardamom pods without the shells.
  • 1 green chili pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 pinch mango powder (amchur) (optional)
  • fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • coriander leaves

Directions

Clean and soak the chickpeas for at least 8 hours. Pour off soaking liquid. Add fresh cold water and cook for 3 hours. Less for pressure cooker. Save cooking liquid.

Directions for the tomato sauce

  • Sauté the onions in oil or ghee until golden. Add the chopped ginger for 1 minute, stir.
  • Add red chili powder and turmeric. Stir for 1 minute. Add garlic quickly, stir.
  • Quickly add chopped tomatoes and little salt, stir. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until there is a nice sauce. The onions should not taste raw.
  • Let this mixture cool. Add 1 tbsp liquid from the beans. Make a thick gravy with a blender.

Directions for the Chana masala gravy

  • Dry heat the spices (cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cardamom, clove) in a pot for 1 minute until you can smell the aroma of the spices. Stir. I grind the cardamom as some people don’t like them in their foods whole.
  • Pour the blended tomato sauce mixture from the previous step back into the pot, the chopped green chili pepper, coriander and garam masala powders and the spices from the previous step.
  • Mix and cook for a few minutes until ingredients are mixed nicely.
  • Add the cooked chickpeas and the cooking water. You might have to add more water.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  • Taste the mixture and see if you need more garam masala. Boil and simmer for 2 more minutes if spices were added.
  • Take out the larger spices like bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves.
  • I also added salt here.
  • Keep it covered until served.
  • Serve hot with cilantro, yoghurt, lemon, rice, vegetables and roti.

enjoy!

Source

https://www.indianhealthyrecipes.com/chana-masala/

Moroccan eggplant stew with garbanzo beans

Enjoy this delicious and easy vegetarian eggplant dish. The eggplants are browned and cooked briskly with some tomatoes, pungent spices, onions and garbanzo beans and then served with rice/couscous and yoghurt sauce. It is not exactly the perfect fall dish but I still had some eggplants and the weather is still more summery this week. I also added sweet mama squash that complemented the dish nicely and made it more suitable for this ‘going from the summer into the fall’ time period. With the warming spices and the baked squash, it will be a great meal for the entire week. Not only that it suits the weather but it is delicious … honestly my family can’t get enough of it. I might have to go back to the farmers’ market tomorrow to get more eggplants.

RECIPE

Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp graded fresh ginger
  • seasoning: 2 tsp paprika, 1 cumin powder, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1 cinnamon stick,
  • pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 large tomatoes or 2 cups canned tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup dried garbanzo beans or 1 can
  • 1 dried hot pepper or to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • couscous or rice to serve
  • cilantro

Browning the eggplants
Browning the onions.

Directions

  • Garbanzo beans. Soak overnight and cook them for 3 hours. You can use a pressure cooker. They need to be cooked slowly for a long time until they are nice and soft. They can take up liquid after they are cooked so add more water if needed. Add 1 tsp salt when done.
  • Preparing the eggplants. Wash and cut eggplants into cubes. Salt them and put them into a colander for 15 minutes to let the liquid drain.
  • Frying the eggplants. In a wide skillet, on medium low heat, slowly brown the eggplants in some olive oil for about 20- 30 minutes or until soft. They will not cook any more so make sure they are soft and well cooked before you add it to the sauce. Stir frequently. Make sure they don’t burn.
  • Caramelize the onions. Brown the sliced onions in a separate dish in oil with care, it takes about 30 minutes. Stir frequently.
  • Making the sauce. Crumple the saffron between your thumb and index finger and add hot liquid, stir well (optional). Set aside. On medium high heat warm up 1 Tbsp oil and add the ginger for 5 minutes. Then add the paprika, cumin, garlic and stir for 1 minute to activate the spices. Add the chopped tomatoes and the tomato paste and stir well. You can add a little water here too. Cook the tomatoes for about 5 minutes until they have become ‘saucy’. Add the saffron, cinnamon stick, freshly graded nutmeg and hot pepper. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat. Cook for 10 minutes on low medium heat. Add a little water if needed. Add the browned onions, eggplants and garbanzo beans. Cook for 5 more minutes covered. Let the dish sit for 15 minutes so the flavors can come together. Take out the cinnamon stick and the hot pepper pieces. Add salt and pepper or anything else that needs to be adjusted.
  • Serve with cilantro, rice or couscous and yoghurt sauce. I also added some baked sweet mama squash slivers and they nicely complemented each other.

enjoy!

Recipe, photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Butternut squash soup with a Midwestern flare

Warm up to the fall with this delicious squash soup. My recipe is made with a little Midwestern twist. I added wild rice, a Midwestern staple but it can be served with some hearty bread instead. I enjoy squashes in all shapes and forms. Many of us think of squash when we hear the word fall cooking so I will start off my fall recipe collection with a squash dish.

As the fall season is arriving, I feel like a little squirrel trying to get ready for the colder months: eating the great variety of fruits and vegetables, storing up foods, making last minute repairs and just mentally getting ready. By now we are aware that summer is gone and a new season is coming with all its beauty and challenges. It was the Autumnal Equinox a couple of days ago, when the days and nights are equal and from now on the days are going to get shorter and colder as well.

The warming sweet butternut squash is simmered with the white onion, garlic, potatoes and is balanced with the bitter celery root and the lovely pungent spices. At the end, it is topped with cream and the sweet almond slivers for a bit of crunchiness.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized butternut squash- about 3 lbs
  • 1 medium sized Russet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 finally chopped large onion, white is the best
  • vegetable oil (sunflower)
  • 2 slices of smoked bacon (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, about 1 inch long
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 1 smaller celery root, peeled and chopped up into 4 pieces
  • stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 thyme spring
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • red hot pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of almond slivers
  • 1 cup of uncooked wild rice or rye bread to serve

Directions

Preparing the squash. Peel and cut squash lengthwise, take out the seeds. Cut them into cubes. Warm up some oil on medium high heat and brown the cubes for a good 10-15 minutes.

Make the soup base. Have 1/2 cup of cold water ready. Warm up the oil. Sauté the onion, and the bacon(optional). When translucent and you can smell the aroma of the the onions and the bacon, add the chopped ginger for a few minutes, stir. Add the crushed garlic and 1 tsp paprika, stir for 30 seconds to activate. Add the little cold water that you had set aside earlier, stir.

Put the browned squash, potatoes, thyme spring, the freshly ground nutmeg and the celery root in the pot. Add the stock, enough to cover by about 1 inch above everything and cook for 30 minutes.

Cooking the wild rice (optional). Cook 1 cup of wild rice with 3 cups of water, partially covered for about 20 minutes or until the rice is soft and crunchy.

Roast the almond slivers. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a baking sheet and spread the almond pieces evenly on the sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn it. Serve on top of the soup.

When ready, let the soup cool for about 10-20 minutes. Add the cream and black pepper. Stir.

If you want the soup to be a little chunky, set aside about 20% of the cooked squash pieces. Use a hand held blender and puree the rest of the soup. Make sure you blend the celery chunks. Transfer the whole pieces back to the rest of the pureed soup. (If you prefer a smooth soup, just puree everything).

Check to see if more salt, black pepper, red hot pepper are needed.

Serve with wild rice/bread and the almond slivers.

enjoy!

Recipe, photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Spaghetti squash stew (tökfözelék)

Some like it white, some like it red … others use flour, some others don’t … and could be served hot or cold …  Well, I like it red with flour and served hot. This is one of my favorite recipes and I believe this dish would make a nice transition into the late summer days as well.

We are coming to the end of the hot summer season and entering the cooler fall season. This transition is considered to be a short season and has been recognized by many different cultures. In the United States, it is called Indian summer, in China, the Earth season and in Hungary, old women’s summer (vénasszonyok nyara). Seasonal transitions are important to be aware of as they can be challenging on our body. It is worth to pay attention to, especially if you are prone to problems now like having excessive mucus, digestive problems, feeling of heaviness/edema, tiredness, metabolic problems, low self esteem or craving sweets.

This dish is based on the Hungarian tökfözelék recipe. The sweet spaghetti squash definitely is the main ingredient. It is growing right now and I believe is perfect for the end of the summer. The other important ingredient that everybody uses regardless of other preferences is dill. Dill is a unique sweet plant that gives the zesty, tangy flavor with slightly bitter undertones. It helps digestion and calms the mind. I like to balance the sweet flavor with pungent flavors, in this case, the onions and the garlic will do that. Of course we also have the sour, acidic flavor from the vinegar and the Hungarian staple, sour cream. At the end, we add the salt to create this pleasant sweet and sour dish.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • vegetable oil (sunflower)
  • 1 larger onion, chopped, or graded
  • 1 Tbsp of flour
  • 1 tsp of sweet Hungarian paprika powder
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cold water
  • 1 smaller spaghetti squash (about 1 lb) (Not exactly what we use in Hungary but it is a perfect substitute).
  • water or meat stock
  • 4 dill springs, (about a hand-full)
  • sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 red pepper flalkes

Preparation

chopped dill

Using the large hole grater
grated squash

  • Prepare the spaghetti squash. Peel, and grate through the larger holes of your cheese grater.
  • Optional: Soak in 2 tsp salt for 20 minutes. Squeeze water out. This step will make the squash less watery.
  • Chop the onion fine or you can grate too.
  • Have a 1/2 cup of cold water ready.
  • Sauté the onion with a pinch of salt in a little oil until soft but not brown. When you can smell the aroma of the onion, add paprika powder and garlic, stir and after 30 second add the cold water quickly that you set aside earlier. Stir.
  • Cook the onion for 15 minutes.
  • Add the squash meat, stir in and cover with water or meat stock.
  • Bring to a boil and then turn down to medium heat and cook covered for 10-15 minutes.
  • Chop dill, only the leaves though, discard the stem. Add the dill to the pot.
  • Also mix 1 Tbsp of flour with cold little water and add a little hot liquid from the dish. Whisk well and add it to the dish.
  • Bring the dish to a quick boil, cook for a few minutes and turn heat off.
  • Add vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir. Take off heat.
  • Let the dish cool and but at least for 6 hours so the flavors can settle.
  • Serve with a dab of sour cream and some protein (egg or beef dishes would go well). I also serve mashed potatoes.
  • I served it with my Eggplant Parmesan dish. The bitter eggplants complemented this sweet and sour dish nicely.

Enjoy! Jó étvágyat!

Text, photos, recipe by twincitiesherbs.com

Sorrel and nettle stew (Sóska és csalán fözelék)

Every year, I look forward to spring just so I can make this dish. The main ingredients are sorrel and nettle. The sorrel gives a really nice, pleasant lemony flavor and the nettles add the substance, texture and protein to the dish. It is a simple recipe to make, the hardest part is really to find the sorrel and the nettles. Our ancestors regularly ate them in the spring but today unfortunatelly they are seldom available in stores. My recipe is based on the Hungarian sorrel stew recipe (sóska fözelék) with the addition of the nettles. Years ago, I could not find any recipes that had nettles so I decided to experiment. In my opinion, the results are fantastic.

Before I post the recipe, I would like to talk about nettles and sorrel. Nettle is like the super food of the US and Europe. When I think of Nettles, two things come to my mind: nutritive tonic and the kidneys. It is very high in protein, vitamins, and minerals and makes a nutritious food for sure. Just to demonstrate its high protein content, Nettles have 40-45 grams of protein compared to beef that has 20 grams. It is rich in iron, silica and potassium. It also supplies vital energy to the kidneys that can be helpful for everybody but especially during pregnancy, menopausal years and old age. In general, it is safe to include in the diet and should be consumed during the spring months. Just make sure you get the leaves before the plants start flowering.

With its sharp, tangy taste, sorrel adds zest to dishes. However, it is not just added for its flavor but it is also a nutritious goodness. Sorrel is a green leafy vegetable with calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, vitamin C and a fair amount of fiber. Polyphenolic acid, flavonoids, anthocyanins are the beneficial organic compounds in sorrel. No wonder our ancestors frequently included it in their diet. It aids digestion, improves energy and circulation, boosts immunity, heart and vascular health, improves kidney health, builds strong bones, improves eye sight, and one’s overall functional health.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of washed sorrel or you can use spinach too but the dish will taste differently.
  • 1/4-1/2 lb of washed nettles (the nettles should be fresh and stingy but they will not hurt your mouth after you cook them).
  • vegetable oil (I like sunflower)
  • 2 strips of longer bacon (optional)
  • 1 onion finally chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp of sweet Hungarian paprika (powder)
  • about 1/2 cup of water, vegetable or meat stock (preferably home-made)
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • freshly ground pepper

PREPARATION

  • Saute the onions in some oil until translucent and can smell the wonderful aroma of the onion.
  • If desired add bacon and fry until crisp.
  • Keeping the oil warm add the paprika and the garlic, mix for 30 seconds and add cold water or stock.
  • Add sorrel and nettles.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Turn the heat down and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes.
  • When done, take off heat and let the dish cool off.
  • Chop the vegetables in a food processor. Here you are trying to create a sauce with a little texture.
  • Add salt and sour cream, black pepper.
  • Serve on mashed potatoes along with fried eggs or hard boiled eggs.

enjoy! Jó étvágyat!

Sources

Kitchari recipe

Kitchari! A nourishing vegetarian dish to make in the winter or the summer … whenever you are looking for something easy to digest.

Now that the holidays are over, our bodies want to have a little break from all the rich, heavy foods. However, spring isn’t here yet so we can’t eat all the lovely liver cleansing vegetables. In fact, spring is nowhere in site, just the past week it was -50F here in the Midwest. Even if the prediction of the groundhog is correct, spring won’t start until April here. Many people start dieting, removing nourishing foods from their diet but most fail because it is just too early.  So what can we do?  

I like to turn to the ancient Ayurveda cooking, in other words Indian cuisine! Most people associate Indian foods with something exotic. Yes, some of their dishes can be foreign to us, but their nourishing dish, the Kitchari can be made any time, anywhere and surely by anybody.  Really, Indians make it on a regular basis, serve it during holidays with the rich foods to help digestion and even give it to sick people to recover from an illness. It is an inexpensive dish that millions eat on a daily basis. I asked my Ayurveda teacher if we could eat it during the cold season. She said yes even when it is -50F – just add the warming spices like ginger, cumin, and hot pepper. You can serve local vegetables like carrots, spinach, kale, potatoes, cauliflower, onions etc. Of course, it would go nicely with some Indian rice and roti. 

This is a very healthy dish. Usually, Ayurveda practitioners advice their clients to eat kitchari if they have any acute or chronic issues. It just does amazing things… The three spices turmeric, cumin, coriander are used along with the moong beans. The kitchari diet should last for 1 week when one is only allowed to eat kitchari, rice, grains and vegetables. Of course all the fried foods, fried vegetables, paneer have to be left out. Moong beans are used but if you can get the yellow split moong beans, they are even better as they are easier to digest.

Recipe

Kitchari ingredients

  • 2 tsp of ghee (I use home-made)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 cup of split moong dal (yellow) – soak for at least 4 hours
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp of whole cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp rock salt
  • about 4 cups of water or chicken stock
  • 1 inch of fresh minced ginger root
  • black pepper
  • cilantro to taste
  • yoghurt
  • lemon

Preparation

Indian rice ingredients

  • 1 cups of white Basmati rice
  • 2 cups of water or meat stock
  • 2 tsp ghee (homemade the best)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • little piece of cinnamon
  • pinch of  saffron (8-10 strings)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • raisins
  • ¼ tsp little turmeric

Preperation

  • Clean and soak mung beans overnight but at least for 2 hours. Pour off water and use fresh cold water to cook the beans for 1-1.5 hour.
  • Making the gravy. Saute the onions on medium high heat.
  • When you smell the nice aroma add the ginger, cumin seeds stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the powders (turmeric, cumin, coriander), stir. Add garlic, stir.
  • Add cold stock, stir.
  • Add 1 chopped tomato and cook for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes saucy.
  • Add chopped carrots. Indians add the rice here.
  • Bring to a boil, turn down and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Add in the cooked moong beans and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Prepare the rice.
  • Serve with rice, cilantro and lemon.

Indians cook the dish with the rice. I personally like to serve the rice on the side and prepare separate.

Enjoy!