Posts from the ‘Recipe’ Category

Cashew Nut Milk

For those of us who have an allergy or an intolerance to milk, eating or drinking many tasty creamy delights that normal people can have can prove difficult to consume, even with allergy and digestive pills. This means, no cheese, yogurt, ice cream, milkshakes, cheesecake,…. You get the idea. As more people are discovering their own digestive intolerance and allergies, more options are becoming available in grocery stores and restaurants. At the same time, recipes for dairy alternatives are being perfected with improved colors, flavors and textures. Thank goodness there are so many food enthusiasts excited about experimenting with ingredients! For instance, I have seen all sorts of non-dairy milk and cheese alternatives in stores and online, such as various cultured and non-cultured goodies made from hazelnuts, hemp seeds, coconuts, oats, rice, sweet potatoes, etc. The process of making special milk is pretty easy and is usually much cheaper and more environmentally friendly to make your own than buy it (processed with bonus additives) from the store, even if you buy organic ingredients. Making and drinking milk alternatives is so popular, the comedy television show, “Portlandia” (which is on Netflix right now), has even featured several hilarious spoof PSAs by the “Portland Milk Advisory Board” regarding different types of milk, including zucchini milk and berry seed milk (jam).

You can make the milks as thick or as concentrated as you like, although the methods depend on the ingredients used. Also depending on the nut and how you process it, like cashew milk can turn purple and pumpkin seed milk will turn green if they have their inner skins still attached. You can also flavor or sweeten them however you like. Some nuts, like almonds are naturally sweet, so they don’t require a lot of sugar. Others, however, may need a bit of help if they have a natural bitterness, like walnuts do. I like rice milk, but it’s very low in nutrients and is not raw (none of the store-bought milks are). Sweetened rice milk is fine and dandy for horchata, but I would rather make something with more protein and less sugar (I like to dilute restaurant-style horchata by half usually or at least wait until the ice melts, so I don’t feel like I’m drinking liquid candy). What I don’t want to do though is destroy the proteins in the nut milk by boiling water to concentrate it. I did read somewhere that milk concentration in a dehydrator is the preferred method to preserve the proteins and amino acids, but excess water can also be steamed off by simmering the milk in a pan over the stove, constantly stirring and frequently measuring the temperature to prevent the milk from reaching over 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

The method of making alternative milks is pretty much the same no matter what you use. From what I gather, the first step is to prepare the seed (grain, nut or otherwise) into an edible form. See my blog entry on preparing nuts and seeds. (If you are working with grains or root vegetables, you have to cook them first). Blend the nuts, seeds, etc. with water; I recommend a high speed blender, like my Vitamix. Generally you want a ratio between a one to two and a one to four parts of nuts to water. According to Sarma Melngailis in her book, “Living Raw Food,” if you do not have nuts, seeds or what-have-you to grind up with the water, you can mix the water with nut or seed butter instead; Amanda Mercer’s alternative recipe uses 1/16 or 1/48 to 1 parts ratio (for instance one tablespoon almond butter to one cup water for thick milk or one teaspoon nut butter to one cup water for thin milk). Strain the milk through a fine mesh, like cheese cloth or a special nut milk bag; I bought mine at the Santa Rosa Community Market. Some nut pulp can be blended and strained to make a couple more milk batches, depending on the desired flavor intensity and thickness.

At this point, you can sweeten the milk (with stevia, agave, honey or dates just to name a few); there’s a wide variety to choose from depending on what flavor profile you want. You can flavor the milk with alcohol-free extracts (vanilla or almond), spices (such as ginger, chai spices, pie spices, cinnamon or cacao nibs) or cooled infusions (like herbal tea). Adjust the richness of the milk if you like by adding oils or butters, like those of coconut.

Cashew Milk
Cashew milk is great not only for cereals and smoothies and other normal milk uses, but is also great in making desserts, sauces and cultured non-dairy cheeses. This milk has a pleasing rich creaminess from the natural oils contained in the nuts.

Yields 6 cups

Ingredients
2 C Prepared Cashews
6 C Filtered Water
1 Pinch Sea Salt

Directions
Process the nuts, salt and water until the nut meal is fine and the milk opaque; the nuts can’t be over-blended. Place the nut milk bag or filtering fabric over a large clean container, like spouted glass measuring cup. Strain the mixture through fabric into the container, making sure to carefully squeeze the pulp within the fabric to release more liquid but without letting the pulp squish through. (Cashews can grind down to a very fine meal, and silty cashew milk is an unwanted and unpleasant surprise. So be careful not to squeeze too hard.) Set the pulp aside.

Notes:
Store the milk in clean, sealed non-reactive jugs or jars in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
Reserve the pulp for another batch of milk soon, or dehydrate the almond meal to use later.
You can also freeze the milk into cubes to melt in hot tea or coffee or make into ice cream.

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Red-Label Curry no Ohji-Sama

I finally made S & B’s red box of Curry no Ohji-sama with chicken and mixed vegetables. It tasted so good! This variety is a Japanese sweet curry roux mix that was originally intended for children, but I don’t see why adults shouldn’t enjoy it, too. S & B also makes a blue-box version of this curry, too, which has a different flavor (from what I can tell based on the listed ingredients). What exactly the blue-labelled box mix is supposed to taste like is still a mystery to me, but it looks good. For more information, please read the sections I wrote on both varieties here  or here.

Thankfully, both flavors are gluten-free, as they include corn starch and white sorghum as thickeners in lieu of wheat. The directions call for the addition of meat, but you can substitute it with beans, tofu, nuts, seeds or whatever protein you prefer. The package instructions also call for potatoes and carrots (two sources of carbohydrates), which I felt were not inclusive enough. I didn’t just want to use a boring brown or yellow potatoes and a red onion (the sweet yellow and white cultivars carry less sulfur), and I decided not to serve the curry with rice but to add more colorful vegetables instead. I felt as though that the more colors I included, the healthier and tastier the meal would be, so my curry was a rainbow of yellows, orange, purple, red, whites and greens.

Each box comes with two curry roux blocks, enough to either make the curry twice or cook a double batch. The bricks are sealed individually, so you can cook one and save the other for later, preserving the flavor and moisture and preventing spoilage. As soon as I pealed back the wrapper on the roux, I knew I was in for a treat from the pleasant aromas and yellow curry color of the savory spices and slight sweetness of fruits and vegetables. I could already smell the wonderfully enticing scents of cumin, coriander and turmeric, and for some reason my mind went to cinnamon as a complimentary flavor. Maybe next time I should make a cinnamon infused dessert.

Cooking the Chicken & Vegetables

As usual, I made many of alterations to the recipe, but the dish turned out quite scrumptious, much to my delight and satisfaction. My husband liked it so much, he went back for seconds. He’s a pretty picky eater, so that’s certainly saying something. Please keep in mind that this is a sweet mild curry, so you may have to adjust the flavors to more of your liking; check out Sadie’s blog entry on the blue-box curry roux for some suggestions. Surprisingly with all of the extra meat and vegetables, the curry sauce was still rather thin in consistency. I used the same cooking techniques as described in the directions and decided not to add a thickener (like corn or arrowroot starch) on the first try, since the mix already contained some. Another option is to let some of the water evaporate rather than cooking the meat and vegetables so long with the cover on. Regardless of the outcome, the meal was a success and a learning experience.

Red-Label Curry no Ohji-Sama with Chicken & Mixed Vegetables
Adapted from the instructions on the back of the package
As stated above, this dish already includes enough carbohydrates, so do not serve this with a white rice. If you want to serve it along side or over something, I suggest something with fiber, for instance more vegetables (broccoli or cauliflower) or a seed-like “grain” (quinoa, millet or buckwheat) as a side.

Serves 6Curry no Ohji-Sama With Chicken & Vegetables

Ingredients
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Medium Yellow Sweet Onion, peeled, trimmed, coarsely chopped
1 Head Garlic, peeled, trimmed, coarsely chopped
2 Medium Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
2 Medium Carrots, trimmed, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
2 Purple Potatoes (any variety), coarsely chopped
1 – 2 Chioggia or Red Beets, trimmed, coarsely chopped
2 Stalks Celery, diagonally sliced into 1/2″ pieces
1 Broccoli Head and Stem, trimmed, coarsely chopped
2 C Baby or Dinosaur Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
2 C Carrot Greens, stemmed, optional
1/4 – 1/2 C Enoki Mushrooms, trimmed, left long or quartered
2 1/2 C Filtered Water
1/2 pkg Red Label Curry no Ohji-Sama Roux, finely chopped
Rice Wine Vinegar, optional
Sweet Paprika, to taste, optional

Directions
Saute the onions and garlic until the onions are soft and translucent in a large lightly oiled pan over medium heat (I used my Misto to spray on the olive oil). Mix in the carrots, beets and potatoes, stirring occasionally. Cook this mixture until the carrots are slightly soft.  Add the water, broccoli and celery. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the mixture for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables become tender. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the kale, greens and mushrooms. Fold in the curry roux, half at a time. Cover and return the pan to the heat. Simmer the curry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the roux is evenly distributed. Taste the dish, add more paprika (and or other spices) to taste. Serve the curry either on top of an accompanying vegetable in bowl. Be sure to ladle on some extra sauce if you like.

I served this dish along side a tossed green side salad drizzled with a tasty miso sesame dressing.

Cooking the Chicken & Vegetables

Red Lentil Curry

Red lentils

Red lentils (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So as you may be able to tell from my blog posts, I haven’t made lentils in quite a while and had actually never worked with red lentils before, just brown, yellow and green. Whenever I opened my cabinet, the red lentils stared at me, looking rather forlorn in their jar. I did however make a post a long while back about lentils, including preparation and recipes, and within it I had included a link to Ashley Adams’ Spicy Lentil Dahl recipe over in About.com in the “Dairy Free Cooking” section of the classic recipes. Her dahl really looked amazing, and I’ve been craving dahl for a while now. It was about time I made some, especially since I have everything I need to make such a delicious and rather inexpensive dish.

I have made some changes to her recipe, of course, but it all stirred up marvelously with a perfect blend of flavors and textures that left me quite sated. I can’t get over how well it turned out, especially as I thought some of the flavor combinations a bit odd for a curry. Surprise! Curry does just mean mixture after all. Feel free to boost the heat with chile peppers and  if you like; just make sure the spiciness doesn’t detract from the aromatics. Please keep in mind that I doubled the original recipe to make the dish more complex in flavor on purpose; feel free to simplify your own version as you see fit.

Rather than boring tomato paste, I decided to break out the jar of green zebra heirloom tomatoes that I had been saving. Surprisingly enough I bought them on clearance at Sur la Tabl and only found out recently that they were grown at relatively local in the San Francisco Bay Area by Balakian Farms, which is now a fourth generation Armenian family-owned organic business. Balakian Farms also sells their tomatoes online and at local farmers markets in Fairfax, Marin (at the Civic Center), Mill Valley and San Francisco (at the Ferry Plaza); check out their schedule on the website.

Red Lentil Curry
Despite the strong flavors, the dahl can accompany several different sides. I served mine with mixed vegetables, salad and quinoa.
Yields: 12+ Servings

Red Lentil Curry 1Ingredients
1 T Sesame Oil
1 T Garlic-Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Medium Sweet Yellow or White Onion, peeled, diced
2 C Scallions, trimmed, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
6 Cloves Garlic, peeled, minced
3 T fresh ginger, peeled, minced or grated
6 C Salt-Free Vegetable Broth
1 C Dried Red Lentils, sorted, rinsed
1 C Dried Split Pigeon Peas (Arhar or Toor Daal), sorted, rinsed*
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 – 3 tsp Cumin Seeds
2 – 3 tsp Coriander Seeds
4 – 6 Green or Black Cardamon Pods
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon Bark
2 tsp Ground Turmeric Root**
1/2 – 1 tsp Ground Cayenne Chili Pepper
1 16-oz Jar Balakain Farms Blended Organic Green Zebra Heirloom Tomatoes
Filtered Water, as necessary
3 tsp Sea Salt of Your Choice, to taste

Directions
In a large stock pot, saute the onions, garlic and ginger oil over medium heat until the yellow or white onion is translucent.

Grind the seeds together with a mortar and pestle. Remove the pod shells.

Stir the broth, lentils into the pot. Keeping an eye on the lentils, remove the starch foam as it comes to the broth’s surface. Once no more foam forms, mix in the ground spices except for the salt. Bring the dahl to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Once the lentils are tender, stir in the salt to taste, adding a teaspoon at a time. Stir in tomatoes. Adjust the flavors as needed. If necessary, add more water to achieve the desired consistency. Turn off the heat and let the curry cook on its own for a few minutes with the lid on to let the flavors meld a bit more.

Red Lentil Curry Close-UpServe hot with flat bread, such as naan, whole-wheat roti (chapati), paratha or (naturally gluten-free) pappadum.

*If you cannot find yellow lentils (not yellow split peas), you can double the amount of red ones.
**If you are substituting fresh peeled turmeric root for the dried ground turmeric, make sure to adjust the amounts accordingly.

Notes: For variety, you can also add in your favorite dark greens, such as carrot tops, chard, kale, collards, mustard greens or spinach. As this recipe makes big amount, I store mine in large mason jars in the coldest part of my refrigerator.

Patty Pan Squash

Petit pan (patty pan) squash

Patty pan squash, also called scallop squash and patisson, are cute little white, light yellow or green round squat variety of scallop summer squash that kind of remind me of flowers, since the edges look like petals. Here are a few methods of preparing the squash. You can also bake them after scooping out the centers and stuffing them, like in this recipe or this one. These squash are really healthy for you. They are low in calories, and high in fiber and vitamin C and have lots of folate, vitamins B6 and A, magnesium and potassium. I also read that patty pans are great for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as preventing certain cancers. Just like with many foods, make sure you don’t indulge in patty pans too often, since they contain a significant amount of oxalates, which can accumulate in you body and interfere with calcium absorption. For additional  information about scallop squash and their health benefits, please visit Live Strong’s webpage.

When I got home from the Cotati farmers market recently, I started planning what to make with all of my new veggies. I set some things aside for salads or other particular dishes, but there were some I wanted to cook with right away. The recipe that I listed below is a guide of sorts; you don’t have to use all of the spices if you don’t want to. I just created the dish as I went along, making rough measurements by sight and taste. If you are afraid of cooking without specific amounts, start by smelling and tasting the seasonings together to figure out scrumptious combinations; choose which spices and herbs you think will work best for what you are aiming to create. Just start in small increments. Sometimes I like to put a little bit of spices and herbs in mini prep bowls or the spice containers’ lids, carefully tapping or sprinkling in a bit at a time.

Mixed Late Summer Vegetable Saute with Seeds
Serves 4

Ingredients
5 T Chopped or Minced Garlic
1 Sweet Yellow Onion, coarsely chopped
4 Patty Pan Squash, trimmed, cut into bite-size pieces
4 Purple Potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1 C Collard Greens, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
1 C Russian Red or Green Curly Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
1 Bunch Carrot Greens, coarsely chopped, optional
1 Large Carrot, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Large Stalks Celery, diagonally sliced
1 Head Broccoli, coarsely chopped
1 – 2 C Green String Beans, trimmed, broken into bite-size pieces
1 Scallion, green parts only, cut into 2″ lengths
Cumin Seeds, ground
Himalayan Sea Salt, ground
OR Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt, optional
Smoked Hickory Flavoring (infused barley flour)
Fresh or Dried Thyme, stemmed, ground
Fresh or Dried Sage, stemmed, ground
Fresh or Dried Marjoram, stemmed, ground
Mixed Peppercorns, ground
1 C Filtered Water, as needed
Italian Seasoning, optional
Herbs de Provence Seasoning, optional
Poultry Seasoning, optional
Raw Hemp Seeds, sprouted, dehydrated
Raw Pumpkin Seeds, sprouted, dehydrated
Raw Sunflower Seeds, sprouted, dehydrated

Directions
In a large lightly oiled pan, saute the onions and garlic over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the onions become translucent (or caramelized, depending on your flavor preference), add the tubers; cook until the carrots become slightly tender. Add in the water to steam the vegetables.* Lower the temperature to a simmer. Mix in the squash, broccoli, beans, celery and spices. Cook with the cover on until the broccoli stems start to soften. Add the fresh herbs and greens, stirring occasionally. Cook until the carrots and broccoli stems are tender and the greens have wilted. Remove the pan from the heat completely. Transfer the seasoned vegetables to a large bowl. Stir the them together with a large spoon to cool and get rid of excess water (keep an eye on the general moisture to prevent the vegetables from drying out too much) until the vegetables are cool enough to pick up with your fingers. Fold in the seeds. Serve and enjoy.

*If you are using dried herbs, they need to be rehydrated. Let them sit in a cup of water for 20 minutes; this also infuses flavor into the water. Use this water to steam the vegetables by carefully straining it out into the pan, using a fork to prevent the herbs from going in to early. Add the rehydrated herbs when you mix in the fresh ones.

Local East Bay Tofu Companies

Bitter Sweet’s blog post about The Bridge Tofu factory reminds me of the organic tofu beanery in Berkeley, called Tofu Yu LLC, which has a catering and a store front with a deli counter that displays all sorts of tofu and tofu dishes. I keep meaning to visit. They also sell their products at several Bay Area farmers markets and organic grocery stores (visit their blog for a complete list and recipes), including the Santa Rosa Community Market and many Whole Foods.

In addition, there’s an organic tofu factory in Oakland, called Hodo Soy Beanery, where you can take a tour once a month for $12. Occasionally Hodo soy also has work shops, such as how to make tofu blocks. They sell their tofu at some Bay Area and LA area farmers markets, too, including at the Saturday San Francisco Ferry Building farmers market, and at Whole Foods. Make sure you check out their recipe section of their website as well as their blog.


It’s difficult for me to pick which beanery to visit, so maybe I’ll go see both of them! That way I can get a tour and see the deli, not to mention taste the different flavors and kinds of tofu dishes that the two companies have to offer. Earlier this year, I also noticed that there was a whole festival surrounding soy and tofu at the Japantown Peace Plaza in June, which I unfortunately missed, but I think I’ll try to attend it next year. It looks like it was really fun, with two taiko groups, a dessert competition, a lion dance troup and many other stage performance.

Chicken and Kelp Noodle Stir-Fry


I love stir-fry dishes and using my wok! I have a electric wok and wish I had a cast iron one. I also have at least two stir-fry cookbooks and actually got rid of several others during my spring pre-moving purge. These dishes are pretty much one-pot meals, which is marvelous, since this means there are fewer dishes to wash. Stir-fries are also usually less complicated, too. Woks aren’t just for cooking Chinese and Japanese dishes; you can cook all sorts of sautes in them from any style of cuisine.  Here’s a tasty looking stir-fry from Sea Tangle Noodle Company that uses kelp noodles.

Kelp Noodle Chicken Stir-Fry
Serves 6

Ingredients
2 – 4 T Chopped or Minced Garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cooking Spray
12 oz Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, diced
1/2 Yellow Onion, peeled, sliced
1/2 C Broccoli or Broccolini, trimmed, chopped
1 C Spinach Leaves, stemmed, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, cored, seeded, thinly sliced
1 pkg Plain or Green Tea Kelp Noodles, rinsed, cut into desired length
Nama Shoyu, Tamari or Liquid Aminos, to taste
Filtered Water, to taste
Vegetable or Chicken Stock, to taste
1/2 C Whole Raw Almonds or Cashews, soaked & dehydrated
Sea Salt, to taste
Mixed Peppercorns, fresh ground, to taste

Directions
Saute the garlic in a lightly oiled pan. Add in the chicken and vegetables. Saute them for about , occasionally stirring with a wooden or plastic spatula. Add the noodles and a few dashes of soy sauce, water and stock. Stir with a wooden or plastic spatula or spoon until the noodles and vegetables soften. Season the stir-fry with salt and pepper as you prefer. Remove the stir-fry from the heat. Fold in the nuts. Transfer it to a large serving bowl. Serve.

Tamari Wasabi Noodles


Usually I avoid green play-dough of death, my nickname for wasabi, like the plague. Wasabi is a rather spicy but flavorful Japanese radish, but I tried it out again yesterday and may have found a new liking for it in small doses. If you haven’t tried wasabi dressing, you should; I would use liquid amino and maybe a seasoned rice wine vinegar to make it.  Since kelp noodles really absorb any flavor you mix them with, they are a perfect ingredient to mix with wasabi dressing and vegetables. You can also add in some free-range chicken, fish or nuts if you’d like to add more protein or are looking for more variety.

Tamari Wasabi Noodles
I adapted this recipe from one that was printed on the back of the kelp noodle package so that we have actual quantities and not just a list of ingredients.
Serves 6

Ingredients
Marinade Sauce
1/4 C Tamari Soy Sauce or Liquid Aminos, to taste
1 – 2 T Chopped or Minced Garlic
1 – 2 T Turbinado Sugar, Sucanat or Blue Agave Nectar, to taste
1 tsp Wasabi Powder
Filtered Water
3 T Rice Vinegar, or to taste

Vegetables
1 pkg Kelp Noodles, rinsed, cut to desired length (about 4 C)
2 – 4 C Assorted Vegetables of Your Choice, prepared, thinly sliced
3 Scallions, trimmed, thinly sliced into ribbons

Garnish
Black Sesame Seeds, optional garnish
White Sesame Seeds, optional garnish
Hemp Seeds, optional garnish

Directions
Dilute the wasabi powder to your preference with water by mixing it into a paste. Set the wasabi paste aside for five minutes.

Mix the tamari, garlic, sugar, wasabi and vinegar into a dressing. Add this sauce to the noodles and vegetables. Toss together. Marinate the noodles and vegetables in the sauce for 20 to 30 minutes. Garnish the noodles on top, or mix the seeds into the noodles. Serve and enjoy.