Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Roasted Baby Potatoes with Mustard & Coriander

There is a 13 acre apricot orchard located about a mile from my house and every March there is a Mustard Festival where people are invited to come and harvest the mustard plants that are grown amongst the trees.  When the flowers are in full bloom, it is really beautiful and makes me think of Napa Valley and all the vineyards planted with mustard.  The reason why vineyards and orchards plant mustard is to keep the weeds under control, but also to help stimulate the soil for the upcoming growing season.  And of course because it's beautiful!

I love visiting produce farms, orchards, vineyards and farmers markets, learning how plants and produce grow.  When we purchase food in the grocery store, it is so prepped and over processed that half the time we have no idea what it looked like in its natural form.  I mean who would of thought that this beautiful flowering weed could produce thousands of tiny pungent seeds used in cuisines all over the world, and end up in a jar in the spice section.  Pretty amazing actually.

Spring has finally arrived and all the mustard seeds have been harvested and so I decided to make Roasted Baby Potatoes with Mustard and Coriander.  This dish uses just about every form of mustard, except of course, yellow table mustard.  I served these potatoes with a Chickpea Curry, but you could also serve these as a side dish with your favorite vegan burger, topped with a spicy curry-mango aioli.  Sounds yummy!


2 lbs baby white, Yukon gold or fingerling potatoes, quartered
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp mustard oil (optional), found in Indian markets
2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds, coarsely ground in a spice grinder
1 tsp tumeric powder
1/2 small fresh, hot green chili, very finely minced
2 cups mustard greens, leafs only, rinsed, dried and torn into bite size pieces
1 tsp kosher salt (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Rinse potatoes and pat dry.  Cut into quarters or in half if small.
  • In a bowl, toss potatoes with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Roast potatoes in the oven for 10 minutes, toss with a spatula and return to the oven for another 10 minutes or so until crispy and golden brown.
  • While the potatoes are roasting, in a saute pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and the mustard oil on medium heat, add spices and cook just until spices are fragrant and starting to sizzle.
  • Add mustard greens and heat just until slightly wilted, then remove pan from heat.
  • Remove the potatoes from the oven and place in a large bowl and immediately add spices and toss until combined.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with remaining olive oil and cilantro.

Chickpea Curry with English Peas

A lot of people think that preparing Indian food is very time consuming and very costly.  Neither is true.  This chickpea curry probably took me 45 minutes from start to finish and that included only 10-15 minutes of actual prep assembling the ingredients.  The remainder of the time is for simmering on the stove to develop flavors.  Spices can be costly if you purchase them at a large chain grocery store, but if you have access to an Indian grocer or Middle Eastern market you can save a lot of money, and if stored properly will keep for up to a year.  I use a lot of spices in my cooking, but you can make this same dish, using only one spice (Madras Curry Powder) and it will come out just as delicious.

There are techniques used in Indian cooking for layering and building fry the whole spices first, then add your paste mixture, which can consist of pureed onion, garlic, ginger and chilies, then you add the powdered spices, then your liquid ingredients, pulses and so on.  But if you have all of your ingredients ready to go, this takes no time at all.   I served this with Roasted Baby Potatoes with Mustard and Coriander, but it would also go well with brown basmati rice or any Indian flatbread such as, chapatis or rotis.  Just make sure that if you purchase the flatbread that you check to see if it contains any butter/ghee.  But if you make the flatbread yourself, which I usually do, then you can substitute canola oil, or leave the fat out entirely.


1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp mustard seeds (yellow or black)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp minced or grated ginger root
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp red chili powder or to taste
1 tsp tumeric powder
3/4 tsp salt (less or more depending on taste)
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, pureed in a food processor or blender
2 cups filtered water
1/4 cup light coconut milk
1 tsp garam masala
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup English peas (frozen)
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

  • If using dried chickpeas, soak overnight, and cook until tender, set aside.  If using canned, rinse really well before using.
  • In a 3 qt sauce pan, heat canola oil on medium-low and add mustard seeds and fry just until they start popping, about 30 seconds.
  • Next add the finely minced onion and cook until soft, about five minutes.
  • Once the onions are soft, add the minced garlic and ginger and cook for another two minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Add all the remaining dry spices and stir until combined.
  • Add the tomatoes and water and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes for the flavors to blend and the sauce to thicken.
  • Add coconut milk, chickpeas, and English peas and heat through.
  • Adjust seasoning if necessary and garnish with cilantro.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tabbouleh Salad with Tahini Mint Sauce

Tabbouleh salad is one of my favorite salads and is incredibly healthy too!  Because the salad contains large amounts of parsley it is loaded with anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals.  And with the addition of chickpeas it is a good source of protein and fiber.  I eat Tabbouleh salad just about every day for lunch...whether I make it myself or purchase it from Whole Foods Market, I just can't get enough of it!  I like to serve it as a side dish with falafels, hummus and whole wheat pita bread or lavash.

Salad Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups finely chopped parsley (rinse really well and dry in a salad spinner or paper towels before chopping)
1 1/2 cups cooked bulgur wheat
1/2 cup finely diced English cucumber with skin
1/2 cup seeded, finely diced tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped mint (rinse and dry really well)
1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained and dried
Juice from two lemons
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • Bring a cup of water to boil, place the bulgur in a bowl and cover with water.  The water should cover the bulgur 1/8 - 1/4 inch.
  • Cover bowl with a plate and let rest for 30-40 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork.  If there is any water remaining after sitting, drain the bulgur really well and then pat dry on a paper towel.
  • Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add lemon juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil.
  • Let Tabbouleh sit in the refrigerator for about an hour for the flavors to develop.  Taste and adjust seasons if necessary.
Tahini-Mint Sauce:

3 tbsp Tahini sauce/paste
Juice of three lemons (or to taste)
1/4 cup chopped mint
1 tbsp Vegenaise or Follow Your Heart sour cream
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp non dairy milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Water to thin to desired consistency

  • In a food processor or blender, mix all ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Should have a consistency of heavy cream.
  • Adjust seasoning if necessary. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup

My husband and I have wanted to travel to Vietnam for many years now and after watching numerous episodes of Vietnam on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations", and Luke Nguyen's "Vietnam", it's time to go!  Looks like such a beautiful country with incredible people.

In the meantime, we are very fortunate that we live in the Bay Area and have about 10 Vietnamese restaurants within 10 miles of our house.  However, it's almost impossible to find a Vietnamese restaurant that makes a vegetarian broth base for their Pho.  Since the broth is considered to be the most "important ingredient" of the soup, it has to be really good and it took me some time to develop the right depth of flavor using just vegetables. 

I know that the list of ingredients looks long and daunting, but once you make the broth, it's really quick and easy.  I love this soup, I could eat it morning, noon and night regardless of the season or the temperature outside. 

Soup Broth:

3-4 quarts filtered water
1 medium onion sliced
4 whole garlic cloves with peels
1 1" piece of ginger with peel
2 large shallots with peels
8 oz of shiitake or cremini mushrooms sliced
1 medium carrot cut into chunks
2 medium parsnips cut into chunks 
2 cups of chopped bok choy, or other cabbage
3 star anise
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1 cinnamon stick broken in half
6 whole black peppercorns
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp canola Oil

  • Heat broiler and roast shallots and ginger until slightly charred.  Let cool, peel shallots and slice ginger into 1/4 inch slices.  Set aside.
  • Heat canola oil in a large 8 quart stock pot, add sliced onion and sliced mushrooms and cook until onions are caramelized and mushrooms are dark brown.  Add a little water if necessary to prevent burning.  This is where you need to develop the flavors of the mushrooms and the onions--kind of like making french onion soup, low and slow until caramelized and yummy.
  • Next add the carrots, parsnips, whole garlic, peeled shallots, and sliced ginger and saute for a couple of minutes more.
  • In a dry saute pan, toast spices until fragrant and then add to mixture.
  • Add water and the soy sauce and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about an hour or more until flavor develops and broth has a rich deep color. 
While the soup broth is simmering, prepare the condiments and the other soup ingredients.  You can add any combination of vegetables, tofu or tempeh you like, but these are my favorites.

Soup Condiments:

2-3 cups Mung Bean Sprouts, rinsed really well
1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves, rinsed well
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, rinsed well
1 jalapeno pepper sliced on a bias
1 lime sliced
Hoisin sauce to taste
Sriracha Hot Chili sauce to taste
Soy Sauce to taste

 Soup Ingredients:

1 medium onion thinly sliced
1 medium carrot sliced on a bias
4-8 oz extra firm or baked tofu sliced
1 cup of broccoli florets
2 cups of baby spinach or baby bok choy quartered
1/2 package rice noodles.  I use the Three Ladies Brand Rice Stick in Medium, but you can use Vermicelli noodles
2 green onions cut on a bias
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

  • Place rice noodles in a bowl and cover completely with very hot, almost boiling water.  Let noodles sit covered for 40 minutes while broth is cooking.
  • Prepare all ingredients above and set aside.
  • Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer using a ladle to remove as much liquid as possible from the cooked vegetables and return broth to the pot and bring to a simmer.
  • Add sliced onions, green onions and cook for several minutes until almost tender.
  • Add tofu, carrots and bok choy (if using) to broth and cook for a couple more minutes.
  • Just before serving, drain rice noodles and portion out into serving bowls.
  • Immediately add broccoli, spinach and cilantro to broth and ladle all vegetables and broth over noodles.
  • Garnish with condiments of choice and enjoy!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bhutanese Red Rice Pilaf

I'm always thinking about ways to incorporate more whole gains into my diet because they are high in protein and fiber.  Bhutanese red rice retains its beautiful color throughout the cooking process and maintains a great texture as well.  Makes you really feel like you're eating something healthy and you are! 

Chinese Five Spice

4 star anise
2 dried red chili's stems removed and seeded
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp whole cloves
1 2 inch cinnamon stick broken into pieces 
Toast spices in a dry pan and grind into a fine powder in a spice grinder.

Five Spice Marinade:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp mirin
2 tsp dark toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice seasoning
1 tsp grated ginger

Pilaf Ingredients:

8 oz diced extra firm or baked tofu
1 1/2 Bhutanese long grain red rice
3 cups water
1 red bell pepper finely diced
1/2 cup diced mango
1/2 cup pickled golden beets (optional) 
3 cups chopped kale or other leafy green
1/4 cup minced cilantro
2 green onions sliced on a bias
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Salt and pepper to taste 

  • Bring water to a boil, add 1/4 tsp salt, add rice, stir, cover and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook for 35 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes, fluff with a fork.
  • Whisk all marinade ingredients in a bowl, add diced tofu and set aside for 30 minutes or until rice is finished cooking.
  • Prep all other ingredients and set aside.
  • In a large saute pan, add tofu along with marinade and bring to a simmer.  Add kale and saute until just wilted.
  • Add rice to a large bowl, add in all ingredients, as well as tofu, kale and marinade. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pickled Golden Beets with Chinese Five Spice

I love pickled condiments that have a bold tartness balanced against hints of sweetness and heat.  So I decided to use a Chinese five spice blend to pickle some golden beets that I will be using in a red rice pilaf for dinner tomorrow evening.  

The five spice mixture consists of:  Sichuan peppercorns, fennel seed, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon.   I did not have any peppercorns so I substituted dried red chili peppers instead.  You could also use crushed red pepper flakes.  The beets came out really vibrant and flavorful.  Be careful not to overcook the beets because you want them to have a slight bite.  There's nothing worse than overcooked beets--reminds me of the canned version from my childhood!

Pickling Ingredients:

4-5 medium golden beets
1 tsp fennel seed
1/4 tsp whole cloves
1 1" cinnamon stick broken into pieces
2 star anise broken into pieces
2 dried red chili peppers, seeds removed and broken into pieces
5 whole black peppercorns
3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup light agave syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

  • Scrub beets to remove dirt and roots and place in a large five quart pan and cover completely with water.  Bring the beets to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and cook just until fork tender.  After beets are peeled, dice and set aside.
  • While the beets are cooking, prepare the pickling ingredients.  In a dry saute pan toast spices until fragrant and set aside.
  • In another small pan, bring liquid ingredients to a boil, turn off the heat, add the dried spices and let mixture steep until cooled to room temperature.
  • Add your diced beets to a mason jar and cover with pickling liquid.
  • Refrigerate for up to 24 hours before using.