Archive for July 11th, 2012

July 11, 2012

West African Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter and Black Beans

This soup is amazing: hearty, comforting, and DELICIOUS. It also happens to be both vegetarian and vegan, although you could certainly add meat to this dish (chicken and beef would go well here). This soup honors fall flavors while paying homage to both Thai and African culinary traditions. I would say the addition of the Thai curry paste, lime, and brown sugar makes this soup Thai-African fusion.

Total Time: 45 minutes, largely unattended

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Serves 4-5, adapted from Gluten-Free Goddess

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 medium red onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced very finely
1/2 lb dried black beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender
1 quart vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter (or sunbutter for those allergic!)
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime
3 tsp brown sugar
salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add the curry paste and cinnamon.  Stir for a minute so that the olive oil gets infused with spice.  Add the onion, garlic, sweet potato, bell pepper, and jalapeno.  Stir and cook the veggies for 5-7 minutes, until softened.

2. Add the beans and broth.   Add the peanut butter to the mix.  Add the red pepper flakes.

3. Bring the soup to a boil, then cover and simmer.  Cook until veggies are tender, about 25 minutes.

4. Stir in the lime juice and brown sugar.  Season with salt and black pepper, if needed. Top with chopped cilantro.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

July 11, 2012

Colorful Roasted Beets

Beets are in season and they’re so easy to make! Beets come in gorgeous vibrant colors; I found these lovely beets at the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market. The hardest part about this recipe is peeling and cutting them. Once that’s done, just pop them in the oven for a half hour to an hour (depending on how soft you like them) and go do other stuff. This recipe is one of the simplest ways to make beets, but you can add other seasonings depending on what you like: rosemary, garlic, and balsamic vinegar go very well together, so does ginger, cinnamon, and butter. Beets and feta is also a classic. Experiment! You can also make a big batch of this and it will keep in the fridge for about 5 days, perfect as a side dish or snack.

Total Time: 45-65 minutes, largely unattended

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30-50 minutes

Serves 4

1 pint of beets, washed, peeled, and diced into roughly 1/2-inch pieces

Olive oil or canola oil

Salt (optional) and pepper to taste

1.Preheat oven to 400° F.

2. Toss the beets with oil, salt (if desired), and pepper to coat evenly.

3. Place the beets in a baking dish lined with foil and roast for 30-50 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

4. Remove the beets from the oven.

Happy eating!

Love,

Yang

July 11, 2012

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Time: 1 hr 5 minutes, largely unattended

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 1 hr

Serves 4

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled
  • Olive oil

Heat oven to 400° F. Wash each sweet potato and then rub each sweet potato with a little olive oil. Pierce each sweet potato several times with a fork. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking tray. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Make a slit in the top of each sweet potato. Top with 1 tablespoon of butter and season with salt and pepper, cinnamon, maple syrup, however you like!

Happy Eating!
Love,
Yang
July 11, 2012

Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Butter and Brown Sugar

Time: 1 hr 30 minutes, largely unattended

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 1 hr, 15 minutes

Serves 2-4

  • 1 Acorn squash
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
  • Dash of Salt

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Cut the acorn squash in half, lengthwise, from stem to end. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center of each half. Score the insides of each half several times with a sharp knife. Place each half in a baking pan, cut side up. Add about a 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the baking pan so that the skins don’t burn and the squash doesn’t get dried out.

3. Coat the inside of each half with 1/2 a Tbsp of butter. Add a dash of salt if you are using unsalted butter. Add a Tbsp of brown sugar to the cavity of each half. Dribble on a teaspoon of maple syrup to each half.

4. Bake in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the squash is very soft and the tops are browned. Do not undercook. When finished, remove from oven and let cool a little before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.

Happy eating!

Love,

Yang

July 11, 2012

Honey Roasted Vanilla Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes

I LOVE sweet potatoes: highly nutritious and highly delicious! The following recipe is simple and can be easily tailored to your tastes. If you love cinnamon (I do), add more! You can swap the brown sugar and honey for maple syrup, agave syrup, molasses, whatever you like! You can also make a large batch of this and eat it throughout the week by reheating it. A batch of roasted sweet potatoes will last for 3-4 days in the fridge.

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 1 hr

Total Time: 1 hr 15 minutes, largely unattended

Serves 6

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (or other neutral oil such as canola or safflower)
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced (about 4-5 medium sweet potatoes)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (or Apple Pie Spice or Pumpkin Pie Spice)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces and put in a baking dish.

3. Pour the vegetable oil over the sweet potatoes, just enough to cover the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle the brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt, pepper, a dash or two of lemon or lime juice, and a drizzle of honey over the sweet potatoes.

4. Mix all of the ingredients together so that everything is well integrated with no major clumps.

5. Place the baking dish into the oven and set a timer for 1 hour.

6. Every 20 minutes, stir and flip the sweet potatoes as necessary to allow them to brown evenly.

7. After 1 hour, check to see if they are tender by tasting. If they’re not as tender as you’d like, roast for 10 more minutes.

8. When the sweet potatoes are tender, take them out of the oven and serve immediately.

Happy eating!

Love,

Yang

July 11, 2012

Panang Curry with Tofu, Eggplant, Potatoes, Sweet Red Bell Pepper, and Fresh Basil

I’m a fiend for curry and Thai curry is one of my favorites. There are many different Thai curries (Massaman, Panang, Red, Green, Yellow, Karee, Kaeng Kua, Khing, etc.), each with a unique flavor that stems from the different ingredients in their pastes. If I was an authentic Thai chef, I’d grind my spices in a pestle and mortar and crack a coconut and strain its milk. Let’s just say I’ve tried to make authentic curry before in just this manner and ended up with multiple bruises on my forehead and a chipped countertop. Since I’m a college a student with no time, the following recipe is one that I’ve made up over the years and is as convenient as can be without sacrificing taste. You can use any protein you want (chicken, pork, beef, seafood, duck, etc.) and any vegetables or fruits you want (sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, green beans, etc).

Again, this recipe is a simple concept where you can mix and match to find your favorite combination:

Concept: curry paste + coconut milk + protein + vegetables = delicious curry.

This is a great recipe for making a huge batch and reheating the leftovers throughout the week. Curry will taste even better the next day when all of the flavors have had time to mingle. A batch of curry will last for about a week in the fridge.

If you’re watching your fat and calorie intake, you could use light coconut milk (best deal is at Trader Joe’s, $0.99/can). However, this will make your curry runnier (since light coconut milk is essentially diluted coconut milk) and, in my opinion, less delicious. You could do 1 light can, 1 full-fat can to compromise, but from my own experience, just use the unadulterated coconut milk and eat less of it. Trust me, the taste and texture of your curry will be absolutely amazing and it will be worth it.

Chao Koh is the best authentic brand of canned coconut milk for foodies and Thai home cooks alike, and is available at Safeway. The next best brand is Thai Kitchen’s Coconut Milk, which is available at Whole Foods.

I always use Maesri brand curry paste, which I get from Asian grocery stores, but Thai Kitchen curry pastes are good, too. You can find those at Safeway and Whole Foods.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp of neutral oil such as canola, peanut, safflower, or vegetable

2 13 oz cans of coconut milk

1 can (4 oz, or 6 tbsp) of red curry paste (or any curry paste)

1 medium eggplant

3 medium-sized potatoes (or 6 small potatoes)

1 14 oz box of firm or extra firm tofu (spongy tofu, tofu gan, or any form of tofu will work, but firm will hold up better in the curry)

1 red bell pepper

1 small handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded

1. Heat up a medium to large pot to medium heat.

2. Stir fry 4 oz (or 6 tbsp) of red curry paste with 2 tbsp of oil.

3. Add 1 can of coconut milk and stir to integrate the curry paste with the coconut milk. While you’re waiting for the mixture to boil, chop the tofu into small 1/2 inch chunks.

4. When the mixture boils, add the tofu and stir thoroughly.5. While the tofu is cooking, chop the eggplant and potatoes into small 1/2 inch chunks.

6. Add another can of coconut milk and add the chopped eggplant and potatoes. If the liquid doesn’t cover the newly added eggplant and potatoes, add some water, but not too much, since the eggplant and potatoes will reduce down as they cook.

7. While the eggplant and potatoes are cooking, remove the seeds from the red bell pepper and slice the pepper into strips.

8. After 20 minutes, check to see if the eggplant and potatoes are tender by sticking a fork or chopstick in it. The potatoes should not be too hard or too mushy. If they’re too hard, let them cook for 5-10 more minutes.

9. Once the potatoes are tender, add in the chopped red bell pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes, and then serve immediately over jasmine rice or by itself. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. If you like it spicy, you can also garnish with fresh red chilies.

Happy eating!

Love,

Yang

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