Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Gai Lan with Garlic and Oyster Sauce

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Gai lan is a Chinese broccoli served mostly in Cantonese cooking. The flower buds and stalks are both eaten. The recipe I’m about to show you can be used as a universal way of stir-frying any vegetable; you can use this for green beans, spinach, bok choy, choy sum, snow pea leaves, Chinese cabbage, etc. Gai lan has a slightly bitter flavor, and that’s why we cook it in garlic and oyster sauce.

I know, I’m using a non-stick wok. I look like a total amateur, with no authentic Chinese cookware. I gave my real wok away when I moved out of my apartment years ago, and never got a new one, due to laziness.

This is a fairly easy recipe. It actually shouldn’t be a recipe at all; after you do it once, you’ll always remember how to do it.

Gai Lan with Garlic and Oyster Sauce (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of gai lan, washed and patted dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp corn oil
  • salt
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce

*You will need tongs and a wok

Quick Directions:

1) Soak the gai lan in a big tub of water for a few minutes. Pat dry; the water on the gai lan will make the oil splatter, so the dryer the better.

2) Heat oil in a wok on high. Immediately after you drop the garlic in, put the gai lan in. Use a lid as a shield from splattering oil.

3) Using tongs, flip the gai lan from bottom to top, so all the leaves are coated with oil. Sprinkle salt over the leaves, this will flavor it plus force the water out of the vegetable.

4) Put a lid on it, turn heat down to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

5) When it is done, the gai lan should be a vibrant green, and the stalks should be tender and crisp. You can put the oyster sauce in now, or drizzle it on top when you serve it.

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Illustrated Directions:

1) Soak the gai lan in a big tub of water for a few minutes. Trust me, if you saw my post on salad earlier, the state of gai lan is worse, given that you don’t purchase it pre-packaged in a fancy container. Pat dry; the water on the gai lan will make the oil splatter, so the dryer the better.

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2) Heat oil in a wok on high.

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3) Immediately after you drop the garlic in, put the gai lan in. It will splatter (no matter how much you dried the leaves), so use a lid as a shield.

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4) Using tongs, flip the gai lan from bottom to top, so all the leaves are coated with oil. Sprinkle salt over the leaves, this will flavor it plus force the water out of the vegetable.

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5) Put a lid on it, turn heat down to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

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6) When it is done, the gai lan should be a vibrant green, and the stalks should be tender and crisp. You can put the oyster sauce in now, or drizzle it on top when you serve it.

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See how easy that was?

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Roasted Asparagus

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I don’t think we’re in Asparagus Season quite yet.  I should really google it up and determine when the perfect time to buy these are…OR I could go to the local farmers’ market and see what they have. Oh that’s right, I have, and they have nothing yet. Since I live in Rochester, NY (more specifically, small city 8 hours north of New York City, or neighboring city of Buffalo, NY) we’ve just recently defrosted from our 8 month winter. We all joke around here that in Rochester, there are only 2 seasons, winter and construction. The road construction is to fix the large potholes we take as a souvenir from winter each year.

I’m drifting away from the subject. What was I talking about? Do I even know if asparagus is grown locally here anyway? I should do my research before I type. I will later. But I bought these at the supermarket for $1.50. They were the big, thick stalks. To me, they are a little older than I would’ve liked. The younger ones seem to be less stringy/chewy. I will have to make them again after I find better stalks. But I can still offer the recipe. It’s really a non-recipe recipe, it’s so easy to make it doesn’t require much direction. Wow, I really dragged this one out, didn’t I?

Here is a helpful link for FAQ about asparagus.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • olive oil
  • ground sea salt
  • lemon (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Trim bottom of stalks (at least half an inch). Wash and pat dry with paper towel. On roasting pan, spread asparagus out in single layer. Drizzle olive oil over asparagus, and swish the pan back and forth to coat evenly. Salt them.

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3) Roast for 10 minutes. They should come out a vibrant green, and look a little skinnier like the pic below.

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4) Serve with a squirt of lemon, or sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Or both. Or none.

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Stuffed Tomatoes

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These roasted tomatoes stuffed with cheesy rice, peppers and sausage were as good as they look. I figured I’d make a non-vegetarian dish for once, since it almost looked like I was eating too healthy lately. I had some spicy Italian sausage in the freezer, and figured I needed a reason to use them.

Cheesy Stuffed Tomatoes (serves 2-4)

Ingredients:

  • 4 large beefsteak tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped peppers (green, orange, yellow, or a mixture of all 3)
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 Italian sausages, casing removed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 Tbsp bread crumbs
  • olive oil

Directions:

1) Use a knife to carefully cut and remove the top of each washed tomato.

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2) After cutting the top with a knife, I used a grapefruit spoon to carefully dig its guts out. Save the tomato guts in a bowl for later, you will need it to cook with.

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Tomato guts! I just like saying tomato guts…

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3) In a pan, melt a tsp. of butter on medium high. Add onions and peppers, cook until translucent.

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4) Add sausage, cook until browned.

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5) Add tomato guts! Turn heat down to low, cook for 10-15 minutes. Preheat oven at 425 degrees.

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6) Add rice, salt and pepper to taste.

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7) Stir 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese into rice mixture.

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8) Using a spoon, stuff rice into tomatoes, packing it firmly. In casserole dish, wedge tomatoes in so they are holding each other upright. I could only get 3 to fit into my largest casserole dish, and used a smaller dish for a loner tomato. Top with remaining cheese, sprinkle with bread crumbs and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Pour a tiny bit of water into bottom of casserole dishes to prevent burning/sticking.

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9) My Macgyver skills led me to create this aluminum foil contraption to wedge the single tomato in securely.

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10) Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until tomatoes are tender. Should come out like this.

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Buddha’s Delight

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Buddha’s Delight is a vegetarian dish made up of lots of soy based proteins to mimic real meat. There’s probably a ton of different versions, but this one’s mine.  The can of ‘lo han chai’ I’m using has a variety of vegetarian meats and veggies, containing braised wheat gluten (people sensitive to gluten, beware – I’m also slightly sensitive to gluten, and if I eat enough of this it sits in my stomach like a rock), mushrooms, carrots, tofu.  Btw, the picture on the can shows snow peas, but THERE ARE NO SNOW PEAS.  So add them if you’d like. I also add other ingredients, like shiitake mushrooms (reconstituted in water, I buy bags of dehydrated mushrooms at the local asian market), Bean curd strips (also needs to be reconstituted, bought in dried strips in a bag), and chinese vermicelli. Chinese vermicelli is a noodle made of green beans so it is a good alternative for people sensitive to flour, and, ironically in this dish that doesn’t help much.  In my variety of Buddha’s Delight I add a tablespoon of curry, for an extra kick.

Ingredients:

  • 6 shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted (if dry) and sliced
  • 1 cup of bean curd strips, reconstituted and cut into smaller strips
  • 1 can of Lo Han Chai, drained
  • 2 packages of green bean vermicelli, soaked in hot water to soften, then drained
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or water)
  • 1 Tbsp yellow curry (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp green onions, chopped

Shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted

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Sliced shiitake mushrooms

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Bean curd threads, reconstituted in water

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Can of Lo Han Chai

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2 Packages of green bean vermicelli

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Vermicelli soaked in a bowl of hot water until ready for use

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Directions:

1) In a wok on medium high heat, pour the first 4 ingredients in, stirring quickly. Stir-fry for around 2-3 minutes.

2) Add sesame oil, oyster sauce, stir for another minute.

3) Add chicken broth, turn heat down to simmer. Stir curry in. When sauce thickens, turn off heat and pour into a dish to serve. Top with green onions.

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Breaded Zucchini

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Breaded zucchini. Be sure not to over fry them, or they get all soggy and limp.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • oil
  • salt

Directions:

1) Slice zucchini into quarter inch slices.  Whisk egg into bowl, dip zucchini slices into egg. Pour bread crumbs into dish, cover egg dipped slices into bread crumbs.

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 2) Pour oil to coat bottom of pan, heat at medium high. Place zucchini slices in pan for one minute until brown, flip and cook for another minute. Remove and place on paper towels to soak up excess oil. Sprinkle salt, serve.

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Guacamole

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 This is my husband’s recipe for guacamole.  It’s his prized recipe.  I’m exploiting it.  He’s not Mexican, but it’s better than guacamole from Mexico.  Everyone loves it, including Mexicans.  We eat bowls and bowls of it. It’s wonderful.  Serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 8 oz. Jack’s Special Salsa (whatever flavor you wish, we use mild or medium)
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt

Directions:

  1. In food processor, blend avocados, salsa, and onion together.  Pour into bowl.
  2. Stir in lime juice, and add salt to taste.  Serve with tortilla chips.

* Guacamole will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days if well sealed in container.

Grilled Zucchini

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A nice healthy accompaniment to any main dish.  If you live in an apartment and don’t have a backyard grill, use a panini or george foreman grill.

Grilled Zucchini (serves 2-4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium to large zucchinis
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

1.  Using a peeler, peel stripes vertically on zucchini, as seen in picture below.

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2.  Slice into 1 inch 1/2 inch (sorry, I’m a moron and should’ve used a ruler) thick slices.  Try to make the thickness consistent so they grill evenly together.  Brush olive oil on both sides, salt and pepper.

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3.  Grill until brown, flip to other side and continue grilling until done. Serve.

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