Archive for ‘Ginger’

August 10, 2013

wontons with apricot-mustard sauce

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I took a chance. I decided to venture out of my comfort-zone in order to test the waters of a cuisine that is not Italian-American focused. I took a trip to the Asian store (which ironically is called Paris Store?). I asked the people working there to identify certain vegetables that I couldn’t pick out of a vegetable line-up. I perused the sauce aisle for approximately 42 minutes without lifting my head once. And I made homemade green curry paste. And consequently a Thai green curry. That was delicious.

But this post isn’t about the green curry. This post is about the sides we made. Now, I know I am probably mixing up my non-Italian-American fare by serving wontons with a curry, but I am just a beginner, okay?

These wontons were…off…the…chain. Unbelievable. I was astonished by how successful they turned out. The texture. The filling. Tasted like something I would order in a restaurant (and this isn’t something I say very often about the food I turn out.) What I especially liked about this recipe is the minimalism of the ingredient list, and the fact that most of these things can be found in any old supermarket. Having a food processor is a bonus because it really gets the mixture to be homogenous, but I am sure loosely chopped versions of the ingredients would be excellent as well.

This post is for you Tilgerchen.

Wontons with Apricot-Mustard Sauce

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(adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen, makes 14 dumplings)

What you’ll need:

Apricot-Mustard Sauce

  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Wontons

  • 4 tbsps canola oil, divided
  • 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • gyoza or wonton wrappers (used egg-free if making this vegan!)

What now?

Apricot-Mustard Sauce:

  1. Combine jam and mustard in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t stick. Transfer to a serving bowl and let it cool to room temp.

Wontons:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbps canola oil over medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms until soft and lightly browned. Add the cashews, scallions, carrots, garlic, ginger and soy sauce and cook them babies all together for another 5 minutes.
  2. Once cooled slightly, transfer to a food processor and pulse a few times until the cashews are finely ground and mixture is somewhat smooth. I left mine slightly chunky because I thought it would pack more of a punch.
  3. At your origami station, place 2 teaspoons of wonton mixture in the center of each wonton wrapper.  Keep a small bowl of water nearby. You will want to wet the edges of the wonton mixture just enough to seal the wrapper. As you are folding over the wonton, squeeze as much air out as possible to avoid air pockets. As you can see, I was not fancy, I will have to upgrade my folding techniques for next time.  Just make sure it’s sealed.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Once the oil is hot, place the wontons in the skillet. Do not smush them, leave some space between them.
  5. Cook a few minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned. Once browned, fill the skillet with 1/2 inch hot water.
  6. Cover the skillet immediately and let those puppies simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Flip the wontons to brown the other side lightly.
  8. Serve with apricot-mustard sauce et voilà!

Bon app!

(I am sure the option of steaming could work equally as well, just haven’t tried it yet!)

February 1, 2013

Veganism Day 1: Chickpea and Apricot Tagine

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Coming back after a two month + hiatus.  A lot has happened in two months.  I took a trip to the United States and indulged in so much pizza that I didn’t even know what to do with myself.  I confirmed the fact that, although the US has foods that quench my hunger in a cultural sense, the quality of the vegetables and the fruits have rien à voir (nothing to do) with the ones in France — (a quick google search translates ‘rien à voir’ to ‘it’s apples and oranges!’ heh.)  I couldn’t believe the choices in the supermarkets, but when push comes to shove, nothing is more odorous than the fresh market produce that I get once a week at the Boulevard de la Marne.  But anyway, passons.  Let’s get back to the topic at hand.  My return.

My return is special.  Because I am coming back with a new flavor of the month – as we should say. Veganism. Hmm.  Veganism? For someone who has eaten not one but TWO fondues this week alone? It doesn’t seem to add up.  Which is exactly why I am doing it.  Cheese and I have a tumultuous relationship.  As in, it ruins me.  After watching two particularly enlightening documentaries on the food industry and the effect of dairy products on our health, I have mulled over the idea for some time.   Let’s add the fact that hereditary can be cruel to us.  And so I’d like to ideally take the best care of my body that I can – that is to say before my genes decide for me!

And if I were to actually be a practicing yogi (oh how I miss my yoga classes these days) I would be taking the nonviolent route.  Essentially, I want to see if kindness to my body and to other sentient beings will affect me, for the better.  Bref.  My thoughts are unclear. In order to help with unclear thoughts, this next month shall be co-blogged by The Beard.  He has decided to follow me in my pursuits. For someone who eats a whole lot of mozzarella, I’m just really impressed by his kindness to join me.

The Beard, everybody.

Cheese is my dope. But there’s nothing you can’t put aside, really. At the origin was vegetarianism –which seems to have accompanied my life forever. There’s no way back, but there is a way forward. Veganism. Veganism? For I believe that the voiceless should talk. Not only animals, but anyone. But this is not it. Anyone who has ever experienced this strange moment when, full of animal protein, you feel like you owe it to someone. And as a Frenchman, let me tell you: we don’t like to owe anything to anyone, especially not on food-related matters. Someone opens your eyes. You agree. If you gotta talk the talk, you also gotta walk the walk. I’ve therefore become a follower. Because my guide to veganism is wise and tempered. Not a radical. Not like me. This move toward veganism –even though I don’t intend on becoming a permanent one today– is therefore an initiating journey into ethical and culinary improvement. Out of curiosity. And out of love.

To celebrate February 1st, one whole day of veganism, I give you the utmost delicious way to start 28 days of a plant based diet thanks to Ms. Kim.  Kim is a British colleague/marvel who knows how to cook with flavour (see what I did there, with the spelling of that word?) I want her to teach me everything she knows.  For those of you who don’t know : a tagine is a typical Moroccan dish that often incorporates a surprising fruit ingredient into a slow cooked dish.  The addition of the cinnamon is surprisingly welcome!

Chickpea & Apricot Tagine

(serves 5-6 people)

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What you’ll need:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 1 big sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • a bayleaf
  • 16 fl oz vegetable stock
  • as many dried apricots as you’d like, cut up
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes

Now what?

  1. Fry the onion and garlic until fragrant.  Add the spices and cook for a few minutes.  Then add the remaining ingredients in that order, mixing for about a minute in between each addition.
  2. Let is simmer for around a half an hour. “Cook until scrumptious” to quote Ms. Kim.
  3. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper and mint (or parsley or coriander).
  4. Serve over whole wheat couscous.

Honestly, the choices are endless, you can swap in or out any of the vegetables for other root or non-root veggies.  The vegan sky is the limit.

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October 20, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies | cookies au potiron et pépites de chocolat

‘Tis the season. My favorite season of the year! Where the leaves start to come to life just before they are shed from the trees to let us know that winter is on its way.  It’s the time where we find ourselves getting reacquainted with scarves and boots and hot chocolate by the bowl and all sorts of warm things and that — my friends — is fine by me.  I love feeling cozy.  I love not sweating.  I love all things pumpkin-flavored.  This is my happy time.

This weekend I am going on a little “hike” (more like walk) in the mountains to celebrate birthdays.  In true French fashion, someone usually brings along a snack that is eaten as a reward for approximately every step taken (wish I were kidding.) Après l’effort, le rénconfort (after effort comes comfort) — am I right?

I decided that I would make myself responsible for the snack and decided to go along with the autumnal theme by making some pumpkin chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.  The house smelled like autumn heaven and the taste felt like a giant October hug.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 3 dozen, adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/4 cups (160 g) flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (145 g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (130 g) packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup (240 ml) pumpkin purée
  • 3 cups (250 g) old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup (160 g) dark chocolate, chopped

Now what?

  1. Preheat oven to 375 f / 190 c.  Line two baking sheets with wax paper or slipmats.
  2. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and baking soda.
  3. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer or by hand, cream butter and sugars.  Stir in the egg and the vanilla.  Add the pumpkin purée.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring well.  Once combined, add the oats and the chocolate chips.
  5. Drop dough onto the baking sheets using a teaspoon measure (about 12 per sheet.)  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies look set.  Let cookies cool on the tray for 2 minutes before removing them (this will allow them to set even more.  Cool on a wire rack and resist all urge to dive in immediately.

URGENT QUESTION: If anyone knows why my cookies are never plump, feel free to let me know :-\

July 6, 2012

David Lebovitz’s Fresh Ginger Cake | Gateau au Gingembre

Just last year, a foodie friend of mine suggested that I try any recipe by David Lebovitz.  I amazoned his cookbooks and was hooked immediately.  So hooked that I had “Ready for Dessert” mailed to me in France on an impulse from the United States (paying an astronomical amount for shipping.)  It was a decision that I have not once regretted.  Everything in this book is unbelievable and it really hits the nail on the head of the “American who appreciates French culture” in regards to the style of cooking/baking that I do so adore.  I am not usually a fan of ginger, but in the cold winter on a whim, I made DL’s fresh ginger cake and received many criticisms for it.  Ginger is hit or miss and unfortunately the crowd of 20 somethings guzzling beer that I was serving this cake to was not exactly a perfect match.  I made it once again recently for a civil union celebration, where the Boulanger (baker) sitting next to me asked me if I could come to his Boulangerie (bakery) one of these days to give him some of these typically “American” recipes that work so well now in France.  In exchange, he said to me, I would get to try some of his cookies.  Cookies made by the French? I’ll be the judge of that…

David Lebovitz‘s Fresh Ginger Cake | Gateau au Gingembre

(adapted from Ready For Dessert)

What you’ll need:

  • 4 ounces fresh ginger
  • 1 cup honey (or mild molasses)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature

Now what?

  1. Preheat oven to 350 f and line the bottom of a 9 1/2 inch springform pan (the ones we usually make cheesecake in work well) with a circle of wax paper.
  2. Peel, slice and chop the ginger into tiny pieces.  You can also grate it with a cheese grater, but be careful of your fingers!
  3. Mix together the honey, sugar and oil. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
  4. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil on the stovetop.  Add the baking soda and whisk for a couple of seconds.
  5. Pour water mixture into your honey/sugar mixture, whisking carefully.  Stir in the ginger.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, whisking to obtain a homogenous batter.  Finish by adding eggs, one at a time.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared mold and bake about 45 minutes to an hour or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. If the top of the cake seems to be cooking faster than the middle, cover it with aluminum foil and continue baking.
  9. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes before removing it from its mold.

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