I like this recipe a lot. It’s not overwhelmingly strong or soy-ish like a lot of other recipes, and the mango really brings out the flavors nicely. To read how to make it, … Continue reading
Category Archives: Recipes
If you want a vegan chili that’s rich, tangy and satisfying, you’ve found the right recipe to try, right here! Continue reading
I was just looking back through old photos from my time living in China. One of the delightful things about living in China was the confluence of other cultures and the exposure to many different types of cuisines. This, in turn, influenced my own cooking palette. After having this dish, not only did I make it myself, I decided it was good enough to document by way of photos. Since a picture is worth 1000 words, I will post the photos and explain how I cooked it. Because there are no quantities for ingredients and no specific cooking techniques, I suppose this is an intermediate rather than a beginner recipe. Also, I imagine it goes without saying that this dish can be made vegan by leaving out the pork.
Lib was my grandmother, and this recipe was handed down to me by her. You can’t buy pickles like these in a store.
Growing up, I took my mother’s home made cranberry sauce for granted at Thanksgiving. Pork was always served with cooked apple or pear, and turkey was always served with fresh cranberry sauce. It wasn’t until we moved to China that I learned that cranberries and Continue reading
2 January 2010
I was clearing my desk off (New Year’s Cleaning) and found this recipe. I didn’t make it this season, so I’m just going to type what I wrote last year.
- 10 buttery crackers (like Ritz brand)
- 2 packs of frozen broccoli (or 2 lbs fresh)
- 1/2 onion or shallot
- 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (e.g. "Follow Your Heart" brand veganaise)
- 4 oz. shredded rice cheese, cheddar flavor (e.g. Galaxy International Foods brand Cheddar flavor "pasteurized process cheese food alternative")
- 1 can sliced water chestnuts
- 1/2 cup oat milk (may substitute non-sweetened soy milk)
- 2/3 cup white flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 vegan mushroom soup (e.g. Imagine brand Portobello Mushroom soup)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Microwave or steam broccoli and onions together until the broccoli is tender enough to smash it with a fork (about 6 minutes). Remove from heat and smash with a fork.
Mix oat milk, mushroom soup, salt, pepper, and flour together. Use a wire whisk to mix and get all the lumps out of the mixture. Place this over medium heat, stirring frequently. There are two objectives to stirring: (1) make sure the mixture doesn’t burn on the bottom, and (2) make sure it cooks evenly so that the flour doesn’t clump together and form lumps.
When mixture has thickened, stir in the shredded cheese gradually, allowing it to melt.
Once cheese has melted and the mixture is like a thick gravy, add the broccoli and onion mixture. Then, add in the water chestnuts. Stir gently so that the mixture is uniform.
Pour the mixture into a casserole dish. Last thing, crush the cracker crumbs and sprinkle the crumbs on top of the casserole as a garnish.
Heat at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until hot, or about 30 minutes. (Since there are no eggs, the casserole will not thicken any additional amount; the purpose of heating is just to heat it and brown the top a bit.)
31 December 2009
Where I live in the “Deep South,” there is a special meal that everyone eats on New Year’s Day: collard greens, black eyed peas, and corn bread. There are different reasons given for this meal, all having to do with good luck. (Don’t ask too many questions about these reasons, I can’t answer them!)
Anyway, … also here in the “Deep South” the deep green colored, somewhat bitter leafy vegetables called Collard Greens and Kale are about the closest I can get to one of our favorite vegetables I learned to love in China, which I just call Cai Xin (pronounced something like Ch-eye, seen). I’ve adapted my Cai Xin recipe to create what I think is one of the best ways to serve collards. ( It works well for Kale, too. ) In honor of the New Year, I’m posting my recipe for Asian Style Collard Greens. Since I’m writing this from memory and not testing it step-by-step as I go along, use your best judgment as you cook.
- A couple large cloves of garlic, sliced as thin as you can slice it, to make about 2 – 4 teaspoons worth of fresh, finely sliced garlic (depending on taste)
- A piece of fresh, mild ginger, sliced as thin as you can slice it and then slivered again, to make about 2 teaspoons worth of fresh slivered ginger
- Soy sauce, to taste
- A large bunch of collards, or two (how much is in a “bunch”? LOL) If using bagged or frozen collards, one bunch would equal one bag.
- A large, sweet onion, sliced into lengthwise strips, if you like onion in your collards.
- A dash of corn starch, maybe up to 3 tsp.
Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.
Wash the collards. Remove excess stems so that what you mainly have is dark leaves. Using a knife, cut collard leaves into pieces that are a couple inches square (half the size of your hand). Set the trimmed collards aside until the water comes to a full, rolling boil.
While the water is heating, also slice the garlic as thinly as humanly possible. Depending on taste, this could be one whole clove of elephant garlic or many cloves of smaller garlic, so that it’s about 2 – 4 teaspoons sliced, depending on your taste.
Peel a piece of fresh, mild ginger that is about the size of your thumb. In my grocery store, the best ginger is large and plump looking, and is labeled “Hawaiian Ginger”. Avoid ginger that is thin, shriveled, and dried out looking. After it’s peeled, slice it as thinly as you can. Then, lay it back on its side and slice again so that it is in tiny slivers. Set aside.
In a large wok or skillet, heat some oil over medium heat. When the oil is warm enough to sizzle some water that is sprinkled in, it is warm enough to cook the garlic. Brown the garlic in the oil until it is crispy (very light brown) but not burned (not dark brown). In my experience, it is very easy to burn the garlic, but you do want it to be crispy so cook carefully and stir often. When garlic is done, remove it from heat immediately and set it aside.
Next, saute the onion on somewhat low heat until it is translucent, then set aside.
Clean the wok for re-use to stir fry the collards later.
When water is at a rolling boil, put the collards into it. I tend to think of this as blanching the collards. They will turn a very dark green (kale will turn bright green). Without reducing heat on the stove, bring the collards back to a boil and let them continue to boil for about 3 – 5 minutes. (This is not a recipe where the greens are cooked “to death,” as so many Southern cooks prepare their greens.) If you’re not sure when the collards are done, try a sample to see if they’re still tough. Whenever they’re tender enough to bite easily, they’re done enough.
Now, put oil into the wok, bring to a high heat. Corn oil will work best for cooking at high heat, because it doesn’t burn. When the oil is nice and hot, throw the collards into it and stir fry them. One of my Asian friends says that she loves that beautiful, loud “sizzle” sound when she throws her vegetables into the wok. The Asian view is that the sizzle seals in the flavors. Don’t cook the collards too long, just long enough to sear them. Keep tossing so they brown evenly and don’t burn.
Add the cooked onion.
Now, add in the slivered ginger. The onion and ginger should mix in with the collards as you stir them.
Next, using your fingers, sprinkle a tiny bit of corn starch over top of the collards, as if you were putting a light coat of talcum powder. This corn starch will thicken any water that remains from the boiling process. Toss them around a bit to spread the thickening sauce. Now, sprinkle with soy sauce to taste and toss a bit more. Turn off heat.
Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with more soy sauce if needed. Garnish with the crispy garlic.
Note: if the crispy garlic is too much of a project (because it does indeed burn very easily), just saute it with the onion and use it that way. It will give the collards a delicious flavor, along with the ginger.
When I met my husband, he wouldn’t eat greens. Now, this is one of his favorite foods. It’s that good.
23 July 2009
My pen pal June just put a recipe on her blog.
Rather than plagiarize, I’m simply going to put a link to that recipe
at the end of this entry. I highly recommend this dish! Even if you
think you don’t like eggplant (aubergine), try this anyway!
put it this way. When I first met David, he didn’t like "any"
vegetables. Over time, he came to like certain things but eggplant
(aubergine) was certainly never at the top of our list. But that
changed when we moved to China. One day David confessed to me, "Ten
years ago, if you had told me that eggplant would be one of my favorite
foods, I’d have thought you were crazy!" Contrary to all our
expectations, this dish has definitely become one of our family
favorites (except that it’s too spicy for small children). This
particular recipe Yunnan Province in Southwestern China, but I’ve had
varieties of it all over Southern China.
Aubergine is a veggie
that soaks up flavors of the food around it. In this case, the
eggplant soaks up the flavors of garlic, ginger, pepper, and soy. In
Guangdong Province, it often has a bit of salted fish cooked in with it
and is slightly less spicy than the dish as served further West. No
matter what the variation, this is a delightfully spicy, flavorful dish
that definitely stands on its own two feet, but the texture is soft
with just a bit of firmness for a very satisfying texture on the
palate. In my opinion, it must definitely be served with rice. If you
were using a Chinese style serving method, you would take a bit of this
food from the serving dish, place it on top of your rice, and then eat
it from there. The juices from the dish then go down into your rice
and flavor that too. The blandness of the rice is a perfect contrast
to the spiciness of the eggplant.
Unlike some authentic
Chinese dishes, you can readily find the ingredients in an American
food market: young fresh aubergine, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, hot
red peppers, scallions (green onions), soy sauce and (hopefully) a bit
of sesame oil. Use young, non-bitter eggplants. In my opinion, the
long slender, bright purple eggplants are far superior to the big, fat,
black ones I usually find in American produce markets. If you can only
find the round variety, purchase the smallest ones you can find in the
hope that they won’t yet be bitter.
And now (drum roll) … click here for the link to: Eggplant Cooked In Red Sauce
Editor’s note: As interest in Yunnan cuisine increases around China and the rest of the world, GoKunming contributor Guo Duomi will occasionally offer recipes for traditional Yunnan and Chinese dishes. If there is a certain dish you would like to see a recipe for, please send us your ideas via our contact form.
Eggplant cooked in red sauce – Hongshao qiezi (红烧茄子)
Eggplant or aubergine is a staple in not only Yunnan cuisine but Chinese cuisine around the country. Similarly, soy sauce-based hongshao dishes are available all over China.
Two types of eggplant can be found at produce markets around China. The first is the plump, dark purple vegetable well known in the West, the second is a longer, thinner version with striking bright purple skin. The bright purple variant is more prevalent but it may be substituted with the other as taste does not differ between the two.
2 medium eggplants
5 sprigs of spring onion
2 small green Chinese capsicums*
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp black pepper
Oil for frying
* Using zhoupi lajiao (皱皮辣椒) – a slightly spicy wrinkly-skinned variety of capsicum – is recommended for this dish. If zhoupi lajiao is unavailable, you can substitute with a standard green or red capsicum.
Slice off the top and then slice the eggplants into strips around 3 centimetres long. Wash and chop up the spring onion into two centimetre lengths and chop the capsicum into small pieces. Wash the ginger thoroughly and slice thinly, leaving the skin on. Peel the garlic and slice it thinly.
Heat 3 – 4 tablespoons of oil in a wok on high heat and add the eggplant. Stir thoroughly until the eggplant has taken up all of the oil, then fry for around five minutes, shifting the eggplant around occasionally but giving it time to cook without being disturbed.
Ultimately you want your eggplant to be browned on the outside and reasonably mushy, you will find it gives back a lot of the oil to the pan when ready.
Once cooked remove the eggplant to a plate, leaving the oil in the wok.
Lower the heat slightly and add the spring onion, capsicum, garlic and ginger to the wok. Stir fry them together for around a minute and then return the eggplant to the wok.
Add in the salt, pepper and soy sauce and stir to mix thoroughly. Transfer to a plate and serve.
10 February 2009
In South Carolina, we are familiar with the legend of The Swamp Fox, whose real name was Frances Marion. Hiding out with his men in the swamps of the low country, he and his rag-tag band of men managed to stage surprise raids on the British during the Revolutionary War. They waged a type of guerrilla warfare, staying in the swamp until they attacked, and then disappearing back into the swamp from which they emerged. Using the strategy of hiding in the swamps, they "outfoxed" the British, hence the name "Swamp Fox".
The British were not able to follow Marion into the swamps, for three main reasons. They did not know the geography of the land, they had no supply of food there, and the swamps were infested with deadly malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Food in the remote, swampy wilderness was a major issue, as indeed it was across the entire frontier.
I once visited the remnants of a British outpost in the low-country of South Carolina. It was built upon a high "Indian Mound" in the middle of an expansive marsh. The literature at this outpost stated that the supply chain was a crucial, and ultimately fatal, issue for this particular outpost.
The Patriots (those seeking independence from Britain) were able to defeat the soldiers at this outpost only after they broke the supply line and stopped the supply of food reaching it from the British garrison at Charleston, about 100 miles away. What was most interesting was the presence in that museum of letters which had been written by the commanding officer of that outpost to his superiors concerning their food supply.
The commanding officer, basically, said that the British soldiers could not be expected to eat the same wretched, inferior, local food which was relied upon upon by the Patriots. The Patriots, it was said, lived on native tubers which were most distasteful and base. It was implied that the Patriots’ ability to eat the native foods was evidence of their crude and lowly way of life, a lifestyle scorned by the more upper class British soldiers who were disgusted by this kind of diet.
What were these native tubers? The food that enabled Frances Marion and his fellow patriots to survive in the swamps (and which was scorned by the British) was the yam, or sweet potato.
I understand that sweet potatoes are remarkably nutritious, particularly when combined with some dairy. (And while there was not yet any cure for malaria, it is said that the Swamp Fox improved the odds for his men somewhat by having them mix in a teaspoon of vinegar into their drinking water. This caused a slight alteration of their blood chemistry so that they were less prone either to being bitten by mosquitoes or to developing malaria.)
Since the sweet potato was crucial to the Patriots ability to function, and since the disruption of the food supply chain was a critical component of the British inability to defend its frontier against the Patriots, I would say that this little tuber has also had a role to play in the formation of the United States! The sweet potato continued to be a staple of the pioneer diet long beyond the time of the Revolutionary War. In records of my own family’s farm dating from the mid 19th Century, sweet potatoes and corn were the two staple food crops, accounting for about 90% of the land under cultivation.
Needless to say, then, sweet potatoes are a significant component of traditional family dinners in the American South. Particularly at Thanksgiving, practically no Southerner considers her table complete without the presence of a casserole made from sweet potatoes. These casseroles generally fall under the category of being sinfully rich — usually mixed with sugar and eggs and cream, then sprinkled on top with a crust and baked so that it resembles a dessert more than a vegetable. (Yum! Just thinking of my Aunt Barbara’s casserole makes me covet her recipe!) But, my goal of cooking yummy food for my family must be tempered with the need for healthiness and nutrition.
Speaking of nutrition, sweet potatoes are packed with it. Because of this, they continue to play a role in nutrition around the globe. One sweet potato, by itself, has only 95 calories but delivers more than twice the daily requirement of Vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are also rich in Vitamin C, manganese, copper, fiber, Vitamin B 6, potassium, and iron. They are often baked and sold by street vendors in China. People purchase them, peel them with their fingers, and eat them as a street food. Indeed, for a tourist concerned about germs in food (food poisoning) sweet potatoes are a pretty safe bet as long as one is sure they are fresh and hot.
In South Carolina, I was only familiar with one kind of tuber we call the "sweet potato," but when I got to China I encountered many, many more varieties. Orange, white, blue, yellow, large and small. Some are sweeter, some more tender, others more starchy. I don’t have a complete sampling, but here are two shots from one food market in Guangzhou:
Indeed, I think I purchased some of those sweet potatoes in the upper photo and used them to make the recipe which I will now give instructions to make — Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole. The good thing about my casserole is that by eliminating some of the animal fat and reducing the sugar, it’s still pretty healthy, yet addition of some vegan butter, fruit, sugar and spice means it’s pretty tasty, too. Because it’s so light and fluffy, I venture to call it Sweet Potato Souffle.
Ingredients: 3 large sweet potatoes (about 1 and 1/2 pounds total), 1 cup fresh, chopped pecans, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup granola, 1/3 cup vegan margarine, 1/2 cup white flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder (preferably Borwicks brand), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 orange, 1 teaspoon vanilla, Egg Replacer equivalent of four eggs.
First, boil three large sweet potatoes until they are soft enough to mash easily with a fork. Use a variety that is large and orange colored. While these potatoes boil, peel an orange and remove the pulp. Then, chop the orange flesh into pieces the size of the tip of your finger.
There is also going to be a topping on top of this casserole. To make this topping, mix 1/3 cup vegan butter, 1/2 cup granola, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup chopped, fresh pecans. Place this mixture aside.
In another bowl, mix together 1/2 cup white flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder (preferably Borwick’s brand), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup pecans. (This will be mixed in with the potatoes after they are mashed.) Set aside.
After the potatoes are soft, mash them with a fork. Add in 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Then, mix up enough "Egg Replacer"* brand powder to make the equivalent of four eggs, and add this into the sweet potatoes. Then add in the oranges, and finally add in the dry ingredients which you had previously set aside. Mix together. If the mixture seems too dry, add some oat or soy milk until it is soft like congealed pudding.
Spread this into a casserole dish, then spread the brown sugar topping over the top of the dish. Finally, bake at 350 degrees F for about 40 minutes or until it has risen and set.
Now, enjoy some good, Patriot roots and tubers!
*If you don’t have access to Egg Replacer, mix 3/4 tsp rice vinegar into some soy milk and use that as a leavening agent. It won’t work as well to lighten the sweet potato, but it will work a small amount. The casserole will still be tasty but just not as fluffy.
9 February 2009
When my daughter became a vegan, I made a commitment that there would always be food on the family table that she could eat.
Thanksgiving that first year was a real challenge. All but a few of our traditional family recipes had animal products in them. Sure, a vegan can eat a veggie wrap, but who wants to eat a veggie wrap all the time, especially at Thanksgiving or Christmas? So, I began to experiment. By stretching my mind and being creative, I gradually developed vegan variations of many of our favorite holiday foods. Even the most creamy, luscious ones!
This year, I realized that some of these recipes were turning out pretty good and even, in a few cases, barely distinguishable from or better than the non-vegan variety. I decided to write down a few of them. Here is my recipe for Vegan cornbread stuffing.
First, make a vegan cornbread. (So, I guess my recipe for vegan cornbread stuffing is going to also include a recipe for vegan cornbread. Two for the price of one!)
The easiest way to make a vegan cornbread is to use a vegan cornbread mix. You may not find a mix that boasts "vegan" on the label, but you can ascertain the ingredients by reading the label. In place of cow milk, substitute soy milk. In place of egg, use a product called Egg Replacer. Here is a photo of the Egg Replacer box:
The only thing tricky about using this product is that you must measure exactly. Mix the powder with the water in exact amounts, and then add this to the mixture last (after the other wet ingredients) just before you bake it.
If you have to make a cornbread from scratch, or if you don’t have access to Egg Replacer product, it’s a bit trickier to make the cornbread but it’s still possible.
Here’s how to make a vegan cornbread from scratch (without a mix and without Egg Replacer):
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F. Take a normal sized (8 inch) skillet, or else a square cake pan that is approximately 8 x 8 x 2 inches, and place 1/4 – 1/3 cup vegan margarine into it. Then, place the pan in the oven to get hot. As it melts, the margarine will coat the bottom of the pan.
Mix together one cup corn meal with one cup white flour. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and about 3 Tablespoons of baking powder. Many cooks put just a bit of sugar into the mixture, but I do not (especially not if the cornbread is for use as stuffing).
Next, mix 1 teaspoon rice vinegar into 1 and a half (1.5) cups of soy milk. Then, using a spoon or rubber spatula, quickly mix the liquid into the flour mixture, stirring just until it’s mixed. Immediately pour the batter into the hot, preheated pan. When using this recipe, time is of the essence because the reaction between the baking powder and the vinegar is what makes the batter rise. You want it to get hot and set quickly, while there are still bubbles in the batter.
Hopefully, the pan will be hot enough that the oil sizzles when you begin to pour the batter into the pan. This makes for a nice crust on the cornbread bottom.
Once poured, place the batter back into the preheated oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for a 10 inch skillet or 25 – 30 minutes for an 8 inch skillet or pan.
The way to tell if a cornbread is done, really, is to look at a couple of different clues. For one, the cornbread should separate a bit from the edge of the pan all the way around. If it hasn’t shrunk back from the edge of the pan at all, then it’s probably not ready. Second, it should rise in the middle. But cornbread (and cakes) will rise before it "sets" in the center, so rising alone is not enough to tell if it’s done enough. If it rises so that it cracks, then you can peek down into the crack to see if it appears to be firm. Third, look at the color and see if it has browned. Fourth, go by the time in terms of having been in the oven for a reasonable amount of time. Fifth, you can insert a knife into the center of the bread. If the knife comes out clean, the cornbread has most likely set and you can take it out.
Whatever you do, however, do not continually open and shut the oven door when you bake. This lets all the heat rush out. Not only do you lose your heat so that you set the cooking time back, but also when the bottom burner comes on repeatedly it will cause your pan to overcook on the bottom. Best to shut the oven door, set the timer, and not look again until the timer goes off.
Okay, let’s assume now that you have a cornbread in the oven. While it’s cooking, dice up 1/2 cup onion and 1/2 cup celery, then saute them together in a skillet or wok. Sauteeing is when you cook something in a little bit of oil at a medium rather than hot temperature, so that it turns translucent but doesn’t turn color. You want these veggies to get translucent but not burnt.
After you’ve done sauteeing the veggies, add in 1/2 cup fresh, chopped pecans. Avoid "last year’s" pecans if at all possible, because pecans do get rancid and it affects their flavor even after a month or two! Next, remove the crust from and then dice up four slices of vegan white bread, and add to the mixture. Put this veggie-bread mixture aside, to be mixed with the cornbread after it comes out of the oven.
When the cornbread is done, let it cool, then crumble it into crumbs. Add 2 teaspoons dried sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, and toss it. Then, add the other ingredients.
This mixture will be rather dry. Add vegetable broth to reach a desired level of moistness. (This is the only flavor difference between this stuffing and non vegan, since the liquid in a traditional stuffing would come from the turkey broth.)
Finally, place into a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees F until brown on top. Considering that you have added an 8 x 8 inch cornbread together with about 2 1/2 cups of other ingredients, this should be enough to fill a fairly large casserole dish! It serves about 8 people. Enjoy!