Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kabocha & Baby Bok Choy Halloween Pizza

This year for Halloween, I decided to use Japanese pumpkin or Kabocha squash for a dish. This strange pizza combo of roasted Kabocha, baby Bok Choy  and a little creamy Havarti turned out to be delicious!  A nice change from pumpkin soup and everyone liked it.

Here's the weird recipe:
8 oz pizza dough
1/4 Kabocha, sliced into thin wedges
toasted sesame oil
brown rice vinegar
2 baby Bok Choy
1/2 garlic clove
sesame oil
soy sauce
Havarti cheese
sesame seeds

Preheat oven with pizza stone to 425 F degrees.  Place sliced Kabocha onto a foil lined baking sheet. Combine the toasted sesame oil and brown rice vinegar and brush the Kabocha slices. Add salt and place in oven.  Cook for 10 minutes, then turn slices, brush again, and cook an additional 5-10 minutes.

Cut the end of the baby Bok Choy and saute with minced garlic and sesame oil. Add a little soy sauce and remove from heat as soon as the leaves begin to wither.

Roll out the pizza dough on a floured board.  Grate a little Havarti cheese onto the crust and place the thin roasted slices of Kabocha on the pizza. Add the sauted Bok Choy and top with a little more grated Havarti. Brush the edges with toasted sesame oil and top with sesame seeds. Sprinkle the pizza with sesame seeds. Bake for about 12 minutes until crust is firm.

p.s. Next time, I might add an egg on top of this pizza.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tofu Eggdrop Soup

I was inspired to try my hand at Tofu Eggdrop Soup because my daughter and I have taken a liking to one at our local Vietnamese restaurant. I find their version a little heavy on the cornstarch and a little bland, so decided to create a version that suits my palate.  This version was made with peas and spinach, but you can use any vegetables that appeal.  I made a different version last night with broccoli and carrots.  It's a dish you can feel 100% great about eating and serving, because it's low-fat and packed with protein.  Plus, it only takes 15-20 minutes to prepare. 

Tofu Eggdrop Soup:
1/2 small white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced (1 clove is used with the mushrooms)
1 tsp ginger, peeled and minced
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 cups vegetable stock
4 oz crimini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
7 oz tofu, cut into small cubes (I used Wildwood Sprouted Medium)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups vegetables of your choice, cut small
1 egg

Soy sauce to taste

Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion and 1 minced garlic clove for 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are starting soften. Add the ginger and cook 2 more minutes. Add the vegetable stock and toasted sesame oil and bring to a boil. 

In a separate saute pan, heat 1 tsp of oil and add 1 minced garlic clove.  Cook for 1 minute, then add the sliced mushrooms. Cook over medium high heat until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper.

When the soup comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and add the mushrooms and any harder vegetables you are using (carrots, broccoli etc). Add the frozen peas and simmer for 5-6 minutes, so the vegetable still have some bite. If you are using spinach, wait until the last minute to add. Two minutes before your vegetable are going to be done, add the cubed tofu.  Beat the egg in a separate container.  Pour the egg from about 8 inches above the saucepan, while stirring the soup with energy. Add soy sauce to taste and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Millennium Cooking Class: September 2012

Last weekend, I enjoyed my 23rd cooking class at Millennium, San Francisco's incredible vegan restaurant. Executive Chef extraordinaire Eric Tucker reduced the number of dishes we made this time around and focused more on technique. I have to say, I love to cook,and I love dedicating my time for those Sunday classes where I'm learning to create more complexity.  But the truth is, my style is to prepare simple, really great tasting food in short order that that makes me seem like a culinary genius. This class really spoke to that! I made two variations of the class dishes the following day, so I think there's a lot to be said for simplicity and contentment.  

Pictured above, a quick Pickled Cucumber and Cherry Tomato Mint Salad with Diced Apple and a Brown Rice Vinegar-Sesame Oil Dressing. The trick here is to combine those little Japanese/Persian cucumbers with salt (3 small cucumbers to 1 tsp salt), then squeeze out the extra liquid.  Use the same technique to create the simple cucumber salad with red onion and mirin commonly available in Asian restaurants.

I'm a big believer in small plates with lots of complex flavors, so I was delighted to work on Socca (chickpea flour flatbreads) with a variety of tasty sides, including the most incredible Smokey Eggplant Spread (recipe to follow), Piperade

and a delicious Picada of toasted hazelnuts, garlic, baguette and pulla chile:

The class also covered two additional doughs: Asian Dumplings with Ma La Oil, Tomato Carpaccio and Toasted Shallots with Toasted Peanuts:

And Ravioli Pasta stuffed with Tomato Greens and Tofu Cheese with Tomato Confit:

The spectacular dessert: Cardamom Panna Cotta with Caramelized Pear and Candied Chiles:

Here's a close-up of the Socca with the Smokey Eggplant-Garlic spread:

The Smokey Eggplant dish is definitely something you're going to want to try.  Super flavorful as a dip with crackers or as a sandwich spread, and pretty darn easy. Here's the recipe:

Smokey Eggplant-Garlic Spread:

2 Globe Eggplant
8 cloves garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil as needed
Salt, Pepper & Lemon Juice to taste

Place eggplant over your gas grill or BBQ and char, turning as needed. To avoid cleaning your stove, when the eggplant starts releasing liquid, finish it off on a foil-covered pan under the broiler.  Go for maximum char effect. Saute the garlic cloves in olive oil to 50% char. Combine one of the charred eggplants (skin and all) with the other ingredients in the blender and puree until smooth. Chop the remaining eggplant (just the flesh) and stir into the puree.

As always, many thanks to Eric, Thomas and Ann for a wonderful cooking class. Also, thanks to Marie, a (rare) French vegan who has worked at Michelin star restaurants in France, for her expert guidance.  And thanks to my awesome classmates! Hope to see you again!

Here's links to the previous 22 Millennium cooking classes I've had the pleasure of attending:

  • Chile Class 2011

  • July 2011 Class

  • Mushroom Cooking Class January 2011

  • Sept.2010 Cooking Class

  • July 2010 Cooking Class

  • June 2010 Cooking Class

  • Spring Cooking Class 2010
  • Chiles Cooking Class 2009

  • July Cooking Class 2009

  • June Cooking Class 2009

  • Spring Cooking Class 2009

  • Mushroom Cooking Class

  • Holiday Cooking Class

  • Fall Harvest 2008

  • Indian Summer

  • Southern Comfort Cooking Class

  • Spring Cooking Class

  • Fall Harvest Cooking Class

  • Chiles Class

  • Tomato Class