Saturday, September 26, 2009

the eggplant challenge

Sneaking in just under the deadline, here's my submission for the Eggplant Challenge over at Grown in Frederick.

Pardon the not-so-stellar photos - I can't believe I don't have a shot of the raw vegetable. Eggplants are so photogenic too... It's a pity.

But this dish is no slacker - and cooks up in a flash once all the ingredients are prepped. (As the poorly lit photos allude, I whipped this up late one evening after work - the anticipation of actually eating being far more a concern than the photos at that point...)
Tempeh stands in for the more traditional ground pork here* and the eggplant lends its sweetness to this moderately spicy little dish.

Eggplant and Tempeh in a Chili Garlic Sauce

(inspired by the recipe for Eggplant with Spicy Garlic Sauce over Rice in Chinese Rice and Noodles)


2 Tb. coconut oil
2 Tb. garlic, minced
2 Tb. fresh ginger root, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green portions), plus more for serving
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
8 oz. tempeh
1 Lb. eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1 1/2 inch pieces
4 Tb. low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. Shaoxing wine (or sherry)
2 tsp. granulated sugar
4 Tb. water (or stock)
1/2 Tb. cornstarch

Combine the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sugar, water, and cornstarch in a small bowl, whisking to incorporate the cornstarch smoothly. Set aside. Place a wok or large stir-fry pan over high heat, and when quite hot, add the oil followed by the garlic, ginger, and chili garlic sauce. Cook just until fragrant - only about 3o seconds. Add the crumbled tempeh and continue to stir fry until golden. Add the eggplant and cook until it is meltingly tender - about 10 minutes more - adjusting the heat as necessary to avoid burning. To the fully cooked eggplant and golden tempeh, add the soy sauce mixture (give it a stir just before adding to loosen any cornstarch that may have separated) and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently for a minute or two until the sauce has thickened to the desired consistency (more water/stock may be added to produce a thinner sauce). Serve hot over jasmine rice and garnish with additional sliced scallions.

Thanks to the gals over at Grown in Frederick for putting this challenge together!

*For another take on using tempeh as a substitute for minced meat in Asian cooking see this post which put the notion in my mind...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

waking up productive - making virtuous pancakes

On September weekends I'm waking with the sun, marveling at the thick fog that envelops our tiny riverside town so early, and tucking cold toes into fleece-lined slippers to patter around the kitchen. Autumn is early this year - like a surprise party you began to suspect, but wouldn't let yourself believe until you saw a driveway full of familiar cars (sidewalks peppered with acorns, leaves already beginning to fall!).
With the morning chill comes vigor - waking up productive - and a hunger for something of substance, something virtuous.
Heidi's Wild Rice Flour Pancakes (with twists)
(from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking)


1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup wild rice flour (or roughly 2 heaping tablespoons wild rice blend ground to a powder in a spice grinder)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup (heaping) applesauce (to make your own, peel, core and chop 1 large apple and cook it down to a mush with 2 tablespoons water and a scant tablespoon of sugar)
2 1/4 cups buttermilk (I used a buttermilk powder made for baking (5 tablespoons) along with approximately 2 cups of water instead of the buttermilk)
1 cup cooked wild rice
butter or oil for frying, if desired (I use a non-stick skillet and find I don't need any butter or oil)

Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. To the flour mixture, add the melted butter, applesauce, and enough buttermilk to make the batter (use more buttermilk if you prefer thinner pancakes, less if you prefer thicker) - mix only until just combined.
Heat a skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Pour 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot skillet and sprinkle a tablespoon of the wild rice over the top. Wait until the edges begin to look dry and the batter is bubbling, then flip and cook just another minute or two, until golden. Repeat with the remaining batter and rice - you should have about a dozen pancakes with this recipe.

Serve hot with the usual accompaniments, or do as I did and eat them plain right of the plate with your fingers - they are that good.

*As the summer wanes and fall is upon us, it's time to make the most of what's left of the late summer crop - next up is the Grown in Frederick eggplant challenge!*

Saturday, September 12, 2009

eating purple cauliflower

I steamed the purple cauliflower,
and then, as suggested, made a version of Mostly Eating's recipe for Vivid Cauliflower and White Bean Puree (the timing for which could not have been better!).
Using a few scoops of leftover white beans which had been cooked in their liquid with some sauteed leeks and fennel in place of the canned butter beans, and swapping a bit of chevre (only about 2 oz.) for the tahini (as that's what was on hand), we served it up on some grilled rosemary bread and scattered the tops with a few snips of chives. We ate it alongside small bowls of chunky tomato soup, curled on the sofa, quite contented. It really was the perfect thing for the cool, early fall evening.
Thanks to both Lucy and Sophie for the inspired suggestion and the perfectly-timed recipe!

Monday, September 7, 2009


Just puttering today -
Simmering a big pot of white beans (inspired by this),
baking a pretty pear pie (as found here),
and wondering, incidentally, what to do with this:
a forgotten graffiti cauliflower, discovered while prepping the garden for fall planting...
Isn't she a beauty - and purportedly pink when cooked! Anyone have a recipe that would suit such a pretty specimen?