Sunday, April 26, 2015

BBQ Tempeh

This is a tasty treat I made in a cooking class last week...

Slice the tempeh into thin squares, and then simmer it for twelve minutes in water and a little bit of soy sauce. While the tempeh is cooking, you can make your BBQ sauce. Start with carrot-onion sauce, and then add some barley malt, some balsamic vinegar, a generous pinch of black pepper, and a pinch of cumin. When the tempeh is done simmering, drizzle it with olive oil. Grill it for two minutes on each side. Top it with hot BBQ sauce, garnish with parsley and enjoy...

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Pasta with Creamy Tofu Sauce

This is a dish that I made for a recent macrobiotic cooking class at the Kushi Institute. We avoid dairy in the macrobiotic diet, because too much milk and cheese can lead to health problems. But macrobiotics isn't just brown rice, beans and vegetables. Sometimes we make something fun and familiar like this dish, which is reminiscent of pasta with Alfredo sauce, or macaroni and cheese.

3 cups penne pasta
12 ounces extra firm tofu
2 cups yellow onion, cut into thin quarter-moons (1 medium onion)
3/4 cup carrot matchsticks (1 small carrot)
1/2 cup green peas
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons shoyu
2 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar
pinch of oregano
pinch of black pepper
parsley, for garnish

Cook the penne according to the package instructions. Stir it while it's cooking to prevent sticking. When it's done, strain it out. If you're not ready to put it directly into the sauce, rinse it well with cold water. Rinsing removes some of the excess starch so the pasta doesn’t stick, and it stops the cooking.

To make the tofu sauce:
Cut the tofu into one-inch cubes, and then simmer it in boiling water for five minutes. Put tofu, oregano, black pepper, shoyu, ume vinegar, and water into a blender and purée until smooth.

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan on a medium flame. Add onions and sauté for about five minutes. If the onions start to stick, add some water. Add the carrots and peas and sauté for about two minutes, or until the carrots start to turn tender and sweet. Add the tofu sauce and cook together for about a minute. Add the penne, mix, and cook together for another minute or so. Place in a serving dish, garnish with parsley, and enjoy. Serves four.

Thanks to Anna Aeschlimann for taking notes and helping with this post.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Polenta Pizza, 2014 Summer Conference

It was my great pleasure to teach at the 2014 Kushi Institute Macrobiotic Summer Conference in beautiful Becket, Massachusetts. I gave about a dozen classes during the two-week conference, and the most popular one was on vegan pizza making. I showed how to make autumn pizzasummer pizza, and a gluten-free pizza with a polenta crust.

1 cup polenta
3 cups water
1 teaspoon oregano
pinch of sea salt
olive oil

Bring water up to a boil. Stir in salt and oregano. Whisk in the polenta. Lower the flame and stir until the polenta is cooked. Follow the directions on the package. I use Bob’s Red Mill organic polenta, which has a cooking time of five minutes. Spoon cooked polenta into two oiled nine-inch pie pans and spread it out evenly. Set these aside and let them cool.

Carrot-onion topping
2 cups red onion, sliced into thin half-moons (about one onion)
1 cup carrot matchsticks (about one small carrot)
1/2 cup mochi, grated
1 tablespoon umeboshi vinegar

Mix the onions and the umeboshi vinegar. Water sauté the onions until they are a bit tender. Stir in the carrot matchsticks. Add three tablespoons of water. When the water boils, stir the grated mochi into the vegetables and simmer for another minute or two. Remove from heat and set aside.

Tempeh-mushroom topping
2 ounces tempeh
3 crimini mushrooms
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons brown rice miso
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
olive oil

Cut the tempeh into four pieces. Steam tempeh for 15-20 minutes. Chop the tempeh, mushrooms and garlic and mix with the miso, thyme, vinegar and pepper. Sauté this mixture in two tablespoons of olive oil. If it begins to stick, you can add a little water. Sauté until it is golden brown, and then set aside.

Lightly oil a sauté pan big enough to accommodate one of the the polenta crusts. Heat the pan over a medium-low flame. Slide the polenta out of the pie pan and into the sauté pan. Spread half of the sautéed carrots and onions over the polenta. Top with half of the crumbled tempeh and mushroom mix. Cover the pan for the first few minutes to warm the toppings, and then uncover and keep the polenta frying in the pan until it is crispy on the bottom. Gently slide the pie out of the pan onto a cutting board, garnish with fresh basil, slice into six pieces and serve. Repeat with the second polenta crust and the other half of the toppings.

If you're feeling brave, you can flip the polenta in the pan and brown both sides of the crust before you top it. Also, you can bake or grill this pie like regular pizza.

On the day after pizza-making, I gave a class on sourdough bread. I showed how to make dough that can be used for pizza crusts, pan loaves or free-form loaves.

This is a round loaf we baked inside a cast-iron dutch oven.

Another conference highlight for me was teaching one of my favorite subjects: pickle making.

We made (clockwise, from top) shoyu onion pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi. We also made tofu no miso zuke.

It was a fun conference. I enjoyed teaching, and attending classes by other teachers. It was great to be among friends from the macrobiotic community. And it was great to see the natural beauty of the Berkshires in summer...

Photos by Chris Jenkins and Claire Johnson.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pressed Cucumber Salad

Pressed salad is light and refreshing. It's not quite raw, and it's not quite pickled. The veggies are tossed with a little bit of salt, and then pressed to make them tender and tasty. The salt goes in, and sweet juices come out.

This is a simple pressed salad made with cucumbers and red radishes. Slice the vegetables fairly thin. Sprinkle on a little bit of umeboshi vinegar, which supplies salt and a little sourness. Toss the veggies and vinegar together, and massage them gently. Put them in a pickle press, or under a plate with a weight on top. Let the salad press for about an hour. Remove salad from the press, and taste. If it tastes salty, rinse it in cold water. Sprinkle on a little bit of lemon juice, toss, and serve. It's a nice side dish for a summer meal.

Another one of my favorites is pressed salad with cabbage, turnips and pickled shiso.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Vegetable Kakiage

Kakiage is a style of Japanese tempura. Tempura is any battered and deep-fried vegetable or fish. Kakiage is a light, crispy handful of vegetable sticks coated with batter and fried until golden brown. Traditionally, chopped shrimp is included. This is a vegan recipe using shiitake mushrooms instead of shrimp. When I deep-fry at home, I like to use a heavy cast-iron pot. You will need about a quart of safflower oil. As long as you don't burn it or fry fish in it, you can re-use this oil a few times.

1/2 cup carrot matchsticks
1/2 cup burdock matchsticks 
1/2 cup yellow onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup green beans, sliced thin, diagonally
2 shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 quart safflower oil, for deep-frying
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup tempura batter (see below)
tempura dipping sauce (see below)
grated daikon

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder

2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon shoyu
1 teaspoon mirin
pinch of grated fresh ginger

Simmer the shiitakes and water together in a covered saucepan for 2 minutes. Remove the mushrooms. You can use these mushrooms in your kakiage. Add the shoyu and mirin and simmer for another minute. Add a pinch of grated ginger and set aside.

Begin heating the oil in a heavy pot over a medium-high flame. While it’s heating up, toss your vegetables together with 2 tablespoons of whole wheat pastry flour. Add 3/4 cup of tempura batter and mix throughly. When the oil comes up to 350ºF (180ºC) you can begin deep-frying. Pick up a loose “bird’s nest” of batter-coated vegetables about the size of your palm, and gently place it into the hot oil. Depending on the size of your pot, you can fry 2 to 4 pieces at a time. Don’t crowd them. Fry the nests until they are golden brown, about two minutes on each side. Serve with grated daikon and dipping sauce.

Yield: six four-inch pieces.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ginger Cookies

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup safflower oil
1/4 cup barley malt
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Dry ingredients:
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of sea salt

Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Whisk all of the wet ingredients together. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together to make a uniform dough. Roll dough out onto a cutting board, and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Oil a cookie sheet, or use parchment paper. Transfer the cut-out cookies onto the baking pan. You can make smiles on your cookies with the rim of a round spoon. Bake cookies for 15 minutes, remove them from the oven and let cool.

Makes about 30 cookies

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Seeded Rye Bread

Rye flour is a bit tricky to work with. It has a lower gluten content than wheat flour. Wheat flour plus water forms a nice elastic dough, but rye flour plus water makes paste. Bread made with all rye tends to be heavy and dark. If you want to make a relatively light rye bread for sandwiches, you need to add wheat flour. I make one that is 70% wheat and 30% rye, with a combination of fine and coarse rye flours and caraway seeds.

375g water
350g white all-purpose flour
130g regular rye flour
20g coarse rye flour
150g sourdough starter
15g caraway seeds
5g sea salt

Mix the water and starter. Combine the wheat and rye flours, and add them to the water and starter. Mix thoroughly. Once you make a uniform dough, cover with a kitchen towel and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Add the salt and the seeds, and then turn the dough, stretching it and folding it over. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 4 hours, or until it begins to visibly increase in size. If you have time, gently turn the dough a few times during this first rise.

Next, shape the dough into a tight ball. Turn it out onto a lightly floured cutting board. Stretch and fold it onto itself a few times. Turn it over, and then pull it toward you across the board to tighten up the surface. Give it a quarter turn on the board and pull it toward yourself again. Do this four times and you should have a nice round ball. Let it rest for 30 minutes, and then repeat. Turn the dough ball into a basket or a bowl lined with a flour-dusted cloth. Let it rise another 4 - 5 hours.

Pre-heat your oven to 400ºF (205ºC). Use a pizza stone if you have one. When your oven is hot, turn the dough over and slit the top with a razor. Slide it onto the stone or into an oiled pan, and bake it for 40 - 45 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool completely. Slice and enjoy...