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What to do with a bunch of dill

DSCN4703I got lucky this morning at the market – dill!  Like most produce here, dill is seasonal.  So if you wanted some fresh dill to put in salad dressing, soup, or another dish you’re out of luck.  Dill is only sold here in the winter months.  Which, even though it’s near 80 today I was able to find 🙂  I’m not a huge fan of the stir-fried dill dishes here, they are a bit on the strong side for me – where you take this whole bunch, chop it up and fry it with garlic.  很好吃

Yeah.

Instead, wash and chop the dill into 1″ slices, dump into a ziplock bag, and freeze.  Pull out a few pieces or a chunk as needed.  Here’s my favorite fresh dill recipe too:

Vibrant Tasty Green Beans

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Lasagna

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One of my favorite dishes during high school.  My mom’s lasagna 🙂  Not made when I was younger for obvious reasons – you had to make your own spaghetti sauce, lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese and tofu.  Not something that happened often at our house.  These items just weren’t available in West Africa in the ’80s.  When my husband went gluten free, there didn’t seem to be much point in cooking lasagna, most store bought noodles disintegrated in the sauce and everything was weird and mushy.  When I came across Shauna’s website, I discovered lots of great recipes and ideas.  One of which was her gluten free noodle recipe.  Wonderful!  I loved it.  I think I wrote about it somewhere on here before.  Anyway it got me thinking about what I could use it for.  Lasagna came to mind one rainy Saturday morning.  I collected my ingredients and was in love.  Lasagna again!  I think our whole family inhaled it the first day it was made.  One lonely piece was left over until the next day.  Unfortunately it did not survive inspection.  It was too firm and barely edible.    不好吃.  I’ve since messed with the recipe, and now I think I’ve got it where I want it.  🙂

Lasagna

1 batch of noodles from glutenfreegirl (see above).  I don’t have garbonzo bean flour or millet flour.  I used buckwheat and rice flour with the potato starch.  Ground flax in place of the psyllium husk powder.  It does fleck the dough with brown, but I don’t mind that.

1 bunch of mushrooms.  About 2 cups, chopped small so the kids don’t freak out.

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce.  (About 36 oz)

1 can sliced olives

1 tsp. ground fennel

16 oz. soft tofu, crumbled with your hand into small chunks

Cheddar Cheese and Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

1.  Make your noodle dough.  Let rest while you work on the sauce.  Make sure it’s not too soft.  Add water a little at a time.  You want a stiff dough that can still roll out without cracking.  Reminder – this is fresh noodle dough, you don’t need to boil it before putting it in the pan, the sauce will cook it while in the oven.

lasagna1

2.  Saute your mushrooms, garlic and fennel in oil or ghee as you prefer.

3.  When done, pour spaghetti sauce over the mushrooms.  Add the olives.  Let simmer on low for about 10-15 minutes, just to incorporate the flavors.  Don’t add extra salt anywhere!  The cheese and olives will be salty enough as it is.

4.  In a 9×13 pan layer like you do any other lasagna recipe:  sauce, soft tofu pieces, cheese, noodles on top.  (disregard photo of noodles above- I forgot to put sauce on the bottom first.)  Finish with a last layer of noodles, with cheese on top.

5.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 30-40 minutes, until all is bubbly and smelling good.  Cool, and serve.

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新年快樂! Happy Chinese New Year

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Chinese New Year is my favorite time of year here in Taiwan.  Everyone leaves the city to visit another city, or relatives in the country.  The world is QUIET.  In a city of 2.6 million people, I can’t hear a thing.  It’s wonderous.  Which brings me to choosing oranges and tangerines, this season’s finest.  I haven’t gotten pictures of all the oranges offered here yet, but let me tell you there are quite a few.  Pictured above is a tangerine with loose skin.  It’s so sweet you’d think they added extra sugar 🙂  My favorite at the moment.  These tangerines are 4-5 in. in diameter, and you want to choose one with no soft spots/discolored spots.  The skin should not be tight to the fruit, but slightly loose.  You’ll see what I mean if you feel a couple.  新年快樂!  Enjoy the silence with some tangerines.

“Meatballs”

I’m not sure what the obsession is to create “meat” when you don’t eat meat… I do it because plain spaghetti is boring sometimes.  Or you need something more, in this case beans and rice (rice noodles) make up a complete protein, so yes “meatballs” indeed.  I usually use whatever beans I have on hand, soaking them overnight and sprouting them if I plan ahead 🙂  Here I just soaked them over night and finished them off in my rice cooker in the morning.  Don’t have a rice cooker??  Seriously?  What do you eat?  These things are awesome.  You can steam, “bake” and make rice of course in them.  Mine is the famous Taiwan brand – Tatung.

So cooked beans to start with.  For “meatballs”, I prefer to undercook my beans slightly.  I like a bit of texture.  Otherwise cook them until they are mush.  Each method will achieve a different end result – crumbly or smooth.  About the beans: I like the above kind… (I don’t know what kind that is) or soy beans, red beans or kidney beans.  Chick peas tend to produce a different type of product, usually nuttier and dryer.  Soy beans can be a bit bitter, so I often mix my soy beans with other beans I have on hand.

“Meatballs”

2 c. cooked beans

1 egg ( I haven’t made these egg free yet…)

1/4 c. parsley

1/2 c. Parmesan

2 garlic cloves

2-3 TB red wine

1 tsp. basil

1/2 tsp. salt

pepper

1.  If your beans are a bit crunchy still, grind them in batches in your grinder thingy.  If they are mushy, mash with a potato masher.

2.  Grind up the egg and the garlic cloves together.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well, then use your hands to mix well together.

3.  Scoop out 2-3 TB and form into balls.  In the picture above I used a mini muffin pan, and filled it up.  That’s the whole recipe there, but these balls were a bit big for me.  In the future I think I’ll make them smaller and cook up 2 batches.

4.  Bake at 375 F on a greased pan or mini muffin tin for 20-30 minutes until dry.

5.  Toss with your prepared spaghetti of choice.

Serves 4-6

Trying New Things

I’ve been negligent in posting recently… too many birthdays, illnesses, and it’s too hot to cook!  One thing I’ve been enjoying lately are some Indian recipes from Chef In You.  I made some dosas, which turned out great.  Don’t know if they were authentic or not, but they were serious easy to make, no fuss.  They are really easy to mess around with too.  I tried split peas and rice with paprika, and they were awesome.  I’m thinking of a sweet breakfasty crepe version soon…

Another recipe I tried recently was fried taro.  Taro is so common here, and is usually eaten as a dessert or in hot pot.  I don’t mind either, but I’m not crazy about taro served that way.  This baked taro?  Yes.  Crazy about, though they are a tad dry.  And yes, I mangled the recipe.  I used the gargantuan Chinese ones sold here; steamed, took the skins off, chopped them and coated mine in 1 TB rice flour, 1 TB cornstarch, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp paprika, and 1 tsp garlic.  Tossed them all together with some coconut oil, and fried them.  Do you have a favorite way of cooking taro?

Quick Curry

One of my favorite dishes is curry, it’s simple and easy.  My most favorite one is this one.  Coconut milk, curry powder and split peas are a match made in heaven…

Unfortunately my husband wants to steer away from coconut milk.  (sigh)  I came up with this one one night when I didn’t have much in the cupboard, and was looking for a simple meal.  The secret ingredients here are the cashews.  Don’t leave them out!  If you do, you might as well make the recipe with coconut milk or yogurt.  The cashews just add a nice smoothness to this recipe.  Did I mention it’s EASY?  真的?

Curry

1 carrot, diced

1 onion, diced

1 tomato, diced

1 c. raw cashews

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. mild curry powder

oil

Chop everything up, throw it all in a sauce pan with some oil.  Let it cook off the liquid a bit, then add about 2 c. water.  Cover and simmer until everything’s soft, about 30 minutes.  Check to make sure the cashews and carrots are soft.  Turn off the heat and let it cool for 30 minutes, then puree in the blender.  Serve over rice with bananas, raisins, coconut flakes and cilantro. 好吃 🙂

Vegetarian Tamales

I really miss Mexican-American food when I live in other countries.  For some reason I was thinking about tamales the other day, so I looked up how to make them online.  Unfortunately all the recipes called for masa harina (not sold here), flour, and beef or chicken.  Well, I like to try things out my own way.  Masa harina is ground white corn, and I thought it can’t be that different from cornmeal…except that cornmeal’s gritty.  I came up with the following recipe on my first try.  It was amazing!  The husband loved it.  The kids…not so much.  We make it anyway.

Vegetarian Tamales

Dough

1 c. yellow cornmeal (I found mine at Bakery Supply in the freezer)

1/3 c. oil

2 c. water

1 tsp. salt

Place in a sauce pan.  Cook on medium-high until all the liquid’s used up.  Cover and let sit until cool, about 30 minutes.  Proceed with your filling.

Filling

1 sweet potato, skinned and chopped small (I prefer the yellow variety, but orange yams work fine as well)

1 onion, chopped small

1 c. chopped mushrooms (I think I used button mushrooms here)

1 tomato, chopped small

1/2 can black olives, cut in half

4 garlic cloves, minced or sliced

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

1 TB oil

Toss it all in a frying pan.  Cook until the liquid’s used up.  Add 1 c. water, cover and simmer on low until the water is all gone, and the potatoes are soft.  About 20 minutes.  Set aside until you’re ready with the dough.

Dough Continued

By now your cornmeal should be firm and cool to the touch.  Crumble it up with your hands and add:

2 eggs (I make mine egg free = 2 tsp ground flax and 1/3 c. water)

3/4 c. buckwheat flour

1/2 c. cornstarch

1 tsp ground flax seed

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Mix this well by hand.  It will be quite sticky and the consistency of playdough.  Using parchment paper or banana leaves: take about 1/2 c. of the dough, roll it out to 1/4 inch thick on the parchment in a rectangular shape.  Place 1/3 c. of the filling in the center.  Pull up the top and the bottom, and pinch the dough together.  Roll the dough to the top.  Grab both sides of the roll and squeeze gently together.  Twist the ends.  Place in your steamer and steam for 20-30 minutes.  Serve with salsa and sour cream.  I ran out of parchment paper, so made a tamale pie in a ceramic bowl.  This recipe usually makes about 8 rolls.  Serves 4.