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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tasty Tofu Wontons!

wonton header

This is a quick recipe I wanted to share. I will not go into too much detail, as I'm tired and in serious need of a nap or as we say here in the hollow 'siest'. I can quickly say though that this treat is fun albeit involved to prepare along with being absolutely delicious. The recipe is also vegan, hence there is no cholesterol/trans fats. And this treat is low in saturated fat despite being fried.

Tofu Stuffed Wonton
7 oz. Firm Organic Tofu (drained & pressed w/ paper towels)*
1 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce
1/2 Tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
1/2-1 Tsp. Sriracha Sauce
1/2 Tsp. Fish Sauce (optional)
1 Tbsp. Scallion (minced)
1 Tsp. Dried Minced Onion
1/2 Tsp. Cumin Powder
1/4 Tsp. Turmeric
Pinch or Two Salt
1-48 Count package of Twin Marquis Vegan Wontons or
your preferred wonton thawed.

*If you are new to tofu, it needs to be pressed with absorbent paper towels to remove some of the excess liquid.

In a bowl, break down the pressed tofu into a meal like texture. Then add the remaining 9 ingredients except the wontons and stir to properly mix. Place in the fridge.

Make a vegan egg by mixing 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch with 2 Tbsp. water. Use a brush to wet the edges of the wontons with the vegan egg mix, place about 1-1 1/2 Tsp. of tofu in the center of each wonton. Fold into a triangle ensuring that the edges are sealed (also avoid air pockets). Then take one wet corner and fold it over the other to create desired shape. Again ensure the corners are sealed against each other.

See how they're folded, Dearies?

Pan sear the wontons in about 1-2 tbsp. oil at medium heat for about 1 min on each side. Note-if the oil is too hot, the wontons will burn and, if it is too low, they will be greasy.

Place hot fried wontons on a paper towel and salt. I serve this with low sodium soy sauce mixed with sriracha and a few drops of toasted sesame oil and it is wicked awesome (smile)...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sunflower Seed Pesto

Are you 'cheap', Dearies?

Well, I have to admit that I have heard this adjective to describe all that is Stella Witch quite a few times in the last ten years, which is about as long as I've been an adult. This may have something to do with the fact that I've worked in restaurants since I was 14 years old, and pretty much paid my way through life from a very young age. It could also be due to my loathing of the concept of debt, as I don't want to have that weight over my head of owing someone or some company money. Though I do like to have a credit card on hold for emergencies and such, but that's another topic...

Being that I am 'cheap' and admittedly so, I must say that I still do want quality in the items I must purchase whether it be a new sofa or simply the fish I'm looking at through the glass of my local fishmonger. So when it comes to things I love like basil pesto, you all might have already guessed that pine nuts and walnuts are not a topic about which I'm too enthused, at least in reference to their price per pound. Even conventional pine nuts cost an arm and a leg, and I don't even want to think about the prices on organic pine and walnuts.

So my answer to this is sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds have a similar nutty and delicious flavor when toasted much like pine nuts. And at least in my part of the world, cost about $2 pound. They are also super rich in linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), vitamin E, B vitamins, minerals, and even cholesterol lowering phytosterols! Yes, they are healthful, delicious, and CHEAP. And guess what? They work great in pesto!

Ooh, and if you're really cheap like me, grow your own basil. It grows out of control in sunny regions!

Sunflower Basil Pesto
2 Cups Fresh Basil
2/3 Cups Toasted, Unsalted Sunflower Seeds
2-3 Cloves Garlic
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Black Pepper to Taste

In a food processor, place the basil, sunflower seeds, garlic cloves, and cheese. Pulse a few times or till you get a very course meal. Then, slowly pour the olive oil in while pulsing till you get your desired texture. I leave mine a bit course, but feel free to break it down as you like.

Serve immediately over pasta, grilled meats, bread, etc. For pasta, this is enough pesto for 4 servings...

Enjoy, my Lovelies!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mazaher Cocktail

mazaher cocktail

'Mazaher' is the Arabic word for orange blossom water. Much like rosewater (maward), Mazaher is a fragrant water made from the distilled blossoms of Seville Oranges. If you have never had the very good fortune of walking by a Seville orange tree in full bloom, Dearies, then what you are missing is a pungent, sweet fragrance that I often think of as honey suckle combined with a hint of citrus amongst other unidentifiable essences. A beautiful and unforgettable experience in olfactory pleasure!

This cocktail is made with this water or 'ma' along with cinnamon, lemon, orange, agave and aged rum. It is so refreshing and delicious that I became more than a bit tipsy from drinking this today, and I can't even explain how delicious it was running past the rim lined with salt, sugar and cinnamon before entering my gullet!

Orange Blossom Cocktail
1/2 Cup Golden Rum
1 1/2 Cups Fresh O.J.
3/4-1 Tsp. Mazaher
2 Tbsp. Agave/Simple Syrup
1/2 lemon (squeezed)
Pinch or Two Cinnamon

In a pitcher, combine the above ingredients and stir till thoroughly mixed. Shake in a drink mixer with ice to chill or simply pour over ice. Serves 2.

Salty Sweet Rim
On a plate, mix two tbsp. sugar, 1/2 Tsp. Salt and 1/8-1/4 Tsp Cinnamon. Roll wet glass rims through the mix. Then place ice in glasses and pour in desired drink.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Coconut Milk & Brown Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is something that I've always looked forward to whenever I eat at Latin American, Turkish and Thai restaurants. The styles and rice types used are often different, but there is always a certain satisfaction that I get from eating rice pudding. Rich and creamy with flavors of vanilla, sometimes jasmine, cardamom, raisin, apricot and the like always satisfy.

My health issue with this dish is the combination of white rice (hull/fiber removed) and sugar, which always leaves me with a heavy feeling in my stomach and a feeling of guilt in my mind. I just know I've done no service to my blood sugar or the other systems of my body. So this recipe is my answer to the health dilemma.

I know it may seem like I'm riding the coconut fad judging by recent posts. Being a fan of vegan foods though, I can assure you that this is not the case. Coconut milk is a staple in my pantry, and hopefully will be or is in yours too. Especially since delicious stuff like this can be made with it (smile)!

Coconut Milk & Brown Rice Pudding
2 1/4 Cups Precooked Short Grain Brown Rice
1 3/4 Cups Coconut Milk (1 14 oz. Can)*
1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp. Soy or Dairy Milk
4-5 Tbsp. Agave Syrup
1 1/4 Tbsp. Corn Starch
3-4 Tbsp. Raisins/Dried Apricot
1 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
Cinnamon for garnish

In a pan, place the coconut milk, soy milk and agave syrup-mix. Turn the heat up and whisk in the corn starch. Place the precooked rice and fruit in the milk and bring to a low simmer. Once the mixture begins to simmer, allow it to do so for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla. Place in dishes, sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve warm (or chill for an hour & a half before serving). Serves 4.
*I used regular coconut milk, not light.


P.S. This is not a low fat dish, Dearies. However, it is cholesterol & trans fat free. It is also full of natural fats and very high in fiber amongst other vital nutrients...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sweet Potato Cupcakes & Strawberries

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Cream & Berries

Hello my lovelies!

These are some cupcakes I made today for my and Cauldron Boy's friend, Alessandro, who takes his food quite seriously. And speaking of seriousness in food, I know this cupcake's highlighted ingredient is not seasonal to my subtropical hollow right now, Dearies. But I had a can of organic sweet potato that I did not want to fall to the way side if you know what I mean-waste not, want not!

The moment the boys took bites out of these cupcakes this kitchen witch heard:

Cauldron Boy-"Oh my Gosh, sugary goodness. This is so delicious!"

Alessandro-"This muffin has like the perfect moistness & texture"

Note that Alex called this a muffin. I meant for it to be a cake. Not that there is necessarily any defining difference between the batters that produce muffins and cakes!? Either way, this treat is absolutely moist and delicious with subtle flavors of sweet potato and molasses from the turbinado sugar. The actual batter is also cholesterol and trans fat free along with being low in saturated fat. So this is a treat that is delicious while also having some redeeming qualities and that's always nice...

Sweet Potato Cupcakes
1 1/2 Cup Organic A.P. Flour
3/4 Cup Turbinado Sugar
1/8 Tsp. Salt
1 1/4 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Cup Vanilla Soy Milk+1 Tsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/3 Cup Mashed Sweet Potato*
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees & spray a muffin tin with Pam. Mix soy milk with vinegar & set aside.

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt and mix thoroughly. Create a well and place the oil, milk, potato, and vanilla in the center. Mix gently till combined and homogeneous-do not over mix. Pour into the prepared muffin tin and allow to bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes. Cool completely if icing or enjoy hot with fruit, syrup, and butter! Makes about 8 regular size muffins.
*I used canned, organic sweet potato.

P.S.-I apologize for the picture lighting. The subtropical hollow is not producing the best photo light lately!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Organic Eggs & Tasty Tings!

I haven't done a remedy or a health & wellness post for a while, Dearies. This was making me feel a bit guilty. So while I was making the snack below, my post topic seemed to almost jump out at me: Eggs!

Eggs are a staple of most homes (except for vegan lovely homes). Even vegetarians often prize them for their protein and B Vitamins, and most everyone knows that eggs are almost invaluable when it comes to great cakes, casseroles, and souffles. Breakfast often isn't the same without them for many elvin tribes, and I personally love them boiled and tossed through an organic salad.

We all have our almost daily uses for eggs, which is why it is so important to buy fresh, healthy eggs. You may think the eggs you buy are healthy. However, due to the quick and often careless farming methods of today, you may be wrong if you are buying conventional eggs. If you don't think so, consider an article by Eating Healthy Politics quotes multiple studies which show that in comparison to conventional eggs, organic and free range eggs have the following attributes:

*2/3 more Vitamin A
*4-6 times more Vitamin D
*3 times more Vitamin E
*7 times more Beta Carotene
*Double the amount of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
*Up to 70% more B12
*1/3 less cholesterol
*1/4 less saturated fat

The numbers here are typical and can be quite disturbing if you let yourself think about why conventional eggs have less nutrients, so I won't even go there! And I haven't touched on the fat soluble toxins that often plague conventional animal products. What I will expand on is that organic and free range eggs are so much more flavorful and delicious than their conventional counterparts. So by spending a little extra on this staple, you will notice a major difference in both health and taste!

This Algerian omelet is a snack I learned from one of my favorite Algerian chefs and family members. It is delicious to say the least, and, to me, is what mac and cheese is to some in the realm of comfort food!

Algerian Omelet
4 Organic Eggs
2-3 Tbsp. Milk
1 medium red/white potato (grated)
1-2 Garlic Cloves (chopped)
2 Tbsp. Green Pepper (optional)
1/4 Tsp Onion Powder
Salt & Pepper to taste
Olive Oil (for pan)
Harissa for garnish

Thoroughly spray an omelet pan with Pam and also drizzle about a tsp. of olive oil in the center-bring to medium low heat. While heating, whisk the eggs with the milk & add salt to your liking.
Sprinkle the grated potato with the onion powder. Place the potatoes in the pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until golden-be sure to stir intermittently. Toss in the garlic and allow to cook for at least 30 seconds. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes & garlic and allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes before turning. Turn and allow to cook another minute or so...
Serve hot with harissa, salsa, cilantro, peppers, cheese, etc!

Oh, and please check out both Denise at Quickies on the Dinner Table and Lazaro's Blogs. They are holding a contest! I have already figured out my submission (smile)...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Food Update: Surinam Cherries

This is a quick update on a food I found while walking with my mother this last week through the subtropical hollow. My mother has what seems to be endless energy, so long walks are natural to her. Plus, she doesn't live in a subtropical zone, so she loves to walk and see the palms, flowers, and fruit trees along with the brick roads and 1920's era homes.

On one of these walks, I picked a berry off of a plant that I could not identify as either a tree or a bush at first glance. I didn't eat it due to fears of falling over and going into paralysis along with other creative situations my mind came up with at the idea of eating poison berries. I did, however, run home and research the berry. It turns out that it is called a Surinam Cherry (Eugenia Uniflora) a.k.a Brazil or Cayenne Cherry and it is edible.

These berries are said by some to be native to tropical America while others claim they were probably brought from Goa to the Americas. Either way, they are considered an invasive species to my area, yet still quite nice to eat when fully ripe. The flavor is somewhat like a bell pepper with a hint of tomato, grass, and sugar. In fact, the less ripe berries are quite tart and grassy in flavor.

I made a jam with these fruits, which was quite nice on bread with goat cheese. I hope you will not pass this fruit up if you notice them in your hollow.

Surinam Jam
2 Cups Surinam Cherries (deseeded)
1/2-3/4 Cups Sugar
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Hold each cherry over a measuring cup and squeeze the seed(s) out of the fruit. Do this until you have the desired amount of cherries.

In a pan, place the cherries, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a high simmer and stir. Lower the heat and allow to simmer on low heat stirring intermittently. Do this until you get a jam like consistency (this took me about 30 minutes). If you are canning, place hot in sterilized jar and cover properly. Otherwise, enjoy with bread, cheese, etc...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stewed Black Beans & Tostones

Good Morning & Evening, My Dearies. My mother is here visiting the subtropical hollow, so I might be delayed in posting for the next few days. I did, however, want to quickly share this plate of tropical deliciousness with you.

On that note, I know what many of you are thinking about posting stewed black beans. Well, maybe I don't, but I do know that I have often wondered why people make such a big deal out of black beans and rice. This is because I usually eat this dish in restaurants, and, well, it's just never very good. The usual for this dish in the subtropical hollow is a plate of bland, overcooked beans next to a bed of oil laden, low grade rice with the usual accompaniments that most often share the aforementioned adjectives. This may not be the case in places like Miami, but around here it's the standard.

Yesterday, I decided to make this dish ONLY because my mother recently bought me a large container of dry, organic black beans. The result made me realize how this dish came to its culinary rise and popularity: Tasty, texturally firm & delicious stewed beans next to a bed of fragrant, buttery basmati (not traditional, but wonderful) with salsa, mango chutney, fresh cucumber, and, of course, tostones!

Tostones, fried green plantains, are a culinary wonderment that never fail to make me wonder why I don't make them more often. These salty morsels dipped in the black beans with some salsa is an experience I can't explain: they are just awesome! I hope you will buy a bunch of green to greenish-yellow plantains and try them even if you don't bother with other parts of this dish-yes, they are that good!

This recipe is my version of Cuban black beans. It certainly is not authentic, but it is a super delicious vegetarian take off of this classic and wonderful Cuban dish.

Stewed Black Beans*
1 lb. Black beans soaked in water over night
6-7 Cups water
1 Onion-cut in half (do not cut off the ends or it will fall apart)
1/2 Green bell pepper (whole, seeds removed)
4-5 Cloves garlic-sliced in half
2 Bay Leaves
2 Tsp. Cumin
3/4 Tsp. oregano
2 Pinches of red/cayenne pepper
2-4 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar or to taste
Salt & black pepper to taste

Drain the soaked black beans. Place the beans, water, onion halves, bell pepper half, garlic, and bay leaves in a pot. Bring to a boil and leave at a high boil for 7-10 minutes stirring intermittently. Once done, skim off any foam, lower the heat to low, and place the top on at an angle. Cook on low heat stirring intermittently for one to two hours or until beans are firm yet soft (you may need to add extra water). In the last ten minutes of cooking, add the cumin, oregano, cayenne, salt, pepper and vinegar. Enjoy! Serves 6-8.

For tostones, cut green or greenish yellow plantains into 1 inch pieces as shown below. Pan fry on medium heat in oil till each cut end is golden. Take off the heat and mash the plantains into discs (you may want to remove the pan from heat during this time to avoid oil burn). Return to the discs to the heat and saute each side for 2-3 minutes or till golden. Remove and place on a napkin. Salt! Enjoy!

Enjoy with rice, salsa, cheese, cilantro, hot chilis, etc...

Oh, and spicy mango relish is also good with this dish!

P.S.-Never place salt in beans that are stewing till cooking is almost done, Dearies-this destroys the outer shell creating mush!