Who moved my wok?

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Archive for the tag “garlic”

Another winter soup.

That yellow pepper is starting to look a little scary...but don't worry, we used a different one.

Because when the temperatures drop and your body goes into hibernation mode, there’s no such thing as too much soup…at least not in our house.  This soup was inspired by the cold snap as well as the plethora of fresh vegetables in our refrigerator teetering on overripe.  It was also exciting because it was the first adventure with our giant new soup pot from Ikea!  (Ah, simple pleasures…)  As I’ve said before, we hate to waste food, so we decided to make something where we could use everything in our refrigerator.  And I do mean everything.  If it was a vegetable or semi-liquid, it went in.

 

So this dish began like so many others…come on, you know the drill.  Slice up some fresh garlic and throw it in your soup pot.  Let that saute as you chop up whatever other veggies you have in your refrigerator.  We used zucchini, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and a yellow bell pepper.  As those are being cut into perfect bite-sized pieces, you can throw some water and instant veggie stock mix into your pot while adding your veggies as they’re ready.

 

We then added half a jar of marinara sauce (which is totally optional) that we hadn’t yet used up as well as the rest of our tomato paste.  We didn’t have very much left at the time, and if there is one thing I would change about this soup, it would be adding more tomato paste.  It was tasty just as we made it, but I think extra tomato paste would have given it a little more thickness and a little more flavor.

Look at all those veggies!!

As those boil, add in a can of beans of your choice.  Today, we added white beans in addition to chopped basil, tabasco sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  You can add more or less tabasco sauce depending on how spicy you want your soup, which I think is directly related to the outside temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

Mmmm. And yes, that is indeed a Christmas napkin. Never too early, I say!

Let that all boil together and give it a taste test or two to make sure you have the flavor you’re going for.  Then serve as a first course or a meal and enjoy!  The best part was we were able to eat soup for a week when we didn’t have time or energy to prepare a whole lunch or dinner.  Next time we might even freeze some, but it didn’t last long enough to freeze this time.  I’m pretty sure that’s a good sign.  🙂

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Garlic stir-fried green beans.

Look Mom! I'm a big girl now!

Despite that fact that for much of my youth I refused to come near anything green, I now call most green vegetables some of my favorite foods.  Somewhere around the end of my high school career, I had a transformation and it has only continued since becoming vegan.  Luckily, vegetables are affordable and accessible here in China, so Elizabeth and I decided to re-create one of our favorite Chinese dishes that we usually devour when dining out.  And I have to say, we came pretty darn close.

These aren’t like southern green beans all mushed to pieces and they’re more flavorful than just regular steamed ones, too.  Just don’t make these for a first date…they are full of flavor and they’ll make sure your breath knows it, too.  🙂

This was the only photo I managed to snap before they were gone!

Start by chopping a yellow onion into tiny pieces and throwing it into the wok with a smidgen of oil and a few minced garlic cloves (see what I’m saying about the breath thing?).  While those begin to saute, cut fresh, whole green beans into 1-1.5 inch long pieces and add them into the wok with a few splashes of soy sauce.  You can also sprinkle some ground garlic powder and black pepper on for good measure.  We then took our soup pot lid and covered the pan with it to make the green beans cook faster and to brown them a bit for extra flavor — we try to be resourceful with what we have!

After a couple of minutes, remove the lid, stir and add in more soy sauce and pepper to taste.  Don’t be afraid to add liberally.  These green beans should be bursting with lots of delicious flavor.  Continue this pattern until onions and green beans are cooked and a little brown around the edges.  This dish would be delicious on its own or next to some hearty rice or whatever other dish you choose.  Just make sure you make plenty because it will go fast!

Asian “beef” and potatoes.

Hot and ready to eat, mmm. (Forgive the glare)

While we love our Asian food over here, we still miss our old American standards, and nothing says classic home-cookin’ like beef and potatoes.  Don’t worry, folks, we didn’t use actual beef here; I’m still vegan.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that while China lacks vegetarian meat substitutes like we have in America (i.e., soy nuggets, boca burgers, etc.), they have so many varieties of tofu!  And I’m not talking about your average, white block of tofu here, either.  Some of it looks more like chicken with a lighter taste and texture, some looks like ground beef (great for chili and “bolognese” sauce) and some of it looks and tastes like a sort of beef brisket.  This, my friends, is what gave us the inspiration for our Asian beef and potatoes.  Well, that and the cloves of fresh garlic and the bright, crunchy green beans begging to be devoured.

If you’re using this recipe in America, feel free to use whatever meat substitute you have available there.  In addition to this, you’ll need whole potatoes, green beans and other fresh veggies (we also used zucchini), a couple of whole garlic cloves, black pepper and soy sauce.  Start by chunking your potatoes into bite-sized pieces and throw them into the wok with water almost reaching the top of them.  Let the potatoes come to a boil and cook until they’re just a little soft.  Because they take longer to cook, they need a head start, but they will be sauteed more with the other veggies, so you don’t want them overdone.

Fresh garlic!

After your potatoes are ready, drain the water and add in a little oil, along with your chopped green beans and other vegetables.  Also add in your finely chopped garlic.  As Elizabeth showed me, you can remove the garlic shell by smashing it with the flat side of your knife before chopping it up.  You could also use a garlic press if you have one handy.  We used 2-3 cloves in our recipe, but we really love the flavor of garlic.  You can use however much you like.

 

 

All of our ingredients simmering.

After you have all of this, splash in some soy sauce to taste.  Not to give away our secret, but this, along with the black pepper, is what helps to give this dish the Asian twist.  When your vegetables are mostly cooked, add in the tofu.  If your tofu or meat-substitute is not pre-cooked, you should add it in earlier with the veggies, but ours is pre-cooked, so it only needs to warm and mix with the other flavors.

Our favorite dinner companion.

Let this simmer until all warm (maybe 2-4 minutes) and then remove from heat.  Serve with rice or alone, and with your favorite beverage (we’re very into red wine here 🙂 ) and enjoy the unique blend of American tradition with Asian flavor!

Simply delicious bruschetta.

The first time Elizabeth made this bruschetta for me, I was floored by the fact that something so tasty and distinctly Italian could be replicated in our very own kitchen, without the help of our favorite Italian delivery restaurant.  I was floored again the next time we had this bruschetta as she taught me how to make it.  It is so incredibly simple!  And though it’s technically supposed to be an appetizer or side dish, sometimes I would just prefer to fill up on it.  It’s delicious and satisfying without being too heavy.  Not to overuse this word, but YUM.

Don't lose a finger!

So here is what you need: tomatoes, a little oil, garlic (fresh and/or powder), finely chopped onion, salt and basil (again, fresh or packaged chopped basil is fine).  First, chop the tomatoes into small cubes or chunks.  Depending on how much you want to make, you can use more or less tomatoes.  Three to four medium-sized tomatoes makes enough for 2-4 people, but if we’re having friends over, I’ll use more because we really like this stuff.  Then, add in chopped basil leaves, some finely chopped onion (this should be significantly smaller than your tomato chunks), a small splash of oil (you don’t want too much liquid in it since the tomatoes already have a lot), and salt and garlic to taste.

The end result.

This recipe is really done by eyeballing, so you can use our photo of the finished product to gauge how much basil and onion you should use in yours.  If you’re using fresh basil leaves, we recommend using several stems of the plant.  Otherwise, your bruschetta will just taste like salty, garlicy tomatoes, which is delicious but missing the point.  And fresh basil smells amazing, so it’s nice to have around.

Once finished, serve up on a sliced baguette before or with your meal.  We also like to use leftover bruschetta for extra flavor in tofu scrambles the next day.  No food goes to waste here!

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