General Tso Dipping Sauce

Today, I want to share with you a recipe that will make you want to eat (fried) tofu. Yes, I’m serious.

This sauce got my Dad (“Tofu?! What the hell is that?”), my grandpa (“Where’s my meat?”) and grandma (“Traditional cooking is the best… No need to experiment. Where’s the smetana?”) to eat tofu.

This sauce is absolutely amazing. I make it any chance I see where we could potentially dip food in it. I had it with rolls, tempura and vegetables. All in all, I just REALLY like the taste of this. It tastes like one of those exotic sauces you would get an Asian themed restaurant. It’s sweet and a little spicy, and has an awesome smooth texture. Are you ready to try it out?

This recipe was inspired by General Tso Tofu, and I only made a little variation in it.

First, start off with some chopped garlic and onions (seen in the back); you could use green onions too!

Garlic and the shy onions!

Garlic and the shy onions!

Then you take water, mirin, white vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and chili paste and mix it all together in a bowl.

sauce

The pre-sauce.

Then mix together 1 tablespoon corn starch and 1 tablespoon water to form a paste  in a separate bowl (so the sauce will thicken).

Paste

Finally, get those onions and garlic sauteing on the saucepan! (med heat.) Stir often.

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Sizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzle

After about 1 minute, add in 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger and fry it in oil for a few seconds before adding in the sauce and the paste. Allow the mixture to boil (while stirring intermittently), and then let it boil for 1 minute longer. You will see that the red colour will now switch to a deep, deep red/brown colour. It’s really neat!

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Magic!

Magic!

Take it off the stove and let it cool.

And you’re done! Drizzle it over anything you’d like. My family and I generally eat it with tofu on top of rice!

Looks delicious, no?

Looks delicious, no?

General Tso Sauce (originally by: Stephani Kepman)

  • 3 green onions or 1/2 a small onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon red chili paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper (more for more spice)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  1. mix in the water, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, mirin, chili paste, and red-pepper until sugar is dissolved – set aside
  2. mix corn starch and water to form a paste- set aside.
  3. saute onions and garlic in a saucepan on medium heat for about a minute.
  4. right before adding in sauce, add in the ground ginger and stir for a few seconds.
  5. add in the red sauce, followed by the paste
  6. bring the sauce to a boil and then cook for 1 minute more
  7. remove from stove, and allow to cool.
  8. Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite sauce recipe? Please comment and tell me!

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Quick Tips: Coconut Oil Butter

Hello everyone!

I recently read about a new healthy, very hyped about, food item: coconut oil. It’s full of short and medium fatty acids, which are supposed to be good for you. And you know what? It tastes awesome too.

That’s why my quick tip for you today is to substitute coconut oil for butter when you make popcorn! Use it to pop the popcorn and as seasoning! I’ve done it twice already, and I’m sold. If you’re worried that it will taste like coconut- don’t be. It’s ultra subtle; my parents didn’t even realize I was using coconut oil.

Currently, my favorite popcorn seasoning is coconut oil, and salt. What’s yours?

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Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookie

Guys, my jaw is on the floor right now. You will NOT believe what just happened.

Background:

I have been trying to eat well/’clean’, for the past couple of years; it’s still a struggle and a process to find alternatives for refined/processed food, but it’s happening. So, I read about “2 ingredient cookies” by Blogilates (a totally awesome blog, BTW). It sounded too awesome to be true — and, in some respects, it was. The first time I made them, they were mushy and had this weird banana after taste (surprise, surprise?). They were okay, but they weren’t enough for me to give up ‘normal’, full fledged cookies.

Today, I read about reports talking about the dangers of processed white sugar. Apparently, it’s horrible*. I knew that, but now studies are directly linking it with some serious conditions (eg. diabetes, and heart disease). So… I decided to tackle the Blogilates recipe again.

I used her recipe as a base – and I think it’s perfect for that. You have the banana which acts as the glue, and the oats which act like the flour. From that stage, you can add ANYTHING you want!

So, I decided to go and take 1/2 a banana and 1/2 cup of oats together. I then added 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and a dash of vanilla extract.

That should give it some flavor, but then I remembered how the cookies were a bit soft, and I like crunchy cookies! So I went into our cereal cardboard and got some cereal that had bran flakes, puffed oats etc. and mixed it in. I also remembered that we had sunflower seed butter and decided to add that in to deepen the flavor (I’m sure peanut butter would work the same way).

This is the cookie 'batter'.

This is the cookie ‘batter’.

Finally, I added in a few chocolate chips because I’ve been craving chocolate and knew I would binge on it if I prolonged the torture any longer.

I plopped the (six) cookies on aluminum foil and slipped it into a toaster oven set, preheated 350F, for 20 minutes.

Off they go!

Off they go!

And… Ta-Dah!

The final product!

The final product!

Totally different from the first time, these were crunchy and the cinnamon and vanilla gave it fragrance. The banana was totally hidden and just acted as a binder. (If you don’t want them crunchy, bake for less time.)

Now… here comes the amazing bit.

My brother and his friend are over at my house, playing on the computer downstairs. They paddle upstairs and go into the kitchen looking for chips, cookies and pop. Forcing my brother to eat a salad or oatmeal is like pulling teeth. I told them to try the cookies I made, and they went “okay!”.

them: “Are these homemade?”

me: “yes”

them: “Are they fresh?”

me: “just took them out 2 minutes ago”

(I love how they have such qualifications for the food they eat…)

and then….

“Wow! These are great!”

My eyes went like this: O.O. I thought they were great, a good alternative to ‘normal’ cookies, but definitely not something I saw my brother eating.

I asked them, “you know these are healthy right?”

They both looked at me, “No, but it doesn’t matter… they’re good. Where are the rest?”

(Here I admit that I ate 4 of the 6 and they only had 1 each.)

Then… They asked me to make more.

WHOA. Okay, this is a keeper.

So, I urge you to try and experiment with the base, add in whatever you feel would make them good. You might surprise yourself (and others!).

Cookie Base

makes 1 dozen

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 banana
  1. mash the banana
  2. mix in the oats
  3. bake on an aluminum sheet, in a preheated 350F oven for 15-20 minutes (closer to 20 minutes for crunchy cookies, and closer to 15 minutes for soft cookies)

Here’s my variation:

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookie

makes 6 cookies

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 teaspoon (any nut) butter
  • 1/8 cup cereal (e.g. puffed rice, bran etc) (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • chocolate chips
  1. mash the banana
  2. add in the vanilla extract and cinnamon, mix
  3. add in nut butter, mix
  4. add in oats, mix
  5. add in cereal, mix
  6. add in chocolate chips, mix
  7. put on aluminum foil and place in a preheated 350F oven
  8. bake for 15-20 minutes (closer to 20 minutes for crunchy cookies, and closer to 15 minutes for soft cookies)

Have you experimented with a recipe like this? What did you come up with?

—-

*great article, with sources to relevant studies

Homemade Sauerkraut

QUICK! What dish can prevent scurvy? If you guessed lots and lots of oranges, you’re right. BUT! There are loads of other contenders, and I’d like to introduce to you one of them: sauerkraut.

It all started when  I read about the benefits of fermenting vegetables, specifically, about the powerhouse that is kimchi. I was talking to my mom about it: it has probiotics, it’s spicy… and the process of fermenting vegetables is something new to me and something that I haven’t seen much of in the western diet.

My mom just gives me ‘the look’, “And what about sauerkraut?” D’oy! Turns out, we have our own ‘version’ of kimchi: sour cabbage! I researched a bit more, and found that the same bacteria you flourish to make kimchi is the same as that of sauerkrau they’re all lacto-bacteria that are supposed to be great for you. For the readers who are hesitant in eating bacteria on purpose, read up on this. Did I tell you that Captain Cook used it to prevent scurvy? Cool. Also, did you know probiotics may help with symptoms of some forms of eczema, and autism? Amazing. Finally, this is a great alternative to those who are lactose intolerant and feel left out because of all the hype about probiotics in yogurt!

Okay, now I know you’re dying to go out to the store and buy some. But not so fast. Most store-bought sauerkraut has been pasteurized, which you do not want. So, why not make some yourself? Treat it as a science project – that you can eat after!!

Here is a brief portion of the process of fermentation of sauerkraut from wikipedia:

“The fermentation process has three phases, these phases are sometimes referred to as population dynamics. In the first phase, anaerobic bacteria such as Klebsiella and Enterobacter lead the fermentation, and begin producing an acidic environment that favours later bacteria. The second phase starts as the acid levels become too high for many bacteria, and Leuconostoc mesenteroides and other Leuconostoc spp. take dominance. In the third phase, various Lactobacillus species, including L. brevis and L. plantarum, ferment any remaining sugars, further lowering the pH.[3] Properly cured sauerkraut is sufficiently acidic to prevent a favorable environment for the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the toxins of which cause botulism.

Please look at the bold: growth of  C. botulinum is hindered because it is not the right environment and it is out-competed by the other bacteria. So do not worry about botulism!

Onto the show!

Start off with common cabbage, CANNING SALT (eg, Himalayan salt), and sliced carrots (optional). Make sure to weigh your cabbage so you can get an idea of how much salt you need to add. The ratio is roughly 3 liberal tablespoons of salt to 5 pounds of cabbage.

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The ingredients

Take a knife and chop up the cabbage into smithereens!

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The aftermath

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We like to add shredded carrots with the cabbage.

Alright, now you have to transfer the sauerkraut to larger pot for it to ferment. Take a few handfuls of the cabbage and a some salt and mix it together in the pot. Pat that morsel down. Repeat this process until you have transferred all the sauerkraut into a large pot. The goal is to have the salt evenly distributed throughout the cabbage.

The next step varies from recipe to recipe, but the point is to weigh down the cabbage to encourage water out of the cabbage. What my mom does is take a plate that is a bit smaller than the circumference of the pot and put it on top of the cabbage. Then, she fills a large mason jar with water and puts in on top to act as a weight. Finally, cover everything with a towel so nothing foreign gets in there, and leave it at room temperature for three days!

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The contraption

After the three days, there should be cabbage juice at the top of the pot. At random times, take a long skewer and just skewer the cabbage to the bottom. This will let gas out, and will make it less smelly.

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Underneath the ‘hood.

Finally, just take the cabbage, place it all in jars, and there you have it, sauerkraut!

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My family got it before I did…

Remember, it is advised to ease yourself into eating sauerkraut by eating a few fork-fulls a day because it is very acidic and might upset your stomach if you eat a bunch at once. Once you’ve adjusted to it, it is advised to just eat a couple of bites with every meal to improve digestion.

How to prepare:

1) place it in a bowl

2) drizzle with vegetable oil

3) sprinkle with sugar ( to taste)

4) Hear your stomach saying: THANK YOU!

Sauerkraut tastes best paired with meat, but it’s a good combination with almost everything. What do you like to pair sauerkraut with?

Enjoy!