Aloo Gobi

On July 16, 2017, in Food, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I don’t make enough Indian food at home. Perhaps, it’s because we have some excellent Indian restaurants around Los Angeles.  One of my favorites is Mint Leaf in Altadena.  They make great Indian food that reminds me of place that started my love for Indian food back when we lived in Michigan, Priya in Troy, Michigan.

Now back to my kitchen.

Indian food isn’t a difficult cuisine for the home cook. Sure it uses a couple handfuls of spice jars every time, but if you’re like me you have a hundred spice jars and can pretty much make anything without a long list of spice jars for that one-off recipe.

A favorite dish has become Aloo Gobi. It’s a vegan dish made with potatoes and cauliflower. It’s fairly simple and only took about 30 minutes to prepare.  Add some rice and you have an easy, exotic vegan dish in no time at all. I ran across a recipe on Pinterest from the blog Edible Garden.  I had to adjust some things as the cooking time was way off and the flavors need some adjustment.  You can find the source recipe here.

Aloo Gobi
Serves 4

1/2 head or 2 cups chopped cauliflower
4 medium potatoes, large dice
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 tsp ginger, diced
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2-3/4 tsp red chili powder, adj for taste
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garma masala
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

Heat pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat and place onions, garlic and ginger in pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Cook without burning and then add diced potatoes and chopped cauliflower to the pan.  Stir pan and add the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil to coat potatoes and cauliflower. Add some salt to taste. Cover and heat stirring every few minutes so the items do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.  Cook covered for about 10 minutes.

Add the spices and tomato paste to the pan and coat all the items to combine.  Cover the pan again and stir every 3 minutes and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Try a potato to check for doneness. When ready, add the chopped cilantro to the pan to coat and serve immediately over rice.

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Jamie Oliver’s Vegetable Bolognese

On June 30, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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This has become one of my favorite vegetarian dishes, vegan if you skip the shredded parmesan cheese. There is so much flavor from this rather simple recipe. It only takes about 40 minutes to prepare from start to table. The porcini mushrooms, red wine, fresh herbs and breadcrumbs add so much enjoyment to each bite.

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I discovered this recipe months after I did my review of six meal delivery services. I hadn’t yet tried Hello Fresh, but when I heard that one of my favorite TV chefs, Jamie Oliver, was doing recipes for them I knew it was time to give them a try.

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They offer a vegetarian box option that our family has ordered a few times now. This vegetable bolognese has been the star of everything we have tried. That’s not to say that other recipe have been bad; rather, we’ve had some great success with Hello Fresh.  This has been nice as it has given us another option with meal delivery when wanting to eat less meat.  So now we use Hello Fresh and The Purple Carrot too.

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I hope you get a chance to try some more vegetarian or vegan in your home. We continue to eat more and more this way and recently did 30-days straight. Coming out of the 30-days my wife and I agreed to reduce meat to only 2-3 meals a week. That could be bacon for breakfast one day, maybe a burger another day, and then no more or some tacos for lunch.

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Skip the meat and add some lentils with this excellent dish.

Full Recipe at HelloFresh.com

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Asparagus Soup

On May 7, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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This is simple, quick recipe that only takes about 20 minutes to prep and make. Add a salad with some cut apples and red onions and some crusty bread to make it a meal.

Asparagus Soup
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 bunch asparagus, tips and mid section cut into 2 inch pieces
1 quart vegetable broth
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained
Lemony Pesto (recipe follows)

In a large pot saute onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until the onion begins to brown. Then add the asparagus, reserve the tips.  Cook for another minute.  Add the vegetable broth and let the pot come to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes at a simmer.

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Add the beans and blend the soup with a immersion blender to get a creamy texture.

When ready to serve, add the asparagus tips and lemony pesto. Cook for about 2 minutes and then serve.

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Lemony Pesto

1 tablespoon garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon black crushed pepper
1/2 cup fresh italian parsley

Grind all ingredients together in a food processor or using a mortar and pestle.

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Mediterranean Spicy Spinach Lentil Soup

On April 12, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I love when I find something easy and new to make.  Pinterest has been a goldmine.  I ran across this easy to make lentil soup recipe last weekend before heading to the market. It only took about 40 minutes to make, making it a good recipe for a busy weekday meal after work.

You can add additional vegetables too. I went with a couple carrots I added some color and more flavor to the dish.

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The recipe has some kick that mostly comes from the crushed red pepper. So go easy on that if you want less punch.  The rest of the recipe is pretty straight forward.  I found the flavors meld better over time as the soup tasted even better a day or two after I made it and used the leftovers for some lunches at work.

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Thanks to The Mediterranean Dish for the delicious recipe! I’ll definitely have to try some more from her blog.

Full Recipe: [Mediterranean Spicy Spinach Lentil Soup]

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Jackfruit Fajitas

On March 21, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I first became aware of jackfruit after ordering vegan “carnitas” tacos at one of my favorite vegan restaurants in California – Hip Vegan Cafe in Ojai. What amazed me is how a fruit had a shredded meat texture to it which makes it really useful as a substitute to meat without being the typical “fake meat” in vegetarian cooking.

So what is jackfruit? It is a rather large tree grown fruit that is part of the mulberry and fig family. It is the national fruit of Bangladesh! Thank you Wikipedia.

It’s a fibrous, starchy fruit that doesn’t have that much flavor by itself. The stringy texture gives it the meaty texture that works great for vegetarian cooking. It is a really odd fruit and one you won’t typically find at a grocery store.

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I found some at Whole Foods from a company that sells packaged jackfruit with various marinades.

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The Jackfruit Company sells a Tex-Mex version I decided to try out for my first at-home jackfruit dish. There are curry, teriyaki and BBQ options too.

The packets contain enough for two. You would have to be pretty skimpy to get enough for 3 or 4 people out of one pouch of The Jackfruit Company’s product. The company says each pouch serves 2.5 per container which is what I pretty much found.

Jackfruit Fajitas
Serves 2

1 package of The Jackfruit Company Tex-Mex jackfuit
1/2 yellow pepper, thin sliced sticks
1/2 red onion, thin half moons
4 large corn tortillas
Oil for tortillas

Heat the jackfruit packet in a saute pan for about 2 minutes and then add the pepper and onions.  Mix and heat on medium heat for 5 minutes.

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While jackfruit is cooking, in a separate saute pan heat a thin layer of oil on high heat. When hot, add a tortilla and then flip in a 10 seconds.  Cook the other side for 5 seconds then transfer to a plate with paper towels.  Remove oil from tortilla by drying off with paper towel.  Repeat 3 more times.

Serve by adding jackfruit mixture to tortillas. If you want, you can add cotija crumbled cheese and some fresh chopped cilantro if you want. Some guacamole or sliced avocado would be good too.

 

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One-Pot Creamy Spinach and Lentils

On October 20, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Lentils are a personal favorite in my vegan and vegetarian cooking. I tend to save a lot of recipes that use them on my Pinterest Mostly Vegetarian board (you can follow me on Pinterest here.) A recent save is this lentil and spinach dish I made last week. It’s pretty easy to prepare and can be done after work, since it only takes about 30 minutes or less to prepare.

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I’d recommend serving it with some bread or a simple salad. It comes out more soup like depending on how much you cook down the liquid. I kept quite a bit of the liquid.

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The end result is fantastic and made for a very flavorful dish we are sure to have many more times to come.

Full Recipe: [One-Pot Creamy Spinach and Lentils]

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Kale, Apple and Pine Nut Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

On August 7, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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We are on vacation in Michigan enjoying not going out for every meal, so I’ve been making quick, easy vegetarian dishes that help us enjoy vacation even more.  Eating good, healthy food helps too.  This salad is a great example of something easy to make with just a few ingredients.

This morning was the Northport Farmer’s Market where I found some great purple kale for this salad and the bread too!

Kale, Apple and Pine Nut Salad with Maple Vinaigrette 
Serves 4

1 bunch purple kale
1 apple, diced into small cubes
1/2 red onion, diced into small cubes
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil

For Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
salt & pepper to taste

Chop kale into thin strips and place in bowl along with the diced apple and red onion. Meanwhile heat a saute pan on medium heat with the olive oil in the pan. Add the pine nuts and sugar and let it cook for a couple minutes just before they begin to brown. Remove from heat and add to bowl with kale.

To make the dressing combine the balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and maple syrup in a bowl and add the olive oil a couple tablespoons at a time whisking each time to combine.  Continue until all olive oil is added and then season with salt and pepper. Taste to make sure you are good with the mix. If too acidic, add some more olive oil.

Pour the dressing over the kale salad and mix to coat.  Serve with some fresh bread.

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Cherry Republic BBQ Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

On July 6, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Normally I would put a pork butt in the smoker and wait 12 hours for an amazing piece of meat.  Unfortunately, a lot was going on this Fourth of July holiday weekend and well I almost forgot to cook the pork I defrosted.  It was 11am and we were getting ready to head to the beach so I needed to do something quick. So this is a solution to quick using slow.

A slower cooker (aka Crock Pot) was my solution. It was slow enough and fast enough at the same time. On high, I could have the pork ready in 6 to 8 hours the perfect amount of time for when the family came back from the beach ready to eat dinner.

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You do lose the rich smoky flavor with a slow cooker, but this recipe depends more on the barbecue sauce.  I went with one I received as a gift from Glen Arbor, Michigan’s Cherry Republic. Their Spicy Cherry BBQ Sauce has a hint of spice that still maintains the sweet cherry flavor. For a jar barbecue sauce, it’s pretty good for a sandwich like this, but you can use whatever sauce you like.

Before arriving home, we also made a quick stop for some La Brea bread bake at home ciabatta bread. They are a great option. If you can’t find them, use a rustic roll instead of a hamburger bun. You’ll enjoy it a lot more and the bread will not get soaked in sauce.

Finally for the meat, use a sustainable ranch.  For this recipe, I bought the pork at the Studio City Farmer’s Market.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Serves 4-6

3-4 lb Pork Butt
1 sweet yellow onion, sliced in half moons
4 garlic cloves, cut in half
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup bbq sauce (optional)

Combine dark brown sugar, salt, and spices into a small bowl.  Pat down the pork butt with some paper towel to make it as dry as possible and then rub the spice mixture into the pork on all sides.  Then add the onion and garlic cloves to the bottom of the slow cooker.  Place the rubbed pork on to the onion and garlic and pour in the stock around the sides so as not to wash off the rub.

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Cook for 6-8 hours on high or 10-12 hours on slow.

Remove the pork when done and then strain the liquid left in the slow cooker, reserving the liquid and discarding any onions, garlic, and fat.  Pull the pork by removing strands of meat and placing them back into the slow cooker and then add 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid back into the pot along with the bbq sauce of your choice.  Mix it up and then let it cook on low for 20 minutes in the slow cooker.

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Serve on hard bread rolls along with sides of your choosing.

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Sous-vide Carne Asada Street Tacos

On June 24, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I make a lot of vegetarian dishes during the week, mostly because anything with meat takes too long to cook from the time I get home from work. One of the ways to make using meat easier and ready when I walk through the door is to use a style of cooking called sous-vide. It is a French style of cooking a vacuum-packed meat or vegetable slowly in a water bath.

Unlike a crockpot where you don’t want to overcook too much, sous-vide allows for a wide range of time for when the meat is ready. In the case of this recipe, the meat can be removed from the water bath anytime between 7 to 24 hours. That means if I’m running late or early from work, it doesn’t really matter.

The green tortillas in the photo are cactus corn tortillas I bought at Super A Foods. You can use any tortilla you like.

I use a Sous-vide Supreme, but there are other sous-vide products on the market.

Sous-vide Carne Asada Street Tacos
Makes 12-16 tacos

1 lb flank steak
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 red onion, diced
corn tortillas
vegetable oil
2 limes, quartered
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
hot sauce

Season the flank steak with cumin, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro. Reserve remaining cilantro. Place seasoned flank steak in a vacuum sealed bag. Seal bag and place in sous-vide water bath. Cook at 145 degree temperature for 7 to 24 hours.

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Heat outdoor grill on high. After you have cooked the flank steak, remove from vacuum sealed bag and dispose of any liquid marinade.  Place steak on grill and grill for 5 minutes on each side (300 degree temperature.)

Meanwhile, heat oil in saute pan. When hot add a corn tortilla and heat for a few seconds on each side flipping using tongs.  Place finished tortillas on paper towel.  Pad off excess grease with paper towel. Continue until finished heating all tortillas.

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Chop onions and cilantro and mix together. Slice flank steak and rough chop into small chunks. Assemble tacos adding meat, onions, and cilantro to each tortilla.  Serve with a sliced limes and hot sauce.

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Chicken Curry with Sweet Potato and Chickpeas

On May 8, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I haven’t been writing much lately because I have been busy with a new job I started almost three weeks ago. The new job is a bit longer of a commute which led me to look for some slow cooker (crockpot) recipes since I get home a little later than I used to and well I’m still the personal home chef.

One find, I already had on my Pinterest board (you can follow me on Pinterest here), was a chicken curry dish that looked pretty amazing and simple. I really liked the use of sweet potato in this particular recipe.  You can of course substitute carrots, if you don’t have any sweet potatoes around.

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I prepared the dish before leaving this morning and when I walked through the door when I came home tonight, it smelled amazing!  Plus everything was pretty much ready to go after I quickly steamed some rice.

The dish turned out great and it is a bit spicy with the 2 tablespoons of curry powder the recipe calls for. You can add or increase. If you want something a little more mild with a hint of heat, go with 1 tablespoon.  Really hot, I’d use 3 tablespoons.

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Have some fun experimenting with this dish. You really can’t mess it up. I’m sure it would be great with lamb instead of chicken.  You could also use cauliflower or potatoes too.  It’s full-proof, so enjoy and play around with this recipe.  I’m sure I will as I continue to bring out my slower cooker more often now that I’m arriving a bit later.

Enjoy!

Full Recipe: [Slow Cooker Chicken Curry]

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