Tuesday, October 8, 2013

An Unexpected Dinner (or What to do with Green Beans and Shitake)

I have no idea what to call this, but it sure was good.

As so many dinners do, this one began with triage, a look in the fridge to see what needed to be used most urgently.
What I found:
  • green beans
  • shitake mushrooms  
  • turkey bacon* (or smoked tempeh)
  • green onions
These were the necessities. The ingredients suggested a stir fry, as often happens when trying to connect a bunch of disparate ingredients.

Other players, things that happened to be on hand, included:
  • carrots
  • vegetable broth 
  • carrots 
  • onion
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • an endless supply of peppers and jalapanos
Add some pantry items:
  • spaghetti noodles
  • safflower oil
  • Sherry
  • Vegetarian "oyster" sauce
  • sesame oil

... and what did I get?

 I pre-cooked the end of season green beans. They were of mixed sizes. So the fat ones were snapped into smaller sizes and thrown in first to cook longer. Depending on the beans you may cook them for just 3 minutes or they may need more time (6-8minutes). Test them until they are the way you like them.

Slice the carrots into narrow sticks and throw them in with the beans to cook for about a minute. Scoop all the beans and carrots out of their pot and set them aside.
Using the same large pot of  water, cook the noodles until al dente.

Finely chop the turkey bacon and saute in some safflower oil until it no longer looks raw. Add the sliced shitake mushrooms to the same pan and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add the sliced white or yellow onions and one chopped jalapeno continue cooking over medium heat. Add the chopped ginger and the minced garlic. As everything starts to stick to the pan, add a bit of vegetable broth and about a tablespoon of sherry to deglaze the pan.

Check your noodles. When they are cooked, drain them, throw them back into the pan in which they were cooked and drizzle them with a tablespoon (more or less) of Sesame oil. Toss the noodles around to coat them with oil. This adds delicious flavor and keeps them from getting stuck together. 

Time to finish the dish. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of oyster sauce. If the dish seems to need more liquid, add another dash of veg broth. Add the cooked beans and carrots and the sliced green onions and toss everything around to heat up and get coated with sauce.

Serve over the noodles.

Notes: * Turkey bacon is more like ham or Canadian Bacon than like regular pork bacon. So if you need a substitute, use ham, not actual bacon. For vegetarians and vegans, try using smoked tempeh and taste for salt, you may need to add a bit.
Because of the turkey bacon and oyster sauce, this is a slightly salty dish, much more so than my usual cooking, but I actually liked it quite a bit.
For those of you who may be wondering, yes, there is a Hobbit reference in the title

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lemony Asian Tempeh

DH: Hey! What's for dinner?
ME: Don't know. We need to use some peppers, how about a sweet and sour?
DH: We have mushrooms, too. Why don't we use some of those?
ME: Don't usually put mushrooms in Sweet and Sour.
DH: What about that dish with the oranges?
ME: Uh, maybe.
DH (waxing nostalgic): Remember that great Chicken Bird's Nest we used to get with the lemon and mushrooms? Can you do something like that?
ME: Sure. Just so you know it won't have either chicken or a bird's nest

So you see why my husband wanted to call this post "Chicken Bird's Nest without the Chicken....or the bird's nest".

I based this dish on another favorite, an orange-y General Tang style tempeh dish.

Lemony Asian Tempeh

4 oz of tempeh, sliced
6 hot dried red peppers

the zest from 1 lemon- I used a microplane for a finely grated zest
2 cloves of minced garlic
About 3/4-1 cup of roughly chopped onion
one red pepper and one green pepper chopped in large bite sized pieces
2-3 carrots sliced
Optional, but good, broccoli florets
One large jalapeno, finely chopped
Mushrooms, sliced. I used three very large ones which yielded at least a cup sliced
Juice of one (juicy) lemon
2-4 T Chopped cilantro

For the sauce, mix together:
1/3 cup vegetable stock
1 T sesame oil
2 T soy sauce
1 T dry sherry
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 T sugar

Set aside 1 T cornstarch mixed with  2 T water

This will be served over rice, so start your rice.  Parboil and drain the broccoli if using. It should be al dente.

Saute the tempeh in a very large pan or wok until nicely browned. Remove from heat. In the hot oil, cook the dried hot peppers until they look black, but do not burn them. Reduce the heat if they seem to be burning.

Throw the onions and mushrooms into the hot pan and cook them until the onions start to go translucent. Toss in the jalapenos and the carrots, cook for 2-3 minutes and then add the garlic, and finally the peppers.  Keep stir frying until the veg is nearly tender.

Give the sauce ingredients (from veg stock through sugar) a stir, and throw in the pan. Bring it to a bubble.  Add the lemon juice.

Stir in the cornstarch mixture and let the sauce thicken a little, throw in the broccoli to heat it up. Before serving, stir in the lemon zest and top with cilantro. Serve over rice.

Notes: Do use a washed organic lemon when you are making your lemon zest.
Also use organic cornstarch in order to avoid GMO corn products.
I try to use organic everything because I don't like eating pesticides and frankenfoods.