Soy to the World

In the words of one of my classmates, “We have been farting all week.” Soy can cause digestive discomfort and a lot of us have been feeling it this week since we learned how to make and prepare tofu and tempeh dishes.

Thursday’s class consisted of a lecture on soy and a demonstration where we saw how soymilk and tofu were made. I used to eat a lot of tofu (1-2 blocks a week) but I’m trying to branch out and eat more diverse forms of protein so I’ve been eating a lot more beans and eggs. Tofu is great but I think it’s best in moderation.

It’s surprisingly easy to make tofu and the flavor of freshly made tofu was so superior that I might start doing it myself. This was the tofu that the Chef made during the demo, it was AMAZING!

He then dressed it up and made teriyaki tofu and miso-marinated tofu. Did you know that miso is made from soybeans?

We also had miso-marinated salmon, which was really awesome. I took a half piece since I have been vegetarian and not eaten fish since I was 15 years old. After the first bite I immediately put the second half on my plate, it was that good! What have I been missing all this time?

Yesterday, we got to try our hand at our own tofu and tempeh dishes. I worked on a recipe for Tofu Burgers that turned out really well. A lot of my classmates said they couldn’t even tell there was tofu in it. As our class is getting deeper into the program we are cooking better and better stuff (obviously) so our little lunches after cooking are getting so good!

 

We also had tempeh sausages.

Barbecue tofu.

Tempeh Scalloppini (both with red and white wine sauces)

Tempeh Kebobs (these were my favorite!)

And Family-Style Bean Curd

SO. MUCH. SOY. I love tofu but if I see another piece of it this weekend I might lose it!

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I’m on a (sushi) roll.

Wednesday’s class was all about sea vegetables! You may be thinking, “What’s so exciting about seaweed?” but let me tell you… EVERYTHING!

Sea vegetables are very high in minerals and essential micronutrients that are very beneficial to us. They can help to detoxify the body, stabilize blood sugar, strengthen hair and nails and reduce bloat, as well as having the potential to do many other great things for our bodies. Seaweed is very versatile and is used in salads, soups, main dishes and even desserts. Did you know that seaweed is one of the main ingredients in ice cream? Next time you take that pint of choco choco chip out the freezer check if the ingredient caragheen is listed. IT’S SEAWEED, FOOLS!

While Japan is the country most commonly associated with seaweed, sea vegetables can be found along coastlines around the world, including the Pacific Northwest and Maine. Dulse is red seaweed commonly found in Ireland and my ancestral homeland of Scotland!

If fun facts about seaweed don’t keep you riveted to your seat, check out these pictures of what we did with seaweed! (Hint: it starts with an “S” and ends with “ushi”)

Our sushi assembly line!

The Chef's beautiful sushi creation.

My sushi!

My sushi that didn't quite make it...

My classmate Kara's awesome sushi!

Miso soup with wakame seaweed.

Coconut lime "custard" made with agar agar and kuzu! (and maple coated pecans) SO GOOD!

That custard was so good I couldn’t believe it. No one would ever know it was made with seaweed! I saved my sushi and ate it for dinner and it was really tasty even if it wasn’t rolled perfectly… Making sushi was much easier than I thought and something I would really like to do more of at home. I gotta run to class but stay tuned for tomorrow’s post which will be all about SOY!

hail seitan

Yesterday was seitan day at the Natural Gourmet Institute. As a long time vegetarian, I have tried seitan before but I’ve never made it at home. You can buy premade seitan in health food stores but we made it from scratch and it was super labor intensive. Basically, seitan has two ingredients, flour and water. After a lot of kneading and rinsing, you are left with the wheat gluten which is pure protein. 3 oz of seitan has the same amount of protein as 3 oz of steak with 70 fewer calories, 10 fewer grams of fat (only 1.5!) and zero cholesterol. It’s a great source of meatless protein and has been used in Asia for centuries!

Can I just tell you that seitan is not worth all the work put into it? Kneading it and rinsing it in ice-cold water is torturous and the amount of seitan produced is not enough to warrant putting myself through that. Needless to say, our entire class was exhausted by the end of the day (even though my feet felt pretty great because of my new shoes!). We made seitan from scratch and then made various different recipes to explore the potential of “wheat-meat.”

Two kinds of stew:

There were also seitan sandwiches and seitan burgers that I didn’t manage to get a picture of. My favorites were the seitan Bordelaise in the white wine sauce and the Indian kebabs. Seitan is pretty good; it is the most meat-like of meat substitutes but I find the texture kind of rubbery and definitely not worth making it from scratch!

Today is SEA VEGETABLE DAY! I ❤ seaweed!!!

spicy sox

Hey guys, I got a job!

Sox in the City is a pop-up shop in a restaurant that shut down on St. Marks in the East Village. While the landlords are waiting to sign a lease with a new restaurant they are selling handmade slipper-socks, wool hats and mitten0gloves, all crafted by a tribe in Afghanistan. The socks are actually the most comfortable thing in the world, I don’t want to leave my house because that means I have to take them off!

Ever pair of socks is different and they are all so beautifully made. They are actually knitted out of old sweaters imported from the U.S.! My job is pretty sweet but the doors are always open so it’s freezing cold.

Like my hat? Another perk of the job. Since I’m always so cold, and there is a Thai restaurant right across the street, all I want when I leave work is hot, spicy, greasy Thai food. Unfortunately, take-out is not friendly for my wallet or my waistline so I set out to create my own Thai-inspired meal. This recipe is by no means authentic Thai food and I hesitate to even call it that, but it contains the aspects of Thai that I crave: spicy, creamy, peanut-y and noodle-y.

Lazy “Thai” Noodles

serves 2

  • 2 servings of rice noodles (I used pho noodles)
  • 2 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1/4 cup hot water (it’s easy to take this from the boiling pasta water)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 package tempeh cut into triangles
  • 2 carrots, peeled into thin strips
  • scallions, crushed peanuts and more sriracha for garnish

Put a pot of water on to boil. Mix the sriracha, pb, tamari and ketchup in a bowl. Once the water is hot, add 1/4 cup to the sauce mixture along with the coconut milk, stir until combined and set aside. Get the noodles going in the boiling water. Put a little olive oil in frying pan and once it’s hot, add the tempeh triangles. Once they are browned, flip them over and add the carrot. When the noodles are done, drain them and add them to the frying pan (turn off the heat) along with the sauce and scallions. Toss everything together with tongs until the noodles are sufficiently coated and serve it. I dare you not to enjoy this healthier-alternative to Thai takeout!

 

happy prez day

Happy President’s Day

I’ve had a nice weekend but it was busy because I got temporary a new job working at a sock shop. It’s been awesome weather all weekend and I was happy to have a completely free day to enjoy it, even though I spent it mostly doing errands with my boy toy.

I was super jealous of the new chef shoes my classmate Rachel was sporting last week. We have to have black non-skid shoes for our chef’s uniforms and while my $20 Croc knock-offs are okay, they are not the comfiest. Rachel kept bragging about how amazing her S.A.S. shoes were so I tried them on and immediately decided I needed a pair of my own. I could not find them for sale anywhere online so my friend from the Natural Gourmet, Jane, and I set out to find them on Sunday morning.

Our adventure brought us to Chinatown of all places!

 

Luckily they had the shoes in our size! They are not the most fashionable choice of footwear but they will keep our feet happy while we’re standing all day chopping veggies and such.

On our way back to the East Village we made a pit-stop at my favorite bakery, Babycakes!

I got a banana cupcake with chocolate frosting and Jane got a donut.

Jane is gluten-intolerant so she was happy to be able to take part in one of Babycake’s gluten-free donuts. As far as gluten-free bakeries go, Jane and I have a difference in opinion. Jane thinks Tu-Lu’s Bakery is better while I am a loyal fan of Babycakes. I think in the future we will have to do a side-by-side taste test to see who the real winner is!

I hope everyone had a great long weekend! Look out for a new recipe post tomorrow!

Peas out. 🙂

pasta + wine = :)

Last night was the most fun I have had in a long time. Why? Because I finally went out! I used to be an intense partier when I was a freshman in college and even through sophomore year, but once I started seeing my boyfriend I stopped going out so much. I feel it’s pretty common for couples to become “homebodies,” sitting at home in their sweats watching Mad Men on Netflix and eating popcorn. I actually like staying home and getting to bed early, but it’s nice to get out and let my ginger hair down once in a while.

The night started with a nice dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant, Via Della Pace, in the East Village. Dan and I were going to go here last weekend to celebrate Valentine’s Day but since I was out of commission we went last night instead.


Via Della Pace has a really nice warm and romantic atmosphere with soft lighting and cozy seats. What I love most about the restaurant is that it is so authentically Italian. The owner and all the wait staff are Italian and the people we were seated next to were Italian as well, so if they like it then it must be good! The meal started with complimentary fresh bread dipped in olive oil…

Followed by an appetizer of Bruschetta Siciliana with grilled eggplant, olives, capers and pecorino cheese. I chose this, and Dan and I laughed about it later because none of us actually like eggplant! After I picked off the eggplant it was really good though 🙂

I’m a sucker for gnocchi so for my entrée I ordered the fresh gnocchi with radicchio and walnuts. It came in a cream sauce and was so delicious that I’m drooling just thinking about it now!

Dan ordered the Rigatoni del Pirata, which was baked rigatoni with sausage, mushrooms and mozzarella in a tomato rum sauce. His sauce was really flavorfuland I stole a couple of sausage-free bites.

On the way home from dinner we passed by a film shoot for the new Coen Brothers movie! The whole street was decked out with those old-fashioned cabs. It was so cool and made me feel really lucky to be living in the city!

The rest of the evening consisted of a birthday party, dancing and way too much of this:

I had a great evening but I’m looking forward to sitting on the couch with my boys tonight and going to bed at 10pm. With that, I’m off to go on a trial shift at a new job! Enjoy this beautiful Saturday!

Cool Beans

I LOVE BEANS.

I always end up buying canned beans because I could never get the hang of making dried beans on the stovetop. They always came out weird! After yesterday’s Bean Practicum I can honestly say that I don’t think cooking beans will ever be a problem for me again.

On Wednesday we had a bean “demo” so we have had two days of eating copious amounts of beans and my body is definitely feeling it. Before I started at NGI, I was less aware of how different foods made me feel but now that I am more educated about food in general I have been paying more attention to how my body reacts to the things I ingest. Beans are great and super healthy, but eating a lot of beans in the middle of the afternoon makes me feel very sluggish for the rest of the evening. Something about the complex carbs just makes me want to nap! I love my beans, but maybe from now on I will consume them in moderation.

For the bean practicum, our class was divided into three groups that each tackled the same five bean recipes using different beans as the main ingredient. For example, each group made a bean stew. My group (the “Lima Lions”) made a bean stew with lima beans while the other groups (the “Pinto Ponies” and the “Kidney Kings”) used pinto and kidney beans.

Since our group had five people we each were responsible for one recipe. I chose the lima bean stew recipe and it was the most delicious of all the stews (not that I’m biased or anything…). I definitely want to recreate this recipe at home, it was so easy and used only a few ingredients!

Stews are not the prettiest entrees but they sure are tasty. Our group also made a bean salad with a mustard dressing that is so good I want to drink it!

A lemony cannellini bean dip with parsley and paprika (with awesome curry spiced pita chips on the side!)

And two soups: red lentil and yellow split pea.

Another group’s kidney dip was too pretty not to photograph…

The spread was uh-mazing, I can’t wait to try making these recipes at home once my current bean coma has worn off!

One of my classmates, Gabe, brought homemade truffles for dessert that were honestly some of the best truffles I have ever eaten. He made three flavors: chipotle, rosemary (pictured) and plain.

Truffles seem like a very labor-intensive endeavor but I think they would make really cute homemade gifts for the holidays! I can’t believe it’s already the weekend, and a three day one at that. I have a busy yet fun-filled weekend of postponed Valentine’s Day activities ahead of me!

Raising the Bar Granola

I was walking home today and I wanted to buy granola at the farmer’s market since I had some yogurt in my fridge and nothing to go with it. Unfortunately my plan was ruined because I had no cash and was too lazy to go to the ATM. I couldn’t let my yogurt go uneaten so this granola recipe was born.

Raisin Almond Granola

  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • ¼ cup raw honey (I think any honey would do in this recipe)
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp natural creamy peanut butter
  • ½  cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325F. Whisk together the wet ingredients in one bowl and combine the dry ingredients in another. Add the dry to the wet ingredients and mix with your hands until every oat is coated with the honey mixture. Spread out on a sheet pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, making sure to periodically stir the granola around so the outer edges don’t burn. Once you take it out the over, don’t be worried if it’s not completely dry, it will crisp up as it cools.

This was honestly one of the easiest recipes I ever made; it came together in no time! I’m definitely going to make all my granola from scratch from now on. This granola recipe is also very versatile; you can use any combination of dried fruit and nuts that you want. It’s perfect for on top of Greek yogurt or as a snack all on it’s own. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Henry was not impressed my granola did not contain salmon...

I can see clearly now the (G)rain is gone.

Did everyone have a nice Valentine’s Day? I had a great time at Thai massage with Dan, but I wish Valentine’s Day was on the weekend this year because it was so hard to get up this morning. It should at least be a national holiday, am I right?

So, yesterday’s class was all about grains! It was actually the second day of “Grain Practicum” but it was the first for me since I was out sick on Monday with the stomach flu. Our class was divided into three groups that were each responsible for certain recipes. Within our groups we split up the recipes and I was assigned the polenta. I had never made polenta before and it was so fun! I definitely want to make polenta more often since I am totally hooked on the yellow stuff.

After preparing our polenta, my partner and I cut out fun shapes with cookie cutters. Since it was Valentine’s Day we made sure to make many polenta hearts. Half of our recipe was being baked and the other half fried. Believe it or not I actually think I liked it baked better!

Our class also made baked millet croquettes (which were BOMB!)

Barley and squash stew (it tasted better than it looks!)

Quinoa

and risotto with short grain brown rice instead of arborio.

For me the polenta definitely stole the show! I’m so happy to have been exposed to all these new grains; it has definitely opened my palate up from just brown rice. I now have 3 different types of brown rice, amaranth and millet in my freezer (and I will be getting cornmeal a.s.a.p. to make polenta)! Tomorrow is Bean Day!

My Feverish Valentine

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Being single sucks

and so does the flu

JUST KIDDING 🙂 (not about the flu though, that really does suck…)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I had was going to have a couple Valentine’s Day-themed posts since I was going to celebrate and make a nice HEARTy dinner for my beau last weekend. Unfortunately, my immune system did not agree with these plans and decided to allow a stomach virus to invade my body, which kept me out of commission all weekend.

Instead of luxurious Italian food and chocolate desserts, my menu looked more like this:

BRAT diet baby! Juice, coco water and white rice cooked in veggiestock.

With a side of this:

miso soup

Despite my sickly Valentine’s weekend, I want to take this moment to say that I have the best boyfriend in the entire world! While I was laying there Sunday night racked with violent fever chills (I literally could not stop shaking and when I would close my mouth my teeth would chatter!) and my skin hurt everywhere, my boyfriend just held me and rubbed my back until my fever broke and I fell asleep. That, my friends, is love.

I am feeling as good as new today and we will be shortly attending a workshop where Dan and I will learn to give one another Thai massage! How cool is that?

I hope your days are filled with love and sugar :). Tomorrow I will post about today’s Grain Practicum!