Monday, May 09, 2022

Getting our Cooking Groove Back

Cooking Less Meat Again

After three weeks of travel, and not cooking much, I have been back home for a week. Truthfully, for the last few days on the road, I was eating quite a bit of real junk food, including several McDonald's hamburgers. So it feels good to get back to my ongoing experiments cooking with less meat -- or no meat.

Jamaican Curried Tofu

Tofu is really an unfamiliar food for me, and it's taken quite a few experiments to find ways that we might enjoy it. My approach is to view it as a food in itself, not as an imitation of meat, because it's nothing like meat. This week, I tried a recipe for a Jamaican curry using tofu, and it was not bad at all. I was inspired by a blog called From the Comfort of My Bowl, written by Jhanelle Golding, a native of Jamaica who now lives in the US. I was inspired by a recipe called Vegan Jamaican Curry Tofu (Traditional Recipe!) 

The ingredient prep -- I didn't use the Scotch Bonnet pepper, which would have
been true Jamaican, because it would be too hot for us.

I added a few snow peas to the original recipe.

The final dish: tofu, vegetables, and brown rice. Quite enjoyable!

Mushroom Pancakes, Broccolini, and Gochujang Sauce

What's new here is a box of gochujang paste that I found in the supermarket Asian section. I was inspired by several recipes for a gochujang dipping sauce, as well as for some recipes for Korean pancakes. Since I was using up sourdough discard for the batter, I prepared  my normal savory pancake recipe and added lots of green onion and a few mushroom slices for each pancake. I stir-fried broccolini as the vegetable for dipping -- and we also dipped the pancakes. And I improvised a cucumber salad.

Ingredients for dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons gochujang Korean red chili pepper paste
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

Vegetables: broccolini, chopped green onions, mushrooms.

Mushroom pancakes, stir-fried broccolini, gochujang sauce, and cucumber salad.

Spaghetti Squash with Lemon-Olive Sauce

I don't remember ever cooking spaghetti squash before. Several food writers mentioned that this vegetable may look like spaghetti, but the texture and the taste are not in fact like pasta. I was warned! So I tried to find a recipe that would highlight the squashiness. My source recipe was from Food and Wine Magazine. Using an immersion blender, I emulsified lemon juice, oil, lemon zest, chopped green olives, and scallions, as the recipe suggested. I added some parsley as well. In addition to the garnishes of toasted almonds and feta cheese, I used some sunflower seeds (for part of the almonds) and additional lemon zest and parsley. We enjoyed the resulting dish.

The sauce, the nuts and seeds, the lemon zest and parsley, and the feta cheese.

Spaghetti squash roasting in the oven. The recipe says to boil the squash.
I think boiling squash halves sounds dangerous -- and not as tasty.

Squash: just out of the oven and spooned out of the skin.

The finished dish with a glass of white wine to share with the bloggers at Elizabeth’s weekly blog get together.

Mother's Day by Len: Tortilla Española

I'm not the only cook in the house! For Mother's Day, Len made me a Spanish potato omelet: Tortilla Española. He found a recipe that used lots of onions and lots of olive oil, so it was really delicious.

He flipped the tortilla and slid it back in the pan,
just as it should be done.

Of course we had some wine with the tortilla.

blog post © 2022 mae sander


DVArtist said...

You really are getting your cooking groove back. All of these look amazing. I do like me some tofu. Have a great day.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

This is a vegetarian's delight. I truly LOVE it all. I would love to try the potato tortilla, too. I hated tofu the first time I had it. Then I had some tofu soup and it picked up the flavors of the soup and I couldn't get enough of it. Like you, I don't look at it as a meat substitute, but something that picks up the flavor of the food in which it was cooked. I bet your tortilla went well with your wine, too. Thanks for sharing these meals and your wine with us for T this week, Mae.

Kate Yetter said...

Your meals are full of global inspiration. The Korean meal sounds the most appealing to me as I love Asian food. I recently discovered Gochujang while making kimichi and I love it! So much flavor.
Loved seeing all your meals.
Happy Tea Day,

Linda Kunsman said...

This all sounds so yummy to me- and I'd definitely skip those Scotch Bonnet peppers too:)
On a side- I didn't post recipe for the 'meatballs' because I copied it from a book (copyright). But it had a lot of ingredients besides the mushrooms - garlic, tomato paste, tamari, cannellini beans, ground flaxseed, vital wheat gluten, basil, oregano, much flavor! Thanks for sharing your food and links. Happy T day!

My name is Erika. said...

These all look yummy. You've been very experimental, but it is fun to try new recipes and new foods. Or at least I think so. Did you have a favorite of these? Happy T day Mae. hugs-Erika

Iris Flavia said...

Hmmm, this all looks so yummy! The mushroom pancake sounds very interesting. No, all sounds and looks fantastic. Have a happy T-day, sadly too early for a wine here (05:24 am).

Tandy | Lavender and Lime ( said...

I have made a few tofu dishes that are based in Asian cooking. And I agree with roasting and not boiling the squash. I'm not much of a junk food eater so I can relate to how you felt when you got home.

Valerie-Jael said...

You have cooked some varied and interesting meals. I am not at all back in the groove with cooking afer the ong time in the c linic. Happy T day, Valerie

eileeninmd said...

All these meals looks delicious. I would like to try the Tortilla Espanola that Len made for you. Take care, enjoy your day!

nwilliams6 said...

Wow, Mae, I am impressed with everything here. I want to try the spagetti squash recipe for sure. Great looking meals and I know your body was thankful after the hambergers! Happy T-day!!!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

I wanna come and eat at your house. There are so many ways to make food interesting and I think you know them all, Mae.

Lisca said...

It all looks very yummy. I admire you for trying all these new things. The mushroom pancakes look so good and the Spanish tortilla looks just as it should. I like mine with onion, but the population in Spain is divided on the issue. With or without onions.

Happy T-Day,

R's Rue said...

I love seeing all your meals. They look so good.

Jeanie said...

That tortilla Espanola looks like the best ever! Well done, Mae. You're really doing the less meat thing with some very interesting dishes!

Empire of the Cat said...

Wow Mae, I would like all of that! It looks delicious and I was pleased to read you were using your sourdough discard for the pancakes, as I was doing the very same thing this morning (and yesterday morning lol) as I am in the process of making more starter. Before I was vegan, I only ever experience tofu deep fried in Chinese restaurants and that was all I knew of it, but now I use it for so many things! It's very versatile isn't it. Happy T Day! Elle/EOTC xx

Divers and Sundry said...

Now I'm hungry lol All your food looks delicious, and I'm inspired by your variety. Happy T Tuesday

Karen said...

Lot's of great meals! My husband made a tofu parmigiana instead of chicken and it was very tasty.

jinxxxygirl said...

Everything truly looks delicious!! Glad you are enjoying getting back into cooking! Happy T day! Hugs! deb

Let's Art Journal said...

Wow, so many lovely food options! They all look so delicious and fun to make 😁. Happy T Day! Hugs Jo x

Kitchen Riffs said...

Some great meals here! And the sort of dishes we make a lot. I don't quite "get" why people want to imitate the flavor or look of meat in dishes when they're not using it. You've also reminded me it's been years and years since I've made Tortilla Española -- and now I'm SO in the mood for one. :-)

Sharon Madson said...

Experimental cooking for sure! I am not very good at experimental eating. LOL The spaghetti squash is the only thing that sounded good to me. Oh, and the Spanish omelet sounded good, too. Happy belated t day.

Sherry's Pickings said...

always good to get home and be able to cook again and eat olive oil and garlic and spices ...

Beth F said...

I love getting back into my kitchen after a vacation.

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

I find that it is more difficult to eat healthfully and mindfully when traveling. I'm sure it feels good to be home in your own kitchen and in control of your eating and cooking. Your vegetarian recipes are itnriguing and I especially am interested in the mushroom pancakes and Jamaican tofu dish.

Jackie McGuinness said...

I have tried tofu a few times and just didn't like it.
Gochujang is a big favourite of mine since I found it last year. I am on my second container.
I love broccolini! So glad you mentioned that spaghetti squash is nothing like pasta.
Tortilla Espanola is on my to cook list since we were in Spain. I must do it.
Mushroom pancakes sound good.
We're back from a week road trip so I am in the mood to cook again.

pearshapedcrafting said...

I love the results of your eating too much junk food! Tofu is such a texture love/hate issue- stronger flavours certainly seem to be the best way to use it. I'll be looking out for Gochujangnow too! Belated Happy T Day, Chrisx

Tina said...

It's always good to get back home after a trip and enjoy your kitchen again. Lots of wonderful healthy meals you have preapred. I'm envious!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Your food photography is exquisite Mae! I'm so impressed. Back in the BC (before covid) era, I used to try to plan some veggie dishes at home every week but it was always the same old ones over and over. Covid and more home cooked meals inspired both of us to try more ethnic and more veggie cooking since that was what we missed most about "eating out". NYT has some great vegetarian and vegan recipes and even a Veg newsletter and we have tried and loved a bunch of recipes.... I enjoyed reading yours so much and made note particularly of the gochuchang dip. I ordered some a couple of weeks ago and by the time it came I'd forgotten the name of the recipe I wanted to try ... I'm sure I'll locate it eventually, but meantime, I'll use yours!! (Bill makes some good KimChee pancakes -- I bet that dipping sauce would be perfect for those!)