Saturday, September 24, 2011

Quick Peanut Sauce

Take 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter. Add one tsp. brown sugar, two tbs. soy sauce, two tbs. vinegar, and one tbs. Braggs (or fish sauce, or more soy sauce.) Mix. Thin to desired consistency with water. (My mother makes this, and I used to make it from memory. I would attempt to thin the sauce with vinegar and soy sauce. It was flavorful. Then I asked her about her secret ingredient: it's water.) Correct the seasoning- add whatever makes the whole thing taste the way you want. Also, possibly add grated ginger, grated garlic, or toasted sesame seeds.

It's good poured over noodles- in which case I advocate the old-school technique- or as a dipping sauce for summer rolls, satay, or crudites.


Like the movie.

I cleaned out the fridge while making a gallon of pico de gallo- and found about seven eggplants hiding in there. It's time for the annual empty-the-kitchen ratatouille. This is a reasonable, pared down recipe. Feel free to quintuple. I assume this serves something like six, if you're sane.

Chop two onions, add to a large pot, and saute over low heat- stirring often- until nicely caramelized- about half an hour. Chop some peppers. You know, twoish bell peppers of any color, those sweet long peppers that are actually pretty hot, Hungarian wax peppers- I don't care. Chop them up. Roughly chop about seven cloves of garlic. I don't even know how I bought this much garlic. Chop up like a pound and a half of eggplant, which is a lot of eggplant, believe you me. It's not seven eggplants- it's about one big one, or two Chinese eggplants, or fifteen of those adorable Indian varieties.

Oh no, I forgot to add the Indian eggplants.

Blanch two pounds of tomatoes and let cool. Around now, the onions should be done. Turn up the heat, add the peppers, and cook for five minutes. Add the eggplant. Peel the tomatoes and slice into the pot.

Turn the heat down, cover, and cook for about two hours. It might not look like there's enough liquid, but the eggplant will soon start producing liquid. Stir every twenty minutes or so to prevent burning. If you want to put it in the slow cooker, put it in the slow cooker.

Spread on bread or crackers, or serve with an arugula salad. It's good with lemon and salt.

If there were a picture, it would be of my tired face.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Excuses, Summer Rice Bowl, Bahn Mi

It's still summer here in the Bay Area- and most of my cooking looks like this.

I would like to share my summer version of the rice bowl. I leave out the soup, the broccoli, and the sweet and sour root vegetables, and include cucumbers sliced into matchsticks, stir-fried long beans (with garlic, ginger, vinegar, and soy sauce), steamed sweet potatoes (cooked over the rice), and fried eggplant. (Eggplant soaks up a terrifying amount of oil- it's like frying a sponge.) We still include five minute tofu, sliced avocado, kim chi, and toasted sesame seeds. The number of sides might be a little out of control, now that I think about it.

Speaking of frying eggplant- in it I have found a worthy vegan base for Bahn Mi. Let us rejoice, and eat delightful sandwiches. The key is delightful crispy rolls and very good vegetables. I use a mix of cucumber slices, bell peppers, jalapeños, tomatoes, fresh fried eggplant (or a slice of bacon or pork belly. I am weak), cilantro, basil, sour kim chi, mint, daikon.... I pretty much toast a torpedo roll, hollow it out a little, slather it with soy sauce mayonnaise, and then fill it with the sliced vegetable contents of my fridge and a few slices of something savory and full of fat.

Summer is excellent.