Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Perpetual Hunger! is back! and with a new mission statement...

My portion of this blog will now will be devoted to eating healthfully, CHEAPLY, and DELICIOUSLY!

Here are some things I want to make in the near future:

Homemade Celery Salt (FOR EGG SALAD YUM!)

I've made celery salt with a number of different types of salt, and the flaky, whispers of Maldon sea salt is my current favorite. The shards are similar in size to the crumbled celery leaves, which works nicely. With some of the finer sea salts, you get more separation. Which is not what you want.

Leaves from one bunch of celery
flaky sea salt (see head notes)

Pick the leaves from each celery stalk, leaving the stems behind. The outer leaves tend to be dark green and hearty, the inner leaves pale green and tender. I use them all.

Rinse the leaves with cold water in a strainer, then shake off as much of the water as you can. At this point you want to dry the leaves as much as possible, so they toast (not steam) when you cook them. Gently pat them dry in a clean dish towel, or paper towels. Once dry you have two options for toasting the leaves.

1) If I have a lot of leaves, I arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet, then bake in a 350F / 180C oven for about 5-7 minutes. Bake until dehydrated and crispy, but not browned.

2) If I have fewer leaves, or just don't feel like heating the oven, I'll throw them in a large skillet. Single layer if possible, over medium-low heat. Again, you want to barely toast them, not brown the leaves much.

In either case, when you're done cooking. Remove from heat and let the leaves cool completely. They'll crisp up even more at this point. When cool, use your fingers to crumble the leaves completely, discarding any leaves that aren't crispy.

Combine equal parts celery leaves and salt in a jar, and either stir or shake to distribute the celery leaves evenly throughout.

Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 5 min

Chopped Miso Salad Recipe

I used Westbrae Natural Organic Mellow Brown Rice Miso for the dressing. If you like the flavor of sesame oil - go ahead and add it to your dressing in fact you can go ahead and add it "to taste" - although sometimes I like to go a bit more neutral and skip rhe sesame oil altogether. I also had two small heads of little gem lettuce so I threw them in here as well. You can use any kind of extra-firm tofu you like here - this salad works well with baked tofu or plain. Tofu cooked in a skillet for a few minutes to take on some color is great - I cheated a bit and used Soy Deli baked tofu (savory) for the salad pictured up above.

1 1/2 cups shallots, skinned and thinly sliced
splash of extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

2 tablespoons miso
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard (or a bit of whatever mustard you have around)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or honey or agave)
1/4 cup (brown) rice vinegar
1/3 cup mild flavored extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pure toasted sesame oil (optional)

1/2 of a medium-large cabbage
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
3/4 cup chives, minced
8 ounces extra-firm tofu (see headnotes), room temperature

Stir together the shallots, splash of olive oil and big pinch of salt In a large skillet over medium heat. Stir every few minutes, you want the shallots to slowly brown over about 15 minutes. Let them get dark, dark brown (but not burn). if needed turn down the heat. Remove them from the skillet and onto a paper towel to cool in a single layer. they should crisp up a bit.

Make the dressing by whisking the miso, mustard, and brown sugar together. Now whisk in the rice vinegar and keep whisking until it's smooth. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, and then the sesame oil. Two pinches of fine grain salt. Taste and make any adjustments if needed.

Cut the cabbage into two quarters and cut out the core. Using a knife shred each quarter into whisper thin slices. The key here is bite-sized and thin. If any pieces look like they might be awkwardly long, cut those in half.

Gently toss the cabbage, shallots, almonds, red onion, chives and tofu in a large mixing/salad bowl. Add a generous drizzle of the miso dressing and toss again - until the dressing is evenly distributed. Add more a bit at a time if needed, until the salad is dressed to your liking.

Serves 3 - 4 as a main dish, 6 - 8 as a side.

Summer Corn Salad

Save the corn cobs if you like - you can simmer them for a while to make a quick corn stock. I did this for a corn soup recently - turns out great. Also, if Mexican oregano is hard for you to come by, you can substitute fresh oregano, or chives, or whatever herbs you like, really. Mexican oregano is unique, potently fragrant, and zesty and earthy all at once - I have a fondness for it with corn, and with mushrooms as well.

6 ears of corn
1 large shallot, minced

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
v. scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons sunflower oil

3/4 cup / 4 oz / 115g toasted pepitas
3/4 cup / 4 oz / 115g toasted sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

Feisty Green Beans

Use a white wine that you'd want to drink after opening. And for those of you looking to speed things up, you don't need to slice the green beans, but it was a good call, the sauce gets into all the nooks and crevices.

1 pound green beans, thinly sliced (see photo)
1/2 cup / 2.5 oz / 70g golden raisins
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
3 bay leaves
1/3 cup / 80 ml white wine
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
scant 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup / 120 ml crème fraîche or sour cream
1/4 cup / 3/4 oz / 20g sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup / one handful of finely chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the green beans in a pot of well-salted boiling water for about a minute, just long enough that they lose their raw edge. Drain and dunk in ice-cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again and set aside.

In a small bowl cover the raisins with scalding hot water for five minutes, drain and set aside.

Heat your largest skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil, garlic, onion, and bay leaves. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions and garlic start to brown just a bit. Add the wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated. Carefully remove the bay leaves. Stir in the paprika, cumin, coriander, curry powder, salt, crushed red pepper flakes. Stir in the tofu and raisins and cook until heated through, a minute or so. Add the butter and green beans and stir until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the crème fraiche, then most of the almonds and most of the cilantro. Taste and add more salt and some pepper if you like. Serve topped with any remaining almonds and cilantro.

Serves 4 to 6.

Inspired by a recipe in Anna Getty's Anna Getty's Easy Green Organic, to be published by Chronicle Books, 2010.
Prep time: 30 min - Cook time: 15 min

Simple Cauliflower Recipe

To make this recipe vegan, just omit the Parmesan cheese finish - still delicious.

2 - 3 heads of small cauliflower (or 1/2 head large)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
a couple pinches of sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small bunch of chives, chopped
zest of one lemon
freshly grated Parmesan
a bit of flaky sea salt

To prep the cauliflower, remove any leaves at the base and trim the stem. Now cut it into tiny trees - and by tiny, I mean most florets aren't much larger than a table grape. Make sure the pieces are relatively equal in size, so they cook in the same amount of time. Rinse under running water, and set aside.

Heat the olive oil and fine grain salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cauliflower and stir until the florets are coated. Wait until it gets a bit brown on the bottom, then toss the cauliflower with a spatula. Brown a bit more and continue to saute until the pieces are deeply golden - all told about six minutes. In the last 30 seconds stir in the garlic.

Remove from heat and stir in the chives, lemon zest, and dust with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of flaky sea salt (if you have it on hand). Serve immediately.

Serves 2-3 as a side.

Cashew Curry Recipe

There are few things as satisfying as cooking with your own freshly ground curry powder. I've included a favorite curry powder recipe below.* I use an electric spice grinder, and then sift the powder through a sieve to rid it of any remaining over-sized particles. Feel free to play around with other seasonal vegetables here. And as I mention up above, feel free to experiment with other curry powders as well. Because each curry powder is different, if you aren't sure about the amount of curry powder to use, start with a little on the front end, and add a bit at a time (after you add the water), until it tastes good to you.

1 cup whole coconut milk
1 - 2 tablespoons curry powder*
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
1/3 cup water
4 ounces firm tofu, cut into small cubes (optional)
1 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch segments
1 1/2 cups cauliflower, cut into tiny florets
1/3 cup cashews, toasted
a handful of cilantro, loosely chopped

Bring half of the coconut milk to a simmer in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Whisk in the curry powder and salt, working out any clumps. Now stir in the chopped red onion and garlic and cook for a minute. Stir in the remaining coconut milk and the water, and then the tofu. Cook down the liquid for a couple minutes before adding the green beans and cauliflower. Cover and simmer for just about one minute, maybe two - or just until the cauliflower and beans lose their raw edge and cook through a bit. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the cashews. Taste and adjust the seasoning (salt / curry powder) if needed. Serve with a bit of cilantro topping each bowl.

Serves Serves 2-3.

*I like to make my own curry powder on occasion using the freshest whole spices I can come by. This curry powder has evolved from one I read about in Sri Lanka a few years back - if you like more heat, add another red chile or two. In a dry skillet over medium heat toast 4 dried red chiles, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves. Toast for just a minute or two or until the spices are deeply fragrant. Now use a spice grinder to grind the chiles into a powder first, remove them, then grind the spices - it usually takes a couple minutes in the grinder for each. Place in a small bowl and stir in a scant tablespoon of ground turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Sift through a medium-fine sieve to weed out any clumps and your curry powder is ready to use. Makes a scant 1/3 cup.

Thai-spiced Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Keep in mind that different Thai curry pastes have differing strengths. Start with a teaspoon to start and then build from there until the soup has a level of spiciness and flavor that works for your palete. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

2 acorn squash, pumpkins, or other smallish winter squash
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 teaspoon (or more) red Thai curry paste
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt (or to taste)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the oven racks in the middle.

Carefully cut each squash/pumpkin into halves (or quarters). Slather each piece of squash with butter, sprinkle generously with salt, place on a baking sheet skin sides down, and place in the oven. Roast for about an hour or until the squash is tender throughout.

When the pumpkin/squash are cool enough to handle scoop it into a large pot over medium high heat. Add the coconut milk and curry paste and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and puree with a hand blender, you should have a very thick base at this point. Now add water a cup at a time pureeing between additions until the soup is the consistency you prefer - a light vegetable stock would work here as well. Bring up to a simmer again and add the salt (and more curry paste if you like, I used just shy of 6 teaspoons but the curry paste I use is not over-the-top spicy).

Serves six.