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Sweet and Sour Meatloaf

25 Apr

Who doesn’t like a good meatloaf? It’s one of the world’s great comfort foods. Kids will like this one too, because of the tomato-y sweet and sour flavor.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. cider vinegar
1½ tsp. prepared mustard
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 lb. ground chuck
1 small onion, finely minced
½ tsp. garlic powder or 1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 egg
½ cup bread crumbs or corn flake crumbs
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make a sauce with the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard and half the can of tomato sauce.

Mix the ground beef with the onion, garlic, egg and bread or corn flake crumbs, salt and pepper. Form into a loaf shape and place in a greased baking pan. Pour the sauce over the top.

Bake about one hour.

Serves 4 to 6

Edamame Succotash

28 Mar

Once upon a time, when I still worked in an office, the HR people brought in a chef who worked on behalf of our health insurer so that he could give us tips on healthy eating. He not only gave us the healthy eating tips — presumably this would lower our insurer’s cost for our medical care — but he also did a cooking demo and left us with some great recipes. This salad wowed everyone, and I’ve made it several times since. It’s got an interesting combination of flavors  and all the different colors make it very pretty. And it’s very easy to make if you start with frozen edamame and corn and jarred peppers!

Ingredients:

1 ripe mango, cubed
1 package (16 oz.) frozen shelled edamame, thawed
2 cups fresh or frozen corn, thawed
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup raw or roasted red peppers, diced (you can use jarred roasted red peppers)
2 Tbs. Thai sweet red chili sauce
⅛– ¼ tsp. Thai red curry paste
1 Tbs. mirin or seasoned rice vinegar
1½ Tbs. toasted sesame oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine the mango, edamame, corn, cranberries and peppers in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the chili sauce, curry paste, vinegar, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat.

Serves 6 to 8

Cambodian Spiced Eggplant

7 Mar

I like to go to dinners organized by a group called Dining for Women. It’s a deceptively simple concept: invite a bunch of women to a potluck and contribute the money you would have spent on a restaurant meal to a nonprofit that helps women and girls in a third-world country.

Well, a dozen or so women in the suburbs or Detroit aren’t going to donate more than a few hundred dollars, but when the dinners are repeated in dozens of locations all over the country, some serious moolah  can be raised. The national organization chooses the recipient nonprofit, and provides a DVD for the dinner hostess showing the work the nonprofit does.

Last month’s dinner featured an organization in Cambodia that helps street children by giving them a place to live and teaching them useful skills so they can earn a living.

I looked for a simple Cambodian vegetarian recipe and found this one. Now the problem with eggplant — I admit it! — is it’s so visually unappealing, at least to me. If that’s your impression of eggplant too, get over it! It’s a delicious vegetable, and this combination of spices is very complementary.

I couldn’t find Asian eggplants so I used a large regular eggplant. And I didn’t have the fresh herbs for sprinkling on top, but the dish was still delectable. It’s also very easy to make, and leftovers reheat nicely.

Ingredients

6 Asian eggplants (small skinny ones) or two small or one large regular eggplant
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
½ tsp. ground coriander
Fresh coriander and mint to serve

Directions:

Chop the eggplant into pieces about a half-inch square.

Heat the oil in a wok and add the eggplant. Fry over a medium heat for about 4 minutes.

Combine all the other ingredients except the fresh coriander and mint in a small bowl and mix well.

Add the seasonings to the frying eggplant and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened.

Sprinkle with the chopped fresh herbs.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

Serves 4 – 5

Tofu in Mali Sauce

16 Nov

tofu-in-mali-sauceLast month I went to a potluck dinner for Dining for Women, an organization that pools contributions from small local events to make a big donation that helps women in Third World countries.

The theme of the evening was Mali (the funds raised would go to a program that supports literacy and numeracy education for women) and so I looked for a vegetarian Mali dish and found this. It was very easy to make and very tasty. I’ll definitely make it again.

The original recipe called for a full cup of water. I used a half-cup and the sauce was still pretty thin. I used home-made tomato sauce made from the last tomatoes in our garden and cooked it down significantly to thicken it a bit. Use your judgment — you don’t want the sauce to be too watery.

Ingredients:

1 package firm or extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed
½ cup onion, finely chopped
Cooking oil
2 Tbs. peanut butter
1/2 cup water
1 Tbs. palm sugar or raw sugar (I used agave nectar – can probably use cane sugar or honey)
1 Tbs, soy sauce or tamari sauce
1 cup tomato sauce or chopped and mashed tomatoes
2 cups cooked white or brown rice to serve

Directions:

Bring water to a low boil, then add the peanut butter. Cook for one minute while stirring. Remove from heat.

Add the sugar, soy sauce and tomato sauce or mashed tomatoes and cook for two minutes. Set aside.

In a separate pan, saute the tofu cubes with the chopped onions in the oil over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until onions are soft and tofu is starting to brown.

Put the tofu cubes into a serving dish and pour the sauce over.

Serve over boiled rice – or over stir-fried vegetables or baked potatoes.

Serves 4

 

 

 

Corn Cakes

11 Oct

corn-cakesEvery August my son plays with his bluegrass band at the Wilson County Fair in Tennessee. One year he brought us back a bag of “traditional stone ground corn” from the Livesay Grist Mill at Fiddlers Grove in Lebanon, Tenn.

On the back of the bag is a recipe for “Miss Valerie’s Hot Water Cornbread” — which I ignored for the longest time because it doesn’t include eggs, like my usual cornbread recipe, and I wondered how it could be any good. Then my daughter said she’d tried it and loved it, so I gave it a try, and she was right!

I think of cornbread as something baked in a square  or round pan and then cut into squares or wedges. In this recipe, the cakes are fried on the top of the stove.

These corn cakes are very easy to make, and the they taste yummy with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Ingredients:

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbs. sugar
1 cup boiling water

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients, then pour in hot water and mix quickly.

Heat 1/4-inch oil in a skillet, and drop the batter by tablespoons into the hot oil. Fry until golden on both sides.

Makes about 8 to 10 cakes.

Fresh Corn Salsa

8 Sep

Corn salsaWell, you could make this with frozen or canned corn, but it’s SO much better with fresh, and that’s SO easy to get right now that there’s no excuse.

This is a very easy dish to make, especially if you have a “corn zipper” tool to remove the corn from the cob. Leftovers will last about a week in the fridge.

Double the recipe if you’re serving a lot of people or taking this dish to a potluck.

Here’s a trick for cooking the corn easily:

Put it in the microwave, husks, silks and all, and nuke for 4 minutes at high for one ear or 8 minutes for two (don’t cook more than two at a time). When it’s done, cut about an inch off each ear above any stalk on the bottom. Then, starting at the top of the ear, squeeze gently and the corn will slide right out of the husks, without any silk (or very little) attached. You will probably need a potholder to do the squeezing, because the ear will be quite hot.

Ingredients:

Cooked fresh corn from 2 – 3 cobs
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
1/2 bell pepper, any color, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, chopped fine
1 small onion, preferably red, chopped fine
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. lime juice (or lemon juice if you don’t have lime)
1/2 tsp. salt or more to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Allow flavors to mingle for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Gazpacho

1 Sep

GazpachoIt’s the perfect season for gazpacho! Fresh tomatoes and cucumbers abound, and the heat makes it a good time for a cold soup.

I have a former neighbor, Rob Musial, to thank for this recipe. In the late 1970s, we lived in Detroit’s Palmer Park apartment community, and the citizens’ council published a cookbook, What’s Cooking in Palmer Park. Rob contributed this gazpacho recipe. Because the Ponchartrain Wine Cellar was a classy Detroit restaurant at the time, and because Ponchartrain Drive was a main street in Palmer Park, he called it Ponchartrain Drive Wine Cellars Gazpacho Soup.

I flip to the recipe so often, that page has come loose from the book’s plastic spiral binding.

I usually cut the tomato, cucumber, celery and scallion into large chunks and pulse them a few times in the food processor to chop finely. Don’t puree — you want to keep some crunchy bits.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 fat cloves garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes (or 3 medium ones), peeled and well chopped
1 large regular cucumber or 1 small English cucumber, peeled, seeded and well chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 dash of Tabasco sauce (or a few more if you like a little more spice)
3 Tbs. vinegar
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 cup chopped scallions
2 celery sticks, finely chopped (optional)
5 cups tomato juice
croutons for garnish (optional)
sour cream for garnish (optional)

Directions:

In a soup pot, saute the onion in the oil until they are tender.
Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat off.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
Add the tomatoes, cucumber and all the remaining ingredients except croutons and stir well. If using a food processor, cut the vegetables into large chunks and pulse until the soup has a chunky consistency, then add the spices.
Refrigerate for several hours. Serve chilled, garnished with croutons and/or sour cream if desired.