Posts Tagged ‘soft foods’

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easy savory congee (garlic rice porridge)

January 22, 2020

Congee is the ultimate comfort food. If you like carbs, and you like sipping on soup or tea, you are going to love congee. If you have an upset stomach, or a toothache, you are going to love congee. If it’s cold out, and you want to get warmed up, you are going to love congee. It’s totally foolproof – anyone can make this.

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Add a bunch of water and rice to a pot (about a half cup rice for eight cups of water/broth/stock)

Add garlic powder, black pepper, and a few splashes of chicken stock or a few ice cubes worth of frozen chicken stock. You can really mix it up here – substitute veggie stock or broth with no problem. You can add five spice powder, or your favorite seasoning. Anything from curry powder to roasted garlic and scallions to mushrooms (fresh or dried) is great in congee. Toss in leftover meats or grilled veggies or whatever leftovers you have.

Takes a while, but you can mostly just ignore it, simmering on a low heat and stirring every once in a while. It’s ready when it’s a gloopy mash. Drizzle toasted sesame oil and la jiao jiang (hot pepper oil) on top – or yogurt and chives – or a little miso paste – or whatever you are craving.

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Can’t go wrong with congee. The more cold, sick, or sad I feel, the better this tastes. It got me through a root canal, plenty of hangovers, and lots of cold nights. It really warms you from the inside out. It’s the ultimate soft food (I dare you to find a food softer than this!) and perfect for babies, and adults who are acting like babies.

I know “porridge” (or, worse, “gruel”) might sound weird to Americans – it reminds me of Goldilocks and The Three Bears – but if you like chicken and rice soup, that’s basically what this is. If you eat polenta, grits, oatmeal, or cream of wheat, you can probably already see how good this rice congee tastes.

My favorite lately is congee cooked with stock/broth and lots of garlic, dried shiitake mushrooms, leftover roasted veggies, and a pinch of five spice powder, served with a poached egg on top, sesame seeds, and LOTS of hot chili oil.

It’s also a great base for a one-pot meal. Throw in cooked meat, chopped veggies – whatever you want.

Infinitely customizable, impossible to mess up, totally different, and extremely comforting. What could be better?

If you like sweet better than savory, try this eight treasure congee (八宝粥) with dried fruit and nuts. It tastes perfect with some brown sugar, like oatmeal but even more like a warm hug.

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green dill matzoh balls

December 17, 2019

4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or chicken schmaltz
1 cup matzo meal
1/4 cup seltzer water
2 tablespoons chopped dill
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more

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mix, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then roll into balls. drop into boiling chicken stock, simmer for 40-45 min, or until tender and puffy.

recipe by Leah Koenig for epicurious

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I loved the dill in these! However, for me personally, these were not my favorite recipe. I have read that seltzer makes matzoh balls tender, but this recipe was more mushy than tender. Definitely edible, perfectly fine matzoh balls. I like a light, delicate “floater”, and I also like a dense and chewy “sinker”. This middle ground mush (a hoverer?) was not my favorite! Not sure if it was due to the proportion of eggs to oil to matzoh, or the seltzer, or what. This was my first time trying plain seltzer in matzah balls, and I am not sold on it.

I invested in a giant mess of discounted matzoh this year, so I will keep trying matzoh ball recipes throughout the winter. I’ll let you know if I find my ideal recipe!

Looking to use a whole mess of dill? Make these matzoh balls, and serve the soup with beet salad with dilled yogurt!

Looking to expand your Jewish cooking repertoire? This spicy melon berry and mint salad is surprising, and this latke recipe is traditional!

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gajar halwa (Indian carrot pudding)

November 15, 2019

It’s dessert weather. If you want something to trick your loved ones into eating vegetables with something sweet and creamy and delicious, this is the ticket! Thanks to veg recipes of India for this one! If you like a soft, rich dessert that warms you from the inside, you’ll love this dessert!

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8 to 9 medium tender juicy carrots or 650 grams (gajar) – yields approx 4 to 4.5 cups grated carrots
4 cups full fat organic milk
4 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
10 to 12 tablespoons regular sugar or organic unrefined cane sugar OR 180 to 190 grams sugar – add as required
5 to 6 green cardamom (choti elaichi) – powdered finely in a mortar-pestle or about ⅓ to 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
10 to 12 whole cashews (kaju) – chopped
10 to 12 almonds – sliced or chopped
2 tablespoons golden raisins (kishmish)
1 pinch saffron strands (kesar) – optional

combine milk with rinsed, peeled, grated carrots.

simmer and stir until milk has reduced and become thick (might be a while)

add ghee, sugar, and cardamom – continue to simmer and stir

add the rest of the ingredients when the pudding has reduced quite a bit, and continue simmering until consistency is thick.

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recipe by Dassana of veg recipes of India

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I had a hard time eating the whole batch myself, so make sure you cut the recipe if you’re cooking for one, because this makes a lot of dessert! I like the consistency. It’s not exactly smooth like an American pudding, but not chewy like a British pudding, either. This is definitely its own thing! Definitely recommended.

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liangban tofu (chilled soft tofu salad)

July 31, 2019

ten minutes til a quick snack full of protein, all nine essential amino acids, iron, calcium, magnesium, and more…

one block soft tofu
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon black vinegar
2 fresh Thai peppers (you can replace it with chili oil)
1/2 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 green onion, finely chopped
minced cilantro, to taste
toasted Sichuan peppercorns, to taste

1. cube tofu and steam for ten minutes
2. separately, mix together all other ingredients
3. dump ingredients on top of tofu and refrigerate

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adapted from china sichuan food and tim elwyn

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my favorite tofu is definitely mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐) and my favorite junk food tofu is crispy vegan kung pao tofu

…but what if you don’t have an hour to press and fry tofu? what if you like mapo tofu but you don’t eat pork?

THIS is my new go-to quick tofu recipe for lazy vegans. it’s a great summer recipe, too, since you don’t have to kick your wok up to high heat.

i wasn’t completely smitten with it when i first tasted it, but once the tofu sucked up the sauce, i had no trouble eating an entire brick of tofu myself.

if you don’t care for wild splattering oil, if you’re on a diet, if you’re not into pork, if you’re in a rush, or on a soft food diet after surgery or dental problems, or if you’re just too lazy to cook, i definitely recommend this!

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polpette (Italian vegetarian “meat”balls)

July 22, 2019

Got a lot of stale bread? These are… food.

Zucchini 280 g
Stale bread 250 g
Eggs (about 1 medium) 50 g
Whole milk 60 g
Breadcrumbs 120 g
Basil to taste
Tomato pulp 150 g
Garlic 1 clove
Mozzarella 90 g
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
(edit: please add oregano or really anything)

– break up the bread and soak it in milk
– slice zucchini into “rather large slices,” heat up some oil in a pan, then fry them over medium heat for about 10 min or until cooked
– using a “robot” (I love Google translate; I am guessing you want to use a food processor) or a fork, mix zucchini with breadcrumbs, salt, bread, and pepper (and basil if using)
– add egg after blending, and blend until homogenous
– form balls of about 30-33 g in weight
– refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up so they don’t fall apart
– in a separate pan, start garlic (“or shirt if you prefer,” according to Google translate,) and add crushed tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper
– when tomato sauce tastes great, add balls and melt mozzarella over the the top. cover with lid.

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original recipe from giallo zafferano in Italian and here it is in English, run through a translator

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Okay, these are edible. If you have a bunch of stale bread, this is definitely a way to use it. It isn’t a GOOD way; it’s just a way. Being on a soft food diet, it’s nice having something shaped like a meatball, but you know what else is soft? Good vegan meatballs. I mean, vegetarian buffalo “meatballs” made with white beans are soft. Meatless wild rice and mushroom “meatballs” are soft. These are just straight-up BLAND! The texture is a bit gloopy on day one, and by day three mellow to a sort of gluey, gummy mess. So, the taste is bad. The texture? Also bad.

The only way I can recommend these is if you have a LOT of dumpstered bread to use. PLEASE add sautéed onions or garlic to flavor the polpette. Tagged “waste not,” because this might keep some bread out of the landfill. Tagged “soft food” because I ate these with a temporary crown, and it didn’t hurt. Ecstatic to use the “nope” tag for the first time in a year. This recipe could be adjusted to be more flavorful, but right now, these polpette are a solid nope.

This is solid proof that everyone creates a nightmare in the kitchen sometimes. Everyone occasionally ends up with a week’s worth of glue-balls. Jump in, try something new, and if it turns into paste, make something better next week!

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roasted tomato gazpacho

July 16, 2019

Roasting fresh summer tomatoes makes their flavor even more complex. If you have some sweet, one-note tomatoes, roasting them adds depth. Gazpacho adds everything a sweet tomato needs – acidity, and a little garlic and herb flavor.

If you are thinking, “Haven’t you already posted about roasting tomatoes?” – well, technically, yes, I posted a roasted tomato dip in 2011. This gazpacho is like a yogurt-free version of that dip that celebrates bright summer flavors.

Gazpacho is like salsa – everyone does it differently. BA’s recipe calls for shallots; Alton Brown’s calls for tomato juice and lime juice; Barefoot Contessa’s is mostly cucumber; Andrew Zimmern’s calls for a ton of Worcestershire.

Bloggers put everything from mango, to celery and sugar, to cumin, to a huge jalapeño in theirs.

I know everyone likes it chunky, but I’m tagging this with “soft foods” because I prefer a totally blended gazpacho. It’s such a refreshing incredible summer sipper.

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– a few pounds of sweet and acidic tomatoes
– a clove (two if they are small) of garlic
– sweet and/or hot peppers (optional)
roast above on 450 til roasty

cool, peel, then add to blender or giant mortar and pestle) with:
– splash of olive oil
– splash of Worcestershire
– half a cucumber (optional)
– red wine vinegar and/or lemon juice (any sour will do)
– whatever fresh herbs you have in the house (highly recommend fresh basil, dill, chives, and thyme, if you have it!)
– pinch of salt and pepper
– (optional, bloody mary style) a little grated horseradish, tabasco or other vinegary hot sauce, and extra splash of Worcestershire sauce

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recipe by friedsig, based on recipes from rozanne gold and food network magazine

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turkish-style braised eggplant

July 8, 2019

Craving something sweet, healthy, and vegan?

1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 large tomato, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
¼ cup raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
black pepper
½ cup roughly chopped dill
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
pinch of sugar (optional) 1 teaspoon sugar (optional – the raisins make it very sweet!)
Thick yogurt, for serving
Lemon wedges, for serving

1. Trim ends off the eggplant. With a vegetable peeler, cut off alternating strips of skin. Cut eggplant into 1-inch cubes, place in a colander over a large bowl and toss with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to 3 hours, rinse well and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible; do not break cubes up.

2. In a large skillet or saucepan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the eggplant cubes and move them around occasionally, until they are rather tender and somewhat browned, about 7 minutes. Remove from the pan with tongs, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Set aside.

3. Add remaining oil to the pan with the onions and pine nuts and stir occasionally, until the onions are transparent and some pine nuts are lightly browned, 7 or 8 minutes.

4. Return eggplant to the pan with the tomato, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, cumin and pepper. Mix well, then turn heat to low. Cover the pan and cook until the eggplant is very tender but still in distinct pieces, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring once or twice, until the liquid is somewhat thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.

5. Remove the pan from heat and let sit uncovered until it is at room temperature, about 45 minutes. Stir in the dill and parsley, adjust the seasonings to taste and serve, accompanied by yogurt and lemon wedges for squeezing.

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recipe by John Willoughby at the NYT

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I am firmly in the camp of people who never bothers to pan-fry eggplant. Why pan-fry, wasting all that time, when the eggplant just absorbs the oil? This method definitely worked, although the “7 minute pan-fry” was more like 17. The raisins and pine nuts meld perfectly with the other flavors. I cheaped out and skipped the dill and parsley, and it was still good. You can replace the pine nuts with lightly smashed walnuts or even peanuts. Even just a pared-down version of this – pinch of sugar and raisins, tons of eggplant and onions, a few nuts, fresh tomato, cinnamon, and cumin – would be incredible.

The salt cure really extracts a lot of the bitterness, but then again, I used super fresh eggplant from the farmers market that was nowhere near as bitter as the supermarket stuff. I think next time I’ll just roast the eggplant. It’ll turn the dish into more of an eggplant dip than distinct cubes of eggplant, but who cares? It’s easy.

Ended up eating this throughout the week as a dip with crackers, and had no problem finishing the whole thing.

Adding this one to my favorite aubergine / eggplant recipes. If you like the kick of sweetness to balance out the bitterness of the eggplant, this is in the top 3 that I would recommend, along with sweet and sour Indian eggplant, or Georgian-style eggplant stuffed with carrot and parsnip