Corn and Kale Chowder with Sour Dough Croutons

I don’t know where I got the idea to make chowder, but I’ve always wanted to try it and never had. Since becoming dairy free I rarely order soups out and only eat creamy ones at home. I wasn’t sure what makes a chowder different to a soup so I did some research and it has quite an interesting history.

Chowder is a seafood or vegetable stew or thick soup. It is usually is made creamy but adding milk or cream and is eaten with or thickened with broken up saltine crackers. Famous chowders you may of heard of are the New England clam Chowder and Manhattan clam chowder. However corn and potato chowders are also very popular in American cuisine.

Chowder originally originate in Europe. There are a few theories to where the word chowder originate from. Perhaps it was originally derived from the Latin cuisine[1]word calderia means a place to warm things, which later came to symbolize a cooking pot or a cauldron. Perhaps it originated from the French word chaudière  means a cooking or heating stove; or from the old English word jowter, which means fish peddler. Or maybe it originated from the French dish chaudrée (thick fish soup from Charente-Maritime and Vendée. Nevertheless chowders were prepared in fishing villages along the coast of France and Southwestern England.

Although this dish has its roots in France or England it has become quite famous in New England and Atlantic Canada. It was brought to North America by early settlers. They would of originally used fish, salted pork and ship’s biscuits. Later shellfish, like clams became more frequently when they were in season. CVR_SFS_ClamChowder_article

There are numerous different clam chowders from different regions in North America. Famous ones include New England Chowder (milk based), Manhattan Chowder (broth & tomato based), Rhode Island clam chowder (clear broth). Obviously non of these are vegetarian. However, the Corn Chowder which I have tried to emulate is vegetarian.

The Corn Chowder is very similar to the New England Chowder, in that it is a thick creamy milk based soup. However instead of clams, corn is used. The main ingredients include corn, milk or cream, potatoes and onions. Potato chowder is similar except that cheese, sour cream or bacon is often added.

To make this recipe I consulted a few vegetarian and vegan recipes, including Jamie Oliver’s Corn Chowder and Cheeking Kitchen’s Vegan Rich & Hearty Corn Chowder. I decided to use kale, lemon thyme and garnish with chives, as my mum brought me heaps of lovely produce from the Eagle Farm Markets. My soup didn’t turn out as thick as I would of liked. I think it may have been the gluten free flour. Rather then adding more flour I left it a bit thinner. With the delicious croutons it was a delicious hearty meal. All my family commented how nice it was. This recipe can be made nut free if you prefer to use soy milk instead of almond. It can also be further thickened by using a cashew cream or more flour.

Have you made Corn Chowder before? What ingredients do you like to add to make it shine?

???????????????????????????????

Corn and Kale Chowder with Sour Dough Croutons (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients for Soup:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onion diced

2 sticks celery, diced

700 g red potatoes. cubed

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup lemon thyme

2 litres vegan chicken liquid stock

3 tablespoons gluten free flour or corn flour (use unbleached plain flour if you can tolerate)

2 cups plant milk (coconut or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

4 cups tuscan kale,  chopped

sea salt to taste

chives to garnish

Ingredients for Croutons:

1/2 loaf white sour dough bread,  chopped into cubes

olive oil

sea salt

garlic powder

ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Method:

1. Take a large pot and heat olive oil. Add the onions and celery and cook for a few minutes, until onions are translucent.

2. Add the potatoes and white wine. Cook until the liquid is absorbed.

3. Add lemon thyme and liquid stock. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer for 15 mins, or until the potatoes have softened.. While its simmering, take about 1 cup of the stock out of the pot and whisk it with flour, then add it back to the pot.

4. Add almond milk, tuscan kale and sea salt. Cook until kale has cooked.

5. In the meantime, place bread in a mixing bowl. Coat with olive oil, garlic powder and sea salt. Then in a medium hot pan toast the bread until it is crunchy.

6. Serve soup with chives and croutons on top.

*Chowder serves 8, croutons serve 4-5

???????????????????????????????

Something new that we bought over the weekend was a Santa Claus melon or Spanish melon. I have never seen this kind of melon before. They had samples at the fruit shop and we really liked it. The flesh is a yellow-white color  and the skin is green with yellow. Apparently the more yellow the skin the sweeter it is. It doesn’t taste like a regular melon, its really sweet and a bit firmer.

DSC06436

I made us some smoothies for work using the melon, parsley and spiralina. It was delicious, but a little thicker then I expected. I recently bought these nice glass drink bottles for juicing. Now its worked up a little I’m hoping to get better use of of them.

???????????????????????????????

Advertisements

General Tso’s Tofu with Brown Jasmine Rice

Tonight I was trying to figure out what to make with a nearly empty fridge. All I had was some leftover tofu. I was searching for recipes and I came across this recipe for General Tso’s Chicken. Luckily I had all the ingredients for the sauce and some frozen vegetable in the freezer to go with it.

I am really happy I made this dish. The sauce was really delicious. Although this dish isn’t the healthiest it has rich flavors and so you don’t need to eat a lot of it. It went really well with steamed rice and stir fried veggies.

General Tso’s Chicken is a popular Chinese dish, which is you can find in Chinese restaurants across North America. It consists of deep-fried chicken, breaded with eggs and cornstarch, with a thick sweet and mild spicy sauce made of soy sauce, rice wine, rice wine vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, dried red chili peppers (whole), garlic, MSG. I have never see this dish in any Chinese restaurants in Australia or heard of it before, but it does have an interesting history.

zuozongtangSo who was the man that this dish was famously named after? General Tso Tsung-tang (左宗棠 or Zuo Zongtang) was a general and statesmen from Hunan, during the Qing dysnasty. He famously served his country during the dynasties civil war again the Taiping Rebellion, founded modern arsenal, dockyard, new efficient logistics systems; pushed Russian forces out of China and held many positions in the China’s government.

This dish was not a traditional dish that was created for General Tso when he was alive, nor is a traditional dish in the region that he comes from. Even the people from his home town, and his living descendants haven’t heard of this dish. Rather this dish was created  in the late 20th century and named after General Tso for his historical significance.

Who actually invented this dish? Well there are a few different theories and claims that have been made. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, who wrote The Chinese Kitchen,  claims that this dish is actually adapted from the humble Hunan chicken, which is known as Zongtang. This translates to ‘ancestral meeting hall’ in Cantonese and does not refer to  Zuo Zongtang. Another claim is that the dish was created by Taiwan-based Hunan cuisine chef, Peng Chang-kuei. In the 1970’s he moved to New York, and began experimenting with old dishes and creating new ones. Apparently he adapted this traditional dish to please local American tastes, by adding sugar. The last claim is from a New York Chinese restaurant that claim that a Chinese immigrant chef who worked for them, T.T. Wang, invented this dish in 1972.

Regardless of the creator of this dish, it is clear that it is an adapted Chinese recipe that was designed to attract local American patrons. Like many other dishes from other cuisines, many Chinese dishes have also been modified by Chinese chefs for local western tastes. Dishes like this one have been deep frying and sweetening and undoubtable bears little resemblance from the dish it was derived from.  A typical serving General Tso’s chicken has around 1300 calories, 11 grams of saturated fats and 3200 milligrams of sodium. So its definitely not a everyday dish. Since this version uses tofu, it is a bit healthier then the original, but the sauce still has alot of sodium and sugar added, so it won’t be a regular weekly special on my menu.

DSC04002

General Tso’s Tofu with Brown Jasmine Rice  (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 cups brown jasmine rice

400g firm tofu

1/2 tablespoon shaoxing wine

pinch of sea salt

1/3 cup cornstarch

canola oil

2 teaspoons diced fresh ginger

1 garlic clove , diced

4 dried red chilli, rinsed and deseeded

white part of 2 scallion, diced  (optional)

Ingredients for Sauce:

2.5 tablespoons chinese rice vinegar

2.5 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce or dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

1/4 cup water

2.5 teaspoon evaporated cane sugar or raw sugar

1/2 tablespoon shaoxing wine

1 teaspoon corn starchP1000607

Method:

1. Put rice in the rice cooking or cook on stove according to packet instructions.

2. Press tofu, then chop it into cubes. Marinate the tofu in shaoxing wine and sea salt. Leave for 15 mins.P1000611

3. Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set to the side.

4. Coat the tofu in corn starch.P1000612

5. Heat wok with oil then fry the tofu until golden brown. Place the tofu on a paper towel to drain oil. Remove oil from wok.

6. Add 1.5 tablespoons oil in the wok and add the garlic, ginger and red chili. Cook for 4 mins or until the chili becomes fragrant.

7. Then add the sauce to the wok. Cook until it comes to the boil and comes thick. It took about 10 mins for my sauce to become thick.

8. Add tofu and shallots to the wok. Cook for 2-3 mins then serve immediately with steamed rice and asian greens/stir fry vegetables.

*Serves 4

???????????????????????????????

General Tso’s Chicken <http://rasamalaysia.com/general-tsos-chicken/&gt;

General Tso’s chicken <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Tso’s_chicken&gt;

Who Was General Tso? <http://mentalfloss.com/article/28421/who-was-general-tso&gt;

General Tso’s Chicken <http://appetiteforchina.com/recipes/general-tsos-chicken/&gt;

Adzuki Chili Casserole with Cornbread Topping

Last nights dinner was my attempt at an American classic, chili and corn bread. In Australia, we don’t usually cook American dishes like this. We have a lot of influence from Asia, Europe and even the Middle East, but not a lot of American cuisine. I often cook  ‘mexican’ chili con carne. In recent years I have been making my own spice mix. I am not sure if I make it the right way, but it my best attempt at emulating the Mexican spice mix that you can buy in the packet. This is also my first attempt of making cornbread. I have tried corn bread a couple of times in the past in ribs restaurants They usually serve this as a entree, with lots of butter. I have always really liked the sweet and savory taste of it.

To put this dish together I used the left over rice and Eggplant & Capsicum Pasta Sauce from the day before. I also soaked some adzuki beans over night and cooked them up, so they were ready to add to any dishes. I used the rice to make a crispy base for the casserole. I was considering making a pie, but I didn’t really feel like making dough. I was also worried that if I used puff pastry, then it the sauce would go through it. I saw some recipes using rice with eggs to make pie or quiche bases, so I tried to do that. It turned out to be a really solid base and held the chili well. 

???????????????????????????????For the chili I made my usually spice mix and added the cook adzuki beans and the pasta sauce. The spices really helped give the sauce a more southern taste. It was really easy to prepare and quick.

Lastly, for the top of the casserole I decided to do cornbread, because I had seen it somewhere, but then I couldn’t remember where. So after doing a lot of research and trying to find a vegan version, I came across this recipe for Black Bean Chili Pot Pie with Cornbread Topping from Chipped Bowl. I decided to also add cinnamon to the batter, as I saw this in another recipe by Nigella Lawson. I had to make a double the portion for the size of my casserole, which I adapted below. This was my favorite part of the casserole. It was so sweet and fluffy. I could of just eaten this on its own.

My family were really blown away by this dish, as it was like nothing else they had tried before. I definitely want to make this a regular meal. I’m sure it would be great to serve for guests or family dinners. Let me know what your think of my attempt and how you make this American classic?

???????????????????????????????

Adzuki Chilli Casserole with Cornbread Topping  (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients for Rice Base:

2 cups of cooked rice

1/2 cup polenta or corn meal

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

Ingredients for Chili:

2 cups of cooked adzuki beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes or onion powder

1 tablespoon ground sweet paprika

1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 tablespoon dried oregano

3 cups tomato pasta sauce (I used leftover Eggplant & Capsicum Pasta Sauce)

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce

Ingredients for Cornbread Topping:

1 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (use gluten free flour if you prefer)

1 cup polenta or corn meal

3 tablespoons raw sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1.5 cup water

4 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. First make the spice mix for the chili. Combine the cumin, garlic powder, onion flakes, sweet paprika, cayenne and oregano in a small bowl.???????????????????????????????

3. Heat 2 tablepsoons of olive oil in a large pot. Then add the all the spices. Cook for 3 mins on medium heat.

4. Add the cooked adzuki beans to the pot and coat in the spices.  Cook for another 3 mins.

5. Add the sauce, water and worcestershire sauce. Adjust seasoning and cook for 15-20 mins.???????????????????????????????

6. In the meantime, prepare the rice base. Place cooked rice and polenta in a large bowl. Combine the water with the nutritional yeast, then add to the bowl. Add salt to taste and stir it through.

7. Take large casserole dish and grease with some oil, then place the rice mixture and press down so it is equally distributed as a base. Bake for 10 mins, then remove from the oven.???????????????????????????????

8. In the meantime, prepare the cornbread topping. Take another large mixing bowl combine the flour, polenta, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir well.???????????????????????????????

9. Then make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the water and vegetable oil and stir till combined.

10. Take the Casserole dish and place the adzuki chili on top of the rice base.

11. Then add the cornbread topping on top of the chili. Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins or until you can place a toothpick inside the topping and it comes out clean.

*Serves 8

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????