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Bottle Gourd Recipe with Tofu Recipe

Bottle Gourd Recipe with Tofu

01.24.11 by Jackie

Trái bàu translates to calabash, bottle gourd, long melon or opo squash. It's a very common vegetable used in Vietnamese cuisine. The shape is cylindrical and the color is light green. It's best harvested while still young. It can be boiled, stir-fried or added to soups. The texture is very similar to zucchini; the flesh is very soft, spongy and tastes mildly sweet.

Whenever I look at calabash, it makes me think of a very nice lady named Trần and her lovely family. Last year, I got to meet Trần through PhamFatale.com. She read my article about the dragon fruit that I bought at the market and she kindly offered to give me dragon fruit trees her mother grows as a hobby. Trần's mom has magical hands and is a very talented gardener. While visiting their garden in San Jose, I noticed beautiful, giant calabash growing on vines hung over a trellis. I took a few home with me and they were the some of the best I’ve ever had. I’m going to try and to grow some of my own this year, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

For this particular version I made a quick vegetable stir-fry, using miso and honey. In honor of the upcoming Asian New Year, I'm determined to eat vegetarian for a week and at the same time, shed a few pounds.  This recipe was a great way to kick off my challenge.


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Braised Tofu with Hoisin Sauce Recipe

Braised Tofu with Hoisin Sauce

01.27.10 by Jackie

Braising is one of the best cooking methods to increase the flavor of tofu. In this particular dish, I braised the tofu in a hoisin sauce-based mixture for its caramel color and subtle sweetness. To this, I added several vegetables such as wood ear mushrooms, button mushrooms, carrots and Japanese eggplants.

If you've been following my culinary adventures, you know I married a vegetarian. I'm not saying it as though it's a flaw, but I have to admit that when we first got married, I was a little nervous about what I was going to feed my sweetie. I really didn't have any familiarity with vegetarian cuisine. I love Lulu so much that I was determined to learn how to prepare flavorful vegetarian meals. Since then, I've tried boiling tofu, pan-searing it, grilling it, braising it and deep-frying it. I think I've gone through every possibility, but If you have any other methods you like for cooking tofu, please drop me a message. 

Braised Tofu in Hoisin Sauce Recipe with Picture


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Mediterranean Mini Pizza with Cannellini Beans and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus Recipe

I made a hummus pizza a few days ago and I felt like recreating a sandwich version of the dish with a bunch of Mediterranean ingredients. The problem was that I only had pita bread at home. I could have created a pocket in the bread and stuffed it, but I decided to place the ingredients on top of the pita bread to create a meal that resembled a pizza.

Following the Mediterranean theme, I made a cannellini bean and roasted red bell pepper hummus-like spread and topped it with Greek feta cheese, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, pickled shallot, black olives and marinated artichoke hearts. For the meat lovers out there, I would add some cubes of lamb kebabs.

I'm sure you've heard of 30-minute meals, but this took me 10 minutes, tops. Try this recipe the next time you're in a hurry. Beat that, Rachael Ray!


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Salad Nicoise  Recipe

Salad Nicoise

09.02.09 by Jackie

If you're ever fortunate enough to go to Paris, you are bound to walk by many sidewalk cafés, brasseries, bistros and the like. As ubiquitous are the chalkboards that guard the entrances to these eateries, calling out the specials of the day. On almost all of them, you will find salade niçoise.

This is not the tuna salad that one traditionally finds in America, slathered in mayonnaise and sweet pickles. Salade niçoise hails from the Côte d'Azur; region of France, and is named after the city of Nice. It is a combination of tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, eggs and canned tuna packed in oil. It is typically topped with anchovies and Dijon vinaigrette.   Like many French dishes, the name may evoke visions of elegance and glamour, but in reality the dish is the result of the vegetables and proteins available in that region of France. Put another way, it's really just a fancy way of describing a tossed salad from Nice.

I personally love this dish, because it is easy to make and perfectly captures the flavors of  the Mediterranean. It won't replace the traditional American-style tuna salad, but instead provide you with a healthier alternative.


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Pomegranate and Mandarin Marinated Tofu Recipe

If you're wondering why I made a pomegranate and mandarin sauce, the reason is simple: I love the flavors of both fruits and I think they complement each other very well. Both have acidic notes which make them work well together.

The combination is perfect for white meats, salads and tofu. To the pomegranate and mandarin juices, I added lavender honey, sugar cane vinegar and granulated sugar. I bound the sauce with a blend of walnut and olive oil. Before serving, I added some pink peppercorns and African basil leaves. This sauce will brighten whatever dish you add it to. 


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