Hoisin Sauce

I bought some Hoisin sauce from Whole Paycheck, and even from that supposedly-natural source, this jar has a lot of dodgy ingredients.  SOOOO… Make-Over Time!!!  I am going to make my own.  I found a couple of recipes on-line that I’ll use as inspiration, and I’ll list them at the bottom of this blog post.  While both recipes are on Food.com, they have different authors and somewhat different ingredients, but both say either black bean paste OR peanut butter can be used.  Since black bean paste wasn’t forthcoming in my neck of the woods (at least not immediately, and I had no time to go the extra mile driving looking for it), I went with peanut butter.

hoisin, recipe, Chinese

Sorry, hoisin sauce is naturally non-photogenic…

I assume you can also sub in the equivalent amount of cashew butter if you are peanut-sensitive (or on a Paleo plan), but in my case I have a nasty “gut” reaction to many tree nuts, and don’t like cashews enough to find out if they are part of the exception or the rule.  Peanuts don’t do that to me.

Prep Time:  10 minutes.
Cook Time: Not needed 
Rest Time: Not needed
Serves:  As a condiment, it depends on your planned use.

Hoisin Sauce (Peanuts or Black Bean)

  • 8 tablespoons low sodium gluten-free tamari  (Again, I’m partial to San-J’s brand)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter (or black bean paste) – I selected a peanut butter with no additives, including no added salt.  Add more peanut butter/black bean paste if you need it.
  • 2 tablespoons organic coconut palm sugar (or sub honey, or molasses)
  • 4 teaspoons plain rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, or 2 finely minced garlic cloves
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 – 1.5 teaspoons Korean hot pepper powder OR 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of Chinese hot sauce (I used 1/4 teaspoon of the Korean pepper powder as I wasn’t certain of the heat tolerance of everyone who would be partaking.)   Start low, add more as desired.  For myself, I’ll up the amount next time.
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper.
  • If you are really missing the salt, add some — but I’d rather add it directly while cooking, not putting it into the condiment prior to cooking with it.

Mix.  Cook with it.  Use it as a dip.  Re-mix if you store it before using (store in fridge, of course).

From Food.Com, Homemade Hoisin Sauce.
From Food.Com, Hoisin Sauce Recipe.

Included in the Real Food Friday Link Party, and in the Fiesta Friday Link Party.


Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Condiments, Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Indian Uttapam Pancakes

This is made for the Pancake Challenge Link Party, hosted by Natascha’s Palace, and assisted by Lin of Lin’s Recipes.  And well, because they turned out quite good, too!   They’d be great to bring to a brunch where you’d cook up the pre-made batter and toppings on-site.

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

Three savory mini uttapam breakfast pancakes

What is unique about these pancakes is that they are made from a rice and a urad dal base.   Urad dal is a light-colored lentil bean, which can be found in most large supermarkets in the “ethnic” section.  Sometimes this is labelled”black gram”, although this is actually white.  Mine also says “Split Mapte without Skin” — mabye the skin is dark?  At any rate, these guys are naturally gluten-free.  These are thick pancakes, and definitely hearty.

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

The batter, after fermenting overnight

I’m late to the link party — I’ve been running non-stop and seriously NEED to stop and smell the roses, the coffee, and perhaps the pancakes (and get the ingredients together).  On top of that, last night I needed to do the good ole System Restore for the computer to remember the camera.

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

This amount of chopped toppings would be good for six mini-pancakes. Play around!

I saw a variety of recipes out there for this item, but the one I leaned the most on is this one at Udupi Recipes.

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

Two are flipped, the third awaits. They hold together surprisingly well.

Prep Time:  Prep is not long, maybe 15-20 minutes.They need to soak for 4 hours, then ferment another 10 hours more or less.
Cook time: About 15 minutes.
Rest time: none.
Serves 3 to 4.

Indian Uttapam Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup rice — I opted for “broken’ rice which I found at my local Indian market.  Figured this would save on my poor little food processor!
  • a very generous 1/8 cup urad dal
  • 1/3 teaspoon fenugreek powder
  • 3 tablespoons rice starch.  (I had brown rice starch in the house, so I used that.)
  • a pinch or so of salt

For the savory toppings to cook in  (you may need more, and you can play around with this!   I knew I wasn’t going to eat all this in one meal, and indeed I chopped up enough that I will only want to add a couple more curry leaves from to tomorrow’s breakfast).

  • 1 tomato, preferably Roma or plum, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • several fresh curry leaves, chopped.  (Frozen works too, but add a few more.)
  • Other ideas:  cilantro, chili peppers (and yes, I’m also doing those for my leftover batter tomorrow)!

Optional condiments to add after cooking

  • Ghee
  • Chutney –loads of possibilities here.
  • Sambar paste — the one from a company named MTR had ingredients I can definitely stand behind.

Soak the rice and urad dal (lentils) together in water to cover by at least an inch or so for around four hours.  I ended up soaking them about 12 hours because, yes, I really was away at work/commuting for nearly that long.

Rinse and drain four or five times.

Run through a food processor, adding enough water to give you that wheat flour pancake sort of consistency — slightly thicker but not by much.  Mine came out somewhat granular, but this turned out not to be a defect.

Add in the fenugreek and rice starch — adjust water if necessary.

Allow to ferment overnight in a warm spot in your home.

In the morning, for breakfast:  chop up your toppings.  Add the salt to the batter and mix.  Set a skillet or griddle on your range top, and turn the heat to medium/medium-high.  When a drop of water sizzles, add your batter — I opted to make small pancakes but you can go standard sized with a regular ladle if you wish.  Reduce heat to medium.

Immediately, put toppings on the uncooked surface of the exposed pancakes.  I gently pushed them in to the batter just a short way, without mushing down the pancake, as I didn’t want them to flop out all over the skillet when I flipped these.

Just as with pancakes you are probably already used to, air bubbles and holes will form at the top of the batter.  I let these develop for a couple more minutes before flipping.

Cook on the other side about five or so more minutes, remove from heat, flip back so that the toppings really ARE toppings.  If you want ghee, add a little ghee to the warm top surfaces of your pancakes — or to be strictly vegan (or dairy-free), that Sambar paste I picked up at the Indian market is awesome — a little DOES go a long way!)

Here are some of the packaged ingredients I found to use:

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

Rice and fenugreek powder

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

urad dal and spicy sambar paste

Also partaking in:  Real Food Friday Link Party and Fiesta Friday Link Party.


Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Breakfast, Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Squid with Olives and Tomato Sauce- A Greek Lenten Dish

I’m a sucker for (nearly) anything seafood.  (I really have yet to try salt cod, and I’ll pass on the Japanese fugu and the live Korean octopus — speaking of suckers, thank you.)  I know when growing up I was always looking forward to Fridays in Lent, because my parents made the most astounding seafood for most of those Fridays.   Or else they made wonderful creations with eggplant.  (Which I guess was not really the purpose behind Lenten “no meat” rules — you were supposed to be giving something up, and eating, say, Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks instead.  I certainly wasn’t going to rock the boat, and complain…)

Greek, squid, olive, tomato sauce, recipe

Squid, olive, tomato.


I saw some  lovely squid at my supermarket, and so I simply had to bring some home with me — and I got mostly tentacles, as the fishmonger was telling me he gets plenty of people who only want the “tubes” — the bodies.  I love both parts — and here’s a secret:  they both taste pretty much the same.

Normally, I cook my squid by briefly boiling it, but the recipe I stumbled over pan-fries them instead.  So… hey!  The author notes that her rendition of this Greek recipe is seasoned towards Lent — less sweet, no cinnamon, more savory.

So, do check her post out at Squid with Green Olive Tomato Sauce.   I only made slight variations.  (She has a lot of other tasty-sounding Greek recipes lurking around on her blog as well.)

Prep time:  5-10 minutes if the squid is already cleaned
Cook time:  15-20 minutes
Rest time:  Not much
Serves 2 hearty appetites

Greek Squid with Olives and Tomato Sauce

  • 0.8 – 1 pound of cleaned squid, with tentacles separated from bodies.  Bodies chopped into rings of about 1/2 to 1 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped.
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6-8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine.
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • about a dozen or so pitted olives (I mixed up green and black from our olive bar)
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Use half the olive oil, and heat over a cooking pot to medium. Add in the onion, and stir around until translucent, about ten minutes.  Add the garlic; stir another minute.

Add everything else except the remaining oil and the squid.  Turn up the heat, and allow the sauce to come to a boil, then reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer for around 15 minutes.  (At the end of the cooking time, taste for any seasoning modifications.)

While that’s simmering, put the rest of the oil in a second pan or skillet, turn up the heat to medium high, and when the skillet is hot, toss in your squid and stir it around for a minute – the squid will lighten up and shrink.  DO NOT OVERCOOK!  (Remember rubber bands??)

Remove from heat, and when the simmering pot with the tomato sauce is just about ready, stir in the squid for a couple of minutes.  and remove from heat.

Serve in a bowl, and include a spoon for those juices.

Serving suggestion:  Serve alongside a nice Greek salad with feta, or perhaps goat cheese.

Leftovers?:  Well, I ate them cold, rather than risking rubberized squid — still quite good!

Greek, squid, olive, tomato sauce, recipe

Ready and waiting for that sauce to finish simmering!

Ah, yes, Link Party Time!






Posted in Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Valentine’s Day: Enjoying Strawberry Ice Cream with Cocoa Powder and Ground Dried Strawberries.

Both strawberries and chocolate are considered aphrodisiacs.  So, what better than to combine them?

ice cream, cocoa powder, strawberry

Ice Cream!

No, I didn’t make the ice cream, but I got it from a local home-made-quality source — it is hard to make the supermarket strawberry ice creams taste remotely “real”.  But these guys use real strawberry in their ice cream, and they treat their cows right.  I dipped into some of the dehydrated strawberries I made last summer.

Prep Time:  Assuming you already have dehydrated strawberries, 10 minutes.
Cook Time:  Nope.
Rest Time:  Not advised.
Serves one, each.

Valentines Day:  Ground Dehydrated Strawberries & Cocoa Powder on Strawberry Ice Cream

  • A couple scoops quality strawberry ice cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground dehydrated strawberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon unsweetened natural cocoa powder (dark, no additives)

I ground them in a coffee grinder.

Scoop out some ice cream, put it in a chilled bowl, then add the toppings.  Enjoy with your special someone.

ice cream, strawberry, chocolate

Arethusa strawberry ice cream, sitting with tile and samples for my future guest bathroom.  (The tile is “warmer” than it looks.  At least on my screen.)

Check out the link parties at:


Posted in Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Fat Tuesday: Cajun Blackened Grouper

Actually, you can use any firm-bodied white fish.

I’d never eaten grouper before — I picked up two filets, and got sticker shock at the cash register.  (Always pays to ask if prices aren’t posted.  Duh.)

Cajun blackened, grouper, fish, grilled, gluten-free, Paleo

Sizzle me good!

It turns out there are a lot of species of fish named grouper — they’re pretty much all in the same two genera of fish, Epinephelus and Mycteroperca.   A lot of them live in the Pacific and some live in the Persian Gulf, and they all look pretty ugly, being all mouth.

Anyhow, I made the first one Hawaiian style — if I took good enough notes, I may post that later — but this one I made blackened and spicy, in honor of Mardi Gras, which occurs tomorrow.  And Mardi Gras reminds me of New Orleans, which I visited twice, but neither time for Mardi Gras.  Halloween 2003 was more than plenty large for me.   The previous time had been for a conference in June in the mid-90’s, and I could see why they all come out at night.   The daytime weather even in June is horrid.  You could cut it with a knife, blacken it, and serve it.  (The male attendees at the convention were nearly all dressed in shorts, even the presenters.)

It turns out blackened seafood isn’t really an old Cajun tradition — apparently the late Paul Prudhomme of New Orleans had something to do with the development and popularization of this dish.  That’s okay; we’re living FAT!

Party hardy, folks!  (I’ll be staying home this year.)


Prep Time:  To make the Blackened Spice Mix:  10 minutes.  To prep the fish:  2 minutes plus 15 minutes to marinate.
Cook Time:  6-7 minutes on a hot George Foreman Grill (fish about 1 inch thick)
Rest Time: 3-5 minutes.
Serves 2.
Special Equipment:  George Foreman (or similar) grill.  (You can use a pan in a regular outdoor grill, or pan fry medium high, covered, too.)  

Cajun Blackened Grouper

For the Blackening Seasoning (this makes extra, seal and store for future use):

  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (medium hot, or otherwise)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix it all together and store with your other spices.

For the Cajun Blackened Fish:

  • 1.25 pounds of grouper (or other sturdy whitefish) filet.
  • 1 teaspoon oil (avocodo is good)
  • 2 teaspoons of the above Blackening Seasoning (after your first experiment, you may find you want to vary this up or down).
  • Lemon wedges for garnish.  Fresh parsley would be fun, too.

I left the skin on the grouper — helps keep the fish together and easy enough to remove when you are eating it.

Pre-heat your George Foreman or other grill.

Rub the fish, both sides, with the oil, removing excess.

On the non-skin side, add the Blackening seasoning, and rub it in.  You do not need to coat the other side, but if you do have a fish filet with no skin, rub both sides — there’s no need to add extra unless you like this REALLY hot.

Place, skin side down, into the George Foreman, and let ‘er rip for 6-7 minutes, assuming your filet is as mine was, nearly an inch thick in the thickest section.  It is recommended that you roll the thin flap of filet which would be near the fish’s tail up, so that portion doesn’t overcook.  (I tried to do that, but the fish flattened out when I closed the lid.  Didn’t seem to matter much with this fish, anyway.)

Serve with lemon garnish.

A note on the heat:  This turned out just right, for me.  I have friends who’d prefer their food milder, and friends who’d prefer hotter so take that into consideration when you apply the above blend.  (Also, the freshness of your herbs and spices will matter.)

Serving suggestions:  Mustard greens or fresh spinach, sauteed in butter and fresh garlic, barely wilted, with a dollop or two of hot sauce mixed in at the last moment.  (I am LONG on mustard greens!)

Leftovers:  Enjoy in a salad.

Cajun blackened, grouper, fish, gluten-free, Paleo

All prepped up and ready to cook

This recipe owes a lot to hopping around the Internet to learn there’s no true standardized ratio of herbs and spices for Cajun seasoning, but I borrowed most heavily from:  Big Daddy’s Blackened Tilapia.   And here’s the platter!






Posted in Cooking | 5 Comments

Chicken Wings Redux Plus Blue Cheese Dip

Well, just so everyone is prepared for an evening of Budweiser and Dorito ads tomorrow (frankly, the Bud ones have gone downhill the last few years – they’re getting cliched), with way too much football breaking the ads up — seriously, I don’t even know who’s playing.  (Which is why I’m not really interested in the event.  I love sporting events if I personally know someone to root for, even if it’s just at the Little League level.  I went to college with Joe Montana — I didn’t actually know him –, but he’s retired now; and I briefly dated a second-stringer football player at college, and took classes with others, including one who was truly interested in the sciences, not just there to play ball.)

Chicken wings, spicy wings, yogurt, gluten-free, blue cheese dip

It’s a cliche, but…

I did look up the performers for the event just now.  Lady Gaga will break out into the National Anthem, and she’ll either be really good or really bad.  She’s got a great voice — it depends on if she camps it up (bad) or not (good).  One thing she won’t do is appear dressed in raw sirloin steaks — been there, done that.  Thankfully, that’s Over.

Halftime is Coldplay and Beyonce.  Both are quality performers, although I’m just not into Beyonce’s style of music — which in this case is me, not her.  I’m more interested in Coldplay.

At any rate, I don’t have a TV subscription, so I will catch all those ads on YouTube Monday evening as I lay me down to sleepy-time.  There are other venues for Coldplay, although I will probably check to see if Lady Gaga’s version of the National Anthem is listenable.  (Mind you, it IS a difficult song to sing.  It’s based on the melody of an old British drinking song, which is hard to believe, but there you have it.  I’d really rather listen to America the Beautiful.  Lady Gaga MIGHT be able to pull it off, if she gets over herself before performing.)

Meanwhile, let the best team win (from whichever bunch is playing) and let’s get to the WINGS!  (And NOT Paul McCartney and…)  Oh, and no DeFlateGate this year.  They probably got excess monitors out there on football pressure this time.  It’s going to be the sports version of taking your shoes off to board an airplane.

The DIP:


Danish blue cheese + yogurt

Prep Time: 10 minutes.  
Cook Time:  None.
Rest Time:  None needed, but store in the fridge no more than two days.
Serves:  Hey, it’s a condiment.  It serves how many it serves.  It should work for 2 pounds plus of chicken wings, and accompanying veggies.   

Reasonably Healthy Blue Cheese Dressing for Wing or Veggie Dipping

  • 1/2 cup quality plain organic yogurt (Stonyfield or a local brand, or goat yogurt.  Whole milk is fine, or low fat — NOT “no fat”.  Too many extenders in that to be healthy.   Umm, avoid the hype!)  Oh, if you don’t do loads of dairy, you can try coconut yogurt which should have similar enough properties.
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese, chopped into small chunks.

Combine.  Let sit (in the fridge) until ready.



One pound large chicken wings, portions separated.

Prep time:  5 minutes to prep and marinate the wings (unless you also need to cut them up).
They’ll marinate for 2 hours.

Cook time:30-35 minutes.
Rest time:  5 minutes.
Serves:  (I will assume, not rashly, that these are appetizers.  One recipe for three to four people, assuming you have multiple appetizers???)

Buffalo Chicken Wings Redux

  • 1 pound of buffalo wings.
  • about 3/4 cup plain yogurt, see above.
  • about 1/2 – 3/4 bottle of 2  ounce hot sauce, go for your favorite.  (I used Tabasco.)
  • Optional red pepper flakes

Separate the meaty parts of the wings into two, if you bought WHOLE attached wings, and omit the wing tips, which can be reserved in the freezer for eventual incorporation into soup, bone broth, or stew.

I forgot to buy buttermilk (which can be useful for this recipe) but there was plenty of yogurt to hand!

Mix all of the above together — in a plastic bag, or in a bowl.  (The bowl will be more healthy, as I’m not sure what’s getting leached out of plastics these days.)  Allow to marinate for two to twelve hours.

Pre-heat oven (broil on high).

Add optonal red pepper flakes, then remove from bowl, place in pan so that the wings aren’t touching one another, and broil in the oven, 12-15 minutes (depending on wing size); flip them over with tongs, and broil another 12-15 minutes.  If you want, slop on some more hot sauce when you pull them out of the oven.  Or set the bottle out for guests to play with as they will.  (REMINDER:  discard excess marinate, unless you can find a way to cook it — raw chicken has been sitting in it!)

Let them rest five minutes, and serve with the dipping sauce, and some sliced celery sticks and/or bell pepper.

chicken wings, spicy wings, appetizer, yogurt, blue cheese dip

Sitting in marinate, nearly ready for oven.

My earlier chicken wing recipe is here:  Spicy Chicken Wings.

This post has joined the Fiesta Friday , the Real Food Friday, and the Savoring Saturdays link party, where it is having a good time without me…😉






Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Meats, Poultry | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Moroccan Boneless Goat Leg Roast

There was an attractively nice looking piece of goat leg sitting in my freezer, looking up at me and begging for attention.

So, at any rate, I thawed it out overnight, and scratched my noodle for a good recipe.  Since goat is associated with a variety of cultural tastes around the world, there were plenty of notions to draw from.  I still wasn’t driving after the ankle issue, so I was limited to what I had at home.  (Which actually does involve a large spice selection.)

Moroccan, goat leg, harissa

I probably should have pulled the rope off for the photo shoot… oh well. (It kept the leg together fine for additional meals.)

Ultimately, I went Moroccan.  I have this tube of harissa paste in my fridge which I’d bought on a lark, and decided to use it.  (At some point I WILL make my own harissa seasoning — but I certainly didn’t have all the individual components to begin with — and, frankly, I’d never knowingly tasted harissa before — turns out I like it enough that once this tube is gone, I’ll make my own.)


Moroccan, goat leg, harissa

Boneless goat leg rubbed with spices and seasonings, ready for the oven.

Prep time:  15 minutes
Cook time:  2.5 hours for medium rare
Rest time:  15-20 minutes
Serves:  Probably works nicely for a party of six.

Moroccan Boneless Leg of Goat

  • 2.75 pounds de-boned goat leg.  (Mine was wrapped with a netting string so it wouldn’t fall apart, when I got it.)
  • 2 nice-sized cloves of garlic, peeled and slivered.
  • 1 generous tablespoon harissa paste.
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Ground pepper

Preheat that oven to 425 F.

Poke slits into the leg using a paring knife.

Insert slivers of garlic into slits, and then rub harissa all over the leg, including into those slits.  Squeeze lemon over the meatiest side of the goat, and grind the pepper over it.

Put in oven, and promptly reduce temperature to 275 F if it’s a pastured goat leg (this was) or 300 F if otherwise.   Lean meat:  low and slow.

For medium rare, allow to roast for 2.5 hours.

I was going to baste halfway through, but there were not enough juices for that.  If you wish to cook the leg much beyond 2.5 hours — you’ll need to baste with something — perhaps either olive oil or ghee, if your goat leg isn’t producing large amounts of juices on its own.  Goat is much less fatty than lamb.

Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes, then carve and serve.

Moroccan, goat leg, harissa



This meal is served up at Fiesta Friday’s  and Real Food Friday’s link party.




Posted in Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments