Author Archives: ::sharlyn::

Cranberry Apple Sauce

I always start off Thanksgiving week with this cranberry sauce. The kids get to enjoy the sauce on top of yogurt or pancakes before Thanksgiving and there’s always enough leftover for the turkey (in this house anyway).

2 large apples, peeled, washed, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 bag of fresh cranberries (12 oz.), washed and picked over
1 1/2 cups of water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup maple syrup

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized,  non-aluminum saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally until the cranberries have popped and the apples are tender (15-20 minutes). Remove the pot from the heat and let the sauce cool. Once cool, refrigerate your sauce until ready to serve. Can be made as early as 3 days before Thanksgiving. This recipe will make roughly 3 cups.

Mushroom and Leek Risotto (dairy-free)

Tonight, I’m home with the kids and the husband is out brewing beer with friends. I look forward to nights like this because it means “no-pressure” cooking for me. I wanted to make some sort of risotto…egg and bacon to be exact. Because we had eggs and bacon at breakfast, I went with what I like to think of as my refrigerator risotto. You know, things you have in the fridge that are almost on their way out. I always have leeks and mushrooms in the fridge and the mushrooms are almost always on their way out by the time I do something with them because half of the family (the kids) does not like mushrooms. Have you even heard of such a thing?

Some of you may already know that we eat (mostly) gluten-free because we suspect our son has a gluten intolerance. We have also been advised to cut out casein to test a possible intolerance. It’s been a long month folks. To begin with we’re not milk drinkers but eliminating cheese has been difficult for all of us. There really isn’t a good casein-free substitute out there. So today, as I was thinking about risotto and how to replace the Parmesan and make the dish dairy-free, the tub of Sour Supreme (a non-dairy sour cream substitute) that I had in the fridge came to mind. It has a slight tang that could replace the Parmesan, and it would add a creaminess to the risotto. Surprisingly, it worked. The kids still pushed all of their mushrooms aside but they both ate the rice and leeks and loved the dish.

Mushroom and Leek Risotto

for 3 as a meal, 4 as a side

1 cup of arborio rice

2 cups of button or cremini mushrooms quartered

1 large leek, white part only, split down the middle and cut into half-moons

1/4 cup of onions diced

4 cups of chicken stock or vegetable stock

1/4 cup of vermouth or dry white wine

1 T Earth Balance or other vegan margarine, butter is fine

1 T olive oil

2 T Sour Supreme “sour cream”

Start by heating your stock in a pot. It doesn’t need to be boiling, just hot. Meanwhile, heat  a separate, large, heavy-bottomed pot, over medium heat. Once the pot is hot, add the margarine and olive oil. When the margarine has melted, add the leek and onion and cook until both are soft and transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the mushrooms and stir and cook for approximately 5 minutes more. Add the arborio rice and vermouth, cook and stir until the vermouth has evaporated. Add roughly a cup of stock and stir constantly until the stock has been absorbed. Add another cup of stock and constantly stir, continuing in this way until you’ve used almost all of the stock, the rice is soft, and the risotto looks creamy. I always use just shy of the 4 cups of stock and I always test the rice for readiness when I’ve used a little more than 3 cups of stock. The grains of rice should feel firm but tender to the tooth. Once the rice is done, I remove the pot from the heat and stir in the Sour Supreme. Serve immediately

Mapo Tofu

I still remember the day my mom brought home a box of premixed sauce for tofu. I must have been around 9 because I remember cooking this dish. Mind you, almost the entire box, instructions and all were written in Japanese. The only things I could understand were the “how-to” illustrations and the words “Cook Do” on the front of the box. I made this dish, I fried the pork until it was cooked all the way through, and I added the packet of sauce and tofu to the pork and let it simmer. And boy was it delicious! I had no idea that the proper name for the dish was Mapo Tofu so from that day, I called it Cook Do and I remember eating Cook Do regularly until I moved in with my future husband who did almost all of the cooking until our son was born.

These days, I make Mapo from scratch. It’s easy enough, and I almost always have the ingredients on hand. Plus, it’s become comfort food for my family. My son spent an entire month in New York with his grandmother last summer. When I flew over to pick him up, one of the first things he asked was if I would cook Mapo Tofu for him. Before that moment, I never thought that the foods I cooked for my children would become something they would want to come home to.

Mapo Tofu

2 garlic cloves minced
1 inch piece of ginger grated
1 lb. ground pork (be sure there’s no saline solution)
3 spring onions
2 T hot bean paste (we use Yeo’s brand, see notes)
2 T shoyu or tamari
1 T oyster sauce
1 block of firm tofu
1 T cornstarch
2 T rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup of water
1 T canola or peanut oil

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a wok or frying pan. Add the garlic, and ginger and cook until fragrant (less than 30 seconds). Be sure not to brown the garlic and ginger. Add the ground pork and stir fry until the pork is cooked through and is no longer pink. Add half of the spring onions, the three sauces, all of water and tofu. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix cornstarch and rice wine vinegar, add to pan, raise the heat and bring to a boil stirring gently until the sauce thickens. Add the remaining spring onions to the pan. Serve over hot rice. Enjoy.

Notes: Yeo’s hot bean paste is one of the milder pastes we’ve used. Different brands of hot bean paste have varying levels of heat so you may have to adjust your measurements accordingly.