Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Trying to get TVP to pull its own weight...

Back when I was in college I spent a lot of time in vegetarian eateries and one in particular was really exceptional in that you never even noticed they did not serve meat...

Part of their success was that they really knew how to cook and were masterful in the way they adapted the sort of things people actually eat into a menu that people wanted to eat. So how did they do it?

My guess is that they, like all good kitchens, realized that a meal or dish is always multi-faceted and paid a lot of attention to the big three... flavor, texture, and presentation. Cooking vegetarian dishes that taste good is no big issue as vegetables on the whole simply taste good. Presentation is also pretty easy with a little thought and flair. On the other hand, texture for me is the more difficult aspect of vegetarian cooking... And in this area they really excelled using tofu and TVP in ways that really brought dishes together and worked.

Most vegetarian dishes are somewhat challenged on the texture front and most cooks compensate by doing dishes that are not big on textures... soups, for instance. Adding tofu or TVP can add texture but often don't bring along their fair share of taste to the process and, more often than not, I prefer that they don't even bother...

So here is my personal frustration... Having experienced a kitchen that really could make TVP and tofu work in a way that did not elicit a "why bother" reaction I know it can be done but, truth be told I'm having a lot of trouble working through the process to get my Strogannoff using either tofu or  TVP chunks to work in a way that you'd rather not just have the sauce over noodles... Know what I mean?

I've been hearing a lot of good things about "The TVP Cookbook" and will be giving it a read to see if I can ramp up my use of TVP in the galley and get to a higher culinary plateau...

Which is not to say I'm giving up meat, but TVP does make all kinds of sense in a cruising boat scenario as it is easy to store and costs very little. So you might say I find myself motivated to make it work the way I know it can.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Under pressure...

Pressure cooking is really a no-brainer for folks on boats as it's fast, contained, and makes food that tastes really good... What's not to like?

Hip pressure cooking is now our blog of choice for pressure cooking goodness. Perfect for newbies to the wonders of pressure cooking and more than interesting for those of us who have been cooking under pressure for years...

For instance take today's post, an A to Z for a five minute meat sauce/ragu. Tasty, fast, and perfect for a meal on a boat!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Spicy...

The Hummus Blog tells us all we need to know about Skhug and gives us a recipe...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A little sauce...

Accidental Hedonist had a great little post about Eggs Benedict the other day and it got me thinking...

First of all I should say I agree 100% with the AH post and as much as I love Eggs Benedict it is something I simply don't order for breakfast or brunch and when I fail to remember that I am always disappointed. Eggs Benedict is not difficult but it takes a little more work and concentration than most eateries are capable of these days. Face it, in a world where most cafes can't tell the difference between over-easy and scrambled these days, do you really think they can get a sauce right?

Hardly surprising I don't eat out much...

One of the wonderful things about living on a boat and cruising is we can cook whatever we want and be as discerning as needful. Once you have slowed down to a cruising pace being able to bake a cake or do a proper breakfast becomes an enjoyable enterprise rather than a chore.

On the plus side, we can cook and eat on a level that most of us can't afford to back in the real world. Once you master the whole cooking is fun vibe, you really start saving some serious money. Which sort of brings us back around to Eggs Benedict...

While I was shopping for spices the other day I saw that they had some Hollandaise sauce mix and glancing at the price I noted that it was far more expensive than making said sauce from scratch. What's more, in looking at the directions for the ersatz sauce, it seemed to me that there was very little if any savings in time or energy... So why use a sauce mix?

Why indeed!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Some quick links...

The Boat Galley gets serious about stove top baking, Down south  StoneSoup shares some secrets about making soup (who'd have guessed?) and Homesick Texan makes me a very happy camper!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A taste test...

Serious eats has a most excellent discussion on white rum and comes to an interesting conclusion... Which we heartily endorse.

By the way for those interested, down here in the Caribbean Bacardi Silver costs $7.99 (though it might have been on sale yesterday) and Castillo Silver goes for $2.99

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tofu...

One of the disadvantages of living in the Caribbean is the Tofu available is somewhat lacking... A supplier of Tofu along the lines of Hodo Soy Beanery would be a welcome thing.

I've been looking for a good book on cooking and making real tofu from scratch and have even been looking at a kit...

In the meantime, a recipe for Sesame and black pepper encrusted tofu with oyster mushrooms and wilted spinach I found over on the Hodo Soy website recipe page, looks like just the thing for making second rate tofu come out a bit better!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A really excellent post...

S.V. Shadow of Lorelei has info on Provisioning for Japan!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Seafood watch guides...

The Monterey Aquarium has some excellent downloadable pocket guides and apps on it's website to help you choose the right "ocean friendly" fish or critter while shopping. The guides are done by regions and are well worth the download...

Of course, the best means of securing ocean friendly seafood is to catch it yourself as it is sometime difficult or impossible to sort out if the Mahi Mahi on offer is local and caught by trolling or pole (Best Choice) or the AVOID sort (imported)...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Popcorn...

Being a maker and watcher of movies, popcorn has something of a special place in my life...

On a boat, popcorn makes all kinds of sense as it is a snack food that takes minimal space and costs very little. Throw in the fact that it is easy and quick to prepare... What's not to like?

Over the years we have found ourselves sitting out hurricanes and while all hell was breaking loose outside, what better comfort food to prepare than some popcorn?

Off hand, I am something of a purist popcorn wise... butter and salt being the order of the day but from time to time chili sauce and garlic also work when mixed with the butter. That said, this curry popcorn recipe looks like it might be worth a try...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ed making sense...

Ed Hamilton over at the Ministry of Rum sums up the year and looks forward...