Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Cooking inspiration with Yondu Culinary Studio

 We have used Yondu in our cooking classes, and it is an amazing tastemaker in the kitchen.

The company is doing some online cooking classes, and they are worth attending, you will get ideas. You can register for the classes through Eventbrite here.

Having said that, like most food businesses, they are trying to leverage the "plant-based' trend only in the general sense, and they stick to a traditional nutritional model, which can be confusing, particularly when it comes to the usual misunderstanding that it is hard to get sufficient protein on a plant-based diet. With high school nutrition, people worry always about "but where do you get your protein?" which is not warranted, and seems to be a problem only because they do not know the actual protein content of foods (like even rice or potatoes at 10-11% of calories from protein are a perfectly balanced food). The corollary to that problem is also the overconsumption of protein in the standard diet, which turns out to be unhealthy in the first place. So, as long as you get your staples of rice, or potatoes, etc., you can build a meal around that. In short, if the general conversion from a "normal" recipe to a #WFPB recipe involves seeing to your staples, which need to be complex carbs (brown rice, potatoes, or whole grain pasta, etc.) and not refined foods. Aside from that, you typically make more veggies than "ordinary food." That can include both cooked and raw.  

Accordingly, if I use a Yondu recipe here, I may post some comments or variations from time to time to illustrate how you can easily make proper Whole Foods, Plant-Based meals with Yondu. Used properly, Yondu allows you to create a lot of flavor without adding a lot of salt and that is really the crux of the whole thing. Their classes have given me some great ideas.

In my own cooking the easiest taste makers ("umami" is the word of the day for aromatic and flavorful taste) are:

  1. Yondu
  2. Braggs Liquid Aminos
  3. Panch Puran

Caramelizing onions

These days, caramelizing onions for me often involves Yondu, though sometimes, depending on what I am cooking, I may start with roasting some Panch Puran in my pan (the seeds, not the powder).

Here is my routine:
  1. [optional] Roast Panch Puran for 5 mins at 350F
  2. Dry roast the chopped onions at 350F for 5 mins (optionally chopped chili or peppers can also be added at this stage.
  3. Continue another 5 mins at 350F, and gradually stir in a cup of water with 1 Tsp Yondu.
  4. Add in chopped garlic

That's a great start for many wonderful vegetable dishes. You can make spinach, Malabar spinach (in my Bangla neighborhood "Poi leaf"), Amaranth leaves (" shaag"), chard, any green leafies can be started this way.  On the other hand, we also know that our taste buds do change on a plant-based diet, and I am often amazed how good something simple like steamed spinach can be.  

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Peppers Galore, it's Mexico time!

 One thing is to know your peppers, and another thing is to know your eaters. Different people appreciate heat from peppers differently, and you want to be appropriate. I give the heat in SHU, Scoville Heat Units, and of course you have some control for you can always make any pepper milder by seeding them.

My repertoire of Peppers is based on what is prominently available in my neighborhood. And I will bring in some information from a site called Pepperscale.

  1. Bell Peppers - Capsicum Annuum. I just include them for good order. They do not pack any heat necessarily, but they come loaded with vitamins and flavor. Get all the colors, they all represent a different nutrient profile and variation is the name of the game.
  2. Jamaican Peppers - Capsicum Annuum (also). 
  3. Poblano Peppers - slightly hot and aromatic, ca. 1,250 SHU.
  4. Chilaca Peppers - 1000 - 2,500 SHU - slightly hotter than Poblano. VEry flavorful.
  5. Jalapeño Peppers - 2,500 - 8,000 SHU median 5,250 SHU. Clearly hot, but aromatic. One of my favorites.
  6. Serrano Peppers - Median 16,500 SHU, ranging from 10,000 - 23,000 SHU. Like Jalapeño, but clearly hotter (3x). 

I will keep on editing this list.

Today, I am making Black Bean Salsa, but with a poblano, a chilaca, a jalapeño and a serrano pepper, as well as thee stalks of celery,  so I am clearly trying to create some depth of flavor but with some zing to it. I make sure to slice the serrano and the jalapeño extremely thin.

The recipe then becomes something like this:

Black Bean Salsa

  • 1 lb of black beans, soaked and cooked, or 2 15 Oz canss (or 1 25 Oz can) of black beans.
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, cut up fine.
  • 3 stalks of celery, sliced thin
  • 1 16 Oz jar of Green Salsa
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • The simple version is with 3 jalapeños, or 2 jalapeños and a serrano pepper, sliced thin,
    but today, I made it with four peppers:
  • 1 serrano pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 poblano pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 chilaca pepper, sliced thin.
It is always best the next day, after it marinates in the fridge.

En Español:

Salsa de Frijoles Negros

  • 1 libra de frijoles negros, remojados y cocidos, o 2 latas de 15 oz (o 1 lata de 25 oz) de frijoles negros.
  • 1 lata de 15 Oz de maíz
  • 1 manojo de cilantro fresco, cortado fino.
  • 3 tallos de apio, en rodajas finas
  • 1 frasco de 16 oz de salsa verde
  • Jugo de 3 limones
  • La versión simple es con 3 jalapeños, o 2 jalapeños y un chile serrano, en rodajas finas,
  • pero hoy lo hice con cuatro pimientos:
  • 1 chile serrano, en rodajas finas
  • 1 chile jalapeño, en rodajas finas
  • 1 chile poblano, en rodajas finas
  • 1 chile chilaca, en rodajas finas.
Siempre es mejor al día siguiente, después de que se marina en la nevera.

And, I am serving it on oil-free tostadas, this brand: Tostadas Buena Vista, has three varieties, Corn, Sesame, and Multigrain. They are all delicious.
I get them at Frutas Y Vegetales La Reyna at 1300-1302 Beach Avenue (corner Westchester Avenue), Bronx, NY 10472. (Across the street from South of France).

Recently, I also made cactus salad and served them on these same tostadas. Winner!