DDD #114 – Rabbit Hole Foods – Vegan Egg, Tuna & Chicken Salads Reviewed

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8-23-18 (20)All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Vegan Hearts of Palm Crab Salad

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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While I was very pleased with my Vegan Jackfruit Tuna Salad (seen just above in the avocado) – I know that jackfruit is an exotic ingredient & not easily found by many people.  So – I endeavored to make a vegan seafood dish with something more readily available – hearts of palm – and had great success!  Nothing in this recipe is hard to find.  If you are not vegan & eat real mayonnaise – this Japanese mayo used for sushi might be nice in this – as it adds a sweetness.

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I only mention that stuff because I plan on making California rolls with this crab salad & the Kewpie would make them more authentic.  Still – I did not use Kewpie.  I used Just Mayo.

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I also used Old Bay seasoning – which is vegan.   One of the best things about this recipe is the low calorie count of the hearts of palm.  Check it out:

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So – hears of palm, vegan mayo, Old Bay & few other ingredients & voila!  Comes together as fast as a real tuna salad would.  I used a food processor but this is not entirely necessary.  In fact – I might just finely chop the hearts of palm next time – because crab salad is textured & chunky.  Still – I am going  for a California roll with this (which I will post soon) so the finer chop seemed like a good idea.  Either way – I think you will be very happy with this salad!

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Vegan Hearts of Palm Crab Salad

Serves 2 on a salad or in avocado halves or in sandwiches

INGREDIENTS

2 (14 oz) cans hearts of palm – drained

1/4 onion – minced

3 celery stalks – minced

2 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1/2 cup vegan mayo

1 small tomato – seeded & chopped finely

1/4 cup grated carrots – chopped even more

2 tsp prepared horseradish (optional)

4-5 springs of fresh dill – fronds chopped

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

You can either finely chop everything to suit your taste & combine them or – do as I did – and pulse MOST OF (not all) the onion & celery & tomato then add ONE can of hearts of palm – and pulse.  Add mayo & horseradish & Old Bay & pulse.  Add the second can of hearts of palm & pulse until it is mostly chopped & then simply stir in some larger chunks of celery, tomato & chopped carrots for color & texture.  Stir in the dill.  Taste for S&P.

If your resulting salad is too wet – (mine was very wet) – simply wrap it in a clean kitchen towel & twist out all the excess moisture.

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Once the excess liquid is out – you can decide whether or not to add more mayo  or additional spices.  Serve as you will with maybe some extra fresh dill as garnish.

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Seared Ahi Tuna Pasta Puttanesca with a Fresh Tomato & Caper Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am not a super giant fan of traditional puttanesca.  I find the Kalamata olives overpowering & the sauce rather heavy.  I prefer lighter pasta toppers.  But this version I threw together is clean & light.  I used canned black olives – for color more than anything – and because they are less powerfully flavored.  I also used a bit from a tube of anchovy paste – mainly because that is traditional – but I didn’t use much, couldn’t taste it in the final dish & you can certainly eliminate it if “mustaches of the sea” do not appeal to you – or if you are vegetarian.

Puttanesca has lots of legends around its origin.  Here is something I found online:

Puttanesca translates as “in the style of the whore.” The name derives from the Italian word puttana which means whore.  Puttana in turn arises from the Latin word putida which means stinking.

Now I’ll bet your wondering how this tasty dish became associated with such sordid content.  As is often the case when sifting through culinary history, there are multiple explanations.  The first interpretation is that the intense aroma, (harking back to the “stinking” Latin definition), would lure men from the street into the local house of ill repute.  Thus, the Napolese harlots were characterized as the sirens of the culinary world.  Three additional accounts all hinge on the fact that Puttanesca sauce is easy and quick to make.  The first is that the prostitutes made it for themselves to keep the interruption of their business to a minimum.  The second is that they made it for the men awaiting their turn at the brothel.  And the final version is that it was a favorite of married women who wished to limit their time in the kitchen so that they may visit their paramour.  

First of all – uhm – yuck.  The word for whore derives from the word for stinking???  Think about that.  Oof!  That makes my entire olfactory system recoil.  And then to name a pasta after it?   This sauce has two ingredients derived from the sea – the anchovies & the tuna.  I don’t want to be eating those things & thinking about dirty whores.   No, mam!  So let’s move on, shall we?

As I said – this isn’t a traditional sauce using crushed tomatoes.  It isn’t a sauce you can ladle.  It is one you toss with the pasta in the pan you prepared it in.  If you like heavier sauces (as my boyfriend, Miles, does) – add a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes – with or without the cherry tomatoes.  This can easily be made vegan by omitting the anchovies & tuna. They are not critical to this already flavorful dish.

Also – I seared fresh ahi – but a can or two of white tuna is actually more authentic.  This is a very simple dish to prepare – so – give it a try!

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Seared Ahi Tuna Pasta Puttanesca with a Fresh Tomato & Caper Sauce

INGREDIENTS

(to feed two well)

1 lb ahi tuna steak (or 1-2 cans of chunk white tuna)

1/2 lb of your favorite pasta (I almost always use whole wheat – and this time it was whole wheat spaghetti)

3 garlic cloves – chopped

20 cherry tomatoes – quartered (or a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes)

1 tsp crushed red pepper

2 TBS capers

5-8 Kalamata olives (or other black olives) – chopped

1 tsp anchovy paste

Chopped parsley

Olive oil

S&P

(I garnished with caper berries & parsley)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat a grill or grill pan on high heat.  Press the tuna into some ground pepper.

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Depending on the thickness of the fish – grill it between 1-3 minutes per side or until the outside is grilled but the center is still raw.

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The tuna will keep cooking once you have it off the heat & you do not want that.  Cut it into the size pieces you want to serve immediately – so the heat dissipates.

In a large saute pan, add a glug or two of olive oil (1-2 TBS) & add the anchovy paste (if using).  Sizzle that a bit & then add the crushed red pepper, tomatoes, capers, olives & garlic.  Add some chopped parsley.  If you are using canned tuna and/or canned tomatoes – add that here, too.  When it is just heated through & the tomatoes are soft – set it aside on low heat.

Cook your pasta.  Drain & add to the pan with the tomato caper sauce.  Increase the heat to medium & mix it all up.

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Arrange tuna chunks on top & garnish with parsley & maybe more capers or olives.  Or basil.  Eat it up like the puttana you are!

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Pepper & Sesame Crusted Seared Ahi with Spicy Mayo or Wasabi Mayo & Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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If you read this blog regularly, you know I burned $5 recently on a little container of micro arugula.  It is that little shamrocky looking stuff in these pictures.  I just wanted to follow up on my confession that I bought something so silly by pointing out how much mileage I am getting out of it!  It is really a pretty (and SPICY) little thing & it dresses up food spectacularly.  And it really does add flavor so – that might not be the last time I splurge on it.  So there.

There is nothing easier than this recipe.  The hardest part is finding a quality piece of fish & then ponying up the cash for it.  I got two 3/4 pound slabs at Costco recently for about $20.  That felt steep but then I saw the same fish at Gelson’s for $27 a pound so I felt better.

I felt even better when I used this stuff.  You might have already seen my pretty Sushi Tower

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which was a massive success both on the plate and in my mouth.  This seared option is also wonderful & far easier to pull off.  The two sauce options are really easy, too.  I am posting a little baby kale & arugula salad I made here, too, because it isn’t really a recipe that warrants its own post but the Matsuhisa dressing is so unbelievably delicious – I had to share it with you.  It would go well on any salad or seafood or chicken.  Crazy yummy!

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Matsuhisa Dressing

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup finely diced sweet onion

2 TBS plus 2 tsp soy sauce

2 TBS plus 1 tsp rice vinegar

2 tsp water

1/2 tsp sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp powdered mustard

pinch fresh ground pepper

4 tsp grapeseed oil

4 tsp sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Shake together.

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OK – now onto the mayo concoctions.

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Wasabi Mayo

Blend 1/3 cup mayo with 2 tsp prepared wasabi.

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Spicy Mayo

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup mayo of your choice

2 TBS sriracha

1 tsp sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Blend together.  If you have a squeezy bottle to put it in do – because then you can make pretty designs on the plate with the mayo.

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As to the tuna, I used a mortar & pestle to grind up

1 TBS peppercorns

1 TBS white sesame seeds

1 TBS black sesame seeds

1 tsp ground pepper

It was hard to grind them.  Next time – I will just use a pepper mill for grinding the pepper & not bother grinding the sesame seeds.

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Then – simply press your ahi into the mix.

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Press the spice mix in with your hands.  Then, on a very hot grill, sear for about two minutes on each side.

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Cut it up right away to disperse the heat & to keep it from cooking more.  Dress with your mayos & serve with Wasabi Mashed Cauliflower and/or the salad with Matsuhisa dressing!  What a fabulous, light & healthy meal!

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Ahi Sushi Tower with Mango Salsa & Avocado, Spicy Mayo and Baked Wonton Crackers

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Isn’t that pretty?  Tasted even better!  Like most of my recipes, there is nothing difficult about this beyond the fact that it requires a few ingredients some might find a bit exotic & it takes several steps to accomplish.  Still, once you have made the rice & the salsa & the sashimi & the guacamole – you have the stuff to make many of these in minutes.  As to the ingredients, I think nearly everything I used can be found in most major supermarkets.  If there is something I use that you cannot find – Google that ingredient followed by the word “substitute.”   Usually – someone out there will have posted a simple solution to your dilemma.

There are two sauces on the plate here with this dish.  One would do so if making both overwhelms you – make the one that sounds tastier to you.

I bought two pieces of ahi at Costco yesterday at $14 pound.  They are each about 3/4 of a pound & look like this:

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This same fish is $27 a pound at Gelson’s.  If you buy ahi at a supermarket with a full service seafood department – I recommend having them dice the fish for you.  Tuna has fat running through it that resists cutting & gets all gross & sinewy if you try to cut across the grain or with the grain – whatever way is the wrong way.  I managed to salvage most of this slab but some was beyond repair & was eaten eagerly by my three dogs.  Giving already spoiled dogs sushi grade tuna is outrageous – but cutting the fish incorrectly will leave you in the same situation.  In fact – before I venture into my second slab tonight – I am going to watch one of these tutorials HERE.  Maybe you should, too.

I am going to give the ingredients & directions to each of the levels of this tower individually.  This tower is topped with a pinch of micro arugula which is CRAZY spicy for such a delicate looking little herb but it costs $5 for a small container.  I splurged on it yesterday – rationalizing that I’d save so much on the tuna that I could afford it.  Nobody can afford it.  It is obscene to spend $5 for just a garnish but sometimes you just gotta say “fuck it.”

OK – so – the tower is comprised of a layer of sushi rice, a layer of mango salsa, a layer or avocado & then the ahi sashimi.  The wonton cracker atop was DELICIOUS & so easy to make so I really recommend you make a bunch of these to use as scoops to devour your creation.  I decided to try making them because I couldn’t bring myself to buy a lesser version in the chip aisle at Gelson’s, pay $5 for them & get a bag that, despite weighing 3 ounces, somehow packed 1600 calories.    MAKE THESE.  You won’t regret it!

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Baked Wonton Crackers

INGREDIENTS

Wonton skins

Sesame seeds (black or white)

Egg whites – whisked

DIRECTIONS

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Swipe some egg white wash on each wonton & sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake about 5 minutes on each side or until they are golden & crisp.

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Spicy Mayo

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup mayo of your choice

2 TBS sriracha

1 tsp sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Blend together.  If you have a squeezy bottle to put it in do – because then you can make pretty designs on the plate with the mayo.

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Soy-Mirin Sauce

INGREDIENTS

3 TBS soy sauce

2 TBS mirin

1 TBS rice wine vinegar

1 TBS lemon juice

1 tsp sesame oil

A few drops hot chili oil (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Blend together.

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Avocado Layer

INGREDIENTS

1 large ripe avocado – diced

1 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS lime juice

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Mix together.

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Mango Salsa

INGREDIENTS

1 ripe mango – chopped

1/2 red onion – minced

2 scallions – minced

1/2 red bell pepper – minced

1 jalapeno (or 2 serranos if you love heat) – minced

S&P to taste

Juice of half a lime

Juice of half a lemon

DIRECTIONS

Mix together.

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Sushi Rice

INGREDIENTS

3 cups Japanese sushi rice

3 1/4 cups water

1/3 cup rice vinegar

3 TBS sugar

1 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Rinse the rice until the water runs clear.  I used a rice cooker here & made the rice with just the water.  Stove top – I imagine you boil the water, add the rice, lower heat, cover & cook as long as the package suggests.

While that cooks, heat the rice vinegar in a small pan.  Add the sugar & salt & dissolve them.  Remove from heat & allow to cool.

Once cooked – cool the rice completely.  Fold in the vinegar without mushing up the rice & set it aside until you are ready to use it.

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Ahi Sashimi

INGREDIENTS

3/4 pound of high grade ahi tuna

2 scallions – chopped

1 tsp sesame oil

1 TBS olive oil

2 tsp black sesame seeds

2 tsp white sesame seeds

1 TBS white truffle oil (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Watch a Google tutorial on cutting raw tuna for sushi – the cube the ahi up.  Mix with the other ingredients.

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To assemble the tower:

I used a food ring mold.  I love my ring mold & I recommend you get one!  If you do not have one – you can assemble this free form (rice then salsa then avocado then ahi) or in a backward sequence in a bowl (sprayed with cooking spray), ending with the rice, then just flip in onto a plate.  Drizzle with either the spicy mayo or the soy-mirin sauce – or both!  Top with micro arugula, if you are a spendthrift or with more diced scallions and/or avocado or more mango salsa.  Serve with the baked wonton crackers.  Impress yourself as well as your friends!

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Homemade Fusilli Pasta with Faux Chicken (Albacore Tuna) and Cauliflower in a Mustard Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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The fusilli require THIS amazing Kitchenaid pasta press and the stand mixer.  If you do not have these things, dry pasta is fine or make a homemade pasta of a different shape.

The sauce is a lighter take on one of my favorite sauces that really consists of little more than a nice Dijon & lots of heavy cream heated in a pan.  This one is made without the cream but with yogurt, instead.  It is naturally tangier than it would be with cream and, honestly, I prefer the heavy cream but I also prefer fitting into my pants, so – we do what we have to.

The faux chicken is really just frozen albacore that I buy at Trader Joe’s.  It looks like this raw

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These two pieces weighed .85 pounds and cost $5.35.  I am not a huge fan of this inexpensive fish cooked the way albacore should be cooked (nor am I a fan of most of Trader Joe’s frozen seafood as I find it tends to cook up fishy) but when this fish is overcooked it replicates chicken breast pretty incredibly with no fishy element whatsoever.  This dish could be made with actual chicken or shrimp or with only the cauliflower – if you do not eat meat or seafood.

I added a ton of cauliflower, too, because 1) I like cauliflower and 2) it is a guiltless filler in a pasta dish that might get sorta rich (especially if you use heavy cream).

Finally, I used a store brand Dijon & was woefully aware it wasn’t Grey Poupon (or other higher end mustard).  In a mustard based sauce – it is kind of important to start with a quality mustard.

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Homemade Fusilli Pasta with Faux Chicken (Albacore) and Cauliflower in a Mustard Sauce

INGREDIENTS

For the pasta

400 grams (or 1 3/4 cups) flour

4 eggs

pinch nutmeg

1 tsp salt

OR – 1 lb dry pasta of your choice

For the mustard sauce

2 albacore steaks (or chicken breast or 1 lb shrimp)

1 small head cauliflower – leaves removed & cut in half

1 medium onion – diced

2 cloves of garlic – diced

1 TBS olive oil

1 TBS fresh thyme – chopped

1 cup stock (or water)

10 TBS high quality Dijon mustard

1 1/3 cups plain yogurt

S&P to taste

Fresh parsley – chopped for garnish

Tomatoes – diced for garnish

Parmesan for garnish

DIRECTIONS

For the pasta

Homemade pasta directions HERE

Or use dry pasta.

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For the faux chicken & cauliflower in mustard sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large pan.  Cook the albacore several minutes on each side until cooked through.  Or – do the same for your real chicken or shrimp.

When cooked, remove from pan & cube it up.  You cannot really overcook this albacore & if you undercook it – it will cook through when you heat it in the sauce.  Chicken & shrimp CAN be overcooked – so be more careful with those – if you are using them.

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Add onions & garlic to the pan (add more oil if you need to) & saute until the onions begin to brown.  Add the stock, mustard, yogurt & thyme and stir until smooth.  Add the cooked “meat” and S&P to taste.   Heat through.  Simmer it to thicken or add more water to thin it out.

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Boil the water to cook the pasta.  Add the halved cauliflower & boil until tender.   Remove with a slotted spoon & cut into bite-sized pieces.

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Cook your dry pasta according to directions adding the cooked cauliflower in the last minute to reheat.  Or – add the cooked cauliflower to the pot with homemade pasta & drain when done.

Top the pasta & cauliflower with the mustard sauce & garnish with diced tomato, parsley & Parmesan ((f using).  Add lots of fresh cracked pepper.

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Sushi – Many Ways – Kale, Asparagus, Shitake, Tuna, Shrimp, Avocado and more!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

As I said yesterday – I love sushi!  I could eat it every day.  Here – I am going to try to take some of the intimidation factor out of preparing it at home.

Firstly – if your local supermarket has a fresh fish department & they also sell pre-made sushi – you can likely buy the spicy tuna already prepared – by the pound – plus any other fish you might like, already cut into sushi pieces.  The cutting of the fish is key & I am not even going to pretend I have even tried to master it.  I did TRY to do it, once or twice, but all I ended up doing was massacring some really beautiful & expensive fish.

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I buy my spicy tuna already pre-made at the most expensive store this side of Whole Paycheck (Whole Foods) and Bristol Farms – my local Gelson’s.  I think they charge $20 pound for the spicy tuna but a pound is a LOT – and my store is expensive – so be sure to suss out what your local stores offer & at what price before you give up.

Also – imitation crab – that pink-dyed whitefish in the fresh fish department – usually pretty cheap – like $5 pound.  This is what I use to make California rolls.

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I pretty much stick to rolls, though I do make a crispy rice with spicy tuna that doesn’t require any seaweed or rolling.  Nori (seaweed) is WAY cheaper in ethnic stores than in mainstream supermarkets so try to find one near you – if money is an issue.

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Also critical for sushi – the wasabi & ginger.  I like to buy those at Gelson’s, too, in these little containers that cost $1.29 each.

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Ginger also comes jarred & wasabi can be had in tubes or powdered.  The powdered variety is surprisingly good (when mixed with water).

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Also important to sushi – your rice.  There is a short grain rice that is specific to sushi.  Try to use that – if you can.  And here is an EASY SUSHI RICE RECIPE:

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Sushi Rice

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2005

Serves:
4 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi or short grain rice
  • 2 cups water, plus extra for rinsing rice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Directions

Place the rice into a mixing bowl and cover with cool water. Swirl the rice in the water, pour off and repeat 2 to 3 times or until the water is clear.

Place the rice and 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature before using to make sushi.

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OR – you can get crazy & make your rice out of cauliflower!!!

Recipe here.

Actual sushi rice is easier to work with than the less sticky cauliflower rice so, if you are new to this, I recommend going with the rice.

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Your imagination is the limit when it comes to what you put in your rolls.  I used

Kale – Sauteed like this.

Avocado – sliced

Asparagus – steamed (wrapped in wet paper towel in the microwave for a minute or two)

Carrots – sliced thin

Cucumber – sliced thin

Spicy tuna

Shrimp – cooked (or tempura shrimp)

Imitation crab – recipe below

Jalapenos – sliced and/or diced

and both kinds of rice – regular & cauliflower.

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I sauteed the kale first (recipe here) and cooled it.  I also sauteed the sliced shitake in a little sesame oil & garlic – and cooled them.

I made a spicy mayo to add to the crab.  I had 1/2 pound of crab & this was the perfect amount of mayo.  if you hate spice – just use straight mayo.

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Spicy Mayo

1/2 cup mayo (use authentic Japanese KEWPIE mayo, if possible.  I did not.)

2 TBS Sriracha

1 tsp Sesame oil

Whisk it together & voila!

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Spicy Imitation Crab

Chop your crab or pulse it in the food processor to get that superfine dice.  Add the spicy mayo & mix well.

Done.

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Once you have prepared & cooled ALL your ingredients, the next step is assembling the rolls.  Some people think those bamboo sushi rollers are helpful.  If you like them – wrap it in plastic wrap before you use it.  That prevents rice & other goo from getting smashed into it.  I like to go freestyle.

Lay out the nori & press your rice into in all the way to the sides but leaving a lot of room on the nori for rolling.

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Top it with your selection of ingredients.  This one will be asparagus, kale & shitake with the cauliflower rice.

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Then start rolling this thing from the side with the ingredients on it.  Roll it as tightly as you can.  Dampen the last 1/2 inch with wet fingers & roll the thing over onto the wet edge.  I then rub it left & right on the counter in an attempt to seal it.  Cut it with the seam side down with a VERY sharp knife.  Wetting the knife can help prevent rice from sticking to it.

Do not get disgusted if you ruin a few of these before you get the hang of it.  Maybe practice on a few with just carrots & cucumbers & rice so you can get the hang of it without wasting the more precious ingredients.

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Here I go with a spicy tuna one (there are asparagus spears hidden under there:

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I add chopped AND sliced jalapenos to almost all my sushi.  You needn’t – if the heat bugs you.

And here is my chunky California roll.   If you chop the crab in a food processor – you will get the more recognizable looking crab dice.

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Or a shrimp sushi roll:

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And finally – if you are feeling adventurous – heat up a little vegetable oil in a pan.  Make some rectangular, flattish cubes with your sticky rice.  Pan fry them til they are golden on both sides.  Top with spicy tuna & some jalapenos! YUM!  Sesame seeds – either white, black or toasted – work very nicely as garnish

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So – there you have it.  I hope you try it & I hope you have great success!