Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Ginger-Tamari Braised Eggplant

As you most likely know if you’ve been following my blog, I choose to cook without added oil, and part of the fun and challenge of this project has been to convert the recipes in this cookbook that do contain oil, to oil-free. But I do make one exception, and that is for sesame oil, which I use only occasionally, and even then, sparingly, and as a condiment only. The deep rich flavor of sesame oil adds a unique Asian flare to certain dishes, and it takes just a few drops to impart that flavor to an entire dish.

The “Ginger-Tamari Braised Eggplant”, page 366, is one of those dishes where I made an exception. This very easy, super tasty side dish is made from sliced Asian eggplant, seasoned with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sherry, and sesame oil, then topped off with a minced green onion garnish. Braised eggplant is my favorite way to eat this humble vegetable, as it literally soaks up all the flavors of the seasonings and transforms it to something quite special. The recipe actually calls for two different oils – one tablespoon of canola oil for sautéing, which I completely omitted, and one teaspoon of sesame oil as part of the braising liquid. One teaspoon was more than enough (even ½ teaspoon probably would have sufficed), and the very satisfying flavors of the braising sauce were deliciously infused throughout.

To get around using oil for the initial sauté of the eggplant, I added about two tablespoons of water to the skillet as the eggplant started to brown and stick (yes, even in a nonstick pan, eggplant is very tenacious!), set the heat to low, and covered the skillet to let the eggplant “sweat”. Once through that step, the eggplant was ready for the braising sauce and the final steps. This makes a wonderful side dish to an Asian themed meal. (I served it as a side to Kim Chi Noodle Soup.)

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Add the eggplant to a dry, non-stick skillet to start the sauté process, and as it starts to brown and stick, set the heat to low, add two tablespoons of water, and cover the skillet to let the eggplant “sweat”, until it has softened sufficiently before moving on the final steps.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Creamy Mushroom Soup

“Creamy Mushroom Soup”, page 177, is a mushroom lover’s delight. The dark brown broth is rich, delicious, and deeply satisfying. Most of the soup is puréed, including a large portion of sautéed mushrooms, which gives the soup an earthy and elemental flavor. Besides mushrooms there is onion, celery, garlic, and potato (which helps thicken the soup), with a pinch of thyme and soy sauce added for additional flavor. A portion of the mushrooms are sautéed and added to the puréed soup, and a parsley garnish to each bowl adds a bit of color.

I used sherry to sauté the veggies instead of oil, which I thought added a nice flavor to the soup, but water or broth would also work equally well as a substitute. I also added some re-hydrated dried mushrooms to the puréed soup for a bit more flavor and substance, and I used the mushroom soaking water for a portion of the broth, further enhancing the rich mushroom taste of the soup. The recipe calls for a cup of soy milk, added towards the end, but I found ½ cup to be enough, and kept the soup thick and creamy. I also added a pinch of cayenne to spice it up just a little.

This is a nice light soup that would make a great starter to a meal, or combined with a hearty salad and bread for a soup-salad-bread meal – one of my favorite combos!

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Instead of using oil to sauté the vegetables, use a nonstick skillet with a small amount of water, broth, or sherry.