Worcestershire sauce

My salad dressings are always made the same way, with lemon, olive oil and salt. Sometimes I add a new thing here and there, but usually I stick with plain-and-simple. When we eat out, I often enjoy Caesar salad. I think Zuni Café here in San Francisco makes a tasty one. I remember that theirs is a little zippier than those at other restaurants. Somehow that sparkle of acidity makes me feel guilt-free as I always imagine it has less dairy. Ha, ha! I’m sure that I’m being delusional here.

Romaine and oak lettuce salad in zippy improv Caesar dressing

Romaine and oak lettuce salad in zippy improv Caesar dressing

Anyway, I left work the other day ready to make my own Caesar only to discover that we didn’t have all the ingredients I thought I needed. A couple of months ago we went to see an improv comedy show in Freemont with our friends Amie and Whitney. With improv theatre, there is no script and the actors react to one another’s speeches on the fly. It’s very creative and can be exciting. You never know what’s going to happen next, until it does. Very Zen, improv. Even the background music was improv, played by a friend of Amie and Whitney. Very cool!

Well then, this Caesar dressing is our improv show and my kitchen is the stage.

I didn’t have anchovies so I replaced them with fish sauce. I didn’t have regular mayo so I used vegan mayo. After adding all the ingredients I realized I needed more umami flavor so I added some miso paste to it. The zippiness comes from the amount of lemon. I used the juice of 2 large fruit. Don’t skimp on the lemon. Definitely use more if yours are tiny or not juicy. And don’t bother with bottled lemon juice.

key ingredients for zippy improv Caesar dressing

key ingredients for zippy improv Caesar dressing

zippy improv Caesar dressing

2 tbsp vegan mayo
1 tsp red miso paste
1 tsp fish sauce
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp olive oil
¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
Black pepper to taste
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 large juicy lemons

for the salad:

Romaine and Oak lettuces rinsed, dried and leaves tore into bite size (enough for 2 large portions)
Authentic Parmesan cheese to be grated at the table

Place all ingredients for salad dressing in a bowl and whisk to combine. Let rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes for flavors to marry. Place lettuces in a large bowl. Pour half of the dressing over, toss and taste it. Add more dressing or just serve it on the side at the table. Plate salad and grate parmesan cheese over top. If you leave the Parmesan out, which is fine, you will have a dairy free Caesar salad dressing.

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sweet and sour tofu

by Stevie on February 17, 2012

This recipe comes from an enjoyable blog that we’ve recently begun following, almost veg. Sweet and sour sauce is a classic that’s often popular with kids, as it is so yummy and not particularly spicy. I found it especially appealing because there’s no pineapple. Almost-veg writes “I like pineapples but not in savory foods.” Well, I like them too, but they don’t care for me. I’ve a terrible allergy and get hives all over my body in a matter of hours after eating even a tiny mouth-watering morsel of this glorious tropical fruit. Not a pretty picture. Or appetizing, so to move on…

sweet and sour tofu

sweet and sour tofu

I changed around the recipe a little by adding more veggies and using hoisin sauce instead of plum. I had the first and not the second, but no time to shop. I used poblano with the sweet bell peppers since we really enjoy its smoky flavor.

One final note before I give the instructions: I was amazed by the tofu! I had always wondered how Chinese restaurants get that thin crispy coating over soft tofu. And now I know. I will definitely make that again.

sweet and sour tofu

1 package tofu (I used regular)
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1 green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 poblano pepper; stem, seeds and ribs removed; cut into bite-sized chunks
1 onion, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
3 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt to taste
6 tbsp canola oil
¼ cup cashews (optional)

for the sauce:

2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1½ tsp rice vinegar
½ tbsp oyster sauce (veggie)
½ tsp sugar
4 tbsp water
½ tsp toasted sesame oil

Cut tofu into 1 inch cubes. Toss with cornstarch then mix with rice wine. Add 4 tbsp canola oil to a large non-stick skillet and fry tofu for a few minutes on each side to brown. Set aside.

Mix sweet and sour sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

Add remaining canola oil to skillet with onion and garlic. Add a bit of salt. Sauté for a few minutes until the onions become translucent. Add remaining veggies and continue to sauté. After they’ve softened a bit, add tofu, cashews if using, and sauce. Fold together gently and allow to warm through for a few minutes. Adjust salt if needed.

Serve with rice.

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I simply love the site sardine society. It is fully dedicated to the noble, cheap and widely available canned sardine, and all-things canned-sardine related. What a great way to honor these humble, delicious and prolific fish.

patê de sardinha AKA sardine paté

patê de sardinha AKA sardine paté

Sardines have a wonderful flavor, are inexpensive and are a rich source of protein. Yet they always seem to struggle under the “canned fish” stigma: too smelly, too fishy, too unrefined, etc. Well, that’s too bad. And rather silly, too. I eat them straight from the can with pleasure all the time. Cooking with them is also marvelous. And don’t even get me started about fresh sardines! Out of this world!

Marcia, a friend of mine back when I lived in Brazil, used to make this patê de sardinha often. She and her husband bought a house and chunk of land in a remote, scenic area nearby a recently constructed damn in the State of São Paulo. They invited friends over to spend weekends and help with the up-keep of the place. In return we had a nice place to stay and a chance to escape from the city during the summer. Since we always got there late and hungry, Marcia always made her sardine paté to tide us over until dinner. We would enjoy it with French bread and lots of cold Brazilian beer. Delish.

patê de sardinha AKA sardine paté

1 can oil packed sardines, drained
4 tbsp finely chopped white onion
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp black pepper
Few drops of hot sauce (sriracha)
3 tbsp vegenaise
½ tsp French mustard
2 tbsp ketchup
Juice of ½ lime
Bread slices

Put all ingredients (except bread) in a bowl and mash with a fork until relatively smooth, cover and refrigerate for about half an hour. Transfer paté to a serving bowl. Eat with any bread of your preference.

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Lynda’s deviled eggs

by Heguiberto on January 30, 2012

I was determined to find a cheap deviled egg platter at a thrift shop in the Mission District of San Francisco this past weekend to present my mother-in-law’s deviled eggs. We went to three or four stores and couldn’t find any (though we made out with vintage shirts.) I was disappointed because I don’t see these dishes very often at regular stores anymore. How could I display the deviled eggs cutely and in the manner in which they deserve?

Lynda’s deviled eggs

Lynda’s deviled eggs

I know that you can cut a bit of the bottom of each half egg off so they could lay flat on the serving tray but that was not part of the original recipe… And who does that anyway?

Fortunately, we didn’t give up and “like they always say” our patience was rewarded. Later that afternoon while shopping at the Ferry Building we found the perfect dish for sale at Sur La Table! Success! And it was selling at a discount price of just $5.99! Plus it looks like a big egg. Wowza!

We spent Christmas Day at Steven’s parents this year. His mother, Lynda, made tons of delicious dishes, both savory and sweet. Thank you! I brought few of her recipes back home and will be producing them for weirdcombinations. Obviously, this is one of them. These deviled eggs are to die for and extremely simple to make. I know its artery clogging but so good!

One thing I just realized is that in Brazil Worcestershire sauce is called molho Inglês, or English Sauce, and I never connected the two names together until now. I did modify it by using vegenaise rather than mayonnaise.

Lynda’s deviled eggs

6 large organic eggs
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Few drops of Sriracha sauce
¼ cup vegenaise
Sweet paprika

To cook your eggs to perfection, remove eggs from the fridge about an hour before boiling just to bring them to room temperature. Put eggs in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cover with water, place on stove at high temperature, bring to a boil, turn it off, remove pan from heat. Cover and let it rest for 17 minutes. Scoop eggs out of water, rinse in cold water, remove shells. Cut eggs lengthwise in halves.

Gently remove yolks and place in a bowl, allow it to cool down if still warm. Add mustard, vegenaise, Worcestershire and sriracha sauces. Using a stick blender, blend until smooth. Fill each egg white with the spicy yolk paste. Place in deviled egg dish. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

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