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10 Must-Try Japanese Foods and Delicious Desserts

10 Must-Try Japanese Foods and Delicious Desserts

The Japanese cuisine (和食 washoku) is a delicious and highly unique cuisine which offers a wide variety of traditional and regional delights. Japanese food has been largely influenced by international cuisines but in the last few decades, it has also managed to make its own contributions to western countries, most popular of which is sushi.

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Japanese food is largely based on rice and noodles combined with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Dishes commonly consist of fish & seafood (raw or grilled) and vegetables (raw, cooked, or pickled). Both vegetables and seafood can also be fried in batter or added to broths. Meat dishes became popular with the modernization of the country, in the late 19th century.

Here is a list of 10 of the most beloved Japanese foods that will broaden your culinary knowledge and enrich your dinner menu.

#1 Sushi

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As mentioned before, sushi is the most popular Japanese food worldwide. The term ‘sushi’ refers to any recipe made with Japanese short-grain rice and seasoned with rice vinegar. Common varieties of sushi include shaped mounds of sushi rice with slices of raw fish on top, sushi rice and fillings rolled up in seaweed, and sushi rice stuffed inside fried tofu pockets. Westernized versions include sushi salads, bowls, pasta sushi, sushi nachos and much more!

Spicy California Roll Sushi Nachos

#2 Noodles

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There are two main noodle varieties in Japan – udon, thick wheat noodles, and soba, thin buckwheat noodles. Both varieties find their way in different recipes including stir fries, hot pots, and soups.

Peanut Sesame Slaw with Soba Noodles

Spicy Black Pepper Shrimp with Udon Noodles

#3 Ramen

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Ramen is a noodle soup that has grown in popularity over the past few years, not only in Japan but all around the world. Millennials and hipsters seem to love it and for that reason, you’ll find it on many food trend lists online. It consists of special ramen noodles made of wheat and salty broth made of four basic ingredients (miso, soy sauce, pork bone, and salt). Toppings may include other types of meat, tofu, and vegetables such as nori seaweed, bamboo shoots, and spring onions.

Homemade Spiced Ramen with Tofu

#4 Okonomiyaki Pancake

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Translated as ‘grilled as you like it’, this large, savory pancake truly lives up to its name. It is based on batter and sliced cabbage; the rest of the ingredients and condiments is up to you. In the States, this so-called ‘Japanese pizza’ is one of the most popular ways to use up leftover foods.

Okonomiyaki Japanese Pancake

#5 Sashimi

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Sashimi is composed of very thin raw fish or meat slices often served with daikon, wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce. Unlike sushi, sashimi is never served with rice. Some sashimi varieties are quite controversial due to the use of unusual meat types like dolphin and whale meat. Sashimi must be made with fresh fish in order to ensure better taste but also to avoid contamination. You can combine several types of sashimi-grade fish in a single recipe (for instance, salmon, yellowtail, and fresh ahi).

Sashimi Poke

#6 Tofu

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In Western countries, tofu is one of the most popular healthy foods due to the fact it is gluten-free and low in calories. It is also one of the favorite vegan and vegetarian protein sources. In Japan, tofu is a traditional ingredient consumed on regular basis by everyone. This Japanese food is made of coagulated soy milk, pressed into solid blocks. Tofu blocks come in different levels of firmness and can be cooked in different manners, including boiling, grilling, and frying. Tofu can also be consumed raw, combined with savory garnishes. You can even include it in dessert recipes!

Pan Fried Sesame Tofu with Broccoli

Chocolate Tofu Pudding

#7 Miso Soup

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Miso (a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soy beans) is considered one of Japan’s staple foods. Miso soup, by analogy, is one of the most bellowed Japanese dishes! Miso soup recipes are based on miso paste and dashi broth, complemented with other ingredients of choice such as seaweed, onion, or tofu. The fact that miso soup enhances the flavor of the main dish makes it a favorite side dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Kale, Butternut Squash and Mushroom Miso Soup

#8 Edamame

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The green, immature soy beans are to people in Japan what peanuts and snacks are to us. They are served boiled or steamed, seasoned with a little salt, but are also a common salad ingredient. Edamame beans offer a significant nutrient punch – they’re rich in protein, dietary fiber, and micronutrients like vitamin K, folate, manganese, and phosphorus.

Edamame Summer Salad with Radishes

#9 Oden

Oden is Japan’s favorite winter dish! This hot pot is based on a light dashi broth complemented with soy sauce and ingredients like boiled eggs, mochi rice cakes, processed fish cakes, daikon, tofu, and konjac yam. However, ingredients can vary depending on the region. Oden is served in a large pot at the center of the table and often seasoned with karashi mustard.

Oden Recipe

#10 Yakitori

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Yakitori translates as ‘burned chicken’ or ‘barbecued chicken’ and that’s just what it is – chicken pieces skewered on metal or bamboo sticks and grilled over a charcoal fire. The meat is seasoned with salt and tare sauce (soy sauce, rice wine, sake, and sugar). There are many different types of yakitori chicken including chicken meatballs and chicken thigh. Due to the ease of preparation, yakitori is a very popular street food in Japan and a go-to dish during sports nights.

Yakitori – Grilled Chicken Meat Balls

Bonus – Japanese Desserts

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‘Wagashi’ is a common term that encompasses all traditional Japanese sweet treats. The most commonly used traditional ingredients are mochi, rice cakes made of short-grain glutinous rice, and red bean paste. The latter is used as a filling for doriyaki pancakes, a delight especially popular among kids in Japan.

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Modern Japanese desserts can also contain green tea, which is especially popular as an ice cream ingredient. Speaking of ice cream, Japanese love their shaved frozen dessert called kakigōri. Here are two ideas to tackle your imagination:

Green Tea Ice Cream

Red Bean Mochi Bars

I’m in love with food and everything about food! Blogging is my way of celebrating that love and MyGreatRecipes made it all happen. If you, too, are into great food and interesting reads, you will enjoy reading my posts!
Korean Food – 10 Korean Recipes to Try Before You Die!

Korean Food – 10 Korean Recipes to Try Before You Die!

With vegetables taking center stage and the reduced use of oil, Korean food is one of the healthiest on the planet! Besides veggies, Korean cuisine is largely based on steamed rice and simply-cooked meats. And obsessed with kimchi, apparently! Are you up to for exploring this amazing Asian cuisine? Here is what to stock up on:

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  • Vegetables: napa cabbage, Korean radish, cucumber, spinach, potato, sweet potato, bean sprouts, garlic, scallions, chili peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, seaweed, lotus root, wild greens, as well as medicinal herbs like ginseng.
  • Meat: beef, chicken, pork, seafood, fish.
  • Grains and legumes: short-grain rice is the most widely used grain, whereas, when it comes to legumes, the use of soybeans and soybean products prevails, followed by mung beans and azuki beans.
  • Spices and condiments: fermented bean paste, fermented red chili paste, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, pepper flakes, ginger, and salt.

10 Essential Korean Food Recipes

#1 Kimchi

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The fact that there are over a hundred different types of kimchi speaks best about Korean love for this food. The term ‘kimchi’ refers to fermented vegetables & vegetable dishes usually made with napa cabbage, Korean radish, or cucumber, brined in a mixture made with garlic, ginger, chili peppers, and scallions. The variations and uses of kimchi are endless. It can be served as a side dish or be a part of rice recipes and soups. Besides great taste, kimchi also offers a plethora of nutrients such as vitamins A, thiamine, riboflavin, and B2, minerals like iron and calcium, as well as lactobacilli, good bacteria that aids digestion.

Kimchi, Bacon and Shitake Mushroom Omlete

This simple breakfast dish is a perfect combination of flavors covered in fluffy eggs and melty cheese!

Zucchini and Kimchi Quinoa Salad

The secret ingredient in this salad is the flavorful gochujang dressing, also known as Korean barbecue sauce. It combines sweet, salty, tangy, and hot flavors and will turn any salad into an exotic delight. Don’t forget to sprinkle some sesame seeds on top for crunchiness.

#2 Noodles

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Noodles have been an integral part of Korean cuisine since ancient times. They appear in a wide variety of dishes and can be combined with almost anything in soups, wraps, stir-fries, and more!

Jap Chae (Korean Stir-Fry Noodles)

Throwing a party or a potluck? Jap Chae is the perfect dish for you! Spicy, savory, flavorful and most importantly, simple to make. For a vegetarian variety, simply leave the meat out!

Korean-Style Teriyaki Beef Lettuce Wraps

Even though the recipe calls for a rather large number of ingredients, it is quite easy to make, considering you can prepare the meat & noodles in advance. The final result? Exotic, sweet, and spicy lettuce wraps, perfect for summer dinners.

#3 Soups and Stews

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Soups are an integral part of every Korean meal. In fact, they’re served as a part of the main course rather than as a starter. Korean soup recipes are generally divided into two broad categories:

  • Guk, made with meat, shellfish, and veggies.
  • Jjigae, thicker, more heavily seasoned soups and stews.

Unlike soups, jjigae stews are served as a shared side dish. Common ingredients include fish, tofu, and seasonal veggies.

Korean Miso Soup (Dengjang Chigae)

Korean miso soup is made with the Korean form of miso called dengjang, which contains uncrushed beans for extra texture. That’s the base; other than that, you can add anything –  chili paste, meat or tofu, onions, zucchini…

Korean Spicy Chicken Stew

Make sure to visit a Korean grocery store before you start preparing this recipe. Go to the marinated meats section and find special pre-marinated chicken under the label ‘chicken stew’. Combine it with some potatoes & carrots, and spice it up with Korean chili paste and chili powder.

#4 Banchan

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Banchan is a broad term that covers all side dishes in Korean cuisine (excluding soups and stews but including kimchi!). More precisely, banchan are small dishes of food served along with cooked rice in the center of the table to be shared. There are several banchan subcategories:

  • Jjim, dishes made by steaming or boiling marinated meat or fish and seon, which refers to steamed vegetables.
  • Gui, grilled dishes, usually comprised of meat or fish accompanied by fresh or grilled vegetables.
  • Hoe, raw dishes, especially raw fish dipped in a sauce and served with lettuce or other greens.
  • Namul, refers to a variety of edible leaves & grass or dishes made of them.
  • Jeon, savory pan-fried pancakes made of wheat flour, with an addition of seafood or kimchi. Jeon pancakes are usually dipped in a mixture of soy sauce, red pepper, and vinegar.

Kimchi Pancake (Kimchijeon)

Take ripe, crispy, juicy, and spicy kimchi and transform it into a crispy, savory, fulfilling snack that will make your kitchen smell divinely! Add some of the kimchi brine to get a vivid-colored pancake. The rest of the ingredients is at your discretion; think meat and all sorts of vegetables.

Korean Spinach Salad

Replace vegetable oil with sesame oil to give the spinach a deep, nutty, & earthy flavor. Serve this salad with grilled meat or individually as a main meal!

#5 Desserts

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In Korean cuisine, desserts are divided into two general categories:

  • Tteok, traditional rice cakes which are served as a snack or dessert. Rice cakes can be served filled or covered with sweetened red bean paste, mung bean paste, raisins, or mashed red beans. Other fillings can also include sweetened sesame seeds, black beans, jujubes, honey, chestnuts, or pine nuts.
  • Hangwa is a term that refers to all traditional confectionery which covers tea foods, fried-dough sweets, jelly-like sweets, fruits and roots boiled in honey or sugar, and much more.

Black Bean Dipping Sauce with Maple Syrup

Fermented black soy beans are salty and somewhat tangy. In this recipe, their strong taste is tamed with the addition of sweet maple syrup and creamy peanut butter. This tasty mixture can be used as a dipping sauce but also as an addition to meat dishes.

Bonus –Vegetarian Korean Food

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Vegetarian cooking developed under the influence of Buddhist traditions in the past. Today, there is a large number of vegetarian restaurants throughout the country. They usually serve cold buffets, with vegetarian kimchi and tofu-based dishes like Bibimbap. These Korean restaurants don’t serve alcoholic beverages; instead, they offer a wide range of teas.

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Vegetarian Korean Bibimbap Bowls

Bibimbap is a rich dish full of textures, flavors, and nutrients. There are varieties made with meat, but tofu is the best protein choice for vegans and vegetarians. Top it with vegetables, fried egg, and sauce.

 

 

I’m in love with food and everything about food! Blogging is my way of celebrating that love and MyGreatRecipes made it all happen. If you, too, are into great food and interesting reads, you will enjoy reading my posts!
National Pizza Day – Pizza History, Cooking Methods, Toppings, and Delicious Pizza Recipes

National Pizza Day – Pizza History, Cooking Methods, Toppings, and Delicious Pizza Recipes

On September 5, we were celebrating the National Pizza Day. As you might already know, our way of celebrating often involves cook-offs and experiments in the kitchen.

If you’ve been following our blog, you must have noticed that pizza dough has already been on the repertoire. Back then, we tested different types of flours and prepared thick & thin crusts. After a few fiery arguments about which type of pizza dough is the best – the Chicago deep dish or the typical Neapolitan variety, and whether it should be left plain or complemented with herbs (some of us insisted on stuffing the crust with cheese!) – the only conclusion reached was that tastes should not be discussed.

 

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This time, we decided to experiment with alternative pizza toppings and different cooking methods. However, as we are suckers for research and history, before presenting our findings in the form of amazing pizza recipes, we are taking you on a tour through Pizza World.

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Pizza Background

What is pizza?

Of course, you know what pizza is. It’s…well, pizza. Here is a much smarter description of everyone’s favorite Italian invention: Pizza is a yeasted flatbread usually topped with cheese & tomato sauce. Sometimes various meats, veggies, and condiments are added as toppings and then the pizza is baked in the oven.

Where did the name come from?

The word ‘pizza’ dates from a Latin manuscript originating from the 10th century Central Italy. It probably originated from the Greek word ‘pitta’ which referred to a round oven-baked flatbread eaten plain or with toppings.

Who invented pizza?

We all know it was invented in Italy but can we trace the very city that gave us this fantastic food? Ready for a quick time travel?

–    Believe it or not, the earliest forms of pizza date from the Neolithic age, when people added various ingredients to breads;

–    In ancient Greece, bread was often complemented with olive oil, cheese, and herbs;

–    In Persia, 6th century BC, soldiers ate flatbreads topped with cheese and dates;

–    Early pizza is also mentioned in the ancient Roman poem “Aeneid” as a round pita bread topped with veggies.

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Pizza as we know it today comes from the Italian city of Naples. It is believed that the earliest form of modern pizza was invented in the 18th century. The toppings back then included hops, garlic, cheese, lard, salt, and basil. As you might have noticed, tomatoes were nowhere to be found! They were first introduced in pizza Margherita in the late 19th century. The legend has it that this pizza was invented in honor of Queen Margherita and was made with the intention to include the colors of the Italian flag: tomato (red), mozzarella cheese (white) and basil (green).

Pizza quickly became popular in its homeland but mostly among the poor. Upon his visit to Naples, Alexandre Dumas, the author of “The Three Musketeers”, noted that the poor ate only watermelon in summer and pizza in winter.

Many street stands and pizza bakeries soon popped up throughout the country. Fast forward three centuries later, pizza has conquered the whole world and in 2009 it was proclaimed a Traditional Specialty Guaranteed dish.

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Pizza in the USA

Quick history of pizza in the States:

  • Pizza was brought to the States by Italian immigrants in the 19th century. At first, it was only eaten by Italian working class immigrants.
  • The first pizza restaurant was actually a grocery store that included pizza in its repertoire. It started off in 1905, in NYC.
  • After NYC, Boston, New Haven, and Trenton started selling pizzas, at first as whole pies and since the 1930’s as separate slices.
  • The first records of the famous Chicago-style deep dish pizzas date from 1943.
  • Soon, popular pizza chains like Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, and Papa John’s opened, followed by take-and-bake pizzerias which assembled the pizza in the store and then sell it to customers to bake at home. Some take-and-bakes sold fresh pizza dough along with the basic ingredients and sauces, to complete at home before baking.
  • In fact, it was the Domino’s Pizza that introduced the famous “30 minutes or less” guarantee in the 1990’s. Their competitors, Pizza Hut, went a step forward by delivering the first pizza to the International Space Station in 2001!
  • It didn’t take long for pizzas to enter the supermarkets & grocery stores in chilled and frozen versions. However, the first frozen pizza, which was introduced in the 1960’s tasted like cardboard until Rose Totino improved its taste. The most popular frozen variety is the frozen pizza with a self-rising crust and topped with raw ingredients.

Today, pizza is one of the most consumed foods in the States. According to statistics, 40% of the Americans eat pizza at least once a week. That means that 350 slices of pizza are devoured each second!

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The Secrets to a Perfect Pizza

Dough

If you’ve read our article on pizza dough, you must have discovered a ton of secrets to making it perfect. Well, here is another one – dough-spinning. Spinning the pizza dough is not simple at all. In fact, there is a professional competition in acrobatic dough-spinning held every year at the World Pizza Championships. But there’s more to it than just showing off. Spinning makes the pizza dough spread evenly, retain moisture, and form a uniform crust.

Cooking

Pizza newbies often end up with a gooey layer between the topping and the crust. This results from undercooked pizza dough, a dough that doesn’t contain enough yeast, or from the use of cold toppings. So, bear these three factors in mind next time you decide to make homemade pizza.

Have you ever wondered why restaurant pizzas taste so good? It’s because they’re baked in stone-brick or electric deck ovens. Fancier venues use coal or wood ovens for an even greater taste! Luckily, the brick oven effect can be closely reproduced at home by baking in a regular oven or, even better, on a pizza stone.

Pizzas can be grilled as well. Grilled pizzas are made of round and thin yeasted dough and then cooked directly over the grill fire. The dough is turned over once the bottom is brown, at which point the toppings are added on the baked side. The toppings are usually sliced very thin in order to ensure complete baking. Alternatively, larger slices and chunks can be cooked before adding them to the dough.

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All You Ever Wanted to Know About Pizza Toppings

Cheese has been part of pizza since forever. Which type you use is entirely up to you. However, if you ask the scientists, they’ll say “Go for mozzarella”. After studying various types of cheeses and their cooking properties, food experts determined that mozzarella is the best choice for pizza. There are four different kinds of mozzarella used for pizza: fior di latte (made from cow’s milk), mozzarella di bufala (made from the milk of water buffalo), burrata (a fresh Italian cheese with creamy filling), and the type most commonly used in USA pizza restaurants, pizza cheese (whole-milk or part-skim mozzarella)

When choosing the best cheese for your pizza, bear in mind that it should have the following properties: melting, browning, stretchiness, as well as good amount of moisture and fat. Besides mozzarella, you can also opt for pecorino romano, provolone, and ricotta.

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Classic Pizza Toppings

Italian

If you want to replicate the authentic Neapolitan pizza, opt for tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala. Other authentic Italian pizzas are:

–    Pizza Alla Marinara, topped with marinara sauce;

–    Pizza Pugliese, topped with mozzarella, tomato, and onions;

–    Pizza Capricciosa, topped with mozzarella, mushrooms, ham, tomatoes, and artichokes;

–    Sicilian pizza, also known as sfincione, a thick-crust pizza topped with tomato sauce and other ingredients.

In time, Italian pizzas have evolved and resulted in similar products like

  • calzone (half-moon-shaped pizza dough folded around a filling);
  • stroboli (tube-shaped dough rolled around a filling); or
  • panzerotti (similar to calzone but fried).

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American

In the US, common toppings for pizza include ground beef, pepperoni, chicken, ham, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, garlic, onions, and pineapple. However, the toppings vary depending on the region or city. Hence, today we can choose from Chicago, California, New Haven, Greek, New York, and Detroit varieties which can be deep-dish, pockets, stuffed, rolled, turnovers, rolled, or even sold as pizza-on-a-stick!

When it comes to toppings, Americans seem quite boring compared to other countries. Almost 40% opt for a plain cheese pizza, followed by other standard ingredients. Here are the top then topping choices in the US:

  1. pepperoni
  2. mushrooms
  3. onions
  4. sausage
  5. bacon
  6. extra cheese
  7. black olives
  8. green peppers
  9. pineapple
  10. spinach

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Pizza Toppings Around the World

The rest of the world is a different story. The fact that pizza can be topped with almost anything without spoiling its taste, allows regional ingredients and local foods to blend and create unique flavors. Here is some inspiration for when you decide to break the routine and venture into the unknown.

–    Australia: bacon, ham, and egg; also pineapple, shrimp, and BBQ;

–    Brazil: green peas, corn, raisins, boiled eggs, and hearts of palm;

–    China: mini-hot dogs;

–    Costa Rica: shrimp and coconut;

–    France: bacon, onion, and fresh cream ;

–    Germany: canned tuna;

–    Greece: feta cheese, olives, oregano, onion, tomato, green pepper, and pepperoni;

–    India: tikka chicken (marinated in spicy sauce), minced mutton, pickled ginger, paneer cheese, and tofu;

–    Japan: Squid, eel, and teriyaki chicken with a sauce made of mayo, bacon, and potatoes;

–    Netherlands: lamb, as well as the so-called ‘Double Dutch” – double meat, double onion, and double cheese;

–    Pakistan: tikka chicken, achari chicken, and curry;

–    Portugal, local garlic sausage or chorizo;

–    Russia: a combination of several types of sea fish with onions called ‘mocaba’;

–    Sweden: chicken, peanut, curry powder, but also fruits like pineapple and banana.

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Our Roundup of Best Homemade Pizza Recipes

Glorious Garden Pizza

Chop the vegetables into small pieces and cook until crispy-tender. If you’re using broccoli, pre-cook the florets in water for about 3 minutes, then drain, and place on the dough.

Hawaiian Pizza

Standard toppings like ham and bell pepper get a tropical twist with the use of pineapple. The best thing about this recipe is that if you have any leftover pineapple, you can save it for desserts or smoothies!

Upside-Down Pizza

This is a standard homemade pizza with a twist! The crust is stuffed with Parmesan cheese and a rich topping which consists of sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, and mozzarella cheese. We love this recipe because it is perfect for busy moms. In addition, this pizza allows you to include any leftover veggies like carrots and zucchini for extra nutrition!

Potato Pizza

Don’t let the name fool you; this is not one of those yucky healthy pizzas. The potatoes are seasoned with rosemary and smothered in melted mozzarella cheese. For an even creamier experience, use leftover mashed potatoes to spread over the pizza dough. Top with green onions, Cheddar cheese, and cooked bacon. Bake in a 450°F oven for about 15-20 minutes.

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Fajita Pizza

Beans, peppers, cilantro, and spicy seasoning create a chicken fajita pizza that will make everyone happy! To make the spicy seasoning and have it ready to use, combine a tablespoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 1½ teaspoons ground cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon granulated sugar. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl, then transfer to a small jar. Seal tightly to store.

Well, the National Pizza Month, October, is just around the corned but I think we’re well prepared!

May it be happy and delicious!

I’m in love with food and everything about food! Blogging is my way of celebrating that love and MyGreatRecipes made it all happen. If you, too, are into great food and interesting reads, you will enjoy reading my posts!
10 Things You Should Know Before Going Vegan with 25+ Delicious Vegan Recipes to Help You Do It!

10 Things You Should Know Before Going Vegan with 25+ Delicious Vegan Recipes to Help You Do It!

Veganism looks more glamorous than ever! Stars like Beyoncé and Kylie Janner make vegan lifestyle seem not only right but also attractive. Are you considering crossing the line? Then you should know that your love for animals is not enough to become vegan.

The transition to veganism is not easy and doesn’t happen overnight. You’re not just quitting meat; you’re quitting all animal-derived products. Your organism will react and demand ‘regular’ food. I will hit you with cravings and wake you up in the middle of the night with severe hunger pangs.

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The first step towards veganism is gathering information. Unlike celebrities, you (probably) don’t have a personal chef to cover all your vegan needs. That is why you will need answers to essential questions like:

–    What to eat?

–    Where to buy vegan food?

–    How to cook vegan food?

This post will cover not only these basic questions but also turn your attention to issues like avoiding vegan junk food, as well as finding suitable sources for proteins and vitamins.

vegan recipes

What is Veganism Exactly?

Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy and other animal-derived products such as honey. However, the term ‘vegan’ can have a much broader meaning.

Many vegans also avoid foods that are processed using animal products like white sugar (contains animal bones) or foods that are grown in a way that endangers certain animal species like some types of coffee.

In addition, most vegans refuse to use products tested on animals, as well as animal-derived products that are not food, such as fur, leather, and wool.

vegan recipes

What Do Vegans Eat, Actually?

What is left after you get rid of meat, eggs, and dairy? A vegan diet includes fruits & veggies, as well as all grains, beans, and legumes.

In addition, there are many vegan versions of popular foods like vegan cheese, meat, ice cream, burgers, hot dogs, and mayonnaise, which allow an infinite number of variations.

Let’s not forget to mention soy products (especially tofu and soy milk) which are widely used among vegans. Furthermore, most breads and pasta are vegan, as is rice and French fries!

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How to Become Vegan?

So, you’ve made up your mind about becoming vegan. Where to start from

#1 Find your own pace

Experienced vegans claim that going vegan overnight is the worst way to do it. Start small and go step by step. You can remove one animal product at a time or start off as a vegetarian before switching to vegan. Another option is to first become reducetarian, i.e. start reducing the intake of animal-derived products or restrict their use to weekends only.

Allow your organism to adjust to vegan foods before you make the final cut. For instance, have a vegan smoothie before your regular breakfast or eat an apple after dinner. Next step, start substituting animal products with vegan versions.

Chia Matcha Overnight Breakfast Smoothie

Pineapple Mango Vitamin C Booster Smoothie

Antioxidant Cherry Fruit Salad

Even if you have made a complete transition, it’s OK to give yourself a break from time to time. Don’t feel guilty if you have an occasional slice of cake or fried chicken. Forgive yourself and be patient.

vegan recipes

#2 Expect lots of questions

Many people will regard your change of lifestyle as a threat to theirs. You will be asked lots of questions and hear many dissuasions. There are two options here – you can either state clearly that you’re doing this for your own reasons or simply make the transition quietly. This second option will reduce the stress and allow you to focus your energy on adjusting to the new diet instead on explaining why on earth did you go vegan.

#3 Find good protein sources

Speaking of people asking questions, the most frequently asked one is “Where do you get your proteins from?” Proteins are extremely important for our bodies. They’re the building blocks of life. However, despite popular belief, animal products are not the richest sources of proteins. Natural soy, seitan, tofu, beans, lentils, nuts, hemp seeds, and quinoa are perfect plant-based protein sources.

Sloppy Vegan Joe

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

Lentil and Quinoa Chili

Zesty Lemon Macadamia Nut Cookies

Hemp Ranch Vegan Pasta Salad

Moreover, vegetables like cauliflower, asparagus, and broccoli also provide a lot of proteins. Let’s not forget about the various vegan protein powders you can use. To conclude, the large number of vegan athletes out there is the best proof that vegans DO consume enough proteins on a daily basis.

vegan recipes

Asparagus and Mushroom Vegan Quiche

Vegan Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Fully Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Peanut Butter Protein Buckeyes Recipe

#4 Find good calcium sources

Knowing that dairy products are the best sources of calcium and vitamin D, there seems to be another problem you need to solve. Well, first of all, we get most of vitamin D from the sun so that’s covered.

Here is another fun fact: the pasteurized milk most of us consume is not that rich in calcium. When scientist insists on drinking milk for calcium, they mean raw milk in which high heat hasn’t destroyed most of the nutrients.

Finally, how to make sure your bones remain stronger if your switch to a vegan diet? The list of naturally calcium-rich foods includes leafy greens like kale and bok choy, soy beans, almonds, and figs. Add calcium-fortified foods like plant-based milk, cereals, and tofu to your shopping list as well. All of the above mentioned foods are also rich in vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium.

vegan diet

Vegan Kale and Artichoke Dip

Banana Almond Meal Muffins

Three-Step No Bake Chocolate Coconut Cashew Bars

#5 Avoid the trap called “Vegan junk food”

What’s the point of going vegan if you eat only French fries, rice, pasta, and white bread? These four starchy food items are the most common choices for newbie vegans, along with processed foods with low nutritional value. Eventually, you will end up being hungry and overweight.

Focus on ingredients that will provide enough proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Translated into simple words, eat more fruits and veggies!

Creamy Vegan Potato Salad

vegan diet

#6 Go easy on soy

You will miss meat and that’s OK. Just don’t make soy a central ingredient in your diet. No matter how bad red meat might be for your heart, eating too much soy is worse. Soy-based meat substitutes are often highly processed and contain lots of sodium and preservatives. The best sources of soy are the fermented soy products like tempeh and natto. Besides being rich in vitamin K and probiotics, these products facilitate the digestion and absorption of soybean proteins. Again, be cautious; no matter how healthy they are, fermented soy products are quite high in calories so make sure to consume in moderation!

Miso tempeh Chili

vegan diet

#7 Consider supplements

Vitamin B12 occurs naturally only in animal foods, so you’ll need to invest in B12-fortified foods and supplements. This vitamin keeps the nervous system and blood cells healthy. Deficiencies can lead to fatigue, weakness, constipation, too much weight loss, nerve problems, and mental disorders like depression. Consider stocking up on some nutritional yeast. It usually comes fortified with B12 and has multiple uses in the kitchen. It adds flavor & saltiness to various dishes (think vegan mac and cheese) but is also used as a thickener for soups and stews.

Tasty Grain-Free “Cheese” Crackers

Vegan Pho with Spiced Tofu

Another nutrient you’ll need to supplement is iron. Unlike animal-based iron which is easily absorbed by the body, plant-based iron is less readily absorbed. That is why in addition to iron-rich foods like sunflower seeds, legumes, dried raisins, and leafy greens, you should also take supplements, as well as vitamin C-rich foods (citrus, red peppers, and broccoli), which facilitate iron absorption.

Vegan Thanksgiving Wraps

Vegan Broccoli Raisin Salad

Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Consult your doctor before you include supplements in your diet or even better before you even start the transition to a vegan diet.

vegan diet

#8 Shop like a vegan

Be prepared to change the entire way of doing shopping. You’ll be visiting regular grocery stores and supermarkets less and spend more time touring health food stores & farmer’s markets. Don’t be shy to talk to the staff and ask for advice, new products, or lower prices.

No matter what you might have heard, veganism is not an expensive way of life. Many staples like grains, beans, and nuts are quite cheap, especially in health food stores where they’re sold in a bulk. Most fruits and veggies are also affordable, especially if you buy them frozen.

To save a few more bucks, you can shop at farmers’ markets an hour before closing, join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), or search for daily deals and discounts online.

You will also need to develop a habit of checking the product labels. Some products may seem vegan but contain animal-derived products. For instance, many breads and granolas contain whey, which is made from milk, whereas gummy bears contain gelatin! You never know what’s hiding in your food, so do your homework and learn all the tricky substances before you go shopping.

vegan diet

#9 Cook like a vegan

Remember that you’re not alone. If you have no vegans or vegetarians in your immediate surroundings, join some vegan/vegetarian groups on social media. You can ask the members for tips, advice, and vegan recipes anytime.

Buying a vegan cookbook can also be of great help. Alternatively, browse for vegan cooking websites and apps. Go through various vegan recipes and save the ones that seem interesting, but make sure to gather a number of quick and easy recipes as well.

You can also take your favorite dishes and transform them into vegan meals. For instance, make spaghetti sauce without meatballs or replace the meatballs with a vegan substitute. If you are the only vegan in the family, the thought of cooking two meals every day might sound discouraging. There’s no need to worry! You can cook the same meal in two separate pans. For instance, cook pasta and meat stir-fry separately. Add the meat to the pasta just before serving for your family and cover your own pasta in a store-bought, meat-free spaghetti sauce. However, be prepared that the vegan versions of your favorite dishes will look and taste differently.

Simple Vegan Meatballs

Some of the vegan recipes you make might taste less than delicious the first time. It is wise to lower your expectations when eating a veggie burger the first time. Don’t give up. Give these foods another chance once you get accustomed to new tastes. Or try preparing the same recipe using different product brands or cooking techniques. Try replacing the quinoa in your burger patty with rice or try grilling the burger instead of frying it.

vegan diet

Jalapeño Chickpea Lentil Burgers with Sweet Mango Avocado Pico

Don’t be afraid to explore. In the course of becoming vegan, you’ll discover a range of new ingredients. Make it your goal to buy a new vegan product every time you go shopping and incorporate it in a new vegan recipe. Eventually, you’ll find your diet richer and more varied than ever.

DISCOVER GREAT RECIPES, TIPS & IDEAS!

#10 Eat out like a vegan

Today’s vegans live in a vegan-friendly world. Not only is there a large number of exclusively vegan restaurants, but even regular restaurants include vegan items on their menus. Even fast food places and cafeterias offer vegan options! Turing vegan is a great excuse to tour the restaurants in your city. Check out ethnic restaurants like Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Thai to taste the various vegan dishes they offer. Veggie tacos? Sure. Indian curries? They’re vegan too. Italian pasta? You got it!

Vegan Indian Sweet Potato Soup

Vegan Seven Layer Mexican Dip

Kung Pao Lentils

Fresh Herb Tabouli

Going vegan is an adventure where you get to learn new things every day. Enjoy it!

 

I’m in love with food and everything about food! Blogging is my way of celebrating that love and MyGreatRecipes made it all happen. If you, too, are into great food and interesting reads, you will enjoy reading my posts!
Everything You Need to Know About Brisket Plus 13 Delicious Recipes     

Everything You Need to Know About Brisket Plus 13 Delicious Recipes     

What is brisket? Well, if you have ever had a pastrami, then you have had a brisket! This flavorful beef cut is a true classic which can be prepared in many different ways: smoked, slow-cooked, braised, cured… However, many of us have had not-so-good experiences with brisket; chewy and rubbery textures or lack of flavor are just two examples of how brisket magic can turn into brisket nightmare.

Luckily, these issues are easy to solve. We’re going through the everything connected to brisket step by step, explaining what brisket is, how to choose the best cut, and different cooking techniques, all topped with super-tasty recipes!

DISCOVER GREAT RECIPES, TIPS & IDEAS!

What is Brisket?

The consumption of brisket in the US goes back to the native Indian tribes in Texas. Even today, this cut is considered one of the Texas staple foods and is synonymous with the Lone Star State’s culture.

Beef brisket is one of the nine primal beef cuts. It is a cut of meat from the lower chest or breast of beef (or less commonly used, veal). More precisely, brisket comes from under the first five ribs of the cow. It is large and heavy cut (10-20 pounds) which is sold without bones.

brisket recipe

Is Brisket Good for You?

It should be noted that even the leanest beef brisket cuts contain a considerable amount of calories. Brisket contains no carbs but is quite rich in protein, which makes it great for physically active people.

Lean beef brisket contains B vitamins, including B-12, niacin, riboflavin, folate, and pantothenic acid. These vitamins enhance energy levels and improve red blood cell health. It is also rich in iron, as well as other minerals including magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and selenium.

As far as fat is concerned, a considerable portion found in brisket is saturated. Overconsumption of this type of fat can lead to raised blood cholesterol levels. However, considering that brisket is not something you prepare every day, it is safe to say that it is consumed in moderation and the risk of heart problems is kept at bay.

brisket rub

How to Buy Brisket

Instead of buying a brisket from the supermarket, obtain it from the butcher’s or a trusted local farmer. Make sure it has good color and looks moist (not wet).

As mentioned before, brisket cuts are quite hefty but they’re usually cut down into two parts which can be used interchangeably in recipes (unless the brisket recipe doesn’t specify which cut should be used:

–    Flat cut, also called flat half, center cut, or thin cut, is rectangular or square in shape. It has less fat, mostly distributed at the bottom. This cut is considered better and that’s why it is usually pricier. Buy it if you plan on hosting a dinner party – it is easier to slice and looks better.

–    Point cut, also called point half, front cut, or nose cut, is fattier, with the fat distributed throughout the meat. It is more flavorful and shaped like a triangle.

beef brisket recipe

Before Cooking the Beef Brisket

The first step to a perfect beef brisket is proper preparation. Here is what you need to do before you get down to cooking:

–    Don’t trim the fat. It is important not to remove the fat from the cut because it prevents the meat from drying during cooking. One more bonus from leaving the fat on is the extra flavor it contributes to the meat. If you really must intervene, remove only a part of the fat, using a sharp slicing knife.

–    Season well. It is best to season the cut with a generous amount of salt and pepper the night before and leave it to absorb the flavor.

smoking a brisket

Cooking Brisket

Due to the significant amount of connective collagen tissue it contains, brisket is quite tough and must be cooked in the right way in order to tenderize. Long, slow cooking (preferably with water or another liquid) helps break down the tough connective tissue, converting it into gelatin. The result is tender and juicy final product.

Here are our favorite ways to cook beef brisket:

Slow cooker brisket

We love using a slow cooker because it produces perfect brisket without requiring too much attention! Another important upside is that it turns the cooking liquid into a delicious smoky sauce which can be served on the side.

Place the brisket on top of chopped vegetables (celery, onions, and carrots) in the slow cooker. Note: if the cut is too big to fit into the slow cooker, you might need to cut it in half. Season with some ground pepper and pour the sauce over the brisket. (For a quick sauce, combine barbecue sauce, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce).

Cover and cook at low heat for 12 to 14 hours. Alternatively, you can set the temperature to high and shorten the cooking time to about 6-hours.

Note: Expert cooks recommend browning the meat on the stovetop before placing it into the slow cooker. This will seal the juices and add a deeper flavor.

Note 2: When it comes to add-ins, why stop at carrots and onions? The more flavoring agents you add to your brisket, the better it will taste. Think leeks, shallots, garlic, herbs, even dried fruits and booze (white wine, vodka, beer). And, similar to the brisket itself, try sauteeing them until fragrant before they enter the slow cooker.

smoking a brisket

Slow cooker brisket recipes:

Smoky Beef Brisket

Slow Cooker Texas Style Beef Brisket

Smoking a brisket

Smoking is probably one of the most popular cooking methods in the States and that love extends to beef brisket as well.

The first step is preparing a brisket rub that will pack the meat with flavors. Spread the brisket rub evenly on both sides of the cut. Cook immediately or let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to allow the brisket rub be absorbed. Alternatively, the meat can be marinated few hours before being smoked or, better yet, overnight.

Here is a step by step description of the method:

Place the brisket with the fatty side up on the top rack of the grill. Cover and heat to 225°F. Check the temperature of the grill every hour, without opening the lid (check the grill’s gauge or use a thermometer).

Cook until the meat reaches 195°F. If unsure, stick a fork in the brisket, and if it twists easily in the meat, you’re good to go.

Smoking implies cooking the meat slowly over indirect heat from wood or charcoal. This cooking method is especially popular in Texas where smoked brisket is one of the national favorites. In this State, brisket is smoked with hardwood to the fire to enhance the flavor. In Kansas City, smoked pieces of brisket can be returned to the smoker to make burnt ends and then serve them on white bread.

Smoked beef brisket recipe

smoking a brisket

Braising

Braising beef brisket is a tradition in Jewish cooking, especially for holidays. We love braising because it doesn’t require any special equipment besides a baking pan! Just make sure the pan is tightly covered with a lid to keep the heat constant (brisket loves constant heat).

To make sure your beef brisket will be tender and moist, start by preparing a cooking liquid.

In a small bowl combine 3/4 cup water, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon chili powder, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Next step is to bake the brisket. Place it in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan, then pour the cooking liquid. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 3 hours at 325 degrees F, turning once halfway through. Discard the cooking liquid and serve the sliced brisket with barbecue sauce or turn the cooking liquid into a sauce (read below).

Braised brisket recipes:

Braised Brisket in Apricot and Cranberry Sauce

Tender Braised Brisket

beef brisket

Corned beef and pastrami

Brisket is also the most popular cut for corned beef and pastrami.

Corned beef is a salt-cured beef. The name comes from the large-grained salt used in the process, called “corns” of salt. Most corned beef recipes include nitrates, which give the meat its pink color but also prevent the development of bacteria like botulism. Other commonly added ingredients are spices and sugar.

Corned beef is very popular in Britain and Canada, where the Jewish community in Montreal makes Montreal-style smoked meat, a close relative to pastrami.

The difference between these two methods is that corned beef is cured in brine and then simmered in water, whereas also pastrami involves smoking the beef brisket with a rub of salt before the final cooking.

Corned beef recipes:

Slow Cooker Corned Beef

Corned Beef Cabbage

Corned Beef Hash

Pastrami recipes:

Hot Pastrami Strata

Pastrami Wrapped Hot Dog Recipe

corned beef

On the Stovetop

Of all the brisket cooking methods, this is the most demanding one but we believe it is worth it!

Heat some cooking oil in a large skillet fitted with a lid. Brown the brisket on both sides, then remove from the skillet. Add onions to the skillet and cook until they tender, stirring frequently.

Return the brisket to the skillet. Add a can of tomato sauce, 1 cup beef broth, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, and some chopped fresh herbs. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat. Spoon some of the mixture over the meat and simmer covered for about 3 hours, until tender.

Niman Ranch Brisket Recipe with Fried Eggs and Arugula

brisket rub

International Beef Brisket Recipes

Europe

In Italy, beef brisket is used to make ‘bollito misto’, a classic stew originating in the northern parts of the country.

The British use brisket to prepare what we call a pot roast but they call it stewed beef. The cut is slow-cooked with a gravy in a covered casserole dish and usually served with root vegetables.

Germans like their beef brisket braised in dark beer and cooked with various veggies such as onions, celery, onions, as well as herbs like thyme and bay leaves.

Asia

In Thai cuisine it is used to make the traditional northers dish ‘suea rong hai’, where the cut is seasoned with spices, grilled until rare, and served with sticky rice.

In Vietnam, it is the base of the popular phở soup, along with rice noodles, broth, and herbs, whereas in Hong Kong, brisket is cooked with spices over low heat until tender, and served with noodles in a curry or soup.

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

In Korean cuisine, beef brisket is used to make jang jorim. The meat is first boiled with vegetables at low temperature, then placed in a container filled with marinade made with water, soy sauce, garlic, honey, eggs, and shishito peppers. This salty (and slightly sweet) dish is served on the side and eaten in small portions.

brisket rub

After cooking the Beef Brisket

Quick sauce

If serving the brisket simply drizzled with the braising liquid, first skim the fat with a tablespoon, then pass the liquid alongside the brisket.

However, why settle for the simple solution when you can easily have a lavish one? Turn the braising liquid into a rich sauce by first removing the solid parts (veggies and larger herb leaves) and heat the liquid until thick. At this point you can add some more seasoning, whipping cream or, if you feel naughty, 2 tablespoons of booze like vodka or vermouth. Bring to a boil and remove from heat immediately. Voila, you have a quick and creamy sauce to serve with your meat!

Chopped Brisket with Raspberry Beer Barbecue Sauce

Let the brisket be

Pro cooks will tell you that a day-old brisket is the best! Leaving the meat be overnight will allow the flavors to fully develop and blend together. In addition, the melted fat will solidify, making it easier for you to remove it. Not to mention, chilled brisket is much easier to slice – just place it in a cutting board and use a slicing knife to to move across the grain.

DISCOVER GREAT RECIPES, TIPS & IDEAS!

So, after you’re done cooking, let the meet cool. At this point you can decide to place the meat in the refrigerator together with the liquid to make sure it stays moist or let it cool while still in the liquid, then remove and place in the fridge until the next day. Reserve the liquid in a separate covered container as well. The next day, place the meat and liquid in a dish, cover with a lid and heat at low temperature in the oven.

Storage

To store your leftover cooked brisket, divide it into smaller portions and place in a shallow airtight container. Refrigerate for up to three days or freeze for up to two months.

 

 

I’m in love with food and everything about food! Blogging is my way of celebrating that love and MyGreatRecipes made it all happen. If you, too, are into great food and interesting reads, you will enjoy reading my posts!

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