Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rosemary goat cheese pizza

This was our celebratory Kristen's finally home dinner... and a totally worthwhile reason to break my short-lived vegan streak.
I have made this pizza dough a couple of times, this the first with bread flour. It definitely made a noticeable (positive) difference, but AP works great too.

UPDATE: slightly different and decidedly better pizza dough recipe here! (no KitchenAid necessary)

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
Put the yeast in a cup of warm water and let it sit for a few minutes until it froths up. While that's happening, put half of the flour and all of the salt into a stand mixer (if you have a good food processor, supposedly you can just put everything in it all at once). When the yeast/water is ready add it to the flour with 2 tbsp of oil and combine. With the machine running, slowly add the other 1.5 cups of flour a little bit at a time. Add a little bit more water or a little bit more flour until the dough forms a ball. Knead for a few minutes on a floured surface, until the dough is smooth. Then let sit in a well oiled bowl, covered, for at least an hour. It should double in size.

Cut the dough in two pieces and roll each into a ball on a floured surface. Dust with a little more flour, cover with a towel, and let sit while the over preheats to 500. Right before you are ready to roll out the dough, push it into a small circle and let sit for another minute or two before rolling/stretching into shape.

At this point, you can do pretty much anything. We started with Mark Bittman's simplest white pizza which is just rosemary, olive oil, and salt and pepper (our olive oil seems to have gone rancid or possibly to have turned into olive wine? so I brushed the pizza with a tiny bit of canola oil and then finished it with a few drops of truffle oil when it was done cooking... Haha, a nice problem if you have it). Kris suggested caramelized red onions and goat cheese which were absolutely incredible. If you want to do this too, learn from my mistake and remember that the onions will cook a bit in the oven so maybe only cook them 50% beforehand. Also I think it's probably a good idea to add the goat cheese half way through cooking so it doesn't totally dry out and/or melt.

On the side is steamed asparagus with lemon, salt and pepper, and a little fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano (I try not to be snobby about things unless absolutely necessary, and in this case it is, absolutely. I thought the whole "reggiano" thing was totally stupid until we bought a different kind of parmesan and it was fruity and rubbery and disgusting... never again)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jamie Oliver on food and obesity

Jamie Oliver gives one of the better TED talks I've seen, on the subject of food and obesity. Please don't be put off that he's pretty overtly plugging his TV show -- I think that is kind of the point. I would recommend his show too, by the way... aspects of it certainly have a made-for-TV feel, but it's hard to listen to him talk and have any doubt about his convictions. I've had three people independently talk to me about this in the last week or so, which makes me the slightest bit optimistic that it might actually catch on.
sweating the small stuff
Health food isn't granola and wheatgrass anymore, it's just real, fresh food. And I have watched enough documentaries and read enough books to know that, because of FDA regulation/Monsanto/McDonalds/farm subsidies/name your favority evil corporation/gov't agency, fresh food isn't always accessible and is often a lot more expensive than its processed counterparts. But for now I will chose to be hopeful. Educated people are empowered people; the market and regulation will follow.

While I'm on the subject, I think I am pretty late to the party here, but I also watched No Impact Man last weekend at my friend Dave's recommendation and loved it. The trailer alone made me cry a little (also it's on watch instantly on Netflix)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Channa masala

And so the weekend comes to an end. Today I slept in and rode my bike to the park and laid in the grass and read and bought a blueberry smoothie and marmite and cooked this! It was a good day.

The channa recipe is from Smitten Kitchen (I stole the idea for the first picture from SK too, though I like to imagine that I would've thought of it independently with the spices all assembled. Also, who knew paprika and cayenne looked so different). I was a little bit worried because I only had about 3 cups of chickpeas and for some reason decided not to adjust the seasonings, and about halfway through it seemed like it was maybe going to be crazy over the top spicy, but it worked out pretty perfect. I made another batch of naan too, as I suspect I am doomed to do frequently from here on.

And now, I am going to do what I can to stave off Monday

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring minestrone and fresh baguettes

It's always hard to cook for just one person (Kristen comes home soon!), but after eating frozen veggie meatballs and soy mozzarella sandwiches a few too many days in a row, I finally got myself together this week and went to the grocery store. I've been pretty excited seeing all the asparagus people are cooking right now (eating seasonally is relatively new to me -- it seems like it's been a YEAR since I had it).

I turned to another Heidi Swanson recipe, this one from her glorious book, Super Natural Cooking. This Spring Minestrone was really delicious and perfect for a cool afternoon.

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 diced shallots (I used 1 shallot and half an onion)
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (we like 2 cubes of Rapunzel bouillon cubes)
  • 3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 8 spears asparagus cut into inch long segments
  • 1 cup of sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame, or snow peas

Heat a little bit of olive oil in a saucepan or large pot. Cook the shallots and garlic for a few minutes until they soften. Add the brown rice and let it toast for about a minute. Add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat to a simmer, until the rice is cooked to your liking. Add the asparagus, peas, edamame, and continue simmering for 2-3 minutes until the veggies are just tender. Salt to taste, and top with fresh ground pepper.

A few notes: 3/4 cups makes it pretty heavy on the brown rice, as you can probably see in the picture. I liked it that way, but consider reducing to 1/2 a cup if you want your rice:soup ratio lower. Also go as easy on the oil as possible at the beginning. I found that too much can make the soup a little oily.

I made a couple of quick baguettes following Mark Bittman's recipe (my food processor cannot handle 4 cups of flour though, so I just mix it with a wooden spoon and knead it by hand). They turned out okay, good enough that I wanted to post a picture, not good enough to share any advice on how to make bread. This is another in what is becoming a long series of middling successes

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I don't know what your experience is with Indian food, but for me it seems like naan is always the limiting factor. I had been wanting to try making it for a while, and with the tremendous amount of leftover aloo gobi, today seemed like a perfect opportunity. Given my disastrous history of pancake making, I had some reservations, but this turned out great!
I got the recipe from my best friend's girl (who can be found here). They have definitely established themselves as good people to turn to for advice on vegan cooking.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The one with the cauliflower and potatoes

Cauliflower was one of the few vegetables I would eat as a kid and still one of my absolute favorites. Broccoli gets a lot of press--deservedly so--but of the cabbages nothing soaks up flavors like cauliflower. So unsurprisingly I love aloo gobi, but from looking up recipes online I'm getting the impression that the saucy, tomatoey aloo gobi I love is not quite real aloo gobi... Nevertheless, delicious

I more or less followed this recipe.

  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 peeled and cubed yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 head of cauliflower broken into florets
  • 14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 serrano pepper, diced (I like to take out seeds from half the pepper)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • a clove of garlic
  • tsp of fresh ginger
  • small bunch of chopped cilantro
  • salt

This ends up being a lot of food. If you have a large, deep sauce pan that would be perfect. I used our dutch oven (after first pouring everything from a medium pan into a large pan and then the large pan into the dutch oven). In any case, heat the oil over medium heat for a few minutes and add the onion, cumin, and a pinch of salt. When the onion is translucent, add the chopped pepper, tomatoes, tumeric, garlic, and ginger and mix thoroughly. Then add the potatoes, cauliflower, and a tsp of salt, mix it up so the veggies are coated, and simmer for 20-40 minutes (it was closer to 40 for me). While it's cooking, you can add a little bit of water if it is getting too dry. When the potatoes are done, stir in the cilantro and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Greens, grains, & garbanzo burger

I threw one of everything we had into this one.
You can pretty much substitute anything for anything in this recipe. A lot of times we'll make really simple patties with just 2 cups of lentils, 1/2 cup rolled oats, an onion, an egg, and some spices (Mark Bittman's simplest bean burger recipe). Since there was a lot of stuff left over in the fridge after two weeks of real cooking, I decided to be a little more adventurous.

2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 diced shallot
1 egg
small handful of chopped kale
1 diced carrot
2-3 spoonfuls of adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
salt and pepper
bean cooking liquid or water

Put everything in the food processor and pulse until it is a good consistency, adding a few spoonfuls of water as needed to bring it together. Our food processor is a weakling, so I had to do it in two batches, but that was okay (actually it worked out kind of well because one batch was too pureed and the other was too chunky, so they mixed together nicely). Refrigerate at this point, or form the mixture into small, thin patties and cook in a skillet over medium heat.

Or don't turn on the food processor and just call it vegetable parfait

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kale every day forever

Ok, I promise I am not going to post a picture of every dinner we throw together from leftovers, but this one was particularly great.
My mom was in town for a short visit last weekend and suggested we make fresh pasta again for dinner, partially because it sounded fun and partially to boost my ego I'm sure. She and I made a double batch (2 eggs + 1.5 cups flour) so I had lots for this quick dinner later on in the week. We chopped up 4 leaves of kale and 2 cloves of garlic, cooked them in some olive oil for about a minute and tossed with the cooked fettuccine, a little more olive oil, and a handful of toasted pine nuts.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jicama salad and chipotle white beans

Kristen's creative brilliance is back in charge of the menu this week. As evidenced by:

Jicama, orange, and radish salad. Super easy, light, and fresh. And there is nothing that is more fun than cutting orange supremes. This was a great contrast to:

Heidi Swanson's Chipotle white beans with cilantro pesto. While the chipotle is an inspired addition, to me the bread crumbs made the dish (also don't buy bread crumbs! just put 1 piece of bread in the food processor, sprinkle it with olive oil, salt, and pepper and broil for 1-2 minutes). We used lima beans, which were great.

Man, isn't it weird how some of the best vegetables have been so universally (well universal to the US) cast as foods kids are supposed to hate? I didn't taste a brussels sprout until well into high school and never had a lima bean until, um, Sunday.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Potatoes and spinach

We finished out the week with a super easy recipe from Vegan Dad for sort of an Indian-inspired aloo saag sort of thing. The flavors were good, but I didn't love the soft texture of the potatoes against the vaguely slimy texture of cooked spinach. I think next time I would like to try not peeling the potato and browning it a little before adding water.

And with that we took care of almost every ingredient on the shopping list from last weekend (the broccoli quinoa at the bottom was an alternate -- its avocado ended up in a brown rice burrito and the lemon made its way into a hot toddy).

I am still amazed how much money we saved and more importantly how much better it was not to have to finish work and spend an hour figuring out and procuring dinner every single night. I have to say I'm feeling a little bit inspired

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vegan pad thai

Kyle's menu week, day 4: Asian thing!
Looking for recipes for pad thai, I found a lot of people who said the key to it was fish sauce. And in the interest of full disclosure I do occasionally eat fish, but I don't really like thinking of myself as a pescetarian, as lame as that may be. And I guess that might be the reason I don't like using fish ingredients if I don't have to... I like to think the option to give it up is always available!

The sad fact is that I've probably never had good pad thai anyway (I always thought the key was a ton of oil and gross peanut butter sauce), so even without fish sauce this version from Andrea's easy vegan cooking pretty much knocked my socks off. Everything in it was cheap and almost everything easy to find at Henry's (save tamarind paste).
A couple of tips: cut everything up beforehand and separate it into a few batches (garlic in one, broccoli, carrot, tofu in another, tamari, syrup, red pepper flakes, shallot, and green onions in another). I've never done this before for anything, but it was absolutely necessary here -- once you start cooking it just takes a few minutes for everything to come together. Also the tamarind I found was in a gooey brick in plastic wrap, with pieces of the shell and seeds interspersed. I soaked it in warm water for a few minutes and then worked some of it through a strainer to get a paste like consistency. I would probably not recommend this method if you can avoid it

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lentil loaf

This is going to have a little bit of a learning curve, I can already tell. My goal is to put up pictures of delicious things that I liked eating and not to like impart my encyclopedic cooking knowledge to the world, but I am still a little embarrassed about pulling two recipes from the same blog two days in a row.

In any case, last night's dinner (and today's lunch and probably tonight's dinner too) was this. Since I only had regular lentils and not French lentils (going to have to admit ignorance on this one?) I paid heed to Carolyn's comment at the bottom and cooked them down a little more than I normally would. Everything tasted great, but it really took a day in the fridge for it to congeal into a properly sliceable "loaf". I would say you could substitute for almost anything except the cumin which was absolutely critical, and I don't even love cumin that much.

Since I don't really eat french fries anymore, I so rarely have an excuse to have ketchup... mmmm