Thursday, April 29, 2010

Southern living

alternatively: Bhindi masala is the closest thing I can find to fried okra in southern California.
Inspired by (i.e., jealous of) a friend's saliva inducing mom-cooked food, Kris put together some macaroni and cheese, barbecue beans, and sauteed kale last week. I always hated canned baked beans, but real navy beans and good barbecue sauce were pretty good together (I added some ketchup and molasses too). We are still working on the perfect macaroni and cheese, but I can guarantee with some surety that it will be topped with breadcrumbs.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Asparagus digest (ba-dum)

Here are a couple of really good asparagus dishes we made from the last week or so.

The first was a delicious spinach-asparagus-pesto pasta from Super Natural Cooking that Kristen made. The pureed asparagus gets a little bit lost in the spinach pesto, so we found it nice to have a few pieces of whole blanched asparagus on top, which also made for a pretty nice photo, if I do say so myself.

Next a super simple potato-asparagus frittata based loosely on this Bittman recipe. Mark used the microwave liberally in this recipe which is not something I am used to, but it definitely sped the process up.

Potato-asparagus Frittata
Serves: 3-4

6 medium eggs
2 red potatoes
large bunch of asparagus
1 medium onion
feta cheese (we used goat feta)

Preheat the oven to 400. Microwave (believe it or not) the potatoes for 4 minutes until they are nearly cooked through. When they've cooled, remove as much or as little of the peel as you want and cut into largish cubes. Brown the potatoes in a skillet over medium heat with a little bit of olive oil

Put the asparagus in a dish with a little water and sprinkled with a good amount of salt and pepper. Microwave (again?!) the asparagus for 2 minutes. Chop the asparagus into 2" long pieces and set aside.

When the potatoes are nice and brown, remove them from the pan, and sautee the diced onion (no need to clean the pan) for a few minutes until they start to turn translucent, then add the asparagus and continue to cook it until it's just cooked (a little bit tender). Add the potatoes, onion, and asparagus to a 8" pie dish. If you have a skillet that can go in the oven, transferring to another dish here isn't necessary.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl with a little salt and pepper, and then pour them over the potato and asparagus. Bake for ~15 minutes until a knife comes out clean. Top with a little bit of the feta and enjoy!

One thing I really hate about asparagus is that it seems like about one in three times I buy it, it costs $6 or more for a small bunch. Has everyone had this experience? By and large, I believe we should care more about food, and be willing to pay a little more for better food that isn't round-up ready or chemically ripened. And I am definitely a huge fan of organic foods and buy them whenever possible, but let me say this: if your budget gives you a choice between organic asparagus and conventional potatoes and organic potatoes and conventional asparagus, go for the organic potatoes!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tempeh shepherdess pie

Oh lordy, I'm sorry this is turning into an infomercial for Veganomicon... Possibly disappointed by our decision not to make the yucca shepherd pie on Friday, we decided to make this slightly more traditional version last night.
The filling is crumbled tempeh cooked in tamari with onions, garlic, cremini mushrooms, peas, and corn. You're supposed to add a cup of veggie broth at the end -- I think I would recommend using low sodium, diluting your broth 50%, or even just using water. My usual rapunzel bouillon made it just a little bit too salty.
Topped with mashed potatoes and then baked for 10 minutes. I am pretty sure the ridges in the mashed potatoes are the key to getting lots of crispy bits of mashed potatoes, which I suspect is the key to the whole thing. If I had had a piping bag, I would've done it all Gordon Ramsay style

It is amazing how much this evoked a classic shepherd pie, so so so good. Maybe a little too involved for a week night meal (although not really), but I this is definitely something I would make again for a weekend/special occasion, for omnivores even.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Jack Rose and Old-Fashioned Gin cocktail

Welcome to the first installment of Hardly Thirsty! No? Hmm... Hardly Dehydrated? Hardly Parched? In any case, I've been wanting to do a drinks post since I started and here we are!

First, from Rachel Maddow* comes the Jack Rose:
* whatever your politics (although if you're reading a vegetarian cooking blog, I'd guess the odds are kind of stacked) this woman has never steered me wrong liquor-wise

This drink looks seriously frou-frou but it is a real, classic American cocktail. The little bit of sweet and little bit of sour adds a lot to, without covering up, the apple jack (sort of an old timey whiskey. Calvados works too according to Rachel)

2 oz apple jack (but mom, it doesn't taste like apples!)
1/2 oz grenadine
juice from half a lime

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lime garnish is nice but makes it dangerously indistinguishable from a cosmo.

Second (it was an expensive trip to BevMo), the old-fashioned gin cocktail. Having completely exhausted every other good TV show on Hulu, we watched an episode of Three Sheets about Amsterdam and learned about genever -- Holland (as opposed to London) gin, which sort of  sounds like it is distilled from maltwine before they add the ginny botanicals... As you can imagine it has an interesting taste.

I picked up a bottle of Anchor Distilling's Genevieve which even
had  a cool little warning hanging around the neck of the bottle "Warning: This gin is not for martinis!". Acknowledging first that martinis are made with gin and second that the gin you are buying is special and different is like the equivalent to the girl at Criminal Records telling me that I picked a cool album (Elbow - Asleep in the Back) when I was a kid.

So far I've only tried this old fashioned gin in an old fashioned cocktail (cool because it is basically the same as a rye/bourbon old-fashioned).

2 oz genever
1/2 tsp simple syrup
2 dashes angostura bitters

Shake and pour into a chilled glass. Alternatively, use a sugar cube instead of the simple syrup. Mash it up with the bitters before adding the ice, liquor, and stirring (like a real old-fashioned)

Chilled cantaloupe mint soup

Kristen wouldn't let me call it cantasoupe, but you and I can pretend I did, ok?

This was a little bit of an ode to this great chilled cantaloupe soup we used to get at an Alsatian restaurant in Decatur. It was maybe not quite up to that high standard but it was awfully good

1 cantaloupe, peeled cut into 2" pieces
Zest of 1 lime + juice of half of the lime
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup of Riesling or other sweet wine (pretty optional I think)

Remove the lime peel with a vegetable peeler in strips. Simmer it with the water, sugar, and mint for 5 minutes (make sure the sugar dissolves). Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid. Purée liquid with the cantaloupe in two batches in the blender. Transfer to a bowl, mix in the wine (if desired) and lime juice, and chill for an hour or two.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hummus among other things

We had an extremely late lunch yesterday and so last night threw together one of those appetizer/snack dinners where you accidentally end up with lots and lots of good food.
The search for the perfect hummus is not over, is never over, but this is leagues better than anything I've tried to make previously, adapted from Veganomicon, in which they say the secret to hummus is to use the blender rather than the food processor -- music to my ears since, as I have complained more than once on here, our food processor is weak sauce (actually it is just an attachment on the blender).

2 cups chickpeas cooked well (or 2 15-oz cans)
3 tbsp tahini
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup or more of water
two heavy pinches of salt
juice of half of a lemon
1 large garlic clove crushed

Put half of the chickpeas and half of the olive oil in the blender and puree as much as possible. You will definitely have to stop and stir it by hand a couple of times (i.e. constantly). Add the rest of the oil, chickpeas, water, tahini, lemon, garlic, and salt, and puree until very smooth, clearing down the sides of the blender several times. It really is much better chilled if you can wait 30 minutes (I couldn't). Top with a little paprika and a little drizzle of olive oil.
The hummus tasted quite good but wasn't as olive oil heavy as I am used to, which at the same time makes me appreciate store bought hummus more and less.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Harissa linguine

Another recipe from 101 cookbooks, a delicious and a little bit weird Moroccan/Italian fusion sort of thing.
I'd never had Harissa until K brought some back from her recent trip to Morocco; it's sort of a salty, spicy red pepper sauce... it's very very good (in moderation). We used linguine, kalamata olives, and chard but otherwise followed Heidi's recipe pretty closely, so I'm going to be lazy and not write it out here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

vegan tortas and black bean enchiladas

for some reason i have a vivid memory of this woman saying, gardenburgers -- yeah, that's what i eat for dinner when my husband is out of town. as if the frozen patties are not real food, just something to indulge in when you're all alone and no one's watching. so after kyle left for CO, i bought some vegan gardenburgers, got home and had the terrible realization that i didn't have any buns, or any bread at all. vegan lunchbox (around the world) to the rescue! i made a batch of jennifer's burger buns and used them for burgers, vBLTs, and these yummy tortas.

vegan tortas
  • ripe avocado
  • toasted hamburger buns or fresh bolillo bread
  • medium-hot pepper (or hot sauce)
  • veganaise
  • salt
  • black beans
  • cilantro
assembly is crucial here. spread veganaise on one side, smoosh the avocados on top, and sprinkle with salt. the other side gets mashed-up black beans and chopped serrano pepper. top with cilantro sprigs and the avocado side and enjoy. make two because one is never enough.

the next night i really wasn't in the mood to cook but i needed to fulfill my enchilada craving. so i dragged out the half-used can of black beans and threw together a small but delicious batch of enchiladas.

black bean enchiladas
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2-3 tsp. adobo sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • small bunch of chard or kale
  • half a red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 can green (tomatillo) enchilada sauce
  • crumbly cheese (optional)
  • cilantro
preheat oven to 350 degrees. simmer the beans with adobo, salt, and cumin. meanwhile, saute the chard in olive oil with red onions and garlic. microwave the tortillas in a damp paper towel. then pour half of the enchilada sauce into some kind of baking dish. assemble enchiladas using two small corn tortillas for each enchilada. spread beans and chard mix on tortillas and roll into enchilada. this double-tortilla method produces 6 enchiladas. cover with remaining sauce and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes. after removing from the oven, garnish with onion slices, cilantro, and crumbly cheese.

the cheese i used was a goat feta and it was perfect. we had deliberately stocked up everything BUT meltable cheese, which in retrospect seems like a brilliant decision. it's like replacing milk chocolate with dark chocolate bars that are meant to be savored one small square at a time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Beth's brownies

I'm not going to give much commentary here except to say that these brownies Kristen made from our friend's blog are pretty much the best vegan baked thing ever and awfully good brownies in their own right.
And unlike every other vegan dessert they are not loaded with Earth Balance — they don't even have Earth Balance in them (!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly spray or oil an 8 x 8 baking pan.
  2. Mix applesauce, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (and cinnamon if using) together.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the applesauce mixture. Mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips (and walnuts if using).
  4. Spread in prepared pan and bake 25-30 min, until center is firm and not sticky.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Broccoli-potato soup

Here is our maiden voyage in the Veganomicon which looks like it is going to be a pretty great book.
This soup was super simple, based on brocolli, potatoes, and tarragon, with a little bit of dill and mint added at the end (gave it sort of a Mediterranean kick and discouraged Kristen from covering our vegan soup with parmesan)

I'm not entirely clear on the ethics of reprinting recipes from a cookbook, so here is a link to the Google Books book instead.
After that we watched the new Doctor Who and I cheated at two games of Bananagrams. A good night, all in all.