Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wild Mushroom Risotto-the missing link


Do you believe in symbolism in life, that maybe coincidences are anything but? I myself vacillate, sometimes believing yes, and some times thinking no, kind of like wondering if dreams really mean something.
For instance, I have had the pleasure of seeing a very nice young man recently, and we talk on the phone some nights. Well,yesterday evening, I made this wild mushroom risotto, a wintertime, stick to your ribs staple of mine that is one of my all time favorites. As soon as I was done stuffing myself, I received a phone call from the nice young man, and he had also just finished eating-one of his favorite dishes-that he had stuffed himself with-and guess what it was? Yep, wild mushroom risotto! Now, I can't even begin to say what, if any, significance this fluke may or may not have, what possible correlation or link, but it's genuinely peculiar, right? What could it mean? Something? Nothing? Perhaps risotto has a more profound, far reaching impact on the universe than we realize...or maybe it's just damn tasty! (I wonder whose was tastier, mine or the restaurant's? I'll have to ask him.)

RECIPE:
Wild Mushroom Risotto
  • 1/3 cup of dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 oz oyster mushrooms, wiped and sliced
  • 4 oz shitake mushrooms, wiped and sliced (stems discarded)
  • 4 oz cremini mushrooms, wiped and sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2, plus 1, tbsp butter
  • 2 leeks, throughly washed and sliced, white and tender green parts only
  • 1 clove garlic, minced finely
  • 1 3/4 c arborio rice
  • 4 c vegetable stock
  • 1/2 c parmesan cheese
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • soak the dried mushrooms in 1 c very hot water for 45 minutes, drain, chop and reserve the soaking liquid
  • combine the broth, wine (if using), and the reserved soaking liquid in a small saucepan and place over medium low heat
  • melt the oil and 2 tbsp butter with 1/4 c of the stock in a large pot over medium heat, add the leeks and garlic, and cook till tender, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • raise heat to medium high, and add all the mushrooms, cook until mushrooms begin to release their juices, stirring, about 8 minutes
  • add the rice and stir to coat in the oils and until the rice just starts to become transparent on the edges, about 3 minutes
  • using a ladle, ladle the warm veg stock mixture1/2c-3/4c at a time, stirring into the rice constantly until the liquid is reserved-keep repeating ladleful by ladleful, stirring constantly, until the rice is al dente, which means that it is done, but not mushy-this will take some time and constant stirring, up to 30 minutes-you kind of just have to keep testing the rice-if you run out of stock, substitute warm water
  • remove from heat, stir in the parsley, lemon zest, 1 tbsp butter, and Parmesan and season with black pepper and salt as needed
  • Serve HOT with extra black pepper and Parmesan to taste

Monday, December 17, 2007

Black Bean Burritos


That's a picture of my my black bean burritos on my brand new 30 year old stove. Yes, that's right, my 30 year old brand new stove! I got it out of an elderly couples' garage for 20 bucks, and guess what? It was still in the box, with installation instructions dated 1976, the year I was born! How cool is that? It was a little dusty, and heavy!, but all I did was drag it in, wash it down, connect it to the gas, and bingo bango-my brand new 30 year old stove. Made in the USA. and built to last. I also scored some cool rocking chairs (only 5 bucks each!) for my front porch that I painted a deep burgundy to match an tiled wrought iron table from a yard sale. Astonishing what you can get for practically nothing, the pescetarian is quite pleased with herself!

Anyway, I'm always looking for ways to get legumes into my diet, esp. black beans because they are chock full of fiber, protein, and antioxidants and are a very good source of iron. These burritos really pack them in there and are tasty and filling, not to mention (in keeping with my bargain deals) extremely economical!

VARIATION - These can easily be made vegan by omitting the cheese.

RECIPE:
Black Bean Burritos
  • 1 16 oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 c vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (more or less depending on spiciness preference)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 rounded tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 8 small flour tortillas
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese or crumbled queso fresco
  • preheat oven to 350
  • heat the oil and 1/4 cup of the broth in a large pot over medium heat, add the salt, onion, garlic, and jalapeño and cook until soft (about 5-10 minutes)
  • add the carrot, bell pepper, the remaining broth, the beans, and the coriander and cumin and simmer for another 10 minutes, using the back of a wooden spoon to smash up some of the beans to make a consistency similar to refried beans
  • remove from heat and stir in the cilantro
  • put 2 heaping tbsp of bean mixture into the center of each tortilla and sprinkle with desired amount of cheese
  • roll up and line up the burritos in a 13x9 inch baking pan (you may want to use toothpicks to keep the burritos closed)
  • bake, uncovered, 15 minutes until cheese melts and the tortillas lightly toast
  • eat plain or with some store bought salsa on top
Note: Wrapped tightly in foil, these freeze very well. For a super quick meal, bake the frozen foil pack for 20 minutes at 350, unwrap and bake another 5-10 minutes. EASY!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

I just adore soup. In the winter, I usually make a big pot of it and distribute it to friends and neighbors cuz everyone can use a little warm up from time to time.


RECIPE:
Cream of Cauliflower Soup
  • One Large head of Cauliflower, rinsed and chopped into medium flowerets
  • one small onion, chopped
  • one clove garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • salt to taste (about 1-1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt)
  • 1 quart of vegetable broth (I like Imagine's No chicken Broth) plus water to cover
  • 1/4 c cooking wine or dry white wine (optional)
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/43 c half and half or half
  • snipped chives and nutmeg to garnish
VARIATIONS:
  • Low fat- decrease butter to 1 tbsp and substitute 1/3 c evaporated skim milk for the half and half
  • Vegan-substitute either margarine, soy butter, or olive oil for the butter and 1/3 c of plain soy or rice milk for the half and half
  • melt the butter in a large soup pot, over medium heat and add 1/3 c of broth, bring to simmer
  • add onions, garlic and salt and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes
  • add the rest of the broth, wine (if using), cauliflower, using water to make sure cauliflower is just barely covered
  • simmer, uncovered, until cauliflower is very tender, about 30 minutes
  • remove from heat
  • if using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth in the pot, alternatively, use a traditional blender, pureeing one batch at a time and transferring to a new soup pot
  • when all the soup is pureed stir in the half and half and white pepper, test for seasoning adding more salt or pepper to taste
  • return to heat to heat through making sure not to boil or simmer
  • to serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls, top with some snipped chives and a pinch of nutmeg

Monday, December 10, 2007

Kosher Salt, Olive Oil, & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

It's amazing what one can do with three culinary staples- kosher salt, olive oil, and fresh ground black pepper. Finding myself suddenly alone in this production called parenthood, I've been having to make super quick meals these days. Most of my time is devoted to running after, and cleaning up after, my two year old son. (Actually, I've started to wonder if someone replaced my sweet, compliant baby with a look alike tasmanian devil- it's more than likely). Last night, exhausted, hungry, cranky, it's 7:30, hadn't eaten since noon, I whipped up this dinner and treated myself to an actual meal, get this, SITTING DOWN! Well, half of it anyway, until the lil' scupper took off his pull up potty training pants, and well, trust me, you'd rather not know what, esp since this post is about food;-) Nuff said.


RECIPES:
Broiled Salmon Fillet with Dad's Garlicky Sauteed Spinach and Parmesan Cous Cous
(the following make one serving)

Easy Broiled Salmon Fillet
  • 4-6 ounce salmon fillet
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • place broiler on high
  • rub the top of the fillet with the olive oil
  • sprinkle generously with the salt
  • place the fillet, skin side down, on a broiler pan or baking sheet and place 4 inches under the broiler
  • broil the fish until just almost opaque in the center for medium well, about 8-10 minutes - less or more according to personal preference for doneness
  • top with some freshly ground black pepper
Dad's Garlicky Sauteed Spinach
  • 4 ounces (or half a bag) spinach, rinsed
  • 1 glove of garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • squeeze of lemon
  • bring a medium pot to boil
  • add the spinach and blanch till wilted, 1 minute
  • remove and drain, rinse with cold water
  • squeeze out excess moisture from spinach, handful by handful
  • heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, add the spinach, and sautee till hot
  • sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and add a squeeze of lemon
Parmesan Cous Cous
  • 1/3 c cous cous
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • a pinch kosher salt
  • a bit of freshly ground black pepper
  • a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan
  • a sprinkle of dried parsley
  • bring the water and oil to boil in a small saucepan
  • remove from heat, stir in the rest of the ingredients, cover for 5 minutes, and fluf with a fork before serving.
This took about 15 minutes, was easy, and surprisingly deliciously satisfying.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

No Chk'n Salad Wraps


You want more tempeh, you know you do. How about using it in a as a high protien, low fat alternative to chicken salad? You add the benefits of soy to your diet and get to freak out your friends with moldy, cultured soy cakes! If I haven't already convinced you in my previous tempeh posting to try this fantastic vegan protein source, don't be afraid to do so now-tempeh-it's a good thing.

I've been making this filling for so long that I can't credit the source-maybe the back of the tempeh wrapper, Vegetarian Times, a Moosewood cookbook? If anyone knows, feel free to comment!

RECIPE:
No Chk'n Salad Wraps
  • 1 8 oz package of tempeh, cubed (I like Lightlife's Organic Garden Veggie Tempeh for this one)
  • soy sauce
  • 1/4 of a red onion, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/4 of a bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • about 1/4 c of plain yogurt or sour cream
  • a little less than 1/4 c mayonnaise
  • a scant tbsp dijon mustard
  • fresh ground black pepper
NOTE: this could be made vegan if 1/2 c of vegan mayonnaise is substituted for the yogurt and regular mayo. I've made it that way for vegan friends and it was very good.

  • steam the tempeh either in a microwave steamer and steam in the microwave for 10 minutes or in a steamer basket on the stove for 20 minutes
  • in a medium sized bowl, toss the tempeh in enough soy sauce to generously coat it and let it cool slightly
  • add the veggies and parsley to the tempeh
  • mix the mayo, yogurt, and mustard together in a small bowl, pour over the tempeh mixture, add a little fresh ground pepper, and mix well
  • now do what you'd do with a no chk'n salad- make a wrap, a sammy, put it over greens, or even eat it solo-it's up to you!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Curried Vegetable Omelet



Being that I've had a bunch of stuff going on, I haven't been much up to making elaborate meals or complicated dishes. Thank goodness for omelets; they make a quick and easy meal pretty much any time of day. This one comes from a recipe out of The Big Book of Vegetarian by Kathy Farrell Kingsley, a cookbook I definitely recommend to any veggies that enjoy cooking. It has many satisfying, delicious, and nutritious dishes in it, I use it all the time. I also recently got From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson (being that it's getting pretty chilly up here in the north east), so look for some posts containing recipes from that one soon.

RECIPE
Curried Vegetable Omelet

Filling:
  • 1 c small broccoli florets
  • 1/2 c thinly sliced, peeled carrots (I just shred mine on my cheese grater)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (I chop mine finely)
  • 1/4 c chopped red bell pepper (this makes it pretty)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic. minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest (I've never used this in the omelet)
Omelet:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • In a medium saucepan of boiling water, cook the carrots and broccoli until crisp tender, about five minutes, drain well.
  • In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and the olive oil. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the curry powder, cumin, garlic, salt, lemon zest and cooked veggies.
  • Set aside
  • In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the water, salt and pepper. Heat an 8-10 inch non stick omelet pan or skillet over high heat. Melt the butter in the pan, and pour in the eggs.
  • Swirl the pan by the handle to distribute the eggs evenly over the surface.
  • Cook without stirring until the bottom and edges start to set, about 10 seconds.
  • As the bottom begins to set, lift the cooked portion of the omelet with a thin spatula to let the uncooked egg mixture flow under it. Repeat until most of the omelet is set but the center is still moist and creamy.
  • Spoon the filling down the center of the omelet.
  • Fold the omelet over the filling in thirds and serve.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Easy Peezy Cheese Tortellini Soup

This is a quick 'semi homemade' recipe I concocted with a certain friend and co-worker in mind. She's a busy mom taking care of two elementary school aged kids, who works part time, AND goes to school full time! On top of that, she's always there for her friends and family, is active in her church, community, and school sports and is just a really terrific person all around. So Lisa, this one's for you, and it only takes 15 minutes!

RECIPE:
Vegetarian Cheese Tortellini Soup
serves4
  • 4 c vegetable stock (I like Imagine's no chicken broth) plus 1 c water and 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 9 oz package of fresh cheese tortellini (found in the dairy section of most supermarkets)
  • 1 handful of pre-cut carrot matchsticks
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • a sprinkling of pre-shredded parmesan cheese and fresh ground black pepper
  • bring the stock, water, and salt to a boil in a large pot, add the carrot, then add the tortellini and cook according to package directions until tender (about eight minutes)
  • meanwhile, put 1/2 a handful each of the chopped baby spinach leaves into the bottom of 4 bowls
  • top the spinach in the bowls evenly with the hot broth and tortellini, sprinkle each with the cheese and freshly ground black pepper
PS - I brought this soup in for Kelly and she really liked it - it's kind of like an Italian style vegetarian won-ton soup, without the msg.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Just When You Think You Know Someone

Sorry I've been absent...I'll be back as soon as the dust settles. Advice - don't date guys in bands.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oh, Simple Things


Broiling halibut with olive oil gives it such a nice, golden crust, and is so much less messy than searing it. Add a little bit of fresh thyme on top, some lemon rounds, a vegan rice pilaf and there you have it...dinner!

RECIPES:

Vegan Rice Pilaf
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 c long grain white rice
  • 1 3/4 c vegetable stock (I love Imagine's No Chicken Vegetable Stock)
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 rib of celery, finely diced
  • 1/3 c toasted slivered almonds
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh, flat leaf parsley
  • in a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low
  • add the onion along with 1 1/2 tsp salt, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes
  • add the celery and carrot, raise heat to medium high, and cook another 4 minutes, stirring often
  • add the rice and stir to coat it with the oil
  • add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil
  • reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes
  • remove from heat and allow rice to sit, covered, for five minutes
  • remove lid, add the parsley, almonds, and some fresh ground black pepper, and fluff well with a fork until well combined


Halibut Broiled in Olive Oil with Lemon and Thyme
  • 1 lb halibut fillet, wash and patted dry
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • one lemon, thinly sliced into rounds
  • salt and pepper
  • preheat broiler
  • place halibut on a baking sheet, skin side down and brush top and sides of the fillet generously with olive oil
  • rub top and sides of the fillet with salt and pepper
  • place 4 inches under broiler
  • broil for 5 minutes and then brush top of filet with more olive oil and sprinkle the top with more salt
  • return to broiler and repeat above steps after 5 more minuites
  • broil another 5 minutes and the fish should be done, just check to make sure the center is opaque, if not broil a few minutes longer
  • remove from broiler, carefully flip the fillet skin side up with a spatula, and remove the skin (discard)
  • lip the fillet crust side up, sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and serve with lemon rounds for squeezing

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tofurkey!

Tofurkey- quintessential vegetarian fodder and fare

Since I almost always have my 2-year old with me when I go to the market, I usually have to adjust my vision into eagle's eye mode in order to zoom in on only the items on my list, swoop down on them with amazing speed, and toss them from talons to cart as quickly as possible. However, channeling my inner totem doesn't exactly allow for much browsing action, so every now and then, I purposefully decide to go solo and have a little fun. Being alone without the usual grocery games (i.e. standing up in the cart, knocking over spice displays, and screaming at the top of the lungs for a balloon) allows me time to thoughtfully and thoroughly peruse all of the various vegetarian products. It also affords me the opportunity to discover new culinary treats to write about here for you!


RECIPE:
Sun-dried Tomato Italian Veggie Sausages with Peppers and Onions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 package of Tofurkey Sun-dried Tomato Italian Sausages
  • 1/2 each - red, orange, yellow, and green bell peppers cut into strips
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (I love Amore tomato paste imported from Italy because it comes in a squeezy, aluminum tube and can be stored 'indefinitely' in the refrigerator)
  • 1/2 c water
  • salt and pepper
  • heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat
  • add the onions and cook 2 or 3 minutes, then add the garlic, cook another minute, add the water, tomato paste, and 2 tsp salt and stir until combined
  • add the peppers and sausage, and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook another 30 minutes or until the onions and peppers are melt in your mouth soft
  • season with the oregano and salt and pepper
The sausages and peppers could easily be served on a nice Portuguese style roll. I choose to serve it with one of the packaged foods I wanted to try, Alexia Olive Oil and Sea Salt Oven Fries (pictured below -reviews follow.)

REVIEWS:

YUMMY! The Tofurkey Sun-dried Tomato Italian Sausages are SO GOOD. I bet they'd even be good on the grill. The texture was a little denser than meat sausages, but less greasy and so deliciously tasty and filling. The sun dried tomato and basil really made the flavor pop, and accompanied by the peppers, oregano, and onion, I felt like I was eating at a Brooklyn Italian Festival. I will definitely make these this way again, but I will serve them on lightly toasted and buttered Portuguese style rolls, seriously...just like Nonna used to make! (well, my Italian friend's grandma anyway.)
Grade - A (would be A+ if the texture was a little less compact)

As for the Alexia Olive Oil and Sea Salt Oven Fries, well, I wish I could be as enthusiastic. They were decent, but just not, well, scrumptious. They needed more salt and were rather dry. Maybe I'll try tossing the other half of the bag with some more olive oil, salt, and rosemary before cooking them. Grade - C (nice try, but seriously lacking)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Oven Roasted Tomato & Braised Leek Puff Pastry Tart with Goat Cheese


A nice neighbor of mine gave me a nice big basket of nice grape tomatoes and I really wanted to put them to good use. I started thumbing through some recipes that I'd cut out over the years and had, uhh, 'filed' in my buffet table and came across one that I believe was originally published in an issue of Food and Wine. My rendition turned out quite a bit different but absolutely delicious. (note there's only half of one in the photograph;-) Yeah, it was that good.

RECIPE:
Oven Roasted Tomato and Braised Leek Puff Pastry Tart with Goat Cheese
  • One sheet of frozen, commercial puff pastry (like Pepperidge Farm), thawed
  • About 1 c of grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, white and tender green parts only, rinsed very well and sliced lengthwise
  • 1/4 c of vegetable stock, water or white wine (braising liquid)
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 oz (one small log) of goat cheese, crumbled
  • chopped fresh basil, about 2 or 3 tbsp, to garnish
For the tomatoes
  • preheat oven to 400
  • place the sliced tomatoes, cut side down, on a baking sheet
  • sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • roast tomatoes for about 15 minutes, or until starting to caramelize slightly
  • remove from oven and let cool
For the leeks
  • raise the oven temp to 425
  • slice the leeks into semi circles and toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper
  • arrange evenly on a baking sheet
  • roast for 20 minutes, tossing once
  • add the braising liquid and roast another ten minutes , or until very tender (if leeks are not tender, a bit more liquid can be added at this point, just roast a little longer until tender)
  • remove from oven and let cool
For the pastry
  • on a lightly floured surface, gently roll out the puff pastry (the dough should be thawed but kept cold in the refrigerator until ready to use)
  • invert a 12 in plate on top of dough and cut around it to make a 12 in circle of dough
  • return dough to refrigerator on some waxed paper until ready to bake
To assemble the tart
  • reduce oven temp to 400 and remove the pastry from the refrigerator
  • spread the leeks evenly over the tart, leaving a 1 in edge all around
  • sprinkle the cheese and tomatoes evenly over the leeks
  • bake for about 25-30 min until the crust, tomatoes, and cheese is just starting to brown
  • remove from oven and sprinkle with the chopped basil and some freshly ground black pepper
  • allow to cool slightly, cut into wedges and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Drama Club's Promo Video

Sweetie's online now too! Click here to check out the band's new promo video for their single Brand New Day on their my space page or click here to see the video on you tube

Monday, September 3, 2007

Tofu Walnut Burgers

I've been making these little burgers for years now, and they are a deeeee-licious way to get protien and omega 3's into a pescetarian, vegetarian, or vegan diet. I got the recipe from an article in Vegetarian Times that covered the famous pescetarian restaurant, Moosewood, in Ithaca, NY. I literally cut and pasted the recipe from the VT website. (if you click on the recipe title below, it will link you there and you can search through hundreds of great recipes for free, it's great!)

the burgers before being cooked

RECIPES:
Tofu Walnut Burgers
serves 8
  • 2 cakes firm tofu (16 oz. each)
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 1 cup peeled and grated carrots
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbs. tahini
  • 2 Tbs. light miso
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard, optional
  • Preheat oven to 400F. Generously oil baking sheet.
  • Sandwich tofu between two plates, and rest heavy weight on top plate. Press for about 15 minutes. Drain off liquid from bottom plate.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet, and sauté onions, carrots, peppers, oregano, basil and dill for about 7 minutes, or until vegetables are just tender. Crumble pressed tofu into large bowl. Stir in walnuts, bread crumbs, tahini, miso, soy sauce and mustard, if using. Add sautéed vegetables, and mix well. Using about 3/4 cup burger mix per burger, form 8 patties by hand, and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, or until burgers are firm and browned. Serve hot.
They suggest serving it on toasted while wheat with lettuce, tomato, and Russian dressing, but as Russian dressing completely grosses me out, I substitute a tahini dressing I love and serve it in a whole wheat pita.

Tahini Dressing
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 c tahini
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c water
  • 3 tbsp fresh, chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • put all ingredients except the parsley in a food processor or magic bullet and pulse until smooth and creamy
  • fold in the parsley
This dressing is also good on roasted or steamed vegetables or salads as an accompaniment to any middle eastern or mediterranean flavored meals. It also rocks a falafel sandwich as well.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Pennsylvania Sweet Corn



I just love summer...the light of the evenings, swimming at the community pool, picking blueberries at a local orchard, eating watermelon on the stoop of the front porch, and, of course, buying fresh Pennsylvania sweet corn from the side of the road. I've been a little down with thoughts of Labor Day approaching, schools starting, and pools closing, so I decided to cheer myself up and relish the last days of the season with one of my favorites- Corn Chowder made from locally grown corn. Like with most of the soups I make, I used an alternative to cream to give the soup texture by simmering the shucked, de-kerneled cobs in milk and pureeing half of the soup in my magic bullet at the end. It helps keep the waistline in check for next year's bathing suit, but is still hearty, satisfying and packed to the brim with flavors of summer, yum!

RECIPE:
Corn Chowder

  • 3 cobs of corn, shucked and de-kerneled
  • the corn kernels from the cobs
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 c vegetable stock
  • one small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into a small dice
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into a small dice
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into a small dice
  • 2 c milk
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • melt the butter in a medium pot and add the stock, onions and celery
  • bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes
  • add the milk, the carrots, the potatoes, and cobs, bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, 10 minutes
  • remove the cobs and add the corn and continue to simmer, uncovered, until kernels are tender
  • remove about 3/4 c of the vegetables from the soup with a ladle or slotted spoon and puree in a blender, food processor, or magic bullet, and return to the soup
  • add the salt and pepper and parsley and stir well to heat through
as a note, my 2 year old LOVED this soup, which is amazing as he's been insisting on eating tofu pups, watermelon, and macaroni and cheese for, oh, the past month!!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Colorful Cous Cous Salad

This is a quick and healthy dish I whipped up a while ago and have been making ever since. I actually measured how much I was putting in rather than a pinch here and a pinch there so that I could post it here for you. This salad is good served warm, at room temp, or even cold, and can be served as a light lunch or as a side dish with some grilled seafood or baked, marinated tofu kabobs (hmm, we just had tofu, but maybe next week...)


Recipe:
Colorful Cous Cous Salad

  • 2 c cous cous
  • 3 c water
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 c coarsely chopped baby spinach
  • 1/3 c chopped scallions
  • 1/3 c quartered grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • one carrot, peeled, and grated
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or a mix of half parsley/half mint for a little extra kick)
  • the juice of one lemon plus 1tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 c feta cheese crumbles (more can be used if serving as a main dish)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • in a large pot, combine the salt, water and olive oil and bring to a boil
  • stir in cous cous an let boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, remove from heat, spread spinach over the top, and cover, letting it stand for 8 minutes
  • remove the lid and, using a rubber spatula, fluff the cous cous, combining with the spinach
  • add the rest of the vegetables, the lemon juice and zest, the feta cheese, the fresh ground pepper and combine well
  • NOW EAT!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It's a Good Thing

I always have a protest from first time tempeh eaters, especially if they see it in the package before I fry it up. Sure, it's bumpy and moldy and foreign, but it's darn tasty and such a fantastic source of soy protein and isoflavones, essential amino acids, and beneficial digestive enzymes, that I really must assure you - it's a friend, and a keeper at that. For those who have yet to sample the humble yet noble food, try this preparation; it really jazzes it up and comes from the marinade my dad uses for his famous grilled steaks. The veggies I just whipped up with the dribs and drabs in my produce drawer, and I just did the good old microwave routine on the rice.
Be brave! It really IS good.

RECIPE:
Three Grain Crispy Tempeh Bites with Stir Fried Sesame Vegetables and Steamed White Rice

For the Tempeh:
  • 1 package of three grain tempeh
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • vegetable oil for pan frying
  • whisk the ingredients from the soy sauce through the sugar in a bowl
  • cut the tempeh lengthwise and then cut across the tempeh to make 2 inch pieces
  • place the cubed up tempeh onto a deep plate and pour the marinade over evenly
  • marinate for 2-3 hours in the fridge, turning once if possible
  • when time to cook, heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a medium skillet over high heat till sizzling
  • add the marinated tempeh pieces quickly, fry for 3 minutes, turn with a fork, and fry another 3 minutes until crispy
  • remove from the oil and let drain on a stack of paper towels

For the Stir Fried Sesame Vegetables:
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 crown of broccoli cut into flowerets
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 rib celery, cut diagonally
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut diagonally
  • 1/4 of a red bell pepper cut into thin strips
  • a splash of vegetable oil
  • a couple of shakes of soy sauce
  • splash of rice vinegar
  • a few sprinkles of toasted sesame seeds
  • bring water to boil in a small sauce pan
  • add the broccoli and carrots and boil for 1 minute, drain, and run under cold water
  • heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over high heat, add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds
  • add the celery and stir fry for about 1 minute, add the bell pepper and stir fry for about 30 seconds, add the broccoli, carrots, scallions, soy sauce and rice vinegar
  • stir fry for about 1 more minute
  • put into a serving dish and sprinkle with the sesame seeds

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Quickie

This is a fast, healthy go to meal that can be served for brunch, lunch, or a light supper for two. It can easily be doubled or tripled to serve more, however, a larger skillet would be needed.


RECIPE:
Vegetable Frittata with Red New Potato Rosemary Home Fries

For the frittata
  • 1/2 an onion, finely diced
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp butter plus1 tsp olive oil
  • 8 spears of asparagus lightly steamed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 5 large white mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 1/4 of a red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/8 c parmesan cheese
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • preheat the broiler
  • melt the olive oil and butter over medium heat in a small, oven safe skillet
  • add the onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring, until tender (about 5-8 minutes)
  • add the garlic and bell pepper and cook, stirring, 2-3 more minutes
  • add the asparagus and shake the pan to evenly distribute the vegetables
  • sprinkle the parmesan onto veggies and season with salt and pepper
  • pour the eggs over the veggies and cheese and let set
  • lift the edges of the frittata carefully allowing the uncooked egg to flow under neath
  • when the frittata is pretty much set except for the top, place it under the broiler for about 3 minutes or until fully cooked (keep a close watch, it can easily be overdone)
  • invert the skillet onto a large plate
  • slice the frittata into wedges and serve with a little sprinkle of parmesan on top
For the potatoes:
  • scrub 10-12 red new potatoes and either halve or quarter depending on their size
  • heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat
  • add the potatoes, toss them to coat in the oil, and season generously with salt and pepper
  • reduce heat to medium low and cover, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 20-25 minutes)
  • sprinkle with a 1/4 tsp of crushed rosemary and serve

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Experimenting

I used to love grilled chicken on salad, and of course everyone already knows about the torch I carry for my old flame, bacon. So when I came across the new display case of Morning Star Farm's products at my local grocery, it hit me...A VEGETARIAN COBB SALAD! Of course being that I was at the local Shurfine Market and not my beloved Wegman's, there was no gourmet lettuces to be found let alone watercress or chives. Yet my creativity and curiosity had been piqued, and being that there were some lovely firm, ripe, hass avocados, I decided that a romaine heart and a red onion would have to suffice. Yay! An absolutely "ishus" (bambino's pronunciation of delicious:-) Cobb Salad AND a product review just for you!

RECIPE:
Vegetarian Cobb Salad for Two
  • one romaine heart, washed, dried and chopped
  • one hard boiled egg, chopped
  • 1/2 c blue cheese crumbles
  • 8 strips Morning Star Farms Chik n' Strips
  • 4 strips Morning Star Farms Veggie Bacon Strips
  • half of a hass avocado, diced
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved and quartered
  • 1/8 of a small red onion, finely diced
  • cobb salad dressing (recipe below)
  • brown the chik n' strips in some vegetable oil over medium heat (about three minutes)and remove from skillet to a small bowl
  • brown the veggie bacon strips in some vegetable oil over medium heat (1 minute each side), remove from skillet, drain and cool on a paper towel, and crumble
  • to plate the salad, evenly arrange lettuce on two large plates and top each with half of the chik n' strips, half of the crumbled veggie bacon strips, half of the egg and cheese, and half of the veggies
  • drizzle each plate with the dressing and serve immediately

Dressing
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1/8 c water
  • 1/8 c red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • quick squeeze of a lemon
  • 1 heaping tsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 small handful of fresh parsley
  • Mix all ingredients in a food processor, blender, or magic bullet (alternatively, finely mince garlic and parsley and mix altogether in a dressing container or other covered container)
REVIEW:
I tried both of the products after I browned them, and I have to say I was pretty impressed. The chik'n strips had a very meaty texture to them and were seasoned really nicely. The veggie bacon strips were not so convincing texture wise, but were very tasty. I think they'd be really good on an egg and cheese toasted english muffin (there's an idea). All in all, I'd recommend these products and they were just great on this salad.

Monday, August 13, 2007

In the Middle of August!?

Sometimes men make the strangest requests. Like baked stuffed shells in the middle of August. Whatever. We have had the air conditioning on full blast, so I figured I might as well. This concoction is basically my mother's most requested lasagna that I adapted into a recipe for spinach stuffed shells. This is definitely a very homey, comfort casserole. It makes a TON, and is great for a casual crowd (esp. a crowd of omnivores, pescetarians, and vegetarians...they'll never miss the meat!). It also freezes beautifully. To freeze, place cooled shells in foil three at a time. When it's time for a no hassle meal, simply pop a packet into a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, make a quick tossed salad and presto! - dinner. Better than Lean Cuisine as far as I'm concerned.
this is dedicated to my vibrantly beautiful and fabulous mother


RECIPE:
Spinach Stuffed Shells
  • 24 pieces jumbo shell pasta
  • 32 oz container of part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz package of shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 16 oz bad of thawed frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese plus 1/8
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1tbsp oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of toasted pine nuts
  • one large jars of a favorite marinara or a batch of my favorite 'home-made'
  • (recipe below)
  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • bring a large pot of salted water to boil and boil shells for about 8 minutes, they should be slightly underdone as they will continue to cook in the oven
  • meanwhile, squeeze the spinach handful by handful over the sink to remove water
  • mix together the cheeses reserving about 1/2 c of the mozzarella and the 1/8 c parmesan and then add the eggs, spinach, garlic powder, salt, pepper and mix until well combined
  • drain the shells and rinse with cold water until they're cool enough to comfortably handle
  • fill the bottom of and 9 by 13 inch baking dish with about 1 1/2 inches of the tomato sauce
  • fill each shell with filling until heaping and place shells into the baking dish with 6 shells across and 4 shells down
  • gently and evenly pour the remaining sauce over the shells
  • evenly sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top
  • cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, remove foil, and bake another 10 minutes or until lightly golden and bubbly - oh and it should weigh about 50 pounds, so be careful
  • remove from oven and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts and some fresh, minced parsley on top
  • let sit about 10 minutes and serve with a big, crunchy tossed salad and crusty bread (inviting friends over is a good idea too)
Recipe:
My Favorite Tomato Marinara Sauce
  • 2 32 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp of dried, crushed thyme leaves
  • 1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • heat the oil over medium low heat and add the garlic, cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant
  • add the rest of the ingredients, cover, raise heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 10 more minutes
This sauce is great for pasta dishes and also as a dipping sauce for batter fried calamari or mozzarella sicks (recipes to come!)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

New Single - Check it out!

click the logo to go to the band's homepage with some older songs


Check out sweetie's new single, November, on his band's myspace http://www.myspace.com/thedramaclub
(just give the audio a few seconds to load)

It Rocks!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Inside Out Grilled Cheese with Veggies


This is a really yummy sandwich. So scrumptious in fact that there's only half of one in the photo; I just had to dig right in. Sweetie was having rehearsal here, so I made several, and they vanished pretty quickly, like in five minutes! I made sure to use really fresh, artisan style sourdough French boule, but any dense bread with a really crusty crust would work fine.

RECIPE:
Parmesan Encrusted Vegetarian Sandwiches
(adapted from a Food and Wine recipe)
  • 6 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thick slices of really fresh, artisan style sourdough French boule
  • 1 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tbsp good dijon mustard
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 thin red onion slices
  • 2 cups alfalfa sprouts

  • blend the butter with the parmesan cheese in a bowl and season with salt and pepper
  • spread 1 side of each bread slice with the parmesan butter mixture, keeping sure to know which pieces go together
  • blend the mayonnaise with the mustard in a small bowl
  • put the cherry tomatoes in a food processor, blender or, hehe, magic bullet and pulse till slightly pureed
  • cut the avocados in half, remove the pit either with a spoon or by hitting the pit with the blade of a sharp knife and then twisting to "pop" the pit out
  • thinly slice the avocados, put them on a plate, and sprinkle them with the lime juice
  • heat a large skillet over medium heat
  • put 2 slices of the buttered bread, buttered side down, in the skillet set over moderate heat and cook until the bottoms are crisp and rather browned, being careful not to burn
  • remove the toasted bread from the pan and repeat with the remaining bread
  • place 4 of the toasted slices browned side down on a piece of waxed paper or foil
  • layer1/4 of the tomato puree, 1/4 of the avocado slices, one of the onion slices, and 1/2 c of the alfalfa sprouts
  • spread 1/2 tbsp of the dijon mayo onto the untoasted side of the remaining slices, place on top of the alfalfa sprouts, dijon mayo side down, and cut in half, and say abracadabra because they disappear before the eyes

Monday, August 6, 2007

Sun-dried Tomato Pasta Salad

This is another quick and easy summer pasta dish using fresh basil. It is great as a bring along dish to summer parties or picnics, and leftovers keep well in the fridge for several days. What's better than that when it's a zillion degrees out?

RECIPE:
  • 1 lb fusilli pasta (spirals)
  • 16 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
  • 1 c shredded parmesan cheese
  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 c fresh basil leaves chiffonade http://frenchfood.about.com/od/frenchcuisinebasics/ss/chiffonade.htm
  • 1/2 c oil packed, sun-dried tomatoes rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (to suit personal taste, i just really like garlic!)
  • 2 tsp capers (drained)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to directions.
  • meanwhile place all the ingredients from the sun-dried tomatoes to the capers in a food processor, blender, or magic bullet and pulse until combined into a sauce. set aside.
  • drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 c of the pasta water (allow it to cool). rinse the pasta under cool water to about room temperature.
  • either in a large bowl or the pot used to cook the pasta (i'm all for doing less dishes!) combine the pasta, cheeses, tomatoes, basil, pasta water and sauce. season with salt and fresh ground pepper and mix well.
A yummy, quick, summertime meal that makes a ton without even hardly cooking - you gotta love it, I do!



Thursday, August 2, 2007

Spanakopita



I used to live in the Astoria section of Queens in NYC which is densely populated with many generations of Greek Americans and their gastronomical delights. Let me just say...that is where my obsession with spanakopita originated. Obsession? Yes. It is just so absolutely delectable, savory, light yet hearty, and ever so satisfying. (living in Astoria also gave my a whole new outlook on olives, but that's another story).
After moving from the neighborhood, however, I was in for a rude awakening - no pie! I'd come across a 'version' here or there in my travels, but it never came close to the spanakopita that I'd grown to love so much in Queens. Being a somewhat determined individual, the only solution was obvious; make it myself! This recipe represents my epic quest to recreate the original and is taken from many recipes, grandmothers, and internet searches. It is awesome. Enjoy!
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (green part)
  • 2 16 oz bags chopped, frozen spinach
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 12 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ c unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 package of phyllo dough
note: if using frozen dough, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • melt the butter and olive oil in a medium sauté pan. add the onions and garlic and sauté over low heat until very tender (10-15 minutes), remove from heat, and let cool.
  • meanwhile, microwave the spinach in a large bowl for a few minutes until just thawed (not hot). squeeze the spinach, handful by handful, over the sink to remove water from the spinach, place in another large clean bowl, and let cool.
  • mix together eggs, feta cheese, nutmeg and coriander in a small bowl. mix the scallions, lemon juice, onions and garlic into the squeezed spinach and combine thoroughly. add the egg and cheese mixture to the spinach bowl and mix well.

working with phyllo:
phyllo dough is very thin and flaky causing it to dry out if exposed to the air. to keep the dough supple, cover it with a DAMP (not wet), clean dishtowel between layering.




phyllo covered with a damp towel




assembling the pie:

  • unroll phyllo dough. cutting through all the sheets at once, cut in half vertically, making each dough layer about 13 by 9 inches. cover the cut dough with the damp towel.
  • brush a 13 by 9 inch glass baking pan with the melted butter.
  • remove the towel from dough. place 2 sheets of dough in the pan. brush top layer of dough with the melted butter and add two more layers of dough, brush with melted butter, and repeat layers until there are 4 layers of dough (8 sheets total).
  • use fingers to spread out a thin layer of spinach filling as evenly as possible.
  • repeat process four times, finishing with dough. the assembled pie is layered dough, spinach, dough, spinach, dough, spinach, dough. (it’s easier than it sounds, just think lasagna).
  • bake for 25 minutes or until top is golden and flaky.
let the pie sit for about 10 minutes and cut into squares

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Romantic Dinner for Two


Scupper had a sleepover at Grandma's the other night, but I decided to stay in and enjoy a quiet (ahhhh!) evening at home. Aren't grandmas the best!?

A special dinner for sweetie and me -

Baby Greens with Gorgonzola, Caramelized Pecans, and Dried Cranberries , Cedar Planked Salmon in a Honey Balsamic Glaze, and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

RECIPES:

Baby Greens with Gorgonzola, Caramelized Pecans, and Dried Cranberries

  • 4 c mixed baby greens, washed and dried
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1/2 c gorgonzola cheese crumbles
  • 1/2 c pecan halves
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated orange zest
  • 4-6 tbsp of My Grandma's Vinaigrette
to make the pecans:
  • melt 1/2 tbsp butter in a small skillet over medium heat. add sugar and nuts and stir constantly for about 5 minutes or until sugar is caramelized and the nuts are evenly coated. transfer nuts onto a piece of waxed paper or aluminum foil, dust with a little fresh ground black pepper, some salt, the cranberries, and the orange zest and let cool for 20 minutes.
to plate the salad:
  • add the lettuces and chives to a large bowl and toss evenly with the vinaigrette (suit amount of dressing to taste) and evenly distribute the dressed greens onto two small plates.
  • attractively top each salad plate with half of the cheese and nut mixture

soaking the planks


Cedar Planked Salmon in a Honey Balsamic Glaze

this recipe was adapted from Micael Chiarello's, Easy Entertaining - I just love his ideas for food.
  • 2 (6-ounce) skinless wild salmon fillet portions
  • 1/2 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 commercial cedar planks, soaked in water according to directions or overnight
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
preheat the broiler

  • slice about 8 angled slits into each fillet
  • in a small bowl mix the salt, pepper, and mustard
  • in another small bowl, heat the honey in the microwave for 30 seconds to liquefy. remove from the microwave and mix in balsamic vinegar. brush the top of the salmon fillets (not the skin side) with the melted butter. season the fish with the spice mixture. brush with the honey-balsamic mixture, reserving some for later.
  • put the soaked planks under the hot broiler, about 5 inches from the heat, until the wood is browned on top, about 3 minutes. carefully remove the planks from the oven.
  • immediately brush the planks with olive oil and put a seasoned salmon fillet on each.
  • put a flat baking pan in the oven below where the planks will go to catch any run off. put the planks under the broiler and cook the fish for 5 minutes. baste again with remaining honey-balsamic glaze and place in oven at 350. cook to your taste, about 15 minutes or more for very well done.


Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • 6 cloves garlic, unseparated if possible
  • 2 medium white potatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 c - 3/4 c milk (depending on size of potatoes used)
  • 2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped herb/s of choice (I used parsley this time)
for the roasted garlic:
  • preheat oven to 350
  • cut off the very tops of 6 cloves of garlic and place it, cut side up, in a very small oven safe dish or ramekin. add 1 or 2 tbsp of water to the bottom of the dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 30-40 minutes until soft and golden.
  • cool slightly and then gently squeeze the roasted garlic to remove from jackets and set aside.
for potatoes:
  • bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil on the range of the stove
  • meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into cubes
  • add the cubes to the boiling water and cook until tender 8-10 minutes and strain in a colander, keeping the burner on
  • return the potatoes to the pot and shake them in the pan over the hot burner for about 30 seconds to remove excess moisture (this will keep potatoes from becoming too starchy)
  • remove from heat and either keep potatoes in the pot or transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • add the butter, roasted garlic, cheese, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. slowly begin adding the milk while mixing everything with a hand held electric mixer on medium until the potatoes become silky and fluffy and almost uniform in texture.

roasted garlic smells so so yummy when it's being cooked. it has a deeper, sweeter and nuttier flavor than fresh garlic. try it on toasted baguette slices with with a little drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper as an alternative to garlic bread. mmmhmmm.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rain and a Wild Mushroom Bisque


The whole summer here has been mild, but Monday was just dreary, unseasonably cool and rainy. At first I felt a bit put out, but then realized that the weather set the perfect tone for some soup! I happened to have a few different varieties of wild mushrooms in the fridge and some organic heavy cream, along with a well stocked pantry, so a bisque was inevitable. However, there wasn't enough cream! I ended up improvising and making a roux to thicken the soup instead of just cream. Lower in fat, but it turned out really tasty!


RECIPE:

Wild Mushroom Bisque

  • 1 pound assorted, cultivated wild mushrooms (I used oyster, cremini, shitake, and portobella)
  • one white onion
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or broth plus 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 c heavy cream (or half and half)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • add the 1 tbsp butter, 1/2 of the stock, wine, and 1/2 cup water, and bay leaf in a large pot and bring to boil.
  • meanwhile, wash the mushrooms and pat dry. chop the mushrooms and onions somewhat finely. (see picture)

  • add the onions and mushrooms to the boiling stock and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes.
  • after about a half hour, add the rest of the stock, cover the mushroom mixture, remove bay leaf, raise heat and continue to simmer another 15 minutes.
  • meanwhile, melt remaining 4 tbsp butter in another in another large pot and add the flour. stir constantly until flour is fragrant and light brown, about 2 minutes. whisk in the cream until well blended. add the mushrooms and broth cupful by cupful, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. season with salt, fresh ground pepper, and thyme.



Thursday, July 19, 2007

Two Favorite Recipes

Isn't it so curious how siblings, although they start out the same, often come to be completely different personality types or even opposite ones? So many dishes I make start out with the sweat of onions and garlic, yet starting with these bulbous jewels, each creation morphs into something distinctively different. To illustrate, let's take two recipes that came from the same place and that started out with the same stuff yet somehow, miraculously, found their own identities vastly apart from one another.



Two Recipes
1. Roasted Red Pepper, Goat Cheese, and Spinach Quiche
2. Easy Vegan Vegetable Soup

RECIPE 1:
Roasted Red Pepper, Goat Cheese, and Spinach Quiche
(this one is dedicated to Reiko)


Ingredients:
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • one sweet white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • one store bought (lard free - check!) pie crust, partially defrosted
  • half of a red bell pepper, seeded
  • 5 oz (half a bag) of pre-washed baby spinach
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • salt/pepper
  • 4 oz chèvre (goat cheese)
To make quiche:
  • preheat oven to 350
  • pierce pie crust bottom with a fork
  • cook for 6 minutes and remove
  • meanwhile, finely dice onion and mince garlic
  • add oil to the pan and heat, over low heat, then add the onion and garlic with the 1/2 tsp salt (about 15 minutes) note- this 'sweats' the veggies, making them tender and also flavors the whole dish
  • meanwhile, cut the pepper half into to two pieces. turn two gas burners to high, and place pepper pieces, skin side down, until they char black. (alternatively, for electric ranges, broil on highest level in oven until charred) remove from heat and place in a sealed ziplock bag or in a pot with a lid for 10 minutes.
  • as peppers sit, coarsely chop the spinach and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt. mix the salt in well then move spinach to a bowl. the salt makes the spinach release it's juice, so over the sink, squeeze the water, handful by handful, out of the spinach and set aside.

































  • by now, the onion and garlic are probably done. add the nutmeg and the tbsp butter. let butter melt, then remove from heat.
  • remove peppers from bag and peel the skin off (the condensation from the bag should make it come off easily). rinse, pat dry, finely chop, and set aside.
  • mix the eggs, milk, and salt and pepper with a whisk or the back of a fork until well blended.
  • crumble the chèvre cheese evenly on the bottom of the pie crust.
  • evenly spread the spinach, the onions, and then the peppers over the cheese.
  • place the crust on a flat baking sheet.
  • slowly and evenly pour the egg mixture over the cheese and veggies.
  • carefully transfer the baking sheet to the oven.
  • bake for 30 minutes or until set.
  • let cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
RECIPE 2:
Easy Vegan Vegetable Soup
This soup is so quick and easy, can easily be made with all organic ingredients, is low in fat, high in fiber, and so good for you...but you'd never know it! It's so tasty and satisfying, and leftovers are great for a light lunch.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 sweet white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (1 quart) (I love Imagine's 'no chicken' organic vegetable stock) with 1/4 c reserved
  • 1 large carrot, cut into small cubes
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • one medium white potato, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup frozen petite peas
  • 1/4 c frozen sweet corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup cut frozen green beans
  • small handful of orzo pasta
  • 1 tsp salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • sprinkling of fresh, chopped parsley
To make soup:
  • add oil to the pan and heat, over low heat, then add the onion and garlic with the 1/2 tsp salt (about 15 minutes).
  • meanwhile, chop carrots, potato, and celery.
  • add the reserved stock to the pot along with carrots, potato, and celery, and tsp salt and raise heat to medium. simmer for 10 minutes.
  • add the rest of the stock. raise heat to high and add frozen vegetables. bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. add the orzo pasta and simmer about 20 minutes or until all veggies are tender.
  • add the parsley and fresh ground pepper and more salt to taste, if needed.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables


I love this dish because it is so very tasty and indispensably versatile. It is shown in the picture by itself, but can be served as a vegan or vegetarian main course with a couscous pilaf or a risotto, as a side dish, or as a salad topping. Even leftovers make a fantastic wrap or sandwich with some lemony mayo, romaine lettuce, and some mozzarella cheese.

I used yams, white potatoes, Vidalia onion, red bell peppers, yellow sweet peppers, and portobello mushrooms, but it can be switched up any which way and could also include cubed yellow squash or zucchini, asparagus, or thinly sliced baby eggplant. Have fun!

RECIPE:

For the dressing:

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried, crushed rosemary or 1 tbsp fresh, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh fresh leaves
  • ½ tsp dried thyme or ½ tbsp fresh leaves
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup of good olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste (this dressing flavors ALL the veggies and combines with the juices they release, so it should be a little saltier/spicier than if it was to be used alone)

Either place all of the ingredients in a food processor, blender, or magic bullet and puree until smooth or mince the garlic and combine in a bowl. Set aside.

For Veggies:

  • 1 large yam
  • 2 small potatoes
  • 1 c baby carrot
  • 1 large vidalia onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3-4 small yellow sweet peppers
  • 3 large portobello mushrooms
  • Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and put a large pot of lightly salted water to boil
  • Peel the yam and potatoes and cut into large chunks
  • Rinse the mushrooms, pat dry and cut into large chunks
  • Seed the peppers and cut into large chunks
  • When water is boiling, boil the potato and yam pieces for 2 minutes to parboil and then drain in a colander
  • Combine all the veggies in a large mixing bowl, pour the dressing over and mix well with a rubber spatula until all veggies are coated evenly
the picture also illustrates approximate size of vegetables before roasting

  • Pour vegetables onto 2 shallow baking pans in a single layer
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes and flip, then roast 15-20 minutes until they start to caramelize (juices on outside get a bit crisp and browned)
Remember that the vegetables can be varied in any way, just make sure that any root vegetables are parboiled before roasting to ensure that all veggies cook evenly.




Friday, July 13, 2007

A Story, a (mostly) Vegan Lunch, and Some Product Revies








STORY

I had such an extraordinarily pleasant trip to Wegman’s Supermarket this morning. Usually, my 2 year old son acts like a crazy maniac forcing me to frantically chuck only the items on my list into the basket a la Supermarket Sweep. Today, however, heaven smiled on me, and he was an absolute angel sitting there in the cart, eating from a box of cinnamon Earth’s Best Crunchin’ Blocks, his bare little legs dangling his bright green Crocs, just looking around, giving me high fives, and flirting with all of the old ladies. Ah, the joys of motherhood.

The unexpected respite afforded me the opportunity to (gasp!) browse. Now I realize that a lot of people might find it somewhat boring to peruse the organics and health food sections of the supermarket, but for the pescetarian, it is so much fun. I even got to poke around in international food! I scored a couple of previously untried products in the organics section and a favorite in international food that I hadn’t even realized Wegman’s carried until today.

When I came across Lite Life’s USDA Organic, Fakin’ Bacon Smoky Tempeh Strips, with just 100 calories and3 grams of fat per serving along with 8 grams of protein, I just knew I’d have to try it. Next on my journey was, Kettle Brand Bakes Potato Chips. They’re not organic, but regular Kettle Brand Chips are sooooooooooo good and such a guilty pleasure of mine that I just had to know – could it be possible that the bastardized cousin of the original are just as good? Well, per serving, they’re 30 calories less, 6 grams of fat less, and have 1 more gram of protein than the regular ones, so I’d have to see for myself. The last of my adventures was in international foods. I love experimenting with Asian ingredients while cooking, and as I was looking through the Asian section today, I came across an old favorite that I heretofore did not realize was there - Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise! It comes in this soft plastic squeezy tube, and it is ever so dreadfully delicious. Being that the pescetarian refuses to count spreads as “real” calories, we won’t get into any nutrition facts about this one. (nevertheless, expect to see some recipes for sauces using this delectable mayo in the near future.) With my complete list (that’s an accomplishment these days) and my newly discovered booty in tow, I headed home to make myself and my lil' scupper a much deserved lunch.
I decided to make a bltaw which stands for a whole wheat wrap spread with mayonnaise and layered with 'bacon', lettuce, avocado and tomato served along with a healthy side chips.

When I got home, scupper decided to take a nap. It's these moments when I look upon him and say..."perfection." He is so cute, if he was any cuter, I'd have to eat him up like a pudding parfait. (a threat I use quite regularly, mind you.) Sweetie informed me that he'd be home for lunch, so I still got to cook up two.

RECIPE:
Fakin' Bacon, Avocado, Tomato and Lettuce Wraps
  • 6 strips fakin'
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 plum tomato
  • whole wheat wrap
  • kewpie mayo
  • romaine lettuce leaves washed and patted dry

To make two wraps, I pan fried 6 strips of the Fakin’ Bacon Smoky Tempeh Strips in a skillet with a bit of vegetable oil, and drained them on a paper towel. I then sliced up half of a seeded plum tomato, half of an avocado, and washed some romaine lettuce. I spread the Kewpie Mayonnaise onto the wrap and on one end, vertically layered the 'bacon', tomato, avocado, and lettuce. (note – I had a vegan protein shake for breakfast and so used the real mayo – if vegan mayo had been used, the meal would be animal free) Then I rolled it up, cut it in half, plated it with some chips, and took a picture for you!



REVIEWS

Being that I grew up omnivorous, I sometimes think about what meat products I miss the most, and without a doubt, right at the top of the list is...BACON! While the wrap I made was definitely delicious, the Fakin’ Bacon Smoky Tempeh Strips were not exactly like bacon. They are very good, though, with a smoky, barbecued, and nutty taste; pan frying them gave them an appetizing crispiness that complemented the crunchy freshness of the veggies and the creaminess of the avocado and the mayonnaise. Final Grade and analysis – B+. Not like real bacon, but at least Wilbur gets to see the snow.

The chips were also “nothin’ like the real thing”, but very tasty nonetheless. Crunchy, slightly salty with a nice roasted flavor that is not found in the original. Final grade and analysis – B. I don’t know if they’d satisfy an all out chip craving, but they are perfectly fine and paired very well with the wrap.

The mayonnaise – well, you know – A+! Get some...Today!