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.)

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.

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.

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
  • 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.

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!

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!