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Posts Tagged ‘vegan recipes’

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We’ve been visiting friends who have their first garden growing on their deck in large planters.  We have been watching the beets grow and were beginning to see the glorious red globes peeking out of the earth when we left.  Beets have always been a favorite vegetable for me and now they seem to hold that same allure with my grandchildren – except the littlest one who hasn’t yet decided that vegetables are part of the necessary food groups.

My mother loved to make Harvard Beets which was the only way I refused to eat them.  I called them slimy….  You never see them anymore and, as far as I am concerned, this is with good reason.  If you’re not familiar with them Harvard Beets are diced cooked beets cooked in a very sweet, slightly vinegary cornstarch-thickened sauce.  Why any cook ever decided to add sugar to an already sugary beet is a mystery to me.

I am so delighted that beets are beginning to appear at the green market.  They will be on our table throughout the summer and early fall.  I prefer to bake them in their skins, wrapped in foil.  When done, I push off the skins, slice them and either pickle them or give them a quick sauté in butter, season with salt and pepper and toss in some fresh dill, parsley or tarragon.  So, yummy.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about avocados —- well, you know, it is a time of isolation when our thoughts can run amok!!!!  Why avocados?  I don’t really know but I would guess it is because during this extraordinary time people have taken to cooking and blogging and social mediaing about their favorite or, often, most challenging dishes.  Among the top 2 have been avocado toasts and sourdough bread.  I have never done an avocado book but I have done a couple of classic bread books – The French Culinary Institute’s Fundamentals of Bread Baking and Master Baker Lionel Vatinet’s A Passion for Bread and you would think that I would have, by now, mastered not only sourdough bread but tons of others.  Instead I just make my own traditional white batter bread that my mom and probably my grandmother made.  So, that leaves avocados.

Even when I was a wee one, avocados were a favorite.  Before I had teeth, my mom would slather a saltine with mashed avocado as a treat.  I’m told I would lick off the avocado and hand the cracker back for more until the cracker folded….  I still love avocado slather on a saltine.  However, when our Aussie friends introduced us to their national breakfast dish, avocado toast, I took to it like that proverbial duck to water.  There are so many versions that it is hard to keep an up-to-date list but my favorite remains any that combine avocado, tomato and/or olives.

Another favorite is individual nacho-like avocado chips.  All you need is a fresh tortilla chip (I lie, you can use bagged tortilla chips.), mashed, well-seasoned avocado, some cooked chicken or pork, grated cheese and some kind of zesty salsa/sauce to drizzle as you snack.  A perfect nosh with a chilled margarita!

A note on the latter – fresh tortilla chips are so so so so so much better than packaged chips.  And, easy to make.  Cut small corn tortillas into triangles or even break them into random pieces.  Season with a little oil and salt, tossing to coat.  You can add some ground cumin, cayenne or chili powder if you like.  Lay them out in a single layer on baking sheets and bake at 300°F, tossing and turning occasionally, until they are crisp and lightly colored.  They are addictive!

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It’s that time of year — asparagus is filling the green markets and being plucked from home gardens.  There is nothing as delicious to see than those bright green heads peeking up through the softening earth.  When I was a little one – there I go again talking about when I was —- my mom and aunt would take me in hand as they scouted the edges of irrigation ditches looking for the first spring crop.  I have absolutely no idea why asparagus grew along the ditches but if any of you readers do please tell me.  We would have asparagus every night until it got too warm and the asparagus disappeared.  It would also be canned and pickled.

When I use it in risotto, I like to add the trimmings to the stock to deepen the asparagus flavor.  And, if you don’t have stock or broth on hand, just add the trimmings to water and that will give you a flavorful stock.  If you have any on hand, a small dice of fennel also works to add some complexity to the final dish.

Serves 4

Approximately 4 cups hot chicken stock or low-sodium chicken

broth

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup finely diced onion

Salt

1 cup Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut, on the diagonal, into

thin pieces

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pepper

Place the chicken stock or broth in a large saucepan over medium heat.  If you have them, add the trimmings from the asparagus to the stock to add flavor.  Bring to a simmer; then, remove from the heat and keep warm.  

Place the butter in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat.  When melted, add the onion and season with salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or just until the onion begins to soften.  Lower the heat, add the rice and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the rice is shiny and has absorbed some of the butter.

Return the stock to low heat.

Add the wine to the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the wine.  

Begin adding the hot stock, about ¼ cup at a time, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, as each ¼ cup is absorbed and the rice is creamy but, al dente.

Stir in the asparagus and olive oil and cook for an additional 4 minutes or until the asparagus is still crisp-tender.

Remove from the heat and stir in half of the cheese.  Cover and let stand for 3 minutes.

Uncover and pour into individual serving bowls.  Garnish with the remaining ½ cup of cheese and a sprinkle of pepper.

Serve immediately.  

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I am probably one of the few non-Southerners who loves okra.  I usually don’t buy it at the supermarket – only when it pops up at the green market in August does it make it to our table.  It is such an interesting looking vegetable, particularly when it is the purple variety. When I have time and the price is right, I will pickle a good amount of okra.  It makes a great accompaniment to charcuterie or cheese platters.  But, as often as not, I will give it a quick stir-fry all by itself or mix it up with some tomatoes and onions.  But occasionally – particularly when I’ve made cornbread or have shrimp on hand – I’ll turn them into my version of maque choux, that traditional Louisiana side dish that usually features just corn, bell peppers, and onion.  Cornbread makes a good dipping tool and shrimp can turn it into a sorta gumbo.  I never cook okra very long as I’m not a fan once it starts to get slimy.  Although recently someone told me that if you blanch it for a minute or so, it stays bright green and doesn’t get slimy.  I haven’t tried that method so can’t recommend it, but you might want to give it a try.

Maque Choux

Serves 4

2 tablespoons bacon grease (or any fat you like)

½ cup chopped red onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced hot green or red chile or to taste

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 cup fresh corn kernels

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

2 cups sliced okra

¾ cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

½ cup chopped scallions

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Hot sauce, optional

 

Heat the bacon grease in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, chile, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes or until the onion is softening.  Stir in the corn and bell pepper and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until just barely tender.  Stir in the okra and then quickly add the cream, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or just until slightly thick.  Don’t cook too long as you don’t want the okra to start oozing – you want it slightly crisp.

Remove from the heat and stir in the scallions and parsley.  Taste and, if necessary, season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

Serve hot.

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If you’ve read my posts for awhile you will know that I love artichokes.  The baby ones I got at the farmers market the other Saturday made the best Roman Fritto Misto, but since I only fried the artichokes I guess it was a fritto without the misto. To make the misto, just combine an assortment of vegetables cut into a little bit larger than bite-size pieces. Sounds very fancy, but it is so simple to do.  Here’s how:
Clean the baby artichokes and cut them, lengthwise, into quarters.  Scoop out the fuzzy choke and rinse well.  Rub well with a cut lemon half and pat dry.  (Work quickly as the cut artichokes will rapidly begin to discolor.  You can always put them in acidulated (lots of lemon juice) water as you work to stop the process, but then you really have to make sure they are well-dried before frying.)

Combine the cut artichokes with salted flour in a resealable plastic bag, close, and shake well to coat generously.
Whisk 2 eggs together in a shallow bowl.
Heat olive oil in a deep fat fryer to 375ºF on a candy thermometer.
Place the floured artichokes in a sifter and shake to remove excess flour.  Quickly dip into the beaten egg and immediately drop into the hot oil.
Fry for about 3 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.  If they cook too quickly, remove the fryer from the heat and let the oil cool to 365ºF before continuing to fry.
Lift from the oil and place on a double layer of paper towel to drain. 

Sprinkle with salt and serve hot.

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©Stephen Kolyer_Pea Soup

 

Most split pea soups have some type of meat as flavoring – ham hock or bone, bacon, ribs – but I almost always keep mine fit for a vegetarian.  Occasionally I might use chicken stock, but as like as not water or vegetable stock will be my choice.  It is such a simple soup to make that a mid-afternoon stint in the kitchen will create a lovely warming dinner on a cold winter’s day.  And, to top it off a bag of split peas – yellow or green – will usually set you back somewhere around a dollar.
There are a myriad of variations to the basic recipe.  You can add almost any herb or spice you like – I opt for curry powder (about 2 teaspoons) and/or a big spoonful of chopped fresh dill.  You can add chopped cooked sausage, ham, or any smoked meat to turn the soup into a hearty meal.  You can chill it and serve with fresh mint and sour cream.  And on it goes – just get the basic down and go from there.

1 pound split green or yellow split peas
    1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
    1 large onion, peeled and chopped
    1 stalk celery, well-washed, trimmed, and chopped
    3 quarts water, vegetable or chicken stock
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Tabasco sauce to taste
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine the peas, carrot, onion, and celery in a large saucepan.  Add the water and place over high heat.  Bring to a boil; then, season with salt, pepper, and Tabasco and lower the heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring from time to time, for about an hour or until the peas have disintegrated and the soup is thick.  You may have to add more liquid as the soup cooks down.
Remove from the heat and either puree directly in the pan using a hand-held immersion blender or pour the soup into a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade and puree.
Return the soup to a clean saucepan.  Add the lemon juice and taste.  If necessary, season with additional salt, pepper, and Tabasco.  If the soup is very thick, you can thin with stock or heavy cream.  I like to drizzle a little heavy cream or thinned plain yogurt on top before serving or sometimes I add a handful of crisp rye or sour dough croutons.

 

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Some time ago I did a vegan cookbook proposal for a terrific New Zealand chef, Michael Waffelbaker, which you can view under “Cookbook Ideas.”  In it was a recipe that has become one of Steve’s favorite meals.  I’m not a lover of tofu so I usually make it when I am in diet mode with a large salad for myself.  But, since Steve says it is so delicious, I thought we should share the recipe with all of you.

 

3 heads bok choy

1⅓ pounds shiitake mushrooms

1 cup homemade vegetable stock or canned vegetable broth 

1 tablespoon cornstarch

½ cup light soy sauce 

1 tablespoon light brown sugar 

One 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds extra firm tofu, well-drained and cut into ¾-inch cubes

1 tablespoon sesame oil

3 small hot chiles such as bird or Serrano, stemmed, seeded, and minced or to 

taste

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

 

Wash and dry the bok choy.  Using a sharp knife, cut the root end from each head.  If the leaves are larger than 2-inches wide cut them in half.  Set aside.

Trim the stems from the shiitakes and wipe the mushrooms clean.  (Save the stems for stocks.)  Depending upon their size, cut each one into quarters or halves so that each piece is relatively equal in size.  Set aside.

Combine ½ cup of the stock with the cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve.  Set aside.

Combine the remaining ½ cup of the stock with the soy sauce and brown sugar in a medium large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the ginger and bring to a boil.  Immediately whisk in the reserved cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes or until thick.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the tofu and fry, turning about every 30 seconds, for about 4 minutes or until golden on all sides.  Using a slotted spatula, transfer the tofu to a double layer of paper towel to drain.

With the sauté pan still on medium-high heat, add the sesame oil.  When hot, add the reserved mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the bok choy, chiles, and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Stir in the reserved tofu along with the soy-ginger sauce and cook for about 1 minute or just until blended and hot.

Remove from the heat and spoon equal portions into each of six large, shallow soup bowls.  Serve immediately.

 

 

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