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Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian recipes’

©Steve Pool Photography

We were introduced to these cookies by our friends, Stuart and Dean.  Stu is English, where cookies are biscuits, and Dean is from New Zealand where Anzac biscuits are cookies that are a national treasure.  They were created during the era of World War I; some say to send to the troops fighting abroad, some say to sell at home to raise funds for the war effort and some say that neither of these tales are true.  And I don’t think it matters how they came to be, they are just plain delicious!  They are, of course, to Americans simply a version of oatmeal cookies.  Anzac biscuits are great to have on hand to dunk in a cuppa or crunch on as they are quite dry and crispy and keep forever.

Makes about 2 dozen

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons dark corn syrup

1 cup rolled oats, either instant or old-fashioned

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup dessicated coconut – I use organic, finely shredded unsweetened

Scant ¾ cup sugar

Pinch salt

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

2 tablespoons boiling water

1½ teaspoons baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line 2 cookie sheets with silicon liners or parchment paper.  If you have neither, lightly grease them.  Set aside.

Combine the butter and corn syrup in a small saucepan over very low heat.  Warm until just melted and combined.  Keep warm.

Combine the oats, flour, coconut, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl.  Add the raisins and walnuts, stirring to blend well.

Pour the boiling water into a medium bowl.  Immediately add the baking soda and stir to dissolve.  Take care as it will bubble up quickly.  Pour the warm butter mixture into the soda mixture and stir to combine.

Drizzle the butter mixture over the dry ingredients and begin stirring to combine.  It is not a wet mixture so you will need some muscle to mix.

When well-combined, form the dough into small balls.  I’d say about the size of a walnut.  Place the balls, about an inch or so apart, on the prepared cookie sheets.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until firm, beautifully browned and crisp.  The whole point of these cookies is that they should be relatively dry, darkish brown and sturdy enough to last some time.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

When cool, store, covered, for up to 3 weeks.

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©Steve Pool Photography

          I don’t know when I first discovered pomegranates but it was sometime in my early teens.  I was hooked!  I loved their color, the piquancy of the arils, the messiness of pulling the fruit apart (I know, I know, there are some tidy methods of doing this but I like what I like!), the stains on my fingertips.  To this day, nothing can dissuade me from the thrill I feel when I first discover them arriving in the market…..usually long about now!  And the first thing I do is lean over my kitchen sink and begin pulling my purchase apart, almost slurping up the juicy arils as the colorful juice runs down my chin. 

          I rarely use them in cooking or baking — I just love pulling them apart and popping the arils – seeds, to me — between my teeth and feeling the juice explode on my tongue.  However, once in awhile I will patiently extract the arils and pile them up in a bowl to use in a salad, as a garnish or even in a stew.  Here is a salad in which they can shine.  It is perfect for fall.  It can stand on its own or be a side kick to almost any meat or game.

Wild Rice Salad

Serves 6

1 cup wild rice

Salt

½ cup low-fat plain yogurt

¼ cup hazelnut or walnut oil

¼ cup rice wine vinegar, preferably Japanese rice wine

½ teaspoon curry powder

¼ teaspoon minced ginger

1 cup julienned snow peas

¾ cup pomegranate arils plus more for garnishing if you like

½ cup julienned yellow bell pepper

½ cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Pepper

          Rinse the wild rice and place in a bowl with cold water to cover for about 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.  Drain well and transfer to a medium saucepan.  Add 4 cups of cold water and season with salt.  Place over high heat and bring to a boil. 

          Lower the heat, cover and cook at a gentle simmer for about 45 minutes or until the rice is tender, but a bit chewy.  Remove from the heat and spoon into a colander.  Set aside to drain thoroughly.

          While the rice is cooking, prepare the dressing.

          Combine the yogurt with the hazelnut oil in a small mixing bowl.  Whisk in the vinegar.  When blended, whisk in the curry powder, and ginger.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside to allow the flavors to blend.

          When the rice is well drained, transfer to a serving bowl.  Toss in the snow peas, pomegranate, bell pepper and hazelnuts.  When well-blended, drizzle in the dressing, tossing to distribute evenly.

          Taste and, if necessary, season with salt and pepper. 

          Serve, as is, or with pomegranate sprinkled over the top or on a bed of greens.

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My dear husband loves, loves, loves broccoli – I think he would happily eat it every day.  Because of this, I’m always trying to find interesting ways to cook it so we don’t have the same old roasted broccoli every day.  I never boil it as it was brought to the table in my childhood rendering it soggy and completely unappetizing.  

When last in San Francisco – in that other time when we could travel and visit far away places and eat anywhere that pleased us – we had a few wonderful meals at China Live (chinalivesf.com).  It is an amazing emporium and restaurant highlighting great Chinese products and foods.  We came home with some of their soy sauce, vinegar and chili oil – each one better than the other.  Once you try their soy sauce, it is very hard to go back to the supermarket choices.  The black vinegar is delicious and the chili oil incredible.  You can easily order all of these products online.

This is an easy and very tasty method of introducing broccoli into your menu IF you are not fond of it.  And, if you, like my husband, love it, this recipe will make you love it even more.  If you don’t have the China Live chili oil, use any Chinese chili oil you have on hand.

In case you don’t know this easy technique to mince garlic and ginger – just peel them and use a rasp grater to quickly grate.  Easy-peasy!  

Serves 4 to 6

1 head broccoli

½ cup plain yogurt

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

One ½-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon lite soy sauce

1 teaspoon China Live chili oil

¼ teaspoon red chili flakes

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Line a baking sheet with sides with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil.  Set aside.

Trim the broccoli, discarding the leaves and cut it into florets with some stem attached.  If the broccoli is older, check to make sure that the stems are not woody.  If they are, cut most of them off.

Combine the yogurt with the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, chili oil and chile flakes in a large mixing bowl, stirring to blend well.  Add the broccoli and toss to evenly coat.

Lay the seasoned broccoli out in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Transfer to the preheated oven and roast, turning occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until the florets are lightly browned and the stems are tender.

Remove from the oven and serve.

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Recently our neighborhood friends, Gabrielle and Jared, gifted us with fresh garlic harvested from Jared’s parents small farm in Maine.  I couldn’t have received a better present as I love garlic.  I always say I use more garlic than a Sicilian grandmother.  And, I can tell you, this fresh-from-the-Glad Tidings Farm garlic was exceptionally wonderful.  None of the underlying bitterness of stale grocery store garlic at all.  Although I have used most of it in prepared dishes, I couldn’t resist making some garlic bread out of one of the plumpest heads.  Here’s what I did……

Combined a stick of Kerrygold unsalted butter with 3 big fat cloves of Gardner Stock and about ½ cup grated Parmigiano in my mini food processor.  Seasoned it with a bit of sea salt and pepper.  Split a Shewolf bakery baguette lengthwise and slathered both sides with the butter mixture.  Put the baguette back together and wrapped it in aluminum foil.  Heated it in a 400°F oven and baked it for about 10 minutes.  Then, I unwrapped the bread and opened it up to the two halves and let them bake for another 10 minutes or so or until the edges were golden and crispy and the aroma of garlic and butter made it impossible not to grab the hot bread and tear off a hunk.  So so so good!

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This recipe takes quite a bit of prep work as you neatly dice all the vegetables but the end result is well-worth the effort.  It is one of my favorite soups to make when fresh cannellini beans come to the green market.  This usually happens in the late summer or early fall.  I particularly enjoy the zen of sitting and shelling the beans.  If you have a rind of Parmesan cheese on hand, throw it in the pot.  It will add a lovely richness to the broth.

A version of this recipe will be found in my new book, The Mighty Bean, which will be published in February 2021.

Serves 6

¼ cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced onions

1 cup diced leeks

2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley

2 cups fresh cannellini beans

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup diced potatoes

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced zucchini or yellow summer squash

1 cup diced green beans or yellow wax beans

1 cup fresh peas

1 cup chopped Savoy cabbage

2 cups diced Italian plum tomatoes with their juice

Salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil for serving, optional

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving, optional

Combine butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  When hot, add the onions, leeks and parsley.  Lower the heat and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or just until the aromatics begin to soften.

Stir in the cannellini beans and add 2 cups of the broth.  Cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Begin adding all the vegetables except the tomatoes, one at a time, and cooking each one for 3 minutes before adding the next one.  They should be added as they are listed in the ingredient list as this allows for the proper cooking time for each one.  

When all the vegetables have been added, stir in the tomatoes and remaining vegetable broth.  Season with salt and pepper, raise the heat and bring to a boil.

Immediately lower the heat to a bare simmer.  Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the soup is very thick.

Remove from the heat and serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if desired.


					

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Eggplant Parm

 

Visiting our dear friends at their lake house I was designated the night’s cook.  I checked the fridge and found a couple of eggplant more than ready to be used.  At first I was just going to slice, bread and fry as my mom used to do – she insisted that fried eggplant tasted like fried oysters and who were we to argue – but then I remembered that I had brought a couple of jars of passata – that wonderfully rich Italian condensed tomato sauce so decided to look for enough other ingredients to make a version of eggplant parm.  However it was so hot, I didn’t want to turn the oven on so I thought why not give the grill a try……the eggplant would already to cooked and I would just need the heat to melted the cheese and give the flavors time to unite and give that delicious mixture of unctuous vegetable, rich sauce and melting cheese time to dance.

So, that’s what I did – I fried the eggplant, made a quick tomato sauce with the passata and fresh garlic and basil from the garden and sliced up a big hunk of mozzarella from the farmers market that I found in the cheese drawer of their well-stocked fridge.  Even found some pre-ground Parmesan to add that special sharp salty taste that gives that extra oomph to Italian dishes.  Put the mix together, heated up the grill, pulled the lid down and in less than a half flour we had a lovely almost Italian dinner on the deck.  Was my dish a classic – not really – but it sure was good.

Depending upon the amount of eggplant slices you have you can make a single layer, a double layer or even a triple layer of eggplant, cheese and sauce – always ending with a coating of sauce and a goodly amount of cheese to melt over it all.

You will also note that I don’t salt eggplant as many do – I’ve never found it necessary.  

By the way, just simply fried eggplant is a great easy dinner with the arugula on top and a bit of bread and cheese on the side.  And, you know what, the eggplant does kinda taste like friend oysters!

Just Plain Fried Eggplant

Serves 4 to 6 

2 large eggs

¼ cup milk

3 cups breadcrumbs (plain or seasoned, depending upon your preference)

½ cup Wondra flour

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper 

2 medium eggplants, trimmed and cut, crosswise, into slices about ⅜-inch thick 

About ½ cup olive oil for frying

Lemon quarters for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  

 

Combine the eggs and milk in a shallow dish, whisking to blend well.

Combine the breadcrumbs and flour in another shallow dish.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to blend.

Working with one eggplant slice at a time, dip it into the egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off.  Then, dip it into the bread crumb mixture.  If you prefer a heavy coating, again dip into the egg and bread crumb mixture.  

Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  When very hot, but not smoking, begin adding the coated eggplant, without crowding the pan.  Fry, turning once, for about 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.  Transfer to a double layer of paper towel to drain.  If the oil gets too dark and filled with bits of the cooked coating, pour it out, wipe the pan clean with paper towel, and start again with fresh oil.

When all of the eggplant has been fried, transfer to a serving platter.  If you want to fancy it up, place a few handfuls of arugula in a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil and the juice of ½ lemon.  Season with salt and pepper and mound on top of the eggplant. Serve with lemon quarters for drizzling on the eggplant.

If you want to make Eggplant Parm, generously coat a baking dish with olive oil.  Coat the bottom of the dish with you favorite marinara sauce, followed by a layer of eggplant and then a thin layer of mozzarella cheese and continue making layers until you’ve made as many layers as you wish, ending with a coating of sauce and a layer of mozzarella.  You can sprinkle in Parmesan at any point including on the top of the final layer of mozzarella. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes or until hot, bubbling and the top layer of cheese is beginning to brown.

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The Mighty Bean

We are a family of bean lovers!  I wrote my first bean cookbook almost 30 years ago and I have a new one coming out this winter – The Mighty Bean published by Countryman Press. They both are filled with recipes we love. Refried beans are right up there with the top 5 favorites even though they are not as heart healthy as we should be eating – but you really do need that bacon fat for the depth of flavor good refried beans have.  This is about as close as I come to making a traditional Mexican refried bean.  I like to make a batch and keep it on hand for making a quick burrito, enchilada or tostada.  If you keep a can of Hatch Enchilada Sauce (which I find to be excellent) and some tortillas on hand you can have a tasty Mexican-inspired dish on the table in minutes!

Refried Beans

Serves 6

1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked (see page 00)

1 cup diced onions

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves – Mexican oregano is great if you can find it

Salt and pepper

1 cup bacon fat

Place the beans in a large saucepan with cold water to cover by 2-inches.  Add the onions, cilantro, garlic and oregano and place over high heat.  Bring to a boil; then, lower the heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about 2 hours or until the beans are very soft.  The beans should still be liquidy – if not, add water throughout the cooking process.  When the beans have softened, season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and drain well, reserving the liquid.  Place the beans in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and, with the motor running, add the cooking liquid a bit at a time.  The beans should be a bit rough – do not puree.

Place ½ cup of the bacon fat in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the beans and cook, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes incorporating the fat into the beans as you stir.  Cook until the beans are a bit dry.

Remove the beans from the heat and let cool.

Then, return to the heat and, using the remaining ½ cup of bacon fat, repeat the frying process.  You may not need to use all of the fat.  

Serve as a side dish or as a topping for tostadas or as a filling for burritos and/or enchiladas.

Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.  May be frozen.  Reheat before using.

NOTE:  When frying the beans for the first go-round, you may add finely diced onions, tomatoes and/or minced garlic to the mix.

You can also incorporate 2 cups of shredded queso blanco or Monterey jack cheese just before serving.

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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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