Friday, August 12, 2011

Creamy Greens Soup

Creamy Greens Soup
I have an ARC of Quick-Fix Veganby Robin Robertson, and will be trying a few recipes from it to aid my review of the cookbook for NetGalley.

I expected it to be great. Robin Robertson is my favorite vegan cookbook guru, consistently creating recipes that are tasty even to people who haven't gone without meat for a long time. This recipe was no exception. I used all kale for the greens, and doubled up on the garlic, the greens, and the broth, but kept the coconut milk and onion the same. So it is *almost* the recipe from the book (this happened on accident... I added more greens than I was supposed to and then had to fix it). I also added a cup and a half of cooked cannellini beans that were indicated as an option in the recipe for a heartier, meal-type soup. This recipe scared me halfway through when I tasted it, right after adding the coconut milk and the greens had just finished cooking - it had a weird sweetness and I was worried, but the last simmer brought all the flavors together, and it was delicious.

This is a great recipe for people who have more greens than they know what to do with! I can't get enough greens. I'd love to try this recipe again with radish greens, which just happen to be my favorite.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer Tapas

Spanish Feast
Sometimes on the weekend I get these crazy ideas and just go for it. Spending a few hours in the kitchen can be so really invigorating. I knew we would be going to the farmer's market downtown, and that we wanted to try seafood from a place that has local catches. The last time we were there they had shrimp, so that figured into this. I also had been talking to a friend about tinto de verano, a combination of tembranillo and gaseosa that is often served at lunch in Spain, and is mixed by each person at the table to their own proportions.

The tortilla after flipping
One recipe I've been intrigued by for a long time, in several different manifestations, is the idea of using potato chips in a tortilla, a traditional Spanish egg dish that can be served warm or at room temperature. The idea is often credited to Ferran Adria (and that is the recipe I used, but I remember something similar in Around My French Tableby Dorie Greenspan. So... while I bought potatoes home, thinking I might try it the traditional way, the overwhelming idea of making four dishes including the very work-intensive tortilla won me over to the cheater way.

Inside of Spanish tortilla
I've never had a traditional tortilla, so I don't know how this compares, but I thought this was delicious. I carmelized a thin (Spanish! ha) onion earlier in the day and mixed it in with the egg-soaked chips before baking, and that did add a lot of flavor. But can you tell you are looking at potato chips? They aren't crunchy any longer at this point anyway.

We will have leftovers for a week, but with the sultry weather and the local ingredients, this was a fantastic meal.

Recipes I used:

Potato Chip Tortilla
Gambas al ajillo (Shrimp in Garlic)
Queso de Cabra con Tomate (Goat Cheese Baked in Tomato Sauce) (Actually I just throw stuff together for this one)
Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce from Olives and Oranges

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Palak Paneer
One of my culinary resolutions for 2011 is to make cheese. I decided to try my hand at making paneer from scratch. Paneer is a cheese most often found in Indian dishes - it is a fresh cheese (rather than aged), but firm in a way that won't melt.

And all it is - whole milk and lemon juice. It was like magic. Boil the milk, add lemon juice until the milk curdles, let it strain, press it down, and voila - a few hours later - cheese.

I will definitely be doing that again.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Salad Duo

Salad Duo
Shredded Kale with Lemon and Parmesan from my friend Melody (originally from Weight Watchers), and Gingered Beet and Field Pea Salad from Simple, Fresh, Southern by the Lee Bros.

I didn't have a shallot, so I used one big garlic clove in the kale salad, and let it hang out in the fridge to mellow a bit. I also used four kinds of kale plus a few leaves of radish greens, just whatever looked good in the garden.

The goat cheese in the second salad is added by me, since I had made the recipe before and I thought it needed something like that to balance it out.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Huevos Rancheros

I haven't ever had huevos rancheros, and I get the impression that the recipe I used from Good Housekeeping was a healthy take on it - but who cares, it was delicious! I used the leftover bean/tomato/onion mixture in a taco salad the next day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


From Jenny Also Cooks

I started with the recipe from Vegan Planet but added feta so this is NOT vegan. I also had no tomato, so I left it out. Delicious, fresh, and filling.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Garlic Scape Pesto

From Gardening

This is the first year we have tried growing garlic, and just as we were pleasantly surprised by chive blossoms, garlic scapes were a completely new phenomenon to us. A few weeks before garlic is ready to be harvested, new shoots come out of the plant and curl around, and a blossom starts to form. If you harvest these off before they bloom, they can be a tasty treat. Please see our gardening blog for information on harvesting the garlic scape.

I originally had thoughts to just saute some up so we could really taste them, but then I came across a pesto recipe and decided to go that direction instead, not knowing how powerful the scape would be. I got the recipe idea from a video posted by Grow! Cook! Eat!, although I will post what I actually did below since I didn't follow their recipe exactly.

From Gardening

Garlic Scape Pesto
6-8 garlic scapes, roughly chopped
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, skins rubbed off as much as possible
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
olive oil

Whirl the scapes in a food processor until evenly and finely chopped. Add hazelnuts (any nut, but that's what we had!), cheese, and salt until combined. Leave processor on and pour olive oil in a steady thin stream until it is the texture you desire. We leave it somewhat chunky (and less oily) and just thin it out with pasta water; it is a little healthier that way.

We tossed about half the recipe with a pound of pasta and some fresh snow peas, because that was what was on hand.

Actually, I used about double this many scapes, and that was super sharp garlic overkill, so I'd recommend less!!! I'm going to try baking the rest on fish or in a pizza and see if that mellows out the sharpness a bit. Scapes are not shy!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chive Blossoms

From Gardening

I am not sure where I first came across the enlightening information that chive blossoms could be eaten. But we had a bunch come up in the garden this spring, so I was determined to try them out. I found recipes where they were deep fried or even sauteed, but I wanted to make sure I could still taste the delicate oniony flavor.

Spring omelet with chive blossoms
I'm not sure I'd call the flavor that delicate, actually. I munched on a few completely raw, and they pack a punch! I mixed them in with the eggs for this omelet as well as sprinkling them on top. The havarti cheese inside was a nice balance, and a few diced up chive stems. Simple but delicious!

Chive Blossoms on Cream Cheese
I wish I had goat cheese on hand because I think its tartness would be really great with the chive blossoms. But they were good sprinkled on cream-cheesed rye toast too. I always feel like I'm eating something elegant when I have something with edible flowers in it. Considering the time of year they come out, they might be a great idea for tea sandwiches too.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Burgers
Snow Day! Lots of time to just watch movies and drink hot chocolate, so I also made the black bean burger recipe from Veganomicon. They were pretty tasty although next time I'll definitely ensure to add the cilantro and maybe a bit of salt, and I was really craving guacamole to go with them.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Conquering Eggplant - Roasted Eggplant and Chickpea Stew

Roasted Eggplant and Chickpea Stew
On a quiet, cold weekend, it is hard to imagine anything better than a hearty soup or stew. I was thumbing through Veganomicon, a cookbook I got for the holidays, and came across a recipe for Roasted Eggplant and Chickpea Stew.

Ding ding ding! Since I had only recently written my culinary resolutions for 2011, it was too soon to forget my pledge to conquer eggplant this year. Or at least to give it a fair shot. This recipe sounded hearty and also not all eggplant, which seemed like a good idea.

First the recipe has you roast eggplant and peppers in the oven, saute some things on the stove, and then let them all simmer together. If anything (and can you even say this?) the recipe had too much flavor. The seasonings are terrific but roasting everything and adding the wine really brings out a lot of flavor. It is NOT for the timid! The recipe writers (who are the people responsible for Post Punk Kitchen, check them out) recommend eating it over polenta, but I just ate mine with couscous and that helped the problem, if you can call it that.

As far as the hero, the eggplant itself, well there were no complaints. It wasn't slimy, bitter, or a questionable texture despite the peel still remaining on it. I liked the taste of it roasted, and snacked on a few pieces before I added the rest to the pot.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cooking Resolutions 2011

Most new years resolutions are rubbish, but really a resolution is just a goal. There are a few goals I'd like to meet in my cooking experiments, and I've tried to make them as specific as possible.

1. Make homemade pasta
I have had a pasta maker for, oh, 8 years or so. I've never used it. It would be nice to commit to making ravioli, but I don't want to overwhelm myself completely. Let's really make it specific and say I'll make a homemade pasta with a homemade sauce, at least once in 2011.

2. Make seitan from scratch
Since I can't buy it at my local grocery store, and using seitan really mixes up the vegetarian meal options, I want to try making it from scratch. I have vital wheat gluten IN MY PANTRY and several recipes bookmarked, I just haven't done it. 2011 is the year!

3. Use the dehydrator
Funny how two of my resolutions are appliance related. I have a dehydrator that has never been used. I want to remedy that this year. My in-laws make these amazing sesame kale chips, or I could simply dry some fruit. Whatever, I need to get comfortable with it.

4,. Conquer eggplant
To be honest, neither Nathaniel or I are sure we actually like the stuff. The first cruise we went to feautured unripe eggplant and I'm not sure we ever recovered. I have a baked eggplant parmesan recipe that I found in a Weight Watchers cookbook that is pretty good (since it is baked it isn't as greasy), and I've definitely had pasta sauces and Thai dishes that include eggplant that I have liked. I even used to make a stuffed eggplant recipe on a fairly regular basis. I'm not sure how to make this one more specific, because I don't have any recipes in mind. If you have eggplant recipes you love, please pass them on!

5. Make cheese from scratch
I'll consider this accomplished if all I do is make homemade ricotta, which would go fairly well with #1, eh? I have made mascarpone from scratch, which worked great and is a good alternative to buying it, since it is often unavailable certain seasons plus it is freaking expensive. I would like to try making other cheese from scratch. Since we have such a good dairy locally, with organic milk (Happy Cow Creamery), I'd like to make a good whole-milk mozzarella from scratch too. I know it can be done!

Thanks for reading. I'll also be posting baking resolutions and gardening resolutions for 2011.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! - Vegan Hoppin' John

Vegan Hoppin' John
Now that I live in the south, I like to follow food traditions when possible. One is to have Hoppin' John on New Years Day, to ensure a year of good luck. The more research I did, the more I realized this was one of those dishes that everyone makes differently. Ham hock is also a key ingredient, one I was not planning to use (hopefully it isn't ham juice that gives you good luck in the new year, right?).

The Lee Brothers, who I trust whole-heartedly with all things food and southern, have an interesting article about the history and most basic recipe for Hoppin' John in the New York Times. There is a great traditional recipe in their cookbook which gave me some ideas about what to use. It was from them, actually, that I learned that black-eyed peas are just one variety of the southern field pea. I had fallen in love with field peas this past summer at various farmer's markets.

Some recipes, like Emeril Lagasse's, ask you to make a stew of sorts and serve it over rice. Many versions are more like a soup, like this one from Cajun Cooking. Still others make more of a rice pilaf dish, in fact that is how Hoppin' John is defined in the South Carolina Encyclopedia. I imagine it is a combination of regional cuisine and family traditions.

Since I'm not from the south, I had no traditions! And since I wasn't going to make it with meat, I pretty much decided I could make it any old way I wanted. The rice pilaf idea appealed to me, it sounded hearty and it is cold and rainy here today. I wanted to come up with ways to replace the smoky flavor of the ham, and came up with a few. I also added greens right to the dish. Sometimes collards are served alongside Hoppin' John, but in a pilaf, the gang's all in.

Vegan Hoppin' John
by Jenny Colvin

2 cups cooked black eyed peas
2 cups cooked long-grain rice (cook in vegetable stock for ultimate flavor)
1 (14 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes*
1 lb greens, chopped, quadruple washed, and dried**
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium or 1 large onion, peeled and diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp - 1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

1. Cook black-eyed peas and rice ahead of time. ***

2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onions until starting to get transluscent. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes, undrained.

3. Add greens, putting pot lid on for increments of 5 minutes, stirring in between, until greens are wilted and incorporated into everything else.

4. Stir in black-eyed peas and cover pot for another 5 minutes.

5. Stir in rice and season to taste.

* - You can use several fresh diced tomatoes if you like to stay away from canned foods, but fire-roasted will add a nice smoky and slightly spicy flavor.
** - I used mustard greens. They have a lot of flavor and cook much more quickly than collards. Collards would be more traditional.
*** - Sometimes you can find par-boiled black-eyed peas in the store in the south right before the new year, but you can use canned or start them the night before from the dried version. I could have also used my frozen field peas, but they weren't black-eyed, and who wants to tempt fate?