Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Slow Good

So I got a new book called The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester....and it's amazing.  What could be better than a quirky 70s era Goodwill find cooking me dinner while I'm at work?  Only someone telling me what to put in said $13 purchase.  (Yes that's right, I bought my crock pot for $13 at Goodwill and it's 70s green & has a lobster on it). 

Today's recipe is one of the first I've cooked out of this book.  Hester spells it out for us with a cute little moon icon showing what to prep the night before and a sun icon showing what to do in the morning.  It really can't get any easier folks.  That's how I'll lay out this recipe (minus the icons).  The cook book calls for weird things like liquid smoke, so I adjusted the seasoning to our tastes.  Alas, I would call this an 'adapted' recipe:

Citrus Black Bean Soup
You decide how spicy it is; feel free to add red pepper flakes, cayenne, or hot sauce.

2 cloves garlic
4 15oz cans black beans, rinsed
1 15oz can fire roasted tomatoes w/chilies
1 tsp cumin
1 T herb & spice seasoning
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 orange
Fresh cilantro, avocado, and/or sour cream for garnish

The Night Before:  Mince the garlic and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

In the Morning:  Combine the garlic, beans, tomatoes, seasoning, and fruit juices in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for about 6-8 hours (depending on how hot your slow cooker runs).

Bam, that's that.  I served this with some homemade pineapple salsa and corn chips.  I don't have a recipe for that, but I'm pretty sure you can't screw it up.  Just combine in a mason jar:  canned crushed pineapple, chopped fresh cilantro, diced tomatoes (different colors!), teensy bit of diced red onion, minced garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Put a lid on it; shake it up; let it sit while the soup is cooking.

Here's a 'before' shot of my jar.  The after one is the same just all mashed up and conglomerated (spell check did not underline this word so I am assuming it is real).

Tell me how much you love your slow cooker!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Philly Cheeseshroom Sandwiches

I just love putting two words together to make a new word.  Froyo (frozen yogurt) and broga (bro yoga) are among my favorites at the moment and this weekend I made cheeseshroom (cheese steak mushroom) courtesy of Cheyenne.

Alas, I made them and they were eaten so furiously by our clan that there was no time for photography.  You will have to use your imagination.  So basically this sandwich is greasy and delicious and has way less cholesterol than a ragler ol' cheese steak sandwich. 

I struggled to find the right kind of bread.  I was initially wanting to go the hoagie roll route, however the hoagie rolls at Kroger all contained either partially hydrogenated soybean oil or high fructose corn syrup.  Since my grandmother would not know what in the world those are, I got some baguettes made with REAL FOOD ingredients.  Food from test tubes...weird unless you're an astronaut eating freeze dried ice cream.

Without further ado:

Philly Cheeseshroom Sandwiches
Tip:  If you have a lot of excess liquid in the pan after the mushrooms are done, drain the pan carefully.  Mushrooms are full of liquid!

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, cut into half moons, layers separated
1 red bell pepper, sliced
4 large portobella mushrooms (18 oz)
2 tsp herb & spice seasoning (or more to taste!)
1 tsp oregano
Baguettes or hoagie rolls (enough for 6-8 sandwiches), toasted
Swiss cheese (one slice per sandwich)
Spicy mustard (optional)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and saute 2 min.  Add red pepper and saute 2 min more.  Add mushrooms and cover.  Saute until mushrooms reduce and are tender (this could take about 10 min depending on your stove), stirring occasionally.  Season with oregano and herb & spice.  Add more seasoning to taste.

Assemble your sandwich!  I like to put the cheese on top and mustard on the bottom, but do whatever makes you feel sassy.

And just because I feel like you will enjoy a picture (and also because when I googled 'sassy' I found this picture AND it has my name on it)...

What else makes you feel sassy?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sweetie Pie

By now, you will have seen my Valentine's Day tweet in which I boasted about the gift my husband gave me that night.  When I asked him if we were doing anything for the 'holiday,' he said, "We will be dining in; something culinary is going to happen."  And alas, sushi...and edamame...and good Japanese beer.

I've been talking about learning how to make sushi for months and now that I know how, I realize it's really not as hard as those pretentious restaurants with their sleek white rectangular plates and minimal presentations make you think it is...at least not if you're making vegetarian sushi.

Last summer on a trip to Asheville, we ate at Heiwa Shokudo (and you should too).  Their sweetie pie roll was pure inspiration: tempura sweet potato, almond butter, and avocado.  Ever since then, I've thought of that roll fondly and with yearning.  So my dear root-vegetable hating husband figured out how to make it and taught me too.  The hardest part isn't even really that hard, it's just time consuming. 

Here's a recipe for the rice.  And in case you didn't know, the word sushi actually refers to the rice, not raw fish.

Sushi Rice
It makes a lot, enough for so so many rolls.

2 1/4 c sushi rice
3 cups water
1/4 c rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
1/4 c white sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt

Fill large bowl with cold water.  Sitr rice by hand and drain off water.  Repeat 3-4 times until water is clear.

Drain rice.  Place in saucepan with water & let stand 30 minutes.  Combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt then set aside.

Cover rice and bring to a boil.  Simmer on low for 15 min.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 min.

Scrape rice into plastic or ceramic bowl.  Stir in vinegar mixture until incorporated and no lumps remain.  Allow to cool at room temp.

The Rest of the Story

Here's how to tempura stuff...for a sweetie pie roll, cut sweet potatoes into strips like steak fries.

Don't forget the avocado, thinly slice it.

Depending on what kind of almond butter you're using (i.e. how spreadable is it), you may need to thin it down with a splash of soy sauce.

Assembly Required

Get your bamboo rolly mat.  Put your yaki sushi nori (seaweed) on there.  Get yo' fingers moistened and use your hands to spread a thin, even layer of rice onto the seaweed, leaving one finger width at the top and bottom.  Place the sweet potatoes and avocado in a line at the edge of the rice on the side closest to you.  Use the mat to roll it like a sleeping bag girl scout style (making sure that the mat doesn't get rolled up too).  Transfer to a cutting board and cut the roll in half; then cut both halves into 3 equal pieces.  Put a dollop of almond butter on the top of each piece.  (Spreading the almond butter on the rice before rolling just doesn't work...very messy).

If you want the rice to be on the outside, flip the seaweed over so the rice faces down.  Spread a thin line of almond butter on the seaweed end closest to you.  Tack your tempura sweet potato on top and place the avocado slices behind the sweet pots.  Continue as above.

Beautifully arrange your sushi and dig in.  Alternatively, you can have a sushi burrito (cut your roll in half only) which is great for a midnight snack.

So now you know the basics:  the bamboo rolly mat, the seaweed, and the rice.  Now start stealing menus from those pretentious (yet delicious) sushi joints around town and start making your own veggie rolls.  Let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just Beet It

Last night we hit a milestone.  I made the first meal my husband didn't like.  He wanted me to tell you that he had an 'almond butter and fig preserve' sandwich instead.  He doesn't want you to judge him and he doesn't want you to think he's a picky eater--he's just not that into parsnips (or other root vegetables).

The inspiration for this meal came from a potluck party where a friend made a green salad with beets.  I've never had a beet.  When I think of beets, I think of Doug Funnie and Dwight Schrute.  Someone told me they tasted like grass.  Needless to say, I was terrified.  Then someone else told me they would turn my pee pink; I thought this was very helpful information seeing as how I imagine my pee would be pink if I were bleeding internally.  So I had a chunk of beet.  It was not amazing and it did not suck.  But it was so pretty I decided to try my hand with beets.

[I have to interrupt this post because someone is playing Wilson Phillips and all I can think of is Bridesmaids....okay, I have very seriously air-drummed and mimed this song and am ready to continue posting.  I realize I did not have to tell you this, but I did anyway.  Get over it.]

If you've never handled a beet before, I recommend checking out this page.  They can get a little messy, but now my cutting board is pink for Valentine's Day.  I've also never cooked with turnips; Real Simple featured them this month, so I thought I'd throw them into the mix.  And then, there's the dreaded parsnip (which I happen to like).  Parsnips look like elderly carrots: skinnier, wrinkly, gone gray, with a slightly withered look.

With minimal seasoning, this dish lets the taste of each individual vegetable shine through.  If, however, you have picky eaters around, you could whip up some Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette and toss with the veggies for a sweet tangy finish.

Roasted Root Vegetable Medley
This was real easy to make...you just cut everything up and put it in the oven and fuggettabowdit. You can cut the vegetables into matchsticks, cubes, chunks, or all of the above--it's your work of art!

8-12 slender carrots, peeled and cut
3 medium turnips, cut
4-6 parsnips, peeled and cut
3-4 small beets, trimmed, peeled and cut
1 medium sweet potato, cut
2 T olive oil
3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss cut veggies with oil and season with salt & pepper.  Spread vegetables and rosemary in thin layer onto large baking sheet.  Roast for 40 min or until golden on the edges, stirring halfway through.  Toss with vinaigrette for extra pizazz. 

Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette
A refreshing take on honey mustard.

3 T Apple cider vinegar
2 tsp good quality maple syrup
3tsp Dijon mustard

Whisk all ingredients until combined.

And I would like to point out that I have kept my resolution of blogging twice a month--so far!  Let me know your favorite root veggie.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bake It til You Make It

That's right folks, it's 2012 & I'm back at the blog with the hopefully manageable New Year's resolution of posting twice per month.  I'll need your help via encouragement and comments to keep it going all year long!

The inspiration for today's post comes from the red Dutch oven I got for Christmas.  I always thought you needed a Dutch oven to make cool things like risotto.  Well it turns out that BHG just prefers to photograph stuff in Dutch ovens because they look cool.  So I used a recipe from their feature on Ellie Krieger for Butternut Squash Risotto to break in my new cookware.  Turns out, you don't specifically need a Dutch oven to make risotto--unless you want to bake it.

Risotto marries the creaminess you crave when the weather gets blah with the low fat content to which you resolved to ascribe in the new year.  Arborio rice, the main ingredient, is super starchy and as you continue to add liquid and stir, the dish thickens.  Unfortunately the stirring and the adding liquid are the drawbacks to making risotto.  Traditional recipes call for adding 1/2 cup of liquid at a time, usually taking 30 minutes or so.  If your powers of awareness are running on high, you could probably turn this into a mindfulness meditation of sorts (which is another thing I need to get back into the habit of this year).  For some of us, however, 30 minutes chained to the stove is not feasible--and that's why I'm giving you the option to bake it til you make it (I'm sure risotto aficionados consider baked risotto to be faked risotto).
Depending on how much time you have for dinner, you can follow the stove top directions or the oven directions.  Also feel free to sub out the pumpkin puree for a 10oz package of frozen butternut squash puree. 

(Baked) Pumpkin Risotto
Italicized instructions are for the stove top prep method so read carefully!

5 cups vegetable broth (low-sodium is best)
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (i.e. Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)
1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin puree
2 T chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup shredded hard cheese (i.e. Parmesan, Asiago, Reggiano)
Salt & pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan heat broth until hot but not boiling.  Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a Dutch oven (or large oven-safe pot with tight-fitting lid) heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion.  Cook and stir for 6-8 minutes until softened but not browned.  Add rice; cook and stir for 1 minute.  Add wine and simmer about 2 minutes, stirring constantly until it is absorbed.

Add 1/2 cup of hot broth.  Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it is absorbed.  Repeat with the remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, allowing each addition to absorb before adding more, about 30 minutes total.

Add all the broth and bring mixture to a boil.  Cover and bake for 35 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed, stirring halfway through.

Add cheese and mix well. Add pumpkin and sage.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Both times I made this dish, I did not put any salt in it.  The flavor of the cheese and sage was enough!  Enjoy with some dark leafy greens and a glass of the white wine you used in the recipe.  Bon appetit!