Thursday, November 29, 2007

oh, that creamed corn!

OK, like I said before, I'm almost embarrassed to post this, because it's not even cooking. But it is the best creamed corn you will ever have, the kind that people who don't necessarily care for creamed corn rave about. I just ate the last bit of leftovers for lunch (with an apple-onion stuffin' muffin) and I'm not gonna lie, I was sad to see it go- although I'm sure my arteries will thank me.

Hardware: dust off that crock-pot or other slow-cooker!

Software: 2 bags of frozen corn, 1/2 stick butter, 1 block cream cheese, 1 C milk, s/p, and dried dill

Seriously. This is it: Put the corn, butter, and cream cheese in the slow-cooker. Turn it on high. After an hour, turn it to low and add the milk. Cook for about 5 more hours, stirring occasionally. Add salt, pepper, and dill to taste.

As a note: I had some dill-haters (*gasp*) at Thanksgiving this year, so I omitted the dill and it was just as good. I am a huge fan of black pepper, and it's so good with the rich, creamy sweetness of the corn.

I'm not going to post my apple-onion stuffin' muffins until after Christmas dinner, because I haven't yet perfected them (although they are very close).

Friday, November 23, 2007

the morning after

This morning I woke up out of my food coma to this:

I'm pretty sure that Socrates (the gnome on the windowsill) was mocking me. I don't have a dishwasher, you know (unless you count my two hands) so I was wary of this undertaking. However, it actually didn't take me that long, and since I tackled the dishes before my roommate got up, I was completely justified in telling her I left the floor to her. Which was my sneaky plan, because there is nothing in the household arena that I loathe more than mopping.

So, after the dishes, I treated myself to these:

I know I promised you more Thanksgiving recipes, but I had to tell you about these before you ate all your leftover mashed potatoes because they are unbelievable. Thanks for the tip, Giada.

2 C leftover mashed potatoes
1 egg
1/4 C flour, plus more for dusting

Mix in a bowl. Make patties. Dust with flour. Pan-fry in oil or butter of your choice.

How easy was that?? I mixed in the leftover chives as well, and enjoyed with fried eggs, leftover gravy, and a dollop of leftover cranberry sauce.

Now, I'm back in my food coma, so I think I'll sit back and watch the Food Network all day. Probably with leftover wine.

Fall Casserole (Vegan)

Wow- I did it!!!!!

Thanksgiving was wonderful. Really, a lovely day. I am fat, happy, and exhausted. And seriously, who needs turkey?

First recipe, my own Wild Rice Casserole with Sweet Potatoes, Leeks, Cranberries, & Pumpkin Seeds: (very loosely adapted from a brown rice with pumpkin recipe in last month's Vegetarian Times)

Coarsely chop a couple of sweet potatoes and a bunch of leeks (white and light green parts only-- save the dark greens for a soup later in the week). Arrange them in a oiled casserole pan and roast at 350 for about 30 minutes or so, stirring once or twice. The sweet potatoes should be just less than done because it will go back in the oven later. Look, doesn't it just look like fall??

In a soup pot or dutch oven, heat a couple of swirls of olive oil, and gently sautee a small white onion and 2-3 carrot stalks (chopped) with 2 bay leaves, 2 t of ground sage, 2 t of ground rosemary, and salt & pepper to taste. When the onions start to get translucent, throw in a cup and a half of wild rice and 4 C of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the rice is done and all the liquid is absorbed, about an hour.

When the sweet potatoes and leeks are done roasting, pull the casserole dish from the oven and add in a cup of dried cranberries. The heat from the vegetables will plump them up a little. Once the rice is done, pour it into the dish, folding it in with the sweet potatoes and leeks until it's uniformly mixed. Top with 1/4 of toasted pumpkin seeds and put back in a warm oven to serving temperature.

It's the solid, earthy sweet potatoes meld just perfectly with the delicate leeks and the tangy cranberries. The sage and pumpkin seeds hint it toward Thanksgiving and the rosemary gives it a wild, almost forest-like essence, like you could be eating outside under a fir tree. Heavenly!

Coming soon on Food, Glorious Food, apple-onion stuffin' muffins (adapted from Rachel Ray), vegan make-ahead (up to 4 days ahead!) gravy, the best cranberry sauce you will ever eat, and the "so easy I shouldn't even call it cooking but so good it's the last thing people talk about on their way out the door" creamed corn.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

15 minutes to Thanksgiving--

Monday I made homemade mushroom stock. I used shitakes. Not to be daunted by fools that say things like "discard the mushrooms" I promptly sliced 'em up, added some sesame seeds and edamame and served them with soba noodles and a dash of soy sauce. Discard them, indeed!! I gotta say- it was really, really good. But totally not worth NOT buying the stock in the paper boxes, which is cheaper, faster, more convenient, and just as good. But still, it was my first time to make my own stock and I was quite pleased with the results.

Tuesday I made my cranberry sauce and my gravy-- another recipe asking me to discard the mushrooms- three kinds of them this time (porcini, white button, and baby bellas) that had been simmering for an hour in onions, shallots, red wine, rosemary, and tomato paste, so I melded those has-beens with a dash of half-and-half and served them over toast. Hello, gratin! Please, who are these people that can afford to throw perfectly good food in the trash? And even if they could, why would they? OK, so after the sauce and the gravy, I made cornbread and buttermilk biscuits (from scratch), let them cool, and shredded them for my stuffing. I also managed to clog the kitchen sink and set off the smoke alarm in the building. Good times.

Today I made pies and pies. They made my apartment smell just heavenly. I tried to talk my roommie into letting me crack into the pecan pie for dinner but I got shot down.

Tomorrow is the brie, the creamed corn, the green bean casserole (my roommate), the mashed potatoes (my boy), the wild rice dish, and the mulled cider. And then? Then we eat.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

roasted garlic cream-of-potato soup

So, yesterday was a solid 54 degrees and 100% humidity. You know that legendary fog in San Francisco? The fog that comes in on little cat feet? Yeah, I'm from Texas, where it burns off by 8am. This fog? This fog STICKS. The city is eerily quiet.

So, in light of the sticky grey that was sticking around, I needed a warm, sticky soup. There were several potato soup recipes in my new Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons, but I wanted more traditional, baked potato soup, the kind you put sour cream, cheddar cheese, and chives on top (or crumbled bacon, for my carnivores). Then I remembered this roasted garlic and potato soup I had once at a hotel in on a cold, lonely night in Denver.... and bam! My roasted garlic cream-of-potato soup was born.

(I took photos but my camera is on the fritz.... trust me, it looks exactly like the creamy, melty, ooey-gooey bowl of deliciousness that is was.)

The Ingredients:
2 large head of garlic, + 6-7 smashed cloves (I KNOW!)
olive oil
about a cup chopped white or yellow onion
7-8 medium Yukon potatoes, peeled if you want (I did not) and chopped (note: Yukons are ideal for creamy soups as they are a little less "stiff" than a traditional russet or red-skinned potato- they are more starchy and tend to fall apart in a soup, so they do part of your work for you!)
1 red apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 C dry-ish white wine (I used pinot grigio because that's what I had but sauvignon blanc probably would have been a little better)
1 to 1 1/2 C milk of your choosing (I used 2%)
about a cup of grated cheddar cheese (if I had had smoked cheddar I would have used that)
salt and pepper

to garnish: sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, thinly sliced green onions, crumbled bacon (optional)

The directions:
First, roast your garlic, and make your house smell like heaven. Slice the tops off 2 large heads of garlic, and nestle them in a cozy little aluminum foil house. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, & pepper, and add a little water at the bottom so they don't dry out. Seal tightly and bake at 400 for 50 minutes to an hour. Set aside (wrapped).

In a large soup pot, heat a swirl or two of olive oil. (If you are cooking bacon for the garnish then do it right in your soup pot, forgo the olive oil, and use the bacon grease.) Add the 6-7 smashed garlic cloves and chopped onion, and sautee for a couple of minutes. Add the potatoes, apple, wine, and just enough water to cover, plus a little salt, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until potatoes are very soft- about 35 minutes.

Take the soup off the heat and use your immersion blender to puree. (If you don't have an immersion blender: let cool, transfer to your food processor, and then move back to your soup pot.)

Next, add the roasted garlic. Squeeze every last sweet, savory, roasty bit into your soup pot, taking care to not let any skins drop in. (Use this opportunity to lick your fingers when you're done. Then wash your hands.) Season liberally with salt and pepper now, so you can adjust during the last few steps. I tend to be an over-seasoner (I considered adding rosemary) but to me, nothing pairs so well with a starchy, hardy potato like good old-fashioned black pepper. Add about a cup of milk and bring back to a low heat, stirring occasionally until all the starch from the potatoes is released into the milk and the soup has a thick, cream-of-wheat-like consistency. (Add more milk if needed to reach your desired soupiness.) Then, fold in your cheddar cheese, a little at a time, stirring until it's completely melted.

Serve hot, garnished like your favorite baked potato.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jamie's 1st Thanksgiving Feast

OK, sure, I've helped before. But this year I am running the show, y'all, and it is going to be a vegetarian-friendly event. I'll be sure and take photos and post recipes later, but just to tantalize your taste buds, here is my menu:

le appetizer: baked brie with cranberries, apples, raisins, and honey

le drink: wine, and lots of it

le main course: green bean casserole, creamed corn with dill, sour cream and scallion mashed potatoes, wild rice with sweet potatoes, leeks, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds, mushroom gravy in a red wine reduction, and cranberry-orange sauce

le bread: apple-onion stuffin' muffins

le dessert: chess pie & pecan pie with homemade vanilla-laced whipped cream and hot apple cider with amaretto

(Have no fear, meat-lovers, there will be also be a turkey and turkey dressing courtesy of my roommate.)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

books? good. food? goooood.

I went to the bookstore today to pick up Skinny Bitch, ("a no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!"). Yes, I suppose it's pretty silly, but a friend was reading it and I thought it looked cute. They're a bit overboard - I will never give up my alcohol or cheese, dammit! - but they adopt a relatively realistic eat-crap-look-like-crap-feel-like-crap vs. eat-well-get-thin-and-feel-better attitude. It's a fast read; I finished it this afternoon. They have a cookbook coming out in December (Skinny Bitch in the Kitch).

I also picked up Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons as I've been desperate to use my birthday immersion blender. There's over 120 recipes broken down by season, so you always use produce that is fresh and loaded with vitamins and flavor. I can't wait to make Moroccan Peanut & Lentil Stew and I know when spring hits I will be itching to blend up a batch of Puree of Spring Greens. YUMMM!! She also has an entire section of breads to go with the soups, including such wonders as Olive Tomato Bread and Chili-Corn Muffins.

Wait , wait, there's two more! One is The United States of Arugula, The Sun-Dried, Cold-Pressed, Dark-Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution, about our nation's relatively sudden obsession with gourmet, ethnic, and organic food. The second is The Omnivore's Dilemma, A Natural History of Four Meals, and discusses our political and consumer-driven national eating disorder.

Because what's the next best thing to eating, talking about eating, or blogging about eating? Reading about eating.

Edited to add: I also got the Thanksgiving issue of Vegetarian Times as I am hosting said meal in less than 2 weeks. Methinks a subscription is in order. You know what's not in order? Listening to Christmas music on November 10th. Shut up, Borders.