Sunday, December 14, 2008

"indian" roasted vegetables

Remember my roasted vegetables obsession? Today I made it ethnic. I've been craving Indian food lately, and on my new budget, eating out has been cut way down.

I chopped up a large eggplant, a head of cauliflower, and a red onion, and tossed that with a can of drained chickpeas, a couple of smashed garlic cloves, some olive oil, S&P, and about 3T of some Indian spices. (I was lazy and used a spice mix from Naturally India, which is a mix of coriander, chili, ginger, cumin, garlic, cumin, garlic, fenugreek, turmeric, cayenne, and bay- but you could certainly use the blend of your choice. I like Alton Brown's, which you can find here.)

Roast the veggies at 450 for about 20 minutes, then kick the heat to 500 for another 10 minutes. Toss with a large spoon about every 10 min. In the meantime, prepare some basmati rice. Once it's done, stir in a tsp of turmeric, a tsp of saffron, and a pat of butter (you certainly substitute olive oil to make the rice vegan).

Serve vegetables over rice, and garnish with mint and parsley. Top it off with a nice big dollop of plain yogurt mixed with chopped fresh mint.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

roasted winter vegetables

My Vegetarian Times magazine this month was all about roasted winter vegetables. Added bonus of eating locally? Vegetables in season are CHEAP!

A couple of nights ago I made this dish for my roommates:

Basically, it's 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets, about 10-12 large Brussells sprouts, halved, 2 large carrots, cut into sticks, and 1/2 of a HUGE yam, cubed. (PS> All that was about $4.) I tossed the vegetables with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, rosemary and thyme I had leftover from Thanskgiving (just throw it in there whole; the leaves will fall off during cooking and you can fish the stems out before serving), and 4-5 smashed garlic cloves. Season to your liking. Luckily I had this fabulous alderwood-smoked salt that really added to the depth of the dish. Roast at 450 for about 20-30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. After that, turn the heat up to 500 and let everything get golden brown and delicious. Once you pull it out, sprinkle with fresh parsley and lemon juice. I served with black rice, but I think it would be amazing with a hunk of crusty rustic bread.

Tonight I made baby red potatoes and brussells sprouts with thyme and a splash of white balsamic vinegar. I also have plans for a red onion, some chickpeas, and an eggplant. Suddenly my new favourite oven setting is 500!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why I Love Park's Farmers' Market #2

I just bought:

1 dozen organic, cage-free brown eggs
4 lbs spinach
3 large leeks
1 bundle fresh sage
1 bundle fresh rosemary
1 large bundle of celery
1 yellow onion
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
13 sweet potatoes
5 lemons
1 lb roasted pistachios

And I paid $19.25. I KNOW. [/Monica]

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vagabond Thanksgiving Menu, 2008 Edition

brie with fig preserves and honey

main meal (served cafeteria-style):
roasted turkey with maple-sage sausage stuffing
vegetarian apple-onion stuffin' muffins
green bean casserole
mashed potatoes
fresh corn and wild rice casserole
hasselback sweet potatoes
creamy spinach, leek, and blue cheese gratin
cranberry relish with orange zest and honey

pecan pie with vanilla-laced whipped cream
buttermilk chess pie
pumpkin ice cream
hot spiced cider with amaretto

Saturday, November 15, 2008

my favorite tuna

I know I've blogged about my amazing tuna salad before. But Dish taught me an even better way, and now it's my go-to. SO easy.

1 can canallini beans
2 cans white tuna packed in water
both drained and rinsed

Add 2 celery stalks, split down the middle and chopped, about 1/4 white onion, chopped, 1 large green onion, chopped. Then season with your very own lemon-thyme salt (or if you don't have that wonder, salt and pepper and dried thyme) and add the juice of 2 large lemons (or 3 small ones). Mix well and serve over arugula.

This would also work well with chicken, or even just the white beans, for my strict no meat-eaters.

Coming up tomorrow: quinoa risotto with broccoli and smoked salt!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


OK, apparently now fake sugar comes with fake fiber:

That's just ridiculous. Wake up, obese America. Eat an apple.

Friday, October 03, 2008


Does anyone find it odd that a big bowl of fresh arugula with the greenest whisper of olive oil, the juice from a half a lemon, and a smattering of lemon-thyme salt is comforting to me?

Yeah, me too, a little.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

the best dish I have ever made, EVER.

You guys. For REAL. This is the best thing I have ever made, ever. EVER.

Before I get too far into this, I have to say-- I am not an ice cream lover. Sure, I'll grab a pint of coffee-heath-bar-crunch every now and then, but generally speaking, ice cream just usually doesn't make the cut. It's not worth its weight in calories to me, when I could have cheese, or olives, or a nice martini. But this ice cream? It's in a league of its own. Sweet and tangy homemade peach buttermilk ice cream. I took one bite, and put my bowl down, walked away, and came back. It's so good I couldn't handle it. I just... well, I have no words for how good it was. I might not even finish this post without sneaking into the freezer for another taste. And I've already had thirds tonight.

You know, I honestly believe that canned peaches have practically ruined the taste of a real peaches for the rest of the world. There is no way a canned peach, although somewhat tasty in its own right, can ever prepare you for what a real peach tastes like. And they're not like bananas where they taste the same year-round. When you eat a peach, it is just... fresh. It is ripe. It was hanging on a tree mere days ago. And it tastes like summer.

It's stone fruit season in Northern California. Last week the farmers' market was overflowing with plums, apricots, cherries, nectarines, and peaches. My LORD, the peaches. I went to Greens and that goddess of a chef served me grilled peaches with fresh ricotta and sage honey. So this week, when my mom & I were at Whole Foods in Columbus, Ohio, and walked under the big banner advertising California Peaches, I raved like a broken record until she put half a dozen in the basket.

Honestly, A) if you live somewhere that grows fresh peaches and B) have an ice-cream machine, make this tomorrow. Your life will never be the same.

6 large peaches, very ripe (I put mine in a brown paper bag on the sun porch for 24 hours)
1/2 C white sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 C buttermilk
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1 t vanilla

Directions: Peel and chop peaches into a large bowl. Add sugars, cinnamon, and lemon juice, cover, refrigerate, and let macerate for several hours (up to 24, but allow at least 4-6). When you're ready to freeze, mash with a potato masher to desired consistency (I like some chunks, but you want the peach flavor to be evenly dispersed throughout the ice cream, too). Add buttermilk, cream, and vanilla, and freeze according to the instructions for your ice-cream machine.

Voila! Easy-peachy. My parents and I ate daintily from our glass bowls, then went straight into the machine with our spoons and kept eating and eating, and then licking our fingers, until I asked my mom if I could just stick my face straight in there for the rest. She, in no uncertain terms, let me know I would have some serious competition. There was a long discussion over who paid for the ingredients vs. who prepared the ice cream, and I believe the terms "summer pregnancy" and "labor" were thrown around as leverage, and rebutted with things like "favorite child" and "nursing home." Rest assured, however, that we all ended up with full bellies and sticky faces, and smiles all around.

Please, make this ice cream. Make it now, and thank me later. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

stuffed mushrooms

I have a confession to make. I am not a meal-planner. I go to the market and am seduced by the smells and colors and I buy what I think looks good, and next thing you know, I am eating arugula pesto over mushrooms and red onions with a side of corn on the cob.

However, when I don't meal plan, I am forced to be creative, and I hate wasting food, so I usually end up with a meal I call "Making Do With What You Have." Some of them have turned out well, some not so much... but tonight I have to confess I rather outdid myself.

I pulled together my last 2 portobello mushrooms (I had brilliantly thought ahead and saved the stems from the previous 4), a handful of weary rainbow chard, a clove of garlic, a sad shallot that I actually had to trim a bad spot from, some quinoa, the last splash of vegetable broth, and the remainder of my peppered chevre from the Cowgirl Creamery, and voila! Stuffed mushrooms that were beautiful, nutritious, and extremely satisfying. Try to think of this recipe in broad strokes; you can easily recreate these mushrooms with a variety of grains, greens, and cheeses. Think brown rice, spinach, and blue cheese, or couscous, sundried tomatoes, olives and feta!

Stuffed Mushrooms with Quinoa, Chard, and Goat Cheese

Ingredients: I am not going to give measurements here. I was cooking for one and your amounts will depend entirely on the size of your mushroom caps and how many you're making. Enjoy playing around with the fillings you have on hand!

olive oil
vegetable broth
portobello mushrooms, caps cleaned and stems chopped
shallot or onion, minced
garlic, minced
rainbow chard, or other green, chopped
goat cheese or other soft cheese
salt and pepper, to season

Directions: In a large skillet, heat your garlic and shallot in a glug of olive oil until fragrant. Add the dry quinoa chopped mushroom stems, and toss to coat. Season well and add broth or water, a little at a time, then cook as you would risotto, waiting for the liquid to absorb and adding more, stirring frequently until the quinoa is al dente. Add the greens toward the end of the cooking process so they wilt without overcooking.

Heap your stuffing into your mushroom caps and top with cheese, then broil until golden brown and delicious. Enjoy!!

olive bread

Yesterday, inspired by some leftover tapenade and a container of various olives from the Ferry Building, I decided to make olive bread. It's an Alton Brown recipe that I had tucked away some time ago, as I am allergic to yeast and always have my feelers out for non-yeast breads.

Olive bread is something we don't really do in the south. I'm not sure why, but I never really had it until I moved to New York. And as you know, olives are my absolute favorite food, and I prefer savory/salty to sweet almost all the time, so the thought of a baked good full of salty, olive-y goodness? I just can't pass that up. (In fact, I think I'll go heat up some for breakfast. Be right back.)

Rosemary Olive Bread, adapted from Alton Brown's Olive Loaf


3 1/2 C AP flour (I wanted to use whole wheat but was unsure if that would affect the texture... can anyone tell me if it's an acceptable substitute?)
3 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

2 C roughly chopped mixed olives (I used green, kalamata, and tiny dried oil-cured black ones)
1/3 cup homemade tapenade, my recipe here
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup whole milk (I used 1/2 & 1/2 because I don't drink milk and didn't want to go out, *snort*)
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1 t ground rosemary

1 T fresh rosemary, needles left whole


Preheat oven to 375.
Spray a standard nonstick loaf pan with olive oil spray and set aside. Place flour and the baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for 5-10 seconds. Pour the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the olives and tapenade. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, milk, honey, salt, and rosemary. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine, but do not mix until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and place in the oven. Bake for 80 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the loaf from the pan and allow to cool on a rack before serving.

The texture is like that of a buttermilk biscuit, and honestly, I think next time I'll just make biscuits. Mostly because I'm lazy and it's just always easier to grab than cut. Serve with... anything. YUM.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

it's mushroom thyme!

Yeah, that thyme/time joke never gets old.

I cannot possibly tweak this recipe at all. Just scoot yourself on over to Orangette's lovely site and do it her way. She's not kidding about the cursing, either. And seriously, don't even serve this. Just eat it right out of the casserole dish-- and if you live in SF, mop up the dribblings with a hunk of seeded sourdough baguette from Arizmendi.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

arugula pesto

One of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco is Greens. When carnivores like my Texan father and my Midwestern stepfather ask me exactly what it is that I eat, I always want to drag them to Greens for a hearty meal. Anyway, for a while they had these potato pancakes with arugula pesto that were just to die for. I have tried to re-create the pesto three times, each time failing-- once, too much garlic (weird), once too many pine nuts-- but today-- today my friends, I hit gold... or perhaps I should say I hit green.

This pesto tastes green. I don't know how else to describe it. It is verdant, vibrant, sharp, and well, spring-y. It would be a perfect compliment to some crusty San Francisco sourdough or a simple farfalle salad with cherry tomatoes, or maybe mashed with some fresh peas as a ravioli filling-- but tonight we are embracing our farmers' market, and drizzling it over a tower of portobello mushroom caps, grilled red onion disks, and thin rounds of sweet potato, and roasted corn on the cob.

about 4 C of fresh arugula (sometimes called rocket)
1 clove garlic
1 t to 1 T fresh lemon juice, to taste
a good fruity olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Put all the arugula in your food processor with a smashed garlic clove and add the lemon juice, a generous glug of olive oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Pulse a few times until most of the leaves have broken down, then give it a whir while drizzling in oil to your desired texture. You could certainly stir is some finely grated pecorino cheese at the end but I think the taste of the arugula is simply perfect on its own.

Edited to add: I couldn't resist adding a photo of my farmers' market dinner. The portobellas weren't uniformly sized enough to make towers, and my sweet potatoes had sadly gone bad, so I modified my idea to the above plate-- red onions brushed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and broiled, mushrooms sauteed in garlic and olive oil, arugula pesto, and fresh sweet corn roasted in its husk. YUM.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Real Food!

Aren't these beautiful??? (Thankfully California tomatoes have been cleared by the FDA.)

I went market crazy today as I am home for a full 10 days. In addition to these beautiful heirloom tomatoes, I got lemons, limes, spinach, arugula, radishes, carrots, red onions, green onions, tofu, nori, mushrooms, leeks, black beans, feta, garlic, plums, pears, shallots, sweet potatoes, apricots, avocados, artichokes, olives, cornichons, pistachios, and beans, tortillas, cereal, and soy milk. Mmmmm!!!

First up I'm going to make this, and then probably something like this, and then most definitely this. I will keep you guys posted.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Quinoa

Usually, when I come home from a long trip, I go on a mini-cleanse. 26 days of eating restaurant food makes me feel bloated and salty, and in dire need of some organ purification. There are tons of unhealthy and downright insane cleanses floating around out there, so I was planning on sharing with you my instructions on how to do it safely and healthily. However, I had no immediate need for the cleanse after this trip, as I got home with food poisoning and my digestive tract was all set, so I'll leave my healthy cleanse instructions for another post.

So today, I bring you an easy and healthy lunch that uses only a few ingredients but satisfies your belly and colon alike. Quinoa is an extremely healthy grain with a high protein content (12-18%) which, unlike most of its relatives, contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it an unusually complete food. This recipe would work be equally delicious with broccoli.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Quinoa

ingredients (for one):
1/4 C quinoa
1 garlic clove, smashed
7-8 small Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
olive oil
salt & pepper
vegetable broth
1 lemon wedge
Parmesan cheese (leave out to make the dish vegan)

In a small pot, mix the 1/4 C quinoa, smashed garlic clove, and equal-ish parts of water and vegetable broth (you could use chicken, or even all water). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is done. Cooking time and liquid amount will vary, but a good rule of thumb is too cook like you would rice.

In a small bowl, pour a generous glug of olive oil over the halved Brussels sprouts to coat. Season liberally with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat another glug of olive oil to medium/medium-low heat. Place the Brussels sprouts flat side down in the hot oil, add just a SPLASH of veggie broth so they don't burn before they cook, and cover. Let cook for 5-6 minutes (you can pierce one to test for done-ness), then uncover and let the broth cook off, letting the sprouts caramelize to a deep crusty goodness. Flip and caramelize the round side as well. At the very end, squeeze a lemon wedge over the top.

Serve with quinoa and a dusting of parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Friday, May 09, 2008

bad brilliant.

OK, so this picture is incredibly poor-quality, as I took it in a dark bar with my phone, but I believe this to be one of the most brilliant dishes I have ever had, and I quite honestly can't believe I never thought of it before. It's called "tater tachos" and it's basically nachos with tots instead of chips. That's tater tots smothered in black beans, melted cheese, jalapenos, sour cream, and salsa. Are you kidding me??? Bar food on crack. Thank you, Louisiana, for being the unhealthiest city in America, even at a vegetarian restaurant... or, as vegetarian as you can get in New Orleans.

Monday, April 14, 2008

mmmm.... broccoli!

I really love broccoli. It seems like most restaurants these days are obsessed with asparagus, but as far as my green veggies go, I would choose spinach, brussels sprouts, or green beans all before asparagus, and of course, broccoli... always, always broccoli.

Last week a bag of broccoli called my name at the market, but a single gal can only eat so many sides of broccoli. And I hate wasting food, and in an effort to use up the rest, today I remembered a glimmer of genius, and searched through the archives of Making Food, Eating Food until I found this.

Mine was tweaked just a tad-- it dropped 30 degrees last night so I was thinking a in more wintery strokes than Chanelle's-- I couldn't resist starting the pot with a smashed clove of garlic in a few driplets of olive oil, opted for some smokey gouda rather than parmesan, and I finished it with a smattering of my new alderwood-smoked sea salt from the Stonehouse Olive Oil Company. The result was a verdant, smokey bowl of I swear, comfort food- even though it is all vitamins and fiber and nutritional goodness. It was absolutely magnificent.

a scant teaspoon of fruity olive oil
1 smashed garlic clove
about 3 C broccoli florets, trimmed of stems
enough vegetable broth and white wine
to just cover the broccoli, about 4 parts broth to 1 part wine
smoked gouda, finely grated
smoked sea salt
cracked pepper

Heat the olive oil and garlic until fragrant. Add broccoli and liquid with a dash of salt and cover; cook on medium-high heat until the broccoli is fork-tender. Strain, reserve liquid, and put the broccoli in the food processor. Pulse in short bursts, adding the liquid in small batches until the soup reaches the desired consistency. Stir in about 1/4 C of cheese, and serve immediately, garnished with cracked pepper and a bit more cheese.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

post-yoga soba noodles

It's incredibly easy to be a vegetarian in San Francisco. Unlike Dallas or Las Vegas or Ohio, where people get all confused and say things like "but... what do you eat?" everyone here is open and familiar to the lifestyle, people kind of assume you are unless you make a point to tell them you eat meat, and I've even come across more and more omnivores who like to rock out their vegetable protein on a semi-regular basis.

Because I work at the yoga studio now, I get all the free yoga I can practice, which means when I'm not working and don't have visitors, I go pretty much every day. 90 minutes of Bikram yoga in a classroom heated to beyond 100 degrees is said to burn in the realm of 600-1000 calories, so as you can imagine when I get done, no matter what I ate for breakfast (which around here usually involves low-fat cottage cheese and a piece of fruit), I'm usually famished.

This is a quick, protein-laden, and filling dish that I have started to make more and more frequently. It satiates me without making me uncomfortably overstuffed, is low in saturated fat, high in vitamins and minerals, and has about a third of my daily protein and fiber. (It's sort of a more filling version of this soup, which is where I got the inspiration.) Serves 1.

1 t dark sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
dash of hot red chili flakes
1 serving soba (buckwheat) noodles
1/3-1/2C vegetable broth (or chicken, or water)
1 medium carrots, sliced into half-moons
3-4 large mushrooms, sliced
1/3 C frozen, shelled edamame
1 T soy sauce
1 t sesame seeds
1 T unsweetened all-natural peanut butter

Directions: In a large skillet, heat 1 t dark sesame oil with garlic and hot pepper flakes. Sesame oil has a relatively low smoke point (about 350, almost 100 degrees lower than olive oil and almost 200 lower than vegetable or canola oil) so don't let your skillet get too hot. Once the garlic begins to sizzle, throw in your dry noodles, and toss to coat. Add just enough broth to cover and let the noodles begin to absorb the broth and let out some starch. After a couple of minutes, add the carrots and another splash of broth if necessary, and cover. After another couple of minutes, uncover, add edamame and mushrooms, and cook, uncovered, stirring every once in a while, until the liquid has absorbed completely. Remove from heat, stir in soy sauce and sesame seeds, and immediately throw into a bowl containing 1 T peanut butter. Stir well, and serve with a lime wedge.

Total time: about 15 minutes. Total dishes to wash: 1 skillet, 1 cutting board, 1 knife (+ bowl and fork). Total calories, 573- fat, 21g (saturated, 3g)- protein, 23g- fiber, 8g.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

real food- book review

I read a lot of books about food. I love the entire subject- history, nutrition, science, restaurants, trends, even fad diets. I'm obsessed with it. I read cookbooks like novels. So as an avid food junkie, I thought I would start book reviews on Food, Glorious Food.

The best book I've read in some time is The Omnivore's Dilemma-- I'd like to read it again and will review it at that time, but today I want to focus on Real Food: What to Eat and Why, by Nina Planck. I bought it in the airport last Tuesday and finished it Thursday night (there's really not much else to do in Salt Lake City). Planck grew up on a farm in Virginia and started the first famers' market in London (impressive!) and the premise of her book is that real food is good for you (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, grass-fed beef, raw milk); industrial food is bad for you (corn syrup, hydrogenated palm oil, white sugar). Her definition of real food is foods that are old (been around for thousands of years), and foods that are traditional (butter is real food; margarine is not).

While I whole-heartedly agree with Planck's general belief that the industrial food boom is responsible for our concurrent weight epidemic (there's a reason America is the only country where poverty is linked to obesity), vitamins from said food are better than synthetic supplements, and slow food is healthier than fast food, I had a few negative reactions to her book.

1. She sang way too many praises for fat and cholesterol. Of course some fat is good for you. Your body needs it to survive. It makes you feel full and keeps your skin and hair pretty. I eat more than my fair share of it- in the form of nuts, seeds, olive and sesame oils, plants, and cheese (glorious cheese)- but I don't see any nutritional reason why humans need to drink whole milk after childhood, or why I should buy and strain my own pig lard. Her opinion (based on her research of 1- herself) is that vegetarianism is bad for you. She claims to have been heavier, flabbier, and more sickly when she didn't eat meat. Barring anemia, which is certainly a valid caution for female vegetarians- there is really no reason a vegetarian can't get above-adequate nutrition from a plant-based diet. If one does choose to eat meat- I agree with her that it should be small-farmed (not industrial) without hormones or antibiotics, but there's really no reason to eat it at every meal, or in more than 4-6oz servings. She repeatedly states that ancient man didn't have heart disease or high cholesterol and pretty much all they ate was meat- and my rebuttal is A) how do we know that? and B) ancient man didn't live long enough to develop any degenerative diseases.

2. Her book was way too opinion-based.* She used selective facts to support her argument. For one example, she wrote about the Clara Davis baby experiments from the late 30s, where Davis gave babies 33 foods to choose from and let them eat whatever and however much they wanted. Planck noted that one baby who had been diagnosed with rickets reached for the cod liver oil (high in vitamin D, which is a cure for rickets) every day until his rickets were gone, and then never touched it again. I searched the internet for information and read up on the Clara Davis experiments and what Planck didn't tell you is that there were 3 babies in the study who had rickets; the other 2 babies did not receive cod liver oil and they all passed their rickets in almost identical timing. I felt like every other sentence in her book started with "in my opinion," "I feel the reasoning is," "it could be that," "what this surely must mean," etc. While (obviously) one's writing is always opinion-based, I feel (hee!) that she presented her book as scientific but her writing was based in opinion.

3. I think the mantra to steer clear of industrial foodstuffs completely is unreasonable in our current time and space. Unless every family in America owns their own farm, it's just impossible. I'm not saying it's great or even preferable, but the average American can't just bebop down to the corner store for a gallon of whole, raw milk or have access to fresh produce grown 100% free of chemicals. I was almost in a state of despair as I was reading-- I am probably going to die from those dried soba noodles I bought from the Asian market last week-- surely since they are processed they are bad for me!! Baby steps, American foodies.... unprocessed food IS better for you than processed. You SHOULD choose steel-cut oats instead of instant oatmeal and buy organic when it is available and you can afford it. I DO believe you should buy fresh, in-season produce from as close to home as you can possibly get, and that corn syrup is practially liquid Satan. But we are a country of over 300 million people- we have to feed them industrially. There is no way around it. And while I agree with all of Planck's statements that pollution in our food is killing us, we also have air pollution, soil pollution, and water pollution- so growing your own vegetables and raising your own meat is not a cure-all.

In summary, I enjoyed Planck's book but wouldn't use it as a textbook of hard scientific knowledge. Use her presentations as a guideline for your diet and be responsible in your choices. I had a Kashi frozen waffle this morning- yes, it was processed in a factory- but I ate it with an organic egg from a free-roaming California chicken and a California-grown clementine. I can live with that. And I'll probably live healthier and more socially responsible than most.

*Yes, pot, the kettle and I ARE both black. But this is my BLOG, not a self-help book.

On deck on Food, Glorious Food: my version of Orangette's version of the Nigella's granola, and Krysten's birthday dessert (surprise)!!!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

lemon spaghetti

My two readers know how much I love lemon, and do I have a doozy of a new recipe for you today! I've been on the road for 15 days, in a couple of cities that aren't very veg-friendly... so I feel like I've been eating cheese pizza and cheese quesadillas and nachos-hold-the-meat-what-do-you-mean-you-don't-have-any-beans all week. Bleh. My GI tract is NOT happy with me. So today I went to the market and brought back my not-a-plastic-bag full of fruits and veggies and those wonderful whole-wheat noodles, the kind that have 4g of fiber per serving.

Let me first talk a bit about Rachel Ray, whose recipe I adapted for this spaghetti. I have a love-hate relationship with her show. I hate her recipes because she uses so much meat; I love her recipes because they are so adaptable. I hate her because she's everywhere; I love her for not ever claiming to be a chef. I hate her show because she's such a dork; I love her show for not caring or pretending that she's not.

Anyway, I saw her make this lemon spaghetti last week, and even though her recipe has way more fat than I would make for an every-day basis, I rewound it and watched it again so I could be sure to tweak it into my own version like, the second I got home from my trip. Which I did. So, here is my version, which is healthier and results in less kitchen clean-up, and is very easy to make for 1, (or 3 or 4, depending on your needs).

A note on the less-kitchen-clean-up: I'm not sure who first introduced me to absorption pasta-- I think it was Chocolate & Zucchini-- but you have changed my life and I am forever grateful.

Ingredients (for the 1-person version):
a nice glug of olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 large lemon
dash of hot red pepper flakes
1 serving of dried whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 C-ish of vegetable broth (you can use chicken broth or water if you like)
3-4 handfuls of your favorite dark, leafy green

salt & pepper, to season

First, swirl some olive oil in a big skillet- preferably a flat one with high sides, in which the spaghetti can lay down flat. Smash and mince 2-3 cloves of garlic, and add it to the room-temperature oil with a healthy dash of hot pepper flakes (depending on your heat preference) and the zest of 1 lemon. Turn the stove on very low heat as to not brown your garlic.

Once the oil begins to bubble and release its yummy fragrance, throw in your dry spaghetti. Toss to coat the noodles well in the lemony-garlicky oil, and add enough broth or water (or a combination of the two) to barely cover the noodles. Let it bubble away, gently stirring, until the noodles are al dente and the broth absorbs. You will need to add liquid as it cooks to keep it from sticking to the pan. Toward the end of the cooking process, throw your greens on top and cover to wilt. Once the noodles and greens are to your desired texture, add the juice of your zested lemon and a little salt and pepper.

As a side note, that photo was taken with my new phone. Not too shabby, eh?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Vegetarian Lasagna

This is another one of those recipes that I kinda hate to share because it's easy and delicious and when I make people think I'm some sort of genius kitchen wizard (which I'm totally not). But it's one of my standbys, I make it at least once a month, and last night, I made baby tins of it for my boy Brian's birthday. He doesn't like cake. And since I don't BAKE cake, I thought little lasagnas would be a great present for my favorite bachelor. He can pull one out of the freezer and bake it whenever he pleases. Plus, how cute are they??

I've had this recipe for ages- pulled out of a magazine probably 6 or 7 years ago, long before I became a vegetarian. I can't even recall where I got it, so I can't give credit, but now it's a grease-spattered, tweaked and marked-up, ragged little security blanket for me. I wish you could taste it before you read the ingredient list- because I swear even the most discernible of palates won't be able to tell that I substituted high-protein, high-fiber soft tofu for the fatty ricotta. The original used eggplant, squash, and zucchini, but over the years I have decided my favorite combination is spinach, mushrooms, and carrots. It's prettier, more vitamin-diverse, and tastes better (in my humble opinion). Plus, I love the different textures of the wilted but still verdant spinach, the woodsy, earthy mushrooms, and the slight crunch of the sweet carrots.

1 lb soft tofu
1/2 C grated parmesan cheese, + additional for topping
2 eggs
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 T each of basil, thyme, oregano (or 6T of your favorite Italian herb blend)
1/4t each of salt and pepper
32 oz homemade marinara sauce* (or your favorite jarred brand, if you must)
1/2 pkg no-boil lasagna noodles
8 oz shredded mozzarella
6-8 oz fresh spinach, washed and torn
2-3 large carrots, peeled and cut into half-moons
6-8 oz sliced mushrooms of your choice (I prefer brown criminis)

*Jamie's standby marinara: Sautee 1/2 white onion and 5 garlic cloves, minced, + 1/2 carrot, finely grated, in 1T of olive oil with salt, pepper, and a palmful of Italian herbs. Then add 1 can of tomato sauce, 1 can of crushed tomatoes, and a generous spoonful of tomato paste. Simmer on low heat while you're preparing the lasagna, and with a nod to this recipe, stir in 1T of butter once you take it off the heat. Perfection.

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, combine tofu (drained and pressed as to discard as much liquid as possible), eggs, parmesan, garlic, herbs, and salt & pepper. Mash up to the consistency of ricotta. Lightly coat a lasagna pan with non-stick spray. Spread about a cup of sauce on the bottom. Layer lasagna noodles, tofu mixture, spinach, mushrooms, carrots, more sauce, and mozzarella, and repeat until you get to the top. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover, top with additional cheese, and bake another 10 minutes until top is brown and bubbly. Let stand for at least 5 minutes before cutting so it can set.

YUM. Now that I've written about it, I think I will go have my leftovers for breakfast. :)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

apple-onion stuffin' muffins

So, I've never been a huge fan of stuffing. Probably because my mom was not a cook, and it was one of those dishes we only had at holidays, and it was probably from a mix or picked up at Honeybaked Ham, or when I was really little, my grandmother, who was from Arkansas, put oysters in it. Gross. I'm not sure I ever even had homemade stuffing until Krysten and I made it last year.

I have been promising this recipe to Chanelle for quite a while. I'm extremely proud of this them, because it's one of the first recipes I actually mostly concocted myself. I used Rachel Ray's as a guideline, because I think her muffin idea is brilliant, but mostly, it's a Jamie original. I think they turned out really well, and vegetarian, to boot. (Tip: you could make these vegan by exchanging the butter for more olive oil.)

1 9" pan of cornbread + 6-8 buttermilk biscuits, crumbled
2 T olive oil
1/2 stick butter
2 bay leaves
4 ribs celery with leaves, chopped
1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
1/2 C applesauce, unsweetened
2 T fresh sage, finely chopped
1/4 C fresh parsely, finely chopped
1/4 C fresh celery leaves, finely chopped
salt & pepper

First, you have to prepare your cornbread and buttermilk biscuits. I usually do it the day before, and I use 1 box of Jiffy for the cornbread, and my biscuit recipe makes 6-8 biscuits. Bake those and let cool completely- several hours or overnight. They should be a little dry. Once they're cool and dry, just crumble them directly into a large zip top bag.

When you're ready to cook the muffins, dump the crumbled, prepared cornbread and biscuits into a large bowl with your parsely and celery leaves. In a large skillet, heat olive oil, 4T butter, and bay leaves. Once the butter is melted, sautee onions, celery, sage, and salt & pepper. Once the vegetables are starting to turn translucent (I like mine a little al dente), add them to the bread and herb mixture with the applesauce. Then start adding the vegetable broth, a little at a time, stirring and adjusting the seasoning, until mixture has the consistency of a wet meatloaf.

Butter or spray a muffin tin liberally and mound the stuffing into the cups. They won't rise, so use an ice cream scoop to really mound them up to the size you want them. This recipe makes about 12 large muffins.

Bake at 350-375 for 30-45 minutes. I was cooking at 6,000 feet so everything was a little different. You can also certainly cook in advance for only 30 minutes and reheat right before dinner.