16 December 2010

Celariac Soup

1 large celery root, peeled and cubed
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 quarts vegetable stock
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Dry sherry

Slowly saute onions and celery root in olive oil, stirring often, for about 20 minutes.  Add stock and boil until thoroughly cooked, about 45 minutes.  Remove from stove and puree in batches in a blender and season with salt and pepper to taste.  To serve, place a dash of sherry in each bowl and top with cream or garlic crouton (shown.)

Bleu Cheese Souffle

I had never made a souffle before.  And the only reason I finally did is because I needed an excuse to buy more ramekins.  I served this as a 3rd course and put it in the oven just as we sat down to our 1st course.  Perfect timing.  Couldn't believe it.  I forgot to take the picture when they came out of the oven, so that's why this one isn't puffy. 


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the ramekins
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk, warmed
5 eggs, separated
Pinch salt
Ground white pepper
1 T dry mustard
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
Pinch cream of tartar

    Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare 4 (8oz) or 8 (4oz) ramekins by greasing them with softened butter.  Make a bechamel sauce base by melting the 3 tablespoons of butter over low-medium heat in a thick-bottomed pot. Just as the foam subsides, add the flour, stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent lumps. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until flour is "cooked." Add the warm milk to the mixture and continue to whisk until smooth and thick. Remove from the heat. Beat in the egg yolks 1 at a time. Season with salt, pepper, and mustard.  Stir in the cheese until incorporated evenly.  Very small lumps ok.  Chill the mixture while whipping the egg whites.  In a separate bowl beat the egg whites and cream of tartar just until soft peaks form.  This takes a while.  Fold 1/3 of the beaten whites into the bechamel mixture.  Then gently fold in the rest.  Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and distribute the batter evenly.  Do not overfill!  Bake on the middle rack for about 25 minutes.  The souffle is done when it has puffed above the rim and the outside is golden. 

    14 December 2010

    Quartet of Bruschetta

    While in Montalcino last month, we had a very unexpectedly enjoyable lunch at a little wine store that you wouldn't even expect served food.  We had riboletta, bruschetta and a cheese plate, and it was one of the best meals we had in Italy.  So that's what inspired this little plate. 
    Two are recreations and two are my own inventions.  Clockwise they are: 1) mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with thyme and sea salt 2) white beans and garlic seasoned with rosemary 3) chopped green olives, tomatoes and gorgonzola 4) artichokes with parmesan and little bit of mayonaise.  

    Tomato and Barley Risotto

    I recently discovered an extremely elegant vegetarian blog called The New Vegetarian on the The Guardian website.  And I'm always on the lookout for an alternative risotto like the cauliflower one I had at this amazing New York restaurant.  So while browsing through all of Yotam's beautiful recipes, I found this one, and it was going to make a perfect 5th course at my upcoming dinner party.  However, I really only used the recipe for inspiration, as I left out the sugar, feta and coriander, and added spinach and delicata squash.  And I only used 12 cloves of garlic, not TWO WHOLE HEADS like the recipe calls for.  Is he crazy?  I would have to stay in solitary confinement for a week.

    Carrot Fennel Soup

    I've been making the same curried carrot soup for so long that almost everyone I know has had it.  So I thought I would mix it up when I had my in-laws over for dinner.  I had a bunch of fennel in the fridge so I figured I would either make a fennel salad or soup.  Then the oven broke, and I needed another hot course, so that was that.  I was going to wing it, which has never done me wrong with soup, but then I found a Gourmet recipe and followed it (mostly.)  I added an apple I had laying around and I didn't bother making the fennel seed oil.  I used pumpkin seed oil I already had instead.  And a little sprinkle of paprika to top it all off.

    25 October 2010

    Stuffed Tomato and Delicata Squash

    Simple to make Sunday dinner. I wanted to make "Baked eggs in Tomatoes" but the husband is weird about eggs, so I swapped out the egg for a rice and mushroom mixture. I chose those because that's what I had in the fridge. You could stuff it with anything though. The delicata squash only appears for a few weeks every fall, so every year I mess with the recipe a little more. Serve these separately or together with a salad (frisee and arugala shown here.)

    For the tomato:
    Sautee mixed mushrooms with diced onion and garlic, mix with a little parmesan and cooked brown rice and set aside.
    Cut off top and hollow out the tomato of all liquid and seeds. Then sprinkle the inside with salt.
    Stuff tomato tightly with rice and mushrooms and place on oiled baking sheet.

    For the squash:
    Halfway mash some white beans with some finely chopped spinach and ricotta cheese. You could mix in an egg, but it's not essential.
    Halve the squash and scrape out seeds. Pack in the bean mixture and top with panko breadcrumbs. Place on baking sheet.

    Bake either or both at 400 degrees until tops are brown.

    17 October 2010

    ONE jalapeno harvest

    One jalapeno plant produces far more peppers than one person can possibly use. I picked a bag this big at least 4 times this summer. Most of the time I would just use one per night for dinner. I also did some jalapeno vodka infusions. But the bulk of them are going to my friends Bridget and Brian so they can make more of their delicious hotsauce, with which I liberally top most of my meals.

    Tempeh Cakes

    I have been obsessed with Terrene's tempeh cakes for some time now. These ones were almost as good. I served them with brussels sprouts and mashed butternut squash and spuds. It's also super easy to make if you are willing to be a little carefree with your recipe. You could pretty much use any vegetables (corn, peppers, olives) or herbs (nori, basil, oregano, sage) and steer the flavour in whatever direction you wanted i.e. southwestern, Mediterranean, Asian. I think I steered the flavour in a sort of home-style direction.

    I pack tempeh
    3-4 ribs celery diced
    1 large carrot diced
    1 large dollop of vegan or normal mayonaise
    1 T wholegrain mustard
    1 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
    1 T minced parsley and thyme
    salt and pepper

    Reserve breadcrumbs, celery and carrots and place all other ingredients in blender and blend until almost smooth. If mixture is too thick, add a little olive oil. Transfer blended mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in reserved ingredients (reserving half the breadcrumbs.) Form mixture into cakes and dredge in remaining breadcrumbs. Place cakes on oiled baking sheet and bake at 425 until both sides are lightly browned. These can also be pan fried if you prefer.

    Vegetarian Cassoulet

    So I'm not going to lie and act like I made this up out of my head. Never let it be said that I don't give credit where it is due! I've never even had a regular cassoulet so I had nothing to draw from. The husband has been requesting I try to make a vegetarian one for over a year, so I used this recipe from Gourmet magazine. I did add some Field Roast sausages though, because I knew I would hear about it if I didn't. I served it with roasted brussels sprouts and toasted wheat bread with my guilty pleasure - provel cheese. Sorry about the unattractive squareness of it.

    08 October 2010

    Last Caprese Salad of Tomato Season

    A Vom Fass recently opened here. They sell all kinds of delicious vinegars and oils and I am like a kid in a candy store there. You can taste anything before you buy it, and it is physically impossible to walk out of there without a bottle of Maletti balsamic vinegar after you've tasted it. It is easily three times as thick as normal balsamic and the flavour is unreal. It made our caprese salads that much more wonderful this summer. Since my stupid tomato plants didn't do anything all summer but take up space, the tomatoes you see here are courtesy of the Amish farmers at TGFM.

    07 September 2010

    Mini Savoury Pots

    Lentil Pie
    While teaching in Co. Cavan at this years Scoil Eigse, I had the pleasure to inhabit and dine at the Cavan Crystal hotel for 8 days. The default vegetarian entree was a puy lentil pie. It was delicious and I had it three nights in a row before I asked if the chef might mix it up a bit for me. The only thing I changed was using sweet potatoes instead of normal ones. Either way it's yummy.

    1 sweet potato peeled, boiled and mashed with some yogurt and herbs
    1/2 cup puy lentils fully cooked
    1/2 yellow onion sauteed until brown

    Mix lentils and onions and pack tightly into bottom half of a ramekin. Top with mashed potato and bake until lightly browned on top.

    Oyster Mushrooms Rockafeller

    I ripped the idea for this recipe off from the Vegetarian Times. But their recipes aren't always authentic enough for me, so I looked up a recipe for Oysters Rockafeller, and switched in the oyster mushrooms for the oysters. I like when nature provides the perfect substitute for a non-veg item. Sort of like the lentils are for ground beef.

    27 August 2010

    Farmers Market Dinners

    Here are two dinners I made out almost exclusively out of stuff I bought at the market in the park accross the street. They aren't rocket science; just a bunch of sauteed vegetables really; both served with polenta two different ways.
    Zucchini, tatsoi, yellow tomato, smoked eggplant, carrots, smoked onions, and polenta cakes coated in panko and baked. Thanks to Bridget for the photo styling! The limes were for drinks.

    The corn didn't make the cut for this particular dish, but it was delicious. Precious precious sungold tomatoes, chantrelles and shitakes from ozark forest mushrooms, patty pan squash, kalamata olives, chinese broccoli, pumpkin blossoms stuffed with taleggio cheese on a bed of herbed polenta.

    11 August 2010

    Slightly Out of Control Pumpkin Patch

    One halloween pumpkin left to rot on side of house = yard full of pumpkins!

    10 August 2010

    Chilled Spicy Cucumer and Avocado Soup

    It is crazy hot out, so much so that the thermostat is ten degrees behind itself. So I had the girls over for dinner for some wine and summery food. Rebecca shown here accenting the soup with her awesome shirt.

    2 cucumbers - peeled and seeded
    2 avocados - chopped
    3 cups water
    2 tsp. green curry paste
    1 serrano pepper - seeded
    10 oz. coconut milk
    juice of 1 lime
    salt and pepper to taste
    cilantro and finely chopped green onion for garnish

    Put each ingredient in blender in order until fully blended. Place soup in fridge and chill for at least an hour. Handiest to store it in a pitcher for serving ease.

    02 August 2010

    Smoky Spicy Fava Bean Dip

    I recently purchased a stove top smoker and I've been smoking everything I can get my hands on since. I've also got a cherry tomato and jalapeno plant that won't quit, so I have to keep making up recipes that include them. And I'm constantly looking for ways to reinvent hummus, so that's how this recipe came about.

    6 cherry tomatoes - halved and smoked
    1/2 yellow onion - smoked
    3 smoked jalapenos de-stemmed and de-seeded
    1 can fava beans - rinsed and drained
    1 generous handful cilantro
    2 T Braggs liquid aminos
    1 t tumeric - just because this might be true

    Salad Towers

    After my gig at the farmer's market near my house, I bought a few treats for myself and incorporated them all into one dinner, the second course of which I forgot to photograph before I gobbled it. It was whole wheat rotini with fresh chanterelle mushrooms and a light garlic cream sauce. The first course was this salad:

    1 large yellow patty pan squash - sliced in 1/8 inch slices and sauteed until lightly browned
    1 smoked or carmelized onion sliced - i did smoked
    1 homegrown tomato sliced
    1 head bibb lettuce
    bleu cheese - melted into more of a sauce if you like
    black pepper and sea salt
    balsamic vinegar (optional)

    layer them in the following order - lettuce leaf, tomato slice, squash slice, cheese - then sprinkle the onions all around.

    03 July 2010

    Tempeh Cakes at Terrene

    Terrene is one of my favorite restaurants in St. Louis, partially because they always have one reliably delicious vegetarian entree, and partially because the staff there are so sweet and friendly that the dining experience is enhanced by their presence.

    These tempeh cakes knocked my socks off! They are smokey, savoury, sweet all at the same time. I think about them all the time now. I am working on getting the chef to give me his recipe. Go eat at Terrene! They will not overload you with butter and salt. And you might just eat something that you can't find ANYWHERE ELSE IN TOWN!

    Mashed Frites with Seitan and Mushrooms and Backyard greens

    This one was inspired by one of the courses we had at an "underground dinner" a few weeks ago. Now while I found that whole experience culinarily underwhelming, I did particularly enjoy this dish, especially since it was family style and I was able to sneak lots of extra morels onto my plate. This is about as "home cookin" as vegetarian food can get.

    3 large potatoes, boiled skins on
    1 cup plain greek yogurt
    1 T butter
    1 handful parsley
    salt and pepper
    1 cup seitan
    4 cups shitake mushrooms (or morel if you are lucky)
    white wine
    a pinch or two of flour (optional)
    1 large bunch of your favorite greens
    splash of apple cider vinegar
    1 t honey

    raw veg salad

    Inspired by a perfect "fatoosh" salad at The Vine, my favorite local Middle Eastern eatery, I went to the Tower Grove Farmers Market this morning and bought the ingredients for this simple salad. All local and all delicious. It's easy, and you can put in basically anything. Just dice it all up!

    2 tomatoes
    1 small red onion
    1 zucchini
    2 ears corn
    1 lemon (juice of)
    1 handful parsley
    1 handful basil
    salt and pepper to taste

    31 May 2010

    A few greens for dinner

    I have three large pots in my garden, each with five plants crammed in them. Here you see a ONE DAY harvest of buttercrunch lettuce, rainbow chard, and kale. The lettuce is especially bountiful and I've been making a huge salad every day. All those greens look like a lot when raw, but it took every bit of what you see here to fill my deep pie plate for a crustless quiche I made and forgot to photograph. I can't believe I never grew these before. It's the easiest thing ever. But you will have to wait until early April if you want your own. Greens growing season is drawing to a close.

    Lentil Barley Stuffed Peppers

    This is not rocket science, but tastes so good and hearty. This is the kind of thing I wish local restaurant chefs would dream up for vegetarians. It is a focal point that you can pair with vegetable sides! If all you can think of is pasta and stir-fry then you fail the assignment! Anyway, enough of my rant.....

    1 cup green lentils
    1 cup purple barley (or regular barley)
    1 red onion chopped
    2 eggs
    1 t chopped thyme
    truffle oil to taste
    As many peppers as you want
    Equal # pieces of your favorite sliced cheese - I used provel because I am addicted to it.
    salt and pepper to taste
    olive oil

    Cook the lentils and barley separately. Fluff the barley and drain the lentils and transfer into large mixing bowl. Sautee onion until it begins to carmelize. Add the thyme and sautee for 1 more minute. Transfer onions to bowl with lentils and barley. Add eggs, salt, pepper and truffle oil and mix thoroughly.

    Cut the tops off peppers and set aside. Using your hands, grab as much of the seed cluster as you can. If necessary, go in with a knife and clean out the rest of the seeds and white fibrous bits. Set pepper cups close together in either an oiled deep baking dish or loaf pan. Pack lentil mixture inside pepper cups until completely full. Put tops of peppers back on top and bake for 30 mins at 425. Remove pepper tops and replace with 1 slice of cheese per pepper. Broil until cheese is brown and/or bubbly. Serve with salad, asparagus, or anything you want!

    27 April 2010

    Spinach and Bean Empanadas

    Empanadas are delicious, but they are never vegetarian at restaurants for some reason. Why is that when these are so easy and obvious?

    1 10oz pack of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
    1 large onion diced
    5 cloves garlic
    1 can beans rinsed and drained
    1 egg, hard boiled and chopped
    queso fresco (or any cheese) to taste
    salt and pepper to taste

    1 package GOYA "tapas para empanadas" - (lazy, i know)

    Saute onion and garlic, then mix with remaining ingredients in large bowl.

    Place one tablespoon of filling in center of each dough disc. Lightly wet the edges with water using finger tips. Fold in half and seal edges by pressing together with a fork. Bake for around 10 mins at 350 or until golden brown. You can also fry them if you're in that kind of mood.

    Serve with your choice of yummy sauces. Tomatillo chipotle salsa and mexican crema shown here.

    26 April 2010

    Vegetarian Passover Dishes

    The Torah instructs a Jew not to eat chometz all seven
    days of Passover. "Chometz" is defined as any of the five grains (wheat, spelt, barley, oats, and rye.) The way around that when you want something starchy? Quinoa! It seems like a grain, but it is actually a member of the beet family.

    Enter Greens and Quinoa Pie!
    1 c. Quinoa rinsed and drained
    1 10 oz. pack of frozen spinach (thawed but not drained)
    1 large onion chopped and sauteed.
    1/2 c. fresh herbs chopped
    1/4 c. goat cheese
    1/2 c. plain greek yogurt
    3 eggs beaten
    salt and pepper to taste

    Oil a deep pie plate with olive oil. Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl and transfer to oiled pie plate and bake at 350 for 30-40 mins. Easy!

    Serve with Tunisian Carrot Salad:
    1 lb. baby carrots chopped
    20 kalamata olives chopped
    sunflower shoots
    olive oil
    roasted garlic
    cayenne pepper
    lemon juice
    chopped parsley

    Mix it all together and serve either chilled or at room temperature.

    Oh, and since I'm not Jewish, I also had a big slice of whole wheat bread with white bean spread on it. Bean spread recipe to follow.

    25 February 2010

    Whole Foods Rip-Off Dinner

    Whole Foods sells all sorts of lovely expensive salads and pies in their prepared foods section. So sometimes I go and write down the ingredients and make them myself! That's what happened with these two items. I winged it on the recipes, so who knows if these tasted anything like the ones I was trying to recreate. All I know is that they tasted good! And a nice departure from what I usually think of as dinner fare.
    Greens and Ricotta Pie:
    For the crust:
    (Cooks Illustrated says to use Vodka in place of half the water in your recipe for a flakier crust)
    1 1/4cups all purpose flour
    1/2 t. salt
    1 T. sugar
    6 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into slices
    1/4 c. chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 2 pieces
    2 tablespoons vodka , cold
    2 tablespoons cold water

    For the Filling:
    All the greens in your fridge chopped (I had about a half bunch each of kale and collards, and half a bag of baby spinach.
    1 large onion chopped
    5 cloves garlic chopped
    1 1/2 c. ricotta
    nutmeg, salt and pepper

    Preheat oven to 425. Crust recipe should yield 2 large crusts, one for the top and one for the bottom. I made four small crusts so I could make individual sized pies. Roll them out on wax paper and refrigerate immediately. Saute the greens, onion and garlic until greens are compacted substantially and most of the moisture has evaporated. Transfer them to blender and add ricotta and spices to taste. Process until greens are well chopped and ricotta is fully incorporated. Press one crust into pie plate, making sure to leave 1/2 inch of overhang beyond lip of pie plate. Fill crust tightly with greens mixture and top with second crust, pressing the edges of the two crusts together to form a seal. Bake until crust is golden brown.

    Quinoa Lentil Rutabega Salad:
    1 medium rutabega cubed and steamed until tender
    1 cup (raw) green lentils cooked until tender
    1 cup (raw) quinoa cooked
    1 shallot very thinly sliced
    1 red or yellow bell pepper thinly julienned
    vinagrette - olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper
    Arugula (optional)

    30 January 2010

    Seedy Wheat and Molasses Bread

    Garlic and Kale Soup

    1 c. cooked barley
    5-6 shitake mushrooms - sliced
    8-10 cloves garlic - thinly sliced
    brown rice vinegar
    at least 4 c. vegetable stock
    1 bunch kale - stemmed and chopped
    olive oil

    Heat oil in large pot. Saute mushrooms (salt optional) for about 8 minutes or until they are slightly browned. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Add vinegar and saute until evaporated. Add barley, stock, and kale and cook 10-20 minutes until kale is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. This soup will warm your bones in the winter time. This soup is the soup most likely to send your cold or flu packing.

    07 January 2010

    Parsnip, Chard and Collard Bake

    I got this recipe from a fellow blogger, and changed a few things due to lack of ingredients on hand. I used parsnips instead of sweet potatoes, and collards in place of half the chard. And I didn't have gruyere, so I used fontina. Substitution is my middle name. Here is a link to the original recipe. I didn't use quite as much bechamel as she uses, because I wanted to be sure I could cut it into squares easily. It was delicious and very time consuming. I served it with braised seitan in red wine sauce.