16 December 2011

Vegan New Mexican Enchiladas

We don't go out for Mexican food much because there is always some kind of problem either with lard in the beans, chicken stock in the rice, or tiny bits of beef in my food.  But I was reminded how good Mexican food can be when my sister-in-law made what I like to call "stacked" enchiladas for my nephew's birthday party.  According to my brother, traditional New Mexican enchiladas are always stacked, and filled with only cheese.  Marilyn's were deliciously non traditional and included whole black beans and yellow squash.  She served them with Spanish rice and a salad with spicy dressing.

I had been meaning to make the vegan enchiladas I had at Local Harvest Cafe, so I decided to make a combination of those and Marilyn's.   Obviously you can make enchiladas out of anything you like, but here is what I made out of what I had in the house.  I think it turned out pretty well. 
  • 10 Corn tortillas - organic if you avoid GMOs
  • 1 Can refried beans - vegetarian
  • 1 onion - sauteed
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 3 T nutritional yeast
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups of enchilada sauce or homemade tomato and hot pepper puree
  • A few handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese - I used this vegan mozzarella because I wanted to test it on something other than pizza, on which it is not that great. 

First, to make the vegan "cheese" a la Local Harvest Cafe: Bake the sweet potato and allow to cool.  Peel and place in blender with nutritional yeast and a good splash of olive oil.  Blend until consistent.

Lightly oil the bottom of a baking dish and cover with a single layer of tortillas.  Next, spread the refried beans evenly over the tortillas.  Top beans with a layer of fresh spinach, followed by a layer of onions, followed by another layer of tortillas.  Now spread a layer of the sweet potato mixture evenly over tortillas and top with more spinach and a layer of peppers.  Finish with a final layer of tortillas and completely cover the top with enchilada sauce so every bit of tortilla is completely moistened.  Sprinkle a thin layer of cheese over the top and bake in 350 oven for 35-45 mins.  Allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving as you would a lasagna.

I also served mine with Spanish rice and a salad of cabbage, avocado and lime juice.

02 December 2011

Pig-Free BST Sandwich

Thanks to my favourite food blogger in the world for hipping me to this veggie "bacon" recipe.  After a recent household debate about whether or not to toast the bread on a BLT, it seemed like it was a good excuse to finally try this out.  It's a BST because I felt like using spinach.  And I used American yellow mustard because that's what I had on my very first BLT at Venture when I was in grade school.  I'm on the no toasting side of the argument, so that's what you see here.

Beluga Lentil Shepherd's Pie

My mom's signature dish has always been shepherds pie (with beef of course), and she's made many previously uninitiated fans of it over the years.  I have discovered beluga lentils are a perfect substitute for beef in this recipe.  And even though it's a pain, it is worth it to sort the lentils prior to cooking so you don't end up biting into a rock and ruining your meal.  So this is pretty similar to my mom's recipe, but with a few more veggies, potato skins, yogurt instead of butter, parmesan instead of cheddar, and no peas because I didn't have any on hand.
2 cups beluga lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 medium carrots chopped
1 onion chopped
1/2 a yellow turnip peeled and chopped
4 medium russet potatoes chopped with skins
1/2 cup greek yogurt
parmesan, salt, pepper, olive oil

In a small pot, cook the lentils until almost all of the water has cooked off.  Set aside.  In a larger pot, boil the potatoes until soft, drain and mash with the yogurt.  Set aside.  In a large pot, saute the onion, carrot, and turnip in olive oil until soft.  Combine vegetables with lentils, season to taste, and pack tightly into a small casserole dish.  Top lentils with mashed potatoes and pack tightly, keeping surface as level as possible.  Top with parmesan cheese.  Bake covered in 350 oven for 25 mins and finish in broiler for another 5 with the lid off.  Serve in squares.

Wild Mushroom Macaroni and Three Cheeses with Truffle Oil

I love eating healthy most of the time, but I'm also a sucker for creamy pastas.  I happened upon this recipe right after I procured some fresh chanterelle and hen of the woods mushrooms in a Central West End alley.  Plus I had all of the other ingredients on hand already, so this dish was destined to be a part of our Sunday dinner.  I've adapted the original recipe to make it vegetarian, plus a few other changes. 
Please see the link for cooking instructions!

1 1/2 cups finely sliced chanterelle mushrooms
1 1/2 cups sliced hen of the woods mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp sherry
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
3 cup goat milk, warmed
4 oz herb chevre, crumbled
4 oz sharp white cheddar, shredded
4 oz parmigiano reggiano, separated in 2 2oz piles
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp fresh sage, minced
2-3 tbsp white truffle oil, depending on how strong you like it (yes, this is some rich mac-n-cheese)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup panko
10 oz elbow pasta - i used a corn based pasta and it worked well
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

14 October 2011

Zucchini Cakes

I used this recipe down to a tee, so I'm not going to bother reposting.  But I want you all to know that I was absolutely floored by how much these resembled crab cakes, and not in the gross way that Match crabmeat does.  Apparently the flavour is all from the Old Bay Seasoning, but the texture from the potatoes and zucchini is truly remarkable.  Here are a few photos of the process and finished product.

Personal Avocado Salad Bowls

Like guacamole, but not mushed up, and with other salady things thrown in.  On this particular evening, I had no lettuce, so in went spinach and radishes, along with the usual tomatoes, cilantro (that's coriander to you Shaheen) onions and garlic.  Plus it's fun to eat out of the skin!

Raw Sprouted Hummus

With raw hummus, rather than boiling the chick peas, you soak them overnight, then leave them to sprout for a few days, rinsing occasionally.  This supposedly allows the enzymes that help you digest beans to remain in the beans.  So maybe the stupid paleo diet people could eat this.
 After the sprouts are a half inch long, blanch the beans in just under boiling water.  Then make hummus as you normally would with tahini, lemon juice and salt to taste.  And if you want to make it Eileenskitchen style, then add a load of cayenne pepper as well.

30 August 2011

Farmers Market Concoction 2011

When you have awesome produce, but no inspiration for what to do with it, and the following day you're leaving town for two weeks, what do you do?  Cut it up, cook it, toss it in a bowl with some stuff and chow down.  If you keep it simple, you can't really go wrong, because vegetables are delicious.  This year's concoction went as follows:

1 bunch swiss chard, chopped and sauteed with garlic and onionsin grapeseed oil
2 ears corn, roasted over the stove flame, and kernels cut off
3 heirloom tomatoes, chopped
Basil stolen from neighbors alley since I killed mine.
Toss all of this with the thickest balsamic vinegar you can get your hands on, salt and pepper and enjoy!

Quinoa Cakes

garnished with "mustard" habaneros from the garden

The base recipe for these cakes I got from Vegetarian Times.  As usual I added things and left out things I didn't have on hand.  They are pretty darn delicious, and turned out to be very handy for throwing into my bag for snacking during a busy week.  

1) First make the base: 2 T flour, 3 T tahini, 1 1/2 T red wine vinegar, 1 egg - whisk these together.
2) Then add any combination of the following, about 2 cups worth: grated raw sweet potato, cooked quinoa, cooked millet, cooked lentils, cooked and mashed beans.
3) Then add any combination of the following, about 1 cups worth: Finely diced sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped nuts, thawed and drained frozen spinach, crumbly cheese, thinly sliced hot peppers.
4) Finally, add a few T of diced onion and garlic and herbs and salt to preference.

Set oven to 400 degrees, apply a thin layer of coconut oil to baking sheet, and form mixture into cakes about as big as your palm.  Any bigger and they'll fall apart.  Bake cakes on sheet for about 15 mins per side or until lightly browned.  Serve with sauce made from pureed roasted red peppers and almonds. 

22 July 2011

Raw Tacos

If you are not familiar with Charlie Trotter, he is a genius, and one of his mottoes is "food doesn't have to be rich to taste good."  Instead of relying on butter, salt and cream, he takes the time to lift and support the natural flavours of the vegetables.  Charlie wrote an amazing book of impossible recipes simply titled RAW.  So when I ate at his restaurant in Chicago several years ago, I could have ordered the vegetable menu, one of two printed choices, but my friend dared me to ask for a raw menu.  I knew that for it to be truly raw, it had to be vegetarian, so I wasn't worried.  It was and is the best meal I've ever had.  If you are in Chicago, have money to burn, and want to spend 4-5 hours eating, then this is the place for you. 

More recently I had a delicious meal at St. Louis' first and only raw restaurant, Puravegan.  You really do feel a lot better after eating food like this.  It makes you wonder why you ever bother with the stuff that makes you want to lie down after you eat it.

So anyway, I totally ripped off this idea from a really great blog my friend alerted me to called My New Roots.  I'll let you get the recipe from her, but I made of few changes of course.  I forgot to buy cashews, so I used tahini in place of the cashew cream.  I used kale instead of cabbage as taco "shells."  I included zucchini and corn in the salsa.  And I was worried (unnecessarily) about not being full enough, so I also made a few with sprouted grain tortillas.  We both agree that the kale leaves were better than the tortillas for this particular taco filling.  And unlike so many raw dishes, this didn't take too long to put together.

Red Salad

My cousin in law always talks about her green soup, where anything green is a possible ingredient.  So I thought I'd apply that method to a salad with all red ingredients.  Ends up tasting like cole slaw no matter what you do, but that's a good thing.  This incarnation included red cabbage, red onions, red bell peppers, radishes, red beets - all shredded or julienned, and tomatoes in a red wine vinaigrette.  What other colors is this possible with I wonder?  Orange perhaps?  But I bet that would just end up tasting like baby food.

18 June 2011

Big Salad

This is a favorite at our house and we eat it once a week.  I don't really like to plan it out too much.  I just throw everything salad-y in and it is always good.  The tofu is nice for it's texture but it's certainly not necessary with the chick peas and nuts covering the protein requirement.   Here are the ingredients:

Baked tofu (see shitake stir fry for recipe,) chick peas, crushed almonds, green onions from the garden, avocado, grape tomatoes, sliced carrots, shredded radish, fresh herbs from the garden, sliced red onion, thin sliced beets, julienne red bell pepper, cucumber half moons (not pictured,) bleu cheese (not pictured,) and your favorite dressing - mine is a simple vinaigrette made of balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.   Toss all of this with the greens of your choice!  Sadly, my romaine lettuce has already bolted thanks to the heat.  So I used some leftover napa cabbage and spinach for the base of this salad.  Cabbage is more nutritious than lettuce any way, plus it is crunchier, so I highly recommend this for your next big salad!  These are all pretty sturdy ingredients, so go ahead and dress the whole thing, and throw the rest in the fridge for lunch tomorrow.  It will be different, but I quite like my veggies marinated over night. 

Side note, I ended up not using the beets in the salad when I got the idea to make beet crisps.  They were delicious, but I will wait to tell you all about it in a different post.

Pasta with Shitakes and Smoked Tomato Sauce

I still adore the basic preparation of Shitake pasta I posted back in May, but I wanted to try something a little different.  However, I had no plan, so I just started digging around the kitchen, hoping for inspiration to hit.
 Last summer was so hot that only the cherry tomatoes made it to maturity.  Fortunately though, this particular plant was a workhorse, producing twice as many tomatoes as we could eat.  I absolutely love my stovetop smoker, and tomatoes are my favorite thing to smoke in it, so every time there were excess tomatoes, into the smoker they went.  And every time there were excess smoked tomatoes, into the freezer they went!  Even though I recently moved everything from the old freezer to the new, I had forgotten I still had a container of smoked tomatoes. 

While waiting for the tomatoes to thaw, cook your favorite noodles, roast some garlic, and saute the shitakes until they start to get a little dry.  Once the tomatoes are thawed, puree them with the garlic, a fair amount of salt, and a little olive oil.  Heat the sauce in a saucepan, then plate the noodles, mushrooms, and sauce.  Or maybe the mushrooms on top, I haven't decided which is better.  I served this with some broccolini that I baked with a little oil and garlic for 20 mins at 350. 

02 June 2011

Ligurian Potato Salad

We recently watched an episode of Lidia's Italy, where she made Insalata Patate Tedesca, or German Potato Salad.  She says it's a popular dish in Liguria on the northwestern coast of Italy.  Kurt suggested this be our contribution to our friend's Memorial Day Barbeque and I thought it a grand idea.  Especially since I needed an excuse to harvest a couple of scallions from the yard:
Below is Lidia's recipe, with my own changes noted:
2½ pounds red potatoes (she says to peel them, but I only peeled half of them for colour)
1 cup scallions , finely chopped
¾ cup sweet dill pickles, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces slab bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces 1/2 c red cabbage, 1/4 cup red onion diced finely (plus a tiny drop of liquid smoke)3 tablespoons German-style mustard
⅓ cup red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Put potatoes into pot with enough cold water to cover them.  Bring the water to a boil, and cook the potatoes until a knife can be inserted easily in the center.  Drain the potatoes in a colander and as soon as they're cool enough to handle, and slice into 1-inch cubes. Immediately toss the warm cubes in a bowl with the chopped scallions and pickles and 1 teaspoon salt.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil cabbage and onion pieces in a skillet, and set it over medium-high heat. Cook until onions and cabbage are browned.  Add drop of liquid smoke and allow it to be absorbed.  Whisk in the mustard and vinegar, and heat to a boil. Continue whisking until the dressing is smooth and emulsified, then pour it over the warm potatoes and toss. Sprinkle the chopped parsley, ground black pepper, and remaining salt over it and toss well.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

30 May 2011

Shitake Pasta

Every Saturday morning I take a short walk accross the street to the Tower Grove Farmers' Market and drop a tenner on a pick your own bag of Ozark Forest Shitake Mushrooms.  I first had these at the deeply missed Riddles Penultimate Wine Bar, who served local food way before it was the hip thing to do.  I fell very much in love with these mushrooms, and craved them fortnightly.  But the only way to get them was at restaurants, and what I really wanted was to experiment with them on my own.  Now, thanks to the ultra convenience of the farmers' market, I can do just that!  I've decided this is THE best way to prepare these mushrooms.  Too many ingredients just distracts you from the beautiful natural flavour of these amazing fungi.
  • Approximately 10 medium sized shitake mushrooms sliced into thin strips
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 lb. whole wheat fettucini noodles boiled al dente
  • 2 T butter (or 1 butter 1 olive oil)
  • parmesan to taste
  • truffle oil to taste
  • salt
Heat the butter until bubbly and add garlic and mushroom strips.  Stir to get as many as possible in contact with the butter.  Continue to saute and stir until mushrooms release their water and it cooks off.  At this point, add a generous pinch of kosher salt and saute for about 1 minute.  Plate noodles and top with mushrooms.  Sprinkle parmesan and drizzle truffle oil over the top to taste.  So simply and an express ticket to umami city. 

14 May 2011

Shaved Brussels Sprout Pasta with Tempeh

Shaved brussels sprouts seem to be all the rage at restaurants lately, so I thought I'd try my hand at a dish I recently had at Terrene.  
I shaved the sprouts and some garlic and onions on a mandolin slicer and sauteed them along with cubed tempeh in a little olive oil.  The pink things you see are actually Japanese turnips, but I boiled them with some baby beets hence the colour.  I'm usually a fan of brown rice pasta, but in this case, I wish I would have used a more sturdy whole wheat.  Salt and pepper.  This isn't really a recipe I realize, but you get the idea.  Saute stuff and toss it with pasta.  Sprinkle parmesan on top.

31 January 2011

Rasika Dinner

Rasika is an Indian restaurant in DC at which I recently enjoyed a delicious meal.  It wasn't the standard Indian menu.  They had lots of unique offerings, like flash fried spinach with tamarind yogurt dressing.  I couldn't bring myself to do any frying last night, so we just had raw spinach with tamarind yogurt (yogurt mixed with samosa sauce.)  But the stand out dish of the evening was the Chestnut Fava Bean Korma.  Below is my attempt to recreate it.  It wasn't as quite as dreamy or nearly as creamy, but it was just the right compliment to the salad, aloo gobi, and black rice pictured above.
Clock wise from top:  Crushed almonds, shelled fresh fava beans, cardamon in and out of it's pod, shelled roasted chestnuts.   
Chestnuts are hard to find sometimes, but I hoarded a few jars at Thanksgiving time.  I've also had some success finding them at the Asian grocery stores.  Strangely, I never seem to have trouble finding fresh fava beans around here.  But if you do, the canned ones are fine.  The cardamon seeds are what you want.  Break open the pods to remove the seeds, and discard the pods.  A pinch worth of seeds is all you need, as this spice is quite strong in flavour.  Rasika used cashews, but I didn't have any, hence the almonds.
20 or so cardamon seeds
1 small onion, diced
20 or so roasted chestnuts
1 cups of fava beans
1 cup of chopped nuts (preferably cashews)
1 can coconut milk or cream
1 T oil, butter or ghee

In a saucepan, heat oil and toast cardamon seeds for a minute or two.  Add onions and saute for about 3 minutes.   Add beans, chestnuts, and nuts and cook until onions are brown.  Add coconut milk and allow to stew for about 20 minutes.  Keep on low heat until ready to serve.

Raw Kale Salad

This salad is my current obsession.  I had it first at the Whole Foods salad bar.  But theirs has too much oil and too many cranberries for my tastes.  Mine is all savoury, uses less of a more flavourful oil, and is a blank slate for whatever crunchy additions strike your fancy.   Warning: It's so addictive you won't be able to stop eating it.  But it doesn't matter because there is no such thing as too much of this stuff.

Base Ingredients:
1 bunch kale (well washed in water vinegar solution)
1-3 T pumpkin seed oil (olive oil is also fine, just not as nutty)
2 T apple cider vinegar
2-4 cranks of sea salt
4-? cranks of black pepper (as much as you think you can handle, and the coarser the better)

Additional Ingredient Options:
(Here you see what I had on hand that day, but anything works.  I've tried the following with success.)
Bell peppers
Sunflower seeds

Directions:  Dry the kale as much as you can so the dressing can adhere to it.  Tear it into one inch pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle on the oil and toss.  Splash on the vinegar and toss.  Grind on the salt and pepper and toss.  Fire in the veggies and nuts and toss.  Taste it!  If it needs more of anything, add it! 

20 January 2011

Seitan Stew

Take everything you see here (potato, celery, parsnip, onion, dried mushrooms, seitan, salt, bay leaf, carrot and garlic) and horse it into a big pot.  Cover with water and boil until veggies are cooked to desired tenderness.  Add vegetarian gravy granules and stir until dissolved.  I know using them is a cop out, but I can't think of any better way to get the broth to turn brown and "beefy."  Suggestions welcome.

17 January 2011

Cauliflower Sauce

I used to be completely addicted to Fettuccine Alfredo.  But when I went to cook it for the first time, I was horrified by how much fat is involved.  So now, if I want the real thing, I go to a restaurant, and suspend my disbelief for the time it takes to eat it.  But I also really like trying out healthier versions of things and using bizarre substitutions.  This is one that turned out pretty well.  It doesn't really taste like Alfredo sauce, but it almost has the same mouth feel, and lots of depth of flavour. 
1 head of cauliflower (broken into florets)
1 cup of milk (I almost always use goat)
Parmesan cheese (to taste)
Horseradish (to taste)
Garlic (to taste)
Truffle Oil (to taste)
Olive Oil (for roasting)
Salt and pepper

Place florets and peeled garlic cloves in a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil and salt.  Bake until cauliflower is lightly browned and fairly soft.  Once cooled, transfer them into a blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with your favorite pasta.