Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

My lovely aunt has given me the most wonderful gift – the gift of Persian style rice. I don’t think I’ll ever make it any other way.

chelo2.jpg

As you can see, the rice is really not the highlight of the rice. Does that make sense? It’s early. Directly from my South-African by location, Persian by marriage, Southern Californian by birth auntie. Didn’t I say I have a multicultural family?

Chelo

basmati or long-grain rice – about 3 cups
2 or 3 potatoes peeled and sliced about ¼ inch thick
Butter / oil
salt

Wash rice two or three times (fill the bowl of rice with water, gently move the rice around with your hand to release the starch and drain) and soak in water for 3-4 hours, then drain the water.  Pour water in a large non-stick pan until it is half-full and bring it to a boil. Add rice and a spoonful of salt and continue boiling until rice slightly softens.  Pour rice into a large strainer and wash it with slightly warm water.

Melt a few spoonfuls of butter and cooking oil into the pan.  Place the potato slices in the bottom of the pan and then add the rice taking care not to pack it too tightly.  The rice should be in a bit of a cone shape in the pot.  Add a couple knobs of butter to the top of the rice and then about a ¼ cup water.  Cover the pan and cook over low heat for about an hour.  A delicious crispy layer of rice and potato (called ta-dig) will form at the bottom of the pan.

 Now, instead of fighting over the ta-dig with my cousins, it’s all mine!  Bwah-ha-ha!

Thanks, MP.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

So, how’re things?  What’s that?  Where in the hell have I been?  Uh…

Well, it began with THE LAWN. I’m pleased to report that, aside from a little edging and compost-adding, the garden has grown. As soon as it’s pretty enough to post, it’ll be here in all its glory. My seedlings are still doing really well (thanks, Ikea!), so I can’t wait to put them in the ground now that things have warmed up around here.

Then the project-monster expanded his reach. He crept inside the house, approached the kitchen, and knew he’d found his prey. In reality, Chris gave me the lovely Valentine’s Day present of re-vamping my kitchen – new paint, new grout, new shelves, new butcher block table, new everything. I was tickled pink at the idea and so pleased to see the results, but in between I got a little cranky and impatient. It’s tough to take a girl out of her favorite room for a week and a half!

Anyway, it’s almost all done and beautifully shiny and bright. I’ll be making up for lost time in the days to come!

Before the turmoil, I had been reading Julia Child’s My Life In France, inspired by a book club on The Kitchn. Although I don’t have half the patience or ambition of this amazing woman, I was inspired to get a little French up in this biz.  Enter the soufflé.

bigsouffle.jpg

Dude!  Souffles aren’t that hard – I had no idea! 

Provencal Goat Cheese and Herb Soufflé (adapted from Epicurious)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup dry white wine
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 cup crumbled chilled soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet)
1/2 cup (packed) grated Gruyère cheese (about 2 ounces)
8 large egg whites

souffleingredients.jpg

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Generously butter one 10-cup soufflé dish or six 1 1/4-cup soufflé dishes (I used six individual soufflé cups and had overflow, so I filled the above dish also.  This makes a lot – invite friends)!  Heat olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and minced garlic. Cook without browning until mixture begins to bubble, whisking constantly, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in whole milk, then white wine. Cook until smooth, thick and beginning to boil, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix egg yolks and salt in small bowl. Add egg yolk mixture all at once to sauce; whisk quickly to blend. Mix in 1 tablespoon basil, 1 tablespoon thyme and 1 teaspoon rosemary. Fold in cold goat cheese and Gruyère cheese (cheeses do not need to melt).

Using electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into lukewarm souffl
 base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites. Transfer soufflé mixture to prepared dish. Sprinkle with ground black pepper.

Place soufflé in oven; reduce heat to 375°F. Bake soufflé until puffed, golden and gently set in center, about 35 minutes for large soufflé (or 25 minutes for small soufflés). Using oven mitts, transfer soufflé to platter and serve immediately.  And they mean immediately.  I snapped some pictures before the sagging happened, and it happened so quickly! 

souffle21.jpg

Oh yeah – a rimmed baking sheet is helpful.  Forgot to mention that.  Add some nasturtium-studded salad, and you’ve got a beautiful meal that even Julia would be proud to serve – Bon Appetit!

souffledish.jpg

Read Full Post »

Unbound

saltmen.jpg

Most of my meals fall into one of two categories.  First, there are the  straight from the cookbook recipes.  I’ll make a few tweaks and substitutions here and there, but the frame is borrowed from the book.  The other category is the plain boring food I make myself, sans recipe (see: noodles, buttered).  Even when I’m in the mood to experiment, I will go to the web to find some similar recipes to flesh out some general guidelines.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Every once in a while though, I’ll step outside of my comfort zone and develop something totally on my own.  I’m not going to lie – sometimes it’s frightful, but today things came out well.  I’ve dirtied a few dishes with this one, but I found it worth the extra washing.  Try it out…

Caramelized Onions and Brussels Sprouts over Lentils and Brown Rice

Geez.  That’s a long title.  How about this instead…

Tasty Town, USA

1 lb brussels sprouts, halved or quartered, depending on size
olive oil
salt

1 large onion, sliced
3 cups water
a heaping 1/2 cup lentils (I used a green/yellow mix from Trader Joe’s)
a heaping 1/2 cup long-grain brown rice
salt and pepper

First, toss the sprouts with olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and roast them at 425° for about 15 minutes or until golden and softened.  I’ve tried all ways of eating these, and I can’t get away from the roast.  So delicious.  If you want to save a dish, you can try cooking them along with the onions (below).

Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onions, cover and cook until softened, stirring occasionally.  Remove the cover, increase the heat, and continue to cook until the onions are a deep yellow, stirring more frequently.

Boil the water in a medium saucepan.  Add the lentils and cook about 20 minutes, until almost tender.  Add the rice, salt and pepper.  Check the water – you may have to add a little more.  Cover and set a timer for 5 minutes later so you can check the water level.  You’ll cook this mixture 15 minutes or so, until the rice is done and the water is absorbed, so keep setting the timer and peeking in.

Pile the rice and lentil mixture into a serving dish and top with the lovely golden veggies.  Those of you who shy away from brussels sprouts because of bitterness have no reason to fear – they become almost sweet with this treatment.

size2.jpg

This dish is another that lends itself to tweaking – next time, I’ll probably add some Indian spices, jazz it up with some red pepper flakes, or try a different grain.   How will you make it?

Special thanks to Vivian for the salt and pepper hugs…

Read Full Post »

Beanoa

Man, was I pleased with myself over this title. Try saying it out loud – you might not be able to stop.

These days, I work a few normal days and a few late days per week. On those days when I start work at noon, I have time to putz, patter and laze around the house and garden, and time to build myself a lovely lunch before heading off to the gym before work. Of course, when I get home at night it feels like midnight and I pass out cold, but it’s worth it.

Today’s healthful fresh veggie meal was a simple mixture of beans, greens and quinoa. The beans were Flor de Junio, the greens were turnip tops straight from the garden, and the quinoa was their perfect accompaniment.

I didn’t soak the beans the night before (see passing out cold, above), so I covered them with water and brough them to a boil. I then turned off the heat and let them sit, covered while I finished the rest of my prep. I sauteed a mirepoix of carrots, celery, onion and garlic in olive oil and steamed the quinoa with some salt, garlic and mixed Indian spices (I had a small tupperware that was begging to be used – a homemade ground blend of toasted cumin seed, cardamom seed, coriander seed from the garden, turmeric and pepper). Yeah. Smokiness and depth. Yum.

beans1.jpg

When I had delayed as long as possible, I started the beans and added the veggies. They took a little longer than usual to cook because of the no-soak method, but it allowed me to stick around while my neighbor’s banana muffins came out of the oven – score! When the bean texture seemed just right, I pulled them off the heat, added some salt and a frozen chipotle pepper in adobo, and mixed the whole shebang together. After taking this pic, I had another idea and ran out to the garden and pulled a few turnips. A quick rinse and sautee later and this dish came together.

beanoa.jpg

Introducing…beanoa!

Read Full Post »

I’m a little obsessed with my two Chrismas cookbook treats – the first is one I bought myself – Dorie Greenspan’s Baking.  I need to put it away.  Seriously.  I’ve made far too many baked goods, and my pants are getting a little too tight for my tastes.  The title to this post also refers to my midsection at this point.  But damn, the chewy chunky blondies?  Yeah man.

My lovely and wonderful sister gifted me another beautiful one, the Zuni Cafe Cookbook.  It’s not the book you pick up when you’re looking for a quick and easy supper recipe, because many of the dishes are time and/or labor intensive.  It’s perfect for a special treat, though.  Everything sounds amazing, and it’s fun to leaf through, imagining.  I’ve made two dishes so far – their famous roasted chicken and a bean dish that was to die for.  The chicken was an amazing discovery, because using a few of their small tricks, you can turn out a deliciously tender and moist chicken.  It’s all about salting the chicken heavily and early, using a small bird and roasting it at a very high temperature.  I’ll never roast a chicken the same way again – it was delicious.

To go with the chicken, I took on another recipe from this book – Fagioli all’Uccelletto.  Y’all know my obsession with the beans, and the herb section of the garden has been thriving lately, so this was a natural choice.  You should start this a day early (just like the chicken), to cook the beans and let them sit overnight to become more tender and creamy.  I used Rancho Gordo’s Good Mother Stallard beans, and they plumped up to become the most creamy, delectable beans I’ve ever tasted.

Fagiolo all’Uccelletto

1/2 cup diced ripe red or gold tomato or chopped drained canned tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onions
1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns – if you’re not interested in the occasional
spicy bite, you can grind them
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
a leafy sprig of fresh sage
a leafy branch of fresh thyme
a small sprig of fresh rosemary
a sprig of fresh flat-leaf parsley (sprig, sprig, sprig)
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1-2 ounces cleaned wild mushrooms, chopped
2 1/2 cups cooked beans with their cooking liquid, cooked a day or two in advance

Warm about half the olive oil in a 3-quart saute pan or a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the onions, stir and cook until translucent.  Add the peppercorns.  Smash up the herbs a bit to release their flavor, then toss in with the onions.  Stir in the garlic and mushrooms.  Raise the heat slightly, stir and cook until the onions at the edges of the pan are just “threatening to color” (don’t you love that phrase?).

Reduce the heat to low and add the rest of the olive oil and the beans, with most of their cooking liquid.  Add the tomatoes.  The beans should be just covered – add a little more liquid if they aren’t.  Bring to a bare simmer and cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste.

Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature, uncovered.  If the beans seem shy on sauce, or if the sauce seems pasty, add more liquid.

About 10 minutes before serving, reheat the beans, stirring gently once or twice over low heat, being careful not to boil.  Take out the herb stems and remove any stubborn leaves into the sauce.

My neighbor brought over some rice, so we had it with the beans, but I had the leftovers the next night on their own, with some steamed veggies, and it was just as delicious.  Pleasingly, pleasantly plump. Thanks, Jen!

beans.jpg

Read Full Post »

As my sister said on her way through the security line at the airport: “I’m not eating again today.  Well, not until I get home”.  As is tradition, we spent the majority of three days being uncomfortably full, and now we’re hoping to take a break from overeating for a few days.   We had a spectacular experience though, and took advantage of our family’s diversity by having Persian cuisine one night, Norwegian the next, and good ol’ American to finish it off.  Pictures to come.

In case you’re not sick of feasting yet, have I got a beautiful meal for you.  This isn’t one of those recipes where your guests will think you’ve spent all day cooking, but in fact it’s just been whipped up last minute.  You’ll actually be putting in some labor time on this one, but it’s well worth it for the right occasion.  Ours was a lovely dinner with lovely friends before we all dispersed for Christmas.  I’d recommend doing it in stages – make the sauce and roast the squash the day before, and you’ll be golden.  I’m not usually too excited by white sauces, but the combination of the sweet, caramelized squash with this rich decadent sauce is too much to pass up.

lasa.jpg

Roasted Butternut Squash, Rosemary and Garlic Lasagna
adapted from Cooking Light

8 1/4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (3 pounds or so.  I had a bigger squash, so just added an extra layer to the lasagna to use it up)
 Cooking spray
4 cups fat-free milk, divided
2 Tbsp dried rosemary
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (8-ounce) package no-boil precooked lasagna noodles
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
1/2 cup whipping cream

Arrange butternut squash in a single layer in a large roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Coat squash with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 25 minutes or until squash is just tender, stirring once. Set aside.

Lower oven temperature to 350°.

Combine 3 1/2 cups milk and rosemary in a medium saucepan and simmer on medium heat 5 minutes or until mixture begins to boil. Let stand 10 minutes. Strain milk through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard rosemary.

Lightly spoon all-purpose flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and remaining 1/2 cup milk, stirring flour mixture with a whisk until well blended to form a slurry.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or until tender, stirring constantly. Stir in steeped milk, and increase heat to medium-high. Gradually add slurry to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 15 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Combine milk mixture and squash, tossing gently.

Spread about 1 1/2 cups squash mixture into the bottom of an 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over squash mixture; top with 2 cups squash mixture and 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers once or twice with 3 noodles, 2 cups of squash, and 1/4 cup of cheese. Top with 3 noodles.

Just before your guests are due to arrive, beat whipping cream and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt with mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Spread the whipping cream mixture over noodles; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden. Let stand 10 minutes.

I’ve got another week off from work (eat that, suckas!), so am planning to tend to the winter garden (artichokes are so happy right now, but the beets, chard and turnips have been a little neglected), clean the house, and generally nest, getting ready to start 2008 on the right foot.

Read Full Post »

Too Cold

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m not now, nor have I ever been, a fan of the cold. My mom still talks about finding me in the middle of a hot Bay Area summer, sitting on the couch reading with a huge blanket covering me up. Even now, in the midst of a (granted, mild) winter in San Diego, I have on my bed: flannel sheets and a regular comforter topped with THREE down comforters. Sure makes it tough to get up in the morning.

This love of warmth translates to food, too – I’ve never been too fond of salads, as I prefer my greens steamy and soft – a tender biteful of garlicky greens over a crunchy crisp romaine for me, thanks. But maybe I’m coming around! I have a massage client with an orchard, and she tips me in fresh, straight-from-the-tree fruit. It’s heavenly, and this month I’m swimming in Fuyu persimmon and mandarin oranges, thanks to her bounty. I saw this salad in Cooking Light, and had to face my salad fears to try it. I’m glad I did – it’s peppery, sweet and spicy and showcases the winter flavors I love.  I subbed out the hazelnuts for candied walnuts and the persimmon for mandarin oranges, and it translated well:

1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 2)
2 cups thinly sliced peeled ripe Fuyu persimmon (about 2), or the same amount fresh mandarin orange sections
1 (5-ounce) package bagged prewashed arugula
a generous handful toasted or candied nuts

Combine the first four ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a whisk. Throw the fennel, fruit and arugula in a big bowl, toss with dressing and top with nuts. Pair with something warm, for god’s sake!

Hope everyone had a holly jolly one!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »