Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vegan Chili with a Twist

I confess that usually I make my chili with one of those boxes of base vegetable protein and spice mix, adding beans and corn as I see fit. But after searching several stores I wasn't able to find a non-questionable instant mix, so I decided to wing it myself. Wow-ee! I roughly followed the portions in most vegetarian chili recipes, but saw that I had no cumin in my spice rack (drat!) So in lieu of paprika, cumin, and cayenne, I used a shahi paneer masala mix -- an Indian curry blend with cumin, turmeric, garlic, chili powder, and sometimes a touch of nutmeg depending on the brand. Check out your nearest Indian grocer's spice mix selection and surely you'll find this masala. You can also try more generic curry mixes if you're feeling adventurous; most of the ingredients will be quite similar, but the turmeric especially adds some extra "oomph!"

Also, I'm making this recipe vegan for future reference, but in this instance I used some leftover whey instead of vegetable stock from making mozzarella with friends. Gotta use it up somehow! Ultimately I don't think this changes very much about the recipe, but if you wanted to add a spoonful of light cream or whole milk at the end of the process, that would have the same effect.

What you'll need:

3/4 cup wild rice blend, or another grain of your choice (quinoa is popular as well)
1 can of black beans
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of corn kernels
1 can of Ro-Tel original tomato and chiles, or your choice of crushed tomato
3 oz of tomato paste
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1-3 tbsp shahi paneer masala spice mix, use more if you want more spiciness OR stick to 1 tbsp of masala mix and sriracha to taste
roughly 4-5 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
Optional: 1 diced jalapeno pepper, seeds removed

How to make it:

I used a slow cooker, but a large pot over medium low heat will do the job as well. Put the olive oil and chopped garlic into the pot and let it cook until translucent, about 3 minutes of time sauteing every 30 seconds or so. Add 2 cups of vegetable broth and mix. Bring out a metal whisk, and add the tomato paste. Whisk until uniform, then add the remaining vegetable broth and wild rice mix. Add your masala spice powder, Ro-Tel/crushed tomatoes and jalapeno if you're using one, and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes -- you want to reduce the liquid into a thicker sauce. Add salt and adjust it to your tastes, remembering that you'll be bringing in more ingredients. This would be a good time to add cream or milk if you're opting for the non-vegan approach.

Drain and rinse your beans and corn well and add them to the pot. Let it simmer anywhere from another 15 minutes on medium low heat to another 30 on low heat (or just let it cook slowly in a crockpot or rice maker, checking on it every 10 minutes or so). When it's ready, the rice and beans will have thickened the gravy enough to bring the ingredients together. This can be eaten hot straight from the crockpot or served with shredded jack cheese, corn chips or sour cream. It also keeps very well and thickens over a few days in the fridge.

This is a pretty bare bones recipe, feel free to change it up with fresh salsas, cilantro, or vegetable protein. But it's a comforting, warming dish that yields enough for quite a few servings. Happy early Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hot Vegetable Pancakes

These came about from an abundance of summer vegetables and herbs. This recipe makes a solid "medium" in the spiciness department, but it can be adjusted with the addition of paprika. Try this next time you want the basis of a good vegetarian meal -- this can make an excellent main dish as well as a side course or appetizer. I found that baking them resulted in a much better patty than pan frying, but they remind me more of pancakes than anything so that's the name I've gone with.

You need:
3-4 cups grated summer squash
3-4 shredded fingerling or blue potato
1/2 cup grated peppered cheese (I like The Screaming Dutchman peppered gouda)
1 egg
2-3 large cloves of garlic, chopped finely
5-6 fresh leaves of basil, also chopped finely
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp hot smoked paprika (depends on how spicy you want it)
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Combine the squash, cheese, potato, egg, and garlic into a smooth mixture. Add the spices and bread crumbs and mix until sticky and uniform. Using a nonstick baking pan, grease it with the olive oil. Take small amounts and flatten into patties about "3-4 in diameter and about an inch thick. Bake at 450 F for 25-30 minutes. Serve hot with a dash of sea salt and sour cream.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Coconut Kale Stew

It's been cool and misty between bouts of rain here in the mountains. It's definitely not August weather, but at least we're reaping the benefits of the seasonal vegetables! This recipe is a hearty, healthy dish to keep warm with on a cold night and fills the kitchen with the best medley of scents -- stewing garlic, fresh greens, curry, butter, onions, the list goes on. Seeing as I use premixed curry blends most of the time this is also pretty easy and keeps well in the refrigerator. Serves 6-8 people.

20 oz light coconut milk
3 large cloves garlic or the equivalent, chopped finely
10 oz water
1 bunch of kale chopped into small pieces, about 4-5 cups loose after chopping
1 1/2 tbsp red curry powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp powdered turmeric
1 cup precooked saffron rice (optional)
salt to taste

1 Italian onion, grated
1/2 lb tofu, cubed
1 bowl brine (salted) water
2 tbsp butter

Soak the tofu in the brine water for at least half an hour; remove and pat completely dry with a paper towel.

Start by cooking the kale in the mix of coconut milk, water, and chopped garlic. The kale should be cooked until tender, depending on your preference and the variety you've selected this could be 15 minutes to an hour.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the tofu, wait a few minutes and then add the grated onion. Cook until at least one side of each tofu cube is golden browned, and the onions are beginning to caramelize.

Add the spices and rice to the kale-garlic broth. Then pour the contents of the saucepan -- the onion, tofu, and butter -- into the pot. Finish by adding salt to taste. Simmer for at least 15 minutes, although a longer time at a lower temperature will yield thicker results. Serve hot with flatbread and chai tea.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pumpkin Brownies

Recently we had a whole lot of extended family visit and decided to hold something of a country potluck to give them a taste, literally, of how we live. These brownies have sold out in countless bake sales and are almost always a favorite. I was shocked that I hadn't already logged them here. Due to some of my family's lactose intolerance I omitted any cream cheese, but a cream cheese glaze or icing pairs wonderfully with this. Instead, I topped it with a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar and chopped pecans.

You will need:

3 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice, or a mix of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and clove

Set the oven to bake at 350. Combine your moist ingredients together first, then sift the dry ones into the mix. Finish by beating the spices in well. Grease a "9x"9 baking pan and put it in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Take it out to cool and then decorate. Simple!

Penne No. 4

I picked this recipe up from one of my Italian colleagues when he was feeling homesick during a teaching session. We had a hell of at time finding the ingredients, but I got to perfect the recipe when I got home. This pairs especially well with baked salmon or grilled chicken on top.

You will need:

About a cup and a half of dry penne pasta
Salted water

1 lemon
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
2-4 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil
3 small or 2 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, ideally preserved in oil and chopped
1/2 cup chopped salted pistachio nuts
salt to taste
1/3 cup white cooking wine
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Boil the pasta until it's fully done and strain, then set aside.

Take the butter or oil and put it into a large skillet over medium heat and add the garlic. Stir it around for a few minutes until it just starts to brown, then add the pasta, pepper and the juice from 1/2 to the whole lemon, depending on how tart you like it and how much you're making. I usually stick with a half. Turn the heat down just a tad, to medium-low.

Add the pistachios, tomatoes and salt after allowing the pasta to cook for about 7-10 minutes, or until sides of it are just starting to turn golden, pour in the wine. Let that cook off for about three minutes, then turn the heat off completely, stir the pasta one last time, and put a lid on the skillet. Allow the pasta to finish cooking itself for at least ten minutes.

Serve hot with parmesan cheese on top, or chicken, or fish, whatever strikes your fancy. In the summer months, fresh basil is a marvelous addition to this dish, and if you want to change it up you can substitute dried red peppers for sun dried tomatoes.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spicy Vegetarian Sriracha Rolls

I made these when a craving for spring rolls just wouldn't quit and I wanted to add some punch to my regular egg roll recipe. My fiance also enjoys spicy food so I decided to utilize my big bottle of sriracha. This one is time and cleaning intensive but worth it, especially for a large group of people. This recipe serves 6-8 people.

You will need: 3 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup cooked mung bean threads or cellophane vermicelli
1 egg
1/2 lb tofu, chopped into small pieces
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1/8 cup chopped scallions
1 1/2 tbsp sugar or 2 tbsp duck sauce
1-2 tbsp Sriracha, depending on how spicy you like it
1 pack egg roll wrappers vegetable oil for frying
small bowl of water for wrapping egg rolls
a greased cookie sheet or other flat nonstick surface

 Start by boiling the mung bean threads until they're clear and flexible, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Remove them from the water with a strainer and chop into short pieces with a knife. Set them aside.

 Using salted water, boil the cabbage and carrots together for about 5 minutes. Strain and allow them to dry for a few minutes. Mix them with the chopped mung bean threads and set the mixture aside to cool for a few minutes.

 Take the tamari, duck sauce, sriracha, scallions, tofu, egg and put them into the cabbage mixture. Mix until they're even and make sure the noodles don't stick together. Set the bowl near your wrapping station. Start heating the oil to medium.

Put a small amount -- a mound about the size of a golf ball -- in the center of the wrap. With one corner pointing at you and the other pointing away like a diamond, take the bottom corner and tuck it up and around the filling. Securely fold the two side corners in, making sure to seal the filling inside well. Apply a little water with your finger to the top corner of the roll and continue rolling up, using water to seal any openings. Set onto a greased surface. Rinse your hands and repeat until they're all rolled. You can find videos online of how to roll spring or egg rolls which may be more helpful than my description. Practice also makes perfect.

 Fry them each until golden brown, setting them onto paper towels immediately after taking them out of the oil. Make sure to drain them well and get rid of any pockets of oil. Each roll should take about 3-5 minutes, and you can cook up to 3 at a time depending on the size of your pan. Serve with tamari, duck sauce or plum sauce. These are pretty versatile, and the egg can be omitted in vegan circumstances. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Orzo with Spinach Gouda Sauce

You may notice two cream based recipes back to back. This is because cream goes bad quickly and I had a full pint to use; needless to say I haven't just been cooking for myself. This one is a little lighter and probably simpler.

In the Amsterdam airport they have this little deli place where you can buy cheeses, meats, etc. I had euros left over and the exchange kiosk had a ridiculous commission so I decided to load up. I got several kinds of gouda, some of which I left with my parents. I used the aged goat gouda in this one and it came out wonderfully.

You will need:

Salted water
1/2 package orzo
1-2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 pint heavy cream
1 1/2 cup milk
3 cups fresh baby spinach or 2 cups frozen, already heated and drained
2 oz aged goat gouda, shredded finely
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
Salt to taste

Set the water to boil, add the orzo and olive oil and stir to prevent sticking. You'll want to cook this for 8-10 minutes.

Heat up the cream and milk over medium, add the spinach and chili flakes once hot. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the gouda and stir until melted. Taste it and determine how much salt you want to use, then use it. Turn off the heat and allow it to thicken for a few minutes.

I just mix the orzo with the sauce while it's still hot. You can garnish it with a sprig of basil if you're feeling fancy.