Friday, September 30, 2011

White Bean Escarole Soup

And again, another vegetable that us vegetarians over here don't particularly care for.  Escarole.  If you remember last year, we tried it and promptly decided to eat something else.  But this one topped the cake. 

Side note: I am watching Top Chef Just Desserts right now and drooling, you may see something pumpkin and chocolate coming up soon. 

Escarole belongs to that class of bitter vegetables that apparently we Americans are not all too fond of.  I think the trick in this soup was not only the simmering of the greens, but also the strong flavored ingredients which must balance out the bitter.  I also think that the addition of a bit of acid helps plead escarole's cause.  Even if you don't like escarole, please make this and let me know what you think!

White Bean Escarole Soup (based on Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen)

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 T olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
6 c vegetable stock
2 t fennel seeds
1 head of escarole, sliced into 1" strands, then chopped
3 T tomato paste
rind of parmesan
1 T dried basil
salt and pepper
seperately sauted sausage (we love morning star farms breakfast sausage)

Heat T of oil in a large pot, then add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients except for the broth, parmesan rind, and escarole.  Saute for 2 minutes.  Add broth, rind, and escarole, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about a 1/2 hour. 

If using sausage, especially vegetarian sausage, I strongly suggest cooking it until browned in a seperate pan, then adding to each bowl right before serving.  Imitation meat tends to soak up all the liquid  so it should be left out till the last minute.  But, if you use vegetarian sausage- no cholesterol!  And no leftover parts used!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Grilled Eggplant and Lentil Salad

Eggplant does not always have the most pleasing flavor, and let's just admit it, when it gets mushy it gets just plain gross.  I have been trying out different recipes this summer with our eggplants, even slicing it super thin and using it as layers in a lasagna.  The lasagna was ok, but the texture of the eggplant was so-so, and despite salting it some pieces still had a bitter taste.  So far eggplant parmesan is really the only way we really enjoy it, and I would still rather make zucchini parmesan. 

But OH.MY.GOODNESS char-grilled eggplant was amazing.  I grilled up some eggplant, zucchini, and portobello mushrooms and topped it with my regular staple lentil salad.  This idea was supremely better than putting it on top of spinach. 

So go ahead, try lentil salad on top of some grilled eggplant, and maybe even learn to like eggplant a bit more ;)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Griddle Cakes: Making Deliciousness out of Leftovers

Who says pancakes have to be sweet?  Generally, I do.  I love sweet things for breakfast, mostly because I love coffee with my breakfast and savory does not go well with coffee (at least for my taste buds).  

Good think Bittman labeled these griddle cakes and not pancakes or I may have had a hard time eating them.  Remember that fiesta we had for Labor Day?  Well that week we had a ton of leftovers, turns out some boys don't eat as much as you think they would.  One of my meal planning goals as of late has been to not throw away any food in my fridge, using every leftover and vegetable.  So, it was Mexican week in our household, and I wanted to make some things a little new.  We did of course have burritos the first day, and a tortilla soup, and then finally a day of griddle cakes. 

I had about a cup of rice, 3/4 c of black beans, salsa, guacamole, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and sauteed onions left over, with no clue what to do with such tiny servings. 

In comes the Minimalist with his wonderful base recipe ideas.  I perused his cookbook index for the ingredients I had on had, then browsed the recipes listed underneath until I found one that suited my needs/ingredients.  This worked well with Bittman's cookbook since it is so large and comprehensive, though I do this with my magazines and other cookbooks as well, it just takes much much longer.  Thank goodness for Bittman.  This recipe is based on his, but suited to my kitchen.


Griddle Cakes

2 eggs
1 c rice
1/2 c milk
1/2 c cheddar cheese
1/2 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
salt and cayenne to taste
a few tb canola oil
salsa and guacamole to top
Heat an electric skillet to 375.

Mix everything together well, getting a medium thick batter.  Pour 1/4 c of batter onto the skillet for each cake, cooking on each side until browned, around 3 minutes per side.  Serve topped with some salsa and guac.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cornmeal Crusted Tofu with Jalapeno Cheddar Grits

It has finally been cooling off out here in Philly, which makes it much more pleasant to cook in my kitchen.  It also makes me much more inclined to eat spicy meals.  I don't tend to shy away from cooking if it is hot out, but this summer had some doozies.  So thank goodness for 65 degree nights! 

The last time we had these grits we tried them with fried green tomatoes...that didn't work out so well but boy those grits were tasty. 

Cornmeal Crusted Tofu (from Veganomicon)

1 pound extra firm tofu, drained and pressed (frozen then defrosted for ultimate texture)
1 c almond or regular milk
2 T cornstarch
1 c cornmeal
2 T chilie powder
1 t cumin
1/4 t cayenne
1 T lime zest
1 1/2 t salt

Slice the tofu into 8 slices.  Combine milk with cornstarch in a shallow bowl and mix well.  In another bowl, toss cornmeal with the remainder of ingredients.  

Heat about 1/4 inch or less of oil in a large skillet (I love my big rectangle electric skilletfor this) to medium heat.  Drop one piece of tofu into the milk mixture then dredge in the cornmeal mixture.  Cook the tofu in batches if necessary so you don't overcrowd the pan.  Fry the tofu for about 3 minutes per side till browned on each side.  Drain on paper towels.

Jalapeno Cheddar Grits
1 c grits
3 jalapenos, diced
3/4 c sharp cheddar

Cook grits according to package directions.  When there are 5 minutes left in cooking, stir in the jalapenos and cheddar.  Easy peasy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fiesta Spread

Labor Day weekend was great, packed with lots of good people and music.  We had some friends over for a picnic/bbq Monday in between two shows with the hubs and his band.  I didn't really take any photos, but luckily the hubs took one with his phone before we ate. 

I wavered in what to serve mostly meat-eaters, and not knowing if my group would be 8 people or 15.  After thinking about a traditional bbq menu with fake hotdogs or grilled pizza, I settled on a quesadilla bar.  I bought a ton of cheese and tortillas (of which we are still eating leftovers), and served a plothera of fillings like beans, tomatoes, sour cream, mushrooms, and onions.  All in all it ended up working in my favor as we had an unexpected vegan in the mix yet the meat-eaters still seemed to enjoy it.  On the side I made a black bean sald, mexican rice, and friends brought chips and salsa. 

The black bean salad was heavy on the farm-veggies with tomatoes, onion, and peppers either from the farm or my garden.  I mixed black beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, and red onion with salt, pepper, olive oil, cilantro, and a splash of red wine vinegar.  Nothing fancy to let the veggies take center stage. 

Party-goers assembled their quesadilla at the table on a plate, the plopped it on the grill which was on for two rounds of quesadilla making.  Overall this was a great party idea, and very veg friendly as everyone made their own quesadillas. 

What are your ideas for when vegetarians/vegans come for a meal?  Or vice versa, what are your ideas when picky or meat-eaters come to a meal?