Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Teatime Spread

So right about this time each day, I make myself a nice cup of tea and have a little teatime treat like the sandwiches above made with Teatime Spread, a delicious combination of cream cheese, green olives, and pimentos.

Yeah, right!

I wish!

I'm much more likely to be grabbing a quick lunch like this:

Teatime spread and my favorite new snack, Trader Joe's Savory Thin Mini Crackers that come in a bag like this for $1.69:

WARNING: These crackers are addictive. Try them at your own risk.

These little rice crackers don't look that interesting, but everyone I've met likes them. I was introduced to them by a fellow mom (she likes them with Spanish Manchego cheese) and yesterday we both took a full bag each on our Zoo field trip (with 20 kindergarteners and parents) and all the parents and kids loved them.

I have to admit, I like them with butter. They're good plain too.

I discovered Teatime Spread at a local independent grocery, where they made it a couple of times and then cut off my supply. Happily, they told me how to make it and it couldn't be easier. In fact, it was the first recipe in which I used green olives stuffed with pimentos.

Yummy on toasted bagels or add zip to your favorite sandwich. And it really is perfect for making quick teatime sandwiches!

Teatime Spread:
12 Green Spanish olives, stuffed with Pimentos
4 oz cream cheese

Place the olives in a mini food prep and process until olives are in little chunks. Add the cream cheese and process until well combined.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

French Potato Salad

This is our favorite potato salad of all time. I've had the recipe in my recipe binder for quite a few years (the paper is yellowed!). I remember that the recipe was in the NY Times Sunday Magazine and was part of an article on picnic recipes. Alas, there's no date or author listed so forgive the lack of credit here.

This French potato salad recipe infuses the warm potatoes in white wine then bathes them in a tangy Dijon vinaigrette. It's rather fiddly and time-consuming to peel all those little potatoes, but totally worth it. I used to be lazy and make a half batch, but now I know better!

French Potato Salad:
2 lbs small potatoes
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp. white-wine vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup olive oil (I'm going to try and use less next time - I think it would be fine)
2 tbsp scallions, finely chopped
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Scrub the potatoes. Boil some salted water and cook potatoes until they are just tender (use a sharp knife to check), 15-30 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. Drain. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut them into 1/8" slices. Put the slices in a bowl as you go along and pour the wine over them as you go. Set them aside to absorb the wine. Toss very gently when you are done to ensure equal coverage.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon, salt, pepper and olive oil until it thickens. Add the scallions and pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle with the parsley and toss very gently. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Tofu and Vegetable Brochettes

Inspired by a meal at Green's Restaurant (long ago), these brochettes are a fun way to enjoy a variety of grilled veggie tastes and textures. Meant to be cooked on the grill, I grilled everything in a grill pan, then assembled the brochettes and finished them up under the broiler. They were tasty, but we missed that smoky charcoal taste. Next time, we'll spark up the BBQ!

For the tofu, I used the teriyaki marinade from Teriyaki Tofu Triangle Stir Fry, cubed the tofu, and then grilled it. I grilled and marinated it for much longer this time and it was even better!

I parboiled the little potatoes for 15 minutes and the pearl onions for 5 minutes. I cut green peppers, zucchini, and eggplant into thick slices and used some splendido tomatoes and firm white mushrooms. All the veggies were marinated in a simple marinade of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and minced garlic and grilled in a grill pan.

The brochettes were served over basmati and wild rice. Madison's recipe, which is more involved, can be found in The Greens Cook Book.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Portobellos Stuffed with Lentils, Stilton, & Walnuts

My first contribution to Something In Season's Great Lentil Challenge!

I felt like I was out on limb with these...but they were sublime. Of course, Stilton and walnuts are happy together, but what happens when you throw in their French cousins, the haute Lentils du Puy? They loved each other! And the ports were the perfect way to bring them all together.

These were a spontaneous kitchen creation that totally worked. I was planning on making another lentil recipe, but then had this idea for lentil stuffed ports and couldn't get it out of my mind. I was thinking they'd be good with pesto, but the Stilton was calling to me as I finished the lentils off in a little red wine. It just so happens that yesterday, I picked up a newly discovered item from Trader Joe's that further pushed me towards the Stilton: Roasted Walnut Oil. Forget the basil, my albion cook said, there's so much time for those summery basil recipes.

This recipe ended up being totally fantastic. The ports were rich and moist, the walnuts added crunch, the lentils added texture and substance, and the Stilton was rich and creamy. I have to admit, I didn't measure anything, so measurements are approximate.

Portobellos Stuffed with Lentils, Stilton, & Walnuts:

1/2 cup lentils du Puy
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp red wine
1 tsp walnut oil
salt & pepper
1/2 large tomato, chopped
chopped walnuts
2-3 oz Stilton, crumbled

6 Stuffing Portobellos (about 1-1/2" diameter, T. Joes sells packs as stuffing ports)
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400. Cook lentils du Puy with bay leaf in a small amount of water until tender (about 20 minutes). Drain and return to the saucepan. Add the garlic, red wine and walnut oil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste. Add the tomato, walnuts, and Stilton and stir until well mixed.

Stem and peel (if desired) Portobellos. Lightly brush bottom and sides with olive oil, place in an oven proof dish, and pour tiny bit of red wine and baslamic vinegar into cups. Pile up with lentil mixture and top with any leftover Stilton crumbs. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Humboldt Fog

Last night I fell in love...with Humboldt Fog.

I was attracted to its quietly handsome look right away: the distinct line of ash (not mold) winding like a dark river through its bright-white core, the greyed ousy Brie-like edges, the ashy, edible rind.

"Is that Humboldt Fog?" I whispered to the Cheese Assistant, pushing down my shades and nodding toward the tasting plate.
"Uh huh" she said, looking busy.
"I have to try it!" I say, emphatically enough to signal resistance will be futile.
"OK...just a minute!". A steely stare. "Here you are."

My first taste of this godlike goat cheese is from a cheap white plastic knife, but its love at first bite. The cheese is very ripe, with lots of ousy edge, but its smoothness is unbelievable. I'm enthralled. I grab a large wedge and head for the till.

I get home and take tons of photos of my new love. None of them capture its beauty.

So what's so spectacular about Humboldt Fog that someone who comes from a family of Stilton makers would fall so hard? First of, its appearance calls to me in the strangest way. Its quietly exotic and that twisting river of vegetable ash beckons culinary adventure. Its also an incredible combination of tangy, crumbly, fresh goat cheese, and ousy ripeness together in one phenomenally smooth goat cheese. The creamy, buttery smoothness cries out quality.

Made in Arcata in Humboldt County, Cypress Grove Chevre uses goats milk that comes from a handful of small, local, pasture-based farms. (The dairies are paid based on milk quality to encourage cleanliness and high protein percentages.) Humboldt Fog is an American creation and a product of its unique foggy coastal California environment. This cheese has won a lot of awards and is one of the few American cheeses that has broken into the International Cheese market.

If you haven't tried this cheese, get thee to a cheesemonger!

So, what do you do with Humboldt Fog? We ate it with baguette and Honey Moon Viognier, a sweet white with honeysuckle tones. It was completely addictive, we couldn't stop ourselves. "This is a great cheese" we kept saying, cutting off another slice and licking our fingers. I really didn't want to cook with it. When I went in for another piece today, my regular Cheese guy was there, "So...what did you do with it?" he wanted to know. His recommendation was to cover it with chopped nuts (huh?) or put a slice on baguette and broil it. So what did I do with it?

Sorry for the dark was late by the time I actually cooked. It had to be something simple that wouldn't interfere with the cheese's flavor. I tried a tomato and it totally didn't work for me. So I ended up using the last of my green garlic, cooked in a little butter, with linguini and a handful of organic baby spinach. Topped with an ashy sliver and dotted with crumbs of Humboldt Fog.

What's my name?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Feta Stuffed Zucchini

An old favorite recipe from original (1997 edition) Moosewood Cookbook: Stuffed Zucchini, Turkish Style. Delicious zucchini canoes are stuffed with a tasty mixture of onions, egg, feta, and zucchini. I love the original recipe, but it was so rich! (Note: this recipe is not listed in the Index of the new version of this book.) I've dropped two of the three eggs and quite a bit of the cheese. I much preferred my lighter version. The cool thing about this recipe is that the part of the vegetable removed for the stuffing is part of the stuffing. We ate these with our fingers! Yum!

Feta Stuffed Zucchini (adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook):

3 medium zucchini (about 7" long), halved lengthwise
1 tbsp butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, beaten
1-1/2 tbsp flour
paprika to top

Preheat the oven to 350. Scoop out the insides of the zucchini halves, leaving about 1/2" rim. I cut the shape with a sharp knife, crosshatch the part I'm going to remove, and then use a grapefruit spoon, which has a serrated tip, to do the scooping and tidying up. Chop the scooped insides and set aside.

Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the shallot until softened. Add the garlic and chopped zucchini and cook gently for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the feta, beaten egg, and flour.

Place the zucchini canoes in an ovenproof dish, lightly oiled so they won't stick. Spoon the feta mixture into the canoes and top with paprika. Bake for 25 minutes, then finish off under the grill.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pizza with Tomatoes, Basil, and Green Olives

So, with this recipe, I've discovered my favorite pizza ever! In fact, I ate half of the entire pizza (I usually have 2 slices, well 3 perhaps) and would have eaten more if hubby hadn't interceded (he loved it too, BTW). I was in pizza heaven.

Incredibly, there was a long stretch of time when I really disliked pizza and never ate it. At that time, pizza always seemed like the same ho-hum thing. Now I make my own, with really fresh veggies and whatever combination appeals at the time, I'm really loving it.

So, what worked for that pasta dish earlier in the week, worked even better on a pizza. Again, its the olives that take this from ordinary to extraordinary. While I wouldn't eat these olives alone (small spanish olives with pimento), they really pep up this pizza! You gotta try it!

Pizza with Tomatoes, Basil, and Green Olives:

1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
10 small green olives, chopped
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 premade pizza crust
Pizza Sauce (I used Contadina, which everyone raves about)
8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat oven with pizza stone to 450. Combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil, olives with the tiniest drop of olive oil and lightly season. Brush the edge of the pizza crust with a little olive oil. Cover the pizza crust with a very thin layer of pizza sauce, leaving a thin border around the edge. Cover the sauce with half of the grated cheese. Spread the tomato mixture out gently over the cheese and top with remaining cheese. Bake on a pizza stone for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Great Lentil Challenge

Be there...or be square! It's the Great Lentil Challenge from Something In Season. Make a favorite lentil dish or try one that's totally new. Email it to Brendon and maybe you'll win a copy of McGee, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. His dear wife's favorite recipe submitter will get The New Laurel's Kitchen: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition. Go lentil crazy! Bonus points for a lentil dessert! I can't wait to see what you come up with!

In honor of this historic event, I've created a new recipe classification in my sidebar for Lentil Dishes.

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Sweetpea's Spring Soup

I made this sweet spring soup for my little five year old, Sweetpea (not her real name). A combination of fighting a cold and losing her front teeth has made her feel a little sour. "Shall I make you a soup for lunch?" I ask. She nods. "Vegetable soup" she says. Happily, that's the only kind I make!

This soup had lots of wonderful spring veggies: little potatoes, tiny florettes of cauliflower and broccoli, English peas, zucchini, and sweet spring carrots. To make it more of a meal, I added the pretty flower-shaped Fiori pasta. I used pasta sauce to fill out the vegetable and water broth and added a little chopped fresh basil right at the end. It was ready in 30 minutes.

Sweetpea's Spring Soup:

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large spring onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp butter
5 little potatoes, cut into eight
5 spring carrots, sliced
1/3 cup cauliflower, little florettes
1 cup vegetable broth
2-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup Fiori pasta
1/2 cup pasta sauce
1/3 cup broccoli, little florettes
1/2 lb English peas, shelled
1 zucchini, quartered, then sliced
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
salt & pepper

Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook onion for 2-3 minutes over med. heat. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add butter, potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower. Cover and cook 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Remove cover and add the vegetable broth and water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and boil for 2 minutes. Turn down to a simmer, and add the pasta sauce, broccoli, peas, and zucchini. Simmer partially covered for 10 minutes. Add the fresh basil and cook 1-2 minutes more.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Moroccan Vegetable Tangine with Couscous

This week's contribution to Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday (ARF=Antioxidant Rich Food) is a Moroccan Vegetable Tangine. This spicy dish is full of wonderful veggies including: potatoes, cauliflower, onion, carrots, eggplant, and squash! Did you know that eggplant is an excellent source of chlorogenic acid, one of the most powerful antioxidants found in plants? For protein, I added chickpeas (full of folic acid and fiber) and a little tofu.

I actually cheated with the sauce and used the Trader Joe's Moroccan Tangine Simmer Sauce that's been hanging out in my pantry too long. The sauce is tomato-based and includes green olives, pimentos, peppers, raisin paste, cilantro, cumin, crushed red pepper, paprika, cinnamon, bay leaves, and saffron. I can't say I detected the raisin paste. The entire 12 oz jar contains only 210 calories and 9g fat so this is a good sauce for a diet. It certainly sparked up these veggies!

I served this over garlic couscous with harissa, a North African hot chili paste. Hubby really loved this tasty dish!

Moroccan Vegetable Tangine:
6 baby potatoes, cut into eight
1/3 cauliflower, cut into small florettes
1 large carrot, sliced on the diagonal
olive oil
1/3 eggplant (I used two baby eggplant), sliced and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 large yellow crookneck squash, sliced and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
Trader Joe's Moroccan Tangine Simmer Sauce
1/2 15oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2-3 oz firm tofu, cubed

Steam the potatoes, cauliflower, and carrot for about 5 minutes until potatoes are no longer hard.

Heat a grill pan over med-high heat and add a little olive oil. Grill onion and eggplant until almost cooked (I added a little red wine to the eggplant to help it along). Add the squash and grill for 2-3 minutes more.

Combine the steamed and grilled vegetable with the sauce in a large skillet. Add the chickpeas and tofu and simmer over lowest heat for 10 minutes. Serve over couscous.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Spinach & Goat Cheese Crepes

So I've found something everyone in the family will eat - crepes! Not only are they incredibly easy to make, but you can cater the fillings to suit your family's (various) tastes. It worked for me!

The recipe I used comes from Marlena Spieler's The Vegetarian Bistro. One thing I hadn't anticipated was how incredibly rich these very thin pancakes would be. While they were delicious, I really couldn't finish two of these babies. In the future, I'll probably go with a filling that is much less rich.

The filling above is spinach and goat cheese. All I did was cook 3 garlic cloves in a little oil, add the spinach, salt & pepper, a little white wine and a little half & half. I then mixed in 3 oz crumbled goat cheese. The result was rather too rich and creamy for me. Next time, I'd skip the half & half and use feta or a tangy hard cheese.

What were the other fillings? Just plain grated cheddar for my son and for my daughter, a dessert crepe with chocolate chips.

All you need is a good, non-stick skillet (no need to buy a crepe pan).

Crepes (adapted from The Vegetarian Bistro:)

3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tbsp oil or melted butter
a little oil for the pan

Preheat oven to 250. Whisk together all the ingredients by hand with a whisk. Heat up your non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tiny bit of oil and swirl to cover the pan. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup (depending on the size of your skillet) of batter to the pan and swirl pan around so that batter covers the bottom of the pan very thinly. Cook until bottom is slightly brown. Flip the crepe over and cook very briefly on the other side. Put the cooked crepes on a plate (you can pile them on top of each other) and cover with foil. Keep them warm in the oven until ready to fill and serve.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Spaghetti with tomatoes, Basil, and Green Olives

It was 6:45 p.m. I had just come home from a run (well, jog-walk, actually, I'm just getting back into it after an eight-year, two-kid hiatus) and had no idea what we were going to have for dinner. I needed something fast, something healthy, something that packed a big taste. Suddenly, in my mind's-eye, I saw this spaghetti dish!

It was as good as I imagined. Simple, bursting with fresh flavor and hearty enough to make a meal. The green olives really made this dish come alive and I wasn't even tempted to add cheese.

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Basil, and Green olives (serves 2)
6-8 oz spaghetti
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
green garlic, white parts and light green, chopped or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato, chopped
6-8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
10 small green olives, chopped
salt and pepper

Cook the spaghetti per directions (I like to add a little olive oil to the water with strand pastas). Melt the butter or oil in a skillet and cook the green garlic until tender. If using garlic cloves, cook 1-2 minutes - you don't want it to brown.

Combine the tomato, basil and green olives in a bowl and season.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and add the garlic/butter. Serve pasta into bowls and top with the tomato mixture and ground pepper.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Spinach Salad with White Stilton with Apricots

White Stilton is a very different cheese from Blue Stilton. White Stilton has a mild, fresh taste and a crumbly texture. It's made in the same way as Blue Stilton, but the blue mould isn't added and the cheese is sold at 3 weeks rather than 9 weeks. It's a cheese that is commonly paired with fruit and White Stilton blends are now common with apricots, cranberries, or ginger.

I picked up a White Stilton with Apricots blend at Trader Joes and have been happily snacking on this very delicious, bright and fresh tasting cheese. It's sweet, but there's nothing clawing about the sweetness. It's awfully good on its own, but I wanted to make something with it and was stunned at the lack of White Stilton recipes out there. So, inspired by the blueberry-feta salad from earlier this week, I made a spinach salad with White Stilton with Apricots, avocado, and pistachios. The result was quite a triumph! My only problem was that my avocado was slightly too ripe - be sure to use one that is still firm. I experimented with vinegars and like balsamic with this best (over red and white wine vinegars). I also experimented with the nuts. I chose pistachios, but I think you could easily substitute either walnuts or almonds and have an excellent result.

Spinach Salad with White Stilton with Apricots (serves 2):
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 +1/8 tsp balsamic vinegar
6 oz baby spinach
3 oz White Stilton with Apricots, crumbled
1/2 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup pistachios (I used roasted and salted) or walnuts or almonds

Whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. In a salad bowl, combine spinach, White Stilton, avocado and pistachios. Drizzle dressing over salad mixture and toss gently. Serve immediately.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Pasta with Peppers and Saffron-Garlic Olive Oil

I love simple recipes. If something doesn't work for me, its usually because I have too many flavors competing with each other. Here's a very simple recipe that produces an exotic and sophisticated meal.

The saffron-garlic olive oil recipe comes from Marlena Spieler's The Vegetarian Bistro. Her recipe uses fresh peas, but I felt my beautiful fresh English peas would be drowned in the strongly flavored olive oil. Happily, I had a beautiful orange pepper! I had so enjoyed yesterday's pizza with grilled vegetables that I decided to grill the pepper along with chunks of red spring onion. This worked beautifully and filled the house with the most wonderful aroma!

Saffron has a slighter bitter honey taste and imparts a wonderful yellow coloring to dishes. In this recipe, the saffron is ground into salty garlic in a mortar, then soaked with lemon juice and olive oil.

Pasta with Peppers and Saffron-Garlic Olive Oil (adapted from The Vegetarian Bistro):

2-3 cloves garlic
1 pinch saffron threads
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz pasta (I used A. G. Ferrari's Gramigna)
1/2 tsp olive oil (to grill the veggies)
1 large orange pepper, cored and seeded and cut into strips
1 large red spring onion, roughly chopped or sliced
salt & pepper
red pepper flakes

Cook your pasta per directions. In a mortar, crush the garlic with salt. Add the saffron threads and crush into the garlic-salt. Add the lemon juice and olive oil.

Add the 1/2 tsp olive oil to a grill pan (mine is a Circulon) and grill the pepper and onion over medium high heat, turning as needed. When done, a few vegetables should be slightly charred, but they should still have crunch. Season vegetables.

Combine the pasta, saffron-garlic oil and vegetables and serve with grated Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Market Day Pizza

Wow! Fresh farmers' market veggies, grilled with a little oil and balsamic vinegar, melted mozzarella, feta, fresh tomatoes, pesto, all made up this awesome market day pizza! The roasted veggies included green garlic, spring onion, and freshly picked mushrooms. Adding a little balsamic vinegar as they grill really adds depth and also brings out the flavor of the unseasoned, sliced tomatoes.

Isn't it wonderful how easy it is to share our daily food moments, thoughts, ideas, recipes, and photos, right here, right now, on the Internet?

I'm sure most of you have already heard that there's a potential threat to our wonderful Internet community (Thanks to Pim of Chez Pim for bringing this to the attention of food bloggers). Congress is pushing through a law that would permit large telephone and cable companies, like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, to control what you do, where you go and what you watch online. An end to Net Neutrality would mean individual Internet content providers (that's us) will be on a slow tier of the Internet, because we won't be able to pay these companies for fast access (unlike profitable companies). Or maybe we won't be here at all.

I encourage you to find out more about this important issue and how you can help by clicking on the image below. Thank you.

Save the Internet: Click here

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Teriyaki Tofu Triangle Stir Fry

I'm now checking out some of the recipes from the highly recommended The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas. This one for Teriyaki Tofu Triangles worked out wonderfully! I was immediately drawn to it by its short marinade time (10 minutes or so), the lack of any lengthy and elaborate tofu-pressing, and the simple list of ingredients I always have on hand.

The tofu triangles were much browner than they look in the picture above, so here's a better look:

They had plenty of smoky flavor and were delicious with the stir fry of broccoli, green garlic, spring onion, mushrooms, a little asparagus, and brown rice. I have to say, I find the triangle shape infinitely more appealing than cubes or rectangles. This was a superfast, super satisfying meal...and healthy too. My five year old thought they were delicious so I will definitely be trying out more recipes from this book!

Teriyaki Tofu Triangle Stir Fry (adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook):
I tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp grated ginger
8 oz firm tofu (I like Wildwood)
1/2 tbsp oil
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 green garlic, sliced
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 cups broccoli florettes
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
5 asparagus spears
cooked brown rice
black sesame seeds to garnish

Prepare the marinade by whisking together the first 5 ingredients. Cut the tofu into triangles and marinade for 10+ minutes. In a non-stick skillet, fry the tofu in its marinade until brown on both sides. Set aside.

Heat oil in skillet and cook the onion for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, and soy sauce. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tofu triangles and cook 1 minute. Add the rice and cook one more minute.

Serve topped with black sesame seeds.

If your interested in more recipes from this book, Jennifer from The Vegan Lunchbox has made several for her son's lunchbox.

Nava Atlas also has a vegetarian blog and website

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Rutabaga Fries

What do you do with a rutabaga? That was the question that inspired me to post my first food blog comment and later inspired a post for Rutabaga & Leek Soup. I love rutabagas mashed like potatoes with plenty of salt, pepper, and butter, but, with the warmer weather, I was looking for a new way to use up the three rutabagas that have been camped out in my crisper for longer than I'd care to remember.

I found my answer in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone: rutabaga fries. Easy to prepare and a great side for the vegetarian Boca burgers I had in mind for dinner.

They didn't come out quite as I expected, but they were delicious and there were no leftovers. I thought they would crisp up more, but they seemed to go from moist to charred and skipped the crisp part, although I liked them in both the moist and charred state. I found I used too much vegetable oil, as they released quite a bit of moisture in the baking process, and I had to drain them on paper towels at the end (but that's almost always a good idea).

I'd definitely try these again and see if I can crisp them up more. The recipe does call for them to be baked "until golden and tender", so there is no promise of crisp in the recipe.

Rutabaga Fries (from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone):

Preheat the oven to 400. Peel rutabagas and cut into French fries. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Mix with vegetable oil and salt and bake 30-40 minutes. Toss with rosemary, salt, and pepper.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Salad with Feta, Blueberries, & Almonds

Wow! Here's a fresh, healthy salad with an unusual combination of ingredients that really works! Blueberries and feta together? I wouldn't have thought of it, but this salad is a wonderful combination of the sweet, the tangy, and the bitter! The variety of textures works too! It was a lovely lunchtime treat for me and would make a great appetizer salad for lunch or dinner guests. The recipe comes from Ann Gillespie and is in the Readers' Quick Recipes section of the April 2006 Bon Appetit. Thanks for sharing, Ann!

I made this in less than five minutes and used whole roasted and salted almonds, while Ann's recipe calls for slivered. I didn't measure anything - so go crazy! It's the clever combination that's key.

Mixed Greens
Olive oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Crumbled Feta
Roasted and salted almonds

Mix all the ingredients together to your own taste and enjoy!

This is my contribution to Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday (ARF=Antioxidant Rich Food) as blueberries are the top ranked fruit and veg antioxidant!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Cauliflower Baked with Wine & Tomatoes

I'll start this off by saying this was a tough photo and this dish tastes wonderfully rich and satisfying, while not being the prettiest. It was so good, in fact, that we passed on the butter, and dipped our Italian baguette into the sauce to soak it up!

I've been looking for different cauliflower recipes, something beyond cauliflower cheese and cauliflower curry. I found this excellent recipe for Cauliflower Baked with Wine & Tomatoes in our very own Karina's (Gluten-Free Goddess) Cooking By The Seasons. OK, so it's listed as an Autumn dish - we enjoyed it today and it was baking!

I changed her recipe by adding broccoli in with the cauliflower ( a hubby preference) and instead of using Asiago cheese, I used a local Zesty Firehouse Jack and feta. Oh yes, and I threw in a few pine nuts! Its a rich, hearty, tangy dish - the cauliflower and the red wine are a great match!

Cauliflower Baked with Wine & Tomatoes (adapted from Cooking By The Seasons)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cauliflower, cut into florettes
1/2 cup broccoli
1 can Italian tomatoes (14 oz), diced
1/2 cup red wine
1 tbsp capers, rinsed
1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
asiago or cheese of choice, grated
feta cheese, crumbled
pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cauliflower and saute for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, tomatoes, red wine, capers, rosemary, parsley and salt and pepper. Place in a buttered dish and top with grated cheese and pine nuts. Bake for 20 minutes. Add feta and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with plain pasta and bread.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Roasted Chile Pepper, Potato, & Cheese Gratin

Look at these beautiful chiles!
The two dark green chiles are poblanos (when dried they are called Anchos), which can be hot or mild. The long thin light green ones are the very mild Anaheim chile, named after the California city.

Roasting these was a snap and boy did they smell smoky good! I used a grill pan we use on the BBQ to grill veggies and put it right on top of our gas stove. I roasted the chiles over medium heat and they took 5-10 minutes. I used tongs to turn them constantly.

I roasted the peppers until they were pretty black. They went straight from the pan to a large ziplock and steamed for at least 15 minutes. It was then easy to scrape off the skin with a seated edge knife:

It's a good idea to remove the skin because it tends to be tough and hard to digest.

Chiles need to be handled carefully, gloves are recommended. I used a knife and fork, which worked well for me.

So tonight's dish was a recreation of a dish I had 20 years ago. It was very easy and big on taste. Check it out:

Roasted Chile Pepper, Potato, & Cheese Gratin:
I potato, peeled and thinly sliced
2 poblano chiles, roasted, deseeded, and cut into 1 inch strips
3 oz firm tofu, cubed
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1/4 cup milk
2 oz Monterey jack cheese, grated
2 oz cheddar cheese, grated

Boil 1 cup water with a little salt and cook the potato slices until almost tender. Spread the potato slices over the bottom of a shallow oven-proof dish, salt, and top with chiles. Top with cubed tofu.

Preheat the grill . In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour. Cook, stirring continuously for 2 minutes. Add the milk and cook, stirring, until thick. Remove from heat and beat in the grated cheese. Top the tofu-chile-potato layers with the cheese sauce. Place under the grill until black welts start to appear on cheese (3-4 mins). Serve with tortilla chips, salsa, and guacamole.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Charmoula Sauce with Tofu, Veggies, & Couscous

Charmoula (or Chermoula) is a Moroccan sauce made with garlic, lemon, cilantro, parsley, and spices that is commonly used as a marinade or sauce for fish. Here I used it as a sauce for one of my favorite meals, steamed tofu and vegetables.

I studied numerous Charmoula recipes before making this sauce, including those found in The Healthy Hedonist, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Vegetarian Table: North Africa, and North African Cooking. Some recipes included onions, chillies, one had ginger in place of the garlic, and there were significant differences in amounts of the various ingredients in my recipe. I have to say, I didn't carefully measure everything as I was playing with the sauce quite a bit so the below are approximations. The cookbook recipes were also for marinades (and often had a vinegar) and I wanted a sauce, so I used a lot more cilantro and parsley.

I actually made three variants, as this is a new sauce for me, and I liked all three. There's the basic recipe below; the basic recipe with tomato puree, which took the tiniest edge off the spice and added depth; and the basic recipe with sour cream, which highlighted the smokiness of the spices. This is a powerful, spicy sauce and works well with blander foods (like tofu) and sweet vegetables like carrots.

I was also inspired to pull out raw almonds. I have to say, this seemed like a winning combo to me! I can imagine thickening the sauce with some fresh ground almonds next time.

Serve with couscous and a pinch of ground cumin.

Charmoula Sauce:

3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, chopped
handful of parsley, leaves only, chopped
juice of two lemons
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/16 tsp cayenne

Tomato puree
Sour cream

Blend the garlic, salt and a little of the olive oil in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until smooth. If desired, add either tomato puree or sour cream.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Green Garlic, Mushroom, and Spinach Pizza

I was really excited to try green garlic pizza. I was afraid the garlic would be overwhelming, but it was really milder that I would have liked. I liked having a white pizza for a change and the goat cream cheese was an awesome and subtle touch!

Green garlic is immature garlic that hasn't yet grown the familiar garlic bulb and is much milder that mature garlic. It looks like this.

Premade pizza crust
2 tbsp goat cream cheese (I used Bodega Goat Cheese Green Onion & Garlic)
2 tbsp pesto
1 tbsp butter
3 green garlic, white parts and lightest green, thinly sliced
8 oz mushrooms, wiped and sliced
2 tbsp white wine
2 handfuls baby spinach
Salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
6 oz grated mozzarella
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 450. Spread the premade crust with goat cream cheese, then the pesto.

Take a large non-stick skillet and melt butter. Add green garlic and cook for 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook an additional 4 minutes until mushrooms have released their juices and mixture is almost dry.

Turn off heat and stir in baby spinach, which will wilt without cooking.

Spread the garlic-mushroom-spinach mixture over the crust and season and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Add the grated mozzarella on top, brush the outer rim with olive oil, and bake for 8-10 mins, until cheese is starting to spot.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Italian Spring Soup with Fava Beans

"From the hearty cuisine of the Roman countryside comes a fabulous soup of fava beans and rice often served on Tuesdays" — Roberta Corradin, Humble, Yet Divine, the Fava Bean

I was very excited to find this quote, as I had already decided to use my farmers' market fava beans in an Italian Spring Soup today and because it inspired me to use rice instead of pasta, which was a much better partner for both the fava beans and the fresh chard.

This delicious soup is full of healthy seasonal vegetables and is, of course, my contribution to Sweetnicks ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday (ARF=Antioxidant Rich Food).

Fava beans (broad beans in the UK) are high in fiber and iron. The fresh ones come in big pods, with wooly insides. The beans inside need to have their bitter outer skin removed (although the outer skin isn't obvious to the eye). I removed the outer shell without cooking the beans first, but they will come off easier if you boil them for a couple of minutes. So you go from what seems like a large bag of fava bean pods to a rather small cup of little green beans. They are lovely though, prized by chefs for their stunning bright green color. Fresh fava beans can be cooked, pureed, and spread on crostini, or added to risotto or fresh vegetable ragouts.

This soup is truly a transitional soup — a wonderful blend of winter and spring vegetables. I included cauliflower, potatoes, leeks, carrots, and chard with the new spring onions, fava beans, baby turnips, and garlic. This is a rich and hearty soup and will be dinner for us, with some garlicy Italian bread. I have to say I love this soup. I think its the chard, fava bean, rice combo that makes this one so special.

Italian Spring Soup with Fava Beans:

1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 spring onions (not scallions), finely chopped
1-2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large carrot, sliced thin on the diagonal
3-4 baby turnips, topped and quartered
2 baby leeks, white parts only, sliced thin
1 tbsp butter
1/3 large cauliflower, cut into small florettes
2 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1/3 cup pasta sauce
1 tbsp pesto
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 large chard leaves, stemmed and chopped
3/4 cup cooked rice
1 lb fava beans, shelled and peeled
Salt & Pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed, large saucepan and cooked the onions for 1-2 minutes. Add the potato, carrot, turnips, leeks, and butter. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes. Add the cauliflower, cover, and cook an additional 3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer. Season. Add the pasta sauce and pesto, stirring well. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and the chard and cook for 8 minutes. Add the rice and fava beans and simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Serve with Parmesan or pecorino (grated or shavings).

Monday, May 08, 2006

Asparagus and Lentils with Walnut Vinaigrette

I was gifted with asparagus this weekend (thanks Mum!) and inspired by a recipe for Asparagus and Lentils in Nut Vinaigrette from Marlena Spieler's magnificent cookbook, The Vegetarian Bistro. An elegant appetizer, there's plenty of taste and texture here without any trace of heaviness. I used walnut oil for my vinaigrette, which was fabulous and mild, and fresh spring onions from the farmers' market.

This is also my contribution to Seriously Good's Asparagus Aspirations. My dish used locally grown asparagus, carrots, and spring onion. The lentils were French.

If you're keen on lentil recipes (and I know some of you are), check out this cool lentil recipe roundup at Bibliocook.

And speaking of elegance, congratulations to Pim of Chez Pim for her starring role in this article in the NY Times Style Magazine!

Asparagus & Lentils with Walnut vinaigrette (inspired by The Vegetarian Bistro)

1/2 cup puy lentils
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 carrot, finely chopped
Salt & pepper

1lb asparagus, tough ends removed
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

Walnut Vinaigrette:
1 spring onion, white part chopped (not scallions, but a young spring onion)
1 1/2 tbsp walnut oil
1 tbsp white wine
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Simmer together the lentils, bay leaf, garlic cloves, and carrot until the lentil are just tender (20-25 mins). Drain and season.

Heat the oil in a wide non-stick skillet and cook the asparagus over medium heat for about 3 minutes (you'll need to test it). You want it to be crisp, but cooked through. Season.

Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients. Stir 1/2 into the drained lentils.

Spoon the lentils onto the plate alongside the asparagus. Pour remaining vinaigrette over the asparagus. Serve warm.

+ +

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

It's been a big party weekend for my family, so let the festivities continue with a yummy treat from childhood, chocolate rice krispie treats. These aren't rice krispies held together with a dash of weak chocolate. These are more melted chocolate with rice krispies. They are super rich, so they are mini-sized. A great party item and a sweet homemade gift for your favorite chocolate lover!


1/2 lb of chocolate (I used Ghiradelli semi-sweet), broken into meltable pieces
1 1/2 cups rice krispies

Melt the chocolate by setting a glass bowl at the top of a saucepan filled with a little water. (The water shouldn't touch the bottom of the bowl). Heat the water and place the chocolate into the glass bowl. Stir as the chocolate as it melts. Place your rice krispies in a mixing bowl. When the chocolate is completely melted, pour it over the rice krispies and stir until all the krispies are well-coated.

Allow the mixture to cool. Place mini paper cups into mini muffin tin. Using two spoons, carefully spoon the mixture into the paper cups (makes 24). Once the mixture is distributed, go back and press down on the top of the treats with the back of the spoon to compress them a little and ensure they hold together well.

Cover with a piece of parchment paper and put the entire tray in the fridge until set (at least 1 hour).

Saturday, May 06, 2006

New Toy from Architectural Ceramic Design

Isn't this wonderful?

This is my new Garlic Grater Bowl, made by Alan & Donna Podesto of Architectural Ceramic Design, potters who live and work in Sonona County and specialize in wine country and gift shop wares. I had the pleasure of meeting Donna at the Thursday San Rafael Farmers' Market, where she was selling their wonderful ceramic kitchenware. They make many lovely items including the garlic graters, apple bakers, compost crocks as well as lovely vases, trays, and tableware. Each piece of wheel thrown and decorated by hand and is oven, microwave and dishwasher safe.

The garlic grater can also be used with ginger and soy sauce for asian dipping.

Great gifts for foodies!