Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Lima Beans

OK, this post is for Dori.

I have to admit, I didn't make this dish on Christmas Day. I made so many vegetarian appetizers and vegetables, and as my vegan guests didn't make it, I decided to skip in on the day.

However, I did use the delicious Christmas limas in this dish with garlic, mushrooms, and spinach.

I soaked the beans overnight until they were twice their previous size. I parbolied them for 15 minutes, unitl they were al dente. I then cooked cremini mushrooms in butter (olive oil if you're a vegan) with 2 cloves of crushed garlic and some marsala. I then added the beans and baby spinach, along with another crushed garlic clove and some extra butter/olive oil. I topped mine with some Mt Tam cheese, but they would have been very good without the cheese if you're a vegan. I planned to serve this in a filo pastry dough, but messed up on the defrosting time. I'm sure it would have been incredible in a filo pastry base, but it was still awfully good without it. The Christmas Lima beans definitely had a chestnut flavor and texture. Delicious!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Beet Salad

Merry Christmas to all!

I didn't have much time for photos today, but this beet salad appetizer, with spinach, feta cheese and a lemon vinaigrette was pretty and tasty.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Caprese, Christmas Limas

I found some beautiful and delicious heirloom, green tomatoes at the Farmers Market and made this Christmas colored Caprese salad, along with red tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper. A few kalamata olives to garnish and this was festive little antipasta. I'm thinking of making this for Christmas lunch, despite my English theme this year...

I'm still musing on my vegetarian entree for Christmas, but plan to use these Christmas Limas:

from Rancho Gordo, which are red and white and said to have a gently chestnut flavor. I'm thinking of combining them with leeks, mushrooms, sherry and possibly puff pastry or filo....

Monday, December 17, 2007

Is happiness as simple as a cheese & tomato sandwich?

Well, yes, I think it can be. Especially, if you're really hungry! And if you're sharing it wih the right person.

Yesterday, I experienced a very low energy Sunday. But a cheese dream made with A. G. Ferrari sliced Pugilese bread, havarti cheese, and a generous slice of tomato, along with a nice cup of tea, hit the spot more than any fancy dish.

C'mon, get humble!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Stilton & Walnuts

A simple appetizer of portobellos stuffed with Stilton and half a walnut.

This easier version of Protein-packed Portobellos, which include lentils and a wrap of tempeh bacon... lighter and allows the traditional combination of the Stilton and walnuts to really come through, without the smoky distraction of the tempeh bacon.

I'm toying of the idea of using this lighter version as a Christmas appetizer.

But, then, a simple salad with Stilton and walnuts is awfully appealing too.

As is, a wedge of Stilton and a bowl of walnuts.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cabbage & Potato Soup

This soup is humbleness at it's very best. I can't believe how totally delicious this simple soup was! Honestly, I'd serve this to anyone.

Cabbage & Potato Soup:

3 oz butter
3 leeks, white parts only, clean and chopped
8 baby dutch potatoes, quartered
1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped
2 cups of vegetable broth (I use Wolfgang Puck's)
2 cups water
pinch of sea salt & pepper
2 thin slices of baguette with drip of olive oil
2 slivers of Jarlsberg cheese

Melt 1 TBS butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook the leeks for 4-5 minutes. Add another TBS butter and the potatoes, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring 3 times. Add the last TBS butter with the cabbage, cover, and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, water, salt, and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Toast the baguette slices under the broiler for 1 minute. Top with cheese and broil one more minute.

Serve soup with cheesy baguette slice.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Holiday Appetizers : Stuffed Portobellos

I am happy to be hosting Christmas at my place. And, as I plan the menu, I'm thinking of easy, quick, and stunning appetizers to keep my guests happy until the big event is ready. If you're looking to wow guests with minimal effort, check out these two recipes for Stuffed Portobellos wrapped in Tempeh Bacon.

Above, Portobellos Stuffed with Lentils, Stilton, & Walnuts. Honestly, I can't do any better than this for vegetarians (or meat-eaters) at Christmas

Below, Vegan Tempeh Bacon Wrapped Portobellos with Baba Ganoush:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Humble: Rice with Braised Chard, Olives & Feta

Tonight, I present to you a humble dish of rice with braised chard, olives and feta. Made all the more humble to me because it was going to be gorgeous chard, olive, and rice soup, but a number of humbling events lead me to a slightly different-than-planned dish.

I love to wing it in the kitchen with the ingredients I have on hand. To me, this spontaneous ability is rather what inspired cooking is all about. It's been a grey, rainy day here and I was craving soup and remembered this pretty and delicious recipe for Chard, Cauliflower, & Olive Soup:

Similarly inspired by a beautiful bouquet of rainbow chard, I was psyched to have a hot, flavorful soup with greens and olives.

But I made the classic mistake of not being sure of the ingredients I had on hand before I started cooking. When I reached for the vegetarian soup stock and found it missing, I decided to switch to the Aussie soup bouillion a friend had donated. I searched high and low, but to no avail. So now I had a combo for onions, garlic, rainbow chard, and jalapenos that I had to mix with a miso soup broth. But, whoops! I'd already added a little red wine thinking I'd have a Latin broth. So now I had chard braising in a pink miso broth. Honestly, not pretty.

The end result of drained and braised chard with olives, jalapenoes and feta over rice was really very satisfying. The combo of flavors worked for me, but I'm very glad I lost the pink sauce.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

White Bean Vegetable Soup

I know. It's December. A month one associates with indulgence, treats, and sparkle!

And I want you to know I have nothing against any of these.

But, like many folk, I find the extended lead-up to the holidays a little suffocating, a little over-indulgent.

I forget which magazine a few years ago did a holiday story on a French designer's Christmas Eve meal. It was beautifully humble... very pretty... but most importantly, humble.

This attitude really resonated with me and I must say I now prepare for a holiday feast by focusing on gratitude for the simple, the humble, the natural. Foodwise, I'm craving meals like vegetable soup with baguette, and sides that require no preparation (sliced fruits, tangerines, nuts). I crave the simple and uncomplicated dish. I want to save the champagne and indulgence for the big day, so, in my case, hold the bonbons.

Tonight's simple supper was a soup with fresh white Italian beans from the SF Farmers Market, organic cauliflower, broccoli, rainbow chard, baby dutch potatoes, and carrots. A little vegetable soup broth, tomato paste, pesto paste, and olive tapendade made the broth sing. And, feel free to honor your indulgent side with 1/2 cup of red wine.

Serve with a French/Italian baguette, butter, and cheese. Follow with apple slices and walnuts.