Sunday, November 25, 2007

Family Party

I had a family party at my place yesterday and had a great time in the kitchen cooking through out the event.

Above are puff pastry galettes with truffled white bean puree and roasted vegetables. Below a simple fresh mozzarella and tomato tarte:

I also made rosemary cashews , apple tart, Broccolini Pizza with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce, a "sausage" and tomato pizza, English muffins pizzas for the kids, and had a wonderful plate of crudite.

The happy chef:

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tofurkey Joke

Why did the tofurkey cross the road?

To prove he wasn't chicken.

Joke credit: My bro-in-law John, by way of a vegetarian friend.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

An English Thanksgiving

A glass raised to my brother who cooked his first Thanksgiving meal today!

As you can see by my vegetarian plate, he went all out with the vegetables! Perfect roast potatoes and mashed potatoes in the style of our grandmother, made drier and firmer than typical American mashed potatoes, so you can really taste the potato goodness - amazing! I have to admit I had three helpings. Plus Brussels, carrots, sweet potatoes, and roasted parsnips. I made the Vegan Turkey, but my brother went all out with an organic turkey and ham for the meat eaters. We enjoyed this delicious meal with French champagne.

Followed up with vegetarian mince pies with cream....

...and a nice cup of tea. Perfect.

Not only did bro go all out with the food, he set a fine table fireside, and the atmosphere was warm and cosy. I had wanted to host, but now I'm so glad he hosted. Thanks, CF.

And a happy and safe Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fall Harvest Cooking Class at Millennium

Photo from one o'clock: Sunchoke & Smoked Portobello Gallette; Yuba Roll with Chard Florentine, Tempeh Sausage, and Rice; Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower with Smoked Tofu, Miso, and Orange; Chipotle-Glazed Georgia Candy Roasting Squash with Greens and Pumpkin Seed Brittle; Rich Mushroom Reduction with Fresh Italian Beans.

This weekend I enjoyed the "In the Dirt" themed Fall Harvest Cooking Class at Millennium, San Francisco's finest Vegan Restaurant. Millenium and Executive Chef, Eric Tucker, were featured today in a NY Times Article on Expanding the Frontiers of the Vegetarian Plate. And I quote:

"Eric highly regarded for a polyglot style that marries ingredients and techniques from diverse cuisines with a sense of how best to celebrate Northern California's vegetable bounty....Such is Mr Tucker's skill that the food at Millennium attains a gustatory cohesion not suggested by the eclectic ingredients."

Polyglot? Well, it's, perhaps, more poetic to say, he's a translator of cultural approaches and interpretations of the best available local ingredients. And, when you attend one of his classes (this is my third), you realize, he's a kick-ass chef who wants to teach people how to work creatively with ingredients rather than to sheepishly follow a recipe.

And, if you haven't eaten at the restaurant, regardless of you meat-eating orientation, any food-loving person owes it to themselves to enjoy a meal here. I've taken hearty, meat-eating food bloggers here and they've been totally satisfied.

So the weekend starts off with a foraging visit to the San Francisco Ferry Building's Saturday Farmers Market.

Far West Funghi is always an interesting place to visit:

We picked up some Cauliflower Mushrooms...

Which ended up as a deep-fried, tempura-battered garnish in a delicious cauliflower bisque, with a rich shallot oil and a spicy chili oil garnish:

We used the unique tasting Matzutake mushrooms to create a delicious Matzutake Pho with Pumpkin Gnocchi, fresh mint and Thai basil, smoked tofu, paper-thin Matzutakes, bean sprouts, and lime wedges. The pho broth was created with a serious mushroom base, with shallots, ginger, lemongrass, spices, and oils:

Chef Tucker picked up a Georgia Candy Roasting Squash:

The squash was roasted and served with a rich sweet chipolte dressing and a delicious salad with bitter greens and pumpkin seed brittle:

Probably, my favorite thing today was the amazing cauliflower, charred over gutsy hot heat, with smoked tofu, miso and orange juice:

I love cauliflower, but I don't think I've ever loved it quite this much. I could easily have eaten the entire plate!

The Brussels got the same treatment:

And, these yuba (tofu-skin) rolls stuffed with chard florentine (made with cashew cream), tofu, and tempeh sausage, topped with smoked paprika were so out-of this-world:

And, we also made these awesome gallettes with a filling of pureed sunchoke, topped with rich portobello mushrooms:

The pastry crust was made with ground,toasted walnuts, flour and palm shortening and was rich and tender.

I can't tell you how lucky I feel to be a local able to enjoy these cooking classes. The class is totally hands-on, the instruction, clear and flexible, and, the level of comraderie is high. Attending the Farmers Market foragaing event is also a wonderful learning experience and a treat not to be missed.

Previously attended classes:

  • Millennium Tomatoes Class

  • Millennium Chile Class
  • Friday, November 16, 2007

    Red Lentil Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

    A rather too spicy red lentil soup with a delicious ricotta dumpling, adapted from Peter Berley's The Flexitarian Table.

    Berley's Flexitarian cookbook provides flexible menus that cater to "vegetarians, meat lovers, and everyone inbetween". The idea is that you can simultaneously prepare meat and vegetarian dishes without having to prepare totally separate meals (can someone please explain this efficient concept to my two children!). So my adapted recipe for ricotta dumplings comes from a menu of Baked Fish/Ricotta Dumplings over French Lentils.

    Recipes/Flexitarian menus are organized seasonally. And I was excited to see some truly novel sounding vegetarian dishes, such as "Lentil & Rhubarb Curry with Potatoes and Peas", "Penne with Beets, Goat Cheese & Walnuts", "Phyllo Pie with Lemon Tofu, Winter Greens, and Mushrooms", and "Seitan Cholent" ( a Jewish braised dish). Although I only cook vegetarian dishes, I found Berley's approach fresh and inspiring. I have to say, however, that I don't think the book's food photos capture the recipes in all their glory.

    I loved the idea of the ricotta dumplings and my adaption worked out quite brilliantly ( I made them as separate items rather than baking them over lentils in Berley's recipe, although I'm sure this would be excellent too.). I can imagine using these and variants on them in many stews and soups.

    As I said, my red lentil soup was rather too spicy due to a large dose of jalapenos. So cut back on the jalapenos to enjoy the dumpling flavor in all it's glory. These would be a delicious addition to many vegetarian soups.

    Ricotta Dumplings:
    3/4 cup breadcrumbs
    1 egg, beaten
    1/2 cup ricotta
    salt and pepper
    pinch of Herbes de Provence
    1 tsp lemon juice
    2 tsp olive oil

    Preheat the oven to 375. F degrees. Beat the egg. Blend in the breadcrumbs and the ricotta. Season, add the herbs and the lemon juice.

    Cover a baking sheet with foil. Oil the foil with a teaspoon of oil. Form the mixture into small dumplings and place on the oiled foil. Drizzle the top of the dumplings with remaining oil and season additionally if desired. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked through and lightly browned.

    Red Lentil Soup

    2 tbsp olive oil
    2 shallots, chopped
    3 carrots, sliced
    1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
    1 sweet red pepper, diced
    4 baby yukons, diced
    1 cup vegetable broth
    3 cups water
    1/2 cup red lentils
    2 TBSp chopped nacho jalapenos
    1 tsp cumin
    1 tsp curry powder
    1 tbsp tomato paste

    Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and saute the shallots over low heat for 6 minutes. Add the carrots, sweet potato, and potato, stir well, cover, and cook 8 minutes. Add the sweet red pepper and cook 2 additional minutes.

    Add the vegetable broth, water and lentils, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the cumin, coriander, jalapenos, and tomato paste. Simmer for 15 minutes, partially covered. Salt. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

    Serve soup in a 6-80z bowl with 1-2 dumplings.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Broccolini & Spinach Pizza with Gorgonzola Sauce

    Here's a great way to eat your greens while indulging your taste for the voluptuous! This pizza was topped with chopped spinach, broccolini, and a rich Gorgonzola cheese sauce, with toasty pine nuts to add a textural punch!

    I can't tell you how divine this pizza was. You'll just have to try it yourself.

    I used Trader Joe's plain pizza dough for the crust.

    I wilted the baby spinach by putting it in a colander and pouring boiling water over it. I then squeezed out the excess liquid, chopped the spinach, then squeezed out even more liquid until it was quite dry. This went on top of the dough.

    I parboiled the broccolini (thick stems removed) for 1-2 minutes, drained, then rinsed with cold water.

    The Gorgonzola sauce was 1-1/2 tsp butter, melted in a pan, 1-1/2 tsp flour, mixed in with the butter and cooked until frothy, 2-3 TBSP milk, mixed in over medium heat, and water to get a more liquid consistency. I used half of this sauce on top of the spinach and spread it out with the back of a spoon. I then added the broccolini and topped with the remaining half of the sauce. Added salt and pepper and brushed the edge of the dough with olive oil. A slim handful of pinenuts on top.

    Baked on a pizza stone at 450F degrees for 11 minutes.

    Result: total pizza satisfaction!

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    Worth Thinking About

  • Vegan Turkey with Cranberry for Thanksgiving (I think I'll have to do this again)
  • A Veteran's Day Post from I'm Mad and I Eat

  • Holiday Cards from the San Francisco Food Bank
  • Thursday, November 08, 2007

    Cauliflower Cheese

    My favorite dish as a child was Cauliflower Cheese. It's simple, yet luxurious. Zesty and cozy. The perfect supper when its dark and nippy outside and you're not feeling too ambitious.

    This version was steamed cauliflower florettes over a bed of dino kale (sauted with olive oil and garlic until tender), with a simple roux-based cheddar cheese sauce. Under the broiler for 4 minutes and this one was hard to beat tonight....

    Cheddar Cheese Sauce:
    1 tbsp butter
    1 tbsp flour
    1/4 cup milk
    1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar
    2 TBSP water

    Melt the butter and add the flour. Cook, stirring continuously, over med-low heat till frothy for 2 minutes. Add the milk and stir. When incorporated, add the grated cheddar and turn off the heat. Stir until smooth. Add the water until desired consistency is reached.

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Apple Cheddar Pizza with "Bacon" and Walnuts

    A perfect Fall pizza and a very delicious combination of flavors!

    I made this one with Trader Joe's pizza dough, topped with grated sharp cheddar, sweet apple slices, Morningstar Bacon Strips, and walnut halves. Of course, you can't beat that apple and cheese combination! The salty bacon (we're loving Morningstar Bacon Strips right now - found in the freezer aisle) and rich walnuts were gorgeous with the apple and cheese. All four items complimented each other beautifully.

    To me, this pizza captures clarity of taste, crispness of texture, and has a cozy characteristic that makes it perfect for Fall. And, I love Fall!