Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy Blog Birthday to Me!

Yes, Albion Cooks is two years old!

I can't believe how much I've learned writing Albion Cooks, how much fun I've had, and how much better I eat now! And one of my favorite things about food and cooking is that there's always something new to learn and discover.

Thanks to my readers for all their encouragement!

So, by way of celebration, here are some of my favorite dishes from the last two years:

Lentil-stuffed Roast Potatoes with Spinach & Feta

Red Lentil & Rice Patties with Cilantro Sauce

Red Lentil Soup

Dinosaur Kale & Jalapeno Soup

Lentils on Garlic Toast with Greens, Beets, and Goat Cheese

Vegetarian Cornish Pasties

Fig & Humboldt Fog Pizza

Green Cauliflower & Olive Capellini

Heirloom Tomato & Golden Beet Salad with Arugula Pesto

Chanterelle,"Bacon" & Stilton Pizza

A Simple Cheese & Tomato Sandwich

Nachos Pizza

Orange Star

I'd love to hear about your favorite Albion Cooks recipe in the comments!

And happy vegetarian blog birthdays to What the hell does a vegan eat anyway?, who recently celebrated birthday #6.

And happy first blog birthday to A Few Reservations!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Black Bean & Hominy Soup

Another warming soup, this one is substantial enough to make a complete supper. The soup's base is a mixture of salsa (I used Casa Sanchez Medium Salsa) and vegetable broth. With potatoes, black beans, roasted red peppers, fresh jalapeno, hominy, cilantro and black olives, and, of course, dino kale (what's a soup without this delicious green!), this was a healthy, sinus-busting meal in a bowl.

Not familiar with hominy? Here's my description: Hominy is like a large, puffed corn kernel, that tastes a lot like a corn tortilla, and seems like it will grow up to be a piece of very dense popcorn.

I enjoyed this soup with sesame blue corn chips and a little avocado. This is so tasty, no cheese is required, making this a wonderful vegan meal.

Black Bean & Hominy Soup:

1-2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped,
5 tiny baby dutch potatoes, cubed
I red jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp chipolte in adobe sauce, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup salsa
3 oz roasted red peppers, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 leaves dino kale, stemmed and torn into 2 " pieces
15 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz can white hominy, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
black olives, sliced as desired

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the chopped onion. Saute for 5 minutes over lowest heat. Add the cubed potatoes, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking. Add the chipolte and jalapeno and cook 1 more minute. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil Add the salsa, red peppers, and ground cumin. Turn heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the kale and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the black beans and hominy. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the chopped cilantro and olives. Simmer for 3 minutes.

Serve with your favorite chips and salted avocado or guacamole!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Scrambled Eggs with Leeks, Peas & Goat Cheese

One word best describes this simple supper of Scrambled Eggs with Leeks, Peas & Goat Cheese: tender.

Two baby leeks (a score from this week's farmers market), gently sauteed with butter and a shake of salt; peas (albeit from the freezer), boiled for 2 minutes, then turned off the heat and let them rest in the water for 2 minutes (perfecto!); two scrambled eggs with butter, a drip of half & half, salt & pepper, and finely crumbled goat cheese.

I make my scrambled eggs in my round-bottomed All Clad saucepan. I stir them constantly over low heat. They end up so perfectly tender and fine (no lumps).

This wonderful, fresh-tasting, light, high-protein and tender dish was the perfect late supper response to a dark and stormy night. Surely Spring is right around the corner...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Navajo Stew

Last summer, I started packing myself a "raw lunch" of organic carrots, snap peas, edamame, and raw macademia or cashew nuts. To add some substance, I'd occasionally enjoy a cup of miso soup as an addition. After lunching this way for about a month (and adding more vegan dinners and eating lots of fruit), people complimented me on how glowing my skin was. And, it was true. It really made a difference.

I had this lunch again today, but it's bitterly cold and rainy outside and it rather fell short. Yesterday, I succumbed to the cold that's been after me since before Christmas, and I have a rare rash of pimples on my chin. In short, I'm feeling tired, cold, and a little grumpy.

So tonight's dinner has tomorrow's lunch in mind. This simplified variation of Navajo Stew from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers was comforting, had plenty of protein and fiber, some sinus clearing heat, and was very easy to prepare. Prepared mostly from canned or jarred items, it also helped clean out my over-stocked pantry. I enjoyed this hearty stew with my favorite new corn chips, Have'a Corn Chips.

Navajo Stew (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers):

1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp diced red onion
1 sweet potato, peeled, cubed, and parboiled until almost tender
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp Chipolte peppers in adobe sauce, minced
1/2 cup salsa
1./2 cup vegetable stock
3-4 oz roasted red peppers, chopped
7 oz canned corn
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
10 large black olives, sliced

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook the red onions over very low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the parboiled sweet potatoes, black beans, salsa, and vegetable stock. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the roasted red peppers, corn, rice, cumin and half of the sliced olives and simmer for 10 minutes. Add remaining olives and serve with chips and your favorite guacamole!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cauliflower, Kale & Olive Soup

A delicious and colorful variation on this previously posted recipe for Chard, Cauliflower & Olive Soup, this time I used orange cauliflower, dinosaur kale, white cannellini beans, and pressed garlic cloves in place of green garlic. I dropped the jalapeno and added red pepper flakes, and skipped the cheese.

Olives or olive pastes are a wonderful way to add depth and flavor to a vegetable soup broth. Some vegetable soup broths can lack the salty richness needed to make a good soup great and I find olives or olive paste can be added near the end to provide zip to a soup whose flavor is otherwise a little bland. Other ingredients to add zip: miso or soy sauce (for an Asian flavor), a little marmite, or any kind of pesto.

This soup was wonderful. The orange cauliflower is slightly sweeter than white, the dino kale provides tender, yet substantial greens, the beans provide a solid protein, and the olives a robust flavor. Other possibilities: sub garlicy sauteed chickpeas for the white beans, or add rosemary and/or a little tomato paste for a heavier, Italian broth (the broth here is very light). I think rice or farro might be a nice addition here if you want to make the soup more substantial. Serve with a rustic olive bread and a fruity red wine for a simple, yet hearty meal.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Milena's Orange, Cranberry & Almond Biscotti

What's better than a gift from the kitchen!

I was the very happy recipient of Milena's homebaked Orange, Cranberry & Almond biscotti. Made from a family recipe, with freshly squeezed orange juice from oranges in her own backyard, my wonderful friend, Milena, treated me to a batch for Christmas. I raved about them so much, today I got my second gift of these tender, crumbly Italian cookies. These are my favorite biscotti!

The orange flavor is amazing, the cranberries are plump and chewy, and the toasted almonds add the perfect nutty crunch. These biscotti are crisp without being overly dry. I suspect the love and goodwill that goes into the baking of these delectable treats are the secret ingredients.

I'm hoping she'll make another batch so I can blog the making and baking. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Green Salad with Edamame, Snap Peas, Olives, Macademia Nuts & Feta

I know ... it's January and it's cold and misty outside. But, one of my New Year's resolutions is to be true to myself, however incongruous I may be.

I have to admit, earlier in the day I was thinking of pasta with chickpeas, dino kale, and lots of garlic. Clearly, today, my body was screaming for greenery. But, at the end of the day, it was this HUGE green salad that realy appealed.

I included lots of my favorite things: edamame, salty kalamata olives, crispy snap peas,rich macademia nuts, feta cheese, and lots of romaine with a mustardy vinaigrette.

I think it has a lovely, wintery look, don't you? With a gifted jammy shiraz, it was delectable.

The only downside: no leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Portobello "Steak" with Garlic Butter

Inspired by a recipe of the same name in Cooking for Yourself , a cookbook for those of us who need that perfect recipe for one, this was an unusual meat-substitute and potatoes meal for me.

While not much of a recipe in the way of a vegetarian protein dish, it was, never-the-less, quite satisfying. I significantly cut the suggested allocations of olive oil and butter (from 1.5 tbsp olive oil to 1 tsp, and 2 tsp butter to 3/4 tsp), although I did add some pesto after the fact (see pic below). Basically, you cook the portobello whole in a frying pan with oil and garlic and butter. Then slice.

Baked the fingerlings in the micro (2 minutes) and prepped the baby spinach by placing it in a colander and pouring boiling water over it. That "cooks" it, but allows it to retain it's spinachy shape.

Definitely not a vegetarian cookbook, but the Baked Goat Cheese Salad with Tomato Bruschetta looks like a winner as does the Spring Vegetable Stew with Couscous. If you're not a vegetarian and are looking for a range of recipes for one, you may want to check this one out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tofu Marsala

This delicious adaption of Tofuu Marsala from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers: Fresh Ideas for the Weeknight Table, was a wonderfully warming, high-protein dish that provides serious depth of flavor in less than 30 minutes.

If you haven't checked out this cookbook, I can't recommend it more highly. I have given it often as a gift. There's a wide range of recipes from the world over and they are all simple and achievable in about half an hour. Check out the end of this post for some other recipes I've enjoyed from this book.

I have to admit, I'm feeling depleted today, still fighting off a cold. I spent a couple of hours resting on the sofa as my daughter read to me (no one's read to me in years!) But this recipe was worth getting up and making, just for myself. The marsala provides a wonderful richness, but I halved the amount in the original recipe and substituted vegetable stock for the balance. I felt this yielded as sweet a result for this dish as I could enjoy. The combination of mushrooms, marsala, tomatoes, and tofu, was delicious and rich, without any heaviness. As they say in the cookbook, enjoy soaking up the broth with some crusty bread!

Tofu Marsala (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers: Fresh Ideas for the Weeknight Table):

4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tbsp olive oil
3 small sweet peppers, deseeded and cubed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup Marsala wine
1 cup vegetable stock
16 oz firm tofu, cut into 3/4 " cubes
10 oz baby portobellos, peeled, stemmed and sliced
14 oz italian diced tomatoes
1 tbsp pesto
Crusty bread

In a saucepan, heat the oil and cook the garlic for 1 minutes. Add the peppers, salt and oregano and cook for 5-8 minutes. Add the Marsala, vegetable stock and tofu and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, and pesto. Cook 5-10 more minutes and adjust seasoning.

Serve with crusty bread.

Other recipes I've made from this cookbook:

  • Polenta- Stuffed Peppers

  • Indian Potato Salad

  • Sesame Tofu
  • Tuesday, January 08, 2008

    Scrambled Eggs on Toast with Garlicy Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

    It was one of those days today. You know, one where you just didn't sleep right and got up too late and had to rush first thing, and all day long your eyes are watering and your nose is running and you pray you're not getting sick while everyone around you sneezes and coughs, and your hair looks like something went seriously wrong, but you're not sure what, and you have to work like a nut, then rush to pick up the kids from school, and you get caught in a rainstorm, and it being bitterly cold and windy, they're whining and miserable, and you wonder....

    So I shelved my Tofu Masala dinner plans, because, by dinner time, I just wanted something comforting, something simple. Eggs. The perfect little protein.

    I made my scrambled eggs on toast a treat by sauteing some baby portobellos and my last pretty chanterelle in garlic (you can hardly see the ports as they were on top of the toast before I topped them with scrambled eggs). Topped with some goat cheese and my secret luxury ingredient, a little white truffle butter (if only I'd remembered it sooner, I'd have cooked the eggs in it).

    Happily, they were perfect.

    Now all I need is a huge claw foot tub, plenty of hot water and a bubble bath. Well, at least I know what I want!

    Monday, January 07, 2008

    Eggs by Michel Roux

    I took the week of Christmas off work to relax with my children. And we really relaxed! We slept in till 9am most days. I don't think I've had this much sleep since my son was born....nine years ago!

    And every morning, I indulged in my favorite sentimental home breakfast: a boiled egg with toast. Reminiscent but improved from my childhood version, I enjoyed my boiled egg with either toasted baguette or Ferrari sliced pugliese, both are outstanding. And I alternated the butter between Kerrygold's Pure Irish butter (salted) and Double Devon Cream about simple luxury! My mum brought me half a dozen phenomenal farmers market eggs for Christmas. There's nothing like a really fresh egg.

    So I was very pleased to receive Michel Roux's cookbook Eggs for Christmas. This is a delightful cookbook with perfect photographs.

    A small sized cookbook with a personal feel, it reminded my of Clotilde Dusoulier's Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen. The book is organized around a style of cooking eggs (boiling, baking, souffle etc) and every recipe is celebrated with a glorious photograph.

    From the back cover, "Fried Quail's Eggs on Toast with Mustard Hollandaise":

    "Scrambled Eggs 'Magda' on Fried Bread"

    "Scrambled Eggs Clamart (with peas and lettuce leaves):

    I won't torment you further....and there's some sweet-looking desserts!

    Oh, Michel, please come and cook breakfast for me!

    Roux is a highly acclaimed chef and has held three Michelin stars at The Waterside Inn near Windsor in England for 21 years.

    And, I'm absolutely going to try the "Scrambled Eggs with Rhubarb", a 20 year old recipe from The Waterside. While the recipes include meat and seafood, there's plenty of wonderful options for the vegetarian cook.

    This is cookbook beauty at it's best. Now if I could just find the perfect eggcup....

    Saturday, January 05, 2008

    Happy New Year!

    Happy New Year!

    One of my New Year's resolutions this year is to focus on making myself happier. I figure that's a resolution I'll be strongly motivated to keep. Of course, I have other resolutions, but I like this one the best!

    And happiness often seems to come hand-in-hand with simplicity. Like a cheese and tomato sandwich with Ferrari sliced pugliese, havarti, organic tomatoes, plenty of avocado with S& P, and a little gooey Mt Tam cheese:

    Sometimes simplicity and happiness come in the form of delivery pizza:

    Here's a slice of Extreme Pizza! In this case, the California Cactus with black beans, salsa, green chilies, black olives, red onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro and cheddar. Hey, I could have made this one myself! Still, in this case, it was nice not to have to.