Thursday, February 28, 2008

Breadless, Big-Impact, Portobello Burger

I have to admit, I still need to lose a few winter pounds. With our suddenly sunny weather, it's been pretty easy to focus on fresh fruit and vegetables. But after a penitent day of apples, carrots, and cottage cheese, I was feeling... well... deprived.

As I fixed my super-svelte son a vegetarian cheese burger, I couldn't help thinking it looked awfully good. So tonight's breadless, big-impact burger was my dietary answer to your standard vegetarian burger.

I broiled a large portobello, brushed with balsamic vinegar, 2 minced garlic cloves, and the drippiest drop of olive oil, upside down for 4 minutes. Turned it right-side up, brushed again with the marinade and broiled 3 minutes. Blotted the juices with a paper towel and topped with 1 microwaved Morningstar sausage pattie (chopped) and two slices of tomato, brushed with the balsamic marindade. Seasoned and topped with a sliver of Humboldt Fog cheese. Grilled 45 seconds.

Served on top of a handful of spinach that I had poured boiling water over to wilt.

Healthy, low-cal, high-protein, and it felt indulgent.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Catherine's Vegetable Soup

I'd say I'm back on the vegetable-straight-and-narrow after last night's nachos indulgence, but that would make it sound as if this soup wasn't indulgent. And, that would be kinda crazy!

I was in the pleasurable position of having such a wealth of fabulous produce, that storage was starting to be an issue. So I threw a lot of vegetables into this soup: potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, peas, dino kale, and mushrooms. A vegetable broth with a little fresh rosemary and red chili peppers, red lentils, tomato paste, and white beans. Topped with a crostini topped with a horseradish cheddar. Yeah!

But, honestly, discovery of the evening was that you can eat sweet potatoes raw! I don't know if I just lucked out, but my organic sweet potato was super sweet and crunchy raw. Delicious!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wicked Nachos!

Is it blog-worthy to post about a really simple, not so choc-full-of vegetables, dinner?

Yeah, I think it is. Sometimes you've just got to go with the way you feel.

While I usually aim for meals very high in al dente vegetables and low-fat protein, tonight nothing hit the spot like a bowl full of cheesy nachos. I indulged in both cheddar and goat cheese, along with Casa Sanchez spicy salsa and fresh guacamole, with plenty of hot jalapenos. Hey, if I'd had shredded lettuce....

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stir Fry Soup

This was almost certainly the first in a series of experiments to create a really good Stir Fry Soup. I've made a lot of stir fries, full of beautiful healthful green vegetables and high-protein tofu, but they tend to be fairly similar and, lack a certain excitement. Somehow making a soup with stir fry ingredients matched my comfort needs in our currently cold, rainy weather, my dietary needs (read: low-cal), my need for tons of greens and something new to do with tofu, and required very little time to prepare (honestly, 15 minutes).

The experiment was very tasty and successful (the photographs really don't do the dish justice). I have to admit, I didn't measure my ingredients but I think the recipe below is fairly accurate. Next time, I'll add peas and sugar snap peas for a little crunch and sweetness.

Stir Fry Soup:

1/2 TBS peanut oil (smokes at a higher temperature)
1/4 green cabbage, roughly chopped
2 baby bok choy, stems removed, washed well to remove grit
3 oz extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
3 green onions, sliced
1" fresh ginger, skin removed, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 TBS soy sauce ( adjust to your own taste)
1/2 tsp ume plum vinegar
1/2 tsp Chinese chili oil, oil only
1/2 cup cooked rice (I used brown)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cabbage, baby bok choy, tofu, onions, ginger, and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, soy sauce, ume plum vinegar, Chinese chili oil and bring to a boil. Turn down to low and simmer for 4 minutes. Add the cooked rice and cilantro leaves and cook for 1 minute.

Serve with a sprig of cilantro.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Green Cauliflower Gratin

If you haven't tried roasting cauliflower in the oven, you're in for a treat! This simple supper brought together roasted green cauliflower (but any cauliflower will work beautifully), extra-virgin olive oil, salt, meyer lemon juice, halved kalamata olives and pinenuts, topped with a feta cheese sauce.

Wash the cauliflower and cut into florettes. Toss with a little extra-virgin olive oil and salt. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes, turning half way. Put in a ramekin with halved kalamata olives and pine nuts. Squeeze meyer lemon juice over all.

I created a roux with 1 tsp butter, 1 tsp flour and milk, then added the feta. It stays lumpy but that's OK. Short on time, just top with feta cheese. Broil for 2-3 minutes and enjoy!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Chanterelle, Asparagus & Arina Goat Cheese Pizza

Honestly, this post is basically pizza porn.

I was gifted with some fab hand-picked chanterelles, so I sliced and dry fried them to release their juices (they were mighty wet on harvesting), then added a drizzle of EVOO and plenty of salt.

The crust was an organic cornmeal crust from Vicolo. A little shredded mozzarella and crumbled goat cheese created the perfect creamy topping to the crumbly cornmeal crust (like a savory cheesecake). The sauteed Chanterelles and pencil-thin asparagus (lightly tossed in oil) gave texture to the creamy layer, then rich and wonderful Arina Goat Cheese created the finishing flourish. that's good.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Leek & Potato (& Vegetable) Soup

Yep, it's winter and I've been seeing some super soup postings:

  • Fat Free Vegan showcases soup as a way to watch your weight (works for me).

  • A Happy Chicken Tofu Noodle Soup recipe from Melomeals looks delicious and fragrant.

  • A Hearty Vegetable Soup with Orzo from 28 Cooks.

  • The Gracious Bowl always has the focus on soup.

  • Soup is definitely a great lunch for me when the jeans are feeling snug. Soup is a meal that is easy to make, easy to make low-cal, full of vitamins and fiber, and I love the meal-in-one-bowl thing (perfect for a pack lunch).

    I, alas, have one added reason that soup is especially good right now. It requires minimal chewing. I shan't burden you with my dental reality, but soup really is good food.

    This soup was super simple and completely delicious. Leeks, potatoes, carrots, red lentils and peas in vegetable broth. I cooked the leeks in a little butter along with olive oil. Can you believe I made a soup that doesn't have either dino kale or olives?

    This soup was very comforting. And leeks being associated with Wales, a sliver of tangy Tintern cheese on top, really was quite superb.

    Vegan? Just leave out the cheese and butter.

    Saturday, February 02, 2008

    Romanesco & Red Bean Gratin

    One great thing about writing a food blog is you can try whatever food combinations you like. No need to worry about tradition, unless you wish to, no pesky editor to shoot down a creative idea.

    I rarely plan a dish ahead of time these days. I purchase produce based on what looks best and challenge myself to come up with something new and rewarding.

    Truth is, I probably would have used an Italian cheese to make the sauce for this Romanesco & Red Bean Gratin if I'd had one available. But, I didn't so I improvised and the result was show-stopping! What cheese did I use? Tintern, a sharp and creamy Welsh cheese with shallots and chives. The combination really worked.

    Romanesco is the prettiest vegetable:

    Originally from Northern Italy, the Romanesca cauliflower (also known as Broccoli Romanesco and Chou Romanesco) has the texture of a cauliflower, but tastes much more like mild sweet broccoli, with a slighty nutty flavor.

    I steamed the florettes until almost cooked. Then mixed them with the red kidney beans and topped them with a simple roux made with grated Tintern cheese. Broiled for 2-3 minutes. A delicious and comforting winter supper. Soak up any extra sauce with bread.