Sunday, March 19, 2017

Delicious Hummus from Scratch

If there's one food my whole family really love, it's Hummus.  Hummus is a tasty savory spread/dip made from chickpeas (a.k.a garbanzo beans), tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and, depending on your taste, garlic.  I've been experimenting with making hummus from scratch. My first recipe was Mark Bittman's, which appealed because you simply put all the ingredients into a food processor and puree until smooth. I really liked this version, although mine came out rather thick. I added coriander and sumac and everybody really liked it.

A friend then brought his own version of homemade hummus for a picnic lunch and it was outstanding. And he had used canned chickpeas!  The recipe is from the cookbook Zahav by Michael Solomon, an Israeli recipe. This recipe produces a super light, almost fluffy, hummus with a meringue  -like shine.  It does involve a lot more washing up, but I think it's worth it. You make the a tahini sauce first, then add the chickpeas.

Here's my adapted recipe:

Chickpeas from scratch:
Soak chickpeas in water overnight. They will double in size. Cook, partially covered until very tender (about and hour and a half).

Tahini Sauce:
1/2 head of garlic
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup tahini
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Break up the garlic and put the cloves into the blender unpeeled. Add the lemon juice and 1/4 tsp salt and puree. Wait 10 minutes for the garlic to mellow:

Strain the mixture into a food processor, using the back of a spoon to press as much of the strained liquid as possible:

Add the tahini, the remaining salt and the cumin to the food processor and puree, adding iced cold water to smooth the mixture out (I added about 1/4 -1/3 cup of water):

The result is this lovely, shiny tahini sauce:

 Remove the tahini sauce from the food processor to another bowl (don't skip this step). Clean out the food processor, then add 3 cups of cooked chickpeas and the tahini back to the food processor. Puree until smooth. Serve with cut vegetables and or crackers. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Chard and Potato Gratin

Whenever I see a really nice bunch of chard at the Farmers Market, I make this wonderful Chard and Potato Gratin. The recipe is from Georgeanne Brennan's The Vegetarian Table: France and it has a simplicity and indulgence that says French country cuisine. There's something wonderfully messy about chopped chard: it seems to get everywhere ! Layered with thinly sliced potatoes, dotted with butter, and grated cheese, it takes only a ten minutes to prepare and then an hour in the oven.  

Chard and Potato Gratin:
(4 small portions)garlic clove
1 bunch chard, ribs removed, leaves chopped (save the ribs for soup)
2 medium potatoes, sliced as thin as possible
3 oz Emmental cheese, grated, or Swiss or another nutty cheese
1/4 cup half-and-half (cream or milk can be substituted)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a deep 9" x 5" dish and rub the sides with a cut garlic clove.  Layer 1/2 of the thinly sliced potatoes on the bottom of the dish. Dot with butter. Season with a grind of salt and pepper. Add 1/2 of the chopped chard leaves and top with 1/2 of the grated cheese. Add a second layer using the other half of thinly sliced potatoes, dot with butter and season with salt and pepper.

Add the remaining chopped chard and remaining cheese. Pour the half-and-half (cream/milk) over the top.Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour. Enjoy!

Don't forget to save the chard ribs for soup! Here's some other ideas for chard stems from the kitchn.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Vegetarian Meals In England

While the following photos are by no means a complete picture of our recent trip to England with my daughter, I hope you enjoy a taste of our trip!

It was hot and humid in England and I very much enjoyed this refreshing Rose Lemonade at Camden Market- please bring this to the US!  My daughter loved Cereal Killer, where you can compose your own cereal bowl with cereals from around the globe and candy toppings:

A delicious crusty baked brie with apricot chutney at a pub in Hampstead:

Vegetarian mezze plate at Bill's in Oxford:

A vegetarian English breakfast at our Oxford hotel:

A vegetarian pie with veg and mashed root vegetables at a pub in Hampton Court:

Excellent cheese souffle appetizer at the new restaurant at the Tate Modern:

The only vegetarian main at the Tate Modern - goat cheese and tomato pie with greens:

Baked brie at Captain Digby's in Broadstairs, Kent:

Halloumi salads were a common menu item (this one at Captain Digby's):

Ploughman's lunch (without the ham) atThe Old Weavers House (1500, that's A.D) in Canterbury:

Spectacular English picnic prepared by my friend C and very much enjoyed at Knole (Vita Sackville-West's childhood home) in Kent:

This vegetarian English breakfast at London's Pride (Heathrow Airport) was excellent, particularly the bubble cake ( that's bubble and squeak, a fried cake made of mashed potatoes and left-over veg - particularly greens, like cabbage) and the vegetarian "sausage":

And, of course, the sentimental favourite, 99s (creamy swirly vanilla ice cream with a chocolate flake):

So what English goodies did I cram into our suitcase to bring home?  Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Harvest Tarte for Thanksgiving & Christmas

These savory puff pastry tartes were a big hit as our vegetarian main for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Enjoyed by both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, these Harvest Tartes have endless possibilities for the vegetable stuffing inside. Plus, the frozen puff pastry sheets (Pepperidge Farm) are vegan, and the recipe makes two tartes.  I used mushrooms, pesto, cauliflower, romanesca, broccolini, lentils, cheese and spinach in this recipe.

Harvest Tartes Recipe:

1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (Frozen)
8oz mushrooms (I used baby portobellos and King Trumpets), sliced
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp butter (or oil)
fresh herbs, finely chopped, if available (optional)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 cups of vegetables (I used cauliflower, romanesca, and broccolini)
1-2 TBS pesto (or other sauce)
3 TSP cooked lentils (optional or sub another cooked grain/pulse)
6 oz baby spinach
1-2 TBS vegetable broth
2 oz cheese (I used Cowgirl Creamery's Mount Tam)
1 egg, beaten to glaze (optional)

Remove the puff pastry sheets from the freezer, open the packages and open the sheets up. Defrost for 30-40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees.

Put a little oil in a frying pan and lightly cook a clove of garlic. Add the sliced mushrooms, spreading them out in the pan so they cook evenly. Add the butter and fresh herbs, if using, or a little more oil as needed. Cook until the mushrooms have released their juices but are still slightly firm. Salt & Pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a frying pan, heat 1-2 TBS olive oil and fry 1-2 crushed garlic cloves over low heat.  Add your  2-3 cups for vegetables and fry until your vegetables are beginning to soften:

Add the pesto, lentils, vegetable broth, spinach and salt and pepper. Cover and cook a couple more minutes. Vegetables should be almost cooked, but still firm.  

When you unfold the puff pastry sheets, you'll see lines from the folds where they were folded which basically divide them into 3 long sections each.  Cut even thin fingers on the two outer sections per the picture below:

I layered the mushrooms along the un-cut center section and topped them with my cooked vegetables with lentils, and topped the vegetables with cheese:

You then fold the fingers over the filling, one finger from one side, then one finger from the other side until all the filling is covered:

Place on a baking sheet line with a non-stick silicone baking mat (or use foil if you don't have one) to prevent the bottom from sticking to the baking sheet.  Brush with beaten egg, if desired, to get the shiny glaze you see on the cooked version below. Put in the oven and bake 20-25 minutes, until crisp and golden.

Let it cool a bit before trying to move it off the line baking sheet as it is very fragile when hot. Use two spatulas to prevent it breaking when moving.

Enjoy with vegetables, as an appetizer, a salad depending on the season!

Below is a picture of my Christmas lunch!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Zucchini & Mushroom Bread Pudding with Squash Blossoms

Here's an easy-to-make, inexpensive, and very tasty savory bread pudding recipe that combines garlicky zucchini and mushrooms  with pesto, cheese and eggs.

My daughter announced that she "really likes zucchini", so we picked up some zucchini and squash blossoms at the Farmers Market. I had some dry sliced white bread that needed using and this recipe transformed something that could have been wasted into a delicious couple of meals! Perfect with a fresh green salad on the side.

Zucchini and Mushroom Bread Pudding with Squash Blossoms
2-3 slices of dry bread
3 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar and Emmental. Feta would also be delicious, but reduce to 1/4 cup crumbled feta)
olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
2 medium zucchini, quarter lengthwise and cut into slices
8-10 small mushrooms
squash blossoms to decorate if available

Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Grease a 9 1/2 " pie pan.
Spread the dry bread generously with pesto and cut into 1 inch squares.  Arrange the squares in the bottom and edges of the pie pan.
Beat 3 eggs, add the milk, and beat to combine. Add salt and pepper to the egg mixture.

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic and shallot with salt and pepper. Cook over medium, stirring well, for 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini, salt and pepper, and cook for 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until zucchini is almost tender.

Spread the cooked vegetables over the bread. Top with the grated cheese (or crumbled feta). Pour the egg mixture over the bread, vegetables, and cheese and use a spatula to press the ingredients down into the egg mixture.

If you have squash blossoms, remove the stems and the stamens from inside. Carefully, tear open each blossom on one side so they open flat like a book. Place them on top of the egg mixture and gently press down into the egg mixture.

Bake at 350 F degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Enjoy with a salad!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Asparagus & Potato Soup

This simple recipe for Asparagus & Potato soup can be made in 30 minutes and makes excellent use of the larger asparagus as the season comes to an end.  Comforting, light, and easy on the stomach, this is the perfect "feel better" food.

I brightened the flavor with a little citrus vinegar, but lemon juice will also do the trick,

Asparagus & Potato Soup:

1 TBS butter, salted
1/4 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, pressed
3/4 cup diced potato
1 large bunch of asparagus, woody stems removed, cut into thin rounds
3 cups of vegetable broth
1/8 tsp citrus vinegar or lemon juice
Chives, finely chopped (optional)

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the finely chopped onion. Cook for 3 minutes over medium-low heat and add the garlic. Cook one minute and add the diced potato. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring so the potato doesn't stick. Add the asparagus and a little extra butter or olive oil and stir. Add salt and pepper and cover and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the vegetable broth and partially cover. Turn up the heat to bring the liquid to the boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and puree using an immersion blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Top with chives, if desired.  Sour cream or creme fraiche would also be good!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pinto Bean, Avocado, Broccoli Bowl Topped with a Fried Egg

The greatness of the "bowl" is that it encourages you to make something varied and delicious with items you already have on hand.  This bowl above combines pinto beans, cooked rice, broccoli and avocado and tops it with a fried egg.  If this had been for me, there would have been salsa and hot sauce too!

Beans and/or a grain, some lightly cooked greens, roasted vegetables, olives, nuts and your favorite sauces are all you need to make a quick lunch or dinner that is healthy and uses the best produce of the season.  Think Asian or Mediterranean or Indian! Mix cooked and raw vegetables. This is the perfect dish for those dried lentils or new grain you've been meaning to try or those fancy flavored olive oils or vinegars.

One of my favorite combos is black beans and dinosaur kale. What's your favorite bowl?