Archive for the 'vegetarian' Category

24
Jul
11

Watermelon Granita

Complain about the weather and watch me roll my eyes. But this summer, I get it. I am complaining, too. It’s been a million degrees every day this past month in St. Louis. When the sun isn’t blazing, rain is pouring. And before it got hot, we had tornadoes every other week.

Yes, I am tired of it.

How hot was it this week? I’ll spare you the triple-digit heat index. It was so hot that a colleague of mine baked two dozen cookies in her car outside the paper. It was so hot that the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market was packed before 8:30 a.m. It was so hot that Gabi hasn’t gotten to splash around in her wading pool since the beginning of July.

When it’s 100-plus degrees, it’s almost too hot for ice cream. Sorbet or granita is better. Both are lighter, cleaner, stronger. This weekend, watermelon granita fit the bill.

Granita is an Italian semi-frozen dessert made from water, sugar, and fruit. First you make a simple syrup. Then puree the fruit in a blender. Combine the two in a metal baking dish, freeze, stir with a fork after a few hours and sha-bam. You have granita. If you need to,  put it on the counter for a few minutes to thaw a bit before serving.

I love this recipe. If you love watermelon like my toddler and I do, then you will too.

For extra indulgence,  drizzle a half-teaspoon of Campari over your bowl of granita. The result is an adult icee that will make you feel better about the heat.

Watermelon Granita
adapted from Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups watermelon,  cut into 1-inch cubes
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 to 2 teaspoons Campari (optional)

Heat sugar and water in a heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Cool.

Puree the watermelon in a blender. Measure out two cups of puree. Stir in sugar syrups and lime juice. Pour into 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan. Freeze 2 hours. Stir with a fork, then freeze until solid, about 3 hours. Using for, scrape granita to form crystals. Spoon into bowls. Drizzle 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Campari over each.

07
Jul
11

Green Beans with Shaved Onion, Fried Almonds and Iberico Cheese

This past weekend, Jeff got up at 6:30 a.m. and began the 14-hour task of smoking a brisket. It was an 8-pounder — a week’s worth of sandwiches. As wonderful as the tender brisket was (we could pull it apart with forks), four days later we have become brisket-ed out. Too much meat, I must say. But the beans I could eat forever.

These were my contribution to the meal, plus homemade white bread. Honestly, It’s hard to find a green beans worth blogging about. I typically fall back on sauteing them with shallots and slivered almonds. This Spanish combination of red onion, fried almonds, herbs and Iberico cheese is a different twist and one that must replace the shallots-and-almonds stand by. Manchego or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses work well here, too.

Slicing the onion as thin as humanly possible is key here. If you have a mandolin, use it. Or, consider buying an inexpensive hand-held one.

These beans were toddler approved. We adults loved them too.

Green Beans with Shaved Onion, Fried Almonds and Iberico Cheese
adapted, just slightly, from Olives and Oranges

1/4 plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup whole raw almonds
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound green beans, trimmed
5 ounces Iberico cheese (or Manchego or Parmigiano-Reggiano), rind removed, cut into 1/3- to 1/2-inch irregular chunks
1 small red onion, thinly sliced or shaved on a mandoline or vegetable slicer
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley, basil, oregano, and/or any combination of herbs

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Add almonds and cook, shaking skillet back and forth every now and then until nuts are golden and start to pop, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and stir. Remove nuts from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Then coarsely chop.

Bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to a boil. Add beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and immediately toss beans with remaining 1/4 cup oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Add cheese, onion and herbs. Toss well. Let sit for a few minutes, then toss with almonds and serve.

09
Jun
11

Spinach and Feta Strata

I’ve begun cooking my way through Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day. I LOVE this cookbook. I’m determined to make everything in it, from the little quinoa patties to the honey and rose water tapioca. Like most of Heidi’s recipes, this spinach and feta strata makes you feel full of energy. It’s chock full of good things. It tastes great. On top of that, it’s quick and easy.

Every now and then, an occasion arises when an impressive breakfast is needed, something that’s pre-made but also fresh from the oven. It’s been nice these past two weeks NOT having one of those occasions. It was just Jeff, Gabi and me pattering around the house. But because I consider the two of them worthy of above-average breakfasts, I popped this in the oven over Memorial Day weekend and it fed us for two days .

Another thing I love about this is you make it the night before. As you sleep, the bread soaks up the eggy milk mixture. I love the spinach in this, but you could also use chard. The feta blends in nicely, adding a bit of saltiness. To top it off, I snipped some fresh herbs growing outside and crumbled them on top.

Absolutely delish.

Spinach and Feta Strata
slightly adapted from Super Natural Every Day

Zest from 1 lemon, grated
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups milk
6 large eggs
3 cups day-old whole wheat bread cubes (1/2-inch)
2 cups finely chopped spinach or chard
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

Drizzle a little olive oil in a 9 x 9-inch baking dish (or equivalent). Sprinkle the pan with the lemon zest.

In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper with a splash of the milk. Whisk in the rest of the milk and eggs.

Put the bread in the prepared baking dish and top with the spinach and half of the feta. Gently toss this with your hands so that the spinach and feta mix with the bread. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and sprinkle with the remaining feta. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the top third of the oven.

Bake the strata uncovered for 45 to 55 minutes, until the egg is set in the middle and the sides are browned. You may need to cut into the middle for a test to see that it’s done. (Optional: put the strata under the broiler on low setting before removing from the oven just to brown the top a bit more.)

Serve warm, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkling of chopped fresh oregano.

Serves 6.

29
May
11

Spring Asparagus Stir Fry

This is the first weekend in two months that isn’t dominated by something pressing.  Our hardwood floors are now refinished. The furniture is moved back in, the books finally back on bookshelves, and the china in the china cabinet. Our nine-hour drive to visit my grandmother in central Kansas is over. We’ve spent a few days with my parents on the other side of the state. And then Jeff’s folks came. Not to mention, work has been INSANE juggling end-of-school-year stories and breaking news in urban education.

On Saturday, Gabi and I went to the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market and stocked up on asparagus.  Every spring Jeff and I crave green veggies so much that we nearly overdose on asparagus. We’re headed in that direction once again. Last weekend, I made stir-fried asparagus with oyster sauce for Jeff’s parents, and it was as delish as ever. Last night, I revisited this incredible asparagus stir fry I’d found on Heidi Swanson’s foodblog, 101cookbooks.com, and first tried three weeks ago. If you haven’t been to her site, it’s wonderful. So is her new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day. More on that later this week.

This stir fry has a little of everything as far as flavor goes. The asparagus and tofu dominate. Then you have heat from the ginger and crushed red pepper flakes, sweetness from the hoison sauce, tang from the lime zest and juice. Cashews provide texture, and mint and basil round it out. Hoison, by the way, is a thick sweet sauce widely used in Chinese cooking.

There are many things I love about Heidi Swanson’s recipes. The first is that they always make me feel good. The second is that you can easily mix and match ingredients without being too worried about it.

At the market, I bought a few handfuls of this tatsoi, with the intention of using it instead of chard or spinach. Tatsoi is a mild Asian green. It looks like a cross between bok choy and spinach, and works really well in stir fries.

Continue reading ‘Spring Asparagus Stir Fry’

27
May
11

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

It’s Memorial Day weekend. We’ve had hints of summer –a few humid, hot days — but  it’s definitely still spring. Case in point: rhubarb abounds. And strawberries are at full tilt. They’re the best kind of strawberries, the ones that are so red you can taste the color. We’ve had two weeks of incredible strawberries in our Fair Shares CSA box, and we’ve needed them. They’ve been mood lifters. For those of you who haven’t heard, we’ve had some pretty crummy weather in the Midwest this spring. Tornadoes everywhere. The sirens go off almost weekly it seems.

Fortunately, strawberries and rhubarb provide comfort.

The most obvious combination is this simple crumble. The strawberries and rhubarb almost melt into each other. It’s a fusion of sweet and tart. I made this for the first time in 2008. It’s so amazingly delicious that it’s an annual ritual.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Divine.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
slightly adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

For filling:

2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved (quartered if strawberries are large), about 6 cups
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices, about 4 1/2 cups
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

For topping:

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, slightly softened

Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 425° F.

Gently mix the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl. Spoon the mixture into a shallow 3-quart baking dish.

Stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Blend in butter with your fingers until mixture forms small clumps.

Crumble topping evenly over strawberries and rhubarb. Bake until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack and serve warm.

Serving suggestion: with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 8

18
Apr
11

Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Couscous and Mint Gremolata

The plan Saturday was to get through a gigantic to-do list: a jewelry party, playing with Gabi, getting Gabi’s haircut, running three miles, cleaning the kitchen, exchanging a shirt, and replacing the dead pansies in one of the window boxes. I accomplished half of it — no small feat when you have a scrumptious and distracting toddler.

Amazingly, she went down for a morning nap (we thought the morning naps had ended), so I took advantage of the quiet and made this stew. I’d intended to make it last weekend. But the sun was out and we spent hours at the park instead. But this past Saturday was dreary — perfect cooking weather.

Now about this stew. I come back to it year after year, and for good reason. It’s an aromatic combination of tomato, leeks, carrots, chickpeas, green peas, spinach and couscous. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I need to throw something together for someone who doesn’t eat meat or dairy. It’s fairly quick to make, but has layers of flavor. It’s incredibly healthy. It’s incredibly hearty. It’s nothing short of amazing.

It calls for saffron, a warm spice commonly found in Spanish and Mediterranean dishes. Saffron is pricey, so good thing that a little goes a long way. The additional combination of cinnamon, ground ginger and red chili flakes is what makes this stew so wonderful. The gremolata — finely chopped garlic, parsley, mint and lemon zest — adds freshness. Don’t skip it.

Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Couscous and Mint Gremolata
Simple Meals by Organic Style, Summer 2003

Stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch diagonals
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
Large pinch saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup peas, frozen or fresh
1/2 pound spinach, washed, stemmed and roughly chopped

Couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup plain couscous
1 teaspoon salt

Gremolata
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

To make the stew:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, 5 quarts or so, over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 or 8 minutes. Watch so they don’t burn.

Add the tomato paste and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in carrots, tomatoes, saffron, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, and ginger. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Add the beans, salt, pepper, and 1 3/4 cups of water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the peas and spinach, and cook uncovered for another 2 minutes, just until the spinach is wilted. (Can be made a few hours ahead of time. Anything more than that, the peas and spinach will not be bright green.)

To make the couscous:

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the couscous and stir until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.Meanwhile, bring 1 1/3 cups of water to a boil. Sprinkle salt over couscous. Pour water over couscous and cover. Let the couscous stand for 5 minutes, until the water is absorbed.

Make the gremolata:

Combine the finely chopped mint, parsley, garlic and lemon zest in a small bowl.

Assemble:

Divide the stew evenly among 4 shallow bowls. Dish couscous into the center of each bowl (a half-cup measure works wonders). Sprinkle gremolata over each bowl of stew.

Serves 4

11
Apr
11

Coconut and Macadamia Banana Bread

I baked this with the intent of giving it to our new neighbors. They moved into the house at the bend of the street sometime in January, so I’ve been feeling incredibly guilty about not getting over there sooner. But when this bread came out of the oven, I quickly got over it. It had been about a year since I’d baked this particular banana bread, one of my all-time favorites. The coconut and macadamia nuts give it a tropical twist. Lemon zest adds brightness. The sour cream makes it extra moist.

I’d forgotten how difficult it is to be charitable with something that smells this wonderful when it comes out of the oven. Their banana bread will have to come later, I decided.

Before Gabi came along, I’d make this bread or a different version by Martha Stewart almost once a month. I was a banana bread fiend and always had extra loaves in the freezer for when we had company. These days, I don’t have time to bake like that. Not to mention, we rarely have leftover bananas. This little one is very much into them.

They only drawback to this bread is the macadamia nuts. They aren’t cheap. Walnuts are a less expensive substitute and just as good.

During baking, the smell of coconut, banana and vanilla fill the house. It’s hard to resist. After allowing the bread to cool, I immediately cut a piece off of one for myself and put the other in the freezer for next week. This weekend, I’ll bake another two loaves: one for work, and the other for our new neighbors.

Coconut and Macadamia Banana Bread
slightly adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
3 large overripe bananas, mashed
3 tablespoons sour cream
3/4 cup (6 ounces) chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350° F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Generously butter two loaf pans — about 8-inch by 4-inch.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat together butter and sugars into a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, zest, bananas and sour cream, beating until just combined. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Stir in nuts and coconut by hand.

Divide batter between buttered loaf pans and smooth tops. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in the center of bread comes out clean. Remove bread from pans and cool completely, right side up. on cooling rack.

Bread can be kept wrapped at room temperature for two days, refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen (double wrapped) for up to three months.




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