I liked the miso tahini turnip soup from 101cookbooks so much I decided to try another soup recipe from her blog, this time for “immunity soup,” built on a garlic, ginger, pepper broth. The recipe calls for white pepper but I didn’t have any, so I just used black pepper. I assumed the only difference was cosmetic, but maybe white pepper actually tastes different, because this recipe was a let down. I thought the soup would be wasabi-up-your-sinuses intense, but we found it bland, even after adding more black pepper. I really like clean, brothy soups in general, but this one was unsatisfying. It didn’t taste bad, it was just boring and a bit bland. Maybe if I’d been able to find some pea shoots they would have brought the whole dish together? I doubt it.
It’s turnip time! My farmer’s market here in Saarbruecken is full of beautiful bunches of white turnip, with the greens still attached. The name for these turnips is Mairübchen, literally “little May root” or “May root-let.” But they’re not little. Each turnip is about 2 to 3.5 inches in diameter. I’ve been buying lots of turnips just so I can eat the greens, but I had to figure out what to do with the turnips themselves.
I’ve never been a huge turnip fan, and I don’t have so many go-to recipe. I like them raw in salads, in soup (with leeks, potatoes, and chard), and in stews (like this tagine or Thai curry). But I had one last delicata squash from the fall that was turning soft and needed to get used up, and some leftover brown rice int the fridge, so rather than making an old recipe, I decided to try a new recipe for miso tahini soup from 101cookbooks. I love Peter Berley’s miso-based tortilla soup with avocados, so the addition of avocado didn’t seem that odd. But a miso soup with tahini and lemon juice? I could not imagine it. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek and I picked this recipe from the winter section of Fresh Food Fast for dinner last night. The pancakes are supposed to be chock full of shredded cabbage, grated carrot, scallions, and dill. Instead of adding the shredded green cabbage, however, I used some of my homemade sauerkraut. Read the rest of this entry »
I was in California last week visiting my friends Spoons and Kathy, and I noticed that they had a copy of Peter Berley’s newest cookbook, The Flexitarian Table. They said they never use it and that I could take it with me to Germany. Although the cookbook isn’t actually vegetarian, every menu has a vegetarian option, so it’s very vegetarian friendly. This recipe for navy bean, fresh pea, and leek soup caught my eye because it calls for sauerkraut, and (under my mother’s telephonic tutelage) I just finished making a big batch of sauerkraut right before I left for California. On my return, faced with a near-empty fridge brandishing two quart jars of sauerkraut, I decided to give this recipe a try. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve never actually had hot and sour soup before, so I’m not sure what it’s supposed to taste like. But Derek has fond memories of it, so I thought I’d give this recipe from the AMA cookbook a try. Read the rest of this entry »
As you can see, I’m on an escarole kick. I’m so excited to have found it after four years, that I’m trying every escarole recipe I can find. This one is from the autumn section of Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast. It’s actually called baked eggs with escarole but the dish seemed more escarole-y than eggy to me, so I’ve renamed it. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe is supposed to be a spring medley with mushrooms, escarole, mint, and freshly shelled spring peas, but I decided to just use frozen peas and turn it into an autumn dish. The recipe is from the Union Square Cookbook, by Danny Meyer and Michael Romano. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek and I used to love the escarole and beans appetizer at Girasole in Pittsburgh. It consisted of braised escarole and white beans in a rich tomato sauce. It was hearty, warming, and satisfying. I hadn’t thought about it for years, until this week I saw a green that looked a lot like escarole at the farmer’s market. I asked the farmer what it was and he called it “Endivien”–the German word for endive. I asked him if you could cook with it and he said Germans only ever eat it raw in salads. But it looked similar enough that I decided to try making escarole and beans with it. There are tons of recipes online for escarole and white bean soup, and a few for escarole and bean dishes, but none seem to call for tomato sauce. So I decided not to try to follow a recipe. Nonetheless, my beans and greens came out quite well. Read the rest of this entry »
This post is about another recipe I found on the New York Times, in Martha Rose Shulman’s Recipes for Health series. Besides being really tasty, asparagus is a nutritional power house. And its one of the first fresh green vegetables that is available here in the spring. (Okay, actually the asparagus here is usually white, but I don’t like it very much, and always try to find green asparagus.) I usually roast asparagus and then drizzle it with balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese, but I had a big bunch of parsley in the fridge and decided to try something new—steamed asparagus with gremolata. Read the rest of this entry »
When I visited China I found it quite difficult to find vegetarian food, but I usually didn’t have to worry about breakfast. Most hotels offered a big pot of congee–basically porridge made from white rice. It seems to be the Chinese version of oatmeal, except that instead of maple fruit, nuts, and fruits, the congee was served with meats, stir-fried vegetables, chili pastes, and pickles of various sorts. I really enjoyed the combination of the hot creamy congee and the stir-fried Chinese greens. An excellent breakfast. Today I had some bok choy that I wanted to use up and I was excited to come across this New York Times recipe for congee with bok choy and scallion oil. It’s from a vegetarian Chinese cookbook: “From the earth: Chinese vegetarian cooking” by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo. Read the rest of this entry »
I bought some tempeh but didn’t feel like making one of my tempeh standbys. I wanted to try a new tempeh recipe. I’d never tried including tempeh in an Indian recipe before, so I thought I’d give it a try. I found a recipe for tempeh curry on the 101cookbooks site. It’s a pretty basic recipe. You make a simple curry sauce out of a base of butter, onions, tomatoes and spices, then add in the tempeh and some steamed potatoes, simmer until tender, and garnish with cilantro. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe from The Vegetarian Table: Italy (by Julia Della Croce) is for a Sardinian version of pasta e fagioli. It didn’t look too exciting to me. I like all the ingredients, but there didn’t seem to be anything to give it punch. But a friend told me it was one of his favorite recipes from the cookbook, so I figured I’d give it a try. It turned out it was delicious—much more than the sum of its parts. I have no idea why. Even Derek, who complained bitterly about me making soup again, liked it a lot. Read the rest of this entry »
I already have two go-to red lentil soup recipes (Turkish and curried), but somehow I wasn’t in the mood for either of them, and I decided to try a new recipe instead. This recipe is from 101cookbooks, and based on a recipe from Deborah Madison. I followed the recipe closely except that instead of a bunch of spinach I used a bag of mixed greens (baby spinach, arugula, and baby chard). I didn’t chop the leaves, which was probably a mistake as they ended up a bit stringy. I didn’t serve the soup with brown rice, and we didn’t miss it. We did try it with yogurt, and it seemed good both with and without the yogurt.
I don’t know why the recipe calls for yellow mustard seeds instead of the black ones that most Indian recipes call for. And they’re not popped in hot oil. I’ve actually never cooked with whole yellow mustard seeds before. I had to go out and buy some!
I ended up using the juice of two lemons, which made the soup quite lemony. The first day it was perhaps a bit too much lemon, but as leftovers it was fine — the lemon seemed to mellow down.
This soup is more Indian tasting than my other two red lentil soup recipes. Derek said it tasted similar to other dals I’ve made in the past, but I thought all the lemon juice made it taste a bit unusual. This recipe has a lot of turmeric and salt! I used kosher salt but still I found the soup a tad too salty for my taste. Derek was happy though. He ate the soup for breakfast several days in a row.
I’ll definitely throw this recipe into my red lentil soup rotation.
Update Feb 2013: I recently tried a red lentil and coconut milk soup from Deborah Madison. The recipe is actually titled “fragrant red lentils with basmati rice and romanesco.” In addition to the coconut milk, the lentils are seasoned with ginger, turmeric, jalapeños onions, cayenne, bay leaf, and black mustard seeds. The recipe also calls for romanesco, but I couldn’t find any so I used cauliflower The cauliflower florets are sautéed with the same basic seasonings as the lentils, then everything is combined and garnished with cilantro and yogurt. The recipe was fine, but it was more work than other red lentil recipes I’ve made, without being particularly exciting. I won’t make it again.
It seems to be soup season around here. I picked this recipe (from Rebecca Wood’s cookbook The Splendid Grain) because it called for wild rice, which I almost never use. Wood says that the flavors in this soup are from the mountains of central Greece, and that the soup has “stellar colors and flavors…. a fantastic play of sweet, sour, salty, and pungent”. It’s not Autumn any more, but I had a jar of roasted bell peppers in the pantry, and all the other ingredients are reasonably wintery. If you’re not using jarred bell peppers then you should prepare the peppers a day in advance to give them time to marinate. Read the rest of this entry »
I bought a big bag of chickpea flour (called besan in India) over a year ago, used it once in a recipe, and then didn’t touch it again. I decided it’s been sitting long enough, so I went searching for recipes that called for chickpea flour. The obvious first recipe to try was socca, a simple flatbread made from chickpea flour, olive oil, and liberal amounts of salt and pepper. I actually had a version of socca a few years ago at a bakery in Florence, but there they call it Torta di Ceci. (In other parts of Italy they often call it Farinata). Whatever the name, despite the rave reviews online, the version I got at the bakery in Florence had a somewhat odd texture (more creamy than crisp) and not all that much flavor. Maybe a homemade version would be better. I used Mark Bittman’s recipe on the New York Times website. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe from Friendly Foods (by Brother Ron Pickarski) was originally titled “Paneer Tofu”, but it’s really a vegan version of Mattar Paneer (peas and paneer in a creamy tomato sauce), which uses tofu instead of paneer cheese. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s unusual to find a light, vegetable-inspired recipe on the Cook’s Illustrated website, so I was intrigued when I saw their recent recipe for a spring pasta dish with leeks, asparagus, peas, mint, chive, and lemon. The ingredient list sounded delicious, and the technique was interesting as well. They toast the pasta in the oil and then cook it in a small amount of liquid, like risotto. The sauce is made from just vegetable broth, a moderate amount of olive oil, and white wine, and they claim it is “light but lustrous and creamy”. Supposedly the starch from the pasta helps it thicken up. Read the rest of this entry »
I had some chard and potatoes that needed to get eaten, and found this recipe in Georgeanne Brennan’s cookbook France: The Vegetarian Table. It looked pretty decadent (lots of butter plus cheese and a bit of heavy cream), but Derek liked how the picture looked and encouraged me to try it. When it came to actually following the recipe, however, I ran into a number of problems. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe is in the winter section of Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, and I’ve been wanting to try it for a while now. Berley says that the salad is “all about the nuance of crunch. The green apple, celery, and walnut each have a different yet complementary toothsome quality in the mouth.” It seemed like a great winter salad, but I was nervous about making this recipe because Derek normally isn’t too excited about celery. I thought I might have to eat all four servings myself. I shouldn’t have worried though — Derek loved it. Read the rest of this entry »
Beet and fennel salad is a standard combination. You’ll find hundreds of recipes for it on the internet. Some recipes call for roasting the beets and fennel, but I prefer the contrast of the crisp, raw fennel and the silky, smooth roasted beets. Many recipes omit the lettuce, but I think it helps bring the salad together, both literally and conceptually. Finally, I like to add hard-boiled eggs to this salad. It’s not traditional but I think beets and hard-boiled eggs just go great together. Traditionally this salad is dressed with a simple vinaigrette, sometimes made with the juice from the beets. But I like it with Annie’s Goddess dressing, of course. Even Derek, who groans whenever I say I’m making salad, really likes this salad. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe makes up the second half of winter menu number five from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast. Last January in Segovia, Spain I had a bowl of garlic soup that was quite satisfying. It was a rich garlic broth with olive oil and little tiny tendrils of egg. I was hoping that this provençal garlic and herb broth would be similar. Berley’s head notes say this pungent broth (made from plenty of garlic and herbs) is a traditional hangover cure in southern France and Spain. He seems to imply that it doesn’t normally have egg in it, because he says “to make it more substantial I enrich it with egg and serve it over croutons with grated parmesan cheese.” I think it’s funny that he added more cheese to a menu that was already swimming in smoked mozzarella (from the bean salad). But, nonetheless, I followed his instructions to a T. Read the rest of this entry »
I remember going to a Lebanese restaurant in a basement in Pittsburgh, and getting a very tasty (but very oily) dish of lentils and rice, covered in caramelized onions. This recipe from the AMA cookbook doesn’t say anything about its origins, but I imagine it’s based on the same traditional Lebanese recipe. Read the rest of this entry »
When I was a kid my mom used to make my grandmother’s noodle kugel recipe on special occasions. It was a savory, not a sweet kugel, and I think it had about a pound each of butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, and eggs. It was tasty, but super rich. So when I saw a similar looking–but lighter–recipe in the AMA cookbook, I was curious to try it. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe is quite simple but extremely tasty, and quite refreshing. The vibrant orange of the salad adds some loveliness brightness to our otherwise grey European winter days. The recipe is based on a recipe in Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, but I’ve modified it a bit to suit my own tastes. Here’s my in-progress version of the recipe. I’ve doubled the amount of carrots because carrot salad makes such nice leftovers, and I can eat it days on end without getting tired of it. If you don’t have a food processor and don’t feel like grating 2 pounds of carrots by hand, by all means cut the recipe back down. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe from the AMA cookbook combines black beans and what I think of as traditional Greek flavorings (garlic, scallions, dill, and yogurt). I couldn’t quite imagine the combination, so I decided to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »
I don’t have time to post full recipes right now but I wanted to say a few words about what I cooked this weekend, before I forget the details. I’ll come back and post the recipes when I get a chance. For dinner last night I started with white bean, rosemary, and fennel soup, which I’ve blogged about before. I also made two new recipes out of my French vegetarian cookbook. The first was a brussels sprouts dish with apples, onions, and cider, and the second recipe was for a beet and potato gratin. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve never made pea soup before. I’m not even sure I’ve ever cooked with fresh peas before. But I saw the peas in the Turkish market and remembered that my new French cookbook (France: The Vegetarian Table) has a recipe for fresh pea soup. Then when I got them home I had a sudden crisis of confidence. Was what I bought actually English peas? Or could they be sugar snaps? I did some research online and determined that I bought the right thing. At the right is the photo from 4.bp.blogspot.com that reassured me. The pea on the left is an English (or sweet) pea. The middle pea is a (very flat) snow pea. The last pea–which is small, fat, and a little pointy–is the sugar snap. Duly reassured, I proceeded to pop the peas out of their pods. Wow, shelling 2 pounds of peas is a lot of work. It took me almost an entire episode of Top Chef Master’s to finish, and my hands were aching by the end. I was praying that that the soup would be worth all the trouble. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m always looking for new recipe for rhubarb, and I came across this recipe for roasted rhubarb on the blog Orangette. Actually, I’m not sure why she calls it roasted because the rhubarb is cooked in white wine and seems to stew more than roast. Whatever you call it, the recipe is dead simple. You just slice the rhubarb into long pieces, add the white wine, some sugar and a vanilla bean, and bake for about 30 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
Cook’s Illustrated’s veggie burger recipe is (as always) fastidious to a fault, and as a result quite labor intensive. It’s also a bit light on vegetables. But the burger tastes good and holds together well, even on the grill. It’s definitely a good place to start when learning the art of creating veggie burgers. Read the rest of this entry »
A few weeks ago I stopped by the grocery store on the way home from work, with no dinner plans. I bought the veggies that looked the freshest–spinach and leeks. When I got home Derek and I looked for recipes. Derek thought that the spinach and leek would make a nice tart, but we didn’t have much cheese and I didn’t have the energy to make a crust. Instead we went with pasta. I was inspired by this BBC recipe, but I left off the blue cheese, cut the amount of pasta, and subbed yogurt for the crème fraîche. Unfortunately I didn’t write down exactly what I did at the time, so some of the measurements below are just my best guess. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s that time of year again. As Passover approaches I try my best to do a Spring pantry cleaning, using up all the grains and beans that I purchased in the previous year but never got around to using. I bought a large bag of dry yellow soybeans at the Asian store when I first moved to Saarbruecken, and I suspect that the two cups still in my cupboard are from that original batch. I could have just cooked them up and eaten them with nutritional yeast and soy sauce, as I normally do, but I was in the mood for something different. I looked around on the web, but found very few recipes, and almost nothing of interest. The Farm Cookbook has a couple recipes for soybeans that I remember from my childhood, but the only one that I considered trying was the recipe for barbecued soybeans (kind of like baked beans). Then I found this recipe in the Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, by Peter Berley, for a risotto with black soybeans and spring white wheat. I subbed in my yellow soybeans for the black ones, and used farro for the wheatberries. The recipe also calls for fresh sage, but I used what I had on hand — fresh oregano.
The recipe says to cook the soybeans and wheat berries separately from the rice. Perhaps because my soybeans were quite old, by the time the soybeans were soft, the farro was extremely well-cooked — with the innards exploding through the husks. I didn’t have any vegetable broth, so I used bouillon cubes. The recipe says to use 1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage, but I put in more oregano, and then after the dish was cooked, I put in about another Tbsp of fresh oregano. (I think almost all fresh herbs taste best added at the very end.) The recipe calls for 4 Tbsp olive oil, but I think I used 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1-2? Tbsp butter. Berley says to stir in 1 Tbsp olive oil at the very end, but I tasted the risotto and it tasted so good I didn’t bother to add the extra olive oil. I think I may have also reduced the salt.
Berley says to cook the risotto in a 2-3 quart saucepan, and I used my 3-quart wide casserole pan. When it came to adding the spinach, however, it was extremely difficult to get it incorporated into the risotto. Even just adding small handfuls at a time, it kept popping out and getting all over the place. If I make this again, I’ll make it in either my big dutch oven or maybe in a 5-quart pan.
I really liked the combination of the arborio rice and the exploded farro kernels. Berley calls the combination of arborio rice with whole grains and beans “new wave risotto”. I actually think I might prefer it to the old wave. There weren’t a lot of soybeans, and you couldn’t really taste them per se, but they added a nice textural contrast and a little…heft. I’m usually not a big fan of spinach, but I actually really liked the spinach in this dish. Derek always likes spinach, and as expected he thought it was good. The first time I served it, he said it was tasty but he was a bit concerned about the quantity of risotto remaining. Berley says it makes 4-6 servings, but I would say six very large servings. Derek’s anxiety, however, was unfounded. We easily polished off all six servings. I actually wouldn’t have minded having it one more time!
I liked this recipe a lot, and I still had soybeans and farro left, so I decided to try another recipe from the Modern Vegetarian Kitchen: Spelt, black soybeans, and vegetable casserole. The casserole calls for carrots, mushrooms, celery, canned tomatoes and cabbage. The combination didn’t sound particularly appetizing, but I liked the risotto so I figured it was worth a shot. I cooked my (yellow) soybeans until soft, then added the farro and cooked until it was al dente. Meanwhile I sauteed all the veggies until they started to caramelize. (I used all the olive oil and salt called for.) Next Berley says to add the tomatoes and some of the cooking liquid from the grain/bean pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. It seemed like a bad idea. At this point the cabbage was nice and crisp and caramelized, but I didn’t think the cabbage would be so appetizing after simmering it for 30 minutes. I did it anyway. In the end, I didn’t care for the dish that much. There wasn’t anything wrong with it exactly, but neither Derek nor I were particularly interested in eating it. It just was blah. We had one or two servings each, then I gave away the remaining quart of casserole/stew to a hungry grad student.
Update December 2010:
I made this recipe again, doubling it this time. I was out of farro so used kamut instead. Also I forgot to chop up the spinach, and the long, stringy pieces of spinach were pretty unappetizing. The dish was also underseasoned this time. Without enough salt and pepper it’s not nearly as tasty. Derek wouldn’t even eat the leftovers–I had to finish them off myself. I’ll have to try again with farro, chopped spinach, and enough seasoning.
Derek had had a really excellent version of cacio e pepe in one of Mario Batali’s restaurants, and was very excited about trying it. Mario Batali’s version has quite a bit of olive oil and some butter, but the Cook’s Illustrated recipe looked unusually light for a cream pasta. They cook the pasta in very little water so that the water ends up very starchy, and can be used to help make the sauce more cohesive. We decided to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »
My friend Alex and I took a walk along the river Saar this evening. Despite the cold, the damp, the dark, and the mist, I had a lovely walk. In the course of our conversation, we started talking about saffron, and I realized I’d never posted one of our favorite risotto’s to my blog: saffron risotto. This dish is plain, but very satisfying. The daisy-yellow color and creamy consistency make me feel like I’m eating macaroni and cheese. There’s just something about saffron that tastes like comfort food to me, even though I never had it growing up. I can’t actually remember the first time I ever ate saffron, but it very well might have been the first time we made this saffron risotto!
The recipe we typically use is based on a recipe from Jack Bishop’s Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. The saffron flavor is maximized by dissolving it in a little hot stock then adding it to the rice toward the end of the cooking time. Bishop’s recipe is good, but quite rich. We usually cut down on the butter quite a bit.
Below I’ve compared Jack Bishop’s recipe to the saffron risotto recipe in Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best Light Recipe. I believe Jack Bishop works for Cook’s Illustrated, so it’s a bit odd that the recipe aren’t more similar. Read the rest of this entry »