Roasted portobello mushrooms with balsamic vinegar glaze

October 7, 2011 at 9:27 am (B plus, Peter Berley, Vegetable dishes)

I can’t normally find portobello mushrooms in Germany, but this week I got some from the American store in Ramstein. (Thanks Rowena!) I wanted to make something simple that really showcased the mushrooms, so I decided on this recipe from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley. The top side of the mushrooms are brushed with olive oil and then roasted at 400 F for 30 minutes. Then the mushrooms are sliced and tossed with a “vinaigrette” made from olive oil, garlic, reduced balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and fresh parsley.   Read the rest of this entry »


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Mattar Tofu

September 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm (B plus, Indian, Ron Pickarski, Spring recipes, Tofu, Winter recipes)

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 »

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South Indian mixed-vegetable korma

June 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm (B plus, Cruciferous rich, Indian, Vegetable dishes)

I made this recipe with Spoons when I visited him in Brooklyn last fall, and liked it enough that I emailed myself the recipe.  Finally last week I got around to making it myself.  It’s from Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook “From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Southern blackened tempeh with tomato-apricot-ginger coulis

June 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm (B plus, Beans, Ron Pickarski, Tempeh)

This recipe is also from Friendly Foods, but from the last chapter—recipes that won medals in the Culinary Olympics.  I decided to make it because it called for soysage, which I was trying to figure out what to do with.  Pickarski says that if you don’t have soysage on hand you can use Fantastic Foods instant black bean mix instead.  I imagine homemade refried black beans would also work. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vegan cream of red pepper soup

May 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm (B plus, Miso, Quick weeknight recipe, Ron Pickarski, soup, Soymilk)

This is another recipe from Ron Pickarski’s cookbook Friendly Foods.  It gets its creamy texture from olive oil, soymilk, and pureed potato rather than cream. Pickarski also adds miso for extra umami flavor. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chard and potato terrine

March 10, 2011 at 12:43 am (B plus, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, French, Georgeanne Brennan, Necessarily nonvegan, Root vegetables, Spring recipes, Winter recipes)

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.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Celery salad with green apples, walnuts, and mustard vinaigrette

March 9, 2011 at 11:36 pm (B plus, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, French, Peter Berley, Salads, Spring recipes, Winter recipes)

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 »

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Vietnamese Coleslaw

February 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm (B plus, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Other, Salads, Tofu)

When I was in Austin visiting my family I spotted a new cookbook on my mom’s shelf:  Vietnamese Fusion Vegetarian Cuisine by Chat Mingkwan.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to make Vietnamese food, so I asked if I could borrow it.  My mom had already flagged the recipe for Vietnamese Coleslaw, and so I decided to start there. Read the rest of this entry »

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Black bean and seitan tostadas

February 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm (B plus, Beans, breakfast, Derek's faves, Mexican & S. American, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads, Seitan)

I brought back a big stack of very fresh corn tortillas from Austin.  The first thing I did with them was throw together some bean and cheese tortillas one morning.  But something was wrong–neither Derek nor I liked them that much.  So I decided to try Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast recipe for black bean tostadas with seitan.   The black bean mixture turned out much better than my improvised version. Read the rest of this entry »

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Provençal garlic and herb broth

February 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm (B plus, French, Necessarily nonvegan, Peter Berley, soup, Spring recipes, Winter recipes)

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 »

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Balsamic-roasted seitan over garlic mashed potatoes and parsnips

January 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm (B plus, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Peter Berley, Root vegetables, Seitan, Starches, Winter recipes)

I asked Derek to choose something to make for dinner, and he picked this menu out of the winter section of Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast.  It was a big undertaking!  The menus in this book usually take under an hour, but I had to first make my own seitan.  Even after the seitan was made, this menu took longer than an hour, mostly because peeling the shallots took forever.  Luckily Derek liked the dish a lot, and I enjoyed it as well, so all that effort wasn’t wasted.    Read the rest of this entry »

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Lemon mint lentil potato ragout

December 27, 2010 at 1:15 pm (AMA, B plus, Beans, Beans and greens, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Root vegetables, Starches)

The lentils and potato in this stew create a hearty base, while the lemon, mint, and feta add brightness and lots of flavor.  A bit of spinach adds more lovely green color, and more nutrients.  Based on a recipe in the AMA cookbook. Read the rest of this entry »

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Carrot mint salad

December 27, 2010 at 12:38 pm (B plus, Fall recipes, Middle East / N. Africa, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Salads, Spring recipes, Summer recipes, Winter recipes)

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 »

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Grilled cheese with cheddar, jalapeno, lime, garlic, and sage

November 1, 2010 at 11:43 pm (B plus, Derek's faves, My brain, Necessarily nonvegan, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe)

I don’t remember the last time I made a grilled cheese sandwich.  But we finally found cheddar that we like here in Saarbruecken, and I decided to celebrate by making grilled cheese.  I didn’t want to make just a regular old boring grilled cheese, though, so I pulled out various flavorful additions I had in the fridge:  jalapeno, sage, garlic, and lime. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jamaican Rice and Beans with Thyme

October 11, 2010 at 10:28 am (AMA, B plus, Beans, Caribbean, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Starches, Winter recipes)

When it comes to cookbooks, I have a “one comes in, one goes out” policy, which encourages a “use it or lose it” philosophy.  I have some new cookbooks I want to buy, so I was perusing my cookbook shelf to see what cookbooks I could get rid of.  In doing so, I realized that it’s been a long time since I’ve made anything from my American Medical Association Family Health Cookbook. Perhaps it’s time for it to go?

So I pulled the cookbook down from the shelf and selected a bunch of recipes to make.  If the recipes turn out well I’ll keep the cookbook.  If we don’t love them then the cookbook is getting gifted to a friend. I picked some recipes that I’ve made before but never blogged about, and some recipes I’ve never made.  This particular recipe is new to me.  I chose it because it looked strongly flavored.  The kidney beans and rice are seasoned with a lot of garlic, thyme, and scallions, as well as a little allspice and coconut milk, plus one scotch bonnet (aka habanero) pepper. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roasted carrot soup

September 7, 2010 at 10:10 am (B plus, Cook's Illustrated, Root vegetables, soup, Vegetable dishes)

I bought a bunch of carrots to make carrot halvah, but then Derek never got around to making it, so I decided to make carrot soup.  I found this recipe for roasted carrot soup in Cook’s Illustrated “Best Light Recipe”.  It calls for half chicken broth but I used all veg. broth. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chana dal

August 1, 2010 at 3:45 pm (B plus, Beans, Indian, Other)

I wanted to make sambar for dinner tonight, but when I went to rinse my toor dal, I discovered that it was full of bugs.  I thought about trying to sub in some other kind of dal, but I only had masoor dal and chana dal, and I wasn’t sure whether sambar would taste right with either type of dal.  Instead, I decided to make a new recipe for dal.  I looked in my Madhur Jaffrey World of the East cookbook, and she had one recipe for chana dal with cucumbers.  But then I looked online and I was won over by the picture of the chana dal on the blog (her photo is shown at right).  The dal just looked so creamy and delicious, plus the author says that she’s “struggled at times to produce an Indian dish that’s rounded and deep in flavour, which this definitely was.”  Sounded perfect!  Read the rest of this entry »

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Six summer recipes from Fresh Food Fast

July 24, 2010 at 6:55 pm (B plus, B_, Japanese, Peter Berley, soup, Summer recipes, Tofu, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

I’m on a quest to try all the recipes in the summer section of Fresh Food Fast.  In the past few weeks I tried five new recipes:

  1. Pan-seared summer squash with garlic and mint
  2. White bean and arugula salad with lemon dill vinaigrette
  3. Chilled soba noodles in dashi with tofu and shredded romaine
  4. Warm green beans and new potatoes with sliced eggs and grilled onions
  5. Chilled tomato soup with shallots, cucumbers, and corn.
  6. Spicy corn frittata with tomatoes and scallions
    Read the rest of this entry »

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Soupy salon dal

July 10, 2010 at 9:38 pm (B plus, Beans, Derek's faves, Indian, Website / blog)

I love dal in restaurants but I’ve never really found a recipe for it that I want to make over and over.  So when I saw a recipe in Salon for Dal Chawal, based on a recipe from a home cook, I decided to try it.  Apparently dal chawal is dal mixed with rice.  But I decided to skip the rice (Derek isn’t a fan of white rice) and just make the dal.  But then I went to make the recipe and I realized that it’s kind of crazy.  It calls for 1/2 cup of dal and 5 Tbs. of vegetable oil!  I just couldn’t do it.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Stir-fried tofu and cashews with mushrooms and bell peppers

May 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm (B plus, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Other, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

My brother gave me the cookbook Buddha’s Table by Chat Mingkwan a few years ago.  I immediately started paging through the book, and left it open on my kitchen table.  The next day as soon as I starting looking at the recipes the pages started falling out.  I suspected that the special “layflat binding” was to blame, but when I called the publisher they assured me that they’ve been using this binding for a long time and have had no trouble with it.  They said they’d send me another copy.  They did, but two days after I received it (and before I’d made even a single recipe) the pages started falling out! I figured it wasn’t worth trying to get a third copy.

Although lots of the recipes looked good, I never did get around to trying them.  Many of the recipes call for “vegetarian or mushroom stir-fry sauce” or other pre-made sauces, which kind of turned me off.  First, I don’t tend to have them on hand.  Second, those sauces are pretty much junk.  Thus, whenever I wanted to make something Thai I always ended up using Nancie McDermott’s Thai cookbook instead.  But last week I was determined to finally try the cookbook out.   I bought some vegetarian stir fry sauce at the local Asian shop.  I figured if I liked the recipe with the stir fry sauce I could always try to figure out how to make up a similar sauce on my own.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Creamy celery root, leek, and barley soup

April 26, 2010 at 12:00 am (B plus, French, Georgeanne Brennan, Grains, Root vegetables, soup, Starches, Winter recipes) ()

Derek and I are going to spend a few days in Paris next week–just in time for his 30th birthday!  In anticipation of the trip, I recently bought the cookbook France: The Vegetarian Table, by Georgeann Brennan.  The Vegetarian Table is a series of cookbooks written by different authors, one per country.  In addition to the France cookbook, there is a cookbook for American, Japan, Indian, Italy, Mexico, Thailand, and North Africa.  (When I lived in the co-op in college we had the Japan cookbook and I made excellent pickled ginger using their recipe._  One thing that I really like about the French cookbook is that it offers recipes using produce appropriate to every season.  Mediterranean cookbooks so often rely almost entirely on vegetables that are local here only in the summer–peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, etc.  But Brennan includes recipes that use spring vegetables, and also ones that use vegetables that are available in the winter.  Here in Saarbruecken we’re just starting to see the first of the Spring vegetables, but I’ve been stuffed up lately, and so I was craving hot soup rather than fresh Spring vegetables.  I decided to try one of the winter recipes instead.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Tsimmes with lemon, ginger, and molasses

April 19, 2010 at 10:43 pm (B plus, breakfast, Fall recipes, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Starches, Vegetable dishes, Winter recipes)

In my pantry I found a huge bottle of molasses with just 1 tablespoon of molasses still loitering at the bottom.  I was trying to figure out how to use it up (freeing up pantry space), when I spied one last sweet potato leftover from a big winter sweet-potato push.  I had a bunch of carrots that Derek bought yesterday at the Turkish market, and so I decided to make tsimmes.  I was never a fan of tsimmes as a kid, so I didn’t want to follow a traditional recipe.  Instead I created a more modern take, inspired by the orange-ginger sweet potatoes we made for passover and a honey and lemon glazed carrot recipe I used to make from the AMA cookbook. Read the rest of this entry »

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Orange-ginger sweet potatoes

April 7, 2010 at 4:07 pm (B plus, breakfast, Derek's faves, Peter Berley, Root vegetables, Starches)

Three Thanksgivings ago Derek’s cousin asked me which cookbook was my favorite.  I wasn’t sure what my favorite was, but I told her Peter Berley’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen was my most-used cookbook.  I think she went and bought it because the subsequent Thanksgiving she made Berley’s recipe for sweet potatoes with orange and ginger.  This year, my mom was thinking of making a dish for the seder that  my sister had made up–a casserole made from sweet potatoes layered with slices of tomatoes and onions.  But to me that just sounded weird.  Maybe the tomato-sweet potato combo is good, but I just couldn’t imagine it.  So instead I went looking for Berley’s recipe in my Mom’s copy of Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Farro and yellow soybean risotto with spinach

March 24, 2010 at 12:33 am (B plus, Beans, Beans and greens, Dark leafy greens, Grains, Italian, Peter Berley, Soybeans & edamame, Spring recipes, Starches)

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!

Rating: B+
Derek: B+


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.

Rating: C

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.

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Sesame noodles (peanut style)

February 21, 2010 at 10:17 pm (B plus, Chinese, Derek's faves, Isa C. Moskowitz, Nancie McDermott, Other, Pasta, Peter Berley, Seitan, Starches, Tofu, Website / blog)

I make Madhur Jaffrey’s sesame noodles all the time. It’s one of Derek’s favorite dishes. Tonight when I asked him what he wanted for dinner he said “chiliquiles!” but all my tortillas were frozen, so he went with his second choice–sesame noodles. I agreed, but didn’t tell him that I wasn’t going to make our standard recipe. I had recently come across a recipe for cold sesame noodles from Nancie McDermott’s Quick and Easy Chinese: 70 Everyday Recipes. I really like McDermott’s Real Vegetarian Thai cookbook, so I decided to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hot candied walnuts

December 13, 2009 at 7:44 pm (B plus, Derek's faves, Dessert, Ice cream & toppings, Other)

Many years ago Katrina and Dan shared some of these nuts with us.  Derek immediately fell in love.  The recipe is originally from the book party nuts! by Sally Sampson.  We’ll probably be trying out some more of her recipes shortly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roasted cauliflower with tomato and green olives

December 13, 2009 at 6:58 pm (B plus, Cruciferous rich, Italian, Meyer & Romano, Vegetable dishes)

This roasted cauliflower dish was the second dish we made last week from the Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe cookbook.  It’s similar in spirit to pasta puttanesca, but the base is cauliflower rather than pasta. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stuffed Hashbrowns

December 4, 2009 at 6:21 am (Alma's faves, B plus, breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Mom’s recipes, Monthly menu plan, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

I’m bumping this old recipe because I finally, after many years of failed attempts, flipped a hashbrown without breaking it into pieces. I did not use my mother’s technique, which involves a metal spatula.  Instead, I did it by tossing the “pancake” into the air with a flip of the wrist.  In addition to spurning the spatula, I used German potatoes (which seem similar to yukon gold)  rather than Russets, and I wrung the grated potatoes in a dish towel to release some of the extra liquid.  I cooked the hashbrowns in my 12-inch nonstick skillet.  I used 1.5 tsp. oil and about 6-6.5 ounces of potato per hashbrown.  There was still empty space showing between the grated potato pieces after I scattered them in the pan.  I think that’s key.

We stuffed the hashbrowns with steamed broccoli and gruyere cheese.  They were delicious, and very filling.

Originally posted October 4, 2006.

When I was a kid I always asked my mom to make me “hashbrowns.” She’d tell me to grate a potato, and then she’d make either a simple paper-thin pancake of grated, lightly fried potatoes, or more often a “omelet” filled with steamed vegetables and folded in half. I could never get enough, and neither could any of my siblings. Stuffed hashbrowns make a delicious (and healthy) breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pasta and Summer Squash with Tomatoes, Basil, and Pine Nuts

July 20, 2009 at 12:33 pm (B plus, Cook's Illustrated, Italian, Pasta, Starches, Summer recipes)

I made this recipe tonight and liked it so much I decided to repost it.  It was originally posted on August 17, 2006.

I’ve often tried to make this sort of light/summery pasta dish without a lot of success. Unless I use a large amount of olive oil or parmesan in the past the dish has always seemed rather bland. But this recipe is light and delicious! This is based on a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but I cut down on oil and pasta, and increased the amounts of squash and seasonings. I give options for a number of ingredients depending on how rich, spicy, starchy etc. you want your dinner to be. Read the rest of this entry »

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Moroccan tempeh tagine with spring vegetables

June 4, 2009 at 1:59 am (B plus, Derek's faves, Grains, Middle East / N. Africa, Peter Berley, Spring recipes, Tempeh)

I finally found tempeh in Saarbrücken.  I’m so excited!  It’s a beautiful tempeh too:  big and fat and covered in a soft white layer that looks almost like paper.  I tried to take it off at first before I realized it was part of the tempeh.  Rather than use the tempeh in one of our old tempeh recipes, we decide to try a new one from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast.  We chose one of the spring menus:  charmoula baked tempeh with vegetable couscous.  Apparently charmoula is a spicy Moroccan marinade.  Derek was worried, as he claims not to like Moroccan food but I thought the combination of spices looked good. Read the rest of this entry »

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Passover spinach matzoh lasagne

April 12, 2009 at 10:15 am (B plus, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Jewish, Necessarily nonvegan, Pasta, Starches, Website / blog)

For Passover this year I wanted to make Peter Berley’s spinach mushroom vegan tart, but I didn’t have enough time to figure out how to make a kosher-for-Passover crust. I did try making an almond, matzoh meal crust held together with butter, but it just turned to crumbly sand. Instead, I ended up making this matzoh spanokopita (spanomatzikah? matzokopita?) recipe from Gourmet magazine for the main dish. Although it’s certainly rich and cheesy, it doesn’t taste overwhelmingly rich. I call it spanokopita, and although the flavors are similar, it would need significantly more feta and butter to deserve the name. I simplified the recipe significantly, by using a stick blender instead of a stand blender and skipping the matzoh soaking and spinach squeezing steps. Here is my modified version of the recipe. Read the rest of this entry »

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Curried Red Lentil Soup

March 24, 2009 at 3:48 am (B plus, Beans, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, soup)

I have a recipe for Turkish red lentil soup that I like a lot, but today I was in the mood for something a bit different, and decided to try this curried red lentil soup recipe from Peter Berley’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.

  • 1.5 cups split red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 celery ribs with leaves, halved lengthwise and chopped
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter or light sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. mellow curry powder
  • 3/4 – 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • serve with chopped fresh cilantro and plain lowfat or whole milk yogurt
  1. Combine the red lentils, water, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a 4 to 5 quart pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and make the curry powder.  Combine the vegetables, butter, curry powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a skillet.  Saute over high heat for about 2 minutes until the vegetables start to brown.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. When the lentils are cooked, add the vegetables and their juices to the pot with the lentils.  Simmer the soup for 5 to 10 minutes, until the flavors have combined.
  4. Serve with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro in each bowl, and a big dollop of plain yogurt.

Berley’s recipe called for kombu but I didn’t have any so I just left it out.  He gives a recipe for mellow curry powder in his book, which is a bit odd in that it calls for caraway seeds.  It didn’t actually smell like curry powder to me, and the soup didn’t exactly taste curried.  However, the soup did taste good with the yogurt and cilantro.  It definitely needed the yogurt though–without it the soup tasted too plain.  Derek liked the soup as well.  He said he wouldn’t rave about it, but it was very good, despite the fact that he claims to “not be a soup person.”  He liked the big slices of carrot, said the texture and flavor was really nice.  Derek did add a bit more of the curry powder to make the soup stronger tasting, however.  Berley’s recipe for mellow curry powder makes about 1/3 cup, and I made 1/4 of it, which yielded a little more than a Tablespoon.  Next time I’d just go ahead and throw the whole thing in.  Also, I’d add the salt to the curry powder to help grind up the spices, rather than adding it directly to the vegetables.

Curry powder, modified slightly:

  • 1.5 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 3/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 slightly heaped tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • slightly heaped 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • large pinch of cayenne pepper

Rating: B+

Derek: B/B+

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Oven Fries

February 14, 2009 at 6:32 am (B plus, Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Root vegetables, Starches)

Derek has been sick this week, and Katrina suggested I make him “comfort food.”  So for dinner last night I made miso soup and oven fries.  I know the combination is a bit weird, but Derek seemed to enjoy the dinner nonetheless.

This recipe for oven fries is based on a recipe in the Cook’s Illustrated Best Light Recipe cookbook.  It’s actually not particularly light, but it makes very tasty, crispy potato wedges.  For optimal browning CI recommends intense heat and a heavy, dark baking sheet.  To get the insides creamy and smooth they recommend covering the baking sheet with tin foil and steaming them for the first 5 minutes of cooking.  They say that russet potatoes make the best oven fries, but russets don’t seem to exist in Germany.  Instead I used the standard German potato, which isn’t very starchy and has a very yellow flesh–maybe it’s akin to a Yukon Gold?  CI says the russets need to be soaked to remove some of the starch, but I skipped this step since my potatoes didn’t seem very starchy.  I also used olive oil rather than the peanut or vegetable oil they recommend, because that is what I have, and I don’t think it tastes “bitter and out of place”, as CI claims.  I oiled the cookie sheet with only 3 Tbs. oil rather than the 4 Tbs. the recipe called for.

  • 24 ounces of potatoes (1.5 pounds), scrubbed, each potato cut lengthwise and cut into even-sized wedges about 1/2 inch thick
  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons of olive oil + 1 tsp.
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 475 degrees.  Coat a large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet (dark or nonstick is best) with 3 Tbs. of olive oil, then sprinkle evenly with the salt and pepper.
  2. Wash the potatoes and dry them thoroughly.  Cut them into wedges.   Toss the wedges in a bowl with 1 tsp. oil
  3. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and cover the pan tightly with tin foil.  Bake for five minutes, then remove the foil.  Bake for ten minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms of the wedges are spotty, golden brown. Scrape the potatoes lose with a spatula, then flip each wedge over, trying to keep the potatoes in a single layer.  Bake until the potatoes are golden and crisp, 7 to 10 minutes, rotating the pan if the wedges are browning unevenly.  If the potatoes seem greasy, drain them briefly on paper towels, blotting away excess oil.

Serves 3 to 5.

Rating: B+
Derek: A- (when they’re right out of the oven)

I’ve made this several times now, and I’m not all that careful about the technique, but the fries always turn out well.  Depending on how fat I slice the potatoes, my largest cookie sheet (a rimmed medium-grey non-stick commercial half-sheet pan) holds about 1.5 – 2 pounds of sliced, small yellow potatoes.  I’ve found that you can really pack the potatoes in, as long as they’re in a single layer there doesn’t need to be much space between the potato slices. Although 2 pounds of potatoes will fit, you have to cut the potatoes a bit too thick, and the wedges don’t crisp up as well, although they do have a nice, creamy interior.   I’ve reduced the oil to a total of 2 Tbs. of olive oil, and although Derek says they’re not quite as good as the original, if the potatoes are cut thin they still crisp up very nicely and taste very good–and they still seem greasy to me.  I think a tsp. of fine sea salt is too much if you’re only using 1.5 pounds of potatoes.  I use about 1 tsp. of coarse salt for 2 pounds of potatoes.  Sometimes I briefly rinse the potatoes and dry them in kitchen towels, other times I’ve skipped this step.  Without a side by side comparison, however, I’m can’t say how much of a difference the rinsing step makes for the German potatoes.

Next time I make these I think I want to add some spices along with the pepper, maybe paprika and cumin?

Derek likes these potatoes as leftovers, heated up in the microwave, but the skins get kind of tough and the insides not as creamy.  I haven’t tried reheating them in the oven, but I imagine that would work much better.

I’ve also tried this recipe with parsnips and they also work well.

Fine cooking recipe:

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Spinach Mushroom Tart, Vegan

December 12, 2008 at 7:03 am (101 cookbooks, B plus, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Peter Berley, Ron Pickarski, Tofu)

When I was a kid my mom would occasionally make a vegan spinach mushroom pie.  I’m not sure how she made it, but I always enjoyed it. In my co-op days I tried making something similar,  starting with a recipe from Ron Pickarski’s cookbook, but it  turned out bland and boring. Recently, when looking for something to do with a pie crust that had been taking up precious space in my envelope-sized freezer for about 6 months, I noticed that Peter Berley also has a spinach mushroom quiche recipe in his cookbook Modern American Kitchen. The recipe was even posted on 101 cookbooks, along with a beautiful photo, a rave review, and a discussion of how loooong this recipe takes to make. I decided to try the recipe, using my traditional, non-vegan crust rather than making Berley’s oat/sesame vegan crust. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mediterranean Pasta with chard and olives in a spicy harissa sauce

November 16, 2008 at 4:43 am (101 cookbooks, B plus, Dark leafy greens, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches)

The photo of the harissa spaghettini on 101cookbooks is enticing. Moreover, the recipe includes both greens and plenty of spice, so I immediately added it to my “to try” list. I can’t find that lovely tender dinosaur kale shown in the photo here in Germany, so I used chard instead. I made a few other adjustments as well, transforming this recipe from a Moroccan recipe to a trans-Mediterranean one.  The pasta and chard and parmigiano represent Italy, the kalamata olives come from Greece, and the harissa paste represents North Africa. Read the rest of this entry »

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