Baked sweet potato falafel

September 29, 2013 at 10:47 am (101 cookbooks, Beans, C, Root vegetables)

I love falafel, but I’ve never made them successfully myself.  It doesn’t help that I detest deep frying.  So I was quite curious about this baked sweet potato falafel posted on 101 cookbooks, originally from the Leon cookbook.  Derek made these for dinner, and after “all that work” (okay, they weren’t really that much work) was quite disappointed with the final outcome.  They weren’t totally bland, but the flavor didn’t excite us too much, nor did it remind us of falafel.  And the soft, mushy texture was quite off-putting.  We wouldn’t make the recipe again, even with major changes.


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Hot and sour tofu and rice soup

November 30, 2012 at 10:01 pm (breakfast, B_, C, East and SE Asia, Grains, soup, Spring recipes, Tofu, Winter recipes)

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 »

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Warm lentil salad with sun-dried tomatoes

December 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm (Beans, C, Peter Berley)

This recipe (from Peter Berley’s cookbook The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen) is for a warm lentil salad with Mediterranean flavors.  I was positive we made this recipe before (unsuccessfully), but I couldn’t find any post about it on my blog.  So we decided to give it another try.  Last time I think part of the problem was that the sundried tomatoes we used weren’t very good.  This time I used tomatoes from my mother’s garden, that she dried herself! Read the rest of this entry »

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Seitan pepper steak

June 13, 2011 at 10:19 am (C, Ron Pickarski, Seitan)

Derek chose this recipe from Ron Pickarski’s Friendly Foods.  Pickarski says it’s a vegetarian version of the classic recipe for “beef pepper steak,” whatever that is.  He recommends serving it over jerusalem artichoke pasta, flat spinach noodles, or quinoa noodles, but says that it’s also good over rice or mashed potatoes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Winter vegetable ragout with caramelized whole shallots

March 6, 2011 at 6:06 pm (C, Dark leafy greens, Fall recipes, French, Georgeanne Brennan, Middle East / N. Africa, Root vegetables, Winter recipes)

I was looking for a recipe that called for turnips, and came across this winter ragout in France: the Vegetarian Table by Georgeanne Brennan.  It’s basically an oven-roasted stew full of big chunks of parnsips, turnips, rutabagas, and carrots.  (I couldn’t find any rutabagas so I subbed in potatoes.) The stew also calls for ribbons of chard and caramelized shallots.  At first glance I thought this recipe was for a French-style stew, but it’s seasoned with turmeric and raisins, and you’re supposed to serve it with yogurt and a mixture of dill, tarragon, mint, and chives.  So there’s definitely a North African influence. Read the rest of this entry »

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Braised wild rice with cranberries and sage

November 2, 2010 at 1:13 pm (AMA, C, Fall recipes, Grains, Winter recipes)

This is another Thanksgiving-y recipe from the AMA family health cookbook.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Millet and vegetable pilaf

June 13, 2010 at 3:18 pm (C, Grains, Peter Berley, Salads)

This recipe is from Peter Berley’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen and the head note just cracks me up.  Berley calls millet a “curmudgeonly uncle” who needs a good deal of “buttering up”.  I’ve always liked the dry austerity of millet, but I’m sure Derek would agree with Berley’s description. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bill’s ricotta hotcakes

December 27, 2009 at 11:33 pm (breakfast, C, Necessarily nonvegan, Other)

Derek has very fond memories of eating Bill Granger’s  ricotta hotcakes when he ate at Bill’s in Sydney.  We finally got around to trying to make them ourselves last week. The recipe is all over the web, along with a huge number of really beautiful pictures of stacks and stacks of hotcakes.  Derek even tried to make the “sugar honeycomb” that’s used to make the crunchy “honeycomb butter”.  However, the recipe he used wasn’t very precise about heat or timing, and the honeycomb never crystallized.  It just ended up a big, hard slab of sticky sugary goo.  So we ended up eating our hotcakes with regular old maple syrup.

I thought the hotcakes were fine, but nothing special.  They tasted like good but not particularly unusual white-flour pancakes.  We used store-bought ricotta from the German grocery store.  Maybe the pancakes would have been significantly different if we would have had really fine, freshly-made ricotta.  As they were, however, they were simply okay.  I don’t think they were worth the calories.  I actually prefer a slightly heartier pancake, with a little more heft.  These were quite light and fluffy and “white” tasting. Rating: B-.

Derek thought that the texture was good, but the pancakes themselves were kind of bland, and undersalted.  He suspects that the honeycomb butter (and the crystallized crunch it adds) is the truly stellar part of the recipe.  Derek’s rating:  B-.

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Orange pan-glazed tempeh

August 14, 2009 at 4:07 pm (101 cookbooks, C, Tempeh)

I was looking for a tempeh dish that would go well with spring rolls, and decided to try the recipe for orange pan-glazed tempeh that’s on the 101 cookbooks blog.  The pictures look pretty, and Heidi says “This might be the best tempeh recipe I’ve highlighted to date.”  Based on that strong recommendation, I decided I had to try it.

The recipe was disappointing.  The instructions work, and everything cooks just as specified, but my friend Alex and I both thought that the tempeh was simply boring.  I could definitely taste the orange juice, but that was pretty much the only flavor that stood out.  The ginger didn’t come through, I couldn’t taste the coriander seeds, nor could I detect any lime.  It pretty much just tasted like fried tempeh cooked in orange juice.  Plus,  the recipe is pretty high calorie.  I followed the instructions exactly, except I didn’t have mirin so used rice vinegar instead.  I can’t imagine that 1.5 Tablespoons of mirin could have really made that much of a difference.  If anything, I thought the recipe was too sweet and needed more vinegar/acid, not less.  I don’t think I’d make this recipe again, but if I was going to, I’d probably at least double the amounts of all the seasonings, and maybe cut down the maple syrup and add more soy sauce.

Rating: C

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Cold Cucumber and Avocado Soup

July 17, 2007 at 8:57 pm (B_, C, My brain, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, soup, Summer recipes, Vegetable dishes)

The food challenge ingredient on myfooddiary this week was cucumbers. I’ve eaten cucumbers before, so I had to try a new preparation. I’ve seen lots of recipes for cold cucumber soup, but have never tried making it. I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten a cold cucumber soup before. I looked for recipes on Epicurious, and found lots, but the reviews are all over the map. No recipe seemed to get consistently good reviews. Frustrated at trying to pick a recipe, I tossed them all aside and just jumped in and improvised.

I put into the food processor:
* 1 of those long skinny english cucumbers, seeded and 1/2 peeled
* 1/3 cup plain lowfat yogurt
* 1/2 avocado
* 1 whole bunch chives
* 3 pinches salt
* fresh ground black pepper

It was tasty! I liked the flavor quite a bit. Even before th avocado I liked how it tasted, but it was too thin. I couldn’t taste the yogurt at all. The texture of the final soup, however, was kind of lumpy. I not sure if the lumps were cucumber, the cucumber peel, or the chives. Also, next time I’ll use a stronger herb than chives (that’s the only fresh herb I in the fridge). I think the soup would blend up better if it was thicker~even with 1/2 an avocado it was quite thin, but I wouldn’t want to add more avocado as then it would taste more like watery guacamole. What else could be added? Maybe a boiled potato?
This made just over 2 cups.

Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 156
Total Fat 8.4g
Saturated Fat 1.9g
Cholesterol 2mg
Sodium 312mg
Carbohydrate 20.5g
Dietary Fiber 6.5g
Sugars 9.6g
Protein 5.7g
Vitamin A 16%
Vitamin C 45%
Calcium 13%
Iron 7%

Update July 2010:

I recently tried Peter Berley’s recipe for chilled avocado soup with lime and jalepeno, from Fresh Food Fast. Berley says that the recipe results in a “creamy, mousseline” texture. That’s pretty accurate, but I found it quite unappealing. It kind of tasted like watered down, perfectly smooth guacamole. The ingredients were basically guacamole ingredients: avocado, garlic, lime, salt, and jalepeno. The Berley has you fry some tortilla strips until they’re crunchy and golden-brown. I served the soup (with tortilla strips) to Derek and two guests at dinner, and everyone ate a small bowl and had had enough. One guest said “it’s not inedible–I’d eat it eventually if it were in my fridge.” The other guest said that the crunchy chips were essential. Berley says the recipe serves 4 but we had a lot of soup left. I think with 3 avocados it should serve at least 6 people. I don’t want to toss the rest of the soup, so I think I’m going to try mixing with with beans to make a dip.

Rating: C
Derek: C

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Pear and Parmesan Drizzled in Honey

October 29, 2006 at 6:19 am (C, Dessert, Fruit, Italian, Jack Bishop, Necessarily nonvegan, Quick weeknight recipe)

Jack Bishop in his Italian Vegetarian cookbook suggests a dessert in which pears are cored and sliced thinly, topped with ribbons of parmesan cheese (ribbon the cheese using a vegetable peeler) and drizzled with warm honey. Maybe my pear wasn’t ripe enough, but honestly, this recipe didn’t do much for me.

Rating: C

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Celery Root Salad with Apple and Parsley (C)

October 9, 2006 at 1:43 am (C, Cook's Illustrated, French, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Salads, Starches)

Rick at the Oakland Farmer’s Market had one lovely celeriac this week, with the beautiful dark greens still attached. When I put it in my bag the green tops sprung forth out of the bag—I got strange looks on the bus, and when I got back to the office Jacob asked if I had just come back from a farm.

I made a celery root salad from the French Vegetarian cookbook this summer that was interesting. I would have tried it again, but this one from Cook’s Illustrated has apples and parsley, both of which I got in my CSA basket this week.

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

Creamy Dijon Dressing
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil , or canola
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 medium celery root (13 – 14 ounces), peeled and rinsed
1/2 medium tart apple, cored and peeled
2 scallions, sliced thin
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon leaves (optional)
  Table salt and ground black pepper

For the Dressing

1. In medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, mustard, honey, and salt. Whisk in oil in slow, steady stream. Add sour cream; whisk to combine. Set aside.

For the Salad

2. Remove the top and bottom of the celery root and then use a paring knife to remove the outer layer of flesh from top to bottom. If using food processor, cut celery root and apple into 1 1/2-inch pieces and grate with shredding disc. (Alternatively, grate on coarse side of box grater.) You should have about 3 cups total. Add immediately to prepared dressing; toss to coat. Stir in scallions and parsley (and tarragon, if using; see note above). Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. Serve.

Although not always available, fresh tarragon complements the flavor of celery root. If you can find it, stir in 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon along with the parsley. Add a teaspoon or so more oil to the dressed salad if it seems a bit dry.

My Notes:

Cook’s Illustrated makes a big deal about how to peel the celery root. I don’t know what they’re fussing about; I just used my vegetable peeler (which I love, and deserves its own post) and it worked fine. They also say they tried different ways of cutting the celery root to maintain it’s crisp crunch, and liked grating it the best. I’m don’t agree. I liked the julienne of the other celery root salad much better than the grating. The hand-grated pieces seemed softer and less crisp. When you eat this salad you have the disconcerting sensation of grinding your teeth. It’s weird. I used a not too tart apple from my CSA, which I couldn’t really taste it the final salad, although maybe it made it a bit sweeter. I’m not sure I could taste the scallions either. I couldn’t cough up the $2.50 for the tarragon.

For the dressing, I used only 1 Tbs. olive oil and used nonfat yogurt instead of sour cream. It came out pretty well. I don’t think I like it as much as the lemon and mustard dressing I use for Berley’s green bean salad, but it wasn’t bad. It actually tastes pretty similiar to the dip I always improvise when I make baked tofu, except I add garlic, and leave out the olive oil. Altogether this salad was tasty, but not exciting. I think the dressing overwhelmed the celery root a bit?

Update from the next day. I could not eat the leftovers. One bite was all I could stand. Strange.

Update January 2008: I made this recipe for Derek, following the original recipe except for adding an extra apple since mine were small. I even added the tarragon, and grating the celery root in my food processor. Grating in the food processor helps since the pieces are larger and thicker, almost like julienne rather than hand grating. Despite the large amounts of fat in the recipe, I didn’t think it tasted super-rich, and I didn’t think it tasted like the traditional French dressing, I’m not sure why. Certainly the mustard seemed to dominate too much. Perhaps I didn’t use a very good dijon, or Derek added a bit too much when he measured it. The tarragon wasn’t very noticeable. I didn’t really care for this salad, but ate the leftovers at lunch the next day simply because I was hungry and it was what I had. Derek, on the other hand, liked the salad, saying “it’s refreshing.”

Rating: C
Derek: B

Cook’s Illustrated has a number of other variants I want to try. One that is very similiar to this one has you add to the salad:

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

Other variants include pear and hazelnuts, and a version with mint, orange and fennel.

Update Dec 29: I had one small celery root (about the size of a large apple). I julienned it and tossed it with 1.5 Tbs. lemon juice, about 1 tsp. horseradish, 1 tsp. dijon mustard, and 1 Tbs. lowfat sour cream. It was pleasant, and well-dressed.

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Tempeh Meatballs

September 19, 2006 at 5:54 am (C, My brain, Tempeh)

A long time ago, when Soba (in Pittsburgh) was still doing Vegetarian nights once a week, Derek had a dish with tempeh meatballs that he adored. He’s wanted me to try to recreate them and here was my first attempt.

1.5 cups onion
16 ounces tempeh
1 Tbs. olive oil
6 Tbs. yogurt
2 Tbs. water
2 pieces bran for life bread
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1.5 Tbs. soy sauce
fresh pepper to taste
4 Tbs chopped parsley, fresh
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. thyme, dried
1/2 tsp. oregano, dried
2 Tbs. shallots, dried
1 egg

I sauted the onion and tempeh togther, then added them and the rest of the ingredients to the food processor. Actually, I started out with fewer ingredients and seasonings and tasted the batter and it just tasted overwhelmingly of tempeh. I kept adding more ingredients in an attempt to make it taste more complex, but no matter what I added it seemed the tempeh flavor dominated entirely. Derek tasted the batter and said it tasted good to him though. The batter was extremely thick, and I was worried that when I cooked the balls in the oven they would end up very dried out. That didn’t happen exactly. I baked them on an oil cookie sheet, and the texture remained exactly the same in the inside, with the outside getting just a tiny bit crisp. I think in the future I shouldn’t puree all the ingredients–the batter should be a bit more varied and rough, and that way not so dense.

I really wasn’t that fond of this recipe, but Derek enjoyed it with the tofu balls over pasta with tomato sauce. Later, in a desperate fit of hunger, I crumbled up some of the batter I had cooked into “burgers” into my leftover pasta primavera, and I actually thought it added a nice flavor. But maybe I was just starving. In any case, I’m still looking for a really good tempeh meatball recipe for Derek.

Rating: C
Derek: B

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Wilted Escarole with Garlic and Lemon

August 24, 2006 at 4:33 pm (C, Dark leafy greens, Italian, Jack Bishop, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

I was surprised to see escarole at the farmer’s market this summer, but was pleased to be able to diversify my greens selection. I have mostly used escarole for a “beans and greens” dish like at Girasole here in Pittsburgh, but decided to branch out and try something new. This recipe is from the Complete Italian Vegetarian cookbook by Jack Bishop. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vegan Zucchini Bisque (C)

August 19, 2006 at 9:56 am (C, Farm recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, soup, Tofu)

I’ve been wanting to try some recipes from the cookbook Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler (from the Farm). It’s been sitting on my shelf forever and finally I pulled it down, and found this recipe for zucchini bisque. Well…, bisque is a bit of a stretch. It’s really just a soup.

* 2 Tbs. olive oil
* 1 medium onion, choped
* 1.5 lbs zucchini, sliced

Add to the suateed vegetables, cover and simmer 20 minutes:
* 2.5 cups stock or water
* 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
* 1/8 tsp. black pepper

Remove from the heat and cool 5 minutes.

Blend in a blender until smooth and creamy:
* 1/2 lb. tofu
* 1 Tbs. olive oil

Stir blended tofu mixture into sauteed vegetables. Heat, but do not boil. Add salt to taste.

Makes 6 cups.

My Notes

I only made half the recipe, and I used less olive oil (1 Tbs. total). I also added more nutmeg since I couldn’t taste it.

The soup was okay, but tasted a bit too oily. I think maybe if I had blended the zucchini with the tofu the oil would have combined better and given it a better texture. Or maybe using soymilk instead of blended tofu would help. I any case, I ate it all, but I’m not sure I’d make it again.

Rating: C

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Kale Chips (C)

August 19, 2006 at 9:28 am (C, Cruciferous rich, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog)

This is a recipe I got from an online forum. It sounded so odd I had to try it.

Kale Chips (this makes 4 servings)

3 cups of chopped kale (2-3 inch pieces)
3 Tbsp Oil (I use grapeseed oil, you can use olive oil, too)
1 Tbsp Vinegar (I use umeboshi, you can use apple cider vinegar)
Salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. With your hands, mix kale and oil+vinegar in a bowl until all of the kale is coated.
2. Spread out on an oiled cookie sheet in a single layer. For this I need 2 cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 15 min – 20 min at 375 until crispy.
4. Salt to taste & enjoy!

My Notes

I’d been eyeing this recipe for a while but was truly terrified. Finally I worked up the courage to try it. I used 1 tsp. ume vinegar and 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar, and 1 Tbs. olive oil, and what looked to me like 3 cups of kale, but was obviously a lot less than the recipe called for since it all fit easily on one cookie sheet. I only cooked them for 10 minutes, but I think it was too long because some of them tasted a bit too crispy, almost burnt. Plus they were much too salty (even though I didn’t add salt, just the 1 tsp. of ume vinegar~yikes that stuff is salty).

They weren’t quite as scary as I imagined, but I don’t think I’d make them again. Okay, maybe just once more, with less salt and cooking them less. If I’m really desparate to use up some kale.

Rating: C

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Asian Tofu Cakes (C)

June 5, 2006 at 8:08 pm (C, East and SE Asia, Other, Tofu)

3This recipe was given to me by a friend, but was originally from Vegetarian Times, March 2002.

1 Tbs. sesame seeds
15oz. firm tofu, rinsed and drained
5 egg whites- Use flax seed replacer for 2 eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose, whole-wheat flour
1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
1 medium carrot, shredded
3 scallions (green part only), thinly sliced; reserve 1 tsp. for sauce
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil, more if needed

3 Tbs. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil or chili oil
1/2 tsp. rice vinegar

1. In small skillet, toast sesame seeds until golden brown, stirring often, 1 minute. Transfer to small plate and set aside.

2. Pat tofu dry with paper towel and place in medium bowl. Mash tofu with fork until it resembles chopped eggs.

3. Mix in egg whites, flour, ginger, scallions, peas, soy sauce and salt and white pepper to taste, until well blended.

4. In large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Add about 1/4 cup tofu mixture per cake to skillet, flattening with back of spoon to form small cakes. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

5. Meanwhile, make Sauce: In small bowl, mix soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and reserved scallion.

6. To serve tofu cakes, sprinkle with sesame seeds and accompany with sesame-soy sauce on the side.

Serves 6


My note: rather than use 5 egg whites I used 1 egg white and 1 Tbs. flax seeds in 1/4 cup boiling water. The texture was quite thick and fluffy, and held together pretty well when cooking, which surprised me. The flavor was dominated by the ginger and scallions, and the sesame to a lesser extent, which wasn’t bad per se, but a waste of all those tofu calories I thought. I could just make a vegetable stir fry and get those flavors. The texture I found unappealing, sort of soft and squishy on the inside. So I put some of them back on the skillet again to try to firm them up some more, and they did get drier but I still didn’t really like the texture all that much. This was a lot more work than just scrambled tofu, without a lot more nutritional heft, and I actually like scrambled tofu more, so I don’t think I’ll make this again. I am going to try adding flax seeds and/or egg whites to my tofu quiche recipe however to make it hold together better, so I learned something at least.

I had leftover cakes with a little soy sauce, wrapped in lettuce leaves, which wasn’t bad, but again not filling enough or tasty enough to be worth the calories.

I used slightly less than 1/4 cup per cake, and made 18, for 6 servings of three cakes each.

Rating: C

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Sweet and spicy dal (C)

May 30, 2006 at 7:55 pm (Beans, C, Indian, Website / blog)

This dal is based on a recipe on RecipeZaar chana dal with bell pepper, except I used yellow split peas instead of chana dal and bottle gourd (lauki) rather than the bell pepper.

250 g channa dal (gram dal)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 large red bell pepper
1 large tomato
1/2 onion
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
2-3 dried red chilies
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3-5 curry leave
  coriande (optional)
  parsley (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ginger paste
1/4 teaspoon garlic paste
  1. Soak chana dal in water for a few hours prior to use.
  2. Heat oil and add mustard seeds, bay leaf, cinammon, ginger and garlic pastes, and cloves.
  3. Add onions and let it heat till they turn translucent.
  4. Add chopped tomato and curry leaves and then the chana dal, making sure to add enough water to cover the dal as it boils.
  5. Cook on medium-high heat with a closed lid for 15-20min until the chana dal softens, while continuing to replenish the water now and again as it evaporates (make sure that you add boiling and not cold water).
  6. As soon as chana begins to soften, add the sliced capsicum (or diced bottlegourd, if that is your preference).
  7. Stir it in well with the chana and continue to cook until both the chana and capsicum (or bottlegourd), have softened sufficiently.
  8. Garnish with cilantro.

My Notes

Unfortunately, although the recipe recommended bottle gourd as a substitute, it forgot to mention that the gourd needs to be peeled. I had never cooked with it before so just assumed it was like a zucchini or summer squash…. It isn’t. The peel was really hard and tough, and I had to pick out all the pieces of bottle gourd before I could eat it. Other than that, the recipe seemed okay. Quite untraditional due to the cinnamon making it quite sweet tasting. Like the other dal I just made, the leftovers didn’t move very quickly. Again, I don’t think I’ll be making this recipe again.

Rating: C

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Spicy Mung Bean Dal (C)

May 30, 2006 at 7:54 pm (Beans, C, Indian, Other)

This recipe comes from Brooke Dojny’s cookbook Full of Beans. Moong dal is mung beans, dried and splilt.

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalepeno or serrano, minced
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 medium-large tomato, seeded and chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup mun bean dal, rinsed and picked over (but not soaked)
3 cups vegetable broth
3 Tbs. grated coconut, unsweetened
1.5 tsp. garam masala
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Saute the oinon over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno, coriander, and turmeric, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute

Add the chopped tomato, dal, broth, and coconut. Bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the mixture is quite thick (about 30 minutes). (Can be made 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Reheat gently, adding a bit of water if necessary.)

Add the garalm masala and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro just before serving.

Right after I made this I thought it was pretty good, but the leftovers just sat there, I don’t know why. I really wanted a recipe for a traditional Indian dal, and this isn’t quite it. Despite the initial positive reaction, I don’t think I’ll make it again.

Rating: C

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Tofu-less Chili

April 30, 2006 at 6:59 am (Beans, C, Mexican & S. American, My brain)

I’ve had a craving for my mom’s chili recently, so decided to just try and make it allergy-free without the tofu or corn or peanut butter. Her recipe is somewhat inexact, but this is what I did:

2 cups pinto beans, dry (I used about a 1/3 black beans since I didn’t have enough pintos)
2 cups onions, chopped (about 1 large onion)
1.5 Tbs. olive oil
1 green bell pepper (I used 1/2 cup frozen)
1 jalepeno
1 Tbs. garlic
3 Tbs. chile powder
1 Tbs. cumin, ground
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup tomato puree
1 can whole tomatoes with juice
1.5 tsp. salt

It was a bit too salty, and maybe even too thin and tomato flavored. I was definitely missing the tofu. Clearly, if I leave the tofu and corn out and peanut butter out I have to replace them with something else for substance. Or at the very least increase the amount of beans. Maybe I should add some cooked grain? I saw a chili recipe recently where they added cooked kasha.

On my second bowl I added some red rice and it helped the texture. It’s still a bit powdery tasting though.

Rating: C

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Chocolate Souffles

April 28, 2006 at 3:02 pm (Alice Medrich, C, Dessert, Necessarily nonvegan, Other)

I love decadent chocolate desserts, so was very interested in trying this lower calorie version of chocolate souffles from Alice Medrich’s cookbook Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts. Medrich says these souffles are dark and very rich in chocolate flavor, not at all light or ethereal. She also says they’re a good dessert when you need to make it ahead of time. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rhubarb compote with lemongrass and ginger (C)

April 28, 2006 at 8:49 am (C, Spring recipes, Website / blog)

I found a rhubarb compote recipe on the web that looked interesting. I had to make a few changes though:

Rhubarb compote with lemongrass and ginger

Yield: about 2 cups

7½ ounces sugar (I used 2 ounces agave nectar + extra water)
5 ounces water
1 vanilla bean (I used 1 tsp. vanilla extract)
1 piece lemon grass
Piece of ginger
5 ounces rhubarb, julienned (I only had 4 ounces)

Bring all the ingredients except the rhubarb to a boil. Let stand for 20 minutes. Strain. Take small juliennes of rhubarb and add to the above. Bring to a boil. Cool.

To serve, fill a small glass half way with the compote. Or, you may serve this with vanilla ice cream.

The syrup was very exotic tasting, with complex layering of flavors, almost like an alcohol or a wine I thought. I wasn’t sure if it would be sweet enough since I reduced the sweetener so much but if anything it was too sweet. But the rhubarb flavor still came through. It left that oxalic acid dry tongue taste in my mouth like chard does.

I enjoyed eating a little of this with a spoon at first, but the next day the texture was pretty weird and the flavor very cough-syrupy. Also, I’m not sure how I would serve it. Perhaps as a sauce for another dish? Even a savory one? Or as a amuse bouche in a shot glass? In any case, I’m glad I tried it.

Rating: C

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Sad, Sad Stuffing (C)

April 10, 2006 at 8:32 pm (C, My brain)

After I had jaw surgery my absolute favorite thing to eat was stuffing and gravy…. blended. But even though I love stuffing, blended or not, I unfortunately have no idea how to make it. I tried improvising.

I used Ezekiel bread and celery and onions, poultry seasoning as well as added thyme and savory, dried cranberries and an apple, and a cup of vegetable broth. It was obviously too much broth because it was kind of soggy. In addition, it :

  1. didn’t have enough stuffing “flavor”
  2. was too greasy tasting
  3. didn’t hold together at all
  4. had about a million calories for what I think of as a normal serving, about 1/4 of a cast-iron pan.

Clearly this is an ongoing project.

Rating: C

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Whole Teff porridge (C)

April 3, 2006 at 7:40 pm (breakfast, C, Grains, Rebecca Wood)

I have a goal to try all the known grains, or at least all that I can get my hands on.

Teff is a teeny tiny chocolate brown grain that is most well-known for being the traditional grain that is used to make injera, the spongy fermented bread that is served at every Ethiopian restaurant.

Rebecca Wood in her cookbpok The Splendid Grain says she’s found no precedent for eating teff as a whole grain rather than ground to a flour, but that she serves it occasionally at very “adult” dinners. I tried her recipe for “steamed” teff which is really boiled teff, then you let it sit and “steam” afterwards.

1 cup whole tef
1 cup boiling water or stock
pinch of sea salt
gomasio for a garnish

Toast the tef in a hot skillet, stirring quickly, for 2 minutes, or until the sounds of popping grains is at its height. Pour the tef into a saucepan with boiling liquid, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for 7 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with gomasio.

This is supposed to serve 2, but I thought it made 4 servings.

I’m not positive I followed the recipe correctly, because it turned out awful. The texture was like wet sand. So I looked on the web and they generally recommended adding much more water (3 to 1) and cooking it much longer (at least 20 minutes). With more water and another 20 minutes the teff turned into one large porridgey mass, which reminded me a lot of amaranth. The texture was similar since they both have all those tiny seeds, but the teff wasn’t quite as gooey, and the flavor was different. I thought the flavor was actually more mild than amaranth, and not unpleasant, but not exciting either.

I tried adding some cocoa powder and sweetener to the hot cereal. Blech. It was better plain with a little soymilk.

This morning I had it cold with soymilk and some Ezekiel-brand “grapenuts”. It was pretty nice. It seemed healthier than eating just grapenuts, but the addition of grapenuts gave it some much needed crunch. The textural contrast was quite enjoyable.

I’m definitely going to buy teff again and keep experimenting, but nothing I’ve tried so far has really excited me.

Nutritional Info for Teff

Teff Whole Grain (uncooked)
Serving Size 1/4 cup (45g)
Calories 160.00
Calories from Fat 5.00
Total Fat 1.00g
Saturated Fat 0.00g
Cholesterol 0.00mg
Sodium 10.00mg
Total Carbohydrate 33.00g
Dietary Fiber 6.00g
Sugars 0.00g
Protein 6.00g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 5%
Iron 13%

The vitamins and minerals are based on 1/2 cup Teff flour, which was a guess. The only grains I know of that have more iron are quinoa (3.6g for 160 calories), amaranth (3.3g for 160 calories), and wheat germ (2.8g for 160 calories). The web claims that Teff is a good source of niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese, boron, phosphorous and potassium. Another cool thing about teff is that it is too small to remove the bran or germ, so when you’r eating teff you know you’re always eating a whole grain.

I’d like to try cooking with teff flour, and also using the teff like poppyseeds in baking.

Rating: C

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Chickpea and Artichoke Heart Stew (C)

March 30, 2006 at 5:04 am (C, Moosewood)

Two friends recommended this recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, and Derek loves chickpeas, and I never cooked with artichoke hearts before, so decided to give it a try:

Chick Pea and Artichoke Heart Stew

4 cups water or vegetable stock (I used stock)
2 medium onions, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. sweet paprika
4 medium red or white potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 sprig fresh rosemary (1 tsp. ground dried) [I use fresh]
5 leaves fresh sage, minced (1/2 tsp. dried) [I use fresh]
1/2 cup pureed winter squash [I used 1/2 to 3/4 cup pumpkin puree]
3 cups drained cooked chick peas (two 15-oz. cans)
1 1/2 cups drained artichoke hearts (one 14 oz. can) [I used more]
salt and ground black pepper to taste

lemon wedges (optional)
grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a saucepan, bring the water or vegetable stock to a simmer. While the water heats, saute the onions and garlic in the oil for about 8 minutes, until soft. Stir the turmeric and paprika into hte onions and saute for a minute. Add the potatoes, rosemary, sage, and the simmering water or stock. Cook about 12 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir the pureed squash or sweet potatoes, and add the drained chick peas and artichoke hearts. Remove the rosemary sprig, add salt and pepper to taste, and return to a simmer.

Serve with lemon wedges and top with grated Pecorino or Parmesan, if you wish.

[My Friend’s Note: I always use the lemon, but rather than serving with wedges, I add the juice of 1/2 to 3/4 lemon to the stew, but only after I remove it from the heat. Heating alters the flavor of the lemon juice].

Per 8 oz. calorie serving: 157 calories, 4.6 g protein, 3 g fat, 29.2 g carbohydrate, 171 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol.

So this made a lot of bright yellow stew! Derek liked it a lot, but I found it somewhat… odd. With half a lemon and the (partially marinated) artichoke hearts it was quite acidic, and all the turmeric added that slightly metallic flavor that turmeric has. I also found the texture of the artichoke hearts a bit offputting. I did break them up with a spoon, but still… It seemed strange that they suggesting topping with parmesan. Yogurt seemed a better match, but the parmesan actually added a nice something. I also sprinkled on some turkish seasoning from Penzey’s, which I thought helped balance the flavors out a bit more, bringing out some of the brighter flavors, toning down the acidity from the lemon juice, and masking the metallicness of the turmeric, and adding a somewhat earthier dimension as well. But part of this was probably the extra salt (salt is the first ingredient in that spice blend). If I was going to do make the recipe again I’d add the salt at the beginning not the end so that the potatoes get seasoned. I’d also add a green vegetable to break up the intense yellow.

Rating: C Derek: B+

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