I made this recipe from Peter Berley’s cookbook Modern Vegetarian Kitchen back when I lived in Pittsburgh, and I remember not liking it very much. But when I was in California last month I was discussing vegetarian cookbooks with a friend of Kathy and Spoons’s, and she had Modern Vegetarian Kitchen. I asked her what her favorite recipe was and she chose this one! I thought maybe I screwed it up last time and so I decided to try it again. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe’s combination of melon and potato is unusual, and I was curious what it would taste like. Victoria Wise, the author of the Mexican Vegetarian Table cookbook, says the flavors “meld together in a delectable, smooth soup that stands out as an example of how the old and the new merge in a surprising and pleasing way, as they so often do in Mexico.” Sounds appealing, right? Read the rest of this entry »
We had a friend staying with us a while back who was raving about a very simple rhubarb dessert: stew the rhubarb with a little sugar and water until it falls apart. To serve, add to a small bowl and pour cold cream around it. I liked the flavor combination of the sour rhubarb and sweet cream, but the texture was quite odd. The rhubarb was kind of stringy and a little gelatinous. Derek, ever couth, dubbed it “rhubarb snot.” After that, I had trouble finishing the rest of my dish.
In Peter Berley’s cookbook Fresh Food Fast there is a recipe for rhubarb compote with maple syrup and crystallized ginger. He says to simmer the rhubarb for 5 to 7 minutes until the rhubarb is tender, but not falling apart. Since he says the rhubarb shouldn’t fall apart, I figured it was safe. Derek tried to stop me, arguing that the texture was going to be just like the previous attempt, but I wanted to give it a try. After five minutes, however, my rhubarb had again reached the “snot” stage. What am I doing wrong?
Berley’s recipe calls for chunks of crystallized ginger. The recipe doesn’t say so explicitly, but I thought the chunks were supposed to dissolve into the compote. In 5 minutes, however, they had only softened. The toothsome chunks seemed odd in the soft rhubarb stew. Berley says to serve the compote with creme fraiche or sour cream. I served mine with creme fraiche, and thought it was tasty, better even than the cream. I’m not sure I could tast the maple syrup though, and unless I bit into a ginger cube I didn’t really taste the ginger.
Rating: D (Unless I figure out the snot thing)
Having never eaten bacon, I don’t have to worry about this recipe living up to any preconceived notions. The recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance.
- 3 Tbs. Bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce
- 1/3 cup apple cider
- 1 tsp. tomato paste
- 1/4 tsp. liquid smoke
- 1 8-ounce package tempeh
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 Tbs. peanut oil or vegetable oil
- To make the marinade combine the soy sauce, cider, tomato paste and liquid smoke in a wide, shallow bowl or pan and mix with a fork until the tomato paste is fully dissolved.
- Cut the tempeh into thin strips (less than 1/4 inch thick) lengthwise. You should be able to get about 12 strips. Rub the strips with the crushed garlic, then toss the garlic cloves into the marinade. Submerge the tempeh strips in the marinade and let sit, for at least an hour and up to overnight. After marinating, discard the garlic.
- Heat the oil in an 11 or 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh strips and cook for 4 minutes on one side; the bottom should be nicely browned. Flip the strips over and pour the remainder of the marinade over them. If there isn’t much marinade left add a splash of water. Cover and let cook for 3 more minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Uncover and check for doneness; if necessary keep cooking uncovered until all sides are nicely browned. Remove from heat and serve.
In writing this up I just realized I misread the cider as cider vinegar. No wonder it seemed like it needed some sweetener. I only used 2 Tbs. of full sodium soy sauce, and 1 Tbs. of olive oil. I cooked the tempeh in my 9-inch cast iron skillet, which was a bit crowded. The final tempeh had a very delicate yet toothsome texture which I enjoyed, and almost no “tempeh” flavor that I don’t care for so much. I can’t imagine this is what bacon tastes like however. On a pita bread with sliced tomato and lettuce I found the tempeh too bland. Maybe with the cider and the extra soy sauce and oil it would have been better? I’ll have to try it again, but I think I’ll wait til Derek comes in case I don’t like it that much. Tempeh here in Montreal is $4 for 8 ounces! That’s alot to waste on a dish you don’t care for all that much. (Anyone know where to get tempeh for less in Montreal?)
A day later the tempeh had more “tempeh flavor.”
Update January 5, 2008: I made this recipe again, properly this time, for Derek. The only issue was that I had white wave tempeh which comes in very square blocks so you can’t really cut it into long strips, and I had trouble even getting 8 slices, nevermind 12. I fried it in the full amount of oil and it came out extremely greasy. I took one bite and that was enough: the flavor was too in-your-face, and the amount of oil was overpowering. I served it to Derek anyway, and he liked it quite a bit, eating it plain for breakfast with a half a grapefruit and some leftover celery root salad.
I love spanakopita. I adore spanakopita. If Derek would let me, I’d name our first born spanakopita. I’ve never tried to make them on my own, however; I wasn’t sure I could bear to see how much butter and cheese I was ingesting in my favorite of dishes. When I saw the recipe for vegan spanakopita in Vegan with a Vengeance I was intrigued, to put it mildly. Derek and I had fun putting the layers together (especially without a pastry brush for the oil), and the final dish looked delicious when we pulled it from the oven. The taste, however, was quite disappointing. Can you say bland-sad-mockery-of-my-favorite-dish-ever? We didn’t skimp at all on the fat, so it wasn’t that we tried to make it too low fat. I think maybe spanakopita without feta is just a no-go. I tasted the “feta” made from tofu before it went into the casserole, and I found it quite bland tasting. I should have known at that point the recipe wasn’t going to be any good. Derek actually said he liked it more than me, having two pieces for dinner. However, the rest of the pan stayed in the fridge all week, untouched, so he obviously didn’t like it that much. I’m not going to bother to post the recipe.
I do have to thank Isa for inspiring me however–I’m now determined to try my hand at making the real thing.
I was looking for a recipe with spinach and red peppers, both of which I have oodles of, and I found this recipe online. It looked suspiciously like one of those “easy but tasteless” recipes, but I figured I had enough produce to spare I could take the chance.
- 4 ounces whole wheat pasta, measured dry
- 1 cup raw spinach
- 1 cup red bell peppers diced
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 Tbs. tomato paste
- 2 Tbs. parmesan cheese grated
- 2/3 cup cooked white beans
1. boil water & pasta
2. in pan toss all other ingredients with a little pasta water
3. spice with hot peppers flakes, cumin, oregano, or saffron
The dish looked very pretty–it had that pale red color of typical cream-based red sauces, or maybe a pimento-based sauce. But the mouthfeel was bad: the sauce tasted powdery for some reason? I used canned beans, and rinsed them well, but they were very mealy tasting. Blech. Also, I didn’t think it had nearly enough spinach. I added more oregano and pepper flakes to spice it up and now it’s certainly not bland, but still somewhat unappetizing to me. I took the second half for lunch today and I ate most of it but I really didn’t enjoy it.
Derek loves jerk seasoning, so I was excited when I found a recipe for jerk tempeh in the cookbook Some Like it Hot by Robin Robertson, a vegetarian cookbook for people who love spicy, hot food. But the recipe didn’t work out so well.
It called for boiling the tempeh for ten minutes, then sauteeing with oil for 10 minutes, then adding the spices. But the oil was absorbed into the tempeh after just a few minutes. By the time I finally added the jerk seasoning the pan was totally hot and the tempeh dry, and the seasoning didn’t stick, just fell to the bottom and sort of burnt. But Derek still liked it once I added okra and tomatoes to save it. He said he could taste the jerk seasoning, but I couldn’t. I’m going to have to try it again with a better technique next time. I’d love a better recipe for Jerk Tempeh. Anyone have one?
This southern Italian casserole is supposed to be sort of like a lasagna, except with potatoes instaed of pasta and a “pungent herb paste” instead of tomato sauce. The recipe is again from The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop.
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
3 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1.5 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
4 medium baking potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
10 large black olives, pitted and chopped
6 small, ripe but firm tomatoes (about 1.5 pounds), cored and sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the herbs and garlic in the work bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the ingredients are finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add 2 Tbs. of the oil to form a thick paste. Scrape the herb paste into a small bowl and stir in the salt and pepper.
2. Place the bread crumbs in a small bowl and drizzle 1 Tbs. oil over them. Mix just until the crumbs are moistened.
3. Brush a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Cover the bottom of the pan with one half of the potatoes, overlappiing the slices slightly. Sprinkle half the olives over the potatoes. Cover with a layer of half ot he tomato slices and then dot each tomato with a tiny bit of the herb paste. Repeat the layering of the poatoes, olives, tomatoes, and herb paste. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top.
4. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the juices are bubbling and the bread crumbs are lightly browned, about 25 minutes more.
5. Let the casserole cool on a rack for 10 minutes so the layers solidify. Cut into squares and serve immediately.
I had extremely high hopes for this recipe, maybe because I love lasagna so much. But it was utterly disappointing. Now, I do have to confess, as usual, I didn’t correctly follow the recipe. I didn’t have fresh oregano so I used some dried and added some fresh parsley. I also didn’t use the bread crumbs, but instead sprinkled a Tbs. of parmesan on the top layer of potatoes. My kalamata olives were small so I used double the number called for. Finally, and probably most importantly, I forgot to add the salt. I suppose it is possible that this would have transformed the dish, but I doubt it.
The tomatoes let out a lot of water as they cooked so the bottom half of the dish boiled rather than baked. The herb paste was actually surprisingly watery. I added an extra Tbs. of olive oil to it because the processor blades wouldn’t turn, but still the end paste was watery. Maybe I didn’t dry my herbs well enough. The tomatoes had a sort of stringy texture, and the peel often became separated from the flesh, so there were lose circles of tomato peel floating around. There weren’t enough olives to really infuse the dish with olive flavor, and the herb paste tasted dull and watered down. It’s possible that the salt would have helped the herb paste stay bright tasting, but then again it did get boiled for almost an hour… The only part of this dish I enjoyed were the crispy potato slices on the very top of the casserole, that had the browned parmesan on top of them. Clearly, I would have rather just eaten oven-fries.
I gave the rest of this dish to a coworker who is always happy to try my “disasters”, and he ate it all up. He said he thought it was pretty good, and was surprised because the most flavorful part of the dish was the potatoes.