No-onion curry sauce with cauliflower, chickpeas, and seitan

July 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm (Beans, B_, Cruciferous rich, Indian, Other, Sauce/dressing, Seitan)

This is another recipe that I made last year when I was visiting my friend Sarah in Israel.  The original recipe is from the cookbook The Indian Vegetarian by Neelam Batra. Although I have nothing against onions, I like the idea that I can make a delicious, authentic curry sauce even if I’m all out of onions. Batra says that no-onion curry sauce needs extra tomatoes, yogurt, and spices.  Note that the sauce as written is quite thin.  Batra says it makes a lovely base for a vegetable soup, or you can add 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes to make it thicker. 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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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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Curried cauliflower with penne, peas, and chickpeas

December 24, 2010 at 8:21 pm (AMA, Beans, B_, Cruciferous rich, Italian, Pasta, Starches)

This AMA recipe is a strange combination of a standard Indian curried cauliflower dish with peas and chickpeas, and a standard Italian cauliflower dish with parmesan, raisins, and pinenuts.  It also has tomato sauce.  I love curried cauliflower, but I’ve never been that excited about the sweet Italian cauliflower dish. (I’ve tried several versions, including one in Bishop’s Italian Vegetarian Kitchen and this Sicilian recipe from 101 cookbooks).  But I was curious to find out how I would like the combination of the two recipes.

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Cooking this weekend

November 8, 2010 at 2:28 am (AMA, Cruciferous rich, Fall recipes, French, frozen tofu, My brain, Other, Spring recipes, Starches, unrated, Winter recipes)

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 »

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Broccoli Pie a la Grecque

October 11, 2010 at 10:41 am (AMA, Cruciferous rich, Necessarily nonvegan, unrated)

This is another new recipe from the AMA Family Health Cookbook.  I had a bunch of fresh mint and dill to use up, and went searching for a recipe.  This one, which combines broccoli, eggs, and cheese with fresh herbs and cubed bread, looked perfect.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Yin and Yang Salad with Cabbage and Peanut Dressing

March 13, 2010 at 10:14 pm (101 cookbooks, Cruciferous rich, Salads, Tofu, unrated)

My friend Jenny and I were talking about 101 cookbooks, and she strongly recommended the Yin and Yang Salad recipe.  She said she liked the combination of the raw cabbages and the rich peanut dressing–it seems more balanced than starchy noodles and peanut sauce. I got all the ingredients to make the recipe, but then when I went to prep dinner I realized that the tofu was supposed to marinate overnight, so I made McDermott’s peanut-style sesame noodles instead.  The next day I marinated the tofu and made the yin and yang salad for dinner.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Broccoli, carrot, tofu stir-fry in ginger sauce

February 8, 2010 at 1:09 am (B_minus, Chinese, Cook's Illustrated, Cruciferous rich, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

I cannot make Chinese food to save my life. My special talent is ruining stir-fries.  Yet I keep trying.  Today I started with a recipe for stir-fried tofu and bok choy in ginger sauce from Cooks Illustrated’s The Best Light Recipe and modified it to fit what was in the fridge.  I ended up with a tofu, broccoli, carrot, scallion, ginger, garlic stir-fry. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cabbage noodles

February 5, 2010 at 8:33 pm (Cruciferous rich, Jewish, Starches, unrated, Website / blog)

In college I roomed with my best friend from high school.  She was also a vegetarian, and trying to keep kosher to boot.  Unlike me, she was lucky to have a grandmother that was a) still around, b) in town, and c) a good cook.  Her grandmother was Hungarian and would regularly stock our mini-fridge with various vegetarian Hungarian dishes.  My roommate was kind enough to share her grandma’s food with me.  One of the dishes that I remember fondly is “cabbage noodles.”   Despite the name, the noodles aren’t actually made from cabbage.  As far as I recall, the dish was simply lots of rich, oily cabbage mixed with curly egg noodles and plenty of salt and some black pepper.  I don’t know what kind of fat Sarah’s grandmother used to cook the noodles, but I recently found a recipe on Salon for noodles and fried cabbage, or “Hungarian ice cream” that seemed similar, and it calls for butter. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mushroom, fennel, noodle soup

February 4, 2010 at 1:01 am (B_, Cruciferous rich, My brain, Pasta, soup, Starches)

I went to a Bauch, Beine, Po class tonight, and it just about killed me.  (That’s Belly, Legs, Bum for all you anglophiles.)  I had absolutely no energy afterward to cook dinner.  Also, I hadn’t been shopping for a few days and had very little in the fridge–just a large pack of crimini mushrooms and a small head of fennel, plus a number of leftovers.  My mom suggested I make soup, and so I did.

I quartered the mushrooms, and sauteed them in a little bit of butter briefly.  (Maybe 1.5 tsp?)  Then I added a little white wine and let the mushrooms soften slightly.  I added about 4 cups of water, a few big pinches of truffle salt, a couple pieces of dried porcini mushroom (crumbled), some freshly ground black pepper and one no-salt bouillon cube, and let it all come to a simmer.  Meanwhile, I used my mandoline to slice the fennel very thinly.  When the soup started to boil I added the fennel and offed the heat.  I also added a cup or so of leftover “cabbage noodles” (a variant of this recipe, which I will hopefully blog about shortly).  I let the soup stand while I toasted two slices of rye, multi-seeded bread.  I then broke a clove of garlic in half and scraped the garlic all over the now-crusty bread. (I learned this trick from my friend Amira, who learned it in Italy.)  I topped the soup with cubed pieces of the garlic bread, and a little freshly grated parmigiana-reggiano.

It hit the spot.  Derek liked it too.  There wasn’t a whole lot of  broth, but it had an intense, mushroom flavor.  The mushrooms were still pretty fat and juicy, and the fennel was lovely (as always in soup).  The raw garlic  on the “croutons” (and to a lesser extent the black pepper) added quite a bit of heat.  Rating: B+

Derek said it was satisfying and earthy, but not overcooked and stewy–more like some stuff with a little light broth in the bottom.  It reminded him of fancy restaurants where they bring you a bowl of something then the waiter pours a little broth over it at the table.  Rating:  B+

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Spicy cauliflower simmered in red wine

December 25, 2009 at 11:17 pm (B_minus, Cruciferous rich, Italian, Jack Bishop, Vegetable dishes)

I love cauliflower, but other than cauliflower curry, I actually don’t have any standby recipes for it.  I was looking for something new to try, and I found this recipe in which the cauliflower is simmered in red wine instead of water.  It sounded interesting, and, as an added bonus, it would give me a chance to use up the red wine that we often have lying around from unfinished bottles. The recipe is from Jack Bishop’s The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook.

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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Mini crustless tofu quiches

December 5, 2009 at 12:26 am (Cruciferous rich, Silken tofu, Soymilk, unrated, Website / blog)

I had some expiring silken tofu in the fridge and felt like eating something savory.  I love how Isa Moskowitz uses silken tofu to simulate eggs in Vegan with a Vengeance, so I thought I would give these mini quiches from the fat free vegan blog a try.

I didn’t have any mushrooms so I used small broccoli florets instead.  I didn’t have the chives so I left them out.  I used tahini for the nut butter and lowfat milk instead of soymilk.  I used arrowroot instead of cornstarch.  I didn’t have any oil spray so I brushed my muffin tins with olive oil instead.

The batter tasted good.  The nutritional yeast flavor dominated, giving it a savory, umame flavor.  I couldn’t taste any of the other ingredients individually (not even the rosemary) but I think they contributed to the depth of flavor.   The texture of the batter, however, was very powdery from the arrowroot.

I didn’t have enough batter to fill my muffin tins halfway.  I’m not sure if I didn’t do a good job of scraping all the batter out of the food processor and skillet, or if my muffin tins are just a little bit bigger than Susan’s.

I took the quiches out of the oven after 20 minutes, since I was using metal muffin tins, and a knife came out clean.  However, after letting the quiches cool down, I couldn’t get them out.  I’m not sure if I greased insufficiently or didn’t cook them long enough.  The top of the quiches had a nice firm eggy texture but the rest kind of resembled mashed up raw tofu.  They tasted pretty good, and they were definitely low calorie.  I’ll probably try this recipe again sometime, and see if I can get them to firm up more and come out of the tins.

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Stuffed Hashbrowns

December 4, 2009 at 6:21 am (B plus, breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Mom’s recipes, 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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Tofu, bok choy, and caramelized shallots

November 1, 2009 at 6:53 pm (Chinese, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, My brain, Tofu, unrated)

This is a quick Chinese-inspired dish I whipped up for lunch today.

  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbs.) [optional]
  • 1/2 tsp. chili flakes
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pound medium firm tofu
  • 1 pound bok choy
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger , minced (about 1 tablespoon) [optional]
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sugar, minced garlic cloves, and chili flakes.  Slice the tofu into long rectangles (about .75” x .75” x 2”).
  2. In a 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil until a drop of water sizzles.  Add the tofu in a single layer.  Do not move the tofu once you’ve placed it down.
  3. While the tofu cooks, wash and cut up your bok choy.  Break the bok choy into individual leaves, and remove the green part from the white stems.  Chop the stems into bite-sized pieces, halving vertically any particular fat stems.  When the stems are all chopped, throw them into the pan, filling up any spaces not taken by the tofu, and letting the rest of the pieces rest on top of the tofu.
  4. When the tofu has browned on the first side, toss everything making sure that each tofu piece ends up on an unbrowned side.  While the second side browns, slice the bok choy leaves into fat ribbons, and slice the shallots into 1/4 inch pieces.  Add the shallots to the pan.  Toss again, getting a third side of each tofu rectangle down this time.
  5. When the third side of tofu is browned, throw in the bok choy leaves and the soy sauce mixture.  Stir fry for about 1 minute, until the leaves are wilted.  Eat immediately.

You could serve this over rice or another grain, but we just ate it plain.  It’s salty, but not over the top salty.  The bok choy stems and shallots get nicely caramelized, and the tofu ends up crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  It’s a satisfying dish.

If you use the ginger, add it about 30 seconds before the soy sauce mixture.

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Whole wheat penne with pan-fried brussels sprouts and rosemary

November 1, 2009 at 6:36 pm (Cruciferous rich, Fall recipes, My brain, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

We recently returned from 10 days in NYC, and were scrambling to figure out what to do for dinner given our uncharacteristically empty fridge and unusually busy schedule.  (When you disappear for 10 days there’s a lot to do once you get back!)  I left work too late to make it to the Asian and bio stores, so tofu was out, and the Turkish store was already closed.  My only option was the local, standard grocery store, where I almost never buy produce.  The Brussels sprouts looked reasonably fresh, and both Derek and I love brussels sprouts, so I decided on a simple dinner of pasta with brussels sprouts.  I also bought a few tart apples for snacking on.

When I got home I tried to figure out  what I could add to bump up the protein content of the meal, and make the pasta dish a little more interesting.  I remembered that I had a box of falafel mix in the pantry.  Falafel and brussels sprouts didn’t seem like too odd of a combination, so I mixed the falafel mix with water and fried it up as falafel patties in a little oil on the stovetop.  I removed them from the pan and then used the same pan for the sprouts.  I quartered the brussels sprouts and cooked them over medium heat in my large 12-inch skillet, until browned.  When they were almost done I decided to jazz the dish up a bit more, and added one diced granny smith apple, and a heaping spoonful of minced rosemary (from the plant on my windowsill).  When the sprouts were cooked through I tossed in some whole wheat penne, and crumbled in a few of the falafel patties.  The texture of the falafel crumbles reminded me a little of bread crumbs, but they were more flavorful.  The sweet/tart apple contrasted nicely with the heavier flavors of the falafel and brussels sprouts, and the rosemary added a nice “fall” flavor.  The dish ended up being tasty, if a little odd.  It was also a bit dry, so we ended up drizzling it with a little olive oil at the table.  I wish the dish had had more of a sauce, but I never know how to make a non-red sauce like you get at an Italian restaurant, without using 1/4 cup of olive oil per person.

Update Dec 2012:

We just got back from a long weekend in Paris, and faced with a near-empty fridge I threw together another pasta with whole wheat penne, brussels sprouts, and rosemary.  But this time instead of apples and falafel crumbs I added red onions, lemon zest, and crumbs leftover from our “bar nuts.”  Derek really liked the dish and asked me to write up what I did.

I put some water on to boil, then added 1 Tbs. of unsalted butter to my 12-inch nonstick skillet.  While I waited for the butter to melt I trimmed and halved my brussels sprouts.  (I cut the really big ones into thirds.)  When the butter was melted I added the brussels sprouts I had cut, placing them face down in the skillet.  I turned the heat down to 7 (out of 9) and kept cutting more sprouts.   As I got toward the end of my 500g bag of sprouts I began to run out of room, so I cut the sprouts smaller (into quarters or sixths) and just placed them on top of the other sprouts.  When I started to smell caramelization I flipped the sprouts, and indeed the bottoms were starting to get almost black in spots.  I turned the heat down to medium.  I chopped up about a tablespoon of rosemary and sprinkled it on the sprouts along with lots of aleppo pepper and some black pepper.  I sliced a medium red onion into thin rings, and added it to the pan.  But there didn’t seem to be enough free butter left for the onion to saute, so I added a half a tablespoon of olive oil directly to the onion slices.   Once the onion started to soften I turned the heat down even further, to 1, because I was afraid the sprouts would overcook.

At this point the water was boiling so I salted the pasta water and added 9.25 ounces of whole wheat pasta to the pot.  To the skillet I added a few cloves of crushed garlic, the zest from one lemon, the juice from half a lemon, and some salty, rosemary crumbs leftover from some bar nuts I made last week.  The crumbs contained a number of sunflower seeds, some rosemary, some nut skins, warm spices, and salt.  I put in a few spoonfuls of the pasta cooking water and then the penne once it was cooked.  I dished out the pasta and Derek grated a French sheep’s milk cheese on top (about 1/3 ounce per serving).  The ratio of sprouts to pasta was pretty good, and even though there wasn’t really a sauce to speak of the dish was quite flavorful.  It made about four small servings or two restaurant-sized servings.

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Kale, leek, mushroom pudding

October 5, 2009 at 11:59 am (Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, My brain, Necessarily nonvegan, unrated)

This morning I got up and decided to use up some of the odds and ends left in the fridge/freezer.  I started by roasting a bunch of parsnips, carrots, and a little bit of leftover cauliflower.  While the vegetables were roasting in the oven, I used the rest of the leftover vegetables to make a creamy kale, leek, and mushroom pudding.  I didn’t measure anything, so all the amounts below are approximate.

  • leeks, white and light green parts sliced (~4 cups)
  • ~ 1 Tbs. butter
  • mushrooms, chopped small (~2 cups)
  • kale, finely chopped (I used a 450g box of frozen kale)
  • dried oregano (1/2? tsp.)
  • ground fennel seed (1/4? tsp.)
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • soy sauce (~1 Tbs.)
  • 1 Tbs. nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp. arrowroot
  • lowfat milk (~1.25 cups)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbs. light cream cheese
  • ~1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 4.25 ounces cheese (I used a mix of parmigiana-reggiano and manchego)
  1. In a 3-quart casserole pan warm the butter over medium heat.  Add the leeks and saute until lightly browned.  Add the mushrooms and cook until the liquid is mostly gone.  Add the frozen kale, cover, and cook until the kale is defrosted.  Add some dried oregano and dried fennel, salt and pepper, the nutritional yeast, and some soy sauce.  Stir to mix.
  2. Mix the arrowroot in 1 Tbs. of water.  Make a well in the center of the vegetables, and add the arrowroot mixture.  Cook for a minute or two, until it starts to bubble.  Off the heat.  Mix the two eggs with the milk and light cream cheese.  Beat well.  Add the egg mixture to the vegetables, and stir to mix.
  3. In a mini food processor place the cheese, the peeled garlic cloves, and the basil leaves.  Pulse a few times until everything is finely chopped and uniformly mixed.  Mix most of the cheese mixture into the vegetables, reserving a little to sprinkle on top.
  4. Bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven until the casserole is set and top is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

My notes:

This casserole doesn’t have enough eggs or starchy vegetables in it to really set properly.  It’s not sliceable–more scoopable, which is why I called it a pudding rather than a casserole.  If I was going to serve this for company, I’d probably make individual puddings in my 1-cup ramekins.  The flavor was good, although I couldn’t specifically taste the basil, oregano, or fennel seed.  I guess I should have added more.  I think a little nutmeg or allspice would also have gone well with these flavors.  Surprisingly, no one vegetable really stood out flavor-wise.  Each added a distinctive texture however.  The mushroom pieces were  meaty and a tad rubbery.  The kale was slightly fibrous and chewy.  And the leeks were silky and a tad stringy.  The gestalt of the dish reminded me a little of the traditional Thanksgiving green bean casserole cooked in condensed mushroom soup–but in a good, comfort-food way rather than a cheap, overly-processed way.

Derek also liked the pudding–he said it tasted just like escargot.  I suspect it was the strong (almost raw) garlic flavor that he was responding to.

This recipe made approx. 2 quarts of pudding, so I would say 8 side-servings or 4 main dish servings.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1/8 recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 189
Total Fat 7.9g
Saturated Fat 4.7g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 66mg
Sodium 453mg
Carbohydrate 17.5g
Dietary Fiber 2.8g
Sugars 4.4g
Protein 12.6g
Vitamin A 197% Vitamin C 124%
Calcium    35% Iron 13%

Macro breakdown:  37% fat, 26% protein, 37% carbs.

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Two fall recipes from Fresh Food Fast

June 11, 2009 at 10:24 am (Cruciferous rich, Peter Berley, unrated)

In the past month I’ve made a number of really tasty recipes from the Spring section of Peter Berley’s cookbook Fresh Food Fast.  This week I tried two from the fall section.  I know it’s June not September, but it’s been a cool Spring and there are very few locally grown vegetables at the market.  I figure if I’m buying vegetables from Southern France, Spain, or Italy I might as well buy cauliflower, tomatoes, and mushrooms.  However, after trying these two recipes I regretted the decision to stray from the spring menus, as I didn’t like the two fall recipes as much.  I’m going back to the spring menus.  Next up:  sesame noodles with tofu “steaks” and baby bok choy.

The first recipe was for a wild mushroom fricassee over farro. First, there are a few minor problems with the recipe.

  • The ingredient list calls for 3 Tbs. of olive oil, but the instructions only ever say to use 2 Tbs. of the oil (with the mushrooms).   The onion is cooked in butter, so I’m not sure where the last tablespoon of olive oil is supposed to go.  I simply left it out.
  • The header says that farro is another word for spelt. From what I can tell, farro is not spelt; it is a different variety of wheat called emmer wheat.  However, there is clearly some confusion about the name, and it’s possible that in some locations/times the name farro has been used to describe spelt as well as emmer wheat.
  • The header says that farro can be cooked on the stove top in about 25 minutes, but my farro was more than al dente after about 25 minutes simmering on the stovetop. My farro took about 40 minutes to soften.   Also, even after cooking the farro for 40 minutes I had water left. I would try 3.5 cups of water for 1.5 cups of farro.   Is it possible that my heat was just too low, and if I had raised the heat the farro would have cooked in 25 minutes and used up all the water?

The recipe came out as I imagine it was supposed to taste–roasted, slightly chewy mushrooms in an earthy, wine-y sauce, seasoned with herbs of the forest (rosemary, thyme, parsley). I only cut the fat down slightly, using just under 2 Tbs. of olive oil and almost the full 2 Tbs. of butter.  Despite all the fat, the dish didn’t taste particularly rich to me.  (Certainly not like the rich mushrooms I’ve gotten as appetizers at restaurants.)  The dish simply didn’t excite me.  I don’t think there is really anything wrong with the recipe, it just didn’t suit my palate.  Derek liked it a little better than me, but wasn’t excited enough to seek out the leftovers.

This recipe has a certain similarity to the mushroom-wine flavored stroganoff in Vegan with a Vengeance, but this one has more mushrooms and less sauce.  Although I liked the higher proportion of mushrooms, I prefer that recipe over this one.  In that recipe the intensity of the wine and herbs and mushrooms are balanced by the addition of a little mustard, soymilk, and nutritional yeast, and the addition of seitan adds textural variety.  This recipe was just too strong and uniform tasting for me to eat as a main dish.  As a few bites in an appetizer it would have been fine, but I got sick of it quickly.  One thing that I liked in this recipe (more than the VwV one) was that more of the mushroom’s texture was preserved.  Nonetheless, despite being able to recognize each of the mushrooms, I was disappointed to find that I couldn’t taste the individual mushrooms at all.  I had splurged and bought a number of expensive mushrooms like chantarelles, oysters, and shiitakes, but in the end they all tasted exactly the same to me.  I felt like I had wasted my expensive mushrooms.  I don’t think I’ll make this recipe again.  I did like the combination of the farro and mushrooms though.  Next time I make the VwV stroganoff recipe I’m going to try serving it on farro instead of pasta.  I might also try cooking the mushrooms for the stroganoff dish in the oven instead of on the stovetop.

The second recipe I made from the fall section was pasta with spicy cauliflower, chickpeas, and cherry tomatoes.  I was intrigued by the idea of cooking a pasta sauce on a baking sheet in the oven, and I had all the ingredients except the delicata squash (which I’ve never seen in Germany) so I thought I would give it a shot, substituting green beans for the squash.  I was a little nervous about leaving my baking sheet in a 500 degree oven without anything on it.   I’m not sure what the coating is on the baking sheets that came with my German oven, but if it’s some kind of non-stick stuff then maybe leaving it empty in a 500 degree oven is not the best idea.   I did it anyway.

The ingredient list is a little vague. (What is a “small” cauliflower, or a “medium” red onion or carrot?)  The instructions say that the vegetables should fit in a single layer on the baking sheet.  My baking sheet was very large, yet still my vegetables seemed to be too crowded.  I’m not sure whether I would say that they formed a single layer or not, but I felt like it was too much for a half pound of pasta.  I was surprised to find that Berley has you toss the vegetables with 3/4 white wine before putting them in the oven.  The blanched vegetables contributed a bit of water of their own (despite being drained), and in the end the cookie sheet seemed to have too many vegetables and too much liquid on it.  Nonetheless, I put the cookie sheet in the oven.  I was watching the thermometer in the oven, and the temperature quickly dropped after I had put in the vegetables, from 500 to around 300.  I thought it would come back up but even after 15 minutes it had only gotten to 350 (I had to open it once to stir the vegetables, according to Berley).  I don’t know if this temperature drop is a problem, or normal.  My oven is brand new and a good quality brand.  Whatever the reason, my vegetables ended up steaming a bit.  They still got browned on top, but when I pulled them out the colors were a bit muted, and everything was still a bit soupy.   The onion was particularly faded looking and unappealing.

I tossed the vegetables with the pasta and added the garnishes, but it just didn’t taste that good.  I couldn’t detect either the saffron or the cumin, or the acid from the white wine.  Mostly it just tasted like somewhat sodden vegetables and oil.  Despite reducing the oil from 8! Tbs. to 6 Tbs., I found the dish to be too greasy.  Derek didn’t care for it either.

I’m guessing that if my cookie sheet had been less crowded. my oven had been able to get back up to temp, and I had used all the oil, then this recipe would have come out better.  But I don’t really have any confidence that I would be able to carry it off with another try.  Even if I could, the seasoning is a bit boring I think, and there’s too much oil.  I won’t be making this recipe again.  I’d prefer to make a cauliflower curry, an oven-roasted tomato sauce, or even the saffron flavored broccoli and cauliflower recipe from 101 cookbooks.

Two other complaints about the (otherwise quite excellent) cookbook.  The index is, as always, incomplete.  Here are just a few examples:  When I look up asparagus I find only one recipe mentioned, but I know for a fact that asparagus is an ingredient in at least four menus.  I couldn’t find sugar snap peas under either peas, sugar, or snap.  There’s no entry for mint, despite the fact that the tabouleh recipe calls for 2 cups of it!  I remembered there was a harissa dish but couldn’t find it under either harissa or Moroccan.  Also, I would like it if the recipes came with at least a short introduction–something about why Berley likes the recipe, or chose to put it in the book, or a story about the recipe.  Some of the recipe headers are about the recipe, but many are not.  Instead, they often provide comments about one particular ingredient, or list variations or substitutions.

Update October 2012:

I made the cauliflower dish again.  I still didn’t have delicata squash so added an extra carrot (3 instead of 2).  Half of my medium-large cauliflower weighed one pound.  I cut the olive oil down to five tablespoons this time, but otherwise followed the recipe carefully.   Heating my oven to 500 degrees with the cookie sheet (not nonstick) in it resulted in horrible smells.  I’m guessing it’s from the remnants of splattered oil on the sides of the oven burning and smoking?  Derek said it smelled toxic, so I turned the oven down a bit.  When it came time to put all the ingredients onto the cookie sheet the sheet was a bit overfull, so I left out a bit of the veggies and beans, to make sure not to overfill the pan.  The dish turned out less greasy this time and less soupy, but still didn’t taste like much to me, especially given how much oil is in it.  Again I couldn’t taste the wine, cumin, saffron, or thyme.  The cauliflower didn’t get nicely caramelized and the onion was kind of soft and sodden.  Derek said he could taste the spices.  He called the dish “pleasant.”  He said he would be happy to eat it if I make it again, but he wouldn’t ask for it again.  In other words, a low B.  I would rate it a B-.  The recipe gets a lot of dishes dirty and the terrible smells… Just not right somehow.

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Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

May 19, 2009 at 4:57 pm (A minus, Cruciferous rich, Mexican & S. American, Miso, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, soup)

I’ve tried to make tortilla soup before, and although I don’t know exactly what the chicken-based version tastes like, I know that I’ve never achieved it.  Recently, however, I tried a recipe for tortilla soup from Peter Berley’s cookbook “Fresh Food Fast.”  The key innovation is that he uses a miso broth instead of a simple vegetable broth.  I thought it would be strange–miso soup with lime in it–but it was delicious, and tasted like (what I imagine) tortilla soup is supposed to taste like.  It definitely tasted Mexican rather than Japanese.

  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and smashed
  • 1 small bunch cilantro (about 1/2 cup coarsely chopped leaves plus the stems for the broth)
  • 6 corn tortillas or ??? corn tortilla chips, crumbled
  • 1 large ripe avocado, sliced
  • 2 limes (1 for juicing and 1 for cutting into wedges)
  • 2 cups bite-sized broccoli florettes
  • 1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced thin on the bias
  • 1 jalepeno pepper (with its seeds), sliced into very thin rings
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup red or white miso

For precise instructions buy the cookbook!

Berley makes a simple broth with a head of garlic (cloves smashed but not peeled), and the stems from a bunch of cilantro.  I tasted the broth and I could definitely taste the garlic, but the cilantro was pretty subtle.  Then vegetables are added to the soup and cooked until crisp-tender, and then the miso and cilantro are mixed in.  Finally, tortilla strips and lime-soaked avocado are spooned into each bowl.

The vegetables cooked in the soup are broccoli, carrots, and jalepeno.  Adding broccoli and carrots to tortilla soup is not traditional, but they both went well with the other flavors.  The jalapeno I had from my mother’s garden was hot but not too hot.  Berley’s recipe says to fry strips of corn tortillas, but we can’t get corn tortillas in Germany so we used wheat tortillas.  They were tasty but pretty rich tasting.  Between the avocado and tortilla chips the soup was quite rich.  I think the soup would be very tasty even without the tortilla chips, and more of an everyday kind of meal, rather than a special-occasion soup.  The second time I made the soup I threw in a few strips of commercial corn chips.  They weren’t as good as freshly-fried corn tortillas, but they added the right corn/oil taste, and were much simpler.

The main problem I have with the recipe is that it calls for 6 cups of water and 1/2 cup of white miso.  Berley says you can substitute red miso to “bring it up a notch.”  I’m not sure how salty white miso is, but 1/2 cup of red miso in that much soup would be unbearably salty.  I added 1/4 cup of red miso to start and the soup was salty but tasty.  More would have definitely made the soup too salty, however.  The second time that we made the soup, we didn’t think 1/4 cup of miso was quite enough, so I had Derek add another 2 Tbs.  On our second try the recipe made about 6 bowls of soup.

If you don’t fry your own tortilla strips, this recipe can definitely be made in other 30 minutes.  Berley includes it in a menu with a medley made from white rice, kidney beans, green peas, and cheese.  The dish was reasonably tasty, but pretty rich and not that exciting.  It’s mildness was a reasonable foil to the intense soup, but both dishes were quite rich.  I would have paired the soup with a lighter bean dish and more vegetables.  I’m not sure I would make the bean dish again, although Derek liked it more than me.  I was impressed that the two dishes together took exactly an hour to make (and mostly clean up from).  If I made the menu again, I could probably do it in under an hour.  The second time I made this soup I paired it with a black bean salad–highly seasoned black beans over a lettuce, tomato, and pepper salad.  It was a reasonable combination but I didn’t get the recipe quite right.  I was trying to recreate the black bean salad at La Feria in Pittsburgh, but I failed.

I’ll definitely make this soup again, especially if I can get my hands on jalepenos, corn tortillas, and ripe avocados.

Rating: A-

Update December 15, 2009:

We made this soup last night, doubled, and I used 1/4 cup red miso and 1/4 cup white miso.  I thought the salt level was perfect.  We had 6 people for dinner and everyone had one smallish-bowl plus a second even smaller bowl, and I ended up with about 3 cups of soup left.  The two avocados I cut up were almost entirely eaten, however.  We used corn chips and they were perfectly fine. Along with the miso soup I served black bean and sweet potato burritos with salsa, and apple crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert.  Derek made margaritas and our guests brought two bottles of wine.  It was a lot of food and drink!

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Greek pasta with broccoli, olives, feta, and mint

February 5, 2009 at 3:53 pm (B_, Cruciferous rich, My brain, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches)

I threw together this quick Greek-inspired pasta dish for dinner tonight, in order to use up some feta that needed to get eaten. Although it uses a pretty standard combination of ingredients, we liked it enough that we thought it was worth writing up what I did. Unfortunately, I didn’t measure ingredients, so everything is approximate.

  • 1 small bunch of mint (about the size of a fist), leaves minced
  • about 75 grams of kalamata olives, finely chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • splash of red wine vinegar (maybe a tablespoon?)
  • 2 small red onions, sliced into rings
  • a little olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat linguine
  • 1 bunch broccoli, stem sliced and top cut into florets
  • 1/2 English cucumber, diced
  • feta, maybe 4 ounces?
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  While you wait, get out a very large serving dish.  Chop the mint and olives, and add them to the serving dish along with the chickpeas, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar. Slice the onions.  Heat the oil in a small frying pan.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook over high heat, briefly, until slightly softened and blackened in places.  Add to the serving bowl. Prep the broccoli.
  2. When the water comes to a boil, salt the water, and add the pasta.  When the pasta has only five minutes more to cook, add the broccoli to the pasta water.  Chop the cucumber.
  3. When the pasta is done (the broccoli should be done as well), drain it, and add it to the serving bowl.   Crumble in the feta, and mix well.  When the pasta has cooled slightly, add the cucumber, and serve immediately.

I thoroughly enjoyed this pasta.  The broccoli and mint and olives and feta and lemon were all essential.  The cucumber added a nice bit of cool crunch, but not a lot of flavor. The red onions added color and flavor, but probably aren’t essential.

Rating: B
Derek: B+

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Sicilian Broccoli and Cauliflower Pasta

January 5, 2009 at 6:02 am (101 cookbooks, B_, Cruciferous rich, Italian, Pasta, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

Whenever I ask Derek what veggies he wants me to get at the store he invariably asks for the same thing:  broccoli and cauliflower.  I have a few recipes that are my regular weeknight standbys for these vegetables (sesame noodles, pan-fried broccoli, stuffed hashbrowns, and cauliflower curry), but I’d like a few more recipes to add to the rotation.  I found this recipe for Sicilian broccoli and cauliflower pasta on 101 cookbooks, and it looked like something Derek would love.   Heidi warns that it is a large recipe, but I decided to make the whole thing nonetheless.  Because it’s such a big recipe, the instructions say to saute the broccoli, cauliflower, and onions in separate batches.  Between all the chopping and sauteing, this was a pretty time consuming recipe.  It’s definitely not a quick week night meal, which is what I was looking for.  The recipe, however, is competently done—the final pasta came out just as I imagine it was supposed to.  The vegetables were well cooked, the onions and garlic created a nice flavor base, I could taste the saffron and a touch of sweet from the raisins, the olive oil and pine nuts added a nice mouth-feel without the dish tasting heavy, and the fresh parsley added a final touch of freshness.  My only complaint is that I couldn’t taste the rosemary, and I think the saffron should be soaked in warm water before adding it to the dish.  But otherwise the recipe is fine as is. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran

December 10, 2008 at 5:51 pm (Beans, B_, Cruciferous rich, Indian, Quick weeknight recipe, Website / blog)

I saw this recipe over at FatFree Vegan Kitchen, and after reading Susan’s glowing praise of panch phoran I immediately wanted to try it.   Amazingly, I had all five spices in my pantry: fenugreek, mustard, kalonji (nigella), fennel, and cumin. I made the panch phoran mixture myself.  The only change I made to the recipe was adding some oil to the dish (in guilty opposition to the fat free philosophy).

The red lentils in the dish cause the dish to have a thick, stewlike consistency, but the stew was punctuated by big chunks of cauliflower.   I thought the flavor was fine, but more subtle than I had expected–I certainly did not experience the near-euphoria described on the FatFree Vegan blog. Derek, however, liked the recipe more than me, and thought the seasoning was quite strong.

This recipe is simple and nutritious, and very easy to make, so even though I didn’t love it I’ll probably try it again.

Rating: B
Derek: B

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Pureed Cauliflower Soup with Pesto

October 21, 2008 at 9:21 am (B_, Cruciferous rich, Italian, Jack Bishop, Quick weeknight recipe, soup, Vegetable dishes)

This is a simple but satisfying soup, from Jack Bishop’s Complete Italian Vegetarian cookbook.

  • 1 large cauliflower head, sliced or broken into florets (about 2.5 pounds, or 6 cups of florets)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 Tbs. dry white wine
  • 3 cups vegetables stock or water (I needed a bit more)
  • 1 tsp. salt (I used 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 bouillon cube and it was quite salty)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  1. In a 4-6 quart saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil until golden, about 6 minutes.  Add the wine and cook until the alcohol aroma fades.
  2. Add the cauliflower and stir to coat the florets with oil.  Add the stock, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 12 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender.
  3. Use a stick blender to puree the soup, and add more broth if necessary to thin the soup.
  4. Swirl 1.5 – 2 tsp. of pesto into each bowl before serving.

Bishop suggests serving this with olive and thyme foccacia.  Serves 4 to 6.  Makes just under 8 cups, depending on how thin your like it.

My notes:

I enjoyed this soup.  It’s thick and creamy without actually adding any cream, and the pesto adds a nice flavor to the relatively bland soup.  I wouldn’t rave about the recipe, but I can see myself making it again.  Derek said it was tasty, but didn’t go for seconds.  The next day, however, he added more pesto and then raved about it, telling me “You should make this for company.”

Rating: B

Derek: A-

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Pomegranate Fennel Slaw

September 17, 2008 at 6:11 pm (B plus, Cruciferous rich, My brain, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetable dishes)

I really love a good coleslaw.  Not the pasty, suffocating in mayonnaise slaw that you find in a bad deli, or at a catered picnic, but the crisp, refreshing, jewel-toned cole slaw that’s always featured on the cover of Real Simple or Cooking Light. I particularly like coleslaws that include fennel and tart apple.  I was trying to choose a dressing for a fennel/apple slaw, when I thought of using pomegranate molasses.  I originally bought it for the barbecued tofu recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance, and since then I’ve been experimenting with other way ways to use it.  It makes a nice tea-like/juice-like beverage when added to cold water.  The resulting beverage is not unlike tamarind “cider”: a little sweet, a little tart, and a lot… brown.  But no worries, the pomegranate molasses doesn’t mute the perky colors of this coleslaw. I really liked the pomegranate sweet and sour flavor in this coleslaw, especially with the added sweet and sour of the Jonagold apples from the local farmer’s market.

Coleslaw:

  • about 1/6 head of red cabbage, shredded (10 ounces)
  • one large fennel bulb (about 1 pound), sliced thinly (about 1/8 inch thick)
  • 2 medium tart apples (about 6 ounces each), julienned
  • 1 carrot, grated (optional)
  • seeds from half a large pomegranate
  • 4 Tbs. pomegranate dressing (see below)
Pomegranate dressing (makes between 1/3 and 1/2 cup):
  • 4 Tbs. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 Tbs. minced shallot
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

In the past I didn’t care for raw fennel–I found it generally tough.  I recently discovered, however, that if you slice fennel very thin it’s not tough at all but deliciously crisp.  Now that I have a mandoline (more about it in a later post) that makes getting thin slices super easy, I’ve been eating a lot of raw fennel.  I never had the knife skills to get my fennel thin enough with just a knife, but probably a v-slicer or food processor, or perhaps even the little slicing blade on a box grater would work as well.

This salad is simple but delicious.  I can eat about 4 cups of it in a sitting.  Of course, it takes me about an hour, and I feel like a cow at pasture, but I enjoy munching on it all the way to the last bite.

Obligatory nutritional note:  raw cruciferous vegetables have amazing detoxification phytonutrients, and red cabbage is particularly high in antixoidants including vitamin A and C.  The volatile oils in fennel that give it its unique licorice-like flavor are also rich in antioxidants (and fennel also is high in vitamin C).    And we’ve all heard about the amazing antioxidants compounds in pomegranates.  Even apples (actually their skin) contain quercitins, flavonoids with powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, especially when working in combination with vitamin C. This salad should really be called death-to-oxygen-cancer-and-all-other-toxins slaw.

Update October 4th: I made this recipe again, but I used slightly different amounts, closer to what my mom described in her comment.  I only had a medium fennel bulb (8 ounces julienned), and one large (8 ounce) apple.  I used the seeds from a whole pomegranate, and one 4 ounce carrot.  I liked the salad a lot, although I wouldn’t have minded a tad more fennel and apple.  Maybe I’ll switch the recipe to call for equal amounts (10 ounces) of cabbage, fennel, and apple.  I used 4 Tbs. of dressing, and thought it was enough, although it wouldn’t have been bad with one more Tablespoon.  Since the dressing recipe makes a bit too much, if you don’t want extra dressing you might want to cut the recipe by 2/3:

  • 2 1/2 Tbs pomegranate molasses
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar (or other vinegar)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2/3 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. minced shallt
  • 1/6 tsp. salt
  • 1/6 tsp. black pepper

Derek and I both rated this version a B+, but I left the pomegranate seeds out of Derek’s, since (like my Dad), he says they hurt his teeth.  I forgot to measure, but I think the recipe made over 8 cups of salad, maybe even 12 cups.

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Late Summer Pasta Salad with Curried Tahini Yogurt Sauce

September 11, 2008 at 7:17 am (B plus, Cruciferous rich, Pasta, Peter Berley, Sauce/dressing, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

I make this pasta salad (adapted from a recipe in Peter Berley’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen) a couple of times every summer.   It’s not the most exciting recipe in the world, but it’s reasonably tasty and full of veggies—broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, and herbs. The sauce is made from yogurt and tahini, and is creamy without being greasy or overly rich. Although it’s flavored with curry spices, it tastes more co-op than Indian.  With its bright yellow slightly goopy sauce, the dish won’t win any beauty contests.  Nonetheless, it makes a healthy one-dish dinner, and the leftovers make a great lunch to bring to work. Below is my version of Berley’s recipe, with my own game plan. Read the rest of this entry »

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Think outside the soup: non-standard vichyssoise

May 7, 2008 at 5:09 pm (AMA, B plus, Cruciferous rich, French, Meyer & Romano, My brain, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, soup, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

When I was growing up my mom would often make a vegan version of vichyssoise. It was a simple soup made with unpeeled potatoes from her garden, leeks and onions, olive oil, salt and pepper. I always enjoyed it, even without the typical additions of butter, cream, and chicken broth. I ate vichyssoise both cold and warm, and only found out last weekend that the name vichyssoise actually refers only to the cold soup. Warm potato leek soup apparently is given a different name.

After seeing nice-looking leeks in the Saarbruecken market last week, I thought it would be nice to make a spring vichyssoise as one course in our Saturday night dinner party. Although the leeks looked good, all the potatoes in the market appeared to be from last fall; they were all shriveled and starting to sprout. My friends Spoons and Kathy suggested I use celeriac instead, since the celeriac looked very fresh. I was hesistant, as I thought that celery root would be a very strong flavor to replace the normally quite mild, earthy potatoes. But they insisted that celeriac can be used anywhere you use potatoes. (I have no idea where the celeriac or the leeks were from, but assumed they weren’t local to Germany in early May.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Simple Napa Stir-fry

May 7, 2008 at 3:59 pm (Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

I’m quite terrible at making stir-fries: I always go overboard and try to include too many different vegetables and flavors, and I end up with a mushy, overcooked, bland mess.  I went searching for some vegetables for dinner at the local grocery store in Saarbruecken last week, and the only thing that looked remotely fresh was the napa cabbage.  So I bought the cabbage and some ginger and scallions and whole wheat pasta and figured I’d make a quick stir-fry for dinner.  I wanted tofu as well but couldn’t find any, so bought eggs instead.

I started boiling water for about 1/2 pound of whole wheat pasta.

Meanwhile, I chopped up garlic, ginger, scallions, and the napa cabbage. I worked with what I had in the house and made a simple stir-fry sauce with some water, soy sauce, and honey.

After the pasta went into the boiling water, I started the stir-fry. I fried up two eggs in a stainless steel skillet with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, then cut the fried egg into strips with a pair of kitchen shears, and set the egg aside. In the same pan I sauteed some garlic and ginger with a little olive oil and chili flakes, then added the chopped napa cabbage.  When the white, crunchy part of the cabbage just started to get soft, I removed from the heat and tossed in the cooked pasta, the scallions, the egg strips, and the sauce.

The stir-fry definitely turned out better than previous attempts.  The napa stayed crunchy, the ginger flavor was strong but not overpowering, the egg provided a savory element, and the scallions and pepper flakes provided just a hint of heat.

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Vegan Cabbage Noodle Kugel

March 2, 2008 at 4:25 pm (B_minus, Cruciferous rich, Jewish, My brain, Pasta, Starches, Tofu)

I was trying to decide what to make for dinner last night, and my friend Katrina suggested a casserole. I said I never really make casseroles, and asked for ideas. She rattled off a bunch of recipe ideas from The Passionate Vegetarian, including a recipe for a cabbage, apple, sauerkraut, noodle casserole, seasoned with applesauce and paprika. It reminded me of a dish my college roommate’s Hungarian grandma used to make for us all the time: “cabbage noodles,” which were spiral noodles and sauteed cabbage and lots of oil and salt. They were simple, greasy, and delicious. The casserole also sounded reminiscent of a traditional noodle kugel.

I used to love my grandma’s noodle kugel when I was a kid. Many noodle kugels are sweet, with cinnamon and sugar and raisins, but my grandma’s recipe stood squarely in the savory camp. Her recipe called for 3 cups egg noodles, 1 cup full fat sour cream, 3 eggs, 3 ounces cream cheese, 1/2 cup cream, 2 Tbs. butter and 1/2 pound full fat cottage cheese, and just a Tablespoon of sugar and touch of salt. All that dairy fat made it rich and delicious, and the sour cream made is just a tad sour, which I loved. Sadly, her recipe, and most traditional noodle kugels, have few redeeming features from a nutritional standpoint. Not only would her recipe appall the the very-low-fat Dean Ornish types, and the no-carb Atkins types, but it would also be a no-no to the more modern low-animal-fat-and-white carbs (but lots of veggies) types. I think the only one who might approve is Michael Pollan, as most of the ingredients do seem like “food” (although I haven’t read his most recent book yet so I’m not positive that these ingredients would qualify). I’ve been wanting to experiment with Isa’s technique of using pureed silken tofu in place of eggs in baked dishes, and decided this was the perfect opportunity: I would try to create a savory vegan cabbage noodle kugel using tofu in places of the dairy and eggs.

  • 11 ounces of whole wheat fusilli
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pound red onions (about 2 medium or one very large)
  • 1.5 pounds shredded savoy cabbage (about 10 cups)
  • salt (maybe 1 tsp? I forgot to measure)
  • 2 twelve ounce packages of dry-packed silken tofu (or 1.5 packages water-packed soft tofu)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tbs. paprika
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, slice the onions (I did both the onions and cabbage using the slicing blade on my food processor, but I had to do the cabbage in two batches as it wouldn’t all fit at once.)
  2. Heat 2 Tbs. of oil in a large 12-inch skillet or large dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and saute until softened. While the onions are cooking shred your cabbage, and add it in to the skillet in batches, along with a 1/2 tsp. of salt. You want to cook the cabbage and onions until they start to carmelize. Use a little water from the pasta pot if the veggies start to burn or stick.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375. When the water comes to a boil, salt it and add the pasta. Cook until just al dente (remember that the noodles will cook more in the oven). Drain the pasta and add back to the large pot it was cooked in.
  4. While the cabbage and pasta cook, blend your tofu in a food processor, with the last Tbs. of oil, the cayenne, cinnamon, and paprika, and another 1/2 tsp. of salt.
  5. Add the cabbage and onions and the tofu puree with the noodles. Mix to combine. Pour the mixture into a 9×13 casserole pan, and bake for 40 minutes.

My Notes:

The kugel came out all right, but not great. It holds together pretty well, looks like noodle kugel, and the taste isn’t bad, but it’s a bit stinky from the cabbage. I was hoping that by carmelizing the cabbage and onions I’d avoid any sulfur odors, and bring out their sweet sides. It didn’t quite work. I think that a sweet version might be a better choice. The cabbage and onions already make it a little sweet, and the little bit of cinnamon I added reinforces the sweetness, but it’s not quite enough. Next time I would add the traditional raisins, use slightly less cabbage perhaps, and add some sweetener (and maybe copy Dragonwagon and add a bit of apples or applesauce as well). I added the paprika to give the pureed tofu more flavor, and to go with my Hungarian theme, but I suspect it just ended up muddying the flavors more than enhancing them. Next time I would just use more sweet spices like cinnamon.

The tofu didn’t work as well as I would like. In Isa’s potato omelette recipe the soy flavor is not detectable, and the tofu gets all puffy and egglike. That didn’t happen here, I’m not sure why. In the baked kugel the tofu has the texture and taste of raw blended tofu. Perhaps the tofu needs more room to expand, and my casserole was packed too tightly? I do think that the tofu was useful in helping the casserole hold together, and giving it a slight creaminess. However, next time I would try cutting back on the amount of tofu a bit, maybe try just 16 ounces, which would help reduce the soy flavor. Also, the kugel is not quite rich enough for my taste, so I would add another tablespoon of olive oil and possibly some nuts as well.

If you’re very efficient the prep work will take about 30 minutes, otherwise more like 45 minutes. There’s quite a bit of clean-up as well, as you’ll have a large pot, large skillet, strainer and food processor to wash. I recommend grating some extra cabbage in the food processor, as long as you’re dirtying it, and using it for another dish, perhaps cole slaw. (And that way you’ll get both the benefits of cooked and raw cabbage!)

Rating: B-

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Sesame Broccoli

February 15, 2008 at 6:17 pm (Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

This is a simple dish that is truly more than the sum of its parts. The ingredient list is very short, but the combination of flavors is perfect, and the dish takes only 5 minutes to prepare.

Break broccoli into florets, and slice the stem along the bias. Steam until just tender-crisp. While the broccoli steams, mix together sesame oil and soy sauce. Toss the sauce over the broccoli, sprinkle copiously with fresh toasted sesame seeds, and serve immediately.

I don’t have amounts, as I generally just eyeball it, but I will try to measure next time I make it. Be careful not to overcook the broccoli; it goes from done to overdone in a very short time. I often bring my pot to a boil, then off the heat and let the broccoli sit covered for about 5 minutes, and find that the broccoli is done perfectly, and there is less risk of overdoing it.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts

January 9, 2008 at 8:39 am (101 cookbooks, B_, Cruciferous rich, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

I really love brussels sprouts, and my favorite way to eat them is roasted. They taste sweet and carmelized and delicious, nothing at all liked boiled-to-death sprouts. That said, I’ve been quite unsuccessful at roasting them myself. They’re more often pale or even putrid green, burned on the outside while still raw on the inside, rather than the perfect vibrant green, succulent, carmelized sprouts I’ve had at restaurants. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong; my only theory is that the restaurants use much more oil than I’ve tried, or perhaps parboil the sprouts first. In any case, I was excited when I saw this recipe for pan-roasted brussels sprouts on 101cookbooks.

I followed her directions exactly, and my 24 small sprouts just barely fit in a single layer in my 12-inch skillet. The final sprouts were just a tad too crisp for my taste, but I think with a bit more practice and experience with my stove I could get them to a more tender state. This is definitely a promising technique that I’ll be trying again. It makes the perfect amount of sprouts for two (assuming both love brussels sprouts as much as Derek and I).

I served the sprouts with amarillo pepper sauce, that tangy, spicy, yellow pepper sauce from Peru that I used to eat at La Feria in Pittsburgh. I found it here in Montreal at a South American store on St. Laurent, and have been enjoying it on sandwiches and as a dip for all kinds of foods. In the past when I’ve made roasted brussels sprouts I’ve served them with a yogurt mustard sauce, like the one I described in my recipe for baked tofu. It goes wonderfully with the sprouts, with the mustard faintly echoing the cruciferous tastes of the brussels sprouts, and the sour/sweet yogurt complementing the bitter/sweet carmelized sprouts.

Rating: B
Derek: B

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Spring Rolls

December 24, 2007 at 4:32 pm (B_, Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Tofu)

Spring rolls are delicious, healthy, fresh, kid-friendly, and most importantly, a perfect spring-time antidote to winter-induced “vegetarian mush syndrome.” It’s amazing how quickly spring rolls can be made. If I restrain myself, and prepare only a few items for fillings, I can have dinner on my plate in under 15 minutes. (Of course, depending on how many fillings you make it could take hours!) Spring rolls are versatile as well. Although they’re typically served as appetizers, I generally use them as a main course. Please don’t restrict yourself to traditional fillings.  The few combinations below stick mostly to an east asian theme, but I imagine Indian, Ethiopian, and even Mexican fillings could be delicious. Think outside the wrapper.

If anyone has any creative filling ideas to share, please post a comment below.

Update Dec 24, 2007

I decided to make some vegetable soup for dinner, and started sauteing a leek and 8 ounces of mushrooms in a little olive oil. It looked so good, however, I was hesitant to dilute it by adding more veggies and making soup. So I added a little white wine and some butter, along with salt and pepper (sort of like Kaya’s white wine french style medley. It was delicious, but a little rich and strong tasting to eat by itself. Derek suggested serving it over pasta, but the veggies were done and I didn’t really want to wait 20 minutes for water to heat and pasta to cook. When eyeing the pasta, however, I spied my spring roll wrappers, and the solution was obvious. The leeks and mushrooms made delicious, if somewhat sloppy, spring rolls. The filling was enough for 4 large, quite filling rolls.  Two made a tasty dinner, with a little raw tofu with yeast and soy sauce on the side. I think this combo would also make a nice winter appetizer, perhaps with just a touch of something fresh, maybe scallions. Next time, however, I’d cook the liquid down more so that the spring rolls don’t drip (ooze?) quite so much.

Originally posted May 9, 2006

Today I decided to try an allergy-free spring roll version for dinner. I made four large spring rolls:

  • 1/8 cabbage, shredded, raw
  • 1/8 cabbage, briefly sauteed in veg. broth
  • 3 shiitake mushrooms and 5 crimini mushrooms, sauteed in veg. broth
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 scallion
  • 8 sprigs watercress
  • 1 radish, julienned
  • 1/3 avocado

The spring rolls turned out great. They were big and satisfying, with great flavor. I was worried about not having a soy- or peanut-based dipping sauce, but turns out they had enough flavor on their own. The essential ingredients for the flavor were 1) the sesame seeds 2) the shiitake mushrooms 3) the avocado 4) salt. It’s essential to salt the cooked mushrooms and cabbage well if you’re not using a dipping sauce. The other ingredients added crunch but less flavor. The only addition I didn’t like was the watercress, since it’s kind of stringy and is hard to bite through. They might be fine without the stems, and chopped, however.

These rolls are extremely low calorie, if I can believe the stats on the spring roll wrapper package~only 30 calories per wrapper!

A tip for serving: if you’re going to have people roll then own, then give them separate little bowls for any sauces you serve. Otherwise the sauce get’s all over their plate and makes a mess when they try to make their spring rolls.

Note added May 25th: I made spring rolls for Derek and his parents and served it with the carrot ginger dressing, and everyone enjoyed that. When Katrina came over we made a peanut sauce from my co-op days. I thought the peanut sauce was delicious, but that it did overpower the spring rolls a bit. I couldn’t really taste the filling as well. Also, the peanut sauce did not go with avocado I though. Also, this time I couldn’t taste the sesame seeds as well, but this might be because I didn’t toast them enough. They need to really get dark I think.

Rating: B

As written here, this isn’t a very spring-like recipe, but if you use spring carrots, baby green onions, fresh sprouts, spring mushrooms, and delicate spring greens you can make lovely spring rolls, truly deserving of the name. Also, they will be extremely fast to prepare. If you’re serving mostly cold or lighter fillings, then try starting your meal with a bowl of hot soup, like sweet and sour or tom yum or miso.

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Roasted golden beets and brussels sprouts with thyme

September 30, 2007 at 7:12 pm (B_minus, Cruciferous rich, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog)

A friend sent me a link to this recipe for roasted golden beets and brussels sprouts with thyme, and since I found both golden beets and sprouts in the market today I decided to give it a try.

My beets were medium sized, maybe about 2 inches in diameter on average. I sprinkled salt on them and wrapped them individually in aluminum foil, then baked at 425 for an hour and a half. I checked them at that point and felt that they still weren’t done, so upped the heat to 500 and baked for another half hour. I was surprised to see that even after two hours they were still a little firmer than I would have liked, although the peels came off easily. I couldn’t taste the salt at all, so I think that was a useless step.

I followed the recipe exactly, except that I couldn’t find the shallots I was sure I had bought, so I had to use an onion instead. After tasting the dish, I was a disappointed. I found the dish too greasy, and I couldn’t taste the thyme much at all (even after a threw in a bit extra). It wasn’t bad, I mean basically it’s beets and sprouts so if your veggies are tasty this will be tasty, but I don’t think I’d make it again. If I was to make the recipe again I’d increase the vegetable amounts because I had plenty of room in my pan, and this only makes enough for about three people.

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Cauliflower-leek kugel with almond-herb crust

July 31, 2007 at 5:49 am (B plus, Cruciferous rich, Isa C. Moskowitz, Jewish, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

Derek argued that this dish is not truly a kugel since it doesn’t have noodles. Apparently he’s never had potato kugel, and doesn’t know that (although literally a pudding in Yiddish) a kugel can be any sweet or savory casserole type dish. This recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance, and the anecdote at the beginning of the recipe is quite amusing–I recommend you buy the cookbook and read it for yourself. Apparently it was adapted (switching eggs for tofu) from this Bon Appetit recipe. If you eat tofu on passover this would make a great passover dish.

Serves 8-12.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sliced cauliflower florets (about 1 medium-size head of cauliflower, or half a very large head)
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 3 whole matzohs (2 in the filling, then 1 in the topping)
  • 1 (12-ounce) package silken tofu
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped leeks (white and light green parts from about 4 leeks)
  • 1 cup diced onion (1/2-inch dice, from 1 small onion)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

I’m going to re-write the instructions since I found the order and details of the instructions to be inefficient, and lacking in sufficient detail. My instructions look quite long but I assure you they will be easier, and faster than the original, shorter instruction set.

  1. In a 4-quart saucepan (with a lid) add an inch of water and a folding steaming basket. Bring the water to a boil while you prepare the cauliflower. When the water comes to a boil, add your sliced cauliflower, cover, and steam for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Then remove from heat, uncover, and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a dry cast iron skillet or 12-inch stainless steel skillet until lightly browned and fragrant. Watch the almonds carefully. Don’t burn them! When toasted, chop them in a food processor with a few pulses. Set aside in a small bowl (about the size of a cereal bowl) .
  3. Crumble two sheets of matzoh into the food processor. Grind the matzoh into large crumbs (coarser than matzoh meal) and pour into a large (4-6 quarts?) bowl.
  4. Now chop your onion and leeks into large pieces, and add them to the food processor and pulse a few more times. Add 2 Tbs. of the oil to the skillet you toasted the almonds in, and raise to a medium-high heat. When hot, add the leeks and onions, and saute until the leeks are tender and the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Meanwhile, chop the parsley and dill in the food processor. Add all but 1 Tbs. of each herb to the small bowl with the almonds. Add the remaining two Tablespoons to the large bowl with the matzoh. Next, crumble the tofu into the food processor, and puree until smooth.
  7. The cauliflower should be cool by now, and the leeks and onions cooked. Mash the cauliflower in the steaming basket with a fork. Add the tofu and leeks and onions and cauliflower (without the steaming water) to the large bowl, along with the salt and pepper, and mix well.
  8. Brush or spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish with oil. Spread the cauliflower mixture evenly in the dish. Pour the almonds and herbs into the large bowl you just emptied, and crumble in the remaining matzoh with your fingers. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. of olive oil and mix. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the kugel.
  9. Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes, until browned on top. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.

My Notes
Both Derek and I really enjoyed this recipe. We were worried it was going to be bland, but it wasn’t bland at all, it was quite tasty. We couldn’t taste the tofu at all, but it gave the dish an almost eggy consistency, that really reminded me of a traditional kugel. The fresh herbs were present, but not punchy. The leeks were delicious–I think with just onions this recipe wouldn’t be as good. The cauliflower didn’t add a huge amount of flavor, but with the tofu gave the kugel a great texture. I was worried it was going to be too salty so I only added 1 tsp. of salt, but in the end we added salt at the table so next time I’d add the full amount. This dish is quite rich, and Derek thought the oil could be cut in half without ill effect–just use 1 Tbs. to saute the onions and leeks, and 1 Tbs. for the topping. As is it’s about 47% fat, but with half the oil it would still be 40% fat, I guess due to the tofu and almonds. No wonder it’s so tasty! I really liked the cauliflower layer, but in my 9×13 pan it ended up quite thin. I think it could have used a slightly higher cauliflower to topping ratio. If I make it again I may try using 6 cups of cauliflower instead of 4, or maybe just doubling the whole base recipe (except for the topping). Also, I might increase the amounts of fresh herbs just a bit, maybe to 2/3 or 3/4 cup each.

Isa has you use the food processor for the matzoh and the tofu, but not for anything else. I say, why not chop your almonds and onions and herbs in the food processor as well? She also says to boil the cauliflower but I think it’s easier and healthier to steam it. Her instructions are to break the cauliflower into florets. Rather than spending time breaking the cauliflower into neat florets, I suggest just breaking the cauliflower into large pieces then slicing them–it saves time and you’re going to end up mashing the buggers in the end anyhow.

Even with my modifications, this still isn’t a quick and easy recipe. It’s not exactly difficult, but it does use a 4-qt pot, a steaming basket, a large skillet, a food processor, and a large and small bowl. So plan accordingly. To use one less pan, if your large skillet is oven-proof you may be able to bake the casserole directly in the skillet. I thought about baking it in my cast iron pan, but the casserole would have been much fatter than intended. It’s worth a shot, but since it was my first time I followed the instructions and used a 9×13 metal cake pan.

I cut my kugel into 8 large slices; each had about 240 calories. Two slices were quite filling and satisfying. With half the fat each slice would have about 200 calories.

Update Sept 1, 2007: On a second try I used about 6 cups of cauliflower, from one large head. I also used 1/2 cup + 1 Tbs. of each herb, and reduced the oil to only 2 Tbs. total. I had three quite large leeks, and only got 3 cups of chopped leek out of them. I used the food processor to chop the onion and leeks, which resulted in a much more rough, uneven chop than when I did it by hand. The whole recipe took me 45 minutes to make, plus about 15 minutes of clean up time (I don’t have a dishwasher).

Rating: B+

Derek:

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Cauliflower fried rice … with yeast

May 15, 2007 at 8:44 pm (Cruciferous rich, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

I always seem to come home from work desperately hungry…too hungry to do more than throw whatever I first spot into a pan. The first thing I saw tonight was the cauliflower I cut up yesterday, and the brown rice I accidentally left out when going to bed last night (and didn’t notice this morning either). So I made what I dub cauliflower fried rice. I turned up the heat under my cast iron pan up, threw in maybe 2 cups of cauliflower florets and a tsp. of oil until it the florets started to brown, then added a few Tbs. of water and covered to steam. When the cauliflower started to get soft I pushed it to the side and cracked an egg into the pan, and scrambled it up. I then added 1/2 cup of short grain brown rice and let it all fry up a bit while I cut up some scallions. I would have added more veggies if I had had them. I topped the dish with a heaping tablespoon of nutritional yeast, a drizzle of soy sauce, the scallions, and another tsp. of olive oil. It made a huge and very filling dinner. Not gourmet, but pretty tasty. Then again, I was very hungry.  Maybe anything would have tasted good.

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Braised Brussels Sprouts

February 23, 2007 at 11:21 pm (B_, Cook's Illustrated, Cruciferous rich, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

I really love brussels sprouts when I get them at restaurants, but I haven’t been too successful preparing them myself. I’ve tried roasting them, but I haven’t quite mastered it yet–they’re usually undercooked in places, burnt in places, and a bit dried out–still tasty, but not ideal texture-wise. So I thought I’d give braising a try. Cook’s Illustrated says braising is the best way to cook sprouts. They claim it yields sprouts that are crisp, not-too-bitter, and attractively green-colored, plus it’s very fast and easy.

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, small, firm, bright green, rinsed with stem ends and discolored leaves removed. Sprouts larger than 1.5 inches in diameter should be cut in half.
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Bring sprouts, water, and salt to boil in 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Lower heat, cover, and simmer (shaking pan once or twice to redistribute sprouts) until knife tip inserted into a brussels sprout center meets no resistance, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well and serve.

Serves 2 to 4.

My Notes:

I used 1.25 pounds sprouts, since that’s what I had bought. I thought they were a bit too salty, although Derek added salt. Also, I cooked them for 8 minutes, and they were just a tad overcooked. Maybe I had the heat too high? Next time I’ll probably shut them off after just 5 minutes and let them steam for a few more minutes. Overall, though, I liked this preparation. The sprouts were indeed crisp, sweet, and bright green, and tender rather than hard or burnt. I added pepper, but would like to experiment with other seasonings.

Rating: B
Derek: B-

Update Dec 2011:  I made this recipe again, but again it didn’t work very well.  The sprouts at the bottom (the ones submerged in the water) ended up overcooked and the ones at the top ended up undercooked.

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