Sauerkraut patties

February 24, 2014 at 11:23 am (Beans, Cruciferous rich, unrated, Website / blog)

Derek was very skeptical about my allergy-free diet. He can still eat wheat and dairy and soy, of course, but still—I’m the one doing the cooking. But he was surprised to find that he loved both dinners I’ve made since he got back from Berlin. On Friday I just made a simple stir-fry, but it came out way better than most stir-fries I throw together. Then last night I made these sauerkraut patties from the click clack gorilla blog, and he absolutely loved them.

For the stir-fry Derek chopped up a bunch of garlic for me and I got out some leftover minced ginger. I sautéed both in a bit of olive oil along with a big handful of cashews. Then I added two heads of broccoli, some sliced shiitakes, and some more olive oil and sautéed everything briefly. I covered the broccoli with a layer of frozen stir-fry veggies (including bell peppers, carrots, bean sprouts, bamboo, leeks, etc.) and added a bit of water, salt, and pepper, then covered the pan and let everything steam until soft. When just about done I mixed a few teaspoons of Thai red curry paste with a tablespoon or so of coconut milk, just until dissolved, then threw that into the stir-fry along with some chopped scallions. Delicious. Both Derek and I really loved it.

The sauerkraut patty recipe looks pretty weird, but the title was quite persuasive (“sauerkraut patties will save your life”). I figured they were worth a try. The recipe is not really a recipe as much as an idea. (There are no measurements for anything.) I used:

  • one bag of sauerkraut from the farmer’s market
  • about 1/2 cup of cooked steel cut oats (okay, I cheated a bit on the no-grain front, but at least oats don’t have gluten)
  • some ground almonds for “flour”
  • one large carrot, grated
  • one large zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 red onion, grated
  • a couple ladlefuls of pinto beans
  • salt and pepper and a bit of red thai curry paste

The batter still looked pretty wet but I didn’t want to add any flour so I figured I’d just try it as it was. I added some oil to my cast iron skillet and fried the patties up until brown on both sides. The patties didn’t hold together great, but they were certainly recognizable as individual units, which was better than I expected. I found them a little odd. They were very sour from the sauerkraut and the (inside) texture was soggy and a little stringy. They weren’t unpleasant, but I don’t know that I’d rush to make them again. Derek, however, absolutely adored them. He spread them with more thai curry paste and really liked the combination of the spicy curry paste and the sourness of the sauerkraut. I think he likes sauerkraut more than me.

He ended our meal by saying, “I don’t know how this allergy-free diet has done it, but somehow your cooking has really improved lately!”

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Raw zucchini, carrot, kohlrabi, and arugula salad with a cashew, tomato, basil dressing

December 31, 2013 at 2:38 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Other, Salads, Sauce/dressing, Summer recipes) ()

Diana Dammann (the founder and organizer of our local Saarbruecken vegetarian society) brought this dish to a barbecue this summer, and I really liked it. It’s supposed to be a raw “spaghetti and tomato sauce”, but to me it just seemed like a very tasty salad. The zucchini, carrot, and kohlrabi all add a different type of crunch, and the dressing is creamy and satisfying without feeling too heavy. Diana came over yesterday and showed me how to make it. The recipe is originally from the book “Vegan lecker lecker!” by Marc Pierschel, and according to Diana, it was the first vegan cookbook published in Germany. Read the rest of this entry »

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Daikon “Steaks”

November 9, 2013 at 12:39 am (Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, unrated, Website / blog)

Kimdo, a local Japanese restaurant here in Saarbruecken, has a braised daikon steak dish that I really like. I thought I’d try to make something similar at home. I started out with this recipe from the Nobu Vegetarian cookbook. I didn’t make the salsa topping, but I did cook the tofu in kombu broth. I screwed up the second step, however. I was supposed to add mirin, salt, and pepper to the kombu broth, bring the liquid back to a simmer, and then let the daikon cool down in the broth. But I just added the mirin to the already cold broth, which was clearly a mistake. Also I don’t think that I cooked the daikon quite long enough. The final daikon ended up being a tad too raw tasting and underseasoned, but still pretty tasty. I definitely want to keep working on this recipe! Read the rest of this entry »

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Whole wheat penne with masses of broccoli, green olives, and pine nuts

November 9, 2013 at 12:02 am (C (1 star, edible), Cruciferous rich, Deborah Madison, Italian, Pasta, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

One of my students recently visited Russia and brought me back a beautiful box of pine nuts. We were trying to decide what to make with them when I found this recipe in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers. I was excited because it calls for either oregano or marjoram. I really like marjoram, but have almost no recipes that use it.

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Chinese cabbage with black pepper and garlic

October 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Nancie McDermott, Quick weeknight recipe)

I occasionally buy napa cabbage to make this wonderful vietnamese slaw, but then I never know what to do with the leftovers.  I have very few recipes that actually call for napa cabbage.  This time I bought the napa to make kim chee, but the end result was the same—leftover napa cabbage languishing in the crisper drawer.  I searched in my cookbooks for a new recipe to try and found this one in Real Vegetarian Thai by Nancie McDermott.  It’s a really simple recipe.  You just saute up the cabbage with a lot of garlic and a bit of a sweet/salty/soy sauce, and add lots of freshly ground pepper. Read the rest of this entry »

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What I’ve been cooking: Spring 2013

May 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm (Alice Medrich, Beans, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Indian, Italian, Menus, Quick weeknight recipe, soup, Website / blog)

I can’t believe it, but I haven’t posted a proper recipe to this blog since Spring 2013.  At this point my list of recipes to blog about has grown so long that I have despaired of ever posting them all.  So instead I decided to just do one quick smorgasbord post. Read the rest of this entry »

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Beer-braised seitan with sauerkraut and onions

March 6, 2013 at 12:39 am (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Seitan, Winter recipes)

Yes, another sauerkraut dish!  This is a Flemish-inspired recipe from Peter Berley’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen that I’ve been wanting to make for years.  Alex was in the mood for seitan, and I was in the mood to use up more of my sauerkraut, so we bought a bottle of dark German beer and a couple of pounds of onions and we were all set. Read the rest of this entry »

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Star anise-glazed tempeh with stir-fried peppers and red cabbage

February 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Chinese, Cruciferous rich, Deborah Madison, Tempeh)

Deborah Madison says that this stir-fry is one of the tastiest ways she’s found to cook tempeh.   And since Derek loves tempeh, and I’m normally less of a fan, I decided to give it a try.   The technique was new for me.  The tempeh is soaked in a hot marinade for a few minutes, and then briefly and lightly pan-fried, after which it’s glazed with a bit more of the marinade.  Then the peppers and cabbage are cooked with garlic and ginger and scallions and the rest of the marinade.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Buckwheat vegetable pancakes with spicy yogurt sauce

February 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm (C (1 star, edible), Cruciferous rich, Grains, Peter Berley, Sauce/dressing, Spring recipes, Starches, Winter recipes)

Derek and I picked this recipe from the winter section of Fresh Food Fast for dinner last night.  The pancakes are supposed to be chock full of shredded cabbage, grated carrot, scallions, and dill.  Instead of adding the shredded green cabbage, however,  I used some of my homemade sauerkraut. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chipotle-braised pinto beans with delicata squash

November 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm (Beans, C (1 star, edible), Cruciferous rich, Fall recipes, Mexican & S. American, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads, Vegetable dishes, Winter recipes)

I made this recipe for “braised pinto beans with delicata squash, red wine, and tomatoes” a few years ago when I was visiting Derek’s parents in New York.  My mom joined us for dinner.  Since Derek’s father can’t eat much salt, I cut the salt back substantially, and just let each person salt the dish to taste.  At the time, my mom really liked the dish, but no one seemed to want to eat the leftovers, but maybe it was just because I cut out the salt.  Adding salt at the table doesn’t get the salt into the center of the beans and squash, where it’s needed.  I do remember being impressed that the delicata squash skin really wasn’t tough at all.  But overall I just found the stew a bit boring.  But I finally found delicata here in small-city Germany, and decided to give it another try. Read the rest of this entry »

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Two recipes from The Vegetarian Table Thailand

September 20, 2012 at 10:46 am (Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, East and SE Asia, Other, Tempeh, Tofu, unrated)

I’ve made a number of excellent recipes from the cookbook The Vegetarian Table: France, and so last time I was at Half Price books in Austin I picked up some more books from the same series:  Thailand, Japan, and Mexico.  This week I finally got a chance to try two recipes from the Thailand book (by Jacki Passmore).  I told Derek I wanted something relatively easy, and he picked out a recipe for cauliflower and beans in coconut and peanut sauce, and one for a tempeh stir-fry with red bell peppers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Moroccan-style vegetable tagine

July 2, 2012 at 10:39 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Middle East / N. Africa, Other, Root vegetables, Seitan)

I haven’t posted to this blog in a long time.  Partly it’s because I’ve been traveling a lot, and partly because I’ve been cooking old, familiar recipes instead of trying new ones.  But mostly it’s just that I’ve gotten behind.  I have a stack of recipes that I’ve cooked and keep meaning to blog about, but never seem to get to.  And the longer I wait the less I remember.  But last night I made a new recipe that’s definitely worth blogging about.  It’s a Moroccan-style tagine from the Angelica Home Kitchen cookbook by Leslie McEachern.   Derek and I have tried vegetarian (or at least meatless) tagines at Moroccan restaurants before, and never really cared for them.  The broth is always a bit boring and the vegetables bland and overcooked.  And the couscous never really excites us.  I decided to try this tagine recipe because it didn’t look like what we’ve gotten in restaurants!  There are lots of spices and not much broth. Read the rest of this entry »

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Congee with bok choy and scallion oil

April 24, 2012 at 11:18 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Chinese, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Grains, Spring recipes, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

When I visited China I found it quite difficult to find vegetarian food, but I usually didn’t have to worry about breakfast.  Most hotels offered a big pot of congee–basically porridge made from white rice.  It seems to be the Chinese version of oatmeal, except that instead of maple fruit, nuts, and fruits, the congee was served with meats, stir-fried vegetables, chili pastes, and pickles of various sorts.  I really enjoyed the combination of the hot creamy congee and the stir-fried Chinese greens.   An excellent breakfast.  Today I had some bok choy that I wanted to use up and I was excited to come across this New York Times recipe for congee with bok choy and scallion oil.  It’s from a vegetarian Chinese cookbook:  “From the earth: Chinese vegetarian cooking” by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Sauteed kale, red cabbage, and caraway seeds

April 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm (Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Peter Berley, unrated, Winter recipes)

A friend told me that he really liked this vegetable side dish from the winter section of Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast.  It’s part of a menu that also includes porcini mushroom and parsley risotto.  I haven’t tried the risotto yet but I made this kale dish twice and enjoyed it both times.  It’s very simple, but satisfying and tasty.  You basically saute some oil and garlic and caraway seeds, add sliced red cabbage, cook a bit, then add a bunch of kale with some water and salt.  Once the vegetables are cooked through you season with apple cider vinegar and black pepper.   One warning:  my friend said that more than one member of his dinner party was quite affected by all the cruciferous vegetables.  So if you’re sensitive, start with a small portion only.

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Leek and turnip soup with potatoes and chard

December 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches, Winter recipes)

This is a pretty simple soup recipe from the winter section of Peter Berley’s cookbook Fresh Food Fast.  The unusual addition is 1 tsp. of whole caraway seeds, which are sauteed with butter, garlic, and two leeks.  Then you add turnips, potatoes, water, and salt.  The final step is to add a bunch of roughly chopped Swiss chard and lots of pepper. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cornmeal-masala roasted brussels sprouts

September 10, 2011 at 9:49 pm (C (1 star, edible), Cruciferous rich, Fall recipes, Isa C. Moskowitz, Winter recipes)

My Mom gave me a copy of Veganomicon in January, but I didn’t get a chance to make anything out of it until this week. I saw some beautiful first-of-the-season brussels sprouts at the store and brought them home, then went looking for a recipe. The Indian-spiced crumbly cornmeal-chickpea coating appealed to Derek, and I had all the ingredients, so I decided to make it for dinner. Read the rest of this entry »

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

July 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm (Beans, B_minus (2 stars, okay), 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 (3 stars, like a lot), 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 (A (4 stars, love), Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Monthly menu plan, 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_minus (2 stars, okay), 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.

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Broccoli, carrot, tofu stir-fry in ginger sauce

February 8, 2010 at 1:09 am (C (1 star, edible), 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_minus (2 stars, okay), 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 (C (1 star, edible), 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 (3 stars, like a lot), 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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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 with miso

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

I’ve tried to make vegetarian 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 more Mexican than Japanese. Everyone in our family really likes this soup, including five-year-old Alma.

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Greek pasta with broccoli, olives, feta, and mint

February 5, 2009 at 3:53 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), 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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