Two vegetarian cookbooks bite the dust

December 27, 2009 at 2:36 pm (Cookbook reviews, Crescent Dragonwagon, The Vegan Gourmet)

I am a collector of cookbooks, but a principled one.  I believe that a cookbook that is not cooked from is a cookbook whose purpose is unfulfilled.  If I don’t cook from a cookbook, then I shouldn’t own it.  I also believe in finishing cookbooks.  My ultimate goal is to finish every cookbook I own, where “finishing” means making every recipe that appeals to me.  (In other words, I can skip the recipes for eggplant parmigiana and blue cheese and artichoke ravioli.)  I try not to buy too many cookbooks, as I always feel guilty about all the cookbooks I already own that go untouched.  Still, sometimes my principles lapse a little and I buy myself a new present.  Other times, friends or family give me new cookbooks.  It’s two of these gifted cookbooks that I’ve been holding onto for years that finally bit the dust.

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Spicy roasted carrot spread

April 7, 2007 at 9:08 am (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Crescent Dragonwagon, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

My friend Katrina made a recipe like this for my going away party, and I really liked it.  It was gingery, sweet and spicy and rich tasting without actually being very rich. Katrina said she didn’t use a recipe but based her dish loosely on the recipe in Crescent Dragonwagon’s Passionate Vegetarian.  The recipe is a little long, with lots of steps, but it makes a large amount, probably about 3 cups, or about 6 servings.  Notice that this recipe has to cool before serving, so make it ahead of time.

  • 1 pound (about 6 medium) carrots, unpeeled, stem end left on
  • 1 large red onion, unpeeled, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. finely minced peeled ginger
  • 2 tsp. curry spice blend (see below) or a good curry powder
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1-4 Tbs. water or low-sodium vegetable stock
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • minced cilantro (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Oil or spray with cooking spray a baking dish large enough to accommodate all the vegetables in a single layer.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Drop the carrots into the boiling water and blanch for 4 minutes for long, skinny carrots; 5 to 6 minutes for fatter ones.  Drain well.
  4. Place the carrots on the prepared baking dish along with the onion and garlic.  Toss the vegetables with 1 Tbs. of the oil, rubbing the oil into the vegetables a bit.  Drizzle with soy sauce and toss again.  Arrange so they’re cut side down.
  5. Bake until the carrots are soft–you should be able to pierce them easily with a fork at their thickest point–and quite bron here and there, especially on the edge touching the pan.  This will take about 40 minutes, longer if the carrots are fat.  Let cool.
  6. As the carrots bake, prepare the spice saute:  Heat the remaining Tbs. of oil over medium heat.  Add the ginger and saute for 2 minutes, then add the curry powder and saute, stirring constantly, for another 30 seconds.   Remove from the heat.
  7. When the carrots have finished baking, cut off the stem ends and remove the skin from the oinion.  Place the carrots and onion in a food processor.  Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skins directly in the food processor, discarding any that are either still hard or deep brown.  Add the sauteed ginger-curry mixture, along with the honey, sesame oil, and cayenne.  Pulse.  The mixture will be a little dry and chunky, so begin adding the liquid, one Tbs. at a time.  Pulse until smooth.
  8. Let the spread mellow, covered, refrigerated, overnight, so the flavors can blend.  Remove from the refrigerator at least one hour before serving to bring to room temperature.  Garnish with minced cilantro.  Serve with bread, crackers, crudites, or pita chips.

My notes:

Dragonwagon’s curry spice blend is quite different than a typical commercial curry blend–it has tons of black pepper, and unusual ingredients like cloves and cardamom.  It’s much more intense and complex than typical curries, or as Derek puts it, “that’s pretty weird.”  I like it though–it actually reminds me quite a bit of the spice mixture that I use in the white bean pate recipe I like.  Overall, I liked this recipe quite a bit, although not quite as much as Katrina’s, and not as much as the white bean pate.  We had friends over for dinner and I think they liked it as well.  Derek wouldn’t eat it though.

Dragonwagon has another Morroccan version of this recipe.  Instead of the curry powder she uses 2 tsp. cumin, 2 tsp. paprika.  She says to turn it into a dip rather than a spread add 1/2 to 1 cup liquid, ideally 1/4 cup carrot juice and 1/4 cup olive oil.  Or for a more mild dip, add yogurt or reduced fat sour cream.

I particularly like this dip with radishes.  I also tried it with green beans–not quite as yummy.  It would probably make a nice Passover spread for matzoh. A friend suggested adding a bit of cream and turning it into a pasta sauce.  Katrina thought if we added more vegetable broth it would make a nice soup.  If you have other serving suggestions, please post a comment.

I’ll add the curry recipe when I get a chance.

Rating: B

Curry Spice Blend

  1. 1 Tbs. coarsely ground fresh black pepper
  2. 2 tsp. ground cumin
  3. 1.5 tsp. dry mustard
  4. 1.5 tsp. good quality curry powder
  5. .75 tsp. ground cardamom
  6. .75 tsp. ground corinader
  7. 1/2 tsp. ground mace
  8. 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  9. 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  10. 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  11. 1/4 tsp cayenne

Combine all the ingredients and store in a tightly covered jar.  If stored in a dark, cool, place, this blend will keep for about a year. Makes almost 4 Tablespoons.

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Acorn Squash Stuffed with Carrots and Rutabaga (B-)

October 8, 2006 at 2:31 am (C (1 star, edible), Crescent Dragonwagon, Cruciferous rich, Vegetable dishes)

I got acorn squash this week from my CSA. I like them stuffed, but I never know what to stuff them with. So I went scouring for recipes. This one is actually called Suzie Pryor’s “Perfectly Delicious” Stuffed Acorn Squash, from the cookbook Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon. When I saw the rutabaga in the ingredient list I had to make it, as I had a rutabaga languishing in the fridge, and just the one rutabaga recipe in my repetoire.

  • 4 small-to-medium or 2 medium-large acorn squash, prepared for stuffing
  • 2carrots, chopped
  • 1.5-2 cups chopped rutabaga
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • a few gratings of nutmeg
  • 1 cup peeled, finely diced apple
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice a 1/2 inch top hat from the stem end of each squash. If the bottom of the squash is not flat, remove a very thin slice so the squash can stand upright. Scoop the inner seeds and stringy pulp from the cavity.
  3. Spray a 13-by-9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  4. Place the squash, cut side down, in the prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and check if the squash are tender. If not, turn the squash right side up, re-cover, and bake for another 20 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and carefully scoop out most of the squash flesh, keeping the outer shell intact. Place the flesh in a mixing bowl. Setboth the squash halves and the flesh aside. Do not turn the oven off.
  5. As the squash cook, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the carrots and turnips. Simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain (reserve the water for use in stock, if desired). Add the vegetables to the bowl with the squash flesh.
  6. Using an electric mixer, whip the three cooked vegetables together with the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to taste. Stir in the apples. Divide the stuffing equally among the squash shells. Return the stuffed shells to the baking dish.
  7. Bake, uncovered, until heated through, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot.

My notes

When I poured out the carrots and rutabaga they smelled an awful lot like turnips. I snagged one of the rutabaga pieces to taste it, and thankfully it didn’t taste like a turnip. It was more sweet and yellow tasting. The idea of using a handheld mixer to combine the vegetables into an almost smooth mash is interesting. However, the turnips and carrots weren’t cooked quite enough for this to happen. They stayed rather lumpy. I’m not sure my squash was cooked even after 50 minutes; maybe I didn’t have my tin foil sealed well enough? The final mixture wasn’t bad. The addition of the carrots was nice, but it was still a bit turnipy perhaps. Plus it needed more cinnamon and a little more butter I think. The results weren’t worth the rather complicated recipe, unfortunately. I’m still looking for a good, healthy, stuffed acorn squash recipe. Any suggestions?

Rating: B-

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Un-goopy amaranth (B-)

April 19, 2006 at 5:37 am (breakfast, C (1 star, edible), Crescent Dragonwagon, Grains, Quick weeknight recipe)

In my previous experience amaranth has always turned out a goopy, sticky porridge, but not today. I kind of followed the directions for basic amaranth in the Passionate Vegetarian cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon, and it turned out as tiny individual grains.

I toasted 3/4 cup amaranth and 3/4 ounce grated coconut in a small saucepan until starting to brown and aromatic. I added 1 cup of water and brought to a boil, then turned down to a simmer, covered, and cooked about 8 or 9 minutes. Then I let it sit covered for another 10 minutes, and stirred in 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup. The texture is a bit strange, but I like it. I ate a 1/3 of the recipe for breakfast and it was weird but not bad.

Rating: B-

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Pilaf of Oats with Ginger and Jalapeno (B-)

April 18, 2006 at 4:57 pm (C (1 star, edible), Crescent Dragonwagon, Grains, Quick weeknight recipe)

I normally just eats oat for breakfast, but I was looking for something radically different to do with ginger and came across this recipe. It’s supposedly a “pilaf”, but it’s more wet and less light than a normal pilaf. The texture of the oats is great though, and the flavors come together in a way that I can’t quite pick out any one flavor but they make a new delicious one! Read the rest of this entry »

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