Tag Archives: vegan

Homemade Juice with a Side of Elbow Grease

23 Nov

Yes, Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted, I know. I’ve been trying not to do it [in the immortal words of Cher Horowitcz] sporadically, but here we are. Life adjustments require….adjustments? New job, schedule changes, wedding planning, holiday season (and by that I mean Halloween, Election day, and All Stouts Day, of course).

Juice

 

So I’ve been dying for a juicer for a while. I would love to start all my mornings with a delightful fruit/vegetable juice, however I’m not about to spend $6 a pop at a hip cafe, knowing that I’m taking in $0.30 worth of raw material (get it…RAW!). So after an impressively unhealthy weekend, I decided to get a little creative and see what I could come up with when left to my own devises. I began by packing my blender full of goodies (kale, cucumber, carrot, broccoli stem, pear, apple, frames, chia seeds, water) and prepared for a whirlwind of colors to blend into a beautiful haze of tasty and nutritious liquid. However, what actually happened was the blade lamely started to cut at the bottom-most veggies, and everything just stayed in place. Awesome.

I grabbed my step stool (because I can’t reach the top of my fridge, I’m short) and got out my handy food processor. I dumped everything into the food processor and gave it another go (while doubling the amount of chopping aparatei I have to clean up in one fell swoop). The second go was successful. I decided “who needs to strain all the nutritious goodness that is the vegetable pulp” and drank it like a smoothie, fiber train here I come! Yikes. Not good. If I every try to make dinner out of a lawn I assume this is what it tastes like. I choked it down and wasn’t ready to give up (mainly because I had a a HUGE amount of veggies and fruits left since I had planned for a “healthy” week)

The next morning I got my hands on some cheesecloth and did the same thing, with the addition of hand-wringing sweet delicious juice out. It worked beautifully, however the whole thing (getting everything out, chopping it up, putting it into the processor, winging it out small batch by small batch) took about 25  minutes, without clean up. I don’t know about you, but I’m waaay too lazy to start my mornings with that much work outside of the gym, so I’ve decided to kick back and hope the upcoming holidays yield a juicer (I have a bridal shower right after christmas, time to practice my “you shouldn’t have” face).

Juice1

 

One last thing to leave you with: I take fiber pills every morning and drink coffee religiously, so this juice added with my normal regimen made my digestive system something to be envied…or feared, I’m not sure yet.

Time Consuming (worth it) Beet Burgers

12 Aug

Burger1

I don’t care if it’s Summer, I love beets. Even the ungodly things they do to my…inner-workings, I accept beets for who they are. I have been getting emails from The Kitchn for a while, and to be honest I don’t remember how why or when I signed up. The recipes always make me stop and read through, but I finally decided to jump in and actually MAKE something and yowza, it was the right thing to do my friends. I have 100000 other things off this site bookmarked now, so….be ready for that.

I am always on the lookout for a great veggie burger. Why? I don’t know. I love meat, but maybe it’s just the promise of lots of non-meat items coming together to create a flavor-punch patty that’s just too tempting to get out of my head? Either way, I came across this and decided yes, this is for me.

{ Best Ever Veggie Burgers – The Kitchn }

And with a title like that, who could turn it down? I made these on a day when I needed to feel that I accomplished something, anything, and with good reason. Let me set the scene…

The day: Saturday after the Michigan Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti

The time: directly after seeing Pacific Rim IN 3D IMAX (a great way to turn off your brain for 1.5 hours)

The feeling: not quite human yet

(If you glance below, you can see just how much fun I’m having with my snazzy Bell’s glasses and mini “tasting” cup)

Beer

It was time to roll up my sleeves, chug some water, and get down to non-meat burgers. Wrap some beets in tinfoil, put them in the oven and forget about them for a while.

CookedBeets

Meanwhile over cook some brown rice, and caramelize some onions with cider vinegar (for extra sweetness)

Onions

Find an old bag of oatmeal (that happens to have lots of good stuff like flax seed and whatnot), or just some regular old oats, and give it a nice grind into a flower-like consistency (and doing this you learn that your ALREADY AWESOME immersion blender has an attachment like a mini food processor. Things are comin’ up Vitkin!)

 

Oats

OatGrind

Now hopefully your beets have been pulled out of the oven, peeled, cooled, and grated and placed in a bowl to await tasty additions. Such additions include black beans–both whole and pulverized WITH PRUNES (oyi my digestive system)–smoked paprika, dijon mustard, cumin, coriander, cooked rice, and sweetly cooked onions. Give her a good and strong mix. Now add that awesome oat flour you just made, and one lone egg.

PattyMix

Now let all the flavors get to know one another intimately in the fridge for a few hours, and then form into patties, and cook until a nice crust forms on each side

PattyCook

 

Those look good….but I wish they had cheese on them….

Cheese

 

Hurrah! Now place on your bun of choice (I chose english muffins because I had them, and that way I could have 2), and add some fixin’s

Toppings

 

Smash together (but not too hard, since we all know homemade veggie burgers tend to be somewhat mushy). Enjoy.

Burger

 

This recipe made a TON of food. I pattied 6 of them, and that wasn’t even half. I ended up tossing the rest in the skillet together to warm it through (I’m looking at you egg) and to give random places a little crust. I ate this delicious “mush” for the next 4 days topped with everything from avocado and cilantro to corn and tomatoes (and sometimes all of the above). Omit the egg and prepare thine self to WOW your vegan friends with your amazing culinary skillz.

Adapted from { Best Ever Veggie Burgers – The Kitchn }

  • 4 small beets
  • 1/2 cup brown rice (uncooked)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans black beans
  • 1/4 cup prunes, chopped into small pieces.
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F, wrap the beets loosely in aluminum foil and roast until easily pierced with a fork, 50 to 60 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a 2-quart pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and add the rice. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the rice until it’s a little beyond al dente. You want it a little over-cooked, but still firm (not completely mushy). This should take about 35 to 40 minutes. Drain the rice and set it aside to cool.
  3. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Stir the onions every minute or two, and cook until they are golden and getting charred around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. A few wisps of smoke as you are cooking is ok, but if it seems that the onions are burning, lower the heat. A dark, sticky crust should develop on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the cider vinegar and scrape up the dark sticky crust. Continue to simmer until the cider has evaporated and the pan is nearly dry again. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  5. Process the oats in a food processor until they have reduced to a fine flour. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  6. Drain and rinse one of the cans of beans and transfer the beans to the food processor. Scatter the prunes on top. Pulse in 1-second bursts just until the beans are roughly chopped — not so long that they become mush — 8 to 10 pulses. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl. Drain and rinse the second can of beans and add these whole beans to the mixing bowl as well.
  7. Use the edge of a spoon or a paper towel to scrape the skins off the cooled roasted beets; the skins should slip off easily. Grate the peeled beets on the largest holes of a box grater. Transfer the beet gratings to a strainer set over the sink. Press and squeeze the beet gratings to remove as much liquid as possible from the beets.
  8. Transfer the squeezed beets, cooked rice, and sautéed onions to the bowl with the beans. Sprinkle the olive oil, brown mustard, smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander over the top of the mixture. Mix all the ingredients until combined. Taste the mixture and add salt, pepper, or any additional spices or flavorings to taste. Finally, add the oatmeal flour and egg, and mix until you no longer see any dry oatmeal or egg.
  9. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer the mixture to a refrigerator container, and refrigerate the burger mixture for at least 2 hours.
  10. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to completely coat the bottom of the pan.
  11. Form patties and cook as many as will fit without crowding. Cook for 2-4 minutes per side (or until you see a nice crust).

Raw Vegan “Lasagna”

7 May

Please don’t revoke my meat and cheese card.

So I came across This Rawsome Vegan Life and…well, just click over there and check it out. See what I mean? It’s amazing. I was feeling inspired and thought “what the hell, let’s go raw tonight” and raw we did.

{ Raw Lasagna with Cashew Cheese and Broccoli Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto – This Rawsome Vegan Life }

RollsThe pictures she has are amazing, and look so fun to eat, and I had most of the ingredients already, so how perfect of a no-brainer was this (I even had lots of snacks on hand…just in case…)

There are 3 components to this dish: Cashew “cheese”, Broccoli Sun-Dried Tomato “pesto”, and zucchini “noodles”. I feel as though if I were reciting this post my fingers would cramp up from the amount of air quotes I’d have to perform.

CheeseIngredientsThis is what goes into the “cheese”. See what I mean? There is nothing remotely cheese-like with these ingredients (not to say they’re not tasty), hence the “s. What’s pretty awesome about this recipe is the way in which she just gives general (even vague) information about the steps (add some of this…add more if you want more, blend it all together). I love it.

For the “cheese”, simply blitz together lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, cashews, water,  and nutritional yeast together until you get a paste

CheeseBlendCheeseI didn’t add enough water to mine so it turned out as a spicy-garlicky-cashew nut butter, and less of a spreadable “cheese” (really tasty though)

The “pesto” is a mixture of broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes (wait a second…isn’t that considered heating?), olive oil, and herbs (I used basil)

PestoBlend

PestoAnd then it’s a simple cutting of the zucchini into thin strips of lasagna “noodles” and giving them a nice layer with the fillings

AssemblyI didn’t use a mandolin for cutting, so my noodles are a lit-tle bit too thick for easy rolling. It was a struggle to put these together

Rolls2I knew they’d be a fall-apart mess to eat, so I dis-assembled them (is that a word?) and cut the “noodles” into “spaghetti” (ow my quoting fingers)

ZucNoodlesAnd then re-assembled them to a delightful non-fall-apart-into-your-lap-on-your-freshly-washed-pants dish

Noodles

This was definitely something different…but really tasty! I would NEVER be able to come up with something like this on my own. I thought “hey, this cashew ‘cheese’ would probably spread better if I warmed it up” before realizing that defeats the purpose of the raw essence of this dish. So no warming of the “cheese” for me.

Raw Lasagna with Cashew Cheese and Broccoli Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto – This Rawsome Vegan Life }

Lasagna Noodles

  • 1 zucchini

Slice the zucchini on a mandolin. Or very thinly with a sharp knife. Set aside.

Cashew Cheese

  • 2/3 cup cashews
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Water, as needed

Blend all ingredients in your food processor or blender until smooth and thick, adding as little water as possible. Set aside.

Sun-dried tomato and broccoli pesto

  • 1/2 head of broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (only if your sun-dried tomatoes aren’t already stored in oil)
  • Salt, pepper and dried herbs, to taste
  • Water, as needed

Blend all ingredients in your food processor or blender until smooth and thick, adding as little water as possible.

Layer the noodles with the pesto, cheese and whatever you else you like, alternating as you go.

VeganFEAST: Black Bean and Bulgur Burgers with Brussels Slaw and Hearts of Palm/Avocado Chop Chop Salad

26 Apr

Vegan!? I know, I can’t believe it either. But when I read fellow blogger Small World Supper Club‘s post from April 22, I knew I had to make this immediately. I also came across this salad from Big Girls Small Kitchen around the same time, and didn’t even realize it was also vegan (chicken-omitting, of course)

Bulgur Bean Burgers + Brussels Slaw – Small World Supper Club }

Chicken, Hearts of Palm and Avocado Chop Chop Salad – Big Girls Small Kitchen }

BurgerFinal2

I am a big fan of black bean burgers, but have never made one successfully at home. It’s a delicate apparatus, my friends. There is a certain art to putting together a black bean burger because it is WAY too easy to make it into a big pile of (delicious and protein-packed) mush. You think it’s awkward trying to cook a big pile of mush in a pan? Try to take a bite without it spilling out over the sides in a stream of black bean failure. But I digress…

What’s nice about this whole meal is the only “cooking” that takes place is the bulgur that’s in the patty, and the pan-frying of the actual patties. The rest is fancy knife work, risky emulsifying, and good old fashioned elbow grease. But what is Bulgur anyways? It’s a ground-wheat (recognized as whole wheat by the USDA) that is often found in Mediterranean foods and my pantry (I have a surplus of bulgur because a while ago I made a mushroom-bulgur dish that I loved, and then decided to buy another pound when I wanted to make it again because I forgot I already some. Bulgur Surplus).

So once our bulgur (terrible, terrible name, right guys?) is cooked and ready, we want to make the burger patties. In a food processor, combine the majority of a can of (rinsed) black beans, shredded carrot, cumin, fennel, coriander, pinch of cayenne, salt, cilantro, and juice of 1/2 a lime. Remember that chili paste I was blathering on about last week? Well let’s toss about a tablespoon in there too.

FoodProcessorGive it a few good pulses just to mix, and add in 1/2 the bulgur. Pulse again (DON’T OVER PULSE THIS IS WHERE THE MUSH COMES FROM). Now add the rest of the black beans for a few final pulses. Scrape into a bowl and mix in the rest of the bulgur.

BurgerPasteNot great…but not bad either (texture wise). Just to be safe, let’s form these into patties and pop them in the freezer for a tic to form up before the pan-frying.

PattiesMeanwhile, let’s start our brussels  slaw. Thinly slice some cute little brussels and grate some carrots (I always have baby carrots on hand, so naturally my hands were a little cut up after this because have you ever grated baby carrots? It always ends in grated fingers)

SlawAnd the only thing that goes into this is now the vinaigrette…which uses apple cider vinegar…that I don’t have. Crap. After some frantic internetting  (because I hate driving to get something when I don’t need to, and not in a “I’m afraid of driving” kind of way, but in a “what a waste” kind of way), I pieced some different things together to come up with the following: white vinegar is too strong of a flavor, and adds nothing, and sherry cooking wine is super sweet. Blend them half and half, and throw in a pinch of sugar, and you’ve got yourself a suitable substitute. Now, with your franken-vinegar, mix some prepared mustard, salt, cumin and cayenne. Slowly drizzle in some olive oil while whisking birskly to create a nice emulsification (which is a mixture of liquids that normally wouldn’t blend but since you’re whisking your ass off they come together in perfect harmony).

VinaigretteI think our burgers are ready now. Pull them out, and coat both sides in  bread crumbs (I opted for panko)

BurgerDipNow pan fry those mothers

BurgerFlipSince I am just the queen of multi-tasking, I decided to start and finish my Chop Chop salad while these bad boys were getting a nice crust to them. I’d also like to take this opportunity to talk about Hearts of Palm.

HeartsofPalmIf these weren’t so expensive I would probably have a can-a-day addiction, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: it’s a vegetable that is harvested from inside the core of a Palm Tree…one might even say the “heart” of the Palm…. They have just a hint of sourness, and look really gross. These bad boys are usually $4 a pop (a can that has about 6-7 pieces, which has approx. 20 calories a “stick”) and are just the best.

Anyhoo, cut these up, add some corn (thawed frozen is fine), a diced avocado, some chopped cilantro, and a roasted red pepper. I opted to make my own since I learned how easy it is

  • place your fresh pepper directly on the flame of a gas burner or right under your broiler
  • let sit, then rotate, then sit, then rotate, and do this until it’s black and charred all over
  • place in a sealed plastic baggie for 30 min to “sweat”
  • peel off charred skin under running water

Now this salad has it’s own dressing, but it’s so similar to the vinaigrette used for the brussels slaw I decided to just use whatever extra there was from the slaw. I also added the juice from 1/2 a lime (because dun-dun-dun that’s what I had) and some more cilantro. I made the mistake of not really documenting this salad, but jesus christ this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. If I can find cases of Hearts of Palm on sale I’m going to go hog wild and make this daily.

Black Bean Burgers, Assemble!

Burger

There was a cilantro mayo that was omitted from the original SWSC (Small World Supper Club) post, which my first thought was “are you CRAZY!? Cilantro Mayo sounds like maybe the best thing I’ve ever heard of” but once I had everything ready, the components were really deep and flavorful, so I thought they’d be able to stand on their own, and hey, it’s vegan, bonus. Now add your salad on the side, and you’ve got yourself quite the ” I can’t believe it’s Vegan” Vegan meal.

BurgerFinalNotes from the next day: not sure how to pack the leftovers up for the fridge, I combined the slaw and the salad since it all had the same dressing, and wow, it made it even better. I had a burger patty with a big heap of slaw-salad for both breakfast and lunch and can’t wait to do the same for dinner (providing John doesn’t finish the last of it before I get home)

Adapted from { Bulgur Bean Burgers + Brussels Slaw – Small World Supper Club }

Brussels Slaw

  • 1/4 cup “home made” sherry vinegar (1/8 C sherry wine + 1/8 C white vinegar + pinch of sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch of ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • about a pound of Brussels sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 carrot (or a handful of babies)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, cumin, cayenne, and mustard. Gradually whisk in the oil to emulsify. Adjust seasoning to taste. I added a splash of lemon juice at this point.
  2. Slice the sprouts longways, creating long skinny shreds. Or, if you’re feeling lazy (like me), just throw them in the food processor and shred. If the core seems overly hard, discard it (preferably in your compost bin). Add the Brussels sprouts to the dressing.
  3. Peel the carrot and use the vegetable peeler to shave off long slices and then slice them into thin shreds. (Or process in the food processor.) Add to the sprouts and dressing and toss well. Keep covered, refrigerated, until needed.

Black Bean and Bulgur Burgers

  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 large carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tsp sambal/harissa/chili paste
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked fine- or medium-grind  bulgur, cooled
  • 2/3 cup panko
  • buns, toasted
  1. In a small food processor, combine 2/3 of the beans, carrot, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and spices, and process until combined. Be careful not to over do it; you’re making burgers, not hummus!
  2. Add half of the bulgur and pulse a few times to combine. Then add the rest of the beans for a few FEW pulses. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the remaining bulgur.
  3. Shape into 6 patties a little less than 1/2 inch thick. Place on baking sheet and pop in the freezer for 10-15 min to firm up. Spread the panko on a plate and coat both sides of each patty with crumbs.
  4. Spray or coat a large sauté pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook until well browned an heated through (I found that it took about 4 minutes on each side).
  5. Serve the burgers, topped with slaw, on the toasted buns.

Adapted from { Chicken, Hearts of Palm and Avocado Chop Chop Salad – Big Girls Small Kitchen }

Salad

  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • One 14-ounce can hearts of palm, cut into chunks (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed under running water and drained
  • 1 fresh red pepper (or jar of roasted red peppers)
  • 1 ripe avocados, cut in half, pit removed, cut in a cross hatch then scooped out
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  1. Place pepper on direct flame of gas stove or under broiler. Rotate and let sit until charred all over. Place in plastic bag to sweat for 30 min. Remove skin and seeds, and chop (if using prepared roasted red peppers, drain oil and chop)
  2. Combine all ingredients in bowl, and drizzle whatever leftover dressing from the brussels sprouts you have over everything. Top with juice of half a lime, more cilantro, and some olive oil.

In Memoriam: Even The Most Attractive/Smart Home Chefs Must Admit Defeat

18 Apr

In honor of my 50th post, I wanted to do something special. And by special, I mean let you peek behind the curtain…

So…I’m not proud to admit this, but I’ve been putting off this post for QUITE some time. While I have had some amazing highs in the kitchen, I’ve also had some crushing defeats. I began this blog to show full transparency in the kitchen and be as truthful (and self-depricating) as possible in order to show that hey, anyone can cook, don’t be intimated because we all are. However, over the months I became drunk on my own power. Each time I had a dish that didn’t turn out I always had another GREAT dish just aching to be posted, and so I just kept pushing these duds off. Well push off no more my friends. I have a nice collection of failures…er…non-winning dishes that I have accumulated over the past few months that I’d like to share with you.

Is what I’m doing heroic? Maybe. Noble? Indeed. Attractive and down-to-earth? You bet your ass it is.

 

Tarragon and Corn Bites – Simply Organic, Jesse Ziff Cool (what a name!)

CornSpread

I made this during my first month of blogging. The day after I made these I had a phone interview for an AWESOME job and they brought up this blog. We all had a good laugh about using salt instead of sugar while baking and agreed that being approachable and admitting mistakes in your writing/advertising is the best way to market and I left the interview flying high, ready to accept whatever offer that had for me. I didn’t get the job. So to get back at them I didn’t post this. Who’s got the last laugh now?

When I saw this recipe I was hoping they would turn out like one of my favorite items from Epic Bistro (they make these heavenly corn cakes, it’s worth a trip to Kalamazoo just to have some). I made these with the perfect specifications of the recipe, and they turned out ALL SORTS of mushy. For the second batch I added a bunch of flour to the mix to try to “solid” them up, and they still didn’t come together. I also realized I don’t like Tarragon.

 

Miso Glazed Salmon – Happy Good Time Blog

SalmonSpread

I had some miso paste left over, so naturally I thought of something in the Salmon arts. Boy was I in for a rude awakening. I got some nice FROZEN filets from Trader Joes, and apparently didn’t thaw them correctly, because not only was the whole thing was overly sweet from the (apparently incorrect amount of) maple syrup, but it had the strangest mushy, watery and all around non-appetizing texture. Needless to say, even the rice and zucchini sides weren’t enough to save this disaster from the sea.

 

Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip and Potato Mash – Food52

ShepardsPie

Now this one wasn’t a total disaster, the “filling” of mushrooms, lentils, veggies and spices was just delightful. The Parsnip topping however…. Now only was it bland and over bearing, but apparently I also don’t’ like Parsnips (at least by themselves). I made this during my semi-vegan week and I ended up leaving it out of the official week since we ended up throwing away most of it. Also, the photos just aren’t that great.

 

Herbed Turkey Meatloaf with Caramelized Onions

MeatloafSpread

This one wasn’t a disaster at all. The meatloaf itself was really good (I mean it’s topped with tons of caramelized onions and has milk-soaked bread, whaaaat), but I tried to be a hero and put it in a big pan and add some potatoes and whatnot to the edges. Everything dried way the F out. And of course I had someone come over for dinner who had never eaten my food before. There is nothing worse than being “that guy” who talks about food all the time (and has a food blog) and then serving something less than mediocre. “I can make tasty things, you guys. I swear.” And we ran out of ketchup, the only lubricating condiment I had to offer. I will be attempting this again, mark my words!

 

Now I’d like to say “yep, since September {or whenever it was I started this dang old blog} these are the only items that haven’t turned out well” however we all know that simply isn’t the case. These are the lucky few that I actually documented.

And now, a moment of silence, please

Far East Meets Deep South: Oven BBQ Chicken with Indian Potatoes

25 Feb

It’s potato time–again.  I’ve decided to bring in an aspect of globe trotting into my kitchen: the far east. I think I’ve mentioned my love of Indian food before, but I must proclaim it again: I love Indian food. The spices, the colors, the way you’ll smell for the rest of the day, and there is no way to get just “comfortably full” while eating it. Ahh yes, all this and more I love about it, and I wanted to bring it in to my home. So when I came across something called “Smashed Indian Potatoes” I flipped over my desk with excited strength and ran to the store. However, smashed potatoes by themselves does not a meal make. So after remembering I have a bottle of Big Moe’s barbecue sauce (if you’ve never had this Kalamazoo delicacy, do yourself a favor and grab a bottle and get ready to shotgun gallons of this sweet and tangy red sauce), I decided to make baked BBQ chicken. I present to you “Far East Meets Deep South: The Now Entering Flavor Country Story”

Overhead

{ Food 52 – Smashed Indian Potatoes with Lazy Raita }

{ The Hungry Mouse – Oven-Baked BBQ Chicken }

Did I really have to look up a recipe for oven BBQ chicken? Yes. I have ruined a variety of chicken cuts through improper care (soupy bbq sauce from the fat drippings that turn into a gelatinous sludge, raw in the middle, just to name a few) so until I no longer feel like a baby bird about to fall into the fat house-cat’s waiting jaws below, I will continue to look up oven BBQ chicken recipes. And this one had just a few tasty steps, nice and east to follow: brown chicken, slather on sauce, bake, slather on more sauce, bake again, enjoy (with some more sauce on the side).

Chickens

And yes, I needed to follow a recipe for all that, so drop it.

While the chicken is sizzling away, it’s Indian potato time. Now that I’m on what feels to be my 20th potato post (read: it’s been about 3), I was excited to see that this recipe called for a healthy dose of cauliflower to the tune of an almost 1:1 ratio to the potatoes. And I love cauliflower, so bring it on.

Cook the potatoes and give them a good mash, set aside. Sauté the cauliflower with sweet delicious Indian spices (while they give you a great list, I just use what I have like cinnamon, turmeric, curry, coriander, some chai spices, and whatnot), some onion, garlic, and ginger. Add FROZEN peas (which, coincidentally became my favorite part of this dish, as it adds the perfect little sweet snap to the bunch).

Cauliflowers

Now add the potatoes, some cilantro, and lemon. Taste. Adjust. Boom. Now for that lazy Raita? Mix salt, yogurt, cucumber, lemon, and cilantro together. Boom, you’ve been sauced.

CucumberYogurt

And there you have it! A delicious wonder with the heart and soul of globe-trotting flavors with the effort of a lazy and lethargic recently-dumped college student (you’re welcome).

{ Food 52 – Smashed Indian Potatoes with Lazy Raita }

Lazy Raita

  • 1cup Plain Yogurt (I used non-fat Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2Cucumber, peeled, seeded, and minced
  • a few sprigs of cilantro, chopped small
  • 1/2teaspoon cumin seeds
  • black pepper to taste
Smashed Indian Potatoes

  • 2large russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 3cloves garlic, minced
  • 1small yellow onion, diced small
  • 2cups cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • 1 1/2cup frozen peas
  • about 5tablespoons or so of olive oil
  • 2teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2teaspoons garam masala spice blend
  • 2teaspoons ground fenugreek seed
  • 2teaspoons ground turmeric root
  • 2teaspoons whole yellow mustard seed
  • 2teaspoons whole cumin seed
  • 1teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook olive oil, garlic, onions, cauliflower, garam masala, fenugreek, turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin seed, red pepper flakes, and fresh ginger over medium heat. Stir until seasonings are well distributed. Salt and Pepper to taste. Cook until onions are translucent and cauliflower is almost tender. Add peas and cook for five more minutes. You may need to add a little more olive oil if things start to look dry.
  3. Add the vegetables and potatoes to a big bowl and stir until well combined. I stir quite vigorously, so that the potatoes get all smashed up.
  4. Add the chopped cilantro and lemon juice last and stir again. Salt and Pepper to taste and serve!
  5. To make the Lazy Raita: Combine ingredients and stir until well combined. Serve alongside or atop the potatoes and enjoy!

 

Side

Full disclosure, I’ve made this 2 times now, the second time with just 1 potato and more peas. I. Love. It.

Vegan Miso Noodle Soup

16 Nov

Continuing down the vegan path: Miso Noodle Soup from Green Kitchen Stories.

There are many an Asian-inspired dish I have been drawn to, but have been apprehensive to try out because I don’t have many of the key ingredients readily available in my pantry/fridge. Well this recipe proved to me that I shouldn’t let this get in my way (look out, Asian world of cooking!). For me, there are certain types of food that I have to be in the mood for (sushi being one of them), and also types of food that once it’s in my head I NEED TO HAVE IT IMMEDIATELY (I’m looking at you, Indian food). This type of soup is a combination of the two. I took my inspiration from the Vietnamese noodle soup called “Pho” (pronounced “Pha” with a ? sound at the end. Although, pronouncing it this way–the correct way–WILL turn you into “that guy“).

Pho is served at the temperature of the Sun (sorry to get all scientific on you) and then they place thinly sliced pieces of raw steak in, and the broth actually cooks it. It’s served with a side of lime, jalapeños, bean sprouts, cilantro, and all that good stuff. I usually put everything in. And by usually, I mean the 2 times I’ve had it.

Wow, I can’t believe I actually found this picture! This is a bowl of Pho I had in San Francisco in April of 2011. We went for a 4 year old’s birthday because “she’s just really into curry”. It was my first time. I’ve never been the same since. Nice lens cap in the bottom left corner.

So, again, this was my inspiration for this soup (or at least I had it in mind). Now I know there are delicate intricacies involved with the different countries and regions of Asian cuisine (or any cuisine for that matter), and Miso soup isn’t the same as Pho, it’s not even from the same country, but a girl can dream can’t she? To steal a recent Facebook quote “it’s a culinary house of cards” (I know, what a great quote).

I was excited that I found this recipe, and it fit into my vegan-escapades for the week. I started making a shopping list, and realized a lot of what I needed (veggies…lots of veggies) were things I would normally buy. The “house of the rising sun” ingredients weren’t too far out there either. Ginger and a stalk of lemongrass. You can find these in basically any grocery store. And if you’re just buying the amount you need for one dish, it comes out to pennies (well, maybe a combination of dimes and quarters). Miso paste is also available and lots of “specialty” stores like Co-Ops, or, you know, any store in Ann Arbor. Lastly were soba noodles, which, again, were not hard to find. I decided to add some bean sprouts to the mix as well. The bonus: my roommate has a bottle of Siracha sitting on top of the fridge, just waiting to be used in homemade Miso soup, how lucky for me.

I wanted to use the lemongrass as either a magic or maestro’s wand.
It had the perfect weight and density to it.

Funny story behind the “photo shoot” for the image: my roommate Max was selling his tv on craigslist this evening, and he was going to be at work while they wanted to make the “transaction” so I became the high-rolling business dealer. “Oh no, now I can’t go running in the dark and cold” I thought. So I began this soup with the time of 7:30 in mind for them to arrive. Well RIGHT after I finished this particular shot, I get a call, and they’re outside. 25 minutes early. Lovely. I let them in, and they just look around at my camera and tri-pod set up next to my lap top (which is blaring Les Miserables because the trailer for the upcoming movie has affected me PROFOUNDLY), with carrot peels, garlic skins, and muddy leek stems strewn about the kitchen (the main door to our apartment opens to our kitchen, hence the culinary welcome). But they were only there for about 8 minutes, boom, transaction done, and I could get back to the far east.

Miso soup broth. Just like Ramen.

So for the “broth” for this is super simple. Boiling water + miso paste + jalapeños + soy sauce + garlic + ginger + bruised lemongrass. Let it sit and marinate into one another, and it’s veggie time. The recipe calls for not much veggie cooking time, so I put them in longer (and hotter) than Green Kitchen Stories calls for because I like my veggies a little more al dente in soup. Also, I ended up adding too much miso because “enough to taste” I took as “keep adding because you’re not tasting it enough, oh wait, you just didn’t dissolve it all the way in your stirring and that was about 2 spoonfuls ago…” but it didn’t ruin it by any means, it just had more punch than I would have originally liked. Separately I made the soba noodles (which took maybe 100 seconds in the water before they were set).

Now my plan was to keep the noodles separate, and to just add them to the individual bowls as they were consumed, but after sitting in the strainer for about 90 seconds, the noodles turned into a brick. So I tossed them with some cold water, and slid them all into the soup, except for the first bowl, documented here:

Everything is better with Siracha…unless you don’t take into account the amount of jalapeños you’ve already put into your homemade miso soup…

So I wasn’t planning on taking a photo of this last image because as soon as I took the photo with the siracha, I almost knocked my tri-pod over diving toward the bowl to dump everything in, top with Siracha, and waterboard myself with Miso-goodness. But in a moment of clarity, I looked at the mess that was produced with my hasty condiment additions, and I thought it was the prefect representation of these kinds of soups. They’re not pretty. Let me rephrase that: you’re not pretty when you eat them. It’s hot,  but that doesn’t slow you down, so you’re coughing on the steam, your tongue is getting seared, there is sweat on your upper lip, your cheeks are turning red, there’s lava-like broth rolling down your chin, and you keep shoveling it in your mouth as fast as you can, as if the OSS is outside  your door, waiting to evict you from your home and take you down a very unfortunate path (too much?). Now, I’m not saying my version is anywhere as amazing and Nazi-flashback inducing as that original bowl of Pho I had, but it was still pretty damn great.

Must….restrain……….must…take photo..for….BLOG

Epilogue: well I encountered some unfortunateness with this soup. You guessed it: the noodles. My first bowl was amazing. And by my second bowl the noodles were already getting really soggy and fat. By the time John got home (a little over an hour after I completed the soup) there was barely any liquid left. The flavor was still there, but the texture…yikes. I took some to work for lunch the next day, and while (as I said) it still tasted fine, the texture was just too unsettling. We ended up having the throw a lot of it away (and I mean “will have to throw away” because it’s been sitting in the back of the fridge for 2 days, untouched, because who has the time to walk to the trash can and turn a pot upside down?).

My vow to you: I will perfect this soup. Or at least have enough people on hand and ready to eat as soon as it’s ready! Volunteers?

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