Saturday, August 23, 2008

Summer Squash Cous Cous Pilaf

This recipe began with an abundance of summer squash, and took on a life of its own from there.  I ended up using several odds and ends from my CSA deliveries, and the result was really good - colorful, with an interesting mix of textures and flavors.  

I even managed to use up a giant white radish that looked like a potato!

  • 1 1/2 cups dry cous cous
  • 2 cups of summer squash, diced into half inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup white radish, diced
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cups of diced tomatoes
  • 4-5 large kale leaves, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups chick peas
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint, tightly packed
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil, tightly packed
The Recipe:
  • Prepare the cous cous according to the package directions.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet.
  • Add the onion and radish and saute until just tender.
  • Add the squash and saute for a minute or two.
  • Add the tomatoes and kale leaves, saute until the kale leaves are wilted, and the squash is tender.
  • Add the herbs and chickpeas, saute until the chickpeas are just heated.
  • Take off the heat, and sir in the cous cous until everything is well-dispersed.

You can eat the cous cous just like this, with maybe a little lemon, and it will be delicious.  

But because I was starting with a large pattypan squash, I decided to stuff the shell.  I baked in a pan surrounded by vegetable broth for about 45 minutes. Then I took the leftover broth from the pan and squeezed lemon juice into it, then poured it all over the squash.  The result was a very light, very fancy looking meal.

The one thing I would do differently is next time I'll pre-bake the empty squash shell, because I didn't think it really got tender enough, and then just quickly bake the whole thing to meld the flavors.  

Peach Cobbler

It was good, but not great.  So no recipe, but a so-so photo:

Stuffed Eggplants

This is not your traditional stuffed eggplants.  It has a cream sauce, instead of the usual red sauce, and brown rice makes the filling a bit more substantial.  While this recipe is more time consuming than some of my others, it's well worth it.  

If you want to pack in some extra greens, add a cup or two of chopped spinach or swiss chard with the basil.  

  • 2 medium sized eggplants 
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 10 oz mushrooms (I used baby bellas), sliced
  • 1 cup whole basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup of uncooked brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cups soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt to taste
The Recipe:
  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Cook the rice.
  • While the rice is cooking prepare the sauce - heat the oil in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour, and cook for two to three minutes.  Add the soy milk, whisking constantly so that it doesn't scald.  Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.  Stir in the pepper and cinnamon, and remove from the heat.
  • Slice the eggplants in half length-wise.  Cross half the flesh, and scoop it out, leaving about a quarter inch on al sides of the skin.  Dice the flesh into half inch cubes.
  • Add to tablespoons of oil to a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until transparent.  
  • Add the mushrooms and eggplant, and cook until they are tender, and have released their juices.  
  • Add the basil to the pan, and saute until the basil has wilted.  If the mixture is sticking to the pan add a little more oil, and up to a quarter cup of water.  

  • When the vegetable mixture is ready, stir in the rice until it is well distributed, and then stir in the cream sauce.

  • Fill the eggplant halves with the vegetable mixture and bake for 35-45 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer Means Guacamole

Sometimes I'm not in the mood for a real meal, and would rather just nibble. In the cold weather this might mean bruschetta or quesadillas, in the summer it means guacamole. Knowing how much I love it, my mom even got me this beautiful guacamole bowl.

There are a million guacamole recipes out there, and mine has evolved over time. The one constant is that I only use haas avocados, because they are much more flavorful. Florida avocados work just fine in a lot of recipes, but I think they just taste watery in guacamole.

Last week, the Big Kahuna whipped up a batch of this on a night when I just didn't feel like cooking. Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures during the process.

This recipe makes a party-sized bowl of guacamole.


5 haas avocados
3 plum tomatoes
1 onion
Juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste

The Recipe:

  1. Dice the tomatoes and onion into the smallest pieces possible, and place in a large bowl
  2. Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits and skins. Coarsely chop the avocado and add it to the bowl.
  3. With a fork, begin to mash the avocado, and mix it with the tomato and onion.
  4. Add the lemon juice and salt, and continue to mash with a fork until the guacamole reaches the desired consistency, tasting and adjusting the seasonings as you go.
  5. That's it! You can also add cilantro or jalapeño peppers if you want an added kick.


I don't know much about wine, and usually buy whichever bottle looks most fun. This one caught my eye and I couldn't resist.

CSA Inspirations

This week's CSA share included two of my favorites from last year: white salad turnips and rainbow chard.

I spent the last few days trying to come up with a unique way to use them both together, and I finally settled on soup. This soup has a lot of things in it, but it comes together pretty quickly so it's good for a weeknight.

This soup is miso-based, which is one of my favorite types of soup. If you haven't used miso paste before, here are a few notes: The miso is added at the very end of cooking, which means you can't really taste and adjust the seasonings during the cooking process. Don't worry, it all comes together at the end. Some miso pastes are mellower or more flavorful than others, so add the miso one or two tablespoons at a time, making sure the paste is fully dissolved and then and then add more as needed.


2 tablespoons of oil
2 cups of turnips (about 6) diced small
2 carrots, sliced
3 scallions, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
1/4 package (about 3 ounces) tofu, cut into tiny cubes
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons miso paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
8 cups of water
1 bunch of rainbow chard (about 10 stalks) -
  • coarsely chop the leaves,
  • finely mince 5 stems
  • (reserve the remaining stems for stock, or discard.)

The Recipe
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot.
  2. Saute the turnips and carrots until just tender, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the scallions, chard stems, and cubed tofu. Saute until the scallions and stems are tender.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
  5. Add 8 cups of water and the chard leaves.
  6. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 5-7 minutes, until the chard leaves have wilted.
  7. Turn off the heat and stir in the miso and soy sauce, making sure the miso is fully dissolved.
I served this with toasted onion naan on the side for dipping. Yum.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tomato Tart

The inspiration for this recipe came from these yellow tomatoes I discovered at the farmer's market.  I wanted to make something to show off their beautiful color, and a salad just seemed boring.

I made a basic flakey pie crust, but added a few tablespoons of rosemary for flavor.  I don't actually own a tart pan, so I made this in a pie dish instead.  It worked out alright, but I thought it was too thick, and the filling overpowered the tomatoes.  My mother asked why I didn't just fill the dish up halfway.  Ummmm..... that seems so obvious, how did I not think of that?

Anyway, the filling was tofu ricotta.  I'm still working out the recipe, but it was very light, seasoned with lemon, and more rosemary.  

I put thin slices of tomato all over the top, and baked for 40 minutes.

It came out of the oven smelling incredibly fragrant from the rosemary, and the filling had an almost quiche-like consistency.  The multi-colored tomatoes made a beautiful presentation - definitely a nice change from the green/brown palate of most of my meals.  This recipe is  a keeper, but I still need to work out the kinks.  

Happy Belated 4th of July!!!

A crappy picture of a delicious cake.

Chocolate blackout cake with vanilla frosting and berries.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

When the Big Kahuna's Away...

The Big Kahuna is away at a conference for four days this week.  That means I've got the kitchen all to myself, and I'm going to take advantage of the opportunity to make all the crazy recipes I've been dying to try, but he just wouldn't eat.

First up:  Mac Daddy from Veganomicon.  I actually have made this one before, and it is completely addictive.  This time, I added a few cups of CSA kale, so at least I've got some greens in this otherwise junk-foody dish.  It turned out better than ever, but no picture since the sauce is a rather unappealing shade of yellow.

Next:  Tempeh Hot Wings, from Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk.  

I actually think the Big Kahuna would probably like these, since he loves anything that comes with a good sauce. Unfortunately, he's been scarred by a bad experience with tempeh in the past.  I had no idea you had to boil the bitterness out of tempeh before using it, so completely screwed up my first recipe using it.  I know better now, and love the stuff.  Sadly though, tempeh is now referred to as "that gross stuff."

I followed the recipe except I used maple syrup in place of agave nectar in the sauce.  

Finally:  Julie Hasson's Spicy Italian Sausages.  I've been wanting to try these forever, especially since the base recipe is so versatile and adaptable.  The Big Kahuna has eaten and enjoyed seitan in the past, but I thought it would be best to experiment with these on my own first, since I don't want a repeat of the tempeh debacle.

I halved the recipe, and ended up with 5 decently sized sausages.  There's a crazy number of spices in these, but the result is surprisingly authentic.  This was my first ever attempt at making seitan, and I was nervous because I'd heard it can be finicky, but these sausages came out perfect.  So let me be the millionth person to declare that Julie is a genius, both for the recipe and the method.

Tonight for a quick dinner I sauteed a bunch of escarole with garlic, and then sliced and browned one of the sausages.  Spicy and delicious.  

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Urban Foraging

Around the corner from our apartment is a giant blackberry tree on the patio of a Mexican restaurant.  The branches hang over the sidewalk and falling berries have turned a few squares of pavement a lovely shade of purple.  Every time I walk by I think it's such a waste of delicious, beautiful berries.  

So yesterday I decided to do something about it.  And since I'm a bit too short to reach the branches, I dragged the Big Kahuna out with me.  He was a really good sport about it, though I think he was mildly embarrassed to be standing out on a street corner picking a tree bare as the neighborhood brunch-goers ambled by.  

The best berries were way up high out our reach, but we picked until our hands were died purple, and ended up with enough to make a berry crisp, which was my goal.  

I also had a basket of local farmer's market strawberries.  Red all the way through, and flavorful - the way strawberries are meant to be.  Not those sad, watery, white-in-the-middle supermarket strawberries.

I used both berries to make the Berry Coconut Crisp from Veganomicon.  It was delicious, and even more so because we had to work a bit for it.

Now I'm just going to have to pluck up the courage to ask the restaurant (and tree) owner if I can come back with a ladder and get the rest of the berries down.

First CSA Delivery

My local CSA started which means lots of organic greens this month.  (And I'm a bit behind on posting, since week 2's share is currently in my fridge.) The first share included garlic scapes, broccoli, broccoli greens, red spinach, red lettuce, cilantro and peas.  

Red Spinach

The scapes

I had a couple of thoughts for the garlic scapes - either pesto, or a garlicky bean dip - so I ended up incorporating both ideas, and more CSA vegetables, into a new recipe.  It's ridiculously easy to make, and only takes about ten minutes.  The Big Kahuna and I ate this alone as a light supper, but it would also make a nice side dish with something more substantial.

One note - this is VERY garlicky, so if you are not as much of a fan of garlic as we are, leave out one of the scapes, or add more cilantro.  

Butterbean Salad with Cilanto-Scape Pesto and Sauteed Broccoli Greens:

2 15 oz cans of butter beans
1/2 cup cilantro
4 garlic scapes
1 tsp salt
2 cups broccoli greens, coarsely chopped
olive oil

The Recipe:
  1. Put the scapes, cilantro and salt in a food processor. Process for a few seconds to chop up the cilantro and scapes into small bits.  
  2. With the processor running, pour in the olive oil a little at a time until it forms a paste.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and add the broccoli greens.  Saute until greens are wilted and tender.
  4. Pour the beans into a bowl, add the pesto, and toss until the beans are coated. and the pesto is 
  5. Fold in the greens, and mix so they are well-distributed.  
  6. That's it!  Serve and enjoy. 

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fried Rice for One

This is a quick, easy, weeknight recipe that is the perfect meal when you want to eat something healthy, but are craving something that tastes greasy and bad for you.  

The recipe only serves one because I threw this together for myself one evening with odds and ends rummaged from the back of the fridge.   It can easily be multiplied to serve more.  

1/3 cup brown rice
1 teaspoon peanut (or sesame) oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 inch piece of ginger, minced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, diced
1/3 cup tofu, cut into small triangles
1 cup chopped spinach, tightly packed

The Recipe
  1. Cook the rice while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium sized skillet.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the scallions and tofu and saute over medium-low heat.

  4. When the scallions are tender and the tofu lightly browned, add the garlic and ginger.
  5. Saute until the garlic and ginger are fragrant, then add the soy sauce, rice vinegar and spinach.

  6. Raise the heat slightly, and bring to a simmer.  Cook until the spinach has wilted.  (There should still be some liquid in the pan, but most of it will have evaporated.)
  7. Add the rice, and toss together until the rice is coated in liquid and the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Soba Noodle Bowls

I had a couple packages of soba noodles in different colors, and I thought it would be a good idea to cook them up in a ginger-citrus broth, with a lot of mushrooms and and bitter greens.  I sauteed scallions with garlic and ginger, shiitake and oyster mushrooms.  Then I tossed in a big bunch of broccoli rabe, and let it simmer in a mixture of wine, lime juice, and vegetable broth.  Everything went as planned, the noodles finished cooking right when the vegetables got tender, and in under half an hour I beautiful looking dinner.  Then I took the first bite, and disaster.  Everything was wrong:  too much ginger, too much lime, too much liquid overall, the mushrooms shrank down to nothing, and the bitterness of the broccoli rabe overpowered the rest of the dish.

Still the basic idea was a good one, so a week later, I tried again.  This time I used spinach in place of the broccoli rabe, subbed in portobellos for half the shiitakes, and changed all the proportions in the broth.  And this time the result was an actual, edible meal.  Recipe below:


• Soba Noodles (8 oz)
• 10 oz spinach, coarsely chopped
• 2 cups mushrooms (potobello/shitake) chopped
• 5 scallions, chopped
• ½ inch piece of ginger, minced
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• Juice of half a lime
• 2 tbs soy sauce
• ½ cup of wine
• 2 tbs peanut oil

Cook the soba noodles according to package directions.

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Sauté the scallions until tender. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté until lightly browned and aromatic. Add the lime juice, soy sauce, and mushrooms, cook until the mushrooms are tender. Add the wine and spinach, cover the pot, and steam until the spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally.

Toss the noodles with the vegetable mixture, and serve with hot sauce (Vietnamese chili garlic sauce) and lime wedges.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

We Wish You a Merry .... Easter?

I was in Wegman's yesterday.  I don't go there often, because there isn't one very nearby, but some errands took me in that direction, so I decided to swing by and pick up some good bread, and other goodies.  

I went down the soy milk aisle with the hope of finding a flavor other than plain/vanilla/chocolate, and was rewarded with...... Christmas flavors!!!!!  I can't figure out why they'd still be on the shelf.  I suppose Wegman's had leftovers, and decided to just leave them on the shelf. 

 So now in my fridge, I have Peppermint Chocolate and Holly Nog!  I'd never had either before, so I'm really excited anyway.  I tried Holly Nog today, and it was surprisingly good - not as thick or rich as traditional eggnog, but it has a similar creaminess, and a nice nutmeg-y spice.

It's completely the wrong season, but I'm really enjoying this anyway.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Pot Pie

The first time I decided to try the cauliflower pot pie from Veganomicon was for a mid-week supper.  Not the best decision.  The dish itself is amazingly good, but it took about 2 hours start to finish.  Fortunately, that night I was in the mood for a project, but from now on I think I'll save this for weekends.  
The sauce is labor intensive in the sense that you have to stand over it and whisk the whole time.  But it comes out deliciously thick and rich (although not exactly pretty in the pot).

Next come the vegetables, which are sauteed together.  Leeks give the vegetables a really nice flavor - oniony, but not overpoweringly so.

While the vegetables were cooking away, I rolled out the pie crust, which came together incredibly quick.  At this  point, I diverged from the recipe, which calls for cutting the dough into little biscuits to place on top of the filling in a dutch oven.  
I wanted a traditional pot pie, so I mixed the sauce together with the vegetables and poured it all into a pie plate.  Then I covered the whole thing with a circle of crust, crimped the edges, and poked some vents in the top with a fork.
The cooking time didn't change with the variation, and pie came out crisp and golden, with a tender, creamy, vegetable filling.  
Here's the pie:

And a slice:

The Big Kahuna gave this a 9.5/10.  High praise.
BONUS:  Herb Scalloped Potatoes
I can't believe it took me so long to make these, even after hearing everyone rave about how good they are.  Yes, they take a long time in the oven, but the actual hands-on time is minimal.  
They are the perfect side to just about any cold-weather meal, but a warning - no matter how much you make, you will NOT have leftovers.
A rare 10/10 from the Big Kahuna, and I think he would have given them an 11 if that were allowed.

Potato and Mushroom Blintzes

Another one from the Veganomicon.  i made these for a weeknight dinner, and they came together really quickly, though I did make the crepe batter the night before.

The crepes were incredibly simple, just throw all the ingredients in the blender, blend, and then refrigerate.  A quick stir the next day, and I was good to go.  I was able to cook up a big stack of crepes in about 10 minutes.  

The filling is a very comfort-foody mix of mashed potatoes and mushrooms.  I boiled the potatoes while cooking the crepes, so by the time I was done, the potatoes were ready to mash.  

Filling the crepes was fun.  A couple of spoonfuls of potato mixture, roll it up, repeat.  Despite the heavy filling, the crepes held together well, and I only had one ripped crepe.  

The final step is to brown the blintzes in a skillet.  Instead of doing this all at once, I just did a few at a time, as the Big Kahuna and I were ready to eat them.  

To make the meal a little fancier, I served the blintzes with a mustard sauce and a side of bok choi.  I cheated with the bok choi, and steamed it in the microwave while everything else was cooking.  It was the mustard sauce that really made the meal. Of course, I didn't actually have about half the required ingredients, so I bastardized the recipe with substitutions.  The sauce tasted amazing, but I thought it was a bit too thick.  I had to spread it, instead of just pour it. But I can't blame the recipe, because I didn't really follow it.  

(I had a picture of the blintzes with sauce, but blogger hates me, and won't let me post it.)

The Big Kahuna, who judges all meals based on the sauce, gave this one 9/10.  

Given how easy this was, I'm excited now to try out other dinner crepes.  

Friday, January 25, 2008

Not Food.

This is Daphne.  Yes, she's a hotdog, but not the kind that goes on a bun.  She helps keep my kitchen floor clean.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Nada's Mujadara

I love mujadara. It is one of my standby quick weeknight go-to meals. But whenever I see a mujadara recipe in a cookbook, I'm always a little bit shocked. So many steps! So many SPICES!!!  It makes me wonder if the authors are purposefully complicating things.  

I imagine there are many "authentic" versions of mujadara out there, but I learned mine from my mother-in-law, so I know it's authentic, and it has the added benefit of being as simple as can be.  Just 5 ingredients, and only one spice - Salt.  Everything is thrown into the pot, and cooked into a warm, comforting mush.  

I think the key difference is that my mujadara is more akin to a polenta, than a curry.

To balance out the salty, creamy, mushiness of the mujadara, I like to top it with a salad of chopped tomato, cucumber, and sometimes pepper, that is drowned vinegar and tossed with mashed garlic.  The vinegar gives the salad a bit of a "bite" that contrasts nicely with the smoothness of the mujadara.

So here's the dish - the ultimate comfort food:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Chickpea Noodle Soup

A recipe from the Veganomicon.  Leave it to Isa and Terry to take such a quintessentially American comfort food as Chicken Noodle Soup, and make it not only vegetarian, but also Asian.  But this soup is even more soothing and delicious than the original.

This is a great soup for a weeknight dinner.  It's just a few simple steps, and it comes together surprisingly quick.  Just saute a base of vegetables and herbs, add the water, and then toss in soba noodles and miso paste.  

The only quirk when it comes to making this soup is that it is near impossible to play with the seasonings until the very end.  Because a lot of the flavor, and all of the salt, in this soup comes from the miso paste, which is added at the VERY end, I had to follow the recipe precisely, and then make a leap of faith that it would be properly seasoned.  

(The recipe actually calls for brown rice miso, but soy miso was all I could find, and it works great.)

Here's the final result in all its noodley goodness.  Warm, hearty, and chock full of protein (my mom constantly worries that I don't get enough).

Too bad there are never any left-overs.

9.5/10 stars from the Big Kahuna... high praise, although now he's opining that parsley, or maybe hot sauce, would bring it up to a perfect 10.

New Cutting Board!!!

Who gets excited about a cutting board, right?

Well.... we'd been using the same sad plastic cutting board for about 5 years, so it was time to move on, and this is a definite improvement.  

The new cutting board is beautiful bamboo.  So, not only is it sturdy, it's environmentally sustainable as well.  And it meets the #1 requirement of being long enough to balance over my sink.  It's actually slightly larger than the old one, so hopefully it will cut down on the number of times I attempt to cut something, everything slides into the sink, and I narrowly miss chopping off a finger.  (Good times.)