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!