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Archive for June, 2011

This is the second post of “burger” week – and these red lentil curried burgers are home more on a plate with some plain yogurt and lettuce than in a bun. These are definitely more flavorful than the spinach-tofu burgers, and consequently, aren’t a good match for traditional condiments. Like the other burgers, these require cooked brown rice, so keep that in mind when planning these burgers.

As you will notice, this recipe, like the last one, is from the cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. I love this book. Unlike some of the earlier books from the Moosewood collection, the ingredients are pared down somewhat (though it may not look that way form the ingredient list below). Everything is flavorful, the recipes are straightforward, and everything I’ve made so far has been tasty and healthful. The book contains all vegetarian and vegan recipes and is great for those wanting to learn more about cooking without or with less meat. I recommend it!

“Red Lentil Curried Burgers”, from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health

1 c. dried red lentils

2 c. water

1/2 t. ground turmeric

1 1/2 c. chopped onions (about 1 medium)

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 T. olive oil

1/2 c. diced celery

1 c. diced red bell pepper

1 T. grated, peeled, ginger

1 T. curry powder

1/2 t. cinnamon

2 c. cooked brown rice

3/4 c. finely chopped roasted peanuts

1 T. lemon juice

1/2 c. finely chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse and drain the lentils. Put them in a small saucepan with the water and bring to a boil while stirring often. Add turmeric and 1/2 t. of the salt. Reduce the heat to low, cove, and simmer until lentils are soft and have absorbed the water. This will take about 20 minutes. Because red lentils can burn easily, make sure to reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally. If there is any liquid left and the lentils are fully cooked, drain the liquid.

While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions and garlic until softened about 6 minutes. Stir in the celery and bell peppers. Cook for another 7 minutes. Reduce the heat and cover the pan, or add some water to prevent sticking, only if needed. Add the ginger, curry powder, cinnamon, rest of the salt, and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, add the rice, nuts, lemon juice, cilantro, and lentils. Mix well.

When mixture is cool enough to handle, shape into 6 patties using about 1/2 cup for each. Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.

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I’ve had a few cooking adventures in my blog “queue” for a while now… all for veggie burgers. I wanted to have a “burger week” prior to Memorial Day, a day when people eat burgers. A day when Americans eat burgers. A day when carnivores/ omnivores eat burgers. Then the move happened and new posts didn’t. So I thought about the next time people/Americans/carnivores/omnivores eat burgers and here we are, the week before July 4. While two of these vegetarian “burger” recipes I’m going to feature this week are not grill-appropriate, they are vegetarian appropriate and are tasty and would make an excellent addition to a July 4th menu.

These spinach-tofu burgers are mild in flavor, making them an excellent backdrop for whatever toppings you want to use. They were good. Not as good as good or as flavorful as the black bean burgers I’ve made before, but still a tasty, healthful way to enjoy a burger. They were crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and tasted great on a bun with some lettuce and mustard.

Note that this burger requires cooked brown rice. So start that first if you don’t have any leftover. You can prep the rest of the ingredients while the rice cooks.

“Spinach-Tofu Burgers”, from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health

Makes 6 burgers

10 oz. fresh spinach – or a 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained

1 T. olive oil

1 c. chopped green onions

1/2 c. grated carrot (about 2 large carrots)

1/2 t. dried oregano

1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 c. cooked brown rice

1 cake of firm tofu – about 14 oz.

1 t. dijon mustard

2 T. light miso

dash of ground black pepper

2 T. chopped fresh dill or basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

If using fresh spinach, steam it and drain it well.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the green onions, carrots, oregano, and garlic until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts and rice until crumbly. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Pulse half of the tofu and half of the drained spinach just until combined, but not gummy. Add that to the rice and walnut mixture. Pulse the rest of the spinach and tofu with the mustard, miso, pepper, and dill or basil, again, just until well mixed. Add to the bowl. Add the cooked green onion and carrot mixture. Mix well. Taste. Add more miso or salt or soy sauce for flavor if needed.

Begin shaping the mixture into 6 burgers using about 2/3 c. for each. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet .

Bake for 35 minutes, until puffed and browned (see top picture).

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peanut butter pie

Last weekend was a busy weekend, cooking-wise, and otherwise. It was Chris’s birthday and I made a lot of food, most of which is terrible for you, but oh-so-delicious. In addition to the giant chocolate chip cookie cake I also made for his birthday last year,  I made resurrection mac and cheese, beer cheese with soft rye pretzels (post pending), and this peanut butter pie.

While my brother and sister couldn’t get enough peanut butter pie growing up (I would choose chocolate, like french silk, or a fruit pie), I’m a recent convert. Totally and completely. It also doesn’t hurt that Chris loves the peanut butter and chocolate combination and there  is usually some sweet that can be found around the kitchen matching this profile.  I think for me, it is about texture and sweetness. I like my peanut butter pie to have a thicker texture, more like cheese cake than sweetened whipped cream.  I never really enjoyed a peanut butter pie until having it a few months ago at the North End Cafe on Frankfort Ave. It was smooth, not-too-sweet, not too… whipped, but still light. It was delicious. And this pie, from Melissa Clark, comes awful close.  This also marks yet another reason to go out and purchase her cookbook, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. Right now.

There is nothing healthful about this pie, which is a good reason to make it only once in a while, for a birthday or something. It is hard not to eat too much of it once it’s there. So be warned.

Karen’s Peanut Butter Pie, from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark

For the crust

8 oz. chocolate wafer cookies (about 30 cookies) [This is the second time I’ve tried finding “chocolate wafer cookies” and was not able to find them. I ended up, both times, buying chocolate graham cookies – not crackers, cookies).

6 T. unsalted butter, melted

2 T. sugar

For the filling

1 c. smooth peanut butter at room temperature (I used natural peanut butter from Nuts and Stuff)

8 oz. light cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 c. sugar

1 1/2 t. vanilla extract

1 c. heavy cream, cold

about 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F .

Butter a 9-inch pie pan.

To make the crust, crush the cookies into crumbs using a food processor, or place them in a plastic bag and roll over them with a rolling pin until crumbled. Make sure the plastic bag is tightly sealed!

In a medium bowl, mix the cookie crumbs with the butter and sugar until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the buttered pie pan using a spatula or your hands. Try to go up the sides as far as possible with the cookie mixture. Bake until the crust is firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

To make the filling, use an electric mixer to cream together the peanut butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold the cream into the peanut butter mixture until completely combined. Scrape the filling into the cooled crust and smooth with the spatula. Sprinkle the dark chocolate chips on top.

Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to overnight before serving.

Enjoy! Try not to eat too much…

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I’m well into week four of living in my new apartment, with my new cohabitant and our CSA. I’m pleased to report all is going well…In addition to our weekly box o’ produce and bi-monthly mystery meat, our new neighbor also does a CSA, and shared some of her bounty with us last week, including fresh garlic, dill, and beets.

I’ve never talked about beets here before. This is probably because I’ve only made them once (aside from using them for coloring in pickled onions), and it was a couple of years ago. And I didn’t love them.

The beets from my neighbor however, were delicious. It was a single bunch of very small beets, each about the size of an egg, some were even smaller. I wanted to find a recipe that would showcase the beets, and also use dill, and be easy to prepare. A Google-search later and I found this recipe for “Dill Roasted Beet Goat Cheese Crostini.” That’s a complex name for a pretty straight-forward recipe. First, you roast beets. Then you melt butter and saute dill and add the beets. Then you toast some bread, top with goat cheese, and the beet/ dill mixture. What you have is a fresh, delicious way to eat beets. The goat cheese probably didn’t hurt things at all either.

Because I had fewer beets than I remembered, I decided to saute the beet greens along with the butter and dill (and some salt and pepper), for my own spin on this delicious recipe. Now I hope we receive some beets of our own so I can make this again.

If you don’t think you like beets, try roasting them. And try smaller ones, if you can find them. These were so sweet and tasty, far from the larger ones that sort of taste like dirt I had before.

Here’s the recipe, adapted from Dill Roasted Beet Goat Cheese Crostini, by Farm to Food

Serves 2 for dinner

1 bunch of beets – (they are often sold in a bunch, or 3 large or 6 to 8 small beets, with their greens)

1 1/2 T. butter

1/4 c. chopped fresh dill

salt and pepper

4 slices whole grain  bread, toasted

2 oz. goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400.  Trim the greens from the beets and set aside. Wash and scrub the beets.  Wrap each beet individually in foil and place all foil-wrapped beets in one dish. If the beets are really small, you can wrap them all together. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour or until a sharp knife easily pierces the beet. 

While the beets cook, wash and chop the beet greens and the dill (if you haven’t already). Set aside.

Let the beets cool enough to handle.  Peel off the skin and trim any problem areas with a knife.  

Chop into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pan, toss in the dill and the beet greens and squeeze the lemon into the mixture.  Cook until the greens are wilted. Add some salt and pepper to taste.

Toss in the beets and mix well. Set aside while you prepare the toasts.

Spread the goat cheese on the toast. Top with the beet mixture.

Eat and [hopefully] enjoy.

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My mom used to deep fry zucchini when I was younger… or was it eggplant? It might have been eggplant actually, but I remember having fried zucchini and finding it wonderful. This zucchini isn’t deep fried. But sliced zucchini lightly coated in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs, and cooked until crispy makes an easy, tasty, and mostly healthful side dish or snack. I thought the one medium-sized zucchini and yellow squash combined would make at least 3 servings, but Chris and I devoured them all, and were wanting more. Maybe we’ll receive more summer squash this week.

We’ve done really well with our latest bounty of CSA produce, and, as of Monday, used all of the veggies we received last Thursday. To atone for the zucchini and summer squash I could not use quickly enough last week, they were the first I wanted to use this week.

Using up some of our meat share from last week, I cooked the hamburger patties in a grill pan, and served them with salad greens and these zucchini crisps.

I also want to plug Elie Krieger, of the Food Network. I adapted this recipe from her’s for Zucchini Parmesan Crisps. This is only the second thing I’ve made from Ms. Krieger (in addition to refried beans). Both dishes have been easy to adapt, tasty, and not unhealthy. I plan to pay closer attention to her recipes on foodnetwork.com.

Here’s how I made the Zucchini (and summer squash) crisps, adapted from Elie Krieger’s recipe:

Makes about 2 servings

1 medium zucchini and 1 medium summer squash (or two of one or the other)

1 T. olive oil

1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan

1/4 c. plain, fresh bread crumbs (or use dried)

1/8 t. salt

1/8 t. garlic salt

black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or lightly coat with olive oil

Slice the zucchini into thin rounds, about 1/4-inch thick. My summer squash was skinnier, so I cut this into quarters, lengthwise, then cut each of those in half. You could also cut this like you cut the zucchini, into thin rounds.

In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. Add the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, garlic salt, and pepper.  Mix everything together. If using fresh bread crumbs, the zucchini will not be entirely coated, but they will be covered in the flavorful oil mix.

Place the zucchini in a single layer on the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until browned and beginning to crisp. Serve.

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Between the move, hosting people for the holiday weekend, and cooking for 12 for Memorial Day, it has been a fun, if hectic time. On top of this, I received the the 3rd CSA this week, which included lettuce, Chinese cabbage, zucchini, green onions, broccoli, and… fresh peas! I’ve never cooked with fresh peas before and I was so excited to try them. Plus the meat share came this week and included ground beef, hamburger patties, and beef brats.

I had this dinner planned for a few days. Mint arrived in our CSA last week and I’ve been trying to figure out how to use it, besides mint juleps and mojitos (both of which would make excellent contenders). Amidst all of the craziness, we did have our first CSA-related casualty… we had to throw away two zuchini from last week’s share. We just could not consume them before they went soft.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the combination of smoked paprika, pasta, yogurt, and mint. It sounded simple, and I had everything on hand except the tortellini, so I decided to make it. I then chose to add the peas from this week’s CSA and cut back significantly on the amount of oil in the original recipe. The result was a simple, surprising, fast, and flavorful pasta dish that was ready in 10 minutes, not counting the time it took me to shell the peas beforehand. It was a little dry, which was not surprising at all since I cut the amount of oil, but the flavors were still there. It also felt like a nice accomplishment to use mint, peas, and lettuce, all from the CSA.

Tortellini with Yogurt, Mint, and Smoke Paprika Oil, Adapted from Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease by Rozanne Gold, via this Serious Eats post.

1 lb. tortellini, I used mushroom tortellini from Lotsa Pasta

2 1/2 T. olive oil, divided

1/2 t. smoked paprika

1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed

1 c. low-fat Greek yogurt, room temperature

Salt

1/3 c. mint leaves, torn

1 1/2 c. fresh, shelled peas (optional)

If using fresh peas, shell them first.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the tortellini according to package instructions until al dente. Add the peas to the cooking pasta for the last 4 minutes of cooking.

Meanwhile, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil with paprika and garlic and set aside. Whisk 1/2  tablespoons of oil with yogurt and season to taste with salt.

When the tortellini and peas are done,  drain well. Add back to the pot. Add yogurt and paprika oil to the pot and stir. Top with mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve.

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