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In my graduate program, we had a handful of students from Seoul, South Korea who had civil servant backgrounds. I served as a “conversation partner” for one of my classmates and quickly became friends with him and his wife. I don’t recall ever tasting kimchi prior to meeting my Korean friends. I had never been to a Korean restaurant and the fermented cabbage dish was not on my radar until Seongmo and his wife, Bora prepared beef bulgogi and kimchi for me to take home to my family in Iowa over Thanksgiving break. I never got the recipe from Bora, but one taste of the spicy, funky, salty, and pickle-y cabbage and I was hooked. I’m a fan of big, bold flavors and you can’t get much bolder than kimchi.

I’ve not made true kimchi before – though I’m eager to try Edward Lee’s recipe in his recent book, Smoke and Pickles, I have made Mark Bittman’s quick approximation of it. The kimchi for this simple stir-fry can be made the day before, instead of months before, doesn’t require hard-to-find ingredients, and still tastes spicy and salty, if not quite as fermented-funky.

Unfortunately my sous chef doesn’t like kimchi (or pickles or eggs). That’s about all he won’t eat so I’m really not that constrained. I love it though, and we recently received a head of napa cabbage in our CSA, as well as sirloin steak, so I made this dish. Chris suffered through about half of his bowl before rounding out his meal with cheese and crackers. I had my fill of kimchi and rice that week.

So here’s the recipe – I recommend making the rice and kimchi the night before you want to eat this – then for dinner all you have to do is quickly stir-fry the beef, then stir-fry the rice and add the kimchi. Easy and delicious, if you are into spicy, pickle-y things, but I still encourage you to befriend someone who knows how to make real kimchi.

Note for vegetarians: if you aren’t into beef, still make the rice and kimchi stir-fry, and serve with a fried egg.

Kimchi Rice with Beef, from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman

serves 4

  • 1 small head napa cabbage (about 12 oz), cored and shredded (note my cabbage was closer to 24 oz. I upped the spices a bit and just ended up with a higher kimchi to rice ratio)
  • one bunch (6) green onions, chopped
  • 2 T. minced garlic
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • 1 T. red chile flakes (I used about 3/4 T. in the hopes of lowering the spice for Chris)
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 8 oz. beef flank or skirt steak (I used sirloin) very thinly sliced
  • 2 c. cooked brown rice

Put the shredded cabbage in a colander and toss it with 2 tablespoons of salt. Let it sit in the sink or over a bowl until it wilts, at least 2 hours. Rinse the cabbage and pat it dry.

Combine the green onions, garlic, ginger, red chile flakes, sugar and soy sauce in a bow or large jar. Toss the spice mixture with the cabbage. Make the kimchi at least a few hours and up to several days before you want to serve it. It will get stronger as it sits.

When the kimchi is ready, put a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Swirl in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and add the beef. Cook about 2 to 3 minutes until it is seared but still pink inside, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the beef from the skillet and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Swirl it around and add the rice, breaking up any clumps and stirring it into the oil. When the rice is added, cook, stirring frequently, until rice is crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Return beef to pan and add kimchi. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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While we are back to hot and humid weather this week, it’s been kind of a weird summer in Louisville weather-wise. We’ve had a lot of rain and cooler-than-usual temperatures. The sous chef and I have been trying to take advantage of our back deck as much as possible by eating outdoors. What could be better than eating outdoors than eating outdoors with good friends who just moved into the neighborhood?

Chris and I had the good fortune to welcome two good friends into the neighborhood over July 4th weekend. We just bought a house last August and it is difficult to keep yourself well-fed while moving your life from one side of town to another. We invited our friends over for dinner on their moving day to make things a little easier on them and welcome them to the neighborhood.

After much deliberation and a trip to the Beechmont Open Air Market, I decided to use some CSA zucchini in this pasta dish. I also made quick, refrigerator pickles, garlic bread, chopped salad, and raspberry-peach crumbles. The pasta was really good and came together pretty quickly. It was not overly heavy – good for a summer evening, but filling, fresh-tasting, and seasonal. he evening was pleasantly warm, the food was great, and the company was even better. Justin and Mal – we couldn’t be happier to have you nearby (and not just just to help us with home repair issues, Justin).

“Baked Shells with Zucchini, Gouda, and Herbs” from from Faith Durand’s Not Your Mother’s Casseroles

Serves 6

  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 lb. small or medium pasta shells
  • 2/3 c. pine nuts
  • 1 c. plain yogurt ( I used whole milk)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • black pepper
  • 1 1/3 c. grated Gouda cheese
  • small handful of flat-leaf parsley (about 1/4 c.), minced
  • 2 large springs fresh mint (leaves only), minced
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a 9X 13 in. baking dish with olive oil.
  2. Place the grated zucchini in a bowl and stir in the salt. Set aside.
  3. Fill a large pot halfway with water. Salt generously (maybe 1/4 c.) and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for about 2 minutes less than recommended by the package directions. Drain, return to the cooking pot, and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add pine nuts. Cook carefully for  2 to 4 minutes, shaking the pan to keep them from burning. Cook until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Stir the yogurt and beaten egg together in a small bowl and season well with black pepper. Drain off as much water as possible from grated zucchini and blot dry with a paper towel.
  6. When pasta has cooled slightly, stir in zucchini, pine nuts, yogurt mixture, and about 1 c. of the grated Gouda cheese. Stir in parsley and mint. Spread in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cheese on top has melted and pasta is lightly golden. Serve.

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chicken n quinoa 2

In my last post I promised to provide the quinoa recipe that accompanied the skillet chicken in that same week. Well – one week turned into three. In reality, the last month was pretty crazy. I spent a total of nine and a half days in the office in June. Between May and June, I flew to Charlotte, NC; Des Moines, IA; Chicago; San Diego; and Vancouver. There was also a lovely wedding in Chapel Hill, a milestone birthday party for my sous-chef-for-life, a surprise visit from his parents, and a case of bronchitis. I’m glad things have calmed down a bit.

Here’s a great quinoa recipe that makes a tasty side dish to the chicken I posted last time, or a light meal on its own.

Quinoa with Black Pepper, Brown Butter, and Swiss ChardAdapted slightly from “Quniona with Black Pepper, Brown Butter, and Arugula” from Cook This Now, by Melissa Clark

Serves 2-4

  • 1 c. quinoa
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves,  minced
  • about 4 oz. swiss chard (4 c.), or another green, like arugula or spinach
  • 3/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add quinoa. Cook about 10 to 12 minutes until tender. Drain well.

2. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook until the butter begins to turn brown, about 2 minutes. At this point it will burn quickly so keep an eye on it. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add swiss chard (or other green), 1/4 t. salt, and pepper. Cook, tossing until greens are wilted. Stir in quinoa and remaining salt. Serve

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I’ve been eating a lot of salad lately. Inspired both by this post about eating interesting salads every day for lunch, and a general desire to make sure I’m eating plenty of vegetables (and not letting our CSA vegetables go to waste). In the last few months, I’ve been roasting our CSA veggies, particularly squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and turnips, then layering them in a salad with a little dressing, cheese, and whatever greens I have around. Sometimes I’ll roast the vegetables in barbecue sauce and then pair it with cilantro, cheddar cheese, and a creamy dressing. Other times I’ll roast the veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper and mix with feta, and a drizzle of lemon and olive oil. Either way I end up with a versatile lunch that is filling yet light enough so I don’t feel sleepy afterward. There’s also limitless possibilities for lunch.

I’ve also been trying to have more interesting side salads at dinner besides a bag of lettuce and a bottle of dressing. Chris and I had a friend over for dinner last weekend. I prepared a rather involved CSA-supplied dinner of glazed lamb ribs with a yogurt mint sauce. I planned to serve salad with just balsamic vinaigrette when I remembered a recipe from my current favorite cookbook, Cook this Now by Melissa Clark. I cracked open the book and miraculously, had all of the ingredients – the salad was done in minutes.

The recipe calls for a dressing made of lemon juice, clementine juice, salt, pepper and brown butter. You can substitute olive oil – which I did that night. You then toss some greens, chopped mint, segmented clementines, and toasted almonds together with the dressing and the result is a light, juicy, very flavorful, entirely addictive salad. After I made it for our guest, I proceeded to make it three nights in a row, and continue to crave it.

Melissa Clark divided her cookbook by months and this salad falls in March – and clementines are readily available now – so make this while you can. Also – I’ve made this without the mint and it was still great. And while I preferred the brown butter version of the dressing, Chris preferred the olive oil version.

I followed Melissa Clark’s recipe closely – only using a little less of the olive oil and butter – I used 2 tablespoons instead of 3. I hope you make this soon and enjoy it as much as we have – with butter or olive oil.

“Butter Lettuce and Clementine Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette” from Cook this Now by Melissa Clark

for the vinaigrette:

2 (or 3) T. unsalted butter or olive oil

finely grated zest of one clementine

juice of one clementine, or about 1 1/2 T.

1 T. lemon juice

1/4 t. kosher salt

fresh ground black pepper to taste

for the salad:

1 head butter leaf lettuce (or other lettuce – I used a mix of spinach and spring greens) – torn into bite-size pieces

2 clementines, peeled, segmented, and segments cut in half cross-wise (just realized I forgot to cut the segments in half – still turned out well)

2 T. toasted almonds

2 T. chopped fresh mint

First make the dressing. If using the butter – melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook gently for about 5 minutes, or until it turns brown. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn. Immediately pour into a bowl and let cool a bit while you prep the rest of the salad. When the butter has cooled a few minutes, whisk in the clementine and lemon juice, salt and pepper.

In a large bowl combine the lettuce, clementines, almonds and mint. Toss well with the dressing.

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turnip casserole

After a tumultuous November, I’m trying to settle back into a somewhat normal work and life routine. This means catching up on my growing stack of papers at work, and the growing supply of hearty CSA vegetables at home. I say “hearty” because these are the vegetables I chose not to cook during particularly busy weeks, opting to first cook the more perishable veggies, like kale and mustard greens.

Because of this logic, I now have four large winter squash sitting on my counter, and I had a produce drawer full of turnips, some shriveled, some still cookable.

I set out to use the turnips, because they were shriveling faster than the almost forever-lasting squash. I think I’ve talked before about how I can fall into cooking and cookbook ruts. Last Christmas, my cohabitant’s mother gave me a wonderful gift basket full of goods from New Orleans and Louisiana, including spices, beignet mix, and Tabasco. The overflowing basket also included the cookbook Crescent City Famers Market Cookbook, by Poppy Tooker. It’s full of Cajun and Creole-inspired recipes with a fresh, seasonal spin. I’ve looked through it before, but kept turning to my “usual” cookbooks for meals. I had yet to make anything from it until this week, and I’m sorry I waited so long.

Before the CSA, I rarely purchased and cooked turnips. I think I once made a roast chicken with roasted turnips, potatoes, and rutabaga. I also braised them with other root vegetables once. I was looking for a way to use up all my turnips in a substantial, main-dinner-dish kind of way. Then I found this recipe from the above-mentioned cookbook. It combined cooked turnips with a flavorful, cheesy white sauce, and topped with breadcrumbs. It sounded great.

And it was. Warm, filling, and healthful. I used low-fat milk and a moderate amount of cheese. This is a great meatless main-dish recipe to make if you are drowning in turnips, or want a new way to try them.

turnips casserole, from Crescent City Famers Market Cookbook, by Poppy Tooker

Serves about 6 as a light main dish

1 1/2 lbs. turnips, peeled and thinly sliced

2 T. butter

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/3 c. chopped celery (about 1 stalk)

3 T. flour

1 1/4 c. milk

1/2 c. grated sharp cheddar

1/4 c. grated Asiago

salt and pepper

3 T. fresh bread crumbs

creole seasoning, like Tony Chachere’s

First, cook your turnips. Place them in  a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender – mine took about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

If you haven’t grated the cheese, do that while the turnips are cooking. You can chop up the other vegetables during this time too if you haven’t yet done that.

Preheat the oven to 400. In the same pot you used to cook the turnips, heat the butter. Add the onion, green pepper, and celery. Saute until tender. Sprinkle with flour and stir to blend. Cook for about 2 minutes.

While stirring, add the milk. Cook and continue to stir until the mixture thickens. Stir in cheese and some salt and pepper. Continue to cook and stir until smooth.

Add the drained turnips to the cheese sauce in the pot and stir to combine. Then put mixture into a greased baking dish and top with bread crumbs and some shakes/sprinkles of creole seasoning. Cook until browned and bubble – about 15 minutes.

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firecracker red beans

So much for  reporting all my cooking adventures with the weekly CSA bounty. Time has clearly gotten away from me – which is my excuse for neglecting my blog. I haven’t stopped cooking – but I have stopped regularly taking pictures every step of the way.

In the last few weeks, we entertained Chris’s parents, I visited dear friends for a lovely wedding in Massachusetts, stopped drinking coffee, became hooked on the Hunger Games, etc., etc. I’ve also been cooking.

One of the things in my backlog of recipes may sound strange. The list of ingedients certainly looks all-over-the-place. Onion, ginger and garlic – great, standard. Thyme and fennel… still ok, but with ginger? Mustard and ketchup? Vermouth? Almond butter and brown sugar? It’s like the recipe doesn’t exactly know what flavor profile it’s going for.

However, the author is Mollie Katzen. And I had just about everything in my pantry/ refrigerator. It was a recipe for cheap meal that didn’t require any produce – which was actually a good thing because I’ve been using everything up quickly – that promised to reheat well. And I trust Ms. Katzen… and I’m so happy I did.

The final dish doesn’t look very pretty (Chris said it looked like something partiuclarly unappetizing) but the strange mix of ingredients all meld to create an enticing dish that I found myself craving throughout the week. It was delicious. Sweet, spicy, creamy and nutty… It would be a great think to make with the promise of fall in the air, if you are a little brave.

Also – the recipe list may look long – but a lot of the things are pretty standard spices.

If you don’t trust me, just trust Mollie Katzen.

“Firecracker Red Beans” from Vegetable Heaven, by Mollie Katzen

2 T. olive oile

3 c. minced onion

2 T. minced fresh ginger

2 t. fennel seeds

2 T. minced garlic

1/2 t. allspice

1 t. dried thyme

1 1/2 to 2 t. salt

1 c. dry sherry or vermouth

2 T. prepared mustard (this means the yellow kind)

1/4 c. ketchup

1 t. minced chipotle chiles

1 c. water

1/4 c. almond butter

2 T. brown sugar

1/2 boiling water

About 6 cups cooked small red beans or kidney beans (if using dried, be sure to cook them ahead of time, or use 4 15-oz cans of beans, rinsed well and drained)

wedges of lime

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or a Dutch oven. When it is hot, add the onion, ginger and fennel seeds, and saute over strong heat for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, and add the garlic, allspice, thyme and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat.

Stir in the sherry or vermouth, mustard, ketchup, minced chipotle and 2 cups water. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

Place the almond butter and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add the 2/3 cup boiling water, and mash with a spoon until the mixture becomes uniform. Stir this mixture into the sauce, and cook uncovered over low heat for about 5 minutes.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the beans in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish (or an equivalent casserole) and pour in all the sauce. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, still tightly covered, so the beans can continue to absorb the liquid. Serve hot or warm, with rice.

Makes 6 servings

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blueberry buckle

If you are looking for the perfect coffee cake to serve to  company for breakfast, look no further. This is it.

As I’ve chronicled before, I love egg-y, savory breakfasts, but my frequent dining companion/roommate/cheese-grater extraordinaire/ beloved doesn’t do eggs. Sometimes coffee cake or pastry-filled breakfasts don’t seem filling enough to me. This hearty, yet-light and fluffy, and utterly flavorful and tasty coffee is filling and goes great with plain or vanilla yogurt. You can make it the night before (important in my mind, if you are serving guests for breakfast), and contains whole grain flours. Plus, it has lots of blueberries. It is fantastic. Oh! It reheats well too and keeps for a couple of days in the refrigerator.

So you really don’t have any reason not to try it.

It will probably come as no surprise that this recipe is from Kim Boyce’s lovely book, Good to the Grain. My mom once told me that you only need to find one great recipe from a cookbook to make it a keeper. This buckle, in addition to soft rye pretzels, ginger peach muffins, and two things I still need to blog – whole wheat chocolate chip cookies and double chocolate cookies… this book is well worth purchasing.

A note on the flours: The original recipe calls for whole-grain pastry flour. I used regular whole wheat flour with no ill-effects. You can find the spelt flour in the health or natural foods section of most grocery stores, or for my local Louisville readers, you can find the spelt flour at Nuts n Stuff,

I hope you enjoy this coffee cake as much my family and friends (and I!) have recently.

“(Blueberry) Huckle Buckle” from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce

Streusel Topping

1/2 c. whole-wheat flour

1/2 c. spelt flour

3 T. sugar

1 T. dark brown sugar

1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1/4 t. kosher salt

3 T. cold unsalted butter

1 egg

Dry Mix

1 1/4 c. spelt flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

1/2 c. dark brown sugar

1/2 c. sugar

1 T. baking powder

1 t. cinnamon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Wet Mix

3/4 c. whole milk

1/2 c. plain yogurt

4 egg yolks

2 t. vanilla extract

2 c. or so blueberries

Preheat your oven to 350 and butter a 2 1/2 qt. baking dish.

For the streusel topping: mix flours, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt into a large bowl and stir with a whisk. Cut the 3 tablespoons of cold butter in 1/4” chunks and add them to the mix. Press and rub the mix with your hands breaking the butter in to small bits. Continue until the mix is like cornmeal. Do this quickly.

Whisk the egg and use a spatula to scrape it into the streusel mix. Use your hands to mix the egg in. Squeeze handfuls of dough together. The topping should hazelnut-sized clumps with smaller crumbs mixed in. Set aside.

For the Batter

Mix all the dry mix ingredients into a large bowl and whisk. Add the softened butter and using a hand or a stand mixer, blend on medium speed until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, egg yolks and vanilla until well blended.

Pour the milk mixture in with the dry ingredients and blend on low speed until the batter is smooth and creamy.

Pour half of the batter in to your buttered baking dish. Pour a layer of berries onto the batter. Scrape the rest of the batter onto the berries and spread evenly. Sprinkle the rest of the berries on top of the batter and top with the streusel mix. At this point, you can cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes. If the dish was refrigerated overnight, it might take up to 80 minutes to bake. Test with a skewer and make sure it comes out clean.

Let the Buckle cool in the pan before serving.

Enjoy!

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