Monday, November 30, 2009

Eggplant Roulades with Mushroom, Spinach and Rutabaga Risotto over Lentils

This was dinner on Sunday night, and you can't see it this photo, but the eggplant rolls are sitting on a bed of Puy lentils...the rice sort of covered them up.

Puy lentils are my favorite kind of lentil, they may take slightly longer to cook than green lentils, but they hold their shape and cook up so nicely into stew, and they are very tasty and satisfying.

For the lentils, I didn't write down exactly what I did at the time...but suffice it to say that I sauteed some celery, onion, garlic with a bay leaf and some oregano in some olive oil. Then, I tossed in some tomato paste, and let it brown a bit. When all this had cooked up into a nice base, I added the lentils, several cups of water & veggie stock, parsley, salt and pepper and let it simmer until cooked...a splash of red wine near the end adds a nice dimension. Here's a similar rendition I posted a while back.

You can see the lentils in this shot:

For the rice, I made it risotto-style, rather than a pure risotto. I didn't have any arborio rice, so I used paella rice instead. (I called it risotto in the title because it just sounds so fancy and yummy.) I'm convinced most short grain rice would work. Ideally, I would have used short grain brown rice, but was out of that as well. Again, no real recipe, but that's ok, this is really more of a guide or idea.

I wanted a really savory, earthy flavor from the rice, so I began by sauteing 1 medium rutabaga that was chopped into 1/2-inch chunks, then added 1 finely chopped onion, and 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic. When the rutabaga, onion, and garlic were all getting tender, I tossed in about 2 cups of medium-chopped crimini mushrooms and let it all saute for another minute. Then, I tossed in a generous cup of dry paella rice, stirred it through the mixture, and added 1 cup of dry white wine and 1 cup of water and let it come to a simmer.

As the rice cooked down, I added warm mushroom stock in 1/2 cup increments. I didn't stir it constantly, but rather added liquid, stirred, let it cook down, then added more liquid, stirred, and let it cook down, etc., until the rice was al dente...paella rice works nicely this way at any rate. Towards the end, I added 2 generous handfuls of julienned raw spinach. The whole rice process took about 30 minutes.

While the rice and lentils cooked, I oven-roasted some thinly sliced eggplant. To put it together, I rolled some rice into each eggplant slice, set them on a bed of lentils and more rice and sprinkled with more fresh spinach.

All in all, it was a hearty dinner with a satisfying panorama of autumn flavors and toothy textures. To finish it off, a lovely balsamic reduction would have been lovely, but somehow, that part didn't happen in this instance. It was delicious nonetheless.

And on a completely different note, meet Francine. Here she is playing in a tomato plant that is still lingering on my sun porch. To me, she looks like she's saying in her best New York accent:  "Hey, what's the big idea?":

Francine is the cat we're fostering from our local animal shelter. She's recovering from an upper respiratory infection and staying with us until she's infection-free. She's pretty you can see her playfulness and energy are in good form.

Francine is energetic, fun, mischievous, and such a snuggle-bunny. After playing in the tomato tree, she then proceeded to nap in a pot. I wanted to get a shot of her napping, but of course she had to wake up when I came up to snap the photo:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cashew Crusted Butternut, Cannellini Bean, and Leek Stacks

These stacks were our vegan main dish for Thanksgiving dinner. They take a bit of prep, but once that's done, they're easy to put together and bake off in about 20 -25 minutes.

Open-ended baking molds work well for individual-size portions, or you can use spring-form pans to make larger stacks.

The bottom layer is a herbed cashew crust, followed by a layer of butternut squash...any sturdy winter squash should work...then a layer of cannellini beans and porcini mushrooms, topped with thick rounds of  leek.

Squash Layer

Note: I was a little disappointed with the squash layer; I found it a bit bland. Next time, I think I'd make a squash mash instead and incorporate more flavors into it, but this is how I did it this time, so I'll post it as such.

Slow roast the squash in a preheated 325 F oven:

Peel and slice a large butternut squash lengthwise into 1-inch slices. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme, drizzle with olive oil and allow to roast slowly until just tender--about 40 minutes in a 325 oven.

When the squash is tender, remove from oven and allow to cool. If you're using individual-sized molds, use them to cut out mold-size peices of squash after it has cooled. If you run out of full-sized peices for the cut outs, just slice and dice as needed.

While the squash is roasting, you'll have time to prep the rest of the ingredients.

Cashew Crust
(Makes enough to fill the bottom of two 8-inch spring-form pans)

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups fresh, sprouted grain bread, made into coarse crumbs
( I blitzed about 3 slices of fresh Genesis Bread  in the food processor)
1 cup raw cashews, chopped medium
fresh chives ~ 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped (to taste)
fresh parsley ~ 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste.

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil and Earth balance until tender. In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients with the sauted garlic/onion mixture until well incorporated. It should look something like this:

Bean Layer

Note: I didn't measure the amounts when I put the bean layer together, so this is just an estimation of what I remember doing. I recommend using this as a guide and subbing any flavors or proportions  according to tastes.

3 cups cooked cannellini beans
1.5 cups porcini mushrooms, chopped medium (I used  reconstitued dried ones)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 stalk celery, finely chopped (~ 1/2 cup chopped)
splash of sherry vinegar,  ~ 1-2 tablespoons (depending on how much acid you like)
fresh thyme to taste
fresh oregano to taste
any other herb of preference  to taste
salt and pepper to taste

If you're using dried mushrooms, reconstitute them in some warm water or warm white wine. Saute the celery, shallot and garlic in the olive oil until tender, toss in the mushrooms and saute for another 2-3 minutes. (If you use reconstitued mushrooms, be sure that the mushrooms are well drained and aren't harboring too much liquid. ) Add the beans and the rest of the ingredients and saute for another minute or so, stirring well to mix in all flavors. Remove from heat and set aside. It would be a good idea to taste the bean mixture at this point  and adjust flavorings as necessary.

pictured above: reconstituted porcini mushrooms

Leek Layer
2 large, fat leeks, sliced into 1-inch rounds
olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 cup veggie broth
1/4 cup dry sherry

Drizzle some olive oil in a large pan, and heat to medium-high, lay leek flat in the pan and allow to sear off for about a minute. Keeping heat on med-high add 1/4 cup of the veggie broth, and allow to simmer vigorously for 10-15 minutes, until the leek is just tender, adding more broth as necessary. After 10-15 minutes, you want all the cooking liquid to be evaporated, so don't add too much broth. When leeks are just tender, but still holding shape, and all the broth is evaporated, deglaze the pan with the sherry. Remove from heat and set aside.


Line a baking tray (if using molds) or spring-form pans with parchment paper. Set the molds on the baking tray and spoon in the cashew crust patting it in gently to make a 1/2 - 3/4 inch crust. Stack the squash layer on top of the crust, followed by the beans, then the leeks.

When the molds/pans are filled, bake in a 375 F oven for 25-30 minutes. You want the crust to bake off and get nice and crunchy. After removing from the oven, allow to set for a few minutes before serving.

The molds were easy to handle; I was able to pick them off the parchment in one peice and put them on the plate before removing the molds.

Individual molds assembled, before baking:

Spring form pan assembled, before baking:

Out of the oven:

Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanks for Dinner

Just a long post about our meal the other night (Thanksgiving). We went to my mom's place and while she did the starters and all the side dishes, I brought the dessert and the main course.

Here's what we had:


For an appetizer, mom made this fabulous crostini with roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers and capers, splashed with a bit of salt and pepper and drizzled with olive oil...Pure Magic.

She served it with a tray of pickled peppers and olives. She made these pickled peppers from some of the miniature ones I grew in my garden this year:

These were served in the living room, and we tarried over them for quite some time, chatting and drinking wine.


I did the main course, which was a squash and bean stack with leeks and a cashew crumble crust. It was tasty, but I still have to tweak the flavors; I was a little disappointed in the squash layer being slightly bland. I'll do a separate post on how I put this together.

It did look nice though and went nicely with traditional sides, which brings me to the side dishes and overall effect:


The star of the side dishes was my mom's sweet and sour red cabbage...I could eat this stuff every day and never tire of it.

I decided to be merciful and not post individual pictures of all the sides, so here they all are: a golden beetroot and baby spinach salad with red onion, roast sweet potato (no sugary stuff), cranberry orange sauce, mashed potato, and a bread stuffing with walnuts and cranberries.

Here's the table laid out...what a spread!

Here's what it looked like moments before being devoured:

Afters are posted about here--we had vegan pie.

After all that, we looked through some old photo albums. Check out the glamor, here's my mom circa 1945:

And here are my mom and dad on their wedding day in 1945:

Taking a break from the glamor for a moment, here's a pic of my gooney brothers sometime back in the early 70's:

Finally, my maternal grandmother, circa 1912. She was a seamstress and sowed the clothes she's wearing in the photo, which has always "wowed" me.

We do have a lot to be thankful for, indeed.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pie Post_ Pumpkin and Walnut Raisin Pies

Just wanted to post a Thanksgiving update, starting with desserts. I brought the pie to our celebration: vegan pumpkin pie, and vegan apple walnut pie. I decided to do 4-inch tarts rather full size pies, because small desserts are just cuter than big ones.

I made simple short crust pastry: 1:1 flour to shortening with a pinch of salt. I used 1.5 cups flour to 3/4 cup Earth Balance, with ~ .5 teaspoon salt...(I'm not sure exactly how much, as I just eye-balled it.) I think the key to good pastry is ensuring that the fat is very cold and remains so throughout the mixing process.

I found recipes online for vegan pumpkin pie with tofu, but that didn't appeal to me, so here's what I used instead:

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Filling
2 cups organic pumpkin puree
1 cup rice milk
1/3 cup turbinado sugar (this is nice, because it retains some of the molasses flavor)
1/4 cup corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each: nutmeg, allspice, and ginger

Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl until well incorporated and smooth. Fill the pastry with the filling and bake in a 425 degree (F) oven for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 and continue baking until the filling is set, approximately 30-40 minutes.

The filling came out smooth, pumpkiny, and nicely husband liked it and he usually doesn't eat anything with cinnamon in the flavors were subtle, but well balanced.

As good as the pumpkin pie was, I have to say, that the walnut raisin was my favorite. For this one, I used Bryanna Clark-Grogan's New and Improved Reliabe Vegan Pecan Pie recipe, but used walnuts and raisins instead of pecans. In the recipe, she gives a couple variations for the sweetener; I went with maple syrup option and it came out lovely and mapley. If anyone makes this pie, I definitely recommend going with the maple syrup option.

And one last note that I have to preface with saying: my mom was a stay-at-home mom, excellent cook, and everything we grew up eating was made from a spray can of whipping cream would have never come within miles of our house....

But all that aside, my mom (whose not vegan, but was totally cool about eating a 100% vegan Thanksgiving dinner) found a can of vegan rice whip at WholeFoods and bought it to go with the vegan pie. I normally wouldn't buy anything like this, nor would she, but given the circumstances, I had to commend her efforts.

We used this stuff on the pie, and it really wasn't bad, but I was a little scared to read the ingredient list. It's basically rice milk and rice syrup packed in nitrous oxide. It's made in Germany.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Meet Rhonda

"Let there be music, let there be light, but please don't make a turkey your holiday delight!"

(I live at the New York Shelter)

Thanksgiving in the US is nearly upon us, and as every year, I'm growing weary of hearing people talk about "Turkey Day," saying things like "Gobble, Gobble," and just generally going on about their unenlightened food customs. I realize omnis eat meat all year round, but rarely are they so vocal and annoying as this time of year.

Rhonda is the turkey I sponsored this year through Farm Sanctuary's Adopt-a-Turkey Project.

Here's to a Happy ThanksLiving!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Isfahani Green Bean and Tomato Braise

Well almost...I used broccoli and aubergine instead because I didn't have any green beans.

Dinner last night included this recipe from Silk Road Cooking, A Vegetarian Journey by Najmieh Batmanglij--the newest addition to my cookbook collection. It's a gorgeous book focused on traditional cuisines found along the historic silk-trading route or "Silk Road," running from Genoa, Italy all the way to Shanghai, China dipping into a multitude of destinations in between. It has beautiful and captivating photos of people and places you might find along the way, as well as a cultural and historical narration.

I don't want to promote Amazon--I rarely buy books from them as I prefer to support my local, independently-owned bookseller (which is where I bought this book)--but if you click on the book title link above you can search inside the book and get an idea what I'm talking about.

I haven't had time to fully peruse this book, much less read it yet, but I still highly recommend it. It is vegetarian--not entirely vegan, but that scarcely matters as vegans are masters of creativity and adaptation, and can easily find a work-around for any non-vegan ingredients.

The recipe is in a section of the book entitled Fruit and Vegetable Braises, which includes other intriguing recipes such as Gilani Jujube, Walnut, and Pomegranate Braise and Persian Eggplant Braise with Unripe Grapes. As you can tell, the book is full of alluring recipes with striking ingredients to satisfy a sense of adventure in the kitchen

The braise was simple, but delicious... I did overcook the broccoli a bit (note to self for next time). According to the book, this dish is popular in Iran and the South of India

I served it with a tabouleh-style salad made with red quinoa (instead of bulghur), spinach, parsely, tomato and red onion; some manzanilla olives; humus; and spinach naan. It was pretty tasty if I do say so myself.

I'm really looking forward to delving further into this cookbook.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Roasted Fennel Soup with Walnuts

I was disappointed by the color of this soup; it turned out a little murky. I think the culprit was the homemade veggie broth I used, which was dark in color. The roasted fennel brings out some sweetness, and adds a light fennel flavor accented by the walnuts and walnut oil.

1 large fennel bulb, ~ 1.5 lbs worth
1 large leek, chopped, ~ 1.5 cups
1 stalk celery, chopped, ~ 1/2 cup
3 garlic cloves
two medium potatoes, chopped ~ 1.5 cups
4 cups veggie broth or water
1 tbsp olive oil or Earth Balance
pinch of red pepper flakes
walnut oil for drizzling
lightly toasted chopped walnuts
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1 cup non-dairy milk or Mimic Cream (Mimic Cream is just a combination of almond and cashew cream...use homemade if you have time)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, cut the fennel into quarters, drizzle with walnut oil and bake in oven until tender.

Meanwhile, saute the leek, celery, garlic, and pinch of chili flake in 1 tbsp oil until beginning to tender. Toss in potatoes and veggie broth. Bring to simmer and let cook until potatoes are tender. Roughly chop the roasted fennel and add to soup. Puree in blender. Return to pot, stir in non-dairy milk if using, and salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, top with chopped walnuts, drizzle with walnut oil and garnish with fennel sprigs.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fall Garden Leaf Mulch

I was out raking leaves today, which are an excellent garden resource.

For composters, fallen leaves are a good source of carbon for the pile, and this is the time of year to stockpile.

You can use the leaves in compost now or save them and use them later next spring, when green compost materials are abundant, but carbon-based ones less so.

Leaves also make wonderful mulching material, adding lots of good organic matter to the soil. I like to pass them over with the mower once or twice. This chops them up a bit, so they break down faster.

I rake the chopped leaves and grass cutting directly into my side beds as a mulch for winter.

Another plus of leaf mulch is that it provides protection and food through the winter for spiders, red wigglers, and other beneficial insects.

One word of caution: if you have any perennials, be sure to keep the mulch an inch or two away from the stem; mulching too close could potentially cause rot there.

Another cool thing to do with leaves is a layer mulch. You basically cover your garden beds with little compost piles for the winter by layering carbon materials and green/nitrogen materials on top of the bed and covering it up with burlap sacks.

In spring, you take off the burlap and have ready-made compost to work into the soil. This type of mulching is a combination of mulching and composting, and is known as Interbay mulch. I did this last year, but this year I planted cover crops unfortunately, no pics of this method at this time.

Leaves really are a wonderful resource for any organic gardener; I'm collecting leaves in my old potato cage:

And last but not least: goodbye halloween pumpkins, back to the compost pile you originally came from.

Happy Pumpkins Love Compost!

Green Mango Salad with Miso-Mirin Dressing

My friend, Alicia, posted about a miso-mirin salad dressing a couple days ago. Her recipe was inspired by Oraphan at Easy Veggie blog. I used both these recipes to come up with a third variation of my own. Thanks for the inspiration guys.

We often order a green mango salad when we go to our favorite Thai restaurant. That salad is served in a tamarind dressing, but I thought it would be the perfect vehicle for trying this dressing...and it was.

The mango I used wasn't completely green, but rather not yet ripe. The unripe mango has a firmer texture, is more tart, and carries a slight crunch as compared to a ripe mango, and goes well in a savory salad.

Here's a link to Oraphan's dressing.

Here's a link to Alicia's dressing.

And, here's my version:

Miso-Mirin Dressing (makes about 1 cup)

3 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 generous tablespoon mellow miso
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon very finely minced shallot
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or more to taste)

Whisk all together until well-blended.

For the salad, I used white cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, and green mango topped with toasted cashews.

When combined, the salad has a tangy, crunchiness enhanced by the rich flavors of the dressing. It works as a salad or a condiment garnish.

Ciao for now.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stew with Cabbage Rolls

This is a recipe from Madhur Jaffery's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. I've had this book for several years, and am ashamed to say, I've never really used it. But, when Zoa from The Airy Way blog made this dish for VeganMofo, I was inspired to try it. You have to check out her beautiful rendition of the dish; she did it much more justice than I. And, while I'm at it, anyone who's interested in sushi simply has to check out this lady's talents in that department. She dedicated a whole weekend to sushi during Mofo: here's Post 1 and here's Post 2.

Back to the cookbook... this recipe is entitled 'Stew of Baked Wheat Gluten, Potato, Turnip, Carrot, and Cabbage Rolls', and it's billed as Japanese fare. It really is a simple, yet elegant and very tasty dish. I can't give out the recipe, obviously because it belongs to the book. But roughly, this is how it goes...

First, you make a delicious stock with bean sprouts, mushrooms, and other veggies:

Then you strain the stock and end up with a lovely broth, seasoned with Japanese Soy Sauce among other things:

Now you make some wheat gluten balls. I've been making seitan for years, but have never made these: they are surprising and fun. All you do is mix wheat gluten with water, form little balls and bake them for about 15 minutes. They puff up like little pastries:

After you take them out of the oven, they deflate and end up looking like this:

They make an interesting and tasty addition to the stew.

You put the stew together by cooking the rutabaga, potato, carrots, cabbage rolls, and wheat gluten in the broth. I added some shitake mushroom and scallions as well. The recipe indicates that it should be arranged very prettily in the pot for cooking, with the carrots and cabbage rolls grouped together and off to one side. But, honestly, that was too "fiddley" for me, so I just arranged it nicely in the bowl:

The cabbage rolls look neat and they really aren't difficult. You just steam some cabbage and use the leaves as wrappers for the spinach.

Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...