Archive | 7:37 pm

Cookbook of the Week #2:

11 Nov

Hey readers! Who is finalizing their selections for my second contest? Kate mentioned making falafel, one of my favorites. I’m chomping at the bit to make my gnocchi.
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My taller half is incredibly supportive. I mean this in pretty much every facet of our life together, but I have to give him special credit for his willingness to accommodate my mostly vegan dietary habits. It helps that he was mostly vegetarian long before we met, and as soon as we began dating, he eliminated fish from his diet. He is really the one who taught me about food and cooking. I could do some basic things before, but he is the reason I know the difference between chopping and dicing and mincing. He’s also the one who showed me how easy it is to make some things from scratch, such as salad dressings, and that chemicals really aren’t food.

Our eating habits have made long strides over the past four-and-a-half years, and a few contributions have come from me. I told him about animal rennet and sneaky ol’ gelatin, to name two. But mostly, either he has taught me or we have learned together. When I decided to move away from dairy, he was fully supportive, especially when he saw how improved my energy and migraines were. (Don’t let yesterday’s post convince you otherwise; my twice-weekly pain now hits me less than half as often, and my BFF Treximet keeps the pain from overtaking me, as long as I recognize my signals early enough.) The problem is that we were having trouble thinking of creative, tasty, quick dishes to make together. Enter our new purchase, Robin Robertson’s 1,000 Vegan Recipes. (Wouldn’t it be cool if my name was Brigid Brigerson?)

I chose the book as our Cookbook of the Week because we are diving head first into it. My taller half purchased it on Sunday, and by the end of the week, we will have made at least four recipes from it. Not too shabby, eh?

So far, my favorite feature is the inclusion of an “F” symbol, which indicates fast ideas. The book is also broken down into very easy-to-navigate sections, including salads, pastas, sandwiches, desserts, beverages, and breakfast foods. And did I mention there are 1,000 recipes? I mean, Veganomicon is considered a tome; what would we call this monster?

Expect to see some recipes from the book tomorrow. All I will say so far is that we weren’t disappointed.

Riso all’autunno

11 Nov

The other day, I thought about making pasta alla primavera for lunches this week. Then I thought I should use brown rice instead because it’s healthier. Then I remembered that it’s fall, not spring, so maybe I should venture in a more seasonable direction. I checked the calendar of seasonal produce I keep on the fridge and set about throwing together a concept. I’m really happy with how it came out.

And so, I present to you…

Riso all’autunno (or Autumn Rice in ‘Merican)

(based upon the Joy of Cooking recipe I posted about here)

1 small winter squash (I used acorn)
3 medium beets, greens removed
½ pound Brussels sprouts, chopped
½ cup red lentils
3 cloves plus 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped (mine were maitakes from Mushroom Planet, but your favorite variety will work)
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup long-grain brown rice
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Pierce the skin of the winter squash six times with a knife or fork. I call this stabbing because it’s way more fun. Wrap the three beets in aluminum foil. Woo hoo, can you feel my heart beet?

Place the squash and beets on an edged baking sheet and stick them in the over for about 15 minutes. You want them slightly cooked but not done.

Remove them and turn off the oven. Meanwhile, grease, spray, or line a 9”x13” baking dish. When the squash is cool enough to handle, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds:

Now chop up just the flesh and toss it in the baking dish. Chop up those beets, while you’re at it, and throw them in, too. Be prepared, however, ‘cause these things bleed:

I promise you won’t stay magenta forever, though. Clean the Brussels sprouts and cut them to the size you like. I bought small-ish ones and chopped them in quarters because I didn’t want huge chunks. Rinse the lentils and pick over them, if necessary. Now toss the veggies and the legumes in with the squash and beets. Top with three cloves of minced garlic:

At this time, preheat the oven to 350° F. Heat a large sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat, and drizzle in the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms, remaining two cloves of garlic, and the shallot. Sauté, stirring often, until the mushrooms are softened but the garlic isn’t burned, about five minutes.

Now add the rice and stir until it’s coated. Quickly add the vegetable broth. If all four cups of broth won’t fit, just add two for now and pour the other two into the baking dish.

Let the broth reach a boil, then pour the mixture into the baking dish. Stir everything around so it’s more or less evenly distributed.

Yours will be brothier. I didn’t use enough at the out-set. Stick it in the oven to bake for 50 minutes to an hour. At this point, stir it around and see if the rice is softened. If it isn’t and there’s no more broth, add a little more (about ½ a cup at a time) and put back in the oven for 15 minutes. It’s done when the rice is cooked and the beets and soft enough to eat.

Serves six (or just me six times).

I’m super-duper happy with how this turned out. Let me first say, however, that this is not a quick-and-easy meal. There is precooking and quite a bit of chopping, things I don’t normally do. However, the end result is very rich, hearty, and earthy*, and I think the deliciousness is worth the extra work. I top my servings with some black pepper, but otherwise the veggies speak very well for themselves. I love how bright and autumnal-colored the beets turn the dish. The squash and sprouts add a nice variation in taste and texture. I slightly overcooked my acorn squash, but I don’t really mind the mushiness. The mushrooms aren’t very obtrusive. I only used about 1 ½ cups, so I recommended two in the recipe because I love ‘em. Also, my rice came out somewhat al dente, which I like, but if you don’t, you could boil the rice a little on its own before adding it. The lentils are barely noticeable, but they do ramp up the nutrition of the dish.

I enjoyed a serving of my Riso all’autunno with a lovely salad today. I will post that recipe tomorrow.

*When I say “earthy,” I do, indeed, mean it tastes like dirt, in a good way. Beets, as a matter of fact, taste like dirt. Ain’t no shame in it, but I want to make it clear that I know that. If you don’t tend to like roasted beets, then you won’t like them here since the flavor is pretty pronounced. Sub in something else.

If you make the dish, I’d love to hear about it! This is the first baked rice dish I’ve ever created, and I have to admit I greatly enjoyed it. Oh, and expect to see the keptlovinglyforlaters a few more times; four servings still remain.

Side-lined

11 Nov

This is where you were supposed to read a recipe I invented. However, I’ve been side-lined by an evil witch of a migraine, so instead, I’m sharing this picture of a chicken standing on top of a pig:

Look for two (or three!) recipes tomorrow as I try to make amends.

Book club grub

11 Nov

As I mentioned last night, I made vegan cornbread to go with the promised vegan chili at book club. I am very happy to report that our lovely hostess made good on her word and presented a room full of meat eaters and crazy little me with a pot of meat-and-dairy-free chili:

Awesome job, lady! She used some kind of soy-based crumbles and even hunted down vegetarian Worcestershire sauce. It was tasty and had a lovely zing.

In fact, all the eats were vegetarian, and several were vegan. I was perfectly contented with my chili, cornbread, and three pieces of summer squash spread with hummus (pictured above). There was also cheese and crackers, a pineapple/cheese dip with pita chips, cookies, and probably other things I am now forgetting.

I appreciate so, so much everyone’s willingness to accommodate me, a newbie to the group. I try very hard not to make a big deal of my eating habits, and I always tell any group that I can bring my own food if necessary. However, that has never been expected by the book-club gals, and I’m pretty overwhelmed by the supportive, considerate responses I’ve received from them.

Anyway, I know this post isn’t laden with great meal ideas or recipes or the like, but I knew my Vegan MoFo readers would appreciate how the book club’s courtesy made me feel. I hope the rest of you are surrounded with supported friends, too.