RSS Feed

Tag Archives: vegetarian

TWO EARLY-WINTER SALADS

TWO EARLY-WINTER SALADS

We had our Thanksgiving dinner on the Saturday after T-Day. I was waiting for our guest to arrive and looking over the food… something just wasn’t right. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, rolls, pie… Hmmm. All soft cooked foods. We need something cold, raw, sharp.

It just so happened that a friend gave us with a bag of Fuyu persimmons.  He said he couldn’t get enough of them and they were $1 a pound near Sacramento, so brought them as a gift in exchange for sleeping on our sofa. I  like persimmons but… well, it’s more like I don’t dislike them, but there are fruits I like better. I like the idea of them more than I like to eat them.  Still, there they sat in their roundness, waiting for a purpose in life.

(In case you’re a persimmon neophyte. here is an explanation about the differences in persimmons – many varieties but two main types, and it is important to know which you are dealing with.)

I looked in the fridge and saw fresh celery. Maybe a persimmon Waldorf? Would that work? It did.

DSCN4199

PERSIMMON WALDORF SALAD

  • 2 Fuyu persimmons
  • 2 cups thinly sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

Peel the persimmons with a knife, removing the calyx (that’s the leafy part) and tough core). Slice them thinly and combine with the celery and onion.

Dressing:

You can use any oil-and-vinegar type dressing, but this is what I made.

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider or sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (such as safflower or canola)
  • 1 -2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon or stoneground mustard
  • salt and pepper

Combine dressing ingredients and whip like crazy with a fork until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning – you may want more sugar or mustard. When it’s just right, pour over salad and toss.

This salad does not keep well after 24 hours so make it the day you intend to serve it.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

No sooner than I got home with a gorgeous emerald-green head of Romaine than the alerts came in: Romaine implicated in e-coli cases. Well, shit (so to speak). After a day of dithering, I threw it out. Now what?

It was cold Monday night. I’d had sad news on a couple of fronts, and I just didn’t feel like making some lean and healthy veggie dish. Dammit, I wanted comfort food. Since I’m the chief cook in the house, that’s what we had. Meatloaf (made with grass-fed beef and Italian sausage), macaroni and cheese, and… since I’m not a complete hedonist, I made this salad. It might be another take on Waldorf.

White cabbage is very good right now in the market and provides a super-crisp crunch. I found Arkansas Black apples in the natural food store – $2.29 a pound, but what price deliciousness? I was not surprised to learn they are probably related to the King David apple, another rarely-seen but incredibly flavorful apple. I knew there was fresh celery in the crisper.

This salad keeps very well for at least two days (my husband ate the leftovers the second day so I don’t know how long it might keep after that). It tends toward the excessively pale, hence the brightly-colored apple suggestion.

DSCN4214

WINTER WALDORF SALAD

  • 1/2 large head of white cabbage, chopped into about 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 very crisp, juicy, flavorful apples, preferably with vividly-colored peel
  • 2 cups sliced crisp celery

Wash the apples, core them, and cut into pieces that are easily bite-sized (i.e. less than 1/2″). Combine with cabbage and celery.

Dressing:

Any cole slaw-type dressing or creamy dressing will work, but I like this combination of celery seeds and anise seed with apple cider.

  • 2 tablespoons apple juice or apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons canned evaporated milk, cream, or half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar to taste, optional
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon anise seed, lightly crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Beat dressing ingredients together until blended. Pour over vegetables, toss, and let sit in refrigerator at least two hours before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

THAI SWEET POTATO SOUP

THAI SWEET POTATO SOUP

Until I moved here, I only saw two kinds of sweet potatoes in the store – the whiteish ones and the orange ones.  Last time I was in the co-op I saw Garnets, Jewel, Hannah, Japanese purple, and another one I can’t remember the name of. I looked online and saw there are many varieties that never make it into the supermarkets, at least not around here.

(Yes, I know some are yams and some are sweet potatoes but for purposes of this post I am calling them all sweet potatoes.)

I like sweet potatoes but I do not like all that marshmallow gunk that people blanket them with. Just roast them in the oven in their skins – they will be plenty sweet. If you have to do more, mash them with pineapple.

But they also make good soup. I found a similar recipe in 300 Sensational Soups and adapted it a little. This would be an elegant way to serve sweet potatoes at a formal Thanksgiving dinner, or on a cold day anytime.

THAI SWEET POTATO SOUP

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about two average), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small hot red pepper, minced (optional)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, about 3 inches long, minced
  • 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (don’t use the low-fat, it has no taste)
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne to taste (you might skip the cayenne if you use the hot pepper)
  • 1 juicy lime
  • chopped cilantro and sliced green onion

Combine all ingredients except lime, cilantro, and green onion in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Puree the soup. You can use a stick blender but it takes freaking forever. Better to let the soup cool a little, then blitz it in a blender or food processor until smooth, then return soup to the pot.

Add a good squeeze of lime juice, then taste and adjust the seasoning – more salt if needed, probably more lime juice. When it’s to your taste, add the cilantro and green onions.

DSCN4161

PEARS AND CHEESE

PEARS AND CHEESE

DSCN4102

I bought some beautiful Comice pears at the farmers market without a definite plan for them. They were just so luscious, shapely, and evocative of autumn that I had to get them.  Fortunately,  my friend Sharon arrived at our house with this delicious dish. She brought it as a first course, but it could work just as well as a warm salad (I suggest placing each pear half on a bed of arugula or frisée, lightly dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, toasted walnuts sprinkled over), a side to chicken, pork, ham, duck, turkey, game, or as a dessert (perhaps with a little warm real maple syrup drizzled over).  It would also be great with sausages, ham, or bacon at breakfast or brunch.

If apples is what you have on hand, treat them the same way, with blue cheese or something different (extra sharp Cheddar or very aged real Gouda comes to mind). If hot sauce isn’t your thing, try brushing the pear halves with some port, sherry, Madeira, or Marsala.

With the holidays coming up, this is just in time for an easy way to serve a lot of people.

Ingredients:

  • 1 firm (not ripe) pear per person
  • Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton, or other blue-veined cheese
  • Hot sauce of your choice (Sharon used Tabasco; I used Penzey’s Berbere spice)

Wash pears and slice in half lengthwise. Remove the core/seeds with a spoon or an apple or pear corer. (I will tell you right now, I have never seen a home kitchen with an actual pear corer. I didn’t even know they existed until high school ceramics class, back in the 1970s, where we used them for easily trimming wet clay bowls thrown on the wheel.)

Sprinkle the cored pear halves lightly with hot sauce, Berbere, port, or whatever. Then carefully place some sort of blue-veined cheese on top of the halves. I used about 1 tablespoon cheese on each half, but more is good too. Or less. Your choice.

Put cheese-topped pears in a baking dish. Bake at 350 – 375 until pears are easily pieced with a fork or knife, maybe 25 – 45 minutes. These can be made ahead and rewarmed.

 

BREAD ANYONE CAN MAKE

BREAD ANYONE CAN MAKE

It’s been five months since I last posted here, and I am duly ashamed. It isn’t that I stopped cooking, it’s that I got slovenly about writing about it. I shall strive to do better.

Now, then. My husband found a recipe in The Northcoast Journal for bread that seemed too easy to be true, called Suzie Owsley’s No-Knead Bread. I saved the link. And then I found the same recipe in The New York Times, just called No-Knead Bread. The recipe was developed by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York and has become popular via the internet, and for good reason: this is really good bread with very little effort.

The downside: it takes 12 to 24 hours (or more, if you choose). The upside: you only do about 5 minutes of work. You don’t need to have any bread-making experience. Just follow the directions.

A few notes:

Flour: use all-purpose or unbleached or bread flour. Use all white or part white/part whole wheat.

Yeast: use instant or regular. There is a scant tablespoon of yeast in each packet; this recipe uses about 1/3 to 1/2 of that, so you’ll get 2 or 3 loaves from each packet.

Water: you may need more or less than 2 cups. Bread flour absorbs significantly more water than all-purpose or unbleached.

NO-KNEAD NO-FAIL BREAD

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 2 cups room-temperature water, more or less

Dump dry ingredients in a large bowl.

P1080571

Add 1 1/2 cups water (or more; see note above) and mix with a wooden spoon to make a pudding-y mix.

P1080574

Cover with plastic wrap and let sponge – that’s what this is called, a sponge – sit for 12 to 24 hours. A warmish-but-not-hot place is ideal – the top of the refrigerator or near but not on the stove. If your house is on the cool side, put the sponge in the oven and turn the oven on for 20 seconds every few hours, then turn it OFF again. If the sponge gets too hot, the yeast will die, and once that happens you’re out of luck.

When the sponge is ready, it will have a lot of little bubbles on top. It should smell yeasty and beer-y and sour (the longer it sits, the more sour it will smell).

P1080599.JPG

Heavily flour a dish towel (not terry-cloth) and scrape the sponge onto it. Turn it over on itself a couple of times (a rubber spatula or metal dough scraper is very useful here), cover with plastic wrap, and let rest about 15 minutes.

P1080577.JPG

Remove the wrap and sprinkle with more flour, and cover with another not-terry-cloth towel. Put the whole package back in the bowl (which you thoughtfully washed and dried) and let sit another two hours.

After 1 1/2 hours, turn the oven to 450F, and put a 5- to 8- quart covered baking dish in the oven to heat. The dish needs to be able to withstand a shitload of heat, so use cast iron, enamel, ceramic – something like that. Let it heat at least 30 minutes. I know this seems wrong, but do it anyway.

By the end of 2 hours, the dough should be puffed and doubled in size.

Remove the preheated baking dish from the oven and scrape/dump the sponge into it.

P1080585.JPG

Some of the dough will go willingly and some won’t. Lay the towel down on the counter and use a metal scraper to remove the straggling parts, and dump into the dish. It will look like a hot mess, but have faith.

Cover the dish and put in the oven.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the baking dish and bake for 20 more minutes.

Remove dish from oven and turn bread out to cool.

P1080591

P1080592

Let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.

If all that dish cloth stuff seems like too much work, you can also turn the deflated-and-rested dough into an oiled and heavily floured bowl and let rise the same way. The crust will be a little softer because of the oil. Mine turned out like this:

P1080606.JPG

A couple of variations:

Add 1/2 cup (or more) chopped Kalamata olives to the dough before the 2-hour rise.

Saute one small onion, finely chopped, and 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary in 2 teaspoons olive oil. Mix into the dough before the 2-hour rise.

Lots of other variations possible:  substitute some light beer for part of the water in the original sponge mixture.  Add garlic, cooked crisp bacon, various herb mixtures, chopped nuts, cheese, green onions…  have fun.

 

 

 

 

THE ALOHA PIE OF YOUR DREAMS

Posted on
THE ALOHA PIE OF YOUR DREAMS

Four months?  Four months since I posted here? Apparently so. No idea what happened in that void, other than psychic pain and misery inflicted by the Giant Dorito in the White House, but let us not speak of that. Let us speak of the day when the sun shines again, which we hope will be very very soon.

Fast forward to happier thoughts.

We had guests come to dinner last night, including someone my husband hadn’t seen in more than 40 years. He barbecued 1/2 pound hamburgers. I made the guacamole, the oven fries, and this Aloha Pie.

Years ago I had a slice of Aloha Pie in a restaurant and it was just fabulous, but that restaurant is long gone. I tried a couple of recipes but they weren’t the same… until now.

This started as a recipe for Pineapple Cheese Pie from Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes Volume 1, which you should own because it’s full of retro-to-nearly-retro recipes that anyone can make and which are deliciously unconcerned with fat, salt, and sugar. My copy is stained, dog-eared, and falling apart. I will never let go of it. Anyway, I looked at that recipe and thought it could be improved upon with little effort.

And after all that, the guests didn’t stick around for dessert. Their loss. It was divine.

P1070581

This makes a deep-dish 10″ pie.

Note: Do not be tempted to use fresh pineapple. It contains an enzyme that prevents gelatin (in the cream cheese) from setting up.

ALOHA PIE

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham crackers, crushed (or substitute another cookie like Nilla Wafers)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Crush the graham crackers by putting them in a plastic bag and whacking them with a rolling pin or similar implement of destruction, or putting them in a blender or food processor. Or you can do what I do and just put them in the pie plate and crumple them with your hands, not worrying if some pieces are bigger than crumb-size. Pour the melted butter in and mix it around. Pat the ensuing butter-crumb melange onto the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake in a 350 oven for 10 minutes and set aside.

Filling:

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened (I used low-fat)
  • 2 eggs
  • scant 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Using an electric mixer, blend all the filling ingredients together until smooth. Then add:

  • 1 can (about 1 pound, more or less) pineapple chunks in juice, thoroughly drained (use a good name-brand like Del Monte, not an off-brand. Also, use the juice for something else like a cocktail)
  • 1 firm-ripe thinly sliced banana

Fold those in carefully, then scrape all the filling into the baked crust and smooth the top.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

While that is baking, in the same bowl combine

  • 1 cup sour cream (I used low fat; nonfat or regular would work too)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Separately, put about

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

in a dry frying pan and toast over medium heat, shaking and stirring frequently, until it has a nice tan. Remove from the pan (if you leave it in the pan it will burn from residual heat) and set aside.

When the pie has baked its allotted 20 minutes, remove from oven. Spread the sour cream mixture evenly over the top, then sprinkle with the toasted coconut. Return to the oven and bake another 5 minutes, then remove pie to a cooling rack. Let cool for an hour, then cover and store in refrigerator.

This was even better than I hoped for.

Vary this pie by leaving out the banana and coconut, in which case it would revert to Pineapple Cheese Pie status. Add some macadamia nuts or toasted almonds along with the coconut or in place of. Use vanilla extract, coconut extract, and/or a spoonful of rum in place of the almond extract.  If there are egg whites hiding in the refrigerator, skip the sour cream and top with a meringue instead.

I can’t think of anything you would want to garnish this with. This is perfect on its own.

P1070583

PROVENCAL TOMATO SOUP

PROVENCAL TOMATO SOUP

Jeez.  The last time I posted here was December? How’d that happen?

Well, I know how it happened. I’ve mostly been in a fetal position since the election, emerging only now and then to refill my bottle with bourbon. I don’t see it getting better anytime soon. I just hope we don’t all get blown up.

16387302_10155306213180101_1486077335403843226_n

It seemed like a tomato soup kind of day, what with the rain, the Orange Dumpster Fire in the White House, the strike some of my friends are participating in, the Orange Nutjob in the White House, the cold, The Tropicana Fascist in the White House… you get my drift.

I made some tomato soup in the style of Provence. It tastes pretty good and it’s easy. It’s good for a cold wet day when you’ve lost hope but still remain optimistic that maybe we will survive. Also, a few stiff drinks don’t hurt.

PROVENCAL TOMATO SOUP

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 1 chopped celery stalk
  • 2 fresh tomatoes. chopped
  • 4-5 large garlic cloves
  • olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 large (28-ounces or so) can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 can (16-ounces or so) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 orange, zest plus all the juice
  • 1 tablespoon dry basil (fresh is better if you have it, but it’s winter right now)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • Anise liqueur and/or orange liqueur (optional)

Saute the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until they start to brown. Add 1 tablespoon fennel seed and let it cook for a few minutes. Then throw in everything else and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for half an hour or thereabouts.

Now either use a stick blender to puree the soup (don’t be too concerned about getting every veggie) or puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Pour soup back into the pot and let simmer another 10 minutes, and taste.

You may want to add more fennel, more orange juice/zest, some wine (I used white vermouth for its herbal taste), some booze (Pernod/anisette or an orange liqueur), more broth, EVOO, whatever.

If so inclined, you could also add some cooked rice and finely chopped spinach or other greens.

When it seems just right, turn the stove off and let sit for an hour or more, then reheat when ready to serve.

p1060711

 

 

 

LEFTOVER CRANBERRY SAUCE

file1721259911624

Cranberry sauce is one of those foods at Thanksgiving that is like Charoset at Passover Seder: absolutely essential without which you cannot proceed, but for God’s sake don’t make too much because no one will take a lot. (I found this out the hard way at the one and only Seder I was invited to. How was I, a shiksa, to know this? Maybe that’s why I’ve never been invited to another one.)

Even though cranberry sauce keeps really well in the refrigerator – a good three weeks – it’s probably getting tossed because it’s taking up room. Too bad because it goes with turkey, ham, chicken, duck, pork, and is delicious mixed with all kinds of things like horseradish and applesauce.

But if you have some that you don’t know what to do with: mix it with a spoonful of prepared mustard, pepper, vinegar and a little oil. Toss it with some sturdy greens like Romaine, some sections of Mandarin oranges (in season now), thinly sliced red onion, and maybe a few stray beans if there are any in the fridge (green, black, pinto, garbanzo, whatever).  Maybe sprinkle with some feta cheese. Yes, it’s purple. Dim the lights if that offends you. It’s delicious.

%d bloggers like this: