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Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Seasonally, this pumpkin soup is probably better suited to mid-October than mid-March, but no matter.  It’s irresistible any time of year.  Do not pass go; do not collect $200. Get in my belly!

Apologies.  That must have been my Id talking.

What my unconscious is trying to say is, you should make this soup happen.  In your kitchen. ASAP.

That is all.

-1 1/2 lbs. fresh pumpkin (I used muscat pumpkin, but acorn/butternut squash or even sweet potatoes should work, too)
-2 tsp. fresh sage, minced (or 1 tsp. dried)
-1 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
-3 shallots, peels on
-olive oil, for drizzling
-1 leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed of sand
-1 Tbsp. butter
-1 carrot, peeled and diced
-1 lg. celery stalk, diced
-1 bay leaf
-1/2 c. white wine
-4 c. chicken/veggie broth
-1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
-1/4 tsp. cinnamon, or to taste
-pinch of ground ginger
-dash nutmeg
-1/2 c. evaporated milk
-3 Tbsp. heavy cream
-3 Tbsp. sherry (optional)
-salt and pepper, to taste

Garnish with your choice of:
-roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), chopped
-ground paprika
-roasted corn (recipe follows)
-chopped parsley
-heavy cream

1. Cut the pumpkin into large chunks, halve the shallots, and place on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sage, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Roast at 350F until fork-tender and golden.

I peeled the shallots, but roasting with the peels on would have been better.

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This unusual rice pilaf makes a great side dish for baked chicken or grilled meat. The combination of sweet/savory and tart/buttery flavors is delicious.  I imagine it would even be good using a prepared saffron rice mix (steamed, not boiled as this recipe calls for) in a pinch.  But what I like about making your own saffron rice is that the flavor is subtle, and you avoid the MSG lurking in packaged products.

In any case, try this!  It’s such a nice twist.

(Adapted from Food & Wine)

-1 c. basmati rice
-3 Tbsp. butter
-1 tsp. olive oil
-1/4 c. dried sour cherries, raisins, or dried cranberries (2 ounces)
-2 tsp. sugar
-1/3 c. sliced or slivered almonds
-1/4 tsp. saffron
-salt and pepper, to taste

1. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet on medium heat, stirring to prevent burning. Once brown, immediately remove almonds to a bowl.

2. Preheat the oven to 375F. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the rice and cook until almost tender, between 8 and 10 minutes. Test periodically to ensure the rice retains a slight “al dente” bite.

3. Drain rice in a colander and shake to remove excess water. In a small bowl, dissolve the saffron in 1 tablespoon of hot water. Return the rice to the saucepan and stir in the saffron water. Season with salt and (ideally white) pepper.

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For reasons I don’t quite understand, fresh washed, bagged baby spinach costs an arm and a leg in Berlin.  I guess it hasn’t caught on in trendy circles yet.  If only the hipsters with painted on jeans and hideous shaved haircuts had an inkling of the green deliciousness they’re missing.

Anyway.

Here’s a simple recipe for a yummy spinach-potato soup.  The shortcut involves using frozen creamed spinach, which is all my discount grocery store (the U.N. refugee-camp-style Netto) had.  Topped off with some homemade croutons or a drizzle of cream, it makes a nice lunch or starter.

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I love savory food for breakfast, especially when someone else cooks it.  This morning my husband hit it out of the park with skillet-fried mashed potato pancakes.  They were awesome—fluffy, crispy, and golden all over.  Two bites in, I was already insisting he transcribe the recipe to share with you.

Hungry yet? (more…)

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Photo: Kristian Blaich

One of my less likely friendships is one I’m especially glad to have.  It’s funny how things work out.  My friend, Kristian Blaich, was originally my college history professor.  It’s quite possible that had I not taken his engaging classes, I might never have gone abroad, studied German, met my husband. . .well, you get the idea.  He was a great teacher and mentor and later advised my master’s thesis. Considering how much I probably tortured him with late drafts, I’m surprised he even still talks to me.

We stayed in touch over the years, and it gradually came out that Kristian is a total foodie.  He’s big into whole, fresh foods and healthy living.  Fortunately for us, he was kind enough to contribute a wonderful vegetarian recipe:

Recently, in honor of St. Nicholas Day, my five-year-old son announced that he wanted to have a party. Just a family party. But still: pressure to cook something yummy. So I started thinking about recipes that were not too time-consuming, yet still festive. I came up with a vegetable pie. It’s healthy, looks and tastes delicious, and it would impress the kids. We followed this up with some salad greens and some of my mother’s Christmas Stollen for dessert. The kids loved it. So did the adults. This recipe is adapted from NYTimes health food writer Martha Rose Schulman, Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes from the World’s Healthiest Cuisine (Rodale).

Pastry:

-1 recipe whole-wheat yeasted olive oil pastry

Filling:

-2 T olive oil
-1 shallot, minced
-3/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced
-1 1/2 lbs. greens, whatever you have on hand (I used ½ collard, ½ chard)
-salt & black pepper
-1 t fresh thyme, minced
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-3 large eggs
-1/3 c. skim milk
-1/3 c. grated, densely packed baby swiss cheese
-1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese (more…)

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spinach dip

I’m excited to introduce a new guest blogger, Chris Ferrera, whom I’ve known since we were gangly teenagers wearing braces and carrying ugly purses (me, at least). We’ve been best buds since the time when a big night out was meeting at the mall to gossip over virgin piña coladas and spinach dip.  Ah…the days before calories counted.

It’s no surprise, then, that Chris’ signature appetizer today is a cheesy spinach artichoke dip.  This one is a classic.  Without further ado, here she is to explain how it’s done:

My name is Chris, and I’m married to a football addict.  My husband loves all sports, but football season holds a special place in his heart. Right around June, he starts talking incessantly about how he can’t wait for cooler weather, the pre-season games, and his fantasy leagues’ drafts.  (Yes, leagues, plural.)

I, on the other hand, am not the world’s biggest football fan, so the period of time between August and February every year has required some negotiation in our marriage.  To avoid spending Sundays in separate rooms, watching separate TVs, we needed to find some common ground—a way to make football (almost) as enjoyable for me as it is for him.

Turns out, that common ground is food, and more specifically what we like to call Football Food—basically anything cheesy, meaty, carby, or fried.  I love to eat and enjoy nothing more than a built-in excuse to indulge in delicious, savory snacks each week.  One of our favorite go-to football snacks is my mom’s Spinach Artichoke Dip.

There are countless spinach dip recipes out there, but I firmly maintain that this is the BEST, as long as you don’t have a problem with butter, cheese, and cream…

cheese sauceThe holy trinity

Spinach Artichoke Dip

-8 oz. heavy cream
-1 stick butter (4 oz.)
-2 Tbsp. flour
-4 oz. sour cream
-3/4 c. parmesan cheese (shredded)
-1/4 c. Monterey jack cheese (shredded), plus a bit more for sprinkling on top
-2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
-1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (more…)

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quinoa cake with mushroom ragout
The other night, while my husband made a delicious roast pork loin, I was in charge of cooking the side dish.  I followed the German instructions on my package of quinoa (which called for too much water and cooking time) and ended up with a soggy, risotto-like pot of mush. So much for stereotypes about exacting Germans, eh?  Anyway, we were left with about 3 cups of quinoa that I was determined not to waste.  Because its texture was so similar to risotto, I decided to try a riff on arancini (fried risotto balls) for lunch today.

We were both surprised by how delicious these quinoa cakes were.  Next time, I might even ruin my quinoa on purpose, just to have another excuse make this dish.  Give this recipe a try next time you’re craving something different with an Italian vibe.

quinoa cake batterhumble beginnings…

quinoa patty…a tasty end

Quinoa Cakes:

-2 1/2-3 cups cooked quinoa (preferably slightly overcooked in excess water, so the grains cling together)
-2 eggs
-1/2 c. grated parmesan
-2 1/2 Tbsp. flour
-pinch of red pepper flake
-1 tsp. fresh basil
-1/2 clove garlic, minced
-1/2 tsp. dried oregano

-1/2 tsp. ea. salt and pepper
-approx. 2.5 c. panko or regular bread crumbs
-vegetable oil, for frying

1.  In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the salt, pepper, bread crumbs, and oil.

2.   Put the panko in a wide bowl and season with salt and pepper.

3.  Heat a large skillet with 3 Tbsp. oil until very hot.  Heat your oven on its lowest setting and line a cookie sheet or pan with paper towels.

4.  Take a heaping tablespoon of quinoa mixture in the palm of one hand and shape into a flat round approx. 3/4 in. thick (the size of a small crabcake).  Gently coat in the crumb mixture and place in the hot oil.

5.  Repeat.  Fry, gently turning so that each side is golden brown. Add more oil as needed.  Remove cooked cakes to the heated oven to keep warm while the others cook.

6.  Top with mushroom ragout and serve immediately.
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potato soup

Image via The Big Blend

Cool weather just screams out for hearty, homey food, don’t you think? The weather dropped a good 15 or 20 degrees (Fahrenheit…have to specify now!) this past month in Berlin, and I’ve been craving comfort food. This chunky, creamy potato soup fits the bill without being a total fat-bomb. It’s great as is, but feel free to kick it up a notch with some grated cheddar or a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of homemade croutons and fresh snipped chives.

potato soup ingredients

Don’t let the German-language label mislead you…that thar’s evaporated milk.  And there’s no celery in this photo because I spontaneously added it later.  For me, soup making is a bit of alchemy!

sauteed shallotsA little butter is key to this recipe’s success.

homemade stock

In a soup of so few ingredients, homemade broth is a nice touch.

Soup:

-1 3/4-2lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
-1 1/2 stalks celery, pureed in blender or very finely chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 onion, finely chopped
-1 shallot, minced
-handful of parsley, chopped
-approx. 4 c. chicken or vegetable broth (depending on how thick you like your soup)
-1 c. evaporated milk (not condensed milk)
-cayenne pepper, to taste
-pinch of dried sage
-salt, pepper, and white pepper, to taste
-pinch of nutmeg
-2 bay leaves

-1 Tbsp. butter
-olive oil

To serve: fresh chives, sour cream, cheddar cheese, homemade croutons (recipe follows)

1. Melt butter and a splash of olive oil over med-low heat in a large stock pot. Add onions, shallot, and celery. Cook gently until almost translucent.

2. Stir in garlic, being careful not to burn. Next, add broth, evaporated milk, bay leaf, sage, and parsley.

3. Add peeled, chopped potatoes to pot. Simmer uncovered until tender. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.

4. Thicken the soup. Either 1) use a potato masher to break down some of the potatoes and thicken the soup or 2) remove the bay leaves and about 3 cups of cooked potatoes to a bowl and puree the remaining contents of the pot with an immersion blender. Return the reserved potatoes to the soup.

5. Heat through and serve with your choice of toppings.   Enjoy with a chunk of crusty bread!

Homemade Croutons:

-2 slices thick cut bread of your choice (whole wheat is good)
-1 tsp. butter
-salt

1. Cut bread into bite-sized cubes.

2. Melt butter in a skillet.

3. Add bread cubes. Fry until golden. Sprinkle with salt and serve atop your favorite soup.

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Japanese curry kare tofu cutlets

Rumor has it that curry made its way from India to Japan during the colonial period via the British navy. There it morphed into a mild, savory-sweet roux-based sauce that’s the perfect counterpoint to a crispy piece of pork or tofu.  If you’re used to eating coconut-milk laden or incredibly spicy curries, Japanese curry is a refreshing change of pace.

Intrigued?

It’s dead easy to make, armed with a box of Japanese curry roux.

1.  Drain, slice, and season firm tofu with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. Put a pot of rice on to simmer.

tofu

2.  Coarsely chop and saute together carrots, potatos, onions, sweet potato, red bell pepper, and a bit of eggplant.*

IMG_1523

3.  Dredge seasoned tofu in flour.  Dip in beaten egg, then coat with panko (Japanese bread crumbs).  Season with salt.

Japanese panko bread crumbs

4. Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with oil. Arrange cutlets evenly on sheet and begin baking. Occasionally rotate the pan, but do not flip the cutlets.
baking curry cutlets

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black-bean-soup

Credit:  Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

This recipe comes from Martha Rose Shulman of the New York Times, who publishes a ton of great-looking vegetarian recipes.  Beans are not only a protein- and fiber-rich food, they’re also super economical.  And if you have any leftover bags of spinach lurking in your refrigerator, this recipe is your friend.  I think it would be great with a side of cucumber or jicama salad, or slaw!

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Today, I reached sandwich nirvana.  Do you ever eat felafel, those little croquettes made of chickpeas, fava beans, bulgur, parsley, and a medley of savory spices?  They’re often done wrong—restaurants typically pre-fry them in big batches and just reheat as needed.  Not surprisingly, this turns them into overcooked, bland, oil-logged little hockey pucks, tolerable only when drowned in hummus and yogurt sauce.

Thankfully, a new eatery in Adams Morgan, called Shawarma King, has reinvented felafel.  They’re made to order—shaped by hand and quickly deep fried.  Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, they are fragrant with garlic and enough herbs to turn the insides green. 

felafel

The quality of ingredients and the attention to detail at Shwarma King bring it to the next level.  To get started, dress your flatbread-wrapped felafel with assorted homemade toppings at the condiment bar.  My faves were the salty pickled beet/turnip/cabbage slaw and a thick Greek-style yogurt with cucumber and tomatoes.

toppings   topings-bar (more…)

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This soup manages to be creamy without adding loads of heavy cream. My Uncle Joe invented it when I was a kid, and he called it “Low Cal No Cow Soup.” My version is inspired by his (although there’s a little “cow” thanks to the butter.) This could easily be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth.

-1 lg. yellow onion, chopped
-olive oil or butter for sauteeing
-4 or 5 medium-small red potatoes, scrubbed clean (not peeled), cubed
-1 lg. shallot, minced
-2 large broccoli crowns, chopped (approx. 3 1/2-4 cups broccoli)
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 stalk celery, chopped
-sprinkling of seasoned salt
-1 Tbsp. ground coriander (don’t skip this)
-dash nutmeg, optional
-1 Tbsp. butter, optional

Stock:
-3 bay leaves
-2 whole stalks celery
-1 whole carrot
-ground black pepper
-2-3 sprigs thyme
-1 box chicken broth (32 oz.)
-water as needed
-chicken bullion or stock base, if desired

1. In a large pot, bring all the stock ingredients to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

2. Meanwhile, in a frying pan with a little olive oil, cook the onions, celery, garlic and shallot until light golden with a sprinkle of seasoned salt.

3. Remove all the solids from the stock and discard. Add the potatoes and broccoli, and enough water to cover if necessary. Bring back to a boil. Add onion mixture from the frying pan.

4. Add the remaining seasonings to the pot. Cook 10 min., or until everything is fully cooked. Stir in the butter, if using.

5. In a blender, puree 1/2 the batch of soup at a time. Recombine in the large pot. Or use that new handheld immersion blender you got for Christmas.

Heat through before serving with grated cheddar, more ground pepper, and warm baguette with butter.

I find this soup retains its fresh flavor if you don’t overcook the broccoli or simmer the soup forever. That said, it’s still quite delicious even if after been boiled to death.

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