Sunday, December 14, 2014

Orange-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts

When I was a child, I thought that brussels sprouts were the very distillation of evil; along with turnips and lima beans, they formed an unholy triumvirate of vegetables that could reduce me to tears. This prejudice persisted well into adulthood (and I confess that turnips, to me, still taste of disappointment, sadness, and defeat), and it was only when I finally encountered roasted sprouts that the scales fell from my eyes. Like any member of the brassica family - which also includes cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower - brussels sprouts become nastily pungent when boiled, and since that was the way my British mother invariably prepared them, it's no wonder they struck panic and terror in my infant breast. But where boiling produces a bland, stinky mess, roasting brings out an irresistibly nutty sweetness, and once I discovered this important fact I was hooked, as were my formerly sprout-doubting partner and kids; nowadays the aroma of roasting brussels sprouts brings all the boys to the yard. (Well, it actually brings them to the kitchen, but you take my point.)

Which brings me to today's recipe. I made these sprouts for Thanksgiving, and they were so beguilingly delicious that I may never cook the little darlings any other way again. I happened to have some swanky blood orange olive oil in the cupboard, so that's what I used (and highly recommend), but if you don't have/feel like acquiring any, you can use high quality extra virgin stuff and add some freshly grated orange zest for a similar effect. I imagine this approach would also work nicely with lemon-flavored oil, and/or with toasted almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews for the walnuts. One thing is certain: henceforth I will be applying this method to asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and whatever other roasting-friendly vegetables cross my path, and I encourage you to do the same.

Orange-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts
~ 2 lbs. brussels sprouts, halved
~ 3 tbsp. each: soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, blood orange olive oil (or regular extra virgin)
~ 4 large cloves garlic, crushed
~ Grated zest of one large orange (if using regular olive oil)
~ A few generous grinds black pepper
~ 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

~ Preheat the oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit and coat a large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
~ Place the brussels sprouts in a large, deep bowl and combine all the remaining ingredients except the walnuts in a separate dish or beaker.
~ Pour the mixture over the sprouts and coat them thoroughly (the best way to do this is to get right in there with your hands). Cover with plastic and set aside for at least an hour to let the flavors soak in.
~ Transfer the sprouts, including any residual marinade, to your prepared baking sheet and roast at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes, making sure to turn them a few times during the process so they roast evenly. (NB my oven is old and tends to be slow, so your sprouts may cook more quickly; keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn!)
~ Stir in the toasted walnuts and serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Corn, Chickpea, and Kale Chowder

This chowder is another of those meals-in-a-bowl we are so fond of at this time of year. Thick, filling, and packed with protein and veggies, all it needs alongside it is some crusty bread, and maybe a salad if you're feeling particularly ambitious. I chopped more kale than I needed for the soup, so I added the extra to some cornbread batter with great success; watch this space for details!

Corn, Chickpea, and Kale Chowder
~ 1-2 tbsp. coconut oil
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 1 large carrot, diced
~ 1 large stalk celery, diced
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, including liquid
~ 1 tbsp. Adobo seasoning
~ 2 tsp. dill
~ 1 tsp. each: marjoram, paprika, chili powder, white pepper
~ 2 bay leaves
~ 3 cups corn kernels
~ 2 cans "lite" coconut milk
~ 4 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 tbsp. hot sauce (I used Frank's)
~ 1 small head kale, washed and chopped small (about 3 cups)

~ In a large, deep pot, melt the coconut oil and cook the onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
~ Add the carrots and celery and cook about 5 minutes more, until softened.
~ Stir in the garlic, cook about minute, then add the chickpeas, dry seasonings, and corn, stirring to coat everything with the spices.
~ Add the coconut and soy milks, cover the pot, and bring the mixture just to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook about 10 minutes.
~ Add the hot sauce and chopped kale, replace the lid, and cook 10-15 minutes more, until the kale is softened but still green.
~ With an immersion blender, partially puree the soup; we're going for a semi-smooth texture without any big chunks of vegetables, but still retaining a bit of chew.
~ Adjust the seasonings to taste, remove the bay leaves, and serve hot.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pumpkin Pasta Bake

I made this casserole one night when I was in a baked macaroni and cheese sort of mood but lacked a few crucial ingredients to make that happen. Using the awesome power of my imagination, it occurred to me that a pumpkin-based sauce using similar ingredients might get me to approximately where I wanted to go, and the result was good enough in its own right to deserve making again (and a blog post). NB the sausages were sort of an afterthought because they were just hanging out in my refrigerator, and while they added a nice "something," this dish would be just as good without them.

Pumpkin Pasta Bake
~ 1 lb. pasta (I used fusilli)
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~ 2-3 vegan sausages, diced (optional; I used Field Roast)
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, sage, thyme
~ 1/2 tsp. each: smoked paprika, white pepper
~ Dash nutmeg
~ 2 tsp. each: prepared mustard, vegan Worcestershire sauce
~ 1 tsp. Marmite
~ 1 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin (about 2 cups)
~ 2.5 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
~ 1/2 cup panko crumbs
~ Dash each: salt, pepper, paprika

~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and coat a casserole with cooking spray.
~ In a large saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until quite soft but not browned.
~ Add the garlic, sausage (if using), and dry seasonings and cook about 5 minutes more, until fragrant.
~ Stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and Marmite, then add the pumpkin and mix well.
~ Gradually add the soy milk and the nutritional yeast and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning and remove from heat.
~ Cook and drain the pasta according to package directions, reserving about a cup of the cooking water.
~ Combine the cooked pasta with the pumpkin mixture, adding a bit of the pasta water if it seems dry.
~ Transfer the mixture to your waiting casserole and top with panko crumbs, a sprinkle of salt, pepper, paprika, and a good shot of cooking spray.
~ Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until browned and bubbling. Allow to rest a few minutes before serving.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Smoky Tofu with Creamed Leeks

This dish was inspired by a post on the PPK forums entitled "What to do with leeks?" While I've never had a problem finding uses for the allium ampeloprasum, this idea got in amongst me, and when I was recently felled by a truly horrendous cold/flu thing, it seemed like just the sort of comfort food this almost-doctor wanted to order (or, in this case, make). Not having any smoked tofu to hand, I marinated and baked some myself, and pretty much winged the rest; the result was creamy, soothing, and delicious, especially spooned over a pile of mashed potatoes. We had ours with some noochy kale on the side, but this could easily be a meal all on its own; either way, I recommend it be eaten while wearing pajamas, in front of the TV and/or a roaring fire.

Smoky Tofu with Creamed Leeks

The Tofu
~ 1 14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed 
~ 2 tbsp. soy sauce
~ 1 tbsp. each: olive oil, maple syrup
~ 1 tsp. each: Marmite, vegan Worcestershire sauce, Liquid Smoke
~ 1/2 tsp. each: garlic powder, smoked paprika
~ A few grinds black pepper

~ Slice the tofu into 1/2" cubes.
~ Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour into a large, shallow baking dish.
~ Arrange the tofu pieces in the pan, and flip them over to coat them with the marinade. Allow to rest for about an hour (most if not all of the liquid will be absorbed).
~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
~ Arrange the marinated tofu in the baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping them about halfway through. They should be firm and chewy but not quite crispy.

~ Remove from the oven and set aside.

The Creamed Leeks
~ 1 cup raw cashews
~ 1 tbsp. each: olive oil, Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
~ 2 cloves garlic, minced
~ 3 large leeks, whites and light-green parts only, cleaned, halved lengthwise, and cut 1" inch thick crosswise
~ 1/2 tsp. each: sage, thyme, white pepper
~ Dash mace 
~ 2.5 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 tbsp. "no chicken" bouillon ~ 1/4 tsp. turmeric (for color)
~ 1 tsp. English mustard ~ A big batch of your favorite mashed potatoes

~ Soak the cashews in hot water for at least an hour, until quite soft.
~ In a large,deep skillet, heat the olive oil and margarine over medium-high heat and saute the garlic for about a minute, until fragrant.
~ Add the leeks and the seasonings, stir well to coat, and continue cooking, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
~ Lower the heat, cover the pan, and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or so, until the leeks are very soft (give them the occasional stir and adda  splash of water if necessary to prevent sticking).
~ While that's happening, drain the cashews and puree them in a blender or food processor with the soy milk, bouillon, turmeric, and mustard until completely smooth.
~ Raise the heat on the leeks to medium, and begin adding the cashew mixture gradually to the skillet, stirring constantly.  
~ Continue cooking for about 10 minutes more, until you have a pan of creamy deliciousness.
~ Stir in the baked tofu, cook 5 minutes more, and spoon over mashed potatoes to serve.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Eggplant, Lentil, and Quinoa Chili

This hearty stew is the perfect dinner for a chilly (see what I did there?) fall evening. It came about on the eve of a recent trip, when I needed to use up an eggplant but had little other fresh produce on hand; pantry staples seemed the way to go, so I rooted around in my cupboards et voila! An hour or so later we were sitting down to this thick, fragrant chili, which is not only a delicious nutritional powerhouse (lentils, black beans, and quinoa!), but ridiculously filling as well. I didn't have any fresh herbs in the house, but next time I'll toss in a handful of chopped cilantro, so I've included it in the recipe below. That said, if you're a cilantro hater you can substitute parsley or just skip it and the results will be every bit as great.

Eggplant, Lentil, and Quinoa Chili
~ 1 each: olive oil, coconut oil
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 1 large stalk celery, diced
~ 1 large carrot diced
~ 4 large cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes
~ 2 tsp. each: chili powder, cumin
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, coriander, smoked paprika, oregano, marjoram
~ 1/2 tsp. each: cinnamon, cayenne
~ Dash nutmeg
~ A few generous grinds fresh black pepper
~ 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
~ 4 tbsp. tomato paste
~ 2 tbsp. maple syrup
~ 1 15 oz. can black beans, with liquid
~ 1 cup red lentils
~ 1 cup quinoa
~ 4 cups "no chicken" broth
~ 1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro (optional)

~ In a large, deep pot, heat the oils and sauté the onion over medium-high heat for about two minutes; add the celery and carrot and cook another 3-4 minutes.
~ Add the garlic and eggplant and stir for about a minute to combine.
~ Add all the dry seasonings and mix well to coat; continue cooking 5-7 minutes, until the eggplant begins to soften (you can add a splash of water to prevent sticking if necessary).
~ Stir in the tomato paste, maple syrup, black beans, lentils, and quinoa. Mix well and cook for another few minutes, stirring.
~ Pour in the broth, stir, and then cover the pot and bring just to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant has broken down and the lentils and quinoa have become one with the whole delicious business.
~ Stir in the fresh cilantro (if using), adjust seasonings to taste, and serve with rice, cornbread, or both.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Black Bean Quesadillas

Apologies for the radio silence - it's been busy around here, and I haven't had much time or culinary ambition. But I did make these excellent quesadillas for dinner on Hallowe'en (the black, orange, and green color scheme was a happy coincidence), inspired by a dish I've eaten several times at Root, a vegan place in Allston. The prototype is filled with sweet potatoes and kale, but it occurred to me that some beans would improve the situation while adding a punch of protein, and so it proved. These came together quickly and were very filling, so you could really get away with just a salad or some simple veggies on the side, in addition to the quesadilla-appropriate condiments of your choice, and still have plenty to share with your enchanted toad friends!

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Black Bean Quesadillas
~ 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, roasted until soft and mashed
~ 1 batch noochtastic kale
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 small onion, diced
~ 1 small bell pepper, diced
~ 2 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tsp. each: cumin, chili powder, Adobo seasoning
~ ½ tsp. each: marjoram, oregano, cayenne
~ ¼ tsp. cinnamon
~ A few grinds black pepper
~ Dash nutmeg
~ 2 tbsp. tomato paste
~ 1 can refried black beans
~ 8-10 flour tortillas

~ Preheat the oven to 250 degrees fahrenheit and place a large baking sheet inside.
In a large skillet, saute the onion in the olive over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until soft.
~ Add the garlic, bell pepper, and seasonings and cook about 5-7 minutes longer.
~ Stir in the tomato paste and refried beans, mix well, and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
~ Lay a tortilla flat and distribute about 1/4 cup each of the mashed sweet potatoes, kale, and bean mixture evenly across the upper half, then fold over to make a crescent. Continue with the remaining tortillas and fillings. (I got 8 large, generously filled quesadillas from this recipe, but your mileage may vary!)
~ Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and cook the quesadillas one at a time, for about 3-5 minutes each side, or until browned and slightly crispy, removing the cooked ones to the oven as they're done.
~ Serve with guacamole, vegan sour cream, salsa, and/or whatever accompaniments you like.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pumpkin-Walnut Cornbread (or Muffins)

With ingredients like pumpkin, cornbread, maple syrup, molasses, and walnuts, it's like: how much more New Englandy could this quick-bread be? And the answer is none: none more New Englandy.

Pumpkin-Walnut Cornbread (or Muffins)
~ 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
~ 1 1/4 cup cornmeal
~ 1 tbsp. baking powder
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ 1/2 tsp. each: sage, marjoram, baking powder
~ Dash mace
~ 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
~ 1 14 oz. can pumpkin puree (scant two cups)
~ 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened almond or soy milk
~ 1/4 cup each: canola oil, maple syrup
~ 1 tbsp. blackstrap molasses

~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and coat a loaf pan (or muffin tin) with coking spray.
~ In a large bowl. sift together all of the dry ingredients, adding then walnuts last and tossing them to coat with then flour mixture.
~ In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients (pumpkin through molasses).
~ Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and fold in the pumpkin mixture. Combine thoroughly, but don't over-mix.
~ Transfer the batter to your greased pan or tin, and bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for circa 45 minutes (20-25 for muffins), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan about 10 minutes before transferring to rack to cool.