Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Revelation - Baked Risotto

There are several baking and cooking blogs that I read regularly, so when Patricia from Technicolor Kitchen blogged a Spinach, Cheese, and Walnut Baked Risotto, I was intrigued.

I love risotto, but have only made it twice in my life because it is labor-intensive. The idea of having the same result but only having to stir it twice was overwhelmingly enticing. I had asked her if she thought the flavor/texture was comparable to regular risotto, she said yes, and I'm here to say she was completely right. Please see her recipe for the version she made, which itself is an adaptation of a Donna Hay recipe. I'm including mine, since it was adapted again.

Spinach and Cheese Baked Risotto

1 ½ cups Arborio (or risotto) rice
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 white wine
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper
2 oz spinach leaves – remove the stems before measuring or use baby spinach leaves
4 oz feta cheese (for extra flavor, buy the kind that is seasoned)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the rice, stock, and wine 9x13 baking dish (or equivalent). Cover tightly with foil and cook for 40 minutes or until most of the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente.

Add the parmesan, butter, salt, pepper, spinach, and feta and stir until the butter is melted. Serve immediately.

That's all there is to it! You could make this so easily alongside other dishes without slaving over a hot stove for an hour. Definitely, definitely try this recipe.

Now I need to figure out what to do with my leftovers. I have read of risotto balls or patties.... I'll go off and investigate, and hope to post if I do anything more with them!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Caramelized Onion and White Cheddar Dip

I'm not always a fan of Rachel Ray, but when I saw her make this dip I knew it would be spectacular. It is really more of a fondue recipe. I think you could probably thin it out and eat it as soup if you wanted.

Caramelized Onion and White Cheddar Dip with Apples and Dark Bread

4 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon dried thyme or poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper
3 green apples
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 small, round loaf crusty pumpernickel bread, cut into bite-size cubes, 1 pound
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
A pinch or 2 of ground cloves
2 1/2 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar

Heat a heavy bottomed medium pot or deep skillet over medium heat. Melt butter in pot and add onions, raising heat slightly. Add bay, thyme, salt and pepper to onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and caramel in color, 20 minutes.

While onions cook, slice apples and douse with a little lemon juice to slow browning. Arrange the apples and bread on a board or platter.

When onions are soft and sweet, add flour and cook a minute. Whisk in wine, cook a minute then whisk in half-and-half. When the liquid comes up to a bubble, season with nutmeg and cloves and adjust salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in Cheddar and melt then remove from heat and serve in fondue pot or transfer to a small, warmed sauce pot which you can return to the stove top to reheat sauce as necessary. Dip apples and bread in warm cheesy sauce and enjoy.

Categories: Apple, Appetizer, Bread, Cheese, Dip, Onion, Wine

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Moroccan Filo Crescents (Happy Thanksgiving 2007)

This year for Thanksgiving, I made the Moroccan Filo Crescent from The Millennium Cookbook (recipes from The Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, an amazing vegetarian restaurant I got to go to a few years ago). The recipe calls for a yellow tomato sauce in the summertime, but suggests the pomegranate sauce elsewhere in the cookbook for other seasons, so I took their advice and made that. I also added a simple green bean dish (garlic, lemon, and replaced parsley with mint).

This was the first day I had really cooked much since I had been feeling bad and then had surgery, so I guess you could say I'm incredibly thankful to be back in the kitchen! The pomegranate sauce necessitated shopping for wine, which I don't normally do, so I closed my eyes and pointed, practically. It worked out okay. I even took the cork out, woot woot.

Inside the crescent is a saffron rice pilaf and sauteed veggies (onion, garlic, red pepper, eggplant, mushroom, spinach, ginger, mint). With the pomegranate sauce (red wine, shallots, pomegranate juice, garlic, veggie broth), it was quite tasty! It was also incredibly time consuming. This is why I don't often cook from this cookbook, because each recipe encompasses 2-3 recipes, all of which have ten ingredients or more. But wow, when you put the effort in, it is totally worth it. And this was vegan, because you use oil instead of butter for the filo.

Moroccan Filo Crescents
from The Millennium Cookbook

1 yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, seeded, deribbed, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
2 Japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces*
6 button, cremini, stemmed shiitake, or oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced**
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper***
1 cup tomato puree or mild tomato sauce
2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
6 oz fresh tofu, sliced into 1/2-inch cubes**
2 cups packed fresh spinach
2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, minced
sea salt to taste

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 tbsp sucanat
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 pkg filo dough, thawed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups cooked Saffron Basmati Rice Pilaf (elsewhere in cookbook)
Curried Golden Tomato Sauce or Pomegranate Sauce (elsewhere in cookbook)

To make the filling:
In a large saute pan or skillet, saute the onion, garlic, and peppers in the oil over medium heat until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the eggplants and mushrooms, then the cumin, curry powder, ginger, rosemary, and cayenne. Stir well and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and tamari and simmer for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and stir in the tofu, spinach, and mint. Add salt. Let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, grind the almonds, Sucanat, and cinnamon to a fine meal.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 2 sheets of filo on a work surface. Keep the remaining filo covered with a damp cloth. Brush the filo with oil and sprinkle with a light dusting of the ground almond mixture. Repeat the process twice until 6 sheets of filo have been used. Cut filo stack in half to make 2 rough square stacks.

Place 1/3 cup pilaf 1 inch from nearest end of the filo strips. Top with 1 cup filling. Fold the farthest of the filo over the filling so the edges meet. Starting with the open side edges of the filo, fold the bottom edge over the top as tight as possible, work down the edges until the filo is completely sealed. The filo will take on a crescent shape. Place the filo on the prepared pan. Repeat with the second filo square, then repeat the entire stacking and filling process twice more, so that you have 6 crescents.

Brush the tops of the crescents with the remaining oil and top with the remaining almond mixture. Bake in the center of the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the crescents are golden brown.

To serve, cover the center of each serving plate with 1/3 cup of the chose sauce. Place 1 filo crescent over the sauce and garnish with beet reduction and mint sprigs.

* - I am not sure what Japanese eggplants were, so I bought one normal one and peeled and sliced it, sprinkled with salt to get the bitterness out, then rinsed and chopped it into cubes.
** - I added extra mushrooms because I let out the tofu.
*** - I used 1/8 tsp since I am married to someone who doesn't like things spicy. It was still too spicy for him, but that may be the sauce, or the curry powder, or who knows.

Categories: Almond, Cinnamon, Curry, Eggplant, Filo, Mushroom, Moroccan, Onion, Pastry, Pomegranate, Thanksgiving, Vegan

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pie Week - Tomato Pie

A trip to the farmer's market this past Saturday provided me with a bunch of delicious hydroponic tomatoes. Originally my thought was to do the same old thing - a fresh tomato basil salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. Delicious, but I've done it many times.

I vaguely remembered watching Paula Deen make Tomato Pie. I remember it had mayo, and although that made me cringe, I decided that I needed to try it in the interest of furthering my southern education.

Plus, it's Pie Week, as declared by A Muffin Story who has a blog in LiveJournal. Yesterday I made a sweet banana cream pie, and I wanted to try a few savory pies this week as well.

A Muffin Story's pie challenge

This recipe is from foodnetwork.com, but I'll go ahead and copy and paste it since it's fairly short.

Tomato Pie

4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 (9-inch) prebaked deep dish pie shell
1 cup grated mozzarella
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the tomatoes in a colander in the sink in 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes.

Layer the tomato slices, basil, and onion in pie shell. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the grated cheeses and mayonnaise together. Spread mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

To serve, cut into slices and serve warm.

I had to cook this about 15 minutes longer, but I think that's because I used light mayo. It would really work best with full-fat mayo (that's what browns!). Even with lowfat ingredients, this is not the healthiest recipe in the world. And to be honest, since I knew what was in it, I had a hard time eating it. It is very rich, but the amazing thing is that the freshness of the tomatoes and basil really come through.

I'd like to try making this in little tarts, maybe with a cornmeal crust instead of a regular one. When I worked at the Limestone Grille, we used to make an open faced sandwich with asparagus and ham, topped with parmesan mayo that was broiled. I wonder if broiling might be more appropriate for this dish, in a shallower format. Something to try, anyway!

Categories: Basil, Onion, Tomato, South, Pie

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Warm White Beans and Savory Bread Pudding

Sometimes it is easy to eat the same food over and over as a vegetarian. Obviously that's the reason I started this blog. I've started to try combinations of food from different cookbooks to create different types of meals.

For this meal, I was going after the French provencal style of dinner, and ended up choosing the Warm White Beans recipe from Everyday Greens and the Savory Bread Pudding recipe from Moosewood Simple Suppers.

I had to return these books to the library so I don't have the recipes in front of me, sadly. I would say the beans were more successful than the bread pudding - the bread pudding just didn't have enough flavor with the cheese and green onions. I think if I were to make it again I might add broth to the custard and garlic to the onions.

The warm white beans, on the other hand, were simply magnificent. They cooked quickly but tasted as if they had been cooking all day. That's exactly the kind of dish I want sometimes, after a stressful day!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thai Veggie Spring Rolls (vegan)

I have always wanted to make spring rolls, the kind you don't fry or bake, and finally made time to do it! I've had the rice paper wrappers in my cupboard forever.

The recipe I used comes from Everyday Greens, recipes from the vegetarian restaurant Greens in San Francisco. Some of the recipes are beyond my capabilities, unless I want to make substitutions, because I just don't have the same ingredients available to me. For instance, even the jicama required in the recipe was nowhere to be found. I'm not opposed to substituting or eliminiating ingredients, but I like to try and make a recipe as written the first time. Not all of the recipes were like this, but I would say a good amount.

I'm not going to include the recipe in this post, because making spring rolls is more of a technique.

1. Get a bunch of veggies. Julienne them or chop them. Steam them or decide eating them fresh is okay.

2. Get some kind of protein. Baked or fried tofu works great, or I often see them in the stores with shrimp (not, of course, an appropriate vegetarian ingredient).

3. Toss some or all the filler ingredients with some kind of sauce - hoisin, vinaigrette, peanut sauce, etc.

4. Boil some water or use very hot tap water, and put in pie plate. Soak rice paper wrappers one by one (leaving damp towel on top of rest). Dry briefly on paper towel. Add ingredients, and roll up rice paper wrapper, folding in sides as you go.

5. Serve with complimentary sauce.

For these spring rolls, I used carrots, red peppers, lettuce, shallots, peanut sauce, and cilantro. They were great! I'll definitely make something like this again. I wish I had taken the time to prepare some kind of tofu; it would have filled out the rolls. I served them with Tom Khai Yum soup from our local Thai restaurant.

Categories: Carrots, Cilantro, Peppers, Rice, Thai, Vegan

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

General Tao's Tofu (vegan)

I had come across this recipe in a forum somewhere, and when I went to VegWeb.com, I saw review after review of praise for this recipe. I've had it in my to-try pile for quite some time. The recipe can be found here but I'll go ahead and copy and paste it.

General Tao's Tofu

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

1 box of firm tofu
egg substitute for 1 egg
3/4 cup cornstarch
vegetable oil for frying
3 chopped green onions
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2/3 cup vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
4 Tablespoons sugar
red pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon sherry (optional)
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
steamed broccoli


Drain, dry and cut tofu into 1 inch chunks. You can freeze tofu the night before to get a more chicken-like consistency, but it isn't necessary. Mix the egg replacer as specified on the box and add an additional 3 tablespoons water. Dip tofu in egg replacer/water mixture and coat completely. Sprinkle 3/4 cup cornstarch over tofu and coat completely. Watch out that the cornstarch doesn't clump up at the bottom of the bowl.

Heat oil in pan and fry tofu pieces until golden. Drain oil.

Heat 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil in pan on medium heat. Add green onions, ginger and garlic, cook for about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn garlic. Add vegetable stock, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper and vinegar. Mix 2 Tablespoons water with 1 Tablespoon cornstarch and pour into mixture stirring well. Add fried tofu and coat evenly.

Serve immediately with steamed broccoli over your choice of rice.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 30 Minutes

Jenny's Notes: I have to admit, I have had a hard time coming across a box of egg substitute down here, so I just used an egg with a little bit of water, and that worked fine. I was confused by the recipe - was I supposed to deep fry or pan fry the tofu? I wasn't sure and chose to pan fry, which worked fine. I also salted the tofu right after it came out of the pan.

Instead of steaming the broccoli, I made a double batch of the sauce and cooked the broccoli in the hot oil before finishing the sauce. It tastes best with the sauce on both anyway, in my humble opinion.

I would definitely make this again - I had to omit the garlic since I was out and I think that would greatly improve the flavor which was good to start with - and I would add a greater variety of vegetables, and possibly some nuts or sesame seeds. And maybe some heat. Back when I ate meat I recall a really tasty dish of General Tso's Chicken, and it was a little spicy but still sweet and garlicy, and I miss that element.

Categories: Broccoli, Chinese Food, Tofu, Vegan