14th February 2009

    Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream

    moussaka
    One thing we’re finding out about the recipes in Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook is that a lot of them aren’t exactly weeknight-friendly. Some of them are very involved and one would be wise to steer clear if a quick dinner is the goal. This recipe definitely falls into the “takes a while” category, but is totally worth it. This moussaka (which I like to think of as a greek lasagna with eggplant standing in for the noodles) features layers of eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes, a nicely spiced tomato sauce, and is topped with a pine nut cream rather than bechamel (This is vegan, after all).


    Chris says:

    Wow, that was kind of a pain, cutting those veggies 1/4″ thick. And it was a clear reminder that I need to sharpen our knives.

    Lisa says:

    Yeah, seemed like it took a while… if it makes you feel any better, the house smells absolutely amazing.

    Chris says:

    I know, I’m really looking forward to this…

    Lisa says:

    Did you try the pine nut cream before you put it on?

    Chris says:

    Yeah, it’s really, really good.

    Lisa says:

    Cool — I wasn’t sure about the whole pine-nuts-and-silken-tofu thing.

    Chris says:

    You blend it to a really creamy consistency. I also tossed some pine nuts on top. Anyway, let’s dig in!

    Carrie says:

    This is delicious!

    Lisa says:

    Yeah, I love it.

    Chris says:

    I really like the potatoes in it — they were crispy and browned going in, and now they’ve soaked up the goodness from the sauce.

    Carrie says:

    I’ve never had a moussaka before, but you’re right, it is sorta like a lasagna.

    Chris says:

    Wahoo, I’m ready for more — want to split another piece with me?

    Lisa says:

    Split?

    Chris says:

    You can always have more!

    Lisa says:

    I guess we can save some for lunch…

    Chris says:

    I bet it’ll be even better tomorrow. ;)

    Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream
    Vegetable Layer:
    1 lb eggplant
    1 lb zucchini
    1 1/2 lbs Russet potatoes
    1/8 cup olive oil

    Sauce:
    1/8 cup olive oil
    4 large shallots, sliced thinly
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1/3 cup red wine
    2 15-oz cans crushed tomatoes
    2 tsp dried oregano
    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 bay leaf
    Salt

    Pine Nut Cream:
    1 lb soft silken tofu
    1/2 cup pine nuts, plus additional for garnish
    3 tbsp lemon juice
    1 tsp arrowroot powder
    1 clove garlic
    Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
    Salt
    white pepper

    1/2 cup dry, fine white bread crumbs

    Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Lightly oil two baking sheets, line a third with parchment paper, and spray with cooking oil.
    Wash the eggplant and zucchini, and trim the stems. Scrub and peel the potatoes. Slice the eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes lengthwise, into approximately 1/4″ thick slices. This is a pain, but worth it. Rub the eggplant slices with a little salt and set aside in a colander in the sink or in a big bowl for about 15 minutes to drain. Briefly rinse with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.

    Place each vegetable on a separate baking sheet. Distribute the 1/8 cup of oil among the three sheets and sprinkle vegetables with salt (except the eggplant if salted already). Toss to coat the vegetables on each sheet. Making sure each piece is completely coated with oil. Spread out the vegetables on each sheet; some overlapping is okay. Roast the pans of zucchini and eggplant for 15 minutes, or until tender. Roast the potatoes for about 20 to 22 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Allow the vegetables to cool.

    Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce:
    Combine the remaining 1/8 cup olive oil and minced garlic in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium heat and let the garlic sizzle for about 30 seconds, then add the shallots and cook until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until slightly reduced, another 3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, ground cinnamon, and bay leaf. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 12 to 14 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaf, and adjust the salt.

    Make the pine nut cream:
    In a food processor, blend the pine nuts and lemon juice, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until a creamy paste forms. Add the tofu, garlic, arrowroot, nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. Blend until creamy and smooth.

    Lightly oil a 9 x 13 inch pan and preheat the oven again to 400˚F, if necessary. Spread 1/4 cup of sauce on the pan, then add successive layers in order of eggplant, potatoes, sauce, and half of the bread crumbs. Spread all the zucchini on top of this. Top with a final layer each of eggplant, potatoes, sauce, and breadcrumbs. Use a rubber spatula to evenly spread the pine nut cream over the entire top layer. Scatter a few pine nuts on top, if desired.

    Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and a few cracks have formed in the topping. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

    4-6 Servings

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    posted in Main Dishes, Veganomicon | 11 Comments

    9th February 2009

    Creamless Mushroom Soup

    creamlessshroomsoup

    I found this recipe on Pino Luongo’s blog, and it also appears in his cookbook, La Mia Cucina Toscana: A Tuscan Cooks in America. Frequent readers of this blog know that Lisa and I both love mushrooms, and the prospect of a creamless creamy soup sounded really appealing. We had also just picked up a big bag of black trumpet mushrooms at the Farmers Market and were eager to try them out. While simple, this isn’t a quick recipe — the tomato puree bakes for an hour and a half — so if you’re going to tackle this one, save it for a weekend. Unless, of course, you don’t mind waiting for a good thing.

    Lisa says:

    The house smells so good.

    Chris says:

    Is there any smell better than garlic and onion browning in olive oil?

    Lisa says:

    If so, I haven’t yet encountered it. Hey, what’s all this wasted garlic?

    Chris says:

    Oh that was the garlic that baked with the tomatoes — you remove it before pureeing the tomatoes. Don’t worry, there’s more in the soup base and the mushrooms.

    Lisa says:

    Yeah, well now there’s “throwaway garlic” on this cracker in my hand…

    Chris says:

    Oooh, good idea. Delish!

    Lisa says:

    Yum, this soup almost smells sweet, or like cinnamon…

    Chris says:

    Interesting; nothing sweet here, maybe that smell is coming from one of the mushroom varieties…

    Lisa says:

    I heart mushrooms. And this soup.

    Chris says:

    I love all the different textures in it — some of the mushrooms are really delicate, some are firmer; and they all come with slightly different tastes.. mild, earthy…mmmmm!

    Creamless Mushroom Soup
    Oven-Dried Tomato Puree:
    2 lbs Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
    2 tbsp fine sea salt
    2 tsp sugar
    3 fresh rosemary sprigs
    6 fresh thyme sprigs
    6 garlic cloves, sliced
    12 fresh basil leaves, torn by hand

    Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper and arrange the tomato halves cut-side up on it in a single layer. Mix the salt and sugar together in a small bowl and sprinkle the tomatoes with the mixture. Then sprinkle with the rosemary, thyme, garlic, and basil. Put the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 90 minutes, until the tomatoes are dried but not shriveled.
    Remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Pick off and discard the garlic and herbs. While the tomatoes are still warm, puree them in a food processor or blender. Set aside while you make the soup.

    Soup:
    extra virgin olive oil
    1 small onion, chopped
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    pinch of hot red pepper flakes
    1 large Russet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes
    fine sea salt
    5 cups vegetable stock
    2 garlic cloves, sliced
    1 fresh rosemary sprig
    1½ pounds mixed wild mushrooms — we used black trumpet, portobello, shiitake, and porcini — stems removed, large ones quartered, small ones halved or left whole
    freshly ground black pepper

    Pour the stock into a small pot and set to simmer. Pour 2 tbsp of olive oil into a large dutch oven to generously coat the bottom. Warm over medium-high heat. Add the onion, minced garlic, and red pepper and cook until the onion is browned, about 4 minutes.
    Add the potato, season with salt, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in the tomato puree. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the simmering stock. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Cook until the potatoes are cooked through, about 5 more minutes. Blend the soup with an immersion blender until creamy.
    Pour 2 tbsp into a wide deep skillet to coat the bottom. Warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sliced garlic and rosemary and sauté until the garlic is browned, about 1 minute. Stir in the mushrooms, season with salt and black pepper, and sauté until the mushrooms are wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary, then add the mushrooms to the soup.
    Place the dutch oven on low heat and let the soup simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Ladle into bowls and serve with warm garlic bread.

    4-6 Appetizer-sized servings

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    posted in Italian, Salads and Light Soups, Vegetarian | 7 Comments

    29th December 2008

    Manzana Chili Verde and Firecracker Cornbread

    chiliverde

    Another set of recipes in our trying-to-keep-it-light, post-holiday trend… I made this stew from Veganomicon and Lisa made an awesome cornbread adapted from a recipe @ 101 Cookbooks.  The chili has too many green vegetables to count, plus Granny Smith apples!  The cornbread had a nice little kick that went really well with the chili.


    Lisa says:

    Hey, this is a little spicy… and… sweet? Hmmm…

    Chris says:

    Well yeah, it’s a *little* sweet… there’s apples in it. But it’s not overly so. There’s a lot going on.

    Lisa says:

    You’re right… I’m adding a little bit of salt to mine.

    Chris says:

    The cornbread is awesome. Those peppers in it keep it pretty moist — I don’t need to slather my piece with butter.

    Lisa says:

    Hm, I *really* like this chili, it’s growing on me with every bite.

    Chris says:

    I couldn’t believe how many green things went in this… tomatillos, apples, cilantro, poblanos, jalapeños, green onions…

    Lisa says:

    …don’t forget avocados!

    Chris says:

    That Kermit was full of it — seems like it’s pretty easy being green.


    Manzana Chili Verde
    1 lb baby Yukon golds, cut into 1/2″ pieces
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 large yellow onion, diced small
    3 jalapeños, seeded and sliced thinly
    2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped into 1″ pieces
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    3 tsp ground cumin
    1 tsp dried oregano
    1 tsp salt
    1 cup dry white wine
    1 lb tomatillos, papery skin removed, washed, chopped into 1/2″ to 3/4″ pieces
    2 Granny Smith apples, cored, quartered, and sliced thinly
    2 cup vegetable broth
    1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
    1/4 cup shopped scallions
    1 15-oz can small white beans, drained and rinsed
    Juice of 1 lime
    Avocado slices for garnish

    Place the chopped potatoes in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Let boil, covered, for a little less than 20 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside.
    Meanwhile, heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, jalapeños, and poblanos in oil for about 10 minutes, until everything is softened and the onions are slightly browned.
    Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt. Saute for 1 more minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the white wine and tomatillos, raise the heat a bit to let the wine reduce and the tomatillos release their juices, about 5 minutes.
    Add the apples, vegetable broth, scallions, and 1/2 cup of the cilantro. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
    Use an immersion blender to partially puree everything, or transfer half the chili to a food processor and puree, then return to the pot.
    Taste for tartness: if bitter, add a teaspoon or two of sugar to level things out. Add the cooked potatoes and the beans, simmer for a few more minutes, until everything is heated through.
    Add the remaining cilantro and the lime juice. Ladle into bowls, garnish with the avocado and scallions, and serve.

    4-6 Servings

    Firecracker Cornbread

    2 tbsp butter
    1 tsp red pepper flakes
    1 cup unbleached white flour
    3/4 cup fine-grain cornmeal
    1/4 cup natural cane sugar
    1 tbsp baking powder
    1 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
    1 cup almond milk
    1 large egg
    1 4-oz can mild green chilies

    Preheat your oven to 350F degrees, with a rack in the middle.
    Just before you make the batter, in a small saucepan, melt the butter, stir in the red pepper flakes, and pour into a 9-inch pie tin or baking dish. Place in the hot oven.
    In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the almond milk, egg, and chilies. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until just combined. Now very carefully remove the hot pan with butter from the oven. Fill it with the cornbread batter, pushing the batter out to the sides if needed. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until the edges are golden and the center is just set.

    Makes 10 slices.

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    posted in Breads and Muffins, Main Dishes, Veganomicon, Vegetarian | 4 Comments

    26th December 2008

    Guest Post: Salmon Chowder

    salmonchowder

    A very special guest post this evening from Lisa’s brother Chris (yes, another Chris…) and his girlfriend Jenn — a delicious Salmon Chowder from The Ultimate Soup Bible. C&J made an enormous cauldron of the chowder that fed nine or ten lucky souls over the course of two nights. I only had my point-and-shoot camera with me, so I wasn’t able to get as good a picture of the chowder as I normally would — guess, we’ll just have to make it ourselves! (As if we really needed an excuse…) We served the chowder with a few sides and salads we’ve made before, including these roasted yams, a salad featuring arugula and roasted bell peppers, and one featuring layered beets and avocados.


    Overheard:

    This is wonderful, who made this?

    I really like that the broth isn’t super-thick like in a lot of chowders.

    Tell Chris this chowder is better than a few others I’ve had recently…

    Oooh, I like the corn in this. Good addition!

    The dill is great — perfect amount.

    Great success!

    Salmon Chowder
    1 1/2 tbsp butter
    1 onion, finely chopped
    1 leek, finely chopped
    1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    7 cups chicken stock
    2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
    1 lb salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
    1 can corn, drained
    3/4 cup milk
    1/2 cup whipping cream
    2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
    salt and freshly ground pepper

    Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the onion, leek, and fennel and cook for 6 minutes until softened. Stir in the flour and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken stock and potatoes to the mixture in the pan. Season with a little salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat , cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the salmon and simmer gently 3-5 minutes until just cooked. Stir in the corn, milk, cream, and chopped dill into the pan. Cook until just warmed through, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. To thicken, smash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot. Adjust the seasoning to taste, then ladle into warm bowls.

    4 (large) Servings

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    posted in Main Dishes, The Soup Bible | 2 Comments

    21st October 2008

    Basque Fish and Potato Stew

    Here’s another really easy weeknight dish; we based the recipe on one found in Fresh Spanish. Traditionally, this stew is made with tuna, but any firm-fleshed fish will work. We used mahi-mahi and were very pleased with the results.

    Lisa says:

    Yay soup! 

    Chris says:

    This cold weather certainly gets me in the mood for it… 

    Lisa says:

    What fish is this? 

    Chris says:

    Mahi-mahi, but the original recipe used tuna… 

    Lisa says:

    Mmmm, it’s good. 

    Chris says:

    Capers rule. They’re like little bursts of salt. 

    Lisa says:

    So’s the salt. 

    Chris says:

    Okay, tonight you earn the sigh…

     

    Fish and Potato Stew
    12 oz mahi-mahi (or any firm-fleshed fish), cut into large bite-sized pieces
    1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
    red onion, halved and thinly sliced
    4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    3 small roma tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and chopped
    1 bay leaf
    1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
    1/2 tbsp mild paprika
    3/4 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into large bite-sized pieces
    salt and fresh ground black pepper
    parsley, chopped
    capers

    Arrange the fish in a shallow bowl and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside.
    Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan, add the onion and garlic, and cook over medium heat until softened. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, bell pepper, paprika, and potatoes, and stir to mix well. Add just enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Add in the fish, return to a boil, and cook for an additional 4 minutes. Serve ladled into bowls and garnish with parsley and capers.

    2 Servings

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    posted in Fresh Spanish, Main Dishes, Spanish | 10 Comments


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