Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Simple Summer Supper

I used Heidi Swanson's recipe for Grilled Tofu and Soba Noodles. I tripled it and found that I didn't need 9 serranoes (so glad I thought before I automatically added them all). I think I used either 6 or 7 and while the dish was too spicy for the girls, David and I really liked it. Also, I didn't need all the oil. I used about 1/2 to 3/4 a cup for the whole triple batch. I think 3/4 x 3 would have been way too much. Last, I didn't purchase enough cilantro so I used spinach in its place which upped the healthy quotient and I think tasted quite good.

Served with steamed broccoli and organic raspberries.

This was one of my cheaper recipes for coop since raspberries and broccoli were on sale and I only bought one bunch of organic cilantro (I already had the organic spinach on hand). I used three blocks of tofu. Biggest expense? Three packages of the noodles, but I discovered that two would have been plenty for four families. I have a big bag of cooked noodles in the fridge, as well as some uncooked noodles in the pantry.

The girls loved the soba noodles sans pesto which felt like a brilliant discovery on my part. Rory actually ate noodles, tofu, broccoli and raspberry.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mock Tuna Salad

It's getting way, way too hot out there to be heating up the house with cooking! I'm switching over to my summer menus, which means lots of fruit, chilled soups, and bean/grain salads. Ideally, in our house, we convert to a "larger lunch, smaller dinner" system during the hot months, but that often doesn't work out, simply because we get too busy! I'm trying to figure out the best portion sizes for the co-op during the next few months, so bear with me.

This week's meal was a mock tuna salad served with iceberg lettuce cups & a fruit salad. It's a favorite lunchbox meal of mine, and we usually eat it with either tortilla or lettuce wraps. Since it wasn't having to survive till lunchtime in a lunchbox, I went with the more delicate lettuce. Next time, I'm going to find some good Bibb lettuce instead of iceberg, but I had to go with what HEB had in stock.

Monday, June 21, 2010


With Father's Day and a child with a broken arm, I needed a simple meal this weekend, per my recent trend. So I used this recipe from the NY Times to make a batch of black beans, using organic black turtle beans from a Bob's Red Mill coop I recently participated in. I even found epazote at CM to add to the beans along with the cilantro (those are the little stick-like things you might see!).

I made a huge batch and have leftovers to now make homemade refried black beans.

I served the beans with brown rice, yellow tomatoes, avocado and CM's organic blue (frito-like) corn chips. And with organic strawberries on the side, on sale this week at CM. I meant to slice the strawberries and marinate them in balsamic vinegar and sugar. If you feel so inclined, give this a try - super yummy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hot weather food!

As we lead into the Texas summer, I've been trying to dig up my "Oh my god, it's too hot to move" recipes. I didn't have a lot of time for cooking this week (or shopping, or anything really) because I was stranded an extra day in San Jose over the weekend. While I'm grateful the plane broke while we were on the ground instead of at 39,000 feet, I had a lot of stuff I needed to get done in Austin!

So the meal this week was Cauliflower Ceviche & a simple Indian Daal with flatbread, both from vegweb. The ceviche was divine! Really really enjoyed it. Next time, I'll add a ton more cauliflower, because it really got lost among all the other veggies, even though I used the lower of the recommended ranges for each. It didn't help that both Casper & Graiden picked out all the cauliflower and left almost none for me!

The daal was a very basic red lentil mush. Both my kids gobbled it up. I left out the hot pepper, and only used 1/4t of cayenne in the doubled recipe.

The flatbread was from Costco, a brand called FlatOut. It only has 100 calories, but has 9g of protein & lots of fiber in each wrap. I gave each meal 3 wraps, cut in half.

Roasted Veggies with pipian sauce, Sweet potato stuffed tortillas and Mango-lime sorbet

Well here are the long ago promised recipes for my mexican cooking night.

First up I made Mushroom and Sweet Potato Stuffed Tortillas. I had found this recipe a few months ago looking for something to different to do with sweet potatoes. I made the first time with Shitakes and that was good, but expensive. Regular mushrooms worked just fine. Last time I added in some diced red peppers. This time I added some black beans (one can, rinsed and drained). It's a nice way to make something quesadilla-like without using cheese. I keep the filling for several days and just cook up a tortilla full when the kids need a snack.

Next was Roasted Mexican Veges in Green Sesame Pipian, taken from Rick Bayless' Mexican Kitchen, my favourite mexican cooking book. The sauce is a fair bit of work, but I enjoy making it, and it tastes great on a variety of non-vegan dishes too (salmon, chicken breasts, pork...). You can serve it as a side dish with rice, or as a filling for tacos, or even bake it topped with bread crumbs and/or cheese to make a gratin. I've read some short cuts for making a pipian sauce, and will write them in below. There are a lot of alternatives in this recipe. I used chard in the sauce this time, but think I prefer spinach. This year my epazote didn't come back in my herb garden, and I missed its flavour in the sauce too. Some year I'll find hoja santo and see what difference that makes to the mix.

Roasted Mexican Veges in Green Sesame Pipian
(feeds 4-6)

1 lb (~ 11) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2-3 serranos, stemmed (I halved this amount, but they turned out to be pretty hot)
4.5 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 cups broth or water (I used vege broth)
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup hulled sesame seeds
1 sprig epazote, or 8-10 sprigs cilantro (I used cilantro. My epazote bush had died.)
1 leaf hoja santa, or 1/2 cup chopped green tops of fennel, or 1/2 tsp freshly ground aniseed (I used fennel tops)
1 tsp salt
3 medium fresh cactus paddles (I used 2 extra chayote)
4 medium red-skin potatoes, 3/4" diced
1 large chayote, peeled, pitted, and 3/4" diced
2 medium zucchini, 3/4" diced
2 cups lamb quarters, or 3 cups purslane, or 3 cups chard in 1/2" strips, or 3 cups spinach (I used chard because I had some in my farm box. I'd recommend spinach for the faster cooking time over chard.)

Roast the tomatillos and serranos for 5 mins, 4" under a hot broiler, until they blister, darken, and soften on one side. Turn and roast the other side. Transfer along with juices into a blender. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook onion for 10 mins, stirring often, until golden. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 min. Add to blender and blend until smooth. Wipe skillet clean, add 1/2 Tbsp oil, heat on medium high. When hot enough for a drop of puree to sizzle, pour all the puree in at once and stir constantly for 5 mins until it darkens and thickens. Add the broth, boil, simmer briskly, stirring frequently, for 10 mins until thick enough to coat a spoon. Stir in cilantro. (You have made a tomatillo-serrano sauce. You can skip all of this and just buy a jar of green salsa and use 2.5 cups of it.)

In a small ungreased skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds for 5 mins, stirring often, until golden. Add to the tomatillo sauce, add epazote (or cilantro) and hoja santo (or its substitute). Partially cover and simmer for 30 mins, stirring frequently. Put back in the blender, cover loosely, and blend for 1 min or more until the sauce is smooth. You can use a mesh strainer if you want it even smoother. Return the sauce to the pan, season with salt (about 1 tsp), add more broth if needed to bring it to the consistency of a cream soup. (You can prepare the sauce up to this point and refrigerate several days ahead. You can use tahini instead of toasted sesame seeds to make things even faster.)

I'm skipping the instructions of what to do with the cactus because I always just use extra chayote. Cactus takes a long time. Heat the oven to 375F. Scatter the potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzled with 2 Tbsp of oil, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat the potatoes well. Roast for 10 mins. Sprinkle chayote with salt, add to potatoes, mix with spatula to turn potatoes and coat chayote with oil. Roast another 5 mins. Salt the zucchini, add to the mixture, and roast till everything is tender, but not overly soft, about 8-10 more mins.

Just before serving, reheat the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the lambs quarters, or equivalent and simmer until tender for 2-5 mins (chard took longer than that). Add roasted veges to the sauce, leaving behind as much oil as possible. Once heated, scoop onto a warm serving dish, sprinkle with sesame seeds, garnish with epazote or cilantro.

Finally, I made mango-lime sorbet, which is my favourite sorbet ever, from the same Bayless book. It's very easy if you have an icecream maker. I make this every summer - it came out a little too sweet this time, but it depends a lot on the ripeness of the mangoes you use.

Mango-lime ice

2.5 lbs mangoes (4 large), peeled, coarsely chopped - about 2 heaping cups
Finely chopped zest of 1 orange
1.25 cups sugar (Sorbets are sensitive to the amount of sugar you use, and the ripeness of the fruit. The mix always tastes sweeter than when it does when it's frozen. The batch I made could have gone with a little less sugar. The only way to do it properly is to have a refractometer to measure the sugar level of the mix. I will own one one day. Well I have one in lab, but it isn't really food safe!)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp vodka (not in original recipe, but I added because it lowers the freezing point of the mix and reduces the ice crystal size when you are using an icecream maker vs the other way to freeze it described below).

Use food processor to combine the ingredients plus 1 cup of water. Process to a smooth puree. If you want to, press through a strainer to make really smooth. (I never bother with this step.) If you have an icecream maker, pour it in and let it do its magic. If you don't, freeze in a stainless steel bowl or 9x9" pan, until the mixture is firm 2 inches in from the sides (about 2 hours). Whip with an immersion blender or process in a food processor until slushy. Repeat the freezing and beating two more times. Freeze for an hour before serving.

Beans and Kale and Gingered Lemon Bars

I know I still owe you last week's recipes. But this week is easy because both recipes are online already.

Cannellini Beans with Roasted Peppers and Kale is one of my fast, easy, yummy meals that I use for the Austin Mamas Red Tent group. I had already entered the recipe on our mamawiki. It originally comes from The Quick Recipe, a Cooks Illustrated cookbook. I usually serve it with crusty bread to soak up the juices (sorry I didn't get around to baking bread like I had planned to), and recently discovered it's pretty damn good served cold as well as served warm.

I found Gingered Lemon Bars on the Simply Recipes website a year or two ago and really liked how lemony they were and the nice kick of ginger in the crust from both powdered and crystallized ginger. I used that recipe for the crust, which I made vegan by just using Earth Balance instead of butter. The lemon filling was another story. I googled around for vegan recipes to see what people used instead of egg to help it set. It seemed the two main choices were silken tofu or agar agar. I had tofu, so that's the one I went with. I used this Vegan Lemon Bars recipe from Savvy Vegetarian to make my filing. It didn't set real well. Not sure if I just needed to cook it a little longer, or what. So sorry they were a bit gooey, but they taste good.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Moosewood Meals

We've been in the throes of busy-ness over here for the last few weeks so I have needed simple, one-dish type meals. The last two have come from Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites, a cookbook that I don't often remember I have. To be honest, I've hardly ever made anything from it before though I've had it for years (now, Moosewood Favorite Desserts is a different matter altogether). But I found some simple one-pot meals with a good amount of flavor. I appreciate the low-fat in them also during these hot summer days.

Last week I made black bean chilaquiles, a mix of black beans, veggies, spices and baked tortilla chips, not completely unlike a tamale pie, though I preferred it to the traditional tamale pie. I subbed crumbled tofu for the the cheese to keep in the protein. Sorry for sending the casseroles without lids; I believe David has misplaced them somewhere in the house.

This week's meal was Middle Eastern chickpeas and spinach, served over orzo with a yogurt sauce. Mostly, I tend to prefer simple one-dish meals and this one really fit the bill. I neglected to pick up some coriander while I was at the market, but the cumin and saffron were flavorful enough for me, even if it was mild. I think the yogurt/mint/garlic sauce pulled it together and actually made a creamy addition to the orzo. I fear this meal may not have been flavorful enough for everyone, but I'm the kind of person who could eat beans and rice most every day - simple simple and simple is usually my preference and what I find fuels me best.

I sent along organic watermelon with yesterday's meal. I think this was a particularly good melon and I am so glad I splurged on it at the farmer's market on Saturday!