Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gujerati Cabbage and Carrots with Red Lentil Dal over rice

Dear daughter and I have been hankering for some Indian food for a while, so tonight I made a simple meal. First I made the cabbage and carrots from a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey and let it sit at room temperature while DD made the Lebanese style rice and I made the dal.

About the rice - I don't have a real recipe for this - I just do what my mother-in-law did. She was a really fantastic Lebanese cook. All you really do is to replace some rice with pasta, either broken angel hair or fideos. Melt about a tablespoon of vegan margerine in a pan, toss in the pasta and saute until it turns golden brown. Be careful because you don't want it to burn at all. Then add the long grain rice and stir for a minute until each grain is coated with the margerine as if you were making risotto. Then add the water and salt, cover and cook as usual. This is pretty much the only way we eat rice - we never eat plain rice anymore.

Madhur Jaffrey's Gujerati Cabbage and Carrots

3/4 lb cabbage, shredded
3/4 lb carrots, shredded
1 fresh green chili, julienned or 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
2 Tbs vegetable oil (not olive)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs mustard seeds
1 whole dried red chili
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
4 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbs lemon juice

Heat oil in a 10" skillet that has a cover. Add garlic and red chili, then the mustard seeds, and stir to coat. Cover the skillet until the mustard seeds have mostly stopped popping. Uncover, add the cabbage and carrots and green chili (or red chili flakes), reduce heat to medium, and stir fry until tender-crisp. Add the salt, sugar and cilantro, stir well, and finally, add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Let sit for half an hour to combine flavors. This is good hot, room temperature, or cold.

Red Lentil Dal

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 med bay leaf
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 inch of ginger, peeled and grated or minced
1 tsp salt
1 C red lentils
3 C water

In saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for a minute or two, then add everything except the lentils and water, and saute until the onions are translucent and fragrant with the spices. Add the lentils and stir to mix well so that all the lentils are coated with the onions and spices. Add the water, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes until the lentils are soft and beginning to melt. Stir vigorously to help them melt a bit more. Taste for salt. Serve over rice.

Notes: I didn't use a grater for my carrots - I used a plain old vegetable peeler to peel strips of carrot. I think it made for a more attractive presentation, and it helped to keep the carrot nicely crunchy. I recently bought a tube of pureed ginger and used that in lentils. I think that this is an ok product in that it cuts down on spoilage, but it certainly doesn't have the fragrance, flavor or heat the fresh ginger does. I ended up using about 2 heaping tablespoons of the stuff. In future, I'll leave this product at the grocery store and take my chances with fresh ginger which tends to become shriveled in my vegetable drawer before I use it all. Even with that, I think that fresh ginger is a better deal.

Lima Bean Dip

Last weekend, some friends brought dinner over to my house and I was left with a lot of leftovers, including about 1 1/2 cups of southern style lima beans. Since dear daughter bemoaned the fact that we have absolutely NO dip left in the house last night, I decided to make a dip from the limas. Limas are really good for dips because they are quite mealy and soft, and because they firm when they are cooled. This is what I did this morning:

Lima Bean Dip

1 1/2 C cooked lima beans (or one can)
approx 1 Tbs minced onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp Tony Chacheres (or any spicy seasoning salt of your choice)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 C lemon juice
1/4 C olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In the food processor, I first finely minced a 1/2 inch slice of a very small onion which yielded about 1 Tbs of minced onion. Add the limas, garlic, seasoning salt, cumin and lemon juice to the bowl and process till smooth. Taste for seasonings and adjust salt and pepper. With processor running, drizzle olive oil through the feeder until you reach the consistency you want. I used about 1 1/2 Tbs.

This tastes really delicious. This afternoon, after the flavors meld, I'll taste it again and post any changes I may make.

Broiled Pears with Amaretto-Apple Dip

Tonight we ate leftover Tuscan White Bean Soup with garlic bread for dinner, but we really, really wanted a nice dessert. Tonight is my rehearsal night for I Cantori, so I just couldn't spend much time cooking, so I offered my daughter a piece of fruit for dessert. No go. She wanted something a little less simple. I decided to broil two bosc pears until almost carmelized and provide a dip. Oh boy, was this GOOD, and simple... and something that will lend itself to all kinds of variations. This one is going right into my recipe box.

Broiled Pears with Amaretto-Apple Dip

2 firm, but ripe, bosc pears, cut into eights lengthwise
2 Tbs cinnamon sugar
1/2 C vanilla soy yoghurt
1/4 C apple butter
2 Tbs amaretto

I used my toaster oven for this dish.

Lightly oil (or spray) a rimmed cooking sheet. Place the wedges of pear on the sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar. Broil until the tips of the pears begin to carmelize, about 20 - 30 minutes. While the pears are cooking, make the sauce. Stir together the yoghurt, apple butter and amaretto. Try not to eat it all before your family has a chance to taste it. Or, double the amounts and eat half right away while hiding in the pantry with the door closed and serve the other half to your family with the pears. Its THAT good!

Note: Obviously, this would work well with apples or bananas, but I think any stone fruit would be delicious as well, such as plums, apricots, nectarines, or even Georgia peaches! Pineapple slices broil extremely well as well. Any kind of preserves should be good with the yogurt for the dip. You could add toasted nuts to the dip, or sprinkle the broiled fruit with coconut.

Serves 2

Tuscan White Bean Soup

Sometimes you just want a nice soup with some garlic bread for dinner, don't you? I love soup - I could eat it every day. I had a few yellow crookneck squash sitting in my fridge, and I wanted soup, so I decided to make a white bean soup with them. Everything is cooked al dente, so that each spoonful bursts in your mouth with flavor. I just love this soup. Its even better with some vegan parmesan sprinkled over the top.

Tuscan White Bean Soup

2 C cooked or canned white beans (try cannelini beans - they are yummy!)
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 Tbs minced garlic
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil to saute
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 med zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
8 oz fresh mushrooms or 2 oz dried mushrooms, soaked
1 15 oz can of veggie broth
4 C water
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 C soup pasta, pre-cooked al dente

In 5 quart dutch oven, saute onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Add the celery and zucchini and saute till toasty. Season with salt and pepper and Herbes de Provence. Add mushrooms and saute till they have released their liquid, or, add dried mushrooms and reserve soaking liquid. Add the beans, tomatoes with their juice, bay leaf, and the veggie broth. Measure the mushroom soaking liquid and add water to make 4 cups. Simmer lightly for 20 minutes for flavors to develop. Taste for salt, pepper and seasoning.

You may cover and refrigerate at this point. To serve, bring to a simmer and drop in about 1 1/2 cups of pre-cooked soup pasta and heat through. Taste for seasonings. Serve with a splash of lemon juice, a sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese and garlic toast.

Notes: This is a very forgiving soup - you can use pretty much any combination of vegetables that you have, as long as you cook them al dente and you use a white bean, such as cannellini, great northern, or even navy beans. I think small green limas would be nice also, as well as borlotti or cranberry beans.

For dessert, we had broiled pears with amaretto-apple dip. I'll post that shortly.

Time: 40 minutes in total

Serves about 8

Hash Brown Scramble

This morning we were pretty hungry and wanted something really stick-to-your ribs good. After having a quick look in the fridge and pantry, I decided on some kind of hash browns. My mom always made homemade hash browns and I always do too, especially since they take just a couple of minutes to prep and taste so delicious!

Hash Brown Scramble

2 med sized russet potatoes, peeled, in 1/2 inch dice
2 small onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
1 12-oz box of extra firm MoriNu tofu, drained and crumbled
pinch tumeric
1/4 C chopped parsley
1 tsp Herbes to Provence
salt and pepper to taste OR use seasoning salt and herb mixtures of your choice

In a large fry pan, saute the potatoes in about 1 Tbs of oil for a couple of minutes while you chop the onions. When the onions are ready, toss them in, along with the minced garlic. Season with seasoning salt and pepper. Saute the onions for about five minutes until they are about halfway cooked (a sharp knife point will just pierce a potato cube, but still meet some resistance). Add in other veggies, if you are using them (see note below). Saute some more, adding another tablespoon of oil if necessary, or adding a bit of liquid like broth or water to keep everything from sticking. You want the potato and onion to be fully cooked and golden brown, but still retain its shape. A few minutes before the potatoes are perfect, add in the crumbled tofu, and stir well. Taste - you will probably need to add some more salt and pepper, and this is the time to add some herbs as well, like parsley and Herbes de Provence. Stir until the tofu and potatoes are dry - just a minute or two.

We made pita sandwiches out of this with some of the spicy black bean dip I made earlier in the week. This was a delicious combo which tasted very buttery, which is odd because there were no dairy products used at all. But it sure was yummy!

Notes: I wanted to make the tofu look slightly yellow, more like scrambled eggs, and I used way too much tumeric, as you can see from the photo. Next time, I might just use a pinch of tumeric mixed into the crumbled tofu before I add it to the potatoes, or I might just leave it au naturel. You can add lots of other veggies to this, like chopped celery or peppers. Occasionally my mom would add really good oil cured olives to hash browns, maybe about a dozen, which she pitted and chopped and believe me, there is NOTHING that tastes better than potatoes with olives! Some halved cherry tomatoes would also work well, as would some chopped zucchini or other summer type squash. I happen to be in love with three salty spice mixes: Soul Seasoning, Tony Chachere's and Cavender's Greek Seasoning - you may have your favorites, so use the flavors that YOU like. Instead of salt and pepper, I used about a tsp of Tony Chachere's.

This would be delicious with curry powder and peas!

Try this with cumin and chili powder, and then rolling it up in a tortilla with some salsa!

A note about frozen hash browns: Try dicing your own potatoes instead of spending a lot of money on these. It really doesn't take much more time, maybe about five minutes or so, and not only will you save a lot of money, but you will have superior nutrition and save all the added salt and sugar that are in most processed potato products. This is one case when the convenience food is not more convenient, IMHO.

Time from potato bin to mouth: 25 minutes

Roasted Veggies on the Side

Have you ever roasted veggies? They are really delish. In fact, I think roasting veggies are my most favorite way of preparing them. I don't really have a recipe for roasted veggies but this is what I do.

The size of the veggies is very important, because you want all your veggies to be ready at the same time. I quartered the small potatoes and cut larger potatoes in sixths. This balanced the cooking time of the baby carrots. Next I cut the yellow crookneck squash in about 2 inch chunks, since they cook quicker. I drizzled all with a good amount of olive oil - enough to coat each vegetable and to leave a tablespoon or two on the bottom of the pan. Then I sprinkled them with herbs, about a tablespoon (I like herbes de Provence for this), a tablespoon of minced garlic, and about a good teaspoon of seasoned salt (I use Soul Seasoning from Gold Medal). Toss well, and cook in a preheated 450F oven for about 30 minutes, tossing every ten minutes, until the veggies are all cooked through and beginning to carmelize. Pretty much any vegetable can be roasted: try broccoli (my personal fave), asparagus, brussels sprouts, string beans, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, any kind of squash or potato, mushrooms, parsnips, peppers.

What do you do with leftover roasted veggies? Well, other than just eating them because they are so darn GOOD, they make a wonderful frittata, especially if there are still a goodly number of potatoes. Also, take a page from Giada DiLaurentiis, who roasts veggies, then tosses them with pasta and dresses them with lots of olive oil and parmesan (use vegan parmesan - there are some really delicious ones out there nowadays) for the most delicious pasta primavera you will ever eat. I have made her omni recipe many times, and it gets rave reviews every time, especially at lunch at church. Here is her recipe:,,FOOD_9936_25693,00.html Roasted veggies make a wonderful soup, and they also taste very good chopped into a pot pie. But I never have enough leftovers to fool around with - we always eat them all up!

Caponata and Muffaletta

Caponata and Muffaletta....... Don't be afraid of the odd sounding names or the long list of ingredients. These are quick and easy to make, and so very delicious that they will become favorites in your house.

What is the difference, anyway? They are both delicious vegetable mixtures that are used as either a salad or a pickle, with Caponata being the Italian version and Muffaletta being the Cajun version. Caponata is cooked and always contains eggplant; muffaletta is marinated and always contains olives. I love them both and have two killer recipes.

This will be a splurge for us, but we haven't gone out to eat, not even to get McDonalds fries in weeks! We've been sooooo good about our food budget that I think we can handle the specialty items like artichoke hearts.... I'll decide which one I make after I go food shopping later on today, and will post a photo then.

So, what do you DO with these two zesty vegetable mixtures anyway? Well, certainly you can use them as a garnish for burgers and patties... I've put them on pizza! My daughter eats them as a dip, scooping huge mouthfuls out with pretzels.

But my favorite is as a sandwich filling. What you do is take a round loaf of bread and cut the top off. Pull out the insides so you have a bread bowl. Layer some caponata, then sliced vegan provolone cheese, sliced tomatoes, vegan cold cuts and baked tofu or seitan, then repeat. Put the lid on the bowl, wrap in aluminum foil, and bake in a slow oven for about 15 minutes so that everything is nice and hot and melty. Let sit for another 15 minutes (or until it reaches room temp, even). Then cut wedges and enjoy. Yum! Its also great mixed with pasta for a nice pasta salad.

1 C chopped green olives
1 C chopped celery
1 carrot, peeled and sliced very, very thin
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C chopped artichoke hearts
3 green onions sliced or 1/2 C minced sweet onion (like Vidalia)
1/4 C lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 C chopped black olives
1/2 C chopped pimentos
1/2 C chopped cauliflower florets
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbs capers
1 tsp Herbes de Provence, or equal parts of oregano, basil and thyme
1 tsp hot cajun seasoning like Tony Chachere's (E's favorite spice)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together well, cover tightly, and let marinate in the fridge at least overnight.

1 eggplant cut in 1/2 inch cubes (about 1.5 - 2 lbs)
3 med zucchini in 1/2 inch cubes
2 onions finely chopped
1 Tbs chopped garlic
3 stalks celery, sliced fine
2 green peppers, chopped
1/4 C olive oil
1/2 C chopped parsley, or 1 heaping Tbs dried
2 tsp dried basil
4 oz sliced mushrooms
1 lb Italian plum tomatoes or 1 lb crushed canned
3 Tbs red wine vinegar (or more to taste, up to 1/2 C even)
1 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 C raisins
1/4 C chopped green olives
1 tsp salt (more if you don't use anchovies)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C chopped black olives
2 Tbs capers (optional, but I love them)
1/4 C browned pine nuts or sunflower seeds

Saute first 12 ingredients together in the olive oil until soft and limp, about 15 minutes. Add in tomatoes and saute over med heat another 10-15 minutes. Stir in vinegar and remainder of ingredients except nuts and saute for 5 more minutes. Take off heat and let sit for several hours or overnight in the fridge to blend flavors. Stir nuts in last.

To cook in crockpot: Combine all ingredients up to and including the raisins in the crockpot and cook on low for 5 - 6 hours. Stir in the remaining ingredients and let sit for several hours or overnight in the fridge to blend flavors. Stir in nuts last.