Monday, January 31, 2011

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I made this for my father-in-law's birthday, but I'm going to use it to celebrate the end of the post every day month.

I think you could very comfortably halve this recipe; six young men bent on Dungeoning and Dragoning managed to eat only half, and eight adults had seconds and thirds and left something like two thirds of the cake. (I made a practice cake and a final cake. I am a paranoid baker.) It's a lot of cake.

(If you do halve the recipe, use a 6 inch springform. Reduce the baking time to 16 minutes.)

It's also basically the Ultimate Chocolate Cake over at cook's. It's not remotely good for you. It's really really rich. It's quite tasty.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Warm 8 eggs to room temperature. Grease the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom.

Melt one pound of 70% dark chocolate and 1/2 pound of unsalted butter. (I made this with Trader Joe's groceries and I made it with Green and Black's, Strauss butter and cream, and eggs from chickens that allegedly live better than I do. The latter cake was immeasurably better. Sorry.) Break or cut the chocolate and butter into 1 inch pieces, put in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave in 30 second bursts. Stir briefly between each burst. (Yes, you can do this in a double boiler. My mother swears by them. I always burn the chocolate. Sadness ensues.)

At the same time, break all of those freaking eggs into a bowl, and whip (hopefully with a machine) for five minutes, until doubled in volume. This means that one either has a standing mixer, or one does a lot of dancing and utensil switching. It kinda sucks.

When the chocolate is fully melted, give them one more burst of microwaves for good measure. Add 1/4 cup espresso or orange liqueur. (Or nothing.) Whisk melted chocolate and melted butter until they are completely combined. Add the whipped eggs in thirds, mixing throughly between each addition. Pour into springform pan and bang against a counter to smooth the top. Bake in preheated oven for 24 minutes. It won't look done- not even close to done- but look for the crackly surface you get on top of brownies. Let cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate overnight, covered.

Unmold a few hours before serving. (Or one hour.) The edges will need to be freed with a knife. The cake will need to be flipped over to remove the parchment paper and then flipped back. Center the cake on a nice plate and make ganache.

Melt 4 oz. chocolate and add 1/2 cup heavy cream. Mix throughly, perhaps with a dash of the flavoring in the cake. Spread on the surface of the cake quickly and let set.

Just before serving, sprinkle cake lightly with kosher salt. Slice into very thin pieces and eat.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


The original recipe was raw- it still lives somewhere on VegWeb. I read said recipe on Game Night after the initial round of Nuclear War left me with no viable population and a looseleaf notebook full of Cheyenne's recipes. I scanned it, but I was trying to memorize the entire notebook in one gulp, so my recollections are somewhat fuzzy. I know that there was lovingly homemade tomato juice and raw mushrooms and all sorts of vegetables that are never in season at the same time. This is a loose, loose adaptation. It's loose enough that I might make the actual recipe later and post that too.

Serves 3.

Get 16 oz. pureed tomatoes from some source. Blanch 1 cup cauliflower florets and 1 cup bite-sized kale until tender. Warm tomato puree, 1 can white beans (loose adaptation!), and 1 cup water, stock, or white wine. Mix the juice of one lemon, the juice of one orange, and 1/4 cup miso. Add orange mixture to soup. There's no need to heat the soup past your preferred temperature for consumption. Add chopped parsley and cilantro, and garnish with fresh pepper and olive oil.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Super Bowl Salad

C is sick- whimpering in his sleep, spouting deranged doggerel, I'm surreptitiously checking for the nearest urgent care clinic sick- so the only thing our kitchen should be producing is a.) soup and b.) things for the C's father birthday extravaganza. Be that as it may, I thought that I'd post this recipe before it becomes irrelevant.

A has been complaining that all of my sliced things on plates salads contain ingredients that aren't available on island paradises. This may be true- I believe that after 2000 years of eating mostly poi, native Hawaiians are having no truck with dishes of questionable palatability.

I present The Super Bowl Salad: made entirely with things that are available in Hawaii!

It is green and gold to extort the gods to follow the side of righteousness, and it's... good for... people who want to celebrate. Together.

Or, you know, curse fate.

It's also a pretty good flavor combination- it might be better with a sliced red bell pepper, but they're $4 a pound right now.

Cut off the top, bottom, and skin of a ripe pineapple. You can tell that the pineapple is ripe because the innermost leaves are easily removed and the base smells like ripe pineapple. Cut half the pineapple into 1/4 inch thick slices and then into wedges. If there are any pineapple eyes in your slices, remove them mercilessly. Cut a cucumber into 1/4 inch slices. If the skin has been waxed, you may want to peel it first. Arrange the cucumber and pineapple slices on a plate. Dress with a dash of lime juice, a sprinkle of salt, and some chopped mint. Eat.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tom Kha Het: Spicy Thai-style Coconut Soup

There was a (embarassingly prolonged) period of my life where my wisdom teeth had opinions. Eventually, I had these dogmatic dentiles removed, and my life became much more pleasant.

Before I was wise enough to submit to minor surgery, my teeth would occasionally become infected. It was then impossible to eat anything other than soup- and being young, foolish, and overly concerned with my figure, I ate very little of that. I should note that I have a terrible temper when I'm hungry.

Thus, C got into the habit of bringing along a take-out bucket of this soup to every date. I envision him throwing it through the door before he enters my apartment.

Anyways: earlier this month, a friend from college sent me a bag of Kaffir lime leaves. The farmer's market sells fat bundles of lemongrass for a dollar, and I occasionally fall prey to the deal. Galangal is apparently essential to the flavor, but none leapt into my path and I did not know how important it was until my soup was already made and eaten.

Mix 4 cups stock with 1 16 oz. can coconut milk and 1 tsp brown sugar. Cut one stalk lemongrass into 1 inch lengths. Make several tears in a Kaffir lime leaf, leaving the center vein intact. Thinly slice pennies off of a 1 inch section of ginger or galangal. Measure out a reasonable amount of pepper flakes or chopped fresh pepper (1/2 tsp, 1 tbs.) Put all of the above ingredients into a pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

Slice and add 2-3 cups of vegetables to the broth. I personally like cabbage and mushrooms- any sort of mushrooms- but you might like sweet potatoes, carrots, thinly sliced tofu, or onion. In the summer, you might like those wonderful vegetables I try not to think about this time of year. Simmer until vegetables are tender.

Now you must "correct the seasoning". One could use fish sauce for a pleasant glutamate flavor, or one could use Braggs- 1-2 tsp of both. The juice of one or more limes is essential, as is a quantity of coarsely chopped cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste. Eat.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Udon with Mushrooms

This is a very simple and quick meal- I served it with quick steamed broccoli.

Put a medium pot of water on to boil. Cook one bundle udon in the water until al dente and drain. Dress noodles with a few drops of sesame oil. Peel and dice an onion. Saute in 1 tbs. oil until translucent. Add ten sliced mushrooms (I used button, but -5 shiitake would be good. I think the original recipe was all about Crimini.) and fry until browned. Add the noodles, 1 tbs. soy sauce, and 1 tbs. mirin (or white wine). Fry for about a minute, until uniformly warm. Eat.

Make quick steamed vegetables by washing the vegetable, placing it in a microwave safe bowl, covering the top of the bowl with saran wrap, and microwaving it for three minutes. There.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese

Look at that. Three decidedly non-vegan recipes in a row. It's like I'm in a slump. A fridge-full-of-cabbage,-beets,-and-unidentified-mustard-greens slump.

Boil 1/2 pound of pasta. I prefer penne, and honestly, if you're going to make mac n' cheese, go ahead and use the white flour pasta. Why skimp on comfort food?

Make a roux from 2 tbs. white flour and 2 tbs butter in a heavy pan. Stir constantly over medium heat until blonde, and then add 1 tbs. good mustard. Immediately add 1 cup white wine and whisk to mix.

I usually add 2 slices bacon, fried and crumbled, and 1 onion, chopped and sauteed. Then add 1 cup grated cheese- usually odds and ends- I use the bits where I have to cut the mold off.

Mix the cooked pasta and the cheese sauce. Put into oven safe dish. Top with 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Rest assured, I have ideas for vegan dishes. Unfortunately, I got them after 10 pm. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts

I said earlier that chestnuts were unreasonably good- I wanted to make something else with them. I bought them for Christmas and let them languish in the fridge for an extended period. I recommend against this; they got quite dry and difficult to peel.

I expect that almonds would be an acceptable substitute. They'd be sweet and crunchy instead of sweet and creamy, but we can't have everything. Bacon could be omitted, if you are not the sort of vegan who eats bacon. Serves 2.

Cut crosses in the shells of 8 chestnuts (or all of the chestnuts you have, because honestly, this is the only way to prepare them) and roast them at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Let cool, and then remove the shell and inner skin. Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices.

Cut 1 slice bacon into tiny bits and fry it until crisp. Remove the tough ends and outer leaves from 16 odd Brussels sprouts. Slice them in half.

Fry the Brussels sprouts and chestnuts in the reserved bacon fat over medium high heat for 3 minutes. (You may want to add a little bit of water to the pan and let it cook until it evaporates). Add the bacon and cook for another minute.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Fennel and Orange Salad

It’s chopped vegetables in a bowl. I’m diversifying.

Cut the peel off of two oranges and slice them into rounds. Core and thinly slice ½ of a fennel bulb. Sam adds avocado to this salad, and Sam knows his stuff, so go ahead and add one sliced avocado. Dress with a healthy pinch of salt and the juice of ½ lemon.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

First Gyoza Attempt

I bought a million wrappers, filled them with fried mushrooms, and sealed them with water. Then I steamed them in the rice cooker and dipped them into rice vinegar and mirin.

So difficult!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cheesy Pasta Casserole

There's a point in January where the six kinds of Brassica oleracea in the fridge begin to seem wearing. At this point, one might be tempted to go on an imported non-seasonal food binge. This usually ends in tears- bland, insipid, flavorless tears. I find the best cures to be deep breaths, soothing thoughts, citrus fruits, sugar snap peas, and casseroles based on cheese and pasta.

Boil one pound of penne- whole wheat is fine. Dump it into an oven safe container. Saute 12 sliced button mushrooms and 1 chopped onion in 1 tbs. oil for about 10 minutes. Add to the casserole dish along with 1 cup of frozen peas.

Grate about 1/4 pound of mild cheese- jack or mozzarella is good- which will turn into about a cup of grated cheese. Put 2 tbs. flour and 2 tbs. butter or oil into a heavy pot. Heat gently, stirring to combine, until flour smells a little bit like toast and is slightly golden. Grate in a couple of cloves of garlic, using the small side of the grater. Slowly add 1 and 1/2 cups of milk or white wine, whisking to combine. When liquid is about the temperature of hot coffee, add cheese little by little, whisking constantly. Pour complete cheese sauce over pasta and vegetables. Stir to mix. Cover container, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I'm a firm believer that eating lots of vegetables is important enough to justify occasionally drizzling (blanketing) them with cheese sauce. C is a firm believer that pasta and cheese are the best flavor friends ever.

The complete plate is to justify my not-very-healthy recipe. Please note the Chileanish cabbage salad and the color swapped beet and orange salad.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Roasted Potatoes and Onions

This is a "set it and forget it" dish, except that what you set is a hot oven. Please do not forget that you have chained fire inside a box. You should totally cook this when your house is unseasonably cold, faithful readers who either do not currently possess a stove or live in Hawaii. We're 2/3 through a NaBloPoMo. Cut me some slack.

Generously oil a cookie sheet or 11x13 pan. Wash and cut 3 pounds of non-Russet potatoes (I threw in some sweet potatoes, because I buy them compulsively.) into chunks that are coincidentally about half the size of a baby potato. Dump into the pan. Cut one large onion into 1/4 inch thick slices and dump on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. sugar.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about an hour, or until the potatoes are tender and the onions are really really tasty. Eat.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter Squash Salad

This is what I did with the other half of the winter squash from the oden recipe. This one was better. Well, C and the dinner guest were not super fans, but they don't count. It was pretty good.

Halve and clean a winter squash. Slice it into thin strips, leaving on the skin for cohesion purposes. Boil in ample water for 5-10 minutes- until fork tender. Drain and season with 2 tsp soy sauce and 7 drops sesame oil. Sprinkle with 2 tsp. sesame seeds.

You could add a little mirin or a little sugar, if you so desired. It depends on how sweet your squash is.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Avocado Dressing

This is the other stuff that I ate tonight- after a month without farmer's markets, my last visit resulted in so much produce that every meal must include at least one bowl of greens.

Even breakfast.

Oh, it's the most wonderful time of the year: peewee avocado season. Itty-bitty avocados are now $1 a pound- that's a buck for like six! After one has exhausted all reasonable recipes for avocados, one becomes... creative.

This is good enough to make if you don't live in the tiny part of the world with peewee avocados. It's pretty tasty on salad, broccoli, lentils, artichokes, sandwiches, lots of things that aren't actually vegan.... It's like super double good mayonnaise with an avocado base instead of eggs.

Peel one clove garlic. Remove the bottom of the bulb. Drop into a food processor with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 cup olive oil, the juice of two lemons, and one peeled and pitted avocado (or two peewee avocados). Blend until smooth. Eat.

This will stay emulsified overnight- I'm not sure how it'd do after 24 hours, because it never lasts that long.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lentils with a Poached Egg: What I Eat When I Eat Alone.

Here "alone" means "alone, inside, with access to a kitchen and really good eggs".

It's green lentils, boiled until mushy. They are drained and sprinkled with too much salt. (I'm a Saggitarius, and the only scientifically proven trait in all astrology is that Saggitarius, Scorpio, and Capricorn have a marked affinity for salty foods. {Study done in temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere.} I will continue oversalting until my blood pressure stops giving me a free ride.) I poach the kind of egg that has cheddar-yellow yolks and break it over the lentils. Then I eat it. It's pretty complex.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Apple Pie

There's a period of the year where apples are uniformly fantastic. This is followed by a period where apples are unevenly fantastic. I feel that there's no reason to eat mediocre fruit, so these sub-par apples kick around the kitchen, growing wrinklier and sadder, until C throws some of them into the green waste. At this point, I'm overcome by food wasting guilt; I fish them out and make a pie.

Important pie tips: use all of the weird apples you own. It may seem like too many apples, and the pie absurd in proportion, but apples shrink, and piling the pie high (stealth Clinton reference) gives you the classic "Warner Brothers" pie form. This means that when breaking the pie dough in half, allocate slightly more dough for the top crust.

Make some pie dough. (There's a more traditional- and slightly better- recipe in the comments.) Peel and core sevenish apples and slice them up. Pile them into a pie pan lined with dough. Sprinkle with the juice of one lemon, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp corn starch, and 1/4 cup raisins. (You may be anti-raisin, in which case they can be safely omitted.) Cover the pie with the dough for the upper crust and seal the edges. Cut vents- either slashes with a knife or pretty shapes with a cookie cutter. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes- or until golden brown.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Winter Squash Oden

See? See? Winter squash. For A.

I believe that the colloquial name for this is "hot pot". Like many squash dishes, it has an unexpected stick-to-your-ribs quality.

Take one kobucha or other thick skinned winter squash. Hack it in half and scrape out the seeds. Cut half into 1 inch square pieces. (Leave the skin on.) Place squash chunks in a large pot, skin side down.

Put the other half squash in the fridge. I'll have to come up with a way to serve it later.

Add 1 and 1/2 cups dashi or broth or water, 2 tbs. soy sauce, 1 tbs. mirin, and 1 tbs sugar to the pot. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes, uncovered. Add 2 cups cabbage chunks and/or daikon discs. Simmer for five more minutes.

You could add a dozen gyoza with the cabbage, because you're an adult now. There's no reason not to have potstickers for dinner once a week.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cauliflower Fritters: All Brassicaceae all the time.

Aaron suggested a similar recipe from Jaime Oliver- I wanted to see if it could be adapted for the single botanical family series. I had... a fair amount of success, although I basically threw in the towel from the first.

Cut 1 cup of florets- about 1/4 of a large head of cauliflower. Thin 2 tbs. mustard with water until it has the consistency of heavy cream. (This is the first time I admitted defeat. I used honey mustard- and there's vinegar in prepared mustard. It might be better with a little bit more mustard powder- or some wasabi) Start to heat an inch and a half of canola oil in a small heavy pot. This is about... a cup?

Please note your three Brassica species: cauliflower, rapeseed, and mustard. (I included a quartered Brussels sprout as a test. It was pretty good. It's also technically the same species as cauliflower.)

Wait until the oil is 180 degrees F. Drop 1/3 cup florets into the mustard sauce, stir briefly, and let drain for a couple of seconds. I dredged them in flour here- resulting in further failure on the single family front, leaving really tasty crispy bits all over the pan, and not creating a delightful tempura crust at all. Drop the breaded or unbreaded cauliflower into the pan and deep fry for about a minute. Remove with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice and eat while hot. (Lemon juice is another failure.) Repeat this paragraph with the last two batches of cauliflower.

So crispy! So oily! It tastes like fried things and glucosinolates! Hurrah!

Yes, fine, squashes tomorrow.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Raw Kale Salad

Now that I'm moving away from my hometown, I can share this recipe without fear of reprisal.

Stem and wash one bunch of tender crisp kale. (Soaking the kale in cold water can restore crispiness.) Tear into bite sized pieces.

Grate one small beet.

Toast 2 tbs. sesame seeds.

Mix the juice from three lemons, 2 tbs soy sauce, and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast. (This is not a low sodium dish.)

Pour the sauce over the beets. Add the kale and sesame seeds and stir. Eat.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Annapurna Dal

It looks like baby poop. I should learn how to take decent photos.

This soup is named for the restaurant in Nevada City, not the mountain. The secret is using dried baby garbanzo beans- although I suppose you could use red or yellow lentils.

Serves 2.

Take one cup of the chosen legume. Simmer with three cups water until soft (45 minutes). Crush with a food processor or potato masher (or a fork).

While the garbanzitos are cooking, dice one onion. Saute at very low heat in 1 tbs safflower oil until caramelized. Add 1 tsp cumin seeds (or 1/2 tsp ground cumin) and briefly increase the heat in order to toast the spices.

Mix the caramelized onions and the legumes. Salt to taste. Eat.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Straight Up Green Salad and Dressing

I may think of lettuce as an extravagance, but somehow I keep pushing recipes that involve it. I figured it was time to bite the bullet and present a green salad, straight up.

Yes, fine, I was out of other photos.

I like bitter greens in my salads- as previously stated- and good tomatoes (this time of year, your best bet is either a time machine or cherry tomatoes) and red onions and cucumbers and definitely definitely lots of avocado. You might like other things- you are wrong.

Make sure that the lettuce you use is very crisp and not wilted or spoiled. If the lettuce is bad, make a salad without lettuce. It's an easy solution. Make sure to dry the lettuce well after washing it so that the dressing sticks properly.

I suggest making a quick salad dressing with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 lemon juice or rice vinegar, and about 1/4 teaspoon non-yellow mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste and blend throughly. Dress the salad just before serving.

Wooo, green salad.

If someone gives you very fancy balsamic vinegar or very fancy oil and you don't know what to do with it, make a salad of the crispest prettiest greens you can find. Wash them, dry them, tear them into bite sized pieces, and resist the urge to add a tomato to the bowl. Dress with a few drops of the vinegar and a few more drops of the oil- though if all you have is good oil, feel free to use a very little bit of lemon juice. If all you have is incredibly awesome aged balsamic vinegar, spring for a tiny bottle of very good olive or nut oil. Otherwise, send the unwanted condiments to me as tribute.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chopped Salad

Oh man, this was beautiful. Unfortunately we had lots of guests and I was too distracted to take a picture. Then it was all et up. Expect a halfway decent picture the next time I have an excuses post.

Cook 1/4 pound golden beets. (Red beets will stain all of the other ingredients.) Peel and slice into attractive wedges. Blanch 1/4 pound tasty carrots and slice into rounds. Add one peeled and chopped cucumber. I also added one fennel bulb, one Fuji apple, and one red bell pepper. This made a lot of salad, and the ingredients were somewhat muddled. I'd keep it simpler- swap things in and out as it pleases you.

Make a dressing from the juice of two lemons, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp. mustard (not yellow mustard,), 1 chopped shallot or 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Dress the chopped ingredients. Allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes. (Why yes, that is a great deal of dressing. Add it anyways.)

Fine crisp salad greens like romaine or radicchio or endive. (Maybe a little more on the romaine side if you are not a fan of bitter things. Or if you married a non-fan.) Wash and dry them. Just before serving the salad, chop the leaves finely. Serve the dressed vegetables on a bed of chopped greens- it's very tasty. Eat.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chilean Avocado Salad

I'm at a conference, so my posts will be... to the point [and guest posted! - ed]. Also, here A. A salad for the tropics.

Take one perfect avocado. Peel, deseed, slice, and fan out on a plate. Sprinkle with salt. Serve with bread. Think giant ground sloth thoughts.

The salad in the picture has toasted sesame seeds (because avocado and sesame are friends) and chopped cilantro and probably a little bit of Meyer lemon juice. I make everything Californian.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Soy Sauce

My family is of Central European ancestry, so we really like crucifers- everyone who didn't died or moved away millenea ago. Brussels sprouts are at their best this time of year. We traditionally eat them steamed until almost mushy, with a dot of butter on each half. Here's a less depressing recipe:

Remove the ends and the tough outer leaves from a pound of Brussels sprouts. (I admit this is a lot of vegetables. Feel free to halve the recipe.) Cut them in half. Saute over medium high heat in 2 tbs oil. After cooking for about three minutes, sprinkle 1 tbs soy sauce over the sprouts. Cook for two more minutes, or until they are done enough for you to consider eating them. Eat.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

French Lentil Salad with Endive

It's the time of year when my mother eats strange things at strange times. The happy advantage is that there's someone else in the house who will eat lentils.

Take one cup French lentils. Cover them with water and add a bay leaf. Simmer until tender (45 minutes). Make a vinaigrette with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice or rice vinegar, one chopped, pressed, or grated clove of garlic, and salt to taste. Mix lentils and vinaigrette. If you like, add 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, rinsed and dried and 2 tbs. chopped parsley.

Serve with Belgian endive leaves as cracker type things.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Simple Sunchoke Soup- Bad Idea Fridays

I'll get to how this is a bad idea later. Serves 2.

Peel and slice 1/4 pound sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes) into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Simmer in two cups salted water until soft. Puree. Reheat and serve warm.

You can see that I served mine with half of a tiny steamed artichoke, a drizzle of safflower oil, and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds. That's right- every single part of this dish is from the Asteraceae.

I am unhealthily obsessed with dishes where all organic ingredients (the definition where the opposite is inorganic, not the one where it's conventional) derive from a single botanical family. I like how chemical compounds found throughout the family reinforce each other and interact in new and different ways. Also, I spend a lot of time driving in cars full of botanists; after you've played the alphabet genus game, there needs to be one more icebreaker game before you start talking about how awesome your cat is.

What sort of inspired interplay of flavors can one expect from this soup? Well, there's a crapton of inulin- a polysaccharide that human bodies are confused by, but beneficial intestinal bacteria love. Somehow this makes members of the Asteraceae oddly filling. To quote the typically insatiable C post-sunchoke soup, "Huh. Somehow, I don't really want to eat anything more." *

*This is not like my homemade bread. I swear it's edible. Tasty even.

There's also that distinctive sunflowery terpenoid that I can't find the name for- but when you have to identify a plant from one juvenile leaf, knowing this scent is a distinct advantage. Aspiring botanists should sniff all the ingredients for the soup.

There are also wonderful bitter alkaloids, although this soup lacks them. C prevented me from adding endive, escarole, and assorted other lettuces. Some people like a subtle flavor of gardens gone to bolt in their soup. Some people do not. The latter sort of people should not body check the former away from the stove. One has to get one's terrible ideas from somewhere.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Turkish Lentil Soup

This is part of my on going effort to cook less than three cups of legumes at once. It's easier with lentils because they take half an hour to cook.

Serves 3- and it's better on the second day, honestly.

Chop one onion (or two, if you want) and one carrot. (or two, if you want) Saute in 1 tsp oil until translucenty- 3-4 minutes.

Crush 5 cloves garlic with great force and mash with several pinches of salt.

Add 1 tsp each cumin, coriander, and cinnamon to the onions and carrots. (If you get confused and start adding all of the spices you own that start with C, consider chili and cumin.) Stir. Add the garlic mixture. Stir. Cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add either two chopped tomatoes, 2 tbs tomato paste (if you are the sort of person with open tomato paste in your fridge) or 1/4 cup canned tomatoes, crushed.

Add 1 tbs sugar.

Add 1/2 cup lentils. (I use green lentils {actually mud colored}, but I think French lentils are more authentic. The cooking time will increase to 45 minutes.) Stir rapidly, and then add 4 cups of water or broth.

Simmer for 30 odd minutes, until the lentils have started to come apart in the soup.

Garnish with cilantro and eat.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Vegan Putanesca Pasta

Yes, there are perfectly good pasta sauces that come in jars. No, this one is not markedly better. Yes, I love anchovies and using them would be within the theme of this blog. It's just that half full containers of anchovies tend to molder in my fridge, and eating more than two or three a week is... intense. Also, everyone should have the recipe for whore sauce up their sleeve. (It's a good way to cover the taste of canned tomatoes. Also, if cats eat it they act amusingly unhappy.)

Serves three.

Start boiling water for pasta. Do not start cooking the sauce until the water is boiling.

Peel and coarsely chop six cloves of garlic. Chop 1/2 cup Kalamata olives and 1/2 cup Italian parsley. (If you were using anchovies, you'd soak two in water for five minutes and then chop them as well.)

When you've finished your onerous chopping duties, saute garlic and 1 tsp chile flakes in 1 tbs olive oil until the garlic is blond. (about one minute) Add the olives and 1 tbs. capers. (Or the anchovies.) Stir, and then add a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes. Simmer for around five minutes- about the amount of time it takes to cook 1/2 pound vermicelli al dente. Add the chopped parsley to the sauce and serve over the pasta.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Orange and Jicima Salad

During my quasi-vacation, I researched lots of recipes, cooked lots of food, and took shoddy photos of the things that I cooked. I thought that was a wise way to spend my time, but today's experiences suggest that I should have been clawing my way up cliffs instead. I am dog tired- please enjoy another "sliced things on plates" salad.

Slice one small jicima. (about the size of a large apple) Alice Waters says to slice it into matchsticks, but what does she know? Make the slices as thin as you can be bothered to. Section two oranges- it is vitally important that the oranges be very good oranges. If they are not, put some lime juice and salt on the jicima and call it a day. Arrange the oranges and jicima on a plate. Dress with orange juice from the sectioning, the juice of 1/2 lemon, olive oil, salt, cumin, and... what is that, cilantro? Yeah. Put some cilantro on there. Eat.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Porotos Granados- Hideously Californicated

The bread is most essential.

This is a traditional Chilean summer dish. Or it would be, if I were using fresh cranberry beans instead of dry red beans. And if the corn were not sweet corn and there were less of it. And if the squash were more cooked. And if the tomatoes were not canned and not in the stew but sliced on a plate next to it. And if I didn't include paprika- it's too spicy.

To quote C precisely, "It's nothing like the stew I grew up with, but if you kept making it forever, I would be happy." It's very hearty- it straight up sticks to your ribs. I figure some of my imaginary readers are looking for something that will make them feel full and also warm.

The next set of instructions is for people who still have problems with not cooking their own beans. Feel free to skip this and use two fifteen ounce cans of unseasoned small red beans and two cups of water. (or pinto beans)

Take two cups small red beans and simmer them in 6 cups of water for about two hours. Add water if necessary. When the beans are almost tender, carry on with the recipe.

Slice, seed, and peel about two cups of winter squash. (They do sell the prepared squash in the frozen section now, if you don't have a half squash moping around the fridge.) Simmer with the beans (and a bay leaf) until the squash is fully cooked and on its way to disintegration.

Slice 1/2 onion and saute in oil until tender. Add 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1 cup corn. Saute briefly- until the corn is coated with spices. Add to the beans with a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes. Simmer for about 15 minutes- the texture should be something like chili, so add water if needed. (Or steal the broth with a spoon and wander around sipping a mug of bean juice.) Eat with lots of bread. No, more bread than that.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Kale Gomae

Gomae is traditionally made with spinach, but I don't like spinach. C doesn't like kale, but he was born to suffer.

Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Wash and stem one bunch of dinosaur kale. (I think pretty much any kind of kale would work, though purple kale might be strange.) When the water is boiling, cook the kale until tender- 2-5 minutes. (Frequent tasting is necessary. Also, this is possibly a waste of very delicate kale. Make tabouli.) Drain the kale and rinse with cold water to cool. Squeeze out the water, leaving the kale in ever so appetizing green wads. Cut wads into half inch slices.

Toast 3 tbs sesame seeds over medium heat. Reserve 1 tbs and crush the rest lightly with a spoon. Mix 1/2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp water, 2 tbs soy sauce, and 1 tbs mirin until the sugar dissolves. (If you don't have mirin, add a full tsp of sugar and an extra tsp of water or white wine or sake.) Add crushed sesame seeds and mix with kale. Arrange dressed kale on plates and garnish with remaining sesame seeds. Add two drops of toasted sesame seed oil to each plate. Eat.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vegan Cranberry-Orange Muffins- Bad Idea Saturday

C and I roshamboed for who got to be the DD last night, and I lost. You know what everyone loves? Hungover baking. I was gonna replace the egg in these simple and tasty muffins with ground flax seed and water, (1 tbs ground flax seed, 3 tbs water) but our food processor doesn't handle tiny amounts and I couldn't find the coffee grinder. Attempts to grind seeds by whacking them with a spoon proved ineffective. After using up my January quotient of expletives, I used egg as an egg substitute. Please try it properly and get back to me.

Makes 12.

Mix 1 cup white flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, one teaspoon baking soda, and two teaspoons baking powder. (Seems like a lot of leavening, but then *you* won't be getting lifting power from the egg.) Add 1 and 1/2 cups fresh cranberries and pretty much the entire zest of one orange. Stir.

In another bowl, mix 1 cup sugar, 1 cup orange juice, 1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute, a dash of vanilla, and 1/2 cup vegetable oil. (I think the mention of 1/2 cup oil is a sign that the recipe used to contain butter.) Stir.

Mix the contents of the two bowls until all the dry ingredients are moist- and no further. Gluten should stay inside the flour particles when muffins are concerned. Measure into a muffin tin filled with those cute little papers. If you don't have cute little papers, the cranberries will stick to the pan something fierce. Of course, by the time they need washing, you'll have some muffins and orange juice in your stomach, and the world will not seem quite so unpleasant.

Bake at 375 degrees for twenty minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test. C said that they're better when they're a little bit burned, but C wanted to survive the morning.