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Seat-of-the-pants-curry

One night, I decided that I was going to make a curry.  I didn’t feel like looking up any kind of recipe for a starting point because curries vary so much and I didn’t want to sift through hundreds of potential recipes to find one that sounded good.  So I decided just to wing-it.  It didn’t turn out too bad all things considered.

Like with my stir-fries, I just grabbed a bunch of veggies that looked good together and chopped up what looked like a decent quantity.  In this iteration there were: carrots, broccoli, leeks, peppers, and red onions.

I love colorful veggies.

In several small batches, I did a quick sear on them, i.e. stir-fried them.  Once they were all done, I put everything back into the pan and started to build up my curry sauce.

This is the stuff that looked like it should go into a curry.

For the amount of veggies that I had, I needed two cans of coconut milk to get enough of a sauce base going.  I didn’t want to thin it down with water.  I then added the whole jar of red curry paste, but that didn’t seem to do a whole lot.  Especially after I added a bit of lime juice to it.  I finally started to add the garam masala.  That was the magic I was looking for.  Next time I do this, I’m just going to avoid the curry paste and straight to the good stuff.  I did throw in a bit of salt because it tasted like it needed some.  When I was finally happy with the flavors, I let it simmer for a couple of extra minutes just to make sure that everything was still working.  I wasn’t 100% happy with the flavor, but for a blind first attempt it was good.  Of course, I served it with rice.

But it looks really good.

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Guacamole, Terry-Style

Okay, the title sounds more avant garde than the dish is, but we all need an ego stroke occasionally.  Like I said in a previous post, my gold-standard of guacamole is the stuff I scarfed down at Sabor Latino.  I really don’t have a specific recipe, which I’m a bit proud of.  At least with this dish, I’ve moved into the realm of Grandma level cooking!

Ingredients:

  • 6 ripe Avocados
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 small Tomatoes, seeded and medium dice
  • small handful Cilantro coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 of a small Onion, fine dice
  • 2 cloves minced Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cut the avocados in half, twist to separate, and pop out the seed.  Scoop the avocado out of the skin with a spoon and into a bowl, then mash it up to a creamy, but slightly chunky consistency with a fork.  Immediately add the juice of the lime and mix thoroughly.  This is to keep the avocado from turning brown.  Add the tomato, cilantro, onion, and garlic.  Mix thoroughly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Feel free to adjust the ratios to your preference.

The tastiest green slime you will ever eat!

The haggis that broke the Scot’s back.

Ok, two quick things:  a) I won’t bother explaining how I got from the Bad Astronomy blog to finding a vegetarian recipe for haggis, but trust me, it was a logical progression even though a bit convoluted.  b)  This is, I believe, my first full blown rant!  Yeah!

I want to say up front that I have absolutely no issue with vegetarians, vegans, (most of) their dishes, etc.  I know quite a few people who fall under the umbrella title of vegetarian and many of them are good friends.  I also enjoy many, many dishes that have no animal products in them whatsoever.  Again this is not what the rant is about.  It is specifically (and only) about what some people choose to call certain vegetarian dishes.

Like I pointed out earlier, I stumbled across a recipe for vegetarian haggis.  What the hell is it with some people having to twist and bend and who knows what else to a recipe to make it into something that it is clearly not and will never be!  I can get behind a veggie burger because here “burger” denotes a shape and style of cooking.  Yes, it clearly derives from a hamburger, which is meat.  But if you just say “burger” to anyone around you, they will automatically assume most of the following three things: 1) something in the shape of a patty, 2) something that is either fried or grilled, and 3) something that is made of meat or meat-substitute.  Even if they automatically go to meat, by saying veggie burger, they know it is not beef, much like the qualifier of bison, ostrich, venison, or whatever else you are making the burger out of.  Two out of the three assumptions have nothing to do with the actual content of the burger.  Hence in my rosy world, it’s fine.  I’m usually ok with the “vegetarian” meatloafs, but I can get cranky about that if I’m not in a decent mood to begin with.  Tofu is by far the biggest violator of pretending to be something that it is not.  Seriously, what the @*^%$^ is tofu bacon???  (I’ve got the same issue with turkey bacon, I’m just singling out tofu here because this rant is about misnamed vegetarian products).  Instead of forcing tofu into whatever meat you desire, why can’t you just celebrate tofu for the wonderful ingredient that it is.  Just to give one example, it adds texture and body to a very large percentage of Asian dishes all on its own merits.  Are there that many vegetarians yearning to have some form of meat in their diet that they have to manufacture fake meat?  You don’t see omnivores going around saying, “You know, with a bit seasoning, I bet I could make this steak taste like a great Greek salad.”  So back to what initially set me off, haggis.  Using the quasi-rubric that I set up with burgers, the only assumption that has nothing to do with meat is the shape.  ALL of it’s primary ingredients are offal!  It’s COOKED inside of a stomach!  How can you possibly turn that into something vegetarian?  Oh, wait, someone did!  Well, they did only in name.  BECAUSE IT’S A *%*&#$%^ HOTDISH!!!  (or if you prefer, casserole).

There is an unbelievable amount of vegetarian dishes out in the world that taste great without even coming close to faking some kind of meat.  So why don’t these people venture outside of their “comfort zone” and try some Asian, or Indian, or Mexican, or whatever type of cuisine you want because they ALL have some purely vegetarian dishes!

Just to leave on a happy note, here is Alton Brown’s haggis recipe.

Categories: rant, vegan Tags:

What’s better on a cold winter day than soup?

A favorite soup around here is butternut squash soup.  While digging through my back issues of Cook’s Illustrated (Sept / Oct 2011), I came across one that had a recipe for it, so I just couldn’t resist giving it a try.

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2″ chunks
  • 2 Tbs Butter
  • 1 Leek, white and light green parts only.  Quartered lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 cups Veggie Broth
  • 1-2 C Water
  • 1 Tbs Thyme
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper
  • Sour Cream

Put all of this into a pot and you magically have soup!

Place the squash in a bowl, cover, and microwave until a paring knife easily slides through, 14-18 minutes.  Stir halfway through.  Transfer the squash to a colander set in a bowl, drain for 5 minutes and reserve the liquid.  Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add squash, leek, and 1 tsp salt, cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash starts to break down and brown fond forms in the bottom of the pot, about 10-13 minutes.  Add 2 cups of broth and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen and dissolve the fond.  Add the 2 remaining cups of broth, the reserved squash liquid, 1 cup of water, thyme, bay leaf, and cayenne.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the leeks are tender, 6-7 minutes.  Remove and discard bay leaf.

Before the magic wand . . .

. . . and an abracadabra or two later . . .

Using a stick blender puree the soup until smooth.  Bring back to a simmer.  Add water to create desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fried leeks (see below).

. . . you've got some smashing squash soup!

Ingredients

  • 1 leek, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
  • 2 Tbs AP Flour
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 C Olive Oil

Toss leeks, flour, and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a bowl.  Heat oil in a skillet until shimmering.  Add half the leeks and fry stirring often until golden brown, about 6 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel lined plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Repeat with the other half of the leeks.

For Christmas the mom-in-law got me some Mario Batali crocs! They are made of FABULOUS!

 

Categories: gluten-free, recipes, supper, vegan Tags: , ,

Roasted Squash Risotto

A week ago I was looking through the fridge seeing what needed to get used up.  I had some butternut squash that I never got around to roasting.  I then looked in Rice & Risotto: a collection of over 100 essential recipes and found one that called for squash.  Sounded like a plan to me.  (The copy that I have has a different cover, but the ISBN number is the same).  I started with this cookbook because Lindsay has been requesting more rice and veggies in our meals.  Guess not everyone prefers protein and starch heavy farm meals.  *shrug*

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 1 Tbs dried Basil
  • 1 Tbs dried Oregano
  • 1 Tbs Butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Onions
  • 2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 3/4 C dry White Wine
  • 5 C Veggie stock
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Put the squash into a roasting pan.  Mix 1 Tbs of oil and the honey together and pour over the squash.  Mix until everything is coated.  Put the squash into the oven for 30-35 minutes or until tender.

Heat the veggie stock in a pot until simmering.  In a small bowl, mix the basil, oregano, and 2 Tbs of oil together and set aside.  Heat the butter and remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat.  When the butter is melted, add the onions and cook for 8 minutes, or until soft and golden.  Stirring occasionally.  Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat the rice in the oil mixture.  Pour in the wine and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly.  Once the wine is mostly absorbed, add enough stock to cover the rice and cook over medium-low heat.  Here the recipe calls for stirring constantly, but I find that everything comes out just fine if you thoroughly stir it a couple of times a minutes.  Again add enough stock to cover the rice when the first batch is almost completely absorbed.  Repeat until you have used up the stock.  About 20 minutes.  After you have added all of the stock and the risotto is still a little bit soupy, add the herb oil and squash.  Gently, but thoroughly mix everything together.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until the rice is creamy and cooked, but still retaining a little bite in the center.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Easy and tasty. What more could you ask for?

The reason you want to heat the veggie stock up is so when you add it to the cooking risotto, you don’t dramatically drop the temperature and cause the cooking time to skyrocket.

Categories: cookbook, recipes, supper, vegan Tags: ,

Pizza Night

Last night Lindsay, a couple of friends, and I went to one of our favorite pizza places.

That's right. Since 1993.

Pizza Lucé is local chain that offers higher end specialty pizza, pasta, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, and desserts.  Plus they have a bar with a great beer selection (Yes, I partook of some very delicious and a bit of bitter orange Surly Furious).  They have many items on the menu that can be Vegan or Gluten-Free.  If you live in/near Minnesota I recommend making the trip.  Even if you aren’t in the area, you should check them out: http://pizzaluce.com/ 

I didn’t remember to snap photos of everything, but here is what is some of what we ordered:

Artichoke Dip. It is so good that Lindsay always orders it.

From their website: “Critics agree—we put the art in artichoke dip. In fact, each order is an identical baked reproduction of Picasso’s best known work from his acclaimed “Parmesan-Cream Cheese-Artichoke Hearts and Garlic” period. Love at first bite? Yes. Served with two loaves of our toasted homemade focaccia bread.”

The special last night. Pasta with a pumpkin cream sauce.

Bowtie pasta, roasted corn, spiced pumkin cream sauce, and scallion greens for garnish.  Also it came with two pieces of garlic toast.  Very nice fall flavors.

Pizza Athena. Basically a greek salad on a pizza. Brilliant.

Again from their site: “You don’t need to consult some internet oracle to know this little goddess has fresh spinach, tomato, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, red onions, Greek oregano and toasted garlic with light mozzarella on Bianca sauce.”

Everyone left very full and very satisfied.  The only flaw with the entire meal was when I was carrying out the leftovers, the pasta container slipped off and I lost a bit to the floor.  Yes, I did clean it up.