Friday, February 29, 2008

Red stew with tempeh, cabbage, leeks, and potatoes

My boyfriend and I were planning on a movie and a late dinner afterwards. I wanted a stew I could prep in twenty minutes or less, and leave simmering for two or more hours to eat upon return. I also wanted to use up the three-weeks-old half-bottle of red wine we had left from a picnic he and I had had.

In a dutch oven or large pot (the stew can cook in the oven or on the burner on low), combine:
  • 1 red cabbage, cut into small pieces
  • 1 lb tempeh, in large cubes
  • 1 large leek, washed and cut into small pieces (with, as always, tips and roots reserved for a vegetable stock
  • Up to a bottle of red wine — cooking wines that have started to go acrid are fine
  • A fair amount of soy sauce, but not so much as to overpower anything
  • A handful of star anise
  • A spoonful of sugar
  • Enough water so bring level close to covering, but not too much; cabbage will release liquid.
Cover, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and let stew on low for more than an hour, but up to all afternoon. Ten minutes before you are ready to eat, bring back to high, and add
  • 3/4 lb red fingerling or Russian Banana potatoes
and boil ten minutes. Serve in wide bowls.

Wine is a meat tenderizer, so this broth is great for stewing tough meats (guinnea hen, mutton, etc.). If you are not trying to play the timing game, you can also thicken the stew with some corn starch at the end and serve over rice.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Found in The Joy of Cooking:

Served just before parties break up, these are also known as hangover soups, or Lumpensuppe, and are sometimes helpful for the morning after.

I. French Onion Soup, 129, with the addition of 1 cup dry red wine.
II. Lentil Soup, 134, with sour cream and sausage.

Creamy soups: vegan cream-of-mushroom and non-vegan cream-of-cauliflower

I knew I wanted soup today. A warm, salty, creamy soup.

No, I'm feeling fine. In fact, I feel fantastic: I got ten hours of sleep the last two nights (making up for a month of seven-hour nights), and today I've been bouncy and cheerful, and eager to cook.

In any case, on my walk home yesterday, I passed a restaurant advertising the Soup du Jour as "Puree of White Bean and Mushroom." Mmm, I thought, I can make that. Then, upon picking up the veggie box today, I discovered that we hadn't even eaten last week's broccoli and cauliflower. (And we have a very old but perfectly chipped red cabbage; sometime soon, the cabbage, the new bok choy, and the broccoli greens are going to get together. Or perhaps the cabbage will slow-cook with some tempeh and potatoes and leeks in red wine, soy sauce, and star anise. We'll see.) What better than a cream of broccoli and cauliflower?

Vegan Puree of White Bean and Mushroom

Last night, set a medium-large pot of cannelini beans soaking — remember that beans need four times as much volume to cook in as they take up dried (three times for the expansion, and one more so that simmering does not make them boil over). Upon arriving home, begin boiling beans with a "bouquet garni" of bay leaf, black peppercorn, and celery seed (wrapped up in a cheese-cloth tea bag, or perhaps loose and then pick out the bay leaf and peppercorn). Cook a few hours, until beans mush easily. Drain in a sieve in the sink.

Return now-empty (but no need to clean) pot to heat with some olive oil, and sauté minced spring onion (1 large stalk) and fennel bulb (1 small cultivated bulb). When aromatics become aromatic, add 1/3 lb mushrooms, diced, and stir until mushrooms become pungent. Deglaze bottom of pan with some vegetable stock, and begin spooning in white beans until proportions are right. Stir on medium-low heat, mashing beans thoroughly, and control thickness by adding more vegetable stock or water (or white wine, but I don't have any). Salt to taste and serve hot. I haven't tried yet, but I expect it to freeze well (nothing needs to keep its crunchiness), and to need more water upon defrosting.

Non-Vegan Cream of Broccoli and Cauliflower

This recipe is vaguely based on the recipe in The Joy of Cooking, but I've made a number of changes.

In a medium-large pot, melt a half a stick to a stick of butter, and sauté minced spring onion (1 stalk) and fennel (1 small cultivated bulb) and celery (I didn't have any) until tender but not brown. Meanwhile, coarsely chop a medium-large head of cauliflower and two small heads of romanesco broccoli, discarding the leaves but retaining the stems. Add to pot, and stir a few minutes. Add two cups vegetable stock and 1 cup water, stir to deglaze, and simmer covered until broccoli is easily mashed with a whisk, about thirty minutes.

Mash broccoli and cauliflower, and add salt and pepper. Combine one cup cold milk with a spoonful of cornstarch, whisking with a fork, and pour into soup. Stir and heat on low until hot throughout, but do not boil. Serve hot.

Soy milk or water can presumably be substituted for the milk at the end, and the flavor is robust enough for oil to replace the butter at the beginning (reduce the amount precipitously, until you have just enough to sauté the aromatics); I would not do a pure broccoli soup vegan, but cauliflower is incredibly creamy without any added dairy.

Notes on roasted root vegetables

I have before posted discussions of roasted root vegetables, a staple of mine throughout the winter. My dance partner points out that not all roots should be peeled — she does not peel her carrots or parsnips. I maintain that yellow turnips and most beets should be peeled, as the skin is tough, although the watermelon turnips do not need peeling.

Most people eat the roots of onions; I cannot, but green onion stalk goes well in a mixed root vegetable dish. Also not a root: butternut squash, peeled and cubed, fits in well with the winter medley.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

End of the summer

Berkeley confuses me, because just as I'm hunkering down for a winter of squash, the spring crops start coming in. Certainly I appreciate the young plants available in February, but I'm not really expecting them until April. I have a cupboard of winter squash, stored for when we're trapped by the snow-storm.

Seasonality comes not in whether there's enough food, but in the kinds, and in whether Farmers' Market is packed or simply busy. The farm we get our vegetable box from has started setting out their dried tomatoes and peaches from last summer, which taste fantastic.

As for foods I've preserved, I've started cooking with the peaches from the back of the freezer (I think I'll keep the frozen quince until later in Spring). We still have a few jars of peaches pickled in lemon, sugar, and spices, for when we need dessert on especially cold nights.

But last night we used the last jar of tomatoes from August. Those were seriously good tomatoes — every jar tasted and smelled like summer, even though the weather is rainy February.

Most of our jars of tomatoes came from one twenty-pound box of Early Girls, and they lasted us — essentially a family of two — half the winter. Next summer, I intend to can at least forty, and perhaps sixty pounds of tomatoes, and that should last us all winter. Perhaps ketchup and tomato paste and tomato soup, too.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Potatoes with tomato sauce, Greens with sweet dressing

My mother and sister are in town, and came over so that I could cook dinner for them and my roommate.

In a small saucepan, boil vegetable broth with some red wine and TVP. In a large saucepan, sauté two stalks of green garlic in olive oil, with some dried oregano and ground black pepper. Then add two quarts of canned tomatoes from last summer, a quarter pound of diced dried tomatoes (and diced dried sweet red peppers if available, but it's less important), and 2/3 pound diced crimini mushroom, along with the rehydrated TVP. Bring to boil, add a few spoonfuls of tomato paste, and salt to taste.

Meanwhile, wash a mix of blue potatoes, yellow banana fingerlings, and red-skinned fingerlings. Chop into large equal-sized pieces, and place in medium-sized saucepan. Cover with salted water, bring to boil, and simmer, covered, seven minutes. Drain — place a sieve or colander in an attractive ceramic serving bowl, and pour the boiling water through it to heat the bowl; discard water and transfer drained potatoes to the bowl (ceramic bowls can be covered and placed in a 200°F oven to keep their heat).

Wash and chop a small head of red chard and a small head of yellow beat greens. Steam a few minutes. Meanwhile, in an attractive serving bowl, mix quince marmalade (or another sweet preserves), stone-ground mustard, red wine, and balsamic vinaigrette to taste. Toss with greens, and serve.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Vegan "Beef with Broccoli"

First, set rice cooking. Combine one part rice with 1.5 part salted water, bring to boil, and simmer covered 20 minutes. After twenty minutes, do not remove cover, but turn off heat and let rice continue to steam for at least 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan, boil TVP with vegetable broth, some soy sauce, and a splash of red wine.

In a wok, heat some vegetable oil with cumin seed and aniseed, or whatever spices you like (e.g. ginger and red pepper, neither of which I have). When oil is hot, add and sauté a diced green onion.

Wash and chop a bunch of rapini and toss with the stir-fry. Add the (mostly drained) TVP, and a little more oil if necessary. Cook on medium-high, stirring constantly, until rapini has cooked. Add a splash of sesame oil and a dusting of sesame seeds, and serve over rice.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Butternut squash soup with rice and tofu

Squash soup is wonderfully easy. Wash a large butternut squash, and cut the bulb from the stem. Slice bulb in half, scoop out seeds, and half again; slice stem into quarters. Peel each piece with a sharp paring knife. Cut squash into roughly one-inch cubes.

Place squash in a large pan, and cover with vegetable broth (half concentrated stock, half water) and salt. Add also some brown rice. Simmer covered for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, defrost a pound and a half of frozen tofu by boiling in a small pot. Chop into half-inch cubes and add to soup. Add more liquid to the soup if rice absorbs too much.

When squash is very tender, mash wish a large whisk, and serve.

Garlic mashed potatoes, Lentils, and Steamed broccoli and cauliflower with vegetable broth

A few nights ago, we had an impromptu dinner party here. I like those: they mean I get to show off my cooking skills. Try to cook everything at the same time.

Dice a green onion (saving outer layer for soup stock) and a small head of fennel (saving greens for stock), and sauté in olive oil, with some salt. Add and continue to sauté chopped (washed, but no need to peel) tokyo turnip roots. Add two cups green lentils, two cups veggie stock, and two cups water. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cover. Wash and chop a few carrots (saving greens, head, and tail, and skins if they need peeling, for stock, of course), and add to the lentils. Wash and chop a head of yellow chard, and stir into lentils five minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, wash and dice (but do not peel) a couple pounds of blue potatoes. Cover with salted water, bring to boil, and simmer covered at least ten minutes. Meanwhile, dice a stalk of green garlic, and sauté in olive oil with some ground black pepper. When potatoes are done, drain in a sieve, return to pan with garlic oil, and mash, adding a tablespoon or two of butter. Blue potatoes have a particularly good taste, but tend to be very dry when mashing, so they need lots of butter (as opposed to, say, german butterballs, which are very moist). They will unfortunately lose much of their color to a lovely grey.

Meanwhile, pick out small heads of purple cauliflower and romanesco broccoli. Slice carefully in quarters or halves from tip to stem, retaining the leaves. Expect one half or quarter of broccoli and one of cauliflower per person. Layer in the steamer, with the purple cauliflower on the bottom (otherwise the purple will drip onto the lightly green broccoli). Steam until tender, and remove carefully, arranging alternating in a nice bowl. Pour over them half a cup of heated vegetable broth.

Baguette with almost no kneading

This recipe is a simplification on "Pain a l'Ancienne" from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, a fantastic volume by Peter Reinhart.

The night before, combine
  • 6 cups white flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp instant yeast

The amounts actually matter, although not hugely. Mix briefly with the paddle, and, with the paddle running on low, add
  • 2 1/4 cup cold water

When flour has been complete hydrated, move dough to a gallon-sized ziplock freezer bag, close, and stick in the back of the fridge overnight.

Then next day, set the oven to preheat 500°F, and set in a baking stone if you don't have a baguette rack. On a floured surface, turn out dough and divide into thirds. Shape into loaves. When oven is hot, set in a shallow pan with an inch of boiling water. Slash the loaves and transfer to oven, turning down the temperature to 475°F.

After 10 minutes, rotate loaves 180°, and bake another 15-20, checking regularly. Bread is done when crusts start to turn golden.

White bean spread with rosemary

This is possibly my very favorite way to consume beans. It's my variation of a classic Italian dish, usually served with bread that has been lightly fried in olive oil.

The night before you intend to eat this white bean spread, soak more than a cup of dried cannellini beans in at least three times as much water (in a pot that can hold even a little more, so that there's room to boil). (If beans are dirty, rinse once before; pick out any beans that float, as they are likely moldy.) Do not salt bean water, as it toughens the skins. The next day, set the beans to simmer, covered, for four hours.

In a blender of food processor, combine:
  • 4 cups cooked beans
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 sprigs rosemary

or, rather, since I can't eat raw garlic, dice a green garlic stalk and sauté it in the oil before adding to the blender. Blend until smooth.

Environmentalism and food

If you haven't listened to it already, you should download today's Fresh Air, on carbon footprints of food. The abstract:
Fresh Air from WHYY, February 20, 2008:

That guilty feeling after a big meal might be about more than calories and cholesterol. New Yorker science and technology writer Michael Specter joins Fresh Air to explain how carbon emissions released during food production are having an impact on the environment.

Calculating carbon output is a complex, if not counterintuitive, process, Specter says. In the February 25 issue, he writes about the difficulties of measuring carbon footprints in an article titled "Big Foot: In Measuring Carbon Emissions, it's Easy to Confuse Morality and Science."

Specter was formerly The New York Times' Moscow bureau co-chief, and before that the national science reporter for The Washington Post.

Stir fry with peanuts and greens

Although we get beautiful new produce every Wednesday, I rarely get to enjoy it immediately. I usually have some produce left from previous days, and I make myself eat up the older stuff first.

For today's dinner, I heated some vegetable oil at the bottom of a wok, along with aniseed, cumin seed, and diced green onion. While that sauteed, I washed and chopped the greens from a bunch of tokyo turnips and a bunch of yellow beats. I added a large handful of peanuts to the oil, and coated, and then added the greens along with some soy sauce. Cooking on high and stirring constantly, I cooked off most of the liquid and wilted the greens. Then I removed the stir-fry from heat, stepped outside briefly to see if I could see the lunar eclipse (there were clouds), and then tossed the stir-fry with some sesame oil and sat down to eat.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bok choy with pine nuts and manderins

Having had a take-out snack of olive-and-potato gratin, I wanted a small second-dinner of most veggies.

In the wok I heated a small amount of olive oil with salt and a handful of pine nuts, stirring regularly to roast the pine nuts evenly. When the pine nuts started to darken, I removed the wok from heat.

Meanwhile, I removed the outermost leaves from three small bok choy, and separated the remaining leaves (discarding the core) and washed them in the colander. When the pine nuts were done, I added the wet bok choy leaves (kept whole) to the wok, returned to heat, covered, and let the greens steam.

We had one Murcott manderine left from our Farmers' box last week, but I'll get more at Market tomorrow. So I peeled the orange and removed the white strings, and then sliced the ten wedges each in half. I added these and a small splash of soysauce to the wok and cooked uncovered until everything was hot and most of the water had evaporated from the bottom.

I ended up with a completely delicious, tangy stir-fry.

Valentine's Day

My boyfriend, an incredible sweetie, made dinner for me last night. He started by heating water for mushroom risotto, making a very tasty risotto-from-a-box (instant rice with mushroom sauce). Then he washed, capped, and cored two sweet red peppers (organic, from Mexico), being careful to keep the sides intact, and removed the very bottoms, so they would lie flat. These he coated inside-and-out with salt and olive oil, and roasted under the broiler, rotating regularly. While these were going, he steamed broccolini (organic, from Mexico) and tossed with lemon and salt. When the peppers were done, he submerged them briefly in cold water, and carefully peeled off the outer skin, then stuffed the peppers with the finished risotto. Best of all, he brought wild-caught salmon, which he coated with a mustard-and-brown-sugar (Grey Poupon and organic sugar from Trader Joe's) glaze, broiling for ten minutes or so, until the fat rendered. Topping off the dinner was a nice champagne. Everything was extremely simple and tasty and cooked to perfection — that boy knows exactly what kind of food I like.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Post-Christmas cabbage and cookies

Originally posted on 26 December 2007.

Possibly my favorite Christmas gift was Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables, an indispensible reference. I've been reading it non-stop: each vegetable (sorted alphabetically) is described, including how to judge freshness, how to store, how to prepare, and how to grow in a kitchen garden, and many recipes are suggested. Tonight and tomorrow we will be eating leftovers before leaving for a family trip to the Coast; tonight's dinner was lasagna. But dinner should include a fresh vegetable. A trip to the local organic grocer yielded a gorgeous and very fresh and sweet red cabbage. What, we asked Alice, should we do with it?

After removing the outermost leaves and washing the cabbage (I would only save cabbage for a beef stock; it's fine to compost this), remove the core and slice into very thin strips, a few inches long. Thinly slice a leek, and in the bottom of a heavy large saucepan, cook the leek in three tablespoons butter or duck fat for five minutes. Add the cabbage along with a large spoonful of sherry vinegar, a healthy handful of salt, some black pepper, a bay leaf, and half a cup of water. Stir, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover, and let the cabbage reduce for twenty minutes.

While the cabbage cooks, wash, peel, and grate (with a coarse grater) an apple. Toss with a little sherry vinegar to keep the apple from oxidizing, and eat the peel and core. When the cabbage has cooked for twenty minutes, stir in the grated apple and cook another five minutes. Serve hot.

In the days after Christmas, one should never be long without a good cookie. The following is from The Joy of Vegan Baking, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau:

Three cups flour should be combined in a large bowl with a quarter teaspoon salt, one and a half teaspoon baking powder, one tablespoon aniseed, and one cup pine nuts. In a separate small bowl, whisk to combine seven eighths of a cup of pure maple syrup with half a cup canola oil, one quarter cup water, two tablespoons anise extract, and one teaspoon vanilla extract. Combine wet into dry, roll by tablespoons onto a parchment-lined cookie tray, and bake twenty minutes in a preheated three-hundred-fifty-degree oven.

Addtionally, after Christmas we eat an endless supply of pfeffernusse, gingerbread, and the many cookies left with us after our annual Cookie Party, a wonderful potluck at which we have eggnog with and without rum, hot mulled wine, ciders, and homemade cookies with all our friends and neighbors.

Christmas Carnivory part 2: Guinea hen with red wine, leeks, and mushrooms

Originally posted on 26 December 2007.

For Christmas dinner, we always eschew the traditional ham (my brother and I do not eat mammal, and have not for many years) in favor of also-traditional fowl. Sometimes goose or duck (we also always go feed the ducks at the Millrace as an after-presents family activity, so rarely bring ourselves to feast on duck in the evening); last year's dinner was pheasant. This year we had guinea hen. Given my commitment to ethical eating, we make sure to purchase free-range grass-finished organic bird from trusted local suppliers; ours is a good town for finding such a product. The birds come whole, and the giblets should be saved in the freezer for later soup making.

Guinea hen can be an awfully dry bird, and is traditionally cooked with pork fat. Another popular meat tenderizer is to stew in red wine, which is what we did. Dried morel mushrooms are reconstituted in warm water (enough to cover), and leeks are cleaned, chopped, and cooked in butter. The guinea hen is quartered and browned in the butter on both sides. (Use a deep large saucepan with a bottom that can accommodate frying. You still may need to do the hen in batches, depending on how many people you are serving.) Then fit all the quarters into the pan, and add two to three bottles of inexpensive red cooking wine and the mushrooms with their mushroom-flavored reconstituting water (the mushrooms should be coarsely chopped). Also add yellow potato, washed and chopped into regular-sized pieces but not peeled.

Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for some time.

Christmas Carnivory part 1: Lobster bisque

Originally posted on 26 December 2007.

Lobsters and crabs should be purchased live and boiled at home; or, if you would rather not do your own cleaning, then they should be killed when purchased. After a tasty meal — say, your mother's birthday dinner — the shells should be saved: place in a ziplock freezer bag, and freeze until later use. For example, Christmas Eve dinner.

It is an Italian tradition, although I'm sure many other folks share it (my family is not Italian), to have seafood on Christmas Eve. Last year my family ate oyster stew; in previous years we have enjoyed eel. My family is essentially non-religious: we do most of our holiday celebrating culinarily, and Christmas Eve is a major holiday. This year, we had a bisque of lobster and crab.

Most seafood stocks start with shellfish, which are flavor-rich. Simmer covered the shells of crab and lobster with the ends of a leek (to be used the following day) and some celery for a few hours, and then strain. To the broth, add salt, some fresh meat, and cream, and serve. Seafood stocks may also be prepared with other vegetables, although the flavor should remain mild, herbs like tarragon and bay leaf, sea weeds, and other shells and fish skeletons.

Salad with tofu

We don't eat a lot of salads around here. I grew up with salad every night at dinner, but my parents buy better vinegar than I do, and the available salad greens here (most often I see arugula, aka rocket or roquette, and baby lettuces) are often flavorful enough that they make better sandwich-filling than salad.

So I was very excited when our farmers' box last week included a large bag of the redundantly-named mesclun mix. The salad greens are sweet this winter, and looked like a lovely lunch.

I would like to make a pitch for frozen tofu. If you are going to be eating tofu raw, be sure to buy very good tofu; a local producer is absolutely the way to go. In Berkeley, a stand at Farmers' Market provides locally-made tofu. Soy beans do not grow in California; this producer imports beans from an organic farm in the midwest, where they are dried before shipping. Soy beans are ground and soaked to make a soy milk, and then calcium is added to curdle the milk. The tofu is made in presses, much like cheese.

In any case, fresh firm or extra-firm tofu is tasty as is, but for a more interesting texture, cut into half- to one-inch cubes, and freeze in a ziplock bag. Defrost by placing in an inch or two of water in a small saucepan and heating (with the lid on). Then cool off by running the boiled tofu under cold water, and over the sink squeeze out residual water. The spongy cubes are fantastic.

For my salad, I washed, cored, and diced a green apple, and combined it with a large bowl of mesclun and half a pound (minus the water) of frozen tofu. For a dressing, I combined olive oil with a touch of soy sauce and a splash of red wine, whisked with a fork, and then tossed into the salad with my fingers. Mmm good.

For salads larger than a single serving, mix the dressing before composing the salad. Add some of the salad to the large bowl, then cover with some dressing, and continue layering, mixing by hand occasionally. Be gentle: lettuces bruise easily. (As such, always use as sharp a knife as possible with fresh lettuces.) Salads should be dressed and tossed before serving; the diner technique of opening a bag of pre-washed supermarket salad and serving with a side of bottled dressing is tacky, and deprives the vegetables of the chance to soak up the dressing.

Cabbage with apples, Sausage with beans

Last night's seitan sausage is especially good sautéed in olive oil. Add a little dried oregano to the oil for good measure, and chop the sausage into pieces. I had set a large pot of dried cannellini beans, along with a bay leaf and a few black pepper corns, soaking last night, and boiled an hour or two upon arriving home (never cook beans in salted water; it toughens the skins). Once the sausage had sautéed a little, I added the beans and some salt to the pan and cooked on medium-high, stirring constantly, until the beans started to brown slightly with the tasty oil-and-bean-starch cake on the bottom of the pan.

We will be getting vegetables tomorrow, and the refrigerator is almost out. For some green food, I washed, cored, and diced a granny-smith apple and half a green cabbage. These went in a sauce-pan-with-well-fitting-lid, along with a healthy splash of lemon juice and a small squeeze of red wine. (When cooking vegetables with an acid, it's generally best to put the acid in the pan first, and add the veggies as soon as they have been cut, even if you will not cook them right away. This controls oxidization, keeping the apples green, and keeping, e.g., onions from emitting too much eye-watering aromatic.) A small handful of salt and ten minutes on high with the lid on cooks the cabbage.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Seitan sausage with a side of mashed cauliflower

Kate Harding at Shapely Prose has been writing about intuitive eating. As a dancer, I know how important it is to listen to one's body. I trust my body completely. Recently, for instance, I've been desiring iron-rich foods — broccoli, raisins, and, most strangely for me, sausage. It's lambing season, you see: the parents of one of my friends have a farm in the area where they raise sheep, and are harvesting the boys right now (the girls are kept for breeding and wool). I might ask her for some meat, but I don't know that I could bring myself to eat it without visiting her farm and meeting the lambs first.

In the mean time, I will soak some white beans and make something with olive oil and lemon juice (iron from vegetables is not absorbed well except in the presence of vitamin C, although broccoli, spinach, etc., are high in both). And, to satisfy my sausage craving, I made seitan tonight.

This is a foolproof recipe form the Post-Punk Kitchen, although I've varied it slightly.

Preheat oven 325°F. In a large bowl or the bowl of the standing mixer, whisk together dry ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp fine-ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin (I only had whole, so ground mine in the mortar and pestle)
  • 1/8 tsp cayanne (I had large red pepper flakes, ground in the mortar and pestle)
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano, ground in mortar and pestle
  • 1/8 tsp garlic salt
  • (We are out of allspice, but PPK suggests 1/8 tsp)

In a smaller bowl, whisk well the wet ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1 ice-cube (2 Tbsp) of frozen home-made vegetable broth
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and knead well. Form the brains into a log, and wrap tightly in foil, twisting ends. Bake 75 minutes (325°F) and enjoy.

We also had sautéed greens — collards (de-stemmed), cauliflower leaves, and some very old rocket (arugula), chopped into couple one-inch pieces, and placed in olive oil that has been heated in the wok with garlic salt, oregano, and fresh-ground black pepper, and stirred until greens have been coated and turned a consistently bright green.

The cauliflower florets and peeled stems were used in a mashed cauliflower dish. Boil cauliflower for at least ten minutes, until a fork pierces the cauliflower easily. Drain in a sieve or colander, and mash in the standing mixer with the paddle blade on medium-high. While the blade is running, add a touch of good olive oil, a handful of salt, and a few turns of fine-ground fresh black pepper. Cauliflower prepared this way is extremely creamy and sweet, but has no butter added; it's a very good vegan side-dish.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Amaranth seed, cabbage, and turnip and rutabaga

Before starting this blog, I would post recipes on various other sites on the internet. In the interest of compiling all my food postings on one site, I reprint them here. Originally posted 4 January 2008.

My body is not made for carnivory. Being at the Oregon Coast means eating a lot of fish; being with family means eating a lot; being not in Berkeley means eating food that is not almost entirely local organic vegetables. I think that when I eat a lot of not-vegetables I start to smell.

Tonight, however, we had yummy hippie food. Amaranth seed can be combined with two and a half parts water, mixed well, brought to boil covered, let simmer twenty minutes, stirred again, and eaten as gloop. It's good with salt, and probably better with fruit conserve as a hot breakfast cereal.

Cabbage is a fantastic winter vegetable, and should be available local-organic almost everywhere in the country. After removing the outer layers and washing and thinly slicing green cabbage, try sautéing in butter with a little dried thyme and a hint of oregano and salt, but go easy on the flavorings. Cabbage is in the same species as broccoli.

Turnips and rutabagas are not the same species, but the rutabaga should be treated as a large, starchy turnip. Washed, peeled, and sliced about a centimeter thick, they can be placed single-layer in a few millimeters of olive oil spread on a basting pan, turned so that both sides are coated, and baked in a preheated 400-degree oven, turning them once after 10-15 minutes and serving after another 15, when they are tender and caramelized on the bottom. Be sure to transfer first to a paper-towel-lined dish to absorb the excess oil.

Black forbidden rice

Before starting this blog, I would post recipes on various other sites on the internet. In the interest of compiling all my food postings on one site, I reprint them here. Originally posted 13 January 2008.

Another grain you should try is "forbidden" black rice. It cooks much like white rice, but a little longer, for perhaps 35 minutes in 2 parts salted water. Before cooking, we soaked it and then rinsed in cold water. The black rice will (temporarily) stain your tongue and plate a wonderful purple; some websites suggest mixing the black rice with equal parts white jasmine rice, dyeing it all purple. Black rice is much higher iron content than and other grain.

Tofu stir-fry with peanuts, leek, mushroom, and green cabbage

Before starting this blog, I would post recipes on various other sites on the internet. In the interest of compiling all my food postings on one site, I reprint them here. Originally posted 13 January 2008.

If you get very good tofu, it's worth eating plain, with soy sauce. Alternately, marinate in soy sauce mixed with water, but be careful not to make it too salty, and add right at the end to a stir-fry, just long enough to heat up.

Before adding the tofu, heat an inch or two of vegetable oil in a wok, along with peppercorns, whole cloves, star anise, and one dried hot chili. When spices start to darken, remove from heat and strain out spices. Discard spices, and toast unsalted peanuts in the spiced oil until they start to darken. Remove peanuts and set aside, leaving oil in wok. Toss peanuts with a little salt and some aniseed.

Add to the wok washed and finely chopped leeks (onions, garlic, shallots, etc.), and cook a little bit. Then add sliced mushrooms and drain some soy sauce from the marinating tofu. Toss briefly, and cover with lid of wok to steam (this helps preserve the mushroom flavor). When mushrooms are cooked, remove from wok, leaving as much liquid as possible in wok.

Slice a green cabbage in half, remove core, and slice thin from pole to pole, and half the slices along the equator. Add to wok, cover, and steam to reduce. When cabbage is soft, add and (re)heat leeks and mushrooms and tofu, but not the tofu marinade. Cook off as much liquid as possible, and toss in peanuts at the end.

Kabocha squash

Before starting this blog, I would post recipes on various other sites on the internet. In the interest of compiling all my food postings on one site, I reprint them here. Originally posted 13 January 2008.

I highly recommend kabocha squash. Get ones with very green skin — they will be easier to cut. Slice in half "hamburger-style" (horizontally), and scoop out seeds (which may be roasted and salted like pumpkin seeds). Rub the insides with coarse salt, and line in slices with quite a bit of butter (between half a Tbsp and a full Tbsp per half). Bake face-up on baking sheets in a 400-degree oven for about 50 minutes. Kabocha is not a small squash, so these make large portions per person, but they're gorgeous ("gourd-geous"), hold their shape well, and would be terrific soup bowls. (The soup itself could be served in a turban squash. Indeed, I think I might do exactly this at my future Thanksgivings, or something.)

Provençal mixed beans

Before starting this blog, I would post recipes on various other sites on the internet. In the interest of compiling all my food postings on one site, I repreint them here. Originally posted 13 January 2008.

Beans should not be salted when boiling, as it makes the skins tougher. For a provincial-flavored bean mix, soak overnight roughly equal parts pinto, black, navy, black-eyed peas, green peas, and any other fancy dried beans you might have (including green lentils, especially if you don't have dried peas). Then boil in enough water with a (dried) bouquet garni composed of &mdash or add to the boiling water as loose dried — rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf. A few black peppercorns should also be added. Simmer for two hours, or until beans are tender but not mushy (lentils will have mushed; the mixed beans will all be different textures, but should all be edible). Remove the bouquet garni, and drain through a strainer set in a colander. Serve with Romano cheese or salt and nutritional yeast, and perhaps a hint of fresh parsley if it's in season.

Tomato sauce and fingerline potatoes

Before starting this blog, I would post recipes on various other sites on the internet. In the interest of compiling all my food postings on one site, I reprint them here. Originally posted 23 January 2008.

Wash three stalks of green garlic (fresh means that Theo can eat it), and remove the outer most layer if the garlic has been sitting in the fridge for a week. Cut off the bottom of the bulb and the tips of the greens, and keep all the parts you don't want in a freezer bag for later soupmaking. Dice the garlic, and place at the bottom of the stock pot with some olive oil and dried oregano. Sauté for a bit. Add half a bag of diced sun-dried tomatoes, and two thirds of a can of the tomatoes you canned last summer, chopped. Toss in a handful of salt, and simmer a while uncovered --- long enough for the dried tomatoes to rehydrate in the tomato juice, and for the liquid to condense.

Meanwhile, wash and de-eye a bag of rather past-their-peak fingerling potatoes. Chop into large bites, rinse again, and cover with lightly-salted water. Bring to boil and simmer covered about six minutes. Serve potatoes with the best red-sauce ever, sprinkling nutritional yeast on top.

Quinoa pilaf

Before starting this blog, I would post recipes on various other sites on the internet. In the interest of compiling all my food postings on one site, I repreint them here. Originally posted 27 January 2008.

Combine one cup quinoa with two cups water, a handful of raisins, a handful of dried apricots, and a little salt. Simmer, covered, for twenty minutes. Meanwhile, wash, remove head and ends from, and dice a sprig of green garlic. Heat a healthy amount of olive oil in a small pan, and add the garlic and a good amount of sunflower seeds, and sauté until garlic is fully cooked and seeds are just starting to brown. Turn off heat, and wait for quinoa to be done. When water has fully evaporated, remove from heat, mix in oil, garlic, and seeds, toss together to fluff the grain, and serve hot.

Mixed root vegetables

Before starting this blog, I would post recipes on various other sites on the internet. In the interest of compiling all my food postings on one site, I repreint them here. Originally posted 30 January 2008.

This week's farm box included a nice haul, with white beats and a root-veggie medley: parsnips, turnips, a giant pink beat. We already had turnips and celery root from Farmers' Market last week.

Scrub the root vegetables, top them, and wash again. The greens are good for sautéing and eating later, but are dirty. Peel, and save skins in your frozen veggie stock bag. Slice into one-inch pieces and place in 9x13 glass pan in a densely-packed single layer. Toss with olive oil, salt, and dried thyme. Cover the pan with foil, and bake in a pre-heated 325° oven for until you get bored and hungry, about half an hour. Roots should still have their shape, but be soft to the touch, and will become extremely aromatic. Enjoy!

Black beens with dried red peppers and beat greens

Before starting this blog, I would post recipes on various other sites on the internet. In the interest of compiling all my food postings on one site, I repreint them here. Originally posted 3 February 2008.

Wash, dice, and wash a green onion and two stalks of green garlic, as always saving the bulb, outer layer, and tips for a soup. Sauté in olive oil, and add a small handful each of dried tomatoes and dried sweet red peppers, diced. Include a splash of water, and the leaves from a bunch of yellow beets, sliced into roughly one-inch squares. Cover, and cook until the greens are brightly colored and have just started to reduce. Then add a few spoonfuls of drained black beans (soaked and boiled and kept in the fridge until needed), enough to dominate the dish. Add salt and dried oregano, adjusting to taste, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the residual liquid has evaporated.

Rye berry with aromatics

Before starting this blog, I would post recipes on various other sites on the internet. In the interest of compiling all my food postings on one site, I repreint them here. Originally posted 3 February 2007.

Wash, chop, and wash again the white part of a leek, the green part of a green onion (of course, I save the bulb for soup), and two small fennel bulbs. (Use cultivated fennel for cooking as an ingredient. Wild fennel is much stronger-tasting and stringier to eat; it's great for adding flavor, but should not be eaten directly, except as something to pick from the side of the road and suck on like sugar cane. The spindly leaves of the fennel stock should be saved for a soup, or dried and included in a bouquet garni.)

Sauté the aromatics in olive oil at the bottom of a medium-sized saucepan. When veggies have started to tenderize, add one cup rye berry, a small handful of salt, and two cups warm water, in which you've dissolved two ice-cubes worth of concentrated vegetable stock. Cover, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook fifty minutes to an hour, until the liquid has been absorbed or has evaporated.

Rye berry has fantastic flavor, marries well to Provençal aromatics, and keeps its crunch after being cooked. (For even more crunch, you can also briefly toast the berries in the hot oil before adding the water.) Like other cooked grains, when done, remove from heat but keep covered; the berries will keep their warmth for some time.

Lavender and Apple: Crisp and Iced Tea

Before starting this blog, I would post recipes on various other sites on the internet. In the interest of compiling all my food postings on one site, I repreint it here. This article concerns the TGRWT series, started by Khymos, and was my first and so-far only entry to such an event. I intend to also enter TGRWT 9: Parmesan and Cocoa. This entry was originally from 14 September 2007.

I was very concerned when I saw this month's They Go Really Well Together: Apples aren't in season! I thought. It's the start of September. We're still eating peaches and tomatoes. I had not contributed to any of the previous TGRWTs: one was inconveniently timed, and most included ingredients I was not a fan of. But apples and lavender! Those ingredients are amazing! If only she had waited a month.

Little did I know that Nature and the Farmer's Market had conspired to force me to enter. That Saturday was the first day of apple season: every stand, all of a sudden, was overflowing with amazing apples. I bought close to a dozen. Lavender grows near my house, but one stand also had bunches of gorgeous dried lavender. So I came home that Saturday with all the ingredients I needed.

Besides, my roommate and I were planning on going out to Lavender Country Contra Dance, which was to begin with a potluck. What better to bring than an entirely experimental dish? I ended up making two recipes: the Vegan Apple Lavender Crisp I brought to the contra dance, and a Lavender Apple Iced Tea that I've been enjoying at home. I'll end with Reviews.

Vegan Apple Lavender Crisp

Preheat oven 350°F. Line a 9x13-inch pan with aluminum foil for ease of removing the crisp later.

  • 4 cooking apples.

Take six stalks dried lavender; chop and mortar-and-pestle the flowers. Makes
  • 1 Tbsp dried lavender flowers.

Toss with apples. Also toss in
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Pour apples into prepared pan.

In medium bowl, combine with fingers
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Sprinkle over apples. Bake 350°F for 35 minutes, or until crust turns golden.

Lavender Apple Iced Tea

If you buy dried lavender, you will find yourself wanting to use the flowers in recipes, but most of what you bought is stem. Here's a recipe that can perfectly use up the extra.

Cut lavender stems into two-inch pieces.

Place in a half-gallon container.

Also add
  • 1 bag plain black tea (I use PG Tips)
  • 1 packet instant hot apple cider powder (it's cheating, but I had some lying around)

and fill with water. Refrigerate over night.


The apple crisp was a huge hit at the dance. It did taste overwhelmingly of lavender, and it's not clear that the apple and the lavender married well. The cinnamon and lemon also each add their own zing; the four main flavors did make for a nice ensemble (and I'd be curious to try this with more honey in the crust). Overall, there were many compliments, and even more comments of the form "this is really weird". I liked it.

The iced tea, on the other hand, was divine. Without straining, you do get the occasional sip full of stem, but the flavors married amazingly well: it tasted of lavender and apple and tea without tasting of any of these individually. The adjective that comes to mind for the flavor is "smooth".

On the other hand, now a week later, the crisp is gone, and the drink tastes mostly of the tannins in the black tea, and the spices in the cider. C'est la vie.

Lentils and rice, with beet greens and olive oil

I've made this very simple meal before, and always enjoy it. When you want a no-trouble meal for a quiet dinner alone, I highly recommend it.

In a small pot with a well-fitting lid, combine half a cup brown rice, half a cup green lentils, and two cups of home-made vegetable broth. Cover, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for fifty minutes. (Lentils take only thirty, but the rice should not be crunchy; I had crunchy rice tonight.)

Near the end of cooking time (water should have been completely absorbed; check the pot occasionally, adding more water or removing the lid and turning up the heat as necessary), wash a bunch of beets greens (removed from the beets). Beets from Farmers' Market tend to be covered in dirt — if you don't remove this well, your food can pick up an undesired texture. (I did not wash my beet greens well tonight.) Chop the greens roughly into one-inch squares, and stir into rice-and-lentils. Cook, covered, a few more minutes, until greens have turned a brilliant green and reduced slightly in volume.

Remove from heat, and salt-and-pepper to taste. I like lots of salt (we don't salt out vegetable broth, preferring to salt the final product), but I'm not a particular fan of pepper. Toss in some high-quality extra-virgin olive oil — we have been using the delicious and fruity "Olio Extra Vergine di Oliva" by Oleificio Chianti (based in Moticchiello di Pienza, Siena), the same as is used at Chez Panisse (where my roommates' cousin works).

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Kohlrabi, pink turnip, and quinoa

I highly recommend kohlrabi root, which tastes like broccoli stem, but I don't have much to say for the greens, which have an off, sea-weed taste (or maybe the ones I'm eating had gone bad).

For dinner tonight, I washed a bunch of pink turnips and a bunch of kohlrabi. After removing the greens, I peeled the roots, keeping the peels for my soup stock, and I sliced the roots. When you peel pink turnips (which have fantastic greens), try to take off as little as possible: turnip skins are thin, and much of the color is near the surface. Kohlrabi, on the other hand, must be peeled with a paring knife; the outermost layer is rather tough and woody. I sautéed the sliced roots in olive oil, with a little salt, and then added the chopped greens, covered, and steamed.

Meanwhile I cooked a small pot of quinoa — one-to-one water to grain by volume, with a little salt, brought to boil, and simmer covered for ten minutes (or longer with more water). We have delicious dried sweet red peppers and dried tomatoes right now; I diced a few of each and included them. This, it turns out, was a mistake. I like quinoa, but the tomato-and-pepper taste is slightly off.

Overall, an ok but mildly dissatisfying meal.

Turnip, kohlrabi, and broccoli are all members of the Mustard family.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Seasonal, local eating. It's all the rage these days, isn't it? I tend to think of myself as a good cook, and I prefer as good ingredients as possible; since I live in Berkeley, I almost accidentally keep to a one-hundred-mile diet.

In any case, I regularly cook, and rarely follow recipes. Instead, I make things up, and write down my successes (and occasional failures) online. It occurred to me that, perhaps, a recipe blog would be a good way to organize my thoughts.

Every blog is a project, and every project is ultimately doomed to failure; I post on my other blog only rarely. Will this site get traffic from readers or writers? Only time will tell. Fortunately, your task, dear reader, is easy: subscribe to the RSS feed, and be updated automatically.