The Bored Vegetarian

Cucumber Mint Soup3 Cucumbers 1/2 cup Parsley, chopped1/3 cup Mint, chopped3 Scallions, chopped1 pint Buttermilk6 oz strained Greek YogurtJuice from 1 LemonSalt & Pepper to taste2-3 oz crumbled Feta Cheese (optional)Peel cucumbers.  Slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.  Sprinkle with salt and let sit for about 30 minutes (this helps remove some of their water).  Coarsely chop.  In a food processor or blender, combine cucumber, mint, parsley, scallions, buttermilk and yogurt.  Blend until smooth, season with salt and pepper (I used a food processor, so there was still some texture to the soup, but you can always strain through a sieve if you’d like).  Chill in the fridge until… chilled.  Serve garnished with about an ounce of feta crumbled on top.  
I just returned from Chicago on Monday (pictures to come) and am entering the final month of the busy event season.  I have 6 more events that I’m planning/managing before the end of June (3 Bat Mitzvah celebrations, 3 weddings!), so the long weekend was a nice refresh before a lot of intense focus.  
I’ve said this before, but the adventures I take are almost necessary in inspiring me when I feel like I’m in a cooking slump.  New York is an incredible city for food, but sometimes it takes being out of your routine to realize that there are still worlds of ingredients to experiment with.  Thank you to everyone who gave me advice on where to eat in Chicago!  I didn’t make it to all of them, but I had some incredible food during my trip.  The best meal I had came from a restaurant I went to a few years back during my first trip there.  Anyone else as in love with Lula Cafe as I am?  We had a six course vegetarian tasting menu that was amazing… creative, beautiful and delicious!  We managed to snag seats at the chef’s counter, so we got a nice view into the kitchen where all the magic happens.  If you haven’t been there, I can’t recommend it enough!
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Cucumber Mint Soup

3 Cucumbers 
1/2 cup Parsley, chopped
1/3 cup Mint, chopped
3 Scallions, chopped
1 pint Buttermilk
6 oz strained Greek Yogurt
Juice from 1 Lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste
2-3 oz crumbled Feta Cheese (optional)

Peel cucumbers.  Slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.  Sprinkle with salt and let sit for about 30 minutes (this helps remove some of their water).  Coarsely chop.  In a food processor or blender, combine cucumber, mint, parsley, scallions, buttermilk and yogurt.  Blend until smooth, season with salt and pepper (I used a food processor, so there was still some texture to the soup, but you can always strain through a sieve if you’d like).  Chill in the fridge until… chilled.  Serve garnished with about an ounce of feta crumbled on top.  


I just returned from Chicago on Monday (pictures to come) and am entering the final month of the busy event season.  I have 6 more events that I’m planning/managing before the end of June (3 Bat Mitzvah celebrations, 3 weddings!), so the long weekend was a nice refresh before a lot of intense focus.  

I’ve said this before, but the adventures I take are almost necessary in inspiring me when I feel like I’m in a cooking slump.  New York is an incredible city for food, but sometimes it takes being out of your routine to realize that there are still worlds of ingredients to experiment with.  Thank you to everyone who gave me advice on where to eat in Chicago!  I didn’t make it to all of them, but I had some incredible food during my trip.  The best meal I had came from a restaurant I went to a few years back during my first trip there.  Anyone else as in love with Lula Cafe as I am?  We had a six course vegetarian tasting menu that was amazing… creative, beautiful and delicious!  We managed to snag seats at the chef’s counter, so we got a nice view into the kitchen where all the magic happens.  If you haven’t been there, I can’t recommend it enough!

Hey! Like The Bored Vegetarian on Facebook!

Cauliflower Soup with a Parmesan Crisp and Truffle OilWhen I’m feeling a little uninspired in the kitchen, sometimes all it takes is a visit to an amazing restaurant or two to get the wheels turning again.  Usually it’s because I’ve had a new combination of ingredients or take that I hadn’t considered, but sometimes I get inspired to recreate a dish that isn’t as good as I think it could have been.  Case in point the cauliflower soup I had a place in Bushwick recently.  While it wasn’t terrible, I thought it was missing the rich silkiness (ew, that word) that cauliflower can create.  I decided I should try my hand at it at home to see if I could make a version that captured the comforting and warm feeling that soup should give in the deep hellish depths of winter (also known as February in New York.)1 head Cauliflower, trimmed of stalk and leaves1 cup chopped Onion2 cloves Garlic, minced1 1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil6 cups Vegetable Stock1 cup Half & HalfSalt and Pepper to tasteTruffle Oil (optional)In a large pot, saute chopped onion and garlic on low/medium heat until translucent.  Chop cauliflower into small, manageable pieces.  Add to pot and cover with vegetable stock.  Turn heat to medium/high until cauliflower is very soft, about 15-20 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.  Using an immersion blender, blend the stock and vegetables until smooth.  Add half & half and continue to blend.  Salt and pepper to taste.  If soup is too thick, you can add a little water or more half and half.  If it’s too thin, continue to cook until to desired thickness.  Serve hot in a bowl with a drizzle of truffle oil and a parmesan crispFor the Parmesan Crisp1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese(for those asking, BelGioioso makes a rennet-free parm)Preheat oven broil.  Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread cheese in an even layer so that you can’t see the area of paper, about 4-5 inches around.  Broil in oven until cheese melts and begins to crisp and brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Break into pieces and serve with soup.  Thanks to Mardi of Sprout & Pea for coming over for dinner and to share an amazing bottle of First Fruit from Shinn Vineyard on Long Island that I’ve been holding onto for far too long.  It’s time I made a trip back there…   View high resolution

Cauliflower Soup with a Parmesan Crisp and Truffle Oil

When I’m feeling a little uninspired in the kitchen, sometimes all it takes is a visit to an amazing restaurant or two to get the wheels turning again.  Usually it’s because I’ve had a new combination of ingredients or take that I hadn’t considered, but sometimes I get inspired to recreate a dish that isn’t as good as I think it could have been.  Case in point the cauliflower soup I had a place in Bushwick recently.  While it wasn’t terrible, I thought it was missing the rich silkiness (ew, that word) that cauliflower can create.  I decided I should try my hand at it at home to see if I could make a version that captured the comforting and warm feeling that soup should give in the deep hellish depths of winter (also known as February in New York.)

1 head Cauliflower, trimmed of stalk and leaves
1 cup chopped Onion
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 cups Vegetable Stock
1 cup Half & Half
Salt and Pepper to taste
Truffle Oil (optional)

In a large pot, saute chopped onion and garlic on low/medium heat until translucent.  Chop cauliflower into small, manageable pieces.  Add to pot and cover with vegetable stock.  Turn heat to medium/high until cauliflower is very soft, about 15-20 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.  Using an immersion blender, blend the stock and vegetables until smooth.  Add half & half and continue to blend.  Salt and pepper to taste.  If soup is too thick, you can add a little water or more half and half.  If it’s too thin, continue to cook until to desired thickness.  Serve hot in a bowl with a drizzle of truffle oil and a parmesan crisp

For the Parmesan Crisp

1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese

(for those asking, BelGioioso makes a rennet-free parm)

Preheat oven broil.  Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread cheese in an even layer so that you can’t see the area of paper, about 4-5 inches around.  Broil in oven until cheese melts and begins to crisp and brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Break into pieces and serve with soup.  

Thanks to Mardi of Sprout & Pea for coming over for dinner and to share an amazing bottle of First Fruit from Shinn Vineyard on Long Island that I’ve been holding onto for far too long.  It’s time I made a trip back there…  

Black-Eyed Peas & Collard Greens SoupIt’s a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Years for good luck and prosperity for the upcoming year.  Sounds good to me.1/2 pound of Black-Eyed Peas (soaked overnight)1 bunch of Collard Greens, thick stems removed, leaves chopped1 large Onion, chopped3 Carrots, peeled and sliced1 container Vegetable BrothExtra Virgin Oil1 tsp Liquid Hickory SmokeSalt & Pepper to taste
In a large pot, saute onion in a bit of olive oil until it begins to soften.  Add carrots and black-eyed peas and cover with vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes and then lower to low/medium heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes until peas and carrots are soft.  Add collard greens and liquid smoke and stir.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to simmer for 20-25 mins more.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.  View high resolution

Black-Eyed Peas & Collard Greens Soup

It’s a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Years for good luck and prosperity for the upcoming year.  Sounds good to me.

1/2 pound of Black-Eyed Peas (soaked overnight)
1 bunch of Collard Greens, thick stems removed, leaves chopped
1 large Onion, chopped
3 Carrots, peeled and sliced
1 container Vegetable Broth
Extra Virgin Oil
1 tsp Liquid Hickory Smoke
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large pot, saute onion in a bit of olive oil until it begins to soften.  Add carrots and black-eyed peas and cover with vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes and then lower to low/medium heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes until peas and carrots are soft.  Add collard greens and liquid smoke and stir.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to simmer for 20-25 mins more.  Remove from heat and serve immediately. 

Soup Redux

Forgive me while I work a bit backwards.  I plan on sharing what I made for Thanksgiving, but right now my mind is on the Ginger Carrot soup I just finished eating.  There’s something about chilly, windy days that give me the urge to hide away in my apartment for a few hours, turn on some music (thank you, David Vandervelde and Laura Veirs for providing the soundtrack) and spend some time creating something tasty.  

Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup
5 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3-4 tbls of fresh ginger (grated with a microplane)
1 can lite coconut milk
1 tbls coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you want it really spicy)
olive oil
salt
pepper
water (or vegetable stock if you prefer)

In a large pot, saute onion and garlic with olive oil and salt until it starts to brown.  Add in carrots and cover with water.  Bring to a boil until carrots are tender.  Using a handblender, blend ingredients until smooth.  Add grated ginger, coriander and cayenne pepper.  Blend and season with salt and pepper.  Continue to heat until soup is at the consistency you prefer.  Serve hot!

I’ve been back from Boston for a few days now - I ended up cutting my trip a little short since I was missing my bed and needed to deal with a driver’s license renewal situation.  It was great to catch up with some of my friends there… and snuggle with my favorite dog, Roger.  Here he is a few years back loving on my John Vanderslice pillowcase:


As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a great time in Louisiana/Mississippi.  I’m still uploading/editing pictures from the trip, but here’s some highlights.  

My hosts, Chris and Sabrina Watson (check out Chris’ label, Park the Van! Home to The Generationals, Dr. Dog and more!) Chris is holding avocado cream pops. They were good.

 

Woodville, MS


 Natchez, MS


Lafayette, LA

Natchez-Vidalia Bridge, LA side

 

Cotton field, somewhere in Louisiana

 

Louisiana swamp (airboat tour)


I’m really happy that I took the two days to drive up through Mississippi and back down through Louisiana.  Not only was it a beautiful drive, but I got to visit a lot of tiny little towns, talk to different people and dig through all sorts of antiques.  One store owner talked to me about finding treasures buried in the backyard of his Civil War home, another about his trip to New York as a teenager.  I put my foot in the Mississipi River.  I got a schooling on Southern prejudice.  I perfected my faux-accent.  More photos/stories of New Orleans in my next post.  I can’t wait to go back.

Soup Season

I blinked a few weeks ago and now suddenly it’s October and I’m tracking leaves and mud into my apartment and cursing myself for not thinking to bring a jacket.  With this colder weather comes the craving for heartier, warmer meals full of greens and gourds.

Mmm soup. 

Vegetarian Minestrone
Does anyone else get Olive Garden flashbacks from the word “minestrone”?

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cups kale, chopped
2 cups of dry pasta (I used Ditalini)
2 tbls dry oregano
1 tbls dry basil
1 1/2 containers vegetable stock
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbls olive oil

In a large pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until tender.  Pour in vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.  Add tomato, basil and oregano.  Add red pepper and carrots.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add in dry pasta and continue to simmer until al dente.  Finally, stir in kale and remove from heat.  Season to taste and serve immediately.  

A few notes: I mistakenly did not use enough liquid, and once the pasta started absorbing, it quickly started to disappear. Feel free to add a bit of water (and reseason accordingly) prior to adding the pasta.  

 

Squash Soup with Thyme and Honey

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 squash, rind(?) removed, chopped (I used Spaghetti Squash.. more on that later)
1 1/2 tbls honey
1 tbls fresh thyme
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
water

 In a small pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until it starts to brown.  Add in chopped squash and cover with water.  Season with salt & pepper and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer and cook until squash is soft.  Add thyme and honey and stir.  Continue to simmer. Once everything is incorporated, turn off heat and let cool.

Use a hand blender, blend soup until smooth consistency.  Return to heat and simmer until soup is at the thickness you prefer.  Serve.

Some notes: My mom used to make us “spaghetti” using spaghetti squash as the noodles.  I can’t remember the squash being bitter, but this soup had a bit of a bitter aftertaste.   Next time I would probably use a different squash - butternut perhaps? 

I’d love to update you on what I’ve been up to since the last time I did a proper post, but there’s been too much to cover.  Instead I’ll just share some of my favorite photos from the last few weeks and let you come to your own conclusions.

The next few weeks are full of birthday celebrations, visitors & house guests, some CMJing and the start of my photo class (ack!) I love fall.

Copy Cat

Every once in a while, when dining at a restaurant, I’ll pull out a pen and paper (oh fine, I pull out my iPhone) and jot down the ingredients of whatever delicious thing I’m eating so that I can recreate it at home.  I’ve done this twice in the last couple of weeks - once at Rick Bayless’(!) Frontera Grill in Chicago, and then again at Back Forty in the East Village.  My homemade version is usually not exact, but I like getting inspired by other people’s food.

I hadn’t had a Sunday night dinner in a while, so I invited over Kasey, Noel, Mads and Bjorn tonight to help me test these recipes out.  Then we watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and tried not to fall into a food coma.  Success!

Jicama Salad (inspired by Frontera Grill)
Jicama is insanely difficult to find in New York.  I looked at three grocery stores before giving up and going to the Whole Foods.  Bjorn was able to find one at C-town, so now I have enough Jicama to last me through the summer.  Or at least the next two weeks.

1 Jicama root
Juice of 2-3 limes (I used a lemon too, cause my limes weren’t being as juicy as I wanted.)
chopped cilantro
salt to taste

Peel the Jicama and julienne.  Toss with lime juice, cilanto and salt.

Homemade Foccacia Croutons
Foccacia bread, cubed (I bought a small chunk from Whole Foods for less than $2)
2 tbls butter
garlic salt

Melt butter in a saute pan and add bread, tossing to coat.  Let bread begin to brown and crisp, and sprinkle with garlic salt.


Chilled Pea Soup (inspired by Back Forty)
The soup I had at Back Forty was mind-blowingly good and I must accept the fact that I will never be able to recreate it.

2 bags of frozen peas
4 cups of vegetable stock
2 1/2 cups of plain yogurt
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
white truffle oil (just a drizzle!)

In a large saute pan, combine peas and stock and heat on medium.  In a small pan, saute scallions in olive oil until soft.  Transfer peas, stock and scallions to a food processor, add yogurt and blend until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

I garnished with the croutons and mache lettuce, which I bought on a whim today.

Spaghetti with Artichokes, Lemon and Ricotta (via Paris and Back)

1 lemon, halved
1 can or jar of artichoke hearts
1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound of spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 cup ricotta cheese (homemade perhaps?)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Bring pasta to a boil

Place the oil and garlic in a large skillet.  Drain artichokes and pat dry.  Add to pan.  Turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the artichokes begin to crisp and lightly brown.  About half way through, add the juice from both lemon halves over the browning artichokes.


Before draining your cooked pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water in case you need a little moisture later.  Drain the pasta when it reaches al dente, but do not rinse.

Once the artichokes are browned, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the pasta with the artichokes and parsley, adding the reserved pasta water as needed.  Serve immediately with a heaping spoonful of the ricotta on top or other grated cheese as you like.

(I only loosely followed this recipe.)

Kasey made a watermelon and feta salad that was super delicious, which I failed to photograph.  So refreshing! 

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