The Bored Vegetarian

Quinoa with Roasted Sweet Potato, Dinosaur Kale, Chickpeas and Green OnionServes 3-4
1 cup Quinoa2 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Stock3 cups Sweet Potato, peeled and cut into small cubes2 cups Dinosaur Kale, stems removed, leaves chopped1 cup Chickpeas (recommend that you use dried and follow cooking directions on the bag)1/8 cup Green Onion, chopped (white/light green only)1 1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil1/3 tsp PaprikaSalt & Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Toss to coat.  Season with salt and sprinkle with paprika.  Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft, tossing halfway through.  In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of vegetable stock to a boil.  Add quinoa and stir. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked through and the liquid has mostly evaporated.  In a saute pan, saute the kale and chickpeas in remaining olive oil.  Add quinoa and sweet potato and toss everything together.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon into a serving bowl and top with green onion.  Serve warm.  View high resolution

Quinoa with Roasted Sweet Potato, Dinosaur Kale, Chickpeas and Green Onion

Serves 3-4

1 cup Quinoa
2 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Stock
3 cups Sweet Potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 cups Dinosaur Kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
1 cup Chickpeas (recommend that you use dried and follow cooking directions on the bag)
1/8 cup Green Onion, chopped (white/light green only)
1 1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 tsp Paprika
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Toss to coat.  Season with salt and sprinkle with paprika.  Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft, tossing halfway through.  In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of vegetable stock to a boil.  Add quinoa and stir. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked through and the liquid has mostly evaporated.  In a saute pan, saute the kale and chickpeas in remaining olive oil.  Add quinoa and sweet potato and toss everything together.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon into a serving bowl and top with green onion.  Serve warm. 

Roasted Cauliflower Steak with Whipped Feta and Scallions1 large Cauliflower head, trimmed1/4 pound Feta Cheese2 ounces Cream Cheese2 Tbsp Heavy Cream1 Tbsp fresh Lemon Juice2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive OilScallions for garnishSalt & Pepper to tastePreheat oven to 375.  Place flat side of cauliflower on cutting board and cut 3/4 inch “steaks” from the middle of the head.  In a pan, heat olive oil and sear each side of the cauliflower, flipping to brown each side.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and roast on a cookie sheet on the lowest rack of the oven until tender.  In a food processor, blend feta, cream cheese, cream cheese and lemon juice until smooth.  Spoon whipped feta onto plate with a cauliflower steak.  Garnish with scallion.    
Last week’s Valentine’s Market was a great time, even with the blizzard.  Thank you to everyone who stopped by our table and sampled or bought a jar of nutella.  Markets of New York did a nice post about our wares.  Check it out! View high resolution

Roasted Cauliflower Steak with Whipped Feta and Scallions

1 large Cauliflower head, trimmed
1/4 pound Feta Cheese
2 ounces Cream Cheese
2 Tbsp Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp fresh Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Scallions for garnish
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.  Place flat side of cauliflower on cutting board and cut 3/4 inch “steaks” from the middle of the head.  In a pan, heat olive oil and sear each side of the cauliflower, flipping to brown each side.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and roast on a cookie sheet on the lowest rack of the oven until tender.  In a food processor, blend feta, cream cheese, cream cheese and lemon juice until smooth.  Spoon whipped feta onto plate with a cauliflower steak.  Garnish with scallion.    

Last week’s Valentine’s Market was a great time, even with the blizzard.  Thank you to everyone who stopped by our table and sampled or bought a jar of nutella.  Markets of New York did a nice post about our wares.  Check it out!

Muffins!

I wasn’t sure what to do with my day until after I stepped outside this morning. Remember yesterday when it was 68 degrees? That was nice.  Today it’s a cold and windy trash storm.  Laundry and cooking it is.  

For Christmas, my mom bought me these strange silicon baking pans from Flexipan.  They’re bendy, non-stick and small enough to fit in my sad little convection oven.  I decided on Gorgonzola and Fresh Herb muffins for this morning.  As you can see from the picture, I wasn’t monitoring them as closely as I should have and the tops browned a little too much (hey! I was getting my laundry.)  The original recipe recommends using ramekins, but I wanted something a bit more bitesize. 

Gorgonzola and Fresh Herb Muffins (adapted from Dalmatia Gourmande)

1 cup whole milk
3.5 oz fresh Gorgonzola cheese
2 eggs
4 Tbsp. butter
1 cup plain flour + extra if needed
1 clove garlic, finely grated
2 pinches of salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, finely minced (I used less)
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  If you’re using ramekins, brush with butter (I made smaller muffins.) In a pot, heat milk and butter until butter has melted.  Add finely chopped gorgonzola and heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add grated garlic, oregano, thyme, crushed pepper, salt & pepper.  Remove from heat (let it cool so that you don’t cook the eggs when you add them.) Stir in eggs and flour, mixing well.  If necessary, add more flour until mixture is slightly thick. 

Fill ramekins or muffin tin and bake for 30-40 mins.  Check the middle with a toothpick.

The silicone pan popped them out super easy. Even with the too-toasted tops, these were delicious and perfect for a lazy weekend brunch.
I’m already preparing meal #2 today… sweet potato gnocchi with melted onion & parmasean broth and crispy sage.  I’ve never made gnocchi before, so this could be a disaster.  In the meantime, here’s some pictures from the last few weeks. 



Post-Thanksgiving Ramble

I realize that the week after Thanksgiving the last thing people want to think about is cooking, but as it is the holiday season and everyone and their mother is having a dinner party, it’s always good to have a few recipe ideas on hand.  These Brussels sprouts were a major hit at the Thanksgiving dinner I attended.  If you pay any attention to this blog, or perhaps my life generally, you probably know I’ve been nuts for B. Sprouts for the past two years.  There was a few times last year that I had to stop myself from eating them every day. I digress, let’s get to the recipe.

Sweet Lemon + Thyme Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts, trimmed an cut in half
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
zest of one lemon, plus juice
2-3 tbls brown sugar
1-2 tbls fresh thyme
Olive oil
salt + pepper to taste

Toast pecans in a 350 degree oven until brown.  In a large pan, saute Brussels sprouts in a olive oil with salt until they start to brown. Turn frequently. Lower the heat a bit and add pecans. Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Toss the sprout/pecans until evenly coated.  Toss in lemon zest and thyme.  Salt and pepper to taste and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.  

In addition to the Brussels, I whipped up some cheesy mashed red potatoes.  Mashed potatoes have saved me at many a family meal. To give you an idea, my Aunt Linda and Uncle Gary just sent out the invite to Christmas Eve. On the menu: prime rib and turkey.  I am forever grateful that my family loves to over-prepare with 8 million sides and appetizers (and bottles of wine!)  I’ve always been a well fed vegetarian, even in a world of salmon, bacon and prime rib.

 

Cheesy Roasted Garlic and Chive Mashed Red Potatoes (these are really unhealthy.  Sorry! Also, this makes enough for 10 people…)

1 bag of red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
1 wedge Fontina cheese, grated
3/4 container of light sour cream
1 head of garlic
1/2 chives, chopped
Butter
salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot, cover potatoes with water and throw in a few pinches of salt.  Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are very tender.  Chop the tops off of the head of garlic and remove any excess skin.  Douse in a good amount of olive oil and wrap in foil.  Roast at 350 until the cloves are very soft.  Remove potatoes from heat and drain water.  Add in garlic, butter and sour cream.  Begin mashing, adding in more butter and/or sour cream as needed.  Mix in Fontina cheese.  Once mixture is a smooth consistency, add in chives and salt and pepper to taste.

(On a side note: I wish I had used milk as well.  You probably should.)

I spent Thanksgiving in Greenpoint at the lovely apartment of Brooke and Ryan.  We ate, we drank, we danced.  I was so full by the end of dinner that I couldn’t touch the spread of pies that people had brought.  Once things were winding down, I headed to The Drink, the bar that a few friends are opening very soon.  I hadn’t been there in a couple of months, and it’s looking amazing.  I’m hoping I’ll get to visit again before I head home next week.  

Speaking of home - I’m referring to Washington State, where I was born and bred.  I’ll be there for a long stretch - 2 1/2 weeks.  Plenty of time to see my niece, catch up with old friends, hug my family and breathe some fresh air.  

Finally, I still have a few to edit/upload, but here’s another batch of photos from Louisiana.

Bourbon Street 



Swing dancers on Royal

 



Amazing duo on Royal

 

View of the French Quarter

Gator faces

 

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.

Cabbage Patch

Oh October, you escaped me so quickly.  With so many birthday parties, a trip upstate, many hours wandering New York trying to snap a decent photograph, CMJ and other activities, I’ve barely spent a minute in the kitchen.  My fridge is a cold barren wasteland with a single egg, a wilting red pepper and not much else.  I will be better! Soon!  

Many weeks ago, I did make some cabbage that is great for an easy side, but before I get to that, some proof that I’ve been doing more than… well, than doing nothing.  

Enough of non-food pictures!  It’s cabbage time.

Boiled Cabbage
3/4 head of Green Cabbage, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 white onion, sliced
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tbls granulated sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp oregano (optional) 
water

In a large pot, add cabbage, onion, carrots and white vinegar.  Fill with water until vegetables are covered.  Bring to a boil.  Add salt, pepper, sugar and oregano.  Continue to simmer until cabbage is soft, but not mush.  Remove from heat and serve, straining out liquid with a slotted spoon.

Many recipes that I saw for cabbage said to use butter, but I see no need.  The vinegar does give this a little bite, which I love.  This was one of those dishes that I made on the fly that left me impressed with myself.   So simple, healthy and delicious.  

I intend to get back to cooking very soon - but first I’ll be spending a week in Louisiana and Mississippi starting Tuesday.  I plan on driving along the Mississippi River through Woodville and Natchez, spending a night there.  Then, hopefully Baton Rouge, and back down to New Orleans, where I’ll be for a few more nights.  I haven’t spent much time down South, so I’m very excited to explore.  Please give me any recommendations you may have!

After I get back, I drive up to Boston to work for a week, and then it’s Thanksgiving!  Whew!

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.

Stuffed French Toast

Look at these strawberries I picked up today! 

Since I was up early for a ill-conceived McCarren run this morning, I figured I might as well make breakfast when I got home.  I’ve made stuffed french toast in the past, most recently for last year’s Pre-Easter Brunch Dinner Party (what??) Usually I use cream cheese and jam, but I thought I’d experiment a bit this time.  I had some leftover mint I’ve been needing to use, and with the discovery of some lovely strawberries, I came up with the following.  Slaving over a hot stove in the summer is my specialty. 

Lemon Ricotta Stuffed French Toast with Strawberry Mint Sauce

Lemon Ricotta Stuffing
1/2 container of skim ricotta (or you can make your own!)
1 1/2 lemons (juice and zest!)

Mix ricotta, zest and juice of lemon.

Strawberry Mint Sauce
2 cups of strawberries
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 mint, chopped

Chop up strawberries and pulse in food processor or blender.  Add sugar and mint and pulse until smooth.

French Toast
1 loaf good bread, sliced thick
4 eggs
1 tbls vanilla
1/2 cup milk
butter for pan

Whisk eggs, vanilla and milk together in a container (make sure it’s big enough to fit the bread!)

Take a slice of bread and spread lemon ricotta on one side.  Make a sandwich!  In a pan, melt butter.  Dip stuffed bread in the egg mixture until well coated.  Add to pan and cook until brown.  Flip!

Remove from heat and top with several spoonfuls of strawberry mint sauce.

Make sure you’re prepare to be ridiculously full after eating this.  The ricotta is a bit rich, but balances well with the fresh strawberry and mint. 

Today is going to be a busy day.  I’m headed over to Berry Park to watch the World Cup, and then to the park for a picnic prepared by Bergur, who generously offered to make lunch for everyone.  I hear he’s an amazing cook, so I’m looking forward to it.  Then tonight, I’m headed over to check out the Creators Project at Milk Studios.  Whew!

Baked Polenta with Heirloom Tomato Salad

I’m convinced that my friend Melissa spends as much time staring wide-eyed at recipes online as I do.  She sends me ideas several times a week - either things she has made, wants to make, or places where she wants to eat.  The latest was this Baked Polenta recipe that she found on Epicurious.  What’s great about a basic polenta is that you can go as wild as you want with the accompaning ingredients. Melissa and Sean made theirs with sauteed spinach, garlic and chicken sausage on top.  I took an even more simplistic approach… a cheesy baked polenta with a fresh heirloom tomato salad on top.  This could easily be served hot or cold, and would be a great idea for a weekend brunch.

Baked Polenta

1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup yellow grain polenta
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bring milk and vegetable broth to a boil in a sauce pan.  Add in garlic and garlic and stir.  Pour polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly.  Turn heat down on stove. Add salt and pepper and stir until mixture is a incorporated.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese.

Spray a ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.  Pour polenta evenly into dish and put into oven, cooking until the top is golden brown.

Remove from oven, top with remaining cheese, and put back in oven until the cheese melts.


Heirloom Tomato Salad

1 cup heirloom tomatoes, chopped
chopped cilantro
juice of 1/2 of lemon
salt & pepper to taste
drizzle of white truffle oil (I finally ran out of this! I’ve made too much truffled popcorn over the last couple of weeks.  Whoops!)

Toss ingredients together and pile on baked polenta.  

You know, one of these days my landlord is going to discover me taking food pics on my dirty stairs leading up to the yard I don’t get to use.  I look forward to that day.

Ris-ot-to, Ris-ot-to, Ris-ot-tohhhhh

Anyone seen Hook? Ohh fine. 

I  was winding down my work day and asking for dinner suggestions, when someone mentioned risotto.  Scary, scary risotto.  I’m not a huge fan of rice in general, and the fact that risotto has always seemed so labor-intensive has kept me far away.  Don’t ask why I have a bag of it in my “legumes drawer” (I just named it that, but it’s the truth. Too many kinds of lentils.  I’m taking after my mother.)

I digress.

Anyway, I happened upon a risotto recipe this morning as I was browsing Tastespottting, so I headed to the Key Foods and gathered the remaining ingredients.  This is a rich dish, my dear readers.  Prepare yourselves. 

Pistachio & Gorgonzola Risotto (via Closet Cooking)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup arborio rice (or other medium or short grained rice)
1/2 cup wine (I bought some cheap Pinot Grigio from the Polish man down the street.  He never puts price tags on things and I swear he just charges based on his mood.)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup gorgonzola dolce (crumbled) (I don’t know what “dolce” means, but I used the precrumbled G from the lame cheese section at Key Foods)
1 tablespoon butter
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped (I had to unshell these stupid things. Whatta pain.)

Directions:
1. Heat butter in large sauce pan.
2. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter.
5. Add the wine, deglaze the pan and stir while simmering until it is gone.
6. Add 1/2 cup of the stock at a time and stir (STIRRING IS KEY!) while simmering until it is gone. Continue until the rice is al dente.
7. Add the gorgonzola and butter and stir until melted.
8. Add the pistachios and serve.

Since the risotto was a bit labor intensive and rich, I kept my side very simple. Blanched asparagus! In my opinion, this is the best way to guarantee your asparagus isn’t limp and that sad green/brown color.  It turns a nice healthy green!

Blanched Asparagus

Ingredients:
Asparagus
Water

Directions
Boil a pot of water.
Snap the ends off of the asparagus and add to water.
Cook for about 30 seconds (they’ll turn bright green)
Dump into a colander and either run under cold water, or put into an ice bath, depending on how lazy you are.

That’s it!  It makes the perfect al dente asparagus in the loveliest color.

This proved to be an adventure in cooking since they’re doing some work on the electricity to my building and the power kept going in and out. 

In a semi-related note, I can’t sing enough praises about my Chef’n Garlic Zoom.  My mom bought this for me two years ago and I use it more than any other kitchen gadget.  Stick peeled garlic cloves in the top, run the thing back and forth a couple of times, and you’ve got nicely chopped garlic.  So easy!!  I tried to explain its function to my friend Jeff, and he replied “so this is for people that don’t have knives?”

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