Category Archives: vegetarian

Curried raw kale, roasted red pepper, and spelt salad

It’s spring here, so I’ve been enjoying my life here in Sydney by refinishing furniture (as pictured here),

replanting seeds, and getting up to my usual shenanigans in the kitchen. This curried salad is from one of my CSA box experiments, and uses up some of the first signs of summer’s impending heat in the form of a roasted red pepper and some beautiful curly kale. I can’t wait until I have enough of my own produce to try a version of this from our balcony garden.

Curried raw kale, roasted red pepper, and spelt salad

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Filed under almonds, experiments, local, main, quick meals, raisins, salad, seasonal, side, spelt, vegan, vegetarian

Georgian porcini, mushroom, and black pepper flatbread

Bread is a staple in our household.  I don’t actually eat a lot of it — if it were just me, I would maybe make it through half a loaf before it went stale — but it’s James’s favorite snack.  And if you’re trying to eat less salt, going to the corner store to buy a baguette isn’t really a very good option.  Most bread (even the good stuff) is pretty high in sodium, to the point where places that make saltless bread are considered anomalous somehow.  And seriously, who chooses Pugliese when they could have a good french baguette?  So I’ve been playing around with various flatbread recipes, just to see if there’s a quick, easy, and tasty substitute for bread that doesn’t need a lot of salt, stores well, and can be used to make sandwiches.  This Georgian flatbread recipe is the best I’ve tried so far.

The original recipe is from Jeffrey Alford’s Flatbreads and Flavors: A Baker’s Atlas, which I’ve only been cooking from for a short time but have had consistent success with.  His recipe is for a cheese bread — you make a rather plain dough and fill it with a feta cheese mix, kind of like a cheese pasty but with softer dough.  My version starts with his dough recipe, but I incorporate porcini powder, sauteed minced shallots, and black pepper into the dough as I knead to give it more flavor.  What you end up with is a soft bread (almost biscuit-like) with a rich, earthy, savory taste that can be eaten plain or, better still, toasted with a bit of butter.

This recipe is quite versatile — I imagine you could use the same procedure I describe below for any flavoring you desire.  And it is very quick — you do all the prep work while the oven is preheating, and then just shove them in.  6 minutes later, you have bread.

Georgian Flatbread with Porcini, Shallot, and Black Pepper

Makes 8 ~6″ rounds.

  • olive oil
  • 2 T. porcini powder (or any minced, strongly flavored mushroom)
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • ~ 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 3-4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 c. greek yogurt (low fat is fine)
  • 1/2 c. milk

Preheat oven to 450°F / 230°C.

Saute minced shallots, porcini powder, and black pepper in olive oil until soft.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Start with 3 c. flour. Stir in the baking powder, then add the greek yogurt and milk.  Stir (probably with your hands, if you’re me) until the dough comes together.  If it’s too wet, add a bit more flour. Sprinkle a hard surface with flour, turn out the dough, and knead for 4 minutes or so, adding more flour as necessary.  It should feel soft and smooth and be fairly easy to work with — if it’s too hard, add a bit more milk or water.  Once you’re happy with the dough, flatten it out a bit and make a well in the center.  Put the shallot mix in the well, then fold the dough over the mix and keep kneading. This is supposed to be a little messy; it will eventually result in an evenly flavored dough.

Shape the dough into 8 round, flat breads (like tortillas, though the dough isn’t quite that stretchy).  Place on parchment-lined baking trays, and place in the oven.  Bake for 6-10 minutes (depending on how brown / crunchy you want them and how accurate your oven temperature is).  Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container until you want to use them.

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Filed under baking, low fat, low sodium, mushrooms, quick bread, shallots, vegetarian

French tart

I have a sinking suspicion I’ll get more interesting hits for the title of this post than usual. But I’m not sure how to describe it. Blasphemous tart dough? Perhaps. The recipe is from here (I won’t repeat it here), and when I saw the instructions, I headed straight for the kitchen. See, I hate making tart crusts. I screw them up almost every time.  But this one looked simple — foolproof, in fact.

Which is why I messed with the recipe, and sort of stopped following directions at some point. Typical.

I substituted olive oil for vegetable oil, and used 3 oz all purpose flour, 2 oz almond flour instead of just 5 oz. all purpose flour.  I also had no sugar, so I used golden syrup in its place.  Everything else was pretty much the same.  I did not parbake the shell before filling it (with pineapple and quince jam and some canned pineapple we had in the house — we were getting kind of low on supplies before we left).  In hindsight, I really should have done this, but even despite that, it turned out pretty well.  Here’s the tart, just before going in the oven:

The dough did not hold together, which I expected with the almond flour substitution. This is why I don’t have a plated shot — it looked sort of like a fruit cobbler looks after kids attack.  After ~50 minutes of cooking (which would be shorter if I had parbaked, but I digress), the crust was almost shortbread-like, and paired nicely with the fruit.  I will definitely be making this again … Though maybe I’ll follow the instructions next time.

** I’m on vacation at the moment, and won’t be responding to comments.  This is also the last post I managed to cobble together before I left.  No worries, though — I’ll be back at the end of May with more about my trip! **

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Filed under almonds, baking, dessert, vegetarian

Pumpkin cake

I know what you’re thinking. Pumpkin cake? In spring? Yes, it’s a somewhat odd choice, especially given the 30 degree (Celsius) weather we had this weekend.  For some reason, I woke up Saturday, inhaled the slightly humid New Haven air, and thought squash in dessert form would be a good idea.

Please, someone, I need an intervention.

Ok, so there’s a back story to this. I love pumpkin. We have a party planned for October. And this? it’s the start of our attempt to sort of feel out the menu.  And for your purposes, this is actually quite adaptable.  Swap pumpkin for grated carrot or zucchini, and I think you’ll end up with a semi-healthy and delicious dessert.  Turn it into cupcakes, each with a frosty peak.

Or just do what I really wanted to do and forget healthy: just make the cream cheese frosting.

You will notice we didn’t frost the outside of the cake. We couldn’t have — there wasn’t enough of it left.

Recipe after the jump.

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Filed under baking, dessert, eggs, frosting, ginger, pumpkin, squash, vegetarian

Adventures in curry leaves

I don’t care what anyone says about tofu’s versatility. It has nothing on the lowly potato.  Fry them, roast them, coat them in a slick of olive oil with salt and pepper, and you have dinner. Ok, maybe not the most balanced dinner, but let a girl dream once in a while. If you want something green, broccoli, potato, and sharp cheddar cheese is even tasty if you do get lazy and make everything in a microwave. Not that we own a microwave.*

If you haven’t gathered this already, I will never tire of potatoes.

But I thought I had tried pretty much every variation I could think of, until I came across this recipe from 50 great curries of India, by Camellia Panjabi.  These potatoes are boiled, and then tossed in hot oil with some turmeric, mustard seeds, lentils, chile powder, and curry leaves.  The curry leaves are reminiscent of garam masala, but more vibrant somehow, and they transfer their frangrance to the potatoes far more thoroughly than I would have expected from a quick toss in a pot.

The end result? The most addicting, exotic homefries you will ever taste.  Hot or cold, this dish is both simple and impressive, and goes quite well with any sort of curry.  Or you could just eat them for dinner as is.

The only catch, really, is finding a source of fresh curry leaves.  Around here, the only place I’ve ever seen them is the Asian market in M&M farms, which seems to get boxes of them in sporadically.  Luckily, they freeze well, so stock up.

*For the record, we killed ours. It is resting peacefully in the basement, along with all our other broken stuff that I loathe to get rid of when we finally get out of this city for good.

Recipe after the jump.

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Filed under main, potatoes, side, vegan, vegetarian

Cauliflower? Delicious?

Hell yes.

I’d even tell you the recipe if I had time.  Good thing it’s simple.  Preheat your oven to something like 400ºF/200ºC. Toss cauliflower florets and plain white button mushrooms in oil, with a bit of salt, a teaspoon or so of freshly cracked coriander seeds, and some paprika (to taste — I love the stuff, so maybe I better not advise you on this one).  Shove in the oven for 30 minutes or so. When the cauliflower starts to look golden, grate a healthy portion of gruyere over all of it, return to the oven until the cheese melts, and eat.

All of it.

In one sitting.

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Filed under cauliflower, cheese, mushrooms, vegetarian

Get your greens

Pumpkin saag paneer

Pumpkin saag paneer

I’m never a one-dish girl. Even at my favorite restaurants, I can’t pick up a menu and order something that I’ve had before. God forbid I miss their best dish, even if I know I had it two weeks ago, and there’s no way in hell I’ll ever come close with anything else.  Call it a handicap of mine.

With one exception, that is.  I cannot stop ordering saag paneer.

Spinach!

Spinach!

It’s as if I’m channeling some inner Popeye the second I step into an Indian restaurant. Seriously, it’s a problem, because frankly, I’m a little ashamed of myself.  Until now, that is.

Squash.

Squash.

I’ve tried to make saag paneer at home before, to no avail. The cream and ghee they use in copious quantities in restaurant cooking doesn’t really make it into most cookbooks, because seriously, do you really want to know what you’re eating?  It’s never tasted quite as good. But this recipe, which I adapted from Veganomicon, is genius.  That creamy consistency? They achieve it with squash.

Paneer

Paneer

Kind of surprising, right?  It makes total sense if you think about it, though.  There is a reason butternut squash soup is kind of creamy, even without any cream.  If you’re not easily convinced, you must go cook this now. Seriously — I really think you’ll thank me.  My version is not vegan, because James really wanted to make cheese, and I kind of like paneer, but I think it would have actually been better without it. (James, by the way, agrees. And he had seconds — for a dish with no meat! If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will).

This is a great start to the “eat less meat” challenge I unofficially took on a little while ago.  (It’s been going well — more on that later).

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Filed under cheese, main, spinach, squash, vegetarian