Thursday, November 29, 2012

Vegetarian Mulligatawny: Indian-Inspired Vegetable Stew

Different versions of this spicy, rich Indian stew have been bouncing back and forth between us and our friend Michael from Midtown Stomp. I talk about him a lot here because he's a great friend and really talented with flavors of all kinds. He even has a really cool recipe for Oyster Mushroom Rockefeller in our upcoming cookbook. It was his innovation to add dried cherries instead of boring old raisins and also a dash of cinnamon to the mulligatawny. These additions really upped the ante.

To take it one step further, we've added a simple-but-hugely-flavorful homemade curry paste that easily comes together in the work bowl of your food processor. I stumbled upon this method while developing our Gumbo recipe and thought it would work well here -- and it did! I ate this stew for dinner one night, lunch the next day, and then had it with a poached egg on top for breakfast the following morning. That's how seriously good it is.

Veg m
ulligatawny goes great with our homemade Whole Wheat Naan. You can serve it on top of rice or eat it just how it is. Your call. 

Vegetarian Mulligatawny: Indian-Inspired Vegetable Stew

1 medium onion (roughly chopped)
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger
8 cloves garlic (peeled)
1 medium tomato (cored

2 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sambal
1 tablespoon cane sugar 
(like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1/2 cup lentils
3 cups vegetable broth (more if needed, like Whole Foods 365 brand)

1 tablespoon soy sauce (we like Bragg's)
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
1 medium Russet potato (peeled and diced)
1 medium green pepper (peeled and diced)
1 medium head of cauliflower (broken into florets)

4-5 medium carrots (diced)
1 can coconut milk (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
1 cup salted whole cashews (to garnish)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (to garnish)

Into a food processor place the onion, ginger, garlic, tomato, curry powder, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, sambal, sugar, and vinegar. Blend until a loose paste forms and all ingredients are throughly blended. 

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the curry paste. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the moisture has evaporated and the paste becomes very thick. Add the lentils, broth, and soy sauce. Stir, cover, and allow mixture to cook for 10 minutes to soften the lentils. Add the cherries, potato, pepper, cauliflower, carrots, and coconut milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender. Serve garnished with cashews and cilantro leaves and add a side of naan. (Makes about 3 1/2 quarts or about 6 servings.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Couscous and Feta Stuffed Eggplant

We've had this dish on several occasions, and it's always a hit with both of us. The red pepper and apple add some nice sweet notes to the couscous stuffing, and the feta gives the whole dish a nice salty kick. Oh, and don't skip the sherry vinegar. It adds an little bit of acidity that the dish needs in order to come alive. All of this and pine nuts, too -- it's becoming our new weeknight staple!

I eat mine skin and all while A. scoops each bite from the eggplant skin. There is no right or wrong way to eat this Mediterranean-inspired dish. It's a good thing to make for the family or bring to a dinner party with friends.

We made these from the last eggplants to come out of the family garden. Now all of the tomato, eggplant, cucumber, and pepper plants that provided us with so much summer produce have been added to the compost pile, and Steve has planted loads of cabbage that will do well over the winter.

Couscous and Feta Stuffed Eggplant

4 Italian eggplants (or small American eggplants)
1 box Near East Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil Couscous (available at Whole Foods)
1 1/2 cups diced red pepper (about 1 large)
1 cup diced Gala or Pink Lady apple (peeled, about 1 medium)
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup chopped curly parsley
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Cracked black pepper  (to taste)
4 ounces feta (diced, about 1 cup)
2 eggs (beaten)

1 cup 2% Greek yogurt (to garnish)

Prepare the eggplants using THIS quick and reliable method from Fine Cooking. Set aside the roasted eggplants to cool. This step can be done ahead of time, and the eggplants can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Make the couscous according to package directions. In a large mixing bowl, combine the couscous, red pepper, apple, vinegar, pine nuts, parsley, crushed red pepper, cracked black pepper, feta, and eggs. Mix until all ingrediens are incorporated. 

Using your hands, stuff the eggplants. Gently press the couscous mixture into the eggplant until a mound of filling is firmly packed into the baked eggplant. Place onto a 
parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all filling has been used. If you have a little extra, just bake it in an oven-proof dish as a pre-meal snack.

Bake stuffed eggplants for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm with a dollop of Greek yogurt. (Makes 4 servings.)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Super-Easy Vegetarian Mexican Pizza

Four days of non-stop cooking and Thanksgiving celebrations this week felt like one long, raucous meal with friends and family, a revolving potluck that bounced from house to house. We made our favorite dishes and started some new traditions. And at the end of it, we are exhausted

But then tonight dinnertime rolled around as usual. As expected, we were so hungry again and actually have very few leftovers -- just a few pieces of asparagus, some pecan pie, and the slight, sad end of Sweet Potato Piccata.  This fast-food inspired meal is the perfect thing when assembling -- there's no way something this easy can be called cooking!

Super-Easy Vegetarian Mexican Pizza

2 10-inch whole wheat tortillas
1 tablespoon canola oil (like Whole Foods 365 brand)

1 can refried pinto beans (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 cup shredded smoked mozzarella
2 large Haas avocados
1/2 lime
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

1/2 cup finely shredded cabbage
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1/4 cup sliced picked jalapeños
Hot sauce of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush both sides of each tortilla with the canola oil. Place on a large baking sheet so they don't overlap. Cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle. 

Spread about 1/2 cup of the refried pinto beans on each of the crispy tortillas; you will use more than half the can. Reserve the remainder for another use. Now, sprinkle the cheese on one of the bean-covered tortillas. Return them to the oven for another 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the beans are warmed through. 

Make a simple guacamole by combining the flesh of the avocado and the lime juice in a medium bowl and mashing it with a fork until there are no large chunks left. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to use.

Stack the bean-covered tortilla onto the bean-and-cheese-covered tortilla. Top that with all of the simple guacamole, cabbage, tomato, chives, pickled jalapeño, and hot sauce. Chop it into quarters and serve.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Five Quick Questions with Chef Miles McMath of St. Jude

We were lucky enough to score an interview with one of our favorite chefs, Miles McMath of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital here in Memphis, Tennessee. He has a unique mission in the kitchen: to help the kids of St. Jude heal by providing them and their families nourishing food free of charge. What he and his amazing staff do on a daily basis is so important. Miles is one of the big reasons why I run the Memphis Marathon as a St. Jude Hero. Our friends and readers have been so kind; we have already busted down our $2,500 goal and raised almost $3,500 for the kids of St. Jude, but why stop there?

The Chubby Vegetarian: You have a lot of experience in using diet to promote the heath and recovery of the kids of St. Jude. Knowing what you know, what advice can you give the rest of us about this connection and how it pertains to our own health? 

Miles McMath: Eat real food. That has been my primary approach here and at home.  
Whether you’re shopping for groceries or cooking your meals, get your kids involved. Learn to read nutritional labels and teach this to your kids when you’re shopping. Compare and contrast the difference in nutritional content between products (i.e., potato chips and noodles) and help them select the healthiest meals and snacks for their lunch boxes. The key is to also give them a bit of freedom to choose which food products they want. If they select something that is unhealthy, gently remind them of the nutritional content and advise them that they should only eat them occasionally as a treat. When cooking, show them what really goes into the foods they eat and let them help out by ‘decorating’ and garnishing the food, stirring the soup, or setting the table. This encourages kids to be proactive at home and understand about nutritious foods, and it promotes family togetherness.  

This has been a huge success here at St. Jude.  Most of our menus are “Build Your Own.”  This allows kids to be in control of their choices.   Rather than just give a child broccoli, ask them, Which one would you like: broccoli, cauliflower, or kale? 

Have conversations about food. We sit down and discuss likes and dislikes with the kids at St. Jude. This allows us to have an end result that we are both happy with and will best benefit their recovery.

TCV: Right now, what's your current favorite fall dish to make at home for your family? 

MM: Anything that is currently growing in the garden.  Quick sautés such as kale, broccoli or collards with nothing more than a little salt and a splash of vinegar. We’ve also been eating a lot of brown popcorn rice from Cache River Rice in Arkansas.  The kids love it because it smells just like fresh popped popcorn.

TCV: Your pickle bars at local events are already legendary! Would you be willing to share your pickling recipe with our readers? 

MM: Most of our pickles are quick pickles or “Ice Box” pickles (recipe follows).  It's really simple: the fresher the produce, the better the final product.  Just about anything can be quick-pickled. Cucumbers are the most common choice, but any nice, crisp vegetable will do: green beans, cauliflower, carrots, shallots, onions, asparagus — they all make terrific pickles.

Because there are so many different and subtle variations in pickle preparations, everything from the dilution of the vinegar to the inclusion or not of sugar to the selection of flavoring spices, we recommend starting with a basic vinegar-water-salt-sweetener ratio. I have included the ratio that we use here at St. Jude.

 TCV: The St. Jude garden has nearly 60 raised beds and a high tunnel, and the fact that y'all grow much of your own food is so cool. What ingredient has got your attention right now, and what are you doing with it? 

MM: Right now we are finishing up on tomatoes and peppers.  We are pickling and frying the green tomatoes. The peppers are small due to the cold weather, so we are stuffing them and making pepper jelly.  We're still getting a lot of fresh herbs, and we use those daily. Johnny, a chef here from Cambodia, uses the pepper and tomato tops in Asian dishes.  This creates incredible flavors. We are also focusing on building up our compost for next year and keeping our worms producing through the winter.

TCV: On average, St. Jude treats about 7,800 active patients a year. Not one of them pays for treatment -- or even a meal. How important are the amounts that individual donors can give in terms of providing for this?   

MM: Events like the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend are important because St. Jude Heroes are a special group of race participants who raise additional funds for the hospital by obtaining pledges from friends and family. Amazingly, it costs $1.8 million each day to run the hospital, and 75 percent of those funds come from public contributions.

St. Jude Basic Pickling Recipe
  1. Make the brine: The main ingredient in pickle brine is vinegar. White vinegar is most common, but you can also use cider vinegar, wine vinegar, pretty much anything except balsamic, which is too syrupy and would overpower your pickles. Some recipes call for straight vinegar; others dilute it with up to 3 times its volume with water.
  2. Salt is nearly always included in the brine. It draws moisture out of the vegetables, and it encourages the growth of useful bacteria. Amounts vary, from less than a teaspoon to over a tablespoon per cup of liquid.
  3. Many recipes include sweeteners. Sugar is most common, but you'll also see brown sugar and honey. Sweeteners are most often used when vinegar is not diluted with water.

Basic Icebox Pickling Brine Ratio

1 cup vinegar - 1/2 cup water - 2 teaspoons kosher salt – sweetener to taste
  1. Combine ingredients and bring to a boil.
  2. Place vegetables in a clean, dry glass container just large enough to hold all the vegetables. Pour boiling brine over vegetables to cover completely. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Pickles will keep for about 10 days.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Vegetarian Thanksgiving 2012

Oh, Thanksgiving: you're almost here! It's our favorite holiday, and we're so looking forward to the week. What could be better than the focus on gratitude, family, and some really great meals? We have grocery shopping today, a ton of prep from here on out, and a lot of cooking to schedule since it looks like the festivities are going to crank up on Monday night and gallop on until Thursday night rest-time. It is going to be a blast to see all the family that we have in town, and my only wish is that the New Orleans branch could be here, too. We will be there with y'all in spirit for sure. 

This wonderful turn of events last week really helped us shine a light on the idea that not every Thanksgiving dinner is focused on a turkey. So for a little inspiration and pre-gaming fun, here are some of our favorite vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes from the past along with a couple of new ones we've been testing out this fall. 

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Leave a comment below or ask a question if you have one, and maybe we can all figure it out together. 

The Mains: 
Stuffed Acorn Squash

Vegetarian Dumplings

Squash and Sage Lasagna

The Sides: 

The Pies: 
Bourbon Pecan Tart

Sweet Potato Pie with Rosemary Cookie Crust

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Vegetarian Shiitake Ramen

I loved ramen as a kid. It was one of those easy-to-make vegetarian meals that I could fix on my own in minutes. With me and two brothers in the house, we kept a pallet of ramen around at all times. Last weekend while watching The Mind of a Chef, David Chang's new PBS show, I got inspired to make a grown-up version of one of my childhood favorites. 
      The key here is the vegetarian broth, which employs kombu and dried shiitake to give it body and flavor. According to the Umami Information Center, dried shiitake mushrooms contain a high level of naturally occurring glutamate which boosts the mushroom's umami flavor.
      "This doesn't taste vegetarian," my wife called out from across the table...mission accomplished. 
      (I guess it may look like some of the following ingredients might be difficult to find, but fear not: we found everything last night at Whole Foods.) 

Vegetarian Shiitake Ramen

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3-4 ounces fresh baby shiitake
Cracked black pepper (to taste)

1 tablespoon ponzu 
2 packages instant ramen noodles (cooked according to package instructions, but with flavor packets tossed out)
1 medium carrot (shredded using a serrated peeler)
2 soft boiled eggs*
1 green onion (thinly sliced)
Shiitake Ramen Broth (recipe follows)

In a medium pan over high heat, add the sesame oil and the shiitake mushrooms stem-side-up. Season with plenty of black pepper. Sear the mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes or until nicely browned. Add the ponzu and toss until the liquid has evaporated; this happens quickly. Remove mushrooms from the pan and set aside until ready to assemble the dish.

To assemble the soup, divide the noodles between two bowls. Place half of the mushrooms off to the side of the pile of noodles and half the carrots off to the other side in each bowl. Top the mound of noodles with the soft boiled egg and garnish with the onion. Pour in enough hot broth to cover the noodles about halfway. Using chopsticks, go ahead and dig in.

Shiitake Ramen Broth

1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth (like Whole Foods 365 Organic brand)
3 green onions (white and green parts, roughly chopped)
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
12 x 3 inch piece kombu (rinsed briefly under cold water)
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 teaspoons soy sauce (like Bragg's)
2 teaspoon mirin (sweet cooking wine)

Place the broth, onions, mushrooms, kombu, garlic, soy sauce, and mirin in a medium sauce pan and turn the heat on high. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat and continue to cook until the mixture has reduced by more than half; this should take 20 to 30 minutes. Strain the broth using a mesh strainer, and make sure to press all of the liquid out from the mushrooms and kombu. This should leave you with about 1 1/2 cups of very 
well-seasoned broth. Keep warm until ready to use.

* Bring salted water to a full boil, lower the eggs into the water, pull them out 6 minutes later, and place them into an ice bath.  Wait until eggs are cool to the touch and then peel and serve.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cornbread Dressing with Oyster Mushrooms

Much gratitude and thanks go out to Tara Parker-Pope today for featuring TCV on The New York Times blog The Well! We are thrilled to have our story and our favorite vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes in "Southern Flavors on a Vegetarian Table," and you can see it all HERE

My grandmother's best dish, according to my dad, was her cornbread dressing with oysters that she served every Thanksgiving. It's only recently come to light that her secret was to order some egg drop soup from the Chinese restaurant we always went to after church and use that in place of broth. I remember that it really was delicious, but we're not going to do that here. We are going to take her idea and turn it on its head.

Instead, our secret weapon is our very own cornbread recipe that is made with buttermilk, smoked cheddar, and honey. It's delicious on it's own so we figured it would work here. We are using oyster mushrooms to give the dressing a meaty texture
because Michael suggested it, and he is always right. 

Cornbread Dressing with Oyster Mushrooms

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
1 1/2 cups finely diced onion (about 1 medium)
1 cup finely diced celery (about 2 large ribs)
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 cup white wine (like Pinot Grigio)
2 cups (about 7 ounces) oyster mushrooms*
1 large egg (beaten)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1/2 teaspoon champagne vinegar
5 cups cubed Smoked Cheddar and 
Jalapeño Cornbread (minus the jalapeño)

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add the onion, celery, sage, thyme, and parsley. Cook, stirring often, until onion has softened and has caramelized. Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a large bowl to cool. Add another tablespoon of butter to the pan, and once it's melted, add the trimmed oyster mushrooms in a single layer. Once they have browned on one side, just turn them and brown them on the other side. Add mushrooms to the cooked vegetable mixture. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Once the vegetables and mushrooms are cooled, add the egg, broth, vinegar, and cornbread to the large mixing bowl. Toss and allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes in order for the egg and broth to soak into the cornbread. Place the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter into a 10-inch cast iron skillet and place it in the oven for 5 minutes to melt the butter. Carefully remove skillet from the oven and place the cornbread mixture into the skillet. Cook for 35-40 minutes or until the top has browned.

(makes 6 to 8 servings)

*Oyster mushrooms are easy to trim. Feel the stem and trim the mushroom where the stem feels woody or tough. That should be about halfway down. Leave any small mushrooms whole and tear and larger mushrooms in half. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup

This dish has been in rotation in our house for probably 15 years or so. It has survived every culinary trend -- and my own crazy proclamations about what we should or shouldn't be eating. I can remember making this in our first apartment where we ate mostly pasta, stir fry, grilled cheese, and, of course, matzo ball soup.

What gives? Why does this dish have such staying power? It's hearty, delicious, and so simple to make. It's one of the few things (maybe the only thing?) that I make from a box mix. One of the only things I do to dress this up is to use extra virgin olive oil in  place of the run-of-the-mill vegetable oil that the instructions call for. It really makes the matzo balls rich and delicious. We also cook the vegetable component separate from the matzo balls, so they retain some of their sturdiness and don't turn to mush during the 30 minutes that the matzo balls cook. 

The cold weather is setting in here in the South, so it's officially soup season. Try this one out. We think you'll like it.

Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup

1 package matzo ball mix (like Streit's)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
(like Whole Foods 365 brand)

2 large eggs (beaten)
1 quart good-quailty vegetable broth (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
2 ribs celery (diced)
1 large carrot (diced)
1 large shallot (finely diced)
1/2 cup white wine (like pinot grigio)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or fresh dill
kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Make the matzo ball mix according to the package instructions, which call for vegetable oil (use olive oil here) and 2 large eggs. Set mixture aside in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes. 

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the broth, bay leaves, and thyme to a boil. Remove the matzo mix from the fridge. Using a 1 tablespoon-size ice cream scoop, drop the mix into the boiling broth one at a time. Lower the heat to a simmer. Secure the lid and simmer for 30 minutes. Do not lift the lid during the cooking time; this is one of the secrets to making fluffy matzo balls.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the diced celery, carrots, and shallots. Once they start to caramelize, deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside until ready to serve.

To serve, place 3 to 4 matzo balls into a bowl, ladle on enough broth to almost cover the matzo balls about halfway, add 1/4 of the vegetable mixture into the bowl, and garnish with chopped parsley, salt, and cracked black pepper.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

5 Quick Questions with Chef Robert Cirillo of Bleu

We were invited to dinner by the kind folks at Bleu Restaurant and Lounge in downtown Memphis in order to try a new vegetarian entrée on the menu. It's extra-firm tofu with a bulgogi marinade, which traditionally includes garlic, sugar, sesame oil, and soy sauce; it's grilled up and includes a vegetable stir fry. We also tried the edamame hummus appetizer, a pear and goat cheese salad with cranberry vinaigrette, and a spiced poached pear with candied pecans and ricotta -- a great vegetarian meal. We caught up with Chef Robert Cirillo back in the kitchen before dinner, and here's what he had to say. 

1. TCV: I'm fascinated by your story: born in Korea and adopted and raised by parents who were first-generation Americans whose families were from both Ireland and Italy.  At what point did you reconnect with your Korean heritage?
RC: When my brother and I moved here from Korea, the adoption agentcy gave my parents a list of foods that they should keep in our diet...kimchi being number one. Kimchi is the oldest flavor I have in my memory base. We’d buy Golden King Kimchi and put it over rice. When I turned 21-22 and found out I really wanted to cook food, I did a lot of experimenting and learning how to cook things. It took at least 10 cases of cabbage before got kimchi down pat.  

2. TCV: Has Memphis rubbed off on you personally or affected your cooking style in any way?
RC: If anything, it’s kind of relaxed me on approaching dishes. I try to do something that's different but still welcoming so people will come and try it out. The first ten items I did for a tasting for the new owners before we opened, and I thought it might be too weird for them, but they accepted it. I’m from the Northeast, so they knew it was going to be different. It’s my style but just a little more comfortable. 

3. TCV: What ingredient or technique has your attention right now?
RC: Right now, at this very moment, it is venison. Down here, it felt like an opportune time to roll out an idea I had. I used it in Rhode I thought about all the things the white tail deer eat where I'm from, and it’s the same as gin. I used that to create the sauce: juniper, mustard greens, currants, crabapples. I do a hibiscus and a Hendrick's gin cream sauce, and then for the rub, I do juniper berries, currants, coriander, fennel cumin...earthy, right? I do rainbow Swiss chard and Granny Smith apples instead of crabapples. 

4. TCV: Why was it important to you to have a planned vegetarian entrée on the new menu instead of just having the typical "seasonal vegetable plate"?
RC: I don’t think it's bad or wrong to do that because it allows a chef to say, 'This is what I have, so this is what I'm going to do.' Marcus Samuelsson, for me, I think is one of the best chefs in America. His big thing now at Red Rooster is doing healthy stuff.  Quinoa is one of the best grains in the world, but that being said, tofu sucks in any flavor. We marinate and grill it which gives it a nice charred flavor and little sweetness with the bbq. We use a mire poix, and it's my base vegetable with barbecued tofu. It's actually moving, too, because there are people in Memphis who are loking for healthy food and we give them an option. So this was a smart dish for us to do.

5. TCV: Thanksgiving dinner: Are you cooking for the family or taking the day off?

RC: Hopefully, I'm throwing a turkey in a smoker two days prior. That’s my favorite holiday. All it's about is eating food all day with your family and friends and watching football, and you can’t go wrong with that. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vegetarian Breakfast Sausage

This is a great homemade alternative to those processed store-bought brands. The real upside is that you know exactly what's in it. There is no mystery meat here -- just rice, vegetables, eggs and spices.

The roll can be made ahead of time, cut into slices, and frozen for a quick weekday breakfast. You could crumble it into a breakfast burrito or use it anywhere you'd normally use breakfast sausage. This vegetarian sausage is great first thing in the morning, but could also be crumbled, sautéed and served stuffed inside of a red pepper or a baked eggplant for dinner. Get creative!

Vegetarian Breakfast Sausage

1 teaspoon canola oil (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1/4 cup finely diced shallot
3 cloves garlic (finely diced)
8 ounces crimini mushrooms (finely diced)
1 cup finely diced celery (about 2 ribs)
1/2 cup finely diced carrot (1 medium)
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
scant 1/4 teaspoon clove
scant pinch nutmeg
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
1 cup cooked, cooled white rice
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour (or all purpose flour)
2 large eggs (beaten)

Heat the canola oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, garlic, mushrooms, celery, and carrot to the pan. Stir consistently and sauté until all of the liquid has released and then evaporated; this should take about 5 minutes. Add the sage, red pepper flakes, clove, nutmeg, soy sauce, and maple syrup to the pan. Stir to incorporate and remove from heat. All mixture to cool. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the cooked and cooled vegetables, rice, flour, and eggs. Divide the mixture between two large sheets of foil, roll into a tube, and twist the ends of the foil -- like a Tootsie Roll! Place rolls on a baking sheet and place into the oven for 25 minutes. Allow rolls to cool completely before unwrapping and slicing into 1/2-inch disks.

In a medium pan over medium heat, pan-fry disks in a little canola oil until nicely browned. Serve with eggs and biscuits.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Basic Crepe Recipe

Last night, we went here for a double date dinner with our friends, who had toted their 1970's-era crepe pan and bowl set with them so that we could borrow it. (Of course, we had to have Beauty Shop blackberry crepes and butter-and-sugar crepes for dessert. We kind of had crepes on the brain.) 

We remember the old plug-in crepe-maker versions from back in the day, but this lo-fi type is even better. You just put the batter in a shallow dish that helpfully has a recipe printed on it, coat the back of a crepe skillet with batter, and with  the stovetop on medium heat, wait about 30 seconds for your crepe to form. We remembered that George Falls of Paulette's had said to make the batter and then run it in a blender; this activates the gluten in the flour and helps the crepes stay together. It worked like a charm.

We're going to have to get our own crepe pan and dipping dish set soon. (And maybe go a little crepe-crazy and throw in a crepe spreader, too.)

Basic Crepe Recipe

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted, melted butter (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
pinch of sea salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk  (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
zest of 1 organic lemon

Options for fillings: 
chocolate hazelnut butter (2 tablespoons, melted)
butter and sugar (1 tablespoon softened butter and 1 tablespoon cane sugar)
strawberry jam (recipe follows)
+ powdered sugar (to garnish)

Place the flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk, and zest in a blender. Blend for 2-3 minutes. Pour crepe batter into a shallow crepe dish. Heat the crepe skillet over medium heat. Dip the back of crepe skillet in batter and cook on medium heat for 30 seconds or until edges of crepe brown. Pull the edge of the crepe up with a butter knife, and then peel the crepe off of the iron with your fingers. stack cooked crepes on a plate until ready to eat. Repeat, repeat, repeat until you have a stack of crepes waiting on a plate. 

To assemble, spoon your selected filling on one quarter of the open crepe. Fold in half and then quarters. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve. 
(Makes about 20 crepes.)

Strawberry Jam

2 cups sliced strawberries
1/3 cup cane sugar
juice from half a lemon
long piece of lemon peel

Combine all ingredients and mash them with a potato masher. Cook in a saucepan on medium-low heat for about an hour or until mixture reaches a jam-like consistency. Stir it often. Set aside to cool. Remove peel before storing in fridge for about a week.