Monday, November 25, 2013

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Links

We're thinking about what we need to make for Thanksgiving dinner at our house -- whatever else would we be thinking about this week, come on now! -- and these are our go-to TCV recipes for the big day. We're taking care of the gravy, the greens, the rolls, the cranberry sauce, the stuffed acorn squash, and the pumpkin pie; the family's got everything else covered. 

The best thing about this time of year is time spent with your people. We're excited to have a couple of other family meals to attend and another Thanksgiving meal with our friends. It's a whirlwind 48 hours, but how better to spend it than in the kitchen and at the table, don't you agree? 

So enjoy your traditions this week and be generous with your good graces. It's sometimes easy to get stressed this time of year, but if you focus on making great food with the folks you love, and you don't worry too much about it all being so perfect, you know you're going to have some amazing moments to remember for a long time to come. The food part is pretty fun, but we all know the other stuff is really what it's all about. 

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Charred Broccolini and Kimchi Aioli with Almonds (Paleo, Vegan, GF)

I love kimchi! I make my own and I still have to buy it when I run out. It makes the perfect snack right out of the jar, and it renders even the most bland dishes irresistible if they're topped with this spicy, fermented magic.

If you're buying kimchi at the store, look for the vegetarian kind. Some more traditional recipes contain fish, fish sauce, or even oysters. So if you don't want any fermented oysters, look for the vegetarian kind. Whole Foods usually has it. They stock Sunja's brand, which is great.  

Here we've taken broccolini and lightly charred it under the broiler to bring out the nutty, meaty flavor. We topped it with an amazing sauce made with just two ingredients: kimchi and mayo. Don't be fooled by the simplicity -- it packs a powerful punch! 

This dish is fun to eat with your hands. Just pick the broccolini up by the stem, swirl it around in the sauce, and chomp. It's maybe like some healthier kimchi fries? You'll love eating your vegetables when they taste this good!

Charred Broccolini and Kimchi Aioli with Almonds

1/2 cup prepared kimchi
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (or vegan mayo)
1 bunch broccolini (trimmed of the woody ends, washed)
1 teaspoon toasted  sesame oil
Kosher salt and white pepper (to taste)
1/8 cup sliced almonds (toasted)

Into your immersion blender cup, place the kimchi and the mayonnaise. Blend until smooth. You may also use your regular blender or food processor. Set sauce aside until ready to plate.

Place broccolini in a covered, microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Allow it to sit, covered, for another 2 minutes so that the steam tenderizes it. Uncover and toss it with the sesame oil.

Turn the broiler on high. Once it has heated up, place the broccolini on a baking sheet and under the broiler with the door cracked for 3 to 4 minutes or until the stalks start to blister. Season with Kosher salt and white pepper to taste. Place some of the sauce on a large plate and top it with the roasted broccolini. Add more sauce on top along with the toasted almonds. (Makes 2 servings.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Eggplant and Mushrooms Mini Tacos (Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free)

Oh, this wonderfully simple, meaty taco filling made with spiced eggplant and mushrooms…sure, it's similar to our Mushroom Meat, but since it's cooked on the griddle and spiked with cumin and ancho chili, it's the perfect thing to fold into tacos, burritos, tamales and enchiladas -- just like you would do with ground beef.

The dish has a tremendous amount of flavor, and the texture of the creamy avocado complements the crunchy slaw. I would totally make this as a party appetizer or for a casual dinner with friends. 

Eggplant and Mushrooms Mini Tacos (Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free)

Red Cabbage Slaw (recipe follows)
Simple Salsa
1 medium eggplant
2 medium portobello (roughly chopped)
1 medium white onion (peeled, roughly chopped)
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
11/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
2 ripe avocados (sliced, sprinkled with salt and pepper)

Make the Red Cabbage Slaw and Simple Salsa according to the recipe and set aside. 

Slice off the vine end and the bottom of the eggplant. Starting at the widest part of the vegetable, cut 15 1/8-inch rounds. These will be your tortillas. Roughly chop the remaining eggplant and add it to the work bowl of your food processor. Pulse in the food processor until the pieces are about the size of a black-eyed pea. Place chopped eggplant into a large bowl. Continue to chop the mushrooms and onions in the same way and combine with the eggplant, ancho chili, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil, sesame oil, and sherry vinegar. 

Place your long griddle pan, the one you usually make pancakes on, over high heat.  Sear the eggplant rounds for a few seconds on both sides until warmed trough and lightly brown. Set aside until ready to use. 

Dump the eggplant and mushroom mixture onto the hot griddle and spread it evenly. This step is key  in order to get the right texture of the dish. If you don't have a griddle pan, cook the mixture in batches in a large frying pan. Keep the mixture moving around the griddle until it appears dry and the onions have started to become translucent. 

Set aside until you are ready to assemble the tacos. 

To build an Eggplant and Mushroom Mini Taco, place 1 eggplant round on a plate, top with 2 tablespoons of the eggplant and mushroom filling, 1 slice of avocado, a little of the Red Cabbage Slaw, and a spoonful of Simple Salsa. Really, 3 to 4 tacos makes a whole serving, especially with a side of beans and rice, so this will serve 4.

Red Cabbage Slaw

1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
Juice 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon honey or agave nectar

In a medium mixing bowl, toss the cabbage, lime juice, salt and honey together. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes and up to an hour or so to allow the flavor to meld and the cabbage to soften. (Makes 1 cup.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Spicy Tomato and Cashew Bisque

We did a little informal focus group on our Facebook page about the types of recipes y'all would like to see included in our (!) next book. We heard you loud and clear. Luckily, what you want is pretty much exactly how we're cooking now. Among the repeated themes were the call for simple, creative meals made from whole foods. Many of you wanted more dairy-free recipes that are still hearty and delicious.

This soup is one of those things that we'd just whip up and never put out there because it seems simple, but I think there are some solid ideas here that are worth talking about. This is a great, simple tomato soup recipe made with fresh carrots, onions, and celery. The creaminess of the soup comes from cashews, not dairy. It's delicious and wholesome, and it packs a good bit of protein. So, enjoy -- and keep an eye out for new, creative, and healthy recipes from The Chubby Vegetarian!

Spicy Tomato and Cashew Bisque

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion (diced)
2 carrots 
2 celery 

3 cloves crushed garlic
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 28 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
3-4 cups vegetable broth
1 heaping cup roasted cashews

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
Sriracha and chives (to garnish)

In a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium-hight heat, add the olive oil and the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring often until vegetables have softened and are staring to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the corriander and crushed red pepper and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, broth, and cashews. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth; this may take a few minutes. Alternately, use a food processor, but be careful --blending hot soup can be dangerous. 

Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve soup garnished with Sriracha (if you want a little more heat) and chopped chives. (Makes 4 servings.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Roasted Lion's Mane Mushrooms with Champagne and Honey Mignonette

I get super excited about a new ingredient to work with -- especially if said ingredient is a mushroom. This is a Lion's Mane mushroom that the good folks at Dickey Farms are producing locally, and they were kind enough to provide us with samples so we could experiment. (Their mushrooms are often available at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market and The Memphis Farmers Market.) 

I've had 3 or 4 of these Lion's Mane mushrooms make their way through my kitchen, and they've all been unique and delicious. It did take me a few tries to figure out the perfect way to use them. I believe the best preparation of these strangely beautiful, snowball-looking mushrooms is to roast them on a cedar plank or in a hot oven with a little olive oil or butter. After that, all you need to do is slice it and spoon a mignonette sauce over the top of the whole thing.

Raw, the Lion's Mane tends to soak up anything you put on it like a sponge, so I wanted to cook the mushroom before adding any additional flavors. The mignonette, a sauce that's traditionally used on raw oysters, is the perfect thing to bring it all together. The brightness of the vinegar and the sweetness of the honey add balance, the shallot adds a bit of freshness, and the capers give it a salty bite that's just right.

Roasted Lion's Mane Mushrooms with Champagne and Honey Mignonette

(Special equipment: 1 small cedar plank soaked in water for at least 45 minutes.)

1 large Lion's Mane mushroom (about a pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon capers

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Preheat your outdoor grill to medium. Place the cedar plank on the grill until it starts to smoke. Drizzle mushroom with the olive oil.  Flip the plank over and place the whole mushroom onto the warm side of the plank. Close the lid and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mushroom is warmed through and the frilly part is starting to brown. While the mushroom is cooking, assemble the mignonette in a small bowl by mixing the vinegar, shallot, honey, and capers. 

Remove the mushroom from the grill and slice it into 1/4-inch slices. Spoon the mignonette over the top. Serve with toasted bread and your favorite cheese for a great appetizer or over grits to make it a meal. (Serves 4 as an appetite or two as a main dish.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Meaty Portobello Chili with Cold-Oven Sweet Potato Fries (Vegan, Paleo)

I spent much of last summer questioning my sister-in-law and brother-in-law about the Paleo diet. I couldn't understand why they would go from being vegetarians to being cave people. It didn't make any sense to me…until a few weeks ago. 

I had put on a few pounds and was looking for a way to get my weight back on track. I decided to give the old Paleo diet a try. How can a vegetarian stick to a diet that is largely based on consuming unusually high amounts of protein -- especially given that both beans and rice and all dairy are off the menu? The short answer is eggs. I ate many, many eggs. I also ate handfuls of almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds as a pure protein source.

It seems limiting in a way, but I love to cook with parameters, especially when things like eggs, avocados, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms are all in the green zone. They are some of my favorite foods anyway! I ate roasted eggplants with Romesco, cauliflower with puttanesca, eggs poached in salsa, curried butternut squash soup, egg foo young, and this wonderful bean-free vegetarian chili. The result? I lost the extra pounds in the space of 2 weeks. Not bad, not bad at all. So, while I'm not giving up pizza and biscuits and cupcakes, I will likely enjoy them in more limited quantities now. Moderation: nice to see you again. 

Meaty Portobello Chili with Cold-Oven Sweet Potato Fries 

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 cups onion (about 2 medium)
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 cups diced bell peppers (about 2 medium)
8 cups cubed portobello (about 6 medium)
1 large can fire-roasted crushed tomato
1 tablespoon dried, crumbled porcini
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Cold Oven Sweet Potato Fries (recipe follows)
Sliced avocado to garnish

In a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat, melt the coconut oil and add the onion. Take your time with this step. You want to cook the onion for 15 minutes or so stirring occasionally until they are nice and brown. This is where much of the flavor comes from. Add the ancho, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin and cook for another 5 minutes or until a nice fond, the brown layer stuck to the bottom of the pot, has formed. 

Add in the peppers, portobellos, tomatoes, crumbled porcini, broth, and vinegar. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the fond from the bottom of the pot and stir it in. Bring pot to a low boil and then reduce to the lowest heat. Cover and cook for one hour. 

Serve over Cold-Oven Sweet Potato Fries and garnish with sliced avocado and anything else you'd like. (Serves 6 to 8 as a main course.)

Cold-Oven Sweet Potato Fries

2 large sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into 1/4-inch batons)
2 teaspoons olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the potatoes out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place into a cold oven and set the temperature to 415 degrees. Check them in 15 minutes or so. They should be golden and ready in 20-25 minutes. (Makes 2 servings, so you'll have to make several batches if you're serving lots of people.)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vanilla Almond Strawberries

We tried some Justin's Vanilla Almond Butter in Boulder, Colorado (where the company is based) last summer and got hooked. You can't get this flavor in Memphis yet, but Whole Foods Poplar here in town recently snagged us a bunch of so we could try it again and make something fun with it. The result: almond butter frosting! It was great on top of the chocolate cupcakes we brought to a recent birthday party at the legendary Pete & Sams.

After we floated a question about what the heck else to do with the leftover frosting, Mel S. advised us to try it with strawberries -- a capital idea. Better than cupcakes, maybe. It's kind of like a really fresh PB&J, and even though it's so out of season, oh, well -- it's still so much fun. 

Vanilla Almond Strawberries

10 ounces Justin's Vanilla Almond Butter
1 tablespoon honey
8 ounces neufchâtel cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt (plus a pinch or two more)
1/2 cup sliced almonds (toasted)
1 quart strawberries

Soften the cream cheese on the counter for 20 minutes or stick it in the microwave for 15 seconds. Mix the almond butter, honey, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and salt together well. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Spread almond butter mix generously on one side of strawberries and roll them in the almonds -- add a pinch or two of salt to the almonds if you wish. Chill berries before serving. (Makes 12-14 berries; use the rest of the frosting for cupcakes or freeze it for later.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Baby Pink Ginger & Pink Peppercorn Syrup

When Lori from Downing Hollow Farm told me about the baby pink ginger she would have available at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market this fall, I just had to try it. It is so pretty, nothing like the gnarled, tough, sawdust-colored root I've used before now. I thought it would be a perfect spicy addition to a quick simple syrup you can add to lemonade, fizzy water, or hot apple cider this fall.

Baby Pink Ginger & Pink Peppercorn Syrup

1 cup baby pink ginger (peeled, sliced thinly)
2 cups cold water
1 cup cane sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 Meyer lemon (halved)
20 pink peppercorns
a pinch of sea salt

Combine ginger, water, sugar, honey, lemon juice, both lemon halves, peppercorns, and salt in a sauce pan and get it to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and remove syrup from heat when it coats the back of a spoon. Let it cool, strain out the ginger, and then store syrup in a closed container the fridge for a couple of weeks.

*You should candy the ginger slices you used for the syrup after you strain them out! And you won't regret grating any leftover fresh baby ginger to use in this old favorite.