Monday, March 30, 2009

Vegetarian Cooking Class

Going into this, I really had no idea what to expect, and I was a little nervous. I'd never taught a cooking class before, but I can tell you now that it was a wonderful experience. I'm so glad I did it, and I 
cannot wait until next time.

My class was full of vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. All of them were attentive and curious. They had lots of good questions -- many of which I could answer and some that I could not. We made four of my recipes. I decided that it would be fun to do a breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipe along with a recipe for a special occasion. So we made migas tacos, bhan mi sandwiches, empanadas, and portobello mushrooms stuffed with arugula and smoked-almond pesto. I wanted everyone to be able to taste the things that we made, so we had to make enough of each dish so that 26 students could get a taste. That is a small catering operation. We fed 26 people 4 times in 3 hours. Whew!
I do have to give a special thanks to The Wife without whom I would not be able to do, well, much of anything. She had the great idea to do a raffle, which kept things interesting. We gave away two $25 gift cards to Whole Foods (big thanks to Liza for that), and two Fieldroast T-shirts (big thanks to Jennifer for that). She helped with every facet of the class. She even taught everyone how to make empanada dough.

My next class will be at Whole Foods on April 26th from 3-5 p.m. It will be a FREE class, so I hope to see all of you there. I'll teach you how to make veggie burgers from scratch and show you several variations on the veggie burger theme. The class is in conjunction with a story I just wrote for Edible Memphis about locally made veggie burgers. Check out the new spring issue for details.

Thanks to Dan for the pix.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Miso & Sweet Chili Stir Fry with Brown Rice & a Fried Egg

This dish could also be called "The Wife's Nightmare." There is not much on this plate that she would consider eating. I'm not kidding. So I sneak it in at lunch when I can. It is so simple and fast that it makes a great lunch dish, especially if you have the rice pre-made.

3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon red miso paste
3 tablespoons water
Assorted veggies (celery, carrot, kale sprouts, onion, peppers)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 egg
olive oil
chili hot oil (like layu)
Mix the miso pate, water, and sweet chili in a small bowl. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan or wok. Allow the pan to heat up over high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the veggies and toss. Allow them to cook for about 4 minutes before adding your sauce. Cook another minute, and then place veggies over a mound of brown rice. Fry egg in the same pan and place on top of the veggies. Garnish with braggs and chili oil.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

White Asparagus & English Pea Bisque

1st let me apologize for my hiatus. I have been down in Austin, TX photographing the SXSW Festival. It is like rock n' roll summer camp for aging teenagers. So much fun. Thousands of shows are played in every venue. There is music coming from everywhere. It is overwhelming.

So here is a wonderful bisque I made right before I left.

1 bunch of white asparagus (washed, chopped and peeled)
reserve a few tips for garnish
2 cups fresh english peas
1-2 cups of veggie broth (depending on how think you like it)
1/2 white onion (diced)
1 tablespoon butter or truffle butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup of half and half or cream

Melt butter in a soup pot. Add the oil, and saute the onion, peas, and asparagus. Add the broth once the onion is translucent. Allow to cook for 15 or 20 minutes or until everything is tender. Blend until smooth with a wand blender or in a blender in batches. Remove from heat and add the cream. Garnish with a few fresh peas and asparagus tips. Serve with cheese toast to make a delicious meal.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fresh Friseé Frittata with Truffle Butter and a Pear Salad with Blue Cheese

We have been looking forward to this all week. Van Cheeseman hauled his high-tunnel-grown greens into town today, and we were just about the first ones in line. We bought a spring mix, a butter lettuce hybrid, and some friseé. Any normal human would have stuck the greens in a grocery sack and gone about their day. Not us. We raced home and started cooking. We are way too excited about spring and all of its possibilities. I decided to make a simple frittata with the mildly bitter friseé, and The Wife decided to make a wonderful pear salad using the spring mix and blue cheese.

Frisseé Frittata:

2 slices of bread (cubed)
6 eggs
2-3 cups fresh friseé
1 & 1/2 tablespoons truffle butter
1/2 cup swiss cheese (shredded)
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
Scramble eggs and add cubed bread. Allow to sit for a few minutes so the bread can absorb the egg. Add the friseé and the herbs, and stir to incorporate. Melt butter in a non-stick 10-inch pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, pour in the egg mixture and cover. Allow to cook about 3-4 minutes, and then flip it. You can do it; just be confident. Cover and cook another few minutes until it has set. Garnish with the cheese, some chopped chives, and a little friseé. It is the perfect Saturday lunch.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

First Greens of the Season this Saturday

Holly Springs farmer Van Cheeseman's produce from the high tunnel is ready, and we just learned that he will be selling all sorts of fresh leafy greens (mesclun, mustard, romaine, and mizuna) at the Tsunami parking lot on Cooper Ave. this Saturday from 12-3. See you there!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Farro & Sausage Stuffed Spring Cabbage

The idea for this hearty meal came together after two separate trips to the grocery store in which I picked up items I have never tried: farro and spring cabbages. The farro made its way into our basket at whole foods. Though we have a pantry full of nearly every kind of rice, pasta and grain you can imagine we simply had to try this one. I am so glad we did. The texture is chewy, not unlike pinhead oats and the flavor is nutty like toasted brown rice, and it is porous enough to hold a good deal of stock during cooking. The only drawback to the farro is that it must be soaked for 8 hours before you can cook with it, so it takes some planning ahead. We spotted the spring cabbages in the produce department at Schnucks. They look like small heads of cabbage, but they are not as tightly wound. The flavor is much milder than most large cabbages, and they are the perfect size for stuffing.

6 spring cabbages (blanched for 4 minutes and cooled)
2 cups cooked farro (use vegetable stock instead of water for extra flavor)
1/2 onion (diced)
1 green pepper diced
2 field roast (crumbled)
2 tablespoons butter
olive oil
1-2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
1/2 cup panko
In a pan over medium-high heat saute´the field roast, onion, and pepper in a bit of olive oil until it is soft and starting to brown. Mix together with farro, add S & P, and allow to cool. Open a cabbage (like a flower) and stuff it with the farro mixture leaving enough room for the leaves to close at the top. Secure with some kitchen twine. Repeat. Melt butter in an oven-proof pan, and sear the stuffed cabbages in the butter. Sprinkle each with the cheese, and panko*. Place in a 350 degree oven to stay warm. Pop them under the broiler just before serving to brown the top. I sliced up some carrots and potatoes, and The Wife made a delicious Endive salad with blue cheese, chopped apples and pears with a sherry vinaigrette.

*If you want cheese to stay on top of the thing you put it on top of, then all you have to do is sprinkle a few bread crumbs on top of the cheese. It will stay.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ponzu Marinated Banh Mi Sandwiches

1 long French baguette (soft)
1 block of firm tofu
1/2 cup AP flour
Ponzu seasoning or Braggs
1 small fresh daikon radish
2 large carrots
Rice wine vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
1/2 cup vegan mayo
1 English cucumber (sliced)

Using a vegetable peeler, shave long ribbons from the daikon and carrot. Place into a container and add sugar and enough water and rice vinegar in equal parts to cover. Seal and place into the fridge until ready to use. Drain and dry tofu. Cut into eight equal slices. Dredge in flour and pan-fry it in a little olive oil or sesame oil. Once it is browned, add a few tablespoons of ponzu. Mix mayo and sriracha together and set aside.

Now to assemble the sandwich: split the baguette but don’t cut it all the way through; it should look like a taco. Spread the mayo mixture on the top of the bun. Layer the cucumbers and tofu onto the bread. Drain the radish and carrot mixture and layer those on as well. Top that with cilantro and chopped scallions. Close the sandwich and slice into portions.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Panko Crusted Artichoke Hearts over Pasta with Cipollini Onion, Arugula, & Fresh Tomatoes

1 large can artichoke hearts (drained)
4 medium cipollini onions (peeled and diced)
3 cloves garlic (microplaned)
1/2 cup arugula (chopped)
2 tablespoons butter (parmesan butter if you have it)
2 large tomatoes (small dice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon while balsamic vinegar
fresh parsley (chopped)
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons flour
3-4 servings thin spaghetti noodles

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and put a large pot of water on the stovetop to boil. Toss the artichoke hearts in the flour, and then a few tablespoons of olive oil. This will create a light batter on the outside of the artichokes. Roll the artichokes one at a time in the panko bread crumbs to coat. Place on a nonstick baking pan, and place into the oven. They will take about 15 minutes to get golden brown.

Place the onion, butter, garlic, and oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Place the tomatoes in a strainer or colander, and salt with a teaspoon or so of kosher salt. This will get some of the water out of the tomatoes which takes away any bitterness. Once the onion is translucent, add the cooked pasta to the pan along with the arugula, a palmful of parsley, the vinegar, and the chopped tomatoes. Toss to incorporate. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the artichoke hearts, then some parmesan and more chopped parsley.
This is a fast dish I would make for me and The Wife on a Monday night (her favorite night of the week -- seriously) that is also fancy enough for a dinner party. We had it with a glass of Folie a deux zinfandel and warm crusty bread. It was a great way to start the week.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What to do on a snow day...clean out the pantry!

Recently, our food pantry started to look like it belonged to two lunatics. So TCV bought us some containers a couple of weeks ago in order to overcome the whole opened-and-clipped-bags-that-spill-everywhere issue. I put this re-organization off for a while because I knew it would be obnoxious, but today I honestly had nothing better to do; it looks like we may get 5 inches of snow by the morning, and in Memphis, even a half-inch of snow on the ground equals out-and-out pandemonium.

It took about two hours. I have now learned how to tell if things are rancid under TCV's supervision. I've also learned that we double-bought quite a few things. Soon I am going to need to figure out what to do with many disparate items such as Fluff marshmallow spread, mint sauce, and rice dumpling disks -- just a sampling of the myriad items that were lurking at the back of the shelves.

Do this in your own krazy kitchen, too, and I promise you won't be sorry. Every time I open the pantry now, I sigh with relief instead of dismay. Nice.

It is on!

The Botanic Garden is open today. Class is on. If you plan on coming, then please be careful driving.

I'll see everyone at 2!

Class Update!

Boy, this snow has really thrown us for a loop. As of 8am, We are waiting to hear from the Botanic Gardens. We will keep you posted. If anyone will not be able to make it because of the ice, then please leave me a comment and let me know. This will surely influence our decision.