Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eggplant Bake and Chickpeas on Mustard Greens

Having a veggichop is marvelous! Last night, for example, I made two dishes that required fairly extensive chopping, and this little manually-powered gadget got it ready in a matter of a few pulls of the handle. What did I chop with it? Walnuts, garlic, and tomatoes. Why? To make this dinner:

I'm not sure it's clear from the picture what this dinner included: chickpeas in balsamic glaze over mustard greens and an eggplant bake. I made up the recipe for the eggplant bake all by myself, and I have to say, for someone who only cooked eggplant twice before in all her life, it turned out darn good! [The photo really doesn't do it justice. I should fire the incompetent photographer.]

First, I sliced the eggplants into 1/2" thick rounds, and salted some of the water out of them (line in a colander, salt, wait 20 minutes, turn over, salt again, wait another 20 minutes, soak the liquids). Then I pan fried them with just a tiny bit of oil, and squeezed more water out of them as they became softer, using a fork. Then I arranged them in a baking dish, and topped them with chopped tomatoes, chopped walnuts, feta, garlic powder, and oregano. [I put garlic powder because I realized too late that garlic would probably be good in this dish. I should have chopped some together with the tomatoes. Instead I used it all in the mustard green concoction.] Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so (I cooked the greens in the meantime, with some walnuts in them -- my variation) until the feta starts to brown just a little bit. That's it!

Potato Broccoli Soup - Non-Pureéd

The cold nights just won't leave us alone... And they obviously call for hot soup. Mark wanted to have potato broccoli soup, but he doesn't particularly like pureéd soups, which is all you can find all over the web. So we had to make up something, and this is what we did:

  • 5 smallish potatoes, non-peeled and cut into 1" cubes
  • 3 smallish broccoli heads, cut into small florets, stems cut into small pieces
  • 4 stalks of celery, thinlishly sliced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 8 cups of veggie broth
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • salt
  • pepper
  • umami flavoring (MSG)
Sauté onions in a large pot with olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic, and after a few minutes the celery. When it's all nice and fragrant, add the veggie broth, and potatoes. Bring to boil and lower heat to simmer. When potato is fairly soft, add the broccoli stems and all the spices. When the potato and broccoli are nice and soft, add the florets. You can serve with some sliced almonds and potatonion bread, if you wish. Mark thought the soup was perfect. I thought it could use a little more flavor. Maybe lemon juice?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mustard Greens and Feta Ebelskivers

These are my first true ebelskivers:

Aren't they cute?
I was afraid they wouldn't come out right, because I overloaded them, but somehow it worked!
The recipe calls for spinach, but I used mustard greens, because we have plenty of it, while our spinach is yet to grow. My less successful ebelskivers are actually better for showing the greens:

They were very fluffy and spicy (from the mustard) and the ones that had a lot of feta inside them were the best.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chanukah, Hanukka, Channuckah?

I never know how to spell it in English! Someone really needs to find a standardized way of spelling this holiday...
We ended up celebrating the holiday of lights only after it was over - this past Saturday. I made sweet potato latkes, and Mark made oven-baked sufganiot (yeast doughnuts). We lighted 9 candles, to symbolize the 9th night of Hanuka (See? Another spelling).

Of course, everybody knows that one is supposed to eat fried food on Hannukah, to commemorate the miracle of the oil that lasted 8 days instead of just one night. However, we don't like to cook with a lot of oil, and we don't even have a deep-fry pan, so we made the latkes on a non-stick griddle with hardly any oil, and the doughnuts in oven.
The doughnuts turned out very good, though resemblance to actual doughnuts is fairly faint. I guess they were more like yummy, fluffy sweet rolls with some raspberry preserves.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cold Nights Call for Hot Soups

We had two new kinds of soup recently:

Navy Bean Brown Rice Soup

  • 1 lb dry navy beans, soaked over night
  • 2 celery sticks - sliced
  • 4 tomatoes - chopped
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic - copped
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • carrots - as much as you please - chopped/sliced
  • bay leaf
  • veggie broth
  • crushed red pepper
  • dried parsley
Start cooking the beans - start at least two hours before your meal time - in 6 cups of water. After about an hour, add the rice, and start cooking the other ingredients in a frying pan: Heat some oil, add the onion, and cook till it browns a bit. Add the garlic, then the celery and carrots. Add this veggie mix to the beans and rice, as well as the tomatoes, and cook on low. Add veggie broth and a couple more cups of water. Also add spices: bay leaf, parsley, crushed red pepper, and salt.
This soup can fill you up by itself, but we prefer to serve it with some delicious bread.

Sweet Potato Leek Soup

  • 3 cups of sweet potato, finely diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 leeks, cut to rounds
  • 4 cups of veggie broth
  • 2 t cumin
  • 2 t crushed red pepper
  • 1 can coconut milk (400 ml)
In a big pot, heat some oil, and brown the onion. Add garlic, then leek. Cook for a little while, then add the spices. Stir for a few seconds, then add the broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft. Puree and return to pot for reheating and add coconut milk.
I have spoken before about the amazing combination of leeks and sweet potatoes, and indeed, adding the coconut milk makes it even more heavenly.
We ate it with some yammy bread.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Our garden veggies are growing and getting crowded, so we have to thin them. Unlike the pea plants, which we can't eat and had to compost, the salad greens thinnings could be used for this Asian-ish salad. It just so happened we had 2 oranges and a grapefruit sitting in the fridge -- perfect!

The recipe for this salad is from the Vegetarian Times:
  • 2 oranges, primed
  • 1 grapefruit, primed
  • mixed salad greens, a handful, coarsely tore (the original recipe calls for chopped arugula)
  • sesame seeds, toasted
  • peanuts, crushed, roasted
[the original recipe also called for chopped mint and shallots, neither of these were available at the time of preparation. I believe it's good as I made it, but I'm sure these missing ingredients could add more complexity and character]
  • salad dressing: 2 T agave nectar, 1.5 T lime juice, 1 T soy sauce, salt, crushed red pepper

Toss greens and citrus with dressing, top with nuts and seeds.

Pretty, ha?

We're going to eat it with onion Sicilian pizza!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cry-Baby Cake

I made this for Vanessa's Baby Shower:

The idea was taken from here.

I baked the head in a ceramic bowl (that I made!). The head is a basic vanilla cupcake recipe from the best cookbook ever - you know - Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. It also made 4 cupcakes. The belly is the basic chocolate cupcake recipe from the same book. It made 1 cupcake in addition. The arms and legs are Golden Cremes (Twinkies that don't contain lard). Vanessa is a redhead, that's why the hair is so orange.

And here is the guest of honor, preparing to serve the baby's head after mercilessly cutting it to pieces:

We had lots of fun: good food (I didn't feel like I ate a lot, but I was full pretty quickly! And that's after I ran 11.5 miles just a few hours before! I guess not seeing how much food you're consuming makes you not realize how much you really eat), nice activities - we painted wood blocks, onesies and socks for the baby. The creativity was flowing like the mulled cider, wine, beer, and sparkling lemonade that were offered. As we ate the cake, Vanessa opened the gifts, and it was cool to see all the cute and/or practical items people gave.