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Spring has finally Sprung…today in my kitchen



Can I complain for one hot second? I’ll take a rain check on a verbal/written reply and take the silence as a ‘yes.’ I am fed up with winter. It rained for my sister’s entire outdoor graduation. Sideways rain, and I don’t think you can get more insulting than that. It rained for my graduation too, but I was happy as a clam to be inside a Track & Field stadium (addendum: I would not have found myself quite so content had it been a sunny-side-up day). I am angry at the weather. Angry to be on the East Coast, although, given the recent (and not-so-recent) rash of natural disasters and other not-so-natural disastrous events, I suppose I should feel at least a modicum of gratitude to be right where I am.  But I am not grateful for my location so much as the produce that it produces. Today, it a little market near my train stop I found all three of the above-pictured vegetables. I hadn’t a clue what to do with them, but daydreamed all the way home on the train, and by the time I arrived, I had the scaffolding of a couple of ideas in my head. I rushed home. I dirtied a lot of a pots and pans. I sweated in my kitchen for the first time in many moons. I requested fancy cocktails from my fiance for our guests. He provided them. (they were delicious) I had a mini-meltdown over 2 poorly poached eggs. Then I got the hang of it.

I took one singular picture…it doesn’t do the final dish justice…but if you want to try any/all of the mishmash medley of vegetarian sensations that I created, the lackadaisical recipes are as follows:

Creamy Polenta

6 cups of water with a dash of salt to speed the boiling process

2 cups dry polenta

½ cup cream

2 tbsp butter

¼ cup grated romano/pecorino/other fancy cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste

Bring the water to a rollicking boil before mixing in the 2 dry cupfuls of polenta. Lower heat and let bubble and brew at a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in cream and butter, stir well and bring to a simmer again. Lastly, mix in cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving. Best served hot. Makes 6 servings or more…

Mizuna Greens

A Japanese green, these tender young’uns have been descried as “piquant, mild peppery flavor…slightly spicy, but less so than arugula.” I tossed them lightly with sesame vinaigrette, toasted sesame seeds and finely grated pecorino.

Caramelized Rutabega

1 large rutabaga (cut into ½-inch cubes)
¼ cup butter
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Freshly ground pepper

Cut the ‘bega into small cubes. Boil in salted water until tender-crisp (about 10 minutes). Drain well. Melt butter in pot, add the rutabega, sprinkle brown sugar and mix gently until caramel appears, just a few short minutes. Add pumpkin pie spice and pepper.

Crispy Pan-friend Spring Onions

4-6 young spring onions

3 tbsp butter

salt, pepper, lemon

With a mandolin, slice the onions into rounds. Melt butter in a skillet and turn up the heat. Add onions and flash-fry for 1 minute on each side. Season the onions with salt, pepper and lemon. Drain any excess butter (can be used with the polenta for an additional seasoning flavor).

Poached Eggs

Tips:

  1. Do NOT boil the water. Do not let it simmer. Get the water “excited” with bubbles just barely appearing at the bottom. It is poachable now.
  2. Pour in a splash of vinegar
  3. Prep your eggs in ramekins, do not crack directly into the whirlpool you create.
  4. Make a whirlpool in the water with a spatula in your dominant hand, hold the ramekin containing the egg in the other hand, and gently dump it in the center of the whirlpool at the same moment that you remove the spatula
  5. Do not touch your egg as it swirls and gels. Close your eyes if you have to! Do not touch the egg. Trust it.
  6. Let it cook for at least 90 seconds before nudging it gently with the spatula to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. If it is ready, gently scoop it out with a slotted spoon and put in a warm bath of water to await serving time.

I discussed egg poaching in a previous entry and recommended Smitten Kitchen for an excellent tutorial. I still  stand by this method, despite my initial failed attempts. Check it out for detailed instructions and pictures.

Happy happy spring!

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Spoonful of Beans

 

beans, beans the magical fruit...rinse them well and you won't toot!

YUM. Every time I go over to a certain friend’s house, she has the most delicious beans simmering on the stove.  The mouth-watering aroma fills her house. However, I never get to see how the process begins. It appears to be a seamless cooking process with no definitive start or finish. A dash of this and that, simmer for a few hours, maybe more, and then taste test. Sprinkle in a bit more of this and a lot more of that, then ¡voila! there are amazing beans to eat. Put them in a taco, mix them with stir fried kale and sausage for a nontraditional breakfast, or eat them solo, piping hot. Finally, after craving them for eons, I emailed her for the recipe. (By “eons” I really mean the extent of this freezing cold on the East Coast that they call winter, instead of appropriately titling it “Arctic Chill.”) Alas, my friend admitted that there was no official “recipe” but gave me a list of suggested ingredients and vague instructions. Trying not to get my hopes up, I went for it, infusing my own sprinkling style into the mix. No measuring spoons or cups used, just instinct. So that’s how the following recipe looks, laundry list style. I won’t be able to recreate exactly what I made today, but I have faith that I (and you) can create delightfully unique but equally delicious Bean Surprise.

Ingredient List

Beans (I use the 17-bean mix from TJ’s. Amazing mix at an unbeatable value)

A few yellow onions, finely chopped

Cloves of garlic, minced

Carrots

Apple or dried apricots

Cumin

Paprika

Cinnamon

Red chili flakes (or anything you desire for some heat)

Few teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Splash of wine

Worcestershire sauce

Chopped chipotle peppers from can (with sauce)

Tomatoes (fire-roasted can version, or a small container of tomato-ey salsa)

Brown sugar and salt, to taste

1) Soak beans overnight, or “quick soak” (soak them for an hour and then boil until slightly softened). Set aside.

2) In a large pan, sauté onions and garlic with a little olive oil and all the spices. Mix in carrots/apples/apricots.  Let these ingredients simmer together for a couple of minutes.

3) Add beans, (keeping some but not all of the liquid that you boiled/soaked them in) to the onion mixture.

4) In no particular, combine with apple cider vinegar, wine, Worcestershire, and tomatoes.

5) Cover and simmer gently over a stove for 1-2 hours, letting the flavors meld. This does not need to be tended often, just tasted occasionally and seasoned to taste. I added a small teaspoon of brown sugar and a dash of salt towards the end.

6) Let the mixture cook down until there is very little liquid left and it is a thick stew-like concoction. Enjoy served over toast, quinoa, eggs, in tacos, or any other delicious vehicle you can come up with.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2011 in Legumes, Main Dishes, Snacks

 

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