23 February 2009

Huevos Rancheros

I told George that I wanted something fantastic for breakfast and he made huevos rancheros but with a catch—our oven doesn't work. So he improvised. As usual, his cooking was fantastic
refried beans (vegetarian), heated up
corn tortillas
1 can enchilada sauce, room temperature

Ladle sauce onto plate. Cook each tortilla in a fry pan until soft and toasty. Meanwhile fry eggs and slice cheese. Layer tortillas, beans, and sauce. On top add fried eggs, slices of cheese and a final ladle of sauce. Pop into microwave for 30 seconds on high and serve.

22 February 2009

Chickpea Dal

I have been making this recipe from Vegetarian Times magazine since 2005. It is very easy, cheap, quick, tasty, and made from ingredients I frequently have hanging around anyway. However I found to my interest that while it goes well over fresh hot white rice, it doesn't go well over fresh room-temperature white rice noodles. Go figure.

All you need is 2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, 2 tomatoes, 1 onion, 1 .5 T curry powder, and an inch off a knob of peeled ginger. In a blender puree the tomatoes, ginger, and onion. Then put the puree in a fry pan and simmer with curry powder about 5 minutes. Stir in the drained, rinsed chickpeas and cook another 5 minutes. Bam, you're done.

First I served this with steamed broccoli, rice, and leftover Virginia Peanut Soup. It was a hit. Then the next day I served leftover chickpea dal and leftover broccoli over softened and rinsed vermicelli rice noodles. Everyone felt the same about this not-quite-satisfying dish but we all reacted differently: 1) I suffered in silence 2) George asked me why I thought this dish was a good idea and dumped all his rice noodles into my bowl, then munched the rest 3) Doug, my father-in-law, said "This is great!" then poured the peanut soup into his bowl and also poured in all the leftover white rice and mixed it up, happily munching. There's a lesson in this somewhere.

19 February 2009

Virginian Peanut Soup

For dinner I had the foolhardy idea of making Virginian Peanut Soup from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Bittmen describes the soup as "elegant," which should have warned me right from the beginning—I don't think my sausage fingers could turn out something elegant if my life depended on it.

The basic idea of the recipe is cooking stock vegetables and bay leaves in five cups of your favorite broth, then straining the vegetables, then reheating the broth and strained vegetables with a ton of cream and some peanut butter. The hitch happened in the straining step. I was supposed to cook the vegetables until soft and then press them through a fine strainer into the soup. I made a huge mess every time I lifted up the strainer to check to see if the vegetables were indeed making it through the mesh. If they were I would clumsily scrape it off into the soup with a spoon, spattering the counter and my shirt. This step took forever and as far as I could tell just gave the soup an awkward texture. I gave up after about 10 minutes. Then I had to measure in so much cream (a whole cup!) that the soup ended up mostly tasting like cream.

This was my 2nd failure ever from this cookbook; almost everything else comes out so wonderfully! I should however mention that my husband and father-in-law loved it. They're apparently felines in disguise.

Israeli Couscous and Orange-Glazed Tempeh

Well, I really enjoyed lunch today, but unfortunately I'm going to have to
label it an unqualified failure. I failed utterly in my two goals: 1)
convince George that he actually enjoys tempeh in some forms 2) make and
clean up lunch in about 1/2 hour. I just finished lunch, it's 2:20, I
started at 12:30, and I have some awful dish washing ahead.

My first mistake was making one of our favorite dishes, Israeli Couscous
with Peas and Corn, on the stove instead of in the rice cooker. When I use
the rice cooker, I don't have to stir, I don't have 2 different pots and a
steamer basket going, the food stays warm until I need it, and cleanup is
laughably easy. Instead I can look foward to scraping the couscous
laboriously off the bottom of a pot because I didn't stir enough because I
had to keep track of 3 cooking items at once.
My second mistake was underestemating George's aversion to tempeh, although
he admitted that it was the best tempeh he had ever had.
My third mistake was making the orange sauce for the tempeh before I started
cooking the tempeh, adding an unnecessary ten minutes to the process.
My fourth mistake was thinking that the grapefruit juice in the
refridgerator was in fact orange juice, which meant that I ended up having
to hand-squeeze 8 clementines.
My fifth mistake was using too big a frypan for the tempeh so that I had to
cook half of the tempeh twice as long as the other half because it was too
far off the burner.

Well, I won't make those mistakes next time. Here's my tasty, tasty,
rejected lunch that serves 3 to 4 people:

Israeli Couscous (this is toasted pasta balls slightly smaller than
peas with a delightful chewiness)
1 Cup israeli couscous
1 1/4 Cup broth (I used leftover No-Chicken Broth plus water)
frozen peas
frozen corn
optional for rice cooker method: 3/4 C. more stock, 1 shallot or 1/2 onion,
1 T. olive oil, fresh chopped parsley

Rice Cooker Method (I might have adapted this from the Rice Cooker
1. Set rice cooker for regular cycle. Heat oil in it and add onion.
2. When onion is somewhat cooked, add couscous. Toss to coat.
3. When couscous deepens in color, add 2 C. stock.
4. Let cycle finish. Fluff with rice paddle. Mix in microwave-defrosted peas
and corn and fresh parsley. Serve.

Stovetop Method:
1. Bring 1 1/4 C. stock to boil. Add Israeli couscous. Partially cover and
simmer, stirring very very frequently. When liquid is absorbed, turn off
heat and remove couscous quickly.
2. Steam peas and corn. Add to couscous.

Orange-Glazed Tempeh This is a good way to counteract tempeh's
bitterness; it looks like it would be too sweet but it's not. I found the
recipe at 101 Cookbooks, and these are the alterations I made which worked out
I used 7-8 clementines instead of oranges 'cause we've got about 50
I used shoyu instead of tamari.
I used a standard 8 oz. package of tempeh instead of 10 ounces.
I minced the garlic instead of crushing it because I hate cleaning garlic
After grating an unmeasured knob of ginger, I just threw it in without
squeezing out the juice. I could barely taste it anyway.
Doesn't need lime or cilantro in the least.
I cooked the tempeh in the orange glaze more like 5 minutes on each side.
I didn't pour more glaze over when it was done because the dish tastes more
like orange glaze with tempeh than the reverse, if you know what I mean.
I think Heidi's wrong: this would be waaaay too sweet for tofu.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

Okay, this is sort of like a confessional! I ate something not very healthy
for dinner, but it was tasty. Unfortunately my husband George and I went to the
supermarket right before dinner, so by the time we got home I was seriously
craving comfort food. Here is my naughtiness:

Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese:

2 servings whole wheat elbow macaroni, Hodgson Mills
some thin slices sweet cream butter, unsalted
2 slices double gloucester cheese (or sharp cheddar or mozzarella or swiss
is fine), sliced into small bits
2 slices Yves vegetarian bologna, cut up into small pieces

Cook elbow macaroni. Drain. Immediately return to pot, add butter, cheese
and fake bologna, and stir vigorously until everything is melted and evenly
dispersed. Serve hot.

Peanut Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu

This dish, which I created All By Myself, is sort of Southeast Asian. It took about a half hour.

mirin (this is sweet rice wine, and you can find it in most supermarkets
these days in the Asian section. It's a good liquid sweetener)
low sodium soy sauce/shoyu (I like yamasa best, but you usually have to go
to an Asian grocer to get it)
firm or medium tofu (I used Nasoya around here, but my favorite is the West
Coast's medium Westwood brand.)
1 stalk broccoli
rice noodles (I like to use wide ones with chunky things like tofu and
leftover Peanut Sauce from the Moosewood Cookbook (I use this peanut sauce
for everything; it's easy and great) Or you could use any leftover sauce or
pesto I guess!

1. Boil a kettle with water and pour it over an appropriate amount of rice
noodles to cover. When they're soft, drain them. If they get sticky, rinse
and drain again.
2. Drain tofu. This is my method: Cut tofu in half so that it's not so
thick. Put it back together and put it between two plates. Top the plates
with something heavy like a can of beans or a bottle of juice. After five
minutes, drain out the liquid and turn the plates over and repeat with the
pressing one more minute. Drain again. You're done!
3. Cube tofu, not too small or it's obnoxious to fry. Heat up a frypan with
canola oil and fry the tofu in there. The cubes should get golden brown and
crispy on several sides.
4. Meanwhile, wash the broccoli stalk thoroughly. Cut off the head from the
stalk. Quarter the stalk lengthwise and then shorten into 2-inch sticks.
Separate large florets and halve them. The leaves are edible too and good
for you.
5. Bring a pot with a steamer basket and 2 inches water to a rolling boil.
Add the broccoli and cover. Cook exactly 5 minutes. Drain the broccoli.
6. Mix about 1 Tablespoon mirin and 1 Tablespoon soy sauce. Pour over the
tofu. Cook liquid off, tossing the cubes until they are well coated.
7. Put it all together: Mix noodles with peanut sauce. Top with broccoli and
tofu cubes, serve hot.

In other words: steam broccoli, press and fry tofu cubes, mix with mirin and
shoyu, and put on top of softened rice noodles mixed with leftover
sauce/pesto. Not very complicated when you get right down to it!
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