31 December 2010

Mushroom Tacos in 10 minutes

When I opened the fridge door and beheld a shining box of fresh shiitake mushrooms, I knew I had to figure out the quickest and tastiest way to transfer them to my stomach acids. Thomas and I wanted a little snack, so we whipped these tacos up together in 10 minutes flat.

To make this vegan, substitute Vegenaise or another soy mayonnaise, and do whatever vegan thing you do with the cheese (use a "cheeze" or skip it).

little corn tortillas (only ingredients: corn, lime, water)
fresh lettuce, washed
mushrooms, washed and sliced
sake (rice wine) or other handy wine
cheddar cheese (optional)

1) Sauté the mushrooms in wine until savory and good. Set aside the mushrooms and wipe out the pan.
2) Meanwhile, grate cheese. Tear lettuce into pieces.
3) Heat up tortillas in a dry fry pan until soft on both sides. Remove from heat. Add a dab of mayo, some lettuce, some mushrooms, and some cheese.
4) Return filled tortillas to frypan. Heat until cheese begins to melt or everything seems hot. Put on plate, fold in half, and serve hot.
5) Repeat.
6) Lean back, sigh, and rub your belly in smug satisfaction.

27 December 2010

Refried Bean Sandwich

A tasty and simple vegetarian sammich arose naturally the day after we made Mexican Lasagna. While the lasagna was a big hit, I was the only one who wanted this sandwich the next day. Who can understand the taste buds of others?

You can easily make it vegan or gluten-free.

The Layers:
Bread (GF for you GFers!)
a slather of vegetarian refried beans
some cheese, vegan cheeze, or nothing

(Toast all those together).
Add sliced tomato and fresh lettuce and if you like a dab of hot sauce or enchilada sauce. Eat!

24 December 2010

Microwave-Poached Egg

Doug invented this unusually delicious breakfast; I couldn't believe he made it in the microwave. You butter or oil a little porcelain cup. You break an egg into it. You cover the cup with a plate. You stick it in the microwave on high for about 35 seconds. It is done to perfection.

If you don't believe it could be any good, try it yourself.
Nice over hot rice!

Pumpkin Bisque

After experiencing the coldest December on record in North Carolina, we traveled north to New Haven. Outside the window I watch frequent flurries and listen to the house groaning at the wind's onslaught. I'm cowering indoors, blowing my nose until it turns Rudolph-red, and sipping soup: a warming, creamy flame-colored soup made out of my #1 vegetable: pumpkin.

Thomas made it for dinner tonight. Doug has been making a pumpkin-bean soup all year so his house is filled with canned pumpkin and canned beans. He also, unbeknownst to him, owned 2 cans of coconut milk from our last visit. We were low on fresh ingredients so Thomas and I racked our brains and after some Internet research and more brain-racking thought up this soup—which with a little cooking down could be a taste-tastic pumpkin curry. Thomas adjusted the flavors and made it perfect.

People very much enjoyed Thomas's supper and afterwards, brimming with confidence, he agreed to a game of Scrabble with me and Doug. Although an underdog in the first half of the game, I won by a nose at the end. I hope that this latest soul-crushing defeat will not affect Thomas's future culinary endeavors on our behalf.

Pumpkin Bisque

1 onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 Cup vegetable broth
1 14-ounce can of coconut milk
1 15-ounce can of puréed pumpkin
1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaping teaspoon curry powder
1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cayenne (optional)

1) In a large soup pot, sauté the onion in oil until soft.
2) Add everything else and stir. Bring to a boil.
3) Simmer 15 minutes, stirring to keep from sticking.
4) Taste and adjust spices or broth.

You can purée the soup at this point if you don't like the pieces of tasty onion. They were fine with me and Thomas.

Serves 5 or 6 people.

15 December 2010

Chai-Spice Jam Whole Wheat Muffins

I have to write a 20 page paper today, but a Goofy Gourmet post seems much easier to accomplish. So I'm going to warm up to my assignment by telling you about the lightest and most tender whole wheat muffins I've ever eaten. I invented them by borrowing ideas from 3 different Tassajara Bread Book muffin recipes and making several of my own alterations. I think you might even be able to make them vegan if you add another 1/2 Cup of soy milk and remove the egg. But I haven't tried that because 1 egg per 12 muffins seems a decent price to pay to have them hold together! Please let me know if it works out for you.

George and I have found that substituting soy milk for cow milk in baking always makes a lighter, better product. And substituting applesauce for butter, teaspoon for teaspoon, moistens the product and also makes us feel happier about eating it. These muffins dry out quickly so as soon as they've cooled off just a little, seal them in an air-tight container. I find that a serving is about half a muffin, so I slice most of them in half before storage. Makes 12 delicious muffins.

2 Cups whole wheat flour (King Arthur is a good worker-owned brand)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 Cup jam/ fruit preserves (strawberry worked well for me)
1/4 Cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 Cups plain soy milk
1 egg, beaten
1/2-3/4 Cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
a generous 1/2 teaspoon - 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or several gratings of fresh nutmeg

1. Combine dry ingredients in a big bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
3. Fold wet and dry ingredients together so that they are thoroughly mixed but don't overdo it.
4. Spray a light cooking spray over a regular 12-muffin muffin muffin tin. Fill each muffin depression 3/4ths of the way full with batter.
5. Cook 8 minutes. Then turn the muffin tin around in the oven and cook another 8 minutes.
6. Test with a toothpick. If still raw in the middle or bottom, cook another 3 minutes and check again.

Serve with a big pot of tea, a quick affectionate squeeze, and a kiss on the keppe. Tell them, "Go ahead, take all time you like!"

09 December 2010

Grated Beet Salad

I wanted a light, earthy side to go with my latkes for the Chanukah party tonight. Reading a bunch of cookbooks by Jews, I noticed they like to pair potato pancakes with beet dishes. All these beet dishes, though, were too complicated and required too many expensive ingredients. I wanted a recipe that I could make in 5 minutes. So I invented this salad, and let me tell you: people loved it. David liked to mix it with the sour cream and homemade applesauce and eat it with his latkes all together. Stirred into his sour cream, it reminded George of borscht. For me, the grated texture pleasantly echoed the hot fried latkes—but in a sweet, cool, fresh way. Also, the deep purple mound looked majestic next to the golden latkes and cool white sour cream.

Unfortunately, beet juice doesn't look too majestic on my sleeves.

Grated Beet Salad

a few beets, peeled
a carrot, peeled
a lemon
extra virgin olive oil

1. In a food processor with a grating attachment, grate the beets and carrots. Mix them together.
2. Juice the lemon. Mix with some oil in a 2:1 ratio.
3. Mix together vegetables and dressing to taste. Serve soon, with a helping of klezmer music.

08 December 2010

Latkes, Alias "Grated Potato Pancakes"

On Chanukah we Jews sing a song, a song about latkes. My favorite verses go like this:
(to the tune of O Chanukah)

The Syrians said how can it be that old Mattathias,
whose years are more than 83 would dare to defy us,
But they didn't know his secret, you see.
Mattathias dined on latkes and tea.

One latke, two latkes,
And so on into the night.
You may not guess
but it was the latkes
That gave him the courage to fight. (2x)

Now these little latkes, brown and delicious,
Must have hit the spot 'cause with appetites vicious
All our heroes downed them after their toil
Causing in our Temple a shortage of oil!

One latke, two latkes
And so on into the night.
You may not guess,
but it was the latkes
that gave us the Chankuah lights! (2x)

Oy, oy, oy! A good alternate history, in my opinion. So now I suppose you want my latke recipe. Well, most of my life my mom and I ate Mrs. Manischevitz box mix latkes. Those cook up sort of salty and a little mushy, but boy are they easy. Then not too long ago my friend Gillian had me and George over for her made-from-scratch latkes, and I almost fell out of my chair they were so amazing. Here was the sort of latke to which (Jewish) bards had penned their timeless odes! I returned home that night, pensive, and then issued an ultimatum to George: invent an equally delicious latke recipe. Then I said please.

One problem Gillian had with her latkes was that the potatoes turned her towels purple. I'm not sure how George fixed this issue, but he did. Furthermore, in his recipe there's NO PEELING which means—thanks to our handy food processor—he can turn 5 pounds of potatoes into crispy latkes in no time at all.

A lot of people like to mix other root vegetables into their latkes, should you have extra turnips on hand. I noticed that Ari of Ari Cooks is using celeriac in her recipe this year—probably tastes spectacular. Chef/Goddess Myra Kornfeld likes her latkes half grated and half finely chopped, and then she mixes them with carrots and scallions. So that's probably texture-y. Mollie Katzen mixes onion into hers; that's pretty traditional. Mark Bittman's grandma used matzo meal, also traditional. As you can no doubt tell, I'm no latke expert, but I like the clean simplicity of plain potato latkes—it reminds me of the best French fries: hot, fresh, crisp, and the subtle taste of potato shines through. Mark Bittman has a recipe for that, which I bet would be my favorite, but it requires you to peel the potatoes, and I'm just not gonna! I'm a lazy git.

The tradition is to cook the latkes in olive oil, but we realized that we should use canola oil instead because olive oil burns at a way lower temperature than you need for cooking latkes. That's why olive oil was used to light the Temple Menorah, after all!

You should serve these with sour cream and my homemade applesauce, still warm. Then you can play the dreidel game! Instructions at the end.


1 5-lb. bag russet potatoes, washed and funky spots dug out (don't peel)
all-purpose flour

  1. Grate the potatoes in a food processor.
  2. Immediately plunge them into a bowl of cold water.
  3. Drain them. Press out the moisture with a bunch of clean towels.
  4. Mix them in a large, large bowl with some eggs, flour, salt and pepper, until the consistency seems like it will stick together. (If you do this with your hands, it's fun and gross!)
  5. Heat up 2 large frypans with canola oil, sort of deep.
  6. Fry those little latkes until they're brown, crisp, and delicious.
  7. Drain them on paper towels.
  8. Serve them immediately hot! hot! hot! with sides of sour cream and homemade applesauce.
Lacking side dishes, this serves 6 extremely ravenous people.

Sarah's Version of the Dreidel Game

You need a lot of edible pieces, preferably Hershey's kisses or m&ms. My friend Jhoanna and I used to freeze 3 humongous chocolate chip cookies and then break them into tiny little pieces. You can play with 2 or a whole bunch of people. Make sure everybody gets about 20 pieces, and then put about 40 in the pot. Whenever the pot is completely emptied, everyone has to put in 2 pieces. You can change these numbers around to make the game faster or slower. If someone spins a Hey and there are an odd number of pieces in the pot, they have to eat the extra piece. People are also allowed to eat as many of their own pieces as they wish. A major sugar high is expected, and welcomed.

No matter how the dreidel stops spinning, whether someone blows on it or it falls off the table or the cat pounces on it, it doesn't matter. That's the call they get. If you can't see it, it's a Nun. Sooner or later, someone is going to realize that this game isn't fair. At this point, I always shrug in a very Eastern European Jewish world-weary way and tell them, "So? Life isn't fair." People respect that.

Gimel = you get the whole pot
Hey = you get half the pot
Nun = nothing happens
Shin or Pey = you put four into the pot

You are out of the game once you owe pieces that you can't pay up. You win once you own every single piece on the table. Happy playing!

01 December 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes

When George and Gavin attended the North Carolina State Fair, they learned a basic fact about North Carolinians—be it sweet or savory, Carolinians prefer their food fried. I'd assumed that the purpose of state fairs was to celebrate agricultural victories (mind over gourd, prize heifers doin' cartwheels, layin' eggs, etc.). But when our two swains peered into the far reaches of the fair, all their eyes could see was long, long lines of fried food. Fried pickles, fried pumpkin pie, fried cheese, fried chocolate pie…the air must have shimmered with the grease of a thousand deep-fryers. Monet should have been there. Granted, George and Gavin eventually sighted a lone and neglected vegetable patch, but clearly, folks! Oil is still King 'round here.

Long live the King.

Last week was Thanksgiving, but it was also the week that George harvested the last of the green tomatoes. Suddenly our baskets overflowed with unripe fruit, and we wanted to eat it. So we did. Julia cooked 'em up Southern style, after turning up her freckled nose at a recipe requiring celeriac sauce as a dressing. We ate those green suckers with helpings of hot fresh Hungarian potato bread, cheese, and Tabasco sauce. Divinely tangy! We Yankees really loved it. A good farewell to a great growing season.

Adapted from a Moosewood Cookbook. I own 3. Beat that!

Fried Green Tomatoes

a bushel of extremely green tomatoes, sliced quite thickly (no ends)
finely ground cornmeal, 4 Tbsp.
all-purpose flour 2/3 Cup
1/4 Cup canola oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper

1. Spread out the slices on a large surface. Sprinkle generously with salt n' peppa. Turn over and repeat.
2. Heat up oil good and shimmering, but not smoking, in a fry pan.
3. In a wide bowl mix the flour and cornmeal. Dip tomato slices in this, covering each side completely. Shake off excess flour.
4. Fry tomatoes in batches of single layers. Don't crowd them. Fry 3 to 4 minutes on each side until a lovely golden brown. Drain off the grease on towels.
5. Serve hot and don't expect any leftovers! (Do expect your eaters to drool with joy.)
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