Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jalapeño-Butternut-Cauliflower Soup

There is a great farm stand every Thursday near my wife's office.  She stops by and brings me things to cook with.  Last week she came home with a bag of rainbow cauliflower.  I had never seen red or orange or purple or green cauliflower before.  We are planning on using a bunch on a home-made pizza later tonight, but this afternoon I decided to combine the orange cauliflower with butternut squash to make soup.  Nothing beats the subtle heat of a jalapeño pepper so I threw some in too!  The brown sugar balanced nicely off the heat.

2 TBSP vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 rib of celery, chopped
1/4 tsp Caraway seeds, crushed with mortar and pestle
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 1/2 TBSP brown sugar
3 cups of cubed butternut squash
2 cups of orange cauliflower
1/4 cup dry, unoaked white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
salt & pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot on medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 6 minutes, until the pieces start to brown.
  2. Add the carrot, celery, Caraway seeds, jalapeño and brown sugar.  Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the squash and cauliflower.  Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the wine, stock and water.  Bring to boil, turn heat down to medium and simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and puree.  Salt and pepper to taste.
When serving try topping with a small smacking of non-fat sour cream and some sliced scallions (or chives).

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Leftover Spaghetti Squash?

My wife makes a spaghetti squash dish about three times a month.  She always varies the toppings and it's always good.  One thing: there is always leftovers.  We have used the leftover squash as a pizza topping, cold on salads and the other day I wanted to come up with something different.  Then it hit me:  Why not make latkes and replace the potato with squash?  I did a web search and didn't find anything exactly like my idea, so I came up with this recipe.  I decided to incorporate a small amount of grated potato into the mixture in order to ensure a crispy crust.  After one [successful] attempt I am sure that you could omit the potato entirely, but I think I will leave it in.

Squaghetti Squash Latkes
        makes 6 cakes

2+ cups cooks cooked and "pulled" spaghetti squash
1 small russet potato grated on the largest hole (about 3/4 cups)
1 smallish medium onion, diced
1 Roma tomato, diced
1 tsp Mexican oregano
10 coriander seeds
10 caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, diced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs
2 eggs

  1. Toss the squash and potato with some salt and place in a colander and place this into a bowl.  Place a few layers of folded paper towels on top and add a weight (like 2 or 3 stacked pint glasses).  Let sit for about 30 minutes.  The salt will pull water out and it will drain.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat in a medium frying pan. While heating crush oregano, seeds and pepper flakes using a mortar and pestle.  Add the diced garlic and set aside.
  3. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 6 minutes, until they start to brown.  Add the tomato and cook another 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid from the tomatoes has mostly evaporated.
  4. Stir in the seed/herb mixture and cook for about 30 seconds.  Remove onion/herb mixture from pan and let cool.
  5. Take the squash/potato mixture from colander and place in large mixing bowl.  Stir in the cooled onion mixture, cornstarch, panko and season with salt and pepper.  
  6. Fold in the two eggs.
  7. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup form cakes from the mixture.  This should yield about six cakes.  Let cakes sit for about 12 minutes before cooking.
  8. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan, enough to coat, and add three cakes.  Cook, undisturbed, for about 4 minutes.  Shake the pan to loosen the cakes and cook another two minutes before flipping and cooking for an additional 6 minutes.  Place cooked cakes on a paper towel lined plate.  Cook the remaining cakes, adding oil as needed. 
Serve with a dollop of pesto and a side salad.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Stroganock-off (a vegetarian variation)

Stroganoff is a classic fall dish.  Childhood memories of my Mother making it include the way the house smelled - full of dill (remember in the mid-1980's when dill the "in" herb?), cooked red meat and that wonderful smell of noodles boiling in water.  I remember being excited about the big flat style egg noodles she would use.  I forgot about the dish for about 15 years but a few years back I remembered it and starting subbing chicken for the red meat.  It was still just as good and continued to bring back memories of Mom cooking on those cold fall nights.  Most importantly: it's an extremely easy dish to pull off.  

The closest Whole Foods to my house is a bit of a drive, but once a month I play a jazz brunch right next door so I stop in and pick up some of their vegetarian meatless meats.  Some are okay, most aren't the same, a few are actually pretty damn good.  The other day I noticed, for the first time, a product from  a company called "Beyond Meat" that was a container of grilled "chicken" strips.  What struck me as interesting was the ingredients.  Many times these fake meats, although meatless, are still filled with chemicals and fake stuff I can't pronounce.  This product was 100% plant protein!  The ingredients included pea protein, carrot fiber, water, sunflower oil and less than 0.5% of vinegar, sugar, spices.  I decided it was time to put a vegetarian twist on Stroganoff with what I am calling: "Stroganock-off".

Classically this kind of protein/entree is served over egg noodles.  I also like it with a side of rice that has diced celery and scallions.  When I make this kind of rice I replace half the water with vegetable stock and add the celery and scallions after the rice is made.  The finely diced celery adds a fun crunch.

Chicken Stroganock-off
       serves 2

2 servings of Beyond Meat Grilled Chicken Strips (about 12 pieces)
1.5 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas
3/4 cups sour cream
1 tablespoon dill (I use fresh or Penzey's dried dill)
2 tablespoons vegetable stock
2 cups (dry) cooked egg noodles
large handful baby arugula
Salt and Pepper.
  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion.  Cook on medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.  Make sure you don't add any color to them.
  2. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.  The salt and heat will pull out water from the mushrooms.  Cook about 10 minutes, add peas, cook additional 7 minutes.
  3. Gently stir in the sour cream, dill and stock.  Add the Beyond Meat Grilled Chicken Strips,  removing from heat just as it begins to boil.
  4. Off heat stir in egg noodles and arugula.
  5. Season and serve.