Sunday, October 16, 2016

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

A photo posted by Höķm Guerrerø (@revmcnasty) on

Before we "went vegetarian" one of my wife's favorite dinners was the individual Shepherd's Pie made by Chef Carl Drake.  The other day a conversation with a friend, who is also vegetarian and lamenting the Shepherd's Pie from his childhood, inspired me to try and come up with a solid vegetarian version.  I had two ideas on substitutes for the ground lamb*, the easiest being Bocca crumbles.  The more complex idea was to use a trick I learned from Cook's Illustrated from their Ultimate Vegetarian Chili.  They used a combination of ground walnuts, millet and powdered mushroom to recreate the texture and flavor of ground meat.  Since I didn't have walnuts or dried mushrooms I decided to skip going to the store and use the Bocca crumbles that were in my freezer.  I will make another attempt using the more complex method and post results in the future.

For this I used two 20oz ceramic baking dishes.  I have bought them to make individual Chicken Pot Pies a few years ago and felt they were perfect for this usage.

for the topping:
1 Russet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper

for the filling:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 cup vegetable stock
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 cup Bocca soy crumbles
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup frozen corn
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Place potato in medium pot with 5 cups cold water.  Add a pinch of salt, bring to boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Drain and transfer to bowl.  Add the butter and cream and mash.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In now empty (and wiped dry) pot heat the oil and flour on medium heat, making a chocolate roux.  Stir constantly so not to burn, adjusting heat accordingly.  Add onion and garlic.  Cook about 8 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire, thyme and rosemary and bloom them for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the stock and carrot, making sure to scrape up and tasty fond that may have collected on the bottom of the pot. Bring to boil and simmer for about 7 minutes to slightly thicken.
  5. Add the Bocca crumbles, peas and corn.  Keep the heat around medium to have a slight simmer.  Do not bring to a full boil.
  6. The potatoes should be slightly cooled so whisk in the yolk. 
  7. Add the filling to the two baking dishes.  Top with potato mixture.  Star from the outside and work inward.  You can use a fork to make fun textures and patterns.  The "spikey" parts of the potatoes will brown and crisp up faster than a flat smooth layer..  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the topping is beginning to brown.  
  8. Cool for about 15 minutes before serving. 

* Okay,  personal pet peev and rant time:  Shepherd's Pie is never made with ground beef.  Never.  Any person or restaurant who uses ground beef and calls it Shepherd's Pie is wrong.  They are wrong.  You can inform these misguided souls that if you use beef it is called Cottage Pie.  Also: If someone serves you a pork chop and calls it chicken breast they are wrong too.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ultimate Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

A photo posted by Höķm Guerrerø (@revmcnasty) on
This is my first post in a few months.  We have been cooking up a storm in our house, but nothing original.  For my birthday I got a great cookbook, The Complete Vegetarian, and we have been working our way thru that doing about 3 recipes a week.  Today I felt inspired with items in our fridge and put this together.

for the salad
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, quartered so they lie flat
1 head of broccoli cut into bite-sized florets
1 15 oz can of artichoke hearts, chopped
1 4 oz can of black olives, sliced
1.5 cups of good mozzarella (not the kind in water), cut into half inch cubes
1 12 oz box of tri-color rotini, cooked to your liking and cooled

for the dressing
roasted tomato "drippings" (with garlic pieces)
1/5 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/5 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of mustard (dijon works fine, but I like a horseradish mustard for this)
3 teaspoons mayo

  1. Turn on your broiler after adjusting the rack to be about 6 to 8 inches from heat source.  On my oven that is the second from the top.
  2. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, tomato past, brown sugar, pepper flakes and garlic.  Wisk together and then fold in the tomatoes to coat.  Place tomatoes on a small, lined, sheet tray and put under broiler for about 15 minutes.  The tomatoes will burst and the sugars of the dressing will cause a nice black caramelization.  When the tomatoes are done, remove the tray from oven and let cool.
  3. On a second larger, and lined, sheet tray add the peppers and place under broiler - skin side up - until the skin chars, about 8 minutes.  Place the blackened peppers into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  This will steam the peppers and make the skin extra easy to remove once they are cooled.
  4. Place all the broccoli on the sheet tray that you removed the peppers from and place that under the broiler.  Cook until the broccoli has a slight char, but not burned.  About 8-10 minutes.  Keep a close watch, because they go from perfect to overdone pretty quickly.
  5. Once the tomatoes are cool use a slotted spoon and carefully place the tomatoes in a bowl for later.  Make sure to shake off any "juice" onto the sheet tray.  Once all the tomatoes are removed, pour the "juice" and any roasted garlic bits into a small jar with lid (an old Grey Poupon jar works nicely). This will be the base for your dressing. 
  6. Remove the skin from the roasted peppers and slice into strips, or pieces...  Whatever you like: it's your salad.
  7. In a large bowl combine the pasta with the cooled roasted vegetables, mozzarella, artichokes and olives.
  8. Combine dressing ingredients in the jar that already has the "drippings".  Close lid tightly and shake for about 30 seconds to combine everything.  Pour on the salad.  Let salad sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.  Make sure to stir the salad well before serving as the juices will have set on the bottom.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Puntenesca Calzone

I made up the dough recipe for this one.  I was running low on all my flours and couldn't pick "just one".  It came out a nice mix of white and wheat.  A little crispy (bread flour) and a little chewy (all-purpose flour) with a smacking of whole wheat flavor.  I will probably keep these rations for future calzones, but for pizza I still prefer the "beer pizza dough" recipe I have, but I didn't have beer or enough flour to use it today. 

makes 4 calzones

for the dough
1 and 1/4 cups water
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dries basil
1/2 teaspoon diced italian parsley
1.5 teaspoons active dry yeast

for the tomatoes
1.5 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, washed
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

for the filling
1/4 large yellow onion, diced
1 pint of shiitakes, chopped
8 oz pack of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
7-8 garlic stuffed green olives, sliced
2 or 3 teaspoons of lemon juice
2 cups grated smoked provolone (or smoked mozzarella)
  1. Make dough with the dough ingredients.  I use the dough setting on my bread machine so I dont have to kneed/let rise. I am pretty sure it rises twice.
  2. Preheat the broiler with the top rack about 6-8 inches from heat source.  Wisk together everything for the tomatoes except the tomatoes until its a thick dark red mess. Fold in the whole tomatoes being careful not to puncture any. Place them all on small roasting tray and place under broiler. Cook until there is a noticeable black char on more than half the tomatoes - about 8-10 minutes. Don't be afraid to over cook.  Place roasted tomatoes (and all the juices) in large mixing bowl.
  3. Sauté the onions in a small amount of olive oil over medium heat for 6 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and two pinches of salt. Cook until most of the moisture from the shrooms has cooked away.  Add to the large mixing bowl.
  4. Squeeze all the water out of the thawed chopped spinach and add to the large mixing bowl, pulling into small pieces as you do so.  Add the lemon juice.
  5. Everything except for the dough and the cheese should be in the mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula fold all the contents together.
  6. Add the sliced olives to the large mixing bowl.
  7. Preheat the over to 375 and place the rack in the middle of the oven.  Quarter the dough and make four 10-inch rounds.  Let the rounds sit for about 10 minutes, the dough will shrink.  Rework the dough to reform the 10-inch rounds.
  8. Place one quarter of the filling off to one side of the rounds, leaving a border.  Top with the cheese.  Fold the other side of the dough over and roll the to separate edges together to seal in the goodness.
  9. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden.
I wasn't sure if I should cut vents in the top to let the steam out, so I experimented by putting two small incision on two of the four on my first attempt.  My conclusion: the vents are not necessary for this recipe.  Maybe because there was less steam because most of the water had already been cooked out of the mushrooms?  Or maybe because I the thawed spinach was squeezed dry?  Who knows, but you do not have to vent the calzones.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Eggplant Jambalaya

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup unsalted butter
3 medium celery ribs, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 small bunch fresh thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayanne pepper
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 TB tom paste
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 TB Bragg's Amino Acids
1.5 cups white rice
3 cups veg stock
Beyond Sausage, sliced

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Heat oil an butter over med high heat.  Add celery, peppers, onion, salt and 1 tsp of Paprika.  Cook, stirring occasionally until veggies are browned (10 minutes). 
  2. Add eggplant, Thyme, Pepper, cayanne and remaining paprika.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring, until the eggplant softens (and begins to "melt").  
  3. Stir in garlic and tom paste and cook for 1 minute.  
  4. Add the amino acid, sausage and tomatoes, stir, cook 1 minute.  
  5. Add rice and stir to combine.  Add the veg stock and bring to low boil.  Remove from heat, cover and place in oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven (DO NOT UNCOVER) and let sit away from heat for 10-15 minutes.    Fluff with fork. 

Serve with crusty baguette and hot sauce. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Vegetarian/Vegan Italian Wedding Soup

Last week I realized I hadn't had Italian Wedding Soup since I stopped eating meat.  All the recipes I found used "vegan meatballs" and I didn't want that.  My favorite non-vegetarian version of this soup had chick pea sized meatballs and that got me thinking: WHY DON'T  I USE CHICK PEAS IN PLACE OF MEATBALLS?!?!?!?!  Here is what I came up with.  It took under an hour from start to finish.  The end result is a hearty vegetable soup that, with a salad and garlic bread, makes a satisfying meal.
extra virgin olive oil
1.5 cup finely diced onion
3 cloves garlic, two minced
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tablespoon minced basil
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
8 cups vegetable stock
1 cup uncooked ditalini or orzo pasta
1.5 cans chick peas, drained and rinsed until water runs clear *
1 8 oz package of spinach +
salt and pepper

  1.  Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the onion and  the two minced garlic cloves and cook about 5 minutes.  
  2. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 7 minutes.
  3. Stir in the oregano and basil and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add the stock and parsley and bring to boil and reduce heat.
  4. Add pasta and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the chick peas and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. In a saute pan with high heat add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the last garlic clove.  After clove starts to color, about 3-4 minutes, add all the spinach and cover.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Turn heat off and using tongs stir the spinach.  Cover and let sit off heat for another 2 minutes.
  6. Remove garlic clove from spinach and add the spinach to the soup.  Simmer for another 5 minutes and remove from heat.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve garnished with grated Parmesan or Percorino cheese. If you don't add cheese this is a vegan recipe.

* This may seem annoying, but 1 can was not enough and 2 cans seemed like too many.  Use your left overs on a salad or something.  Or roast them.  Or just put 2 full cans in the soup.  It's up to you, I don't care. 

+ You could also use a pack of frozen chopped spinach.  Thaw it and then drain the water.  Skip step 5 and just add the thawed spinach to pot in step 6.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Spinach/Squash Tart

1/2 of a puff pastry square that has been cut in half to make two 4.5 by 4.5 inch squares
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup white onion, diced
1/3 cup bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes
Leftover spaghetti squash, about 1 and 1\2 cups
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 wedge of your favorite Laughing Cow spreadable cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Put pastry squares on sheet tray and using a fork poke holes all over. Bake for 12 minutes, spinning tray halfway. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a medium sauté pan on medium-hugh heat. Add the onions, peppers and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times. 
  3. Stir in the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook for thirty seconds then add the spaghetti squash and spinach. Reduce heat and cover to heat mixture throughout - about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile take the cooled puff pastry and, using a pearing knife, draw a square - leaving a border - on the top of the puff party. Push down gently and the center should collapse leaving a square bowl shape.
  5. Spread half of the Laughing Cow wedge inside each of the pastry bowls. Pack the squash/veggie mixture on top (you will have some leftover) and serve!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Yum Yum Quinoa Salad

It's been two months since my last recipe post.  Nothing wrong with that.  I spent a lot of the holiday season using the Cooking For Two book by America's Test Kitchen.  I have had it for a few years, but haven't opened it since I stopped eating land meat two years ago.  They have some wonderful things in there.

Tonight I wanted to do a quinoa side for our veggie burgers.  I was originally going to do a hot dish like a pilaf or my Masala Style Quinoa but the wife suggested something raw and salad like to keep in the fridge.  During the summer I rotate a few different cold salads that I make in large batches.  A few bites of something like that is better than three handfuls of Cheez Its when the munchies strike.  (I still always keep the Cheez Its near, just eat a lot less in a sitting.)

Yum Yum Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa, rinsed until the water runs clear
2 cups water
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, julienned
1 cup broccoli florets (if frozen then thawed)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
2-3 tablespoons sun dried red pepper, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, washed and chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of fresh herb(s)
1/2 lime

  1. In a medium pot with lid, stir in quinoa, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring to boil, cover, lower heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes (or until all the water is gone).  After cooking dump into large bowl and let cool completely. 
  2. Coat the bottom of a medium saute pan with 1 or 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Once hot, add the shallot and saute for about 3 minutes, add the zucchini and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Cook for 5-6 minutes.  Then stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.  Remove from heat immediately and cool.
  3. To the bowl of cooled quinoa add the shallot mixture, broccoli, corn, red pepper, cilantro, tomatoes and fresh herbs (for this one I used a mix of cilantro and basil).  Stir to combine.
  4. Dress with the juice of (about) 1/2 lime and (about) 2 tablespoons of olive oil, to taste.  Season with Salt and pepper.  You won't need to add a lot of salt because the zucchini provide a sodium dose already. 
Add some extra fresh ground pepper when serving.  It really makes the other flavors jump into each other.

This will keep in the fridge for up to a week.  The complete protein found in the quinoa will fill you up better and much longer than a regular snack or salad.  For your health!