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Posts Tagged ‘Vegan’

The perfect way to celebrate summer’s bounty of tomatoes and zucchini.  Traditionally, domatokeftethes, from Santorini, are a tomato-based fritter that are delightful as an appetizer or side dish. We’ve added some zucchini to the mix but feel free to omit.  The combination of herbs can be adjusted to include dill, parsley, basil, mint, or oregano, depending on taste preference. 

Domatokeftethes, adapted from the Web

4 ripe medium tomatoes, finely chopped and deseeded
2 medium zucchini, grated
1 medium onion, grated
1 1/2 – 2 cups of self-rising flour (or add 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup of AP flour)
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh mint or fresh basil, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients except flour in a bowl. Add enough flour to make a thick batter.
  2. Heat 1/2 to 3/4 inch of oil in a nonstick frying pan. When the oil is hot, drop the batter by tablespoonfuls into the oil and fry until browned. Turn once to brown on both sides.  (I pan-fried the batter with less oil.)
  3. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper towels.

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The weather has been unusually gloomy and wet and we’ve all been under the weather the last few weeks.  It sure doesn’t feel like summer inside or outside.  As a result, our palattes have been a bit off.  Rice Kernel requests “something special” (his words) for every meal.  (Translation: mango sorbet and lollipops.)  Even my typically easy-to-please husband is longing for “flavor” (his words, too).  I threw up my hands over the weekend but, with the California sun breaking through the clouds this morning, I was eager to change up our dinner menu and try my hand at some long-bookmarked recipes.

Lentil soup and lamb meatballs aren’t typical summer fare.  But bear with me.  This is a hearty and oh-so-savory dish.  The lentil soup is a meal on its own.  Full of iron and protein from the beans, the soup is a savory infusion of herbs, vegetables, and flavorful stock.  But the party doesn’t stop there.  The meatballs are aromatic and tender –  meaty with rich lamb flavor and balanced with herbs and (unexpected) ground almonds.  I can imagine they would be summer-perfect on the grill as an appetizer or stuffed into a pita or lavash, with some tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta.  For tonight, meatballs nestled in lentil soup were the perfect answer to pleas for “something special” with “flavor.”

Lentil Soup with Lamb Meatballs, from Wolfgang Puck, Adventures of the Kitchen via Je Mange la Ville
This makes 8-10 servings, so halve it if needed.

Soup
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 celery stalk
1 branch fresh parsley
1 branch fresh thyme
1 pound golden lentils (or regular lentils, if not available)
10 cups chicken stock or broth (or vegetable)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch chili pepper flakes
(I also added beans and peas)

Meatballs
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 pound ground lamb
1 cup blanched almonds, toasted and ground
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup raisins, coarsely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Garnish
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp honey
Pinch salt

Directions

  1. Start with the soup. In a large saucepan, heat up the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, turmeric, and cumin. Saute over high heat until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, make a bouquet garni by tying together the celery, parsley, and thyme, and add to pan.
  2. Stir in the lentils and the chicken stock, season lightly with salt, pepper, and chili flakes, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Skim as necessary.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the meatballs and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (if you are baking the meatballs in the oven, as opposed to pan-frying).  In a small bowl, soak bread crumbs in milk.  In a mixing bowl, combine the lamb, almonds, soaked bread crumbs, onion, raisins, egg, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and chili pepper flakes.  Season lightly with salt andpepper.  Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet.  Form meat mixture into 40 golf ball-size meatballs, each approximately 1-inch in diameter.   At this point, you can bake the meatballs in the oven for 15-20 minutes or cook them in a skillet for 8-10 minutes, until browned and firm to the touch.
  4. Now, return to the soup. Remove the celery bouquet. With an immersion blender, lightly blend soup (you want it to still be a little chunky).  Alternatively, transfer 2/3 of the soup to a blender. Blend until smooth and return to the saucepan.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Ladle soup into 8 or 10 soup bowls. Divide the meatballs evenly among the soup bowls.

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While my husband and Dad share a fondness for eggplant, Rice Kernel and I are ambivalent about the beautiful purple vegetable.  We’ll eat it, but it’s not our first choice.  For me, part of the issue is that I’m always scratching my head thinking of ways to prepare it.  Stir-fry?  Eggplant parmesan?  Roasted as a side?  Okay, I’m stuck.

So you can imagine my joy when I happened upon this recipe.  Zesty with garlic and spice, this appetizing side is full of roasted vegetable sweetness.  It’s great as an appetizer with goat cheese or crackers, as a base for a delicious vegetarian pannini or turkey or lamb burger, mixed with scrambled eggs, topped on grilled chicken or fish, or mixed into pasta sauces.  Endlessly versatile, I’ve discovered my summer recipe for the eggplant growing in the garden.

Spicy Red Pepper and Eggplant Confit, from Gourmet, May 2006

Ingredients

2 lb red bell peppers, tender-roasted
1 (1 1/2-lb) eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes

Directions

  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut peppers into 1-inch pieces. Toss together all ingredients in a large roasting pan, then spread evenly. Roast, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 1 hour. Cool before serving.  (I prefer to blend the confit until almost smooth.)

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I’ve long desired to bake a hummingbird cake.  It has a curiosity-inducing name and, truthfully, I don’t think you can go wrong with a Southern dessert classic.  But given the yield (a layer cake) and the inordinate amount of sugar and butter required, I’ve kept my distance.  Until now.  I came across this made over vegan recipe on Art Smith’s website.  Loaded with crushed fresh pineapple, mashed bananas, and applesauce this cake is moist and naturally (and subtly) sweet.  With added whole wheat flour and minimal oil, it is healthy enough for breakfast and perfect for a treat any time of day.  If you have sweets-obsessed and dairy-loving friends and family like me, this recipe will make them rethink baking’s key components.  (Trust me.  Four batches have left our kitchen in two days.)

Vegan Hummingbird Recipe, adapted from Art Smith

Dry Bowl Ingredients
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, or spelt flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Wet Bowl Ingredients
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, with juice (I used 1/2 cup of fresh pineapple, chopped finely)
2/3 cup organic granulated cane sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Frosting Ingredients
1 container tofu cream cheese (or non-dairy cream cheese)
1/2 cup soy margarine or Earth Balance vegan spread
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place cupcake liners in a muffin tray or you can spray your cupcake tray with nonstick spray.
  3. In a big bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients: the flours, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
  4. In another big bowl, mash the banana with the pineapple and mix in the sugar, oil and vanilla.
  5. Once the mix is smooth, stir in the walnuts and coconut flakes (if desired).
  6. Carefully mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until it is combined, but be careful not to overmix.
  7. Evenly distribute the batter amongst the cupcake tin.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. While cupcakes are cooking, prepare the frosting by mixing the cream cheese and margarine.  Mix in the vanilla, lemon juice and powdered juice.  Make sure not to overmix, but this should be fairly easy since tofu cream cheese softens fairly easily.
  10. Ice the cupcakes and sprinkle the top with the walnut pieces, additional coconut or topping of your choice.

Note:  This recipe yields about 8-9 regular-sized cupcakes.  I discovered 1.5 times the recipe yields a full tray of 12.

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I’ve spoken fondly of the much-maligned cauliflower.  Truth is, as much as I adore the common white variety, my heart skips a beat when I come across the striking purple, orange, and Romesco varieties.  Today, the little fingers in my kitchen selected a beautiful head of orange cauliflower.  In shape alone, it resembles any old cauliflower.  But it’s color – ranging from coral to sunburst orange - is anything but pedestrian.  The hue comes from extra beta-carotene naturally stored in its florets (which also gives this cauliflower 25 percent more vitamin A than the more common white variety).  It tastes slightly more sugary and creamier than its cousin and it’s an easy way to surprise and delight the little ones (or your dinner guests). 

Inspired by my friend, Rani, who swears Indian cooking is simple to prepare, I paired the beautiful orange cauliflower with sweet potatoes and savory, sense-awakening spices.  Perfect for a hot day in May!

(We had some great shots of Rice Kernel breaking up the head of cauliflower and of the finished dish.  Then the memory stick in the camera decided to fail.  My phone captured the remants of the dish…. hardly does it justice!)

Indian-Spiced Orange Cauliflower and Sweet Potatoes, adapted from Epicurious

1 (1 3/4-lb) head cauliflower, cut into 3/4-inch-wide florets (I used orange cauliflower)
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used Japanese sweet potatoes)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp minced fresh jalapeño, including seeds
2 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Toss cauliflower and potatoes together in a bowl with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin seeds, and1/4 teaspoon salt.  Spread on baking pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and browned in spots and potatoes are just tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. While vegetables are roasting, cook garlic, jalapeño, and ginger in remaining tablespoon of oil in a skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until garlic loses its pungency, about 2-3 minutes.  Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes.  Stir in a splash of water or stock (about 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup), scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet.  Then stir in roasted vegetables.  Cook, covered for another 1-2 minutes and serve.

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