Thursday, April 8, 2021

Spanish Tapas Party Recipes, Chickpea "Omelet" Flatbreads

March was challenging, to say the least.  Lambs and lions and all that.  My apologies for only food posting once!  But among other things, we both got our Covid jabs.  

That being the case, Sally wanted to host a luncheon for a couple of her work friends (and fellow vegetarians) who have also been jabbed.  We decided I would do a Spanish Tapas luncheon with 8 or 10 "small plates" so everyone could have some choices.  Unfortunately, with so much going on at once, I was too busy to get really pretty "before" and "plated" photos of most of the dishes.   But here's what I made:

Ajo Blanco 
That's Spanish for "white garlic".  If you like garlic and almond-based non-dairy products, you'll love this chilled summer soup!

2+ cups ice-cold Water
1 cup blanched whole Almonds
2-3 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
1 (6-8 oz.) Baguette, preferably day-old, crusts removed, white innards torn into pieces
1/3 cup Olive Oil, plus more
3 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste
White Pepper, to taste
16-20 Green Grapes

Quarter the grapes, mince the garlic, and reserve as separate items. Blanch the almonds in boiling water and rub off the skins. Rinse.

Combine 3/4 cup tap water, blanched almonds, and bread in a food processor and let sit 4–5 minutes. Purée until smooth. With the motor running, add the 2 cups of ice water, the oil, and the vinegar. Puree again u
ntil the oil and water emulsify. Adjust seasonings and vinegar as needed. Chill

Note:  To get this step right, it really helps to transfer the liquid to a blender; a food processor to emulsify just doesn't work well, it just doesn't do the job right. 30 seconds in a blender is better than 10 minutes in a food processor...

To serve, put "some" minced garlic and sliced grapes in each bowl first. Then pour the cold liquid over all.

Ajo Blanco ready to pour and serve.

Croquetas amb Ceps
Air-fried lightly breaded whole mushrooms.  The only issue I had was getting the breading to stick to the 'shrooms.  Very tasty though!

12 whole Mushrooms -- White or Crimini
1 Egg, beaten
½ cup Breadcrumbs  -- Panko is fine
½ tsp Garlic powder
½ tsp Onion powder
¼ tsp Basil

Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl or zip-top bag and shake to combine.

Dip the mushrooms in the egg then drop them into the breading. Shake to coat the 'shrooms with the crumbs.

Place the breaded 'shrooms in the fryer basket or on a baking tray. Spritz with oil and air fry or bake at 400F for about 3 minutes. Flip the mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Berenjenas con Meil
I made this dish back when I was just getting started with cooking fancy dishes.  These days I like the long slender Japanese eggplant for this dish.  It's firmer, less seedy, and cuts nicely into bite-sized rounds. 

3-4 Japanese Eggplant sliced into 3/4" thick rounds
3-4 Tbsp Honey
1/4-1/2 cup julienned fresh Mint leaves
1-2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds

Saute the eggplant in a good amount of EVOO, and when it's just browning and turning soft, turn it out into a serving bowl.  Drizzle with honey and dress with the mint and sesame seeds.  Best served a bit warm, but it's not bad at room temperature either!

Zanahorías aliñadas
Tangy marinated carrots!   These are an excellent accompaniment to any meal.  Make a batch today!

4 Carrots
2-4 Garlic cloves
1 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/4 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black pepper
1 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 cup H2O
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

Cook the peeled, cut carrots until just fork tender -- don't overcook! Drain and cool.

Mash the garlic and spices into a paste – a mortar & pestle is perfect for this, and Sally has a couple of these classic pharmacist tools.

Add the garlic paste to the carrots and stir. Then add equal parts of vinegar and water until the carrots are covered with liquid.

Cover the carrots and allow them to marinate for a minimum of 4 hours in the fridge.

Spoon the carrots out of the liquid with a slotted spoon and serve with a pinch of salt.

Calçots con salsa Romesco
Grilled spring onions with a classic roasted red bell pepper and almond Romesco Sauce.  We don't get "spring" onions here very much, so I used small Florida-grown Strawberry Onions.

Strawberry Onions ready to air-fry

16 Spring Onions or 6 Strawberry Onions divided
Salt, Olive oil. I used Black Icelandic Lava salt.

Airfry or roast at 400F until cooked through – about 30 minutes. Serve with Romesco Sauce (see recipe below).  That's it.  Simple!

One lone onion left from the batch!

Patatas Bravas  
Another ultimately simple dish, yet so tasty.  Roasted fingerling potatoes with herbs and spices.

15 Fingerling Potatoes, halved lengthwise
3 cloves minced Garlic
1/2 Tbsp EVOO
1 tsp Salt
Smoked and Hot Paprika to taste -- how brava are you?

Toss everything together in a bowl, the spread the patatas cut-side-up on a baking sheet, and bake at 400F for about 30 minutes.

Pan de Oliva 
Fairly simple yeasted bread similar to Italian foccacia.  You can add all sorts of herbs and/or spices.  I chose chopped kalamata style olives.

4 cups AP Flour
1-1/3 cups warm Water
2 tsp Sugar
1 packet quick-rise Yeast
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup EVOO
24 large, pitted, chopped Kalamata Olives
Paprika for dusting

Bloom the yeast with the sugar in the warm water and let it set while you measure out the flour and other dry goods.   

Combine the flour and salt.  The pout in the olive oil and yeast water.  Mix with a fork to make a "shaggy" dough.  When things are about half combined, fold in the chopped olives and continue mixing.  Dust your bench with flour then dump out the dough and knead for about 10 minutes, adding a bit more flour if the dough seems a bit wet.  Form into a ball.

Put the dough ball back in the mixing bowl, cover with a warm damp towel, and let the dough rise 45 minutes to an hour, to double in size.

Pat the dough out to a 10-12" diameter round oiled baking pan.  Cover and let it rise again for 20 minutes.

Now, like foccacia, poke finger holes down all the way to the bottom all over the loaf.  Spritz with a bit of EVOO and dust with sweet or smoky paprika so the crust will brown nicely.

Bake in a pre-heated 400F oven for 20-30 minutes, to an internal temp of 190-220F.

Cut wedges or slices -- your choice.

Salsa Romesco --  
A quintessentially Spanish sauce.  So simple.  And so tasty on such a wide range of foods...

3/4 cup Sliced Almonds
2 large Red Peppers, split, deveined and roasted skin side up until nicely blackened 
1 Tbsp Malt Vinegar
1 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp oil-packed Sundried Tomatoes, chopped, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp fresh cracked Black Pepper
1-2 peeled Garlic Cloves

Put everything in the food processor and whirrrr until nicely pureed.  Yes.  That. Simple.

You can make it thick, like I did, or thin it out with a mix of water and vinegar, or EVOO.

Chickpea "Omelet" Flatbread

I guess the "gurus" at Blue Zones have never heard of flatbreads made from chickpeas!!  Never heard of Indian Socca or Italian Farinata among others which have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years!!!   They posted this recipe, and for some reason known only to themselves decided to call these flatbreads an "omelet"!!!   How bizarre!  

Anyway, these delightful little breads or crepes are very tasty, easy to make, and are an interesting addition to a meal.  Think of them as a wrap to gather together bits of stir fry or a dry curry or in this case roasted veggies.  This recipe makes only 4 flatbreads, so you might need to double or triple things...

1/2 cup Chickpea Flour (I like Bob's Red Mill brand)
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric
3/4 cup Water
Optional -- 1 Tbsp finely minced chives, green onion tops or shallot
Optional -- fillings

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Whisking, add the water gradually.  Yes, this is a very thin batter!  Lastly add any optional.

Now it's Crepe Time!   In a medium hot non-stick skillet with a bare spritz of oil, ladle in about a quarter of the batter and swirl to spread it out thin and round.   Cook for a minute or two until you get broken bubbles and the surface is dry. 

Flip carefully and cook the second side a minute or two. 

Repeat with rest of the batter, keeping the cooked stack warm covered with a towel.

Here's where you get creative.  Fill your chickpea flatbreads like you would the flatbread we all know -- the soft tortilla.  Whatchagot?  Cold cuts and cheeses, pickled vegetables, roasted veggies like I did, leftover chili, curry or  stir fry?  Use them to mop up a bowl of soup.   It's all good.   These little flatbreads are tasty but not bursting with flavor, so they go with almost everything.  

Monday, March 8, 2021

Chickpea Crust, Impossible Cottage Pie, Welsh Rarebit, Crunchy Cauliflower

 Crunchy Cauliflower Bites
The vegetarian's version of Chicken Nuggets.  Very, very good when hot from the oven.  I did them in my Ninja Fliptm Airfry Oven so I didn't have to heat the whole house!

1 medium Cauliflower, broken into florets
4 tablespoons Cornstarch
1 tablespoon Smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
4 tablespoons dairy-free milk substitute
3-4 oz Panko
4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dipping Sauces for serving.  I love Frank's Red Hot Sweet Chili Saucetm

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Or not... this isn't a sticky sort of preparation and I had no issues with an ordinary non-stick pan.

Steam or boil the cauliflower in salted water for 5 minutes until almost tender. I nuked mine in the microwave for about 3 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Sprinkle the corn flour and spices over the florets, and toss to coat. Pour over the dairy-free milk and toss to coat again, followed by the breadcrumbs, tossing a final time to make sure every thing is covered in breadcrumbs. Season well with salt and pepper and spread out on a prepared baking sheet.

Drizzle the oil (I used only about 1 Tbsp from my sprayer!) over the florets and bake for 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are deeply golden and the cauliflower is cooked through.  

WW Chickpea Crust Veggie Tart (a.k.a. "pizza")
Sally pointed me to this WW recipe which came up in her WW app.    This one is pretty simple, folks, not to mention fast, easy and downright tasty.

1 can Garbanzos, drained and rinsed
3 cloves Garlic
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
1+ tsp Oregano 
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 450F.

In the food processor, pulse the beans and garlic a few times.  Then add the cornstarch and spices and pulse more.  Add the cheese and egg and spin to bring it all together.

Scoop the mixture out onto a parchment paper covered baking sheet or peel.  Use a spatula to spread the mixture out into a 12" or larger disk or rectangle.   Bake for 15-18 minutes until starting to brown.  Remove and let the crust rest a few minutes while you turn it into a pizza.  I used a bare schmear of tomato gravy, mushrooms, par-cooked asparagus tips, bell pepper, goat cheese and a bit of mozzarella.   Return to the oven and bake again for about 15 minutes until melty and delicious!

Impossible Cottage Pie
Well, the "meat" was impossible anyway... Impossible Burgertm that is.  My local Publix has it for a better price than Boca or other "meat replacements".  Cottage Pie is a concept, not really a specific list of ingredients, so feel free to add or subtract to get a dish that you'll love as much as we loved this.

First I peeled and boiled up about a 1-1/2 lbs of chunk-cut potatoes.  When done, I mashed them with some plain Skyr yogurt, a splash of half & half, and a dash of white pepper.  

Then I browned 8 oz of faux meat with a splash of EVOO for flavor, added some diced onion (about a cup) and raw carrot (another cup) and continued cooking for a couple minutes.  

To save a bunch of time I then added a bag of frozen Mixed Vegetables and a small bag of Frozen Peas straight from the freezer (carefully removing them from their respective bags first).  I added a cup of water, put the lid on, and let the veg thaw and start to cook for a few minutes.  

At this point I added spices & herbs -- dried basil, coriander, rosemary, thyme, sage... all the usual suspects, to taste.   Then I added about 4 Tbsp of Bistotm Gravy Crystals to the bubbling liquid and gave things a stir.  I let it all come back to a low boil for a few minutes, then took it off the heat.  

I transferred the filling to a nice glass baking dish, and spooned the mashed potatoes overall.  A sprinkle of  sweet paprika to help it brown, and the dish went into the oven at 400F for about 30 minutes until the crust was starting to brown around the edges.

Welsh Rarebit (Cheesy Toast)
No rabbits were harmed in the production of this dish!   This is a real English recipe, not some tarted up Americanized version.  Well, I did tart it up with some sauteed mushrooms...

2 Tbsp unsalted  Butter
2 Tbsp AP Flour
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp kosher Salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup Porter or other Beer
3/4 cup Cream
6 oz (1-1/2 cups) shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar
Hot Sauce -- a couple drops
4 slices toasted Bread (not white "Wonder" bread, use the real thing)
Optional sauteed Mushroom slices

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour to make a roux. Cook the roux  for a couple minutes to lose the floury taste but do NOT brown the flour.

Whisk in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper until smooth. Now add the beer and whisk to combine; then the cream. Last, gradually add cheese, stirring constantly, until it melts and the sauce is smooth. Add hot sauce

Pour over toast and serve immediately:

Thursday, February 25, 2021

GF Oat Bread, Chana Masala Burgers, Green Bean Soup, Celeriac & Squash Boulanger

Celeriac & Butternut Boulangère
"Pommes boulangère" is a sort layered braised potato casserole 'takeaway' prepared by local French bakers (boulangère) who would cook it in the cooling ovens after a night of baking.   

This version of the recipe idea comes from The Doctor's Kitchen blog by Dr. 
Rupy Aujla, an NHS  doctor who became interested in nutritional medicine about ten years ago.

We Americans eat a LOT of celery, but usually ignore Celeriac -- the root of the celery plant, which has a very mild flavor as well.  If you can find celeriac at your local Farmer's Market (as we can) or megamart,  you might want to give this tasty braised veg dish a try.  Very simple and VERY tasty!

2   cups Vegetable Broth (or water plus Vegetable Base
1   Celeriac Root, peeled and sliced into thin half moons
1   Butternut Squash Neck, peeled and sliced into thin half moons (save the rest for a soup)
1   large Red or White Onion, peeled and sliced into half moons
Fresh Tarragon if you can find it; otherwise dried
Salt & Pepper to taste
Red Pepper Flakes to taste

Don't have tarragon?  Any combination of Marjoram, Basil,  Thyme, Coriander and Dill will do just fine.

Layer your baking dish with sideways 'stacks', alternating slices of celeriac, onion and squash. Sprinkle the spices over the top.  Add the broth carefully along the side so as to not disturb the spices too much.

Braise for about 45 minutes at 400F.  I used our Ninja Airfryer/Oven on Air Roast.   

GF Oat Bread
The other day, I bought the wrong kind of oatmeal for Sally's breakfasts, and had to find something to do with lots of oats.  This sounded interesting:

2-1/2 cups Oat Flour (grind it yourself in your FP, from rolled oats, then sift)
2-1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Plain Skyr or Greek Yogurt
1 Egg
1/4 cup Honey
3/4 cup Milk or Almond Milk

Preheat oven to 350F

It took about 3-1/2 cups of rolled oats to make my 2-1/2 cups of oat flour.  YMMV depending on the size of your rolled oats.  I sifted them through a wire colander.

To your freshly ground and sifted oat flour, add the baking powder, baking soda and salt.   In a separate bowl beat together the oil, yogurt, egg, honey and milk.  The original recipe called for a cup of un-ground rolled oats to be added to wet ingredients, but I did not do that this time (shame on me!).   

Combine wet and dry ingredients until they just come together.  

Spray or grease a 9x5 loaf pan or 8-9" round pan, and pour in the batter.  Bake for 40-45 minutes until you get 190-220 internal temperature, or a tooth pick comes out clean.  

Cool in the pan, on a rack, for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely.  Breads like this can be kinda crumbly, so it's best to wait to slice them until after completely cooled.

I gotta say this is VERY tasty!  But the loaf only came out 1" thick!!  No rise at all!  

My baking soda and powder are both new.  I can't believe leaving out a cup of un-ground oats would reduce the bulk of the loaf that much, but maybe.  I'll just have to try it again, now, won't I!

Chana Masala Burgers
Wow!  A Forks Over Knives recipe that didn't need serious adjustment!!  This is our new favorite Veggie Burger!!  Mild "Indian" flavor.  The only drawback is the long baking time, if you decide to do this recipe "by the book"  as I did.  Next time I'll pan fry these in a splash of oil for 7-8 minutes per side like I usually do with veggie patties.

2 medium Potatoes (1 pound)
1 medium Onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 can Garbanzos, rinsed and drained
¼ cup Tomato Paste
1–2 Tbsp minced Chili
2 tsp Chana Masala seasoning
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp Amchur powder (powdered green mango)
1 tsp Date paste or mashed date
1 tsp grated fresh Ginger
2 cloves Garlic, minced
½ tsp ground Turmeric
Panko to thicken

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel, cook and coarsely mash the potatoes. Cool.

Put the onion in a food processor and process until smooth. Boy is that pungent!!   Add the garbanzos and spin again to get a coarse puree. Transfer the bean-onion mixture to a large bowl.

Stir in everything else.  If your mixture is too soupy to make patties, fold in panko until you get a moldable consistency.  I used about 2/3 cup.  

Divide the mixture into 8 portions (about 2/3 cup each), shaping each into a patty. Bake the patties 20 to 25 minutes. Turn patties over and bake 20 to 25 minutes more or until heated through and lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes  until firm.

Hungarian Style Green Bean Soup
Like all good comfort foods, this pan-European soup has few ingredients and is made with love.  To a basic Hungarian Green Bean Soup, I added diced onion and diced cooked potatoes.

1 lb fresh trimmed Green Beans(cut into 1-inch pieces)
1 cup diced Sweet Onion
Salt, to taste
2 cups Potatoes -- peeled, diced 1/2"
2 Tbsp unsalted Butter
2 Tbsp AP Flour
1/4 tsp White Pepper
1/2 tsp Sweet or Hot Hungarian Paprika
1/4 cup Water or Broth
1 cup Sour Cream or plain Yogurt
2 cups additional Water

Place the green beans in a pot, cover with water; add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the  green beans but Reserve the cooking liquid.

Peel and dice the potatoes and cook them however you want, to fork tender.  I microwaved mine with a splash of water in the bowl.

In your soup pot, make a roux with the butter and flour and cook it to a light amber color. Add pepper, paprika, and 1/4 cup water and stir until smooth.

Temper the sour cream with some of the hot green-bean cooking liquid.

Add the sour cream mixture to the pan along with onion, green beans and the remaining cooking water; whisk the mixture until smooth. Add the additional water as needed.

Simmer until the broth thickens. Serve hot or chilled.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Empanadas, Green Lasagna, Iman Bayildi, Valentine Brownie

 Baked Salmon Florentine Empanadas
Not exactly a Latino filling, but hey! it was what Sally wanted for Valentine's Day Dinner!   The following made about a dozen empanadas.

2   7oz. Salmon Filets
4 oz.  Goat Cheese Crumbles
2 oz Feta Cheese Crumbles
1 box frozen, chopped Spinach
1/4 cup Pine Nuts
2 tsp Smoky Tomato Spice Blend or minced sundried tomatoes
1 package frozen Empanada 'skins'

Poach the salmon -- put the thawed filets in a pot of boiling water, bring back to a boil, turn the heat off, cover and set aside for 15 minutes.  Skin the fish and put the flaked meat in the freezer to chill for a few minutes.  

Thaw the spinach and squeeze it as dry as you can.  Toast the pine nuts.

Put the fish, spinach pine nuts and spice in a bowl, and using a fork break up the spinach and fish into small pieces.  Add the cheese and incorporate it into the mixture.

Bring the skins close to room temperature.  

Place 2-3 Tbsp of filling in the center of a skin, brush the edge with water and fold it up into a half moon.  

Pinch the edges together, lay the empanada down, and seal the edge with a fork.  Poke a fork-worth of holes in the upper surface, and place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet.

Repeat until you run out of skins or filling.   

Brush the tops with beaten egg.  Bake the empanadas at 400F for 20-30 minutes until golden brown, or a little less time if you like your empanadas to have a softer skin.

Serve with your choice of sauces, salsas or whatever you prefer.

Green Lasagna
This is one of those Forks over Knives recipes.  Not bad tasting, but so rich and unctuous!  Needs something sharp to give it some definition. 

As written by FOK, and shown below, the ingredients make only one-half of a 9x9 baking dish – NOT a whole 9x9 lasagna! Enough to serve four as a small main dish with a side salad or some such. Otherwise double up the ingredients and quadruple the amount of herbs and spices.

1/3 cup raw Cashews
6 dried whole wheat lasagna noodles !!! Ha! Ha!
4 Swiss Chard leaves, thick stems removed
8 oz. thin fresh Asparagus spears, trimmed (about 20 spears)
1-1/2 cups frozen Peas
8-oz. pkg. Sliced Cremini mushrooms
1-1/2 cups unsweetened, unflavored Plant-based Milk, such as almond, soy, cashew, or rice
1/3 cup Chickpea Flour
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
1 clove Garlic
½ tsp Black Pepper
¼ tsp Salt
¼ tsp grated Nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a small bowl combine the cashews and boiling water to cover. Let stand, covered, 20 minutes; drain. Rinse and drain again. Reserve.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. While noodles are boiling, use tongs to plunge the chard into the pasta water until wilted. Remove and drain. During the last 2 minutes of cooking pasta, add the asparagus and peas. Drain. Rinse. Separate noodles, asparagus, and peas.

In a skillet cook the mushrooms until browned.

To make the sauce, whisk together the milk and chickpea flour until smooth. Cook and stir just until bubbly, remove from the heat. In a food processor combine the soaked cashews, milk mixture, and the remaining ingredients. Cover, pulse, then puree.

Now it's time to layer. The original instructions call for you to put only two noodles side by side and build your stacks on that – that's what you see in my photos.   That is, only one half of any square 9x9 baking dish that I know of!  As I said, it was enough to feed the two of us and have a lunch leftover for Sally.

Basically layer noodles, sauce, half the mushrooms and the peas. Then noodles, more sauce, the chard and the remaining mushrooms. Lastly more noodles and the last of the sauce. Top with a layer of side-by-side asparagus spears as shown.   My advice?  Cut the asparagus into 1" lengths -- those spears look pretty by they're dang near impossible to cut through when laid up like that!

Bake, covered about 30 minutes until hot – 165F in the middle.

Iman Bayildi
A dish from the old Ottoman Empire.  Originally made with whole roasted eggplants stuffed with onion, garlic, tomatoes, and spices.  The version I learned years go is more of a stew --   with eggplant, lamb, onion, garlic and tomato.  I haven't made the dish since we've "gone pescatarian/vegetarian", so this version includes a sort of a faux-lamb made with Impossibletm Burger, the last half of a 1 pound package that I bought a couple weeks back. 

3 Chinese/Japanese Eggplant, sliced into 1/2" rounds
1/2 large Red Onion, sliced long and thin
8oz heirloom Cherry Tomatoes (about a dozen), halved
4 cloves Garlic, minced
8 oz.  bulk Impossible Burgertm or Boca Crumblestm
2 tsp Cavender's Seasoningtm
1-2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground Cloves
dash of Salt & Pepper and Sweet Paprika
10-12 Medjool Dates, halved

Brown and crumble the 'meat substitute' with the Cavender's seasoning in a splash of olive oil.  Reserve.  In a good amount of olive oil start cooking the eggplant rounds.  Dust them with some Cavender's and sweet paprika.  

After five minutes or so, toss the eggplant to get the other sides cooking, and add the onion and garlic.  Simmer for another 5-6 minutes, then add the tomatoes, spices and a cup or so of water.    Continue simmering until the eggplant is starting to break down.  Return the faux-meat to the pan, add the dates, and toss to combine. 

Simmer until the liquid is reduced at least by half, then serve. 

This is a really excellent use of a faux meat -- being fairly heavily spiced during cooking, it adds a real flavor element to the dish.  I've said before that Cavender's added to ground pork as it's cooking almost gives you the flavor of gyro meat.  Same thing here.

Raspberry Truffle Brownies
I was going to make a chocolate and something cake for Sally's Valentine's Day dinner.  But she decided she's like to try these instead.  From a FOK recipe that actually works "as is".  

4 oz Semi-sweet Chocolate, drops or chopped bar
½ cup Raspberry Jam
½ cup Cane Sugar
½ cup Unsweetened Applesauce
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
½ tsp Almond Extract
1½ cups Whole Wheat Flour
¼ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
¼ tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp  Baking Soda
¼ tsp Salt
1 cup fresh Raspberries, separated and frozen on a tray at least overnight before using

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Line an 8 x 8 or 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper or use a  nonstick/silicone dish.

Melt the chocolate.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk mix together the jam, sugar, and applesauce. Stir in the vanilla, almond extract, and the melted chocolate. Fold in the frozen raspberries.

Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold carefully (to avoid breaking up the frozen berries) until a stiff dough forms. 

Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. It will be very thick -- very thick! Use wet fingers to spread it out in the pan.

Bake for 16 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Especially good and fudgy after being refrigerated for a few hours.  Stays remarkably soft, not particularly "brownie-like", even uncovered in the fridge for two days.  

Delicious none the less!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

"notChili" & Cornbread, Lentil Rissoles, Indian style Cauli-Potato Casserole, Cremini & Butternut Soup

Vegetable "notChili"
We all know that real chili is nothing more than beans, beef, tomato, onion, spices -- and chilies and other capsaicin peppers in particular.  No corn, no celery, no nada -- except beans, beef,  tomato, onion, and chilies.

That's why this is "notChili".  Beans and onion and tomatoes, peppers and spices -- YES.  Beef, NO.   Instead of beef I used nice big cubes of butternut squash.

There's no real recipe for chili.  Just a list of ingredients and your taste buds.

Since I wasn't making a competition chili, I elected to use up some cans from my pantry -- Roteltm Chili Fixins' for part of the spice. Bushestm Southwestern Pinto Beans,  and Hunt'stm Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes.  To that I added fresh diced tomatoes, red bell peppers, and onions.  Plus cumin, smoked paprika, sweet paprika and taco seasoning to taste -- add a little taste, add a little more, taste again, repeat until it's jussst spicy enough.

Like any real chili, I let the magic mixture simmer low and slow while I made and baked  the cornbread, below.   Served it up in big bowls, garnished with some shredded cheese.  Yuuuummm!  The perfect meal for the long cold spell we've been going through here in usually tropical South Florida.

Gotta have hot cornbread with chili, even notChili!  This is simple.  Even if you're not a baker you can make delicious cornbread.

1 cup Yellow Cornmeal, not corn flour
1 cup AP Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar (I don't care for sweet cornbread but you need a bit of sugar here)
4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Milk or Half & Half if you want it a bit richer
1 large Egg
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil

Preheat the oven to 425ºF and coat a 9-inch pie plate, cast iron skillet, or 8x8 casserole dish with non-stick spray (or butter for more flavor).

In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until evenly combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and oil.

Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir just until everything is moist. Don't over stir, a few lumps are OK.

Pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top and edges are golden brown. 

Slice into wedges and serve:

Lentil-Walnut Rissoles
Another in my continuing exploration of of plant-based patties.  This time featuring the ubiquitous lentil.   These are really, really good.  Sally's second favorite after my Black Bean rissoles.  I like these equally well, especially the texture which is more 'meaty' that the total puree  of my bean burger.

1 cup dry Lentils
1 Egg, beaten
½ cup Walnuts, chopped fine
1 Tbsp Oregano
1 cup rolled Oats  (quick cooking if you have them, just not steel cut or slow cook types)
¼ cup Vegetable broth (or water plus veggie base)
1 cup fine chopped Carrots
1 cup diced Onion
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook the lentils until nearly mushy. I used my rice cooker.

In a sauce pan combine the broth, carrots, onion and garlic. Simmer until the carrots are tender – 5-8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and Worchestershire sauce.

Remove from the heat and fold in all the other ingredients. Mash to combine everything. Let the mixture rest for 10-15 minutes to allow the oats to soak up liquid.

Test the mixture to see if it will make patties or fall apart. You may need to add more oats if things are too wet.

Form into 2/3 cup patties, pat them out to 1/2" or 3/4" thick, and fry in a hot skillet 6-8 minutes per side until nicely browned.  

Makes 7-8 rissoles:

Indian-spiced Cauliflower & Potato Casserole
This one came from Forks Over Knives.  I was a bit leery to use the recipe as is -- FOK has a reputation of messing up some aspect of almost every recipe.  But this one's only fauly is that as written, it makes a ton of casserole.  We easily got 10 servings out of this.  If you don't need that much, cut the recipe in half.  

Very tasty!  This one's a keeper, that's for sure!  The "Indian" spice blend is pleasant, not hot by any stretch, just a tiny bit warm.  

1 cup dry Brown Rice
1 lb. Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into ¾-inch pieces
4 cups small Cauliflower florets
½ cup thin-sliced Carrot
1 can Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can Tomato sauce
1 can Fire-roasted Diced Tomatoes, undrained
½ cup or more Frozen Peas

Spice Blend
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp turmeric
⅛ to ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon

In a LARGE pot, bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add the rice, bring back to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the potatoes and simmer an additional 10 minutes.

Add the carrots and peas and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked ingredients plus everything else, including the spice blend. Toss to combine.

Spread the mixture in a 3 quart baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 25-35 minutes at 375F.

Rest for 10 minutes then serve garnished with cilantro or your favorite shredded cheese.

Cremini & Butternut Soup
What?!  Mushrooms and squash together?  Heck yeah!  m Check this out:

1 medium-large Butternut Squash
8 oz Cremini or Portobello Mushrooms (same thing)
4-6 cups Veggie or Mushroom Broth (or water + base)
1 medium Onion, diced
3-4 cloves Garlic. minced
1 tsp each Thyme & Sage  
1/8 tsp fresh grated Nutmeg
1/4 cup Cream of Half & Half
Bistotm Vegetable Gravy mix -- to thicken the soup
Optional -- Parmesan or other cheese to garnish

Cut the squash into the ball and neck.  Peel the neck, coarse grate it and simmer in a cup of broth until mushy (or just nuke it in the microwave for 10 minutes).  Puree in your food processor and reserve.

In your soup kettle, saute the onion and garlic until translucent.    Add the pureed squash  neck, the remaining broth, herbs and spices, and simmer.  

Peel the ball end of the squash, and seed it.  Slice into 1/2" thick rings and chop into 1/2" cubes.  Par cook the cubes until just tender.  Add the cubes to the rest of the soup along with the cream.  Continue barely simmering.  Add a couple tablespoons of the gravy mix to thicken the soup as desired.   Serve with a nice crusty bread.