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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Amazing Vegetarian (Mostly Vegan) Thanksgiving Food

OK, it's way early for Thanksgiving, and given the heat around here I'm not even thinking about turning on the oven. But it's nonetheless worth reminding Isobel about these dishes, which we made for Thanksgiving last year. They're due to Bryant Terry, who seems to have made it his life's work to create incredible vegan food.
  • Holiday Seitan Roast
    It's possible to make this with store-bought seitan, and if your local store carries seitan from The Bridge that might even be acceptable. (Their tofu is the best I have ever had. I basically don't buy anyone else's tofu.) But Terry's recipe for Homemade Seitan is really easy, and it is really, really good, too. So make it.
  • Honeyed Sweet Potatoes
    OMG! These are so yummy!
Here's Terry's wonderful version of the southern classic Smothered Pork Chops.
That recipe, and many other amazing ones, can be found in Terry's book Vegan Soul Kitchen. I heartily recommend it, as well as his other books.

While we're at it, let me throw out this vegetarian version of shepherd's pie, which we also made last winter. It's really, really good. I found the recipe at the Vegetarian Times website, but it seems as if it may originally have been due to Annie Somerville, the chef at the famous Greens Restaurant in San Francisco There's a companion recipe for Parmesan Mashed Potatoes that I haven't tried yet, but will.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Linguine with Crudaiola (Uncooked Tomato Sauce)

This recipe came from Bon Appetit, but it never seems to have made it to Epicurious. The sauce needs to marinate at least half an hour, and longer if you have the time. So make that ahead. There's almost nothing to be done after that, so this is a good dish for serving to friends, with salad and crusty bread, as a simple but yummy supper.

  • 1 3/4 pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped
    Since these are not going to be cooked, try to get them as fresh and firm as you can.
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
    This seems to be about 2 ounces of basil, which is a lot. Buy a four ounce container, if you can find one, instead of two one-ounce ones (which may well cost more), and use the rest for something else.
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
    The right way to do this is to heat a small, heavy skillet until it's good and hot and then put in the pine nuts and stir them until they're browned a bit. (Test it by flicking water off your fingers. When the water jumps and spits, it's ready.) The nuts will toast very quickly this way, and you won't be as likely to burn them.
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or pressed)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound linguine
    The original recipe called for taglierini, but I've never seen it
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl and marinate in the fridge for at least half an hour and as long as three hours.
Cook the pasta until it's almost done and definitely still firm. (It will cook a bit more later.) Reserving a cup of the liquid, drain the pasta, but don't shake it dry. Put the pasta back in the pot, add the sauce, and turn the heat back up to medium-high. Toss until the sauce is heated through and it coats the pasta, adding water as needed, in small amounts, to keep everything moist. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, tossing to blend, and add a little more water, if need be. Check the seasoning and serve with additional cheese.

Lasagnas for Isobel

Two 'fancy' lasagnas.
  • Mixed Mushroom Lasagna with Parmesan Sauce
    A really good lasagna that's fairly easy to make. Most of the work goes into slicing a pound and a half of mushrooms, and then cleaning up the pan that you made the parmesan sauce in.
    I usually use some shiitakes in this, and I've used some wood-ears, too, when I can get them, which gives a really nice flavor.
  • Artichoke and Mushroom Lasagna
    A holiday staple for us, and always a crowd-pleaser. Just very different from your typical lasagna.
    I often use grated mozarella, purchased just that way, instead of the sliced stuff. Slicing mozarella is a PITA. And I usually use crimini mushrooms, though baby bellas also work, and you can get even more adventurous if you want.
Both these recipes call for no-boil lasagna noodles, and they can be made that way, but I have decided in recent years not to use those ever. They never come out right. So I just use regular lasagna noodles or, better yet, fresh ones.

More Recipes for Isobel

Non-pasta recipes now, most but not all from Epicurious, again.
  • Risotto with Peas and Porcini
    We got this one from Whole Foods a while ago. It's apparently also been published in Fine Cooking. We make it with vegetable stock. You can also use almost any kind of dried mushroom, obviously.
  • Vegetable Moussaka
    A vegetarian version of the Greek classic. It takes a long time to make it, and it generally leaves a huge mess in its wake, but it is very delicious, and you can eat it for days.
  • Scallops with Mashed Potatos and Tarragon Sauce
    This has an almost perfect rating on Epicurious, and that is not surprising. This is one of the best things I've ever made, and it's easy and fast, as well. I've used half and half a couple times, just to lighten the sauce a bit, but it's not that heavy, anyway.
  • Scallops with Melted Leeks and Tarragon-Caper Butter
    Not quite as good as the other one, but almost. The fresh thyme sprigs are not crucial, if you don't have them.
  • Sole Meuniere
    Classic French dish. There are a lot of recipes for this online. They're all minor variations on each other. Be warned it makes a huge mess, but it's great.
  • Sole with Orange Brown Butter
    A variant on Sole Meuniere, with a bit of orange as well as lemon.
  • Yukon Gold Potato and Chive Soup
    We have a ton of chives in our yard so are always looking for something to do with them. This simple, fast soup is one of our favorite choices.
  • Grilled Tuna Burgers with Homemade Remoulade
    The remoulade here is the crucial thing. The recipe calls just for tuna steaks grilled and put on a bun. Frozen tuna steaks are just fine for this purpose, and a lot cheaper than the fresh stuff. But you can really use it with any sort of fish burger. 
  • Grilled Three Potato Salad
    This goes with the previous recipe, but can of course be made on its own, as well. It's a really great potato salad that looks impressive, too, with sweet potatos, golden potatos, and purple potatos. You can use whatever mix of potatos you want, really—it's often hard to find purple potatos that aren't expensive—but the key is to get them cooked way ahead of time so they have plenty of time to cool. As with any potato salad, you have to get them cooked just right, too, so they don't disintegrate. Better a little bit underdone than overdone.
  • Bulgur Salad with Feta and Mint
    Very simple salad that lets us use some of our mint.

Bulgur Salad with Avocado, Cucumber, and Mint

We have a lot of mint that grows in our yard, so I try to use at least some of it in something other than tea. There are all sorts of variations on tabouleh that work. This one came from the Top of the Apple blog. I'm re-posting it here, in case that should disappear.

  • 2 cups veggie stock
    We generally make this with the Better than Bullion mix
  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1+3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup minced red onion
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 large avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup chopped mint
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (Meyer if you’ve got ’em)
  • Salt and pepper

In a small sauce pot, bring stock to a boil. Add bulgur and simmer until water is absorbed, about 8 minutes. Put in large bowl and fluff with fork. In same pot over medium-high heat, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add onions and sugar; cook until fragrant and glossy, about 2 minutes. Add to bulgur. Add all the remaining ingredients, including the 3 teaspoons of oil, to the bowl and toss gently to combine. Season to taste.

More Pata Recipes for Isobel

A bunch of pasta recipes from Bon Appetit that we've made over the years.
  • Penne with Roasted Tomato Sauce, Orange, and Olives
    One of those things that sounds like a weird combination, but works. It's not the best thing I've had, but it's pretty good, and a nice change of pace from more typical summer pastas. I often make it on the grill.
  • Pasta with Tomatos, Artichokes, and Feta
    One of Isobel's favorite recipes when she was little. Very simple, and delicious.
  • Pasta with Spicy Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce
    Fairly rich cream sauce: It uses a cup of heavy cream. You can make it a little more special by roasting the red peppers instead of using jarred ones.
  • Pasta with Arugula and Plum Tomatos
    Not a high rating on Epicurious, but maybe you have to love arugula to get into this dish. If you do, as I do, it's fantastic, and really fast. Of course we use vegetarian stock.
    The trick here is to get the timing right. You want the pasta to be ready at more or less the very moment it's time for it to go into the pan with the sauce. If you start it right when you start the sauce, you should be close. If it's done too early, drain it, and put just a little bit of olive oil on it to keep it from sticking. If it's not quite done when the sauce is, then turn the sauce off until the pasta is ready. You don't want to overcook the arugula.
  • Linguine with Sausage, Mushroom, and Cream Sauce
    Another rich one. We usually make it with vegetarian Italian sausages from Field Roast, which are incredibly good and have the right sort of texture for this dish.
  • Fettucine with Porcini Mushroom Sauce
    Another simple cream sauce. Very fast, and very good. (Again, we make it with vegetarian stock.)
  • Farfalle with Forest Mushrooms, Peas, and Parsley
    Another cream sauce. The peas add a really nice texture, and a different sort of flavor than you get in most such dishes. The recipe calls for 12 ounces each of shiitake, crimini, and chanterelle mushrooms, but it's often hard to get the latter, and they're really expensive when you can get them. I often make it with a pound of shiitakes and a pound of criminis (or baby bellas, if you can't get those). But you can really use almost any mix of wild-ish mushrooms you want.
  • Angel Hair Pasta with Peas, Prosciutto, and Lemon
    A cream sauce, again. (Hmm, I see a pattern.) I actually can't remember what I used in place of the prosciutto. Probably some vegetarian lunch meat. You'll want something substantial.
  • Linguine with Shrimp and Plum Tomatos
    This is really good, but be warned that it makes a ton. You may well want to halve the recipe. (I personally find that shrimp doesn't keep that well, so leftovers of this need to be eaten fast.) You also need a lot of basil for it. The typical one ounce container probably isn't enough, even for half the recipe. So, if you have the option, get a four ounce container (which they usually have at Whole Foods.)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Recipes for Isobel

Our daughter Isobel is living in an apartment this summer in Providence, and so is cooking for herself. When she was home a couple weekends ago, she was looking through some of our recipes, and I told her I'd post some of them here so she didn't have to take pictures of them. So here's the first batch: A bunch of recipes from Bon Appetit.

Greek-Style Noodles

This is a recipe that we adapted from one in the Vegetarian Express Lane Cookbook, by Sara Fritschner. It's a fast and easy summery pasta.


  • 12 ounces pasta
    We prefer capellini (angel hair), but you can use any long, thin pasta
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Small red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup greens of scallions, chopped
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 8 oz feta cheese, crumbled


Heat the oil in a good-sized skillet. (The pasta will be added later.) Add the garlic and onion and cook until starting to soften. Then add the parsley, scallion greens, oregano, lemon, and wine, and cook about two minutes, just to wilt the parsley a bit. Lower the heat to keep this stuff warm, if need be.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta until not quite al dente. (It's best to try to time this so the noodles are done just when the sauce is.) Save about half a cup of the cooking liquid and drain the noodles.
Add the noodles to the sauce. Increase the heat a little bit, and mix the whole thing together. Add half the feta and cook until the sauce becomes just a bit creamy.
Serve the remaining feta alongside the noodles.