23 December 2008

Walnut muffins

This muffin recipe was largely inspired by some similar ones in Recipes from the Weimar kitchen, and some important constraints on this morning's breakfast. In particular, I had no eggs on hand, nor any milk. This eliminated the usual muffin recipes that call for eggs or dairy. Additionally, I wanted yeast as the leavening. The resulting muffins were pretty good...

Begin by dissolving

2 teaspoons of dried yeast, and
3 tablespoons honey


1-1/4 cups warm water. If this doesn't begin to froth in about 5-10 minutes, the yeast aren't up for the task of raising the muffins... I keep my yeast in the freezer, so sometimes they take a while to warm up. While the yeast are getting warmed up, mix the dry ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour,
1 cup wheat germ, and
1 teaspoon salt.

Cut in

a few teaspoons of olive oil or vegetable shortening, and
1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Then briefly mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Fold in

1/2 cup (or so) of finely chopped walnuts, and

drop into greased a muffin pan. Preheat the oven to 325 deg F, and let the muffins rise for 10 minutes or a little longer. Then, bake for 12 minutes.

02 December 2008

Compost soup

The name was given by Edwin, and in terms of appearance (and texture!) it is quite apt.

Begin by chopping

2 onions,
4 cloves garlic,
1 carrot, and
1 potato.

Heat and fry the above vegetables in some oil and

rosemary, and
1 bay leaf.

Cook until the onions brown. Then add

1 can garbanzo beans,
4 oz. frozen spinach,
1 can diced tomatoes, and
6 cups of water.

Bring to a rapid boil and cook for 20 minutes. Lower the heat and add 8 slices of cubed bread. Serve with grated romano cheese.

19 November 2008

Grains and Glop

So, I actually cooked tonight. As usual, I cook things quickly because I'm hungry. Michael was late getting back from work because of a meeting he went to.

So, for grains, I put in the ricecooker about 25% sorghum, 25% buckwheat, and 50% rice. It was some type of gourmet white rice. I put roughly the normal amount of water I would've if it had been all rice.

For the glop, I put about 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter to melt in the pot, then when it was molten, I added some random amount of whole wheat pastry flour as usual to create a whitesauce. Not having any nonsweetened soymilk tonight, I put some amount of heavy cream into the pot, maybe about a third of a cup. Then, I added some random amount of water, maybe about a third of the way up the pot. I then let that simmer. I added a package of frozen (thawed) peas and a package of griller crumbles, as well as a generous amount of shredded cheddar (maybe 5 ounces?)

Anyhow, that's roughly what it was, and Edwin appreciated it greatly. He was crying quite cranky and didn't want to eat, or so he thought, but I managed to get him to eat one bite and then it was really easy to get him to go to his chair so he could get more..

14 November 2008

Waffles and Eck-spargis (Asparagus)

Dinner was weird tonight... We didn't want a usual dinner, so I made waffles. The Joy of Cooking suggests making waffles with bacon. So I did:

Sift together

1-3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour,
2 teaspoons baking powder,
1/2 teaspoons salt, and
1 tablespoon sugar.

In a separate bowl, beat

3 eggs,
3 tablespoons oil, and
1-1/2 cups soymilk.

Mix the wet and dry items together. Add to the batter

5 slices of fake bacon (diced).

Ladle roughly 1/2 cup amounts into a hot waffle iron.

So that was the waffles. But the amusing part was the asparagus. Bring some salted water to boil. Add

about 16 white asparagus spears

to the boiling water, cover, and cook for 10-12 minutes. While this is cooking, mix

2 tablespoons whole wheat flour,
and enough olive oil to make a thick paste.

Heat briefly, and add

1-1/2 cups soy milk,
salt to taste,
2 tablespoons coarse dijon mustard, and
1 minced sprig of parsley.

Cook over very low heat until thickened. Once the asparagus is cooked, drain it and pour the sauce over it.

This meal was surprising in two ways. First, Edwin usually doesn't like waffles, but he was OK with these. However, the big surprise was the asparagus. Edwin really, really liked the asparagus, and tried to eat it as fast as he could stuff it into his mouth! He calls it "eck-spargis"...

27 October 2008

Buck....wheat for Edwin

This is Edwin's favorite way to have buckwheat. Which he calls "buck......wheat" (with a big pause in between).

Start by preparing about

1/4 lb short pasta.

While this is cooking, chop fine

1 onion
1/2 cup mushrooms

and sautee in olive oil with

1/2 teaspoon salt.

In a mixing bowl, beat

1 egg

and then mix in to it

1 teaspoon dry brewer's extract
1 cup whole buckwheat kasha.

L1et this stand while the onions and mushrooms cook. Once they've browned, mix in the buckwheat mixture and fry for about 1 minute or so. Then add

2 to 2-1/2 cups water

and cover, and increase the heat. Bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring and adding water as necessary to prevent sticking. The mixture will thicken rather quickly (due to the egg), and the kasha will soften. When the grain is cooked, season with salt and pepper and mix in the noodles.

17 September 2008

Vegan eggplant bolognese

This is a variation on the lasagna bolognese recipe in the Silver Spoon, with two main differences. The first is that it is vegan. The second is that instead of pasta, eggplant is used.

Begin by slicing a large eggplant into thin (1/8") slices. Fry each of these (both sides) in a little olive oil. Then fry

1 chopped onion and
1 chopped carrot

in olive oil for a few minutes. Add

2 chopped plum tomatoes,
1 package (12 ounces) of Morningstar griller crumbles
1/4 cup water, and
a dash of black pepper.

Simmer this until the water is absorbed. (Note that the Morningstar griller crumbles are vegan, while Morningstar grillers are typically not.)

In a separate pan, mix

1/4 cup flour (whole wheat pastry is good)
pinch salt

in enough olive oil to make a thin paste. Apply heat and brown the paste slightly (be careful -- this burns very easily), then whisk in

1-1/2 cup soymilk.

Incidentally, the store-brand plain organic soymilk at Genuardi's is very tasty! Cook until sauce thickens.

Heat the oven to 400 deg F. Grease an 8"x8" baking dish and layer the eggplant, meat mixture, and sauce, ending with the sauce. Bake for 30 minutes.

Sorghum, oats, and collards

This is a vegan, low-fat dish which features sorghum a somewhat less-common grain. Begin by rinsing

1/2 cup red sorghum (obtained from a local asian market) and
1/2 cup steel-cut oats (groats)

in cold water for a few changes of water. Then add

2-1/2 cup water

and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook partially covered. The grains will cook into a very thick, syrupy liquid. Be careful to avoid burning it!

To the cooked grains, mix in

1 handfull of roasted peanuts and
1/4 cup soy sauce.

In a small wok, cook

3-4 sprigs chopped fresh cilantro,
5-6 chopped large collard leaves (probably about 8 ounces or so),


1/4 cup lemon juice.

When the collards have cooked enough (they soften, darken in color, and reduce in volume considerably), mix the contents of the wok into the grains.

16 September 2008

Fruits of FORTRAN?

Not a recipe, but... Edwin doesn't say "raspberries" correctly, and it's amusing. At first, he called them "red blackberries", which makes sense since blackberries are his favorite. But now, he's calling them "BLASberries", which is just amusing, though only to me.

06 September 2008

Broccoli raab and pasta

So we're starting to get acclimated to our new home in Philadelphia, at least food-wise. The following simple meal was made from ingredients we bought in town, rather than those we brought with us from Ithaca. It's essentially the recipe "Orrecchiette con broccoli" on page 274 of The Silver Spoon.

Start by bringing a pot of water for the pasta to a boil. While that is heating, fry

1 minced clove garlic (gotten from Farm Fresh Express)

in olive oil. Once browned, add to it

1 chopped plum tomato,
1 diced banana pepper (both from the 9th Street Italian Market),
salt and pepper

and cook for a few minutes. Boil

1 chopped bunch of organic broccoli raab (from Genuardi's, a local grocer)

for about 3 minutes, drain, and add to the skillet. Cook for a few minutes on low heat.

The pasta was obtained from Talluto's in the 9th Street Italian Market, and was a pesto-filled agnolotti, though other pasta would also work fine. Top the pasta with the broccoli raab and grated romano cheese (also from Talluto's).

23 August 2008

Savory veggie pie

As a result of our recent move, I've been unpacking the kitchen. We have a surprising amount of kitchen-related items, some 25 boxes (an underestimate). Looking over all the ingredients inspired this recipe...

Begin making the pie crust, by mixing

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour,
1 cup whole rye flour, and
1/2 teaspoon salt.

Then, cut in

1/3 cup corn oil.

Add 1/4-1/3 cup water and mix into a very crumbly crust. Roll it out, and put into a greased pie pan. Since rye has little gluten (unlike wheat), the crust will remain very crumbly and be somewhat troublesome to handle. Transfer it into the pie pan in pieces, if necessary. The crumbliness will be an asset once the meal is done. Place the crust into the refrigerator and proceed to the filling.

Begin the filling by frying

2 sliced onions,
1 chopped carrot, and
1 teaspoon salt

in some vegetable oil over low heat until the onion softens. Then mix in

3 tablespoons flour

and cook very briefly before adding

1 cup (soy)milk,
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, and
1 tablespoon powdered brewers' yeast extract.

Lower the heat and cook until the mixture thickens. Then add

2 oz. cubed cheddar cheese.

Let the cheese melt, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat, and beat in

2 eggs.

Pour the mixture into the pie crust and bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes afterward.

Serve with a coarse grain, such as buckwheat or cracked wheat.

22 August 2008

Indian soy beans

Soy beans are tasty -- not just in their more usual forms such as tofu, soymilk, or edamame (or in their less-recognized forms like soy lecithin, for that matter). Anyhow, they are also good cooked like the their less-acclaimed "regular" bean cousins. However, they take much longer too cook. If you use a pressure cooker, the cook time is manageable, even quick... This is an eclectic meal I put together from ingredients we had lying around...

Start about 10 hours before the meal is to be cooked by soaking

1-1/2 cup dry soybeans

in room temperature water. (From my tofu-making experiments, I have a lot of soybeans.) I find stirring them occasionally gives a nice feel for how the soaking is going. There's not much need to be really careful about making sure the beans don't soak too long or short.

Once the beans are to be cooked, drain off the soaking water and place the soaked beans in the pressure cooker with

a few tablespoons oil and
cold water to cover -- not more than half the pot.

Pop the top on, and apply heat. When the pressure comes up, pay close attention that the pressure valve doesn't get clogged with foam or bean gunk. If it does, release the pressure immediately (douse with cold water in the sink) and reduce the water level before trying again. In any event, cook the beans at 15 pounds pressure for about 15-20 minutes.

While the beans are cooking, put

1/2 cup cracked wheat
1-1/4 cup water

in a medium saucepan, and boil covered. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook about 10 minutes. Add to the pot

8 oz. chopped spinach (frozen is fine)

and cook briefly.

Finally, fry

1 sliced onion
1 chopped carrot

in olive oil for a few minutes. When the onion is cooked, add

1 diced tomato and
1/4 cup water.

Cook until the carrot is softened slightly (I like reasonably firm carrots), and then combine the contents of the skillet with the saucepan. Add

1/2 packet of Shan vegetable curry mix

(contains salt, red chili, tumeric, fenugreek seeds, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)

mix, and combine with the cooked soybeans.

18 July 2008

Another use for carrot tops

I like carrots. And indeed, I like the tops of them too. They're good for compost, surely, but also nice to munch... But indeed, one can use them in place of parsley in taboule. And if you replace the wheat with quinoa, the result is fast and tasty. For instance, start boiling

1 cup quinoa
2-1/4 cup water

and chop

5 carrot tops

very finely, along with

1 diced tomato.

When the quinoa has finished cooking (about 10 minutes), put it in a strainer and rinse with cold water until cool. Mix the tomato, tops, and quinoa with generous

olive oil
lemon juice

and add salt and pepper to taste.

The resulting dish is somewhat less "sharp" tasting than parsely, and seems less likely to be overdone.

28 May 2008

Pressurized tofu

A pressure cooker makes cooking dried beans much faster. But... Don't be fooled into using one to pressure-soak soybeans for the purpose of making tofu. Something bad happens to the beans, and though the soymilk is tasty (and arrives quickly), it doesn't curdle! It is claimed that pressure cookers can help make tofu from soy flour, but I haven't tried that...

23 May 2008

Donna's chocolate dream pie

This recipe is quite popular among family and friends, and has become somewhat of a signature dessert for Donna.

First, make the crust. Start with

10 New Morning Organic Honey Graham Crackers, ground (1-1/2 cups of pulverized cracker-meal)

Donna notes that this is typically one "sleeve" of crackers. Mix in

1/2 cup powdered sugar,
6 tablespoons (85 grams) melted Earth Balance,
1 teaspoon cinnamon,

and press into a pie pan with another pie pan, building up the sides (less on the bottom) beforehand.

Bake crust 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, cool afterwards (before using)

Now, make the filling... Melt

9 oz (1 package) SunSpire organic chocolate chips

over low heat (a double boiler or microwave is nice). In a separate bowl put

14 oz organic firm Nasoya tofu, drained and mashed with a fork.

Take half of the mashed tofu and add

1 tablespoon honey,
1/4 cup soy milk (sweetened or not),
1/8 cup vanilla syrup (or 1/8 cup water with vanilla extract to taste),

and put into blender. Blend for 15 seconds on high. Add remainder of tofu and all the melted chocolate to blender. Blend at least 2 minutes (longer the better, surely longer than you think, and add liquid as needed to make the blender happy) on the highest setting.

Pour mixture into pie crust, smooth with a spatula, and chill until firm.

Top with raspberries and whipped cream.

Donna notes that this recipe is quite flexible in terms of sizes and amounts of ingredients, and encourages trying other sweeteners, flavorings, etc. Brands have been noted, because this results in a vegan pie.

First harvest of the season!

It's three radishes and 4 oz of spinach! (Truthfully, I had eaten 2 radishes prior to this...) This photo was taken a few days ago, and since then we've had lettuce and more spinach. The garden is indeed growing! Soon the broccoli raab, fennel, and green onions will be ready, and possibly some carrots, too!

Quinoa soup

This recipe is loosely based on what a number of internet sites claim has its roots in the Inca empire. Who knows if that's true, but this is a tasty way to get your quinoa... (And it's not terribly spicy.) Realize that corn, potatoes, and quinoa formed the basis of the traditional South American diet.


1 finely diced onion
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt

in some olive oil. (Of course, right there is Mediterranean influence, in the olive part, but I digress.) To this, add

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 pound cubed potatoes (4-5 medium ones).

Add to this

5-1/2 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano

and bring to a boil. Cover, and let simmer 15 minutes or so. Then add

1 cup chopped greens

and re-cover. Cook for a few minutes more, at least until the potatoes have cooked through. Top with

chopped cilantro

and serve hot.

I should add that I left off a "secret" ingredient that one site claimed was for special guests -- guinea pig!

06 May 2008


We were over at the house of our friends Beth and George last weekend for dinner. After the meal, I was holding Zachary, and noticed a book on their shelf:

William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, The Book of Tofu, Ballantine, 1975.

and started leafing through it. I was being rather noncommittal, but Beth asked if I wanted to borrow it. I said "no", but kept leafing for a while, and eventually changed my mind. Anyhow, it explains in great detail how to make tofu, and many things soybean-related...

To make an admittedly not very long story shorter (it is way past my bedtime), we ended up getting a few pounds of dried soybeans from the grocer. After soaking them while I was off at work (and a bit longer yet -- about 14 hours), I made my first batch of tofu!

In all, I blended

1-1/2 cup dried yellow soybeans (organic, locally produced)

which were soaked in 6 cups of water for 14 hours. These were drained, and then pureed in the blender with

2 cups cold water
2 cups boiling water

in two batches. The puree was added to

7-1/2 cups boiling water.

This was taken off the heat immediately after the puree was added. The mixture was passed through a colander lined with cheesecloth, and the solids reserved (for later, I guess. There are recipes for them...). The liquid raw soymilk was then put back on the stove, and brought to a boil. Once boiling, it was simmered for 7 minutes. At this point, it's drinkable soymilk! (Before this point, the raw soymilk/soybeans aren't suitable for human consumption due to the presence of an enzyme that inhibits protein uptake. Cooking destroys this enzyme.) And indeed, it was tasty soymilk!

At this point, I tried something from the book which didn't work. I added

about 2-3 tablespoons of drippings from damp sea salt

to enough water to make 1 cup. This was supposed to coagulate the soymilk. But it didn't work. So I tried a second mixture

1/4 cup lemon juice mixed with 3/4 cup water

and this worked! (Yes, I just added it to the rest...) There is a fairly delicate procedure where one adds the diluted juice slowly from the bottom up in the soymilk to avoid damaging the curds... I'll leave that part to the book. Anyhow, about 6 minutes later, there were copious curds floating about, and indeed the entire pan was probably a big huge chunk! I carefully transfered the contents to a cheesecloth-lined colander, wrapped them up, and placed them under weights (a large pile of canned beans and tomatoes). The pressing lasted about 15 minutes, while I cleaned up the kitchen. I cleaned one of the sink basins, and filled it with cold water. Carefully removing the weights, and sliding the works into the cold water, I was able to unwrap the now solidified block of tofu under water. I cut it into four smaller pieces, and the result is what you see! Freshness (and lateness of the hour) being what it is, this was possibly the best tofu I've tasted!

28 April 2008

Broccoli Raab and Triticale (Take 1)

I love cooking with wine... Sometimes I even put it in the food!

This recipe is an instance of the latter... The end result is not too bad, but perhaps a little unexciting. A tasty, simple meal, though. Begin by mincing

4-6 cloves garlic

and cooking in oil. Once beginning to brown, add

1 sliced onion.

Once the onion softens, add your favorite

sliced fake meat.

I used something called "FriChick" by Worthington. Once that's begun to brown slightly, add

1 sliced tomato
1/4 cup dry white wine
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
black pepper
1 generous bunch of broccoli raab (leaves included, stems excluded).

The latter is essential. Somewhere I read that all young men should learn to cook broccoli raab, since women really enjoy it. True to form, Donna does :) Let this simmer, and bring

1-1/2 cup rolled whole triticale
3 cups water

to a boil, and cook until it thickens, like oatmeal. Donna suggests adding/substituting some rice. Anyhow, I like the rather earthy taste of triticale, but perhaps it is a bit overpowering. For those not in the know, triticale is a cross between rye and wheat, which features the cold-tolerance (and taste) of rye with the higher nutritional content of wheat.

08 April 2008

Millet and sausage casserole

This is an idea from the Joy of Cooking, but done in a different style...


2 cups water
1/2 cup millet
1/2 cup "green" rice (though any rice will do)

to a boil, and simmer covered until fully cooked. A rice cooker is handy for this step.

Prepare a white sauce: whisk together

3 tablespoons flour

and enough olive oil to make a smooth paste. Heat briefly, until it begins to simmer, and then whisk in

1-1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch nutmeg.

Cook over low heat, whisking frequently to prevent burns. While this is occuring, fry

3 minced cloves garlic
3 minced sage leaves
1 minced sprig thyme
2 minced rosemary leaves

in olive oil on a separate skillet. After the garlic begins to brown, add

1 sliced onion
2 Tofurky "Italian" sausages, cut into coins

and fry until the onions brown. Then add

8 oz frozen spinach
4 oz frozen broccoli

and defrost in the skillet.

Once the grains are cooked, the sauce has congealed, and the greens have defrosted, combine in a mixing bowl. Add the mixture to a greased, lidded casserole dish and bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.

QTB (Quinoa Tomatos and Beans)

This is a free combination of some standard New World ingredients. You can vary the spice level fairly easily, but the fried whole spices give it a nice punch. The entire meal can be prepared in the time that it takes quinoa to cook -- about 15-20 minutes.


1 cup dry quinoa
2-1/4 cups water

and boil covered until water is absorbed. In a separate skillet, fry

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seed
6-10 black peppercorns

in olive oil until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Then add

2-3 minced cloves garlic

and brown. Add

1 sliced onion.

When the onion has softened, add

1 can diced tomatoes (Donna prefers that these be "fire roasted tomatoes")
1 can garbanzo beans (rinsed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili powder

and simmer until the quinoa has finished cooking. Combine the tomato and bean mixture with the quinoa and serve.

12 March 2008

An (almost) vegan "pot pie"

This meal is almost vegan in the sense that it optionally includes a little heavy cream -- you could easily swap it out for something else. It is stylistically a pot pie, though it's neither a pie, nor is it baked. Oh well. It is tasty.

Begin by bringing

4 cups water
3/4 cup dry brown lentils
1/3 cup dry white beans
1/2 teaspoon salt

to a simmer. Simmer covered while you proceed with the rest of the recipe. (Don't let the beans burn!) Next, prepare a batch of biscuits. I loosely follow my mother's biscuit recipe, which requires you to mix

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt

and then add

1/2 cup olive oil
2/3 cup unsweetened soy milk

at once. Knead into a stiff, but easy-to-handle dough with about 10-12 strokes. Roll to about 1/2 inch thick sheets, and cut with a drinking glass into circles. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 10-12 minutes at 450 degrees F. I usually get about 15 biscuits from this recipe.

Now, while the biscuits and beans are cooking, mince

2 cloves garlic
5-6 leaves of sage
1 spring of thyme
2 leaves of rosemary
1 onion
1/2 teaspoon salt

and fry in olive oil. Add to this

1/2 pound frozen Morningstar griller recipe crumbles (vegan ground beef subsitute)
1 teaspoon paprika
1-2 tablespoons parsley
1/4 cup water

and cook for a few minutes -- at least until the meat is defrosted.
Now, to prepare the gravy! Put

1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon dry brewers' yeast extract
1-2 teaspoons brewers' yeast paste ("vegemite")
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

in a small sausepan. Blend with enough olive oil to form a loose paste. Apply low heat until the paste simmers, and then add

2 cups water

and beat with a whisk until the paste is dissolved. Cook until thickened, and then swirl in

a dash of heavy cream.

Once the beans are done, mix them with the ground meat. Then pour the mixture into a 8"x8" baking dish, add a layer of gravy, and then top with the biscuits. Serve alongside the remaining gravy and biscuits.

09 March 2008

Hospital Pie

Our new baby, Zachary Ignatius Robinson was born on Thursday, 6 March 2008 at 7:31 pm at Schuyler Hospital. As it happens, the birth (which started some 50+ hours beforehand) and the subsequent hospital stay was a positive, uplifting experience. But, the hospital food was awful. So awful that when I went to get Edwin, I brought back a stash of frozen meals. But the last meal they served us, as a special send-off, was at least edible. It was essentially diner-quality food, which was an improvement. The dessert, though, was very amusing. It was a peanut-butter cream pie (a la SYSCO), garnished with raspberries, a very generous amount of whipped cream, an orange wedge, and a spinach leaf! Wierd. Donna described it as a "hick's attempt at being gourmet."

26 February 2008

Curried squash crepes

Although this was Donna's idea for breakfast at one point, it serves equally well as a light dinner. It is a savory crepe recipe.

Begin by sauteeing

1 sliced onion

in corn oil. When it is softened, add

3 summer squashes cut into batons.

(A mix of 1 zuchinni and 2 yellow squashes is nicely colorful.) While the squash is cooking, put

3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

in a small saucepan. Whisk in enough oil to "dissolve" the dry ingredients. Heat to a very low simmer, whisking constantly. After about 30 seconds, whisk in

1-1/2 cup soy milk.

Either unsweetened or plain soymilk works best, though vanilla works in a pinch. You might want to add a little more salt in that case, though. Whisk frequently until the sauce thickens, which should be about 5 minutes or so. Let the sauce cook gently for a few more minutes, and then pour it into the squash. Stir well to coat the squash in the sauce, then remove from the heat and set aside.

Now to produce the crepe shells! Put

1/2 cup flour (spring whole wheat is nice)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

into a small mixing bowl, and stir. Add

1 cup milk or soymilk
4 eggs

and beat with a whisk until smooth. There are rumors that too much mixing will cause stiffness, but I've never had an issue with this. Heat a skillet greased with spray oil. Setting the temperature takes practice, and it is not easy to describe my procedure for it. I have found that a well-seasoned cast iron skillet helps stabilize and distribute the heat and is almost essential. (I have done OK with a stainless steel frypan and an electric stove, though this requires more adjustments to the heat. Indeed, one of the nicest things about a cast iron skillet is that the pan doesn't overheat after you've removed a crepe.) Once the temperature is to your liking, add

3/16 cup of the batter to the pan (use roughly 3/4 of a 1/4 cup measuring cup),

and swirl the skillet to spread the batter into a disk about 5-6 inches in diameter. If you're worried about the temperature, it's better to start out too cold and set the temperature with the first crepe. Determining when to flip the crepe is also something requires practice. I wait at least until bubbles form and remain, and the upper surface appears to have just finished "drying". If your skillet is light enough, you can try to flip the crepe in the air -- I don't, since cast iron is way too heavy! A regular spatula works fine, though. Once the crepe is done, scoop it off to a warm dish (perhaps in the oven on "warm"), and re-grease the skillet.

This recipe makes 12 crepes and enough filling to fill them nicely. It's enough for a light meal for two people.

22 February 2008

Thai Soup

This was just a first attempt at some Thai-like soup tonight, but it was fine as a first run. It contained two cans of coconut milk, 7 chopped carrots, a red onion, about a quarter of a head of red cabbage, 5 or 6 cloves of garlic, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t ginger powder (next time, we'll use fresh), 3 T soy sauce, 1/4 c lemon juice, and about 1-1/2 t red Thai curry paste. I threw in some frozen broccoli and cauliflower as well. There were also about 3 stalks of celery.

20 February 2008

Root soup with millet gnocchi

This is an odd combination.

It starts with a rather plain vegetable soup... Put some oil in a soup pot and

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds,
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns,
1 bay leaf.

Cook these over low heat until they darken. (By the way, this is a usual Indian cooking stunt -- fry the spices first...) Slice and sautee

2 onions and
1 teaspoon salt

in with the spices. Cook over low heat until slightly browned. Dice and add your favorite roots, for instance

1 potato,
2 turnips, and
1 parsnip.

Fry these for a while, then add

6 cups water,
1 teaspoon brewer's yeast extract, and
1 teaspoon paprika.

Cover and simmer until the vegetables soften.

Now you can get down to the business of making the pasta. I happened to open the cabinet while making this soup and saw that we had millet. Millet is a rather interesting grain, one that allows you to control its texture from a coarse grittiness (like corn meal) to a velvety smoothness. On the other hand, since it has no gluten, it's not very good for making pasta. At least, I wasn't about to try this evening. On the other hand, it can be used to lighten a wheat pasta in the form of gnocchi... Since I was in a mixing mood, I also decided that amaranth should also play a role, though I'm not sure what role it plays... (And you thought gnocchi requires potatoes... Look at The Silver Spoon some time -- there are 18 recipes for gnocchi, 10 of which do not contain potatoes!) Even better, gnocchi are easy!

Grind (blender, spice grinder, mortar and pestle, whatever works; a food processor does not)

1/2 cup mixed millet and amaranth seeds in roughly a 2:1 ratio.

add this to

2 cups boiling water,

and cook until most of the gritty texture of the millet is gone. (I like a little millet-grittiness, though Donna apparently does not.) You will want to stir this frequently as it is rather thick and will burn otherwise. Take the millet off the heat, cool slightly, and mix in

1/2 cup semolina flour and
1 egg.

At this point, the mixture should be sticky, and rather like smooth mashed potatoes. (That's the idea, anyhow.) Slowly work in

3/4 to 1 cup all purpose flour,
a pinch of salt,

and turn onto the counter. Knead into a smooth dough. Gnocchi dough feels almost like a soft downy pillow -- very unlike the usual stiff pasta dough. There is no need to be particularly rough in kneading, so don't add too much flour, lest you spoil the softness... Divide the dough into quarters, and roll each into a tube about 1/3" to 1/2" diameter. Slice into stubby pillows with a floured knife, and queue them on a floured dishtowel.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, and add the gnocchi, a few at a time to the water. They float to the surface (and stay there) when fully cooked, which makes them easy to remove with a slotted spoon.

I added about half of the gnocchi to the soup (sort of like dumplings), and put the other half in the fridge for later. This soup is rather plain, so pass the grated parmesan/romano cheese and salt/pepper (whichever is your particular vice, mine is for the later of each).

Donna notes that the gnocchi contrast strongly with the soup, suggesting that some cheese or bits of one's favorite protein be added to the dough. Indeed, The Silver Spoon often suggests such things. However, I'm suspicious, seeing as after finishing a bowl of soup, she went and made herself a quesadilla in the microwave.

A (perhaps too rich) curry sauce

This is overkill, but it is tasty.

Blend in a small saucepan

3 tablespoons corn oil and
2 tablespoons flour.

I used spring wheat (so called "white" whole wheat), which gives a nice earthy undertone. Apply gentle heat until the mixture starts to sizzle. Whisking constantly, add

1-1/2 cups unsweetened soymilk,
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce,
1 teaspoon salt,
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (that's plenty),
2 tablespoons curry masala (normal "yellow" curry powder),
1-1/2 teaspoons peanut butter.

Use natural, unsweetened peanut butter. The distinguishing feature of the curry powder is that the primary ingredient is tumeric. Stir frequently, especially after the sauce thickens, and cook for 5-10 minutes. I added some water (about 1/4 cup or so) to loosen the sauce partway through.

Vegan stew with "oatballs"

When there are root vegetables to be had, this is one way to have them...

Start by slicing

3 onions,
olive oil,
1 teaspoon salt,

and sauteeing them in a large soup pot over very low heat (cast iron is best) until a rich brown. This takes a minimum of 10 minutes. Be patient. But while you're being patient, cube and fry the roots: (freely vary)

2 large turnips,
1 rutabaga,
1 potato,
2 parsnips.

Once they've fried for a while (no need to brown), cover with

6 cups water,
2 teaspoons brewer's yeast extract
bunch of chopped fresh parsley.

Bring to a boil, and simmer.

While these two pots are cooking, prepare the oatballs. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Bring to a boil:

1 cup water,
1/3 cup minced pine nuts,
chopped fresh basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme,
1/4 cup soy sauce,
1 teaspoon brewer's yeast extract,

and then add

1 cup oats.

The oat mixture should have the texture of a thick paste. Take it off the heat as soon as the oats thicken. Cool it off briefly in the fridge, so you can handle it safely. Grease a cookie sheet and your hands. Roll the oat mixture into 1/2" to 3/4" balls and place on the cookie sheet. Place in the oven and bake 30 minutes.

While the oatballs are baking, return to the veggies. By now, the onions should be done. Add the other vegetables and their broth to the onions. Once the vegetables are fairly soft, mash them coarsely with a potato masher (over the heat, if you dare!). Let the stew simmer gently until the oatballs finish baking.

Now for the critical part, for which you must wait for the diners. Immediately before serving, remove the oatballs from the oven and add to the stew. They soften very quickly. You may wish to instruct the diners to add their own oatballs to prevent undue disintegration...