5 posts categorized "Recipes - Vegetarian"

Sorry Mama, I Don't Eat Animals

August 15, 2011

DSC_3260 My older son went through a period where he questioned everything before he ate to determine whether or not it was edible in his mind. For example, with shrimp, he wanted to know if it had a head and legs. The questioning stopped within a few weeks and even though he does not shrimp, he does eat meat. When my 6 six year old declared, "I don't eat animals" I thought it was a phase. That was over 10 months ago. The reality is that we are a family of omnivores except for our vegetarian 6 year old. Cooking for my vegetarian wouldn't be nearly as challenging except he has some strong dislikes - tofu, beans, and egg yolk. Yikes, this has made mealtime challenging, making one meal that the entire family can eat.  I have tried to make at least one or two vegetarian meals a week but I am lacking in creativity. Our vegetarian meals consist of spaghetti, pesto pasta or fried rice with at least 4 different vegetables. Another favorite is teriyaki veggies and rice; and the rest of the family will get chicken. I need your help. What are some of your favorite vegetarian recipes? Also, how can I ensure that he is eating enough protein?

What we learned in a cooking lesson: Soup every way

March 07, 2010

A nice mama took me up on my offer from the post about Jamie Oliver, and came over Thursday for a cooking lesson. While I'd quizzed her on likes and dislikes before she came (no mushrooms, she said, and her husband wasn't an onion fan), we hadn't really talked about what she wanted to learn. "I feel overwhelmed," she said, with a 14-month-old in the kitchen and a tight budget. "How do people just always have what they need on hand?"

We quickly realized that she didn't need help figuring out how to dice and peel and saute: she needed to be released from the stress of a recipe. She's one of those people (on the other end of the spectrum of home cooks than I) who must absolutely put two teaspoons of thyme into a recipe if it calls for two teaspoons of thyme, and if she can't find thyme or if it's very expensive or if she gets home and realizes she has, after all, no balsamic vinegar (just cider), or whatever: she panics.

What she needed, I said, was to cook without a recipe at all. Just a process. That would save her from the planning, list-making, recipe-checking, budget-busting stress. She could just buy whatever she saw that was in season and inexpensive (or whatever was growing in her garden, arrived in her CSA box, or her mom had given her), and use the process to make it fit.

We made one thing: a cabbage black bean chili, in which I used the beans from the recipe I included in the first post, and I stressed throughout our time that weren't going to talk about quantities or requirements, just procedures, categories and maximums, and ways she could fit this process into her own family's life. One piece of advice I gave her was, I thought, universally useful, and that is to figure out what are your favorite and most versatile spices, and become comfortable enough with them so you'll always know how much to use. Mine are cumin, smoked paprika, dried chiles, cloves, nutmeg and allspice; other good standbys could include ginger, dry mustard, star anise, thyme, dill, cinnamon and cayenne or chipotle pepper. You could only have two or three (cumin and thyme and some sort of pepper, for instance) and still manage to make good food no matter what, I think. Buy the spices in bulk (Limbo has a fantastic fresh spice and herb aisle; many other neighborhoods sport their own super spice sources) and you'll save money and ensure freshness.

Below is the process for bean soup I used. This is an endlessly great way to make soups, and could be vegetarian, vegan, or thoroughly meaty-creamy, depending on which options you picked. The one we made was delicious! And though I'll probably never make it exactly like that again, I'm sure we'll make many more great soups in our day that will best even that.

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Raab is cheap, green and good: Cooking from box, garden, market

April 29, 2009

Ok, I'll 'fess up: I've been casing out overgrown kale plants in my neighborhood, considering knocking on doors to offer my services as a volunteer harvester. The kale, the broccoli, the arugula and collards and brussels sprouts that have overwintered are now going splendiferously to seed. And what's shooting up like green and yellow fireworks is delicious. It's called "raab" or "rapini" or "rapa," and this is not the first time I've sung its praises.


Last weekend at the farmer's market, I asked about the price of some bunches of raab at the Viridian Farms booth. It was only the middle of the day but her veggies were already picked-over; the farm focuses on berries and peppers, so April is a quiet month. "Two dollars," she said. The bunches were huge and my eyes lit up. "No, $1, they're looking pretty limp." I handed over two dollars before she negotiated further (heh), and asked what kind of raab it was. "Arugula."

I always thought I didn't like arugula, but I sauteed one bunch up as soon as I arrived home, relegating to the pantry the booty of two bunches of kale raab and one of brussels sprouts raab ("it's only available this time of year!" the farmer said as another customer considered a bunch, critically -- some varieties, like Italian broccoli, produce raab year-round and are very easy to grow in a NW garden).

Unlike most veggies that can be prepared so many ways, I believe there is one best way to eat raab -- unless of course you have a garden, and you should just nibble straight from the stalk; the not-quite-open florets are the best part, along with the tender new leaves. I call it "raab one way" and I've detailed my method here at Culinate. Once you've cooked it, you can eat it straight, or toss into scrambled eggs or a frittata; with raw, chopped garlic or green garlic, white beans or lentils, and olive oil for a warm salad; as a bed for poached or fried eggs, with hollandaise, if you're the sort of person who makes hollandaise sauce; on a homemade pizza (I think a white pizza or pizza formaggi would be perfect); tossed with pasta (strozzapretti or gemelli would be fun, or fusilli), garlic and some sort of good hard cheese or fresh chevre; or with smokey blue cheese and canned roasted peppers or dried tomatoes.

Raab, more than anything, is a simple spring vegetable, full of newness and tender sweetness, a burst of spring, reminiscent of the plant underneath but mellower, brighter, its winsome little sister. You'll fall in love, like me, and chances are your children will too. (Everett, seeing a pot of sauteed raab on the counter: 'Oooh! Greens!' and makes himself a plate.)

Lowly cabbage goes glamorous: Cooking from box, garden, market

April 03, 2009

Spring is late this year, but everyone still has heavy, wide-eyed piles of one of the original, most thoroughly lowly, peasant foods: the cabbage. I can't believe it took me so long to discover the cabbage. I always treated the bulbous lady so badly, pushing her red fronds aside in college salad bars; eschewing the smarmy cups of coleslaw for her mushy cousin, potatoes and gravy; recoiling in horror from sauerkraut. I hate cabbage, I thought.

Oh me. You were so, so wrong. Or perhaps you were right; that cabbage wasn't loved, not the way my cabbage is now. The first farmer's market of the season I spent the better part of $10 on cabbage, and it's a good bet it will be all eaten within two weeks, and I haven't even made kim chi.

The first, best, most wonderful way to enjoy cabbage is a recipe I adapted from The Paley's Place Cookbook. Trust Vitaly Paley, with his Russian heritage and his local, seasonal mien, to deliver cabbage in its sweetest, truest form. I like savoy cabbage or red cabbage for this; the big heavy pale green heads don't turn as jammy, although sometimes I mix some green in with the red for a play of textures. Here is the recipe for honey-braised cabbage; it also calls for a little bacon fat (or olive oil), an onion and an apple, some vinegar and honey. I serve it with everything; with corned beef or sausages, spooned into lentil or potato soup, heaped into a bowl of pasta, mixed with leftover potatoes and grated beets and lots of fresh garlic for a surprisingly perky fried potato cake. It kind of disappears into soups, even as it adds sweetness, so it's great for kids (yes! mine have now eaten cabbage, and liked it!).

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The one in which we start cooking from the box (and garden)

March 21, 2009

It's time.

Today is the first day of the Portland Farmer's Market for the 2009 season, and chatting with other urbanMamas I discover that lots of you are expecting your first box of food from a CSA sometime in the next several weeks. And there are questions, mostly, what do I do with this? This weird knobby vegetable (if it's huge, it's celeriac; if it's tiny, it's a Jerusalem artichoke; both should be peeled and can be diced and used in soups or gratins); these four heads of cabbage (one for braising, one to chop and put in soups, two for kim chi, of course!); this enormous quantity of kale (rinse well, chop roughly, and put in a large cast iron or stainless steel pot, with several cloves of whacked garlic, a glug of oil or butter or bacon fat, and some salt, cook, stirring often, over medium heat until almost crispy, put in everything or serve alone).


But let me start over. I am here to help you with your quest to cook more vegetables (and the occasional fruit) and figure out what to do with what seems like way too much of something. Also, it would be good if your children ate some, too. Each week (or thereabouts) when I come home from the market I'll write a post about something that's in season and link to some recipes I love, and present a few for you. If you've just received a CSA box or a gardening neighbor's gift, or harvested a bumper crop, of some particular vegetable, leave a comment and I'll try to come up with some great (and easy) ideas. And hopefully I'll have a few sentences of gardening too.

This week, I'm getting a second round of peas planted outside, and a few kinds of onion seed; a bed of lettuce; and hopefully some carrots and potatoes, too. I'll start tomatoes, jalapenos, celery and artichokes inside -- this year I've promised myself I'll use a flourescent light to help them germinate, we'll see if it works out! What are you planting, harvesting, buying, and eating this week? I need to make some of the aforementioned kim chi, so I'll be picking up an extra cabbage or two at the farmer's market, a jar of jalapenos, some carrots, and some collard raab. I love that stuff.