Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Zucchni Bake

When I think of Summer many things come to mind. Such as the smell of sunscreen and the feel of sand between your toes. The sight of bathing suits and beach towels hanging to dry in the backyard. Cherries, peaches and watermelon. And after a long day at the beach or lounging in a chair with the latest summer read you have ample time to think about what's for dinner. This is the time of year to splurge on local fruits and vegetables because they are guaranteed to taste so much better than those coming from Mexico and California. Tomatoes and zucchini are two veggies we have been eating a lot of lately.

This is one of the zucchini recipes I have tried out recently. You can serve it as a main dish like I did or as a side dish. If you are going to serve this as a main you will want to include some artisan bread and a salad or some sliced tomatoes on the side. I made my own mix of cheeses by grating up a mixture of Parmesan, Mozzarella and Havarti. I also used fresh garlic in place of the garlic powder.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hamburger Cupcakes and Shortbread Fries

How cool are these cupcakes? A few weeks back we hosted a birthday party for our friend Stu. We were advised to expect 10-12 people at the most. Which is why we were quite surprised when we had about 16 guests show up! I think there was a point in the evening where we all formed a standing circle around our modest basement suite.

It turned out to be the perfect backyard pot luck with quite an array of summer foods ranging from ample trays of fresh veggies and fruits (including watermelon), pasta salad, cornbread, chips and dip, meatballs and sausage rolls among many other dishes. Last but not least were the hamburger cupcakes and shortbread fries that Stu's loving wife Rachel laboriously created.

A game of bocce ball followed by the near destruction of a neighborhood tree (there may or may not have been a few monkeys trying to free a lost Frisbee) it went off without a hitch. This was certainly one party where one could say "more the merrier" was in fact the most truthful way to sum up the evening. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Roasted Yam and Red Lentil Curry Soup

This soup started off as an idea and quickly morphed into a really great recipe. I think I changed direction about three times while making this soup. I realized that one yam was not going to make a very substantial recipe so I decided to add one cup of red lentils simply because that's all I could think of at the time. I'm glad I did however as it turned out really good in the end.

Work has been very busy for me lately so Mike has stepped up to act as head chef in our kitchen for the past couple of weeks. I would have overdosed on grilled cheese sandwiches if it weren't for him. During this time, I have witnessed Mike doing some very comical things that I absolutely must share with you! I wish I had some of these moments on video:

Recap 1) Mike is broiling bread on parchment paper, bread is still not browning so Mike takes things into his own hands... Mike is holding pan closer to broiler... parchment catches fire! Lyndsay can't stop giggling because Mike is now blowing out flames!

Recap 2) Lyndsay and Mike are planning on making a quick puff pastry tart with roasted tomatoes and goat cheese....Mike notices puff pastry is frozen in freezer... he quickly finds a solution when spotting a notation on the box which states that you can defrost in microwave for 2 minutes on low...Mike forgets to change temp to low an instead of defrosting he actually melts the dough...Lyndsay having a giggle fit but trying to be supportive at the same time.... Mike on his way out the door to buy more puff pastry!

Recap 3) Mike is making no stir risotto. He has read about this concept in "Cooks Illustrated" and wants to wow Lyndsay with this new revelation! Mike has everything in place and everything seems to be going well. He has now added the liquid to the arborio rice, stirred once as directed and covered with lid. Mike is now sitting down with Lyndsay filling her in on how he is about to wow her with this very simple risotto recipe in hopes that she will never have to complain again about the labors of making risotto... Lyndsay notes that something is burning... Mike also notices this.... Mike checks on risotto which appears to be burning to the bottom of the pan... so much for no stirring! *I must note that this turned out to be one of the best risottos I have ever had, I think Mike just needed to turn the heat down as he was using a dutch oven.

  • 1 large yam, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • fresh ground salt and pepper
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 apple, cored and diced
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1.2 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  1. Toss diced yam and garlic cloves with a enough olive oil to coat and pour into a large roasting pan. Sprinkle lightly with fresh ground salt and pepper. Bake at 400° until fork tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven, saute onion and celery in 1 tablespoon of butter until the onion begins to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes (use medium heat otherwise you will burn the onion instead of caramelizing). Add the diced apple during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  3. Stir in curry powder, coriander, turmeric, cumin and lentils and cook stirring constantly for one minute. Scrape in yam and any bits stuck to the roasting pan and immediately pour in broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes.
  4. Puree soup with a hand held blender. I would also recommend straining this soup through a fine mesh strainer or by using a food mill as I did. Add water if the consistency of your soup is too thick and salt to taste.
  5. Serve soup with Naan bread and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Note: This soup would also be nice with the addition of coconut milk.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Barley Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Well friends, I have been revisiting quite a few of my favorite recipes recently so have not had too many new ideas to post. However I did try out this new cabbage roll recipe that I was able to spice up and turn into a recipe worth keeping.

I don’t come across too many recipes that require pot barley so I was eager to see how this would turn out. I might suggest adding some grated carrot or replacing the scallions with a diced medium onion to increase the flavor. Also if you do not partially drain the tomatoes you are going to have a soupy mess like I did!

The easiest method I have found for removing cabbage leaves is to cut out the butt of the cabbage and to steam the head in boiling water and gently remove each leave with a pair of tongs.

  • 12 medium cabbage leaves
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups canned diced tomatoes, partially drained
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano and basil
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • fresh ground salt and pepper
  1. Bring the measured water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the barley, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°. Place two cups of tomatoes, garlic, 1tbsp parsley, vinegar, oregano and basil into a food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp grapeseed oil in a large frying pan. Add the zucchini and the remaining parsley and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Add the scallions and cook briefly, then add the tomato puree mixture. Cook until heated through.
  4. Add the cooked barley to the tomato and zucchini mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  5. Lightly brush a baking dish with oil. Place a few teaspoons of cottage cheese onto a cabbage leaf followed by a spoonful of the barley mixture and finish off with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. Tuck in sides and roll up and place seam down in baking dish. Repeat with remaining cabbage leaves.
  6. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the cabbage rolls and pour remaining tomatoes on top and sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gluten-free Brownies

I have a perfectly good excuse for not posting my Valentines dessert on Valentine’s Day! Instead of a romantic dinner with our boyfriends my friend and I treated each other to the “Death by Chocolate” buffet at the Bengal Lounge. Which was absolutely out of this world amazing! I believe I fell into a sugar comma last night and am happy to report that I somehow managed to wake up this morning. Imagine the most decadent, gourmet chocolate desserts with the highest quality ingredients from around the world and you will be where I was last night!

Speaking of decadent chocolate desserts....these brownies are to die for! These are pretty much the best brownies I have ever had. They have a fudgy melt in your mouth consistency that is sure to please your friends especially those with gluten allergies. If you were serving these as an after dinner dessert you could dress them up with a drizzle of berry compote and a scoop of vanilla gelato. You would be crazy not to make these!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Meat and Potatoes

I am often asked If I ever crave meat or more specifically a nice, juicy steak. The answer to that question is YES! I know I might be looked down upon in the vegetarian community for saying this but I feel that life is too short to deprive yourself from what your body is asking for. My blog is based on the premise that anyone and everyone can cook vegetarian dishes on a daily basis. You don't need to have a vegetarian friend show up for dinner to finally embrace a meal without meat. I think that incorporating more vegetarian dishes into your week not only makes for a healthier lifestyle but a healthier planet. Since I have embraced vegetarian cooking I find myself craving meat less and craving some of my favorite vegetarian recipes more and more often. With that said I will admit that when I can't seem to get steak of my mind I will go ahead and eat that steak (feel bad about it) and carry on with life! I consider myself to be mostly vegetarian since 93% of the food I eat does not include meat.

I titled this post "Meat and Potatoes" because that's exactly what this dish poses as. The patties are actually chickpea patties from my favorite cookbook "Veganomicon" drizzled with an outstanding mushroom gravy which I have provided below and completed with a side of parmesan garlic roasted potatoes. I recommend baking not frying the patties as I have tried both methods and find the baked version to be far better then the fried.

Mushroom Gravy
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • pinch of freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp cooking sherry
  1. Mix the flour into the broth until dissolved and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp grapeseed oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Sauté shallot in frying pan, until translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender.
  4. Add the garlic, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and sauté for another minute.
  5. Deglaze the pan with sherry and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. 
  6. Stir in broth and turn down heat to medium and cook until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rustic Tomato Tarts

These tarts are addictive! We were first treated to these tarts by our good friends Rachel and Stu who always impress us with super yummy vegetarian dishes. This is yet another recipe from the "White Water Cooks - At Home" by Shelley Adams so you will have to borrow or purchase the recipe book to try out this recipe. I will however reveal that this recipe includes tomatoes, goat cheese, fresh basil and Parmesan on a tart that is by no means healthy - consisting largely of butter, sour cream, flour and cornmeal for an added crunch factor. But oh so yummy!

I highly recommend this recipe if you are looking for an impressive but easy appetizer or paired with a mixed green salad and a chilled glass of your favorite white wine! Now that asparagus is coming into season I am committed to trying this tart with asparagus and fontina as recommended by Shelley.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Chestnut Stew

This one is for you Frank!

I finally got around to making this recipe. I have been eying it up for quite some time. I have never found vegetable stews to be very gratifying but this one intrigued me because I figured the chestnuts would be the missing ingredient. Turns out I was right! I am happy to report that my first experience with chestnuts has been a positive one. They have a really nice texture and a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that perfectly complements root vegetables.

Next time I make this stew however I intend to pump up the vegetables and flavor by adding some parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery and perhaps a splash of Worcestershire or at the very least soy sauce to pump up the umami flavor. The addition of the roasted garlic is a must.