Wednesday, January 12, 2011

epic one-pot extravaganza

So the vegan eating is going pretty well, but I was craving mussels and salmon while basking in the hot pools at the spa this weekend. There was much discussion about what I couldn't wait to do once we got home to make a food fantasy into reality. This strikes a chord as to why I think I like cooking so much. There is something amazing about imagining something then making it happen. Dreams come true kind of stuff. Yummy yummy dreams.
My sous-chef cleaned these off very well. The mussels need a good rinse so you can discard any with broken shells and the already opened ones. They're dead. Wow this is so not vegan.

Can't go wrong with some plum tomatoes and sliced garlic.

Threw some chopped celery, onions, fresh basil and oregano and that there is garlic butter. Topped the whole thing with a big glug of white wine and some tomato juice. Covered it and shoved it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Here's what we ate while it cooked:
It was my dinner companion's maiden voyage on the good ship artichoke. He described them as "interesting" a bunch of times. I think he liked them. We steamed them until tender then served them with two dressings: a vinaigrette with port wine vinegar, and melted butter mixed with a teaspoon of lime juice. I love artichokes. What other food gives you more on the plate when you're finished eating than when you began?

Next, we moved on to the salad course. Not just any old salad though. Grilled halloumi salad.

Apparently the trick is to start with a cold pan.

Finally the mussels were done. They had a nice smooth texture from being baked.

Under all those mussels was a glorious mess of fish and veg. Glorious, I tell you!

A meta-blog moment. Brought to you by wine.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

vegan shepherd's pie

I've decided to make a vegan diet my priority for 2011. I figure it'll force me to be more creative in the kitchen, and creativity is always a good thing. Here's hoping that creativity will spill over into other areas of my life.

I wanted the "meat" part of the dish to taste as meaty as possible so I used tourtiere, or meat pie spices in the lentils such as cloves, garlic, cinnamon, and pepper. Overall, I was pretty impressed.

Here's what I used:

-3 handfuls of brown lentils
-1 handful TVP (textured vegetable protein)
-a cube of miso stock
-a squirt of tomato paste
-a squirt of Bragg amino liquid or soy sauce
-bay leaves

To make the lentils, simply throw them in a pot with the stock cube and bay leaves. Cover with a good 2 inches of water and boil away, making sure that they don't dry out. Once they are tender, add the TVP and tomato paste and mix well. Set aside.

Now you want to add veg and bulk to the lentils. I used celery, carrot, garlic, onion, peas and corn, but use whatever you have on hand and chop everything to a similar small size so that everything cooks evenly. I sauteed these ingredients until just tender in some coconut oil, and seasoned with herbes de provence and tourtiere spices.

Cut nice and uniformly.
If you ask me for cooking advice, more often than not, I will tell you to start by frying an onion. I then added the carrot and celery, then combined the veg with the lentil mix.

Meanwhile, you want to get your tater tots going for the top of the pie. I jazzed things up with a sweet potato. Tastes awesome and looks great instead of the plain anemic looking white potato.

These were ready to sprout, thus ready to be cooked.

Boil them suckers up real good. I threw in a few cloves of garlic into the water to add a nice garlicky touch. Once the potatoes are tender, rinse and mash. Don't forget the holy trinity of unsweetened soy milk, coconut oil, and salt.

Layer the bottom half of your casserole dish with the lentils, then spread the potatoes on top. I suppose you could add some parmesan cheese or spices before cooking, but I kept it simple.
Throw that into the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Done!
Mmm extreme closeup.

Tastes great with a wee side of ketchup.

So does anybody read this blog thingy? Do you have ideas you would like me to try in my kitchen? Need advice on a specific recipe or vegetable? Let me know.

Happy eating!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

chili's dead easy

I'm still thinking about food! Don't worry, I haven't starved, it's just that life got in the way there for a bit but 2011 has arrived with my new resolve to continue documenting my food adventures.

Here is an extremely quick, healthy, inexpensive chili that can be made and frozen in batches. In fact, I made this chili a few weeks ago and have been enjoying round two from the freezer today.

The ingredients in question: basically whatever veggies you have on hand will work well. I like to make sure I have corn and peppers in the chili, something about those veggies really scream chili to me. Also key are two onions, not one but two. Trust. Get yourself some chili powder and some cumin powder and you're sure to have a chili-rific time.

Oh look! Opened cans.

Rinse those canned beans well. Otherwise...well, you know the rhyme. Beans beans the musical fruit!

Choppity chop.

Please note that frozen blob is veggie ground beef. No need to add it in unless you've got some already. Mine was languishing in the freezer so in it went.

Unfortunately I probably got distracted at this point in the cooking process to accurately document it, but chili is basically soup. Soften your onions in a good glug of olive oil, then add in the veg and beans, cook until almost tender. Add the canned tomatoes and super secret ingredient: a bottle of beer! Throw in some spoonfuls of chili powder but make sure you know how spicy your chili powder is. Taste it first to check. You'll need a good teaspoon of cumin powder as well. Keep tasting and season with salt.

Always happy days in the kitchen!

And in homage to 2010, here are my top ten food memories of the past year.

10. Making my own quiche.
9. Baking a kick ass b-day cheesecake in a round casserole dish with epic chocolate graham crust. Thanks for your advice, Yoshi!!
8. Nervously preparing mango salad to impress.
7. Discovering, to the detriment of my waistline and vegetarianism, BBQ pork buns.
6. Popcorn with nutritional yeast and cayenne.
5. Summer rolls in the sweltering heat with peanut sauce. Made them like 3 days in a row.
4. Smoothies! Hello blender, you are wonderful.
3. Oysters and mussels as a snack just because. Even purchased an oyster knife.
2. Restaurant Mahli for some serious Indian with LJ.
1. Cuisine Dependance b-day meal: sea bass with chorizo risotto and some sort of amazing truffle mousse sauce, followed by an orange sponge cake with orange syrup and chocolate ganache. Minervois to drink. Bliss!

Happy New Year food lovers! Hope this year is even tastier than the last. Life certainly is sweet.