Tag Archives: vegetarian

Vegan Chili Verde

This is one of my favorite cook book recipes. I’ve been recently mulling over my distaste for the way most cookbooks are set up. I find reading through the list of ingredients and directions for dummies to be tedious, boring, and uninspiring. The majority of cook books are made for the lowest common denominator, which is fine for when I want to learn how to cook something that I’ve never cooked before. That is when I turn to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. I’ve learned a lot about the basics of cooking from reading his book.

I think the problem boils down to this: when an author writes in his or her introduction that he/she is passionate about cooking, food, and states that they show their soul through the cooking and then write the most soulless, scientific sounding recipes then I just don’t believe them. I find it disingenuous. Give me some character, heart, and explain to me how you feel as you cook. If you are not a gifted writer, then have someone else do the writing for you and you provide the recipes.

I’m veering wildly off-topic here. Back to what I cooked this weekend. This weekend we finally made our move back to Santa Cruz from the Silicon Valley. We had a housewarming party on Saturday, the day after we moved in. Andrew and I are amazingly efficient movers; we had our entire house set up and everything unpacked by mid-Saturday morning. That was with our movers being an hour and a half late on Friday and with me having to make multiple trips over the winding mountain highway in between Santa Cruz and the bay area.

I knew that I wanted to make the chili verde from the Veganomicon. I purchased the Veganomicon when I had my foray into veganism. I still enjoy vegan cooking. It’s something completely different than recipes that rely upon meat, dairy, and eggs. It’s a challenge and it’s interesting. The Veganomicon for me is the vegan cookbook to purchase. It’s easy enough to follow if you’re a beginner while still maintaining a level of variation and interest. They give fun, pithy explanations of each dish before starting in on the recipe which makes it enjoyable to read. Some of the recipes are damn good, such as the manzana chili verde, chickpea cutlets, and vanilla pound cake, while others suck incredibly (the mustard sauce is one of the most heinous things I’ve ever put in my mouth).

This recipe is based off of and inspired by the Manzana Chili Verde found on page 171 of the Veganomicon by Terry Hope Romero and Isa Chandra Moskowitz. These are also the same ladies who brought you Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  They know what they’re doing. I forsake traditional recipe writing here. If you want to know exact ingredients and cooking times please refer to that cookbook. The result is a tangy, spicy, filling concoction that is great as a tip or as a meatless dinner.

1. First wash the following produce: one pound of baby yukon gold potatoes (I used “gold potatoes” whatever the hell those are because Safeway didn’t have baby Yukons), two Granny Smith apples, two poblano peppers (my recipe deviates here and I ended up having to use two green bell peppers. Use green bell peppers if you’re not a fan of the spicy.), and three jalapeño peppers. Set aside the apples and peppers for now.

Wash and roughly chop potatoes

2. Set yourself to work on roughly chopping your potatoes. Then put them in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil. You want them to boil for about twenty minutes at this point. Use this time to peel and chop your onion (I accidentally used two onions and this was perfectly fine) and chop the peppers. Roughly chop them. It doesn’t matter honestly because you’re going to be putting this through a food processor eventually. Leave the seeds in the jalapeño peppers if you want it to be spicy.

Peel and roughly chop the onion

Wash and chop the peppers. You want it in smaller pieces than this picture shows. 

3. Once your potatoes are tender enough to stick a fork easily in them take them off the heat and drain them. Now get some oil cooking on medium high and then add your peppers and onion. Cook for about ten minutes. While these are cooking, chop your garlic (I used an entire head. Use as much as you like. Exact measurements DO NOT MATTER), and get the cumin (I did not use cumin), chili powder (I used chili powder and the original recipe does not), a teaspoon of oregano,  and 2 cups of vegetable broth ready. Chop the apples into bite sized pieces. Prepare your tomatillos.

Note: To prepare tomatillos you need to remove the papery skins on the outside. Tomatillos are like little green apple and tomato hybrids. They can also be rather sticky. Remove the papery skins and then wash. Chop into small pieces.

Cook the onions and peppers on medium high in olive oil for about ten minutes.

Onions and peppers after 10 minutes

4. When the peppers and onions have reached a soft translucency, add the garlic, tomatillos and spices. Cook for about another minute then add the vegetable broth and apples. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes. I forgot to warn at the beginning of this that this is a rather time consuming recipe, but completely worth it.

Add tomatillos

Add apples and vegetable broth. Cook for another 20 minutes.

5. After the twenty or so minutes are up, carefully ladle your mixture into a food processor. If you have a large food processor good for you it will get done quicker. If you have an immersion blender well then you’re just super awesome and lucky aren’t you. Use that. If you don’t have either, but you have a food mill then use that, but be careful no matter because this shit is hot and can possibly burn you. Go through the entire batch and food process, blend, or mill until it reaches a rough smoothness.

Chili verde after its been in the food processor and the beans/potatoes are added. 

6. Add potatoes and two cans of beans (the original recipe calls for one can of beans but I found that meager). Simmer until heated through. I actually served mine at room temperature with tortilla chips and that was delicious.

People enjoying the manzana chili verde. 

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Polenta Gratin

The past two weeks have been weeks of continuous nervous breakdowns, meltdowns, temper tantrums, and angry rages from me. Work and school together have completely overwhelmed me. Working full-time with special education students and going to school full-time is a lot for anyone, but especially a lot for someone who has severe anxiety like I do. I always get through it and I always manage to make it through, but I think it will cost me some day.

There have been a few good points in the past couple weeks. Such as the Giants are in the World Series against the Rangers. They are playing right now and kicking the Rangers’ butts. I never thought I would be a baseball fan, but it’s really fun to root for a local team.

I’ve also progressed in my rock climbing. This week I made it 3/4 up a 5.9. On Friday there will be a headlamp only climb at the gym and my rock climbing boys and I are so going to do it.

I went on a crazy road trip to Joshua Tree Park which ended up with having to spend a night with a bunch of drunk and stoned metal heads in the desert who wouldn’t stop talking about Kung-Fu. Then coming back we hit a pot hole and destroyed my tire coming down the Grapevine. Oh and then one of my headlights went out.

This has been life the past couple weeks and it’s only bound to get crazier/busier.

I have been cooking but I haven’t been photographing. I dropped my digital camera a couple weeks ago and haven’t been able to buy a new one yet. I get paid on Monday and I am definitely going to purchase  a new digital camera before I leave for Scotland.

That’s right I’m going to Scotland. And no I don’t think I’ll be eating any haggis.

Last week  I made a Grits Gratin with Garlic Arugula. This week I am making the same dish but I going about it a different way. Last week we were a little low on the arugula and there was too much polenta. It was still delicious and Andrew devoured almost the entire pan, but we both agreed that we needed more arugula in it.

So this week instead of pre-cooking the polenta and molding it in on a cutting board in the fridge, I cooked the polenta and mixed it with the garlic and arugula. I tried to make it layered like a lasagna but that didn’t quite work and everything ended up mixing together.

It turned out tasty and quite attractive. I garnished mine with some freshly grated parmesan.

 

Grits Gratin with Garlic Arugula

Recipe Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian

  • One Recipe Polenta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 cups arugula leaves
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a shallow baking pan.

2. Put two tablespoons of olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is soft, plump, and starting to color. This takes about ten minutes. Add the arugula, sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir gently.

3. Spread half the polenta on the bottom of the greased baking pan. Then add half the arugula mixture. Then spread 1/4  of the polenta. Don’t worry about it mixing. This will happen. Then spread out the rest of the arugula and then the rest of the polenta.

4. Cook for twenty minutes in the oven until the top is browned and a little crunchy.

I garnished mine with Parmesan and a little ground salt.

 

 

Vegetarian Taco Night

Tonight we made vegetarian tacos. It’s super simple and not even really a recipe. We sliced up some avocado and pineapple, cooked up some beans, and heated tortillas up.

Baked Beans and Hummus

The last time I made baked beans was a semi-disaster. I ended up losing a portion of beans when getting into Andrew’s car. This portion of beans was scalding hot and landed in my crotch. As you can imagine, boiling hot beans in your groin area is really uncomfortable. These beans tasted great and they were an awesome addition to last year’s Super Bowl festivities.

I decided to try making baked beans again. This time around I made the Veganomicon’s Cheater Baked Beans. These were a lot easier and less time consuming than the other beans I made last year. They, however, are lacking a depth of flavor that were in the Super Bowl crotch burner beans. I really think that dried beans end up tasting a lot better than canned beans and some addition of a smokey flavor is necessary for great tasting baked beans (be this from a ham hock, bacon, or hickory smoke flavoring).

The Cheater Baked Beans

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion, diced as small as you can (I left this out because someone else in my house used my onion *cough cough* Andrew).
  • 3 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce (I used no salt added)
  • 1/2 cup light molasses (I used dark because that’s what I had in my cupboard)
  • 2 tsp. mustard (they call for mustard powder, but I did not have mustard powder nor did I care to buy any)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 15 oz. cans small white beans (I used navy beans)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Or be like me and put it at 375 and then change it later because you never read recipes carefully.

2. Preheat a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Saute your onion if someone didn’t steal it in the olive oil for about ten minutes. You want them to be a little browned and caramelized. Add the garlic and saute for one more minute. Add the tomato sauce, molasses, mustard, salt, allspice, and bay leaf and cook for about five minutes.

3. Then pour this into an oven safe dish. Or maybe you have one of those oven safe dishes that can be put on the stove top. I never experiment with this because things can go badly. Cover the dish and transfer it into the oven. Cook for thirty minutes, then stir, put the lid back on and then cook for thirty more minutes.

This left me with fairly runny baked beans. I like less sauce and more bean. It also has a strong tomato flavor and I’m not a big tomato person. However, it did taste nice with my bagel this morning for breakfast.

Hummus


My hummus contains one can of chickpeas and then I add tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Then I process it in the food processor until well blended. It’s not that complicated and I never measure. I prefer the consistency of hummus done in a blender, but my blender is devilishly difficult to clean so I used the food processor this time.

Saffron Omelet

A couple of months ago I splurged on some saffron. I think I’ve used it once or twice and forgot about it in my spice cabinet. I’ve been afraid to use it since saffron is incredibly expensive. The other night I was hungry, it was late, and I was slightly inebriated so I decided to make an omelet. Have I also mentioned that I’m really poor and don’t buy meat? Eggs are cheap, simple, and quick. I’ve recently figured out the key to making delicious omelets: lots of margarine or butter and a non-stick pan.

This was two eggs beaten with salt, pepper, and a pinch of saffron threads. I heated up about two tablespoons of margarine (this was more than enough, I had to pour some out of the pan when I was finished) and then added my eggs. I was able to slide my omelet right out of the pan and onto my plate this time. Amazing!

Two Egg Omelette

This morning after my walk I decided I wanted to make an omelette for breakfast. I had in my mind that I would make a duck egg omelette. I don’t know why, but I wanted to try duck eggs. I drove over to Whole Foods because I believed they sold individual eggs including duck eggs. Disappointingly they do not sell individual eggs anymore and they do not sell duck eggs. I bought organic eggs instead. I also organic loose leaf spinach, a snack sized piece of kerrygold cheddar, and an avocado.

I have tried to make omelettes before and have always failed, ending up with scrambled eggs and toppings. This time I used a non-stick skillet, plenty of margarine, low-temperature, and patience. I came out with a pretty nice looking and delicious tasting omelette.

Two Egg Omelette

  • two eggs
  • 1 tbsp. margarine
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 oz. kerrygold dubliner cheddar
  • 3/4 cup spinach

1. Heat non-stick skillet with margarine on medium low heat. Whisk eggs until frothy. Add eggs to the skillet once margarine is melted and make sure the eggs are evenly spread on the surface of the pan.

2. While the eggs are cooking, cut the avocado, shred the cheese, and tear up spinach into smaller pieces.

3. It will take about five to seven minutes for the omelette to cook. Once the eggs are set, add filling on one side. Add cheese first, then avocado, and then spinach. This will ensure that the cheese melts. To fold the omelette, gently work the spatula underneath the non-filling side of the eggs, lift up carefully, and fold over the filling side. Slide the omelette off the skillet onto the plate.

Israeli Couscous “Risotto”

I was reading through cookbooks last weekend and came across something that I had never heard of before: cooking pasta like risotto. Now, reading this terrified and excited me. I could foresee pasta burning and sticking to the pan, coming up undercooked and gummy at the same time. I was also excited by the possibility of saving water and the time it takes to boil the water. This has been in the back of my mind the past couple days.

I was driving home from class today over hwy 17 and got really hungry. I’ve been getting very hungry all of a sudden lately. I was daydreaming of burritos, chinese food, and all sorts of take-out. Then I thought of my bank account, the feta cheese, roasted garlic, dried cranberries, salad greens, and array of carboyhydrate options I keep in my cupboard. I knew I could come up with something delicious, easy, satisfying, and quick.

I figured that Israeli couscous would be the perfect sized pasta to try out risotto style. I like making risotto and have never found it to be a challenge. I’ve always found cooking a pot of rice to be more of a challenge. I also like Israeli couscous. I like it much better than those tiny wimpy regular couscous.

Out came the Israeli Couscous “Risotto”. Creamy, tangy, savory, sweet. Nutty, hearty, and simple. A great lunch for when you have time to cook. Or it could be a great dinner. A wonderful way to use leftovers and experiment.

Israeli Couscous “Risotto” with Dried Cranberries, Feta, and Roasted Garlic

  • 1 1/3 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 3/4 cup water (you could also use stock or a combination of stock and water)
  • salt, pepper, and chili pepper flakes (my holy trinity of spices)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • a handful of dried cranberries
  • a couple cloves of roasted garlic
  • a handful of herb and garlic feta
  • a handful of salad greens

1. To toast your couscous add the olive oil and couscous to the pan and heat to medium. I use a heavy bottomed aluminum pan because I have some sort of disease that prevents me from ever wanting to use non-stick. Add salt, pepper, and chili pepper flakes.  Heat for about five minutes until they little balls turn a golden color and they smell nutty (or in my case almost burning).

2. Gradually add your water and stir. You want to add the water in small increments. The way I gauged it was add a little water, stir, stir, stir, and then when the little balls started to stick I added more water before they could adhere themselves permanently to the pan. This process took about fifteen minutes.

3. Add roasted garlic cloves and smash them up into the couscous. Let them heat through for about a minute or so. Then remove the pan from the heat. Add cranberries and feta.

4. In a bowl mix together couscous mixture and salad greens. Enjoy.