Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cheese Importer (Longmont)

I've been meaning to go to the Cheese Importer for a while now, but I never seemed to be in the area. Or, more accurately, I'd be near Longmont but zipping past it, on my way to a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park or a visit with family in Ft. Collins. Even growing up, I only stopped in Longmont if I hit a red light while driving between Ft. Collins and Boulder.

But, after a friend raved about the store's cheese selection, I decided that I needed to check it out. And so, rather than driving by, through, or around Longmont, I made my first ever trip to the town, and to the Cheese Importer.

And, it was worth it. Inside an industrial-looking building on a Longmont parkway is a trove of imported foods and kitchenware. Towards the back of the store is a large refrigerated room full of cheese. And cheese samples.

Cheese Importer carries a number of imported cheeses (organized by country of origin), as well as local varieties such as Haystack. This trip, I sampled bits of cheese with made with port and cheese dotted with with cranberries. After some deliberation, I bought a beautiful chunk of creamy mango-ginger stilton (pictured above, about $9 for 8 ounces) -- basically, like a fantastic mango-ginger-laced cheesecake. I also bought some gruyere (same price range) and a block of rBGH-free cheddar cheese ($3.99 for 8 ounces), which will make their way into beer cheese soup this weekend.

Cheese Importer
33 South Pratt Parkway (just north of the intersection of Ken Pratt Blvd and Pratt Parkway)
Longmont CO

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Roasted Beets with Parsley Pesto

Lovely and delicious -- but more of a side dish or snack than a main course.

1 bunch beets (4-5 beets)
1 tablespoon salt

Preheat oven to 375F.

Wash beets. Trim leaves and base.

Tear one square of aluminum foil per beet.

Place salt in a small bowl. Lightly roll each beet in the salt, then wrap in aluminum foil. Repeat until all the beets are finished.

Place wrapped beets on baking sheet and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, or until beets are tender.

Remove beets from the oven. Carefully unwrap the foil on a beet, then hold the beet under cool running water and gently remove the skin. Repeat with remaining beets.

Cut beets in small pieces and serve with parsley pesto (recipe below).

Parsley Pesto Ingredients
1 bunch parsley, washed
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
dash salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water

Place parsley, garlic, walnuts, cheese, salt and pepper in a food processor, and process until finely blended.

Scrape down the food processor bowl, then, with food processor running, carefully pour oil and water down the feed tube and process until smooth.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Grated Radish Salad

Am I the only person who didn't realize that you can grate radishes? I wish I'd thought of this earlier this summer: grated radishes + avocado + salt and pepper + rice or white wine vinegar. Yum.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Easy Lentil Salad With Tarragon-Mustard Dressing

I love these little lentils. Don't the swirls of color remind you of a Van Gogh painting?

And, I love this lentil salad, with a tangy tarragon-mustard dressing. It makes a great addition to a summer salad, and most of the ingredients are probably already in your refrigerator or pantry.

Dressing adapted from this potato salad recipe.

1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed (I used French lentils)
3 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 scant tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, washed and minced
3 teaspoons dried tarragon, crushed (or 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, washed and minced)
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

Place the lentils and water in a small saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are cooked but still firm (this will probably be between 15 and 20 minutes, depending on the type of lentils you are using).

While the lentils are cooking, whisk the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Drain the cooked lentils and place them in a medium-sized bowl.

Pour the dressing over the warm lentils and toss to coat.

Serve warm or chilled.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pasta With Chickpeas, Rosemary, and Garlic

Yes, it is a lot of garlic. And rosemary. And red pepper flakes. But soooo darn addictive.

The first time I made this, I used my blender to puree the chickpeas. The second time, I just went at them with a potato masher. As might be expected, the sauce made with the blender was smoother -- but I kind of like the chunky mashed chickpea texture, too.

16 ounces campanelle or other small pasta, prepared per package instructions
5 cups drained cooked or canned chickpeas (rinse if using canned)
3 cups water, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 ounce rosemary sprigs, washed, with the leaves removed and minced
1 teaspoon salt (I used 2 teaspoons with unsalted cooked chickpeas)

Place the chickpeas and 1 cup water in a blender and puree until smooth (or, alternatively, place the chickpeas and 1 cup water in a large bowl and mash until the chickpeas are smooth or you are tired).

Heat the olive oil and red pepper flakes in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the garlic and minced rosemary and cook, stirring frequently, for about a minute, or until the garlic begins to brown.

Stir in the salt.

Carefully add the pureed/mashed chickpeas to the skillet, and stir to combine with the seasoned oil.

Add the remaining two cups of water to the skillet and stir until the chickpea mixture is smooth.

Allow the chickpea mixture to come to a boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the cooked pasta and serve.

Monday, May 24, 2010

44 Hour Pizza Dough (30 Minutes From Fridge To Plate)

I love homemade pizza (see exhibits A, B, C, and D), but it can be hard to find time to let the dough rise between assembly and baking. So, a recent New York Times article about allowing pizza dough to rest for 24 to 48 hours before baking appealed to me in terms of efficiency, rather than improved taste or texture.

I mixed up my dough on a Thursday evening (using my standard recipe from Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian), and then placed it in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. On Saturday afternoon, I came home, peeked into the fridge, and saw that the dough had risen nicely. The pizza was in the oven about 20 minutes later. Ten minutes after that, I was marveling at how much better a pizza crust that's rested for a couple of days really is. And not just because I was pleased to be eating a freshly-baked homemade pizza about a half-hour after I walked in the door (although that was nice, too).

The flavor and texture of the crust were lighter, even though it was the same recipe that I normally use. (The NYT used the word "nuanced" to describe the change in flavor, which sounds silly when applied to pizza crust but is, I think, accurate). The only downside is that I ate much more pizza than I normally would, because I kept wanting to "confirm" the difference.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Spicy Lentil Stew (Mesir Wat) Part II

I am completely addicted to the spicy lentil stew I made a few weeks back. Turns out, it's even good for breakfast. And, it was one of the only things that made my head feel better during a recent cold/sinus infection.

The original recipe calls for four tablespoons of butter; two tablespoons of canola (or other vegetable) oil make a good substitute.

(Yes, the stew looks completely different in this photo than it did in the original post -- what can I say? -- the first photo was shabby.)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Green Pizza (Pizza With Spinach, Mushrooms, and Garlic)

I've been experimenting with pizza toppings again. This combination includes a green sauce of pureed spinach, garlic, red pepper flakes, and olive oil, with mushrooms (and more garlic) and parmesan cheese on top.

Yes, I do like garlic. Why do you ask?

1 batch pizza dough
9-10 button mushrooms, washed and diced
16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed
5 cloves of garlic, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
dash red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

In a medium bowl, toss the diced mushrooms with 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

In a food processor, puree the frozen spinach with 3 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the red pepper flakes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500F.

Lightly brush a baking sheet with olive oil.

Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface, and transfer to the baking sheet.

Carefully spread the pureed spinach mixture over the pizza dough. Top with the mushrooms and parmesan cheese.

Bake at 500F for 6-12 minutes, monitoring carefully after the 6 minute mark.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ethiopian Split Pea Stew (Kik Alicha) and Spicy Lentil Stew (Mesir Wat)

I haven't been eating many legumes lately. Perhaps I needed a break after a long winter of stews and soups? But, a recent meal at an Ethiopian restaurant made me realize that I'd actually missed lentils and split peas -- and left me craving more Ethiopian food. So, I sorted through different recipes on the internet, tracked down some spicy berbere seasoning, and made my very first attempt at mesir wat (spicy lentil stew, seasoned with berbere) and kik alicha (a mild but tasty yellow split pea stew, which provides a nice counterbalance to the wat). As you can see from the photo, I cheated a bit and made naan to eat with my stew, rather than injera.

The result? I can't vouch for authenticity, but they are both delicious. I think I would even be happy to eat them during a mid-winter slump.

Spicy lentil stew recipe here, yellow split pea stew recipe here. I found bebere seasoning ($7.99 for a 1-pound bag) at the World Food Bazaar, 242 N. Havana in Aurora.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Flourless Carrot Cake (Gajar Ka Halwa)

I've had this flourless, no bake carrot cake before, in Nepalese restaurants, but never knew how to make it. Luckily, Donna (of Dine with Donna) asked a restaurant owner for the recipe. It turns out the cake is really easy to make. Basically, shredded carrots are cooked in a dry pan over medium heat until all the moisture evaporates -- then, milk, butter, and sugar are added in turn, and cooked until the liquid reduces -- and finally, cinnamon, coconut powder, and ground cardamom are stirred into the carrot mixture.

While the resulting cake is delicious, the recipe is worth making for the smell of freshly ground cardamom, alone.

Dine with Donna featured the cake more than a month ago, but it took me a while to make it because I didn't have the coconut powder called for in the recipe. I finally just decided to use coconut flour, which worked just fine (and maybe is the same thing?). You can find coconut flour at health food stores.

Recipe here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Orzo and Vegetable Salad

The warm temperatures and sunny skies last week started me thinking about lighter spring fare. After months of winter vegetables, an orzo and vegetable salad (from Jeanne Lemlin's Quick Vegetarian Pleasures cookbook) seemed like a great way to welcome spring.

Of course, by the time I got around to making the salad, the temperature had plummeted more than 20 degrees, the sunny sky had been replaced with clouds, and it was snowing. Also, I somehow lost an hour?

While the weather (and time) may have let me down, I don't believe this salad ever will: orzo and tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, celery, parsley, feta, and (of course) kalamata olives, in a light, creamy dressing. I threw in a little chopped spinach, this time, too... Here's to the longer days, sunnier skies, and warm-weather food to come.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pizza With Broccoli, Feta, And Garlic

Garlicky-feta goodness. Plus olives.

1 batch pizza dough (I used Mark Bittman's recipe with a little spelt flour mixed in, but plan to try this one in the future)
flour as needed
1 head broccoli, washed, stems removed, and finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

Preheat the oven to 500F.

Lightly brush a baking sheet with olive oil.

Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface, and transfer to the baking sheet. Brush the dough with olive oil.

In a large bowl, combine chopped broccoli, red pepper flakes, garlic, and two teaspoons olive oil, and toss to combine.

Carefully pour the broccoli mixture onto the pizza. Top with the feta crumbles and chopped kalamata olives.

Bake at 500F for 6-12 minutes, monitoring carefully after the 6 minute mark.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Stuffed Cabbage (Not Exactly Like Grandma Made Them)

I suppose we all have our contradictions. I generally don't miss meat at all -- but sometimes I crave my Grandma's stuffed cabbage. And, so, while I usually am not interested in re-creating traditional dishes without the meat, I have tried different meatless versions of stuffed cabbage over the years -- ranging from wonderful version at a Ukrainian restaurant in New York City to a best-forgotten attempt using mock meat "crumbles."

I recently noticed a recipe for "Cabbage Parcels" in the Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen cookbook. The parcels -- stuffed with a pureed blend of barley, pecans, cashews, mushrooms, onions, and cheddar cheese -- sounded interesting, even if a bit different from the stuffed cabbage that I grew up with. And so, I decided to give them a try.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, up until it came to stuffing the cabbage leaves. The recipe said to bind the cabbage parcels with kitchen string to hold them together. I skipped this part, and instead just stuffed the cabbage the way I remember seeing it done as a girl -- dab of stuffing in the center of a steamed cabbage leaf, fold the top and then the bottom of the leaf up over the middle, and then carefully tuck the two sides underneath. The stuffed leaves then went into a large skillet of tomato sauce to simmer for about 30 minutes.

I was really pleased with the outcome -- the cabbage rolls weren't exactly like Grandma made them, but were closer than I expected, and also just plain tasty. Folks who are looking for a good homemade veg burger should check out the filling recipe ("Brown Rice-Mushroom 'Burgers,'" from the same cookbook) -- the nut/grain/mushroom blend has a good flavor and even looks surprisingly meat-like (if that's what you're into).

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spicy Cauliflower Pasta Bake

This pasta bake is quick and easy, and features two of my favorite ingredients -- cauliflower and kalamata olives. The basic recipe is from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook; after preparing the tomato sauce and cooking the pasta and cauliflower, I combined them in a lightly oiled 13 x 9 baking dish, baked them for 25 minutes at 375F, and then added panko bread crumbs and a little grated parmesan cheese and put the baking dish under the broiler for a couple minutes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blueberry Walnut Corn Muffins

I've been on a muffin kick lately. My current favorites are blueberry walnut corn muffins, made with a blend of corn meal, almond flour, and all-purpose flour. The muffins are adapted from a recipe for almond cranberry cornbread that I posted about in December. (I've discovered that it's easier not to eat 1/4 batch in a single sitting if I divide the recipe between 12 muffin cups.)

The adaptation is really simple: I substituted 1 cup frozen blueberries (tossed with 1 tablespoon flour) and 1/2 cup walnuts for the almonds, canola oil, and cranberries called for in the original recipe. Blueberries are a nice addition to corn muffins, and blueberries and walnuts taste great together. Mix the blueberries and walnuts in after combining the wet and dry ingredients.

Original recipe here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

On Top Of Spaghetti (Sweet Potato Chard Rounds)

When I first became vegetarian, I tried to make meatless versions of the dishes I was familiar with, like spaghetti and "meatballs." Over time, I became less interested in replicating traditional meat dishes, and more interested in creating tasty vegetable-based dishes. So, when I saw photo of sweet potato kale balls with pasta at Cupcake Punk recently, I was interested in the sweet potato kale rounds, but a little skeptical about serving the rounds on top of spaghetti.

The rounds are made from a mixture of mashed roasted sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, and sautéed garlic and kale (I used chard). While it takes about an hour to caramelize the onions (good instructions here), the caramelized onions really compliment the sweet potatoes. The sweet potato mixture is rolled into rounds, coated in cornmeal, and then baked at 400F for 30 minutes, turning once after 15 minutes.

My one stray from the original recipe was pour a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar into the pan that I used to caramelize the onions (after removing then onions and chard), and then add the vinegar and any scrapings from the pan to the sweet potato mixture. I really liked the tanginess of the balsamic vinegar with the sweet potatoes and caramelized onions.

I did decide to go ahead and serve the rounds on top of spaghetti. And, I have to admit, it worked. The rounds are really good with a marinara-type sauce. Also, since the rounds are not that big, the pasta helped make a filling (but not too filling) meal.

The recipe at Cupcake Punk was adapted from a recipe by Jess at Happy Vegan Face. Jess suggested mixing cooked quinoa into the rounds, to make more of a patty. While the rounds are really good with pasta, I also might try experimenting along these lines in the future.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Samosa Mash

A mash of potatoes, baked tofu, and peas, seasoned with ginger, tumeric, cumin, coriander, and chilies.
Packs nicely for a winter snowshoe (or work).

2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, washed and chopped
1 batch baked tofu, cut in squares
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (my peas had grated carrots mixed in)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 onion, washed and chopped
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 serrano chilies, washed, seeded, and minced
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 and 1/2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the potatoes for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain, mash, and set aside.

Heat the oil and mustard seeds in a large covered skillet over medium heat, until the mustard seeds pop.

After the mustard seeds have popped, remove the lid, stir in the cumin seed and onion, and cook (stirring occasionally) until the onion is soft.

Add the ginger and chilies, and cook two minutes (stirring occasionally).

Add the tumeric, cayenne, coriander, and salt, and cook one more minute.

Add the mashed potatoes and stir until blended with the spices. Pour in 1/2 cup of water, and mix until the potatoes have a fluffy texture. (Add more water as needed.)

Mix in the baked tofu and peas, and cook over medium-low heat until heated through.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Black Bean Rice Bowl

A satisfying rice bowl that combines spicy chipotle black beans and rice with a cilantro lime slaw. If you like, add some sliced avocado, or a little queso fresco or grated monterey jack cheese.

One batch cilantro lime slaw
1 cup uncooked brown rice (or two cups cooked)
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 bell pepper, washed, seeded, and chopped (I used about 3/4 pint red and yellow mini-peppers)
1 small onion, washed and chopped
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 and 1/2 to 3 cups cooked black beans (1 cup dried beans, soaked and cooked; or 2 15-ounce cans, drained)
1 teaspoon salt (optional -- you may want to reduce the salt if using canned beans)
3 cups lettuce, washed and chopped

To cook the brown rice
Bring 2 and 1/2 cups of water to boil in a small saucepan.

Add the brown rice and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 45 to 50 minutes.

Remove from heat and let sit covered for about 5 minutes.

To prepare the black beans and rice:
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

Add the chile powder, cumin, and salt, and cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the black beans and brown rice to the skillet and cook until heated through.

To assemble the rice bowl:
Place about 3/4 cup chopped lettuce in a large bowl.

Top with 1 cup cilantro lime slaw, and 1 cup rice and beans.

Toss and serve.

Makes at least 4 generous servings.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cilantro Lime Slaw

This coleslaw makes a really good accompaniment for black beans and rice (check back Saturday for an example). I could also see it going well with enchiladas, quesadillas, or tofu-tillas. You can eat it right away, but it gets better after sitting for a bit -- if possible, at least 30 minutes before serving.

juice from 1 lime
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
scant 1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 small cabbage, washed and finely chopped

Combine the lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt, and olive oil in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, mix together the cilantro, green onion, and cabbage. Add the dressing and toss to coat.

(If time permits, let the slaw sit for at least 30 minutes.)


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Green Chili Mac And Cheese

I love trying new variations on macaroni and cheese. This green chili mac and cheese is a current favorite of mine. It features two different types of green chilies -- chopped roasted poblano peppers are nestled among the noodles, and puréed roasted serrano chilies are blended into a sour cream-cheddar sauce.

I think it's fun to roast poblano peppers, but you could save time by buying frozen roasted peppers. You'll need about 2 cups of chopped roasted poblanos.

Adapted from this recipe for a lower-fat mac and cheese at The Chef and the Photographer. I get at least nine servings -- any leftovers freeze nicely.

5 poblano peppers
canola oil for brushing
2 serrano chilies, washed, stems removed, sliced in quaters lengthwise, and seeded
1 3/4-inch thick slice onion
1 clove garlic
1 egg
15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 cup skim milk
black pepper to taste
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
13 ounces whole wheat pasta, prepared per package instructions
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Roasting the poblano peppers (skip this step if using pre-roasted peppers): Place the poblano peppers on a broiler-safe baking tray. Broil (monitoring carefully) until the peppers' skin bubbles and begins to turn black. Remove the peppers from the broiler and use tongs or a spatula to place them in a large paper bag. Roll the bag shut and allow the peppers to sit for 15 minutes. Take the peppers out of the bag, and carefully remove the stems, peel off the skin, and remove the seeds. (It's OK if not all of the skin will peel off, just be sure to get the bubbly/loose parts.) Coarsely chop the peeled peppers and set aside.

Place the serrano chilies, onion slice, and garlic on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast at 400F for about 10 minutes, or until the chilies' skin starts to bubble and the onion begins to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly brush a 13x9 baking dish with canola oil.

In a food processor, process the roasted serrano chilies, onion, and garlic with the ricotta cheese, sour cream, and egg until smoothly blended. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the milk.

Transfer the sour cream mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the black pepper, salt, chopped poblano peppers, and grated cheddar.

Place the cooked, drained pasta into the lightly-oiled baking dish. Pour the sour cream mixture over it, and gently stir to combine. Top with panko bread crumbs.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and broil for two to three minutes, until the panko topping is golden brown.

Let sit 5 minutes, then serve.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sesame Almond Cookies

Sesame orange almond cookies, adapted from a recipe at Don't Burn the Garlic. Crispy on the outside, sesame goodness on the inside.

I substituted almond flour for 1/3 of the all-purpose flour in the original recipe. If you don't have almond flour, just go ahead and use three cups of all-purpose flour, as suggested by the original recipe.

Don't Burn the Garlic suggested adding a little orange zest -- it sounded like a great idea, and so I did, along with a little orange blossom water. However, while the resulting cookies were very good, they didn't have much of a citrus kick -- I'm not sure what more I could do to boost the orange flavor. Suggestions?

1 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted (I used the lowest possible setting on my toaster oven)
2 sticks butter, softened
zest of one orange (optional)
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup almond flour
2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, mix the toasted sesame seeds into the softened butter (it's OK if the butter melts).

Mix in the orange zest, orange blossom water, and vanilla extract.

Add the sugars and blend thoroughly.

Stir in the eggs.

Add the salt and baking powder.

Slowly stir in the almond and all-purpose flours, about 1 cup at a time.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and pre-heat the oven to 375 F.

Scoop up dough one teaspoon at a time, and roll into a ball with your hands. Place the rounded ball of dough on a non-stick cookie sheet.

Repeat until you filled the cookie sheet (12 cookies).

Bake for 11 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven, and place on a rack to cool.

I got almost 4 dozen cookies.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Red Beans And Sticky Rice, With Gomashio

Like any good vegetarian, I'm always on the lookout for a new beans and rice dish. So, naturally, I was interested in a recipe for red beans and sticky rice, seasoned with black sesame seeds and salt, from Tea and Cookies. While the recipe was simple -- requiring only adzuki beans, sticky rice (aka mochi rice or sweet rice), black sesame seeds and salt -- it incorporated different flavors and textures than my usual beans and rice dish. And so, I decided to give it a try.

The beans and rice were easy to prepare. I soaked 1 cup of adzuki beans (twice what the original recipe called for) and 1 and 1/2 cups of sticky rice overnight, in separate bowls. The next day, I drained and rinsed the beans, then cooked them for about 20 minutes while I rinsed and washed the rice. When the beans had finished cooking, I drained them but reserved the cooking water. The rice and partially cooked beans then went into a larger pot, with about 2 cups of the reserved bean cooking water, and a dash of salt. Less than 20 minutes later, the rice and beans were done.

The gomashio (black sesame seeds with salt) is also easy to make, although I had to work through a couple kinks. I used a recipe for stovetop gomashio at Just Bento, which was written for people who have a kitchen scale. Since I don't have a kitchen scale, I spent a little time with on-line measurement equivalent tables and a calculator, and ultimately figured that the recipe called for about 7 tablespoons of black sesame seeds, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 cup of water. I decided to make a half batch, using 3.5 tablespoons of black sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 cup of water.

The recipe said to toast the black sesame seeds in a pan over medium-low heat until they popped, and then add in salt water and stir until the water evaporated. I was worried about burning the sesame seeds (since I couldn't tell by color whether they were toasting), and so I may have started out with too low a heat setting. However, after about 25 minutes and several increases in temperature -- to almost medium heat -- my sesame seeds still weren't popping. Out of frustration, I tasted a seed and found that it was nice and toasty. So, perhaps the seeds don't really have to pop? I added the salt water to the pan and was rewarded with a wonderful salty sesame smell. The water evaporated in just a couple of minutes, leaving me with tasty gomashio to sprinkle over my beans and rice.

Since the gomashio can take some time to prepare, I would definitely recommend making it in advance.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cream of Barley Soup (With Mushrooms)

I'm still on a Deborah Madison kick -- this time, her Cream of Barley Soup, from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. It's a smooth, creamy soup (thanks to puréed barley and vegetables, and reduced-fat sour cream) which delivers a nice dose of whole grains.

The recipe suggested garnishing the soup with cooked barley and thin slices of sautéed leek and shitake mushroom. I did stir some additional cooked barley into the puréed soup. However, instead of using a leek/shitake mushroom garnish, I sautéed about a pound of chopped baby portobello mushrooms in one tablespoon of melted butter. I really liked the texture of the barley and mushroom chunks in the otherwise smooth soup.

Since my mom's family is Hungarian, I couldn't let a dish featuring both sour cream and mushrooms go without a little paprika.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lentils and Shells

I've been looking for a good lentil/pasta dish for a while now. This dish from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen really does the trick, thanks to an unlikely combination of ingredients: lime, cilantro, thyme, celery, onion, and spinach (plus pasta and lentils).

If you like Deborah Madison and live in Denver, you might want to know that she will be giving a talk at the Denver Botanical Gardens this coming October. Info here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Winter Vegetable Tian

A summer dish made with winter vegetables -- thin slices of sweet potato, parsnip, and fennel, layered over sautéed leek and garlic, sprinkled with thyme and ground fennel seed, and topped with gruyere cheese. Adapted from this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa.

I used one sweet potato, one parsnip, and one fennel bulb. In the future, I might try to wedge in another (sliced) fennel bulb -- who knew that fennel was so good with gruyere?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Shish Kabob Grill

I really should make my own tabbouleh. But, I've got no incentive, because I live just a few blocks from the Shish Kabob Grill. Packed with parsley (as well as tomatoes, onion, bulgur wheat, lemon juice, olive oil, and, I think, mint?), the Shish Kabob Grill's tabbouleh salad is refreshing, pleasantly crunchy, and a complete impediment to the development of my own tabbouleh recipe.

I also really like the hummus -- a creamy, smooth blend of chickpeas, sesame paste, lemon juice, garlic, salt and olive oil, which is served with two warm pitas (or sold in small tubs). Yes, I can (and do) make my own, but...

Sometimes I get the falafel sandwich -- a large pita filled with falafel, hummus, sesame paste, tomatoes, and lettuce. At about $6, it's an inexpensive but filling meal.

The restaurant also has a vegetarian platter (with hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, grape leaves, and spinach pie) but I haven't tried it because I'm the rare vegetarian who doesn't like eggplant.

Shish Kabob Grill
1503 Grant (corner of Grant and Colfax)
Denver, CO 80203

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Slow-Cooker Baked Beans

These baked beans are made with smoked paprika, not pork or bacon. It takes several hours of cooking from start to finish, but for most of that time, the beans are simmering away in a slow-cooker (aka Crockpot).

The recipe starts out by cooking the (pre-soaked) beans in a slow-cooker for three hours. The beans are then drained and added back to the slow-cooker -- along with smoked paprika, dried mustard, grated onion, molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, and water -- to cook for another 10 to 14 hours. I let mine simmer overnight on low heat. While I was sleeping, the beans transformed from pale to tangy brown.

Recipe here. I used cannellini instead of navy beans, and added salt to the cooked beans.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Grapefruit Ginger Smoothie

I'm please to report that I finally own a blender that doesn't leak. So pleased, in fact, that I've been making smoothies even though the temperature has been well below freezing, and the ground in Cheeseman Park hasn't been visible in weeks.

While winter might seem like a strange time for a frozen treat, smoothies made with winter fruits like grapefruit are really yummy. This smoothie combines grapefruit, ginger, vanilla yogurt, and a handful of strawberries.


sections and juice of 1 grapefruit (approx 1 and 1/4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
4 strawberries (I used frozen)

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender, and purée until smooth.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Island Oatmeal

Oatmeal with coconut milk, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and mango -- adapted from a recipe for arroz con dulce (Puerto Rican rice pudding). Yes, it's based on a dessert, but the oatmeal is more subtle than sweet. It's also super easy to make.

3.5 cups water
14 ounce can lite coconut milk
4 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
3 cups quick oats*
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 generous teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup currants or raisins
1 mango, washed and cut (optional)

Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, and cook over medium heat until boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Adjust seasonings and serve.

*If using a different type of oats, you might need to adjust the amount of liquid and the cooking time.

Note: This post is linked to Healthy Green Kitchen’s breakfast recipe blog carnival for Haiti. -- B