Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Lazy summer solo dinner

Ah, the joys of having an Indian market nearby. My boyfriend is biking his way from SF to LA all week, so I'm on my own for dinner. I don't really enjoy eating out by myself, so I've been making myself food and ending up with enough leftovers to bring lunch to work (an unusual thing for me).

Tonight, after deciding that falafel or delivery pizza were not adequately healthy options, I checked on the freshness of my leftover Trader Joe's pizza dough and headed to Safeway for some spinach. Well, that was a mistake -- it costs $4.50 for 5 oz. of organic spinach at Safeway. That's criminal. Organic greens at the farmers' market or even Whole Foods cost around $5 a POUND, if that. I decided that was stupid and went to check out the new produce shop across the street. Unfortunately, it had just closed--I missed my window while poo-poo'ing overpriced greens. So I hit up the Indian grocer in the same strip mall for some fresh veg curry and flatbread.

I got my curry and my bread, but then I saw the sprouted mung beans. Sprouted mung beans are delicious -- crunchy, a little sweet, crazy good for you. So I picked those up, a jar of mint chutney, and a bag of bhel mixture, which is a mildly spiced blend of puffed rice, sev (crispy noodle bits), and poori fragments (small, deep fried, puffed bread). At home, these mixed with a tomato, half a bunch of cilantro, and a couple little baby onions to make a nice little salad-y thing.

And of course, there are leftovers. Plus all the curry and dal. Who needs to cook?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Newborn-friendly fried brown rice

Some very good friends of mine recently had a baby, and my gift (or general tendency) was to offer home-cooked food and market bitch services. I'm a regular at the farmers' market and am pretty good at piecing together emails, texts, and voice mails into complete shopping lists. I've been willing even to venture up to the dreaded meat counter at Whole Foods, all for the sake of friendship. But my own cooking remains veg-friendly.

Of course plenty of people bring food to new parents, but I suspect few take on the challenge of unusual dietary restrictions with the kind of enthusiasm I do. (I am weird. See also: how much I enjoy vegan cooking despite not actually being a vegan.) The mom's been avoiding likely gas culprits like onions and tomatoes and the dad hates broccoli and cauliflower anyway, so it can get tricky to make flavorful, interesting, healthy dishes.

Last week, I assembled this dish, which they told me was the best yet. (Almost despite myself, I enjoy the ego-stroking.)

The fried rice contained:
--2 homemade vegan sausages (using this recipe, also found in the
Vegan Brunch book, as a base and riffing with black beans and five spice powder)
--3 scrambled eggs
--handful sliced shiitake mushrooms sauteed with chopped green garlic (3)
--1 red bed pepper, diced and sauteed
--big handful sugar snap peas, cut in half and sauteed
--~2 cups cooked brown rice, 1 day old (from the rice cooker)
--~3 tablespoons minced cilantro
--4 skinny carrots, grated
--~1 tablespoon curry powder (I used a homemade blend from an Indian recipe)
--drizzle of soy sauce, to taste
--slivered almonds, pan toasted in a little oil

Basically, I tried to gather something of every color that was fresh, seasonal, and local--though a few things I had to fudge, like the red pepper and the slivered almond and of course the sausage ingredients--and put it together in a logical way.

The thing with fried rice is that you cook all the components separately, then mix them all together with the rice. It's also key to use rice that's at least a day old, so it's had time to dry out just enough that it won't turn to a mushy mess in your frying pan. Luckily Kevin has a great rice cooker, so that part was a snap.

It could do without the egg, truth be told, but they're not vegan and it does add a certain something. I bet subbing in a mild tofu scramble (with sulfur-y black salt?) would work.

It's not fancy, exactly, but it looked festive and, by all accounts, tasted lovely. Which is really all you need in a meal.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Saucy greens party!

I made up this recipe for greens -- really, any kind of greens work, but probably the more tender/bitter types are best, not so much the kind you want to de-stem, though those will work too -- using a bunch of leftover Live Earth Farm share greens to bring something quick and easy to a work potluck. It got some compliments and I liked it quite a bit, so here it is:

--2+ bunches of any kind of green (I had mizuna, arugula, baby tatsoi, and a handful of red russian kale and collard greens)
--2" piece of ginger, peeled and microplaned into oblivion
--2 cloves garlic, microplaned
--1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
--2 tablespoons soy sauce/bragg's
--1 cup vegetable broth
--a tiny bit of mild cooking oil and salt and pepper to taste

Mix together everything except the greens and the mild oil and s&p so it's ready to go. Wash the greens and chop or tear them roughly into bite-sized pieces (if necessary). They don't need to be totally dried off; in fact, a little water might be helpful. Heat up a really big pan with drizzle of oil, then add the greens. Cook, turning often, until the greens are wilted. You may need to do this in batches. Once they're just wilted, pour in the sauce. Bring to a boil, then turn down so it's just simmering. Let it simmer for awhile, until any stems are tender. Season to taste and eat. Be sure to hold onto that broth! You could cook extra greens in it, or use it to liven up whatever bed of grains you're eating with the greens. It also goes well with toasted almond slivers.

BTW, this blog will probably be archived, due to a change in blogger publishing rules. Since I don't update often I haven't really bothered to deal with it yet, but I will, eventually.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Hearty crepe filling I just made up!

So, it's Candlemas, which I didn't even realize it was called until this year (and my very well-educated French coworker explained the whole thing to me). Growing up, we always ate crepes on February 2, due to some vague French tradition that was never fully explained. Of course, in the US, Feb. 2 is also Groundhog Day, so there's some bizarre conflation of a deeply traditional high church-kinda holiday during which you make crepes to use up your butter and eggs before Lent and the celebration of a rodent who pretty much always sees his shadow and dooms us all to a long winter.

I don't celebrate religious holidays -- as a rule, not being religious -- and I don't need to use up any butter or eggs (I don't even keep them on hand), but I do like crepes, so I'm OK with any tradition that gives me an excuse to make them. Vegan crepes are easy and delicious, but making a meal-type filling can take a little imagination. Here's what I came up with using vegetables I had on hand from the wonderful farm share.

--2 leeks, washed and chopped
--3 cloves of garlic, minced
--1 cup vegetable broth
--1 tbsp maple syrup
--1 tbsp liquid smoke
--2-3 tbsp soy sauce or bragg's
--1 8-oz. pkg tempeh, chopped small (1/2" cubes)
--1/2 cup fresh sliced shiitake mushrooms (optional; these ultimately didn't add much)
--1 bunch kale, de-stemmed, washed, and roughly chopped
--1 tbsp dijon mustard
--1 tbsp red wine vinegar (just need some acid -- lemon juice, other vinegar would work)
--2 tomatoes, chopped
--salt and pepper to taste, plus olive oil and red pepper flakes

Saute the leeks with a pinch of salt in a little bit of olive oil until they begin to soften, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. In a small bowl, mix the broth, maple syrup, liquid smoke, soy sauce, and tempeh together. When the contents of the pot have started to brown, turn the heat up and pour the liquid + tempeh in, using the liquid to deglaze. Stir in the mushrooms, mustard, and vinegar and bring to a boil. Add kale and stir to combine. Return to a boil, then turn down to simmer for 15 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes and stir, allowing them to cook down and disintegrate into the mixture -- maybe 5 minutes. By now everything should be pretty well cooked and mellow, so taste it and make any adjustments.

You can eat it with a crepe (as a filling or using pieces of the crepe to scoop it up) or maybe over rice. It's a one-pot meal, if you don't need starch. And it tastes pretty good!