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Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Cold and rainy night… We’re having a very traditional winter meal. A homemade seitan roast stuffed with a carrot, leeks & mushroom brunoise, with oven roasted maple glazed root vegetables, potato purée and a simple pan juice & amontillado sauce. We’ll pair this with a simple musclum salad with dill & lemon zest and a lemon & olive oil dressing. And we’ll end things with an apple crisp, my favourite ordinary desert!

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roast meal

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Ingredients

For the seitan

  • 225 ml (1 cup) wheat gluten flour
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) white mushrooms
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) porcini mushrooms
  • 1 small onion
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) powdered onion soup
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) rosemary
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) thyme
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) smoked spanish paprika
  • 1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) nutmeg
  • 1 glove garlic
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) strong vegetable stock
  • 2 litres (8 cups) strong vegetable stock for poaching

For the stuffing

  • 1 carrot
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) white mushrooms
  • 1 leeks (white part only)
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) vegetable oil

For the veges

  • 4 carrots, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 small rutabaga, cut in 1 cm wide sticks
  • 4 parsnips, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 small onions, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) maple syrup
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • salt to taste

For the purée

  • 1 kg (2¼lbs) potatoes
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) salt
  • 200 g (7 oz) cold vegan butter, in small chunks
  • warm vegan milk, to taste

For the sauce

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) amontillado wine
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) vegan butter

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roast stuffed & tied

roast stuffed & tied

roast & veges ready to go in the oven.

roast & veges ready to bake
roast & veges ready to bake

To make

First make the seitan. In a large food processor finely chop the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Add flour and seasoning and pulse a few times. Add just enough stock to get a very firm dough. Process until smooth. Reserve.

Make the stuffing. Brunoise all the veges. Heat the oil in a sautéing pan, sauter the carrots for a minute, add leeks and mushrooms and sauter a minute more until vegetables are tender and golden. Reserve.

Roll out the seitan into a large rectangle about 1 cm thick. Stuff, roll and seal the edges with water. Tie the roast well.

Poach the roast in a large pot of strong vege stock for 10 mins. Remove and drain.

Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F)

Place roast in large roasting pan, brush with oil and seasoning.

In a bowl toss the vegetables with oil, maple syrup, crushed garlic and salt & pepper to taste. Arrange the veges around the roast. Bake for 45 mins or until veges are done and roast is golden brown.

While roast is baking, make the purée. Peel, slice and rinse the potatoes. In a large pot of water simmer potatoes until soft. Drain and rice the potatoes over a bowl containing the cold butter. When you are ready to serve reheat the purée very gently while gradually whisking in a little warm milk.

When the roast is ready, remove it and the veges to a serving plate. Put the roasting pan on the stove, medium high heat, and deglaze with amontillado, scraping the pan with a spoon to dissolve all the fond. Reduce by 1/3. Remove from heat. Adjust salt and pepper. Add butter a little at the time, stirring well after each addition to incorporate it. Keep warm.

Plate and serve.

Serves 4

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I’m back at my country place for summer! As I’m super busy working outdoors and as my kitchen here is equiped in a much simpler manner, food is quick & low fuss.

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Today this is how lunch is starting out. Add grilled eggplants & mushrooms, couscous and rosé of course!

Preceded by pastis and followed up by a nap…

Enjoy your weekend!

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Grilled spring onions to me equals fiesta! Mexican Cambray onions or Catalan Calçots, spring onions with their slightly bulbous base and tender, delicious flesh are the perfect thing to trough on the grill. I buy mine at my local Mexican grocery. They’re the perfect snack or side. You’ll see it’s so easy to make, this hardly requires a recipe.

Freshly picked Cambray onions

Ingredients

  • 20 Cambray onions
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • coarse salt to taste
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges (to garnish)

Prepare your grill.

Clean the onions and trim the ends, leaving about 15 cm (6″) of green stalk and coat them with oil and salt.

Grill over glowing coals for 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened and lightly charred, turning them a few times (Alternatively, you can broil then for 10 to 12 minutes.)

Serve immediately, garnished with lime wedges.

Serves 4

The sweet, lightly charded onions would pair well with simple German Riesling, but then again, what doesn’t!

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This is really leftovers in disguise. I had some rice ready-made in the fridge and mini pumpkins which needed to be eaten. Combine that with a can of black beans and some dried mushrooms and you have a fast and easy dinner.

Mini pumpkin stuffed with a brown + wild rice, black beans and wild mushrooms mixture spiked with lemon zest. Served with a toasted hazelnut-parsley-pomegranate gremolata.

Here’s how to assemble it.

Cut the top off the pumpkins and clean them.

Rehydrate the mushrooms in hot water. Drain and reserve soaking water for an other recipe.

Sauté some minced onion and garlic. Add the mushrooms and cook 5 minutes untill the onions are golden brown. Remove from heat and reserve.

In a bowl combine the previous mixture with cooked rice and cooked beans. Season to taste with herbs (I used thyme and sage), lemon zest and salt & pepper.

Stuff the pumpkins with this mixture and bake in a 175°C (350°F) oven for 40 minutes or until the pumpkins are done.

Serve sprinkled with gremolata.

The variation possibilities are endless here, various squashes would work well. Just adapt this recipe to use what you have on hand.

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Radish top soup with assorted fresh radishes and buttered bread. Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

For the soup, simply put the cleaned radish top in a pot of boiling vege stock, and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Season to taste and add half a block of silken tofu to the pot before processing with a hand mixer or blender until creamy and smooth.

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Here’s a simple Japanese inspired dinner tonight. I’ve posted variations of most of these recipes before. They’re all very simple and quick, perfect for week night.

The menu:

Baked shiitake & pleurote w sesame oil, garlic and lemon juice
Spicy sautéed green beans
Fat and tender okra roasted with yaki glaze
Cold cha soba w garnishes and dipping sauce

We paired this with Akitabare koshiki junzukuri “Northern skies” saké  which went very well with the mushroom dish but something sweeter would have been better the beans and okra.

Spicy sautéed green beans

Ingredients

  • 30 ml (2 tbsps) peanut or canola oil
  • 500 gr (1 pound) green beans, trimmed, washed, dried
  • 3 dried hot chilis, cut up
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) ginger, minced
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) chili with garlic sauce
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) rice wine vinegar
  • 60 ml (4 tbsps) mirin
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) sugar
  • 45 ml (3 tbsps) tamari
  • 15 ml (1 tbps) toasted sesame oil
  • salt to taste
  • 30 ml (2 tbsps) toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

In a wok on high heat, heat 30 ml oil until hot. Add the dried chilis, garlic and ginger. Stir briskly for about 30 seconds. Add the string beans and cook 4-5 minutes until done but still crispy. Then add the vinegar, wine, sugar, chili sauce and salt, and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil, stir, and serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.

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To be happy I need a generous daily dose of straight up greens, relatively unaltered and preferably raw. Here’s what it looked like today.

Kale and wakame salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 20 gr wakame seaweed, rehydrated and drained well
  • 3 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 30 ml raw tahini
  • 30 ml toasted sesame oil
  • 30 ml wheat free tamari
  • 45 ml rice wine vinegar
  • 60 ml water
  • 15 ml sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 45 ml sesame seed

Clean and chop kale. Rehydrate wakame in plenty of warm water until tender. Drain well. Thinly slice scallions. Combine these 3 ingredients in a large salad bowl.

Put tahini, sesame oil, tamari, rice wine vinegar, water, sriracha, garlic and ginger in a blender and process until creamy and smooth. Pour the dressing on the salad, adjust seasoning to taste and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Let sit for an hour for flavours to combine.

Unlike many other salads, this one keeps well in the fridge overnight.

serves 6

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Do you see a pattern emerging here?… What can I say, tomatoes are in season and my tiny urban garden is bursting with them! This salad was homegrown except for the crunchy little Persian cucumbers. Grow your own food, it tastes so much better!

Cherry tomatoes and Persian cucumbers salad.

Ingredients

  • 500 ml (2 cups) cherry tomatoes
  • 500 ml (2 cups) persian cucumbers
  • one handful fresh lime basil leaves
  • one handful fresh mint leaves
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) Extra Virgen olive oil
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) apple cider vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Trim and cut the cucumbers in quarters length wise then slice across thickly. Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves. Roll up the basil leaves tightly and cut into thin strips. Repeat with mint. Combine all ingredients into a large salad bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.

Serves 4

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I had been craving zucchini blossoms for weeks and could not find them at all. It always blows me away when I can’t fin something in NYC. I mean seriously, this is NYC how could it not have XYZ?!? Specially food stuff. Why can’t I just reach for puntarelle, zucchini blossoms, chestnuts, preserved lemons, vin jaune, pain poilâne, vegan crème fraîche, ok maybe that last one is pushing it a little but you get what I saying.

Anyway, I finally found zucchini blossoms last weekend at the Grand Army plaza market. This is what came of it.

Stuffed zucchini blossoms with fava beans and garlic scapes
(sorry for the crappy photo, there was no light left at all)

For the Fava Beans

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg (3 pounds) unshelled young fresh fava beans
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) garlic scapes, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • salt
  • lemon juice

Shell, blanch and peel the fava beans.

Sauté the garlic scapes in the oil until for a minute. Stir in beans, add water and simmer, covered, for 8 to 12 minutes until the beans are tender.

Add salt and pepper, turn up the heat and cook uncovered until the last of the water has evaporated.

Remove from heat and reserve.

For the stuffed zucchini blossoms

Ingredients

  • 18 zucchini blossoms
  • 350 ml (12 oz) beer
  • 75 ml (5 Tbsp) flour
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) corn starch
  • 60 gr (2 oz) firm tofu
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • one recipe of vegan ricotta
  • vegetable oil for frying

Trim the stems, remove the pistils and very gently wash and dry of the zucchini blossoms.

Prepare the batter by combining the beer, flour, tofu and salt and pepper. Process in a high power blender until creamy. Keep aside.

Use a pastry bag (or a small ziplock) to fill the blossoms with cheese. Reserve.

Heat the oil to 175ºC  (350ºF).

One by one, dip each stuffed blossoms in the batter and drop them in the hot oil. Fry in small batches until golden brown.

To plate

Put a few spoonfuls of beans on each plates. Drizzle with more olive oil and lemon juice. Top with blossoms. Serve right away.

Yields 6 mains or 10 appetizers.

Wine pairing

I would suggest a dry Italian white. Be adventurous, move away from the standard Pinot Grigio and try an herbal Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli, a more floral Vernaccia di San Gimignano or a crisp, mineral and citrusy Vermentino or Trebbiano d’Abruzzo instead.

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Here’s an other one from the country vacation folder. As usual it’s easy to make and can quickly be thrown together.

Pissaladière is a Niçoise onion tart eaten as an appetizer. The classic version does not have tomatoes and takes longer to prepare as you need to compote the onions first. Here I’ve made it with store-bought puff pastry which I had lying around but bread dough is more traditional.

Roma tomatoes over puff pastry, topped with homegrown golden oregano.
Just out of the BBQ.

Ingredients

  • store-bought puff pastry dough
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 6 Italian plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 20 oil-cured black olives, sliced or left whole
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh oregano
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh thyme
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pre-heat BBQ on highest setting.

Thinly roll out the dough and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Spread the garlic, tomatoes, onions, olive and herbs out evenly on the dough. Spray with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat to the lowest setting and put the Pissaladière in the BBQ. Bake with the lid closed for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 6-8

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The first fresh shell peas of summer are a gorgeous thing. This super fast and simple recipe is all about them.

Fresh shell pea soup garnished with pea shoots and peas.

Ingredients

  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 1 french shallot, chopped
  • 700 ml (3 cups) fresh shelled peas
  • 1 L (4 cups) homemade mild vegetable stock
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) soy cooking cream
  • 1 spring fresh lemon thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garnish to taste

  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Fresh pea shoots
  • Chopped chives
  • Croutons

Directions

In a stockpot, heat oil on medium heat. Add shallot and sautée until soft, about 5 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil, add peas then reduce to a simmer. Cover pot and cook until peas are soft, about 7 minutes.

Remove from heat, and add soy cream. Blend soup with stick blender, or process in a blender until completely smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle soup into individual serving bowls and garnish with your choice of ingredients.

This soup is also nice served chilled garnished with plain soy yogurt and mint.

Chilled fresh pea soup with mint and soy yogurt.

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This is my default country vacation meal.

As much as I love cooking, when I’m in the country I rarely go all out as I’m usually too busy building, planting or fixing something to take the time to make a gourmet meal. So I usually just slice up some fresh vegetables and season them up simply before tossing them on the BBQ. A green salad, some good bread and of course wine, rounds it up.

Grilled veges drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

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Bean tostada

Here’s an other “it’s too hot to bother with cooking” summer meal.

The tortilla was crisped in the oven instead of fried then topped with homemade bean chili which was kicking around the back of the freezer. I added chopped up lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and onions then some chipotle salsa and garnished it with fresh cilantro and a wedge of lime. Vegan crema or cheese could be added but I didn’t feel the need.

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Not much of a recipe here, just a beautiful cauliflower roasted to perfection. I find that roasting cauliflower brings out its sweet nuttiness. And it looks great too.

Clean the cauliflower and leave it whole. Spay an oven proof dish with a little olive oil, put the cauliflower in it and spray with olive oil as well. Sprinkle with salt and roast in a 200°C (400°F) oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown but still firm.

Delicious served with a sage brown “butter” or a bechamel sauce.

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I love baby artichokes! Specially the tiny purple artichokes from Provence called “Poivrade”, so tender they can be eaten raw. They’re hard to find on this side of the ocean but so worth the hunt. Here’s a simple recipe that lets them shine.

Spaghetti with crispy baby artichokes, lemon, capers and parsley.

Ingredients

  • 16 baby artichokes
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) capers, drained
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 3 shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 500 gr (1 pound) spaghetti
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of one lemon, grated (organic and untreated)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp) fresh parsley, chopped

Have a bowl of water with the half the lemon juice standing by. Pull off the outer leaves from each artichoke, leaving only the inner, light green ones. Cut off the sharp tips and trim the stringy parts from the bottoms. Drop the trimmed artichokes (still whole) into the water & lemon juice mix, so they don’t discolor.

In a large frying pan, heat 30 ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil and sauté the garlic, shallots and capers until lightly browned. Season with sea salt and pepper. Remove and set aside, leaving the seasoned oil in the pan.

Using a sharp knife, slice the artichokes into 1/4-inch slices length wise. On a medium-low heat sauté until crispy brown on both sides. Work in batches, removing the finished slices to a paper towel to drain. Drizzle the pan with more olive oil as needed.

Cook the spaghetti in salted water. When you drain the pasta, reserve 2 cups of the pasta water.

Deglaze the pan with 30 ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil and 1 cup of the pasta water. Put the capers-garlic-shallots sauté back in the pan. Mix well and reduce the volume of the liquid by half. Add the spaghetti and toss to coat. If the sauce needs more liquid, add a little more pasta water. Add the lemon juice and zest. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste and toss well.

Serve the pasta topped with the crispy baby artichoke slices and chopped parsley.

Serves 4

Inspired by a New York Times recipe.

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Yes more morels and asparagus! This is the last one for a while I think, unless I dig up an other one from my archive folder…

Lemon risotto with sautéed morels and grilled asparagus.

For risotto

Ingredients

350 ml (1 1/2 cups) short grain rice preferably Carnaroli or Vialone Nano
750 ml (3 cups) homemade vegetable stock (or best store-bought, there may be some left over)
115 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
1 small onion, finely chopped
15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil
vegan cooking cream (not coffee creamer!)
freshly ground nutmeg to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
45 ml (3 Tbsp) lemon juice
30 ml (2 Tbsp) lemon zest, grated

In a small saucepan bring stock to a simmer and keep hot.

In a medium size heavy saucepan, cook onion in the oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add white wine and simmer until evaporated. Raise heat to medium high and add hot stock gradually in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly. After approximately 17 minutes, when rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, take off the heat, add soy cream, lemon juice & zest and stir well.

Cover to rest 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately after.

The asparagus were sprayed with olive oil and grilled a couple of minutes on each side. The morels were sautéed as per this recipe.

To plate

Use a form to make a little risotto cylinder in each plate. Arrange a few asparagus and several morels next to it and garnish with chives and a red pepper ribbon.

Serves 4

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Choose smallest, most tender, violet or poivrade baby artichokes for this recipe. This smaller variety has almost no choke and the inner half is very tender and are entirely edible. They have a mild bitter taste with notes of hazelnut.

Baby purple artichoke salad

Ingredients

  • 16 baby artichokes cleaned and very thinly sliced
  • Vinegar or lemon juice for soaking
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil, more as necessary
  • 1 Purple shallots, minced
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the artichokes carefully. Remove the outer leaves, cut off the top 1/2 cm (1/4 inch). Slice thinly with mandoline. As each artichoke is finished, drop slices into a bowl of cold water with about 10 percent vinegar or lemon juice.

Prepare the vinaigrette:  In a bowl, combine the zest and lemon juice, olive oil, shallots. Reserve.

Remove artichoke slices from water and dry. Toss with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and parsley and serve.

For a variation, you could had thinly sliced cultivated mushrooms to the artichokes and serve on a bed of aragula.

Serves 4

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This is from 3 weeks ago. It was my last ramps dish of the year and my first try making vegan soufflé. It worked out quite well. Unfortunately I was so eager to serve them before they cooled and collapsed that I forgot to take an after picture! Sorry about that. I’ll make it again and post a proper photo soon.

Ramps soufflés ready to go in the oven

Ingredients

  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch ramps, white and green part, chopped
  • 1 package of firm silken tofu
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) baking powder
  • 1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) lemon juice
  • grated zest of 1/2 a lemon (organic and untreated is a must when you use zest)
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) fresh lemon thyme, chopped
  • 45 ml (3 Tbsp) fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F) degrees.

Spray your soufflé dish or ramekins with oil and sprinkle with flour.

Heat the oil in a skillet, add white parts of ramps and sauté on medium heat for 2 minutes or until tender. Add green parts of ramps and wilt, 20 seconds. Remove from heat.

Put all remaining ingredients in a blender along with the ramps and process until smooth and creamy.

Pour the batter in the souflé dish and bake until puffy and golden brown, about 30 minutes

Serve immediately or watch it collapse!

Serves 4

Inspired by this What The Hell Does A Vegan Eat Anyway? recipe.

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Yup, an other rice and morels recipe… This one is from last year. I’m posting it now as it is seasonal. I can’t remember for the life of me what these foraged greens were. It was a bit like purslane but slightly bigger and had a very mild bitter taste. Any other greens would work in its place. The morels (these were quite large) were cleaned very well then stuffed with my vegan ricotta using a pastry bag and oven baked for 25 minutes.

Wild asparagus risotto, wilted greens and stuffed morels


For the risotto

Ingredients

  • 350 ml (1 1/2 cups) short grain rice preferably Carnaroli or Vialone Nano
  • 750 ml (3 cups) homemade vegetable stock (or best store-bought, there may be some left over)
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
  • 1 small bunch of tiny wild asparagus, cleaned, trimmed and cut into 5 cm lengths
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) vegan cooking cream (not coffee creamer!)
  • freshly ground nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring stock to a simmer and keep hot.

In a medium size heavy saucepan, cook onion in the oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add white wine and simmer until evaporated. Raise heat to medium high and add hot stock gradually in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly. After approximately 17 minutes, when rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, take off the heat, add asparagus and soy cream and stir well to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible.

Cover and rest 2-3 minutes.

To plate.

Divide risotto between 4 plates, top with wilted greens and finish with a few morels per plates. Serve immediately after. Risotto does not wait very well at all.

Serves 4

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I’ve been too busy to blog lately so I’ve got some catching to do with the spring recipes… This one is from mid-April when the wild violets were in bloom.

I love cooking and eating wild food. This simple salad is made of market bought “wild” arugula and small pea shoots augmented with foraged wild garlic mustard, violets and sassafras flowers, topped with almonds slivers, black sesame seeds and cherry tomatoes. The dressing was a simple vinaigrette made with olive oil, Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar.

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Here’s an other super easy spring inspired dish. Cheap to make if you forage your own morels but can get quite pricy if you buy them. This would also work just as well with chanterelles or other wild mushrooms.

morels2Polenta with morels, sunchoke chips and herbed oil

Polenta

Ingredients

  • 1 L (4 1/4 cups) water
  • 250 ml (1 cup) regular polenta
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) salt

In a large pot, bring water to a boil with salt and garlic, turn down heat and simmer 15 mins or until garlic is tender. Remove the garlic, puré and return to the pot. Bring water back to a boil then add nutmeg and polenta in a thin stream, whisking. Cook over moderate heat, whisking for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer polenta for 45 minutes, covered, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Sunchoke chips

Ingredients

  • 250 gr (1/2 pound) sunchokes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 125 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil for frying
  • salt to taste

Fry the sliced sunchokes in very hot oil until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel and dust with salt.

Sautéed morels

Ingredients

  • 500 gr (1 pound) fresh morels
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 125 ml (4 tbsp) dry Jerez
  • salt and pepper

Clean the surface of the morels as best you can. Slice in half lengthwise and clean inside. Rinse well and drain.

In the skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the morels. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture has almost completely evaporated, approx 20 mins. Add Jerez and cook, stirring until absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.

Herbed oil

Ingredients

  • 125 ml (4 tbsp) sunflower oil or safflower oil
  • handful of chervil
  • handful of chives

Wash and dry the herbs. Place the herbs and oil together and a blender and process until puréed. Strain the mixture through a very fine sieve. Reserve the oil.

To plate

Divide polenta between 4 plates. Top with several sun choke chips and finish with the 1/4 of morels per plate. Drizzle oil around the polenta and serve warm.

Serves 4

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And now for a little culinary humour…

Pink mashed potatoes, sautéed asparagus and sugar snap peas, roasted tomato.

Ingredients

4 large potatoes, peeled and cut
4 cloves of garlic, whole
1 small red beet, peeled and cut into cubes
125 ml (1/2 cup) non-dairy milk
125 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes, garlic and beet together until the beet is tender. Warm the milk and stock. Put the beet, garlic, milk and stock in a blender and puré. Mash the potatoes, add the pink cream, salt and pepper and mix well. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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I’m not a big fan of store-bought vege burgers. I find they have no taste and the list of ingredients frightens me. When I feel like digging my fork into something “meaty” I make my own variation.

Tofu burger with roasted garlic and mushrooms, shallots-Jerez jus, sautéed spinach and oven fries.

This is my recipe for vege burgers. For approx the same price of a box of boring store-bought stuff you’ll get something homemade and toothsome.

Ingredients

  • 454 gm (16 oz) extra firm tofu, mashed
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 240 ml (1 cup) mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) smoked Spanish paprika
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) freshly grated nutmeg
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh rosemary, minced
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) Jerez wine
  • sea salt to taste

Heat a sauteing pan on medium-high heat, spray with oil, add onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook until brown. Deglaze the pan with Jerez. Remove from heat and cool.

In a mixing bowl, combined above mixture with tofu, vital wheat gluten flour, chipotle peppers, paprika, nutmeg, rosemary and salt. Mix by hand until all ingredients are combined. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 200°C (400°F). Form 8 patties with the tofu mixture. Put on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 minutes turning once.

Serves 8

Tofu burgers just out of the oven

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I had some leftover fire roasted Piquillo peppers in the fridge and instead of eating it straight from the can and then drinking the juice (it was very tempting) I decided to make a simple lunch of it.

I made a tostada with good crusty bead, toasted and spread generously with a roasted garlic purée, then I layered on the peppers and Dr Cow aged cashew cheese and drizzle with good Spanish olive oil. Served with a simple green salad, it made for an awesome lunch.

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I was in the mood for a Calçotada but being short of Calçot (they just didn’t have them at the Union square market today), here’s the menu for our Catalan spring feast.

Menu

Olives &  Marcona Almonds
Pa amb Tomàquet (bread with tomato)
Xampinyons a l’all (sautéed mushrooms with garlic)

Espinacs a la Catalana (spinach with raisins and pine nuts)
Arròs a l’Empordanesa
Crema Catalana

Arròs a l’empordanesa

Could this look any more like a shot from a 1970 cookbook?

This rice dish “in the style of Emporda” (a region in north-east Catalunya), is similar in style to paella. Traditionally, the main ingredient are rovellon mushrooms which grow in that area and are pretty much impossible to buy elsewhere, but other flavourful wild mushrooms will do. The addition of almond and pimentón give a smokey richness to the dish.

Ingredients

  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onions, thinly sliced
  • 115 gr (4 oz) wild mushrooms, sliced
  • 115 ml (1/2 c) dry white wine
  • 3 cloves of garlic, made into a paste with a mortar and pestle
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, grated
  • 25 gr (1 oz) almonds, toasted
  • 60 ml (1/4 c) fresh parsley, chopped, plus more to garnish
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch Spanish saffron
  • 350 ml  (1 1/2 c) Bomba rice (substitute good short-grain rice if unavailable)
  • 600 ml (2 1/2 c) vegetable stock
  • 115 ml (1/2 c) fresh peas
  • 115 ml (1/2 c) white beans, cooked
  • 60 ml (1/4 c) pimientos del piquillo, julienned
  • 3 artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • salt to taste
  • lemon wedges, to garnish

Serves: 4-6

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 175°C (350°F).

Heat the olive oil in a large paella pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onions and sauté until golden brown, then add white wine and cook until nearly completely reduced.

Add the garlic paste and tomato. Let simmer for 15 minutes, season with salt to taste.

Using a mortar and pestle, make a paste with the almonds, parsley, paprika, cayenne and saffron. Reserve.

Add the rice to the pan and stir, cook for 3 minutes. Add the paste to the pan and stir.

Finally, pour in enough sock to cover the whole dish and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until most of the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente.

Scatter with peas and white beans, add peppers and artichoke over the rice.

Return dish to oven and turn off the heat. Continue cooking until the rice is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Garnish with more parsley and lemon wedges.

Wines

There were a few… And I have to say I have a slight headache this morning, wouldn’t have been a proper Catalan party without.

Raventós I Blanc L’Hereu, Cava Brut Reserva
Producer: Raventós i Blanc
Varietal: 60% Macabeo, 20% Xarel-lo and 20% Parellada
Vintage: NV
Region: Cataluna, Spain
D.O.: Cava
12%
$20

A really great Cava at a decent price. Bright and lively with tiny, persistent bubbles and refreshing acidity. Aromas of lemon, green apple and mineral.

La Gitana Manzanilla
Producer: Bodegas Hidalgo
Grape: Palomino Fino
Vintage: NV
Region: Andalucía
D.O.: Sanlúcar de Barrameda – Jerez
15%
$18 for 500 ml

A Classic in Spain’s tapas bar, this is the most popular Manzanilla and one of the finest. Ideal with tapas but also works great as a table wine.

Pale straw color, bone dry yet rich, salty, seaside flavor with a hint of nuttiness and mineral.

Check the bottling date on the back label and drink within a year of bottling (at max.). Leftover wine, kept in the fridge, is fantastic for cooking.

Gessamí Gramona
Producer: Bodegas Gramona
Grape: 50% Muscat of Alexandria, 20% Muscat of Frontignan, 25% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% de Gewürztraminer
Vintage: 2008
Region: Cataluña
D.O.: Penedés
12%
$21

Pale golden-green colour. Very aromatic and fresh with notes of jasmine, fennel and citrus.

Camins del Priorat 2007
Producer: Alvaro Palacios
Grape: 50% Cariñena, 40% Garnacha, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
Vintage: 2007
Region: Cataluña
D.O.: Priorat
14%
$24

If L’Ermita doesn’t quite fit your budget (it certainly doesn’t fit mine!) you might want to try this much better priced wine by the same superstar maker.

Bright and fruity with aromas of plum, red berries and pepper. Its ripe tannins and silky texture make it a great food wine.

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