Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Pizza

Christmas Pizza, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Another pizza in our long quest for the perfect pizza dough. This was really close, but probably not ready for posting the recipe yet.

In an effort to be Christmasy, we put lots of red and green peppers on the pizza and added some chopped olives and chevre cheese.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Israeli Couscous with Spiced Tofu

I used to hate couscous. I had couscous two different times when I was younger and both times it was terrible (or so I thought). I am going through a faze where I don't want to hate any food, so I am going through the things I really don't like and trying to like them. In the case of couscous, this has been a success. Recently we have had 3 or 4 different dishes that contained various types of couscous that have all been wonderful.

The first couscous dish that started my new found love of couscous was Israeli Couscous and Mushroom Pilaf with Spiced Tofu from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen. The pilaf contains olive oil, cremini mushrooms, onion, Israeli couscous (a somewhat large size couscous), garlic, rosemary, dried cherries, and salt and pepper. The spiced tofu contains tofu, paprika, cinnamon, salt and olive oil.

The tofu was incredibly tasty and I think that I would like to have it just by itself for breakfast. The couscous was very tasty too and I really liked the combination of the mushrooms and dried cherries.

Now that couscous is on the menu, I have many many more recipes to choose from that I was avoiding for a long time.

Monday, December 15, 2008

tofu & potatoes

tofu & potatoes, originally uploaded by steffan.

tofu scramble: mushrooms, tofu, onions, rosemary, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper and tumeric

potatoes: potatoes, steamed, salted and peppered then finished in peanut oil until golden on two sides, in the last three minutes add 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses and one crushed clove of garlic.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Broccoli Burritos

Broccoli Burritos, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

This burrito is an homage to the broccoli burritos that my mom used to make when I was a kid.

The beans are just refried beans from a can (Bearitos, Amy's, or Rosarita vegetarian brands are pretty good), the rice is just prepared jasmin rice, the avocado is just avocado mashed with a little bit of lime juice and salt, and the salsa is jarred salsa (in this case Amy's roasted veggie salsa). The broccoli is what makes these burritos special.

The broccoli is cleaned and cut into florets. Then we run it through a champion juicer without the juicing attachment on the bottom. This results in a fairly uniform shredded broccoli. You could probably duplicate this by running it through the shredder on a food processor or chopping it up pretty small with a chef's knife.

Once the broccoli is shredded, it gets added to a pan where chopped onions and a little bit of garlic have been softening in a little bit of oil or butter. A little bit of chili powder and soy sauce gets added to taste and then cook the broccoli until done.

All of these components then go into a tortilla and eaten. (There is a debate as to whether the beans or the rice should go onto the tortillas first--I prefer rice first, the Crusader prefers beans first, but you can decide that for yourself). You can also add some cheddar cheese and/or some plain yogurt (instead of sour cream) on top. These are very tasty even though they are not the prettiest burritos.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fresh out of the oven

More apple pie, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

I have been craving apple pie like nobody's business. Thanksgiving seemed like a good excuse to make one again. This is again the recipe from that crazy religious cookbook Ten Talents.

I was much more haphazard when making this pie than I am normally. I barely looked at the recipe and just kind of threw things into the pot and into the pie. The pie is cooling now so we have not tried it yet, but it is bound to be cool soon given how cold it is in our apartment.

I'm sure it will be pretty good though because the apples that went into it were all good. I used half granny smith and half pink lady apples. Both varieties were really tasty, but the pink lady apples were a very pleasant surprise. I usually like to use half sweet and half sour apples in the pie. The old standby, granny smith, is always good for the sour apples. I chose the pink lady apples because they smelled amazing as I went by them in the store, but as it turns out their are not all that sweet. They are actually a perfect crisp, slightly sour, slightly sweet apple that should work well in the pie (even if it is on the sour side), but would also be very good just as a lovely crunchy snack. I am going to have to get some more of these pink lady apples.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Carrot Ice Cream

carrot ice cream

It was time for a potluck at work, and usually I use this opportunity to experiment with odd ice cream flavors.

This time it was carrot, which was a really unique and tasty ice cream flavor. In order not to kill the raw carrot flavor, which is very subtle, I went with a gelato base, which used half and half rather than heavy cream.

2 eggs, beaten with 1/2 cup sugar until light yellow.
Mix in 1 and 1/2 cup half and half
1 cup of freshly juiced and filtered carrot juice
You should not use any of the commercial carrot juices, because thanks to the Odwalla lawsuits of the late nineties, these are now all pasteurized. Pasteurization, even flash pasteurization, makes the carrots taste coppery, and eliminates much of their natural sweetness.

Pour this into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

This will turn out well, slightly dense, like a gelato. But it will not keep in the freezer, and will ice up and solidify if stored there, so make this when you have enough people to eat a whole quart of ice cream, which won't be much of a chore in this case.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beer Cheese Soup!

beer cheese soup

This is a recipe from April 13th, 2007. We made it again recently, and it was just as tasty as before. This beer cheese soup is fantastic with a nice roll or two for dipping.

Cut up about four small potatoes, and start them boiling.

While the potatoes are boiling, sweat some aromatics.

Cut up a stalk of celery and one large, or two small, leeks. Don't forget the leeks.

Start some olive oil (About a tablespoon,) in the bottom of your soup pot. Add the leeks, the celery, and a teaspoon or more of fresh thyme leaves. A pinch of salt will sweat out the water in the aromatics. Cook these over medium-low heat until they have a tiny bit of color on the edges and are soft.

Crack open a beer. Pour a little into the pot, enough to just cover the bottom of the pot, lower heat and then let the leeks, etc simmer in the beer until very soft, 15 minutes.

At this point, (if the potatoes are done,) drain the potatoes, and reserve some of the water. (Two or three cups.)

Turn the heat up to medium, add the drained potatoes to the onions, and some chipotle paste...

What, you don't have chipotle paste? Here's what you do...

Take 1 can of Chipotle in Adobo sauce (available in the ethnic food aisle, in the Mexican food section, it should be about $1.40,) grind the whole can of chipotles and the adobo sauce (open the can and get all the stuff out, I mean,) anyhow, blend that into a paste in a blender or food processor. Put the resulting paste in one of those yogurt containers that you washed out and stuck into the junk drawer. (Yes, I know you do that.) Pour just enough canola oil over it to keep air off the surface. When you want to use some, pour off the oil, and use about a teaspoon to a tablespoon at a time, then pour the oil back on. When you get the paste out, use a CLEAN spoon, and don't touch the oil or the paste in the container at all. This will ensure that this will keep in the fridge as your new super-condiment for about 3 to 4 months. (Mix some with ketchup and dip your soy corn dogs or french fries in it. Killer.)

We now return to soup.

Like I was saying, add a teaspoon or more of the chipotle paste and the rest of the beer. (Or another whole one, if you already drank the rest of the first one.) Adjust the seasoning. It should be a little less than salty, because the cheese (you forgot about the cheese, didn't you?) the cheese is salty. Anyhow, cook this until the alcohol burns off, about twenty minutes.

Run all of this through a food mill, or blend with a stick blender until smooth. If the soup is too thick, add some of the potato water until it is the texture of your choice. (Or some more beer, or just normal water.)

Grate up some cheddar cheese, I'd say 4 to 6 ounces, add it a small handful at a time, stir constantly, until it melts into the soup, then add another small handful, etc. Repeat until all the cheese is incorporated into the soup.

Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking, and serve!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pear Raspberry Pie

pear raspberry pie, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

We have a few homemade dishes to blog about, but instead I'm going to blog about this amazing pie we got last night at a place called Mission Pie, which, aptly enough, is located in the Mission district here in San Francisco.

I am a big pie lover--especially fruit pie and I have never found any pie place in San Francisco that made good pie (other than our own kitchen)--until now. We were talking about how much we wanted some pie, but neither one of us wanted to make any. So, out of desperation, I searched the internet again for the "best pie" in San Francisco. Mission Pie, a fairly new place, caught my eye.

So, with fairly low expectations, we drove down into the mission in the rain and found a parking space right across the street from Mission Pie (it is not an easy task to park close to your destination here in SF--I viewed it as a good omen). We went into the pie place and were pleasantly surprised by the choices. I originally wanted apple pie, but when I saw the pear raspberry pie, I had to try it. The Crusader got the walnut pie. As of this posting a substantial slice of pie is $3.50 and a whole pie is $18.00.

We took our slices of pie home and ate them with some peppermint tea. The pies were amazing. The pears were wonderfully tender and the tart raspberries were delicious. Much to my delight, neither pie was too sweet (which is a common problem with pie) and the crust was flaky and delicious.

From now on when we want pie and don't want to make it, we are going to get it from Mission Pie. What is really cool is that we will also be supporting Pie Ranch, which is affiliated with Mission Pie. Pie Ranch is an educational center that teaches young people about the full cycle of food production from farm to table among other things. Fun stuff and worth supporting.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mac and Cheese and Salad

mac and cheese and salad, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Comfort meals are all the rage at our place now that the weather is getting colder. The mac and cheese is from the Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook and is another winner. There is some cheese in the recipe, but it is mostly tofu, onions, miso, and some other ingredients blended up to make the sauce. The top of the baked mac and cheese should have more browning on it, but our oven is not so good at browning. Our landlord basically got the cheapest new model of appliances for our kitchen (but hey, at least we got new appliances). This worked out pretty good for the dishwasher and the fridge, but the stove is seriously lacking. It does ultimately do the job though, so we can't complain too much.

The cheese sauce for the pasta is actually is the last thing that our blender blended before it died. You may remember me complaining about our blender being not so great. Well, the motor didn't give out, but the plastic piece holding the jar to the base completely disintegrated (I blame the bad air in Philly when we lived there). It did manage to completely blend the cheese sauce before it died, so it at least had good timing. Now it is new blender time. We'll let you know how the new blender works out when we get it.

The salad that we had with the mac and cheese is just some store bought salad mix with a quickie dressing that the Crusader whipped up. He crushed some heirloom cherry tomatoes in a mortar with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and some other tasty stuff (I think lemon juice was one of the things in there). It turned out really good, but then the Crusader has the magic food touch, so pretty much everything he makes is good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Academy of Sciences Lunch

academy of sciences lunch, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

After much anticipation, the California Academy of Sciences has reopened in Golden Gate Park. We waited a few weeks to go since it seemed like it would be a madhouse right after it opened. Well, it was still a madhouse on a Saturday, but we arrived early enough to enjoy the the academy before the huge crowds showed up. We worked up quite an appetite going through the amazing "rainforest" and new aquarium exhibits, so we stopped at the cafe for some lunchy snacks.

The cafe was filled with all kinds of yummy treats, but they were quite overpriced. I suppose you can't feel too bad when the profits are going to the academy, but be warned that this cafe is not cheap. The majority of the food was really healthy (I resisted the urge to get french fries). We tried to get a variety of things that would not be too filling. We ended up with veggie spring rolls, a veggie bun and a chicken bun, a strawberry tart, and a shared organic orange soda.

Everything was delicious. The spring rolls were filled with tofu, shiitake mushrooms, mint, carrots, and rice noodles and the accompanying peanut sauce was not to heavy. The buns were delicious and we suspect that they came from the Slanted Door since they tasted identical to buns we've had there before. The strawberry tart was an almond tart with sliced strawberries on top and it tasted as good as it looked.

So, if you are ever in San Francisco, definitely check out the Academy of Sciences because it is amazing. And if you are willing to spend around $20 for a light lunch for two, know that the food will at least be tasty for that price.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ratatouille Open-Faced Sandwich

We have a couple of new cookbooks thanks to the library book sale and so far so good. This recipe comes from the Horn of the Moon Cookbook. The Horn of the Moon was a vegetarian restaurant in Vermont, but it looks like it closed a few years ago. That is really too bad because the recipes in this book look really good.

The ratatouille open-faced sandwich is (in this case) a french bread roll topped with a lovely ratatouille mixture and jack and parmesan cheese. The ratatouille contains onions, garlic, basil, oregano, eggplant, zucchini, red bell pepper, tomatoes, olive oil, and salt and pepper. We have been getting really good oregano this year and it really made the ratatouille.

We had lots of the ratatouille mixture left over after making two really large sandwiches. We put some of it on an eggy crumpet for breakfast and it was super tasty. An eggy crumpet is just a crumpet soaked in an egg and then fried in a pan like french toast. It is very good in both savory and sweet applications for breakfast. I think that the rest of the leftover ratatouille mixture will end up in some pasta sauce tonight. This recipe is a pretty good one to stretch over many meals or will easily feed 4 people or more on the first go round.

Just a quick note: the posts on this blog might slow down a bit because I am once again entering the working world after a bit of a hiatus. We will do our best to keep up though and you might end up seeing some more restaurant food in the mix.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lonely Cupcakes

lonely cupcakes, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

I am not often a fan of chocolate, but I've had the apartment to myself for a week and for some reason all I wanted last night was a giant chocolate brownie. Since I didn't want to drive around looking for a brownie, I looked at what I had at home and found out that I had everything to make the basic chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I did cheat, however, and used left over buttermilk in the fridge instead of soy milk and vinegar as called for in the recipe so these cupcakes are not vegan. I also made a half recipe because I can't image eating a dozen cupcakes all by myself. I also didn't make any frosting because that would just be too decadent.

The cupcakes came out very well and when I crave chocolate in the future this will be a good recipe to turn to. The light in the kitchen was really weird because the kitchen light was reflecting off of the cookbook stand, but the picture is fairly representative of what the cupcakes actually looked like.

That reminds me to talk about cookbook stands. Before we got a cookbook stand, we struggled with getting our cookbooks to stay open when we cooked and the cookbooks always got really messy. We finally invested in a cookbook stand and it is one of the best purchases we have made for our kitchen. We use it just about every time we cook so it was a pretty good investment. If you use cookbooks when you cook a cookbook stand is a must have. The one we use is made by "clear solutions" and is cheapest at the container store if you are interested. It works great.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tahini Broccoli Pasta Bake

This recipe from the Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook is such a great comfort food recipe. We keep coming back to this recipe again and again. The broccoli is covered up by cheese and breadcrumbs in the picture, but there is quite a bit of it in there. The sauce is really delicious, but unusual too. Soft tofu, tahini, onions, and spices make up the creamy sauce that is blended in a food processor. The sauce is mixed with a bunch of broccoli and partly cooked pasta and then topped with breadcrumbs and cheese and baked until all the flavors meld and the cheese melts. We used a cheddar cheese on top that was not very melty, but really good none-the-less.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Crisp Tortillas with Pattypan Squash, Eggplant, and Tomato

eggplant squash tortilla, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

This dish from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen is the best thing that I have tasted in a long time. It is so simple, yet full of flavor. Everything really came together in order to make this recipe. Our local co-op had beautiful pattypan squash and lovely small firm white eggplants. In addition to these tasty veggies, the recipe contains lots of olive oil, garlic, chipotle chili in adobo sauce, tomato, cilantro, lime juice and the recipe calls for queso fresco, but we used feta.

Again this is a one pot meal (although we browned the tortillas in a different skillet) which was ready in less than an hour. Our white eggplants turned purple when cooked which I found to be quite interesting. We had lots of the veggie mixture left over so we had this again for lunch the next day. We heated the veggies in the microwave and browned the tortillas in the pan. It was just as good the next day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lentils and Wild Greens

Italian Lentils, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

The greens that we used in this dish are sadly not wild, but no less tasty. This is another fabulous recipe from Verdura, Vegetables Italian Style. It contains mustard greens, lots of olive oil, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, fresh oregano, fresh rosemary, Italian parsley, basil, brown lentils, tomatoes, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

I usually think that lentils are just okay, but this dish came out really great. The bitter greens and lemon juice really make the dish, but it is surely a joint effort with all of the other tasty ingredients. This recipe is a throw everything into one pot recipe, which is nice and is ready in less than an hour. I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but every recipe we have tried out of this book has been a real winner.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Baby Broccoli and Feta Pizza

Our pizza journey continues. This is the last of the huge batch of pizza dough so this should be the last pizza for a while.

The toppings here include baby broccoli (a tasty surprise at the store--this was the perfect use for this lovely tender stuff), cherry tomatoes, green olives, feta cheese, and of course, more jarred pizza sauce.

The process of getting the pizza dough to the pizza stone in the oven still needs some work so this pizza had some thin spots, but it was delicious. I have decided that baby broccoli is a perfect pizza topping.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Savory Asian Inspired "French Toast"

Maybe this should be called "French Colonial" toast. Optimistic wanted something savory for breakfast, and I wanted French Toast. Sometimes you just have to go where the journey takes you, even if it sounds crazy.

But sometimes crazy isn't all bad. This "experiment" was actually good, and not just a little bit good, but really really good.

First, make the avocado-tomato salad, mix the following in a bowl and set aside:

1/2 avocado, diced (we had a half an avocado, if you have a whole one, this recipe could easily utilize twice as much salad, so just double the rest of the ingredients.)
8 to 10 small grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 ume plum, removed from its pit, and cut into small bits, (or a teaspoon or so of ume plum paste)
1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar (sometimes hard to find, you could use any other asian vinegar, like brown rice vinegar, etc)
1 dash of yuzu concentrate (also hard to find, lime would probably provide a similar flavor)

For the toast, you'll need 4 slices or so of day-old Brioche, or another bread with a light profile, like Challah.

Take 2 Eggs, 1/4 cup soy milk, and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, and beat this together in a shallow dish.

Toast the following in a hot skillet until crisp:

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small diced shallot
1 small diced clove of garlic

Add the garlic last, so it doesn't burn. Once the shallots are crisp, remove the shallots and garlic from the oil and set aside for later. Leave as much of the oil as you can. Pour off the oil so that you can use it a little at a time, for each piece of toast.

Dip the bread briefly in the egg mixture on either side, and cook each in around 3/4 of a teaspoon of the shallot infused oil over medium high heat until browned, about 2 minutes per side. If it browns faster, turn down the heat a bit.

Top each slice with a quarter of the salad, and sprinkle a teaspoon or so of crumbled feta cheese over each slice.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Maple Mustard Potatoes and Green Beans

I love potatoes, I love green beans, I love maple syrup, and I love mustard so this recipe was totally made for me. The recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance and calls for waxy potatoes, green beans, onions, garlic, olive oil, maple syrup, and mustard. You toss is all together and then it gets roasted in the oven. Super yummy.

We've never roasted green beans before, but we probably will again. I was surprised by how good they are. We slipped some slices of Quorn roast in this bake so I'm pretty sure we made it non-vegan because the Quorn contains egg. If you have never heard of Quorn products, they are made out of some weird "mycoprotein" which I am assuming is somewhat like mushrooms. Regardless of what it is made of, it is darn tasty and was a good way to add some protein to this somewhat starchy dish.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Another attempt at Roman style pizza

roman style pizza, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

This one has zucchini, cherry tomatoes, rughetta, olives and sauce.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grape Pizza

grape pizza, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

This is a very "Californian" pizza, showcasing the really tasty grapes that we've been getting lately. We've been experimenting with making a Roman style crust for a while, (this is why we've been making so many pizzas lately,) and we've come across a recipe that's very close, but we haven't achieved perfection yet, so I'll spare you the crust recipe till we get it right.

However, I will let you know how we topped the pizza, and then you can re-create it on your own crust of choice whenever you like:

Grape Pizza:
Enough jarred pizza sauce to cover the crust, (we use Muir Glen brand.) If you'd like to make a sauce, that's pretty simple too.*

Slice a shallot thinly and let it sit in about a tablespoon of Basalmic vinegar and about a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian, usually, (it generally contains anchovies,) but there is a vegan/vegetarian brand, "Wizard's" that's pretty close in favor to the "gold-standard" for traditional Worcestershire, Lea and Perrins brand.

Mince a clove of garlic and about a tablespoon or two of fresh thyme.

Slice about twenty or thirty red seedless table grapes in half.

Grate up four or five ounces of a strong aged cheddar. (We used "dubliner" cheddar, it's an outstanding cheese. It has all those fine salt crystals that you get in a really good aged cheese.)

Prepare your oven and your pizza dough of choice according to your normal instructions.

When you top the pizza, do so in the following order, sauce, your (drained) shallots, garlic and thyme, grapes, cheese.

The sweet grapes (cut in half so they don't turn into little heat-bombs,) are offset by the salty-sweet shallots and the sharp sharp cheese.

*If you'd like to make a sauce: Take some olive oil, and sautee some red pepper flake and about a clove of diced garlic until it just turns golden. Add about 8 oz imported italian crushed tomatoes, (careful, it may spit!) A whole lot of fresh minced oregano, three or four sprigs, and salt to taste. Cook for a half an hour or so on medium heat, stirring from time to time, until thickened considerably, and then add about 2 tablespoons of fresh diced basil at the very end.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More Green Tea Cupcakes

pink marzipan leaves, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Okay, this is (I think) the 3rd time we have featured these cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. But, these look really pretty because I actually made little pink marzipan leaves to go on these (store-bought marzipan with only 1 drop of red food coloring--that stuff is strong). I brought these to a knitting group and I wanted them to be extra special.

I'm also posting this up because I want to tell you all how important proper measuring is. We finally broke down and bought some dry measure measuring cups. We really should have bought these a long time ago because there is a huge difference between measuring dry ingredients in a measuring cup and in a dry measure cup. These cupcakes usually came out a little spongy with a rather runny frosting, but these came out perfect and it is all due to the dry measuring cups. Apparently you can get a lot more flour and powdered sugar into a dry measuring cup.

So, now we need to go back and make some baking recipes that didn't really work out to find out if our improper measuring is to blame (I'm looking at you scones from Veganomicon).

The moral of the story is that if you bake at all, get some dry measure cups! Believe me, the $20 or so will save you from lots of frustration later.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Black Kale Soup

kale soup, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

This was another soup to use up veggies that we had in the fridge.

Kale Soup

1 bunch black kale (also called cavolo nero), washed and torn into bite size pieces
2 carrots, cut into small pieces
1 onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 small zucchini, diced
1/4 cup basil, cut or torn into smaller pieces
1 teaspoon thyme (run a knife through it once or twice)
3-4 yellow potatoes, diced
1 bouillon cube
6 cups water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Put the olive oil in a stock pot and heat on medium until shimmering. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until translucent.
Add the carrots, celery, zucchini, thyme, and basil and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes and then add the water and bouillon cube.
Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer, half cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes.
Add the kale and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the kale is tender.
Add salt to taste and serve.

The soup is very good on a cold night.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chestnut Cake with Marscapone Cream

So, I freaked out when I realized that if we didn't use our chestnut flour it would go bad. We looked around for recipes that used the flour and came up with this Chestnut Cake with Marscapone Cream from Dolce Italiano. It was kind of an early birthday cake for the Crusader. The cake was extremely delicious. This cookbook has some really good recipes in it and most of them are pretty easy. It is full of "sometimes food" though, so use sparingly.

(Oh, and now the rest of the chestnut flour is in the freezer until we can find something else to make out of it.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stewed Tofu and Potatoes in Miso Gravy

We keep coming back to this recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance because it is just so tasty and comforting. However, we always forget just how long it takes to make. The recipe says that once the potatoes go in it will only take 20 minutes to cook from there. Actually it ends up taking over an hour--and we even cut up the potatoes into little chunks instead of halving them like the recipe calls for. You also need to stir the pot about every 5 minutes or this will stick like crazy! I wonder if something about the miso makes the potatoes cook at a slower rate. Even with the recipe errors, this tastes so great that I am willing to forgive them.

This recipe combines onions, garlic, mushrooms, tofu and potatoes with a yummy mixture of white wine, soy sauce, miso, and veggie stock. This is a great use for 2-buck chuck (our local $2 wine that is carried by most Trader Joe's across the country (although in some places it is more than $2)--it is hit or miss, but almost always drinkable and when it is really good you feel so clever for only spending $2 on a bottle of wine). Do note however, that you are completely killing all of the healthful properties of the miso by using it this way because the miso is cooked for so long. But again, the recipe is so tasty that I am willing to forgive it. We always serve it over rice so that all of the gravy goodness can be consumed.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Black Bean Pita

black bean pita, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

These pitas may not be all that pretty to look at, but they are really tasty--especially if you are really craving a bunch of veggies. The recipe comes from a book called Vegetarian Sandwiches and is very easy to make. It contains black beans, heirloom tomatoes, green pepper, red onion, jicama, jack cheese, lime juice, cumin, and jarred salsa. You basically just mix everything together and put it in a pita.

If you have never had jicama before, you are in for a treat. It is very hard to describe, but it is juicy and crunchy and sweet (the white chunks in the photo are jicama). It is definitely worth trying at least once. It is good in salads of any kind. The only problem with it is that it is a little hard to peel, but underneath the peel is crunchy goodness.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Vegetarian Gumbo

gumbo, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

I always forget how long it takes to cook gumbo. Sure, the recipe says it will only take a little while to get the right color on the rue, but generally it takes quite a bit of time. This recipe is from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and I suppose is not really a true gumbo because it does not contain okra. It is very tasty though. It calls for onions, peppers, kidney beans, lots of paprika, and some kind of greens. We used collards--always a good green to use when you know your dish will be cooking for a while.

The rue is just flour and oil heated until the flour turns a deep shade of red. This is supposed to happen over very low heat, but we discovered that closer to medium on an electric stove is about right (the heat could probably be lower on a gas stove). Once we turned the heat up a little, the flour finally started to turn. It was supposed to take only 15 minutes, but we had it on the heat for easily 35 minutes. We didn't let it get to a really deep red because I remember from gumbos past that I thought the flavor was a little too strong. Instead we added the onions and stuff when the flour was a chestnut brown and the flavor turned out great.

We served the gumbo over rice (although you can't see it in the photo). Gumbo is very tasty, but just remember that it takes a while to make (even if the recipe says it is quick and easy) and don't add the rice to the leftovers for storage--the rice will get mushy. Although the gumbo was stellar the first day, the leftovers were not as good because of the mushy rice.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Egg and Potato Burrito

egg and potato burrito, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

This makes for a very quick and easy dinner. The egg part of this burrito is from a breakfast burrito recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and is just a ton of herbs, chile pepper, and some cheese mixed with scrambled eggs. We added the cherry tomatoes and a pan fried bag of breakfast potatoes with peppers from Cascadian Farm. Yes, this is supposed to be a breakfast, but we don't abide by such rules here when it just as easily makes a quick and easy dinner.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Porcini with Gremolata

At the end of the spring Porcini season, Far West Fungi in the Ferry Terminal Building, was selling a pound bag of perfectly good Porcini musrooms for $10. So we picked up a bag.

Since we finally had enough of these mushrooms, and they were cheap enough, we could try eating them raw.

We chopped these guys, and tossed them with big shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano, cherry tomatoes, lemon juice and Gremolata, which is a traditional Italian "condiment" (for lack of a better word.)

Gremolata is:

The zest of a lemon
About a tablespoon of fresh thyme and/or parsley
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
A clove of garlic, minced or crushed.

Words can not describe how stellar this was. I love mushrooms, and I really love Porcini, and this way of serving them really let them shine. This picture was sort of last minute. I made this, and we sat down and tried it, just with some crackers, and before you knew it we'd eaten all most all of it! Optimistic was saying, "we should get a picture of this before it is GONE."

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Buttermilk Bread French Toast

french toast, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

I had forgotten about this french toast. We made it with the buttermilk honey bread that I made and used the recipe from the Cafe Flora Cookbook. The secret to this recipe is tossing the french toast into some wheat germ after dipping it in the egg batter, but before putting it in the pan. The wheat germ browns up nicely and gives the french toast a great taste.

We served the french toast with raspberries and nectarines and grade B maple syrup (grade B maple syrup is the only way to go--it has way more flavor than grade A). Please ignore the other junk on our table.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Aromatic Potato and Arugula Soup

arugula soup, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

I never would have thought to put arugula in a soup, but this soup turned out to be pretty awsome. We had a ton of arugula sitting in our fridge left over from another recipe and needed a way to use it all up without making another salad (it has been a little chilly here). This soup fit the bill. The soup is from Verdura, Vegetables Italian Style, which I have learned was recently reprinted. This cookbook is definitely worth getting. None of the recipes have any meat in them, but occasionally there will be a meat broth of some kind (this recipe called for meat broth, but we just used a couple of vegetarian bouillon cubes instead). Most of the recipes are super easy like this one, but a few are pretty time consuming (although if they are all like the potato artichoke cake, they are worth the time).

This soup is so simple, yet tasted so wonderful. The recipe called for butter and olive oil (we used only olive oil and less than called for), onion, garlic, red chili pepper flakes, potatoes, broth, arugula, basil, italian parsley, arborio rice and salt to taste. The basil, parsley and arugula gave the soup a lovely "green" taste and the potatoes and rice gave it a great texture. This one is a winner.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dirty Basil Martini

Dirty Basil Martini, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

We prefer gin as opposed to vodka in our martinis and the dirtier the better. The crusader put this martini together after a particularly yucky day:

Put a dash of dry vermouth into the glass and swirl it around-then pour it out and put some sliced basil in the glass. Put ice in a cocktail shaker with 2-3 ounces of bombay saphire gin (you can rough it with tanqueray, but your martini might end up tasting a little bit like an ashtray) and olive juice from a jar of olives to taste. Shake the shaker until frost appears on the outside of it (this may take a little bit--the myth of shaking bruising gin does not appear to be true). Pour the mixture over the basil in the glass and add a couple (or more) olives. Neither of us can handle much more than one of these every 2-3 months or so (we are lightweights), but it is a nice splurge every now and again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Banana Pancakes with Coconut Syrup

There used to be this really great cooking show on a no longer existing network in Seattle called "Two Hot Tamales." One day they made these delicious looking banana pancakes with coconut syrup. We tried them and instantly fell in love. Luckily I have managed to locate the recipe for the pancakes and the syrup out on the web. Our old copy is covered in splatters and really should be replaced. (Just a note: our original recipe for the syrup did not require blending in a blender so we never do it, but the new online version of the recipe calls for blending. Take your pick. Also, we always use low fat coconut milk instead of full fat--still lots of fat in the low fat coconut milk, but better than the full fat).

This recipe is a great way to use up overripe bananas and make some pancake syrup if you are all out of maple syrup but happen to have coconut and brown sugar.

The hosts of Two Hot Tamales (actually it may only be one of them--I am not too sure of the history) started a restaurant in Santa Monica called the Border Grill. Apparently these pancakes are served there for brunch. We stopped by this restaurant for lunch when we were in LA, but were not impressed, but then we didn't have these pancakes. Although you should probably take this with a grain of salt because I was coming down with the worst flu I ever had and the crusader was recovering from the same flu. Some day we will have to go back to LA when we are both not so ill. But I digress...

I have to say that these are the best pancakes I have ever tasted, so I highly recommend that you try them at least once.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Nectarine Plum Cobbler

What do you make when you have a bunch of leftover buttermilk and 4 pounds of very ripe stone fruit? The most delicious cobbler in the universe! This was a very simple cobbler recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone that can be used with just about any kind of fruit. We had white and yellow nectarines and plums. The fruit got peeled and sliced and mixed with a small amount of brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon and nutmeg. The topping just had buttermilk, a little bit of butter, a little bit of sugar, flour and salt and I think that is it.

I was a little worried that we would be able to eat all of this cobbler before it started to get mushy. We ended up eating it is 2 days so I had no need to worry. The white nectarines were stellar in this. The plums kind of disappeared into a sweet sauce and the yellow nectarines married it all together.

Now a gratuitous shot of stone fruit carnage:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Buttermilk Honey Bread

buttermilk bread, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

My second attempt at bread baking didn't quite turn out as well as my first. This recipe comes from another Sort Floor Books find, The Bread Bible. It is a great book that contains just about every kind of bread recipe that you can imagine. I wanted to start with something simple that could be used for sandwiches or toast with jam, etc and buttermilk honey bread contained minimal ingredients and seemed pretty simple.

The recipe is just fine and what this bread lacks in quality is all due to my limited bread making abilities. It was a little cold in the apartment the day I made this so it took a really long time to rise. I also think that I over-kneaded which led to the bread being a little chewier than I would have liked. The recipe makes two loaves of bread, but we only have one loaf pan, so I made the other loaf as a round.

The bread turned out okay, but there is much room for improvement. We made some pretty good French toast and pesto garlic bread out of it, but some of it did end up uneaten.

Next time I make bread, I will make the following changes: use the stand mixer (part of the reason that I needed to knead so much is that I was not strong enough to mix in all of the flour with a spoon), maybe half a bread recipe so there is not so much bread to eat, make larger slashes in the top of the bread so that it doesn't crack, pick a bread with some added whole grains or whole wheat flour so the bread isn't so "white bread," and perhaps pick a more rustic Italian style bread that is not so dense.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Curry Fried Rice

curry fried rice, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Curry Fried Rice is another delicious recipe from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop. There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but it is still relatively simple. The flavors are wonderful: coconut milk, lime, curry powder with tofu and egg and snow peas. The tofu and the egg each give the dish a different texture, so even though you wouldn't normally think to put both in one dish, they are both good here. The recipe actually called for sugar snap peas, but snow peas are so good in fried rice that we used those instead (plus they were cheaper at the store). We made rice for the recipe and then let is cool for a while, but this recipe is a great way to use up left over rice.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Steamed Earl Grey Artichoke, Miso Roasted Potatoes, and Soy-Yuzu Tofu

artichoke potatoes and tofu

This is the kind of stuff that Optimistic calls comfort food. She grew up eating healthy like this, and from time to time we have to bust out the potatoes and veggies to keep her optimistic, so to speak.

This is all original, so we can post the whole recipe!

Part One: Miso Roasted Potatoes

1 Tablespoon each of Honey, Yellow Miso, Cider Vinegar and Olive oil, (you might want to do two tablespoons of oil, it will stick less,) mixed together and set aside.

3 or 4 peeled cloves of garlic chopped in half
10 pearl onions, peeled, ends cut off
About a pound and a half of potatoes, cut up into dice. Nice waxy ones would be killer, but all we had were starchy plain old Russets. (We always have some Russets around. They keep remarkably well in the fridge, although Jeffrey Steingarten swears that they will convert more of their starch to sugar if left in the fridge... To be absolutely honest, I've never noticed a negative effect, or an overly sweet russet, but then again, they don't stay in there for long, because potatoes of any sort are in trouble if Optimistic is home.)

Toss the potatoes, onions, and garlic into an oven-proof pan. Pour the miso dressing over the potatoes and toss until evenly covered. I tend to line the pan with foil, and make a little packet, because this makes cleaning the pan easier. Close the packet and cook for 20 minutes in a hot oven (425 degrees or so.) Then open the packet carefully, shake the potatoes around, and finish until the potatoes are cooked, probably 20 to 30 minutes more. They will brown a little as well. They may stick to the foil.

Part Two: Earl Grey Artichokes.

Right after you open the packet on the potatoes, start the artichokes.

Steam the artichokes in whatever fashion you employ at your home, just add a tablespoon or two of Earl Grey tea to the steaming water. Steam the artichokes until a knife goes in easily. For monster chokes like these, that'll be about thirty minutes. Stop every ten minutes and add a little more water. The addition of the tea (with its tamarind-citrus evoking oil of bergamot,) does remarkable things to the flesh of the choke. They get so tasty that we eat them straight, without salt or mayo.

Part Three: Soy-Yuzu Tofu.

1 half pound of tofu, drained well and cut into 1 inch rectangles.
Marinade: 2 Tablespoons each of soy sauce, Nigori (unfiltered) sake, and worchestershire sauce (they make a vegan variety which is pretty good, but I do have a preference for Lea and Perrins, anchovies and all) plus two or three dashes of Yuzu concentrate and a crushed garlic clove.

Put the tofu slices into a container with the marinade. Let them sit for a while (the last 20 to 30 minutes while artichokes are steaming is pretty good, it only needs to sit for 10 minutes or so.)

So, about ten minutes before everything is done, heat around a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet, take the tofu out of the marinade and cook the tofu for five minutes per side, until brown. After you flip the tofu, you can opt to pour in the reserved marinade and let it thicken a bit into a sauce, but this isn't necessary, the tofu will be plenty tasty on its own.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pizza from Pauline's

pizza from Pauline's, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Pauline's Pizza is one of the best pizza places in the city. They have a garden in Berkeley and another near the Sierras were they grow their herbs, fruit and veggies, so the toppings always taste great and their crust is nice and tender. Here we have a summer squash and herb pizza with some kind of tasty smelly cheese but I can't remember what kind. We always order light cheese when we order pizza, but Pauline's is the only place that consistently gets the meaning of the word "light."

Pauline's also has a killer house red wine and makes great salads! Plus their signature vegetarian pesto pizza is fantastic and is what we usually get, but we wanted to branch out--we did not regret it. This pizza was delicious.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Smoothie and Bagels

Smoothie and Bagels, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

We discovered House of Bagels in the Richmond just as every grocery store seemed to start carrying their bagels. They make very good bagels. Here we have an onion poppy seed bagel with light cream cheese (mixed with a little onion powder), english cucumber, and of course those little orange cherry tomatoes. We needed to find the bagels to go with a big tub of cream cheese that we ended up with after helping a friend move. We also ended up with a large jug of apple juice, so a smoothie also seemed in order.

Yummy Berry Smoothie:

2-3 cups apple juice
half cup strawberries
half cup raspberries
1 banana
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (we used Spirutein)
half cup non-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon bee pollen

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

We almost lost a large amount of this smoothie through the bottom of the blender because it started to leak. Our blender sucks. We have suspected as much for about 5 or 6 years. We saved up for a nice kitchen aid blender that many years ago and immediately regretted it. The jar is too wide, there are always some little chunks that don't get blended, it is impossible to pour stuff out of it (we bought ours before kitchen aid decided to change the design of the top to make it easier to pour), and now it randomly leaks at the bottom. Note to self, don't buy another kitchen aid blender. However, it still works so we are not going to buy a new one until this one craps out. The motor seems pretty good, so that may not happen for years.

Monday, July 7, 2008


tomatoes and cilantro, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

No, this is not a picture of tostadas, but these tomatoes ended up in some tostadas. We were so hungry on the day the tostadas were made that no pictures were taken.

The recipe is from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop and contained tomatoes mixed with cilantro, a little olive oil and salt (pictured above), spinach cooked with garlic, and goat cheese. Then these ingredients were strategically placed on 4 tortillas and baked until the tortillas were crispy. The tostadas were very good, but they do make for a light supper so it would have been nice to have a salad or something of that nature along with them.

You will be seeing more of these orange cherry tomatoes. They are so good this year and we have been getting them every time we get groceries. Lately we have had the choice of red, orange, or yellow cherry tomatoes, but the orange ones seem to be the most balanced in flavor--not too acidic and very flavorful.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rhubarb Compote

rhubarb compote, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

The Dessert Bible so far is turning out to be a winner. I had two large stalks of rhubarb (about 1/2 pound) and just a few leftover strawberries and the rhubarb compote recipe was the perfect use for these. This recipe is so simple--basically chop up the fruit, add a little sugar, lemon juice, and although the recipe didn't call for it, I added some cinnamon. Then this is cooked in a pot for about 10 minutes and it is done. Almost instant gratification. Here the compote is shown served with a spoon of non-fat yogurt, but we also had it on some frozen yogurt and some store bought shortcakes. The compote was a little sour because I used more lemon juice than the recipe called for and reduced the sugar a little bit, but it was still really tasty. I am a convert to rhubarb for sure.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Oatmeal Date Cookies

oatmeal date cookies, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Most of you that know me personally know that I like to knit. I joined Ravelry a while back and it has been a great resource for thrifty people like me. Through one of the forums on Ravelry, I learned about Sort Floor Books. They have all types of books that are remainders, used, or have some minor damage that make them unsellable at full price. So, Sort Floor Books sells them at deep discounts (usually at least 50% off)--and the best thing is that there is free shipping if your order is over $15. Their selection of cookbooks varies depending on the day you look, but we have found a few real bargains. One such bargain was The Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball for $6. I got it because we don't have a lot of dessert books and I wanted some resources for what to do with leftover summer fruit. I'll post later about the fantastic rhubarb compote I made out of this book, but first we wanted to show you these oatmeal date cookies from the book. They are the best oatmeal cookies I have ever tasted.

These cookies are pictured on the front cover of the book and as the cookbook sat on our dining table for a few days, we both developed a craving for the delicious looking cookies. I generally dislike raisins in cookies so I was happy to see dates used instead of raisins (of course the recipe also includes instructions on how to make them with raisins). These cookies are very easy (other than the chopping of the dates, which can be a messy job), but you really do need to follow the instructions in order for them to come out right. The recipe requires that the cookies come out of the oven after 15 minutes even though they will look underdone. They are not really underdone and when they cool they end up having crispy edges and a nice chewy middle. Yum! We only made half a batch the first time, which yields 12 cookies, but then we had to make the "rest" of the cookies and cooked another half batch. They were just as delicious both times. And hey, there are lots of oats in these cookies, so they can't be all bad for us right?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Indian black eyed peas, corn, and dill

Another super simple World Vegetarian recipe that turned out really well. The original recipe called for dried beans, but we used two cans of black eyed peas and made this recipe in 20 minutes rather than 2-3 hours. So when the rice was done, the dish was done. Even with the dramatically reduced cooking time, this was really really good. However, it was stellar the next day. All of the spices really soaked into the black eyed peas and made them super tasty. We had some of the leftovers in a tortilla with some scrambled eggs in the morning and it was fantastic as a breakfast burrito.

If you want to know one of the secrets to cooking Indian food at home here it is: curry leaves. They are fantastic and give recipes that signature Indian flavor. We have only been able to find them at Indian grocers, so if you have one near you, buy a big bag of them and put them in everything!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mock Lamb Curry

Mock Lamb Curry, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Another recipe from World Vegetarian. This turned out fantastic even though I had my doubts about the texture of the seitan when it cooked for a few minutes longer than I usually cook seitan. As it turns out the texture was just fine and it had absorbed all of the yummy spices that are in this. It was really good with a little bit of non-fat yogurt on top.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Birthday Strawberry Mint Milkshake

Today is Optimistic's birthday, and among other things, we made her a strawberry-mint milkshakes. I got one too, which is just an added bonus, since it isn't my birthday.


Blend a whole pint of strawberries, ten or so fresh peppermint leaves, just a tiny bit (two teaspoons or so) of Agave Nectar or your sweetener of choice, and an entire pint of your "ice cream" of choice. We usually use, Maggie Mudd's Soy Vanilla, which is a true masterpiece of soy based ice-cream, and the ENTIRE PINT has just 2 grams of fat. But this week, the soy vanilla was in short supply, so we had to settle for a low-fat frozen yogurt.

milkshake 2

milkshake 1

Monday, June 23, 2008

Visceral Cupcake

green tea cupcakes with green tea and cherry frosting

Return of the Green Tea Cupcake! This time we replaced the liquid in the frosting with the juice and fine strained pulp from around 20 deep red cherries from Twin Girls Farm, which I ran through a food mill, (the cherries, not the farm.) I don't recommend this method for juicing the cherries, the pits jump out of the mill and hit you in the face, leaving a fine spatter of cherry mist that would convince Dexter Morgan that you warranted his special attentions. (If you absolutely must try it, pit the cherries first.)

Anyhow, the end result, a rich, intense green-tea and cherry icing, was simply fantastic, and really set off the green tea cupcakes.

Unfortunately, with so much cherry juice, the consistency was less an icing and more of a glaze, leading to this sort of delicious mess.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sweet and Sour Tofu Balls

Sweet and Sour Tofu Balls, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Sweet and Sour Tofu Balls is an oldie but a goody at our place. It comes from one of the first cookbooks I ever purchased, Tofu Cookery. They are remarkably easy to make and are very tasty. The balls are a mix of tofu, peanut butter, flour, soy sauce, mushrooms (we used a ton of shiitakes--way more than the recipe called for), water chestnuts or celery (we used celery), green pepper and green onion. They are baked for 20 minutes and then covered with a sweet and sour sauce that contains pineapple juice, honey, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, arrowroot or cornstarch (we used cornstarch because we were all out of arrowroot), and garlic (the recipe calls for garlic powder, but since we didn't have any, we used a mix of fresh garlic and a tiny bit of garlic salt). The balls are served over rice and you can put some more soy sauce on them if they need a little saltiness.

Tofu Cookery is a great cookbook if you ever cook with tofu. It has some surprisingly tasty recipes. The danishes, bbq tofu, and tofu potato salad are some of our favorites.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Campanelle with Vodka Tomato Sauce

This was supposed to be Ziti with Vodka Tomato Sauce. We had no ziti, so campanelle subbed just fine. Vodka tomato sauce is a classic recipe, but this vegan version is much less rich than the traditional recipe. This recipe variation comes from an old Vegetarian Times (but is excerpted from Totally Dairy-Free Cooking by Louis Lanza and Laura Morton). Soy milk is substituted for the traditional cream in the recipe. Other than that, the ingredients are pretty much the same as the traditional recipe: olive oil, garlic, chopped onion, basil, red pepper flakes, vodka (6 tablespoons), canned plum tomatoes, and pasta. If you start the sauce when you start the pasta water to boil, the sauce will be done when the pasta is done and you will have dinner in under 30 minutes. It may sound like there is a lot of vodka in this recipe, but it is cooked with the onions and all of the alcohol is cooked off. All you are left with is some vodka flavor. I know that vodka is typically known for having no flavor, but it really does add something to the recipe.