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."