Sweet Potato and Sage Risotto

7 03 2012

I don’t get how some food bloggers update so frequently. Really, a post every day/every other day?? Is the Internet the only occupation you have in life? And you know what also pisses me off, food bloggers who update a lot with posts about baked goods. Where are all these baked goods going, you fat pig? If I want to blog about a cake, I have friggin’ cake sitting around all week. I don’t eat cake every day, unlike these people, these unemployed, cake-faced bastards.

So to all the other workin’-class food bloggers, I salute you for updating bi-weekly at best. We work a lot, and sometimes the last thing we want to do is cook, let alone take pictures of it, savor the complex flavors, and then write about it online. Especially if you work all damn day in a restaurant, like myself.

But yesterday, I was able to summon the energy to cook after work and made this luscious little risotto. It’s earthy and creamy; the perfect side to a winter meal, or a meal in itself, paired with a salad. I recommend using fresh sage, but if you don’t have it, a teaspoon of dried works too.

Sweet Potato and Sage Risotto
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

5 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red onion, cut into thin half moons
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 2 cm. pieces
2 cups risotto rice (Arborio rice)
3/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnishing
3 tbs. shredded sage
Salt and pepper

Pour the stock into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and keep at a gentle simmer.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the sweet potatoes and rice and stir until well-coated.

Add 1/2 cup of hot stock, stirring constantly over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding more stock, half cup at a time, stirring all the while for about 25 minutes, or until all the stock is absorbed, the sweet potato is cooked and the rice is tender and creamy.

Stir in the Parmesan and most of the sage. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with some olive oil and sprinkled with the remaining sage and some shaved Parmesan.

Vegan “Cheddar” & Sweet Potato Soup

19 12 2011

I absolutely adore cheese. But I also absolutely adore vegan cheese substitutes. It really makes no sense. I also love nutritional yeast, though it gives me really bad gas. It’s worth it for all them B vitamins though.

For cheese and yeast lovers alike, this soup will satisfy. It’s creamy, tangy and comforting. Cinnamon and brown sugar mixed with sweet potatoes… c’mmoonnn.

Try toasting up your own croutons or just have some crusty bread on hand because you’ll be wanting it to soak up every bite.

Vegan “Cheddar” & Sweet Potato Soup
Adapted from The Uncheese Cookbook

2 cups water
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tbs. Spice Blend (recipe below)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups vegan milk
2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place the first six ingredients in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the mashed sweet potatoes, nutritional yeast and milk.

Puree the mixture in a blender, a portion at a time, until smooth. Return to the soup pot and stir in the brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Warm over medium heat, until heated through, stirring often.

Serve with croutons.

Spice Blend

1 1/2 cups nutritional yeast flakes
3 tbs. salt
1 tb. onion granules
1 tb. paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. dill seed

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until finely ground. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Ginger Cranberry Sauce

1 11 2011

Am I supposed to be posting about cranberry sauces when things like this are going on? Sometimes it’s hard to find your place in the struggle when your passion lies in making yummy-tasties.

I’ve never made a cranberry sauce before. Growing up, I had a hatred for chunky cranberry sauces. It seems that most kids have a problem with textured foods. I wanted that smooth, gelatinous, can-shaped mold. And honestly, I stick by it. On Thanksgiving, give me that tin-scented jello slop. But this sauce is in a whole different ballpark.

Sweet and with a strong backbone of ginger spice, this sauce is ideal served warm over a stack of pumpkin pancakes or mixed into a bowl of oatmeal in the morning; the perfect fall condiment.

Ginger Cranberry Sauce
Adapated from Vegan Brunch

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tb. ginger, grated
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Mix together cranberries, water and sugar in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Unconver and set simmer until the mixture reduces by half, about 10 minutes or so. Stir frequently. Remove from heat and grate in the ginger. Let cool for at least half an hour, then stir in the maple syrup. Serve warm.

Butternut Squash, Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

13 10 2011

Yes, another butternut squash post. ANDTHEREWILLBEMORE. Muaaahhhhaha. *sighs* October.  Honestly, everything about autumn, October and Halloween fills me with this creative, motivational energy. It’s a really magical time. And this is a magical lasagna. Because it only uses a handful of ingredients and is very simply seasoned, the flavors of the vegetables and cheeses are forefront. Tis awesome.

On the topic of the magical and cheesy, check out my band, Cheri Love Affair. We are damned adorable, is my general consensus.

Butternut Squash, Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium butternut squash, about 3 lbs, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch. pieces
1 lb. spinach
2 cups ricotta
2 tbs. heavy cream
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Lasagna noodles
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the squash and toss over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Don’t worry if some of the squash gets slightly mashed. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and keep warm.

Blanch the spinach in a large saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds, or until wilted. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of cold water. Drain well, squeezing out as much excess water as possible, then finely chop.

Add the lasagna to the pot of boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain.

Put the ricotta, cream, Parmesan, spinach and nutmeg in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat for 2-3 minutes, or until warmed through.

Arrange 4 noodles in a lasagna baking dish. Top with half of the pumpkin, then more lasagna strips. Top with half the ricotta mixture, then the final lasagna strips. Arrange the remaining pumpkin and ricotta mixture over the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Serve!

Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Soup

28 09 2011

The main reason I chose to make this soup, minus the fact that it harnesses some great autumn veggies, also minus the fact that I had some tahini kicking around in the fridge… was that in the cookbook picture, it looked so creamy, like a spiced pumpkin puree.

I had just spent the night at a friends grandparents house out in Chemsford, MA and part of dinner was a pumpkin soup that was so yummy and had the same texture that I was dying for; the kind where you can swirl imprints with your spoon that will hold just long enough. Sadly, my soup didn’t turn out that way. Maybe I didn’t use enough squash, or too much broth. Maybe I’ll just keep blaming myself. Stupid stupid stupid. Maybe I’m a victim of metric system conversions. The book was published in Australia.

Either way, it’s a thinner soup than expected, but don’t let that deter you. It has a mellow, sweet flavor with the occasional hint of hotness. If I made it again, I would add some roasted garlic and some herbs, I’m thinking sage.

Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

1 tb. olive oil
1 long red chili, seeded and chopped, plus extra to garnish
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
5-6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup red lentils
1 tb. tahini
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute the chili, onion and garlic over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion has softened.

Reduce the heat to low, add the squash and sweet potato, cover and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock and bring to the boil, simmer for 10 minutes. Add the lentils, put the lid back on and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

Process the soup in batches in a blender, add the tahini and blend until smooth. Return to the saucepan, and gently reheat. Season to tase. Serve garnished with chili.

Pumpkin & Bean Lasagna with Caramelized Garlic

9 11 2010

The only way I can really describe this lasagna, is by comparing it to going on a date with someone who is really high maintenance, who you think you’re going to have nothing in common with, but you end up totally hitting it off. Um then you keep them in your fridge for a week, snacking on bits and pieces.

This is the first recipe I’ve ever made from Passionate Vegetarian. Honestly, the book scares the shit out of me. Over 1,000 recipes, thick as hell. I’ve had it for over a year and have rarely glanced at it. It’s like the Atlas Shrugged of vegetarian cook books…minus the fascism. But in my fall process of milking every pumpkin for what it’s worth, I needed to find a new recipe.

I looked this one over, my initial thoughts including, “Pumpkin and bean filling?? Ookkay. Ricotta and cabbage?…that’s fucking gross”. But I pushed through, getting to the part where I have every burner going on my stove, and bowls of stuff on the counter. It is time-consuming. You have to make the noodles, 2 different fillings, caramelize garlic. And apparently I thought that wasn’t enough. Because instead of sanely opening a jar of tomato sauce, I opt out and go for the Sauce Soubise, a Bechamel sauce with caramalized onions. So an additional half an hour, 3 pans later, and a near panic involving  roux, this glorious hunk of lasagna came clawing into the world.

It has dimension, layers of flavor. It’s all peasant-y and rustic, but with an edge. We like our lasagnas edgy.

Pumpkin & Bean Lasagna with Caramelized Garlic
Adapted from Passionate Vegetarian

Caramelized Garlic:
3 tbs. olive oil
20 cloves garlic, halved, any green part in the middle taken out, then cut into 1/4 in. pieces

Pumpkin-Bean Filling:
2 16-oz. cans of pumpkin puree
1 can kidney beans, rinsed & drained

Ricotta-Cabbage Filling:
1/2 green cabbage, sliced into ribbons
3 eggs
1 container (15-oz) ricotta
1 1/2 cups milk
2 oz. neufchatel cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

8 oz. whole wheat lasagne noodles
Sauce of your choice (I’ll give the recipe for the soubise sauce I used, but really, anything would be good here. A jar of commericial tomato sauce, a white sauce, or your favorite recipe)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Add garlic and cook slowly, stirring frequently until pale gold, about 8 minutes. Remove garlic from skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the pumpkin puree and drained kidney beans to the skillet. Stir to combine and set aside.

Steam the cabbage until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain well, blotting dry. Set aside in a medium bowl.

Whisk together the eggs, ricotta, milk, neufchatel, and nutmeg until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir, then pour over the cabbage. Stir well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In an 8x12x2.5 in. sprayed or oiled baking dish, layer the ingredients as followed: Swirl about 3 tbs. of the sauce in the bottom of the dish. Line with a layer of lasagna noodles. Scatter half the pumpkin filling over the noodles, and then sprinkle with half of the caramelized garlic. Spoon all of the ricotta-cabbage filling over the garlic. Add another layer of pasta, half the Parmesan, and then all of the remaining pumpkin filling. Sprinkle the pumpkin with the remaining garlic. Cover with a layer of pasta (if you have any left. I stopped at 2 layers), then add the remaining sauce. You will have some Parmesan left.

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 60 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, uncovered. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Sauce Soubise
Caramelize 2 onions by slicing, putting into a medium skillet with heated oil. Turn the heat down to low and slowly cook onions, stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes. Add to Bechamel sauce with a splash of tamari.

Bechamel Sauce:
1 bay leaf
1/4 onion, skin on
1 rib celery, with leaves
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup milk
2 tsps. butter
2 tsps. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps. cornstarch
Salt and pepper

Affix the bay leaf to the onion, using the cloves as tacks. (fun!) Place the onion along with the celery top and a pinch of nutmeg in a medium saucepan. Pour all but 2 tbs. of the milk into the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer GENTLY, for 15 minutes.

Towards the end of the simmering time, melt the butter over medium-low heat in an oiled skillet. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring often, until the flour is slightly golden and aromatic, 2-3 minutes. This is the roux.

Between stirs of the roux, dissolve the cornstarch in the reserved 2 tbs. milk.

Pour the warm infused milk through a strainer and into the skillet containing the roux, whisking to prevent lumps. Bring it to a simmer, whisking often, until it is the consistency of a cream soup. Raise the heat slightly.

Whisk the cornstarch mixture one more time, then stir it into the thickened milk mixture. Remove from heat. This is where you would add the caramelized onions and tamari. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately.

Apple Enchiladas

19 10 2010

I had the day off from work today. I had no car. I had a giant coffee buzz and this new pair of yoga pants that honestly made me feel like I could conquer the sun. I felt sooooo good. So I opened up all the doors in the house, brought my laptop out into the kitchen, put on a Beatles playlist, and proceeded to make not only apple enchiladas, but the flour tortillas and whipped cream as well. I’m not normally a Beatles/yoga pants kind of person, but it felt good and sometimes I like to embrace those “I’m a million different people from one day to the next”-type moments. Tell me about your favorite cooking music.

You don’t need to act as gung-ho as I did and make flour tortillas. In fact, these are the perfect way to use up any leftover  tortillas you may have kickin’ around from Taco Night. It’s a great recipe, rich & comforting, and further proof that the Hot Damn & Hell Yeah cookbook can do no wrong. Vegan dirty south cookin’. With no sanctimonious attitudes or esoteric ingredients. Plus there’s little cartoon skeletons on every page. Please go check out Microcosm publishing.

Apple Enchiladas
Adapted from Hot Damn & Hell Yeah

6 flour tortillas (recipe below)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup vegan butter/margarine
4 cups apple pie filling:
-4 granny smith apples; peeled, cored and sliced
-3/4 cup white sugar
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-Pinch of nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 175 C/350 F and grease a 20 cm/8 in. square baking pan.

Place a few heaping spoonfuls of filling in each tortilla, then roll the tortillas up and place them in the baking pan, seam-side down.

Heat water, sugars, margarine and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes to let sauce thicken. Remove from heat and pour over tortillas, spreading with a spoon to ensure they are evenly coated.

Bake for 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown on top.

Flour Tortillas:
(will make 5-10 tortillas depending on how large you make them)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegan butter/margarine
3/4 cup boiling water

Sift flour and salt together into a large bowl. Rub the butter in by hand until evenly mixed. Make a well in the center and pour the boiling water into it. Mix with a wooden spoon until you’ve got a doughy texture to work with.

Sprinkle a bit of flour on top and knead the dough until it’s a smooth consistency.

Roll pieces of dough into balls about 5 cm/2-inches around, then place on a tray and cover. Leave covered for at least an hour.

Roll the dough balls out on a lightly floured surface til they’re as thick as you want them, then get a skillet warmed up over high heat.

Place a tortilla on the skillet for about 10 seconds. Flip over as soon as you see a bubble or 2 forming on the top. Cook 20-30 seconds then flip back over to cook the other side 15-20 more seconds. Keep a close eye on them. You want tortillas soft with light brown spots, not crispy with dark brown spots.

Stack cooked tortillas on a plate and keep covered with a dish towel to keep soft until you’re ready to use.