Thursday, April 27, 2017

Butternut Squash with Beans and Leeks

It's always a special day when we get a big delivery from Rancho Gordo, purveyors of delicious and unique heirloom beans. Sure, you can open a can of beans (I do that sometimes, too!), but cooking your own beans from scratch yields a much more flavorful and textured batch. So every week we cook a pound of beans--different beans every time--to use in that week's cooking.

This week we cooked Domingo Rojo beans, which were delicious, but I'm sure this recipe would work with any red or black bean. The combination of creamy, baked squash with the beans is comforting and satisfying.

1 small butternut squash
1 cup cooked black or red beans
1/2 cup chopped leek, white and green parts
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
1 tbsp ras-el-hanout

Cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds and stringy innards, and place in a 375 degree oven, face down, for 45 minutes or until the squash is soft and creamy throughout. At this point it should be easy to peel. Cut the peeled squash into 3/4-inch cubes.

While the squash is cooking, saute leeks and garlic in a little bit of vegetable broth. After about 3 minutes, lower the heat and add the beans and the ras-el-hanout. Cook for about 10-15 minutes.

Gently mix in the squash cubes.


Marjoram-Pepper Pasta Sauce

At the end of yesterday's faculty meeting, my colleague Marsha hollered: "Anyone here cook?" I immediately waved my hands and hollered back: "Me me me!" Marsha very graciously gifted me with a big bag of fresh marjoram from her garden. It turns out that the crows eat all her other herbs, but leave the marjoram alone. :)

Well, I don't know about the crows' taste in herbs, but I *love* marjoram, and its wonderful aroma and flavor are showcased at their best in this recipe - a vegetable-packed, spicy pasta sauce. I served it atop spiralized zucchini, but you can of course substitute the pasta of your choice.

1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
1 cup leeks--green part or mixed
3 garlic cloves
1 can diced tomatoes
2 red bell peppers
1 small eggplant
about 8 green olives, pitted
2 tsp capers
generous handful of fresh marjoram
pinch smoked paprika
optional: tofu cubes or chickpeas

In a wok or skillet, heat up water or broth and add sliced leeks and garlic cloves. Saute until fragrant. Then, add peppers, eggplant, and tofu cubes or chickpeas. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, then add the diced tomatoes, olives, capers, marjoram, and paprika. Lower the heat and continue cooking until the peppers are soft and the tofu is flavorful. Serve atop the pasta of your choice.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Vegetable-Based Mac 'n' Cheese

This vegan "cheese" sauce is very easy to make and absolutely delicious. And the surprising part is - no soy or cashew is involved!

The recipe comes verbatim from Brand New Vegan, where you can find many such delights. I simplified it a bit for you and upped the carrot content at the expense of the potatoes. This will have a fair amount of protein on account of the nutritional yeast, but if you'd like more protein you can make lentil pasta to go with it.

2 medium-sized potatoes
5-6 medium-sized carrots
1/2 water from cooking the potatoes and carrots
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tsp quince vinegar (the original recipe called for apple cider vinegar, but we ran out
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves garlic 
1/2 tsp brown mustard
1/4 tsp turmeric

Cut potatoes and carrots into cubes and boil in water for 10 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer potatoes and carrots to blender and add 1/2 cup water from the pot, and pulse to mix. Then, add all other ingredients and blend until smooth.

Cook pasta (I like lentil pasta for this - nutritious and yummy) and drain; return pasta to pot. Pour sauce over pasta and mix well.


Saturday, April 01, 2017

Chocolate-Quince-Plum Cookies

These cookies, an emergency adaptation from the classic Veganomicon, came into existence because I forgot to buy treats for friends who came over to work on an organ with Chad. They are working on the instrument down in the garage, and Chad asked me to buy some vegan cookies on the way home from aerial class. Whaddya know--flying upside down on a hammock is so exhilarating that one forgets things! I bought lots of fresh vegetables and forgot the cookies.

But have no fear: this recipe uses a bunch of stuff that I had lying around in the fridge and pantry and the cookies came out fantastic: chewy, moist, and emitting an irresistible aroma of chocolate and fruit. They have less sugar than the original Veganimicon recipe. Here's the deal:

Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup preserves (I had plum puree and quince marmelada from Vermont Quince)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix wet ingredients in a bowl. Sift dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until combined. Dough will be soft and pliable. Roll small balls--about walnut-sized--and place on baking sheet, flattening each ball a bit with your thumb. Bake for ten minutes.



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Labaneh

Cooking food from countries affected by the travel ban gave me a wonderful feeling of inner peace--both as a private person with people of all nationalities who love to cook and eat good food, and as someone who tries to contribute a little bit to more compassion in the kitchen. Imagine my joy, therefore, when I heard about Kifah Duski's new book Peace in the Kitchen, which features vegan Arab cooking.

Kifah is originally from the village of Faradis, which is very close to where my parents live; she moved to Tel Aviv for university and, from there, to Prague, where she currently lives. The book is divided into three parts, each for each transition in her life. The Faradis recipes are homey, the Tel Aviv recipes are quick and appropriate for a student kitchen, and the Prague recipes a bit more elaborate and haute-cuisine-ish.

Some of the recipes are not new to me, as I've been cooking Middle Eastern food for a long time. But some are completely new, and some feature new forms to make stuff I've been making forever. For example, Kifah's version of shakshuka doesn't feature thin tofu slices (which is how I've been making it) but "egg whites" made of soy and "egg yolks" made of chickpea flour, all layered to look like real eggs.

The book is written in both Hebrew and Arabic. I really wish it came in an English version, because many of my non-Middle-Eastern friends will find stuff there that will dramatically expand their horizons beyond what's served here in Arab restaurants.

The most impressive recipe in the book, for me, is the labaneh, because I've been craving this sour, fermented soft cheese for a very long time. Here it is, in its vegan splendor:

1 cup blanched almonds, soaked overnight
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
1/2 cup soy beans, soaked overnight
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 2 large lemons
water
salt

Place all ingredients except water and salt in food processor and process. Gradually add water until achieving the desired consistency (I like it kind of robust, like fromage blanc) and salt to taste. The original recipe calls for refrigeration, but I left my batch out of the fridge for the night to culture, and it greatly improved its taste and resemblance to the dairy original. Serve with a sprinkle of za'atar.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Kale, Squash and Lima Salad with Amazing Green Dressing

After seeing a vegan Green Goddess dressing recipe on the Oh She Glows blog, I was determined to make something fantastic to put it on. I didn't have all the ingredients for the dressing on hand, so I substituted ingredients from our backyard. It came out lovely! You'll have a lot of leftover dressing, which you can have on other salads, grains, beans... it's so delicious it makes anything into a feast.

For the salad:
1 large bunch dino kale
1/2 large, or 1 small, butternut squash, cubed
2 cups cooked (or canned) large white lima beans

For the dressing:
2 cloves garlic
2 ripe avocados
juice from 4 lemons
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 big handful green onions
1 big handful fresh oregano
1 big handful mint or catnip
water to taste

Place all ingredients for the dressing in food processor and process until smooth. Add water until it reaches desired consistency (pourable but viscous).

Remove stems from kale leaves and massage leaves in a large bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of the dressing and mix well to coat. Add squash and beans and lightly toss. Enjoy!



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Libya: Couscous Soup

Just in time for the stay of the ban by the District Court judges in Hawaii and Maryland, we have a recipe from Libya to end our Banned Countries VeganFest! Couscous from Tripoli is traditionally served with soup poured on top of it. The soup is mild in taste and so delicious that it can be a meal on its own, sans couscous, and super easy to prepare.

1 big onion, diced
1 medium-sized cabbage, chopped
1 cup butternut squash, cubed
3 carrots, sliced
3 zucchini, sliced
big handful of parsley, minced
1 can or two cups of cooked chickpeas
dried vegetable powder or bouillon cube

Place all vegetables with the bouillon in a pot and cover with water. Cook on the stove for about an hour and a half, or in the InstantPot for 45 minutes. Serve on its own or pour on top of cooked couscous. Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Iran: Khoreshte Karafs

As Muslim Ban 2.0 enters into action and colleagues around the country volunteer to help travelers in distress at airports, we continue cooking food from banned countries. Today, it's Iran, with a beautiful celery stew called Khoreshte Karafs. It's very fresh and nutritious and has an intriguing tangy taste, thanks to a special ingredient: dried Persian lime.

1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
7-8 stalks celery, diced
1 large bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 handful mint, chopped (I admit I used fresh catnip! no mint in the house)
1 cup neutral-tasting beans, cooked (I had white beans lying around)
1 tsp fenugreek leaves
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
3-4 small Persian limes, ground
water

Heat up olive oil in big wok or pot. Add onions and saute until soft and translucent. Add celery, parsley, mint, beans, fenugreek, criander, turmeric, paprika, and pepper, as well as water. Cook until celery is soft and thoroughly cooked. Add Persian lime and cook for another few minutes. Serve over rice.