Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian

04
Jan
14

Hella Hot Jalapeno Pizza

I don’t consider myself a total wimp when it comes to spicy food.  In fact I prefer food to be a bit on the zippy side.  But I made a pizza for last night’s dinner that burned my fingers!  I’m not talkin’ burnt from heat.  The peppers made my fingers burn!  And they still smarted this morning.  Here’s how it all started:

 blog shots 2014 002-001blog shots 2014 004-001I didn’t have a lot of topping stuff on hand last night, so I decided to load the piazza up with fresh jalapeños and the nacho style jarred variety. There is also fresh pineapple, onions, soyrizo, chopped tomatoes and cheese in there.  so, I load it all up and slide into  the hot oven.

blog shots 2014 012-001And there it is, starting to cook.  You can see all of those peppers in there, looking all innocent.

blog shots 2014 014-001It’s almost ready.

blog shots 2014 021-001It’s go time.  Normally, I can eat three slices of my homemade pizza, no problem.  Seriously, I could only make it through 2 slices, and that second one took me a while.  I was savoring it, right?  Actually, I had to let my mouth cool down in between bites.  Can you believe Katie not only put crushed red pepper on her slices but also a TON of cayenne pepper!?!  Ok, I put crushed red pepper on mine, too, out of habit.  I really didn’t need to do that.

I noticed my hands were burning a bit all evening after dinner.  At least I had the foresight to remove my contacts before concocting this blistering affair, but I still managed to rub my eyes during the course of the evening, causing a bit of pain there.

Leftovers for lunch today.  Where are my food safety gloves?

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24
Nov
12

Oooey, gooey and a little chewy

Figs or grilled sandwiches?  Which is it to be today?  How about I just combine the two?  After all, the apple cheese grilled combo was delicious.  I didn’t write about the pear smoked Gouda sandwich, because it fell flat for me.  But I did learn that smoked Gouda is not a melty cheese!   Should I be writing about the failures as well as the successes?  You guys tell me.

The other day, in an effort to use the fresh figs in some way that didn’t involve something too sweet or a baked good, I created a more savory fig concoction.  My taste buds approved this delightful combination.  May I present, the Grilled Cheeses and Fig sandwich…………………………….

 Spread coconut oil** on sourdough bread slices first, then place oiled side down in a cold non-stick pan.  Cover the bread with Havarti cheese slices and top with sliced fresh figs.

Next I topped the figs with some soft goat cheese, nice and tangy!

The figs were not super flavorful nor sweet so I decided to drizzle honey over the goat cheese.  A very wise choice.

I added more Havarti cheese to help hold the sandwich all together, once all of the cheeses start to melt.  Cheese makes a very good sandwich “glue”.

And we pop the other coconut oiled bread slice on top and turn the heat to a very low setting and cover the pan with a lid.  I keep the heat low so the cheese melts as the bread slowly toasts without burning. The lid helps to heat the pan , sort of like a mini oven.

Using a wide spatula, gently turn your beautifully toasted sandwich over and continue to grill until the other side is equally toasted and golden.

 Some of the honey will spill out and that is a good thing.  The edges of the sandwich will get caramelized – OMG, right?

And here is the beautiful end result.  The sourdough bread was a perfect choice for this tasty treat.  It’s chewy texture and slight tang married perfectly with the zing of the goat cheese and the sweetness of the honey drizzled fig.  The heating of the fig brought out more flavor.  Havarti cheese is very mild and agreeable, creating no sharp contrast with the goat cheese, just lovely meltiness and ooziness.

One last parting shot because I really liked the shininess of caramelized bread edges and the melted cheese with that pretty fig poking out.

Get creative with your grilled sandwiches.  Try different bread, cheese and fruit/veggie combinations.   Have fun with your food.  Your taste buds will thank you.

**NOTE:  Coconut oil is usually rock hard.  For this sandwich I gently heated the oil (DO NOT MICROWAVE) in a metal measuring cup over the lowest setting on my cook top and then used a pastry brush to apply the oil to the bread.

14
Aug
11

Where’s the Beak?

The Artful Dodger hipping Oliver to street lingo

“You do know what a beak is, don’t cha?” “It’s a birds mouth, isn’t it?” “For your information, a beak’s a magistrate.” That line from “Oliver”never made sense to me. Where is the connection? Anyone?

The Spanish word for beak is pico. I had a friend in Mexico nick named Pico because he was blessed with a hooter resembling that of Ringo Starr.

Pico de gallo is a popular salsa we like to pour over our tacos and enchiladas. But why is it called “rooster’s beak?” Again, where is the connection?

I consulted the “Food Lover’s Companion”, my first go-to book when I have a culinary connected conundrum. According to that source, “Pico de gallo [PEE-koh day GI-yoh] ….is a relish made of finely chopped ingredients like jicama, oranges, onions, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers and cucumbers along with various seasonings. This condiment was so named because it was once purportedly eaten with the thumb and finger, an action that resembles a rooster’s pecking beak.” Ok, I guess that makes some sense.

Here’s what I found on Wikipedia:

Another suggested etymology is that pico is derived from the verb picar, which has two meanings: 1) to mince or chop, and 2) to bite, sting or peck. The rooster, gallo inSpanish, is a common metaphor for the hyper-masculine (“macho“) male in Mexican culture. One example of such machismo is taking pride in withstanding the spicy burn of chilis.

However, neither theory can be considered definite, as they assume the use of hot chilis. In many regions of Mexico the term “pico de gallo” refers to any of a variety of salads, condiments or fillings made with sweet fruitstomatoestomatillosavocado or mild chilis — not necessarily with hot chilis, or any chilis at all. Thus, the name could be a simple allusion to the bird feed-like minced texture and appearance of the sauce.[2]

The pico de gallo I am used to seeing and eating in California and the Pacific Northwest is more of a salsa or salsa fresca. Tomatoes, onion and garlic are the staple. And it’s chunky yet a bit on the soupy side, so I can’t imagine trying to peck that up with your dedos (that’s Spanish for fingers).

My simple, spicy version of Pico de Gallo

Enough scratching and pecking for the significance of the name of this spicy concoction. Here is my simple version of Pico de Gallo:

3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

½ yellow onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, finely minced

1 large jalapeño, finely minced

salt and pepper to taste

chopped cilantro (optional)

Rough to finely chop the ripe tomatoes

These summer beauties were the perfect ripeness!

chop the onions

make sure they are pretty fine

ditto the jalapenos - keep the seeds if you want the heat or remove for a less heated condiment

Remove the skins from the garlic cloves

The easiest way to remove the skins from garlic is to chop off the hard, woody end and using the flat of your chefs knife, give it a good firm bash with your fist.  Did that make sense?  Place the knife on it’s side over the garlic clove.  Make a fist like you are playing one-potato-two-potato and smash it down on the knife.  One smash is all you need do.

Finely chop all of that beautiful garlic

Place it all in a mixing bowl and give it a good stir.  Season with salt and pepper to taste,  You can also add chopped cilantro if you like.  I didn’t have any on hand the day I made this, otherwise it would have made it in there too.

Spoon over your favorite Mexican dishes or anything that you like. It's great on it's own with some tortilla chips.

Whether you call it pico de gallo, salsa fresca, tomato relish or Mexican ketchup, it doesn’t get any easier to make.  Team it up with some guacamole and get the party started.  Hmmm….where’s that avocado?

31
Mar
11

All right, already, I’ll write something!



Hi, Vampire Gran here. I'm sorry I haven't posted here in Vampire Gran's Kitchen for a few months. Other interests have dragged me away, as I am sure happens to all of you from time to time. I'm back for the moment and ready to share some stories of what has kept me away. Hopefully they will be of some interest to someone out there. Let's get started, shall we?

The thing about seeing some of your blog readers in person on a regular basis is they can give you a hard time about not posting.  Right, Cat and Robert H.?  Yes, I am totally guilty of not keeping up with my self-professed passion of interest.  I’m sorry.  And I wish that I could tell you all about some amazing adventures of travel or winning the lottery or some such excitement, but there has been none of that.  Well, there was a nice trip to the coast recently and I will write about that, but not today.

Truth is I have allowed other interests to tear me away from my beloved blog.  For starters, I bought a new sewing machine.  It even has a name!  Anna. I did not name her, she came into my life already saddled with that moniker.  She’s a Baby Lock brand and she is so sweet!  Our old Singer needed some TLC and the cost of having that overhauled was about $50.00 less than a brand new machine, so, you do the math.  Anyway, I’ve been having fun mending a ton of clothes around here and making some frocks for my Barbies.  I’ve also been playing a lot of pool, getting ready to be on a 9 ball team with Katie starting tonight. I don’t want to make our team look bad by being a sucky player!

In January I taught a cooking class.  My friend, Angel, is the volunteer co-ordinator at North West Ministries and she asked me to come and teach again.  I taught a tofu class there this past November and it was a lot of fun.  Last time I had a set curriculum complete with printed recipes for everyone and actually knew what I would be working with.  Angel and I thought it would be fun to do a “black box” class.  A black box test is what you get in culinary school.  You don’t know what you will be cooking until you open the box and see what your ingredients are.  Since there is a full food pantry at the church and you never know what will be there, we thought it might be helpful to the people who depend on that food to learn how to utilize it and make it tasty.  Hence, the “Black Box” cooking class.

Fortunetly, Angel had a volunteer to help me all lined up.  His name was Robert and he was awesome.  Turns out he does personal cheffing so it really turned out to be the Patty and Robert show.  He wasn’t very vocal, so I did all of the talking, but I turned the stir fry portion of the class over to him and we worked well together.  Plus he was a whiz at keeping the kitchen spic and span as we worked!

A sweetheart of a guy came in and took pictures and a little video that I will share with you now.

It’s not the greatest video, but it’s something to share with you.   I wish it had some music or narration so you could get a better idea of what we were making.  Here are a bunch of still shots where I will attempt to describe what the class was like.  I’ll share a recipe at the end of this post.

As I mentioned, there is a food pantry at the church for people in need and this is some of the pretty nice produce that was available the day I taught the "black box" class.

I'm adding olive oil to some peeled and cubed butternut squash in this shot. The photographer arrived a little late for the actual cubing of the squash. This student was fascinated with everything. She had never had butternut squash before was was ready to try it.The baking sheet was lined with foil. After adding olive oil, salt and pepper to the butternut squash, I spread it all out on the baking sheet to roast.Here I am starting to make a glaze for the squash. There is some soy sauce in the bowl and the photographer asked me to show the bowl for the picture. Not too exciting as I had not added the remaining ingredients yet.

Squeezing in some lime juice to the sauce. Fresh lime juice is better but we're using what we have on hand, remember?

Whisking it all together. There's my most curious student. Wish I could remember her name. She was pretty sweet and very enthusiastic.

He moved in for a close-up of the whisking action.

This is a really nice food pantry. They even had Portobello mushrooms! I marinade it with lots of garlic, olive oil, soy sauce and hot sauce.

We cooked this mushroom off in a frying pan.  At home I would have used a grill pan or the barbecue.  The class really was impressed with this simple, yet unusual for them, treat.

That's Robert, my volunteer assistant. Not sure what was up with the dark glasses. I'm pretty sure he could see what he was doing.

See, there really was a few more students besides my number one fan there.

I look a little confused in this shot. Getting ready to measure some rice.

Robert is on veggie chopping detail for his stir fry.

He was a lot more precise than I would have been!

I'm telling you, if you need emergency food assistance, contact NorthWest Ministries in Portland. Look how nice these vegetables are!

Let's get some onion in there.

Vampire Gran taking the squash out of the oven for a bit of a stir before adding the glaze.

Doing a little glazing action now

Still at the stove while students look on

Meanwhile, back at the prep table, Robert keeps cutting up the beautiful veggies

We're turning, we're glazing

Unfortunately, the photographer had to leave before our feast was ready, so there are no photos of the complete meal!  Everyone sat down to a meal of grilled Portobello mushroom, vegetable stir fry over steamed rice, mixed green salad with a simple vinaigrette and sweet and spicy roasted glazed butternut squash.  We did it all in a two-hour time slot, including clean up and consumption of the meal.

I love this squash recipe.  I actually adapted it from a recipe that was on Vegan Good Things (you can click on her link over there on the right under  BlogRoll).  the original recipe was for Brussel sprouts which is fantastic, but I have found that this glaze works great with any vegetable.

SWEET AND SPICY BUTTERNUT SQUASH

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1/2′ – 3/4′ cubes
olive oil
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
In a large bowl, toss cubed squash in small amount of olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spread on foil lined baking sheet and place in a preheated 350 degree oven.  Roast for about 20 minutes.

GLAZE

2 – 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
juice of one lime
hot sauce to taste ( I usually free pour about 2 tablespoons)

Use the same bowl that you tossed the oil and squash in.  Mix glaze.  You are going to glaze the squash AFTER FIRST ROASTING IT FOR 20 MINUTES.
Remove squash from oven and toss in glaze.  Spread glazed squash back onto the baking sheet, reserving some for drizzling before serving, and return to oven.  Bake for another 15 minutes or until the squash is tender and caramelized.

That’s it.  You are done and it is delicious.

11
Jan
11

The world needs another Kale Salad recipe

The top selling salad at work is the Kale Carrot.  I made a batch of it yesterday.  It will all be sold out by the end of today.  How much kale is in a batch at a busy deli?  20 large bunches.  8 cups of toasted sunflower seeds and about 25 carrots. 

A few posts back I gave you the recipe for the kale salad we sell at work.  Kale is our new green at home.  I used to make dinner salad with romaine, but it has been replaced with kale.  I love it!  Plus, it has to be better for us than romaine or leafy green lettuce, right?

Lots of good nutrition in that bowl

According to Food Lover’s Companion, kale is a member of the cabbage family.  It is a cruciferous plant (having four-petaled flowers, suggestive of a cross) that provides ample amounts of vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium and iron.  I knew it was better for us than romaine!

So, last night our salad consisted of kale, shredded carrot, red onion, thinly sliced, a handful of chopped walnuts and satsuma wedges.  The satsumas are in season now and are oh, so sweet and juicy.  Be sure to remove the stems from the kale and wash the leaves.  Slice the leaves into thin strips.

Pretty little citrusy dressing

The dressing is what really made this salad outstanding.   Here goes:

1 large spoonful (2 tablespoons) of vegenaise

1 heaping tablespoon of frozen orange juice conentrate

1 tablespoon of orange muscat vinegar (Trader Joe’s)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

zest of one orange

Whisk it all together in a small bowl and dress salad.  Salad is best if the dressing has a chance to soak into the kale for about 30 minutes or more before serving.  I usually make the salad first and then prepare the rest of our meal.

A microplane is a great tool for zesting

If you don’t have a microplane, you can use a cheese grater.  A microplane is just so much easier to use and you get a finer zest.

A lovely salad for any time of the year

I hope you give this one a try.  We really liked it.  What did I serve this with?  Butternut Squash Ravioli in a garlic veloute sauce topped with Parmesan cheese and sweet and spicy roasted Brussel sprouts.  But it would be good just on it’s own with perhaps a hunk of garlic bread.

23
Nov
10

Everyday is Thanksgiving at our House

We don’t need a once a year holiday to feel grateful or to eat a big dinner.  Katie and I exchange gratitude lists every day and have since the beginning of our relationship of over 3 years.  I often talk about what I’m grateful for at work and my co-workers share in this as well.  It just feels good to talk about the good stuff in life rather than dwell on the crappy side of things.

As far as food goes, I make dinner every night and it pretty much always looks like this.

Dinner is served!

I don’t always have a centerpiece decoration on the table,  but I like it.  There is, however, always a tablecloth and place mats.  I’m just funny that way (Ok, I’m funny in a lot of ways!).  Dinner at our place always has a green salad of some sort, a grain, some sort of vegetarian protein and at least two vegetables.  We’ve cut way back on bread, pasta and cheese, so we tend to eat semi vegan meals.

Tonight I made a quinoa pilaf with toasted pecans and dried cranberries, roasted butternut squash, from our garden, paired with Fuji apple and Field Roast Applewood Smoked Sausage (it’s vegan, of course), steamed broccoli and kale and mesclan salad (also from the garden).

 It was delicious!

A full plate of food, we get full, yet never feel stuffed eating like this

Yummy quinoa pilaf. don't worry, I'll give you the recipe.

QUINOA PILAF

serves 2

1/2 cup quinoa
3/4 cup mushroom broth
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
olive oil, salt and pepper

In a small pan, bring broth to a boil.  Stir in quinoa, cover and lower heat to simmer.   Steam for 19 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Meanwhile, in a saute pan, heat a small amount of oil and saute onion until a bit browned.  Add nuts and cranberries.   Stir and heat through until nuts impart a wonderful fragrance.  Stir into cooked quinoa and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Butternut squash, Fuji apple and Applewood smoked Vegan sausage tossed in olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper, place in baking pan, cover with foil and bake for 35 -40 minutes at 350 degrees.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.  Katie and I will probably do our usual routine:  stay in our jammies, make homemade pizza, watch movies, play pool and eat pumpkin pie!

18
Oct
10

Purple Haze and Birthdays…….

I am not necessarily a tradition based person.  We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with any sort of tradition.  In fact, we haven’t celebrated either of those two holidays for 2 years now.  They are merely two paid holidays from work.  That being said, I seem to have fallen into a tradition in October that used to only be reserved for my Halloween born grandson.

For the past three years I have made a special birthday cake for my friend and grasshopper, Emily.  Her birthday falls on October 15th.  Emily made several delicious home-made pizzas and I made a spice cake with cream cheese frosting for her 24th birthday.  For her 25th birthday last year, we celebrated by going bowling and eating the Root Beer Cake.  As Emily is maturing to the ripe old age of 26th, her birthday cakes are evolving as well.  We decided several months back that this was the year of the Purple Haze cake.

Crazy delicious cake!

I used my Red Velvet cake recipe and substituted Wilton gel violet food coloring for the “traditional” red color.  Although I had hoped the cake would be a more distinct purple color after it was baked, it was still a huge hit.  I’d like to think it was my crazy baking talent that made it so tasty, but perhaps it was the “special” butter used in the frosting  between the  four layers  that made it truly an experience.  As the late Jimi Hendrix would say “Are you experienced?”  After eating the Purple Haze cake, everyone was indeed experienced.

A light, birthday nosh and the Purple Haze cake

Emily wanted salad platters for her birthday meal.  She mentioned seeing salad platters in food magazines and she wanted them for her birthday dinner.  We ate kinda late, as she and Chuck came directly to our house from Breitenbush Hot Springs where they had spent the night and then spent the day soaking in hot springs, being pampered with soothing massage treatments and feasting on amazing vegetarian cuisine.  They were ready to continue eating  healthy fare and then indulge in a wicked treat of a birthday cake.

Emily did all of the food styling on the platters

I roasted potatoes earlier in the day, as well as crisp stirred fresh organic green beans.

We love our grains!

A couple of days before her birthday, Emily and I brainstormed about what we wanted on the platters.  We got all organized and made a list of possibilities.  There were a few more items on that list, but what I managed to throw together, I’d say everyone was more than satisfied with the food of the weekend.

Feta cheese on the outsides of the platter, moving in to the wheat berrie salad and then spicy quinoa  in the center, topped by chili powder sprinkled avocado slices.  So simple.  So good!

Tastes so good and it's so good for you

A little do ahead work and you have a light meal

The potatoes were tossed with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic and onion powder and roasted in a 350 degree oven until done.  I sautéed the green beans in peanut oil, fresh chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and cracked pepper.  A splash of some mirin and put the lid on to lightly steam the beans for a minute.  They stayed bright green and very snappy.

We also had a bowl of mixed greens from the garden dressed with a creamy pesto concoction that I whipped up from what I had on hand.

And then came dessert………………………………

I was going for a certain look....

Ok, so when I think Purple Haze, I think hippies, tye dye, trippin’, Jimi Hendrix music (duh).  I envisioned a cake that looked like it was tye dyed.  This cake look more like stained glass window on the top (which was pretty cool) and the tye dye on the sides reminded me of some kinda medallions.  At any rate, it was a fun cake to make and it made an excellent conversation piece.  We kept it center stage on the table and sat around it, almost in worship.   But eventually we had to cut it.

It had to be done

See, it doesn’t really look purple in the picture, but it really had a purple tint to it in real life.  The frosting is my favorite vanilla butter cream.  The frosting between the layers  has coconut and almond extract.  The outer frosting is tinted vanilla.  It was a damn good cake.

Emily kept saying “this is the best birthday ever!”  Coulda’ been her best birthday ever.  Coulda’ been that she was exhausted from a spa day and a long drive.  Coulda’ been a belly full of delicious, nutritious food.  Or it coulda just been the cake talkin’.’




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