Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beets beets beets

I've been eating a ton of beets recently. It's just that time of year, the lull before April asparagus. Let's see - beet and romano cheese risotto, a simple apple and beet salad, roasted beets, delicious beet and goat cheese salad, and the giant pot of borcht I made last week! It took me... a while to get through it, but I easily pawned some off on my mom. Freeze some for a suprise a month or two from now.


The amounts in this recipe are approximate. This is a clean out your fridge kind of soup, don't use what you don't have, add things like cabbage or tomatoes if you have them!

3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 or 3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 beets, peeled and chopped
1 potato, chopped
2 apples, chopped
2 bay leaves
8 cups of vegetable stock (I used 2 boullion cubes with 8 cups of water)
sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, saute onions in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots, and saute for 5 mintues more. Add beets, potato and apples, bay leaves and stock. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until beets are cooked through. Remove bay leaves, season with salt and pepper. Puree in a food processor to desired consistency - add more water if needed. I used my immersion blender for the first time! I left some chunks for texture. It was delightfully easy!

Some new food I've enjoyed recently! First a disclaimer: I have a general distaste for anything spelled with a "z." Not as in zebra or zap, but added z's, especially in food product names: such as "T-ribz," a vegetarian version of the carnivorous food. I never would have bought this product because of the aforementioned "z," if not for the friendly sample woman at the Big Carrot. However, now I know the deliciousness of t-ribz, I think I can manage to get past the name. I have no idea what actual t-ribs taste like, since the last time I ate them I was 9, but these are an amazing, generally healthy vegan fast food! They're made by Sol, whose whole line of prepared tofu and veggie burgers are vegan AND gluten free. Basically, they're strips of firm tofu covered in a tomato paste/tamari/barbecue-style sauce. I fried mine in a bit of olive oil and at them on a bed of quinoa, but the sample lady told me to try them for breakfast with potatoes! I might try recreating the sauce at home sometime, but for now, in the middle of exams, it's a great fast food.

So, my birthday party a few weeks ago! I hapily feasted on leftovers for at least a week, but no one bought me a crock pot, which I'm a little disappointed about... just kidding! My boyfriend gave me an immersion blender AND a bike! Soon, I will be carrying around tupperwares full of pureed soups and sauces on my new green Miele road bike. For party food, I tried out a bunch of new recipes - not a great idea right before you invite 20 people to eat at your house - but they all worked out great! Here's one of my favorites:

Corn and Avocado Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa, cooked
1 cup cooked corn kernels (frozen or leftover corn on the cob)
2 green onions, sliced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

What is quinoa you ask? A delightful ancient seed - it's technically not a grain - that comes from South America, but is also grown in Eastern North America. 6,000 years ago, it was one of the most important food sources in South America, but was scorned by Europeans during the conquest of South America, who thought of it as 'Indian Food.' It's a complete protein (meaning it has all essential amino acids), is gluten-free, and high in iron and magnesium. Plus they have these cute little tails once they're cooked - I think it's the endosperm.

Rinse your quinoa! Most important step for tasty quinoa! I soak mine in warm water for 10 minutes, then give it a few rinses in fresh, cold water. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add drained quinoa, reduce to low heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Let quinoa cool.

Meanwhile, prep veggies. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Pour over veggies in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Add cooled quinoa, stir and fluff. The end! (If you're making this ahead, leave out the avocado until right before you serve it so it doesn't get all brown and mushy).

PS. check out my new lists of cookbooks and other books, with reviews to come. also, here's two of my kitties - they're looking forward to helping out in the garden (read: lounging in the sun while I do all the hard work).

Monday, March 9, 2009

forgotten vegetables:

Celariac root, jerusalem artichoke, dandelion greens, tatsoi, rapini- those weird vegetables you pass by at the farmer's market every week. Don't cast them aside just because they don't show up in cookbooks. How do I cut it open? Is the skin edible? What the heck does it taste like? And why is it called a Jerusalem Artichoke? Google it! The answers are all there...

Rapini is maybe a better known vegetable, but one I always forget about. Is it broccoli? Is it spinach? Anyway, here's a recipe from Vegetarian times I made the other night; it's super simple, with minimal ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.

Rapini with Beans and Cherry Tomatoes

1 bunch rapini, washed and coarsely chopped
olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup cooked navy beans or white kidney beans (aka cannellini beans)
Parmesan to taste
salt and pepper
Cook the beans (or use canned). Heat the olive oil in a big pan (I used my wok). Add garlic, cook for 30 sec. Add the rapini before the garlic starts to burn. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until the rapini is cooked. Set aside on plate. Add more olive oil to the hot pan, then add cherry tomatoes and saute until blistering. Add beans, cook for 2 or 3 more minutes until the beans are heated. Season with salt and pepper. Pile (nicely) on top of the rapini. Grate lots of cheese on top! Or, sprinkle with tasty bread crumbs for a vegan version.

I ate this along with some delicious maple-soy glazed mackerel, and it was the tastiest (and prettiest) meal I've had in a long time. Speaking of mackerel, I've started eating fish in the past month, after reading Tars Grescoe's Bottomfeeder. It's a very interesting book about the state of the world's fisheries. You would think that after reading about cyanide bombs in coral reefs and collapsing fishery dates set for 2050, I would have no interest in fish whatsoever. But ever since I went vegetarian, I've been craving seafood, sneaking in some smoked salmon at a party once a year, maybe some cocktail shrimp at a free function.
However, after reading Bottomfeeder, I've decide to be educated in my fish choices and go for it once or twice a month. Never again will I fall for Atlantic smoked salmon or cocktail shrimp, which might as well be the factory farmed meat of the sea. Atlantic Salmon is raised in environmentally disastrous fish farms, and most shrimp come from chemical filled in-land ponds in India or the Philippines, which are responsible for poisoning local food sources and clear-cutting mangrove forests. Instead, I'm sticking to fish closer to the bottom of the food chain, such as mackerel, a fish that matures in only 2 years (versus some large fish that can take 10-20 years). It also comes from nearby - there's a large mackerel population that spawns in the St. Lawrence. Check out the book for more information, or websites like Sea Choice or Seafood Watch to find out what fish are an ethical and environmental choice. Here's a tasty mackerel recipe!

Maple-soy glazed Mackerel

1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup soy sauce (tamari for the gluten-free)
1/8 cup red wine

Preheat oven to broil. Combine all 4 ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then turn down to medium heat. Simmer for 7 or 8 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to about a 1/4 cup of thick glaze. Set 2 mackerel fillets in on some foil in a baking pan, skin side down. Brush 1/3 of the glaze on fish, then broil for 2 minutes. Remove fish, brush another 1/3 of glaze on, then broil for 1 more minute. Repeat once more (for a total of 4 minutes cooking time, using up all the glaze). Eat! This glaze can turn any food into amazingness. I tried in on broiled tempeh this week. 

PS. Almost planting time! I'm starting off my tomato and squash seedlings next weekend!