Saturday, February 28, 2015

Deep Dish Vegan Sausage - Grilled Artichoke Pizza, Sweet Potato Fries, Fennel - Blood Orange Salad with Fleur de Sel (for Kiddo and Daddy)

My wife is traveling for a few days. My daughter wanted pizza tonight, and I had her help me to make what turned out to be a terrific deep dish pizza (I used a frozen deep dish cornmeal shell). I sauteed with no oil some chopped vegan Field Roast brand apple sage sausage, onion, and bell pepper, then mixed in to an eggplant marinara. We spread the marinara and added olive and grilled artichoke hearts, plus some vegan Daiya brand cheese.

I love a fennel - citrus salad with good fleur de sel salt and prepared a version with blood orange for a client last night. My daughter requested it with tonight's dinner, so I got her to help make it. Some prepared frozen waffle-cut sweet potato fries completed our tasty dinner.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cauliflower with Blood Orange, Creamy Carrot-Kale-Lima Bean Soup, Seitan with Salsa (Almost No Added Fat)

I had a head of cauliflower to use and have enjoyed how tasty the cauliflower is in just a minute of pressure cooking. I thought I'd make a simple sauce by including tomato and bouillon cube, and add the spark of seasonal blood orange, which I found in the store yesterday. I also made a creamy carrot vegetable soup.  Here is what I did:


Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower cut into florets (approx. 5 cups)
  • 2/3 of a medium sweet (or other kind) onion cut into thick half moons approx. 1/4" x 1 1/4" (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
  • Medium tomato cut into 1/4" cubes (approx. a cup)
  • Blood orange (or other orange) peeled and segmented then sliced into 3/8" pieces
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 t oregano
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 T garlic powder (or 2 cloves garlic finely minced)
  • 3/4 cup onion (of any kind) cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/8 t turmeric

Process
  1. I put all of the ingredients except the garlic powder, cubed onion, peas, and turmeric, into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked on high pressure for just 1 minute.
  2. When I was ready to serve, I slowly let out remaining pressure slowly and opened the pot and stirred. It tasted fine but a bit bland, so I added the garlic powder, cubed onion, peas, and turmeric, and turned the pot on in saute mode to heat the peas (they were frozen), then served.
I also made the creamy carrot-ginger soup that I make not so irregularly (I list this dinner as almost being without added fat because of the few cashews in the soup), but added two kale leaves (stems and all), 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and a half cup of frozen lima beans, while omitting onion (I wanted to whip up a sample for my client who doesn't eat onion). Just for our portion, I mixed in some onion at the end. I served some tasty seitan with salsa on the side.


Results

My wife summed it up best when she said that dinner was good but I've made better cauliflower dishes. The cauliflower was a bit too bland and soft. It was good but could have used more flavor. The soup was also good but not as good as usual. No complaints, though - it was a filling, healthful, and reasonably tasty dinner.

Ideas for the future

I really need to try cooking cauliflower for a minute but under low and not high pressure. If I make a dish like this one again, I should cut the water back to maybe 1/4 cup as the dish was a little too liquidy.

I feel a bit bad that the blood orange, a bit expensive and not often available, didn't exert much of its presence in the meal. I do like the idea of cooking with blood oranges - a dish like this one would have, in hindsight, been better with the fresh uncooked orange pieces added at the end.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Black Beluga Lentil with Tomato, Three Kinds of Kale, and Bok Choy, served with Jade Pearl Rice with Carrot and Onion (No Added Fat)

I have some new clients for whom I provide personal chef services. They have been enjoying the food that I have prepared for them, but asked that I prepare something with less spice and no onion. I decided to try a dish with black beluga lentils. They are easy to cook with a 1:4 ratio lentils to water, pressure cooked for 10m. I made a big batch today of a dish that I thought would work well for them. Here is what I did:


Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups black beluga lentils
  • 5 cups (i.e., 4 times as much as lentils) water
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 1T miso
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely (approx. 1/8") chopped
  • 1 medium tomato cut into 3/8" cubes (approx. 1 1/2 cups); ideally, it should be a green unripe tomato, but the best I could find was one that was barely ripe and showing on maybe 30% of its surface green
  • 6 leaves kale (I used two leaves from each of red, green, and lacinato kale), stems left for compost, and leaves roughly hand torn into small approx. 1/2" squares (compressed, about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 4 stalks bok choy cut into 1/4" cubes (I could have used it all, but ate up the leafy portions to give a consistent white cube)
  • 2T fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t salt

Process
  1. I put the lentils, water, bouillon cube, miso, garlic, tomato, and kale into the Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  2. When I was ready to serve, I slowly let out remaining pressure slowly and opened the pot.
  3. I added the bok choy, lemon juice, black pepper, turmeric, and salt, mixed, and served.
I also made some Jade pearl rice, cooked with onion and carrot.

Results

Wow, the lentils (and, as always, Jade pearl rice) were great! It was fun making this dish without onion - the garlic added enough flavor that onion was not needed. In fact, as we were eating, I asked my wife if anything could be changed, and she liked it just the way it was. The lemon added a really nice fresh flavor that reminded me of a Greek or Middle Eastern thick soup, more than of an Indian dish.

Ideas for the future

Maybe a bit of carrot would be good, but I also agree with my wife's assessment that the lentil dish was great as is. I had forgotten but could have used some ginger - that would have been a nice addition. I like the flavor of ginger and its healthfulness; perhaps adding just a bit, 1t or so, of ginger would be good to give a slight flavor. I generally prefer lentils more like a stew, but the liquid in this was just right to me.  A little bit of preserved lemon or lemon zest could be good.

It's easy cooking with black beluga lentils - 1:4, 10m high pressure, and that's it! I should use these lentils more often, perhaps in thicker preparations that are then served within, perhaps, a tortilla roll or atop an uttapam, for example. Yum!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Waterless Baby Artichokes with Sweet and Red Potatoes, Vegan Apple Sage Sausage

I love baby artichokes and found them in the store last night. As I first described back in May 2006, it's easy preparing them. As I wrote then, "I removed the tough outer layers of leaves till I got to fairly tight and lighter colored ones, cut the bottoms and a little more of the tops off, then quartered them and placed them in lime juice to avoid discoloration." Now, I rarely use oil in cooking, so decided to prepare the artichokes waterlessly - i.e., put into a high quality stainless steel pan with a small vapor escape and cook, covered, on medium high till the vapor escape starts to jiggle, then reduce heat to low to stop the jiggling and cook for about 20m or more. I prepared something else for my Dad, who doesn't eat garlic, so was able to use some garlic in the cooking.

I also simply heated a vegan Field Roast brand apple sage sausage and served one sausage for my wife, one for me, and a half for my daughter. Each sausage has 10g of fat; I was tempted to list this meal as "almost no added fat", but 10g is significant, so I'll leave off added fat claims, though the rest of the meal is no added fat. Here is what I did:


Ingredients
  • Half of a  medium onion cut into approx. 1/4" x 1" half moons (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1 small purple (or other kind) sweet potato cut into 3/8" cubes (approximately one cup; if organic, keep skin on and otherwise, first peel)
  • 1 medium red (or Yukon gold) potato cut into 3/8" cubes (about 3/4 cup - same instructions on skin as above)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely (1/8" or so) diced
  • 10 baby artichokes prepared as described
  • Approx. 1/4 t salt
  • Approx. 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
  • Approx. 1/8 t dried oregano
Process
  1. I put all of the ingredients, in the order listed above, into a large Saladmaster stock pot.
  2. I covered the pan and heated on medium high until the vapor lock started rattling, then reduced heat to low so there was no rattle.
  3. I cooked for 20m (longer is fine to keep the food hot), stirred, and served along with the vegan sausage and heirloom tomato slice.
Results

It was a good idea to cook the artichokes in this manner. The meal turned out well!

Ideas for the future

Neither my wife nor I could think of any additional ingredients that could improve the main course. Perhaps a little more garlic could have been nice, perhaps roasted garlic added at the end. I had considered creating a sauce, maybe white wine or miso based, for the main course, but it really didn't need it. I should do more waterless cooking with artichokes.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Thick Moong Dhal with Sauteed Broccoli (No Added Fat)

I love attending a new (year-old) local institution on Monday nights, PopUp Chorus, and needed to put dinner together quickly today. I thought that I'd try making a dhal with vegetables like potato and bell pepper, really a lentil stew, and put some skinned and split mung beans into my Instant Pot pressure cooker earlier in the day and set a timer to be ready an hour or so before dinner, enough time for me to add some vegetables and run the pressure cooker a second time.

As it turned out, the lentils tasted great when they were done and I went with them as-was without vegetables. I also made a simple broccoli sauté. Here is what I did (incidentally, tonight's chorus was particularly exciting; the chorus director proposed to his girlfriend via a song that he had written!):

Ingredients
  • 1 cup skinned and split mung bean lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/8 t ground cumin
  • 2t fresh squeezed lemon juice

Process

  1. I rinsed the lentils then cooked them in the Instant Pot pressure cooker, with all the ingredients except for the lemon juice, for 10m.
  2. I slowly released pressure and opened the pot, then mixed in the lemon juice.
  3. I thought it would take 12-13m and was going to add some vegetables and then cook again for 2m more, but I was delighted with the creamy flavor of the lentils, so - that's it!
I also made a simple broccoli and onion sauté on a cast iron pan.

Results

The dhal was excellent! I like this thick style of dhal. It's so easy and nutritious! The broccoli was also good.

Ideas for the future

I had forgotten, but some ginger would have been great in this dish, too. I could have served with some raw onion but chose not to as the dish was so full of flavor. The liquid was just right for this thick dhal; any less water and the pot would have had a bit of sticking. I'd like to make a thick dhal with vegetables as I had originally intended, using a 1 : 3 1/2 ratio to allow for slightly longer cooking, adding 3/8" cubes of sweet potato or Yukon gold potato, maybe a half cup of 1/4" cubed onion, and maybe a quarter cup of 3/8" cubed bell pepper.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Waterless Yukon Gold Potato with Bok Choy and Baby Lima Bean, Jade Pearl Rice with Spinach (No Added Fat)

I made a simple waterless dinner tonight. I put into my large Saladmaster stock pan (in this order):
  1. A medium red onion cut into 1/4" half moon slices
  2. 3 large bok choy stalks cut into 3/4" slices
  3. 2 medium carrots cut into 1/2" slices
  4. 5 small Yukon gold potatoes cut into 3/4" cubes
  5. Leafs hand-torn and roughly torn into approx. 3/4" pieces from stems of 4 kale leaves
  6. A cup of frozen baby lima beans
  7. A teaspoon of frozen chopped basil
I covered, brought to medium heat, and waited for the vapor release valve to start vibrating. I then reduced the heat to low and cooked, with no valve vibrating, for at least 20m.

I also made some Jade pearl rice by first sautéing a medium shallot cut into 1/4" thick half moons and about 1/4 cup of bell pepper cut into 1/2" slices in a pan with no oil. Then I added about 1/2 cup of Jade pearl rice and 1 1/2 times (i.e., 3/4 cup) water, plus maybe a dozen spinach leaves and a vegan bouillon cube, and brought to a boil. I simmered, covered, on low heat for 20m.

Dinner was good. I was thinking of making a miso sauce to serve atop the vegetables. The vegetables were good but the sauce would have enhanced them.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mushroom Barley Vegetable Soup, Multigrain English Muffin with Caponata, Baby Arugula with Pecan (Almost No Added Fat)

We are going through a cold winter spell, so barley soup sounded good. Hulled barley is supposed to cook in a 1:3 ratio of grain to water in 25m under pressure. Here is what I did:

Ingredients
  • Approx. 1 3/4 cup onion cut into approx. 1/4" x 3/4" half moons; I, alternately, used a very large shallot that ended up being almost 2 cups
  • 2 medium carrots cut into 3/8" slices (approx. 1 3/4 cup)
  • Medium bell pepper cut into 3/8" cubes (approx. 1 3/4 cup)
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes cut into 3/4" cubes (approx. 2 cups)
  • 2 cups mushroom (white or crimini, but oyster mushrooms would be a nice alternative) cut into 3/8" slices (about 6 ounces)
  • (Optional) 3/4 cup thinly (1/4") sliced celery
  • 3/4 cup hulled barley
  • (Optional) 1/8 cup French lentil. The only reason that this is in the ingredient list is that I had this small 1/8 cup of lentils that I wanted to use up, and I didn't think they'd substantially change the texture or taste, while contributing to the nutrition, of the soup. I otherwise wouldn't use lentils.
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 1 1/2 T miso
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 2t fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 t salt or to taste
Process

  1. I put all of the ingredients except the salt and lemon juice into my Instant Pot and cooked on high pressure for 25m. (Hulled barley usually cooks in a 1:3 ratio for 25m, but I used extra water to have a soup.)
  2. When the Instant Pot was done, I slowly released pressure, added the lemon juice, and tried the soup, adding salt as needed. I think that I actually used 1/4 t salt.
I also heated a multigrain English muffin and put a little caponata on top. I served baby arugula with golden raisins and just a little bit of pecan. Each half pecan is about a gram of fat; I used about 3 halves per dinner plate, so, with the little bit of caponata, I describe this meal as an almost no added fat one.

Results

Dinner was great! The soup came out better than I had expected. The barley was cooked but more chewy than I would have liked it. The lentils were hidden - I couldn't detect their presence.

Ideas for the future

My Dad is visiting and he doesn't eat garlic. When I tried the soup after I opened the cooker, I thought it was good but could use a bit more flavor. I served him and then added 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. It would be better cooked into the soup, so I put the Instant Pot in medium sauté mode and cooked for 2 or 3 minutes. The garlic was good, but needed to be more pronounced, so I also added maybe 1/4 t garlic powder.

The consistency was good and closer to a stew than soup. I decided to cook the leftovers for 5 more minutes to cook the barley a bit more, and first added another 3/4 cup or so of water. The barley was still a little chewy - maybe 35m next time? The other vegetables might get too soft. I'd try maybe 32m.

I think that a little bit of red wine cooked into the soup would be good. My daughter had a great suggestion, that of adding lemon zest. So, this is what I would do next time to take a great soup and make it even better:

  • For more of a soup, I'd use 2  or 2 1/2 cups of water, and also add 1/4 or 1/2 cup of red wine
  • I'd add 3 or 4 cloves of finely diced garlic in at the beginning
  • I'd cook for 32m instead of 25m
  • I might add 1/4 t or so of lemon zest just before serving

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