Monday, July 27, 2009

Must Remember Vegetarian Goodness!

I was so unbelievably crazy busy last week that I didn't get a chance to tell you all about the most wonderfully delicious food I made. A travesty! Well this week you'll get two posts. Unless I get busy again...But the food must be documented so I won't forget it! It's all so delicious, it must be made again!

So if you recall 2 weeks ago, I made a bunch of meat. Not surprisingly, since I'm not a big meat eater, I was in the mood to go vegetarian last week. I stuck with lots of veggies, whole grains, and legumes mostly. But don't worry. I did some easy chicken in teriyaki sauce for Husband. Nothing special to blog about there. Heh. Anyway, here is the deliciousness that was my food for last week:
  • Spring green risotto, courtesy of Ina Garten. Oh my word, this is good. Even Husband, Mr. if it doesn't have meat or chocolate it's just ok, went on and on about how good it was. This was my first time making risotto, and I have to say it wasn't bad. Lots of stirring. It takes a little more thought to time management. But definitely do-able! First off, I was very pleased at how many veggies were in this dish. Usually grain dishes call for about 80% rice or pasta with only a sprinkling of veggies. Have you noticed that? It totally bugs me. This one was different. It was at least 50/50, if not more weighted to vegetables. After I added all the peas and asparagus, it almost all didn't fit in the pan! Make sure you use a big pan if you make this. And the flavor! I don't know where it came from! I added the ingredients. I thought it would taste pretty good. And then I took a bite and my head just about exploded from flavor. This Ina Garten is amazing! I think it was the combination of the wine with the fennel. Oh, this was also my first time using fennel. It's good! I skipped the mascarpone cheese because I've never had mascarpone cheese (I find it easier to leave out a flavor if I don't know what I'm missing, heh) and I didn't think the extra fat would be needed. And I think I was right. Also, I used green onions instead of chives because I already had some on hand. My only regret is that they don't make brown arborrio rice. I'm all about the whole grains!
  • White beans with tuna, courtesy of The Kitchn. I'm all about cannellini beans lately (aka white kidney beans). They're fantastic! Creamy and light and slightly sweet. Yum. I did this light cold, well it was basically a salad, because I wanted some easy protein and I wanted something cold. I used champagne vinegar instead of red wine because I wanted to keep it light and not too strong. And my red wine vinegar may also be the cheapest stuff you can buy at the store, which after watching the vinegar episode of Good Eats, I now realize is not the way to go. Also, I left out the onion because, well, I forgot all about it. I don't think it was needed, though I'm sure it would have been tasty. It's very tuna-y, so if canned tuna doesn't do it for you, I would skip this one. Otherwise it hit the spot!
  • Miso carrot and ginger dressing, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. Phew! It took me some google searching to remember where I had gotten this recipe. It was a last minute find, so it wasn't in my usual email list where I keep my recipes. I should have known it was Smitten Kitchen...since that's where I seem to get most things, right? I wanted more vegetables, and this recipe also allowed me to try more of the white miso I bought for the miso soup I made a few weeks ago. I shredded half a head of red cabbage and mixed it with a shredded broccoli and carrot mixture I bought from Trader Joe's. I made 1 1/2 times the recipe, and it turned out to be just enough for my giant tupperware's worth of veggies. This was another winner, for sure. The dressing is wonderful. It was sweet from the carrots, salty from the miso, and the ginger went really nicely. It went perfectly over the veggies to make a nice, cold slaw. Geez, I'm into those a lot lately. Could it have anything to do with the fact that it's boiling hot?
  • Bulgur wheat with lentils, caramelized onions, and mushrooms, courtesy of Culinate. I have to say...this was right up there with the risotto for me. Husband wasn't as big a fan, but he also has something against food that looks like a can of dog food (and thus lentils, mostly). This was a really earthy dish. The lentils and mushrooms had such a nutty flavor together that I ended up sprinkling some sliced almonds on top. That really did it for me. The extra crunch was nice. I also served it over a bed of arugala for some added vegetable. The sweet onions went so well with the earthy flavors. This is one to repeat, for sure. Note: it looks like the Culinate website is down today, so you won't be able to check this recipe out until tomorrow. Contain yourself!
  • For dessert/breakfast, I tried these peanut butter banana oatmeal bars, courtesy of Visions of Sugar Plum. They really appealed to me because first, I had some over-ripe bananas to use up. Second, I've been totally in the mood to bake with banana ever since I saw the banana episode of Good Eats a few weeks ago. Third, I like that it used whole grains to make it a little healthier. And fourth, who doesn't love peanut butter, banana, and oats together? I do! Overall they turned out...pretty good. Husband wasn't too impressed, mostly because he was looking for a totally different consistency he never would have gotten with the ingredients that were in there. He wanted fluffy. These were chewier. The puffed rice gave them a softer, kind of soggy texture. Husband suggested I try added baking powder next time to help with the fluffing. I think he's crazy and he doesn't know anything about baking. I don't know if I'll make these again. I enjoyed eating them, but I think similar ingredients in another recipe might work out better. Like maybe an oatmeal banana bread? I did find a better, more delicious, much less healthy way to use up my over-ripe bananas. But that's a recipe for this week's second post.
  • Soft pretzels, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. I made these for a picnic/outdoor concert we went to with some friends on Thursday night. Thursday was not a good cooking day. I also made pork bao, which I've mentioned before. Both recipes I've made successfully before, but not that day. I think that when I know I'm cooking for other people, I get tense and things just don't turn out as good. Also, I totally ran out of time. I didn't properly calculate how much time I would need to bake the pretzels and steam the buns. Or really, I just didn't take batches into account. I was frantically throwing buns in mesh strainers that were rigged over pots of water. But let's talk pretzels. First off, you'll need to roll these out really thin. Don't worry, you'll be amazed how much they puff up. If you leave them thick, then they're smoosh together as they rise and won't have that awesome pretzel shape. Also, don't use parchment paper! Or if you do, spray it with Pam first. I used it plain and my dough stuck like crazy to the point where my pretzels just looked like blobs. I didn't have time to bake the 2 sheets in batches, so I threw one pan at the bottom of the oven, where it by no means cooked evenly. I was so disappointed that I almost threw them straight in the trash after they came out of the oven. Husband convinced me not to. And go figure, everyone loved them. They each had at least 2 (so more than just a no thank you helping), some had 3. He had fun saying "I told you so". I didn't add anything on top, like pretzel salt. I don't have pretzel salt, and I think the dough is plenty salty by iteself. Also, the flavor of the pretzels is greatly enhanced by topping them with some Gulden's mustard. I'm telling you, it goes the best. By far.
This food was all so good! I would make it all again, which is why I wanted to make sure to blog about it. It's a good way to find the recipes later. Hopefully I'll have time to blog again later this week to tell you all about what I'm eating this week. Let me just tell you now, so far, so frakking good!

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