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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Gallo Pinto
I live mainly of different combos of rice and beans; Viva Vegan has brought another 20, or so variations on that theme into my life. Also, this cookbook has given me a reason to buy the more obscure types of beans from the supermarket that I’ve previously passed over, not being sure what to do with them. (The beans used here are “Central American red beans.”
I’m currently training for a half marathon and starting to get up there in the mileage on my long runs. I’ve gotten to the point where I can no longer fake my way through by just eating whatever I feel like: I notice I get seriously wiped out after my long run if I don’t do some plan ahead and stock up on carbs before a long run and replenish my stores with plenty of high-quality food after.

I figured Gallo Pinto, a Nicaraguan/ Costa Rican takes on this classic combo would serve me well. And it did. I didn’t cook it quite as long as the recipe indicated, so not sure if it perhaps is less mushy than the traditional should be. I liked it this way though. I think the recipe said this would make 6 servings, I ate about 1/2 of the whole batch in one sitting. Hey, I was hungry.

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Spicy Tortilla Casserole with Roasted Poblanos; Classic Cabbage

I’ve had my eye on this recipe out of Viva Vegan for a while. Mostly due to the fact that I had a perfect amount of somewhat stale tortillas sitting in my fridge, left over from the time I made enchiladas, vast amounts of frozen tomatoes from this summer and a shitload of potatoes, thus having most of things on the ingredient list at my disposal. Things that needed to be used, to boot.

This turned out great. I will say that I made the sauce and pine nut crema, roasted the poblanos, as well as boiled the potatoes the night before, which greatly reduced the cooking time. Had I not done that it would have been early evening and I would have been starving by the time lunch was ready. Also, the recipe says 2-3 jalapeño peppers and cautions it can get hot. I used 2, de-seeded and for me, this was not at all spicy. The next time I’ll leave the seeds in at least on of the peppers, and probably use a grand total of 3. I found myself dousing this in hot sauce to up the spice.

Also, while the tortillas were pretty old, they’d lived in my fridge and where thus still kinda moist. I left them out under a kitchen towel over night to dry them out and achieve maximum staleness. I think this was a good thing as they held up well in the casserole, I’ve read that other people had problems with the tortillas disintegrating completely. I may also try making the casserole with beans and/or greens and mushrooms next time.

I paired the casserole with another Viva Vegan recipe. “Classic Cabbage” basically a coleslaw with a lime-cliantro vinaigrette. I made the “Cilantro-Citrus Vinaigrette” according to the directions in the book (I made the lime only variation). Next time I will up the proportion of citrus significantly as it wasn’t quite zesty enough for me. Still, I like to make a recipe according to instructions the first time I make it, to see if I might learn something new.

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I made this to use up stuff in my fridge. Primarily four green tomatoes that I couldn’t figure out what else to do with. It turned out well, a bit too hot at first, but mellowed when I let it sit. Don’t tell anyone, but the green curry paste I used had been (and still is) sitting in my fridge since 2007, or so. Yeah, I know. But I didn’t die from botulism, so whatever.

Recipe after the jump.

Green tomato, sweet potato coconut curry

(more…)

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Much chickpeas are consumed chez foodmonkey. I’m on a temporary no-hummus regimen due to rehab-related issues. That doesn’t mean I can’t work chickpeas in here and there in other ways.

Today I tried something I’ve been meaning to make for a while: “Lablabi” a blended chickpea soup out of Olive Trees and Honey. I gather it’s a North African thing. I normally don’t post recipes straight out of cookbooks out of respect for the author, copy right and such. I thought I’d break that rule here, because I can’t imagine there aren’t a thousand versions of this already on the internets.

Lablabi

It’s sort of like hummus soup minus the tehina (hummus is the Arabic and Hebrew word for “chickpea,” so I guess it is in fact hummus soup). Very very tasty. Totally hit the spot for me. I suppose you could eat it with a few toasted wedges of pita if you were feeling ambitious, but I was lazy so I didn’t. I think the more “authentic” way is to leave more whole chickpeas in there, I think I will next time. Trust me, there will be a next time.

Here goes:

Lablabi — North African Chickpea Soup

2 1/2 cups dried chickpeas

olive oil

1 onion

3 carrots

1 small celeriac

3 big cloves of garlic

10 cups of water

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp harissa

1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin

freshly ground black pepper

salt

juice of 2 fresh lemons

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

Prep:

Rinse the chickpeas thoroughly and throw out any bad ones. Soak over night in a bowl of water. I’m a bit pedantic and like to change the water a few times, but that’s just me). Also, I like to add a tablespoon or so of baking soda to the soaking water, this helps the chickpeas get tender later on.

Now for the actual cooking:

Chop the onion. Fry in a large heavy bottomed pan in the oil over a low heat until transparent and soft. In the meanwhile, chop the carrots and the celeriac. Crush the garlic. Add to the onions and fry for a while longer until everything is soft and aromatic. Rinse the chickpeas, add. Pour in the water and add the bay leaves. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until some of the chickpeas begin to break and they are soft enough so that they make a non-grainy mush when you crush them with a spoon. Add the harissa, pepper and cumin. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. Fish out the bay leaves.

Let cool a little. Blend quickly in a food processor or blender (I like to leave a little bit of chunkiness.) Add salt to taste and stir in lemon juice. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and eat.

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Chickpea Farinata is a recipe from Cranks’ Bible that has become a standby in my kitchen. It is super easy to make and makes a nice change from bread. It’s all chickpea flour and water, but it turns out sort of like a frittata or a thick pancake. I like to eat it fresh or heated for breakfast.

I believe it is Southern Italian or Sicilian in origin. Nadine Abensur gives a few suggestions for toppings, tomatoes, olives and eggplants among them. I’ve tried all of the above and they are very tasty. The version pictured is my own though, and grew out of the fact that I have a huge amount of za’atar at home and want to use some of it up. Even though it’s an Italian recipe I think it works nicely with more Levantine spices and accessories.

250 g chickpea flour

750 ml warm water

1 tbsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup za’atar

olives

3 tbsp olive oil plus extra for the za’atar and for the dish

Whisk the water into the chickpea flour a little at a time so as to avoid lumps. Add the salt and the cumin. Nadine Abensur’s recipe says to let stand for at least 2 hours. This time I let it stand over night, but I’ve made it without letting it rest and to be honest I couldn’t really tell the difference.

Set the oven to 450 farenheit.

Mix the za’atar with some water and olive oil.

Add the olive oil, red pepper flakes and the black pepper to the chickpea batter.

Stick a casserole dish or oven-proof skillet in the oven with a little olive oil in it to coat. When the oil is hot and sizzling pour the batter in. Sprinkle with the za’atar and olives, or whatever toppings you want to use.

Let bake for about 15 minutes or until the batter has set and the top is golden brown.

Let rest for a while and then eat.

I like it about 1 inch thick. I have no idea if that’s authentic or not, but it’s damn tasty.

Chickpea Farinata

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I try to stay as seasonal as possible and mostly shop for vegetables at the farmers’ market. In New York City in March, this means pickings are rather slim. The most well-stocked farmers’ market is the one on Union Square, but even there we’re talking mostly different types of roots. I’ve pretty much done beets, carrots, parsnips and turnips to death at this point, so I figured I’d try a recipe based on celeriac.

I made the Celeriac Soup with Bouillabaisse Seasonings out of Cranks’ Bible and served with rouille as suggested.

Celeriac Bouillabaisse

The rouille recipe in the book was based on egg yolks, I figured I’d take a stab at egg-less rouille. Basically I used the same recipe but substituted silken tofu for eggs. I used 4 cloves of garlic, but think next time I will cut down on the amount of garlic, my rouille was very garlicky, probably because the tofu isn’t as fatty as egg yolk and thus doesn’t cut the garlic as much. It was still tasty though. Also, my rouille didn’t float on top of the soup as well as the rouille pictured in the cookbook. Next time I will try adding some tehina. I think that might help make it creamier and more bouyant, but then again, the flavor might be a bit off. A third option that I will try in the future is blending some white bread into it, I noticed many traditional rouille recipes involve bread.

As for the soup, it involved 1 carrot and about 1 kg celeriac, leeks, saffron, orange peel, lots of garlic, plenty of wine and a bunch of herbs. Next time I will add a little more carrot and maybe a potato and use a little less celeriac. It had sort of a bitter celeriac undertone that was ok, but not my favorite.

Here’s the recipe for vegan rouille:

Egg-less Rouille

1 packet of silken tofu (not the vacuum packed kind)

1 tsp paprika

a few dashes tabasco

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp tomato purée

2 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper

juice of half a lemon

a few tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt

Chop the pepper and garlic. Throw all ingredients in the blender. Blend. Add a trickle of oil while blending.

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Weekly Soup

Turkish Mixed Legume and Bulgur Soup

I tend to be too busy to cook during the weeks. Instead I try to make a batch of soup on the weekend that I freeze into portions for future use as workday lunches. I’m about 10 months into doing this systematically so at this point I have a good variety of soups in my freezer. Some might say way too much soup for my tiny freezer to handle.

Lately I’ve had to slow down a little and not make soup for a week or two since I was running out of space. Instead I lived off UFOs (unidentifiable frozen objects) from when the grass was greener and the produce at the farmers’ market more exciting.

Unthawing a vegetable stew with summer squash, aubergines and fresh herbs was like having my own little piece of August right here in my dismal February kitchen (but without the mosquitoes and the oppressive heat).

Today the time had finally come to make soup again. I chose the Turkish Mixed Legume and Bulgur Soup from Olive Trees and Honey. I’d had my eye on this one for a while. Since it doesn’t have any fresh veggies in it, it didn’t make sense to make during the harvest season. I figured now was the perfect time since all there is at the farmers market is potatoes and roots.

I had lots of little amounts of stuff that I needed to get rid of, like 3/4 cup of bulgur. This recipe which mixes black eyed peas, chick peas, lentils and bulgur was perfect for that. I used homemade vegetable broth so that there would be at least some nutrients in there. Other than that the only freshness in here was chopped parsley and mint, which cut it suprisingly well, but I think next time I might add a few veggies to the mix. I think carrots and celery might work particularly well.

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