Category Archives: Cookbooks

Recipe redux: just your basic white beans and tomatoes

Apparently it’s a good thing I signed up for Recipe Redux because it’s the only thing getting me into gear to post at all for the past few months! Much of my “new” activity on the cooking front lately has been using our new dehydrator to make backpacking meals. I actually thought that would be an interesting topic for a blog post or two, but every time I sit down to write, I’m pretty “meh” about the results. I think I’ll need to do quite a bit more dehydrating before I can write something informative! And with that little aside, back to the topic at hand….

April’s theme was “Treasured Cookware” and to be honest, I was a little stymied at first. The prompt read (in part): “many of us cook with a pan, a wooden spoon or another piece of cookware passed on to us from the kitchens of our favorite relatives. Let’s see what you can cook up with your treasured kitchen tool!”. I actually own very little inherited cookware, thanks to having a very geographically far-flung family.

So instead of focusing on cookware, I decided instead to stretch the theme a bit and do a recipe centered around an ingredient that I first got a taste of in my mother’s kitchen, and that I still love eating today: the humble white bean. When I was little, one of my favorite dishes was a simple white bean and chicken casserole, served over rice. Total comfort food.

Today’s recipe is another simple white bean dish, one adapted from a very classic source, Elizabeth David. I’ve been loving the new(ish) collection of her recipes, Elizabeth David on Vegetables. This dish, an adaptation of her Haricots a la Bretonne, is simple and satisfying, just like that casserole I grew up with.

The original recipe is described as a “wonderful background for eggs”, and that’s how I have most frequently enjoyed it. This particular batch I paired with a bowl of greens and tahini lemon dressing:

One of these days (when I’m cooking for a few more people at once) I’m going to use this as the basis of an alternative version of shahshouka: break a few eggs over the top and bake. Yum.

White Beans with Tomatoes
Adapted from Elizabeth David on Vegetables
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 1/2 c. white beans, soaked in water overnight
1 onion, pierced with 1 clove
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 4-6 pieces
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
salt, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast (not in the original, but I like the effect, not to mention the B vitamin boost!)

1. Place all ingredients except salt, olive oil, and tomatoes in a medium sized saucepan and just barely cover with water. Cover pot, bring water to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer (still covered) for 50-60 minutes, until beans are tender. Drain off liquid and reserve for later use.

2. Slice the onion (clove removed). Chop the carrot into 1/4″ pieces. In a 12″ cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until it takes on a golden brown color, 8-10 minutes. Add the tomato and carrot and saute for two minutes more. Add 2 tbsp of the reserved cooking liquid and the nutritional yeast, cook for two minutes more. Add the white beans, stir to combine, and cook until the dish is heated through. Remove from heat.

Serve alone, under an egg, over rice or quinoa, or with a piece of crusty bread to sop up the leftover juice.

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Nut-stuffed Baked Apples (vegan-izable, gluten free)

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Last weekend, I went to the market and bought a bag full of Granny Smith apples to make today’s recipe. Then I went to the library and finally jumped on the Nigel Slater bandwagon, checking out a copy of Ripe. I’ve been seeing references to Slater around the blogosphere (Lottie+Doof seems to be particularly, and charmingly, in love with him), and when I noticed that he authored a good many of the recipes I was bookmarking over on BBC food, well…it just seemed like a sign.

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Despite what that last paragraph may have you thinking, this post is actually not about something I baked from Ripe. Nope, on Saturday afternoon I first got busy in the kitchen. Then I sat down to peruse my new literary/culinary find while the heavenly smells of apples baking slowly filled the air around me. For those of you unfamiliar, Ripe is a cookbook devoted to fruit (plus a nut or two). Each chapter is devoted to a different fruit, and the chapters proceed alphabetically. Meaning that I was reading about apples and smelling them at the same time. When the apples came out of the oven, I paused reading long enough to snap a few photos, then switched over to reading about apples while eating one. And the very first recipe I turned to when I sat back down at the table with my baked apple? Why, one for baked apples, of course. As food experiences go, it was bordering on the profound.

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My version of baked apples was conceived as an attempt to make a “healthy” alternative to the apple pie my father bakes on special occasions, something suitable for more regular consumption. I skip the pastry crust and leave the apples whole, coring them and stuffing with a spiced blend of almonds and walnuts. For those of you used to seeing apples spiced with cinnamon, the choice of cloves may seem a little odd. It’s taken straight from the recipe Dad uses, out of his classic 1970’s era copy of Cookery the Australian Way, and should be tried at least once. If you aren’t sold, you can go back to cinnamon. But I bet you won’t want to go back.

P.S. Ripe so far looks absolutely amazing and I am just itching to try some of the recipes. Perhaps this weekend I’ll buy another bagful of apples to experiment with.

Nut stuffed baked apples
makes 8 apples

Ingredients
8 Granny Smith or other tart cooking apples
3 tbsp coconut oil (for a vegan version) or butter
1/2 c. raw almonds
1/4 c. walnuts
1/4 tsp. cloves

Method

1. Using a small paring knife, cut a cone out of the top of each apple, then cut out the core and seeds, leaving a small hole all the way through:

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2. Start oven pre-heating to 400F. Place 1/4 c. almonds in a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Process to a fine meal, then add the remaining 1/4 c. almonds and 1/4 c. walnuts. Pulse 4-5 times, coarsely chopping the just added nuts.

3. In a small, microwave safe bowl, microwave the coconut oil/butter for 20-40 seconds, until melted. Stir in the cloves. Add the nuts to the oil/butter and clove mixture, and stir until evenly incorporated.

4. Arrange the apples in a baking dish. You can also place each apple in a muffin tin, or get fancy and use individual little ramekins. Spoon the nut mixture into the hollowed out cores of the apples.

5. Bake for 20-40 minutes, depending on the size of the apples and the desired level of softness. We generally like them super soft and will bake for around 35 minutes, but I’ve had large apples need a little longer. Remove apples from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Braised cauliflower with three seed sauce (Vegan With A Vengeance)

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I’ve mentioned the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook at least once or twice already on this blog. VWAV is one of the first (I think the absolute first) cookbook by the now ridiculously well-known Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who’s name has become practically synonomous with tasty, approachable, and slightly irreverant vegan cooking and baking. While this is not the first vegan cookbook I ever owned, it was the first one that I really seriously used. I also liked it enough that I went on to acquire copies of Moskowitz’s later books: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Veganomicon, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and Vegan Brunch. And even though I’m no longer vegan, I still enjoy looking through these books and taking inspiration from their pages.

This three-seed cauliflower braise is an example of the great balance Moskowitz strikes in her best recipes: simple enough for a beginner cook, but still beautifully flavorful and with a few twists to make it stand out. I was initially thinking of being a bit lazy and using powdered versions of the cumin and mustard for this recipe, but when I realized I was getting low on a few other items, I decided it was worth making a trip over to the crunchy food co-op with the extensive spice collection after all.

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Although I’m sure the dish still would have been delicious made the lazy way, there was something about having the whole seeds included that really added to the effect of the dish. I especially liked the inclusion of fennel seeds, not an ingredient I would usually think to add to a curry dish (though it is sometimes included in garam masala blends). It adds a sweet undertone, not to mention helping to distiguish the cauliflower from the chickpea curry I initially paired it with for Monday evening’s dinner.
Later in the week, I skipped the extra curry and just added some plain chickpeas to the cauliflower to make an easy hot lunch. Good stuff.

Braised cauliflower with three-seed sauce (adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
28 oz. diced canned tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 head cauliflower (about 2 lbs), cut into florets
pinch of sugar

1. Drain tomatoes, reserving 1 c. of the juice.

2. In a large pot or skillet, heat the olive oil to medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and slightly translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper, salt, cumin, mustard, fennel, turmeric, and bay leaf. Stir and saute for another 1-2 minutes.

3. Add the cauliflower, stir, and cook for another two minutes. Add the tomatoes, cook for 5 more minutes. Finally, add the reserved tomato juice and sugar. Cover for 3-5 minutes, until sauce is bubbling. Turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the sauce has cooked down and thickened a bit (there will still be a fair amount of liquid, don’t try to cook it totally dry!). Remove from heat and serve.

Method

Kale, Coconut and Chickpea Salad (Super Natural Every Day)

Coconut Kale salad

After having it on my mental “find a copy” list for ages, I finally got my hands on a copy of Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, and it was well worth the (entirely self-imposed by busy-ness/laziness) wait.   Continue reading Kale, Coconut and Chickpea Salad (Super Natural Every Day)

Cookbooking: The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen

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While I love making up my own recipes, sometimes it’s great to sit down with a cookbook and do things someone else’s way. So today, I’m presenting what will hopefully be the first post in an occasional series of cookbook reviews, where I’ll tell you what I think about a book, and show off something I cooked from said book. I’ll be kicking off with a well-worn favorite of mine, The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, by Donna Klein.
Continue reading Cookbooking: The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen