Tag Archives: tomato

Squash, Apples, Wine, Cows

15 Oct

Those are all things that I like a great deal.  Needless to say, I am a very happy girl about now.

This past weekend, Paul and I visited my parents in upstate New York.  We had a very relaxing and fun time with them, and even got a day of sunshine to enjoy things outdoors!

We ventured out on Saturday to find some apples.  Not many orchards are doing pick your own apples this year, due to the low yields.  That was okay though, because my arms aren’t completely healed and I’d be stuck with the low hangers anyway.  So we stopped at a local orchard and purchased about 20 lbs. of apples.  You see, Paul and I make fantastic homemade unsweetened applesauce.  Time to get canning!

My mother wanted to stop at a local bakery, but that ended up being closed for a family wedding.  However, we found two wonderful things as we turned away from the abandoned bakery: so many cows, and a sign pointing us towards a winery.

The winery is called Johnston’s Winery.  We followed painted signs pointing us to a private residence in the middle of nowhere (we were already in the middle of nowhere, this took us a bit more in).  None of us had much hope, but a very nice gentleman showed us into his brewing room and showroom.  He had a number of fruit and grape wines, and I have to say they were some of the best New York wines I’ve had.  Now, I’ve never really been a fan of New York wines to begin with.  Some of them aspire to be too much like Boone’s Farm.  Anyway, we were really surprised, especially with his Chardonnay.  It was delicious and fruity and nothing like Chardonnay wines usually are (I’ve come to decide they usually taste like fermented bath water).  This guy knows his stuff.  He even let us check out his brewing set up!  It was a thing of dreams, really.  We left with a mixed case, which I can’t wait to dig into.  If you’re ever in the Galway/Charlton area of New York, you should check it out.

We stopped on the way back to say hello to the cows.  I sure do love cows.  Now sadly, we were separated by an electric fence that the cows would not get within ten feet of (can’t blame them), so we were just able to trade some moos back and forth.  I have a whole slew of pictures of cows looking at me funny.  But this one was my favorite.  Her attention could not be taken from the grass.  Chew chew chew.

 

Before we left for my parents’ house, I had some squash to cook.  Every fall, I get so excited when all the variety of squashes come out and it’s just mountain of gourds and they all look beautiful and delicious.  One squash I’ve never tried is the weird dinosaur looking one.  Hubbard squash.

Since Hubbards are HUGE, we jumped on the chance to buy just a piece of one.  The whole ones can be a bit intimidating

 

Squash usually does well in soup, so I did some digging around to find some ideas.  I settled on a pinto bean and mixed squash soup.  So thick and beany and squashy!

Pinto Bean and Mixed Squash Soup

adapted from Cooking Light; makes 6 large servings

  • 3 cups dried pinto beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped onion
  • 4 cups winter squash, chopped 1/2″ (I used Hubbard and Butternut)
  • 1 cup sliced carrot
  • 1 Tbsp. chipotle in adobo, chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground sage
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (low or no sodium optional)
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. dry roasted pumpkin seeds

1) Prepare beans: place beans in a pot and cover with water so that beans are below 2″ of water.  Let sit for 8 hours.  After beans have soaked, drain them, then place in a pot with 4 cups of water.  Bring beans and water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, cover the pot and let simmer for another 30 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet, and cook the onion, carrots, squash and chipotle until the onions are softened and starting to brown.

3) Add the onion mixture to the beans, then add the thyme, sage, crushed tomatoes, and vodka.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and cook at a reduced heat for at least ten minutes, but as long as you’d like, making sure that the squash is tender.  Stir occasionally.

4) Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with the pumpkin seeds

 

So, in this soup, the Hubbard squash tasted much like the butternut.  The texture was a bit different, maybe a bit more grainy.  I liked it, but because of its bumpy skin, it’s a bitch to peel and chop.  I might just stick with the butternut in the future.  But still, adventure!

Note on the vodka: my boyfriend is a chemist.  He taught me all about esters and how tomatoes react with alcohol to release these wonderful things called esters that make things taste more flavorful and complex.  You can do it with any alcohol, vodka is just a relatively otherwise flavorless booze that you can use with any flavors.  I’d try this again with red wine!

The Freshest Bread and Vegetable Soup

2 Dec

Wooo, bread and vegetable soup.  Sounds boring, right?  Yeah, it sounds boring.  But when everything is fresh and home made, holy geez there was a party going on in my belly.

I’ve still been working my way through The Vegetarian Epicure, Book 2 but the bread chapter is so large!  I can only eat and give away so much bread.  Really, bread is becoming a treat for me, not something that I’m going to eat regularly.  But, I had bought a bag of rye flour and wanted to put it to use.  Rye bread is my favorite bread.

I’m still working on my bread baking skills.  I can do anything with white flours, but when I turn to whole grains I end up with something a bit more dense than I would expect.  Does anyone have any tips?  Or is this just the way it is?

The rye bread was actually a mixture of unbleached bread flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour and oatmeal.  The overwhelming flavor ended up being wheat.  Disappointing, but not bad.

To offset the carby carbs, I decided to start the soup chapter as well.  Soup is, afterall, one of my favorite things.  And with the snowy Rochester weather, it’s a perfect time to start cooking some up.

The vegetable soup recipe in The Vegetarian Epicure, Book 2 is really just a loose outline  of a soup.  Here’s what I did with it.

Fresh Vegetable Soup

makes six very large servings

1/2 medium eggplant, peeled

1 red bell pepper, seeded

1 medium potato

2 medium zucchini

a handful of mushrooms

3 scallions

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 large dill pickle

1 1/2 cups baby spinach

2 medium tomatoes

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 vegetable bouillon cubes

salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper to taste

1) Chop the eggplant – onion into large chunks.

2) Slice the garlic and pickle into thin slices, and chop the tomatoes into 6 – 8 wedges each.

3) Add all of the vegetables to a large stock pot.  To this, add about 12 cups of water, the oil, vinegar, bouillon cubes, and spices.

4) Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for at least 30 minutes.  The longer this soup goes, the better it is!

Really, it’s silly to write up a recipe for this.  Throw whatever vegetables you have in a pot and season them to taste!  I meant to put some corn in there too.  I would try seasoning this differently, using some vegetable stock/broth instead of water or using some Braggs.

Regardless, this makes a very brothy and chunky soup.  Incredibly filling, especially with some bread torn into pieces and thrown on top!

Hey, that exciting news I mentioned before is still coming!  Woo woo woo!

Souperbowl Sunday

8 Feb

I don’t really care for football.  I don’t really care for pizza, and I especially don’t care for wings.  So, I made yesterday into a Souperbowl Sunday!

This is one of the most simple recipes ever, as minestrone is a forgiving soup.  Add whatever, season with whatever, and then eat a big bowl and smile.

Here are the specifics for this particular bowl of soup:

Two large carrots, chopped

One stalk of celery, sliced thickly

Two or Three cloves of garlic, minced

A half cup of frozen green beans

A half cup of frozen onions

Three and a half cups of water

Two vegetable bouillon cubes

Twenty-eight ounce can of crushed tomatoes

Three-quarters of a teaspoon dried basil

One tablespoon dried parsley

A pinch of rosemary

Add all of that to a soup pot, and bring it to a boil.  Cover, and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes.  Then add:

Three small zucchini, cubed

Fifteen ounce can of kidney beans, drained

A half cup whole wheat elbow macaroni

Bring it back to a boil, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the macaroni is cooked.

I got six big servings out of this pot of soup.  A little cheese or nutritional yeast would go well with this as well.

Pizza and wings?  What pizza and wings?

Spicy Red Lentil Soup

16 Mar

To me, lunch is probably the most important meal of the day.  Before I started working from home, I would throw whatever leftovers were around in a container, or wrap something in a tortilla and call it lunch.  But now I’m working from home and I can’t keep from wondering what’s in the fridge every hour or so.

So, I’ve been trying to make filling and interesting lunches for myself.  I have been following the 1600 calorie meal plan out of Becoming Vegan, and the lunch meal is lentil soup.  I’ve been playing around with lentils and have wanted to post the baked lentils that I’ve made big pans of for the last two weeks, but they’re so damn unattractive.  Needing a change, I decided to go for some lentil soup.

I had some fresh ginger in my fridge leftover from the birthday dinner I made for Bret (uggh, I’ve been so bad about photographing and blogging my foods), so I found a recipe that used it.  I made this Spicy Lentil Soup from Jenessa on Recipezaar.

Spicy Red Lentil Soup

Ingredients!

1 tsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. chopped garlic

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 cup red lentils

1 1/2 Tbsp. paprika

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp. herbes de provence

28oz. can whole tomatoes

Directions!

Saute the garlic and ginger in the olive oil until they are fragrant but not burnt.  Add in the rest of the ingredients, including the juice from the canned tomatoes.  Break up the tomatoes with a spoon, stir well, cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer until the lentils are tender.

This soup is SO RED.

I didn’t change much, other than using a vegetable boullion cube and water instead of the broth.  It took about a half hour for the lentils to cook, then I took the cover off of the pot and let it thicken a little bit.  I usually eat soups with more vegetables, and I think adding some peppers, onions, celery or whatever is around would be great.

My stomach is full and doesn’t really care what else is in the fridge right now.

– Ellen

Pasta, Sauce, and Tofu Salad

9 May

Lydia was skeptical when I told her that raw tofu was edible. I managed to talk her into putting it into a cold salad with some tomatoes and snap peas and carrots, though the ultimate tasty of the salad came from Lydia’s dressing/marinade that she made. It had lemon juice, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, and some sugar in it, and it was the best. She gave me the measurements which were like:

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 teaspoon orange juice

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

I think. Then she marinaded the tofu in it. Good.

Oh and the pasta sauce was some tomatoes and some leftover pasta sauce and some peppers and garlic. And get this – almond butter. When Lydia and Brenna cook I get scared. It turned out tasty though. Their ways of cooking are just totally alien and strange to me. Every time I watch them cook my sanity fractures just a little.

But it’s always tasty.

-Bret

Habanero and TVP Chili

3 May

It’s food Friday! (By the time you read this, though, it’ll probably be Saturday because I don’t want to post twice in one day). Food Friday is growing like an alien life form a small child has hidden under his bed and is feeding leftovers until one day those leftovers are not enough and it eats his parents and then the military is dispatched. Because it’s been chilly for the last week, we made chili to warm our bones.

Man. I just love cooking for people and having them eat it and like it. I volunteered to be one of three people making a pot of chili, even though I’ve only made chili a couple of times. But here’s a secret – chili is easy to make. At least I think so. So I just looked at some recipes and brainstormed some ingredients and this is what I ended up with.

I made it last night, but had a dilemma of how to keep it warm when I bring it in. So I brought it in to work in a slow-cooker. But I didn’t have anywhere to plug it in, so I just put it underneath my desk. That’s the slow-cooker hiding behind the cardboard box. I hid it so that I wouldn’t get yelled at for, like, a fire hazard or something.

One of the guys I work with just came up and asked me for the recipe. He has some nieces who are veggie and he said it’s hard to find “robust” vegetarian chili. He said he had three helpings and it’s a nice pleasant burn. I’m so happy!

Oh hey this is what it looks like.

Ingredients!

2 tablespoons vegetable oil of your preference

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 habanero peppers, diced (use gloves if you’ve never cooked with habaneros before)

2 28 oz. cans of tomatoes – I use one can crushed and one can whole but you could do whatever

2 15 oz. cans of appropriate chili beans – if you like beans a lot throw in another can

1 cup TVP (this measure could be off because I just dumped a bunch in by eyeball – it might have been closer to 2)

1/2 a small bottle of Dos Equis

cumin!

Directions!

Like I said, this is chili. It’s easy. Put the oil in the bottom of a big kettle. Saute the bell pepper and onion until it’s nice and soft. Now just dump in everything else. Yeah! Dump it!

So, I dump the beans in water and all but some people think that’s a bad idea. If you agree, rinse the beans off and and add, like, two cups of water.

Add cumin to taste! Then let it cook for a long time. Like, until the TVP gets soft, but since this is chili if you just put it in a slow cooker and leave it alone it’ll be good.

It turned out a tiny bit watery. I think more beans and more TVP could easily be added if you like a thicker chili, but I like a little bit of “broth” in mine. The three habaneros gave it a nice heat that wasn’t brutal. This is definitely a recipe I’ll make again in the future, and I’m super-proud I came up with it pretty much on my own.

-Bret

Farmer’s Market Couscous Salad

28 Apr

I do not trust Brenna around seasonings. You know what she does with herbs and spices?

Terrorism.

She also just does things that scare me. The other night we made popcorn and she says, “You know what would go good in this popcorn? Cinnamon and cranberries.” My sanity teetered on the brink of uh insanity for a minute. Then she did it and it was good, but I still felt like there was something wrong with the world.

That’s actually a bad example, now that I read it. Though I was coming from a mindset of SALT AND SOME FORM OF OIL. Her weird combinations usually involve something like ground mustard.

Okay, I’m rambling. Anyhow, the Ithaca Farmers Market is open now so we went. I did not see a single farmer for sale! (Ba dum bum tish!) Pickings were slim. I bought some kale. Brenna wanted to buy some stuff and make food with it and she ended up walking away with chives and lemon thyme. After brainstorming ingredients (I think chickpeas was my only contribution) we got the rest at Wegman’s.

Let me editorialize for a minute. I kind of mislike the Ithaca Farmers Market. Most farmers markets you go to and buy directly from the farmer, putting money directly into their pockets, cutting out the middle man, and saving you money. Ithaca? Not so. Farmers Market prices are more expensive than grocery store prices. Now, I can’t blame the farmers. Ithaca has a substantial yuppie-hippie population that loves to do things like buy organic and local and all that, so the demand is there. Farmers can jack their prices. But still, the result is that I tend not to go there as a result.

So, couscous salad: I’m going to try to recreate the recipe the best that I can, but since Brenna did most of the thinking and I just chopped veggies it might be off.

I need to get better lighting.

Ingredients!

2 cups couscous

1 15 oz. can chickpeas

1 cucumber, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

juice of 1 lemon

chives and lemon thyme chopped up and added – I’m not sure of the measurements but maybe half a cup of each?

salt to taste

Directions!

Cook your couscous. Let it chill. Then mix in all the other stuff. Blam!

I might have added some olive oil to this mix, and afterwards Brenna said she wished she’d picked up an orange bell pepper. That might have been good. But still, this was really great. The lemon thyme was badass. I’d never even heard of the stuff.

-Bret

Layered Rice with Eggplant and Coconut (Baingan Biryani)

24 Apr

Jennifer posted the recipe for the biryani in the comments for the post. I’m reposting it here in case you missed it. Thanks Jennifer! Heart-heart! -Bret

Layered Rice with Eggplant and Coconut (Baingan Biryani)

2 cups Coconut Milk
1.25 cups Basmati Rice. (sorted and washed in 3-4 changes of water)
1.75 cups Water
.5 cup Grated Coconut
1-3 Dried Red Chile Peppers
1 Large Clove of Garlic
5 Quarter-size slices of fresh peeled Ginger
1-3 fresh Green Chile Peppers
1 Onion
1 ts ground Coriander
1 ts Garam Masala (+ .25 ts for garnish)
.5 ts ground Turmeric
3 TB Peanut Oil
1 lb of Eggplant (cut into bite size pieces)
1.25 ts salt or whatever
1 large Tomato
2 TB fresh chopped Mint Leaves
.5 cup Fresh Cilantro
2-3 TB Lemon Juice

1. Soak rice in the water for 30 minutes.

2. Place grated coconut and red chiles in skillet and dry-roast until golden and fragrant. 1-2 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to blender and process along with garlic, ginger, green chile peppers and onion until finely ground. Mix in the coriander, garam masala and turmeric and process again. Transfer to large nonstick saucepan. Add 2 TB oil and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat. About 5 minutes.

3. Add the eggplant, half the salt and .5 cup Coconut Milk. Cook over high heat about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, cover the pan and cook until eggplant is soft. 15-20 minutes. Remove to a bowl.

4. To the same pan, add 1 TB oil, tomato, mint and cilantro and cook over medium heat until most of the tomato juice evaporates. About 2 minutes. Add the rice and the water it’s soaking in along with remaining salt and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook until the rice is almost fully cooked, about 10 minutes.

5. To assemble the biryani: Remove about half the rice to a bowl. Spread the cooked eggplant mixture over the rice that remains in the saucepan. Cover the eggplant mixture with the reserved rice. Drizzle the lemon juice over the rice, cover the pan, and cook over the lowest heat setting, 10-15 minutes, to blend the flavors. Sprinkle garam masala on top and serve.

Chickpea Pantry Pasta

23 Apr

Holy wow this recipe. A co-worker of mine gave it to me a long time back, and ever since then I don’t think a month passes that I don’t make it at least once. It’s my stand by. Got some pasta hanging out collecting dust? Love chick peas? Desirous of tasty? I recommend!

Ingredients!

2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb. linguine (though I’ve used all kinds of pasta for this)

1 15. oz can chickpeas

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup red wine

chopped green onion

chopped tomato

Directions!

Okay, take a pasta boiling pot and put enough water in there for a pound of pasta. Add the two teaspoons of salt. You can also add the water out of the can of chickpeas. I like to do that. Now put it on high heat to get it to boil and when it boils add in the linguine. You may want to break the linguine in half when you do that.

While that’s going dump the olive oil into a pan. Heat that too over about medium high heat. When the olive oil starts to get shimmery add the red pepper flakes and the chickpeas. Sizzle sizzle. Let them cook until the chickpeas are nice and browned up. Once that happens, add in 1/3 cup of the pasta water (I hope you haven’t dumped it yet!) and the red wine.

Oh! This is the ultimate recipe to make with someone you like a bunch. You can go out to get the ingredients together but also go out and find a nice red wine. Before you even start cooking uncork it and pour yourselves a glass. Talk about the wine and whether you like it and the flavors and whatnot. Seriously, this is the ultimate nice social cooking recipe.

Anyways, leave the chickpeas alone and let it cook down. Your pasta’s probably done by now. Dump it into a colander and then put it back in your pasta pot. When the chickpea fluid has cooked down to a nice oily base, dump everything in with the pasta and toss it. Now serve! This serves about 6 I’d say. Sprinkle the green onions and tomato on top. Oh and add red pepper flakes to taste. That’s good too!

Here’s a warning, though. The chickpeas are wily. Eating this with a fork can be troublesome and is a learned skill. When you serve it a lot of the chickpeas go to the bottom so you might need a fork and a spoon for serving. I like to use tongs and a spoon. But it’s worth the trouble.

Vegetarian note: This might be a recipe for one those hard Italian cheeses to be grated onto it at the end, but I have found it to be totally satisfying without. Your call!

-Bret