Showing posts with label dinner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dinner. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bavarian Spiced Portobello Mushroom Pasta

It was a dark and stormy night... and there wasn't much in my fridge except a lonely portobello cap and half a can of diced tomatoes.  So, I settled in to accepting the likelihood that there would be another pasta dinner on the horizon.  But tonight I decided to try something a little different.

I poked around my pantry for a box of spices a friend had gotten me for New Year's Day (thanks, Jessica!) and discovered this one marked "Bavarian Style Seasoning" which had me intrigued.  The label stated that this was a hand-mixed blend of crushed brown mustard, rosemary, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and sage. It sounded sausage-y to me, so I figured it would work well with the portobello.

I started by dicing the mushroom and sauteing it in olive oil until soft and lightly browned.  Then I threw in some sliced garlic and fresh basil. Once the garlic was golden and fragrant, I added about a teaspoon of the spice mix and some salt and pepper.  Instant aroma!  I deglazed with the tomatoes and let the sauce simmer until it thickened, about 10 minutes.

I tossed the penne pasta with the sauce, then topped it with some fresh thyme sprigs from my garden.  For a twist on the standard pasta sauce, this hearty, savory, and slightly tangy topping was a success.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What I eat

I'm often asked what I cook for myself for dinner, and while the standard answer is "something quick and easy," I do try to be creative.  Or at least use one ingredient that's fresh, seasonal, and a little different.  So this week I prepared a few entrees for myself using something from my garden in each one.

On Tuesday night it was a curried tofu scramble made with potatoes, mushrooms, and some collard greens from my garden.  I topped it all off with chive blossoms which were blooming in a pot on my sunny backyard deck.

On Thursday night it was even easier.  I thinly sliced a Russet potato, layered it in a baking dish with some chopped onion, drizzled some olive oil and sprinkled salt and pepper on top, then baked it in a hot oven until the edges started getting browned and crispy.  For the last 5 minutes I topped it with some Daiya mozzarella style "cheese" and let it get all melty.  Then I pulled it out of the oven and squeezed some Sriracha sauce on top, and garnished with fresh chopped parsley from my garden.  This was dinner divine.

Tonight I went for the old standby of pasta.  I decided to make a vegan bechamel sauce since I had a head of broccoli that needed to be used.  I made the sauce by pureeing tofu with mellow white miso, raw cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic, olive oil, soy milk, and sea salt.  I topped it all off with some fresh thyme sprigs, which added a lovely lemony flavor to the final dish.  Simple, yet oh so satisfying.  Welcome summer!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gluten-free Shell Pasta with Spinach, Mushroom and Tomato Cream Sauce

This was another quick, toss-together dinner featuring a comforting, thick and rich sauce perfect for a rainy evening.  I started by sauteing a bunch of  sliced cremini mushrooms and chopped garlic in olive oil until soft, then stirred in some baby spinach.  Once that was wilted, I added some crushed tomatoes, fresh basil, salt and pepper.  For the creamy part, I stirred in about 2 tablespoons of Tofutti cream cheese at the end.  I tossed this with my al dente pasta, then topped it all off with some homestyle chopped basil.  Done!  Delish!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This week's dinner

People often ask me what I cook for myself for dinner, assuming it's some wild and adventurous experiment every night.  While I'd like to think I'm creative with even the humblest of meals, I tend to opt for what's quick and easy.  And in the case of dinner earlier this week, I went with a simple stir-fry... with a slight twist.

The base was red onion, carrot, and broccoli which I stir-fried with some peanut oil in a hot pan.  

Next, I panfried some tofu with a little tamari and toasted sesame oil.  When this was browned and lightly crisp, I transferred all the veggies back into the pan and added some chopped pistachios and wild garlic chives from my yard.  So, that was the little creative twist to this still so simple stir-fry.  And, just to get a little more cheffy, I topped it all off with a basil chiffonade.  Woo!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Broccoli, Red Pepper and Rice Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce

This was last night's "throw together" dinner.  I had a skimpy stalk of broccoli, a hefty bunch of green onions, and the ends of a red pepper that needed to be used.  The red and green color combination was the perfect inspiration for a noodle dish, so I decided to pull it together with my favorite "go to" sauce made with peanut butter, tamari, toasted sesame oil, red pepper flakes, ginger, garlic and lemon.  Ahhh... success!  So simple, yet oh so satisfying.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pan-fried Tofu and Broccoli with Tahini Gravy and Colcannon

Tonight's dinner was a little more creative than most (believe it or not, last night's feast was rice puff cereal) as I had some leftover colcannon from cooking earlier in the day.  What's colcannon you ask?  Well, it's a traditional Irish side dish of mashed potatoes mixed with some chopped greens, usually cabbage, but I made it with Lacinato kale today.  Perfect for St. Patrick's Day, nonetheless.

I decided to pair it with tofu because I had some in my fridge and thought it would make a nice contrast to the mash.  Normally, I bake my tofu after marinating it in tamari and toasted sesame oil, but since I was feeling impatient and hungry after a long hike, I decided to pan-fry it.  This requires a hot skillet (non-stick works best), and enough oil to coat the surface.  After sizzling on the first side for about five minutes, I flipped it over and splashed a little tamari on top.  I let this cook another 5 minutes or so or until it was lightly browned and crispy.  I set the crispy tofu aside, then moved on to the broccoli.

I added just a touch more oil to the pan, dropped in the broccoli (after testing one floret to be sure it was hot and sizzling first), sprinkled it with a pinch of salt, then let it cook until browned.  Really.  You want some browning because that brings out the natural sweetness.  (trust me - it's unbelievably delicious).  If you've ever had toasted kale chips, broccoli cooked with this method is just as addictive.

After removing the broccoli, you'll have bits of brown stuff stuck in the pan which you won't want to go to waste.  So mix together some water, tamari and a little cornstarch, then pour it into the hot skillet to deglaze all that goodness.  Stir it together until it gets thick, then whisk in a little tahini for richness.  Pour this silky gravy over the tofu and serve with your reheated colcannon.  Dinner served in less than 30 minutes (and gone in about 5).  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mashed potatoes and gravy

To me, mashed potatoes and gravy is the epitome of comfort food.  When that cold wind is blowing outside, inside I'm dreaming about something warm and soothing.  So it was the other night when wind gusts nearly blew me off my back porch.  Even though the snow is rapidly vanishing, there's still a chill in the air as winter makes way for spring.  This meal took the edge off.

For a little variety, I boiled a turnip and some garlic along with the Russet potato, then mashed them all together with soy milk and Earth Balance.  The gravy included some sauteed crimini mushrooms and shallots, and was thickened with tahini.  ahhh... divine.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Baked Polenta with Mushroom Gravy, Quinoa and Green Beans

I had a craving tonight for biscuits and gravy.  This posed a problem for two reasons:  1) biscuits usually aren't gluten-free which means I can't (or shouldn't) eat them, and 2) it would take some time to research and test a gluten-free alternative recipe, and I was just too hungry for that.  Instead, I went for a simple shortcut and had dinner on the table in 15 minutes.

The solution?  Polenta.  You know those tubes of pre-made polenta that you can cut up and pop into a hot oven then bake until crispy (or simply microwave if you're in that much of a hurry)?  That's what I used in place of the biscuits, and they made for a pretty decent stand-in. Then I simply sauteed some chopped shallots and sliced mushrooms until lightly browned, stirred in a tamari and water broth thickened with corn starch, and added a tablespoon of tahini at the end for that gravy-like consistency.  I combined this with some leftover quinoa and blanched green beans for my quick and easy dinner - yum!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kitchen Challenge

In my 6 years as a private vegan chef and cooking instructor, I think last night I faced my greatest challenge ever. All of the ingredients were present to create a recipe for disaster:  a kitchen with no lighting or countertops, a limited pantry, and a lonely little stove.  And yet, somehow, some magical alchemy occurred and a delicious meal resulted.  It helped that my student had a sense of humor about the situation and was happy to have some guidance.

For anyone who thinks you need granite this and stainless steel that and every fancy whirring gadget from the Williams-Sonoma catalogue before you can learn to cook vegan, last night's lesson would prove otherwise.  What is most important is a willingness to experiment with new flavor combinations, tastes and textures, and also the ability to be accepting of what you have and where you are in the journey.  If there's anything holding you back, it's all in your mind.

Still, it was indeed a challenge, so we kept the Menu basic and uncomplicated:  Romaine Lettuce Salad with Granny Smith Apple, Pecans and Dried Cranberries Tossed with Balsamic Vinaigrette; Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts; and Quinoa with Toasted Almonds.  Light, energizing, and grounding.  And perfect for a Tapas party!

So my advice for all budding vegans out there is:  keep it simple.  Focus on your favorite vegetables and flavors and build a menu around them.  Or just pick one.  In this case, it was Brussels Sprouts.  When they're roasted in the oven with a dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, they develop a rich, caramelized sweetness.  We used the same dressing to toss with our salad, which also simplified the menu.  To balance out the sweet tanginess, I thought quinoa with toasted almonds would add some depth and richness.

Planning out the time for each recipe and choreographing each step to allow for multi-tasking is my second piece of advice.  The quinoa cooked in the same amount of time as the Brussels Sprouts, and as they cooked we prepared the salad, so everything came together at once.  In about a half an hour, dinner was on the table.

Any challenge can be overcome with a little creativity.  And if you have some challenges of your own that have been holding you back, I hope you'll see them in a new light - not as limitations, but as rungs in a ladder that will take you to higher places.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Dinner

While Christmas was a day off for Well on Wheels, it certainly didn't stop me from cooking.  The theme was Italian comfort food, which is a favorite any time of year, but with family around and a great big gollywhomper of a snowstorm brewing outside, this year it was particularly comforting.

Christmas Eve dinner was a potluck and I brought a family favorite:  Ratatouille.  While I must confess this is much more delicious in the summer with fresh produce from my garden, no one complained.  In fact, everyone loved it.

For Christmas, I brought some Faux Farmer's Cheese with Caramelized Onion in Phyllo Cups to my parents' house.  I can't rave enough about these little gems.  They're flakey, buttery, creamy and tasty and are the perfect little hors d'oueuvre to get the appetite going.  You'd never know they were vegan.  By popular request, the recipe can be found here.

My mom made some fabulous baked ziti with tofu ricotta and spinach for me - yum (thanks, mom!!).  There was also a heaping pile of kale, zucchini and yellow squash to accompany it.

For dessert I brought along some Gluten-free Gingersnap Cookies.  These came out particularly crisp and spicy, and I discovered they're pretty delicious dunked in chocolate peppermint stick soy milk.  Who'd have known?

One good thing about the timing of this snowstorm is that I'll have plenty of provisions to keep me well-fed and happy while digging out.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mac 'n' Cheese 'n' Stuff

Tonight's dinner was inspired by a client's request for Cauliflower Au Gratin, which I made earlier in the day for a holiday party.  Since it was so good and there was a bunch of cauliflower that didn't make it into the baking pan, I decided to make some for myself for dinner.  Once the cheesey sauce was bubbling away courtesy of a combination of Daiya mozzarella, Tofutti cream cheese, and WestSoy soy milk, I changed my direction to mac 'n' cheese, so I boiled some gluten-free Tinkyada pasta shells.  At the last minute I threw in some green beans for color.  Once it was cooked up nicely, I sprinkled a crunchy topping I had made earlier with toasted walnuts and vegan bread crumbs.  Mmmm... creamy, crispy goodness.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Japanese Eggplant and Tofu Saute

A friend of mine had a surplus of Japanese eggplant and offered me half a dozen (thanks, Harry!).  I took 3, which I thought would be plenty for me, and decided to make a saute for dinner the other night.  Right now, I wish I had some more (maybe I should have taken those other 3). Japanese eggplant, when sauteed to perfection, has a luscious quality in taste and texture that makes me think of cotton candy:   it's light, sweet, and melts in your mouth.   Served with basmati rice, this was another quick and easy dinner that left me satisfied.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Last Night's Dinner

I'm so fortunate to have clients who rave about my food and tell others how much they enjoy it.  A frequent comment I often receive is "it must be amazing for you to eat like this all the time."  well... umm... I shouldn't admit this, but... when it comes to my clients it's nothing but the best.  Yet, when I cook for myself... I just want super quick and easy, I work with whatever's on hand, and I don't often fuss over what the final product looks like.  Still, it's hard to go wrong with tasty vegetables.

So, last night I was working with half a zucchini, half a can of crushed tomatoes, and half a can of pinto beans left over from cooking for a client earlier in the day.  I also had a really, really ripe avocado and a small head of red lettuce that were on the verge of turning to compost in my fridge.  I decided on a salad topped with a Mexican style veggie sautee and sliced avocado.  I sweated an onion in olive oil, added the half moons of zucchini, then stirred in some aromatic cumin and chili powder.  Then I deglazed with the crushed tomatoes and a little water, and seasoned with salt and a few twists of fresh black pepper.  In 15 minutes I had a delicious and satisfying meal.

Monday, December 6, 2010

This Week's Menu

I love the way all the veggies look just after being cut up and awaiting their turn in the pan.  Winter vegetables are particularly colorful since they're loaded with antioxidants and other immune-boosting vitamins and minerals to help protect us against colds and flu.  They just inspire me to get creative with orange-green color combinations.  As an added bonus:  the more colorful the vegetable, the more nutritious it is.

Warm, creamy, and spicy was the theme for this week's menu.  It's the kind of food I crave when the weather gets chilly and the snow starts to fall.  So beware clients:  you'll be seeing a lot of this theme during the next couple of months!  (fortunately, I've heard these are also customer favorites!)

First up was the Baked Tofu with Agave Dijon Glaze, Cinnamon Spiced Butternut Squash and Candied Pecans, and Fresh Steamed Broccoli.  I love the contrast of spicy mustard with the sweetness of the squash, plus the hint of cinnamon really makes it feel like a holiday for the tastebuds.

The second entree this week was a spicy and creamy Chickpea and Pumpkin Coconut Curry with Baby Spinach on Brown Basmati Rice.  These are my favorite flavors any time of year, but the richness of the coconut milk makes this a particularly hearty and satisfying meal on a cold evening after a long day at work.

Lastly is an entree comprised of several components satisfying on their own, but together I think they're over the top delicious:  Baked Sundried Tomato Polenta with Portobello Ragout, Escarole and White Beans, Topped with Toasted Pine Nuts.  Although it sounds like peasant food, there's quite a flair to the subtle flavors and textures that makes this an elegant dinner perfect paired with a glass of red wine.  Bon appetit!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Socca with Sauteed Spinach and Crimini Mushrooms

It's been awhile since I've had socca, a gluten-free flatbread made from Garbanzo bean flour.  Since I was in the mood for some kind of pizza-like treat, I decided to make it last night. 

The batter is a sifted mixture of 1 cup chickpea flour,1 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp pepper, whisked together with 1 cup warm water and 2 Tbl olive oil.  The batter is pretty watery and needs to rest in the bowl and thicken, covered with a towel, for at least 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, a cast iron skillet is heated in a 450 degree oven. 

When the batter is ready, take the skillet out of the oven, coat the bottom with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and throw in 1/2 cup of diced onion, and 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds tossed in chili powder, cinnamon, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned on sides and top. Let it sit for a few minutes before cutting into wedges. 

I served my wedge with some baby spinach I had sauteed in olive oil with crimini mushroom and onion.  The socca is more biscuity than bready, with a crisp crusty edge.  This was a nice, light dinner which satisfied my bread craving, yet because of the garbanzo bean flour it's low in carbohydrates and high in protein.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This week's menu

I was so inspired by Chef Tal Ronnen's presentation at the Boston Vegetarian Society Food Festival this weekend that I bought his cookbook, The Conscious Cook.  Filled with "meatless recipes that will change your life," it too was inspiring.  And you can't beat the beautiful color photos, layout, and overall design, which will immediately send you to your kitchen eager to attempt recreating the recipes at home.  At least that's what it did to me. 

This week my clients were treated to two recipes featured in Chef Tal's cookbook.  I made some slight modifications based on my own personal tastes, and of course, my photos don't come near the artful presentations you'll see on those glossy pages.  Nonetheless, I think they were still pretty delicious.

The first entree was Roasted Eggplant on Baked Polenta with Smoked Paprika Cashew Cream, Sauteed Greens, Shallots and Shiitake Mushroom.  The cashew cream sauce recipe alone is worth buying the cookbook for, as it is the perfect balance of spicy sweet with a rich, velvety texture.  This whole recipe was pretty smooth and creamy, which makes me think I should've caramelized the shallots to get a crunchy contrast on top.  Still good, though.

The other Chef Tal inspired recipe was Agave Lime Tofu with Asian Slaw and Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  I love the citrus in this dish, and the crunch of the slaw is the perfect contrast to the creamy sweet potatoes, which I kicked up a notch by mashing together with apple sauce and a little coconut oil.  There were some great flavor combinations going on here as well.

For the last entree this week, I stuck with the Asian theme and made Indonesian Gado-Gado with Tempeh, Cauliflower, Stringbeans, Carrots and Brown Basmati Rice.  Gado-Gado is a peanut based sauce spiced with chili powder and fresh ginger.  I could eat this on just about anything, and if I died tomorrow, I'd have lived a full and satisfying life.