I cook better than I write

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pizza and Pasta

To continue my Italian weekend I made pizza (again). I followed the recipe posted earlier with one slight modification: for the yest I added the whole packet instead of 1/2 tbsp. I liked the texture of the dough better.

For the toppings I made a smooth tomato sauce (just blended the "chunky" sauce) and added some roasted garlic paste to it, olive spread, pepper, red onion, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, "cheese", and capers.

I had so many vegetables left that on Monday I made

Big Red Pasta Sauce.

1 can of diced tomatoes (preferable with garlic and spices)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 pepper, cubed
1 medium size zucchini, sliced
Mushrooms (the more the merrier), sliced
Sun dried tomatoes
Spices (lots, and lots, and lots)
1 cup of red vine (optional)
2 roasted peppers
Canned artichokes (I had half a can left from the risotto)
Pinch of sugar
Vegan Parmesan
Olive oil

Saute the onion and garlic for couple of minutes. Add mushrooms, zucchinis, pepper, dried spices, vine, sun dried tomatoes, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, pinch of sugar, bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

After I added roasted peppers and artichokes, cooked it for another 5 minutes, and served it over whole wheat spaghetti, sprinkled with vegan Parmesan, capers, and basil accompanied by a glass of "Pater" - mmmmmmmm ;)

Christmas food

No, I am not making a stuffed turkey, stuffed faux-turkey, or tofurkey I've simply been making a lot of red and green food recently (I know it doesn't look very red or green on the pictures, but read the ingredients!!!) Moreover I am in Italian spirit so here we go:


This was my first attempt to make a risotto. I actually never even had a real risotto but on Friday I felt like eating one (how can you crave something you've never had before - I don't know)!
I'll tell you the truth, I was intimidated. I heard that making a risotto is a long and almost painful process with constant stirring but I will assure you that it's not as bad as it sounds. Yes, you have to stir it for a while so it's not a good dish to cook in a hurry but it's much easier than what they make it sound.

5-6 cups of vegetarian broth
1/2 cup of wine (optional)
1-2 tbsp of olive oil
1 onion, diced
1-3 cloves of garlic (if you like garlic)
2 cups of Arborio rice (I couldn't find any Arborio rice, so I used the "Italian style" rice which worked great)
1/4 cup of vegan Parmesan substitute.
Spices (you can use both fresh and/or dried)
Any vegetables you want to add to your risotto.
You have to divide these vegetables according to the cooking time. Veggies such as mushrooms, zucchinis, carrots, peppers will need more time too cook, where as something like canned artichokes, grilled veggies, spinach, etc. will be done faster. Depending on the "group" you will be adding these veggies at the beginning, middle, or end of the risotto cooking process ;)

Heat up the oil and add the onions and garlic. Sauté for ~5 minutes until soft but not brown! Couple of minutes into cooking the onions and garlic I've added the dried spices (basil, oregano, marjoram, and sage) along with zucchinis, and mushrooms.
Now it's time for the long and tedious stirring ;). Put the rice in the vegetable mix without adding any broth and cook it for couple of minutes, stirring. Start adding broth (about 1/2 cup at a time) stirring constantly until all of the water is absorbed. If you are using vine, add it first and then continue with broth.
Continue adding broth and stirring the rice. After 15 minutes you can start tasting the rice for doneness. The rice is ready when it's soft but not mushy (al dente). You also should keep in mind that you don't want your risotto to be too soupy, so start adjusting the amount of liquid added. This is also a good time to add any fresh spices you are using. I had some basil, sage, and marjoram. I've also added some canned artichokes for the texture.

Do not forget to add your vegetables half-way or at the end of cooking the risotto.

Once the rice is ready, turn of the heat, add the "Parmesan" and stir it all couple of times.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Preview, fondue, gifts, and a squirrel.

I am working on the continuation of the saga “Down the Richelieu River”. More pictures and stories are coming up soon.
I am also working on the camping-food specific posts: what to eat, how to cook, as well as the recipes and links to the camping sites.
Speaking of the links, I will eventually post links to recipe web-sites, cooking blogs, and anything interesting food and camping related.

I got 2 big gifts recently: my new Arc'teryx AR Theta shell, in Mocha (like we say in mother Russia “the idiot’s dream came true”). Thank you Madina and Pasha!

And I got a digital camera (thank you daddy – man I sound like an “Oscar” star ;) ). Now that taking pictures is easy I just need an Internet connection at home to post 24/7.

Here are the pictures of the fondue we enjoyed this weekend. The recipe comes from the “The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook” – a must have for those vegans who miss the cheesy days. I tried the “South of the Border” one and it was excellent.

And it turns out we were not the only ones enjoying good food ….

Bean soup with a new twist

I checked out “The Artful Vegan” from the library and my new passion is unusual combination of tastes. I am yet to try any of the recipes from the book (I am definitely making their chocolate cake and if it will be successful I will make it for Christmas) but the images and the descriptions are stunning!!!!

Yesterday on the way home I decided to come up with something unusual. I was craving a thick, hearty soup (it was very chilly and wintery outside) so the white beans and potatoes came to my mind. But that is very ordinary soup with rather “straight” taste. I would need something acid to go with it, and something fresh ……. lemon …… peas …… coriander. And now I have to top it with something ….. mushrooms ......

Smoky Bean Soup with Lemon-Pea Coulis and Sesame Flavored Shiitake Mushrooms.

I did not measure the ingredients as I was adding them, so please rely on your taste buds when making coulis.
I have to mention that the “Imagine” organic vegetable broth is my new favorite. Pleasant sweet taste, not too salty, and no chemical ingredients at all!

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, cubed
1 celery stalk, cubed
4-5 cups of vegetable stock
1 15oz can of white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 medium size potatoes, cubed
½ tsp ground oregano
½ tsp herbes de Provence (a “fine herbes” mix would work as well)
¼ tsp ground terragon
¼ tsp ground marjoram
½ tsp ground parsley
2-3 drops of liquid smoke (optional)

1 cup of water
1 ½ cups of green peas (fresh or frozen)
3 tbsp of lemon juice
1 tbsp of chopped fennel (optional)
1 tbsp of chopped fresh coriander
Splash of tamari sauce

Sesame Mushrooms
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of toasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp of fresh ginger, minced
8oz of shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
Splash of Tamari sauce

To garnish
Shallots, coriander, and sunflower sprouts, chopped
Coriander springs.

In a deep saucepan heat the oil. Add onions and 4 garlic cloves, lightly sauté until soft.
Add carrot and celery and fry at medium heat for 2 minutes.
Add the vegetable broth, potatoes, beans, salt, and spices. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until all the vegetables are tender (~ 15 minutes).

Meanwhile, put the peas in cold water. Bring to boil and boil for 1 minute, drain.
Pure green peas, coriander, and fennel with a food processor. Add lemon juice and a splash of Tamari sauce. Add water if the mixture is too thick (I had to add about 2 tbsp).

In the skillet, heat up the olive oil (med. temperature). Add the sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and mushrooms. Fry for 2-3 minutes.

Mash the base with the potato-masher until thick, but chunky. Add the liquid smoke and adjust for saltiness.

To serve, lade the soup in the plate. Put some mushrooms in the middle of the soup and pour the coulis around. Sprinkle with chopped shallots, sprouts, and coriander.