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Vegetarian? Vegan? Make some collard greens on New Year’s Day with “salt-pork” made from eggplant!

This is a complex recipe, but the payoff is well worth the prep time!

Ingredients:

1 bunch collard greens (do not substitute kale or some other such silliness), chopped
2 medium japanese eggplants, peeled and diced
3/4 c cider vinegar
1/3 c water
2/3 c canola oil
1/4 cup Braggs liquid aminos
1 tbsp liquid smoke
3.5 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp turmeric

STEP ONE: EGGPLANT

1. Marinate the night prior to serving:
2. Toss the eggplant in 2 tbsp of the salt. Set aside in a colander to drain for 2 hours.
3. Mix the remaining ingredients in a non-reactive bowl, whisking well to make sure they’re completely mixed.
4. Toss the eggplant into the marinade– be sure it’s entirely submerged– and refrigerate overnight.

5 . The next day, before starting on the greens, bake the eggplant in the marinade at 200 degrees for 2 hours. You’re essentially making a quick confit with the eggplant.
6. Drain eggplant, but reserve the marinade.
7. Add 1/4 cup of the marinade to a saute pan; saute the eggplant in the marinade for 15 minutes.

STEP TWO: GREENS

1. In a large pot, bring the cider vinegar and water to a boil.
2. When the vinegar begins to boil, add the eggplant. Cover and simmer on low for 45 minutes.
3. Add the collard greens. Let cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add vinegar and/or water to taste as needed.

Serve with cornbread to soak up that delicious potlikker!

On the left, collards with salt pork. On the right, greens from the recipe above. YUM!

greens

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not-pictured-largeThe time of holiday meals is upon us, and it strikes me that I haven’t yet posted the recipe for my extra-technical-and-complicated-yet-remarkable green bean casserole. I’d intended to document the process this Thanksgiving, but Kraken Rum happened, and the casserole was eaten before I could take any pretty snapshots. That’s how good it is– it moves too quickly for pictures. So no pictures– if you want to see what it looks like, you’ll need to make it for yourself.

I notice with some chagrin that the “official Campbell’s recipe” has been modified to include “98% Fat Free or Healthy Request®” Cream of Mushroom soup. Which, ewThe point behind green bean casserole is to take delicious, crunchy, healthy green beans and make them bad for you. (Also: soy sauce? Whut?)

Not that there’s anything wrong with the traditional version: dump some canned green beans, some canned soup and some milk in a casserole dish, stir it up, top it with French fried onions, and bake. Okay, comforting, easy, but what would a *real* green bean casserole taste like? What would it be like if you took the time and effort to make this dish without any of the canned or processed nonsense, and added copious amounts of cheese?  What if green bean casserole, instead of a quick toss-together cop-out any schmo can do, was mind-numbingly inconvenient and terribly complicated? 

Well now, you are about to find out. The answer is: This is the Gold Standard of Green Bean Casseroles. Many will attest.

You’ll need:

  • ~2 lbs fresh green beans
  • ~1 lb grated mozzarella cheese
  • ~1 lb grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pint+ whole milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • unflavored oil (canola? peanut?) for frying
  • unbleached flour
  • salt
  • paprika
  • nutmeg
  • white pepper

Total prep time: A lazy holiday afternoon. Probably plan on at least two glasses of wine worth of prep. At least.

Total cooking time: 1 hour or thereabouts.

1. Wash your green beans, snap off the ends, then French cut them. You’ve had French cut beans– they’re split down the middle. The best way to do this is with a peeling knife:

JA_Henckels_Twin_Cuisine_line_peeling_knife_2

The curvy tip is perfect for inserting into the seam and splitting in half. Or a paring knife would work, too. They don’t have to be perfect, but this is a holiday, not a marathon, so don’t rush it.

2. Fill a big stockpot with water, and salt it. Bring to a boil, and place the beans into the water to taste, until they’re mostly tender to the tooth (about 10 minutes?). They’ll cook when baked, too, so don’t make them too soft. And definitely don’t leave them all crunchy– crunchy beans = healthy beans, and we don’t want that! Drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process, and set aside.

3. Slice your onion REALLY thin, like paper thin, then chop into segments (about 1 inch). Place in a bowl and cover the onions with milk. Set aside to soak for at least 10 minutes. (This makes a difference!)

4. Mix together a large portion of sifted flour (depending on how big your onion is, this is probably about 1.5 cups), 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp white pepper and 1 tbsp paprika.

5. Coat the onions in the flour mixture, then fry in the oil. You’ll likely need to do batches. You want lots of these, as they tend to get eaten while you’re cooking. Once they’re all fried, set aside. Eat some. Share a few. But save most of them.

6. Preheat the oven to 350.

7. Grease a large casserole dish or baking dish. Cover the bottom of the dish with some of your shredded mozzarella cheese (not all of it, now!).

8. In a saucepan on Low, melt the butter into the whipping cream (slowly, now!). Add about 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp nutmeg and 1 tsp pepper.  Using a whisk, stir constantly, adding pinches of flour so it gets smooth and starts to thicken.  When it’s slightly thick, begin adding about 3/4 of the grated cheddar, a little at a time. Alternate with milk– delicately– some cheddar, some milk, some cheddar, some milk. Some lumpiness is to be expected. Eventually, you will end up with a delightful, smooth cheese sauce.  Feel free to play with this sauce. Add stuff, take stuff away, try some different textures, but be sure it’s not at all watery, or you will end up unhappy.

9. Toss the rest of the shredded mozzarella with the green beans, then pour the beans/cheese into the casserole dish.

10. Using a spatula/smoother, scrape the sauce over the beans, smoothing it down so it drips into the nooks and crannies of the green beans.

11.  Top it off with all of the rest of your cheese, then a thick layer of fried onions.

12. Bake for one hour. Or, longer if the temperature is lower because pies and poultry and such are also baking. Or, if you want it faster, jack that sucker up to 450 and back for 1/2 hour.  You can cook this over a period of time. If the onions get really dark without burning, it’s done.

Also, don’t pre-make this the night before to bake the next day. Why spoil a delightfully inconvenient process?

I’m telling you, you will never go back to the icky Campbell’s version again, ever. Well, maybe, but you’ll never be able to eat any green bean casserole again without thinking of this one. And I am serious, here!

UPDATE! The lovely E has procured the only known photograph that proves the existence of the Gold Standard Green Bean Casserole! In spite of the blurry, sasquatch-photo-like quality of this image, you can FEEL the golden glow of its power calling you!

FEEL IT!

FEEL THE POWER

3 days to go, 18 backers, $866 pledged! We still have $2134 to go– if you’ve been thinking of backing, now’s the time to do it. 

And, of course, thanks a ZILLION to everyone who has backed so far!  Regardless of whether we end up making the goal, we’ll be thanking our backers with a concrete prize of some kind (as yet to be determined…).

Now then– are you in?

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1787931793/meat-no-meat-a-cookbook-for-the-biculinary

Well, friends, we have one week left and we’re $2,259 short of our Kickstarter goal. Since we don’t see any of the funds unless we make the goal, we wanted to ask one last time if you’d consider backing the project:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1787931793/meat-no-meat-a-cookbook-for-the-biculinary

Although at this point we’d need a Leap Day Miracle to raise our seed funds, your support and encouragement have been really meaningful and touching. Although the book won’t likely be produced any time soon, we’ll continue developing nifty recipes and posting fairly regularly over here on Happy Vegetable Cow.

It took this professional chef, who already owns a successful restaurant, eleven days to raise $39,000 to publish his cookbook, and people are STILL DONATING. It must be easier to raise funds if you’ve already got them to begin with.

We’re dead broke and we’ve raised $606 in 45 days; can we raise the last $2394 with 15 days left?

We can with your help!  Please consider dropping in and helping to support our little project. Any little bit would be fantastic!

 

Howdy to our Friends and Supporters! Thanks to everyone who has backed us so far– we’re $331 closer to meeting our $3000 goal. Of course, that means we have quite a way to go if this cookbook is going to be made.

We’ve reached the 30 day point, which means we need to average about $89/day between now and March 2. YIKES! Seems daunting, but WE CAN DO IT! Please consider helping by becoming a backer, or by sharing our little project with anyone you think might be interested.

ANY LITTLE BIT HELPS!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1787931793/meat-no-meat-a-cookbook-for-the-biculinary

Please Help My Mommy and Daddy Write a Cookbook!

Join us on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Although it’s tempting to characterize Meat/No Meat as “Flexitarian,” or “semi-vegetarian,” we prefer the term “Biculinary.” There are dozens of flexitarian cookbooks on the market already; what makes our cookbook different from all of those guys?

A flexitarian diet is one in which someone eats mostly vegetarian cuisine, but occasionally adds meat.  Emily is 100% vegetarian (“ovo-lacto-vegetarian if you’re a hair-splitter), so she wouldn’t ever use the meat versions of the recipes we’re including. Jeremy, on the other hand, greatly enjoys vegetarian cuisine, but is a dyed-in-the-wool omnivore. The meat versions of each recipe won’t just be vegetarian versions with a little animal protein added for flavor.

This is why our recipes are a little more complex than just “Stir fry with chicken or tofu! *Giggle!*”

The eggplant salt pork or veggie sausage experiment are excellent examples. We’re concerned not with simple substitution, but with coming up with holistic flavor contributions that will contribute additional complexity to a recipe. This might mean a little more initial work, but the payoff is always something more than the simple, utilitarian flavor of seitan. We want to turn that seitan into something sublime!

Of course, we’ll also provide “easy” versions for those times when you don’t feel like whipping up a two-day eggplant confit.

The other flexitarian trope that doesn’t fit into our philosophy is the idea that semi-vegetarian cuisine needs to be “healthy,” or healthier, than meat-based food. Meat/No Meat is not a health food book. Granted, we won’t subject our readers to Paula Deen-style butter debauchery, but we don’t feel it’s our responsibility to count calories and fat for people who use our recipes. Eating more vegetables is better for you, yes, and some of our recipes will be healthy and wholesome, but this isn’t the main concept behind our book. We’ll also be including recipes that are deep fried, salty and fatty.

Flexitarianism is great, but it’s different than what we’re doing. We’re more interested in the commingling of two culinary philosophies, not mere replacement therapy.

We still need your help!  We have 31 days to go to raise $2,669.00, or the project won’t be funded or produced.  Please consider becoming a backer today!

E:   In a area glutted with Thai restaurants, Jhanjay manages to stand apart as delightfully refreshing!  There are delicious versions of the old standbys- curry’s, phad thai, phad see-ew  – but there are also simple and original dishes such as Abundant Asparagus and the Jhanjay Omelet.  It is completely vegetarian – but J still loves it – It rates high on the EE scale.  The veggies taste fresh and most dishes come with a choice of tofu (steamed or fried) or veggie meat.

J:  As the non-vegetarian, I’m especially impressed that, unlike other veggie joints in Seattle, Jhanjay deliberately avoids trying to come up with kitchy ‘fake meat’ versions of vegetarian dishes.  They offer “veggie meat,” but they don’t try to pass it off as chicken or beef or pork.  Their offerings are tasty enough that they don’t need to try to fool meat eaters into experimenting with all-vegetarian cuisine.  That said, I’m not sure that a die-hard carnivore would be able to appreciate every item on the menu.

E:  Sad, but true.  I recommend starting with their appetizer sampler platter.  A delicious array of fried goodness – corn patties, cream cheese wontons and Asian fries (made from Taro root).  If you are trying to be more health-conscious their soups are quite tasty.

J:  The soups are also quite sizable, and if you tell your wait staff you’ll be splitting a bowl, they’ll happily bring an extra bowl and utensils for sharing.

E:  For main dishes – you can choose between noodles, curry’s, stir fry or specials.  I love the  Phad Woon Sen with Veggie Meat (with fun bean thread noodles) and Abundant Asparagus (when in season) when I’m feeling like something fresh and healthy, and I splurge on the Buddha Basket (in a edible noodle basket)  and Jhanjay Omelet (with veggies in a sweet and sour tomato sauce ) when I’m a hungry mungry.

Phad Woon Sen

Phad Woon Sen

J:  I’m also a huge fan of the Jhanjay Omelet.  Even though I generally don’t like mushrooms (yuck!), I can appreciate them in the right context, like when they’re mushed beyond recognition into compressed cakes of pseudo-meaty goodness.  Hooray!

Jhanjay Omelet

Jhanjay Omelet

J and E:  If you’re in Wallingford, and in the mood for some tasty Thai, Jhanjay will treat you right.

Ratings (1 lowest – 5 highest)

Veggie Friendly:  5 Moos
Open-minded Carnivore Acceptability:  4 Moos
Close-minded Carnivore Acceptability:  2 Moos
Food:  4 Moos
Service:  4 Moos
Price:  3 Moos

Overall EE Rating:  4 Moos

Jhanjay Vegetarian Thai Cuisine
1718 N 45th St.
Seattle, WA  98103

http://www.jhanjay.com/