Friday, October 28, 2011

Vegan White Chili

I first came across "white chili" while living in Minnesota. Usually, it is white beans, chicken and some chilies, although not too much. Minnesotans don't like too much heat, at least in their food! But lately I've been challenging myself to cook vegan and the idea of making a vegan white chili popped into my head.

Cooking with tempeh is a great vegan protein. A fermented soy product, it is easier to digest because it is fermented, but unlike other fermented products, does not have a sour or acidic taste. Similar to tofu, it absorbs the flavors it is cooked with. Tempeh has a nutty flavor, that is tempered by how much spice you add to it. In this chili I simmered it for about 30 minutes and the green salsa flavor really permeated it. Delicious!

As always, do not skimp on the garnish, it really makes all the flavors pop!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mushroom Sugo with Rotini

 If you have not already visited Elise's blog Simply Recipes, you should. She has a huge repertoire of recipes and she does a fantastic job of describing them, well, in a word, simply. Not only does the blog update nearly every day, but she has introduced me to so many new things when I thought that I had heard it all. This Mushroom stew is a perfect case in point.

Made similarly to Bolognese meat sauce without the milk or cream, it is a slow simmered creation that allows the porcini mushrooms to shine. Since it only calls for 1 oz of dried porcini, this is really an economical meal while tasting luxuriously gourmet. Just my style!

Although I followed this recipe almost to the letter, I did make a slight change. Dried or powered bouillon cubes are just never in my pantry so I tossed in some kombu (seaweed I use for cooking dried beans) since it adds that umami flavor that beef adds. Worked like a charm!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Leek and Kale Potage

I have two younger sisters who have denounced my tendency to "make stuff up," as they judge it, in terms of knowledge of a wide variety of things. It is true, that when I was younger I would say things very authoritatively without full confirmation of actuality. I called it guesstimations; they had a less polite phrase for it. Needless to say this little story pertains to today's recipe.

After whipping up this thick soup the other night and deciding that it was blog-worthy, I dubbed it a "potage" because that just felt right. Low and behold when I did a bit of internet searching it turns out my instincts were right. Vindication of my guesstimation abilities!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Presto Pasta Night #235

Welcome to Presto Pasta Night No. 235. It's the middle of October, do you know where your year went? I certainly don't! Thank the pasta gods that these delicious meals will always ground me! Happy reading and eating!

First is Tandy from Lavender and Lime with Coppa and Courgette Pasta with Exotic Mushrooms. Tandy made this fun and exciting pasta from her pantry - I want her pantry that has coppa just sitting around in it! Internal struggles of whether or not to to tell friends a hard truth is not easy. But this pasta looks both comforting and easy to make as you're stewing over whatever dilemmas float into your life.
Bitter Melon Egg Drop Soup comes to us courtesy of Tigerfish of Teczcape-An Escape to Food. Her Bitter Melon Egg Drop soup is chock full of goodness. Flavored with boiled dried anchovies, onions, ginger and tomato, a simple stock and some herb garnishes make this noodley soup a winner! Unknown to me, bitter foods help speed metabolism, so eat up your bitter melon, broccoli and greens. Just another reason to eat my favorite veggies!

Oooh, a new blog introduced to me by PPN! One of the best parts of hosting! Deepali Jain writes at at Confusion Cook and brings us Creamy Spinach Pasta.  When Deepali isn't busy being the Jill-of-all-trades for her home and energetic 2 year old, she is blog-hopping - sounds like fun! Here is her first foray into pasta and aren't we the lucky ones! Cream, spinach, onions and of course some red pepper flakes transforms pasta into green creamy deliciousness. 

Val of More Than Burnt Toast made Skillet Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage Lasagna. Val's blog is another great that I discovered through Preto Pasta Nights. She's always so creative; writing since 2006 she's got plenty to explore on her site! Here she uses one pot, combining my favorite fall ingredients - hard squash and sausage - to make this inspired lasagna! Who doesn't love one pot meals and the savory melding of butternut squash with sweet Italian sausage is brilliant.

Next is Haalo of Cook Almost Anything with Ravioli del Plin Con Tartufo Bianco. Ok, I will have to confess right now that I would have done just about anything to have shared this meal with Haalo!  Fresh, meat filled ravioli (that she didn't have to make) with shaved white truffles, while sitting somewhere in Italy....big, big, BIG sigh! I suppose if I make it myself I could convince myself that I was actually there...I do have a powerful imagination. Either way, thanks for sharing Haalo! Good to have you back at PPN.

Ahhh, one of favorites that I discovered at PPN - do you sense a trend here! Joanne of Eats Well With Others brings us her Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables and it lives up to the hype. Fontina, Mozzarella, Parmesan, oh and of course the stars of the show. lots of summer squash! Good luck Joanne with the no-exercise-for-2-months. We're rooting for you, as always!

And now prepare to swoon (at least if you are an omnivore) as Ruth of Once Upon A Feast presents Lamb and Couscous Dinner. Wow! That is a stunning looking dish! I would have loved to have been present for that fast-breaking dish! It would be enough to make me fast every day if that was the breaker! Check out the rest of Ruth's post with her Challah and the rest of the goodies served over the High Holidays.

Here's one final entry from a good friend, Eve writes at the Garden of Eating (of course!) and she brings us Roasted Delicata Squash and Tortellini Salad with Greens, Cranberries and Pepitas. Wow, that's an amazing combination. Colorful, seasonal, tasty and healthy to boot! 

Lastly is my entry of Spicy Lamb Broth with Ravioli and Gremolata. Bone broth is not only delicious and easy to make but chock full of nutrition pulled from the marrow of the bones when simmered to make stock. While I cheated with store-bought ravioli and the gremolata is so simple to make, don't even think of buying it. Just pop that wilting bunch of parsley into your food processor with salt, garlic, lemon zest and olive oil and it will keep for a couple of weeks. Having it around to spread on crackers, stir into soups and stews just makes me feel gourmet without much work!

Thank you to everyone who sent an entry, it's a gorgeous bunch of dishes! Please play again next week when HoneyB of the Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honey Bunch will be hosting. Until then, happy pasta eating!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Spicy Lamb Broth with Ravioli and Gremolata - Presto Pasta Night #235!

This is a very humble dish that I found in The Southern Italian Table, a wonderful cookbook about the "cucina povera" - poor people's cooking of Southern Italy. Arthur Schwartz is an American Expat living with his partner in Sicily, giving food classes and touring the South looking for quintessential Southern dishes from everywhere south of Rome. Delightful!

This spicy lamb broth combines a few key ingredients - lamb bones, garlic, red pepper flakes - which is then boiled for a few hours to create a very flavorful and nutritious broth perfect for whatever pasta you want to add to it.

I first learned of the Italian tradition of putting stuffed pastas like ravioli, agnolotti, tortellini in broth after watching the movie The Story of Boys and Girls, which centers on the creation of a feast for an engagement party. Instead of slathering richly filled pastas with more rich sauce, serve them in a simple broth. Brilliant!

For my version I added some gremolata, because I had it and I wanted a little herby goodness in the broth. The ravioli I will admit are store bought, but really good (Rising Moon Organics, if you're curious).

And in case you haven't figured it out, I will be hosting Presto Pasta Night next Friday so please email me your entries - blog link, photo - kirstenmlindquist AT gmail DOT com and cc Ruth AT 4everykitchen DOT com by next Thursday, October 13 by 9pm pacific time and check back for the round up!

Spicy Lamb Broth with Ravioli and Gremolata  (from The Southern Italian Table)
(serves 2-3)

3-4 cooked lamb chops (save them and freeze after eating lamb chops)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
few grinds black pepper
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
8 cups water
5-8 raviolis per serving
gremolata for serving

Combined first 7 ingredients in large stock pot and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 2 hours. Strain and pour into glass jars and cap and refrigerate. It is easiest to skim off the fat once the broth has cooled since it will all congeal at the top. Skim fat and reheat broth. Cook ravioli in broth according to instructions. Ladle broth and ravioli into bowls and pass gremolata for garnish.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fennel, Celery and Herb Salad

Whooosh! Hear that? It's the sound of fall blowing into Southern California. The winds pick up, the air chills (a few degrees or so) and the sky gets threatening with dark clouds and sometimes spits a few rain drops on us mere mortals. That also means it's time to get creative with fall salads. Here is the first of many.

Fennel and celery are the stars of this lovefest. Both have a juicy crunch that I adore and keeping it simple with just some fresh cilantro for a little punch keeps the veggies front and center. This is a bit of a riff on this salad, first introduced to me by Mark Bittman - not personally of course, I can only dream! He added shaved parmesan and used red wine vinegar. This version is lighter, taste wise, with just a squeeze of lemon, salt, pepper and olive oil. It really brings out the fresh flavor of the fennel and celery.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cannelini Bean Crostini with Magic Herb Sauce

Ummmmmm.............that would the sound of me speechless. When I read about Heidi's Magic Sauce on 101 Cookbooks, I had no doubt it would be good. But really, words fail me. So amazingly good, that I probably should confess that I licked the plate clean, but no one was watching, so I will never tell!

With some freshly made cannelini beans in the frig I knew crostini were the perfect match for the sauce; you will want something to mop up all of the tiniest of oil drops. Really, it is that good.

After frying up the bread in a thinly coated skillet, I tossed in the white beans and shook the pan for 60 seconds, just to warm up the beans. Adding in some Slow-Roasted Tomatoes inspired by Eve at the Garden of Eating and tossing them with the beans and a couple tablespoons of the magic sauce added a little savory sweetness to the mix. Spooning the mixture over of the bread and adding another pour of the magic sauce over each crostini made one of the most perfect Saturday afternoon meals I have had in ages.