February 2010

You know how simple recipes are sometimes the best?  And how take-out Chinese food can sometimes be exactly what you want, no matter how inauthentic it is?  Well, this is definitely one of those recipes.  And I’ll be back on Thursday with something more exciting.  But until then, enjoy this simple yet oh-so-satisfying gluten-free vegan fried rice.  It beats out whatever your local take-out place can give you, but beware, you might end up eating half the recipe by yourself in one sitting.  You never know.

Fried Rice

adapted from this recipe

3 c brown rice
4 1/2 c water
1 tsp salt
t tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 c frozen peas
1/2 tsp tumeric
7 tsp Bragg’s Amino Acid

Rinse the rice. In a large uncovered pot over high heat, bring the rice and water to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Leave covered for 10 minutes. Then transfer to a baking sheet and let dry in a thin layer for 1-2 hours. (Or use 5 cups leftover rice from a previous meal.)

In a wok over medium heat, heat the vegetable oil and saute the onion and carrots for 5-6 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, saute for 1 minute more.

Add the peas and mushrooms (and any other vegetables you’d like to add) and cook for 5 minutes more, until the mushrooms are cooked.

Add the tumeric.

Add the rice and mix well to combine.

Add the Braggs (more or less to taste–it is rather salty) and saute for 1-2 minutes until everything is well mixed and heated through.

Serve as is or with some kind of stir-fry.

Serves 5-6.

Homemade soysage, cornmeal pancakes, collards, mimosas

I meant to post this yesterday but I was too busy drinking mimosas and watching ATL. I hope you all had a wonderful, love-filled day!

Now that I’ve over-glutenized the past few days with the No-Knead Multigrain Bread, it’s time for a little fantastic gluten-free action. Last month at our weekly potluck, we celebrated a few birthdays with a Vegan Balls & Gluten-Free Phallic night. My friend Mark showed up with some awesome gluten-free vegan lentil falafel things that I fell in love with. Spicy, lentil, quinoa nuggets wrapped in lettuce with a splash of lemon, they made my night and now they can make yours too. Feel free to fry them in a tiny bit of oil or just leave them unfried–either way they’re delicious.

Lentil Quinoa “Falafel”

adapted from Zerrin

1 c cooked red lentils
2 c cooked quinoa
3 tsp salt
3 tsp cumin
1 tsp aleppo pepper
black pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno, diced (with seeds)
3 cloves garlic, diced
half bunch of parsley, minced
lettuce and lemon for serving

Place the cooked lentils and cooked quinoa in a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, saute the onion and carrot dice in the olive oil for 5-7 minutes until translucent. Add the diced jalapeno and garlic and saute 1 minute more. Add the salt, cumin, aleppo pepper, and black pepper and saute 1 minute more. Deglaze the pan with a splash of water and transfer the onion mixture to the bowl with the lentils and quinoa.

Add the chopped parsley. Stir the mixture with a spoon until well combined. When it’s cool enough to handle, mix with your hands for a few minutes more, then form into balls.

At this point you can fry the falafel or leave it as is.

Serve with fresh lettuce to wrap the falafel in and spritz with lemon before eating.

Confession: I just ate half a loaf of bread for lunch.

It’s true. I didn’t mean to, it’s just that I’d been planning on making it for days but kept forgetting to, so when I slid the pan out of the oven, rapped on the crusty, brown loaf, and finally cut a slice, dipping it into my split pea soup, well, I just couldn’t stop. It was love at first bite, or something like that.

The recipe, “No-Knead Multi-Grain Peasant Bread” adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes, was posted by The Kitchn right before WWIII hit. My plan was to make it this past weekend while I was snowed-in in Lynchburg (I cook for 2 now these days–it’s a nice switch; we’ll call him “the photographer” when a reference is needed), but I never got around to it. It’s silly, given how simple the recipe is–no-knead and all–but the ziploc bag full of flour never made it into a bowl or an oven. So last night I prepped the dough, let it rise this morning while I swam, and then baked it as soon as I got home. That’s when the insanity began. Right now I’m not letting myself leave my office and walk downstairs for anything–I know I’ll just end up with another slice in my hand.

It’s everything The Kitchn promised–simple, easy to make, and nutty with a fairly soft crumb. Honestly, it’s not my favorite bread–no-knead breads rarely are–but it’s a perfect solution for a simple loaf. Just remember to actually make the dough the night before, otherwise you’ll just be staring at a bag of flour wishing you had a loaf.

No-Knead Multigrain Bread

adapted slightly from The Kitchn

1/2 c rye flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c oat bran
2 c high-gluten bread flour
1/2 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp yeast
13 oz water, room temperature (1 1/2 c + 1/8 c)
1/2 tsp sugar

In a small bowl, proof the yeast in 1/4 c water with the sugar.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the flours and salt. Add the proofed yeast and the remaining water. Stir in the water to form a thick, gloppy batter.

Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.

The following morning, shape the loaf on a lightly floured surface. Cover and let the loaves rise for about 1.5 – 2 hours at room temperature, until nearly doubled in bulk.

A half hour before baking, preheat the oven to 450°. Put a pan in the bottom of the oven to preheat as well.

When the loaf has risen, quickly cut 1/2-inch slashes in the top with a serrated knife and set it in the oven. Pour a half cup of water into the pan at the bottom of the oven and close the oven door.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the loaf is dark brown, sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, and the interior registers 190° on an instant-read thermometer. Allow to cool fully on a rack before slicing and eating.

Makes 1 loaf.

Right now I’m loving the solidarity we all have regarding winter. As horrid as it is, hearing everyone in North America (and in Europe and the Middle East too!) complain about the lack of sun, the frigid temperatures, and the ungodly amounts of snow makes me feel like I’m part of a community. Tonight, along with everyone else in Virginia, I’m batting down the hatches and preparing for the worst–Winter Wallop III is on its way and this time I’m prepared. I’ve stocked up on fresh green vegetables (collards, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli) and I’ve amped my workouts for the week to counteract the sloth that I’ll turn into when the snow hits. And three’s a charm, right? So maybe after the third apocalyptic winter storm of the season we won’t have any more. My fingers are definitely crossed!

Three is also a charm when it comes to split pea soup, I’m finding. Fall of 2007 I made V*Con’s roasted red pepper and split pea soup and it was pretty good. Not what I was looking for, but pretty good. Fall of 2008 I came up with my own recipe which incorporated seitan ham and involved the use of a blender to get the perfect texture. This year, however, I think I’ve hit pay dirt. I think I’ve found the perfect smoky, ham flavored, mushy split pea soup of my childhood.

Ham flavored? Mushy split peas? I know, I know, you’re wondering what deep end I’ve plunged into. Neither of those sound to good. And, well, when I reveal the secret ingredient, I know a lot of you aren’t going to approve of it. I mean…it’s just not an acceptable flavoring in most circles. But bear with me, the soup is worth it.

I can’t remember when Renee first posted about the Goya Ham Concentrate but when she did I became a tad bit obsessed with the idea of it. Something easily found in your everyday grocery store in the Mexican aisle, something that’s vegan, and something that’s named “ham concentrate?!?!” Yes, yes please. True to word, it is vegan. But there is a but. The two main ingredients? 1. salt 2. MSG. Well, the third one is pretty funny too, “artificial ham flavor.” Ok, sure, the seasoning is pretty bad and it contains MSG and I understand why you would be averse to MSG, but remember, MSG in small quantities isn’t bad for you. However, that said, the flavoring is totally optional. You could throw in a little liquid smoke and extra salt to make up the difference.

The point is, I’ve finally made the ham soup of my childhood–sans fatty pieces of ham floating around in it. The mushiness is good–in fact, it’s required. And while the blended recipe was satisfying, my mom never blended hers. Instead she let the split peas cook down until they got mushy and thickened the soup. MSG or no MSG, this one is a winner in my book, if only because it’s so darn simple.

Smoky Split Pea Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp aleppo pepper (or 1/2 tsp chipotle pepper)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
2 c dried split peas
7 c vegetable broth
1 packed Goya Ham Concentrate (optional)

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute until tender, 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and saute for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add the split peas, vegetable broth, and ham concentrate and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a simmer and cover.

Cook for 1-1 1/2 hours until the peas being to break down and thicken.

Serves 6

Sorry for the delay in posts. Since moving to Virginia I’ve discovered that I’m incapable of working when it’s snowing (which is a bad thing since it’s snowing a lot this winter). With the cats snugged up in bed and the air cold and the world white, I just want to curl up with a book or watch a movie (speaking of which, I have a new blog post up for my job on the 2010 Academy Award nominations for Best Foreign Language Film–I want to see them all!) So, inevitably, I do as I want and I end up making nothing spectacular or blog worthy (i.e. biscuits and gravy, A-K’s Raggmunkar, etc.).

But the one thing I did make that was new and delicious was this Sorghum Risotto. Risotto, of course, is just the technique of cooking a grain or vegetable slowly in a large amount of liquid (it can work with anything from rice to barley to a small dice of potatoes). So with this risotto I decided to use a new grain I picked up when I was in Atlanta: sorghum. Anyone who is gluten-free recognizes sorghum in its flour form, and I’ve made sorghum flour before by milling the grains in my coffee grinder. What I hadn’t done was cook the sorghum as a grain base.

The trick with sorghum is that it takes a long time and a lot of liquid to cook it (as compared to rice). If cooking it like rice, it generally takes about double the time (at least an hour) to soften the grain up (with a ration of 3:1 water to sorghum). For this risotto, the cooking time was well in the 2 1/2 hour range (without pre-soaking, which I recommend). I added a simple dice of carrots, sliced portobello mushrooms, and kale and ended up with a hearty, nutty, warming meal for these cold winter days. If you haven’t tried sorghum yet, I definitely recommend finding it and giving it a whirl–I love the nutty toothsomness of it and it reminds me a lot of barley, except gluten-free of course!

Sorghum Risotto

1 c sorghum grain
6-8 c vegetable broth
1 c coconut milk
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced and divided
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 1/2 tsp aleppo pepper
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
8 oz portobello mushrooms, sliced
5 large kale leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot (I used my cast iron dutch oven), heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the half of the onion and saute for 5-6 minutes, until tender. Add the half of the garlic and saute for 1 more minute.

Add the sorghum and coat with the olive oil, sauteing for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of broth and lower to a simmer.

Allow the broth to cook down and then add another cup. Continue until the grain is tender. Once tender, add the coconut milk and cook until the mixture is creamy.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, warm the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the remaining onion dice and the carrot dice and saute for 5-6 minutes, until tender. Add the remaining garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the oregano, thyme, and aleppo pepper and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add the mushroom slices and cook for 5-6 minutes until they begin to release their liquid. Lower the heat and add the chopped kale and cook for 7-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper as necessary.

Set aside.

When the sorghum is tender and creamy, add the vegetable mixture to the grain and incorporate completely. Cook for a few more minutes, then remove from heat.

Makes 3-4 servings.