Archive for ‘Grains’

February 3, 2013

Veganism Day 2: Mamoon’s Italian Faux-meatballs and Gravy

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On a recent trip to Germany (hooray for living on the border!), the Beard and I were astonished to discover a ton of products that France seems to be lacking.  That is to say — meatless meatballs, tofurkey, vegan butter, etc. etc.  We naturally spent every bit of our paycheck (and way too many hours on a Saturday morning) loading up on a couple of these delights. Normally, I can do without faux-meat because that is something that I’d like to try my hand at myself, BUT I couldn’t resist purchasing meatless meatballs and faux-italian sausage in order to make the Beard a dish that he has yet to taste.  A heritage piece.  Something that I ate every Sunday growing up in my Italian American household.  Waking up to the smell of frying garlic and onions at 10am on a Sunday morning — knowing what was in store was a carbohydrate lover’s delight.  I had to make my family’s “gravy.” Be careful — in my household, you’d be sooner caught dead than to call it “sauce” (or ‘sawce’ as the Beard likes to say with his New York accent.) It’s gravy.  And macaronis.  And that’s what I decided to make for day 2 of veganism. A sort of initiation for the Beard.  A good gravy is not complicated but boy oh boy is it delicious.

Mamoon’s Italian Gravy

What you’ll need:

  • olive oil
  • large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 large cans (800g) crushed tomatoes (Redpak for those of you in the U.S)
  • Italian seasonings (oregano, basil, fresh parsley, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, whatever your heart desires)
  • bouillon cube / a pinch of sugar

Now what?

  1. Sauté onion and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until fragrant.
  2. Add one can of crushed tomatoes and season to your likings (the more the better, you want to see specks of seasonings in every bite).  Mix well.
  3. Add the second can and season yet again!
  4. Add your bouillon cube and a pinch of sugar.
  5. Let the gravy heat through and simmer.  At this point you can add your broiled meatballs and Italian sausages.  In our case, we fried up the meatless meatballs and faux-sausages and added to the gravy once they were crispy on the outside.
  6. Plop everyone into the gravy and let simmer and infuse for 30-45 minutes (since they were meatless.) For real meat, I would let it cook longer, to be sure.  An hour? An hour and a half?
  7. Serve on with big macaronis (I prefer rigatoni, for example!)  Cover with Parmesan cheese if you aren’t a cheese-aphobe.  Nutritional yeast was a nice replacement!

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October 20, 2012

Butternut Pasta with Caramalized Onions and Spinach

My friendly market vegetable stand man gifted me with a butternut squash this week.  He likes to tease me because I am American, often (and repeatedly) telling me stories about his trip to New Jersey and how he tried to lose his wife in the Bronx (oh Alsatian humor, unsure of how funny it actually is…)  His wife is usually standing right next to me as he tells this story, with a look of desperation in her eyes as if to say that she wished that she were still in the Bronx as well.  In any case, perhaps this gift was in fact a curse because never have I ever spent so much time deconstructing a butternut squash. But let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth, hm?  In America, we have the luxury of buying vegetables that are peeled and chopped for us.  Not in France.  They make you do the dirty work yourself.  And dirty it is — and incredibly dangerous as well — because those chopped pieces of squash have a proclivity to fly across the kitchen, nearly blinding any and all innocent standbys.

Anyway, I am not here to lecture on the hazards of butternut squash but rather to tell you how imperative it is that you make this faux-mac and cheese.  It is the kind of recipe that spent the entire week open in my tab-bar beckoning me at the end of every day. J’avoue (I admit) that it is a lot of preparation but oyé (Alsatian version of oy vey?), it is worth it in the end.  The most satiating pasta dish I’ve had in a very long time.  En plus, it is full of vegetables to rid the conscious of any sort of guilt.  And subbing in greek yogurt in the place of creme fraiche provides a tangy sort of sauce without breaking the calorie bank.  All in all an A+.

This recipe is originally made with KALE in the place of spinach but since I can’t seem to find this elusive vegetable in my current country, I opted for some fresh spinach instead to increase my intake of leafy greens!

Butternut Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Spinach

Serves 6, adapted from Eats Well With Others (my blog GURU)

What you’ll need:

  • 1 butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz (400 g) whole wheat pasta
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach
  • 2 cups sliced onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere (let’s be honest, I may have used a little more)

Now what?

  1. Preheat oven to 400 f / 200 c Spend several hours face to face with your butternut squash fully equipped with a machete. Or, peel the squash like a potato (good luck with that), cut it length-wise and then scoop out its innards like that squash hurt the ones you loved the most. Take the cubes, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and put it on a baking sheet to roast in the oven for about 30 minutes. You want that to be soft and sort of caramelized.
  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salt water for about 7 minutes.
  3. Simultaneously (this recipe requires ambidexterity), sauté the onions in a medium sized skillet on medium heat for about 6 minutes until they start to brown. Add garlic and salt cooking until very fragrant.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth with flour to create a sort of paste. Add to the onion mixture and cook until it thickens up a bit, slowly adding more vegetable broth. Wait until it thickens up before adding a little more. This is a sort of faux-roux.
  5. Once it seems good and thick, remove from heat, add red pepper flakes, greek yogurt (and a handful of gruyere) to make it officially a sauce.
  6. Pour the sauce into a large bowl and add the rest of the components: pasta, spinach, butternut squash, and mix well.
  7. Pour into a large glass baking dish, top with gruyere and put that sucker in the oven at 400 f / 200 c until you’ve got a crusty baked pasta dish (20 minutes)
  8. et bon app!
September 3, 2012

Alsatian Spaetzle | spaetzle à l’alsacienne

Once upon a time in a large kitchen in the countryside of Alsace, chez Martine a colleague of mine,  I learned how to make spaetzle.  While most other French citizens might mock Alsatians for being very agricultural and dare I say, hickish, I, on the other hand, have fallen in love with their culture.  I guess being from New York, I crave what is foreign to me: sprawling green hills and mamies (grandmas) who bake cakes every Sunday!  Because those cakes feed my roommates who consequentially feed me!  And damn, they are good.

The term Alsatian evokes a whole set of particular principles — I could never do it justice by trying to explain it (Christa, let me know what it is you actually find out about this interesting species in your PHD.)  A few words that come to mind are family-oriented (Sunday lunch….every week), neat (2 sponges for doing the dishes?) and proud of their culture and history (have you SEEN those costumes?)

I could go on.  And I will at a later date as I am still continuing to uncover the mystery that is Alsace.
Anyway, this past weekend my better half picked up and left Strasbourg to return to Atlanta, Georgia.  Prior to her departure, I showed her all my Alsatian tricks.  Spaetzle making included. Miss you schnooze. Come back schnoon.

Alsatian Spaetzle | spaetzle à l’alsacienne

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk or water

Now what?

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper.  Make a well in the center of your flour mixture and add the eggs and milk.  Mix until you obtain a homogenous batter, adding more milk or water if need be. The dough should be smooth, thick and sticky.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Now you have two methods to choose from. 1) Using a strainer, press the dough through the tiny holes until they fall in the water.  2) Working with a moist cutting board, place a large spoonful of the dough onto the cutting board.  Cut small pieces of the dough off of the cutting board and into the boiling water ( this is the method that I prefer.)  You will have to do several batches.  Once the spaetzle float to the top of the pot, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them under cold water to stop the cooking and to prevent sticking.  Drain well in a colander.
  3. Once the spaetzle are made (and the kitchen looks like a dough disaster area), sauté them in salted butter until they’ve obtained a beautiful golden brown crunch.
July 9, 2012

Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad

This recipe is a vegan alternative that I made for a Faux-French-Fourth of July that I was hosting.  The French aren’t necessarily familiar with American food culture and they believe our haut cuisine to be a big mac from McDonalds (sadly, this is no exaggeration.)  It was generally appreciated by all (despite a slight skepticism on the part of the French for all things that are both ‘culinary’ and ‘American.’)

The reason that I like this summer salad is because it is chock full of ingredients that are good for you and because none of them are necessarily annoying to prepare.  If something requires a lot of chopping, I immediately throw in the towel (or as the French say, I throw in the sponge) because I can’t be bothered.  The recipe originally called for brown rice, which I imagine would’ve been good but I only had couscous on hand and it was fabulous nonetheless.  I imagine you could pack more of a punch using quinoa for a little extra protein.  This is delightful, sort of a summer vegetable salad (rather than a winter fruit salad!) And the good news is, the longer it sits in the fridge, the tastier it gets!  Another positive point? My phobia of raw chickpeas dissipates with this salad because of the complex combination of flavors and textures that this dish promises!

Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad

(adapted by VegNews)

Serves 10 (good as an entrée but also as a picnic side salad!)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Peel of 1 lemon, cut into strips 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 2 red peppers, cut into wide strips
  • 3-1/2 cups cooked couscous (or brown rice)
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 24 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion

Now what?

  1. Preheat oven and broil red peppers on a baking sheet until black and bubbly.   Place the red peppers in a covered bowl for five minutes.  After, it should be very easy to peel off the skin and voila! Roasted red peppers! Dice them up!
  2. Combine lemon juice, lemon strips, olive oil and minced garlic in a bowl as salad dressing.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients (red peppers, chickpeas, couscous, tomatoes, olives, cucumber, parsley and red onion) and coat with salad dressing.
  4. Let it marinate for a few hours in the refrigerator and enjoy cold!

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