Archive for ‘Carrots’

August 10, 2013

wontons with apricot-mustard sauce

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I took a chance. I decided to venture out of my comfort-zone in order to test the waters of a cuisine that is not Italian-American focused. I took a trip to the Asian store (which ironically is called Paris Store?). I asked the people working there to identify certain vegetables that I couldn’t pick out of a vegetable line-up. I perused the sauce aisle for approximately 42 minutes without lifting my head once. And I made homemade green curry paste. And consequently a Thai green curry. That was delicious.

But this post isn’t about the green curry. This post is about the sides we made. Now, I know I am probably mixing up my non-Italian-American fare by serving wontons with a curry, but I am just a beginner, okay?

These wontons were…off…the…chain. Unbelievable. I was astonished by how successful they turned out. The texture. The filling. Tasted like something I would order in a restaurant (and this isn’t something I say very often about the food I turn out.) What I especially liked about this recipe is the minimalism of the ingredient list, and the fact that most of these things can be found in any old supermarket. Having a food processor is a bonus because it really gets the mixture to be homogenous, but I am sure loosely chopped versions of the ingredients would be excellent as well.

This post is for you Tilgerchen.

Wontons with Apricot-Mustard Sauce

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(adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen, makes 14 dumplings)

What you’ll need:

Apricot-Mustard Sauce

  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Wontons

  • 4 tbsps canola oil, divided
  • 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • gyoza or wonton wrappers (used egg-free if making this vegan!)

What now?

Apricot-Mustard Sauce:

  1. Combine jam and mustard in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t stick. Transfer to a serving bowl and let it cool to room temp.

Wontons:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbps canola oil over medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms until soft and lightly browned. Add the cashews, scallions, carrots, garlic, ginger and soy sauce and cook them babies all together for another 5 minutes.
  2. Once cooled slightly, transfer to a food processor and pulse a few times until the cashews are finely ground and mixture is somewhat smooth. I left mine slightly chunky because I thought it would pack more of a punch.
  3. At your origami station, place 2 teaspoons of wonton mixture in the center of each wonton wrapper.  Keep a small bowl of water nearby. You will want to wet the edges of the wonton mixture just enough to seal the wrapper. As you are folding over the wonton, squeeze as much air out as possible to avoid air pockets. As you can see, I was not fancy, I will have to upgrade my folding techniques for next time.  Just make sure it’s sealed.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Once the oil is hot, place the wontons in the skillet. Do not smush them, leave some space between them.
  5. Cook a few minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned. Once browned, fill the skillet with 1/2 inch hot water.
  6. Cover the skillet immediately and let those puppies simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Flip the wontons to brown the other side lightly.
  8. Serve with apricot-mustard sauce et voilà!

Bon app!

(I am sure the option of steaming could work equally as well, just haven’t tried it yet!)

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February 4, 2013

Veganism Day 3: Chickpea Veggie Burger with Tahini Sauce

Day 2 to 4: Veganism is tasty!

-by The Beard

So here we are, beginning our little journey into veganism. My guide’s aunt –a prominent vegan– used the right words for a better start: ‘do not replace dairy for vegan junk food.’ Yes, because it would be so easy: we’d live off salted peanuts, lots of wasabi chips, potatoes and raw carrots, and fake butter and baguette. And Coke. Well, I already know (thanks to my not-refunded 70 euros visit to the endocrinologist, which is unbelievable here!) that, due to my anarchist regulation of insulin that we call ‘pre-diabetes,’ I am not really allowed to eat French baguette or potatoes, for it turns into sugar once in my blood. Now, I already inquired about Coke. You, the people of the United States, are lucky: Coke is vegan. However, we Europeans, decided that Coke should contain Beta Carotene 10% DG/F. Can this really be… FISH GELATIN?! ‘Yes, Sir.’ So that fresh bottle went down the drain. Problem solved. Forever. In France.

Now, there is one thing I must say is very important: I am thankful for my guide. Because this chickpea and apricot tajine was the lightest and tastiest dinner I had in months! For several reasons. First of all, there are some wonderbarful (huh?) secret ingredients in there: cinnamon and ginger were my favorite. Then, because it came after the wonderful meatballs and gravy pasta my guide’s momma used to cook every Sunday, allowing me in the guide’s childhood memories. After carrying two gigantic bags full of 10 kilos (20 pounds) vegetables for 25 minutes (do Americans have a different time measurements, requiring the use of a converter?!) because I live right in the heart of the city where cars are NOT allowed, I noticed that the tajine had been forgotten in the fridge. The last reason why this dinner was the best in months is because it was delivered to my door at 7 pm, right when I felt hungry again!

I don’t want to spoil the day 3 recipe, but it was just as wonderful. I also cook on my own, but it goes back to more basic things (soups and salads mainly). And I have no camera. I’ll keep you posted…

 

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Chickpea Veggie Burger with Tahini Sauce

(adapted from shape.com, serves 6)

What you’ll need:

For the tahini sauce:

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame-seed paste)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

For the chickpea burgers:

  • 1 (15.5oz) (400g) can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs, divided

What now?

  1. For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth. It is a little liquid but it’s perfect for the veggie burgers nonetheless.
  2. For the veggie burgers, combine all of the ingredients except for the breadcrumbs in a food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure equal food processing.
  4. Mix the combination with the breadcrumbs in a large bowl.
  5. Divide the bean mixture into six equal portions, shaping each into a round patty-like disc. I tried both thicker and thinner patties and both were equally as good.
  6. Heat 2 teaspoons vegan margarine in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Add patties to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Mine were not crispy, crunchy all the way through, but they were still delightful.
  8. Serve in a pita with fresh onion, tahini sauce, lettuce, tomato.

We ate this with an endive salad, roasted Brussels sprouts,(and french fries and a pickle, to be 100% honest).

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(the Beard liked his with ketchup)

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February 1, 2013

Veganism Day 1: Chickpea and Apricot Tagine

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Coming back after a two month + hiatus.  A lot has happened in two months.  I took a trip to the United States and indulged in so much pizza that I didn’t even know what to do with myself.  I confirmed the fact that, although the US has foods that quench my hunger in a cultural sense, the quality of the vegetables and the fruits have rien à voir (nothing to do) with the ones in France — (a quick google search translates ‘rien à voir’ to ‘it’s apples and oranges!’ heh.)  I couldn’t believe the choices in the supermarkets, but when push comes to shove, nothing is more odorous than the fresh market produce that I get once a week at the Boulevard de la Marne.  But anyway, passons.  Let’s get back to the topic at hand.  My return.

My return is special.  Because I am coming back with a new flavor of the month – as we should say. Veganism. Hmm.  Veganism? For someone who has eaten not one but TWO fondues this week alone? It doesn’t seem to add up.  Which is exactly why I am doing it.  Cheese and I have a tumultuous relationship.  As in, it ruins me.  After watching two particularly enlightening documentaries on the food industry and the effect of dairy products on our health, I have mulled over the idea for some time.   Let’s add the fact that hereditary can be cruel to us.  And so I’d like to ideally take the best care of my body that I can – that is to say before my genes decide for me!

And if I were to actually be a practicing yogi (oh how I miss my yoga classes these days) I would be taking the nonviolent route.  Essentially, I want to see if kindness to my body and to other sentient beings will affect me, for the better.  Bref.  My thoughts are unclear. In order to help with unclear thoughts, this next month shall be co-blogged by The Beard.  He has decided to follow me in my pursuits. For someone who eats a whole lot of mozzarella, I’m just really impressed by his kindness to join me.

The Beard, everybody.

Cheese is my dope. But there’s nothing you can’t put aside, really. At the origin was vegetarianism –which seems to have accompanied my life forever. There’s no way back, but there is a way forward. Veganism. Veganism? For I believe that the voiceless should talk. Not only animals, but anyone. But this is not it. Anyone who has ever experienced this strange moment when, full of animal protein, you feel like you owe it to someone. And as a Frenchman, let me tell you: we don’t like to owe anything to anyone, especially not on food-related matters. Someone opens your eyes. You agree. If you gotta talk the talk, you also gotta walk the walk. I’ve therefore become a follower. Because my guide to veganism is wise and tempered. Not a radical. Not like me. This move toward veganism –even though I don’t intend on becoming a permanent one today– is therefore an initiating journey into ethical and culinary improvement. Out of curiosity. And out of love.

To celebrate February 1st, one whole day of veganism, I give you the utmost delicious way to start 28 days of a plant based diet thanks to Ms. Kim.  Kim is a British colleague/marvel who knows how to cook with flavour (see what I did there, with the spelling of that word?) I want her to teach me everything she knows.  For those of you who don’t know : a tagine is a typical Moroccan dish that often incorporates a surprising fruit ingredient into a slow cooked dish.  The addition of the cinnamon is surprisingly welcome!

Chickpea & Apricot Tagine

(serves 5-6 people)

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What you’ll need:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 1 big sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • a bayleaf
  • 16 fl oz vegetable stock
  • as many dried apricots as you’d like, cut up
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes

Now what?

  1. Fry the onion and garlic until fragrant.  Add the spices and cook for a few minutes.  Then add the remaining ingredients in that order, mixing for about a minute in between each addition.
  2. Let is simmer for around a half an hour. “Cook until scrumptious” to quote Ms. Kim.
  3. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper and mint (or parsley or coriander).
  4. Serve over whole wheat couscous.

Honestly, the choices are endless, you can swap in or out any of the vegetables for other root or non-root veggies.  The vegan sky is the limit.

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August 4, 2012

Very Vegetarian Lasagna | Lasagnes végétariennes

My roommate Alexis told me that he wanted to cook for us the other night.  I said, sure, no problem, thinking that it would be nice to come home to a hot meal every once in a while.  When the hour came for dinner, I arrived at our apartment ready to feast on whatever he had in store for me.  I entered the kitchen and saw a pile of frozen spinach sitting on a plate, an oven that was not preheated and an unconcerned Alexis opening a bottle of red wine.  I glanced at the clock and read 9pm.  He told me that he wanted to wait for the spinach to defrost.  I looked around for a few more clues and when I found a box of lasagna noodles perched on the windowsill, I knew that dinner wouldn’t be before midnight (or the next day, if we waited for the spinach to defrost on its own.) But the French eat late, I told myself.  But I had been hungry since 5pm.  He informed me that we would be eating spinach, crème fraiche and sun vegetable lasagna (rough translation.) My appetite now whet, I pounced into action in order to help this roommate-chef of mine so that soon that lasagna could be in our bellies.  While there is a copious amount of crème fraiche and ricotta in this recipe, the addition of a ratatouille sort of vegetable combination makes you feel slightly reasonable.  After it was finally cooked, he took his bottle of red, and me my bottle of white, and we settled on the couch (in front of the television) in true Franco-American style.

Very Vegetarian Lasagna

What you’ll need:

  • 450 gr fresh spinach
  • 1 eggplant, cut in circles
  • 1 zucchini, cut in circles
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • flat parsley
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 pinches oregano
  • 6 leaves fresh basil
  • 300 gr ricotta
  • 15 cl crème fraiche
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 lasagna noodles (no pre-cooking necessary)
  • 90 gr parmesan
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Now what?

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 f.
  2. Wash the spinach twice in cold water and then blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes.  Plunge them immediately in a large bowl of cold water so that they keep their green color.  Drain them and remove as much water as possible with the help of paper towel.
  3. Heat the shallot in a pan with a little olive oil for about 5 minutes until they are fragrant and clear.
  4. Simultaneously beat your eggs, ¾ ricotta and ¾ of the crème fraiche.  Add the shallots, spinach and the parmesan.  Salt, pepper and then put it off to the side.
  5. In the meanwhile, fry eggplant circles until slightly golden in a pan.  Once finished, place on the side on plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.
  6. Place all remaining vegetables in a pan with a little extra olive oil.  Add eggplant, 2 tbsp of parsley (fresh or dried), thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and cover it with a lid.  Let it simmer on low heat for approximately 15 minutes.  Once it is a nice mixture with a ratatouille like texture, add cut up basil and let it cook for 5 more minutes.
  7. Butter or oil a baking dish to the size of your liking (we used 26×20 cm).  Place three lasagna noodles on the bottom, followed by a layer of vegetables.  Add three more lasagna noodles and then spread (thickly) a layer of the spinach mixture.  Repeat this process until you are out of all of your ingredients or until you are out of dish space! Be sure to finish with lasagna noodles.
  8. Finally, combine the remaining ricotta, crème fraiche and some parmesan cheese to get a very cheesy top layer to cover your lasagna mountain.
  9. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the lasagna begins to turn golden brown.  Serve immediately with some extra parmesan cheese, as if there just wasn’t enough already…

 

June 26, 2012

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Gâteau aux carottes

I would be lying if I told you that this cake was low fat.  I would be a big liar.  Yes, I know that you must be saying to yourself “but if there are 3 cups of carrots inside, that’s 3 servings of vegetables per cake! ” Though I wouldn’t condone eating the whole cake just to get your daily 5, I would suggest that you take a walk on the wild side and make this not so low fat cake. And I have two very strong French arguments as to why.

A French grandma might tell you that carrots:

  1. make you likeable (les carottes rendent aimable!)
  2. make your butt pink and rosy! (les carottes donnent les fesses roses!)

I think that in this day and age, we could all stand to be a little more likeable (though I plead the fifth on the necessity of pink and rosy butts across the world.)  And since I prefer not to lie, I guess I should come out with the honest truth.  Not only will you be likeable and rosy butted, but you also seriously enjoy the smell wafting through your apartment as these little puppies bake and the familiar taste of all things fallish (poor seasonal timing for me, but alas…)  It doesn’t hurt to have a maple syrup cream cheese frosting to boot.  I must conclude by saying that if you ever find yourself missing the infamous Starbucks carrot cake, this guy will be the perfect home made antidote!

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting | Gâteau aux carottes

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

This could either make a two-layer cake OR 2 loaves OR 24 cupcakes OR 48 mini cupcakes (depending on your mood.) What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups (260 g)  flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (230 ml) canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups (270 g) grated peeled carrots
  • 1 cup (100 g) coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces (454 g) cream cheese softened (Philadelphia)
  • 1 stick (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (250g) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) pure maple syrup

1)   Preheat oven to 180 c / 350 f.

2)   Make your cream cheese frosting by blending all of the ingredients with an electric mixer for about 5 minutes and then allowing the frosting to chill in the refrigerator.

3)   Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.)

4)   In a separate bowl, mix together sugar and oil, adding eggs one at a time.

5)   Incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients in several parts, mixing well.

6)   Add grated carrots, walnuts and raisins if you’re feeling extremely adventurous (or want to get another fruit/vegetable in your cake!)

7)   Divide your batter accordingly.  If you are making a two-layer cake, you must use two buttered and floured molds of approximately the same size (9-in cake pans will do.)

8)   Bake for approximately 20 minutes (mini cupcakes / cupcakes) or 45 minutes (loaves/cakes.)  You will know your cake is done once a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cakes cool on a wire rack and frost only once they are completely cooked.  Be wary not to have a “frost one, eat one” policy like I do, but taste them a little warm just the same.  Set frosted cakes in the refrigerator to set for 30 minutes.

9) Withhold all desires to dive head first in the remaining cream cheese frosting.

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