Moroccan Inspired Vegetarian Dish

Just going to cut to the chase and list the recipe this time. (For some reason, this post stayed in my drafts so here you go, a bonus recipe post, heh)

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

1 -2 tbl of extra virgin olive oil

1 tbl moroccan kefta spices (you could use a mix of chili, cinnamon, mint, cumin, coriander, paprika and cilantro)

juice of one lime

1 cup of pearl or Israeli couscous

1-1/2 cups of unsalted chicken broth or stock

1/4 tsp of sea salt

1/4 of a red onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbl butter

1 – 15 oz can of no salt added diced tomatoes, drained

1 tsp kefta spices

drizzle of red wine vinegar

 

1/4 cup of low sugar dried cranberries

1/4 cup sliced almonds (toast these beforehand in a hot pan)

drizzle of honey

feta cheese crumbles

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Directions

Add cubed squash to a large ziploc bag with 1-2 tbl olive oil, kefta spices and the juice of one lime. Close and shake well to coat. Allow to sit and marinate for 15 min before spreading on a cookie sheet and baking in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Bring stock and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add couscous, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 2 – 3 minutes. Fluff gently with a fork.

Saute onion and garlic in a large skillet in the 2 tbl of butter until translucent. Add roasted squash, couscous, 1 tsp of kefta spices, canned tomatoes and a drizzle of red wine vinegar…mix well. Heat through for about 5-8 minutes before adding the cranberries, almonds and drizzle of honey. Mix well and serve, topping each portion with a crumble of feta cheese

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Since I can no longer eat potatoes on a regular basis, I decided to give cauliflower a whirl as a potato sub. It seems to work well for mashed potatoes and potato salad, so why not soup? I didn’t use a recipe, but instead just tossed everything into my instant pot and hoped for the best.

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 vidalia onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic

1 tbl unsalted butter

1 tbl extra virgin olive oil

3 tsp of dried thyme

drizzle of white wine vinegar

24 ounces of low sodium chicken stock (this is a weird number, but I used most of a carton minus 8 oz…to use up the carton I had in my fridge.)

1 cup of water

1/3 cup of crumbled bacon

1 cup of 2% milk

salt & pepper

Arrange cauliflower and whole, unpeeled cloves on a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Spray more cooking spray over the cauliflower and garlic and sprinkle on 1 & 1/2 tsp of the thyme. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, turning as needed so the veggies don’t get too brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool, peeling the husks off the garlic when you can safely touch them. (I forgot to snap a pic after they were roasted. OOPS!)

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Set your instant pot to sauté and add the tbl of butter and olive oil. Add the diced onion and the rest of the thyme and sauté until the onion softens and begins to caramelize. Deglaze with a drizzle of white wine vinegar (regular white wine would work here too, I didn’t happen to have any).

Turn off the sauté and spoon in the roasted cauliflower and garlic. Don’t worry about the whole cloves of roasted garlic, they will melt into the soup as it pressure cooks. Cover with the chicken broth & water.

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Make sure your steam vent is closed, cover and cook on manual pressure for 6 minutes. When it beeps, vent and open, add the milk and bacon, salt & pepper to taste. Stir & serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Flat Out Bread

After watching two episodes of Michael Pollan’s Cooked on Netflix, I have been inspired to cook even more of our food myself. Bread has always been a nightmare for me, all the touching/kneading…totally not my cup of chai. I did find a couple of really good no knead sandwich bread recipes though, one from Food 52 and another I found today (I have discovered that the second recipe is actually the same as the Food 52 one, the author just changed a few things and called it her own without linking back to the Food 52 one or even acknowledging it…BAD FORM!). The Food 52 one I have made myself a few times and it’s awesome. I found this recipe and decided to try it. I subbed a little flax meal for part of the flour and also added a touch of sugar and onion powder to sweeten and flavor it a bit.

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just rested ball of flaxy dough

It was easy enough to make with my stand mixer and my new cookware is almost like cast iron so I just used my medium skillet to cook. This also gave me a chance to use my tapered french rolling pin. I bought it ages ago and then left it in the packaging until today.

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I am winning at making this one quite circular

I didn’t have my pan hot enough so mine took longer than 1 minute per side to cook for the first couple.

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shockingly, this was the last one I rolled, and my rolling pin fu had clearly left me. I cooked it first so I could eat the evidence of my failure

I then decided to watch the video and realized I needed my temp higher. Seriously people, if you make a recipe to post online, make sure all your instructions are written in the post as well as on a video…IF you make videos of your recipes.

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the final products happily resting on the counter

This was so easy to do that I plan to make flatbread to go with soups from now on. I can make them while the soup simmers and the recipe is perfect for our family of four. I can also attest to the yumminess of said recipe as I am currently snarfing the misshapen one which I spread with a little spicy pepper chutney some fresh baby spinach leaves and a little crumbled feta. NOM.

*UPDATE* I have made this bread a second time and used All-Purpose instead of bread flour (which is what I used the first time). I think I like it better with the All Purpose. It goes together so fast that it’s not like the gluten has much time to form anyway with the Bread Flour.

Drive-by Jackfruiting

Here we go with yet another method for making a generic jackfruit veggie ‘meat’. This time in beef flavor. I have read that roasting the jackfruit helps to give it a chewier texture, which is why I roasted the last batch. However, I think I probably should have shredded it prior to roasting to ensure that more of the moistness was removed. Onward to the cookery!

I marinated the drained & rinsed jackfruit overnight in a mix of beef stock (I like using these) and some worcestershire sauce.

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Yup, still looks completely unappetizing and brown to boot. Fear not, a little more work and it will be glorious…or something.

I then nuked the cold chunks for about a minute to make it easier to shred. After cooling I proceeded to have at it with my hands. I have never found the two fork method to be as efficient. Maybe meat claws would work better, but the chunks are small enough that using my fingers was zero problem.

At this point the jackfruit has a texture much like cooked crab meat, which is not bad at all and if you wanted to use it like this, it certainly would work. I think you could probably saute it up to get some maillard reaction going on and add a little crispy to it. I would probably do that if I was using it in a curry or other sauce to be cooked immediately. In this instance I wanted something I could freeze to be used at a later date.

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Now things are starting to look more meat-like producty. I drizzled on some really good Spanish extra virgin olive oil, shook on some smoked paprika and garlic, mixed it all up really well with my hands and proceeded to spread the mess onto a piece of oiled, heavy foil. I roasted for 10 minutes in a 350 degree convection oven. This is what I ended up with:

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I tasted a bit and while it still had a fairly neutral flavor, I think it should work well for whatever I plan to do with it. I bagged it, tagged it and froze it for later use.

Experiments in vegetable ‘meat’ cookery #2

Jackfruit. I have heard it referred to as the ‘porcupine of the fruit world’ and I guess this is due to how it looks in it’s natural, unprocessed state.

Jackfruits grow on the branches and trunks of tall trees. You don't wait to harvest until they drop of their own accord — by that time, they'd be overrip

I suppose it was given this identifier because of the spiky outside, but I don’t get a porcupine vibe off that really. Maybe it’s the lack of foot long (in some porcupine species) quills that is throwing it for me.

At any rate, Jackfruit has been used as a meat substitute in many a vegan and vegatarian dish. It is native to parts of South & Southeast Asia, where the ripe fruit is used in desserts and candies and the young, unripe fruit used in savory preparations such as curries. What I will be experimenting with is the young, unripe variety.

Out of the can, it looks rather unassuming and unappetizing:

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But once you start working with it, it starts to resemble something you might want to put in your mouth at some point.

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BBQ Pulled Jackfruit

1-2 rbl extra virgin olive oil

granulated garlic

hickory Bacon Salt

1 can of unripe (or green) jackfruit in brine or water

3 tbl tomato paste

2 tbl mustard (I used this kind of sweet, kind of spicy Swedish stuff I get at Ikea called Senap Mild)

1/2 tbl of brown sugar

liberal shake of smoked paprika

1-2 tbl of worcestershire sauce

Drain and rinse jackfruit really well, especially if it comes in brine. Toss with olive oil to coat and sprinkle on the garlic and bacon salt. I use the bacon salt as it’s lower in sodium, vegetarian and also adds a little smokiness to the mix. You could also used some smoked paprika in lieu of the bacon salt or in addition to the other seasonings, if you want to up that smoky factor. Transfer the seasoned jackfruit to a baking sheet and roast in a 350 degree F oven for about 15 minutes. Allow the fruit to cool before shredding with your fingers or two forks.

In a small bowl, mix the tomato paste, mustard, brown sugar, smoked paprika and worcestershire sauce until well blended. I then popped the mixture into the microwave for a minute or so to ‘cook’ everything a bit. You could cut out this step entirely and just use bottled sauce too.

Add the bbq sauce to the shredded jackfruit and mix well to ensure all the jackfruit is coated.

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I then heated the mixture for another minute to help the sauce soak in a bit, then refrigerated to allow the flavors to marry more. To use, simply reheat and pile on your favorite delivery method, bun, bread,. rice cakes…what have you. I plan to have some of mine open-faced on white toast with a slice of american cheese melted on the top. You can take the girl out of the trailer…

Experiments in vegetable ‘meat’ cookery #1

SO I have gout brought on by my traitorous kidneys. I know. I have the rich, fat, white, Edwardian man’s disease! For those not in the know, gout is a kind of inflammatory, arthritis-like disease that feels like gremlins with acid-dipped knives are repeatedly stabbing the affected joint. The causes of gout are an overabundance of uric acid that forms crystals in the joints. When your body tries to flush these crystals via white blood cells, the pain and swelling is the reaction. Or maybe it’s just the devil as this vintage illustration suggests. The devil and cello playing…while an incongruous grackle looks on…possibly looking smug, possibly laughing. Who can know the thoughts of Incongruous Grackle?

Gout

Moving on, I now have a new list of foods to avoid during an attack…none of which came from my kidney doctor but instead are the result of lots and lots of research on my part. Basically I should avoid foods high in purines during an attack and this should help mitigate the symptoms. So I have decided to finally just go vegetarian…anything to avoid that pain. If I had been told I was reduced to a diet of dirt and water for alleviation, this would be the best fucking mud pie recipe ever.

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Artichoke Hearts Taco Filling

1 can of artichoke hearts

2 tbl extra virgin olive oil

tajin clásico seasoning, the low sodium kind

ancho chili powder

chili powder

granulated garlic or garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)

oregano

Heat up an appropriately sized sauté pan and add the olive oil. Drain and chop artichoke hearts and add to the preheated pan. Sprinkle on all seasonings (use the amounts you deem fitting), mix well

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and saute until the artichoke hearts begin to brown and get a little crispy on the edges. Takes about 10 min or so. Basically you want a lot of that water that’s in them to cook out.

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Use as you would any other taco or burrito filling.

Screw You Life…I’m Making Soup

What do you do when you have an infected tooth in need of a root canal, a veritable shit load of nasal and chest congestion and a general feeling of malaise? MAKE SOUP.

This is sort of a riff on my mom’s version of French Onion Soup, with some traditional Bloody Mary flavors added. I like to drink low sodium V8 juice all dolled up like a Bloody Mary sans the vodka so that also somewhat inspired this.

Bloody Mary Soup

1 – 28 oz can of whole, peeled plum tomatoes

1 – 14.5 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes

2 little tubs of Knorr homestyle beef stock (these are like little jello shots of flavor)

7 cups of water

3 bay leaves

2 small onions, diced

2 tbl olive oil

generous drizzle of worcestershire sauce

small drizzle of honey or agave syrup

generous drizzle squirt of sriracha sauce

granulated garlic, salt, pepper – to taste

the juice of one freshly squeezed lemon.

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Directions

In an appropriately sized stock pot, sauté onions in olive oil until well caramelized…practically melted. In an Oxy-fueled haze, forget that you have onions cooking and really caramelize a few.

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While this is happening, blend the two cans of tomatoes really well in a food processor or blender.

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Add tomatoes, water, stock shots, bay leaves, worcestershire sauce, pepper, sriracha, honey and garlic. Skim any burnt onions off the surface (or, you know just claim you meant to do that when you serve the soup). Simmer on low for 1-2 hours.

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Finish with the lemon juice before serving with garlic toast, grilled cheese or crackers.

Open mouth, shovel in food.

(wow. these photos truly suck the big one…that last one looks like filthy dish water. HOOOOOOOOOORK)