Friday, January 28, 2011

I seem to not cook when my wife is away...

I have however, been out playing with friends and chowing down at the Highline, meeting new people, running into old friends, and going off to catch some shows this weekend (with my boy Joey who just rolled into town! holla!!!). I've been skiing and listening to tons of music and ever since I started taking vitamin D, I have energy! It's been good. Also, I finished a quilt for a friends wee baby that I started a few months ago and I am stoked about the whole thing. It's the third one I've made, and the largest. Not bad, eh? What better way to remind people to eat their veggies? Got two more quilts on my plate right now and I can't wait to start 'em and share 'em!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rice and Beans with Hedgehog Mushrooms

I love hedgehogs. They are just so cute with their little snouts, and prickly quills, and when they yawn it's irresistible. They also belong outside, romping around in the grass and getting into peoples gardens, or sometimes washing hankies and making cups of tea, but only on their own terms. There is another kind of hedgehog though, which I gladly welcome into my kitchen, is luscious orange-brown, has soft little "quills" on the underbelly, is light and peppery and goes excellent with rice and beans, making it a perfect light dinner addition. And that is the hedgehog mushroom, my newest favorite find and a staple of late in my kitchen.

Cook rice, seasoning with chipotle chili pepper, garlic, salt, and cracked black pepper. Cook cranberry beans, seasoning with salt and cracked pepper. In a medium pan, over medium heat, saute 1 cup hedgehog mushrooms in 2 tsp olive oil, salt to taste and 1 tsp fresh chopped parsley until mushrooms are sift and cooked combine 1/2 cup rice with 1/2 cup cooked beans in a bowl and top with mushrooms. a very simple yet satisfying meal.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

“Cheesy” Potato Gratin

I finally fed my craving. See, I've been craving scalloped potatoes since Thanksgiving. The warm cheesy bubbles that pop with steam on the way from the oven to the table, the crisp browning edges that crunch, the perfectly laid rows of thin potato slices that are soft when you bite down, yet not mushy... yeah, that's what I've been craving. 

I fought the craving off for a while until Christmas rolled around and we had dinner with my wife's family and my mother-in-law served up a potato gratin, looking like the angels had made it and placed it down right beside me to tantalize my olfactory senses. And it was made with bacon. As quickly as the angels had laid down this dish beside me, the Devil was there to enforce the steadfast law that if you want something done your way, you better just do it yourself. So I begged for the recipe, veganized it, and bestow upon you the holy grail of potato gratin.

“Cheesy” Potato Gratin

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Portuguese Bean Soup

If you wanted to try my linguica seitan "sausage" recipe, but weren't sure what in the world to do with said "sausage," don't fear! you can make this awesome cabbage stew. It's a true "peasant stew" americanized by generations of mothers passing down to their offspring, and it was a favorite of mine when I was small during the winter months.

On a completely different, yet slightly related note, I blame Michael Scott and Ricky Gervais for my 4th grade stifled laughter over the last two days. Trust me, I know it's stupid, and immature, but I can't, for the life of me, read or type the word "sausage" without immediately thinking "that's what she said!" Even if it makes no sense whatsoever. Thanks, pop-culture, for taking over my brain. Again.

Portuguese Bean Soup

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Linguica Sausage Seitan

Sometimes, pre-packaged "sausage" just doesn't cut it. I had a hankering to make Portuguese bean soup yesterday, a throwback to my childhood, which my mum would make a few times a winter as it kept us warm and our tummies filled (and I did! of course, there was so much trial and error throughout the process, when I finally got the consistency and taste right, I had no idea how I ended up at that particular place. Will have to make again and follow my actions more closely so I can share). Running through my memorized list of Field Roast links, I knew Italian style "sausage" wouldn't cut it, chipotle would fall flat, and there was no way apple would work. I couldn't think of a Tofurky style link that would follow through, and couldn't think where to get a chorizo style (which may have worked... we'll see...). At any rate, I ended up making my own wheat meat that was slightly smokey and slightly spicy and worked in the stew just fine.

Linguica Sausage Seitan

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Shared Plates II: Spinach Salad, Roasted Squash, Swiss Chard on Toast and Sauteed Broccoli

For a minute there, while I was living on the east coast, I seemed to forget a bit about the food politics of the northwest. In this little corner of the world, it really does always seem to be about fresh, local, sustainable. I think here, maybe more than any other place in this country, people are adverse to processed food that come in packages or have been grown with the aid of pesticides. Many take it one step further, and if food was grown by anyone outside of your state (or county) it might as well be toxic sludge. It's pretentious, and a lot of the time we end up sticking our foot in our mouth, (there are more than a few restaurants that, while they tout fresh local ingredients seem to throw the fresh-local-sustainable shtick out the window for a scallop from Maine) to the point I sometimes think we should all say "Fresh, sustainable and local, unless it's exotic, sells well, and I can't get it locally" or "Fresh, sustainable and local but make sure my wine is from Italy!" and I will be the first to admit I indulge in that behavior.

Hypocrisy aside, as my favorite comic book heroine says "It ain't all bad." I've cut down eating processed vegan goodies like Gardien products and Daiya shreds and am opting to eat what is readily available in my area on a regular basis, and trust me when I say my taste buds aren't suffering. I make a good deal of what Anthony Bourdain might deem "Peasant food," and, if Tal Ronnen could see my fridge now he would likely ream me out for making food reminiscent of Angelica Kitchen in the '70's and insist I get with the times. But you know what? I like my hippie peasant food, thank you very much, and I intend to keep it. Sometimes, I think we get so fixated on improving or changing something we forget how good vegetables can be in their natural state. This is the sentiment I kept in mind when I had a few good friends over for dinner the other night, and we had a lovely simple dinner of spinach salad, baked maple Delicata squash, sauteed broccoli, chard on toast and kale crisps.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Shared Plates

Quite a lot has happened in the last few weeks, and as I sit here not-so-patiently waiting for the last of this horrid cold that has consumed my life the last four days to pass, I can finally take a few minutes to reflect on the rapid fire of the last few weeks. Christmas came and went, compacted into 4 days of seeing mine and my wife's family. Managed to see a few friends before I got sick and resigned to hiding in bed, saw a few movies starring Jeff Bridges (True Grit = Cohen brothers brilliance; Tron = old school fun reinvented), broke down and got a 35mm Holga Camera (Yes, I went to Urban Outfitters. Yes, I swore the whole time I was in the store. I may have even managed to bark "I used to be able to get a Holga 120 for $15 before these assholes started carrying them!" at the display of the brilliant Japanese plastic creations), did some laundry, took a few baths, visited the Picasso exhibit at SAM and somehow didn't end up cooking anything new and exciting.

Seriously, somehow, the only thing I have cooked in the last 2 weeks was some stir-fry and some vanilla bean cupcakes with tart cherry filling (ok, those were pretty good...) I did, however, share a few meals with friends, discussed molecular gastronomy, the roles food plays in community and history, read more of the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (which, in fact, predates Julia Child's french cookbook for Americans, and has more pre-war recipes), received and promptly started reading "As Always, Julia: the Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto" which is a truly amazing record of the development of one of the most monumental cookbooks and characters in U.S. history. I dined at a few "acclaimed" northwest restaurants and have a few ideas for some upcoming dinner menus, and shared a wonderful meal of rice, lentils, beets and onions, and beet greens with a few good friends. K, who made the wonderful meal, and I get to talking food and bore everyone else to tears, so we devised a plan to have a food date in the city every two weeks. In a way, that's a new years resolution, and one that I won't mind sticking with.

Lemon scented rice. Beets and Onions. Beet Greens