Friday, April 11, 2014

More ways to add savory flavor

The Cook's Country site currently has an article called "Getting to Know: Umami Powerhouses" available on their site. Some of the suggestions are the same as ones I featured in this post, but there are a few new ideas as well. Check it out!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I don't have much of a post for today, as we just got back from a trip last night, but our trip included a stop at Eataly, where I had an amazing ravioli dish with a pea and ricotta filling.
I was holding a squirmy baby at lunch, so this picture is from someone on Yelp.
We haven't seen much by way of fresh peas up here in the frozen north, but you can bet I'll be trying this as soon as we do. If you live in warmer climes and can get your hands on some, this recipe looks pretty close, but I'd skip the onions and garlic. Eataly serves theirs with butter and little pieces of asparagus, but the lemon butter in the recipe sounds like a winner as well.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Five Favorite Quick and Easy Meatless Recipes

I was going to type up a somewhat elaborate recipe for today, but after a cranky baby and I woke up rather too early, I've decided that I'm in the mood for something else entirely. Here are five favorite quick and easy meatless dinner options.

If you're coming over from the the MoxieWife linkup, welcome, and be sure to check out our archives for more recipes!

The perfect solution when you have tortillas, but not enough for taco night. If you can get your hands on uncooked tortillas (like TortillaLand), they come out even crispier.

Fifteen minutes in the oven, which is plenty of time to whip up the sauce. Serve it with some rice and a salad, and you're set!

Use a premade pie crust to bring this together quickly. You can even make it ahead and freeze it!

Because breakfast for dinner is always a good idea.

For this recipe, you literally toss all the ingredients together in a bowl. Italian simplicity at its finest. Fresh baby spinach would also be good here, and then you wouldn't even have to thaw anything!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Brown Rice in Half the Time

Brown rice, with its nutty flavor and complete proteins, is a natural accompaniment to meatless meals. When I just want to throw together a quick stir-fry, though, I'm probably not going to wait an hour for the rice to be ready. Cooking brown rice by the pasta method (in lots of water, and then draining it), cuts the cooking time in half, and results in more evenly-cooked, tender grains. I haven't looked back since discovering it.

To cook brown rice by the pasta method:

Fill a medium saucepan with salted water and bring it to a boil. Add the rice and return to a boil. Lower the heat slightly and cook, uncovered, until the rice grains are tender, 20 to 25 min (keep an eye on the water level). Drain the rice through a mesh strainer or fine colander.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Maple Pecan-Crusted Salmon

This recipe was very quick and easy, and popular with everyone at my table. I've written it for two, but it doubles or triples (or more) very easily. The panko crumbs add a great crunch, so don't substitute regular bread crumbs here. Try crushed crackers or croutons instead.
  • 2 (4-ounce) salmon fillets
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • 3 T finely chopped pecans
  • 2 T panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 325º. Combine glaze ingredients. Toast pecans and bread crumbs briefly in a skillet over medium heat, removing as soon as the pecans are fragrant. Combine with basil and salt.

Brush sides and bottom of fillets with glaze and place in a small baking dish. Brush tops very generously (use it all up). Pat half of crust onto the top of each fillet. Bake 15–20 minutes, until flaky.

Serves 2.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Five Favorite Ways to Add Savory Flavor to Meatless Meals

Linking up with Moxie Wife! If you're joining us from over there, be sure to have a look at our recipe archives for lots of Lenten meal ideas!

Several years of meatless Lents has yielded some delicious meals, and some that are ... lacking. To really make a meatless dish taste like dinner, it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve to make up for what is lacking. Here are a few favorite tricks I've learned over the years to keep your diners from asking "Where's the beef?"

1) Parmesan
(Source: Flickr user cosmos_72)
Sure, you always sprinkle a little on your spaghetti, but meatless dishes are the time to really get serious about your Parmesan. Grate it fresh off the block or slice off curls with a vegetable peeler, and use it to top bowls of soup and salad, stir it into risotto, and put a healthy layer on top of that pizza. You won't even miss the pepperoni.

2) Dried Mushrooms
(Source: Flickr user Artizone)
Simmer them in your broth, or crumble/grind them up and use them like a seasoning. Farmhouse Vegetable Soup combines them with soy sauce to make a rich broth. You can usually find porcinis and others at your regular grocery store, but Asian markets tend to have shiitakes for a more reasonable price.

3) Asian Sauces
You can get pretty adventurous with these, or just stick with soy sauce if you'd rather. Tamari is a thicker, smoother-flavored soy sauce. Fish sauce can be used pretty much anywhere you'd use soy sauce, but a little goes a very long way (and when you're not cooking meatless, try it in burgers!) Miso is a Japanese ingredient that can go with just about anything you can think of.

4) Tomatoes
There's a reason tomatoes form the base for so many condiments: they're packed with flavorful glutamates, the same flavor compounds found in beef. Brown some tomato paste (as in Gardener's Pie) or add some sun-dried tomatoes (like in our taco lentils) to get this flavor in concentrated form. And don't forget to put a small tomato in your stock pot!

5) Smoke
Roast those vegetables, caramelize your onions, toast some nuts. Getting some browning going will add a lot of depth of flavor. There's a reason grilled meat tastes so good, and the same flavors build (on a smaller scale), when you brown your vegetables. If your recipe or ingredients don't lend themselves to browning, a bit of liquid smoke or spices like smoked paprika or chipotle powder will do. This is an especially good trick for recipes like split pea or potato soup, where you might be feeling the lack of bacon.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tomato Soup for Two

This tomato soup recipe is both easy and easily customizable. I used red pepper and sherry, but you could do a version with fresh basil and extra garlic, or substitute some cream for some of the bread and broth. Feel free to sub in canned or frozen tomatoes if that's what you have on hand.

  • 1¼ pounds tomatoes, peeled (optional) and roughly chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pinch hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 slices sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  •  cups vegetable broth
  • 1–2 T sherry (optional)
  • salt and pepper
Place tomato pieces in a medium-sized mixing bowl and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt. Toss to combine and let sit.

Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and a bit browned.

Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Stir in sugar and bread; bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are cooked and start to break down.

Transfer soup to a blender (if this would fill your blender more than 2/3 full, process in two batches), cover blender with a towel, and process until soup is smooth and creamy.

Return soup to pot; stir in enough broth to create the desired consistency, along with the sherry, if using. Return soup to a boil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lentil Taco "Meat"

I'm not sure why I've shied away from lentils for so long (probably a bland childhood experience), but I decided to pick up some of the pretty French green ones last time I was at the natural foods store, and we've been having a field day with them this Lent. They're packed with protein (more than every bean but soy), and take a fraction of the time to cook, which is great if your meal-planning skills, like mine, don't usually extend to the night before.
The three-year-old "Makin' 'mollys'." He even ate them. ;-)
This recipe for taco filling is packed with flavor, and can be used pretty much anywhere you'd use meat. Half of ours went into tamales, with the rest reappearing from the freezer for taco salad.

Serves four.
(recipe source)

2 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp chipotle powder (or, use all regular chili powder and a dash of liquid smoke)
1 T tomato paste
½ tsp toasted sesame oil
1 cup dry lentils (any variety but red or yellow)
1½ cups water
1 T white vinegar
¼ cup smoked sundried tomatoes, finely chopped

In a skillet or large saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil and onion. Saute until translucent, then add the cumin, salt, chili powders, and tomato paste. Cook for a minute or so until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20–30 minutes until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender but not falling apart.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Meatless Meals for the Feast of St. Patrick

We here at Chez Thérèse go meatless all of Lent, but we also love to celebrate St. Patrick's feast. While fish and chips are always a tasty option, I don't exactly feel like going to the trouble of deep frying. So, I'm thinking a lovely Gardener's Pie is in our near future.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Meatless Sloppy Joes

I made these last night, and they were a big hit with one and all. It's amazing what some ketchup with your vegetables can do. :-) Dicing all those vegetables can take a while, so start it while you are cooking the lentils.

Makes 8 sandwiches.

3 T olive oil, divided
16 ounces mushrooms, diced
1 tsp. or cube bouillon
1 large onion, diced (1 cup)
¼ cup dry white wine
2 large carrots, diced (1 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced (½ cup)
1 large bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
1½ cups cooked lentils
1 cup ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard

In a 12" frying pan warm 2 T olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the mushrooms until the liquid has evaporated and they brown a bit. Remove from pan.

Add remaining 1 T of oil to the pan, along with onion and bouillon. Saute until bouillon is dissolved and onion is translucent. Pour in the wine and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine has evaporated. Add the carrots, celery, and pepper; cook for about 5 minutes until tender.

Return the mushrooms to the pan, along with the remaining ingredients; cook over low until warmed through. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve on toasted buns.