Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Lasting Impressions

May 13, 2010

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If you are cooking to impress, then dessert is your last chance to make a great impression. Nothing says elegance like French technique and no one can make French cooking as easy as Julia Child did. So from Julia Child via David Lebovitz comes this classic and easy recipe for chocolate mousse (be warned that it contains raw eggs). I cut the recipe in half since I was cooking for fewer people. Serves four to six people. Bon appétite!

3 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped*
3 oz. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened at room temperature
1/2 cup dark-brewed coffee
2 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tbsp. dark rum
1/2 tbsp. water
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

* I recommend using bittersweet chocolate if possible since it is less sweet. You don’t want the sweetness to be overwhelming. Use good quality dark chocolate in a bar. Chocolate chips are designed to resist melting, so I would avoid chips if possible.

1. Keep a large bowl two-third full of ice water standing by.

2. In a bowl set over a saucepan that is a third of the way filled with simmering water, melt the chocolate, butter and coffee together, whisking constantly until smooth. Set aside the chocolate aside.

3. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer with the 1/3 cup of sugar, rum, and water for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise. (You can also use a handheld electric mixer.)

3. Remove from heat and place the bowl of whipped egg yolks within the bowl of ice water and beat until cool and thick as shown in the photo below. Then fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.

via David Lebovitz

4. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they hold their shape. Then beat in the tablespoon of sugar and the vanilla until they form thick, shiny stiff peaks.

5. Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated. Don’t overdo it or the mousse will lose volume.

6. Divide the mousse into your serving dishes. This dishes you choose are an essential element to making this dessert truly elegant. I used non-stemmed martini glasses, but you can get creative. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

Thomas Keller Recipes

May 10, 2010

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I got to meet with Thomas Keller while he was in Boston for a signing of his new book, Ad Hoc At Home. He was kind enough to share one of his vegetarian recipes with Veggiewala: Celery Root with Melted Onions.

Excerpted from AD HOC AT HOME by Thomas Keller (Artisan Books).

Celery Root with Melted Onions

4 large celery root (about 4 pounds total)
8 tablespoons (1 stick; 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
4 cloves garlic, crushed, skin left on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Melted Onions (page 337) [found at the bottom]
1/2 cup Chicken Stock (page 339) or Vegetable Stock (page 341),
plus more if needed

This is kind of a play on potatoes Lyonnaise, a classic potato and onion dish. Here celery root replaces the potatoes and is sautéed in brown butter and combined with “melted” onions.

Cut off the top and bottom of each celery root (see Lightbulb Moment, page 142). Stand each one up on a cut side and cut off the skin in strips from top to bottom, working around the celery root. Quarter each one lengthwise and then, with a Japanese mandoline or knife, cut crosswise into thin slices.

Heat two large sauté pans over high heat until hot. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to each pan, then pull the pans off the heat and let the butter brown. Add one-quarter of the celery root to each pan and cook over medium heat for 1 minute, without stirring. Add one-quarter of the thyme and 1 garlic clove to each pan and cook, stirring from time to time, until the celery root is tender throughout, 9 to 10 minutes total cooking time. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drain the celery root on paper towels. Pour off  any excess fat from the pans (and remove any thyme); discard the garlic cloves. Repeat with the remaining celery root. Add the melted onions to one of the pans and cook to give them a little color, about 3 minutes. Drain the onions to remove excess fat, and return them to the pan. Add the celery root, stir to combine, and season with salt and pepper as needed. Increase the heat to high and swirl in 1/2 cup stock. Bring to a simmer, adding additional stock or water if needed to create a creamy dish. Transfer to a serving bowl.

SERVES 6

Melted Onions

8 cups sliced onions (about 3 large onions)
Kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick; 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 Sachet (page 342)
It’s difficult to overstate the power of this simple preparation.

Onions, aggressively flavored when raw, acquire a wonderful creamy sweetness when they’re cooked slowly, until they’re so tender they virtually melt into one another. They can be added to almost anything and make it better. Their sweetness will enhance soups and stews,[…]or at room temperature, they can top a[…]sandwich, be added to salads, or stirred into a sauce. Butter is added to these to make them very flavorful and creamy.

Put the onions in a large sauté pan, set over medium-low heat, sprinkle with 2 generous pinches of salt, and cook, stirring from time to time, for about 20 minutes, until the onions have released much of their liquid. Stir in the butter, add the sachet, cover with a parchment lid (see page 120), and cook slowly over low to medium-low heat for another 30 to 35 minutes. The onions should look creamy at all times; if the butter separates, or the pan looks dry before the onions are done, add a bit of cold water and stir well to re-emulsify the butter. The onions should be meltingly tender but not falling apart or mushy. Season to taste with salt. Once cooled, the onions can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

MAKES 2 CUPS

Risotto

May 9, 2010

Happy Mother’s Day!

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes to prepare when I have company. It doesn’t require too many ingredients, is relatively simple to make, and can be mostly cooked ahead of time and finished off at the last minute. It’s also filling and can be spectacularly flavorful. My favorite savory risotto recipe comes from Giada De Laurentiis. However, while she uses chicken stock, I swap it for vegetable broth. Her recipe can be found here. But aside from making savory risotto as an entrée, I also love making chocolate-orange risotto for dessert (not in the same night, of course). It’s creamy and luscious and you will definitely find yourself licking your spoon. It’s also a wonderful recipe if you haven’t figured out what to make your mom for dessert yet…

What You Need:
1 cup Arborio rice
2 tbsp. sugar
3 cups skim milk
2 tbsp. butter
5 oz. of semisweet or dark chocolate chopped finely
Zest of 1 orange

What To Do:
In a pot, melt butter and add the Arborio rice. Over medium-low heat, toast the rice for about 10 minutes. In another pot, whisk together the milk, sugar and orange zest. Heat the milk so that it is just below a simmer and then keep it on a low flame. When the rice is toasted, add one ladleful of the milk and stir the rice constantly. When the first ladleful has been absorbed, add a second and so forth until all the milk has been added to the rice. Stir constantly throughout this process (about 25 minutes). When you add the final ladleful of milk, add the chocolate and stir vigorously. Serve warm.

While risotto is, in my opinion, relatively easy to make, I have occasionally managed to undercook it.  It is something that is supposed to be just al dente and come together on the plate, to ensure that you don’t undercook, make sure that you toast the rice for a full 10 minutes before adding any liquid. If you are at the point where you are about to serve your rice and you don’t think that carry over cooking is going to make it perfectly al dente, then heat some additional liquid and add that into the rice by stirring it and incorporating it. Then put a lid on the pan and let it come up to temperature for a few minutes. Removed the lid and continue stirring until you have the right consistency.

My Latest Obsession

May 7, 2010

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Ever since I had the five-spice chocolate soup (read: hot chocolate in a bowl) at Café Fleuri, I’ve been obsessed with making and experimenting with five-spice at home. While the recipe below uses whole spices, you can certainly just buy the ground spices and mix it together in equal parts. Or better yet, just buy five-spice at your local Asian grocery store. So what do I use five-spice for? Ummm…what don’t I use it for? The beauty of this mix is that it complements both sweet and savory dishes, so I’ve been using it on just about everything: pancakes, oatmeal, fruit salad, stir-fry, sandwiches, noodles, sweet potato fries…you name it! Hey, don’t judge – I told you it was an obsession…

2 tbsp. Szechuan or black peppercorns
2 tbsp. whole cloves
2 tbsp. fennel seeds
4 small cinnamon sticks
6 star anise

1. Break up the cinnamon sticks into smaller pieces either by using a mortar and pestle or by placing them in a zip-top plastic bag and using something heavy (a can, a rolling pin, that meat tenderizer you’ve always wondered what to do with) to crush them.

2. Dry roast all of the ingredients in a pan over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until the spices become fragrant (about 5 minutes).

3. Grind the spices together in a coffee or spice grinder. You may want to do this in two batches to ensure you get a very fine powder.

4. Store in an airtight container.

Green Beans Over Bed of Quinoa

May 6, 2010

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This recipe looks complicated, but it’s actually super simple. It takes about 30 minutes to make and is packed with flavor. While I love green beans on their own, this recipe is great for those of you who think that vegetables are bland since its got a bit of salty, sweet, spicy and tangy. Best of all, it’s really healthy.

1 lb. green beans
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. vegetarian oyster sauce (or all in one sauce)
2 tbsp. apricot glaze (recipe at bottom)
1 cup green beans
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. olive oil
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

Soak quinoa in water for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then rinse under warm water using a sieve. While the quinoa is soaking, prepare the apricot glaze (see recipe below)

In a pot, bring the quinoa to a boil with the 1½ cups water. Simmer for about 15 minutes and ten let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork like you would do for couscous.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the green beans. Rinse and cut off the ends. Cut them in half or in thirds so they are easier to eat. In a pan over a medium flame, heat about a teaspoon of olive oil. After about a minute, add the green beans and sauté for about 3 minutes. Then add the soy sauce, apricot glaze and oyster sauce and stir for another 2 minutes. Add the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes (I like both since its different types of spice). Stir for about 30 seconds to a minute. Serve the green beans on a bed of quinoa.

To Make Apricot Glaze:
5-6 dried apricots
1/2 lemon
1 tsp. orange liqueur
1/4 cup water

Roughly chop the apricots. Bring the apricots to simmer in a small pot along with the water, orange liqueur and juice of half a lemon. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit for another 5 minutes. In a food processor, blend the apricots with the liquid until relatively smooth. I don’t like mine too smooth, so I can see flecks of apricot when I cook with it.

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Notes:
– You can use the leftover apricot glaze on ice cream or your morning toast.
– If you don’t want to make the glaze, you can just used apricot jam and add a little bit of lemon juice to it to cut the sweetness.

Springtime Salad

April 29, 2010

This simple salad brings together flavors from the wintertime root vegetables that are still in season with a taste of the citrusy goodness that is starting to come into season.  Here’s what you need:

2 beets
1 carrot
2 celery stalks
3 oranges
½ stalk of lemongrass or ½ lime
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Almond slivers for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Juice the three oranges and simmer in a small pot with lemongrass (or lime juice if you can’t find lemongrass) and cinnamon. Continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 2-3 tablespoons. The liquid should be a thick liquid. While the juice is simmering, shred the beets and the carrot into a bowl. Chop the celery and add to the bowl. Strain the juice to remove the lemongrass and toss the salad with the reduced juice. Add salt and pepper to taste and top with slivered almonds.

Tahini Noodles

November 12, 2009

Tahini used to be one of those misfit ingredients to me. I buy it to make fresh hummus – something that is exponentially superior to the supermarket selection. But afterwards, I used to be left an almost two-thirds full jar which would stare at me from the back of the refrigerator as if challenging me to figure out a use for it. One day, I took up the challenge and in my research, came upon a brilliant solution: tahini noodles! Though it sounds simple on the surface, the bitter flavor and thick, paste-like texture of tahini can complicate matters. Using this recipe from Vegan Yum Yum (which in turn is inspired by one from Coconut and Lime), I made my own version of this recipe.

Ingredients:

½ lb (1 box) whole wheat spaghetti

1 head broccoli

1-2 carrots

½  of a cucumber

5 scallions

8-10 mint large mint leaves (plus extra for garnish)

Black pepper to taste

For the Sauce:

½ cup tahini

3 tbsp tamari or low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp Chili Garlic sauce

1 inch knob of ginger, grated

1 orange, juiced

1 tsp honey

1 tsp sesame oil

I recommend using whole wheat noodles for this recipe because the nuttiness complements the nuttiness of tahini very well. The noodles should be cooked to al dente. While you wait for the water to boil, prepare the other ingredients. Cut the broccoli into small florets and blanche. Shred the carrots, thinly slice the cucumbers, slice the scallions, and julienne the mint. When the water is ready, toss the pasta in and prepare the sauce. All you need to do is whisk the ingredients for the sauce all together. When the pasta is done, drain and combine with the broccoli, carrots, scallion and mint. Pour half of the tahini sauce over and mix very well. Add more sauce to taste and serve the rest on the side. Add black pepper to taste and garnish with the cucumber slices and mint.

While you might notice many similarities to the Vegan Yum Yum recipe, there are a few deliberate distinctions that take the flavor to a new level – and most of them are in the sauce:

  • I’ve omitted the cauliflower since I find it to be a too mealy with such a thick sauce.
  • I’ve added fresh orange juice to the sauce. This might be the most important addition to the recipe. In addition to brightening all the flavors, the acid cuts through the heaviness of the tahini and the sweetness counterbalances the bitterness of the tahini and the saltiness of the tamari.
  • I’ve added ginger to my recipe, which adds a third level of spiciness on top of the chili sauce and the black pepper. I like my food spicy.
  • I recommend using Chili Garlic sauce since it adds the garlic element automatically. You can always use chili oil and add a little bit of garlic paste in. I just like the addition of a little garlic to the sauce because, well, who doesn’t like garlic?

This recipe will take tahini from that dreaded item on your grocery list to being one of your favorite secret ingredients that keep your friends guessing and begging for more!

Yum!

Monochromatic Summer Salad

August 26, 2009

I’ve always had a thing for monochromatic design. There’s something that is just so meditative and soothing about the seeming simplicity of it.  This summer salad is the perfect embodiment of  monochromatic art. The monotone color palate formed by the avocado, apple, cucumber and herbs serves to highlight the multidimensional flavor and texture. The tomato and red pepper mix add just the right burst of contrast in terms of color and flavor. And the entire thing takes less than 10 minutes to make. Since this salad is as much about the presentation as it is the flavor, I’m especially pleased to be able to post a beautiful photo of it, courtesy of Binita Patel Photography.

IMG_6701-1

Ingredients:

2 plum tomatoes

1 avocado

1 cucumber

1 green apple

juice of half a lime

1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard

8 leaves of mint chiffonade

1 tbsp chopped dill

salt, pepper and shichimi togarashi red pepper mix (or cayenne pepper) to taste.

Dice the tomatoes, avocado, cucumber and apple and add to your salad bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, Dijon mustard, rice vinegar, dill and mint. While you continue whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Pour dressing over the salad and add salt, pepper and red pepper mix to taste. Enjoy!

My Favorite Chocolate Treat

July 16, 2009

My name is Veggiewala and I’m a chocoholic. Obviously I’m not alone in this vice so I thought I’d share my absolute favorite chocolate treat with you. It’s called brigadeiro (brig-a-day-ro). During my sophomore year of college, whenever I was seriously stressed-out, my roommate would make me this luscious Brazilian chocolate candy. The dense, silky, fudge-like truffle would instantly put a smile on my face – because when you are eating brigadeiro, it’s almost impossible not to smile. While the recipe is pretty easy, it is also a bit labor intensive. The key to making it is to stir constantly for at least 15 minutes to get the right consistency (it should stick well to the back of a spoon). Your arm might get a bit sore but at least you know you are working off a tiny portion of the calories you are about to consume.

Brigadeiro

You will need:

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. milk (whichever kind you have at home)

2-3 tbsp. of chocolate drinking powder (I tend to have Nestlé on hand)

Chocolate sprinkles and sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together the butter, milk and chocolate drinking powder. Once you are sure there are no lumps, add the condensed milk and begin stirring. Keep stirring for about 15 minutes until you can start to see the bottom of the pan when you stir. Stirring is key so that it does not burn. Once it looks like you are done, pour the mixture into a very well greased baking pan. Let cool for 30 minutes to an hour until cool enough to handle.

Traditionally, at this stage, you would use well greased hands to roll the mixture into little balls and then roll them in chocolate sprinkles. I also like to roll mine in sweetened shredded coconut, though you can use anything you like (i.e. crushed nuts, cocoa powder, etc).  But, if you don’t want to go through all the trouble of presentation, just grab a spoon and dig in!

British High Tea Party: Part 3

June 1, 2009

BREAD PUDDING

The bread pudding is where, in my opinion, the entire menu becomes complete. It uses the crusts from all of the bread and the rest of the whipping cream and some simple readily-on-hand ingredients to make a fluffy and delicious bread pudding – which is still very much in keeping with the theme of British high tea. With the amount of bread crusts I had accumulated, I was able to make two casserole dishes of bread pudding. This recipe is based on one from MomsWhoThink, but I’ve doubled it and replaced the raisins with dried apricots. Also, you need a total of 4 cups of liquid, so I basically used the rest of the whipping cream and used milk I had on hand to replace the rest of the liquid. I keep skim milk at home, so that’s what I used. Also, the receipe on MomsWhoThink calls for an extra sauce to add on top. I skipped it and the pudding was still moist, perfectly sweet and had a great balance of flavor from the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Ingredients:

½ cup whipping cream (or whatever you have left from the scones)

3 ½ cups milk (whichever kind you have on hand)

1 stick butter (cut into slices)

1 ⅓ cups sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon nutmeg

6 cups (approx) bread crusts

6 eggs

¼ cup dried apricots diced

Special Hardware:

2 1.8L baking dishes*

*If your baking dish is slightly deeper, you will end up with a more moist bread pudding.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Use some of the butter to lightly grease the baking dishes, and then arrange the bread crusts into them. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk until just simmering. Add the butter and stir until melted. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Slowly add the milk mixture, only adding a little at a time at first to avoid curdling the eggs. Pour half of the egg and milk mixture over each baking dish filled with bread. Sprinkle half the apricots over the bread as well. You can use raisons or any other dried fruit if you like. I just prefer apricots. Bake 45-50 minutes. Let cool a few minutes, but serve warm.

TIPS ON SERVING TEA

While I highly enjoy a cup of good tea, I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an expert just yet. I tend to stick with more basic selections such as English breakfast or Earl Grey. So, to help me make the harrowing decision of what to serve at my party, I headed to McNulty’s Tea and Coffee Company in the West Village. Walking into the shop is a wondrous experience. The earthy aroma of tea and coffee is the first sense to hit you as try to take in the varieties of teas kept in clearly labeled clear jars and burlap sacks. While the variety can be a bit overwhelming, it is also most certainly impressive. And the friendly, knowledgeable staff will answer your questions, taking you from one jar or sack to the next, waiting while you smell each tea and make your decision.

For the party, I settled on Assam tea – a stronger full-bodied tea with a “malty” flavor. It is actually used in a variety of blends including English breakfast and Early Grey (though the distinguishing factor for the latter being the bergamot oil). Assam tea is pretty typical for a high tea. I also wanted to serve a milder and less well-known tea. For this, I was pointed toward Golden Nepal tea. It has somewhat fruity notes and is not over-powering. It also has a bright reddish-golden color when it is brewed.

Serving tea to a large group can be difficult to manage. I recommend investing in a set of tea mugs where each mug has a different color or pattern. That way, guest can easily identify their mugs. Also, in terms of logistics, this is what worked for me:

  1. Measure out about 6 mugs of water and pour into a large pot. Bring the water to a boil and then turn off the heat.
  2. Add the loose-leaf tea (about 1 heaping teaspoon per mug) and let sit for a few minutes and then pour into a serving jug, using a sieve during the transfer to remove all of the tea leaves.
  3. Heat the next pot of water over medium-low heat. This way you don’t have to wait so long when you are ready to make the next batch. You can do two pots /jugs at a time for the two varieties of tea. If you do this, make sure you can identify which jug is for which type of tea.

Remember to keep out some milk, sugar and lemon so your guests can decide how to make their own tea.

Since this post was a 3-parter, I won’t add much else, except to say Cheers!