levertovfan: (Default)
So I consume a lot of soup. It's generally noodle or quinoa soup that I make by heating up water and adding soup mix or bouillon cubes or Better Than Bouillon, sometimes sauteing garlic, ginger and/or onions in the bottom of the pot beforehand, then adding noodles or quinoa to the boiling water, then tofu or eggs, and finally fresh or frozen veggies and a dash of pepper. It's easy, quick, satisfying, and a good one portion meal for one person.

However, lately I've been noticing that all of the salt in pre-made broths or soup mixes is making me feel a bit "icky" (the technical term). I've been wanting to investigate making my own broth.. but not having a huge amount of space in my freezer, which I share, means I can't just boil up a big pot and freeze it. I'm also generally not a huge fan of the pre-made broths you can get in stores.

I was quite intrigued when I saw a recipe for borscht on salon.com that didn't require broth, only water. I wasn't in fact only intrigued by that, but also the fact that it called for two potatoes to be cooked in the water, taken out and mashed, and then returned to the pot. I made it three days ago, using golden beets for the color and an entire container of fresh dill, minus the stems. I also added in celery at the end to round out the taste and also shiitake mushroom tops, because I had them lying around. Curiously, the shiitake mushrooms didn't really change the flavor, although the celery was an addition that added some robustness. It made a huge pot of soup, so I froze half of it. It tasted pretty good the first day, but awesome the second. It definitely tapped into some sort of taste memory of the soup that I ate with my grandparents when we went out to Jewish delis when I was young and not yet vegetarian. Also, it would make a great party food: the ingredients cost probably only $20 at most (cabbage is cheap) for a dish that might feed 12, and along with some crusty bread and feta cheese, it makes a satisfying winter meal.

I looked at some other recipes for doukhobor borscht on the web, and one of them called for the tomatoes to be mashed with the mashed potatos before they are added in, which I think would be nice.

My next foray into pre-made-broth-less soups was my own variant of vegetarian pho. Yes, vegetarian pho is indeed a contradiction in terms, because pho is traditionally made with beef broth, but I looked up vegetarian pho on the internet and found out there are recipes. Pho generally calls for ginger root, cinnamon, star anise, and sometimes cloves. I made a two-meal pot by sauteing the chopped up bottom of three green onions with minced ginger root and chunks of carrots and celery. I added cinnamon, cloves, fennel instead of star anise because I didn't have any star anise, half a spoonful of mild curry purchased in an Indian grocery store, black pepper, salt, and a few flakes of crushed red pepper to the saute and stirred it around a bit with the veggies. Then I added water to the pot, added six large crimini mushrooms, brought it all to a boil, and added pho noodles, beet greens, and tofu. Not quite enough flavor to the broth, and spices sank to the bottom of the bowl so the bottom felt a bit dusty with spices, but it's all a work in progress. It was still a good, hearty portion of not-salty soup. Next time, I will likely add the celery in later, because by the time it was done with all of that cooking, it tasted washed out.
levertovfan: (Default)
And it only took me making 4 pies to get there...
Well, someone's got to do it.

Emily's Spiced Sweet Potato Custard Pie
2 cups worth of sweet potato
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs (or 2 complete eggs and 2 egg whites)
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons Brandy
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon of about equal parts ground nutmeg, cardamon, allspice, and turmeric (you could also use ground cloves, and/or omit the allspice)
1 graham cracker crust (I used pre-made)

1. Peel and cut up the raw sweet potato. Steam for 12-14 minutes. Let cool, at least for a few minutes.
2. Mash the sweet potato until smooth and then mix with the other ingredients until smooth. I used an immersion blender, mixing the sweet potato, sugar, egg and spices first, and then mixing in the liquid.
3. Pour mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then lower to 350 for 50 minutes or until a fork emerges clean.

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate Christmas.
levertovfan: (Default)
This is really hitting the spot at the start of this winter.

Olive oil
Chopped large onion or two small onions
One peeled celery root (AKA celeriac), thinly sliced and cut into pieces
One carrot, thinly sliced
3 large cloves garlic
Italian spices: I used oregano, marjoram, thyme, and basil
A few red pepper flakes
3 or 4 small jalapenos, sliced in half with 2/3rds of the seeds removed, cut into pieces
A veggie broth cube or veggie Better Than Bouillon
A can of kidney beans
A can of black beans
A scant cup tomato juice (although tomato sauce would also work, also a few tablespoons tomato paste and a bit more water)
[Other optional things I might add include potatoes, pre-cooked pasta, or radishes]

Heat up the olive oil. Saute the onions on low heat until they are mostly cooked, then add carrot, celery root, and garlic. Let saute for about seven minutes, periodically stirring. Add Italian spices and red pepper flakes. Saute for about two more minutes, stirring the spices around. Add veggie broth cube and enough water to just barely cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, add jalapenos, and simmer until the veggie broth has been absorbed. Drain and wash the beans, and then add to the mixture along with the tomato juice. Keep over heat for a few more minutes to blend the flavors.
levertovfan: (Default)
Squash and pumpkin (pumpkin being a variety of squash) tend to.. hem!.. temporarily incapacitate me, which is very sad, because I love the taste of pumpkin pie, as well as many other squash dishes. Historically, I have compensated for this by making persimmon custard pie. However, my persimmon custard pie did not work out terribly well this Thanksgiving, because my mother pressured me to use substandard Fuyu persimmons from her kitchen. This pie gave me the idea of using half sweet potato to half persimmon pulp in the pie to compensate for some of the extremes that substandard persimmons can sometimes exhibit. So tonight, I made a sweet potato-persimmon pie. I'd say it's an even better substitute in texture and taste for pumpkin than persimmon custard--my step-mother, who had real pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, even said that it tasted like pumpkin pie.

One store-bought graham cracker crust
1 egg
1 cup milk or half and half
3 normal spoonfuls of brown sugar
1 tbs cornstarch
1 large hachiya persimmon
1 cup of cooked sweet potato or yam
Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Quarter the persimmons and scoop the pulp out from the persimmon skin. Dissolve the cornstarch in the persimmon pulp. Add all of the rest of the raw ingredients and blend. Pour into the pie crust. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 and then reduce the heat to 350 and cook for 50 more minutes. Yum!
levertovfan: (Default)
I bought a lot of green beans at the farmer's market on Saturday because I was planning on bringing green beans and hummus to book club on Sunday. Unfortunately, I arrived after someone who bought hummus and pita, so very little of what I brought was eaten, leaving me with a heck of a lot of green beens that, to be perfectly honest, didn't taste like much of anything. Thus ensued a trip through all my cookbooks to find some sort of a recipe that would leave the green beans in less than their component parts because I didn't feel up to eating that many separate green bean entities on my own.

I found a recipe for green been puree in Fresh from the Garden by Paula Meyers. It called for the green beans to be boiled for twelve minutes before being pureed with dill, basil, or some other herb, a few pats of butter, and 1/4th cup yogurt. Then it called for flour to be cooked in corn oil until brown, and then the puree added it it and cooked, and then finally finished off with some Parmesan cheese. Well, I don't much like the taste of dill in large quantities, and I didn't want to do basil because I've done so much basil this summer, so instead I went to the supermarket and smelled herbs, trying to figure out what I would most like in this recipe. My conclusion: a medley of parsley, lemongrass, and cilantro. I used enough herbs that it tasted so good I decided to forgo adding the flour and oil or the Parmesan. More or less, the taste was a combination of the sour yogurt flavor and the herbs, and the green beans just served to add very mild tasting green vegetable mass. Excellent.
levertovfan: (Default)
1 cup of lentils
Vegetable broth cubes or loose vegetable broth to make a slightly more intense than usual 3 cups of broth
1 1/2 onions
A few tablespoons olive oil
1/2 head of celery
Mushrooms cut into small cubes(I used about half of a package of mushrooms, but I might use a whole package if I made this again)
One clove chopped garlic
Some small amount of tomato substance (I used chopped sundried tomatoes because that's what I had on hand, but you could certainly use a roma tomato or tomato paste)
A lot of powdered sage
Some powdered thyme
Some powered curry
A little more dried basil
A small handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped (I hadn't planned on buying parsley at the farmer's market yesterday, but this group of schoolchildren was getting passed up by other customers. The parsley turned out to be a very good flavor contribution.)
3 tablespoons (ish) of flour to thicken

1. Saute 1/4ish of an onion in a bit of olive oil until translucent. Use the time to chop the other ingredients.
2. Add in the cup of lentils and mix with the onions until coated in olive oil. Then add in three cups water and the broth. Bring to a boil, then let simmer.
3. In a wok or the largest pan you have, saute the rest of the onions and the celery for about ten minutes, or until the onions are mostly translucent.
4. Add mushrooms to the celery.
5. Add all of the spices except the parsley.
6. Add the tomato substance.
7. Wait until the lentils have been cooked to the point where they are well-cooked, but there is still some liquid left. This might entail turning off the burner for the celery mixture while the lentils cook. Then add the lentils and liquid to the celery mixture. Mix the lentils and celery.
8. Add in the chopped parsley.
9. Using a spoon, slowly sift the flour onto the top of the mixture (the key is not to add the flour in one big clump). Then mix the flour into the mixture.
10. If there is still any liquid left, let cook a little more, or if not, it's done.

Serve with mashed potatoes in a shepard's pie or with rice or some other grain. Tastes even better the second day.
levertovfan: (Default)
I read an article in the New York Times about Isa Moskowitz, a post-Punk vegan cook. Doing more research, I found this recipe for Mango Ginger Tofu. Doesn't it sound fabulous? Recording this in livejournal will ensure I come back to it when mango is cheaper/in season.
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