Author Archives: amybisson

About amybisson

I taught second, third and fourth graders. Teaching was my passion and joy for 30 years. And it didn't hurt that they called me "mom" sometimes.

26 August 2017: Romesco Sauce

2017-Aug-26_FourNightsAWeek_1419Deborah Madison’s newest cookbook, In my kitchen is full of terrific vegetarian (and vegan) recipes. I’ve been a Deborah Madison cooking fan since Vegetarian cooking for everyone, and this book is, in my opinion, a great follow-up.

Sadly, I had never heard of Romesco sauce until this cookbook and a roasted cauliflower recipe calling for it.  As Deborah Madison explains in her notes, this sauce is versatile and can be used for everything from roasted potatoes and leeks to garlic rubbed toast.  In the years since Deborah first created this recipe, her preparations have changed from using fresh tomatoes and a mix of hazelnuts and almonds.  

 

Ingredients

  • 1 slice country-style white bread
  • Olive oil to fry the bread
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skins rubbed off as much as easily possible
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp group red chile OR red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste (or a bit more for tasting adjustment)
  • 1 TBSP chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp regular or smoked paprika
  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded (could use jarred)*
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup best olive oil

Method

  1. Fry the bread in olive oil until golden and crisp. When cool, grind it with the hazelnuts and garlic in a food processor until fairly fine.
  2. Add the ground chile (red pepper flakes), tomato paste, parsley, paprika, and bell peppers, and process until smooth.
  3. With the machine running, gradually pour in the vinegar and then the olive oil.
  4. Taste and make sure the sauce has plenty of piquancy and enough salt. If you feel it needs a little more tomato paste, add it no more than a teaspoon at a time.
  • * Here’s where Amy is telling you not wuss out on the roasted red peppers because roasting them in an oven is a snap.  Here’s how:  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Now clean and cut the peppers away from the stem and seeds (here’s a video from Serious Eats to show you how).  I usually wipe the insides and the skin side with olive oil. Cook skin sides down for 25 minutes. The outsides should have a nice char to it. Cool them and use. Way better than that vinegar-y bottled stuff that passes for roasted red peppers.
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15 August 2017: Roasted Carrot and Cumin Dressing

2017-Aug-15_FourNightsAWeek_1387While I can make a decent vinaigrette and a passable tahini dressing, I haven’t strayed far from the standards as far as gussy-ing up salads.  This, it turns out, has been an error of omission.  We eat some form of salad nearly every night, so branching out to new tastes was long overdue.

This dressing comes from one of my new favorite cookbooks, Thug Kitchen.  And, as usual with the Thugs, it is simple, plant-based and is entertaining. It also is really quite tasty – who knew roasted carrots made such a great dressing?!

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar (also suggested: rice wine vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TBSP orange juice
  • 2 TBSP olive oil

Method2017-Aug-15_FourNightsAWeek_1389

  1. Heat up your oven to 357 degrees F. Chop up your carrots into chunks no bigger than 1/2 inch. Toss them together with the oil, cumin, and salt. Roast them in a small pan, covered until the carrots are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
  2. Let the carrots cool for a minute then add them to a food processor with the rest of your $***. Blend it until it’s smooth. This could take as long as 3 minutes.

5 August 2017: Coconut Cornmeal Cake

2017-Aug-05_FourNightsAWeek_1356CAKE2Seriously, Thug Kitchen, this cake is the bomb.  As the Thugs say, “… save frosting for something that needs the help.” This does not.  And it didn’t need butter or eggs either.  Little bit of fresh fruit on top and we will be good to go for tonight’s dessert. If this makes it until then.  I have a feeling there will be some taste testing going on really soon. [Edited for  the delicate or children.]

From: Thug Kitchen LLC. Thug kitchen: Eat like you give a f*ck.  (2014). Emmaus, PA: Rodale. p.200.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

Method

  1. First, heat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grab an 8-inch cake pan, grease it, and dust it with flour to make sure your cake doesn’t stick. If you are still consumed with fear, cut a round out of parchment paper the same size as the pan and stick that in the bottom to be extra ——- sure your cake will come out in one piece. Now relax, you got this —-.
  2. Get a big bowl and whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a crater in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the coconut milk, vanilla, and lemon zest and stir it all up until there are no dry pockets and very few lumps.
  3. Pour that batter into your cake pan that you prepped earlier because you followed the g-d directions. Let somebody else lick the spoon and bowl because 1)The batter is tasty as —- and 2)They will now owe you one. Cash in that favor the next time you need help moving. You’re ——-welcome.
  4. Bake the cake until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then turn it out on to a wire rack to finish cooling until you’re ready for it.
  5. Serve cold or at room temperature.

 


11 June 2017: “Best” Pea Soup Recipe

2017-Jun-11_FourNightsAWeek_0910One of the best things about travel for me is getting ideas about ramping up our food game. Last week, we were in New York City and landed a reservation at Bar Boulud. The prix fixe for the night included a bowl of chilled pea soup which was simple, fresh, and stunning. And no, that’s not the wine talking! This recipe from Mark Bittman reaches back to when he wrote the Diners Journal for the NYTimes comes very close; the flavoring at Bar Boulud was rosemary infused, but either rosemary or tarragon as suggested in Mark Bittman’s recipe makes this a great summer-time soup to start off a meal, or on its own.

Our reason for traveling to NYC this time was to see the Irving Penn Centennial exhibit at the Metropolitan. If you have a chance to get to NY before the show closes on July 30, 2017, by all means go! It is an amazing and inspiring show of Penn’s personal projects and more commercial endeavors.

Possibly the Best Pea Soup – Mark Bittman, NYTimes

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced shallots
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound shelled fresh sweet peas (I used WFM frozen; not a fan of shelling peas)
  • 1/2 TBSP chopped fresh tarragon*
  • 1/2 TBSP salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • 1/4 cup half and half or light cream

*If adapting for Bar Boulud version, experiment with fresh rosemary here

Method

  1. Heat olive oil in soup pot. Add shallots and garlic and cook over medium heat until shallots are just wilted. Add 3 1/2 cups water, bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 1/2 hour.
  2. Add peas, tarragon, salt and pepper and bring back to boil. Turn down heat and let simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and let cook to room temperature. Puree in a blender in batches until very smooth. Force through fine sieve into clean pot, discarding small amount of pea skins left in sieve. (I used my handy stick blender and left the skins in. They were pulverized and added a bit of texture to the soup)
  3. Stir in half and half and add salt if necessary to taste. Can be reheated and served hot or chilled and served cold. (Top with a dollop of creme fraiche and chives if you want to fancy this up)

11 May 2017 Tomato and Roasted Cauliflower Curry with Paneer

2017-May-11_Fournightsaweek_0685Long ago, I received Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone as a gift. It became one of my essential go-to cookbooks. So I was particularly excited to hear about Deborah Madison’s new book In My Kitchen. Because this is a brand, new publication, I have not included the recipe – trust me, you will want to purchase this book.

This new cookbook is also an excellent source of vegetarian recipes and cooking. In writing the book, Deborah Madison explains that some of the included recipes have changed because it is easier to obtain “unusual” ingredients.

That was somewhat true tonight, as we sampled Tomato and Roasted Cauliflower Curry with Paneer. As a curry dish, some of the ingredients – ghee, gara2017-May-11_Fournightsaweek_0703m masala, paneer –  are found of course in Indian markets, but they also can often be picked up in regular food stores.

The end product was a warming, vegetarian curry based in tomato sauce. The
combination of spices, onions, garlic not only made for a delicious meat-free meal, it filled our home with a beautiful, spicy aroma.

 

 


17-April-2017 To Go Breakfast Bars

2017-Apr-17_FourNightsAWeek_0638_edited-1Last week I was reading a NY Times food article on the subject of vegetarian and vegan cooking (The Hippies Have Won). In the middle of the article, was a reference to a blog and cookbook series, Thug Kitchen. No kidding, this was one of the most fun cookbooks I ever browsed through and since all the recipes were plant-based, well… it was a win for me. If profanity is a hang-up, you might want to just follow the sanitized version below, but if you want some real kitchen coaching, buy the damn book, cook from it and learn to eat healthier.

Here’s the recipe for a strawberry version which was posted on Thug’s website. My version was based solely on what I had in the house to use up. I’m pretty sure the Thugs would be okay with that.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup uncooked millet
  • 1-1/4 cups chopped mixed nuts or seeds (I used all almonds)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or similar dried fruit (I used half dates and half ginger – not the sugary stuff)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (the real stuff, not corn syrup with maple flavoring)
  • 1/2 cup peanut or almond butter (I used Sunbutter)
  • 1/4 cup refined coconut oil or olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white or brown sugar (I used brownish – Florida crystals)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grab a 9×13 inch baking dish and line with with parchment so some of the paper goes over the edge of the pan.  (Seriously, my mother reads this, so I’m leaving out the “good parts”).
  2. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-low heat and add the oats, quinoa, and millet. Stir them all around until they start to smell toasted, about 3 minutes. While that is happening, combine the nuts and cranberries in a large bow. Pour in the all the toasted oat mix and the salt and mix together.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the maple syrup, peanut butter, oil, sugar and vanilla and warm until everything is melted. Make sure that the peanut butter is all mixed, and then remove from the heat. Pour this all over the dry mix and stir until everything is coated.
  4. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and press it down with a spoon (or a hand!) to even it out and make sure it is really in there. Throw it in the oven until it all looks toasted, 25-30 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature in the pan then throw it into the fridge. When it’s all nice and cold, cut into bars. They keep best in the fridge.

Now, go and buy the Official Cookbook and enjoy the ride and some great advice on plant-based.


10 April 2017: Mushroom Curry

2017-Apr-10_FourNightsAWeek_0619I love Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, really I do. And so, I when I came across a recipe on his website jamieoliver.com for Mushroom Curry, I decided to give it a whirl. I thought that navigating measurements in metric units would be my biggest challenge; however I have discovered that I don’t speak – and often don’t understand – the Queen’s English. Hob? Groundnut oil (according to Nigella Larson, that’s peanut oil)? 

The implementation of this recipe was a bit improvised. My local grocer did not have fenugreek or paneer. So I’ve left those out. What resulted was tasty if not true to the recipe which follows.

Ingredients

  • 500 g mixed mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5 cm piece of ginger
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2-1 fresh red chili
  • 500 g ripe mixed color tomatoes
  • ground nut oil (I cook with coconut oil so that’s what I used)
  • 1 tsp Tumeric
  • 1 tsp fenugreek (left that one out)
  • 1 heaped tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 heaped tsp medium curry powder
  • 1 TBSP mango chutney
  • 1 400 ml tin of coconut milk
  • 30 g paneer (left that out)
  • 400 g brown basmati rice
  • 2 limes
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F.
  2. Roughly cop some of the mushrooms, keeping the smaller ones whole and tearing up the rest. Tip into a large casserole dish and toast on the hob over a medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes until nutty and really golden. I interpreted this to mean toast in a large skillet (no oil) until the mushrooms are golden; no “hob” at this house.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the garlic, ginger and onion. Trim and finely slice the chili, then roughly chop the tomatoes.
  4. Add all of it to the pan except the tomatoes, then add 1 TBSP oil and all the spices. Toss for 2 minutes or until the spices are toasted and it’s smelling lovely, stirring continuously.
  5. Add the tomatoes, mango chutney, and coconut milk. Stir to combine and season well with sea salt and black pepper. At this point, I transferred what was in the skillet to a large casserole dish.
  6. Top with bits of paneer and place in the oven (no paneer so I just popped the casserole in the oven). Cook for 30 minutes or until all cooked through and gnarly.
  7. Meanwhile cook the rice according to package directions.
  8. Taste and season as required, adding a little lime juice as needed.
  9. Spoon the curry over the rice, then roughly chop the coriander leaves and scatter over the top. Cut the remaining lime into wedges for people to squeeze over the top.

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