Sunday, December 12, 2010

How To Roll Your Own...Stuffed Grape Leaves

Back in the day, I used to love to eat at Robert's Deli, a Lebanese joint on 9th South and about 1050 East, in the building that now houses a flyfishing equipment store (?!). When they closed, what I found myself craving and unable to find anywhere else in Salt Lake was the vegetarian stuffed grape leaves. Eventually I checked out just about every Lebanese cookbook at the main library trying to duplicate them, and I think I did it - or at least my memory has faded enough that I'm okay with the result!

Liz' Lebanese-Style Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves

The Ingredients:

1 32-oz. jar grape leaves, drained and rinsed
1 large onion, minced
2 tblspn. olive oil
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 1/4 c. short or medium-grain white rice
1 1/2 c. water
3.5 oz. sundried tomatoes, soaked for 10 minutes in hot water (reserve liquid, use as part of water called for above)
1/4 c. minced fresh parsley
Juice of 1 lemon

The Instructions:

1. Put minced onion and olive oil in a microwave-safe dish, cover with lid and cook for 5 minutes.

2. Remove from microwave and add spices, tomato paste, rice and water. Stir well.

3. Cover and microwave for 4 minutes. While cooking, mince sundried tomatoes.

4. Add minced tomatoes to rice mixture, stir well. You are now ready to stuff the leaves...

5. Line a pot with scrawny, torn reject leaves...

6. Pack in the stuffed leaf rolls. You want them to be snug. If you leave them too much room, the rice inside will expand, take on too much water, and be soggy-ish. You don't want that!

7. Weight down the leaves with a plate or lid, and a heat-resistant mug. Slowly add water to barely cover the rolled leaves.

8. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and gently continue boiling until nearly all of the water is absorbed. This should take about 40 minutes.

9. Put in a covered dish to cool. This will help "even out" the moisture levels - some rolls will be drier than others. Really, it is best to let them sit overnight in the fridge this way, but I rarely manage to plan that far ahead!

10. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm, with Lemon-Cucumber Sauce (see  recipe below).

Lemon-Cucumber Sauce:
1 cup plain soy yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into large chunks
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 cloves garlic, pressed

Put everything but the yogurt into a food processor and puree until mostly smooth, then stir into yogurt. (In a pinch, put it all in the blender, including the yogurt.) Let sit at least an hour before serving to let the flavors meld. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ecuadorian Quinoa Stew

Let's face it: I can't really follow a recipe to save my life. I think everything is better with more tomatoes and cilantro and cumin, so, there you have it! Also, I've been looking for more ways to use up the bag of Costco quinoa in my cupboard. Thus, I give you: Liz' Ecuadorian Quinoa Stew.

(Adapted from Moosewood Daily Special)

3/4 c. raw quinoa
1 tblspn olive oil
3 cups onions, chopped
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground black pepper

2 c. diced potato
1 1/2 c. chopped bell pepper

5 cups water
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup diced zucchini
2 tblspn lemon juice
2 tblspns minced cilantro

Rinse quinoa and let drain. Saute onions in olive oil with salt until translucent. Add spices and saute two minutes more. Add potatoes, peppers, water, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add zucchini and simmer for 15 more minutes, or until all veggies are done. Add lemon juice and cilantro, and serve. Top with crushed tortilla chips or green onions or cheese. Yummy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vegan Orange Cranberry Rolls

This is my go-to dessert/brunch dish these days. Because, really, is there anything better than bread fresh from the oven (especially if it is sugary)? Soooooooooo yummy...And bread is just so forgiving in general, it's perfect for those who hate to measure stuff, LOL. I'll attempt to recount vaguely accurate measurements...

Put in breadmaker pan in the order listed:

2 tsp. yeast
2 tblspn. sugar
1 c. soymilk, lukewarm
1/4 c. orange juice
1 tblspn. fresh orange zest
2 tblspn. softened Earth Balance margarine (can substitute olive oil)
4 c. all-purpose flour or "bread flour"
1 3/4 tsp. salt

Start breadmaker on "dough setting" and watch it for a minute. Add water or flour if necessary to get that perfect dough consistency - no flour remaining on sides, but not sloggishly wet either.

When the beep for adding raisins and whatnot goes off, add a cup of dried cranberries. This happens when my breadmaker has gone through one kneading and rising phase, at 55 minutes remaining. You can add the cranberries at the very beginning, but they tend to get rather pulverized into little bits if you do that.

After the dough is finished, roll into a rectangle approximately 16 x 10 inches. Spread 2 tablespoons of softened Earth Balance on dough, and evenly sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon orange zest on top. Roll tightly and pinch to seal edge. Cut into 1 inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Place in oiled cake pan, with edges of rolls barely touching. Cover with a towel and let rise until double in size, about 40 minutes.

Bake for 20 minutes at 375º, or until golden brown. Don't overcook them if you like em gooey!

For the frosting:
Mix together 2 tablespoons softened Earth Balance and 2 tsp. orange zest. Add 1 1/2 c. Powdered sugar to bowl. Add 2 tablespoons orange juice, a teaspoon at a time, mixing well until you get the consistency you like. Spread on mostly-cooled rolls and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Real Life Level Fiver!

So, I'm back in the kitchen when I overhear a conversation at the counter between Michelle and a male customer, 20-something, wearing a white knit beanie with what appears to be Hebrew lettering around the edge.

Customer: "What kind of soymilk do you have?"

Michelle: "Silk Unsweetened Organic."

Customer: "I don't drink Silk - it isn't really vegan. It's not Kosher vegan."

My ears prick up - I've been calling myself a "wannabe vegan" for almost a year now, because I've pretty much eliminated dairy and eggs in my home cooking. And I *LOVE* Silk brand soymilk products (I look forward to Silk Nog all year - I can attribute any extra holiday weight gain to that stuff, I tell ya.)

The customer proceeds to explain that Kosher restrictions are so much more rigorous than any other food standards, and that because the Silk has a "D" next to the Kosher symbol, there is a possibility that some dairy is allowed in the product. He said, "It might be one one-hundredth of a percent. I'd just rather not chance it."

I am really curious about that guy's hat. I hope it says "Level Five Vegan" in Hebrew, I really do...

p.s. My hubby went to the Silk website for me, and they claim that their products *are* vegan. After also perusing the kosher guideline descriptions, our theory is that perhaps one of the ingredients Silk uses is manufactured in a facility that also processes dairy. Even if the machinery is washed in between, that earns a "D" on the Kosher scale...

Monday, December 6, 2010

How do you say in Spanish, "Deep Frying is not the same as Roasting?"

In my quest for not-canned roasted green chiles for my Veggie Verde recipe, Russ and I went to the Rancho Market connected to the Latino Mall in West Valley yesterday.

A very helpful employee said he could roast some Anaheims for us while we waited. He had me put the amount I wanted in a bag, and proceeded to go behind a cafe counter to "roast" them for us. (Side note: I told him I wanted about 3 pounds. I filled a bag, and he weighed them. The amount I chose was EXACTLY three pounds. The guy was so impressed that he grabbed the produce stocker to witness my skillz. They were talking about me in Spanish. I have no idea what they were saying. Probably that I must be a Federal Weights and Measures Spy or something....)

Anyhoo, THIS was what he proceeded to tell the (female employee) do to the chiles....

Ummmmm. Yeah. And I just just watched them take fried chicken out of that vat of oil. I didn't know what to do. The skins did blister nicely, and they were easy to peel, after I soaked all the oil off of them with paper towels. So, I have three cups of diced green chiles in my fridge if anyone wants them!

"Don't judge me by the color of my skin!" a.k.a. Anthropological Field Notes from WVC

Yesterday, as I walked into his conversation with a heavily-accented Rancho Market employee, I was shocked to hear my (very white) husband saying, "Don't judge me by the color of my skin!"

The next words out of his mouth? "I *like* spicy foods!"

(Turns out, Russ couldn't help himself after the second time said employee made a remark about what kind of chiles "white people" like. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that the employee laughed when Russ said that...)


Our Great Weekend Multicultural Adventure began with a stop at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center for their Holiday Art Fair. Sampled raw chocolate bars. Looked at local art/craft work. Listened to a live choir (I think they were Vietnamese?). [Side note: This is my 'hood - I grew up less than a mile from the Center, but I'm pretty sure things weren't so awesomely diverse in the WVC back in the olden dayz...]

Our next stop was for some quick Pakistani food The Chaat House inside Qaderi Sweetz and Spicez, 3546 S. Redwood Road. Russ had a mixed veggie curry and I had pakoras. The Oiliest_Pakoras_Ever. This is why I don't eat here a lot - it's a once-in-a-while greasefest, but it tastes sooooo good!

Next we headed to Eastern Groceries, 1616 West 3500 South. This fascinating place sells clothes, kitchenware, and food from all over - Middle Eastern, Bosnian, Indian, African.  If you get there early enough, they supposedly have fresh-daily injeera. I've never been early enough. I did buy Turkish coffee and still-warm pita bread. The clerk clearly thought I was insane when I asked how to make Turkish coffee...Also, Russ says a man was glaring at him the whole time we were there, but I was much too distracted by the giant pile of Korans in Spanish to notice.

On my quest for roasted chiles for my Veggie Verde, the next day we went to the Latino Mall - Rancho Market, 2470 South Redwood Road. This is a fascinating place - imagine a food court with about 6 kinds of "Latino" food genres, with a few vendors sprinkled in, plus a dentist's office and an insurance agency. And a Rancho Market as the anchor for it all. If I weren't a wanna-be vegan, I would love exploring the food places here. Unfortunately, I think I may have inhaled lard just walking past them.

Just because I was fascinated by the strip mall in general, we also stopped in at Halal Nutrition and Ethnic Food, 3197 South Redwood Road. The most unusual feature of this small grocery was a section of bulk foods and spices, many of them labelled “organic” - not unlike the aisle you’d find at Whole Foods or Smith’s Marketplace. There’s a mini-restaurant on one side of the market, but it was closed when we were there. They also sell fresh injeera, but were sold is nice to know that there are backup injeera possibilities when my pals at African Restaurant and Mini-Mart are closed!

And you thought SLC was lacking in diversity. Ha! These were just a few of the places within a small radius - there are several more places I’ve been before and some I have intended to visit “someday” in the for my next set of culinary field trip notes!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My Karmic Biscotti Slap-down...

I love biscotti...but only if it is perfect, even before being dangerously soaked in my caffeinated elixir. The test is that first dry nibble. It has to be just right - crunchy, but not too hard to break with my front teeth.

Once I bought a pretty homemade biscotti at a local coffeeshop, and then discovered that the topping was FROSTING. I was ejected after I cried in outrage, "No, no, no, no NO! Frosting is not allowed on BISCOTTI!" (Not really, but I did almost cry.)

The only acceptable topper to a perfect biscotti is real, solid, chocolate. I will allow white chocolate, even though it is hardly chocolate at all...

So, karma, anyone? I'm trying to make biscotti for the Cafe.

This week's attempt was pretty good, if I do say so myself. The Cranberry White Chocolate Nut? Delicious! And Chocolate Candy Cane: brilliant holiday tie-in. And for the first two days, they passed the dry nibble test. Third day: too hard to bite comfortably with my front teeth. Boo!

If anyone has a recipe they swear by, or advice for me, will you please send it my way? I'll buy you a cuppa and let you taste-test the biscotti at Cafe Solstice for your trouble :-)

p.s. After I get a good run going, I am then going to try for vegan biscotti...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Spicy Long Weekend, Part Deux...

The only other thing I managed to accomplish over the Thanksgiving Break...making an apron. (This may shock some of you, for it is family legend that I nearly failed Home Ec. at Eisenhower Junior High over the pillowcase fiasco.) But once I get some idea stuck in my head, I tend to go for it so it doesn't torment me forever. (OCD, anyone?). This apron design was inspired by a t-shirt Erin saw on and described for me...and I'm planning to wear it all month!

A Spicy Long Weekend...(Get yer mind outta the gutter!)

So, on our snow day last week (Wednesday), I was making Tunisian Pumpkin Soup and had a big problem...I couldn't find the nutmeg. I looked in the spice cupboard and the spice bin in the other cupboard. I had to dump out the whole bin. You see, if you follow my advice for spices, you end up with lots of little bunches of baggies and whatnot, and I had ended up with a drawerful. This is what it looked like AFTER I threw away all of the spilled, ripped, mutilated, unrecognizable, and outdated ones:
In my world, there's a fine line between "motivated" and "manic" and this set me off somehow...let's go with "motivated" shall we? I went to my spice cupboard (what I believe is a re-purposed ironing board cupboard, yeah - that's how old this house is.) and proceeded to throw out and empty all of the woefully outdated seasonings. (There was a tin of oregano my grandma had given me in 1990, when she helped me gather a box of kitchen stuff for my first apartment...) After a bunch of washing and drying, this is what I ended with:

In the process of weeding and re-filling bottles, I discovered this phenomenon:

You'd think I was some kind of cardamom fanatic or something! Anyway, the final product...YAY!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"(Almost) Zero Point" Curried Tomato Soup

This one goes out to all my Weight-Watching friends and anyone else who needs to make up for holiday overindulgence...This is the best tasting super-low calorie soup I've come across so far. (Blows the WW "Zero Point Soup" out of the water!) I like to make some small pasta and add to the soup to bulk it up for those around me who need more calories or for myself if I need it...

2 tsp. olive oil
2 c. diced yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. cayenne
2 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tbspn. freshly zested orange peel
3 14.5-oz. cans of diced tomatoes
5 c. water
2 c. chopped bell pepper
2 c. chopped celery
1 1/2 tbspn. lemon juice

Put oil, onions and garlic in soup pot on low heat. Cover and gently saute until onions are soft, about 15 minutes, stirring often. Add spices and orange peel and saute for another minute or two, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil and add peppers and celery. Simmer until veggies are done, but not mushy. You want the celery to still have a little "crunch" to it. (While they are simmering, you can cook pasta in another pan, rinse with cold water and drain.) Add lemon juice to soup and serve by putting a scoop of pasta in the bottom of the soup bowl and ladling soup on top.


From Liz' Kitchen


visit the higher quality version at

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tunisian Pumpkin Soup with Spice Swirl

At the catering job/party last Friday night, I believe I promised someone this recipe. I'm sure that it had NOTHING to do with the great wine at the gig.. :-)

Tunisian Pumpkin Soup (modified from my favorite soup cookbook, Moosewood Daily Special)

3 c. chopped onions
2 tbspn. oil
2 c. sliced carrots
2 c. sliced parsnips
2 tsp. salt
6 c. water
1 c. apple juice (unsweetened)
1 c. tomato juice -OR- 3 tbspn. tomato paste
1 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. paprika
1 29-oz. can pumpkin

Saute onions in oil, with a sprinkle of salt, over medium-low heat until translucent. Add carrots, parsnips, and salt, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add water, apple and tomato juice and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer until veggies are soft. Remove from heat, add canned pumpkin and use my FAVORITE kitchen implement, an immersion blender, to puree the soup. (If you don't have one, well, get one! Or better yet, have your best friend buy you a red one for your birthday like me --Thanks Joanie! Or put the soup in a regular old blender, messy and boring...)

Now, for the magic part: the Spice Swirl...

3 tbspns. olive oil
1 tbspn. pressed or minced garlic
2 tbspn. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground caraway seeds
1/2 tsp. cayenne
3 tbspns. lemon juice
1/2 c. packed cilantro, stems and leaves
1/2 tsp. salt

Saute spices and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for approximately 2 minutes. Be careful not to scorch spices or brown garlic - just cook until bubbly, thick and fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Put cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and spice saute in a small food processor (or use the immersion blender!) and puree.

There ya go...Serve the soup with a spoonful or spice swirl on top. But keep it on the table because you WILL want to add more. Vegan, warm, and the spice swirl is just addicting! Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Catering is Hard Work!

We (Cafe Solstice) catered our first event, a womens clothing swap, on November 19th...Here's a pic of the spread:

On the menu:

Veggie Tray with Beet Hummus Royale
Sandwich Wraps - Hummus-Olive and Pesto-Cheese
Tunisian Pumpkin Soup
Garlic-Potato Soup
Farinata (Rustic Italian) Soup
Cheesy Herb Scones
Mayan Spice Brownies
Cherry-Chocolate Cookies

What I learned from this experience:
Catering is expensive for a reason. It's tough to make food for 30-ish, from planning (guessing) how much to make, to transporting it all to the event, to cleaning up afterwards! Also, women trying on clothes don't eat a lot. :-)

Here are a few more pictures for your enjoyment...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Veggie Stew

As a long-time vegetarian, I often get asked, "What do you do for Thanksgiving?" Some years we have done the whole vegan Tofurky spread, like this, our 2009 dinner:

Other years, we have eaten Indian food. As in, what Thanksgiving food would be if Columbus had actually found his way to India.

This year, I think I am going to make Three Sisters Stew in honor of all the awesome foods that the "New World" supplied...(where would we be without tomatoes, I ask you?!?)

(p.s. This soup is another good vehicle for "Magic Green Paste"!)

1 tbspn olive oil 

1 large yellow onion, chopped (~2 cups)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 butternut squash (peeled and cubed, ~5 cups)
1 small fresh jalapeño, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander5 cups water
2 cans undrained diced tomatoes (14.5 oz. cans)
1 can black beans, rinsed2 cups chopped red and /or green bell peppers
2 cups frozen corn kernels (10-ounce package, frozen)
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium heat and add onion, garlic and salt. Saute until onions are translucent. Peel, de-seed, and cube butternut into 1/2 inch cubes. (This is the hardest part. You need a large sharp chef's knife and patience...I usually chop the top half off and do it first, because it is so much more satisfying without the seed mess, lol.)

Add jalepeno and spices to oil and saute for about two minutes, being careful not to scorch the spices. Add squash and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add tomatoes, beans, and bell pepper. I like to use the immersion blender to pulverize the tomatoes first, mostly because I think it looks prettier that way. When peppers are just tender enough (10 minutes or so), add corn and cook for 3 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add a dollop of Magic Green Paste or sour cream or both, and enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Espresso and Self-Esteem

I am knee-deep in soup-making at 10 a.m. when the phone rings...
Thanks for calling Cafe Solstice, this is Liz speaking.
I'm looking for a coffee shop. That is open right now. Are you open?
Yes, we are open.
Do you have espresso?
Why, yes we do.
What kind of coffee, and what machine do you have?
We use Lavazza Tierra espresso, and let me go see what the machine is...It's a "La San Marco."
Oh good - a real espresso machine! Do you have a barista who knows how to use it?
Well. I guess by your laugh that you don't.
I have been trained, but I am open to any suggestions you might have for me.
So, what, you don't like coffee?
Actually, I love coffee.
You must not really, if you had to go look to see what kind of machine you use.
Well, my personal preference is a cup of French press.
Interesting. I'll be in soon to torture you.
I am recounting this conversation to Erin and Michelle moments later when the caller walks in. He grills the three of us collectively and after I answer a question correctly about crema, he says:

You could be a barista, but you need some confidence. You must have a self-esteem problem. There are stacks of books that can help with that issue. I used to be that way - but now I love myself! I think I’m great!

(Yeah, buddy...I bet you do!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Name Contest for "Magic Green Paste"

I had a moment of inspired experimenting in the cafe yesterday. The roots included a conversation about the Chow Truck's Cilantro-Chili Pesto*, the arrival of a bunch of beautiful home-grown Italian parsley from Erin's dad, and the memories of the two previous tastebud-popping recipes this week, The Tunisian Spice Swirl and Cilantro Chutney.

Here's what I made - not quite a spice swirl, not quite a chutney, not quite a pesto - but whatever you call it, it was a spicy kick topping the soup of the day (Spiced Butternut Squash Stew) and even delicious plain on brown rice (of course, I'm the one who ate cilantro chutney straight on Sunday, so who am I to judge?)

2 tsp. Olive oil
1/2 jalapeno, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbspn. fresh ground coriander 
1 tsp. salt

1 cup parsley leaves
2 cups coarsely chopped cilantro, stems and leaves
1 whole jalapeno, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice

Saute the minced garlic and jalapeno in the olive oil over medium heat in a small pan, for about two minutes. (Be careful to NOT brown the garlic.) Add the coriander and salt and saute for two minutes more, or until the mixture gets really thick and smells awesome - scientific, aren't I? And seriously, grind the coriander seeds right before you use them. They are definitely one of those spices that quickly loses its ooomph after grinding...

Set aside to cool, and move over to the food processor. Put parsley, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic and pepper in, and 1/2 the lemon juice. Puree, and scrape down sides, and puree some more, adding lemon juice to ease the trouble. Then, add more salt if needed, and there you go: addicting green spicy goodness!

"Magic green paste" just doesn't do it justice. A batch will go to the inventor of the best name - even if I have to overnight it in a cooler to Colorado (you know who you are)!

Eat well and often,

*If you haven't encountered the Chow Truck, you MUST!

** Here's a pic of the green paste in action: dolloped on the spiced squash stew...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Tale of Two Chile Verdes

I'll never forget the first time I ever made Chile Verde. We were having a cowboy-themed chili dinner for the volunteers at my work, and I was making the vegetarian option. I followed the recipe from Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons (see My Favorite Cookbooks) to the letter. I soaked navy beans overnight and cooked them for hours. I roasted three kinds of chili peppers on my barbecue grill. Husked and chopped fresh tomatillos...

I couldn't think of anything better than getting my boss to pay me to make chili, and to manage a party. It was awesome!

And the results were pretty amazing, too. At the end of the evening, I was excited to see about three cups of verde left in the bottom of the crockpot - since I hadn't stopped 'managing' or socializing long enough to eat any myself. Then my boss decided to be helpful cleaning up the kitchen. She scooped the verde into a container, and then poured the leftover beef chili ON TOP. I almost cried.

Anyway, I've never followed the recipe so meticulously since...but it's still damn good chili. I like to tell people it is award-winning. Because it is. It came in third place at the Utah Hispanic Democratic Caucus Chile Verde Cook-off a few years ago. I placed behind the organizer's father's entry and Peter Corroon's - but Peter's wife made his entry and she told me she liked mine better, ha ha!

So, here is the Liz' Veggie Verde "Shortcut Version"
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped finely
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 29-oz. can of white mexican style hominy, drained and rinsed well
2 15-oz. cans of small white beans, drained and rinsed well
2 7-oz. cans of diced roasted green chiles
2 fresh annaheims
1 fresh jalepeno, seeds removed
2 cups frozen corn
2 small zucchinis, chopped
1 28 oz. can of tomatillos
1 bunch of cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Fresh-ground black pepper to taste

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat about ten minutes. Add cans of hominy, beans, and chiles. Chop and add annaheims and jalepeno, if using. Add  just enough water to cover everything. Simmer about 45 minutes or until the hominy is edible :-) (The canned hominy has a chalky texture until it is cooked well enough.) Add corn and zucchini and cook until done, about five minutes (until they are no longer frozen and/or crunchy).

Put the cilantro, including stems, and tomatillos in a food processor or blender. (Adjust amount of cilantro according to your cilantro addiction.)

Add cilantro nectar, lime juice, salt and pepper. Stir well and serve with guacamole, sour cream, cheese and tortillas or tortilla chips

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Miracle Childhood Baby Food Trauma Reversal? You Decide...

I have an aversion to winter squash and pumpkin. Even pumpkin pie - no likee. (I know, I know.  I, too, am beginning to sense a theme in my posts already..."I used to be picky about this food and now I like it! Praise the Flying Spaghetti Monster, RAmen!")

I've thought about this particular pickiness, and I've decided that it is the similarity to baby food that turns me off. It's ridiculously deep-seated and irrational, but there it is. And often the flavorings in most, even savory, squash and pumpkin-based recipes don't help: mild and sweet rule the day. Yet I encounter squash and pumpkin soups all the time - other people must love them.

I arrive for my shift at the cafe yesterday and the soup of the day I'm to prepare? Tunisian Pumpkin Soup. Okay. I don't actually have to love everything I make, right?

The soup itself (from Moosewood Daily Special, see My Favorite Cookbooks) was the standard vegan pureed pumpkin soup. Not spectacular, but not nasty either. But then the MAGIC ingredient: The "Tunisian Spice Swirl" dolloped on top of the soup. HOLY TASTY, Batman! As a result of that flavor, I ate the soup for lunch AND dinner yesterday, and have been pondering other recipes that could use a dose of the swirl.

I don't have the exact recipe here at home, because my copy of the cookbook is happily in foster care at the cafe, but here's what went into the spice swirl:
Olive Oil
Minced Garlic
Fresh Ground Coriander Seed*
Fresh Ground Caraway Seed*
Cayenne Pepper
Fresh Cilantro
Lemon Juice

*PLEASE see My #1 Cooking Tip about spices!

Eat well and often,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thank Goodness: No More Pesky Vegans in My Soup!

Spotted on a package of Instant Miso Soup at one of my favorite places to shop, SouthEast Supermarket (see Where to Buy in SLC)...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Newsflash: I Can't Say "I Hate Beets" Anymore!

I have believed for over thirty years that beets are a scourge upon this earth. Ancient peoples would have been better off eating the dirt straight instead as far as I'm concerned.

Enter Erin (of Cafe Solstice) and her "Hummus Royale." It's simply her hummus recipe with beets substituted for garbanzo beans. And it's simply, ridiculously, delicious. I feel like the world has turned upside down. It's just not right! But it tastes too good to be wrong...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Cilantro Chutney That Rocks My World

I made homemade cilantro chutney for book club tonight (after buying frozen bake-yourself samosas from  Shop 'n' Go - a.k.a. the "Salt Lake Quik-E-Mart" -  at their new location on the corner of 300 South and 600 East.) I've never found a bottled or frozen chutney of any green variety that comes even close to the vibrant flavor of fresh. And I have a confession to make. When I got home, the kids stole the last samosas, and I was left with about two tablespoons of chutney. I ate it with a spoon. Plain. True story. It's just that good!

Since I love you, I'm going to share the recipe:

1/4 c. fresh lime juice (lemon will work as well)
1/4 c. water
1/4 lb. fresh cilantro stems and leaves, washed and coarsely chopped (~2 c. packed)
1/4 c. fresh or dried grated coconut (preferably unsweetened)
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp. finely chopped chili (jalepeño)
1 tsp. sugar (omit if coconut is sweetened)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Puree in food processor until mostly smooth!

(I owe this recipe to a very kind family who hosted me in Maryland when my friend Cinnamon was ordained a UU minister there in 2002.)

p.s. This post reminded me of that factoid about cilantro dislike being a genetic thing, so I decided to look for where I got that idea on the interwebs, and came up with this great article from the NY Times: Cilantro Haters, It’s Not Your Fault. This article provides a possible answer as to why I love cilantro now but hated it at first...YAY!

Peach Lavender Smoothie

I am ashamed to admit that after two months of employment at the cafe, I am still learning to make smoothies. As in, I nearly have a panic attack every time a customer orders one. So, I have to take a deep breath and tell myself to act confident, and to add an extra little scoop of ice (my smoothies have tended to come in undersized). On Thursday, a lovely older lady ordered a Peach-Lavender smoothie, which I had never made nor even tried before. I ended up with an extra half-cup (thanks, extra ice!), which I decided to try for myself. I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty it was.

Then I took out the lady's lunch plate and overheard her say to her companion, "This smoothie is great - I feel like I am taking a bubble bath!"

And from then on, my brain decided the lavender made the smoothie taste like soap. Damn!