Showing posts with label Vegetarian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vegetarian. Show all posts

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mung Bean Salad with Celery, Apple and Cashews

As news from Boston reach Switzerland I could not help but think of Oslo, July 2011. 2011 I went on holidays with my parents and two of my siblings, and for 2 weeks we toured Norway and Sweden in a camper. This was the first time in years that I went away with them, and all in all we had a really lovely time. Great weather, the two countries are beautiful and I enjoyed spending time with the family.

We started in Oslo, and returned on July 22, in the afternoon, for a night there before we were going to travel back home. Around 3 p.m. my little brother, my mother and I were dropped off in front of our hotel and my father and my sister went out to return our camper to a place outside of the city. Half an hour later there was an explosion, close enough and strong enough to make our building shake. There was smoke, a little fire, too, that we could see from our hotel room window.
For 30 minutes we tried to search for information about what had happened. We wished that it was just an accident, a gas tank that exploded, anything other than a planned attack. We turned on the TV, switching between different Norwegian channels until after what felt like an eternity different newspapers and channels started talking about a probable attack. 
At this point we tried to reach my father and sister, who we knew would be okay but who still had to get back into the city, and Michael, who knew we were supposed to be in Oslo that night.
Being there in Oslo, so close to the attack, even though we knew we were safe was really scary. When I hear of these attacks in the news, they do touch me, but only the experience in Oslo brought to my awareness that this could happen anywhere, anytime, and to me, too.
That night, we left the hotel to have something to eat, at the nearest place possible. It was there, over pizza, that we saw what heard of a shooting outside of Oslo. It took a while longer to news reaching us properly.

We left Oslo the next day. It rained like crazy, and I remember very clearly my father wanting to buy tickets for the tramway and the driver just letting us in, without a ticket. It felt so significant that day, as if he wanted to say that these things did not matter right at that moment. My sister and I then continued to travel to Stockholm and Kopenhagen on our way back home, we had planned our trip like that, but the only thing I could think of was that I wanted to be back home, and hug Michael.
In moments like this one, when you feel your mortality, and you realize that actually you are never truly safe, you just want to be with the people that matter the most to you.
But then life continues, and the shock of being close to such an attack wears off. We are not eternally grateful to have been save this time. Only when I hear of similar events do those feelings come back a little, and I try and hug the people I love a little thighter. I hope you and your families and friends are all safe. Not just this week.

And because we can't worry forever, I have a salad recipe I want to share with you. This is the kind of dinner I make for myself when I am alone at home. A single salad, if you will. Ideally, it feeds me twice. I used mung beans here, because I had those on hand and usually don't know what to do with them. They somehow taste a little fresher than lentils, a little grassy maybe. But if you don't have mung beans on hand, I'd suggest substituting equal parts Puy lentils for the beans. The apple and celery provide crunch and a little sweetness, and the roasted chashews make this salad taste almost as if there was cheese in it. Or maybe that is just me. But the cashews are really important in this salad, I would not leave them out. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and papper and a little lemon zest, and you got yourself a lovely dinner or lunch.

Monday, March 4, 2013

An Easy Belgian Endive Salad

In my parent's household, eating salad was a must.
I don't know how my mother did it with four kids, listening to us complaining about the salad we had to eat every single day, after we had already eaten lunch and there was this huge bowl of salad still to be eaten. Maybe once in a few months did my mother let us go without the salad, when she deemed a Chinese stir fry incompatible with salad. We were so happy about those days.
Summer was alright, and winter too, until I started to really dislike beet salad, and all the different bitter winter greens that were seasonal, but just not to my liking. Or to my siblings'.
My mother stuck with this habit for as long as I can remember, and maybe after 10 years she started to see the fruits of her labour. I think my sister and I started to complain less way before my brothers did. There was that time my little sister wanted to finish that huge bowl of by herself, when at the same time the two boys would still sit in front of their salad 15-20 minutes after they had started eating it.
And last year I could not help myself but laugh out loud when my littlest brother told me about summer camp, and how they were never served salad, and on their free day, he'd go to the nearest supermarket to buy one of those already washed/cut salad bowls, pour the dressing that comes with it on top and eat the salad he had missed.
One problem for all of us, the least for my sister, was the bitter salad we had to eat throughout all winter. Endive, napa cabbage, radicchio and all the other varieties that do grow in winter but are just too bitter to be really likeable. And even when we complained less about salad, those bitter greens never really appealed to me.

But this winter I found a way to prepare Belgian endive that makes me want to eat it by the head full, and not share it with anyone else. Caramelizing the endive counteracts the bitterness, but since some of the bitter flavor remains, you don't end up with a boringly sweet salad. Really, that stuff is addicting. In fact, when a friend came over who was really sceptical about the endive, I hoped to have more for myself and was quite disappointed when she made it clear that the leftovers cannot go onto my plate alone.
This is easy, and if you are not too fond of the winter salad either, you really should give this a try. (And I do hope I can convert you, too)

Caramelized Belgian Endive Salad, with an optional hazelnut crunch

Cut as many heads of Belgian endive in half. Do not remove the bottom part or else they will fall apart when cooking. Rub the cut side with a little sugar, maybe a tablespoon for 2 heads.
Heat a skillet over medium heat, a just a little oil. Place the endive cut side down in the skillet and let brown for a minute or so. Remove from heat once nicely browned, place cut side up on plates and drizzle with a little oil (I used pumpkin seed oil, and have used pistachio, which is insanely good but insanely expensive, but use anything slightly nutty)
Sprinkle a little salt on top, and maybe add a little balsamic vinegar if you like.

If you want to make the hazelnut crunch I have in the picture above, just coarsely chop a few hazelnuts, toast them in the skillet before caramelizing the endive, and add a teaspoon or so of maple syrup. Let it bubble up for a few seconds, then remove from skillet, wipe it out and proceed to make the caramelized endive.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Gruyère Gougères

Let me reassure you that if you ever find yourself in my home, my kitchen, I will net let you go hungry. I'll make you tea and scones and tea sandwiches, or a big pot of soup, hummus and pita and stuffed grape leaves, or these gougères that I made yesterday in my parents home for a few friends that had helped them out earlier this year.

I'll make you these gougères, which makes me sound like such an accomplished cook. But you'll see, I am actually quite nervous whenever I try something new, unlocking my phone for the 50th time to check what the recipe mentiones I really should be doing now, worrying what I probably am doing wrong just right this minute. I'll be stirring until my arms fall off, because Heidi mentions in her recipe that you need to stir, stir, stir. I'll wait anxiously, hunched in front of the oven to watch the gougères puff and brown, mildly freak out when I take the baking sheet out to give it a turn and the gougères immediatly deflate and calm my heart as I and they regain composure.

So I may freak out just a little bit as I make them, but I'll be so happy to have you here in my kitchen and to have made you something special.

Gruyère Gougères
A few notes: If you have a fancy oven like my parents, and not an old one like me, turn off the convection for these. I had it on for the first batch and found that the gougères on the back browned more quickly. As I turned the baking sheet, the gougères deflated. They did recover but not quite to their former glory. A little thyme in these would be lovely, but I had none on hand. The next time I would make them even smaller, reducing the baking time another 5-10 minutes, and try to make them into little balls instead of the oval shapes you get with the spoons. And really, they can deflate, but they are actually kind of easy to make - you really should give them a try and worry a lot less than I did.
Adapted from these gougères from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks

2/3 cup/ 160 ml beer
1/3 cup/ 80 ml milk
1 stick/ 113 g butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup/ 130 g  all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cup/ 90 g gruyere, grated, divided

Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, heat the beer, milk, butter and salt over medium heat, until the mixture start to bubble lightly. Turn the heat to low. Stir in the flour and stir vigorously until the dough comes together smoothly. Remove from heat and let cool down for 5 minutes or so, until you can work in the eggs without cooking them. Stir in the eggs, one at a time with a wooden spoon. (Your arm will feel like it is going to fall off, but you'll be fine ;)) The dough will look like it is never going to come together, but it will if you keep at it. Once you have incorporated the 4 eggs, stir in 80g/1 cup of the gruyère.
At this point, you can set the dough aside in the fridge, if you want to prepare it in advance. Or continue right away.
Using two tablespoons, spoon 1/2 teaspoons of dough onto the baking sheet. The gougères will spread quite a bit, so leave at least 1inch between each. Sprinkle with the remaining gruyère.
Place in the oven, bake for 5 minutes and then turn the heat down to 375°F/190°C. Bake for another 15 minutes or so, until the gougères are golden brown all around the edges.

Makes about 40 gougères.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Middle Eastern Lentil-Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

I wish I had a lovely story to tell you of how the recipe for these stuffed cabbage leaves came to me. A story of a grandmother who lovingly cooked this same dish for me whenever I went to visit her, or of a recipe written down on a napkin on holidays, then tucked into my wallet and carried home to recreate the memories of that trip. Or of how I discover my (imaginary) exotic roots and try to become acquainted with the life of my long lost ancestors.

But no, it came to me via the Vegetarian Times, the only food magazine I currently read and find in my mail box. Before Deb's post, and the magazine in my mailbox, I never really had stuffed cabbage leaves in a tomato sauce. Only once, shortly after Michael became a vegetarian and I searched non-pasta recipes to make, did I stuff cabbage leaves, back then with goat's cheese and honey. This was never quite forgotten, but somehow I never did get around to making it again. These stuffed cabbage leaves are a completely different thing. When the goat's cheese stuffed leaves were creamy and smooth and rather subtle, these are a little spicy and pungent. In fact, I might have over seasoned them a little, overcompensating for the somewhat under seasoned looking recipe. It did work out nicely with the plain rice I served them with, but if you are rather sensitive to spices you might want to use less of the cumin.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chickpea Wraps

I realized after writing my post on what I was going to make for Christmas that I never actually told you that I became a vegetarian this summer. Up to that point I did eat meat, although were rarely. The switch was really easy for me, but I did get a few strange reactions and the protein question. If you are not vegetarian you may not know what I mean, but if you are, my guess would be that you have to hear it over and over again, too.

But, what about protein? people ask. Oh well, sometimes I really have to keep myself together to not get annoyed, but I really try to be nice about it because I know you might have asked that same question a vegetarian before. I probably did, too. And I prefer to believe that people mean well.

I usually tell them that I know what I am doing, that they should not be concerned because protein does not just come from meat.

But I also realized that I had troubles eating enough protein throughout the day when I was away at university or work, and having to rely on the cafeteria there. I have started assembling a salad at the salad bar with at least on sort of legumes throw in, but I really don't want to eat the same thing every day, and my guess is that all you vegetarians out there feel the same about your daily lunches.
So starting today with this recipe for chickpea wraps, I want to start a new series of posts here, sharing recipes for vegetarian lunches throughout the next year.

Today's lunch is really easy to throw together. You can make the filling ahead of time, roll the wrap in the morning before going to work or assemble it at lunch just before eating.
Chickpeas are my favorite legume, and they pair really nicely with lemon and yogurt. Add some dill and celery and you have a really brightly flavored salad that wont leave you feel stuffed like the cafeteria meals you might have to endure, too.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Vegetarian Christmas

As you may have noticed, I am still absent, sitting in front of my computer, writing this thesis that seems to defeat me. I need to hand it in the week before Christmas, which means after that I really hope to be back and post regularly again.
I just wanted to pop in and tell you what I plan to make for my first Christmas as a vegetarian. In our family, me and my sister are the only ones who dont eat meat, and I am determined to make something great for the two of us.
I experimented with a vegetarian nut loaf once a few weeks ago, but found I still needed to change a few things. I just found this Jamie Oliver recipe on Pinterest, and went back to the magazine that I actually had bought last year. After my first attempt at this I already determined that 2 eggs and about 100g of cheese should be the right amount for this size of nut loaf. Seeing that Mr. Oliver agrees on these two measurements, I think I am going to use his recipe. Maybe add in a little mustard and half a cup of lentils to substitute some of the nuts.
As a starter my mother and I plan on making a salad accompanied with something like this cauliflower cake by Ottolenghi. I have made this before, and it turned out really great. I think I'll cut this recipe in half, I remember eating nothing but cauliflower cake for about a week after I made it the last time.
If you are looking for a few more ideas on what to make for a vegetarian Christmas, maybe I can direct you to a few other recipes that I have posted here over the last almost two years?

I really loved these legumes d'hiver au vin I posted earlier this year, they are a bit fancy but really easy to make.
This hummus feta souffle would make a lovely starter for the vegetarian in your family, or for everyone else, too.
Or maybe make these crunchy baked acorn squash slices?

Maybe I give the Jamie Oliver nut roast a try before Christmas, and if I do I'd certainly let you know how it turned out, but I just wanted to share it now so that you can decide to make it, too, if you are still looking for a great vegetarian recipe for Christmas.

So I hope to be back soon, until then I wish you lovely pre-Christmas weeks.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Green Bean Salad - A Winter Version

I know, technically we are still in Fall, and we can still get the bounty of Fall produce in the supermarket at the moment. I am still excited about butternut squash and Brussels sprouts. But looking ahead, I know there are going to be times lacking in the produce department. After weeks and weeks of mostly carrots and celery, I'll be wanting something different. So in the spirit of planning ahead, I already cooked a salad that I'll probably want to make at least every second day all winter long. You see, all winter long you can still get dried green beans in Swiss supermarkets.
Is is common to cook dried green beans in the US? For the first 22 years of my life I've only known them as a side to boiled potatoes and ham, I loved them but the rest of the meal not so much. Especially the potatoes, I really don't care about boiled potatoes.
But two years ago, in a local restaurant (Tibits, if anyone finds himself in this part of the world sometime) I had a salad of dried green beans, studded with walnuts and cilantro, that was so different and so good, I had to go home and make it myself the next day, a huge bowl full, just for myself.
I would have never thought of combining such a traditional, and somewhat boring, ingredient with cilantro, but once you try it, it just makes sense.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Jasmine Tea Muffins with White Chocolate

For the last few days I felt like I needed to unplug in the evening. When I lived alone, I did not mind spending the evening on the computer, being online and reading blog posts, but lately, with my boyfriend in the other room, the door half closed, it felt wrong. It felt so disconnected. So instead we went on a walk through the snow that fell last weekend. We watched a movie we wanted to see for quite some time. We sat in the kitchen and read. It felt right, being closer physically and emotionally.
I am still figuring out when to fit in blogging and reading now, perhaps lugging my laptop into the kitchen or his room when I do, to at least be less isolated.
Because while I feel the need to connect in real life, I also want to be here, to read what other bloggers create, to have some place to share what is on my mind and on my plate.

For now, let me share an adaption of one of the recipes I posted here about a year ago. I loved the Jasmine Tea Muffins I made then, but never tried them in a normal size version and so never updated the post from back then.
I adapted the recipe slightly, adding in a little xanthan gum since I usually find eggless muffins not quite sturdy enough. I happen to have it at home, but I guess it is not an ingredient you might have on hand, so you can just leave it out, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll Ups

When I was little I loved to go visit my grandmother. The whole family travelled by train to Basel, a journey that takes little more than an hour, but felt soo long back then. The best visits were when my grandmother picked us up at the train station. Me and my siblings wanted each to see her first, to run and leap into her arms first. We then would take the tram to her place, were she had already lovingly prepared the same thing every single time. Buttery roasted potatoes. A huge leg of lamb, roasted in the oven. And some snap peas she grew in her garden in spring and always cooked for me when I visited because she knew I loved them. These snap peas, they made me felt loved.
Back then I learnt unconsciously what I know now. We can show our love with food. Be it the cupcakes you make vegan or gluten-free to celebrate with a friend who would have had to go without or the batch of cookies you make to bring to a friend when you are invited for dinner. The dinner you make that is anything but spectacular, but shared.

I made these lasagna roll ups this week for lunch, for me and my boyfriend. They require a little time to make, maybe not the best fit for a weekday lunch. But still, they are easy to make, unfussy with a simple, classical pairing of squash, sage and hazelnuts. They are soft and sweet and crunchy and herby all in one bite. And they just look really lovely, something you'd serve someone you love. Go cook for someone you love this week. Make it something special. Or just share a simple meal together.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Indian Curry Pumpkin Soup

I have a hard time deciding on a favorite season. The freshness of spring, the bright green grass, the tender spring peas, the flowers, I just adore them. I am so excited for the first asparagus to arrive, the strawberries and peas. And then summer, with its lazy days and long vacations, tomatoes with olive oil and sea salt, skirts and sandals, baths and outdoor activities. And I can even find something lovely in the cold Swiss winters. I love the first snow of the season, walking on snow, a cold fogless day in the mountains, wearing scarves.
But every year, I seem to say, mid October, that Fall has to be my favorite season. My heart makes a little happy dance when I see the first pumpkins and squashes. I can start to drink tea again, wrap myself in a scarf or blanket, light candles, and get back into cooking. For while I love tomatoes with sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil and a few slices of mozzarella di buffala, they inspire little cooking.
So at the beginning of Fall, I carry home as much butternut squash and pumpkin as I can carry. 
When I started out making this soup, I actually planned on making a pumpkin curry with big chunks of pumpkin. What I did not account for was the pumpkin becoming all stringy in the process of cooking, so I decided to add a little broth and puree it.
The resulting soup is different enough from the pumpkin soup I normally make, the curry makes it somewhat spicy, which makes for a really warming soup. 

With fall comes the fact that it gets dark way too quickly to take shots of food in natural light. I think I need to go back to Debs answers on how she takes pictures of her food without natural light. How do you deal? Just cook earlier in the day?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Walnut "Meat"balls

Hi friends, it has been quiet around here for a little more than a month now, but I am back now, and have lots to share with you from my trip through Europe and Turkey.
If you wish, I can talk about our trip later, but for now, I am just happy to be back. And to be sharing a few of my instagram pictures from the trip.
This sounds so ungrateful, happy to be back, after such a great trip, seeing such an interesting country, and what can I say except that I am very grateful, and I enjoyed this trip a lot. And eventhough I am not one to get homesick, there are certain things I miss once I have been without a home for a while.

I think it is very human to seek the comfort of familiarity. We are creatures of comfort, and a month stuffed with new impressions and changing beds offers little space to just be.

So I loved eating out, trying all the Turkish food we did, and I did love the meze, but still, I really missed cooking. The only cooking we did in the whole month was just in the beginning, when we made a Greek salad in our hostel in Istanbul. And I am so happy to be able to cook again. To be making things, not just consuming. And I think I'll share some Turkish recipes in the future, but for the past week I craved something different.

These walnut balls are the first things I cooked after coming home that I think is worthy of sharing.
A while ago I turned from almost vegetarian to vegetarian for real, and ever since I feel the need to come up with recipes for things I no longer want to cook and eat.
I did not loads of meatballs before becoming vegetarian. When we both ate meat, my boyfriend and I made Moroccan inspired meatballs once or twice, with cinnamon and dates. I really loved those. But other than that, I dont have many fond memories attached to the consumation of meatballs, but I still do miss them. I miss the possibility of making meatballs when I want to.

This is where these walnut balls come in. I looked at a few recipes for vegetarian meatballs over the last weeks and months, and using nuts in them stuck with me. I kept the flavoring pretty simple this time, some mustard and parsley, a little paprika, salt and pepper. I plan to make them again, and then follow my memories of the Moroccan meatballs we made quite a while ago.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

French Onion Soup

First, let me start with telling you that I will be travelling again, so I wont be around here too often till October. Turkey is waiting for me, and I am really excited.
Secondly, I am currently reading An Everlasting Meal, and I guess many of you have heard of it or read it, too. Tamar Adler has such a beautiful voice on paper, and all I'd like to do after reading a chapter of her book is visit her and hug her (because you know, hugging people can express all kinds of emotions. I love to hug people) I planned to read it in the train or on the beach, but I just could not wait to start.

After reading a few pages all I wanted to do is visit a farmers market, buy lots of veggies and start roasting them. Our fridge is rather empty at the moment, in preparation of quite long absence, and so I did not find too many leftovers I could turn into new meals. I need to do this more, use every little bit of a vegetable, making vegetable stock, turning leftovers into fantastic meals.
But today, I found myself with little else than leftovers from my father's birthday party last weekend. Beside the white bean crostini, I also made crostini with goats cheese and onion confit. People love these, and unlike last year the were not hesitant to try them. Nonetheless we ended up with lots of leftover onion confit this year and I already thought about throwing it out, because there is only so much of it you can eat on slices of bread with a little cheese.

But inspired by Tamar Adler, I decided to make a French Onion Soup with the leftovers. If you do not have onion confit on hand, then this recipe is not for you. Though I can certainly recommend making a big batch of it and using it in grilled cheese sandwiches, on pizza, with pasta or many other things throughout the week.
But when you have the onion confit on hand, preparing this soup is a matter of minutes. I give aproximate measurements below, but it is really easy to throw together and you should not need any measuring spoons.

Monday, September 3, 2012

White Bean Crostini

I slept in today, and still I am really tired. I cooked the whole weekend, preparing food for my fathers birthday party. I made quite a few things, with the help of my boyfriend, but to be honest, I did not have the energy or time to photograph a thing. I really wanted to share more of what I cooked, but after standing in the kitchen for two days straight, and not sleeping much (because I still wanted to go to that other birthday party), I crushed into bed for a 20 minute nap once the guests were happily eating.I am okay with that. I enjoyed cooking for my father, and his guests. Watching my father and his family and friends and coworkers connect over the food I made, I knew that every minute spend in the preparation was a minute well spent.

Of the things we made, the one my boyfriend and I loved most were these white bean crosti
ni. I losely adapted them from a recipe out of the Mozza cookbook. The idea to pair a white bean puree with caramelized chicoree is theirs, but I did not follow the recipe for the white bean puree. Their version asks for lots of garlic, but mine is more mellow and subtle, only using lemon zest and olive oil, plus salt. I exceeded my garlic limit after making the garlic confit from the same cookbook, and really, I think the puree was better for it. As much as I love garlic, sometimes it can be a bit too much, and overpower other more sublte notes.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pistachio Cantuccini

My father's 50th birthday is coming up, and organizing and preparing the food for his party is my pleasure/task. I did the same last year for my mother, and it was great fun, but lots of work, too. I did not go the easiest route, and ended up spending nearly two days in the kitchen, preparing all sorts of appetizers.
My parents and I decided early on to keep the food mainly Italian, although we are not really strict about it, though you wont find Middle Eastern mezze on the table this Sunday. We are going to buy all sorts of cheeses and cured meat, and then I plan on making a variety of crostini, and a few other things.

Where we run into a problem was dessert. The problem is my parents fridge, to be exact. I don't know how many bottles of Prosecco are going to be stored in there, plus theres beer and maybe white wine, too.
This leaves little room for other things, which kind of makes choosing desserts difficult.
One of the things I already prepared for Sunday are these Pistachio Cantuccini. They are Italian, can be kept at room temperature and are quite easy to prepare. And they should appeal to all those coffee drinking folks my father invited.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Yellow Bean Salad with Fennel and Celery

I love to go to the farmers market on Saturday morning. I say that now that I went today, but I don't want you to live with the impression that I go to the farmers market every Saturday.
I would love to be that person, always buying her produce at the same market stand, with the farmer knowing my name and all. But the farmers market conflicts with my sleeping in, and so I don't go too often. I haven't been in quite a while, and when they had plenty of cherries the last time I went, there were none to be seen today. There were grapes instead, but I missed the cherries. I did not buy enough of them while they were here.

So I love to go to the farmers market, and when I do I buy whatever looks best at the market. Today I bought yellow beans (they were called butterbeans) and a few small bulbs of fennel. And bags full of fruit, and tomatos, but these were not featured in this salad.

Lunch on these Saturdays then simply consists of a salad. A simple salad of lots of fresh vegetables, raw or only slightly cooked. I love those saturdays.
I bought these butterbeans at the market because they looked so lovely and creamy, and because of the name. Something called butterbeans sure has to taste great, right? I bought the fennel to accompany the beans in a salad, and only saw back home that Deb from smitten kitchen has shared a quite similar salad before.