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Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

IMG_2094We all know I have a weak spot for cool cookbooks (my exploding bookshelf is a clear reminder!), and Bake and Destroy has totally gotten my attention. After that amazing french toast the other day, I started browsing the savory recipes to see what else was hiding in there. It is hard to resist decadent cookbooks with amazing pictures! Plus, with the weather getting cooler, I am really craving some fall comfort food! Therefore, last night, I decided to try making the Samosa Potpie. I never make Samosas; but Tibits, one of the few vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Switzerland, makes amazing ones. Since it is almost the season of apple pies, pumpkin pies and other favorites, I thought I would get my pie groove back. 

They key to making any type of pie crust is patience. So, put some nice music on and don’t rush magic! 

I found that the separate pie crust recipe was really simple and easy to handle. It called for half all purpose flour and half whole wheat, but I just used all whole wheat pastry flour. I like the taste of whole wheat better and I feel it is somewhat healthier! Instead of the shortening I used non hydrogenated margarine and it turned out super. It was really soft and easy to roll out, yet it was sturdy enough to easily be shaped into the pie pan without breaking apart or stretching infinitely. So far so good!

IMG_2095The filling was made of awesome things like potatoes  tomatoes, ginger, chiles, peas and spinach. What I didn’t like so much was the ‘cream’ made with margarine, flour, soy milk and curry. I felt like it kept too much of that ‘margariney’ taste. I think next time I will make it like I make béchamel sauce, only with curry added. 

All in all it turned out really great. The crust was nice and thin, crunchy and flaky. The inside was hardy and very creamy. Plus it really was very pretty to look at. Hubby totally loved it! The recipe makes enough for a 9inch pie, therefore we had enough leftovers for lunch. I feel like the pie was even better the day after! The flavors had really developed and the spice was more pronounced (something both the hubby and I like), sort of like vegetable curry.

I served it with a nice fresh side salad and it was awesome! This is definitely something I would confidently serve non-vegan guests. 

Anyone running out to buy the cookbook yet? Because I am warning you, I have some chocolate cookies in the oven that might push you over the edge! I feel like I will be cooking my way through this cookbook. It might be time I get myself a juicer to fast away all this craziness!

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For anyone who has ever visited Switzerland, you probably noticed that everything here is more expensive. Why? I don’t really know. But it irritates me. I know that I pay much for on groceries that an Italian living 20minutes away from me, or a German on the side of the German border, or a French on his side. So, recently I have been investigating options with my fiancé. We have called these ‘food missions’. Thankfully, we have a lot of Italian friends, and they were able to recommend the best places to find, not only the cheapest fruits and vegetables, but also the tastiest. This is how I found my current fruit and veggie man, Pietro! This is where he works out of, right at the exit of the highway, 5 minutes from the Swiss/Italian border. 

I know what you must be thinking, this girl is CRAZY! Yes, I may be crazy, but not because I go to Pietro. His strawberries are the most incredible I have ever tasted. You actually drive up to his stand and smell the wonderful aromas of perfectly ripe fruit. His mini melons from Sicily are to die for. You know how they tell you to sniff a melon to know if it is ripe and how much taste it will have? If you smell his, you will understand what a real melon must smell like. Not like those supermarket melons that barely have any perfume at all. So anyways, once a week fiancé and I go visit Pietro and buy fruit and veggies by the case! 5Euro the case! Incredible. In Switzerland you spend about the same for one of those little boxes of strawberries.

So depending on what I find there, I decide on my weekly menus. Last week, it was asparagus.

Sadly, we are coming to the very end of asparagus season. So I got myself a few last bunches to end it well. One of my favorite asparagus dishes is simple asparagus risotto. I was too shy to try and make my own risotto for a long time, because everyone claimed it was a complicated task. Having now made it part of my food repertoire, I no longer find it very complicated. Risotto is both perfect in the winter to warm you up, but also in the warmer months if you eat it at room temperature, or even as rice salad. Once you have cooked it a few different ways you will start to experiment and come up with wonderful dishes.

Ingredients

1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut in 2-inch pieces with tough stem ends cut off
5-6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 + 2 tablespoons oil
1 yellow onion
2 cups risotto rice like Carnaroli or Arborio. In my case I use local Ticino rice.
Salt and pepper, to taste
garnish of choice

What I find gives the best taste to the asparagus is to first bake them in olive oil for 10minutes. This will bring the entire dish to a different level compared to steamed, or boiled asparagus. 

So, preheat the oven to 220C (425F). Add the cut asparagus to a baking pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until asparagus is tender (but not soft) and has a nice roasted look. Set aside.

Let’s talk about the rice 2minutes. Using a bad quality rice like Uncle Ben’s just won’t do if you want to make a serious risotto. If you need to splurge a little, it should be on the rice. The best bet is to go to local italian shops and markets. They will have the best quality, traditional rices (they are also always great at giving tips on the cooking methods). My personal favorite is Carnaroli rice. It has short and fat little grains which hold their shape wonderfully and are of a higher starch content, therefore creating more creamy risottos. It is very easy to find here because it is from the northern part of Italy. If you find it hard to track down, a good quality Arborio rice will work wonderfully too. It is also of a higher starch contact, and therefor will help add that creaminess we need in risotto.

Enough of that now! Continuing with our recipe, it is now time to prepare the broth. Add the stock and the wine to a medium/large saucepan and heat up until it begins to simmer. Lower heat and keep at a constant slight simmer.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium to high heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Turn down the heat to medium and add the rice. Stir well into the onions and cook for about 2 minutes. The rice will become slightly translucent as it gets coated in oil. While gently stirring, add 1 cup of broth. I like to use a ladle for convenience. Once the stock has been absorbed, add another cup. Continue this and keep stirring gently until the rice begins to soften, about 20minutes. Add the roasted asparagus and more broth and stir. Adjust the amount of stock you add in the end to make sure you end up with a creamy risotto, not a runny one. It should hold its shape well. I also prefer to, like with my pasta, slightly undercook the rice. I like it ‘al dente’ and even a little less than that. It should remain a little bit firm to the bite, not become baby food. 
Once the risotto is creamy and the asparagus has heated through, remove from heat, season to taste, garnish and serve. 
Hope you enjoy one of my favorite dishes!
While I was wondering what I could do with the rest of the asparagus, a huge summer storm hit and the temperatures dropped like crazy! So I thought it would be a great idea to try a soup. I found an interesting recipe on the Vegan Table; the “Roasted Asparagus Soup with Thyme” p.64. I love using fresh herbs in my cooking because I have been taking a lot of care of my organic herb garden. This recipe was super simple to make and the result was great. Thyme and Asparagus would not have been a mixture I would have thought of. I like how she also first roasts the asparagus in the oven with some olive oil. It is a really comforting soup.
Off to make some cupcakes!

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Adventures with Tofu

First, let me tell you all, I am really not a huge tofu fan. Many people seem to think tofu is all we vegans eat; with a nut and a carrot here and there. Not really. I have tried a few tofu recipes, because I know how healthy it is for you, but I found the tofu to be delicious on the outside, but keep that weird taste on the inside, always. The only tofu I did like, was the silken one. I love adding it to my miso soup, and to my other soups too. 

When I found this recipe on Julie Hasson’s Vegan Diner, which called for crumbled/grated tofu, I got my courage together and set forth. 

The recipe was the Home-Style Loaf (p.120). I  used rehydrated TVP (which I am really liking so far) instead of the soy crumbles she calls for, because we don’t really have those here. I like how the tofu already played a less important role once mixed with the TVP and some delicious spices like mustard, poultry seasoning, parsley and ketchup. The process of making the loaf was super simple. I found it much like baking a cake; you add all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix, add to a cake pan and bake. By the time I was done with the loaf mix, it was already making my mouth water. So you can imagine how starved I was by the time the loaf was baked and the entire house smelled divine. 

I let it cool off and served it with some sautéed green beans and some baked potatoes. I can say that it was really very good. The only problem I had was slicing it. It didn’t hold it’s shape as well as I would have liked. But all in all it was great. NO WEIRD TOFU TASTE! The tofu brought a nice texture, but it had perfectly absorbed the various flavors. The ketchup on top also added a sweetness to it which was very pleasant. 

In two, we ate about 1/3 of he loaf pan. So today we decided to make sandwiches with some of the leftovers for lunch. We just toasted some of our favorite whole wheat bread, added some salad, some sliced cherry tomatoes, and some olive oil. It was the perfect lunch sandwich! 

I hope you all get to try this delicious recipe! I think even the more ‘tofu-phobic’ of you will enjoy it as much as I did.

TALK SOON!

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