Sunday, August 16, 2020

Charred broccoli rabe, lemon, and faux sausage tossed with pasta

Broccoli rabe (also known as broccolini or rapini) is an absolute treat out of the early summer garden. I came up with this recipe a few months ago when we were harvesting it like crazy. It is an attempt to make something of a vegetarian Carbonara that incorporates our bounty of broccoli rabe, as well as a couple vegan sausages we had to use up. 

This does call for a specialty gadget: a rasp grater or Microplane. Don't be a loser and buy pre-grated parmesan cheese or cut a corner and try to grate this with something else. Take the $16 hit and buy one of these if you don't already have one. It makes an incredible tool for citrus zests, hard cheeses, chocolate, and frozen garlic for a variety of applications. I'm seriously watching you. DO NOT disappoint me the way you have already done with your parents!

Prep time: 2 cocktails

12 ounces bow tie (frfalle) or penne pasta

2 high-quality spicy Italian vegetarian sausages (like Beyond brand)

1-2 TBSP high-temperature cooking oil, like canola or avacado

2 grocery store bunches-worth of broccoli rabe, each piece cut into 2-3 more edible sizes

10 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lemon

4 eggs -- 2 whole eggs and 2 yolks only whisked in a small bowl

1 cup of fresh grated Parmesan with a microplane (I'm still watching you), plus extra for serving

Salt and pepper

Minced parsley and red chili flakes for garnish

Prepare pasta and rinse and set aside. Cook sausage in stovetop over medium heat until nicely browned. Remove and cut into 1/2" thick wheels.

Put oil into a frying pan over high heat. Once your pan gets very hot, add the broccoli rabe. The point here is to basically blacken parts of it, so make sure your pan is hot before adding. Fry it a few minutes until your desired amount of char is achieved, then turn off heat and stir in garlic. Saute another minute or until the garlic turns a bit golden but not browned or burned, then squeeze the lemon juice over the broccoli rabe and stir one last time. Transfer broccoli rabe and garlic to a plate. 

In a medium or large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the cooked and drained pasta over medium heat until it is nice and ward. Toss in a tiny dash of olive oil if it is sticking badly. Once pasta is nice and hot, add the egg and Parmesan, plus a lot of salt and pepper to taste. The goal is to have the egg cook just enough to have a creamy sauce-like consistency that sticks to the pasta but has a nice velvety texture and isn't fully cooked. This usually only takes a minute--maybe less. Once you're about at this point stir in broccoli rabe and remove from heat. Serve right away with additional parmesan, parsley, and chili flakes on top. 

Hot giardiniera - summer perfection in a jar

For those of you who are lucky enough to live near a Snarf's Sandwiches, you know and love their giardiniera. I don't mean you might like their giardiniera or you have tried and probably enjoyed it.  To be human is to love Snarf's giardiniera. That's all there is to it. Hungover? A Veggie with everything and extra giardiniera will cure you. Heartbroken? That definetly calls for a meatball or eggplant parm sandwich loaded with giardiniera. Fussy kids? They'll shut the hell up and eat the shit outta a grilled cheese with a smattering of giardiniera and likely remember that sandwich well into their old age. Guarnteed.

So with this recipe, I've attempted to replicate Snarf's famous giardiniera. I made this recipe with the intention of being good on pizza or sandwiches, but we had it the other night on top of grilled homemade sourdough that was brushed with olive oil and topped with a few thin shavings of Pecorino Picante. It was a transcendent experience and only took a few minutes to make.

Prep time: 1 cocktail

1/4 cup salt

Vegetable mix:

1/2 cup finely diced carrots

2-3 stalks celery, sliced

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

15 or so jalapenos, serranos, fresno chilies or a mix thereof, sliced into wheels

1/4 cup diced onion


1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 cup canola oil

1/2 cup cheap jarred Spanish green olives (even the kind with pimentos is fine), minced (optional)

1 TBSP oregeno

1 tsp pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

*Chef's note - depending on what you are wanting to use this for you may want to adjust the ratio of vinegar and oil in the marinade. The above is fairly neutral and is great for the grilled bread I mentioned or something else where you don't want too much tang. But for sandwiches or pizza (and this includes Snarf's recipe), you'll want to increase your vinegars by 25-50% and reduce your oil the same amount.

Combine salt with 1 quart hot water and whisk until dissolved. Place veggie mixture into a Tupperware or mixing bowl. Pour salt water over veggies and make sure they are fully submerged. Place in the refrigerator 8-12 hours.

Drain veggie mixture and rinse very very well. 

In a small mixing bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and whisk well. 

Transfer veggie mixture to a 1-quart mason and add marinade. Make sure the veggies are fully covered or else they can spoil. Transfer to the refrigerator. Refrigerate at least 2 days before eating, though this is best after a week. Stays good in the refrigerator 2-4 weeks.

Tempeh bacon - the key to a successful vegetarian BLT


It's the height of summer garden season. Our first heirloom tomatoes are ripe and we're eating out of the garden every meal. We decided to put our inaugural tomatoes to use this year in TLTs (tempeh, lettuce, tomato, with of course a healthy does of mayonnaise and avocado).

Prep time: 1/2 cocktail (plus marinating time)

1 8-ounce package tempeh, cut into bacon-thickness strips of about 1/8 inch (along the shorter side of the block)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1-2 TBSP agave nectar

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

2 TBSP liquid smoke

1/2 cup soy sauce

2-3 TBSP neutral oil like canola or avocado for frying

After you've sliced the tempeh, combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Take a baking sheet with a rim and pour this marinade in then gently lay the tempeh in the pan in a single layer. P\Let the tempeh marinate at least an hour, periodically swirling the liquid around so it has plenty of chance to saturate through the top of your strips too (or use a pastry brush to brush the top). 

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. When it shimmers, gently transfer the strips to the pan and fry in a single layer, flipping after a few minutes once the bottom browns. Transfer to a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Now build that delicious TLT!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Vegan Jambalaya Jubilee!

I've never been a fan of vegetarian or vegan jambalaya. Even as a nearly-lifelong vegetarian, I fully appreciate that there are a few things out there that cannot be effectively replicated without meat. A decent burger, my mom's porcupine meatball recipe, and jambalaya are a few examples of foods I've missed since ditching meat when I was 13 or so. But that's all changing with really decent fake meats now on the market. Beyond and Impossible have really made the last few carnivorous recipes that were previously missing in my life now within reach. Between the faux sausage and some saffron offering a wonderful shrimp-ish umami, this is the bast damn meatless jambalaya I've had -- by far!

5 TBSP canola or avocado oil, divided
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 green or red bell pepper, chopped
1 pinch saffron
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
6 cloves garlic minced
2 TBSP Tabasco sauce
3 1/2 cups veggie stock, store bought or homemade
2 tsp Maggi or browning sauce
1 1/2 cup parboiled rice
10 oz faux chicken breast strips
3 spicy Beyond sausages, sliced into ~1/2 inch half moons
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and cut up a bit, optional
Worcestershire sauce, optional

Heat 3 TBSP oil over medium heat in a large saute pan or dutch oven that has a lid. Once hot, add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the veggies get fairly well caramelized (but not burned), about 20 minutes.

While the veggies are cooking, boil a small amount of water. Add a few TBSP of this water to the saffron in a small bowl and let it steep.

Once the veggies are a little caramelized, add the cumin, Cajun seasoning,  paprika, black pepper, and garlic. Saute 2 more minutes, stirring often.

Now add saffron and the steeping water, Tabasco sauce, stock, and Magi/browning sauce. Bring to a boil, then add rice, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

While rice is cooking, add the remaining 2 TBSP oil to a large frying pan on medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, Add the faux chicken and sausage. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the cheat meat is browned in spots and fragrant, but not burned.

Now, back to the rice: once it is done, stir/fluff with a fork and taste. Adjust spices, salt, and/or add Worcestershire sauce to taste. Stir in artichokes (if you're using) as well.

Right before you serve, toss the rice with the meats. Eat and enjoy your delightful meatless meaty dinner!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Vegan Cesar dressing

Prep time: 1/2 cocktail

1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 anchovy filets or 2 TBSP vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 TBSP nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP lemon juice
Several big grinds black pepper
2 TBSP water
1/4 cup neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
Romaine lettuce

Combine everything in food processor or blender and puree until smooth. If you want to thicken the dressing, add a few extra cashews and if you want it a little less thick, add a splash or two of water. Also, adjust lemon and salt to taste. Toss with romaine lettuce and top with croutons and (optional) a bit of regular or vegan Parmesan and a few grinds of pepper.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Wild rice and mushroom pilaf

This recipe is about making marriages happy. You see, I hate mushrooms. My wife hates rice. So obviously, a dish that is made mostly of mushrooms and rice is bound to make nobody happy in our home, right? Well that's what I thought too. So I waited until Thanksgiving to make this so we could pawn the leftovers off onto our friends once the missus and I agreed that it was not our cup of culinary tea. But then something beautiful happened: I found a mushroom dish I love and she agrees that this is the first time she's ever savored a rice dish. The key, obviously, is a lot of butter, bringing out complementary flavors with thyme and sherry, and (possibly) the several cocktails we drank before dinner. But in the end, we kept 100 percent of the leftovers and voraciously wolfed them down over the next few days, while our friends were sent home with mushy potatoes and overly crumbly stuffing. We won.

So you don't actually have to use wild mushrooms--store-bought will do just fine too. Either way, mixing it up with a couple different varieties will definitely add complexity. I also just added 12 ounces because I was afraid of this dish being too mushroom-ee. But even speaking as somebody who normally steers clear of fungi, this could have certainly been increased. And if you love mushrooms, you could probably double the toadstool quotient and be quite happy.

I've read that Wisconsin wild rice is desirable because the growing and harvesting regulations are more controlled (and thus sustainable) there. Some folks even claim the rice tastes better. However, I have so far been unable to track down anything that was explicitly labeled as such here in Boulder. So I go with what's on hand. But certainly grab the real thing if you can.

Prep time: 2 cocktails

6 TBSP butter
1 medium leek, white portion only, rinsed well and chopped
12 ounces mixed fresh mushrooms, such as white button, shiitake, morel and wood ear, brushed clean, sliced
2 cups wild rice, rinsed and drained (use only wild rice, not a blend)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus additional for garnishing
8 sprigs fresh thyme
½ cup pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2/3 cup dry cooking sherry, (do not use cream or sweet sherry)

Bring 8 cups water to a boil. Stir in rice, then reduce heat so liquid is just simmering. Cover and cook until rice grains puff up and the inner, lighter part is visible, about 40 minutes. Drain excess liquid from rice and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leek and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have released their liquid and are mushrooms are darkening and have mostly cooked all their moisture out and are sticking a little to the pan. Deglaze with sherry and add thyme. And cook the sherry almost completely off.

Now, to the mushroom mixture, add the wild rice, pine nuts, parsley, salt, pepper to taste. Cook for another minute or so.

Stir in thyme and pine nuts and garnish with some additional parsley, and transfer the pilaf to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Vegan Cassoulet (yes, you read that correctly)

Prep time: 3 cocktails

1 pound flagoulet, navy, or other small to medium white beans
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, finely chopped
2-3 ribs celery, finely chopped
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, pulsed in food processor into 1/8 inch bits (about 8-10 pulses)
12-15 cloves garlic, minced
1 oz dried mushrooms, ground into a slightly coarse/chunky powder
5 cups homemade veggie broth
1.5 cups red wine
3 TBSP soy sauce (fish sauce is also great)
1.5 tsp liquid smoke
6 Bay leaves
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 whole cloves
Salt and pepper to taste (usually about 2.5 tsp tsp salt)
¼ cup Italian parsley, minced

Soak beans overnight. Rinse well and drain.

In a large, oven-safe dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat and add onions, carrot, and celery. Saute until starts to turn translucent to a little golden, about 12 minutes. Add fresh mushroom bits and garlic. Saute until liquid is mostly cooked off and bits are sticking to pan (but not burned), about 15 minutes, while scraping the stuck-on bits occasionally with a metal or wooden spatula. Add dried mushroom powder and cook another 6 or so minutes, while also completely scraping the browning bits on the bottom of the pan every 30 seconds or so using your spatula. Let the mixture cook and brown to the bottom one last minute without scraping.

(Note that these browned--but not burned!--bits that you scrape off the bottom of the pan give the cassoulet the majority of the flavor. So, extend the process of scraping and stirring even longer, if it seems as though you can)

Deglaze (unstick the delicious browned bits at the bottom of the pan) mushroom mixture with wine, soy sauce, and liquid smoke. Bring to boil. Now add veggie stock, drained beans, bay leaves, thyme, cloves, rosemary and bring to a boil and cook until beans are soft and excess liquid has cooked off (adding water, if necessary).

Now, preheat oven to broil.

Fish out thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and rosemary.

Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in Italian parsley. Toss bread crumbs with a little olive oil and sprinkle top of cassoulet. Put it all in the oven and broil until bread crumbs brown (but don’t burn!).

Friday, November 9, 2018

Vegetarian Meatloaf

1 1/2 cups veggie stock, store-bought or homemade
2/3 cup brown lentils
1/2 cup TVP
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, chopped up a bit
4 TBSP butter or a vegan substitute
1 onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup raw cashews
2 cups bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup ketchup + more for topping and serving
1/4 cup barbecue sauce (homemade is best) + more for topping and serving
2 eggs (or egg substitutes like ground flax and water)
2 TBSP dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
A couple handfuls of grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 325F.

Bring the stock to a boil and add lentils. Cook until lentils are soft, adding more stock or water if necessary. Once lentils are fully cooked, simmer off any excess moisture. Remove from heat and mash lentils with potato masher.

While your lentils cook, bring a couple cups of water to a boil in a small pan.Once boiling, add TVP and and remove from heat. Let sit 5 minutes, then strain TVP and it set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the mushrooms until they are finely minced.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Then add mushrooms and cook until they turn a shade darker and release some of their juices, about 4 minutes. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper and saute until they become nice and tender, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, saute a couple more minutes then transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl.

In your food process now process cashews into fine little pieces.

Add lentils, TVP, and cashews to the veggie mix in the mixing bowl, as well as bread crumbs, cumin, cilantro, ketchup, BBQ sauce, eggs/egg substitute, and Dijon. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste (I usually have to add at least a teaspoon of salt and a good amount of pepper).

Spray a medium-sized loaf pan with cooking spray and transfer the mixture into the pan. Mold it into a meatloaf shape and make sure there's a small gap between the edge of the pan and the loaf so that when you add cheese and additional sauce later, it won't all dribble over the edges of the pan and make a mess.

Bake, uncovered, for 50 minutes, or until the top starts to get a bit browned and a tad crusty. Now take the pan out of the oven and slather the top with additional BBQ sauce and/or ketchup. Sprinkle the cheese on top of it all and return it to the oven. Increase heat to 375 and cook 12-15 more minutes.

Remove from oven and let it cool at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with additional ketchup and BBQ sauce on the side.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Divine Intervention Sapporo Ramen

Last night, we had a religious experience. My wife's eyes rolled back in her head and she started speaking in tongues. I started weeping out of a profound, unexpected joy. Even the dog made odd noises. Of course, we didn't find Jesus; I just made the most amazing ramen ever. The wife's expression happened to be "domo arigato gozimus" and my profound weeping was because I nailed the broth perfectly. And the dog turned out to just be gassy. So even though we didn't find eternal salvation, it turned out to be a pretty remarkable night, nevertheless.

This is a slight revision to Sapporo-style ramen. That ramen uses butter to add a richness to the broth. However, as a not-huge fan of butter, I opted for coconut milk instead. Also, since the broth is traditionally cooked with various animal bits to add umami, I make a few vegetarian-friendly tricks, like incorporating mushrooms, browning the miso, and adding some fermented black beans. The result is a perfect, harmonious balance of savory, rich, satisfying bowl of noodles and vegetables with just a touch of sweetness.

Note that you can get the needed Japanese ingredients at any Asian grocer, including kombu, wakame, hijiki, mirin, bonito flakes, fermented black bean paste, and buckwheat noodles.

Prep time: 3 cocktails

Egg marinade:
2 eggs
2-3 TBSP soy sauce
2-3 TBSP mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
1/2 cup water

Broth base:
2-inch square kombu or 3 TBSP wakame or hijiki
5 good-sized shiitake mushrooms
6 cups water
1 cup bonito flakes
1 tsp anchovy paste (optional)

Seasoning mix:
1 TBSP sesame seeds
2 tsp untoasted sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece ginger, grated with microplane or finest side of a box grater
3 scallions, chopped
2 TBSP miso paste
2 TBSP fermented black bean paste
1/4 cup mirin or sake
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 cup coconut milk

Soup elements:
8 ounces dried buckwheat noodles
1/2-1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 bunch spinach, stems removed
1/2-1 cup frozen sweet corn
1 block tofu, chopped into 3/4" cubes (can be firm or silken/soft, depending on preference), optional

Optional garnishes: 
Bonito flakes, chopped scallions, and/or a drizzle of toasted sesame oil

A couple hours before you start the soup, you'll need to make the eggs, since the need to marinate. You want to medium-boil your eggs by gently dropping them in boiling water and reducing heat to a very low boil. Boil them for 7-8 minutes. Remove and place under cool running water and remove shells. Then combine the peeled eggs with the rest or the marinade ingredients in a small Tupperware container or zip-lock bag and put in the refrigerator.

Now make the broth by combining all the broth ingredients in a pressure cooker. With the lid off, bring to a boil but remove the kombu right before you boil or it will become slimy (if using hijiki or wakame, no need to remove). Once boiling, put the lid on it and bring up to normal pressure for your altitude for 10 minutes. Then remove from heat and let pressure drop completely. Remove lid and strain out mushrooms and any remaining seaweed.

While your broth is cooking, you can pre-prep the some of your soup elements. Cook the noodles according to the directions on package and cool them under running water and set aside. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the bean sprouts for 1 minute and strain them out. In the same water, you can then blanch the spinach for 3-4 minutes and strain out. Let cool and then squeeze all the moisture out and chop it up coarsely. Finally, add the corn to the boiling water for a couple minutes, then drain and set aside (you can obviously make all these veggies in separate pots of water, if you would prefer).

Next, start on the seasoning mix. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add sesame seeds and toast for a couple minutes, stirring pretty frequently. When they are lightly toasted, transfer to an electric spice grinder and grind into a powder. Set aside.

Now in a large pot or dutch oven, heat the untoasted sesame oil over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, and scallions and saute for 1-2 minutes. Now add miso and bean paste and stir constantly for a couple minutes. You want some of the paste to get browned stuck to the pan, but don't let anything fully burn. Next, deglaze the paste by adding the mirin/sake and sesame seed powder. Once everything is incorporated and the bits that were stuck to the pan are unstuck, add the soy sauce and coconut milk. Stir everything well and add the broth from the pressure cooker (after removing mushrooms and seaweed). Adjust seasoning if necessary by adding salt or soy sauce to taste. Add tofu cubes and bring to a low boil for a couple minutes. Then it's ready to serve!

In a bowl, combine your noodles, corn, spinach, sprouts, and tofu. Pour the broth over the top and slice your marinated eggs in half lengthwise and add a half an egg. Top with any of the additional garnishes of your choice and serve!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Quick Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

You can make this in just a few minutes. Great as a marinade, stir fry sauce, or topping all kinds of good stuff!

Prep time: 1/4 cocktail

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup soy sauce
2-3 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp ginger, grated with Microplane or the finest setting of a box grater
1 clove garlic, minced
2 TBSP mirin cooking wine
The greens of 2-4 scallions

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 3 TBSP water until fully incorporated.

Combine all ingredients except the scallions in a small pan on medium-low to medium heat and bring to a boil for about 4 minutes.

Let cool to room temperature, stir in scallions. If it gets too thick, add a bit of water until you get it how you want it.