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Showing posts from February, 2006

The Best of February

It's been an amazing month on A Veggie Venture -- only 28 days but 22 favorites! Who knew winter's goodness could rival summer's bounty?

I make light but do, in fact, believe that the reason February's vegetables tasted so good is that they were suited to February: root vegetables, purees, oven dishes. I ignored the 'spring-ish' asparagus beginning to appear in the supermarket, bypassed anything resembling a tomato.

So what are February's best veggie side, best soup and, a new category, best vegetarian supper? And because we've been cooking fennel all month, the best fennel?

FEBRUARY'S BEST VEGETABLE SIDE DISH Sorry, there's no picking just one.

For nights with calories and time to spare, try the to-die-for Parsnip Fries.




For those slim-on-time and slim-in-diet, opt for Simple Braised Celery.







FEBRUARY'S BEST SOUP Hunger Moon Parsnip Soup a simple soup, redolent of earth and lunar cycles







FEBRUARY'S BEST VEGETARIAN SUPPER Lentil, Pepper and Sp…

Day 323: Potato Pancakes

Shrove Tuesday pancakes: I've been looking forward to them for weeks.

Like many with English heritage -- my grandfather was born in East London within sound of the bow bells of St Mary-le-Bow, making him 'Cockney' by geography if little else -- a feast of pancakes is traditional on Shrove Tuesday, the eve of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent in the Christian tradition.

This year I opted -- of course! -- for pancakes with vegetables and a first-ever attempt at potato pancakes. Unfortunately, I chose a recipe without much care, one better titled "potato patties" (that is, potato and onion but no "cake") rather than the imagined cakey disks infused with grated potato and onion.

So I improvised ... ... and the pancakes were decent but extremely difficult to brown and still more difficult to remove from the pan. The good news is that I can try again: you see, pancakes are traditional.

NUTRITION NOTES ... These were filling. One pancake was plenty with the…

Day 322: Sun-Dried Tomato & Fennel Salad ◄

[So it's been fun, yes? experimenting with versatile fennel this month? Many thanks to everyone who joined in. The running round-up is now organized by salads, entrees, soups, etc. Every single recipe is on my "must try" list and should be on yours, too!]

Sun-dried tomatoes -- before they're dessert-dessicated or drenched in olive oil -- put out intense flavor.

I hoped to capture the intensity in cheese-sandwich biscuits on Day 310 -- but no such luck. I hoped to capture it in the sun-dried tomato dressing atop this salad -- but no such luck. (The dressing is good enough but so are hundreds of others.)

What does create a great platform for tomato intensity is a plate of salad greens and shaved fennel, plus whatever other toppings you have on hand (tonight some nablusi cheese, its saltiness a perfect foil, and fresh dill).

THAT works.

NUTRITION NOTES ... If you stay away from oil-soaked sun-dried tomatoes, they're good for you. Like dried apricots, peaches and apples, …

Day 321: Winter Salsa

"Picked-green, rock-hard and no-taste winter supermarket tomatoes would improve this salsa."

Does that suggest how bad this salsa was?

I hoped for a mid-winter citrus salsa for alongside simple fish. A recipe at an unnamed-to-protect-the-guilty-source looked interesting because it called for canned tomatoes. I even splurged on organic, fire-roasted tomatoes!

It wasn't inedible although the whole mess did hit the dustbin after one bite. It just wasn't salsa -- no freshness, no crunch, no taste of life, no springboard for other flavors. It just wasn't worth eating.

LESSON LEARNED ... Fresh-tomato season is the only season for tomato salsa.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... See the Recipe Box for other ideas for side relishes, especially this one.

WINTER SALSA
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Serves 0

15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained (save the juice for soup!)
1 tangerine, sections cut in three
3 green onions, white and…

Day 320: Candied Fennel Ice Cream Provencal ◄

This was one very good vanilla ice cream. But sadly, the candied fennel itself added little more than effort and fuss.

The base ice cream recipe I do recommend -- it's from my favorite never-the-same Chameleon Ice Cream. It is less sweet and less rich than other ice cream recipes -- and still perfectly sweet and lip-smacking rich.

And it can be modified into an infinite number of combinations. The trick is to pump up the focus flavor (e.g, the vanilla, the coffee, the spice) which compensates for less sugar and fat.

FOR THE RECORD ... This is A Veggie Venture's contribution to Is My Blog Burning - the Vive le France edition hosted by Cucina Testa Rossa. So if you like, call it Glace a la Fenouil Provencal (sorry, can't seem to manage the special characters in blogger).

FENNEL ROUND-UP ... Thanks to everyone who cooked fennel with me during the month of February. Fennel must be one of the most versatile vegetables around -- check the round-up to see for yourself!

NUTRITION NOT…

Day 319: Parsnip Fries ♥

Matchstick parsnips roasted (not fried) with garlic until crisp and golden. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Did I mention delicious?!
Wow! So good! Make extra because there's no NOT snatching these parsnip fries right from the dish, they're that good. They were terrific alongside burgers but another time, I'd put them out, hot, as an appetizer, especially if supper were a little skimpy.

The recipe comes from my cousin Laura who feeds four kids so it's definitely kid-friendly.
She suggests cutting the woody cores from the parsnips and so the first time, I did too, it was fussy and time-consuming. Ever since, I leave the cores in and have had zero problem with toughness.

Kitchen Parade Extra: Quick Supper: Greek Feta Chicken ◄

It's back to Kitchen Parade's popular collection of quick suppers with a quick, cheap and tasty (and low carb AND low calorie) Greek Feta Chicken.

The chicken and a curried rice side dish are featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column.

And while you're there, check out the Column Archives' brand-new categories for Vegetarian & Vegan, Holidays & Celebrations, Fresh & Seasonal plus Kitchen Tips and my favorite essays.

And for the health-minded? there's Low Carb and Low Calorie.


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 318: Potato & Ridge Gourd Curry ◄

So this healthful supper looks like 'love', doesn't it? Yes? Please?

You see, it's my contribution to Hooked on Heat's From My Rasoi's love-themed cooking extravaganza.

Love? What's a plate of potato and peas and pepper and ridge gourd (and what's a ridge gourd anyway?) got to do with love?

Love. Hmm. Expressed in Indian food.

Sure, I could have Googled, even asked around. I could have pulled out a long-neglected cookbook, Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julie Sahni. But what I really (really really) wanted to make was the ridge gourd curry that showed up on Mahanandi more than a month ago.

You know how some times a dish just grabs your attention? And even when a thousand other recipes try to intercede, your mind is somehow stuck? Thanks to Indira's coaching, I already had the Thai peppers (and have been throwing them into most everything) and the coconut powder. All I needed was the ridge gourd -- and lucky me, they're a dog-walk awa…

Day 317: Simple Braised Celery ◄

Wow! Am I the last person on earth to cook celery? JUST celery! What I've been missing these last (ahem) 29 years!

Like everyone, I go through piles of celery. If there's onion and garlic in the pot, chances are there's celery too. And Day 247's celery & apple salad was memorable, perfect when you run across celery that still has its leaves.

But other than that? Nada.

[And nothing like being celery-outed! The other day, Tummy Treasure had four bunches of celery leftover from the wedding feast she cooked and predicted there'd be lots of celery ideas on A Veggie Venture. Oh no! Here it's been nearly 11 months of cooking a vegetable in a new way every single day -- and no celery! Thanks, Erika, if it weren't for you, this celery would be soup!]

NUTRITION NOTES ... You're gonna LOVE this. Carb Counters? Celery has only 2 grams of NetCarbs: now that's low-carb. And Weight Watchers? Zero Points. No Points. Nada Points. Got it? Eat the plate if you like.

KI…

Day 316: Curried Vegetable Bisque ♥

Today's creamy bisque soup, made creamy with potato and dried milk powder instead of the typical heavy cream. The bisque is slightly sweet, thanks to a healthy ration of Granny smith apples and a few currants or raisins. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegetarian. Naturally Gluten Free.
Skip Straight to the Recipe
Curried Vegetable Bisque calls for just a few pantry vegetables, fruits and spices – isn't it rare for a fridge and pantry to be without onions, peppers, celery, carrots and potatoes plus apples and raisins? – which means, praise be, it's a soup to make on a whim, no special grocery run required, no delay waiting to pick up something special.

Mind you, this bisque is not an especially pretty soup – hence the carrot-currant garnish, a favorite I learned making Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole (Kabeli Palau) and repeated often. (Croutons would work too! Or a dollop of sour cream and a few herbs. You'll have something in the fridge, I'm 99% sure!) St…

Day 315: Mom's Favorite Leftover Magic ♥

Like most moms, mine had a thousand magic ways with leftover-whatever. This was one of her favorite techniques and it sure worked tonight on this overcooked roast beef.

The vegetables -- and rice too although not tonight since there was none leftover -- make for a frugal, healthful way to extend a half pound of meat with generous servings, also to create a one-plate meal, meat and vegetables all in one.

The mayonnaise sauce -- my family calls it Lynda's Dressing because it originated with my cousin Lynda -- is extremely reliable. My Mom kept a jar in the frig for spur-of-the-moment tuna salad, chicken salad, anything-salad. The dressing has lots of flavor so it's easy to use just enough to barely bind the ingredients.

RECIPE for MOM's FAVORITE LEFTOVER MAGICHands-on time: 5 minutes to mix the dressing, 20 minutes to mix the salad
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4 generously
LYNDA'S DRESSING
Enough to keep on hand in the frig (just enough for tonight)
1 1/2 cups Miracle Whip (…

Day 314: White on White Purée ♥

Today's vegetable recipe: Cauliflower and turnips cooked and mashed to create low-carb and low-calorie "mashed potatoes". Weight Watchers 1 point.
~ recipe updated 2008 ~
When I first made this cauliflower and turnip purée in 2006, I called it 'another mushy-textured, bland-looking but heavenly-tasting purée'.

Since then, it's become a real favorite, especially when I want to serve a low-carb or diabetic replacement for mashed potatoes. The reaction at my table? "I wouldn't know these aren't mashed potatoes unless you told me." That's especially true when they're served with meat and gravy, say, versus just mashed potatoes. These are a real winner, all year-round, for all foodies.



WHITE on WHITE PURÉEHands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 35 minutes
Makes 4 cups
Salted water to cover
1 head cauliflower, trimmed, cored, cut into florets
1/2 pound turnips (2 medium), peeled and chopped
1 slice lemon (optional)
1 bay leaf (optional)

1/4 cup …

Vegan Chickpea Gumbo ♥
Guest Post by the Fatfree Vegan

Could I pick 'em or what? Way back in 2006, I invited SusanV from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen to write a guest post for A Veggie Venture. Her blog was not even a month old! Now of course, Fatfree Vegan Kitchen is the source of inspiration for a wide and passionate community of vegan eaters. But until now, 2013, a full seven years later, I'd never made Susan's Chickpea Gumbo myself. Whoa – was I ever missing out, WHAT a gumbo. I made it once and was very sorry to not be able to make another batch right away! This is one of the best things I've made in a long time!! And naturally, it's not just vegan, it's "Vegan Done Real". It would be a great choice for a Mardi Gras party! (Looking for ideas for Mardi Gras? Check out Mardi Gras recipes!)
~recipe & photo updated & reposted 2013~
~more recently updated recipes~
Please welcome SusanV from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen:

Look through any Cajun cookbook, and you’ll notice that meat or seafood is in everything, e…

Day 313: Carrot & Fruit Oatmeal Slump ♥

A simple, satisfying breakfast, a takeoff on the wonderful Swiss Muesli I fell in love with in Switzerland. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free.
What an easy, delicious breakfast!

It's a carrot and fruit non-dairy (and thus vegan) version of the Swiss Muesli oatmeal breakfast featured in my Kitchen Parade column back in December. Over Christmas, my 15-year old nephew Matthew made it for our breakfast several times and took to calling Swiss Muesli "slump." Slump. It's a good name, yes? :-)

I wondered if the carrot might taste plain weird or perhaps a gratuitous addition only for the sake of including a vegetable. But Carrot & Fruit Oatmeal Slup is good, really good; the carrot paired beautifully with pineapple. Hmmm, isn't there an old church-potluck salad with carrots and pineapple, maybe with marshmallows?

Kitchen Parade Extra: Trio of Vegetables with Sour Cream ◄

Only the Veggie Evangelist would dare put vegetables up against Chunky Monkey and Belgian chocolate.

But she does -- read about it in this week's Kitchen Parade column!










(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 311: Curried Carrots ◄

All the vegetable cylinders are striking here: fast cooking; low fat and low carb (read on ..) and yes, healthful; inexpensive, easily on-hand ingredients.

And oh yes: full of flavor.

NEXT TIME ... I might add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to the butter/garlic/ginger/broth combination.

NUTRITION NOTES ... Carb watchers probably aren't reading, since they're ingrained to avoid carrots as a high source of carbohydrates. Too bad, because when you run the nutrition analysis (see below), the net carbs are only 8, putting a serving smack in low-carb land.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... Visit the Recipe Box for other ideas for simple side-dish vegetables.

CURRIED CARROTS
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4

1 teaspoon butter (or none at all)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (from a jar)
1 tablespoon minced ginger (from a jar)
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
Splash of vinegar or lemon juice (try adding this next time, maybe a tablespoon)
1/4 cup non-fat …

Day 310: A Cheese Sandwich, Considered

It's always good to take stock. (Of course, since this is a food blog, I contend that it's always good to make stock. But that's another post.)

This week, there's a whole lot of stock-taking in the food blog community, all symbolized by cheese sandwiches. (Note the word 'community'. More on that in a minute.)

You see, a long-time, respectable (and indeed, respected) food writer jabbed at food blogs in the March issue of Food & Wine. (My issue hasn't yet arrived. What's with that, F&W?) Along the way, he gave much wise counsel. In the end, he compared most food blogs to lowly cheese sandwiches.
It was the jabs that riled, the jabs that seemed unnecessary, the jabs that seemed mean-spirited, the jabs that seemed, well ... uninformed, like a writer on deadline with little time for research and little inclination for perspective beyond a familiar mirror.

I'm giving the writer the benefit of the doubt. We all have bad days. We all write on deadli…

Day 309: Hearty Heart-Loving Muffins ♥
(Whole-Grain, Low-Fat, Low-Sugar Muffins
with Flax, Bran, Carrot, Apple, Raisin & Surprise Ingredient)

A regular-size muffin for 120 calories? It's a miracle! This is a healthy whole-grain, no-added-fat version of the classic Morning Glory Muffin. You'll find all the traditional Morning Glory "goodies" of carrots, apple and raisins but here cloaked in a muffin batter of whole wheat flour plus good measures of flaxmeal and oat bran, just a quarter cup of sugar and a surprise ingredient. (Baby food, anyone? Yes!) What these muffins don't call for are butter or oil! The muffins are "just sweet enough" and have the texture of a regular muffin. They're moist and flavorful, just what you want in a morning muffin.

Low Fat. Low Cal. Whole Grain. Easily made vegan with easy vegan substitutes too.
~recipe & photo updated 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~
2006: Certain recipes sweep through the food blog world. And these muffins merit attention – all homes should smell so good with muffins in the oven! It started with a recipe from a package of Bob&#…

Day 308: Vegetable Coconut Curry with Shrimp ◄

As 'ethnic food' (word-dancing foodies: this seems like such out-of-date language but what other word is there?) becomes increasingly accepted, with popularity comes convenience and short-cuts.

Lucky-lucky me, within walking distance is an independent grocery called Global Foods, a veritable United Nations of food. The aisles are lined with foods from every part of the world -- well, except Italy, which St Louisans find on The Hill, an old Italian neighborhood with old-style Italian markets, butchers and bakeries -- and familiar tastes of home for immigrants, unfamiliar pecularities for many and a playground for adventurous cooks like me.

Tonight I tried a curry starter for vegetables from Asian Home Gourmet, just to see. It was good -- very good! It's a wet paste, not just dried spices. It's labelled "hot hot" -- and indeed it was: even with considerably more vegetables and coconut mik, the heat was more than I'd prefer although would be fine if moderated …

Day 307: Secret-Ingredient Wine & Fruit Salad ◄

Blame too many late nights thumbing through 1960s-era church cookbooks where every 'salad' recipe leads off with jello, gets fancy with tinned pineapple and closes with Cool Whip: when I learned the weekend's Paper Chef ingredients, a gelatin salad congealed (sorry!) in my head and wouldn't be jiggled out.

The concept was a grown-up side salad, a wine gelatin enriched with a beet puree, packed with soft fruit, lightly dressed in a lime and ginger sour-cream sauce.

I second-guessed the idea from first thought to first bite.
All those cans! Heavens, what aspiring Paper Chef winner would use canned beets, canned peaches and canned pears (even if canned pears were requisite since barely ripe fresh pears were out of the question)? Only the grapes would be fresh, even if alarmingly expensive. (Oh dear, StephenCooks, I'm sorry! I do disappoint!)
And the gelatin in the pantry was years old. "Does gelatin expire?" I wondered when it took two hours to begin to set. And…

Day 306: Fennel Puree ♥

Yes, another puree. I am so loooooving the taste of mashed potatoes and the virtue of potatoes mashed with something lower in calories and carbs.

This one is fennel and celery cooked and mashed with potato, then gussied up with a spash of an anise liqueur (Sambuca or Pernod) and cream (or tonight, fat-free half 'n' half).

It was just delicious.

NUTRITION NOTES Weight Watchers: With no added butter, this clocks in at just 1 point. Carb Counters: With 14 grams of net carbs, it is lower carb but not, I'm afraid, low carb.

NEXT TIME I'll use a tad less liquid for a thicker consistency. This could have been fixed by a return trip to the stove but the meat was ready, it was time to eat! I'll also again leave out the butter; it just wasn't needed for flavor or even texture.


VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES

~ more fennel recipes ~
~ still more fennel recipes, ones cooked by my fellow food bloggers in February 2006 for a special fennel-only event ~

FENNEL PUREE
Hands-on …

Day 305: Hunger Moon Parsnip Soup ♥

Today's simple-simple parsnip soup recipe: Just parsnips and leeks cooked in stock and puréed until silky and voluptuous. Easily made not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly (without dairy).
~recipe updated, first published way back in 2006~
~more recently updated recipes~
WAY BACK IN 2006 When publisher Chelsea Green asked to send a complimentary advance copy of Full Moon Feast, the coming-soon cookbook by Jessica Prentice, I accepted with the understanding that I might not write, cook from or even read it.

I've long been a seasonal cook: no tomatoes in February, no parsnips in August, no asparagus in November. But the book's lyrical story-telling describes a whole 'nother way of eating, of considering, of trusting, our food.

The book follows the thirteen lunar cycles. As luck would have it, Chapter 1 starts in February – that's now – with the hunger moon, the time when fall's harvest is falling thin, when only dusty root veg…