Friday, February 26, 2010

Macaroni-cheese Layer

Serves 2.

1/2 cup macaroni pasta
1/3 cup young spinach
1/2 cup tomatoes
1 3/4 tbsp butter
1 3/4 tbsp flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/3 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (I used shredded)
salt and pepper

Cook macaroni, drain, and set aside.

Wash the spinach and roughly chop. Place in a large saucepan and cook, stirring, until it has wilted. Drain in a colander, squeezing out as much water as you can. Finely slice the tomatoes.

Preheat over to 400 degrees F. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add about 1/4 of the milk, stirring well until smooth. Add the milk in this way until it has all been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce.

Stir in the cayenne pepper, 1/2 cup of the cheese and the drained macaroni. Season to taste.

In a lightly greased large, ovenproof dish, spoon half of the macaroni mixture, leveling with the back of a spoon. Cover with spinach.

Add the sliced tomatoes, followed by the remaining macaroni mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling.

100 Great Recipes: Vegetarian, Vicki Smallwood, 2009

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

you CAN make ravioli from scratch!

way back when, when even this blog was knee high to a grasshopper, I made pasta from scratch for the first time. And after spending hours with a rolling pin, it wasn't half bad.

a few months ago, I made some fantabulous Stuffed Mushrooms and had a metric ton (Ok, maybe 1 cup and a half) of filling left over.

pasta + yummy mixture = ravioli!

Follow the link above for regular traditional pasta, or here is a recipe that I found that claims to make "strong" pasta, for "wet fillings". I'd have to have both kinds of pasta next to each other to tell the difference, but I will say this made some super tasty ravioli.

Makes about 60 ravioli, takes about 1 1/2 cups filling.

3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup white wine
about a 1/4 cup water

mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. (Traditionally, you would do this on a "floured surface", but mixing it in a big bowl makes clean up so much easier!) make a well in the center, and pour in the eggs and oil. mix slowly at first, slowly incorporating more and more flour into the eggy mixture in the center. then add the wine, and continue to mix. the dough will probably be dry and crumbly, so add a little bit of water. keep blending, and adding water a little bit at a time until you've got a soft dough that isn't wet. When it's just at the point where it will hold together, you're done. Knead for 10 minutes, like you would bread dough. It will get smooth and soft. cut into 4 parts, and roll each part into a ball. Let rest covered, for about 15 minutes.

These are directions for rolling by hand, because that's how I've done it in the past. I offered to trade home made ravioli to a friend if she lets me borrow her pasta machine!

lightly flour your kitchen table. One dough ball at a time (keep the others covered), gently roll out the dough. it will be very elastic, and the dough is not going to want to stay where you put it. I found it was easiest to get it into a long strip, and pull as I was rolling. When it is thin enough that you can see your hand though it, it's ready.

I did a vegetarian filling, basically the leftover mushroom filling mixed with some ricotta cheese. Get creative! if it's chopped up into teeny weeny peices, tastes good hot, and mixed with some cheese, it will be good! the drier your filling, the better. Wetter fillings will want to squooge out.

I did some experimenting with ravioli techniques:

the traditional method: cut dough into long strips about 4" wide. put about 1 tsp of filling every 2 inches on one side. brush around the filling w/cold water, and fold the other side over. Push down with your fingers around the filling, then cut into raviolis. I used a pizza cutter.

the Tortellini method: cut pasta into squares. put some filling in the center, and brush the edges with cold water. fold over diagonally, so you have a triangle, and seal the edges. Now bring the two 45 degree corners together and pinch with water. These ended up looking like Pope hats.

the post-modern ineffient method of making the prettiest raviolis I ended up with: cut pasta into rectangles about 2" x 5". holding the peice in your palm, brush the edges with water. put some filling onto one side, then fold over, pinching the edges shut. It took freaking forever to make these, but they looked way prettier than anything else I'd tried.

after eating about a dozen raviolis, I now have 3 freezer bags full of ravioli and Tortellini in the freezer. Nice!

Snowed in? Need something to do for 3-4 hours? Ravioli is it. All it takes is a few pantry ingredients, a little bit of imagination, and some patience.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Serves 2.

2 large bell peppers (the picture shows red, but I might have used green and/or yellow)
1/4 cup brown rice
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 small clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1/3 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 4oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
1/4 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Halve the bell peppers and deseed them, then place in a roasting pan. Cook the brown rice in a pan of boiling water until it is tender, then drain.

Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the onion and garlic until golden. Add the mushrooms and stir. Cook for 5 minutes until softened.

Add the tomatoes, paste and oregano. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat, stir in the rice and parsley, and season.

Divide the rice mixture between the bell peppers. Sprinkle over the grated cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and return to the oven for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve.

100 Great Recipes: Vegetarian, Vicki Smallwood, 2009


This book has tidbits on the different types of vegetarian, and what kind of foods should in included, and what should be avoided in a vegetarian diet. Very educational. Most of the recipes are divided into 2 sections, one section is for doubling the recipe so you don't have to do the math yourself! The recipes that I made, and am including here, are for the least number of servings. This book also has wonderful pictures. A few recipes I've made from the book did not turn out as expected, so I didn't include them in the blog.

This is easy and delicious. This recipe serves 2. I used thick noodles.

1 3/4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 1/3 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2/3 cup veggie stock
1 1/2 tbsp brandy (I've also used water as a substitute)
1/3 cup heavy cream (I've used light cream instead)
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard (any mustard will do)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Heat the butter in a large skillet or casserole dish until melted. Add the shallots and cook until they are soft. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring from time to time, until tender. Sprinkle over the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add about a quarter of the stock, stirring all the time until thickened. Continue adding the stock in this way until it is all incorporated, stirring all the time until thickened. Continue adding the stock in this way until it is all incorporated, stirring well to ensure that the mixture is smooth and thickened.

Simmer gently for 5 minutes, then stir in the brandy. Now add the cream and mustard, stirring to mix. Remove from the heat and sprinkle over the chopped parsley, season to taste and then serve.

100 Great Recipes: Vegetarian, Vicki Smallwood, 2009

History of food web sites

I'm in the middle of reading "Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking", by Kate Colquhoun (2007). It's a wonderful book, and there are two cool web sites at the end of her bibliography that I wanted to add to the blog. :)

Food Timeline

Cindy Renfrow: Author of books on ancient and medieval cooking and brewing

Ukrainian Kasha Varnishkes

This makes a lot!

Authors note: Kasha is cracked buckwheat and is often called buckwheat groats in the US. Varnishkes are noodles.

2 cups kasha or buckwheat groats
1 large onion, peeled and finally chopped
2 teaspoons oil
4 cups water
12-ounce package of eggless noodles (I use bow tie noodles)
10 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute kasha or buckwheat groats and onion with oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add 4 cups water and simmer covered for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook noodles in 10 cups water until tender. Drain noodles and add to kasha mixture along with the seasonings. Serve warm.

The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook, Debra Wasserman, 1994

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Romanian Mushroom Paprikash

I usually wouldn't have potatoes and pasta together, but this is delicious!

1 pound button mushrooms or larger mushrooms, quartered
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon unbleached white flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds white potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 pound elbow macaroni

Stir-fry mushrooms and onions with oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add parsley, garlic, paprika, flour, salt and pepper to taste, and potatoes. Cover the ingredients with water and simmer 15 minutes in covered pan until potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile, cook macaroni in water until tender. Drain and add to the mushroom/potato mixture. Serve warm.

The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook, Debra Wasserman, 1994

Czechoslovakian Noodles with Poppy Seeds

A good reason to add poppy seeds to my pantry!

12-ounce package eggless noodles
10 cups water
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 cups vanilla soy milk (or add a few drops of vanilla to plain soy milk)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook noodles in 10 cups boiling water for 8-10 minutes until done. Drain noodles.

Meanwhile, put remaining ingredients in a separate pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from heat, add cooked noodles, and serve warm.

The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook, Debra Wasserman, 1994

Romanian Sweet Pasta

Easy to make, and so very good!

1 pound eggless pasta (I use noodles)
12 cups water
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup walnuts, ground, or 1/3 cup poppy seeds, ground
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind, minced
1 1/2 cups raisins
1/2 teaspoon powdered cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cook pasta in boiling water until done. Drain.
Heat maple syrup and walnuts or poppy seeds in a large pot over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add lemon rind, raisins, clove powder, and cinnamon. Continue cooking for 3 more minutes. Add cooking pasta. Mix well and serve warm. You can also pour the mixture into a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes before serving.

The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook, Debra Wasserman, 1994

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Barley Stuffed Lettuce

Author recommends trying rice or couscous instead of the barley, and to try out different juices. I have only tried it this way, but next time would use a different type of lettuce.

1 1/2 cups barley
3 cups orange juice
2 cups water
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1 head of romaine lettuce or other large leaf lettuce
2 cups tomato sauce

Cook barley with juice, water, cinnamon, and raisins in a large covered pot over medium-low heat for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate 12 lettuce leaves and rinse well. Stuff each leaf with about 3 tablespoons cooked barley mixture. Fold ends of leaves under. Pour tomato sauce into a baking pan. Lay stuffed leaves in pan with folded ends down. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm.

The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook, Debra Wasserman, 1994

Romanian Tomato Soup

This cookbook, published by the Vegetarian Resource Group in Baltimore, MD, includes a glossary and information about calculating fat in your diet. Each recipe includes specific nutrition factoids.

This is a very simple, but very delicious, tomato soup.

1 cup cooked brown rice
8 cups (or 2 quarts) vegetable broth
15-ounce can tomato sauce
4 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in a large covered pot. Simmer over medium-high heat for 55 minutes. Serve warm.

The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook, Debra Wasserman, 1994

Friday, February 12, 2010

Review of S. Andrew Swann's latest

read the review here.

i couldn't really say so in that review, but this book majorly pinged my jesus meter. Not sure if Swann was writing SF for the Christian inspiration crowd or what, I surfed his blog to see what kind a guy he is. The dude is an uber liberal libertarian who might be even more left than me. so what the hell is he up to? Playing around with religion just to ping some meters and freak some people out? or is he going to be pulling the rug out at the last minute?

Cory Doctorow can do no wrong.

Or at least he can write no wrong. (saying that outloud it sounds like he can't fix anything? that's not what I meant. I meant the opposite of that, in fact)

I just finished his latest novel, Makers. Similar to Doctorow's Little Brother, I couldn't put it down, the characterization was excellent, there were moments of purposefull over the topness (just to make sure we're getting the point), i was inspired to take some computer classes, I was inspired to dream and make sure those dreams come true, and I cried at the end. The two books may have all those things in common, but they are completely different.

If Little Brother was a manifesto on freedom, and the government's active war against, then Makers is a manifesto on business, and how what we think of as "business" doesn't work.

I'm not going to get into plot and characters because you can find all that on Amazon. so go do that. then go get this book. you will like it.

Getting a message/belief/philosophy out through a passionate, exciting, romantic, crazy, enlightening, impossible to put down novel? who the hell does Doctorow think he is, Ayn Rand?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I read Powers for the articles.

I recently finished re-reading Last Call by Tim Powers. Fans of this blog know I'm a Tim Powers fangirl, and Last Call is one of his best works, and sort of one of his weakest.

Lemme 'splain.

Powers writes occult/mythos/body snatchers like nobodies business. When a character realizes he is a direct descendant of a demi-god or a legendary archetype, or has found the foutain of youth but paid a terrible price, you know it's true. Because Tim Powers said so. That said, sometimes Powers gets a little ahead of himself, and characters and plots get a little mishmashed. Like when you've got a couple of bites of thanksgiving left on your plate, so you just put the half bite of mash potatoes, and a little bit of turkey, and the green beans on your fork and eat it, and it tastes really good, but you can't tell what's what? Unfortunately most of the middle of Last Call is like that.

the action is great, but I read Powers for the articles.

here's the easier to digest version:
Scott Crane thinks he's normal. He makes a fine living as a pro poker player, except things around him keep dying. Like pets. and plants. and his wife. 20 years ago, he played the strangest game of poker you can imagine - 13 players exactly, options to buy another players hand then sell it for a shared profit. The name of the game was Assumption, and it was played with hand painted Tarot cards. That fateful game so many years ago, how could Scott possibly know or understand what was bought and sold that night? This year, the game will be played again, for higher stakes.

Scott, along with his foster sister Diana, his foster father Ozzie, and friends Arky and Bernadette are fighting against the Fisher King and his minions, who have unlimited resources, guns, contacts, and bodies (Powers doesn't anything if he can't have some body snatching in there someplace!).

This isn't a poker book. But I did learn a lot about Tarot cards (you'd be amazed how that can come in handy!). The beginning of the novel is strong, and the end is phenomenol. But the middle? muddled. Everytime I read this book I'm reminded of why I love it, and why I waited so long to read it again.

So i'm not sure if Powers is the writing God that I tell my friends that he is, or if he runs hot and cold. But I still buy tons of his books, so that's gotta say something.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I dub thee Cthulhu fruit!!

it was tagged "Buddha hand fruit" at Meijers. If a lemon and Cthulhu had a baby. . . .

Wasn't much of a key

I recently finished James Rollins' Doomsday Key. Usually, these kinds of books are a guilty pleasure of mine - action, adventure, conspiracies, Indiana Jones does the Davinci Code. I devour them and then quickly sell them back to the used bookstore before anyone knows I've read such pulp. That said, Doomsday Key was a bit of a let down. My own fault, this book is in a series, and I haven't read the earlier books. But I was able to figure out pretty quickly who was who and what was what. Returning characters Peirce and Rachel Verona are the stars, with appearances by Seichan, Monk and a handful of others - and we get some nice glimpses into the shady Guild organization. I won't say too much about the plot besides what does genetically engineers crops, mushrooms, Stonehenge, the Black Madonna, Illustrated Manuscripts, and apples have in common?

The best parts of the book were the historical bits. I love that kinda stuff.

The let down part for me was that the book was both predictable and unpredictable. I'm not going to make any mention of the plot, other than it's save the world before something awful happens.

Predictable parts: it was too easy to figure out who the bad guys were, who the soon-to-be-dead red shirts were. Thank you Dan Brown, no one will ever trust the British professor again.

Unpredictable parts - why make such a big deal about a damn apple, if it has nothing to do with anything? Nice bits of mythology, religion, etymology, some wonderful writing. but it was all for nothing, and that's too bad.

Will i read more Rollins? Hell yeah. Do i recommend this particular one? eh, not so much.