Posts Tagged leeks

VeganMoFo: Flavor Bible Week – Chervil

So, the funny thing about choosing chervil from the Flavor Bible is that I couldn’t find chervil anywhere, fresh or dried.  Apparently chervil is quite fragile and hard to stock.  Regardless, I forged ahead with my idea.

Chervil, page 113, is a key ingredient of fines herbes, along with chives, parsley and tarragon.  Other flavor matches are leeks, lemon juice and peas, and I served my dinner along with one more match, potatoes.  My original intent was to stuff the herbs inside the tofu, but my tofu slices were pretty thin, so I put the herbs on the outside instead.


Fines Herbes & Dijon Crusted Tofu with Braised Leeks & Pea Puree

The balance of flavors in this dish is great; the leeks are soft and sweet, the tofu is chewy and herbaceous, and the pea puree is salty, tangy and smooth.  Even with multiple strong flavors going on, the delicate fresh herbs shine through.  I had truffled mashed potatoes on the side, but crispy roasted potatoes would be a nice texture contrast too.

Tofu:
14 oz extra firm tofu, patted dry and cut into four slices lengthwise
2 Tbs dijon mustard
2 tsp vegetable broth or water
2 Tbs each fresh chervil, tarragon, parsley and chives, chopped
1/8 tsp salt
pinch black pepper
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Leeks:
6 medium leeks
1 Tbs Earth Balance
1 cup white wine
2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
Pea Puree:
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp white miso
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbs vegetable broth or water

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and heat a wide pan over medium-high heat.
2. Trim most of the green parts off of the leeks and discard, leaving the white and light green parts.  Trim the root ends, leaving enough so that the leeks hold together.  Cut each leek in half lengthwise then rinse to remove any dirt, separating the layers.  Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, combine the dijon mustard, vegetable broth, herbs, salt and pepper, and mix well.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with oil.  Spread some of the mustard mixture thinly on a slice of tofu, then sprinkle with 1 Tbs of panko and pat the breadcrumbs into the mustard.  Place the tofu on the baking sheet breadcrumbs down, and repeat with the rest of the tofu.  Aim to use about half of the mustard mixture on the bottoms of the tofu.
5. Spread the rest of the mustard mixture on the tops of the tofu and sprinkle 1 Tbs of panko on each piece.  Pat the breadcrumbs into the mustard.  Once all of the tofu pieces have been topped with breadcrumbs, spray with oil.
6. Bake the tofu for 30 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, melt the Earth Balance in the hot pan.  Add the leeks cut side up and cook for a few minutes, until browned.  Flip the leeks and continue to cook for a few minutes.
8. Add the wine to the pan (it will hiss), then drizzle the agave nectar over the leeks and sprinkle in the lemon zest and salt.  Shake the pan to combine.
9. Cover the pan, turn the heat down to medium-low, and braise the leeks for 30 minutes, until a sharp knife is easily inserted near the roots.  Most of the liquid should have evaporated.
10. While the tofu and leeks are cooking, prepare the pea puree.  Place all puree ingredients (peas through vegetable broth) in a food processor and blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
11. If the tofu is not browned on top after baking 30 minutes, place it under the broiler, watching very carefully, for a minute or two, just until browned.
12. To serve, lay three leeks on each plate.  Place a piece of tofu on top of the leeks, then a dollop of pea puree on the tofu.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 357.89
Calories From Fat (24%) 86.22
% Daily Value
Total Fat 9.67g 15%
Saturated Fat 1.86g 9%
Cholesterol 0.06mg <1%
Sodium 756.94mg 32%
Potassium 402.26mg 11%
Total Carbohydrates 42.68g 14%
Fiber 6.28g 25%
Sugar 11.79g
Protein 16.49g 33%

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Millennium & Greens Two Ways

When my parents were planning their visit to San Francisco, my mom asked me if there were any restaurants I’d like to go to.  I immediately thought of Millennium.  I’ve wanted to eat a meal there ever since I first heard about the restaurant, and our visit confirmed everything great that I’ve heard.

I was shy about taking pictures of our meal and didn’t use flash, so the pictures are almost unidentifiable.  My mom had the excellent idea of asking for a menu though, so I know exactly what was in each dish.

For appetizers we shared the Black Eyed Pea Fritters and the Sesame Crusted Oyster Mushrooms.

The fritters came with aji chile coconut cream and jicama-apple-pomegranate salsa, and I thought they were kind of like a take on falafel and tahini sauce.  The cold, crunchy salsa was great with the soft, hot inside of the fritters.  Our waitress described the mushrooms, which came with lemongrass-grapefruit-chile sambal and watermelon radish relish, as vegan calamari, and I have to say it was an accurate description.  We debated which appetizer each of us liked best, and I think the table was split in half.

I knew which entree I wanted almost right away, the one that seemed the most original:  Seared Nettle Polenta Cake.

I’d heard of nettle tea, but didn’t know for sure that nettles were edible.  Edible they were!  The polenta cake came with sage & Meyer lemon tofu “cheese”, seared rapini, chanternay carrots & artichokes, mushroom & fennel sugo, fried capers and pine nut bread crumbs.  To be perfectly honest, not all of these components were easily identifiable to me, but they came together perfectly.  The tofu “cheese” gave a distinct tang to what was otherwise an earthy dish, and the fried capers and pine nut bread crumbs provided good crunch.

Ah, that’s a better picture.  Mom got the Chimichurri Grilled Portobello Mushroom, which came with sunchoke & root vegetable hash, saffron scented IPA & French lentil brodo, escarole with caramelized onion & roasted apples and smoky orange-almond romesco sauce.  She said she was sold at “portobello”.

Dad ordered the Winter Tamale – a roasted pumpkin, pinto bean & caramelized onion filling, chocolate-almond mole, sauteed winter greens, cabbage & avocado salad and carrot-habanero sauce.

BF got the Black Chanterelle Mushrooms En Papillote, which may not have been a great choice for him since he doesn’t like to touch his food.  As our waitress explained, En Papillote means “in paper”.  Don’t worry, he successfully opened the package with a knife and fork.  This dish included borlotti bean & leek confit with exotic mushrooms, barley risotto, creamy sherried root vegetable ragu and seared winter chicories.  He chose this for the mushrooms and barley, and I think he got more beans than he bargained for.

The picture of dessert is the worst of them all, and I don’t have the exact description, but I can tell you that it was a spiced ginger baby bundt cake that came with ice cream, the flavor of which I don’t recall.  I do recall that it was very, very tasty.

Summary:  Go to Millennium if you get the chance.  It’s just as good as you expect.  I will definitely be going back as often as possible.

Oh, and since mom likes taking pictures of me, here I am at the Saturday morning Ferry Building Farmers’ Market holding a daikon radish sample for mom, since she had never seen them before.

My CSA has not been stingy with the greens lately, so I’ve been trying to find different ways to prepare them.  Here’s the CSA delivery:

leeks, fennel, bok choy, chard, kale & collards

carrots, red onions, navel oranges and two kinds of pear

The CSA newsletter came with a recipe for Creamed Greens that looked really good, and so I tried veganizing it with the chard.  It didn’t turn out exactly as “creamed” as I expected, but it did taste really, really good, so I’m renaming it.

This is even better than it looks, I promise.

Creamy Greens

2 Tbs Earth Balance
1 large onion, diced
1 large bunch chard or kale, washed and cut into 1/2-inch wide ribbons, stems chopped
1/2 cup non-dairy creamer or milk
1/2 cup vegan parmesan (I used the sesame parmesan from Uncheese Cookbook)
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and chopped stems, and saute on medium heat until translucent. Add greens to skillet and cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until greens are wilted. Turn heat to lowest setting and add creamer or milk. Stir for two to three minutes, the sauce will thickenn slightly. Add vegan parmesan, and continue to cook until sauce is thickened to your liking. Add salt & pepper to taste, and serve.

Serves 4.

In addition to cooking greens, I’ve been learning to enjoy them raw.  I knew I liked raw kale salad, but had my doubts about the heartier collard green.  I wilted the greens using the same method as kale and dressed ’em as simply as possible, and this was very tasty.  I wouldn’t want to eat raw collards every day or anything, but when you’ve got greens coming out of your ears this is a nice alternative.

Also pictured is a roasted veggie tofu quiche that tasted amazing but didn’t hold together exactly well, so I’ll be making it again soon then posting the recipe.

Raw Collard & Carrot Ribbons

1 bunch collards, washed and cut across into thin strips
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
2 medium carrots, julienned
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp agave nectar

In a large bowl, combine collard, olive oil and salt. Massage with your hands until the collard turn a bright green and seem a bit wilted. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

Serves 4.

Random baking:  I had a large portion of butternut squash just sitting on the counter, so I cooked it, pureed it, and subbed it for pumpkin in the Pumpkin & Carob Chip Muffins from Vegan Lunchbox.

There must’ve been something off about my batter, because the tops puffed up kind of funny.  They got crispy though, which is nice, and the muffins tasted great.

At one point I had large amounts of leeks piling up in the fridge, so I finally made the White Bean & Leek Cassoulet from Veganomicon.  I’ve been wanting to try this recipe ever since I got the book over a year ago.

I was expecting this to be really amazing based on other internet reviews, and while it was quite comforting and tasty, it left a little to be desired.  Maybe my hopes were too high.  I think maybe I used too many potatoes or cut them too large, because I felt like the starch of the potatoes overshadowed the biscuits.  Also, I didn’t put enough salt in the gravy, and I don’t think the biscuit recipe called for enough salt either.  The gravy was nice, but the overall flavor of the dish was a little “flat”, if that makes sense, so I think when I make it again (and I will), I’ll add some mustard or lemon juice, or something else that will give it some zing.

Next up:  My first experiences with fennel, including the quiche pictured above.

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Presents On My Doorstep

One of the things I was very excited about when moving to the Bay Area was the proliferation of farmers markets and CSA’s.  Ever since I first heard of the CSA concept I knew I wanted in.  There was precisely one option in Gainesville, and I tried to sign up during my last six months in Florida, but there was a long waiting list to contend with.

So as soon as I had the room in my budget, I signed up for one here.  I looked around and compared, and the best choice for me was Farm Fresh To You.  They run their own farm, as well as sourcing from other local farms to round out the seasonal offerings.  You can choose the frequency of your deliveries (every two weeks for me), postpone a delivery if need be, request to not receive certain items if you don’t like ’em, and best of all – they deliver!  To my door!  A lot of CSA’s around here require you to pick up, or charge for delivery, and with my schedule the way it is right now that wasn’t an option.  They also have different box options, including a smaller delivery, all fruit or all vegetable.  And apparently they have a permanent storefront in the SF Ferry Building, as well as appearing at multiple farmers markets.  And they send a newsletter with recipes.  Oh, and they post the contents of the box at the beginning of the week, so I can plan ahead and spend way too much time at work fantasizing about what I could make.

I think you can see where this is going.  I got my first CSA delivery.  And I love it.  I think I am going to have a long, happy relationship with all this produce.

There were far too many veggies to fit in one picture, so I went with green and not green.

salad greens, collards, bok choy, leeks, napa cabbage and dino kale

navel oranges, pinova apples, red potatoes, the largest butternut squash I have ever seen, and radicchio

I used the collards for my New Year’s Day meal, and the salad greens for…a salad.  Creative, I know.  The salad went with delivery pizza during the College Football National Championship game.  Go Gators!!!

I used the napa cabbage in some more fried quinoa, along with carrots and peas.  This fried quinoa wasn’t quite as good as the first time I made it, it was a little mushy.  I think the secret might be mixing in some rice.

I was interested in grilling the bok choy.  I found some recipes online that all included a sauce, but I wasn’t up for all that extra work, so I just sprayed them with some oil and grilled plain.  It was interesting – it has potential, but I definitely wouldn’t make bok choy again this way.  The leaves got nice and crispy, but the stems were undercooked and still crunchy, which wasn’t what I was going for.  This meal was better as leftovers, reheated in the microwave and cooked through a bit more.

I’m not a big fan of radicchio, especially raw, so I was very happy that the Farm Fresh To You newsletter came with a recipe for Radicchio and Squash Pappardelle.  I adapted it to be vegan, whole grain and lower in fat.  The taste is very simple; the sweetness of the squash, bitterness of the radicchio and heartiness of the pasta play nicely together.  It would be very good topped with toasted pine nuts or vegan parmesan.

Penne with Butternut Squash & Radicchio

2 Tbs Earth Balance
2 Tbs olive oil
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
3/4 lb radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 oz wholegrain penne

Melt butter and heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.  Add radicchio, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until wilted and just tender, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook penne according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.  Add pasta to radicchio mixture with 1/2 cup cooking water and toss over low heat until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add more cooking water to moisten if necessary.

Serves 4 to 5.

To go along with the pasta, I made a raw kale salad.  I’ve read about this technique to “wilt” kale without cooking, and when I saw a recipe on the Bauman College website I knew I wanted to try it.  The original recipe was for a main course type dish, so I made it more simple and side dish-like.

Raw Kale Salad with Oranges & Pecans

This would be good with dried cranberries or diced apples instead of oranges, or walnuts or pepitas instead of pecans.

1 bunch kale, cleaned, stemmed and finely sliced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 oranges, supremed
1 cup pecans

Place kale in a large bowl.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt over kale.  Massage the mixture with your hands, kneading and squeezing until kale begins to wilt.  Add vinegar and lemon juice and toss with tongs to mix.  Divide kale between servings bowls and top with oranges & pecans.

Serves 4.

I knew I wanted to use the leeks and potatoes in a soup, and after searching through all my vegan cookbooks without finding the right recipe, I lucked out with Healthy Life Kitchen by Marilu Henner.  I bought this book on a whim because it was on super sale.  It isn’t exactly my style of cooking, and it includes fish and eggs, but every once in a while I find a nice, simple recipe like this one.

Potato Leek Soup

2 Tbs soy margarine
1 large bunch leeks, julienned
6 new red potatoes, cubed (I left the skins on, or you can peel them)
6 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt
fresh chives

Melt the margarine in a large stockpot over medium-low heat and add the leeks.  Cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until they have softened.

Raise the heat to high, add the potatoes and stock, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, about 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Transfer the solids to a blender or food processor and gradually add broth, pulsing until just pureed.  Return the puree to the pot.  Do not overheat.  Add soy milk, nutmeg, black pepper, and salt to taste.  Serve garnished with chives.

The recipe says it makes 8 servings, but for me it was 4.

To go with the soup I made the Smoky Grilled Tempeh from Veganomicon (the broiled variation) and boy oh boy was it every good.  The most juicy tempeh I have ever had.

As if the CSA goodness wasn’t enough, I got another present – my PPK December swap package!  My partner was Evan of Bjorked Off, and he sent some good stuff.

Homemade truffles, dark chocolate, mini Larabars, a photo, a cupcake postcard, Canadian maple syrup, and a pretty syrup-themed trivet that unfortunately broke in transit.  The truffles were amazing, as well as the one piece of chocolate I’ve eaten so far.  I’m not a huge fan of Larabars (can’t get into dates), but these mini bars were the perfect size for snacking without getting tires of the flavor.  The brownie flavor was good for the first bite, but after that it wasn’t very appealing to me.  The cashew cookie flavor was good all the way through.  I might even consider buying a normal size bar of that flavor.  There are people who are obsessed with Larabars though, so don’t take my word for it if you’ve never tried one!  Thanks Evan!

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Magical Roasted Fall Vegetables

I finally got around to using some of the veggies I picked up Saturday, and I decided to make some magic.  With a snap of my fingers, I turned this:

into this:

Okay, just kidding.  Between the chopping and the roasting it took about an hour.  But there was something magical about the flavor, and I’ll tell you what it was.  In addition to the olive oil, kosher salt and copious black pepper that I normally add to roasted veggies, on a whim I mixed in just a bit of apple cider vinegar and maple syrup, and I tell you what…it was a good call.  The combination of fall vegetables with the hints of sweetness and tang was so good.  I love the colors too.  They don’t come through too well under the yellow lights in my kitchen, but the colors reminded me of autumn leaves ready to fall off the tree.

Along with the veggies, I made Millet Mash from You Are What You Eat by Gillian McKeith.  I first saw her on the TV show by the same name on BBC America a couple months ago.  I really enjoyed watching her change people’s lives through diet and exercise, so I picked up the book to learn more about her program.  She has a lot of really good ideas about how to be healthy and lose weight, but it’s almost too much, for me at least.  I’m big on everything in moderation, and her plans and recipes have a very plain jane cleansing aspect.  For me it’s a good reminder of how I should be eating, and a jumping off point to expand upon.

I added leeks to the mash just because I could.  The directions tell you to mash with a potato masher.  I don’t know if I have a bad masher or if it’s just me, but after what felt like 20 minutes mashing it was still chunky, so that is how I ate it.

I liked it alright, because I like all the ingredients.  But it was definitely on the bland side.  So tonight when I had leftovers I added nutritional yeast and dill and whizzed it in the food processor.

Much better.  It’s still not the most flavor-packed side dish, but it’s healthy and I know it and sometimes that’s enough.  I don’t usually give out recipes from cookbooks, but I seriously doubt anybody reading this has the book, so here it is with my additions.

Millet-Cauliflower-Leek Mash

Serves 4.

1 cup millet
1 small head of cauliflower, finely chopped
white parts of 1 to 2 leeks, thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups water
pinch of sea salt
nutritional yeast, parsley and dill to taste

Put water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.  Add the cauliflower, millet and leeks, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Add seasonings and mash well, or blend in a food processor, adding water if necessary.

BF’s cousin stayed here last night, and this morning we all woke up hungry.  I’m calling this my big brown breakfast.

I pretty much always want to make pancakes even though I have yet to find the perfect recipe.  These were very tasty but still flatter than I want.  BF went to the store and I asked for some sort of potato product that wouldn’t take too long to prepare, and he came back with these hash brown patties that I always see in the freezer section and wonder who buys them.  Well, now we have them in our freezer!  I must say, they were pretty good.  Not exactly healthy, but as long as you bake them instead of re-frying they’re not too bad.

I’m off to enjoy a glass of warmed Silk Nog before bed, definitely one of the best parts about this time of year.

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