Tag Archives: vegetarian

The Veg Bag Game: Carrot Potato Pancakes and Veggie Fritters

potato-carrot-pancakesevery week, i pick up a two bags full of dirty straight-from-the-farm fruits and vegetables from the growing communities organic veg box scheme at hackney city farm.  every week, the contents of the bags are a surprise and an opportunity for cooking fun, experimentation, and learning. what’s the best way to cook summer squash? can i eat these cauliflower leaves? (answer: yes! recipe here). how did i end up with so many freaking oranges? are the carrots multiplying on the counter to taunt me?

to counteract the carrot invasion, i’ve been playing around with a bunch of recipes that showcase the root vegetables that always seem to be  hanging around the kitchen. go read them here on eat.drink.better and support the green blog network of green options. i’ll reprint them here in a few days. while you’re waiting, go read this excellent article by michael pollan in the sunday times magazine last week on cooking as a spectator sport. why do so many people watch cooking on tv but never turn on their stove? don’t get me wrong, i love the food network but i love playing around in the kitchen even more. it’s creative, entertaining, and most importantly, results in something delicious to eat. one such experimentation resulted in the delicious fried veggie fritter meatball thingamajigs below. who doesn’t like deep fried balls? mmmm….go cook something!

a-cup-of-fried-vegetarian-meatballs

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Easy Veggie Burger with Carrots, Zucchini, Chickpeas and Halloumi Cheese

i’m still in a bit of a recovery mode from yesterday’s rambling tea party and banquet, so here’s a post originally published on eat.drink.better.com.  it’s the first recipe in a series inspired by the what-the-hell-am-i-going-to-do-with-all-these-vegetables game i play (and very much enjoy) every week when i pick up my organic veg bags. read the original here and support an awesome local healthy eating website!

happy saturdays,

mei

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Zucchini Carrot Veggie Burger on Salad

A lot of supermarket vegetarian burgers try so hard to resemble meat that they ignore the fact that vegetables actually taste delicious in the first place. Why try to replicate a beef burger with a monotonously colored brown thing full of mysterious ingredients and even weirder textures when you can eat a vegetable burger that actually showcases the flavors of the vegetables? Here on Eat.Drink.Better we’ve seen fantastic burgers made of black beans, white beans, lentils and portobello, and and even beets! Here’s another veggie burger that’s brightly colored, packed with exciting flavors, and simple to make with both fresh and canned vegetables. Plus, it’s healthy but still deliciously tasty thanks to the freshness of just-grated carrots and zucchini with the heft of canned chickpeas and the salty tanginess of halloumi cheese.

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how to eat wild and exotic mushrooms without dying!

here’s a post of mine that was originally published at eat.drink.better, an awesome sustainable food website, as five ways to serve wild and exotic mushrooms.  all you need to eat exciting and rare mushrooms is to let someone else do the work of finding them. less effort and less likely to kill you! yay farmer’s markets for both improving and saving my life.

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I’ve always loved the idea of foraging for food, but the idea of dying from a poisonous mushroom overdose has always put me off from plucking edibles from the ground for dinner. Luckily, you can often find a carefully selected array of wild and exotic mushrooms at grocery stores or farmers markets. Sometimes, when there’s potential for serious injury, I find it’s best to leave things up to the professionals.

I found this gorgeous array of exotic mushrooms at the Sporeboys stall at London’s beautiful Broadway Market. Mushrooms are easy to cook, good for you, and have a deliciously rich, almost meaty taste that’s a great vegetarian substitute. I made a simple sautéed mushroom mix with olive oil, herbs, and cheese that tasted great on toast as well as pasta. It could also top a number of other dishes that you’ve already got in your kitchen. It’s simple, versatile, and oh so tasty…and no fear of poison! What more could you ask for?

Here’s an easy way to cook your mushrooms and a number of ways to serve them too:

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organic one-pot veggie udon soup (2 meals for under $8!) woohoo!

based on several recent posts stuffed chock-full of food porn and serious meat eating, you may think i have absolutely zero self-control when it comes to eating out, and you might be right. as much as i believe that we should all eat less meat for health and environmental reasons, i have trouble turning down a really delicious meat dish that has been sustainably sourced. and luckily (or not, depending on your viewpoint) there are ample bay area restaurants (linked above) that make it a point to get their meat from local, humane, non-industrial producers.

however, i rarely cook meat when i’m cooking for myself since it’s much cheaper and healthier to cook vegetarian, or at least mostly vegetarian. one of my goals is to make this blog at least marginally useful and share some ideas for cooking affordable, healthy, easy meals that are ideally local, organic, and/or sustainable. thus, i present the all-organic–asian-inspired-under-ten-dollars-one-pot-veggie-udon soup. word.

first, the grocery list:

organic-vegetable-udon-soup

1  package organic planet udon – $2.22

1/2 box pacific organic free-range chicken broth – $2.04

1 bunch organic kale – $2.29

1 head of organic broccoli – $1.15 (or so)

your shockingly low two-meal total? – $7.70!!!

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bittman and colbert: cheeseburgers, SUVs, and the environment.

i’m busy planning the go game event for sxsw interactive in austin next week, but here are some entertaining/educational tidbits for your day. first off, other people joining michael pollan on my list of intellectually crush-worthy public figures are mark  bittman (kickass cookbook writer and food blogger) and steven colbert (i know you know who he is). i just read and loved bittman’s newest book, the smart and straightforward food matters, which he discusses in this clip from yesterday’s episode of the colbert report:

i am a dumbass when attempting to embed things, so you can watch here via serious eats.

one of the most interesting topics covered by food matters and mentioned in this clip concerns the impact of industrial food systems, especially meat production, on the environment.  i find it interesting that this isn’t discussed much in terms of what the public can do to help affect climate change, an idea that i’d like to talk about in more detail at some point. if you’re interested in learning more, here’s an article that bittman wrote for the new york times back in january.

to distill some sound bites from the video and article,  in case you don’t have a six minute attention span, know how to read,  or you’re actually ‘working’ right now…

‘serving a family of four a steak dinner for four is the equivalent of driving around in your SUV for 3 hours with all the lights on at home [in terms of energy consumption].’

‘if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius.’

oof. pretty fascinating stuff.  we all know about driving less and turning lights off, but not many people connect meat consumption to climate change. does he mean we should stop eating meat? not at all – that’s a pretty unpopular and unrealistic idea for most people. but cutting down on meat consumption and eating sustainably raised meat would be healthier for our bodies as well as the planet. read the book!

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mission taste tour: tartine and the devil’s bread. plus, panzanella!

someone at tartine bakery must have sold their soul to the devil because their bread is fiendishly, hellaciously, fire and brimstone-y good (no, i don’t even know what that means). sure, their banana cream pies, ham and cheese croissants, bread pudding, morning buns, croque monsieurs, and just about everything they make deserve every deliciously over-the-top superlative i can think of, but their bread merits its own separate tribute. bread is oh so simple, yet oh so fucking hard to perfect. it’s just a few ingredients – usually flour, water, yeast, and salt – yet making that ultimate crusty yet chewy, structural yet yielding,  flavorful but not overpowering loaf is an absolute work of art.

i know i sound obsessive, but every person i’ve served it to starts off skeptical, chews for a few moments, then says something along the lines of, ‘i would trade one of my kidneys to eat this every day.’  i couldn’t agree more (you only need one, silly).  every time i buy a loaf to serve as an appetizer, i can never enjoy as much as i want because an entire dinner is coming. so my roomates and i planned  a dinner last week of  just tartine bread, cheese, and salad. they sell the bread only on wednesday through sunday and it comes fresh out of the oven at 5pm. i almost didn’t want to write that because the bread goes so fast, but hell, it’s on their website and everyone knows about it.  which is why all of it had been sold in less than an hour when we stopped by last thursday. GAHHH. arrow straight to the heart. they were nice enough to give us a small piece of tester loaf for free, and we bought a still-really-good-but-poor-substitute-for-tartine-bread loaf of acme cranberry walnut bread from bi-rite.

on our way back, we stopped in tartine to have a glass of wine and listen to a weekly band that always seems to include some form of accordion (bean, you’d love it) and what did we see on the counter but this thing of beauty:

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apparently it was a test loaf of fougasse, which is basically a french version of what would be focaccia in italian. i spoke to a really nice guy who works there named eric, who was taking photos of the bread. i asked if i could take a photo too, then snapped a few shots of him and the fougasse with his camera. we chatted a bit about how we’re neighbors cause he lives over the bakery, and told him about how we came home empty-handed after missing out on the day’s bread. i sat back down and then after a few minutes he came up to us and handed over the fougasse because apparently they had to get rid of this mountainous bready wonder of a test loaf.

GOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the bread score of a lifetime. we took it home, added the other tester loaf, one of my favorite cheeses – the incredibly rich and creamy king island seal bay triple cream brie (anything with triple cream is triple awesome) – as well as a really fresh mozzarella, some deliciously spicy and fruity mcevoy olive oil, and a fantastic bottle of charles creek cabernet that we got at a tasting room up in somona last week. nom nom fucking nom.

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it was like a meal you have as a kid when your parents are out of the house – i’m gonna eat whatever i want! thirty-six marshmallows, two pop tarts, a bag of cheese puffs, and a hot pocket! – except the grown up version. no thought for nutrition, balance, or even vegetables (the salad greens were ignored in the fridge) but just what tastes good, and a lot of it. the fougasse was incredible –  it had a crunchy and cracker-y crust with a thin sheen of oil and a sprinkling of salt on top, and a very airy inside without a lot of heft that the traditional loaves have. it was fantastic with the cheese (duh), but we came to appreciate its true bread-y power because of its deliciousness when standing alone with no accompanying flavors. truly awesome.

and the best part – leftovers! despite attacking the fougasse like a ravenous pack of marauding t-rexes, there was still a fair amount left at the end of our meal (note: this is not because we eat like corseted duchesses at a garden party, it’s because the fougasse started off the size of a fully grown koala bear, i kid you not). here’s an important food tip – never throw out good bread. there are tons of dishes you can make with leftover bread like ribollita (tuscan bread soup), panzanella (tuscan bread salad), bruschetta (holy shit, italians are geniuses!), or breadcrumbs for mac-n-cheese and a bajillion other dishes. just throw the bread in a plastic bag and tie it up tight for a day or two, and stick it in the oven to crisp it up when you want to use it.

the next day,  i decided to make bread salad with the leftovers, which is super easy because you can throw in pretty much any vegetable you like. tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions are standard, but you could also throw in asparagus, artichokes, green beans, white beans, any kind of bell pepper, pine nuts, olives, anchovies – basically anything you’ve got lying around in the fridge or whatever’s fresh at the farmer’s market. we went with just the basics, made a garlicky vinaigrette, and it turned out smashingly delicious:

panzanella

for the salad: leftover bread. four tomatoes. half a red onion. one cucumber.

chop the tomatoes and cucumbers into bite-size pieces and the red onion into thin slices. toss the bread in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350°, until it gets crispy. tear the bread into bite size pieces. don’t do it straight out of the oven or you’ll burn the shit out of your hands (yes, sometimes i’m not that smart).

for the dressing: one big clove of garlic, a chunk of red onion, olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper.

mince the garlic (i like to lay my knife blade flat on top of the garlic and then bring my fist down hard to smash it – boooyakasha i’m a ninja! –  then it’s really easy to peel and dice) and the red onion. splash in the olive oil and vinegars. i like red wine vinegar for the acidity and tartness and balsamic to sweeten it up. add salt and pepper. whisk everything together with a fork. the fresh garlic will give it that spicy garlicky taste that perfectly complements the richness of the olive oil and sweetness of the balsamic. mmmm.

once you’ve made the vinaigrette, pour it over the bread and veggies and toss. if the bread is very dry or in thicker pieces, let it sit for a bit to soak up the vinaigrette. enjoy!

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blood orange salad with grape tomatoes, winesap apples, and mixed greens

i’m reading a book called ‘the tenth muse: my life in food’ by judith jones. she’s the publisher responsible for julia child’s ‘mastering the art of french cooking’ and totally serendipitously, the american publishing of ‘the diary of anne frank’. i’m only halfway through, but she has so far inspired me in several ways. the first is her move to france as a young woman to find work and devote herself wholeheartedly to the understanding and enjoyment of french food. i’m also inspired by her description of french shopping and how she used to go once, sometimes even twice a day to pick up groceries to cook. none of this once-a-month at costco to buy shelves and shelves worth of bulk cheerios. they didn’t have the storage space or the fridge space to buy anything to store, so they would pick up ingredients directly from the butcher or grocer every day for dinner. while they might have come up with something unrealistically complicated, tres francais, and unpronounceable for dinner,  i say you can still pick up ingredients on the way home and be eating ten minutes later.

today, for example, a five minute salad. i bought the greens from bi-rite (aka the best grocery store ever created and amazingly located on my block) for $1.02 and some grape tomatoes. who says that mixed salad greens have to be expensive? it’s cheaper than a pre-washed bag (and less likely to be chockful of salmonella) and easier to deal with than a head of lettuce. then i grabbed a blood orange and a winesap apple from our farm fresh to you box that we get in the office (we can’t live up to the mighty full cafeteria and branded itsits of google, but we have a CSA box, damnit!) and put together a seriously delicious salad.

bloodorangesalad

salad:

a dollar’s worth of mixed salad greens and baby spinach, one blood orange, half a tiny apple (any kind), some grape tomatoes

dressing:

splash of olive oil, splash of red wine vinegar, splash of pomegranate balsamic vinegar (i happened to have these vinegars in the cupboard, i think it’s always good to have a random assortment depending on what flavors you want), salt and pepper.

it’s daunting to stop by the grocery store at 8pm when you need to eat soon, but there are tons of really fast meals you can create. it’d be easy to add some pre-cooked meat from the fridge or bread or whatever you have around to make it heartier. however, when you’ve just eaten half a castle  (confused? see below) then a really light salad is an excellent next step.

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homemade split pea soup with sundried tomatoes

i made a super easy split pea soup, which looks gorgeous with the bright red tomatoes and the creamy sauce. the cream sauce is difficult to describe in a sexy way, being a mix of whole milk, cream cheese, and cottage cheese that i found in the fridge. but i wanted some cheesy taste and something white for color, so there you go. peasoupthe soup is just garlic, onions, and celery sauteed in olive oil, then a pound of dried split peas and chicken stock. boil till tender, then break out the immersion blender, which is my favorite kitchen tool of all time (thanks jess!). that is, until someone gifts me a personalized ramen shrink wrapping machine. super easy and you can add anything you’ve got in the cupboards or fridge for color and flavor. last week i made a tomato-based soup and then threw in eggplant, artichoke hearts, and slivers of truffle cheese to make it sort of a chunky but very flavorful stew.  if you happen to have leftover savory cupcakes for dipping, you won’t be sorry…

p.s. food photography is hard. i admire all of you who do it so well. sorry for the crap photos, i’m learning…

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