Toad's Kitchen

(mostly) healthy recipes for the family

Archive for the tag “vegetarian”

Stilton and Potato Gratin with Chanterelles

I recently bought a massive chunk of lovely Stilton at Costco, as well as some chanterelles. Eyeing my bag of spuds at home, I knew I wanted to do something using these ingredients. Lo and behold, on cookthink.com, there was such a recipe. It contained, however, a fair bit of whipping cream and while the recipe sounded lovely I did want to have something a bit healthier…besides, truth be known, I didn’t have any whipping cream, but I did have some sour cream…  😉

Here is my spin on the recipe – it was a resounding success. You could certainly use other mushrooms and any kind of blue cheese for this. Also, it could be made without the sour cream, using a total of 2-1/2 cups of broth – it would not be quite as rich but I expect it would still be delicious. It is easy to put together and impressive-looking when baked.

The flavour of the Stilton really mellows, kind of the way anchovy does, in this recipe – making it a dish that could be served to someone who does not necessarily like the assertive taste of blue cheese on its own but just wants a hint of “blue”.

1 1/2 cups crumbled Stilton (yes, that much)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup sour cream
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound chanterelles, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
2 pounds waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Extra Stilton, for sprinkling on top (if desired)

Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease a large rectangular baking dish.

In a medium bowl, with an immersion blender, blend together the Stilton and 1 cup of the broth until well combined. Then whizz in the rest of the broth, the sour cream and the salt and pepper.

In a large saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. When the foam of the butter subsides, stir in the chanterelles. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the fresh herbs over the mushrooms and continue cooking until the mushrooms absorb most of the liquid, 5-7 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the potatoes. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a single, overlapping layer of potato slices. Pour a third of the cheese mixture over the potatoes. Layer the mushrooms over the cheese mixture. On top of the mushrooms, pour another third of the cheese mixture. Cover the cheese mixture with the rest of the potato slices and then pour the rest of the cheese mixture on top, distributing evenly. If you are sprinkling with extra Stilton, do it now.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 400F for 30 minutes. Take off the aluminum foil and bake the gratin uncovered until the potatoes are cooked through and the cheese on top is lightly browned, 25-35 minutes.

This would be excellent with steak or roast beef, but was delicious as a vegetarian main course with simply cooked green veg on the side. Either way, red wine is a must with this 😀

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Seitan Worship…not for the gluten-free

As we shift more and more back to being vegetarians, I have decided to experiment a bit. When we were in Montréal in the summer, I had seitan for the first time in my life. To be honest, I was a bit sceptical and my expectations were not super high. We were in an amazing Thai food restaurant, ChuChai, and I should have known better by the quality of the food we had already been served – exceptional! Anyway, one of the dishes our group ordered was a spicy “duck” dish…I was enthralled. Very duck-like, without the loss of any quackers. Totally guilt-free!

Now back at home, I decided to try to make my own seitan. Seitan is also known as “mock meat”, as its texture is more meat-like than tofu and through different seasonings, it can be made to mimic most meats. Realistically, it is not exactly the same as meat, but it is a tasty, and guilt-free, alternative. It can be made using regular flour, but that process involves washing the flour repeatedly to remove the starch, leaving the gluten. The gluten, when the seitan is cooked, is what gives it the chewy, meat-like texture.

I found this excellent recipe at the Post Punk Kitchen vegan site: http://www.theppk.com/2009/11/homemade-seitan

IsaChandra’s recipe seemed to me to be the most straightforward and easy to follow. There are also many helpful suggestions in the comment section below.

I will repeat IsaChandra’s recipe below, with some suggestions following with what to do with your homemade seitan.

“1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup cold vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater

For the simmering broth:
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce

Fill a stock pot with the water, broth and soy sauce, cover and bring to a boil.

In the mean time, in a large bowl mix together gluten and yeast. In a smaller bowl mix together broth, soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Pour the wet into the dry and combine with a wooden spoon until most of the moisture has absorbed and partially clumped up with the dry ingredients. Use your hands and knead for about 3 minutes, until it’s an elastic dough. Divide into 3 equal pieces with a knife and then knead those pieces in your hand just to stretch them out a bit. Let rest until the broth has come to a full boil.

Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer. Add the gluten pieces and partially cover pot so that steam can escape. Let simmer for 45 minutes, turning occasionally. Turn the heat off and take the lid off, let sit for 15 minutes.

Remove from broth and place in a strainer until it is cool enough to handle. Slice and use as desired.”

Okay, it’s me again…first of all: DON’T throw the broth away. Store your seitan in it, and use it as you would any stock/veggie broth in your recipes.

This recipe, making three seitan sausage-like pieces, will make 6 servings.

It does look a little unappetizing in its newly poached form, but for recipes you cut it into slices, cubes, etc.
Now you have made your seitan, you can use it right away or store it in your fridge – I would think storage for up to a week is a reasonable amount of time.

My first attempts at cooking it in recipes, both successes, will be posted separately.

Be brave! I am sorry I brushed it off for so long. I am not a super-huge fan of tofu (not that I dislike it, it is just never my first choice), but I do like seitan.

Faux Pissaladière

I love this time of year because of the masses of ripe fruit and veggies just waiting for something creative to be done with them! I also like saving time…so, with our bumper crop of tomatoes staring me in the face, I had to think of another way to eat them besides salads, pasta sauces, yada yada…then I remembered having this amazing dish, Pissaladière, in the south of France! I did not feel like making the traditional yeast base, or a pastry base, and came up with this “faux” option. It captures the flavour that I so fondly remember.

Being the cheater (sort of) that I am, I defrosted a package of puff pastry and got busy. This recipe highlights the fresh tomatoes, and is a perfect lunch or supper treat. Hope you like it 🙂

1 package puff pastry, defrosted
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a bit more for drizzling
2 medium or 1 large onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence, plus a bit more for sprinkling
anchovy paste, about 1-1/2″ squeezed out of the tube (or good pinch sea salt, if you hate anchovies)
3-4 large garden tomatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick (or enough to cover entire area of pastry)
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup good black olives, pitted and chopped up

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Take puff pastry and roll out really thin, about the area of a large pizza. Place on a cookie sheet (I use a large pizza pan). Make it a sort of uniform shape by cutting and pasting the scraps, and pinch a small edge around the outside.

Pierce it in a fork to stop it lifting too much when it bakes, and place in the oven for 10 minutes to pre-bake.

While crust is pre-baking, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent and fragrant. Stir in the 2 tsp. Herbes de Provence and anchovy paste (or salt, if you must), mixing well to make sure anchovy paste dissolves completely and is distributed thoroughly.

After ten minutes is up, remove puff pastry from oven and gently push it down with a spatula if it is puffy (it probably will be). Distribute onion-garlic mixture over it to the edges. Arrange tomato slices in a single layer on top, overlapping just slightly so the entire top is covered with one thin layer of tomato. Using different coloured tomatoes makes it look extra pretty!

Sprinkle olives over the top, sprinkle with a bit more Herbes de Provence, grind black pepper over it. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Bake 20 minutes more at 400 degrees. The pre-baking will ensure that the crust stays crispy. This can be eaten hot or at room temperature.

Enjoy with a salad, if you like, and a glass of French red, of course!

Pretty (and) Fresh Yellow Tomato Sauce

I spent most of today canning…I canned yesterday and will be doing so again tomorrow. I love all the fresh stuff from the garden and the farmers’ market, and want to take as much advantage of it while it is still around! I really didn’t feel like now turning around and cooking a full-on dinner…as much as I love cooking, I want a little break!

So…I looked around to see what I had…I have some crab ravioli in the freezer, which deserve a nice sauce. Something special, but easy. I continued looking…I had some pesto and some homemade ricotta in my fridge (check out my recipe!), some lovely yellow tomatoes from our garden, some garlic and onion on the counter….I think you are getting the idea 🙂

This sauce is a bit different from the usual tomato sauce in that while the taste is similar to a red tomato cream sauce, the colour is a lovely, primrose yellow with a tinge of green from the pesto. The ravioli are striped red-and-white so will look very pretty with it!

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large yellow heritage tomatoes, chopped (about 500g or so)
about 3/4 cup of my ricotta cheese (my recipe has fat in it, I don’t know if low fat ricotta would be as nice in this recipe)
3 heaping tablespoons basil pesto, or to taste
liquid to wet – about 1/4 cup (I used coffee cream because I had some hanging around, but chicken broth, water, or white wine would all suffice)
good pinch sea salt
generous grind black pepper

Heat olive oil in a heavy frying pan. Saute onion and garlic a couple of minutes, until starting to soften and become translucent. Add the tomatoes, and cook for a couple of minutes. They will give off some liquid.

Now add the ricotta cheese, liquid, and pesto. Already it is starting to look interesting!

Now tip the lot into a mixing bowl, take out your trusty immersion blender and whiz it until smooth.

Replace in the pan, season to taste with salt and pepper, and heat gently as your pasta is cooking.

This took a grand total of about ten minutes to bang together…now to relax 😀

Mmmmushroom Mmmmmoussaka

Moussaka is delicious in its various forms, which almost always include meat. This version is equally wonderful, very flavourful and satisfying, and we allow the little lambs to frolic another day.
It is not difficult to make but it is a bit time consuming to make in one go. Try to make the time for it, though…it is totally worth the effort!

2 medium-sized eggplants
salt
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
grated Parmesan (about 1/4 cup) OR about 1 cup of the pre-grated “pizza mix” cheese
4 medium potatoes, boiled and cooled, then sliced about 1/4″ thick (optional)

Mushroom/Tomato Sauce:

3 tbsp. olive oil
750g chopped mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
lots of freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry red wine
6-7 fresh tomatoes, chopped coarsely (could use 19-ounce can of diced)
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Cheese Sauce:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups cottage cheese

Cut eggplants into 1/4″ slices crossways,layer in colander over bowl or sink, sprinkling each layer with salt. Let stand for 30-60 minutes. This removes excess water, and prevents that bitter taste eggplant sometimes has.

In the meantime, prepare the sauce. In a large frying pan, fry the mushrooms, onion and garlic in the olive oil until softened. Mix in the remaining ingredients except parsley, and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated – when you draw a spoon along the bottom of the pan, the sauce will not fill in much when it is ready to use. This will take a while. When it is done, stir in the parsley and set aside.

While the mushroom-tomato sauce is reducing, make the cheese sauce. Make a roux with the butter and flour, whisk in the milk over medium-low heat and cook until it is thickened and smooth. Stir in the cheeses, then the eggs (add eggs last so they don’t start cooking – the mixture will have cooled with the addition of the cheeses).

Turn on the broiler element in the oven.

Drain and rinse the eggplant, and pat dry. Brush with olive oil and set on baking sheet. Broil until translucent and golden, turning once – about 8-10 minutes total.

Change the oven to heat to 350 degrees.

Now to assemble: spread half the mushroom-tomato mixture in a greased deep 9×13″ pan/lasagna pan. Dab a little cheese sauce over this (about 1/4 of it), distributing evenly. Layer half the eggplant over this, overlapping if necessary. Repeat layers (adding a layer of sliced potatoes in there if using), and end with a nice deep layer of cheese sauce. You can cover and freeze it at this point if you like. Top this layer with either the grated parmesan, or the cup or so of pizza cheese, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Bake for 60-70 minutes in oven, or until browned and bubbling. Let stand for 15 minutes or so, then cut into squares. Will make about 8 servings. A nice red wine, a simple green salad and crusty bread make nice accompaniments 🙂

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage, Cambazola and Pine Nuts

Again, I was drifting through my Nigella Lawson books and came across this recipe in her Nigellisima book. It is actually a variation of one of the variations given in her original recipe (I used Cambazola instead of the gorgonzola she suggested, as it was what I had), peeled the squash and I cut the sage into ribbons rather than using whole leaves as she did….still, so simple, and absolutely delicious.

1 large butternut squash, peeled and seeded

2 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 sprigs fresh sage, leaves only, cut into strips

3 tablespoons pine nuts

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/3 cup Cambazola cheese, cut into small pieces

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Chopped parsley to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut squash into chunks about 1″-1-1/2″ square. Toss pieces of squash in the olive oil with about 2/3 of the sage, salt and pepper, and place into a casserole dish.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until squash is golden brown and tender.

Squeeze lemon half over top, and sprinkle cheese, remaining chopped sage and pine nuts over top. Mix gently so the squash pieces stay intact but the cheese melts and distributes through the squash evenly, with the other ingredients. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Makes 3-4 servings.

“Fried Rice”…made with quinoa!

One of my favourite sites, http://www.eatliverun.com, is a never-ending source of delicious and fun recipes. The blogger, Jenna, is a chef with a wonderful and carefree style that I love to read. Her recipes are awesome! This recipe was posted recently and I just HAD to make it…of course, I did make a couple of very minor changes to her original recipe due to what I had in my fridge and personal preferences…I know, I know, there wasn’t any garlic in the original recipe so I put some in. The original recipe also called for snow peas, which would be lovely but were not hanging around in my fridge, so I subbed celery which was tasty. I also added the mushrooms, but everything else is as the original recipe.

Other veggies could be substituted. If chicken or shrimp were added, I am sure they would taste great, but frankly this is so good as it is with just veg and eggs, it does not really need anything else. It is also a good, protein-y dinner.

This is so quick and easy and as Jenna said, “seriously a power meal!”

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal

2 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced small

4 large mushrooms, sliced thinly

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon coconut oil, divided

1 tablespoon fish sauce (don’t leave this out – it lends a beautiful flavour)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

 

Combine quinoa and water in medium saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook 12-15 minutes, or until quinoa has absorbed all water. Once cooked, remove from heat, and fluff with fork.

Place half of the coconut oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Once oil is hot, pour eggs into pan and let cook until almost set (don’t scramble, just leave them). Remove onto plate while still surface of eggs is slightly runny. Put remaining coconut oil in pan, and add chopped veggies. Stir fry for about three minutes or until veggies are barely tender. Add quinoa to pan and mix together with veggies. Add eggs back in, breaking into pieces. Finally, stir in the sesame oil, fish sauce and soy sauce and mix well.

All done! Serves four (or fewer greedy) people 🙂

 

Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Kale and Pine Nuts

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of dining at Rebar in Victoria, BC. It is a cute little vegetarian restaurant with inspired dishes and an amazing cookbook (which was conveniently for sale at the restaurant)! I ate a dish similar to this dish, which was one of the evening’s specials and is not actually in the cookbook. When researching online to find something similar to use as a starting point, I did find this one from the Food Network, but tweaked it a bit because I can’t help it. The result was delish and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, cut in slices

1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh sage

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (about 6 cups)

1 17.5-ounce package potato gnocchi

juice of half a lemon

1 cup grated cheese (I used “pizza cheese”, the bagged blend of shredded mozzarella, parmesan, provolone and gouda)

2 tbsp. pine nuts

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion until it is soft and golden. Remove from pan and set aside. Add another tablespoon of butter. When melted, add the squash and cook, stirring, until slightly soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, sage, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper; cook until the garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Add the vegetable broth to the skillet. When it starts to simmer, stir in the kale and cook until it wilts slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the gnocchi, stirring to coat. Cover and cook until the gnocchi are just tender, about 5 minutes or so, stirring halfway through to ensure all gnocchi are cooked through. Uncover and stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese, lemon juice, and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter.

Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and pine nuts; transfer to the broiler and cook until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes.

That’s it! So yummy!

Real men do eat Quiche…contrary to popular belief

When quiche was beaten to death in the 70’s, along with Harvey Wallbangers and Caesar Salad, part of the backlash was the comment, “real men don’t eat quiche”.

My experience says otherwise, but only if it is delicious and especially if it does not contain Miracle Whip and canned shrimp. *gag*

Quiche is an easy and fast dish which is appropriate for lunch or brunch, dinner, a family dinner or when entertaining. It calls for ingredients most of us have on hand so is great to whip up when your fridge is looking a bit empty. It is equally delicious in its vegetarian versions.

This recipe is a basic, more-or-less classic recipe which is easy to fiddle around with – sub out the bacon with some nice sausage, or leave it out completely, using a bit of butter and olive oil to brown the veggies. Mix and match the veggies (asparagus and red pepper are pretty)! The type of cheese you use is a personal choice also…cheddar, Gouda, Jarlsberg, even cream cheese are all yummy (bump up the seasonings with cream cheese or it will be bland). The proportions are what should be observed, and you should end up with a delicious dish that needs only a green salad to accompany it (and of course, a glass of wine…) 🙂

The type of pastry can be varied as well. I like using the puff pastry available in the frozen section of the supermarkets which saves me time and tastes just fine. You can use your favourite pastry recipe if you prefer – I did for years. However, I find puff pastry perfect for this. The rough, uneven edges make a lovely, rustic-looking crust and is so easy to keep on hand in the freezer.

 

one package frozen puff pastry, defrosted (or use pastry of your choice for crust)

75g (about 3-4 ounces) bacon, chopped – or pancetta or fatty smoked “speck” (optional)

1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil (if not using bacon)

1 onion, chopped

250-300g/8-10 ounces or so coarsely chopped mushrooms (brown ones are nice)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup whole milk or cream (or mixture)

4 eggs

1/4 cup sherry, vermouth or white wine

1 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and dry mustard powder (“Colman’s” or “Keen’s”)

2 tbsp. or so minced parsley (optional)

salt and pepper

1 cup grated Gruyère or “Swiss” cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place sheets of puff pastry on quiche dish (or flan dish), pressing seams together and trimming edges. Use trimmed pieces to “fill in” the edges – don’t worry about making it look perfect as it will puff when cooked and look fabulous. If using your own pastry, line pan and flute edges.

I recommend pre-baking the crust a bit, before adding the filling. When oven is fully heated, bake empty puff pastry shell “blind” for 10 minutes. You can put weights in it if you like to stop it puffing up…or as I do, after you remove it from the oven, let it cool a couple of minutes and press it very GENTLY (so as not to rip it) back down flat again. Do not mash it, handle it very lightly.

While pastry is pre-baking: in large pan, fry bacon (or your choice of meat) over medium heat until fat begins to render out and it begins to brown. Alternately, if not using bacon, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms and cook all until brown and delicious.

While veggies are cooking, whisk eggs, milk/cream, sherry or alternative, and remaining ingredients *except the cheese* together.

Take cooked vegetables (and bacon if using) and distribute over prebaked puff pastry. Pour egg mixture over, nudging veggies with spoon to ensure that it is evenly distributed. Then sprinkle your cheese evenly over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees or until a knife inserted halfway to the centre comes out clean. Let quiche sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting. As stated above, this needs only a salad (or simply cooked vegetable) on the side for a lovely meal. Wine optional, but recommended 🙂

Delicious Yam, Red Pepper and Spinach Salad

I recently discovered “Eat Clean” food and fitness author Tosca Reno. Her “Eat Clean” style of cooking is delicious and inspired. Although I can’t quite do egg-white omelettes yet – the yolk is my favourite part! – I have been incorporating her style of cooking into a lot of our meals. I recommend her cookbook, the recipes are easy to follow and her choices of ingredients unusual and yummy. I made this salad of hers, and as usual had to mess with it slightly. I found the seasonings just a little on the shy side, so I upped them a bit. The contrast of colours and tastes (sweet and sour) are wonderful. The results were both colourful and delicious, and I thought I would share 🙂

1 large or 2 medium (orange!) yams, peeled and diced into 1/2′” cubes (about 4 cups’ worth)

1 large red pepper, cut in 1″ chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 cups fresh spinach

Dressing:

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 large clove garlic, minced finely

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon honey

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss yam cubes and pepper pieces in olive oil until coated. Sprinkle with cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper and toss again. Spread onto baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until yam cubes are fork-tender. Let cool.

Whisk dressing ingredients together in small bowl.

Place cooled yam and pepper in salad bowl. Toss with dressing. Incorporate spinach leaves, tossing gently.

Serves 4-6 as a side salad, or 2 as a generous and tasty main course 🙂

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