Tag Archives: vegan

Hot Not Tabbouleh

Let’s file this one under hearty, midweek, easy, and good.¬†I made an initial version of it earlier in the week, and I was like, “Hmmm, this is pretty good for being pretty simple,” and then I made it again yesterday so that I could give it to a friend and also refine it/write about it.

wpid-wp-1425576585213.jpeg

While the first goal will be a goal-postponed – given the snow, my friend and I decided to connect on another day – the second goal is in the process now of being a goal-realized. ūüôā

As many a cook knows, many times or perhaps most or even all of the time, what you make often turns our a little different every time. This is especially true when you keep the ingredients (mostly) the same and don’t worry (too much) about the exact amounts. In this case, I knew the ingredients that I’d used the first time but not the precise amounts. I also decided to make a small spice swapperoo at the end. The result? The second version was indeed different from the first, and better.

The dish’s slightly different appearance the second time I made it also moved it a little further from how it reminded me of tabbouleh (the dish’s brown rice and spinach looked a little darker this time, I think because I used a little more tomato paste), but no matter for the name. I like the original name I gave it; it’s more interesting than calling it, say, vegetable-bean-spinach-baked-tofu rice; and in the end, it’s still a hot version of something somewhat reminiscent of tabbouleh, yet something else.

wpid-img_20150303_182245.jpg

First version

wpid-wp-1425576326478.jpeg

Second version

Hot Not Tabbouleh

The igredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped into small pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • 16 oz (1 can) light red kidney beans
  • 1 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • 16 oz spinach
  • 2.5 cups cooked brown rice (1 cup uncooked)
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 16 oz extra firm tofu
  • 2.5 Tbsp soy sauce

[Wow, 17 ingredients! That might be the longest list in this space so far. It’s possible you have all or most of them already, though. The only things I didn’t have until that first day were the spinach and the corn, which I happened to buy (frozen) on a whim while wandering Wegmans.]

The steps

  1. Make the rice. (I used a rice cooker.)
  2. Bake the tofu.¬†(Press out extra water, cut into small slabs (I made them about 1/2″ x 1″), mix with the soy sauce in a bowl, and bake on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, flipping them once half-way through.)
  3. Then do the rest. Start by sauteing the onions and garlic in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté until mostly soft.
  4. Add the red peppers and sauté until mostly soft
  5. Add the beans, corn, and spinach
  6. Add the rice, tomato paste, wine, and water. If there is any soy sauce left in the bowl, add that too.
  7. Mix everything together and cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom.
  8. Add the salt, pepper, chili powder, and lemon juice
  9. Cut the baked tofu pieces in half lengthwise, and add them to the pan
  10. Mix everything together and cook for another 10 minutes
wpid-wp-1425576294748.jpeg

Most of the ingredients

Partial progress (just after the sauté)

Just after sauteing the onion, garlic, and red pepper

wpid-wp-1425576313923.jpeg

The tofu, baked

Tofu, halved

The tofu, halved

And all ready to go

And the final dish, ready to go

If you’ve never had Hot Not Tabbouleh before (and if you made it through that last dependent clause), let me tell you, it’s got some substance to it. There’s a touch of sweetness from the corn kernels in most bites, a hint of smokiness from the chili powder, and a spinach smoothness that makes you wonder if there isn’t some melted cheese somewhere in there too.

As I was making it the first time, my general thinking was that I wanted to try new combinations of ingredients (using what I had on hand) and ultimately make something new. This included using a spice that I had only used once in a while – Chile Con Limon.

wpid-wp-1425576343544.jpeg

While I liked how the first version of the dish tasted, with the second version I decided to try another type of Chile Con Limon:

wpid-wp-1425576348222.jpeg

My main reason was I wanted to use more whole ingredients, like real lemon juice in place of what I saw on the El Monte Spices Chile Con Limon label (citric acid, dehydrated lemon, lemon juice, lemon peel, and natural flavors).¬†Of course, as I’m writing this now, it occurred to me that I should also take a look at the ingredient list on the McCormick Chili Powder label. Well, it looks like my Hot Not Tabbouleh, version two, has a small amount of silicon dioxide. Maybe, like the beans, tofu, and spinach also in it, it’ll help make certain things, if you know what I mean, more free flowing? Like it’ll loosen things up and help give a different air?

wpid-img_20150305_165917.jpg

Oh, stop, I’m just bean funny.

With my selection of a real lemon, maybe I was also channeling¬†the recipe’s second cousin, actual tabbouleh, for which lemon juice is a standard ingredient.

Whatever the case may be, the second coming of Hot Not Tabbouleh turned out pretty good. I’ll probably make it again at some point in the future – or to be more precise, I’ll make a similar¬†but slightly different version again – and that as before, it’ll be good again, and possibly better.

Rutabaga Rice and Beans

Rutabaga rice and beans.

I could also call it onion, garlic, rutabaga, tomato, salt, chili powder, cumin, and hot pepper flakes rice and beans, but that doesn’t have quite the same alliterative and exotic ring to it.

TFD dot com tells me exotic (adj.) means:

  1. From another part of the world; foreign
  2. Intriguingly unusual or different; excitingly strange
  3. Of or involving striptease

Sounds like a good a good fit!

Rutabaga is believed to have originally come from lands afar (Scandinavia and Russia), the idea of adding it to rice and beans is novel (intriguing! and excitingly strange!), and unless you like your rice¬†and beans extra crunchy, you’ll need to strip the rutabaga first along the way (that is, you’ll need to peel off its outer skin; if the Swedish turnip’s feeling bashful, feel free to give it a gentle tease).

There are a lot of ways to make rice and beans. This is one. With the tomato and spices, it has somewhat of a Spanish Rice feel to it. The hot pepper flakes then add a touch of temperature, and the rutabaga and rest combine to give it a satisfying heartiness. This recipe also helps answer the question, “What should I do with all the¬†rutabaga left over from Thanksgiving?” ‘Helps’ is the right word because, well, in my case I still have some left from the original big one.

wpid-wp-1422154602325.jpeg

Now only a few pounds left after making this recipe. Props again to the Yuengling for the size comparison.

Rutabaga Rice and Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried black beans (about 2 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 cup brown rice (about 2 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 5 garlic coves, diced
  • 2 cups diced rutabaga
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes

Steps

(Pre-step: Soak the dried beans overnight in a pot of water. Then, right before cooking them, drain the soaking water, rinse the beans, and refill the pot with fresh water.)

  1. Cook the beans until they’re generally soft (about an hour in¬†simmering or lightly-boiling water, covered)
  2. Meanwhile, sauté the the onions, garlic, and rutabaga in olive oil until soft (medium heat)
  3. At the same time, also cook the rice (20-30 minutes using a rice cooker)
  4. Once the beans are done, drain the water
  5. Then add the beans and rest of the ingredients to the sauteed onion/garlic/rutabaga mixture. Altogether, add: the tomatoes and crushed tomatoes, the cooked rice and the drained cooked beans, and the spices and hot pepper flakes.
  6. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until it starts to stick to the bottom (10-15 minutes). Scrape up and mix back in the parts that stick.

With this dish, I like the slight crunch that comes from dried beans that have been cooked. If you want, you could also use canned beans as another option.

wpid-img_20150119_1930572.jpg.jpeg

A cup of dried beans

Since the beans were cooking for an hour, I let the onions, garlic, and rutabaga saut√© for the same amount of time. You could let these go for more or less time, but here’s how I did it this time.

  • I sauteed the onions and garlic for 20 minutes
  • Then I added the rutabaga and covered the pan for another 20 minutes
  • And then I did 20 minutes more uncovered

wpid-img_20150120_200733.jpg

Then I put the tomatos, rice, and beans in.

wpid-img_20150120_201648.jpg

And then I added the spices and mixed everything together and was done!

wpid-img_20150123_193407.jpg

I told some friends at the potluck I made this for that it had rutabaga in it. For everyone else, surprise! 

I also made lentil soup with butternut squash for the potluck (when it’s at your place, it’s good to have a big pot of something; and, progress on the pumpkin front!)

But rutabaga rice and beans. What more can I say but, from another world, different, and good hot or cold. I just finished the leftovers and want some more.

Pumpkin Puree, and the Steps Along the Way

 

caption

Peek-a-boo!

wpid-wp-1421278131091.jpeg

wpid-wp-1421278150727.jpeg

wpid-wp-1421278168465.jpeg

Yes, it’s true.

wpid-wp-1421278210061.jpeg

wpid-wp-1421278221518.jpeg

I have a hallway full of squash.

Look closely, and you’ll see:

  • 1 Light blue pumpkin
  • 1 Jack-o’-lantern pumpkin
  • 3 Acorn squash
  • 3 Butternut squash
  • 3 Munchkins
  • 3 Spaghetti squash
  • 3 Cheese pumpkins
  • 1 Light green pumpkin

Altogether, it was a $23.50 haul way back in mid-October. Yes, October! Can you believe that? It’s been three¬†months, and each one of these pumpkins and squashies are still looking good, no soft spots or anything. In fact, the only thing that’s changed (for some of them) is the color.

The light blue pumpkin? From a cool blue to glow-in-the-dark orange.

wpid-img_20141020_115934.jpg

wpid-img_20150114_201958.jpg

The acorns? From a dark green to brilliant orange.

wpid-img_20141020_120050.jpg

wpid-img_20150114_203058.jpg

And the¬†spaghettis and the light green pumpkin? Yes, them too! The spaghettis¬†(now with orange stripes on their yellow skin) and the light green pumpkin¬†(with slowly-spreading splotches of orange) also got in the game. The other guys, meanwhile, the¬†jack-o’-lantern, munchkins, butternuts, and cheese pumpkins¬†(orange, orange, beige, and beige), decided¬†they were fine the way they were.

Normally when I have a higher-than-typical¬†quantity of local produce, like when I have lots of¬†pick-your-own plum¬†tomatoes from the farm, I’ll arrange them¬†on the¬†table in nice rows so they’re pleasing to look at as well as right there when I need them. I don’t recall exactly how the pumpkins found their¬†hallway home, but I remember that once they were there, the picture¬†looked right. Every day, walking to kitchen, walking to the bathroom, and walking from the kitchen and from the bathroom, there they¬†were, reminding me of how I knew it would be a good idea to empty my wallet that one¬†day at the self-serve¬†farm stand and bring home more squash (if I’m being technically honest) than I needed. I would have started cooking with them sooner if had they started going bad, but in the absence of rot and the presence of beauty, there was nothing to do but to let them sit where they were and feel myself smile as I passed.

This is also a way of saying that the first step to making fresh pumpkin puree is to buy a good-looking pumpkin and think about cooking¬†it one day. For me, the first one up from the October batch¬†would¬†be one of the cheese pumpkins. It was starting to get a few dark spots on its skin, and though they weren’t soft yet, I decided¬†it was time.

wpid-img_20150113_195155.jpg

Overall, the process is fairly simple: cut the pumpkin into pieces, remove the seeds, bake the pumpkin, let it cool, peel the skin, and process the flesh.

From my own experience and reading what others do, it seems the details that go with¬†these steps depend largely¬†on your preferences. Some people cut the¬†pumpkin in half or into quarters, while others cut the pumpkin¬†into eighths (or more).¬†Generally, the smaller the pieces are, the faster they will cook. Most people remove the seeds and strings before baking, but not everyone does. The¬†baking temperatures seem to range from 350-400 degrees, the baking times from 30-90 minutes, and the pumpkin-in-baking-dish arrangements from face-down to face-up (and for some people, also with 1/4¬†cup water in the dish along with¬†the dish covered by foil). A sufficient cooling time seems to be 10 minutes (or whenever it’s cool enough to touch). And the options for processing¬†the baked pumpkin into pumpkin puree range from cranking a¬†good ol’ Foley Mill to plugging in a food processor and letting electricity do the work. I’ve also seen a few suggestions for using¬†a potato masher.

For me and my pumpkin, here’s what I did.

First I cut the pumpkin in half.

wpid-img_20150113_195802.jpg

Then, after pausing to enjoy the fresh pumpkin smell that comes with the initial cut (it almost smells like a cantaloupe, but distinctively pumpkin), I scooped out the seeds and strings.

Then I cut the halves in half, cut the resulting pieces in half again, and ended up with eight pieces.

wpid-img_20150113_201231.jpg

The next step was to bake the pumpkin pieces. The face-down arrangement is the easiest, so that’s¬†what I went with. To do a¬†comparison, I put two of the pieces in a separate dish with the 1/4 cup of water and covered it with foil. Then I put them all in the oven for 1 hour at 375 degrees.

wpid-img_20150113_201545.jpg

1 hour at 375 degrees turned out to be just right for this pumpkin. When I poked the pieces at that point with a knife and the knife went through easily, I knew they were done. The two baking dish arrangements also worked out well, with similar results.

wpid-img_20150113_215419.jpg

Two of the face-down pieces after baking

After letting the pumpkin pieces cool for 10 minutes, I peeled the skins.

wpid-img_20150113_225418.jpg

And then I got out the Foley Mill.

wpid-img_20150113_230708.jpg

This is one of my favorite steps of the process, as there’s a certain mechanical pleasure that comes with¬†turning the mill. The ability to transform¬†pumpkin flesh into pumpkin puree, using only your own power, is also one of those fun forms of culinary magic. If you’re ever at a rummage sale and see one, it could very well be one of the best $1-2 investments you make all¬†day.

Once you have the mill, the only other thing you need is a pot to put underneath it, to collect the puree.

wpid-img_20150113_231658.jpg

On this day, the one cheese pumpkin produced close to a full pot of puree.

wpid-img_20150113_232405.jpg

wpid-img_20150113_232552.jpg

I’ll estimate the it’s¬†about 4/5 full, and given the size of the pot (2 1/2 quarts), that means I made¬†64 oz of fresh pumpkin puree, or the equivalent of more than four¬†15-oz cans!

Now all that’s left to do is make some pumpkin pie! And pumpkin soup, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and pumpkin recipe yet to found or suggested. If you know of a good one, let me know! There is a good chance I’ll have enough pumpkin to make it ūüôā

Hello World! It’s Gooda Bartha to meet you!

Hello! It’s Gooda Bartha to meet you!

I’d been thinking of starting something¬†like this for a while now, and today’s the day it’s happening! Are you ready too?¬†Let’s¬†go! It will be a story in words and pictures, a mix of food and life. And even if¬†it doesn’t always turn out as planned or hoped for,¬†it’ll still be good.

Gooda Bartha

Gooda Bartha! But how did you end up looking so good??

So I had Good Bartha (Zucchini puree) for the first time three years ago, and it was one of those times when after tasting it, I thought or said something like, Wow, that’s really good, that’s amazing, let me finish this so I can have some more. I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Illinois at the time, and my uncle was cooking. I think he made¬†rice and dal that night too.

I got the recipe from my uncle a few weeks ago, and now it was my turn. Time for some re-creation recreation.

Gooda Bartha (Zucchini puree)

  • 1 lb zucchini (about 2)
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 teasp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teasp black mustard seeds
  • 1 fresh green jalapeno chili
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 teasp salt
  • 1/2 teasp chili powder
The players

But it says 2 zucchini, 1 chili, and 1 onion! That’s okay – let’s make it a double!

Yes, that’s what I’m talking about. Dinner tonight, lunch tomorrow!

The players, more prepared

The players, now more prepared

Here’s how¬†to get everything ready:

The zucchini gets chopped,
the onion gets sliced, and
the chili gets seeded and sliced.

And here’s what to do in five easy steps:

  1. Put the zucchini in a saucepan, and cook with water until soft. (I used 1 cup water for 4 zucchini, and I covered the pan to have it cook faster.) Then drain the water, and mash.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan, and fry the cumin and mustard seeds until the mustard seeds crackle.
  3. Add in the onion and chili, and cook until the onion is soft. (I covered the pan again during this step.)
  4. Add in the mashed zucchini, salt, and chili powder, and cook uncovered for 5 minutes or until the liquid evaporates.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    (Recipe modified from “The Complete Asian Cookbook” by Charmaine Solomon)
Zucchini, ready to go

Zucchini, ready to go

Zucchini mashed up

Zucchini mashed up

Seeds in the pan

Onion and chili added

Onion and chili added

All together now

And now, ready to be introduced:

On the plate

Gooda Bartha close up

Gooda Bartha, with friends

I also made¬†some friendly beaners while I was cooking and let them join the party too. They’re¬†the red and black you see balancing out the picture.

And in the end? It was pretty good! My uncle’s was better (at least according to my memory), but that’s okay. I can compare notes and do some cooking with him the next time I’m in Illinois. Lucky for me, that next time is going to be in two weeks, when¬†I head out¬†there to do the Illinois Marathon and see my aunt and uncle and brother.

I’ll see you later too¬†– here are some Gooda Bartha seeds and spices to chew on until then.

Cumin seedschili powdercumin seedssalt