Saturday, April 21, 2007

Am I becoming a house-frau?

For those of you who know me well, you'll know I don't cook. Not that I *can't* cook. Just that I choose not to. Lucky for me, I can continue to eat because Scott does the cooking. And MAN, can that boy cook!

These last couple of months however have seen a shift in my kitchen activity. I've discovered a great site that I have been religiously trying recipes from. It's called VegWeb and it's fab full of ideas for vegetarians like us. These people are serious about their cooking and best of all, the recipes don't require unobtainable ingredients like the root of a Native American bean plant or freshly-milked-just-an-hour-ago goats milk.

Years ago, pre-vegetarian state, I wouldn't have touched a red kidney bean with a pole at a hundred paces let alone eaten silken tofu or tried soy milk. These days I know better. They're not so scary - the ingredients I mean, although vegans (def: they eat nothing that comes from anything with a face) can be scary at times.

Vegetarian food, I've discovered, isn't just lentil pies and unpalatable tofu stirfry. The recipes include a myriad of herbs and spices cleverly combined to create a delectable and highly edible and interesting range of dinner menus. Added to that fact, is the other fact that these tasty, high protein meals digest rather quicker than a hunking bit of meaty steak.

It really does make a difference in how you feel after you've eaten. No longer stuffed to the gills, you find you need less to make you feel 'full' and you have more room for chocolate after.

Ha. That's my secret. Damn, now it's out, isn't it.

This week's recipes:

Olive & Rosemary Bread (my absolute fave bread ever - so tasty and fragrant)
3 cups plain flour
¾ tablespoon of bread improver
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 sachet (8g) instant dried yeast
¼ cup olive oil
1 ¼ cups luke warm water
1/3 cup pitted black olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary spikes/leaves
2 tsp coarse salt extra.

Combine flour sugar yeast and salt in a bowl and pour the water and oil into a well in the centre. Stir to combine ‘til it comes together and turn out and knead for 4-5 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and stand in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size. Inch it back and knead again for a few minutes and form into a rough rectangle on a tray lined with baking paper. Stud the olives and rosemary over the top and leave to prove for 30 minutes. Brush the top with a little oil, sprinkle the extra salt on top and bake at 220°C (fanforced) for about 15 minutes or until golden on top.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

1 package of organic frozen spinach
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
1/3 to 1/2 red pepper (depending on taste)
1 and 1/2 16 oz packages vegan cream vegan cheese (Tofutti is good)
1/2 cup vegan mozzarella ( chopped and shredded)
3 to 5 artichoke hearts
dash of garlic pepper

Directions:

Defrost and drain the spinach well. Saute the chopped garlic clove, chopped onion, and chopped red pepper in a pan. Chop up the artichoke hearts. Mix all ingredients together.

Place in an oven safe dish or hollow out some pumpernickel bread and place inside. Bake on 325 for 15-20 minutes.

Note: the more vegan mozzarella you use the longer it needs to bake in order to get the vegan cheese to bake. Alter the amounts of vegan cheese depending on what you prefer.

Tom Yum (Thai Tofu, Coconut and Lemongrass Soup)

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

1 1/2 pints vegetable stock
14oz coconut milk (tinned is fine)
3 tablespoon chopped coriander
1 large onion chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 or two fresh chillies chopped and deseeded
1 tablespoon groundnut oil
250g tofu cut into half inch cubes
2 stalks lemon grass peeled and bashed
8oz tomatoes (tinned is fine)
half a cup dry Thai jasmine rice, cooked

Directions:

Place rice in rice cooker (or just cook rice). Place cubed tofu on a lightly oiled baking pan and bake in a medium oven for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, sauté onion, garlic, lemon grass and chillies in oil until onion is cooked through. Add tomatoes, stock and coconut milk, bring to light boil and then simmer. When tofu is cooked, (it should be a bit dried out and maybe starting to brown a little), remove from oven.

Fish out the lemon grass stalks and discard. If you have a handheld blender, whizz the soup until smooth (optional). Then add the tofu and coriander.

Spoon some rice into a bowl and top with the tom yum and serve.


Wild mushroom polenta

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

1/2 cup Portobello mushrooms, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup Oyster mushrooms, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup Shiitake mushrooms, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup dried Porcini mushrooms
1 cup medium ground yellow corn meal (polenta - yellow stuff)
4 cups vegetable stock, warmed up
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped finely
2 tablespoon olive oil
Sprig of parseley and thyme, chopped finely.
Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Soaked dried porcini in 1/2 cup hot water for 5 mins. Saute shallot and garlic in large med. deep pan with olive oil over medium heat. Grind peppercorn over the pan. Add mushrooms and toss in parseley and thyme. Cook mushrooms until liquid has evaporated. Add salt. Add 2 cups of stock to the pan, then pour corn meal slowly while stirring. Once corn meal is evenly mixed, continue stirring for 10 minutes. Add more stock if necessary. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and transfer mixture into a shallow cake pan. Bake in 375F pre-heated oven for 5 minutes until the surface feels crusty. Remove and serve in small squares. Note: Polenta can be refrigerated up to 5 days. Best served with salad. Bon appetit!!