I really like Mark Bittman. His cookbook How To Cook Everything Vegetarian taught me how to make eggplant that is not too chewy, slimy, mushy, or oily (dry fry it whole until the flesh collapses!); applesauce ideas (add savory flavor like garlic, cumin, or pepper!); and so much more. I regularly refer to his 2009 article “101 Simple Salads”. So of course I was happy to read his current NY Times Magazine article “Yes, Healthful Fast Food is Possible. But Edible?”.
I’ve been thinking about the differences in fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s and Burger King, which I never go to, and places like Chipotle, Potbelly’s, or Panera Bread, which I go to on occasion. I don’t have the illusion that the latter restaurants are healthful, but they do seem to be better than the former. (Plus they have vegetarian options on the menu). It was interesting to read the categories these restaurants fall into- quick serve, fast casual, premium fast casual…
I agree that food does not have to be vegetarian to be healthful, and that minimally processed foods are better options than imitation meats. I disagree, though, with his vegan friends’ argument that Americans aren’t ready for rice and beans, or chickpea and spinach stew. I think that a fast food restaurant, I mean, a fast casual or premium fast casual restaurant, that served quick lunches like that would be a hit! I would much rather have a stew, salad, or casserole made with vegetables, beans, and grains over an imitation meat product.
What are your thoughts?
Kohlrabi is kind of crazy looking, so when it showed up at the farmers market, I had to buy it. I also buy mushrooms every week. I had to decide what to make before all my spoils spoiled, so I chose a simple quiche.
Quiche might seem difficult, I guess because its French, but it really isn’t. I just cleaned and chopped the kohlrabi and mushrooms, then cooked them in the cast iron for a few minutes. I also made a pie crust, which can be hit or miss for me. This one turned out well, but I didn’t roll it out quite thin enough to make a decorative edge. To make an even quicker quiche, buy a crust. (Though really, crust doesn’t take long aside from the chill the dough at least an hour step).
Then, I put the cooked veggies into the crusts, shredded a little cheddar cheese, sliced a tomato, and whisked some eggs with soy milk.
After that, I poured the eggs in, sprinkled the cheese on and laid the tomatoes on top. I baked it for about 35 minutes, then had delicious quiche.
The key to being a great cook is being able to read and follow directions. And occasionally improvise.
Just like all my best meals, this recipe came from the cookbook Veganomicon. Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally meat and veggies in some sort of sauce topped with mashed potatoes and baked. This one is veggies and beans in a curry/coconut milk sauce topped with mashed yucca. Yeah.
I’d never cooked yucca before, and had really only eaten it in the form of Terra Chips. But it was much easier than I expected. You just have to cut it down and peel the skin.
Then I boiled it while I prepared everything else. Once the other stuff was all done, the yucca was soft enough to be mashed. When I make this again, I’ll add more soy milk or coconut milk to the yucca while mashing it. It was a little too stiff to spread on top of the veggie mixture.
The preparing everything else part consisted of cooking several vegetables including sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, bell peppers, plantains, and more along with a couple types of beans and of course spices and coconut milk. Once all the veggies were cooked, I loaded them into a casserole dish and topped it with the mashed yucca. Then, I baked it for a short time, took it out, let it cool, and indulged.
Vegan comfort food at its finest.
As much as I enjoy cooking meals with lots of ingredients and new techniques, it’s not something I can do super often. Mostly because I don’t have time. So here’s a meal I made in about 20 minutes and it was just as tasty as some that have taken hours.
I bought packaged whole-wheat gnocchi, cooked it up and added a can of Muir Glen diced tomatoes (they are way better than any other canned tomatoes, in my opinion).
Then I chopped some kale and cooked it down with salt, curry powder, and balsamic vinegar.
So easy, so tasty, so quick. I could eat kale every day. It’s my new favorite vegetable.
It started with bread. Then it moved on to bagels. Now he wants to try pretzels as soon as we get some cream of tarter.
My mom got us the cookbook Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day last November. My husband skeptically decided to try it out. We haven’t bought bread since.
The thing is, it really is just about 5 minutes a day in active preparation. There is no kneading or anything. The rest of the time is letting it rise and bake. I don’t really understand how it works, but it does!
Why am I not as into it as he is? I’m not sure. I enjoy the process of measuring and mixing, and these recipes are so simple they lack that process. I also like baking sweets rather than breads. Baking bread doesn’t interest me as much as it does him, but I am hugely grateful that he took to it. Because eating delicious homemade bread interests me a lot.
I don’t remember what cookbook I read it in, but a long time ago I found a recipe for “Fettuccine Alfonso.” This was a vegan version of Alfredo in which the sauce was made from pulverized corn, garlic, and soy milk. Maybe even some nutritional yeast, I’m not sure. I’ve made it a few times, and it’s decent. But this time I wanted a little more substance.
First, I sauteed onions, artichokes, and garlic, then added spinach. Separately, I put a bag of frozen corn (wish I would have let it defrost) into the food processor with some soy milk, salt, and pepper. Then, I heated that up once it was nearly liquified.
Then, I cooked some spinach rotini and combined everything. I topped it with grated Parmesan because I love using the rotary grater, but this could be made vegan without the cheese.
If I was to make it again, I would make the sauce a little thinner and use an extra container of artichokes. And more garlic. I’d always add more garlic.
One thing I wanted for my birthday was a cake so cool that when it was presented, everyone would clap and cheer, just like they do for the Cake Boss. Simple enough, right? So my friend Andrea decided that instead of paying a ton of money to get an awesome cake for me, she’d do it herself!
The only thing I knew about it was that it was going to be lavender/lemon flavored and that I was going to really like it. She totally exceeded my expectations, and when she presented the cake, everyone cheered and clapped. No joke!
She made the base round cake, covered it in fondant she also made herself, used a stamping tool to look like basket weave, and intertwined the rolled fondant edge. She (I think) scooped other baked pieces into 3 round spheres and covered them with fondant and fondant spaghetti shaped stuff made from like a play-doh press.
The final, though inedible, touch was the knitting needles she stuck in the top.
I can’t decide if it tasted better or looked better.
But thanks to the photos I get to have my cake, and I ate it too.
Andrea- care to comment on your work?