Archive | November, 2012

Red Wine-Braised Leeks and Mushrooms

28 Nov

As promised, I tried out one of Terry Hope Romero’s recipes from Vegan Eats World as part of The Farm Table’s cook book review and blog give away. This dish was a wonderful addition to our Thanksgiving meal last week, and topped our mashed potatoes, which we usually don with butter or gravy. What a fancy  and welcome upgrade!

Red Wine-Braised Leeks and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound leeks, preferably thinner leeks no wider than 2 inches in diameter
  • 10 oz cremini mushrooms, brushed clean and tough ends of stems sliced off
  • 3 Tbs of olive oil
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 Tbs non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
  • A few twists of freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Trim away most of the green stalks on the leeks, leaving about an inch near the white part. Slice away the tip of root end, and slice each leek in half lengthwise.  Firmly hold the leek so that it doesn’t fall apart, and rinse under cool running water to remove any grit or dirt. Place leeks on a cutting board and slice each piece into sections about 2 1/2 inches long — hold the pieces together to prevent the leaves from separating too much. If the leeks fall apart while cooking, don’t worry, but for the prettiest presentation try to keep them together.

Slice the mushrooms into quarters. Over medium-high heat, sear the mushrooms in 1 Tbs of olive oil. Fry the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until both sides are browned and mushrooms look juicy  (about 4 minutes). Remove from the pan and transfer to an over-proof dish. Sprinkle the mushrooms with a pinch of sea salt, cover with foil, and put in an oven set at 250 degrees to keep warm.

Heat the remaining olive oil and place the leeks cut side down in the oil. Brown the leeks for 2 to 3 minutes, carefully lifting them up to check and see if the undersides are seared and the edges of the leaves are browned. Pour the wine, sprinkle with marjoram and salt, and tuck the thyme sprigs into the wine. Increase the heat and bring the wine to an active simmer and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

If serving on top of white bean puree, potatoes, or pasta, mound the individual servings (about 1 cup) of hot puree in serving dishes. Divide the mushrooms on top of the servings of puree. Uncover the pan and using tongs, carefully lift the leeks and arrange on top of mushrooms. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the juices in the pan to a rapid simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and swirl the margarine into the juices. Use a wire whisk to continuously stir the sauce until smooth and lightly thickened. Drizzle a little bit of the sauce over each serving of leeks and mushrooms and serve immediately.

From the book Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero.  Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2012.www.dacapopresscookbooks.com

This dish was easy to make, delicious, and we were able to used left-over wine that was just a tad past its prime — perfect for this recipe. I encourage you to consider making it for your next holiday meal, or even better, add it to your meal plan this week. With Country Fresh Cremini Mushrooms coming in your Farm Table Garden Box this week, there is no reason not to.

I have been very pleased with the recipes I’ve tried from Vegan Eats World and Viva Vegan! over the past few weeks, and would like to thank Terry Hope Romero and Da Capo Press for allowing me to give vegan cuisine a try. I will definitely add recipes from both books to our meal rotation.

If you want to try out vegan cooking yourself, you have until 9:00pm EST tonight (11/28/12) to enter our blog give away. Details are HERE.

Sweet Potato-Chipotle Bisque

24 Nov

I decided to try my hand at Terry Hope Romero’s vegan and gluten-free Sweet Potato-Chipotle Bisque from Viva Vegan! as part of our blog cookbook give away. With the arrival of sweet potatoes in The Farm Table box, and a can of chipotles in adobo sauce that a friend left in my pantry, it seemed like the perfect dish to try this time of year. Served with warm tortillas or corn bread, you can make this bisque with whatever level of spicy heat you can handle.

I have not had the chance to cook with chipotles, adobo sauce, or coconut milk, so this was the perfect level of adventure given the amount of time I had to devote to making this meal, which was not a lot. The recipe calls for a nondairy, heavy cream substitute, which could be unflavored soy creamer, nut-based nondairy cream, coconut milk, or your preferred nondairy milk.

As always, take care when working with chiles, and do not rub your eyes!

I started out with 2 chipotles, but will likely add 1-2 more the next time I make this dish, just to bring the heat up a few notches. Terry’s bisque is the perfect combination of sweet, smoky, and heat, and my husband had no idea that it was sans the heavy cream — in fact, he was really surprised when I told him I made it with low-fat coconut milk.

I encourage you to try out what Terry calls a, “sophisticated Nuevo Latino-style, creamy dairy-free bisque.”

Sweet Potato-Chipotle Bisque

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs olive or peanut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano or epazote, crumbled
  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth, or a combination of both
  • 1/2 pound white waxy potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and diced into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and diced into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 or more canned chipotles in adobo, sliced open and seeded, plus 1 to 2 Tbs of the sauce
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream substitute
  • 1 Tbs lime juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  • Combine the oil and garlic in a large soup pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic starts to sizzle, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the onion and saute until tender and translucent, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the cumin and oregano. Pour in the water and add the chopped potatoes and sweet potatoes. Partially cover and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until both the white and sweet potatoes easily mash when pressed against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat.
  • With an immersion blender, carefully puree the soup until it is very smooth and silky. If you prefer to use a blender, make sure to let the soup cool slightly first.
  • Add the chipotle and adobo sauce and puree until completely incorporated. If you are unsure about how much heat you prefer, start with just 1 chipotle and a drizzle of adobo sauce. The soup should  now have pretty little red flakes of chipotle.
  • If you prepare with a blender, return the soup to the pot and bring to a simmer over low heat.
  • Stir in the cream substitute, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust with more lime juice, salt, and pepper if desired.
  • Stir in the cilantro, and garnish with a swirl of Cashew Crema (recipe in cookbook), if desired, and serve hot.

From the book Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero.  Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group.  Copyright (c) 2010. www.dacapopresscookbooks.com

Serves 4-5 people. 45-min to prepare, most of which is inactive while potatoes cook.

I “eye-balled” the number of sweet potatoes to cook with, and ended up making a bisque that was way too thick. The recipe was easily adaptable with the addition of extra coconut milk, vegetable broth, and lemon juice, making the consistency much thinner.

I also used Farm Table cilantro that I had previously chopped, placed in two ice-cube trays (1 tsp per cube), froze in water, and stored in a gallon size freezer bag for such an occasion as this. I added two frozen cubes of cilantro which melted quickly into the bisque. It worked perfectly, but agree with Terry that fresh cilantro would be best for a more pronounced contrast in flavor.

Leftover Bisque, Coconut Milk, and Chipotles are easily stored in the fridge.

Terry’s collection of Vegan Latin recipes in Viva Vegan! is impressive, and I look forward to trying out more from this cookbook, especially the Mexican Side-Street Corn, Arroz con Coco (Savory Coconut Rice), Spicy Tortilla Casserole with Roasted Poblanos, Mojito’s, and the Coconut Tres Leches Cake. If you would like to try a healthier, meat and dairy free take on classic Latin dishes, I encourage you to turn to Viva Vegan!

Don’t forget that you have until 9:00 pm EST on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 to enter to win either Viva Vegan!, or Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero in our blog give away

Stay tuned for one more of Terry’s recipes from Vegan Eats World, the perfect recipe for your next holiday meal which I will reveal later this week!

Vegan Cuisine meets The Farm Table: A Blog Give Away

18 Nov

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to review Vegan Eats World (2013), and Viva Vegan! (2010) by Terry Hope Romero, a Venezuelan-American, award-winning vegan chef, living in Queens, NYC, who is known for her bestselling cookbooks, including Veganomicon, and her blog Vegan Latina.

When the cookbooks arrived at my doorstep a few weeks ago, I put my boys down for a nap, made a hot cup of tea, and sat down to pour over the recipes, (I’ll take a good cookbook over 50 shades of you know what any day…).

What I appreciate most about both cookbooks is that you don’t have to be a vegan to appreciate vegan food, rather, Terry gives you the tools to treat vegan cooking as any other cuisine, opening the door to so many possibilities. Whether you are looking to get a few meat-free meals on the dinner table during the week, have dairy-challenged members in your family, are a seasoned vegan cook, or are looking to make a lifestyle change, these cookbooks give you the basic vegan cooking know-how to expand your culinary repertoire. Secondly, Terry talks to you, not at you, which makes a cookbook like this accessible to everyone.

Vegan Eats World is a collection of recipes pulling from cooking traditions around the planet, and allows you to experience Italian, Mediterranean, Asian and many other traditions in a new, surprising, and potentially more healthful way. Vegan Eats World is broken down into three sections:

  • Kitchen Cartography: a guide to vegan pantry basics, cooking terminology, and cooking techniques. Terry guides you through the basic ingredients to keep on hand for easy vegan cooking, such as masa harina for Mexican cooking, hoisin sauce for Asian cooking, cous cous for African cooking, and aleppo-pepper flakes for Middle Eastern cooking.
  • Recipes: Terry provides a basic introduction to each recipe, giving the reader a background for each dish, variations you can try out, suggested pairings with other recipes in the book — all of which entice you to try out a dish that might otherwise intimidate. The recipe section includes, among many others: spice blends, proteins, sauces, sandwiches, entrees,  and desserts. Terry even put together easy markers, so you know if a recipe is for the beginner, if it is gluten-free, or if it is easy on the wallet.
  • Menus, Online Resources, etc: Terry crafted together menu suggestions so that the amateur or seasoned vegan cook can easily round out a meal.

Vegan Eats World helps answer the question, “What if the world was vegan?” and would be a wonderful addition to even the world’s biggest “meat-and-potatoes” cookbook library, and is a fabulous option for people with gluten allergies.

Viva Vegan! reads like a novel, and I am especially drawn to it given my affinity for Latin food. The format to Viva Vegan! is very similar to Vegan Eats World, only with a guide to creating a “Vegan Latin Pantry,” and recipes focusing solely on Latin cooking (not just Mexican cooking). The cookbook offers essential “Latino Vegan” recipes like Annatto-Infused Oil or a Basic Onion-Pepper Sofrito, to Salsas, Empanadas, Ensaladas, and mouth-watering concoctions that combine what Terry calls, “Los Dos Amigos,” also known as beans and rice.

Terry has an entire section on making vegan tamales, which includes shopping for ingredients, preparing corn husks, and prepping your work station, so that this laborious food option becomes a little less intimidating. Want to make Black Bean-Sweet Potato Tamales with Farm Table produce? Terry will walk you through it. 

Viva Vegan! is also a great option for people who would like to eat Latin food, but fear that it is too spicy. Guess what? Not all Latin food is spicy, and Terry includes these non-spicy options for those who can’t stand the heat. 

There are not a lot of photos in this cookbook, so if that is something that is important to you, know that before purchasing. My two cents? The introduction she gives to each recipe, and the way she walks you through each ingredient and how to create each dish makes the amount of photos the book contains unnecessary. 

Many thanks to Terry Hope Romero and her publishers for allowing us to present these two cookbooks to you, and to offer you the opportunity to own Vegan Eats World and Viva Vegan! in our blog give away. We are also pleased to be able to share one recipe from each book, which I will test out and post here in the coming weeks! Stay Tuned!

The outcome of my first Vegan recipe from Vegan Eats World using Shiitake Mushrooms from the The Farm Table’s Garden Box  “Takeout Stir-Fry Noodles with Mushrooms and Greens.”

To enter our Blog Give Away:

  • Farm Table members get 1 entry for simply being a Farm Table member. Just comment on this post telling us you are a current Farm Table member, and which book you would prefer if you won the give away.
  • Sign up for this blog  to the right under “Follow The Tractor” to receive email updates on future posts, then comment letting us know you’ve done so. If you already follow us, just let us know in your comment.
  • “Like” us on Facebook and then comment under this post letting us know you’ve done so.
  • Follow us on Twitter @TheFarmTable, and then comment under this post letting us know.
  • Follow us on Pinterest, and then comment under this post letting us know.
  • “Like” this post and then comment below letting us know you’ve done so.

Blog Give Away Details: Each comment counts as one entry and you have up to 6 chances to enter if you are Farm Table member, and 5 chances to enter if you are a non-member. We will choose two winners at random. One winner will receive Vegan Eats World, and a separate winner will receive Viva Vegan! Entries must be submitted by 9:00pm EST, Wednesday, November 28, 2012. The give away is open to The Farm Table blog readers in the US and Canada only. 

The give away is closed.

Congratulations to Kathleen Bowden who will be sent Viva Vegan! and Jessica Clarke who will be sent Vegan Eats World. Look for your copies in the mail!

Friday Night Is Pizza Night

16 Nov

The Farm Table would like to introduce to you to one of its members, Jennifer Burns, a mother of three: Asher (2nd grade), Grace (1st grade), and Calvin (16-month old). While she is a new member this year, the fresh and local food movement has long been  a commitment  of her’s, a commitment built on a concern for her family’s health and environmental sustainability . What draws us to Jenn are the established food traditions in her family, and the somewhat laborious tasks she takes on in the kitchen (i.e. grinding her own wheat!), both of which we have great respect for.

Allow us to introduce you to this self-proclaimed ‘army brat’ who met her husband while they both attended Georgia Southern University:

After Ryan and I moved to Richmond and had our first two children, I fell down the rabbit hole of whole foods and “natural” living, and developed roots in this city without realizing it. After an almost 3 year stint away from RVA — Redemption Hill offered Ryan a position as Director of Operations — we jumped at the chance to move back to Richmond, a place we officially call “home” now. A few months after moving back to Richmond we discovered baby Calvin would be making an appearance the next summer (Virginia is for lovers, right?). Some time during all those travels I decided that being a Christian, stay-at-home health nut mom that grinds her own wheat and makes her own deodorant and lip balm wasn’t weird enough, so we home school too. 

When we decided I would stay home after our first child was born, I began reading and learning about nutrition and natural living (he was a very mellow baby — I had time to read that year). At first  I was pretty hardcore (making deodorant? Really? Yes.). However, over the years, with the addition of children and homeschooling, I’ve had to cut back on many extracurricular “natural living” type projects in order to maintain a somewhat orderly household AND my sanity. “Different people can handle different things” has been my mantra! I was so intense about food preparation, and making as much as possible from scratch to save money so that I could use high quality food, that it’s hard for me to think of the way I cook now as being labor intensive. I admit I do still grind my own wheat berries for flour, but that’s mostly for pizza dough these days. I have been buying bread (gasp!), and I make most of our pancakes and muffins with almond meal or coconut flour. I do like to make sauces and baked goods from scratch, not just for my vampire (garlic intolerant) child, but I like having control over all the little ingredients and sneaking in veggies, like beets and kale, when I get the chance.

The biggest food tradition we have (which never occurred to me as a “food tradition” before) is Pizza Night, a tradition carried on from my childhood. Nearly every Friday we make pizza and watch a movie. When other things come up and Pizza Night cannot be bumped to Saturday, my kids tend to have a hard time. It is THAT big of a deal. I’d like to say it’s because my pizza is amazing, but it’s more likely the fact that we get to eat and watch a movie…Ok, mostly the movie. They’re rarely excited about the leftover pizza for lunch on Sunday as it is not served with television. 

Pizza dough recipe found here

I decided to give The Farm Table a go this year because it sounded like what I needed. In an ideal world we would eat primarily local, organic fruits and vegetables, and pastured animal products. Unfortunately I don’t live in that world, so we do what we can, which varies day-to-day. I like the idea of farmers markets, but I get tense and flustered in crowds. Trying to make menu, budget, and grocery decisions in that sort of environment, oh! Last year we joined a traditional CSA, which I thought was my solution. I did enjoy the idea (again with the ideas) of supporting “A Farm,” thus a specific connection to “A Food” source, but unfortunately the downside of one source is that it wasn’t feasible to supply the variety that my family would be more likely to eat with a good attitude. Also, sad though it may be, running out to the pickup location with three children very close to dinner time, wasn’t exactly roses (maybe the stems…). Enter The Farm Table. I’m told what to expect the week before (so I can plan), there’s a nice variety each week, and (drumroll please) I never have to leave my house. I would say it’s been all I hoped for, but that sounds like something my overly dramatic daughter would say (but really, it has been!). There has been much less gnashing of teeth from the vegetable-challenged members of my peanut gallery than last year. 

So far the only thing I couldn’t tackle this season was the daikon radish. There’s a good bit of food that only I enjoy (cabbage, most greens….) and I deal with that by serving it once as a dinner side that week and eating the rest for my lunches. The enormous radish just didn’t work out that way. Even I, the human garbage disposal, can only eat so much radish!

As we approach the holidays, is there a family food tradition that has been passed down in your family, a sneaky way you feed veggies to your children, or another inspiring story you have to tell?  Do you have a recipe you would like to share with The Farm Table community? We want to know?  Contact us at support@thefarmtable.org with your recipes, tips, and traditions.

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing  your food and family life with us! 

Giving Thanks through Food

10 Nov

When my husband and I visited Monticello for the first time and came home with a packet of seeds from their gift shop, we never imagined the harvest that would come from this souvenir.

I mentioned several posts ago that my husband’s pride and joy from our garden this year were the Long Island Cheese Squash. He grew a little about a dozen of these beautiful pumpkins, and we have since gone on to make soup, desserts, pumpkin gnocchi, and bread with them.

We were excited about the opportunity to turn these tasty vegetables into an offering of thanks to our close neighbors who helped us with the arrival of our third child in September. Most of our family lives in the Pacific Northwest, so we relied on the kindness and support of our tight-knit neighborhood  to help us with our children while we were at the hospital bringing our now 2 month old into the world. They have since brought us dinners, desserts, homemade salsa’s, among a myriad of other thoughtful gestures. Seriously. You should move here.

How were we going to show our appreciation and gratitude? Through food, of course!

Needing a creative outlet, I decided to turn these glorious pumpkins into pies, and to bake a cake for our son’s 2nd birthday. How in the world was that supposed to happen with 3 children at home? Well, I did it over the course of 3 days, and enjoyed every minute of it. I am certain it could be done in 1-2 days, but not in this house!

I used Martha Stewart’s Brown-Sugar Pumpkin Pie recipe to treat our neighbors, and this Pumpkin Layer Cake recipe to celebrate our beautiful boy.

Day One: I halved 3 pumpkins total, scooped out the seeds, quartered them, and baked them individually, cut side up in the oven for 1-hour at 350 degrees. I placed a baking dish full of hot water on the bottom rack.

Out came this:

After cooling, I scooped  the pumpkin away from the skin and placed in our food processor.

I blended the squash for a few minutes and out came this  brilliant, bright orange, creamy puree. 3 pumpkins gave me approximately 13-cups of puree.

Day 2 and 3: I turned the puree into 6 desserts. One for each neighbor, and one for the birthday boy.

I had about 1 cup of puree left, and noticed after 2 days in the fridge that the puree lost its color, so recommend using the puree soon after you make it. It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days, or you can freeze it for a couple of months.

A local friend who attended the New England Culinary Institute, and was the head chef and manager of a Bed & Breakfast in Vermont imparted this bit of knowledge along to me, “Pumpkins that come out of the can are drained of excess moisture before they are canned. This intensifies the pumpkin taste and ensures a great pie crust. When you cook a pumpkin at home, once its out of the oven and you can safely handle it (it should still be warm), you should puree it and then put it into a strainer lined with cheesecloth – this extracts some of the excess moisture in it and intensifies the flavor. This can all be done on the counter top.”

I recommend both recipes for your upcoming holiday meals, and encourage you to purchase a packet of these happy little seeds for your garden next year. You will not be disappointed, unless of course they don’t grow. In that case — try again.

I know at least one green-thumbed friend who is getting a packet of these seeds in her holiday card this year!

What sorts of things do you make to give thanks to those around you?

Here are some suggestions I found using pumpkins:

I do believe there are Pie Pumpkins available this week as an add-on.

Hmmm. How convenient!