Curried coleslaw

I was planning to make coleslaw a few weeks ago, but my usual recipes all sounded a bit blah.  I love a good slaw with peanut or sesame dressing (good recipe here), and my MIL makes a lovely Greek slaw, but I was in the mood for something a bit different, so I turned to the interwebs, where I came across some interesting slaw variations, including a recipe for Curry Bacon Slaw.

I decided to give it a try, minus the bacon.  I had a bit of leftover masaman curry paste in the fridge (masaman curry paste is one of the few store-bought canned goods that we regularly have on hand; I usually don’t use the entire can when I make a batch of curry, which leaves some extra to mix into things (it’s great in sweet potato or winter squash soup)), and I decided to use that in place of the curry powder and cayenne (the masaman has plenty of heat for us).

While I’ve entertained some fantasies about BLTs recently, finding a replacement for the bacon in the recipe was easy enough.  I often top my slaw with toasted sunflower seeds (or peanuts for the peanut/sesame slaw).  I started with my go-to sunflower seeds here.  They work fine, but toasted cashews work even better.

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Note: In the above picture, the coleslaw is accompanied by my first attempt at a barbecue jackfruit sandwich, which will be the subject of another post.  Now, on to the recipe!

CURRIED COLE SLAW

Recipe by Melissa, adapted from Curry Bacon Slaw recipe at thesavory.com
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
Dressing
1/4 c. mayonaise
1/4 c. plain [unsweetened] yogurt (regular or Greek)
2 T. white vinegar
1/2 t. salt
1-2 t. masaman curry paste (this is the kind I buy from our local global foods store)
1/2 t. sugar
2/3 c. toasted cashews
———–
Veggies
5 c green and/or red cabbage, shredded or cut very finely (can also sub in some kohlrabi and/or turnips here)
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks (okay, to omit, but adds nice color)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

Directions
Whisk together all dressing ingredients to make a rich, thick dressing.  Taste, and add more salt and/or curry paste if desired (at this point it should taste fairly salty, since the veggies haven’t diluted the dressing as all).

Prep your veggies.  I cut the cabbage by hand and use a box grater for the kohlrabi and turnips.

Pour dressing over prepared vegetables and refrigerate at least one hour (2-4 hours would be even better) before serving.  To serve, garnish with toasted cashews.  Enjoy!

Wonderful whole-grain waffles (without the sticking)

Along with pancakes, whole-grain waffles are part of our normal breakfast rotation around here. Our waffle iron was one of the few items on our very small wedding registry (this makes it easy to remember its origin) and is a gift from my parents.

From the beginning, getting the waffles to release nicely was a tricky proposition.  I don’t know if the issue is our waffle iron, our recipe, or some of both, but until we discovered our secret weapon, the first waffle of the batch always stuck.  I don’t mean it was a little tricky to remove; I mean we were scraping chunks of what should have been a beautiful waffle out of a hot waffle iron, cursing the thing while trying not to burn our fingers and swearing that we’d never make waffles again.

This happened with the first waffle (and sometimes the second and third, to a lesser degree) regardless of how much oil we used.  In addition to the environmental issues with disposable aerosol bottles, commercial non-stick spray is not recommended for waffle irons (or anything with a nonstick coating, really), because the propellant gunks up the surface, so we used a pastry brush to apply either canola oil or melted coconut oil in between every waffle.

Subsequent waffles usually released better (except for this one time when I swear every. single. waffle. in the batch was a hot mess, as was I by the end of it), and by the end of the waffle making session, our frustration would have faded a bit, eased by the fact that we were eating delicious waffles.  But the effort required made me eschew waffles in favor of pancakes on more than one occasion.

Enter the secret weapon.

On the way back from a camping trip two years ago, we stopped to do a little shopping.  I believe we were at T.J. Maxx, and, not unusually, I was much more interested in looking at their kitchen wares than at clothing.  They had a Misto oil sprayer, which I’d contemplated before, but never purchased due to concerns about how well it would actually work.  Matthew was interested in having something like that for applying oil to the top of rising bread dough, and we decided that for ten dollars, it was worth a try.

Back home, it sat in the box for a couple of months before I actually cleaned it (to remove any residual chemicals from manufacturing) and filled it with oil.  It then took another few months for us to think to use it to apply oil to the waffle iron, but once we did, holy moly, what a difference!  Consistently beautiful, easy-release waffles were ours!

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There have been a few hiccups along the way.  Every so often, the Misto clogs and needs to be cleaned (if you have one and it is refusing to spray anything but a sad stream of oil, this is likely your problem).  You need to wait for it to air-dry before refilling and using again, so if it just happens to clog in the middle of a batch of waffles, you’re s.o.l. (yes, I learned this the hard way).  I have not done so, but I’m somewhat tempted to buy a back-up so I have a clean, dry Misto waiting in the wings for just such occasions.

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WHOLE GRAIN WAFFLES
Recipe adapted from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles

Quantities here are for a double recipe — enough to feed a crowd or freeze a bunch. Cut in half if you want less.

Ingredients
3 c. whole wheat pastry flour*
1 c. other flours (I use a mix of almond and/or cashew meal, coconut flour, and corn meal)
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. baking powder
2 2/3 c. milk
2/3 c. oil
4 eggs, separated
2 t. vanilla
1/3 c. rolled (NOT quick) oats, optional

Directions
In a large mixing bowl (big enough to hold wet and dry ingredients), sift together flours, sugar, and baking powder.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (do this first while the beaters are still clean).  Then, use the mixer to combine the milk, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla.

Preheat the waffle iron.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet.  Stir gently until just combined, folding in the egg whites toward the end.

Apply oil to the hot waffle iron, ideally with a Misto.  I spray the bottom first, add the batter (I use about 1 cup of batter per waffle; this doesn’t totally fill our waffle iron, but that’s my preference) and then spray the top just before closing.  In our waffle maker, on a “medium” setting, these cook in about 3 minutes.  If you still see steam coming out of the waffle iron, it is probably too soon!

If it does stick a bit, use something wooden to help it release (metal will scratch the iron’s cooking surface).  Place on cooling rack.

*You can play with the ratios of different types of flour a bit, but I would not go much below 2.5 cups of whole wheat pastry flour.

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We make big batches and freeze them to enjoy over a few weeks.  To freeze, place thoroughly cooled waffles in freezer bags.

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In the morning (or at snack time), let thaw at room temperature for a bit and reheat in the toaster for an almost-as-good as fresh waffle!

These waffles are fairly sweet on their own.  I usually top with butter and just the tiniest bit of real maple syrup or homemade fruit sauce; chocolate chips and cherry sauce are the topping of choice when I’m feeling decadent (and nostalgic, as that was my go-to combo when using the Belgian waffle maker in the Notre Dame dining hall).

Creamy celeriac soup

Nothing says fall is here like beautiful (or slightly funky, in the case of celeriac) root vegetables and chilly weather that invites turning on the oven to roast said veggies.

This recipe started with a desire to make a creamy soup based on celeriac (AKA celery root). Celeriac is a rather humble vegetable.

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Beneath the dirt and gnarly exterior is some good stuff.  (We sell a lot of our celeriac to Five Bistro; it’s on the menu now, in fact!)

You can always chop up veggies, boil, and puree them, but basing the soup on roasted veg really amps up the flavor.  I discovered that starting with a covered dish for the first twenty minutes of roasting, followed by spreading the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet and roasting for an additional 30-40 minutes, worked really well for both celeriac and carrots.

I used a fairly generous amount of oil for roasting and generous butter for sauteing the leeks.  This approach yielded a rich, creamy soup without actually requiring cream.

CREAMY CELERIAC SOUP
Recipe by Melissa
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2-3 celeriac, depending on size
8 carrots (you won’t use all of these in the soup, but you won’t regret having extra roasted carrots, trust me!)
1 large leek
4-5 small potatoes (or equivalent larger)
1 bay leaf
butter and/or olive oil
salt & pepper

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425° F.  Prep the celeriac by cutting off the tough outer layer, then cutting into large chunks.  In a large, lidded Pyrex baking dish, toss the celeriac chunks with olive oil and salt.  Bake in covered dish (use a baking sheet set on top of the pan or aluminum foil if you don’t have a lidded dish) for about 20 minutes.

Prep the carrots by cutting into carrot sticks.  Wash and chop the leeks.

Once the celeriac has roasted in the covered baking dish for 20 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer to an oiled baking sheet (minus any accumulated liquid in the pan).  Roast on the baking sheet, uncovered, for 30-40 more minutes, stirring once.

In the same baking dish you used for the celeriac, toss the carrots with some olive oil, cover, and roast for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, follow same procedure for transferring to a baking sheet and roasting, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes.

Chop the potatoes (large chunks), and cook with a bay leaf and 5-6 cups of water, and 1 t. salt.

Saute the leeks in butter, over low heat.

Once your celeriac and carrots are roasted, potatoes are boiled, and leeks are sauteed, you’re ready to blend.  For this soup, I pureed all of the potatoes, most of the celeriac (reserved some to chop smaller and add to the soup as chunks), most of the leeks (again, reserved some to garnish the soup), and about 1/4 of the total carrots I roasted.  Use the cooking water from the potatoes as your broth (just remember to remove the bay leaf before pureeing!).

Working in batches, blend until you have a nice, smooth, creamy soup.  Add more or less of the broth (or additional water) to reach a consistency of your liking.  Salt and pepper to taste, and add the reserved leeks and celeriac chunks.

We rounded out the meal with a side of greens and [whole wheat] bread spread with roasted garlic.  Oh, and some of the extra roasted carrots!

Stuffed peppers

One for my foodie readers (I know it’s been a lot of bike stuff lately, but that’s life!).  Anyhow, I was beginning to despair of ever having peppers, and then, voila!  Grocery bags full of gorgeous sweet peppers!

We also had a few large green bell peppers, which Matthew suggested stuffing.  I made these based on [a vegetarian adaptation of] his grandmother’s recipe.*

In the interest of not reinventing the wheel, the recipe here is adapted from the stuffed zucchini recipe I shared earlier this summer.  To make this recipe similar to Matthew’s grandmother’s recipe, simply use tomatoes for most of the veggies to make a nice amount of tomato sauce.  Thicken the sauce with a couple tablespoons of flour, which you mix in with the sauteing onions and other veg before adding the tomatoes. IMG_5805

Stuffed Peppers

Recipe by Melissa
Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

4-6 large bell peppers, any color
1 onion
6 cloves garlic
1.5 c. uncooked grain (brown rice, quinoa, millet, farro)
1 c. cooked lentils or 1 8oz package of tempeh
4-8 c. vegetables of choice (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, kale or spinach, fennel)
fresh or dried herbs (thyme, oregano, parsley)
4-6 oz. cheese, cut into small cubes (I used Havarti and Gruyere)
olive oil and/or butter
salt and pepper

Directions

1. Prep the peppers: cut off the tops, and scoop out the seeds.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Parboil the squash for 1-2 minutes (it doesn’t take long with these guys), until slightly tender.  Drain well.

2. Prep the grain.  To up the flavor, add a bit of salt, plus some onion powder and a pinch of tumeric to this step.  If you want to conserve water and energy, use some of the already-heated water from step 1 to cook the grain.

3. Prep the veggies: You want everything fairly tender and ready to eat.  Chop everything into bite-sized pieces.  Sauté onions, then add other veggies to sauté.  I used a mix of butter and olive oil, plus about 1/2 t. of salt.  If you’re using tomatoes, you can just throw the chopped, uncooked tomatoes into the filling, or cook them down into more of a sauce.

4. Prep the tempeh, if using: I basically followed the method I use to prep tempeh for vegetarian reubens, except I crumbled it up first, instead of leaving it in a slab.

5. Combine it all: In one large pan or bowl (one of the ones that’s already dirty is fine, if it’s big enough), combine everything from steps 1-4.  Toss in any herbs.  Taste for overall salt and flavor level, and adjust as needed.

6. Stuff it and bake it: Preheat [toaster oven] to 400F.  Arrange peppers, open side up, in a baking pan (for four peppers, a bread pan worked well, and allowed me to use the toaster oven).  Sprinkle halves with salt.  Add the stuffing.  Bake for 15-20 minutes — long enough for cheese to get melty and flavors to meld a bit.

*The original recipe uses ground beef in place of the cheese and tempeh.  My MIL’s veg adaptation uses all cheese.  This version lightens it up a bit by replacing some of the cheese with lentils or tempeh.  Matthew said it was good, but he still wants the cheesy version sometime.

Pesto remix

Pesto was not really part of my life until I met Matthew.  Sure, I’d eaten it before, here and there, but it was not on the list of food I consumed regularly.  That all changed the first fall that we were dating.  Matthew was gardening with his dad at a large community garden, and his dad had a BUMPER crop of basil.  I’m talking huge trash bags full of the stuff.

At that point, I was just over a year out of college, and nearly every Saturday afternoon in the fall involved my butt glued to the couch watching Notre Dame football (I still cheer for my alma mater, but both my ability and my desire to put in 4 hours every weekend in the fall has faded with every passing year — it’s just not the same when you’re away from campus.  I’m a loyal fan, but my priorities have changed a bit in nine years.)

Anyway, back to the basil.  Matthew is not a sports fan AT ALL, but he joined me on the couch most Saturday afternoons that fall (twue wuv), learning more about football than he ever wanted to know (and asking really cute questions).  But he didn’t show up empty handed.

On more than one Saturday, he arrived on the doorstep with one or two HUGE black garbage bags full of basil.  His dad had harvested whole branches, and sometimes entire basil plants.  Our mission was to pick off all of the leaves and freeze them.  Our crazy stores of frozen basil meant we could make pesto all year long, and we did.

Good pesto is not a cheap endeavor, even when you have your own basil (if you have to buy the basil, it gets even pricier).  At some point in the game, I read about using walnuts in place of [uber-expensive] pine nuts, and we would alternate, making one batch with pine nuts, the next with walnuts.

Our pesto recipe came from our go-to vegetarian cookbook, 1000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles, and was pretty standard — basil leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and salt, with some Parmesan cheese stirred in at the end (we usually just add the cheese when serving, and I often skip it altogether).

I recently made some modifications to that traditional pesto recipe, with good results.  Substituting some kale and arugula for the basil adds extra depth and a freshness that I love.  I discovered that pepitas (pumpkin seeds) work equally as well as walnuts (it’s been months since I bought pine nuts!)  There are a few methods for making pesto, but I prefer the blender.

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Basil-Kale Pesto

Recipe by Melissa
Makes 2 cups

INGREDIENTS

1 c. lightly packed kale leaves, washed, dried, and torn into small pieces
1/4 – 1/2 c. lightly packed arugula leaves, washed, dried, and torn into small pieces
2 1/2 c. lightly packed basil leaves
1 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil2/3 c. walnuts or pepitas (or a combo)
2 T. minced garlic
1/4 – 1/2 t. salt

DIRECTIONS

1. Place about half of the greens (kale, arugula, and basil) in the blender.

2. Pour half of the oil over top, and start blending, adding more of the oil as needed.

3. Once you have the first part nicely blended, add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  You may need to turn off the blender and stir a bit, and perhaps add a bit more olive oil, depending on your blender.

Notes

  • This makes a pretty large batch of pesto.  Unless you’re feeding a lot of people, plan on freezing some.
  • Many places suggest freezing pesto in ice cube trays.  I use muffin pans for freezing slightly larger chunks.  Once frozen, I put the pesto blocks in freezer bags.