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Archive for October, 2010

I know I’ve mentioned it before; but, I could consume beets every single day of my life and never get sick of them. I adore the sweet, earthy taste just as much as the rich, ruby colour (or rich gold colour….golden beets are just as lovely!). And the texture is amazing…just as nice raw as it is cooked. However, much like squash, this humble root vegetable is on Husband’s Yuck List. *sigh* Love can make life so difficult, can’t it?!

The past few days, I’ve been craving beets and have been pondering a way to sneak them into a dinner that would fly under Husband’s radar. My sister has become quite adept at hiding vegetables in all kinds of dishes-she has three young boys to trick (and feed)-and I thought about how she grates beets into stews and baked goods and thought the method might actually work on Husband. I knew I wouldn’t be able to trick him; but, I thought that if I could get the beets into tiny pieces and let them melt into a dish, Husband might enjoy them.

That’s how I came up with the idea of a beet risotto. The creaminess of the risotto would help to soften the earthiness of the beets, and the beets would stain the risotto an enticing shade of ruby. I set to work and by dinnertime, we had a stunning dish that smelled wonderful-rich and earthy, with just a hint of a tang from the balsamic vinegar I stirred in at the end. I loved this dish. I want to eat it every day for the rest of my life. Seriously. Oh, and Husband said it was the best beet dish he’s ever eaten! High praise, indeed!

Roasted Beet Risotto

-4 beets, scrubbed, peeled, and trimmed

-3 T. olive oil

-salt and pepper, to taste

-1/4 tsp. each dried thyme and tarragon

-1 T. vegan margarine

-1 onion, peeled and diced

-6 cups vegetable stock

-2 cups arborio rice

-1/3 cup nutritional yeast

-1 T. fig-infused balsamic vinegar

-handful toasted walnut halves, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the beets on a sheet of tin foil. Gently toss with 1 T. olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and tarragon. Wrap tightly in the foil and roast the beets until fork tender, approximately 1 hour. Remove the beets from the oven and let cool enough to handle. Grate the beets into a bowl and set aside.

Put the stock in a large pan and cover. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and keep at a very low simmer.

Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet with the remaining 2 T. olive oil and the vegan margarine over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until the onions soften, but not brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add two ladles of stock and stir until completely absorbed.

Add two more ladles of stock and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Repeat until you are down to the last 2 ladles of stock. Add the last of the stock with the grated beets and cook, stirring frequently, another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the nutritional yeast and vinegar. Serve garnished with toasted walnuts.

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I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! I know I did…a day filled with hiking, way too much delicious food, and Season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I didn’t take any pictures of our meal; but, I have plenty of left-overs. They may just make it into a post yet. Now on to today’s tasty topic: squash!

I am a great lover of all things squash! Husband, on the other hand, just barely chokes squash down. So, one of my all-time favourite things to eat is relegated to the “Don’t Bother” cooking category. That is until this little gem of a recipe was stumbled on. As a side-note, I happen to have a bit of a kitchen crush on Laura Calder. In her show and cookbooks, she comes across as the sweetest person and has a wonderful outlook on food and eating, even if she is a dirty carnivore *wink*. The recipe looked too wonderful to ignore; and I made a mental note to use it the next time I managed to con Husband into letting me not only buy a squash; but, prepare it for our dinner, too. Fast forward six months and the time finally came!

I had to make only one change to the recipe to veganize it (using Earth Balance instead of butter). As much as I love a challenge, sometimes, I really want the ease of just preparing a recipe as written and I always find it to be a treat when I can do just that with a non-vegan chef’s creation. I am so-so-so glad I tried this. I have never had more delicious squash! The wedges were very tender with a wonderful brown, caramelized crust on the edges. The natural sweetness of the squash was contrasted by the savoury herbs and the olive oil and “butter” added richness to an otherwise very simple, rustic dish.

And Husband’s verdict? Edible! Hey, I’ll take whatever I can get from him when it comes to squash. Normally, he flat-out refuses to even try one spoonful. With this recipe, he ate the entire serving I dished out to him…and…and he even had some of the left-overs in his lunch the next day. I served the squash with lentils and brown basmati rice and the two went very well together. The mild tasting lentils and rice served as a neutral backdrop to the colourful, flavourful squash. Now, I’ll just have to start begging Husband to let me make this squash at least a couple of times a month! Wish me luck!

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In my last post, I mentioned last week’s baking marathon. With my overabundance of zucchini, I, naturally, made several loaves of zucchini bread. The bread was delicious: moist and dense and not overly sweet. However, since I had so much zucchini, I really wanted to make something new so I started the search for a savoury muffin recipe…something that I could use for dunking in hearty soups and stews or quickly raising my blood sugar when I (inevitably) get cranky from going too long without food. There were a few that looked especially appealing; but, I finally settled on this one. My veganized version of the recipe is below.

The recipe came together quickly and the resulting muffins were just adorable. The flecks of green and yellow made me really happy. As far as flavour goes, we really enjoyed them. They had a very mild taste (I think I would increase the amount of red pepper flakes next time); but, they were perfectly lovely. They greedily sopped up the bean stew left in my bowl and they made me very content as a snack after dinner.

Zucchini Corn Muffins

-1 cup flour

-1 cup cornmeal

-3 tsp. baking powder

-1/2 tsp. salt

-1/8 tsp. pepper

-pinch red pepper flakes

-3/4 cup soymilk

-1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

-egg replacer to equal 1 egg

-1/4 cup vegetable oil

-1/2 cup + 2 T. zucchini, grated

-1/2 cup corn kernels

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 12 medium-sized paper liners and set aside.

Pour the soymilk into a medium bowl and add the vinegar; let sit for at least 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients. To the soymilk, add the “egg” and oil. Whisk together until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture just comes together. Don’t overmix. Carefully fold in the zucchini and corn.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes, then carefully remove from muffin pan and transfer to a wire rack. You can eat them warm, or wait for them to cool completely.

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