Category Archives: vegan

Recipe: Watermelon “Popsicles,” World’s Easiest Frozen Dessert.

Standard

Good Evening:

Someone must have already thought of this. It’s too simple.

Start with a few slices of watermelon, about 3/4 – 1 inch thick. Your only ingredient.

DSCN1648

Cut each slice into quarters, like this:

DSCN1654

Stick the plate, uncovered, into the freezer for several hours and let the chunks freeze solid.

That’s it. You’re done. The texture is amazingly similar to frozen fruit popsicles, and you get a strong hit of watermelon flavor. In addition to dessert, you may use these to cleanse the palate between courses of a multi-course dinner. I’ve experimented with other melons, and Canary Melons are almost as good, but watermelon remains the best.

Vonn Scott Bair

Advertisements

Recipe: Three Basil-Mint Pestos, One Vegan, Two Vegetarian.

Standard

Good Evening:

In my previous post, I described how I dealt with an overabundance of mint. But before I had the overabundance of mint, I had an overabundance of mint–plus an overabundance of basil.

Presenting how I got rid of that in a manner most pleasing to the stomach: Pesto.

Pesto does not require basil and only basil, plus pine nuts and only pine nuts. It does not even require Parmesan cheese. Whilst the famous Pesto Genovese includes all three, multiple variations exist. For example, the Provencal “pistou” is a Genovese with no cheese or nuts. You should feel free to invent your own.

Basil-Mint Cheese-less Pesto

I began with these ingredients:

  1. 2 cups of Basil leaves
  2. 1 cup of Mint leaves
  3. 3 cloves of Garlic
  4. 1/4 cup of shelled Pistachios (yes, Pistachios)
  5. 1/4 cup of slivered Almonds (a more traditional substitute)
  6. 3/4 cup of Olive Oil

Put the first five ingredients into a food processor, and pulse until everything is finely chopped. You will need to pause and scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Now leave the process on and slowly add the olive oil until all is incorporated and thoroughly blended.

Remove one-third of the Pesto, put in an airtight jar, and refrigerate. That is your first pesto recipe.

Basil-Mint Asiago Pesto

New ingredient:

  1. 3/4 cup freshly grated Asiago (you don’t even need the “right” cheese!)

Add the cheese to the pesto remaining in the bowl and pulse until thoroughly blended and incorporated.

Remove one-third of the Pesto, put in an airtight jar, and refrigerate. That is your second pesto recipe.

Basil-Mint and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

New ingredient:

  1. Six ounces of jarred sun-dried tomatoes in oil, with the oil. Seriously.

Add the tomatoes to the remaining pesto in the bowl and pulse until the sun-dried tomatoes are thoroughly chopped, blended and incorporated.

Remove the remaining pesto, put in an airtight jar, and refrigerate.

Now all you have to do consists of combing the online websites for cool new recipes calling for any kind of pesto! Sorry, I can’t help you with that, but it is a fun activity.

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Lemon-Mint Chimmichurri.

Standard

Good Evening:

The thing is, the vendors at farmers markets must sell you much bigger bunches of fresh herbs than you actually need. They don’t have a choice; either that, or their produce spoils on the farm.

So yes, I knew what I got myself into when I purchased an innocent “little” bundle of mint leaves at the Civic Center Farmers Market. Even after using too much for the recipe in question, I still had vast quantities leftover and needed something different from making 50 gallons each of iced tea and lemonade (the traditional solution in New England).

Therefore I committed blasphemy. Chimmichurri is a magnificent Argentinian condiment made with fresh parsley, sometimes with either fresh cilantro or oregano added, plus garlic, olive oil, and white vinegar. I still had over a half cup of mint leaves leftover, and desperate to use all of a very fine quality batch, I developed this recipe instead.

Lemon-Mint Chimmichurri

Ingredients

  1. Two cups of parsley leaves (save the stems for soup stock)
  2. 3/4 cup of mint leaves
  3. 1 garlic clove
  4. Finely chopped zest of one small Lemon
  5. 3/4 cup of olive oil (you can splurge with the high-quality stuff)
  6. Salt and Pepper to taste
  7. Juice of one small Lemon

Process

Place the first 6 ingredients in a food processor. Pulse to chop, frequently pausing to scrape down the sides, until everything is finely chopped and blended. Add one-half of the lemon juice and pulse again a few times. If sufficient, save the other half for another use. If not enough, add the other half and pulse again a few times until everything is blended.

What foods go well with this?

Hundreds of them. It’s astounding how well this worked out. Chicken, pork chops, grilled vegetables, a dip for fresh vegetables, a dip for grilled shrimp, a marinade, a salad dressing, a sauce for egg noodles, a sauce for diced summer squash and halved cherry tomatoes (uncooked)–Lemon-Mint Chimmichurri works on almost every entree. Someone else must have discovered this before I did, because it’s just too dang good not to already exist.

It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Let it reach room temperature before using.

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Triple-R Onions.

Standard

Good Evening:

Like my cheddar and creme fraiche recipe, this dish also works in a variety of contexts: side dish to the main course; topping for burgers, turkey or chicken breasts, steaks or sandwiches; pureed, it becomes a sauce.

Triple-R Onions: Red Onions in Red Wine and Rosemary

Ingredients & Equipment

  • 1 extremely sharp French Chef’s knife
  • 2 Red Onions, combined weight about one pound
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 0.5 – 1 cup of Red Wine, depending upon need
  • 1-2 Tablespoons finely chopped Rosemary, to taste
  • Salt and Pepper

The Process

  1. Peel and halve the onions along their axes.
  2. Slice very thinly with the knife to produce onion strings, ideally one-sixteenth inch thick although one-eighth will suffice for this recipe.
  3. Gently separate the strings from each other
  4. Gently heat the olive oil over low heat in a stainless steel sauce pan (not cast iron). When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onions, and stir gently and frequently for 10-15 minutes until they became very limp, have sweated out all of their water, and that water has evaporated. Two important points here. First, you want to get rid of the onions’ water, almost dry them out. Second, do not burn the onions; you have to keep stirring slowly and gently.
  5. Once the water has evaporated, add one-half cup of the red wine to the onions and stir. If the onions absorb the red wine too easily, add the other half.
  6. When the red wine has absorbed into the onions, stir in the rosemary. Cook for a few more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve.

I have no idea what kind of dish this is, but it works very well in a variety of contexts.

Vonn Scott Bair

 

Pan-Seared and Roasted Brussel Sprouts in Nutmeg & Ginger.

Standard

Good Evening:

I, too, remember the dark days of Brussel Sprouts. They came frozen in 6 inch x 6 inch x 2 inch white-packaged bricks, boiling them to death was the only known cooking method, and frankly, they tasted faintly of urine. However, in the early 1980s, I worked at the restaurant that might have served as the starting point for their slooooooow comeback to respectability. The Commissary, part of a Philadelphia empire of restaurants owned by Steve Poses, would split them in two vertically, blanche them for 1 minute, immediately shock them in cold water to stop cooking, and then drain them thoroughly. When called for, the second cook would sauce them in butter, top with crumbled bacon and salt and pepper, then serve as a side dish.

The recent trend in Brussel Sprouts seems to consist of oven roasting them whole without blanching. It’s OK, but sometimes the stems are not quite done. This past weekend I had about 12 ounces of sprouts–largely because what the heck, why not?–and thought I night try something slightly different. I knew that freshly grated nutmeg is the secret ingredient to great creamed spinach (weird if you think about it, but it does work); I knew that many Chinese recipes include both cabbage and ginger. So let’s have fun.

Pan-Seared and Roasted Brussel Sprouts in Nutmeg & Ginger

  • 12 ounces Brussel Sprouts, washed, drained on paper towels, stem ends trimmed, split in half vertically.
  • 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 0.5 – 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (and it has to be freshly grated)
  • 0.5 – 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Put Brussel Sprout halves in a bowl.
  3. Toss with oil then with salt and pepper. I like to go light on the salt and heavy-ish on the pepper.
  4. Heat saute pan to medium-high. I used a 10-inch cast iron skillet.
  5. Working in batches, place Brussel Sprouts cut side down on the skillet.
  6. Leave untouched for 3 minutes. Check for a nice light to medium brown sear on the cut sides. If you have the sear, transfer cut side up to an ungreased baking sheet.
  7. If too light in color, let sear for 1-2 minutes only, then transfer to sheet.
  8. Bake for 10-15 minutes in the oven. Ten minutes if you like crunchy, fifteen if you prefer a softer texture.
  9. Transfer to a heat-proof serving bowl.
  10. Sprinkle the nutmeg and ginger on the sprouts and stir gently until thoroughly coated with the spice blend. I like strong flavors and went with a teaspoon of each. You might want to start with a half teaspoon of nutmeg and ginger if you prefer mild spice flavors.

Serves four as a side dish.

Some notes: Leaves will fall off. That’s fine; you’ll have something to munch on as you work. More importantly, I cannot stress strongly enough the use of freshly grated nutmeg. The complexity of the aroma and flavors make a big difference.

Vonn Scott Bair

 

 

Recipe: Roasted Dates with Pomegranate Vinegar

Standard

Good Evening:

Developed this recipe for Super Bowl Sunday. It’s really easy as long as you remember to use a light touch when you add the vinegar and spices.

Roasted Dates with Pomegranate Vinegar

  • 2-3 Medjool Dates for each person, split into halves, seeds removed and discarded
  • Pomegranate flavored vinegar
  • Salt, Pepper and Coriander
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place each date half, cut side up on the paper.
  3. Lightly sprinkle the dates with the vinegar.
  4. Lightly sprinkle the dates with the salt, pepper and coriander.
  5. Roast the dates for 5-6 minutes, tops.
  6. Let cool to warm or room temperature, serve.

Yeah, it’s that simple.

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Dr. Vonn’s Magic Dust (Spice Blend for Deep-Fried Dishes)

Standard

Good Evening:

Maybe this will prove nothing more than a figment of my imagination, but I honestly believe that I have created a perfect spice blend for deep-fried dishes, and I mean all deep-fried foods; fried chicken, breaded and deep-fried Provolone sticks, french fries, breaded and deep-fried veggies, et cetera. Naturally, I will continue to tweak and experiment with different proportions, but I present the best I’ve devised so far.

Dr. Vonn’s Magic Dust

  • 2 Tablespoons powdered onion
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered or granulated garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I prefer low salt dishes, you can add more)
  • 2 Tablespoons thyme (powdered or “rubbed” if you can find it)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons Spanish pimenton (smoked paprika)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons smoked cinnamon

Place all ingredients into a clean, sterile, and dry jar with a screw top lid. Seal tightly and shake vigorously. Shake some onto french fries so you can get a good feel for the taste and whether or not you want to adjust proportions. Should keep for a few months at least.

The most critically important ingredient, and the most difficult to locate, is the smoked cinnamon. Amazon has exactly one source of the spice, while I get my supply from The Ingredient Finder, but it is super-duper-ultra worth the search. In terms of taste, it blends well with the smoked paprika, but the aroma! WOW. That smell truly excites me. This ingredient has not caught on in American cooking yet (which explains why it remains pretty darn expensive), but I can’t see that continuing much longer.

In future experiments, I will use powdered rosemary, rubbed sage, perhaps some combination of rosemary, sage, thyme and maybe oregano, for I am an ethical mad scientist–I only experiment upon myself.

Vonn Scott Bair