Tag Archives: Vegan

Recipe: Maple-Sriracha Glazed Carrots.

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Good Morning:

Just in case you need something bright orange, vegan and zingy for your holiday table.

Maple-Sriracha Glazed Carrots

  • 1 lb. carrots cut into 2″ long quarter-inch thick julienne (or use 1 lb. of baby carrots)
  • 1 Tbsp. neutral flavored oil
  • Maple-Sriracha Glaze (see below for two versions)

I like my cooking time short because of a preference for very crunchy carrots. You may cook the carrots longer–it’s your stomach, make it your food.

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat until it starts to shimmer.

Blanch the carrots in boiling water for 15 seconds, drain thoroughly.

Immediately add the carrots to the oil–watch out for splatter!–and stir until coated in oil. Keep cooking, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or if you prefer softer veggies, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze according to one of two versions:

I’m Nice with Spice

  • 1 tsp. Sriracha
  • 5 tsp. Maple Syrup
  • Salt and Pepper; OR

I Bring the STING

  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • Salt and Pepper

Whichever glaze you choose, combine all ingredients into one bowl.

At the end of your preferred cooking time, scrape the glaze onto the carrots and stir until thoroughly coated. Keep cooking and stirring for at least one but no more then two minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and serve at once. Serves 4-6.

This yields a very small amount of glaze as I prefer only the thinnest coating on my carrots. You may choose to double either version.

Options: Use toasted sesame oil instead of a neutral oil. Add 1/2 tsp of Chinese Five Spice blend to the glaze. Or both.

Vonn Scott Bair

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

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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.

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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: Carrots, Fennel & Olives in Curried Tomato Sauce.

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Good Evening:

The same old story–take what you find, throw it all in one pot, somehow make it work. The odd combination here consists of fenugreek and thyme, which to my surprise worked together rather well. I served it with a lemon-rosemary roast chicken and white rice, but this would also make a good vegetarian/vegan main course.

Carrots, Fennel & Olives in Curried Tomato Sauce

Serves 2 as an entree, 4 as a side dish

The Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 cups carrots in half-inch dice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1.5 cups fennel in half-inch dice
  • 30 Kalamata olives, split lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons ground fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2-cups tomato puree
  • 2 teaspoons thyme

The Process

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until shimmering.
  2. Add the carrots, salt and pepper, stirring until everything’s coated, then stirring frequently for five minutes.
  3. Add the fennel, stirring until everything’s coated, then stirring frequently for another five minutes. Reduce heat if the carrots cook too quickly.
  4. Add the olives, fenugreek, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, stirring until everything’s coated, then stirring frequently for another five minutes.
  5. Add tomato puree and the thyme. Stir until everything’s coated, then reduce heat to a low simmer for ten minutes, stirring frequently. You will thicken the sauce in this fashion.

Serve piping hot over white rice, brown rice, or couscous. Probably best with a pale ale.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, or ever better, inspires you to create something even better!

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Christmas Pasta e Fagioli, Vegan and Vegetarian Versions.

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Good Evening:

During my Christmas visit to family, it came to pass one evening that we supposedly had “no food” in the house. Rather than order Chinese takeout or pizza, I took a look around and found a few items that I threw together and we ended up having a dinner of equal parts improvisation, vegetarianism, and tastiness. I’ve tweaked my madcap make-do meal a bit to create a Christmas-themed variant of the classic Italian dish Pasta e Fagioli.

Many Christmas Eve traditions include a vegetarian dinner in preparation for the Christmas day feast, making this a good choice for a main course soup. In addition, the bright red and green colors make this meal visually appropriate for the holiday. Although it requires many steps, all are extremely easy. I prepped and cooked the entire dish in less than one hour. I hope you will experiment with it and enjoy!

Christmas Eve Pasta e Fagioli, Vegan and Vegetarian Versions.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of farro pasta, preferably small shells or elbows
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, quarter-inch dice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • One 15-oz. can of garbanzo or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 1-3 teaspoons of dried red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground fenugreek seeds (odd but effective)
  • 12 cocktail cucumbers (2-3 inches long, .5 inch thick), sliced into quarter-inch slices. Substitution: 2 Persian Cucumbers or 2 small Zucchini in quarter-inch dice
  • 30 red cherry or grape tomatoes, split lengthwise
  • 1-2 tablespoons of dried thyme to taste
  • 2 cups of julienned spinach leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Pesto Genovese (the traditional basil, Parmasan cheese and pine nut recipe). Vegan: Three tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil.
  • 1 pint vegetable broth
  • Finely chopped Italian parsley and/or basil for garnish
  • Optional Garnish: finely shredded Parmasan and Cheddar cheeses. The Cheddar seems odd, but it worked.

Cooking

  1. Have reading a boiling pot of salted water for the pasta.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until shimmering.
  3. Add the onion and reduce heat to medium low, stirring frequently, until translucent and soft, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper, the beans, and the chopped walnuts, stirring until everything is coated. Add the smoked paprika, fenugreek, and red pepper flakes, stirring until everything is coated again. Stir for about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the cucumbers and saute for about 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes and thyme; saute for about 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in the spinach and either the pesto or basil.
  8. At this point, make sure the pot of salted water is boiling.
  9. Add the broth to the saute, stir once more, bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cover.
  10. Add the pasta to the water and cook until al dente. Drain thoroughly, but reserve one cup of pasta water.
  11. Add the pasta water to the broth. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  12. Set forth 4-6 bowls.
  13. Divide the pasta evenly among the bowls.
  14. Divide the broth evenly among the bowls, pouring over the pasta.
  15. Garnish with the herbs and optional cheeses.
  16. Serve with soup spoons, accompanied by a rustic bread and mixed green salad.

The bright red and green colors will lend a festive appearance to the Christmas Eve table. Totally improvised from an “empty” larder but the results came as a nice surprise to everyone, including yours truly.

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Triple-R Onions.

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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.

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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