Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vegan lentil walnut porcini meatballs

The other day I came across the recipe for vegetarian meatballs from the Meatball Shop in Manhattan. Vegetarian is nice, vegan is better. So, I added my own tweaks and twists to the meatball recipe and made it vegan. And still very tasty. 


Preparation of lentils:
  • 1/2 cup beluga/French lentils
  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 cup chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 quarts water
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves
Wash and rinse the lentils and chickpeas, and place in a pot with the water, the bay leaf and garlic. Bring to a boll, and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours  on low (simmer only for 30 min if you soaked the lentils and chickpeas for 12h). There is likely little water left, but if there is then drain it. It should make about 2 1/2 cups of cooked lentils. 

Lentil walnut porcini meatballs:
  • 2 cups cooked beluga and red lentils and chickpeas
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1/2  red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, microplaned
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • 1 TB red pepper spread (avjar, or Trader Joes red pepper paste)
  • 1 oz dried shitake mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water, drained and chopped
  • 1 oz dried porcini mushroom, reconstituted in hot water, drained and chopped
  • 2 TB BBQ sauce
  • 4 TB ground flax seed, 1/4 cup of water (mix to make 2 flax eggs)
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4  cup bread crumbs
  • 3 TB finely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a  large baking sheet with some olive oil so that the meatballs won’t stick. Set aside.  

Prepare the flax eggs by combining the ground flax seeds with hot water, and set aside. The mix will gel. 

Add the olive oil to a frying pan and sauté the onions, chopped carrots, minced garlic, thyme and reconstituted mushrooms over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 min. Add the tomato paste and red pepper paste and continue to cook for about 2 minutes, until all the ingredients are mixed well and the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a food processor, and let cool in the food processor for about 5 min.

Add about 75% of the cooked, and slightly cooled lentils/chickpeas to the vegetables in the food processor, and chop coarsely until all the ingredients are well combined. (It will be quite mushy, that makes the lentil balls even more sticky and hold together). Add the mixture to a large mixing bowl. 

Add the flax egg, regular bread crumbs, panko bread crumbs, chopped walnuts, BBQ sauce and the salt to the pureed mix as well as the non-pureed cooked lentil mix. Mix with a spatula until thoroughly incorporated. Let sit for about 10 min (for the bread crumbs to soak up the liquid and bind the meatballs). 

Use a small ice cream scoop and scoop out ping pong ball sized meatballs. Place the lentil balls in the prepared baking sheet, allowing 1/4 inch of space between the balls and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.

Roast at 400F for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Vegan Banana Milk with Dates

The other day I read about banana milk on one of the blogs I read. I don’t remember which one but the idea stuck. Banana milk! It brought back memories of a boxed banana milk drink from my childhood, bright yellow, incredible sweet and the artificial flavoring of bananas. I loved it, though. It was time for a grown-up version ---- fresh bananas and almond milk as main ingredients, a mejdool date for sweetness, chia seeds for umpf, and strawberries, why not. Exquisite!

Vegan banana milk with dates (1 serving):
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 date
  • 2 TB chia seeds
  • 5-6 strawberries
All in the food processor (add ice if summery temperatures), a good twirl, and ready to go!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sunburst salad in the middle of winter

It is continuing to be cold, very very cold and even some snow on the way. The woodstove is fired up day and night to keep us warm, and anything reminding me remotely of summer and warmth is welcomed. The grocery store had a delivery of beautifully looking strawberries from Florida that had the wonderful aroma of just ripe strawberries, an aroma so good that it convinced me to buy them out of season (for Maine, at least)  but at least national and east coast (all depends on the scope of local, right?). They were a great addition to the sunburst salad the other day, rounded out with mixed lettuce, orange bell pepper, goat cheese and toasted pine nuts with balsamic vinaigrette. 


Monday, January 16, 2012

Kale Feta Butternut Squash Mini Muffins

It is cold, really cold, like in the teens cold. I braved the temperatures, all bundled up and went for a sunny, blue skied walk. The fresh air and the sunny blue sky with a wintery serene landscape are marvelous. To warm up, the evening TV program promised Giada in Bora Bora, the Golden Globes and a preview of Kim’s marriage swan song. I bowed out of (watching) the Golden Globes this year and instead baked a double batch of my favorite savory muffins. I still had a block of sheep’s milk feta cheese from the farmers market but I was out of almond milk and baby spinach. Instead I used kale and real milk. I baked 2/3 of the dough as regular sized muffins and 1/3 as mini muffins. These feta kale butternut squash muffins definitely deserve a Golden Globe!

Feta Pumpkin Spinach Muffins (single batch):

  • cooking spray (for the muffin pan)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 255g butternut squash,peeled,  and cut 1/4-inch cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of raw curly kale, stripped from stems, finely chopped
  • 100g cubed feta (full-fat), also cut into same sized mini cubes as butternut squash
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 large organic free range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 180 ml milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 4 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 405F / 200C, with rack in the top third. Grease a 12-hole muffin pan and a 6-hole muffin (or a 24 hole mini muffin pan and a 6 hole regular muffin pan) and set aside.

Sprinkle the olive oil, salt and pepper over the cubed squash. Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan and bake for 15-20  minutes so that the squash is mostly cooked, but not mushy or dry. Set aside to cool.  In a pot, heat water with some salt, and once boiling, shortly blanch the kale for 1 min. Remove kale from the hot water with a sieve, rinse with cold water and squeeze out as much water as you can. Set aside.

In a bowl beat the eggs, mustard and milk together; stir in some fresh ground black pepper and about a 1/2 ts of salt. Separately, sift the flours, baking powder and salt into a bowl, and mix well. Pour the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix until smooth. Fold in gently the kale, feta, and the butternut squash.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pans, filling each hole 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops and sides of the muffins are golden, and the muffins have set up completely. Let cool for a couple minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack

Nutritional information: 1 mini muffin, 45kcal.

mini_feta_muffins2 mini_feta_muffins1

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter Farmers Market

Today was one of the Saturdays when the winter farmers market takes place. Yes, we are in Maine, it is freezing cold and we have an outdoor winter farmers market. We are really serious about farmers market. As expected there was not much offered with regard to vegetables in the dead of winter, but goat cheese, fresh free range eggs, fish from the coast, milk as well as vegan cupcakes were available. Everyone was buddled up. A stand with hot coffee would have made a killing!


Black bread

101cookbooks is one of the first blogs I’ve ever read, and it is still one of my favorite ones. Heidi posted a recipe of a black bread in the last few days, and as bread enthusiast I planned to try it. The ingredients sounded esoteric for bread (cocoa? espresso? molasses?) but it could really work for a dark rye bread, which I love. Since I am rather busy and  have little time to babysit a bread right now, I made it using the breadmachine. My breadmachine makes 1-1 1/2 pound loaves so I halved of the ingredients. Verdict? It is delicious!!

Find the original recipe here!


Vegan Bolognese, Take 2.

Yesterday, it was the quick version with store-bought marinara. But it is just as simple to make from scratch with a can of salt-free, chopped tomatoes (I use the Trader Joes brand, but any salt-free will do). 

Vegan Bolognese (3 large or 4 regular servings):
  • 12 meatless meatballs (e.g. Trader Joes)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1 can salt-free chopped organic tomatoes, pureed (!)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth (or water)
  • salt, pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 TB red wine
  • handful fresh or 1 cube frozen basil
  • 2 TB ketchup
  • 3 TB Trader Joes roasted red pepper eggplant spread (or ajvar)
  • 1 hot chili pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 –1 cup frozen or fresh kale
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 TB goat cheese crumbs (optional for real vegans, but it adds a nice creaminess)
Thaw the meatballs (2 min in the microwave), and chop into crumbs. Heat the oil and saute the onion. Add the chopped meatballs, and saute for about 5min on medium so that the faux meatball crumbs slightly caramelized. Add all the other ingredients, mix carefully and simmer for  about 10 min. Cook pasta according to instructions, drain and serve with sauce!
1 serving (if divided into 4 servings) has 145kcal.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Vegan Pasta Bolognese

This is a very tasty dish, and it uses a few shortcuts for those busy weekday meals. I typically have a bag of Trader Joes faux meatballs in my freezer, but yesterday I did not feel like a dish with meatballs --- rather a hearty bolognese sauce. I thawed a about 10 faux meatballs, chopped them up, fried them with a 1/2 onion and 1 ts of olive oil, added a cup of Giada’s vegetable marinara sauce (at Target), 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, a handful of frozen kale (Wholefoods!), some salt, pepper, 1 grated garlic clove, 2 TB ketchup, a squirt of hot sauce, a cube of frozen basil, 1 TB of goat cheese crumbs, and voila a very tasty Bolognese sauce. I simmered it for 10 min, while the pasta cooked, and dinner was ready.

Plus, a serving of pasta for lunch today! 

Vegan Bolognese (2 servings):
  • 10 meatless meatballs (e.g. Trader Joes)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1 cup Giada’s Marinara Sauce with vegetables
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1/2 –1 cup frozen or fresh kale
  • salt, pepper, to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 TB ketchup
  • 1 ts hot sauce
  • fresh or frozen basil
  • 1 TB goat cheese crumbs
  • 4 oz of penne pasta
Thaw the meatballs (2 min in the microwave), and chop into crumbs. Heat the oil and saute the onion. Add the meatballs, and saute for about 5min on medium so that the faux meatball crumbs slightly caramelized. Add all the other ingredients, mix carefully and simmer for  about 10 min. Cook pasta according to instructions, drain and serve with sauce!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A night for Gluehwein

It is the evening before a predicted, but unexpected snow storm. It will throw a monkey wrench in our day, likely cancel a half day of classes, mess up the streets and provide precarious precipitation. I am watching (appropriately/coincidentally) Anastasia on netflix, about an imposter Russian princess, with the ever wonderful Ingrid Bergman. The only thing missing to accompany the the anticipation of the snowstorm was the first brew of Gluehwein for this season (gluehwein does need snow). Find the recipe here!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lunch Inspirations

Lunch for me is different every day. There is no big recipe behind it besides a new combination of vegetables at hand. My staples in the winter are fresh kale, some winter squash from my fall farmers market stash, and many, many ziplock bags filled to the brim with various frozen vegetables such as frozen corn from the summer, petite brussels sprouts, exotic mushrooms, cannellini beans, lima beans, edamame, artichokes, broccoli, etc. Not every vegetable (or fruit) freezes well; the texture can change so much that I only eat them fresh (off my freezer list are for example bell peppers, summer squash, mango and also a few winter squashes).

Today’s lunch started with peeling a butternut squash, cubing half of it and baking it in the oven for future meals. About a 1/4 squash I cut into halfmoons and then strips, and started sauteing them with some basil  flavored olive oil, salt and pepper. I added the remaining wild mushroom medley, the last summer ripe local frozen corn, a handful of edamame, and then fresh kale. To wilt down the kale, a bit of water was necessary. All served up with something that is not organic, not local, and likely not cleaning eating, but it makes everything, especially vegan food, taste so good: a dash of BBQ sauce. Lunch is ready!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Green Garbanzo Beans

There was a time when garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) were mostly of the white variety. Then came the black garbanzo beans, which are really more  brown. Rumor has it real black indeed exist. But searching for my beloved petite frozen brussels sprouts at WholeFoods brought about a new variety: frozen green chickpeas. 

Green chickpeas are basically young chickpeas that -- when left to mature on the plant -- turn into the blonde variety that is dried. They are like edamame, and they do taste like peas rather than regular chickpeas. Nevertheless, off to trying them out, although I cringed at the cash register at the steep price tag ($4.69 for a small bag), but then what is not expensive at Whole Paycheck. 

Green garbanzo beans are basically raw garbanzo beans and do not take very long to cook. I put them in the microwave for about 3min with some water and they were ready to go. WF conveniently offers a few recipes for green chickpeas such as green hummus and chickpea guacamole,  but I think I will eat them as a salad ingredient. 

green_garbanzo WF_green_garbanzo