Saturday, April 25, 2009
Tofu and walnuts, with a healthy dose of roasted garlic, form the base of the ricotta-style filling. Here's the ingredients:
1 14 oz. package firm tofu, pressed for an hour to drain excess moisture
1/2 cup walnuts
6 cloves roasted garlic
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
I mixed everything but the basil in the food processor, but you can do it with a fork. Mix in the basil after everything else is well-combined.
The tomato sauce can be replaced in this recipe by any decent prepared pasta sauce, though I went the home-made route. It's a basic sauce of tomatoes, garlic and onion, with some oregano and a little bit of sugar, salt, and pepper. A shot of red wine added to the sauteeing garlic and onion brought some nice character, but it's optional.
The manicotti are boiled until just slightly undercooked, about 7 minutes, since they finish cooking while baking. After draining the boiled manicotti, and rinsing with cold water, I used one of those pastry decorating funnels (what are they called, anyway?) to squeeze the "ricotta" into the manicotti tubes. This could be done by hand or with a spoon, but would be a lot messier...well worth picking up one of those pastry tubes. Pour your pasta sauce over the stuffed manicotti to cover everything, and bake at 375 F for 45 to 50 minutes.
I sometimes avoid making stuffed pastas because it can seem like a lot of work, but this is a very easy way to create those tastes with pretty minimal effort. Enjoy!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Juice from two limes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt
Stir up the ceviche marinade, and add whatever fruits and veggies you like. I used:
3/4 cup sliced hearts of palm
1 avocado, diced
1 roma tomato, diced
1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
1/2 a ripe mango, diced
Garnish with additional cilantro and lime. Popcorn is a fun traditional ceviche topping, but I skipped it today - I recommend it though.
I had to snap a picture of these delicious slices of raw bread - I finally picked up Ani's Raw Food Kitchen last week, after seeing so many amazing pics online from her recipes. This is the sesame sunflower bread - really tasty, and ground flax seeds work so well to bind the bread together. I don't have a dehydrator, but I do have a gas oven. The pilot light always keeps the oven slightly warm and very dry, so I made these by just keeping them in the cooled oven overnight. I know it's slower than a real dehydrator, and probably wouldn't work for a lot of things, but I'm definitely making these on a regular basis.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
As a nod to the twelve apostles, a good fanesca includes 12 different beans and grains, so it's a great reason to tap into those random half empty bags of adzuki beans and split peas and wheat berries waiting in many of our pantries. Because this soup invites so many ingredients, a definitive recipe probably doesn't exist. Like so many food traditions, every family has it's own interpretation of the soup - my host family's fanesca was pretty awesome, and that was the taste I was going for here.
While looking at recipes (and there's a ton of them) online, I found a nice New Yorker article by Calvin Trillin about looking for good fanesca in Ecuador. It's a great combination of food and travel writing, well worth a read.
Here's a quick rundown of my first take on fanesca...my only problem with the finished result is that the broth was a little darker than normal. I used homemade vegetable stock for the base, and my stock ingredients were pretty heavy on trimmings from dark greens, which resulted in a darker color. Real fanesca ought to be bright yellow, so I cheated a little and mixed turmeric with coconut milk to save the color. Anyway, here goes:
Soak the beans, and any grains which might benefit from soaking, overnight. Not to dissapoint any of those apostles, I made sure to go for the full twelve. Here's the list, and I used about a quarter cup of each (dry):
2. great northern beans
3. black-eyed peas
4. yellow split peas
5. brown lentils
6. adzuki beans
7. black beans
8. wheat berries
11. sweet corn
12. green peas
I cooked all of the soaked grains and beans on a low simmer in veggie stock for an hour or so, adding frozen corn, green peas, and chopped scallions towards the end. Every bean/grain has a different cooking time, but with fanesca it doesn't matter if some things get too soft, since it all adds to the creamy nature of the soup. Just stir once in a while to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
While the beans are cooking, I sauteed some red onion and minced garlic cloves, adding them to the bean/grain pot close to the end of cooking.
In the blender, I mixed a medium-size roasted butternut, a baked potato, a cup of coconut milk, and a cup of vegetable broth. Blend until smooth. This is where I added the spices too - just a tablespoon of ground cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.
Back to the beans and grains. Continue simmering until most of the liquid has evaporated. Fanesca is somewhere between soup and stew, but it should be nice and thick. Add the blended squash mixture to the beans and grains, bring it back to a low boil, and remove from heat. Like any soup, this only gets better after it sits for a while.
I used cilantro for garnish, and seasoned with some hot pepper sauce. Those are patacones - deep-fried and slightly mashed plantains - on top, as if fanesca isn't hearty enough. I know these aren't the most organized cooking directions, but you get the idea - fanescas are like snowflakes or fingerprints, no two ever the same.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Keeping with the Thai theme, I used a coconut milk based dip to replace the ranch or blue cheese dips that usually accompany wings. The dipping sauce is coconut milk, a little agave, 1 tbsp. lime juice, and some thinly sliced Thai basil leaves on top. I thought it might be a little thin, but it was pretty substantial. Good stuff, and it performs the same function as those dairy-based dressings, as a cooling counterpoint to the heat from the "wings." The seitan is home made (as usual based on the Veganomicon recipe), first boiled, then cut into triangles, lightly breaded, and baked just until the breading lightly browns.
This weekend I made a batch of Napa cabbage kimchi too. It's pretty good, just hot enough to get your attention, and I have a couple of kimchi-based recipes in mind. Half of a big Napa cabbage, along with about a dozen scallions, garlic, and ginger, yielded just over a quart of kimchi.