Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mushroom Risotto, Vegan Brunch, and Picnic Beans

This risotto recipe comes from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, which at almost 1,000 pages is a great resource for veggie cooking. Bittman doesn't totally embrace veganism or even vegetarianism in all of his cooking, but it's still pretty cool to have somebody with his profile - all over the New York Times, the Today show, and elsewhere - promoting green eating. I'd put him next to Michael Pollan on the veg-friendly scale, since they are great advocates of the health and environmental benefits of vegetarian food, but often skirt around the edges of the case for compassionate eating, which trumps everything else in my view. That said, it's still a valuable book with tons of information, and most recipes (with the exception of a lengthy egg and cheese chapter) are vegan or easily adaptable.

The risotto features baby bella and dried porcini mushrooms, and the arborio rice is cooked in vegetable stock. I've started making my own veggie stock the last few months, and it's so worth the extra time. I keep a ziploc bag in the freezer, that I fill with vegetable trimmings - carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, garlic, greens, etc., throughout the week. Usually on Sunday afternoons I make a stock with what's in the bag, along with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. It's always good, and a nice way to turn food trimmings and leftovers into a really handy (and cheap!) resource in the kitchen.

Speaking of cookbooks, I was thrilled (seriously) to find that Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new Vegan Brunch is on the shelves! This book is fantastic and full of great photos and recipes, and I assume that most folks reading this are already well-aquainted with Isa's work. Here's a bowl of tempeh and greens hash...a little less breakfast/brunchy than most of the book, but very tasty. I can't wait to make some of the brunch sausages, and much more. It might finally convince me to buy a waffle iron too.

I had an hour between jobs around noon today, which gave me time for my favorite kind of lunch - a little picnic in the park across the street with the dogs. It was a beautiful, perfect kind of spring day. This was ready in five minutes - a can of black beans quickly fried up with diced red onion, cumin, and Mexican oregano. Chopped grape tomatoes and an avocado were tossed in, with a handful of flat-leaf parsley. Bean bowls like this remind me of the food stalls in Portland, and make me dream of opening a vegan bean and rice bowl joint someday :) Until then, I'm happy with my nice little picnic spot over at the park. I never miss a chance to give the dogs some blog space, so here's pics of my charming guests. That's Maya at left, Otter at right.


Sal said...

the risotto looks awesome. i have a book a bit like that, called the veggie bible or something like that. it has a lot of butter and cheese in it (boo!) but most stuff is easy to veganise.

i haven't got vegan brunch yet - it's on my amazon wishlist! :)

cute pups!!

Bianca said...

Maya and Otter are adorable! And that is the best-lookin' risotto I've ever seen. Seriously. I must get that book!

As for Vegan Brunch, I'm so loving that book. That tempeh scramble is on my list of things to make soon.

Tara said...

Your risotto looks so good! I haven't bought Vegan Brunch yet, but I'm hoping to get it soon!

Anonymous said...

I will CAMP overnight to be the first to enter your bean and rice joint!

That is one very sexy risotto! My gawd Mikey risotto is one tedious dish and yours looks amazing!

I love the picnic idea - very cool.

Oh yea this was a while ago but I caught an eppie of Mark Bittman's travel to Spain and they made this rustic aioli using garlic and good quality olive oil. It took like 45 minutes to get like 3 tablespoon of aioli!

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

Maya and Otter look so mellow! Very cute. I just made my first recipe from Vegan Brunch - the pesto tofu scramble. Yum.

Yoga Witch said...

Delish, and fab pics, as always!

So the risotto...any tips on cooking that? I've made it twice, using arborio rice, and traditional, Italian recipes (basically, add the hot stock in intervals, stir constantly, etc.). However, both times, I've had to cook it long past the 20-25 minutes that the books say it will take (more like 45-55 mins. for me), and even then, it's still too hard!