24 August 2008

Kohlrabi: The Sputnik of Veggies

I'm really appreciating the limited season of some veggies this year. For example: kohlrabi, which is seemingly part turnip, part cabbage and looks a lot like sputnik:

It's been missing from the farmer's markets for a week now, and I never really got to experiment with it.

Kohlrabi with Tomatoes, Pseudo Indian Style
Probably adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's, World Vegetarian (1999), but only because this is how she cooks most veggies in the book, so I gave it a try.

  • 3 green kohlrabi heads, trimmed and skinned (you have to be thorough about trimming the skins off, the skin is very tough).
  • 1 tsp. of cumin seeds
  • a few dried hot chiles
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 cu. of diced tomatoes
  • veggie stock
  • salt, pepper
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in the pan, saute the cumin seeds and chiles until the chiles look dark brown. Add garlic and saute for a minute longer before adding the kohlrabi. Stir in the tomatoes and about a 1/2 cup of veggie stock. Season with salt. Cover ands simmer until the kohlrabis are tender. You may need to add more stock, or you may need to remove the kohlrabis and reduce the liquid to make a sauce.

Stephanie's Kohlrabi Slaw was an awesome mix of kohlrabi, apples, radishes and some onion run through a mandolin and dressed with oil and vinegar.

A quick pickle of kohlrabi would have been good too.

Punjabi Potatoes

Freedom Farm is always the star of the Portland Farmer's Market. Here's what we made for dinner from their veggies.

Heirloom tomatoes, punjabi potatoes, broccoli with walnut sauce (which was a bit of a failure) and salad.

Punjabi Potatoes
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey, World Vegetarian (1999)

  • 1 large onion diced (to yield about 1 cup of diced onions)
  • 1.5 Tbs. grated ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cu. diced tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeño, finely chopped
  • pinch each of tumeric, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper
  • 1 lbs. red potatoes
  • garam masala (sprinkled on at the end)
Fry the onions in plenty of oil until they are lightly browned. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook for a moment more before adding the tomatoes, chili and spices. Add the potatoes and 1.5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, then uncover and simmer for about 10 more minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has reduced to a nice consistency. Don't overcook the potatoes. If you're sauce is too watery but the potatoes are tender, remove them with a slotted spoon and reduce the sauce.

Strawberry Season: Come and Gone.

Strawberry picking season has long since come and gone; it was sadly cut short by heavy rain back in July. Note to self for next year: pick more berries next time, because they're gone before you know it.

What did you do with strawberries this year? Our favourites were:

1. Freezing them for the winter.

2. Vegan strawberry shortcake from Angelica Home Kitchen.

3. Vegan strawberry parfait with the most amazing nut cream sauce ever (also from the Angelica Home Kitchen).

4. Vegan strawberry ice cream from the Veganomicon.

5. Insane Smoothie Bonus: a smoothie from strawberries, avocado, bananas, soy milk, soy yoghurt and honey.

Thankfully blueberry season lasts a lot longer.

The "Pulled Tempeh" Sandwich: An Idea Perhaps Better Left Untested

BBQ "pulled tempeh" sandwich: so meaty, they fool even the most dedicated carnivore. We used the barbecue marinade from the Angelica Home Kitchen book to make a sort of sloppy joe. The results were pretty decent, if a bit ugly. "Cutlets" of tempeh baked in this marinade are far better.

Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from Leslie McEachern, The Angelica Home Kitchen (2003)

  • 2 cu. sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in hot water for several minutes
  • 1 dried hot red chili, rehydrated together with the tomatoes above
  • 1/2 cu. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cu. tamari
  • 1/3 cu. maple syrup
  • 1/2 cu. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
Purée all of the ingredients and pour the resulting mixture over strips of tempeh before baking in an oven for about 40 minutes. You've reached the right consistency when the marinade has cooked down to a gooey mess.

Restaurant Review: Red's Eats

We interrupt this healthy blog for a bit of tacky…

Red's Eats
U.S. Route 1, Wiscasset, Maine

Either by dint of an effective guerilla marketing campaign or by its own merits, Red's Eats is widely believed to offer the best lobster roll in Maine. If you're from the area, chances are you've never actually eaten there, because (1) you're from Maine and why the hell would you wait in the gruelling two hour long line to obtain a mere lobster roll, and (2) being from Maine, you know there is little atual scope for culinary expression where the lobster roll is concerned. I mean how great can it really be? I set out to find out. I'm your lobster roll mythbuster.

First off, prepare yourself for the gruelling Olympic level endurance feat of waiting in the line that perpetually surrounds the place: stretch out, hydrate yourself and, above all, bring protective ear wear to guard against the sonic onslaught of the passing semi-trucks. The line will appear to move at a snail's pace. In fact, it is moving slower. I suggest eating a complete meal before you go. If you are completely stuffed when you arrive, you will probably be ready to eat again by the time you order. If you are hungy when you queue up, you'll most likely resort to cannibalism.

If you come unprepared, the establishment may, in a show of mercy, hydrate you. There is, I should note, a serious opportunity waiting to be exploited here for a concession stand or busker or a sun-shade salesman.

Bring someone you love. Here we find Serge and Lynda comforting each other as we near the home stretch.

Before ordering, take a moment to pay homage to Red himself—he passed away only a few months ago as I write this.

So, is it the best lobster roll in the Pine Tree State? To be fair I have not visited every lobster shack from York to Lubec, but I've certainly visted a fair few over the years, and all I can say is this: Red, may he rest in peace, clearly ascribed to the school of size matters. What separates Red's roll from your average lobster shack fare is that it's bloody enormous. If you're a tourist trying fill your lobster quota during a week's stay in Maine, then, I guess, sure it's the "best." But if you're just looking for lunch, then I'd say it's just an expensive pile of lobster with a roll adjacent to it. In my view, the best lobster rolls have lobster cut into bits that actually fit in your mouth, are dressed in mayonnaise, and are served someplace quaintly picturesque. If the place smells like bait fish, there are lobster boats tied up within a stone's throw of your table, and the smell of grease permeates the air, you're probably in the right place. If there's no bathroom and you had to take dirt road to get there, you're most definitely in the right place.

A parting note: fried zuchinni for the win!

23 August 2008

Wild Rice Salad

I like Peter Berley's [yeah, he let his site implode] cookbooks. Not everyone does. Hell, I even like his books notwithstanding the fact that unlike any other microcelebrity I've contacted on the web, he's never responded to any of my email. A note on that last link: Now I'm not a vegan, even though I eat that way much of the time, but even I was a bit put off by Berley's remarks on how vegetarianism is "adolescent." The irony of his comment isn't so much that he's built his entire reputation (as far as I can tell) on vegetarian cooking, it's that Flexitarian Table is by far his weakest work. The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen is quite good though, even if he seemingly takes every opportunity to resort to dairy.

Wild Rice Salad
Adapted from Peter Berley, The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen (2000)

  • 1 Cu. wild rice
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 handful of sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2/3 Cu. sliced, blanched almonds
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 cu. red, yellow, orange sweet peppers, cut in a largish dice
  • 1/2 Cu. dried currants
Simmer the wild rice in two quarts of water until tender (about 40 minutes) then drain and cool in cold water and drain again thoroughly. Boil the tomatoes in water for a few minutes, then remove from the heat and let soak for about twenty minutes. When the tomatoes are done soaking, drain, dry and chop them. Roast the almonds in a cast iron skillet. Steam the carrots and onions for a few minutes, then cool in the cold water. Assemble all of the prepared ingredients above in a bowl and dress with a vinaigrette of sherry wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, chopped dill, salt and pepper.