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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mushroom, Chevre, and Smoked Salmon Buckwheat Crepes

French crepes seem such a mystery, and in many ways they are...until you live in a town with a creperie and you see them made before you eyes. Ahhh, the veil is pulled aside and all is revealed!

I don't know how authentic the crepe recipe is but the consistency works really well. The key is to make sure there are no lumps so the crepes spread evenly when cooking. Buckwheat is a delicious nutty grain so go with it!

Of course you can remove the salmon if you want to make it vegetarian. And if you have eagle eyes, you'll notice some green in the picture. There was some extra sautéed swiss chard so I added it. But it isn't necessary and I didn't want to over-complicate the recipe.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mushroom Feta Phyllo Pie

Phyllo is a wonderful ingredient that is truly easy to use once you get over your fear of its dainty appearance. Fortunately for me, a former roommate from Belgrade, Serbia, helped me see the light of how simple and delicious cooking with phyllo can be.

Natasha used phyllo with abandon, making cheese, spinach and even sauerkraut pies with it. I remember watching in awe, thinking that she new some culinary secrets to working with phyllo. But she was no spectacular cook and she was quite rough with it, laughing at the idea that it was delicate and dainty. "If it rips, you just layer another piece on top, no one will know!"

The best part about her technique was pouring some liquid, usually an egg and milk mixture, over the top of the uncooked pie after cutting it into slices to moisten the top phyllo and allow the egg to work its way into the pie. Try it, you'll love it!

My magic trick for working with phyllo is my trusty Misto. This kitchen helper works wonders, not only for misting phyllo with oil but for helping me to avoid buying the horrid canned oil sprays. Find one online and make it your new favorite kitchen toy!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fettucine with Creamy Lobster Mushroom Sauce

Once upon a time there was a food blog pasta event called Presto Pasta Night. Founded by Ruth Daniels of Once Upon A Feast, this weekly (!!!) food blog event introduced me to lots of fun bloggers and so many interesting dishes! It was simply about pasta, fancy or not, and I was lucky enough to host 5 times, such fun!

If you're a regular reader you will notice it is fettucine that gets all the love lately, mainly because my love adores fettucine and we are lucky enough to have a local shop that makes organic fresh pasta that is only $6 a pound - it's ridiculously inexpensive and an easy dinner to make! Since we also live in a rainforest (Humboldt is home to the redwoods), mushrooms abound and lobster mushrooms are particularly tasty and abundant right now as we head into our rainy season.

While you can make this dish with cremini mushrooms, lobster or even chanterelles make this meal feel just a little more fancy, so make the effort and get the fun mushrooms if they are available!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Inspiration Part II - Vegetarian Entrees and Sides

Vegetarians (and vegans!) get so much flak at Thanksgiving, and quite often their entree options are boring or nil. Be kind to the plant eaters and make them an entree to remember, and lots of sides that everyone will love!

Entrees

Wild Mushroom Nutloaf with Porcini Gravy sounds like a scary throwback from the early hippie food of the 1970s, but this is decadence and deliciousness that everyone will love. Make enough so the carnivores can try it, they will be pleasantly surprised!

If your diners are primarily omnivores, these Chick Pea Parmesan Cutlets are easy to make ahead of time and then heat with some tomato sauce and presto! Delicious vegetarian or vegan entree without much fuss.


My personal old standby favorite whenever I was eating with my omnivore family was the Seitan Sautee with gravy. Here's a version with Fieldroast Marsala with Mushrooms.

Sides

Whether I eat turkey or not, my favorite part of the meal are the vegetable side dishes. Some people are crazy for stuffing but what I can't wait for is...Brussels Sprouts! Truly, and without bacon! Just sauteed with some olive oil and salt and sometimes a little balsamic vinegar. And then there's cauliflower gratin and beet salad and green beans...Ok, I'm drooling all over the computer. Suffice to say the veggies win the day for me!



Basque Beet Salad with Parsley and Garlic



















(Use butter and cream instead of non-dairy ingredients if you like).













Happy Eating!





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Inspiration Part I - Hors d'oeuvres and Desserts

It's been a while since I've done a holiday suggestion round up, but since the blog just featured a great vegetarian option for Thanksgiving, it made me think it would be worth putting together a guide. Although my blog is flexitarian, these suggestions are vegetarian and vegan in focus. So here, in no particular order, are my humble suggestions!

Hors d'oeuvres

Easy snacks for arriving guests are the name of the game here. These are do ahead treats that go great with wine and require little from you on turkey day. 


Fermented Cashew "Boursin" cheese. Yup, vegan, dairy free, delicious. If you want to shock your eaters, make this amazing "cheese." It's amazingly mind-blowing!

Olives are always easy and fun and when you marinate them yourself, you can taylor the flavors. Here's my version of them Moroccan Style.

Nuts are always a great snack to serve and these Maple Rosemary Glazed Walnuts will be a huge hit. But truly heed my warning and triple the batch, they are seriously addictive!


Desserts

I have to admit that desserts are very much an afterthought for me, except at Thanksgiving! While my sweet tooth is general MIA, pumpkin pie is one of my favorite foods, probably because the sweetness factor isn't too high! That being said, if you are cooking for a crowd, it is good to have some variety. So beyond the traditional pumpkin and pecan, here are some suggestions.


Limoncello Macaroons with Lemon Icing are definitely not traditional turkey day fare, but they are easy to make and improve with age and will keep well in the refrigerator! Oh, and deliciously addictive to boot!


Chocolate is usually de rigor in some sort of dessert, and last year I had a sinfully rich chocolate pecan pie, but it really was a recipe for a bellyache! Try this Chocolate Ricotta Tart instead. Rich dark chocolate taste with the creaminess of ricotta!

Lastly, a fruit pie of sorts, inspired by the French: Goat Cheese, Walnut and Pear Galette. Rustic in look but elegant in taste.


Happy meal planning

Hugs!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wild Mushroom Nutloaf with Porcini Gravy

As any scientist will tell you, sometimes experiments go haywire. Liquids boil over, beakers catch on fire, mini explosions occur. Other times, your hunches serve you well and things go your way. The same is true in the kitchen. We all are kitchen chemists, mad culinary scientists looking for something new or interesting to do with the same ingredients and sometimes it all comes together and you feel pretty pleased with yourself.

Exhibit A: Wild Mushroom Nutloaf with Porcini Gravy.

Yes, this is not what you make when you need to throw dinner together in a hurry. And it looks like a daunting list of ingredients and preparation. It's not really, probably most likely you have everything already in your refrigerator or a well-stocked vegetarian pantry. And if dried porcinis are not a part of your pantry, buy some. They make mushroom meals that much tastier; a few pieces of dried goodness imparts so much flavor.

This is my own recipe, a reasonable guess you could call it. These are the things that were on hand, so maybe if you don't have all of the nuts, you can just make sure there is a cup and a quarter of nuts in the loaf or greek yogurt instead of sour cream. It's really a throwback to hippie food but with lots of zip and pizzaz. While you may be tempted to not make the gravy, talk yourself out of that laziness, the gravy really makes the meal, particularly if you make mashed potatoes to go with it! This to me is the perfect vegetarian Thanksgiving meal, forget about any kind of phony tofurky business!