Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

17 10 2010

Ganache is surprisingly easy and, in my opinion, a much richer, classier alternative to frosting. I used this to make and decorate my beetnik cake. It was easy to work with, looks great, and tastes even better!

ganache

This recipe is from the June 2009 issue of Bon Appetit.


Ingredients:

•5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
•1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
•1/ tsp vanilla extract
•3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
•3/4 cup sugar


Directions:

ganache 11. Place chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla in medium bowl.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine cream and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
ganache 33. Pour hot cream mixture into bowl with chocolate and let stand 1 minute.
4. Whisk until melted and smooth.
5. Chill ganache until thickened and spreadable (about 1 hour).


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Vegetarian Garbage Plate (oh, yes I did!)

9 10 2010

I went to college in Rochester, NY, and if you are from upstate New York you are likely all too familiar with this unique regional dish. It usually involves a heap of mac salad, a heap of home fries, topped with 2 cheeseburgers, a hot chili meat sauce and then mustard and chopped onions. Since I realized I’ll never be able to go back and relive my college days with this dish (it’s pretty much meat and fat, through and through), I decided to create my own veg-friendly garbage plate. If you ever feel adventurous, give it a try!

garbage plate


Ingredients

Alexia Foods Yukon Gold frozen french fries
•homemade mac salad (wheat macaroni, organic canola mayonnaise, red onion, green bell pepper, salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley)
•2 homemade veggie burgers
•2 sandwich slices of cheddar cheese
•vegetarian chorizo hot sauce (see recipe below)
•red onion, finely chopped
•brown mustard


Directions:

garbage plate 11. Bake french fries according to directions.
2. Heat veggie burgers and top with cheese so it starts to melt.
3. Pile french fries and mac salad so they each take up half a large plate or bowl.
4. Top with the veggie cheeseburgers, spoon a hefty portion of the chorizo sauce on top, and then garnish with mustard and onions.


Sauce Ingredients:

•2 Tbs butter
•1 Tbs vegetable oil
•4 cloves garlic
•1/2 red onion, finely chopped
•12 oz chorizo style Smart Sausages, diced
•1 Tbs chili powder
•a pinch of kosher salt
•2 tsp fresh ground pepper
•cayenne pepper to taste
•15 oz can chopped tomatoes


Sauce Directions:

1. Heat butter and oil in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and onion and sauté until they become soft.
garbage plate 22. Add chorizo and cook over medium-high heat until thoroughly browned (about 5 minutes). The sausage will start to fall apart – this is a good thing considering original garbage plate sauce is made with ground beef. In the end, you want a chili-like consistency.
3. Add seasoning and brown another 2 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. Adjust seasoning to taste, as needed.


Tips:

•A traditional garbage plate has lots of options. Instead of french fries and mac salad, you can replace one or both with home fries or baked beans. And instead of cheeseburgers, you can serve with hotdogs, Italian sausage, chicken tenders, grilled cheese or eggs. Try your own combinations!
•This meal is scientifically proven to cure hangovers.
•Most importantly, DO NOT EAT THIS OFTEN!






Basil & Walnut Pesto

6 10 2010

pestoAfter a longgg summer of waiting, I finally grew enough basil (from seed – [cheer!]) to make a batch of homemade pesto. So, of course, I did! I used walnuts not just for their flavor (I do really like the flavor), but also because I always seem to have tons of walnuts on hand and pine nuts can be so darn expensive!


Ingredients:

pesto 1•4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
•1 cup compacted fresh basil
•6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
•3 Tbs shredded romano cheese
•3 Tbs raw walnuts
•pinch of kosher salt
•1 tsp fresh ground pepper


Directions:
pesto 2
1. Place all ingredients in food processor.
2. Pulse to start chopping and incorporating the ingredients.
3. Blend until you have a fine, pesto consistency. May take a minute or two once it gets going.
4. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

Use this however you want! Great as a spread, on pizza, with pasta, mix with mayo for sandwiches or cream cheese for bagels, mix into your eggs… the options are literally endless!






Easy, Cheesy, Cream Sauce

27 07 2010

gnocchi and cheeseThis recipe is my standard go-to for when I crave something creamy and rich. I just whip up this sauce and add it to pasta with some fresh veggies, or make a quick and easy mac n’ cheese. The great thing about this sauce is that (in terms of cream sauce), it’s relatively not bad for you. It is thick and rich and tasty, but predominantly low-fat milk with a little butter, oil and cheese.

Sundried tomato gnocchi in cream sauce pictured above.


Ingredients:

•2 Tbs butter
•1 Tbs olive oil
•3 cloves of garlic, minced
•2 Tbs flour
•1/2 cup parmesan cheese
•2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
•4 large leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped (plus extra for garnish)
•salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

cheese sauce1. In a large saucepan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
3. Combine flour and heat for 3 minutes (stirring constantly), until it forms a golden brown paste.
4. Stir in parmesan until it begins to melt.
5. Begin slowly adding milk, whisking constantly from now on. Begin with just a splash, then up to 1/2 a cup at a time. After each addition, keep whisking and wait to add more until sauce is heated again and slightly thickened.
6. After all milk is added, reduce heat to medium-low and add basil and salt and pepper to taste (you won’t need much salt at all).


Recommended Serving Instructions:

While the sauce is still warm and over the burner, add your favorite cooked pasta (or sundried tomato gnocchi – pictured above). Mix until evenly coated and heated. Immediately serve and sprinkle with some fresh basil and/or cracked black pepper. If you add macaroni, ziti, penne (or any other similar tube pasta) you can then place in a baking dish and make a delicious, white, baked mac n’ cheese. Sprinkle the top with more parmesan and/or bread crumbs, cover with foil, and bake at 400º F for about 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake until the top is browned to your liking.


Tips:

•Try mixing this up by replacing the parmesan cheese with some other kind of cheese (chevre, brie, gorgonzola, etc.). Just be conscious of the fact that you may need to alter the amount of cheese you add depending on the kind. If you add a stronger cheese (gorgonzola), you may need less, or if you use a more mild cheese (chevre), you may need more.
•A little goes a long way! You’ll find you just need to lightly coat your pasta with this sauce, so you’ll likely have leftovers. That’s fine – it keeps relatively well. Just refrigerate or freeze in plastic containers, or even jar it.






Tomato Sauce

24 07 2010

tomato sauceHere is an old family recipe for tomato sauce. I sure hope my family doesn’t mind me posting this, but it’s so delicious and straight-forward, I just want to share it with everyone! The key here is to use the best ingredients you can find, and to cook it slowly. It will pay off with large amounts of tasty sauce that you can use for all sorts of dishes!


Ingredients:

•2 28-oz. cans whole tomatoes
•2 15-oz. cans tomato sauce
•1 small can tomato paste
•2 Tbs parsley
•1 Tbs oregano
•1/2 tsp anise
•salt and pepper to taste
•2 Tbs olive oil
•4 garlic cloves, minced


Directions:

tomato sauce 11. In a large blender or food processor, blend all canned tomato products, parsley, oregano and anise. Don’t over-blend, you will want to keep some body (this shouldn’t be super chunky, but you don’t want a runny, thin sauce either).
2. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add and sauté the garlic until it starts to brown.
3. Add the blended sauce to the pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring often. Be sure not to let the sauce boil.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

This sauce is great by itself on any pasta dish. I also particularly like making this sauce for delicious, real homemade lasagna or baked ziti. It brings a nice, fresh, bold flavor to these dishes that you just can’t get with jarred sauces.


Tips:

•The sauce gets better the longer you let it simmer and the longer it sits. If you aren’t sure you can get a good hour of simmer time (or more), you will likely want to make the sauce ahead of time.
•This sauce freezes really well. Whenever I make it, I often double the recipe (note – this already makes a hefty portion!) and freeze several large containers worth.
•This was originally meant to be a meat sauce (used to simmer meatballs, bracciole, sausage, pork ribs, etc.). As a vegetarian, I have found that the sauce really does work on its own. However, particularly because of the anise, it lends itself nicely to masking (or complementing) fake meats. I once made a great lasagna with fake meatballs and Italian sausage that was quite “meaty.”
•If at all possible, use jarred tomatoes instead of canned. The combination of the acidity in the tomatoes and the chemicals in the can is apparently a very bad one. I have a hard time finding it, so still use canned most of the time, but try to find jarred, jar some yourself, or try to find organic canned tomatoes that were just recently canned.






Coconut Red Curry

22 07 2010

As a vegetarian, you tend to eat a lot of stir-fry. And getting creative with stir fry can be a challenge. In the end, it’s all sautéed vegetables, perhaps with a new combination of vegetables and/or spices. That’s why I’ve been trying to make more homemade dishes that are just as convenient and full of good-for-you veggies, but with a little more pizzazz – dishes that provide a little more sense of adventure and accomplishment. So here’s one that has become a good ol’ standby. It’s super fast, inexpensive and, of course, delicious!

coconut curry


Ingredients:

•1 Tbs vegetable oil
•2 tsp sesame oil
•4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
•1/2 large red onion, diced into large pieces
•1 green bell pepper, diced
•3 cups broccoli florets
•1 zucchini, halved and sliced
•3 cups green beans
•2 Tbs red curry paste
•1 tsp grated ginger
•1 tsp red pepper flakes
•16 oz can coconut milk
•Salt
•8 oz extra firm tofu, cubed
•prepared brown rice


Directions:

curry 11. Heat vegetable and sesame oils in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
2. Add garlic, onion, pepper, broccoli, zucchini and green beans and sauté for 4 minutes.
3. Add red curry paste, ginger and red pepper flakes and mix well. Sauté an additional minute.
4. Add coconut milk and stir until thoroughly combined.
5. Add salt to taste and bring to a simmer.
6. Add tofu and gently simmer for 10 minutes until all vegetables are tender throughout and the tofu is thoroughly heated.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

This dish is best served over rice with a garnish of fresh basil.


Tips:

•This meal is so easy and quick. You can substitute vegetables with whatever you have in your crisper or whatever you find at the store. You can also omit the tofu for a lighter dish, or replace tofu with other items (potatoes, seitan, etc.).
•Play around with the spices some. When I’m sick, I like to make this dish with more ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. When I have people with “milder” taste buds I back off on the red pepper flakes, sometimes even just replacing with a pinch of black pepper.
•For a slightly lighter dish, use light coconut milk. It makes the dish a little less heavy and less sweet, but still very flavorful.






Red Lentil Gravy

29 05 2010

I am a huge fan of all things breakfast! So I get excited any time I come across a tasty vegetarian version of traditional breakfast foods. This recipe is based on something I found in Vegetarian Times a while back. The picture that accompanied the recipe looked very pretty; the actual dish…well, let’s just say it tasted great!

Be sure to note the ingredients. Not only is there very little fat in this dish, but it is full of veggies and lentils. And I promise it will satisfy most any biscuit and gravy cravings!


Ingredients:

•1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
•1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
•1/2 large cooking onion, finely chopped
•1/2 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
•1/2 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
•3 cloves garlic
•1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs unbleached flour
•1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
•1/2 tsp salt
•1 tsp smoked paprika
•1/2 tsp ground yellow mustard seed
•1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
•2 1/2 cups low-fat milk


Directions:

1. Add lentils to 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until tender (8-10 minutes).
2. Drain lentils and set aside.
3. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes.
4. Add peppers and garlic and cook an additional 5-8 minutes, until vegetables are just tender.
5. Combine the flour and spices and stir into vegetables. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
6. Gradually add milk (1/3-1/2 cup at a time), stirring after each addition. After all milk is incorporated, cook 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
7. Remove from heat and stir in drained lentils.
8. Serve over split biscuits or English muffins.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

For a heartier, more traditional breakfast, serve over homemade biscuits with home fries (stay tuned for my favorite biscuit recipe). For a lighter adaptation (and a shorter prep time) serve over your favorite whole wheat or multigrain english muffins and accompany with grilled asparagus or a green salad.


Tips:

•As always, adjust the spices to your liking. I love the taste of smoked paprika, so I sometimes add a tiny bit more so that it’s more present. I also tend to add more pepper flakes for a little more heat.
•I suggest adding some of your favorite veggies to this dish. Whatever you add, just be sure you cut them so that all vegetables are roughly the same size. Also, be sure to add them at the appropriate time so that all vegetables are just tender when you add the flour. Suggested additions: carrots, squash, broccoli stems, and sweet potato.