Roasted Whole Jalapenos

These are a variation on my other roasted jalapenos. These versions end up softer, more jalapeno-flavored (and less salty), and as well contain all their seeds. You can either eat them whole (like I do, because I’m a badass) or split them open and scrape out as many seeds as you like (leaving a few is always a nice flavor touch). I like to take a whole one and wrap it in a flour tortilla with whatever tofu, beans, greens, and cheese I have on hand.

6 – 10 fresh jalapenos
About a tablespoon tamari
About a tablespoon olive oil

350 preheat with a baking stone in oven; alternatively, make a ghetto tinfoil pan.

Wash jalapenos and set on cooking stone. Carefully toss tamari and olive oil on top. Roast twenty minutes. Flip and roast another ten minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Consume.

"My Good Lasagna"

I’m no stranger to lasagna recipes – I’ve posted two others to this blog before. But both my previous recipes – for Peg’s Lasagna (non-vegetarian, rather rich) and Vegetarian Lasagna (elaborate but worth it) – are a bit time-consuming. This one involves far less prep and has an easy, logical workflow – the kind of dish you could make while babysitting someone else’s kids. This is a vegetarian version with a generous helping of broccoli – a vegetable enjoying a lot of rotation at my house currently.

olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. can tomato paste
14.5 oz can petite dice or crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon white sugar
15 oz. ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
8 ounces shredded mozzerella cheese
8 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar
12 lasagna noodles (you can also use 9; 12 is half of most packages)
2 heads broccoli

In a dutch oven or large saucepan, saute garlic in olive oil until soft. Add tomato paste, canned tomatoes, water, oregano, salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring to a boil then turn down and allow to gently simmer uncovered for one hour.

Mix up ricotta, parmesan, and egg. Set aside. Grate cheeses on a plate and set aside.

Prepare the noodles. Now, my FOO used to just throw the noodles in to boil and inevitably a few would break up and you’d just sort of piece them together when you layered. Now, that’s fine: so is the recent rash of “no-boil” varieties. But I’ve found lasagna is far best served by making noodles with a little care. Boil a large salted pot of water, add the noodles in a few at a time, and stir carefully for the duration of cooking (usually about 10 minutes). When they are cooked through, pour them out gently, cool them with water, and set each one aside on waxed paper or foil. Cover with a dishcloth until you’re ready for them.

Wash and cut broccoli into medium-sized florets. Blanch in boiling water for five minutes; drain and douse in ice bath. Drain again and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and layer lasagna as follows: spread one cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Cover sauce with 4 (3) noodles. Cover noodles with one-third of remaining sauce. Top with half the grated cheeses. Place another layer of noodles and one of sauce over the mozzarella; top that with the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with remaining 4 (3) noodles and remaining sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes. Top with broccoli and sprinkle with reserved cheddar cheese. Bake 15 inutes more or until golden and bubbly.

Easy Stone Bread

Look. I am not so comfy with the yeasty bread products. I have, to date, fucked up more loaves than I’ve been successful with. But this status quo is slowly seesawing the other way.

Recently I came upon the “Outrageously Easy BIG Bread” on vegweb, which as far as I can tell is an allpurpose veg*n site for culinary slackers (good recipes, don’t get me wrong). The bread is tasty but more to the point makes two huge loaves: yesterday’s were baked on and barely fit on the large Pampered Chef stone (which I love and used twice alone yesterday; once for roasted jalapeños and once for this). Here is my method:

2 packs of active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups hot water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
6 cups flour, divided
1/3 cup vegetable or corn oil

Pour 1/4 cup warm water into a small ceramic bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, pour the 2 cups hot water over the sugar and salt, then stir with a wooden spoon to completely dissolve. Combine 3 cups flour with the water mixture. Pour the oil on top of the dough mixture then add the yeast mixture on top of that, but do not stir. Top with the remaining 3 cups of flour and mix well. At this point, the dough should be pliant and moist, but not gooey. Oil a bowl and put dough in; cover with a damp towel and set aside to rise for at least 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Remove the dough and knead on a lightly floured surface about 5 to 10 minutes (I usually do eight). Divide dough and flatten each half into roughly an oval/rounded rectangular shape, about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness; roll the dough lengthwise and place on an large ungreased cookie sheet or stone (if you don’t have a very large cookie sheet, use two cookie sheets) Cover the dough with a moist towel and set aside to rise again for another 45 minutes.
reheat the oven to 375 and bake for exactly 23 minutes. If you can keep everyone from digging in right away, allow to cool for about 15 minutes and then enjoy.

A hint on bread rising: for this kind of simple bread, provided you get the correct consistency after mixing and kneading, rising times are less important than allowing the dough to rise enough. So if at 45 minutes it hasn’t risen, give it more time. To rise dough I usually put it in my oven on the rack above a pan of hot (just-boiled) water, then close the oven door. It works well.

Sweet and Sour Asparagus Salad

Asparagus isn’t everyone’s favorite. Unless you’re serving it to die-hard enthusiasts, it should be prepared with care. However, converting non-asparagus eaters to fans is a gratifying endeavor when it succeeds. My kids will eat it if I prepare it correctly – previously in a very fatty version, which they loved. Tonight I’m trying a cold, soy-saucey version (tamari is a Hogaboom Achilles heel).

1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar

Slice the asparagus diagonally into 2-inch lengths, keeping the tip and the stems separate.

Combine the soy sauce, oil, vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over moderate heat just till the sugar dissolves. There will be a small amount of sauce. Set aside.

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in the stems and cook 1 minute. Add the tops and cook 1 minute more. Drain and under cold water.
Put the asparagus in a bowl, add the soy mixture, and toss.

Serve cold or at room temperature on lettuce leaves.

Huevos Rancheros

Adapted from tasteforlife magazine. This makes an excellent breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack – you name it!

olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 can petite dice tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons chili powder
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons cilantro, coarsely chopped

6 tortillas (corn is best – the small ones)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 cup dried, prepared)
6 large eggs
monterey jack cheese, shredded

Warm tortillas: wrap in a damp dishcloth and put in a lidded casserole dish, 250 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Heat oil and saute garlic and jalapenos for about 3 minutes, or until soft. Add tomatoes and cilantro, cook until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste; stir in cilantro, remove from heat, and set aside.

Heat beans. If you like, you can add salt and either oil or butter, or broth to flavor them. You may also heat them plain with a little of their liquid and allow the other accoutrement to provide flavor.

Fry eggs or (my preference) poach; heat a pan of about 1″ water to simmering (pan should be just the right size to accommodate number of eggs). Crack eggs into a glass; carefully pour them into simmering water. Lower temperature and put lid on so the water *gently* cooks them to perfection.

Remove eggs with slotted spoon. Serve: tortilla, beans, egg, sauce, shredded cheese.

Muy fucking awesome!

Hogaboom’s Dipping Tofu

This is my version of the allrecipes recipe, called “Breaded, Fried, Softly Spiced Tofu”. The main difference is I use firm, not extra-firm, tofu. I have to handle the tofu carefully but the melt-in-your-mouth result is worth it. Ideally, you’d eat these as soon as they came out of the pan; in practice, it makes sense to put batches in the oven or on a warm plate until you’re ready to eat.

1 (16 ounce) package firm tofu, drained and pressed
2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Cut pressed tofu into 1/2-inch thick slices; then cut again into 1/2-inch wide sticks. Place tofu in a bowl, and pour broth over the top. Set aside to soak.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, yeast, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tofu sticks from broth, and squeeze most (but not all) of the liquid from them. Roll sticks in breading (You may have to roll sticks twice to end up with a fairly dry outer layer of breading). Place tofu in hot oil; fry until crisp and browned on all sides. Add more oil if necessary.

Serve with a dipping sauce: I often just throw equal portions of soy sauce, minced garlic, vinegar, and brown sugar together. Heat the ingredients, simmer, then add a tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in a tablespoon of cold water. Stir until clear; serve.

Mango and Avacado Salad with Candied Almonds

I am into sweet salads lately! I think it’s the sunny weather. There are a few versions of this recipe floating around. Here is my variation on it:

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup slivered almonds*
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 head romaine, butter, or red leaf lettuce
2 ripe mango
2 ripe avocado
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard

Melt butter in pan. Add nuts and stir until lightly browned. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar and cayenne until sugar just dissolves. Spread on wax paper and allow to set.

Wash and tear the lettuce and put on a platter. Dice avocado and mango and top lettuce. Combine the remaining tablespoon sugar, olive oil, vinegar, and mustard. Pour dressing over salad and sprinkle almonds on top.

* Pecans work well in this recipe too.

Malaysian Mixed Fruit and Vegetable Salad with Sweet Soy and Peanut Dressing

In case you don’t recognize it, this is from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook. I loathe owning cookbooks but after I turn this back to the library I will likely buy it. This recipe is beautiful, exotic (sorry, those trying to eat local!), delicious, and perfect for our increasingly sunny days of dinner-time gatherings!

1 scant cup peeled unripe green mango, cut into 3/4″ dice
1 cup peeled jicama, cut into 3/4″ dice
1-inch thick slice peeled pineapple, cut into 3/4″ segments
1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into 3/4″ dice
1 1/4 cups crisp bean sprouts, washed and patted dry
6 tablespoons ketjap manis*
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, lightly crusthed
1 1/2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds.

Combine the mango, jicama, pineapple, and cucumber on a large plate or in a shallow bowl. Scatter the bean sprouts over the top. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Combine the ketjap manis, lime juice, and cayenne. Mix and set aside.

Just before serving, pour the dressing evenly over the fruit and vegetables. Scatter first the peanuts and then the sesame seeds evenly over the top.

* I didn’t have this; I took 1/2 cup soy sauce and 5 tablespoons brown sugar, simmering until sugar had dissolved and allowing to cool.

Pasta E Fagioli

This is an easy, inexpensive, nutritious dish that is also tasty and fast to make. For any vegan (omit parm, duh), vegetarian, or omnivore who has run out of inspiration but wants some real comfort food. This recipe is my adaptation of the Epicurious version.

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 16 ounce can petite dice tomatoes, drained slightly
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 15 ounce can great white northern beans, rinsed, drained*
Salt and pepper
12 ounces fettucine noodles (almost any pasta will do), freshly prepared, drained, and rinsed.
grated parmesan

Heat 3 tablespoons oil (I use a combination of olive and coconut) in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook 5 minutes. Add parsley, basil, oregano and beans. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Place pasta in bowl. Toss with a little olive oil. Pour sauce over and toss thoroughly. Serve, passing parmesan separately.

Serves a family of four with leftovers.

* Alternatively: take one cup of dried beans the night before, sort, rinse, and soak them overnight. Then drain and cook for one hour or until tender. Use in recipe as proscribed.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

This is the recipezaar version and it cannot be improved upon. I was going to write a substitution if you have fresh parsley but – what the fuck kind of ranch dressing would it be with fresh herbs?

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 1/2 teaspoons onion powder

Whisk all the ingrediants in large bowl and chill. Makes three cups – a lot.