Marinated Kale Salad

For those of you reading this and thinking it just sounds gross and “healthy”, you’re f*cking wrong and that’s all to it. First off, you can put tons of soy sauce / tamari and oil in it and I’ve never had anything that tamari and oil didn’t make tasty. Secondly, it’s just really good and if you can’t see that, then you have some growing up to do.

1 large or two small bunches kale
juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil (canola, olive… it’s all good)
3 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
tamari
sesame oil

Wash and tear the kale into bite-size pieces. Pour lemon juice and toss salt on kale. Massage until kale wilts (depending on the kale, it may wilt a lot or a little. Add the rest of the ingredients, tamari and sesame oil to taste. Two quote hordes of old ladies describing salad: “This salad is better on the second day!”

You can add more veggies: my favorite are grated carrot, thinly-sliced cucumber, and avocado. Just sort of lay the veggies in there gently. Enjoy!

Asparagus Gruyère Tart

This recipe was a lot fussier in the Canadian Food Network site version. If you want to trim up your pastry and your asparagus and impress guests, go ahead. Oh wait, they’ll be impressed anyway because it’s the most full-fat recipe ever, I think.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
6 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (2 cups)
1 1/2 lb. medium or thick asparagus
1 tbsp olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Thaw puff pastry according to directions. Preheat oven to 400 F. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10 inch rectangle (or what fits your baking sheet). Place the pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or stoneware). With a sharp knife, lightly score the dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce the dough inside the markings at half-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pastry shell from the oven, and sprinkle with cheese. Arrange asparagus in a single layer over the cheese, alternating ends and tips. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender (bright green), about fifteen minutes.

No Mas Carne Enchiladas

These are near identical to vegweb’s version. Serve with the Roasted Jalapenos or risk being a dumbass.

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cup water
1 teaspoon mustard
4 tablespoon margarine
10 corn tortillas
2 small cans enchilada sauce (I use one red, one green)
3 cans beans (white kidney, pinto, or black), drained OR 2 cups dried beans, soaked and prepared
1 can olives, chopped

In medium-large saucepan, combine flour, nutritional yeast, salt and garlic powder. Add water gradually and mix thoroughly. Heat on medium heat until bubbling and thick. Remove from heat and add mustard and margarine. Set aside 1/2 cup of cheese sauce in separate container. Add beans and olives to sauce. Stir to combine.

Pour a 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Warm sauce in a skillet and place tortilla in sauce until softened. Spoon in filling, roll up, and place in large pan. Continue until all tortillas are filled. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce on top and then spread reserved cheese sauce on as last step. Bake at 350 until brown, 30-45 minutes.

Roasted Jalapenos

These are so good – and I get asked how to make them all the time. My husband drenches them in the soy sauce and overcooks them for a super-salty jerky-like treat. I tend to cook them until all crunch is gone, but no further. You know what though? I have never seen these babies go wrong. They go with any Mexican fare as a topping but we favor them dressing tostadas.

10 jalapenos
oil (canola is fine)
soy sauce or tamari

Heat oven to 300 or 400, depending on how much of a hurry you are.

Wearing gloves and in a well-ventilated kitchen, halve seven of the jalapenos and de-seed them. Wash the remaining three. The first batch will be your gringo-penos and these last three will going to be your El Diablo Fire-Ass jalapenos and should only be eaten if you know what you’re doing (the seedless ones will be quite mild – or at least I think so!). Toss with soy sauce and oil (the amount is up to you) in an oven-safe glass pan or roasting dish or self-made tinfoil pan if you’re desparate or camping (my goal is to be able to make these anywhere there is a heat source).

Roast uncovered until done. They are done when they are wilted but not blackened. In a 300 oven, this should take about 45 minutes. In a 400 oven, about 25 – and make sure to toss a few times.

Nessy’s Calzones with Dipping Sauce

So, if you got the memo, you know I’ve gone vegetarian. Right now I’m sort of struggling with this as for me, “vegetarian lifestyle” has, in the past, amounted to an over-reliance on soy (mostly tofu) and cheese. Well, these calzones are no exception to this except I have given myself the additional challenge of learning to work with yeast breads – which I have had bad luck with in the past. In light of this I have included some tips on yeast dough making that should serve well for any yeast bread-making venture.

This recipe is adapted from Nessy’s but is non-vegan (using soy cheese would make it so).

Dough
1 1/2 cups hot tap water
1 packet of active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour (premeasure as per method below)

Fillings
2 heads broccoli
12 ounces mozzerella cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces spinach, washed, drained and de-stemmed (or use half a bag, for God’s sakes)
1 can black olives (6 ounces)

Dipping sauce
1 can tomato sauce (15 ounces)
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
6 ounce can paste (6 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar

salt
pepper
olive oil

Whisk the water and yeast until it’s disolved, then add the sugar and salt and whisk again. Mix in the flour, stir with your hand or in a mixer with a dough hook (if you’re lucky you have this; I don’t). Knead dough until it’s elastic. Let rise in warm oiled bowl, covered for about 20 minutes. Punch it down and then re-cover and rise again for 10-20 minutes.

While dough is rising, make the fillings. Boil a large pot of water. Blanch and drain the spinach, pressing water out. Set aside. Refill pot and heat water to boil. Gently boil broccoli about 5 to 10 minutes or until barely tender. Grate the mozzerella and chop the garlic.

Cut or crumble tofu. In a frying pan, heat olive oil and saute minced garlic for a couple minutes or until soft. Add spinach, tofu, salt and pepper. Cook a few minutes till mixture is dry.

When dough is ready, divide into four. Roll out dough segment to 1/4″ thinness or so (think of how large a calzone typically is). Fill up 1/2 of each dough circle, fold over and seal the edges with a fork. Bake in an oiled baking pan, in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes (until crust is golden brown).

While calzones are baking, make the sauce – open three cans, stir the sugar, heat to boil and reduce to a simmer! (my kind of tomato sauce) Remove calzones from oven and let them sit for 10 minutes before eating. Serve with warm sauce to dip or pour on top.

Working With Yeast Doughs
The ever-informative but oh-so-cluttered baking911.com has some lovely bread tips but you should know this: the information there is ONLY non-scary if you understand the variance in breadmaking, if you trust the recipe, and if you have also had some success on which to rest your laurels. Here are my tips – for this recipe and others.

Calzone-Making Tips!

  • Wash hands, remove rings, and – if possible – make sure you don’t have ho-nails.
  • Measuring flour – important. Unless your recipe specifies otherwise, measure the flour by scooping it into dry measuring cups and leveling off. Put this flour into a bowl, premeasured and waiting for you to add to the liquid / yeast mixture.
  • As you start to add flour in, you can add most of it in in large amounts, stirring constantly. When the dough starts to be difficult to work, decrease the amount you add the flour in. The dough is ready to come out of the bowl when it is “tacky” but not sticky – this means if you put your thumb on it, it should feel like a post-it note.
  • Find a timer so you can knead the dough for the 8 to 10 minutes. The purpose of kneading is mostly to get air worked into the dough and to create gluten.
  • After dough is kneaded, generously oil a bowl, pop the dough in, and allow for it’s first rising. I have found dough likes a relatively warm area to rise. I usually heat my oven to 150 – 200, turn the oven off, then pop in the covered bowl. Please realize – dough rises according to lots of factors (specifically, how dry ambient air is, for one) so you will need to find your own method. If you overdo the heat of the rising area, you will likely develop a crusty skin on your dough which isn’t a big deal.
  • The purpose of “punching down” you should not puncture the dough. You are releasing carbon dioxide and allowing the dough to build structure again.

Good luck!

Roasted garbanzo beans

Guess what? You can’t find garbanzo bean recipes made from dried beans easily. Everyone wants to tell you to use canned ones. What’s up with that? Dried beans are cheap and store well and yes, really, they can be tasty (I didn’t believe this myself until recently but it’s true). So here’s my version of a simple, tasty side dish or snack and I include the directions for rinsing and soaking, etc. You can take the soaking / cooking method up to the draining point if you want to use the beans in a canned recipe.

1 cup dried garbanzo beans, sorted and rinsed
oil (canola, coconut, or olive)
tamari or soy sauce to taste
Bragg’s (yes, it’s weird stuff)
garlic (optional), minced

Soak the beans, 3 cups of water for each cup dried beans. They need to soak overnight or eight hours. If you forgot to soak them the night before just do it first thing in the morning. I usually put them in glass and cover it – who wants to come upon your beans with lint or cat hair floating on top? Yuck.

About an hour and a half before you want to eat, drain the beans and rinse again (this will make them NOT farty, unless you’re into that sort of thing. Put beans and 3 cups water in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil then lower to simmer. I usually cover them and do a very gentle simmer so as not to break them up.

The beans will probably be done in an hour to hour and a half – depending on, mostly, how fresh they are. Just taste on after an hour and see how tender they are. You don’t want them to fall apart. They can be a teensy bit tough when you drain them because you’re going to cook them some more in the pan.

About that. Drain the beans when they’re done. Melt your oil / fat in a skillet and cook the beans. The goal here is to get them hot and crusty. The larger the pan is the more likely you can make a crispy / crusty version. Five minutes before done, throw on the garlic; last minute, throw on the tamari and Bragg’s to taste.

Serve immediately, room temperature, or cold.

I know this recipe seems laborous but that’s because I want you to have better beans than my first few ventures. And along those lines, here are some:

General Bean-Cooking Tips!

  • When cooking beans don’t add salt, fat, or vinegar until the beans are mostly tender. If you add salt too early, it can keep them tough and no amount of cooking will remedy it.
  • Don’t cook beans in a pressure cooker because apparently it may explode? I don’t know how true this is but who wants to take the chance? Jesus, I really don’t understand this bean thing.
  • “Quick soak” methods, which involve heating the dried beans and letting them soak, make less tasty beans. And more farty ones.
  • Confused? Don’t worry. You’ll get the hang of beans soon. My experience is each type really is a different animal, so proceed by trial-and-error.

Badd-Assssss Split Pea Soup

I am a Soup Hater. I am. Perhaps part of my antipathy originates in that by the time it’s ready to eat I feel like it’s been cooking all day. I’ve been slicing, chopping, smelling. I’m done. Soup also feels somehow insubstantial as a meal. If you put some ravioli or big meatballs in it or somehow manage to float an iceberg of cheese or sour cream on top, OK then. That’s a meal. Otherwise? I’ll be hunting in the fridge again inside an our.

Well, in part to get past my soup-doldrums, a girlfriend and I are trying something new: a Soup Exchange. Namely, she and I cook soup for the other’s family and do a swap. Now, I’m not going to guess or orchestrate what she’ll be providing for my family (please dear baby Jesus, let it be the divine Soprano’s Meatball Soup) – but here is what I’m making hers (recipe from Nancy Rogerson, with a bit of inspiration from another thinner, spicy version of pea soup at allrecipes.com):

1 lb. spicy ground Italian sausage
1/2 cup dried split peas
4 cups (1 carton) chicken stock
6 cups water
1 large potato, peeled and diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper

In a large stock pot, brown the sausage in a bit of oil (either drain or leave in depending on how much oily sheen you want on your soup). Add split green peas, chicken broth, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes.

Add potato and carrot and bring to a boil. Simmer 30 more minutes. Add soy sauce and pepper; serve.

Foodie French Toast

A friend and I bond on a few issues: one of which is our loathing of foodies. She finds them “irritating”, I find them creepy (I don’t like porn in any of its forms). “A splash of this, a drizzle of that”. Fuck you and please give me measurements in teaspoons. Anyway, this is a simple recipe that is also very tasty, fast, and pleasing to the eye. Also very high-fat, another foodie value.

1 small-sized loaf uncut bread (challah or sourdough is best)
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinammon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

12 strawberries
basalmic vinegar

Mix the eggs and half and half until well combined. Whisk in sugar and remaining spices. Cut the bread into inch-thick diagonal slices (will make about six). Place slices in a baking dish (there shouldn’t be too much room left around the slices). Pour the batter over the slices and allow to sit about five minutes. Turn each slice and allow to sit five minutes more.

While waiting for the slices, heat a skillet over medium heat. Cut the strawberries and splash on some vinegar and a bit of sugar. Mix and let set. Add oil to the pan and fry slices on low-medium heat, covered. Flip, cover, and cook other side; slices are done when both sides are golden brown.

Serve while warm! Six large slices that serve about four people.

Guacamole

People are always fucking up guac. Namely, by adding stuff like onions or salsa. Excuse me, but if I want to taint my avacado with salsa I can do the mixing myself. In my opinion, avacados are a form of edible gold and should be messed with as little as possible (the lemon in this recipe will keep the avacado from going that icky black / brown).

3 large perfectly ripe avacados
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt

Mash the avacados. Mix everything else. Gorge yourself.

Cinco de Nacho

Let me tell you something about nachos. I used to watch people eat these and shudder in disgust. This was back when I hated the mere thought of sour cream (WTF?). Nachos were sloppy and gooey. Well, I’ve seen the nacho-light and I’m hear to give back to the community.

Anyway, these nachos. Beautifully colorful. Five ingredients (although the whole point of nachos is to have all sorts of nacho accoutrement). Inspired by Renee who first introduced me to the idea of green olives stuffed with something unusual.

About half a large bag chips (I used these organic red chips for color)
2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can corn
12 stuffed green olives (naturally, I used Santa Barbara Olive Co’s jalapeno-stuffed)

Rinse and drain the beans and corn. Layer the chips, cheese, beans and corn twice (you can use half each can for a sparser nacho). Slice the olives and top. Cook in a 300 oven until heated through and cheese is melted. Serve with guacamole and sour cream.

Serves one party. No one will pick on you for not making enough, because everyone will feel greedy and insecure about wanting to eat the whole thing.