kitsch and kin

"You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism." --Erma Bombeck

This blog is mostly about food.

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What to do with kale, post #29847

I am one of those followers of the long-standing belief that everything is better fried. And while I don’t typically support this amount of oil consumption, I think this meal was a day that I had run five or seven miles. Seven or nine. Well, not nine, but many. The point is, sometimes you need to eat a quinoa-kale-tofu meat ball with homemade “buffalo sauce.” 

The time is now, I say.

And if you happen to have some nutritional yeast and a little flour and bread crumbs on hand, you may as well batter and deep-fry some leftover mushrooms as well. I mean, why not? I think, as long as you’re eating it in a lettuce wrap, you’re a-okay.

So, the recipe. This is a rough approximation.

To make quinoa kale tofu meatballs, mix around two cups of cooked quinoa with about three ounces of tofu and one and a half cups of finely chopped kale. Add the equivalent of one egg, whether that be a flax egg, an egg replacer egg, or an underground chicken egg. Add to that your seasonings (at least a teaspoon of cumin, and some salt and pepper, and at least a teaspoon of nutritional yeast) and form into meatballs, about one and a half to two inches in diameter. Gently fry in oil until the outsides are crispy and the insides are soft. Around four minutes, I’d guess, if I had to.

For deep-fried mushrooms, make a coating out of bread crumbs, seasonings (Italian seasoning? Nutritional yeast? Garlic?), and a little flour. Dunk the mushrooms in water, into the breading, into water, into the breading again, and into the frying pan for best results. The double-dunk seems counter intuitive, but after experimenting with both battered tofu and battered mushrooms, I’m here to tell you that the double dunk is the only way to go. Trust me. I will try this next time with beer, instead of water.

To make the "buffalo" sauce, mix equal parts vegenaise, rooster sauce (sriracha!), and ketchup, with a little spike of apple cider vinegar to keep it tangy. 

Roll the meatballs in a lettuce wrap with chopped turnips, deep-fried mushrooms, and buffalo sauce. This was so good that I actually shouted in dismay when I dropped a piece of turnip on the floor. 

Serve with a poor man’s margarita (tequila and Squirt, please do not judge me) and feel the summer sinking in all around. 

I wish food were prettier than it is sometimes. The taste made up for it, I promise. 

The treacherous and unrecommended act of driving while blogging

Consider yourself lucky that I made it to work this morning. You wouldn’t want to miss this. 

As the CSA continues, I’m getting more creative about using greens. Today’s greens, in addition to the salad I will have at lunch, appeared first at breakfast. 

This is so easy that I might have to do it all the time. Two or three cups of spinach (I just jammed as much into the blender as would fit), a cup of almond milk, two cubes of frozen mango (B froze them in ice cube trays for this express purpose), and a tablespoon of flax seeds, whirred around until smooth.

And it’s actually tasty, in part because the spinach is SO fresh and sweet, but also, the mango and almond milk add just the right amount of sweet. I’m imagining orange juice or blueberries or bananas will be on the horizon. 

Pour it in a jar, and sip while deftly navigating traffic on the way to the office. Don’t forget the coffee. 

Coming soon: pasta salad, greens as crackers, greens as pesto. 

CSA FTW

Reposted from the venerable tomatomountain:

Ginger-fried tofu with spinach and pasta in an Asian-inspired sauce (by Sean)

This is the first recipe I’ve ever posted, and I’m realizing that I am a wordy, wordy fellow. So what I’ll do is give you the long version followed by the short version.

Ingredients: 

However much pasta you’d like to make

1/2 block tofu
Ginger powder
Salt 
A huge handful of spinach 

Miso paste
Soy sauce
Rice vinegar
Mirin (or any cooking wine)
Hot chili paste (I like Sriracha’s chili garlic sauce)

Do it:

1) Boil some water and add some pasta to it. The pasta pictured here is straight-up regular spaghetti, which made for a really nice, toothy dinner. You could do this same recipe with thin rice noodles, and I think it’d be great.

2) Take about half a block of tofu and cut it into whatever size or shape you’d like. I go for thin slabs, about a square inch and just thick enough to easily pick up with a fork. While heating frying oil in the pan, tap out ginger and a little salt onto the small slabs of tofu and rub it in on each side. Once the oil is hot, plunk the slabs in a let them fry, flipping once they’re done on the first side.

3) While these two things are going on, grab a small bowl (or a cup or whatever) and whisk together a tablespoon of miso, a teaspoon of mirin (or use any cooking wine), a tablespoonish amount of soy sauce (taste it as you go to keep it from getting too salty), hot chili paste (I like Sriracha’s garlic chili sauce), and a tablespoon of rice vinegar. Lime juice would probably be really good, too, but I didn’t have any. Whisk until the miso is completely dissolved and you have a sort of sludgy liquid thing going on. A splash of water is fine to thin it out to make sure it covers all the noodles.

4) The tofu will probably need some help coming unstuck from the pan, so you can throw in a splash of rice vinegar and soy sauce to help that along. Leaving the tofu in the pan, add a few big handfuls of spinach. Stir the spinach, bringing the tofu up into the leaves to keep the tofu from burning and to help get that wilting action happening (I use two large wooden spoons to stir spinach anytime I’m cooking it).

5) Once your pasta is done, just throw in however much you’d like, then top it all with sauce and give it one last stir around the hot pan to get everything coated.

I’m not really great with presentation, so what I did was to put this food into a bowl and then eat it. You could easily top it with a sprig of parsley or cilantro, a wedge of lime and some crushed peanuts. But what I did was put it in a large black bowl and eat it. 

Short version:

1)Make pasta
2) Fry tofu in oil with ginger powder, add soy sauce and rice vinegar to tofu once it’s fried,
3) Toss spinach in with the tofu, stirring to cook it down.
4) Make a sauce of miso, soy sauce, hot chili paste, rice vinegar and mirin or cooking wine, tasting it as you go. It should be relatively potent, as it needs to season the whole dish.
5) Toss noodles with spinach/tofu and sauce.

A note about this blog:

This is Tomato Mountain’s Tumblr - a blog of and about produce from Tomato Mountain, a 12-acre farm and processing kitchen near Brookly, WI. The blog is open for submissions from all of you. A preponderance of the produce should come from Tomato Mountain Farm’s CSA, which provides fresh, hand-picked vegetables (and a few select fruits) harvested at the farm and delivered straight to your door once a week. A variety of share sizes and the opportunity to join anytime all season are available at our website, tomatomountain.com

Please follow us, let us know what’s cookin’ at your place, and remember to eat your vegetables!

(via seanshatto)

Green monster

Not jealousy. Although you may feel that, because the CSA. Has. Begun. 

So dinner tonight was the world’s largest salad with a piece of homemade bread on the side for kicks. 

Tonight’s dinner was also pasta with olivada, fresh mozzarella, spinach, and basil. This is so easy that it barely requires a recipe. Just boil pasta. While that’s happening, tear up the spinach and put it in a bowl. Top it with olivada (recipe below) and about an ounce of mozzarella, along with a few leaves of basil if you have them. Then once you’ve drained the pasta, top the spinach mixture with the pasta—the heat of the pasta will slightly wilt the spinach, and it will wilt more as you stir. 

Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper as needed, and serve with a big glass of red.

Olivada
Adapted from Allrecipes.com, but there are thousands of ways to make this. 

3 cups pitted kalamata olives, or 2 cups black olives and 1 cup green olives—whatever you have, but buy the best olives you can. Using canned olives really tastes like the can, and not like a delicious spread.

3-5 cloves of garlic

olive oil

seasonings

Blend the garlic, olives and oil in the food processor and season as desired. Spread on sandwiches, baguette slices, or serve with hot pasta.

That’s all. 

comfort

chicken fried tofu and mashed potatoes. om nom nom.

Collard greens wrap

I think this post is pretty self-explanatory, but that’s not really a good excuse for dallying so very long between posts. In any case, I have been cooking up a storm, even if I haven’t been posting, so I have a lot to offer in the next couple of days. This easy lunch is courtesy of the venerable Honest Fare blog, whose beautiful photography and food I would one day hope to emulate. 

As it stands, I have at least successfully emulated one of her recipes. I think the trick is to get the greens malleable, which is done by soaking them in a water bath with a few drops of vinegar. I cleaned out the bottle of white wine vinegar on these leaves, because that was what I had and it needed to be used. But as long as the leaves are soaked and soft, and you promise to turn on the flash when you photograph the collard greens, whatever vinegar you use should do the trick.

Using a paring knife, carefully cut back the woodiest parts of the stems so that they’re about flush with the rest of the leaf, and lay two of them across each other. You can kind of see that here. Basically, make a large, burrito-sized area on the counter, with overlapping collard stems. Fill with your desired filling of choice. Here you’ll see hummus, chopped veggies (something like salsa verde), green and red peppers, tomatoes, onions, avocado, and shredded carrots. When I do this again, I will add beaucoup de sprouts, since they are just so fresh and delicious tasting. You could add in some matchsticked tofu, or some chickpeas or black beans, or whatever you want. Just be sure not to overfill it, because then the wrap won’t hold together.

Roll it up like you would a burrito, folding the sides over and then rolling the middle.

I am slightly neurotic and knew I wouldn’t be eating this until the next day, so I secured the wrap shut with a few carefully placed toothpicks. If you were eating it right away, I think you could skip that step. I refrigerated mine overnight.

The next day I ate it happily for lunch, knowing that I will soon make these again. You should do the same, dear.

Preview: Collard wrap for lunch. Recipe coming soon.

Preview: Collard wrap for lunch. Recipe coming soon.

Seeded French bread

So, this is another solid recipe from Simply in Season (shameless Brethren Press plug), in their all seasons section at the back of the book. 

If you haven’t gotten your hands on this cookbook, it really is outstanding. It’s organized by seasonal food, and then in the back there are more general recipes—bread, granola, dried beans, tofu, that kind of back-of-the-pantry stuff. This section may have only been the place to put the pancake and waffle recipes, of which there are plenty. 

But, bread.

This is a fairly straightforward bread recipe (as most are), the only notable thing being the seeds on top, which you could add to any old flour and yeast pile.

I chose to add garlic and poppy seeds to one loaf, flax seeds to another, and leave the third plain. This recipe yields three loaves, though I must have only photographed two of them. But I promise, I made three—you’ll see the last one coming up in a future post.

The bread turned out a little more dense than I like, but still, it was very, very delicious. 

Seeded French Bread
 
not at all adapted from Simply in Season

Yields three loaves

Here’s the thing—I am not sure how much I can legally reproduce from a cookbook, since I am just copying verbatim. I think, since I work in publishing, it might be best to err on the side of safety and just tell you that this was a fine recipe indeed, and that you’ll have to look for it in the book, and just enjoy the photos at this point. Sorry. 

Chocolate truffles

You may know that we had a chocolate party a few weeks back. I figured it was about time to share my recipes. 

I made two kinds of truffles, meant to be eaten together. The one on the left is a lavender-chocolate truffle. The one on the right, Earl Grey and chocolate. Both are vegan; the Earl Gray one is all organic as well. They won some sort of prize, though I have to say, I don’t remember which one. I got a Vosges chocolate bar as a prize, that much I know for sure. 

Begin the way you might begin any truffles, by chopping the chocolate to make ganache.

To make the flavored chocolate, I steeped the cream. Warm it over the stove (slowly, don’t scald it) and add in the flavoring. I let the lavender steep much longer than I let the tea steep, resulting in a much stronger flavor in the final candy.

After the ganache has hardened overnight, pull it out of the fridge and bring to room temp. Then, slowly, painstakingly, roll out little balls of ganache. 

This takes a while. Each of these little guys is about the size of a regular marble, and I made close to eighty of them. This is easiest if you just buckle down with a good album on the stereo (I have an entire chocolate party playlist—mostly Beirut and Devendra Banhart, spiked with Janelle Monae (the playlist was much longer than the party, lasting 12.5 hours)), and if you really let the ganache warm up to room temp. I was worried that it wasn’t coming together because I had used soy creamer, but it was because I was working with ganache that was too cool. Once it warmed up, it rolled into truffles just beautifully.

After the truffles have all been rolled out, it’s time to top them. This was an important step—since I was making two kinds, I had to distinguish between the two. You’ll see my first attempts at the lavender ones here. Only ONE is wrapped in a chocolate shell with a lavender bud on top. There were more of those, but I ate them (I had to taste and see if they were going to work, people).

I decided instead to dip the lavender ones in melted chocolate, and then in dark cocoa powder mixed with beautiful white and grey sugar crystals.

The Earl Grey ones I decided to coat in only melted chocolate. Earlier versions of these had a tiny sprinkle of orange zest on top, to bring out the tea flavor, but I decided against it at the last minute. The best way to do this is to heat the chocolate in the microwave (sorry, but it’s true) in thirty second intervals, stirring stirring stirring, so that you don’t over cook it (often, stirring will let you avoid the last 30-40 seconds you think you need to melt it). With gloved hands, I rolled each truffle in the melted chocolate and then gently placed it on parchment paper to set. (Note that for the lavender ones, I did this step and then rolled them in the cocoa powder seen below.)

Lavender truffle rolling station. Please hold your comments about the well-loved cookie sheet.

Earl Grey truffle insides.

I’ll leave you with a recipe for the basic truffle method and let you handle the customizing yourself. You could make these basic chocolate, or you could use white chocolate instead, for a twist. Or you could add orange zest, or Kahlua, or cinnamon and cardamom, or bacon and molasses (just a little—strain it from the cream before mixing with the chocolate). 

I used to play this game with a friend where we’d try to come up with two foods that DIDN’T go together, and it’s harder than you think. The same is true with these truffles—most anything goes with chocolate, and the fun is in the experimenting. Though I guess, maybe next year, the fun might be in winning. 

Chocolate truffles

Heavily adapted from this recipe found at Epicurious.com.

2/3 cup heavy cream (I debated for a long time about whether to use coconut cream or soy cream. I ended up using soy cream because it was something like 50 cents cheaper at the store)

2 teaspoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves (I used Intelligentsia)

6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Green and Blacks, 70 percent cacao)

1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1. Simmer the cream over low heat and add in the tea leaves or the lavender or whatever spice combination you come up with.

2. Finely chop the chocolate. This is one of those times where the kitchen scale has come in so handy—I just chopped and chopped until I got exactly the right amount.

3. Strain the cream to remove the tea leaves. Pour the cream over the chocolate to make the ganache. Stir gently until all the pieces are dissolved. Let the ganache set for about an hour—or half an hour if you stick it in the fridge. 

4. If you hardened the ganache in the refrigerator, pull it out and bring it up to room temp. Scoop and form tiny balls of ganache—mine are about the size of marbles. 

5. Melt a little more chocolate, in the microwave, at thirty second intervals. Again, stir it to remove lumps—be patient, and they’ll all just smooth out. 

6. Dip each little truffle in chocolate and then either roll it in cocoa powder or let it harden on a plate. 

Beauty school dropout

Here’s what sunchokes won’t do: win any beauty contests.

Before cooking, they resemble ginger roots, or some other dead, undelicious thing. But like ginger root, they pack a punch, and carry an indescribable flavor.

Handle sunchokes (or Jerusalem artichokes) like you would handle potatoes. Slice, roast, boil, add butter, puree. Oh puree, you say? I just may. 

The resulting mash will look an unappetizing green, but it will be well worth your time. Sunchokes are sweeter than potatoes, but with a different flavor that sweet potatoes themselves. Considering that they are the roots of sunflowers, it may be the very light of the sun that tastes so decadent. Or it may just be that they’ve got a lot of sugar in them. But friends, these are delightful and you should not waste a minute getting your hands on some. (I got mine at the Dill Pickle.)

Sunchoke puree

1 lb sunchokes, washed (I did not even peel these)

2 yukon potatoes

Soy milk

Dill oil, salt, and pepper to taste

1. Boil a pot of water and salt it generously. To it, add the sunchokes and potatoes. Boil until tender by the touch of a fork. 

2. Drain off the water, and with a handmixer, blend the potatoes and sunchokes until they resemble mashed potatoes, adding soy milk and olive oil as needed.

3. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

As we all know, woman cannot live by sunchokes alone, so an obvious main course to that side is spaghetti squash with Indian-spiced chickpeas. I have no picture of the whole squash, but I think you know the one. A huge, yellow football with smooth skin.

1. Just roast the whole squash (with several holes poked in it—though I have never seen one explode, I don’t know that I’m really interested). 

2. Halve it and carefully (it will be hot) fork out the insides. Remove the seeds and smushy ribs and discard. The flesh of the squash will pull into strings that resemble spaghetti, hence the name. Put these in a baking dish and put that baking dish in a 200*F oven to keep warm.

3. Meanwhile, saute your chickpeas.

4. These little beans are covered in a wide variety of dried spices. Madras curry powder, fenugreek, ginger, saag curry mix, some other stuff. Probably garam masala. It’s been a while, admittedly, since I made these. But obviously, use whatever spices you like. I wanted these to be extra flavorful, since they topped the otherwise-un-seasoned spaghetti squash. 

5. OH. There were shallots, sauteed in olive oil and white wine, and then toasted almond slivers over the top. This stuff was really, really good. 

6. Serve with a side of barely cooked dinosaur kale. Delicious.