Tag Archive | vegetarian

Mexican Food for a Snowstorm

I don’t know about you, but really terrible weather makes me want to eat food from warmer places, like Mexico or the Middle East/North Africa. This past weekend was no exception. Like the rest of DC (and much of the East Coast) I got snowed in by the monster storm over the weekend. So before the storm hit I made sure I had everything I needed for something tasty and sort of fusion-y Mexican empanadas. Yes, I know empanadas are a South American thing (I certainly ate a lot of them in Chile) but I decided to make a more Mexican-inspired filling for them.

Dough
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4-1/2 cup water
1-2 tablespoons wine vinegar

Dump the flour in a bowl. Mix the water and vinegar together and pour most of it in with the flour and add the butter. Mix until a ball of dough forms, adding more water as necessary. Cover and set aside while you make the filling. It should be pliable, but the vinegar will make it even more so as it sits.

Filling
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 yellow onion, diced
1/2 a yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
2 ounces queso blanco or queso fresco
Oil

Saute the onions and garlic in oil for a few minutes. Then add the bell pepper, then the zucchini, salt, pepper and cumin. Once all the veggies are done, stick into a bowl and mix in the crumbled queso.

filling.JPG

Assembly
Roll out the dough as thin as you can without it tearing. Use a biscuit cutter, jar or small bowl to cut out circles in the dough. Heat oil for frying in a large pan. Spoon 2 tablespoons-ish of filling into each circle. Fold it into a half-moon, sealing the edges. Stick in the pan and fry until both sides are golden brown and place on paper towels to soak up excess oil. Serve with salsa.

Mex empanadas.JPG

This was a really really tasty recipe. There was something immensely satisfying about eating it while the storm raged outside. Beyond that, I just really liked the way it tasted, although I should have added chiles. When you make it you should probably add chiles – that will only improve the recipe. I has this with Anchor’s winter wheat beer, as I really love the combo of wheat beers and Mexican-esque foods. And this was a super Californian thing of me to make, so an SF beer is only appropriate. Song of the Week: Just Like Heaven by The Cure. To be honest, there isn’t any song I was obsessed with or felt strongly about this week, so I decided to just go with a classic.

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Sauceless Goat Cheese-Kale Pizza

So I’ve been back to trying to do more and different things with kale for the past several weeks. And I came across this recipe which seemed interesting. Now I wasn’t interested in the exact way they prepared the “grandma’s pie” thingy, but I was curious about the way they decided to prep the kale so I decided to combine it with pizza dough and make a fairly simple sauce-less pizza recipe.

Two large kale leaves, ripped into bit sized pieces
Lemon juice, about ½ lemon
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Pepper
2 ounces goat cheese

Stick the kale in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set on the counter and let it sit for at least an hour and a half. While the kale is sitting, make the pizza dough.

Dough
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package yeast
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4-1 cup flour

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water, and let it sit til the yeast gets all foamy, about 10 minutes or so. Add the olive oil, and then mix in the flour, a little at a time, until a soft dough ball forms. Knead the dough until it is elastic, then set aside to rise for like an hour. This recipe will make either two little pizza-tarts, or one larger one.

Once the dough has risen, divide it into half, and roll out the dough into a circle. Stick it on a pizza stone. Stick the kale mixture on top of the dough, and then cover with the crumbled goat cheese. Stick in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so at 400. Serve warm.

kale pizza

This was actually really tasty. It’s also easy and the actual cooking takes very little time. Letting the kale sit for so long meant you could still taste the lemon a bit, which I thought was a nice touch. As you can see from the picture, I had this with Anchor’s Winter Wheat beer, which is really good and paired really well. Song of the week: Late in the Evening by Paul Simon. I’m a big Paul Simon fan and this is a lesser known but really fun song; great to groove to while walking or cooking.

A Vegetarian in South America

So when I told my friends in the states that I was going to South America for two weeks, a common response was along the lines of “omg steak in Argentina!! oh wait…. what are you going to eat then?” What indeed? My basic knowledge of both countries suggested that neither were particularly vegetarian-friendly, being either beef-centric (Argentina) or seafood-centric (Chile). But both had some Italian influence, and I’ve managed in plenty of countries – besides, that’s part of the adventure right?

To be perfectly honest, I was disappointed in Chile – I assumed, incorrectly, that a country which exported so much produce would be fairly vegetarian-friendly. You can totally manage, but you manage by eating pizza and sandwiches. Those are obviously not the only things I ate while I was there, but they were a good chunk of it. I feel like I ate mostly bread and cheese and tomatoes, in various forms while I was there. That said, I did have a couple really good sandwiches.

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This one I got in a cafe in Puerto Varas, Caffe El Barrista. Their food was actually so good I went their twice. This sandwich was lettuce, sauteed scallions and mushrooms, and goat cheese either cooked with, or possibly marinated in soy sauce. I’m not sure exactly where is came in but it was definitely in there.

One of the strangest tasty foods I had was at RestoBar in Ancud. This place does a bunch of things, including “TexMex” which naturally I had to try. So I ordered their vegetarian burrito. My burrito (which was big enough for 2-3 people) was just sautéed vegetables that had been mixed with lemon juice I think on the inside and then cheese was melted over the top of the burrito, and then there was a thin layer of sour cream and guacamole. And the whole thing was surrounded by Doritos. It was really good. Not TexMex, but really good.

sorry about the pic - I blame the restaurant's lighting

sorry about the pic – I blame the restaurant’s lighting

Mendoza was an amazing surprise – the food there was delicious and so many options for vegetarians! And while Argentina may be renowned for beef, they do pasta like nobody’s business. The best I had was at Siete Cocinas, a super nice restaurant I went to for my last meal in Argentina (warning, its a prix fixe menu). It was goat cheese ravioli with fresh tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, and sweet roasted sunflower seeds. It was amazing. I had it with a perfectly paired glass of malbec (wines are getting their own post).

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Another incredibly delicious thing I had was at El Palenque, and it was crepes filled with a spiced corn mixture, with cheese on top. They were served in a bowl that was then filled with cream sauce. I suppose anything swimming in cream sauce would be delicious, but this was up there. I’d post the picture, but all you’ll see is a bowl of white, so you’ll have to take my word for it.  Song of the Week: Open Road Song, by Eve 6 – one of my top 3 late 90s rock bands, I’ve been jamming to this song a lot for the past couple days. It’s awesome so you should jam along with it too.

 

Sunshine Polenta Casserole

Seriously, the weather in DC has been gorgeous for the last week or two. Warm, sunny but without the humidity that makes you die a little that happens in the summer. So I wanted to celebrate the sunshine a bit and have a sunshine-y meal. Naturally, this meant lots of yellow. I was considering lemon cupcakes, but instead I decided to make a casserole. So – I used yellow as my base – polenta – and yellow as my main veggie – yellow bell pepper. The result was very pretty.

sunshine casserole

Sunshine Polenta Casserole
3/4 cup polenta
2 1/4 cup water
salt
pepper
1/3 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/3 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
gouda cheese, grated
olive oil

Boil the water with some salt. Add the polenta and boil, stirring constantly, making sure to get rid of any lumps that formed. Cook until soft and no longer grainy. Spread in a casserole dish and set aside. Toss the onion, bell pepper, and garlic with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture on top of the polenta. Then add the dried basil and the grated cheese. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until it starts turning golden. Serve warm.

Oh this was soo good. Fairly simple and easy to throw together, and the flavors all mesh well together. It tastes a little sweet and I think it is very sunshine-y, which of course was the goal. I had this with a Malbec-Syrah blend from Argentina. It might not be cold yet, but I’ve switched to red wine from white. Song of the week: Sunshine Superman by Donovan. I love Donovan; even though his quality is uneven at best his good stuff is gold. This isn’t actually my favorite Donovan song, but it seems particularly apt for the week.

How is this not a Dessert? Apple Kugel

This week I had a terribly difficult time trying to find a new recipe which seemed appealing to do. So I was talking it over with my BFF and she suggested I try making kugel, which I’d never made before, and sent over he family’s favorite recipe, which is for apple kugel. It looked pretty tasty, but going over the recipe I was like, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, apples … wait a sec, is this a dinner dish or a dessert? She assured me it was a dinner dish, although suggested I pair it with something healthy, like a salad.

Apple Kugel
8 ounces egg noddles
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1 egg white
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup raisins
2 granny smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced

Cook the egg noodles until just shy of al dente (or, if you are me, until they are done). Drain and stick back into the pot. Add the butter and let it melt into the noodles, stirring so all the noodles are covered in butter. Toss with the applesauce as well. In a large bowl, bear the eggs, egg whites, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla. Add the apple, raisins, and noodles and mix the whole thing together thoroughly. Stick in a pan (I used both my 8X8 and my oval baking dish – this makes a lot). Now, the recipe said to cover, bake at 350 for 45 minutes, and then 15 uncovered at 375 for the final 15. However, I didn’t have aluminum foil, and didn’t feel like buying any, so uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes it was! Serve warm or room temperature.

kugel

This was incredibly tasty, but I’m not convinced it isn’t secretly a dessert. It tastes like a dessert, noodles not withstanding. I had this with a green salad and a reisling, as I figured a slightly sweeter wine would work better (and it did!!) Also, this dish makes for an awesome breakfast the next day. Just a warning – the recipe makes a ton of food, so I’m hoping my BFF was right and it really does freeze well. Song of the Week: Sunday Morning by Maroon 5. For some reason this song just spoke to me this week. I had a ton of anxiety that I soothed by listening to this song on repeat until I was calm.