French Onion Soup

I have no idea why, but last week I was sitting in the couch watching TV and all the sudden wanted french onion soup. I have made Alton Brown’s recipe from Good Eats before and loved it. I didn’t feel like looking up his recipe so I did it off the top of my head. The real recipe calls for butter, beef broth, and wine. I don’t eat butter or beef broth, so I used vegan margarine, vegetable broth. I also used beer  because I did not feel like buying a bottle of wine and my boyfriend has plenty of beer in the fridge. The beer did give a different flavor, a little bit more yeasty/salty, but I liked it. Michael did not complain either.

Onions are amazing. They can help clean out your digestive system, have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some research even suggests they have cancer fighting abilities. Ever why onions make you cry? Wouldn’t you try to blind your enemy if they were trying to cut you open and eat you!

This makes 2-3 servings.

French Onion Soup
2 large white onions, cut into thin half slices
3 tbs of vegan margarine
Pinch of salt
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bottle of beer (I used Long Board)
1 can of vegetable broth
3 cup of water
Salt and Pepper to better

Cut onions in half, then into thin slices. Mince the garlic.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the onions and a pinch of salt.

Stir everything together well and spread into a even layer on the bottom of the pan. Let it sauté for a few minutes, stir and spread out evenly again. Repeat until all the onions are brown and caramelized. This could take awhile, be patient and don’t crank up the heat.

Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or two.

Add the beer and scrap up all stuff from the bottom of the pot.

Add the broth and water, and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and cover. Let it cook for 30 minutes.

You can get all fancy and put in little ramekins and cover them with a cheese-covered crouton and bake in them in the oven. Or, do what I did and put a little cheese on top and serve them with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Roti and Cilantro Chutney

Here are the other two dishes from my awesome Indian dinner. Like I said in my last post, I had never heard of roti before. I have always had nice fluffy naan bread at Indian restaurants. But Michael said his family eats roti, which is more like a soft tortilla, so I thought I would try making them. I looked up some recipes and watched a few videos, and thought I would give it a try. I knew they were not going to come out perfect because I do not have a rolling pin and I used all purpose flour, not wheat flour like the recipes  call for. Also, since I had never had them before and do not know that much about Indian cooking, I had no frame of reference. But, being a good girlfriend, I went ahead anyways.  Michael said mine tasted right, but were too crunchy. I will try making them again, following the same recipe but actually following the method more correctly.

However, my cilantro chutney was amazing and Michael had no complaints. The aloo mattar was good on it’s own, but was fantastic with this chutney.



Roti
1/2 Cup Whole wheat flour
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon of Oil

Pinch of Salt
1 teaspoon vegan butter 











In a small bowl, mix together the flour, water, and salt into a soft dough. 


Add the oil and knead together until it is no longer sticky. 


Transfer the dough to flat surface and divide into 4 round balls. 


Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with some oil. 


Roll the balls into 1/8 thick rounds. 


Ok, so I had a hard time with the following steps….


Place the rounds into the skillet and cook for a few seconds until the edges begin to curl up and bubbles begin to appear on the top. 


Flip it over until the bubble appear on this side as well. 


Flip over again and begin to press down and rotate the roti. Repeat all the way around until it puffs up and becomes golden in a few spots. 


Remove from the skillet and brush with some vegan butter. 


Repeat with the remaining rounds. 



Cilantro Chutney
1 large bunch of cilantro
1 garlic clove
2 serrano peppers, chopped
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1 tbs of salt
1 tsp garam masala 
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp of asafetida
Water, if needed


Put everything into the blender and blend until smooth.  


I was very satisfied in with this whole dinner, and can’t wait to try making more Indian food…and hopefully not “white people Indian food” as Michael called it. Hope you like it too!







Thanksgiving 2011: Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I saved my favorite Thanksgiving dish for last. I LOVE mashed potatoes. When I was a teenager I used to eat a bowl of instant mashed potatoes for lunch most days. I am happy to say I have grown out of those unhealthy days and I don’t eat mash potatoes that often anymore. But, they are still one of my favorite foods. Creamy, buttery, and fluffy—what’s not to love? And, I thought garlic would make them special for holiday.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
4 Russet potatoes
1 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tbs more vegan butter
1/2 cup rice milk (soy milk works fine too) 
Salt and pepper, to taste
Wash, peal, and quartered the potatoes. 
Place the potatoes in the pot you plan the boiling them in. Covered the potatoes with cold water. Let them soak for at least 15 minutes. This allows the starch to leach out so they mash better. 

Place a lid on the pot, place it on the burner, and bring it to a boil. 
While that comes to a boiling, the 1 tbs of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once it melts, add the minced garlic. Cook until golden, but careful not to burn it. 
Once it’s ready, remove from heat and set aside. 
Check the potatoes once they have boiled for a few minutes, they will be ready when a fork can be easily inserted all the through a quarter with no resistance. Once they are ready, remove from heat and drain. 
Return the potatoes back to the pot, add the garlic, the other 1/2 tbs of butter, and rice milk. Mash the potatoes until smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated. 
Now you have a big bowl of potato heaven! I hope you love this as much as I did. 

Thanksgiving 2011: Green Beans with Caramelized Onions

Green bean casserole was one of my favorite Thanksgiving sidedishes before I went vegan. But do you have any idea how many calories, sodium, and preservatives a traditional recipe can have? Even if you make it with all vegan ingredients like vegan sour cream and soup mixes, it still a lot of proceeded foods. I still wanted the taste of green beans and onions, but not all the junk. So I decided to keep it simple, caramelized onions and pan roasted green beans, cooked in just a little bit of vegan butter. This makes two servings.

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions
1 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 medium onion, sliced into half rings
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
2 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup green beans, washed and the ends cut off
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the vegan butter.

Add the onions and cook until the they are golden and caramelized. Turn the heat down as needed and be careful not to burn them. Be patient and don’t crank the heat in frustration if it takes awhile.

When the onions are just about done, add the ginger and garlic. Cook until the garlic is slightly golden and the ginger softens. Again be careful not to burn anything.

Add the green beans, and seasoning to taste. Cook until the green beans soften and start to brown.

It may take some time, but this recipe is simple and healthy. I loved the pop of green on my Thanksgiving plate. The ginger is what totally makes this dish.

Mashed Plantains

I mentioned yesterday in my Sopa de Mani post that I had a side of mashed plantains. They were so good I decided to give it it’s own post. I have wanted to cook something with plantains for awhile now. I’ve never had them before, but I see them all the time in the Hilo Farmers Market. I finally bought some this weekend and then searched for a recipe. I kept finding various ways to to fry them, which does sound delicious but not the healthiest. Then, I found one for mashed plantains. Made just like mashed potatoes, but boiling plantains and adding a bit of spices. I loved the idea and thought it was the healthier option.

Plantains are less sweet and starchier than bananas. Common in the tropics and along the pacific, they are a staple in South and Central America cuisine. They need to be cooked before eaten and are usually eaten while still green (I used yellows ones because I did not know green ones are better for cooking). Like bananas, they are high in potassium and fiber.

Mashed Plantians
2 large plantians
1 tsp butter
salt and pepper
chili powder
red pepper flakes

First, peal the plantains. This is best done by first cutting off the ends.

Then making an incision into the peal length wise. You might make another on the other side too.

Then pull the peal off.

Next remove the seeds inside. Cut the plantain in half.

Then cut just to the side of the seeds.

Now cut off the top strip with the seeds.

Cut the plantains into smaller pieces so they fit into the pot better.

Add to a large pot or saucepan and cover with water.

Bring to boil over high heat and cook until tender.

Drain and return back to the pot. Add the butter and mash until smooth. You may need to add a bit of water to help the texture.

Add the seasoning to taste.

Taste similar to bananas but a bit starchier. Sweet with some spice, but neutral enough to go with most main dishes. I even ate the leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

"Cheesy" Breadsticks and Mushroom Sauce

I had pizza night last night because I have plans for tonight (Bad Geology Movie Night for the geology club, geeky I know) but I still wanted my pizza night. When I was about what kind of pizza to make, I thought of Pizza Hut, which made me think of its breadsticks. So I decided to make some. But, a big pile of cheesy bread is not a healthy dinner, so I decided to add some more veggies to sauce to add some more nutrients. There was sale on mushrooms at the store (99 cents a pound!) so I went with a mushroom sauce with some fresh basil from patio garden.

Mushroom Sauce
1 cup button or white mushrooms, de-stemed and diced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
1 can tomato sauce
Handful fresh basil, chopped
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Wash, de-stem, and dice the mushrooms. Chop the onion and garlic too.

Heat some olive oil in a pot over medium heat.

Add the mushrooms and cook until they release most of their water.

Add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onions begin soften and the mushroom water evaporates.

Add the wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape up the stuff up from the bottom.

Add the tomato sauce and stir well.

Add the red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.

Cook for a minutes so all the flavors come together.

Take it off the heat and add the chopped basil.

This would be lovely over pasta, but it’s an even better dipping sauce for breadsticks…

“Cheesy” Breadsticks
1 pre-made pizza dough (try mine)
Italian Seasoning
Garlic salt
Vegan mozzarella cheese (I used Daiya)

Pre-heat the oven to as high as it will go and spray a pizza pan with cooking spray.

Roll your pizza dough into a rectangle. This dough I made last week and froze.


Cut into about 1 inch strips.

Arrange the strips on the pizza pan.

Sprinkle with desired amounts of Italian seasoning and garlic salt.

Top with desired amount of mozzarella.

If you want some extra flavor and crunch, you could brush on some olive oil before you put the toppings on.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until the dough is slightly golden. I like mine on the softer side but you can bake them longer if you want more crunch.


I had my breadsticks and mushroom sauce with a side of olives for bit more salt. And of course the rest of my Pinot Noir.

Warning, this dinner may attract your new 9-month old kitty.

Meet Penny, got her from an animal sanctuary on Tuesday. 

Go Ducks: Yell-O and Green Nachos

For the past 6 years of my life, every Saturday from September to December is taken over by Oregon Duck football. I am proud graduate University of Oregon and needless to say, I bleed green and yellow. I loved going to the games with my sorority sisters and yelling “O” until we went hoarse. I have sadly had to spend the past seasons and this one cheering from Hawaii. But just because I am in the middle of  the Pacific doesn’t mean I don’t get all ducked-out. I either go to a local sports bar or watch from home, but regardless I have my jersey on and shout like a maniac.

Today the Ducks face off against LSU, a game that will sure deserve a special blog post. So I decided to make something green and yellow (U of O colors), and finally settled on nachos. I made queso sauce from nutritional yeast and used salsa verde for the colors. Plus some jalapeños for some spice and because they are little O’s. I wanted to top it all off with some vegan sour cream, but my store was sold out.

I just realized this is also fitting because our coach is named Chip.

Yell-O and Green Nacho
Queso sauce:
4 tbs vegan butter
1 and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, divided

3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup unsweetened, plain soy milk

1/2 tbs garlic powder
1tps cumin
1 tps parkia
1 tps chili powder
1/2 tsp pepper
The rest of the stuff:
1/4 medium onion, chopped
1 cup soy” beef” crumbles (I used Smart Ground)
Tortilla chips
Salsa verde
Jalapeños
Vegan sour cream

To make the queso sauce, add the vegan butter and 1 cup of the nutritional yeast to saucepan over medium/low heat. Incorporate the two together to make a sort of roux. It should clump together and get a little golden.

Add the vegetable broth and soy milk. Whisk together so there are no lumps.

Add the garlic powder, cumin, paprika, chili powder and pepper. You can add salt if you like, but mine didn’t need it. Mix together well.

Reduce the heat to low. Let it reduce and thicken, stirring frequently. Taste it after awhile, if it need more “cheese” flavor, add some more nutritional yeast.

In skillet, lightly brown the chopped onion. Then add the soy crumbles. Cooked until heated through.

Once the queso sauce is smooth and thicken slightly, it’s time to assemble.

On a large plate or platter, scatter desired amount of chips. There is enough sauce for at least 5 serving so be generous.

Next sprinkle on the soy crumble mixture.

Now pour on the queso sauce.

Now add the desired about of salsa verde.

If your store didn’t run out of sour cream like mine did, add a few dollops.

Top with desired about of jalapeños so your nachos are yelling “O”.

Turn on the Ducks game, open a Widmer (or any other fine Oregon brew) and get ready to cheer! Win the days boys!

Barszcz: Polish Beet Soup

I’ve always wanted to try borscht, called barszcz in Polish. I love the taste of beets and figured all those jokes about the soup being awful soup were from McDonalds-addicted, over-processed food lovers. Now that I’ve tasted it, I know that is exactly the case. It has a mild and slightly rich flavor, totally in love.  My mom say it’s ok, but my grandma said she loves it too. Although she loves, my mom said she didn’t make it very much while my mom was growing up because my grandpa hates beets. Apparently he didn’t even want them in the house! I must confess that grating beets is a pain, so I shared my grandpa’s hatred while I was prepping everything at least. This recipe is based on one from cooks.com called Polish Beet Soup.




Barszcz
4 cups water
1/2 stick of vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
4 good-sized beets
1 medium-sized onion
Salt

This part really sucks to do. I suggest wearing gloves so your hands do not turn bright red.  Peel and grate the beets and onion.

Add the 4 cups of water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the vegan butter.

Once the butter has melted, add the grated vegetables and salt to taste.

Cook for about 1/2 an hour, until the beets and onions are cooked.

If you want hot soup, serve it immediately. But I wanted mine cold so I made mine earlier in the day and then let it chill till dinner.

Top with some vegan sour cream (try Tofutti) and some dill or chives. My dad and I loved it, my mom wasn’t a big fan. I guess she takes after her dad.

One last Polish recipe posting up soon.

Polish Rye Bread

The Polish side of is calling out again. I am heading back to Hawaii in a few days and won’t have my lovely parents to cook for. So I decided to make Polish food for dinner tonight, embrace our heritage once again. Like I said on my pierogi post, a lot of polish food is not vegan so I need to change the recipes a bit. But despite the lack of eggs or pork here and there, they are pretty authentic.

I have never had barszcz, Polish variant of borscht, so I thought give it a try. I love beets so why not try a beet soup? While I was looking for recipes online, a bunch more Polish recipes came up too. I asked my mom what kluski is and when she explained they are delicious little homemade noodles, I knew I had to make them. Then I thought well, what would a Polish dinner be without kapusta? Kapusta is pretty much just plain sauerkraut and it is delicious….makes the house stink though. 
Then I thought a nice home-baked rye would go lovely with the barszcz so I added that to the list too.  I love its dry but savory taste. Plus, my dad was practically drooling over some we saw on TV last night so I figured he would be happy. 
Rye bread is not that complicated to make, just like with any bread you just need to be patience and not overwork it. And it’s already vegan! I found a recipe for a simple breadmaker version called Polish Rye Bread on Group Recipes, but adapted it for normal baking methods. 

Polish Rye Bread

1 cup warm water
1 packet dry yeast
1 and 1/2 tbs molasses  
3/4 cup rye flour
2 cups bread flour
2 tps caraway seeds
1 tps salt 
1 tbs vegetable oil 

Dissolve the packet of yeast into the warm water. I suggest doing this in a measuring cup. Add the molasses. Stir lightly if needed. Set aside until it all bubbly and frothy. 

I did my mixing and kneading in a stand mixer. I wish I had one of these in Hawaii. Can’t wait to not be a broke college kid and have a real kitchen. In the mixer bowl, add both flours, caraway seeds, and salt. Mix together well by hand. 

Turn on the mixer to the lowest setting and slowly add the yeast mixture. Use bread hook attachment. Then add the oil. Continue mixing until smooth and slightly elastic. 

Remove the bowl from the stand, cover with plastic wrap (I suggest putting a rubber band around it too) and cover with a dish towel (ścierka in Polish, I’ve been taught a few random words). Put in a warm place like the laundry room to proof. If you live in humid place, that’s really not an issue so just set aside anywhere really. My bread proofs so quickly in Hawaii. 

Momma rolled it out for me.

Once it’s risen, punch it down again. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and roll the dough out on it a bit. Shape into the size of pan.

Spray a bread pan with cooking spray and place in the dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and a clothe again, then set aside to proof a second time. 
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  
Once it’s risen the second time, pop it in the over for 20 minutes. My mom made the suggestion of putting some hot water in a pot in with the bread to help crisp up the crust. 

Next, remove the pot of water and remove the bread from the pan. Put the freed bread back in the oven and bake for 10 more minutes. 

Your baking times may vary based on your oven. 

My bread skills need some work…my bread came out kinda dense. But  it was still pretty good. Like I said, if you are patience and take your time, your bread should come out lovely.  I would suggest more salt, my mom thinks more molasses. 

It smells so good. 
I’ll post the rest of the Polish recipes later. Still in the process of cooking all of them! 

Guacamole 3 ways

I’ve lived in my new place all summer now and apparently never bothered to look up when I walked out the door. My friend Shane last week mentioned there was an avocado tree right outside my door and I was surprised. He picked a whole bunch of them for me and I’ve been patiently waiting all week for them to ripen.

I decided to make 3 types of guacamole: basic, mango, and hot roasted pepper. The basic is just the traditional with some tomatoes, onions, garlic, and lime juice. The mango is the same, just add some chopped mango. The roasted pepper obviously has a roasted bell pepper, and for some kick, some Serrano hot peppers.

Basic Guacamole
1/4 cup onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium tomatoes 
2 large ripe avocados
Juice of 2 limes 
Pinch of salt

Chop the onion and garlic into desired sizes. I like my a little guacamole a chunky so I did mine into small chunks. Add to a large bowl.

Cut the tomatoes into about the same size the onion. Add to the bowl.

Avocados aren’t hard to cut up, but they can be messy. Alton Brown explains it better than I can, so watch from minutes 2:50 to 3:40 of this clip if you don’t know how.

 

Chop the avocado into equal size pieces to the onion and tomato and add to the bowl.

Now squirt on the juice from the limes and sprinkle on the pinch of salt.

Mix it all up, breaking up the avocado chunks a little bit as you go and now you have yummy basic guacamole!

Mango Guacamole
1/4 cup onion
1 clove garlic
1 cup mango
1 medium tomato
2 large avocados
Red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of salt

 
Peal and chop up the mango into desired chunks.

Follow all the directions above for the basic guacamole, but just add the mango and some red pepper flakes. I add the red pepper in this one because I like the contrast with the sweetness of the mango.

Hot Roasted Pepper Guacamole
1/4 cup onion
1 clove garlic
1 medium tomato
1 bell pepper, roasted
2 ripe avocados
2 Serrano peppers
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of Salt

I decided to puree this version because I thought the flavors would mesh together better. This is my new favorite way to make guacamole now!

You can buy the jarred roasted red peppers if you like for this, but I roasted my own. Just spray a pan with cooking spray and the pepper as well. Place under the broiler until the skin is charred black.

Once it is cooled (unless you like burning yourself on hot vegetables), peal off the brunt skin and chop into chunks.

Follow the steps for the basic guacamole, but this time throw everything, including the roasted pepper but not the Serrano pepper, into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Next chop the stem tops off the Serrano peppers. Then cut in half lengthwise. If you don’t like it hot, you can tone it down by scraping out the seeds.

I like it hot so I so i added the whole thing to the blender. Blend until it is incorporated.

I topped some homemade black beans with the basic guacamole for lunch today.

Good thing I like guacamole because I’ll be eating the rest of the week now!