Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rainbow Chard with Black Beans (No Added Fat)

My daughter and I picked out a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard a day or two ago, and I thought it would be nice to make a pressure-cooked meal with it today. I thought that I'd include some finely chopped potato so that it could cook along with the chard in 3 minutes, and wanted to include some black beans that we had on hand. Unfortunately, on principle, my Dad won't eat any leftover foods, so I was momentarily stumped. Then I realized that I could make my dish sans beans, serve it to him, and mix in the beans for the rest of us - and some garlic (he doesn't eat garlic), as well! This is what I did:

Ingredients
  • Medium or large Yukon gold (or other) potato cut into small cubes about 1/8" or slightly smaller
  • About a quarter cup (maybe a fifth of a large onion I had) onion chopped into 1/4" x 1/2" strips
  • Rainbow (or Swiss) chard bunch, stems cut into 1/2" lengths and leaves hand torn into approximately 3/4" squares
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup prepared black beans
  • 1 clove (NOT whole bulb!) garlic, finely diced
  • Salt to taste (I used approx. 1/2 t), as well as freshly ground black pepper (I used about 1/4 t)
  • Approx. 1/2 t tarragon
Process

  1. I put everything but the beans, garlic, and seasonings into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked on high pressure for 3 minutes.
  2. When it cooled down a bit, I gently released steam, added the seasonings, and served to my Dad.
  3. I added the garlic and black beans, and served to the rest of us.
I also served some corn kernels and fresh tomato with hemp seeds.


Results

Dinner came out well! The main course was better than I had expected. Initially, my daughter liked the main course, but then the raw garlic was "spicy" to her, so she lost interest, unfortunately.

Ideas for the future

The garlic was indeed strong and would have been better cooked with the vegetables. I really liked the main course and can't think of useful changes except perhaps including a little bit of squash or pumpkin with the vegetables.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Baby Sweet Potato with Brussels Sprouts and Lentils (No Added Fat)

Yesterday, a friend brought a bag of small sweet potatoes that she has been finding at her nearby farmer's market. I'll call them "baby sweet potatoes" and update here with a comment anything else that she may find out from the market about them. They are thin, maybe 5-6" long and about 1/2" thick. I loved the idea of cooking with them, as they should cook quickly. Here is what I came up with for tonight though, as described below, it turns out we'll eat this tomorrow.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 10 Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 10 baby sweet potatoes (approx. 6" long by maybe 1/2" thick; it was about a half cup); for regular sweet potatoes, just cut them into pieces 3-6" long and 1/2" or so thick
  • approx. 1/2 cup onion cut into approx. 1" x 1/4" strips (about a quarter of a large sweet onion); another 1/2 cup cut into 3/8" cubes reserved
  • 4 leaves kale, stems discarded (composted), and roughly hand torn into approx. 3/4" squares
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 2t finely chopped ginger
  • Salt (I used about 1/4 t) and freshly ground black pepper (I used about 1/8 or 1/4 t) to taste
Process

  1. I put the lentils, 1 1/2 cups water, and bouillon cube in the Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker and cooked for 10 minutes.
  2. When it cooled down a bit, I gently released steam and added the Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, the first 1/2 cup of onion, kale, turmeric, and ginger, then cooked for another 6 minutes at high pressure.
  3. When I was ready to serve (or not - see result below), I slowly removed the remaining pressure and opened the lid, mixing in the second half cup of onion, as well as salt and pepper.
I also made some quinoa.


Results

I had already quickly fed my hungry kiddo earlier some leftovers. My wife decided not to eat; she had gone out to a film and eaten earlier. So, it was my Dad, whom I did serve the meal, and me left. I hate to eat before my wife, so decided to save tonight's dinner and serve it tomorrow. As I usually do when spicing at the end, I took a little sample - it tasted good!

Ideas for the future

A little garlic might have gone well with the dish, as well as a little hot pepper, but my Dad wouldn't have eaten with the garlic, and my daughter would have objected to the second.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Brown Lentil Dhal with Sweet Potato and Baby Greens (No Added Fat)

It was a cool and rainy day, and the idea of a hot lentil dish sounded appealing. I made a nice brown lentil dhal with kale, corn, and preserved lemon this past July in my Instant Pot pressure cooker. I thought I'd make something similar without the lemon, marinara sauce (my Dad doesn't eat garlic), jalapeno (my daughter doesn't eat spicy food), or corn

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 small-medium sweet potato (mine was organic so I didn't peel, but otherwise it should be peeled) cut into 1/4" cubes (approx. 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 2 carrots cut into 1/4" slices
  • 1 cup, pressed, greens - I used a mixture of baby greens, including red & green Swiss chard, beet, tat soi, arugula, and spinach
  • 1 medium roma tomato cut into 1/4" cubes (it made just shy of a half cup; I would have liked a full cup, but didn't have a second roma tomato)
  • Another 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t mustard seed
  • 1/4 t black salt (or regular salt)
  • 1/2 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes
Process

  1. I put the lentils, 1 1/2 cups water, sweet potato, and bouillon cube in the Instant Pot and cooked for 12 minutes.
  2. When it cooled down a bit, I gently released steam and added the carrot, greens, tomato, and 1/4 cup water. After stirring,  I turned the pressure cooker on for 3 more minutes of high pressure cooking.
  3. When I was ready to serve, I gently released steam, mixed in the onion and seasonings, and served.
I also served some mashed potato (with nutritional yeast and shallot mixed in) and avocado.


Results

We were pleased with the dhal. I was originally thinking of making a thick mélange which could be served in the plate, but liked the thick dhal consistency; I wouldn't change the liquid. (If one wanted a lighter dhal, an extra cup or two of water would have been appropriate.) The flavors were quite appealing and went well together - the sweet potato added a subtle nuanced flavor - one wouldn't know there was sweet potato in it. Garlic wouldn't have been a good addition and, in hindsight, the one tomato was just right.

Ideas for the future

As I mentioned when I made the dhal in July, I should marry the nice combination of spinach and lentils. I'd like to make a simple dish with spinach, lentils, maybe celery, maybe a bit of tomato puree, and little else, and make it more liquidy. I can't think of how to improve tonight's dhal - it is a keeper!

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Black Beans and Plantain with Brown Jasmine Rice (No Added Fat)

I was in the mood of cooking with plantain, and we picked one up last night. In May 2012, I made a
Cuban "moros y cristianos" black bean-plantain dish, but today wanted to make a pressure-cooked medley of beans with plantain and onion. This is what I did.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry black beans, soaked in ample water overnight, optionally with several large chunks of ginger (to lend a bit of flavor and reduce gasiness that may result from the beans)
  • Water to just cover beans (approx. 1/4 - 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 red onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1 plantain cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 2 medium roma tomatoes cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • Medium shallot cut into 1/4" cubes
  • Salt to taste (approx. 1/2 t is a good starting point)

Process

  1. I drained and rinsed the beans (and should have removed the ginger, but forgot - my wife ended up biting into a large piece of ginger, but really didn't mind), then put them, along with enough water to just cover them, into the Instant Pot pressure cooker.
  2. I cooked for 15 minutes on high pressure. When I was ready, I slow released any remaining pressure and opened the pot.
  3. I added the onion, plantain, and tomato, and cooked on high pressure for another 4 minutes.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I slowly released remaining pressure, mixed in the cumin, shallot, and salt, and served.
I also made some brown Jasmine rice (1 part rice to 2 parts water; I put this along with a vegan bouillon cube into my rice cooker and cooked as a brown rice), which I served with soy sauce.

Results

All of us enjoyed dinner. My wife and I added hot sauce to the main course, a natural addition with the plantain and beans. It was hearty and tasty - and the kitchen smelled great.

Ideas for the future

The beans were done but could have been a little softer. I might try cooking the beans for 20 minutes in the first cycle next time.

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Saturday, December 06, 2014

Rutabaga and Pineapple with Seitan, served with Whole Wheat Orzo

I picked up a pineapple on sale from Weaver Street Market a few days ago and thought that we'd enjoy some fresh, maybe put some with tangerines perhaps in my blender for a beverage, and make a sweet and sour pressure cooked meal. I also picked up a rutabaga, a root vegetable that I rarely use; I think that I last used it February 2012 when I made what turned out to be a tasty rutabaga - pistachio/pecan soup.

My Dad was visiting with friends today, so I was free to use garlic. Noting that rutabaga chunks take 4-6 minutes of cooking time in the Instant Pot, here is what I did.

Ingredients
  • 3 rutabagas, unpeeled and cut into 3/4" chunks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Medium shallot cut into thin strips approx. 1/8" x 5/8"
  • Garlic clove finely diced
  • About 3/4 cup fresh pineapple cut into 1/2" cubes (it ended up being about 1/3 of a pineapple, core excepted)
  • 1T miso (I used chickpea miso, but any kind is fine)
  •  8 ounces seitan cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1t dried tarragon
  • Little bit of freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Process

  1. I put the rutabaga, water, and bouillon cube into my Instant Pot pressure cooker  and cooked on high pressure for 4 minutes.
  2. After the pressure cooking and when I was ready, I slowly released the pressure and removed the top.
  3. I added the shallot, garlic, pineapple, and miso, and cooked for another 2 minutes.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I slowly let out the pressure, mixed in the seitan, tarragon, salt, and pepper, and served.
I also made a whole wheat orzo - it cooks in 9 minutes. I cooked with a flavorful vegan bouillon cube; though I had some marinara in mind, it had a good flavor without the sauce, so I served it with just some nutritional yeast mixed in and some chopped tomato on top.


Results

Dinner came out great, better than I had expected. I don't normally particularly like rutabagas, but my wife and I loved their flavor and soft and inviting texture. The pineapple went great, particularly with the seitan, and the combination just worked well, flavors marrying each other nicely.

Ideas for the future

Another clove of garlic would have been good. The pasta was a little bland, especially for my daughter, and would have been better with a sauce and perhaps some vegetables. I still have plenty of pineapple; if I don't use it up eating out-of-hand or pureeing for drinks, I may make another pressure cooked dish, perhaps with beans.

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Tempeh-Broccolini-Kale with Avocado Salad and Thin Crispy Crackers (No Added Fat)

Thanksgiving was great last week. We had 122 people at our pre-Thanksgiving on Monday and 622 at Thanksgiving. All three evening news programs covered our Thanksgiving event. This was probably the smoothest Thanksgiving we've had with minimal lines. People loved the food!

Often, we get away for a long weekend right after Thanksgiving, and we did just that this time, enjoying a relaxing visit to Wilmington, NC, about 2 1/2 hours away. We always like visiting Tidal Creek Coop there and stopping at Eden's Vegetarian Restaurant enroute (on the way back this time). Today, I cooked with parsnip in the pressure cooker for the first time, and made a tempeh-broccolini-kale vegetable dish.

Ingredients
  • 3 ounces tempeh cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 1 broccolini, top 1" and then 2nd 1" cut across, rest of stems composted
  • 1/3 head kale, stems composted and leaves roughly hand cut into 3/4" squares
  • 1 parsnip and 1 carrot, each cut into 3/8" slices with wider slices halved
  • 1 large shallot cut into approximately 1/4"x5/8" slices
  • 1t ginger finely diced
  • 1T chickpea (or other kind) miso
  • 1/2 cup water

Process

  1. I put all of the ingredients into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked at high pressure for 3 minutes.
  2. After the pressure cooking and when I was ready, I slowly released the pressure and removed the top, and served.
I also made a simple avocado - tomato - shallot salad; I wanted to mix in some lemon juice to delay browning of the avocado, but we were out of lemon and lime, so I used a bit of apple cider. I brought back from the coop in Wilmington a new Crunchmaster cracker that has plenty of taste but only 3g of fat per 12 crackers (I served three crackers apiece, so feel comfortable labeling this dish as no added fat), and included this as well.


Results

We all enjoyed dinner. The main course had a good substantial feel and taste. The parsnips were good pressure cooked.

Ideas for the future

I couldn't add it because I was cooking for my Dad, who doesn't eat garlic, but some garlic would go well with the avocado as well as with the main course.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chickpeas and Kale (No Added Fat)

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I am looking forward to our annual Triangle Vegetarian Society Thanksgiving. We host the country's largest vegetarian (all vegan) Thanksgiving and sold out with more than 700 seats combined for it and Monday's pre-Thanksgiving.

Tonight, I decided to cook with chickpeas. I had forgotten to soak the chickpeas overnight, but putting them in ample boiling water and letting them soak for four hours worked out fine. Here is what I did.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas
  • 2 or 3 cups boiling water
  • Approx. 1/2 cup water
  • (optional) Three 1" squares of kombu
  • 2/3 head of kale, stems and leaves separated
  • 1/2 medium onion (halved "around the equator") cut into 1/4" half moon slices with another 1/4 of the onion cut into 1/4" cubes (maybe 4 or 5 T) and reserved
  • Baby bok choy cut into 1/2" slices root through leaves
  • Small bell pepper cut into approx. 1/4"x3/4" slices
  • 1T miso (I used chickpea miso, but any kind is fine)
  • 6T water
  • 1t fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1t black sesame seed
  • 1/4 t ground cumin

Process

  1. I put the dry chickpeas in the ample water and let them soak for about 4h; I wish that I had soaked overnight, but hoped that 4h of boiling water soaking followed by 28m of pressure cooking would cook the chickpeas well (it did!).
  2. I cut the kale stems into 1" lengths.
  3. After 4h, I drained and rinsed the chickpeas, then put in enough water to just cover them in my Instant Pot pressure cooker.
  4. I added the kombu and kale stem pieces, then cooked at high pressure for 28 minutes.
  5. After the pressure cooking and when I was ready, I slowly released the pressure and removed the top, then drained the liquid.
  6. I roughly hand tore the kale leaves into approximately 1" squares and added them to the Instant Pot, as well as the onion, bok choy, and bell pepper.
  7. I turned the Instant Pot on in saute mode.
  8. I stirred frequently until the greens cooked down significantly and the onion started turning transparent, about 6 minutes.
  9. I mixed the miso with 6T water and lime juice so that it was homogenized (by simply stirring with a spoon).
  10. I turned the Instant Pot off and took the cooking pot out, then added the miso mixture, black sesame seed, cumin, and reserved cubed onion, then served.

Results

The dish came out well. The kale was a little too chewy for my Dad so, in hindsight, I should have cut it into smaller pieces for him. But we all enjoyed the taste and certainly good nutrition of tonight's meal served with tomato topped with hemp seeds, as well as carrot. (My daughter prefers raw kale and I served her dinner earlier - raw kale, crispy smoky tempeh, and tomato with hemp seeds.)

Ideas for the future

Since I wasn't cooking the main course for my daughter, I could have generously added ginger, but we were out. I'd add a tablespoon of finely chopped ginger in the saute. Because of my Dad, I couldn't add garlic, but 2 cloves of chopped garlic also added in the saute, and maybe 2 cloves chopped garlic pressure cooked (to give a mild roasted garlic flavor) would have been nice. I could have doubled the miso and wonder if 2T miso + 6T water + maybe 2t lime would have been nice.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cranberry Bean Melange, Brown Rice Noodles with Coconut Chutney (Almost No Added Fat)


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