Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sauteed spinach with rhubarb(!), vegan smoked apple sage sausage, lemon sourdough boule bread

Before I describe tonight's dinner, I need to rave about two new food items I discovered today! At Weaver Street Market, where I sometimes shop, they were sampling Ciao Bella Gelato Company's Blood Orange Sorbetto. Wow! Its flavor was intense and one of the best sorbets that I've had (perhaps the best is in-house prepared sorbet from Millenium Restaurant in San Francisco, my favorite restaurant!). Needless to say, I went home wish some!

I also was lucky enough at Weaver Street to find a bread only baked Saturdays and Sundays, Lemon Sourdough Boule ("round"). Wow - it is one of the best breads I've had in memory - it is soft with delicious bits of lemon zest and a light crust. It tastes superb as is - I've not even been toasting it. I made an unbelievable sandwich out of it by spreading a little of my homemade pesto and filling it with fresh greens and slices of tomato.

Anyway, on to tonight's dinner! Of course, I had a slice of that yummy bread! I have never prepared rhubarb (I should make a rhubarb pie sometime), and wanted to add it to a main course. I gently sauteed some fresh spinach, onion, and roasted garlic, and then added in raw rhubarb slices; it tasted interesting (the tartness of the rhubarb wasn't a problem to me as I had spiced the spinach) and worth futher experimentation. I grilled some smoked apple sage vegan "sausage" - it was good and more comfortably inviting than their spicy hot "sausages". I also served some salad greens and Easter Egg radishes. The weather was nice, so we ate on the deck!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Leftovers (my wife's S. Indian dishes) along with rice 'n beans and fresh spinach

Tonight we were in a bit of a rush, so I made a simple dinner. Leftover dosa filling (spicy potatoes), idlis (steamed lentil-rice cakes), and chutney from my wife's South Indian dinner this past weekend were begging to be finished; I reheated them and served them with brown rice with black turtle beans and spinach.

Yesterday after the class that I teach, we ate out with my aunt visiting from Connecticut. We went to Lime and Basil, a Vietnamese restaurant, and enjoyed a nice meal.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Steamed broccoli rabe and potatoes with Himalayan red rice

I am still enjoying items I bought a few days ago at a local farmer's market. I purchased what I'm pretty sure is broccoli rabe (pronounced "rob"), also called rapini or just rabe, which is rich in disease-preventing phytochemicals, as well as many vitamins and fiber. It's related to broccoli with tiny heads here and there amongst large leaves that are slightly bitter.

I steamed the greens as well as some "rainbow tiny" potatoes (red, purple, and yellow) and yellow squash. I prepared some delicious and nutritive Himalayan red rice cooked with green garlic (also from the farmer's market) chunks, and served it atop fresh baby spinach. There was a little bit of an olive dressing on the spinach, and there were two olives - but otherwise there was no added fat!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pesto pizza

Last weekend at a local farmer's market, I got a bargain on basil; a farmer was selling bags of pesto for $1 or $2, and it started raining, so some folks started closing shop. This farmer let me have four decent sized bags of basil for $2 I believe. So, today I made pesto with the basil, garlic, green garlic I bought at the farmer's market, vegan Parm! "Parmesan cheese", extra virgin olive oil, salt, and walnuts (I usually use browned pine nuts, but thought I'd try something different).

We had my aunt over for dinner, and I made pizza with some interesting toppings, including artichoke hearts, tomatoes I had bought at the farmer's market, Nate's vegan "meatballs", and some excellent vegan cheese called Scheese, cheddar style with chives, from the Scottish company Isle of Bute (I brought some back when I visited the London area in January). I served the pizza with breaded eggplant.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sprouting kale with leftover South Indian food

On Saturday, I visited a local farmer's market and bought some very nice produce, including "sprouting kale" greens, something I've not had before. I also bought green garlic and sauteed that with bell peppers and onions, along with the sprouting kale. We had some leftovers from my wife's South Indian dinner that evening, so reheated the spicy sambar soup, steamed rice-lentil cakes (idlis), and the lentil vadas. The salad was derived from the farmer's market - radishes atop the best mesclun mix of salad greens I've ever had.

As I mentioned, my wife made a nice South Indian dinner on Saturday - in addition to the idli, vada, and (very nice!) sambar, she made dosas, spicy potatoes in a lentil-rice crepe, one of my favorite dishes. Yesterday, I hosted and judged a photo competition at Cafe Parizade where we have our annual Thanksgiving. The food was delicious - the menu I put together included, for appetizers:
· Grilled flat breads with roasted red pepper and eggplant spreads
· Lentil-brown/wild rice cakes with lemon tahini
· Celery and carrot sticks with hummus

Main Courses:
· Avocado salad and/or Artichoke salad
· Spicy grilled polenta with spinach and pesto
· Hearty exotic mushroom filo pie with fennel, wheat gluten, and spring onion confit
· Baked eggplant stuffed with sauted tempeh and Himalayan Red Rice or other attractive and tasty whole grain rice
· Basil-roasted garlic whipped potatoes and mushroom-onion gravy
· Spring barley risotto with herbs and asparagus
· Gazpacho soup
· Fresh seasonal fruits
· Phyllo cookies
· Biscotti - Double chocolate-cherry and lemon-currant

It was great!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Tempeh-mushroom scramble with mashed potatoes

I made a scramble with tempeh, a variety of mushrooms (but mainly shiitake), green garlic, and red bell pepper. I served it with mashed potatoes, salad, and whole wheat English muffins.

I didn't cook the last two nights. Last night, one of my aunts from Connecticut flew down to visit with my parents, who live around the corner from us. After teaching, I had gone over to my parents' house and enjoyed my Mom's Indian cooking. On the previous night, Wednesday, we received an invitation for dinner at Binge Cafe (or is it Sloping Band House). My wife was called out of town and only got leftovers, unfortunately, but I enjoyed the House/Cafe's vegan pizza and salad.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Brown rice and lentils

Tonight we had organic short brown rice with lentils that I served with lime relish. On the side, I made what years ago used to be one of my favorite snacks - whole-grained toasted bread with tahini, hot sauce, a little thinly sliced onions, and optionally tomato. There's something funny I've found about avocadoes - I prefer to buy organic whenever possible, but have had a number of cases where organic avocadoes either were blackened and fibrous inside, or just weren't so tasty. Unfortunately, I have generally found those grown "conventionally" (a poor term, as traditional farming before WWII was organic, but at least in the U.S., I guess chemical-based agriculture is now the conventional norm, alas) to taste better. Today's avocado was organic and looked quite nice, but was watery and not particularly tasty.

Shiitake mushrooms and barley soup

I had to put dinner together quickly today as I had a meeting to attend, so came up with a relatively simple meal. I found great shiitake mushrooms at the farmer's market this past weekend, looking unlike other shiitakes I've found (and quite large, maybe 2" in diameter), and wanted to try them very simply, so I just sauteed them in artisanal extra virgin olive oil - they were good! I made a barley soup and served leftover spiral potatoes from late last week.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sauteed fresh spinach with tempeh

It seems like a long time since I've had the pleasure of cooking! I helped to organize the visit of Harold Brown, outreach coordinator of Farm Sanctuary, and we had a potluck dinner for him last night. The night before, I put together an informal and very yummy dinner at Cafe Parizäde (where we have our annual Thanksgiving feast) for him. And on Thursday night I teach, so my wife and I ate out (this time with Harold at a Middle Eastern restaurant).

Yesterday I bought some lovely fresh spinach and green garlic at a local farmer's market; I used the spinach to create a dish for the potluck dinner. Tonight, I made a similar dish by sauteing the green garlic, tempeh, and some slivered onion with the remaining spinach. I also used pine nuts and a variety of spices like mustard seed, Key Lime seasoning, and vegan Parma!, as well as soy sauce and a Caribbean hot sauce. Today is Easter, so it seemed fitting to include some Easter Egg radishes (also from the farmer's market) with the meal. I love quinoa, and it is a "perfect food" whose nutritional profile closely matches what we need - it's been too long since I've made it, and tonight I made it in vegetable broth and with turmeric, and served it with nira grass. Tasty Doctor Kracker organic 3-seed flatbread and tomato slices rounded out the meal.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bow tie pasta with vegan sausage

I pan toasted some pine nuts and made a simple bow tie pasta with those nuts, three kinds of olives, and sundried tomatoes mixed in; I topped with a little Parma! vegan "parmesan cheese". I made a salad with mixed greens, broccoli, avocado, nira grass, purple carrots, and homegrown herbs, and tossed it with lemon juice, spices, artisinal extra virgin olive oil, and herbed vinegar. I had one Field Roast Grain "Meat" Company's vegan "sausage" left (and am anxious to finish this hot Chipotle flavor so I can try their apple one!), so added that to my plate (my wife wanted a lighter dinner so skipped it and had a smaller serving of pasta). Fresh English peas and poppy seed bagle rounded out the dinner.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wavy baked potato

We had a friend over for dinner tonight. I made baked potatoes the best way I know how, by using a small appliance I have called "Tater Twister" by Presto and creating a lot of potato surface area that I basted with an Earth Balance - herb - spice blend. I also baked asparagus. I put a little bit of tofu in the salad, and also put some oniony nira grass in it. I was so happy that purple carrots now seem to be in season - they are the second favorite carrot type I've had, next to burgundy ones; both have a perfumy fragrance. I also served Romanesco and purple cauliflower.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Nameko mushroom with eggplant and burdock root

Today I bought two ingredients that were new to me, nameko mushrooms (sometimes mistaken for the similar cinnamon cap variety), and burdock root (also called gobo). I know that burdock, a root vegetable, is supposed to be good for you with fiber, and traditionally is known as a blood cleanser. It needs to be steamed or sauted; I sauted it briefly then cooked it in a little soy and hot sauces. The mushrooms are fairly common in Japan and usually cooked in a soup; I read that the mushrooms stick together when sauted, but I still sauted them with onion. I served the vegetables with brown basmati rice. Also, I included an eggplant dish leftover from visiting Cafe Verde in Durham on Friday. The mushroom was fine but not great, and the burdock was good.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Beer-battered asparagus

I've not been cooking for the past few nights because of the Full Frame Film Festival but put together a late dinner tonight after the Festival. I read a recipe on the label of asparagus stalks for beer-batter deep frying. I never deep fry, but used that as an idea to make a batter out of whole wheat flour and a variety of spices, such as red pepper, vegan Parma! "Parmesan cheese", sesame seeds, and a wonderful product I picked up when visiting Key West this past November and that I have found many uses for, Kermit's Fresh Lime and Datil Pepper Seasoning, then mixed in beer. I sauted asparagus spears, as well as red bell peppers and onions. I served this with English peas, mashed potatoes, and toast with tomatoes.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Baby vegetable dinner; baby artichokes, roasted baby eggplant prepared with tahini and garlic, and raw baby bok choy

I prepared baby artichokes the way I typically do - steamed and with a dipping sauce made from Earth Balance vegan margarine, lime juice, seasoning, and herbs from my garden. I'm going to be attending the Full Frame Film Festival the next four days and wanted to use up some of my more perishable fresh items, including baby eggplant and baby bok choy (I was originally planning on stir frying the bok choy with tempeh for a simple stirfry).

I love baba ganouj, and came up with the idea of making the eggplant by roasting it in the oven, along with some cloves of garlic, but not making a dip. Instead, I spooned a little tahini on top of the eggplant and served it with roasted garlic. I made a salad with a light coating of artisanal extra virin olive oil and red wine vinegar, and served raw baby bok choy with it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hedgehog mushroom saute with brown rice-chickpea

Today I found a mushroom that I wasn't previously familiar with, the hedgehog mushroom. It cost $19.99/pound, but I bought just enough for two small side dishes and spent under $3. I sauted them with onion in Earth Balance, a vegan buttery spread that is one of my kitchen's staples. The hedgehog mushrooms were interesting and reasonably good, though nothing like the fabulous flavor of morel mushrooms. I also served a spiced short-grained brown rice with chickpeas and sundried tomatoes. Fresh vegetables like carrots and English peas accompanied the meal.

I found a good description of the mushroom at

The hedgehog mushroom looks like a large chanterelle. The underside of the cap has a shredded appearance, like a tiny shag carpet. The flesh is firm and dense, and is quite delicious in soups or stews. Other members of the tooth fungus family (Hydnaceae) may have spines, soft and long enough to be called beards, waterfalls, or fur. The tiny stalactites of the hedgehog mushroom are barely visible, but enough to elicit the name of hedgehog. The colour is buff to tawny, with paler stems. It is collected in the wild in North America, Europe, and China, but not cultivated. When cooked, it tastes like a chanterelle blended with cultivated button and oyster mushrooms, but having none of the sweetness, dispelling the inviting name of "sweet tooth". In fact, the mushroom's tendency towards bitterness usually dissipates with simmering and a touch of sugar.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Whole wheat couscous with asparagus-shiitake mushroom saute

Couscous is a simple grain to make that I should make more often. It's easy to make and, prepared in vegetable broth as I do, has a nice flavor that complements other dishes. I made a saute of shiitake mushrooms with asparagus; I included a number of spices, red wine, onion, shallot, and garlic. I guess this was a timely dish; I previewed a film last night about the asparagus industry in Oceana County, Michigan called Asparagus! A Stalk-umentary by Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly, which will have its world premiere showing at the upcoming Full Frame Documentary Film Festival later this week!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Collard greens with seitan stewed in fresh tangerine juice

Tonight, I took the collard greens I bought at the local farmer's market yesterday and made a dish with seitan, incorporating a variety of flavors, including finishing it off with a short simmer in a little freshly squeezed honey tangerine (i.e., a "honey tangerine", not a tangerine with honey - I'm vegan! :-) ) juice. My wife wanted to make a side dish, and made a yummy fried rice with yellow and red bell peppers. Luckily we made extra as I had to go to the airport to receive two friends, and we had enough to offer them some of the rice and the greens.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Thai noodles

I had a very late dinner tonight of Thai noodles. I also served some locally grown low-acid pink tomatoes that I had purchased just today from our local farmer's market and a sprouted lentil salad that my wife had made.

By the way, last night we were invited to eat out by friends of ours, and had a lovely meal at Sage Vegetarian Restaurant in Chapel Hill. I love their pomegranate reduction with tempeh over rice - so rich and unique!