Category Archives: vegetarian

Pesto and Heirloom Tomato Tarte

Finally a food post! It will be a quick one since I am about to head to bed, but that’s ok because this recipe is super easy and delicious. I made it while Q was napping, when my mom was coming over for lunch. Of course, by the time we were ready to eat, he had woken up and I ate the tarte one-armed with a fussy baby in the other arm. This did not, however, make the lunch any less tasty.

All you need is a frozen puff pastry dough, some pesto, 2 heirloom tomatoes and some parmesan cheese. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough and press it into your buttered pan. Spread pesto on the bottom (I always keep ice cubes of pesto in my freezer for last minute pesto fixes…I think I used 3 cubes for this). Cut the tomatoes into thick slices and lay them in the tarte. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes. Then lower the oven temp to 350 and bake for another 10-15 minutes…until the puff pastry and parmesan are golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes or so. Serve and enjoy!

p.s. I apologize to all readers who do not live in California…I realize that a post about heirloom tomatoes right now is a little late for you. Really, I’m not trying to rub it in that we are still enjoying tomatoes here.

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Brussel Sprout Chanterelle Pasta with Brown Butter


Okay okay, I realize how ridiculously long it has been since I wrote a new post. I apologize. I’m actually touched by all the nudges I’ve gotten from friends to update the blog. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Before we get to the good stuff (the food, obviously) I should fill you in on recent exciting developments in my grad school/career as an SLP. First, I’ve officially graduated with my Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. It has actually felt a little anticlimactic since I walked in the graduation ceremony in June, finished my student teaching in December, and had my degree post to the university website about a week ago. It seems like such a momentous accomplishment should be accompanied by more than a link on a website, but at this point, I’m just happy to be done.

The other good news is that I have a job! I’ll be working as an SLP for a preschool for children with special needs- the same place where I did my student teaching. I’m thrilled about this, because I already know that the people and children at the school are wonderful. I know it will be a great experience! I get to start the job as soon as a little piece of paper (actually, an email) comes through- my credential. So until then, I’ve been trying to get things organized, start getting back in shape and simply enjoy the rest of my time off.

Alright, now on to the food porn. This dish was introduced to me by my supervisor at the aforementioned preschool. I believe she found the recipe in San Francisco magazine. It is simple and delicious…simply delicious! A huge part of what makes this dish so tasty is how fresh it is, so make sure your ingredients are at their peak of freshness. Especially the brussel sprouts- try to get them on the stalk; I promise you they will be better this way.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. shallots, minced
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 lb chanterelle mushrooms, sliced (or substitute shitake)
  • 1 lb. brussel sprouts, thinly sliced
  • 10 oz. fresh tagliatelle or fettuccine pasta (I opted for fettuccine, but I bet tagliatelle would be delicious!)
  • Grated parmesan
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook 2 Tbsp of butter over low-medium heat until it becomes light brown. Add the shallots and sage and cook until the shallots begin to soften (about 2 minutes). Turn the head up to medium. Add the mushrooms and brussel sprouts. Continue cooking until mushrooms and brussel sprouts start to soften (3-4 minutes). Turn heat off, and cover to keep warm.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain but do not rinse. The pasta should be very wet.
  3. Add the pasta to the pan with the brussel sprouts and mushrooms. Add the butter, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. If the pasta seems dry, add the reserved 1/2 cup of cooking water. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Red Cabbage Salad


This is a pretty simple recipe, but I thought I’d share it with you anyway since it’s a classic French salad. I’ve been reading Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee, which has inspired me to write my recipes in a more stream of consciousness manner.

Start with a very fresh head of red cabbage and cut it in half. Then cut one of the halves in half. Keep one quarter of the cabbage out and put the remaining pieces in the fridge. Using a sharp knife or a mandolin, slice the cabbage very thinly, and then give the entire pile a few chops so that the cabbage slices are not too long to eat easily.

Next make the vinaigrette in the bottom of a salad bowl. Combine a few small spoonfuls of dijon mustard with a splash of red wine vinegar. I don’t ever measure this so I can’t give you specifics. I like to stick my nose in the bowl and smell to see if there’s a nice mustard-vinegar balance. Add some salt and freshly cracked pepper. Next, slowly drizzle oil into the mustard mixture while beating it with a fork or whisk. I like to use a combination of walnut oil and olive oil. I find that if I use only olive oil, my vinaigrette comes out a bit too fruity. As you whisk in the olive oil, the mixture should emulsify. If you notice that the vinegar and oil are separating, slow down or stop the stream of oil and continue to beat the mixture. Once it begins coming together again, add a little bit more oil (again, I never measure…some people prefer a more vinegary vinaigrette- i.e. me- and some prefer more oily, it’s up to you to decide what you like!).

Delicata Squash Macaroni & Cheese

Once again I’ve let several weeks go by between posts. This must be a sign that it’s no longer summer, and I’m back to work. I’m loving my internship at the preschool, and I’m still cooking fairly often….just not taking the time to photograph and write about the food. I’m going to try to be better though!

This recipe was one I just had to post because Trevor loved it so much. A supposedly “healthy” version of mac and cheese, by Martha Stewart. I actually found the recipe on Kitchen Gadget Girl’s blog, as she planned on cooking this up for her family after receiving a squash in her CSA box a few weeks ago. Seeing as we belong to the same CSA (Two Small Farms…a great option if you’re looking for a local food source!), we also received squash in our box a few weeks ago. In fact, we’ve gotten some delicata squash, some butternut and a sugar pie pumpkin…and this is just the beginning of the fall/winter squash season (and I love it!). Winter squash are wonderful because they’re so versatile, and you can save them for a long time before using them if you’re overwhelmed with other more perishable veggies. Plus, they’re so wonderfully comforting and bring about a strong feeling that fall has finally arrived!

The “Healthy Macaroni and Cheese” recipe from Martha Stewart calls for 1 small butternut squash, but you can substitute any winter squash. Kabocha would be great if you have one, but I had delicata squash, so I decided that would do the trick. As I mentioned earlier, my husband Trevor loved this recipe and would never have guessed that there was squash in the mix so I guess this is a good thing if you’re cooking for a picky eater.

Ingredients for 6 servings:
1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp coarse salt, plus more for water
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound macaroni or shell pasta
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
4 Tbsp grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tsp olive oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, seed and cut the squash into 1-inch pieces. Combine the squash, stock and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork (about 20 minutes). Spoon the squash into a food mill (or alternatively, smash with a fork), and puree the squash, milk and stock together. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, 3/4 tsp salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add salt. Stir in macaroni pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta and 2 Tbsp of Parmesan. Stir until well integrated.
3. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer pasta mixture to dish. Mix breadcrumbs, remaining Parmesan and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over pasta.
4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove foil and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top- about 30 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Coconut Lemongrass Soup with Tofu


I realize that many of my blog posts begin something like: “So I was at the farmer’s market the other day, and found some amazing _____, which inspired me to make ______.” But what’s a girl to do? The farmer’s market is my inspiration, so it’s only fair that my dishes be based on my local finds.

This post is no different. One of my very favorite vendors at the San Pedro Square market on Fridays in downtown San Jose has a variety of Asian vegetables and herbs. I almost always have to pick up some Chinese eggplant, which is a longer, less spongy version of eggplant. I love the eggplant cut into long slices, brushed with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs, and grilled. Last Friday though, I went for some stalks of lemongrass. I’d been craving coconut lemongrass soup with Thai flavors, and was determined to make some.

I was going for Thai flavors, similar to Tom Kha Gai. But since I’d never made this before, I did a little research online, and based my recipe off of this site and this one. The soup I came up with is not a traditional Tom Kha Gai, because there are no Kaffir lime leaves, or galangal, but I did get a nice lemongrass coconut flavor, which was exactly what I was looking for. Even with the warm weather we’ve been having, this was a very satisfying meal.

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Carrots, cut into julienne
2 Anaheim bell peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 lb white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 head broccoli, cleaned and cut into florets
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cans coconut milk
2 Serrano or Thai chili peppers, thinly sliced
2 stalk lemongrass, cut into 2-inch pieces and crushed
6 slices ginger
zest from 2 limes
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 package firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
juice from 2 limes
cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
1 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped (for garnish)

Directions:

  • Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan. Add carrots, and saute for 3 minutes. Turn heat to low, and add garlic. Saute for 1 minute.
  • Pour in broth and coconut milk. Stir in ginger, lemongrass, chili peppers, lime zest, brown sugar, fish sauce and Anaheim bell peppers. Simmer soup for 15 minutes.
  • Add tofu & mushroom slices and lime juice to soup and continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • At this point, taste the soup to decide if it has enough heat for you. I used Serrano chilies (would have preferred Thai chilies), and the soup was not spicy enough for my taste. So I added about 1/8-1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper. Make sure to only add a tiny bit at a time, and retaste. You can always add more spice, but you can’t take any away, so be careful!
  • Garnish with cilantro just before serving. Enjoy!

Quiche of all kinds

It seems only appropriate that a quasi-French food blog would discuss the makings of a quiche at some point or another. And this is as good a time as any, especially given that quiche seems to be the food theme of my week. My husband and I are in our final countdown before our trip to Paris right now. We leave on Friday! In the midst of making preparations for this long-awaited trip, I’ve also been trying to catch up with friends whom I’ve been neglecting due to grad school craziness. Whether I was hosting a meal, or bringing part of a meal over to someone else’s house, quiche was the perfect companion to a fresh spring salad, or assortment of seasonal fruit.

The best thing about quiche is that it will adapt to what you have in your fridge. When I made my first quiche of the week, I had some leeks, onions and tomatoes. I didn’t have the traditional gruyère cheese, but had some goat cheese and shredded parmesan. So I used those instead. Before making the second quiche of the week, I had no veggies in my fridge, so I went to the farmer’s market to pick something up. The button mushrooms appealed to me the most, so I made a mushroom quiche with parmesan cheese. Classic (with a little parmesan twist…since I still had no gruyère at home).

Another key to a good quiche is the crust. You want the right balance of flakiness without falling apart. I used to always make my pâte brisée in my food processor, because it’s quick and easy. Recently though, I’ve started making it by hand, and have really noticed a difference in the resulting pâte. Plus, the food processor is a pain to clean, especially when used to make anything sticky or doughy. Washing a bowl is much simpler.


Pâte brisée:

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
½ cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
5 Tbsp water

Directions:
Place the flour in a medium bowl and create a “well” in the middle of the flour. In the well, add the salt, egg yolk and butter. Mix with your fingers until the butter is incorporated, but make sure not to over mix it. Then add the water and quickly work it into your dough. Again, be sure not to overmix, because this will make the dough elastic and take away from the flakiness of the crust. Cover the pâte in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for an hour. When you’re ready to make your quiche, roll out the dough and mold it into your tart dish. Then return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the quiche ingredients.

Quiche of all kinds:

Directions for Quiche:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Prep your quiche ingredients by sauteeing them until they’re soft. If you use a vegetable that releases liquid after sauteeing, make sure to strain the vegetable well before adding it to the quiche. Too much liquid will affect the consistency of the egg in your quiche. Use a paper towel to soak up liquid for vegetables that release a lot of liquid when cooked (like spinach and mushrooms).

Scatter prepared vegetables (and/or meats…ham or bacon is commonly used in quiche) in the bottom of the prepared crust. Next, in a medium bowl, mix 5 eggs, ½ cup of creme fraiche, and ½ cup of whole milk. Add salt & pepper to taste. Then pour the egg mixture over the vegetables.
Next scatter a handful or so of cheese over the quiche. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top of the quiche is lightly browned. Allow the quiche to sit out of the oven for 5-10 minutes before serving it so that the egg can settle. Slice and enjoy. Quiche can easily be reheated the next day, and often is even better when reheated!

Creamy Cauliflower Soup


Cauliflower seems to be a fairly controversial vegetable in the world of produce. Some people love it while others hate it. I am personally on the “love it” side of the fence. But I’m usually something of a “veggie advocate,” insisting that if someone doesn’t like a particular vegetable, it must be because they haven’t yet experienced the full potential of it. Take my dad, for example. For years, he thought he hated eggplant. I believe he didn’t like the spongy texture of those giant aubergines. That was until he tried a well-prepared (and significantly less spongy) Japanese eggplant. Now he loves the stuff and I’ve actually heard him make special eggplant requests. Now that he has experienced eggplant to its full potential, he has a new appreciation for it.

Anyway…all that to say that, if you don’t think you like cauliflower, maybe you do and you just don’t know if yet. And I mean really, how can it taste bad when it’s cooked into a smooth soup with a little cream, broth and nutmeg? You know you want some.

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower
3-4 small potatoes
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tsp. olive oil
4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. cream
salt and pepper to taste
2 pinches of nutmeg
thyme springs (optional)

Method:

  1. Prepare the head of cauliflower by cutting the florets off the base and rinsing them in cold water. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom soup pot. Add the minced garlic and saute for about a minute. Add in the potatoes, and enough broth to cover the bottom of the pot (to keep the potatoes from sticking). After 2 minutes, add the rest of the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer the potatoes for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cauliflower florets and water and bring the soup back to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower and potatoes are very tender. At this point, remove the pot from heat.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is very smooth. If you do not have access to an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender or food processor. Just make sure to work in small batches of soup (or else you might end up with a mess on your hands). Here are some pictures of the soup progression using an immersion blender.




5. Allow the mixture to cool for 10-15 minutes. Add the cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Heat the soup back up just before serving. Garnish with thyme sprigs if desired.