Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pasta Primavera in a San Marzano Marinara Sauce

I am being quite the bad Jew this Pesach. Instead of posting a recipe geared toward the holiday, I'm posting one about pasta. What can I say? I'm a noodle whore. I do have a bangin' kugel recipe, but I'm saving it for my fantabulous book, so no spoilers :)

It's funny because after I left home, I completely abandoned the daily ritual of family dinner. The closest I get these days is Jane and I sitting at our computer desks, scarfing down our very different meals in blissful silence. There's no fighting, no awkward conversational pauses, and no picking out bad manners. Nothing like a family dinner at all. I await the day I have a little Shag-let of my own to cook dinner for, then sit down around the kitchen table and quibble over life's trivialities. Which brings me to the main topic of my post: Baby Fever.

What is Baby Fever, you ask? Well, it's a concept that's quite new to me as well. Jane introduced it to me first.

"I have such bad Baby Fever today", she said.

"Baby Fever?!", I asked.

"Yeah, you know. When you just crave having a little one in your life to care for. Baby Fever."

I'd never heard of the concept before, but all of a sudden, I started to notice these odd longings for motherhood and all the goodness it has to offer. Of course, I'm in no position to actually have a child. I'm unemployed, enjoy smoking pot way too much, and have quite a bit of living to do before I can actually even consider having a child of my own, but the Fever is giving me the chills none-the-less.

As a lesbian, at first I abandoned the thought of ever wanting children. The only way for my wife and I to actually have a child that would be both of ours would be for one of us to implant our eggs in the other, which would cost a pretty penny. Luckily, my OBGYN tells me I'm the most fertile women she's seen all year, so I suppose the task shouldn't be that difficult...but it's still a lot more complicated than what breeders need to do to create a child. Oh well, at least I never have to worry about birth control, which is a great thing because I'm allergic to latex. The funny thing is, my ONLY allergy is to latex. I should've taken it as a sign that nature was trying to tell me I was actually allergic to men, but you live, you learn.

Anyway, I've gone off on a complete tangent. The recipe.

Yes, this is a much more simple dish than I usually post, but it's one I make myself for dinner at least once a week. I'm kind of a perfectionist when it comes to pasta dishes. The noodles must be cooked perfectly al Dente. The sauce must be flavored correctly. And I want it served hot and fresh.

This is a great meal you can easily throw together for a dinner party or for your family. Enjoy it!

Pasta Primavera in a San Marzano Marinara Sauce

For The Sauce...
  • 3 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large cans San Marzano Tomatoes in Juice
  • 2 15 oz cans Muir Glen Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Oregano Leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Parsley Leaves, finely chopped
  • Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
  • Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, to taste

In a large sauce pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add the onions and garlic, and saute until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the San Marzanos and their juice, the two cans of Tomato Sauce, bay leaves, parsley and oregano, and stir to combine. Add a touch of the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, then bring the sauce to a simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour. Taste again for salt and pepper.

Remove the pot from heat, discard the bay leaves, then use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can either mash up the San Marzanos with a potato masher or optionally puree in a blender or food processor.

Set aside until ready to use with the pasta.

For The Pasta....
  • 1 lb Spaghetti Noodles
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil, plus more for the noodles
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Onion, finely chopped
  • 8 oz White Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 Portobello Mushrooms, diced
  • 1 Zucchini, cut into 1 inch long matchstick slices
  • 4 cups diced Kale, tough stems discarded
  • White Wine, for de-glazing pan (about 1/4 cup)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Dr Cows Tree Nut Cheese, finely grated (optional, for garnish)

Cook the pasta noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water until just al Dente. Drain well, toss with a touch of olive oil to prevent sticking, then set aside.

In a very large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and onions to the pan, and saute for a few moments until the onions have softened. Add both mushrooms and the zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and saute until the soft and tender, about 5-10 minutes. De-glaze the pan with the white wine, then add the kale and saute until soft and wilted, about 5 more minutes.

Toss the veggies and the pasta in a very large bowl, then toss with the marinara sauce and serve garnished with Dr. Cow's Cheese.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vegan Cioppino with Roasted "Crab" and Fried Oregano

I used to do an occasional posting series called "Kvetch Corner". After the whole Avril Lavigne debacle about a year ago, I decided to keep my ranting to a minimum at the risk of re-offending Brazil and Argentina. Well, I think I'm out of the red zone now, so Kvetch Corner is back with a vengeance! So what am I going to Kvetch about this week? Brazilian waxing. Yes, I put myself in the situation. But allow me to backtrack and explain....

For whatever reason, the misses and I decided to get Brazilian waxes last week. I, a waxing virgin, was a nervous wreck prior to the experience. They call me in first. The waxing technician seems nice and professional. I disrobe. I lay on the table, and the woman doesn't even wait 5 seconds before slathering my nether regions with scalding hot wax and giving the strip a tremendous tug. I prepare to scream, but quickly realize "Hey! Not so terrible."

I hear Jane's name called, and they put her in the room next to me. Our two waxing technicians begin speaking to each other through the wall in a language that I could only decipher to be Thai or Vietnamese. Turns out Jane's waxist was a newbie, and mine was walking her through it. Not only was her waxist new, but she would actually yell out "Ouch!" every time she ripped a strip off of Jane. We imagine their conversation went a little something like this...

Jane's: "Ok, so just wax, then strip down, then pull hard"

Mine: "Yes. Just pull as hard as you can."

Jane's technician waxes and pulls.

Jane's: (Said in English) "Ouch! That looks like it hurts."

Mine: "Mine's a hairy little beast. How about yours?"

Jane's: "So much hair! I have to get it all off?!"

Mine: "Yes. I know it's gross, but just do it."

And so went our waxing experience. It wasn't as painful as I imagined (for me, at least), but I limped a bit afterward and we laughed it off. I might even try it again when need be, but at a place where I know the technicians know what they're doing AND saying...mostly for Jane's sake, not mine.

Anyway, speaking of down south experience, this dish is a Veganization of a traditionally seafood based dish, Cioppino. I first had the real deal when I was snow-birding it in Florida with my grandparents, and enjoyed it many times before my decision to quit eating animals. It's tasty and comforting. I highly recommend serving it with some linguini or other pasta of your choice. Enjoy!

Vegan Cioppino with Roasted "Crab" and Fried Oregano

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for frying Oregano (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium Onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 cup Organic Dry White Wine
  • 2 cups Vegan Clam Juice (recipe follows)
  • 2 15 oz cans Chopped Tomatoes in Juice
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed fresh Italian Parsley
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
  • Kosher Salt, to taste
  • 2 batches of Vegan Crab (recipe follows)
  • 1 loosely packed cup of Fresh Oregano Leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in an oven-safe skillet or roasting pan (I use my Le Crueset dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and Vegan Crab, and saute for about 5-10 minutes until the onions are softened and the "Crab" is browning. Add the white wine, then increase the heat to high and allow the mixture to boil for two minutes.

Add in the "clam" juice, tomatoes and their juices, the 1 cup of water, bay leaves, parsley and crushed red pepper flakes, then bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, then simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer the skillet or pan to the oven, and roast for 30 minutes.

While the cioppino is roasting in the oven, get your herb-frying oil heating in a saucepan over medium to high heat (depending on your burner strength). Once the oil is hot, carefully add the oregano leaves plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then fry for 1 minute. Remove the fried oregano as possible from the pan, then place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Serve a few leaves as a garnish on each bowl of cioppino.

Vegan Clam Juice

Makes 2 Cups

  • 2 TBSP Vegetarian Fish Sauce
  • 1/4 cup White Wine
  • 1 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Water (See directions below)

Whisk together the Vegetarian Fish Sauce, White Wine, Lemon Juice and Salt. Pour in enough water so that the total amount of liquid just equals two cups. Use as directed in any recipe that requires real clam juice.

Vegan Crab

(Makes 1 batch. You will need two batches for the Cioppino)

  • 1 can Young Green Jackfruit packed in water
  • 1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 large stalk Kombu, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 TBSP Dulse
  • 1 1/2 cup Cold Water
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Mellow White Miso Paste

Drain the jackfruit as well as possible in a colander over your sink. After all the water has drained out, use your hands to break up the jackfruit into "lump crab"-size pieces, squeezing out more water as go along. Place in an airtight container (leave the lid off at this point), and set aside.

Place the lemon juice, cold water and kombu stalk in a small saucepan, and bring the water to a boil. Allow the water to boil for a minute, then remove the saucepan from heat.

Stir in the mellow white miso paste until fully dissolved, then add the salt and dulse. Allow the mixture to sit until it reaches room temperature.

Once cooled, pour the dashi broth over top of the jackfruit. Make sure the jackfruit is fully submerged. Place in the refrigerator, and allow to marinate as long as possible. Overnight is ideal...2 hours should be the minimum.

Once you're ready to use, drain the fruit well and discard the kombu and dulse.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Panko Crusted "Shrimp" Scampi with Tarragon and Shallot Browned "Butter"

Hoorah! We have finally sprung the clocks forward. It is absolutely my favorite day of the year when the clock ticks forward one hour and the days grow longer. I am in the slap-happiest mood today and the sun is shining. You'd think that living in California would help me avoid mental "ailments" like Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I'm apparently a spoiled little brat face because I definitely become a sad panda during the winter months. There's something about that early darkness that turns me back into a brooding, moody teenager. And believe me, you wouldn't have wanted to know me during that time in my life. I should award my parents with trophies for dealing with the emotional turmoil I unleashed on our household. I blamed it on hormones, but it was probably all of the pot I was smoking. Regardless, I love the spring time...especially because it means Heirloom Tomatoes are almost back in season.

So how was Vegas, you ask? Well, I didn't exactly win any money, but I didn't lose any either. I made the terrible mistake of consuming one too many libations one of the evenings, and ended up withdrawing way more money from my bank account than I had initially intended. With my last twenty in hand, I said "Fuck It" and threw it into a $1 slot machine. I hit the "Bet Max" button, and JACKPOT! I won the majority of my money back. Thank goodness, too, because I also need money to support my other extreme addiction: grocery shopping.

Enough about life. Let's talk about food. I am one of the biggest pasta whores on the planet. Few things satisfy my inner fat kid than I gigantic bowl of noodles. When I was a little Shag-let, my mother used to make amazing shrimp and chicken scampi. I had the wicked itis for it one day, and as much as I hate to kick my mom's ass remaking her recipes, I had to do something to cure the craving. I got my mom to send her original recipe, and I set to work making it vegan-tastic. As much as I wish I had the creative juice and equipment to make my own vegan shrimp, using the frozen packaged variety makes this recipe much easier to swing. It's a great recipe to whip up for a dinner party, and is incredibly satisfying and delicious.

Have a great week!

Panko Crusted "Shrimp" Scampi
with Tarragon and Shallot Browned "Butter"

  • 10 TBSP of Vegan Margarine
  • The leaves from 1 sprig of Fresh Tarragon, minced
  • 2 sprigs of fresh Tarragon, whole
  • 1/8 cup Shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • 2 10oz packages of Vegetarian Plus Frozen Vegan Shrimp, thawed
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 batch Vegan "Egg Yolk" Mix
  • 2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs mixed with 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Olive Oil, enough for frying
  • 1 lb of Linguine, cooked al Dente, drained and tossed with a touch of Olive Oil
  • Fresh Parsley, for garnish
  • Dr. Cow's Tree Nut Cheese, grated for garnish (or other Vegan Parmesan)

In a small saucepan, melt the vegan margarine over medium low heat, then add the garlic, tarragon sprigs and shallots. Allow the margarine to simmer until it browns a bit and reduces by about 1/6th, then add in the lemon juice. Remove the 2 whole tarragon sprigs and set aside. Re-melt before tossing with pasta if necessary.

Get your oil heating to about 365 degrees F.

Season the "Shrimp" well with salt and pepper.

Prepare two bowls: One of the "Egg Yolk" Mix and one with the bread crumbs. Individually dip the shrimp first in the "Egg Yolk" Mix, then in the bread crumbs. Fry the "Shrimp" in the hot oil until golden brown.

Toss the linguine and parsley with the browned butter sauce, serve "Shrimp" and vegan Parmesan atop the pasta.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dill and Garlic Avegolemono "Cream" of Celery Soup

I'm looking down the nose of another Vegas vacation! My wife's good friend from Louisiana is coming to town today, and we're headed for Casino Land tomorrow. Now, at this point you may believe I have a slight gambling addiction. You would be partially correct, BUT it's not my fault. Allow me to explain: When I was ten years old, by best friend's mother bought us youngins a bunch of scratch-off lotto tickets as party favors. Low and behold, I won $50...which is an ass-load of money to a ten year old. I was hooked immediately. Then I started bugging my mother every trip to the grocery store for scratch-offs. Two weeks later, I won $115 dollars. As far as my little brain could tell, I was rich enough to move out and buy property on the French Riviera.

I never really won a huge amount of money with lotto tickets again, but I feel like I've clearly explained that my love for all things gambling is not my fault. This logic, of course, makes it ten times easier for me to gamble my life savings. It also lessens the Jew guilt I feel when I don't come home with any winnings. I usually believe that excuses are like yeast infections: they stink and are completely unnecessary. But in this situation, I'm willing to make an exception. Ok. After that lovely visual, on to discus the food.

Avegolemono is a traditional Greek soup that features eggs and lemon juice. I've veganized the delicious beast, and fused it with cream of celery soup to create this piping hot bowl of goodness. Definitely use fresh dill if you can locate some. This soup also freezes incredibly well. If you're a pansy like me, there are few things better than warming up on a cold 60 degree evening with a steaming bowl of soup that thaws in less than 15 minutes.

Wish me luck!

Dill and Garlic Avegolemono "Cream" of Celery Soup

  • 8 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 TBSP fresh Chives, minced
  • 1 cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • About 10 stalks of Celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 cup Soy Milk
  • 4 cups MimicCreme (or 4 cups Soy Milk combined with 4 TBSP White Vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup "Egg" Mix
  • 3 cups prepared Better Than Bouillon's No Chicken Broth
  • 3 TBSP Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup loosely packed Fresh Dill (leaves only), plus a few sprigs for garnish
  • 2 TBSP Fresh Parsley, finely chopped

Whisk together the MimicCreme, soy milk and "egg" mix. Set aside.

Melt the Vegan Margarine in a large soup pot over medium low heat.

Once melted, add the minced garlic and chives and saute for 30 seconds.

Whisk in the flour, salt and pepper until a paste is formed. Then slowly pour in the MimicCreme/soymilk/"egg" mixture and lemon juice and MimicCreme, whisking constantly, until all the ingredients are completely blended. Let the mixture come to a fast simmer over medium heat while stirring constantly, then turn the heat down to a slow simmer.

Add the celery and No Chicken Broth, and stir to combine well.

Cover, and allow the soup to simmer, whisking occasionally, until the celery is softened to your liking.

Add in the fresh dill and parsley, and allow the soup to simmer for 5 more minutes.

Taste for salt and pepper, then remove from heat and serve garnished with fresh dill sprigs.