Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ditalini, Kale, Rainbow Chard and Kalamatas Braised in a Black Garlic and White Wine Reduction + A Guest Post!

What a week I've had! My typical day-to-day life consists of me waking up, chugging three cups of coffee (yes, I "chug" coffee), surfing the Internet, writing a recipe or two, going to the grocery store, cooking a little, then possibly indulging in some intoxicating substance(s) to wash my cares away. My routine rarely wavers. For whatever reason, the universe decided the past few days would consist of some mayhem.

It started off as a typical Saturday night. The wife and I have a really good male friend we always hang out with. Let's just call him John for the story's sake. John is hanging out at our place, and his motorcycle is in the shop at the moment. He wants to go to the bar with some of his friends, so we decide to let him borrow our second car instead of him having to take the bus.

Big mistake.

You see, John is fond of playing practical jokes on Jane and I. When my phone rings and John says "I've just been arrested and am about to go to jail for a few days", the first words out of my mouth are, "So I'll see you in 20 minutes, jack ass?". Turns out I was the jack ass. I egg him on for about 5 minutes, thinking he's joking with me when he says "I now have a DUI and they are jailing me for a few old warrants". Finally, I hear the cops shouting at him to "make it quick", and realize he's not kidding. And to top it all off, he's driving our car.

Since it was a Saturday night and parking meters are free all day Sunday, the cops were nice enough to park the car in a legal spot. Problem was, they took the keys downtown to the station with John. I had less than 24 hours to obtain my keys and return the car to safety before it was impounded. Being the lucky bitch that I am, I got to spend all day Sunday at the LA County Jail trying to safely return my vehicle. And let me tell you how simple they make it! On the phone, the cops told John to tell me all I have to do is go to the station and pick up the keys. We arrive at 11AM. The officer in charge tells me "Oh, no. You can't just get them back. You need his permission first. But visiting hours aren't until 1pm." Fine. We can kill some time. I get his permission at 1pm, head to the front desk, and am then told "Oh, no ma'am. We can't actually release the property until 3pm."

Why on earth am I being forced to suffer for someone else's mistake?! Killing the first two hours in downtown LA was difficult enough. I shouldn't have to "do time" just to get back my damn property.

They ended up giving me ALL of his belongings, including his shoe laces. Just to punish him a little, I stole all the quarters he had had in his pocket so I could do a load of laundry. So there.

And in case you're wondering, John is now safely out of jail with minimal fines and sentencing. He really is a good kid, but like we touched on last week, sometimes we don't always make the brightest decisions. Lesson learned? Don't loan your car to someone you know is going to the bar.

Anyways, this week you're in for a special treat! Two recipes, one post. The lovely Donna has prepared an article entitled "Easy Vegan Eating" to serve as a guest post. I'm keeping my recipe this week short and simple so you can focus on hers (which follows).

Oh, and don't drink and drive, kids. Not only could you kill someone, but I won't bail you out, either.

Ditalini, Kale, Rainbow Chard and Kalamatas
Braised in a Black Garlic and White Wine Reduction

  • 1/2 lb Ditalini Pasta (or substitute with Miniature Penne)
  • 1/2 lb Lacinto Kale
  • 1/2 lb Curly Green Kale
  • 1/2 lb Rainbow Chard
  • 2 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil, plus more for "de-sticking" pasta.
  • 1 medium Onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup Better Than Bouillon's No Chicken Broth
  • 1/3 cup Dry White Wine
  • 2-3 TBSP Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 4 cloves Black Garlic, minced (or substitute with plain ole Garlic)
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata Olives, sliced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Dr. Cow's Tree Nut Cheese, finely grated, for garnish (or Vegan Parmesan)
Bring two large pots of salted water to a for the pasta, the other for the greens.

First boil the Ditalini Pasta until just al Dente, drain well, then rinse with cold water and drain again. Toss with a bit of Olive Oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.

Next boil the Kales and Chard for 5 minutes. Drain well, set aside until cool enough to handle, then coarsely chop. Set aside.

In a large, deep skillet, melt the margarine in the olive oil over medium low heat. Add the onions and black garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened. Add the No Chicken Broth, White Wine and Lemon Juice, and allow the sauce to simmer until it reduces by 1/3rd.

Toss in the Kale, Chard and Olives until thoroughly combined.

Cover and cook for 3 more minutes.

Remove the pan from heat, toss with the pasta, season with salt and pepper, then garnish with vegan Parmesan.

Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Easy Vegan Eating

Making the switch to the vegan lifestyle can be tough for people who want to get healthy but aren't the most talented cooks in the world. With that in mind, I've gathered a few simple recipes to guide you through a day of meals and show you that with a little bit of preparation, even the most clueless chef can whip up a healthy, vegetarian entree.

Breakfast: Pancakes
Pancakes are a breakfast staple, and a lot easier to make than you'd think. Plus, by using soymilk instead of cow's milk, you can make them vegan with ease. Here's what you'll need for a batch that serves four:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups soymilk (or water)
2 tbsps vegetable oil

All you do is mix and pour. Mix the dry ingredients together and stir in the wet ingredients. You can add water a tablespoon at a time to thin out the batter if it's too thick. After that, pour the mixture onto a nonstick pan and cook over medium heat, making sure to flip them when the edges start to brown. It's a simple, fast, vegan way to start the day.

Lunch: Vegan Mac and Cheese
Like many "regular" meals, mac and cheese can be turned into a vegan one with just a few ingredient substitutions available from your local grocery or organic food store. This recipe yields eight servings:
1 lb pasta
2 cups vanilla soy/rice milk
2 tbsps soy margarine
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground sage
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Again, it's a simple process once you've assembled the ingredients. Cook and drain the pasta, and then combine it with the other ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly and serve. That's it!

Dinner: Quesadillas
Here's a great, easy meal that won't tax your cooking skills. It serves eight, and it's a tasty way to end the day. Here's what you'll need:
1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans
1/2 cup water-packed roasted red pepper
3 tbsps lemon juice
1 tbsp tahini
1 peeled garlic clove
1/4 tsp cumin
8 corn tortillas
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup salsa

Drain the beans and put them in a food processor with the red pepper, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and cumin. Blend the ingredients until they're smooth. Spread two or three tablespoons of the mix onto a tortilla and place it on a nonstick pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with the desired amount of onions and salsa, then cover it with another tortilla and cook for two or three minutes, until the bottom tortilla is warm. Flip it over and cook on the other side for a minute, and you're done.

These are pretty simple recipes designed to show beginner vegans and amateur cooks that it's possible to prepare a smart meal without being an expert behind the frying pan. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty with ingredients, and soon enough you'll be able to make a variety of vegan dishes. Enjoy!

This guest post is contributed by Donna Moore, who writes on the topics of massage therapy schools. She welcomes your comments at her email Id:


Gina said...

Whoa, that does sound like a crazy weekend!! Glad you got your car back :)

Trinity (of haiku tofu) said...

Haha, that poor guy. I love that you didn't believe him at first- boy who cried wolf! I am glad everything worked out and you got your car back without having to pay a ticket or towing fees! Also, the ditalini looks awesome. I saw some black garlic at Whole Foods- next time I'll buy some.

I'm loving your quesadilla recipe- can't wait to try it out.

Cortney said...

Even though I seem terribly naive and silly I just make it a point to believe any crazy shit people tell me about tragedies that may have befallen them to avoid that uncomfortable feeling I got when one of my friends told me his uncle died by falling into a bread mixer at a factory and getting sliced to ribbons. I laughed out loud, and then the other members of his family quickly told me he wasn't joking. And it had happened about 6 months ago. Awesome, I'm an asshole, ta-da! I can laugh now, but at the time...

Mihl said...

Poor John! And poor you! I can't believe you needed his permission to get back your car.

All those recipes sound good, where to start?

Lisa Viger said...

i'm going to have to try that vegan mac and cheese!

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Anonymous said...

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Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Oh man, poor "John"! Looks like a tasty meal though!