Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Like it’s 5773


Earlier this week, in order to observe Rosh Hashona, I did something that was long overdue: I disconnected from the world at large.

It’s a new year—5773, to be exact—and the days are solemn, which suits me just fine. They’re days of reflection and awe; of taking stock, making amends and making changes.

I had a long standing joke with a long ago boyfriend that it was a good thing that we were Jewish, we had two chances each year for a fresh start.

I still sort of believe this.

Maybe it’s because the days are slow going. I’ve alluded to it here, with my absence as much as anything else. Two steps in one direction, one in another.

On Monday afternoon, I got out the mixer and set about making challah. In a burst of ambition, I attempted the traditional shape, winding the cord of dough around itself until redoubled, letting it rise and bake up fragrantly and golden brown.

Except. Well, it didn’t quite bake.

Or, bake at all.

Instead, it was a perfectly browned lump of uncooked dough. I thought about using it for Tashlikh but then remembering this particular scene thought the wiser. And, I couldn’t get to the water anyway. No matter, it’s all metaphorical. Perhaps that’s the lesson.

There’s always something to learn from and a way to make sense of a year’s passing. I had an extra challah on hand, made in the more typical braided style. A lesson learned from experiences such as Monday’s. The greater takeaway: plan for the unplanned, if you can. And, if you can’t, go with it.

I meant to share a recipe for apple cake with you here, for the holiday’s sake. I always mean to, and maybe next year I’ll get to it. Instead, another traditional Jewish food—at least in my experience—the potato knish. Naturally, I meant to share this recipe with you months ago.

Forgive me, I’m running behind, as always, although now one step closer to catching up.

Potato Knishes
Recipe adapted from Joe Pastry

For the Dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg, plus 1 yolk set aside (to glaze the dough)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 cup water, plus 1 tsp set aside
1 large egg yolk

For the Filling:
1.5 pounds russet potatoes (3 medium or 4 small), peeled quartered and boiled
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

To Make the Dough:
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine, and set aside, forming a well in the middle. In another bowl, combine the whole egg, oil, vinegar, and 1/2 cup of water. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, using your hands to knead them together until the mixture forms a smooth dough. Place the dough in the large bowl, covering with plastic wrap and set aside for at least an hour. While the dough is resting, make your filling.

To Make the filling:
Boil the potatoes in salted water, starting with cold water and bringing it to a boil with the potatoes in the water and then reducing the heat to medium. This ensures even cooking. The potatoes are done when they are tender. This should take about 20 minutes. When the potatoes are ready, drain them and set them aside to cool.

While the potatoes are cooling, cook the onions by heating a large pan over low heat, adding the vegetable oil once the pan is hot. Add in the onions and caramelize over medium low heat until they are golden brown. This will take approximately 45 minutes. When the onions are ready, in a large bowl, combine them with the potatoes, white pepper and salt to taste. Mash them until they are smooth, then set aside to cool.

To Assemble the Knish:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take half of the dough and roll it out onto a floured surface. Roll it out as thinly as possible, forming a square shape that’s approximately 12″ long . Place the potato mixture in the center, so that it is approximately 1″ thick, then roll the filling up within the dough, leaving a little room. You don’t want it too tight or it will open up while baking. Trim the ends of the dough. You want them to be about 1/2″ longer than the potato filling.

Make indentations along the filled dough every 2.5″ and twist the dough at these points, snipping it at each turn and then using your fingers press the ends together to seal tightly, twisting to ensure that it stays closed. Using your palm, flatten the knish. Then, using your palm, press the dough on the top of the knish, leaving it mostly open. You want the dough to run flat against the potato.

Please the knishes on parchment lined baking sheets, taking care to leave at least 1/2″ of space between each one.

Bake the formed knish:
Whisk the egg yolk and 1 tsp water together and using a pastry brush, glaze the top of the knish. Bake for 45 minutes, until they are golden brown.

Allow to cool for at least ten minutes before serving.

Makes approximately one and a half dozen knishes 1.5″ in diameter


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Filed under Etc., Starch & Grains, Vegetables

Maybe it’s me.

…but, it seems to be getting a little—okay, positivelygluttonous here these days. This being the season and all.

Before I get to the main course and, my favorite: the stuffing, I think that something green is in order. I should at least give the pretense of a well balanced meal (and, a well balanced series of posts, for that matter), right?

And, on that note: roasted Brussels sprouts.

I have no long introduction here, just a simple statement: these are good. And, fairly effortless: chop, toss and roast on a low heat.

That’s it.

It’s a side dish that is light on effort and heavy on flavor, the kind of dish you can more or less forget about while you’re setting the table. Or, in my case, searching for a complete set of silverware.

As you plan the rest of your meals for your holiday, keep this side dish in mind.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 TBS olive oil
5-6 garlic whole cloves, peeled
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Cut in quarters and mix them in a bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to allow the Brussels sprouts to brown evenly. When they are ready, they should be crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt to taste and serve immediately.

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Filed under Vegetables

For the cold days

Remember that bread making class I took? I’m sure that you’re expecting more recipes for all thing yeasty.

I have plans.

Yet, right now, I’m going to tell you about beans. I know, I know, it doesn’t quite make sense. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

The short version of this is that, at the end of my class, I bought one of the instructor’s books, wooed by the promise of step by step pictured accompanying the instructions on making sourdough. Then, as I was flipping through, I saw this recipe for red beans. Having just spent three days making bread, this went straight to the top of my must make this now list.

I love all things braised, particularly in red wine, but, since, all things considered, I’m still fairly new to eating so much read meat, I’m always looking for ways to get the flavors without all of the heaviness.

This hits all the right notes. It’s rich, without the weight of so much fat, but with enough heft to be a main course. And, if you substitute dried herbs, then it’s made with pantry staples.

Today promises to be a cold one, I’d suggest getting started on making this immediately.

Red Wine Braised Kidney Beans
Recipe from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen

1.5 cups dried dark kidney beans, rinsed and soaked
3 TBS olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 small celery, finely diced
sea salt
4 TBS tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup full bodied red wine, like rioja or chianti
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried sage
freshly milled black pepper

Preheat your oven to 275 F

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine beans with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Skim the foam and simmer on a low heat for about 1 hour.

In the meantime, in Dutch oven, warm the oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and a pinch of salt. Saute for 5 minutes, then add the tomato paste, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add in the dried herbs and stir.

Pour the wine into the Dutch oven and bring it to a boil. Add the vinegar and bay leaf. Then add the beans and their skimmed liquid. If necessary add more water so that the beans are covered.

Bring the beans to a boil. Cover the Dutch oven and cook for 1-2 hours, until the beans are creamy on the inside but still hold their shape. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4

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Filed under Beans, Meatless, Vegetables

Making Concessions. And soup.

This is my one concession to Thanksgiving.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited about the food as everyone else—in fact, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner just might be one of my favorite meals of the year. And, I’m sure that it will come as no surprise that I’d be happy to make whole meals for the rest of the week out of stuffing.

But, the thing is….


How to say this?

Ok, out with it then.

My family’s Thanksgiving meal is traditionally in a restaurant. Or, at least it has been for the past several years.

There are lots of reasons for this, but mainly, it’s simply that it works for us. We’re all coming from different places and have different dietary restrictions. And, this way we can all sit and relax. Which is really, I think, the point of the holiday.

The problem, of course, is that I really don’t have a stable of recipes. I do, however, have an address book filled with suggestions for Prix Fixe dinners.

And, that said, my immediate family typically does have a smaller version of the meal at some point over the weekend—after all there’s something to be said about having the left overs for days on end. So, in some ways, I get the best of both worlds. And, I’m not constrained by the traditions when I cook.

With that in mind, and following the longest introduction ever, I present you the pumpkin soup that I’ve been eating as of late. This version isn’t for you purists—frankly, I’m a little bored with the classic combinations and find things like pumpkin and maple syrup or brown sugar or apples or you name it a little too sweet for a soup. This one’s got kick. Lots of onions, lots of chili. I’m enjoying it so much, I’m planning the left overs already.

Until the next time, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

1 2-pound sugar pumpkin
3 TBS olive oil, divided
6-8 cups vegetable stock (recipe follows)
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
2 tsps ancho chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape the center, setting the seeds aside. Brush the pumpkin with 1 TBS oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp paprika and salt. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour until the pumpkin is soft and can easily be scraped from the skin.

Once the pumpkin seeds are dry, sprinkle 1 TBS of oil on them and season with salt. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, until they are golden brown.

While the pumpkin is roasting, make the vegetable stock (recipe follows).

When the pumpkin is roasted, allow it to cool and scoop out the roasted flesh. Set it aside.

In a large dutch oven, heat 1 TBS of olive oil. Saute the onion, garlic and shallot for approximately 10 minutes on a low heat, until they start to brown. Add the pumpkin, ancho chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and a dash of salt. Cover with the vegetable broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste, adding salt if necessary.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. If the soup is too thick, add more water.

Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Serves 6 as an appetizer

Vegetable Stock
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
8 cups cold water
1 TBS lemon juice

In a large stock pot, saute the vegetables, onion, and garlic for approximately 5 minutes on a low heat until everything starts to brown. Add in the red pepper flakes and saute for another minute. Then, add in the water, peppercorns, bay leaf and add salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour. Strain out the vegetables, add in the lemon juice and season with salt.

Set aside.

Makes 8 cups

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Filed under Meatless, Soup, Uncategorized, Vegetables

And so, we press on

I know, I know, after posting recently about transplants and stolen wallets, it feels a little anticlimactic to be telling you about bean salad.

I suspect it would be anyway.

This is the last of the Second Annual Indian Summer Picnic recaps. And, I’m not really sure that a humble bean salad stands a chance against pounds and pounds of pork or a cake so good my guests are still talking about it a month later.

And, yet, this bean salad is precisely what I’m choosing to share with you now.

It’s not by necessity—I have a whole series of recipes that I’m waiting to share.

Rather, it’s because my four bean salad is exactly the kind of thing that I need these days. It’s humble, yes, but it’s also infinitely adaptable. This is particularly important if, like me, you were raised by a woman who told you that if you didn’t have any leftovers, you didn’t have enough food. This is a maxim I still hold true, which is why, this is one of those recipes that’s meant to serve more as a guide so that, if three hours before your guests arrive you start to get nervous that you won’t have enough food, you can simply add more beans.

Or tomatoes.

Or, well, you get the idea.

And, on that note, I’m hoping to have more information to share about the stolen wallet saga soon, mostly because, in all honestly, I’m anxious to have this put behind me. I’ve already spent countless hours on the phone dealing with the aftermath, all the while trying to remind myself that, while this is something that happened to me, it’s not something that happened to me.

If you know what I mean by that, we should definitely be friends. In which case, there’s a very good chance I would be making you this very salad.

Four-Bean Salad

1 cup green beans, cut in 1″ pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch scallions
2 cups chick peas
1 cup black beans
1 cup kidney beans

For the Dressing:
1 shallot, diced finely
2 TBS cider vinegar
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

If you’re using dried beans, cook them according to the method outlined here. For canned beans, simply drain and rinse them and set aside until you are ready to use.

Blanche the string beans and set them aside.

In a large bowl, combine the shallots, mustard, vinegars, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly pour the olive oil in to the mixture, whisking constantly to combine.

Mix the beans, string beans, and tomatoes with the vinegarette and toss to combine. Garnish with scallions and add salt and pepper to taste.

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Filed under Beans, Vegetables

Wherein I disregard a popular maxim

I’m planning on making the baked macaroni and cheese I’m about to tell you about next week. Originally, I thought about waiting to get some better photos before sharing the recipe with you. But, to do so seemed cruel.

It’s that good.

I admit, I had my doubts. Midway through preparing it, that maxim about testing out recipes before making them for company came to mind. The texture of the sauce suggested that the egg had not been tempered properly. The liquids weren’t thickening. I mixed in the pasta and it was a soupy mess.

Andrea, who was helping me cook, suggested that we taste it. The flavor was good. We comforted ourselves with that. And, baked the first batch of it since, really, there were twenty people coming and although the bean salad was good, that wasn’t going to be enough for the vegetarians.

Once it finished baking, I realized the genius of the dish. The sauce is just soupy enough to ensure that the final baked product is perfectly creamy while the pasta remains perfectly cooked. And, the topping? Seriously, the best part. Crunchy and golden and I couldn’t make a second batch fast enough for all of my guests. Many were waiting by the kitchen for the second batch to be ready.

The macaroni and cheese recipe doubles easily, so it’s the perfect hearty dish to serve to a crowd as the weather gets cold.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
6 TBS butter, divided
3 TBS flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.


Filed under Meatless, Pasta

Lacking in Glamour

And, so, the Second Annual Indian Summer Picnic recap posts press on. It seems fitting as I’m just about to be sick of eating leftovers—even with many of my guests taking food home, too, there was a lot of food.

Believe it or not, the fennel slaw was one of the first things to go. It’s not an obvious choice, I know. It’s sort of mono-chromatic and, compared to the pork, or St. Louis Gooey Butter Bars (wait ’till I tell you about those), it seems all too virtuous. It’s the dish you eat to make yourself feel better about all of the gluttony that will follow.

And, yet, the slaw is a great foil, crunchy and refreshing, with some acidic notes that were perfect to offset the heat and unctuousness of pulled pork. But, it’s just as good on its own—maybe its the way that all of the textures play off each other. Or, the fact that, given how flavorful it is, it comes together in minutes; a selling point when you’re trying to get a meal for 20 on the table.

That said, I will be eating this dish as a salad, too, as long as fennel is available. I strongly suggest you do the same.

Fennel Slaw
Recipe adapted from Epicurious

I changed the dressing slightly, eliminating the oil, to make the slaw more acidic cut the heat of the pork. I also left out the celery leaves and fennel fronds from the original recipe, because I wanted the slaw to be a little heartier.

2 TBS honey
3 TBS cider vinegar
1 tsp red wine vinegar
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced crosswise
2 small apples (I used Macintosh), peeled and julienned
Salt and Pepper

Whisk honey and vinegars in a medium bowl, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add the celery, fennel and apple into the dressing and toss to coat. Add more salt if necessary.

Makes 4-6 Servings

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Filed under Vegetables