Monday, November 26, 2012

Winter Veggies

After the Thanksgiving holiday I was looking for some healthy meals using in-season vegetables. I came across a few recipes on the New York Times Recipes for Health column (which I really enjoy) and altered them slightly to add more flavor. The one in the picture is one that I quite enjoyed. Here is the recipe from the website. The dish was flavorful, filling, and healthy. I found all of the vegetables to be in-season at my food co-op. True the tomatoes may only have another week or so left before their season is over, but they could be substituted with another vegetable if necessary. Below are my altercations. 

4 large firm tomatoes
1 red onion chopped
2 zucchinis
2 eggplants
¼ cup grape seed oil
Mixed Herbs de Provence (if you wanted you could exchange fresh rosemary, thyme, and oregano)
2 cloves of garlic minced
¼ cup veggie broth
Salt and pepper
2 TBSP tomato paste

11. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
22. Chop veggies so they are about ¼ to ½ inch thick.
33. Chop the onion finely and mince the garlic. Set aside. 
44. Add grape seed oil, Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper, and veggies (except for the onion and garlic) in a large bowl and mix until the seasoning and oil are well dispersed.
55. Stack the veggies in an oiled pan so that there is no room for them to fall. I had to use two pans for this.
66. Pour the onion and garlic mixture over the pan of stacked veggies.
77. Add 1/8 cup of liquid mixed with 1 TBSP of tomato paste to each pan. The tomatoes will make more liquid but this helps to keep the veggies moist.
88. Cover your baking pan with tin foil or back in a Dutch oven for 45minutes.
99. Take out after 45minutes and add breadcrumbs (you could also add vegan cheese or parmesan if you like). Bake for another 15 minutes at 400 degrees. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Apple Butter

I recently made some fall apple apple butter. It is amazingly simple and deliscious. I made two canisters of it and thought it would last a few months, we ate almost an entire canister in the first week. We had friends over for dinner and put it warm on brie, yum! I also put it on pumpkin muffins, toast, and in oatmeal. Below is the recipe.

4 Granny Smith apples
6 sweeter apples (I used Empire and Honey Crisp)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
1 cup of brown sugar

1. Pell and chop finely all apples.
2. Place in the crock pot with all ingredients.
3. Cook on low for 9 hours stirring every 1.5 hours.
4. Serve warm and save the rest in canisters.

This came out so good I may even make some for the holidays to give out. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


My latest experiment is homemade Kombucha Tea. Kombucha is an ancient fermented tea with live bacteria. Many claim that is has various health benefits from improving your immune system to aiding in detoxification. Health benefits aside, I just love that it is fizzy and I enjoy the taste.

Last Christmas, Rich got me a Kombucha kit to feed my Kombucha addiction. I started using it about a month ago and am really happy to report that Kombucha is quite easy to make. Well, aside from the first time when I capped the bottles too tightly and we had to use a gigantic wrench to get them open. A It can also be a little unsettling at first being confronted by the live scooby (bacteria) in your drink, but now I am just impressed by how much it grows!

I have been experimenting with several different kinds of flavors. My favorite so far was the Orange-Ginger. I made a lemon-ginger flavor that was also very good. I like to mix it up. The recipe and method are below. If you want to try the lemon flavor, just substitute the orange juice with lemon juice.

Ginger-Orange Kombucha Ingredients 
6 black or green (decaf or regular) tea bags
1 cup of sugar

3/4 cup of fresh squeezed ginger
1 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice

1 Kombucha Scooby

1 large mason jar
1 square cotton cloth to cover the jar
several empty bottles

1. Fill the mason jar with water to see how much you need and then dump this into a large pot and bring to a boil.
2. Add 6 tea bags to the water and let sit for 10 minutes. Then remove the tea bags.
3. When the tea cools to luke-warm, add 1 cup of sugar. Be careful not to add the sugar too soon or it will crystalize.
4. Pour the liquid into the mason jar.
5. Once the liquid has cooled, add the Kombucha Scooby (if your water is too warm it can kill the scooby so make sure it is luke-warm).
6. Cover with a cotton cloth and let sit for 7-14 days.
7. Once the 7 days are up, remove your scooby. Store it with a little of the liquid in the refrigerator.
8.  Put about 1/4 cup of the combined orange-ginger juice in each bottle.
9. Add the Kombucha liquid until it is almost full. Be sure to leave some room.
10. Store the bottles is a warm place 2 two days, this helps the drink become fizzy. If you go much longer, you will get new a new scooby in your drink so be careful.
11. After two days, place the bottles in the fridge and enjoy chilled!

If you are wondering where to get Kombucha equipment and the live scooby, you can buy a Kombucha kit from Kombucha Brooklyn. Alternatively, you could do it for much cheeper by buying your own equipment and getting some one to give you their extra scooby (each batch gives birth to a new scooby). I know I always have extra.

Instead of wine, we often share a romantic bottle of Kombucha on weekday nights!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cold Weather Food

Now that the weather is cooler and the days are getting shorter, I am finding more time to cook and document it. Yesterday Rich and I got together with some friends and made one of my new favorites, vegan tomato soup with goat cheese grilled cheese and pesto sandwiches. It was perfect for a chilly, Halloween, post-hurricane day. Both are quite easy.

2 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
½ onion
2 tbsps mixed dried Italian herbs (oregano, parsley, thyme)
3-4 pounds of fresh tomatoes
1 tbsp pepper
1 large jar of tomato puree
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 cup veggie broth
1 bunch of fresh basil

1. Put a little olive oil in a pan and sauté the shallots, garlic, onion and dried herbs over medium heat.
2. Add chopped fresh tomatoes. Bring the pot with the tomatoes to medium-high and let cook with the lid on for 15-20 minutes stirring frequently.
3. When the tomatoes cook down, add pepper, tomato puree, diced tomatoes, and veggie broth. Let this cook on medium heat for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the bunch of fresh basil and let simmer on low for another 10 minutes.
5. Top with some fresh basil, a little thinly sliced tomato and breadcrumbs.
This soup is very tasty and surprisingly creamy for a vegan soup!

Whole-wheat sourdough (Bread Alone makes a very good one)
Pesto (I cheated and used store bought this time, but you can easily make your own)
Sliced tomato (in the picture I used a green heirloom tomato)
Goat cheese with herbs (you could make this recipe vegan by submitting Daiya cheese)
A little butter or Earth Balance for the pan

1. Spread the goat cheese and pesto on the sandwich.
2. Add a few thinly sliced tomatoes to the sandwich.
3. Place a little butter in the pan and cook the sandwich on both sides with the lid on to melt the goat cheese.
Serve with the soup!