Count Broccula's veg-head ramblings

My home experiments with vegetarian cooking. Focused on seasonal produce with some vegan stuff thrown in for good measure. I may include random other food-related stuff as I please.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Whoa! My goodness!

Sweetie made fruited chicken (well, fruited "quorn") and it was delicious! I won't give away his secret recipe (not that I know the whole thing, but it looked like pineapple chunks and soy sauce baked with chicken, and was delicious.

Christ!!!!!! This is the second time I've accidentally erased most of my post!!!!!!

Anyway, I made the coffee ice cream with the Madaglia D'Oro espresso, and it is fantastic. Really, at least as good as any coffee ice cream I've ever had, including the short-lived Starbucks ice cream (which, despite my Starbucks boycott, I have to admit was really freakin' goood).

2 eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 Tbs instant coffee granules.

Whip the eggs until they're fluffy, then add sugar gradually. Then stir in the milk, cream, and 2 Tbs of the coffee. Process in an ice cream maker, and about 2 minutes before the ice cream is completely set, add the final tablespoon of coffee.

For a super-extra-good bonus, I made a No Pudge Brownie (there's actually a single serving preparation suggestion on the box) and topped the hot brownie with just a little of the ice cream. Amazing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Oh yeah, the pickled eggs!

I was just reading the old entries, and I forgot I said I'd tell you how the pickled eggs came out. They're good. They're not all that strongly flavored, it's subtle (I chopped one up in a salad for sweetie, and he couldn't tell the difference between it and a regular hard-boiled egg. I can tell the slightly vinegary, lightly spiced flavor, though, and I like it. The longer they sit in there, the more brightly colored they get and the more flavor they get as well.


Last week, I was lucky enough to have lunch with sweetie at work. While there, I tasted Kathy's salsa -- a co-worker had made salsa that sweetie was crazy about. I told him to get the recipe, and I would make it. Here is the recipe exactly as Kathy wrote it:

"One thing before I start, the salsa never comes out the same. It all depends on how much you use in anything (and its also dependent on how your feeling - if your feeling crappy it will come out crappy but if your feeling great it will come out great!) Also note I can't give you exact amounts of things. You will need to determine your own taste. You can add and substract from the amounts given here.

1 can of tomates 14 ounce (can be diced or peeled - just not seasoned)
2 serrano chiles
1 jalapeno pepper
3 garlic cloves (or so depends on how you like garlic)
1/4 yellow onion
cilantro (fresh)

Roast chiles and garlic. (A pan works fine) Blacken sides.  When finished roasting place them in a plastic bag to sweat.

Depending on the size of the cilantro bunch, take about a 1/4 and cut lower stems off. I usually use 2/3 top of the cilantro. That's usually about right above the tie used to bunch the cilantro.

Place tomatoes in blender, add cilantro, and onion.

Add roast garlic (remove peelings)

Chiles: Using a knife and fork and a cutting board take chile, scrape off blacken skin with knife (should come off easily if not all comes off that's o.k.)  Cut stem off. Half chile. Open and with knife clean out seeds and membranes. Doesn't have to be perfect. The more you take out the less "hot" it will be so its really up to you.  I tend to be "messy" meaning I clean just enough and keep the rest for taste. Do this for each chile and place in blender.  Do not touch the chiles with your fingers!  Use knife and fork to hold and clean.

Now puree. 

Add salt to taste.


For added taste, make sure you have tortilla chips to taste. And don't forget the beer. Hmm salsa, chips and beer. Great for the nice spring and summer months ahead!"

Well, I made it today, and it was good. At first I didn't add enough salt, and it had a very sweet, noticeable "canned tomato" taste. Once I got enough salt in there, it was pretty tasty, and had just a little bite, too.

I'm pretty easygoing when it comes to my salsa -- I prefer them quite hot, but not so hot you can't taste anything but burning, yet I'll eat even the mildest salsas. I prefer a very chunky salsa fresca, but will eat pureed cooked salsas. I've had wildly different salsas that I liked equally, from the crazy hot pureed version at Tres Hermanas to a mild mango and red onion salsa from the Moosewood cookbook. The best I've ever had, hands down, was Papa's* cooked salsa. There's just no comparison.

HOWEVER . . . when it comes to guacamoles, I actually am pretty picky. I do not care for the kind that come in the plastic tup at the supermaket at all. Usually they come totally smooth and mixed with a dairy product. BLECH! What the hell is that? There's even a line of salsas you can get at the co-op that are really good, Native something, but their guacamole? Just so-so. Now as for homemade or restaurant guacs, I think people go wrong when they put too much stuff in. They're always tempted to bulk it up with onions (not too bad), tomatoes (which are for SALSA), or even hard-boiled eggs (I've had it more than once). My hippie cookbooks all have recipes for lower-fat "guacamole" with edamame or frozen peas or whatever. I don't think those should be called guacamole at all. I think you should have to offer your guests "pea dip." No, the avocado is so nearly perfect on its own that I firmly believe my method for making guacamole is about as perfect as you can get. I'll fight you on this, too.

2 avocados, very ripe.
2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
lemon juice

Use a little less than a tablespoon of lemon juice, and squeezed fresh out of a lemon** is better than bottled -- this is guacamole we're talking about, after all. The salt is to taste. Start with maybe half a teaspoon. With the lemon juice and the salt, start with just a little and taste, because you can always add more later. Smash everything together with a fork, but leave it chunky. I cannot stress this enough. Chunks are good! If you need to put more salt or lemon juice in after you've already smashed, try to stir the stuff without smashing it too much more. This, my friends, is guacamole perfection.

Tonight I think I'll also make coffee ice cream. I'll just use the Ben and Jerry's recipe with one difference -- instead of using instant coffee granules, I bought Medaglia D'Oro instant espresso.

* Papa was my best friend's grandpa. The salsa was amazing, and for years I bugged him to either write down the recipe or let me watch him make it, and he always said he would. But a week later or so, I'd come to the house and it would smell heavenly, and he would have just finished making it. It had tomatoes, garlic peppers, I think it had tiny bits of carrot. It was cooked in a giant metal pot on the stove and he put it in jars to give away. Man, it was amazing. IWe used to sit aroung a table with a bag of tortilla chips, not talking, barely looking at one another, just eating and eating, because if you stopped then your mouth would REALLY start to burn. never thought Papa liked me at first, because he would always call me "that girl." As in "Gregory, that girl's here." But after a while, I discovered that if I didn't show up for a couple days, he would ask "where's that girl?" Finally, when I would return, he would say, almost with relief, "there she is."

** Don't buy a lemon squeezer. The best way to squeeze a lemon is just to use your hand, and squeeze the juice over your other hand, which is cupped to catch the seeds. It's incredibly efficient, free, um, environmentally responsible . . . and if you've been cutting garlic it'll make your hands smell better. And it totally works. Don't be dumb, though -- if you've got a papercut or something, this will hurt.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Ginger ice cream, etc.

Well, if you're wondering, the ice cream turned out beautifully! I was a little worried that it wouldn't be strongly flavored enough, especially since I kept sniffing the mixture and couldn't smell the ginger. But it tasted good. Really good, actually. I am glad I went with the smooth ice cream, too, although it would make incredible ice cream sandwiches with either ginger snaps or molasses cookies.

As for the Garlicky Kale . . . (see last post) I tried hard not to change too much. I used four colossally humongous cloves of garlic, but the recipe said four. Everything else I did just as the recipe indicated until I got to the very end at the "adjust seasoning" part. I thought it needed quite a bit more salt -- I couldn't say how much I added, but I passed my big shaker over the skillet thoroughly twice. Then I served it up and tasted it again and I still really thought it could use a little kick. So I sprinkled it liberally with parmesan cheese (NOT the green can kind) and then doused it with a little splash of balsamic vinegar (not more than a teaspoon per bowl). That livened it up. It was tasty and filling.

I'll let you know in a couple days how the pickled eggs are. We have a good-looking veggie box coming tomorrow, so look for more experiments, too . . .

Dairy-tacular! Eggs, ginger ice cream, and Garlicky Kale with White Beans

Whoo, today has been a fun kitchen day! First, I hard-boiled a bunch of eggs. About half of them I'm just gonna dye pretty colors and eventually make sandwiches out of, chop and put on salads, or give to my cousins and the neighbor kids for Easter. Here's a tip I stole from Veggie Life magazine a couple Easters ago -- wrap rubber bands around the eggs before dipping them in dye for a pretty resist effect. The other half I'm pickling -- it goes like this: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup cold water, 3 cloves and 1 cinnamon stick. Boil young beets until tender (I used 6 tiny ones), peel and add to the liquid mixture. Then add peeled hard-boiled eggs. Let them pickle for at least two days before eating.

I haven't made them in almost ten years, and it's been nearly that long since I've even had a pickled egg. You don't actually have to use the beets, and I sure wouldn't eat them, but it does dye the eggs bright fuschia, which I see as a plus. They're tasty. You'd have to try them to judge.

Also, I really miss the Indian ice creams I occasionally got in San Francisco, like Cardamom, Chai, Ginger, Rose Petal . . . so I'm making ginger ice cream. I initially thought that I might go with the Ben and Jerry's principal off stuffing as much junk in there as possible -- Trader Joe's Triple Ginger cookies (ginger snaps), fresh ginger, powdered ginger, and candied ginger. But I don't actually like candied ginger much, and I started envisioning a smooth gingery ice cream, so I'm using the B & J's sweet cream base 1 (from their book), and I just minced about a cup and a half of fresh ginger and added it to about 2 cups of whole milk. Then I cooked it at a simmer, stirring constantly, for about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, the milk kind of separated, and the solids stuck to the ginger when I strained it. My ice cream freezer thing probably won't be ready until later tonight (it has to be in the freezer 24 hours), so I'll let you know tomorrow how it turns out. I've got the milk in the fridge so it can cool down before I mix everything up. I plan to taste it first and add powdered ginger if it needs more flavor.

Finally, for dinner I'm using the following Jack Bishop recipe -- last week's veggie box was way heavy on the greens. We ate two bunches of lettuce in salad, one cabbage in stir-fry, two bunches of chard (white and red) last night in greens with sausage, and I STILL have one giant bunch of kale, so tonight's plan is Garlicky Kale with White Beans, a hot stew-y dish to go with the rainy weather.

1 1/2 pounds kale
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
Two 15 oz cans cannelini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot.
2. Wash the kale in several changes of cold water, stripping off both sides of the leafy green portion from both sides of the tough central vein. Discard the veins and tear the leafy portions into small pieces. Add the kale and 1 tsp salt to the boiling water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, about 8 minutes. Drain well.
3. Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet set over medium heat. When the garlic is golden (this will take about 2 minutes), add the kale and cook, tossing well, until heated through and evenly flavored with the garlic, 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Add the beans and stock and simmer just until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Add pepper to taste. Adjust the seasonings and serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Rainbow stir-fry

Okay, not rainbow, but very colorful anyway.

1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced lemongrass
1 tsp minced garlic
1 inch knob ginger, peeled and minced
2 leeks, white parts chopped

2 large carrots, very thinly sliced
2 cups broccoli, broken into florets with stems peeled and sliced
1 small purple cabbage, cut into thin strips
1 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS chili-garlic paste

Heat the oils over high heat (I actually use the setting just below the highest on my electric stove, lest I scorch things). Then add the next 4 ingredients and stir until the leeks get translucent and the mixture is very fragrant. Then add the carrots and stir frequently for 1-2 minutes. Then add the broccoli and stir frequently for 1-2 minutes. Then add the cabbage, soy sauce, and chili-garlic paste and cook it for another 1-2 minutes. If everything's really done, the broccoli will be bright green but tender. The prep time on this takes more than the cooking time.

It was lovely and tasty. I served it over rice with a few veggie potstickers from Trader Joe's on the side.

I use a mandoline to slice my carrots, since I'm not really a very good slicer.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Asparagus success!

Yep, without having read in advance that he was being experimented on, Piggs volunteered "This is good, what did you put on it?" about the asparagus. I'm not sure I'd peel it every time, but I can see the benefit of it as well. We also had artichokes and a big salad with peas, cheese, rasperry vinaigrette, Bacos, leeks, and carrot curls (sometimes it's just fun to curl them, what can I say?).

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The asparagus challenge

Piggs says he doesn't like asparagus. This is nearly incomprehensible to me, as asparagus makes my top ten favorite veggies list easily. So a couple times now I've made him asparagus my favorite way -- stir-fried with ginger and garlic in sesame oil, then sprinkled with sesame seeds. He has admitted that he likes that. But we got some really good-looking asparagus in the veggie box yesterday, and I decided to see if he might appreciate the plain old glory of asparagus unadulterated. I peeled it (my first time, but the newspaper articles keep saying to try it), steamed it very briefly so that it's still crisp and bright green, then put fresh ground black pepper, less than 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt, and a tiny splash of lemon juice on it. I'm letting it cool down to make either a room temperature or a chilled salad. I suspect it will be extraordinary. I'll let you know how he likes it.

Monday, March 07, 2005


Sorry I haven't updated lately. Our last veggie box was perfect for salad stuff, so we've been making salads. Delicious ones! Yesterday we made a huge salad with romaine lettuce, orange sections, fennel bulbs and leaves, avocado slices, blue cheese (amazing wonderful incredible best blue cheese ever, Point Reyes blue), and fat-free rasberry vinaigrette. Other than that, I kind of ate out a lot this weekend. Friday was Kathmandu Kitchen, where we had a delicious dinner (we both got the thali dinner, which includes a lentil soup, a vegetable curry, bread, rice, and whatever you order (mine was potatoes and cauliflower, ordered "very very hot.") We also got a little taste of aloo achaar, which I'm crazy for. It's like Indian potato salad with jalapenos and mustard oil. Yummy stuff. Saturday afternoon with Mom was Trest Hermanas (veggie quesadilla), Saturday dinner was sushi at Kamon (oshinko maki and a Merry roll), Sunday evening was Buddha's Delight at Pho Bac Hoa Viet.

More experiments are coming, though. I promise.