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Vegetarian Chilli

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Every blog has its milestones: first post, first comment, or even the first time it is mentioned on another site. Unfortunately, not all firsts are necessarily positive, and this just happens to be one of those firsts. For the first time, I am sincerely apologizing for not blogging for over a week. I know it’s not the end of the world, but I have been so dedicated to posting, it almost feels like neglecting to brush my hair or call my mom. Speaking of mom and family, I really want to thank everyone who called or nicely questioned if I was alright and why I haven’t posted. It really meant so much for your support. And, on another positive note, it really shows me that I can have a bad week of non-blogging and neither I nor my site will spontaneously combust. Good to know.

As for the reason for my neglectfulness: I just went on a two week trip to Paris (with a stop in Koln, Germany) with Ilya!  It was an amazing trip full of great highs and lows, where I got to see amazing things and go to amazing places, and of course, let’s not forget about taste the most amazing food. I will add more about that in my next post.  When I was leaving for the trip, I thought I could outsmart the posting schedule with the delightful use of technology.  I wrote 2 weeks of recipes ahead and scheduled them to post leaving me with enough time to get back and create the next post in a jiffy.  Thanks WordPress! Well technology did help me with the posting schedule beautifully, but what it failed to help me with, or rather what I failed to take into consideration, was that by the time I got back from  the trip I was so tired it took me an entire week to get everything back in order.

So before I tell you about my trip, I have to mention how much I missed cooking and eating home prepared meals. Don’t get me wrong, eating at a French bistro in the middle of the day in Paris was latterly a dream come true. But after 2 weeks of restaurants and 8 hours of a long flight home, by the time I got back I was CRAVING warm, healthy, protein filled American food and I couldn’t think of any other dish that could fill my appetitive better then vegetarian chilli. This meal is easy to prepare and easy to gulp down. It warms your belly and soul and gives you the energy and emotional boost you need from any long day. So if you need some comfort food, I am pleading with you, try this!

Source: Elona’s Original

Ingredients:

  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 4 -5 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • ½  stalk or about 4 ribs  of celery, cubed
  • 1 package of Trade Joe’s Gimme Lean
  • 1 cup of cooked cannellini beans
  • 1 package of Pacific Organic Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
  • ½ teaspoon to cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of Cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon of Paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of Cajon seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon of dry Parsley
  • Salt to taste

Instructions:

1.       If necessary, cook the cannellini beans according to package instruction or open a canned jar.

2.       In an oiled pan, sauté the chopped onions and sliced garlic until light brown or about 5 min.

3.       Add the chopped celery and carrots and fry for another 3 min.

4.       Add the package of Trader Joe’s Gimme Lean imitation beef. Fry until brown or about 3 more min.

5.       Add the cannellini beans, tomato soup and seasoning of ½ teaspoon to Cumin, Cayenne, Paprika, Cajon seasoning, dry Parsley and Salt to taste.  Stir. Cook for another 3 min.

Vegetarian Russian Patties (Котлеты)

Thursday, March 24th, 2011


Whenever you go to a restaurant, it is always wise to order dishes that represent that restaurant. Naturally, you would order pizza from an Italian restaurant and Lo Main from a Chinese place. Most restaurant remain cuisine specific, so it’s not that hard to find great selections. My trick is to always find the signature dish of the place. This is the dish that is served most often because it is the hallmark and the very essence of the establishment.  I believe every cook has a signature dish. Maybe it comes from an old family recipe that brings them back home, maybe an inspiration that they took to a whole new level or maybe it was an invention that is so brilliant that it cannot be forgotten. In any case, when you taste this signature dish all you can taste is who the cook stands for both as a person and as a passionate cook.

I don’t believe I have cooked long enough to have a signature dish, but if I had to declare a signature dish for my blog this would be it.  Have you ever over eaten something in your childhood to the point that you swear up and down that you would never consume it in your adult life?  Chances are by the time you reach adulthood, and had a taste of the whole wide world, you find yourself yearning for that home taste of comfort.  Like most typical Russian family, I grew up on Russian chicken patties (Котлеты). This dish is a staple and very essence of Russian everyday cooking. I personally loved the taste but had so much of it, I could not wait to get away from it. I guess that is the same way Ilya felt when he became a vegetarian. A little time later, we miss the taste of childhood. So, I went to work on creating a vegetarian version of the dish and I got to say it’s surprisingly similar and equally delicious. I will admit the original version is a bit puffier and chewier but the taste is still remarkable.  Hence, my vision and my signature dish unveiled:  a delicious vegetarian version of a classical Russian dish.

Ingredients:

  • ½ large onion, chopped finely
  • 1 package of vegetarian meet (look it up)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 slices of bread
  • ½ cup of milk or soymilk
  • 1 table spoon of Teriyaki sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat an oil pan.

2. Rip the bread into pieces. Place in bowl and cover with milk. Set aside to allow the bread to soak up all the milk.

3. Finely dice the onion and place into a large mixing bowl.

4. Open the vegetarian meat and break it up into little pieces into the bowl.

5.  Add the milk and bread mixture, eggs, Teriyaki sauce, minced garlic, salt and pepper.

6. Mix the ingredients with your hands so everything is merged together.

7.  Either using a large spoon or your hand cup out a small portion of the mixture and fry  for about 4 minutes on each side or until they are browned.

Corn, Pea & Cauliflower Fritters

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

As you many of you know, while this blog remains vegetarian, I am not.  My kitchen is strictly vegetarian but my restaurant menu choices are not necessarily so. As my personal beliefs, while I do believe people should eat less meat and I am completely against animal cruelty, I do not have strict ethical code against occasionally eating meat and seafood.  At first I was extremely uncomfortable with this idea.  I had this grave fear that readers would find out my address, bang on the door in 3 am with sharp kitchen knives and aprons with slogans like “Imposter”, “Fraud” and “Wanna-Be”.  Alright, so maybe I am projecting and maybe I got carried away…a bit. But the truth is, as much as I respect my readers, my boyfriend and everyone else’s eating habits, people need to respect mine and I have to come to terms with that.

On the upside, I am happy to be able to bring the omnivores flavors into the herbivorous taste pallet and, conversely break the cruel vegetarian myths to all those carnivores out there. And while we are on the subject, here is today’s myth: all vegetarian food is healthy. While I do wish this was the case, it sadly is not.  While vegetarians attempt to stay food conscious, we cannot help but indulge in the bad food that tastes so unbelievably good.

This little baby proves my case. One day I found myself glued to an videos of Australian chef Anna Gare. I know we have about a million TV chefs in this country but she was so lively and funny. I could not stop watching and drooling over the food.  In one particular episode, Anna made Corn Pea and Cauliflower fritters or basically, deep fried vegetable goodness. Now, normally I would hold back but this time I could not handle it. I couldn’t care how much oil I was using, this stuff was so delicious on so many levels.  So, what’s the moral of the story boys and girls? Vegetarian or not, everyone deserves to be bad sometimes and enjoy the comforts of delicious, not so well for you food. So why not indulge yourself in this little badness of joy.

Fritters frying in my pan. Look at the lovely oil frying. MMMM




Source:  www.lifestylefood.com

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Ricotta
  • 2 separated Eggs
  • 1 Pinch of Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted Butter plus butter for frying
  • 2 tablespoons Flour
  • 1 cup of frozen peas and corn
  • 1 cup cauliflower blanched and finely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
  • Butter

Instructions:

  1. Separate the eggs. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until they are at their soft peak. Set aside.
  2. In another large mixing bowl, add the ricotta, egg yolks, sugar, salt & butter. Beat together until the mixture blends together.
  3. Fold in flour to the mixture.
  4. Add the vegetables to the mixture, folding it over carefully.
  5. Add the cheese and mix all together.
  6. Add the beaten egg whites to the mixture and fold over carefully.
  7. Lightly butter non-stick pan, put on med- low heat and fry a few minutes on each side until golden.

Barbecue Tofu Pizza

Monday, March 14th, 2011

They say the greatest inventions are always created by accident. Granted, by no means does cooking compare to the invention of electricity, but food has always been a powerful impact on modern culture. For example, according to Slashfood.com, “when the Toll House Inn’s Ruth Wakefield ran out of baking chocolate powered one day in 1930, she smashed up a bar of semi-sweet chocolate and added the pieces to her dough.” As cooks, we all come with some personal inventions of our own. While they may not become as wide known as Toll House’s Chocolate chip cookies, each new delicious mistake delights us with a novel recipe. I am proud to admit that Barbecue Tofu Pizza was my culinary mistake that went from bad to oh so amazingly good.

Last week I had a bunch of tofu packages in the fridge and I was really curious about what kind of flavors I could add. I checked out the side door and my eyes fell instantly to the barbecue sauce. How bad could it be? As I sautéed my ingredients together, I quickly remembered a critical rule that I so easily forget: if you put too much in a pan, the tofu does not have time to get crisp. While the flavors were great, I was really craving something on the more chewy side and this was unmistakably not it. Another scroll through my kitchen and I remember my grandmother had donated premade pizza dough that was now hanging for a week out in the creepy corner of the fridge for the past week. Ilya and I hardly eat white bread, so it had not found its calling, until now. I grabbed the sucker out and half an hour later my mistake became a delectable dinner I couldn’t pass down if I tried.

On a side note, if do not like tofu, feel free to substitute with Tempah, mushrooms or cooked chicken breast for you omnivores out there. Either way, I promise you trying this dish won’t be a mistake.

Ingredients:
• 1 package of Tofu
• 1 Onion
• 1 Green Pepper
• ½ cup Barbecue Sauce
• 1 cup of Ricotta Cheese
• ½ cup of Cheddar Cheese
• 1 Premade Pizza Crust

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Dice onions and fry in a preheated oiled pan until they are golden brown.
3. Slice the green pepper and add into the frying pan. Cook for 5 min.
4. Chop Tofu in cubes and add to mixture.
5. Add barbecue sauce and seasoning. Fry for another 10 min.
6. Place the pre-made pizza crust on foiled tray.
7. Add ricotta cheese to the pizza evenly.
8. Add the BBQ Tofu mixture onto the pizza.
9. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese on top of the pizza.
10. Bake for 15 min.

Mock Liver Pate or Mushroom Pate

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

When I was about 13, my parents adopted a black cat named Silky. Let me rephrase that: our cat, Silky adopted us. In doing so, she taught us many valuable lessons. First, always have something to bring to the table. She used to go out hunt the best animals around and bring it back for breakfast. Yuk…I mean yum. She taught us how to be green. She insisted on drinking from the tap and she always screams like crazy if we forget to turn off the faucet when she’s done. No joke. Lastly, she taught to always eat small meals, all hours of the day instead of one big meal. Of course, this meant we are obligated to get up at all hours of the night to prepare these meals. And, if we didn’t? She would punish us by breaking our most glass things. I still miss my 8th grade ceramics project but that’s just water under the bridge. Yup, she has us trained.

Just like Silky’s lifestyle preferences, her dietary requirements were quite stringent. Besides her staple brand of cat food, this picky eater will only consume people food if she finds it adequate after proper examination. This happens less then you think. But, rest assured this cat has one chilles heal: chicken liver. If there is only a hint of the stuff, she will scream so hard it will echo through entire house. Lucky for Silky, she adopted the right family because liver pate is a common dish in the Russian kitchens based on fried liver, fried onions and butter. And whatever your feelings are toward eating chicken liver, I got to side with Silky on this one. I love the stuff.

Not living with my demanding cat anymore, not to mention substituting a cat with a vegetarian boyfriend, leaves me with little motivation to make Russian Liver Pate. But when I noticed a blog about vegetarian pate, it got my memory going and I knew I needed to try it. Sure enough, this stuff was great. The consistency is a little less dense then the original dish, but the taste is on point. If you don’t like chopped liver but always wanted to try this ethnic dish, or even if you do like the taste of chicken liver this is a nice alternative with less claries and fat. And, let’s face it, when it comes right down to it, this is truly a spread based on fried mushroom and friend onions and who could go wrong with that?

Source: Adapted from Cassies-kitchen

Ingredients:

• 2 cups of sliced mushrooms (any preference)
• 2 cups of onions, chopped
• 1 cup of walnuts
• 1 cup of parsley or dill, chopped
• ½ cup of sour cream
• 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds (optional)
• 1 teaspoon of cayenne (optional)
• Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Chop the onions and fry in a preheated frying pan until the onions are sweating and translucent.
2. Chop the mushroom and add them to the onions. Fry until the mushrooms are soft and cooked through. Set aside.
3. Add the walnuts to the processor and process until the walnuts are chopped finely.
4. Add the mushroom and onion mixture, the sour cream, parsley, and flex seed. Process until the mixture is unified.
5. Add cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.

Lentil Loaf

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

In the beginning, becoming a vegetarian cook did not seem so difficult. I just took any recipe and omitted the meat. But, I quickly found out these meals made me feel hungry and dissatisfied. I yearned heartier, filling bites. I realized I needed to be more conscious of the nutritional value of the meals I was making and to make sure I was getting enough protein and vitamins. Ilya helped introduce me to vegetarian friendly foods and I got nervously excited about the possibilities. Tempah, Sunflower Seed Mayo and Flex Seeds, oh my! I was so enamored by the possibilities; I just didn’t know where to start.

Ergo, Emeril Lagasse. Since childhood, the Food Network has been the elevator music of my life. If there is nothing to catch on TV, the Food Network was on, if the family is having quality time together, the Food Network is on, and if we are cooking in the kitchen, the Food Network is most definitely on. And of the Food Network, Emeril Lagasse was the front winner. One day, I discovered that in the same time I was searching for vegetarian friendly meals, Emeril powered up with PlanetGreen.com to inspire eating healthier, more vegetarian based diets. Did Emeril read my mind? Is he only around to serve my and only my needs alone? My guess would be yes, but you are free to beg to differ. In any case, there was no question I was going to start making his dishes, especially as a symbolic gesture of entering the vegetarian world.

What can I say, Emeril cannot do me wrong. This Lentil Loaf was EXACTLY what I was craving. It had the perfect textured bite, with a mixture of sweet fried onions, moist beans and spicy veggies and thick rice. It stored really great in the fridge. For vegetarians and omnivores alike, this can also be a great meal to show that vegetarian food does not always have to be comprised of pure leafy greens. Whatever your preferences are, I promise you, if you try it, you won’t be missing meat for dinner.

PS. Don’t be scared of the long ingredient list. You have most of these in your cuppord and your free to take one or two things out as you choose. Plus, it makes so much food, you can freeze some so enjoy later on.

Source: Emeril Lagasse PlanetGreen.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups firm-cooked lentils
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice or brown rice
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Cook the rice according to box instructions.

3. Cook the lentils according to the box directions

4. Chop the celery, onions, pepper and garlic.

5. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat add oil; when hot, add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions are light brown.

6. Add the chopped bell pepper and celery into the pan and cook for another 10 minutes.

7. In a large bowl combine the sautéed vegetables with the walnuts, lentils, rice, breadcrumbs, basil, thyme, oregano, eggs, flour and milk. Season with salt and pepper, mix well.

8. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Spoon the mixture into the loaf pan. Bake until firm, about 45 minutes.

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