Archives for posts with tag: Vegetarian

To go with the Tunisian style grilled chicken kebabs, I made two light and refreshing vegetarian sides, one of which is also from Susan Feniger.

I’ve always wondered what the difference between Israeli couscous and regular couscous are, Read the rest of this entry »

This quick and easy red pepper and walnut dip is good as an appetizer; like a pesto, it can be used as a spread on sandwiches, and also added to stews as a flavor enhancer.

To make the spread Read the rest of this entry »

Although Figs usually come into season in late June, they are already available in grocery stores by early June in Texas. I love fresh figs because they are so versatile and can go into sweet or savory dishes. I found some last weekend at Central Market and, on a whim, decided to make goat cheese stuffed figs. Read the rest of this entry »

The term en Papillote literally means “In Parchment” in French. Food is wrapped tightly in a parcel made out of parchment paper and baked in the oven, the steam from the package will cook the food. This is a very fool proof way of preparing fish without worrying about over cooking it. You can substitute brown paper or aluminum foil for parchment paper, but brown paper is not water proof and aluminium foil may add a metallic taste to the food. There is a lot of similarity between this cooking style and the Spanish and Asian version, where the parchment paper is replaced with banana leaves or bamboo leaves, and the leaves themselves act as a flavoring agent. Read the rest of this entry »

My boyfriend loves Italian food like chicken parmesan and fettuccine alfredo. We also know how bad these foods can be for you if you eat them often. I decided to make a healthier version of chicken parmesan and pasta by substituting eggplant for chicken, and adding chicken sausage and kale to the fettuccine and skipping the alfredo sauce completely.

Eggplant Parmesan, or any type of ____ Parmesan is composed of the protein or vegetable battered and fried, then baked with layers of mozzarella, parmesan, and tomato sauce. It’s almost impossible for this dish to taste bad with the cooking process and ingredients! If you mess up on one area of cooking, there are other areas that you can work on to fix the dish, and that’s why I love making anything Parmesan.

To start the dish, eggplant slices are sprinkled with salt, and placed over a colander for 30 minutes until the moisture is released from the eggplant. Releasing the water from eggplants will help the overall dish be firm and not soggy.

While the eggplant is draining, the tomato sauce is made. Instead of using olive oil to fry up the garlic, I used 1 chopped up slice of bacon to render up some bacon fat, and cooked the garlic until golden.

Next, hand crushed canned whole tomatoes and fresh basil leaves are added to the pan along with salt and pepper, hot chile flakes, and simmered for 30 minutes until thick. The recipe called for fresh peeled tomatoes, but I found canned whole tomatoes a good fast substitute.

The tomato sauce is set aside until ready to use. After the eggplant slices are drained, they are patted dry on paper towels. An inch of oil is heated in a large pan, and the egg plants are ready to be battered and fried. First they are dusted in flour, shaking off the excess when you are done.

Then the flour dusted eggplant slices takes a dip in an egg bath.

Then the egg covered eggplants are battered with panko crust, shaking off the excess.

All the eggplant slices are battered and placed in a pan until ready to be fried.

The eggplant slices are fried in the pan with the heated oil until brown on both sides.

When ready to assemble the eggplant parmesan, a layer of tomato sauce is placed on the bottom of a baking dish, then a third of the eggplants are layered on top of the tomato sauce.

Then a a layer of sliced mozzarella cheese is layered on top of the eggplants, and the process is repeated twice. The eggplant parmesan is baked in a 375F degree oven for 40 minutes until the cheese is brown on top.

For the Fettuccine, Kale is chopped and cooked in a boiling pot of water for 6 minutes and drained.

Some chicken sausage is browned in a pan, and the kale added to the sausage.

Then chicken broth is added to loosen up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and cooked fettuccine is added to the pan with kale and sausage.

The dish is finished up with some shaved pecorino cheese.

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe:
Fettuccine with Sausage and Kale:

After the previous heavy short rib course, I served a refreshing concord grape granita, which is basically homemade shaved ice. I also made this a day in advance, and all I had to do to serve was scoop the ice into serving cups.

It’s important to get concord grapes for this recipe, since the grapes have a distinct flavour, and the skin lends a nice bright purple color to the ice.

The grapes are washed and pureed in a blender, and the remnants set over a mesh sieve to remove seeds and left over grape skin.

The grape juice is then mixed with simple syrup to taste. Remember that the grape juice is already pretty sweet, so be aware of how sweet you want the granita to be.

The grape juice/simple syrup mixture is placed in the freezer for a few hours until a thin layer of ice forms on the top of the liquid. The recipe says to check it every 30 minutes, but I think it depends on how strong your freezer is and mine took longer than 30 minutes to set.

Using a fork, the top layer of the ice is scrapped and fluffed up. It doesn’t take that much effort at this point since the juice is only half frozen.

The mixture is placed back in the freezer for the bottom parts of the juice to freeze, and the same scraping process is repeated until the entire mixture is scraped up and frozen.

The bowl is covered and placed in the freezer until ready to serve. I would’ve like to have topped the granita with a leaf or two of mint, but unfortunately I didn’t have any at the time. This was an incredibly easy recipe to make, and it was a great break for our dinner so far.

Concord Grape Granita:

I love making Ravioli. It’s a time consuming process, but it’s one of those dishes where you can personalize to your own taste, and it’s something fun that you can do with a friend or your family. You can also make them in stages if you don’t have a whole day dedicated to them, and the ravioli can be made ahead of time and frozen and be good for weeks.

The ravioli recipe I picked is one I’ve not tried before from It sounded interesting because of the Artichoke filling, and the cream and tomato sauce you make with it. To make the filling, some onions are browned over medium heat, and thawed artichokes (from a frozen bag) are added to the pan, and sauteed until lightly browned

The artichoke and onion fixture are then transferred to a food processor, and processed with some parsley, Parmesan cheese, and freshly grated nutmeg.

The filling is set aside until ready to use.

There was a ravioli recipe I made from Food and Wine that I liked a lot, so I substituted that recipe for the dough.

To make the dough, flour, eggs, grated nutmeg, salt, and oil are processed together until moistened crumbs form.

And then the dough is scraped out on to a floured surface.

You can knead the ball a few times and form it into a ball.

The ball is wrapped plastic wrap and chilled for at least 1 hour until ready to use. The dough will take this time to relax. When ready to make the ravioli dough pieces, first you split the dough ball in four pieces, and wrap the pieces that you are not using so they don’t get dried out. To begin with, you flatted the 1/4 of the dough into a rough rectangle, then fold the rectangle in thirds like a letter.

This folded rectangular piece of dough is then passed through the largest setting of the pasta press machine. You do this twice and then move on to the next setting.

My pasta press machine is hand cranked and has 9 settings, 9 being the thinnest. I like my ravioli dough just a little chewy so I stop on setting 8. Any thicker will be too thick. If your pasta dough piece gets too long, you can cut it in two pieces and proceed that way.

I used both cookie cutters and small can bottoms to stamp out my ravioli skin. I like having variation in sizes for my ravioli.

Be sure to cover the cutout pasta skin as you work, or else they will get way too dry.

When you are ready to assemble the ravioli, take one piece of ravioli skin, brush it with some egg whites. Put about a teaspoonful of filling in the the center of the dough.

Take another piece of ravioli skin and cover the filling with it, pressing on the edges gently. The egg wash will help the sides to adhere.

Make sure you dust the assembled ravioli with plenty of flour, other wise the ravioli will stick together. If the ravioli is make ahead of time, you can cook what you want that day, keep the rest in the fridge, or if you know you are going to eat it a few days later, you can freeze the ravioli at this point. The cooking time is about the same for frozen ravioli as the fresh.

The ravioli is cooked for 5 minutes in boiling water, then drained and oiled and set aside for the sauce to finish.

To make the sauce some tomatoes and artichoke heart spears are cooked together in a pan, half of the raviolis are placed in a baking dish, drizzled with half the artichoke and tomato mixture and a little bit of cream. The other half of the raviolis are placed on top, drizzled with the rest of the artichoke and tomato mixture, some cream and a little parmesan cheese. The dish is placed in the oven and baked until the cheese has melted.

Easy Ravioli dough recipe:
Artichoke Ravioli with Tomato recipe:

It’s been a very mild winter in Austin, but it finally got chilly Sunday and we even had some styrofoam-like snow in the afternoon. I love winter months because I like eating hearty soups, and nothing feels more comforting than having a hot bowl of soup on a cold gray winter day.

As I was scanning my pantry for ingredients that I already have, I noticed these Vidalia Onions that I’ve had for a while, and the thought popped into my head to make French Onion soup. I have never made, nor have had french onion soup, mainly because I thought a soup composed of onions must be pretty boring. My boyfriend got me a French cooking book a while ago, and the recipe looked pretty interesting. I also had a pack of fresh shitake mushrooms left over from the Vegan Enchiladas I made the other night, so I decide to adapt the recipe into a French onion and mushroom soup.

The basics of the French onion soup is to sweat thinly sliced onions in some butter or olive oil on low heat for 30-40 minutes until the onions are lightly browned. I added the mushrooms about 10 minutes into the onion cooking process, since I think mushrooms takes slightly shorter time to brown than onions.

After about 30 minutes, your onions should be translucent and very pliable, and your mushrooms should be very soft as well. Keep cooking until you see brown spots on either the onions or the mushrooms like below.

I added about 4 cups of vegetarian broth into the mushroom/onion mixture, and let that sit for about 15 minutes on medium low heat.

The recipe called for the onion mushroom soup to be pureed in a food processor, but I personally prefer being able to eat bite sized mushrooms and onions with my soup, so I only pureed half of the onion mushroom soup and mixed the whole pieces of vegetables back in afterwards. It’s important to taste, and season the soup at this point.

The finished soup is ladled into individual soup bowls or large ramekins, topped with toasted pieces of bread and sliced grueyer cheese, and popped into the oven to broil for about 5 minutes. You want to watch the cheese on top carefully because it’s easy to burn the toast and cheese.

The cheesy toast on the top of the soup actually turned out to be my favourite part of the dish, it was crunch near the surface but soft and juicy on the bottom where it soaks up the onion soup. It is definitely something I would make again. I served the onion soup with some corned beef reuben sandwichs and pared it with a fruity Pinot Noir.

The French onion mushroom soup is vegetarian by it self, and I could definitely have eaten it with some chunky hot bread and called it a meal.

The French onion soup recipe I used is from the Complete Robuchon cookbook.