Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cooking with Mollie #18: Ricotta-filled Portobello Mushrooms

A vegetarian is always looking for hearty, filling entrees. One can only eat so many veggie burgers, so sooner or later, mushrooms come into play.

This recipe for Ricotta Stuffed Portobellos is, of course, from Mollie Katzen's great cookbook "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without." At that link, it is copied word-for-word, which seems copyright violation to me, so I suggest you just buy the book, because it is really worth the money.

This dish does take a bit of cooking time, but the actual prep is quick and easy. First, you clean a big portobello mushroom cap, remove the stem and scrape out the gills with a spoon.

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The denuded cap looks like this:
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You start sauteeing the mushroom caps while you prep the filling. It takes about 10 minutes on each side, depending on how big your mushrooms are.

A really great ricotta is a beautiful thing. I get Angelo and Franco brand from Fresh & Easy and it is so soft and fluffy that it is like the breath of baby angels.
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The filling is just ricotta, garlic, salt and pepper. I think it might be nice with some herbs thrown in, too, or maybe a dash of ground Aleppo peppers for spiciness.

The filling goes in the mushrooms, gets topped with a slice of ripe tomato (I used yellow, which is kind of pretty) and sprinkled with parmesan and thyme.

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A few minutes under the broiler and voila - you have the richness of the portobello on the bottom and the delicate filling on top. A nice, satisfying entree - and much more impressive than a veggie burger.

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Bon appetit!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cooking With Mollie #18: Asparagus with Pomegranate Lime Glaze

Happy Springtime! Spring, and the asparagus has sprung. My Farmer's Market has all different kinds, ranging from the thin, grassy little whips to the big super-chubby spears. I love them all, but my preference is for the big fatties.

This recipe for Asparagus with Pomegranate Lime Glaze has just a few ingredients (recipe at link).

One, pomegranate molasses, might be a bit hard to find. A Middle Eastern market is the best bet. I visited our local family-owned supermarket, which happens to be owned by Middle Easterners and stocks lots of items commonly used there - fava beans, za'atar, sheep milk feta - all kinds of loveliness.

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Roasting asparagus might seem odd, but you MUST try it if you haven't already. It intensifies the flavor of the asparagus while preserving the sweetness. It is my favorite way to eat one of my favorite vegetables.

The glaze comes together quickly - pomegranate molasses, lime juice, heat. The hardest part is squeezing the limes, and a good citrus reamer makes short work of that.

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Then you just drizzle the glaze on the spears, sprinkle with good salt, and voila. A real treat. I don't think asparagus needs much flavoring, but this is a nice surprise.

You could use the glaze for many, many things. I even added some to sparkling water to make a little soda. It was good!

Suebob says thumbs up. Bon appetit.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cooking With Mollie #17: Very Green Rice

This recipe sounded like so much fun. Very! Green! Rice!

You can find the recipe on Cook the Book right here. They seemed to like it.

Me? Not so much.

My issues were:
1. It calls for brown basmati rice, which is a little dry to me. If I tried this again, I would use the deliciously plump little short grain brown rice.
2. I had to buy 4 different herbs at a cost of $6 - and I didn't have a lot I wanted to do with the remainders of giant bunches of mint, parsley, watercress and cilantro. I should have planned better.
3. The herbs gave the rice a weird, squeaky texture. Texture is really almost as important as taste, isn't it? And squeaky rice is not a good texture.

Here's the procedure, should you care to give it a swing - you wash a bunch of herbs and scallions:
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Pulverize them in the food processor:
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Saute them up with some garlic:
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And mix them with cooked rice:
Very green rice

Voila. Bon appetit. Try at your own risk. Hey, they can't all be winners.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cooking With Mollie #16: Fennel with Oranges and Beets

Fennel, Orange and Beet Salad

Oh what a beautiful salad! Mollie takes us into a world bursting with color and flavor with her recipe for Fennel, Orange and Beet Salad. (Recipe at link).

I first encountered fennel when my housemate John returned from a college year in Florence, studying architecture and getting fancy ideas about food. I was intrigued by the licorice flavor of fennel, which he served plain in slices with a little good olive oil and salt.

I have to warn you: if you don't like licorice flavors, and many people don't, give this recipe a skip.

It's easy: paper thin fennel slices, sliced beets and oranges in a simple raspberry vinaigrette.

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I thought it would be pretty to use pink and white beets (Chiogga variety) and the almost pink Cara Cara orange, which is quite sweet. This would also be gorgeous with purple beets and regular oranges.

Mollie says to section the oranges, which I believe is a fool's errand. As that viral video says, "Ain't nobody got time for that."

I simply peeled the oranges like I peel most fruit - cut off the top and bottom, then run my knife down the sides between the peel and fruit.

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I tried sectioning for about 5 minutes, then got bored and just cut the oranges in half, took out the pithy middle core, then sliced them into half-rounds. Quick and easy.

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All the orange sections I made before I grew tired of it.

It does need a couple hours to marinate, so leave time for that. The appearance is jazzed up by a last-minute sprinkle of fennel fronds. The tiny baby ones are especially nice for that.

Bon appetit!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cooking With Mollie #15: Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts

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Look, Ma, more Brussels Sprouts! You'd think I'd get sick of them. Nope. I never do. I really do eat them almost every day during the season, and I'm sorry to see the season go.

Yes, I'm a freak.

Fortunately Mollie Katzen has given me a bunch of new, delicious recipes from her book - "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without."

Once again, the recipe is online at Culinate.

The process is easy. Peel the ugly leaves off the outside of about a pound of sprouts, and cut them in half if they are big, in quarters if they are giant. But try not to buy giant sprouts - the bigger they get, the more tough and bitter they are.

Saute a little minced onion in a large frying pan (I used my faux-wok), then add the sprouts and saute for 5 minutes.
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Add 4 Tbsp water, put the lid on and saute until the sprouts start to get tender, another 5-8 minutes. Stab one with a knife and you can feel whether it has gotten softer (but still a little firm).

Meanwhile, mix up 1/4 cup of Dijon mustard and 2 Tbsp of real maple syrup (don't go for the fake stuff. Please, don't) and some pepper into a smooth emulsion.

I made a mistake at that point, thinking somehow that 2 Tbsp was the same as 1/4 cup. It's not - 1/4 cup is 4 Tbsp, so I accidentally doubled the maple syrup. It was still pretty tasty, though a little sweet. But I'm an American. We LOVE our sugar.

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Pour this over the sprouts and cook just til heated through.
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I used less than one pound of sprouts, so mine was kind of saucy. I think with 1 lb, it would make the perfect amount of sauce.

You can serve this hot, warm or cold. It will please any sprout lover. It is zippy and a little sweet. I'll never lose my love for roasted Brussels Sprouts, but this is a refreshing change of pace. It would be a nice side dish with ham, I'll bet.