Archive for October, 2010

Mushroom’s Cream Soup


I don’t care what any of you godless atheists say; good soup is proof that there are powers bigger than–and beyond the understanding of–us humans. Refute me; I dare you. In the meantime, though, get mushroom-slapped in the mouth with this recipe.

Ingredients:

1lb mushrooms, sliced

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

4-cups vegetable stock, heated

1-cup fat free cream

1-2 tbs. Veggie Grated Topping (more on this at the bottom of the page)

1/4-cup  butter or butter substitute

2 tbs. all-purpose flour

2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp. ground clove

2 tsp. cayenne pepper

2-3 tsp. dried marjoram

Salt and pepper, to taste (probably significantly more of the latter)

The following group of steps involves making a rue, albeit with a couple steps between the rudimentary ‘melt fat, add flour’. Don’t worry–this rue isn’t complicated; it just has some added steps. A rue is a great way to thicken up things like soups and cheese sauces (you’ll see it again when I do my–so far–all-time favorite recipe: my yet-cleverly-named mac & cheese. It’s more or less equal portions of fat and flour, although I kind eyeball it when I’m doing it and adjust the butter and flour as necessary. If you want a more detailed account of how to make a rue, check out this video and description over at Mom on Wheels. Just a little aside, though: I do not use the initial oil before I add the butter; I just jump right into it. Oh, and heat up the liquid (veggie stock, here) before you add it; this will help the butter and flour de-clump faster. The liquid shouldn’t boil, but warm or steaming is good.

Ok, enough with that–I’m hungry. I recommend using a large, high-walled frying pan for this (think a large sauce pan) to allow for good heat distribution (or, if you have it, a medium sized pot, which, unfortunately, I don’t have.). Melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, and thyme, stirring and cooking for a minute or two, until the garlic is translucent and just beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms, ground clove, marjoram, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft and brown. Finally, add the flour and stir.

Lower the heat a bit and add the vegetable sock, stirring vigorously. Try to get out as many clumps as you can, but don’t worry about making it perfect–the smaller ones should cook out. (Just try to make sure there are no clumps in your finished product, since no one likes flour balls with a squishy exterior.) Up the heat and bring the thing to a boil. During this time–when it’s coming to a boil–is when you want to work out the remaining clumps. Now reduce the heat to low and let the bad boy simmer for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally.

Whisk the cream and Veggie Grated Topping into the soup. Up the heat to medium-low and make sure to not let the soup boil. Trust me, you don’t want it to burn; it will taste horrible and cleaning the pan/pot will suck. A lot. Just get it hot enough to serve. If you want to make it thicker, feel free to whisk in some low fat sour cream or (my always popular) fat free mozzarella cheese. Just do so a little at a time so you don’t end up with a paste.

Feel free to garnish with some additional Veggie Grated Topping, full sprigs of thyme, or chives. The soup also goes great with some whole wheat or grain artisanal bread. In fact, I have a feeling this is going to be a huge cornerstone of my Thanksgiving dinner (something I’m still trying to figure out as a veg virgin). Also, mix it up with the mushrooms a bit. I only used simple white mushrooms and I’m allergic to portobellos, but this soup should be great with some wild, porcini, and/ or cremini cremini mushrooms. Go: experiment. Just don’t you even think of feeding me a portobello, ass.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 5. Fine, so between the Baked Chili Rellenos and this soup I’ve kind of been cheating with the Veg Friendly thing because I’m just making standard (although healthified) recipes. Bite my bird. This soup is a great way to quench a craving for cold weather comfort food, especially with a big hunk of bread. If anything, I hope some of these recipes can prove to any non-vegs that a transition to vegetarianism–or almost vegetarianism–is wholly possible without being a huge pain in the ass. So for all of you haters looking for a new way to incorporate seitan: wait and enjoy this soup. Ass.

As for the Veggie Grated Topping: it may sound gross, but it tastes exactly like Parmesan cheese. Plus, remember my Parmesan retraction at the bottom of my Silken Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo post? Retraction retracted, kind of. Eat this stuff and you’ll never buy–or miss–animal stomach Parmesan again. You’re welcome.

How to Roast Peppers


It’s hard to beat the flavor of roasted peppers. They add a great dimension to salads, sandwiches, chili, breakfast cereals, etc. Plus, adding the words ‘Roasted Pepper’ to any recipe makes it sound like it has a higher skill level. Just a heads-up, though: this flavor can be overwhelming. While tooling around with my Baller-Ass Chili, I used some roasted poblano peppers and it was all I could taste. So, if you want to use roasted peppers, make sure to build the dish around this ingredient or use a very small amount.

The best part about roasted peppers: easy as hell to make. So easy, there’s no need to EVER buy them in a jar. If you own a grill, oven, or gas stove, you can save some money (and if you don’t own these things, what the hell are you doing on my blog?). My favorite method is the gas stove, but the others work just as well—albeit a little slower.

First of all, rub the pepper with oil

Second:

For a grill: Place over medium-high to high heat. Rotate and char on all sides.

For an oven: Place under the broiler on high as close to the heating unit as you can get while still avoiding direct contact. Rotate and char on all sides.

For a gas stove: Place directly over a high flame. Rotate and char on all sides.

It’s important to not let the pepper sit on the heat too long after it blackens; you just want to char the skin, not cook the pepper all the way through.

Once all sides are blackened, place the pepper into a container and cover. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Make sure to get cover the pepper as quickly as possible—you want the heat to steam it so the skin can peel right off. When the time is up, just use your hands and peel the skin. I don’t recommend leaving it on—it tastes like straight burn, not too good. You can go over to my Baked Chili Rellenos recipe to see these roasted poblanos put into action.

Welcome to flavor country.

Baked Chile Rellenos


Fried food is awesome. Cheesy food is awesome. Spicy food is awesome. Unfortunately, two of the three can he brutal to your health when consumed too often (whereas the third can just be every other kind of brutal). Hence my dilemma with chile rellenos: friggin’ awesome, but friggin’ brutal. Below is a baked version that manages to keep the crispiness, thanks to panko flakes, and cheesiness, thanks to sour cream and fat free cheese.

Here are the ingredients:

6 poblano peppers, as dark and firm as you can find (TWSS)

1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1/2-cup sour cream

1-cup fat free cheddar cheese

1-cup panko breadcrumbs (possibly more, if needed)

1 pinch each salt, pepper, Adobo light seasoning

1 egg

1/2-cup skim milk

Makes 3-6 servings.

Roast the peppers. (I have a section on roasting peppers on another page.) When the peppers are done roasting and the skin is removed, cut a 2-3 inch slit in each—enough to get some stuffing in there. Here’s a really important step: extract as much of the veins and seeds as you can; this is where all of the heat is. I can handle spicy stuff so I only took out about 2/3 of the seeds. I was sweating by the end of my meal and looking for something to cool my mouth off. Any spicier and I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish my meal. So, if you don’t like spicy, be really anal about getting the innards out or use another kind of pepper.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the diced onions. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, and Adobo light to add some flavor and help the sweating process. Heat the onions until they are soft and translucent. When they’re finished, take them off the heat and allow them to cool. When they’re at room temperature mix the onions, sour cream, and cheddar cheese in a bowl to make the filling. You want a pretty chunky mix, so use as much or as little sour cream as you think necessary (or tasty). All of these steps should be able to happen while the peppers are roasting.

Once the roasted peppers are gutted, gently stuff them with the filling. Seriously, be gentle—the peppers are pretty fragile and any extra tearing can make the whole process really obnoxious. Once they’re all stuffed, use toothpicks to close up the seams. Normally I would recommend a suture type closure, but since the peppers are so slippery and fragile I had to insert the toothpicks across the seam perpendicular to the pepper.

Now whisk the egg and milk in a large bowl. Spread the breadcrumbs on a plate. Cover the peppers in the egg wash and cover them with the panko. Place them in a baking sheet and bake for 15 – 20mins, or until the breadcrumbs are golden.

I served mine with some Goya sofrito lightly spread on top. Of course, you can include anything: limes, salsa rojo, salsa verde, chunky guacamole, etc. In fact, I have a mind to spoon-over some of my Baller-Ass Chili the next time I eat these. I’d even recommend some seasoned rice under the whole mess.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 5. This recipe is basically a healthified version of something any omnivore would be happy ordering at a restaurant or eating at a bar. It’s not even fair to have this rating in this case. But then again, omnivores can eat anything vegs eat, not vice versa. If anything, I should give a Non-Healthy Friendly Factor, which would probably be 3 or 3.5. Imitating fried food can be difficult, and anyone craving it probably will have a hard time settling for something less. But for those of us willing to compromise just a bit, this recipe is exactly what belongs on your plate.

Baller-Ass Chili


The finished product, which tastes better than it looks.

So it’s starting to get colder—I have the hood up on my hoodie and high basketball socks on right now—and it’s time to eat some chili. Think about it: it’s a mix of awesome nutrition, flavor, and ease—a trifecta for this veg virgin. And the meal is just as satisfying without meat, especially when you add mushrooms. I use normal white button mushrooms, but only because I’m allergic to portobellos, which I imagine would be awesome in here. Just make sure to have at least an hour once you throw all of the ingredients into the pot; I’d hate to be the reason your kitchen burns down because you weren’t minding the stove. Plus, burned kitchen almost always means burned chili.

Ingredients:

3 – 15.5oz. cans of Nature’s Promise beans (I like black, light kidney, and dark kidney)*

1 – 14.5oz. can of stewed tomatoes*

1 – 15.25oz. can of whole kernel corn*

1 box mushrooms, sliced

3 peppers, red and orange, diced (about 1/2” to 1”)

1 jalapeño pepper, diced

1 tbs. cilantro

1 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tbs. cayenne pepper

1-2 tbs. garlic salt

1 tbs. cumin

1 tsp. paprika

1 tbs. black pepper

Makes 4-6 servings.

*A quick note about the canned goods: I always look for “low sodium” and “no salt added” varieties because, well, canned stuff is a salt bomb. I hear you can drain and rinse the canned stuff to drastically reduce sodium content, but for chili I keep the liquid (it gives flavor and acts as a thickener) and, for stuff like tomatoes, rinsing can over saturate the food. So, in short, go for low sodium options. I like Nature’s Promise (only at Giant food stores) for the beans. Most major brands have low sodium options. Buy them.

Now for the steps, which couldn’t be easier. Cover the bottom of a large pot with oil and heat it over medium-high heat. I recommend putting a piece of a pepper at the bottom and waiting for it to sizzle, which means the oil is ready. When that sizzle happens, add the peppers, mushrooms, and about 1/4 to 1/3 of each of all of the spices. Cover and stir until the peppers are somewhat soft and the mushrooms are brown. Make sure to get the seasonings around as much as you can.

Once all that is softened, everyone else into the pool: add the beans, tomatoes, corn, and the remainder of the spices. Stir it all up and jack the heat up to high until it all boils, then drop the heat to a simmer or low (you want somewhere at or below a slow, rolling boil with occasional bubbling) and leave uncovered. Let the whole thing sit over the low hear, stirring every 10 minutes or so, for at least an hour—more if you have the time. You want the liquid to reduce and flavors to concentrate, so the process takes time—but you’re only stirring every 10 minutes, so don’t complain.

To be honest, the chili comes out somewhat soupy, so feel free to simmer it longer or drain the corn before you add it (the less liquid means more stirring, so all ingredients are submerged for equal amounts of time). I say drain the corn because it’s a stronger flavor than the tomatoes and the thick liquid from the beans helps to thicken up the chili—you know, the whole point of draining the corn in the first place. Also, feel free to add some brown rice or, the real winner, place Jiffy cornbread at the bottom of the bowl. Hell, do the cornbread even if the chili comes out like paste because it’s awesome (I just didn’t have time to do it this time around). Oh, and feel free to add sour cream (disgusting, you pervert) and/ or fat-free or low-fat cheddar cheese right after you spoon it into your bowl for a creamy and gooey treat (which is also, incidentally, what she said). My next chili recipe will probably have a guacamole add-on option (not what she said, unless she cooks).

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 3.5. OK, so I know I hyped this chili because of the mushrooms took place of the meat but, truth be told, some omnivores are unable to think “chili” and not mean ‘meat’—perfectly understandable, considering chili was originally all-meat and the purest varieties have big pieces of cubed beef. Nonetheless, this veg option is great as a hearty side or an occasional dinner (especially with cheap and easy Jiffy cornbread!) when dealing with meat eaters.