Monday, February 21, 2011

Just Say No to Eating Animals Volume 16: Pasta con Ceci (Look Mom It’s Vegan!)

“You know, it’s not always about food and eating”.  

Soon I will see folks who care about food and eating.  Do we really need to talk anymore about who will be the next Mayor of Chicago?

In fact, I’m going to eat food.  Talk about the food.  And share a meal to take home with others.  Yep.  I participate in a number of food exchanges.  Tonight’s is LTH Forum’s Small Household Exchange.  It’s made for folks who want to eat home-cooked food, but may not have the ability to make a meal from scratch every night.  Plus it’s the perfect opportunity to bring back new meals that get you out of your own rut as to what to make.

I decided on a vegan dish.  It’s so flavorful and pretty easy that yes, you can do it on a weeknight and bonus, another dish you can make for the vegan in your life.

You can always pass a nice piece of parmesan for those who want to grate it over their plate.

Pasta con Ceci,  adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Michael White

1 lb. spaghetti
3/4 c. vegetable broth
2-15 oz.  cans of ceci, garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained0
28 oz can of tomatoes
1      med. onion, sliced
4      garlic, sliced
3 T.  EVOO
1 T.  crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Basil

Ceci Sauce

Set aside 2/3 c.of rinsed ceci.  Take the remaining beans and pulse with the vegetable broth until roughly chopped.

Heat oil in Dutch oven.  Add crushed red pepper flakes, onions, and garlic.  Sauté until lightly golden, about 7 minutes.

Add tomatoes to the pot.  Use a wooden spoon to rough chop the tomatoes, you don’t want soup.  Add the rough chopped ceci, and fresh basil. Simmer for 25 minutes.


Boil large pot of salted water.  Add spaghetti.  Cook for about 8 minutes.  The pasta should have a firmer bite that’s just on the other side of al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.  Drain spaghetti.

All together now

Add drained spaghetti and the reserved ceci to the sauce.  Mix to incorporate.  Serve.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just Say No to Eating Animals Monday: Volume 15, BHM & HVD!

Lots of times you get recipes for things that are aphrodisiacs.  But this little number is based on that classic riddle. 

What’s black, white, and red all over?

It’s not even remotely healthy.  When I offered it last night a baker friend was appalled because it had red food coloring.  Did I mention that we were at a dessert exchange?  Not exactly a bastion of good health when the primary offering is beautiful and delicious sugar.

The answer to the question is…

Newspaper Cookie

 16 oz. cake flour (yes it makes a difference if it’s weighed & yes, cake flour is specialty flour)
½ t baking powder
½ t. salt
8 oz. unsalted butter, softened
10 oz. sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
2 oz. red food coloring
1 T. cocoa

For the icings

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (not diet chocolate, not bittersweet), finely chopped
¼ c. light corn syrup (I know it does seem like the devil’s food, but what are you gonna do?)
16 oz powdered sugar
½ t vanilla extract

Cookie Baking Time
Pre-heat oven to 375.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper (trust me far less mess).

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together.

Make a paste by mixing the cocoa with 1 oz. of the food coloring.  Set aside.
Beat butter, with a mixer, until creamy (it’s already soft so this should be a whiz).  Stir in sugar, mixing until the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Scrape down bowl, including the bottom.  Add 1 oz of food coloring and the cocoa paste.  Alternate adding flour and buttermilk until just mixed.

Don’t worry; this will have a texture far more akin to cake batter versus cookie batter.

Use a ¼ c. round dry measure, put six mounds of dough two inches a part on each baking sheet.  Moisten your fingers, you can wear a thin food service glove if you like, and press each cookie into a big disk, apx. 2 ½ inches wide.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Then rotate the sheets with the front of the sheet going to the back and the top sheet switched with the bottom sheet (get it, even distribution).  Bake for another 8 minutes.  Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.  Tip:  I cleared the dining room table, spread parchment across the table and used an oven rack (who has that many wire racks?) to cook the cookies.

Cooking the Icings

 Put bowl of chopped chocolate over a simmering pot to melt.  Keep a bit of low heat on this; otherwise it’s going to be a hot mess.  At the same time (yep, use 1 of your other burners) boil the water with the corn syrup in a different sauce pan.  Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Scoop ¾ c. of vanilla icing into the bowl of melted chocolate & whisk it until smooth.  Both of these icings should be thinner than frosting, but thicker than a glaze.  That’s the elusive texture you are striving for.

Painting the Masterpieces

Have the vanilla icing close to hand and using a spoon; ladle a couple of tablespoons of the icing onto half of the cookie.  Tilt the cookie and using a small offset spatula scrape off the excess icing from the edge of the cookie.  Work fast!  Place the vanilla iced cookies on the wire rack and let them rest for 20 minutes so that the icing can harden.
Now take your thin hot chocolate icing and ladle a couple of tablespoons of chocolate icing onto the other half of the cookie.  Again, you are going to tilt the cookie and run the spatula around the edges to remove the excess icing.

Walk away from these beauties for at least two hours so that the icings can set.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Just Say No to Eating Animals Monday: Volume 14 Snowpocalypse Be Damned, a Taste of Summer

Last week it fell apart.  I’d just returned from my brief sojourn to the land of the sun.  It should have held me through the rest of winter, but no we had to have Snowpocalypse.  20+ inches of snow.  The sidewalks are still out of commission.

So I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate a snowcation than casting about for a true breath of summer meal.

We had salad.  Not just any old salad, a salad that says the kiss of summer is near. 

Watermelon and Feta Salad adapted from Mark Bittman

3lbs      Sweet Watermelon, chopped
1 c.      Sunflower Sprouts, minced
½ c.     Feta (I used the marinated kind)

¼ c.     Champagne Vinegar
1T.       Dijon Mustard
2 t.       Sugar
3 T.      Vegetable Oil (I used grapeseed)

Combine watermelon, sunflower sprouts, and feta in a bowl.

In a jar add Champagne Vinegar, mustard, sugar, & oil.  Shake vigorously to blend.

Pour Vinaigrette over salad, toss and serve.

How’s that for getting in more fruits and vegetables?