Category Archives: vegetarian

La Boca Center for Sustainability CSA: Week 4

I blogged about our tour of La the La Boca Center for Sustainability a few months back, and now we’ve finally started getting our weekly deliveries.

It’s mostly greens right now, but we’ve been told it will get better and better as the season continues. Pictures of this weeks food is below.

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Beer Cheese Soup

Being vegan for about 5 years, its only been recently that I’ve come to experience the awesomeness of beer cheese soup.

The first time I had some was at Hamilton’s Tavern a few months ago, my friends were raving about it, but I was still a little skittish about my lack of cheese for so long I didn’t appreciate it for what it was. I tried it again later and enjoyed it. Then we went to Stone World Bistro and Gardens one night and I had their Garlic Cheddar & Stone Ruination IPA Soup. Garlic and good beer are two of my favorite foods, and the Stone Ruination IPA is a good beer, so this soup was perfect. With extra sharp white cheddar it was good and flavorful and bitter and tasty.

Last night I set out to make my own Beer Cheese Soup with some lackluster results. So I’m turning to you dear readers to leave a comment below telling me how to spice up this soup and make it something to be proud of.

I started by sauteing half a white onion and about five cloves of garlic in butter, then adding two diced jalapenos. After they were cooked a bit I added about a pint of Stone IPA and about the same amount of vegetable broth. I let this cook for about 20 minutes and then threw it in the food processor to make it smooth.

Back on the stove I added about a cup of low-fat milk and 8oz of shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese. To thicken it up a bit I slowly added some flour while stirring. Then some salt and pepper.

I think I served it too hot and as it cooled down it just didn’t have the right taste to it, but I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. It had plenty of cheese and beer in it, but just lacked that delcious flavor of the soups I’ve had a restaurants.

Some things I’m thinking of trying next time:

  • No jalapenos, they made it spicy but overpowered it I think
  • Roasted garlic and more garlic
  • Some spices, maybe paprika
  • Less vegetable broth
  • Half and half or cream instead of milk
  • Less flour
  • A higher quality cheese, maybe more cheese

If anyone out there has any experience with homemade Beer Cheese Soup or any ideas on how to make it let me know.

A Rainy Weekend

The weekend was rainy and mellow.

We watched a handful of movies; The Triplets of Belleville and Paris, je t’aime. I fell asleep watching No Country for Old Men and I half watched The Darjeeling Limited.

I finally finished The English Major by Jim Harrison, I really enjoyed it but it took me far too long to read.

While grocery shopping I found this:

Havana Club

Havana Club

I couldn’t resist. Even though the weather wasn’t right for it, I made a Lime Daquiri (rumored to be Hemingway’s favorite drink) as soon as I got home.

At the store we also got some tomatillo’s so I decided to make some salsa. It was surprisingly easy to make delicious fresh tasting salsa. With all this good salsa we needed something to eat it with, so I made a giant plate of nacho’s (which proved to be too much food).

Nachos

Nachos

Mediterranean Appetizers

After buying 4 liters of delicious olive oil in the Valle de Guadalupe last weekend, I figured it was time to start making some food that required good olive oil. So last night I made four small dishes all centered around olive oil (and garlic). I love garlic, when I cook I tell myself “the more garlic the better.” This means my cooking isn’t for everyone (although I try to tone it down at times). A lot of people hate chopping garlic, some even resort to buying minced garlic in a jar. I’m not one of those people. I don’t even use a garlic press, I just really love chopping garlic. Since moving I haven’t had a really good garlic chopping knife, I’ve been getting by with a small knife, that does the job, until recently. Kinsee’s parents recently came back from Alaska and brought her a few things, including this “knife”:

Alaskan Knife

Alaskan Knife

I can’t remember what it’s called. And I think the label said something about cutting caribou meat with it, but seeing as how we’re both vegetarians, I guess it won’t see it’s full potential with us. However it makes for a great garlic mincing utensil. It’s comfortable in your hand and you can just roll it back and forth, chopping as you go.

As for the food I made… I guess they could all be described as appetizers, or at least side dishes. I recently got a food processor and I’ve been wanted to make both hummus and pesto with it, so instead of deciding on one or the other, I made both.

For the hummus I chose to make Kalamata Olive Hummus and with the food processor it was incredibly simple.

  • 1 can cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 1 big spoonful of tahini
  • a couple cloves of minced garlic
  • a few generous dashes of cayenne pepper
  • about a 1/4 or 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • half a cup or so of kalamata olives
  • the juice of one lime
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in the food processor and turn it on. If it looks too chunky just add a little bit of water as it’s going and it’ll get smoother. Usually it’s made with lemon, but all I had was a lime which worked just as well. I would recommend rinsing the olives pretty well and trying to avoid getting much of their juice in there. The hummus is a bit on the vinegary side because I used some of the olive juice instead of water to make it creamier. But it turned out great and is a lot cheaper than buying prepared hummus at the store.

Pesto was the other thing I had really been wanting a food processor to make. It’s surprisingly simple, but this didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, and I’m not sure what I did wrong — however it could have been the way I was eating it… I just put some on toast, rather than using it as a sauce for pasta. Since I have plenty left we’ll see how well it does on some noodles. I was surprised at how good fresh parmesan cheese is, I guess I’m used to the powdered Kraft stuff.

  • basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • a handful of raw pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pulse the basil and pine nuts in the food processor a few times. Add the garlic and pulse again. With a rubber spatula clean the sides of the bowl and slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is on. Clean the sides again and then add the grated cheese. Pulse a few more times. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The thing I didn’t like about this was that it was sort of mushy, all the ingredients blended together. But on pasta it might be better than spread on toast.

Bruschetta is one of my favorite toppings for toast and so easy to make.

  • 6-8 basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 tomatoes
  • a splash of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh bread
  • another clove of garlic

Chop the basil by hand, then add the minced garlic. Dice the tomatoes and add to the mix. Pour in a splash of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Mix it all around. Toast the dry bread on a hot griddle for a few minutes. While the bread is hot rub the hot side of the bread with the whole clove of garlic and drizzle just a bit of olive oil on each slice of bread. Top with the tomato mixture and it’s ready to serve.

Last was White Asparagus with Olive Oil and Garlic. I had never heard of white asparagus before seeing it at the super market a few weeks ago. Just like the green stuff next to it, both were grown in Peru and both were the same price. I much prefer to grill asparagus, but this way works when there’s no grill around. And it was the first thing I was wondering when I saw it, yes, white asparagus also makes me pee smell funny.

  • white asparagus, rinsed with the bottoms cut off
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • olive oil for sauteing

Heat the oil in a pan to a lower medium heat and then add the asparagus, after a few minutes add the minced garlic. Saute until the asparagus is tender and the garlic is crispy but not burnt. I like to eat the crispy garlic as well. I was disappointed with the flavor of the white asparagus. It seemed to be more bland and dull than the regular green stuff.

I sampled everything and had a plate of appetizers for dinner. To top it all off, earlier at the store I had bought a bottle of Le Freak from Green Flash Brewing Company. The label said it was a combination San Diego Imperial Pale Ale and Belgian Trippel. The Trippel was definitely the dominant taste in the beer, and it was delicious. Below are pictures of the beer and the olive oil that started it all.

Green Flash Brewing Company Le Freak

Green Flash Brewing Company Le Freak

L.A. Cetto Olive Oil

L.A. Cetto Olive Oil

Western Jalapeno Mac n Cheese with Latkes

This meal started a few weeks ago while grocery shopping. Kinsee asked me to grab some pasta as we were walking past it. Faced with the plethora of ordinary pasta, noddles like spaghetti, farfalla and macaroni, how could I not pick Figuras del Oeste? Adorned with smiling cowboy, a cactus and other images from the wild west, I knew this was the pasta for us.

Figuras del Oeste

Figuras del Oeste

Well, when we got to the checkout line and were unloading the cart, it was obvious Kinsee wasn’t as much of fan of the little boots, cowboy hats and cactus shaped pasta as I was. I knew I’d need to make something really good out of the cowboys to win her over.

I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of macaroni and cheese. Well, I should say I’m not a fan at all of Kraft Dinner, the boxed, powdered cheese-like-stuff that passes for macaroni and cheese far too often. The few times I’ve had home made mac n cheese I’ve loved it. So I thought I’d give it a try, but wanted to spice it up a bit. It was easy to make and turned out great (unfortunately the pictures didn’t. My camera’s batteries were dead so I had to use my cell phone).

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

minced Jalapenos to taste

half and onion, minced

a few cloves of garlic, minced

black pepper to taste

a sprinkle of cayenne pepper

1/3 cup flour

2 cups milk

200g Western shaped pasta

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Oaxaca cheese

  • Start by melting the butter in a pan. Then saute the onion, garlic and jalapenos for a few minutes.
  • Stir in flour and both peppers, cook for a minute or two.
  • Slowly add milk, mixing as you pour. Simmer while the pasta is cooking, stirring occasionally.
  • Cook the pasta.
  • Add a good amount of cheese to the milk mix. Stir until the cheese is melted.
  • Put the cooked pasta in a casserole dish, mix in the cheese sauce. Top with some shredded cheddar and jalapeno slices.
  • Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, until the cheese on top is slightly crispy.

I think the last time I had Mac n Cheese was from City Deli and we had latkes as well, they went well together so I decided to make those as well.

Ingredients:

One large Russet potato

One medium onion

One egg

Salt and pepper

Oil for frying

  • Clean the potato well, I like the skin so I left it on. Using a cheese grater shred the potato.
  • Mince the onion.
  • Combine the two and place in a cheesecloth. Press out as much of the water as possible. You can add the mixture to a colander and press even more water out. It’s important to get out as much water as possible.
  • Beat the egg in a bowl, add some salt and pepper.
  • Combine the egg with the potato and onion, mix well.
  • Heat oil in a deep pan, get it really hot.
  • Using a spoon, put a ball of the potato mixture in the oil, flatten with a metal spatula. Cook for about 2 minutes then turn over. Place on a paper towel to soak up some oil when cooked.
Deep frying latkes

Deep frying latkes

This made about four medium sized latkes. Pressing the liquid out is really important. First, so it doesn’t explode when it hits the hot oil, but also so the latkes hold together better and don’t break apart. As far as the oil goes, you want it to be hot, cooking them in oil that isn’t hot enough will result in greasy latkes (more so than you want, because just look at em, they’re going to be greasy no matter what — thats what makes them so good).

I’m told it’s traditional to serve latkes with applesauce and sour cream. We didn’t have any sour cream but I did get some apple sauce. I seriously considered making homemade apple sauce, it doesn’t seem hard, but it was late so I opted for the stuff in the jar. I’m gonna have to get better at taking pictures of these meals. But her it is.

Western Jalapeno Mac n Cheese with Latkes

Western Jalapeno Mac n Cheese with Latkes

Two dinners!

This was one of those “we haven’t gone grocery shopping in two weeks, lets use everything salvageable left in the fridge” type dinners. Which turned out pretty well.

I wish I would have taken a picture of two of the vegetables before I cut them up and cooked them. One was a squash like I’d never seen before (calabacito). The other I still have no idea what it was. It tasted “fresh but a little dirty” both raw and cooked, but not bad at all.

I added some chipotle peppers in sauce to some refried black beans. I can’t imagine how I used to eat beans without adding any spices to them, it seems so bland to me now. Until recently I had never use a rice cooker, which usually meant I never had rice. It’s so easy now that I want to have brown rice with every meal!

I can’t make a proper burrito to save my life, I get far too over zealous and put too many things inside the tortilla, and then can’t fold it up. So I’ve decided to just pile stuff on top of the tortilla. When you’re all done eating there’s a tasty tortilla that has been soaking up the flavors of all the good food waiting for you.

So I sauteed some onions and garlic, then cubed the mystery vegetable. It was light green, sort of pair shaped with a fold in the bottom. I added the calabacito and let all of it cook for a while with a lid on to soften up the hard vegetables. When they were getting closer to being ready I added some nopales and let those cook. When everything was almost done I added some soyrizo (vegetarian chorizo) which is basically cooked already, it just needs to heat up. We topped it off with some shredded pepper jack cheese, chopped raw tomatoes and some salsa.

Next up is a quick and easy (but delicious) meal Kinsee whipped up.

I realized I don’t eat nearly enough salads. They’re so quick and easy to make, good for ya and pretty cheap. This one was lettuce and delicious cherry tomatoes with a ginger salad dressing.

We found some spinach and ricotta cheese ravioli, but had no sauce. The ravioli was done about 3 minutes after the water boiled. We added a little butter, some fresh black pepper and shredded chimay cheese which was delicious. This “sauce” turned out to be a wonderful compliment to the ravioli, anything else would have overwhelmed it and the flavor would have been lost.

More food…

Another good meal

Another good meal

Last night saw the creation of another good dinner, I don’t think this picture does it justice.

Blue Cheese Quesadillas with Rosemary Parmesan Sweet Potato Fries and PB Style Black Beans.

I was vegan for about five years. I only ate dairy a handful of times, and only missed cheese on a few occasions when I wanted a good slice of pizza. But after I started eating cheese I came across blue cheese and fell in love. I’ve been making blue cheese quesadillas a lot lately as quick meals, but decided to finally throw it all together.

The quesadillas were the easiest part. Crumble blue cheese, put into a tortilla — I chose flour for these, but corn works equally as well, and gives it a bit different taste — fold and heat until the cheese is melted. Some people like to mix in some other cheese, I’ve seen recipes with Mozzarella mixed in to make it a bit more mild. But I love the taste of blue cheese so I don’t do that.

PB Black Beans are a way of preparing black beans my old housemate showed me. To add a little flavor to the beans (and make them compliment this meal a little better) I added a couple whole cloves of garlic and a bit of maple syrup. Let the beans slowly simmer on the stove for the flavors to get absorbed.

The Rosemary Parmesan Sweet Potato Fries turned out surprisingly well for my first time making them. I peeled the sweet potatoes and cut them into fry-sized chunks. I poured olive oil over them and then parmesan cheese, rosemary and salt. Mixed them all together and put them in the oven. It was about 350F, I think it should have been a bit hotter, maybe 400F to crisp them better. Cook them for about 30 minutes, stirring about halfway through. Make sure to use a big enough pan so the fries aren’t on top of each other or else they won’t brown as well. Next time I make them I think I’ll leave out the parmesan, you couldn’t really taste it, the rosemary was good enough on its own.

I paired mine with a Maker’s and water, while my dining companion chose a fine red wine.