Monday, November 21, 2011

Garlic and Sea Salt has moved!

To all of my readers, I have decided to combine my two blogs so Garlic and Sea Salt will now be a part of my Fragrant Vanilla Cake and all of my savory posts and recipes will be a part of that page.  I will keep this page here so that the past recipes will be available, but visit my blog, Fragrant Vanilla Cake for future ones!  Here is the link:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Roasted Squash and Carmelized Onion Soup Au Gratin

We all have one of "those" days once in a while.  You know, the character building type where you get home and ask..."Where is my big glass of wine and comfort food?"  I had one yesterday.  We were short at work, I wasn't feeling the best due to a cold, and I felt like I was wishing there were 3 Amys to do my job as it seemed like there was not enough time to get everything done.  Alright, so maybe it wasn't so least my coworker's and I had time to laugh in between the chaos and joke about the glass of wine we would all be needing after work!  I was tired when I got home, but was in a good mood at least despite the character building day at work.  As I walked in the door I was feeling a bit chilled due to the cool weather that has found its way to Minnesota this week, and so I decided I needed a big bowl of something comforting and delicious for dinner.  Afterall, I needed something to go with my wine. My favorite soup came to mind, roasted squash and caramelized onion soup au gratin.  Who doesn't love a soup topped off with toasted bread and bubbly cheese? 

I hadn't made it in a while, and it was about time!  So I poured myself some wine and got to work.  Little did I know that a bit of the sort of work day I had would follow me I was trying to unclog the cooking spray so I could roast my squash to go in the soup I totally nailed myself in the face.  So I admit, it was rather funny, and at least I didn't get my eyes...but really?  I hadn't even drank but a few sips of wine either!  Luckilly the rest of the soup making went smoothly and my kitchen was starting to smell of sweet onions and herbs from the pot simmering on the stove.  By the time I had ladled the soup into a bowl, topped it off with toasted bread and cheese and broiled it to perfection I was about drooling.  It was just as amazing as it always is.  Sweet squash and caramelly onions, fragrant herbs, and crusty bread with ooey gooey cheese...pure deliciousness!  I can't believe I haven't shared this one on my blog yet, but it is amazing, and sure to make you forget anything unpleasant that happened earlier in the day.  What Wednesday?  Did that really happen?  Well, if you would like to enjoy some for yourself, here is the recipe!

Roasted Squash and Carmelized Onion Soup Au Gratinserves 4

This is the perfect fall soup, great for warming you up on a dreary fall or winter day! This is my absolute favorite soup recipe.

1 large kabocha or buttercup squash, cut in half from top to bottom, and seeded
non-stick spray
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium red onions, halved and sliced thinly
6 garlic cloves, pressed
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 cup white wine (of the quality that you would drink)
4 cups veggie stock
1 baguette, cut into 1 inch thick slices (there should be 12), and toasted
6 oz gruyere cheese, grated
6 oz mozzarella cheese, grated

Heat the oven to 475, and line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with non-stick spray, and place squash cut side down on the sheet. Roast for about 40 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then remove skin, and cut flesh into large cubes, and set aside. In a large dutch oven or pan, heat the oil, over medium heat and add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally until starting to turn golden and carmelizing, about 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and herbs, as well as salt and pepper, and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Add wine, and scrape up any brown bits or carmelization on the bottom of the pan. Add the stock and squash cubes and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and let cook for at least 20 minutes until squash is falling apart. Add more salt if needed. Turn the oven on to broil. Ladel the squash into 4 large shallow bowls, and top each with 3 pieces of toasted baguette, and the gruyere and mozzarella cheeses. Place under the broiler, and broil until the cheese is brown and bubbly, about 3 minutes more or less depending on the oven. Let cool a few minutes, then serve!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Melange of Roasted Autumn Veggies with Tempeh Bacon

No use crying over spilt milk...or burnt carrots.  Yesterday I had sliced 25 lbs of carrots for a salad at work, and thrown them in the oven to roast thinking they were going to come out all delicious and toasty, only to have my timer fail on me and smell burnt carrots about 45 minutes later.  Oh the joys of relying on technology...but that is what happens when you are multitasking and can't keep an eye on the oven yourself!  But you know what?  I didn't get upset, in fact I found it kind of funny the fact that I went through all that work and would have to do it again.  Sometimes I wonder with the amount of chopping I do with my right arm why it isn't twice the size of my left.  I sliced more carrots, placed them in the oven and this time they emerged perfectly roasted.  Success!  I am not one to give up...especially in the kitchen.  When I got home I did not simply heat up some soup I had in the freezer for dinner, instead I decided that I would like some roasted veggies!  How odd, after my carrot burning experience, but that is what I craved.  I had all sorts of delicious things to roast that I knew would make a delicious melange of sorts. 

Some chanterelles and lobster mushrooms I was expecially excited to enjoy along with brussels sprouts, carrots (yes I didn't hate them), red peppers, purple potatoes, and rutabagas.  I threw in some onions as well and roasted them all to deliciousness.  I needed some protein, so some tempeh bacon was added as well, and to give it all a wonderful flavor a balsamic thyme vinaigrette with a touch of truffle oil.  It was nice and hearty, which was nice for a cool night.  Never mind the burnt carrots, when I have a plate of good food in front of me I don't remember the negatives of the day.  Here is the recipe for my roasted veggies if you would like to try it.  It is simple to prepare, but so good!

Melange of Roasted Autumn Veggies with Tempeh Bacon
Serves 2

olive oil
2 cups purple potatoes (or other small potatoes), halved if bigger
2 cups brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
3 cups mixed mushrooms, cut into bite sized pieces if large
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup sliced rutabaga
2 large carrots, sliced
1 8 oz pkg tempeh bacon

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp truffle oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dried thyme
2 cloves of garlic, minced
sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Since the veggies take different times to roast, they need to be dine separately.  Toss the potatoes and brussels sprouts with olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet.  Do the same with the mushrooms, bell pepper and onion on another sheet. Then the carrots and rutabagas on another.  Place the sheets in the oven and roast for about 15-20 minutes until the veggies are tender and browned at edges (may take longer for potatoes) then remove from the oven and place in a large bowl.  Meanwhile, Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a non-stick pan and cook tempeh bacon until crisp on both sides, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove from pan and when cool enough to handle, cut into small pieces.  Place in a bowl, along with roasted veggies.  Whisk together olive oil and truffle oil, balsamic, garlic, thyme and sea salt and pepper to taste, then toss it with the veggies and serve!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sweet and Sour Vegan Meatballs

When I was little and I would be begging for something I couldn't have, my Dad would sing me the song "You Can't Always Get What You Want", by the Rolling Stones.  It would irritate the crap out of me and I just hated hearing that song.  I am sure I heard the song hundreds of times played or sung over the years.  The funny thing is though, now as an adult, I appriciate it.  It is true, as the lyrics go..."you can't always get what you want...but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."  Life is misreable for anyone who doesn't believe this.  If I didn't I would have been really upset last night when I went to make Vegan Italian meatballs but didn't have any canned tomatoes or pasta on hand.  Instead of getting upset, I decided that it was not meant to be an Italian night, but instead and Asian night for dinner. 

I had the ingredients for Asian flavored meatballs, so I made Sweet and Sour Vegan Meatballs with sauteed veggies.  And you know what?  They were amazing...and I happened to have some plum saki in my fridge to serve them with!  Lesson learned, not getting what I wanted can lead to creativity and a delicious new recipe.  Here it is if you wish to try it! 

Sweet and Sour Vegan Meatballs
Serves 4

1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 cup chopped red onion
3 cups chopped crimini mushrooms
1 Tbsp fresh ginger
1 cup shredded carrots
1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts
2 cups dried whole wheat bread crumbs, or as needed
2 Tbsp miso
2 Tbsp tamari
2 tsp sea salt
red pepper flakes
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
red pepper flakes
1 1/4 cups apple cider
1/4 cup tamari
2 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp peanut oil
3 cups brussels sprouts, halved
2 large carrots, halved and sliced
2 cups mushroom, sliced

toasted sesame seeds
rice to serve

Preheat the oven to 475.  To make meatballs, heat 1 Tbsp peanut oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, ginger, and carrots, and saute until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms and saute until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and saute another minute until fragrant, then remove from heat.  Place mixture in a food processor along with walnuts, breadcrumbs, miso, tamari, sea salt, and pepper.  Process until smooth.  Add a little more breadcrumbs if too sticky, then shape into 16 little balls and place on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes until heated through, and starting to brown.  Meanwhile, whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside.  In a large non-stick skillet heat 1 Tbsp peanut oil and add the brussels sprouts, carrots and mushrooms.  Saute until starting to soften, but still slighlty crunchy, just a few minutes.  Add the sauce, and cook until thickened, just a few minutes.  Remove from heat and add meatballs.  Carefully stir to coat (meatballs are fragile, so be careful), sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with rice if desired.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Autumn Roasted Carrot and Apple Farro Salad

Yesterday at work, a customer asked me how to prepare farro, as she was trying to incorporate more whole grains into her diet.  Luckilly, I knew how to cook it and was able to help!  One of my favorite parts of working in the deli at a health food store is being able to help people like her.  It makes me happy to be able to give good advice on food, and help people eat healthier in turn.  After the little tutorial on farro, I started to think about how good it would be in a salad for dinner.  A leafy salad just wouldn't cut it as I was hungry, but a grain salad would be perfect!  Not wanting to spend money I decided that I would make it with things I already had on hand.  A carrot, a cipollini onion, and an apple.  Perfect!  I decided to roast them to bring out the flavor, then combine them with cooked farro, some fresh thyme and toasted walnuts in a cider vinaigrette.  It was delicious! 

All too often I forget about how tasty grains other than the usual rice and quinoa are.  Thank goodness that lady asked me about the farro and gave me the idea to make it venturing out of the same old rut!  Funny how that worked, I helped her, but she also helped me.  Here is the recipe I made if you would like to enjoy it!

Autumn Roasted Carrot and Apple Farro Salad
Serves 2

2 cups water
3/4 cup farro
1 medium cipollini onion, cut into wedges
1 large carrot, sliced
1 medium tart apple cut into large dice
olive oil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp walnut oil
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp dijon
sea salt and pepper to taste

Combine the water and farro in a medium saucepan. Add 1 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees, and line a large sheet pan with foil.  Toss carrots and onions with just enough olive oil to coat and spread out on one side of sheet pan.  Scatter apples on the other side and roast for about 10 minutes until the apples are starting to soften.  Remove apples from pan, and add to bowl with the farro.  Return carrots and onions to the oven and continue to roast until starting to brown at edges and carrots are tender.  Let cool slightly then add to the bowl.  Add walnnuts and thyme, then whisk together vinegar, oils, syrup, mustard and sea salt and pepper to taste and add to the bowl.  Toss to coat, and serve at room temperature. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Squash and White Bean Chili

You would think that after making soups at work during the week when it has been 80 degrees in Minnesota, the last thing I would want to be making on the weekend would be chili...wrong.  It may be hot outside, but for sime reason I decided that I had to have chili today.  Maybe because it is Sunday, and the football game was on?  Those two things go together right?  I don't think that was what influenced my decision.  Although I watched the game today, and was pleased to see that the Minnesota Vikings actually won a game for the first time this year...I would not consider myself a football kind of girl.  Good for them though, hopefully they will win a few more before the year is up!  Anyways, more than likely it is the feeling of autumn that I got when going for a walk this afternoon through the woods and admiring the beautiful firey colored trees and crunching the leaves beneath my feet that said to me "it is fall, you should make chili!"  Nevermind the warm temperatures. 

I had piles of ripe tomatoes from my Grandpa ready to be roasted and thrown into chili as well as a good selection of hot peppers and buttercup squash begging to be eaten.  So chili it was!  Being that I only had navy beans in my cupboard, this was to be white bean chili.  In the deli where I work I always catch a hard time from all of my coworkers every time I use navy beans.  This is because they know it is my favorite bean and more than likely it is what I am putting into anything containing beans.  My friend Gabrielle even put a lable on the white beans that read "Amy's White Beans".  So I had to laugh to myself when they were the only beans I found on my search through the cupboard this afternoon.  I had all day to putz with this chili, so cooking the beans myself and using oven roasted homegrown tomatoes and squash in the chili were no problem.  Some ingredients I don't normally put in chili found their way into the pot this time making it even more irrisistable when I snuck a taste...raisins, almond butter and red wine.  My kitchen smelled wonderful as the chili simmered away!  I couldn't wait enjoy a bowl! 

I whipped up a batch of vegan cornbread and was ready for dinner!  It was scrumptious!  It was sweet and spicy, savory, and autumnal.  Not bad for a throw together on a whim.  If you would like to experience the chili for yourself, here is the recipe!

Sweet and Spicy Squash and White Bean Chili
Serves 8
1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 large onions, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 habanero, seeded and minced
1 cup carrots, sliced
8 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper, or to taste
1 Tbsp smoky paprika
1/4 cup red wine
3 16 oz cans organic fire roasted tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp tamari
2 Tbsp almond butter
4 cups veggie broth
4 cups cooked navy beans
1/4 cup raisins
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cups cubed cooked buttercup or butternut squash*

vegan sour cream
sliced scallions

In a large stockpot or dutch oven, heat the peanut oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, habanero, jalapenos, and carrots, and saute until softened, about 6-7 minutes.  Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, paprika, chipotle powder, and cook for a minute until fragrant, then add the wine, tomatoes, red bell peppers, cider vinegar, cocoa powder, maple syrup, tamari, almond butter, veggie broth, and bring to a boil.  Simmer until flavors have blended, stirring often, about 20 minutes.  Add cooked beans, raisins and squash, and sea salt and pepper to taste, and continue to cook until heated through.  Serve hot with vegan sour cream sliced scallions to garnish and cornbread if desired.

* Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.  Cut 1 large buttercup squash in half from top to bottom, and remove seeds.  Place cut side down on baking sheet, and roast for about 25-30 minutes until tender.  Remove from oven and let cool until cool enough to handle, then remove skin and cut into cubes. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Roasted Chanterelle and Leek Salad with Pears and Pecans

While I was visiting MontrĂ©al last week, I visited a restaurant called DNA.  The atmosphere was wonderful and the service excellent!  They had the most beautiful orange decor, but more importantly the food was delicious! 

I ordered some delicious pappardelle pasta scattered with local mushrooms including chanterelles.  It was delicious and earthy due to the flavorful mushrooms. 

I had every ambition to try and recreate the $30 plate when I arrived home, and I even found some locally grown chanterelles at the market, but my day had other plans.  Instead of putzing with home made pappardelle today I visited a local winery, St. Croix Vineyards for some wine tasting.  Of course I ended up buying wine there, as well as some late harvest riesling vinegar. Being that it was a warm day, and that I was feeling a bit lazy in the dinner department, I decided that the chanterelles would be lovely in a salad also using some of that vinegar that I had bought.  So I roasted some chanterelles (as well as a bit of crimini mushrooms which are more affordable) and some leeks and tossed them with some ripe d'anjou pears and toasted pecans for a delicious salad! 

I dressed it with a riesling maple walnut dressing with a bit of thyme and voila!  Deliciousness!  It wasn't a good day for pasta anyhow, and the salad paired perfectly with some dry riesling I had also picked up today.  Maybe I will make pappardelle when the weather chills out a bit, but for now this salad did the trick to showcase the chanterelles!  If you have access to them you should try making it yourself!

Roasted Chanterelle and Leek Salad with Pears and Pecans
Serves 2

1 large leek, sliced
10 chanterelle mushrooms, halved if large
10 crimini mushrooms, halved
olive oil
1 large D'anjou pear, sliced
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1 large head leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces

2 Tbsp walnut oil
2 Tbsp riesling vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp honey dijon mustard
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Toss mushrooms and leeks with just enough olive oil to coat, and spread out on baking sheet.  Roast in the oven until tender and starting to brown at edges, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature, then add to a large bowl along with the pear, pecans and leaf lettuce.  Whisk dressing ingredients together, then pour over salad and toss well.  Serve!