Category Archives: Recipes

Rosemary Pork Loin

I adopted some rosemary a few weeks ago. It lives in a pretty little pot in my living room, and I catch myself idly nibbling on the fronds when I’m talking on the phone. The scent permeates the air as soon as it’s touched, and it was almost overwhelming tonight when I snipped off a few whole branches to make this Rosemary Pork Loin.

Here’s the cast of characters (minus the fresh black pepper):

the cast of characters: pork loin, rosemary, sage, garlic, and kosher salt. Not pictured: freshly ground black pepper.

…pork loin, rosemary, sage, garlic, and kosher salt.

I’m fortunate to have a great neighbor who landscapes with herbs (I plan to do the same myself this fall), so I had access to fresh sage – two kinds to choose from, actually. I chopped several leaves of sage (about 10) along with the rosemary (about 1 tbsp), crushed some garlic (4 cloves), added a little kosher salt, and smashed it all together into a paste with a mortar and pestle.

rosemary, sage, garlic, and salt in a mortar and pestle

I should use this tool more often. It makes me feel like a mad kitchen scientist.

I added a generous amount of black pepper and a bit of olive oil (2 tsp?) to the mixture, rubbed it on the pork loin, then roasted it for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees. I turned it after 30 minutes, and started with the fat side down.

rosemary pork loin

I think it turned out okay.

(Inspired by Roast Pork Loin with Garlic and Rosemary, from Epicurious.com – originally from Bon Appétit, July 1999.)

 

Samosa Potato Salad

"This is the best potato salad I have ever had."

Everyone who tries it

samosa potato salad

This is what happens when a favorite Indian street food and a favorite picnic dish collide in my thoughts at 3 a.m. The amount of cayenne can be varied to alter the spiciness, but the 1/4 teaspoon called for in the recipe adds just enough for most tastes, while keeping the other flavors balanced. Use a good quality curry powder.

 

Ingredients:
3 lbs. small yellow potatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 C yellow onion, diced (about 1 medium onion)
4 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 3/4 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp lime juice
1 1/4 C mayonnaise (use Vegenaise to make it vegan)
3/4 C fresh cilantro, chopped
1 C green peas, cooked

Directions:
In a large pot, boil potatoes in lightly salted water just until tender. Drain and set aside.

Return pan to medium heat; add olive oil. Add onions, ginger, curry, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Saute until onions are tender and spices are fragrant. Remove from heat. Add lime juice, mayonnaise, and cilantro.

Combine peas, potatoes, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Chill for an hour before serving.

Sauerkraut Kielbasa Soup

vegan sauerkraut kielbasa soup

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp paprika
2 carrots, thinly sliced
3 cups cubed potatoes (yukon gold or red)
1 package Tofurkey Kielbasa – sliced lengthwise, then into 1/2-inch pieces
16 oz sauerkraut, drained (I like Hengstenberg, it’s made with white wine)
10 cups water
3 tbsp + 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken broth concentrate
1/4 tsp ground marjoram
1 tsp parsley flakes
1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper, or more to taste

Directions:
In large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, saute onion until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add sliced kielbasa, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.

Add remaining ingredients. Bring to boiling, cover, reduce heat and simmer 45-50 minutes (or longer), until carrots and potatoes are tender.

Makes about 12 servings.

Vegan Spinach Balls (revised)

vegan spinach balls

Spinach balls are a family-favorite appetizer. The original recipe calls for eggs, butter, and parmesan cheese. These are veganized with golden flax meal (Omega 3’s!), nutritional yeast in place of parmesan cheese, and Earth Balance Buttery Sticks. The whole cup of Earth Balance (see update below) hardly qualifies them as health food, but they have a lot of protein and no cholesterol, unlike the original.

UPDATE (2/5/12): I reduced the amount of Earth Balance in the recipe to 3/4 cup, with good results. I think I could reduce it even more. The amount of nutritional yeast has also been modified to compensate for the lower amount of moisture. They still disappeared at our latest party.

Vegan Spinach Balls

Makes about 48 balls

Ingredients:
2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
4 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned stuffing
2 cups minced white onion
6 tbsp golden flax seed meal
3/4 cup water
1 3/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (1 1/2 half-cup sticks), melted
3/4 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 tsp granulated garlic (not garlic salt)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, grease your cookie sheets well.

In a large bowl, whisk flax seed meal with 3/4 cup water. Let stand until mixture thickens.

Add melted Earth Balance, spinach, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast. Mix well. (It will be thick.)

Add stuffing mix and stir well. You may have to add a bit more water if the mixture is too dry.

Using a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon, or a small ice cream scoop of equivalent size, roll approximately 2 tbsp of the mixture into a ball. If the mixture gets too sticky, wet your hands a bit to make the process easier. Repeat for the rest of the mixture. You should have about 48 balls.

Bake for 20 minutes, until balls are golden. Remove from oven, and let stand for 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. Balls will be soft when they come out of the oven, but will firm up as they cool.

 

Misato Radishes and Random Nut Cheese

misato radishes and random nut cheese

The little watermelon-like veggies in the box are called misato radishes. I first encountered them locally at an open house for doGood Consulting, where a friend of mine featured local foods prepared by a local chef. I remember having a good time, petting a hairless wonder-cat (adorable!), and sampling these intriguing (and delicious) radishes. I am not a huge fan of radishes. Sometimes they give me an (extremely rare) case of heartburn. I guess pretty food matters!

The misato variety of radish, appropriately dubbed “watermelon radish”, is a winter variety. I was surprised by the lack of information on this variety when searching for “misato radish”. A search for “watermelon radish” reveals a bit more. The taste is much like a regular radish: a mix of sweet and peppery. I peeled my radish before slicing, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I also skipped the very spicy and bitter slices near the end. The outer flesh has a lot more bite, and the end slices which contained most of that flesh weren’t tasty. Radishes have nearly as much potassium as a banana, and are a good source of fiber.

Misato radishes may pop up at farmers markets in the fall, or at your local co-op in the middle of winter. This radish is from Blue Moon Farm.

I enjoyed my radish as a snack with some cucumbers and a vegan cashew cheese spread. The recipe is random, and contains about 1.5 cups of soaked raw cashews, some white miso, garlic, white pepper, rice wine, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, and salt. It’s like a smoky cheese spread.

 

Turnips, Take One

roasted turnips with caramelized onions

I tried turnips this week. I like them.

They were tossed with a little bit of olive oil, about 1/2 tsp of agave nectar, salt, and pepper, then roasted in a 400 degree oven. While the turnips cooked in the oven, I made some caramelized onions on the stove, then I threw them both together at the end.

The verdict: I like. I am starting to think my radio nickname really should be Root-Vegetable Rachel. But we would have to switch it to Rhubarb Rachel in the spring.

 

Quick Raw Vegan Pecan Pie

datesHere’s a recipe for the easiest raw vegan pecan pie you’ll ever make:

Replace the pit of a medjool date with a pecan half. Done.

How funny… I came up with the same recipe too! I have it for dessert whenever I have both dates and pecans on hand. Sometimes I go a little crazy and use an almond instead. Whoo-hoo!

This recipe is from The Date People. I hope they don’t think I’m infringing on their copyright by reprinting it. I just think everyone should eat dates, or eat more dates. As The Date People say on their Facebook page:

“They are extremely nutritious, higher in potassium than bananas, also rich in iron, calcium and vitamins. If you are looking to balance your acid/alkaline state, dates are more alkaline than almost any other food.”

If you’re like me and enjoy something sweet after a meal once in a while (or all the time), a couple of dates seems like a good dessert.

Arroz con Gandules

arroz con gandules

It’s a good sign for me that I’m making the time and effort to take lunches to work again. October’s Vegan MoFo seems like a blur, in which I tried to eat in as many restaurants as I could during the month. This was not kind to my waistline. November was stressful, and when I get stressed I make all the wrong food choices. Again, ditto for the waistline. Now the holiday season and its inevitable splurges are coming, but my body just can’t take this abuse any longer. I feel like I’m walking around half asleep, in a carb-induced state of near-hibernation. I would actually hibernate, except I would miss knitting season and a whole lot of other fun things.

I’d like to be able to say that what I’ve been eating lately is mostly healthy, and it’s just the quantities that need adjustment – but it’s not the case. I’ve been loading up on sugary junk and carbs. It feels like I’m on a moody roller coaster, where the downward swings leave me feeling like no amount of sleep is enough, and the wiry sugared-up feeling doesn’t last nearly long enough. I feel so much better when I’m “high” on the phytochemicals. The solution is probably more kale. When I’m planning meals, I need to think vegetables vegetables vegetables! instead of grains grains grains! this winter.

I’m sure I can shift myself away from these carb cravings with better planning and more fresh vegetable choices ready to go in the refrigerator. It’s like a cycle… I eat carby junk, I get tired all the time, I lose interest in cooking and food preparation, I eat more carby junk that I can grab, lather, rinse, repeat. But I shall break out of this. I will make a date with myself. On this date, I will purchase, clean, and prepare 3 different healthy snacks to have on hand that have vegetables and/or fruit and protein. I will plan meals for the week and lunches to take to work that will fill me up all day.

And if this doesn’t work, you may find me in a nearby tree, sleeping it off until spring.

The picture above is rice with pigeon peas, or arroz con gandules. It’s a Puerto Rican dish I first tried at a Seventh Day Adventist food fair, and I liked it a lot. My version was thrown together on a weeknight after coming home from work AND a trip to the store for groceries, so it’s not as detailed with spices or as authentic as the real thing. Basically, I just used my own Mexican rice recipe, which is probably all sorts of wrong, and added a can of pigeon peas. The real thing calls for flavorful achiote oil, a Puerto Rican staple. It usually contains some green manzanilla olives, but not everyone in my family likes those. I will work on a version that’s closer to the real thing.

 

I put it in a blender. It turned into salad.

First, put the following in a blender (or food processor):

One whole orange with peel, cut into chunks. De-seed if necessary.

orange

 

Two apples, cored and cut into chunks. Any kind. Use what you like, or what you have.

apples

 

Chop these things up rather finely in the appliance of your choice. I processed mine quite a bit, until it was a chunky paste.

Empty this into a big bowl.

Next, rinse one pound of fresh cranberries. Pick out the little stems. Add them to the blender or food processor (no need to clean it.)

cranberries

 

Process until all the cranberries are chopped to your preferred consistency. I used a blender, so mine were chopped rather finely.

Add the cranberries to the orange/apple mixture, stir it together, and add sugar (or your preferred natural sweetener) to taste. I added about 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar. Add some cinnamon. I didn’t measure mine, because I’m crazy like that. I bet it was about 1/2 tsp.

Refrigerate overnight for best results.

Inspired by a Cranberry Relish recipe from Simply Recipes.com.

Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

This Lemon Poppyseed Dressing is yet another great way to use my immersion blender. I needed to find a tart, savory, and sweet-but-not-overly-so dressing for spinach salads that contain fruit and nuts. It’s my favorite salad combination, and I’m all over the place with apples, berries, grapes, pomegranate seeds, and all sorts of nuts. Today I was in a hurry, so it was just spinach and red grapes, which was still very tasty.

I used extra-virgin olive oil, which I reduced to 1/2 cup instead of 2/3, and I think I could have used a less flavorful oil like grapeseed. I also added some freshly-ground black pepper because I like that addition, even for a sweet dressing. (Hint: try some strawberries with freshly-ground black pepper. Seriously.)