I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Next day dish

Sometimes the second day is better for a recipe, not because the flavors need to marry, but because you decide you need to do something else with it. Exactly the case here. I saw a recipe at Whole Foods last month that looked like it would work with the Trader Joe's Veggie Chorizo I stocked up on, and the rest of the kale from the Portuguese Kale Soup, so after slicing and dicing the original recipe as usual, out came a pretty good casserole. But it was a tiny bit on the dry side, maybe because of the extra baking at the end. (Next time I will cover the casserole for the end baking step and that should fix the dryness.)

Then the next day I was pondering what to do for lunch and thought hmmm, wonder if this would work in burritos.


You don't want a soupy filling in a burrito cause it'll turn to slop; this made a filling with just the right amount of moisture. So if at first you don't succeed, wait until you're really hungry and don't feel like cooking anything else and create a leftover masterpiece (or at least a really quick lunch) with what you've got on hand.

Red Rice with Chorizo and Greens

Serves 6-8

12 oz. vegetarian chorizo sausage (such as Trader Joe’s or Field Roast, or homemade if you've got a good recipe)
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups long grain rice
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with chilies
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 cups vegetable broth or water
6 cups stemmed and chopped kale
1½ cups whole kernel corn (if canned, rinse and drain well)
Shredded cheese, for topping (optional; Teese makes a good vegan mozzarella if you want non-dairy)

Heat a large chef’s pan over medium-high heat, and remove sausage from casing into pan, crumbling as you go. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until chorizo begins to get crispy and onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in garlic through cumin. Cook and stir to brown the rice a little bit, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in broth and cover pan. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, until rice is just tender.

Meanwhile, cook kale in a 4-quart pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 10-12 minutes, and drain in a colander.

Remove rice mixture from heat and let sit for 10 minutes, covered.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover the rice, add kale and corn, and mix well. Spread in a 9”x13” casserole and bake at 350°F. for 20 minutes to heat through. Cover the casserole with foil if you want to retain more moisture, or leave uncovered if you will be using the rice as a filling and want it a little drier.

Top with shredded cheese if desired before serving.

For a burrito, place about a half cup of rice on a medium tortilla, sprinkle with taco or picante sauce and shredded cheese, and roll 'er up.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thinking outside the bag

Non-dairy queso has been a project for a few months now. Starting with a recipe at Vegan Explosion, I looked into others on the net.

Initial requirements: spicy but not incendiary, salt present but not overwhelmingly so, cheesy but it doesn't have to be EXACTLY THE SAME as a dairy queso. We want a rich, satisfying scoop, not a moo clone. Since I'm not yet vegan, I could just go out and get stupid Velveeta for that.

This is the latest version. I like it so much it's been dinner for the past two nights. But tonight I was chipped out (put the tortilla chip bag back in the pantry), and a little fake french bread roll from the local discount grocery became the dipper of choice. I was lazy, too; it's not even toasted (do toast it for maximum satisfaction) but it reinforces my belief that cheesy stuff on bread is one of God's gifts.

Try this with toasted pita chips too, they are way big contenders for the chip du jour.

Vegan Queso

Dry ingredients:
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
¼ - ½ cup chickpea or other flour (start out with the lower amount, as this really does thicken on standing)
¼ cup finely ground cashews or other nuts- use a spice grinder for a fine grind
1 Tbs. powdered miso (optional; make your own by placing teaspoonfuls of miso paste on a greased cookie sheet and drying in a very low oven until crumbly, or drying in a dehydrator)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chile powder- New Mexico chile powder is good
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. onion granules
½ tsp. garlic granules

Wet ingredients:
2 cups water or non-dairy milk; I've used both and can't tell much difference
2 Tbs. vegan butter or margarine, melted
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes and chiles, with liquid
1 Tbs. prepared mustard- I used Dijon cause that’s what I had, although plain ol' yellow is more traditional

paprika or chile powder, for garnish

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium (at least 2½ quart) saucepan and break up any lumps. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl and slowly add to the dry ingredients, whisking as you go. Place over medium heat, and cook, stirring until the queso is thick and smooth. Adjust the seasonings to taste, and garnish with a little more paprika or chile powder if you like.

Serving suggestions: with tortilla chips, toasted french bread 'croutons', or toasted pita triangles; or on burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, etc.

Option: add a 4 oz. can of diced chiles, or a diced jalapeno, for a little more zing, but this is pretty snappy as is. You could also use a can of diced tomatoes without chiles if you want a tamer result.

Monday, March 2, 2009

March my foot

So much for three weeks til spring. This is the usual slap upside the head we get right before winter ends and spring begins. And it's not even good snow.

Started out as a wet Slurpee last night, continued through most of the night as temps fell, and petered out this afternoon; the remains will freeze into a treacherous, bumpy layer overnight just in time for rush hour tomorrow.

Hooray for the Mid-A!