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Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

Here at The Militant Carnivore Cooks for his Vegetarian Wife, we believe that health-conscious nutrition and irresponsibly wretched excess go hand in hand.  Thus, our scientists at TMCCFHVW Labs have created the Ultimate Multigrain Waffle:  It’s packed full of whole wheat flour, cornmeal and quinoa for all of the self-righteous fiber one could hope for at breakfast.  It also has a cubic s***load of butter thrown into it.  (That “c” that you see after the number “1” down below is not a typo.)

It’s not my fault:  The Joy of Cooking said it was OK.  I quote verbatim from its recipe for Basic Waffles:  “We give you three choices to prepare this recipe:  use 4 tablespoons butter for a reduced-fat waffle, 8 tablespoons for a classic light and fluffy waffle; or 16 tablespoons for the crunchiest most delicious waffle imaginable.”

That’s not really a choice at all, is it?

makes 15-20 waffles

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 1 c butter, melted
  • 2 c cooked quinoa

Mix the first five ingredients (aka, the dry ingredients) together in a large mixing bowl.  In another mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, milk and butter.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined.  Stir in the cooked quinoa.  Preheat the waffle maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Make the waffles (my waffle maker uses a 1/3 c of batter at a time, and I like to use the darkest setting) and serve immediately, or keep warm on a rack set over a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven.  Serve with maple syrup, fresh fruit or a savory ragout.  I would advise against putting extra butter on these waffles.

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When you’ve had all the turkey-cranberry sandwiches and reheated mashed potatoes that you can stand, it’s time to make croquettes with the Thanksgiving leftovers.

Croquettes are essentially breaded and deep-fried anythings.  Usually, these anythings include bechamel sauce as a binder.  The key, then, to post-Thanksgiving croquettes is to make a big ol’ batch of rather thick bechamel and to mix it with any and all of the leftover Thanksgiving vegetables and/or turkey.  The recipe for the Rather Thick Bechamel:

  • 1/2 c olive oil and/or butter
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 3 c milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • nutmeg for grating

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the oil (and melt the butter, if using) over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour to make a roux.  Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, to cook some of the rawness out of the flour, about 2-3 minutes.  Whisk in about 1/2 c of the milk until smooth, then whisk in the rest of the milk.  Reduce the heat to low and add the bay leaf.  Peel and smash the garlic cloves and toss them in as well.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes; the bechamel should feel like thick cream.  Grate in a little nutmeg and some black pepper; add salt to taste.  Remove and discard the bay leaf and allow the bechamel to cool.  It should set up like that paste you remember eating in kindergarten.

This year, by food-processing the bechamel with an equal amount of filling, I made turkey croquettes; sweet potato and almond croquettes; and mushroom, arugula and Fontina croquettes.  (Don’t overprocess the croquette batter:  You want the filling to have some texture, hence the almonds mixed with the sweet potatoes.)  I also made potato croquettes with leftover mashed potatoes, but I didn’t add any bechamel to this:  I just stirred in an egg and a handful of flour to give the potatoes some more structure.

At this point, if you’ve gone through all of these steps, you’ve done plenty of the work for the day.  You could put the croquette batters in the fridge (or freezer) and wait until later before assembling the croquettes.  However, if you’re ready to press on…

Create a frying station like you see in the picture above.  Get out three medium mixing bowls and a large baking sheet; line the baking sheet with parchment paper.  In the first mixing bowl, add several handfuls of flour; stir in some Seasoning Salt.  In the second bowl, crack two eggs and stir them together.  In the third bowl, add a bunch of bread crumbs.  Take a spoonful of croquette batter (vegetarian croquettes first, please).  Drop the batter into the flour; toss it around to coat, and try to work it into roughly a dumpling shape.  Put the croquette in the egg and toss to coat.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the croquette to the bread crumbs; toss to coat completely.  Place the croquette on the baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining croquettes.

Again, at this point, you could call it a day and freeze the croquettes until tomorrow, or until next Thanksgiving.  If you’ve gone too far now to turn back, pour an inch of oil into a cast-iron skillet and place it over medium heat.  When the oil is shimmery, CAREFULLY place five or six croquettes in the oil, starting at the back of the skillet.  When they’re golden brown on the bottom, after 2-3 minutes, carefully flip the croquettes and cook on the second side, about 1-2 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet; you can keep the croquettes warm in a 200 degree oven while you cook the rest.  Serve hot on a bed of greens with leftover cranberry sauce (preferably homemade cranberry-orange relish).

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Who knew that making waffles was incredibly easy?

For some reason, I thought waffle-making was an almost impossibly difficult task, involving seasoning and re-seasoning a finicky waffle iron that was as likely to burn your waffle to a crisp as produce something edible.  Maybe that’s never been the case, or maybe waffle iron technology has improved exponentially since the last time I checked, but I have to say that my new Chef’s Choice WafflePro Express makes waffle-making a snap.  The waffles come out perfectly—and quickly.  In fact, I can get waffles on the table in ten minutes from the time I think, “Man, I could go for some waffles this morning.”

In the month that I’ve had this thing, I’ve made waffles four or five times, never using the same recipe twice.  I made these savory waffles (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)  at my Lovely Vegetarian Wife’s request; I served them for dinner to company along with mushroom gravy and collard greens.  Who said that waffles were just for breakfast and maple syrup?

makes about a dozen waffles

  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 T baking powder
  • 1 T sugar
  • a large pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2c buttermilk
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • 3 or 4 green onions, trimmed
  • 1 c smoked cheddar, coarsely grated

Preheat your waffle iron, following manufacturer’s directions.  If you want to serve all of the waffles at the same time, preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  (All waffles are better hot out of the iron, though.  See if you can persuade your guests into being served one at a time.)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate and smaller mixing bowl, stir together the eggs, buttermilk, butter and mustard.  Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined (there should still be some lumps of flour in the batter).

Chop the green onions and stir them into the batter along with the cheese.  When the iron is ready, add a scoop of batter (my waffle iron takes 1/3 cup of batter).  Follow the directions for the waffle iron.  Serve immediately with any condiments, sweet or savory, that you choose.

(Full disclosure:  The picture below is of a plain buttermilk waffle, not a smoked cheddar waffle.  We were too busy eagerly devouring them to get a good picture!)

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A year ago, my Lovely Vegetarian Wife and I joined the late 20th century by acquiring a microwave.  We had just moved across the country and were setting up our apartment, and our friends said that they had an old one which they didn’t use anymore.  We accepted it, somewhat reluctantly:  We had gone for most of our adult lives without having a microwave in the kitchen, and we had come to regard it as an unnecessary crutch for frantic yuppies who couldn’t be bothered to take the time to cook properly.

We have come to see that the microwave is very useful and has its place in the kitchen.  Obviously, it’s great for heating up leftovers and cups of coffee.  It is really the best way to make good nachos (a toaster oven gets the chips brown before the cheese melts).  It defrosts things effectively.  It allows you to melt butter in a glass bowl instead of using up another pot and room on the stove.  It cooks sweet potatoes perfectly.  However, there is one important concession that we will not make to the microwave:  We will not make popcorn in the microwave.  We make popcorn on the stove.

Aside from the fact that microwave popcorn contains God knows what, popcorn on the stove is easy and fun.  I won’t say popping corn on the stove is as easy as boiling water, but if you can saute an onion, you can make popcorn.  Simply put a heavy pot over medium heat.  Add a thin layer of oil and a test kernel; cover the pot.  When you hear the “Ping!” of the popcorn popping, the oil is hot enough.  Add the rest of the kernels.  Cover the pot and shake it over the burner.  The popcorn should take off almost right away.  When the popping starts to subside (or when the popcorn starts to push the lid off the pot, which is really seriously cool), dump the popcorn into the largest bowl you have.  (And watch out for stray exploding kernels.  I must say, this is half the fun of stovetop popcorn for me:  I love food that fights back.)

At this point, you can toss the popcorn with WHATEVER YOU WANT.  Seriously.  Have a hankering for kettle corn?  Toss some sugar on with the butter and salt.  Going vegan?  Use olive oil (extra virgin, of course) and a few grinds of black pepper.  Like cheese?  Grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.  Pimenton, curry powder, quatre epices, Chinese five-spice powder… if you like the flavor, it will probably taste good on popcorn.

I like buttery—really buttery—popcorn; I have fond memories of large buckets of movie theater popcorn, slathered with whatever the hell that orange stuff actually is.  These days, though, I can’t quite justify the calories.  So, I compromise (and unlike most compromises, this one leaves everybody happy):  I swap out half of the butter for olive oil.  I don’t see the point of omitting garlic from anything, and a little fresh rosemary just takes this to a whole new level.

I guess it’s time for some actual quantities here:

  • 1/3 c popping corn
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 2 T olive oil, plus more for cooking the popcorn

makes enough popcorn for grazing at a small party, or for snacking on while watching Netflix Instant at 2 am

While preparing the popcorn per the directions above, place the butter in a microwave-proof bowl.  (Or, if you want to swear off the microwave entirely, put the butter in a small pot over medium-low heat.)  Smash and peel the garlic clove; add it to the butter.  Strip the leaves (needles?) off the rosemary sprig and roughly chop them, if you want; add the rosemary to the butter as well.  Microwave the butter on high for 1 minute until it’s melted; stir in the olive oil.

When the popcorn is finished, drizzle the butter-olive oil mixture over top.  I toss the garlic clove in as well—it’s delicious.  Sprinkle generously with salt (and a few grinds of black pepper, if you’re so inclined); toss thoroughly to combine.  Bring the whole bowl (and, ideally, a steaming mug of hot chocolate) over to the couch and put on a good, mindless movie.  Enjoy.

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OK, I’ll be the first to admit, the picture above does not look very appetizing.  But trust me:  This batter will produce whole-grain pancakes that you won’t even think of as “whole-grain pancakes”, but as a delicious breakfast treat which beautifully complements a range of sweet and savory accompaniments so well that you’ll find yourself making these some Sunday morning instead of your traditional, white-flour pancakes.  While they are certainly great with maple syrup, their hearty corn flavor combined with the nuttiness of the quinoa lends them to a range of Southwestern and Latin American flavors.  I’d happily serve a mess of black beans over the top of them, or perhaps use them as an accompaniment for a bowl of green chili or posole.

This is one of those recipes which sounds more complicated than it actually is.  Simply substitute some cornmeal for the flour in your favorite pancake recipe and stir some cooked quinoa into the finished batter.  If you have buttermilk handy, feel free to use it instead of the milk and lemon juice.  Finally, I just happened to have the tail end of a container of almond butter in the fridge, so I stirred it into the batter (and was pleased with the results).  If you have any peanut or other nut butter (preferably just ground nuts and salt), add it in place of the almond butter, or omit the nut butter entirely.

  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 c fine cornmeal
  • 1/2 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T butter, melted (or 2 T olive oil)
  • 1 T olive oil (or 1 more T of melted butter)
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T almond or other nut butter, preferably freshly ground (optional)
  • 1/2 c cooked quinoa
  • butter and/or olive oil for cooking the pancakes, as needed

Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, or its lowest setting.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the first five ingredients (i.e., the dry ingredients).  In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the eggs, butter and/or olive oil, milk, lemon juice, brown sugar and almond butter, if using.

Pour the egg mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon just until combined.  Stir in the cooked quinoa.  When the skillet is hot, add a pat of butter or a little olive oil to it.  (Butter tastes great, obviously, but burns quickly.  Olive oil is healthier and has a much higher smoke point, but it’s not, you know, butter.  I usually use a little of both for this and many other recipes.)  Ladle three pancakes into the skillet and cook until they are brown on the edges and the top is covered with bubbles, about 2 minutes.  Flip the pancakes with a spatula and finish cooking on the second side, about 30-60 seconds.  Transfer the pancakes to a rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you finish cooking the rest of the pancakes.  Serve immediately.

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Two questions:  How could it possibly be October already?  And why in the world is there a picture of raw ground beef on TMCCFHVW?

Mea maxima culpa for the extended absence, my loyal and intrepid readers.  Major events in the life of The Militant Carnivore have caused me to neglect my blog for a while, but I’m back on the horse, and will be attempting to post something new once a week from this point on.  Thanks for bearing with me.

As for the “ground beef” above, look closely.  What you’re looking at is actually this:

A roasted beet and a roasted potato, about to be run through a food mill.  Nary an animal product in sight.  What we have here are the makings for beet gnocchi.

I’ve long made gnocchi with sweet potatoes, and the latest Bon Appetit had a recipe for butternut squash gnocchi, which I found perplexing:  How could that possibly have a high enough starch-to-moisture ratio to stick together?  The answer was that the recipe called for two parts potato for every part butternut squash.  I couldn’t decide if the addition of potato to “butternut squash” gnocchi was dishonest and deceptive or brilliantly elegant, but I figured I’d steal the idea anyway.

I’ve just recently gotten into beets, and I’ve realized that they’re a lot of fun to play with.  They provide a welcome sweetness to many savory dishes, and their inimitable color is unlike anything else in the vegetable world.  I figured that mixing some potatoes into the dough would work just as well for beet gnocchi as for butternut squash gnocchi, and a simple brown butter with rosemary would be the perfect sauce for these bright fuchsia orbs (which look somewhat like uncooked meatballs and which are therefore likely to shock and horrify your vegetarian guests before they realize just how delicious these gnocchi are).

By the way, some people make perfect-looking gnocchi; I don’t.  I add only as much flour as needed to make a dough that has barely enough cohesion to form spheres and to stay together in the cooking water.  While these gnocchi will never be pretty enough to feature on the cover of Saveur, they are deliciously tender.  If you want more traditionally shaped gnocchi (with the characteristic ridges created by rolling the gnocchi off the tines of a fork), add more flour:  Your gnocchi will be chewier, but if you’re careful not to knead the dough too much, they shouldn’t be tough (I think).  The choice is yours.

  • 1 large beet, roasted and peeled
  • 1 large russet potato, roasted and peeled
  • flour, as needed (at least 1/2 c)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • olive oil, a slug or two, as needed
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, plus more for mincing and garnishing
  • 1/2 c Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated

Pass the beet and potato (which should be good and thoroughly cooked) through the coarse holes of a food mill into a large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then cover with a good coating of flour.

Stir together with a spoon.  The mixture will be extremely sticky.  Stir in more flour until the mixture is just dry enough to be handled.  You should be able to roll it into logs.

Stick the gnocchi dough in the fridge while you bring a large pot of water to a boil.  When it’s at a rolling boil, salt it generously.

Smash and peel the garlic clove.  Add it along with the butter, olive oil and the spring of rosemary to a large skillet over medium heat.  Take out the gnocchi dough and cut it into 1-inch pieces.  Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water.  Cook until the gnocchi rise to the surface and are pleasantly firm, about 3-5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the butter-olive oil mixture.  Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, to coat the gnocchi with the brown butter mixture.

It still looks like raw meat, I know.  But trust me:  It’s good.  Mince up a little bit of rosemary and strew it with the grated Parmesan over the gnocchi.  Serve immediately.

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It’s September already??  Where has the summer gone?

To compensate for my prolonged absence from The Militant Carnivore, let me present a recipe for some pretty darn good cornbread.  It’s adapted from a recipe on Epicurious for green onion-jalapeño cornbread, a batch of which I recently sampled at a Southern food party.  I am greatly indebted to my friend both for bringing the cornbread and for pointing me to the recipe, because this is just fantastic.

While purists may complain, cornbread is good, but cornbread with stuff in it is even better.  Not being from a cornbread-centric region of the country, I am unfettered from any traditions dictating that cornbread should be unadulterated by any “mix-ins”, or that I should use white cornmeal only, or that bacon grease is the fat of choice for true cornbread.  (I do believe, though, that a cast-iron skillet is the only appropriate vessel for making cornbread—and for making many other things, too.)  When my most recent hankering for cornbread struck, I didn’t have any green onions or jalapeños on hand (or anything else, really—I suppose I should go grocery shopping), but I did have a half-finished jar of chipotles en adobo just miring on the door of the fridge.

I’ve come late to the chipotle game.  I only recently started cooking with them and have been pleasantly surprised by how much flavor can be delivered by a pantry item.  With their bewitching combination of smoke and red pepper, chipotles offer a lot of the same pleasure as pimentón, Spanish smoked paprika.  (I should probably stop describing pimentón that way:  After all, I could just as sensibly call paprika “Hungarian unsmoked pimentón“.)  The major difference (besides the fact that chipotles are HOT!) is that pimentón peppers are, of course, ground into a powder, whereas chipotles are canned or jarred in adobo, a vinegary tomato sauce.  That means you can chop up the chipotles and incorporate them into dishes as you would fresh peppers; you can also use the adobo as an ingredient as well.

makes 8 pieces of cornbread, so serves (ahem) 4

  • 3/4 c flour
  • 3/4 c cornmeal
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 T baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 c (4 T) butter
  • 2 large (or 3 small) eggs
  • 1 T lemon juice and/or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 c milk
  • 1 c sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 1/3 c chipotles en adobo, roughly chopped, adobo reserved for another use

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together the first six ingredients (those would be the dry ingredients) in a large mixing bowl.

Place a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat.  Slowly melt the butter in the skillet, taking care not to burn it.

Add the eggs to a medium mixing bowl; stir in the lemon juice and the milk.  (You could also omit the lemon juice and substitute buttermilk for the milk.)  When the butter is melted, swirl the skillet so that the melted butter coats its sides, and then pour the butter, whisking all the while, into the egg-milk mixture.  Put the skillet back on the burner and turn the heat up to medium.

Pour the egg-milk-butter mixture over the dry ingredients; use a large spoon to combine.  Don’t overstir:  Just mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the liquid.  Stir in the grated cheddar and the chopped chipotles.

Pour the batter into the preheated, buttered skillet.  Turn the heat off under the skillet.

Put the skillet in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes.  When a skewer or knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean, it’s done.

Cut into eighths and serve with a drizzle of honey, or alongside a big bowl of black beans and a few Mexican beers.

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