DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

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As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to hearing from you on the new site!

(“Um, Mum, you are taking us with you, aren’t you?  Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans on this blog than you do.”)

 

* Or, Give Pods a Chance!

okrabare2

[Okra pods, in the raw]

I have a confession to make.  I haven’t told you all about this yet because, quite frankly, I was afraid you’d reject me.  Move that cursor elsewhere, and click.  At best, roll your eyes.  Maybe snort in disgust.  Maybe gag, even.

But I’ve decided it’s time.  I mean, really, what kind of lasting relationship can we have without full disclosure?  

So I’m just going to come out and say it:

I love okra.

I.

Love.

Okra. 

Are you running for the hills yet? 

Oh, I know what you’re thinking:  Okra?  That polygonal pod that’s a staple in gumbo, and mostly reviled? That much-maligned member of the marrow family (but cocoa is in that family, too!) that most people reject without so much as a nibble?  That pariah of the produce aisle that’s often referred to as gluey, viscous, slimy or mucilaginous–with seeds that remind you of those bowls of peeled grape “eyeballs” we all stuck our hands into at Halloween when we were kids?

Yep. That okra.

I adore okra’s long, lantern-shaped pods, the vibrant green skins with just a hint of fuzz and the wagon-wheel innards when you cut them across. I love the mild, slightly woodsy flavor and the pop of the seeds in your mouth.  I could eat okra every day, and never tire of it.

I think it’s heartbreaking that okra gets such a bad rap.  Okra is like the pimply nerd at school–the reject, the Carrie, the Napoleon Dynamite , the Ugly Betty.  The last kid to be chosen for the baseball team.  The scrawny kid on the beach who gets sand kicked in his face.  The pink-and-too-frilly kid who takes her dad to the prom. The computer geek nobody wants to date so then he quits high school and starts some computer company run from his parents garage and redeems himself by becoming the richest guy in America. . . oh, wait.  That would make him Bill Gates, wouldn’t it?  And then he’d actually be much sought after, wouldn’t he? Well, heck! To my mind, that IS okra!

okraquinoa1

[A bit of spice, a bit of bite, a bit of lemon zest: an endearing combination.]

I think we should give okra the accolades it deserves. Let’s nurture its low self-esteem. Let’s compliment its grassy hue and lovely symmetry, tug its cute little tail at the narrow end and make it blush.  Sure, it was born a green vegetable (already at a disadvantage compared to, say, watermelon).  And then there’s the goo factor.  But sometimes, with a recipe that takes our humble ingredient and pushes it to be its best, well, that little green lantern can really shine.  That’s what I wish for my buddy, okra.

In these recipes, okra is elevated to something that transcends its reputation. It’s like okra gussied up for a date.  Okra getting an A+ in physics. Okra at its best self–I know, like okra after taking one of Oprah’s “Be Your Best Self” weekends!  (Just imagine the introductions at that seminar, sort of like David Letterman’s ill-fated attempt at hosting the Oscars:  “Okra, meet Oprah.  Oprah, okra.”).

Besides, okra has much to offer us.  Described by WholeHealthMD as having a taste that “falls somewhere between that of eggplant and asparagus,” it’s a good source of Vitamin C and several minerals; and the seeds offer up protein in every pod, along with 4 grams of both soluble (known to help keep cholesterol levels in check) and insoluble (great for regularity) fiber in a one-cup (240 ml) serving.

okramasalaside1

[Still slightly al dente in this photo; cook a bit longer if you're an okra neophyte.]

These are two of my favorite okra dishes, ones that we consume fairly regularly here in the DDD household.  The first is another adaptation from my dog-eared copy of Flip Shelton’s Green, a Moroccan Spiced Okra-Quinoa Pilaf.  I’ve made liberal changes to this one, including altering the base from rice to quinoa.  The spices are subtle with a barely detectable undertone of lemon zest in the mix.  Served sprinkled with chopped nuts, this pilaf is a meal in a bowl all on its own.

The second dish comes from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Indian Cooking Course by Manisha Kanani. Again, I’ve made a few alterations to the original, which asks you to dry-cook the okra on the stovetop; I’ve found that adding chopped tomatoes and allowing the tender pods to stew in the juices produces a more appealing taste and texture. Although a masala curry, this one isn’t the least bit spicy, yet is still rife with the flavors of tomato, cumin, coriander and fresh cilantro. It’s a perfect side dish for Indian food, of course, but we also enjoy this as an accompaniment to burgers or cooked grains. 

So go ahead, give okra a try!  Who knows? You may even like it.  And don’t worry, the secret will be safe with me.

Moroccan-Spiced Pilaf with Quinoa and Okra

adapted from Flip Shelton’s Green

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

okraquinoa21

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Okra Masala

adapted from Indian Cooking Course by Manisha Kanani

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

okramasalatop

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE SHINY NEW HOME OF DDD BY CLICKING HERE.

chiliside

The three of you who were reading my blog last year at this time may recall that I am not a fan of winter.  “What?” the rest of you ask, “and you from Montreal?” 

Well, I’m here to tell you that being born in a certain place doesn’t automatically predispose one kindly toward the weather of said location (nor does it predispose one to winter sports; in other words, no, that’s not a tatoo on my rear, but a lingering bruise from a skating accident back in 1981).  To me, the ideal climate would be temperate, neither too hot nor too cool (I’m thinking between 68 and 80 Fahrenheit, or 20 and 22 Celsius), with sun about 95% of the time (just enough rain to ensure there’s no drought) and terrain surrounded by lush, grassy, fragrant forests with treetops that sway and quietly rustle in the breeze, like Hawaiians doing the hula. Oh, and no bugs.  And no snakes.  Or spiders.  And, what the heck, may as well throw in a yellow brick road, while you’re at it.*

But here we are, too far into November to deny the imminent crystalline entombment, and I must face the fact: it will be winter soon.  And what is there to do?  Generally, when I’m feeling down, my options fall into two categories:  1) food-related; and 2) dog-related.  As I write this, The Girls are sleeping off their early walk with the HH; and so, it seems, the next step is alimentary, my dear.

While baking is always my first instinct in the kitchen, I do enjoy cooking as well.  These days, it’s rare for me to spend any more time than necessary making dinner (read: 20 minutes, tops), but yesterday, I felt the need for the extended, meditative experience of slow cooking. In the morning, I loaded the dutch oven with dried beans and water; and by 7:00 PM, we were feasting on my age-old, many-times-refined, much-tweaked recipe for chili with mixed beans and “ground turkey.” 

chilitop

[Seems I still haven't quite mastered the focus on my dandy new camera, but you can still make out the meaty-looking crumbles in there, can't you?]

When I was a kid, I used to think chili acquired its name because it was meant to be eaten in cold weather.  While it’s true that this soup-cum-stew is best served in cool weather, it wasn’t until I began to read up on Indian cuisine that I discovered the name actually referred to a spice blend often used in the mix. Trusty Wikipedia tells me that Chili con Carne is the official dish of Texas; and that particular bowlful, it turns out, is the version made without beans.  Most of us, I’d wager, still think of beans when we think of chili, however. 

I also think of chili as the chameleon of stews: years ago, a friend who’d just returned to Canada from three years in Mexico served me mole, another form of chili; the notion of sharp spices with just an undertone of bitterness seemed immensely appealing (don’t be alarmed at the coffee and chocolate in this version!).  And a recipe once given to me by a former student from India featured simmered, pulled beef and a variety of curry spices with lentils. 

I first cooked chili when I was an impoverished graduate student living in Windsor, Ontario.  The recipe developed over the years, and what was once a fairly basic vegetarian chili has morphed over the years into my own version of the dish.  I include frozen tofu that’s been defrosted and crumbled to resemble ground meat (in fact, the first time I made this for the HH, he assumed the tofu was ground chicken. Perfect for skeptics!). The HH and I also both agree that chili should be more of a stew than a soup, so I simmer mine until almost all the liquid is absorbed and the beans are suspended in a kind of spicy tomato sauce.  If you prefer yours thinner, simply cook a bit less or add a bit more water. 

Eventually, my own additions became so numerous that even my enormous dutch oven was barely adequate to hold the stew, and I had to stop adding ingredients.  As a result, this makes a huge batch, and enough to freeze in single-serve containers that will sustain you through the winter.  While you slurp it up, just imagine that you’re somewhere warm, and green.

Oh, and with all these legumes in here, I thought this would be the perfect submission to My Legume Love Affair, the monthly event started by Susan at The Well Seasoned Cook and this month hosted by Simona at Briciole. 

Chili to Last Through the Winter

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

chilitop2

This chili provides a thick, spicy, filling and very substantial meal. Don’t let the long ingredient list deter you—this recipe makes a big batch that you can freeze for later, and it’s definitely worth the effort!

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

I’ve decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly, or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required.  Here’s today’s “Flash in the Pan.”]

[Oh, and before I continue:  notice the photo?  Notice anything different?  Um, like, actual detail on the food?  Well, this here is my very first shot with my new, stunningly beautiful, too-complex-for-my-current-level-of-knowledge, can't-believe-how-heavy-this-thing-is, smashing and awesome and really, you shouldn't have but I LOVE IT camera!  It was my birthday gift from The HH last week, and  I am thrilled to bits with it! (I can't wait to actually learn how to use it.) ;)  For now, I'm still learning, so please excuse the awkward and unretouched photos that may appear here for a while. . . but wow, just look at those beans!!]

My friend The Architect married his highschool sweetheart this past weekend. Well, not literally.  You see, they didn’t actually know each other in high school. However, she teaches high school, and she’s also his sweetheart; so, close enough.  As both of them are extremely involved in environmental issues and preserving the local habitat, the wedding was an elegant event in a bucolic setting just north of where we live.  And, true to form, the ceremony was outdoors, amid the towering maples and the burbling streams and the chattering squirrels.  Oh, and the pelting rain and the occasional snowflake and the sodden leaves being torn from the trees and whipping across our faces path.  Because, you see, it was late October.  In CANADA.  (Let’s just say, I wore earmuffs to the ceremony).*

Still, it was a joyful, enjoyable affair and the HH and I ate, drank, and danced like it was 1999.  After so much weekend revelry, I decided I wanted something simple for dinner yesterday.  

Now, it’s possible I’ve mentioned before that I am basically a lazy cook.  Extremely lazy.  And, as I (now) do with chickpeas for the occasional mock tuna salad, I also tend to keep cans of baked beans on hand for those occasional evenings when I crave their sweet, soft, quick and filling nourishment. 

I didn’t even realize there existed specifically vegan baked beans until I was an undergrad in university, when I first lived (and cooked) on my own. Because my mother was an unacknowledged vegetarian herself, the only kind of baked beans she ever used were the “in tomato sauce” flavor (naturally vegan). In university, however, my room mate was the grocery shopper.  One week, I requested canned baked beans, and she brought home the bacon beans.  I opened the can in anticipation of my usual leguminous fulfillment.  What I encountered, instead, was a single cube of pasty, greyish-white, gelatinous pork fat.  At first, I couldn’t imagine what it was, but then I read the label and. . . wow, you wouldn’t believe how those saucy beans stick to the inside of the garbage can.

I love to eat baked beans just as they are, with a plump spelt bagel torn into pieces that I use to sop up the sauce.  The Nurse doctors hers up with kethcup, mustard, maple syrup, corn kernels (!) and hot dogs (blech); the CFO makes hers from scratch (also vegan, but that’s just a coincidence).  Lately, I’ve been trying to eat greens every day, so I thought about combining the beans with something dark and leafy.  As it happened, my mind was already on steamed greens since I read about kale boiled in stock on Orangette (but 30 minutes?  Molly, is that really necessary?) and Sally’s latest post on Beans and Greens.  I figured, why not use up some chard I had in the house?  Molly served her kale with eggs; and don’t those beans have a naturally ovoid shape?  It was meant to be(an).

You won’t believe how easy this dish is.  I loved the textural contrast of the beans’ exterior firmness and slightly creamy interior, set against the soft yet springy chard; the sweet-smoky bean sauce and the astringent bitterness of the greens, in every bite.  Of course, you could also simply toss the two ingredients together, but those beans look so much more jewel-like when nestled sweetly inside the wreath of chard, don’t you think? A perfect way to follow up that weekend of celebrations.

I’ll be away visiting the CFO this weekend, so I’m going to miss all the Halloween fun!  However, thanks to the magic of WordPress, I do have a Halloween-inspired post for y’all over the weekend. 

Have fun Trick or Treating, everyone!

Baked Beans Nested on Greens

1 large bunch of your favorite leafy greens, washed, trimmed, sliced thin (chop and use stems if possible)

about 1/2 cup vegetable stock, any type

1 can of your favorite baked beans (or homemade if you have them), heated through

Heat the broth in a nonstick frypan or dutch oven over medium heat. Place the stips of greens over the liquid, press down to cover as much as possible, and cover the pan or pot.  Reduce heat to low, and cook the greens until just wilted, about 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat the beans according to the directions on the can.  Arrange the greens in a wreath on a plate, and gently spoon the hot beans in the center for a nested effect.  Eat.  Makes 2 servings.  (Quick.  Easy. Tasty.  So simple, a little birdy could almost make it.)

Mum, the beans look okay, but if that little birdy isn’t doing anything else, you know we’d be happy to, um, dispose of it for you. . .

* Let’s also just say, I want to move to California.  Or New South Wales.  Or the Bahamas.  But no, I’m stuck here, where I wore earmuffs, on October 26th.  The older I get, the more I realize: comfort trumps fashion, every time.  And–why, yes, I do believe this marks the official launch of my “the weather is too cold I hate it I have to move away from here somebody save me” winter weather whingeing.  And–lucky you!–it continues unabated, for the next 6 months!

 Diet, Dessert and Dogs has moved!  If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

[Ooh, look at those widdy bits of black bean and sweet potato in there!  Who could resist?]

Even as I slog through my pile of assignments and tests, I’ve been sneaking in here to read everyone’s comments, with much gratitude.  Thanks so much for the “ooomph” I need to complete all this work, and your wonderful support!  You are THE BEST.

And since my willpower for staying away from the blog is about as good as my willpower for staying away from chocolate, here I am again–but only today, and then it’s back to the books.  Why am I popping in, you ask?

Well, since so many of you asked about these squares, it felt shameful to keep you waiting for a recipe that isn’t even mine!  Those Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Black Bean Bites that people are drooling over (and which I ate for breakfast the other day, heated up–divine!), are an easy-peasy adaptation of this recipe

I basically followed the recipe verbatim, though my version of breadcrumbs was a fresh piece of spelt sourdough bread ground up in the food processor (for gluten-free squares, use a piece of GF bread, or GF breadcrumbs).  I also used organic ketchup rather than tomato paste, fresh cilantro, and omitted the caraway seeds.  Other than that, I patted the mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 9 inch pan and let it bake until dry and firm on top.  Cooled it completely, then cut into little squares, which I placed gingerly on a baking sheet and re-heated until the outsides were a bit crispy.  Honestly, these are fantastic.

Now go enjoy some SPQandBB bites until I get back!

A bientôt,

xo Ricki :)

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site. Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thank you for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new home of Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we?  Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans on this blog than you do.”

* * *

 

[I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly, or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required.  Here's today's "Flash in the Pan."]

I was seduced by Mark Bittman last week.

Now, hold on a minute–before you go and call the authorities, I should clarify: I’ve never even met the man. I was speaking in the Platonic sense; it was more the ideal of Mark Bittman that seduced me. 

Truth be told, I was already harboring a little crush. You see, a while back when Bittman’s new tome, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian first hit the cookbook scene, the entire blogosphere (and pretty much any place else people consume food) was abuzz about it.  That book was the latest, greatest thing to hit our kitchens!  I had previously whiled away about an hour leafing through Bittman’s earlier oeuvreHow to Cook Everything, during one of my Sunday-morning bookstore browses with the HH.  That day, I lingered between “Cookbooks: General” and “Cookbooks: Heart Healthy” for ages, slowly caressing the pages and batting my eyelashes longingly at every enchanting chapter. I really couldn’t take my eyes off it. 

In the end, I gave myself over to the enticing reviews and alluring recommendations, dove right in and ordered the darn thing straightaway, sight unseen, from amazon.ca.  I mean, how could I not be seduced?

As I discovered during our first meeting (once the book arrived in the mail), it is a very attractive volume (well, more like the entire encyclopedia, actually, at 996 pages long).  The fresh lollipop-lime cover conveys a light, whimsical feel, while the choice to forgo photos (there are detailed line drawings) and expanses of text lend more a of a Joy of Cooking vibe. As many reviewers have remarked, it is a terrific, all-encompassing introduction to the basics of vegetarian cooking: with lengthy lists and detailed instructions, it covers a huge array of basic ingredients, basic methods and basic recipes. But would this be sufficient to sustain a relationship?  Would the recipes have enduring appeal?  And were they recipes I would actually use and enjoy over the long term?

Well, almost immediately, I started having mixed feelings. Because I’m already familiar with vegetarian basics and techniques, I wasn’t much interested in the generic versions of dishes (leek and potato soup, caramelized onions, refried beans, or scrambled tofu.)  However, it was the seemingly endless variaitions on each theme ( eleven rubs and 17 sauces for grilled tofu; or 15 toppings for baked potatoes), as well as some of the more unusual or ingenious combinations, that intrigued me.  Recipes such as Green Tea Broth with Udon Noodles, Nori Chips, Beets with Pistachio Butter, Quinoa and Parsnip Rösti or Chickpea Fondue each scored sticky-note bookmarks, denoting plans for a future kitchen rendezvous

One major beef (if I may use the term) I had about the book, however,  was its treatment of desserts: there isn’t a single vegan baked good in all 996 pages. The more indulgent, original dessert recipes (such as Chewy Almond Cherry Cookies, Caramel Walnut Bars, or Boozy Apple Cake) all contain eggs, cream or butter; the vegan desserts, on the other hand, are entirely uninspired offerings like No-Bake Granola Bars (hmm, bet they’re crunchy, too); jellies, or rice pudding. Maybe I’ll need to hold out for How to Cook Everything Vegan for those treats.

The first tête-à-tête with my new beau was a heated encounter in which I cooked Millet Mash, a combination of millet simmered with cauliflower florets, then puréed with roasted garlic to mimic mashed potatoes. Unfortunately, the resultant side dish, while fairly tasty, was a wee bit watery, slightly bland, and almost airy (you can see what it looked like as a side dish to a recent BBQ tempeh I made, at left–tempeh recipe to follow in the near future).  It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong; but sparks didn’t fly.   

When this first date didn’t quite live up to my expectations, I decided to seek my own satisfaction in the kitchen (hey, I’m an independent feminist) and created an original version of mock mashed potatoes.  As I was still following the Grain Drain (grain-free detox diet) at the time, I opted for a slightly different blend of ingredients.

I suspected that boiling the cauliflower with the millet had produced those waterlogged florets, so I roasted them this time.  I also discovered one forlorn parsnip in the crisper and roasted it as well, along with 2 cloves of garlic.  Finally, I puréed the resultant mash with some cooked white beans, and ended up with a mixture that was thick, creamy, and richer both in color and flavor than the original combo. Topped with a sprinkling of gomashio, this was truly an irresistible dish. 

Call me fickle, but I fell in love with that cauliflower-parsnip mash on the spot. I scooped up two servings the first night, then returned for more mash passion the next.  And then I cooked it up once more three days after that. 

Another reason to love this dish: it’s actually good for you. Cauliflower is a little-known source of vitamin C (one cup provides 91.5% of the daily requirement!) and parsnips kick in the remainder.  In addition, the white beans I used (Great Northern Beans) are an excellent source of calcium, a mineral I’m seeking these days.  All in all, this was a fabulous dish–and incredibly easy.

As for Bittman, I haven’t broken it off entirely, though I’ll admit the infatuation for my acid-green beau may have abated just a little.  Our short-lived fling wasn’t quite as disappointing as the one with Rocker Guy (he of the black leather pants), but for me, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian was a bit of a tease in the recipe department; it just didn’t provide enough exciting, novel, or foolproof recipes to snag my eternal devotion. 

Despite our rocky beginning, I’m sure we’ll remain good friends. This is still the kind of book I can rely on as a solid kitchen companion, full of serious instructions, reliable tips and honest information. At the same time, I’m keeping one eye open for the next recipe-filled rake that will really take my breath away.  

Oh, and speaking of true loves. . . Happy Father’s Day to all the loving dads out there (“Yes, we second that, Dad!“)

Cauliflower, Parsnip and Bean Mash with Gomashio

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLESE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

This recipe is easy to throw together and produces a smooth, comforting and delicious side dish.  While it does need take time to roast, you can use the extra half hour to attend to other matters, like reading some of the 996 pages in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLESE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE SHINY NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

Years ago, I visited a career counsellor to determine the profession best suited to my personality (turns out I should have been a Human Resources professional or a researcher). Part of the assessment was a test in which you enumerate your ten most prominent personality traits.  To help me decide, the counsellor suggested I ask friends or family members who knew me well for their ideas, as they’d be better able than I to assess my personality objectively. 

The trait that surfaced most often for me was “reliable.”  It took a while to get over being slightly offended by the label; I’ve since come to understand that “reliable” doesn’t necessarily equate with “stodgy, boring, predictable.”  Besides, as my HH is fond of saying, it’s just one of my “dog-like qualities.”  (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that, right, Mum?”)

Well, so far this week, “reliable” seems to characterize the foods I’ve been drawn to as well.  For the first few days of the cleanse, I found myself experiencing odd cravings (which might have been alarming if I weren’t past child-bearing age) for raw veggies and other simple, unadorned foods. Curious, since I’m not particularly enamored of salad as a rule (sort of how I feel about Dancing with the Stars: if it’s there in front of me, I can watch it and even enjoy it; but I’d never actively seek it out.)

Of course, if I stopped to think about it, I’d likely discover that a good portion of my typical dinner entrées lack grains, and I generally cook them up without another thought.  So why, now that I’m actually trying to prepare interesting dishes for the Grain Drain, do I seem to be stumped?

Enter old reliables.  You know the type: like that gay pal you had as an undergrad, your perma-date who accompanied you to every important family function or work-related event; like that pair of respectable pumps you store in pristine condition in their original shoebox, just in case you’re summoned unexpectedly to a job interview; or like your most cherished friend, the one you could call without hesitation at 11:38 PM on a weeknight after you learned that Rocker Guy (he of the black leather pants) was returning to his old girlfriend, and you needed a shoulder to cry on (thanks, Gemini I).  In the realm of food, these are my go-to salads. 

These are the salads we consume time and again, making minor adjustments depending on availability of local ingredients, what’s on hand in the kitchen, or shifting tastes as the seasons drift from one to the next. And since they are so familiar to so many of us, I thought I’d collect them here–a trio of fruits, roots and leaves (isn’t that what a panda eats?  Or is it some weird grammatical construction?).

Most of our salads in the DDD household are fairly rudimentary, tried-and-true affairs that probably appear on many of your own tables in slightly varied formats.  Tossed greens, coleslaw, three bean–they’re comfort foods you turn to when cooking feels like an onerous task, the dishes you could whip up without a recipe, the ones that over time, perhaps, become your signature dishes.  Even if they’re tweaked a bit over the years, they still retain their original essence and appeal.  These recipes are as reliable as that newspaper rolled in its heavy, scuffed elastic band, delivered to your front porch each morning; as basic as your little black dress; as comfortable as the warm sand between your toes on a sunny beach. 

First up is a standard greens-and-veggies combo.  This Greens with Hearts of Palm and Pine Nuts is the same salad that accompanied my Sweet Potato and Kasha Burgers a while back, about which some of you expressed an interest.  The colors are remarkably vivid, and for a salad that’s this easy to make, the taste is astonishing.  This is one of my all-time favorite green salads.

I also enjoyed a coleslaw that I’ve been preparing since my twenties.  Originally the recipe of my room mate’s older sister, it was the first in which I’d tasted fruit (raisins) in coleslaw, and I was instantly smitten.  In those days, I made the dressing with a combination of plain yogurt and mayonnaise, but I find that any vegan mayonnaise works just as well.  It provides a lovely tang along with the soft sweetness of chewy raisins and juicy crunch of fresh cabbage. Both refreshing and satisfying!

Finally, I mixed up a three bean salad–you know the one, the centerpiece at all those family Bar B Q’s from your childhood, the same one that occupies a huge bowl on almost every restaurant buffet.  I adapted this one from Chuck and Gurney’s 125 Best Vegan Recipes, as I couldn’t find my original (cadged from another graduate student way back during my PhD). I imagine you could substitute almost any beans you like, but for me, it wouldn’t be “classic” without kidney beans and chick peas.

These are the multiple-encore salads in our house–and you can count on a great performance from all three.

And since Salad Number 3 in the lineup is a perfect choice for Lisa and Holler’s No Croutons Required event (this month, the focus is on soups or salads with beans or legumes/pulses), I’m sending it along there as well. You can check out the roundup after the 20th of the month.

Greens with Hearts of Palm and Pine Nuts

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

 Because the vegetables here are so radiant on their own, I snapped the photo before dressing the salad.  With so many flavors coexisting in harmony here, the dressing is actually very light. And you can vary virtually every part of the salad: use your favored greens instead of the organic mixed greens; use walnuts or almonds instead of pine nuts; or artichoke hearts for hearts of palm–it all works!

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Dilly Coleslaw with Raisins and Walnuts

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

 

This is a perfect side dish for a Bar B Q or light lunch on a really hot day.  It makes a great partner to classic potato salad.  The fresh dill adds some zest to this classic salad.

 

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Classic Three Bean Salad

adapted from 125 Best Vegan Recipes by Maxine Effenson Chuck and Beth Gurney

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

 

I love the sharp pungency of the dressing in this salad.  Added fresh mint and tarragon elevates it beyond the buffet table.

 

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

 

I find it fascinating how certain ideas make the rounds in the world of food, blogging or otherwise. I’ve mentioned before about how it galls me that Mrs. Jerry Seinfeld has an over-hyped, over-acclaimed, skyrocketed-to-bestseller-status cookbook in print, all because she thought to add some vegetable purees to existing recipes (Oh. And because she’s Jerry. Seinfeld’s. Wife. Right.).  No matter that otherswriters, or, naturally, vegan chefs–have been doing this sort of thing for years (and even my little baking company has been selling carob muffins with hidden spinach in them since 2004–so there!). 

[Note to readers:  Please permit me this puerile rant.  It's January 28th, it's been snowing and way below 0 degrees C for weeks over here, and there is no end to winter in sight.  I am grumpy.  I hate ice and snow.  I have been consuming highly insalutary amounts of chocolate. But I assure you, this is just a rant. It will pass and I will be better tomorrow.] 

Well, when I was asked a while ago by VegFamily magazine to come up with a trio of chocolate desserts for Valentine’s Day, I decided to jump on this veggies-in-sweets bandwagon.  Maybe MJS has dumped some veggies into regular recipes, all full of eggs, refined flours and white sugar.  But has anyone seen vegan versions, and without wheat or refined sweeteners?  Gotcha!  And so I had my angle.  

 I had been working for some time on a brownie recipe gfbrownie2.jpg made with pureed white (navy) beans, and decided to include this in the VegFamily piece by stretching the original concept somewhat.  Then, the other morning, I took a peek at Celine’s fabulous blog and–voila!–there is a recipe for Black Bean Brownies, based on a still-earlier version from Activist Mommy.  See what I mean?  It’s that 100th monkey effect (or, in this case, 100th black bean effect. And that’s not just a lot of hot air, either.  Unless you eat too many, of course.). 

Next up, I wanted to do something really decadent, and also really romantic.  One of the most romantic desserts of all time is the Molten Chocolate Cake, so I was determined to re-create a healthier, vegetable-rich, vegan version. 

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First of all, regular molten chocolate cakes rely on lots of eggs, and the batter is only partially baked to ensure a soft, oozing, chocolatey centre.  I solved this problem by including two mixtures: one for the cake, and one for the centre, then combining before baking.  The result was a rich, gooey, warm and definitely decadent treat.  Oh, and just for fun, it has hidden zucchini and spinach in it! I’m happy to say that the result was enthusiastically “HH Approved.”  He’s even asked for them again, on the real Valentine’s Day.

The last item was a very fudgy, very peanut-buttery, chocolate-peanut butter cookie.  These were an immediate hit with Gemini I’s kids as well as my colleagues at the college.  And because they’re all used to my weirdo creations already, nobody batted an eye when I told them the cookies incorporated eggplant puree in the batter.

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I’ll be posting all three recipes on this blog after the article is published.  If you’d like to check out the recipes before then, head on over to VegFamily once their February edition is up on the site.

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