Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Quick & Easy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

These are the easiest and quickest mashed potatoes you can make. This is another recipe from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook. It's also a healthier version since there's just a tiny bit of butter and there's some cauliflower added.

You just peel and chop the potatoes, chop the cauliflower, and throw them along with a little butter, milk or half-and-half, chopped garlic (as much or as little as you like), and salt and pepper into a microwave-safe dish. It only takes 8-12 minutes in the microwave, then it's ready for mashing. 

I first tried the mashing manually.

But then I decided to bring out the handblender to get it creamier faster.

The original recipe calls for adding 1/8 cup sour cream at the end. I left this out and was happy with the results.

The amounts listed below are half of that in the original recipe which states that it makes about 8 cups. Mine was enough for two, with plenty of leftovers.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
(slightly adapted from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook)

2 1/2 cups peeled & chopped potatoes
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 scant tbsp unsalted butter (scant, meaning "just barely")
1/2 cup milk or half-and-half (I used 2% milk)
4 cloves garlic, chopped (this makes it pretty garlicky)
1/4 tsp salt
pepper, to taste

Place all the ingredients in a microwave-safe dish, cover, and microwave for about 8 minutes (more or less, depending on your microwave oven) until everything is soft enough for mashing.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Recipe from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook

One of the food blogs I peruse on a regular basis is The Chubby Vegetarian (http://chubbyvegetarian.blogspot.com/). They (it's a two-person operation) do very creative things with their vegetarian recipes, often recreating traditional dishes in imaginative -- but very do-able -- ways. Many of their creations look exactly like their meaty counterparts, like sloppy Joe's, eggplant "sausages", etc. Their take on making a vegetarian diet interesting is original and inspiring. Apparently one of their favorite foods is mushrooms (mine, too) and they do some fantastic things on that front. It's worth a peek at their blog if only for the mushroom recipes.

They just published their first cookbook, The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook.  In honor of that, I thought I would take a recipe or two from the book and try it out. I've been looking for something to make with garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour and they have a recipe for Fried Chickpea Sandwich with Blue Cheese and Tomato. I'll make some slight adaptations and will note those here.
Since I didn't have vegetable broth on hand (called for by the original recipe), I just used water to cook the chickpea flour.

After cooking the flour on the stove top, spread it out into a dish and let it cool. I put it in the frig until I was ready to finish the process later.

I also made a batch of Maple Mushrooms from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook to go along as a side. Marinate the mushrooms for 20 minutes or so.

And then spread them out on a baking sheet.

Now back to the chickpea dish. Slide it out of the dish onto a cutting surface and cut it into little triangles.
I used grapeseed oil, instead of canola oil, for frying ... just because that's what I had in the pantry. I would think any neutral oil would do. I generally don't deep fry anything, in fact I never do. I don't have a proper thermometer for measuring oil temperature and I don't have the cookware for it. It's just not something I've gotten into doing myself, but I can appreciate why people do it. 
So for this recipe I used a non-stick pan and did a pan fry, using just enough oil to cover the bottom. I had some trouble getting the stove top heat just right, so there were varying degrees of browning among the batches.
Come to think of it, this was a gluten-free meal that I made with this recipe. The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook recipe is a sandwich recipe, calling for sesame buns and the additions of baby spinach, mayo, tomato, shallot, and crumbled blue cheese. I made mine a bun-less sandwich with heirloom tomato, Vidalia onion, and fresh goat cheese. To the dinner plate I added some left-over oven-roasted potatoes and the Maple Mushrooms.
It's explained in The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook that these chickpea fritters are called panelle in Sicily, but their intent with this recipe was to use them as a substitute for fried chicken in a sandwich. Since mine weren't deep fried, they turned out less crispy on the outside but there's still a contrast between the outside and the creaminess inside.
Chickpea Fritters
(adapted from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook)
1 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
2 cups water
salt & pepper
oil for frying (canola, grapeseed, etc.)
heirloom tomato
fresh goat cheese
Vidalia onion
Add 2 cups of water to a  small sauce pan. As you bring the water up slowly to a low boil, slowly add 1 cup flour and whisk continuously. Once the mixture thickens, cook at a simmer for a few minutes while stirring occasionally.
Spread the mixture evenly in a baking dish (I used a 6" x 9" glass dish). Let it cool on the counter. Once cooled, you can either cover it with plastic and store in the refrigerator or proceed with the process.
Slide the mixture out of the dish onto a cutting surface and cut it into 2-inch squares and then halve those. Heat a pan with the oil on medium heat and fry the patties in batches for about 2-4 minutes per side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Maple Mushrooms
(adapted from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook)
Note: Instead of using canola oil, soy sauce, and liquid smoke as called for in the original recipe, I used olive oil and sesame oil (again, going with what I had on hand).
1 5-oz. package of sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
pinch of salt
pepper, to taste
Whisk together all the ingredients, except the mushrooms, in a medium bowl. Toss in the mushrooms, stirring gently to coat everybody, then set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out the mushrooms from the marinade and spread them out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes (until they're beginning to brown).

Friday, August 2, 2013

Review of Village Burger (Dunwoody, GA)

There's a neighborhood burger shack (literally) tucked back in an area called Dunwoody Village, on Dunwoody Place Drive, that has gotten good reviews.  Dunwoody Village is in sore need of updating; just a little mowing of the landscaping, including the medians, would help tremendously.  So this burger joint, Village Burger, fits in perfectly with its setting, with reasonably low prices for the food and bare bones/rustic decor ... yeah, a shack. 
Their one veggie burger offering is black-bean based.  According to the menu, it comes with the in-house made VB sauce, the standard lettuce and tomato, and cheese (type?) on a whole wheat bun.  The only change to that I requested in my order was the addition of avocado.  This photo tells it all (it was a to-go order).

It was a disappointing execution of a surprisingly tasty paddy.  And, yes, presentation does matter even with take-out orders.  It had a man-handled appearance and it was full of errors -- plain ole white bun instead of wheat (veggie burgers do not belong on white bread), and no lettuce or tomato or sauce.  And the avocado slices were wedged underneath the paddy -- huh?!  Very sloppy. 
But the paddy itself was one of the better tasting black-bean burgers around.  It wasn't dry and bland, but flavorful and tender.  The hand-cut fries were better than average as well.  I would have been more perturbed if the prices weren't as reasonable as they are.  Definitely worthy of a second visit.