I don’t really follow recipes: I mostly just look at a few, or none, and cook with what I have. I’ve been amazed at my ability, even enjoyment in following the recipes in Simply Natural Everyday, but for this summer squash soup recipe, I made a few substitutions, as is my thrifty/curious cooking way. While I kept the yellow squash, zucchini, Thai red curry paste and coconut milk, I left out the tofu “croutons” and added mushrooms instead, used lite coconut milk instead of regular (blasphemy!), almost doubled the curry paste, and threw in some extra garlic. A perfectly suitable solution to all those summer squashes, especially if you have air conditioning, a cool evening, or a kitchen table directly under a ceiling fan (like me).
Hello Friends! The March GRID magazine has hit the stands, and I encourage you to pick up a copy. I contributed a vegetarian shepard’s pie using in-season vegetables. Beautiful to look at, delicious to eat, and easily made vegan. If you’d like to make a faster recipe, skip the lentil crust – it’s just as delicious. I’m going to include the recipe below, but do your best to track down the issue, or read in online, to enjoy all the other seasonal recipes!
Winter Shepard’s Pie
2 Yukon gold potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
1/3 c. milk
1 Tbs. butter
12oz. crumbeled tempeh
2 cups water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 bay leaf
1 cup green lentils
1.5 cups water
salt and pepper
4 Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
4 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
½ cup red wine
4 carrots, diced
2 parsnips, diced
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
mushroom stock or bullion
6 oz. shredded aged sharp cheddar cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel and dice potatoes and boil in salted water until soft, about 15 minutes. Place potatoes in the bowl of your mixer. Add salt and pepper, milk, and butter and beat until smooth.
2., In a small saucepan, boil the lentils with water, salt and pepper until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
3. In a dutch oven or cast iron skillet, crumble the tempeh. Add the water, soy sauce and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and the simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic and fry until lightly brown. Add the celery and mushroom, and brown. Add the wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the tempeh, reserving the liquid and discarding the bay leaf. Add the tempeh to the vegetables. Add the herbs, salt and pepper. Add enough water or mushroom broth to the reserved liquid to make 3 cups. If you have no mushroom broth, add a cube of mushroom bullion. Whisk 2 Tbs. of flour into the broth. Add the liquid to the vegetable and tempeh, simmering until the mixture thickens slightly.
5. In a small bowl, combine the lentils and flour, stirring until the lentils are coated. Whisk the egg and oil together, then stir into the lentils. Press the lentil mixture in the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish. Cook the lentil crust in the oven for 10 minutes.
6. While the crust is baking, shred the cheese. Remove the casserole from the oven and top with the tempeh vegetable mix, followed by the chedder cheese. Evenly spread the potatoes over the top of the casserole. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges of the casserole bubble and the potatoes slightly brown.
7. Remove from the oven and let cook slightly before slicing and serving. If you wish, serve with hot sauce and additional cheese.
When the CSA arrives, I often scramble to find a way to use as many different vegetables for dinner as I can. As the week goes on, we tend to be home less, and cook even less than that, so I try to make a big dent in our produce as quickly as I can. I threw this spicy tomato tempeh from Simply in Season together for a quick dinner. Onions, bell peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, and I threw in some leftover mushrooms. Add tempeh marinated in a soy paprika sauce, a splash of balsamic vinegar, sides of rice and salad, and you have a very filling, very veggie meal.
Kate was sick. “I just want something salty and spicy and soup,” she said. I had more vegetables than I knew what to do with, so I offered to make some soup and bring it over. Spicy and salty – obviously had to been Asian influenced. And I had snap peas and carrots and mushroom and cabbage and broccoli and jalapenos – perfect for Pho. The cabbage, broccoli, snap peas, and green onions came from my CSA, the mushroom selection and tomato from the Fair Food Farmstand, and the Soy Boy tofu from Mariposa Co-op.
Late Spring Pho
5 cups homemade vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbs. chili sesame oil
1 tsp. ground white pepper
1 pound extra firm tofu, pressed
1 tsp. sesame oil
5 cremini mushrooms, sliced
5 shitake mushroom caps, sliced
1 large wood ear mushroom, sliced
1 tsp. sesame oil
8 oz. dried rice stick noodles
2 cups of napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup snap peas
1 carrot, grated or cut into matchsticks
1 head broccoli, divided into small florets
1 large tomatoes, cubed
1 jalapeno, sliced
4 greens onions, sliced
fresh cilantro, if desired
Combine broth, oil, soy, vinegar, and white pepper in a large pot. Bring to a low boil. In a separate saucepan, lightly fry the tofu cubes, and place to the side. In the same saucepan, add another teaspoon of sesame oil, and lightly fry the mushrooms. Place the rice stick noodles in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Add the shredded cabbage to the soup broth and bring back to boil. When the cabbage begins to wilt, add the snap peas and boil for one minute. Add the broccoli, carrots, tomato, mushrooms and tofu. Cook for one minute, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. Drain the noodles, now softened, and stir into the soup. Ladle into bowls and garnish with onions, jalapenos, and cilantro. Add additional chili sauce, to taste.
Fork has been on my “need to visit” list for quite awhile. It’s conveniently located right of an El stop, and they’ve been serving up delicious fresh and local food since before those became buzzwords. Opened on 3rd and Market street over ten years ago, Fork helped to begin the Old City renaissance, and served as a model for other restaurants interested in locally sourcing their food. The beautiful cookbook Forklore describes the history of Fork, and offers plenty of delicious recipes. I had the honor of hosting owner Ellen Yin at the Writers House earlier this year, and we prepared a reception spread of recipes pulled straight from the book!
The restaurant itself is modern, with a cool cement bar and warm lighting. I’d recommend a reservation, but walk-ins are offered bar seating with the same menu! I ordered the three-egg omelete, featuring branch creek farm spinach, shitake mushrooms and fontina cheese. The omelet, made from local eggs, was bursting with eggy flavor, while the ingredients sat demurely under their bright orange blanket, subtle and refined. The “home fries” were really young potatoes, boiled and delicately seasoned with fresh herbs, and the beautiful edible pansy added a bright splash of color to the plate. I’d already eaten a crusty, seeded bun before the main plate arrived, so turned out to be almost too much food! While drink prices are steep, food is very fairly priced, in a convenient location, and locally sourced! I’ll be back.
I”ve been wanting to go to this restaurant ever since I smelled the garlic wafting out the front door during my first First Friday in Philadelphia. I finally talked Senor Lanky into going with me. While it was packed, we were able to make a 9PM reservation, were seated promptly when we arrived, and were treated to great service throughout the meal.
We started with the sesame seeded baguette, with a mild, oily, white bean and garlic spread. I was starving by 9pm, so I probably gobbled more of this than I should have.
I ordered the crepine con funghi, buckwheat crepes filled with mushrooms and topped with what they call a “nutmeg sauce.” I’d call it a cream sauce, with some nutmeg. It was increadibly rich and tasty. I wanted Senor Lanky to share it with me, but he only had eyes for the crab cakes with scallops, so I had to eat most of this myself. He did, later, aknowlege that mine had been the superior appetizer.
Unfortunately, La Locanda is a little low on vegetarian options. Wanting to avoid another cream sauce (and thereby the spinach gnocchi, which looked wonderful), I order the fettucino all gntica, pasta with sauted eggplant, fresh basil, and almond bread crumbs. The eggplant was peeled and very soft, forming a sauce with the basil. This was a very comforting, if not terribly exciting dish – sort of like the mac & cheese of Italian food, perhaps?
As you can see, it was a very carb heavy meal, and with a bottle of wine, dessert was out of the question. We rolled ourselves out of the door with half of my pasta, happy. My only complaint is that the pasta courses, especially for primi, are quite expensive (around $20) and HUGE. But we liked the food and romantic yet boisterous atmosphere, and will be back.
After a long day of suit shopping for the incredibly difficult-to-fit boyfriend at Macy’s, on Thanksgiving weekend, I was in need of some immediate, delicious, comfort food. I’ve been meaning to go to La Viola for years, and, having only ever heard mostly wonderful things, had even recommended it to friends without a visit (I know, not best practices). Finally making it in for dinner myself, I was not disappointed.
We picked up a tasty Grenache at the wine and spirits store down the street, and were lucky, unfashionably early enough, to walk in without a reservation. La Viola is dim, and warm, and filled to capacity with a diverse crowd. We had to squeeze ourselves into the center of two other two-tops, but everyone was friendly and generous about getting up to let us slip by. We began the meal with a basket of very hot, very crusty homemade french bread with an balsamic vinegar, fresh rosemary and olive oil dipping bowl. I started with the Funghi Trentino – porcini shitakiand portbello mushrooms in a garlic basil and olive oil sauce.
Mushroom lover that I am, I was in heaven. The prima portion was huge enough that I was able to share, and mopped up all the delicious sauce at the end with another slice of bread, just because I couldn’t help myself.
I ordered the Gnocchi Al Filletto Di Pomodoro, a homemade spinach gnocchi with tomato basil sauce and fresh ricotta cheese. Gnocchi, delicious gnocchi.The pasta was startlingly light and pillowly, perfectly sauced, and salty ricotta chunks, sliced and eaten with every bit, added just enough bite. I finished with a dark coffee, black, and a few bites of the house tiramisu. I’m not really into dessert, but compared to the rest of the meal, dessert with only “good.”
At it’s affordable, BYOB prices, and with such delicious, comforting Italian food and impeccable service (especially in such a tight space) I understand why has loyal regulars.