Cook Food

a manualfesto for easy, healthy, local eating

May 20, 2010

My new favorite quick meal

I’ve never been a big fan of fried rice ordered in a restaurant, but since last week, when my roommate had a big tub of leftover rice she couldn’t finish on her own, it has become my new favorite weeknight supper.It does depend on having some slightly unusual ingredients in your pantry, but they are worth it. Or just go without. Here’s how it goes:

  • some peanut and/or untoasted sesame oil (a tablespoon or two?)
  • some garlic, minced (a tablespoon or two?)
  • some ginger, grated (a tablespoon?)
  • some cooked rice (a generous cup or maybe cup and a half for each person you want to serve)
  • many splashes of soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, and Chinese rice wine
  • some edamame (a handful or two; frozen work really well); cubed tofu, either plain or smoked/seasoned, would also be great in this
  • some green vegetable, coarsely chopped (as much as you want to eat)—I used baby bok choy one night and pea tendrils the other, and I think it would also be great with snow peas, spinach, broccoli, and pretty much any green you find at an Asian farmers market
  • 1-2 eggs, beaten with a little water (optional)
  • some toasted sesame oil (a teaspoon or less)
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or saute pan over high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly and not letting them burn.
  2. Add the rice and stir to get each grain coated with garlicy, gingery oil.
  3. Add splashes of soy, vinegar, and wine. Keep stirring.
  4. Add the edamame if they’re frozen. If not, or if you’re using tofu, you can let the rice cook alone a bit and get crispy bits before adding them. Also add more oil if you need to.
  5. Add the green vegetable and slap a lid on there for a minute or two to get things wilted/steamed.
  6. Keep stirring, being sure to scrape any crispy bits off the bottom of the pan.
  7. Make a well in the middle and add some egg. Stir  it up until you’ve got some cooked curds, then stir those into the rice and make another well, and do the same with more egg. Continue until all the egg is cooked.
  8. Turn off the heat and add some toasted sesame oil for the final bit of flavor.

If you’re using broccoli or something else that’s harder/takes longer to cook, add it in step 4 instead of 5.

Some other things to try: onions, scallions (step 1); cilantro (step 7-1/2 or 8); chili oil (step 8), sriracha (step 1 or 8 or both).

P.S. No pic of this meal, since it’s not particularly photogenic—esp on my cameraphone. I am no food stylist. Nuff said.

filed under: Recipes & Tips — Tags: , , — lisajervis @ 12:23 am

February 27, 2010

Vegan brunch: Coconut french toast

This morning I made brunch with the Quilted crew, who it just so happens built this very website. Which makes it extra fun to blog our meal.

I made french toast (recipe below) and tempeh bacon (recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s awesome Vegan Brunch). Ben made vegan pancakes and tofu scramble. Yeah. we had a lot of food. It was very, very good. There was maple syrup involved.

This is actually a picture taken of the same french toast at a different brunch.

This is actually a picture taken of the same french toast at a different brunch.

Here’s how to make the french toast:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • some (a half cup?) almond milk (you can use soy or anything else you have around if you want)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • spices of your choosing (I like 1 teaspoon of cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • a loaf of bread (can be stale or not; I like whole-grain sourdough or something with  cranberries and pumpkin seeds in it)
  • some oil (olive, canola, coconut) or non-hydrogenated margarine for the pan
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the bread and the oil in a casserole or  large, shallow bowl and mix well.
  2. Heat a skillet or griddle pan over medium-high heat and add some fat.
  3. Dip slices of bread into the mixture; make sure they are soaked through.
  4. Put them in your hot skillet. Check them after a few minutes, and every minute or so after that. Flip them when they’re browned to your liking.

You can put any number of things on top (maple syrup, fruit compote, margarine, coconut butter), or not. Delicious either way.

filed under: Recipes & Tips — Tags: , , , — lisajervis @ 10:40 pm

February 19, 2010

I’m on TV!

Ok, not TV TV. Internet TV. But still. I think it’s pretty great. I had a fantastic time shooting this video for CHOW.com. We bantered and I flubbed many lines and had to say them again, and Leslie and Eric and Blake were supernice about it all. Plus we snacked on these awesome kale chips that I promptly became obsessed with. Anyway. Go watch and learn.

filed under: Recipes & Tips — lisajervis @ 12:37 am

November 24, 2009

Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon-Mustard-Chive Dressing (aka my vegan Thanksgiving, part 4)

Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon-Mustard-Chive Dressing

This is another one that’s endlessly expandable. As with the sweet potatoes, make however much you want. I like equal amounts of each veggie, but if you like one more than the other you should weight your dish in the direction of your favorite.

It also works well at any temperature, which is another plus for the holidays.

  • 1 head cauliflower, separated into large-bite-sized florets
  • 1  bunch broccoli, separated into large-bite-sized florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • zest from half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Steam your florets by placing them, covered, in a steaming basket over boiling water, or directly in a small amount of boiling water if you don’t have a steaming basket. Pull them off the heat as soon as they are tender all the way through. Unless you are going to serve them immediately don’t try to keep them hot—on the contrary, spread them out and let all the steam escape (or even shock them in cold water, though then you’ll need to dry them off).
  2. In the meantime, thoroughly mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl or a container with a lid that you can shake to combine. Taste for balance and add more oil or mustard as needed. If you want the dressing to be more tart but you feel that the mustard flavor is string enough, add some juice form the lemon that you took the zest from.
  3. Put the veggies in a serving bowl, pour the dressing over them, and stir to combine.
filed under: Recipes & Tips — Tags: , , , — lisajervis @ 6:58 pm

Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes (aka my vegan Thanksgiving, part 3)

My friend Debbie loves this so much that she convinces me to make it several times a year. It doesn’t take much.

Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

This is even more flexible, quantity-wise, than all the other recipes I’ve posted so far. You can make it any amount, from one potato to ten or more. The key is one part maple syrup to one part olive oil, and you want enough to very generously coat your sweet potatoes and have some liquid in the bottom of the baking pan.

Also, please note: The sweet potatoes I recommend (the orange-fleshed ones) are often mislabeled “yams” in the market. They are not yams. But they are moister and more flavorful than their paler counterparts.

This is a great dish to make the day before. You can get it all ready, stick it in the fridge overnight, and bake it right before serving.

  • Some orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, cut into cubes approximately 1 inch square (peel them if you want; I don’t)
  • Some amount of maple syrup (grade B preferred—it’s got more flavor)
  • Olive oil in equal quantity to the maple syrup
  • A handful or 2 of fresh cranberries
  • Zest of anywhere from a quarter to a whole orange
  • Salt to taste
  1. Boil some salted water in a large pot. Add the sweet potatoes and boil until they are starting to get tender (anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour, depending on how many you have and how big your pot is).
  2. While the sweets are cooking, mix together the maple syrup, olive oil, and orange zest in a small bowl. Add salt to taste (and yes, this means you will taste it; keep in mind that this will be spread out over all your sweets, so it’s should be a little on the salty side tasted plain).
  3. Drain the sweet potatoes and put them in whatever size baking dish comfortably holds them all (I like to use glass, so it looks nice going straight to the table).
  4. Add the cranberries, pour the maple-oil mixture over it all, and mix well. Every last chunk of sweet potato should be well coated (and as notes above regarding quantity, there should be some oil/syrup in the bottom of the pan—if there’s not, just mix up some more).
  5. Bake at 325º, covered with foil, for half an hour (or until the sweets are cooked all the way through), stirring to baste with the syrup every ten minutes or so.

I like to use the juice from the orange in my cranberry sauce, but you could also just eat it as a snack. If you want less tartness you can replace the cranberries with some dried fruit if you like. Apricots would probably be nice, though I have never tried it. If you want more tartness, you could use lemon zest instead of orange.

filed under: Recipes & Tips — Tags: , , , — lisajervis @ 6:57 pm

November 20, 2009

Classic Sage Stuffing (aka my vegan Thanksgiving, part 2)

I love stuffing perhaps more than any other holiday dish. Which is why I have never thought of it as something that has to be stuffed into anything, especially a meaty thing. Sometimes this confuses people. To them I say: embrace the unstuffed stuffing.

Classic Sage Stuffing

Like pretty much all my recipes, this one is totally flexible; you don’t need to be exact with the quantities, and you can add or subtract ingredients as your tastes dictate.

The quantities below will generally serve about 10 people (exact yield depends on the size of your bread loaves). I sometimes make up to three times this amount. Usually I’m serving more than 10, but the main reason I make so much is really to make sure I have enough leftovers to keep me in stuffing almost long enough to get sick of it.

  • 2 loaves whole grain (or part whole grain) bread (I like a good crusty sourdough, but a hearty sandwich bread works too [purists be warned, the bread I just linked to contains a little honey]; use what works for you), cut into cubes approximately 1-inch square and left out to dry for a few days
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 7 celery ribs (extra points if they have leaves), diced a little larger than the onions
  • 1 bunch fresh sage, minced (you can use a generous tablespoon of dried sage, but it won’t be quite the same)
  • 2 cups (approximately—it’s impossible to pin this down exactly because every batch is different, moisture-wise) veggie broth (I use the stuff in a box; if you have time to make your own, more power to you)
  • some white wine (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan or, if you don’t have one big enough, a roasting pan (I set mine over two burners and it works great). Add the onions and some salt and cook, stirring every minute or so, until the onions start to soften and become translucent (about 7 minutes).
  2. Add the celery and cook for about 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the sage and cook another minute.
  4. Consider adding more salt.
  5. Add your dried bread cubes and stir thoroughly so that your aromatics and your bread are evenly mixed.
  6. Add some (about half a cup?) of the veggie broth. You want to pour a thin stream around the pan, moistening all areas and not dumping it all in there at once. Stir thoroughly, but do not mush the bread. The bread will soak up the liquid. You want moist bread, not gluey smushed bread. The key is a light touch, stirring to combine, not to meld.
  7. Add the wine if you’re using it, the same way you did with the veggie broth. (If you’re not using the wine, just add more broth.) Grind in some pepper. Stir thoroughly, keeping in mind the whole mush thing.
  8. Taste your stuffing. If you need more salt, add it. You’re also judging texture: is the stuffing still dry? Is some of it in danger of getting mushy? You’ll have to use your judgment about how much more liquid to add.
  9. Add liquid in small increments, stirring to combine, until you reach your desired texture.
  10. That’s it, you’re done. You can keep it warm in a 200º oven (covered with foil) if you need to, but there’s no need for baking.
filed under: Recipes & Tips — Tags: , , , — lisajervis @ 1:10 pm

November 17, 2009

Squash, Lentils, and Greens in Phyllo (aka my vegan Thanksgiving, part 1)

I’ve always been way into Thanksgiving. Instead of costumes, wasteful and expensive gift exchanges, or greeting-card-company-manufactured pressure to express sentiments according to the calendar rather than your own rhythm, it’s a day to hang out with people you love and eat delicious food. (Yeah, I only wish Thanksgiving were totally politically neutral like that. It’s far from it, but, well—I have to remain in some kind of denial so I can carry on with my maple-glazed sweet potatoes, ok?)

Thanksgiving didn’t become my absolute favorite activity, though, until a little more than 10 years ago, when my then-partner and I started hosting it at our house. He worked in retail, so the chance of getting time off to go anywhere was about zero, which made for a great excuse to duck out on family obligations and gather with chosen family instead.

The first many Thanksgivings I hosted weren’t vegan or even vegetarian—said partner was as obsessed with the turkey as I was with the sides. After we split, I found myself with no desire to learn how to roast a bird and a posse of veg friends who were psyched to go somewhere for the holiday where they could eat everything and not have to look at, smell, or otherwise deal with the usual meaty main event.

And so vegan Thanksgiving at my house became the new tradition. The right main dish took a little while to figure out, but years of trial (curried lentil-stuffed squash) and error (a tofu and nut loaf that I practiced for weeks beforehand but could never get to hold together and taste good at the same time) later, I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten it down. It’s pretty and special, as befits the holiday, but surprisingly unfussy to put together (don’t let the length of the recipe fool you). Plus, it’s loved by vegans and omnivores alike.

Squash, Lentils, and Greens in Phyllo

This will make two good-sized phyllo rolls, enough to feed a dozen or more people if you’re serving a lot of sides. Which you should be, because, hello, it’s Thanksgiving.

You can prepare the fillings a day or two in advance and assemble the phyllo rolls on the day-of. (They can sit for about three hours before you bake them, but more than that and sogginess can set in.)

Don’t expect the layers to stay totally separate when you slice the finished product; things will get a little crumbly. Embrace it.

  • 1 cup green French lentils (aka lentilles du Puy; don’t use a different kind of lentil—these are the only ones that won’t get mushy)
  • a bay leaf or 2
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard (optional)
  • a little red wine (optional)
  • a medium or large butternut squash
  • 1 head of garlic (you probably won’t need the whole thing, but it can’t hurt to be prepared)
  • 2 bunches kale, chard, collards, or whatever your favorite dark leafy green is (lacinto kale is my pick here, and I don’t recommend spinach—it’s got too much water)
  • 1 package frozen phyllo dough (they’re making organic whole-wheat phyllo nowadays, which is so frickin great, but if you don’t have access to a market that stocks it, just use what’s available)
  • lots of olive oil (half a cup or more total)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. The night before you’re going to cook, take the phyllo out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw. This is important; if you try to thaw it faster on the counter it will get unworkably gummy.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500º (this is to roast the squash, not cook the phyllos).
  3. Put the lentils, three cups of water, the bay leaves, and and a teaspoon or so (see the “to taste” part above) of salt in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender and most of the water has been absorbed (about half an hour). Stir in the red wine and/or mustard, if using, and simmer a bit more, uncovered, until the extra liquid has evaporated or been absorbed. Grind some pepper into it and stir again. Set aside.
  4. While the lentils are cooking, peel the squash and chop it into large chunks (between 1 and 2 inches square). Don’t worry too much about the size; you’re going to mash them later. Put the chunks on a cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan.
  5. Add about 10 garlic cloves, separated from each other but not peeled, to the cookie sheet.
  6. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the squash and garlic; sprinkle with a teaspoon or so of salt. Mush it all together with your hands. If you’re not sure how much oil to add, the squash chunks should be very shiny, but there shouldn’t be any oil pooling under them on the pan.
  7. Roast for about 17 minutes, stirring halfway through (all the chunks should be soft all the way through).
  8. If you’re going to assemble and bake the phyllo soon, turn the oven down to 350º. If you’re just prepping your fillings, turn it off—no more oven for this today.
  9. Put the squash and garlic into a mixing bowl and set them aside for a bit. When things cool down enough to handle, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their papery skins (into the bowl, duh). Grind some pepper in there, then mash the roasted garlic and squash together with a fork or a potato masher. Set aside again.
  10. Meanwhile, mince 5 or so cloves of garlic. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or sauté pan and add the garlic and about a half teaspoon of salt (I really meant it when I said “to taste,” above). Stir frequently and keep an eye on the garlic/adjust the heat as necessary. Garlic can burn fast, so be conservative.
  11. When the garlic is super-fragrant and starting to get tender and/or a little bit golden brown, add the greens. Cover and let cook, stirring every minute or so, until they are thoroughly wilted (how long will depend on what greens you’re using).
  12. If you’re prepping ahead, now is when you’d taste everything to make sure you’ve got the salt and pepper how you want it, then put everything in separate covered containers in the fridge until you’re ready to proceed. Which you would do by preheating the oven to 350º.
  13. First, set up your assembly area: clear off a few square feet of clean counter space; get yourself a quarter cup or so of olive oil in a little bowl and put your pastry brush next to it; dampen a clean dishtowel. Line up your fillings. It’s important to have everything ready, because you have to work pretty quickly with phyllo or it will dry out. If you’ve never worked with phyllo before, read the package directions as well as this recipe.
  14. Take the phyllo out of the fridge, remove it carefully from its package, unroll it onto half of your clean countertop, and keep it covered with the damp towel all the time that you are not taking a sheet of phyllo off the main pile.
  15. Take one phyllo sheet and move it to the other half of your clean countertop. Brush it lightly with olive oil all over. Try not to tear it, but don’t sweat it if you do; this stuff is delicate, and there’s a reason you’re going to use 10 sheets.
  16. Repeat the above step 9 more times. Refill your bowl of olive oil if you need to.
  17. About 4 inches in from the edge, spread a layer of lentils the short way across the phyllo. The layer should be about 4 inches long and an inch thick. Leave about two inches free of filling at each end.
  18. Do the same with the squash, and then the greens.
  19. Fold your extra 4 inches over the layers of veggies, then fold the sides (those other two inches you left clear on each end) in. Continue rolling it all up and folding the sides in as you go.
  20. Place the roll seam side down on a cookie sheet or in a baking dish.
  21. Repeat steps 15 through 20.
  22. Brush the tops of your rolls with olive oil and bake until they are golden brown on top and hot all the way through, 20 to 30 minutes (consider whether the original temperature of the fillings when judging doneness).
  23. Serve to your guests and accept their compliments graciously.

Phew. That got long, but it really is easy, trust me.

Next up: Classic Sage Stuffing, Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes, and Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon-Mustard-Chive Dressing. (As much as I dream of preparing the entire meal, I am not insane. I assign my guests to bring mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and dessert.)

filed under: Recipes & Tips — Tags: , , , — lisajervis @ 3:34 pm

October 22, 2009

Highly recommended…

Prentis Hemphill, a very smart person who guest-blogged about McDonalds and its evil ways a while back, now has his very own blog. You should read it.

filed under: Recipes & Tips — Tags: — lisajervis @ 1:31 am

October 1, 2009

Lazy Sunday frittata

Ok, I realize that it is no longer Sunday, and, in fact, quite a few days have elapsed since it was Sunday.

But I nonetheless would like to share with you my lovely lazy Sunday frittata experience.

I went with my friend Erin to the farmers market, where we purchased chard, tofu, and assorted other goodies including an amazing kind of melon that I had never heard of before.

Then we went to our friend Janet‘s house and made a chard frittata from Vegan Brunch, with roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli from Cook Food. We ate the melon while we cooked and then our friend Red came and joined us. At which point we took all our beautiful food outside and ate in the backyard.

Best. Lazy. Sunday. Brunch. Ever.

chard frittata

filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — lisajervis @ 12:44 pm

September 8, 2009

McDonald’s: deeply rooted in exploitative marketing traditions

By guest blogger P. Hemphill

Like most, I boast a certain critical, literate eye for advertising—or, at the very least, it’s hard to surprise me. It’s rare that I find myself shocked at the depths corporations will go to appeal to our lowest common denominators and our collective fears, and to co-opt our cultural aspirations. McDonald’s recently unveiled a promotional project, much more targeted and explicit than your run-of-the mill ad campaign. 365Black is McDonald’s push to further embed itself in the Black community (as if multiple franchises in every ’hood were not enough). With the trademarked phrase, “deeply rooted in the community,” McDonald’s has partnered with so-called Black cultural institutions, such as Essence, BET, and Vibe to create “job and scholarship opportunities” in exchange, one can assume, for deeper access to our demographic and a concerted effort to shift its image in our community. 365Black’s promotional pieces are peppered with several Black upper-level McDonald’s execs touting the corporation’s “diversity goals” and community initiatives. Targeted commercials have been designed especially for 365Black—one of which features young black professional types opting for McDonald’s McSkillet burritos over a home-cooked meal (though as of this posting, that ad isn’t up anymore).

Perhaps it should be noted here that heart disease remains the number-one killer of Black people. Or that Black communities disproportionately suffer from diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, and the rest. Recent and emerging scholarship is beginning to connect the dots between fast food consumption in Black communities, the lack of healthy food options, and these discouraging health statistics. Community leaders and food activists emerging from social justice sectors are making strong inroads in addressing these conditions: from developing innovative mobile groceries and cultivating community gardens, to reinventing cultural foods with an eye for health and cost. A hopeful push out of this health mess is happening and no doubt has Mickey D’s feeling a slip on their hold over the Black community, a community they’ve likely taken somewhat for granted.

Racial and culturally focused advertising is not a new phenomenon. Proctor and Gamble launched their “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign in 2007 to, in their words, “celebrate the beauty of every African-American woman” and in my words, to promote cosmetics.  And though McDonald’s isn’t doing anything unheard of in a marketing sense, the health implications to the Black community are dangerous. Cultural and corporate lines are being intentionally blurred for deeper entrenchment, the least of the concerns the actual health of Black communities. Knowing that some will hype the funneling of funds into job and scholarship programs, it invites the question: Is it enough for our communities to receive a proverbial piece of the McDonald’s philanthropic pie at the expense of our collective and individual health? I think not.

P. Hemphill currently works as the Development Strategist at the Center For Media Justice and is a board member of the Freedom Archives. He writes also for The Abolitionist, a project of Critical Resistance, on issues of political imprisonment in the U.S. He is a self-described gentle gym head who thinks often about the relationship between alienation and health.

filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — lisajervis @ 3:44 pm
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