Archive for November, 2011

Thanksgiving!

We are heading to a horse ranch in Western Kentucky this year for Thanksgiving.  I am so excited to spend a few very relaxed days in a beautiful place with my family, but I think I’d better start planning ahead for our meal, because I’m fairly certain that there aren’t many health food stores in that part of the country.  So you all can start thinking about your feast-day grub too, I’d like to offer some suggestions for a bountiful, beautiful Thanksgiving meal.  To me, bounty means a variety of colors, textures and tastes and, thankfully, we still have plenty of fresh, delicious produce available to us.  The last Farmers’ Market of this season is this Saturday, so there is still time to stock up on delicious apples and pears, Winter squash, potatoes, onions, etc, etc.  I’m thinking there may even still be some yummy greens.

While I am not particularly stuck on tradition, there are certain foods that say Thanksgiving more than others to me – I guess they also just say warm, cozy, Fall…

Starters:

Five Spice Carrot Cashew Butter with hearty bread
Winter Squash Soup
French Lentil Patewith Crackers<

Main Dishes:

Savory Lentil Loaf, with or without the ketchup
Chickpea Patties and Gravy(or, roasted garbanzo beans would be a delicious protein addition to the usual TDay sides)
Layered Root Vegetable Gratin
Stuffed Winter Squash with Roasted Chickpeas or Crispy Mung Beans
Baked Tofu Cutlets

Salads and Side Dishes:

Yummy Holiday Stuffing
Roasted Vegetables
Millet Risotto Cakes
Green Bean or Vegetable Casserole
Kale and Beet Salad
Autumn Tossed Salad
Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad
Red Cabbage Salad

Desserts:

Sweet Buttercup (or any Winter squash) Tart
Carrot Cake
Raw Pear and Walnut Tart (no recipe online yet, but throw some walnuts, fresh ginger, cinnamon, and dates into a food processor to make a crust to press into a pan, then layer with sliced ripe fresh pears tossed in lemon juice, fresh ginger, and cinnamon; top with Brazil Nut Cream

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Savory Millet Risotto Cakes

There are so many bits of good news with this post!  First of all, yum.  Secondly, it’s really not risotto, but just accidentally overcooked millet, that is the basis of this recipe.  Third, since it’s just overcooked millet, it really couldn’t be any easier.  And, of course, finally, you could spice up this very, very, very basic recipe in many, many ways – with herbs and spices, with vegetables, with delicious sauces, and I’m even thinking of a sweet version with coconut butter, palm sugar, and cinnamon.

Of course, it started as an accident.  I soaked millet, then added way more water than usual, and it turned out as mush.  But, mush that was easily formed into cakes without the addition of eggs or cheese or any other binder.  Somehow this brought risotto cakes to mind.  I’ve only had risotto cakes when eating out, because of course they are just a delicious way to use leftovers and I don’t typically make risotto.  These days, since I don’t really eat dairy or eggs, I would have thought risotto cakes, which I do really like, were a thing of the past.  But, just when I was least expecting it, like leg warmers and skinny jeans, they came back upon me!  So, I decided to fry up my little millet mush patties and see what happened and was very pleasantly surprised by their crunchy outsides and creamy insides that would be so amenable to a variety of additional flavors.

While I normally cook millet by adding the grain to boiling water, in this case I’m putting the millet in cold water, then bringing it to a boil before simmering  This will make the millet even that much stickier, because it will develop the starch a bit more.

  • 1 cup millet, soaked overnight
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons ghee or olive oil, plus additional oil for pan-frying.
  • Ideas for optional additions:  caramelized onions, steamed spinach or other finely chopped greens, garlic, chopped tomatoes, fresh or dried herbs, etc.

Drain soaked millet and rinse well.  Put the millet in a small-medium saucepan with the water and salt.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.  Turn off the heat and let the millet sit for about 10 minutes covered, then remove the cover and stir in ghee or oil, and salt to taste, as well as any additional ingredients.  Season to taste.  Allow it to cool until you are able to handle it.  Once it’s cooled down a bit, take large spoonfuls and press the into balls with your hands, then flatten the into patties.  You can cook them right away or refrigerate the patties until you are ready to eat them.  Heat a skillet over medium heat, add oil, then place the patties on the hot oil and cook 3-4 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.  Eat immediately.  Enjoy!

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Aunt Ellie Beans

So, my family is no exception when it comes to the ubiquitous green bean casserole served at Thanksgiving dinners throughout the Midwest.  We call it “Aunt Ellie Beans”, because, of course, this was always Aunt Ellie’s contribution.  I have to be honest, I never ate it.  Love Aunt Ellie, but not those French Fried Onions.  Or the Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.  Ok, I actually liked those salty canned green beans.  I’ll be spending this Thanksgiving with my family and I can promise you that, though Aunt Ellie’s time on this Earth has passed, Aunt Ellie beans will be on the table.

I can’t say I’ve missed this particular dish since eschewing all of the components that make it up, but now that I think of it, and knowing that some form of it will be at our table, I’m thinking there may be some elements worth saving.  Green beans and mushrooms certainly go nicely together.  A little creaminess is a comforting aspect of any dish.  And, of course, something crunchy thrown on top never hurts!  Here’s what I’m thinking…and, by the way, feel free to add a whole array of vegetables and you’ll having something more like a pot pie.  Yum.

For the cruncy topping:

  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • sea salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup bread crumbs or small croutons

For the green bean mixture:

  • 2 cups chopped fresh cremini and portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups trimmed green beans, cut into 3 inch pieces.  I actually sliced them in half lengthwise first and, though it’s time consuming, it’s the zen kind of time-consuming and much more authentic
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, preferably soaked 4-6 hours, then rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 teaspoons tamari
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

Heat a large skillet to medium and add the thinly sliced onions for the topping.  Sprinkle with salt.  Turn heat down to medium-low and drizzle the onions with olive oil.  Leave the on the heat, stirring occasionally, until you make the rest of the dish.  Heat a large ovenproof pan over medium heat, add the mushrooms and sprinkle with sea salt.  Let cooked undisturbed until they have released their juices and then started to brown; depending on the moisture level of the mushrooms, this could take 5-10 minutes or more.  Once they start to stick to the pan, give them a stir and cook for a few minutes.  Move the mushrooms to the side of the pan, add olive oil and onions and cook until they soften and begin to brown.  Stir in the shallot and cook 3-4 minutes more.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, maybe a minute or less.  Stir in the green beans, cover, and cook on low while you make the cashew cream.  Meanwhile, turn on your broiler.  In a blender, blend the cashews, water, and tamari until very smooth.  Pour the cashew cream over the vegetable mixture and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Remove the caramelized onions for the topping and layer them over the green bean mixture.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs and place under the broiler until the bread crumbs are crisp.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

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