Monday, March 23, 2009

French Onion Soup

Finally we get to the final dish. I have been very busy with school so cooking and posting has been a challenge, but I will try and do better now that spring break is coming up. My posts will probably always come in spurts.

French Onion Soup..... I love French Onion Soup, but do not order it enough at restaurants. It is perfect for me because it is salty, cheesy, and messy. It is one of those dishes that I almost switch my order at the last second because it sounds so great.

For this dish I was able to use the last of the vegetable broth that I had made a couple of weeks before. The broth was reddish but once it was cooked with onions for a long time the color turned to what you see above. I don't remember the other ingredients that well but obviously a lot of onions and maybe some thyme or other spices. It was a basic recipe but took a little while for the broth and the flavors to come out of the onions.

The best part for me is the last step when you cover it with cheese and bread and then broil it until the top melts. This is great because it looks awesome and I can't wait to dig my spoon and get that long stretch of cheese from the bowl to my mouth.

The dish was good, just like the restaurant. A highlight of cooking for me is cooking dishes that I enjoy at restaurants and having them taste as good or better. I can check it off my list so that I do not need to order it any more because I know I can do it on my own at home.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vegetable Moussaka

We are on the fifth dish for the night, and we are finally getting to the good stuff. I had not heard of this dish before, but it sounded great and I was later told by MANTIGERBEARWOMAN that it is a a Greek/Arab dish that tends to include ground meat. Of course that was out of the question, but the dish was great.

The dish was composed a layered mixture of a sauce made of lentils and tomato sauce with additional vegetables added (onions, peppers) and slices of eggplant. It was then covered with a creamy mixture of milk, cornstarch, and butter and topped with some Parmesan cheese. Finally I baked it in the oven for about forty five minutes.

The hardest part of this recipe was frying the eggplant slices as recommended because it soaks up oil and takes a long time. I decided to bake them. I bet the difference was not that noticeable and it saved time and was more healthy.

The taste was really nice. I think if I used fresh tomatoes it may have been even better, but the cream sauce was a great compliment to the heavy vegetable flavors. To the right should be a picture of the plated meal, which like most of my dishes looks like a pile of red stuff.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Green Beans with Pine Nuts

3rd best dish of the night were green beans with pine nuts. This is sort of a classic tasty food where anything or nothing can be added to change the flavors a bit. Ms. gorgeous loves to make it with lemon and almonds.

The recipe in the cookbook called for pine nuts and paprika. Usually I can't taste paprika (maybe I need to buy some nicer stuff) and tend to use it more for the great color. This time I added a ton of it and I could taste a subtle flavor and saltiness to it. It was a nice touch.

Nothing else that special was done to the greenbeans except that were slighly boiled before pan frying. The recipe called for it and I had previously done this because I think it imparts a better texture on the greenbeans. I also used a lot of oil, too much, and will cut back on it in the future.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stuffed Mushrooms

I thought I would post the dishes from the meal in the order that I enjoyed them. The first picture is of the stuffed mushrooms above. I used two different types of mushrooms, Portobello and button. The recipe was pretty basic. I cut off the ends of the mushrooms, chopped them up with garlic and onions and fried them. Then I fried some spinach and mixed the two together. Put them into the caps (that were previously boiled for a few minutes) and then baked them in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 350. Half of the mushrooms I also added Feta cheese.

They were good though I think that there could have been a little more filling for them. I like that is was not too bready, like other stuffed mushrooms tend to turn out. Also, I preferred the Portabello mushrooms and will only use these in the future. Maybe some more vegetables mixed into the stuffing will help "fill" them out a little bit.

I forgot to take the picture when I first got them out so all you get to see are the leftovers.

Potatoes and Blueberry Sorbet

I will post about these first because I did not take any pictures of them. To start off I am not a big fan of potatoes (too much starch or something), but Ms. gorgeous said that these were especially good. The cookbook said that the temperature of the oven needed to be 425 and since everything else that we were cooking needed it to be 350, we saved these for last... sort of an after dinner treat. They took a long time to cook and after taking them out once we put them into the oven again for more time and forgot about them for a long time. A few got burnt and they were okay, but by that time I was full and not wanting anymore food. Ms. gorgeous took them to school.

The sorbet was excellent. Last fall I had a craving for making my own ice-cream so I went out and bought an ice cream maker. Recently we have been making a couple of sorbets. We use 2 cups water to one cup sugar, 1/2 what the recipe book says and it tastes great. For this sorbet we used frozen blueberries and some canned blueberries (Label on the Can - Caviar of Maine) and some lemon juice. It came out delicious.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Meal

Last Saturday, I had some time in the afternoon and we were having a few people over for dinner. Ms. gorgeous wanted me to cook up some vegetarian fare for the group so I went at it. In all we made six different dishes from this cookbook, The Vegetarian Cookbook. Each were great but can also be improved. I have some exams coming up next week so my posts may be a little infrequent but I will try to post about each dish and my thoughts.

The meal -

French Onion Soup
Stuffed Mushrooms
Roasted Potatoes
Green Bean with Pine Nuts
Vegetable Moussaka
Blueberry Sorbet

All in all a delicious meal. Each dish was pretty easy to handle making on its own but the time I gave myself (about 2.5 hours) and the number of dishes made it challenging to get them all prepared. One of the dishes, the potatoes, needed to wait to be cooked until later since I ran out of time, but in the future I would have prepped these earlier and just rewarmed them for the main meal.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Here is another example of a throw everything into a pot and out comes something delicious dish.  Easily can be made into a meat dish by adding whatever cooked meat you desire.  I searched for vegetarian chili on the web and out popped this recipe, but the premise is the following,

cut up a bunch of vegetables (green peppers, celery, carrots, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, onions, anything that you want)
open up a bunch of cans (red kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, garbanzo beans, black beans, corn, more?)
get some spices ready (salt, pepper, cumin, bay leaves, garlic, chili powder and on and on)

Fry up the onions and garlic to release their flavor
Add the spices until you see fit
Add the vegetables
Add the cans except the corn
Let simmer/boil for thirty minutes-one hour
Add the corn
Serve with condiments like cilantro or parsley

Every time chili is made it will be a little different.  I went heavy on the chili powder this time and it was good.  Slowly as you make more and more you can figure out what vegetables and spices are essential (corn for me) and what can be skipped or left out.

A super positive is that I now have about a gallon of chili for the week to eat.  Left-overs galore. 

Friday, March 6, 2009


This is a vegetarian dish for everybody.  The best part about it is if you don't like something then you get to leave it out.  Ms. gorgeous is actually the Granola maker of the family.  She learned to make it from her mother.  

Three reasons to make your own granola.

1)  It is cheaper or close to the same price as cereal.
2) You know exactly what is being put into it.  Look at the back of a cereal box sometime and see how many ingredients you do not know or understand.
3) You get to customize it for your own tastes.

Basic idea, get some oats (not quick oats) from any grocery store and throw them in a bowl. Whole foods sells it in bulk for $1.39 a pound.  Then add whatever sounds like it will taste great, some combination of dried and wet ingredients.

Dried cocunut, raisins, craisins, figs, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, apricots, cinnamon, milled flaxseed, anything. A quick note about the last two - Great for your health, and if you add flaxseed make sure it is milled.  Unmilled flaxseed just runs right through your body so the health benefits are lost.  Also, if you do not like flaxseed, who cares, all the other flavors dominate the taste and you get the health benefits.

Maple syrup (the real stuff) and honey are key for the wet ingredients.  Add one or both.

After throwing all the stuff into a bowl, stir it up so that it well mixed.  Spread it out on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at between 250-300.  It is hard to mess this up unless overcooked.  Every ten minutes or so, re-stir the granola so that it gets heated evenly.

Let is sit, and enjoy your homemade granola for a week before it is time to make more that will be completely different from the previous batch.  

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pumpkin with Bulgar

What you see on the picture above are the two major ingredients for the meal.
Bulgar (on the left) and Pumpkin (on the right). Not a lot of people (myself, for instance) are familiar with Bulgar, but since I overheard a couple of M1's discussing it and read about it in Cook's Illustrated, I felt like it needed to be cooked. Bulgar is a grain that when cooked in water (2:1 ratio Water:Bulgar) it turns into something similar to grits (according to Ms. gorgeous). On the right is one final picture of bulgar, precooked. Notice the brown color and small size.

After setting up the bulgar to cook, I began to work on the pumpkin. For the recipe I went to my main man, the minimalist, and his book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian!!! Did he have
a recipe for pumpkin? Of course he did.

Turned out to be absolutely delicious. In a large dutch oven, I pan-fried the pumpkin in corn oil to get it soft and browned on both sides. (Pumpkin, I learned, is a lot like squash). Next used the leftover oil with the pumpkin bits to cook up some onions, hot peppers, and garlic. Added some vegetable stock (homemade of course) and red wine before adding the pumpkin back into the dish.

Last step was plating the meal on-top of the bulgar. Flavors of the pumpkin dish were great with nice tomato undertone, fried pumpkin overtone, and a little bit of a bite from the peppers (I think this was the difference maker). The Bulgar added a nice base for the saucy pumpkin with its own unique flavor and texture. Ms. gorgeous and I give it a thumbs up.
Top picture is the final product with Bulgar, bottom picture is the pumpkin portion stewing (or braising).

Grand opening

Here it is folks. The people have spoken and I have responded. Supertaster, a friend of mine, posts about all the sweet items that he cooks at (check it out)... and boy do they look good. Ms. Supertaster happens to be an omnivore so he cooks as he pleases.

Ms. gorgeous is a vegetarian so I have decided to start a blog about the different vegetarian food that I cook and how the dishes turn out. We will see how it goes. Tonight, I am going to mix up a little pumpkin and bulgar. Check out the pics tomorrow.