November 2022 COTM: I DREAM OF DINNER (SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO)

TURMERIC BLACK PEPPER TEMPEH

I have noticed that non-vegans who want to reduce their meat consumption will play around with tofu, but rarely tempeh. Even vegan cooks often don’t know how to properly prepare it. I mentioned above that the technique for the pastrami-spiced tempeh was a good one that I use often. This recipe is another example of the same technique, using different flavors. And I would say if you are tempeh-curious, make this recipe. It’s absolutely delicious, easy, and would make a great intro to tempeh.

This time the tempeh is cut into thin triangles. It is pan-fried, same as with the pastrami-spiced recipe, then you add a liquid mixture, which in this case is rice vinegar, maple syrup, turmeric, turmeric, black pepper, and salt. You simmer the fried tempeh in this until it reduces to a glaze. Meanwhile, you prepped some herbs (I used basil and cilantro, but mint would be good here as well), and seasoned them with lime juice, salt, and pepper. You serve the tempeh with the herbs over rice. There is a rice recipe included, but I didn’t make it because I had leftover basmati rice I needed to eat. We served this with the green curry cabbage from the book. We loved this tempeh. The tangy glaze offset the earthiness of the tempeh. Worth the price of the book, especially if you haven’t worked with tempeh and are looking for a solid recipe to get started.

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COCONUT-GREEN CURRY CABBAGE

I made the cabbage curry part of this recipe, but not rice/quinoa portion. You cut a cabbage into wedges, and let them sear on one side in an oiled skillet. Do this in two batches, then you flip the cabbage in the skillet and add the already seared wedges back. Over this you pour a mixture of coconut milk, green curry paste, soy sauce, and grated ginger. I’m going to say that I really didn’t want to make this as written. My inclination was to use a more traditional technique and fry the curry paste, then add the coconut milk to it. There is no reason why you can’t do this, after searing the cabbage and removing all of it to a plate. It wouldn’t dirty another pan and would improve the taste. I also didn’t see a reason to add ginger, when I knew my curry paste didn’t need it. It was homemade curry paste that I had stashed in the freezer, and I was loather to mess with it. Same goes for the soy sauce… if you are avoiding fish sauce for reasons of vegetarianism, you can use vegan fish sauce, or just salt in your curry. But I wanted to give the recipe a chance as written, so I did mix the curry paste with the coconut milk without frying it, and I did use the ginger and soy sauce. I made two changes: I didn’t use a lite soy sauce, so I used less than called for, and I didn’t use two full cans of coconut milk. That just seemed like too much, so I used one can, and I did add a little water, just enough to swish around the measuring cup and rinse it out. Reducing the coconut milk was the right choice, but adding some water was not. Even though my coconut milk was very thick, I guess the cabbage released some liquid during the braise and the sauce was thinner than I liked. Once you’ve added the coconut/curry mix to the cabbage, it goes into a hot oven to braise for about 25 minutes.

This dish is going to be highly dependent on the quality of your curry paste. Mine was homemade, and excellent. But I feel that making the changes I wanted to make (frying the paste first, using salt or vegan fish sauce, skipping the ginger) would have resulted in a better dish that making this as written. And wouldn’t have taken significantly more time! Also I’m not sure I got the point of the oven step… the cabbage could have braised just as well on the stove. But whatever. This was a fine way to use up a head of cabbage from the CSA box. Would I make it again? Maybe, but probably not. It’s just as easy to make a Thai curry the regular way, so I really didn’t get the point. Pic is upthread with the turmeric black pepper tempeh.

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WHOLE GRAINS, CHORIZO, AND DATES (ebook)
This is why I buy cookbooks–because I just don’t think of combos like this. I love the simple, substitution-encouraged approach she uses.
For my whole grain, I chose farro. I had no walnuts, so I used pecans. I had spotted this in the table of contents and picked up some Abbot’s Butcher plant-based, a brand I really like (great taste, simple ingredients). While the farro cooks, you saute the nuts and sausage (salami is another rec) in olive oil and chop dates and celery. Everything is tossed together with some sherry vinegar. A perfect fall lunch!
My farmers’ market has fresh celery at this time of year, and it is a revelation. I tossed in extra celery leaves.
farro

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EGGS w/ SMOKY SCALLION OIL, pg 49

I love the simplicity of the ingredients lists for most of these recipes. A feel ingredients, though, are all that is needed for packing a punch of complex flavor.

This recipe calls for five ingredients. Scallions, asparagus, eggs, smoked paprika, and greek yogurt. You also need salt and pepper and olive oil.

Start by thinly slicing the scallions. Set aside. Then trim asparagus and cut of any woody parts and cut in 1-inch diagonals if they are really thick. On a plate, smoosh some greek yogurt into a cloud to hold everything. Salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat up olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Throw in the asparagus and cook until blistered. Salt and pepper. Place on top of greek yogurt. ( I do it directly from skillet to plate because I like the heat loosening the yogurt a bit. If you don’t, set the spears aside until cool and then place on top of the yogurt.)

In the same pan, add more olive oil. Crack eggs into the hot oil. And cook until the edges are crispy and yet the yolk is still runny. Turn off the heat, tilt the pan toward you allowing the oil to pool, add in the scallions and smoked paprika. Stir to combine and let the oil sizzle in the oil. Spoon the oil over the eggs avoiding the yolk. Repeat until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny. Place egg on top of the asparagus spears. Drizzle oil over all the things. Or if you are like me and love scallions oil, drizzle a LOT over everything.

There are lots of egg and yogurt recipes out there. Probably because yogurt and eggs go surprisingly well together. This dish is no different. It’s tangy, smoky, and rich. The asparagus is the perfect bridge between the two rich ingredients and lightening up the whole thing to make sure it doesn’t bog down with heavy on heavy on heavy. Light is in the middle.

I would make this again.

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Looks delicious.

NOT JUST ANOTHER CHICKEN CAESAR RECIPE, pg 298

I thought this was going to be just another chicken caesar recipe even though it SAID it wasn’t. I dunno, there’s not much to play around with to elevate or single-out any particular chicken caesar salad. I mean, I guess you could change up the greens and the cheese or whatever. But in the end caesar dressings are pretty set. So is the grilled or pan-fried off or left-over chicken.

But then I read that the chicken is coated in the dressing and THEN fried off. Well, hmm, that’s not the normal technique. And maybe, just maybe, this wouldn’t be just another chicken salad. I think the jury is out on that. What I do know is that coating the chicken in caesar dressing and then pan-frying is pure GENIUS.

First, you make the dressing. This is a riff on the Julia one where you use mayo as the base so you don’t mess with a raw yolk. So, garlic and anchovies are smashed together into a paste. Put into a bowl. Throw in some parm into the bowl. Then throw in some zest of lemon. then add in mayo, SOY SAUCE, and dijon into the bowl. Mix well. The soy sauce adds saltiness and umami. It doesn’t make it taste Asian at all. And that’s it.

Take half and coat a pound of chicken and fry it off. While it’s frying, make the salad. Take the other half and toss with lettuce after you have squeezed some lemon and salted it. Romaine is traditional. but mine sucked and needed to be thrown out. So I used butter leaf. I think this salad need a heartier green and I would use something else next. It was a delicious learning point.

She gives you a recipe for making croutons. I didn’t.

I would make this again.

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Thank you! It was. And as I said, I would make it again.

HARISSA CHICKPEAS WITH FETA (p. 107)

As some of you know I love beans, and Lulu loves beans, but LLD does not. When I saw how many appealing bean recipes there are in this book I was sold. LLD happens to be away, so it is Beanapalooza around our house. And for my first COTM recipe in November, I went with this. It is SO easy, and delicious. Smash 8 garlic cloves and then cook in a medium/ovenproof skillet in some olive oil, smashing it with a spoon as it cooks. Once the garlic looks somewhat browned add double-concentrate tomato paste, cumin and harissa. I probably added more than the 1 tsp. of cumin called for, and chucked in some cayenne as well. Let this warm up and combine. Then add 2 cans of chickpeas and their juices and a couple tablespoons of capers. She says to season at this point, but with the cayenne and harissa it didn’t need pepper, and with the capers (and coming feta) it didn’t need salt. YMMV. Once this mix is at a gentle boil, add the sliced, crumbled feta and bake for 15-20 minutes. This is delicious. I served with a salad and a french roll, and it was a wonderful vegetarian meal. I’m not sure I believe it serves 4 though, as Lulu and I could have polished off the whole thing (we didn’t). We will definitely have this during another Beanapalooza.

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CUMIN BEANS WITH TOMATILLO

The author likens this to seven-layer dip. Maybe. Or something like a cross between that, nachos, and taco salad. You cut up some tomatillos (wedges she says, but I diced) and put them on a platter (I used shallow bowls) and season with salt. You toss some sliced red onion with salt and set it aside to weep and wilt. Make a dressing of lime zest, lime juice, olive oil, green hot sauce, salt & pepper. “Green hot sauce” seemed kind of vague to me. I used the green apple jalapeño hot sauce from Smith & Daughters, since I happened to have it already made. You sauté drained and rinsed canned black beans in olive oil with a hefty amount of cumin. Then you assemble the salad. Tomatillos on the bottom, with a little dressing over them. Then layer on the beans, dab some sour cream over, then red onions, more dressing, and finally top with crumbled tortilla chips. Finish with more green hot sauce. OK, I thought this needed a bit more, and the author gives some suggestions in the footnotes for additional layers. I decided to include cilantro, diced avocado, and pickled jalapeño. This is supposed to serve four. Um, no, it serves two, unless maybe your just serving it as a side for a large burrito. In our house, as a one-dish meal, it serves two. We liked this, and I would make it, or a variation on it, again. I’d mess around with the layers, because I like to mess with things, but the concept here is solid.

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SALUMI BUTTER RIGATONI (p.120)

I am thrilled to be able to tiptoe back into COTM for a sec with this dish/book, which I bought myself after a surprisingly successful month or so with the library version a couple months ago. My department is super short staffed, so work has been very busy and I haven’t been able to cook nearly as much as I would like. Tonight’s dinner, however, took me all of 20 minutes to put together, even after a long day of work!

To make this simple dish, you crisp Salumi of some sort (I used a spicy calabrese salami) in some butter, then stir in some cooked rigatoni, some pasta water + a little lemon juice until it emulsifies, then top it all with chopped parsley, lemon zest, and garlic (I stirred it in - felt simpler). All in all, this turned out great, though it was a touch salty - next time I will use less or no salt in the pasta water if I use a salty salami. But I definitely think there will be a next time - this was dead easy and so much bang for the buck. (The salami doesn’t look super crispy in the picture for some reason, but it was quite crisped and brown - I think that adds to the flavor.)

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CHICKPEAS, YOGURT & ZA’ATAR NUTS - p. 69

Page numbers will be happening from here on because I bought a hard copy of the book. This recipe had a strike against it going in, because it calls for canned chickpeas that don’t undergo any further cooking. I really don’t like chickpeas out of a can, just plain. Why anyone would put them on a salad is beyond me. Roasted with spices? I’m all for it. But plain? Please no. But it’s COTM and I decided to roll with it for this recipe. Another thing I noticed in a past recipe with a yogurt dressing is that the author makes way too much. That’s fine if it’s a dip for the side, as it was in that case, but it is not fine when she’s asking you to toss all the ingredients in it. So I made half the dressing and it was still way too much. The dressing is yogurt seasoned with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a grated garlic clove (I used the full amount of garlic). I also added some lemon zest, because if I’m squeezing a lemon, why not zest it first? Another component is chopped walnuts, which you fry in a hefty amount of olive oil with a generous amount of za’atar and some salt and pepper. I used more nuts than called for, because I don’t think there is such a thing as too many nuts on a salad. To assemble this salad, you tossed drained canned chickpeas with the dressing, then add salad greens and soft herbs (I used basil and mint) and toss it all together. And finally you stir in the nuts and their oil, and adjust seasonings.

I could tell as soon as I added the chickpeas to the dressing that it was way too much dressing my taste. I find an overabundance of a dairy-based dressing to be off-putting. I was going to use another word there. So I was pushing the chickpeas off to one side of the bowl and trying to spoon out excess dressing. Keep in mind that I made a half-recipe of the dressing to begin with, for a whole recipe of salad. I probably ended up using about 1/3 of the amount called for, and it was still more than I wanted. The salad was good though. Mr. MM really liked liked, but then he doesn’t see the proverbial sausage being made, so doesn’t come to the table irritated by a recipe that could have been better written. I did like the flavors, but still wasn’t a fan of the chickpeas. The way I would make this dish in the future is to make much less dressing, and just toss the greens and herbs with it. I would roast or pan-fry the chickpeas with za’atar similar to the nuts, and both nuts and chickpeas would go on top, rather than getting mixed into the salad.

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I’m making this for dinner tonight, and so glad I read your review. Will cut way back on the dressing.

CHICKPEAS, YOGURT, AND ZA’ATAR NUTS

I passed this by on my first go through, the name seemed so dull to me. But with a couple bean days left I figured I’d try it. So glad I did; it’s much more interesting than the name suggests. Grateful for Mel’s report, totally agree on the dressing. I made a cup of it (instead of 1 1/2) and it was still more than needed. The nuts and garlic in the dressing do a lot of the flavor work here. There is no way this serves 4. Lulu and I polished it off on our own with a roll each on the side. I’ll definitely make this again on Beanapalooza nights, maybe adding some thinly sliced celery for a bit of vegetal crunch.

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I meant to add that I used walnuts, and my herbs were cilantro and dill. I thought the dill was perfect and necessary.

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CUMIN BEANS WITH TOMATILLO

I loved this. Cut the tomatillos into bite sized pieces, and added avocado on top. Served with whole tortilla chips, not crushed, and Lulu and I scooped. There is no way this could have served more than 2 in our house.

LLD home, and the bean fun is over for a little while. The fact that this book has a full chapter of bean recipes, and that the 3 I’ve tried have been delicious and very easy to put together fills me with happiness.

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KIMCHI TEMPEH SALAD - p. 88

Another from the bean section. You make a dressing of sorts by combining a pint of kimchi with some rice vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce. You mix in celery and fresh ginger, and some tempeh that was previously broken into pieces and fried. Toss it all together and adjust seasoning. I tweaked a little by using half the amount of celery and adding in some cucumber to fill it out. Just needed to use up CSA cukes. I also added a garnish of cilantro, and served the salad over brown rice. It might be worth noting that my kimchi was from an Edward Lee recipe, and had been aging in my garage fridge for two years. So pretty ripe. Oh, and I also threw in some blister-fried peanuts, just because I thought they’d be nice in there, which they were.

We really liked this dish. Only thing I would change would be not to break the tempeh into uneven chunks as called for, but rather to cut it into cubes or even triangles like in a previous recipe. When the tempeh is broken up by hand, you get individual soybeans popping out, and they will tend to burn before the larger pieces are fully fried. Uniform pieces would just cook up better. But that’s a small quibble. If you like kimchi, this recipe is for you.

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Sorry this was a disappointment. It certainly looks good (and seems that it should have been).

BULGUR WITH RADICCHIO AND A LITTLE SAUSAGE (175)
I needed to use up the rest of my faux-rizo, but this one was meh compared to the fantastic farro-date-celery combo. You cook sausage, toss it with sesame seeds, cook bulgur, then toss together with radicchio and cucumber (I skipped the cuke but don’t think it would have made much of a difference) with a tahini-lime-honey dressing. Oh well, they can’t all be stunners. I just felt like it lacked something–I tossed in some kalamata olives.
rad

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CHICKPEA-CABBAGE TABBOULEH (81)
Now we’re back on track–this was quite good! It calls for bulgur, but I was bulgured out and used a tricolor pearl couscous. While the grain is cooking, you toast some chickpeas in the oven. I never get this technique right and failed again–mine were popping after ten minutes so I turned them off early. They were not crunchy in the salad, which I made the night before eating, but it was still good. The addition of “warm spices” did not sound appealing to me, but the zaatar alternative did.
You slice and squeeze cabbage as you would kale for salad. She calls for doing so after adding scallions, and since I was using green garlic and it was pretty pungent, I skipped that. I was worried it was going to be too funky, but time and the lemon juice tempered it perfectly. You also add some olive oil. I threw in the zest of the lemons and that was a nice addition. This was zingy and delicious, a perfect lunch!
cab tab

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OVEN QUESADILLAS - p. 72

These were certainly easy enough: you mix together some canned black beans with grated cheese, season with some oregano (I used Mexican oregano) and S&P. You grease a sheet pan, put down four tortillas, pile on the beans and cheese, top with more tortillas, oil the tops, and bake. When I put down the bean/cheese mixture, it didn’t seem cheesy enough to hold the beans in the quesadilla, so I added more cheese. It ended up being double the amount called for in the recipe, and they still weren’t overly cheesy (I used Violife vegan cheddar). Instead of greasing the sheet pan, I sprayed the bottom side of the first four tortillas with avocado oil, and then I also sprayed the tops of the closed quesadillas. I found it took a little extra time for my tortillas to get crisp in the oven. YMMV depending upon your tortillas.

These were OK. They are so simple, we both wanted more flavors in there. I served with guac, and the suggested green hot sauce. Without those additions, the quesadillas would be pretty bland. In the future, I’d be inclined to put more stuff in there. Some pickled jalapeños would be nice.

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