Grapefruit & Lemon Risotto

January 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Citrus Risotto 3

I’ve had a ton of citrus around the house lately. I got a bag of grapefruits as a holiday gift, impulse purchased a bag of tangerines that I couldn’t possibly finish myself, and my boyfriend has been on a lemon-orange juice kick lately. All this citrus reminded me of a risotto I made a few years back for my mom’s birthday, and I figured I might as well embrace the citrus trend while it lasted!

I understand, you might be skeptical about grapefruit risotto, but this recipe is lovely. The grapefruit and lemon give the risotto a light and fresh quality , and the avocado complements the citrus perfectly. I ate it as a main course, but it would also make a nice side dish.

Peeled Citrus

Citrus Wedges 3

One important note before you get going: taste your grapefruit before you add it to the risotto. I made this risotto twice this week because I failed to taste my grapefruit first. The grapefruits I used in the first batch happened to be extremely bitter, and the resulting  risotto was unsalvagable. A normal amount of bitterness is fine, but if you wouldn’t eat your grapefruit raw, don’t put in the risotto! Just take a tiny taste fruit as you are removing it from the pulp, and hopefully you can avoid this predicament! « Read the rest of this entry »

Persimmon Buttermilk “Frozen Yogurt”

December 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

Persimmon Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt 8

If you are anything like me, you give yourself free reign to eat whatever desserts you please during the holidays. For me, this means cookies for breakfast, chocolates for snack, and some kind of treat with just about every meal. By the time Christmas is over, graham crackers and candied nuts are basically health food in my mind.

Once the holidays are over, I have to figure out strategy for cookie detox. At the same time, I never succeed in implementing a total ban on sweets, so I start with some semi-healthy cookie replacements.

If you find yourself in a similar predicament right around this time of year, and can still get your hands on some late-season persimmons, I cannot recommend this dessert enough. It is simple to make, and completely satisfying to eat. Though I’m still indulging in an excess of sweets at this point, this frozen persimmon delight has helped me to cut out at least a few daily chocolates.

Persimmons « Read the rest of this entry »

Spaghetti Squash Fritters

November 6, 2012 § 5 Comments

I’ve tried being a vegan exactly two times. Well, actually, I tried eating vegan for a one-week time-span on two different occasions. And neither time did I make it the entire week.

When I lived in New York, I made it 5 or 6 days. My roommate and I were both vegetarian, and we decided to take the plunge together. Our main issues were baked goods, candy, and eventually, cheese. We would spend way too much time reading candy and chocolate bar labels, sadly coming to grips with the fact that many dark chocolates still have milk in them. We would pass our favorite scone place, and all we could get was a coffee without cream. We would pack our lunches for work, substituting soy yogurt for “regular” yogurt, tofu for cheese. It took a whole lot of planning and will-power every single one of those 5 days!

And this is what eventually broke us. Well, that, and a few drinks. After 5 (maybe 6?) days of being real-life vegans, we went out out and had a few drinks on a Saturday night, and then of course we got the late night munchies. And what sounds better for a late night snack than Mexican food?! Well, let me tell you, while vegetarian Mexican food can be delicious, vegan Mexican food is another story.

So, two cheese filled, sour-cream dolloped tacos later, that was that.

My second experiment in veganism occurred in L.A. Another veggie roommate and I similarly decided to attempt a week without any dairy. (I know it seems like I’m the common thread here, but I have no recollection of provoking these experiments). Things were going well for all of two days, until Nathan downed a bag of M&M’s, and a friend made me a dinner of spaghetti squash. Even if I had really been committed to my dairy free lifestyle, it would have been difficult to turn down that squash. I was in the midst of a 9am-9pm day of classes, and a friend so thoughtfully took it upon herself to deliver me a home-cooked meal on campus: farmers’ market squash slathered in pasta sauce and cheese. Who could turn down such a mouth-watering and thoughtful gesture in the middle of a long day??

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Fall Amaranth Porridge

October 25, 2012 § 2 Comments

In my family, we have a tradition of giving fruit trees as birthday gifts. I seem to be the most consistent participant in these exchanges. I’ve been on the receiving end of a an Asian pear tree and a pomegranate tree. My mom has a persimmon tree, and I just recently gave my dad an avocado tree – we have yet to see whether avocados can really thrive in the Bay Area.

I’m not sure how this tradition developed, or how I became one of the central participants. Neither of my sisters have been on the receiving end of a tree gift! Maybe I just loved fruit more than the average kid? I know that Asian pears and pomegranates were among my favorites from a young age. Or maybe it was because I used to spend a lot of time climbing fruit trees? When I was four and five, I would spend hours and hours perched in a fig tree in front of our house. The fig tree died a few years later – hopefully not as a result of my climbing – but I’ve never forgotten how much I loved that tree.

However the tradition began, it’s a great one. There aren’t that many presents that stick around year after yea! I guess if you weren’t a fruit lover, it would be an odd gift choice, but for me, I can’t think of anything better!

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Leek and Onion Tart

October 16, 2012 § 1 Comment

This tart has been one of my go-to dishes for years. I’m not sure exactly when I first made it. I have a suspicion that it was with my friend Janina, maybe when we shared an apartment in New York. Or possibly for one of our themed dinner parties back in California, which are themed more in terms of attire (or in some cases, costume), than they are themed in menu. We like to cook all of the dishes that are most exciting to us that day, which often leads to an eclectic, but still delicious, combination of items!

Whenever it was that I first came upon this tart in The Art of Simple Food, I have not forgotten it since. I have brought it to many a pot-luck, cooked it as a Thanksgiving appetizer, and made it more than once simply to satisfy personal cravings. I’ve had friends request that I bring it to parties, and countless people ask for the recipe. And I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who didn’t like it.

Besides the enjoyment of eating this tart, the best thing about it is its simplicity. It requires only eight ingredients, and though there is a bit of waiting in the process (to let the tart dough chill, and later to bake it), the steps are all very straight-forward. I’ve stayed pretty true to the recipe over the years, with only limited alterations. My main adaptation is to use a combination of leeks and onions, instead of onions alone. I’ve also omitted the thyme – I prefer the purity of onions and leeks seasoned only with salt. Besides these alterations, you have Alice Waters to thank for this tart. When something tastes so good, you don’t want to mess around with it too much!

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Rustic Yellow Tomato Sauce

October 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Several years ago, I had one of the best summers of my life, and especially of my “adult” life. I was leaving NYC after living there for just a year, and was getting ready to settle into Berkeley. But for a few months in-between, I headed to Nevada City, CA to live with my friends, Andrea and Drew.

A little back story: Andrea was my freshman year college roommate, and it was basically friends at first sight. Drew lived just down the hall from us, and became a close friend through all the best college interactions: dorm pranks (in this case, stolen mattresses and ransom notes), extended all-you-can-eat cafeteria meals, late nights of studying, and campus yoga classes. Oh, and did I mention that Andrea and Drew are now married? Together, I think we have lived most of the college clichés you can think of!

Okay, going back to my summer in Nevada City. Drew had just started a small organic farm, and graciously allowed me to come work with him, despite my complete and utter lack any farm-related knowledge or skills. And the rest, as they say, was history.

That summer, I learned a ton about farming. I learned how hard it is, how much planning goes into every crop, and how long the days can be. I also learned how fun it can be to work outside in the dirt with friends.

I learned how much I love to swim in the river after (or in the middle of) a long day on the farm.

I learned that I love Sungold tomatoes more than any other tomatoes, but that I am allergic to tomato pollen. This is inconvenient, because when you harvest tomatoes you can always sneak a few to snack on, but if you are allergic to tomato pollen, your considerate friend Drew gives you different jobs to do on the farm.

That summer, I got to stay in a converted barn that had a full library (with an actual sliding library ladder!). And I got to sleep in the barn loft.

And I learned how to make delicious tomato sauce. When you work on a farm, there are bound to be tomatoes that over-ripen on the vine. These tomatoes can’t be sold at the farmers’ markets, but they always make the best tomato sauce, and Andrea is an expert sauce maker. On more than one occasion, we collected all of the unwanted tomatoes and made gigantic pots of tomato sauce together. These sauce-making sessions were the source of unlimited fun and deliciousness, and still serve as my inspiration every time I decide to make sauce from scratch.

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Thai Inspired Kabocha Squash Soup

October 3, 2012 § 8 Comments

It has been in the mid-eighties in the Bay Area for the past three days. Eighties in October! In sync with this crazy weather, I’ve been particularly inspired to cook and bake. I’ve been trying new recipes, re-working old recipes, and overall spending way too much time in the kitchen considering how hot it is! I’m hoping that with this squash soup I will be ready to take a (brief) rest from my stove-top hovering, at least until the weather cools down slightly.

I began perusing winter squash soup recipes about a week ago, when it was actually feeling like fall. And once I had settled on an idea, I just couldn’t wait for the temperatures to cool down.

I’ve also been impatient to use the beautiful kabocha squash that I harvested from my garden a few weeks ago. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that I didn’t actually plant this squash. I added some fresh compost to my garden back in the spring, and a tiny squash plant sprang up a few weeks later. I can take a little credit after that, because I decided not to weed it out, transplanted it, and faithfully watered it for the next several months! But I still feel like it was a little garden surprise.

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