vegansaurus!

12/05/2011

Polenta Agnolotti with corn corn corn!  »

One of my favorite vegan chefs and friend of Vegansaurus, Mark Tinkleman, has started a food blog!: Semolina and Sauce. Recently, he posted about this Polenta Agnolotti (Wikipedia: “Agnolotti is a kind of ravioli typical of the Piedmont Region, made with small pieces of flattened pasta dough, folded over with a roast beef meat and vegetable stuffing.” Roast beef smost beef! Not this time, buddy!) with porcinis, quince, and frisee. 

If the title isn’t enough to attract you, Mark also offers a sort of corn manifesto sure to intrigue! I knew corn was messed up but Mark proclaims, “corn is a weapon of US imperialism.” Damn, son! My only critique for this recipe is MORE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!! Now, go make me polenta. 

06/01/2011

Guest recipe: Gnocchi with morels, peas, sorrel oil, pine nuts, and miso broth  »


When I run the world (fingers crossed), New Year’s will be on May 1
and we’ll all have off to celebrate the first farmer’s market of the year and the international struggle for a communist world. Just think about the spring greens—dandelion, stinging nettles, pea tendrils, baby mustard greens, sorrel. I know some crazy carnies (and I mean carnivores) that can just stand and chew on some fresh-cut baby kale stems and be super-happy about it. It’s an awesome time of year. We’d celebrate the whole month. While you might be sick of potatoes after winter’s doldrums, new white-fleshed potatoes can make awesome gnocchi, so here’s a very springy gnocchi recipe with a slight twist that really works. One thing to note: if you’re using frozen gnocchi, you will not boil them; instead, à la Jonathan Waxman, you’ll put them straight from the freezer into the frying pan and season with salt.

Gnocchi with morels, peas, sorrel oil, pine nuts, and miso broth
serves four to six

Ingredients
Gnocchi

2 lbs. white fleshed potatoes, new or old

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

Miso broth
1 small onion, cut in half
1 rib celery
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
4 cups water
1 Tbsp. white or yellow miso

Sorrel oil
1 bunch sorrel
¼ cup water
1 ½ cups olive oil
1 bunch early spring greens, rinsed and stemmed
4 to 12 fresh morels, cut in half (the more the merrier, although if you can’t find morels, other mushrooms work OK, like the dehydrated porcinis in the picture)
½ cup peas, shelled
½ cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin

Instructions
Miso sauce

Put the onion, celery, bay leaf, and peppercorns into a pot with the water. Simmer for 30 minutes while you make the dough. Strain.

In a small bowl, place the miso. Whisk ½ cup of the stock into the miso. Taste. Add more stock in small quantities until the flavor is still pretty strong but balanced and it has a brothy consistency.

Gnocchi
Boil the potatoes, skin-on, in heavily salted water. When they’re done, you should be able to stick a knife into the center of the potato without resistance. Try to test as few as possible and disturb the skin as little as possible. Remove the potatoes when done.
Let the potatoes cool just enough to handle. Rub the skins off. Use a tammy/strainer or a ricer to thoroughly puree the potatoes.

Mix with ¾ cup of the flour and the salt. Work the dough with your hands into a manageable ball and knead altogether for two to three minutes. As the potatoes cool they will get stickier, so move pretty fast. If the dough sticks to your fingers, work a little more flour in until it stops doing that. It shouldn’t be firm like pasta dough but it should be firm enough to hold its basic shape when you pinch off a piece.

It is a learned skill to make gnocchi dough correctly and there’s no substitute for experience in this regard. This is an approximate ratio I’ve provided, but I do suggest before you start rolling and cutting that you test one out first by dropping a piece of the dough into simmering water. If it falls apart, you need more flour in the dough.

You’ve made the dough! Pinch off jawbreaker-size pieces and roll them out into ½-inch wide snakes on a floured surface, trying not to taper the ends too much.

Line these up next to each other and with a big knife or a bench scraper cut them all into gnocchi-sized pieces. If you want to dimple or tine them, now is the time. Sprinkle them with flour and let them rest for 5 minutes. If it’s not dinnertime yet spread them out on a sheet-tray, wrap the tray in plastic and put them in the freezer.

When you’re ready to eat, put up a large pot of salted water (unless using frozen gnocchi).

Sorrel oil
Tear up the sorrel, separating it from its stems. Put all the sorrel, ¼ cup water, and olive oil into a blender and puree for a good two minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides of the blender every 30 seconds or so. Season with salt and strain.

Schav is a sorrel soup that was a springtime staple for immigrants in the early 1900s. At its most basic, it was sorrel, water and salt, but it still was so delicious that people drank it out of mugs. I could drink this sorrel oil straight, but for a good schav just reverse the oil/water ratio here. Sorrel oxidizes super-quick after it’s chopped up or pureed, turning from bright springy green to army green to gray-green. It still tastes just as good but if you want to be classy just  make this oil right before you put everything together.

The final countdown
Warm the broth in a small pot. Make sure everything for the final dish is prepped and handy. If, like me, the largest pan you have is about 10 inches, you’re going to have to finish this dish one serving at a time, so divide up your mis en place accordingly.

Drop the gnocchi into the boiling salted water. Heat a pan with oil. When the gnocchi float in the pot, put the garlic and morels into the hot pan and season them with salt and pepper. Cook for 15 seconds and then add the gnocchi to the pan, trying to spread them out so as to have one even layer. Disturb the pan as little as possible until the gnocchi start to brown on the bottom.

When the gnocchi are browning add the peas, pine nuts and greens and season them with salt and pepper as well. Toss together. Add more oil if you don’t see any on the floor of the pan. Cook for another solid minute, tossing every 15 seconds or so.

Put in the center of plates. Pour or spoon broth over the top so that it pools around the gnocchi. Drizzle the sorrel oil around the plate.  

Mark Tinkleman is committed to a radically better future for all of humanity. He is a cook by profession, was trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute, and has worked at award-winning vegan and omni restaurants in New York and Philadelphia. He lives with his beautiful partner and their cat in Philadelphia. Go Philly!

05/10/2011

Guest recipe: A professional chef’s perfect spring meal  »


I never used to like salad until I worked at
Parc. They paid way more attention to their salads than any vegan place I’ve worked at and you can tell—the dozens of hours I spent learning to cut herbs and shallots cleanly and efficiently, and then the seasoning conferences over a five-gallon bucket of sherry-shallot vinaigrette. Often a sous chef would taste each individual salad for seasoning before sending it out. There are salads on a level beyond that, too.

The crazy thing is that the difference between a sweet/greasy/goopy bowl of lettuce for two people and a great meal in salad form can be some chump change and maybe 10 to 15 minutes’ worth of work. While it is currently green almond season, I haven’t found them growing around Philadelphia, so here is a recipe for a cold spring soup and salad both using last year‘s almond crop and some of this years best baby vegetables:

Ingredients
Soup

1 clove garlic
½ lb. blanched almonds (you can either get these pre-blanched or you can do it yourself by putting raw almonds in a pot of boiling water for about two minutes, then putting them in an ice bath and rubbing the skins off.)
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
½ cup plus one Tbsp. olive oil
1 oz. of rustic bread

Vinaigrette
½ oz. slivered almonds
2 oz. olives
1/4 oz. shallots
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Tbsp. lemon juice
Tbsp. white wine vinegar (or just use more lemon juice)

Salad
1 bulb baby fennel
2 small radishes
2 baby carrots
1 big crimini mushroom
1 baby beet
1 cup small flavorful greens—arugula, pea shoots, purslane, etc.
8 leaves parsley
½ bunch chives

Instructions
We start with the soup.  

A lot of people are familiar with tomato gazpacho, a cold soup of Spanish origin. Tomatoes have only been in Europe since the 1500s, but Spain is home to another great soup served cold that predates that by a long-shot, sometimes called white gazpacho. This is an almond-based soup, creating creaminess from the delicious fats and proteins found in almonds, as well as from stale bread and olive oil which is added in. While non-dairy milks and creams are common now, they (and their close relatives like this soup) are also common throughout history, all over the world—from Chinese soy milk to Spanish almond cream, and hickory nut milk of the Creek Native Americans. One thing common to all of them is the fresher they are, the better. I’ve taken the basic soup recipe from Jose Andres’ Made in Spain where he makes it with figs and marcona almonds instead of the salad.

  • One day before making this soup, cover your almonds with 3 cups of water and let them soak overnight. Starting things a day in advance is something I really like—it’s so un-american. Because I don’t like America [.pdf].
  • The next day, bring a small pot of water to a boil and toss in your garlic. Boil for about a minute, then drain and let the garlic cool.  
  • Put the almonds with their soaking water in a blender with the garlic, sherry vinegar, olive oil and your bread. Puree until smooth, at least two minutes. I find a lot of people think that like 15 seconds in a blender is enough—maybe for your low-fat triple banana goji berry smoothie, but not for most things. Salt to taste—this recipe will take a good deal of salt so start with 2 tsp.
  • Pour this through a fine mesh sieve. At first, not much will come through. If you have a chinois you can push the liquid through. If not, instead of pushing (which will push the grainy stuff through as well) tap the side of your strainer with a spatula. The liquid will dribble through. This is the only annoying part of this recipe as it can take a good five minutes of tapping. The result will be worth it.

The vinaigrette (you can make this up to 3 days ahead):
Unlike the soup, you will want this vinaigrette to be chunky, so either use a food processor or mince these things with a knife.

  • Spread your slivered almonds on a sheet tray and toast them in the oven at 325 for about six minutes, till golden (you can do this another day in advance, too). Let them cool. Pulse them through a food processor or just crumble them in your hands. Put them in a bowl.
  • Drain (and pit if necessary) your olives and put them in the food processor until they are pretty evenly minced, scraping down the sides with a spatula if need be.  
  • Mince your shallot and juice your lemon.
  • Mix the almonds, olives, lemon juice, vinegar (if using), oil and shallots in a bowl.  Whisk together. Season with salt and pepper and adjust your oil and lemon juice/vinegar as necessary.

The salad:

  • Using a mandolin, a sharp knife, or a vegetable peeler, shave your fennel, mushroom, radish, and carrot as thin as possible while maintaining evenness.  
  • Then shave your beet, keeping it separate.  
  • Pick your parsley leaves. Mix your non-beet vegetable shavings with your parsley and greens and dress with the green olive vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste as you mix.

To finish:
Ball up one portion of salad (1 medium handful) to place in the center of each bowl  try to get some height. Pour ¾ cup of soup into each bowl, around the salad. Place 3 or 4 beet shavings on top of each portion. Mince your chives. Drizzle your soup with olive oil and sprinkle it with chives and coarse sea salt. Serve with toast or, preferably, fresh grilled bread.

Mark Tinkleman is committed to a radically better future for all of humanity. He is a cook by profession, was trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute, and has worked at award-winning vegan and omni restaurants in New York and Philadelphia. He lives with his beautiful partner and their cat in Philadelphia. Go Philly!

05/02/2011

Guest recipe: Fresh pasta handkerchiefs with mushroom sauce and really good beans  »

Or, duxelle fazzoletti with scarlet runner confit.

There are three parts to this recipe: the beans, the pasta, the mushroom sauce. Any one of them can be plucked out and used in other dishes. The beans must be started at least one day in advance. This recipe is for two people so you can adjust accordingly, but you may have extra of both the pasta dough and the beans at the end. They both keep very well. Lastly, this is largely a pantry dish but the fresh ingredients—mushrooms, rosemary, greens, onion and garlic—come through so clearly that it still feels springy. I do suggest seasoning to taste and that’s how the recipe is written, but if you‘re meticulous or don‘t know what you‘re doing, a general standard is to salt at .5 percent the weight of the ingredient.

Ingredients
1 cup large dried beans (I use scarlet runners)
½ bunch rosemary
4 cloves garlic
Approximately 2 cups olive oil
6 large crimini mushrooms (about 200g)
2 to 4 grams Dried porcini mushrooms
1 small onion
2 Tbsp. white wine, not a sweet one (get a box or a four-pack of those smaller bottles—you‘re not going to use that much so this way it keeps)
1 Tbsp. any kind of wheat flour
½ cup white wine vinegar
12 oz semolina flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill mainly ‘cause Bob seems like such a nice guy)
Salt
½ bunch greens, stemmed if necessary (I like kale or sorrel for this)
6 capers

Beans
This is a bean confit—in French confit generally means to preserve, more specifically to cook something at a low temperature covered in fat and leave it in the fat in which it was cooked. Most traditionally this method is used for dead duck cooked in the fat of all its friends and family, but more recently it’s been applied to lots of things, from artichokes to tomatoes to garlic to beans to cabbage. You may have leftover beans, and you can eat them at 2 a.m. with a spoon in the light of the refrigerator. Or on a salad, or in another pasta, or on a sandwich.

Soak your beans overnight with a bunch of salt. You cannot over salt them in this state so just put in a handful. The salt will reduce cooking time even further than just plain soaking.

The next day drain the beans and put them in a pot with enough water to cover them by about three inches and add 2 Tbps. of salt. Simmer until the beans are cooked—it could be anywhere from a half hour to an hour. Start tasting at about a half hour.
Drain the beans when they feel cooked but before they‘re falling apart. Now we will make them delicious. Put the beans in the smallest pot that will hold them all. Cover the beans with oil. This may seem like a lot of oil. It is. Fat makes delicious. Don’t quote me. Put in 4 sprigs of rosemary, 4 peeled garlic cloves, and 1 tablespoon salt. Gently stir it up.

Cover with a pot lid or aluminum foil and cook for 45 minutes at 300 degrees. Spoon one out and blow on it or let it sit in a cold place for a solid minute. When they are done they will feel luxurious in your mouth. Season the pot with 2 or more tablespoons of white wine vinegar and more salt if needed. Do this either earlier in the day or like 2 weeks ahead of time, the most important thing being that it needs to cool down in this oil to get the most out of this preparation.

Pasta
If I had to choose one food to be forced to eat every day for the rest of my life it would be pasta. It’s funny and sad that vegan options at restaurants are almost always limited to spaghetti with marinara. While some Italian traditions do use eggs in their fresh pasta, most Italian homes before WWII could not afford eggs and therefore used flour and water as their dough, like in this recipe. Keep this book in your bathroom and you will learn a lot. At home, dried pasta is one way to go, almost all of it is vegan and lots of it is awesome. But fresh pasta is a whole different creature and it only takes them about 5 minutes to make it on Iron Chef.

Take out a scale. Weigh out 250g of semolina, 2g salt, and 100g of water. If you don’t have a scale this will be about 1½ cups flour, a two-finger pinch of salt, and ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. water. I wouldn’t suggest it for this dish, but if you want a slightly richer dough, you can also add 1 Tbsp. olive oil toward the end of mixing.

Use a food processor, a Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook, or a large table and your hands. Mix the semolina and salt. Pour in the water and mix until it becomes a firm ball. Keep mixing for a few more minutes.

Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for about 45 minutes. During this time you may want to make the mushrooms.

Dust a surface with flour. Roll out large bubblegum-size pieces of the dough into 1/8th-inch flatness using a pasta machine or a rolling pin. If you want to cut neat corners do that, preferably with a pizza wheel. Then ball the scraps back up and roll them out again. Sprinkle flour over the top of the rolled-out dough and hang it up on your clothes dryer rack from target, or shower curtain rod so that they don’t stick to anything as you keep rolling out more.

You will want about 5 of these pasta sheets per plate.

Mushrooms
This is called a duxelle.

Put the mushrooms in a food processor or chop them up fine by hand. Small dice the onion or if you’re really lazy put that in the food processor, but separately from the mushrooms. Pick the leaves off a rosemary twig and chop them up too. Break up about four pieces of dried porcini mushrooms into breadcrumb-sized pieces.

Heat up a nine-inch frying pan and put 4 Tbsp. of oil in it. When that’s hot, put in the mushrooms, onion, rosemary and porcinis and season it all with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring every two minutes or so. At every point you want enough oil so that the bottom of the pan is shiny with it.

When it’s pretty dark brown, after say 10 minutes, sprinkle in 1 Tbsp. of flour. Stir it around to incorporate. This will give the final product body and make it more of a sauce  Cook for another two minutes. Pour in 2 Tbsp. of white wine. Cook until it is mostly evaporated and then remove from the heat.

To put the whole dish together, fill a large pot of water and put it over high heat. This is one more thing you can’t really over-salt; make it into the sea—just not the Dead Sea. Roughly chop five big-stemmed leaves of kale or put aside a small handful of sorrel.

When the water is boiling, heat your mushrooms back up over medium heat and drop your greens, 12 capers, and about 15 beans into the mushrooms. Lightly salt your greens. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring so that nothing sticks. Drop your pasta into the boiling water. Wait 90 seconds. Take your pasta out of the water and drop it into the mushrooms. Stir gently or flip until everything is incorporated. Serve.

Mark Tinkleman is committed to a radically better future for all of humanity where borders are replaced by bridges, religions replaced by thriving cultures, and meat and dairy are replaced by beans, nuts, grains and vegetables. He is a cook by profession, was trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute, and has worked at restaurants including Angelika Kitchen, Blossom Café, Counter, and Parc. He lives with his beautiful partner and their cat in Philadelphia. Go Philly!

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