Okay so I know I am not the only person who reads cookbooks for fun. I talk to fun friends who also enjoy that fun pursuit. Sometimes I read cookbooks in bed. Sometimes I sit on my back deck on a beautiful day and read a nice cookbook. Sometimes I plan imaginary dinner parties based on cookbooks.
This cookbook- my new birthday edition How to Cook Everything Vegetarian- is the funnest cookbook ever. Mark Bittman is just a wonderfully… empowering cookbook writer. Every recipe involves simple techniques and lots of variations allowing for creativity. They have also introduced me to some fun new ingredients.
I have been cooking like a hippie! This is millet!
I actually bought it impulsively at a natural foods store ages ago, but seeing the recipe in HTCEV (<< I’m going to need to abbreviate the lengthy title) which also conveniently used up the fresh farmer’s market cauliflower actually got me to cook it.
You toast up the millet til golden (I will say that I used in this recipe, as in most of his recipes, less oil. People are supposed to get about two tablespoons of healthy oils a day. I’d get more if I followed all his recipes. It’s okay to be moderate!)
Cook it up with the cauliflower til the cauliflower is tender and the millet has puffed out.
Then you immersion blend and it really is the craziest thing- it totally turns into mashed potatoes. As my mother pointed out, it’d be great for someone with a potato allergy. (But let’s be real; is anyone on earth allergic to potatoes?)
But it really is. Moreover, it’s like really GOOD mashed potatoes. Like, INCREDIBLY CREAMY. Like I’d added tons and tons of butter and cream. But, I HADN’T!
This same night I had some more beautiful farmer’s market produce in the form of cabbage and green beans, so I threw together some stuff for a stir fry.
The stir fry recipe is GREAT! There’s a basic methodology and then he tells you all the other veggies you can add and at what point in the cooking process. So helpful!
Veggies all over the place. A typical kitchen tableau at my place.
Start with the base flavors- carrot, onion, ginger, garlic, celery, and also cabbage so it can cook down.
Then (high heat the whole time- I am learning not to fear the high heat so much!), the green beans.
It gets finished off with sesame oil and soy sauce.
And becomes a really rather beautiful meal. There was a colorful selection of veggies in the first place, and stir frying is such a quick cooking method that everyone retains their snappy colors! (Also their snappy textures, which I love. Al dente, baby! No mushy for me!)
Perhaps Asian-style stir fry and what for all intents and purposes tasted like rich and fluffy mashed potatoes are not the most traditional pairing, but dang this was a good meal.
I am going to need to get a lot of millet sooner rather than later, cause this mash really was totally extraordinary. Also stuck to your ribs, cause millet is a protein powerhouse!
And at the table, Sriracha- on everything- made everything great :D
Another fabulous recipe for cauliflower (I never totally know what to do with cauliflower and clearly Mark is a fan—it’s in a ton of recipes! Vair convenient for me :D)
This is a cauliflower flat omelet (basically a frittata). There aren’t any pictures from earlier in the process, since it involves heating a cast iron skillet on high, adding oil and water and veg, and immediately covering it. So the hot oil and water meant a rather lengthy smoke alarm situation, then it was covered, then I added eggs, then it was done.
Very, VERY tasty! Light and fluffy and delicious eggs, fabulous cauliflower (so much flavor from the hot cast iron! And also a ton of garlic :D)
Paired it with my peach salad- this variation with arugula- the official salad of late summer/early fall. GREAT meal.
Obviously ate more than that. My mother and I finished the whole pan :D
So I was so empowered by these wonderful cooking techniques that I decided to invent a delicious recipe of my own. Except, er, it wasn’t vegetarian.
This is just what was on my shelf. Didn’t have the veggie stuff handy.
I do actually occasionally have to remind myself that I am not a vegetarian. It’s all this vegetarian cooking! But I do not object to eating ethically treated animals and animal products on occasion.
There was still a plethora of plants present for the recipe.
Those gnarly guys? They were in part gnarly cause they’d gotten abandoned in our fridge for kind of a long time… oops. But also gnarly cause they’re one of those awesome gnarly root veggies- celeriac! Celery root! Anyone cooked with that?
Also a local was the pear and this absurdly pretty cabbage.
Here’s how this recipe went in my head- we have celery root. We also have a lot of celery, which presumably tastes like celery root, and I’m always keen to use up celery once I have bothered to buy it. Then I think about how good celery-pear soup is (check my recipes page!) Then I also thought about what a good combination pears are with cabbage (my mom makes a killer pear-cabbage slaw with honey dressing). And thus a soup was born.
Base flavor of veggies, tossed into the pot to gently saute til turning tender.
Add cabbage and pear to soften them up
Broth for slow cooking to melting tenderness
And KEY- cheese. Cheddah makes it bettah.
You can see how lovingly and professionally we store our cheese. And how we really value fancy name brand artisanal cheese in our house.
Puree puree. I am super in love with my immersion blender in the winter. Due in a large part to the fact that I am super in love with soup in the winter, because I am super in love with not being cold. Perhaps not coincidentally, I tend to acquire boyfriends as the weather starts to turn. (Happy almost-anniversary, honey!)
Soup. Big vat o’ comfort. In the winter I just want a large portion of something warm, so soup with highly low-calorie vegetables is pretty great to obtain that and keep my girlish figure.
I was highly highly pleased with this recipe I created. Subtly sweet, with a rich tang from the cheese. (Actually I just reread where I originally wrote down the recipe and I said “YUM! THIS IS THE BOMB DOT COM” so clearly it is even better than I remember. And clearly I am a 12 year old).
Soup that isn’t Vegetarian (but is great!)
2 tsp. oil
1/4 of an onion, minced
half a carrot, minced
2 large stalks celery, minced
3 celery roots, peeled and minced
1 small pear, chopped small
1/2 a small head of cabbage, thinly shredded
2 cups chicken broth
2 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
The name of the game in this recipe is GENTLE COOKING! Heat a soup pot on medium-low. Add oil, swirl. Add onion, carrot, celery, and celery root and cook until onion becomes translucent and tender, about ten minutes. Add cabbage and pear, toss ingredients around, cover the pot, and cook an additional ten minutes until cabbage has shrunk down and pear has softened. Add chicken broth and bring just to a gentle simmer. Cook about thirty minutes, or until cabbage is entirely tender. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and immersion blend the whole mixture. Mix in cheese, and blend more.