Monday, August 8, 2011

Dusting the Ol' Blog Off. aka My Favorite Rice in the History of Rice

It has been a little over a year since I last posted. I swear I have meant to update the entire time. I still cook every night and at least once a week, I think to myself that I should write down what I am doing so I can update the blog. Alas, in the past year-ish, I have gotten married and much busier at work, and generally just don't have nearly so much time for dicking around online. These past few months I have been thinking about the blog a lot though. All of my friends have their summer gardens in full swing and the recipe requests are pretty constant. I occasionally direct people this way when I have exactly the recipe they are looking for, but I don't mention the good ol' Apartment Vegan as much as I want to, because I am so ashamed of the current state of neglect around these parts.

Enough babbling and excuse making though; let's talk about food. Specifically let's talk about making risotto.

I am not really sure where risotto got this reputation that it has as being some terribly complicated, difficult, fancy pants dish. Risotto is at heart, just the Italian preparation for rice. Yes, there are lots of Italian rice dishes that are not risotto, but in traditional Italian cuisine if someone was just going to make a dish of rice, risotto is probably what they would be making. Somehow over the years though, we 'mericans have gotten scared of making risotto. We seem to think that risotto is a delicious dish to have at a nice restaurant, but nothing we would attempt at home.

In actuality, risotto really is not difficult to make at all, but it requires two things that no one seems to want to invest in their cooking any longer, time and attention. You can't just throw some ingredients together, stick em on the stove and ignore them until they are done, if you want a nice risotto. You can make a decent rice pilaf that way, and if you were a no talent hack, you might thin that out a little and call it a risotto, but you will never have a true risotto without time and attention.

In a true risotto every grain of rice is cooked perfectly, they are tender but still have a little bite to them, yet no crunch. Every grain of rice is separate, cooked on its own, but held together in a thick, velvety stock. That stock becomes both a cooking medium, and a sauce. There are as many different risottos as there are people cooking risotto. Risotto can be made with meat, seafood, veggies, even fruits or other sweets. There is one unifying theme across all risottos though, and that is that no matter what the addition, the rice is the star.

Recipes may vary, but they all have a few things in common, and it is these things that allow the rice to cook perfectly while the delicious creamy sauce forms:
  1. When you are making risotto, you need to use a short grained rice. Arborio is what I have always been told is best, but I have had great success with other rices as well. They just need to be short grained, that you can't really work around. Longer grained rices are delicious in their own right, I won't argue that. They just don't cook as fast, or release as much starch as a short grained rice does, and that starch is really important.
  2. Before adding any liquid to the equation, you need to toast your rice in a skillet with a little oil. This going to do two things for us. First it is going to give the dish a layer of flavor that would really be missing if we just added raw rice to stock. It is also going to give each grain of rice a nice protective coating of fat. This will allow the grains to start cooking without clumping together into a big lump of rice. Because the rice grains are all cooking separately, they will cook much more evenly, and will release a lot more starch.
  3. Your cooking stock should be hot, abundant and available.
  • You need your stock kept at almost a boil, so when it is added to the rice, it is already at cooking temp. Risotto takes a bit of time to cook, and during that process you are constantly adding more stock. If the stock was cooler than the rice you are adding it to, you would have a pan that was constantly being cooled down and then heated back up, over and over again, and it would be very hard to cook the rice evenly.
  • You need quite a bit of stock for the amount of rice you are cooking. The traditional 1.5 parts water to 1 part rice equation does not apply here. Remember, this stock is going to be both cooking the rice, and forming the sauce. On top of that, a lot of the stock is going to boil off during the cooking process.
  • You need your stock to be easy to get to. Risotto absolutely hates being ignored. If you find yourself needing to leave the risotto pan unattended every time you fetch some more stock, things are probably not going to end well. My favorite way to handle stock, is to keep it in an electric kettle, in arms reach, just to the left of the stove (my right hand is my stirring hand.) If I do not have an electric kettle available, I just keep a sauce pan of stock simmering on the burner closest to the burner that my rice is cooking on.
This recipe is going to be for a fresh beet risotto, but once you get the hang of the technique, you will find that you can swap the spices and additions out as you see fit and make some really tasty dinners.

Fresh Beet Risotto

1 cup short grained rice
4 cups of weak stock (the stock will reduce a lot during cooking, and can make the dish too salty if you aren't careful. I use 3 cups worth of bullion to make 4 cups of stock. If I am making my own stock, I make it a little less salty, or thin it down a bit before using it for this recipe.)
1 cup of fresh beets, cut into 1/2" cubes (aprx. 3 beets)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp fresh minced garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp cold margarine
1 tsp dried dill weed
salt to taste

1 large skillet
1 medium sauce pan
1 long handled 1cup ladle (the size and shape of your ladle may vary, but this is my preference.)
knife, cutting board, etc...

  • Like I mentioned above, you want your stock to be very hot, just shy of a boil. I usually put it on the heat before I even start cutting veg. That way when I am ready to cook, so is the stock. I don't mind investing time in cooking right, but I hate sitting around just waiting for a pot to boil.
  • Add the olive oil to your large skillet and allow it to heat for a few moments over a low to medium flame.
  • Add the minced onion, dill and just a touch of salt (to help the onions sweat out)
  • Once the onions are starting to cook through (they will turn translucent and smell awesome) add the dry rice.
  • At this point you are going to start stirring constantly, and will not stop until the risotto is finished.
  • Once the rice starts to smell nutty/toasty, and takes on a slightly golden brown color you are ready to go.
  • Turn the heat up to med-high
  • Add the wine to the pan CAREFULLY. In a pan this hot, with this little wine, you will probably get a little flame up. That is fine though, it should flare up and then calm down pretty quickly.
  • Once the flame is out, add about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of stock. What you are shooting for is to have just enough stock that all the rice is covered, but there isn't much standing stock.
  • As the stock boils away/is absorbed continue to add just enough stock to keep the rice covered.
  • When you have gone through about half of your stock, add the chopped beets, and immediately follow them with a full ladle of stock (the extra stock will help the temp even back out from the cold veg quicker.)
  • Continue adding stock just a little at a time, just to keep the rice covered. As you continue cooking, it will become more of a sauce, so it will be harder to judge if the rice is "covered." At this point, I will judge it more by the consistency of the risotto than by whether the rice is covered or not. The end result should have a smooth creamy sauce, and should just spread out when ladled onto a plate. If the risotto keeps it's shape when ladled, it is too thick. If more than a little sauce spreads out around the rice, it is too thin. This is really a judgement call, and you will get much better at making that judgement, every time you make risotto. The idea I am getting at though, is that as the stock becomes more of a sauce, and it is harder to judge how much stock needs to be added, just think of what your end result is going to be like, and aim to keep it at that consistency throughout the rest of the cooking time.
  • When your stock is about 3/4 gone, start tasting the rice after each addition of stock. At this point it should still be under cooked, but tasting early and often is going to make it a lot easier to nail that exact moment when the rice is perfectly done. You want it to be soft, but not mush, still with a little body to it when you take a bite, but no crunch.
  • When you finally take a bite that is perfectly done, adjust the salt if necessary (you will probably need to add just a touch) and add enough stock to get that sauce just a little thicker than you think it needs to be (like I said, that will take a little experience.)
  • Remove you pan from the heat, add the margarine and stir vigorously until the risotto is nice and smooth.
  • This recipe should make 6 starter sized portions or 3 entrees

  • Don't fool yourself into thinking you can make risotto with longer grained rice. It just doesn't work. If all you have is a long grained rice, make something that calls for long grained rice.
  • Remember, practice makes perfect. Your first few batches will probably be good but less than stellar, but once you get the hang of it, they will be awesome.
  • You should have more than enough stock to get your rice to where it needs to be. If you think you are going to run out though, you can always put on another pan with a cup of water to boil. If you run out of stock at the end, it won't hurt to use a little water to carry you through.
  • Risotto doesn't like resting. Ideally this should go from the pan to the table with as little time between as you can handle. If you let the risotto sit, the rice will keep cooking and get mushy, and it will soak up all of that delicious sauce.
  • EXPERIMENT! I love all difference kinds of risotto, and will regularly use this basic recipe with different spices and add ons to make all sorts of different end dishes. Some of my favorites include sweet potato, spring pea, and walnut. Just remember, different ingredients are going to have different cook times, so you will need to experiment a little with pre-cooking and adding things at different points in the cooking process.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Pancake Day!!

Hey remember this blog? I didn't either for a while. Big things have been going on in my life, and stuff like writing had to be pushed to the side for a while. I am happy to say that stuff has settled down, and I am ready to get back to work. I recently moved out to Nevada, from Pennsylvania and am living with my girlfriend and her awesome 3 year old son. This can only be good for the cooking blog, because it means that I am making dinner every night and occasionally other meals, baking, etc... I get terribly bored if I cook the same things too often, so I am sure to be experimenting with new recipes and posting here. I already have a few first drafts that just need to be polished up and posted. Those are recipes for another day though, this is PANCAKE DAY!! What better way to get back in the saddle than on a day dedicated to one of my favorite foods.

I am a huge fan of holidays that are based around eating. This is partly because I am the Worlds Fattest Vegan™ and even more because one thing I can not get enough of is the fellowship of food. I know that sounds cheesy, but there is just something about sharing a meal with people that I care about, that I can't get enough of.

Pancake day is mainly an English thing, and is the exact same day as Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday, etc...) It started way back in the day, when the Brittish housewives would make pancakes on the day before lent, to use up their fat and rich foods. The origins aren't that important to me though. What is important, is that this is a holiday dedicated to PANCAKES! Seriously, who doesn't like pancakes? Foolish people, who don't like fun, and hate having a good time, that's who.

I have seen a lot of vegan pancake recipes, but I haven't ever found one that I really liked, so I did what I always do in such a case. I ignored the vegan recipes I had found and started looking at traditional omnivore recipes instead. I took the non-vegan recipes that I liked and used bits and pieces of different recipes, combined with vegan substitutes and a lot of trial and error. I think what I came up with in the end is pretty darn good. Unfortunately, with pancake making, the recipe is only half the battle, there is a whole lot of technique involved, so be prepared for a little trial and error, but in the end you should be able to make some pretty darn good flapjacks.

ArtieKGB's Bettermilk Pancakes

1 1/2 Cup - All Purpous Flour
2 Tbsp - White Sugar
3 1/2 Tsp - Baking Powder
1 1/2 cup - Soy Milk
1 egg worth - Powdered Egg Replacer (made with soymilk instead of water, I like Bob's Red Mill)
3 Tbsp - Melted Vegan Margerine (I like EarthBalance)
2 Tsp - Apple Cider Vinegar
Vegetable Oil

1 large mixing bowl
1 2cup graduated carafe (liquid measuring cup)
2 small dishes (like a monkey dish or something like that)
1 med frying pan (teflon coated is nice but not required)
spatula, whisk, etc...

  • Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the large mixing bowl, and whisk until evenly combined.
  • Prepare your powdered egg replacer in one small dish. Make sure you mix it really well, so there are no lumps remaining.
  • Melt the margerine in the other small dish
  • Add the soymilk and sugar to the graduated carafe and mix until the sugar is all disolved, then add the vinegar and stir a few more times.
  • Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour the milk, margerine and egg replacer in.
  • Mix for only as long as it takes to combine all the ingredients. It may look a little too thick, and kind of lumpy, but as long as there are no large dry clumps, you are all set. If you over mix it, you will work out all the leavening agents and get flatter, tougher pancakes.
  • Let the batter sit for a minute, while you heat about a Tbsp of oil in your frying pan over medium high heat.
  • Once the pan is heated, use a wadded up paper towel to wipe away excess oil. You can use this same towel to re-oil the pan between cakes if it gets too dry.
  • Add the batter to the pan in around 1/4 to 1/2 cup scoops, depending on how big you want your cakes, using the back of a serving spoon to spread the batter around into a 1/2 inch(ish) layer.
  • Watch the pancake for bubbles, when the bubbles just start to leave pock marks in the cake, it is ready to flip.
  • Let second side cook for aprx. 30 more seconds, until it is golden brown.
  • You can serve the pancakes right away, or reserve them on a cookie sheet in the oven set to the lowest temp possible.

  • Heating the pan right is going to be the biggest problem you have. If it is too hot you will burn the pancakes, if it is too cold they wont cook up right. What you want is for the bottom side of the cake to be a nice golden brown, at the same time that the bubbles start leaving pock marks in the top side of the cake. Once you figure out the right setting for your stove, you should be on the right path. Then you are just going to need to keep an eye on the cakes as you are cooking them and make small temp. adjustments as you go.
  • Remember, practice makes perfect. Your first few batches will probably be less than stellar, but once you get the hang of it, they will be awesome.
  • This recipe is awesome for adding things like fruit, chocolate chips, or other treats (I once made pancakes with broken up pieces of Ritter Sport marzipan bars) to. Just make the batter as normal, and then sprinkle your additions to on top of the cakes while the first side cooks. Make sure that larger fruit/treats are chopped up into smaller pieces and don't over crowd the cake.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting my hands dirty in the name of cheapness.

I made my weekly trip to The Italian Market for fruits and veggies on Saturday. I like to spend an afternoon each weekend at the market, making up a weekly menu as I go, and buy all the fruits and veggies that I am going to need at once. I save a lot of money this way, by getting things in bulk (i.e. I buy a bag of onions once a week, instead of an onion every day. Yes, I eat at least an onion a day) and also by catering my shopping to what is freshest and cheapest. I know that this sounds like a serious time investment that can suck up some of our already precious time off, and it kind of is, but once you get used to (and good at) it, it doesn't take too long at all. I have also found that this is one of my favorite parts of the week.

Back to my story though. I was at the market looking through all the different produce stalls, and I came across a farmer that was selling big Jersey Fresh tomatoes 5 for $1. This kind of deal is exactly why I love going to the market. Of course I did have to dig through big baskets of broken and moldy tomatoes to find good ones, but I am not above getting my hands dirty. I found 20 perfectly delicious ripe tomatoes with just a little effort, and brought them home with the rest of my weekly bounty. Why would I want 20 tomatoes that were perfectly ripe and would be bad within a few days? I'll tell you why Fresh Tomato Sauce!! If you remember, at the bottom of my tomato sauce post I included a variation for making sauce from fresh tomatoes. I believe I mentioned how this will result in face meltingly delicious sauce. I know that I already posted about this, but I figured I don't make very many picture posts, and that this is the sort of thing that is enough of a pain in the ass, that it is nice to see it done once before trying to tackle it on your own.

So then let's get started. I got home from the market, put a large stock pot of water on the stove to boil, washed my kitchen sink, and then filled it with tomatoes and cold water. I made sure to get my hands on each tomato and give it a good scrubbing with a clean dish cloth. I didn't take a picture of that step, but here is my wok (aka the largest bowl I own) with 20 nice clean tomatoes in it.

Once the tomatoes were all cleaned, I set to the task of removing all of the stem/core spots and cutting a very shallow X on the bottom of each one. I then added them to the boiling water 5 at a time, let them hang out there for 30ish seconds, and then moved them to an ice water bath for a few minutes. After the tomatoes cool, the skins are nice and easy to peel off.

The skins of my boiled enemies.

My least favorite part of the whole deal is seeding the tomatoes. It is kind of a pain in the ass, but I just put on good music and keep mentally reminding myself how good the sauce is going to be. Each tomato gets cut in half, perpendicular to the stem line. Then I use a butter knife to scoop out all of the guts.

Make sure to save all the guts so that you can strain the juice out of them, and add it back into the tomatoes. I mean you could just throw them out if you were a no good, lazy, food waster.

Once you have all the tomatoes gutted, you are going to need to chop them up. I try to chop them as small as I can without making it take forever. Once they are all chopped, I use my hands to smash them up as much as I can. This part is fun, just wash your hands, stick them in the bowl and squeeze the chopped tomatoes in your fists over and over until they are good and smashed up. This is what 20 prepared tomatoes looks like.

The hard part is now over. All you have to do is have an afternoon to commit to babysitting your sauce while it boils away. I was just reading through my original instructions and feel like there are a few things that should be added.

1. You are going to want to let the sauce come to a boil over high heat, and let it boil for about half an hour, then turn it down to med and let it simmer all damned day. Be sure to stir it occasionally.

2. If you don't like your sauce too chunky, you can wait until it is done, and then runn it through the blender.

I also took pictures of most of the cooking process, but then I decided that it is probably over kill to post them all. You all know what a diced onion looks like. Also, the picture quality isn't so great, since I didn't have my good camera with me and took all of the photos with my cell phone. If you really want to see the whole deal though, you can find them on my flickr

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Giant zucchini are good for things other than dirty jokes.

Summer is rolling along, and we are getting close to that time of year when every back yard garden and farmer's market will be full of zucchini and summer squash, some of which will be monstrous in size. These monster zucchinis were one of my favorite things when I was a kid. Part of that is because I always love eating zucchini, part of that is because a zucchini the size of a baseball bat is really cool looking, and mostly it is because my grandmother uses those huge zukes to make stuffed zucchini, which is just delicious.

A few years ago, my friends and I stumbled across some of these giant zukes at a farmers market for like a dollar a piece. I immediately ran up and grabbed one shouting, "Yo, let's stuff these mother fuckers." none of my friends had any clue what I was talking about, other than the ones that thought I was making a dirty joke. I guess I had assumed that since my grandmother made them, and they were so delicious, that everyone would make stuffed zucchini. I appear to have been wrong. My friend Pete did say that it sounded similar to a Middle Eastern dish, but I can't remember the name of it.

That day, I made it my mission to work out a vegan version of my grandma's stuffed zucchini, that I loved so much. It took a couple of shots, but I like to think that I now have it pretty much nailed. My grandmother's original version was basically sweet Italian sausage, tomatoes, and rice, topped with melted cheese and bread crumbs. I have found that you can match that pretty closely using TVP, seitan or veggie burger crumbles, with the right spices. I use TVP because it is getting really easy to find(you can get it at most grocery stores now) and it is pretty cheap. The cheese and breadcrumb topping is not essential, but is damned tasty, so if you have a hard time finding either of them vegan, just leave em out, and you will still have a fine meal.

p.s. This recipe makes like 15 servings, so make it for a party, or be prepared to eat it for a week. Either way it is tasty enough to be a success. You can cut the recipe in half and use smaller zucchinis, but I prefer the giant zukes. There isn't really a taste difference in the zucchini, but the ratio of stuffing to zuke is better balanced in the larger guys.

Grandma Davies' Stuffed Giant Zucchini (veganized)

1 - Gigantic zucchini (zukes about a foot and a half long and as big around as a softball are ideal)
2 cups - short grain rice (cooked as per the instructions on the package)
1 - 28 oz. can peeled chopped plum tomatoes, drained (I would save the liquid for veggie stock)
1 1/2 cups - Re-hydrated TVP crumbles (or 2 cups thawed frozen veggie burger crumbles)
1 - med onion, minced
10 oz. - Vegan Mozzarella, shredded (my favorites are Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet and Chicago Soy Dairy Teese)
1/4 cup vegan bread crumbs
6 - cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp - Thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp rosemary leaves
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp - cooking oil

2 - med sauce pots
1 - large cookie sheet
1 - large salad bowl
1 - food processor or blender (non-essential)
knife, cutting board, etc...

  • In a medium sauce pot, prepare the rice as per the directions on the package.
  • Put the onions, garlic, salt and oil in the other sauce pot over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  • In your blender or food processor pulse all of the spices until they are roughly broken up. If you don't have a blender or processor, just put the spices on your cutting board and chop them with a chefs knife. It will work just fine but take a lot longer.
  • Once the onions become translucent add the spices and continue to sautee for about a minute.
  • Add the TVP (or veggie burger) and tomatoes and continue to stir frequently until it comes to a boil. (This by it's self is an awesome pasta sauce.)
  • Once the rice is finished, combine the rice and sauce in your salad bowl and set aside to cool.
  • Cut your monster zuke in half length wise and trim the ends just enough to remove the stem spot. Be careful with your trimming, because we need to preserve the integrity of the vessel.
  • Using a large spoon, scoop out all the seeds and guts. I would say that you should save this for stock or compost, but it is worthless in stock, and will turn your compost into a zucchini farm, so you should just get rid of it.
  • Use a fork to poke a bunch of holes all over the inside and outside of the zucchini pieces.
  • Rub the outside of the zucchini with a little oil and arrange the two halves on the cookie sheet.
  • If the zucchini halves are unstable, use wadded up tinfoil to steady them.
  • The filling doesn't have to be all the way down to room temperature before you stuff, but you should let it cool enough to thicken up well. This will make it easier to create a nice mound.
  • Stuff each side with enough filling to make a mound about and inch and a half above the top of the vessel. (You will probably have a little leftover, maybe more depending on your zuke size. You can just eat it by it's self, or it freezes pretty well, and can be used to stuff peppers, squash flowers (now that is a recipe I might have to blog soon!) or lots of other veggies.)
  • Place the stuffed zukes into a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, testing with a fork every few minutes after you pass the 10 minute mark. The cooking time is going to change a lot based on how cool the stuffing was and how thick the zuke walls are.
  • Once the flesh is still firm, but you can poke into it without too much resistance, take them out and turn your oven up to broil, or the hottest setting it has.
  • Give each side of the zuke a nice coating of soy cheese and then an even dusting of bread crumbs.
  • Put the zukes back under the broiler and watch them closely until the cheese is nice and melty.
  • Be careful because soy cheese doesn't like to melt, so your bread crumbs might start to over brown before the cheese looks really melted. If that is the case just go ahead and take them out, they will be perfect.
Alternate Version
Don't like fake meats? Try using 1 1/2 cups dry brown lentils, prepared as per the package's instructions, in place of the TVP. It will still taste great, the rice/legume combo is a great source of protein, and it will make this dish totally gluten free.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Upcycled food

I am notoriously not into leftovers. I guess the thing is that I like cooking more than I like eating, so I would usually rather make myself something new, than eat something that is sitting in my fridge. Obviously things like work lunch and the odd super busy day at home will make me eat leftovers, but I avoid it whenever I can. This does not mean that I will not use my leftover food, but that I will not simply reheat it and eat it again. I love to use leftovers as ingredients in new food.

For example, let's talk about that Alfredo Sauce that I posted the other day. I don't usually have leftovers of my Alfredo, since people love that stuff, but when I do, I always reuse it as an ingredient in other food. Like I said in the Alfredo post, it is great on veggies, awesome to dip stuff in, and makes a fine addition to a grilled sammich. My favorite thing to do with left over Alfredo Sauce though, is make Cream of Broccoli Soup. I have always loved broccoli soup and this version is not only tasty, but super quick and easy to make.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

1 cup Vegan Alfredo Sauce (that is about half of my recipe, so if you don't have leftovers, you can just make a half batch)
2 cups Vegan Veggie Stock
1 largish carrot minced
2 stalks of celery minced
1 cup chopped broccoli (I usually just use frozen stuff since we are going to be cooking it into soup anyway.)
1 Tbsp cooking oil

1 med - large sauce pot
knife, cutting board, etc...

  • Add the carrots, celery and oil to the pot over med high heat and sautee until they start to soften
  • Add the sauce, stock and broccoli(if it is frozen, if fresh add with the carrots and celery) and bring to a simmer, try to avoid boiling (you might need to turn the heat down a little)
  • Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Once Knew a White Dog Named Alfredo

I have been on a kind of a Tex-Mex kick for a while, but if left dormant for long enough, my love or Italian Food will always show back up eventually. In particular, my love of pasta will not be denied. I swear, it's the best thing we whiteys ever stole from Asia. Considering my love of all things pasta, I figured it would be cool to start posting some non tomato based sauces to go along with my massive marinara post. I am starting with Alfredo, because pretty much every time I serve it, I get begged for the recipe. Until recently, I just told people to thicken some seasoned soymilk with flour (which is basically what I do) but I have been realizing that not everyone is going to be able to take that and run with it. So I have been paying more attention to what I am actually doing, the last few times that I made it, and this recipe is the result of that.

Alfredo sauce, as Americans know it, is really a bastardization of an Italian dish, rather than a direct translation. The Italian original was basically just cheese and pasta, with a little butter or cream to thin it out. The Americanized version is really more similar to a Mornay sauce, but this is all just my food nerdy rambling. We all are probably thinking of a very similar thing when I say Alfredo Sauce, and who cares if it is traditional, if it tastes good and we can make it vegan.

This Alfredo Recipe is awesomely thick and creamy, even in the absence of dairy, and packed full of garlic, since mostly everything I cook is packed full of garlic. If you are less into scarring vampires than I am, feel free to use less, but don't be shocked when you figure out that it is way tastier my way. I love it in the more traditional ways, i.e. on some serious, chunky pasta, but I also love it on just about everything. It kicks ass on steamed veggies, I will dip pretzels or other snack chips in it, and just the other day, I made an awesome paninni with left over Alfredo, tomatoes and mushrooms.

Alfredo Sauce

1/2 med onion, minced
1/2 head of garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 - 2 tsp salt (to taste)
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 pint(16floz) soy milk

1 - sauce pan
Knife, cutting board, etc...

  • Sautee the garlic, onion, seasoning and salt over high heat in enough oil that there is a few tbsps of loose oil in the pan.
  • Once the onions and garlic are soft and translucent, sprinkle the flour in a little at a time, the goal being to make a thin paste, not a dough.
  • turn heat down to medium and continue to cook the flour for 10ish minutes until it turns a blond/brown color
  • add the soy milk and nutritional yeast and stir constantly as the sauce thickens, until you start to see peaks and ridges stay in the surface of the sauce (or until it reaches your desired thickness.) DO NOT LET SAUCE BOIL
  • If the sauce becomes too thick, you can add a little of your pasta water to it, to thin it down, before serving.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Triumphant Return, see also: ArtieKGB Triumphs over Laziness and Procrastination, see also: Hell Yes, Chili!

So, no excuses offered. I just kind of dropped the ball mid way through my Cinco De Mayo project. I was trying to go back to that, but it is pretty out of date at this point, so I am just going to move on. Trust me, I love Mexican food enough, that I am definitely going to circle back around.

Today, I want to talk about Chili. I absolutely adore a nice hot (temp and spice) bowl of chili. I would suppose you can lump this in with one of ArtieKGB's tenets of cooking, "Tomato + garlic + fat + salt = delicious." There are no doubts about it though (unless you are a crazy person) chili is delicious.

I have been playing with my chili recipe for a few years, and it definitely caters to my preferences as far as flavors. In addition to my already stated tomato+garlic+fat fixation, I am also a huge fan of spicy food, and all things roasted and caramelized. This recipe works all of these things into one great pot of awesome. If you are lazy and in a hurry, you can skip or change a lot of the steps, but in the end, your chili will be no where near as good.

Chili the way Artie likes it


1 - 19oz can red kidney beans
2 - 19oz cans crushed tomatoes
Seranno peppers to taste, finely minced (I use 10, but I like things really spicy)
5 - cloves garlic, finely minced
1 - med yellow onion chopped
2 - zucchini cut in 1/2 inch cubes
2 - large carrots cut in 1/2 slices
1 - ear corn on the cob
1 - large bell pepper chopped
vegetable oil
1 tbsp - Salt
2 - tbsp table sugar
1 tbsp - ground cumin
2 tsps - ground oregano


1 - large sauce or stock pot
1 - cookie sheet
knife, cutting board, etc.

  • · Cut all the corn off of the cob and spread the corn and chopped bell pepper on a cookie sheet.
  • · Put the cookie sheet under a broiler and watch closely until the veggies begin to blacken. You want some solid roasting, but don't make charcoal.
  • · After removing from the broiler, set the corn and peppers aside to cool.
  • · Put the onions, garlic, serranos, oil and salt in a large sauce pan, over medium high heat, and sautee until the onions become translucent.
  • · Add the cumin and oregano and reduce the heat to med.
  • · Continue to sautee, stirring regularly until the onions have cooked out all of their water and turn a nice golden to dark brown. Be careful not to let them burn.
  • · Add the beans, zucchini, carrots, corn and bell peppers and a little more oil
  • · Continue to sautee until the veggies begin to soften
  • · Add the tomatoes and sugar
  • · Allow the chili to come back to a simmer
  • · Turn the heat down until the pot is just barely simmering
  • · Stir regularly for the next 30 minutes to an hour.

The easy but not quite as tasty way
  • · Sautee the onions, garlic, serranos until the onions are translucent
  • · Combine all ingredients in a crock pot on medium low and leave it to cook while you are at work.