Monday, March 21, 2011

The Case of Lemon Risotto with Leeks and Peas

One of the things I promised myself when I decided to eat vegetarian was I wasn't going to consume unappealing stuff just to avoid meat. There may be vegetarians out there (hats off to you) who stick to their principles, even if they have to restrict themselves to the bread basket (I mean the bread in the basket and not the basket itself) in a 5-star restaurant. Sorry, not that kind of chick. So every now and then I get stuck eating meat. Good thing about that scene is – I keep a reference to how non-veggie food tastes, and ensure all my vegetarian recipes compete.

Like this risotto recipe. Not a drop of chicken stock in it, but you won't miss it. I promise.

Lemon Risotto with Leeks and Peas

2 cups boiling water
2 rounded tsps (for 2 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
1 shallot, minced
3/4 cup chopped leek
2 tsps butter
1 tsp olive oil
2/3 cup Arborio rice
1/6 cup white wine
1 cup fresh (or frozen) peas
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/6 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp (plus a little more to garnish) grated lemon rind

Prepare a bouillon with the water and vegetable bouillon powder. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the shallot and leek in the butter and olive oil for 2 min. Add the rice and sauté for 5 min. Add the white wine and stir until it's nearly absorbed. Add 1/3 cup of the bouillon and stir and continue to simmer until liquid is nearly absorbed. Continue adding 1/3 cupfuls of the bouillon and stirring. With the last addition of the bouillon, add the peas. Add 1/3 cupfuls of water if needed, and stir and simmer for a total of 25 min. or until the rice is creamy and firm but not hard. Stir in the lemon juice, Parmesan and 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Plate, and sprinkle with a little more grated lemon rind. Serves 2.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Case of Tomato Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato Goat Cheese Tart

1 cup spelt flour
1 tsp sugar
3/8 tsp salt (divided)
1/3 cup butter, chopped
4 tsps vinegar
3 eggs
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup evaporated 2% milk
1/4 tsp pepper
5 oz goat cheese
1 green onion, chopped
4 Roma tomatoes, quartered lengthwise, with cores and seeds removed

Grease a 9" round pan, one with a removable ring. Mix together the spelt flour, sugar and 1/8 tsp salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add the vinegar and work until a ball forms. You may need to add a tsp of water. Press the dough over the bottom and slightly up the ring of the pan, and refrigerate for 30 min. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Mash the goat cheese in a bowl. Whisk the eggs, then whisk in the 2% milk, 2% evaporated milk, 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper. Gradually combine the egg mixture with the goat cheese, not worrying about lumps. Fan the tomatoes on top of the crust in a circular pattern. Pour on the egg mixture. Evenly distribute the green onion. Bake on a lower rack for 50 min. Let stand 15 min. Set the tart on a serving dish, then remove the ring from the pan – ta-da! Serves 4.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Case of Eggs Florentine

Living vegetarian is particularly challenging for anyone who wasn't born into it. Unlike those deeded a virtual treasure trove of vegetarian recipes, veggie newcomers must forge a new path by adapting foods familiar to them, and adopting dishes exotic to their experience. It's both a grand experiment and an exciting adventure. 

Luckily, many vegetarian alternatives have become commonplace, such as Eggs Florentine, an adaptation of Eggs Benedict. Eggs Florentine substitutes spinach for ham.

The gourmet way to make this dish would be to make an exquisite Hollandaise from scratch. Maybe someday. But because I currently find it hard to toast English muffins, sauté spinach, poach eggs, and prepare Hollandaise, and have them all ready to assemble at the same time, the Becki Green way to make Eggs Florentine is to cheat. On top of that, I greatly reduce the amount of butter, compared to what's recommended on the packet, because given the choice of a teeny blob of high-fat Hollandaise, or a generous stream of less fat-laden but equally delicious Hollandaise, I choose the latter.

Eggs Florentine

1 packet Hollandaise sauce mix (Knorr is good)
1 tsp butter
2% milk or water according to package directions, plus a little more to replace most of the butter
2 English muffins
4 eggs
10 oz baby spinach
1 tbsp olive oil

Poach the eggs. Prepare the Hollandaise sauce mix, using just the 1 tsp butter, 2% milk or water, and several pinches of salt (to replace salt lost with the butter). Split and toast the English muffins. Lightly sauté the baby spinach in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Assemble on plates – muffin halves, spinach, eggs, sauce. Dust with paprika. Serves 2.