Sunday, September 02, 2007

food for hot days

being kids at the apple orchard

My friend Sharon flew back to France today. It's difficult when one of your best friends lives an ocean away (actually, most of my best friends live 100's or 1000's of miles from me- what the hell?) but I'm glad we got to spend some time together when she came up to Syracuse last week.

Here's some of the food that we ate during Sharon and Dorota's visit that I remembered to photograph... so many other great things such as stuffed eggplants, pancakes, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin oatmeal cookies shall survive, unphotographed, in our memories!

The day they arrived was a really hot one, and I knew that after driving for a few hours, they wouldn't want anything hot or heavy. My solution? Three types of hummus: regular, roasted red pepper, and a raw zucchini one (clockwise from left in the above photo). The zucchini hummus was very delicious, but I wish I could have figured out a way to make it a bit thicker. I like my hummus nice and thick, this way, it's perfect as a sandwich filling too. Everyone raved about it, though, so I'll be making it again.

Here is the hummus in breakfast form: served with sliced veggies (cucumbers, daikon, tomatoes, olives, and fresh tarragon) and some fresh-baked pita. We buy our pita bread from a local Egyptian market called Jerusalem, where they bake them every day. You can get white or whole wheat, and they are magnificent.

Sushi dinner. Daiku, Dorota, Sharon, and I had great fun rolling these with various fillings. I used some of the leftover veggies to make a salad, and we also had cold soba noodles in a ginger/sesame broth on the side. Another hot weather winner.

Finally, we have a French Farmhouse Fricassee, courtesy of this website. I'd been looking for recipes using tarragon, which is one of my all-time favorite herbs, since I'd picked up a big bunch to make Melody's tester salad dressing. This is a crockpot recipe that will make your house fragrant all day long as it cooks, without generating any heat. We used tempeh, and loved the result, but I'd suggest cutting the tempeh into smaller pieces than the recipe suggests, so it can better soak up the flavors.

Here's the recipe:

Adapted from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, by Robin Robertson (Harvard Common Press, 2004).
Fricassees are usually made with meat, but this stick-to-your-ribs recipe uses tempeh, seitan, or tofu along with slow-cooked early-autumn vegetables, shallots, and white wine to make a fragrant stew that warms the senses and the soul.
No fine mincing required: the veggies are chunky, and the recipe practically makes itself whether you use a slow-cooker or not. Imagine your kitchen filling with the appetizing fragrance of a French farmhouse!


2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, quartered
1/2 cup dry white wine
12 ounces tempeh, seitan, or extra-firm tofu cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (we used tempeh)
8 ounces baby carrots, halved lengthwise
8 ounces small red potatoes, halved (we used white potatoes)
8 ounces green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (we used yellow wax beans)
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon or parsley leaves (we used tarragon, including a bit in the cooking as well as at the end)

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute to reduce slightly. Transfer the shallot mixture to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, or a large heavy-bottomed soup pot.

2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the seitan, tempeh, or tofu and cook until lightly browned on both sides, about 10 minutes, then add to the slow cooker along with the carrots, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, and stock; season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, cover, and cook on Low for 8 hours if using slow cooker. If using stovetop, heat to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 35-40 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

3. Just before serving, stir in the tarragon or parsley.

Serves 4.

* * *

Sharon, if you're reading this, we miss you!

One year ago today: what I was blogging about on 2 September 2006 (gasp! was the tART contest really 1 year ago??)



Katie said...

Hey, thanks so much for your comment :o)... I've actually been looking at your blog for a few months. All your food looks so good-- I wish I could take it off the screen!

Anonymous said...

i love your table, and the food is just beautiful!!

urban vegan said...

I can't beleive that contest was a year ago either--time flies when you're having fun.

I made a zucchni hummus about a month ago. It was a bit watery--I guess you could add nutritional yeast. That wouldn't compete with the flavor.

Sorry your friend had to go back to France--but it's good to have a good friend in France ;) I'm glad you had such a nice time together.

Bonne nuit, ma copine.

Anonymous said...

raw zucchini hummus sounds awesome! you have such a beautiful plate for all those sushi rolls...

Jackie said...

I am giving you the "Creative Blogger Award" for being a blog I love to read. The graphic is on my blog :)

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of a Fricassee but this recipe sounds simple and delicious. I too love tarragon but I have a hard time finding it fresh (really, the only way it should ever be used). I think I might try growing it next year.

VeggieGirl said...

haha! I love that picture of you guys :0)

the hummus looks AMAZING; and I'm intrigued by that Fricassee recipe (since I've never heard of it before, haha - sounds good though).

I hope your friend Sharon had a lovely time visiting!

SaraJane said...

That recipe sounds amazing. I love tarragon, too. I'm always trying to find new things to cook with it. Somehow I always end up pairing it with tempeh also.

Peggy the Veggie said...

Mmm, those hummus all look verrry yummy... I've got some chickpea kicking around in the pantry, so thanks for the inspiration!

We get fresh pita bread from a Lebanese place in town, too. :) The bag always makes me laugh because it says 'The World's Best Pita Bread'. Is it really? But pita is definitely best when you know it's been baked just that day!

The Fricassee looks so yummy and comforting.

aTxVegn said...

The hummus and sushi look wonderful, Bazu, and that fricassee sounds great. I love when the house smells like dinner all day long.

I can only think of one place in town relatively closeby to get fresh pitas, but I can fresh tortillas from nearly every store in town!

Pink Theory said...

I absolutely love hummus and your variety looks simply delish!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the hot weather is hot and humid where I am as well! That raw zucchini hummus sounds amazing--any chance you'll share how you made it?

Everything looks great!


Anardana said...

Hey! I added you to my blogroll :)

bazu said...

Hi Courtney,

For the zucchini hummus, I improvised from a few different recipes around the web. I will try to tweak it in the future until I get a thicker consistency, but this is what I did:

I mixed one and a half peeled zucchini, some tahini, a few cloves of garlic, some lemon juice, and some cumin, and coriander in a food processor. I added a tiny bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper for flavor at the end.

Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

Veganista said...

Wow, that trio of hummuses (ok, yeah, not a word) looks fantastic, Bazu! I like the zucchini hummus concept which was completely new to me. As for the roasted pepper one, that's something I've been meaning to try for a while.

Vegan_Noodle said...

So hard to see friends go... but hey, at least we have so many ways to communicate these days, makes it a bit easier.
Okay, so how did you get that sushi picture? Did you suspend yourself in ropes above the table? Looks like some good sushi...

Vincent Guihan said...

I've thought about making zucchini (there's a recipe in RAWvolution, but I don't think there's a thickening agent and I've always thought, hmmmmh). Yours looks delicious, though! I'll have to give it a try!

dreamy said...

You are making me envy of your sushi variety, sushi! I love sushi! :d

vko said...

What a fun visit with your friends! You really cooked up a feast. The bird's eye view of your sushi spread was perfect. I also love that pic of the kids for sale- too funny.