Sunday, February 21, 2010

In between eggplant rollatini/eggplant napoleon, there lies poetry

So, before I write my next adventures in eggplant post and before I even eat said eggplant, I write a terribly trite poem...

Would I would revel in
Simplicities, the moments when,
For an instant, your eyes touch
Mine without hesitation
Without the scheduled timeline
Without remembrances of lost
Hands, eyes, mouth, breath.

But these words
Slovenly, lazy, unruly,
Errant stepchildren, who
Tie my laces and laugh
When I catch myself on jagged
Corners, betray me,
Knowing they are not what I intended.

Would I would stop myself
Before the words, smiles,
Caresses, escape me
Fleeing purposely towards your
Hands, eyes, mouth, breath.
You catch them, crushing or
Releasing them, never keeping them.
I am this way with you—
You still reside as a series of pixels
Numbers I refuse to keep.

But, could I leave I would not.
For what is possible without
An open heart, a bloodied
Thing, wild and fierce?
What is possible without a
Wounded soul, who yearns
For peace in
Hands, eyes, mouth, breath?

Monday, August 24, 2009

From the Personal Queen Memoirs: Exorcise the Man Demons with Seven Kinds of Cheese

So, last night, before attending the 3rd annual Psychedelic BBQ & Bike Party in the Milk District, we (Marisa, the fab Chris, and the wonderfully manly James, and I) stopped off at The Social Chameleon, a lovely local and luscious tapas restaurant, featuring mouthwatering pizzas and refreshingly cheap beer. After spotting a seven cheese flatbread pizza on the menu, I decided that I would love try my hand at a cheese pizza that was not only healthy but deliciously simple. So, I set forth…

Knowing that cheese alone would lead to what would more accurately be called a quesadilla from death, I chose to diversify the simple canvas by adding sundried tomatoes, basil, and caramelized garlic (I also chose to use goat cheese as the capstone—creamy cheese on a pizza is truly dreamy!).

After purchasing the ingredients below, I set out to turn these singleton ingredients into a pleasure fest of flavor. Note: the garlic and sauce I used are not pictured.

I began by sautéing the garlic—I could take my time with this as I was waiting for the use of Chris’s camera (thanks, Chris!). I placed ½ tsp. of olive oil in a pan with ¼ cup of white wine. I set the heat to medium and walked away for 10 minutes. When I returned, the wine had all but evaporated, so I turned the heat down to low and continued sautéing (with about a tablespoon more of wine) for another 10 minutes. There is something warming and comforting about sauteing garlic--the smell permeates the house, but to me, it is not an unpleasant smell, but the smell of real cooking--like the kind poor people have been doing for years. Garlic makes mundane, bland food become a feast, a celebration of the palate.

After sautéing the garlic, I began the process of putting this legendarily delicious pizza together.

I took one Flat Out flatbread (I work, people, no time to make flatbread from scratch). I use the Mutli-grain plus Spelt variety as I love the extra bit of heartiness. I took two tablespoons of spaghetti sauce (that’s it; wet Flat Out = FAIL) and spread it over the flatbread; I love saucy pizza, so I made sure to reach each of the sad, dry corners.

Then, I spread ½ of approx. ¼ cup of six cheese Italian blend I had measured out previously over the surface of the crust. At this point, using a ¼ tsp measuring spoon, I spooned small pebbles of roasted garlic 1/3 reduced fat Chevre cheese over the surface of the crust.

At this point, were I making a strictly cheese pizza, I would have stopped, but the pull of freshly picked basil from our downstairs community garden and the sweet tartness of sun-dried tomatoes called to me, and I invited these two to the party.

Finally, I sprinkled the garlic pieces over the surface of the pizza and spread the remainder of the ¼ cup of cheese over the rest of the pizza. As a finishing touch, I added crushed red pepper and a bit of salt to the surface.

To bake the pizza, I placed it into a preheated 450-degree oven for 10 minutes. After which, I marveled at the delicious goodness I had just created. I felt invincible! 100 feet tall…then I felt hungry, so I ate half of the pizza.

At times, I would still rather have my delicious pizza made by others, but in this case, I was thankful that I’d given it a shot. Yum!

7-cheese Sundried Tomato Basil Flatbread

1 Flat Out flat bread
2 tblsp. Chevre roasted garlic goat cheese
¼ cup of Sargento Six-cheese shredded cheese
1/4 cup of white whine
2 tablespoons of spaghetti sauce (1 fresh tomato will do here as well—just be sure and remove the excess moisture and seeds)
julienned sundried tomatoes (I will say ¼ cup—probably less)
6-8 large basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
crushed red peppers

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Treatise on the Impromptu Pasta Skillet: Eggplants are Excellent

I recall from my first experience as a vegetarian, that I got very bored with meat substitutes very quickly, and tended to resort to a quick veggie burger or cheese pizza for dinner. I refuse to go down that same path again, as it actually caused significant weight gain, and made it very easy for me to slowly ooze my way back into meat eating. So, I work on ways to incorporate as many vegetables, with as many colors, textures, tastes, and smells into my dishes. One of my favorite vegetables to experiment with is eggplant (look for a Greek pizza in the near future, featuring roasted eggplant). Now, I am not going to be one of those vegetarians who never misses meat--I love meat; it's delicious, so I fully admit that I look for substitutes in the veggie world that approximate the texture, if not the flavor of meat. Enter the blessed eggplant, which, despite its mushy reputation, is actually quite meaty in combination with mushrooms, and adds a wonderful creaminess to pasta dishes.

So, last night, I intended on consuming a lone but fabulous dinner salad. However, I was rescued from this notion by the lovely Natalie, who suggested pasta instead when I shared with her my dinner plans. Immediately, I thought, hmm, in support of my recent move back to veggieism, why not take that pasta and make it sing by throwing in some fresh eggplant, mushrooms, onions, spinach, garlic, green beans, and red peppers. The green beans and peppers were vetoed by my now very willing taste tester, and as she had been gracious enough to provide the sauce, I agreed with her decision.*

*Disclaimer: that doesn't mean I wouldn't strongly encourage anyone to add the aforementioned offenders--as long as the green beans are fresh, and the red peppers cook until appropriate softness! Also, had I had a few kalamata olives handy, I would have thrown those in there as well.

Okay, so here is the recipe/process for this yet to be named dish. Right now, I am just calling it Impromptu Pasta Skillet

1 box of farfalle (I like to use small pasta for something like this; rigatoni or penne would work well as well. This pasta tends to pick up the delicious chunks of veggie/spice/sauce/cheese much better than spaghetti.
1 can of spaghetti sauce; last night we used Bertolli's fire roasted tomato with Cabernet--yum (yeah, yeah, I can make my own, but not for impromptu pasta skillets)
1/2 large eggplant, skin on, cubed
6 to 8 extra large button mushrooms (no portabella around--impromptu, remember)
1 onion, diced rather finely
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 bunch of spinach
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella
Italian seasoning
crushed red pepper
garlic powder
1/4 cup of red wine
3/4 cup of veggie stock
olive oil

After chilling with Natalie and a glass of wine, I got down to business by chopping all of my veggies. I also realized I'd bought some veggie Italian sausage in my search for appropriately tasty meat substitutes, so, while I boiled water for my pasta, and chopped the vegetables, I placed two sausage links in a pan, and sauteed them with a bit of olive oil, so as to facilitate proper browning. After about seven minutes of browning, I removed the links, added a bit more oil to the pan and added the eggplant.

Now, eggplant, if you have ever tried to fry it before, dear reader, eggplant loves oil; they are bffs, but thighs and oil are not bffs, so in order to cook the eggplant without drowning it in oil, I used the 3/4 cup of veggie stock. This allowed me to quickly cook the eggplant and provided yet another means of adding flavor to the dish. Note that I tend to cook generally between medium high, medium, and medium low. I kept the eggplant at medium, a nice steady bubble. After the egg plant began to soften, I added the onion, garlic, and mushrooms. By this time, the liquid had reduced to about 1/2 of its original quantity, so I reintroduced the mock Italian sausage, and the 1/4 cup of red wine, along with the Italian seasoning, the crushed red pepper, and the garlic powder (I like garlic, like excessive amounts). Finally, I added 1/2 of the jar of sauce and let this simmer for about 10 minutes on low.

In the meantime, I finished boiling the pasta to al dente, and removed all but 1/4 cup of the cooking water and put the pasta back into the cooking pot. As my sautee pan is not very large, I added my sauce/veggie mixture to the pasta. I then stirred in the rest of the sauce and adjusted the seasoning a bit (more crushed red pepper for sure). Finally, I stirred in the cheese and let the mixture reduce for about 10 more minutes. The results, as shown below, were a rousing success. Natalie ate until near explosion, and Kevin, who has pretty much decided carbs are from the devil, had two bowlfuls. Yum!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Originally, this was titled, "Just cause I eat meat, that doesn't mean I can't rock your veggie loving world"

Thought I would share this with you veggies and veggie friendlies...I made this a few months ago on a wonderful Sunday (or Thursday?) morning and I was so deliciously full :) If you try it, tell me what you think (or come over and I will make you one ha!)

May try a vegan variation or one that is wheat-free (for Frances!)

Veggie Sausage Breakfast Naan

½ piece of Naan flatbread (if you have a hearty appetite, just double all this stuff)
1 Morningstar Farms veggie sausage patty
1 egg
1 wedge of Laughing Cow low-cal cheese
1 oz. of that 75% fat free Cabot cheddar cheese, shredded
½ tomato, cubed
salt and pepper
a bit of Mrs. Dash
cooking spray
sriracha sauce (hot cock sauce)

1. Pre-heat your oven to 425. I used a toaster over, so I am approximating here…

2. In a small frying pan, heat the veggie patty until it is mostly warmed. Then, cut the veggie pattie up into small chunks.

3. Beat the egg and add the sausage and tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste. Scramble that deliciousness in the same frying pan in which you cooked the sausage.

4. While that scrambles its heart out, take the wedge of Laughing Cow and spread it on the Naan.

5. Once the scramble is mostly done (don’t cook until dry), that is until the liquid parts of the egg have cooked, spread the mixture atop the Naan.

6. Add hot cock sauce to taste...that stuff is potent, so be careful!

7. Then, take the 1 oz of cheese and spread it over the top.

8. Bake for 15 minutes and you have deliciousness incarnate.

Manifesto Treatise Number One: Hold the Sheep

This post should actually come after the post describing how I made Sunday's chicken the most awesomest chicken I will never eat again...I will get around to that one in a bit...

Sheep’s Pie

Warning: this is in no way low cal, low fat, low anything…it just doesn’t have meat in it ☺

1 package of veggie crumbles
2 cups of mashed potatoes (that’s another recipe)
1 package of fresh mushrooms
1 onion
½ package of frozen peas (fresh works too)
½ package of frozen corn (fresh works too)
1 package of mushroom gravy
½ can of tomato sauce
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning
Cabot 75% fat free sharp cheddar cheese
A bit of olive oil
1-1 1/2 cup of water

Sautee the onion in a pan until translucent
Add the crumbles, cook according to package directions.
Add the mushrooms, tomato sauce, mushroom gravy, and water
Add garlic powder, Italian seasoning, paprika, salt, and pepper to taste…sorry, I don’t measure things

Let everything come together for a moment, then place mixture into a baking dish
Top with mashed potatoes, spreading the potatoes so that they cover the mixture.

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 375. Top with Cabot cheese for the last five minutes and broil.

Then devour like amorous birds of prey!

Mashed Potatoes

From memory, this is what Marisa did to make these fabulous

A whole bunch o’ taters
Gorgonzola Cheese
Garlic and Herb Irish butter
1 cup sour cream
½ cup milk
garlic powder

Boil the taters. Drain them when they are soft.
Mash em’ a bit
Stir in all the other yummy goodness. Mash em’ a bit more. Done.