Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sweet Potato Vegan Mac n Cheese

Inactivation of psbA genes in Paulinella plastids.

Yeah, it's over my head, too. This is why I'm an MA student, not an MS. I'm sure it's fascinating, but I'll spend this lecture I'm sitting through writing about what I made for dinner last night. Professional, I know. What I really want to do is get up and watch the electrical storm that's over Stony Brook right now. It sounds intense from this dark, windowless room, and I love storms!

I wish I could say that I grew that sweet potato, but I didn't.
Next year!
Another awesome gift from Mama Jo..
the Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus Processor chopped onions and garlic fabulously!
I came across a recipe similar to this months ago. There's really nothing like a warm bowl of cheesy mac n cheese. I make a vegan version made with butternut squash that's a crowd favorite, but it's a lot of work! This recipe, while a heck of a lot easier and less time consuming, was good, but not as close to traditional mac n cheese as the butternut version. Still, it was delicious and unique, so it's worth blogging about. It has a bit of a spicy kick. Not like you just bit into a jalapeño, but a very mild spice. Don't let that scare you from this recipe if you don't like spicy, even my 22 month old was able to handle it!

Sweet Potato Vegan Mac n Cheese
Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

  1. Boil the potatoes and sage in the 2 cups of water until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
  2. Drain the potatoes, reserving the water, and add them to a blender.
  3. Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil just until the onions begin to brown.
  4. Add the onions and garlic to the potatoes in the blender.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined.
  6. Add the reserved potato water to thin the sauce to the desired consistency.
  7. Serve over pasta.

Home Grown Part 8: Still Harvesting

Summer might be over, but don't tell my garden that! I've still got a plentiful supply of eggplants, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, watermelon, beets, carrots, basil, parsley and some winter squash. Oh and beans. So many beans! I've been neglecting them for weeks, but the plants are still producing. I've decided to continue to let them go, so I can harvest them for their seeds.

I've started saving the seeds from some of my produce so far. That really makes me feel that summer is over. If anyone would like some organic seeds for their garden next year, let me know! I will have plenty.
Young asparagus has taken over this bed, which is still
producing cherry tomatoes and beans.

The squash bed has a few butternuts, and some other squash
which will probably just end up as fall decorations.
The last cantaloupe was picked this week,
but there are still a few watermelons in there.
Peppers and eggplants are dominating here.
Some eggplants that the chickens haven't found yet.
Ready for picking.

My freezer is ridiculously full with bags of frozen basil. And drying the herb in the dehydrator takes way too long and is too time consuming, so I'm experimenting with drying them indoors. I picked the plants, separated them into 3 groups depending on their size, and hung them upside down in a closet. It's only day 3, but they look great so far! This method is much less time consuming and way more energy efficient than using a dehydrator.

Picked basil.
Bunched with rubber bands.
I hung them by stretching the rubber bands
over a coat hanger. 
Thanks to Andrew for the rubber band/hanger hanging idea.
They supposedly take anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks to dry.

Logan and I spent the day with my friend Cami bouncing from farm to farm on the North Fork today, a trip complete with cider donuts, apple cider, farm animals and good times. Our first stop was the Garden of Eve, one of the handful of organic farms out east. Since space in my garden has opened up, I bought a few new plants, including kale, lettuce and swiss chard. I also went home with a couple varieties of garlic, the cloves of which I plan on planting soon.

So many choices! I eventually settled on Italian White,
German White, and French Red.
There were several varieties of organic plants to choose from also!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Peach Salsa

So, every post I've done this month is about peaches. Peach season is just about over on Long Island, so this may be the last one. I'm sad to see them go, but you can expect apple posts in the near future as apple season has already arrived! And maybe I'll actually start cooking again, instead of spending all my time in the kitchen making desserts. Maybe.

Normally I'm a fan of spicy food, but I knew Logan would be eating this with me so I kept it mild. Add more jalapeños for an extra kick!

Peach Salsa
Serves 4

  • 2 large white peaches, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet pepper. Any variety of sweet pepper, like bell, will work.
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • Juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1 Tbsp. cilantro
  1. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Let the salsa chill in the fridge for an hour or so before serving. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Peach Galette

I know, I know. I've been posting a lot of peach dishes lately. But as peach season is coming to a close I'm trying to make up for all the lost time I didn't have this summer when I was working so much. I barely had time to make dinner these past few months, let alone dessert. Now that work is done and classes have begun, I've had a lot more time for the fun stuff. That's not to say that grad school doesn't take up a lot of my time as well, but it certainly affords me more kitchen time. In fact, I'm loving everything about grad school.. classes, assignments, professors, new friends, experiences and opportunities.. just to name a few.

Galettes are the answer to the person who likes pie, without liking pie crust. Does that make sense? I love pie filling. Sweet, warm, tender fruit. What's not to love? But I've never been a fan of the crust. Something about it is just unappealing. When eating a slice of pie I usually scrape off the top and the crispy part on the end, and just eat the filling and the bottom crust. A galette is the answer to my pie dilemma, basically only having the parts of pie that I like, with a little extra around the edges.

This was my first attempt at making a vegan galette. Actually, it was my first time making a galette at all. I found a recipe for a plum galette, made a couple substitutions, and came up with this dessert. It was unbelievably delicious with homemade vegan cantaloupe ice cream that I made with cantaloupes from my garden. It's the same recipe as this one that I made a few months ago, but with cantaloupe puree instead of cherries.

Vegan Peach Galette
Serves 6

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cups butter substitute, like Smart Balance
  • 3 Tbsp. ice water
  • 1 tsp. fresh squeezed orange juice (any citrus juice, like lemon, would work also)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
  • 2 tsp. corn starch
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 cups of peeled, sliced peaches (about 6 small peaches)
  1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor. I imagine an electric mixer would work just as well.
  2. Put the bowl with the flour mixture in the freezer for about 15 minutes. The trick to a good crust is to keep the dough cold, or so I'm told.
  3. Add the butter sub to the flour and pulse until the dough becomes crumbly.
  4. Add in the ice water and juice, and blend until the mixture still looks crumbly, but holds together when you pinch it between your fingers.
  5. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a circle a little over a foot in diameter, and about 1/8 of an inch thick. 
  6. Wrap this in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
  7. In the meantime, prepare the filling by rubbing the vanilla seeds together with the sugar. 
  8. Stir in the cornstarch and salt.
  9. Toss the peaches in the sugar mixture.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350º.
  11. Unwrap the dough from the plastic wrap, and transfer to a foil lined baking sheet.
  12. Lay the peaches in a spiral pattern around the center of the dough, leaving about 2 inches around the edges.
  13. Fold the edges over the peaches.
  14. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the edges just begin to brown.
  15. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Crumble dough, what it should look like after step 3
What the dough should look like after step 4
Rolled out dough
It doesn't have to be perfect
The vanilla and sugar rubbed together. The mixture made a lot,
so I saved some to use in tea.

Folding the edges over, as in step 13
I'm sure I'll be making this with different fruit
as the seasons change. It would be delicious with
apples I'm sure!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Peach Vanilla Spread

There were a few peaches left over after making peach cobbler. I consider it a crime to let perfectly ripe peaches go to waste, so I adapted this absolutely delicious spread from a recipe I found on pinterest. The authentic vanilla taste blended with fresh, local peaches is wonderful and unique. I used a crockpot, but I imagine it would work just as well on the stove, with less cooking time. This spread is perfect over warm english muffins on these chilly mornings we've been having!

Peach Vanilla Spread
Makes about 2 cups

  • 4 yellow peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced down the middle and scraped.
  • 2 Tbsp. organic sugar 

  1. Add all the ingredients to a crockpot and cook on low for 4 hours.
  2. Remove the vanilla bean, and add the contents of the crockpot to a blender.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Return to the crockpot and cook on low for an additional hour, with the lid propped open to allow some of the moisture out.

Using a sharp knife, slice open one side of the vanilla bean.
Run the tip of the knife inside the cut you just made to loosen the seeds.
The more you scrape, the stronger the vanilla flavor.
All the ingredients in the crockpot.
It's important to prop open the lid so steam can escape
and the spread can thicken.

Store in a jar in the fridge, or in the freezer if you won;t be eating it for awhile.
I doubt you'll need the freezer though.
Something this tasty won't last long!

Monday, September 10, 2012

So Long Sweet Summer Peach Cobbler

Peach season never seems long enough to me!
Naked peaches, look away.
We've experienced the first of the fall weather on Long Island. Chilly breezes, crisp air, and the arrival of local fall produce hit Long Island this weekend. After the most humid summer I can ever remember, I'm embracing the change of seasons. Don't get me wrong, I'm a summer girl at heart, but this summer was way too.. sticky. As much as I'm looking forward to the fall, I'll miss the delicious produce that summer has to offer, particularly peaches. There really is nothing like a Long Island peach.

The cool air was welcome this weekend as we ran
the Survival Race 5K.!

A leap off the rock at Big Rock Beach was refreshing after the mud,
but it was freezing on the beach! You can see the clouds that brought
fall with them rolling in.
Sensing the end of the peach season, Logan and I spent a cool morning in a peach orchard, stocking up on the sweet summer fruit. We picked A LOT.

I think the last time I made peach cobbler I was 10. No joke. In 5th grade we were doing a unit on the American Revolution. As an assignment I had to make a recipe from that time period, and Mrs. Jones thought there was nothing more American than peach cobbler. I've been meaning to make it again ever since, but I always end up eating the peaches before they make it into this dish. I didn't have my moms awesome cast iron skillet to make this more authentic, but the stoneware baking dish I had worked well enough.

Vegan Peach Cobbler
Serves 10

  • 6 Tbsp. butter substitute, like smart balance

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • I cup coconut milk (from the carton, not canned)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 8 peaches, peeled and sliced
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar in the raw
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º.
  2. Put drops of the butter substitute in a baking dish. The dish I used is about 8 x 12.
  3. Put the dish in the oven until the butter substitute is melted.
  4. Combine the flour, sugar, powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  5. Add the coconut milk and vanilla, and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour this mixture over the butter in the dish.
  7. In another bowl, mix the peaches, lemon juice and vanilla together.
  8. Spoon the peaches over the mixture in the baking dish.
  9. Top with cinnamon and sugar.
  10. Bake uncovered for about 50 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

Step 2, butter sub in the baking dish.

Step 6, batter over the butter sub
Step 8, peaches on top of the batter
Step 9, cinnamon and sugar topping

Friday, September 7, 2012

Holy Hot! Sauce

Andrew's mom grew these really hot peppers this summer.. too hot to eat on their own, even without the seeds. I may have mentioned this once before, but I put hot sauce on everything. I blame my friend Nikki, who always had a bottle in her dorm room, and put it on everything from pizza to popcorn. So when I saw these peppers going uneaten, I had to step in and make them into something that I could handle.

I made this hot sauce late one night while on a cooking kick. It made the kitchen HOT. I don't mean take off the apron (not that I wear one) and turn on the fan hot, I mean all my senses were burning. My eyes were watering, nose was running, and my throat was burning. But oh was it worth it. Move over Franks Red Hot, there's a new hot tamale in the pot!

Holy Hot! Sauce
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 13 cow horn peppers
  • 1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  1. Cut the stems off the peppers and scrape out the seeds.
  2. Put them in a small sauce pan along with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil, them simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.
  4. Blend the mixture in a blender until everything is mixed and finely chopped.
  5. Filter out the solids by pouring the sauce through a cheesecloth.
  6. Store in a closed jar in the fridge.
  7. Eat on everything!

Filtering out the solids.
I used leftover garlic packaging to filter, but a cheesecloth
or any fine mesh will do.

You're going to have to scoop the solids  out of the
top occasionally to keep things flowing through the mesh.
It should look like this when done.