Tag Archives: vegetarian

squishy experiment

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So tonight it was experimental squash canelloni for supper.  This baby’s not going to win any beauty contests any time soon.  I was going to cook a nice, innocuous tenderloin but forgot to take it out of the freezer so here we are. Plus, there were squash guts leftover from the lovely soup the mister the other night so this is all in the name of using what I’ve got.   I was determined to use only things we had on hand for this dish. I almost did it but had to run across to the convenience store across the street and buy a can of tomatoes.  It was very tasty but the texture was lacking…something.  Everything was just too the same.  I know that’s par for the canelloni course and maybe it’s my palette which is picky but I have a few thoughts on making a new, improved version.  Beyond that I was really happy with the milk sauce I chose to go with it.  It has been ages since I’ve had a milk pasta dish and this one really served its purpose in balancing flavours; it wasn’t so hearty that it overpowered the squash and wasn’t so meek that it needed a lot of help holding itself up.

Here’s the skinny on the filling:

2 cups of mashed, cooked squash

3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 red onion, minced

1/4 cup pesto

Mix everything together and stuff into canelloni noodles laying out them in one layer across the bottom of an 11×13 casserole dish as you go.  I used oven-ready in the interest of time and because I hate working with the cooked ones.  This recipe uses about one box.

The sauce:

2 cups tomato sauce of your choice

2 cups of milk

1/4 cup pesto

Mix all of that together then use it to completely cover the stuffed canellonis in the casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes then top with slices of provolone, mozzarella or havarti and cook for another 30 minutes or until the noodles are tender.

So I would totally make this again but, instead of making a squishy squash filling I would transfer a lot of the flavour elements, like the feta and more pesto, to the sauce and use uncooked squash spears inside the noodles.  This would eleminate a lot of the mess involved in stuffing them and help give the dish a little more textural backbone.

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samosas for Todd

No picture of this as I haven’t had the opportunity to do the frozen versus fresh trial I wanted to as ‘plain yoghurt’ means ‘vanilla-flavoured yoghurt’ in the minds and hearts of my yoghurt buyers. I shall post my recipe for the wonderful nibblies things anyway.

The dough recipe I use comes out of a cookbook called Peterborough Peoples’ Potluck Picks. This amazingly alliterative oeuvre was purchased through a local fundraiser for Canadian Crossroads International back in 1993 and contains simply the tastiest & most forgiving, recipe for samosa dough ever.

What you need for the dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. butter, margarine or ghee

3/4 cup plain (not vanilla) yoghurt (I prefer balkan style for this but anything from fat-free to homemade will work)

Lightly mix the flour and salt in a large bowl then cut in the butter/margarine with a fork or a pastry cutter until the mixture looks all coarse like breadcrumbs. Stir in the yoghurt then mix it all together with your hands. Dough hooks and other gadgets really don’t work well with this dough as part of the pliability of it leans on body heat – avoiding getting your hands dirty will not result in a good dough. You don’t need to knead it, just mix with the hands forming it into a ball as you go. Once that’s done you can set it in the fridge while preparing the samosa guts.

What you need for the innards:

1/2 cup of chopped onion – I like sweet & nutty flavour of vidalias for samosas

3 cloves chopped garlic

3 large potatoes diced – I prefer reds as they wash up quickly and the skins can be left on but usually use 4-5 of these as they don’t really come in large size russets (which is an effective alternative) or other white-skinned varieties do around here

1 cup of fresh or frozen peas – alternatively, that frozen vegie mix comprised of carrots, peas, corn & beans works really well too and allows me to get samosas past people who say they don’t like peas

2 tbsp. margarine, butter or ghee

juice of 2 limes

salt to taste

spices (I’ll get into that in a bit)

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat then melt the butter/margarine/ghee in it. Add the onions, garlic, potatoes and salt and allow everything to brown just a bit. Once slightly browned, reduce the heat to low-medium and continue to cook until the potatoes are fork tender (about ten minutes.) Up the heat to high, add the salt and peas and cook over high heat for another 2-3 minutes. Then it’s time to remove the filling from the heat source and talk about spices.

As you’ve probably been able to deduce, samomas are pretty versatile creatures. As such, there are infinite possibilities for dealing with their spiciness. One could create their own amalgam of spices, toss in a pre-made garam masala or curry paste or keep them minimal and somewhat pirogie-like. If I’m feeling lazy I’ll toss in 1 tbsp of Sybil’s Jerk Seasoning or her Kick Ass Curry Paste (I’m sorry for those of you who don’t live in the area and don’t have access to her wonderfully spicey bounty of deliciousness) but I almost never use a pre-fab curry powder. So when I’m feeling less lazy I mix up a concoction of equal parts cumin, coriander, allspice, nutmeg, tumeric & ground chilies…which I often have on hand as I also almost always make up too much of this concoction. This can all be ground together in a coffee grinder, small food processor or with a mortar & pestle.  The important part is to season your filling to taste and mix it well.  After that’s done the lime juice can be added and mixed in as well.

The filling should be allowed to chill at least an hour or two before using it with the dough otherwise it could make the samosas fall apart.  When you’re ready to fill them, get out the ball of dough and divide it in half, then divide those in half again and so on until you’ve got 32 little balls.  Then just roll those little balls out into circles as thinly as you can, add about 2 tbsp of filling, fold the dough over the filling and press the dough edges together with a fork.  I always need to experiment with the first couple I make.  The beauty of this dough is that it’s very stretchy, the downside to that is that I end up overestimating it’s stretchiness.  I’m an overstuffer.  Some people are understuffers, and the downside to that is you end up with really doughy samosas.

I like to get at least one other person in on the rolling and stuffing part of the samosa-making process.  This allows me to get them cooking as we go which prevents them from sitting and sweating on a surface which doesn’t allow them to breathe and making them more breakable.  That generally plays out as me being in charge of the hot oil for deep frying, 1 kid rolling and 1 kid stuffing.  If I don’t have an extra set of hands around to help me out I can get around the sweat issue by preheating the oven to 425 degrees, moving the stuffed samosas directly to a lightly greased baking sheet then moving the full-of-stuffed-samosas baking sheets directly to the oven to cook for about 5 minutes (just long enough to dry the dough, but not to brown it) then moving the samosas onto cooling racks.  The advantage of going that route rather than directly to deep fry is that they’re easier to store as they can be tossed into freezer bags and then into the freezer then brought out and deep fried at a later date.  One could also finish them in the oven and bypass deep frying altogether, but let’s face it, part of the appeal is the crispy, goldenness of these tasty treats.

So there you go.  It’s not a complicated process but it definitely can be a long one.  I like to justify it by making a double or triple batch so there are some to enjoy immediately and others to be put away for entertaining later.

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Falafel

I had forgotten how easy these are to throw together for a pantry busting meal…and how wonderfully tasty they are.

What you need:

2 cups garbanzo beans or chick peas (funnily enough the cans I buy come in 190z cans which is roughly over a cup, but roughly under 2 cups, so two of these are required – I use the remainder to make hummus)

1/2 cup packed fresh parsley (today I didn’t have any parsley but wanted something green so I added a tablespoon of dried basil)

4 cloves of garlic

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 small onion

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 tbsp sesame seeds

pinch of salt

Peanut oil for frying

8 pitas

A variety of fruits and vegetables to serve on the pitas with the falafel.

Toss everything but the bread crumbs and oil into the food processor. Pulse-blend until you’ve got a paste. Mix in the bread crumbs by continuing to pulse-blend them in. Once they’re all blended put the lot of it in the fridge until it’s time to cook them (the more uniformly cold they are the easier they are to work with so I recommend having them in the fridge for no less than an hour.)

You’ll want to serve the little chick pea patties as immediately as possible after cooking so chop any desired vegies (I recommend baby spinach, tomatoes, peppers and green onions) and get your pitas ready before hand. I like to have some kind of tasty, offensively pungent sauce to serve with them so I usually make that up while the mush is chillin’ too. What I had on hand was half a tub of sour cream – generally a little too rich for my liking so I diluted it with the minced half of a red onion and 3 cloves of garlic. To that I added some dill and a pinch of salt; et voila! Instant offensively pungent saucey stuff!

The cooking method or these is pretty simple; heat 2 inches of peanut oil in a skillet or wok. Roll the chick pea mush into a bunch of looney-sized balls then flatten them to about a 1/2 inch in thickness. Once the oil is HOT (and you can use a little mush to test) gently place the falafel in it (I’ve got a couple of these puppies which help with this as I prefer too keep my fingers well away from hot grease) to cook for about two minutes. If using a wok you’ll probably want to do them in batches of four or five. Upon removing them from the oil place them on a paper towel lined serving dish then toss ’em on the table as soon as possible.

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Filed under Things stuffed with things, Vegetarian Recipes