Sunday, November 18, 2012

Vegetarian Reuben Recipe

This sandwich hails from a little place called Flavor Country. It's easy, it's delicious, you should probably make this for lunch.

For the tofu:
1 block of firm or extra firm tofu
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Dash of liquid smoke
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (cheap store brands are often vegan)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

For everything else:
4 slices caraway rye bread
1000 Island dressing
Swiss cheese
Sauerkraut (preferably homemade if ya got it. Go, Lactobacillus, go!)

(Adapted from The Grit Restaurant Cookbook)

Cut block of tofu in half, then slice thinly. Heat oil in a skillet at medium high heat and fry tofu until golden brown and a bit crispy. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to cook tofu in two batches. 

Meanwhile, mix together the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Measure out the smoked paprika, dill and garlic powder to have at the ready, because things will move fast for this next step. 

When the tofu is fully cooked, slowly pour in the liquid ingredients and the spices. Toss the tofu frequently to coat with the sauce, before it all cooks off. Saute for another minute until all the sauce is soaked up/evaporated, then remove from heat. 

Toast bread. Smother in dressing then pile on tofu, and cheese. Pop it under a broiler for a minute or two until the cheese melts, then finish off with a generous amount of sauerkraut. Makes two large sandwiches, so be sure to share. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Slow Cooker Wild Mushroom Barley Soup

Now that I'm in the midst of my thesis project, I've been spending especially long days in the print studio and bindery at school. Add to that classes, two jobs, visiting artist lectures, show openings, conferences, and a constant supply of meetings and I find myself returning home at night too tired to cook a quality meal. Which is a shame because I really do love to cook.

Enter the slow cooker. Now, I know slow cookers are pretty trendy these days, but I'm happy to jump on this particular bandwagon. They are easy to use, economical, and reliable. Dinner is pretty much ready the minute you step in the door and you will be welcomed with a home that smells delicious. That said, there will probably be a series of slow cooker recipes to follow this fall/winter as I continue to pull long inky days on the press.

I made this soup because of two rather fortunate events. One, my mom visited last weekend and two, she brought with her some fresh chanterelles from home! (Along with other local goodies including Deadman's Reach Raven's Brew Coffee, Chehalis Mints, cookies from my favorite Olympia bakery, and a couple indulgent concoctions from Radiance Herbs and Massage. Thanks Mom!)

Wild Mushroom Barley Soup

What you need:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small to medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 green onions, white and light green parts chopped
8 oz white mushrooms, sliced or torn into small pieces
8 oz chanterelle mushrooms, torn into small pieces
3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 cup sherry or white wine
6 cups mushroom or vegetable stock
3/4 cup uncooked barley
1 bay leaf
1 generous pinch of each: thyme, marjoram, sage, and tarragon
1/2 cup half and half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Saute onion in oil for a few minutes until softened. Add celery and green onions and saute for about two minutes. Add both types of mushrooms and garlic and saute for about five minutes, until mushrooms begin to release juices. Remove from heat.

Add the sauted onion/celery/mushrooms to the crock pot along with the wine, stock, barley and herbs. Turn your slow cooker to Low and simmer for about six hours, until the barley is tender and the flavors have deliciously mellowed. 

Walking in the door after being away for several hours provides a happy aromatic reminder of what is waiting for you quietly in the kitchen. . .

When the soup is ready, turn off the slow cooker and stir in the half and half and salt and pepper to taste. I have also made this soup with wild rice instead of barley with tasty results.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hello November Whipped Cream (For Hands & Face)

Here in Chicago, fall is at its best in October. The leaves have turned but are for the most part still clinging to their branches, the skies can be clear and cool or gray and blustery. Daytime temperatures welcome fun and inventive outfits and markets offer the harvest's bounty. Really, for a city I'll admit it's quite lovely.

But now it's November. The days are cooling off, drying out, getting darker, and winter seems to be just around the corner. My skin is not too happy about this and seems to be expressing itself by peeling, flaking, itching and best of all, refining a charming red and splotchy characteristic. So to coerce it back to its happy low maintenance self, I'm drinking lots of water and adding this ultra nourishing and protective facial moisturizer to my daily routine.

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons castor oil
1 tablespoon unrefined extra-virgin coconut oil

1 tablespoon beeswax (pure, unrefined & unbleached)
1 teaspoon shea butter
2 wafers cocoa butter (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup distilled water
1/4 teaspoon vitamin E oil
30 drops essential oils of your choice

Using a double boiler, melt together the olive oil, castor oil, coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, and cocoa butter. When the solids have just melted, remove from heat and pour into a medium sized mixing bowl. Set aside and let cool for about five minutes.  Meanwhile, heat the water until hot but not yet boiling.

When the oil mixture has cooled enough it will be slightly opaque and will have thickened. At this point, whisk the oils with one hand while slowly and steadily drizzle in the hot water. Whisk the mixture vigorously. In just a few seconds it will turn pale yellow and begin to thicken up. Continue whisking for a few minutes to ensure that the mixture is smooth and completely emulsified. At this point, I put it outside on my windowsill for five minutes, whisked it again, and put is back outside. I repeated this a few times until the cream was completely cooled. Add the vitamin E oil and essential oils and combine thoroughly (I used balsam peru, lavender, and orange to match my solid perfume).

Transfer into glass containers. This recipe makes enough to fill two 4 oz jars so you can keep one and give the other to a suffering friend. Alternatively, store the second jar in the fridge until you need it. You can also use this recipe as a gentle and moisturizing facial cleanser. Just apply with a washcloth or your hands and rinse with warm water.