Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Recipe: Thanksgiving Extravaganza

So for the past couple of weeks I've been all like:

and I figured it'd make a good Thanksgiving (weekend) post.

I'll start with my recipe for red lentil soup. My goal is to make it as good as the soup at Pita Jungle, but for some reason I can't get it to have quite as full a flavour. It comes out a little watery and hollow-tasting, if that makes sense, but it's still pretty good, especially when reheated. And this recipe makes a TON of it.

You'll need:

2 cups of red lentils
1 quart of vegetable broth
Onion, carrots and celery, all optional and to taste (for example, mine is sans onions because I'm allergic)
2 cloves garlic
1 - 2 tablespoons of red or yellow curry powder to taste
1 - 2 teaspoons of cumin powder to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro, again to taste
Lemon juice or Green Chile Tabasco sauce, optional

(I never measure or time anything, this is about as exact as it gets. Read all the way through the recipe before starting.)

Ok, so rinse, sort and drain the lentils. If you're using onions, you'll want to sautee and mince the quantity desires in the pot you're going to use - either in a little butter or oil - first, along with the garlic. 
Bring the quart of veggie broth and 3 cups of water to a boil together with the lentils, adding more water later to change the consistency if desired. Skim the foam that appears. Cover and simmer for around 10 minutes. 
Add the quantity of chopped carrots and celery desired. Cover and simmer for another 15 or 20 minutes. Then stir in the curry, cumin and cilantro.

This is good with Bisquik gluten free biscuits (which, as you'll see, is one of the other things I made), but I think it's better with Mahatma saffron rice, as pictured on the left. It's really tasty, easy to make, apparently lasts much longer than the printed expiration date (but don't blame me if that turns out to be wrong in your case), costs $1 a packet and is apparently on sale pretty often as well. You can find it in the Asian/Ethnic section of your grocery store.
Finally, squeezing lemon juice onto your lentil soup when you're ready to serve it or adding a few dashes of Green Pepper Sauce is really tasty.

Moving right along, one of my new favourite recipes is for crustless goat cheese and vegetable mini quiches. The recipe I got them from instructs you to make them in ramekins, but you don't need to get $15-for-a-set-of-4-at-Walmart fancy. I didn't even bother looking for some at thrift stores, not right before the biggest cooking holiday of the year. A muffin pan works fine, and cute little babby quiches are easier to share.

All you need is:

2 eggs and 5 egg whites
2 cloves of garlic
Veggies of your choice (pictured above is with zucchini, pictured below is with asparagus)
A wee bit of oil, and
approx. 5 ounces of goat cheese of your preferred level of flavour; semi-hard cheese sold in triangular blocks works just as well as the softer stuff.

Preheat your oven to 425. Put the garlic in your food processor until it's minced. Add the eggs and goat cheese and puree. That's about it. 

If you're using zucchini or another type of squash as well, cut it into slices and salt and drain it thoroughly on towels first. My leftover zucchini quiches were great, but the zucchini was still a little watery even though I salted and drained mine very thoroughly. If you're using asparagus, cut it into the desired size, toss it in olive or vegetable oil, place the desired quantity in each muffin space and stick the pan in the oven right when you turn it on to start them cooking. 

After you pour the quiche mixture into the pan, in any case, it should bake about 15 minutes. Watch the sides, they'll brown first. Keep in mind not to keep your oven on for a long while and, say, make gluten free biscuits and a green been casserole first, because even though you readjust the temperature, your oven may be too hot and overcook the sides of your quiches.

...As pictured.

They're still really good, though. :D

The only thing you can really do with extra egg yolks is make egg custard with them. I'd never done this before, and it didn't work at all. 
It's been a long time since I've made something that came out inedible, so it was pretty upsetting. The recipe seemed really simple and I followed it exactly, even letting the custard cook an extra 5 minutes or so because it didn't look set, so I'm not sure where I went wrong. It never did set. This is more or less how it's supposed to look, but I'm not going to post the failed recipe I used:

Onto the next item of the feast. I winged it with my last recipe and it came out great. I decided to use the mushrooms and mushroom soup I already had to make a green bean casserole at like 11 AM on Thanksgiving. 

Keep in mind that this recipe is not gluten or wheat free; creamy soups commonly contain flour as a thickening agent, and this is true of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom as well. This is not usually enough to bother me, but even a tiny bit of flour can make someone who is intolerant to gluten very sick. If you're not a vegetarian I'd recommend using chicken broth and cream, possibly with some of the Bisquik mix or with all purpose GF flour as a thickening agent. I sprinkled a bit of Bisquik into mine and it worked fine. 

Like I said, I totally winged this one with no recipe and no real measurements, so I guess I'm just posting it to offer an idea of one way to make this. This is also an onion-free green bean casserole.

The quantity of fresh green beans and white button or cremini (which are more savory) mushrooms you choose to use depends on the size of your casserole dish. Remember that the mushrooms will shrink substantially when cooked. 

Preheat the oven to 475. Wash, trim and cut your green beans in half. Parboil (that is, something between blanching and fully cooking) your green beans for 6 or 7 minutes, then drain them and rinse with cold water to slow or stop them cooking. 

While they're boiling, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a large pan and throw in your mushrooms, cut into bite-size pieces. Once they've started to brown and reduce a bit, add two cloves of minced garlic and spices to taste. I threw in salt, pepper, a little cumin, thyme and curry powder. 

Cook this all together another minute or so and add a can of Campell's Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic. Fill the can with milk and add this as well. When the mixture looks like you're ready to be done cooking it (no exact time, this is how I roll, don't be annoyed), add the green beans. Fold them in so you don't crush them. Pop this into the oven for about 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Starting sometime while the mushroom mixture is cooking, add a little vegetable oil to another pan - or wait until it's done cooking and use that pan - and throw in the desired quantity of frozen  (or homemade, if you got time fo dat) hash browns. I added a bit of garlic salt and some curry powder to mine right when I threw them in, to create curried hash brown potatoes. Cook until sufficiently crispy and use to top your casserole.

Edit: I also had some leftover asparagus (tossed in oil) from the quiches and, after tossing the pieces in a saucepan on medium-low heat for a bit, used them and 1/3 cup of milk, about 3/4 cup of vegetable broth, a little salt and pepper and the juice of half a lemon to make a single bowl of asparagus soup. Simply put it all in a food processor and puree. It's really good with freshly grated parmesan cheese on top, too, or you can melt the cheese into little chips by sprinkling piles of them onto wax paper and sticking them in the oven, if you feel like getting fancy. I just have the Kraft powdered kind, so I mixed some of that in.

And viola! That was basically what my Thanksgiving dinner looked like.

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