January 2007 Archives

I promised a review

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... of the cookbook I bought called "A Year in the Vegetarian Kitchen", by Jack Bishop.

So far, of all the recipes I've tried, only one was sub-par (Red Curry-Braised Tofu with Snow Peas, Red Pepper, and Scallions), but only because I accepted his warning about trying Red Curry paste in small increments until you are used to it's heat. I should have just gone with the full addition of curry paste and it would have been perfect.

Here is a list of what I've made so far:
Carribbean Black Beans with Sauteed Plantains
Cold Emerald Peanut-Sesame Noodles
Spicy Pan-Glazed Tofu
Quick Tomato-Basil Sauce
Pan-Fried Noodle Cake with Stir-Fried Bok Choy

Most of the recipes seem to be Asian or Italian-based, but not all. There are plenty of other flavors in the book.

The serving count / portion sizes of everything have been satisfying, as I generally make a recipe for four and pack up two servings for our lunches before serving our dinners. The exception to that is the Spicy Pan-Glazed Tofu, which we ate with steamed broccoli and brown rice, and we ate it all. In the book, Jack confesses that he and his wife usually do the same.

All in all, I am very satisfied with the book and I am glad I made the purchase. I bought it with the intention of cooking vegetarian meals at home, and have had no trouble doing that.

I did not plan to discard anything in my pantry or freezer, so there will be an occasional meat post in the future while I use up the contents, and I still have plenty of aseptic packs of chicken broth to use up before I clear that out of the pantry, but so far, with this book, it's been really easy to find something quick and enjoyable to make for dinner after work.

Since this was last night's dinner, I thought I'd post a review while it's still on my mind.

This was an amazingly quick recipe, full of flavor, and surprisingly filling. I served it with brown rice. On Skylar's recommendation, I tried the Trader Joe's frozen brown rice, and I found it to be much more tasty and with a better texture than their pre-cooked packaged rice. Plus the size of the package is small, which keeps us honest in the portion size!

I had to wait almost a week for the plantains to turn black and be ripe enough for eating, so if you want to make this, keep that in mind when you do your shopping.

Confession time - it calls for 4 servings, but we only eeked three out, it was so good that we both dug in to the for the lunchbox portions, leaving only one lunchbox portion left, which my husband ate today. We both really enjoyed it, and as long as we can find plantains, it will be on regular rotation.

Caribbean Black Beans with Sauteed Plantains
Source: A Year in the Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop 2004, p 374

Ladled into bowls, black beans spiked with garlic, chile, and citrus juices are topped with sauteed plantains. Use only the ripest, black or mostly black plantains. Rice (either on the side or served under the beans and plantains) makes and excellent addition to this meal.

2 large ripe plantains (mostly or all black)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 small jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves

Trim the pointed ends from the plantains. Cut the plantains into 2-inch chunks. Use a paring knife to slit the skin lengthwise in several places on each piece. Carefully remove the skin with your fingers and discard it. Cut each 2-inch chunk in half lengthwise.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the plantains and cook, turning once, until quite browned but not burned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the plantains to a plate and sprinkle with salt. Cover to keep warm.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the garlic, and the chile to the empty skillet. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans, orange juice, and lime juice and cook, stirring often, until the beans are heated through and have absorbed most of the juices, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt to taste.

Spoon beans into individual bowls. Top each portion with some sauteed plantains and serve.

I hope you've seen this: No FDA OK — yet — on cloned meat, milk If not, give it a read.

This is the last straw. My husband and I have been feeling sick when we eat beef lately and have decided to cut it out of our diet. Now this story comes along, and that sort of puts the nail in the coffin for us.

We are going to make an effort to avoid meat from now on. We may still eat it on occasion, but will reserve it for killer cravings or when we are being polite at friends homes or occasions like that.
Considering Mad Cow disease and now this, I just don't trust our government to keep the safety of the populace above the profits of big business and agriculture.

I'm not going to give up dairy yet, but that may come too, I just don't know. It's all so disgusting.

I just bought this book and made 2 good meals from it so far. I'll post reviews soon.

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