Recipes, both original and favorite ones from other authors. Vegetarian with vegan-friendly (most of the time!) options.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Campfire Stew

And now, after all that bread science, a completely fool-proof recipe.

Here's how I make vegetable stew: I go to the store or farmer's market or to my CSA box, whichever one has the best veggies at hand, and select one white starchy veg, like potatoes, rutabega, or turnips; one green, probably leafy veg, like kale, collards, chard, chicories, etc.; and one red or orange or yellow veg, probably carrots, but could be a winter squash. I'm thinking of a winter stew here, so I wouldn't be using tomatoes or peppers or any of that. I might throw in one bonus vegetable, from any of those categories.

Anyway, here's my campfire stew method: chop coarsely one or two onions. Throw them into the dutch oven with a good dollop of olive oil and cook over hot coals until the onion is cooked. Add the chopped vegetables. Add a container of vegetable broth plus water to cover, salt, pepper, and whatever herbs you have on hand: rosemary is a personal favorite. Cook, with only bottom heat or both bottom and top heat, checking and stirring often, until the vegetables and tender and the stew is creamy and thickened. Enjoy as is or with grated cheese on top. Also wonderful with a dab of butter.

Dutch Oven Raisin Walnut Maple Bread

Guess I'd better get posting if I want to get this recipe up here! And it was a good one. But I think I'd suggest it only for folks who already bake bread, and therefore already know what to expect and the science of baking bread and all that. Otherwise it's likely to be a frustrating experience and then you'll never make bread. But if you're not daunted, and decide to go ahead, let me know how it turns out!

I made this one completely vegan, so that poor Hibi could eat something truly yummy (on the theory that it was, indeed, going to turn out truly yummy) and to prove that I'm not an all mean mom. I'm only somewhat mean, like tonight when I just whipped up batter for Chocolate Snaps, full of butter and eggs. Heh.

Campfire Bread

Okay, I didn't do any measuring, or very little. So I'm just gonna tell you how I made it. I have made the Deluxe Raisin Bread recipe from Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book so many times I think I've internalized it. So, first I started about a cup of raisins, maybe a bit more, to cook in a couple of cups of water. As soon as it boiled I turned off the campstove and let them sit for a bit.

I poured warm water from the tap which at most campsites you wouldn't have, so you could heat it until it is *warm* but not hot. Anyway, about 1/2 cup warm water, then I stirred in two teaspoons of yeast (approximately). In a large bowl, I put a bunch of whole wheat flour, maybe 4 or 5 cups. Added 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, perhaps, and stirred.

I poured the water off the raisins into a measuring cup, or maybe a large yogurt container. I added some cold water and then stirred maple butter (but you could just as easily use regular maple syrup) in, I don't know, a couple or three spoonfuls. Hmm. I'm realizing that I don't think I used any oil. Well, that's interesting. Or maybe I did, but it would have been olive oil because that's the only kind I took camping. Maybe I did the first time and didn't the second and that's why it didn't turn out as well? Who knows.

I poured the water and the yeast mixtures into the flour and stirred, the usual Laurel's Kitchen way, making a batter with the stuff in the middle, then pulling more and more flour into the mix until it's all incorporated. I added some water because that's what it needed, but perhaps it'll need more flour for you. You want to end up with a nice, knead-able lump, but not too wet and not too much flour, either.

I never figured out a board for kneading on. I was thinking about washing the lid to one of my Rubbermaid containers really well, but it seems more trouble than it was worth. In the end I just kneaded it in the bowl, and it worked just fine. Just kind of a lazy way to spend a half hour or so, with friends walking by saying, "oh, what are you making???" So yeah, knead it for a while, until you can stretch out a piece into a paper-thin, or almost, sheet, without it tearing too much. Add the walnuts (or pecans), maybe about half a cup. I didn't even chop them, just broke them up with my fingers. And add the raisins. Knead in very well, then make the dough into a ball and then cover and let rise until a wet finger poked in one finger-joint deep makes a hole that doesn't return right away, probably about 1 1/2 hours, but outside in the cool air it can take much longer. If you don't need to, don't worry about warming the dough to rise--it'll have much better flavor if you leave it in the cool. If you need it to come out faster, go ahead and set it near the fire, but not too near!

When it's ready, wet your hands and push it down to expell all the air. Then pick up the mass and wrap the top part of the dough around to the other side, making a tight ball using all the top layer as a wrap around the ball. Let it rise again, about 45 minutes, and use the same test for doneness.

When it's done rising this time, put it in your dutch oven that's got a thin coat of shortening on it. Push it down to fit the bottom of the oven. Put the lid on and let it rise again, about 1/2 an hour. Toward the end of this rising time, take some maple syrup and brush it over the top of the bread. When it's done rising, bake in the methods I described for the apple pie below, using both bottom and top heat. Take care not to let it get too hot--the first time I made it, there was a huge log on the fire, that wasn't burning yet. I set my oven on the other side of that, and it shielded my oven from the intense heat. I think that's why it turned out so perfectly that time. Turn it often and check it often that it's not getting too much heat. When it is a nice, deep brown color and the edges have pulled from the sides somewhat, you can check to see if it's done. Take the oven away from the fire and tip it out onto a clean towel. Give it a thump on the bottom and if it sounds hollow, it's done!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Meatless Pastitsio

Someone from another blog asked about favorite meals, and I said this was one of ours. Since I have the recipe on my computer I thought I'd just transfer it to my blog. Pastitsio is a Greek dish that probably was originally Italian. You can find pastitsio at Greek festivals everywhere, but this version came originally from Food and Wine Magazine and had meat in it. I made it meatless and I think it's so much better (sorry, heresy!) than the kind you get at festivals.

I use penne instead of ziti, because I can't ever find ziti. And nowadays, I always make a small dish of vegan pastitsio alongside, for Hibi. I just make a small amount of bechamel using soy milk and olive oil, and either omit the cheese or use soy cheese.


1 quart milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup plus one tablespoon all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Two tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup dry red wine
2 ½ cups chopped canned or fresh tomatoes, with juices
½ cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound ziti or penne or rigatoni
¾ cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese (4 ½ ounces)
2 large egg yolks

In a medium saucepan or in the microwave, heat the milk until bubbles appear around the edge. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk over moderately high heat until light golden, about 1 minutes. Gradually whisk in the hot milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick, about 8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of pepper, and ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg. Press plastic wrap directly onto the sauce and let cool.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, but not brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, and then add the tomato paste. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is nearly evaporated. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano and sugar. Season the tomato mixture with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, until flavors are well blended and the sauce is thickened slightly.

Meanwhile, cook the ziti in a large pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain well, blot the pasta dry with a clean towel, and let cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 13 X 9 inch baking dish. Line the bottom of the dish with half of the ziti. Spread two cups of the white sauce on top of the ziti and then cover with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the cheese. Top with remaining ziti. Stir the egg yolks into the remaining white sauce and spread the sauce over the ziti. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges of the ziti are golden and the sauce is bubbling. Let the pastitsio stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Campfire "Spicy" Apple Huckleberry Pie

Here's the first of a couple of recipes I'll share that I made while we were camping. I found our "new" dutch oven at a garage sale. I think they were asking 8 bucks, and Paul offered 5, which they accepted. You can find these great cast iron babies at thrift stores or buy new at or a good camping store near you. Also essential are some other tools to use with your dutch oven, but if someone else has them at camp you can bum off them as I did. They are: a lid lifter and a shovel. Also helpful is a pair of fire tongs to move logs around. Oh, and don't forget a good pair of gloves, or at least a pot holder. Working around the fire gets very hot!

Prepare the dough: Mix 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Cut in (with pastry blender, two knives, or your clean-as-you-can-get-them fingers) 1 cup of butter (two sticks). Add cold water (at home I use ice cubes, but none at camp! Just fresh cold water) in small dribs and mix, until dough holds together. Form a disk and put in your ice chest to chill until you're ready to use it.

Prepare the filling: Pare, core and slice about 5 pounds of good apples (Paul found organic local apples for me to use, and they were tasty!) and put in the dutch oven. Add 1 1/2 cups huckleberries that your kids picked. Ah, they're so pretty, stemmed and washed they look like jewels. Here's the "spicy" part: add a couple of handfuls of candied ginger, minced. I kept saying "spicy" when I was telling what it was, to try to deter the kids--whenever a dessert came out, the kids would devour it in seconds. I wanted to give the adults a chance!

Put a stick of butter in the mix--you can use less, but I was daring and used a whole stick and it was *delicious*...and sugar, maybe about 3/4 cup. Put the lid on and cook in the campfire. Here's how you cook in a dutch oven in a campfire: Pull some hot coals out of the fire (still in the fire pit) and make a little bed with them, about as big as the bottom of your dutch oven. Put the dutch oven on top, then top with more hot coals. You can use just bottom heat or just top heat, and I think I used just bottom heat for this part.

Cook until the apple mixture is bubbly and has cooked some. Then take your pastry and roll to the size of your dutch oven. Cut steam vents in it....not really necessary, I suppose, but it's cute if you do. Then just lay it over the apple filling and cook. You need top and bottom heat for this part. Rotate the dutch oven periodically, and replace hot coals as necessary. We had mostly pine this year, which burns hot but the hot coals are soon cold. You have to adjust for different kinds of wood, considering how they burn. You'll know when this pie is done by the pastry being nice and brown and the gorgeous deep pink juices bubbling up over it. Trying to keep the kids from devouring it will take willpower, and will cause much guilt on your part and many sad faces on their part. Ask me how I know.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Squash Blossom Soup

Still no camera--I'll be going on vacation without it, unless it comes in tomorrow....but I had to share this soup for all of you with squash plants that are bearing a little too exuberantly! Slow them down by using up the little tiny ones and the blossoms. If they aren't bearing as exuberantly as all that, just use the male blossoms--the ones that don't have a little bump (or squash) behind it.

Squash Blossom Soup

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add one chopped onion, two minced cloves of garlic, and 1 teaspoon marjoram or oregano. Saute until barely wilted, about a minute. Stir in two chopped tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften, about a minute. Stir in as many coarsely chopped squash blossoms as you can find (recipe says 3/4 pound but I never have that many) and cook just until wilted, about 2 minutes.

Add 4-6 tiny zucchini or other squash, halved lengthwise (I use the tiny ones and the larger ones, just cut to be uniform), one minced jalepeno, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 8 cups of vegetable stock. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook until squash is just tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and serve.

We had this tonight with cheese slices and home-fried tortilla chips. Just cut corn tortillas into wedges and fry in oil. Let them drain on a paper bag and salt them. Divine!