Archive for April, 2008

Pho-licious

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I don’t know if you, my fellow blog readers, have noticed that I played it pretty safe with my recipes that I cook. Most things I make I have an idea of how it is going to taste and if it’s going to be a success. I don’t really like to cook things that could very possibly go wrong because I don’t like to waste food. Oh, and I don’t like to be a failure, of course!! The epic fail that were the original kale chips forced me to hide in a corner for 2 days while thinking about giving up cooking forever. Yeah-I don’t like to fail. Flavors I know will work together, predictable ingredients and stuff that I can buy in my local grocery store.

This past Sunday, however, I jumped waaay outside my comfort zone. Cause I’m crazy like that. Leng had posted a simple recipe for vegetarian Pho last week (or longer…my mind is going blank) that she has come up with. The second I saw her post, I thought “whoa-that’s a little crazy for me.” Yeah-I’ve had pho before. And I love it. It might be one of my favorite foods. That and Nutella of course. (Maybe my next experiment will be finding a way to combine pho and Nutella. Hmmm-maybe not). But, it’s such a complex dish with so many different flavors that I didn’t trust my self-taught culinary skills. Pho is fancy and crazy and not fail-proof!!! i.e. not Betsy’s ego boosting and possibly ego bruising. However, I took another look at her recipe, which was actually pretty basic, and decided to be fancy and crazy and adventerous (like the pho) and try it out. And yeah, I did.

Before I started, though, I needed to take a little field trip down to Chinatown, which is, thank god, quite close to my apartment so it wasn’t too out of the way. I needed to find my pho noodles, of course! Chinatown is such a fun neighborhood and one I really should explore a little more. There are soo many restaurants and stores and food shops and stalls full of different ingredients that could be sooo fun to experiment with. It took many trips into several stores to finally find my pho noodles which I stumbled upon at a store that sold only noodles in bins on the street. Works for me! And the whole package (which I really think could last me 5 years)-$1.00. !!!! I know!! Chinatown is definitely budget friendly.

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After picking up the rest of my ingredients, I got cooking. Well, I headed home and then got cooking. It was actually quite simple to put together. I simmered the broth with lots of onions and ginger and anise (I basically ransacked the entire city for star anise but couldn’t find any. I think it’s a conspriacy) while I prepared my toppings-the best part of pho. I love going to a vietnamese restaurant and getting that little plate of toppings to make your bowl of pho however delicious you want it. One my cutting board I had little piles of herbs and onions and tofu and limes. It was so cute, I wish I had taken a picture of it. When the broth was almost done, I cooked my noodles, which were dried, not fresh like Leng had. But, they still cooked soooo fast, and cooked even more once they were in the soup. Once it was all done, I put the noodles and chunks of pressed and drained tofu in the bottom of my bowl, covered it with broth and piled on my toppings. Cilantro, mint, basil, bean sprouts, onion, scallions, lime, hoison, sriracha. All mixed together=pho deliciousness.

My first bite? Yeah-I was nervous. Was it going to taste as complex as I knew it should have? Had I used the right noodles? Had I cooked it enough? Would I end up back in the corner for days, my ego bruised? NO!!! It was fantastic. It warmed my belly and soul with every tasty bite. Salty and sweet and sour and bitter. All the flavors represented. Every bite was different as I got a different herb in my spoon or a piece of onion. Going back and forth between the spoon and chopstocks-broth and noodles, is always fun. It was not boring, to say the least. It was like a party in a bowl! And not a blah party that would leave me shy. It was a party that made me excited and kinda crazy. Cause that’s how this pho made me. Excited and kinda crazy. Leng-you’re amazing. Yeah.

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Vegetarian Pho
makes about 4 servings

2 quarts veggie broth
1 teaspoon anise seeds
1 big chunk of ginger
1 yellow onion
Cilantro
Basil
Mint
Scallions
Bean Sprouts
Limes
Hoisin Sauce
Sriracha
Pho noodles
Extra Firm Tofu, pressed and drained, cut into bite size chunks

Saute half of the onion (chopped into half moons) in a little bit of oil (not extra virgin olive oil) in a large pot for about 10 minutes until slightly charred and soft. Add the broth, anise seeds, and ginger that has been chopped into about 4 large chunks. Simmer for about 25-30 minutes on low. While that is cooking prepare your toppings: LOTS of chopped fresh herbs, thinly sliced onions, sliced scallions, lime wedges, bean sprouts. Cook the pho noodles according to the package (I boiled water and added some noodles and turned off the water when I added the noodles and let sit for about 5 minutes.)

Put the noodles and tofu chunks in the bottom of a bowl. Fill the bowl with the broth. Top the soup with whatever toppings your heart desires, including hoisin cause and sriracha, however spicy you want it. Eat it slowly with as your belly becomes warm and very very happy.

Your ego will thank you.

Running Update #9: The Knee of Doom

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The only running I’ve done is in my dreams while sleeping pretty unsoundly.

This has been one hard week. All I’ve been thinking about is my knee, running and the race. Every person at work who asked me how I was I would launch into a long and intense rant about how I hurt my knee, the half marathon, my frustration etc. I think my coworkers were more sick of hearing about it than I was talking about it and dealing with it. But, it’s literally been the only think on my mind, I could barely do my work.

So, after tons of googling and reading Runnersworld.com, what I have is patellar tendinitis. It’s tendinitis of the tendon that connects quad and the kneecap at the tibia and causes pain in the front of the knee, below the kneecap. It’s caused by overusage and an increase in mileage. Yup and yup. Solution? Rest, ice, stretching. Time. That last one is something I don’t have. I have 6 days, not 60. And that super short length of time till the half is what’s really bringing me down. If I got this injury while I wasn’t training for something I probably wouldn’t be so depressed. But the fact that I got injured so close to something that I decided to do last September and I have been talking about and thinking about ever since is what kills me the most. That and running has turned into something that brings me so much joy, pleasure and a sense of accomplishment. Right now, I have lost that and unfortunately I don’t know when I am going to regain that.

However, I finally have some good news. After 6 days of feeling like I wasn’t feeling any improvement in my knee, yesterday there was improvement. I could walk around without it hurting and go up and down stairs almost normally. And I could work out (elliptical and biking)-something I haven’t been able to do without pain and therefore wasn’t doing it. And today, I actually forgot about my knee for about 4 hours! I have literally been thinking about it since the second it started hurting, so to forget about for a bit was a huge improvement and meant that it wasn’t hurting. It has actually barely hurt at all today. Horray!

And if you asked me this past Friday if I was going to run the race, I would have said with close to 100% certainty no. But today, I can say it’s looking much better. Much much much more likely. In fact, I would say that it is very probable that I am going to run. I am not making my decision until Friday night (race is Saturday), so stay tuned. But, to finally have some decent news is lifting my spirits up tons and is something I need sooo bad. I need a better week. I need something positive. And it’s looking like things are getting positive. Hopefully…

Oh, and this week will have many more posts than last week-pathetic I say!

Stay tuned to a post Friday night with my final decision.

By the way, thanks to everyone for your kind works, support and advice. It has helped a lot to hear everyone’s comments especially for something that is effecting me so intensely. Yay bloggers!

Quinoa for Fennel Lovers

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First, sorry it has been so long since a new post. I’ve had a rough week, both in terms of work and with my knee. It’s been very frusturating and I’ve lost a bit of motivation to do much. More on that this weekend. But, I’m getting back on track and putting up a new blog post that I’ve been meaning to do since Monday seems like a good way to start.

I love fennel. Seriously and utterly love it. It has such a distinct and refreshing flavor that I could probably take a fennel bulb and eat it like an apple if I had the guts. But that would be weird…and I’m not quite THAT weird. The flavor, however, is not, by any means, for everyone. If you hate licorice, you might not like it. If you hate vegetables, you might not like it. However, if you hate vegetables, this might not be the blog for you. I suggest you look away. If you do like vegetables that kinda taste like licorice and are very crispy and refreshing, please, continue!

I first started really loving fennel early last summer when I started shopping regularly at the Green Market (the farmers market) in Union Square. Before last June, I rarely went because it isn’t super close and it never crossed my mind to go. This is kinda odd, however, because I always love going to the farmers market in Cleveland and love fresh vegetables and fruits, so you would think the Green Market would be first on my list when I moved to New York. It wasn’t, though, I think my brain was off for a year. Anyway, one Saturday morning last June, I decided to try it out and ventured out on the 25 minute walk to Union Square. Wow. The Green Market is truely amazing. There is so much produce of every sort there-all local and in season of course. Along with pies and jams and other yummies. I could have spent my entire life savings there the first time. (However, I do want to do a full post another time on the Green Market, so I’m not going to go much further.) But, being the penny-pincher that I am, I had a budget of $20 that I was going to stick to. So, I looked for everything that was really cheap. And one of the things I found was a stand selling beautiful looking fennel bulbs for $.50 each. 50 cents!!! I’m a girl who loves a bargain, so I was smitten. I bought one, stuck it in my bag and ventured off to the rest of the massive market to use every last penny.

I had only had fennel a couple of times before that, so I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. And, I had never had it raw. Crazy-I know. So, in order to experience it in all it’s fresh glory, I had it raw, in a salad. And it was a-mazing. I can seriously remember that salad (I ate it while watching The French Connection) and remember every enjoyable bit when I happened to pick of a chunk of fennel with my fork. Since then, it has been pure love. For the rest of the summer and early fall, the stand with the fennel was always my first stop at the market so I could get a bulb before they sold out (being the only farmer that sold fennel, this happened fast) and have loved every crispy, licorice-y bite. Yum.

It’s not fennel season yet right now though. Which almost brings tears to my eyes, but not quite. Because Whole Foods has been selling beautiful fennel-not for 50 cents but for $1.50-which has fueled my fennel addiction. When I was there this past Sunday, crabby and depressed from my knee, a beautiful, unblemished bulb called to me from the distant top shelf that often gets ignored in the produce department. Although it might not be considered comfort food to most people, fennel was my comfort food that night.

The rest of the dish I concocted around the fennel. I decided to make a moroccan(ish) quinoa that I would stir the fennel into. And I had a container of currants that had been sitting on my refrigerator for (literally) a year, unopened. That would be a nice addition. As well as some toasted pine nuts. And fennel seeds (can’t leave those out!) I ended up cooking the fennel seperate from the quinoa because I wanted it to stay crispy and I wanted a nice burnt crust to it. I sauteed it in a non-stick pan with a teeny bit of olive oil while the quinoa was cooking and I did it over a pretty high heat so I could get it a little burnt while still staying crispy. When the quinoa and the fennel was done, I stirred it all together and it was perfect. Seriously, a perfect dish. The little pine nuts and the plump currants and the fennel seeds were so amazing, as well as the spiced quinoa. But, oh that fennel, with little bits of quinoa stuck to it, was right on the money. And it gave the the much needed comfort I was begging for.

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I like this picture because you can see all the ingredients: fennel, pine nuts, currants, fennel seeds, and of course the quinoa.

Curry Quinoa with Fennel (serves 2 good sized dinner portions)

1 bulb of fennel, quartered and sliced
1/3 + 1/4 cups of quinoa
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons dried currants
1 teaspoon yellow curry
1/2 teaspoon red curry
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1-2 teaspoons fennel seeds
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 + 3/4 cups of water

First, toast the pine nuts in a non-stick pan on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Watch very carefully and toss nuts very frequently to prevent burning. Set aside. Combine the quinoa, spices, fennel seeds, salt, pepper and water in a pot. Stir ingredients so everything is combined evenly, cover with a lid and put it on medium-low heat. In an non-stick pan, put about a half a teaspoon of olive oil and add the fennel that has been sliced. Cook this over medium-high heat until it’s cooked to your desired doneness. I kept it crunchy but seared, about 10 minutes, stirring pretty frequently (every minute or so). When the quinoa is finished cooking (about 15 minutes-all the water will be absorbed and the quinoa will have ‘sprouted’), combine the quinoa and fennel. Please enjoy!!

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I gobbled mine down with new chopsticks I picked up this past weekend at Pearl River Mart. Soo cute!!

Running Update #8: Grrrr

WTF!!!!

I wish I could just leave it at that and call it a night, but I guess I have to provide an explanation.

After my absolute steller week last week, I was really looking some good running this week, especially with 3 weeks to go. However, I guess the only direction to go after a really good week is down.

Tuesday and Thursday I had pretty good runs. Tuesday I did my normal 5 mile tempo, between 7 and 8 mph. It wasn’t as good as last weeks and I was quite tired during it (I seriously felt like I was going to fall asleep at one point), but it was fine nonetheless. However, that evening, after I left the gym I noticed my left knee was bothering me a bit. Nothing significant (or at least so I thought) and it was gone the next day. Thursday, however, my left knee was bothering me when I started running. The run, however, besides the bit of pain, was really really good and strong. But, once again, by the next day there was nothing. I was prepared to feel a little pain during my Saturday long run, but wasn’t sure how it was going to be.

When Saturday morning rolled around, the sun was shining, it was fairly warm and my knee wasn’t bothering me. I ran up and down the “hallway” a few times, and nothing. I thought I was good to go. I threw on my t-shirt and shorts (!!!! I haven’t run in shorts, besides at the gym, for about 8 months), filled up my fuel belt, stuck on my hat and headed out. I decided to do the same route I did last week because I enjoyed it so much, and the Pope was up by Central Park and I DID NOT want to get caught in that mess up there. Lots of people, lots of baricades, lots of police and security=no very conducive to good running. It was perfect (PERFECT!!) weather outside. About 65 degrees and sunny with a nice breeze. And I was out pretty early, around 8:15, so the path was nice and empty.

I felt pretty good right off the bat. My knee wasn’t bothering me at all, so I though that it might have been some odd fluke that I wouldn’t have to worry about. Little did I know…
Most of the routes around Manhattan, besides Central Park, are really flat, and I was running on a path as flat as a pancake for the entire, except for the Brooklyn Bridge, which goes uphill to flat to downhill (and repeat because I turn around at the end and go back). Well, the downhill on the bridge was when it happened. My knee started hurting soooo badly. For those of you who are curious, the pain was in the lower-front part of the knee and hurt when I pushed off my left food. Anyway, the downhill was so painful that I was running with a limp. When I turned around, going back up the bridge, it stopped hurting as I went uphill and during the flat part. But, once I hit that downhill again, I was in major pain. When I got to the bottom of the bridge, I was basically freaking out. I’ve never had to deal with such pain while I was running. I’ve run with shin splints before but those always stopped bothering me after the first 5 or so minutes. I could tell that this wasn’t going to go away.

So, I had to make a decision. I was in a good location where I could go home easily, or I could continue (on flat terrain) for the rest, which was about 7 miles. I decided to try to keep going, and if after about 2 minutes, if it kept bothering me, I would turn around. If not, continue. And, I felt good again. And I kept on going. This part of the run was fun though. I started running behind a girl when I got back along the path after the bridge and noticed that she was running at my pace. She knew I was behind her, and I continued behind her, about 10 feet behind, or a bit. We passed each other several times and had a lot of fun with it. It was fun being competitive with some random person, and I knew she was having fun too. She made me push myself, and I think i made her push herself too. She passed me for good when I ran into a friend along the West Side Highway. A girl I went to college with who I ALWAYS forget lives in the city was running and I had a nice chat with her and we made plans to get a drink. Hopefully we will! However, this is where it went waaay downhill.

When I started running again after I left Deena (my friend), my knee was hurting. Bad. Like, almost couldn’t run at all bad. And I wasn’t running it off. I thought of one of my best friends who, this past fall, ran through the Marine Corps Marathon with a knee injury and that took me about a mile further, but it really did get to the point where I couldn’t run any further. I was limping as I was running and knew I had no choice. So, I stopped. I have never ever stopped a run early. I knew I had to, but it still, mentally, was really hard to do. I got to the nearest place I could cross off the highway, at 14th street and really almost started crying because I was so disappointed. Ugh!! The walk from 10th ave to 7th ave along 14th st. was one of the worst. I wasn’t in a lot of pain, but I was really quite upset. I did run into Gossip Girl being shot around 9th ave (nope-didn’t see the uber-hot actor that plays Dan) which was fun, but not enough fun.

I really didn’t want to walk all the way home, so I stretched pretty intensely at 7th ave., and started running again. I almost didn’t care how much it hurt, I just wanted to get home. It hurt ALOT at first, but pretty much went way, and I jogged pretty easily all the way home (the run ended up being a little over 11 miles). When I got there, my younger sister was there (she was staying with me) and I’m glad. I think that if I was one my own, I probably would have completely broken down. The frustration of getting an injury, whether temorary or something more serious (of which I’m not sure which this is yet) was overwhelming, especially because I only have 2 weeks till the half marathon. She talked me through it and made me feel a little better. One of the worst parts, however, was that besides the knee problems, my run was wonderful and I felt great. When I stopped, I could have gone on for much longer, I had alot of gas left in me.

The rest of the day, however, my knee was quite stiff and I was walking quite slowly and man-was I grouchy (sorry Maggie!!!!). Today, it felt a tad bit better, but every once in a while, I would step on a weird angle and the knee would kill. Also, it hurts to go down stairs. And all I could think of was how this is going to effect my race and whether this is serious and something that a little rest and ice can’t fix. But, the only was I can know that is through time.

So, for the next week, no running at all. I know I’m going to really want to, but I know it will make it worse and that is the last thing I want to do. But, I’m bummed and pissed and upset. I think grrrr really sums it up. Grrrrr.

Kale Chips: Success!

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they’re crispy!

it’s true. I cracked the secret code that everyone has been sharing around the internet about kale chips but hiding from me.

But seriously, thanks for all your awesome advice. I lowered the heat (350), tore the kale into smaller pieces and gave them more room on the cookie sheet. And I made them twice this week. And no fire alarm blaring in my apartment!!! Success. Serious, perfect success. Crispy, salty, healthy success. Kale success.

From now on, kale chips every night. Well, not every night, but I won’t hesitate making them. And I can make them at 4am without waking my building from my smoke detector. Cause I make kale chips at 4am…don’t you?

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Super quick post before I head to catch some zzzzzzs.

So, I feel like whenever I post a new recipe, in my review I rave and rave about how good it was. Delicious. Mouth-watering. Yummy. Makes my tummy happy. Stuff like that. But, I have mess-ups too. I’m human. I swear. When I was in 8th grade, my friend Danielle and I used to make up recipes all the time. I remember we had a roaring success with some muffin-like things with graham cracker bases and apples and stuff in the middle. Memory-where are you? However, the ultimate disaster was when we tried to make cookies out of stuff in my cabinet including peanut butter and whipped egg whites that were only half whipped cause my arm got tired. We ended up with pancakeish floppy cookies that totally spread in the oven and didn’t taste good one bit. (Mom-do you remember this? I think you made fun of us.) Therefore, you know know I’m not perfect-I am susceptible to kitchen disasters.

Last night, I had, not really a disaster, but not by any means something that was near success. I decided I wanted to make some pan-seared falafel-y cake things. I don’t know where I got the idea but it’s been floating in my head for a long time. In hindsight, I should have let it float a little longer to flush out the idea more. So, here’s what I did.

I combined 1 cup of chickpeas with about 1/4 cup of finely chopped cilantro, 1/6 cup of finely chopped parsley, about 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 tablespoon of the garlic breadcrumbs that I had leftover from the cassoulet, salt, pepper and about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. I smushed it all together with a potato masher and that’s where I hit my problem. I was hoping that the mixture would come together pretty easily and it didn’t. It was very very dry and crumbly. I did snag a little bite and it tasted fine. But, I had no idea what to add that would make it come together and emulsify the combo (besides eggs, which I didn’t have and didn’t want to use in the first place).

So, I was just going to try my best and attempt to make patties out of the mixture. I tried-I tried so hard. I pressed and pressed handfuls of the mashed ingredients together-and it took a LOT of major man power to get it to resemble even the slightest patty. After lots of work, before cooking, I ended up with 5 kinda falling apart falafel patties. I put 3 in a non-stick pan with a bit of olive oil and hoped for the best. 2 basically fell mostly apart right away and 1 stayed intact. When I flipped them, I lost all hope for the 2 falling apart ones and the other was ok. Same thing happened with the last 2. 1 stayed ok (but fell apart when I put it on my plate) and the other turned into something that looked like a tofu scramble.

Here’s the best looking one:
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And here’s the rest:
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This is not what I was going for! It looks really similar to the tofu scramble I made a few weeks ago, eh? I was hoping for fairly solid patties that held up their shape and looked like little pancakes. Ugh. I still ate it all, cause that’s how I roll. The scraps (cause, really, that’s what it was, in the end) tasted quite good, very much on the dry side, but good. So, I think I have the flavor part down. I just need a binder. Something to pull it together.

Ok everyone-I need your help again! Any suggestions for a binder? I want to keep it vegan so no eggs or dairy or pig fat please. Thoughts??? Muchisimas gracias!

Cassoulet My Way

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Before Breadcrumbs

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After Breadcrumbs; before consuming (duh)

First of all, I apologize for the uber-cheesy rhyming title. Second, holy crap, work is busy!!! Wow-I know my job is not one of those “I never had anything to do” type of jobs and I’m always got lots on my plate. But I never knew my job could be as crazy as it has been lately!! Man-oh-man. And our email was down all today and might be down tomorrow. Yikes!! Hopefully all this will ease up soooooooon. Or I might melt. Probably not, but maybe. Ok-enough random shit!

I first had cassoulet when my mom made me a vegetarian version about 2 years ago (I think. My amazing memory is failing me. 😦 ) Cassoulet is a traditional French stew with lots of white beans and pork and duck and other stuff I don’t eat, and all topped with breadcrumbs. My mom’s version was really really good, but I remember standing in the kitchen scraping the breadcrumbs off the top while yelling at my mom that I hate breadcrumbs on things. Sorry Mom-I was going through a moody time (waaay-post adolescent moodiness-does that exist?), and should have appreciated all the time and energy you put into making something just for me! Cause you know no one else in the house was going to eat it. Sorry!! Anyway, it was really rich and tasty and warm and perfect. The beans were so good along with the bits of tomato and leeks. Yum…Mom-do you have that recipe?? However, close to when I ate all that deliciousness, I totally forgot all about cassoulet.

The next time I was it was when I was watching the Cleveland episode of No Reservations on the Travel Channel, Anthony Bourdain’s show. I know he’s not a popular guy around the vegetarian and vegan community (he once called Vegans the Hezbollah-like splinter of vegetarians…I disagree), but I enjoy his show! I’m going to go hide in a corner now and hang my head in shame. But, I can still watch while disagreeing with a lot he says…right? RIGHT??? Well, anyway…he did a show back in the Fall or Winter (really not sure…stupid memory) on Cleveland that I just loved. He painted Cleveland in a very true-to-self way and very honest. He showed that Cleveland is an industrial town that is not really thriving and has had better times, but it is still a charming city with lots of great people and great culture. If you ever catch it on TV-please watch it. I’ve never really seen a portrait of my city so real.

Anyway, part of the episode was Bourdain with his buddy Michael Ruhlman (a fellow Cleveland Heights-er and alum of my Dad’s school) making a cassoulet in Ruhlman’s kitchen. This cassoulet is a bit different than the one my mom made-it is FILLED with pork and sausage and duck and other stuff I don’t eat. I would not have taken a bite of that if you paid me, but I have to admit, it looked darn good. Crusty and full of healthy beans, it was a good-looking dish. And re-ignited my interest in cassoulet, without the animal products, of course.

And then…the good people over at Gourmet magazine smiled on me. Literally. They published a recipe for vegetarian cassoulet. It’s like the read my mind!!! I needed this recipe. I needed to make it. And although I could have just gotten the recipe online, I stole it. Shhhhh. I was at Grand Central last month and was looking through magazines at the magazine store waiting for my train as I often do, and picked up Gourmet. I stumbled upon the recipe and got so excited! It was beautiful and knew I had to make it asap. But, I also knew I was going to forget about it and didn’t want to buy the magazine. (I’m cheap-remember?) So, I very quietly tore out the recipe. Friends-don’t hate me! Don’t think I’m a horrible person!! I never ever do this…I don’t know what came over me! Moving on from my moral slip-up.

So, I had the recipe but didn’t get around to making the recipe till this past Sunday. I adjusted it a bit, made it a little smaller (I didn’t need 8 servings!) and got it underway. The different thing about this particular cassoulet recipe is that it isn’t baked, which makes it less time consuming. And it’s good. Darn good. Worth the moral slip-up good. The cloves gave it a really unique flavor and the entire thing thickened up really nicely. Warm and comforting on probably the last weekend I can make warming food (almost time for summer food!). It doesn’t take a long time and is quite a winner. Lots of beans and lots of leeks and lots of general good-ness. And don’t even think about leaving off the breadcrumbs!!! Mom-I was wrong. The breadcrumbs make the dish. Do you forgive me?

Vegetarian Cassoulet (adapted from Gourmet Mag.)

3 leeks-white and pale green parts, sliced in half into 1/2 inch pieces. WELL WASHED.
3 carrots, 1 inch pieces
2 celery stalks, 1 inch pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil
lots of fresh thyme
3 sprigs of fresh parsley
1 bay leaf.
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
salt & pepper
1 LARGE can of cannolini beans, rinsed
a little less than a quart of water or veggie broth (I used broth)
1.5 cups breadcrumbs
more olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 chopped parsley

Saute the leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, cloves and salt & pepper (to taste) in olive oil in a large dutch oven. Do this over medium-low heat so you don’t burn it or cook it too fast for about 15 minutes until leeks are totally cooked but carrots are still slightly crispy. Add the beans and water/broth and simmer for about 30 minutes or until it thickens. If it doesn’t thicken, mash some beans with a potato masher.

While the stew is cooking, combine the breadcrumbs, garlic and olive oil thoroughly, spread on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. But, watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn. I almost burned mine. Once removed from the oven, transfer breadcrumbs to a bowl and stir on chopped parsley.

When everything is done, top each individual serving with about 1-2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs. Consume and think about the guilt you have about stealing a recipe from a magazine at Grand Central Station.