Everything’s Better with Brandy

Lentil Soup with Brandy

A while ago I came across a recipe for lentil soup with bourbon, a combination which makes me feel that through the sheer power of its ingredients alone it will conjure into being a roaring fire and possibly even some kind of alpine hut to go along with it. Perfect winter soup, in other words. Tonight I wanted something warm, and relatively simple, and filling, preferably with protein. But it turned out the aforementioned recipe called for red lentils, which I’m somehow out of, and of course bourbon, which I don’t own.

Veganomicon Cookbook!

I did, however, have brown and French green lentils, a big bottle of brandy I use for cooking, and a shiny new copy of the amazing Veganomicon, a perfect Chanukah present from my mom for both Duck (vegan) and me (cookbook-obsessed vegetarian girlfriend of vegan).

I decided to make Veganomicon‘s yummy-sounding French Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme. At the end I added my own finishing touch – fresh spinach and a generous splash (well, more of a pour, really) of brandy. And I can now state quite confidently that, when it comes to lentil soup, at least, everything’s better with brandy.

Recipe can be found beyond the “more” below. Continue reading

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Sweet Potatoes, Snack-style

The last few boxes of sweet potatoes have come with newsletter entries urging me to eat them as soon as possible. As usual, I have quite the backlog of vegetables piling up, and the sweet potatoes, as warned, are not exhibiting the kind of hardiness that I generally use as an excuse to leave my potatoes in the back of the cupboard for a month or more. I knew the smartest means to total sweet potato consumption would not be to transform them into a healthy and filling stew or casserole. No, if I was to save these fellows fromSpicy Sweet Potato Fries withering in upon themselves as they seemed inclined to do, they must become snack food as quickly as possible.

I found a delicious sounding recipe for Spicy Sweet Potato Fries online at an attractive food blog called Kalyn’s Kitchen and decided to give it a try. I usually fiddle at least a little with every recipe I try, but this one seemed to need no improvement, and I made it exactly as written. And YUM! was I glad I did. Those potatoes were gone in record time. I now have a little baggie of premixed seasoning in my spice drawer, waiting happily for the next round of sweet-potato-into-snack.

Having fries around even inspired me to do something I haven’t done in a long time: make a good old-fashioned all-American cheeseburger. The vegetarian, gluten-free version, of course, but it was still a kind of nostalgic treat. In addition to my spicy sweet potato fries my burger deluxe included daikon pickles and lettuce from my box.

Cheeseburger and Fries

 

A bowl of gratitude

I Am DIY Rice Bowl

A few times a year I’ll become obsessed with a particular dish from a particular restaurant. My appetite tends to be a tumultuous and fickle thing, and some days I’ll parade every food I can think of before my mental stomach and only to have each one met by nausea. It is then that my thoughts turn to the magic dish, whatever concoction it is that has become, not just an obsession, but somehow the only thing my body finds acceptable. Right now that panacea-on-a-plate is the absurdly named I Am Accepting Sushi Rice Bowl from a restaurant called Cafe Gratitude.

Cafe Gratitude is a kind of pricey, mostly raw, entirely vegan restaurant with three locations around the Bay Area. The general response around town to CG’s very particular aesthetic seems to be a mixture of disdain, confusion, and either worshipful or grudging appreciation of the food. Be that as it may, that singular rice bowl has become, for me, an addiction.

I crave this dish to the point that I really can’t be running off to spout affirmations and spend $10 every time I want a warm spoonful of nutty red rice with kale and avocado that feels in my mouth like the superpowered pinnacle of all that is healthy and nourishing. I even tried sneaking a look at the recipe given in the I Am Grateful cookbook, for sale at all CG retail outlets, but the recipe was quite clearly not the one used by the restaurant. Today I happened to come across a gorgeous post on 101 Cookbooks with a recipe for Poached Eggs Over Rice, and since this was almost what I wanted, but still not quite the thing, I was inspired to call the cafe and just ask them what’s in that bowl of Acceptance.

This turned out to lead to one of those magical, karmic CSA-box experiences. Rory over at CG very nicely looked up for me the components in the dressing, which was the heretofore missing piece. And so I realized I was going to have to make my reproduction without scallions, cucumber, avocado, and orange juice – and that’s a lot of flavor elements to lose. The avocado I was already planning to substitute with poached egg, but the orange juice was especially sad, since my palate immediately recognized OJ as vital to the brightness of the dish.

But when I headed off to see if I had any greens in my as-yet unpacked box, I found that not only did I have a lovely bunch of collards, but that this week’s box also brought two unexpected ingredients: a bunch of fat scallions and three navel oranges!

In short, this dish turned out amazing, easily equal to if not tastier than the original, and well able to satisfy those cravings with very little effort. And so from now on I think you’ll find that, if I’m going to be declaring aloud my general state of acceptance, I’m going to be doing it in my pajamas.

The recipe for the I Am DIY Rice Bowl (modified from the 101 Cookbooks recipe) can be found below the more… tag. Continue reading