Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower
Serves 4

Simple, rustic, and irresistible; this is a perfect autumn side dish.

1 head cauliflower, cut into small chunks
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
lemon juice (1/2 to 1 lemon, depending on size of cauliflower)
olive oil
coarse salt and cracked black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400F. While oven is heating, cut cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet

2. Scatter garlic all around cauliflower, squeeze lemon juice over each piece and drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and cracked black pepper.

Tip: If you do not have a juicer, the easiest way to juice the lemon is to roll it on the counter for about 10 seconds to break down the pulp, then slice in half and hold the fruit cut side up when you squeeze so that the seeds and pulp stay inside.

3. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until the florets are lightly browned, and enjoy!

For added dimension try sprinkling with shredded parmesan just before serving.

Click for printable recipe.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Recipe: Vegetarian Gravy

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so I thought I'd share my favorite vegetarian gravy recipe, which goes really well with Tofurkey and/or Quorn's Turk'y Roast. The recipe isn't limited to the holidays though - I make it year round as an accompaniment to one of Steve's favorite meals: sausage and mash. Many of the vegetarian gravy recipes I've tried have an unappealing fake taste, but the following recipe packs a hearty, full-bodied flavor similar to those made with meat drippings.

Vegetarian Gravy
Serves 4
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3/4 Cup chopped mushroom
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs butter
2 1/2 Cup vegetable broth (I use McKay's Chicken Style Instant Broth)
2 Tbs soy sauce (or Bragg's Liquid Amino)
4-5 Tbs flour
salt and pepper to taste



1. Melt butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven and add onion.

2. Sauté onion over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the onion is softened and browned, about 15 minutes.

3. When onions are browned and beginning to crisp, add mushrooms and garlic and sauté two minutes, stirring constantly.

4. Reduce heat to medium and add vegetable broth and soy sauce. Give everything a good stir, then add flour, one tablespoon at a time, stirring between each addition until flour is completely dissolved. Adjust seasoning and continue stirring for 8-10 minutes or until gravy reaches the desired thickness.

Serve over mashed potato...

...and the vegetarian sausage of your choice.

Note: Although McKay's makes a beef-style instant broth as well, I think it has a peculiar taste which doesn't work with this recipe. McKay's chicken-style broth is salty. If using it you will not need to add any salt or pepper, and it's best to use unsalted butter to keep the saltiness in check.

Click for printable recipe.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Recipe: Panko Pasta

Panko Pasta
Serves 4

This hearty dish incorporates pungent garlic, tart capers and spicy red pepper flakes with panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs for a crunchy twist on tortellini pasta. Don't substitute regular breadcrumbs for the panko, as I've attempted this recipe in the past with finely crushed breadcrumbs and there is just no comparison. I use spinach panko from Whole Foods, which runs $3.99 for a five ounce tub.

1 package tortellini
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs capers, drained
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbs panko breadcrumbs
1/2 Cup diced tomatoes
Parmesan cheese to taste



1. Mince garlic and combine with capers and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

2. Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Drizzle with olive oil and cover to keep warm.

3. While pasta is boiling, shred the Parmesan cheese.

4. Melt butter over med-low heat.

5. Add garlic-caper mixture and saute for one minute. You can also add the tomatoes during this step if you like them warmed. If not, add at the end.

6. Turn off heat and stir in panko.

7. Add garlic-panko mixture to pasta, and fold in tomatoes.

8. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan and enjoy!

Note: My husband isn't a big fan of tomatoes, so I went easy on them, but feel free to add up to one cup diced if you wish.

Click for printable recipe.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Five Guys Burgers and Fries
2887 Dixie Highway
Crestview Hills, KY
tel: 859-331-1269

When this award-winning Washington D.C.-based chain opened in Clifton earlier in the year we stopped by to try it but the queues were out the door and we didn't feel like waiting. We've tried to get into the restaurant several times since but it always seems to be hopping. Ditto the Crestview Hills location, and our criteria for Five Guys has been this: "if there are no empty tables visible, we aren't even going in the door."

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Luckily we finally got around to visiting at the tail end of the lunch rush, and although the place was still busy, it wasn't so crazy that there was no seating to be had. To be on the safe side however, we laid claim to a table before joining the queue at the counter. Immediately noticable are the bulging bags of potatoes stacked neatly nearby. These are not for decoration; the potatoes will wind up as someone's french fries later on.

Bags of potatoes line the way

The concept is similar to fast food. Orders are taken at a counter and picked up several minutes later at a second counter, with a menu limited to several types of burgers, hot dogs, fries and soft drinks. The difference between Five Guys and your average Burger King or McDonalds is in the execution. The open kitchen insures that diners can watch their selection being made, all toppings are free, and the fries are cut fresh and fried in small batches.

Watch your sandwich being made

The fries are where this chain really excels. They may be more time consuming to prepare than those of their fast food counterparts, but are delicious and certainly worth the effort and the wait.

The assembly line is efficient but those fresh fries take time

The restaurant's veggie sandwich is different from what you might expect. Instead of a frozen Gardenburger or Boca patty, the sandwich consists of a bun and as many of the free toppings as you wish, all for $2.69. Vegetarians will be happy to know that the Five Guys policy is to keep the grilling stations for vegetables and meats separate, so those grilled onions and mushrooms are worry-free. If a bun filled with veggies doesn't appeal, the restaurant also offers the tried and true grilled cheese.

Orders are bagged, regardless of dine-in or carry-out

Something to keep in mind with the fries: employees throw in an extra scoop when bagging them up, so a "regular" order (the smallest they offer) is easily enough for two people. Wish we had known that beforehand, as Steve and I both ordered fries and it was way too much.

Unpack your bag of goodies

Vegetarians can't go wrong with the veggie sandwich. It's a flavorsome but very messy affair, and the pile of napkins stuffed into the bag were saturated by the time I was finished eating. Oddly, my hands smelled of the meal for the rest of the day, even after repeated washings.

Tastes better than it looks!

It is refreshing that more fast food restaurants are starting to cater to the vegetarian diner, and kudos to Five Guys for making it affordable. They aren't going to top Subway for vegetarian-friendly, healthy fare, but as an occasional caloric splurge it's pretty darned tasty.

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