Tag Archives: olives

Nice Day for a Picnic

Last Friday I took the day off and had plans to have a picnic at Pedernales Falls. The day before I was looking at the hour by hour weather report and my computing machine was reporting an 80% chance of thunderstorms between 11 and 1. Since Perdernales Falls is prone to flash floods it seemed that the world was against me. But I was wrong. The world loves me. Or maybe it feels completely indifferent and I just lucked out. First my friend Kristen brought me some cupcakes.

Then I got some really pretty flowers.

And then I made some olive salad to go in a muffaletta sandwich ’cause olives are my favorite food.

We went to McKinney Falls State Park and there were wildflowers everywhere.

We saw a giant lucky lizard.

But we still found a protected spot for our picnic, just in case. There was no one around, probably because of the scary forecast but it was the most beautiful day.

Dan let me take as many overprocessed photos as I wanted, because it was my birthday.

And then we finally ate the sandwich.

I guess an 80% chance of thunderstorms still means you get a 20% chance of blue sky.

Swiss Chard & Pine Nut Couscous with Sicilian Olives

I have been trying to get my kitchen organized and it is a lot harder than I thought it would be which is making cooking really challenging. When it comes to food I am definitely a horder. I have every bean every grain and practically every spice I have ever heard of. I don’t know how it all started but I have been a horder since I was a little kid, you would think I was raised during the depression or something. For example, olives have always been my favorite food and I usually keep a back up jar but if I don’t have one I keep a lone emergency olive in the jar until I replenish my supply. That’s right folks it is no lie; at any time you can open my refrigerator and you are guaranteed to find at least one olive. And if there is one olive and you eat it…. well let’s just say you won’t make that mistake again.

I also have had an unlabeled bag of an unknown grain since I moved in to the last house. Mr. Smurf was trying to convince me that if I haven’t used it in 5 years I was never going to use and it was time to throw it out. Instead, it came to the new house and now with many more years of cooking experience I immediately identified it as couscous and decided it was time to make magic happen. First, I was going to toast some coriander and make kind of a Greek-style dish but then I couldn’t find the coriander anywhere so the old standbys of garlic and Italian seemed to be the perfect solution.

This dish turned out to be everything I had hoped: fast, easy, healthy and we were able to make gigantic portions and save some for lunch this week. I was going to use mushrooms too but they weren’t any good so if you try this add them in before the chard leaves if you have them around. And if you don’t love olives you might want to try raisins or another dried fruit instead.

Swiss Chard & Pine Nut Couscous with Sicilian Olives

1 medium yellow onion, cut into half moons

1 bunch of Swiss Chard, stalks chopped and separated from the leaves
1 Tablespoon of pine nuts
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes, rehydrated with water reserved
1 cup (or so) of vegetable stock
2 cups couscous
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup Sicilian marinated olives chopped

Saute the onions in a cast iron skillet for a couple of minutes and then add the chard stems. Once they are all starting to brown shove everything to the side of the pan and toast the pine nuts over the hot spot. Make sure they don’t go from golden to burned, it can happen rather quickly and then move them to the side of the pan. Add the garlic, saute for 30 seconds, mix everything together and then add the chard leaves. Once the chard leaves cook down (like a minute) add the sundried tomatoes and their re-hydrating water, and about a cup of stock depending how much reserved water you have. Add the couscous and mix everything together. You don’t need to have the whole mess under water but you need enough that nothing is going to burn while you reduce the heat, put the lid on, and cook for about 10 minutes. Check on it and stir things up once or twice. Add the olives & lemon juice and enjoy!

Focaccia with Tomatoes and Olives

Cherry Tomatoes are the only tomatoes worth eating now that it is almost winter which is sad. But I get to turn my oven on so that makes me happy! This in one of the best baked breads I have ever made, for some reason they never turn out great but this focaccia was completely perfect. It rose so high and was the perfect texture. Here is the link to the recipe. I served it with marinated baked tofu and “nice ass greens“. This wasn’t the perfect meal for a weeknight because the focaccia needed two rising times but it was a simple and great meal and I recommend it.

Tortilla Ball Soup

Pretend I became world-famous, say for convincing former president George W. Bush to go vegan which led to him renouncing his war mongering past and convincing all the republicans to go vegan. Eventually, terms were argued, legislation was passed, and everyone realized that animal cruelty was wrong and they wanted to thank me for starting the chain of events that led to animal liberation by having a wonderful dinner. I think they would come up with something exactly like this. I love Mexican food, dumplings, and soups; they are three of my most favorite things to eat. But my relationship with olives is paramount. I mean, I keep an emergency olive at all times. Maybe when I am world-famous everyone will!

Last week I made Black Bean Soup with Masa Dumpling. I really liked the idea of it, but the dumplings were a little boring. I wanted to put something inside them that was salty or spicy and all these ideas were rattling around my head. And then it hit me, as usual, the answer to my culinary quandary was olives, in this case, jalapeño stuffed olives. I liked the dumplings in the black bean soup I made, but it seemed like they would go better with something else. Tofu Mom put them in Lentil Stew which seemed like a good idea but since the dumplings were so thick I thought a thin soup would be better. That is when I realized that tortilla soup was the perfect answer! This is the first time I ever made it. Usually, it is the one vegan soup that I can always find so I never thought to make it at home. I should have made it sooner, I liked my version a lot better than Mr. Natural’s and Kerbey Lanes and it was really fast and easy. I also made a lot so we would have leftovers. I wrote down the recipe but there are two caveats, there was extreme olive going on in here. If you are not a fan you could try just the pickled jalapeño which I think would work out well. I didn’t make the broth very spicy since there is jalapeño in the dumplings and it was spicy enough for me. If you love spice, add a couple jalapeños to the broth early on, the more seeds you leave in the spicier it will be.

Tortilla Ball Soup

For the Dumplings

Mix
1 Cup of Instant Masa Flour
1 Cup of Broth or water
1 Tablespoon of salt if using water
knead for 5 minutes and then let sit for an hour

For the Soup

Roast 1 Poblano in the oven or on the stove, then remove the charred skin, seeds, and stem

Chop 1 yellow onion, 4 cloves of garlic, and 2 carrots.

Heat 1 Tablespoon cooking oil in a soup pot

Saute onion, garlic & carrots until brown, about 5 minutes

Add a cup of Corn, the poblano, 1 Tablespoon of ancho chile powder, and 1 tsp cumin

Stir for a minute and add 8 cups of broth, 1 tsp of celery salt, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/8 tsp cayenne, 2 cups of soy curls (or beans) and 1 14oz can of tomatoes, roughly chopped

Cook for 10 minutes

Form the dumplings, take about a heaping tablespoon of the masa dough and flatten in your hand. Put the olive in the middle and roll the sides around it until the olive is all sealed up. Then, carefully roll the dough a little between your hands so that it is a circle and then place in the soup. Repeat until you have used all the dough. Then carefully stir the soup making sure to not tear the dumplings and cook for 10 more minutes. Add salt & pepper. Serve in bowls and top with green onions, cilantro, and nutritional yeast, if you like. Enjoy!

A South Austin Omelette

I finally made the omelettes from Vegan Brunch and though they look great I was a little disappointed with the taste. I have never had a recipe turn out badly before from Isa Moskowitz so I am going to assume that one of my ingredients was off. I suspect my black salt is more potent because there was a strong sulfur taste and I have only used a little at a time before. I stuffed the omelette with swiss chard, kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes which was the perfect combination for me.

Earlier this week I was at Wheatsville Co-op and saw that they now carry numerous flavors of Teese. I wasn’t very excited to try it again since I last had the nacho teese which I didn’t like at all, couldn’t eat, and threw away. But, I really did like the mozzarella when I tried it so I implusivly decided to give one more flavor a try and I am so glad I did! I got the creamy cheddar and then later read on the internet that it tasted kind of like velveeta. The only way I ever knew to make velveeta palatable is to make it into queso and I decided to do the same thing with the creamy cheddar teese. My expectations were so low that I didn’t even make my own salsa, I bought some from the Austin Spice Company, warmed up the teese until it was no longer lumpy and then mixed in salsa until the consistancy was right. It was perfect! Exactly like half the restaurants in town so I am so happy to finally have a queso recipe that I wouldn’t feel weird to serve to friends. The strange part was when I was making brunch I assumed that the omelette would be great and the queso would be questionable at best but the opposite happened. Yay Teese!

And I almost forgot to post this picture of Dinger, first hoping that the omelette would fall on the ground and then falling asleep in that position.

Taco do Sul

OK, this picture is so awful but the tacos were really good and easy, a great summer taco, so I had to post about them!  First I made a quick marinade of a tablespoon of  Mexican oregano, 10  Kalamata olives, a small sweet orange pepper, and 1/2 cup of red wine. I steamed the tempeh for ten minutes then marinated for about and hour. Meanwhile, I made an orange-onion salsa with red onions, cumin, and oranges. Then, an hour later I sauted the tempeh in oil until it browned, added the marinade to the pan, reducded for a minute or two and then piled the tempeh into corn tortillas with spinach, and the orange-onion salsa. The olives rebounded so well with the peppers and the cumin sang its little cumin song of happiness in the background while the tempeh grounded everything in the way that only tempeh can. If someone makes these tacos and takes a better picture I will replace the picture and send you a gift from Lazy Smurf’s headquarters.  So make them! Eat them! and Enjoy!

Vegan Brunch- Sausage & Greens with Smoked Almond Gravy

We have been day dreaming about opening a vegan brunch spot for forever. It is my favorite meal and probably what I make the most: breakfast tacos. Well now my concept of brunch has been greatly expanded since Isa Moskowitz finally put out the much anticipated Vegan Brunch book. I can’t wait to get a waffle maker and make some of the savory waffles! And here I thought I didn’t need any more kitchen appliances. Our first meal was in the top ten meals of all time according to Mr. Smurf who is a huge fan of Ms. Moskowitz’s work. We made Cherry Sage Sausages which were comparable with any vegan or non sausages we have eaten in out lifetime, smoked Almond gravy which was terrific, bagels with Kalamata olives that I raved about yesterday, and paprika spiced roasted potatoes which were (sadly) much better than my paprika roasted potatoes that I make all the time. Since it was breakfast for dinner we also had PBR.

The gravy was really terrific, it wasn’t as creamy as a normal gravy but the smokey taste added a lot to the whole meal. It is the kind of gravy you could eat with a spoon.

We had the cherry sage sausages in  a dish called something like “Collard Greens and Sausages” but I used kale because that is what I had on hand.  This is something that I make quite a bit but I followed the recipe for everything instead of just throwing stuff in and it really paid off. The potatoes, the greens, and the sausage were all great. I can’t wait to try more from the book! Hooray for Everything!

Grilled Vegan Pizza

Memorial Day starts the official summer season for me even though it has been unofficially summer since I saw my the first firefly on the same day as I got my first red tomato. Memorial Day makes it official because when I was growing up that was the weekend that the water park opened up and I loved the water park. Wait, I still love the water park I just never get to go here in Texas because it is an hour away. This summer it is going to happen! In my summer enthusiasm I decided to grill some pizzas. Unfortunately I ran headlong into the project without doing any research and though my pizzas were good, I have a lot to learn! I made the dough recipe from Vegan Lunch Box and maybe I overworked the dough because it came out really hard. I decided to make mini pizzas so that I could experiment with the technique. The first one I tried was peaches and olives with some sage and some chives on top.It was a great combination but I should have grilled the crust on both sides before putting on the toppings because the bottom got over-grilled (I think another word for that is burned).

The next one I grilled on both sides first before topping but I should have done it for a shorter time or maybe the grill was too hot because this one got a little crispy as well. Plus, tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, and mushrooms was a great combo but would have been so much better with a tofu riccota base.The last one was maybe the best (I liked the peach a lot, but it was burned). The grill wasn’t as hot when I put it on so it didn’t get as hard. The topping were Zucchini, Tomato, Olives, Mushrooms, and Garlic. So here is what I have learned, oil the crust and grill it on both sides before you put the toppings on. Have all the toppings ready to go before you start otherwise you can’t keep on eye on the grill, use lots of toppings in general, and most importantly; add lots of olives and everything will be yummy regardless of what happens.

Oh, and have beagles around to eat any excess crust.

Star Trek Feast

I can’t find the picture that I have of the 7th grade version of me dressed in full Star Trek the Next Generation starfleet uniform. I really wanted to post it. I am surround by two Klingons that are dressed so well you would think they stepped out of the future. When I was in 6th grade my best friend, Amanda, and I even reenacted an episode, casting all of our (girl) friends as Picard and Riker etc. I was a very belieable Worf, well as believable as a 6th grade girl can be.

So yeah, I was am a nerd. I don’t go to Sci-fi conventions any more but I did live in my mom’s basement for a while. And you know what? Now I blog about food that I made. So if you see me walking down the street you can yell “NERD” all you want and I will take it as a compliment. There aren’t many people, I would wager, who simultaneously had a crush on Captain Picard AND Wesley Crusher. I can also identify the season of the next generation by the shape of Riker’s beard.

I have been recently revisiting my Star Trek roots in anticipation of the new movie, listening to podcasts, watching the original series on the Roku and Deep Space 9 on DVD from Netflix (why do they have to be so expensive?). I have also been thinking about all the food and how good it would be. I was lucky enough to see the new movie with a glass of Romulan Ale in my hand (thank you Alamo Drafthouse) following this feast.

I made Bajoran Hasperat. It is based on Lolo’s version at Vegan Yum Yum except with the addition of a large sausage shaped chikpea cutlet, some extra spices (sumac & smoked paprika) and golden beets instead of carrots. Everyone really liked them and the guys even had them for breakfast the next day.

I also had gaeta olives on the side that were supposed to be in the wrap. Mmm Gaeta.

I roasted Ferengi Tube Grubs (Fiddlehead Ferns) and Asparagus for the side dish that were made palatable by the addition of Cardassian Yamok Sauce

the sauce was basically white beans sauteed with garlic, onions, tarragon, and lemon and then blended with a few green olives.

We had it on potatoes too, I loved it and it inspired the next night’s meal. I will post the recipe if anyone is interested it was perfect for the season.

Here is Amanda and I forcing her boyfriend to give the Vulcan salute,  it is sad that neither of our boyfriends are Trekkies, they have thier own nerd activities though, I promise.

My favorite part of watching the new movie was that Amanda was sitting next to me and every time someone gave the customary hand greeting Amanda did it too. (NERD!!!!)

The best part of the whole meal, though, was the Earl Grey cupcakes, they are an alteration from the chai cupcakles in Vegan Cupcakes take over the World. I made the frosting from the book that uses Agave and coconut butter instead of sugar and margarine and it was divine. Mr. Smurf doesn’t even like frosting on cakes usually and he was eating the leftovers with a spoon.

It was a good meal.

What are you a nerd about?

PS- the cupcake background is from http://hubblesite.org/gallery/wallpaper/ they have lots of great images

Portobello Sandwich with an Olive Chimichurri

I got some lovely “ancient grain” bread at the farmer’s market on Saturday and I had some portobellos so I knew I would have to make a sandwich. I have always had a strange relationship with sandwiches. When I was a kid I hated mustard, mayo, lettuce, pickles, relish, raw onion, sauerkraut, and horseradish so if I ever went to a restaurant my sandwiches were really plain. When I used to go to subway I would get a cold cut, tomato, and as many olives they could fit. One day, in the year 2001 I got into a fight with a sandwich “artist” who would only give me 6 slices of olives. She said the corporate policy was that extra olives cost 35 cents for each additional serving of 3 slices of olive. I explained that I wasn’t getting any of the other condiments so it seemed unfair. She refused to give in; maybe she didn’t have a soul or perhaps she was threatened by the company. Regardless, I left the restaurant in disgust and vowed never to return and to this day I refuse to purchase anything from Subway. Sometimes I can really identify with Grandpa Simpson.

I still don’t like most traditional American condiments but I love all sorts of other things including the great food love of my life: the olive. This sandwich was a roasted portobello marinated in wine, olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic, and garlic and then topped with arugula and roasted red peppers. I also made a cross between and chimichurri and a tapenade for the spread that was delicious! In a mortar and pestle I pounded out some garlic and then added parsley, basil, green olives, and tomato. Heavenly! The key with a sandwich like this is to toast the bread so it doesn’t get to soggy. I served the sandwiches with Potato Squashers. This picture also shows off my new salt and pepper shakers that I got at room service. So smurfy!