home cooking, Italian Food, lasagna, Mark Bittman, non-gluten, vegetarian

Low Carb Vegetarian Lasagne

As I mentioned, the Hubby, for digestive reasons, has gone no-carb.  Not only has be lost a great deal of weight, but the digestion and overheating issues he had are completely gone!  But, as a vegetarian, that makes his options for eating a little monotone.  So, when he was in Grand Rapids recently and had no pasta lasagne, he thought he had found something he could have!  Big surprise was, I had already made it for him in the past.

Since Hubby will be starting a new job tomorrow that’s about a 40 minute drive, he won’t be able to come home and make his lunch, so I offered to make the lasagne.  He can pack it up and take it with him for lunch instead.  I got an enthusiasic “Sure!”, and so we went grocery shopping.

In this version, I used 2 kinds of zucchini as the “pasta” layer, and in the past I have used thinly sliced root vegetables, but I also can see using cooked and chopped spinach, or cooked mushrooms, maybe a duxelle.  Any number of vegetables can be used, the key is to get them as dry as possible, because any liquid generated can’t be absorbed by  the pasta, and so to avoid a soupy mess, dry is the best way to go!  Honestly I started this on Saturday, and assembled and cook this on Sunday, but you can do it all in one go.  You can also vary the cheese you use, as well as the sauce.  For this I used a homemade tomato sauce, but I have also used a bechamel in the past and blogged the recipe.  I can see a cheddar or even a Swiss cheese, yum!

Ingredients:

  • 4 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise, as thinly as possible
  • 1 teaspoon course salt (Kosher or sea salt)
  • 1 large package of mushrooms, sliced finely
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove or garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • 4 – 6 cups of tomato sauce (see below for recommended preparation)
  • 24 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup ground fresh Parmasean cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil or 1/2 cup shredded fresh
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 – 5 grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1 lb mozarella sliced into thin coins

On a tea towel or a few layers of paper toweling, lay out all the zucchini in one layer (you may have to do it in batches).  Lightly sprinkle each with some salt, and allow to sit for 15 – 20 minutes, to draw out the water in them.  Use paper toweling to dry them on both side, which will remove much of the salt too.  Set them aside in a bowl.  And as you’re prepping, check them periodically and drain away any water collected.

In a large, wide frying pan, heat the olive oil until hot, and add in the mushrooms, get them into one layer if possible, or again do this in batches.  The target is to cook the mushrooms until most of their liquid is evaporated.  I usually very lightly salt them in the pan, just a pinch spread over them.  Allow them to warm through, and as they start to let their water go, toss in the garlic.  Stir them over medium heat until they are all wilted and cooked through, then turn up the heat and stir them well until the water is almost completely evaporated.  They may start to brown a little, and that’s OK, but take them off the heat once that happens and allow them to cool.

I am always amazed at how much mushrooms cook down!

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Mushrooms pre-cooking

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Mushrooms AFTER cooking!

While the mushrooms cool, if you’re assembling this right away, in a large bowl, place the ricotta, pepper, salt and eggs, and combine well.  Stir in the basil and set aside.

Now it’s just a matter of assembling it all.  In a lasagne pan, or a deep rectangular cake pan, arrange a layer of zucchini, top with 1/2 the ricotta mixture, sprinkle a layer of Parmasean, then a layer of tomato sauce.  Lay another layer of zucchini, and gently press it into the layer below, so any air escapes.  Top with the remaining ricotta, sprinkling of Parmesean, and sauce.  Over that, layer the mushrooms, and strew with any remaining ricotta and a drizzle of tomato sauce, then layer the mozzarella on top and sprinkle all over with the remaining Parmesean.

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Allow this to sit for 20 minutes or so, and pre-heat the oven to 375º F.  Before you put the dish into the oven, tap it gently but firmly on the countertop, to force out any air bubbles.  Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350º F and cook for an additional hour.  Start checking it abou 25 minutes before it’s done, to be sure it doesn’t burn on the top.  If it starts to look like it’s burning, lightly cover it with a loose tin foil tent, and continue cooking. Don’t let the tin foil touch the cheese if possible.

In order to remove as much water as possible, when the hour is over, I turn the oven off and allow the dish to sit in the cooling oven for another 20 – 30 minutes.  All you need is a nice salad and a good glass of red wine, and you have a great supper!

For the tomato sauce, there are several ways you can go. There is no shame in a bottled sauce, just remember you are trying to avoid added sugar and carbs, so a best quality sauce is recommended.  My tried and true recipe is below:

  • 1lb tomatoes from the freezer (or 2 cans best quality plum tomotoes, skinned, chopped)
  • 1 can best quality tomato sauce (I love Dellallo, but any good Italian tomatoes are good)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (1 teaspoon fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (teaspoons fresh shredded)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup red wine (optional)

In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pot, heat the olive oil for 2 minutes at medium heat.  Add in the onions and a pinch of salt, stir well and cover for 10 minutes.  Remove the cover and stir well, allow to cook for another 10 minutes with no lid, then add in the garlic, oregano and basil, remaining salt and the pepper.  Simmer this all together until the oinions are cooked through and faintly starting to brown, then add in the tomatoes.  Stir all well, and add in the water and wine, if you’re using it.  If you use canned tomatoes, swirl the water in the cans to grab any remaining tomato.

Once everything is combined, lower the heat to low, put the lid on the pot, and allow to cook for 30 minutes, checking once in a while and to stir, so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.  After cooking covered for 30 minutes, take the lid off the pan and allow to bubble away for another 10 – 15 minutes, to reduce slightly.

At this point you can eat with pasta, or whatever you choose to eat it with, or allow it to cool on the stove, wrap up and use within the next few days, or freeze for future use!

Happy Cooking!


This time 1 year ago:
Smooth, Creamy Hummus

2 years ago:
Nutella Cheesecake!

5 years ago:
Homemade cocktail cherries!

 

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gardening, garlic, gourmet, home cooking, vegan

Summer can last all year!

At least in your kitchen it can!  I have, every year for the last 20 somehow stored tomatoes for the long bleak winter.  One way is to blanch, peel, chop and freeze in freezer bags, for soup and sauce all winter long.  Another way I have tried several times, and did this year, is oven roasting them until they are almost dry, and then dousing with olive oil and stashing in the fridge or freezer.

This method preserves and intensifies the ripe flavors, and allows you to use them in several types of dishes in the future.  Honestly, I have taken them out, pulsed them or chopped them and put on crispy toast for a fast crostini snack.  The oil is delicious after they have steeped for a while, and you can even use it to make roasted tomato pesto.  I’ll add a recipe for that at the end of this post, but before we get there, we have to roast the little suckers!

My last post was the Egyptian tomato salad, and I used a gorgeous gaggle of cherry tomatoes someone had given me.  In case there weren’t enough, I bought a big basket of ripe organic tomatoes, so I could supplement if needed.  But, the little cherry tomatoes were plenty, as a matter of act we are still eating them 3 days later!  The larger tomatoes were really ripe, and I wasn’t about to put them in the fridge, so I decided to go to my roasting option.  Directions are below:

Ingredients:

  • Large ripe tomatoes (as many as you can find)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (may need more, depending upon how many tomatoes you do)
  • 1 cup (or more) of extra virgin olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375º Farenheit.

Slice the tomatoes in 1/4 inch slices, from stem to bottom.  Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpat/silicone mat. Don’t use aluminum foil, it will react with the acid in the tomatoes and make them taste metallic.  If you don’t have parchement or Silpat, lightly oil the sheet pan so they don’t stick when roasting.

Arrange the tomato slices in rows, they can touch, but allow some room so they don’t stick together. Lightly sprinkle with some of the salt, have a light hand here, you’re going to intensify the flavors by roasting them, so too much salt will ruin them.  Allow to stand for a few minutes for the salt to dissolve, then put them in the oven.  I usually do two sheets at a time, so the wait time is perfect in between sheets.

Before:

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Roast them in the oven for an hour, but check at 50 minutes.  You’ll see that they are drier, and carmelized a little.  If not, roast for another 10 minutes.  They should look like this:

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Allow them to cool for 20 minutes.  Once they are cool, find the container of your choice, I usually just use a Ziplock bag, pile them in and cover with the olive oil.  Give them a stir or a squeeze to be sure the oil is evenly distributed.  You can keep these refrigerated for a long time, and if you freeze them, they will last for a year.  To use them, you can make a roasted tomato tapenade.

Roasted Tomato Tapenade:

  • 1 cup roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (you can use the oil you stored them in, YUM!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (plus one cut in half for rubbing the bread)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 green olives, pitted and chopped roughly
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 baguette or crusty bread, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds

In a blender or food processor, add all the ingredients except the bread and hold back 1/4 cup of the olive oil.  Pulse and process the mixture until it’s uniform in color, and there are no large chunks of anything.  The texture you’re looking for is thick enough to coat the bread, with some liquidness to it.  As you process, add more of the olive oil, you may need more to reach the proper consistency.

To serve, lightly toast the bread, and rub them with the half garlic to coat lightly.  Spoon the tapenade on the bread and enjoy!

This is an intense flavor, so you don’t need a great deal of it.  You can also top it with a little piece of cheese, mozzarella or some Parmesan, or even some feta!  I have also used this to toss with hot pasta, and Parmesan, it’s delicious.  This is a versatile recipe, you can change out the garlic for some onion and hot peppers, or change the herbs to basil or oregano, or a combination of both.

Every time you eat this over the winter, you’ll think about summer and the sun on your face!

 

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home cooking

Cooking for Your Vegetarian on Valentines Day!

Last year for Valentine’s, I made several recipes from the book I had been given for Christmas called “Jerusalem” by Yotom Ottollenghi.  This year, I think I have upped the game!  I am making lentil “meatballs” and fresh pasta, with a lemon pesto.  I did get the idea from a blog a I read quite a bit, but the pasta making is something I have been doing for years on my own, so the addition of it wasn’t hard.  I’ll give you all three recipes, so you can duplicate it for yourself!  I’ll blog the pasta making, and the hazelnut cheese cake I blatantly stole from Nigella and made my own, tomorrow and Monday.

The Hubby and I both love meatballs with pasta and sauce, and luckily you can get some good quality “fake” meatballs on the market.  I even found a new product called Neat, which uses ground nuts, and no soy, and you can pretty much add an egg and roll your own!  This recipe caught my eye, mainly because it incorporates lentils with some ricotta cheese to give it life and lightness.  Honestly, the mixture looks very much like a meatball, and the feel when you roll them out and bake them is almost identical.

Lentil “Meatballs”, by way of “Sprouted Kitchen”:

  • 2 c cooked lentils (that’s about 1 cup uncooked, I used French Puys, and added the fennel seed to the cooking water)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 c ricotta
  • 1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp dried or 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp each of each salt and pepper
  • 2/3 c fresh breadcrumbs, or Panko

In a food processor, or blender, process the cooked lentils until they’re pureed.  They will be dry, but that’s OK.  Add all the other ingredients and pulse until the mixture comes together.  It should look greyish and you will be able to see some of the lentil pieces.  Scrape this all out into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill well.  I made it in the morning and formed the meatballs around 5pm.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.  You can lightly coat the foil with oil, or not, the oil will make them a little crustier.  Roll out the balls in tablespoon amounts, I used the mini-ice cream scoop you see below.

Lentil meatballs

Bake them for 10 – 12 minutes, then give the pan a little shake, so they brown on all sides, and return to the oven for another 5 – 10 minutes.  If you leave them in for the longer time, check frequently after the 17 minute mark.  Once brown, take the sheet out of the pan and allow to cool, then serve with the pesto below, or any sauce, or dip you like.  I also served them with pasta, and at room temperature.

Lemon Pesto

  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly cut up
  • 1/4 c pine nuts (I used walnuts, Hubby hates pine puts)
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sea or Kosher salt
  • 1 c packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 – 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

Put everything except the olive oil and Parmesan in a food processor or blender.  Process until everything is finely minced.  Slowly add the olive oil down the funnel when processing.  Everything will begin to cohere in a thick puree.  Scrape out of the processor into a bowl, stir in the Parmesan.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate until you need it.

Lemon pesto

And tomorrow, the pasta recipe!

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brown, brunch, Fall, mushroom, Uncategorized, vegetarian, winter

Mushroom Stroganoff

Ok, vegetarians, come on back to the fold!  This post is one I planned to write a while ago, and so the photos are of the old kitchen. But that doesn’t make it any less wonderful!  I wrote a favorite things post a while back, and mentioned one of my go-to’s for easy every night cooking is a mushroom soup base that is vegetarian.  The product is called Better Than Bouillon. It comes in Vegetable Base, No Chicken and No Beef flavors as well, so there are lots of options flavor wise, but to do this stroganoff well, you need a really deep tasting broth.  Just as an aside, they also do kicking Ham, Beef, Clam, Fish and a Lobster Bases that are amazingly good.  And, as an aside, I am not endorsing this product for any other reason than I love it.

So, yes, this recipe is vegetarian, but I wouldn’t recommend it be vegan.  Having said that though, if you can find a vegan sour cream style product, go for it!   For the meat lovers out there, yes, this is the same recipe as beef stroganoff, just with no beef.  If you want to do beef, add browned beef cubes to this, and you’ll be away with yourself!  I often make this for myself, because I love mushrooms, and I don’t add meat, but I sometimes add fake beef strips, to up the level of protein.

I use an array of mushrooms in this, but honestly the lowly button mushroom is also great here.  For mine I used oyster, Shitake and mini portobello mushrooms.  I would stay away from enoki, they really don’t have any flavor.  I also sometimes use dried porcini or morels if I have them handy.

 

Mushroom Stroganoff

3 medium packages of mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic minced finely, or crushed

2 tablespoons olive oil

pinch of salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup red wine, sherry or marsala (optional)

2 cups good broth (mushroom or vegetable, just make sure it tastes good)

16 oz container of sour cream (low fat, regal, no fat, makes no difference)

1 container/bag beef substitute (I used Gardein Beefless Tips)

1 bag of egg noodles, or rice or couscous, your preference

In a heavy bottomed pan that is cold, place the garlic and oil and turn on the heat to a medium flame.  Once you can smell the garlic, toss in all the mushrooms, and quickly stir to coat them in oil.  The mushrooms will absorb all the oil, but if you sprinkle the salt and pepper over them, stir and clamp a lid on them, they will start to cook and release their juices.  Once this starts to happen, take the lid off the pan and sauté the mushrooms so they are looking limp and cooked.

At this point, I add the wine of you’re using it, and raise the heat up so it bubbles down, all the while stirring.  If you’re not doing that, add the 2 cups of stock, keep the lid off the pan and stir well, then turn up the heat to a low boil, and keep an eye on it, stirring as you go.

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You may want to taste it at this point, for seasoning.  Adjust as you feel is necessary.  After about 10 minutes of high heat, the liquids should be reduced enough that when you stir with your spoon, you should briefly see the bottom of the pan.  Add the fake meat if you’re adding it and stir well.  This will lower the heat in the pan, so cover it and allow it to cook and heat through.  Once you get to that point, take the pot off the heat, and add the sour cream, stirring well to combine.  It may look as though it’s curdling, but it’s not, it’s just a bit shocked.  As you stir, it will all mix and turn a lovely buff color.

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At this point, I would set this aside, on a very low flame, and cook the starch you’re eating with it.  If it’s noodles, once they’re cooked and well drained, add them to the mushroom mixture and stir well.  If you’re using another grain or starch, pile it up on a plate and spoon the mushroom over it.

Yummy!  Enjoy it!

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Uncategorized

Ok, ok!  Don’t get on my case about it, we have had quite the last few months!  As usual, I look at the last post on this blog and think “I have been cooking so much, why don’t I ever take photos?” I do have excuses, we have both been in the ER for various reasons, I had shingles, a holiday at my parents, then a few weeks later an unexpected holiday back in New York for a family death.  Tim went to Hungary and Ukraine with his dad for a family wedding, and while he was gone, I painted the kitchen (partially, see photo below) and have embarked upon a newly found desire for a very clean house… or at least for clean floors and much less cat hair all over the place!  Lots and lots of activity, and that all tempered with more and more stuff going on at work, and the hottest summer we have had in years!  Whew!  Each day I am SO thankful for central air conditioning.  So yes, lots going on.  But I have still been cooking a great deal.  As a matter of fact, I was making a batch of pretzel bread over the Memorial Day weekend, and our stove died!  I ended up that weekend with a newly minted respect for toaster ovens, and a beautiful new stove! (Isn’t she just gorgeous?)

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Painted Kitchen (I admit it looks half done, but I am living with it for a while.)

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Since it’s summertime, I have been getting a CSA box each week.  And, no publicity intended, we have been using Door to Door Organics, they are so fantastic, you can order other things, but also opt out of the stuff you don’t like.  My issue in years past with our CSA boxes has been that we always got stuff we either didn’t like (eggplant coming out our ears) or stuff we just wouldn’t eat much (overripe fruit/kale).  So this service is one I love and value a lot!  I have perfected my version of gazpacho with our recent boxes, but this week we got the most gorgeous bunch of rainbow chard I was determined to make something with it.  I also have been searching high and low for a local source for vegetable rennet, so I can make my own mozzarella, but alas, I ended up ordering a kit today.  So what to do with the organic full fat milk and half and half that I have in the fridge?  Make ricotta cheese!  I blogged about that earlier in this blog’s life (here) and it’s still fast and foolproof, and this time I remembered to take a photo of the finished product!  So, my recipe today is a savory ricotta and Swiss chard tart.  Using some  delicious homemade ricotta (with herb de Provence) and some of the loveliest rainbow chard I have seen in a while.  I am not making my own torte crust, but using filo, for a quick and easy crust with lots of crunch.

Beautiful Chard

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Savory Ricotta and Swiss Chard Tart

½ package of filo dough (usually comes with two rolls)

½ cup of bread crumbs

4 tablespoons of butter, melted

1 large leek (or one small onion and a clove of garlic) finely chopped

1 large bunch of rainbow chard, or regular Swiss chard (stems removed, chopped and reserved, leaves finely shredded)

1 tablespoon butter (unsalted)

1 ½ cups fresh ricotta

1 large egg (or two egg whites)

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese or heavy cream (also can use creme fraiche)

1/2 cup whole milk or half and half (if you use mascarpone, use water here instead)

1 link chorizo sausage, finely diced (optional, I used a vegetarian chorizo sausage)

salt and freshly-ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 350°

Butter a deep dish pie or tart pan.  Line it with alternating layers of filo, buttered, then sprinkled with the bread crumbs. Fold the sides under so it looks like a pie crust shape and set in the fridge to stay cool.

Saute the leek in the butter over medium heat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Once they are starting to turn translucent, add the chopped chard stalks.  Season again.

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When the chard stems and leeks are softened, add the shredded chard to the pan, and give a stir to combine, drop the heat to low and cover.  After about 10 minutes, the chard should have wilted down to practically nothing(see photo.)  Take it off the heat, give it a good stir and uncovered, allow it to cool down completely.

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While the vegetables and cooling, in a large bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, mascarpone/cream/milk/water, chorizo and a bit more salt and pepper. Mix to combine well.  I usually taste for seasoning here, but some people are not comfortable with raw egg.  As long as you have been seasoning at each step you should be fine.

Add in the chard/leek and mix well.  At this point, you can add shredded cheese, fresh herbs to taste, it’s up to you.  Just remember this will rise pretty high in the oven, so don’t overdue the additions.

Pour the filling into the filo and bake until just set and slightly-browned on top, 20-30 minutes.

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Now, to be fair, I made a double batch, so the photo above isn’t a pie plate, it’s a casserole.

Let the tart cool briefly, then serve either warm or at room temperature.  It works better cooler, since there isn’t much egg in this, the cheese tends to be more solid when it’s cooler.

I love a good tomato salad with this, and a lovely glass of cold white wine.

As an added treat, I’ll be posting the Gazpacho recipe tomorrow, although it’s really a cold tomato soup, along with some of my favorite things in the kitchen these days.  Should be fun!

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gourmet, homemade desserts, non-gluten, pudding, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetarian

St. Patrick’s Day 2012!

I am sure anyone that knows me, knows that my mother was born in Ireland and moved to the States when she and my father were about to be married.  When I think about it now, it was quite the intrepid adventure she set out on.  At the time, 1965 she was very young in only 19, and people didn’t travel back and forth overseas as easily as we do these days, it was prohibitively expensive, not to mention the cost of overseas phone calls!  So this very young woman moved to America, married my Dad and started a family!  No family around to watch the baby, and a husband who worked all day.  It was a different time all together!  My Mom did instill a very strong sense of our Irish heritage in us kids, and we are all still very close to our Irish family.  And so, St. Patrick’s day is a big deal for us, and not in the drink green beer until you can’t possibly drink any more sense.  For our family it’s a day that we really are proud to be Irish!  This year, one of my nieces is even doing her first public Irish dancing recital… big news in the Hennessey family!!

In creating my own little family in Detroit, I do try really hard to honor both of our heritages.  As I have mentioned here before, Tim is half Hungarian, so all the food I can possibly make from there, I do.  And my paternal grandmother’s Belgian roots are honored all the time!  And on St. Patrick’s Day, I go all out… even thought Tim won’t eat the corned beef, I cook it for me, and some years, for friends and family here.  This year, one of my cousins posted a photo on her Facebook page of the “green and gold jellies” that they were having for dessert today (lime and orange “jello” with lots of cream to go over) and I thought, jeez, I should make that for us too!  Alas, Jello, and gelatin products are decidedly NOT vegetarian.  I have experimented a few times with making vegan versions of things like marshmallow, and the pudding I have posted here.  I have had success with all of them, except the marshmallows, and I was dying to figure out what was wrong.  And then, low and behold, I read many, many recipes with something called agar agar, also called agar flakes, or powder.  But, agar is a fickle mistress… and so the great vegetarian dessert caper of St. Patrick’s 2012 was afoot!

I got two pots out and used 2 cups of liquid, in this case, orange juice and limeade, with some white wine thrown in for the grown up in me.  I didn’t add any sugar, but I did add a drop of green food coloring to the lime version, to up the color.  The recipe I found online called for one teaspoon of agar and very little cooking time.  From experience I know now, that it usually takes double that amount to really work, so I used 2 teaspoons in each pot.  I brought them both to the boil, took them off the heat, added in the agar, stirred well, then put them back on the heat and let them simmer for a good 30 min, stirring occasionally.  Then, everything was allowed to cool and the mixture was poured into a lightly greased aluminum loaf pan.  It looked promising when I started:

I put both pans carefully into a Ziplock bag when they were completely cool and set them in the middle shelf of the fridge.  I was told it could take up to 4 hours, so I just walked away and made the soda bread, put the corned beef on to boil and forgot about them.  About 3 hours in, I checked them… I couldn’t resist.  The orange one was completely jelled and looked pretty good.  The lime one on the other hand, seemed fine until I wobbled the pan a bit, and it exploded into a liquid, although slightly thickened, mess.  Uh oh!  I uncovered both and put them back into a cooler part of the fridge and vowed to just leave them!

About 3 hours later, the orange was still gorgeous, the lime still a bit too liquid for me, so I popped it in the freezer, and served dinner.  When we were able to think about dessert, I grabbed both pans and whipped the cream and this is what we had!

The orange, although jell like, was a soft jell, so I am adjusting the agar amounts to account for that.  Here’s the recipe and a few more photos of the day!

Vegetarian Jellies

1 ½ c fruit juice (apple, orange, cherry, slightly sweetened)

½ c white wine or just use fruit juice

2 ½ teaspoons agar flakes or powder

½  teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon cold water

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water and mix well until smooth and set aside. Bring the fruit juice and wine to boil in a small heavy bottomed pot.   Take the pot off the heat and sprinkle the agar flakes over the hot juice and stir to  combine well.  Place the pot back on a low flame and simmer to allow the agar to soften and melt totally, about 15 minutes.  Under no circumstances should you boil the agar, it will lose it’s effectiveness.  Take the hot juice off the heat again and lightly whisk in the cornstarch and water, making sure no lumps form, and continue to stir until the mixture become clear.  At this point, it should be slightly thick, not very just enough that it isn’t the same consistency as juice or water.  Set the pot off the heat to cool.  When it has cooled about 10 – 15 minutes, pour it into the container you will chill it in.  You may want to put a very thin layer of light corn oil on the pan, so the jelly will come away from the pan when it’s done.  Allow the mixture to cool completely, and then cover in plastic wrap and put in the coolest part of your refrigerator.  The time to jell will vary but after 3 hours you should be able to nudge the pan and see that it is fairly solid.

When you gently press with your finger on the top of the jelly and it is firm and solid, you can either serve with a spoon, or cut into slices.  I used lightly whipped cream with a spoonful of sugar, but you can serve it to taste.

And here is my soda bread, along with the flowers my mom and dad sent us.  But, I can’t give you that recipe, it’s a family recipe and I would have to kill you…!!

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