Mastering The Art of Vegetarian Cooking

Day 41: Broccoli Puree, Baked Tofu, Barley Risotto, and Sauteed Peppers

You know, sometimes you do your best, and it’s just not good enough.

This menu was a fairly big risk, and a fairly spectacular failure. I figured the kids love tofu, they love broccoli… I needed some color, so I added the peppers. I love barley, and the others typically do, too, so I put that in. In retrospect I think it was a failure of menu planning, rather than of recipes or of preparation; just too risky.

The puree was too strange a texture for the kids (I actually loved it); I had so much left I was trying to figure out what kind of soup or something I could make out of it. I didn’t ever think of anything, but I served it to a friend instead. The peppers were the thing the kids all professed to like (and chose when I served a leftovers smorgasbord a few days later), but they didn’t really eat them.

I thought the tofu was a slam dunk, but Jon was completely turned off by the mustard marinade, and the kids scraped it off before they ate it. (I must confess, it had a…strong…flavor.)  The barley was excellent– a perfect risotto, despite not being arborio rice (who knew?), and Jon and I loved it. The kids didn’t.

So, you live and learn. I learned another way to make a “risotto” (I also make it with Orzo, the tiny rice-shaped pasta, and it’s delicious and–bonus– you don’t have to watch and stir, just simmer and it’s done). I learned there’s only so much mustard I can get away with putting in Jon’s food. I learned that cooked peppers are never as good as they look or sound. And I learned that I loved pureed food, but my kids– not so much.

Broccoli Scallion Puree, p. 340; Sauteed Peppers, p. 402; Baked Tofu in Mustard-Honey Marinade, p. 605; Barley Risotto, p. 520.

Next: Black Bean Soup, Quinoa Muffins,  Spinach Salad with Sunflower Seeds & Sprouts.


Day 20: Angel Hair Souffle, Roasted Carrots with Garlic & Thyme, and Broccoli with Garlic & Red Pepper

I can’t type the word broccoli without thinking of my mom’s idiosyncratic spelling habits. The only place I ever saw her write it was on the grocery list ,and it was ALWAYS “broccli.” There was a jar on her shelves of preserves that was labelled “Green Tomatoe Pickels.” I shall attempt to spell correctly throughout this post.

On Wednesday the 28th I made a “souffle” with angel hair and cheese– sort of like mac & cheese, but with angel hair. It called for an honest-to-goodness Bechamel sauce, which I haven’t made in quite a while. The instructions include cooking at a very low temperature for twenty-five minutes. And that’s before I actually started cooking the dish! Sheesh. It had the whole souffle thing, with the egg whites whipped and folded in, but it wasn’t terribly souffle-like. It was good, though no one asked for seconds. (Oh, and I totally meant to make the “with mushrooms” variation, and by the time I got to that point I was so tired and flu-ey that I forgot completely.) 

I roasted some of the many carrots still in the garage after the Miller Farms trip a few weeks ago, and they were delicious (though Jon questioned whether it was really a recipe, or I’d just roasted some carrots). The broccoli was good, but it had too much red pepper for the  kids, and my normally broccoli-eating kids didn’t have more than a bite each.

2009 10 28_Carrots-PastaSouffle-Broc

Angel Hair & Cheese Souffle, p. 462; Roasted Carrots with Garlic & Thyme, p. 352; Broccoli with Garlic, Red Pepper and Parmesan, p. 341.

Next: Jon’s the guest chef with Basic Lentils and Barley-Mushroom Pilaf