Friday, June 17, 2011

Vegan Saturday

Heard of it? It's the vegetarian's meatless Monday. Ok, I am making that up. But it is something that we have recently started in our house. So, tomorrow marks our first Vegan Saturday. No clue what the recipe will be yet...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Balsamic. It's what's for dessert.

I'm not sure who the first guy was to look at a bottle of balsamic and a pint of strawberries and decide to make a dish out of it. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe he had kitchen organizational skills that would make the Swedish Chef look OCD and, suddenly, he drizzled the balsamic all over his berries instead of all over his greens. Either way...mistake or invention...I don't care. He (or she) was a genious!

What is with my berry revelation? Simple. Today, I got cookin' on my Summer project. (This tells you nothing, I know. But it is part of the background, so humor me...)

Oh, the project isn’t original. In fact, it is shamelessly pilfered from one of my favorite food bloggers, Heidi from 101 Cookbooks.

I am like every other foodie on the planet. I love recipes and cookbooks. But I need to start using them more, so I have set myself a challenge:

Cook at least one recipe from every cookbook I have.

It can be a vegetarian recipe, or, it can be a meat recipe that I veggify. I love, love, love the veggification process.

Like I said. Not original, but YUMMY!

I knew that my first recipe of the project was going to involve a lemon. Partly because I love them and partly because, for the past week, one lonely little organic lemon has graced the inside of my fruit bowl. It was pitiful lookin' in there. And the two grapefruits we put in there with it yesterday were dwarfing him right into citrus envy. So, I needed to put the little guy out of his misery before he shrivelled up in shame and became better suited for cleaning than cooking. And, so, my first recipe was chosen. Something classic and simple that can be made with some of the beautiful local seasonal ingredients available in Sweden right now. From the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home (pg 70): Lemon Tomato Salad. We had it with mashed potatoes, a veggie balls and a simple salad of greens and fennel.

But then, a recipe in the back of the book started to haunt me. How could I pass up the chance to make something with the amazing Swedish strawberries in season right now? So, I opted to show off a little and expand my first project blog. My second recipe was Macerated Balsamic Strawberries. Or, as the Moosewood cookbook calls it, Strawberries Three Ways. (The other two ways involve orange juice and Grand Marnier. Oh yeah...I see a Boozy Berry Shortcake in my cooking future!) I served it over vanilla ice cream.

Want the recipe? I am almost ashamed to admit how easy it is! 1 pint strawberries, 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp balsamic. Mix together and chill for at least 30 minutes, but no more than half a day. I let it steep for about 2 hours. I bet that if you have a cheaper, salad balsamic in your pantry, you can age it a bit by just reducing it on the stove a little to give it some of the "aged" depth. I opted to buy a middle of the line aged balsamic for about $5.00 and it worked fine.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Holy Pizza, Batman!

The pizza options for vegetarians here in Sweden consist of 3 basic pizzas:

The Margherita - plain cheese

The Fungi - cheese and mushroom

The Vegetarian - cheese, mushrooms, onions, peppers and corn. Sometimes, it has artichoke smack in the center or some asparagus here and there.

Every now and again, there is an extra one on the menu. Something like a Tutti Frutti with pineapple, banana, curry and cayenne. (the Tutti Frutti, btw, is awesome.) That is how it has been since I moved here and we have always just sort of accepted that as the way of the pizza world here in Sweden.

Well, we did until two weeks ago. We moved to Southern Sweden for a ten months back in August. Nine months in, we finally heard about a pizza place with pies worth sampling. So we checked it out.

Holy Pizza, Batman! Not only does the guy get that vegetarians are an untapped market, he has expanded his menu to include vegans. He has eleven...let me pause and say that again...e-l-e-v-e-n...vegetarian specialty pizza selections. Plus the two vegetarian gourmet pizzas and, of course, the regulars (which are yummy and made with fresh ingredients!) Some of the 11 specialties are vegetarian versions of classics here in Sweden, like the Kabab pizza and the Honolulu, while others are unique to his shop. We had one today with vegan chicken alternative, spinach sauteed in garlic, arugula and fresh chili. Highly recommendable! Best of all, it seems that all of their pizzas can be made vegan upon request. We are trying desperately to eat our way through them all before we move back up to Göteborg at the end of June.

Pizzeria Algarve, franchise please!

Lettuce Begin

I'm sorry. I had to do it. I just had to. But look at it this way, now that my first corny pun is over, it'll be 3-4 blogs before you see another one. (Maybe.)

And it was a nifty way of heading into the me, me, me part of this Intro Blog.

*I* am an human ecologist in the making, treehugger, organic food lover, sandal wearing recycler, American in Sweden, hobby photographer and, as of 3 months ago yesterday, formally vegetarian.

That sound ya’ll just heard was seasoned Veggies scoffing in unison. That’s ok. I can dig it. What's with the new girl in the cabbage patch thinking she is all vegetarian foodie after just 3.5 seconds of FACELESS FOOD? In my defense, it was a long process. I have never liked meat all that much. I was really bad at being a carnivore. And, after 11 years of living with a vegetarian in faceless food bliss, nothing about my lifestyle/thought process/beliefs/everyday diet was in agreement with the one or two servings of meat that I ate socially every month. It didn't make sense. That was the clincher. I was a vegetarian stuck in a carnivore's pattern. It was time to break out of the pattern. Learning curve and all...