Feasting at Home : November 2012

November 29, 2012

Smoked Shiitake Ramen

Vegan Ramen Recipe

Sumptuous, unctuous and oozing with flavor, a good bowl of Ramen is the ultimate in comfort food. Put away old ideas of packaged 29 cent ramen you used to eat in the dorm. This ramen is from a completely different world. In Japan, ramen is taken very seriously. There are thousands and thousands of ramen shops, with styles varying from region to region, each taking on the character of the people and ingredients around it.

David Chang, of Momofuku, an award winning group of restaurants in NY, put ramen in the spotlight several years ago, elevating it into one of the fastest growing food trends in America. His cookbook, Momofuku, now a few years old, is both the story and recipes behind his rise to superstardom.  It is an hilarious account of his trials and tribulations which make for a very entertaining read. He writes with such candor, you can't help but love the guy. And after reading the book, you can't help but love ramen.

November 24, 2012

Chocolate Bouchons

chocolate bouchons or aka...brownie "cupcake"  | www.feastingathome.com

I received a nice surprise in the mail today. A gift. Truthfully, a gift from myself. For several weeks I had been patiently awaiting the arrival of Thomas Keller's new cookbook, Bouchon Bakery, so patiently in fact, I forgot I had ordered it. So when it arrived, it truly was a surprise. I highly recommend this. Surprising yourself. It feels magnificent.

What also feels magnificent, are these little chocolate gems, chewy and melty in your mouth. They remind me of a brownie, but cuter. They are named for their shape, which resembles a cork, or bouchon in French. Not gluten free, not vegan, these are the real deal, full flavored, rich and yet not overly sweet.

November 18, 2012

Vegan Shepherds Pie

Shepherds Pie originates from Great Britain, where it came about at as a way to use left over meat, primarily lamb, (hence the shepherd) and vegetables in a savory stew, topped with a pillowy layer of buttery mashed potatoes, and baked. It's quite brilliant, isn't it?

This version however, is vegan (and gluten free). No shepherd involved here. The stew is made with mushrooms and my favorite, sun chokes, instead of lamb. It's rich and deep enough for a full bodied glass of red wine, and depending on how you make it, can be rustic, or refined.

Vegan Shepherds Pie Recipe

Substituting thinly sliced yukon gold potatoes, instead of mashed potatoes for the top is a fun option when crunched for time. Or, for a more formal, special dinner like Thanksgiving, try elevating it, by serving individual portions and topping it with flavorful Truffle Mashed Potatoes.

The nice thing is, if you are having guests over, you can fully customize these, making some vegan, and if you prefer, some with lamb because you can bake them in individual baking dishes. It is perfect for the holidays. But more to the point, it's perfect after the holidays, using up leftover mashed potatoes, yams, stray vegetables, turkey or roast or whatever you have in your fridge. The beauty of Shepherds Pie, is its ability to transform leftover ingredients into something new. Think of it as "re-purposed".  You get the idea. That said, here is my vegan version...but feel free to play around and add your own touches.

November 12, 2012

Holiday Issue of Souvenir Magazine!

I feel so honored to be a part of the holiday issue of Souvenir Magazine.  It is filled with beautiful, inspiring pages of holiday decorating ideas, gift ideas, DIY Christmas cards, wreath making, easy holiday appetizer recipes (my very first magazine contribution) and a whole lot more. The entire 122 pages are  completely ad free. Souvenir's creator and founder, Heather Bullard, is a contributing editor for Country Living Magazine and has a keen eye for style, photography and beauty. All the contributors have done such a lovely job. Truly inspiring! 

November 9, 2012

Crispy Berbere Chicken with Ethiopian Lentils

I have come to the end of a very good book. It's always a little bittersweet. During the last month, it has been a good companion, taking me to far away lands of Ethiopia, stretching me in the most unexpected ways. It's called Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. Beautifully crafted, it's a deeply felt story about love, loss, and forgiveness, interspersed with nuggets of wisdom.

As a way to celebrate this moving book, I am making one of our favorite Ethiopian dishes tonight,  called Crispy Berbere Chicken over Ethiopian Lentils.  Berbere is an Ethiopian spice mix, made with a combination of spices grown in the region.  It's similar to curry, in that it's a blend of spices, but different than curry, in that it is made with different spices.  My favorite way to use Berbere is to use it as a rub for chicken, lamb or tofu, and to flavor lentils or stews.  However you use it, it will transport you to foreign lands.  Flavors are deep and exotic and warming, perfect for the cold of fall and winter. 

The world turns on our every action, and our every omission, whether we know it or not.
 Cutting for Stone

November 2, 2012

Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere and Thyme

Parsnip Gratin Recipe

I am baffled by the number of people who tell me they don't like parsnips. Somehow it feels like being socked in the stomach. It feels so personal. And of course there is no use in attempting to convince anyone into liking them, but that hasn't stopped me from trying. It usually backfires. Isn't it true, that once we make up our mind about something, or someone for that matter,  it's nearly impossible to change it? So it won't matter if I tell you how soulful they are. How wisely designed they are for the coldness of winter with their hardy physical makeup, or how their flavors are like a song about the earth, with notes of sweetness, and depth.  It is not something that can be told with words. It must be experienced.  But one thing I can do,  is share a parsnip recipe that might possibly convert even the most hardened of parsnip skeptics.