Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bourbon-Baked Squash

Acorn squash is my least favorite of the winter squashes. I much prefer the solid texture and sweeter flesh of the butternut squash when it comes to the winter gourds. So anything that might up the flavor ante for the humble acorn squash, such as this recipe for "Bourbon-Baked Squash" (page 383) is likely to catch my eye. Each side of the halved and seeded squash is filled with a splash of bourbon, a sprinkling of sugar and allspice, and per the recipe, a dab of margarine (I omitted the margarine completely). The prepared halves are then baked in the oven until tender. The picture I used here was prior to baking, so you can see the small pool of bourbon sitting in the cavity, and the sprinkles of brown sugar and allspice. This is definitely a nice way to capitalize on the otherwise mild flavor of acorn squash!
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü     Omit the margarine - you won't even miss it!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Green Beans & Grape Tomatoes

"Green Beans & Grape Tomatoes" (page 369) is another quick vegetable side dish that makes a delicious accompaniment to just about any dinner you can think of. Steamed green beans are tossed with sautéed shallots and garlic, embellished with grape tomatoes, and seasoned with fennel seed and basil - a wonderful combination of fresh flavors.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü  Omit the oil when sautéing the shallots and garlic; instead, use a nonstick soup pot and/or water, broth, or sherry as a sauté liquid.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Brussels Sprouts with Shallots & Dillweed

If you are a Brussels Sprouts fan (isn't everyone? J), you will love "Brussels Sprouts with Shallots & Dillweed" (page 360). This is a simple side dish that consists of just Brussels sprouts, shallots, and dillweed, like the recipe would suggest, with a dash of salt and pepper. What can you say about Brussels sprouts? It seems that people either like them, or not, and it's hard to get the non-fans to the other side of the ledger. I happen to love them, and found this particular preparation very tasty. On an aside, the author says that the key to great-tasting Brussels sprouts is to not overcook or undercook them. Maybe something to consider if you haven't acquired a taste for them yet.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:


ü  Omit the oil when sautéing the shallots; instead, use a nonstick skillet and/or water, broth, or sherry as a sauté liquid.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Linguine With Ligurian Pesto

According to the recipe notes for "Linguine with Ligurian Pesto" (page 201), Pesto, the famous basil sauce, originated in Liguria, where it is more mellow than most of the pesto made in America.  This is because in Liguria the basil is both milder and more tender, the olive oil is lighter and fruitier, and the garlic is smaller and milder. I struggled philosophically with changing this recipe to make it oil free, since it would appear that the Ligurian olive oil is an integral component to the dish. In the end, I decided to swap out the olive oil for a light veggie broth, and use my imagination to transport myself to Italy. As I've mentioned before, pesto is so easy to make without oil, and in my opinion, it's a shame that the authentic recipes call for so much! (This recipe calls for ½ cup, and urges you to find the authentic Ligurian variety if possible). Pine nuts add a hefty amount of natural oil, and using veggie broth provides the additional liquid, so I have never missed the olive oil in what I considered an over-oiled sauce to begin with. This dish goes together fast, consisting of just the pesto (made from pine nuts, fresh basil, garlic, salt, vegan parmesan (purchased or homemade), and in my case, veggie broth) and the cooked linguine. Buon Appetito!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü     Substitute ½ cup light veggie broth for the olive oil.
ü     Use whole grain linguine.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Herbed Millet & Pecan Loaf

Every once in a while even a seasoned cook has a failure in the kitchen. When that happens to me, I am left wondering what went wrong, especially when following a recipe. Did I read the directions wrong? Was there some important detail left out of the recipe directions? Were my ingredients not an exact match to those listed? My recent experience with the "Herbed Millet & Pecan Loaf" (page 281) was one of those occurrences. The failure, or "what went wrong", was that the loaf didn’t hold together, with the exception of the two pieces sliced off of each end. Why it didn't hold together, I haven't figured out. My best guess is it might have been undercooked a tad. This recipe required some work, so it was especially disappointing when it sort of dissolved under the knife blade. Intended to be a vegan substitute for meatloaf, I was stumped when I ended up with something that resembled crumbles. What in the world was I going to do with this? My first impulse, after salvaging the two end pieces, was to just throw it all away and chalk it up to one of those disappointing kitchen experiments. But it tasted so good…and it took so much work…how could I just toss that all away? Instead, I scooped it up and set it aside in the refrigerator, waiting to see if any ideas would come to me. And what do you know? I ended up using this concoction in a number of delicious ways! I added a big scoop of the "Herbed Millet & Pecan Crumbles" to homemade gravy, and served that over mashed potatoes one night, and over toast for breakfast the next morning; I added it to cubed potatoes and made a breakfast hash; I made tacos, and used the crumbles as a nutty filling. I liked this so much as a vegan ground beef substitute I can see myself making this again for that reason alone! The ingredients in this serendipitous loaf-turned-crumbles include cooked millet, sautéed veggies (onion, celery, garlic, cloves), pecans, and fresh herbs (green onions, parsley, and basil). I would love to hear from anyone else who has tried this delicious loaf and the experience you had.  
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Omit the oil when sautéing the veggies; instead, use a nonstick skillet and/or water, broth, or sherry as a sauté liquid.