Welcome!


Welcome to Romeo's Food Lady! This blog mainly contains recipes for delicious vegetarian food. Most of these are not MY recipes, just a compilation of great veggie food I've found from all over the place, sometimes tweaked to my taste. It's intended to be a reference you can consult again and again rather than a daily inspiration. After more than 25 years of being a vegetarian, I know what tastes good. In addition to recipes, you may occasionally have to tolerate musings and rants as well. Romeo's Food Lady is named after my friend and cat, Romeo. Romeo is not a vegetarian, but his Food Lady is. Enjoy!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Vegan and Vegetarian Sandwiches

Some folks cannot fathom what could make a sandwich good without meat.  As I said in my post for the hummus recipe, the secret is good bread and a delicious spread.  Then pile on the veggies to your heart's delight.  Here are some ideas for various vegetarian and vegan sandwiches (The ones marked with an asterisk are easily vegan if you check the bread.):


*1.  hummus with cucumber slices and roasted red pepper on baguette
*2.  olive spread (like you'd find on a muffaletta) with tomato, red onion, green romain lettuce, and sliced banana peppers on a hoagie bun
3.  goat cheese smeared on a toasted bagel with white onion, roasted red pepper, and and arugula
4.  pimento cheese (make this homemade by mixing grated cheddar cheese, mayo, and chopped pimento) and ruffley greenleaf lettuce on white bread
*5.  peanut butter mixed with smashed bananas on wholegrain wheat bread
6.  baguette split lengthwise, toasted, then spread with pizza sauce and fresh mozzarella, then run under the broiler


And here are some ideas that don't follow the bread-spread-veggie recipe:
*7.  falafel tucked into a pita pocket with green lettuce, cucumber slices, and tomato chunks, then drizzled with tahini-lemon sauce (I'll get you the recipe for this sauce later.)
*8.  veggie burger (Morningstar Farms makes a very nice garden burger if you don't have a recipe to make your own or don't have time.) on a sesame seeded bun with burger toppings
9.  grilled cheese on rye (with onion, tomato, and/or even jalepeno tucked into the sandwich before grilling?)...And American cheese isn't the only cheese you can use, you know.  You can even combine cheeses for a gourmet grilled cheese experience.


SO.  Now you know that vegetarians have puh-lenty of options for sandwich makings.  Here's to all the picnics you'll be making and the great brown bag lunches you'll be taking to the office now!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hot Spinach Dip

Here's another delicious, delicious item I made at brunch today.  Again, I wish I'd photographed it, because it looked nice.  But, alas, there is not any left to photograph now!


I got the original recipe from the Martha Stewart website and changed it slightly (only slightly!) to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand.


2 t. olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. fresh spinach, washed
1/2 c. heavy cream (I used Organic Valley.)
6 oz. neufchatel cheese (which is a lower-fat cream cheese ingredient, and I used Organic Valley again)
5 dashes of hot sauce (and, honestly, I'd use more next time)
3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese (I always recommend Organic Valley over anything else, as you can tell, but I only had access to Horizon Organic today.  Animals involved in organics are more likely, but not guaranteed, to be treated more humanely, and Organic Valley is a cooperative of family-owned farms, which I like.)
salt and freshly ground pepper
chips, pita chips, baguette slices, and/or crudités for serving the dip


Remove the large stems from your fresh spinach, then chop it coarsely.  I know it looks like a huge amount now, but once it is cooked it will reduce dramatically.


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.  Lightly oil a 1.5-quart shallow baking dish.  In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until lightly browned, 5-10 minutes.


Add half of the spinach to the large pot.  Let it wilt, then add the 2nd half.  Cook until the spinach is all completely wilted, stirring it with the onion mixture as you cook.  Transfer the spinach and onion to a colander, and press it with the back of your spoon to release and drain excess liquid.


In the same large pot, heat the heavy cream over high heat.  Add the neufchatel cheese and whisk until melted.  Add the spinach, hot sauce, 1/4 c. cheddar, and salt and pepper, to taste.  (I used a fairly generous amount of salt.)  Pour the mixture into the oiled baking dish and spread into an even layer.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 c. cheddar on top.


Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 20 - 25 minutes.  Serve warm with accompaniments.


My guests went crazy over this, even the children!

Spring Frittata

I had a brunch today where I served a frittata (a sort of crustless quiche or maybe an omelet that isn't folded in half).  The recipe started from Williams-Sonoma, but their recipe is designed for their frittata pan, which I don't have.  I also tailored the ingredients somewhat.  Here's how I did it:

1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, washed, woody stem ends removed
1 shallot, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 eggs
1/2 c. heavy cream (I used Organic Valley.)
1 T. snipped fresh chives
3/4 c. organic cheddar cheese (I used Organic Valley.), shredded or grated
1 T. vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance.)

The asparagus and shallot need to be cooked for the frittata, and you can do this in advance.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Pour the olive oil in a shallow baking dish.  Add the asparagus, shallot, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat in the oil.  Arrange the asparagus in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes, shaking the pan every 5 minutes to ensure the vegetables stay coated.  Allow to cool down and cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces.

Mix the eggs, cream, chives, and salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Stir in the cheddar cheese.

Melt the margarine in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Pour the egg mixture into the pan, ensuring the vegetables are evenly distributed.  Allow the bottom of the eggs to set.  Using a wooden spoon, lift the edges of the frittata to allow the uncooked egg to run underneath to cook.  Once most of the liquid egg is cooked and the bottom is browned, you need to flip the frittata over.  This is the tricky part.  If you have another large non-stick skillet, you can melt another T. of margarine in that and turn your frittata into the new pan, uncooked side down.  If you don't (I didn't.), you'll have to use a trick my mom used today:  Get something with a surface large enough to cover the frittata (like a pan lid or platter) and grease it.  Put it face down on the frittata and flip the frittata onto the greased surface, then slide it back into the same pan, uncooked side down.  That's the hard part.  After you're that far, it's a piece of cake.  Allow the underside to brown, the slide out of the pan onto a serving platter.  Voila!

Cut into pie-shaped pieces and serve.  This serves about 6 people.  I regret that I did not photograph it, because it was quite lovely!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hummus

There is a secret to making fantastic vegetarian sandwiches:  good bread and one exciting spread.  You need to have an exciting spread,  then just load on veggies to your heart's content.  Hummus is one of the spreads that qualifies, and it can also be used as a dip for chips (corn, potato, pita, etc.) or crudités.

I'm going to share a recipe for hummus here that is tightly based on Mollie Katzen's classic vegetarian cookbookThe Moosewood Cookbook.  Here's the 411:

2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas or ceci beans), drained and rinsed
1 handful fresh parsley, optional but recommended
1 handful fresh chives or 2 scallions, optional but recommended
1/4 c. plus 2 T. tahini (Tahini is ground sesame seeds, like peanut butter is ground peanuts.)
2 juicy lemons, juiced and deseeded
1 t. salt
cumin, to taste (optional)
extra virgin olive oil
paprika, to taste

In a food processor (If you still consider a food processor an unnecessary gadget, you might reconsider these days.), combine garlic, garbanzo beans, parsley (if using), chives or scallions (if using), tahini, lemon juice, salt, and cumin (if using).  Process until you have a nice texture (determine if you like it chunkier or smoother, and go to that point).  If the hummus is too thick, drizzle olive oil into the mixture with the motor running until it has thinned to your liking.  Serve the hummus as a dip with more olive oil and paprkia on top, or spread it on a sandwich and sprinkle on paprika to taste.  YUM!

Hummus is often served with Middle Eastern mezzas along with things like dolmas, baba ghanoush, and tabouleh.  It's healthy and delicious!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring is springing!

Our lettuces are on their way!

Mayonaise Rolls

Did that title get your attention?  Mayonaise rolls sound like strange things, indeed, no?  Well, they are actually quite delicious, and this is one thing I use mayonaise for even though I don't like mayonaise, per se.  The rolls go really well with a soul food-type of meal.  They are yeasty and slightly sweet with a cakey texture.  Sadly, I LOVE them smothered in vegan margarine.

I got this recipe from my mom (Hi Mom!), and I'm not sure where she got it.

2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 T. sugar
2 T. mayonaise (or vegan mayonaise if you want the rolls to be vegan)
1 pkg. (or 2 and 1/4 t. if using a jar) bread yeast (This is for flavor only, not for rising.)
1 c. rice milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a muffin pan using canola oil, nonstick spray, or vegan margarine.

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add mayonaise (or vegan mayo) and rice milk, stirring until blended.  Evenly divide the dough among 10 muffin cups.  (Most muffin pans have 12 cups, but this recipe makes about 10 rolls comfortably.)  Bake until golden brown.

Homemade Mayonaise

I have a friend, Jacqueline, who is from France.  I remember the first time I made mayonaise at home, I was going crazy about how easy it was.  Jacqueline told me that store-bought mayonaise was a novelty to her when she moved to the United States, because everyone just makes it at home in France.  Why would you buy it with a bunch of weird ingredients at the store when it is so simple to make at home, you know?


I have to be honest about mayonaise:  I don't really like it.  But I do occasionally have a use for it, which is why I started making it in the first place.  Now Scott makes it, because he does like it and will go through a batch easily if it gets made.  Oh, and Scott's not a cook.  That's how easy homemade mayonaise is.


This recipe is not mine.  I got it straight from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood CookbookI hope she doesn't mind if I share it with you.  I should also mention that this cookbook has a recipe for homemade vegan mayonaise, too, so if you're vegan, you should pick up a copy of her cookbook for that recipe.


1 large egg (I like to use free-range eggs.  Yes, they are more expensive.  However, the chickens have a better quality of life, and you CAN taste and even see a difference in these eggs.)
3 T. cider vinegar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. dry mustard
1 1/4 c. canola oil


That's all of the ingredients!  Aren't you amazed?  Here's what you do:


Put the egg, vinegar, salt, mustard, and 2 T. of the canola oil in your blender.  Start the motor running and let it go for a few seconds.  With the motor running, start drizzling in the remaining oil.  The mixture will change to mayonaise before your eyes!  I never get tired of watching this happen.


Sometimes my mayo gets so thick before all the oil is incorporated that I have to turn off the motor and manually mix some oil in with a spoon, then turn the motor back on.  Either way, once all the oil is incorporated, turn off the motor and scrape every last bit of the mayo into a jar or container.  Refrigerate your homemade mayonaise, and there you go!

TVP Pizza

I know the concept of vegetarian pizza is not difficult.  I mean, heck, you can order a veggie pizza from any pizza delivery place, right?  Well, I get that, but sometimes you need something a little different.  That's where TVP pizza comes in.  Remember TVP from the vegan chili recipe?  It stands for Texturized Vegetable Protein.  It's fairly bland when you first rehydrate it, but it's got a wonderful texture once you spice it up and put it in something.  This pizza is DELICIOUS.  I wish I still had some right now, but even the leftovers from this pizza go fast.  I made some last week, and we ate all the leftovers the very next day.

The crust recipe is basically from Annie Somerville's fantastic cookbook Fields of Greens, with only a minor adjustment.  It's simple to make, but it takes about an hour.  If you don't have time for this, use a store-bought crust, but I guarantee it won't be as delicious.  This makes two 14- or 15-inch pizzas.

For the crust:
2 T. cornmeal
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. bread yeast
1 1/4 c. lukewarm water (The best test for the temperature is to let it run on the inside of your wrist.  If you don't really notice it, it's the right temp.  If it feels warm or cool, adjust the temperature.)
1 t. salt
3.5 cups of all-purpose white flour, plus more for kneading and rolling the dough

For the topping:
1 c. TVP
7/8 c. boiling water
1 t. salt
oregano, to taste (optional)
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 - 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 handfuls frozen broccoli pieces
your favorite jarred tomato spaghetti sauce or a can of tomato pizza sauce
6 oz. organic mozarella cheese and/or goat cheese (optional)

In a 2-quart bowl, mix the cornmeal and the crust's olive oil.  In a separate small bowl, combine the lukewarm water and yeast and allow the yeast to grow and become fluffy for about 5 minutes.  Pour the yeast mixture (You may have to manually scrape out all the yeast.) and the crust's salt in with the olive oil/cornmeal mixture and combine.

Begin adding the flour to the olive oil mixture, 1/2 c. at a time.  Stir to mix after each addition.  Once it gets difficult to stir, pour out onto a clean, lightly floured countertop.  Knead with your hands, adding more flour to prevent stickiness if necessary.  (If you don't know how to "knead" dough, you'll press in with the heel of your hand, then sort of pull the edge over on the rest of the dough and combine it using the same heel-of-the-hand motion.)  After vigorously kneading for about 5 minutes, your dough should have the consistency of an ear lobe.  If you pat it with your hand, it feels like someone's stomach, maybe.  At this point, pour a small amount of olive oil in the 2-quart bowl you used, and return the dough to the bowl.  Turn the dough over to coat it with the oil.  Cover with a tea towel or cloth napkin or something similiar, and put it in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, 35-40 minutes.  (NOTE:  I often turn the oven on 200 degrees F for 1 minute to make it a "warm place."  Be sure to turn the oven OFF reasonably quickly before putting your dough in there!  You'll need to take it out about 10 minutes before cooking time so you can preheat the oven.)

While the dough is rising, mix the dry TVP with the boiling water, the optional oregano, and 1 t. salt in a medium bowl.  Allow this to stand for 10 minutes to rehydrate.

Heat the topping's olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion, garlic, and broccoli pieces to the warmed oil.  Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.  Scrape everything from the skillet into the TVP, and mix.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.  (Be sure you've taken your dough out if you were warming it in there!)  Mix tomato sauce into the TVP mixture until it has reached the consistency you like for your pizza topping.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down with your fist.  It will deflate slightly.  Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces.  Roll the first piece out to about a 14- or 15-inch circle or square, depending on the size and shape of the pizza pan or baking sheet you're using and also depending on how thick you like your crust.  Move the rolled crust to your pan, and spread 1/2 of the mixture over the crust.  Top with 3 oz. of cheese, if desired, or omit cheese for vegan pizza.  Repeat with the other piece of dough and the other half of the topping.

Bake each pizza for 12 minutes at 500 degrees F, until cheese (if using), is melted and browned and crust is risen and browned.  Top with crushed red pepper or serve with pepperoncini, if desired, and enjoy!  However, remember that you cooked this pizza at 500 degrees F.  It is hot, so please let it cool down before you put it in your mouth!  ;o)