24 May 2009

Okra 'Gumbo' Fideo Risotto

You either love okra, or you hate it. If you hate it, skip this recipe for sure, because it is all about that slimy, seed-filled sometimes prickly pod called okra...

My original thought was to just make an okra - sweet corn risotto, but that seemed a little too simple and plain. Gumbo with okra in Louisiana is full of rich flavors, and nearly always contains meat as a backbone. To avoid the meat here, we are using Bacon Salt. For a more 'gumbo-like' flavor, add the optional canned tomatoes. If you just need a big fix of okra after a long winter without any at all, leave them out and let the okra flavor dominate.

Adding the fideo adds a little color to the dish. Gumbo has a deep brown color to it from the long-cooked roux. This dish is supposed to be quick and easy, so spending an hour making a roux is out of the question. Toasting the pasta bits and adding them adds a little of that missing brown color, more texture and a slightly nutty taste.

I vaguely remember eating a product called Rice-A-Roni when I was younger, and it, I believe, also used a toasted pasta mixed with rice and a flavor packet. It might still be around for all I know, so this could be a Risotto-A-Roni...

Okra 'Gumbo' Fideo Risotto

2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1/2 medium onion, diced
3/4 c fideo (or vermicelli broken into 1 inch lengths) approx 4 ounces by weight)
2 c water
saffron pinch
1 vegan stock cube
1 c arborio or carnaroli rice
1 15 oz can of diced fire roasted tomato, drained (optional)
2 c frozen sliced or whole okra
2 c frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t Bacon Salt
1/2 tsp togarishi (optional but recommended)

Preheat a 12 inch frying pan on low heat.

Start 2 quarts of water boiling in a saucepan.

Measure 2 cups of water and add the saffron to steep and color the water.

In pressure cooker, use BROWN setting to heat 1 T of olive oil.

Add diced onion and rice to pressure cooker and saute, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent but not browned.

Add 1 Tbs of oil oil to the frying pan. Add the fideo all at once, and cook for a few minutes stirring very frequently until it is toasty brown, but be careful it doesn't burn. Don't leave it or it will burn.

When fideo is brown, remove pan from heat. See below for photo showing fideo uncooked, and then browned

When onion is done in pressure cooker, add the saffron water, optional tomatoes if using, and switch from BROWN to pressure cooker at 10 pounds pressure.

Pressure cook for abut 7 minutes.

Add fideo to boiling water and boil 7 minutes. Drain.

When pressure cooker beeps, release steam, remove lid. Add the okra and corn kernels. Do not stir.

Replace lid and pressure cook for 3 minutes at 10 pounds.

When cooker beeps, release steam and remove lid. Add fideo, salt and Bacon Salt and stir as little as possible to mix. Replace lid and let mixture sit for 5 minutes.

Serve with togarishi to taste over the top.

Makes 8 - 9 cups.

Togarishi is a Japanese spice blend available here as House Shichimi Togarashi Red Pepper as well as any well stocked Asian grocery store. It is a pepper, seaweed, citrus mix with sesame seeds and is excellent on any grain dish.

Fideo - I was able to find it locally, but it is also available at Hot Paella as a Spanish food. Any thin pasta broken into 1/2 - 1 inch pieces will do.

22 May 2009

Kale Potato Vegan Blue Cheese Pizza

Kale Potato Vegan Blue Cheese Pizza

1 dough for 12" pizza crust (see our Dec 16 2008 post)
1 bunch kale
2 tsp sea salt, divided
3 medium yukon gold or Klondike rose potatoes
1 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese Chive and Herb flavor optional
8 oz Teese Mozzarella, grated
2 oz Sheese Blue Cheese, grated
1 tsp Bacon Salt

Preheat oven to 425F.

Rinse and chop kale, discarding stems.
Add kale to pressure cooker with 1 cup of water and 1 tsp of the sea salt and pressure cook for 8 minutes at 10 pounds.
While kale is cooking, peel and slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices.
After kale beeps, release pressure. Add a steamer basket over the kale still in the pot, and lay the potato slices evenly along basket. Note: if you like your kale chewier, remove it before cooking the potatoes but make sure you have sufficient water left for your pressure cooker.
Pressurize to 10 pounds and cook for 10 minutes.

While veggies are cooking roll out the pizza dough and put in the baking pan. Brush the edges lightly with the olive oil. No need to brush the entire crust, just the edges.
If using, spread the Tofutti around evenly in the middle.

When veggies are cooked, remove and cool so you can touch them.
Add a layer of potatoes to the crust and sprinkle with half the Bacon Salt.
Add a layer of kale to the potatoes and sprinkle with the remaining Bacon Salt.
Sprinkle the remaining 1 tsp of sea salt over the top.
Sprinkle the Teese mozzarella evenly over the pizza.
Bake for about 18 minutes.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with the Sheese blue cheese, and let pizza rest 2-3 minutes before cutting and serving.

Makes 4 generous slices.