Thursday, February 21, 2013

Krupnik: Polish Barley Soup

I mentioned before that I am predominately Polish and I learned about my heritage mostly from my amazing grandmother (see my Pierogi post). I am heartbroken to say she passed away this week. My family has another angel to watch over us all now. She died of atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries to due to fatty build up. I originally went vegan after my uncle passed from a heart attack, vowing I would do everything I could to counteract my family health history. Now I know I will never go back to the standard American diet.  The best way I can honor her memory is to live a long healthy, happy life. I want to live to see my great-grand children. I will tell the stories my grandma told me about her mother's life back in Poland, and teach them how to make delicous Polish dishes.

I heard my grandma mention barley soup before, but when she visited we usually made pierogi or kapusta. I have wanted to make this soup for awhile, mainly because it is already vegan friendly. This is popular dish is quintessential peasant food. There are various recipes with different vegetable variations. This is common version (and it happens to already be vegan). There are ones that have meat, but meat scrapes used to be hard to come by, so it was a treat on occasion only.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings.

Olive oil
1 large  yellow onion, chopped
2 cups porcini mushrooms, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
10 cups vegetable stock (a few cups can be water)
1 cup pearl barley
1 tsp dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the onion, mushrooms, carrots, and potatoes. Cook until the onions are slightly translucent and the potatoes soften.

Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

Add the vegetable stock.

Add the barley, parsley and the bay leaf. Mix together well.

Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Cover and cook for 1 hour, stir occasionally.

Once the barley is cooked, season with paprika, salt, and pepper.

I garnished it with a bit more paprika and some dill. I also had a side of pickled beats and kapusta I bought at a Slavic store.

I miss you so much already my beautiful babcia. Thank you for teaching about my heritage. I will always be a proud little Polish girl.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mushroom Baked Potato

Happy Valentine's Day!

This time last year, Michael and I had only been dating for a month, so I decided to go all out to impress my new boyfriend. I made him a big steak dinner---which is a GIANT deal for a vegan. But, like I have said before, I do make non-vegan meals for the people I love because, well I love them! So, of course this year Michael requested another steak dinner, and I obliged. The rest of the meal was vegan though, so I ate everything else---and had some yummy wine.

I made a healthier version of the classic baked potato. I added mushrooms, vegan cheese, and chives. There are tons of methods to speed up the cook time for baked potatoes, but I don't like them. This basic way is not hard and they come out prefect. It does take time, but just throw them in while you make make the rest of dinner, pick up the house, or do whatever else you need to do.

This recipe makes 2 servings, but can be easily multiplied.

Mushroom  Baked Potato
2 large potatoes
1 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup diced onions
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tsp season salt
1 tsp parsley
2 tbs Vegan Cheese (I used Trader Joe's Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds)
Chives, chopped

Pre-heat the oven 475 degrees.

Wash your potatoes well.  Pierce the potatoes with a fork several times all around.

Wrap the potatoes in foil, and put them in the oven.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a fork can be easily inserted into the center.

While they bake, melt the vegan butter in a skillet over medium-low heat.

Add the onions and cook until softened.

Add the mushrooms, cook until softened and slightly golden.

Add the season salt and parsley. Then set aside.

Once the potatoes are ready, remove from the foil and cut down the middle--but not all the way through.

Top your potato with the cheese, mushroom mixture, and chives---or anything else you like.

I added some garlic sautéed green beans and Michael wanted creamed corn. Simple and delicous meal, and no big hassle or mess. I have all evening to spend with my sweetheart now.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lasagna Rolls Up

I kept seeing several versions of lasagna rolls ups on Pintrest so I thought I would give them a try. I like the portion control and that they not as messy as traditional lasagna. I decided to make a very simple version with just vegan cheese, kale, and spinach. I made my own pasta sauce, but jarred is just fine.

This recipe makes 6 servings.

Lasagna Roll Ups
1 box of lasagna noodles (oven-ready is fine)
4 cups pasta sauce  (Try my Mushroom Sauce)
1.5 cup vegan mozzarella cheese, divided into 1 cup and half a cup.  (I used Trader Joe's Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds)
1 cup kale (I put it in fresh but sauté would be fine too)
1 cup fresh basil

If you noodles have cooking directions, follow them. If you have no-boil kinda, just bring a large pot of water to boil and cook until al dente. Drain and let cool slightly---but do not leave in the colander too long, they will stick together.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on a baking sheet or baking pan.

On a clean surface, separate the noodles and lie them down flat.

Evenly sprinkle about 2 tablespoons on mozzarella evenly over the upside of each noodle.

Next lay a few kale leaves down in an even thing layer over the noodle.

Next lay a few basil leaves down in an even thing layer on top of the kale.

Starting at one end of the noodle, tightly roll the noodle up. It should hold its rolled shape, if not squish it a bit until it stays.

Repeat the previous 4 steps with all the noodles.

Place the roll ups on the baking sheet. Space a bit apart from each other.

Cover the rolls ups with the remaining sauce.

Sprinkle the remaining half cup of mozzarella over the top.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly golden.

Michael loved these---though I made his with dairy cheese. I think next time I will load them up more, maybe some crumbled tofu and roasted peppers.