Sep 4, 2011

vine and dine - wild mushroom bouillabaisse

Vine and Dine

Tami Noyes' Vine and Dine is brought to you tonight by the Horizon cookbook. The recipe is Wild Mushroom Bouillabaisse. 

As you all know by now, Tami, of American Vegan Kitchen, has TWO upcoming cookbooks, Grills Gone Vegan and the not-yet-named Sandwich cookbook with Celine Steen. Both are exciting additions to any kitchen! 

As for now, we are making Horizon's Bouillabaisse. If anyone would like to join Tami for Vine and Dine, it is as simple as choosing a vegan bottle of wine, cooking the chosen recipe and digging into both. I know Tami would love to have tons of readers join.  

Our chosen wine was a Pacific Redwood Pinot, which my "Ol' Man" will write more about.

As for the recipe: What exactly is a Bouillabaisse? Basically, it is a seafood soup. The herbs and the variety of fish determine the specialty of this soup. But what really sets this seafood soup apart from the rest of the seafood soups in the world, is how it is served. The broth is served first, with a toasted crouton, spread with a rouille (a thick sauce - in this case a red pepper spread) floating in its midst, not unlike a French Onion Soup with its island of floating bread and cheese. The fish itself is served on a separate platter. 

As the name implies, this bouillabaisse is of mushrooms. I used portobello, crimini, oyster, button, and shiitaki  'shrooms. I roasted pear and cherry tomatoes to add to the browned mushrooms, along with a great vegetable stock and white wine. Unfortunately, this recipe does not call for enough broth to serve separately as is traditional, but that is easily remedied by the home cook. There is also thyme, saffron, olive oil and garlic; all collaborating for a wonderful dish. 

David found that making a meal solely of mushrooms was intimidating. I challenged that as diners we have been so ingrained to believe that a meal without a "protein" isn't complete, that his prejudice of the meal was more psychological than physical. I stand by that; we are literally fed mis-information of what constitutes a meal so much that we cannot enjoy a perfectly delicious dish simply because we are programmed to believe it is just not enough.

As for me, deprogramming was instated a while back and I thoroughly enjoyed the dish.  The Bouillabaisse with another bottle of great vegan wine made me one happy diner. 

The meal for this week’s “Vine and Dine” was a rustic and earthy Bouillabaisse made with wild mushrooms, white wine, saffron, garlic and onions and was a hearty alternative to it’s seafood counterpart.
We paired this flavorful culinary morsel with a Pacific Redwood, Organic Pinot Noir (2010) and were pleasantly surprised at the symmetry and cohesion attained.  From the wine bottle's label, we were led to expect a vintage that is “delicate and subtle, with hints of strawberries and mint."  Frankly, neither the “Ol' Lady” nor I could discern the mint, but the strawberries were prominent in the “Nose” of the wine and we very much enjoyed this particular selection.  We usually lean towards Merlots or other reds with more body, but we were both happy that we ventured outside our norm.

Cost Breakdown

Mushrooms: $20
onion, pepper: $3
olive oil, spices: $1
bread: $2
stock, wine: $2
Total for 4 luxurious servings:


Sep 1, 2011

walnut and asparagus scampi pasta

Pasta Night

In another life, seafood and I were partners. Or more to the point, seafood graced many of my plates, as I happily devoured the little creatures, be they swordfish, tuna, shrimp, scrod, halibut, scallops or cod. I was a pescetarian, thinking that sea creatures were not factory farmed and were fair game for the honor of becoming my next meal. In fact, I felt pretty good about my decision to save the lives of their land counterparts - cows, pigs, chickens. It was a sad day for my eating repertoire when I discovered that fish were being factory farmed. The practice wasn't as common back twenty years ago, but it was certainly beginning its snowballing. On top of the fact that fish nowadays are intensely more factory farmed in huge over-populated underwater nets, the animals that are being caught in the wild are dwindling at an alarming rate. Add mercury and other heavy metals and toxic chemicals that leach into the seas from human pollution into the system of these same creatures, and you no longer are eating Omega-3 fatty acids wrapped up in an affordable lean protein, but are stuffing yourselves full of misery, metals and guilt, knowing that you are contributing to the extinction of numerous other species of sea life. 
How does your shrimp taste now?

Lovely segue into tonight's meal. Shrimp Scampi was a long time favorite of mine, ever since my father couldn't serve us the delicacy while owning a seafood restaurant because every penny had to be saved. Scampi was something that was expensive and carefully snuck out to the kids by my mom when my dad wasn't around. Some women lie to their spouses about the cost of the new dress they just bought at Macy's; my mom lied about food. 

While there are plenty of veggie shrimp substitutes on the market, this meal does not utilize any. I was wanting to make a dish that was a memory jolt to shrimp scampi and not a lightning bolt to the gut - in a good or a bad way. The seafood substitutes we've tried over the years have either totally missed the mark or were overwhelmingly 'fishy,' trying too hard to be something that they weren't. 

Scampi, whether shrimp, scallops, or asparagus, all contain tons of garlic, olive oil and lemon. The garlic is slowly infused into the oil over low heat, while the lemon juice gives an extra needed tang right before service. I chose to use asparagus, walnuts, dulse seaweed and parsley. Perhaps the empty serving bowl with the few lone strands of pasta sticking to the sides, sitting in the middle of the dining table gives an indication of how well received it was. Even hours after the dinner dishes have been dried and put away, the house is still perfumed with the garlic and olive oil. A gentle reminder of a meal well enjoyed.

Cost Breakdown

pasta: $1
asparagus: $4
olive oil, lemon juice, garlic: $1
parsley, dulse: $2
walnuts: $2
Total for 4 servings:

Walnut and Asparagus Scampi Pasta Recipe