Sunday, 17 April 2011

Everyday Flexitarian

Healthy, sustainable, organic, environmentally responsible....

These are all ideals that we home cooks are striving towards. We know that, for the health of our families and the planet, we should be mindful of how we shop and cook - but we also want good flavour and, let's face it, we don't have a huge amount of time either.

Everyday Flexitarian shows how meat can be used as an accessory, rather than main component, of a dish. In using meat sparingly in an otherwise vegetarian lifestyle, the authors assert that you will indeed be trimming your waistline as well as benefiting your health and the health of the planet.

Much emphasis is placed on sourcing environmentally responsible foods and making much of it yourself. There is a section on cultivating an "enlightened pantry", including some homemade spice mixes, rubs, pastes and sauces, and a whole cookbook's worth of flexitarian dishes. Meat is included as an option in many of them, and others are strictly vegetarian.

Everyday Flexitarian
Recipes for Vegetarians & Meat Lovers Alike

Nettie Cronish , Pat Crocker
Softcover, 288 pages

I do love the idea of this book, certainly there are lots of great ideas for serving veggie and flexitarian meals, and there is a lot of information on making wise shopping choices. I did find that there also seemed to be a lot of wasted space in the layout, and would have loved to see even more information or photos added in.

In our KitchenPuppy test kitchen, we whipped up the Spiced Potato and Lentil Salad, and the Gingerbread Bars. Both were absolutely delicious. The spiced potato and lentil salad makes an excellent side dish, wrap filling, and snack food for when you have the munchies - I love the brightness of the lemon in there.
And the gingerbread is earthy and spicy and sweet - and makes for the best ice cream sandwiches you can imagine!

Gingerbread Bars
Not quite a cookie, but a pair of these- moist and brown sugar flavoured- makes fabulous book ends for an ice cream sandwich. Cut into larger pieces if you prefer. - Nettie

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) ground ginger
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
½ tsp (2 mL) baking soda
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ cup (125 mL) plus 2 Tbsp (30 mL) non-hydrogenated shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (250 mL) lightly packed dark brown sugar
5 Tbsp (75 mL) granulated sugar, divided
2 large eggs
¼ cup unsulfured molasses

Rimmed baking sheet, parchment-lined

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Sift flour into a medium-sized bowl. Transfer 2 Tbsp (30 mL) sifted flour into a small bowl and set aside. Stir ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt into larger amount of flour.

In a separate bowl, cream shortening, brown sugar, and 4 Tbsp (60 mL) of the granulated sugar until fluffy.

Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in molasses. Add spiced flour to shortening mixture and beat to blend.

Scrape batter onto prepared sheet. Sift reserved 2 Tbsp (30 mL) flour evenly overtop. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 Tbsp ( 15 mL) granulated sugar. Bake gingerbread in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on pan on a cooling rack before slicing.

Cut crosswise into 4 equal strips, and then cut each strip into 6 pieces, for 24 pieces total.

Spiced Potato and Lentil Salad
This recipe has an interesting spice mixture that is sweet and hot and delicately scents the lentils and potatoes. If possible, marinate for 30 minutes or longer. My 21-year -old son, Cameron, always likes to pack this into a pita to eat before an exam. - Nettie

1 cup (250 mL) red lentils
2½ cups (625 mL) water
3 potatoes (I prefer waxy potatoes), cut into cubes
3 Tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper
½ tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
½ tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
½ tsp (2 mL) ground coriander
¼ to ½ tsp (1-2 mL) cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground cloves
Juice of 1 lemon

Rinse lentils in a strainer under cold running water. Drain and transfer into a saucepan. Add the 2½ cups (625 mL) water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and boil gently for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until soft.
Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, and cloves. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Combine cooked lentils and potatoes, onion-spice mixture, and lemon juice in a bowl. Toss to mix well.