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Sunday, May 17, 2015

My Fair Elfy

The Elf has a good, interesting, fun, entertaining, anxious (sometimes), busy, and did we say FUN week. That’s why Monday turned into the following Sunday like THE NEXT DAY!
And last week’s post was so long, we’ve decided to give y’all a break this week and offer the KISS version of The Elf in the Kitchen.
Our EXPERT (that bein’ SUSAN VOISIN of FAT FREE VEGAN KITCHEN) recipes this week were 
 and as usual we were not disappointed.
The more interesting dish of the two was the Pav Bhaji or Spicy Mixed Vegetables on Buns. The Elf will use any excuse to visit Patel’s Grocery in Ridgeland MS. In fact, we have been talking to Mr. Patel hisownself to see if we might feature his Indian Grocery in an upcoming blog post. He has graciously consented so we are lining that up. Just to wander down the spice aisles is a blast.
In any event, we needed to get the primary spice for this dish…the Pav Bhaji Masala
We then spent a while chopping, dicing and preparing the ingredients for the dish itself. It was then The Elf decided that she needed a sous chef to do all the knife work. However we did get it done in advance of the actual kinky cookery phase of this effort. We REALLY REALLY like to do that so we don’t discover at the last minute we are missing an ingredient IN SPITE of our (mostly) diligent efforts to shop for everything we need for our EXPERT recipe(s).
So, here you go…all the ingredients (except we forgot to put the diced onion in this picture as it sat in its baggie on the opposite counter). Keep in mind that the recipe calls for these veggies to be diced or chopped (except the peas…it’s kinda hard to dice those) – so you’ll see carrots, green bell pepper, tomato, green beans, potatoes, cauliflower, and cabbage. Just pretend that you see a baggie of diced onion. Those two larger green chiles played a very important role in the flavoring/spiciness of this dish and were halved instead of diced.
We cooked the vegetables (except for the bell pepper, onion and tomatoes) in a small amount of water until they were soft and then used a potato masher thingie to mash them up a bit…not to smithereens but a nice texture with the vegetables still identifiable. Next we sautéed the onions until they began to slightly brown and added the minced ginger and garlic. We actually jumped the gun with adding the turmeric, so that’s why the picture of the onions has a yellow cast. Oops on The Elf! This cooked for a little longer to allow those flavors to develop before adding the bell peppers. Following that, we added the Pav Bhaji masala, red chili powder (remind me to tell you about THAT one!), turmeric (had we been on pointe with our turmeric) and salt. Last vegetable added were the diced tomatoes.
Lastly, we added our mashed vegetable medley, some water and let that simmer for a bit at a low temperature. The last ingredient was a small bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice to perk up things and bring out the flavor. We adjusted the salt seasoning slightly since we are salt conscious in this household. Actually, we have gone nuts over a smoked salt that adds wonderful flavor to a dish and can be used very sparingly. We had toasted some whole wheat potato buns on which to serve the vegetable mash-up. You’ll see a final plated picture shortly.
Next up was the Lentil Soup with Coriander and Cumin…no big deal here other than it’s a delicious soup, easy to make and set up our EXPERT evening quite nicely. Here’s a shot of it simmering with the carrots and spinach. The soup is quite nice and when we make it again, we may up the coriander/cumin slightly. Also, you’ll see further below how we added additional spice to it.
 Also, we’d mentioned that red chili powder..well, we bought some at Patel’s Grocery and got the EXTRA HOT!
And we are here to tell you that this stuff will blow the top of your mouth completely UP if you are not careful. The recipe calls for a teaspoon of red chili powder BUT we (very thankfully) chose to just use a half-teaspoon and increase it if we needed to. We didn’t need to…in fact, we could have probably used 1/4th teaspoon and been just as happy. It was a wee bit on the spicy side, even for us. Here’s the final plated meal.
One thing you need to know about both of these recipes is that (aside from being very very good), you get an abundance of food. We knew we’d have lunch for a few days from these two recipes. THEN The Elf got a notion on Monday to combine some of the lentil soup with an equal portion of the Pav Bhaji mixture and HOLY MOLY, was that ever good!! Toned down the heat of the Pav Bhaji and added extra spice to the soup.

OK, for our next elf-fort at the EXPERT’S recipes, we have selected the following two recipes
Roasted Asparagus Salad with Chickpeas and Potatoes (we’ll also use the FFVK Balsamic Raisin Dressing for that salad. We are including that link as well even though the recipe is for a different salad. The recipe for the Balsamic Raisin Dressing is embedded)
TLT Sandwiches (Tempeh, Lettuce and Tomato). We have lots of fresh lettuce in the garden that we need to eat before it gets too hot and the lettuce bolts, so this was an ideal companion to the salad.
Another recipe we tried this past week that was swoon worthy was Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos with Creamy Chipotle Sauce. OUTSTANDINGLY good! And it’s pretty darn easy. First, you roast some cauliflower that you’ve whittled down to bite sized portions
Then you cook up some spicy lentils seasoned with cumin, chili powder, sautéed onions, garlic and tomato paste
Whip up some chipotle sauce with began mayo, chipotle hot sauce (or adobo sauce) and some lime juice
Run out to the garden and pick some cilantro
And serve it all up in a warm soft taco. We did not get a good picture of our finished product but the link will send you straight to Cookie+Kate’s site where the recipe originated. This is a terrific site as well. There you will see this yummy vegan version of tacos! You can also find it on The Elf in the Kitchen’s Facebook page.
Our ARF (Animal Rescue Fund) cookies of the week were variations on the traditional oatmeal cookie (veganizing the recipe on the back of the box) including Coconut, Pecan, Raisin and Cherry Craisin and Chocolate Chip. These never last long.
And, remember the little foster Poodle dog we mentioned last week--Charlie? Well, he has found his forever home. Here. With. Us. Warts and all, we decided to keep the little guy and work with him on his issues. Just couldn’t stand the thought of him being shifted to yet another home. His foster days are over. He seems to be settling in with his little (emphasis on LITTLE) sister, MiniPearl
 And that, my friends, is the way it rolls at the Elf’s house. See you next week.
Til then, y’all, breathe deep, eat plants and love life.

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