Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Friday, November 28, 2008

The day after - still very, very thankful

I love being with our family. They are bright, intelligent, articulate people who also happen to be generous and kind.

We never want for an opinion - and sometimes two or three from the same person on the same subject!

We played a few really hot rounds of UNO. The competition was fierce!

We played in Spanish to help Ms. Mackie do better with her mastery of the language - especially with colors and numbers. She's doing quite well, thank you very much.

We firmly believe that it is important for our kids to grow up bi- or mulit-lingual, especially in this multicultural, pluralistic world.

Two year old Ms. Abby, however, was confused by the game as well as the Spanish. At one point, she simply put her Beloved Blankie over her head and said, "No more funny talk."

"Oh," we said, "we're having fun."

"Have fun," she said, "No talk funny."

In the end, however, she was asking for the 'azul' sippy cup.

We also had a ballet lesson, Ms. Mackie showing her best form.

Of course, we also went around the front yard and collected sea shells and rocks for Ms. Mackie's growing . . ."collection." We did find the shell of a horseshoe crab that had washed up in the last storm. Mackie was so excited she squealed!

Oh, yeah, and the food was good. The vegetarian alternatives were particularly tasty - so good that everyone had some of the sweet potato and mixed mushroom stuffing and the winter butternut squash braised in cider.

Unfortunately, tofu still suffers from initial bad press - first impressions and all that - but it was really, really good.

So, if you have some vegetarians in your family or in the future of your family, here are some fabulous recipes which are now part of our family tradition.

Baked Tofu with Roasted Vegetables
(Makes 4 servings)


1 block (14 oz.) extra firm tofu
4 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce)
2 tbsp canola or sesame oil
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 inch ginger root, peeled and smashed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
8 stalks fresh asparagus

hot pepper oil ** (optional)

optional: sliced green onions and /or black sesame seeds for garnish


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.

Drain the tofu of excess water. Cut the block of tofu in half horizontally, and in half again to make four “steaks”. Place between paper towels and press to get any remaining water out. (To do this well, press and drain and leave aside for a few minutes and then press and drain again.)

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and oil. Add mashed garlic and ginger. Place the tofu on the baking sheet and brush with the marinade. Let sit for at least twenty minutes or up to two hours in the fridge, letting the juices soak in.

Toss the asparagus and red pepper in 1/2 tbsp olive oil and arrange on the baking sheet next to the tofu slices. Season everything with a generous sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bake in the oven for about one hour, turning once, until tofu is golden and crispy. The edges should look crispy and glazed and the vegetables should be caramelized. Brush any extra sauce over top if necessary.

Remove from the oven and plate the tofu slices with the vegetables. Serve with a drizzling of hot pepper oil or with ***creamy tahini-peanut dipping sauce.

** Make your own hot pepper oil by heating 5 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp crushed red pepper in a small saucepan until the oil starts to bubble and brown. Place in a lidded container and set aside for a few days so the infusion has time to really come alive and age. Use sparingly to add flavor and spice to any dish. But be careful, this is going to be spicy!

*** Tahini Sauce:
(Recipe makes enough sauce for several pounds of asparagus and tofu, but have fun thinking of other things it would taste great with.)
1/4 cup well-stirred Tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup warm water
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. agave nectar, preferably amber (can also use sugar or Splenda)
1/2 tsp. ground garlic puree from a jar (or use fresh garlic and grind in mortar and pestle)
2 tsp. soy sauce (I used Tamari)
2 T peanut butter (I use natural low-sugar peanut butter for South Beach Diet)

Mixed Mushrooms and Sweet Potato Stuffing

Adapted from Charlie Trotter of Charlie Trotter's, Chicago
Time: 45 minutes

4 medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and in large dice (4 cups)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped sage leaves
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons grape seed oil (or any vegetable oil)
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms (shiitake, portobello or cremini) (4 cups), cleaned, stemmed and in large dice
1 small red onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
2 sprigs thyme, plus 1 tablespoon minced thyme
8 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 to 3 cups vegetable broth
8 cups day-old sourdough bread, in large dice (one 2-pound round loaf, trimmed of crust)
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped fine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley.

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. In roasting pan, place sweet potatoes, olive oil and 1 tablespoon sage leaves , sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Roast until golden brown and tender, tossing occasionally, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms and red onions with thyme sprigs, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are caramelized, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat, stir 4 tablespoons butter into hot mushrooms and discard thyme. Set mushrooms aside.

3. Use remaining butter to coat a 3-quart baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, one cup cream and 2 cups chicken broth together. Add bread and stir until coated evenly. Fold in sweet potatoes, mushroom mixture and remaining herbs. If bread cubes seem dry, add more cream and vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon stuffing into baking dish and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Yield: 10 - 12 servings.

Winter Squash Braised in Cider

Time: 15 - 25 minutes

3 pounds delicata or butternut squash
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
3 cups unfiltered apple or pear cider
1 teaspoon balsamic or apple cider vinegar, optional and to taste
Freshly ground black pepper.

1. Peel squash, halve lengthwise, and remove seeds with spoon. If using delicata, slice into half-moons 1/2-inch thick; if using butternut, dice into 1/2-inch chunks.

2. Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over low heat until foamy. Add rosemary, and cook over medium heat to flavor butter, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add squash, cider, and 1 teaspoon salt. If squash is not covered by cider, add water to cover.

3. Bring to a simmer, and cook until squash is tender and cider has reduced to a glaze, stirring frequently, 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to warm serving bowl, and serve immediately.
Yield: 9 - 12 servings.


Kirkepiscatoid said...

Can I eat your leftovers? Even if they are (gulp) vegetarian?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Absolutely, Kirke. Goodness knows, there are enough leftovers. I have to giggle when I copied these recipes that said "serves 8 - 12". We had 12 people for dinner, I sent some home with Karen's family, Mia took a whole bag home for herself, and Julie will take some home with her. Even so, I think Ms. Conroy and I will have a hard time finishing it off.

And, we're not skimpy eaters - as is clearly evidenced by our pictures.

So, come on down. There's enough to feed a small nation here.

Fran said...

Oh what a gorgeous family, the eyes of those children.

Sounds like an amazing day and I am tempted to try that tofu bake.

I am very thankful to not only live in a world with you in it, but that I get to know you. Virtually now, IRL soon enough.

In fact, if I get in the car now I could be eating your leftovers by early afternoon...

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

c'mon down, franiam.

Anonymous said...

Your leftovers sound great! I'm not a tofu fan, but that looks really tempting!

Can I come too? Why should Fran have all the fun? I think Fran would be willing to share.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I have no doubt that Fran would share but she won't even have to. Yeah, there's THAT much left over.

C'mon down.

Brother David said...

Madre Lizbet, I immediately thought of you and your family when I encountered this recipe yesterday.

Creamy mushroom ragout over sweet potato cakes

Total time: 1 1/2 hours
Servings: 8 to 12

Note: This dish makes a satisfying main course for the vegetarians at your holiday table. For a quicker version, omit the sweet potato cakes altogether and simply spoon the mushroom ragout over roasted and mashed sweet potatoes. This recipe can be prepared up to one day in advance.

3 sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), pricked all over with a fork
1 1/3 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons butter
4 shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms (such as chanterelle, shiitake, oyster and cremini), stemmed and halved or quartered
2 tablespoons chopped sage, divided
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast, turning occasionally, until soft, about 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard the peels and mash the potato flesh in a large bowl until just chunky. Stir in the bread crumbs, walnuts, sugar, mace, egg, three-fourths teaspoon salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper until thoroughly combined.

2. Place the flour in a wide, shallow dish. Using floured hands, form sweet potato mixture into 12 3-inch patties. (Each patty will use a scant one-third cup of the sweet potato mixture. Make smaller patties, if you like.) Coat each in flour, shaking off any excess, and transfer to a baking sheet. Heat one-fourth cup of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the patties, turning once, until deep golden brown all over, 8 to 9 minutes total. Transfer the fried patties to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Add additional oil, as needed, to the pan so the patties do not stick as they fry. Set aside when done.

3. Clean out and return the skillet to stove. Melt the butter in the skillet over medium-high heat then add the shallots with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of the sage and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have softened to tenderness and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add the cream and simmer, stirring often, until just thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in vinegar and season additionally to taste. (Recipe can be prepared to this point up to 24 hours in advance and kept, covered tightly, in the refrigerator.)

4. Bring the sweet potato cakes to room temperature and heat the ragout. Serve the sweet potato cakes with the hot mushroom ragout spooned over the top. Garnish with remaining 1 tablespoon sage and serve.

The word verification was bleth!

The Lord bleth you and keep you.

Jim said...

Jim's recipe contribution for your vegis.

2 small golden beets
2 small red beets
1 medium Celery root
1/2 C balsamic glaze*
1 Tbl dried tarragon
2 (about) Tbl. butter

Wearing gloves (unless you like hands stained red) peal everything. Cut everything into roughly equal sized chunks.

Place the vegi pieces in an 8x8 glass or non-stick baking pan. Drizle the balsamic glaze over the vegies, dot with the butter, and sprinkle on the tarragon. Cover with foil, bake until the vegetables are fork tender, and the glaze has combined with the juices to make a thick sauce. This takes about 30 minutes at 350.

This is how we got my sons to actually like beets. It is a family favorite and my vegetarian buddies love it.


Frair John said...

Looking at the photos, I do believe I have met the lovely Ms Conroy.

Was she at the dedication of the Chapel of the Episcopal Carmel a month or so ago?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, DAVEED and Jim, how completely thoughtful and wonderful of you to send along these recipes. I love it and can't wait to try them out.

You know, I realize that I rarely eat beef - maybe a burger now and again when I'm out with friends, but I can't remember the last time I had, say, prime rib or pot roast.

I'm also realizing that I eat more fish and shell fish than chicken.

I'm thinking that this is just a healthier way to eat - even if I serve these veggies as sides with chicken or fish.

Thanks so much you guys. I love you both for this.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

BTW, Jim, my absolute favorite way to eat beets is raw. Fresh picked from the garden, washed off at the garden hose by the garage, sliced thick with a pocket knife.

Just the way my grandfather used to 'fix' 'em for me.

But, this recipe looks great, too.

Jim said...

Rev. Elizabeth,

I like them that way too. But for some reason, the boys thought the taste too strong. So I started working on it and came up with this recipe. I am of mixed Rom and Magyar heritage (you know us Rom, any pretty girl in a storm or for that matter without a storm) and I love borscht (either the hot or cold kind) too. I never learned to make my grandma's paprika borscht but I am still working on it.

I travel a lot now. I tend to eat whatever is regional. My rule is no chain restaurant if I can help it except for lunch. But, thinking about it, I often land up remembering the vegis except in the South where the bbq sauce is a religious event.

You are entirely welcome.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Friar John, Ms. Conroy thinks you have her confused with Sr. Barbara Jean, superior of the Convent St. John Baptist in Mendham.

Sorry. She's a member of Anamchara Fellowship, based in Newark, Delaware, but she was unable to be there for that dedication.

I'm sure your paths will cross in the future, however. Even though still baptismal waters tend to run very deep, you monastery/convent / monastic spirituality types tend to find each other. Ms. Conroy has already looked you up.

It's just a matter of time.

Paul Davison said...

It sounds as if you had an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving! We had just the three of us (our college student son came home), if you don't count our 4 dogs. Standard turkey and stuff, and I didn't even overeat!

After the last year, we decided that we were just thankful that I was still here, so it was a wonderful day.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Paul

Ellie Finlay said...

Oh my! What wonderful sounding vegetarian recipes! They make my mouth water just reading them. I'm definitely saving the lot.

And I LOVE tofu. So I'm looking forward to trying that one!

Dah*veed, the mushroom ragout sounds delightful but really time consuming. I'll save trying that one for when I have some time off. But it certainly looks like a keeper.

And, Jim, I'm very fond of beets but I've never come across golden ones. I'm trying that one, too!