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Posts tagged ‘corn’

Once More on the Go: The Assateague Crab House

Last week I was on a mini-summer vacation in beautiful Ocean City, MD. I’d never been to this beach, but I definitely want to go back, especially to Assateague Island!

In addition to sun and sand, one of the first things that often come to mind when one thinks of the beach is seafood – lots and lots of seafood! Being a vegetarian, though, I do not partake of this beachside staple (so please folks, stop offering me fish when I say I’m a vegetarian). What’s a vegetarian to do when she’s in seafood utopia, especially in an area well-known for crabs? Let’s find out!

Beautiful beach on Assateague Island. In addition to food photos, you're going to get some beach shots in this post

When one is vacationing in Maryland, especially near the Chesapeake Bay, one can expect to see and hear about crabs wherever you go. I must’ve driven by at least twenty roadside stands that said they had the best crabs in the area. While I support local food and roadside farmer’s markets, I wasn’t going to be partaking in this particular delicacy (even when I ate meat, I wasn’t the biggest fan of crab – or any seafood, really). But especially since I was traveling with two omnivores, I knew a crab shack was in my future. We ended up choosing The Assateague Crab House, a small restaurant located just outside of Assateague Island.

Whatever your position on crab/seafood, I think we can all agree that the decor of this place is pretty damn awesome

Naturally, the menu consisted largely of seafood; however, there were vegetarian options to be found amongst the side dishes, many of which can be made into a meal! Your best bet, especially if you’re a vegan, would likely be the baked potato. It’s considered a side and only costs $2. Unfortunately though it’s only available after 4 PM; so you might need to be a little more creative for lunch. Their sides also include apple sauce and an ear of corn, also about $2 each. The ear of corn I had with my meal was very tasty and, I’m certain, local; since the only thing I saw more of than signs for crab were corn fields. It also tasted like it was just picked; and it wasn’t drowning in butter or salt, which was good (I like a taste of seasonings, not an avalanche).

Assateague Crab House also offers some veg-friendly appetizers. We ordered a basket of broccoli bites for the table, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. I was expecting nugget balls of pureed broccoli and possibly cheese, but what we got was whole pieces of broccoli fried in batter, almost like the South’s answer to tempura; or perhaps a hush puppy with broccoli inside. While still not the healthiest thing in the world, it was very tasty and I could tell that the broccoli was fresh before it met the fryer. If you want something kinda greasy and very good, give them a try!

They taste great on their own, but if you're not a vegan, they also come with ranch dip on the side

For my main entree I had a simple grilled cheese sandwich. As a note, a grilled cheese is NOT on their menu – they were kind enough to make one for me when I asked. So, it might be worth asking them to make a vegetable sandwich or other vegan/vegetarian sandwich if you go – they’re very accommodating! It can never hurt to at least ask!

So vegetarians, when you are in seafood country, fear not – you can definitely get some tasty vegetables and have a delicious meal, even if you go to a crab shack! I definitely recommend Assateague Crab House if you’re in Ocean City. It’s a nice place to stop for food before visiting the beach, trails, and wild ponies on Assateague Island!

Yup, wild ponies! Why aren't you packing your bags for Assateague right now?

Corn Meal Waffles with Fruit

Breakfast is served!

Corn Meal Waffles with Fruit

Did you know that corn meal is a whole grain? Now, I’m not secretly an advocate for Big Corn – high fructose corn syrup needs to die in a fire, and corn products show up way too much in processed foods and snacks. However, the closer to the source corn is, the more I approve – my general rule of thumb for any whole foods! While corn meal is not exactly at the source, it is still considered a whole grain and definitely adds a boost to a bread-y entree like waffles (or muffins).

To start, I first measured out some almond milk and whisked in some apple cider vinegar, which, as mentioned in my previous corn muffin recipe, creates buttermilk. Just let this sit until ready to use. I then sifted together a blend of corn meal, corn flour, and whole wheat flour, along with baking powder, salt, and cracked black pepper in a medium bowl. Black pepper, you say? Yes, I say! I love the combo of corn and black pepper; and the addition of this spice adds a nice zing to these waffles, one that’s especially nice when paired with the fruit!

See the cracked black pepper flakes? They signal where the goodness is

I then added the buttermilk and a bit of maple syrup to the dry ingredients, mixing until smooth. Then, it’s waffle-making time!

I have a Cuisinart waffle iron, which has numerical settings of 1 through 5 in terms of heat adjustment. When making these waffles, I cooked them on “3.” I’m not sure what your waffle iron is like, but I suggest cooking these on a medium heat. When pouring, pour enough batter so that it’s about the size of a small coaster. You could probably use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop and pour, but I just poured directly from the bowl. This size created a nicely-sized, smaller waffle; and the whole recipe made about four.

But what’s a waffle without a topping? I decided to eschew (more) maple syrup in favor of fruit – always a wise choice! I defrosted some frozen strawberries as well as some frozen blueberries and raspberries; using frozen helps give them more of a compote texture without all the heavy syrup. However, you can also use fresh fruit! I then added the tiniest sprinkle of powdered sugar, just to sweeten it up a little more; but again, this is optional.

These waffles are great for a weekend brunch, or even a weekday breakfast when you have time to make a little something nice for yourself. Dig in!

Corn Meal Waffles with Fruit (Serves 2-4)

3/4 cup nondairy milk

3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup corn meal

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

2 TB corn flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

Salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

1 TB pure maple syrup or agave nectar

Whisk the nondairy milk and apple cider vinegar together in a measuring cup. Set aside and allow to curdle.

Sift together the corn meal, corn flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and cracked black pepper. Add the milk and maple syrup, then mix until smooth.

Cook waffles according to your waffle iron’s instructions on medium heat. Serve with fruit and powdered sugar.

Yellow Zucchini Corn Muffins

It’s easier to get your vegetables when they’re inside a muffin!

Yellow Zucchini Corn Muffins

Last week I bought yellow zucchini at the Farmer’s Market, a variety I’ve never had before. The seller described the zucchini as having a “buttery flavor.” Well, my Southern side got inspired and decided to try mixing this zucchini into some vegan corn muffins!

To start, I measured out some almond milk and added a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, whisking both together in the measuring cup. This will give you vegan buttermilk! I’m not going to make a corn muffin without buttermilk; that’s crazy talk. Anyway, I always do this step first because it gives the milk a little time to curdle before I add it to the batter. I then grated the zucchini with a microplaner. This allows the zucchini to be very fine and therefore melds more smoothly with the muffin. I grated about one medium yellow zucchini, which totaled about 1 cup.

A bowl of grated zucchini sunshine!

I then prepared my corn muffin batter as normal. I always sift in the dry ingredients first, but then usually just put the liquids in with the dry (as opposed to mixing them  in a separate bowl first) and mix everything together, depending on the recipe. You can use this technique with these corn muffins; just be sure not to overmix! Once the batter is nice and smooth, you then fold in the zucchini and some corn kernels for extra oomph. Then you bake these bad boys for about 25 minutes, then boom! Vegetables for breakfast – who knew?

These muffins are lightly sweetened with some agave nectar, so they flirt with savory as opposed to being a super sweet corn muffin (these aren’t Jiffy cakes). The zucchini adds a nice golden color and yes, a light buttery flavor to these muffins. Definitely give them a try!

Yellow Zucchini Corn Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

1 cup nondairy milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup corn meal

1/2 cup corn flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup agave nectar

1 cup grated yellow zucchini

1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernals

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a measuring cup, whisk together milk and vinegar. Set aside to curdle.

In a large bowl, sift together flours, corn meal, baking powder, and salt. Add the liquid ingredients (including the milk) and stir well. Fold in the zucchini and corn kernels.

Fill paper liners about 3/4 full. Bake muffins for 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Serve warm, or allow to cool and reheat later.

Black Eyed Pea Cutlets with Smoky Mushrooms & Dandelion Greens, and Roasted Corn

Who says vegetarians can’t have good cutlets?

Black Eyed Pea Cutlets with Smoky Dandelion Greens/Mushrooms and Roasted Corn

Many times when vegetarians think of a cutlet, they think of a mock frozen cutlet made from textured vegetable protein or another combo of highly processed ingredients. However, thanks to Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Veganomicon, you can quickly make delicious cutlets highly from whole ingredients that are satisfying, hearty, and tasty!

In the book, the recipe is actually for Chickpea Cutlets. I did not have any chickpeas prepared, but I did have some black eyed peas on hand. So, I tried the recipe with these beans, and I thought they tasted great. I’ve also made these cutlets with black beans and gotten similarly tasty results. Eventually though I will make them with chickpeas!

You start by mashing the beans in a large bowl with olive oil until no whole beans are left. As you can see in the photo, I missed a bean or two. This won’t hurt the cutlets in terms of flavor but you’ll want the beans to be at least 99% mashed or else you’ll have problems shaping. You then add the rest of the main foundation: vital wheat gluten (used to make seitan) and bread crumbs. I never buy pre-made bread crumbs, but rather lightly toast one or two slices of bread, and then run them through the blender or mini food processor. Instant crumbs! You then finish up by adding minced garlic, water, soy sauce (I used Bragg’s liquid aminos), dried thyme, paprika, and dried rubbed sage. The book also calls for lemon zest, but I didn’t have a lemon and so left this out; the result was still tasty. You then combine the ingredients by folding a bit, then kneading for a few minutes until gluten threads form and the dough becomes kind of stretchy and pliable – basically, it shouldn’t be falling apart when you fold it over to knead.

Cutlet dough with gluten threads

Once you’re done kneading, you divide the dough into four equal parts, then pat each part into a flat, rectangular cutlet. It’s stretchy so don’t be afraid to really flatten and pull it out! You can always reshape the cutlet if it tears. You then lay the cutlets on a lightly oiled baking sheet, spray the tops with a little more oil, then bake at 375 F for twenty minutes. After 20 minutes, you flip the cutlets and bake for 8-10 minutes more. Wammy! Four tasty bean cutlets made in under an hour, and which freeze really well for future dinners!

With so much baking time, it is really easy to prepare sides while these cook, meaning your whole meal can be ready in under an hour. To start, I placed an ear of corn in the oven with the cutlets after about five minutes of the first round of cutlet cooking, so that the corn could roast for about twenty-five minutes. However, no cutlet dinner is complete without a side of greens! I decided to cook up some more dandelion greens, along with some baby portobellos for added heartiness. Lots of vegetables in this dinner – never a bad thing!

To prepare this side, I filled a skillet with about an inch of water and heated it on high, bringing the water to a rolling boil. I then added the greens and mushrooms, along with a teaspoon of liquid smoke to give it a nice smoky flavor (you may want to add more if you want it to taste really smoky). The veggies all quickly reduced in about five minutes, so you can cook this during the second round of cutlet baking.

Reduced smoky greens and mushrooms

When drained and ready to serve, you can add some seasonings to the greens and mushrooms. Salt and pepper works well, and I used seasoning salt, which added a nice multitude of flavors. I only gave it a few shakes though, so the spices wouldn’t overpower the veggies.

This is a nice Southern-style meal that’s hearty without gorging one’s stomach. It’s perfect for an outdoor summer dinner, or even in your livingroom! In the past I’ve also served these cutlets with mashed cauliflower, which makes for a great combo; and they also go well in a big sandwich with ketchup, mustard, tomato, and greens. Definitely give them a try!

Steamy greens fresh off the skillet!

Bowl o’ Happiness (Veggie and Grain Bowl)

How about some happiness for dinner?

Bowl o' Happiness

Having spent four years cooking in the dorm and several years cooking in a small kitchen, you learn to embrace the skillet meal. I love stir-fry’s because you can cook everything together, you use relatively-little space, and it cooks vegetables to a nice bite which neither steaming nor boiling can hold a candle too. Plus, you can eat everything in one bowl!

While this recipe/incarnation uses quinoa and specific veggies, it’s really a versatile recipe and can be made with whatever grains and vegetables you prefer. Go crazy! This could almost be called Kitchen Sink Stir-Fry but I like Bowl o’ Happiness better because a) it’s more fun to say, and b) it’s true! All those veggies and whole grains cooked in healthy oils and lightly-seasoned? How can you not be smiling with every bite?

Veggies, glorious veggies!

First off, I cooked up some quinoa, which took about ten minutes since I only prepared a single serving. The recipe is even faster and uses less kitchenware if you use pre-baked quinoa. Tip: I usually keep a tupperware of pre-made brown rice or wheat berries in the fridge since these take longer to cook, and don’t go bad super-quickly (but they can go bad after awhile! Originally this meal was gonna have brown rice but the small amount I had left was in the fridge just a little too long). But quinoa is fast-cooking and doesn’t necessarily need to be pre-made; you can chop veggies and prep your other ingredients while it cooks!

To start the stir-fry, I heated a blend of olive and toasted sesame oils in a skillet on medium, then sauteed some onion and garlic for about a minute or two, until the onions started to become translucent. I then added some frozen spinach (which I thawed under running water) and sliced baby portobello mushrooms.

I added the mushrooms and spinach first because both have a pretty high water content and I wanted to let the water steam out some and allow the mushrooms to reduce in size before adding the other veggies. This helps the rest of the veggies stay more crisp and prevents any seasonings from washing off in the water which is coming from the spinach and especially the mushrooms. However, you don’t have to have the water completely gone before adding the rest of the ingredients, just mostly gone. You don’t have to do much stirring here, so this is a good time to do some dishes or prep more veggies if need be.

This is how the mushrooms looked right when I added the other ingredients, just as a guide/suggestion.

Finally, I added everything else – the quinoa, black-eyed peas (like the quinoa, the choice of bean is not limited to one type), carrots, asparagus, frozen peas, and frozen corn. Mm mm, what a colorful skillet! I sauteed the veggies for awhile, then added a generous drizzle of Bragg’s liquid aminos, a lower-sodium sub for soy sauce (but you can use soy sauce if you like, or even just salt). After stirring in the Bragg’s, I allowed the mixture to cook without stirring for a bit, to give them a chance to heat up before tossing them around. And then it was done! This is a nice, simple stir-fry that doesn’t use a lot of spices or sauces, so it gives the veggies a chance to stand out on their own. Besides, sesame oil has such a great flavor on its own, you really don’t need much else.

Bowl o’ Happiness (Veggie + Grain Bowl) (Serves 2, or 1 if you’re famished)

1/4 cup dry quinoa + 1/2 cup water (or 1/2 cup prepared quinoa or other grain)

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 large clove of garlic, diced

2-3 TB diced yellow onion

1/2 cup frozen spinach, slightly thawed

3-4 baby portobellos, sliced

1 medium carrot, chopped

3 spears asparagus, chopped

1/3 cup frozen peas, slightly thawed under running water

1/4 cup frozen corn kernels, slightly thawed

Bragg’s liquid aminos, to taste

In a small sauce pan, bring the quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa has sprouted (when the swirly white part is visible on the grain).

In a medium or large skillet, heat oils on medium, then add the garlic and onion, sauteeing for a minute or two until the onions start to become translucent. Add the spinach and mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the water from the spinach and mushrooms has reduced greatly and the mushrooms have started to shrink (entirely is not necessary). Add the quinoa, beans, carrot, asparagus, peas, and corn, stirring to incorporate. Cook for about a minute, then add the Bragg’s, stirring it into the veggies and quinoa. Cook for about five minutes more, stirring occasionally. Serve hot in your favorite bowl.

Bourbon BBQ Tofu with Chili-Lime Roasted Corn and Spinach

It’s getting warm out, which sets off my cravings for Southern-style food!

I lived in North Carolina for eight years before moving to DC, and I learned quickly that a warm, sticky day was always made better by roasted corn, cooked greens, and a warm, seasoned protein. While I wasn’t much for pulled BBQ or BBQ chicken even before I went veg, I strangely developed a liking for barbecue after giving up meat. Maybe it was the chicken and pork I disliked as opposed to the sauce! But all the same, as I walked around downtown DC through what felt more like an early summer day in Carolina, I developed a hankering for some BBQ tofu and grilled corn on the cob.

For the tofu, I used Mark Bittman’s Fast Down-Home Barbeque Sauce from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. This is a really simple recipe that just involves mixing ketchup, wine or water, red wine or rice vinegar, onion, garlic, and chili powder in a small saucepan and heating it on low for 10 minutes. However, I used the Bourbon Barbeque variation, which replaces the wine with bourbon. My bourbon of choice was Jack Daniels, always good in saucy recipes like BBQ sauce or chili.

I also used the Broiled Tofu method which appears in Bittman’s book, and offers instructions on broiling with the BBQ sauce. I didn’t have frozen tofu nor had time to press it, so I improvised with tofu which I patted dry as best I could. This still worked out well but it likely altered my cooking times, so take note. Anyhoo, I cut half a block of tofu into four pieces and broiled them for five minutes, which seemed sufficient for light browning (Bittman’s book does not specify cooking time beyond stating that you shouldn’t have to cook for more than ten minutes).

Broiled tofu, stage one

I then brushed the barbeque sauce on each slab, but just the tops and sides, and broiled for 2 1/2 minutes. Then I took them out, flipped, brushed with more sauce, then broiled one final time for five minutes. Voila! Barbeque tofu that’s great for a summer day.

Now, the sides. I’m a fan of grilled corn on the cob in the husk, but alas, I do not own a grill. However, I found a great recipe for roasting corn in the oven, which helps to replicate the experience. It was as simple as putting the corn in the oven for 30 minutes, then peeling away the husk for some golden goodness. I decided to jazz it up by adding the Chipotle Lime Butter from Vegetarian Times, using Earth Balance margarine in place of butter. I scooped out a tablespoon and added lime juice, chili powder, and cracked black pepper.

Chipotle Lime Butter

When you’re roasting corn and broiling tofu, your tiny kitchen can get rather hot. I took advantage of this and allowed the butter to melt into the seasonings and juice while cooking the other sides. The result was a nice melty spread which I brushed onto the corn after it was done roasting. Yum yum!

The melting and mixing process is best sped along by whisking with a fork

Finally, I kept my second side simple by boiling some frozen spinach with one thinly sliced clove of garlic. Normally I don’t like boiling veggies because they get mushy, but I don’t mind doing so with frozen greens because they tend to be mushy anyway, no matter how you cook them.

The result? A tasty and satisfying Southern-style meal, without the heaviness felt by their non-veg counterparts! In the future I may try roasting the corn with the butter at least part of the time, and also serving up some green beans in place of spinach. I also wouldn’t mind a slice of cornbread or two on the side. But fortunately I have the whole Spring and Summer ahead to experiment!