Tag Archives: Jack Bishop

Feeling like Carmella Soprano: Baked Ziti with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella

I was first introduced to ziti while watching The Sopranos.

In Season Two Carmella brings an aluminum pan of baked ziti to her daughter Meadow’s dorm room.  I wondered, what in the world is ziti.  I had never heard of it and I recalled that the dish had been mentioned a few times in Season One.  At first I thought it was an Italian dish, which it is, but I found out the name of the dish is based on the pasta shape.  As you all know, something not uncommon in Italian Cuisine.

EPC and I always eat whole wheat pasta, so I was delighted when I went to the Italian grocery store last month and found whole wheat ziti (they had whole wheat orzo and cavatappi too!).  I knew that my fabulous Jack Bishop Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook had a recipe for Baked Ziti with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella, so I decided to pick up a few boxes of ziti and give it a try.

It is had to believe how the shape of pasta can affect the way tastes.  For example, I really dislike whole wheat penne, but quite enjoyed the ziti, and cavatappi is my favourite pasta of all time.  Perhaps it not just texture and shape that affects the taste, but also the appearance.

Regardless what it is about pasta and its shapes, EPC and I enjoy pasta in its various forms about once a week.  This particular dish is a keeper and the quick tomato basil sauce of Bishop’s is a nice departure from canned or bottled sauces.

Baked Ziti with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella

3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons of fresh basil leaves, minced
250 grams of mozzarella cheese, grated
4 cups (450 g) of uncooked whole wheat ziti
1/4 cup of parmesan, freshly grated
Freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Set large pot of water on high heat.
  • Then start the sauce: Heat the oil over medium heat and saute the garlic until lightly browned
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, basil and pepper to taste
  • Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let stand until pasta is ready.
  • Oil a 9X13 glass baking dish and preheat the oven to 400°C
  • When the water is boiling cook the ziti 2 minutes less than suggested.  It will complete cooking in the oven.
  • Stir the ziti into the pot with the tomato sauce and stir to coat
  • Pour half the sauce and pasta mixture into the baking dish.
  • Top with half the mozzarella and half of the parmesan.  Add the remaining pasta and  top with the rest of the cheeses.
  • Bake until the cheese browns – about 20 minutes.

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Tag-team Sunday night supper: Sage Focaccia and Fire-Roasted Black Bean Soup

I usually end up making dinner on Sunday evening because EPC likes to relax in the late afternoon before he heads off to his Sunday evening yoga class.  But this week he decided to make his favourite black bean soup recipe from Toni Fiore’s Totally Vegetarian.

In response I chose to make whole wheat sage focaccia from Jack Bishop’s Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. I had a lot of luck with his whole wheat pizza crust and figured it couldn’t hurt to give his foacaccia bread a try. Afterall, the flecks of fresh sage in the bread would make a great accompaniment to  my husband’s soup.

As always, the soup was delicious.  This was the first time he had tried it with canned fire roasted tomatoes and it did make a difference.

I remember the first time he made this soup – before we had an immersion hand blender – what a mess.  Scooping soup by the cupful into our blender was not the easiest way to blend up the soup, and we lost a considerable amount on the floor.  It certainly made my husband an advocate of our latest kitchen appliance.  If you  like to make soups I really recommend picking up an immersion blender (we got ours at Superstore for about $30.00).  I find even if the soup does not call for pureeing, blending a small amount of the soup gives it a nice thick consistency.

In addition to that first  messy batch of soup,  we followed the recipe by adding the 2-3 jalapenos and the 3 tablespoons of chipotle chili powder it called for.  This made the soup almost inedible!  We now use only one jalapeno and 1 -2 teaspoons of chipotle chili powder.

Since winter has practically arrived in Edmonton (one night last week it went down to -5°C!) I did not mind spending the majority of the afternoon indoors as I waiting for the bread to go through two long rises (1 1/2 to 2 hours each).  It was worth it.  I had never made focaccia before and I am really glad that I did.  Next time I will bake it on a sheet of parchment paper.  Well-oiled or not,  I had a difficult time prying the bread off the pan.  The edges cracked a little and I lost some of the bottom to the pan, but what it lacked in presentation it made up for in taste.

I also found the bread cooked quicker than the 20-25 minutes recommended, so make sure you take a peak in the oven after 15 minutes.

I think I will use the leftover focaccia to serve as a bun for the veggie burgers I am going to make tomorrow night.  So stay tuned!

Sage Focaccia Bread

1 1/3 cups of warm water
2 teaspoon of active dry yeast (I used bread machine yeast and it worked fine)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 scant cups of whole wheat bread flour
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage leaves and about 20-25 whole sage leaves
2 tablespoons of olive oil for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon of coarse sea salt.

  • Combine water, yeast, and oil in a large bowl.
  • Add the flour, salt and sage and stir to mix with a wooden spoon.  Stir until the dough comes together (it will  come away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball)
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes)
  • Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth.  In a warm place let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (I found 1 1/2 hours was sufficient).
  • Oil the bottom a cookie sheet with at least 1 inch deep sides ( I recommend parchment paper instead of oil).  The pan should be about 15 by 10 inches.  Flatten the dough into the pan, spray the top of the dough lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Let the dough rise a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the dough has almost doubled in size (I waited almost 2 hours).
  • Preheat the oven to 425°C.  Before placing the dough in the oven use your finger to dimple the dough at 2 inch intervals.  Place a fresh sage leaf in each dimple, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of coarse sea salt.
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes until golden  brown and remove from the pan to cool.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature

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Toni Fiore’s Black Bean Soup recipe can be found here.  EPC only adds 1 -2 teaspoons of chipotle chili powder and 1 jalapeno.  The soup is too spicy otherwise.

Another winner by Jack Bishop: Tempeh, Spinach and Onion Quesadillas topped with Avocado Chipotle Salsa

I managed to squeeze one last recipe out of Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen before I had to return it to the library.

Once again, the recipe turned out to be delicious. I think my husband might be starting to like Jack Bishop as much as he likes Peter Berley and Lorna Sass (maybe not as much as Lorna Sass – I think she is his favourite cookbook author of all time).

The successes I have had with Jack Bishop‘s recipes have led me to conclude that I will be ordering a copy of this cookbook and his Italian vegetarian cookbook in the not too distant future.  I always (except in very rare occasions) order new cookbooks online. It is considerably cheaper and you are not limited by the often meager bookstore selection.

For any of you that wish to take an in-depth look at Bishop’s interpretation of Italian vegetarian cuisine, a limited preview of this cookbook is available at Google Books.

Guess what!  When I was looking up the link for the book preview I noticed that A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen is featured there as well.

How exciting is that!

Google Books and the local library are two great resources for test-driving cookbooks.  After all, cookbooks are quite expensive and do take up a bit of room, so it is important that they fit the bill and provide interesting and inspiring dishes for you to cook (and eat).

Well, I won’t be cooking too much over the next 10 days.  We are taking some deserved summer holidays.

Until then…

Tempeh, Spinach and Onion Quesadillas with Avocado Chipotle Salsa

1 medium ripe avocado, cubed
1 tablespoon of cilantro, chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce minced, with 1 teaspoon of juice (these are available canned in the Mexican aisle at the grocery store)
2 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
Salt

1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 8 oz package of tempeh, lightly steamed or sautéed until heated through ( I use Green Cuisine smoked tempeh)
2 cups of spinach, packed
4 flour tortillas
Monterey Jack cheese, grated (enough to please)

First, the salsa:

  • In a small bowl combine avocado, cilantro, chipotle chiles and sauce, lime juice and salt.
  • Stir to combine.

Next, the quesadillas:

  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the onions and cook until lightly browned (this will take about 15 minutes)
  • Add the cumin and stir.
  • In the last few minutes of cooking add the tempeh cubes and stir to coat with onions
  • Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  • Lay 1 tortilla in a large skillet and top with cheese, add a thin layer of the tempeh spinach mixture and top with more cheese.
  • Top with a tortilla and cook on medium heat until brown.  Flip, and repeat on the second side.
  • Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • Slice each quesadilla into quarters and top with salsa.

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Want to impress someone? Try Pineapple-Glazed Tofu with Spicy Cucumber Salad.

This has become one of my favourite meals.

It is a wonderful summertime dish.  Cool and refreshing with a little zing!

I picked up Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen from the local library 3 weeks ago and haven’t really had a chance to explore it as much as I would have liked.  It is due in a couple of days and of course there is a hold on it.

Sigh.

We have been so busy over the last couple of weeks that we have been cooking old standbys.  You know how it goes, too strapped for time and energy to try anything new.

Anyway, this was the perfect meal to get me back in the saddle!  (I guess the Calgary Stampede is influencing my choice of words).  No matter.  I can do no wrong after this meal – bad pun or not.

It took over an hour to prepare, because Bishop recommends that you salt, press and drain the sliced and peeled cucumbers for one hour.  Cucumbers are quite watery, so it seemed like the right thing to do.  And what do you know, I had to wipe cucumber juice off the counter a couple of times. I didn’t have any plain rice vinegar, so I substituted sushi vinegar and left out the sugar (sushi vinegar is sweet enough as it is).  It worked just fine.

One more thing.  It may seem like the glaze will never boil down, but then, voila,  you are left with perfectly browned and glazed tofu.

Just wait until you taste it!

Pineapple-Glazed  Tofu with Spicy Cucumber Salad

1 1/2 to 2 long english cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded.
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt (I didn’t have any, so I used pickling salt)
1/2 cup rice vinegar (you can use sushi vinegar and leave out the sugar)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1 small fresh hot red Thai chili
1 heaping tablespoon of cilantro, finely chopped

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound of firm tofu, cut in half and then each half sliced into four slabs and then pressed and blotted dry
2/3 cup of pineapple juice
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
1/4 cup of salted peanuts, finely chopped

Enough brown rice noodles to make you both happy, cooked, rinsed, and tossed with a few drops of oil to prevent sticking.

First the salad:

  • Toss the cucumbers and salt in a colander and apply two sandwich size Ziploc bag full of water to the top to help draining.  Set aside for 1 hour.
  • While the cucumbers are draining, bring the vinegar and sugar to boil over medium heat.  Stir to dissolve the sugar and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup.  This takes about 5 minutes or so.
  • Pour the dressing straight from the stove into a large bowl and add the onion and chili.
  • When the cucumber has finished draining, rinse off the salt and blot dry with paper towels.  Add to the bowl and top with cilantro.
  • Stir well to mix.

Now the tofu:

  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet (I used my cast iron pan).
  • Add the tofu in a single layer and cook until golden brown – about 7 minutes.  Turn the tofu and cook about 5 minutes.
  • Add the pineapple juice, lime juice and a dash of salt.
  • Cook, turning the tofu once until the liquid has evaporated.  This takes about 5 minutes.
  • Spoon enough brown rice noodles for one person on a plate, top with cucumber salad, tofu and garnish with peanuts.
  • We found the dish served two of us, with enough for seconds.

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Crochet-topped kitchen towels and Jack Bishop’s Polenta with Lentils in Tomato Sauce

I am back.

EPC and I were away on holidays and then we both caught a cold.  Not by choice, of course, so perhaps it is more accurate to say the cold caught up with us!  Anyway, there is nothing worse than a summer cold.  So,  although we returned home last week, I didn’t get around to cooking anything blog-worthy until this past weekend.

We had a good time on our holiday. We went to Saskatoon, the “Paris of the Prairies”, and spent our time hanging out with friends and relaxing. I went to the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market where I was able to pick up some handmade crochet-topped kitchen towels and a couple of beautiful aprons. We also cooked up some fresh asparagus that evening on the BBQ – delicious!

If any of you plan on heading to Saskatoon this summer, aside from visiting the farmer’s market, I suggest stopping in at Museo – the coffee shop adjacent to the Medel Art Gallery and Conservatory.  They have wonderful lattes and serve almond butter with their toasted bagels!  The gallery is located along the South Saskatchewan River and is adjacent to the wonderful Meewasin Trail system.   It you keep walking along the trail towards downtown you will come to the Victoria Street Bridge.  Just across this bridge from downtown is Las Palapas restaurant.  Here I had some wonderful pozole soup. The great thing about Las Palapas, other than the food, is that it is located right next to Homestead Ice Cream. They have traditional flavours and some unique ones like Avocado, Roses and Honey, and Dill Pickle (can you believe it?). I stuck with the slightly more traditional Butter Brickle and Dad’s Oatmeal Cookie on top of my cone.

Of course I can’t forget Christie’s Bakery on Saskatoon’s west side (they are opening a second location on Broadway this summer). We picked up a delicious Saskatoon berry pie, some wonderful lemon tarts, and a monstrous loaf of potato bread.

Yes, I certainly ate a lot on our trip! Which in why we stuck to simple hearty meals when we returned.

Now that I got our trip to Saskatoon out my system, onto the Jack Bishop part of the post.

I found out about Jack Bishop from a blog that I love to read: Cook and the Books. In one of her posts she recommended that readers check out his Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen cookbook, which I did, and then I promptly checked out his Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook from the library as well. It was hard to pick a recipe, but I settled on Polenta with Lentils and Tomato Sauce.  It was fantastic, simple to make and very flavourful. As I am sure you can tell by the photo, it is also an impressive meal to serve guests.

Because it was so warm out this past weekend, I broiled the polenta in our toaster oven, which took a little longer than it would have in the oven, but delicious all the same. I think if you were in a rush you could get away with canned lentils and store-bought polenta, but make the recipe as is if you can.

Polenta with Lentils and Tomato Sauce

1 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup green lentils, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
4 medium garlic cloves,  (2 whole and 2 minced)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 celery stalk, peeled and finely diced
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of parsley, minced
Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish

  • Bring 8 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan and add the lentils, bay leaf and 2 whole cloves of garlic.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender – about 25 minutes
  • While the lentils are simmering you can prepare the polenta – see below
  • When the lentils are tender drain and discard the bay leaf and garlic cloves.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion, carrot and celery until tender – about 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the lentils and cook for 2 minutes until the sauce is heated and the flavours have mingled.
  • Stir in the parsley and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Spoon the lentils over 3 polenta triangles, garnish with cheese and serve.

    Polenta:

    • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.
    • When the water comes to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and  lower the heat to medium
    • Slowly whisk the cornmeal into the pot in a steady stream.  This should take about 1 minute.  If you add the cornmeal to quickly it will form lumps.
    • Whisk the cornmeal continuously to prevents lumps and simmer until the polenta starts to thicken – about 1 to 2 minutes.
    • Reduce the heat to low and cook very slowly, stirring frequently for 15 minutes.
    • Pour into a lightly oiled 8 x 12 pan, smooth the top and let cool.
    • You can make this the day before and keep in the fridge covered in plastic wrap.
    • When the polenta has cooled and is firm (about 30 minutes), turn the polenta onto a cutting board and cut into 8 squares.  Cut each square in half to form a triangle.
    • Place on a baking sheet and spray each triangle lightly with oil and broil until lightly browned.  Turn and broil the second side.

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