Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mushroom Soup with Kale and Potato (page 118)

When we were choosing the recipes to prepare last week we tried to pick a traditional menu with a soup starter, protein and veg. Since it is still so could outside the mushroom and kale soup sounded good to us. As usual we made the soup our own by changing the ingredients and adding things that weren’t in the original recipe.

In the original recipe the author calls for 4 or 5 ounces of kale. Needless to say the smallest bundles are larger than that at the grocery store. We bought a bundle that contained about 12 stems (approximately a pound) and used the entire thing. Additionally our store didn’t have lacinato kale so we used the standard kale we all have at the grocery store. We added dried mushrooms for a bigger mushroom flavor. White wine, marmite and red pepper flakes were also added for complexity of flavor.

As with most of the recipes in the book the author likes to cook things separately and combine them before serving. This does lead to not overcooking specific components but is not how I normally make soup.  Here is what we did.

Kale and Mushroom Soup
Make 8 servings

Garlic puree ingredients:

10 cloves garlic
½ cup water or white wine


Put 10 cloves of garlic in small amount of water and simmer until soft. If pressed for time, microwave garlic until soft. Finely mince cooked garlic.

Mushroom stock ingredients:

1 cup dried mixed mushrooms
2 cups water


Put ingredients in saucepan and simmer until rehydrated, about 30 minutes. Add water if too much evaporates during cooking.

Soup ingredients:

1 cup diced carrots (5 small carrots or 2 large carrots)
1 cup diced leeks
1 cup diced onion
1½ cup filtered water
1 small bunch kale (6 cups)
8 ounces chopped fresh mushrooms (we used button mushrooms but others such as cremini will work)
1 cup dry white wine (like pinot grigio)
3 cloves garlic finely minced
Water necessary to cover vegetables
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon marmite
pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste
extra virgin olive oil, for serving
red wine vinegar, for serving


Put carrots, leeks, onion and pinch of salt in stockpot over medium heat with small amount of water. Cook very slowly until vegetables are soft. While these vegetables are simmering, clean kale, chop mushrooms and garlic .Add kale, mushrooms to soup. Strain mushroom stock and add to soup. Chop re-hydrated mushrooms and add to soup. Add wine. Add enough additional filtered water to cover vegetables. Finely mince 3 cloves garlic and let stand for 10 minutes. Then add garlic to soup. Add marmite. Add additional finely minced cooked garlic (10 cloves from above).  Simmer to allow the flavors to marry.

Potato ingredients:

3 cups large diced Yukon potatoes (leave skin on if organic)
3-4 sprigs thyme
10 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
pinch salt


In separate saucepan, add diced potatoes and add seasonings. Cook until tender. Move to a wire strainer to cool completely.

To serve:

Place some cooked potatoes in bottom of each soup bowl. Add soup. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Nutritional Information (doesn’t include olive oil and vinegar garnish):

Amount Per Serving
Calories -163.15
Calories From Fat (4%)- 5.91
Total Fat - 0.7g
Saturated Fat - 0.13g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 114.95mg
Potassium - 973.11mg
Total Carbohydrates - 31.99g
Fiber - 4.36g
Sugar - 2.85g
Protein - 5.65g


If you like kale and mushrooms this is a nice soup. Not surprisingly the ladies enjoyed this soup more than the men. I think this had to do with the lightness of the soup. I would definitely make this soup again. It is a nice fall and winter soup. While I don’t normally cook the potatoes separately for soup I can see the logic to doing this. By cooking the potatoes separately they retained their individual character and didn’t turn to mush. This soup is very light without a little drizzle of oil on top for serving. Unless you have eliminated added fat from your diet I suggest the oil for serving.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day of Cooking 01.29.10

It took us a couple of weeks but we are back to cooking from Ad Hoc at Home. Today’s dishes were:

• Fig Stuffed Pork, which became seitan (page 69)

• Green Bean, Potato, Walnut and Fig Salad (page 158)

• Mushroom Soup with Kale and Potato (page118)

We were in the mood for fig and potato. Isn’t it obvious? We met at approximately 10:30 this morning, ran to the grocery store and then started cooking. We were finished cooking and had everything cleaned by a little after 4 pm. During this time we also had lunch, drank tea, chatted and even did a little relaxing while things were simmering or baking. While we did spend a lot of time together we cooked at a very relaxing pace.

Here is our grocery and task list:

Fig Stuffed Seitan:

10 ounces gluten
Bread crumbs – at least 2 cups
Onion, garlic, seasonings
1 fennel bulb
1 cup fig jam (figs, balsamic)

Green Bean Salad:

1 ½ lb green beans
1 lb potatoes fingerling
1 cup walnuts
3 radishes
¼ cup shallot
Sherry vinegarette
2 T chives
4 figs
Lemon juice

Mushroom Soup:

2 carrots
1 leek
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch kale
1 ½ lb potatoes
½ lb mushrooms
½ cup shallot
1 T thyme
8 cups mushroom stock
6 T garlic
Red wine vinegar

Cooking order:

1. fig jam for seitan
2. soup
3. seitan
4. salad

My husband and I had these dishes for dinner tonight. He decided the seitan was his favorite. Additionally he had a good idea of adding chestnuts to the stuffing. That would be good, too bad we didn’t think of it today.

I should have at least one recipe posted tomorrow. We are supposed to get snow tomorrow, so we could be spending the day inside, warm and cozy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pan Roasted Chicken with Sweet Sausage and Peppers (page 20)

For our main course we made a vegan version of pan roasted chicken and sausage with peppers. This dish was a little more involved than the others since we were making two types of seitan and the pepper dish in addition to combining components and cooking them.

We started by making the pepper dish since it took the longest, then we made the cutlets and seitan sausage. When they were all finished we combined the ingredients and baked the dish while we ate the first course (cauliflower soup).

I will start with the recipe for the Peppers Rustica, which was given separately in the book.

Peppers Rustica
Makes approximately 6 cups


12 red peppers, halved stems and seeds removed
¼ cup fresh tomato, finely diced
½ small red onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1 1/3 cups vegetable stock
dash of cayenne
¾ teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced (for garnish - optional)


Clean red peppers and cut in half. Place on baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes until skins are charred. After peppers are done, wrap in foil and let sit for about 15 minutes to steam. Remove pepper from foil and peel away the skin. Pull peppers into strips about ¼” wide. Put peppers in large saucepan.

While peppers are roasting, dice tomato, garlic and red onion. Let garlic rest for 10 minutes before heating so the allicin can develop. Put ingredients in pan and water sauté until softened. Add vegetable stock and cook very slowly until very soft. Add spices to mixture.

Add the pepper strips to the onion and tomato mixture and heat through.

Seitan Cutlets and Sausages
Makes 8 cutlets and 8 sausages

Ingredients for both the chicken and sausage seitan:

1 medium sized onion diced
3 cloves garlic
4 cups filtered water
pinch salt

Ingredients for Seitan Sausages only:

2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs
2 teaspoon wet hots
2 cups vital wheat gluten
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon ketchup

Ingredients for Seitan Cutlets only:

2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fennel seed
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon rosemary
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder


Make breadcrumbs in food processor. Place 2 cups each of two mixing bowls (half for cutlets and half for sausages).

Dice an onion and mince garlic. Place in pan to water sauté. When ingredients are soft, place in blender with enough water to make 4 cups of liquid and blend until pureed. Put 2 cups of the wet ingredients in each bowl with breadcrumbs.

Add the seasoning mixture (from above) to the bowl for the cutlets. Allow the breadcrumbs to absorb the liquid for 5 to 10 minutes before adding the gluten.

In a separate bowl add the seasoning for the sausages. Allow that bread to absorb the liquid for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add 2 cups of vital wheat gluten to each bowl.

Chicken cutlets: Divide chicken seitan into 8 portions and pat into a cutlet shape. Brown chicken cutlets in a lightly oiled cast iron skillet. Place in roasting pan with ½ cup of water and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Take cutlets out of the oven, turn the pan around (to ensure even cooking) add an additional ½ cup water and bake another 20 minutes.

Sausages: Cut seitan into 8 pieces and roll into sausage shape. Wrap in foil and place in pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.

Allow the cutlets and sausages to cool before slicing them into bite size pieces. We sliced the cutlet into thin strips as though we were making Chinese food. The sausages were sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds.

Place the seitan in a roasting pan and top with peppers rustica. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes to heat everything through.

Serve hot topped with a little fresh parsley (optional).

Nutritional Information (assumes 12 servings):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 300.37
Calories From Fat (8%) - 22.59
Total Fat - 2.52g
Saturated Fat- 0.44g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 210.25mg
Potassium - 487.28mg
Total Carbohydrates - 32.13g
Fiber - 6.26g
Sugar- 9.09g
Protein - 37.81g


This was our version of a very traditional meat meal. By combining two different forms of seitan (the cutlet and sausage) we were able to achieve different textures and flavors in the dish. By combining the seitan and peppers at the end the seitan retained its chewy meat-like texture.

All four of us enjoyed this recipe. It is a good source of vegetarian protein and a nice dish for anyone that is new vegetarianism since it is so similar to a standard American meal.

Final Thoughts:

The first thing we learned from our first marathon cooking session using the book is that the author has a much larger idea of serving sizes than we do. Next time we are going to cut the servings down to a more manageable amount.

We liked the presentation of his dishes but found that some of the dishes required steps that we aren’t certain are necessary (or workable during a weeknight).

We spent $45 dollars for all the food we cooked this time which we both thought was fabulous.  It is amazing how little it costs to feed a family when you makes things from scratch.

Overall we thought the first cooking session went well and we are planning our next one for later this week. We are finalizing the menu now. As soon as we hammer out the details I will post the recipes we will be making and the grocery list.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Torn Croutons and Beet Chips (page 127)

The soup was the second dish we made this week since we knew it would be fine over a very low flame staying warm while we made the main dish. We made a few changes to this recipe some were intentionally and one was because we had a few too many things going while plating and something got forgotten. However in the end even the unintentional omission turned out to be a good thing.

In addition to removing the animal products from this dish (butter, milk and cream) we also reduced the fat dramatically. The original soup base called for much more fat that we used and the croutons and beets chips were cooked in fat. Additionally the recipe wanted tiny cauliflower florets for in the soup. We inadvertently forgot those when plating. However I did add them to the soup we had the day for lunch. Both the hubby and I decided we preferred the look and texture of the soup without the small cauliflower florets so I have removed them from the recipe completely.

Other changes we made included removing the onion and replacing it with more leek. It made the soup a nice light green, which we thought was quite pretty. I also think it probably resulted in a more mild “onion” flavor to the final dish.

I was surprised by how well baking the beet chips worked. We baked them on parchment paper because we weren’t certain if they would stain the silpat or not. To coat them evenly will oil we sprayed them with olive oil and then used a pastry brush to evenly coat the top of the beet slices. My friend Sue called me today to tell me that John (her husband) liked the beet chips. While this doesn’t sound like any big news, John doesn’t like beets. So this was a much bigger deal than you realize. Sue will be picking up so beets to make more chips next week.

The torn croutons were also a great addition to the soup. In the past I had always cut the bread into uniform cubes, but I loved the freeform torn shapes. Not only were they pretty but they were quicker. We sprayed these with a little olive oil before baking too.

Overall I came away with a few ideas that I will be using again in the future (the beet chips and torn croutons). This is a great recipe that tastes richer than it actually is. Here is the soup we had for our first course on Wednesday.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Torn Croutons and Beet Chips
Makes 8 servings of approximately 2 cups each


2 heads cauliflower
1 leek (white and light green only), cleaned thoroughly and chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon salt, to taste
¼ teaspoon white pepper, to taste
1 cup water
4 cups soymilk (reserve ¼ cup to make a slurry to thicken soup), or any non-dairy milk
2 cups filtered water
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 slices whole wheat bread, torn in free form small pieces to make croutons, for garnish.
1 beet, cleaned and trimmed and thinly sliced on a mandoline (1 adjustment thicker than the thinnest setting)
½ teaspoon of oil (use half for croutons and half for beet chips)


Break cauliflower into florets. Put olive oil in a heavy bottom soup pan. Add leeks, curry powder, salt and pepper and cauliflower and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add 1 cup water and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid slightly ajar. Add soymilk and water and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Place soup in blender or Vitamix (in batches) and blend until smooth. Put soup back in pan, adjusting seasonings. Make a slurry of cornstarch and remaining soymilk. Add to soup and cook until thickened.

To make the torn croutons tear bread into small pieces, placing on baking sheet spray with a little olive oil and bake at 375 degrees until browned and crunchy, about 6 minutes.

To make the beet chip slice 1 medium sized beet into very thin slices on mandolin. I did not use the thinnest setting on the mandoline, but one up from that. The slices were very thin but had enough body that they weren’t pliable when raw. Place the beet slices in a single layer on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for about 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn the chips they are very thin and will cook quickly.

To serve place, the cauliflower soup in a shallow bowl and top with the torn croutons. Then place a few beets chips on top the croutons. If you want to take this over the top you can drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on the soup before serving.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories  191.03
Calories From Fat (22%) - 41.82

Total Fat - 4.7g
Saturated Fat - 0.63g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 338.64mg
Potassium - 1077.98mg
Total Carbohydrates - 30.12g
Fiber - 8.9g
Sugar - 13.18g
Protein - 10.87g


This was my husband’s favorite dish from Wednesday. When I asked him why it was the beet chips. He loves beets so I should have guessed that would make this his favorite. I thought it was a gorgeous soup, definitely worthy of entertaining.

Each serving of this soup contains approximately 110mg of calcium, 2.6mg of iron, 205mg of folate, 55mg of vitamin K, 210mg of phosphorus, 85mg of magnesium, and 10mcg of selenium.

This was another successful experiment veganizing “At Hoc at Home”. We all enjoyed this soup. If you are looking for something reasonably simple that will wow your in-laws or friends this is a recipe worth trying.

Unrelated note:

This will be my last post for today. We are meeting our friend Louis for dinner and I need to make myself presentable. I will try to get the final recipe we made on Wednesday posted tomorrow.

Have a great evening!

Broccolini Salad (page 144)

The first recipe we made from the book was the broccolini salad (sort of). We had to change it, quite a bit actually. The original recipe called for all broccolini. When we got to the store a tiny bunch of broccoli was almost $3 dollars. Since we didn’t want to buy $20 dollars worth of broccolini we decided to turn the salad into a three-broccoli salad by using broccolini, broccoli rabe and long stemmed broccoli. We thought that by combining the three vegetables we would get a nice flavor and textural combination it worked really well. Our salad was mostly broccoli rabe and broccoli with a little broccolini, but we all liked it.

We also used far less olive oil than the recipe. If you want to see the original sherry vinaigrette it is found on page 179 of the book. Since we wanted to keep as much of the vitamins in the vegetables as possible we lightly blanched the vegetables to retain as much nutrition as we could. Additionally we used the black oil cured olives in this recipe to add as much flavor as possible. Here is the three-broccoli salad we made on Wednesday.

Three Broccoli Salad in Sherry Vinaigrette with Red Onions, Olives and Crimini Mushrooms
Serves 12


1 bunch long stemmed broccoli (2.75 pounds), cut into long thin spears
1 bunch broccoli rabe (about 1 lb), cut into long thin bundles
1 bunch broccolini (about 1 lb), cut into long thin bundles
½ small red onion sliced paper-thin (use mandoline if possible)
4 ounces crimini mushrooms sliced paper-thin (use mandoline if possible)
1 cup oil cured black olives, pits removed and thinly sliced

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt, if necessary


Blanch the broccoli, broccoli rabe, and broccolini individually until just tender. Leave the stalks long as it makes a prettier presentation. Place cooked veggies in an ice water bath and then drain thoroughly when cool.

Mix dressing in bottom of a big bowl and whisk until combined. Put broccoli combination in salad dressing and toss to coat with the dressing. Toss onion, mushrooms and olives with the broccoli mixture. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to marry.

Serve cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 71.59
Calories From Fat (36%) - 26.13

Total Fat - 3.06g
Saturated Fat - 0.42g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 146.56mg
Potassium - 526.48mg
Total Carbohydrates - 9.25g
Fiber - 2.25g
Sugar - 0.54g
Protein - 4.94g


This salad has a remarkably big flavor. I loved the mixture of different vegetables and now would only make it with the three different forms of broccoli. The flavor of this salad definitely improved with age. The color of broccoli did get muddier from the dressing and the olives by day two and three but the flavor was excellent.

Each serving of this salad contains approximately 4,550IU of vitamin A, 115mg of vitamin C, 130mg of calcium, 2.3mg of iron, 130mcg of folate, 110mcg of vitamin K, 120mg of phosphorus, 40mg of magnesium and 6mcg of selenium.

This is salad was my favorite recipe from what we made on Wednesday. I enjoyed them all, but this one was so quick and tasty it stood out to me as something I would make again and again. It would make a perfect picnic salad or something to pack in lunches during the week. If you like broccoli and olives this is a really tasty salad.

Why a Second Blog?

Those of you that read my original blog you know the back-story on this blog. For everyone else I wanted to explain the purpose of this blog.

My friend Sue and I met a few years ago in a weekly cooking class that we both attended. Both of us cooked much more healthy at home than the recipes we were learning (or relearning) in class. We found ourselves discussing how to the take the recipes made in class and making them healthy at home. After doing this for a few years we decided it would be fun to take a cookbook and do the same thing.

After a month ago we went shopping together and choose “Ad Hoc at Home” as our cookbook to veganize and make healthy. What that means is that we won’t be using any unnecessary oil, white flour, white or brown sugar or animal products.

Initially I wasn’t certain how I was going to blog about this since I didn’t think it was appropriate to reproduce Thomas Keller’s recipes. I quickly realized that I was changing the recipes so much they were new recipes. Also I thought about comparing his nutritional stats to my new recipes but decided that wasn’t fair to the original book since he made no reference to health in this book. I will be posting my nutritional information along with my recipes. I will mention in general the things I changed from the original. However if you are interesting in following along at home to see the specific changes we are making you will need to pick up a copy of the book. It really is a lovely book and I am very happy that I had it at home for inspiration.

I choose to place these recipes in a separate blog since the inspiration all came from one place. Normally my recipe inspiration comes from omni dinners I have eaten or made in the past. All the recipes on this blog will be variations of those found in the book “Ad Hoc at Home”. However the specific recipe will all be different from the book as we make them vegan and healthy.

Both Sue and I read the book and choose the first three recipes to get together and make. We decided to start with Pan Roasted Chicken with Sweet Sausage and Peppers (page 20), Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Red Beet Chip (page 127) and Broccolini Salad with Burrata Cheese (page 144). I will be posting a least one of those recipes later today, with the remainder to follow this weekend as I get a few minutes.

Here is both the grocery and to-do list we were working from on Wednesday:

Page 20: Pan Roasted Chicken with Sweet Sausage and Peppers
Page 127: Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Red Beet Chip
Page 144: Broccolini Salad with Burrata Cheese

Grocery List:

For the Pan Roasted Chicken:
20 ounces Vital Wheat Gluten to make Seitan for Chicken and Sausage
4 cups Bread Crumbs for Seitan
1 small bunch Fresh Parsley
12 bell peppers (half red half yellow)
onion, tomato and garlic sofritto (will need a small onion, tomato and a garlic clove or two)
1 1/3 cups veggie stock or water or white wine

For: the Cream of Cauliflower soup:
2 heads of cauliflower (about 4 – 5 pounds)
butter (change and reduce original recipe)
onion, small white or yellow
1 leek
curry powder
4 cups non-dairy milk
cornstarch or arrowroot to thicken the milk to mimic cream
1 beet (for chips)
white vinegar
torn croutons (bread)

For the Broccolini Salad:
2 lbs broccolini (used more
2 large crimini mushrooms (used more)
1/2 red onion
1 cup olives (used oil cured black olives), amount is variable
sherry vinegar
wine vinegar

Items we may need that aren’t on the grocery list:
Olive Oil
Canola Oil

Equipment needed:
Mandoline, for the beet chips, red onions and crimini mushrooms

Things to do:
· sherry vinaigrette (for broccoli salad)
· peppers rustica (for the chicken and peppers dish)
· chicken seitan cutlets (for the chicken and peppers dish)
· sweet Italian seitan sausage (for the chicken and peppers dish)

Now I am going to write up one recipe to get posted today before I need to start getting ready for dinner tonight. We are going out for dinner with our friend Louis this evening. An update on that will be found at my original blog.