Tag Archive | "Meatless Monday"

Get Medieval with Mushroom Pie

Mushroom Pie

Ever wonder what people ate in medieval times? You can find a few answers at, a website that features authentic ideas modernized for today’s kitchens.

This recipe for Mushroom Pie seems almost too easy, yet it’s a rewarding meatless entree that’s perfect with a side salad. One note: When I tested the recipe, I didn’t drain the mushrooms as much as I should have. It didn’t affect the flavor or texture, but it left juices at the bottom of the pie plate.

Mushroom Pie

2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
2 cups Swiss cheese, divided use
2 teaspoons Powder Fine (recipe follows)
1 (9-inch) pie crust

Save some cheese to sprinkle over the top.

Sauté mushrooms in small amount of oil to cook the mushrooms and release their water. Drain and cool. Press the juices from the mushrooms.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix mushrooms with 1 1/2 cups of cheese and Powder Fine, and place into the pie crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes until done.

Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Source [Le Ménagier de Paris, J. Hinson (trans.)]: Mushrooms of one night be the best and they be little and red within and closed at the top; and they must be peeled and then washed in hot water and parboiled and if you wish to put them in a pasty add oil, cheese and spice powder.

Item, put them between two dishes on the coals and then add a little salt, cheese and spice powder. They be found at the end of May and June.

Makes 1 pie.

Powder Fine

Powder Fine

“Many medieval recipes call for spice mixtures without detailing the exact spices,” says. “While it is tempting to assume that each particular spice mixture had a consistent recipe, there is evidence of substantial variation for different times, regions, budgets, and cooks. The recipe below is for one of the more commonly called-for spice mixtures. I strongly encourage altering it to suite your own tastes.”

3 tablespoons ginger
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon grains of paradise (see note)

Source [Le Ménagier de Paris, J. Hinson (trans.)]: FINE POWDER of spices. Take an ounce and a drachma of white ginger, a quarter-ounce of hand-picked cinnamon, half a quarter-ounce each of grains and cloves, and a quarter-ounce of rock sugar, and grind to powder.

Note: According to a jar from Silver Cloud Estates, “Grains of Paradise (Aframomum melagueta), also known as Guinea Pepper, is an aromatic seed primarily used in the cooking styles of West and North Africa. It has a flavor similar to black pepper and was once used as a substitute for pepper in Europe.” It has a fruity taste with a light touch of heat and can be ordered online.

Adapted from



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It’s Easy Eating Green Soup

It’s easy eating Green Soup.

Sometimes I just can’t get enough green food in my diet. I love the vibrancy that comes from fresh foods that really have the feeling of being alive. That’s the thought behind this raw soup, which uses plenty of greens all together.

It’s a great starter on a Meatless Monday and it’s refreshing, to boot.

Green Soup

1 English cucumber, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Granny Smith apple or golden delicious apple, cored and chopped
1 zucchini,cut into 1-inch pieces
Juice of 2 key limes or to taste
Parsley leaves, to taste
1/4 serrano pepper (optional)
1 knob ginger, peeled
Salt, to taste
Water, as needed

In a blender or food processor, liquify cucumber, apple and zucchini, adding lime juice, parsley leaves, pepper, if using, ginger and salt. If the blend is too thick, thin with a little water. Garnish with lime or parsley leaves, if desired.

Makes 2 servings.

From John Griffin


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Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Sherry and Toasted Almonds

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Sherry and Toasted Almonds

Sometimes, a recipe jumps off the page and practically begs you to make it. Such was the case with celebrity chef Jeffrey Saad’s soup that matches the winning flavors of red bell pepper, sherry and almonds.

“Sherry and almonds are a classic wine and food pairing,” the chef writes in “Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders” (Ballantine Books, $22). “By reducing the sherry down with the toasted almonds, the flavor in this soup becomes intriguingly complex. The sherry adds a unique  woody, aged flavor that balances brilliantly with the almonds, while the paprika accentuates the bell pepper flavor, creating a velvety puréed delight.”

But I also wanted to tweak the recipe slightly. I knew I could make it vegan simply by substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock he called for, which makes it great for a Meatless Monday, an appetizer or even a main course with a salad. He also called for Marcona almonds, but skinned, slivered versions aren’t readily available  in San Antonio. You could pulse Marcona almonds in a food processor to break them down slightly, if you can only find them whole.

As for the texture, I found myself doing a mixture of the techniques he mentions. I put two-thirds of the soup in the blender and processed it down, while leaving just enough alone to give it a rustic crunch.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Sherry and Toasted Almonds

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup skinless slivered almonds, Marcona preferred
1 cup dry sherry
1 cup tomato purée or chopped canned tomatoes
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Let the pepper, shallots and almonds turn golden.

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the red bell pepper, shallots and almonds. Keep an eye on the heat and stir frequently to get a golden color without burning. Sauté until evenly golden, about 5  minutes.

Add the sherry and simmer until fully absorbed. Add the tomato purée, stock, paprika and salt.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool. Transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until smooth, or keep the soup chunky if you like the texture. Strain the puréed soup if you want  it silky smooth.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the parsley.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from “Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders”

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Pan-Grilled Eggplant and Tomatoes

Eggplant and tomatoes, a classic twosome.

Meatless Mondays is a good idea – and while we don’t observe it religiously, we do have meatless meals throughout the week. The two best things about this candidate for a MM is that it is hearty, tastes good, and can easily assume the role of main dish or side.  I like to use the long, skinny Japanese eggplants because the skins are tender enough that you don’t have to peel them. If you want, though, use a large eggplant and cut it into slices. To make it a main dish serve over rice or a grain pilaf, or toss with  hot spaghetti and top with Parmesan cheese.

Pan-Grilled Eggplant and Tomatoes

2 Japanese eggplants, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal, about 1/2-inch thick, or 1 large eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil, more if needed
Pepper to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper, optional
1/2 yellow onion, peeled, sliced and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, sliced thinly and diced
3 large cloves garlic, peeled, sliced thin
1 7-ounce can tomato sauce
1 10-ounce can chopped or pureed tomatoes
1 teaspoon mixed (dried) Italian herbs or 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh
1/4 cup dry white wine OR 2 tablespoons vodka
Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving

Prepare the eggplant slices and brush them with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and cayenne (to taste, if using). Put remaining oil into large, nonstick skillet and warm it up to medium-high heat. Put in the slices of eggplant, as many as will fit, and sear them well on both sides until they are lightly browned. Eggplant wants to absorb just about as much oil as you want to put in the pan, so add a little more if needed. Take the browned slices, which will be soft, out of the pan and set aside. When you have finished all of the slices of eggplant, add a little more olive oil, if needed, and put in the onion, garlic and red bell pepper. Cook these until they are softened, being careful to not brown or burn the garlic. Add the tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes (if you have a can of whole, peeled tomatoes, put them into a bowl and work them with your fingers to make a rough puree, or pulse a few times in a food processor.)

Bring the tomatoes to a simmer, add the herbs and wine or vodka and season to taste.  Let it reduce until it thickens somewhat. You want it to not be watery. Put in the eggplant and let the mixture reduce another 10 minutes or so. Serve as it is or use it as a sauce for rice or spaghetti.

Makes 6 or more servings.

From Bonnie Walker


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