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Monday, September 3, 2012

Good Deeds Grow In Brooklyn - Community Inspired Vegetarian Menu


Photo: NK
Today, you don't have to look too far to find legions of foodies on the web and on the streets waxing poetic about what they are eating, ate, plan to eat, or cook.



Clearly, I am a major offender.  


In the national conversation, the subject of food and food enjoyment has certainly hit critical mass. I can understand why. Food is amazing.



But with the airwaves and internet so saturated with food chat, it's easy to forget -
we are the lucky ones.

For so many, far too many, food means survival, not entertainment. It is basic sustenance. Hunger is a problem that I have always been passionate about, and in these especially trying economic times, it's even more pervasive. There is no better time to answer the call for help.

Pre-Dinner Snacks - Beet Hummus & Homemade Pickles, NK
Last week, I had the privilege of attending a fundraiser for an incredible community outreach group - the Soup Kitchen at the Greenpoint Reformed Church in North Brooklyn.

The dedicated folks there, with the help of monetary donations and partnerships with local farms and CSAs, provide homemade community dinners for the hungry in the neighborhood as well as groceries and bagged lunches on select days each week.


The volunteers at the Greenpoint Reformed Church do their best to serve tasty meals that are organic when possible, and most importantly, filling and nutritious.

The festive night featured a delicious all-vegetarian menu, live music, and great people - all of which made for an especially spirited fundraiser. To donate your time or money to this wonderful charity, please follow this link: Get Involved!

Church volunteers set up a beautiful dining area, Photo: NK

On the way home, my brain still abuzz with the excitement of the evening, I decided I'd try my hand at a company-worthy all-veggie feast. Check it out below.

Most importantly, the event served as a personal reminder to be grateful and give back, and of how everyday people offering their talents and dedication in unison can make a world of difference in the lives of others.

Vegetarian Menu
Cauliflower Steak with Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Relish
Grey Zucchini Stuffed with Red Quinoa and Graffiti Eggplant
Cocktail: Rye Lemon Ginger Fizz 


Cauliflower Steak with Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Relish
Lightly Adapted From Bon Appetit  
Serves 4 
Ingredients: 
1 large head of Cauliflower
1/2 cup pitted Oil-Cured Black Olives, finely chopped
5 Sun-Dried Tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 1/2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided, plus more
2 Tablespoons Chopped Flat-Leaf Italian Parsley
1 teaspoon fresh Lemon Juice
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
3 whole Garlic Cloves
2 Roma or 3 Plum Tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters

Method: 
Remove leaves and trim stem end of Cauliflower, leaving the core intact. Stand cauliflower core side down on a cutting board. Using a long, sturdy knife, slice Cauliflower into four 1/2 inch "steaks" from center of Cauliflower working outwards (some florets will break loose - reserve them). 

Finely chop enough loose florets to measure about a 1/2 cup. Transfer chopped florets to a small bowl and mix with the Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, 1 Tablespoon of oil, the Parsley and Lemon Juice. Season relish Pepper and add a bit of Salt if needed. 
Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Relish, Photo: NK
Preheat oven to 400. 
Heat 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. 

Working in 2 batches, cook Cauliflower steaks until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side, adding a tablespoon of oil to pan between batches if needed.

Transfer steaks to a large rimmed baking sheet. Reserve skillet. 

In the oven, Roast cauliflower until tender, about 15-17 minutes. 

Meanwhile, return skillet to medium-high heat and add Garlic Cloves and Tomato wedges, cut side down. 

For the Simple Tomato Sauce Base, Photo: NK

Cook until Tomatoes are browned - just a few minutes. Turn Tomatoes over so they are cut side up and transfer the entire skillet to the oven either alongside the Cauliflower pan or on a different rack if need be. Roast the Garlic and Tomato skillet in the oven until both are tender, about 12 minutes. 

Transfer Garlic, Tomatoes, and 1/2 Tablespoon Oil to a blender and purée until smooth. Season the sauce with Salt and Pepper to taste. 

To Serve: Divide Tomato Sauce among plates. Place 1 Cauliflower steak on each plate and spoon the relish over. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Steak with Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Relish, Photo: NK

NK's Grey Zucchini Stuffed with Red Quinoa and Graffiti Eggplant
Serves 4
Ingredients:
Local Graffiti Eggplant (Latham Farms) or other long, thinner Eggplant
Local Grey Zucchini, Photo: NK
1 Cup Prepared Red Quinoa
1 Tablespoon Oil
2 local Grey Zucchini (Pederson Farm), or the shortest, chubbiest Zucchini you can find

Salt and Pepper
1/4 Cup grated Parmigiana Cheese
3/4 Cup prepared Tomato Sauce of your choice or homemade

Chopped Italian Parsley, Optional

Method:
30 minutes ahead, slice the Eggplant into centimeter thick rounds. Salt both sides of the Eggplant generously and lay the slices on paper towel for 20-30 minutes. The moisture and any bitterness from the Eggplant will be drawn out by the Salt. 

Preheat your oven to 375. 

If you haven't already, prepare your Quinoa on the stovetop according to basic package directions and season with a bit of Salt to taste. Set aside when done.
Zucchini Stuffed with Red Quinoa & Eggplant, NK

After the Eggplant has sat for enough time, rinse off the salt and thoroughly pat dry. Cut Eggplant rounds into 1/2 inch cubes. Add 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil to a skillet over medium heat. Cook eggplant on both sides until tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes per side. Don't worry if it browns or chars just a bit. Stir Eggplant cubes into the cooked Quinoa. 

Cut the Zucchini in half lengthwise. Run your knife carefully around the inside edges and gently scoop out the middles with a melon baller or small spoon until the Zucchini is hollow.

To assemble, place Zucchini scooped side up on a baking sheet. Pour in about an 1/8 of cup of Tomato Sauce into the bottom of each Zucchini. Top with Eggplant and Quinoa mixture all the way up to the top and a little bit over if you like. Dot with a Tablespoon of Tomato Sauce and sprinkle with shredded Parmigiana over each Zucchini.

Place baking sheet in the oven and cook Zucchini for about 25 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!

Next up, we have an adult beverage that I created as a nod the delicious "Gold Rush" Cocktail, a concoction of Lemon and Ginger-spiked with Rye, that was served at the event by our gracious hosts.  A quick and easy simple syrup of fresh Ginger and Lemon makes this slightly sweet and refreshing drink the perfect addition to a late summer evening.

NK's Rye Lemon Ginger Fizz
Yield - 1 drink
Ingredients:
1 Ounce Rye - we prefer Bulleit Rye
2 Ounces Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup - recipe follows
Ice
Plain or Lemon/Lime Seltzer
Lemon Wedges and Slices
Method:
Place Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup and in the bottom a short glass tumbler.Top with Rye and stir well. Add Ice and finish with a generous splash of Seltzer. Garnish with a Lemon Wedge and float a Lemon Slice in the glass.
Rye Lemon Ginger Fizz, Photo: NK

*Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup
Recipe from Epicurious
Yield: Makes 1.5 cups
Ingredients:
1 Cup Sugar 
3/4 Cup Water 
1/2 cup finely chopped Peeled Ginger 
3/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice
Method:
Place Water, Sugar and Ginger in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium low heat stirring occasionally until it is reduced to about 1 cup. This will take about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add the Lemon Juice. Stir. Next, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard the solids and then chill the mixture, covered, until ready to use.

Cheers!
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