Tag Archive: vegetarian


After conceiving of this dish it took a couple of attempts to finally achieve success. In my first effort some of the crepes were too thick and weren’t usable. Additionally, I only used pepperjack cheese which made the dish too dense. And finally, the veloute sauce didn’t turn out the way I had imagined.

So, tonight it was back to the drawing board for a second try that I’m happy to report turned out much better. I made sure that all of the crepes were thinner by using less batter for each. I mixed the pepperjack cheese with some ricotta to lighten the stuffing mixture. And, I tweaked the veloute sauce. For those who are unfamiliar with a veloute, it is similar to a béchamel with the exception that stock (traditionally meat stock), takes the place of milk. But my experiment involved a housemade vegetarian corn stock and puree. (See below for details).

Savory cornmeal crepes stuffed with pepperjack and ricotta cheeses baked and served napped with corn veloute sauce Chez Edouard
Stir fry of summer squash and onions

Vanilla ice cream with peaches and blackberries

Corn Veloute Chez Edouard
Cut the kernels from two fresh ears of corn and place in a large saucepan. Add the corn cobs (yes the cobs) and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Remove the cobs and discard. Strain the remaining ingredients reserving the stock and the corn kernels. Place the corn in a blender with about half the stock and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve and reserve the rather loose puree.

Meanwhile, melt two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Add two tablespoons of flour and whisk until the mixture is foamy. Take great care NOT to allow the flour to color. You want to create what is known as a blonde roux. Slowly add the reserved corn stock whisking over low heat until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream. Just before serving, stir in the loose puree and heat through. Add a pinch of salt but do NOT add pepper (which can overpower the delicate flavor of this sauce).

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A Summer Favorite

My favorite pizza can really only be made in the summer when fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes are available. And that’s about all there is to it: sliced fresh tomatoes, caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella, and a garnish of chopped garlic and parmesan cheese.

Of particular note is the mozzarella. To the uninitiated, the term “fresh” is in reference to the type of cheese. Fresh mozzarella is altogether different from the firm blocks of the aged variety you find at the regular cheese counter that produces a stringy, often rubbery texture after melting. You may have to search for fresh mozzarella among the specialty cheeses and it is often sold in a ball shape. It will be noticeably softer (in fact squeezable), and has a wonderfully creamy texture when melted.

The order of the toppings as you place them on the dough is also important because sliced fresh tomatoes can be a bit juicy. To avoid a soggy crust, start with the mozzarella and onions, then add the tomatoes and garnishes. A chiffonade of basil can also be strewn about if desired, and a pinch of red pepper flakes sprinkled over adds a bit of kick.

I never want anything else when I have pizza…not even a salad. But later in the evening I do indulge in something sweet.

Summer pizza Chez Edouard

Peach pound cake with whipped cream

To paraphrase Alice Waters, the difference between good lasagna and great lasagna is in using fresh, thinly-rolled pasta. And I agree. Try to avoid those boxes of thick noodles with the curly edges on the grocer’s shelf if at all possible, but if you must use dried pasta, search for the Barilla brand noodles which are thin and flat.

The sauce that I created for this dish is made of fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers, summer squash, garlic, and carrots–chopped, diced, or shredded and simmered together until thick. Half of the mixture is blended into a puree and the rest is left in its chunky state which adds heft to dish. Layers of sauce, pasta, and cheeses (in this case ricotta and pepperjack) are sandwiched together to make for a tasty vegetarian entre.

Garden Vegetable Lasagna Chez Edouard
Garden lettuce, haricots vert, and cherry tomato salad with shallot-red wine vinaigrette
Yeast roll

Vanilla ice cream with fresh peaches and pecan cookies

In those menus where “vegetable plate” is included in the title, it’s pretty much just that–a plate of vegetables. But it is anything but haphazard in design. I strive to achieve an interesting balance of tastes and textures on the plate that appeals from a gustatory as well as visual perspective. And I like to try new and interesting combinations.

The highlight of tonight’s menu is a bean and tomato dish that I created simply because I thought the flavors would be nice together. And they were! A few thin slices of onion and a peeled and chopped yellow tomato went into a skillet with a bit of olive oil and stewed together over low heat until the tomatoes were saucy but still chunky. Meanwhile, sliced Romano beans were blanched briefly in boiling water until just crisp tender. At that point the beans are drained and added to the skillet with the tomato mixture and everything is heated together for just a minute or two before serving. A bit of sea salt and a grinding of fresh pepper was all that was needed to finish the dish. Superb if I do say so myself!

July 24th Vegetable Plate

Oven-roasted new potatoes split and topped with a dollop of sour cream
Romano beans and tomatoes Chez Edouard
Fried okra breaded with Southwestern-spiced cornmeal
Yeast rolls

Peach and blueberry cobbler with whipped cream

Vegetable Gumbo

Fresh okra was available at the farmers’ market this weekend and I bought a sizable amount to enjoy. In the south this vegetable is often enjoyed breaded or battered and deep-fried. And I do like it served that way which provides textural interest to a summer mixed vegetable plate. But another well-loved dish that comes to mind is the Louisiana favorite–gumbo. Most gumbo recipes include some sort of meat protein and certainly do not need to include okra. What does seem consistent however, is that those that include okra usually omit the traditional flour paste roux. Okra has a thickening property that produces a similar result to that of the roux. My vegetarian version celebrates the bounty of midsummer.

For dessert, a peach pie that’s a bit different. The bottom crust is made of traditional pie dough, but the top is covered with crisp topping including ground pecans, brown sugar, flour, and butter.

Vegetable gumbo of onions, spicy peppers, celery, tomatoes, corn, summer squash, okra, and black-eyed peas with Cajun seasonings served over rice
Hushpuppies
Garden lettuce salad

Peach pie with crisp topping served with whipped cream

Bread and Butter Pickles Chez Edouard

Bread and Butter Pickles Chez Edouard

So what does this photo have to do with tonight’s menu? Nothing really. But yesterday I made these jars of bread and butter pickles and this morning I felt inclined to take a photo. Next fall and winter, I’ll be enjoying these as well as the dill pickles that I have been preserving along the course of the summer thus far. I’m anxious to make relish next weekend.

But on to tonight’s menu. On a hot summer day, a soup is probably the last thing most folks would think of cooking for dinner, but the abundance of fresh produce makes this a particularly wonderful time to combine the vegetables on hand with some fresh water, simmer until the flavors marry, and serve with a cornmeal muffin and a side salad. Simple, direct, and of the moment.

Summer vegetable soup of tomatoes, squash, onions, garlic, corn, new potatoes, and green beans garnished with finely diced banana peppers
Cornbread muffins
Garden salad with creamy dill dressing

A perfect peach

Tonight’s menu features a “stuffed pizza” otherwise referred to as calzone. Three cheeses–fresh mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta–are layered with sautéed onions and peppers, artichoke hearts, cherry tomato wedges, and olives and seasoned with garlic and herbs. It’s one of those one-dish meals that needs little to accompany it. For those with big appetites, I imagine a simple salad would suffice.

As with any pizza, whether the traditional type or stuffed as is the case here, it is important to make sure that the oven is thoroughly preheated to the hottest temperature setting. This helps to insure a crisp bottom crust. In the case of tonight’s treatment, it is also important to place the mozzarella and vegetables on the bottom and leave the herb-seasoned ricotta for the top layer, thus preventing a soggy crust.

Three cheese and vegetable calzone
Garden salad

Blueberry ice cream

I have probably posted a menu like this before, but each version I make of this go-to dish is different based on what is fresh and seasonal at the moment. Tonight’s variation includes peppers and onions from my father’s garden, and carrots, squash, corn, and tomatoes from the farmers’ market. Some Cajun spices bring up the heat without being terribly alarming, and the spiciness is counterbalanced by the salad served alongside. The combination of beans (or in this case black-eyed peas) and rice provides a perfect protein.

Garden jambalaya of mirepoix, squash, corn, tomatoes, and black-eyed peas
Garden lettuces with housemade creamy dill dressing
Yeast roll Chez Edouard

Vanilla panna cotta with fresh peaches

Tonight I entertained friends with a dinner predominantly based on vegetables from the farmers’ market and herbs from my deck garden. Yesterday the market was brimming with a wide selection of fresh offerings which provided inspiration for the meal.

The parfaits I made for the family 4th celebration earlier in the week were such a hit, I decided to experiment further with the idea. Tonight’s rendition involved gelled pureed peaches along with the vanilla panna cotta. Again, another well-received dessert offering. Technically speaking, the plain gelatin I used was derived from animal sources, so that keeps the meal from being 100% vegetarian. The vegetarian alternative (agar agar flakes), is not available in my area but if you can find it you will achieve similar results.

Appetizer:
Roasted mushrooms stuffed with Mississippi caviar

Main Course:
Roasted red bell pepper halves stuffed with orzo, chopped tomato, artichoke hearts, and basil and garlic infused ricotta topped with fresh mozzarella
Roasted baby summer squash
Romano beans with extra virgin olive oil
Yeast dill rolls Chez Edouard

Dessert:
Peaches-and-cream parfait garnished with fresh blueberries and served with pecan sandies

As is often the case in the summer, I abandon planning menus ahead preferring to be inspired by the availability and bounty of the local harvest. In fact, tonight’s dinner started with taking out all of the vegetables on hand and laying them on the counter. As I peruse each offering, associations begin to take place and I become inspired by what strikes me at the moment, embracing certain ingredients and editing out others for a later meal. What was left on the worktop tonight was broccoli, mushrooms, onions, summer squash, and red peppers. A rummage through the pantry produced a box of dried garden rotini. There was some sharp cheddar in the fridge. The result: a vegetable-packed macaroni and cheese (or perhaps I’ll call it a vegetable and pasta gratin), that was more than satisfying as a one-dish meal.

Similarly, I had no plans for any particular dessert. That is, until I passed by the next door neighbor’s farm stand this afternoon. Late season strawberries! Thus, one of the simplest sweet endings to an impromptu meal was achieved with very little effort.

Garden vegetable and pasta gratin
Cornbread muffins

Strawberries with sour cream/ground pecan/brown sugar dip

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