Tag Archives: vegetarian

Easy Black Bean, Corn and Scallion Fritters

12 Dec

Here was a nifty little trick to use up some bits and bobs…black beans from a batch I had soaked, some frozen corn, a couple of leftover scallions. I went light on the seasonings, but you can certainly go more heavy.

This is an example of a denser fritter! More water will make the batter lighter

This is an example of a denser fritter! More water will make the batter lighter

These were a big success at my house on a night that everyone just wanted something casual that you could grab with a napkin and keep going. You’ll have to play around with the consistency…add more water if you want a lighter fritter, less if you want it dense (which will need more cooking time in order to cook that flour).

I didn't think Leandro woud like them, but he loved them and ate loads!

I didn’t think Leandro woud like them, but he loved them and ate loads!

Black Bean and Corn Fritters With Scallions

1 tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp salt

5 black pepper corns

1 Cup black beans (either from a can or soaked)

1 Cup corn kernels

Half an onion, minced (at least ½ Cup)

½  Cup scallions, sliced, green and white parts

2 eggs

2 Tbs cilantro

¾ Cup flour


2 Tbs vegetable oil (or more) for frying

Grind coriander, salt and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle until pulverized.

In a large skillet, heat  oil at medium-high. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix beans, corn, onion, scallions, eggs, cilantro and flour until blended. Add water to create a more liquidy batter that drips thickly off a spoon.

Drop large tablespoonfuls of batter into the hot oil and smooth out a bit into fritters. Don’t crowd them and cook about 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, adjusting temperature as needed. Place cooked fritters on paper towels to cool while you start the next batch and continue until done. Makes about a dozen fritters.


Hearty Vegan Veggie Soup in Three Stunningly Simple Steps (plus non-vegan tortellini option)

27 Apr

Is everyone’s family as kooky as mine? Wait, don’t answer that.

But truly, when I look at how many different dishes we sometimes have at the same table, I do feel like we are more diner than family-style when it comes to meals. There’s  my dad with the tattered but still crazy vegan diet that says you shouldn’t combine vegetables that grow above ground and below ground in the same meal (wtf?), my child who eats well, but rejects most soups and has a limited vegetable acceptability quotient; my mom who likes what she likes when she likes it and is not always easy to predict, and me, who eats mostly salad and picks at everyone else’s when she doesn’t really mean to and then complains about weight management. Four people, four different meals.


But then, sometimes you hit on something that is one dish that everyone can eat and modify to their liking.

The vegan vegetable soup base

The vegan vegetable soup base

Continue reading

Don’t Judge a Vegetable By Its Cover: Celeriac

17 Mar

You are not alone. The cashier at our local grocery store didn’t know what it was either.

When I explained to her that it was celery root, or celeriac, I remembered the day when I first encountered celery root (beware, gentle reader, a somewhat Proustian moment is about to ensue).

I was a (not-very-enthusiastic and rather undocumented) jeune fille au pair in Paris – a nanny/housekeeper for a divorced, working mom with two kids. I understand Madame D. a lot better now that I am a single parent, but back then, all I could understand was that she was underpaying me for a lot of domestic work that didn’t let me take French lessons or frequent cafés in the manner which I thought more befitting my station. It didn’t even let me buy enough food. At the weekends, when I didn’t eat with the family, I skipped a lot of meals. In turn, Madame D. was clear that, while I had certain likeable qualities, I was pretty much an American brat who did not know much about anything at all. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle.

Celery root has a certain je ne sais quoi, non?

Celery root has a certain je ne sais quoi, non?

Anyhoo, I pretended not to be able to cook in order to avoid having to cook, but when she brought home this homely, knobbly, ugly softball of a vegetable, I was not faking my ignorance. I was truly mystified. Qu’est-ce que c’est? Or, in today’s common parlance: WTF?

Madame D. explained that because Americans are wasteful, they don’t use the bulby root of celery stalks, while the French, in their infinite superiority, understood its sublime nature and made it a national dish – celeriac remoulade (which we are not doing today, so don’t get excited, but coming soon!).

I nodded and watched her make the remoulade (celeriac slaw with mayo and mustard powder, basically) and it was indeed sublime ( breath of relief, as Madame. D. French or not, was not much of a cook, but since I was pretending not to be able to cook myself, I ate what I was given. And took seconds if they were ever offered, even if I shocked the family. I was hungry!!!!!).

As it turns out, Madame D. was correct that celeriac is good stuff, but this time, it wasn’t a case of Americans chopping off the best part of a plant out of stupidity. Celeriac (Apium graveolens rapaceum) is not at all the root of the celery stalk (Apium graveolens dulce) so ubiquitous in the American supermarket. They are all celery, but distinct forms of it. And in fact, it turns out to have a lot of uses in the Puerto Rican kitchen, but I have only just begun to explore that.

Which brings me back to the local IGA (independent grocery) and the lumpy celeriac sitting in a corner, ignored. I was actually charged with taking a salad to a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party and was hoping to find something novel to add to it. And there was my answer. The Mystery Root.


When you get your celery root ready, pop it into a bowl of cold salted water until ready to cut up. It will oxidize and like Princess Fiona, return to its natural ogre-like state.

When you get your celery root ready, pop it into a bowl of cold salted water until ready to cut up. It will oxidize and like Princess Fiona, return to its natural ogre-like state.

To prepare, rinse. Slice off each end and pare off the tough skin with a knife. plunge in cold salted water until ready to use. You can boil it with potatoes (1 part celeriac: 2-3 parts potato) in your favorite mashed potato recipe, or make remoulade (again, I may just make some today. I’ll keep you “posted”) or, do as I did: grate it raw into a green salad and add apples and grated carrot. Mustardy-mayonnaise-y dressings are good matches for the celeriac, which tastes a lot like…well, celery!



Taco Tuesdays: DIY Refried Beans. Banging Flavor without the Fat

11 Mar

We’ve been doing Taco Tuesdays for the last month or so. Our neighbors across the street do it, so Leandro decided we should too. I actually like it, because it gives me a solid plan and lets me tinker. I don’t actually do the taco thing – by the time all the accoutrements get to the table I have eaten more than my share of shredded cheese and settle for rolling a veggie wrap for myself (ripe avocado slices are my solution when I crave creaminess and  am trying — quite unsuccessfully — to battle my cheese dependence).

Olive oil, onion and peppers add to my sorta Mexican veggie wraps on Taco Tuesdays

Olive oil, onion and peppers add to my sorta Mexican veggie wraps on Taco Tuesdays

One of the things I have been tweaking has been refried beans (which are not really refried at all). You can buy them out of a can, and I won’t deny that they taste good, but do I really need that much lard in my life? Actually, I do wish I had more lard in my life, but I would like to know where it came from before I serve it up. Continue reading

Pedro’s Better-Than-Perfect White Rice

3 Jan

Sometimes perfect isn’t good enough. Sometimes, perfect is boring. Sometimes you think you’ve got something down perfectly pat, only to discover that someone else can actually do it better.

Allow to boil, uncovered, until water goes below the surface

Allow to boil, uncovered, until water goes below the surface

Such is the story of this recipe. I have posted my Perfect White Rice in accompaniment with a variety of bean recipes a number of times on this blog. It comes out perfect every time: grains moist but separate, texture cooked through but not mealy.

Light and fluffy white rice

Light and fluffy white rice

But my dad’s rice (which uses exactly the same ingredients, as it happens) is just better. Mine is a great accompaniment. But his? You can eat it right out of the pot with nothing else and find bliss. It’s just white rice, but it has the slightest sheen of oil, a satisfying plumpness, just the right saltiness.

And now, here it is. ¡Buen provecho!



Pedro’s Better-Than-Perfect White Latin Rice

2 Cups water

1 generous Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp coarse salt

1 Cup medium grain rice (not parboiled), rinsed in a strainer

Bring water, oil, and salt to a boil at high. Add rice. Stir. Return to boil, lower heat to medium high and allow water to boil away until the top is no longer under water and the bubbles come up through holes in the surface. Turn rice over with a spoon bringing the bottom to the top. Cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. Serve. Or stand next to the stove and just eat it out of the pot. I’m telling you.

You may also like:

Authentic Puerto Rican Rice and Beans (and shortcuts for effective faking)

Rice and Beans: A Love Story

Chili Con Carne

Five-Minute Black Beans

Yuca Salad Revisited – You May Never Make Potato Salad Again

5 Dec

There is no better big-dinner, buffet, picnic, or other party dish in my arsenal than Yuca Salad (aka ensalada de yuca, yuca en escabeche). None. I kid you not.

Pimiento-stuffed olives

Pimiento-stuffed olives

It is easy, has big flavor, is unusual, goes with everything, is portable, and very cheap…it is even vegan, but no one has to know until they’ve tried it. I have served it to pretty much everyone I have ever cooked for (and if I haven’t done it for you yet, it is just a matter of time) and gotten rave reviews every time. Continue reading

Sauteed Onions and Peppers with Curry (super side dish or turkey burger topper!)

1 Dec
On its own or with rice, these mildly curried vegetables are a worthy side dish!

On its own or with rice, these mildly curried vegetables are a worthy side dish!

The post-Thanksgiving self-flagellation and sporadic attempts to lose five pounds (okay, ten) before Christmas have begun. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Sides and Sweets: A Recipe Round-Up

17 Nov

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. No gifts, just massive food, and a chance to give thanks for all that we have. Given how very fortunate my family was through the storms – Sandy and the nor’easter, the grateful feelings are particularly sharp.

Walnut Toffee Triangles (they freeze beautifully!)

The sides I include here are all from previous posts and are meant to give you simple solutions to plugging holes in your menu. This blog is called Hot, Cheap & Easy, and these recipes – made from basic ingredients, easily obtained — exemplify this (except maybe the Butternut Squash Bisque, but that is mostly made-ahead so I think I can be forgiven on that one).

As I say to my classes, “KISS, KISS, KISS: Keep It Simple, Students!” These recipes help me practice what I preach! I expect to be posting more Holiday recipes in the next week, but this is a good start for shopping this weekend. Continue reading

Zucchini Fritters, with Manchego, Rosemary, and Thyme

1 Oct

What am I gonna do with this!?! Basta, ya! As enormous bats of zucchini continue to be a big part of our C.S.A. pick-up this summer-into-fall, we start to get desperate for different ways to prepare them. I generally grate them into salads (I dislike raw zucchini, but grated into a salad makes it much more texturally appealing for me!), my dad grills them with just a bit of oil, or we roast them.

Grated zucchini

As much as I adore absolute simplicity in food — from both a preparation and a consumption standpoint — enough is enough. One does need to mix it up a bit, and try new techniques, too. So it was time to be inspired by a recipe for zucchini fritters I saw recently at Emmy Cooks, and another one for zucchini latkes at Deborah Rivera Pittorino’s chef’s blog, Seasoned Fork (full disclosure – you will find book reviews I have written there; The Big Oyster is my favorite). Both recipes seemed simple enough, a lovely change for us over here, and as they are pan-fried, I thought I was in with a chance at getting Leandro to try veggies this way. Continue reading

Roasted Green Beans (Salvaging and Sweetening When Less than Farm Fresh)

27 Sep

We’ve had piles of green beans this season, both from Restoration Farm and from our own little beds. This means that sometimes they stay in the fridge longer than we meant them too.

Then, when the season is over, we’ll probably buy from the supermarket (ssshhhhhh – not particularly seasonally virtuous, but I am working on it) and they won’t have that snappy-sweet farm freshness that we have become used to in late summer. But now I have a new way to make them taste much, much better. Continue reading

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