Competition in the Kitchen

17 09 2009

I love cooking. As a child it was one of my (and my sister’s) many chores, and when I say “many” I mean that in the most extreme sense of the word. My sister and I were basically responsible for maintaining our entire household. We did it all — cleaning, laundry, ironing, yard work, and cooking. When I was a child I used to say that when I grew up I would get rich and hire people to do all of the housework for me. All of it that is, except for the cooking.

I love cooking so much that I really have seriously considered making it a career. I look forward to the weekends partly because I actually have time to cook more elaborate meals. I secretly love to throw parties mostly so I have an excuse to cook an insanely large amount off food. I also watch way too much Food Network, especially any show that also appeals to my competitive nature.

Iron Chef (even the American version) and Top Chef are two of my favorite shows. The fast-paced cooking. The creativity. The interesting ingredients. They all inspire me when I’m in my own kitchen. I love to create, and I have a lot of opportunity to do so. As a vegetarian who also happens to love cooking and eating Iranian food and other ethnic cuisine, I spend much of my time in the kitchen figuring out how to make vegetarian versions of dishes that usually feature meat.

This brings me to the point of this post. I’m always up for a challenge, and I’d like to challenge my readers — all 2 of you — to challenge me. Tell me your favorite meat-based dishes, and I’ll come up with vegetarian versions of the recipe and post them in a new section of the blog entitled Competition in the Kitchen to be launched with the first recipe in the next couple weeks.

I look forward to being challenged. By the way, I haven’t gotten rich yet, unfortunately, so I’m still stuck with the chores (at least the ones Roger doesn’t do, and he does a lot — I’m lucky).

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6 responses

17 09 2009
holly

Ok Zahra, James and I have come up with some meals. Chuck roast, potatoes, and carrots. Another one is fried chicken. Let us know what you come up with. We look forward to trying your new found recipies. Have fun with this. Jame and Holly

18 09 2009
zsafavian

Awesome, James and Holly! I have to admit that I had to Google chuck roast — I’ve never had it and wasn’t sure what it was. But, I think I understand it now, and I am up to the challenge. Vegetarian fried chicken is definitely something I’ve tackled before, so that should be an easy one. I’m really intrigued by the chuck roast however, so I think that will be the first to come. Thanks for the suggestion.

18 09 2009
Andy Jacobson

I am not a cook. When I was single, I would either eat out, take out, or make my signature dish:

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with Polish sausage (polska kielbasa).

Can you make me a good vegetarian sausage, Zahra? If tofu tasted like left-over pig parts I would eat it every day.

18 09 2009
zsafavian

Well, Andy, I could try to make vegetarian sausage, but I’ve never actually had to. Mostly, because there are a ton of great tasting vegetarian sausages out there, actually, and I’m not just saying that as a vegetarian. Roger, our household’s resident meat-eater, has been the taste tester for veggie sausage in our family. In particular, I will say that the Tofurky brand sausages are very tasty, and they do have a Kielbasa flavored sausage. There is also this brand that I have only found at Whole Foods that is one of the best-tasting things I’ve ever eaten. I’ll have to look up the brand name next time I stop by. And, in the meantime, I’ll do a little research on how sausage is made and see if I can give this homemade sausage thing a try, the vegetarian way, of course.

19 09 2009
Michelle Garrison Hough

FYI, I also eat Amy’s Burritos for lunch at least 3 times per week. Our favorite household hobby is cooking. We make a lot of vegetarian stuff, but also a lot of meat and fish. This is our favorite fish chowder. We would love to know what could replace the bacon and the snapper!

Red Snapper Chowder

12 oz. smoky bacon diced
1/4 cup pure olive oil
4 cloves garlic sliced
1 Scotch bonnet chili stemmed, seeded and minced
1 medium Spanish onion diced
4 stalks celery diced
1 carrot peeled and diced
1 small fennel bulb cored and diced
Yellow bell pepper diced
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
4 cups crushed peeled plum tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce
10 cups blue crab stock
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 1/4 pounds fish fillets such as snapper, grouper, sole or cod cut into bite-sized pieces
2 1/4 pounds red potatoes scrubbed, cut into bite sized pieces, boiled until tender and drained

In a large soup pot, cook the bacon in the olive oil over medium low heat until beginning to crisp. Add the garlic and Scotch bonnet and cook for 30 seconds. Turn up the heat to medium high. Add the onion, celery, carrot, fennel and yellow bell pepper and stir to coat.

Cook, stirring occasionally, to caramelize the vegetables, about 10 minutes. Stir in the crushed red peppers, then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, stock, bay leaves and herbs. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and add the fish and potatoes. Cook for ten minutes more, or until the fish is just cooked through. Add your favorite hot sauce to taste, and serve.

20 09 2009
My Persian Kitchen

Ohhhh Zahra, I totally challenge you to make a vegetarian version of a Persian dish! When I used to be vegetarian I used to make Khoresht Karafs with tofu, it was decent. I also made kotlet with pretend meat. 😉

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