In these here parts, being veg can be rough. (But hey - it's improving, daily, it sometimes seems.) The ubiquitous veggie plate is often ze only option whilst dining with meater pals, and even then, you need to ask about every side to insure you ain't scarfing no fatback or lard. Yeah.
But at Dish, mi favrito diner-ish restaurant, it's all veg (the sides, that is). So you can get awesome combos going - straight up southern (grits, collards, mac n cheese), faux-healthy (salad, green beans, black eyed peas), warm n' comfy (creamy soup, squash casserole, mashed 'taters). + biscuit + deviled egg. Yeah. Possibilities are profuse. Secret tip - that Del Sur burrito is ultimately scarfable if you sub mac 'n cheese or regular mashed potatoes for their overspiced/too-sweet yams. Try it on a night they aren't hoppin'!
What I'm saying is, the veg plate is this common offering to the veggie crowd below the mason-dixon line. I wanted to try my hand. And take preeety picturez, of course. Since I'm unable to scarf Le Macaroni Fromage sans hot sauce (Tabasco, to be specific) and there was none in the house, I made some homemade faux-Tabasco hot sauce. Recipe below!
Mac N' Cheese
Everyone's got their super secret awesome version. A pal of mine, I just recently discovered, simmers his milk pre-bechemal with a couple of bay leaves. My secret weapons - too much butter, tiny bit o nutmeg, and lots of whole-grain mustard. And, of course, the best cheddar you can get your mitts on.
12 oz pasta (macaroni, pennete, shells)
1 pound cheddar, shredded (used an old raw milk white in this version)
5 tablespoons butter, plus 1 melted to coat dish, plus ANOTHER melted to toss with breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons white flour
1.5 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1.5 cups milk/cream (half milk half cream, used here)
Salt and a dash of white pepper
1 tsp nutmeg, or 4 strokes across the rasper, fresh
1 egg, beaten
1 garlic clove, whole
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Start the water boiling. When it looks to blow in about 5 minutes, melt your butter in a large saucepan. Add your garlic clove and swirl, frying for about a minute.
Check water for boil - add pasta.
Butter your baking dish. This recipe will happily fill a deep dish 6x6 inch corningware.
Remove garlic clove, toss the flour in, grab a whisk. Cook roux until it has goldened a bit, about 3 minutes. While whisking, gently pour your milk/cream in. Cook over a low heat until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes.
Grab a wooden spoon while preheating your oven to 400f.
Add mustard, add nutmeg, stir. Add cheese, up heat to medium, stir, gently, until cheese has melted. At this point, your pasta should be cooked. Drain and pour into buttered baking dish. Salt and pepper sauce to taste, and pour over your pasta. Stir to incorporate. Add your beaten egg, stir again. Toss your breadcrumbs with a tablespoon of melted butter, using your fingers to mix. Scatter evenly over the top. Bake 20 minutes, or until the top is nice and bubbly. Broil another 3-5, or until crumbs are a bit browned.
Stewed Pole Beans
Thanks to my awesome neighbor Stu for inspiring this dish - by handing me a 2 pound bag o' beans from his garden! Yeah!
1 large tomato, chopped
1.5-2 pounds green beans, cleaned and ends trimmed
1 large onion, sliced into rings, then in half again
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon veggie bouillion (I used the jarred kind - a small cube would work fine)
2 cups water
Oil in a pot, add garlic and onion, turn heat to high. Char them a bit, continuously stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, water, pepper, and bouillion, turn heat to low, and simmer for an hour, covered. You may need to add a tad more water as the simmering progresses - add just enough to keep things from sticking to the pot.
Rip-off Tabasco Hot Sauce
I used one cayenne pepper, one tabasco pepper, and 3 red jalapenos for the recipe below. Ideally, you'd use all tabascos (flavor deviance is nil, to my tounge, but what do I know).
4-5 medium tabasco peppers, or an assortment of red jalapenos/cayennes
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tsp brown sugar
Smidge horseradish (optional)
2 cloves garlic
If you want less heat, you know the drill - open up the peppers and seed them. I left them in :)
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend for 3-4 minutes, until bits have almost disappeared. Strain mixture over a bowl, pressing on solids. Keep the solids! They're delicious in scrambled eggs. OR put them in a small jar and cover with good quality olive oil - you'll have chili oil in no time.
In a non-reactive pot, simmer sauce for about 6 minutes, until it has reduced by 1/4. Put in in a jar in the fridge to chill. Makes about 1/2 cup.