Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

February is a short month, but if it were any longer, I think that I would go crazy. It is bitter cold here on this mountaintop, and a neighbor told us that we have already had more than 100" of snow this winter. We are warm and snug, as are our animals, but there are so many people and animals out there who are not so lucky.

Therefore, it's comfort food time. Yes, Virginia, vegetarians do have comfort food!

We work very hard here -- as I'm sure all of you out there do -- and we get very cold and tired and hungry, and I'd like to offer you half a dozen interesting and enjoyable recipes to help you get through February. For that, we all need all the help that we can get!

Come on, Springtime, where are you?

Brie with Chili Honey

  • wedge of good quality Brie or St. Andre cheese
  • honey with chili
  • crackers
  • pear slices

Place the Brie on a wonderful serving plate and allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

When nearly ready to serve, drizzle it with some of the honey. Provide a butter knife or other spreader and let people serve themselves by spreading it onto crackers, bread slices, or thin slices of pear.

  • Yields: as many batches as you care to make
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Blue Cheese Bread Bits

  • 1 can buttermilk refrigerator rolls
  • 4 oz. blue cheese
  • 1/3 cup butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut each biscuit into four pieces. Microwave the butter on high in a measuring cup for 30 seconds. Stir in the blue cheese.

Dip each piece of biscuit into the mixture and place them on a baking sheet with sides. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until browned. Serve warm.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Baked Potato Casserole

  • 4 tablespoons oil or butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 3/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup grated white cheddar, or Emmenthal cheese, or other good quality cheese (cheese is optional if you are watching your fat intake)
  • 3 russet baking potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1 leek or onion, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a batter bowl, combine the butter and flour. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, and then whisk in the salt, pepper, mustard, and milk. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Whisk well. Microwave another 1-2 minutes, or until thickened. Whisk in the cheese and set aside.

In a buttered casserole, arrange the slices of potatoes and the leeks, drizzling a little of the sauce between the layers, ending with the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Or, to speed things along, assemble the casserole but do not put the Parmigiano cheese on the top. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Then remove the plastic wrap, sprinkle on the cheese and slip into the hot oven to finish baking for about 20 minutes.

  • Yields: 1 large casserole
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Baked Vegetable Casserole

  • 2-3 cups sliced or diced any vegetable or combinations
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • salt, pepper, herbs
  • 2-3 tablespoons water or vegetable broth
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • grated cheese, optional
  • bread crumbs or crushed cereal

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Select the vegetables and slice or cut into cubes. Use a variety, choosing at least some onion or garlic. Place the vegetables in baking dish. Toss in the cubes of tofu. Sprinkle with seasonings and drizzle with broth and oil. Sprinkle the top with cheese, if using. Top with a thin layer of crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees 30-40 minutes. Serve.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Macaroni and Vegetable Bake

  • 6-7 cups hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups fresh vegetables, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter/margarine
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • grated cheese for top

Microwave the water and salt in the bottom of a "pasta cooker" on High 10-15 minutes, or until bubbles appear. Lower the macaroni in the top of the pasta cooker into hot water. Microwave on High 7-10 minutes, or until tender. Lift the macaroni out and pour into a serving casserole.

Microwave the vegetables on High 4-5 minutes, or until done. Toss with the macaroni.

In a batter bowl, combine the butter, flour, and pepper. Microwave on High 1 minute. Whisk in the mustard and milk. Microwave 3 minutes. Whisk. Microwave another 1-2 minutes, or until thickened. Combine with the vegetables and macaroni. Sprinkle with the cheese. Microwave another 1-2 minutes. Serve.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Fruit Flambes

  • 2 of any fresh fruit preferred, peeled, sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sweet (unsalted) butter
  • 2-4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup light or dark rum
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the fruit slices. Turn the fruit over when they become soft and slightly translucent. Add the sugar and rum. As soon as the sugar dissolves and mixture is hot, carefully light a match to the fruit. After the alcohol burns away, allow the fruit to continue cooking until the liquid becomes a golden syrup (2-5 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and serve.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes