Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Quinoa Risotto with Butternut Squash

First, I need to give credit where credit is due because this is a recipe I make fairly regularly and it's almost straight from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley. I really like this book and though it's not totally vegan it does have a lot of vegan recipes. Now hopefully the copyright police won't come after me...

The keys to risotto are 1) get the right kind of rice (arborio), 2) have your water or stock simmering on another burner and add it a little at a time, and 3) constant stirring. Keep all this in mind and your risotto will be fine. Here's how I made mine:

4 c. water or veg. broth (or make a broth from the squash and leek trimmings)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium leek (white part only), halved and thinly sliced
2 c. butternut squash cut in 1/2 in. dice (a smallish ~1 lb. squash should do)
1/2 c. arborio rice
1/3 c. quinoa
2 Tbs. white wine
1 tsp. dried ground sage (or use fresh if you've got it)
salt & pepper to taste

- Bring the water or broth to a boil in a saucepan then reduce heat and keep at a simmer.
- In a larger saucepan, saute the leek in 1 Tbs. olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper over medium heat for about 2 min. Add the squash and cook for another minute or two. Add the rice and quinoa and stir until they're well coated with the oil, then add the sage and wine and cook until dry.
- Now ladle in the water or broth, 1/2 c. at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the liquid in this fashion until the grains are creamy and tender. For me that's about 22 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and season with salt & pepper to taste. I garnished mine with chives and toasted pine nuts. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Last of the leftovers

One good thing about spending so much time cooking on Thanksgiving for just the two of us is that we haven't had to cook much since then. Well, we like to cook, but sometimes a break is good too. Tonight we finally finished off the vegetable pie and the rest of the stuffing and with that had a simple salad with romaine lettuce, carrots, slivered almonds and olive oil & red wine vinegar. Back to cooking again tomorrow night.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mac and "cheese"

When you spend all your time in the kitchen making cupcakes instead of making dinner, here's a quick and easy recipe so you can have something other than just cupcakes for dinner. This is a variation on a recipe I make quite often from Very Vegetarian by Jannequin Bennett and Carl Lewis.

Add 1/2 c. flour and 1/4 c. nutritional yeast to a saucepan. Whisk in 2 c. water then add 1 veg. boullion cube. Turn on medium heat and cook until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently. Add 1 Tbs. miso, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. paprika, and 1 tsp. salt. Mix well and simmer for about 5 min. Add 2 Tbs. vegan margarine and 1 tsp. mustard of your choice. Meanwhile, cook a pound of your favorite pasta. Before draining the pasta, add 1 c. of the pasta water to the sauce. Then put 1/2 c. frozen peas in your colander and drain the pasta over the peas. Mix pasta & peas with the sauce in a large bowl and enjoy! If you want to add some protien, fry up some seitan or TVP chunks and add to the pasta.

Cupcakes fit for a (vegan) king

Who says you can't be vegan and have yummy cake (or cupcakes)? Have you ever wanted to surprise your vegan sweetie with a lucious treat but couldn't find the perfect recipe for a chocolate lover? Well search no more. I made a variation of the Fauxstess Cupcakes from Vegan with a Vengeance. I followed the same recipe but used a little different assembly method. Since I didn't have a pastry bag, I just cut the cupcakes in half and used a small cookie scoop to plop the filling in the middle. Then I dipped the top of the cupcakes in the chocolate ganache. As you can see I got chocolate everywhere but no one is complaining. Chris had his dessert first and ate 2 of these before dinner. He said they're much better than the plastic wrapped option.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Scrambled Tofu and Home Fries

This is a great recipe for scrambled tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance/The Post Punk Kitchen. We didn't have any mushrooms on hand so I left those out, but it came out great without them. We had some fingerling potatoes that we didn't use for Thanksgiving so I cut those into small pieces and fried them with salt & pepper, and some fresh rosemary and thyme. Served it with toast from last week's fresh bread I still have in the freezer. (When I make bread, after a day or 2 I slice what's left and freeze it. It's good toasted straight from the freezer. I use a straw to suck as much air as possible from the freezer bag and that helps cut down on freezer burn.)

I had a nice picture of this creation, but I just accidentally deleted it from the camera before I downloaded it. D'oh!!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Vegan Thanksgiving Feast

Our tradition on Thanksgiving is to spend all day cooking and to eschew turkey (and all those serving them). We'll share our feast with friends or family, but we make it a point on this day at least to avoid any place where turkey is being served. Our meal is usually rather traditional but instead of a dead bird in the center of our table we have a vegetable pie of some sort. Here is this year's menu:
  • Vegetable Pie with homemade puff pastry, filled with sweet potatoes, seitan, mushrooms and spinach
  • Roasted root vegetables
  • Stuffing
  • Steamed green beans
  • Mushroom-walnut gravy
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake
This year we went all out and did everything completely from scratch, from the homemade puff pastry to the stuffing from the fresh bread I baked earlier this week. I won't go into great detail on all the recipes, but I'll at least give you the basics (and maybe some details). Starting with...

Vegetable Pie

This is our version of various similar recipes we've seen in Vegetarian Times through the years. In the past we've done something like this with store-bought puff pastry (which is usually not entirely vegan), but this year we found this recipe one night while watching Emeril. It's time consuming, but most of that time is spent letting it rest in the fridge. It helps to have some pastry skills (which Darlene has) when doing this, but if you're pretty comfortable cooking and baking you can probably do it. We just substituted vegan margarine for the butter and it came out great - much better than the store-bought stuff.

For the crust, take half of the puff pastry recipe (you can freeze the rest), then roll out about 3/4 of that into a circle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan. Press the dough into the pan, then add the filling which goes like this:

Bottom layer is about 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, baked, peeled and mashed with 1/4 c. orange juice, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, and salt & pepper to taste.

Next layer is about 2 c. homemade seitan (we used this recipe), fried until well browned.

Next layer is about 2 lbs. button mushrooms, coarsely chopped, sauteed and seasoned with fresh thyme, salt & pepper. Make sure you cook off all the moisture and drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Final layer is 2 big bunches (1 1/2 lbs.) fresh spinach cooked until soft with 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and salt & pepper. Again, make sure it's drained well.

Then roll out the remaining puff pastry into a circle large enough to cover the pie, place it on top and crimp around the edges. Cut a few small slits in the top and bake at 375 for about an hour or until golden brown.

Important step: Make sure you put another pan under the pie to catch any drippings. We forgot to do this and had burning nastiness on the bottom of our oven which filled the house with smoke and briefly set off the smoke detector. Fortunately it was warmer and very windy here today and we opened all the windows and aired the place out.

Roasted Roots

We used white fingerling potatoes, purple potatoes, beets, and a rutabaga. We chopped these into bite-sized pieces and mixed them with olive oil, fresh thyme, salt & pepper, and roasted in a baking dish for about an hour at 375. It helps to cut the beets and rutabaga into smaller pieces than the potatoes because they'll take a little longer to cook.

Stuffing

I cut a loaf of fresh bread into about a 1" dice and dried the pieces in the warming drawer of our oven (you could just do it in the oven over low heat). I'm not sure of the exact quantity but I'm thinking it amounted to around 8 cups. I sauted diced onion and celery in olive oil, added about 2 tsp. each dried ground sage and dried parsley, salt & pepper, 1/2 c. chopped walnuts and 1 medium granny smith apple, peeled, cored and diced. I then added 2 c. homemade vegetable stock (many veg. cookbooks have recipes), stirred until most of the liquid was incorporated, transferred to a covered casserole dish, and baked at 375 for 30 minutes.

Mushroom-Walnut Gravy

This recipe is only slightly modified from one in the November, 1996 issue of Vegetarian Times. That was our first vegetarian Thanksgiving and we've made this gravy almost every year since then.

2 c. boiling water
1 c. dried wild mushrooms
1/2 c. all-purposes flour
1/2 c. finely chopped shallot
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 to 2 c. vegetable stock
1/2 c. toasted and finely chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Pour boiling water over mushrooms and let steep for 20 min.
In a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, brown flour, stirring constantly until color is deep amber, about 5-10 min. Be careful not to burn. Scrape flour onto a plate to cool.
In skillet, saute shallot in olive oil until translucent.
Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid. Rinse mushrooms and chop finely. Strain reserved liquid through several layers of cheesecloth.
In a saucepan, combine flour with a little stock, whisking until smooth. Add remaining stock and mushroom liquid. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently until it starts to thicken. Add mushrooms, onion, walnuts, thyme, salt & pepper. Cook until heated through and fairly thick. Add more stock if it's too thick.

Cranberry Sauce

Cook 1 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries, 1 1/2 c. orange juice, and 1 c. sugar over medium heat until cranberries have popped. Remove from heat and let cool, then refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Whew! That's a lot of cooking (and a lot of writing). Now we can spend the rest of the weekend eating all the leftovers so we may not be posting much the next few days.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More soup

So I mentioned yesterday the mini bread loaves I was planning on using for serving soup. Tonight I made a black bean soup to put in the bread bowls and the result looks fun, but it didn't turn out quite like I had hoped so I'll forgo posting the recipe. I should've used more liquid in the soup because it came out more like a bowl of black beans than a soup and there wasn't enough liquid to soak into the bread. Darlene suggested trying these bread bowls again sometime, but with her potato soup which is typically thinner and less chunky. Sounds like a good idea.

We spent a lot of time cooking today because we got started on a few things for our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow (like Darlene's cheesecake below). More on the feast soon.

pumpkin cheesecake - yummiiii

Hi Everyone! I just finished making our Thanksgiving dessert. It is best to make it the day before you plan to serve so the flavors can intensify. The recipe is similar to the one in Sinfully Vegan by Lois Dieterly (a great book for vegans with a sweet tooth) with some modifications to cut the recipe in half and still use lots of fresh pumpkin. Chris found the crust recipe in our local alternative weekly, the C-ville. They published a very non-vegan pumpkin cheesecake recipe from local restaurant Rapture, but the crust looked good (and simple). The recipe called for butter but I substituted vegan margarine.

Pumpkin Cheesecake - Vegan Style

Crust:
¾ c. quick oats
¾ c. chopped walnuts
¾ c. light brown sugar
½ tsp. Cinnamon
¼ c. melted margarine

Mix together all dry ingredients, then add margarine and mix well. Press into the bottom of a 9” springform pan and bake at 325 for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool. I put a circle of parchment paper on the bottom to make it a little easier to remove the pie from the pan.

Filling:

2 8-oz. containers Tofutti cream cheese
1 12-oz. box silken tofu
1 cup sugar (I used organic turbinado sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup fresh pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground ginger

Combine cream cheese and tofu in food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add sugar and blend until creamy. Add remaining ingredients, blend and pour into cooled prepared crust. Place on top rack of oven. Place a shallow pan filled with water on the lower rack of oven and bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

Topping:

1 12-oz. box silken tofu
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 ½ tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon

While cheesecake is baking, place tofu in food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add other ingredients and process to blend. After 50 minutes, pull cheesecake out of oven and carefully spread on topping.

Return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additional hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight before serving. Enjoy!!

Tempeh "Bacon" and Home Fries

I'm off work today so I had time for something more than just cereal for breakfast. Another great recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance is the tempeh "bacon" which is basically tempeh strips marinated in a mixture of apple cider, soy sauce and garlic with a little tomato paste and liquid smoke and then fried. I've also tried adding a little maple syrup to the marinade and that worked well.

The home fries this morning were just from 2 yukon gold potatoes diced and fried in peanut oil with salt and pepper to taste. Many recipes for home fries will tell you to boil the potatoes first until they're just barely tender and then fry them, but I'm lazy and usually skip that step. I've found that if the potatoes are diced fairly small (like 1/2" or less) then they'll get tender just from frying them.

We rounded out our breakfast with some toast from yesterday's bread.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bread

Today was the day to bake my bread (which I wrote about in a post from a couple days ago). This time I tried something a little different. Usually this recipe makes 2 large loaves, but instead I made one large loaf and cut the other half of the dough into 4 pieces so I could have smaller loaves to use as bread bowls for soup (which I'll probably write about tomorrow). Some of what you see here will also be turned into stuffing for our Thanksgiving meal so stay tuned.

Since we were snacking again today on some more of Darlene's oatmeal peanut butter cookies dinner was just a salad and sandwiches on some of the fresh bread. Our sandwiches were pretty simple - soy turkey, lettuce and veganaise. We try not to overdo it with processed convenience foods, but sometimes they're, well, convenient.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A good day for soup

45 degrees and raining today in Charlottesville so that made me think about soup for dinner. Here's how I made a pretty simple split pea soup:

1 medium onion, diced
1 large stalk celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups water
1 veg. boullion cube
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
1 cup dried green split peas, rinsed
1 large yukon gold potato, diced into bite sized pieces
1 tsp. liquid smoke

Saute onion, celery and carrots in olive oil with a little salt and pepper until they start getting soft. Add garlic and cook about 1 min. more. Add marjoram, bay leaf, water, veg. boullion, split peas, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered until split peas are just getting soft, about 45-60 min. Add potato and liquid smoke and continue to simmer until potato is tender, about 10 min. more. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

We had this with toast from some whole grain bread I made a couple weeks ago and had in the freezer and started with a small salad.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Quick Curry

And a quick post. Wanted to do something fairly quick and easy for dinner and we had a head of cauliflower in the fridge so I turned it into a curry with some other ingredients we had on hand.

1 medium onion, diced
garlic and ginger to taste, finely minced
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large yukon gold potato, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 Tsp. curry powder
1 can lite coconut milk
1/3 c. soy creamer
1 can chickpeas, rinsed

Saute onion in a little oil over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 min. more. Add curry powder and cook for a few seconds, then add cauliflower, potato, coconut milk and creamer and stir well. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until cauliflower and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook for about 1 min. more until chickpeas are heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice (or whatever other grain you like).

Sourdough Banana Pancakes

I'm planning on baking bread in a day or two and I started feeding my sourdough starter yesterday. If you've baked sourdough bread you know that you often end up with a lot of starter left over. Here's a recipe (slightly modified) from Nancy Silverton's Breads From the La Brea Bakery. This is a great book and I highly recommend it if you're interested in sourdough. This book got me started a few years ago and I love it. It can be a little intimidating (the basic bread recipe in this book goes on for about 15 pages), but I've done fine with it and I'm certainly no gourmet baker.

You can usually find a copy of the book used on ebay. There are also tons of web sites dedicated to sourdough though I don't know of a particular one to recommend - just google "sourdough bread". If you happen to have a starter or you get into it and make one, here's something you can do with the leftovers:

1 1/2 c. sourdough starter (assuming you have a wet starter)
1 very ripe banana
2 Tbs. canola oil
2 Tbs. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

Mash banana in a large bowl, then mix in the oil and maple syrup. Mix in starter, then add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cook in a skillet or griddle as you would with any other pancakes.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Cashew Butter Sandwiches

Tonight was a quick dinner since we filled up this afternoon on these absolutely delicious Oatmeal Peanut Butter cookies Darlene made (another awesome recipe from Vegan With a Vengeance). There's this recipe on the PPK web site that's a little similar, but if you want the recipe we used go buy the book!

Back to dinner... last month we went to the Green Valley Book Fair, which we had heard has tons of books for really cheap. Well, that's true, but they're mostly older and/or less popular books. Their cookbook section was decidedly mainstream, but we did pick up Moby's "teany book" for 4 bucks. It has stories and recipes from his cafe called teany, and was definitely well worth it at that price.

So dinner tonight was a salad similar to a couple of nights ago and these sandwiches from teany book (thanks Moby!):

We used a light wheat bread and spread cashew butter generously on one slice and apple butter on the other slice. On the cashew butter side put about a quarter of a large banana, sliced and on the apple butter side drizzle about a half teaspoon of maple syrup. Put together, spread margarine on both sides and grill in a skillet over medium heat until nice and brown on both sides. Oh, and make more than one because once you've had one you'll definitely want another.

Here's what ours looked like...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Submit to the Dynasty

Went to our favorite Chinese restaurant tonight, Ming Dynasty. They had new T-shirts that said "Submit to the Dynasty" on the back. Might have to get one...

Anyway, Darlene was driving by Ming Dynasty a few days ago and commented that we hadn't been there in a while. There have been a few new veg-friendly restaurant offerings in our humble little town lately (which I'm sure we'll address in due time), but Ming is still one of our favorites. It was actually the first place I ate in Charlottesville when I came here for my job interview.

When I first became vegetarian about 10 years ago I did so somewhat gradually. I had finally gotten to the point where I was eating almost no meat, but I was on a work trip in eastern North Carolina and eating dinner at a Chinese buffet with maybe 2 veggie options. They also had Sesame Chicken on the buffet and I just had to have some - I love Chinese food and I really loved sesame chicken. Well, that was the last time I ate meat, but after that I was on a quest to find a good veggie alternative. Enter Ming Dynasty. Not only do they have Sesame Vegetarian Chicken (made with soy), but an entire menu full of Chinese favorites made with veggies and/or soy & wheat based meat alternatives. Darlene had the Sweet & Sour Vegetarian Meatballs and we shared. These "meatballs" are made with soy and veggies and quickly deep-fried so they're crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. To die for. They were actually named by one of our alternative weeklies as one of the best tastes in Charlottesville. Oh, and another thing we like about Ming is that you can get brown rice instead of white. Much better for you. And more tasty I think.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A big salad with a simple asian-style dressing

Sometimes when we cook we have a lot left over. Usually that's what's for lunch the next day. Tonight it was what's for dinner. We had still had some of the stroganoff from last night so we had some of that along with a big salad (remember the Seinfeld episode with the big salad? ours probably isn't like that one but I just like saying big salad.) Now I don't want to enforce the stereotype that vegans are a bunch of salad-eating hippies, but sometimes we do like a salad.

The fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from our garden are gone (wah!) so we had a big bowl full of a mix of romaine and red leaf lettuce with carrots, a couple of mushrooms that didn't make it into last night's dinner, a small handful of slivered almonds and a handful of chickpeas.

Then for the really easy tasty dressing: a generous drizzle of toasted sesame oil, a healthy splash of rice vinegar and a couple of dashes of soy sauce.

Great Granola and a typical workday breakfast

During the week my typical breakfast is probably not much different than a lot of non-vegans: cereal. Only mine is eaten with soy milk. I like about half a bowl of Flax Plus so I get some good Omega 3s and half of something else. And a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice (one answer to another common question, "Do you get enough calcium?")

This morning I finished off the last of a batch of granola I made last week. I had never made granola before until I discovered this great recipe from Alton Brown on the Food Network. Yeah, we're Food Network junkies, taking whatever vegan crumbs they throw our way. I really like Alton Brown's show Good Eats, well except when he's doing something stupid like the beef jerkey show from the other night.

Anyway, back to the granola. If you've never made it before, give it a try (and even if you have made it try the recipe above). It's really easy and well, good eats. If you want to jazz it up, try using dried blueberries instead of the raisins.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Seitan Portobello Stroganoff

I recently discovered the Post Punk Kitchen site and it totally rocks as does the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook that's recently come out. We've tried several recipes from this book lately and so far they're all awesome. This stroganoff recipe we made for dinner tonight is in the book and also on the PPK web site here. We splurged and stopped by our local pasta maker Mona Lisa Pasta and got some fresh-made wild mushroom fettuccine to have with the stroganoff. At 4 bucks a pound this fresh pasta is not something we get all that often but is sure does taste good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Greetings

This is for anyone who's ever asked me "What do you eat?", especially a particular nurse in Tempe, Arizona.

Let me explain. In 2001 we were living in Tempe and my appendix ruptured and I spent 13 days in the hospital. There's a lot more to that story, but here's the relevant part. For probably half that time I couldn't eat solid food, but when I could start eating I immediately realized that as a vegan, the hospital had almost nothing for me. So Darlene would go down the street to the local co-op and bring me food. Most of the nurses there understood and many were interested in hearing more about our diet. One particular nurse though was incredulous and when we tried to explain our diet she said, "What do you eat, air?"

I should've explained to her that she might want to check out that rather large section of the grocery store called Produce, but I was too drugged at the time and I let it go.

Now let's eat.