Sunday, February 25, 2007


This meal started with fixing our ancient bread machine. It's probably 10 years old but we still used it occasionally until it quit working last year. A week or so ago Darlene finally took the initiative to take the thing apart and she realized that it was simply a case of a broken belt. We found a new belt on-line for 8 bucks and vóila, we now have a working bread machine again. We do like to make bread from scratch but the machine is nice sometimes too. Especially for making dough, which is often what we use it for. Just throw in all the ingredients and walk away. This weekend we started with making cinnamon rolls, and after that we threw together a pizza dough recipe. We planned on making calzones but then I found a stromboli recipe in Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson and we decided that was more interesting - and also slightly easier to make. I didn't end up using that recipe but that's what gave me the idea. I had never looked much at this book before but I found a copy in the library this weekend and checked it out. Maybe I never looked through it before because I was intimidated by the size of it (it's pretty fat), but just flipping through it for a few minutes in the library I found several recipes I'd like to try so I bet it'll show up here again.

But back to the stromboli. Which is essentially a rolled up pizza. I sautéed onion, red bell pepper, yellow squash, mushrooms and garlic in olive oil, threw in a little veg. sausage, then a few chopped canned tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. I seasoned it with salt & pepper, crushed red pepper, basil and oregano. The I rolled the pizza dough out into a big rectangle, spread the filling on top, rolled it up and baked it at 400° for 30 minutes. I didn't seal it well enough and it started coming apart in the oven but still it tasted pretty good.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Deconstructed Sushi

I think that's just a fancy way of saying I was too lazy to roll sushi so I threw all the ingredients on a plate and called it dinner. I started by cooking some brown rice, and when that was done I mixed in a couple of chopped up nori sheets along with a splash of rice vinegar and a few drops of chili oil. A few mounds of the rice mixture went on the plate and one was topped with carrots and cucumber, another with avocado, and another with shiitake mushrooms. The avocado was mixed with a dash of rice vinegar as well, along with a pinch of salt. And the shiitakes were steamed briefly in a soy sauce/water mixture. Some chopped scallions went on top of everything and the obligatory soy sauce and wasabi found their way onto the plate as well. Purists will scoff but it did taste a lot like sushi. Only without all the fuss.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Back to the Basics

But sometimes the basics are good. Like when there's a comforting soup ready and waiting for you when you get home. Darlene mostly followed the recipe in The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas for this Lentil Barley Soup. We're really into barley in soups lately - it brings a nice added flavor and texture to the party. The rest was well, basic. Onions, carrots, celery, garlic, lentils, veg. boullion, water, and seasoned with bay leaves and salt & pepper. We had it with a little fresh parsley on top and some pumpernickel bread on the side and it really hit the spot.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fun Food and Five Things

It was a weekend for "fun" foods, which I suppose started with Saturday night's Buffalo Seitan. I guess I was inspired by this Buffalo Tofu I had just read about. We've done similar things in the past but this was probably the best so far. Pretty simple too. We started with the Jay-Lo Fried "Chicken" from La Dolce Vegan - seitan breaded with seasoned flour and pan fried until crispy. Then we just made a sauce with about 2 Tbs. each margarine and hot sauce and poured that over the seitan. Holy yum! We also had Dreena's Chipotle Yam Wedges on the side, which I saw Laura make recently and decided that I had to try. Only we didn't have chipotle hot sauce so instead I used Pickapeppa Sauce which is one of my favorites. It has a medium heat level and is flavored with tamarind which I figured would pair well with the yams. We rounded it out with a little kale but that wasn't the star of the plate.

Next up, would you believe we made something called Lardy Cake? We have a cookbook with bread recipes from around the world and Darlene kept eyeing this recipe for a traditional English fruit bread made with lard. Since we all know that in addition to being NOT VEGAN, lard is totally gross, she instead used Earth Balance margarine and dubbed it Margey Cake. She cut back on the fat and made a few other tweaks and the result was delicious. Kind of like a cinnamon raisin bread with the addition of diced dried apples and apricots. Very good toasted for breakfast or just as a snack.

Finally, Sunday night's dinner was Tempeh Reubens from Vegan with a Vengeance. We've written about these before and they were just as good as last time. Marinated tempeh on pumpernickel bread with thousand island dressing, sauerkraut, avocado and dill pickles. Quite a satisfying dinner.

Finally, I was tagged by Vanessa to list five things you didn't know about me. I had a hard time coming up with things that I thought were at least semi-interesting but here goes.

1. My 15 minutes of fame came when I was 15 years old and my friends and I built a skateboard ramp on the side of my house. Soon after that, the city told us to take the ramp down because it was illegal. My mom, being the radical that she is, wanted to teach me that you can fight city hall and, long story short, we took the city to court and won. At that time the town I grew up in was fairly small and this kind of thing was newsworthy so my picture was in the paper and there were several articles during the course of the legal fight. Of course the legal wrangling took so long that by the time of our victory my friends and I had built a bigger and better ramp in the woods near someone else's house and we soon took down the ramp at my house that caused all the hubub.

2. I grew up surfing and skating and took up snowboarding in college. I've dabbled in wakeboarding too, but I have a hard time with anything that requires each foot to move independently. In-line skating, water skiing, snow skiing, forget it. I just learned to ice skate about 2 years ago and it wasn't pretty. I finally got to where I could make my way around the rink without falling down but that's about the best I can say.

3. I sometimes say that Virginia is the coldest climate I've lived in but that's not entirely true since I was born in Saratoga Springs, NY. It's just that my family moved to Florida before I was old enough to remember New York.

4. I have bachelors and masters degrees in engineering but I've never worked as an engineer. After graduate school I got a job doing GIS and I've never looked back. (If you said "Huh?", follow the link.)

5. Speaking of school, here's one from both of us. Darlene and I met in graduate school. When I started, the professors I worked for had just received a bunch of new hardware and software from Intergraph for a project I'd be working on. They told me there was another student I should meet who used to work for Intergraph. Not only did I meet her, I married her.

Now... who to tag next? This one has been going around for a while so apologies if you've already been tagged and I missed it.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Tempeh-Peanut Wraps

I had a vague idea about what I wanted to do with this but it didn't really come together until I was in the middle of making it. I took the lazy route and just tossed some chopped tempeh, sweet potatoes and red kale all together in a pot, covered with water and simmered until the sweet potatoes were tender. Then I drained all that stuff and cooked some diced onion in peanut oil in the same pot, then added minced ginger and garlic, and finally the cooked tempeh, sweet potatoes and kale. I tossed that all around a bit then added a sauce I made from peanut butter, lemon juice, soy sauce, agave and coriander. We had this concoction with brown rice on tortillas and it was quite satisfying. There's something I like about mixing sweet potatoes with tempeh and I figure you can't go wrong with a peanut sauce.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentines Day

For my valentine tonight I made Ginger-Sesame Portobellos with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes and steamed green beans. Dessert was a simple vanilla pudding with fresh raspberries. I pulled out a back issue of Vegetarian Times for the portobello/wasabi mashed potato ideas. For the 'shrooms, marinate 4 portobello caps for half an hour or so in a mixture of minced fresh garlic (2 cloves) and ginger (1 Tbs.), 1 Tbs. tahini, 1/2 c. tamari, 1/3 c. sesame oil, 1 Tbs. brown sugar and 3 Tbs. white wine (I actually used rice vinegar). Then remove from marinade and cook in peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side. Slice each mushroom on the bias and serve with the reserved marinade. I put the marinade in the pan to heat it up and cook it down slightly. It went well over the taters too. Those I made by peeling, chopping and boiling some Yukon gold potatoes, then mashing them with rice milk, sesame oil, salt and a little wasabi. Ever since we made sushi I'd been wondering what else to do with that tube of wasabi we bought and it sure does go good with mashed potatoes.

For dessert, I splurged and got some fresh raspberries and I layered them in a glass with vanilla pudding (we posted the recipe for the pudding here). We also had some vanilla frosting left from a cupcake adventure yesterday so I put a dollop of that on top and drizzled on some agave to finish it off.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Seitan Sauerbraten

When I was growing up, my German grandmother would often make sauerbraten and it was always served with potato dumplings that I couldn't get enough of. Unfortunately I wasn't so interested in cooking in those days and I never got to cook with my grandmother and learn any of her recipes. (Though I do remember one time - when I had come home from college maybe - that I helped her roll the dumplings and I just couldn't do it quite like she did.) Fast forward many years, but still a few years ago, and I happened upon a Tempeh Sauerbraten recipe in Very Vegetarian. I went to our local international foods store and found the same Bavarian potato dumpling boxed mix that my grandmother used and I tried the Tempeh Sauerbraten recipe. It was good but not quite what I was looking for.

On a more recent trip to the same store I picked up another of the potato dumpling mixes and figured I'd give the sauerbraten another go at some point. That box had been sitting in the cabinet for a while but I was inspired recently when I saw an episode of Good Eats about vinegar, and a large part of the episode was devoted to sauerbraten. Translated, sauerbraten basically means "marinated beef" and there's always lots of vinegar involved, and often red wine too. In the end the marinade is sweetened and thickened with crushed ginger snaps, creating a nice sweet and sour gravy. For cooking my seitan version I even used a wooden spoon (or kochlöffel) that used to belong to my grandmother. I don't know what she'd think of my vegan creation, but Darlene and I thought it was great. And the potato dumplings really brought me back. Though the next time I do this I think I'll come up with a scratch recipe for the dumplings because the box mix has artificial flavors and some preservatives I could do without. Still, everything was scrumptious - especially with some red cabbage on the side.

Seitan Sauerbraten

(adapted from Sarah Kramer and Alton Brown)

1 c. gluten flour
3/4 c. water

for the broth:
3 c. water
1/2 c. red wine
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 Tbs. vegan worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. ground sage
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns, crushed slightly

for the gravy:
reserved broth
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. crushed ginger cookies

Combine all the broth ingredients in a medium stockpot. Mix together the gluten and water in a large bowl and knead for about 5 minutes. Cut into 6-8 equal pieces and add to the broth mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover (leave the lid slightly ajar). Simmer for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Now remove the seitan from the broth, place in a baking dish and bake at 350° for 30 minutes, turning once half way through. Meanwhile, strain the broth and add 1 1/2 cups to a small saucepan (add water if you end up with less than that). Add sugar, vinegar and crushed ginger snaps, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Cut the baked seitan into slices and serve with the gravy.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Split Pea Soup

It passed 40 degrees here today for the first time in over a week but still, it's good soup weather. We've done similar things before, but this split pea soup I threw together mostly from Nava Atlas' Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons. It's got some curry powder in there and also a little barley which is really a nice addition. The barley brings some texture to the bowl and also increases the health factor just a bit over adding potatoes like I often do.

We were content with a light dinner after having a large (and late) lunch at Sammy T's in Fredericksburg. We participated in the American tradition today of driving a couple hours to go shopping, in this case looking for a few things at Ikea. Though we left there without spending too much money which is always good. Anyway, if you're ever in the neighborhood Sammy T's is worth checking out as they have quite a few vegan options clearly marked on their menu. I can't say I'd recommend the fries, but both Darlene's tempeh burger and my spinach wrap were quite good. Oh, and if you're looking for the non-smoking section you need to go in a separate entrance around the side. We didn't realize that until after we'd already eaten in the bar area, but the air was fairly clear where we were so no worries. And we were reminded once again that though Charlottesville has some decent options for eating out, there's nothing quite like this here and that's a shame. Really, how hard is it to have a few vegan options and label them as such on your menu?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

White Bean Soup with Kale

Speaking of the Food Network (and their love for chicken stock) here's another recipe we decided to try after catching it on Dave Lieberman's show. Replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock and you're good to go. For the crostini we used slices of the rosemary bread I made this weekend and just the soup and bread made quite a satisfying meal.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately depending on your viewpoint), our Food Network watching days are over for a while. I don't want to incriminate us, but let's just say that we canceled our cable quite a while ago but it was never disconnected - until this past weekend. In our defense, we did tell Adelphia to cancel on four separate occasions. Now that Comcast has taken over it seems they're at least slightly less clueless. At any rate, we'll see how long we can go without our Rachael Ray fix ;-)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Weekend Roundup

Well we did it again. Veganizing Rachael Ray that is. I won't do the spiel this time but we flipped over to the Food Network one evening last week and Rayray was making gnocchi with a celery salad. Darlene loves celery in her salads and you know how much we love gnocchi so we had to do it. Ms. Ray's recipe for the gnocchi used chicken meatballs; we just did the chicken-style seitan from La Dolce Vegan and divided it into very small pieces before boiling it then baking it. I also added some leftover sun-dried tomato pesto to the seitan dough to perk up the meatballs a little. They weren't quite nice and round but still yummy.

For the celery salad, we mostly followed her recipe but obviously left out the anchovies. (Don't you hate it when you see someone on the Food Network making something that's otherwise vegan but then they ruin it by adding something stupid like anchovies?)

Something else Darlene and I did together this weekend was make pretzels - a first for both of us. We found the recipe in a glossy bread cookbook I got for Christmas last year and they came out really nice. They didn't quite brown up nice and glossy without the egg wash but still they tasted great. At first they weren't so good the next day but we found that putting them in the toaster revived them quite nicely.

I also made some rosemary-olive oil bread this weekend and for dinner tonight we finally tried Dreena's Lemon-Herb Tofu and it was excellent. We had it with steamed green beans and some of the aforementioned bread but we were in too much of a hurry to eat so no picture of that.