Thursday, August 30, 2007

Moroccan Stew

First an update on Simon. He's doing better and eating more on his own now (as opposed to us having to feed him with a syringe). Mostly he's been sleeping, which is probably what he needs right now. Thanks to everyone who has sent their thoughts his way.

Every so often I still dig out the first vegetarian cookbook we ever bought - The Meatless Gourmet - Favorite Recipes from Around the World by Bobbie Hinman (which has since been re-published with a new title - The Vegetarian Gourmet's Easy International Recipes). This was a recipe we hadn't tried before but for some reason I wanted couscous and this stew was the perfect accompaniment.

2 tsp. olive oil
1 diced onion
1 diced bell pepper
2 sliced carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. each allspice, ground ginger, turmeric and salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. water
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/4" dice
3 large diced tomatoes
1/2 c. raisins
2 c. cooked chickpeas

Cook onion in oil for a few minutes, add carrots and bell pepper and cook a few minutes more, then add garlic and spices and cook another minute or two. Add remaining ingredients, stir well, then cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Molasses Marinated Tofu with Greens

As Yogi Berra once said, it's like deja vu all over again. So again I find myself explaining that while I like to stay focused on the food, I'm preoccupied with thoughts of our sick kitty cat. Simon has just come home after several days in the hospital. He was diagnosed with pancreatitis but not before he had surgery for what was initially thought to be an intestinal obstruction. This has happened almost exactly a year after our sweet Violet first had to be hospitalized. Less than three months later she was gone but we're hoping and praying that fate wouldn't be so cruel as to take two of our sweeties from us in less than a year. Simon is not even 8 years old and he's a big strong guy; and there's a good chance this was merely an acute flare-up and he'll be all better soon. It's possible it could be a more chronic problem but hopefully one he can live with for a good long time. He's been doing well since he came home so maybe he's turning the corner.

And it's a minor thing in comparison but on top of all that our camera just went kaput. I took tonight's dinner shot with a borrowed camera but there may be fewer pictures here for a while. It's possible we may be able to get our camera repaired for free (which would be a good thing given our vet bills) but even if that's the case I imagine it'll take several weeks.

Well now on to dinner I guess...

We have a folder where we keep various recipes we've clipped out of newspapers, magazines, etc. and I was just poking through it when I came upon a molasses marinade recipe we hadn't tried before. It was a newspaper clipping but the original source is Still Life with Menu by Mollie Katzen. Now Ms. Katzen is not very veg. friendly these days, but this particular marinade recipe is simple and good. For a pound of tofu, mix 1/4 c. cider vinegar, 2 Tbs. soy sauce, 2 Tbs. molasses, 4 minced cloves of garlic and several grinds of black pepper. Stir until well combined then pour over slices of tofu and marinate overnight. From here you could grill the tofu, bake it or just fry it in a pan like I did. On the side were some collard greens, cooked in my favorite way of late: Cut a bunch of collards into about 1/2" dice, steam for about 25 minutes, then mix in 1 Tbs. lemon juice, 1 Tbs. agave, 1/2 tsp. Spike seasoning and 1/4 tsp. salt (if using the salt-free Spike).

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pasta with Eggplant and Green Beans

See the eggplant in this picture? Right. That's how I like my eggplant - roasted 'til soft and smashed into oblivion. So I halved a big eggplant, drizzled on some olive oil, sprinkled on salt & pepper, and popped it into a 400° oven until it was mush. Once it was cool enough to handle I sautéed onion and garlic in olive oil then I scooped the eggplant out of its skin into the pan. Next in went diced tomatoes, salt & pepper, paprika and fresh purple basil from our garden. I mixed all that stuff together well then added whole wheat pasta and green beans that I put in with the boiling pasta for a few minutes. And finally I sprinkled toasted pine nuts on top.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Soup, Salad and Breadsticks

No it's not the Olive Garden. Maybe we stole their idea but this is better because it's all vegan. There was plenty of corn chowder left over from last night and we figured we could just have that again for dinner with maybe a salad for starters. But then I thought breadsticks would be good too so I made a basic pizza dough and rolled out a baking sheet full 'o stix. I brushed a little olive oil on top of them and then sprinkled on nutritional yeast plus a mixture of salt, paprika and garlic powder. So yummy... must do these again soon...

The salad was another one of my monster creations, with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, chickpeas, slivered almonds and nasturtium flowers. And when I looked up the corn chowder recipe on the farm bureau web site I also found a simple recipe for a Dijon mustard vinaigrette that was great on the monster salad.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Corn Chowder

We don't have cable but sometimes out of habit we turn on the TV and flip through the 6 or so channels that we do get and see what's on. This afternoon on the local PBS station we happened upon a show called Down Home Virginia which is put out by the farm bureau and reports on agricultural news. Not a place I'd expect to find a vegan recipe but bear with me. Apparently they always do a cooking segment on this show and that segment happened to be starting as we were trolling through the channels. Our interest was piqued when the chef started making a corn chowder, especially when he said it would be vegetarian. But nothing could have prepared us for what happened next. As he was adding heavy cream to the chowder he says, "now if you want to make this vegan just use soy milk instead and use more olive oil instead of the butter."

I just about fell out of my chair. But corn chowder sounded good and it just so happened that we picked up fresh corn and cherry tomatoes from the farmers market yesterday. So we made Chef Maxwell's corn chowder and also some breaded and fried seitan on the side. If you could package up summer and serve it in a bowl, that's what this chowder tasted like, what with the fresh corn, tomatoes and basil. The recipe is available on-line and so is the video clip so you can watch it for yourself if you want. (Note that the printed recipe calls for chicken stock but in the video he used vegetable stock. There are other slight differences between the print and video versions too but either way it's good.)

And in sticking with the summer theme, we jumped on the bandwagon and made Susan's Peach Upside-Down Cake for dessert (served with vanilla So Delicious). Her pictures are much better but I snapped one so I figured I'd include it. The only slight modification I made was to cut back on the sugar just a bit because these white peaches we got from the market yesterday were outrageously sweet already. Almost to the point of not being peachy but instead like you're biting into a sugar bomb. Almost. But just peachy enough to make this one yummy dessert.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Easy Enchiladas

Got half a bag of old tortilla chips? Spread 'em in a shallow baking dish, pour in enough enchilada sauce to coat all the chips, top with your favorite mock cheese, sprinkle some diced onions on top, then bake at 250° for 25 minutes. When it comes out sprinkle chopped fresh tomatoes and shredded romaine lettuce on top (and some soy sour cream if you've got it).

I got this idea from The Imus Ranch: Cooking for Kids and Cowboys (more on this book in a minute). I made my own not-very-authentic-but-still-good enchilada sauce from veggie broth, fresh tomatoes and lots of chili powder, among other things (sort of like I mentioned here). I also used the Nacho Cheeze Sauce from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. We love the Nacho Cheeze recipe and it's a lot cheaper and less processed than using soy cheese. Speaking of which, though The Imus Ranch cookbook sort of claims to be a vegan one, many recipes call for soy cheese. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just that we don't buy the stuff all that often (after all, it certainly ain't cheap). We checked out this book from the library a long time ago but I don't think we ended up making anything from it. Then recently we found it for 5 bucks at a discount book store so we got a copy. It's mostly sat on our shelf since then but it does have some interesting recipes in it (like this one). I'd call it a vegetarian cookbook more than a vegan one because so many recipes call for soy cheese (and quite a few call for eggs too), but the price was right so now it's been added to our growing cookbook collection. (Did I use enough parentheses in this post?)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pizza Pizza

I'm not sure where it came from but I had a hankering for pineapple on a pizza. We had sauce left over from the calzones and when we stopped at Trader Joe's this weekend we picked up some of their prepared whole wheat pizza dough. I figured some kind of vegan sausage would go well with the pineapple, plus we're getting bell peppers in our garden and one of those also made a nice addition. I winged it and came up with my own chickpea sausage recipe (which I've already posted). I also split the dough and used about 3/4 of it for a larger dinner pizza and the rest for a smaller dessert pizza. The dinner pizza I cooked in a cast iron skillet and it had the aforementioned sauce, then some crumbled chickpea sausage, then crushed pineapple and finally some bell pepper slices.

And the dessert pizza was cooked with just Tofutti cream cheese as the base and crushed pineapple on top. Then when it came out of the oven it was garnished with chopped fresh mint and powdered sugar.

Chickpea Sausage Patties

Though I made these to crumble up and put on a pizza, they'll be great for brunch too. They're sort of an amalgamation of several different recipes from Vegan with a Vengeance, Cooking with PETA and La Dolce Vegan. At first I tried to avoid using the TVP but it brings some texture to the party so I ended up adding it. They still turned out a little soft but they sure did taste good.

1/2 c. TVP granules soaked for 5-10 min. in 1/3 c. boiling water
1 1/2 c. cooked chickpeas
2 Tbs. Bragg's (or soy sauce)
1 Tbs. vegan worcestershire
2 Tbs. canola oil plus more for frying
1 tsp. liquid smoke
2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten

In a large bowl, mash chickpeas with a potato masher or fork until there are no more whole chickpeas left. Stir in all remaining ingredients except wheat gluten. Now add the gluten and mix vigorously for a minute or so. Form into 10-12 patties and fry in a little canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until nice and brown on both sides.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Noodle Bowls

This was a bit of an experiment but one that turned out well. Often when we find ourselves in Richmond we eat at Sticky Rice, a different sort of sushi bar. They've got some good vegan sushi, but we usually also have their "Dirty Vegan" noodle bowl. You can get it with udon or soba noodles and it's chock full of tofu and veggies in a coconut based sauce. Every time we have it we say, "we should really make this at home!" Now we finally have. Tonight I was just experimenting but maybe one day soon I'll write down a recipe to share. The more general description goes like this:

First of all, it dawned on me that the only way to make the nice crispy-on-the-outside tofu triangles that you often get in Thai restaurants is to deep fry the tofu. So I started by doing just that - with excellent results. Then I stir fried broccoli, onions and carrots in a little peanut oil, then added frozen bell pepper strips (since that was all we had) and also frozen edamame. Next I added fresh ginger, then coconut milk, soy sauce, Thai basil and a little Thai curry paste. And finally the fried tofu. While all that was happening I was cooking udon noodles, which got mixed in with everything else at the end. Then I served it in bowls with chopped peanuts sprinkled on top.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


We've written about calzones on more than one occasion. Usually we sort of make up our own recipe but this time I decided to try the Vegan Lunch Box recipe. For the calzone/pizza dough she uses a food processor, which seemed to be a quicker method so I thought I'd give it a try. The dough came out great and was indeed a bit less fuss than kneading by hand, though for everything to come together it still took quite a while. As Jennifer suggests, we filled our calzones with broccoli (that had been steamed a bit first) and a tofu ricotta mixture. I also made a version of her Sneaky Momma's Tomato Sauce, so named because of the addition of kale and other veggies. I actually used collards but either way it gives the sauce a good nutrition boost.

I mentioned that it took a while to make all this but that's OK since we ended up with 8 big calzones. We ate half for dinner last night and then we had something substantial to bring for lunch today when we went to a bike race (and we still have some sauce left). Finding vegan food while traveling can be a challenge so it's nice to be able to bring your own. I came home with a full belly and also with another state championship medal, albeit another silver one. Not quite the color I was hoping for but I'll take it.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Seitan and Vegetables with Tomato Couscous

Here's another Vegetarian Times change-up. In fact it's from the page opposite the waffle sandwich recipe. Unlike the waffle recipe, this one started out vegan but I still tweaked it a bit. The original recipe combines marinated artichoke hearts, tofu, carrots, leeks and garlic (seasoned with black pepper and cumin) and serves that mixture over couscous that's cooked with canned diced tomatoes.

Sounded simple and delicious but since I just made a big batch of seitan over the weekend I swapped that for the tofu. And instead of the marinated artichoke hearts I used a can of artichoke bottoms. So what's your canned artichoke preference, hearts or bottoms? We've been getting the canned artichoke bottoms quite a bit lately and I think we like them better than the hearts. Of course nothing beats a fresh artichoke but that's slightly less convenient.

But back to our dinner... Since there wasn't any artichoke marinade to mix in with the rest of the veggies I just added a little of the seitan cooking broth and some extra olive oil. The other alteration I made was using fresh tomatoes in the couscous just because it's that time of year. In the end it was all good, the savory seitan meshing nicely with the sweet carrots and artichokes.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pressed Waffle Sandwiches

We got this idea from the latest Vegetarian Times, though it turned out to be nothing like their recipe which uses freezer waffles, store-bought soy sausage and cheese, among other things. Still, the idea was a good one so I came up with a plan to put my personal touch on it. I started with making the Mock Sausage patties from Cooking with PETA. We've made these once or twice before and they're excellent. Next I made some plain waffles using the recipe in Very Vegetarian that I've written about before (minus the sugar). Then I assembled the sandwiches - Tofutti cream cheese, sausage patties, baby spinach and avocado. Finally, I grilled each sandwich for a few minutes on each side in a cast iron skillet with a little margarine and as that was happening I pressed another hot skillet down on top of the sandwich. On the side was more avocado and a little sautéed zucchini but the sandwich was the star. These things were so good we kept eating them even after we were stuffed. A whole sandwich for me and a half for Darlene were plenty, but then we took a short break and split the other half. We'd been thinking for a while about doing some kind of savory dinner with waffles and this certainly fit the bill.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Sweet and Sour Veggie Stir-Fry

I could probably have been more original but when I looked in the fridge and saw that the main veggies we needed to use up were cabbage and bell peppers, the first thing I thought of was a stir fry. It needed to be quick too since we were heading downtown this evening to catch a good local band. And what's quicker than a stir-fry? I poked around on the internets and this recipe for sweet & sour tofu sounded good so I used the same sauce but with different veggies. So in addition to the cabbage and pepper I also added carrots, zucchini and seitan. I also used fresh ginger and left the powdered stuff out of the sauce. Not the best meal I've had but the sauce was good and it came together in a hurry.