Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Carob Fruit Bars

Having run out of Clif bars and not wanting to spend the money to buy more at the moment, I set about looking for a recipe for some kind of vaguely similar homemade snack bar. Then it hit me: Darlene's Carob Fruit Bars! She created this recipe long before we met but we made it quite often when we first got together. It's been a very long time since we made it but I found a tattered copy of the recipe in the back of our recipe folder. We made a few updates as we went but they came out to be quite tasty and also brought back some memories. These contain dried apples and raisins but you could use any dried fruit and/or add some nuts too. I'm thinking maybe next time we'll throw in some dried cranberries and chopped walnuts too. But here's the recipe as it stands now:

1/2 c. hot water
1/2 c. golden raisins
1/2 c. chopped dried apple

2 c. rolled oats
1 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. turbinado sugar
1/2 c. apple sauce
1/4 c. canola oil
2 Tbs. ground flax seeds
3 Tbs. water
1/2 c. carob chips

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly coat a shallow 8" x 11" baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a small bowl combine the hot water, raisins and apples and set aside for 5-10 minutes. In a large bowl mix together the oats, flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. In a medium bowl combine the apple sauce, oil, flax and water and mix well. Add the apple sauce mixture and the dried fruit and soaking water to the dry ingredients and mix just until everything is moistened. The mixture will be fairly stiff. Fold in the carob chips, spread into the baking dish and press lightly. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely then cut into squares.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Veggie Burgers and Cupcake Mania

We went to a family gathering yesterday and although Darlene's mom tries to be accommodating as far as food goes, we usually end up bringing at least some of our own food on such occasions. Since burgers were on the menu we decided to make our own veggie burgers. Since I haven't made bread in quite a while this was also a perfect occasion to try a recipe for burger buns I just saw in the Washington Post. I don't think I've ever made buns like this before and I was a bit apprehensive about whether they'd come out good, but in the end they were excellent. I definitely recommend this recipe; they're way better than anything you buy in a plastic bag.For the veggie burgers I turned to a back issue of Vegetarian Times and a recipe for Tempeh-Walnut Burgers. In addition to the namesake ingredients, there was also Dijon mustard, soy sauce, onion, garlic, celery, fresh rosemary and kalamata olives in there. They held together very well on our grill pan and tasted fabulous on the fresh buns with some horseradish spiked vegan mayo, lettuce and tomato.

And as we often do, we brought cupcakes for dessert. Darlene started with the Apricot-Glazed Almond cuppers from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and they were so good she decided to make another batch. We had some leftover pumpkin in the fridge so she went with the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cinnamon Icing. Like a mini pumpkin pie that you hold in your hand. Sooo good...

Finally, Darlene's sister Kristen, though not vegan, is also getting in on the cupcake action since we got her a copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World for her birthday. She just sent us pictures of her latest creations, Raspberry Vanilla, and Peanut Butter Cupcakes. Yum!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tempeh with Orange-Ginger Sauce

The vegan cookbook selection at our library is a little bit lacking but today we did find a copy of The Millennium Cookbook. I decided that we hadn't had tempeh in a while so I flipped through the book looking for a relatively simple tempeh recipe and settled on this one. Incidentally, there are some simple recipes in this book but also some very involved ones, which I guess is what you'd expect from a restaurant as renowned as Millennium.

At any rate, here the tempeh is crusted with an herb/flour mixture, pan fried and served with an excellent sauce made with orange juice, onion, garlic, tamari, capers, crushed red pepper and fresh ginger (and also orange segments but I left those out rather than running to the store to buy an orange). The sauce is reduced on the stove top for a bit then thickened further with cornstarch. On the side we had steamed broccoli and brown rice, jazzed up slightly with onion, carrot and vegetable stock. Everything was scrumptious and it's a rare occasion when we have the traditional protein, starch and vegetable all on one plate.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Koftas

This is a recipe we used to make on occasion but hadn't done in quite a while. And it's from a cookbook we haven't had out in quite a while too, Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven. I cooked a big batch of chickpeas over the weekend and we had sweet potatoes on hand so I though of this recipe. Long story short, cook a medium sweet potato then mix it in a food processor with 1 1/2 c. chickpeas, 1 clove garlic, 2 scallions, 2 tsp. cumin seed, 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger, 1 tsp. salt and 2 Tbs. lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl then add 6 Tbs. flour and 1 c. peas. Form into patties (they'll be a little soft) and fry in a little olive oil until brown on both sides. I remember serving these with some sort of coconut curry sauce in the past but this time I went with a modified version of the suggested Mediterranean Yogurt, also from Vegetable Heaven. I mixed garlic, fresh herbs (mint, dill, parsley, thyme & chives), golden raisins, a couple of dried apricots, and walnuts together in the food processor then mixed that together with a container of plain soy yogurt. Not something I would've thought about doing but it was very good with these patties - especially refreshing with the mint. And we rounded out the plate with some local kale, cooked with lots of garlic of course.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ethiopian Food, Take 2

We just did this recently, and it was good but it didn't come out exactly as planned so it was time for round two. Again I made Split Pea Alecha from Vegan Lunch Box and Gomen. I used less water for the split peas this time so they came out nice and thick, suitable for eating with our injera.

Yup, I also made injera this time, having found teff flour at Whole Foods (thanks to a tip from our last post). The Vegan Lunch Box injera recipe is not completely authentic but it was easy to make and very tasty. And relatively close to what we've had in Ethiopian restaurants. I've read that traditionally injera is made by letting the batter ferment for a couple of days to give it a bit of a tangy flavor. Maybe one day I'll play around with the recipe and try using my sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast. (Incidentally, the teff flour we got was from Bob's Red Mill so if you can't find any in your town you can order it on-line.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Almond Crusted Seitan

The last time we were at Trader Joe's we picked up some almond meal, though we weren't entirely sure what we'd do with it. But now I'm here to tell you that using it as a breading is awesome! And if you can't find any, it's just finely ground almonds so buy whole almonds and take them for a good spin in your food processor (just make sure you stop before they become almond butter). We seasoned the almond meal with paprika, salt and pepper, then breaded seitan with it pan fried our concoction. What ended up working well for the breading was to lightly coat the seitan with flour, then dip it into plain soy milk, then coat it with the almond meal. We fried it in a little bit of canola oil and it came out with a wonderful depth of flavor that a flour breading just doesn't have. All we needed were some collards on the side and we were very content.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dinner Salad

A salad? For dinner?? Yeah but this was no ordinary salad. Well, that and we wanted to save plenty of room for mucho strawberry shortcake for dessert. The salad had red leaf lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, artichokes, marinated mushrooms, pinto beans, quinoa and avocado. It was topped with, what else, a strawberry vinaigrette. The dressing I adapted from La Dolce Vegan and I'm not sure if I remember the exact quantities but I think it was something like this: blend together about 10 fresh strawberries with 1/3 c. rice vinegar, 2 Tbs. lime juice, 1 Tbs. agave, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp. salt and fresh ground pepper. Then slowly add 1/4 c. olive oil and 1/4 c. flax oil.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Strawberry Pancakes

How sweet it is that strawberry season is upon us again. We hadn't gone to pick our own strawberries in many years but yesterday that's what we did. A thunderstorm put a slight damper on our picking but we still came home with a big flat full of fresh berries. Darlene's going to make jam with most of them but we definitely had to have some fresh ones too. I imagine it's been done before but last night I had the idea to make pancakes for breakfast and blend some fresh strawberries in with the soy milk I used for the batter. These came out delicious and I wrote down the recipe so I could make it again - and share it with you of course!

1 c. soy milk
1 c. fresh strawberries
2 Tbs. ground flax seeds
3 Tbs. canola oil
3 Tbs. water
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Blend soy milk, berries, flax, canola oil and water in a blender. Add to all the dry ingredients that you've mixed together in a big bowl. Use a quarter or third cup measure to drop them in a lightly greased skillet and cook until they're nice and brown on both sides. We served ours with more fresh strawberries, a drizzle of maple syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Coleslaw and More

The fridge was looking very sparse last night but we did have a head of green cabbage and we almost always have carrots on hand so I thought about coleslaw. I also noticed some French lentils, extra from when we made the lentil salad, and I figured that'd be good to have again. For the slaw, we were low on vegan mayo so I added extra mustard plus some agave and it came out really good. Rarely do we make the same thing two nights in a row, but tonight I figured I'd use up the other half of the cabbage so it was slaw again, this time with barbecued tofu (basically tofu cooked with bottled bbq sauce) and steamed broccoli. Since I used up the last of the mayo last night, I made the slaw the second time with soy yogurt and it still came out quite yummy. So here you go, my Low Fat Agave-Mustard Coleslaw:

1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
1 medium carrot, shredded
2 Tbs. minced dill pickle
2 Tbs. minced fresh chives
1/3 c. plain soy yogurt
2 Tbs. prepared yellow mustard
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. agave
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Are you expecting some involved instructions? How about, mix all this stuff together in a big bowl and eat.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pasta with Asparagus and Seitan

Sometimes I try to plan several days worth of meals in advance and then go get whatever groceries we need for those meals. But there's also something to be said for just grabbing whatever looks good in the produce section and running with it. This past weekend we were at our local produce market and asparagus wasn't on our list but they had some very nice big bunches of locally grown asparagus that we couldn't pass up. The bunch was full of long slender stalks that once cooked were very tender with a subtle sweetness - the best asparagus we've had in a while. Some we had with our big Sunday breakfast and a little bit went on a salad yesterday. Tonight we finished it off with this pasta.

I chopped the asparagus and sautéed it with seitan in olive oil. Then I added garlic, scallions, and fresh oregano, along with salt & pepper. Finally, several tablespoons of balsamic vinegar went into the mix and about a tablespoon of agave. Tossed with pasta it was spring in a bowl.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Kicked Up Seitan

So there's the regular kind of cayenne and then there's the kind that's like 8 billion heat units (or something to that effect). We have the latter kind. So whenever I make something that calls for cayenne I'm very careful about the amount I use, usually only adding a pinch. Well Darlene didn't think much about it this weekend and she made seitan from a recipe in La Dolce Vegan using the full amount of cayenne in the recipe. Now I don't really mind spicy things and in fact she occasionally has issues with my cooking because I make things too hot for her. But this time it wasn't my fault.

Actually, in the end the seitan itself wasn't excessively spicy (though the same wasn't true of the broth), and we both enjoyed a couple of nice meals with it. Starting with these fajitas that made for a quick Cinco de Mayo dinner. Quick because I used frozen bell pepper strips and frozen green beans along with the seitan and onion and garlic. I also threw in a couple of tomatoes from a can, fresh lime juice, agave and a little chili powder. We had this sweet-spicy concoction on whole wheat tortillas with a little salsa on top and life was grand.
Next up were these subs that were inspired by, though not quite the same as, some excellent Vietnamese sandwiches we used to get when we lived in Raleigh. I chopped the seitan, fried it in a little oil, then glazed it at the end with a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, apricot jam and maple syrup. Then it went on some crusty hoagie rolls with vegan mayo, green onions, cucumber and carrots. Wow... I really want another one of these just thinking about it now.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Big Sunday Breakfast

We've been pretty busy the last several weekends and yesterday I was gone at a bike race most of the day so today I wanted to take the time to relax a little in the morning and have a hearty breakfast. And what better place to turn than Vegan with a Vengeance. Though we've tried close to half the recipes, there are still many more we want to try and this morning we knocked a couple off that list. First up were the Ginger-Pear Waffles, the only waffle recipe we hadn't yet tried. Maybe it's just the humidity here but I found that the recipe called for a bit much liquid and then I ended up adding more flour so the batter wasn't so thin. Other than that they were fabulous. We thought about making some kind of fruity sauce to go with them but they were quite alright with just a bit of margarine and maple syrup.

I've also been wanting to try the Breakfast Veggie Chorizo. Again I found the amount of liquid called for to be a bit on the high side but no matter, this stuff was oh-so-tasty as well. It would indeed make a great breakfast burrito filling as Isa suggests but we had it sans tortilla with hash browns and roasted asparagus on the side. We also decided that it would make a great sloppy joe filling. At any rate, all this wonderful food gave us plenty of energy for a full day of working in the yard. We've had a pesky groundhog snacking on some of the young plants in our garden so we put up a fence that will hopefully keep him (or her) out. (Help yourself to our compost pile but please stay outta the garden!) It looks like a mini-fortress out there now but hopefully it'll be worth it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

More Greens

With pasta this time. In addition to the collards we had sitting in our fridge, I couldn't resist buying a big bag of mixed baby greens at the farmers market last weekend. It's amazing how a huge bag of greens will cook down to barely two servings. For these I sautéed a bunch of garlic in peanut oil then added the greens along with a splash of soy sauce and rice vinegar and a bit of sesame oil.

While that was going on I cooked a bag of pasta and made a quick peanut sauce with garlic, peanut oil, peanut butter, vegetable broth, coriander, rice vinegar, soy sauce and maple syrup. It was great on the pasta but it did look a little plain. Nothing a sprinkle of black sesame seeds wouldn't solve though.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Greens and Beans

A note to the Urban Vegan: I swear I was already planning on making this before I saw your post. I wanted to use up the rest of the huge bunch 'o collards that didn't go into the gomen, and also some pinto beans that were in the freezer. A small piece of Darlene's homemade seitan went into the mix, along with onions, garlic and a little bit of tomato and veg. broth. And with the greens we had what I suppose I'd call a simple quinoa pilaf - quinoa cooked in veg. broth with sautéed onions and carrots. D-lish!