Friday, June 29, 2007

Mushroom and Tempeh Stew

We were up in Northern Virginia last weekend and that means a trip to Trader Joe's. On a whim I picked up a nice looking package of fresh mixed mushrooms - creminis, oysters and shiitakes. I wasn't sure what I'd do with them but last night I started flipping through various cookbooks to get ideas. When I started dinner tonight I still didn't have a clear plan of attack. I was tempted to crack open a cookbook and follow a recipe but I resisted that urge and pressed onward. And what I came up with was awful good if I do say so myself.

It started with chopping up a package of tempeh and marinating it in a mixture of Bragg's, cider vinegar, maple syrup and liquid smoke. Next up was coating the mushrooms with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and roasting them for a while in the oven. Then I got some brown rice started and headed out back to the garden to pick a little kale, thyme and chives. I sautéed some onion in olive oil, then added the kale (rather finely chopped), then garlic, thyme, paprika and the tempeh. Then about 2 cups of vegetable broth, got that boiling for a spell, then added a couple tablespoons of tomato paste. Next I added the roasted mushrooms, a diced roasted red bell pepper, and finally about a quarter cup of nutritional yeast. We had it over rice garnished with chives. Definitely a keeper.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Frijoles Refritos

Or refried beans if you prefer. Usually when we make black beans they're going into a tortilla, but I got the idea to serve refried beans over a bed of lettuce while flipping through Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. We had a very ripe avocado so that went on top along with some chopped cilantro (and we also had a little steamed broccoli on the side).

For the frijoles, last night I soaked a pound of black beans, then threw them into the slow cooker this morning. They were very soft when it was time to start dinner so I figured the refried option would be best. I cooked onion and banana pepper in oil, added lots of garlic, cumin and salt & pepper, then several chopped canned tomatoes, and finally the beans and some of their cooking liquid. I smashed everything together good with a wooden spoon, put in a few dashes of hot sauce and on to the lettuce bed it went.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Garden Pasta

This was actually a fairly simple meal, the likes of which we do regularly. Normally I might not write about it but for the exciting fact that it contained some of the first bounty from our garden. Namely a nice zucchini and a huge yellow squash. Oh, and a sweet banana pepper and fresh basil too. I just cooked the zucchini and squash in olive oil, added fresh garlic and salt & pepper, then some basil, pine nuts and chopped canned tomatoes (because all our garden tomatoes are still green). Well, except for the one lonely ripe cherry tomato that went on top after all the veggies were mixed with whole wheat pasta. Nothing too special but it sure did taste fresh.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Chard and Chickpea Curry

I can't believe we had yet to try the Chickpea and Spinach Curry recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. I guess we usually go our own way with curries but the VwaV recipe is definitely worth a try. We didn't have spinach on hand but we did have a big bunch of chard which makes a fine substitution for spinach. The only thing about chard is you have to make sure you separate the stems and either save them for something else or cook them separately. I left a little too much of the stems on and they were a bit woodsy but overall it was still a very good meal.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sweet Potato Stuffed Shells with Coconut Curry Sauce

This is a recipe we haven't made in a long time, but one I came up with many years ago after having a sweet potato ravioli dish at a restaurant we used to frequent in Raleigh. In fact it's probably one of the first times I had something in a restaurant and then went home and tried to make a similar dish. In this case I guess I figured that ravioli might be too difficult but stuffed shells I could do. And the sauce I pulled from a cookbook. Though I've tweaked it some I should still say that it's adapted from Vegetarian Nights by Bonnie Mandoe.

1 12 oz. box jumbo shells
1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes
1/4 c. orange juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground corriander
pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/3 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
sliced red bell pepper (optional)

For the sauce:

1 Tbs. olive oil
3/4 c. red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, finely chopped
2 tsp. curry powder
1 Tbs. fresh sage, minced
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1 can coconut milk
1/2 c. plain soy milk
3 Tbs. tomato paste

In a medium saucepan, sauté onion (with a pinch of salt) in olive oil over medium heat until it starts to get soft. Add garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 min. more. Add curry powder, sage, paprika and salt and cook for another 30 sec. Add coconut milk, soy milk, and tomato paste. Mix well, and simmer for 15 min., stirring occasionally.

Peel and chop sweet potatoes and cook in boiling water until very soft. In a food processor, combine cooked sweet potatoes with OJ, corriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Process until well blended, then add walnuts and pulse several times to combine. Meanwhile, cook shells in boiling salted water until just barely al dente. Drain shells and rinse with cold water. Spread a little sauce in the bottom of a large shallow baking dish. Now, fill each shell with a spoonful of the sweet potato mixture (or pipe in with a pastry bag). Place shells in single layer in baking dish (top with bell pepper slices if using) and cover evenly with the remaining sauce. Bake uncovered at 350° for 30 minutes.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Week of Breakfast

When I took this past week off work, I promised Darlene that I'd make breakfast for her every day. This started last Saturday with a relatively quick breakfast since we were on our way out to the farmers market and then I was heading out for a ride.

Oatmeal with blueberries, ground flax and maple syrup; mango lassi:

Sunday, Banana-Pecan pancakes from Vegan with a Vengeance:

Monday, Uppma, a South Indian snack I've posted about before:

Tuesday, an extra big breakfast since I was heading out for a long ride in the mountains afterwards. Fried potatoes and seitan; roasted asparagus and broccoli; whole grain toast with blueberry jam:

Wednesday, jelly donuts. This was actually more of a lunch since it took a few hours from start to finish but we'd been salivating over this recipe in Sinfully Vegan for a long time. It was worth the wait. We filled them with blueberry jam and they were fabulous.

So fabulous that this one deserves another picture:

Thursday, tofu scramble with toasted homemade bread:

Friday, Glazed Orange Scones and Carrot Raisin Muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance. I even got out Darlene's old teddy bear muffin pan for the muffins. It's not the easiest thing in the world to clean but it makes a cute muffin don't you think?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Penne with Meatballs

With Father's Day approaching I guess it's fitting that last night I made my take on one of my dad's signature dishes. He might scratch his head a bit at the tempeh-walnut "meat"balls (from a veggie burger recipe in a back issue of Vegetarian Times), but I think he'd recognize the sauce. The key to this stellar sauce is a long cooking time. It comes together quickly but then requires the patience to let it simmer for a long time. It was great with the veggie meatballs over penne with some sautéed yellow squash and zucchini on the side.

Here's what I did for the sauce if you want to see for yourself how good it is:

2-3 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 28 oz. can plum tomatoes
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or small stockpot. Add onion and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, then add garlic and herbs and cook for another minute. Add tomatoes, sauce and paste and stir everything together, breaking up the tomatoes some as you do. Season with salt & pepper (be careful with the salt if your canned tomatoes, etc. already have salt in them). Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover with the lid slightly ajar and simmer on low heat for several hours. It would probably be fine to eat after an hour but two hours would be even better and four hours would be better than that.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ethiopian Food, Take 3

The last time we did this Cherie pointed us to her recipe for misir wat which looked very scrumptious. I also said that I wanted to try making injera with sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast. Well I'm off work this week and cooking a lot and I decided I wanted to break out the sourdough starter and make bread. Then I figured since the starter was all fed and active I might as well try the injera again. For the injera I followed the Vegan Lunch Box recipe again but instead of the yeast I used 1/2 cup of sourdough starter and I let the batter ferment for about 5 hours. This method worked well and though the result was very similar to last time, this version did have a slight tang from the sourdough. Still not totally authentic but getting closer.

To eat with our injera I made the Gomen (collard greens) again and also Cherie's misir wat which was indeed awesome. (I don't know if the berbere seasoning mix is available locally but I just Googled it and found a recipe that I tweaked for my purposes.) Can you tell I'm really into this making Ethiopian food at home thing? Our local Ethiopian restaurant isn't in danger of losing our business because this definitely isn't up to their level, but still it's pretty good for making it at home.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Grilled Pizzas and Ice Cream Sandwiches

Darlene is all about making fun desserts. Recently we were trying to come up with an original dessert idea and she though about trying to make grilled dessert pizzas. We experimented a little with that idea last night and ended up with a very nice dinner and dessert. I adapted a pizza dough recipe from the Millenium Cookbook and ended up with enough dough for three mini-pizzas. We each had a savory one for dinner and split a sweet one for dessert.

We haven't replaced our outdoor grill that bit the dust at the end of last year so we did these inside on a grill pan but the method worked well. Based on the tips in the Millenium Cookbook I rolled out the dough, put it on the grill pan for a minute or two, turned it a quarter turn and let it sit for another minute or so, then flipped it over and cooked for another minute or so on the other side. Here's a shot of one crust being finished up.
For the dinner pizzas, I used a base of roasted garlic, finely minced basil and olive oil, then topped them with roasted asparagus and broccoli, plus a little homemade un-cheese. Once the crusts are done on the grill, I put on the toppings and popped them under the broiler for no more than a minute to scorch the top a little. Here's the finished product.

For dessert we spread some apricot jam on a pizza crust then quickly grilled a banana then sliced it and put it on top.

And here's another fun dessert we had tonight - homemade ice cream sandwiches. Darlene made a coconut ice cream that she loosely based on a recipe in Vegan Vittles. Then she made some huge coconut-lime cookies from Vive le Vegan, froze the cookies, then sandwiched the coconut cream in between two cookies. We don't have an ice cream maker but still this coconut cream came out good and fairly creamy since it's made with silken tofu, frozen, then thawed a little and mixed in the food processor a second time. And the sandwiches were just plain outstanding.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Broccoli Cashew Stir Fry

I love cashews in a stir fry. And I dug deep into the recipe pile for this one. The end result was altered a good bit from the original recipe but what I started with was a circa 1998 printout from of all places. I think that was back in the day when if we did have internet access at home it was 28k dialup from AOL.

But I digress. The main thing I like about this recipe is the sauce. As for the rest of it, well, it's a stir fry so add whatever you like. The original recipe had tofu, carrots, snow peas and cashews. Tonight we had broccoli, carrots, cabbage, seitan and cashews. The sauce is simple but tasty: mix together 1/3 c. hoisin sauce, 2 Tbs. tamari, 2 Tbs. rice wine or sherry (I actually used white wine), and 1 Tbs. sesame oil. Yeah, there's enough sodium in that to last you a week but it's worth it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Panko-Crusted Tofu with Lemon Caper Sauce

I was catching up on the Veg Blog the other day and I noticed a review of Quick-Fix Vegetarian, which I've already mentioned here a couple times before. Ryan's description of this tofu recipe made me grab our copy of Quick-Fix to check it out. I got around to making it tonight and we weren't disappointed. The best thing about it was we had all the ingredients on hand (well, minus the shallot but I just used a little bit of yellow onion). The panko (that would be Japanese bread crumbs) makes for a nice crispy crust and the lemon and capers make for a pleasantly tangy sauce.

On the side was an avocado that was at its prime (and you know how quickly avocados go past their prime), and also a little kale. The kale wouldn't normally be too exciting but this was the first thing we've harvested from our garden this year. That's all well and good but really I'm watching those little green tomatoes, just waiting for them to turn ripe.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sunday Brunch, Sunday Dinner

It was a cool rainy day here today and we ended up inside doing a lot of cooking. We started with a hearty brunch starring Susan's Mini Crustless Tofu Quiches. I made these once before and they were awesome and after having them this morning I was glad I dug the recipe out again. We didn't have mushrooms on hand so I left those out of the recipe this time but we did have fresh spinach, the addition of which was most excellent. I made a quick sauce from the Uncheese Cookbook to go with them and we had hash browns and toast on the side.
Another interesting book we found during our last trip to the library was Joanne Stepaniak's Vegan Vittles. Her recipe for Unrolled Cabbage Rolls sounded pretty simple and like a good way to use up some cabbage we got at the farmers market last weekend. As the name implies, it's what you might find in a cabbage roll - onions, carrots, celery, garlic, rice & seasonings in a tomato based sauce - but the cabbage is chopped up and mixed in with everything else to form a stew. The main alteration I made to the recipe was using regular brown rice and cooking it beforehand instead of adding quick-cooking brown rice straight to the stew. At any rate, it was excellent, especially with a fat piece of homemade bread that Darlene and I made this afternoon. Darlene was also busy in the kitchen making an excellent phyllo apple pie that we had for dessert with coconut sorbet (though I didn't get a pic of that yummy treat).