Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Making Hash Browns

We really wanted to get a video camera for when baby arrives (he's not here yet but it could be any day now), so not long ago we splurged and got a Flip. It's actually inexpensive compared to most other video cameras and it's pretty fun and easy to use. So far we've mostly used it for recording the cats but today we tried our hand at making a cooking video. I'd need a lot more practice before going on The Next Food Network Star, but here's my first ever attempt at making a cooking video.


(I forgot to mention that if you're not sure about the whole flipping it in the air thing, you could use a smaller skillet and big spatula or break it up into smaller pieces in the big skillet.)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stuffed French Toast

We post here about recipes from Vegetarian Times on occasion but for vegans, VegNews is usually a better read - and they've got more recipes in their pages these days too. The Strawberry-Ricotta French Toast in the latest issue looked particularly appealing, and when we found the first strawberries of the season at the farmer's market yesterday that sealed the deal. This was french toast taken to another level, each piece stuffed with strawberries and a citrus-flavored vegan ricotta, and dipped in a banana and cinnamon-flavored batter. It made for an outstanding brunch, but it took a lot more time to make it than it did to eat it - especially if you include washing the resulting pile of dishes. It's not something you can make every day but we'll definitely keep this recipe around for special occasions.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Raw Collard Wraps

After the donut extravaganza we needed to get back to something more healthy right? And we also just made tacos with the Smart Ground, so here we went to the other end of the processed and cooked spectrum. The results however were only so-so. We recently found a copy of Ani's Raw Food Kitchen at our local library and the first thing we tried were lettuce wraps with the Garden Paté and Garlic Cashew Aioli. These were outstanding. So next up was the Taco Nut Meat, spread on collard leaves and topped with some of the leftover Aioli, avocado and cilantro. Meh. They were decent but I probably wouldn't do this again. For one thing, I just wasn't that keen on the raw collards. And the Taco Nut Meat recipe was a little heavy on the olive oil for my liking. There are many other tempting recipes in the book though and it's definitely got us interested in further raw foods exploration.

Update: One comment? Are you guys just not into raw foods? Or just not this particular post? How about some suggestions on your favorite raw recipes... Or maybe we should make more donuts ;-)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Contrasting Breakfasts

Quinoa. For breakfast. That might sound a little different (it did to me), but why stick exclusively with the go-to grains (wheat and oats) for breakfast? In many cultures rice is perfectly acceptable breakfast food so quinoa is not that much more of a stretch. That's why I found the Creamy Quinoa with Dried Cranberries recipe in the brand new issue of Vegetarian Times intriguing. It's pretty simple too so that's what we had for breakfast this morning. You just cook quinoa and dried cranberries in a soy milk/water mixture, then add sweetener and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice) and sprinkle some chopped nuts on top (we used walnuts). It was a healthy and delicious change of pace to start the day.

Not quite as healthy, but even more scrumptious, are the glazed donuts I made this afternoon from My Sweet Vegan. Unlike some of you out there in vegan-land we're not fortunate enough to be able to walk down the street and buy fresh vegan donuts so we have to take matters into our own hands. Thanks to Hannah's incredible recipe we can do that. The fresh vanilla bean I used in the glaze was the icing on the cake (actually the glaze on the donut). With baby's arrival imminent I don't know when we'll find the time to make these again but they sure are fun. We'll have 'em for breakfast tomorrow but we've already gone and ruined tonight's dinner by having too many this afternoon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Asian Noodle Salad

Normally I may not have posted about this noodle salad, but I also have a little bit of shameless self promotion to do. First the salad. We were channel surfing over the weekend (doesn't take that long when you only get 5 channels), and we happened to catch part of the Everyday Food cooking show on PBS. They were making this noodle salad that amazingly enough is vegan, plus it sounded pretty simple and tasty. We made it for dinner last night with roasted asparagus instead of green beans and it was great. Next time I might opt for marinated baked tofu but then it's not quite so quick and easy anymore.

So last post, I told you to go vote for Hezbollah Tofu at the Endless Simmer blog. Well the vegans wiped the floor with Anthony Bourdain in that contest and now they have a veggie burger battle going on. Yours truly has one of the featured burgers and though I won't win fabulous cash or prizes I still would appreciate your vote. (But hey, if you like one of the other burgers better then by all means vote for it.)

Finally, tonight we cracked open the Lightlife Smart Ground and made tacos. But thanks for all your other suggestions - I'm sure we'll use more of them in the future. By the way, the creamy looking stuff on the tacos is a raw cashew cream leftover from a dinner of raw lettuce wraps the other night - went good on the tacos.

Friday, April 11, 2008

7 Pounds of Seitan (and other fun stuff)

One of many things we're trying to find the time to do now is cook some things that we can freeze for when after the baby comes. So last weekend I made a mother lode of seitan. We used some of it within a few days but a bunch went into the freezer for later too. I mentioned before that I'm all about the seitan recipes in the Real Food Daily cookbook. I especially like the Chicken Style Seitan recipe, in part because it makes a whopping 4 pounds at a time. Plus it's got white beans and chickpea flour so it's not entirely wheat protein (not that there's anything wrong with that).

I also made the steamed seitan sausages that are all the rage amongst the vegan folk nowadays. I tried two different kinds based on Isa's variation of Julie Hasson's recipe. Someone here recently pointed out Penzeys Spices to me and in addition to finding the smoked paprika I've been looking for there, I also found a number of varieties of sausage spice blends. They worked fairly well for making the seitan sausages but I'm not totally sold on them because it turns out they're mostly salt. I'd prefer to have a salt-free spice mix and then add the quantity of salt I want, so maybe once I use these up I'll experiment with making my own mixes.

In addition to the big block of RFD seitan and the sausages, the other part of this picture is the beginning of Susan's excellent Barbecued Seitan Ribz recipe (which calls for the aforementioned smoked paprika). Later we threw threw that sucker on a grill pan with some barbecue sauce and it was most delicious.

Another recent meal was the Moroccan Rice with Apricots and Pine Nuts from Robin Robertson's Vegan Fire and Spice. It's sort of a fried rice but with Moroccan spices and it made a quick and tasty (and somewhat different) one dish meal.

And finally, it must be spring because it was 80 degrees here today and I finally had to break down and cut the grass. But before I did I pulled out some of the many spring onions that were randomly poking out of our lawn. I've never been sure about eating these but I asked someone in the know who told me they're perfectly edible. Cleaning them was probably more trouble than it's worth, but we have a small bunch now that I'll cook with very soon. Happy Spring!

Oh, and one more thing - go vote for Hezbollah Tofu over Anthony Bourdain.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Noodles with Walnut Pesto

This past weekend we had lunch at a relatively new restaurant called The Box. It's in the same location that used to house Liquid, an all-vegetarian sandwich and smoothie shop, and later Atomic Burrito which we also enjoyed. Though we miss both of these establishments, we found that The Box also offers some good veggie options. I guess you'd call it a noodle shop and we both had noodle bowls (which apparently come in a box if you get take out - hence the name). There are a vast array of combinations available, many of which are vegan. You start by picking from four different kinds of noodles, add one of several sauces (all but one of which are vegan), and you can top it off with tofu or grilled veggies. I had my noodles with an excellent walnut pesto and that's what gave us the idea for tonight's dinner. Our result ended up quite different from what we had in the restaurant but it was still quite yummy. We had it over noodles with stir-fried bok choy on the side. Here's how we did the pesto:

1 c. walnuts
1 Tbs. peanut oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 1/2 Tbs. soy sauce
1/4 c. packed fresh cilantro
1 roasted red pepper

Add the walnuts to a food processor and pulse a few times to coarsely chop. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until well blended, scraping down the sides several times or as needed. Serve over noodles (or eat with a spoon).

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Bacon Post

It's not what you might think. Last year the folks at Lightlife sent us some products to sample and last week we received another such box of their stuff. (I'll add here that the box 'o food was free but we're not affiliated with Lightlife in any other way.)

This time we got another package of Fakin' Bacon, which is just smoky marinated tempeh strips, and also some Smart Bacon, which is thin slices of a soy-based product more akin to their mock deli slices. We fried the tempeh strips and used them in wraps - with whole wheat tortillas, brown rice, salad greens, shredded carrots and roasted red peppers. When we lived in Arizona we used to go to a place that served wraps with rice, tofu and veggies and these were based on that idea.

The next night we had some potatoes we needed to use up and I was thinking about frying up the Smart Bacon and having it with home fries and/or a tofu scramble but when I came home from work Darlene was already working on her potato soup. So we just finished that off by adding a little of the Lightlife soy sausage, then served it with some Smart Bacon pieces on top (which by the way fry up nice and crispy).

All good stuff but I'll have to stand by my earlier assessment which is that these products are generally good and definitely convenient but usually a little too pricey for us. Though once baby is here in another month or so we may really be looking for that convenience! Still, making your own tempeh bacon is pretty simple and costs a good bit less than the packaged stuff. Try my quick version of Isa's recipe some time: thinly slice tempeh strips then marinate them in a mixture of 3 Tbs. Braggs or soy sauce, 2 Tbs. cider vinegar, 2 Tbs. maple syrup and 1/4 tsp. liquid smoke. Throw a crushed clove of garlic in there too if you want then marinate for several hours. If you have a few extra minutes in the morning you can get the tempeh marinating before work, then it's ready to fry up when you get home.

Now here's a question for you. What would you do with mock ground beef? And I'm looking for something that doesn't involve tomatoes (which don't agree so well with Darlene at the moment). Typically I might use the Lightlife Smart Ground that we got in chili or pasta sauce or some similar tomato-y concoction but I'm currently at a loss for what to do with it sans tomato. Any ideas?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Men Who Cook - Summary

Thanks for all the great responses to the Men Who Cook idea. I'm glad I have this to post about because we haven't been cooking as much since we spent all weekend replacing our kitchen floor. There are definitely lots of men out there cooking! So here's the round up:

Finally, there are undoubtedly more but here's a selection of other men who are cooking and blogging about great vegan food:

I hope I didn't miss anyone but please let me know if I did. And keep up the good work!