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Vegan for the People



The Revolution Will Be Deep-Fried



Updated: 2016-03-12T10:30:02.495-08:00

 



Achiote Seitan Tacos with Yemeni Tomato and Cilantro Salad

2010-07-29T15:02:35.287-07:00

The chicken-style seitan in these soft tacos gains a deep red color and distinctive flavor from a marinade with achiote, also known as annatto. For a little achiote illumination, here’s Harold McGee, in On Food and Cooking:“It is the seed of a bush, Bixa orellana, native to tropical America, and is much used in various cooked   dishes from southern Mexico to northern South America. The bright red-orange pigment bixin is found in the waxy coating of the seeds, and readily changes into a number of chemical variants that are different shades of orange, yellow, and red.”I don’t know of anything else that makes things such a dramatic red as achiote. Whole seeds are commonly available in Mexican markets, where you can also find prepared achiote seasoning mixes. I used the latter here, though I’ve experimented a couple of times with achiote seeds. Achiote seeds are very hard, so you need to spend some quality time with a mortar and pestle, or a serious spice grinder, to make a fine powder for marinades or rubs. Whole seeds can also be sautéed in a little olive, corn, or peanut oil and strained out, making a brilliant red oil for drizzling wherever you like.Besides it’s use as a flavoring and colorant, achiote paste is used in some indigenous South American cultures as a body paint and hair coloring.  I have a story about that, but I’m here today to talk about tacos.Using prepared achiote seasoning, these were really easy. I just mixed a spoonful of achiote mix with some olive oil, water, and sherry vinegar, and soaked about a cup of chicken-style seitan strips in the marinade for an hour or so. Fry the marinated seitan for just a few minutes, until the pieces lightly brown, and you’re there. The idea for this tomato and cilantro salad comes from my kitchen calendar, the 2010 International Calendar produced by the RPCVs of Wisconsin - Madison. Each month features a beautiful photo and basic cultural information, like recipes! Yemen is featured for July, and inspired me to use some fresh cherry tomatoes to make banadura salata b’kizbara, which also includes fresh cilantro, lemon juice, chili peppers, and olive oil. Despite the distance between Yemen and Mexico, those flavors sounded right at home in a taco.That’s it for food today. I still have high hopes to get back to posting on a regular basis, but summer heat leaves me less than motivated in the kitchen. On my evenings and days off, the pups and I tend to wander off someplace we can go swimming - temps have been over 100 F on a regular basis. Otter and Maya have never been big swimmers, but the California sun has changed that. Otter turns 10 sometime this summer, and I thought she gave up swimming a few years ago. She’s back, and sometimes does laps around me in the swimming holes of Chico Creek. Maya has been afraid of water past her knees for most of her three years, but is turning into a comfortable swimmer.  Here's Otter keeping cool.And Maya, in one of the swimming holes in Chico Creek Canyon north of town.  Taking this picture made me think about how nice a waterproof camera would be.  This concludes the “bragging about my awesome dogs” section of the blog.Finally, if anyone is curious, I’m completely loving my new job. I’ll be back here soon with some photos of our friends at Farm Sanctuary.[...]



Sopes with Porter-Glazed Black Beans, Guacamole, and Pineapple Salsa

2010-06-14T19:30:29.814-07:00

Corn masa flour is one of the cornerstones of Mexican cooking, and appears in an endless variety of shapes and sizes, from tamales to tortillas to empanadas. Sopes are another member of the family, essentially thick corn tortillas with a raised lip around the perimeter, which acts as a container for any filling you like.I found a brand of sopes (pronounced so-pays) with no preservatives at a market in Chico, so knew I had to give them a try. It was also an excuse to make beer-glazed black beans with Sierra Nevada Porter, inspired by a Mark Bittman recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I live just a few blocks from the Sierra Nevada brewery, and wanted to try their porter, but drinking dark beer in 90 F weather doesn’t have much appeal. To me, porters and stouts are for fall and winter. Consuming said beer as a saucy glaze for black beans, though, sounds like a pretty good idea. You could use canned black beans for this, but whenever I’m making something specially flavored I strongly prefer cooking my own dry beans. In my cast iron frying pan, I sautéed a half cup of diced white onion, with a few cloves of crushed garlic, in corn oil. When the onion begins to brown, add 2 or 3 cups of cooked and drained beans, along with a 12 oz. bottle of porter, 1 tbsp. molasses, and 1 tbsp. ancho chili powder, along with salt and pepper. Use whatever chili powder you like - or none at all - depending on your heat preference.Bring the bean and beer mixture to a boil, and reduce the heat to a light simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until the beer has almost completely evaporated, leaving the beans in a thick sauce. I found the flavor almost a little too bitter at first, thanks to the porter, but that seemed to go away as the beans sat for a while after cooking. After the flavors mingled for a while, the result was a rich dark sauce - beer gravy, if you like - slightly sweet from the molasses, with just a hint of chili heat from the ancho powder. While the beans are resting, fry the sopes in a little corn oil if you want a crunchy exterior, or simply warm in a dry frying pan. If my toaster had come along on the move, that’s what I would have used to make these - I think toasting would be perfect, since they are firm enough to survive a toaster, and would nicely brown on either side.From here, use any fillings you like in tacos or any other Mexican food - salsa, guacamole, vegan cheese or sour cream, seasoned greens or mushrooms, roasted veggies, olives, baked tofu, etc. I made simple guacamole with cilantro and fresh lime juice, and another simple salsa, with tomatoes, lime, green onions, and pineapple chunks. The bright, sweet taste of pineapple or other citrus fruit is a welcome contrast to the porter sauce.Like any customizable foods - sandwiches, pizza, tacos - these would be great for a party or cooking with friends. Just get a bunch of good fillings together on the table, fry or toast a few sopes, and let everyone make their own to their liking.Here’s a simple sope with beans, to give an impression of the saucy porter glaze.  A light Mexican beer like Corona would be perfect with these, especially in summer.  Salud!P.S.!  I recommend everyone head over to The Crafty Kook right away for a beautiful video (with perfect musical background) from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.  For those not keeping score at home, that's where I'm from, and TRNP is one of the treasures of the state.  Very cool, River - thanks for the memories![...]



Beet Green Frittata with Beet and Potato “Home Fries"

2010-06-07T16:38:46.866-07:00

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  When you think of great breakfast food, beets may not be the first thing on your mind. I’ve been picking up a couple of nice bunches of beets every week at the farmers market, and they were welcome in this weekend breakfast of frittata and something like home fries.

Tofu frittata really captures the flavor and heartiness of a traditional baked egg frittata, and is a great vehicle to sneak a bunch of greens into breakfast. I used greens from a half dozen red and pink beets, sautéing the chopped greens in a little olive oil and minced garlic just until they wilted down.

This frittata is pretty simple, and like all of my frittatas and omelets, owes much to Vegan Brunch. In a large bowl, mix the following: lightly cooked greens* (about 1 cup), one 14 oz. block extra firm tofu, 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes, 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tsp. tamari soy sauce, 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, a little pinch of thyme, a pinch of black salt powder**, and a big pinch of red pepper flakes. Mash everything well with a fork or your fingers, and bake in a lightly oiled dish at 375 F for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned on top. It can be served right away, but tends to hold its form better if allowed to cool. I sprinkled a light dusting of smoked Spanish paprika on the cooled frittata.

Since the oven was on anyway, I roasted beets and red potatoes at the same time, wrapping them in foil. This next step is optional, since roasted beets and potatoes are fine as is, but I finished them with a light fry in a little oil, just to give the potatoes a bit of browning and crunch. Season the potatoes & beets with salt and black pepper.

If you wanted to make this even easier, you could bake the potatoes and beets - thinly chopped as to cook evenly - right into the frittata, for a close vegan relative of the classic Spanish egg and potato tortilla.

One final note - I made all of this the night before, with a super easy breakfast in mind the next morning. The frittata especially benefits from the few hours of resting - it may be reheated if you like, but I think it tastes great at room temperature or even cool right out of the fridge. Serve with ketchup or hot sauce, or fresh salsa romesco if you really want a treat.  (I list the ingredients on the link - not the quantities, but it's easy to figure out.)

By the way, thanks SO much to all of you who've left such kind comments about my recent move out here!  I'm still trying to catch up on everyone's blogs, but I so appreciate your thoughtfulness and general good feelings about it all.  Thanks everybody :) 
* - I used beet greens here, but you can use just about anything - spinach, chard, broccoli, kale, collards, bok choy, etc.
** - Black salt powder is available at Indian markets, and makes tofu taste like eggs. Honest.  Thanks again to Vegan Brunch!



Roasted Tomatillo Soup with Nopalitos & Mushrooms, and Daiya Cheddar Quesadillas

2010-05-31T17:31:43.927-07:00

 The weekly routine here in Chico isn’t complete without a bike ride downtown to the Thursday night market. Cherries and new red potatoes are coming into season, joining the mountains of strawberries, fresh herbs and flowers, Asian greens like bok choy and Chinese broccoli, and more. One of the new items last week - new to me, at least - were cactus paddles (nopales or nopalitos in Spanish.)  Here they are now: Whenever I have a question about traditional Mexican cooking or ingredients, I turn to my copy of Rick Bayless' Mexican Kitchen, one of a handful of cookbooks I packed for the move. Bayless recommends roasting or grilling cactus paddles, and the recipe I knew I needed to try was a tomatillo soup with mushrooms and nopales. My version was a quick and simple adaptation, mostly because I lacked a few traditional herbs and chilis.The cactus was surprisingly simple to prepare, especially since the vendor had removed the thorns. All I did was rinse it, cut it into chunks about an inch square, and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I roasted the pieces for about 20 minutes at 375 F, in the same pan as about a half dozen husked and rinsed tomatillos. After about 10 minutes the nopales and tomatillos began to soften and release their moisture, and I added about a half dozen peeled garlic cloves to roast with them for the final 10 minutes.After roasting, the tomatillos were soft and lightly browned, and the nopales were tender and juicy. They have a taste all their own, but I was reminded of a cross between roasted green peppers and good sour cucumber pickles, with a twist of lime juice.Reserving the nopales in the roasting pan, I removed the tomatillos and roasted garlic and let them cool for a few minutes.  They're then pureed in the blender with a little vegetable stock and water, and salt and pepper to taste. The resulting soup base was tart and tangy, with warmth from the roasted garlic and a pleasingly creamy texture.Everything else came together in minutes. About a cup of sliced cremini mushrooms were sautéed in olive oil and a little salt in the soup pot for a few minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Add the tomatillo soup base to the pot, and stir in the roasted cactus paddles, keeping the soup over medium heat just until warmed. I mixed in a little fresh cilantro at the end, and garnished it with red pepper flakes and more cilantro. If you have fresh limes or vegan sour cream on hand, they would be naturals here too. The soup was tangy and richly flavorful on its own, but pairing it with simple quesadillas made it special. I stuffed corn tortillas with Daiya nondairy cheddar cheese, and warmed them in a dry pan for just a few minutes, until the cheese melted. I’m pretty sure Daiya is the cheese substitute many vegans have been waiting for - it tastes great, and most importantly it melts.  I've been using it everywhere.The flavor combination of cheddar quesadillas with this soup was strikingly similar to one of my favorite dishes at Mexican restaurants - cheese enchiladas with green sauce. Dipping the quesadillas into the soup brought back fond memories of those meals.[...]



Goodbye Fargo, Hello Chico

2010-05-25T18:32:27.768-07:00

 I’m starting this post about changes with a final picture from my place in Fargo, North Dakota, which has been home for most of the past seven years. This is Maya, who I still call the puppy, though she turns three this summer. Time goes by a little faster every year. Maya’s chair was one of the last things we moved out of the apartment, and I think that’s when she sensed something funny was going on.So what has been going on, and why did Maya lose her favorite nap spot? I have a new job, at Farm Sanctuary in California! This is something I’ve thought about for a long time, after interning at the California shelter two years ago, and visiting again for a couple weeks last spring. I was hired in March, but was grateful to have enough time to wrap things up in Fargo during April and spend time with family and friends before leaving in early May. I just finished my second week of work here - I’m a caregiver assistant - and I’m loving the job, which I expected.I assume most of you are familiar with Farm Sanctuary, but if not check out their web site, which is linked here. The California shelter, with rolling hills and the Coast Range on the western horizon, is a beautiful place, and I feel pretty lucky every morning I go to work there.Though it’s nice to be in northern California, leaving North Dakota was hard. Fargo is a wonderful place, and if you don’t believe me go visit sometime, though maybe not in January. The Fargo-Moorhead area has been showing up at or near the top of all kinds of livability and environmental reports in the past few years, and three major universities and significant communities of new Americans create a cultural atmosphere you might not associate with North Dakota. I don’t mean to go all Chamber of Commerce on you here, but I won’t leave Fargo without giving it a big hug. Fargo rocks.Of course, I said my goodbyes to family and friends in person, so I won’t elaborate here. If you’re reading, thanks for everything, and I hope to see you out here sooner or later! I’m especially missing my 3-year old nephew Lucas, who has been my buddy in Fargo and an inspiration to all of his extended family. His attitude and energy light up wherever he is, and I hope to see him again soon.I’m living in Chico, in an upstairs apartment in an older house. The neighborhood is full of huge shade trees, and I share a giant fenced backyard with my downstairs neighbors. There are dogs everywhere - woohoo! - so I couldn’t have hoped to find a better place for Otter and Maya.From all indications so far, Chico rocks too. On Thursday nights throughout the summer there is a street fair/produce market downtown, that attracts big crowds of happy looking people. The fruits and veggies are abundant, varied, and cheap, so I’m already a big fan of the Thursday market after two visits.If you’ve made it this far, I’ll remind you that this blog is usually only about food. So let’s get on with it. My cooking has been pretty basic so far, since I’m rebuilding my kitchen and pantry. In honor of simplicity and the Thursday market, here’s my Thursday Market Salad. Everything is fresh and local - avocadoes, phenomenal strawberries, walnuts, sweet peas, and spring greens including chard, spinach, and a few types of lettuce. The dressing is sherry vinegar, olive oil, black pepper, salt, and a little sugar.Here’s some nachos, with beans and guacamole. The chips are topped with Daiya cheese, which I’ll have more good things to say about in my next post.  Like I said, we're keeping it simple. I can't break in the new west coast version of my site without a couple of pictures of Otter and Maya exploring their new environment.  I think they'll enjoy the break from winter, but it's a little harder to find open spaces nearby to run around off the leash.  I'm sure we'll figure that out soon enough.  Here's Otter looking for fish, or maybe at her reflection, in a Ch[...]



Bistro Asparagus Twists from American Vegan Kitchen, & Primal Strips vegan jerky

2010-03-23T20:49:52.123-07:00

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This will be a quick post, but I couldn't keep these puff pastry-wrapped asparagus twists to myself.  They're from American Vegan Kitchen, by Tamasin Noyes.  Tami does the Vegan Appetite blog, which never fails to feature awesome vegan goodies.  The cookbook is exceptionally well done, and delivers on it's promise of "delicious comfort food from Blue Plate Specials to homestyle favorites."  I've also made the sweet garklicky ribz, and a fabulous non-meatloaf from this book.

This asparagus recipe is fairly simple, but looks and tastes totally elegant.  Asparagus spears are blanched and then wrapped in strips of puff pastry brushed with mustard, and baked.  There's a good dipping sauce to go with these too. 

I've become a big fan of Primal Strips vegan jerky, since the nice folks at Primal Spirit Foods sent me a sample pack a couple weeks ago.  There are six flavors - my favorites are the teryaki and mesquite lime, though they're all really good.  Some are seitan-based, some soy, and the "Hot and Spicy" version is made with shiitake mushrooms, which is really creative.  I was a big jerky fan in my younger days, so this is one more food I'm no longer denied, though I've long since lost the idea that eating vegan means "denial" in any way.  These are great, and have been my staple afternoon snack since I received them.



Feijoada (E.A.T. World: Brazil)

2010-03-07T16:42:41.404-08:00

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 Feijoada is Brazil's take on one of the world's great food pairs - rice and beans.  In it's traditional form, feijoada (pronounced fay-zwah-duh) usually contains meat, and judging by recipes online, lots of it.  Since vegans know a thing or two about rice and beans, there are lots of recipes out there for vegan or vegetarian feijoada.  I based this on a recipe in American Wholefoods Cuisine, my go-to old school veggie cookbook.

Everything here is pretty straight forward - long grain brown rice is cooked in water and tomato juice, along with a dried chili pepper and bay leaf.  Black beans are seasoned with onion and garlic, and another couple of dried chilis.  The greens are collards, also simply prepared and seasoned with a little salt and some chopped onions.

I was surprised by the great flavor the orange slices added, mixed with the rice and beans.  Plus, they just look pretty as a garnish.  At the bottom left is a spicy onion salsa, made by blanching sliced onions in boiling water for a few minutes, and marinating the drained onions in fresh lime juice and hot pepper sauce.

One of the classic Brazilian flavors I didn't incorporate here, but would like to try, is farofa, which is coarse ground, roasted cassava or manioc flour.  This post from SHIFT Vegan has a nice pic of feijoada with farofa.  If you want more Brazilian food, don't miss The Crafty Kook's trip to Brazil from earlier this winter!

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I don't bake nearly often enough, so when I do I like to share it here :)  I was cleaning my fridge this afternoon, and found black cherries and some cranberries in the freezer, so made this pie from The Joy of Vegan Baking.  Yum.



Ancho Chili Enchiladas & French Meadow Bread Pressed Sandwiches

2010-03-01T20:18:36.441-08:00

 Every time I make my own enchilada sauce with dried chilis, I wonder why I ever buy the canned stuff.  Making your own is cheaper, it's really easy, and the results are always worth the extra effort.  This was made with dried ancho chili peppers, seeded and soaked in hot water, and blended with roasted garlic, Mexican oregano, and ground cumin seeds and cloves.  Apple cider vinegar and salt are mixed in at the end - as usual, my chili sauce is based on recipe from Rick Bayless' Mexican Kitchen.For these enchiladas, I covered the corn tortillas with ancho sauce, then fried them for a few seconds on each side in a lightly oiled pan.  Speed is of the essence - fry the tortillas before they get soggy from the sauce, and carefully remove them from the pan after just a moment of frying on either side.  It's a little messy, but I love how the chili sauce gets seared into the tortillas.  These are stuffed with roasted chayote, & sauteed spinach and mushrooms.  The cheesy looking bits are a provolone "uncheese" recipe from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, by Joanne Stepaniak.Here's a couple of sandwiches, made with spelt bread from French Meadow Bakery, thanks to some promotional coupons they sent me.  There aren't a lot of French Meadow products at stores here in the Fargo-Moorhead area, but I really like this spelt bread - I'll have to try their rye too, which I also found.  Since they're made without preservatives, they're in the freezer section.  This bread includes exactly three ingredients: organic spelt flour, water, and salt.  I've long since gotten tired of reading the long list of fine print ingredients on most supermarket breads, so I appreciate what they're doing here.I used my Foreman grill for some pressed sandwiches, which makes this one of my fave kitchen gadgets.  Elvis inspires the sandwich at top, with peanut butter and sliced bananas, and a bit of agave nectar to make it gooey and sweet.  This is my spelt bread panini, stuffed with roasted red pepper, sliced avocado, more of that provolone "uncheese", and a simple pesto of Italian parsley, spinach, garlic, and walnuts.  Tasty stuff.  The French Meadow slices are on the small side, making for nice little snack size sandwiches.[...]



Fresh Herb and "Chicken" Larb with Sweet Mango Sticky Rice (E.A.T. World: Laos)

2010-02-23T19:45:49.530-08:00

It's been great to see E.A.T. World taking off across the blogs, and I've enjoyed travelling with everyone!  Our ongoing mission: to explore new food worlds, to seek out new ingredients and new recipes, to boldly go where I almost certainly have not gone before.  Like Laos!My alphabet soup approach to E.A.T. World brings us back to southeast Asia, for an introduction to larb, sometimes called the "national dish" of Laos.  Larb (or laap, larp, laab, or lob...it's one of those words with a slippery spelling as translated to English) is a salad of meat, fresh herbs, lime juice, hot peppers, and an abundance of fresh flavors.This recipe comes from Cooking from the Heart: The Hmong Kitchen in America.  The Hmong are an ethnic group from mountainous regions of Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and southern China, and the authors of Cooking from the Heart say nobody makes a better larb than Hmong cooks.  I've been curious about Hmong cooking and culture since getting to know some awesome Hmong students in a summer program a few years ago - there is a large Hmong population in Minnesota, especially in the Twin Cities.  This cookbook nicely combines recipes with information about Hmong tradition and culture in Laos and America.  Vegan Chik'n strips from Morningstar Farms are the meat substitute here, although nicely marinated or seasoned tempeh, seitan, or extra firm tofu would be really good too.  The flavors in this salad are so bold that whatever protein you use will be instantly infused with larby goodness and taste spectacular.  Promise.  Regarding all those flavors, this salad is a showcase for a few ingredients I've never used before - Sichuan peppercorns, roasted rice powder, and galangal.  Sichuan peppercorns can be tricky to find because they are quite often not labelled as Sichuan peppercorns, rather "dried pepper corn" like the packet above, or other variations on that theme.  If you're not sure, ask the folks are your local Asian market, like I did.  They have a light citrus scent, and a reputation for causing mild numbness on the tongue.  I toasted these and ground them before adding to the larb, and used a fairly generous amount.  The effect, and I mean this in the most complimentary way, is a little what licking a battery must feel like.  My whole mouth felt all tingly and sparkly after a few larb lettuce rolls.  Really worth checking out, if you haven't tried Sichuan peppercorns before.Regarding battery-licking, I'm sure you can find a lot of videos of kids doing that on Youtube, if you want to make yourself wish the Internet was never invented.Above, from left to right:  Galangal, lemongrass, mint, culantro, and green onions.Besides the process of collecting and chopping all of the ingredients, larb is pretty straight-forward to make.  The Chik'n strips were marinated and lightly sauteed in rice wine and lime juice.  To this, I added all kinds of good stuff:  lots of fresh mint and cilantro leaves, fresh culantro, green onions, a red jalapeno pepper, lemon zest, galangal, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, white pepper, more lime juice, and lemongrass.  A few spoonfuls of roasted rice powder, pictured earlier, is added at the end.  It adds a crumbly, sticky texture, and a distinctive and pleasing smell.  You can make your own rice powder too, but it's really cheap to buy.Once everything is tossed together, the preferred way to eat larb is in lettuce wraps.  They're really onto something here, as the cool and crisp lettuce wrap is the perfect contrast to the chaotic jumble of flavors inside.  Chaotic might be exactly the wrong word though, because all of these flavors come together in w[...]



Potato Pancakes and Mulled Wine (E.A.T. World: Czech Republic)

2010-02-06T16:33:06.976-08:00

 We're in the Czech Republic for today's stop on the E.A.T. World tour, enjoying a bit of street food and drink.  These potato pancakes - I see them called bramboráky or bramborová placka - are the essence of the street food ideal: portable, hearty, and fried.  If you'd like something to wash down those greasy golden wonders, you could do worse than svařák, mulled wine served steaming hot.  Sitting here in midwinter, this pair seems pretty appropriate for a chilly weekend afternoon.To set the scene, come along with me to Český Krumlov, along the winding Vltava River.  I took this photo last January, from the castle overlooking the old town center.  With ice on the river and snow on the ground, mulled wine was the perfect companion as I wandered around the city.  One guy - just up the street from the bridge on the left side of the picture - sold cups of mulled wine at a table on the sidewalk, from one of those big coffee thermos servers.  It's a brilliant idea for getting through winter, and I can't imagine why the concept never caught on here.We'll get to the wine in a moment, but potato pancakes come first.  They often contain eggs and maybe milk, but vegan bramboráky deliver exactly what a potato pancake should.  They're crispy and golden on the ouside, soft and creamy on the inside, and flavored with onion, garlic, and marjoram.  Sauerkraut is an optional addition.  As a sauerkraut fan, I mixed a healthy dose into the potato batter, and loved the sharp and tangy flavor it added.These are easy, and the quantities are pretty flexible.  I found just a couple of tablespoons of all purpose flour was enough to bind about two cups of shredded potaotes while frying.  Here's my quantities, and basic directions:2 cups raw potatoes, peeled and shredded (use a grater or food processor)1 medium yellow onion, finely diced3 cloves garlic, minced1/2 cup sauerkraut (optional, but very nice if you like sauerkraut)1 tbps. dried marjoram1/2 tsp. salt1 tsp. ground black pepper1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk, or any other non-dairy milk, or water2 tbsp. all purpose flour (maybe a bit more, depending on your first pancake)Oil for frying, enough to liberally coat the bottom of your panHere's what worked for me - mix everything together in a big bowl, keeping a little extra flour on hand.  Test to see if your oil is hot enough by adding a tiny bit of potato - if it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready.  Next, make a small potato patty with your batter as a test run.  Let it brown on one side for a few minutes, then flip over.  If it holds together, you have enough flour.  If it's a little loose, mix another tbsp. of flour into your main bowl of batter, and make another patty.  I mention this just because you might get a little variance in the moisture content of the potatoes or sauerkraut, so the amount of flour needed may fluctuate a little.Fry on each side for 3 or 4 minutes, until nice and golden brown.  I found the oil maintained a nice temperature, without cooking too fast, at medium high heat.  After draining on paper towels for just a couple of minutes, enjoy them while they're piping hot and crispy.SvařákI found a bunch of different takes on mulled wine online, but the fundamentals are red wine, spices, and sweetener.  Here's an excellent article on Czech mulled wine, as well as varieties from other cold countries of Europe.  For the base of my svařák I used a bottle of Yellow Tail cabernet sauvignon, which is vegan - all of their reds are vegan, but not their whites.  Rather than getting into the whole vegan wine/beer briar patch here, I'd just recommend you check online about whateve[...]



Harissa Seitan "Wings"

2010-01-31T19:22:59.486-08:00

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Before we move on to the next stop on the world tour (remember your winter jacket!), I have a short follow-up from Tunisia.  Harissa seemed like a natural for a vegan wing sauce, and this is a super easy recipe, useful for tofu, seitan, tempeh, or any other "meaty" food.

This technique can be used with any hot chili sauce, be it sriracha, red curry paste, chipotle salsa -whatever you like.  Mix one part chili sauce with about half as much Earth Balance margarine, mixing together over low heat on the stove top.  Toss the results with whatever "wings" you're using - baked tofu, fried tempeh, etc.  In this case it was breaded and fried seitan pieces. Serve hot with a nice cooling dip on the side.  For this, I blended together a little silken tofu, along with tahini, fresh lemon juice, minced garlic, and a pinch of salt.

My fried seitan chunks benefit from a couple of hints picked up from The Splendid Table: room-temperature foods tend to behave better when fried, and develop a nicer, crunchy coating.  This worked like a charm, and I won't try to bread and fry anything straight out of the fridge again.  Also, I mixed in a tbsp. of corn starch with the coating of flour, salt, and pepper.  This adhered much better to the seitan bites than my usual breading, which usually is just all-purpose flour and some spices.  These two tips were a big help for me, as I'm often stumped with getting a good, golden brown coating on fried foods.



Roasted Veggie Couscous with Harissa and Preserved Lemons (E.A.T. World: Tunisia)

2010-01-26T20:26:42.763-08:00

  We're still in Africa for our third stop on the E.A.T. World tour, where the Atlas Mountains meet the sea, in Tunisia.  The sun is shining in a clear sky, the Mediterranean is a sparkling blue, and I'm on the beach.  North Dakota in January, with our ice storms and blizzards and Minnesota Vikings, are far, far away.  Life is good.I didn't know much of anything about Tunisian food, besides those four words in the title: couscous, harissa, and preserved lemons.  That's a shame, but learning about food traditions is what makes E.A.T. World so much fun.  Tunisia, as a coastal nation with indigenous diversity and historical influences from Spain to Syria, has a stunningly diverse food heritage.  I began at the beginning, with a simple combo of roasted vegetables and couscous, as a base to experiment with the signature flavors of harissa and preserved lemons.My veggie couscous contains a variety of roasted and stir-fried vegetables (cauliflower, sweet potato, carrots, zucchini, raisins, asparagus, eggplant, red bell pepper, chickpeas, onions, and garlic), seasoned with a little salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cumin.  Toss the veggies with prepared couscous, and you have a versatile and easy meal.  I used a ton of veggies because I roasted a bunch over the weekend.  Harissa is a hot chili sauce that seems to be mandatory in any Tunisian meal.  I looked at a half dozen or so recipes, and no two are the same.  I made this with dry pan-toasted caraway and coriander seeds and garlic cloves, along with chili powder, one fresh fire-roasted hot chili pepper, olive oil, and white wine vinegar. My harissa is mostly based on the recipe in Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet.  That's a great cookbook of international recipes, and also the name of Robin's blog.  Here's my minorly adjusted harissa recipe:1 tbsp. caraway seeds1 tbsp. coriander seeds3 cloves garlic1 small fresh chili pepper (I don't know the name of the one I used, but it looked like a red jalapeno pepper, but a little hotter)1/3 cup chili powder1 tbsp. white wine vinegar3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil1/2 tsp. saltDry toast the coriander and caraway seeds until they become fragrant - just a few minutes.  Dry toast the peeled garlic cloves as well, watching that they don't burn.  I did these in my cast iron pan, without any oil.  Because I had that mystery pepper around, I fire-roasted it on my gas stove, and peeled and seeded it after allowing it to cool down.  If you have a spice grinder, grind the whole spices, and mix with the ground chili and diced garlic and any fresh chilis, and the liquid ingredients.For me, it was another chance to use the mortar and pestle - fast becoming my favorite kitchen gadgets.  Here's the final product, with a little water added to thin it out a bit.I introduced my preserved lemons in a previous post, and I'm trying them here for the first time, after letting them cure for nearly four weeks.  Upon opening the jar, I was pleasantly surprised!  They didn't go bad, which means the jar was sterilized well, and I managed to follow an extremely simple recipe.  Good for me, I guess :)To make one quart of preserved lemons, I used two pounds of organic lemons (organic is important here, because you're eating the peels) and a half cup of sea salt.  After sterilizing the jar and lid in boiling water, fill the jar with alternating layers of quartered lemons (with the pulp and seeds still intact) and salt, and a few spices if you like - I used one cinnamon stick, 1star anise, 5 cardamom pods, 4 whole cloves, and a few whole black peppercorns.  After the lemon qua[...]



Berbere Lentil & Seitan Stew with Injera and Awase (E.A.T. World: Ethiopia)

2010-01-20T21:31:08.266-08:00

Once in a while I get mildly obsessed with finding a food I've never eaten before, and for a few months that's been the case with injera.  And it may come as a surprise, but injera isn't exactly easy to find in North Dakota.  So in the spirit of E.A.T. World, fasten your seat belts - we're off to Ethiopia.Injera is a spongy, soft, and slightly sour bread (the batter is fermented, like sourdough) that blurs the line between bread and table cloth.  Saucy stews or stir frys are served over injera, and the bread acts as plate and utensil, with scraps of injera used to scoop up portions of stew.  It's one of the trademarks of Ethiopian cooking, but since I've never been to an Ethiopian restaurant, or for that matter Ethiopia, it was just one of those things I read about. That's why I was happy to find it at a new east African market in Fargo - it's actually made at the East Africa Injera restaurant down the road in Saint Paul, Minnesota.I've even tried making injera a couple of times.  Once I just ended up with sour pancakes - lame, but edible - and another time with a gooey batter that was impossible to flip over.  Just lame.  I'm not giving up, and even have a little bag of teff flour - injera's main grain - on the shelf.  But for now, I'm happy with the stuff made by the professionals in Saint Paul.OK, enough with my injera relationship.  We've got a meal to get to: an Ethiopian stew of lentils, seitan, onions, and tomatoes, seasoned with a berbere spice blend, and an additional red-hot sauce on the side, awase.  I did a little searching online for guides, but this is mostly out of Marcus Samuelsson's beautiful book The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa.  It's full of gorgeous photos, and plenty of techniques, spice blends, and ideas to make a vegan cook happy.Berbere is a wonderfully multi-dimensional spice blend, heavy on hot chili peppers, and another foundation of Ethiopian food.  I made my own, first pounding the whole spices - coriander, fenugreek, cardamom pods, peppercorns, cloves, and onion flakes - to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle.  Then I mixed in the chili powder and other spices.Here's the quantities I used:2 tsp. coriander seeds1 tsp. fenugreek seeds1/2 tsp. black peppercorns6 cardamom pods4 whole cloves3 tsp. onion flakes (or powder)2 tsp. ground ginger3 tbsp. paprika1/3 cup guajillo chili powder*1/2 tsp. garlic powder1/4 tsp. cinnamon1/4 tsp. ground allspice1/2 tsp. nutmeg2 tsp. saltI like guajillo for it's balance of bright flavor and heat - it's hot, but not blazing.  You can use any chili powder you like, but mind the heat, since a third cup is a lot of chili powder.  A third cup of cayenne, for example, would be pretty damn intense.  Here's my finished spice volcano, Mount Berbere.On to the main course.  I used brown baby lentils (masoor matki at your Indian grocery) and seitan for a dish based on Samuelsson's recipe for a stir-fried beef stew.  Thin sliced red onion and seitan are sauteed in 4 tbsp. (you know you love that) of Earth Balance margarine, standing in for the traditional butter.  When the seitan and onions are browned, add 1 cup of diced tomatoes, 1 cup of cooked lentils, 3 cloves of diced garlic, 2 heaping tbsp. of berbere powder, a dash of ground cumin, and a half cup of dry red wine.  Simmer for another few minutes, letting the alcohol from the wine cook off.The sauce in the little plastic bowl is awase, a hot condiment that lets each diner regulate the spiciness for individual taste.  It's a couple tablespoons of berbere po[...]



Pho with Tofu and Vegetables (E.A.T. World: Vietnam)

2010-01-16T19:32:25.699-08:00

 I'm jumping into the stove-top travel project E.A.T. World with a trip to Vietnam, for a steaming bowl of pho.  If Vietnam has a national soup, this would be it.  Pho typically features beef broth and fish sauce, but a rich broth of ginger, onions, star anise, cloves, and vegan "beef" broth powder (with a few more additions) packs more than enough great flavor.A quick side note on the E.A.T. World format - I know I'm not sufficiently organized to do this alphabetically, so I'm using a random approach.  Thus, starting with "V."  My goal is to cover the alphabet in the next few months...at least I say that now :) I've had pho (pronounced "fuh," by the way...you probably knew that, but I've said "fo" more than once), but never made it at home, so I scanned a few relevant cookbooks for ideas.  My main source is Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table, by Mai Pham, another good library find.  Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian has a nice faux pho recipe too.   I'm used to soup being an easy and improvisational affair, but pho is nothing to mess around with.  The key is the broth, so let's begin at the beginning.Making Pho Broth  Pham's recipe for pho calls for toasting or charring the ginger, onions, and spices before adding to the soup broth.  This makes sense, because roasting vegetables always brings out flavor that simple boiling does not.  I charred the ginger and yellow onion over my gas stove burner, and peeled away the charred parts before adding to the broth.  Here's the onion, which actually set off my smoke alarm.The star anise, whole cloves, and black peppercorns were dry-toasted in a fry pan for about two minutes, before adding to the ginger and onion broth.  Other broth ingredients include one crushed garlic clove, one tbsp. sugar, 1 tbsp. vegan beef broth powder, a pinch of kelp powder (a vegan nod to the fish sauce) and salt and tamari to taste.  I simmered the two quarts or so of broth for about an hour, and then let it sit.  The flavor developed nicely after the broth sat for a couple of hours, so if you make this I highly recommend making the broth well ahead of time, even the night before.  After the broth has cooled, pour it through something to strain out the ginger, onions, and spices.On we go to the soup ingredients.  Since pho can include so many great fresh veggies and herbs, it really was born to be vegan, if I may say so.  The trick of pho is to let the boiling hot broth cook the soup ingredients just before you begin eating.    To ensure that everything cooked fairly evenly, I used naturally thin veggies - snow peas - and thin sliced carrots and broccoli florets.  Deep-fried tofu cubes and cooked rice sticks provide the soup's bulk, with boiling hot broth poured over the tofu, noodles, and veggies.  My ingredients are assembled below - the chopped serrano peppers, scallions, bean sprouts, thai basil, and cilantro are added as garnishes, to your taste.Here's a broccoli floret, a brilliant green after a few minutes in the broth.  The vegetables will still be pleasantly crisp, since they do their little bit of cooking in the soup bowl.  It may be a good idea to blanche the vegetables for a moment in boiling water right before assembling the soup, just to preserve the heat in the serving bowl.I almost forgot about the limes!  Fresh lime juice is sprinkled in along with the other garnishes, like these bean sprouts and thai basil.  I also made a little dipping bowl with hoisin sauce and hot pepper sauce (sriracha), since I've seen that done[...]



E.A.T. World

2010-01-11T19:17:28.934-08:00

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I love this idea. I've been a little lazy about coming up with interesting food lately - there was even a four day stretch last week of rice and lentils or beans every night, where I felt so much like the vegan stereotype...even though I think rice and lentils can be awesome.
Enter the E.A.T. World project! I just found this over at River's excellent The Crafty Kook , with an amazing introductory voyage to a sidewalk cafe in Austria. The rules, such as they are, are covered over there. In summary (and this is the best thing) there really aren't any rules. It's just a cool way to encourage everybody to try out recipes and inspiration from all over the world, with an alphabetical theme. There are even cool logos to use. I hope this spreads all over the place - it's a wonderful idea, and I can't wait to go travelling with you all!



Paella with Oyster Mushrooms & Sherry-braised Seitan Sausages

2010-01-03T20:45:44.447-08:00

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First, happy new year everybody! I hope you all have a great 2010, and that our new decade is an improvement on the last. We'll leave it at that.

I would love to claim this recipe as my own, because it was perfectly awesome. It's from Tal Ronnen's The Conscious Cook. I picked up the book this weekend, with a Christmas gift card from my brother and sister-in-law. She said she wanted to give me a vegan cookbook, but they got a gift card so I could pick it out - very cool, so thanks Kim!

The Conscious Cook was on my cookbook wish-list. He was the chef who prepared Oprah's meals during her vegan experiment earlier this year, and clearly wants to eliminate any "second class" status for vegan cooking. All of the recipes and photos look like things you would find in a high-end gourmet restaurant. At least I assume that's what they look like, since I've never been to one of those places.

This paella sticks pretty close to Ronnen's recipe, and any changes were minor. Simmering the sausages in sherry just seemed like a good excuse to sip a little sherry while I was cooking. The oyster mushrooms were sauteed in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and dusted with nori flakes to give them a sea flavor. That trick alone made this recipe worthwhile - the nori-oyster mushrooms are simply delicious.




Preserved Lemons

2009-12-29T21:22:29.006-08:00

Preserved lemons are often described as one of the signature flavors of North African cooking, adding a salty, citrus note to pilafs, tagines, and stews. I haven't been to Morocco or Algeria or Tunisia (yet!), nor have I ever tasted preserved lemons, but the latter will change in a few weeks. That's when this quart jar of lemons, salt, and spices will come to maturity, and I'll pretend I'm sitting down for a bowl of lentil tagine with preserved lemons in Tangier or Casablanca. How's that for budget travel?Organic lemons are preferred for this, because the peels are the ultimate ingredient, and that's where pesticides can concentrate in non-organic lemons. Some preserved lemon recipes call for nothing more than lemons and salt, and some include lots of spices and sweeteners. I took the middle path, with lemons, salt, and spices, but no sweetener.After sterilizing a wide mouth quart jar and lid in boiling water, I filled the jar with layers of sea salt (a half cup!), quartered lemons, and spices including cardamom pods, cloves, star anise, a cinnamon stick, and black peppercorns. If this works out, I'll post the actual recipe in a few weeks...I don't want to lead anyone astray in the meantime :) After filling the jar with lemons, I squeezed the juice of the extra lemons into the jar, until all of the lemon quarters were submerged in lemon juice. I used about two pounds of lemons in total. Now I'm shaking the jar every day, to keep the salt and juice mixed. The pickled lemons are rinsed of much of the salt before eating, so don't be freaked out by that half cup of salt.This is sort of a recipe in progress, so I'll be back in a few weeks with the results, and hopefully a fabulous Moroccan recipe to showcase these guys. Meanwhile...I've meant to make the tempeh sausage pastry puffs from Vegan Brunch since the first time I opened that book, but felt like they deserved a special occasion. I don't think Monday Night Football qualifies as a special occasion, especially when the Vikings lose, but I went ahead and made these last night anyway. They're delicious, with a spice mixture including fennel seeds, sage, thyme, red pepper flakes, and mustard seeds giving them a definite sausage vibe. Great served with mushroom gravy. Another cookbook winner, this is a take on the Pad See Ew from Vegan Yum Yum. The greens are yu choy, which is pretty close to Chinese broccoli. The rice noodles here are kind of interesting too - Thai noodles called "Rice Flake" on the package. They look like flat cut-up squares of dry spring roll wrapper, but when cooked they roll up into cylinders. I was entertained (it's winter), and the noodle tubes are nice vehicles for the sweet and spicy Pad See Ew sauce. Yu choy is harvested fairly young, so even the stems are pretty tender after a quick stir fry.[...]



Cremini and Oyster Mushroom Pizza Rolls

2009-12-20T17:19:11.343-08:00

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Whenever we bring food home for the holidays, or to work or a potluck, we are ambassadors from vegan land. Our diplomatic duty is to show that vegan food isn't weird or bland or covered with alfalfa sprouts. Not to diss alfalfa sprouts, but they have their place. Vegans know we eat awesome food, but there are still some pretty powerful mindsets to overcome. My entry at Christmas this year will be these pizza rolls, inspired by this post at Bitten, Mark Bittman's blog at the New York Times.

The post is by Annemarie Conte, one of the blog's contributors. Many of the comments asked about making vegetarian or vegan versions of the rolls, which were heavy on mushrooms but also contained cheese and pork. I kept the mushrooms, but added sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and capers. You could dress these up with all kinds of things - vegan cheese, cooked spinach or other tender greens, olives, marinated artichokes, etc. Anything you would like on a pizza. I just used what was on hand.

I chopped the oyster and cremini mushrooms to tiny bits in the food processor, and sauteed them in extra virgin olive oil for about five minutes. Next I added finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, minced garlic, and two teaspoons of capers. Saute for a few minutes more, until the mushrooms release most of their moisture and the mixture is very fragrant. After cooling for a few minutes, spread the mushroom mixture on a prepared rectangular sheet of pizza dough. I'll probably use a home made dough next time I make these, but I was in a convenience mood and used Pillsbury pizza dough, which is vegan :) After topping the dough just as if you're making a pizza, roll it up and press the edges together. I baked the roll at 375 for about 20-25 minutes, and served the slices with a good pasta sauce. The rolls are plenty good on their own, but the sauce is a nice addition.

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Sesame Long Beans with Five Spice Tofu

2009-12-13T18:15:45.009-08:00

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This dish came about as I was fiddling with two different recipes over the weekend. I made some roasted tofu last night, inspired by a tofu technique from Chow Vegan which uses paprika to give the tofu a striking red coating. The tofu cubes are oven roasted on parchment paper, which is helpful in two ways: first, the spice mixture tends to stick better to the tofu rather than the baking dish. Second, by using a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper instead of a smaller baking dish, there's more space between each tofu cube, which helped them brown nicely. (tofu recipe below)

I hadn't cooked long beans (a.k.a. yard long beans) before, but picked some up at Fargo's Asian and American Market. These long beans - close relatives of black-eyed peas, by the way - weren't quite a yard, but still pretty lanky. I cut them into thirds.

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Sesame Long Beans

This recipe features all things sesame, at least in my kitchen, with dark sesame oil, tahini (sesame seed paste), and white and black sesame seeds for garnish.

10 to 12 long beans, ends trimmed and cut in thirds

1 tbsp. peanut oil or other vegetable oil

1 tbsp. dark sesame oil

1 tsp. sugar

1 tbsp. tamari or other good quality soy sauce

1 tbsp. tahini

1/4 cup water, sake, or white wine (I used wine)

Black and white sesame seeds, 1 tsp. each

Over high heat, stir fry the beans in the oil (you can get by with less - I tend to be generous with oil). Mix the sugar, tamari, tahini, and water or wine in a small bowl, and add to the beans after they begin to soften. They cook quickly, so this is just around 3 or 4 minutes on medium high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for another couple of minutes, just until the sauce thickens. Let cool a minute before serving, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Roasted Five Spice Tofu

Paprika is the dominant spice here by quantity, but a little Chinese five spice powder goes a long way, and that's the flavor you'll notice. I made a slurry (for lack of a better term...slurries never sound very appetizing) with 1 tbsp. peanut oil, 1 tsp. tamari, 1 tbsp. Hungarian paprika, and 1/4 tsp. five spice powder. Coat the tofu cubes evenly in the oil-spice mix, and roast on parchment paper at 400 F for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

You can make your own five spice powder - it contains Sichuan peppercorns, anise, cloves, cinnamon, and fennel - but I use a prepared blend from the store.




Cheesy Mac and Ginger Tea (comfort food and drink)

2009-12-11T18:50:11.072-08:00

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Winter arrived with blunt force this week, and the long semi-hibernation of the upper midwest begins anew. I’ve turned to a couple of my favorite comfort food standbys to cope. This time of year at work means catching up on all our remaining outside jobs of fall, even though it’s been below 0 F most mornings. Before and after work it's dog time, though they're tougher than I am regarding the cold. After our walks I spend much of my time inside just being grateful I’m no longer outside. Mac and cheese and ginger tea keep me from feeling too sorry for myself :)

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The cheesy macaroni above is an amalgam of lots of vegan recipes, with a cheesy sauce of nutritional yeast, vegan cream cheese, tahini, miso, lemon juice, non-sweetened almond milk, and the rest of the usual suspects. I prepared the pasta and sauce, then mixed in a can of tomatoes and a bunch of fresh spinach, and baked it for about a half hour. The result was a really nice hotdish, or casserole, or whatever you like.

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Ginger tea is another reason to make peace with winter. It’s super easy – just chop fresh ginger into coarse bits, then boil it in a few cups of water over a medium flame for 20 minutes or so. Strain it into your mug, and it’s pure bliss. I often add a little agave nectar for sweetener, and in the bottom shot I mixed in about a tbsp. of pomegranate juice.




Somali Sambusas

2009-12-05T17:31:13.761-08:00

I found out about sambusas just a few weeks ago, at Fargo's new International Grocery store. They have home-made sweet breads and other Somali specialties, and were very generous with free samples, so they've earned a fan here :)Their sambusas - Somalia's samosa, you could say - looked good, but had a beef filling. I was curious to make my own, and found a very nice recipe at My Somali Food. That recipe is also for beef sambusas, but I just substituted cooked lentils and was on my way. Browned onions, garlic, scallions, and green chile, along with generous shots of cardamom, cumin, and coriander, make the lentils something special. Here's my recipe, heavily borrowing from My Somali Food:Filling2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil1 1/2 cups cooked and drained brown lentils1 medium yellow onion, diced2 cloves garlic1/2 cup chopped scallions1 chopped green chile (I used one serrano pepper)2 tsp. cumin powder2 tsp. cardamom powder2 tsp. coriander powder1/2 tsp. salt1/2 tsp. black pepper1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely choppedWrapper dough2 cups all purpose flour2 tbsp. olive oil2/3 cup luke warm water1/2 tsp. saltI made the filling and wrapper the night before assembling and frying, just so the filling was cool and the dough had rested. For the filling, saute the onions in oil for about five minutes on medium heat, until they start to soften. Then add the garlic, chopped serrano pepper, and scallions, and saute for a minute or two more. Add all of the spices, and saute another minute, just until they become toasted and fragrant - you'll know :) Add the cooked lentils and fresh cilantro at the end, give it a stir, and remove from heat. Cover and let sit a couple hours or overnight. I lightly processed it all in the food processor at the end, which helps the lentils stick together and makes the filling easier to work with.Mix the dough ingredients well, and let it rest at least a half hour or overnight as well.The rest is easy, as long as you're careful while frying. Roll golf ball size pieces of dough out very thin - between 1/4 and 1/8 of an inch, if you can, and cut them in squares. Place a heaping spoonful of lentil filling in the center of each square, like this: This dough is fairly moist, so you should be able to seal it just by pressing firmly, without fussing with water or a water/dough paste. I pressed the edges together and trimmed them with a scissors, making a neat, sealed triangle.That's about it! I fried these in a half inch of canola oil in my cast iron pan, about 4 at a time over medium-high heat. A deep fryer is a better option, and they would be nice baked too. And now for something completely different. From deep-fried and spicy to sweet and mostly raw, this is the cashew-cranberry cheesecake from the Nov/Dec 09 Vegetarian Times. It's straight from the magazine, though I subbed agave nectar for honey...there might be a little maple syrup in there too. I brought these home for Thanksgiving - my mom loved them, which is a good endorsement. The cranberry topping is awesome, and my mom couldn't believe there wasn't cream cheese in the filling.All the cashews make this recipe a little pricey, but it's worth it for company or a holiday. [...]



Sweet Potato dog biscuits, and people food

2009-11-19T19:22:26.380-08:00

My two dogs - big Otter and little Maya - are big fans of home-made dog biscuits. Many dog treats include stuff that reminds me why I went vegan in the first place, like "animal digest." That kind of blew my mind when I first saw it, but it's a common ingredient in many products.There are lots of good companies that make vegan and vegetarian dog treats, but they can be a little pricey. My standby solution is a peanut butter biscuit recipe, but this time I used half sweet potato and half peanut butter. It was an experiment - Otter and Maya love their peanut butter, but they gave these sweet potato biscuits two paws up.Here's the recipe, really easy with a food processor:2 cups whole wheat pastry flour1/2 cup wheat germ1/4 cup ground flax seeds1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or 1/2 cup roasted sweet potato, or a 1/4 cup of each)1 1/2 tbsp. molasses (optional...I'm out of molasses too)3 tbsp. canola oil1 cup liquid, more or less (I use half non-dairy milk, and half water)1. Combine everything except the water-milk mixture in food processor, and process until fine and crumbly. Keeping it running, add the liquid little by little, just until the biscuit dough balls together and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.2. Roll dough out until it's about a half inch thick, and cut with your favorite cookie cutter. I bake these at 375 F for about 25 minutes, flipping all of the biscuits halfway through so they brown on both sides.Readers without companion animals may not be with me any longer, but if you stuck around, here's some people food. A couple of Isa recipes, from Vegan Brunch and Vegan With a Vengeance, plus my first experiment with sourdough bread.The VB omelette recipe always makes me happy, here stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, and Tofutti mozzarella slices. Tofu and chickpea flour, with some seasonings, and you'll never miss eggs again.Here's a plate of Jerk Seitan, from VwaV, along with coconut-lime rice. Still one of my favorite recipes from VwaV.Making sourdough starter is cool, just because it's fun to do things you're not supposed to do, like letting food sit around and ferment for a few days. This sourdough rye is from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.[...]



Georgian Cilantro & Apricot Sauce

2009-11-14T20:32:35.523-08:00

I learned about this sauce from the Republic of Georgia from an episode of The Splendid Table a few weeks back. Guest Martha Rose Shulman was talking about all kinds of wonderful cilantro based sauces, and included this recipe, adapted from Dara Goldstein's The Georgian Feast.This versatile sauce features lots of cilantro and parsley, along with walnuts and dried apricots, soaked in boiling water and left overnight. Dried fruits like dates, raisins, figs, etc., almost always offer other cooking possibilities when they're rehydrated. I thought these dried apricots looked nice after spending the night in a jar filled with boiling water, almost doubling in size. Soaking the apricots is the only advance step in this easy recipe, and your food processor or blender does the rest of the work. Here's the ingredients, listed in the order in which they were processed...I think it helps to do the garlic and walnuts first, to make sure they're finely ground before adding the rest:4 garlic cloves1/2 cup raw walnuts1 cup dried apricots, soaked overnight (or at least a few hours) in 1 cup boiling water2 tbsp. lemon juice1/2 tsp. salt1/2 tsp. black pepper1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper1 bunch (2 cups or so) fresh cilantro leaves1/2 bunch (about 1 cup) fresh parsley5 tbsp. walnut oilreserved soaking water from apricotsAfter processing everything else in your blender or food processor, add the soaking water until the sauce reaches the consistency you like. I left mine a little thick, like a pesto.Speaking of pesto, this evokes a classic basil pesto, but cilantro is the dominant flavor, and the pureed apricots lend both a citrus taste and a velvety texture. You could use this just about anywhere - I spread it over grilled marinated tofu, with roasted sweet potaotes, steamed broccoli, and some rice. After the photo, I just blended everything together, with the cilantro-apricot sauce smothering everything in sweet Georgian goodness.[...]



Raw Breakfast Cakes, and Black-Eyed Pea Fritters

2009-11-08T18:07:25.336-08:00

(image) Today's theme is brown, lumpy food that tastes way better than it may look. I promise.

I based the breakfast cakes above on Ani Phyo's coconut breakfast cakes in Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. They look like veggie burgers, but the idea is pancakes...they might be prettier if I had used golden flax seeds. The basic recipe also includes coconut oil, which is expensive but worth it, especially if you use it sparingly. Banana pieces, blueberries, maple syrup, and walnuts are worked into the "dough," and sprinkled on top.

Since flax cakes may seem aggressively health-foody, you might think the taste or texture suffers for it. Happily, they're really light, and the maple syrup and bananas combine for a silky smooth texture. Not at all gritty or chewy, which I'd expected.

(image) Chasing away any thoughts of eating raw are these black-eyed pea fritters, from Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen. They're brown, they're lumpy, and they're great. They also include peanuts, and are crunchy and spicy and greasy in the best possible way, as the soaked black-eyed pea and peanut batter nuggets are deep-fried in canola oil. I had these with a sweet and sour Thai mango dipping sauce.



Books and other good ideas

2009-11-03T21:38:57.796-08:00

(image) This evening I picked up Jonathan Safran Foer's new book about ethical vegetarianism, Eating Animals. I just heard about it this weekend, so in my expectation and hope that it's as good as its advance reviews, I thought I'd pass it along.

Maybe it's just my selective consumption of pop culture and fleeting optimisim, but I really believe we're in that transitional time when a social justice movement is moving from punchline to something that can't be marginalized any longer. It's like the Gandhi line - first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Since I'm off food and talking about authors I like, here's another one. Karen Armstrong is leading a project called Charter for Compassion, which will be unveiled on November 12. It's an admirable effort, calling on people of all faiths - and no faith - to affirm that all of the great cultural traditions share at their core a call for compassion. Shame it's taken us a few millenia to agree on that, but better late than never.

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