Sunday, December 29, 2013

Szechwan Tempeh and Green Beans

This recipe is from the cookbook One-Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson.
Recipe: see page 116 of One-Dish Vegan.
This is another fast and tasty recipe from the cookbook One-Dish Vegan. I use Trader Joe's Organic 3-Grain Tempeh, which consists of soybeans, rice, barley, and millet. Some people can't stand tempeh, but I love it. It is chewy, but with a little crunch, and the taste is kind of nutty.

In this recipe the tempeh gets covered in a sauce made from tamari, chili paste and sugar. It's sweet and spicy. I had never thought of using those ingredients together to make a marinade before, but I will definitely be trying this on some other things like tofu or mashed, fried chickpeas. Very tasty.

There is also an added sweetness that comes from the red onion, and an extra zing from some fresh grated ginger.

Ingredients: tempeh, green beans, red onion, fresh ginger, Asian chili paste, dark sesame oil, dry sherry, garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, tamari, vegetable oil, rice.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Vegetable and Pasta Bake

This recipe is from the cookbook One-Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson.
Recipe: see pages 191 of One-Dish Vegan.
I think the Brussels sprouts kind of wrecked this for me. I am a huge fan of them, but they seemed a little undercooked here and didn't really fit with the sweetness of the butternut, red onion and tomato.

Ingredients: red onion, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, penne pasta, white beans, canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes, liquid smoke, fresh sage, smoked paprika, vegetable broth, bread crumbs, salt, black pepper.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sesame Soba with Tofu and Broccoli

This recipe is from the cookbook One-Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson.

Recipe: see pages 148 of One-Dish Vegan.
This is a tasty vegan recipe that can be prepared quickly. The sauce is creamy from the tahini and spicy from the Sriracha. I deviated a little bit from the instructions and cooked the soba noodles separate from the broccoli, which I steamed. The first time I made this the broccoli completely fell apart by the time it made it to the table. I like it a little crunchy, and boiling makes it soft and waterlogged.

Ingredients: extra firm tofu, buckwheat soba noodles, broccoli florets, dark sesame oil, soy sauce, vegetable oil, garlic, ginger, tahini, mellow white miso paste, Sriracha, vegetable broth, sesame seeds.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tofu Ricotta

This recipe is from the cookbook Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

Recipe: see page 206 of Veganomicon.
I've already made this recipe for Tofu Ricotta for this blog before, but couldn't pass up doing it again when I found some vegan manicotti at the Viva la Vegan grocery store in Rancho Cucamonga (southern California). It's a great little store for finding interesting things I never knew existed. They had things like Tofurky pizzas (Tofurky makes pizza?), and the new 'Beyond Meat' which I have been reading about in the news for the last 2 years and is supposed to be a hyper-realistic animal-free faux meat. I keep reading stories about it, but have never seen it, and they had it.

So, they had vegan manicotti, which is something I don't think I've ever seen. It's been difficult for me to find mostly because those big pieces of pasta, like manicotti, lasagna and the big shells, tend to be made with egg. But maybe I wasn't looking hard enough, because this was DaVinci brand pasta, which is fairly common in this area.

I assumed there had to be at least one recipe on my shelf of vegan cookbooks for manicotti, but surprisingly there wasn't. Then I remembered this recipe for vegan ricotta in Veganomicon. It's very fast to put together, especially if you have extra firm tofu with a low water content. Some brands of tofu are firmer than others, even though they may call themselves extra-firm. You have to press it to squeeze out the excess water, and that might take a couple hours, but after that it's a 2-minute recipe.

It's been many years since I've had animal-based ricotta, but it seems to closely imitate that. As I remember it, ricotta never had much of a taste anyway. It got it's flavor from what you put into it, and that is the case here as well. I like this. It's a great general purpose recipe.

For the photo, I topped the manicotti with tomato sauce and a creamy cheese-style sauce made with white beans, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and tahini.

Ingredients: extra firm tofu, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt, black pepper, basil.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cauliflower Comfort Bake and Savory Herb Biscuits

This recipe is from the cookbook One-Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson.

Recipe: see pages 162 and 87 of One-Dish Vegan.
That looks like a lot of cheese in there, doesn't it? It looks like it might be cheddar and provolone and maybe some feta. Throughout the entire time I was eating this I was thinking "This looks like cheese!".... but it doesn't taste like it, and it's not cheese.

It is actually some thinly sliced butternut, potato and cauliflower. I bought a mandoline so I could easily slice these to the thinness specified. Mandolines scare me, so this recipe was a big deal. I'm afraid I'm going to slice a finger. That creeped me out just typing that last sentence. That's how much mandolines freak me out.

Anyway, the recipe is thin slices of those vegetables along with two layers of kale. A 'sauce' made of white beans, unsweetened almond milk, lemon juice and garlic powder is poured on top of the casserole, then topped with ground walnuts, salt and thyme.

The recipe called for spinach or kale, and I went with the latter because have a lot of it in my garden. I love kale, but I didn't care for it here. There was one step where it was steamed, and then it cooked in the casserole for another hour. It seems like it was overcooked, which tends to make it bitter, and not smell so good. I don't think that would have been the issue if I went with the spinach instead.

My other note with the dish is that most of the flavor is in the topping of the bean 'sauce' and walnut/thyme mixture. I found myself looking forward to every bite from the top.... and then not so much the bites from the bottom. It could have used some of that flavor layered down into the dish. Or maybe some salt sprinkled down there.

I'll definitely make this again (I also have a lot of butternut from my garden), but I'll go with the spinach and try doing an additional layer of the bean mix.

Also in the photo is vegan Savory Herb Biscuits from the cookbook. It's a standard recipe for quick biscuits, but was a little salty for my tastes.

Ingredients: (Cauliflower Comfort Bake): cauliflower, kale, russet potato, butternut squash, canned white beans, unsweetened almond milk, lemon juice, garlic powder, walnuts, olive oil, dried thyme, salt, black pepper.  (Savory Herb Biscuits): all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, dried oregano, unsweetened nondairy milk, vegetable oil.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hoppin John with Kale

This recipe is from the cookbook One-Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson.

 Recipe: see page 60 of One-Dish Vegan.
I know a lot of you readers can't stand kale, but I love it. The traditional version of this recipe is from the southern United States and has pig parts in it. This vegan version replaces that with kale, which lends it chewiness. There is a nice variety of textures here: the chewiness of the kale and brown rice, and the creaminess of the black-eyed peas. There is a smokiness to this dish that comes from liquid smoke. The Tabasco is added at the table rather than during cooking, so you can control the amount of heat if you are sharing with someone who doesn't like spicy food.

There wasn't much prep time involved, but the rice took about a half an hour to cook.

Oh, the recipe calls for vegan sour cream on the side. There is a recipe for that in the book in case you can't find that in a store. I forgot to put that in the photo. Oh well.

Ingredients: black-eyed peas, kale, long-grain brown rice, yellow onion, olive oil, dried thyme, vegetable broth, liquid smoke, Tabasco, black pepper, salt, vegan sour cream.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

World's Fair Chili

This recipe is from the cookbook One-Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson.

Recipe: see page 106 of One-Dish Vegan.
One-Dish Vegan is a new cookbook by Robin Robertson that came out last month and contains over 150 recipes advertised as being easy to make. That's very appealing to me right now, because as you can see, I haven't been posting much lately. I've been busy with work lately and have had little energy to put into meals. I mean well. I've bought parsley three times in anticipation of making a particular recipe, then watched as it slowly wilted and died in the fridge while I tried to work up the energy to crack a cookbook. So, easy recipes are good. This cookbook sounds very appealing to me right now.

The intro to the recipe says the recipe gets its name from the 1904 St Louis World's Fair, where chili was introduced to the world. This is a mildly sweet recipe. It has onion, but no garlic. The tempeh gives it a meaty texture. If you aren't a fan of tempeh, the book suggests seitan or TVP (textured vegetable protein) can also be used.

Also pictured are Daiya cheddar style cheese and Ritz crackers, which are both vegan.

Ingredients: tempeh, dark red kidney beans, yellow onion, crushed tomatoes, canned mild green chilis, cider vinegar, chili powder, sugar, dried oregano, salt, water.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Perfect Pita Bread

This recipe is from the cookbook Whole Grain Vegan Baking by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes.

Recipe: see page 78 of Whole Grain Vegan Baking.
This pita bread recipe was awesome. It is a huge difference eating homemade pita bread, rather than that stuff from the store, which I never like because it falls apart as soon as you start loading in the sandwich filling. When the pitas are fresh they are stretchier, they smell nicer, and they just taste better.

This recipe has the same ingredients as the Whole Grain Burger Buns on page 92, but with the addition of a little bit of vital wheat gluten, which is what gives this bread its stretchiness. So, if you are going to make one of these recipes, you might as well try the other.

The other reason I really liked this recipe is that it has a shorter prep time than regular loaf-type breads. It was only a few minutes of kneading, waiting for the rise (okay, that took awhile), and the baking time was less than 5 minutes. Watching the pitas bake was interesting. The oven is very hot and these look like tortillas when they go inside, but at around the 2-minute mark they start to puff up like balloons.

Ingredients: whole spelt flour, whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, molasses, water, active dry yeast, salt, oil.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Baked Seitan Enchiladas

This recipe is from the cookbook Vegan Fire and Spice by Robin Robertson.

Recipe: see page 30 of Vegan Fire and Spice.
This vegan enchilada recipe came together quickly, which was a relief. I haven't had much time lately to try new recipes from my cookbooks.

The ingredients for the filling were grilled for a bit before being rolled in flour tortillas and placed in a baking dish. The taste was fairly mild, so I kept a bottle of Sriracha on hand to spice things up. The only thing I didn't like is that the tortillas became very mushy after I pulled the dish out of the oven.

It kind of reminded me of the chewiness of steamed wontons. I think that came from all the moisture in the salsa and sour cream. It cooked out in the oven and soaked into the tortillas. If I make these again I may try leaving out them out as ingredients in the filling, and just use them as a condiment served at the table.

Ingredients: red onion, green bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, mild tomato salsa, vegan sour cream, seitan, flour tortillas, canola oil.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Whole Grain Burger Buns

This recipe is from the cookbook Whole Grain Vegan Baking by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes.

Recipe: see page 92 of Whole Grain Vegan Baking.
This was a fairly easy recipe to make. It was the first time I've ever made yeast bread by hand and not used a bread machine to do the kneading. The recipe calls for molasses or barley malt syrup as the sugar. I couldn't find barley malt syrup, so I went with the molasses, which gave the burger buns a strong aroma and flavor. It made the kitchen smell like gingerbread cookies.

I don't know if the tomato, pickles and Morningstar Grillers Vegan burger I put on the bun were a good match with the molasses flavor. That flavor was especially strong while the buns were still warm from the oven. I saved some for the following day, and the flavor seemed more muted. I liked that much more.

Good recipe. I'll definitely make it again.

Ingredients: whole spelt flour, whole wheat flour, molasses, water, active dry yeast, salt, oil.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wholesome Vanilla Pound Cake

This recipe is from the cookbook Whole Grain Vegan Baking by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes.

Recipe: see page 149 of Whole Grain Vegan Baking.
Traditional pound cake gets its name from the fact that it takes a pound each of the ingredients of butter, flour, sugar and eggs. Of course, vegans don't eat butter or eggs, so I thought this would be an interesting recipe to try. It worked out well and was very tasty. It was sweet and dense, and smelled like lemon, vanilla and coconut.

Ingredients: vanilla-flavored vegan yogurt (So Delicious used here), maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, cornstarch, whole wheat pastry flour, cooking spray, salt, baking powder, lemon zest.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pretty and Wheaty Pretzels

This recipe is from the cookbook Whole Grain Vegan Baking by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes.

Recipe: see page 79 of Whole Grain Vegan Baking.
I messed up this recipe a bit. First, I've never made pretzels before so I was kind of excited, and I got a little carried away with the pretzel salt. I've never used that before, and it makes the pretzels look pretty. The recipe said to use just enough to cover the tops, but I may have interpreted that too liberally.  I had to brush most of it off before eating them because it made the pretzels too salty for my tastes.

The other critical part of making pretzels is to dunk them in boiling water before placing them on a sheet to bake in the oven. The water has baking soda in it, and I ended up putting 2x more baking soda in the bath than the recipe called for. That really made them salty. I was supposed to use a large saucepan that held 8 cups of water, but my largest only holds 4. I didn't think through that little math problem.

Part of the recipe calls for dissolving the yeast in the coconut milk, and that was kind of weird too. The yeast clumped up and wouldn't dissolve, so I stuck my hands in to try to break it up, and that just made my hands sticky with the wet yeast. I was sure these weren't going to rise, and surprised these came out as well as they did.

The pretzels have a short baking time at a high temperature. That makes them soft and chewy. I was looking around the internet and noticed that recipes for crunchy pretzels tend to have a longer baking time at a lower temperature. I guess that makes the pretzel dry out. This is a good recipe for soft pretzels.

Regardless of how I messed up, I think the photo gives you a good idea of what the recipe looks like.

Ingredients: white whole wheat flour, maple syrup, canned light coconut milk, active dry yeast, fine sea salt, pretzel salt, baking soda, cooking spray, water.

Monday, June 17, 2013

'Noochy' Crackers

This recipe is from the cookbook Whole Grain Vegan Baking by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes.

Recipe: see page 111 of Whole Grain Vegan Baking.
I was a little wary of this recipe because I've never tried making vegan crackers, but these turned out very nice. The 'noochy' in the recipe name is a reference to nutritional yeast, which is often used in vegan recipes to give a cheese-style taste. I thought these crackers had a savory flavor, but weren't particularly cheesy. So if you are one of those people who is put off by the taste of nutritional yeast, I don't think you would notice it in these crackers. More than anything, the flavor of the crackers reminded me of a pot pie crust... but with the texture of a cracker.

I've made this recipe twice and have had problems rolling out the crackers to an even consistency. There is a note about that in the instructions because that affects the baking time. The thicker the cracker, the longer it takes, and that's fine as long as they are all the same thickness. But trying to bake thick and thin at the same time is tricky. On that first batch the thin ones burned and the thick ones never got crispy. They were more like biscuits.

These held together nicely and were very quick to prepare too.

Ingredients: whole spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour, nutritional yeast, dried cilantro, black pepper, salt, oil, water.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Whole Wheat Raisin Bran Muffins

This recipe is from the cookbook Whole Grain Vegan Baking by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes.

Recipe: see page 73 of Whole Grain Vegan Baking.
These are tasty muffins that also have plenty of fiber. I was pleasantly surprised they are so light and fluffy. Usually when I've tried making bran muffins they are dense and heavy, and these weren't like that at all.

They are sweetened with a little bit of applesauce and Sucanat. The applesauce helps to act as binder since there are no eggs used in vegan baking, and they also help to keep the muffins moist since there is little oil in this recipe.

I had never heard of Sucanat before this. It is short for Sugar Cane Natural. It is dried sugar cane juice, and processed differently than white or brown sugar, retaining more of its vitamins and nutrients. I had a difficult time finding it, finally ending up at Whole Foods and paying $5.50 for a 1 pound bag. The book notes you can also use muscovado sugar as a substitute.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the The Whole Grain Vegan Baking blog tour.

Ingredients: oat bran, whole wheat pastry flour, raisins, unsweetened applesauce, cinnamon, oil, vegan milk, lemon juice, Sucanat, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, salt.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Whole Grain Tortillas

This recipe is from the cookbook Whole Grain Vegan Baking by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes.

Recipe: see page 113 of Whole Grain Vegan Baking.
I made these tacos using the Whole Grain Tortilla recipe in the book. That looks like meat, but is actually Trader Joe's Beefless Strips, which are vegan.

I picked this recipe because it seemed like it would be fairly quick. Mixing the ingredients went fast, but I was using a single cast iron pan to cook them, one at a time, so that did take me awhile... about 40 minutes to make 12 tortillas. And all of that was standing over the stove making sure they didn't burn. So, it turned out to be a lot more work than I figured.

My big concern was whether they would be able to be folded into tacos, or if they would break. I kept them covered like the instructions suggested, and that kept them moist, and it worked. I tried folding them into a burrito, but they weren't stretchy enough for that. But these were great for tacos, and I really liked the fresher taste of these homemade tortillas.

I put the leftover tortillas in the fridge and they were hard the next day. I was thinking of frying them up as tortilla chips, but decided to try steaming to get them softened. That worked out great and they folded nicely without breaking and I had tacos again.

Be sure to check out the stops on the The Whole Grain Vegan Baking blog tour. May 26 is my official day. I'll have one more post then.

Ingredients: white whole wheat flour, whole spelt flour, finely ground cornmeal, baking powder, vegan milk (Trader Joe's Unsweetened Soy Milk used here), salt, oil.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Onion Caraway Whole Wheat Loaf

This recipe is from the cookbook Whole Grain Vegan Baking by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes.

Recipe: see page 57 of Whole Grain Vegan Baking.
It's been awhile since I've posted, but I just received this new cookbook and wanted to break it in. I told you before I had a new oven installed a few weeks ago. I had all sorts of problems with the old one. It was one of the really cheap ones and it did not handle baking duties very well. Everything always turned out uneven. This one is really nice. It beeps when it reaches the preheat temperature. No more guessing. And did you know there is a specific rack in the oven for bread. I didn't know that. It's amazing what I learn when I read manuals.

So, the first recipe for vegan bread that jumped out at me was this one for Onion Caraway Whole Wheat Loaf. I looked interesting because, well, it had a pretty picture, and I'm a chump for pictures of pretty food (There are over 100 recipes in the book, and over 40 of them have photos.). And also, it looked really easy. There was no kneading or rising time involved on this one. Prep time was only 5 minutes or so, then it was in the oven.

This bread has a very hearty flavor, similar to rye bread. That comes from the caraway seeds and the beer. Then there are toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) that give it a nutty taste. This isn't the type of bread you would want to make sandwiches with because it is so crumbly, but it would complement a bowl of soup or chili.

I had a little bit of a problem with the pepitas. On the first loaf I made, they weren't sticking to the bread, so when I went to slice it, pepitas went flying. By the time I sliced the whole loaf, all the seeds had popped off. It didn't make for much of a photo, so I made the loaf again and pressed the seeds into the dough a little before putting it in the oven. That helped some of them stick a little better, but a bunch still fell off.

I am participating on the The Whole Grain Vegan Baking blog tour. May 26 is my official day, but I will be posting more on this book between now and then. Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour to see what other bloggers are doing with the recipes.

Ingredients: whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, caraway seeds, onion powder, toasted pepitas, cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), vegan beer, oil, salt.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tofu and Kale Spanakopita

This recipe is from the cookbook Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson.

Recipe: see page 386 of Vegan Planet.
Traditional spanakopita is a Greek dish consisting of spinach, feta cheese, and phyllo pastry dough. In this veganized recipe, the feta is replaced with tofu and lemon juice, and the spinach is replaced with kale.

The taste was kind of bland. Normally that wouldn't bother me as long as the dish is healthy or low calorie or low sodium, but the calorie count was high from the phyllo and olive oil. But still, it was kind of fun making this. I've never used phyllo pastry dough before, or made spanakopita.

Ingredients: kale, firm tofu, phyllo pastry, yellow onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, nutmeg.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Irish Stew with Potatoes and Seitan

This recipe is from the vegan cookbook Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Recipe: see page 258 of Appetite for Reduction.
Saint Patrick's Day is coming up and I decided to go through my vegan cookbooks to see if I could find something appropriate, as well as something that didn't involve the use of artificial green food coloring. Now, granted, I don't have that many cookbooks, but this was the only Irish-style recipe I could find. But that's okay, because this was in Appetite for Reduction, a vegan cookbook with healthier recipes, so it was exactly what I was looking for.

While this stew was cooking it had an amazing aroma from the garlic, onions, thyme and beer. It gets cooked in beer for a little bit before the potatoes, carrots, green beans and seitan are added. As you can imagine, it a very savory smell. By the time it is finished, everything is swimming in a thick (very low-fat) beer-scented gravy.

The only thing I didn't care for was the lemon juice that was added at the end. It gave the dish a citrus flavor that seemed overpowering. I will leave that out next time I make this.

Ingredients: seitan (I used Trader Joe's Beef-less Strips), onion, Yukon Gold potatoes, carrots, green beans, garlic, olive oil, dried thyme, bay leaves, beer (Dos Equis), broth (Trader Joe's Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth), tomato paste, all-purpose flour, lemon juice, salt, pepper.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cheater Chili

Taste on this vegan chili is fair. It's not any masterpiece of a recipe, but it's not trying to be. The real attraction is the extremely short prep time, which is 5 minutes or less.... the amount of time it takes to open 5 cans and combine them all in the slow cooker. This would be a good recipe for when you are pressed for time in the morning, and you want to have dinner ready and waiting when you come home. You can set the slow cooker before you leave, and bingo, vegan chili ready when you come back.

BTW, those are cornbread muffins in the background. I'm looking at the photo now and realizing they kind of look like cupcakes. I made the cornbread recipe from the cookbook Appetite for Reduction, but didn't want take make a whole batch, so I did half and poured the batter into muffin liners.

Ingredients: black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, corn, canned diced tomatoes, garlic, chili powder, liquid smoke, Tabasco sauce, salt, pepper.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Incredible Green Sandwich

This recipe is from Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen.

Recipe: see page 20 of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.
This sandwich uses the Green Monster Bagels from my previous post. It puts some home made guacamole on the bagel along with some fresh spinach and sprouts. It tastes good, and is very fast to assemble if the bagels are already made (that's a little less than 3 hours in itself, so plan ahead). The sandwich did get a little messy after I bit into it. The guacamole squished out the sides, and through the hole at the center of the bagel. The taste was really outstanding when the bagels were still warm from the oven.

Ingredients: avocado, garlic, scallion, jalapeno, fresh cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, fresh baby spinach, sprouts, Green Monster Bagels (recipe on page 178).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Green Monster Bagels

This recipe is from Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen.

Recipe: see page 178 of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.
I made bagels! I've never tried making them before so I'm rather impressed with myself. I didn't realize they are rather simple.

There was a bagel place across the street from my old place and every morning there would be a line of people waiting to get in. Once I got in the door, it was always very humid. The way it was designed, I could see into the kitchen.  There were giant rotating racks that held hundreds of bagels, and I could see the rows and rows of gas jets from the oven. And there was always lots of steam. It seemed so industrial. That's why people were lined up out the door. It was far too complicated to try making something like this at home.

Turns out, not so. These were easy. This recipe on page 178 is for Green Monster Bread, then if you flip over to page 20, there are additional instructions for turning the dough into bagels or sandwich rolls.

The flour has a little bit of vital wheat gluten added to it, which is what gives it stretchiness, and the difference between the bread and the bagels is that the bagels get poached for a bit in a bath of water and baking soda. That's what gives bagels their chewy exterior. It also makes them taste like fresh pretzels. My place smelled like pretzels all day long.

The spinach gives them a light green color on the inside, but I don't think I could taste it. As they bake, the outside turns to an earthy, shiny brown. I was very fascinated with this recipe. I actually pulled up a chair to the oven and watched them bake through the window on the door.

Fresh, they were outstanding. They had that wonderful pretzel smell and taste and they were very chewy. I kept the extras in airtight containers and had them over the next few days, but they weren't as good. The pretzel flavor and the chewiness were gone after 48 hours. Next time I might try storing them in the fridge or freezer.

Ingredients: spinach (or baby arugula), garlic, olive oil, water, all-purpose flour, vital wheat gluten, instant yeast, sugar, salt, canola oil, cooking spray, baking soda.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Seitan Piccata with Olives and Green Beans

This recipe is from the cookbook Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

Recipe: see page 174 of Veganomicon.
It's been awhile since I've made anything from Veganomicon, so I started to dig through it for something that seemed kind of fancy, and this recipe fit the bill. This recipe for Seitan Piccata was really impressive. It's one of those recipes that makes me feel like I'm a decent cook. Maybe that's because one of the ingredients is white wine. I always feel like I'm a real cook if I get to dump some wine in a dish.

So what you have here is some seitan that is breaded then cooked in oil in a pan. Then you have a sauce that is made from shallots, garlic, white wine, vegetable broth, thyme, capers, olives and lemon juice that is cooked down until it thickens. These are served on a bed of mashed potatoes, along with some green beans. Very elegant. It's like something you'd order in a nice restaurant.

Ingredients: seitan (vital wheat gluten, olive oil, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, soy sauce), all purpose flour, olive oil, shallots, garlic, white wine, vegetable broth, thyme, black pepper, capers with brine, kalamata olives, lemon juice, fresh parsley, green beans, (served with mashed potatoes).

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beet-n-Barley Burgers

This recipe is from Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen.

Recipe: see page 110 of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.
This is only the second time in my life I've made a recipe with beets. Or even  eaten beets. The first time was right after I became vegan 6 years ago, and it did not turn out well. But there was a photo of this recipe in the book and it looked quite appetizing so I decided to give it try, and guess what? Beets are my new favorite food!

I wasn't expecting much, but these are outstanding. I've made this three times, and the first two times they were really outstanding. The third time I tried doubling the recipe so I could freeze the extras, and I botched the measuring, and then underestimated the extra time I needed during the first cooking step. They were still okay, but not as good as the earlier efforts. Note to self: always... follow... the... instructions.

The taste is sweet and smoky from the barbeque sauce and liquid smoke. There is a strong barbeque flavor, and the texture is interesting. It's chewy from the barley, but also a little crunchy from the carrots. The patties are sticky, but all of them have been a little crumbly after cooking. I have also been enjoying the burgers without the buns; just frying them up and putting them on a plate.

This burger recipe doesn't try to fool anyone into thinking it is meat. It's just a very tasty, authentic veggie burger, made with real vegetables.

pearl barley, onion, raw beets, green bell pepper, carrot, garlic, black-eyed peas, smoked paprika, cumin, thyme, barbecue sauce, Dijon mustard, liquid smoke, ume plum vinegar, salt, black pepper, quick oats, canola oil, burger buns, Vegan mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, olive oil.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Skillet Lasagne

This recipe is from the cookbook Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson.

Recipe: see page 78 of Quick-Fix Vegan.
I think I might have tried making lasagne (lasagne is the traditional spelling, lasagna is the American way of spelling it) only a half dozen times in my entire life, so making it in a skillet on the stove top seemed a little unusual to me. I wasn't sure it would work, but this recipe came out quite nice. Really, it's not much different from baking in the stove, except it's faster. I like that I didn't have to turn on the oven and wait for it to preheat. It was just a matter of assembling everything in the skillet.

There are only two layers of lasagne noodles (make sure you get the kind without egg, since most of them seem to include that). Sandwiched between them is the 'ricotta cheese' layer, which is a mixure of crumbled firm tofu, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and spices. The crumbled tofu gives it the texture of ricotta, and the nutritional yeast and lemon juice give it a mild cheesy flavor.

There is an option to use vegan mozzarella or Parmesan on top. I'm not a fan of the faux cheeses so I went with some homemade Parmesan-style cheese, which consists of sesame seeds, nutritional yeast and salt milled together in a handheld electric coffee grinder.

Total prep time was only about 10 minutes, so this was definitely was a quick recipe, and the taste was pretty good too. I think this would be a good stand-by recipe too, for those times when you are rushed and don''t have time to plan dinner. Keep a box of lasagne noodles and a jar of marinara on hand, and then you are only a block of tofu and 10 minutes away from having dinner on the stove.

Ingredients: lasagne noodles, firm tofu, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic powder, dried basil, dried oregano, black pepper, fresh parsley, kalamata olives (optional), vegan marinara sauce, vegan Parmesan (milled sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, salt used here).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Unfishwich - Vegan 'Fish' Sandwich

This recipe is from Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen.

Recipe: see page 104 of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.
Here's how I know when a particular recipe is a little intimidating to me. I will set the ingredients out on the kitchen counter, and they will sit there for days while I try to get myself psyched up to make it. And I will find all sorts of other things I feel I need to do before I can get into trying the recipe. I'll wax the floor, clean out the fridge, tidy up my desk, wash clothes.... You get the idea. If my loft is clean, you know it is because I have been procrastinating on something else.

Long ingredient lists freak me out.  I think that was the issue on this one. I looked at the list and read the instructions and it felt like making these sandwiches was going to be a 3 hour ordeal. Then really, it wasn't anywhere near that bad. Not counting the time for marinading or baking, it was about 30 minutes to prep the batch of 3 sandwiches.

The idea on this recipe is that you are creating a vegan version of fish sticks. You've got tempeh and cut it into sticks then let it marinate for awhile, before rolling them around in arrowroot powder and bread crumbs and baking.

I used Trader Joe's Organic 3-Grain Tempeh, and I say this every time, but it just doesn't soak up any kind of marinade, ever. Especially this one, which was a little thick. That was a pointless hour of waiting that I will skip in the future. But the marinade did make a good batter that stuck to the outside of the sticks.

There is a little bit of kelp powder in the batter, and that gives the sticks a very mild 'taste of the sea'. If you don't like fishy-taste, I don't think you would mind these. Or just don't add the kelp powder. These are more like breaded tempeh sticks.

The real star of the recipe is the sauce. It seems like I have said that on every sauce from this book. They have all been outstanding. It's tangy, and lemony and just a little hot. I am tempted to make up a bunch and keep it in the fridge for general use.

Good sandwich! I just remembered I have another one in the fridge so I'm going to have that now for breakfast. Woo-hoo.

(tartar sauce): lemon juice, minced capers, Dijon mustard, shallot, hot sauce, miso dressing (recipe on page 107: silken tofu, white miso, olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, black pepper, garlic)

('fish' sticks): tempeh, lemon juice, unsweetened nondairy milk (Trader Joe's Unsweetened Soy Milk used here), kelp powder, onion powder, garlic, paprika, salt, dillweed, arrowroot powder, Old Bay seasoning, bread crumbs, nondairy butter (Earth Balance used here), cayenne powder

(sandwiches): sandwich rolls, cucumber, tomato