Saturday, March 29, 2008

Scrambled Tofu Tacos

Eating a scrambled tofu taco at Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse in Austin was one of my yes I can be vegan moments. Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipe captures the deliciousness I had there. I adapt it by browning some soyrizo to start, then proceed with Isa's recipe. At the end, I add lots of baby spinach to wilt.

I'm still a "tofu pup", but so far I've learned that draining your tofu is the key to many recipes (sometimes called pressing the tofu). This can seem a little confusing to the novice. I found Compassionate Cooks' All About Tofu podcast helpful.

This scramble calls for the block tofu you find refrigerated in a plastic container, not the silken type in aseptic packages. Here's my standard set up. Pour the water off the tofu block and rinse briefly. Cut through the middle so you have two thinner slabs. Wrap in a towel, place on a plate, and stack a baking pan full of cans on top. I then drink my first cup of coffee while surfing vegan blogs to allow tofu to drain. By the time I finish my first mondo cup of coffee, it's time to prepare the scramble and my tofu is ready to go!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Vegans in the NY Times, Again

The Carrot Some Vegans Deplore covers the debate on the use of sexist images to promote veganism.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Creamy Spicy Seitan with Coconut Quinoa

A friend at work was talking with me about quinoa. Cool, huh? And, no, I don't work at Local Harvest, although you might think so as much time as I spend there.

My favorite thing about quinoa is that it's fun to say. KEEN-wah. Of course, there are more practical reasons to appreciate it as well.

So I wanted to use both quinoa and some White Wave "chicken" seitan in a recipe, and sure enough, Vegan Dad had the answer. His recipe is aptly named. It has wonderful coconut cream, spicy ginger, curry powder, plus cloves and allspice. Delicious KEEN-wah.

I've also been using a fresh ginger trick from Lynne Rossetto Kasper. My fresh ginger gets moldy before I can use it, so this is a great solution. Peel your fresh ginger by scraping with a spoon. Then slice into thin disks. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze. Transfer disks to a container and freeze. Use as needed.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Asian Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

The St. Louis music scene is getting better and better. Chatham County Line put on a great show at Wood House Concerts Saturday. If you missed the show, you can give "Let It Rock" a listen on Pop Matters.

House concerts often start with a potluck, and this dish from Vegan Planet has become my go-to dish for such occasions. Tasty at room temperature? Check. Hearty enough to sustain vegans through a late night? Check. Mainstream enough to impress non-vegans? Check.

See Robin Robertson's site and blog for delicious sample recipes from Vegan Planet and her other cookbooks.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

The bad news is, Saturday was about 20 degrees colder than the day before. The good news is, all the better for eating spicy, hot soup.

Burrito Loco had a spicy sweet potato carrot soup on their menu this winter. I googled those words and found this recipe, not to mention a new cooking site to frequent. This is a rich-tasting soup with the smoky heat of chipotle chile powder. To veganize, use vegetable broth and soy milk rather than non-vegan ingredients.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Agave Nectar Margarita

My quest for a favorite margarita recipe might be over with this find from Epicurious. The special ingredient here is agave nectar, a sweetener similar to honey, except that it is vegan and will actually dissolve in cold water. Margarita recipes with agave nectar seem to skip the Triple Sec and the salted rim. Alternatively, you could salt half the rim.

This margarita lets the tequila taste shine through, and 100% agave tequila is recommended. I've found agave nectar at Local Harvest Grocery and Whole Foods.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring, what took so long?

How are you celebrating the arrival of Spring? It has come none too early for St. Louis. Time to shake off our winter-induced funk.

I'm celebrating with some new music from Vintage Vinyl. I can't ask for a better Spring wake up call than the frisky new Be Your Own Pet cd. (Bonus - Jamin, the drummer, is vegetarian.)

If that's not enough to put a smile on your face, Isa Chandra Moskowitz offers 10 yummy steps to vegan culinary activism.

And, Spring, please settle in a while, we're glad you're here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Chipotle Ranch Spread

What do vegans eat on burritos instead of cheese? Chipotle Ranch Spread from Yellow Rose Recipes is a tasty option. This weekend I wanted a flavorful topping for breakfast burritos. This spread did not disappoint! I slightly altered the recipe based on ingredients I had on hand, adding a handful of cilantro and skipping some of the other herbs. The flavor is even better if you make the spread a little in advance.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cover Me

So I was listening to Allison Moorer covering a favorite song, Dancing Barefoot by the inimitable Patti Smith. I must say, I love a good cover. Change it up enough to create a new aural experience, while maintaining the familiar essence of the original.

Similarly, most of us have a well-worn pasta and marinara recipe, but it's fun to mix it up sometimes too, right? Enter a veganized "World's Best Pasta." My friend Mike thusly dubbed the Cappellini with Tomato Pesto from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures. Now that I'm vegan, it's time for a cover version.

This tomato pesto yields dense, mini-nuggets of goodness that cling to thin, yet hearty, pasta strands. Besides tasting great, the recipe can be composed in minutes, using no special gadgets. Let's get started:

World's Best Tomato Pesto and Spaghetti

  • 1/3 cup pinenuts

  • 1/4 cup walnut halves

  • 6 ounces tomato paste

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or 2 tsp dried basil

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tsp adobo sauce (from canned chipotles in adobo)

  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

  • pepper to taste

  • 16 ounces whole wheat spaghetti

Toast the pinenuts and walnuts in a skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, until you smell their aroma. Pinenuts burn quickly so keep an eye out.

Start your pasta water to boil. When boiling, throw in a small handful of salt. Cook spaghetti according to package.

Separate walnuts from pinenuts and mince the walnuts. In a medium bowl, combine pinenuts, walnuts, tomato paste, basil, olive oil, garlic, adobo sauce, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast.

Is the pasta almost done? Right before you drain the pasta, put 2 tablespoons of the boiling pasta water into the pesto. Drain the pasta, combine with pesto, and serve immediately.

This one's for you Mike. Dial your iPod to your favorite cover song and give it a try. And don't skimp on the olive oil.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Happy Dogs Hot Sauce

Happy Dogs Hot Sauce has it all going on. Check out the site, and you'll see Dog Pics above the Order link. And great dogs they are.
The name says it all. Not only is the hot sauce cute as can be, but local and tasty too. I find that it complements everything that calls for some heat, without overpowering the flavor of the dish. I like to buy mine at Local Harvest Grocery, and have also spotted it at Whole Foods.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Match for BBQ Pulled Pork

Somehow, I grew up in South Carolina without experiencing the BBQ sandwich thing. My first experience with "pulled pork" occurred in a St. Louis vegan cooking class by Chef Marc Felix. Thanks to Chef Marc, I was hooked instantly on the pig-friendly version of the dish.
Match, formerly Aurapro, is a locally produced meat alternative, with soy and wheat protein as primary ingredients. Chef Marc used the "ground pork" flavor to whip up faux BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches that elicited oohs and aahs from the class.
This is a simple dish that hits the spot when comfort food is what you want. Make it any time of year for a taste of summer. The recipe was posted on the Aurapro website, and Chef Marc suggested a few tweaks to the preparation. I find Match at Whole Foods.
BBQ "Pulled Pork" Sandwiches
Serves 6-8
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound Match Ground Pork Without the Meat, thawed if frozen
  • 2/3 cup BBQ sauce*
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • vegetable oil for pan frying
Caramelize onion. Set onion aside. Use pan to saute Match in small chunks. Don't turn until browned. Turn with tongs and break chunks into small pieces. Add other ingredients.
*Full Circle Organic Tangy BBQ Sauce is my current favorite.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spudmaster, Most Definitely

People can't stop talking about these chips. I was at Local Harvest with these in my basket, and another customer began to rave about them. Before I knew it, we were chanting simultaneously "They are the best chips EVER!". Like some kind of Spudmaster pep rally or something.

Spudmaster Chips are large, local, and addictive. They are just chips, you say. Try them, and see if you can resist telling your best foodie friends how great they are.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Garlicky Garam Masala Dip

Garam masala inspired this dip. Peppery, smoky, and warm, with sweet tones of cinnamon and nutmeg too. Pumpkin might seem an unlikely ingredient to highlight with Spring so near, but to me seems the perfect partner for garam masala.
I took liberties with a basic hummus recipe, yielding this fluffy, orange dip that is great with a salty dipper like pretzels, or spread on a pita with some sprouts for a light sandwich.

Garlicky Garam Masala Dip
Serves a crowd

1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup tahini
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup water
3 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree

Place all ingredients except pumpkin puree in food processor and pulse until coarsely blended. Add pumpkin puree and pulse a few more times to combine.


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