Monday, June 30, 2008

Cinco de Mayo Burgers

I imagine some of you are thinking "Silly vegan, you've got the wrong holiday. Cinco de Mayo isn't this week!"

So true, I'm a little slow in getting around to trying this burger recipe from Joni's Just the Food blog. I've had my eye on her combination of soyrizo, black beans, and a few other Mexican flavors. I finally cooked up a batch of her burgers this week.

You see these babies pictured just starting to brown up in a skillet. The recipe is great for a weeknight, because it's quick to prepare with just a few ingredients. I wondered whether the soyrizo taste would be too pronounced, but this was not the case. Make sure to pile on all your favorite fixin's. These also would be good crumbled on nachos or in a burrito. Check out Joni's recipe here!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Corn Chowder, Vegan with a Vengeance Style

Vegan with a Vengeance was my first vegan cookbook. I don't think I even planned to go vegan when I bought it. I was focused on decreasing the cheese in my vegetarian diet for health reasons, and the punk attitude of the book caught my eye. Then Isa introduced me to cooking that is delicious, fun, and compassionate. What else could you want?

You can find many of the recipes on the Post Punk Kitchen site, or elsewhere on the web such as this Corn Chowder . It's full of hearty corn, carrots, and potatoes, and seasoned nicely with thyme, rosemary, and a little maple syrup at the end. MD wanted a batch put up in the freezer for when he returns from a trip 'cause he didn't want to miss out on the vegan deliciousness! Done, honey.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Hunter Lives with Vegans for 30 Days

People sometimes wonder "what's wrong with eating eggs and milk? They're animal products, not parts, right?" This is understandable and something I might have wondered also a couple of years ago. Most of us don't know much about factory farming or how our food is treated before reaching our plates. A recent episode of 30 Days might start to answer some of these questions. An avid hunter spent 30 days living with an animal rights activist and working on an animal santuary. The show's participants were treated respectfully and it brings up plenty to think about and to research further should you so choose. I don't agree with all of the PETA arguments and tactics, certainly not the sexist use of women in some campaigns. But the episode spotlights some important animal rights issues and seeing the footage is very powerful. Thanks to Vegan Dad for the link to the online video. The photo above was taken by Dilip Muralidaran.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gin Thursday, No. 5: Raspberry Gin Crush Cocktail

Gin Thursday's back (at least for a day) to feature gorgeous organic raspberries in a fizzy gin cocktail with a hint of lime. That's the good news.

The bad news, for those of us who use honey solely as a term of endearment, is that Chambord is not vegan. This discovery resulted in scrapping my original cocktail plan, and wondering how will I make the Paris is Burning cocktail this Winter. The answer to that dilemma can wait for another time.

For the cocktail at hand, a little more research inspired me to ditch the Chambord in favor of the brilliant, fresh raspberries in my fridge. And I'm so glad I did. The muddling of the raspberry mixture was curiously therapeutic (is that just me?), and resulted in a pretty, fuchsia crush of fruit. With a little tonic for some fizz, this turned out to be a festive summer drink for those of us who don't typically like fruity cocktails. If you do like your drinks sweeter, it's easy to up the agave nectar to your taste.

Raspberry Gin Crush
Serves 1

8 fresh raspberries
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
1 1/2 ounces gin
about 2 ounces tonic

Muddle the raspberries, lime juice, and agave nectar in a glass by crushing with the handle tip of a wooden spoon. Pour over ice in a second glass. Add gin and tonic and stir.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cajun Spiced Tofu

Mr. Langhorne Slim played Off Broadway Sunday night to an intimate, lucky audience of dancing, singing fans. The impeccably mannered and all-out-rockin' Slim serenaded his audience with favorites We Love the Animals and the Rebel Side of Heaven (below).

Don't be shy, you know which side of heaven you want to be on.

Backed by the amazing Mr. DeLorenzo on drums and Mr. Defiglia on upright bass, this band brought a lot of Rock 'n' Roll happiness to St. Louis City Sunday night. Thank you Daug clan for such a fun night at the show!!!

What's on the menu on the rebel side of heaven? Cajun Spiced Tofu would be a good start. With all the misguided tofu haters out there, it's the ultimate rebel food. The recipe for these aromatic, crunchy strips can be found in Yellow Rose Recipes by Joanna Vaught. Her cajun spice mix smells divine. The tofu is pressed, cut in thin planks, drenched in a wet mixture, then a cornmeal-based dry mixture. Finish by broiling each side then slicing in strips. I'm having these for lunch atop a big green salad. Cause that's how we roll on the rebel side.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Black Bean Hummus

Vegans love our hummus. Commonly found at gatherings and typically vegan, it can be creamy, garlicky, and satisfying. My current favorite recipe is adapted from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook, with changes to the flavors and consistency to suit my taste. Inspired by a version Bottleworks restaurant previously served, I start with garbanzos and add black beans at the end to incorporate pleasing black-purple bits. Hummus is an excellent addition to veggie wraps, providing a nice foundation for keeping your veggies together in the tortilla. This wrap is made with a spinach tortilla, diced bell pepper and tomato, corn, spinach, and Chilli Peppers Hot Salt.

Black Bean Hummus
1 cup garbanzos, rinsed and drained
2 Tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic
freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
your favorite hot sauce (I prefer Happy Dogs)
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
Optional garnish of corn kernels, red onion, or black olives

In a food processor, combine garbanzos through hot sauce until the ingredients form a coarse paste. Add black beans and pulse a few times to combine. If serving as a dip, you can sprinkle with corn kernels, red onion, or black olives, optional.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potato Vegan Quesadillas with Lots of Other Good Stuff

I've been avoiding my favorite comfort food. What kind of craziness is that, you say? I used to eat mashed potato quesadillas weekly. Shredded cheese from a bag, instant mashed potatoes from a pouch...hard to believe, but it was my guilty pleasure. The ingredients in those potatoes would stump this year's National Spelling Bee winner. In my own defense, I did use whole wheat tortillas. Okay, that's lame. Anyway, I've been avoiding making these after becoming vegan. Regardless of the nutritional nightmare they must have been, I didn't believe I could make a vegan quesadilla that would come close to their comfort food goodness. You detect foreshadowing here, right?

Then along comes the Weekend Wokking event, started by Wandering Chopsticks, and hosted this month by White on Rice Couple. The ingredient is ....potatoes! No wok required. I find White on Rice Couple's blog so entertaining. They aren't vegan, but are very vegan friendly, even offering a Joy of Soy intro to tofu. But what hooked me, in addition to the great photos, is the dog videos. Y'all have got to check out Dante, the Pupper-atti Dog Tenor. So these guys inspired me to take a stab at veganizing my favorite, mashed potato quesadillas.

Which in my home will be AKA "Treat Yourself Right Quesadillas". They were even better than I hoped. Who doesn't deserve a quesadilla slathered with roasted garlic potatoes, chipotle-spiked black beans, cilantro, corn, and red onion? Hello again, favorite comfort food, what took me so long!

The following recipes will likely make larger amounts than you'll need for a meal of quesadillas. But tortillas vary in size so it's hard to tell exactly how much stuffing you'll need. The leftovers will not be a problem to finish off in other ways, I assure you.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

10 cloves garlic
1 pound organic Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in 1/2 to 1-inch chunks
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Remove outer papery skins from garlic cloves but don't peel. Pan roast the cloves in a covered skillet over medium heat. Shake the skillet frequently to mix the cloves up. Roast until soft. Mine took about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Peel and mince.

Cover the potato chunks with cold water. Add salt. Boil until tender. Mine took about 25 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the potatoes.

Place potatoes, oil, and garlic in a bowl. Mash with a potato masher, adding reserved cooking liquid until you get your desired texture. Salt and pepper to taste.

Vegan Quesadillas

tortillas (I used spinach)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
juice from 1/2 small lime
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
roasted garlic mashed potatoes
red onion, diced
corn kernels
cilantro, chopped
salsa as a condiment

Place the beans, lime juice, and chipotle powder in a bowl. Mash beans with potato masher so that some of the beans are mashed but some remain intact. You want a spreadable mixture.

Spread the bean mixture on the entire surface of a tortilla. Spread the mashed potatoes over half of the surface. Sprinkle onion, corn, and cilantro on top of the mashed potatoes. Fold tortilla over in half so that your bean mixture is on the top and bottom with mashed potatoes in the middle.

Fry in a skillet until heated through and slightly browned on both sides. Serve with salsa.
Edited to note the Potato Round-Up here!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Crostini with Vegan Pesto and Cannellini Spread

My basil plants are growing like weeds. Pretty, aromatic weeds that is. So, time for pesto! To accompany the pesto, I baked some crostini and made a cannellini spread. I call this "wine bar at home" food, like the small plates you might enjoy while out for a cocktail. If it's too hot to crank on the oven, use endive leaves as dippers and fresh bread.

2 cups fresh basil, packed
3 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup pinenuts
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
extra oil to float on top stored pesto to retain color

Combine basil through nutritional yeast in food processor until it forms a coarse paste. Slowly add extra virgin olive oil and pulse until combined. Stir in salt to taste. Before storing in the refrigerator in a covered container, pour a little extra oil on top to retain color.

1 vegan baguette, sliced on a slight diagonal into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush both sides of bread slices with olive oil. Place on baking sheet. Bake for about 9 minutes, then turn slices over and bake about 9 more minutes until lightly browned. Let cool on wire rack. These will store in a covered container in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks (I guess. Who can keep them around that long?) Best eaten at room temp.

Cannellini Spread
3 cloves garlic
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (did I really use that much oil? Next time I'll try 1-2 Tablespoons)
salt and pepper to taste

Pan roast the garlic cloves by removing outer paper skins; don't peel. Put them in a skillet over medium heat and cover. Shake occasionally. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Let cool then peel.
Combine all ingredients in food processor until smooth.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Roasted Poblanos with Mushrooms and Vegan Sausage

I can't resist picking up some gorgeous poblano peppers whenever I'm at Whole Foods. Their shiny, deep green color is so enticing. This batch is stuffed with baby portobellos, red onions, and vegan sausage. You see them pictured ready to pop in the oven. A pleasant break from our usual polenta stuffing, this recipe requires only a few ingredients, and once your peppers are roasted and peeled, the recipe is a snap.

Roasted Poblanos with Mushrooms and Vegan Sausage
2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeds removed
olive oil
1/3 cup Gimme Lean vegan sausage
1/2 small red onion, sliced
about 12 baby portobellos, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
salsa for a condiment

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Brown the sausage, breaking into small pieces. Add the onion and continue sauteing a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms and crumble the rosemary into the skillet. Saute until the mushrooms have released their juices. Spritz with additional olive oil if necessary. Remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Stuff poblanos with mushroom mixture and bake for about 15 minutes or until heated through. Top with salsa if you like.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pico de Gallo

Local Harvest has tomatoes! To enjoy the first tomatoes of the season, I whipped up some Pico de Gallo. I should pause here to reassure my Mom that these are Missouri-grown tomatoes, which are not indicated in the Salmonella outbreak. No worries Mom!
Pico de Gallo is delicious with chips or enjoy it atop tacos or burritos.

Pico de Gallo

3 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 large jalapeno, seeded, de-veined, and minced
juice from 1 large lime
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients except salt. Allow to sit at least 30 minutes for flavors to develop. Salt to taste, if necessary.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spicy Pintos, Zucchini and Mushrooms with Jalapeno Cornbread Topping

I saw a mention of The Enchanted Broccoli Forest online recently while doing a little research on "Food of the 70's" for an upcoming potluck. Do you associate certain foods with that decade? It seems that the cookbook was actually published in '82, so no help regarding my quest for 70's food ideas, but it did lead me to Mollie Katzen's online collection of recipes. The Frijoles, Etc. Casserole sounded like my kind of dish. A Tex-Mexy, no kitchen gadgets necessary, comfort food entree. Life is complex enough. I'm a keep things simple in the kitchen kind of woman. Plus, I'd yet to make vegan cornbread!

I changed up the original recipe quite a bit, adding mushrooms, Rotel tomatoes and chiles, and nutritional yeast, for example. For the cornbread topping, I used Josh's Favorite Cornbread from No Whey Jose', with the addition of pickled jalapeno slices. We loved the result. The cornbread is just-right sweet to complement the heat of the jalapenos. For the veggie part, I would up the chili powder and cumin next time. Top with either green or red salsa and you're good to go.

Spicy Pintos, Zucchini, and Mushrooms with Jalapeno Cornbread Topping

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 medium zucchini, sliced thinly into half moons
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
10 ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes with chiles
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
3 cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
freshly ground black pepper
cornbread batter with pickled jalapeno slices
salsa as a condiment

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly mist a 13x9 inch baking dish with oil. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil then add onions and half the salt. Saute a few minutes until onions begin to soften. Add remaining salt and garlic through nutritional yeast. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the pintos and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Spread in the baking dish and top with cornbread batter. Bake for about 40 minutes or until cornbread can be pierced with a toothpick and the toothpick comes out clean. Top your portion with salsa if you like.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Vegan Ranch Dressing

If this dressing could talk to the novice vegan, it would say "Hey there, welcome to veganism! Miss your Ranch dressing? You loved it with Boca chik'n, didn't you? Not to worry; let me show you what silken tofu can do."

Silken tofu is an excellent base for non-dairy versions of dressing, sour cream, mayo, and cheesecake. Ann Gentry's Ranch-style dressing recipe is the first vegan one I tried, and I haven't strayed because it's so good. Recipes from her show Naturally Delicious are here and you can find the dressing under the Barbecued Tofu Chop Salad link. I highly recommend buying her cookbook Real Food Daily as well.

Obviously, this dressing is a great topping for salads, baked potatoes, and veggies. Not to mention Boca chik'n.

Ranch Dressing
3/4 cup vegenaise
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup soymilk
4 ounces organic silken tofu
juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, to start
2 Tablespoons minced fresh chives

Blend all ingredients except chives in a food processor until smooth. Then stir in chives and store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Make sure to let this sit at least a couple of hours to allow the flavor to develop. Add salt and pepper if needed.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Longhorn Iced Tea for Twangfest

It's Twangfest time in St. Louis y'all. This is our very own Americana music festival, stretching over four days and multiple venues. MD and I celebrated seeing The Gourds again with a Longhorn Iced Tea cocktail. I will leave the challenge of describing their music to more experienced music geeks, but I think of them as playing the world's happiest music. (Not a syrupy kind of happy. More like a sitting on the porch on a sunny day kind of happy.)

We had a blast at their show Thursday night. I do have a request for any Gourds fans who might come this way. Please leave the band alone about playing "Gin and Juice". I love their cover of Snoop Dogg's song as much as the next person, but no one wants to hear you yell at them after every single song that you want them to play Gin and Juice. Let the men put on their awesome show, and if you don't hear Gin and Juice, put it on repeat on your car stereo on the drive home.

Okay, now that I have that out of my system, let's talk about this cocktail! Austin is one of our favorite cities so I like to check out Austin 360 for recipes and other Austin-related info. The original recipe for the cocktail can be found here, and my changes are noted below. This is an easy drinking cocktail, but note that there's enough alcohol in there to count as a "double". The drink has a tangy citrus flavor, not to mention that it's a great way to clean out those bottles of alcohol in your bar that have just a smidge left in them. Give it a try and maybe we'll see you tonight for Ha Ha Tonka at Off Broadway.

Longhorn Iced Tea
3/4 ounce tequila
3/4 ounce light rum
3/4 ounce Citron vodka
3/4 ounce triple sec
2 ounces orange juice
juice from 1 lime
1/2 ounce agave nectar combined with 1/2 ounce cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons grenadine

Stir tequila through triple sec in a cocktail shaker or glass. Add juices and agave nectar/water mix and stir. Pour over ice and top with grenadine. Garnish with a lime slice.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

BBQ Black Beans with Dark Rum

Item #31 on my To Do List- figure out how to take a decent photo of beans. This fledgling photographer was done in by the barbecue black beans that I prepared for a get together with St. Louis food bloggers. So there's just a peek of beans here with that interesting bottle of rum to distract you. Don't let my camera skills deter you from the recipe!

This blogging thing means I get to meet new people, eat their delicious food, and talk to them about food without that blank gaze that sometimes develops in those not obsessed with food. Cool, huh? Last night I enjoyed an evening at Alanna's to meet Pille of Nami-Nami. We talked Estonian food, shared a delicious meal, and got to know the people behind the blogs a little better. My fellow bloggers were so considerate to make vegan items such as Joy's homemade bread, Nupur's summer rolls, Alanna's seven layer salad with vegan dressing, and Pille's gorgeous red onion and orange salad. Hmm...I guess my To Do List just grew by a few items with the addition of these recipes to try!

The recipe for the unphotogenic BBQ Black Beans is adapted from Cooking Light. With soyrizo, vegan worcestershire, jalapeno, fresh ginger, and rum, it has a little heat behind the smoky, sweet flavor. My version is below. Now I'm off to tackle Item #1 on my To Do List- sync a new playlist to my Nano for my 4 hours on the road for work tomorrow.

BBQ Black Beans with Dark Rum
5 ounces soyrizo
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined, and minced
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup dark rum
1/4 cup wet mustard
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon Happy Dogs Hot Sauce
1/2 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

Cook soyrizo in a skillet over medium heat until slightly browned, stirring occasionally. Put aside in a bowl. Heat oil in the skillet over medium heat and saute onions, jalapeno, and garlic. Cook a few minutes until onion is translucent. Add remaining ingredients except for the beans. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add soyrizo and beans, and simmer for about 45 minutes over very low heat. Stir occasionally, and check for seasonings at the end.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Curried Couscous Salad

I've had curry on the brain since my friend Anne told me that it might have health benefits. Come to find out, this USA Today article mentions prevention of Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease, and joint inflammation among the possible benefits of turmeric, a main ingredient in curry powder. With this in mind, this recipe on Epicurious caught my eye, calling for a whopping two tablespoons of curry powder.

Wow, this salad is not only brain food, but pretty to look at too. I love the golden hue. I made several changes to the recipe and will tweak it a little more next time. I'll probably start out with less oil and work up to the full amount if need be. The addition of dried fruit, such as chopped apricots, would work well too.

Curried Couscous Salad
2 Tablespoons curry powder
2 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups diced vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, and zucchini
10 ounces couscous
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup minced fresh chives

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stir curry powder to toast for about 1 minute. Add vegetable broth, salt, and diced vegetables. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in couscous, cover, and let stand about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine couscous with garbanzos, oil, vinegar, ginger, and chives. Check for seasonings; add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warm or at room temp.


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