Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No Cook Mediterranean Salad

This colorful salad comes together with little effort besides the rhythmic chopping of vegetables. Since I find chopping vegetables oddly therapeutic, that was a plus for me. No cooking is required, just some advanced planning to give things time to marinate. I already had some "tofu feta" on hand, making life even easier. The salad was inspired by a recipe in Simple Vegetarian Pleasures, and the tofu feta is from the Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook.

The Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook is a lot of fun. I haven't tried many recipes yet, but they look tasty and creative. I can be a slacker in the kitchen, avoiding labor intensive dishes, so these recipes with lots of white space on the page look right up my alley. Ruby Red Vegan recently posted a virtual tour of her visit to the restaurant, full of amazing looking dishes.

The "tofu feta" is very good, but to me is more of a flavorful marinated tofu rather than a feta taste-alike. The recipe calls for marinating tofu cubes in a vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, and some seasoning. You can also skip the tofu feta and increase the chickpeas in the recipe below. This salad is best the day it's made because the texture of fresh tomatoes doesn't keep well in my opinion. Unless you are actually serving 4-6 people, you might cut the recipe in half rather than have leftovers.

Mediterranean Salad
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup tofu feta cubes
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced

Dressing for salad:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

2 cups torn pieces of arugula

Place the chickpeas, tofu feta, tomato, onion, and pepper in a bowl. Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to mix. Dress the salad and allow to marinate for at least an hour. Add the arugula just before serving.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Caramelized Onion and Green Curry Dip

Caramelized onions have been something of a mystery to me. The various recipes I've tried just haven't worked, resulting in crispy, brown bits. However, I checked out The Improvisational Cook from the library, and this recipe fit the bill. The onions cooked down into a spreadable sweet mixture and my house still smells delicious. We used the onions as a condiment for barbecued seitan sandwiches, and I made up this dip featuring them as well.

Zucchini discs make healthy, pretty dippers for this simultaneously sweet and spicy appetizer. But let's not kid ourselves, the creamy slivers of onion would taste even better transported to your mouth by some salty potato chips. Also, you could scoop out the inside of a baked potato and combine with this dip for some major comfort food.

Caramelized Onions
2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced, almost transparent
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
freshly ground black pepper

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onions and salt and stir. Cover with a lid and cook for about 13 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to moderate, and stir occasionally for about 13 minutes or until most liquid has evaporated. Add the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10-15 minutes. Season with pepper, and more salt if needed. Will keep refrigerated for a few days.

Caramelized Onion and Green Curry Dip
1/3 cup Tofutti sour cream
1/3 cup Vegenaise vegan mayo
1/3 cup caramelized onions
1 teaspoon vegan green curry paste
salt to taste

Stir. Consume.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Prospect Park Potato Salad

This is some witchy potato salad from Veganomicon. The spell began when I felt compelled to take a bite, take a photo, take a bite, take a photo. Well that didn't work out so well and I had to start over with another dish for photos. The spell continued for days, as I found myself eating potato salad at odd hours and whenever I neared the refrigerator.

Although I prefer to make a recipe the first time around as written by the chef, I didn't have cucumbers or dill on hand, so I substituted dill pickles. Obviously, the result made me quite happy, but I want to try the recipe as intended next time. I guess I run the risk of its witchy charm being even stronger!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Arroz Verde

Rice cooking, I fear you no more. Yes, I've been somewhat Mexican-focused of late, but I was determined to veganize's Arroz Verde. Santo Dios! We loved it.

I can't quite put my finger on what makes this rice irresistible. The mild heat of the poblanos? The vibrant green color? The depth of flavor from the broth?

Whatever it is, let me tell you that this recipe is perfect for those of us who are challenged in the rice cooking department. The poblano puree means it will naturally turn out a little sticky! You can go all hardcore and try Rick Bayless's tips for resolving the stickiness, but I say why bother? Pressure is off, dear readers. Make it sticky and enjoy.

Arroz Verde
about 5 servings

2 fresh poblano peppers, chopped (stems, seeds, and veins removed)
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (stem, seeds, veins removed)
2 scallions, chopped
1 cup cilantro, include stems and leaves
1/2 cup baby spinach
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 cup long-grain brown rice
2 cups vegetable broth

In a food processor, combine peppers, scallions, cilantro, spinach, and salt with 1/4 cup water. Process until pureed with no large pieces remaining. Set aside.
In a pot (with a lid), heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute the rice for about 3 minutes.
Add the poblano puree and simmer for about 1 minute.
Then add the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and cover with a lid.
Cook until rice is done and liquid is largely absorbed. My rice package directions indicated to cook for 50 minutes, but with the poblano puree added, I cooked mine for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

So Sweet

Jennifer, of Small Space Sweets, nominated me for the Brillante Weblog Award! Thank you so much Jennifer. It's kind of you to share the award! Jennifer just started blogging recently, and she's sharing some great looking recipes. Not to mention her entertaining Weekend Roundup!

Now I get to nominate 7 bloggers for the award in turn. As you can see from my blogroll, I have quite a few blogs I enjoy. But this time around, here are my picks:

Destiny's Vegan Kitchen for gorgeous photos

La Vegan Loca for Corn Week

Vegan Homemade because she's moving and still has time to make hedgehog potatoes

Vegan Invasion for coolest banner, she's out of bubblegum and guess what that means!

Vegantabulous! who has no idea who I am but she's got to be awesome for posting this ditty on feminism

The Voracious Vegan for her Truffle Trifecta (and more gorgeous photos)

Yo Soy! for being so witty

Thanks again, Jennifer! This was fun and it's nice to hear you enjoy my blog!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vegan Enchilada Casserole

What to do with lots of homemade refried beans? Make Fatfree Vegan Kitchen's Enchilada Casserole! This was my first time to make an enchilada-type dish since going vegan. Did we miss the cheese? No we did not.

There is so much going on in this dish with pintos, red peppers, golden tomatoes, corn, salsa, and spices. I did use a store-bought enchilada sauce, and will make my own next time for even more flavor. I think a sprinkle of cilantro and scallions would be another great addition. There's a lot of flexibility here. Choose your favorite Mexican flavors and get creative!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jennifer's Traditional Refried Beans

All things fell into place this weekend for me to try Jennifer's Traditional Vegan Refried Beans from Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings. I've had my eye on her recipe for a while, which she described as a more authentic version than recipes with stronger flavors. Friday I picked up local jalapenos and organic pintos from Local Harvest Grocery, so I was set to soak the beans Friday night and keep an eye on the crockpot Saturday morning. I ended up cooking them on high for about four hours.

Jennifer's recipe is delicious! The beans have a straightforward pinto taste with a hint of garlic. This simple dish will complement rather than compete with other flavors in the meal. Just right to accompany one of those incredible looking sauces that Jennifer creates.

Coming soon, I've got a plan for those poblanos, and it involves more practice with cooking rice!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tex Mex Tempeh and Penne

I wasn't sure what to expect from this Whole Foods recipe. Soymilk, tempeh, and pasta? Sounded a little weird to me.

My desire to try more tempeh dishes won out, with good results. This dish reminded me of a baked pasta casserole, but in a skillet. My modifications, noted below, turned up the heat and smokiness with chipotle powder and fire roasted tomatoes. And then you get a sweet bite of corn or a nutty tempeh nugget. Spicy, unique, and delicious!

I'd definitely make it again, although perhaps not for company other than my more open-minded friends (you know who you are). This is somewhat of an ugly duckling of casseroles. But sometimes comfort food ain't pretty.

Tex Mex Tempeh and Penne

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound tempeh, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels
1 can diced green chiles (4 ounces)
8 ounces whole wheat penne
1/2 cup salsa (I used Senorita Merz, which is local and cumin-y)
1 cup unsweetened plain soymilk
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon ground chipotle powder
2 teaspoons salt

In a large skillet (that has a lid), saute onion, bell pepper, and tempeh in olive oil for about 10 minutes. About 7 minutes into the cooking time, add the garlic to the skillet. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rum Punch and Behind the Apron

Although I tend to favor gin for cocktails, vacations get me to venture outside my routine. A trip to Jamaica last year introduced me to the Rum Punch cocktail. I'm sure the punch part refers to the combination of fruit juices, but punch also describes the powerful rum flavor.

This drink says, "you are now officially on vacation", even if the vacation is just a weekend on your porch. It tastes almost as good as it did in Negril.

Rum Punch
Serves 2

1/2 ounce agave nectar
1/2 ounce cold water
2/3 cup mango juice
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 shots (3 ounces) dark rum (or possibly a smidge more)
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 ounce grenadine
1/2 cup club soda
frozen blueberries to garnish, optional

Combine agave nectar and cold water in a shot glass and stir. Add this to a pitcher along with juices, rum, and grenadine. Stir. Add club soda. Serve over ice.

Speaking of Jamaica, this is me enjoying a gorgeous sunset in Negril.

28 Cooks is hosting Behind the Apron , encouraging bloggers to put a face to the blog names by posting a picture and saying something about yourself. I always enjoy hearing a little about bloggers I read, so here's a little about me as well.

My husband (MD for Mandolin Don), Scout, and I live in a historic neighborhood in the city of St. Louis. While a 100-year-old house comes with challenges, we do have ferocious lions guarding the mantel.

I'm new to blogging and veganism. After being a vegetarian for many years, I became vegan in January and started blogging in March. You won't find complicated recipes here, just me sharing vegan food that I like. I imagine my blog saying, "Hey there. Look at this delicious vegan food. Not scary at all, is it? Wanna try some?" I love seeing what fellow bloggers are cooking up and hearing from readers in comments.

When I'm not working as a psychologist or in my free time doing something related to food, these days I'm probably looking for some live music in town, making a list for one thing or another, and trying to convince Scout that she's not the boss of me. (Fat chance.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Naked Burrito

I'm working on my rice making skills with the help of Alice Waters. Sometimes my rice turns out crunchy, sometimes wet. It seems like a rather temperamental food to be so ubiquitous. I reckon it's me.

So I turned to The Art of Simple Food and decided to make the Red Rice Pilaf for a burrito bowl. My modifications are indicated below. Of course, I didn't have enough rice on hand to follow the recipe precisely, but my adjustments turned out fine except that I'd start with less olive oil next time.

Once you have some rice cooked up, this flavorful dish comes together pretty easily. I think it makes a great summertime lunch; not heavy, but full of veggies, beans, and citrus flavor. Don't forget the hot sauce at the end!

Naked Burrito
Makes about 2 large servings.

For the rice:
1 Tablespoon olive oil (I'll decrease this by half next time)
1 tiny onion, chopped
1/2 cup long-grain rice, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup green peas
1/2 cup broccoli, diced

Heat the oil over medium heat in large pot. Saute the onion about two minutes, until translucent. Add the rice and saute about five minutes. Add the garlic, tomato, salt, and cilantro, and cook for another one to two minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes. After it cooks about 7 minutes, add the peas and broccoli to the top of the rice. Return cover and cook for remaining time. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.

For the vinaigrette:
juice from 1/2 lime (about 1 Tablespoon)
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine the lime juice, garlic, black pepper, and about 3 pinches of salt (or to taste). Using a fork, whisk in the olive oil. You won't need the whole batch to dress your burrito bowl.

For the rest:
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 tomato (leftover from the one used for rice), seeded and chopped
cilantro, chopped
hot sauce and lime wedge to garnish

Bring together in a bowl rice/veggie mixture, beans, diced tomato, cilantro, and vinaigrette to taste. Top with hot sauce and lime juice.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Spicy Red Pepper Dip with Cumin Pita Chips

Here's what we're munching on while deciding what to do tonight. As you can see from my Sriracha garnish, we like it hot. Adjust to your liking!

Spicy Red Pepper Dip
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves roasted garlic (see pan roasting directions)
approximately 1/2 cup roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon Thai chili garlic paste
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Sriracha sauce to garnish

After pan roasting your garlic, combine all ingredients except Sriracha sauce in a food processor and pulse until blended into a smooth dip. Garnish with Sriracha.

Cumin Pita Chips
adapted from Cooking Light

6 pita pockets
extra virgin olive oil in a mister
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
ground cumin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each pita into 8 triangles. Mist a baking sheet with olive oil and put triangles in a single layer on the sheet. Spritz the pita pieces with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and ground cumin. Bake about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Spanish Potatoes

I do love to make "wine bar" food at home. Varied small plates, a big red wine, and some ultra smooth music that just breathes "relax". Federico Aubele is as smooth as they get.

This dish resembles the spicy potatoes you find at tapas restaurants. The fire roasted tomatoes add a smoky depth, and the sweet potatoes provide such a pretty orange contrast and a little sweet touch. This version isn't super spicy, so some cayenne or chipotle would be a nice touch as well.

Spanish Potatoes
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

2 pounds potatoes (I used red and sweet), cut into bite-sized chunks
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cover the potatoes in salted water in a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook, partially covered, about 10 minutes, until they begin to get tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil over low heat in a skillet, add onions and garlic, and saute, covered, for about 10 minutes. Add chili powders and cook another two minutes. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the potatoes to the skillet and cook for about 10 minutes, or until they are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste, and chopped parsley.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Barbecued Tofu

MD was amused that my July 4th post was a Jamaican-inspired dish rather than a traditional US dish more typical for the holiday. I can be rather oppositional unconventional at times, and am not really big on tradition. Remember those Cinco de Mayo burgers in June?

For those occasions when you want to enjoy a vegan barbecue dish, actually on a summer holiday or several days later, this one is a winner. Of course, barbecue isn't just for the 4th of July, and we'll be enjoying this recipe for months to come. The tofu becomes chewy from pan frying, and then soaks up the tangy barbecue sauce while baking. The original recipe is linked below and I've written up the version we enjoyed too.

By the way, I updated my Vegan blogroll. Take a look to see whether there are any unfamiliar blogs you want to check out! There is so much vegan wit, creativity, and delicious eating out there.

Barbecued Tofu
adapted from Bryant Terry in Satya

2 blocks extra-firm tofu, cut as directed below and pressed
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
juice from 1 lime
3/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
2 Tablespoons cumin
5 Tablespoons maple syrup

For each block of tofu, turn it on its side and cut into thirds. Keep the thirds together and turn the block back over so the larger surface area faces up. Make two cuts diagonally (like an X) so that you have 12 triangles for each block. Press the triangles for 30 minutes by wrapping them in clean kitchen towels, putting a cookie sheet on top, and piling on some cans.

While the tofu is pressing, make the barbecue sauce in a food processor. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil, the apple cider vinegar, lime juice, tamari, ketchup, spices, syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water. Process until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu pieces and cook for about 10 minutes on each side to brown lightly. Drain on clean kitchen towels and pat them a little.

Put the triangles in a large casserole dish and cover with the barbecue sauce. Cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour, turning once halfway through.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Kale and Chickpea Soup

Last weekend I brought home some fresh, local kale from the Tower Grove Farmers' Market and put it to good use in this delicious soup. This is a brothy vegetable soup that isn't too heavy, even for a hot day. The kale becomes tender but not limp. I paired a big bowl with a peanut butter sandwich, a flavor I think is just perfect with tomato-y soups.

Kale and Chickpea Soup
adapted from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
7 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
about 7 packed cups fresh kale, leafy parts torn from stalks (discard stalks), and chopped

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions through garlic and cook about 15 minutes, until they begin to brown. Stir occasionally. Add the tomatoes with juice and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring the tomatoes to a simmer. Add the chickpeas and simmer about 5 minutes. Add the broth, bay leaves, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Add kale and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and salt to taste.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh

Happy 4th of July! This recipe won't keep you in the kitchen long so you can find a great spot for viewing fireworks. It caught my eye while looking for a new way to try tempeh. If you're unfamiliar with it, tempeh is a cultured soy food that can be found in square or rectangular cakes in the refrigerated section of stores such as Whole Foods or Local Harvest Grocery. It's a good source of protein and high in iron. I've neglected tempeh, mainly turning to it for Tempeh Spread sandwiches, one of our favorites. So I'm branching out to try something new with this recipe.

For this dish, you make a quick marinade, nestle tempeh strips in a casserole dish, and bake. The marinade is simple to prepare, and smells tantalizing while baking. When I pulled this dish out of the oven, I thought, "Hmm." The strips looked kind of tan, not the most appealing food color. But I took one bite and immediately Hmm went to "MMmmm!" The tempeh has a nutty taste, and the sauce is spicy and slightly sweet. I just love the cinnamon and allspice seasonings. These strips would be delicious served with rice or just as they are with a vegetable side.

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh
adapted from Vegetarian Times

3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small red onion, diced
1 large fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1/2 a lemon (about 1 Tablespoon)
3/4 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
Spritzer of extra virgin olive oil
2 (8-ounce) packages tempeh, each one cut across into ten thin strips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except for tempeh strips, in a medium bowl. Pour marinade into a large casserole dish. Put the strips in the dish, turning so that each side is dipped in marinade. The tops of my strips weren't nestled into the marinade, so I also spritzed them with some extra virgin olive oil. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Red Potatoes, Green Beans, and Pasta with Vegan Spinach Pesto

Sometimes a happy coincidence leads to a new recipe. MD recently mentioned eating a pasta dish with pesto, green beans, and potatoes. I had all the components on hand, so I was able to make a vegan version! This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart. The potatoes, green beans, and pasta are prepared together in one pot, and this comes together quickly if your pesto is prepped already. The pesto and potatoes make it rich and creamy, and the green beans add a nice crunch. So versatile, because it's good warm, at room temp, and even right out of the fridge. And I mentioned the potatoes, right?

I had pesto on hand because I'd re-visited the recipe for all basil pesto I made previously. I thought subbing out some of the basil for baby spinach might help retain the bright green hue since basil oxidizes and turns black with chopping. Sure enough, this batch stayed bright longer, and I also liked the addition of more garlic.

Spinach Basil Vegan Pesto

1 cup fresh basil
1 cup baby spinach
4 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup pinenuts
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

In a food processor, combine basil through nutritional yeast until it forms a coarse paste. Slowly add the oil and process until combined. Salt to taste.

Red Potatoes, Green Beans, and Pasta with Spinach Pesto

1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2 to 1-inch chunks
1 Tablespoon salt
8 ounces whole wheat penne
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup vegan spinach pesto

Put potatoes into a Dutch oven covered in plenty of water (enough to accommodate the pasta you add later.) Bring to a boil. Add salt and penne, and bring to a boil again. Cook for two minutes. Add green beans and return to a boil. Cook until your pasta is al dente. Drain and combine with pesto. Salt and pepper to taste.


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