Monday, November 9, 2009

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals is the first non-fiction book (other than cookbooks) that has caught my interest in a while. The author of Everything Is Illuminated researched eating animals in preparation for the birth of his child so that he could make an informed decision about his child's diet. Foer is no animal rights activist, but someone who previously ate a vegetarian diet on-and-off, and who is interested in knowing the facts behind his food. This book shares his research, including visits to family farms, interviews with factory farm workers, and nights spent with an animal activist during farm visits.

Each chapter begins by highlighting one fact, and these alone will cause reflection. Consider that "Less than 1% of the animals killed for meat in America come from family farms." Visualize that "in the typical cage for egg-laying hens, each bird has 67 square inches of space". Foer includes an image to demonstrate just how small this is.

The information presented never seemed dry to me, a credit to Foer's writing style and creative strategies for illustrating points. Sometimes Foer approaches subjects by raising questions to challenge our assumptions, such as his examination of A Case for Eating Dogs. Foer even looks at the emotional ties we have to food, as well as the social implications of our food choices. I found his tone consistently respectful and not preachy.

Reading information that could rock your world does pose some risks. Living without that information has consequences as well.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vegan Red Curry Chicken and Vegetables with Coral Red Jasmine Rice

After seeing how much fun Bianca (of Vegan Crunk) is having with the Whole Foods Recipes app, I got it too and found this quick red curry dish to adapt and veganize. The Whole Foods app allows you to search for recipes based on items you have on hand (I searched on chicken and coconut milk, planning to use chicken-style seitan, of course). You can also search according to course, category, and special diet (including vegan, vegetarian, and dairy free). You can save recipes to cook at a later date under Favorites. Each recipe includes separate tabs for the overview, ingredients, and method, and many have colorful photos. Plenty of iFun for those who love to try new recipes.

I increased the red curry paste for more heat, amongst other changes, and served this over Coral Red jasmine rice. This rice is a nice change of pace from white jasmine, with a slightly nuttier texture and pretty merlot color. Scroll down for my adaptation of the recipe.

I was happy to hear from Ecorazzi that Natalie Portman will be the guest on Top Chef this week! I don't know whether she'll ask the chefs to cook vegetarian or vegan, but I'll be tuned in either way.

And thanks to Sara Beth again, I found out there's another St. Louis restaurant where a vegan can order a pizza with vegan cheese - Bottleworks. It's listed on the online menu under pizza toppings. I can't wait to give it a try.

Finally, the Shelter Pet Project is up and running and looks like a fun site to explore. The goal is to dispel myths regarding shelter pets, encourage shelter adoptions, and facilitate matches between pets and people. The PSA below is priceless.

Vegan Red Curry Chicken and Vegetables

1 pound 2 ounce container chicken-style seitan, chopped
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
12 ounces chopped mushrooms
1 large carrot, thinly sliced into half moons
1 can coconut milk
2 Tablespoons vegan red curry paste
salt to taste
3/4 - 1 cup frozen cut green beans
handful cilantro, chopped
rice of choice, prepared according to package

Heat the oil over medium heat in a very large skillet. Saute seitan, onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, and carrot for about 10 minutes. Add coconut milk and red curry paste. Stir until curry paste is distributed throughout the stew. Add salt to taste and green beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add cilantro and serve over rice.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vegan Pizza at Pi Pizzeria

Last weekend I was reading Sara Beth's Happy Bellies blog, and discovered that vegan pizza has finally arrived in St. Louis! I'm not talking making do by having a place hold the cheese if you are lucky enough to find a restaurant offering a vegan crust. (Sadly, St. Louis vegans are still "making do" far too often when we dine out.) I'm talking a real vegan pizza with melted cheese to hold all the delicious toppings in place.

Pi Pizzeria to the rescue. Pi offers vegan cheese and vegan sausage which you can order on the thin-style (vegan) crust. MD and I got down to business and ordered one to carry out the same night that I read the news. Less than a week later we were back for another pizza, this time with vegan cheese, vegan sausage, onions, and red bell pepper. We added our own jalapeno slices at home. The cheese melts well and has a creamy texture. I think the sausage could be more flavorful and I also added salt, but overall this pizza was excellent.

Thank you Pi! We look forward to many more visits.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

SweetArt's Vegan Delights and Pumpkin

Being vegan in St. Louis just got even sweeter. SweetArt now offers vegan cupcakes and vegan brownies EVERYDAY! Kelly of Vegan Thyme recently gave high praise to the brownies. And she's right. Now we have the dilemma of choosing between brownies and cupcakes any day. This week I selected the vegan French Toast cupcake. Moist, sweet, and just the right maple syrup flavor.

This was the finishing touch to a decadent and delicious lunch that started with the Botanical wrap, a whole wheat tortilla wrapped around baked tofu, avocado, red cabbage, scallions, and cilantro with a spicy peanut dressing. And it sounds like new lunch items will be on the menu soon. So go, support vegan dining in St. Louis, and leave full and happy. (Plus you'll get your Nina Simone fix from their playlist while you're there. Could this get any better?)

And now for the dog portion of the post. The Humane Society of Missouri is featuring black dogs for adoption in September. You have likely heard that black dogs are often passed by in shelters, so this month these wonderful pups are highlighted.

Pumpkin is my current favorite HSMO black dog. She looks a little shy in this photo, but she is actually very playful, spunky, sweet, smart, and affectionate. You should see this young girl prancing around on her walks carrying her favorite stuffed teddy bear. She is adoptable at the Macklind location.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Edited 9/26/09 to share the good news that Pumpkin has been adopted!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tempeh Sloppy Joes, Creamy Miso Ginger Dressing, and Ruby

Busy summer days mean cooking previously-tried recipes that I know will be quick and easy, but unfortunately that also means less to blog! I made Caribbean Pumpkin Soup again on a recent visit to SC. We also took along Follow Your Heart Organic Creamy Miso Ginger dressing.

I usually prefer to make my own dressing, but the convenience of store bought was appealing to have along on a trip. I'm hard to please when it comes to store bought dressings, but I would definitely buy this one again! It is creamy and a little sweet, and tastes delicious on salad or as a dip for vegan chicken pieces. Above you see it on a simple salad of baby spinach, grape tomatoes, and broccolini.

The salad is alongside one of the few new recipes I've tried recently, Tempeh Sloppy Joes from The Vegan Table. I find myself drawn to try practically every new sloppy joe recipe I see, and this one will go into my regular rotation. I seasoned it liberally with chili powder and the sauce turned out to be very flavorful even though the ingredient list was pretty short. You can find a variety of recipes from the book here and here and here.

And finally, one reason I'm keeping busy this summer is pictured below. We adopted Ruby from the Humane Society of Missouri!

I think she's saying "are you my new people?" in this one.

And here she's decided that getting adopted makes for a tired girl.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Caribbean Pumpkin Soup

Random notes and busy-ness from the past week or so and those to come:

Local Harvest Cafe now features a special vegan dish on the menu Tuesday nights, when Chef Molly is in the kitchen. Last Tuesday we enjoyed the World's Best enchiladas, stuffed with refried beans and vegetables and smothered in the most delicious smoky sauce. I kid you not. Looks like there might be a special event next Tuesday; I'm not sure about a vegan dish that night, but they seem to be tweeting about the Tuesday night menu here.

We are SO ready for the weekend, and will kick it off right by seeing Deano Waco /Meat Purveyors at a house concert Friday. After a long week of immersion in learning a new treatment modality and driving my co-workers batty by spouting geeky psych terms like "therapy-interfering behaviors" about 25 times a day, the weekend isn't here a moment too soon for any of us.

There's more fun next weekend with the Folk School Trivia Night Fundraiser. Do people love trivia night gatherings in your town as much as St. Louis seems to? Anyway, my honey is the musician in the family, and we'll be there to support the Folk School if not get any questions right.

Did y'all see Isa Chandra Moskowitz's series of blog posts on Powell's Books? Sometimes it's so hard to talk about veganism with non-vegans that I bite my tongue and let my actions speak for me. (All my friends are now saying, "you do???") Except for when I blurt out that meat is murder. So I loved the balance Isa struck in her post called There Is No Vegan's Dilemma. You can find additional posts here.

And now for today's vegan recipe. This creamy, rich soup is decadent and tropical, with the added bonus that it is so quick and easy to prepare. Enjoy and have a great weekend.

Caribbean Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4-6

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1 cup Not Chik'n broth (or vegetable broth)
4 heaping tablespoons cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 small lime
salt, freshly ground black pepper, hot salt, and/or hot sauce to taste

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onions and bell pepper for about 6 minutes, until tender. Add garlic, cumin, and ground chipotle. Saute about 30 seconds. Add black beans, pintos, pumpkin, coconut milk, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Add cilantro, lime juice, and desired seasonings.

Adapted from Epicurious

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Vegetable Rundown

Vegetable Rundown is a Jamaican stew of coconut milk and vegetables, seasoned with thyme and allspice for that Jamaican flavor. The stew is simmered long enough for the broth to become thick and creamy. This turned out slightly sweet with a little subtle heat from the habanero. We chose the theme "Jamaican Me Hungry" for our turn to host Supper Club, and this dish made the menu. I'm still debating whether to make Jamaican Patties, BBQ Black Beans with Dark Rum, or Ital Stew for another main. Rum Punch, of course, will be the cocktail of the evening. Leave me a comment if you have a favorite Jamaican vegan recipe!

And now for something that has nothing to do with vegan food. I recently found a blog, the fbomb, after reading about it in Bust. While the target audience is teenage girls, I've enjoyed reading it for feminist-related news and topics. Today you'll find another installment of Support Women Artists Sunday. Check it out!

Before today's recipe, I leave you with this week's installment of HSMO cuteness, Bunny. She is adorable, sweet, and adoptable at the Macklind location.

Vegetable Rundown
Serves 4-6

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 scallions, chopped and divided
3 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 habanero chile, minced
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
14 ounces sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
1 1/4 cups water, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups frozen corn
5 ounces baby spinach
jasmine rice

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and 2 scallions, thyme, garlic, allspice, and habanero. Saute for about 8 minutes. Add coconut milk and simmer gently about 3 minutes (reduce heat if necessary). Add sweet potato, carrots, zucchini, 1 cup water, and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add corn and remaining water. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, for about 20 minutes. Add water if necessary. Remove cover and continue to cook down until the broth is thick. Add baby spinach and cook for a couple of minutes until wilted. Check for seasonings. Serve over jasmine rice and garnish with remaining fresh scallions.

Adapted from Epicurious

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Spicy Portobellas and Pinenuts with Spaghetti

This savory pasta dish can be filed under "full-flavored comfort food, fast". For minimal effort, you get spicy portobellas with toasted pinenuts, garlic, and fresh basil over whole wheat spaghetti. A delicious finish to a long day when you want to get in and out of the kitchen quickly. My version is pretty spicy; cut down on the pepper flakes if you prefer.

And don't miss Top Chef Masters this week! The chefs must make a vegan, soy-free, and gluten-free meal for Zooey Deschanel. For real.

Spicy Portobellas and Pinenuts with Spaghetti
Serves 4

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 large portobellas (about 8 ounces), thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted
freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over moderately low heat in a large skillet. Cook garlic and red pepper flakes for about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and salt and cook for about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms release their juices and begin to brown.

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain.

To the mushrooms, add chopped basil, toasted pinenuts, and black pepper. Combine with the cooked spaghetti. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and add salt to taste.

Adapted from Food and Wine

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Karina's Jalapeño and Lime Hummus

I recently came across this Jalapeño and Lime Hummus recipe while looking around Karina's Kitchen blog. As many of you know, Karina's blog is beautifully photographed with many vegan recipes to explore. This hummus turned out to be delicious. My only change was to substitute pinto beans for the chickpeas, just because we were out. While I've used tahini in many bean dips, I've never used peanut butter, so I'm glad I tried Karina's recipe to find out how well it works! And don't skimp on the lime juice. It lends a strong citrus flavor that is just right.

Before wrapping up, I want to share this fun video of "Pit Bull Blues" by John Shipe. If you've been thinking of adopting a pit or pit mix, check out the HSMO where you are sure to find one you can't resist.

By the way, I almost forgot to give a "pine mouth" update! Thank you for the sympathetic comments. The metal taste lasted about 5 days, and now I'm ready to try another pine nut recipe, with a new batch of nuts, of course.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pine Mouth and the Quinoa Salad that Wasn't

It dawned on me yesterday that everything had been tasting bitter, since, uh, since Sunday! (Why it took me three days to notice the pattern is still a mystery.) Poblanos, wine, salad, everything. After this realization, I came to the hysterical logical conclusion that I must have a stress-induced neurological disorder. A quick search on the internet did not reveal this high on the list of potential diagnoses, but pregnancy, GERD, and a hernia were. Not liking any of those answers, my research continued and I noticed that food blog posts about pine nuts kept popping up. What does that have to do with my symptom?

Everything, it seems. After eating a dish including pine nuts, I apparently developed pine mouth. Some people develop a reaction after eating pine nuts resulting in a bitter, metallic taste that can last a couple of weeks! I've eaten plenty of pine nuts in my day, and this is my first experience with metal mouth. It's been proposed that certain pine nuts may be rancid, and those imported from China seem particularly risky. The weird thing is that not everyone reacts with the bitter taste after consuming them. I checked my recently purchased batch from a local grocery store chain, and sure enough, they are from China. From now on, it's back to the Italian brand I used to buy that never caused me this problem.

As you can imagine, the perception that I've been chewing on pencil lead every time I consume something is not so helpful for creating recipes. I created this quinoa salad before I realized my tasters were out of whack.

Tastes bitter to me. MD says it's bland. Oh well. I will leave the cooking up to the rest of you for now! Have a great weekend, and let's be careful out there (about pine nuts).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Gin Cocktails, Dogs, and Tofu Goulash

Summertime is in full swing in St. Louis and time is flying. What's been up since my last post? I've been keeping up with your blogs. (You all put me to shame with your consistent posting!) Otherwise, a new cocktail book, get togethers, and dogs have consumed my time.

Mix Shake Stir by Danny Meyer makes me want to run away from home to become a mixologist. I could spend hours poring over the gorgeous photos and both innovative and classic recipes in this book. Above you see the Rickshaw, a straightforward gin cocktail with basil-infused simple syrup and lime juice. Created to "make gin fun." (Who says it's not?) The book includes recipes for infusing simple syrup and alcohol, cocktails, special garnishes, and mixers, mostly inspired by the seasonal kitchen.

On the food front, I've relied on some already posted recipes such as Tipsy Soft Tacos for the most recent Supper Club (our friends chose Cooking with Beer as the theme). We had Sweet Tahini Miso Dip with Sugar Snap Peas and Carrots for dippers as well as Cannellini Spread with Sundried Tomatoes and Basil with Crostini for a July 4th get together.

And of course Humane Society dogs such as Maxine and Hailey keep me entertained. (They can be found here, select dogs, then dogs again, and search by names or St. Louis City location.) Maxine is such a goofy girl who loves to play on her walks. She has a special pink stuffed bunny that she brings along. You can catch a hint of her personality and playfulness at the end of this video.

Before I get to a recipe, you have likely heard about the HSMO and HSUS participation in the largest dog fighting raid and rescue in US history. The most recent number I saw was over 400 dogs rescued and being cared for. The HSMO could use money donations or large box fans, sheets, full-size towels, blankets, shredded paper, newspaper, creamy peanut butter and sturdy toys. Donations can be dropped off at the Humane Society of Missouri Headquarters at 1201 Macklind Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110.

Finally, I did recently try a new recipe when I wanted to get dinner on the table and practically the only fresh vegetable around was bok choy. A variation on a couple of recipes for Tofu Goulash did the trick. This sounded a little weird to me, but turned out delicious. You can't beat vegetable soup with tofu for a filling, one-dish meal. Have a great weekend everyone!

Tofu Goulash with Bok Choy
Serves 6-8

14 ounces firm tofu
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
14 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 head bok choy, leaves sliced and stalks chopped into 1-inch pieces
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Crumble the tofu into a bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot (that has a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the tofu, paprika, and tomato paste. Stir periodically and cook until the mixture becomes mostly dry and begins to stick slightly to the pot.

Add the tomatoes, stock and water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes. Add the bok choy, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

Monday, June 22, 2009

African Peanut Soup with Red Beans

Around the Show Me casa, we eat hot soup all year long. Even in the midst of an Excessive Heat Warning (temps in the upper 90's with heat indices over 110 degrees). So I guess we're pretty serious soup lovers.

This vegan bowl of goodness (adapted from Mark Bittman's West African Peanut Soup with Chicken) will be filed amongst our favorites. The rich peanut butter and sweet potatoes complement each other so well. And with kale too, this soup has nearly all of our preferred ingredients. Substitute red beans for chicken and this hearty soup will have you going Vegan Before 6 and After 6 too!

Don't forget the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, including a St. Louis location at the Tower Grove Park Farmers' Market this Saturday before noon.

African Peanut Soup with Red Beans
Serves 6

3/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped and divided
2 Tablespoons peanut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste
6 cups vegetable stock
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 15 ounce cans red beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 pound kale, stems discarded and leaves sliced
1/4 cup peanut butter

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger for about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the peanuts, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the vegetable stock, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and red beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add kale and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are done. Add peanut butter and stir until combined. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of the remaining peanuts.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Baby Spinach

This thick and fragrant lentil soup features red lentils, garbanzos, baby spinach, and carrots. The curry powder and fenugreek smell amazing, and the plentiful leftovers will tide you over during a busy week. Uncooked red lentils are a pretty pink-orange color, but become yellow when cooked. The use of red lentils as opposed to other types allows this soup to cook up quickly.

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Baby Spinach
Serves 6-8

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
heaping 1/2 cup sliced carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 pound red lentils
15 ounces garbanzos, rinsed and drained
3 1/2 packed cups baby spinach
kosher salt to taste, optional

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and carrots for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, curry powder, fenugreek, and cayenne, and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the broth and water and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil. Add lentils and garbanzos and reduce heat to medium. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for about 8 minutes. Stir a few times while simmering. Add spinach and cook for 2 minutes more, or until wilted. Season with salt if desired.

Adapted from Epicurious

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Of Animals: Photographs by Frank Noelker

This photo is not by Frank Noelker. It's a shot of Scoutster checking out the sprinkler in our backyard (see it hiding behind the pot?) because I can't give you a post without a photo. And because I think our delight and compassion for our beloved dogs and cats should extend to other animals, the subject of this quick post.

An interesting Riverfront Times review alerted me to a photography exhibit that locals might like to check out - Of Animals: Photographs by Frank Noelker at the Sheldon Art Gallery. Photographs include images of animals housed in zoos across the world and the "noble faces" of chimpanzees retired from research, the entertainment industry, and the pet trade. The chimps now reside in sanctuaries. The exhibit should be moving, thought provoking, and inspiring. There is an opening reception Friday June 12th and a free gallery talk by the artist Saturday June 13th, details here.

Hug your animal buddy (or consider adopting one if you don't have one) and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Terrene's Happy Hour

One of my favorite ways to kick off the weekend after a long work week is winding down and catching up over cocktails and small plates at Terrene's bar. There's an urban yet comfy vibe, with a bartender who is warm and gregarious without being intrusive. And these aren't just any bar eats; more on the food in a minute. To top it off, cocktails and small plates are discounted in the bar weekdays, 5-7pm. What's not to love?

We typically order the veggie sausage flatbread, pictured above, which can be requested vegan-style by omitting the cheese. The "sausage" and sundried tomato topping is boldly flavored so you won't miss the cheese except as a substance to hold the delicious crumbs together. Not to worry, you and your honey can quibble over who gets the stray bits and pieces.

We also loved the Tofu on a Stick. Don't let the name deceive you, a favorite for vegans and non-vegans alike, this crispy breaded tofu dipped in Asian-style cashew sauce on a little bed of slaw was irresistable. And who doesn't like vegan food on a stick? Not available currently, the replacement is Chipotle Tofu Tacos.

These tacos had some big shoes to fill after Tofu on a Stick, and they rose to the occasion. Tiny tofu cubes seasoned with chipotle are nestled under pico de gallo and lettuce with a green salsa on the side. The corn tortillas are a little smoky from grilling, I suppose. Mmm!

Of course, if you want to be bad, and you know you do, the frites are the best in town. I'm talking a gigantoid plate of crispy, perfect frites. Just order double dippers of horseradish ketchup, and hold the mayo typically served on the side, until they start offering Vegenaise.

Terrene offers a tofu entree as well, which can be ordered in the bar or the dining area, if you are not interested in small plates (and entrees would not be part of the Happy Hour discount). There is a lovely patio where we've enjoyed many a dinner to impress out of town friends.

But I keep coming back for the bar vibe. I just love the cozy feeling of sharing dishes perched at a little bistro table or at the bar. Terrene staff generally know what "vegan" means and will accomodate your requests and provide helpful information. I typically have a pleasant dining experience that does not feel alienating and restrictive, in contrast to some other establishments in St. Louis.

If you also have a favorite way to kick off the weekend, I'd love to hear it! And have a great one, by the way. Um, I guess it's Tuesday. Is it too early to think about the weekend?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Panang Tofu Curry

Sunday's supper was one of our favorite meals, coconut curry with tofu and vegetables. No one likes to see the weekend wind down, but a special meal on Sunday night extends the fun for a little longer. We like to try various takes on the curry concept, and this version of Panang Tofu Curry is delicious. The beautiful color comes from turmeric, and peanut butter combines with light coconut milk for a thick broth. I made a few substitutions (onions for shallots, green beans for carrots, and green pepper for red pepper). Serve over jasmine rice with Sriracha sauce.

For another colorful recipe, local readers can pick up the current Sauce magazine to check out my article, "Color Yourself on Vacation", including a recipe for Costa Rican-style Arroz sin Pollo. This issue of Sauce has all kind of vegan goodness, also raving about the vegan chocolate chip cookies at Local Harvest Cafe and spot-lighting Patrice Mari, owner of the vegan-friendly Shangri-La Diner.

And finally, you might have noticed the blog's new header, created by my friend Anne Mitchell. Having a friend who is also a talented artist is pretty cool. She even included Scout in the drawing. I love the result. Thank you Anne!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tipsy Soft Tacos

While the official start of summer is a few weeks away, I feel like it's already here after making our first batch of pico de gallo. We could eat this fresh salsa by the bucket. Its tangy flavor contrasts deliciously with the beer-soaked black beans in these tacos. Some toasted pepitas add an almost buttery flavor as well as a little crunch. Diced avocado lends a creamy note. These fillings would work well in burritos or atop tostadas too.

Tipsy Soft Tacos
Serves 4

1 large tomato, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 large jalapeno, seeded and minced
juice from 1/2 lime
small handful cilantro, chopped
kosher salt
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
freshly ground black pepper
12 ounce beer
2 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 avocado, diced
8 corn tortillas

Make the pico de gallo by placing the tomato, 1/4 of the onion, 1/4 of the jalapeno, lime juice, cilantro, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir and set aside. Stir occasionally while you prepare the beans.

Prepare the beans by heating oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining onion and jalapeno. Saute for about 3 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, cumin, chipotle, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute for about 30 seconds. Add beer and black beans. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium or medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Use a potato masher or the back of a spoon to partially mash the beans so they thicken but remain chunky.

Toast the pepitas in a skillet over medium low heat until they become fragrant. Set aside. Heat the tortillas. Prepare each serving by topping tortillas with beans, pico de gallo, avocado, and pepitas.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vegan Enchilada Casserole

I am a sucker for a creamy casserole. I just love the comforting nature of a hot and gooey one dish meal. Pre-vegan, this meant a dish smothered in cheese. Not so animal-friendly. Since going vegan I haven't made many casseroles, as I'm not a fan of the faux cheese I've tried. So over the holiday weekend I searched around the internet to find some new recipes for cheesy casseroles without the cheese.

This one is a keeper. It's a slightly modified and lazy version of Paul McCartney's Ob-La-Di Enchiladas. The tofu filling, seasoned with smoky salsa and spices, and a layer of tofu sour cream added the creamy touch I was looking for. This was so tasty! Below I note a few of the changes I made to this recipe.

And for local folks, here are a few St. Louis vegan news items. I just love getting tips about vegan options in St. Louis. Keep them coming!

Black Bear Bakery will serve vegan buckwheat pancakes upon request. The site also mentions a tempeh reuben and black bean burger, but I don't know whether these can be served vegan. Sounds like a little research outing is called for!

The Royale has several Match options on the menu. Inquire about whether the dishes are vegan. I ordered the Mediterranean pita, no feta, with Match chicken, and the chef very kindly whipped up a vegan sauce to accompany it. I just LOVE restaurants who graciously accommodate vegan requests.

stimulus! baking company offers vegan cupcakes delivered to your St. Louis door. Go St. Louis vegans!

Free Range Cookies offers some vegan sweets too.

I have a new Vital Voice column on Survival Tips for New Vegans, with a recipe for Colorful Peanut Noodles with Vegetables. You can find the print version at area businesses, and the online version should be up in about a month here.

Now back to lazy enchiladas. Here are my changes to the original recipe.

Prepare the sauce according to the original recipe. I used Mexican oregano rather than regular and added salt.

Prepare the tofu filling according to the same recipe. I added salt.

I omitted the spinach. Instead, I sauteed one thinly sliced large portobella mushroom with 1 bunch of shredded chard in olive oil with salt, pepper, and ground chipotle. Squeeze excess moisture from vegetables with a clean kitchen towel if necessary after they are cool enough to handle.

To assemble, I used a large rectangular casserole dish. Spread a little enchilada sauce on the bottom. Place 6 corn tortillas on top of the sauce. Spread half the tofu mixture on the tortillas. Spread the chard and mushroom mixture on top of that. Spread a little more sauce on top of that. Top with remaining tofu mixture. Layer on remaining 6 tortillas. Spread them with tofu sour cream. Top with remaining sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Top each serving with salsa, pepitas, or shredded spinach if you like.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Smoky Black Bean Soup with Cilantro Sauce

What do you do when you feel like you were run over by a truck? Make soup, that hot, hearty, one dish meal that can soothe all. It all started when I got home from work Friday, and MD told me he just ordered a mondo amount of mulch to arrive Saturday morning. Things got even more alarming when he showed me the spread sheet of calculations to determine the necessary amount for our front and back yards. Despite my trepidation, I determined that no mulch would interfere with Friday cocktail time and proceeded to make margaritas. And all was well until...

Saturday morning greeted us with chilly, drizzly weather. We had weeding to do before the mulch could go down, so we got right to it, crouching, pulling weeds, squatting some more. Then, the mulch arrived, and I mean a mulch mountain. I fantasized about taking a photo of the mulch mountain for you guys, and caption it "I'd rather be blogging", but I was too overwhelmed to get the camera.

Flash forward to Sunday night. We had two days of squatting, pulling, shoveling, hauling, spreading, kneeling, get the picture. I could barely move. What I needed was some serious comforting nourishment, and this soup fit the bill. After a little chopping of vegetables, everything was ready to simmer away while I had a glass of wine and called for more Ibuprofen. The result was a smoky black bean soup with chunky potatoes, red bell peppers, and corn, all flavored with chipotle in adobo. I stirred in a sauce at the end of minced cilantro, garlic, and olive oil to impart a nice flavorful finish.

I hope to get a few shots of our flowers and culinary herbs to share soon. If I can keep Scout from nibbling the Thai basil. And after I stop feeling like I was run over by a truck.

Smoky Black Bean Soup with Cilantro Sauce
Serves 6-8

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced and divided (set 1 clove aside)
1 Tablespoon chipotle in adobo, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
14.5 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup frozen corn
crumbled tortilla chips and hot sauce to garnish, optional

In a large pot (that has a lid), heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper and saute for about 8 minutes. Add 3 cloves minced garlic, chipotle, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute for about 1 minute. Add potatoes, tomatoes, beans, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the cilantro sauce by combining the chopped cilantro, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste in a small bowl. Set aside.

After the soup cooks for 30 minutes, remove the lid and add the corn. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until it thickens to the consistency you desire. Turn off heat and stir in cilantro sauce. Serve each bowl garnished with crumbled tortilla chips. Check for seasoning and add salt or hot sauce if desired.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Swell Vegan's Lentil Bolognese

You might have visited the Swell Vegan blog, one of my favorites for gorgeous food photography. When the swell cookzine was published, I knew I had to purchase a copy! This recipe for Lentil Bolognese alone is worth the purchase. A chunky lentil and tomato sauce with a few ingredients that smell divine. We ate the sauce over whole wheat penne one night, and over toasted buns another. We also loved the Coconut Red Bean Quinoa, which is included in the cookzine as well as here. Everything in the zine sounds so delicious, the only dilemma is which recipe to try next.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cashew Mushroom Pâté

A house concert potluck Friday night gave me the chance to try a new appetizer recipe, this cashew mushroom pâté. If you haven't been to a house concert, keep an eye out for an opportunity in your town. We prefer to hear live music in small venues, and it doesn't get more intimate than someones home. House concerts involve someone hosting a band in their home, and opening the show to the public. All donations go to the band, and people usually bring food to share too. Friday night we saw The Greencards, who put on an energetic show with some amazing musicianship. They play some traditional bluegrass, and plenty of bluegrass-influenced songs with their own modern spin on them. There's a little swing, a little pop, and some world music influences thrown in for good measure.

While my go-to house concert dish is cold peanut noodles, this time I wanted to make a dip instead. This pâté combines sautéed mushrooms and onions with spices and cashews for an earthy taste with a predominant curry flavor. The Lovin' Spoonfuls restaurant recipe was featured in a Vegetarian Times column on best restaurant recipes. I substituted dry vermouth for sherry, since we always have martini fixin's on hand. A little diced peppadew is sprinkled on top to garnish. Check out the article for more fun recipes. I've put The Grit's Golden Bowl on my list to try too. Even though I have The Grit's cookbook, I've yet to make the Golden Bowl.

And thanks everyone for the good thoughts for Ricky! We have our finger crossed that he'll be adopted soon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Happy May everyone! Today I'm taking a break from vegan food to share a special doggie post. Y'all know by now that I'm a dog lover. There's Scout, of course, plus I get to have fun with all sorts of other dogs by volunteering at the Humane Society of Missouri. Remember Rosetta and Spanky? They both found families after spending some time at the shelter.

One of our volunteers wrote a special poster about Ricky, who is at the Macklind location of the Humane Society of Missouri. Here's some info about our boy:

My name is Ricky and I am a gorgeous black Labrador Retriever/Pit mix. I have been waiting patiently at the shelter for a long time and I would love to find my forever home. I am a little over 1 year old so I still have some puppy energy, but I am also a good listener and I like to please people. I love to go for walks, and I love to sit with someone and cuddle and give kisses. I’m very sweet and I love everyone, but because of my size and energy level, it would be better for me to go home with older children. I sit on command and could learn a lot more. I much prefer to potty outside rather than mess up my kennel. Ask the volunteers how great I am! Please give me a chance. I just want someone to love me! If you are looking for a new best friend or a great family dog, come and meet me at the HSMO-Macklind. I would love nothing more than to finally go home!!!

I'll add that Ricky is a really smart guy too, and full of personality. During our Shelter Dog Training class, Ricky figured out which one of us had the tastiest treats. He'd do what any one of us asked, but he'd then look to the person with the tastiest treats because he wanted his reward from her! So adorable; he had all of us cracking up. If you know of someone who is interested in adopting and think that Ricky might be a good fit, encourage them to come visit Ricky at the Humane Society of Missouri on Macklind. He is located in the Female Wing (I know, ignore the gender part, the dogs are assigned to both wings regardless) and his identification number is A453865. Check out the directions and business hours for the Macklind location here.

Thanks for spreading the word about Ricky, an athletic, smart, funny, great-looking boy.

Monday, May 4, 2009


With Cinco de Mayo coming up fast, I thought I'd try a Michelada for the first time. This Mexican beverage might not have the immediate appeal of the more familiar margarita. Beer over ice, really? But I can imagine finding it festive and refreshing on a sweltering day. The flavors are citrusy, salty, and spicy. For some reason, it reminded me of iced tea, but perhaps this was mostly the color and citrus flavor. The typical Michelada is beer and lime juice over ice, with some savory and spicy seasonings, served in a glass with a salted rim. I added ground ancho chile to kosher salt for some smoky flavor for the glass rim. If you're looking to try something new for Cinco de Mayo, the Michelada is a good option. ¡Salud!

1 Serving

kosher salt
ground ancho chile
juice from 1/2 lime
1 dash vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Maggi seasoning sauce or soy sauce
2 dashes hot sauce
12 ounces beer

Place a little kosher salt and ancho chile powder on a saucer. Mix it up. Rub the half lime around the rim of a tall glass then dip the rim in salt and chile mixture.

Add lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Maggi sauce, and hot sauce to glass. Stir. Put some large ice cubes in the glass and slowly fill with beer. The beer might foam quite a bit.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Green Curry Tofu Scramble

I need to be too busy to make breakfast more often, because this was the result on Saturday. MD took matters into his own hands to create this Green Curry Tofu Scramble, inspired by a dish he had at Mokabe's brunch. This scramble is seasoned with green curry paste and coconut milk, and mixed with carrots, red bell pepper, and baby spinach for a veggie-filled start to the day. It tastes amazing, and is a nice change of pace from our typical Mexican-spiced scramble. The recipe below is our best guess at MD's creation. Hmm...I wonder what would happen if I'm "too busy" to make dinner tonight?

Green Curry Tofu Scramble
Serves 2-3

14 ounces extra firm tofu, pressed
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 carrot, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 can (about 6 ounces) coconut milk
1 heaping Tablespoon vegan green curry paste
several dashes of tamari
salt to taste
5 ounces baby spinach
chopped cilantro and Sriracha chili sauce, to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the carrot and bell pepper until soft, about 10 minutes. Add half of the coconut milk and the green curry paste. Heat until the curry paste is dissolved. Add remaining coconut milk, tamari, and salt. Crumble the tofu into the skillet. Simmer for about 14 minutes. Add the baby spinach and stir until it wilts. Top each serving with cilantro and Sriracha sauce.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sweet Potato, Chard, and Mushroom Vegan Quesadillas

A recipe and St. Louis vegan news is what I have today! First, the food. This quesadilla is pretty much a meal to itself. I guess the only key food group missing is chocolate. Otherwise, you've got your leafy greens, beans, sweet potatoes, baby bellas, and smoky chipotle. This is one filling quesadilla bursting with goodies. Scroll down for the recipe.

In local veg news, The Vital Voice, a St. Louis progressive newspaper, now features a meat-free lifestyle column called The Vegetarian Voice! You can check out Vegan 101 for my column including a recipe for a saucy Vegetable Curry with Jasmine Rice. If you are a new reader who found your way here from The Vital Voice, welcome! I hope you enjoy looking around and find something good to cook. Until next time everyone!

Sweet Potato, Chard, and Mushroom Vegan Quesadillas
Serves 2

1 1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 ounces sweet potato, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large chipotle in adobo, minced
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 large cloves garlic, minced
5 baby bella mushrooms, diced
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1 bunch chard, stems discarded, leaves sliced
1/3 cup water
2 whole wheat tortillas
vegan sour cream, optional garnish

Prepare the potatoes by covering with water in a pot and boiling until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain. Mash them in a large bowl using a potato masher, adding chipotle in adobo, 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, kidney beans, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large skillet (with a lid), heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Saute garlic and mushrooms for about 5 minutes, then add cumin, ground chipotle, and salt to taste for about 1 minute. Add chard and 1/3 cup water. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer until liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spritz one side of a tortilla with extra virgin olive oil. Turn over and on the un-spritzed side spread a thin layer of the sweet potato mixture. On half of the tortilla, spread half of the chard mixture. Then fold the tortilla over so that the stuffings are inside the tortilla like a sandwich. Heat through in a skillet over medium heat, turning several times, until browned. Prepare the second tortilla in the same manner. This recipe makes enough greens for two quesadillas. You will have leftover potatoes. Top each serving with vegan sour cream, optional.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Smoky Vegan Sausage Beer Chili with Quinoa

Life has been busy since we returned from vacation, and it looks like this coming week won't slow down either. But I thought I'd take a little break from other things to share this chili recipe. I left it saucy rather than super thick, which makes it a great partner for quinoa or a grain of your choice. And I loved the Liquid Smoke flavor, so don't skip it if you have some around. Hope you all are having a great weekend!

Smoky Vegan Sausage Beer Chili with Quinoa
Serves 6

1 1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 ounces vegan sausage (such as Gimme Lean)
2 medium onions, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 large jalapeno, minced
2 heaping Tablespoons chili powder
12 ounces beer (such as PBR)
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
15 ounce can garbanzos, rinsed and drained
2 14 1/2 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
salt and white pepper to taste (black pepper is fine too)
quinoa, prepared according to package
hot sauce (such as Happy Dogs)

Heat 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute sausage until browned, breaking it into crumbles. Set sausage aside in another container. Add 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil to the pot and heat over medium heat. Saute onions, celery, bell pepper, and jalapeno for 5 to 10 minutes, until soft. Add chili powder and saute for another minute. Add sausage, beer, black beans, garbanzos, tomatoes, corn, Liquid Smoke, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare quinoa according to package. Serve chili over quinoa with hot sauce to taste.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Vegan Eats in San Francisco and a Challenge for St. Louis

Savoring a Pink Lemonade (Cranberry-Lemon Thyme Infused Gin, lemon juice, agave, and soda) and a Manhattan while waiting for a spot at Millennium for dinner, MD and I discussed the enormous painting of naked women loosely wrapped in crumpled sheets who gazed down at us in the Hotel California lobby. What were those women thinking, or not thinking, who appeared to me like some kind of Escher drawing gone all soft and sensual. Quotes on California rambled across the wall below the women. Herb Caen amused me with "One day if I do go to heaven, I'll look around and say, It ain't bad, but it ain't San Francisco."

Hours before, our trip began with a visit to the Mission District to check out Latin food and vibrant murals. Papalote's humongous burritos fortified us for our own walking tour of the area. Having just arrived in San Francisco, I was pretty overwhelmed with the menu. Not being accustomed to actual vegan options, I must have asked six times while ordering, "is there a vegan version" and "what's the vegan option?" The staffer patiently replied, "all the options can be vegan." Welcome to San Francisco. I settled on the grilled tofu con achiote, black beans, rice, salsa, and guacamole in a whole wheat tortilla, swearing to order the vegan chorizo at my next opportunity. The food was flavorful, fresh, and filling.

We went on to explore the Mission District, including the Women's Building mural below. It's more amazing than this photo can show. I thought it was kind of cool that another woman tourist was enamored as well, and we shared a moment of awe between shots of the art. MD and I also found Atlas Cafe in the neighborhood, by chance coinciding with the monthly Thursday bluegrass night. We had a few beers and I noticed a cheeseless pizza and tofu sandwich on the menu. The music had our toes tapping, and we found it amusing that bluegrass seemed so foreign to the California crowd. It's pretty common here in Missouri, and I thought the San Francisco folks quickly warmed up to the unfamiliar harmonies and old fashioned tunes.

The next morning we hit Herbivore for a hearty vegan breakfast. Below you see my order of scrambled tofu with spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes, with house potatoes, toast, and fruit spread. MD gave a big thumbs up to his southwestern scrambled tofu with salsa, house potatoes, black beans, guacamole, vegan sour cream, and corn bread. The space was kind of noisy with lots of hard surfaces, but we were happy with the food.

Saturday morning we hit the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. We shared a raw spicy curry wrap of veggies and a sassy nut spread bundled in a big leafy green of some sort. The tables bursting with fresh, colorful produce and herbs made me want to load up some sacks of food and head to my kitchen. We also found these vegan samosas and addictive cilantro chutney. This was a great snack right before the cooking demo by a local cookbook author. While I was somewhat impatient with all her talk about happy cows and hens who produced the ingredients for her cream and egg smothered dish, I did learn about nettles and green garlic from the presentation.

That night, I discovered heaven on Earth, Millennium. See how subtle the facade appears, you would never suspect the awesomeness within.

I quote from the menu, because it doesn't get any better than this:

Black Bean Torte: whole wheat tortilla, caramelized plantains, smoky black bean puree, pumpkin-habanero papazul, cashew sour cream, carrot & onion escabeche.

Mushroom and Walnut Strudel: flaky pastry crust, green garlic mashed potatoes, seared asparagus, herbed green peppercorn cashew cream, blood orange & black olive relish.

Chantenay Carrot Polenta Cake: seared greens, snap peas & smoky tempeh "sausage", orange scented black bean feijoada, aji coconut cream, lime & cilantro soffrito, plantain crisps, coconut cashews.

Chocolate Bread Pudding with Peanut Butter "Ice Cream" and Port (sorry, no fancy menu description, but it was amazing!)

As many of you know, Millennium offers a fine dining experience that's creative, warm, and edgy all at once. The place is vegan and the place is packed. Yes it is.

But wait, there's more! The next day, we headed to Weird Fish for breakfast, and I finally got my fix of vegan chorizo. Contrary to rumors, we didn't have to wait for a seat and it didn't smell fishy. A shotgun space with plenty of dark wood accents and marine decor was brightened by aqua walls and porthole mimicking mirrors. I'd go back for that tofu chorizo scramble with red beans, vegan sour cream, and corn tortillas in a minute.

Across the Golden Gate Bridge, we were amazed by the beauty of the Marin Headlands and Point Bonita Lighthouse area. Here are seals resting and soaking up some rays. We really got lucky with sunny, bright days.

On our way out of the city, we traveled through Berkeley and happened upon Bobby G's Pizzeria for lunch. The restaurant's sign actually includes "vegan" in big letters. Considering that I'd been mysteriously craving pizza the whole trip, which I rarely eat since going vegan, this spot seemed meant to be. Bobby G's offers house made organic soy cheese as an option for any pizza, many vegan salad options, and vegan cookies. Santo Dios! I had the vegan baby greens salad with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette and we shared the vegan Margherita pizza. The crispy crust was topped with a thin layer of tomato sauce and a garlicky, rich soy cheese similar to a tofu ricotta, with a sprinkle of fresh basil. I thought this was absolutely delicious. MD thought that a veggie version would have added more pizzazz, so we'd try some extra toppings next time.

Thank you so much to everyone who left suggestions and well wishes for the trip! There were not enough days to cover the meals we wanted to try. San Francisco offers a delicious variety of vegan meals and I can't wait for St. Louis restaurants to step it up, considering the growing interest in fine vegan dining. St. Louis chefs, are you listening? 'Cause we know it can be done.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mexican Vegetable Stew with Cilantro Lime Rice

This stew marries Latin flavors such as ground ancho chile, cumin, and Mexican oregano with a bit of tomatillo salsa for a smoky, sweet note. The Cilantro Lime Rice, a delicious tester recipe for Vegan Latina, tasted great with the stew due to the tangy contrast.

We leave soon for a few days in San Francisco! I'm busily bookmarking tourist guides and restaurant menus on my Touch, and my VegOut app is ready to go. Let me know if you have any recommendations for vegan eats I shouldn't miss! I expect to be back to blogging sometime after Wednesday next week. Have a great week everyone!

Mexican Vegetable Stew
Serves 6

1 Tablespoon canola oil
8 ounces seitan, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground ancho chile
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 cups not chick'n broth (or vegetable)
2 cups diced potatoes
2 carrots, sliced into thin half-moons
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
15 ounces kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup tomatillo salsa
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
hot sauce to taste

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add seitan, onion, and bell pepper. Saute about 10 minutes, until soft and everything begins to brown a little.
Add garlic, ancho chile, cumin, and oregano. Saute about 30 seconds.
Add broth, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, beans, and salsa. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer about 30 minutes. Remove lid and simmer until the stew thickens, if necessary. Season to taste.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Green Coconut Curry with Asparagus and Tofu

This weekend was one of simple pleasures. Saturday was rainy and chilly, providing the perfect excuse to stay indoors to cook and catch up on chores. (After starting the day with soyrizo and spinach tofu scramble of course.) Y'all know that feeling when you don't really mind puttering around the house because you're finally getting around to some stuff that's been on the "to do" list way too long? Plus, I played a long list of Latin tunes, and Manu Chao, Chingon, and Gotan Project provided a lively soundtrack for a dish I'll post next time.

Sunday was chilly again, and started with an inch of snow on the ground. This meant another great day for chores and cooking, including this green coconut curry. With this dish, I finally got my weekly coconut curry fix, which I can get grumpy without.

And with a dish this easy, there's really no reason to go a week without coconut curry. This version is bursting with vegetables, but feel free to play around with the particular ones you include. Jasmine rice goes great with it to soak up the broth.

Green Coconut Curry with Asparagus and Tofu
Serves 4-6

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 small red onion, sliced
2 carrots, sliced into thin semi-circles
1 large portobella, thinly sliced
1/2 large jalapeno, minced
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends discarded, and sliced into 1-inch pieces
14 ounces extra-firm tofu
13 1/2 ounces coconut milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon Braggs or tamari
2 Tablespoons vegan green curry paste
juice from 1/2 lime
large handful cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
Sriracha, as desired
jasmine rice, prepared according to package

Press the tofu for about 20 minutes or so. Cut into bite-sized cubes.

In a large skillet (that has a lid), heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and mushroom. Saute for about 8 minutes, until vegetables soften. Add jalapeno and ginger. Saute about 1 minute. Add asparagus, tofu, coconut milk, vegetable broth, Braggs, and curry paste. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and continue to simmer until the sauce thickens to desired consistency. Add lime juice and cilantro. Add salt if necessary. Serve over jasmine rice, topped with Sriracha.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Vegan Nachos with Avocado Buttermilk Dressing

Vegan nachos? What, is that some kind of oxymoron? How can you have nachos without cheese? Let me count the ways. You might make a "cheezy" sauce. Vegan Explosion is working on selling their vegan queso online and will re-post the apparently amazing recipe soon. Also, this recipe is another one of many for vegan nacho sauce available on the web. I'll admit that I haven't ventured much into the faux cheese sauce territory. Instead, I tend to replace the cheese in nachos with guacamole, or even better, a creamy, tangy avocado dressing. Previously, I loved this Creamy Avocado Dressing. Today's version is equally delicious, but a bit chunkier in texture and with a vegan buttermilk base. It's quite spicy, so if that's not your thing, reduce the amount of jalapeno or hot sauce.

Before we get to the recipe, I thought I'd share a couple of fun sites I've been visiting of late: VEGdaily and Ecorazzi. Both have plenty of veg news and gossip. Happy weekend everyone!

Vegan Nachos with Avocado Buttermilk Dressing
dressing serves about 3 nacho dinner plates

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
about 1/4 cup soy milk
1 Tablespoon Vegenaise
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 large jalapeno, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/2 avocado, mashed
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
tortilla chips
refried beans
shredded lettuce
corn kernels
chopped grape tomatoes
chopped scallions

To make dressing, put the vinegar in a 1/4 cup size measuring cup. Fill the cup with soy milk. Let sit a few minutes while you prep the other ingredients.
In a food processor, combine the vinegar and soy milk mixture with the Vegenaise through hot sauce ingredients. Pulse until combined.
Prepare the nachos. You might either heat the beans in a pot on the stove top and then spoon onto tortilla chips, or broil the chips covered in beans on a baking sheet to heat. Top with remaining ingredients and avocado dressing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vegan Chicken Salad with Red Curry Peanut Dressing

This showy dish entices you back to eating salad with vibrant colors and rich flavor. I've mentioned my hiatus from salad during the chilly St. Louis winter, and the Chipotle Roasted Vegetables with Avocado and Mixed Greens that helped me get back on track. Today's salad is similarly hearty with pan-fried Match vegan chicken crumbled on top. The romaine lettuce and purple cabbage provide a crunchy contrast. On the spur of the moment, I sprinkled in some peppadew peppers. Their sweet-spicy flavor complemented the red curry peanut dressing perfectly!

Vegan Chicken Salad with Red Curry Peanut Dressing
Serves 3-4

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 package Match chicken
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
1/4 cup organic natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon vegan red curry paste
1 Tablespoon tamari
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
romaine lettuce, chopped
purple cabbage, shredded
grape tomatoes, chopped
peppadew peppers

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Tear vegan chicken into pieces and place in skillet. Saute 5 minutes or so, until the chicken begins to develop a brown crust. Use tongs to turn each piece and saute until the other side browns, breaking up with a spatula. Remove from heat. When cool enough to handle, cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

Make the dressing by whisking coconut milk, peanut butter, ginger, red curry paste, tamari, agave nectar, Sriracha, and salt in a large measuring cup or bowl.

Prepare the salad by combining remaining ingredients with chicken and dressing.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Stuffed Peppadews and Stuff to Do

My friend Bruno introduced me to the idea of stuffed peppadews quite a while ago on his blog Bruno's Dream. I was so smitten with the simplicity of preparation and beautiful appearance that I made them for New Year's Eve that year. Well, all my friends know how this story turns out. After stuffing I don't know how many peppers and cleaning the exterior of each for a meticulous presentation, I left the tray on the cocktail table and returned to the kitchen. When I came back to the living room, the peppadew tray was empty! The only evidence apparently remained on the roof of Scout's mouth, as she flickered her tongue in and out trying to swallow the last bites.

In case you aren't familiar with the peppadew, they are both sweet and spicy. Poor Scout didn't know about the spicy part. Surprisingly, she had no ill effects other than the aforementioned tongue flickering, which lasted quite a while. Scroll down for the recipe I made today, and beware that these are apparently dog magnets.

Now for the Stuff to Do.

Whole Foods stores in the Midwest now stock vegan pizza in the prepared foods section! These are topped with Upton's Naturals Italian sausage-style seitan and Teese mozzarella! Teese has caused quite a stir amongst vegans, so this pizza is definitely on my "to try" list.

HBO airs Death on a Factory Farm Monday March 16, a look at practices in an Ohio factory hog farm based on an undercover animals rights investigation.

The Martha Stewart Show will air the annual Dog Show on Wednesday March 18. We expect to see a segment on the puppy mill rescues by the Humane Society of Missouri.

I Was a Teenage Feminist: A Documentary Film about Redefining the F-Word is showing at the Missouri History Museum on Thursday March 19 at 7pm.

Unfortunately I'll miss Langhorne Slim at Off Broadway Tuesday March 17 due to attending a Dogs with Issues Class at the HSMO. Which brings us full circle to the peppadew incident. Here's Scout apparently thinking, "Dogs with Issues class? Are you talkin' to me?"

Actually, I take full responsibility for leaving the food in reach. The class is to address her Cujo imitation when she sees other dogs on walks. Really, so unnecessary.

Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

peppadew peppers (I found them in the deli section of the grocery store in the "olive bar")

vegan cream cheese mixed with chopped kalamata olives, green olives, peppadew peppers, salt, and freshly ground pepper

Stuff. Enjoy.


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