Thursday, January 29, 2009

Green Curry with Red Jasmine Rice

If you're reading this, you might be kind of geeky about food like I am. I get all excited about discovering some "new" ingredient. Whether it's a spice or vegetable I've never used, or just an unexpected twist on something familiar, I can be found exclaiming aloud to myself in the grocery aisle, "look at that!" Well, maybe you don't talk to yourself in public like I do about finding teeny dried chiles (that are so cute!), but for the sake of discussion let's assume you can relate.

You can imagine my reaction to finding red jasmine rice at Whole Foods. I've cooked with red quinoa before, but not red jasmine rice. It retains its rich burgundy color after cooking, and has a slightly nutty taste. The cooking instructions threw me off, because they call for boiling it uncovered, but I followed them and it worked just fine.

This time I topped the pretty Cabernet-colored rice with a Thai green curry of potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, red bell pepper, coconut milk, and cilantro. Delicious, as any dish with coconut milk tends to be. But I'm already thinking of what else to do with red jasmine rice. Hmm...I think there is a red-themed holiday coming up in a couple of weeks. Perhaps red rice would be perfect for a romantic dish!

Green Curry with Red Jasmine Rice
Adapted from Gourmet
About 4 servings

1/2 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, chopped
10 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons vegan green curry paste
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
14 ounces coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
handful cilantro, chopped
Sriracha to taste, as a condiment
red jasmine rice, prepared according to package

Heat oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and salt and pepper. Saute about 5 minutes. Add garlic and curry paste. Stir and saute about 1 minute. Add potatoes, carrots, coconut milk, and broth. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer until potatoes are nearly done. Uncover and simmer until sauce thickens. Add cilantro and serve over rice.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

African Beans and Potatoes from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen

I recently purchased The Tropical Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein. The recipes cover more territory than I expected, including Australia, the Canary Islands, Hawaii, Vietnam, Thailand, and Mexico. From the cover: "From Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America to Southeast and South Asia, More Than 225 Sweet, Spicy, and Irresistible Vegan Recipes." The book begins with brief introductions to some exotic ingredients, such as jackfruit, chayote, and taro root, including information such as preparation and storage tips. The recipes are organized in courses, including appetizers, soups, salads, main dishes, sides, desserts, and beverages (Mango and Melon Colada anyone?).

I chose the African Beans and Potatoes for my first dish to try, because I had all the ingredients on hand, and, yep, because the word "potatoes" was in the title. We were quite pleased with the result, which was a subtly seasoned dish that allowed the peanut oil flavor to shine through. The Fusion-Style Dragon Noodles with Asparagus caught my eye to try soon, which is described as fuchsia-hued! There's a lot to explore in this book. If you've tried any recipes yet, leave a comment and let me know what you suggest. St. Louis currently has several inches of snow and sleet and the conditions "feel like" 1 degree F. Tropical Vegan Kitchen, take me away!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Queso Dip

With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, many of us are perusing snack recipes to plan the perfect spread. Admittedly, I don't follow football, but who doesn't love a good excuse for snacking and hanging out on a Sunday? Dips are one of my favorite dishes to make for get togethers. They can be incredibly simple to prepare and pack a lot of flavor. This queso has a richer flavor than the nacho cheese type dips, because the base is Tofutti vegan cream cheese. Delicious served warm with tortilla chips, it would make a great spread for burritos too.

Queso Dip

1 Tablespoon canola oil
3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced
8 ounces Tofutti cream cheese
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
handful of cilantro, chopped

In a medium pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute bell pepper for about 4 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds. Add Tofutti, scallions, salsa, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat and cook gently until the Tofutti is melted. Add cilantro, stir, and serve warm. You could use a mini crockpot for serving to keep it warm.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Beans in Mole Sauce over Chipotle Potatoes

This week's Kitchen Getaway to Mexico ends with a non-traditional mole recipe atop the ever-popular fried potatoes. While one day I hope to devote hours to learning to make more traditional mole, this was not the week to do so. If you have a busy week as well, no need to feel slighted, because this quicker version was quite good. I was inspired by a dish I ate as a vegetarian at Maya Cafe, called Mayan Fries or something like that, which I recall including potato wedges topped with black beans, corn, cheese, etc. This mole recipe would also make a great topping for quinoa, rice, or a baked potato if you're trying to be good.

The dish also gave me the chance to try out the Mexican oregano I purchased at Supermercado El Torito. Here's a photo comparing Mexican oregano (on your left) with more typical oregano (sometimes referred to as Mediterranean, on your right).

The Mexican oregano is bolder in aroma as well as in texture. The aroma is said to stand up better to the hearty flavors often used in Mexican dishes, and has a distinct, pleasing citrus note.

Lila Downs even has a song about mole that will enhance your cooking experience.

This has been a fun week of Mexican recipes. I'll focus on a new kitchen getaway in the future. Meanwhile, I'll be back to regular posts on Monday. Have a great weekend everyone!

Beans in Mole Sauce over Chipotle Potatoes
Adapted from Whole Foods
Mole yields around 5 cups

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup almonds
2 teaspoons ground ancho chile
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
4 teaspoons chile powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 pinches cinnamon
2 pinches nutmeg
1 pinch ground cloves
4 pinches salt (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 14.5 ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, with juice
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 15 ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
scallions, chopped, to garnish

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion about 3 minutes, then add garlic and saute about 30 seconds more. In a food processor, combine onions, garlic, and all remaining ingredients except for kidney beans and scallions. Combine until coarsely chopped. Pour back into the skillet and add the beans. Cook gently over medium low heat for about 30 minutes. Make the potatoes while the mole simmers.

Chipotle Potatoes

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
freshly ground pepper to taste

Put potatoes in a large pot, add 1 teaspoon salt, and fill with cold water until about an inch above the potatoes. Boil for about 5 minutes, or until potatoes are somewhat tender but not mushy. Drain potatoes. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add potatoes to skillet along with chipotle chile and black pepper. Fry until golden, turning periodically with spatula. Check for seasoning. Top with beans in mole sauce and scallions.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fideo con Frijoles y Nopalitos

For this week's kitchen getaway series, I'm focusing on Mexican recipes after a trip to Supermercado El Torito here in St. Louis. Today, we have a recipe for fideo! Fideo is a very thin pasta that comes coiled in small bundles. You can see a photo of a package in my last post. The typical way to prepare fideo is to break the noodles into small pieces and brown them a little in oil before adding vegetables, broth, and other ingredients. Then you simmer until the pasta is done. This yields a thick, comforting, soup-like dish that's full of noodles. If you don't have access to fideo, you can substitute thin pasta such as cappellini that you break into one to two-inch pieces.

Fideo con Frijoles y Nopalitos
Adapted from Cooking Light
About 4 servings

1 Tablespoon canola oil
about 6 ounces fideo, or other thin pasta such as cappellini
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
28 ounces vegetable broth
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup nopalitos, rinsed, drained, and chopped (optional)
1 cup corn
14.5 ounce diced tomatoes, with juice
1 teaspoon Maggi seasoning sauce (or tamari)
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste, optional

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Break fideo into pieces and saute for about 4 minutes, until it browns slightly. Add onion, garlic, and chipotle pepper and saute for about 1 minute. Add cumin and saute about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broth, beans, nopalitos, corn, tomatoes, and seasoning sauce. Increase heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 12 minutes, or until pasta is done. Stir in cilantro and check for seasonings.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mexican Hot Chocolate with Ancho Chile

Winter has made itself comfortable in St. Louis like a tiresome guest who's kicked off his shoes, occupied your favorite chair, and doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon. I seek solace in searching the 'net for the perfect lodging in Tulum, or other off the beaten path beach destinations. Until we do settle on a trip (and I get my passport renewed), how about a kitchen getaway? I'll be exploring some specialty markets in St. Louis, and pairing these outings with posts on regional recipes. First up in the kitchen getaway series, we have Show Me Mexican!

Many St. Louis grocery stores stock Mexican groceries, but a visit to one of the Mexican markets in St. Louis reveals an exciting variety of ingredients. We hit the Supermercado El Torito at 2753 Cherokee Street last weekend. (Conveniently located only a couple of blocks away from Shangri-La Diner.) I was particularly fascinated by the dozens of dried chiles! So much to explore. Here's a sampling of items we purchased.

Starting top left, we have Herdez salsa casera, Ibarra chocolate, La Morena chipotles in adobo, La Morena refried bayo beans with chipotle, nopalitos (cactus), Maggi seasoning sauce, fideo, pepitas, Mexican dried oregano, and a molinillo.

The molinillo is a Mexican wooden tool specifically for frothing hot chocolate. Which I think is cool. Not only is it pretty, but it's a great excuse for making cocoa more often. Here's how it works. Place the large end of the molinillo in the cocoa, and spin the handle between the palms of your hands. The motion of the molinillo's loose rings creates the froth.

As for the Ibarra chocolate, it's flavored with sugar and cinnamon and comes in a box of large disks. Each disk is molded to have eight wedges (picture a pie cut for eight servings). So with my new molinillo and Ibarra chocolate, I was ready to make cocoa. This recipe is mildly smoky from the ground ancho chile. We enjoyed this cocoa right before our walk with Scout, and it certainly kept us feeling warm inside on a cold day outside.

I'll be back on Wednesday with another Show Me Mexican recipe!

Mexican Hot Chocolate with Ancho Chile
Serves 2

2 cups soy milk
4 wedges Ibarra (half a disk), chopped into thin slivers with a knife
1/8 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder

Heat soy milk in a pot over medium to medium low heat with chocolate and ancho chile powder. Stir periodically and heat until the chocolate has melted and the soy milk is steamy. Pour into a tall heat proof container to give room for sloshing (such as a 4 cup size pyrex measuring cup) and froth with molinillo by spinning the handle between your palms. If you don't have a molinillo, you could whisk the cocoa or use a blender to combine the hot soy milk with the Ibarra. Enjoy before walking the dog on a cold day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Comforting Spaghetti Sauce

I recently read that comfort food will be one of the food trends for 2009. Isn't comfort food always popular? Anyway, this got me thinking about food I loved growing up. I vividly recall coming home from school famished and snacking on a big bowl of "spaghetti sauce" that Mom had prepared for supper. In our house, we didn't talk about "pasta", it was always spaghetti. And spaghetti sauce meant a thick tomato sauce with ground beef.

My vegan version is a chunky red sauce of thinly sliced mushrooms with red wine, fresh rosemary, and crushed red pepper. Gourmet gave me the idea of simmering the sauce with fresh rosemary sprigs that are removed after cooking. This is perfect for MD, who finds the texture of rosemary leaves somewhat prickly.

For me, today's comfort food still involves a good spaghetti sauce, but I do prefer it on pasta nowadays rather than straight up in a bowl. Give me a tumbler of Cabernet (the tumbler is how restaurants often served wine during a too long ago trip to Italy) and a good book, and I'm set to recover from a day that had me pondering, "What fresh hell is this?"

Comforting Spaghetti Sauce
Inspired by Gourmet
About 4 servings

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more to taste
16 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
14.5 ounces fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, crushed red pepper, and mushrooms. Saute for about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Increase heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Remove rosemary before serving. Serve with pasta of choice.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thai Red Curry Soup

You might have noticed we have soup around here weekly. The newsflash is that this little gem is our new favorite. Yowza. I veganized the recipe to use seitan not chicken (among other changes), but pressed and cubed tofu would be delicious as well. One day I'll venture into making my own curry paste, but with results like this, I can't say I'm in a rush.

Before we get to the recipe, I was honored with this award from Mary of St. Mary!

Mary is renovating a church to become her home. Check out her blog for photos of the process, recently including so many pretty Christmas trees. What a nice start to the day when I heard that Mary finds some inspiration and interesting recipes here. I want to thank Mary sincerely for such a thoughtful gesture! It's always fascinating and heartwarming to make a connection with someone across the internet.

On to the recipe! And don't forget the Sriracha, y'all.

Thai Red Curry Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 4-6

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
6 ounces portobella caps, chopped
8 ounces seitan, chopped
2 Tablespoons vegan red curry paste
1 heaping cup peeled and diced russet potatoes
4 ounces green beans
3 cups unsweetened coconut milk
3 cups vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon tamari
salt and pepper, to taste
heaping 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Sriracha sauce, optional condiment

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Saute bell pepper and mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Add seitan and red curry paste. Stir to distribute curry paste, about 2 minutes. Add potatoes and green beans and saute about 1 minute more. Add coconut milk, broth, and tamari. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are done. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in fresh basil before serving. Garnish with Sriracha sauce for a spicier taste.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Black Bean Stew with Brown Rice

A big plate of black beans and rice is a welcome standby that pleases vegans and non-vegans alike. The dish is filling, colorful, and nutritious. There are lots of recipes available, but this one is notable for the variety of colorful vegetables and option of tweaking the flavor by adding your choice of condiments. Once your rice is cooking, the rest is pretty quick to make.

Black Bean Stew with Brown Rice
Adapted from Everyday Food
Serves 4-6

1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice, prepared
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 serrano pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup corn kernels
14 ounces vegetable broth
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
garnishes such as lime juice, fresh cilantro, radishes, bell pepper, avocado, salsa, or hot sauce

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, bell pepper, and serrano pepper until they soften. Add garlic and corn and saute a minute more. Add broth, beans, vinegar, and oregano. Use a potato masher to smash some of the beans and cook for about 15 minutes, until the stew thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve stew over rice with desired garnishes.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Kale Pesto with Vegan Ravioli

I seem to be smitten with kale. It's relatively new to my kitchen, one of the foods I began to cook only after becoming vegan. It's delightful in soup due to the hearty texture, and quick as can be to saute with garlic for a healthy side. But as the base for pesto? I wondered whether it would be too bitter. This recipe inspired me to give it a try, and it was delicious! And the color, so vibrant. We enjoyed this pesto with Rising Moon Organics Creamy Artichoke and Olive Ravioli, but I can imagine how much I'd like it stirred up in a baked Yukon Gold potato too.

Also, a note to Missouri vegans, did you notice that Laura of Peace by Pastries started a thread on the PPK forums about a vegan meet up? Check out the thread if you're interested in a Show Me State vegan get together! And have a great weekend everyone!

Kale Pesto
Adapted from Whole Foods

8 ounces fresh kale (about 1/2 a bunch)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup pinenuts, toasted
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
vegan ravioli
sliced kalamata olives, optional garnish

Remove thick stems from kale and coarsely chop. Rinse it well and spin a couple of times in a salad spinner to dry. Pulse garlic a few times in the food processor. Add nuts, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and about 1/3 of the kale. Pulse several times, then add kale in two more batches, pulsing each batch. Slowly add olive oil while processing. Check for salt and pepper.

Prepare ravioli according to package. Reserve a little pasta cooking water. Drain the ravioli and combine with the amount of pesto to your liking. Thin the pesto with a little pasta water as you mix with ravioli. Garnish with kalamatas if you like.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cornflake Fried Vegan Chicken with Smashed Potatoes and Peas

I must have been channeling Opie's Aunt Bee this week when I cooked up some cornflake fried vegan chicken with smashed potatoes and peas. This supper (and this is definitely a meal y'all should call supper like we do in the South) warmed us up in no time flat on a bitter Monday night.

This dish uses Match chicken, which is a soy and wheat protein product made right here in St. Louis. I purchase mine at Whole Foods, but don't feel left out if you're not local, you can also buy it from Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe. I haven't experimented much with Match, except for the divine BBQ pulled pork sandwich.

Match veganized the recipe for cornflake fried chicken from Gourmet magazine. You can search for other Match recipes by product, including vegan ground pork, Italian sausage, breakfast sausage, ground beef, crab, and ground chicken. This recipe is quick, easy, and fun to make, with all that smashing cornflakes and frying. Both cathartic and hedonistic! I used poultry seasoning rather than celery salt for the seasoning mixture. Next time I think I'll season the Match more heavily than a sprinkle, and increase the salt. I also cooked the chicken about 10 minutes total (5 minutes per side). You can add your own favorite spices. I also took the chef's advice on making Gourmet's smashed potatoes and peas, using Yukon Golds and vegan ingredients. Oh yeah. I guess Aunt Bee would say "I haven't had an experience like that since I was baptized."

Monday, January 5, 2009

Broccoli and Baby Spinach Soup

This is not the typical soup recipe for me. I tend toward chunky soups that are a meal in a bowl. But sometimes a lighter soup is in order, as a starter or to complement a heavier side dish. This recipe is a nice one to keep in mind for such times. It caught my eye due to the use of oats to thicken the texture. And full of broccoli and spinach, what's not to love?

Before we get to the recipe, a note to St. Louisans that SweetArt from-scratch bakeshop and art studio is open for business! Hours currently are Wednesday through Saturday, 10-6. You might call ahead if you are making a trip just for vegan goodies. The day I stopped by, I grabbed the last vegan chocolate chip cookies in the store! They were as delicious as they were gigantic, according to the non-vegans I shared them with too. And don't forget you can place an order at SweetArt for vegan cakes and cupcakes for any occasion.

Broccoli and Baby Spinach Soup
Adapted from Everyday Food
Serves about 8

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
about 2 pounds 4 ounces broccoli, spears separated and stalks peeled and thinly sliced
2/3 cup rolled oats
8 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
salt and pepper
1 cup baby spinach

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Saute onions and celery until they soften. Add garlic and nutmeg and saute about 30 seconds more. Add broccoli, oats, broth, water, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until broccoli is tender. During the last couple of minutes, add spinach. Use an immersion blender or regular blender to puree the soup. Check again for seasoning.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Cajun Spiced Tempeh Sandwiches

This recipe for Cajun Spiced Tempeh yields a large casserole dish of barbecued tempeh slices that can be piled on buns for filling sandwiches. The recipe is easy but does involve several steps. Tempeh slices are pan fried and then baked in a spicy tomato sauce studded with sauteed bell peppers and onions. They are meant to be served on hoagie rolls like po' boys, but we ate ours open-faced on wheat buns we had on hand. The flavor develops and is even better the next day. This is a Bryant Terry recipe, and I can't wait until his Vegan Soul Kitchen comes out this Spring.


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