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.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Flower Ice Cubes for Cocktails

We had weather so warm last weekend that I was drawn to our patio like Scout is to peanut butter. We put some old Rolling Stones and not so old Mother Truckers on the playlist. (There's something about sunny days and country-tinged music that just seem right together.) I needed something to do while soaking up the sun, and decided to pull out some cookbooks. Shocking, I know. As if sun, tunes, and the first Gin and Tonic of the season aren't enough entertainment. (Fondly called G 'n' T's in the Show Me casa.)

Just when I thought "it doesn't get any better than this," something caught my eye in the book Appetizers, Finger Food, Buffets, & Parties: decorative ice cubes!! What a way to elevate your Springtime cocktails to a new level. You can make these by filling an ice cube tray halfway with water and freezing. Then dip edible organic flowers in cold water and place one on each half-cube. Top with water and freeze completely. Look for edible flowers in the produce section of the grocery store, in little plastic containers near the fresh herbs. When my cubes were frozen and ready, it was not actually "cocktail hour", so I tried them in a glass of club soda. So festive, with a slight floral aroma. I can't imagine that they wouldn't be divine in a G 'n' T.

I also got the chance to start testing recipes for Vegan Latina, Terry Hope Romero's upcoming cookbook! Feast your eyes on possibly the best casserole I've ever tasted, and I'm a big fan of the casserole.

This is the Sweet Basil and Corn Pot Pie. So aromatic, sweet, savory, and creamy. Y'all are gonna love this cookbook.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Asparagus with Dijon Maple Adobo Sauce

Hello again! I found little time last week for cooking and blogging, and I certainly missed it. We made do with nachos, tofu scramble, and whatever else we could get on the table with little effort or thought. However, the weekend finally provided the chance to try some new things, one of which is this asparagus appetizer or snack. Blanched asparagus as a dipper is elegant in appearance, and also plain fun since you get to eat with your fingers. And remember that sweet, tangy mustard you used to eat pre-vegan (that contained egg and honey)? You can whip up this tasty vegan version before you can say "vegan food rocks."

Asparagus with Dijon Maple Adobo Sauce

1 bunch asparagus
1 Tablespoon salt
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon adobo sauce from chipotles in adobo
paprika to garnish

Snap tough bottoms from asparagus stalks and discard bottoms. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and return to boil. Add asparagus and boil around 3 minutes. Prepare a large bowl of ice water while asparagus cooks. Use tongs to transfer asparagus to ice water when cooked. Drain, pat dry with a clean kitchen towel, and sprinkle with pepper and salt.

To make sauce, stir Dijon, maple syrup, and adobo sauce in a bowl. Adjust proportions to your liking. Serve asparagus in a tumbler with sauce on the side for dipping. Sprinkle with paprika if desired.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Spicy Broccoli, Bell Pepper, and Cannellini Beans with Bowtie Pasta

Full of vegetables, with a smattering of creamy cannellini beans and enough crushed red pepper to get your attention, this pasta could be the next addition to your quick meal rotation. If you're like me, you find yourself with way more activities than you can cram into your non-work time. I still have Christmas decorations to pack away. I kid you not. (Did I really just admit that on the internet?) Anyway, with so much to do, a pasta dish full of nutritious vegetables and beans for protein can fortify you for a busy schedule, without carving out a huge chunk of your precious time for preparation.

Spicy Broccoli, Bell Pepper and Cannellini Beans with Bowtie Pasta
Serves 4

8 ounces whole wheat bowtie pasta
2 cups broccoli florets and stems, sliced into small pieces
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large red bell pepper, sliced
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
toasted pinenuts, to garnish, optional

Cook the pasta according to package directions. After the pasta has cooked about 7 minutes, add the broccoli to the pot. Cook about 3 more minutes, then drain.

While pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute bell pepper until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook about 1 minute. Add oregano, basil, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, and beans. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
Combine sauce with pasta and broccoli. Check for seasoning. Top each serving with pinenuts if desired.


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