Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cooking tips

Here are five random cooking ideas I've learnt in my brief cooking obsession thus far.

1. The internet. It's totally underrated as a cooking tool (or simply not considered) by way too many people. Google is already answering all your other pressing queries, so why not try asking it what to cook? Try putting ingredients you have in your fridge in as your search terms, e.g. "carrot and tomato recipes" and see what comes up (I did this once, and ended up making tomato-carrot soup), or if you have an idea for something but aren't sure how to go about it or if it's a good idea, put that in, e.g. me and the pear bread pudding.

2. Rice. If you're in doubt about a good side dish, try rice; it goes with pretty much everything. Making rice intimidated me for the longest time, but it's pretty simple. After yelling at the mr. once for doing it wrong, I found boiling water first, then adding the uncooked rice and proceeding works best. Also, keep the lid on so it can steam properly. Experiment with different kinds too, basmati is great. If you want to funk it up a bit or more advice, I once watched a video on the Rachael Ray website with a how-to. (Note: Rachael Ray isn't in it, if you're worried about that). If you still have crunchy rice, add more water and let it cook more. It'll turn into normal rice eventually.

3. New ingredients. Branch out in your cooking repertoire by acquiring something new at the supermarket. Splurge a little if you can afford it, sometimes something simple like a new kind of vinegar or oil will really add a different (good different!) taste to your food. Especially with pantry supplies, you could end up useing them a lot and having them last for a long time (like spices).

4. Fruit with ice-cream. This is a good way to eat more fruit and make a fast dessert. I don't remember where I read it, but it created happy times in summer.

5. Roast. Make friends with your oven, the rewards are great. This is the most important thing I learnt from Veganomicon. You can throw most any vegetable in your (pre-heated) oven at 400 degrees F (205 C) on a baking sheet with a little olive oil and salt, and keep them in there til you can pierce them with a fork (generally 30 minutes for smaller things, 45 minutes to an hour for big things, like half of a giant pumpkin). Especially good for those pumpkins, sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins. Make sure to either oil your baking sheet or line it with some parchment paper.

Anyone have others to share?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Great food books I read in 2008

Since I like lists, I thought it would be fun to do a few year-end type lists. Since it's already December 30, this will probably spill over into January. Oops. Let's be postmodern about this and acknowledge that the new year is just an arbitrary calendar date. This list is of food books (not cooking) I read and recommend this year.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver.
Kingsolver, a wonderful novelist (check out The Poisonwood Bible), chronicles her decision to move to a farm and dedicate a year to eating only food grown locally. There are meal plans, with recipes, by the seasons, along with essays from her 19 year-old daughter about her experience, and more background info about eating locally provided by Kingsolver's husband.

A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove: A History of American Women Told through Food, Recipes, and Remembrances. Laura Schenone.
Schenone uses food as a framework with which to look at American history, women, and culture by looking at how people ate and women cooked. She begins with Native Americans, then follows through different periods chronologically: the pilgrims, immigrants from the old world, slavery, and through to the present day phenomenon of being too busy to cook.

Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally. Alisa Smith and J. B. Mackinnon.
It seems like the same premise as "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" of eating locally for one year, but Alisa Smith and J. B. Mackinnon, a young couple, decide to define local as only things within a strict 100-mile radius. It's also a much more intimate account than the one offered by "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle."

The Language of Baklava. Diana Abu-Jaber.
A nice food memoir with wonderful recipes. Abu-Jaber is Jordanian-American and she recounts her life growing up between the two countries and cultures, while sharing the recipes for the food she ate along the way. I want to read more memoirs like this. Check out some of the recipes I tried here, here, and here.

The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family. Laura Schenone.
This book chronicles Schenone's effort to recover her family's authentic ravioli recipe. It got me thinking about our connections to the food we eat, definitely made me want to make ravioli, and inspired me to pick up her earlier book, A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove (also on this list). (This book also prompted my "home food" post.)

Still reading:

Culinary Artistry. Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page.
This book is changing the way I think about food. It seems more directed towards a high-end chef, but it's still fascinating reading. It discusses whether cooking can ever be an art, has charts for which ingredients go well together, and discusses how important presentation really is to a dish - turns out a lot of chefs think that sprig of rosemary stuck in the middle of your pasta is silly. The cool thing is the authors interview a bunch of different chefs, so you're exposed to a variety of opinions on each topic.

It Must've Been Something I Ate. Jeffery Steingart.
This is a funny collection of essays by Vogue food critic and his continual quest for great-tasting food, like hitting a dozen boulangeries in Paris for perfect baguettes. He's obsessed, and teaches you a few things along the way.

One more I didn't read this year but still recommend: The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It traces the journey of your food from farm to table. I posted a review of it here.

Finally, the following is a list I found of "farm to fork must reads" in this newspaper pamphlet-thing about a Seattle harvest festival. I'm planning to read a few more on this list.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Barbara Kingsolver. 2007.
Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty. Mark Winne. 2008.
Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet. Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe. 2003.
Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio. 2005.
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Michael Pollan. 2008.
Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food. Warren Belasco. 2006.
Organic, Inc.: Natural Foods and How They Grew. Samuel Fromartz. 2007.
Omnivore’s Dilemma: a Natural History of Four Meals. Michael Pollan. 2007.
Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally. Alisa Smith, J.B. MacKinnon. 2007.
Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, And Fair. Carlo Petrini. 2007.
What to Eat. Marion Nestle. 2007.

PS: You can find a cool list of food memoirs to read here at the NPR website.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chow.com

If you're looking for a way to while away yet more hours on the great internets with food-related stuff, check out chow.com. It has stories, weekly top ten lists, recipes (some of them are even vegan), really useful forums, and video tips. When I was up all last night jet-lagged, I went through their review of the year in food. Lots of interesting stuff in there, from California's proposition 2 on increasing space for farm animals to how quinoa is the new 'it' food.

Also check out a piece they have on reinventing table settings - they invited a bunch of designers to go wild with arranging dining tables. Pretty neat.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Baby it's cold outside


I got in from Cairo two days ago. It was a good trip, although it feels now a little too brief. I left Seattle cold, but unfrozen, and return to find it transformed - my first experience with snow. Walking outside yesterday morning - carefully armored in thermal, wool, boots, and a duvet-like coat - felt like an acid trip.

My plans to glean cooking tips while away mostly fell flat, but I did procure some regional goodies, orange blossom water and rose water, which are meant to impart a subtle flavor to desserts.

I also bought an Egyptian cookbook, "My Egyptian Grandmother's Kitchen: Traditional Dishes Sweet and Savory," originally in Arabic but translated into English. I haven't tried any of it's recipes yet, but I have enjoyed leafing through it, especially since it has full-color photographs for every double page spread. For an idea of what a big chunk of Egyptian cooking is about, there is an entire chapter in the book dedicated to stuffed vegetables. Dolmas, potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, and cabbage rolls are but some of the contenders for stufffing.

Yesterday I cooked, which I did precious little of back in Cairo. A quinoa salad with grape tomatoes and romaine lettuce dressed with a watered-down soy mayonaise I made two weeks ago from Hot Damn & Hell Yeah. The quinoa made it more filling, and the mayo made it creamy. So it tasted good and looked aesthetically pleasing too what with the contrasting colors, but my photos weren't so hot.

I also tried a mushroom-barley soup from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I succumbed and bought it before I left, and I have to say it's a pretty good investment so far, a nice basic guide to all kinds of things you might want to do in the kitchen (soups, salads, bread, and charts with information on vinegars, nuts, etc), with simple, fast recipes. I was looking for a book to tell me how to deal with any vegetable the CSA box might throw my way, and it seems to fit the bill. The soup was good, it was my first use of pearl barley, and it was nice and toothsome. I used cremini mushrooms mixed with dried shittake, and there were carrots and potatoes thrown in too.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Not-Tella Rolls


A few days ago I made the not-tella from Veganomicon - and it turned out great! Since I didn't have the hazelnut extract, I consulted the internets, which revealed by way of this recipe at Su Good Sweets (linked from the Bittersweet blog) that increasing the vanilla extract would do it (I upped it to half a teaspoon).

I wanted to experiment with the nutella (i.e. find a new way to eat it, it's great on fruit and toast) so I followed a recipe for cinnamon rolls and spread the not-tella instead of a sugar cinnamon mix. Expectations for the rolls were sky-high but they turned out a bit too hard and dry, I think because I kept them in the oven after baking to stay warm.

**

I'm going to be gone for two weeks, so I think blog posting will grind to a halt during that time. The hope is I glean cooking secrets of the middle east while on vacation (Egypt, the motherland).

Saturday, December 06, 2008

What happened to the pumpkin?


At the end of my last post I mentioned I had a never-ending pumpkin and was considering my options. Feeling energetic, I went ahead and tried pumpkin ravioli. There seemed to be two problems: the dough too dry and stiff and my lack of a rolling pin. In retrospect it's very easy to say, "don't go there," regarding ravioli if you don't have a rolling pin, but at the time, I thought it was at least worth a winging it attempt with a bottle used instead of a rolling pin. Lesson learned, and I plan to invest in one soon. I did form ravioli of a kind, but the doughy wrapper was more akin to the thickness of a sandwich. The filling was great though. (Note: I don't blame the recipe for my unhappy ravioli, which was from Plenty magazine.)

Much more successful was the pumpkin chocolate-chip bread from Vegan Knitting (adapted from the VWAV best pumpkin muffins). This turned out really well, I even subbed apple sauce for the oil (adding 1 tablespoon of oil) to no detriment.

I still had about a cup worth of leftover pumpkin so I threw it in the freezer to be dealt with later. Not to mention since I was only able to make about six ravioli from the dough (despite doubling it), I had leftover pumpkin filling too, but I put that in leftover phyllo. Those adventures are for another post though.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fried Oatmeal


Stumbling across the internets a while back, this idea of frying oatmeal at a blog called Fuss Free Flavours presented itself. You have to soak the oatmeal with a little milk and flour the night before, which is not a big deal but requires a little forethought. Last night there was a long bout of insomnia, so mixed it up. Used some carrots and green onions for the vegetable portion. It turned out to be interesting, a good addition to the repertoire of weekday morning breakfasts, not to mention a new way to prepare oatmeal, although the oatmeal could've used a little more frying.

Besides that there is about 1/6th of a large roasted pumpkin sitting in the fridge wrapped in clingfilm, patiently waiting for its fate to be decided. Options include an "undercover cornbread" at Vegan Explosion where the pumpkin is a secret ingredient, pumpkin chocolate chip bread at Vegan Knitting (an adaptation of VWAV's pumpkin muffins), and pumpkin ravioli in an article with ideas for a vegan thanksgiving at Plenty magazine (scroll down). Bets are on the pumpkin chocolate chip bread.

Side note: anyone heard of this website called Vegetarians are Evil? Just discovered it last during the insomnia. Crazy stuff, brings up a certain mustachioed leader of Germany in WWII.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

on the minimalist chef

An interesting profile of "the minimalist chef" Mark Bittman was written up here at the New York Observer. Bittman maintains the New York Times food blog Bitten and has authored "How to Cook Everything" as well as "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian." I own neither, but think I want to get the latter sometime.

Although not a vegetarian, Bittman is akin to Michael Pollan in encouraging everyone to eat less meat for environmental reasons, but too bad his blog doesn't focus on veggies more. Still, I've found lots of good ideas there, like parsley sauce and cornbread. There are also frequently non-cooking yet food-related posts about things like farming that I like. I'm still waiting for his post on the 50 best cookbooks - his readers responses with their suggestions are here. Yes, Veganomicon was suggested many times, but Vegan with a Vengeance not as much.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Vegan Thanksgiving

So I went to this vegan Thanksgiving potluck today. A lot of firsts: my first Thanksgiving, which I've discovered is a Really Big Deal here in the US (I thought it was mostly having kids make turkeys out of colorful construction paper and dress up as pilgrims and Indians; at least that's what we did in my American elementary school in Kuwait) and first vegan potluck. It was great not to guess what was in all the food, which was abundant and mostly pretty good. Things weren't very Thanksgivey besides the food - although there was no Tofurkey, which I was led to believe was the very essence of vegan & vegetarian thanksgivings.

The place was packed, and I met lots of interesting people. On the way there, we carpooled with a couple who revealed they keep a neat food blog, Vegan Ricans, complete with videos they've shot making Puerto Rican recipes.

Also, Bethany from Spotted Devil Cat and his Vegan Assistant was there, and it was really fun to meet up with her again. She brought Susan V's black bean dip with her - very tasty.

I met a man who's been vegan since 1980! I was really impressed. I imagine no-one was vegan back then. He said the only "vegan" food you could get back then was tofu, and I'm guessing it wasn't at your friendly neighborhood chain supermarket.

The only bad thing was driving back from Issaquah, since it was dark and rain with signs warning of deer skipping merrily along the highway, but we survived.

I made Veganomicon's Spinach-Noodle Kugel/Casserole and a double batch of VWAV's Pumpkin muffins. It was my second go at the spinach casserole. Last time I skipped the fresh dill, and it made a world of a difference here - it complemented the lemon juice in there wonderfully.

(Side note: nice tip on the PPK forum about lowering sugar/fat in the muffins that I just saw now and will definitely try next time I make them.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Spinach & Tofu-Ricotta Pizza


What is it about pizza? You know how they say, even when it's bad, it's good? Well, this was actually really good.

I'd been thinking of making Fat Free Vegan Kitchen's Polenta Pizza yesterday (out of a desire to avoid making real pizza dough rather than health reasons of avoiding gluten) but then decided to bite the bullet and roll out the real deal. I've made the polenta pizza once before long ago and I liked it, although the polenta somehow made it look and taste a lot like an omelet. But maybe that was just me. I would definitely make it again though.

Anyway, I went with the VWAV pizza dough recipe which I tried before. I topped it with the VWAV tomato sauce (naturally), tofu ricotta, spinach, chopped tomatoes, vegan sausage and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. Somehow it was very successful, maybe because I decided to listen to the mr.'s advice that lots of toppings = better pizza. Pre-baking, I was a bit worried it was overload, but those eight minutes in the oven seemed to shrink the toppings down to normal amounts.

Plus, I'm not really sure why I wanted to avoid making dough - it's so fun. I don't like cleaning up the counter afterwards, and I also get intimidated by the wait periods involved in letting the dough rise and then 'rest' (the 'rest' always makes me feel like it's an exhausted diva that needs beauty sleep). But really it's not such a big deal, and kneading out the dough and eating the pizza are well worth the labor involved.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Parsley pasta


Parsley is not a herb I like very much, so when I saw a parsley-vinegar sauce on Bitten, I marked it to use some of the green stuff that was coming in the CSA box.

Bittman says you can use the sauce over "steaks, pork, or chicken," but commenter number two remarked that they often paired pasta with parsley pesto. In my mind I just registered it as, "okay, I'll throw it on some pasta." As I was making it I worried it would be too strong for the zucchini and carrots I was having with the pasta, so I threw a little tofu into the blender after everything else to mellow it down, just in case. It worked great: nice creamy green pasta sauce, and a full cup of parsley down.

Isa's perfect chocolate-chip cookies


I tried the new cookie recipe Isa posted a few days ago yesterday. I replaced most of the canola oil with apple sauce (I added a tablespoon of oil) and the tapioca flour with cornstarch. They really were good, I think the extra vanilla gives them a really rich flavor. The apple sauce made them really soft though. I used Julie Hanson's tip of using an ice-cream scoop to form the cookies, and it worked great, but it made gigantic cookies.

**
For dinner I had stir-fried left-over radishes (thinly sliced), bok choy, and mustard greens, topped with some grated carrots with peanut sauce and noodles. This was good because the strong flavor of the mustard greens got cushioned by everything else; last time I made them on their own and I couldn't finish them.

**

Even lunch was exciting yesterday: I mixed left over rice and chickpeas with sauteed radishes, added a little vegetable stock, cumin, and raw garlic in an attempt to get rid of my cough. It was good stuff, cumin is my new favorite spice (farewell, oregano. Note: nothing will replace fresh basil).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chickpea Cutlets & Middle Eastern food


I made the famous chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon yesterday, baked. They were good, and I was most impressed by how fast and hassle-free they were to assemble.

Today I had a flop and a mid-range success. The flop was falafel. I had two recipes, one from the food memoir "The Language of Baklava," and another in VWAV. I decided to try the first today, and the latter another day. It seemed simple enough: mix everything together, let the mixture sit in the fridge for awhile, form into little patties and then fry those babies up. Sadly, it was not to be. The batter didn't want to be formed into patties and kept breaking up, so I made them smaller and figured it would be okay. It wasn't: two minutes into the frying and they completely disintegrated! I tasted some of the broken-up crumbs rescued from the hot oil, and the flavor was right on, but they were nothing more than crumbs. Big disappointment. However, I need to point out the other recipes I've tried from "The Language of Baklava have been really successful.

Luckily I'd also made mujaddara, which is a cousin of an Egyptian dish called koshari. I'd never heard of mujaddara until a few days ago. It's a fried onion, rice and lentil mix with a little bit of spices thrown in. Pretty simple. Also from "Language of Baklava," but recipes abound on the internet.

Veganomicon's "mediterranean-style cashew-cucumber dip," which is the vegan version of the Greek yogurt dip tzatziki, was supposed to accompany the falafel, but in their absence I put a little on the mujaddara. I was really impressed with this dip, mostly for even trying to recreate it. And it was not bad at all.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cabbage Rolls, take two


I gave cabbage rolls (mahshy kromb) another shot today. I'm pleased to say it turned out way better than last time. I can attribute the success to several things done differently (mostly due to the guidance of the recipe): using regular cabbage instead of Chinese (Chinese cabbage has a different, thicker texture) and cutting the stalky parts of the cabbage leaves - these add too much bulk. I used a different recipe, also from The Language of Baklava, and just excluded the meat. The stuffing was a chickpea, onion and rice mixture with a little cumin and cinnamon. It tasted pretty good, although not exactly Egyptian as I know it. It was cooked on the stove, simmering for about an hour, not in the oven as lots of non-Middle Eastern recipes seem to call for.

I'll probably make these again. They weren't as fiddly as I thought, although somehow I ended up with less than a dozen, because a bunch of cabbage leaves got accidentally torn.

Oh, and on the right of the plate is a bunch of baked Jerusalem artichokes (or sunchokes). They're quite similar to potatoes in taste and texture.

Caramelized Pear Bread Pudding


So, as planned, I used up the last of the overripe pears yesterday. Since they were really soft, I was wondering if they could replace bananas in a quick bread. I turned to the internet, discovered it was possible, and got the idea somewhere to make a bread pudding. Bread puddings have been in the back of my mind since I saw this at veganlovlie. Anyway, Google revealed pear bread puddings did exist, and found me a recipe from the Mayo Clinic's website, of all places. I did the usual vegan substitutions, and it turned out to be pretty pleasant, warm with a little crispiness in the midst of much creaminess. I think some ice-cream would've gone really well with it too. It was a little heavy though, even though it uses only 3 tablespoons of fat.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Return of the fennel


We had fennel again in our CSA box and again I didn't know what to do with it. I considered the gingery fennel I made last time, but then I saw a recipe in Vegan Italiano for a fennel and pear salad. It called for ripe yet firm pears, which I thought was the case with ours until I took a look at them... they were sadly overripe, but I made the most of the situation and set aside the mushy parts for another use. Anyway, this salad was delicious, and the usually hard to integrate licrorice taste of the fennel was put to good use combined with the sweet pear.

I also made Veganomicon's baked pumpkin ziti again. It was great, again. I added some sliced vegan sausage and green onions and fresh (frozen) thyme to use them up. I could barely taste the green onions, but the sausages were nice.


**

A few days ago I made pumpkin-apple soup. I remembered a soup I made a few weeks ago as being pumpkin-apple, but really it had been sweet potato-apple (and I subbed pears for apples), but the pumpkin-apple worked pretty well. I sauteed onions for two minutes on medium heat, added the apples for another 10 (til soft), then spooned roasted pumpkin into the pot. Roasting pumpkin is so wonderful, I just always roast now whenever a recipe calls for pumpkin in any state, it's so much easier than cutting up in in an uncooked state and cutting it up. Then I used an immersion blender to make it creamy. I garnished with never-ending green onion. It turned out pretty well, apples sauteed with onions taste surprisingly good.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The 7 random things meme

I've been tagged by Bethany at Spotted Devil Cat and his Vegan Assistant.

Rules:
  1. Link the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links.
  4. Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
1. I've had a lot of short-term odd jobs. One of the oddest was summarizing an Arabic religious show into English for the English-speaking editors.

2. I go through phases of deep interest in different activities. Right now it's cooking, but there's also been art, writing, comics, embroidery, crochet, and knitting.

3. I have trouble throwing things away, especially old receipts, clothes tags, and bus passes.

4. The best dessert I've ever made were some chocolate peanut butter shells that I found at Yeah, That Vegan Shit. Despite that, I've only made them once because they were a little labor-intensive. I should remedy that situation one day.

5. I'm not sure why my blog is called nineteen ninety nine. I wanted something random and I think I got it, but I would do it differently if I made a new one today. Also the old URL used to contain a misspelling.

6. My favorite thing in my flat is our small square wooden dining table that we got from a vintage furniture store.

7. I don't drink coffee because caffeine's powers seem to multiply by 10 for me, but I love coffee flavored things like cake and candy.

I'm tagging:
http://lifeloveandfood24.blogspot.com/
http://veganefcliz.wordpress.com/
http://yeahthatveganshit.blogspot.com/
http://baliwhat.wordpress.com/
http://boosveg-a-nut.blogspot.com/
http://heathenandvegan.blogspot.com/
http://www.zoeyskitchen.com/

Monday, November 10, 2008

Collard Greens Stir Fry & Lentils


I've never had collard greens before, so I figured I'd try the Veganomicon easy stir-fried leafy greens recipe which is pretty straightforward, any leafy green with some ginger, garlic and soy sauce. I was expecting the collard greens to taste kind of neutral like chard or kale, but instead it turned out to be bitter like mustard greens, which I'm not a fan of. Oh well. I added some hummus to it to try and salvage the situation, it helped. It needs to be mixed with other things to cut down on the strong bitterness, maybe quinoa or any other grain.

Since there were leftover lentils from the soup, I thought it would be easy enough to sautee some onions and add a few spices to jazz them up. But no. I'd already soaked the lentils overnight to make soup, so I brought them to a boil and let them simmer for 20 minutes. I forgot to add salt, and they kind of disintegrated. And the flavoring turned out to be off. I turned to hummus again for help, and it worked. So now I know I have a way to go before I become an intuitive cook who can live recipe-free.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sushi, VWAV Ginger Cookies & Tofu Scramble

Yesterday was my second solo sushi attempt. I did two variations: avocado, carrot, chives, and the same thing but with tofu ricotta added. I think they turned out pretty well, and luckily I still remembered how to roll. The rice was still crunch after 20 minutes, which made me think I was cursed (combined with the cookies that were too sticky, not to mention I forgot to preheat the oven), but I added water and kept checking in two minute increments, and finally it worked. The carrots added a little crunch, the chives a subtle onion flavor & freshness (for lack of a better word), and the avocado and tofu ricotta creaminess.

After I saw the sparkled chai cookies on Bitter Sweet, based on VWAV's Sparkling Ginger Cookies, I figured I should give the originals a shot. The dough was super sticky. I tried the trick of putting it in the fridge for a bit, which was okay for the first two cookies but didn't last long. So I adapted by using a spoon and sprinkling the sugar instead of using my hands to roll the cookies out and sprinkling on the sugar. The sugar added a crunch that was nice, and the flavors worked pretty well together. I think I'm going to make more gingery-things in the near future.


We had this tofu scramble for breakfast with the recipe from VWAV. Thinly sliced radishes, a bit of shiitake mushrooms, and the grated carrot at the end. For some reason it turned out to the best tofu scramble I've made so far.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Braised Cabbage & Lentil Soup




So, last week I checked out a bunch of vegan cookbooks from the library since a bunch of them were just hanging out on the "reshelf" aisle. One of them was "Vegan Italiano," which as you might guess is a collection of vegan Italian recipes, but the cool thing is that they are all authentic Italian recipes - i.e. no tofu, mock meats, soy cheeses, etc. Naturally, this book is right up my alley, and I think I will purchase it soon. The recipes all seem fairly simple too, although I've really only skimmed it so far. Two days ago I made the Braised Sweet & Sour Cabbage with Kidney Beans, and it did not disappoint. I never know what to do with cabbage, but we get it in our produce box fairly often these days, so this was a good solution. I made some "Fancy biscuits" to go with it from "How it All Vegan" (also from the library). The fanciness is attributed to the green onions added. They were more like scones than biscuits, very soft, but I liked them.

**

I just finished reading this food memoir entitled "The Language of Baklava" by Diana Abu-Jaber, a Jordanian-American, so I decided to try out some of the recipes. The book itself is a great read, full of memorable characters and pepppered with recipes from her chidhood, most Jordanian/Middle Eastern. Anyway, for lunch I followed her lentil soup recipe, with a few tweaks. The flavors were exactly right, but I like a thicker lentil soup, so next time I'll just reduce the amount of water she calls for. It was really easy too. This is a perfect winter soup.

Lentil Soup, adapted from The Language of Baklava

1 C lentils (soak your dried lentils overnight)
1 medium onion
splash of olive oil
3 C water (I used 4, but I think 3 or even less will make a thicker soup)
1 carrot, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
juice from 1 lemon
salt & pepper to taste

Rinse lentils. Sautee the onions in olive oil until transluscent in a medium pot. Add everything else and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Wait until soup cools slightly to blend, or use an immersion blender in the pot.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mango Salad, Roasted Tubers, & Pure Baked Apples



I made lots of food today in an attempt to finish up the CSA produce. We had one mango, turnips, carrots, beets & green onions. There was a mango in there because our farm has some kind of exchange program with other farms so occasionally there are a few very non-local things thrown in.

Me and the mr. were both apprehensive about eating the mango as a proper 'dessert fruit' since we're used to juicy mangoes heady with sweet fragrance from the balmy summers of Egypt. In comparision, the ones I've eaten here (two to date, including today's) strike me as being crossed with lemon. Anyway, I found a salad in Veganomicon to use: quinoa, mango, black beans, and a little wine vinegar (I used white since that's what I had on hand). I ommitted the black beans and repalced scallions with green onions: I think I would've done well to exclude it altogether. I still think it's wrong to eat mangos in non-fruit fashion, but hey, desperate times & desperate measures, etc. Still, the salad was good, especially pre-green onions; the mango added a nice sweet surprise between the pretty quinoa.

In my newly-purchased cookbook, The Candle Cafe, I found a recipe for roasted tubers and proceeded to throw all my edible roots in: carrots, beets, and turnips. I think there was a similar recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance too, but it was interesting to see the different flavor suggestions. Where the latter frequently suggests maple syrup, ginger, and a splash of lemon; Candle recommended dried herbs (I used fresh thyme, which I've actually frozen in order to freakishly preserve it forevermore - better than being thrown away in two days! - thanks to a tip gleaned on the increasingly useful Chow forums), soy sauce, garlic, and of course, olive oil. It was pretty good, and I think some mushrooms and caremalized onions would've been very happy to join for an all-around hearty winter dish.

For dessert I decided to bake our two remaining apples. Allrecipes suggested coring, then stuffing the hollows with some brown sugar, butter and cinnamon and parking them in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 F (175 C), but I wanted to try them plain to see what flavor they would have in a pure, unadulterated form. I expected them to be really sweet and juicy, but actually they retained a little crunchiness and there was a fair amount of tartness, so I think I will do the brown sugar medeley next time. (Note: in typing this, I realize I probably kept my oven at only 325 by accident, thereby preventing them fom becoming more tender). In any event, I think they will be quite pleasant with some oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Cornbread


I made some cornbread today. This is the third time I've made cornbread, and the third recipe I've tried. To me, it seems to taste better if you throw in some chopped stuff: I used some green onions, carrots, and fresh thyme since that's what I had on hand.

I just got a cast-iron skillet, and I think it made a big difference in helping form a nice crispy crust at the bottom of the cornbread. Cornbread in general is nice and hearty and very adaptable in terms of things you can throw in, and luckily today was no exception. One tweak I'll do if I make it again is use less sugar; the recipe called for 2 tablespoons but I think one or even half would be more appropriate. I used the first cornbread recipe in a book devoted to all things cornbread, aptly titled "The Cornbread Gospels." Rose-Anne of the Life, Love and Food blog posted her version of the recipe here, along with a hefty endorsement for the book it comes from.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Chard-Noodle Casserole & Balady Bread



I basically followed Veganomicon's recipe for the spinach-noodle kugel, replacing chard with spinach and breadcrumbs for matzoh meal. Some immensely useful website that I don't remember informed me that you can substitute chard for spinach anywhere as long as you cook it longer*, and I decided to do just that, since spinach recipes abound (rightfully so, spinach is delicious) while poor chard gets lain to the wayside despite being one of those dark leafy greens we hear so much about (not to mention chard was in my produce box this month and spinach is out of season). This casserole is basically mashed tofu, chard, macaroni, onions, and bread crumbs all mixed together.

There are other things to do with chard, like make a lasagna (I was seriously considering this one); there seem to be lots of good recipes on the New York Times blog about health, "Well." There's a basic chard introduction here up there too.

* To cook chard, throw it into a pot of boiling water, and then once the water boils again, let it cook for a minute. It should wilt but still be bright green. Remove and drain.

**

In other exciting kitchen news, yesterday I made balady bread! In case you don't know, think of it as pita bread's cousin, in the same thin circle but thicker. I used this recipe from about.com's middle eastern section. (Okay, it's really a recipe for pita bread, but like I said, they are cousins and I think in English they're treated as one, despite being divided into sub-types in the middle east.) They even have a video too if you need more encouragement. One thing to bear in mind: when you preheat your pan in the oven before baking the bread, don't flour it. I did and the flour burnt completely, prompting the fire alarm to go off and transforming the flour into what strongly resembled rich fertile soil. The bread also seemed to bake faster than the suggested times, so it's worth it to check it earlier. I used two cups whole wheat pastry flour and one cup plain old white, but I might make it all whole wheat next time for an even coarser texture. It turned out great this time and it was really pretty easy to make, it just needs a little time for kneading and waiting for the dough to rise. But kneading is fun and you can spend the hour it takes for the dough to rise reading, not to mention the bread is great, so go ahead and make it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I got a new cookbook

I just bought a new cookbook, and I have to say I'm intimidated. I know, it's just a cookbook and it's not going to bite. Trekking out in the moderate rain armed with an umbrella with the mr. in hand towards the bookstore (about half an hour away, walking), I'd intended to purchase "The Voluptuous Vegan" since I've heard good things about it. But my memory hadn't served me well: it wasn't in stock (or who knows, perhaps this was a recent development)." The Candle Cafe Cookbook" graced the half shelf devoted to vegan cookery instead. It's a restaurant cookbook for an apparently highly-regarded vegan gourmet restaurant in New York. The pictures are certainly beautiful, but the tone seems just a little cold. Maybe it's the fanciness? I guess I've gotten used to friendly encouragmenet from cookbook authors (on the page, not in person). Time will tell if it'll grow on me and whether the recipes on its pages will join the repetoire of those put into frequent rotation.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fat-Free Vegan's Impossible Pumpkin Pie


We've reached the last day of Veganmofo. This makes me sad; I really enjoyed posting about my daily food adventures.

Susan V. from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen's Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie strikes me as good an ending as any, actually make that in the top tier of endings. I've made it before, but it's never formed as nice a semi-crust as it did this time (it's 'impossible' because it's crustless). One strange thing: it barely rose at all, even though I accidentally put too much baking powder. It was only about an inch thick. Maybe because I baked it in an oven-proof skillet? (I'm really hoping to buy some more kitchen tools tomorrow!) Or maybe it was because I checked on it too early & often, panicking it would finish sooner?

Who knows, in any event it was really tasty, another great pumpkin recipe to make and enjoy often in pumpkin season.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Acorn Squash & Leek Soup

For lunch today I had the usual left-overs, but decided to add a grain to the kale & peanut sauce that I had yesterday. I chose the white basmati rice purely because it only takes 15 minutes to cook and I was already hungry. Let me tell you, basmati rice is a revelation, nice and buttery just as Isa and Terry promise in Veganomicon. It went really well with the kale and peanut sauce too.

I tried making a quick yeast bread from The Dirty South Cookbook (the flip side of Hot Damn and Hell Yeah). It went pretty well! Pretty easy, I went with half whole wheat pastry flour and half regular white.

In really good (cooking) news, I finally finished my never-ending leeks! Indeed cause for celebration. I googled "squash and leeks" since I also had an acorn squash on hand and a squash and leek soup recipe from Cooking Light magazine came up. It had recipe traits I appreciate: a small number of ingredients and simplicity. The roasted garlic it called for added flavor, and the squash gave it a creamy texture. Overall, a nice fall soup.

Final thing: the other day I toasted some pumpkin seeds following instructions on about.com's home cooking section, and they turned out great. I tried them before using a different method and they flopped, so I'm really happy I discovered that I can legitimately save pumpkin seeds based on taste and unrelated to the guilt-waste factor involved in throwing them away. Super easy & a savory healthy snack.




Wednesday, October 29, 2008

VWAV Orange Glazed Beets & Kale



We have lots of winter vegetables now: kale, beets, carrots and not-so-wintery cauliflower (& never-ending cabbage & leeks that defy physical laws, but those are for another day).

I made the orange glazed beets from Vegan with a Vengeance to deal with the beets and a stray orange. For everything else, I sautéed lots of garlic, added the cauliflower and carrots, then threw in the kale in the last few minutes, sort of combining the VWAV garlicky kale and braised cauliflower recipes. I made some ginger peanut sauce to go with it which I think added a good punch, but then I am a sucker for peanut sauce - super easy and fast and very flavorful. I used the recipe at the vegetarian section of about.com.

I liked the beets, but they weren't tender enough and they didn't go together well with the kale. Both had strong flavors with complex ingredients so they weren't well-suited. The kale dish would've been better suited served with brown rice or a grain, and I'm not really sure what would go well with the beets - Isa suggests her roasted vegetables, grilled tofu, and a grain; I was thinking maybe lentils. But when I think of it, I think tofu would certainly be good.

**

Tomorrow: most probably dealing with an acorn squash.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Clean-Out-the-Fridge food


On the NY Times Bitten blog a while back was a post that I think of often when I have leftovers entitled "Creating the Garbage Plate." I have to agree with others who've noted that 'garbage plate' is not a very appetizing name for this phenomenon.

Anyway, this was my cleaning-out-the-fridge lunch today. I had some recently cooked chickpeas, about a cup of recently de-frosted tomato sauce, and fillings from the manicotti I made the other day (thinly sliced mushrooms, a little bit of tofu ricotta). I just threw it all in a pan together for a few minutes on medium heat, and I have to say, it was pretty good.

I blended the remaining chickpeas up into hummus that didn't turn out tasting like any hummus I've ever tried (some fresh thyme leaves I added introduced a foreign flavor), but I think if you're not after "real" hummus it's pretty alright.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Vcon Leek and Bean Cassoulet


I've had three leeks sitting in my fridge for maybe two weeks from our produce box, so I've been wanting to do something with them for a long, long time. Luckily they keep pretty well. Today I attempted the Veganomicon leek and bean cassoulet recipe to remedy the situation.

I have to say, it turned out really nice. BTW, those white bits at the top are biscuits, not cauliflowers! A very hearty, wintry stew, and the biscuits that go with it add a really nice crunchy texture.

I did a few changes as usual: skipped potatoes since we're all out, increased the amount of leeks (well, I wanted to be at least one whole leek down), & added some cabbage that I'm also trying to use up.

**
In other news, a cookbook zine I ordered about three weeks ago finally got here, Hot Damn and Hell Yeah which presents vegan southern/tex-mex food. Bethany at Spotted Devil Cat reviewed a few of the recipes a while ago, so I will definitely check those out. Looks pretty good overall so I'm excited.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Manicotti Flop


Feeling inspired by a recent Vegan Dad post about pumpkin-filled manicotti (like giant penne that you stuff then bake in the oven/ similar to cannelloni), I decided to wing my own manicotti concoction. I made some tofu ricotta from Veganomicon that I've been wanting to try for ages, finely chopped cremini mushrooms, and had the mr. grate a carrot and dice a little cauliflower then everything together. After boiling the manicotti for four minutes as suggested, we stuffed the manicotti with the mixture, I poured some jarred tomato sauce on it, and threw it in the oven for 45 minutes. Then I had a quick glance at About's Italian food section which imparted the following wisdom:

The one thing you do have to remember is to make sure that the sauce you pour over the cannelloni once you have arranged them in the baking dish is somewhat more liquid than what you would normally use for pasta, because it will thicken in the oven.


But it was too late, they were already in. 45 minutes later, they came out, and the pasta was crunchy from being dried out, burnt on the bottom in parts, and the mixture was bland. The sauce did indeed thicken, plus there just hadn't been enough of it to begin with. It really got me down for a while, but as the mr. pointed out, "if you're not making mistakes you're not learning" etc.

Anyway, I think manicotti is definitely worth another shot, perhaps in cannelloni form since I have some lasagna noodles I can use. They just need a heck of a lot of watered-down sauce poured all over them to make sure they don't dry out like this time. Also, since tomato season is no more, I might try it with some kind of nut-based vegan alfredo sauce. As for imparting flavor, options include some garlic I roasted today, left-over thyme leaves, and of course, plain old spices.





VWAV Pumpkin Muffins


I've made these muffins a bunch of times, but now that I think about it I don't think I've ever baked them as "muffins" before - I tried them more than once in cake pans for lack of muffin tins. Anyway, since moving I have the opposite problem, a muffin tin without cake pans. But I digress. These muffins are totally delicious, and they were my gateway into pumpkin love.

Even though the pumpkin we bought was tiny, it was still enough to make both the breaded baked ziti recipe from Veganomicon and these muffins. Pumpkins are generous like that.

**

In food reading news, I started reading a new book yesterday, "Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally." Co-authored by a young couple living in Canada, it's their memoir of a year spent eating only food coming from an 100-mile radius (160 km). It makes for good reading too; I'm already half-way through.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pizza!


I finally took the second half of the dough that's been sitting in the freezer for ages* and made pizza with it. It was pretty good, but not great, and I couldn't really put my finger on what prevented it from reaching greatness. I think it was something about the tomatoes.

Anyway, this is what I put on it:
tomatoes
cremini mushrooms
vegan mozzarella
vegan sausage
red bell pepper

I definitely want to make some more soon. The picture shows the mr. slicing it with the rotella (pizza cutter, doesn't it sound nice in Italian?). I used the pizza instructions in Vegan with a Vengeance.


* I used the first half to make calzones.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Breaded Baked Pasta


I used the Veganomicon recipe for the breaded baked ziti to make this. I was kind of in a rush, so I used breadcrumbs from a box instead of making some myself, and substituted spiral pasta for ziti. It turned out pretty well, I really recommend this.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sweet Potato Gnocchi Follow-up

Here's the sweet potato gnocchi I made yesterday for dinner, served with the thyme vinaigrette and lemon cashew cream at Vegan Yum Yum. We had it as left-overs today, and it was not bad at all. I think yesterday I was tasting less because I was distracted with having people over. I also made the arugula salad from Veganomicon, with a few substitutions, like quinoa instead of bulgar. Today I made it again with chickpeas instead of white beans. The dressing in it is great, which elevated the salad to fantastic-level. Coming from someone who's not a fan of salads or arugula, that's pretty high praise. For some reason it didn't turn out as well today (too many chickpeas, maybe), but we still ate it up.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cabbage Stir-fry, Sweet Potato Gnocchi


I made a stir-fry yesterday with cabbage, red bell peppers, and tofu in an attempt to use up the cabbage & red bell pepper. It was pretty good, the cabbage and pepper were nice and crisp so that was a nice contrasting texture to the soft tofu and noodles.

**

Today we have friends coming over for dinner, so I made sweet potato gnocchi. I was worried about not having enough time so I started early, but I was too early, so I decided freezing the gnocchi was probably a better idea than leaving it out for two hours. There they are awaiting their fate in a baking tray.

I always wanted to try a sweet potato version of gnocchi, ever since I found out it was an option. Last week I plugged in "vegan cooking shows" to you tube & this sweet potato gnocchi recipe came up. The guy in it suggests going half and half with sweet potatoes & regular since regular potatoes are starchy and that starchiness makes the dough easier to work with, although a google search revealed lots of people do pure sweet potato. I made the thyme vinaigrette and lemon cashew cream at Vegan Yum Yum that Lolo uses to top her gnocchi.

I'm also planning to make an arugula and quinoa salad based loosely on one I saw in Veganomicon, so we'll see how all this goes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Moosewood Brown Bread


Because I didn't want to go out to the supermarket for toast, I made bread. Not of the replacing-toast sort, though. I found an easy enough recipe in my Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. It's an everything but the kitchen sink kind of recipe: one cup each of corn meal, whole weat flour, and plain old white; plus raisins, molasses, and brown sugar with some cinnamon, allspice, and even ginger thrown in.

Just after I'd added apple cider vinegar to rice milk to substitute the buttermilk, I glanced through the recipe only to discover that it called for a loaf pan, which I don't have. I remembered reading somewhere that bread can be cooked either in a loaf pan or "free form" on a baking sheet, so figured I'd wing it.

Anyway, turns out it's a batter bread, not a dough bread - i.e. you get a liquidy mixture you have to pour into something, not a firm dough that can stand alone. So I just poured it into an oven-safe pan and cooked it for half the time. It turned out pretty okay, but I still think it's time to invest in a loaf pan.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

VWAV Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies


So I used the Vegan with a Vengeance recipe for Big Giantoid Crunchy Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies to make these, except I used creamy peanut butter instead of crunchy (I never buy crunchy, but I'm guessing it would've been good here) and added about half a cup of chocolate chips. To up the healthiness quotient, I did my usual subbing of some apple sauce for the oil and went with half white and half whole wheat pastry.

Overall, a very good cookie. I was worried it would turn out too sweet, but as usual with the recipes in this book, it was just right. Plus I really liked the tip to fill 1/3 of a cup with the dough, roll it in your hand, then use the bottom of a (lightly greased) glass to flatten the cookie for nice, even cookies. I wish I knew it back when I used to make cookies for bake sales, but oh well.

I bought a pumpkin the other day and am planning to make the totally delicious pumpkin muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance soon.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kale with Fried Rice and Cashews

So, today was my first kale cooking endeavor. Lots of firsts this week. I did a combination of the garlicky kale recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance and a recipe for Chinese cashew fried rice I found at the Vegetarian About page.

So I sauteed the garlic for a few minutes, added the rice, threw in chopped kale for a few minutes, and in the last minute added mashed silken tofu, a small bit of leftover cabbage I had, and a handful of chopped cashews. I added soy sauce, lemon juice and a pinch of salt for flavoring.

Turned out pretty well. The soy sauce and lemon juice are a pretty successful combo.

The salad was a salad (on the left) was a salad mix in our produce box, dressed with balsamic vinegar, which I think makes everything taste good. A very vegan day, all green.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gingered Fennel with Garlic


I decided to use up some left-overs today / try and finish up the stuff left in our produce box.

One of the main "left behinders" was the fennel - luckily my Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites had a recipe for gingery fennel with garlic. Fennel is hard to just throw in anywhere, it has a really distinctive (possibly overpowering) liquorice taste. Also, the fennel recipe was the only one I found in my handful of cookbooks.

I'd gotten some fresh ginger just to try the gingered fennel; it was actually my first time using fresh ginger, not the powdered variety I usually use. The ginger was good: strong in that "it's probably good for you" kind of a way. Basically, sautee chopped fennel and garlic for a few minutes, then add the ginger, cooking until the fennel is tender. Throw in a little sugar, salt, and pepper.

It's pretty spice, so I'd recommend serving it with something mild - I think a grain would go nicely here. I think it also be good with noodles and maybe even toned down with some peanut sauce.

For sides we had the left-over rice filling from yesterday's cabbage rolls, and some baked potato chips. You can't really go wrong with potatoes, and these chips were not an exception. The potatoes and rice were bland enough to turn to for comfort from the spicy fennel, so I was happy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Calzones & Mahshy Kromb




I had a very big cooking day today, in several respects.
I used yeast for the first time. Yeast is what they put in (most) bread to make it rise and get puffy, I'm not really sure how it's different to baking soda and baking powder, which do the same thing. One difference: yeast takes a lot longer so you need to wait about an hour for the yeast to work its magic in the middle, and you also need to knead it to make your dough stretchy.

It was very fun making the Calzones - sounds like an Italian-American family name, right?) because of the dough. All the kneading and stretching and watching the dough grow big and even at one point punching it.

The filling I used was: mashed white beans, jarred tomato sauce (need to use it up), shittake mushrooms, caremlized onions and some really good sweet vegan sausage (made from apples). I sprinkled the "cover" which I folded over with a little bit of oregano, thyme, and chili pepper.

The basic pizza dough recipe was from Vegan with a Vengeance, but I was inspired by this and consulted again with the Life, Love, and Food blog here to calzone-ify the dough at the end.

The other thing I made was cabbage rolls (mahshy kromb). I really wanted something close to an authentic Egyptian recipe, but I didn't find one / I didn't have necessary ingredients (like parsley), so I made a bastardized version. The filling I used was a mixture of cooked white rice, a pinch of thyme, soy sauce (!), lemon juice, caramalized onions, garlic & an ill-advised teaspoon of fennel leaves (which taste, of all things, very much like liquorice.) The rolling itself was very funny - funny because it was hard and so what are supposed to be the size of a thick marker ended up stodgy and stout instead. The picture is misleading because there is no reference scale. Oh well. The recipe was based loosely on one I found in Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. Another bastardization: baked in the oven, not on the stove.

My inspiration came from Vegan Dad. But as for making them Egyptian style, for those of you in Cairo, I would suggest finding a mahshy kromb mentor to show you.

As for how the calzones & cabbage rolls turned out, you'll have to tune in tomorrow - we're going to eat them now.

**

Post-dinner update: The calzones turned out really good! The mr. (literally) gave an enthusiastic two thumbs up. The dough seemed just perfect, but I really want to try them again with either vegan mozzarella or tofu ricotta and see how they turn out.

Sadly the cabbage rolls didn't fare so well. I think part of it was that I used (I discovered when eating) Chinese cabbage, which, while interesting and explains something I could never figure out in Chinese restaurants (namely, what is this?), creates a very different (thicker, more gelatanious-seeming) texture different to the one I'm used to. Of course, the different filling/cooking/rolling were also factors.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pasta & fresh bread



I made the Irish soda bread yesterday! From the Elizavegan blog. It was really easy as promised (and fast, not including oven time, although even that was not too bad since I was cooking/washing dishes throughout), although shaping it was not, so it came out resembling a gigantic oatmeal cookie. It was pretty tasty too, so I think I will try more bread soon.

So for dinner yesterday we had pasta (a fettucine/ fusili mix, we ran out of fettucine and it needed supplementing) with red sauce. I 'sweated' the onions as per Veganomicon's instructions, (15 minutes in the pot on low heat with no oil added), then sauteed garlic, thinly sliced radishes and shittake mushrooms. At the end I threw in half a block of tofu that was left-over from something. I liked the flavors together (in my book, you can hardly go wrong with tomato anything) and the tofu added some chewy texture. The bread on the side was a nice touch too, although I think I went a bit overboard by cutting giant hunks of it for us.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Veganomicon Snobby Joes




We had left-over Snobby Joes for lunch today - the mr. is home because he's sick. This was my second time making them and they turned out much better this time - I'm not sure why, but I think it's related to making sure they were hot when I served them, and increasing the amount of chili pepper (which I'm increasingly fond of these days).

Actually, I did a lot of kitcheny things yesterday: I made scrambled tofu for breakfast, and some maple-walnut cookies for a post-lunch snack, both from Vegan with a Vengeance. I really liked the maple-molasses combo in the cookies, and tried it on some oatmeal today for breakfast. Good way to 'break' the strong taste of molasses with additional sweetness.

**

Things I'm thinking of making:
Cabbage rolls - Vegan Dad said he would be making some soon, and I have some cabbage that I'd like to use up.

This recipe for Irish soda bread. It sounds so easy, and I've been wanting to make bread forever.

Calzones stuffed with white beans, inspired by this recipe & the helpful veganizing suggestion from Rose-Anne in the comments.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

VWAV Fettucine Alfreda


Yesterday for dinner the mr. and I made the fettucine alfreda from vegan with a vengeance. We had it with broccoli and very thiny sliced radishes, which by the way, no longer taste like radishes when thiny sliced and sauteed. It was my first time trying out the much-celebrated nutritional yeast (a powdery yellow vegan foodstuff that gives a cheesy taste to things). The sauce was interesting, definitely creamy, but I think I'd like to try one with more pine nuts (or other nut, I've heard good things about cashews) and less nutritional yeast.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ful

When I wrote the other day that I never make Egyptian food, it was a half-lie.

One can of ful (fava beans) from the Middle Eastern market in a pan with some onions, garlic, cumin, a tomatoe if you have it, and a few drops of lemon is a very good breakfast indeed, with (pita) bread on the side to wipe your plate clean.

Occasional art, comics, food, and other things of less interest to the general public.