Vegtastic!

Flower

Posts Tagged ‘vegan mofo 2012’

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup + Tofu Balls from The Giant Book of Tofu Cooking

20121024-085735.jpg

When I moved to Seattle, my boss, Len, and my friend/coworker Somaly each gave me a tofu cookbook.

I can’t remember which colleague the Giant Book of Tofu Cooking by K. Lee Evans & Chris Rankin came from, but it’s a great resource, with 350 recipes using tofu covering breakfasts to desserts to soups to everything in between across a wide variety of cultures.

Most are vegan, and the vegetarian recipes are easily veganizable, and is a great introduction to cooking with cultured soy. Unfortunately, I believe the book is now out of print, which is a shame.

The tofu seems gratuitous in a few of the recipes (like the lentil soup with tofu — I eat legumes when I don’t want to eat tofu) but meshes really well with others. I picked a couple of recipes to cook where the tofu was integral, not incidental (to misquote Miss Maude).

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

Since it’s cold right now and I’m feeling lazy motivated to work on other projects, I gravitated towards the Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup (p. 88). Yes, my last post was also on cauliflower. It has only a few ingredients (potatoes + onion + cauliflower + broth + silken tofu) and whips up quickly.

I tend to use pureed white beans in my creamed soups because I consume enough soy as it is, so I’d probably sub in a can of white beans for the silken tofu next time (which kinda runs counter to the idea of cooking from a tofu cookbook, I know), but the tofu added a nice creaminess. I used an immersion blender instead of putting it into my Vitamix as recommended (yeah, the book recommended a blender, not specifically a Vitamix, but I want you to know that I HAVE A VITAMIX) just because it’s easier and I rarely use my immersion blender — the joy of having too many toys.

Madison Market only had orange or purple cauliflower (I went orange), which made me think that making this with purple cauliflower and purple potatoes would look really, really cool. Or gross — remember Heinz’s purple ketchup?

Tofu Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

The tofu balls (p. 66) are great in theory, though not in execution. I really like the flavor and texture of the bell pepper, mushrooms, scallions and celery suspended in the mixture, and the sweet and sour sauce is phenomenal (though the recipe yielded much more than I needed, even halving the recipe).

However, the silken tofu called for makes the balls disconcertingly soft — I’ll use firm tofu next time, and maybe fry them as patties rather than bake them as balls.

Red Lentil-Cauliflower Curry from Veganomicon

20121017-123429.jpg

tastier than I’ve made it look — I promise

I’ve already cooked a recipe from Veganomicon this month, but, like I said in my previous post on the matter, it’s a tome, and one worth mentioning twice.

So, what I’m currently eating as I blog on my lunch break, is the Red Lentil-Cauliflower Curry (p. 186). It’s stick-to-your-ribs filling and hot-but-not-tongue-burning spicy — perfect for these chilly October nights. The cauliflower adds bulk and flavor without a lot of calories (not that I’m counting) and is a natural partner with curry (think aloo gobi).

I’m not a huge fan of parsnips, so my first instinct was to sub the parsnip the recipe calls for with potato or carrot, but it’s grown on me after a few helpings over a few days.

Tempeh bacon from Vegan with a Vengeance

I was at Sidecar a while back for a bake sale, and asked Bethany which vegan products she was loving at the moment.

Her answer? Smart bacon and Wayfare cheddar-style spread on toast. Stick the toast in the toaster oven with the bacon, spread the spread on the toast, and top with the bacon.

I bought a package of each and some bread, and ate this for the week. Delicious. The tang of the cheddar contrasted with the bacon’s sharp saltiness and the crunch of caramelized sugars in the toast.

However, Smart Bacon really, really frustrates me — the pieces are difficult to pull apart, and one just doesn’t need that kind of aggravation in the morning.

So, I took a stab at the tempeh bacon from Vegan with a Vengeance (p. 23) — I honestly haven’t cooked much from VWAV, even though it was one of the first vegan cookbooks I owned. I think my mother gave it to me — thanks, Mom!

Isa’s tempeh bacon is really easy to make with ingredients you mostly have on hand, and a fabulous way to work on using up extra tomato paste, which deserves to be a Jerry Seinfeld joke: “What’s the deal with tomato paste? Recipes never call for more than a tablespoon, but the smallest size you can buy is 8 ounces!”

(The solution is to freeze leftover tomato paste. Whatever.)

Anyhow, I ate my tempeh bacon on toast with Tofutti, since Madison Market seems to no longer be carrying most types of Wayfare spread (boooooo) and Sidecar is a trek.

I think I’d balance out the tempeh bacon’s saltiness in the future by serving it with French Toast and maple syrup — it’s not quite as good as Smart Bacon as a toast topper, but still tasty.

A few good places to eat out with non-vegans in Seattle

20121015-090750.jpg

My brother visited me this past Thursday – Sunday, so I didn’t cook much, from cookbooks or otherwise, but still wanted to put up a post in the spirit of MoFo!

It’s not that I wouldn’t cook for him — he’s a former picky kid who has turned into a total gourmand and now eats (surprisingly) anything — but I want him to move to Seattle and figured that the best argument in this city’s favor would be won through his stomach (and liver).

I also came down with what I am telling people was food poisoning (but was most likely an intense, delayed two-day hangover, given our Thursday night activities) on Friday afternoon, so kitchen time wasn’t exactly the first thing on my mind.

The challenge is always picking restaurants that will accomodate my brother’s desire to rob the planet of salmon and my desire to eat a sustainable, cruelty-free diet. Plus, it needs to have good beer. Luckily, this is not hard in Seattle.

20121015-090035.jpg

Collins Pub will sub out Field Roast cutlets for meat on some of their sandwiches. I ordered a super tasty veganized version of their Tower Steak Sandwich (actually, I forgot to ask about the bread — I had it in my head that everything was from Grand Central, and most of Grand Central’s breads are vegan. This may not be the case).

20121015-090128.jpg

High 5 Pie’s vegan crust is amazingly flaky, with just the right amount of sweetness. I’m a huge fan of the vegan apple

Six Arms has a hemp-based vegan burger, which I did not eat. I did down a bootyload of their cajun tots ($2.50 for a big plateful at happy hour!) after I finally got my appetite back — just ask them to hold the ranch dressing.

20121015-090512.jpg

The Aaron’s Special at Glo’s is amazing: sauteed veggies and guac over hashbrowns. I am probably never going to eat this again for reasons that are related to details I have already disclosed and inappropriate for a food blog, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t.

20121015-091637.jpg

The Cha-Cha now has a chipotle vegan chicken to add to their vegan burrito. I am addicted.

20121015-090207.jpg

The Redwood changed their brunch menu recently, but still will sub out tofu for eggs (no charge) and Daiya for dairy ($1 extra). If you ask nicely, they’ll make you a vegan Bloody Mary.

My brother was very patient as I photographed everything. Here we are together:

20121015-090025.jpg

Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream from Veganomicon

20121010-105139.jpg

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (you apparently need three names to be a vegan cookbook author) is less of a cookbook and more of a tome — it’s heavy and epic.

I’m a huge fan of this book because it has so many excellent and fairly easy to prepare recipes, and because the name makes me think of Army of Darkness (10.11.12 edit: the book in that film is called the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis). I haven’t seen either of the Evil Dead movies (they look scary), but the ability to quote Army of Darkness won me points with nerd boys in high school, which was pretty much the only male attention I got in four years. (I had glasses, played in the orchestra, and wore a lot of oversize t-shirts.)

“Good. Bad. I’m the one with the gun.”

Anyhow, now that I’ve admitted that I didn’t have a life growing up, out of all the good stuff in Veganomicon, Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream (p. 164) most stood out on my most recent perusal. I wouldn’t typically make a casserole to try to impress someone, but I’d say this casserole is even worthy of being date night fare — definitely an elegant dish.

20121010-105152.jpg

I subbed butternut squash for the zucchini called for in the recipe, since zucchini is not in season (yeah, yeah, neither is eggplant, but whatever) and swapped out the nutmeg for cinnamon because the only nutmeg I own is Shaw’s brand nutmeg (I have nothing against Shaw’s brand nutmeg, but I haven’t lived near a Shaw’s since June, 2008, so do the math there).

20121010-115516.jpg

Other than needing, like, 5 different pans to roast all of the different veggies and having multiple steps, the recipe is pretty easy. It tastes rich, but since the bechemel topping is just silken tofu with pine nuts and lemon juice and a few other things, I don’t think it’s actually all that heavy or unhealthy. At least, I hope it’s not, because I’ve eaten a lot of it lately.

The recipe makes probably 8-12 servings, so maybe make your Eggplant-Potato Moussaka for a dinner party or a family or just hunker down for the long haul.

20121010-123055.jpg

It’s less pretty the next day, but still delicious.

“Gimme some sugar, baby.”

Chickpea Piccata from Appetite for Reduction

I’ve made a number of recipes from Appetite for Reduction by vegan demigod Isa Chandra Moskowitz. They tend to be easy to make when you have limited time, and are flavorful and filling despite being low-fat. It’s the cookbook in my collection that I’ve cooked from the most, and have never felt skimped, diety, or eating disorderly eating the results — some “healthy” books and blogs are little slices of anorexia sheltered by the facade of better living.

The description on the PPK says it all:

Low-fat cookbooks can be a warzone for women. I wanted to create something fun and positive. Something that would empower you at the stove, give you a reason to sport that cute vintage apron. I want you to love your kitchen, love yourself, and, yeah, maybe to love tofu just a little bit, too.

It’s food that’s normal enough that you can feed it to an omnivorous boyfriend (or any other skeptical eater) without him asking what you’re eating.

Among my many favorites are the red wine and kalamata tempeh (p. 157 — my go-to fancy dish), Goddess Nicoise (p. 25), the smoky split-pea soup (p. 223), and the edamame pesto linguine (p. 174), but the recipe that really stands out is the chickpea piccata (p. 115) over cauliflower mashed potatoes (p. 54).

I love this recipe for several reasons:

  1. capers.
  2. white wine.
  3. lemon.
  4. visible slices of sauteed garlic.

There was a period about a year ago where I ate chickpea piccata every single day for about two weeks AND I’M STILL NOT SICK OF IT. That’s how awesome it is.

If you don’t own the book and want to try before you buy, the recipe for chickpea piccata is available on the PPK. Give it a try if you haven’t!

Guilty pleasures

20121003-104044.jpg

It’s only day 3 of Vegan MoFo 2012 and I’m already cheating on my theme — commitment is clearly a challenge for me.

I haven’t had much time to cook this week, which is a problem when your theme revolves around cookbooks, so I’m going to talk today about something else: guilty pleasures.

Namely, my biggest guilty pleasure of all: potato chips.

For a while, it was Mighty-O donuts. Then my sweet craving mechanism turned off, and this preference flip-flopped: I still crave greasiness, but it’s fat of the salty, savory kind.

The ritual is to eat a single-serving bag of chips slowly, savoring each crisp round, until there’s nothing but crumbs and air inside. My hands covered in oil, I walk to the bathroom to wash the odor of the deep fryer off my skin and stare at myself in the mirror, pleading to my body to forgive me for what I’ve done. I promise to never do it again, but the next morning the craving hits again and I crack.

I’ve been averaging a bag of potato chips from the little convenience store in my building every other day for the past few months. The nice old lady who runs the place giggles a little when I come in (her English is rather spotty) and hands me a nickel in change before I’ve even removed a dollar from my wallet.

Sometimes I send a coworker to pick up chips for me to avoid her judgment, as cute as her judgment is.

One of these days, I’ll quit the habit and move on to another obsession. For now, chips it is.

What’s your biggest vegan guilty pleasure?


The Accidental Vegan

Pure Citizen, a flash sale site with a green side, had a few vegan cookbooks available a while back and I bought three of them, including Seattle-based Devra Gartenstein’s The Accidental Vegan. (note: that links to Amazon. It’s not an affiliate link. Just a link.)

Gartenstein runs the Patty Pan Grill, a vendor at farmers markets around Seattle. I love Patty Pan Grill’s tamales and quesadillas, and there are recipes for each in the book.

Some of the instructions are a little vague. For example, when making seitan, Gartenstein says “…break off pieces of gluten about the size of a peanut and drop them into the pot”– shelled peanuts or unshelled?

My stupidity aside, the seitan turned out well.

Praise seitan.

The seitan is a bit squeaky against the teeth after it’s removed from the soy sauce/water bath it’s initially cooked in, but loses that quality once it cooks a second time in an actual recipe. Gartenstein has a number of recipes for her seitan, of which I made the Kung Pao Seitan — mushrooms also add a meaty quality to her version. A bit of starch to thicken the starch might be nice, but it’s a reasonably healthy stir-fry.

I ventured into the dessert section in hopes to bake something sweet for my soccer team. The thumbprint cookies looked good. They did not turn out so.

This is what a thumbprint cookie should look like:

(image by moonlightbulb)

This is what mine looked like:

They basically just spread out, and the portion with the jam disintegrated. Tasty, but not exactly what I expected.

However, I didn’t give up on Gartenstein’s desserts. Since berries are so abundantly in season in early August (yeah, it’s October — I started this post in August… 2011), the crumble seemed like a logical choice. It cooked up beautifully:

Here’s a close up:

My friends and coworkers loved it — and loved me for baking it, which is really why I bake in the first place: to make people like me.

The marinated potato salad (p. 49) is also excellent — the perfect picnic dish. You know, now that it’s fall and all. Because this recipe calls for red wine vinegar, mustard and just a tablespoon of olive oil instead of the traditional mayonnaise, the salad is lighter while still very flavorful — the onions and dill give it a definite punch. It also takes minimal effort (just chop and boil potatoes, then stir some stuff in) and benefits from marinating overnight, so make it the day before you need it.

Another company-pleaser (since two’s company and three’s a crowd) is the spinach and tofu with peanut sauce — it consists of tofu, fried to a crisp, and steamed spinach smothered in a velvetty, savory sauce. If I were making it for myself, I would skip frying the tofu and save some calories, but the fried texture is nice.

The last recipe I’ve made is the tamarind coconut tofu  – the instructions say to just dip the tofu in the sauce and then bake it, though mine turned out very bland. I’m going to try soaking it for a few hours next time, because the marinade is super flavorful.

The Accidental Vegan is a great resource for sauces, pilafs and other grain dishes, curries, and legume-based stews, and while everything looks delicious, nothing stands out as being really phenomenal. It feels like a greatest hits list of the vegan dishes in cuisines across the globe.

Still, the recipes’ simplicity make them ideal for weeknight cooking, and almost every ingredient is readily available at mainstream grocery stores (though a few recipes call for exotic things, like kaffir lime leaves or gluten flour, but these aren’t really that off the beaten path).  I wonder a bit whether their blandness will lead the omnivores who purchase this book (Gartenstein is an omnivore) to think that veganism is boring, but the omni’s in my life have enjoyed everything from it that I’ve fed them.

I’d say that this is a good cookbook for people looking to incorporate more vegan recipes into their diet, though I’m personally going to stick with my vegan-penned standbys.

Appetizers from Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen

Let’s see: it’s October 1. Rent’s due (done). Gotta figure out what I’m going as for Halloween (done). Mary’s and my moratorium on September shopping is over (hello, new pants). What else?

OH CRAP! VEGAN MOFO 2012 IS HERE!

20121001-191128.jpg

I had some friends over the other night for drinks before dancing (soul night!), and used this as an opportunity to get a teensy bit of a head start by preparing the Provincial chickpea puree (p. 7-8) and eggplant caponata on polenta crostini (p. 17-18) from Donna Klein’s Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.

The chickpea puree is like a lighter hummus — there’s no tahini, just chickpeas, garlic, lemon and a bit of olive oil blended silky-smooth, with parsley stirred in. The caponata is a little tangy-sweet due to vinegar and sugar, and makes a great gluten-free appetizer (though I honestly would just serve it with baguette slices next time).

20121001-191142.jpg

I’m not really into Italian food, which is why I’ve been hesitant to open this book up, but there are enough Greek, Spanish, French, and African influenced recipes in the book to make it a well-rounded collection.

Vegan MoFo 2012: Cooking from cookbooks

20120923-150946.jpg

just a sampling of my personal collection

I live in a pretty wired world. I have a degree in digital media communication, work for a web-based company, and heck, even put together presentations on social media just for fun.

Consider a conversation I had with a college acquaintance at my friend Diana’s wedding:

him: what do you do for a living?

me: I train lawyers how to blog.

him: okay — what do you do for fun?

me: I write a blog.

him: ummm, what would your ideal job be?

me: probably manage blogs for a company. Or write for a blog. Or get my blog to the point where I could just blog all day blog blog blog.

him: [stops dancing with me]

However, I’m pretty sure that the Internet is killing me. I love what I do, but some days I just want to drop out of online society and open a vegan bakery. I’m realizing more and more that to be successful on the web (or really anything you do), you need to periodically step away from it.

So, I’m going a little analog for Vegan MoFo this year: cooking from the cookbooks I own. I have a ton of cookbooks, vegan and otherwise, but instead of ever using them, they sit on the shelf while I turn to Google for recipes. All those pretty pages, yearning to become dog-eared and spattered. Each has a story.

It’s not the most inspired or creative theme (that designation is totally going to Julia this year) but it’s one that needs to happen for me.

Simple. Basic. Tangible.

Also, I’m not going to blog about my experiences — I’m going to broadcast them via Morse code and smoke signals. Old School.

JK.

I posted something every single day of Vegan MoFo 2011. That’s 31 posts in 31 days. I’m not going to do that this year. I definitely have more than 31 cookbooks, but there is the whole “Internet is killing me” thing and I don’t want to burn out from something I love. I’m hoping to post on all weekdays, but realistically it may end up just being 3 times a week, which is still a heck of a lot more than I’ve been doing recently. (Is this MoFo cheating? Possibly.)

Super thrilled to be participating in Vegan MoFo a second year!

WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera