A couple of these are actually from her blog, so I don’t know if they’re in her book or not. Anyway, my second week with Chloe’s recipes was all about the Asian flavors! And noodles. And sandwiches. It was a pretty good week.
First up are the Garlic Sesame Soba Noodles from her blog. I used shiitake mushrooms instead of oyster, because they were way less expensive. I do love oyster mushrooms, but I thought that the shiitakes worked well here because they absorbed the sauce better than the oysters would have. I also added some thinly sliced zucchini and carrots, to up the veggie ante. I have been craving vegetables of all kinds lately, and these were a nice addition. The zucchini absorbs the flavor of the sauce (which is true to its name – garlicky and sesame-y) and the sweetness of the carrots complements it all very nicely.
Chloe says she likes these served cold, so that’s how I ate the leftovers, and I think they’re equally good either way. I might be a little numb to cold leftovers though, since I don’t have a microwave at home and sometimes am too
lazy ravenous to get up to use the microwave at work. Also, can I just say…any excuse to use chopsticks is a good excuse? I love chopsticks so so much. I have quite the collection. Oh, recipe notes: I would cut down on the oil, of course. She is always a little oil heavy in her recipes, I’ve learned. The tablespoon of sesame oil could be cut down to a teaspoon, and the same amount of sesame flavor would be present, I’m sure. That stuff is generally pretty potent and a little dab will do ya, right? Otherwise, a win!
These are the Thai Chickpea Burgers with Sweet and Spicy Sauce from her book (Chloe’s Kitchen, just to make sure we’re all on the same page). I was being absent minded last week (I had kind of a crummy week, honestly) and added the two tablespoons of oil to the burger mix instead of reserving it for frying them. Oops. So they were a little less firm and a little fattier than they were supposed to be. Oh well. It didn’t seem to affect the flavor (canola oil, thankfully), which was delightfully reminiscent of Thai food. Gingery. Mmm. The sweet and spicy sauce was, like all of the other sauces I’ve made of hers, meh. Combined with the burger it was good, though. I added some lime juice to it, but it was just kind of overwhelmingly tomato-y. These were generally good though. I would definitely make the patties again.
So, I’ve never had Pad Thai. I know, I know. It’s just that the ingredients list always seems so long? But these Pad Thai Noodles from her blog had a pretty short ingredients list, so I gave them a whirl. And they were ok. I dunno, they seemed like they were missing something.
Some oomph. I ended up adding extra soy sauce and some red pepper flakes for a little zing. And I regretted adding in the chopped peanuts, because apparently I hate peanuts! But I like peanut butter and peanut flavored things. Odd how that works, eh? But they were totally edible and unoffensive. And I love broccoli and the lime was great. And again, noodles…and chopsticks. So I’m not complaining.
I’m tired. I feel like it’s pretty obvious that I’m tired right now. I’m sorry, everyone, if this was the most boring, non-helpful post ever. Also, I took a break from the challenge for the current cookbook, because I don’t own it and none of the internet recipes looked great to me. I’ve been cooking from Appetite for Reduction instead, because after all that oil and noodles and sandwiches, I could maybe use just a pinch of reduction. Still photographing everything though, so I’ll post next week with those AFR recipes I tried!
Chloe’s Kitchen is yet another cookbook I don’t own, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy it. There are quite a few online resources (but it seems like Amazon took down a bunch of the recipes on the preview this past week? Am I just nuts?), including her blog, so I’ve had a decent amount of recipes to choose from. And I really think I like most of them! And the ones I haven’t made still look tasty! That usually means I need to own the book eventually. Maybe when my summer of poor is over. I needed to detox from beans and sweets last week, so I decided to make some smaller things that could be eaten alongside of a HUGE SALAD. I ate so many huge salads last week. Mmmm.
Yeah, this photo was not easy to color balance, everyone. But these Crispy Potato-Leek Patties with Lemon-Dill Dip are mighty delicious, no matter what color napkin you eat them with. Bonus: I had all of the ingredients already in my kitchen! Well, so that means I used Yukon Gold potatoes instead of Russets, but I like the texture of those better anyway. Creamier. I was afraid that the recipe for the patties was almost too simple, but with only salt and pepper added to season them, the flavor of the leeks and the buttery-ness of the potatoes really shines. And they fried up so nice! I’ve finally gotten comfortable with pan frying patties and burgers and things. (Without smoking out my apartment.) The lemon dill sauce is nice, too, but is nicest eaten with the potatoes. This will be a trend in my review of the sauce recipes that I’ve tried, by the way. Kind of ‘meh’ on their own, but when combined with the rest of the components, awesome!
If any cookbook I look through has a falafel recipe, it will be one of the first things I make. Any excuse to get more falafel into my belly. So when I saw the Falafel Sliders, I was like, ‘Cha! Falafel!’ Except I made mine into 5 regular sized burgers because I don’t mess around with sliders. At least, not when I’m cooking for just me. Sliders for one just sounds kind of depressing. Sliders are party food! Burgers can be eaten alone, at your kitchen table, while perusing the internet. Gah, I’m sad, aren’t I? Anywho, I really loved the addition of sun dried tomatoes to the mix. I did not use the oil packed kind, but just added a few drops of oil in case it needed the moisture or something. They formed into perfect patties and fried up like a dream! They got nice and crispy on the outside, while staying soft on the inside.
Patties! I’m so good at making patties now, everyone. I’m pretty proud of it. As for the sauces that go with these lovelies, again, they were just ok! The avocado hummus was downright weird…I’m not really sure why the chickpeas are even necessary, and the 1/4 cup of oil is definitely not necessary. I only added 2 Tbsp of it, and even so the hummus was overwhelmingly olive oil-y. Next time I would just mush up an avocado with some lemon juice and little cayenne pepper. The tahini sauce was nothing totally special either. Just kind of bland-ish. But somehow, when I combined the two of them with a tomato and the falafels, magic happened. It tasted amazing! How odd. But happy odd.
The last recipe I tried last week was the Tempeh Piccata. I know, you’re obviously saying that isn’t tempeh, and you’re right because it isn’t. The Kroger I frequent has stopped carrying tempeh, and it pisses me off. They started carrying all this other awesome shiz, like Daiya, but discontinued the tempeh. Like, hey lets stop carrying whole foods in favor of fancy processed stuff! It’s like totally bittersweet, you know? Anyway, I thought it would be ok to make this with those Kroger Simple Truth vegan chicken strips, but I was kind of wrong. I never noticed before that they had a definite…flavor, but they do. It kind of went weirdly with the piccata sauce. Also, I like the piccata from Appetite for Reduction better in general. It just has a nicer flavor and doesn’t contain, like, a million tablespoons of oil and margarine. But this wasn’t bad. I ate it over pasta, just because I wanted pasta and that’s how I roll. I would try it again with tempeh to see if I like it better, but I would also take out some of the fat.
All in all, a pretty good week. I’ve had some successes so far this week too! I’m generally noticing that there is a lot of added fat that you can easily remove most of without sacrificing anything. She’s also really liberal with her use of salt, which doesn’t bother me, but also isn’t for everybody. Come back next week for more burgers and lots of noodles!
Exclamation point is added for emphasis of awesomeness. The super cool folks over at Vejibag recently sent me one of their reusable cotton produce storage bags!
You know how plastic bags are terrible for the environment and wasteful to boot? Well, they also make your produce rot faster because they keep moisture in, but don’t allow veggies to breathe. Solution: organic cotton produce bags! You simply rinse your produce and put it in the dampened Vejibag. The damp cotton keeps a nice humid environment for the veggies, but it’s porous so it doesn’t keep them so wet that they get slimy. Fan-freaking-tastic. Also, it’s super cute.
And when they get dirty, like mine is, you can just throw them in the washing machine. At just $16 (or just $10 for the smaller size) a pop, they’re a steal. Or get the three pack, save a few bucks, and have more room for happy produce! This thing totally works, too. I admit that when I first put half a zucchini and some cilantro into this kind of heavy, damp bag, I was a little skeptical. I thought no way this thing wasn’t going to rot the heck out of them, but after forgetting about them for a few days, I checked back in and all was well! I think the bag works especially well for delicate produce, like scallions and herbs. My herbs usually get super sad within a day or so, but not inside the Vejibag! Totally stellar.
Oh, hey, also…their company seems super rad. Like, I want to be friends with whoever wrote the copy for their website. They’re all about sustainability, domestic labor, biodiversity, and more! Really, go check out their site and read around a little, and then support this new company by buying a bag or three! The lifespan of your veggies will be extended and you’ll be supporting all sorts of awesome things in the process.
Thanks a lot, Vejibag peoples, and good luck with your startup!
Edit: How silly of me, you can also like Vejibag on Facebook!
This past Saturday, I taught a class on the various ways to use various beans! The class was taught through The Wild Ramp, which is a lovely local foods store in my town. They’re hoping to make the classes a regular thing, so keep your fingers crossed for me! For this class, I was given adzuki, pinto, and black beans since those are available for sale in their store. Challenge accepted! I decided to completely develop my own recipes, and thanks to a little brainstorming help from the PPK, I came up with these gems.
Adzuki beans are used in Asian cuisine, mostly. I thought about making a soup with them, but really wanted to do a soup with the black beans…so I decided to make an Asian style dip instead! This dip is made slightly sweet from the sweet potato and the addition of miso and ginger give it a distinctly different flavor from most dips I’ve had. My cousin described the flavor as ‘challenging’. It grew on me. This huge batch has been in my fridge almost a week now, and I like it more every time I try it, so I recommend letting it sit overnight for optimum flavor potential! The ladies in the class loved it, and it was a nice ice breaker munchie food for them to snack on while I made the rest of the dishes.
Asian Style Adzuki Bean Dip, makes 3-4 cups
2 cups cooked adzuki beans
1 large sweet potato, cooked (I just baked mine while I was cooking the beans, you know I don’t expect you to have a pre-cooked sweet potato in your fridge.)
4 scallions, chopped
4 Tbsp miso (I used red, feel free to use a milder one if you prefer)
1/2 cup tahini
juice from 1 lime
2 Tbsp Sriracha
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds or toasted sesame seed oil
1 tsp unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
Toss all those things in a large food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally. Taste for salt and add another Tbsp of soy sauce if you like. My miso was strong and salty, so I only needed one Tbsp of soy sauce. Tastes great with all manner of chips and crackers, but would also be lovely as a spread in a wrap with lots of fresh veggies.
I got the idea for this casserole from a PPKer, who said it was a traditional Southern thing. I’d never had it or even heard of it, but it sounded pretty awesome, so I threw it together using the pinto beans. I didn’t want to risk eeking out any potential veggie haters, but this would be great with whatever veg you have in the fridge thrown in. I really think a zucchini would be wonderful. The ladies loved this one as well! They kept saying, ‘My husband would eat this!’ Which is good, I guess? Haha, I suppose it means it’s good for picky eaters. The cornbread is a halved version of the skillet cornbread in Veganomicon, except I think mine has a touch more oil.
Southern Style Pinto Bean and Cornbread Casserole, serves 4
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large jalapeño, seeded and minced
3 cups cooked pinto beans
2 Tbsp tomato paste
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ancho chile powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp hot paprika (optional, but I like it spicy)
1/2 tsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup plain, unsweetened soymilk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp oil
optional garnishes: sliced avocado, minced fresh cilantro, hot sauce
Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease an 8×8 inch glass casserole dish.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat with the olive oil. Sauté onion and jalapeño for about 5 minutes, until onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Stir in beans and turn heat to low. Add tomato paste, zest and juice of the lime, cumin, coriander, chile powder, oregano, hot paprika, sugar and salt. Cook together for a minute or so and then transfer to the prepared baking dish, spreading into an even layer.
Make the cornbread batter! Combine soymilk and vinegar and let sit for about 5 minutes while you mix the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, sift together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add oil to the soymilk mixture, make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients, and add the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Some lumps are ok. Spread this batter evenly over your beans, then pop it in the oven for 30-32 minutes, until the cornbread is nicely cracked and browned along the edges. Serve with sliced avocado, cilantro, and hot sauce! You could also make this in your cast iron skillet. Just make the bean mixture in it, spread them evenly, then add the cornbread batter on top of that. Bake as you would in the glass dish. One pot meal!
I kind of figured you couldn’t teach a class that included black beans without including black bean soup. I know it’s just sort of simple, but simple can be good! Also, I’ve never found a black bean soup recipe that I really love, so I was happy to create my own, finally. It’s smoky from the chipotle in adobo, and I really like the addition of diced tomatoes, which I don’t think is usual in black bean soup recipes. Finally, I like mine creamy, not liquid-y. Yip yip for customized soup! I’m not sure the ladies loved this one, but to be fair I didn’t cook it long enough because we’d already been there almost 3 hours and people were getting squirmy. If you let it cook down the full amount of time, the liquid reduces and it becomes the perfect amount of creamy when you purée it. So don’t skimp on that step!
Smoky Black Bean Soup, serves 4
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced small
1 large jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small chipotles in adobo, seeded and minced (only use one if you don’t like spicy things, but maybe add 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika to make up for missed smoky flavor)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
15 oz diced fire roasted tomatoes
3 cups cooked black beans
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp salt (to taste, depending on the saltiness of your broth…the broth powder I use is low sodium)
3 thinly sliced scallions
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
optional garnishes: diced avocado, minced fresh cilantro
Heat a large soup pot (mine is 5 quarts and it fit perfectly) over medium heat. Sauté the onion, jalapeño, and carrots about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add garlic and chipotles, stirring for another minute. Stir in cumin and oregano, then add the diced tomatoes to deglaze the pan. Stir in black beans and tomato paste, then add the broth, bay leaf, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add scallions, lime juice, and vinegar, stir to combine, and turn off heat. Using an immersion blender, purée about 3/4 of the soup, leaving some chunks of beans. I like mine pretty creamy. Use a regular blender if you must (just get an immersion blender, already!), but make sure you let the steam out so it doesn’t explode in your face. Serve and garnish with avocado and cilantro if desired. Ultimate in comfort.
It was pretty cool developing my own recipes. I mean, I know I’ve done it before, but I forget that I can kind of be good at it. Also, it was a huge help to have my cousin around to take notes as I cooked! She was a lifesaver this past week. Official notetaker, taste tester, advice giver, and dishwasher. It is invaluable to have someone who is useful and helpful in the kitchen when you’re working on a project like this, so thanks, Caitlin!
As if this post wasn’t long enough, here’s what I made for my local Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale.
Blueberry Lavender Muffins, adapted from Joy of Vegan Baking.
Terrible picture of Lemon Bars from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting from Gluten Free Vegan Comfort Food.
Deluxe Cocoa Brownies, also from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.
We made almost $700 for Little Victories! Huzzah!
In PPK Cookbook Challenge news, we’re cooking from Chloe Coscarelli’s books. Luckily, there are plenty of online recipes, so I’m able to participate, using Chloe’s Kitchen. It’s going to be a yummy couple of weeks!
The PPK cookbook challenge is using Vegan Diner over this week and next. I do not own Vegan Diner! Funds are a little tight (and I’m too lazy for the library right now), so I was going to rely only on internet resourced recipes. There aren’t a lot. And most of them aren’t savory. Since I’m using these challenges to power my dinner and lunch menus, that isn’t really helpful. I may make biscuits and gravy next week, but I have really been craving some vegetables. This past week, asparagus finally came into season and was on sale for $1.79/lb. Hooray! Asparagus is really only good when it’s in season (which is short) and it’s kind of ridiculously expensive when it’s not anyway, so I only get to eat it for a couple weeks a year. Therefore! I decided to give myself an asparagus challenge and only cook meals that included this delightful veggie. I am always drooling over asparagus recipes in, like, October, so I decided to dig up some of those and give them a go. Except for my first one, I cheated and made the Jerk Asparagus from Appetite for Reduction, which I’ve made before and knew I liked and also I really wanted to have the Mango BBQ Beans, which I also love, and go well together. I didn’t take a photo, because I’ve taken one before. You can read about it if you click through the linky dink there. But then I got with the program and made a couple of new recipes. Thusly:
A cookbook that I have really neglected since buying it last year is The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe. I remember a recipe in The 30 Minute Vegan (the original) for an asparagus purée that was surprisingly tasty, so when I stumbled across this recipe for Lemon Tempeh (except I used tofu because the store was out of tempeh) with Creamy Asparagus Sauce, I jumped right on board. Since it’s in the Italy section, I wasn’t surprised to see basil and lemon as some of the key flavor elements. And I love those things, so all the better.
Because I used tofu instead of tempeh, it took a little longer. I pressed the ‘fu and let it marinate for about 40 minutes (piercing the cutlets with a fork a few times since the marinade wasn’t that deep). Then I doubled the cooking time, flipping it halfway. Gosh this was good. The tofu is perfectly savory, and the asparagus sauce it bright and Spring-y and altogether nommable.
The recipe notes suggested I serve it with Orzo with Roasted Zucchini, and I heartily agree. There are still the same elements of basil and lemon, so they pair nicely, but it wasn’t too one-note, like I was worried about. The addition of shiitake mushrooms gave it a lovely earthiness and the zucchini was crisp and fresh. I used whole wheat orzo, because…it’s better. Altogether a raging success!
Leeks, asparagus, and coconut milk. You cannot lose. I made this Leek and Asparagus curry from another underused cookbook of mine, Local Bounty. I don’t know why I don’t use this one more often. It’s all about eating produce that is in season, which is why I knew it would have some bangin’ asparagus recipes (I believe there are 4 in the Spring section!). The recipes tend to be really simple and basic, in order to let the produce shine. I can get behind that. I really liked that this curry wasn’t all just like, ‘Curry Powder’, because ever since I learned a little bit more about cooking authentic curries, curry powder seems like such a cop-out and doesn’t taste like the real thing at all. You gotta have the individual spices! Anyway, that being said, this curry was incredibly mild, and I added more of the individual spices called for. I also added 15 oz of coconut milk instead of 6, because I like a saucy curry. The leeks and asparagus work really well together, and the chickpeas soak up all that delicious flavor.
Served over brown rice with a drizzle of Sriracha, it was a big hit. My cousin is staying with me and she had some of the leftovers, and she really enjoyed it as well. And she’s Scottish, so she knows her way around a curry or two.
So, after a week of asparagus pee (fun fact: everyone produces the chemical that makes you have stinky asparagus pee, but only 22% of people can actually smell it, and it’s genetic! Weird!), asparagus went back up to $3.99/lb and my rendezvous with it ended. This week I’ve been testing recipes for a class I’m teaching on Saturday about how to cook beans, so that’s what you’ll get to see next week! With recipes. Yeah. I’m making up my own recipes. Because I can do that sometimes. You know, there is a reason this blog is called Awesome. Vegan. Rad.
Ok, so the PPK Blog isn’t really a cookbook, but this was a part of the Isa/Terry free weeks. I’m forever pinning Isa’s blog recipes to my Pinterest and then never making them. Except this one time that I made the pumpkin chocolate chip loaf into muffins, which was wonderful. Anyway, I figured that since I spend a lot of time drooling over those blog recipes, I should make a few! The main reason that I don’t cook from blog/internet recipes often is because I don’t have a tablet. My iPod touch works, but the screen is small and cracked and I really don’t want to risk setting my laptop up in the kitchen because I’m messy. So I dealt with the iPod touch this past week. It was fine, but I will always prefer a book to a screen (thus, no Kindle for me). Worth it!
My friends came over for dinner last week, and they eat (and like!) tofu, so I used my tofu day on them. This is the Blackened Tofu Scramble with Garlicky Grits. I also sautéed up some collard greens that I doused in Frank’s hot sauce. They were the perfect compliment to this southern style meal! I usually crumble my tofu up for my scrambles a bit more, but I really liked having this in big, juicy chunks. I’m not saying I’m a cube person, but maybe I lie somewhere in between, ok?
I know that on the package for Bob’s Red Mill polenta it says ‘polenta corn grits’, but grits are white, ya’ll. They’re made from hominy. So this was really soft polenta. Technicality aside, these were great! The addition of the garlic at the very end made the flavor very prominent. Next time I would make this with hominy grits for a more authentic texture and look, but overall they were great!
I just feel like no southern meal is complete without greens. Collards are my favorite. I based this loosely off the basic recipe for garlicky greens in Wild About Greens, and then just smothered them in hot sauce, which covered the acidity aspect. Also, my friends totally loved all of this! I didn’t get a photo of it all together on my plate except for a crappy iPod pic because I was so ready to eat, and then there weren’t enough leftovers to take one the next day! I’m not complaining, though. I love it when people love the food I make, and this was easy enough that I could totally make it again in a flash.
I had heard good things about the Ancho Lentil Tacos, and was in the mood for Mexican food, so I gave them a go. I’d never had lentils in a burrito before (yeah, I went with burritos because I like them better than tacos), but it sort of made sense. The flavor was spot on, and like Isa says, the ancho chile powder (which I bought on accident last year and am happy to finally have a use for) gives it a subtly sweet flavor. I did find them a little dry, so maybe next time I would add extra water or a little tomato sauce or something. I made them with the Mexican Millet from Veganomicon, which is an old favorite of mine. I always tweak it to just make it in my rice cooker though, because I am lazy.
It went really well with the lentils, and then I topped it all off with the fixin’s: lettuce, black olives, avocado, salsa, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. I had loads of leftover lentils, millet, and tortillas, and managed to make seven freezer burritos out of the leftovers! I love me some frozen burritos, but never buy them because they’re expensive and probably not very good for you, so I’m always happy when I get to make my own. It’s amazing what a little extra prep time can do for your happy tummy in the future!
But so worth it. Pesto Risotto with Roasted Zucchini (and asparagus, red peppers, and onions, because…vegetables are awesome). What’s not to love? Basil-y delicious pesto? Check! Creamy rice? Check! Tons of stirring time…? Check. Well, I don’t love that part, but the result was fabulous, so I’m not complaining.
I roasted up the extra veggies because I just wanted to. Asparagus is in season, and I love it. Red peppers add color, and onions are a no-brainer when roasted. It all worked very well with the risotto. My one issue was that the pesto, on its own, was mighty salty. I had accidentally bought low sodium broth for the risotto, though, so it worked out in the end. If I were making the pesto to just put on pasta, I would reduce the salt by half and then add it to taste at the end.
Seriously, though! So creamy! And it made tons. I had plenty of leftovers, which I enjoyed to the maximum. The pesto is probably the best I’ve ever had (hence, Best-o Pesto). I didn’t think I would like the addition of the cilantro, but it just made it a lot brighter. The thyme added a depth of flavor that I never thought pesto even needed. Isa is such a genius.
There are so many more PPK Blog recipes that look great to me, but they’ll have to wait! This week the challengers are cooking from Vegan Diner, which I do not own. There are very few savory online recipes, and I’m not really in a big sweets mood this week. So instead, I’m doing an asparagus cookbook challenge! Asparagus is in season for such a short amount of time, and it’s really only good when it’s in season (and it’s cheap then, too), so I’m making the most out of it. I have three recipes using it lined up for this week, all from my under utilized cookbooks. Well, two of the three. Anyway, you’ll just have to wait to see!
I feel like that warrants an exclamation point, don’t you? Vegan with a Vengeance was my very first ever vegan cookbook. It scared the bejeezus out of me, at the time…8 years ago. I was new to vegan cooking and it had a lot of ingredients I had never heard of, and it was sadly underused for awhile. I used it for the seitan recipe (which I steam instead of simmer) and the reuben recipe and the tempeh sausage crumbles, and that was about it. It did make me fall in love with tempeh and made me realize that making seitan isn’t scary at all. Then I grew into my vegan-ity (new word?) and my tastebuds got more awesome, and I went back and realized that all the recipes that looked scary at first now looked tantalizing as hell! The last time I did a cookbook challenge, I really fell in love with this book. So when we got an Isa/Terry free week for this challenge, I jumped at the opportunity to crack it open once again! The whole point of the challenge (for me, anyway) is to make recipes you’ve never made before, so I started with a couple that I should have made long ago, but never did.
Fronch Toast! Guys, I haven’t had French toast in at least 5 years. At least. Why did I let it go so long? Why did I think that this recipe was so scary? I’ll tell you why: chickpea flour. Once upon a time, chickpea flour was, like, intimidating. Or I didn’t know where to find it. Or something. But now I keep a huge bag of it on hand at all times for falafel and socca and seitan and other delicious things. This came together so simply! I was afraid the chickpea flour would make it taste sort of bean-y, but it didn’t. It just made the batter nice and thick and sort of egg-y, without the grossness of eggs. It did smoke the hell out of my cast iron pan and kitchen, but it was totally worth it. I was eating alone that evening, so I just made one piece, and then put the rest of the batter in my fridge for quick breakfasts. I had French toast for breakfast 3 days in a row in under 10 minutes! Amazing!
I made the Tempeh and White Bean Sausage Patties to go with them. I already knew I liked the tempeh sausage crumbles, so I would probably like tempeh in this patty form as well. I was right!
These made me so happy. I froze most of them, so I can have them for breakfast whenever I feel like it. They’re also really great crumbled up in a salad, and they make a divine sandwich with big slice of tomato and schmear of vegan mayo. I thought they were a little mushy, and might add some vital wheat gluten next time, just to firm them up, but the flavor was spot on. They went really well with the Fronch Toast, too! Sweet and savory for the win!
I was a little wary of making this Chipotle, Corn, and Black Bean Stew because I thought it would taste just like…chili, but with potatoes. Which, I guess it sort of did, but it was good! I topped mine with avocado, scallions, and crushed up tortilla chips, just because it seemed like a good idea. I liked how much lime flavor was in this stew. I think it really made it different from my usual chili, which was nice.
I froze a couple of servings of this to eat in a few months. I’m interested to see how the potatoes freeze/unthaw because I don’t think I’ve ever had a frozen potato that wasn’t in french fry form. I think it’ll be ok though, and is probably a good candidate for freezing!
I forgot to take a photo of this Moroccan Vegetable Tagine before I portioned it out for lunches because I had a friend over and because, wine. We both really loved this! I was afraid that the cinnamon flavor would be overwhelming (you know me, cinnamon sensitive!), but I guess since it was in stick form and not powdered that it was much more subtle! I also didn’t think I would like the raisins, but I definitely did. It needed a little pop of sweetness here and there. I substituted yellow summer squash for the zucchini because my grocery store was out of zucchini the day I went shopping, but I don’t think it made any difference, besides being less green. Yeah, this was a total winner that I will definitely make again. Yes, it’s a lot of chopping of vegetables, but I like chopping. Just put on a good podcast and zone out, you know? Also, sriracha, because…sriracha.
And here is a bonus shot that my friend took while I was cooking for her! Note my ridiculous cookbook collection. Hooray for Vegan with a Vengeance week! This week I’m cooking from the PPK blog, and so far there have been a couple of major successes! I love it when I can go into a recipe knowing it will work because I know the author is thorough and cooks the way I like to cook. Thanks, Isa!
Hi again. Yeah, it’s been awhile. It seems like every time I have a major life change, this blog is the first thing I let fall to the wayside. When I’m focusing on healing and trying to be happy and making positive changes, I forget to photograph my food. Or if I do, I forget to upload them to my computer. But, so here’s a thing: I have a new computer of my very own! So I have no excuses! Still though, guys, and not to try to get any pity, but listen to all these things that have happened to me in the past 4 months:
Buying a new car (currently).
Looking for another job (currently).
I’m in a really great place, mentally. I’ve made so many positive changes, but they were big changes. So lets be happy and do some talking about food, ok? I miss doing that with you!
The PPK is doing another cookbook challenge, so I figured what better way to motivate myself than to blog my way through it? I’m really excited about this one because it’s using a lot of books that I either don’t own (will use internet resources for those recipes, since…money) or that I do own but haven’t used enough. The first week we got our feet wet by using a book of our own choosing, so I used World Vegan Feast by Bryanna Clark Grogan. I’ve owned it for at least a year and have only made a few things out of it. It’s kind of an intimidating book. The ingredients lists tend to be rather long and the methods sort of complicated. If you know me and the way I like to cook, that’s not really my style. Still, I gave it a whirl.
This is the Baked Potato Kibbeh with Lentil Stuffing. It had a lot of onions. Grated onion in the potato and bulgur mixture, minced sautéed onions in the lentil stuffing, and a ton of thinly sliced onions as the bottom layer of the casserole. I’m not saying it wasn’t good, but it was…onion-y. Paired with the recommended tahini dressing, which had 3 cloves of raw garlic in it, the allium flavor was a little overwhelming. I could also really taste the cinnamon, but that’s just because I’m cinnamon sensitive. I dunno. I liked it. I didn’t love it. It was better with Sriracha. Now for the bit where I criticize the instructions. I got spanked a little bit on the PPK because I judged them rather harshly, so I will try to be gentle. I hated the instructions. (This is me being gentle.) They were badly edited, and I’ve found that to be the case with a lot of the recipes in this book. If I was new to cooking, I would have messed this up for sure, because they were just worded in a really confusing way. Also, soaking the bulgur for 20 minutes didn’t soften it one bit, so I ended up cooking it on the stovetop. So, if you’re not super comfortable in the kitchen with a decent amount of knowledge about how to cook things, I honestly have to say I don’t recommend this book. If you are, and you don’t mind deciphering cryptic and complicated instructions, then go for it! But add more salt.
Next up is the Peruvian Inspired Sweet Potato Chowder! This was tasty! It has silken tofu blended with dry white wine to make it creamy, and I chose a nice white wine with a flavor that I like (when cooking with wine, always buy something you would drink!), and it was pretty pronounced in the soup. Which was fine with me, since I like the wine anyway.
So yeah, I liked this. It got a tofu hater to eat tofu, too. I mean, not chunks of it, but still. So that says something. Now for the annoying recipe notes. I simply don’t like it when recipes call for things that are already cooked. I know maybe some of you have cooked brown rice, cooked sweet potatoes, and cooked regular potatoes in your fridges at all times (do you really? I’m not sure I’m buying that.), but I don’t. I cook the ingredients for the meal that I’m making that night. So since all of those things were called for in this recipe, a recipe that, according to the instructions, would have taken me maybe 40 minutes to cook, took me almost 3 hours. Brown rice, sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes take a minute, you know? Although I did cook the sweet potatoes in the broth because I found no reason that wouldn’t work. Anyway, whatever. I’m not trying to run my point into the ground. The soup was good, though. It was even better with Sriracha.
Egyptian Style Beans! I love cooking beans from scratch. It makes me feel so accomplished. Like, aside from baking your own bread, it’s the ultimate in, ‘What? This can become that? Cool!’ You know? These beans actually took a half hour less to cook than she said, so that’s an error in my favor, haha. They were underseasoned, though. I doubled the spices and added a ton more salt, then just mixed in the garnishes of cilantro and green onions. That helped. They were good with Sriracha. I added that to all of these dishes, huh? Well, they all needed something. I ate these with brown rice and also steamed broccoli topped with the cheezy sauce from Veganomicon, not pictured obviously.
Beans. Not much more to say about them, I guess.
Gah, sorry I’m being such a Negative Nancy about this book. I guess I just picked some duds. I know there are great recipes in this book. I love the Levantine Eggplant Dip and the Smoky Baked Tofu. Those are both great! It’s just discouraging when three recipes in a row fall short of expectations.
Anyway, they all made a ton of food, so I froze about half of all the recipes (I’m going to do this throughout the challenge) so that when I’m super broke in the summer and the challenge is over and I’m a little burned out on cooking, I’ll have tons of food to power me through! Smart, yeah? Yeah. I am.
This week is an Isa/Terry free week (well, 2 weeks…the rest of the challenge is 2 week intervals, which I’m pumped about) and I cooked from Vegan with a Vengeance. And next week I’m going to cook from the PPK blog! Tres excite!
ETA: Edited because I couldn’t get the pictures of the beans to color correct the same way and it was driving me nuts because I am OCD.
I just can’t stop. For real, though, I can’t get over how this:
It’s a little dumbfounding. I’m no scientist, and baking is definitely more about science than anything else. I’ve always said that cooking is an art, baking is a science. I’m an artist to the core, but science fascinates me, regardless of my inability to fully understand it all. And really, I’ve loved baking since I was a little girl. My grandmother was a fabulous baker before she had her stroke, and she baked almost every day. Anytime I went to her house (which was several times a week), there was always a fresh batch of sugar cookies or a peanut butter cake or, on special occasions, chocolate pie. My mother is also a wonderful baker, whipping up loaves of bread on weekend afternoons or cinnamon rolls for the holidays. And oh! The holidays! The cookies my mother bakes! She really outdoes herself. It’s worth pointing out that my dad has gotten the baking bug in recent years as well, making sure that their dinner table is always stocked with loaves of artisan bread. So you see, I get it honest. And when I started working in a bakery, I was a little nervous that I would start hating it. And that sort of happened at first. Except recently, my love has been rekindled! I don’t know if it’s the cooler weather (having that oven on really helps heat the kitchen) or a renewal of the sweet tooth that I kind of lost when I went vegan, but whatever it is, bellies are happy around my house lately.
This beauty is a pumpkin bread whose recipe I just stumbled across in a random Pinterest search. It was so good that I made it two weeks in a row! Here’s the recipe, and here is how I changed it: I used half AP, half white whole wheat flour; substituted half the oil with unsweetened applesauce; reduced the sugar to 3/4 cup; made my own pumpkin purée. My favorite part about this bread is that it incorporated every single one of my warm, spicy spices in the cupboard. You know, the ones that make you think baked treat: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cardamom. So it was a little like pumpkin pie spice, but with an extra oomph. I still have over a cup of pumpkin purée left in my fridge…what should I bake next?
And then there’s this thing:
I had an opportunity to go to the posh grocery store that’s kind of a hike from my house (we call it Gucci Kroger). I used to make the 30 or so minute trek out there once a week, but then gas got really expensive, so it’s a ‘when I’m in the neighborhood anyway’ only type of excursion these days. Anyhow, they always have some random produce there that I’ve never seen before, and this time it was key limes. I scooped up the bag, not really knowing what one does with key limes except make key lime pie, and promptly forgot about it for a week. But then I had this great (ugh) idea to teach how to make pie in the class I’m teaching next week, so I figured I should probably try to remember how to make pie crust. I don’t even really like pie that much. I mean, I like it enough that I’m not going to refuse a slice if you offer me one, but having an entire pie in my fridge is not nearly as enticing to me as having a jar full of cookies. At any rate, I had to use up those key limes somehow, so I made key lime pie. I had never before eaten key lime pie, but other people seem to like it, so I figured what the heck. Here’s the thing: normally, key lime pie has a blue million eggs in it, to give it that custard-like texture. So how was I going to achieve this:
without the eggs? Thankfully, Isa exists. I should have figured that my Google searches would bring me to her. Her recipe calls for agar and tapioca starch to thicken the almond and coconut milk based custard filling. Brilliant, no? She does not call for actual key limes, but since I had them, I used them. Key limes have a quite interesting flavor. It reminded me of a cross between a lime and an orange. Also, key limes have seeds, whereas the regular limes I usually buy don’t. Also, key limes are tiny and zesting them is a pain, but oh well. I liked this pie, and have eaten exactly two slices of it. I think I would probably like it better if it were summer instead of verging on winter. Still, the filling was mighty tasty, and had the texture of what I remember the lemon part of lemon meringue pie having, maybe a little more firm. That’s good, right? Key lime pie lovers?
As for my crust, I used the recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking, and when I read the ingredients to my mom over the phone (who was also making pie that day, weird), she said that it was pretty much identical to my grandmother’s crust recipe. Which means it is tried and true! Anyhow, pie crust takes a lot of time what with all the chilling you have to do to make sure the fat stays solid (which brings about the flakiness), so I’m going to be bringing my crust pre-made to that class. Otherwise, we’d be there all night. It baked up beautifully though, and the boyfriend, who loves pie, said the crust was perfect. See, since I’m no pie expert (in fact, the crust was my least favorite part as a kid), I had no idea if it was any good. I just knew it was edible and didn’t suck. So it was nice to know that it did better than not suck, it was actually great! Hooray!
And, since I’m a madwoman, I did this with the extra crust bits:
I have all these tiny little tartlet pans that I’ve never used because I cannot usually be bothered to make crust, so I busted them out in order to create these teensy apple pie tartlets. Aren’t they just too adorable? I actually liked them better than the key lime pie. One reason is probably that it’s, like, apple pie season, and the other is that they were the perfect little two-bite treat. Here’s what I did.
Apple Pie Tartlets, makes about 6
Pie crust scraps (or, if you want to make more, use an entire recipe for crust and double/triple/whatever the rest of the ingredients)
1 apple, peeled and diced small
1/4 tsp sugar
pinch of flour
spinkle each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
little dots of vegan butter
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Press the dough into the tartlet pans (my pans are about 3 inches by 2 inches) and mix the rest of the ingredients together. When I say ‘sprinkle’, I really just mean a little sprinkle. Less than 1/4 tsp. Taste an apple cube and if it needs more of any spice, add it. Spoon the apple mixture into the prepared pans and top with 2 tiny dots each of vegan butter. Place the tartlet pans on a cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned. Let them cool for a few minutes, then carefully extract them from the pans (takes a little finesse). If you had extra crust (I didn’t, but I wish I had), you could cover these and make a two-crust apple pie tartlet, which would be even more adorable. Or, if you’re even crazier than me, you could veganize this recipe for apple pie cookies.
Just wait. I have even more baking madness coming your way soon. Sorry to everybody who comes here for the savory stuff. All the food I’ve been making has either been really ugly (think creamy soups) or repeats. I’ll try harder!