I think I’ll start with my thoughts on being broke. It sucks. Mostly the whole worrying about whether the bills will get paid is the worst bit, but also…I like food. And I like to experiment with my food. I like to buy fresh vegetables and peruse the grocery shelves for interesting food items that I’ve never tried before. I like splurging now and then on some fancy new vegan item. Because of this rather compulsive random food buying, I happen to have an extremely well stocked pantry. I forget things are even there, which means sometimes I buy them more than once and thus have twice as much as I need. So when things get thin in the financial district of Ciudad de Jessica, it’s not that big of a deal.
Unless that also happens to be the time when Vegan Mofo is going to happen, and then it’s just downright painful.
I know! I know I said I was going to do Mofo, and I was even going to use my spice hoarding as a theme. But my budget is kind of not allowing me to buy any groceries (save for kitty food and toilet paper) until…October. Like, seriously. Don’t worry or anything. Like I said, my pantry is well stocked. And remember how I was freezing stuff all throughout the spring? I’m not going to starve. By any means. And my parents are coming this weekend (for my birthday!) and bringing me tons of veggies from their garden, which I am going to freeze so I can at least have some green things here and there. But it does mean that I’m not able to commit to blogging every day with new and exciting dishes. Or even new and boring dishes, because most of it will be stuff from my freezer that you’ve already seen before.
Not to fret! I will still be blogging. You’re totally going to groan after reading about my 4th batch of socca and how it’s basically the only way I’m getting protein aside from those 4 packages of frozen bologna-style deli slices I stockpiled a month ago. (Which will surely taste great wrapped up in the socca!) But I’m not going to be on the Vegan Mofo blogroll. Still, check and see what I have been coming up with. I mean, I just saw that I have grits, matzo meal, two cans of jackfruit, packaged chestnuts (which I will actually probably save for that one Fall-ish casserole from Veganomicon that calls for them, since I’ve never actually seen them in, like, November, when you would think that packaged chestnuts would be out and about), several types of dried beans, and even a really old container of peppermint chocolate soymilk for if I get a sweets craving. Sadly, I am almost out of flour…but I have a ton of gluten free flours, so maybe something will come about from that. Who knows. I tend to get creative when I’m desperate (desperate being used rather loosely here), and creativity breeds some of the most delicious meals.
So…bear with me? Check back, even though I’m not on the blog roll? Pretty please?
All groveling aside, I do have some food photos to show. The lovely Dreena Burton almost never fails me when it comes to the tastiest of vegan recipes, and Let Them Eat Vegan is her latest (and greatest?) effort yet.
This is Tofu Baked in an Olive, Grape, and Herbed Marinade, served over Creamy Polenta. Sounds fancy, huh? It actually came together really quickly. You just sort of combine everything in a casserole dish and bake it. Voila! Fancy-sounding tastiness with minimal effort!
There were sun-dried tomatoes in there as well. The sweetness from those and the grapes greatly mellowed the briny saltiness of the olives. I do remember it seeming a little oily…but paired with the polenta to sort of soak all that up, it was divine. Naturally, a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley as a garnish makes everything bright and pop-py. The recipe also says to garnish with pine nuts, but I left them out because…meh. Also, as if fancy olives and sun-dried tomatoes weren’t pricey enough, eh? Anyhow, definitely a winner, and one I will make again once it gets chilly and I need a nice comforting casserole-type dish to warm me up.
I had previously shied away from the Peanut Thai Vegetable Stew because the ingredients list is really very long. It takes up a whole page, honestly. But one day it sounded good to me, so I examined said long list and realized that it was really just a bunch of spices and pantry supplies that I already have and some awesome vegetables. Won me over. It’s pretty much exactly what you would think it is: peanut-y, ginger-y, coconut-y, lemongrass-y, spicy…with lots of hearty veggies and some tofu cubes for good measure. Those cubes don’t absorb a lot of flavor, as they’re added towards the end, so use a tofu that you think has a nice, neutral flavor to begin with. You could probably leave it out, too, or substitute some chickpeas. I liked it as is, though. Nothing like a nice hearty stew to settle down with at the end of the day. Naturally, leftovers were doubly tasty.
Ha, and here is one that I avoided because it seemed too darned simple: Tempeh Tickle. Also the name weirded me out. But that’s my own thing. (Served with the Creamy Polenta again, plus Thai Green Beans [with some added zucchini] from Appetite for Reduction, which was a weird combination…but it worked somehow.) Dreena knows how to do right by tempeh. So many recipes don’t tell you that you have to steam or simmer it to release the evil bitter flavor inherent to the stuff, and then marinate the living daylights out of it to make it taste good. That sort of makes it sound like, ‘Why bother if it’s nasty?’, but the answer is, ‘Because it’s worth it, so shut your pie hole!’ Anyway, once you get the tempeh properly simmered and marinated in a lovely concoction of things that I never thought would go nicely together, you can basically cook it however you like. She suggest grilling it, but I prefer to bake it. So bake it I did! All methods for cooking are clearly instructed in the directions. I like that sort of thoroughness in a recipe. This tempeh would go great as a sandwich filling, but I enjoyed it just smooshed into the polenta (not pictured).
Ok, that’s it. That’s the last of my pre-summer, money-having meals. For the next month you get to watch me create my own stuff, which is generally what people seem to sort of want out of food blogs in the first place. Hope you’re happy, you’re finally getting what you want. (I say, as if I’ve never been so gracious as to give you an original recipe before.)
I lost my mojo there for a minute, and never blogged about my terrific week of sandwiches from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day, which is a great disservice to you, readers. Also, I figure I need to get back in the habit, because Vegan Mofo starts in September this year…and I’m gonna participate. Word! I’m even going to do a theme: neglected spices and herbs in my spice cabinet. Yeah, pretty basic, but September is going to be a wild, busy month for me, and I need to do something manageable if I’m going to do it at all. But you’ll get to read about my random spice finds and recipes that feature them! Mostly it’s Indian types of spices, but there’s a few other randoms in there as well. I only found 20 that I never use (only 20), so I might intersperse a few dishes using my favorite and most used spices and herbs as well. We’re talking dried stuff here, stuff that keeps in your cabinet for a while. So as much as I’d loooove to write about how basil is the best herb, it’s really only fantastic when it’s fresh, so I’ll be branching out a little.
Enough jibber jabber, you came here for sandwiches, yeah?
First up, French Tofu Salad with Grapes! While this recipe is pretty basic, flavor-wise, it was darned good and really filling. I used superfirm pre-cubed tofu, which cut down on some prep time since it didn’t need to be pressed (or cut!). I did find that it did not absorb much of the flavor from the salad, though, so I probably wouldn’t serve this to a tofu noob. But for us tofu lovers, bring it on! I forgot to toast my almonds and used red grapes because the store was out of green, but those are the only changes I made to the recipe. Do beware – it is hella messy to eat if you just pile it onto a baguette like this. I suggest leaving a hinge for the salad to press against so it doesn’t go all over your hands. (Which is embarrassing only if you eat lunch at your desk, really.)
Aha! This is something that I changed a lot! I didn’t have any wheat gluten for making the No-Cluck Cutlets required for the Something Blackened This Way Comes sammie, so I used tofu instead. My notes (yay for making recipe notes!) say that I used 8 slices of pressed, extra firm tofu, marinated in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, then proceeded with the recipe as is. I’m pretty sure I got that idea from the blackened tofu recipe in Eat, Drink & Be Vegan (my up-to-now favorite recipe for that sort of thing).
I loved this. Blackened things are just too wonderful for words anyway, but the tomato relish was so crisp and tart and refreshing atop the smoky tofu slab, and the addition of the spicy, mustardy spread pulled it all together. You can see that I wussed out on nice bread for this (and the next) sandwich, but I remember just not having it together enough that week to make what I wanted, which was the Green Monster Bread. I’ve made that before and it was heavenly, so I highly suggest you do the same! Still and all, this whole wheat bun worked just fine.
And then there was this guy. I sort of decided to make The Mac-Shroom as a joke. It’s pretty much what I consider to be the silliest, most unlikely sandwich combination ever. But I love sandwiches, and I love silly things. To be sure, I giggled the whole time I was making this (which was pretty easy, by the way) and every time I ate one, I laughed a little. It just seems too odd! But odd though it may be, it’s also fantastic.
The BBQ portobellos were sweet and tangy. I had never made a BBQ sauce that included coffee or apple butter, but they are admirable additions. It ended up tender and chewy, just like BBQ anything should be. The mac n cheese was a snap to pull together, and was unlike any mac n cheese recipe I’ve made before. I’ll definitely make it as just mac n cheese in the future for a quick and easy side or meal. I think the idea of putting pasta on a sandwich was the part that I was most iffy about, since…carb overload? But the al dente pasta added just enough of a bite. The mayo, which seems like it would get lost on there, contributed a coolness that benefitted the entire conglomeration. I will say that I added fresh arugula to my leftover sandwiches (these are just as good, if not better, cold), and that added a brightness that I really enjoyed.
Man, I had no idea that I had so much to say about this sandwich.
Next up is one I made from this book months ago, but never blogged about. A travesty, because it’s the best thing I’ve made out of here so far!
KFC-Style Sandwich. I will admit something here…before I was vegetarian, I really liked me a good fried chicken sandwich. I ate a lot of them. That totally bums me out to think about now! But at least I have a more than adequate replacement. The No-Cluck Cutlets are great (though I did add some soy sauce to the mix), and once they’re fried up in a crunchy coating, they are a dead ringer for those fried chicken sandwiches of my younger years. I don’t fry things very often (my tummy gets bummed out), but every once in a while this is just the sort of thing that the comfort food doctor ordered.
That’s it for now. I have a couple more things from pre-summer that I can blog about, but I really haven’t been cooking much the past couple of months! A combination of a very tight budget, laziness, food that I froze in the Spring, and just generally not feeling it are the culprits, but I’m starting to get excited about food again. Especially with Vegan Mofo just a couple of weeks away!
I was really pumped for the cookbook challenge to finally arrive at the Vegan Eats World weeks, partly because I actually own it, but also because I haven’t used it nearly enough! Bonus: I’m on a majorly tight budget right now, so all of these recipes are pretty cheap, too, especially if you have a well stocked pantry. So lets get started!
I know that when people mention that they’re on a budget, the very first thing others seem to suggest is beans and rice (for vegans anyway, dunno if they do this to other people), so here is my stereotypical broke ass vegan meal, White Rice and Black Beans. Yep, I’m even too broke for brown rice. And normally I prefer brown rice, but a little slump back into white isn’t so bad once in awhile. This came together in a flash, even faster than the book says. I’ve noticed that Terry’s cooking times for white rice are really off, at least for the rice I buy. I’ve never cooked white rice longer than 15 minutes, and her directions say something like 22-25, which would turn it into mush. So, take note if you’re making any of the recipes that call for white rice! That aside, this was good and not at all boring, like it sounds!
I ate mine with sliced avocado and a squeeze of lime juice, with a big salad on the side to bulk it up. I did increase the spices just a touch, and also added more salt, because…salt. Nice and light for a hot day, and highly portable if you wanted to take it for lunches!
I had a big bag of lemons in my fridge, so I made a very lemony dinner next: Yassa Lemon Mustard Seitan (instead of tofu, since I had a bag of vital wheat gluten already) and Lemony Dill Rice. I also couldn’t resist the beautiful chard at the store, so I made a recipe with it from Wild About Greens. I know that the rice is a Greek recipe and the seitan is African, but I figured that the dill from the rice and the mustard from the seitan would go nicely together, and I was right!
I made the Seitan Coriander Cutlets to go in this, and they were easy peasy and tasted nice on their own, if maybe a bit bland. But that’s actually kind of perfect for adding them to a dish with really bold flavors, and this bad boy was mega bold. Very tart from the lemon with a lovely hit of mustard, plus the carrots and onions soaked up all of the lovely sauce. I will definitely make this again. And the bonus of using seitan instead of tofu is that it cooks in less time and you can just stir it all together instead of being worried about flipping the tofu and it breaking in half or something.
I have dill growing on my balcony, so I didn’t have to buy one of those expensive herb packs at the store. I love anything lemon and dill, and this rice did not disappoint. Another favorite that will go into rotation when I need a rice dish to accompany an entrée. And again, they went really well together. I even mixed my rice up with some of the mustard sauce, but then again I think that mustard and dill were made for each other. (Still reduced the cooking time for the white rice.)
Next I made a couple of recipes from the salad chapter. This Artichoke and Tomato Panzanella was simply stunning. I’ve never made panzanella because I figured it would just be soggy bread, but whoa was I wrong. I had a loaf of ciabatta in my freezer, so I didn’t mind splurging on a can of artichokes. I also used all fresh herbs, even when she calls for dried, because I had them growing, so I figured why not? I was even able to eat this for a few lunches, since it stored very well in the fridge. I did let my bread get hella stale, though, so that may have made a difference.
The bread cubes alone are perfection. I would use them as croutons in any salad. Lemony and garlicky, they were the perfect compliment to the artichokes, tomatoes, and capers. The perfect sandwich, but in a bowl. Warning, this dish is crazy garlicky, so if you’re sensitive to raw garlic, I would reduce it by a clove or two. I’d also reduce the salt by half a teaspoon, especially if serving it to salt fearing folks. I would definitely make this for a party though, and actually plan on bringing it to a BBQ later this month! It’s the perfect summer dish, so definitely make this while tomatoes are in season, as their ripeness is key.
Mango Millet Peanut Salad was a hit last night with some ladies who came over for wine and a clothes swap. I did use cashews instead of peanuts because I’ve decided I hate peanuts (but not peanut butter, so…I dunno), and cashews are just generally far superior (and I had some already). I forgot to buy a tomato for this one, but quartered grape tomatoes were a perfect substitute. I also added an avocado, because I bought one thinking the recipe called for it, which it doesn’t, but it was a lovely addition – very creamy. This would be another great addition to any cookout!
I recently had a falling out with every Thai restaurant ever since it turns out there is fish sauce in everything even when you ask and they tell you no (long story, still pissed about it, don’t ask), so I was excited to try out the It’s Easy Being Green Curry. You make your own curry paste for this, which is always exciting. I had prepared lemon grass, so again I didn’t have to buy an expensive herb pack. I don’t have access to galangal, so I left that out, and I used the rest of the coriander seitan cutlets I had made instead of tofu. I really liked the flavor of this curry (boy was it spicy! I’ll seed some of my chilis next time!), but I did find it to be a bit thin. I would maybe leave out the broth next time and just do straight coconut milk. My favorite bit was way the zucchini soaked up the flavor. I wouldn’t make it with the seitan again, but I think that’s just because I prefer my Thai curries with tofu. As you see, I splurged a bit and used up some of my precious supply of brown rice.
And finally, this is a recipe I made ages ago but never blogged about, so I’m going to include it since it’s from the same book.
Sauerkraut Mushroom Soup! This was amazing. I was actually a little worried I wouldn’t like it, but it really blew me away. I happened to have all of the ingredients for it except mushrooms when I made it (which are pretty cheap), so again it was very inexpensive to make. I also had all the ingredients for the coriander rye muffins, which I blogged about last time, and were a lovely thing to dip in this sour, savory soup.
She suggests serving it with a dollop of a dill cream, and while I thought I had some yogurt in the fridge for that recipe, it had gone off, so I made a dilly cashew cream and I absolutely loved it. I just used dried dill, cashews, lemon juice, and water and blended it up until it was thick and creamy.
Hoorah for cheap and delicious vegan eats! This week and next we’re cooking from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day, so I’m obviously having a hell of a week (in a good way). Bread and tasty fillings, how can you go wrong?
I know I said I would talk about the new Appetite for Reduction recipes that I made last week, but I really just want to talk about muffins instead. My ‘to blog’ folder has way too many pictures of muffins, and I need to get them out of there. See, I went through a bit of a manic muffin making phase around January and February. Baked things make you feel accomplished and happy, and muffins are the easiest thing to bake in the world. They just seem so impressive for how little work they are! They puff up out of their fancy wrappers, light and fluffy, bursting with flavor. And all you had to do was stir some stuff together and pour them in their cups. So in order to make myself feel productive and happy and so I had stuff for breakfast, I made these muffins.
First off, I got this book, 150 Best Vegan Muffins Recipes (What a mouthful! Henceforth known as the muffin book.) and it is awesome. I have had no fails from it. Not one! It is basically the best cookbook ever written. So many types of muffins…there are simple ones, complicated ones, breakfast-y ones, dessert ones, and savory ones! I do love me a savory muffin. More on that in a bit. These are gingerbread muffins. They used up almost all of my molasses, but it was completely worth it.
Who can resist gingerbread in muffin form? Individual gingerbread cakes! I do find with this book that I need to cut back a bit on the sugar, but that’s probably just me. Also, a lot of recipes call for soy yogurt, which is not easy for me to get. So when I do buy it (in a huge tub, since that’s the only way I can get it here), I just make as many recipes that call for soy yogurt as I can. One of the totally awesome things about the muffin book is that you probably have whatever ingredients you need for at least one of the recipes. These in particular were made when I just felt like making and eating muffins, but didn’t want to go to the store. I had everything I needed right in my cupboards!
Savory muffins are just totally rad for when you’re halfway through making dinner and realize that you want bread. Except yeasted bread takes too long to just whip up out of nowhere. Savory muffins to the rescue! I’m sure you’ve done this without even realizing it, with cornbread (muffin-izable!) or biscuits (free form muffins!). The savory section in this book is large enough that you could easily find a flavor combo that goes great with whatever you’re cooking.
Muffins exist outside of that book, of course. And this is a good example that you can make just about any sort of bread into one! This is Isa’s Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf from the PPK blog, made into muffins. This was another one that I just happened to have all of the ingredients for, since I hoard canned pumpkin for some reason. I almost never use it…and yet…I still have three cans in my cupboard from this past fall. Anyway, it obviously came in handy, so hoarding: justified.
The only thing I can really say about this quickbread is that it is freaking fabulous. I was worried that I wouldn’t like the spices in conjunction with the chocolate, but I did! They’re nicely warming without overpowering the chocolate and pumpkin flavors. And of course the chocolate chips add a lovely burst of sweet chocolately goodness in every bite.
These coriander rye muffins (another savory treat!) are from Vegan Eats World. They are actually just a hair sweet from the molasses, but the flavor is complex and intriguing. I made them to go with the sauerkraut soup, and they paired up as wonderfully as Terry said they would!
I feasted like a damn queen that week. I’m pining for it now… I did find that the coriander seeds on the tops of the muffins just fell off, which is a waste of coriander seeds, so next time I would leave them off. Other than that, no complaints!
And I know I showed these to you a few weeks ago, but these lemon blueberry lavender muffins are just my all time favorite. I adapted the blueberry muffin recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking some time ago in order to craft these beauties, and they never disappoint. I even learned how to use frozen blueberries without turning the batter purple! Finally.
But so I also made, but did not photograph, basic muffins with added mango and coconut, apple muffins, and chocolate muffins that I stuffed with Dandies vegan marshmallows. All from the muffin book, but I modified the chocolate ones to add the Dandies. If you’re a bit of a lazy baker, like me, you will love this book. That is my honest to goodness opinion…it’s just such a cool cookbook.
Next week I’ll be back on track with the cookbook challenge (we’re doing Vegan Eats World), providing I can find a few recipes that I can make for über cheap. Meanwhile, I seriously think I’m going to go bake some muffins now. Muffin muffin muffin. It’s not even a real word anymore.
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!