Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So Long 2008

As 2008 comes to a close, it is time to reflect on the things that made this year a happy time. The most incredible thing that happened was that Fred and I got engaged!

I also spent lots of quality time in the kitchen testing for others and creating my own recipes. Food brings so much joy and comfort to our lives. So memories are made by the delicous smells and flavors coming out of kitchens all over the world.

My cooking goals for 2009 are simple. First and foremost I feel the need to conquer bread making. This art has been lost on me...until now. I just got Peter Reinharts The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I plan on studying this from cover to cover to discover the secrets to the perfect loaf.

My second goal is to develop more of my own creations. I aspire to someday put out a cookbook, 'zine, or just a nice compilation of my originals for friends. I seriously can think of few things in my world that make me more satisfied than coming up with unique dishes that people go crazy for. It is fun, fullfilling, and really tasty. So with that in mind, I head into 2009 with my spatula and whisk held high. 2009 is sure to be a delicious vegan gastronomical year.

I leave you with a picture of one of Fred's fabulous 2008 creations - Green Chile Hash!
Happy New Year!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. There are so many things to be thankful for. My list is long. While I did have to work this holiday, I still took a lot of time in the kitchen this week. Sadly, I wasn't as good with the camera as I usually am.

I did however, get a fantastic picture of a pie I am particularly proud of. I found this recipe on Epicurious back in 2004 or so. It was love at first bite, really. It is called the Cranberry Apple Ribbon Pie. It was very easy to veganize. I used the Basic Pastry Crust for Veganomicon. This is a wonderful crust for fruit pies. The bottom of the pie has a layer (or ribbon) of home made cranberry sauce. It is then filled with tart/sweet apples tossed with lots of cinnamon. I used a combination of Fujis and Granny Smiths. The top was sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. I'm not usually a huge pie fan, but I have to confess, I ate two pieces of this one yesterday.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Vegan MOFO Wrap Up

As you probably know, today is the last day of Vegan MOFO. I'm having mixed emotions about wrapping things up. Vegan MOFO got me motivated to get back to what I love-creating new dishes. I really loved the iron chef challenges. It seems like everyone else did too. It has been suggested that iron chef continue and I really hope it does. I look forward to making some crazy ass food spontaneously.

This month got me thinking about what this blog should become. I'm hoping in the future it will develop into a fun and non-threatening place for aspiring vegetarians and vegans to come for information on different ingredients and how to use them. I am also hoping it will keep me creating. My hope is to start developing tasty, workable recipes that might someday form into a cookbook or 'zine. This is a pipe dream with my current crazy schedule, but you never know what the future will bring.

This brings me to the crazy schedule thing. I entered 28 posts this month. That was no easy task. Sometimes it made me feel stressed out. I actually got in a tiff with Fred about how much time I was spending on my blog. That said, I will still continue to blog, but not at near the pace I did this month. I'm sure I am not the only one on the forums that is very busy. This year I am working, going to school, planning an annual breast cancer hike, and planning my wedding. Daily blogging just won't fit into that craziness. But this month has made me realize how much I like sharing my ideas and thoughts about food. It has made me remember I have a blog and need to use it more. For that I thank you Vegan MOFO!
I must thank all of you who have commented and enjoyed the blog this month. You really made it worthwhile. Hopefully you tried and enjoyed some of the original recipes. Check in periodically, there will be more. Until we blog again....Bon Apetit

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 30 - Re-making a classic Coq au Vin

I was very inspired by Vegan Hezbollah (sp?). I didn't get in on the fun of converting some very meaty recipes then, so I thought I would take a shot at it now.

My grandma was an incredible cook. When I was very young I remember her making, what to me, were very fancy dinners. One such dinner was Coq au Vin. This is a pretty sophisticated dish for a little girl, but I instantly fell in love with it. Years later while in culinary school, I was re-introduced to this classic dish. love! I have this incredible yearning to re-create a vegan version of this dish.

I am working 12 hour shifts for the next few days, so for this experiment, I am enlisting the help of my man, Fred. Poor guy is going to be the guinea pig for yet another kitchen expriment. He is ususally an incredibly good sport about being the victim of my experiments. I'm hoping this one doesn't put him over the edge.

I'm posting the recipe preemptively as I may not get to post later today. I'm hoping it will be successful. I will post the results, pictures and any tweeking that may have happened in the process as soon as I can.

Koq au Vin

Serves 4

1 cup Butler soy curls
1 cup vegetable broth
¼ cup inexpensive red wine
5 tempeh bacon style strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 cocktail onions
1-8 oz package cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, reserve about 1 tsp for garnish
1 cup inexpensive red wine
2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup flour
2 bay leaves

Re-hydrate soy curls by heating vegetable broth and ¼ cup wine to just barely starting to boil and pouring over soy curls in medium sized bowl. Let soak for 10 minutes. Once re-hydrated, drain and squeeze out liquid. Make sure to save the soaking liquid. In an iron skillet sauté soy curls until browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

Slice tempeh strips into matchstick sized slices. In same iron skillet, add olive oil and sauté tempeh strips until they are golden and crispy. Be careful not to break up the pieces. When golden, remove from pan and set aside.

If there is no more oil in the pan, add a bit more oil. Add cocktail onions and sauté until dark golden brown. Once the onions are browned, add the mushrooms and sauté until they just start to release their liquid. If needed add more oil. Add thyme and fresh cracked pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Stir in flour until well incorporated. Add 1 cup of red wine to deglaze pan making sure all cooked bits are released from bottom of pan. Add reserved soaking liquid and 2 cups vegetable stock. Add bay leaves. Simmer until reduced by half and sauce is thickened. Add chopped parsley and soy curls. and tempeh. Simmer for 10 more minutes. If sauce is too thick, add small amount of vegetable stock until desired thickness is achieved. Carefully stir in tempeh. Simmer on low for 5 more minutes. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serve over roasted or mashed potatoes, or wide noodles.

I made a few tweaks as we were cooking. The recipe is updated to reflect the changes.

Holy moses this is delicious! I'm not kidding. This was rich flavorful bliss. Fred did an awesome job with the prep. He did most of the work. I did a few tweaks to get a good final product. I really loved this dish. My grandma would be proud.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 29 - Touting Tofu

When I first tried tofu, it was anything but love at first bite. The texture weirded me out. Looking back, I'm fairly certain the preparation had a lot to do with my bad experience. While I am still certainly no expert in tofu preparation, I have learned the nuances between silken, firm, extra firm, smoked, etc. No longer will I attempt to make grilled tofu with soft tofu. This would seem to be a logical assumption, but when you are first diving into cooking with tofu, the choices are overwhelming.
It didn't take me long (once deciding to eat more veg and vegan food) to figure out that tofu is indeed my friend. I worried about giving up some of my favorite fried foods like fried chicken and fish and chips. I was very surprised to learn that tofu could fill this bill easily. Below is a crunchy fried version that fills the bill!

Tofu is wonderful to use in breakfast dishes. Tofu scrambles are fast, easy, and healthy to whip up for breakfast. You can get all creative with your bad self by mixing in your favorite veggies and spices to make it your own. Another dish I mistakenly thought I would have to do without was eggs benedict. Well feast your eyes on this. I want for nothing!!

I never knew about pressing tofu. It really makes a difference in the texture. If you are needing a firmer less moist tofu for a particular dish, you must press it. I find the best method to be using two 8x8 glass baking dishes. Place the tofu in the bottom dish, put the other dish on top. Put a heavy can or a bag of beans in the top pan and let sit for about 30 minutes. You will see how much liquid comes out. Now you can use it as a base for many "steak" like dishes. One such dish is this lovely Tofu Marsala from YRR. This is one of the dishes I never thought would come close to the non-vegan version. This one is even better. So cheers to tofu. How I now love thee.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 28 - Baking Mysteries

Bread making has never been my strong suit. It continues to perplex me. The other day I planned on a fun day of baking, only to find out the yeast I had purchased was dead. Two different good. How frustrating is that?

This weekend I decided to give it another go. I had Fred get a different brand of yeast. As soon as I put the new yeast into my liquid/sugar mixture, it gave off that beautiful yeasty smell and foam. I knew I had a live one. First I attempted a round loaf. It turned out very nicely, but didn't get the lift I was hoping for. The flavor and texture were excellent. Light flaky, yummy.

I was feeling encouraged and decided to try another type. This time I modified the recipe on the King Aurthur flour bag. I probably shouldn't have modified, but sometimes I just can't help myself. I subbed 1/4 c pecans, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, and 1/4 cup ground flax for the 3/4 cup walnuts the recipe called for. Fred thought it was a bit bitter. I loved the flavor. The texture was pretty dense and heavy. It only raised up to 1/2 the height of a normal loaf. Although I wouldn't call this an unqualified success, I really like it! It is really filling.

I will not give up on my quest to make a more fluffy loaf. If you have any suggestions on a great vegan breadmaking book, please share! I love the smell of that bread cooking in the oven. I'm looking forward to getting some proper loafs soon.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 27 - Soup's on!

Quite some time ago, I was at a restaurant and had this incredible soup. It was a cream of mushroom with green chiles. It has haunted my dreams ever since. I could not stop thinking about the intermingling of the robust mushrooms and the spicy chiles. The original version was chock full of heavy cream and butter. I wanted my own veganized version to enjoy. I thawed out my hatch green chiles and got to creating. When the soup was finished, it just seemed like it was missing something. I threw in 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and it was magic. This is a perfect soup to enjoy now that the weather is cooling off.

Hatch Green Chile and Mushroom Bisque

6 servings

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced fine
1 stalk celery, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves gently packed
4 roasted and peeled hatch chilis with seeds
1 teaspoon mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon hot chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
5 Tablespoons flour
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 cups hot vegetable broth or stock
8 oz package of cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 cup soy creamer
juice of 1/2 small lemon
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire Sauce

Heat oil in large heavy bottomed pot. Saute onions, celery, and garlic until onions are transluscent. Add cilantro and chiles and saute for 2 more minutes. Add oregano through cumin and saute until liquid is almost gone. Stir in flour until incorporated. Deglaze with sherry. Add hot stock, sliced mushrooms, and bay leaves. Simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes. Stir in soy creamer, lemon, and Worcestershire and simmer for 10 more minutes on very low heat, do not boil. Serve with cilanto leaves as garnish (optional)

If you want to make this a more hearty soup for a meal, add one can of drained and rinsed black beans. This will up the protein content and fill you right up.

I heated this up for lunch today. It is even better after sitting overnight. I hope you love it as much as I do!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 26 - Iron Chef - Stuffed

Earlier this month I posted about stuffed stuff. Then this week the iron chef challenge ended up being stuffed stuff this week. No matter, I love stuffing stuff.

For quite some time I have been intrigued by kittee's stuffed tofu, so last night I thought I would give it a whirl. Here is my interpretation.

Stuffed Tofu Parmesiana Style

Makes 6 servings.

2 packages extra firm tofu, pressed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced small
1/3 tube gimme lean sausage style (or homemade)
8 oz package cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
3/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 cup soy milk

Basic Marinara

1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can roasted crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste

Saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients. Turn heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400.

Press tofu for at least 30 minutes. In the mean time make filling. In a heavy skillet on medium heat add olive oil. Saute garlic and onion until onion is just soft. Add sausage and cook until slightly browned. Add mushrooms, spinach, and spices. Cook over low heat until liquid is almost gone. Add toasted pine nuts. Saute for a few more minutes. Let cool.

Once the stuffing is cool, slice tofu. Slice each block into thirds width wise. Cut slits in the middle of the side of each piece being, making a pocket. Be careful not to cut all the way through. To coat the tofu, put each piece one at a time in soymilk. Then dredge in bread crumbs to coat. This may take two times to get it proper coating. Place coated tofu in oiled glass baking dish. Ladle marinara sauce over each tofu pocket. Sprinkle vegan mozzerella over the top. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until heated through. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve over noodles or risotto.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 25 - Featuring Barley!

Today's featured ingredient is barley. This is another one of those nutritionally packed grains that seems to get overlooked. It's nutty flavor and its chewy texture make it a great addition to lots of dishes.

Barley is very high in fiber and selenium. There have been some rather extensive studies on barley's ability to protect against atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, post menopausal breast cancer, and colon cancer. It can also aid in lowering cholesterol, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease. That pretty flipping amazing for such a tiny little grain. I'm feeling the love! To lean more about barley check out this site.

Now that we all know how very good it is for us, let's chat about how good it barley is as an ingredient in many dishes. One of my favorite uses for barley is in the making of beer. It's not the healthiest use of this grain, but it sure is one of the more fun uses! But seriously, I absolutely adore barley in soups. Below is a delicious Mushroom Barley Soup. It is so filling, warm, and delicious. I love barley soups on a cold winter day.

Barley like other grains is very versatile. It can be served hot as a side dish. I need to dig through my archives and find one of my favorite side dishes - Creamy Tomato Barley Risotto. I'm just teasing you with that as I can't show you a picture and I don't know where the recipe is hiding. I've also made a wonderful side dish with barley, walnuts, broccoli, and green onions. Talk about a nutritional jackpot!

Barley is wonderful in cold salads. It's crunchy-chewy texture lends itself so well to a light salad. They are great to take to potlucks, picnics, and packed lunches. The version pictured below is has avocados as a fine addition.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 23 - Quinoa

I like featuring a interesting ingredients for my MOFO entries.
Quinoa is fun and nutritious. I found this little nutritional blurb at this site. So next time you get those pesky "How will you get all of your nutrients?" song and dance, you have more great information to pass on.

The quinoa seed is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans. It is exceptionally high in lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids typically low in other grains. It is a good complement for legumes, which are often low in methionine and cystine. The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids. Some types of wheat come close to matching quinoa's protein content, but grains such as barley, corn, and rice generally have less than half the protein of quinoa. Quinoa is 12% to 18% protein and four ounces a day, about 1/2-cup, will provide a childs protein needs for one day. The 6-7% fat of quinoa is relatively high when compared to other grains, but it boasts a low sodium content and also provides valuable starch and fiber.

Quinoa also contains albumen, a protein that is found in egg whites, blood serum, and many plant and animal tissues. The seeds are gluten-free which makes this a nutritious and flavorful alternative grain for those with gluten sensitivity. Quinoa would be a worthy addition to anyone's diet, supplying variety as well as good nutrition. The seed is also excellent feed for birds and poultry and the plant itself is good forage for cattle.

Quinoa is so versatile. It can be used as a breakfast food with dried fruits and almond milk. Vegetarian times had an interesting breakfast recipe a few months ago. It can be used in hot and cold dishes. It is wonderful in side dishes, entrees, and sometimes even desert. It cooks quite a bit faster than rice, so it is a great ingredient to use for quick weeknight dinners. I can't believe I can't find a picture of one of one of the earliest Vegan with a Vengence recipes..Black Bean Quinoa Stuffed peppers. It has been a long time since I've made it. But it brings back fond memories of how it made me vall in love with VwaV.

This is one of my favorite quinoa dishes from VCON. The Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad.

Chocolate Almond Cherry Cous Cous Cake - this was a recipe I submitted for a contest held by Robin Robertson a few months ago.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 21 - Tempeh - More Protien Love

When people discover I am in the midst of a vegan conversion they inevitably ask "How can you get enought protein? You are not eating MEAT!" This was a legitamate concern for me as I was contemplating eating more compassionately. As many vegans already know, there are plenty of ways to get excellent quality protein so they don't wither away; seitan, tofu, beans, and one of my favorites - tempeh. So fear not, if you decide to go veg, which is an awesome and delicious thing to do, you will not wither away from a protien deficiency. Quite the contrary.

Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans. This description sometimes puts people off, but don't let it keep you from the joys of this delicious and nutritious food. Tempeh packs a whopping 17g of protein per and 11g of fiber per serving. That is not too shabby. What fleshy products can offer that much fiber in a serving. None that I am aware of! Tempeh is one of those products that people either seem to love or hate. I happen to be a Luvah. Try it and decide for yourself.

One word of warning for those who are trying it for the first time. I was not aware of the important process boiling or steaming plays in mellowing tempeh. I don't always do this because I like the slightly bitter robust flavor it has on its own. For those who have a palate that appreciates less bitter foods, make sure to boil or steam it before you use it.

The first time I tried tempeh it was love at first bite. I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was the West Sandwich from Mandala Tearoom in Scottsdale, AZ (now closed). It was basically a TLT (tempeh, lettuce, and tomato sandwich if you need it spelled out). Below is my version the TLTA made with Joanna's Maple Strips (from her next book that is still being created). This is one of my favorite sandwiches of all time vegan or other wise.

Tempeh is very versatile. It can be crumbled, diced, sliced, grilled, sauteed, steamed, breaded and fried. One of the more delicious and popular recipes out there comes from Katie at Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk. Her Tempeh Wingz are the talk of the vegan town. I can't believe I don't have a picture of these. I also can't believe it has been so long since I have had them. Note to self, make these bad boyz soon! They are seriously fantastic.

Veganomicon (VCON) by Isa Chandra Moscowicz and Terry Hope Romero offers some delicous easy marinated tempeh dishes. Below is the easy an tasty Smoky Tempeh from VCON.

Another VCON masterpiece are the Tempeh Baja Tacos. These takes a little bit more planning and prep, but they are phonomenal. I served them at an omni Cinco de Mayo party. It was the first time some of the peeps had tried tempeh. They were a huge hit. My picture doesn't do them justice. These alone are reason to own VCON.

Do yourself a big favor; if you haven't yet experienced the joy of tempeh, pick up a good vegan cookbook, do a quick search online or click the link for the tempeh wingz. Try yourself some bad-ass tempeh. It is cholesterol free, high in fiber, protien, and even iron. It is a wonderful, tasty, healthy, compassionate and eco-friendly alternative to eating meat. Go for it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 20

I have to take the day off to get some homework done. Be back tomorrow (hopefully!)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 19 - Spice Overkill? I think not.

How many times have you started a recipe and realized you were missing one of the spices you absolutely had to have? This used to happen to me all of the time. It still happens once in a while, but not very often. Let me show you why.

This post has two fold purpose. One is to pimp my bad ass spice collection. The other is to force myself to re-orgainze and clean said cabinet because lately it has gotten out of control, making it difficult to find anything.

I try to keep similar sized jars on the bottom in alphabetical order. Notice the word try. I'm not nearly as anal as I would like to be, but I try.

The middle shelf hails the larger containers of spices, spice mixes, overflow bulk spices, and other specialty spices. The top shelf is a catch all for whatever doesn't fit on the other two shelves. But is heavy on the sprinkles and sugars for decorating cakes and cookies. There are also a couple of small bags of bulk spices hiding in the bowl up top.

Tonight we did a loose count. Apparently I have over 100 different spices/mixes. My spice obsession is a fun one. When I travel, I try to find some local exotic spice that is not already in my collection. This seems to get more challenging as my cabinet gets ready to explode. Like my cookbook collection, it is a bit out of control. I have tried to make a pact with myself to abstain from purchasing more spices until I use some of these up. I'm no good at pacts with myself by the way. I just hope the new Penzey's catalog disappears before I get my hot little hands on it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 18 - Iron Chef - Sushi

I love sushi. I love the way it looks. I love the whole ritual involved with eating it. My creation for this week is a departure from the traditional sushi I adore. I didn't have time to go to the grocery store to prepare, so this was pantry digging creativity.

Azuki Sushi Cakes
Makes four 4 inch cakes

1 cup sushi rice
1 1/4 cups cold water
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 sheet nori crumbled


2/3 cup dried shitake mushrooms
1 c water
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 teaspoon 5 spice powder
3/4 cup azuki beans
2 green onions, green part only chopped
1/2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 Tablespoons veganaise
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
1 cup panko crumbs

In 2 quart saucepan mix rice and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low and cook for about 20 minutes until water is absorbed. When cooked add in rice vinegar and sugar. Let rice cool in large bowl.

While rice is cooling make filling. Bring water, tamari, and 5 spice powder to a boil. Pour over dried shitakes to rehydrate. In a medium sized bowl mix azuki beans, green onions, ginger, sesame oil, veganaise, and wasabi powder together. Salt to taste.

When rice is cool enough, mix in crumbled nori into rice. To make cakes have bowl of cold water handy for hands to prevent rice from sticking while forming. Take about 3 T rice and flaten into a circle. Put about 1 T filling in the center of the cake. Top with approx 2 T more rice. Form into round cake. Put panko in shallow wide bowl. Dredge cake gently into panko. Place in refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour. Preheat large iron skillet. Coat bottom of pan with canola oil adding 1 T toasted sesame oil. When oil is hot, gently place cakes into pan leaving plenty of space between cakes for flipping. When cake is golden flip to the other side* and saute until the other side is golden (approx 5 minutes per side). Drain on paper towels.

Make sauce.


1/3 cup veganaise
1 Tablespoon Chinese hot mustard
1 teaspoon mellow miso

Stir together sauce ingredients until smooth.

To serve cakes, place 2 cakes on each plate. Top with dollop of sauce. Garnish with chopped green onion (optional) and sesame seeds.
*Warning - the cakes are very delicate. Flip very gently or they may fall apart.

I had some leftover filling, so I thought I would make some rolls. We had these with hot mustard seasoned tamari.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 17 - The Cheezy Showdown

As we keep venturing down the vegan road, we have grown more curious about some products vegan products we keep seeing on the boards. I did a little review of soy curls yesterday. I find them amazing and revolutionary. I thought I should try another "substitute" for something eaten with abundance as an omni.

Tonight we had a little vegan cheeze taste test. I haven't really gotten into the vegan cheeze thing. I prefer non-processed stuff. I have been reading for months about the wonderous Teese. Well it just so happens there is one restaurant here in the Phoenix area that now sells it retail - Green Vegetarian in Scottsdale. So my sweetie made a road trip and picked some up for me.

First we grated them to see if there was a difference in the texture while grating. I didn't see any significant difference at that point in texture. Neither is great to eat cold, but Teese was much tastier in my opionon.

Next I rolled out pizza dough I made from Nonna's Italian Kitchen recipe. I made my own pizza sauce, sauteed some mushrooms and leftover gimme lean italian sausage (yes I know processed heaven tonight). I put a little cornmeal in the bottom of my iron skillet and threw the whole shootin' match into the oven. Unfortunately, I didn't read the instructions on the Teese. I put it in at a lower temp so it really took a long time to bake. No worries though. The Teese melted, but certainly not like dairy cheese. It was quite gooey underneath. Yum!

Next was the FYH quesadilla. We made this one with some fresh tortillas, sauteed onions, mushrooms and roasted hatch green chiles. There was a couple of those chiles that were hotter than hell, but so tasty.
I don't know if it was really a fair comparison. The dishes were so different. I have to say that I preferred the flavor and texture of the teese. The FYH was tasty, but was just more liquidy. I don't think I will be a huge faux cheese eater. But it is nice for something different.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 16 - Butler's Soy Curls

As an aspiring veg I am always trying to find products that will satisfy that primal "meaty" instinct in Fred and me. A few months back, I was recipe testing for the lovely Joanna. One of the recipes called for a stange new curls. Soy curls are a great source of protien. They are made with the whole bean, so they pack a pretty darn good nutritional punch. Each serving has 10 grams of protien.

Just last night I was discussing the glory of soy curls with two of my very good omni friends. They are totally supportive of my vegan tendencies and are very curious about new products and recipes I introduce them to. We are actually splitting my next order of soy curls, so they can experiment with them.

These little beauties are great for the novice cook who doesn't want to hassle with pressing tofu or boiling tempeh. Soy curls are anything but intimidating. They are super easy to use. All you have to do is re-hydrate them in hot water or veggie broth. Once they are rehydrated, you can use them in so many dishes. They are a great substitute in recipes that call for diced or shredded chicken.

One of my favorite test recipes from Isa's upcoming brunch book were made with soy curls. The Courico Tacos With Grilled Pineapple Salsa are addicting. The recipe was supposed to serve 4. Hah! Fred and I ate almost the whole recipe in one sitting.

Fred has been asking me for months to make up a binder of easy quick recipes for him to make when I am working bazillions of hours. I will definitely be including lots of soy curl recipes because they are so darn easy and quick to use. One of our favorite quick soy curl meals is an easy soy curl bbq sandwich with carmelized onions and hot chow chow mix if we have it on hand. It takes about 10 minutes to whip up and it is so delicious.
Take a look at my post from Day 13. The stuffed pita and the stuffed tomato both feature soy curls. If you haven't tried soy curls yet, get online and order yourself some. You will never see soy in the same way!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 15 - The history of aprons

I cheated today. My mom forwarded this in an e-mail today. I loved it so I wanted to share.

The History of 'APRONS'

I don't think our kids know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids. And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that old-time apron that served so many purposes.


Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw. They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.
I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron.

Here is a picture of me in the apron my mom made me. I love the strawberry fabric. She made me a pretzel one as well. I love my aprons and my mommy!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 14 - Flour Power

A few months ago as I was testing recipes for another upcoming epic cookbook I had to make yet another trip to the store for flour. No cook of good standing would ever be out of flour in their pantry. I like to fancy myself a pretty savvy cook, so reset assured this trip to the store was not for AP flour by any means. It was yet another special ingredient needed for a test recipe. The average household pantry probably has one, maybe two types of flour. Not ours. Right now we have at least five different types of flour. I'm sure there are more, but I am going by this picture.

Most of you I am certain have heard of white all purpose, whole wheat, and probably rye flours. In our pantry the past couple of years we have added the likes of besan (chick pea) flour, buckwheat, white whole wheat, quinoa, tapioca, and corn flour. I have also run across barley flour, italian style flour, oat flour, bean flours and vital wheat gluten. I'm sure there are even more out there. Why would the world need so many types of flour?

The answer is simple, regional ingredients for regional dishes. There are so many different regions of the world with different climates and different crops. It is what makes my little culinary brain go crazy. As I was googling the internet looking for different kinds of flours for this little blurb, I was pleasantly surprised there were many I had yet to try and trust me, I plan on trying more. However, if I bring one more odd ball ingredient home before using up some that are already haunting my pantry shelves, I might be sleeping outside with the crickets.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 13 - Stuffed Stuff

What could be better than food to a food lover you might ask? Food stuffed inside of other food of course. I'm always thinking of fun ways to stuff foods into other foods. Perhaps it is the subliminal need to be surrounded by something that makes you feel cozy and safe. Nah! It's probably just because stuffed foods are fun!

Lets start with the very basics; breads stuffed with stuff. Think of the many possibilities! Who doesn't love pitas stuffed with all sorts of goodies. Below is a picture of a pita stuffed with curried chick salad. Imagine if you will many other delights that can be stuffed into pita; falafel, veggies, hummus. Let us not forget the italian calzones. Calzones are a fun way to serve veggies and other goodies in a fun little packet. How can one forget empanadas. Oh the joys of spicy savory packets of spanish empanadas. Have you ever had an empanada made with masa flour. Oh man, sheer mouthgasm.

Pastries are also lovely stuffed with stuff. Just imagine puff pastry stuffed with a sweet carmelized fruits or a vegan marscapone drizzled with caramel or chocolate. Behold, phyllo pastry stuffed with chocolate. Simple but decadent.

Another great food to stuff are veggies. I love finding different incarnations of stuffed veggie things. Some of my favorites are stuffed portobello's, cheeze stuffed hot peppers of any variety, stuffed squash, stuffed artichokes, stuffed tomatoes, etc. There are infinite possibilities for combinations with other veggies, grains, meat analogs, nuts and fruits. I could go on all night, but again, I will let the pictures do the talking.

One great thing about certain stuffed foods is that they make great looking and impressive finger food. When I dream of developing fun, creative, finger foods, stuffed stuff always cross my mind. I'm not feeling particularly inspired to write tonight, but now I am inspired to stuff some stuff!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 12 - Nonna's Kitchen Goodness

Another obsession of mine is collecting cookbooks. I love them. They make me so happy. I have had Nonna's Italian Kitchen sitting on my bookshelf for so long. I think I may have made one recipe from this book before this week. Boy have I been missing out. This weekend I finally had time to hang out in my own kitchen, so I dug into Nonna's with great abandon.

Saturday night I hunkered down and got to work. We had a late night dinner of Peperonata which is a delightfully flavorful combination of peppers, onions, and tomatoes. It had a depth of flavor I wasn't expecting. I served it with Gnocchi topped with Genovese Pesto. It was a really great combo.

Tonight we had two versions of Impanata (Italian Bread Pie); broccoli sausage and spinach with pinenuts and black olives w/marinara. We served it with Bean Salad over delicious farmers' market heirloom tomatoes.

This book should not be left to collect dust on a shelf. It is full of wonderful recipes with simple ingredients that you probably have on hand. Not only was everything tasty, it was also full of nutrients.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 11 - Iron Chef - Pears and Nuts

I missed yesterday due to travel once again. I am hoping to make up for lost time this weekend. To this end I bring you my contribution to this week's iron chef challenge. This week's ingredients were pears and any type of nuts. Apparently as a hypothyroid sufferer, I am supposed to avoid pears. I don't eat them very often, so I figured why not throw caution to the wind. I found some lovely local organic red bartlett pears at Whole Paycheck. They were so sweet and juicy, it was hard not to eat the plain, but I had a mission.

My original idea was to do something in puff pastry, but I didn't want to wait for it to thaw. Then I thought about taking the super easy route and making a smoothie. Suddenly this adventurous spirit came over me and I decided to do something I had never done before; create my own cheezecake recipe. Honestly I was concerned about screwing up something with lots of expensive ingredients, but what the hell, isn't that what being iron is all about anyway?

I bring you my very first original cheezecake style recipe.

Pear Maple Cheezecake with Toasted Pecan Oat Crust

For Crust

1 C chopped pecan pieces, toasted
1 C quick cooking oats
1 Tablespoon granulated cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup Earth balance, melted

In food processor put pecans, oats, and sugar. Process until it resembles a meal. Drizzle melted Earth balance and vanilla over the mixture and blend with a fork.

For Filling

12 oz. package extra-firm silken tofu (preferably organic)
1 8 oz. containter non-hydrogenated toffutti cream cheese
2 Tablespoons light coconut milk
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons brandy
2/3 cup maple syrup
1 Tablespoon dark molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch allspice

Preheat oven to 350. In food processor, crumble tofu. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Make a slurry with coconut milk and cornstarch. Add the slurry and the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Make sure to scrape sides a couple of times. Let mixture sit for 10 minutes. In the meantime, lighty oil a 9" springform pan. Press crust mixture on bottom. Pour filling on top of crust. Slice unpeeled pears in uniform thin slices. Arrange in a circle, slightly overlapping, starting from the center and working your way out to the edge of the pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes reduce heat to 325 and bake for 30 more minutes until cake only wiggles slightly. Cool to room temperature on a rack then refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

I haven't cut into it yet, so I am not sure how the recipe turned out. I wanted to type it up before I forgot how I made it. I will post a follow up here tomorrow when we cut into it. The filling pre-baking was really good. I have high hopes for this one!

The results are in. This is a wonderful fall treat. The crust is my favorite part. It is wheat free too! The maple, pecan, pear combination is really good. The texture came out very creamy and rich. I may add a bit more cornstarch to give it a slightly more firm texture, but it really is quite tasty as is. If you try the recipe, let me know how yours came out.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 9 - Hot Stuff

I have a confession to make. I was hoping that my vegan MOFO entries would be a creative outpouring of new recipes to make all of you drool. I have been so darn busy with travelling, work, and school that I haven't been able to live up to my expectations. This makes me very sad. I hope to have some time off after tomorrow to start creating again. So today's entry pictures are going to be some re-runs.

I love hot and spicy food; not they type that hurts you for hours, but the type that makes your tastebuds stand at attention and know that you are really eating something worthwhile.

I bring you Hatch green chilis. There are no better chilis in my opinion. Here is a 25 pound batch of the roasted beauties. I haven't had much time to make many goodies with these yet, but be prepared in the coming week or two for some new recipes with these awesome babies. They are only available one time a year. They come from New Mexico. The flavor and texture is beyond compare.

Fred just showed up and we are heading out on the road. I will expand on this post when I get back in town. Because this post was so lame, I am working on a new recipe to add to this post in the next day or two. My hatches are thawed and ready to go. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 8 - Is it wrong to love Seitan

When I first thought of becoming vegetarian, like many others, I worried about how I would get enough protien. I was not a fan of tofu and the though of eating only beans was not all that appealing to me or anyone who had to sit near me, if you know what I mean. As I began to lurk around the PPK I made a rather startling was OK to love Satan oh I mean seitan. I had never heard of these lovely globs of protein goodness. After my discovery, my next trip to Whole Paycheck I picked up a package of chicken style. Anxiously I tore open the package and popped a piece into my watering mouth. Pffftttt. It was salty and a tad bit on the nasty side. Not one to easily give up on new food products, I made something with this package, it slips my mind what I made, but it was far from memorable or spectacular.

I kept reading about the wonders of seitan and remained curious. While testing for Vcon, I decided to brave making my own. The first batch I made turned out devinely. I made the Seitan Picatta and it was fantastic. Puffed up with my newfound skillz, I made a second batch only to get the infamous "brains". I was a bit discouraged, but then Lachesis renewed my faith with the Seitan O'Greatness. I set about to make seitan gyros with yummy results. I also made black bean and seitan taquitos. Oh the joys.

Not all of my experiences were good ones. I will never forget my flavorless rubbery nasty attempt at seitan pot roast in the slow cooker. Oh my that was so horrible. I did cut it into small chunks and used it for treats for Georgee. He seemed to like it. Below is a picture of my seitan of nastiness.

As time went by I was curious about other forms of this wonder protien. I was introduced to Julie Hasson's famous steamed seitan sausages. I have tried many versions of this method with great success; chorizo, cherry sage, white bean, etc.

Yet another new incarnation I have recently been introduced to is a loaf version of the steamed sausages. I can't wait to try more versions. Thank you to all of you seitan pioneers who have made my mouth so happy.

All hail seitan!