Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pizza Night

I had a hankering for pizza. It would not go away, so not being one to deny myself, we had a pizza night last night. Now when I go out for pizza, I am often shocked at how much places charge for extra ingredients. This is the beauty of DIY pizza at home. You can add to your heart's content. For this pizza night we opted to make two smaller pizza's instead of one biggie. This way we could make two very different varieties.

Before I left for work, I mixed up the dough from Joanna Vaught's Potluck Mania Issue #1. We gave it two risings; one slow in the fridge and one faster in the slightly warm oven. I was hungry and not so patient. When I got home from work, Fred already had the dough rising in the oven. I'm pretty sure I didn't let it get a good second rising.

Next I selected my ingredients and got them all prepped. For the first pizza I decided to do a vegan version of on of my all time fav pregan versions: Mushroom, Sausage, and Onion. I sauteed the mushrooms in a touch of olive oil with just a little salt. Be careful not to overcook them, just saute until they are barely starting to get soft. The onions were carmelized by sauteeing slowly in olive oil with just a touch of sugar and salt until they were golden brown. I used browned Gimme Lean sausage because I had some left in the fridge. I toyed with the idea of using Julie Hasson's Italian sausages from the freezer, but was too hungry to wait to thaw them out. I used Joanna's no cook pizza sauce from the same 'zine as the dough. We love garlic, so of course we had to add extra minced garlic. So it went like this: dough rolled out as round as Fred could manage (this is no easy task we found), sauce, veggies and sausage evenly distributed. Top with Daiya cheese and sprinkle with oregano. Bake for 20 minutes at 450.

Our next little lovely was a Pesto Pizza. We started with Julie Hasson's Basil and Spinach Spread (pesto) which will be in her upcoming Vegan Diner cookbook. On top of that we layered lightly sauteed zucchini, beautiful campari tomatoes, roasted red peppers, Daiya Italian blend cheeze, then we sprinkled the top with kalmata olives. This was also baked for 20 minutes in a 450 degree oven. I honestly thought I would like the first pizza the best, but this one stole my heart. It was really tasty! One ingredient I meant to use on this one was arugula from our garden. Oops. Well, I have some leftover dough in the freezer. I see arugula/ricotta calzones in our future!!!

Fred was very happy to report that Heineken is indeed vegan!

As soon as I get the dough perfected, I think we should have a make your own pizza party!!! We'll let you know!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's Orange Season!!! Orange Julie-ous

I love this time of year. Our tree is full of ripe, big, sweet, juicy oranges right now. It's so awesome to be able to go out in your yard and pluck a perfect orange right of the tree. I love them many ways. Probably my favorite is just cutting them into sixths and gorging on them with the juice running down my hands and arms. Yum.

When I feel like being a little more polite and want to impress Fred, the ultimate smoothie maker, I whip up this delicious, bright tasting concoction. My mom actually turned me on to my first Orange Julius in my late teens. It wasn't vegan, but it was good. So here is my updated vegan version. It is quick and easy and oh so tasty! It only takes a few minutes to whip it up in the blender. Enjoy.

Orange Julie-ous

2 Servings

3 large naval oranges cut into 6 pieces and peeled
1 small banana
1/2 cup almond milk (you can use sweetened or unsweetened depending on your taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups ice cubes

Throw all of the ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with orange slice (optional)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Giving Some Love to My Fellow Bloggers

There are so many really outstanding vegan blogs out there. It is hard to get to all of the ones I want to visit. I am making it a point to try and check out more blogs. Allychristine at the PPK has lit the fire under me and reminded me to keep checking out all of the sites. I know how much work they put into their blogs, so I want to make sure to check in periodically. Check out some of the food from their sites and check out their blogs too!

I've got some days off coming up. I'm hoping to get back to making some originals soon. Until then I leave you in the good hands of some excellent vegan culinarians.

Here are a few goodies from Vegan Explosion.

Frijoles Negros and Fideo

Biscuits and Gravy

Vegan Dad's Oyster Mushroom Scampi

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I am Ironman!

Today we have two posts for the price of one. I have plenty of other things to do, but I wanted to get this down before I forgot (as I often do when creating things). I've been having a few nutritional/digestive issues lately that I am trying to get under control. My belly has been all kinds of bloated and unhappy for months. I am suspicious that I may have some issues with gluten...but I'm not sure, so I'm going to try eliminating it for a few days and see how I feel.

My doc told me that my iron is low and my cholesterol is high. The cholesterol part doesn't shock me after the feeding frenzy I've had the past year. I'm not hip on taking any medication and I'm not totally sold on supplements. I feel it's better to try to get what you need from the foods you eat. With that in mind, for lunch I was starving and wanted to grab the closest easiest carb I could find. No gluten! So instead I checked the fridge for some nutrient dense goodies that might have iron, but no gluten. The result was a very quick, very flavorful and healthy lunch.

Spicy Blackened Style Tofu and Citrus Chard

The tofu can be altered to whatever spices you have in your pantry. Here is what I used:
Serves two if you have no starch

Salt to taste
1 (12 oz) package firm or extra firm tofu pressed
Canola Spray

Mix seasonings on a small plate. Cube tofu into about 1/2 inch cubes. Dust cubes in spice mixture. Heat medium sized iron skillet (large enough so that tofu can be in single layer) sprayed with just a bit of canola spray over high heat. Sear tofu for 2 minutes over high heat and reduce to medium high heat. Brown tofu on both sides until chewy and firm (crispy if you like) about 7-10 minutes per side. Serve while still hot.

Citrus Chard
2 large servings

1 bunch of rainbow chard (any type will really do) washed trimmed and chopped into bite sized pieces
Juice of 1/2 an orange (about 1 tablespoon)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic*
salt and pepper to taste

Heat non stick skillet and a spray of spray canola over med-high heat. Add chard and citrus juices. Saute until they just barely start to wilt. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Saute until wilted and reduced to about 1/2 its original size. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with something spicy. The orange juice is a great complement to spicy food.

No gluten and chard has lots of iron. This is super easy to throw together and doesn't leave you feeling like a bloated mess.

*I usually prefer to use minced fresh garlic and you could sub a large fresh clove, but sometimes a girl/guy is just in a hurry and shaking something out of a spice jar is just the ticket.

NYE Course # 4 - Dessert - Banana Split Triffle

Last in the series of the New Year's Eve course dinner extravaganza.

This year Fred was in charge of dessert. After hours and hours of internet searching, he still wasn't feeling inspired. He is the best of the over-thinkers and I think he just had himself psyched out. His dessert last year was over the top, and he felt he needed to top it. The night before the dinner, he still hadn't found his dream dessert. We tossed around a few ideas and decided he would do a trio of mini-cupcakes with a banana split theme.

He diligently got to making three different types of mini-cupcakes: strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate (all from VCTOTW). Sadly, I mis-timed the cooking time on the first two batches and they would not come free of the paper liners. As luck would have it, I suggested that he do 1/2 of the batch as full sized cuppies. Those came out perfect. Unfortunately, plan A would not we had to quickly devise a plan B as time was running out and Fred was just a tad anxious.

Thankfully I have a love of Iron Chef-esque moments in the kitchen. So here is what Fred did. He cut the tops off of the full sized vanilla cupcakes to make the base in the bottom of the truffle bowl. He made two variations of the raspberry mousse from VCTOTW: Strawberry and Pineapple. He added just a touch more agar agar to the pineapple to compensate for the acid content. These chilled in the fridge for about an hour. Meanwhile the bananas were carmelized in a bit of Earth Balance and brown sugar and pecans were toasted to bring out their delicious toasty flavor.

With all of the components ready, the assembly line began. The layering started with the base of vanilla cupcake top, then pineapple mousse, crumbled chocolate cupcakes, strawberry mousse, fresh thinly sliced strawberries (which were surprisingly sweet for this time of year), Soyatoo whipped cream, then finally garnished with the carmelized banana and toasted pecans. The results were fun and tasty. This was truly an on the fly kitchen triumph for Phat Freddie. Sadly we didn't get the obligatory shot of the master with his completed dish.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Course # 3 - Seitan Oscar

As luck would have it, this year I was in charge of entrees. For quite some time the classic dish Veal Oscar had been on my mind. I wanted to try and veganize this dish so it would be cruelty free, yet still delicious. It was a success, but still needs a bit of tweaking. I used a slight variation of Julie Hasson's Italalian Sausage Cutlet recipe (which will be in her upcoming Vegan Diner cookbook) to replace the veal. It was breaded in herbed panko crust and sauteed. For the crab I substituted thinly sliced marinated, alder smoked tofu. I topped it off with a Bearnaise sauce which was a variation of Isa's Vegan Brunch Hollandaise recipe. Traditional Oscar is served with steamed asparagus. This version has marinated and grilled spears.

I found some cute tiny yellow fingerling potatoes. I couldn't resist using them for this. These were roasted with garlic and herbs. Breaking from tradition, I developed a red wine reduction and sauteed some fresh shiitake mushrooms for a garnish. The recipe of the red wine reduction is MIA. I'm hoping it will re-surface. When it does I will post it here. In the mean time here are some pictures for you to feast your eyes on.

Assembly line

Seitan Oscar

Wine makes us happy.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Eve Course # 2 - Roasted Artichoke Salad

My very talented friend Gail was in charge of the second course. Gail is a master of all things fabric and sewing. She is also one hell of a belly dancer. She is one of the most confident women I know...until it comes to cooking. Don't get me wrong, she does a great job on any cooking adventure she undertakes. She just has an irrational fear of the kitchen. Just for me, she fights her kitchen demons and always delivers something wonderful. This year was no exception. She perused the internet to find this wonderful Ina Garten recipe. I don't think I've ever met an artichoke heart I didn't like. This salad was no exception. The capers gave it a nice piquant flavor. The green goo, as Gail called it, was a great complement to the salad and made for a very pretty presentation.

With the wine pairing

Gail: a lovely dish with her lovely dish

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year 2010! NYE Food Extravaganza - Course 1

A few years ago a friend of mine came up with a great idea. Instead of going out and dealing with the amatuer night that is know as New Year's Eve, why not have a night in with good friends cooking great food. The first couple of years we did this together. Unfortunately there were some conflicts with a couple of the husbands. Around the same time Fred and I stopped eating meat. Sadly the original crew has kind of disippated.

The tradition is a great one, so we wanted to carry on with it. Happily, we have other friends who embrace the challenge of cooking incredible vegan food. Each couple picks a course they want to prepare and a wine they want to pair with it. This is our second year doing it completely vegan. It was a great success! Over the next couple of days I will be posting details on each course. No baby animals were harmed making any of the incredible dishes you are about to lay your eyes on. Grab a napkin for the drooling you are about to experience.

For the first course my good friend Jerry, who is also an avid foodie, embraced the spirit of culinary adventure. His lovely wife and dear friend of mine, Beth, told me he had been experimenting with a few different recipes over the last couple of weeks. He is truly a foodie after my own heart!!! He even found a way to veganize a very un-vegan sauce. For this I am grateful and truly impressed. I am hoping he will share the recipe! If he does, I will post it here for you. It is a really beautiful dish and the flavors were just fantastic.

Here he is having a great time creating in the kitchen.

Jerry's Fabulous Singapore Bok Choy Rolls with
Exotic Mushrooms and Vegetables
Served on a Bed of Crispy Bean Sprouts
with Char Siew Sauce and a Drizzle of Sriracha

With wine paring and the lovely Beth