Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

This post is going to be short, but very SWEET! Short because we're about to embark upon MOFO and I'm going to be a blogging fool for the next month. Sweet because I made some sweet treats for Halloween that I felt were worth sharing.

For those of you in the Phoenix area, there is a crazy cake decorating store called ABC Cake Decorating Supply at 28th Street and Indian School in Phoenix. They have an unbelievable selection of everything cakes!!! I could stay there for days. While I was there I picked up some adorable Halloween decorations. I whipped up a batch of Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cupcakes and topped them with orange colored cinnamon buttercream. I used my fabulous bat sprinkles and cupcake toppers to come up with these. Trick or Treat? Why treat of course. The tricks come later.

Monday, October 25, 2010

November is MOFO - Chilies and Chiles - Need Your Suggestions Please!!!

Well ladies and gentlemen it is almost Vegan MOFO time. For those of you who aren't familiar with MOFO, it stands for vegan month of food. It takes place one month a year. It is designed to encourage food  bloggers to give their blogs some love. The goal is to blog each day of the month. In years past it has been in October. This year November is the big month. Each year I try to do a different theme. Last year's was lots of fun. I veganized many of your favorite recipes.

This year I thought I would do some regional southwestern, chile and chili laden, desert dwelling deliciousness. Yes it's going to be a hot one!!! I love all things chile. It makes my tongue scream for mercy, it makes my brow sweat, it makes my man happy. Yes chiles my dear readers, rock my world, and soon I am hoping they will  rock yours!

I'd like to enlist your help this year. I have some tasty ideas, but I'd like to hear what you'd like to see created. I'm going to do my best to try and create 30 dishes for the 30 days of November. While inspiration often comes to my little head, your ideas will be sure to make MOFO something special.

If you have something chile-ful that you'd like to have specially created for you leave a comment on this post and I will see what I can do about creating your special dish. It could be a dish you'd like vegan-ized, it could be a couple of ingredient you'd like to have iron-chefed, it could be some crazy concoction you thought of but never made. I want to try it! I've been a little lax posting recipes lately. I'm hoping you can help me get back into the swing of things.

So leave those suggestions and I'll see what I can come up with. Who knows, I might just tack on a giveaway for those of you who play!

Caliente November! Aribba!

To get the party started here's a nice pair from our garden.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tailgating Vegan-Style

Last weekend I made my triumphant return to the Grand Canyon. OK it wasn't so much triumphant, but it was awesome. A few of the Laurie Scouts headed up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was gorgeous. The Aspens were turning bright yellow and red, the air was crisp and clean and the beauty of the canyon was beyond description. Sadly, I forgot my camera. Duh! I did take  a few shots on my phone, but I can't find my USB cord. So no aspens for you today my dear readers.

Thankfully my friends remembered their cameras and took some lovely pictures.

So about 545am we headed down the North Kaibab trail. The mission was set out. We were all to hike together until the bridge, where I would make the trek back up 2200 vertical feet on my own and they would continue on to Ribbon Falls. Now, I have to share with you that I was not being a slacker. I had a back injury earlier in the summer and could not properly train for the 16.6 miles we had planned for the day. But when the world hand you lemons, make lemonade.

In this case I made lots of vegan goodies!! We agreed that since I could not make the whole trek this trip that I would be in charge of the post-hike tailgate. Keeping in mind that my friends are going to be tired, ravenously hungry and certainly not vegan, I wanted to make lots of stuff to replenish their bodies and make their mouths very happy. After much though I decided I needed some savory, some sweet, some salty.

I dug into my many archives of cookbooks and test recipes and came up with my menu: From Julie Hasson's upcoming Vegan Diner I made Garlic Dill Cheese. It tastes very much like dill Havarti. I love this recipe, but oddly this one got passed over for some of the other treats.

For the sweet, I made Gluten Free Chocolate-Chocolate Chip cookies from Carla Kelley's testing. The hiking gang loved them! I think one of them ate like 4. My friend said they reminded her of brownies in the best way. They were very yummy.

I wanted to make something hearty and tasty and tailgate friendly that would also travel well. I decided on the Muffulleta from Veganomicon. This sandwich has been very well received by my friends in the past. I am not an eggplant fan, so I subbed grilled zucchini. I highly recommend trying it this way whether or not you like eggplant. It was super yummy!

Next I made a version of my own salsa. I'd provide the recipe, but it is always just a little bit of this and a little bit of that. So it is never the same, but it is always a winner. I served the whole kit n' kaboodle with authentic tortilla chips (a new brand at my WF that is kick booty), organic crackers and fresh crudite. I got rained on twice waiting for the hiking gang to return. So the food had to go in and out of the truck a couple of times. But all in all the hikers were very happy with their special vegan tailgate.

My friends brought festive Halloween decorations. You can see them here.

Muffuletta with Zucchini

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's Almost Soup Season!!!!

I love when the weather starts turning cooler here. It's still over 90 degrees here, but gone are the days over 110 degrees (at least until next summer). I have been dreaming of a fairly easy, healthy, hearty and flavorful soup for some time now, but just haven't been up for sweating while eating in the summer heat. Now's the time dear readers. Today I headed to the pantry to see what I could find. I hope you enjoy this tasty little number.

I love the flavor of Posole. The inspiration for this soup is Posole, but as you will see it took its own path as it was created. Like many people, sometimes my body doesn't react well to corn products. Instead of hominy there is barley to add more texture and heartiness. Sweet potatoes are added for some great anti-oxidants. The sweet caramelized onions play nicely off of the heat of the peppers. This makes a metric ton, so feel free to make half recipe. This will freeze well too. I tried to make a soup that people with many food sensitivities could enjoy. This one is gluten, soy and corn free.

Sweet Potato and Barley, Not so Posole Soup

Makes 12 cups

1 extra large yellow onion (approx. 2 cups) medium dice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2-3 jalapenos, stemmed and seeded, finely diced*
1 anaheim pepper, stemmed and seeded finely diced*
6 cloves garlic, minced or micro-planed
2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 cups strong vegetable broth
1 - 15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup pearled barley
2 large garnet yams or orange sweet potatoes, peeled, 1/2 inch dice
2 cups small red beans, cooked rinsed and drained (like small red kidneys or Nicaraguan red beans)**
3 tablespoons lime juice (about 2 limes worth)
1 cup loosely packed cilantro (measured before chopping) chopped

In large pot over medium heat olive oil. Add onions and sprinkle with brown sugar. Saute for about 15-20 minutes until onions are nicely caramelized. Add jalapenos, anaheim pepper, garlic and dried spices. Saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth and tomatoes in juice. Bring to a boil and add barley. Bring to a boil again and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes and add sweet potatoes. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 more minutes until sweet potatoes and barley are done. Add red beans and simmer until heated through. Just before serving add lime juice and chopped cilantro.

Soup with thicken considerably as it sits. If it is too thick when you re-heat, add a bit more vegetable broth to thin out.

Optional garnishes

Additional lime wedges
Hot sauce
Tortilla strips
Diced avocado

*If you like it hotter, leave your seeds in.
** If using canned beans you can up this to 3 cups so you don't have partial can left over. If you do this add one more cup of vegetable broth.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Food Network (Friday) Challenge - Anne Burrell's Braciole

Well we are at it again. Food Network Friday is morphing. I am going to call it Food Network Challenge, so that I can post on any day! I don't think I have ever attempted anything of Anne Burrell's before. This week the crew took on her Braciole recipe.  Check out Vegan Appetite for every one else's creations. This reminds me of an Italian version of Roulade. Admittedly, I didn't want to head to the grocery store today, so I took some liberties with this recipe.

I made AVK seitan. I separated the seitan in two equal portions and tried two different methods. I will get into that later.

For the stuffing, I did an empty out the fridge version.

1 3/4 cup stale bread cubes
1 2/3 cup unsweetened soy milk

1/2 cup rehydrated soy curls (in veg stock), corsely chopped
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 cup Mushroom and Walnut pate (leftover from a test recipe)
6 oz. fresh organic spinach, chiffonade
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup Daiya Italian blend cheese
1/4 cup vegan parmesan
Salt to taste

1 recipe AVK seitan dough, uncooked, divided in half. One half was portioned out to 4 equal portions. The other was left whole.

To make stuffing:

In medium sized bowl pour soy milk over bread cubes. Let milk soak in. In 10" iron skillet over medium heat saute soy curls in olive oil until just starting to brown. Add soy sauce, maple syrup, and liquid smoke. Saute until dark golden brown. Add pate and heat through. Add spinach. Stir in then turn off heat. Once it cools slightly add to bread mixture. Stir in pine nuts, Daiya and vegan parmesan. Set aside until ready to stuff seitan.

For the first version, which may be the only version that works, I took each of the four portions of the dough and flattened them into rectangles. I spread 1/8 of the stuffing on to each rectangle and rolled each one jelly roll style. The ends were sealed to keep the stuffing in. Each roulade/log was wrapped in aluminum foil, leaving enough room for expansion. The roulades were then placed in a steamer pan for 1 1/2 hours. The roulades were cooled unwrapped and placed in the freezer to cool and firm up. In the mean time I started the sauce.

I followed Anne's recipe pretty closely. Because I didn't have to braise beef for 2 1/2 hours, I reduced the amount of water to only 1 cup. I found the sauce to be pretty boring, so I added a parmesan-ish cheese mix from some other testing I am doing. It still didn't have as much flavor as I would like. But I left it as is. The stuffing had lots of flavor to make up for it. In the mean time the roulades had chilled. I placed them in the sauce pot and let them simmer for about 20 minutes. The roulades were removed from the pan, sliced and plated over penne pasta. The sauce was ladled over the roulades. I sauteed up some fresh carrots, zucchini, broccoli, and mushrooms with garlic, italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Simple but perfect for this dish.

Here is a little bit better shot of the Braciole roulades.

It was tasty, but for the time involved, I'm not sure I'd do it again. The stuffing with the mushroom pate was absolutely amazing. I need to find another use for it! If I did make this again, I'd make sure to jazz up the rather boring tomato sauce by adding more Italian style spices and more crushed red pepper.

My other version was a dream of using my solar oven to bake up a large stuffed roast. I was not able to get the oven over 275 today and it just wasn't enough to get it done, sadly. I did roll the larger roast like I did the smaller ones. It is still in the oven. We'll have to see if it can be saved after the epic fail in the solar be continued.