Saturday, September 24, 2011

PPK Cook Book Challenge '11 - Isa and Terry - VwaV

I love cook book challenges. For that matter I like any excuse to have a food type theme. It also gives me motivation to pull some books out I haven't used in a while. This week we could choose from any book written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz or Terry Hope Romero. It is always a hard choice because their books are so great! I decided this week to go back to the beginning. Vegan with a Vengeance was the very first vegan cookbook I ever bought. It was the book that helped me realize vegan food could be fun, delicious, easy and satisfying. I am forever grateful. You will be too if you bust out a copy. The recipes are all pretty inexpensive too!

This time around I made a few recipes I hadn't tried before. First up was the Tempeh and White Bean Sausage. It was a pretty simple recipe. It was a bit more crumbly than I normally like something called "sausage" to be, but it was pretty tasty.

As an accompaniment I chose the Sweet Potato Hash with Watercress and Five Spice. I didn't have watercress, so I subbed spinach and added a touch of white pepper. I really liked the hash. I love greens and sweet potatoes. The touch of five spice was awesome in this. Yum.

Tonight Fred made dinner. I chose the Stewed Tofu and Potatoes in Miso Gravy for him to make. I was up for some comfort food goodness. I know Fred likes gravy once in a while. It has been some time since we had anything like that. So it was a nice treat. We both loved this dish. The miso gravy had the perfect amount of saltiness and earthiness to complement the mushrooms. The tofu was perfectly tender and juicy. Oh and the potatoes...heavenly. This would be a great dish in the middle of a cold winter. MMMMmmmm.

Next week the featured cook book will be Tami Noyes' American Vegan Kitchen. I so love this book, so I'm excited to try some new stuff from it.

Oh Tomatoes - How Do I Love Thee?

Yesterday was the official first day of fall. While the temps are still in the 105 range here, this reminded me that most of you in other parts of the country are clinging on to the last few weeks of summer produce. The tomato is the epitome of summer to me. I love just picking them off the vine and eating them like an apple when they are juicy and perfectly ripe.

This past week I hit the jackpot at Whole Foods. Their organic heirlooms are usually crazy expensive at $4.99 per pound or more sometimes. I guess I am de-sensitized, because I thought $2.99 a pound was a great bargain. They had many great colors and varieties. I decided to go for three different kinds this time. It was a warm up for the tomato plants I put in 2 weeks ago. I planted like 6 different varieties. We are trying fall tomatoes with the hopes we will have better luck with them than we did our summer tomatoes. In the mean time, I am indulging in the fruits of someone else's labor. Behold - the regal tomato platter.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pastarama - A Pantry Searching Creation

Tonight was a "I don't have any urge to eat dinner" kind of night. However, Fred worked his tail off getting the 3 garden beds ready for fall planting. He was out there for hours. The boy needed some fuel. What to make? It needed to be substantial, fairly healthy and not too tough to make. The pantry had some promising items. I found a couple of partially used packages of fusilli pasta. There was that yummy pesto from the other day. I had one Fieldroast Italian sausage left and some jarred goodies. I thought, "I can come up with something pretty tasty with this stuff."

Here is what transpired:

Silli Fusilli

Makes 2 really big servings OINK!!

8 oz fusilli pasta
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 link Field Roast Italian sausage (or you favorite vegan Italian sausage link), sliced about 1/4" thick
1 small white onion, slivered
1 large roasted red bell pepper, cut in half and sliced into strips
4 oil packed sun dried tomatoes, sliced into thin strips
10 or so pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 cup vegan basil pesto
2 tablespoon parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in large iron skillet or saute pan over medium high heat. Add sliced sausage in a single layer. Saute until golden brown and slightly crispy, approximately 3-4 minutes. Turn slices, move to one side of the pan (on the cooler side of the pan) and brown the other side.

After turning the sausages, add sliced onions. Reduce heat to medium. Saute until the onions are nicely browned, about 5-7 minutes. If sausage is getting too browned, you can remove them from the pan and set aside on a small plate. Add the roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes and olives. Saute until they are heated through, about 3-5 minutes.

Add cooked pasta and stir until combined and heated through. Add pesto and toss until pasta is well coated. Saute for another 2 minutes or so until the pesto is warm.

Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped parsley. Yummy with a nice simple salad and garlic bread.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Another Look at the Conscious Cook

For quite some time I had been reading and hearing about what a great book the Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen was. Truth is, I had kind of put a moratorium on buying new cook books and I hadn't bought this one yet. Thankfully, Tami Noyes over at Vegan Appetite chose his book for two of our Vine and Dine cook alongs giving me my first taste of Tal Ronnen's talent.

I've only made three recipes from the book so far, and I have to say each one was very, very good! I love hard cover cook books, so I was pleased when this one came in a hard cover version. The publisher includes some beautiful pictures of the food. There is a very nice section giving a little information on becoming vegan and some banter from guest chefs. The recipes are easy to read and understand. He is all about Gardein, which I am on the fence about. But it is easy enough to substitute your own home made seitan and proteins. This one is definitely worth considering for your cook book collection. I'm sure excited it is part of mine! I look forward to making more yumminess from it soon. I have my eye on the free form pasta!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Vine and Dine - Mushroom Bouillabaisse

This week's featured recipe came from Horizons: The Cookbook: Gourmet Meatless Cuisine. This is a favorite of our hostess Tami Noyes over at Vegan Appetite. I've only made a couple of things from it so far and I can see why it is a favorite.

This week's recipe is far more difficult to spell than to make. I chose to use a good variety of wild mushrooms: cremini, portobello, Maitake and trumpet mushrooms. The mushrooms looked so good at Whole Paycheck this week. I'm so glad I did a variety as it really added some fun texture to the dish. I chose to follow the recommendation of grilling the mushrooms first. I do think it was a good choice as it made the mushrooms soooooo tasty.

This was a nice one pan meal (minus the croutons). I liked that it was not a heavy dish. The touch of fennel made it remind me a bit of my mom's chicken cacciatore recipe for some reason.

I used a basic french baguette sliced very thinly and then baked until crispy for the crouton. I very much liked the red pepper mixture on the bread. However, I didn't think it did anything to enhance the bouillabaisse.  It didn't hurt either, just meh for me. I thought the tomato, mushroom and fennel combination was divine. This will be a summer favorite for us!!

Here is Fred's review of this week's wine selection.

The quest for easily found vegan wines continues. I have a bigger list but so many of them tell me most of the wines that come from a certain winery are vegan friendly, they just don't tell me which ones. I did find a vegan wine labeled 50% cab, 50% malbec from Chili. "Nuevo Mundo" makes organic, vegan, sustainable, and certified carbon neutral produced estate bottled wine. This was a very good middle of the road red wine, one that I would introduce to someone that was just starting to drink wine. It was very pleasant on the tongue after opening up for ten minutes.

Kim's dish was loaded with mushrooms so I think it needed a more exciting, stronger, spicier, wine to compliment it. The malbec grape seemed to match the dish to much, being kind of earthy itself. This wine would please everyone in a crowd but just didn't have enough pop for our dinner tonight, perhaps it would be nice with a spicy, tomatoey dish. I will definitely by more of this brand as it is so earth friendly and kinda good in it's own way.