Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cooking from My Cookbooks - The Artful Vegan

This book is definitely not for the novice cook. It is written by the geniuses behind the Millennium restaurant in San Francisco. This beautiful restaurant should be on every vegan (and even not vegan) foodies bucket list. The service, wine list and food are all amazing.

You need to have a lot of time, patience, willingness to make several components and often specialty ingredients or equipment. I wimped out this time and went for the easiest thing I could find in the book. Even this recipe had a couple of components, but didn't require a whole day in the kitchen or any crazy special ingredients or equipment.

I bring you the Chilled Avocado, Tomatillo, and Cucumber Soup with Saffron-Lime Ice. The soup on its own was nothing spectacular. It really came to life with the addition of the Saffron-Lime Ice. I added quite a few toasted, sliced almonds to make it a bit more hearty. I liked it, but didn't love it. I was refreshing on a 108 degree day.

I plan to revisit this book when it cools off and I want to blow Fred's mind with an amazing artistic meal. It will surely bring back some very fond memories of our trip to the Millenium Restaurant in San Francisco.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cooking from My Cookbooks - 500 Vegan Recipes

Part 2 of my cooking from my cookbooks series features 500 Vegan Recipes by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman. There are so many recipes in this book! I narrowed it down by first going to my pantry and picking one ingredient to use. Then I went to the index and found recipes using that ingredient. The ingredient was dried red lentils. The Chickpea Masala recipe on page 149 caught my eye.

I adore lots of spice and flavor. So when I read the ingredient list, I knew it would be a winner. I thought I had some garam masala in the spice cabinet, but I didn't. They included a great recipe for a garam masala spice mix on page 305. I quickly mixed the aromatic spices up in my spice grinder. The thing I love about red lentils is how fast they cook up. This is a pretty quick recipe to whip up. It is really filling and bursting with flavor. It reheats really well. I served it with some kale sautéed in garlic, ginger, lemon juice and tamari. It made enough for 4 good sized servings.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cooking From My Cookbooks - 30 Minute Vegan

My cookbook collection has gotten pretty large over the years. So big in fact, there are some books that never get much attention. I thought I'd roll a few goals into one ongoing project: cooking something from all of my cookbooks, eating healthier by greatly reducing my use of processed food and eating out less. I may be a big old food geek, but I'm pretty excited about it.

I'm starting off by going alphabetically, but who knows how it will go. The first book I opened up was The 30-Minute Vegan by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray. This book was a gift from my lovely friend Julie. She is one of the most thoughtful people. She never forgets a birthday or any other holiday for that matter. I need to cook for her more often for sure. I think this gift may have been her hint to me.

I've been a bit lazy and not wanting to heat up the kitchen, so anything that required turning on the oven was a big no! I had some fresh spinach in the crisper and a hankering for greens. Fred always loves pasta, but is a self proclaimed "red sauce guy", so I wasn't sure this would be his thing. I opted for the Pasta Florentine (page 221). It wasn't red sauce, but how can you turn down a dinner you didn't have to make? I am not a huge fan of faux cheeses, so I left out the mozzarella. I did however slice up and brown some of Julie Hasson's Italian Sausages that I had made last weekend. They were yummy on this fairly simple pasta dish. I think without them it may have been a little boring. But it was a nice filling and quick week night dinner.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Weekend Sunny Breakfast (or brunch if you like to sleep in)

When I go to the farmers market or the grocery store, I always go overboard buying fresh organic produce. I always have things on the edge (and sometimes over the edge) of going bad. I hate to waste produce. Last weekend was another one of those days. So I decided to make a very vegiful healthy breakfast.

I had a rainbow of fresh veggies. The heat is starting to stress my fresh herbs so I cut a bunch of them to sue as well. This colorful scramble is full of antioxidants and nutrients. Most of all it is full of fresh herb flavor. I recommend slicing, dicing and chopping before you get started cooking to make things go easy peasy. So if you wake up tomorrow morning and want the sun to shine in your mouth, this might just be the recipe for you! Feel free to sub veggies you need to use up in your fridge.

Sunny Day Rainbow Scramble

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small zucchini, quartered and thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, diced
2 cups kale, stems removed torn into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves*
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary*
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme*
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon Braggs liquide aminos or low sodium tamari
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1-12 oz package extra firm tofu, water squeezed out

In a 12 inch iron skillet or non stick pan over medium heat add olive oil. Let warm for about 30 seconds. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and yellow bell pepper and sauté for about 3-4 more minutes until mushrooms start to release their liquid. Add zucchini, tomato and kale. Saute until kale is wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Add sage, rosemary and thyme. Saute until herbs start to become fragrant, about 30 seconds. Crumble tofu into vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with turmeric, nutritional yeast, Braggs, salt and pepper. Gently stir until well combined. Cook, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing burns to the bottom, until tofu is heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately. This also reheats well.

*measured after mincing

Friday, July 4, 2014

4th of Jul-fry! Fry Me Up Some Dinnah!

I don't know what it is about holidays, but they always make me want to stuff my face with indulgent things I wouldn't often make. Today was no exception. While I was working I was very well behaved. I made a very healthy juice with farm fresh carrots, cucumbers and beets from the garden and some other alkalizing veggies. Then I signed off and all sensibility left me.

I had some really beautiful baby portobello mushrooms. Not the tiny ones that are all different shapes and sizes, but the bigger ones that were gorgeous and pretty uniform in size. I thought about stuffing them or maybe even just sautéing them with a little thyme, salt and pepper. Then something happened. My inner fried food demon popped out and it was on! I whipped up a quick batter, heated up some oil in my trusty skillet and made a quick sauce for dipping'

The mushrooms were meaty and gorgeous sticking out of the perfectly golden and crispy coating. I tried one dipping sauce that just wasn't doing those 'shrooms justice. I regrouped and came up with what I thing is the perfect compliment to my golden beauties. The hint of lemon and the sweet tarragon in the sauce paired beautifully with the earthy mushies and the slightly smoky crust. These were pretty darn quick to make too. I made so many and couldn't stop eating them. It ended up being my entire dinner. Hee hee.

Golden Beauty Fried Mushrooms with Cheater Béarnaise

I recommend making the sauce ahead of time to let the flavors develop.

12 large baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and reserved

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup corn starch (Rapunzel's is GMO free)
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup soy milk

Oil for frying (I used grape seed)

1 recipe Cheater Béarnaise (recipe below)

Add oil to iron skillet or other heavy bottomed skillet to a depth of at least 1 inch. Heat oil to 375.

Line a large plate with a paper bag topped with paper towels to drain mushrooms.

While oil is heating make batter. Add flour, corn starch, bread crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and salt. Combine well. Whisk in soy milk until a fairly thick batter is formed. If batter seems too thick to coat the mushrooms, add a touch more soy milk.

Using a fork or a toothpick, dip the mushroom in batter and coat completely. Gently tap off excess. Carefully place mushroom into hot oil, using an additional fork to slide it gently off of the fork or pick into the oil. Repeat with each mushroom, cooking in batches. Make sure not to crowd the pan. Fry until golden on one side (about 3-5 minutes). Carefully turn over and fry for about 3 more minutes. Remove from oil and place on prepared plate to drain. These babies are very hot, so please let them cool for a bit lest you burn your poor tongue. Serve with Cheater Béarnaise.

Cheater Bearnaise

Makes 1/2 cup

1/2 cup Veganaisse or other vegan mayo
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon fresh, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Dash Tabasco

In a small bowl, stir all ingredients until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least and hour. Will last several days in the fridge.