Monday, April 4, 2011

Look Kate, It's Not Curry!

So, my one reader and I are sick of looking at the last recipe.  Have a new one.

Chana Masala
Adapted from Oh She Glows

3 small cans chickpeas
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1 Tbsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1.5 Tbsp spice mixture*
1 tsp raw sugar
3/4-1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
Handful of chopped cilantro to garnish

*Spice Mixture
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1 tsp turmeric
2 Tbsp toasted and ground cumin seeds
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala

Toast and grind the cumin seeds in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, then mix everything together.  Once you're done with the spices, the rest is simple.

Heat oil over medium heat and saute the ginger, garlic and onions until the onions start to become translucent.  Add the tomatoes and saute for another minute or two.  Add the spice mixture and work into a paste, sauteing for about three minutes.  Finally, add in the water and adjust sugar and salt to taste, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  I would recommend adding the water in slowly until it reaches a consistency that you like.  Top with cilantro.

The first time that I tasted this I put the chickpeas over brown rice and added a dollop of Greek yogurt to the top.  Honestly, it tastes better all by itself, and tastes just as good a few days later, hot or cold.  Plus, with the one-time investment of making the spice mix (I'd make a double batch, enough for almost four recipes' worth), the whole thing takes about 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vegan Red Curry

Hey, look, it's January.  Time to be healthy (or at least make an effort).  I don't know about you, but the holiday season wasn't entirely too kind to my waistline so I wanted to whip up something that would be fairly light but still warming.  Enter red curry.  I'd never used curry paste before, just powder, but the difference in flavor was pretty amazing.  I used light coconut milk to cut out some of the fat and vegan chicken strips, but I think it would taste just as good with seitan if you're not into fake meat products, or more veggies if you want to omit it entirely.

Vegan Red Curry - Serves 4

Vegetable oil for sauteing
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
12 oz. vegan chicken strips or seitan
3 tbsp red curry paste
Splash soy sauce
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 - 1 cup veggie stock
Salt, to taste
Two potatoes, chopped into small cubes
Sriracha, to taste
1 tsp fresh grated ginger

Rice to serve about 4 people (I added three cardamom pods to the water I used to boil the rice to give it a little extra flavor)

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and pepper and saute until they are somewhat tender, but not soft.  Add potatoes and saute for about 3 minutes.  Add chicken strips or seitan, curry paste, ginger, and a splash of soy and saute until ingredients are mixed well and "chicken" is heated through, about 3 minutes or so.  Add drained tomatoes, peas, coconut milk, and 1/2 cup veggie stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.  At this point you can add salt to your liking and the remaining veggie stock if needed to thin out the mixture.  Serve over rice and top with sriracha if you like it even spicier.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Vegan Christmas

Christmas Eve dinner at my sister's house has been a (drunken) vegetarian affair for a long time.  The first year that I can remember included the strange entree that is the Tofurkey, but they've only improved since then.  The boyfriend (now fiance!!!), a carnivore if ever there was one, says that he doesn't even miss meat if he knows that Kate and Calvin (the brother in law, not the dog) are cooking.  There have usually been a couple of vegan dishes, but this year they decided to go completely animal-free and make it vegan, with everyone bringing something along to share.  I got dessert and decided to go with a pie that's a little tart and a little sweet and totally vegan.  It was pretty yum, if I do say so myself.  I went with a layered version of a tarte tatin using pears combined with a cranberry layer in the middle to cut the caramelized sweetness of the cooked pears.  Note: this does take a while, but in the main it's fairly simple and can be completed more quickly if you do both batches of pears simultaneously.

Mmmmm, pie.  Flaky, sweet, tart pie.

Vegan Pear Cranberry Pie

Pie dough before adding milk
For the pie crust:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter-flavored Crisco, refrigerated
1/3 - 1/2 cup very cold almond or soy milk

To make the pie dough, start by mixing together the flour and salt.  Drop the Crisco into the bowl in pieces and cut it into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender (if you don't have one, you can use two knives, one between your index and middle finger, and one between your middle and ring finger) until the mixture makes small balls.  When it reaches the correct consistency, mix the almond milk in with a fork until it's just incorporated.  You don't want it to be too blended or you won't get a flaky crust.  Divide into two balls of equal size and refrigerate until you're ready to roll it out.

For the pears:

The pears are done in two batches, so double this recipe.  If you have two large pans you can cook them at the same time to save on your overall prep time.

3 d'Anjou pears or other light-tasting pears, peeled and chopped into eighths
2/3 cup raw sugar
Scant 1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance or other vegan butter substitute
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp. bourbon vanilla (or regular vanilla)

For each batch of pears, combine water and sugar in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring.  The sugar will first dissolve, then begin to bubble, and finally caramelize and thicken.  If you're using raw sugar it will be hard to estimate the right color, so just go by a thick consistency.  Don't taste test it unless you want to burn your tongue.  When the mixture has turned to caramel, add the butter sub, the lemon juice, ginger, and vanilla and stir in.  When it is well blended, arrange your pears in the skillet.

Cook the pears for about 10-15 minutes, then turn them over using a fork.  Cook for another 10-15 minutes until the pears are soft and sugary.  Transfer them to a large bowl to cool a bit, making them easier to arrange in the pie shell without sustaining caramel burns.

Cranberry layer:

1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries
Water as needed to thin
Juice of one large orange
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1-2 Tbsp corn starch

Heat orange juice and maple syrup in a small sauce pot.  Once it is simmering, mix in corn starch.  Start with 1 Tbsp and add another Tbsp as needed to thicken the sauce.  Add cranberries and simmer for about 10 minutes until they start to break down.  At this point, add water if needed to thin out the mixture.  The finished product should look like this:

The cranberries should have broken down enough that they're soft, but not so much that they resemble a cranberry sauce that you would serve at dinner.

Setting up the pie:

Now that everything is cooked, preheat your oven to 375 and roll out half of the pie dough and press into a pie pan.  It helps if the rolling pin is floured slightly and the dough is cold before you start.  Warm pie dough is persnickety and sticks to everything.

Add your pears, arranging them as you did in the skillet so that one half covers the bottom of the pie shell.  Next add your cranberries in a second layer.  Finish off the pie with remainder of the pears and as much of the caramel sauce as remains in the bowl/you want to put in.  When the layers are complete, roll out the second half of the pie dough and place over top in one sheet or as a lattice top.  Crimp the edges together with a fork, brush with almond milk, and sprinkle with some more sugar.  Bake pie in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden.  If your edges are getting too brown, which mine always do, cover just the edges with aluminum foil so that the crust bakes more evenly.  Et voila!

This pie isn't too sweet, despite the caramelized pears.  There's a little bit of sweet and a little tart in each bite, so it's not too heavy after a big meal like Christmas dinner.  If you like your pie with a little more sweet, just add more of the caramel that will be left in the bottom of your bowl as the pears cool.

Calvin hopes that you like your pie.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Drumroll please

So, the big announcement.  Yes, ahem, I have a real job!  It comes with my own office and everything.  I have colleagues.  I get to wear suits all the time (wait, is that a plus?).  Most awesome of all perhaps is that I now have an answer to the question "so what do you do?"  It's fabulous.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shrimp Bruschetta

Big news tomorrow people.  But for now, someone (Hi Kate!) told me I needed to update more, so I'm updating.  Things have been busy around here with the introduction of Calvin and I haven't been around my computer very much, hence the lack of posting.  He gets all spastic when I leave him alone for more than 30 seconds at a time and does things like attempt to eat my shoes or devour a refrigerator magnet (like he did the other night).  Here's a picture of him looking particularly awesome with his new dog sunglasses.

Calvin, looking like a bad ass.
He's not especially fond of them yet, but he needs them since his albino eyes get all squinty otherwise.

Oh, and hey, a new recipe.  An awesome new recipe that is super tasty and really easy to throw together but seems kinda fancy when you serve it to people.

Shrimp Bruschetta
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
About 8 good-sized basil leaves, chopped
1/2 - 1/3 red onion, depending on size, diced small
4-5 large tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
3-4 cloves of garlic (or however many you choose, depending on your love for garlic), minced
1 pound peeled shrimp, chopped into smallish pieces
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Sea salt
1 loaf of garlic bread
Parmesan cheese for topping

First, chop up all of your veggies and herbs and toss them into a big bowl together.  Next, heat up a dollop of olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add your shrimp and garlic cloves.  Saute them together for about 3 minutes, just long enough to get the flavors to meld but not so long that you start browning the garlic.  If you want to make the recipe even easier, use frozen peeled shrimp (the small size).  It makes them easier to chop up and it's hard to tell the difference since there are so many other flavors going on.  Once your shrimp and  garlic are done, put them into the bowl and toss with your olive oil and vinegars.  I didn't give precise amounts since it's a matter of personal taste, so just taste it frequently until you're satisfied.  Toss a little bit of sea salt in there and you're done.  You'll want to let it sit for about 10-15 minutes, so while that's happening slice and heat up your garlic bread.  Top each slice with the shrimp mixture and serve with Parmesan.  This makes a lot, so you can have it for a main course for about 4 people and you'll probably still have some left over.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Vegan Experiment - Results

Huh, well getting the last V.E. post up has taken me a little longer than I thought it would.  Things have been busy around here.  Partially this is because I had an interview yesterday morning that I think, finger and toes and arms and legs crossed, went very well.  Hopefully I'll hear something soon and then I can be a real lawyer after 2 years of being a computer monkey.  Partially it's because we decided to have Thanksgiving at our house, so there's been a ton of grocery shopping and preparations going on.  And partially it's because of the large beast pictured here, who came to live with us on Sunday.  His name is Calvin.  He's a 1-year-old, 77 pound albino doberman who was rescued from a breeder in Georgia.  He enjoys chewing up pillows, trying to play with our cats (who are understandably disturbed by his presence), and laying on the couch like a giant, furry throw pillow.  He's a big goober, but we love him.  #10 of the 101 things accomplished!

Anyway, so, the results.  I am happy to report that with the exception of the honey face masks I didn't cheat, although I was sorely tempted my last night.  We went to the Roller Derby on Saturday night and, not realizing that we would be there for four hours, I didn't eat much beforehand.  I was so starving that when we got home and Max attempted to eat the vegan chili leftovers I may have threatened him with bodily harm.  With that exception though, I'd say it went pretty well.  My skin cleared up a lot and I definitely felt better knowing exactly what was in my food at all times.  The stomach problems were a little annoying, but they went away after the first four days or so, after which I felt fine.  As for the recipes, there are a couple that I'll definitely be making again.  The scones, for sure, and the enchiladas.  The pizza and chili are also keepers, and Pancakes a la Calvin will join the weekend breakfast rotation.  As for the rest of it, it was certainly good, but I don't know that I'd make it again.  I'm glad that I've learned the trick to getting tofu to fry up well and most everything was certainly good, but something has to really knock me out to join the rotation or my recipe collection would get kind of unmanageable.

That said, however, I wouldn't want to be vegan forever.  For one thing, it would have been nice to have a snack while at the Roller Derby, but instead I kind of suffered.  I'm just not prepared enough at all times to have options at the ready for every occasion.  Another problem is the general mess it created.  I mean, my kitchen was always in a state of near disaster because of the sheer volume of cooking I was doing.  All in all though, I'll definitely keep some of the ideas and I won't be eating as much dairy or processed crap anymore because I just felt better without it.  So, lesson learned and all that.  Plus, an experiment is always kind of fun, if only to challenge myself a bit.  I'll keep posting any good recipes that I come across, and I'll let you know how Thanksgiving goes, since it's semi-vegan due to the presence of non-carnivores.

But that's not all.  I would be remiss if I didn't end this post with a big thank you to a certain special something.  So thank you, dishwasher, for your all your hard work.  Without you all of this would never have been possible, and your hard work and dedication were an inspiration to me.  May you relish the little vacation that you're enjoying right now before all hell breaks loose tomorrow for the holiday

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Days 6 & 7 - Pancakes at Last!

Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday.  There's a lot to get through, so let's see...

Thursday Night
"Snobby Joes" and Onion Rings
I made Vegan Sloppy Joes and Baked Onion Rings from The Post Punk Kitchen.  The sloppy joes (or snobby joes, as they're called on the website) were pretty good.  I was getting really sick of lentils by that time though, so I don't think that I enjoyed them as much as I might have otherwise.  The onion rings, on the other hand, were quite tasty.  I mixed up the recipe at first, adding only 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs rather than a full cup.  As such, my onions weren't as coated as they should have been, but they turned out well anyway, better than a regular onion ring to my thinking.  I apologize for the totally awful picture, but it was late and kind of dim in my house and everything just looks washed out, even my happy yellow plate.

I was so ready to throw in the towel yesterday.  Somewhere around 5:00 I decided that I was tired, and headachey, and just wanted to order a pizza, dammit.  I didn't want to cook or clean and I was sick of beans and lentils and everything else.  I was sick of my kitchen being a mess.  I really wanted a damn pizza.  But, I persevered.  I realized I hadn't had any coffee all day, thus explaining the headache, so I got some caffeine in me and invited my brother and my mom over for dinner.  Dinner was quite tasty - vegan chili with faux sausage crumbles and baked tortilla chips for some crunch.  Plus wine, naturally.  I'd made chili before a bunch of times so I just decided to wing it.  This is what I came up with:

Vegan Chili
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large (very large in my case) sweet onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped up very small
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tube of vegan ground sausage substitute - I used Light Life Gimme Lean ground "sausage"
1 Tbsp cumin
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 bay leaves
1 large can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3-4 cups of veggie broth
2 15-oz. cans of beans, drained and rinsed - I used one can of black beans and one can of white beans
If you want - 1 big chunk of ginger, added with the beans to make them easier on your stomach.  It won't change the flavor. 
For garnish - tortilla chips, chopped green onions, cilantro, and Toffuti Sour Supreme (a sour cream substitute)

Heat oil in a large soup pot and add onions and celery, sauteing until translucent (about 8 minutes).  Add garlic and sausage substitute and break up with your spatula until it starts to brown.  Add spices and saute for about 1 minute until everything is mixed together.  Add bay leaves, diced tomatoes and tomato paste and stir in.  Add about 2.5 cups of veggie broth.  Bring to a boil.  Once it's boiling, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 45 minutes (or longer if you'd like).  At the end, add the beans and enough of the leftover broth to get the chili to your desired consistency (I used about 3.5 cups total).  If you're using the ginger, add it at this point.  Continue to simmer for about 10 more minutes to get all of the flavors to meld together, and then add any additional spices to your liking (mine was pretty spicy already, so I left it alone).  Remove the bay leaves and the ginger piece (I hadn't yet found mine in the mass of chili and my brother accidentally ate it, prompting a "what the hell?").  Serve with tortilla chips, green onions, cilantro and sour cream.

To make the tortilla chips I just chopped up the leftover tortillas that I'd made for the enchiladas, put them in a bag with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, shook them up, and baked them for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.  They weren't at all like store bought tortilla chips, but were thicker and less salty.

I wish I had a picture to post of the chili, but we pretty much ate it all, which is a good recommendation.

And now, pancakes!  I got up super early this morning to go for a run with some girls that live in my new neighborhood and decided that it would be a great morning to test out Calvin's pancake recipe.  I'm pleased to say that they more than lived up to my expectations.  They're yummy and thick and the perfect vehicle for maple syrup.

Flax eggs
Pancakes a la Calvin

1.5 cups unbleached flour
2 Tbsp wheat germ
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup oatmeal

2 flax eggs (to make a flax egg, put 1 Tbsp of whole flax seeds into a coffee grinder and pulse them until they're finely ground.  Then add 3 Tbsp water and whisk together.  The mixture will get gooey and egg-like in its consistency.  For this recipe, make two of them)
1 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
Water as needed to thin batter (I used a little bit less than a quarter of a cup)

Make your flax eggs.  Mix all of your dry ingredients together and then whisk in the wet ingredients.  Make like you would regular pancakes.  Mine made 11 pancakes total.

Pancakes with maple syrup after a long run = happy, happy me.
So today is my last day of the experiment.  I have no idea what I'm going to make for dinner tonight, maybe edamame pesto and french bread (if I can veganize something that relies so very heavily on butter).  I'll report back tomorrow with the results of the experiment!