Dec 30, 2010

seitan paprikas

Last week I blogged about 'Poor Man's Paprikas,' also known as Paprikas Potato, so I decided to make the actual, very popular Hungarian dish, apparently intended only for rich folks, Chicken Paprikas.

The good news is that the seitan costs about as much as the potatoes and, in fact, the costliest ingredient here is the cashews for the cashew sour cream.

Tender Seitan in sauteed until it starts getting brown and then set aside. The base of the sauce is very authentically Hungarian, being reliant on onions and fat. I cut most of the oil out, but the flavor was still wonderful.

My recipe calls for 2 T of oil, one large onion and 1 T of Hungarian paprika. You can cut the oil in half again, just make sure to keep the onions moving so they don't burn. In addition, "sweat" your onions at some points as well (cover with a lid to keep the moisture in the pan not in the air).

To make it even more authentic, I made Galuska with this to sop up the lovely gravy. Galuska is a dumpling, almost like a gnocchi but no potato and much less work. These "require" eggs, but having made them in mass proportions with eggs at the restaurant and now making them without eggs, it is obvious that as long as you cook them for a minute or two after they start floating, they are just as fluffy as their counterpart.
Another egg "requirement" debunked!

Cost Breakdown

seitan: $3
pepper, onion, tomato: $2
paprika: $.50
cashew, flour: $1
flour, turmeric, salt: $2
Total to make 6 servings:

Dec 29, 2010

breakfast bake

For a beautiful and hearty brunch meal, this Breakfast Bake was wonderful. In fact, it was so good, I made a double batch and one is in the freezer for another day.

This contains tofu, sausage from the Field Roast Grain Meat Co., carrots, peppers, Daiya vegan cheese and hashbrowns.

I browned the hashbrowns and set them aside in a bowl. Then I sauteed the sausage, carrots, peppers and onions and put those in the bowl with the hashbrowns. Lastly, I sauteed the tofu, seasoned it with nutritional yeast, black salt and turmeric. I steamed the tofu for 10 minutes until there was no more liquid in the pan and then added that to the bowl as well. I mixed it all up, with a cup of Daiya, and popped it into a pie pan. I baked it for 20 minutes and served it with toast.

The most tedious part is getting the hashbrowns to brown in a small saute pan.
Use a big one.

Cost Breakdown

hashbrowns: $2
sausage: $2
tofu: $2
onion, carrot, pepper, green onion: $2
Daiya: $1.50
toast: $2
Total to make 5 servings:

Dec 26, 2010

udon noodles in shiitaki broth

Asian Night

Japanese udon or soba noodles are frequently eaten with a seaweed or mushroom flavored broth. Tonight I made a shiitaki broth after having tried to make a seaweed broth which I scrapped (the broth was too strong of seaweed and I knew the family would not enjoy it). A piece of kombu is the traditional way to flavor the broth, but I only had arame and apparently I used too much of it.

No matter; I started again and simmered some water with shiitaki stems, onion, garlic, tamari and mirin. After about 15 minutes I strained it and used this as the broth.

For toppings I steamed some kale, sauteed the shiitaki caps and diced celery root, and julienned some white turnips. I used the turnips raw since they were young and crunchy and delicious. Some slivers of raw onion and green pepper added some more dimension and dinner was complete.

It strayed a tad from tradition, but it was very flavorful and had a lot of umami (Japanese deliciousness).

Cost Breakdown:

shiitaki: $4
udon: $2
vegetables: $3
tamari, mirin: $1
Total to make 6 servings:

Dec 25, 2010

indian rasam and cauliflower with creamy sauce

Indian Night

Rasam is a light Indian soup made with dal, tamarind and diced tomatoes. The dal (split legumes) is cooked  in lots of water and is seasoned with the sour tamarind and spices. When the dal is cooked well, it is whipped so it falls apart and sinks to the bottom of the pot. Tradition holds that you serve the clear, spicy, flavorful broth to guests and the 'dregs' are eaten by the family.

In our family everyone had some of both by stirring up the soup before serving.

The Cauliflower in Creamy Sauce is adapted from a recipe in Flavors of India, a nice little vegetarian Indian cookbook. This was divine. And oh so quick! While the cauliflower is steaming the sauce is made and then poured over the tender cauliflower. That's it. We all loved this version of a sauced cauliflower and it goes on our 'Make Again' list.

I also made the Saffron Rice right out of the same cookbook. I should have followed by instincts to use the amount of water to make the rice as I usually do, but instead I followed my rule of making something from a recipe as the author wrote it. Hence, I got overcooked rice. What a shame. The taste was great and the kids liked it, but you know mushy rice when you eat it.

The simplest way to cook white rice is to combine it with the water (1 c rice to 1 1/2 c water), bring to a boil, cover, reduce to simmer for 5-10 (Max!) minutes, turn it off and let it hang out on the back of the stove for another 15 minutes, covered. Fluff it with a fork and serve.

Cost Breakdown:

dal: $.50
spices, tomato, tamarind: $1.50
rice, saffron: $1
plant milk, cashews: $2
cauliflower: $4
Total to make 5 servings:

Dec 22, 2010

making seitan using a mixer

I had someone comment who had problems making the seitan using the mixer because the mixer breaks the seitan into several balls. When cooked, the seitan still looks as though it was formed from several different sections instead of being one big mass.

This works even for the Holiday Roast.

Hope this helps!

cat's birthday

Three requests from Cat for her birthday meal:

Oreo Shake
Vanilla cake with six inches of frosting

The shake because she wanted to have Chicago Diner food, but not drive there. She wanted to spend the entire day in front of the computer talking and playing (online) with her friends. I could so sympathize; I'm a homebody myself.

This plant-milkshake is made with 3 oreos, 1/4 c of plant milk and 1/2 pint of vegan vanilla ice cream, per serving. This was quite a phenomenon and the kids were clamoring for more. Naturally I made them wait for the sugar rush from the cake. 

For her Birthday meal Cat asked for Lasagna. It seems whenever she gets to pick a meal - and we actually have to grant her wish - she requests Lasagna. This and Benedict (David's love) are the two dishes I've blogged about over and over again.

As I've blogged before, go ahead and add your dry pasta to the pan - no need to cook it even if it is not a no-boil noodle. I keep testing this again and again and it is a fact. Just add 6 T of water to the bottom of the pan with some of the tomato sauce, make sure to cover it very tightly and cook on 350 for at least an hour. That should do it and I hope I am not leading anyone astray.

Finally, her cake. A simple vanilla cake (from the Tiramisu recipe) and tons of maple frosting. 1 stick of vegan butter, 4 c of powdered sugar, a few tablespoons of plant milk and 1 t of coffee extract (if you can't find that use 1 T powdered instant espresso and add it to the warmed plant milk to dissolve). She loved it! I made a double batch of the frosting for her and spread it all on the cake. Even the rest of us passed our portion of the frosting to her and she was in frosting heaven.

Happy Birthday, Catriona!

Dec 21, 2010

minestrone soup

Another request by Cat.

This is her most adored soup and it is so easy to make. This is the Olive Garden version of Minestrone Soup. Although I've made this soup a dozen of times, this was my best attempt. I am not a huge fan of oil and I've even been using coconut oil whenever I do use any, but I used the full 4 Tablespoons of olive oil in this and it was fantastic. 

I tend to minimize the use of processed fats in our diet (except last month, when I felt like I needed to make up for all of our healthy choices over the years), so this soup is great without the added oil, but it is really much better with it. 

Cost Breakdown

vegetables: $3
broth: $1
pasta: $.50
beans: $5
tomatoes: $2
spices, garlic, onion: $.50
Total to make 16 cups:

Dec 20, 2010

banana chocolate chip muffin


Making one kind of muffin would not be enough for lunch, so I made not only this delectable Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin, but also Vegan 's Tami's Apple Oat Muffins. They looked so good during MoFo that I couldn't pass them up. These happen to be the only oatmeal muffins my kids went for. Not to say they don't like oatmeal, but combining them with something that shouldn't be healthy throws them off a bit, I guess.

The Banana Muffins are Kate's favorite ones and they, too, disappeared with just a few crumbs left. Easy to make, with just a few bananas, flour and sugar and you are good to go. The sugar in this recipe is very adaptable, so you can make it using 1c or just 1/4 c to make 12 muffins.

Cost Breakdown

flour: $2
sugar: $.50
maple syrup: $1
banana: $2
chocolate chips: $1.50
baking powder and soda: $.25
Total to make 24 muffins:

Banana Chocolate Chip

Apple Oat Muffin

Dec 19, 2010

seitan marengo

Napoleon fought many battles, but the one at Marengo produced this dish. The original dish was made using whatever was around the countryside at the time, according to legend. There was chicken, crayfish, tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs and olive oil.

I've seen many modern renditions of Chicken Marengo, utilizing mushrooms, peppers, olives and/or wine, but the one thing that still remains the same is that the chicken is cooked in a tomato sauce.

Here is my version, keeping it simple and replacing the chicken with seitan cutlets and the crayfish with mushrooms. If you can or want to get oyster or lobster mushrooms, the better. Of course, if you are not a fan of mushrooms, replace it with a vegetable. I added another twist: instead of using vegetable broth, I used plant milk to make the tomato sauce a bit creamy.

This one is relatively simple, but give it about 15-20 minutes to simmer. Tomato sauces always taste better if they simmer a bit to cook away some of the tomato's bitterness.

I served this with ... mashed potatoes, not just because it is traditional, but because it is Cat's birthday week and I still have 2 bags of potatoes to cook for her. It was outstanding.

Cost Breakdown

tomato, paste: $2.50
mushroom: $1
onion, garlic, herbs: $2
potatoes, plant milk: $4
Total to make 6 servings:

Dec 18, 2010

fried vegan omelet with roasted radish

Fried Vegan Omelet is one of Cat's favorite dishes. Since I've already blogged about this, here, I wanted to make it a little differently. Earlier in the week I asked readers what they would do with a radish and the overwhelming responses were: Roast Them!

So, roast them I did. The Fried Omelet is made with tofu, nutritional yeast, turmeric, and black salt, among other ingredients like flour and plant milk. The omelet is then spread thin on a griddle and "fried" until crisp. This is totally delicious and you should go and make it right now.

Cat likes these with just ketchup, Mikel prefers them on toast with veganaise and vegan cheese (I used Teese today), and Kate likes them with slices of tomatoes and slivers of onions. 

I, on the other hand, made them really snazzy by topping them with roasted radish and tomato slices. Both of those brilliant folks (Tami and Erin) who recommended that radishes be roasted, have it right. Excellent preparation.

Cost Breakdown

bread: $1.50
tomato, radish: $1.25
tofu: $2
spices, flour, nutritional yeast, plant milk: $1.25
Total to make 5 sandwiches:

Dec 17, 2010

hungarian paprika potatoes

European Night

Continuing with Cat's Birthday Week menu, I made March of the Grenadiers. In order to make the March, you need to make Paprika Potatoes. Paprika Potatoes can stand very well on its own, hence the double picture, but when mashed a bit, mixed with pasta and then baked, it is outstanding.

Very simple and quick, this is a staple in our home. I don't usually go to the extend of exerting myself with an extra pot and make March of the Grenadiers, but it was specially requested by Cat.

Super Yummy and Super Quick.

Cost Breakdown

potatoes: $3
onion, garlic: $1
paprika: $.50
pasta: $2
Total to make 6 servings:

Paprika Potatoes

March of the Grenadiers

Dec 16, 2010

ginger seitan

Asian Night

Cat is Japanese at heart - yeah, big surprise - she's a teenager. I think most teenagers these days are wanna-be Japanese, especially in this age of video games, anime and manga.

When Asian Night comes up, she always requests something that is Japanese. Which is fine by me; otherwise I wouldn't even know some of the dishes that exist.

She wanted me to make Shogayaki. Shoga means ginger and yaki means grill or fry. And that is your five cent language lesson for the week. Shogayaki is pieces of pork stir-fried, sometimes with onions, with a ginger sauce. It is served with shredded cabbage.

This is high on the Simple and Quick List as long as you have seitan. You can also use well-soaked TVP pieces. I defrosted and sliced my Tender Cutlets into thin (1/8 - 1/4 inch) strips, coated them with arrowroot (or cornstarch or flour) and stir fried them with sliced onions.

Then I poured on my ginger sauce - garlic, ginger (lots!), sugar, tamari, toasted sesame oil, mirin and sake (I used white wine) - and let it thicken and coat the seitan.

I served this with the traditional shredded cabbage and not-so-traditional sauteed garlic kale. Really good stuff.

Cost Breakdown

seitan, onions: $3.50
arrowroot, oil: $1
sauce, garlic: $2
cabbage: $2
kale: $2
rice: $.50
Total to make 6 servings:

Dec 15, 2010

baked french onion soup

It is Catriona's Birthday Week - her birthday is on Sunday; she will be 14.
 Time goes by way too fast!

Since it is her birthday week, she gets to choose the menu for this week. That means that I came home with three bags of potatoes from Whole Foods. Mikel might have been Italian in his past life, but Cat was certainly Irish. So, we will be revisiting some food I've blog about already, but that is a good thing. In case you missed it before, you'll have a chance to see it again. That also means that I can tweak the recipes.

For lunch she requested Baked French Onion Soup. I had the hardest time melting the vegan cheese before and I think I've figured out why: my broiler was not on high enough, my food was too far from the flame and I didn't give it enough time to melt. It's like a pot of water - it'll never boil if you watch it. If you've been having the same problem, just step away from the oven!

I used Follow Your Heart for this because that is her favorite vegan cheese (above Daiya!). I cut slices off the block to get it to fit on the bowl and then sliced it into thin pieces. Not so thin you can see through them, but not huge chunks, either. I used three croutons in each bowl to help the cheese stay afloat. It worked beautifully!

I also updated the recipe - add salt when you are cooking the onions (but you can wait until the end - no biggie) and in case you don't want to make your own stock, use 10-11 cups of a good vegetable stock.

Cost Breakdown

onions: $2
bread: $1
cheese: $4
stock (homemade): $1
tamari, wine: $1.50
Total to make 8 bowls:

Dec 14, 2010

indian garlic mixed dal + roti + cabbage and potatoes

Indian Night

Indian Night is back, and let me tell you, the more experience you have making Indian, the easier, the faster and the tastier it becomes. I made Garlic Mixed Dal - a great way to use up bits of lentils and dal you have hanging around - and Roti - everyday Indian bread - from scratch. It sounds more impressive than it actually is. And since the winter/late fall CSA is bringing lots cabbage as well, I can see the trickling of it, one in last week's box, one in this week's, an Indian Potato and Cabbage Saute was perfect.

When I make Indian I try to make one dal (legumes), one vegetable and one starch. I have some Indian pickles in the fridge and chutneys that I either make or buy (they keep very well) and it makes the meal plan and the cooking much simpler. Not only that, but the meal is complete. Indian meals can be very balanced and I love that.

Prep all your vegetables and spices before you start to cook, it make it more expeditious that way.

The roti is the simplest of the Indian breads - whole wheat flour, salt and water - but, I spruced it up a bit by brushing on some garlic oil after they were done cooking. They are kneaded, rolled into a flat round (if you can get them to roll in a round shape) and cooked on a dry skillet until spotted and a little puffy.

The cabbage and potatoes are cooked with Indian spices - mango powder, garam masala and cumin - and the dal is mixed lentils (1 cup's worth) cooked with 4 c water. Right before serving you season it with spices and garlic cooked in some coconut oil. 

If you are interested in a written recipe, just let me know!

Cost Breakdown

lentils/dal: $1
spices, onion, garlic: $2
cabbage, potato: $4
whole wheat flour: $1
Total to make 6 servings:

Dec 13, 2010

incrediburger and radish guacamole

I am certain that one thing everyone gets in their CSA is radish. Radish grows quickly and easily and is therefore a natural addition to produce boxes. Lovely in salads and...and ...what else?

The sharp, horseradish-like flavor doesn't get utilized much. Or am I just not in the loop? Comment if you have other uses for this ubiquitous root veg.

I received Beauty Heart Radishes in my box this week (they look very much like turnips, except whereas turnips have the purple on the top, they have it on the bottom) and knew I had to do something with them.

Since guacamole has onions in it, and raw onions have a sharp flavor, I replaced the onions with the radish. I didn't think I would need as mush radish as I wound up using, but the flavor with the creamy avocado was perfect. Radish, avocado, lime juice and salt and pepper.

I topped the Radish-Guacamole on my Incrediburger (which I keep in the freezer for lazy days) - the best burger ever, from American Vegan Kitchen (worth the price of the book in my opinion - the $$ I save not buying GMO-Boca is a double bonus) and baked up some sweet potato fries.

Cost Breakdown

burgers: $2
bread: $2
avocado: $2
radish: $1
sweet potatoes: $2
Total to make 5 burgers and a side:

Dec 11, 2010

butternut squash and quinoa

Has everyone been inundated with winter squash in their CSA, yet? I have. There is only so much squash soup one can enjoy, and there are only so many kinds of squash soup that are enjoyable. At least for my family.

What to do? I felt like the Sorting Hat when it was trying to decide what house to put Harry in.

To add difficulty to hardship, cookbooks don't exactly burst with winter squash recipes.

Here is my take on my Squash of the Week. Incorporating kale, another cold-weather produce item, I roasted the squash and then mashed it up with a little plant milk. Whipping it into a thick puree, I simply seasoned it with a little salt and pepper.

I topped that with steamed kale, sauteed with a little minced garlic and crushed red pepper. For the protein punch, I cooked some quinoa (1 c quinoa, 2 c water, cook 20 minutes) with a little smoked paprika and salt and pepper. I also pan-seared some tofu slices, just simply seasoning them again with salt and pepper, but this is totally optional since the quinoa is a complete protein. Lastly, since butternut squash is sweet, I accented the sweetness with some caramelized onions.

The squash bakes, the quinoa cooks and the onions caramelize in about the same time, 20 minutes, so this is a quick meal. The last thing to do is steam or pan-sear the kale and the tofu, if using it.

Cost Breakdown:

quinoa: $1
kale: $2
tofu: $2
squash: $2
garlic, spices, onion: $1
Total to make 4 servings:

brussels sprouts with smoky beans

Burritos or wraps are probably the most difficult foods to appetizingly photograph, so it must be known that these wraps were delicious. Sauteing sprouts are my favorite way to make them - add a little minced garlic close to the end of the cooking time and you are all set. Just don't cook them to a mush.

Having sprouts in a burrito for me would be complete (call me a cabbage head), but I wanted to add some protein for the kids. Kate requested a bean burrito to begin with, so that is where the dish lead. Some pinto beans, diced onions and smoked paprika (Amazon has a great deal on one - I've been looking for months for it) and the beans take on a different flavor from their Mexican cousins.

Quick, tasty and incorporating Brussels Sprouts - what more can there be?

Cost Breakdown:

sprouts: $3
beans: $2
tortillas: $1.50
spices, onion, garlic: $1
Total to make 4 burritos:

On a total tangent, I have been wanting to blog about candles. Not food, I know, but I saw Tami talking about these candles on Vegan Appetite and I bought a few. The owner, Mike Hipp, has not contacted me to promote for him, but I love these candles. I used to be a Yankee Candle gal, but these soy candles blow them out of the water.

Anyway, take a look at Soy Candles by Phebes if you are interested in holiday or other candles. The scents are amazing and he has a ton of variety. He is very quick and he makes them himself. I've ordered three times from him in the last six months and have been very pleased.

As you can tell by the lack of advertisement on this blog, I don't promote lightly. But I love a good product and when that business is run by a vegan, I kind of want to get the word out.

This is most likely the last non-food related post I'll do, so enjoy it!

Dec 9, 2010

roasted tomatoes and olives pasta

You know you've crossed some sort of fast-food, canned-soup, frozen-meals border when your teen is demanding a home cooked meal. I have been admittedly reluctant to reenter the kitchen since the MoFo and last week's Teen Dance we hosted. I made so much food that David and I wound up buying a freezer. Okay, so it was an excuse, but it is certainly helpful to have the extra space.

Without hesitation, my daughter wanted Pasta Puttanesca, my son wanted Pasta with Spaghetti Sauce and the youngest one was craving Mama's Bean Soup. Since I felt a wee-bit guilty at my laziness, I granted all of them their meal choices - something I do not typically do and do not recommend anyone do so either. Bad habit.

Tonight it wasn't too much of a stress though. I had a 2# container of cherry tomatoes and a wonderful jar of olives sitting in the fridge (the olives, not the tomatoes). I roasted the tomatoes on 450 until they got a little charred and released their juices. I tossed them with crushed red pepper, olives, pasta and some of the reserved pasta water.

Good tip: always reserve a cup of the pasta water in case your dish needs some more liquid. The starch in the water also helps to thicken the sauce.

Traditional Puttanesca contains capers and anchovies as well, but I know my kids didn't want the extra pungency (replace the anchovies with some miso when you toss it all together), so I skipped the capers and miso. In other words, this isn't a typical Puttanesca but instead a very easy, very delicious, very quick weeknight meal.
 A great way to get back in the kitchen.

Cost Breakdown

pasta: $2
tomatoes: $4
olives: $2
Total to make 4 servings:

Dec 5, 2010


The holidays can either be wonderful or a setback. When first having gone veg, this is probably one of the more difficult times since the gatherings with families can place strain on the new diet. Your little Tofurkey looks more like an afterthought than a centerpiece, and a turkey or ham can dominate the table.

That is, unless you actually have a contending centerpiece.

The dish that this Holiday Seitan Roast is in is a normal-sized casserole dish - 9X13. This is not a small roast. It has a beautiful glaze and you can see the texture is moist and lovely. We enjoyed this roast on Thanksgiving, but it is an appropriate addition to any holiday table. It is made using a variation of Tofu-Seitan (which I will be posting) and requires the same amount of cooking time as a turkey would, although it needs no brine.

The Truffle Green Bean Casserole is an upscale version of a regular green bean casserole, but I couldn't stand another holiday with the same old green beans. This is one of those dishes that the holidays would not be the same without, yet needed a revamping. I made it with porcini mushrooms and truffle oil.

Lastly, is the Yule Log Cake. This is made with the same cake batter that I made for Olive Garden's Tiramisu, but baked the batter in a sheet pan and rolled it around a cocoa-cream cheese filling. The frosting is a chocolate ganache. This is tricky to roll and fill, but I love its looks.

The holiday recipes are coming; I am also trying to catch up with the MoFo recipes, so stay tuned.


Holiday Roast

Truffle Green Bean Casserole

Yule Log Cake

RECIPE UPDATE FOR HOLIDAY ROAST : this dish has been tested and revised is featured in the cookbook "Everyday Vegan Eats," by Zsu Dever. 

Nov 30, 2010

millennium (MoFo 20) + book winner

This is the last post of MoFo! Wow! I am done, stick a fork in me!
Over the month we've covered:

And for the last MoFo, I am visiting Millennium in San Franciso.

This is a five-star restaurant in my book and we had the pleasure of dining there a few times while living in San Fran. A bit more on the pricey side, the tasting menu with the wine is the best deal and the best meal to have there. You get the chef's specials paired with delicious wines. The meal runs several courses and leaves nothing to want - even dessert is included.

For my tasting menu I first made the Sesame-Crusted Oyster Mushroom Calamari. These are served with Wasabi Cream and a seaweed salad at the restaurant. I just served it with the wasabi and a little chili oil.

My final course for MoFo is White Bean-Filled Phyllo Purses. These are phyllo purses stuffed with cannellini beans, mushrooms and Italian Tofurkey sausage. They are served over creamy polenta and with Porcini Mushroom Sauce.

My hubby said it was very Millennium-like and he would pay $32 for it.
I told him to fork up the dough.

That's all she wrote - for a few days, anyway. I need to go clean my kitchen and retire the fryer. The kids will mourn ;)

As for the final cookbook winner ...drum roll, please..."American Vegan Kitchen," being sent by the author herself...goes to...
Comment #3
Find me or I'll find you. Congrats!

Thanks to everyone who joined me for this Month of Vegan Food and thanks to all the other hundreds of bloggers who came along for the ride. And thanks to Tami Noyes for the cookbook you gave me to give away! I know the lucky-someone will enjoy it!

(Elvis has left the building...)

Cost Breakdown:

oyster mushrooms: $9
breading: $1
sesame seeds, chili, wasabi: $1
carrots, parsnips, spices: $1
Total to make apps for 6:

phyllo: $3
beans, mushrooms, Tofurkey: $7
porcini, onion, garlic, veg, broth: $6
polenta, nondairy milk, garlic: $2
Total to make 4 servings:

Sesame-Crusted Oyster Mushroom Calamari

White Bean-Filled Phyllo Purses