Mar 22, 2011

south american curry

It was Asian Night.

While I wanted to make curry, a few of the other family members wanted something a little different. Which is why I decided to fuse South America and Asia. A while ago I made Aji Paste from Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero and froze what I didn't use for the recipe. It was time to utilize it. A good Thai curry is based on a chili paste so it wasn't too much of a stretch to use the aji paste instead and incorporate other Latin flavors. 

In addition to the paste, I used cumin, oregano, garlic, lime juice, cauliflower, mushroom, bell peppers, green beans, cilantro and pressed tofu. Pressing the tofu properly (such as with a Tofu Xpress) will keep the tofu from falling apart in the broth during cooking. Another bonus using this machine. 

Although I used coconut milk, I kept it down to 1 can of lite milk and used vegetable broth to make up the difference. Since this would make for a very thin broth with no body, I added an arrowroot (or cornstarch) slurry to thicken it up to the consistency of coconut milk. This did not distract from the flavor and made it possible to cut down on the coconut milk.

I love lots of vegetables in curries and using the Latin flavors made it a little different.  A very satisfying meal with a twist.

Cost Breakdown

aji paste: $.50
onion, garlic, spices, herbs: $1
cauliflower, green beans, red pepper: $5
mushrooms, tofu: $3
coconut milk: $2
lime, sugar, veg stock: $1
Total to make 6 servings:

Mar 19, 2011

FNF - bubble and squeak with sausages and onion gravy

Not to scare anyone that time has suddenly sped up and it is again a Food Network Friday, hosted by the lovely author of American Vegan Kitchen, Ms. Tami Noyes, this is due for April 1st. (So it is not too late to join in the fun! Redo Jamie's recipe vegan and send your creation to Tami.)

When I chose this one, I had St. Pat's Day in mind, so I made it on that day. Bubble and Squeak is a traditional English dish made of leftover vegetables and potatoes mashed and fried together until crisp. What is the connection to Ireland? The Irish claim it as well. Good enough for me!

We have traditionally enjoyed Corned Seitan and Cabbage on this holiday, but, truthfully, I wanted something else - not to mention that David requests Corned Cabbage throughout the year and does not feel restricted to the wearing of the green.

As written, this Jamie Oliver dish is not - not! - low fat in any way. This is obviously not a Food Revolution meal. A bit of recipe translation: A knob is a tablespoon and a glug is a couple of tablespoons. He asks you to use a glug of olive oil to fry your potatoes. No need, folks. The potatoes absorb the oil anyway and then you need to add more. Skip most of the oil, use a well seasoned cast iron pan or nonstick and your potatoes and root vegetables will brown just fine.

Since the sausage was the bit of creative element for this FNF, I made my Corned Seitan but rolled it into links. This maintained my tradition of having Corned Seitan on St. Patty's and tasted really good to boot.

The onion gravy calls for 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar. This would not be a big deal, except Jamie does not reduce it any. This had me raise a Vulcan eyebrow.

Ultimately, the gravy was a little too thick, so I added another half cup of broth. The acidity would have been a bit much alone, but with the rest of the dish, it worked beautifully. This must be why he has a TV show and I have a blog.

I used baby arugula, dressed with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper for the greens.

Delicious meal.

Cost Breakdown

corned sausage: $4
potatoes, leek, turnip, carrot: $4
onion, arugula: $3
chestnuts: $4 (and on sale!)
flour, herbs, vinegar, stock: $2
Total to make 6 servings:

Mar 17, 2011

roly poly sandwiches

Here is a delicious concept for a restaurant: wraps. Not just ordinary wraps, but grilled panini-style wraps. That is Roly Poly Sandwiches. The fillings are fresh (I'm only counting the veggies, folks) and the creativity is great.

When we lived in Dallas, we lived near a Roly Poly, hence my initiation to the sandwich shop. Naturally, the pickings were slim for a vegan, and most of the sandwiches had to be taken home to 'doctor', but that was the way to discover the ins and outs of the roly magic.

Since it is much more economical to make one of these at home than to pay full price for a quarter of the fillings, we have been making these Roly sandwiches in our kitchen for years.

The method is really simple: go to their website, find a sandwich you would like to have, sub the meat for the optimal veggie ingredient, roll, grill in a cast iron pan with another pan over it, flip and repeat. Dig in.

I chose to make #71, Chipotle Chicken, using a veggie burger for the chicken. Tender Seitan cutlets would have worked even better, but you work with what you have. I used Tofu Bacon for the bacon (Fakin' Bakin' would have been nice, too), Daiya for the cheeses, veganaise mixed with enough chipotle adobo sauce for my taste (a lot!) and used some vegan ranch I had in the fridge.

There were a few reasons I chose to make this sandwich: one, I love chipotle; two, I had a burger in the freezer; three, I had made BLT's a few days before and had some of the tofu bacon left; four, there was vegan ranch in the fridge as well. See? I only had to make the chipotle veganaise.

Kate's sandwich was #13, Hot Honey. I used Tofurkey slices, Daiya, Tofu Bacon, tomato slices (use the sun-dried if you have it) and skipped the spinach. For the Honey Mustard Sauce, mix some maple syrup with a little Dijon mustard and veganaise.

Cost Breakdown:

wraps: $.50
burger, Tofurkey: $2
Daiya: $.50
tomato, spinach, chipotle: $1
veganaise, Dijon, maple: $.50
tofu bacon: $.50
Total to make 2 sandwiches:

#71 - Chipotle 'Chicken'

#13 - Hot Honey, without spinach

Mar 10, 2011

vietnamese spring rolls

Asian Night

Tonight's meal was a Vietnamese Spring Roll with a quick peanut dipping sauce.

Those papery-spring roll wrappers have had their share of bullying. Many people, including me, have been beaten by them. That is unnecessary, though. You just have to know a few tricks and you can pull off delicious spring rolls. Once you have some easy insight into rice-paper-wrapper-secrets, there is no end to the creative possibilities.

My rolls have jicama, pepper, mint, basil, chive, cucumber, bean thread and carrot in them. You can put anything in them you want: lettuce leaves, tofu, cilantro, nuts, mushrooms, etc. The list goes on.

What tends to be intimidating with the rice paper is the soaking: soak it too long, the sheet literally dissolves. Soak it not long enough and you are eating paper.

You need to have your water pretty warm and dip your rice paper wrapper into it. Only dip it long enough for it to become pliable, so you can roll it and not have it break. There is no need for it to be soft enough to eat at this point. Place it on your board, fill it moderately, wrap half way, folding both ends in, add a few julienned pieces of veggies, sticking out over the edge and finish rolling. The moisture in the veggies will finish softening the paper to a perfect consistency.
No more guesswork.

Cost Breakdown

rice paper, bean thread: $2
carrot, pepper, jicama, cuke: $3
herbs: $1.25
peanut sauce: $.75
Total to make 15 rolls:

Mar 6, 2011

brewpub tater-tot pie

Rounding off the PPK week of American Vegan Kitchen we nod a bit to homeschoolers - I made Tami's Brewpub Tater-Tot Pie, a variation of which the Duggars are famous for.

When we first started homeschooling, we were enthralled by a show - 14 Kids and Pregnant - or some such title. It was about a homeschooling family (which is what appealed to me). This was shown on TLC and since then the family has had 5 more kids and acquired a TV series, 19 Kids and Counting. Since then I have lost all respect for TLC (hint: Palin, the Wolf-killer). As for the Duggars, their contribution to our family was limited to their Tater-Tot Casserole - a concoction of ground meat, condensed canned mushroom soup and fried, molded potatoes. Surprisingly, they endorse a cookbook titled, Two Sisters Cookbook - a vegan cookbook.

I know I need not say this, but Tami's version dwarfs the Duggars'. In fact, Tami's version is more a play on Sheppard's Pie with tater-tots than a Duggar's version of cheap food.
No offense meant.

I changed up the tots - Tami calls for one pound of tots, cut in half. I used two pounds, whole. I think she specified this in her book to lower the calorie and fat content, but I know my kids and they thought I was being skimpy with the tots as it was.
No surprise there.

So, to warp up the book, Tami's is a must have, something I have stated before; while I have not been tempted by most cookbooks, this one, to my benefit, I was tempted by.

Yum. Period.

Cost Breakdown

tater-tots: $4
TVP, spices: $2
carrot, onion, celery: $1.50
tomato paste, broth: $1
Total to make 6 servings:

route 66 seitan sandwich

American Vegan Kitchen brings us another fantastic sandwich. Tami has the best sandwiches eva! This one is a seitan sandwich that was easy to make. I kneaded the gluten for a cycle in the bread machine and then rolled pieces out on my cutting board. A tip to help the gluten roll easier is to begin rolling one and set it aside while you finish rolling them all. By the time you get back to your first piece, it will have relaxed and you can roll it some more to get them bigger.

I sauteed these to get them browned and crispy and then sliced them before putting them on the toasted bread. These are garnished with lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo and a sweet pepper and tomato relish. A couple of pickles to top them off and these were scarfed in no time.

The Sandwich Queen strikes again. Thanks, Tami!

Cost Breakdown:

seitan: $3
buns: $3
lettuce, tomato, pickles: $2
veganaise, relish: $.75
Total to make 8 sandwiches:

Mar 5, 2011

chinatown scramble and coffee cake


For today's brunch I continued to cook from American Vegan Kitchen for the Post Punk Kitchen Cookbook challenge and made Chinatown Scramble and Hubby's Home Fries. Mikel and Kate chose the scramble and I chose the home fries - you can't go wrong with anything endorsed by Jim.

The scramble calls for mushrooms, peppers, scallions, five-spice, bean sprouts and snap peas. I had a few adjustments to make, and as it was it was kick-butt-good; I'm sure if I had had the snap peas, bean sprouts and shiitaki, it would have been even better. David totally loved this and kept going back to the pan for more.

As predicted, Jim's Home Fries were fantastic. It is as simple as you can get with potatoes, but that is part of what makes them perfect. Even Cat, my picky potato person, loved it.

For a little bit of sweet I made Around-the-Clock Coffee Cake. I love coffee cake and this one lived up to my expectations. I added a half package of chocolate chips I had lying around.

A big typo here, though!
The pan the cookbook calls for is a 9 inch square pan. This is way too small and the batter needed to be baked in 2 such pans or equivalent. I wound up with half the cake on the bottom of my oven, so make sure to use a big enough pan. In any case, the outcome was worth a little mess - although the kids were disappointed to have lost half their sweet.

My pan was not deep enough, which is where my error, not AMK's error, was. I did wind up with half of the cake on the bottom of my oven, but that was because of my own fault, not American Vegan Kitchen's. My deepest regret to calling fire in the middle of a packed theatre and sounding a false alarm. Lesson learned the most difficult way: with cake on my face, as well as the oven.
My apologies, Tami!

Cost Breakdown

tofu: $2
spices, herbs: $1
onion, garlic, pepper: $2
mushroom, lime: $1
peas, ginger: $1
potato: $3
Total to make 5 serving of both:

Mar 4, 2011

21st century tacos

Continuing with the American Vegan Kitchen and PPK cookbook challenge, today's dinner was 21st Century Tacos.

These are made with TVP granules, tomato sauce and spices.

Yeah, well, who does not know how to make a simple taco? and what is so special about this taco recipe? I was thinking the same thing when I was perusing her recipes. Luckily, I needed something pretty simple and quick to make and so I thought a taco recipe was ideal.

Like most of Tami's recipes, this one delivered with ease, simplicity and flavor. These surprised me. I thought I was going to make your old run-of-the-mill tacos, and instead I made a spicy (to taste), flavorful and totally gourmet taco filling. The toppings, of course, are up to you. I put lettuce, tomato, sour cream (vegan), olives and onions on mine. Fabulous!

I sauteed the reconstituted TVP before I added the tomato sauce to enhance the flavor more.

A note about Tami's recipes: while the list of ingredients are longer, most of the ingredients are spices and flavorings that need to be added at the same time. Just measure them into a small container and add them when needed.
When 7 out of the 10 ingredients are spices, the list only seems long.

Cost Breakdown

taco shells: $3
TVP: $1
tomato sauce, spices and flavorings: $3
toppings:  $2
onion, garlic, peppers: $1
Total to make 12 tacos;

Mar 3, 2011

italian big bowl

What do you get when you mix Post Punk Kitchen with American Vegan Kitchen?

One fabulous week of Tami's recipes!

PPK has been hosting Cookbook Kitchen 2 - cooking from cookbooks each week for a total 12 weeks. I have been holding out to join during AVK's turn and here it is.

First up is Italian Big Bowl.

This is the prime place to use the pasta sauce to infuse flavor into the noodles. Just add the noodles to the sauce along with a cup or two of the pasta cooking water and cook the whole thing together for a few minutes. This pasta contains sausage (I used Gimme Lean), fennel seeds, tomato paste, red peppers, olives, capers and I threw in some spinach leaves.

De-licious! Like most of Tami's recipes, this is another one that is fast and simple.

Cost Breakdown

sausage: $3
tomato, garlic, olives, capers, veg. broth:  $2
pasta: $3
spinach, spices: $2
Total to make 5 servings:

FNF - ligurian fish stew

Another round of FOOD NETWORK FRIDAY!

It is again that time - time for Tami to remind me that another month has passed. This time around the American Vegan Kitchen author and her cohorts have chosen Lingurian Fish Stew by Giada de Leurentiis.
A fish stew!
A vegan fish stew?!
Who's smoking what over there?

To omit the 'fish' part would be like making a vegetable tomato stew, so that, as tempting as it was, was not an option for me.

To make vegan fish, there are two approaches: either go for the texture or the flavor of fish. I chose to do both.

On another FNF challenge, I made a seitan fish, but this time I wanted to use tofu. The texture of the fish in this dish I am imagining would be flaky and tender - tofu was the best option. I needed to get the tofu to hold together well enough that I wouldn't wind up with broken bits and pieces of tofu floating in the stew.

I used my Tofu Xpress to press the tofu for about an hour. It is amazing how well that contraption works in as little as an hour. Then I poached the tofu slices in olive oil on low for 15 minutes. I infused some sea flavor into the olive oil by adding some dulse and Old Bay seasoning. The dulse becomes crispy after a few minutes and then I used it to garnish the stew. Nice flavors! In fact, if you are a seaweed phobe, dulse is the place to start. Out of the many seaweeds I have tried, dulse, when used in moderation, has the nicest flavor.

To finish the stew (after following most of Giada's recipe), I drizzled some of the poaching olive oil over the stew since it was already infused with the sea flavor.

Really very good. Mikel, David and I polished off the stew and were pleasantly surprised at the flavor and texture of the tofu. It was not intense or unpleasant and just right.

Cost Breakdown

tofu: $2
dulse, spices: $1
garlic, onion, carrot, wine: $1
tomato: $3
olive oil: $1
bread: $2
Total to make 5 servings:

VEG-Aside: So where have I been? As busy as I have been this year, it seems I have been the busiest complaining. As I recall, I have the same amount of hours per day that Einstein, Newton, King, and Jefferson had; I have no excuse.

I have been quite overwhelmed with homeschooling, pre-teen and teen activities and getting ready for my first vegetarian (shh... really vegan) presentation at our Illinois homeschool conference and a sundry of other minor time-consuming tasks. It seems one thing after another just keeps happening - as I am sure is the case with everyone else.

 I will endeavor to be more consistent here on! I also plan on getting more personal or cover non-food topics in these Veg-Aside sections of posts - ignore if you aren't interested!