Feb 28, 2012

vine and dine + cassoulette

The final dish for Tami's Vine and Dine from Bryanna Clark Grogan's fabulous new cookbook, World Vegan Feast, is Cassoulette. This meal is a veganized version of the original French dish, which uses beans along with a variety of fatty meats. Bryanna uses vegan sausage, carrots, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes to achieve an equally complex and flavorful dish. I had no technical problems with the recipe and the flavors were great. Although the ingredients list is a bit long, as Bryanna put it, the recipe is easy to prepare. 

As for the wine, I'll hand it over to David, but I want to insert my two cents first. I did not think our wine added anything to the meal. By itself, it was a nice mellow wine, but with the meal, it was just okay. Unlike the few other times we have paired wine with food, this time it didn't enhance the flavors of the meal. I was beginning to think that wine always added or complemented the meal - until now. With this one, David and I didn't really see eye to eye. Wine disagreement!

The wine I chose to pair with the Cassoulette was the 2010 Orleans Hill California Organic Syrah.  This was a full bodied wine with a little earthiness and just a hint of pepper.  A little on the sweet side, until your pallet adjusts, but it worked quite well with the Cassoulette which enhanced the peppery flavor of the wine. 

Feb 22, 2012

"the inspired vegan" + gumbo zav

Bryant Terry, who authored Vegan Soul Kitchen, has come out with another great cookbook, The Inspired Vegan.  I love Southern style of cooking and I love the cover of his new cookbook. You can feel the nonchalant, care-free and supremely content attitude of Terry. Super cool. It basically foretells the flavor and rhythm of the recipes in the book. The recipes are also seasonal, which is totally up my CSA-alley. Those boxes that you get are all about the seasons and recipes that utilize those foods are not only more nutritious, but are needless to say, more locally grown. 

The first recipe I made was a winter gumbo, Gumbo Zav. This dish was packed with greens - mustard, collard, kale, chard - really any bounty that the cooler months offer. You can tell by the picture that it was chock full of these leafy greens. Nothing less than sensational and nothing less than what I expect Terry to deliver. 

Cost Breakdown

 collards, mustard, kale, spinach: $11
garlic, onion, flour: $1
stock, herbs: $3
Total to make 8 servings:

Feb 17, 2012


It just may be that by the time I post all of the Chinese New Year meals, the next Chinese New Year will be upon us. I'll make this the last recipe from this particular week, and am only posting it because these Potstickers were darned fine! Especially for having contained TVP, which can have an adverse taste. I made about 40 wrappers and they were loved by the family. A bit of rice and the dipping sauce was really all this needed to make it a complete meal. Many appetizers are just fine as main dishes with the addition a few extra sides. 

My family likes the steam-fried potstickers. Making these little guys really is just as easy as making any meal as long as you have an assembly line going. Fill 5 wrappers at once, pleat all 5 before proceeding and place them on a floured tray while you complete the rest. Have the dipping sauce ready before you even begin because once you have these cooked, the masses will be scarfing them before you have a chance to even gather the ingredients.

To cook potstickers, have your pan very hot, add some oil, add your potstickers, flat side down, and cook until golden. Then add 1/4 cup water, cover with a lid and cook for  a few more minutes until the wrappers are done. Crispy and delicious! Like these...

Feb 10, 2012

FNF + reuben meatball sliders

Ground meat formed into a patty = burger
Ground meat formed into a loaf = meatloaf
Ground meat formed into a ball = meatball
Ground meat formed into small balls = polpettini
Ground meat stuffed into a casing = sausage

Any other way to name or make something that is essentially just ground meat?

This month's Food Network Friday, brought to us by the very talented Tami Noyes of Vegan Appetite, is, you guessed it, a form of ground meat, Reuben Meatball Sliders. Now, I can totally see the appeal of this recipe - Reuben. Name anything a Reuben and the folks over at Vegan Appetite will hear its calling. I am no exception and have made my fair share of the sauerkraut sandwich. This 'Reuben' is the ground meat version of our beloved dish.

The chef who created this spin on an old classic, Jeff Mauro, is the latest Food Network Star winner. He has us adding the cheese into the ground meat, along with the rye bread in the form of breadcrumbs. So far so good. Naturally, he loses me at the ground flesh and eggs. No problem. We'll just make our own ground plants in lieu of the animal parts and eat a better burger as a result. 

As a nod to Jeff, however, he did manage to make tofu delicious during one of the Star challenges, which Paula Dean, who is now diabetic and is pushing pharmaceutical drugs to 'treat' the very same diabetes that her diet no doubt plays a huge part in perpetuating if not outright causing, found delicious. If only she'd adopt tofu instead of bacon as a staple.


The sauerkraut and the 1,000 Island Dressing go on top of his meatballs and the whole thing is between slider buns. To veganize the slider, I made a 'burger,' only smaller. I used black beans and gluten in this one because I wanted to take a break from adding tofu to my burgers. Except for adding some pickle relish to the burger, the only thing I changed was the meat, eggs and used vegan dairy. Otherwise, this is a darned fine sandwich and I am getting some really great experience making vegan burgers.  

Feb 5, 2012

vine and dine + lentil and rapini stew

This selection of Vine and Dine, courtesy of Tami Noyes, is straight out of Bryanna Clark Grogan's new World Vegan Feast cookbook. The selection, Lentil and Rapini Stew with Vegan Sausage, was excellent! David and I both love rapini and this was no exception. This is a simple recipe with really great flavors. I found it needed more broth than just the 2 cups called for in the recipe, but that might have been because my lentils were a little old (I had to use both French and brown varieties) and  they needed a bit longer to cook.

Also, since I love my rapini with tons of garlic, I added a few more cloves to the onions when they were cooking than the four that Bryanna calls for. Since David is not averse to garlic, this works out just fine. 

This is the third recipe I've made from this cookbook and it continues to impress. Great choice, Tami.

Here is David with the wine:

Tonight’s Lentil and Rapini Stew turned out to be hearty fare with bold flavors!  The fact that the wife added 20 cloves of garlic instead of the 4 that were called for may have capitalized Bold but we both love garlic.  We chose an organic La Rocca Vinyards, 2008 Chenin Blanc to pair with the earthy flavor of the lentils and the spiciness of the vegan sausage.  We were surprised by how well the complex structure of the wine, combined with it’s light hint of fruit (it made me think of pears as I savored the first glass) truly enhanced the bold and earthy flavors of the stew.  We don’t usually partake of white wines but, on this occasion, I’m glad we did because it turned out to be a delightful accompaniment for the evening’s meal.

dan dan noodles

Dan Dan Noodles is a Chinese Sichuan dish consisting of noodles, preserved vegetables, pork, green onions, chili oil and Sichuan peppers in a spicy broth.

As I researched this very traditional dish, I found that the Sichuan peppers are a must and a highly sought after ingredient. It is supposed to be a 'peppercorn' so spicy that it numbs the mouth and tickles the tummy. So, off I went eagerly in search of this supposedly elusive, and at times banned, "peppercorn." The peppercorn is really the outer part of a tiny fruit. I was able to find it at a small Oriental Market in our town (I believe the ban on importing it is no longer in effect, but don't quote me.).

I made the Dan Dan Noodles using seitan and a vegetable broth souped up with chili oil and flavored with ginger, garlic and sherry. I went in for the winning shot and added plenty of Sichuan peppers, and eagerly awaited the promised elation that accompanies these peppercorns slamming against the palate. I awaited the fire that consumes your mouth and leaves it tingling ...and then....

Not much. Tingle, yes. But no fire. I figured I hadn't added enough peppercorns, so I added more and more until my plate had more ground peppercorns than seitan. 

What a let down. I suppose this happens when the reality doesn't live up to the expectations. Therein lies your lesson; be on the lookout for the Sichuan peppers and if you find them, add them to your Dan Dan Noodles. However, in my opinion, the peppers, while being truly exotic, detracted from the flavor of the dish, so don't hold off making this in hopes of attaining some miraculous flavor component; you might be as disappointed as I was. 

I made the noodles without the peppers and very little chili oil for the kids so I know the dish without it is really tasty, but if you can get your hands on them, go for it - there really is nothing like tasting a traditional ethnic dish with all the unique flavors it is supposed to posses. Just don't set yourself up for failure - keep your expectations in check. 

Cost Breakdown

stock, tamari, peanut butter, vinegar: $3
chili oil, sesame oil, sugar, Sichuan peppers: $1
garlic, ginger, preserved veg: $1
seitan, sherry: $2
noodles: $2
Total to make 5 servings:

Feb 2, 2012

steamed buns

Chinese New Year is here! Kate has been very excited. This is her year - the Year of the Dragon. Although we missed the massive cleaning that is supposed to take place fifteen days before the start of the New Year, we can still celebrate with some traditional Chinese fare, as well as, perhaps, some not so traditional ones. 

If you do not have Bryanna Clark Grogan's Authentic Chinese Cuisine, I trust by next Chinese New Year it will be on your shelf. It makes vegan Chinese cooking versatile and complete. 

My kids love Steamed Buns and so this was on top of their list. Well, I wound up not steaming them because ... uh, I didn't want to. Bryanna said it was okay to bake them, so I did. They were filled with a curry 'chicken', for which the recipe is also in her book. Although I had made dozen and a half of the buns the day before so I wouldn't have to cook the following day's lunch, by morning two-thirds of the buns were gone. It must have been that Dragon, I am sure, who had been quite hungry after 12 years of slumber. 
Or my kids.

Feb 1, 2012

enchitaco + enchinacho

Enchiladas are another one of those meals that everyone always wants at our house. I know if they get it as often as they wish for it, they'll get tired of it - and then there goes a tried-and-true.

So I put another spin on the enchilada, while making it easier to make, to boot. For some reason my family has not been so hot about tacos; another of those over-made meals, I suppose. Or maybe I just haven't jazzed it up enough. I blame this on them, too. Whenever I have the slightest variation in an old favorite, I get called on the carpet, "It's not the same!"

Not that that ever stops me.

This variation of the enchilada is to make it into a taco, hence Enchitaco. I cooked the beans with the enchilada sauce, melted some cheese (Daiya) into it at the end, layered it into a hard taco shell, added lettuce, tomato, olives, sour cream (Tofutti) and a bit more sauce.

This was so well received that when we ran out of hard shells, we made Enchinachos - same idea, but layered onto warmed tortilla chips. By the time I got the camera set up again to take a pic of it, it was all gone. I should have photographed the empty plate, but that would have been just plain mean.
 Oh! man was this good!
 Isn't there some football thing coming up? This is a great version of the nachos if you're thinking of feeding anyone. 

Cost Breakdown

oil, onion, flour, spices: $1
tomato sauce: $2
beans, corn: $5
Daiya, tofutti: $3
nacho chips or shells: $3
olives, lettuce, peppers: $2
Total to make 16 tacos: