Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fried Eggplant

Are you a fan of down-home cooking? Do you love greasy food on occasion? All the time? Then you'll love this easy fried dish.

The alien-looking purple fruit goes by many names: Eggplant, Aubergine, Brinjal, etc. But it's always the same... fulfilling and oh so satisfyin'. The eggplant has a flavor all its own. It's a little creamy, a little sweet, and definitely mild-flavored.

Slice that mofo up, dredge it in soy milk then breadcrumbs, and then fry in about a ton of oil. It's pretty easy. Drain browned slices on paper towels and serve with rice, on a sandwich, or with pasta sauce. YUM.

Paul and Linda McCartney Split Pea Soup

The unassuming little green orb we call the pea has been grown and cultivated as far back as 500 or 400 BCE. At that time, ancient Greeks were selling hot pea soup from their street-side vendors. I know...who knew, right? Ever since then, there have been variations on this soup from Nordic to Anglo to Teutonic cultures (basically, hella white people).

Yeah, white people love pea soup and I'm no exception. It's hearty, flavorful, and comforting. The pea, like other legumes, impart a meaty flavor and feeling in the stomach. Unfortunately, the awesome pea soup reputation has been damaged by ingredients like ham and bacon. Why would someone ruin such a good soup with the tears of a pig? I dunno, but I'm out to change that. If you want a smoky flavor, don't cut up an innocent pig, just add a couple drops of liquid smoke (found in the condiment aisle at grocery stores).

Paul and Linda McCartney were fans of peace. As an extension to their mission of peace, they were also vegans who loved a good pea soup. At least I think so. This recipe was inspired by one that was dedicated to them.

1/2 lb split peas
1/4 lb orange lentils
1 1/2 large onions, quartered
4 stalks celery, including leaves, rinsed & chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled
2 leeks, white part only, cut into 1-inch chunks
5 cups water (about)
soy margarine to taste
crushed black peppercorns
sea salt

Place split peas, lentils, onions, celery, tomatoes and leeks in large pot and cover with water.
Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer about 1-1/2 hours, until split peas and lentils are soft.
Add margarine and stir until melted.
Add peppercorns and sea salt to taste.
Serves 8

Monday, January 12, 2009

You Must Try This Lentil Curry

I've been trying to save money by eating more simply and I was looking for a hearty meal with not too many ingredients. I love lentils and I have a whole kitchen drawer devoted to only lentils and grains. I came across a recipe on recipezaar.com that really came to the rescue. I went shopping to get some veggies for the dish and the total for the whole recipe is probably less than $10. I served the curry on top of the Saffron-Garlic Rice from Veganomicon (I didn't have saffron and it's super expensive, so I simply used some turmeric). This curry is sooooo good, easy, and healthy, you just have to try it for yourself.

1 cup lentils (red, green, or brown work fine)
4 cups vegetable stock
1 medium onion (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (chopped or minced)
2 medium carrots, roughly diced
2 celery ribs, roughly diced
1/2 small head cabbage, sliced in 1/2" strips
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
3 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
salt and pepper

Rinse lentils in strainer and sort through, removing debris. Heat 1 TBS broth in medium soup pot. Saute onion in broth over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring frequently, until translucent. Add garlic, carrots, celery, and cabbage. Continue to sauté for another couple of minutes. Add curry powder and mix to bring out its flavor. Add rinsed and drained lentils, broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered until lentils and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Add cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice, naan, or other carbohydrate side.

Fresh and Fast Breakfast

I'm definitely a fan of simple foods. The easier the meal the better although sometimes the easier foods are those which are overly processed and packaged. So after visiting the farmer's market and getting some local apples and walnuts, I made this breakfast of:

-Two fuji apples (cored and chopped)
-1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
-1 or 2 tsp. cinnamon

I was surprised at how filling it was and it gave me a great kick for the rest of the day.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Food Après the Holidays

The holidays are now over and I'm kind of glad. This time of year can be really stressful. You're always thinking "what if they don't like my gifts?" or "do I bring champagne to the New Year's party or will they already have some?" Anyway that's all behind me and I've been getting in the kitchen quite a bit lately.

I go through periods of lazy cooking where I just have vegan sausages and salad, bean burritos, or just a bowl of tater tots. I'm sort of in the middle of one of these lazy periods right now but I've found some time to make a meal that takes longer in the kitchen.

Just an hour after midnight on New Year's I left my friend's house to go back home. The streets were completely deserted until.....I arrive at my tiny street with 5 buildings on it and there are 8 police cars and a fire truck. There were so many that I couldn't get my car through to park in my driveway. Of fucking course, right? At least the building wasn't on fire though. Probably just some harmless murder or something.

Some things I've made recently worth blogging about:

Lunch at work one day (english muffins, cilantro hummus, tomatoes, and cucumbers)

Tofu Scramble with Vegan Italian Sausage

Spicy Black Bean Patties with Salsa and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Tofu and Broccoli with Hoisin Sauce (recipe from Vegan Fire and Spice by Robin Robertson)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The space between Xmas and New Year's

It's now the weekend after Christmas and I am really happy because it's such a long weekend off work. But then again, I've never been more bored in my life. I've been talking to the most amazing man in the world over the internet, but he's out of town to visit his family, so I really have nothing to do other than watch movies, read, cry, clean, and eat. God, I'm pathetic. Help me now.

Anyway, in all this boredom and misery I still got out of the house today and went to the farmer's market and got a few great things. I bought some Indian samosas with cilantro chutney, fruits and veg, and a loaf of sourdough baguette that I devoured in like 5 hours. Help me now.

I got around to make a Chickpea Salad that I've been spying in "Vegan A Go Go" by Sarah Kramer. It's super simple, and as I've been extremely lazy with cooking lately, it was an easy choice.

Chickpea Salad from "Vegan A Go Go", steamed green beans, and sourdough baguette:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm A Garlic Whore

Your result for What Spice Are You Test...

You are Garlic!

0% Habanero, 30% Sage, 0% Thyme, 0% Ginger, 40% Garlic, 10% Curry, 10% Cinnamon and 10% Oregano!

You can be both mellow and sweet.

You are very loved and tend to get along well with people. People remember you! You love to help people and want to feel useful.

You may sometimes have a tendancy to talk a bit too much, but you also don't mind listening to other people either. You hate it when you become engrossed in your own problems, and you can often feel guilty.

You don't have a desire to lead, normally, and you don't mind taking directions and lending a hand. You have a generous spirit and a kind heart.

You are more than likely very attractive, but you would never stop to admit it. You do notice the positive qualities in other people, though.

Take What Spice Are You Test
at HelloQuizzy

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Miraculous Tofu Loaf

I know I know. Tofu sounds gross. And the word loaf sounds pretty nasty too. But let me assure you that when you put these too words together they can make a beautiful team. I made the Tip-top tofu loaf recipe from "Vegan A Go Go" by the lovely Sarah Kramer. It's soooo good although the texture comes out a big soft and crumbly. The taste is amazing though. Savory, tangy, exciting! I also made the Cumin Fried Potates from Vegan A Go Go. Seriously, you have to get this book! It's awesome. The food is good, the recipes are easy, and the ingredients are pretty easy to find.

Tip Top Tofu Loaf and Cumin Fried Potatoes:

Gosh it's been a while

WOW! It's been soooo long since I last posted. People have asked me if I stopped being vegan and that's why I haven't posted. That is ridiculous. Vegan for life, baby!! I'm planning on starting to post again, though probably not as frequently as before (every two days or so).

Let me give you a rundown of a couple things I've eaten or made since I last posted:

Vietnamese Crepe:

I got this savory crepe from a local Vietnamese Vegetarian restaurant. I usually go there about once a week when I forget to make something for lunch at work. This crepe was filled with so many plants! But mostly bean sprouts which was a little odd. It came in plastic, not styrofoam, so I was able to recycle it. Can I get a "hell yeah" for the Earth?!

Cucumber Radish Salad:

Damn, I made this awhile ago but it's basically a Japanese cucumber-radish salad. I marinated the veggies with tamari, ginger, garlic, and a bit of sesame oil, then topped with sesame seeds. Pretty good but I was burping radish flavor for a few hours afterward.

Seitan Tikka Masala:

When I was a meat eater one of my fave dishes was chicken tikka masala. I was eager to find something similar that I could make with vegan ingredients when I came upon a recipe for this sweet deal. It's not exactly the same as the old tikka but it's become one of my favorite dishes now. Did I mention I love seitan?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hello Seitan!!

Seitan, where have you been all my life? Did you think about me even though I was unaware of your existence? I swear tofu and tempeh will be my second best next to you.

I am a new convert to seitanism.

Seitan being "wheat meat" or wheat gluten that's made to resemble a "meaty" product. I have eaten it before in the form of Tofurky sausages but I didn't expect that I could make a similar product at home at half the price.

There's a recipe online that has been spreading like wildfire through vegan blogs and websites. Finally, I caught on!! And I'm so glad that I did.

This is the precooked product:

Wrap that sucker in foil and twist the ends:

After baking and sliced:

Seitan cubed and served in pasta with Ajvar (courtesy of "Vegan Fire and Spice" by Robin Robertson):

Thanks Robin, for the book if you're reading. I love the recipes. I have made the Smooth and Sassy Guacamole and the Ajvar so far. I've been kind of busy lately so I've only made the easy spreads/dips so far but every recipe looks amazing!!

Seitan O'Greatness:

Dry ingredients:
1-1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp pepper (I use 2 tsp)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (you can use 1/8 tsp if you like it less spicy)
1/8 tsp allspice (optional)
2 tsp garlic powder

Wet ingredients:
3/4 cups water
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 325°.

In a large mixing bowl mix dry ingredients. Mix the rest of the ingredients (liquid ingredients) in a smaller mixing bowl. Whisk well until mixed.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead for a minute or two.. it doesn't need long.

Form into a log (6-8" long), wrap tightly in foil, twisting ends. Bake for 90 minutes. When done baking, unwrap and leave out to cool all the way. Then wrap it foil or plastic and refrigerate. Slice to use as desired.

This seitan recipe is great because it's so flippin' easy. Most call for mixing, forming, refrigerating, then boiling in broth. But for this one I only had to mix, form, and bake. Simple! I think next time I'll make two or three logs and freeze them for later use.

Some other foods I've made since last post:

Potato skins:

Cilantro Lentil soup with homemade breadsticks:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Interspecies Love

Now tell me again, why can't we all get along?

This pic was sent to me via email from an online friend across the great Pacific. It got me thinking.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mock Foods

I haven't posted in a couple weeks! Blah! Well we all needed a good rest, huh? Of course, but that didn't stop me from making new foods. I was hellbent on making "mock" products apparently during my time-off. I didn't notice this until right now but I have been cooking up quite a few foods that are vegan, but act like, taste and look like they aren't.

Mock "Chicken" Salad

I made this with Tempeh, the wonder soy product that I really don't buy often enough. I explained to my mother that tempeh is fermented soybean cake she said something like, "EW! That sounds horrible!" But when I thought about it, it's really not that bad. After all, many things that she eats are fermented...perhaps even longer than Tempeh. Cheese is "aged" for months as well as some of her meat products so I don't see why tempeh is all that bad, as it's only fermented for about 48 hours.

Individual "Beef", Onion, and Bell Pepper Empanadas:

I bought some raw wheat pizza dough and formed it into small little discs, then topped them with a mixture of Morningstar "beef" crumbles, taco seasoning, onions, peppers, and an "uncheese" that I made (see below). I folded the dough over and placed the individual pockets on a baking sheet in a 400 deg F oven for about 10 minutes and VOILA!

Gee Whiz "cheese spread" from the "Uncheese Cookbook" by Joanne Stepaniak

This "cheese" was a mix of white beans (I used Great Northern Beans), roasted red bell pepper, nutritional yeast, onion and garlic powder, salt, and some other things. It tasted a lot like nacho cheese or something similar which was interesting. Obviously though, it is much more healthy than processed cheese. Thank Goodness for Gee Whiz!

"Chicken Fried Steak" and Carrot-Tahini Slaw

Robin Robertson, author of "The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook" as well as countless others, has proved herself once again with a recipe mimicking "Chicken Fried Steak." But this fried patty recipe doesn't use chicken gravy or steak; it's all about TOFU! I have to admit that in my meat-eating days I never had a Chicken Fried Steak, but this vegan alternative was darn good, and I just ate it plain...not with gravy or anything!
I accompanied the patties with Carrot-Tahini Slaw that I made from a book called "You Won't Believe It's Vegan." It's a mix of grated carrots, celery, red onion, tahini, lemon juice, salt, SPIKE seasoning, pepper, and dill. It was awesome.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Portabello-Onion Fajitas

My mother used to make fajitas all the time. She would saute onions, peppers, and chicken in a little bit of oil. Then she would add beer to give it a magical flavor all its own. When I was young I always loved fajitas because (A) they were good and (B) because I thought that I would get an alcohol buzz from the beer, although this was never the case.

No more chicken for me though.

I came across a recipe from, once again, from "The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook" by Robin Robertson that was all about Portabello Mushroom slices, Red Onion slices, and a new American craze...chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I have seen the chipotle peppers in adobo featured in quite a few recipes but I never saw them in the store; or maybe I never really looked hard enough. Anyway I found some and bought a can for this recipe.

Now let me tell you... these fajitas kicked my ass two ways from Sunday. I love spicy foods but DAMN this was hot stuff. I never gave in though. The pain was just part of the experience of this awesome dish.

Mushrooms and Onions waitin' to be sauteed:

And the Grand Debut:

Comment for recipe.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cafe Dining at Home

Since I live in the suburban environs of Silicon Valley I often long for the city. Thoughts of the city bring about dreams of easy-going cafe visits and alcoholic drinks in the early afternoon. There's something very European about it. I wish to visit Paris again with it's low-key outdoor dining experience. That brief 3 days that I was in France was memorable because it was a time of leisure; coffee, tea, or warm soda; and light meals.

Today I tried to replicate that feeling of cafe-dining but inside my apartment because the cafes around here are small and filled with immature high-schoolers who have nothing better to do than judge every aspect of a person who comes in their midst.

I made a cafe-inspired meal of Quiche and Spiced, Roasted Potatoes.

Quiche and Tell (recipe from "The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook" by Robin Robertson):

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil, chilled in the refrigerator
2 Tbs. cold water

1 Tbs. grapeseed OR olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, minced (about 1/2 small onion)
One 10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach, cooked according to pkg. directions, drained
1 lb. firm tofu, drained and crumbled
1 cup plain soymilk
1 Tbs. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup vegan mozzarella cheese, grated

For the crust: In a food processor, combine the flour and salt, pulsing to blend. Add the oil and process until the mix is crumbly. Slowly add the water with the machine running, and process until the mix forms a ball. Turn the dough out and flatten into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the filling: Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover and cook until softened, stirring a few times, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the drained spinach, stirring to combine. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Fit it into a 9-inch quiche pan or pie plate. Set aside.
In the food processor, blend the tofu, soymilk, mustard, salt, cayenne, and nutmeg until well-mixed. Spoon the onion-spinach mixture onto the crust and sprinkle the vegan cheese over it. Pour the tofu mixture over the spinach-cheese mix, making sure it's evenly distributed.
Bake until the filling is firm and lightly browned on top, 50 minutes to one hour. Let the quiche cool before slicing and serving.

Oven Roasted Potatoes:

1 large russet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
garlic powder
onion powder
fresh-ground pepper
cayenne pepper
dried rosemary
grapeseed or olive oil

Place cut potatoes into a bowl and drizzle oil over top. Add spices and stir until potatoes are evenly coated with oil and spices. Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Place potatoes on aluminum foil and fold the foil over the potatoes to make a closed pocket. Place foiled potatoes on baking sheet and place in the oven for about 40-50 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and serve.

Last weekend, my friends and I went camping. I ate simple foods like: peanut butter-banana sandwiches, chips and crackers, apples, Shelle's green bean salad, corn, beer and vodka. hehe.

Just thought I'd add a couple pics from the trip:

Me and Mini:

There was a perfectly lovely picture here but Shelle demanded I take it down. 0_o

Jay and Mini:


Mexican Enchilada Bake

Mexican food always brings great memories to me. Being American, international cuisines have always appealed to me because we have no defining, quintessential food that describes us. Sure there are hamburgers, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese; but what fool would dare eat those when there are so many wonderful dishes that were inspired by Latin, Asian, African, Indian, and Middle Eastern cooking.

America is in fact a "melting pot" of culture, cuisine, and language. Unfortunately, it mostly gets lost in the greed of people pursuing high-paying jobs and fancy houses. But one thing holds true to me...that's the flavors of other countries that I try to assemble in my humble "galley-style" kitchen.

I have tried and failed, in the past, to make an Enchilada Casserole. But now I have discovered a great recipe which I know will conquer any Cinco De Mayo north of Tijuana.

I found this recipe on vegcooking.com and it's absolutely amazing.

Enchilada Bake:

12 oz. vegetarian burger crumbles (try Morningstar or Boca brand)
1 packet taco seasoning (make sure it contains no milk products)
2 15.5-oz. cans enchilada sauce
18 corn tortillas
2 15.5-oz. cans pinto beans, drained
2 green onions, chopped
2 cups vegan cheddar cheese, shredded
1 4.5-oz. can diced green chilies
2 cups Fritos corn chips, finely crushed

• Preheat the oven to 375°F.
• In a small bowl, combine the burger crumbles and taco seasoning and set aside.
• Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch pan with oil.
• In layers, spread a generous amount of enchilada sauce, 6 corn tortillas, 2 cans of pinto beans, a handful of green onion, a third of the shredded “cheese,” half the can of green chilies, lots more enchilada sauce, 6 more tortillas, all the seasoned burger crumbles, another third of the “cheese,” the remaining green chilies, more enchilada sauce, then the final 6 tortillas, more enchilada sauce, and the rest of the “cheese.” Cover in foil and bake for 30 minutes.
• Remove the foil, top the entire casserole with the Fritos, and bake for another 15 to 30 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

This recipe serves 6 large portions or 12 small entrees if served with side dishes such as rice or chips and guacamole. Since I live alone I ate this for lunch and dinner for 3 days straight, and I never got sick of it!! It's that good.