Friday, October 14, 2011

Vegan Mofo, Day 14: Crouton, Crouton, Crunchy Friend in a Liquid Broth

Lately I've been craving baked potato soup for some reason. This is strange: I've had baked potato soup, sure, but it's usually a healthier kind of thing, usually with good dose of kale or spinach. Delicious, but not what I've been looking for. I mean like a stuffed baked potato skin in soup form, cheesy and bacony and oniony and good--only without the cheese and bacon. (I should note that I never was a fan of cheese and got over bacon years and years ago, so I really don't know where this was coming from.)

Anyway, I went a-googling and came across this recipe, which is a vegetarianized version of an omni recipe. I had some Daiya on hand for pizza-making (later in the week, if I ever get over this cold), so I figured it was fitting to start and go from there, but I made a few changes along the way: no cauliflower, less cheesiness, and above all, if I'm making a baked potato soup, the potatoes are going to be baked. Here's what I came up with.

Baked Potato Soup, Vegan Style
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 large potatoes, baked, cooled and chopped into ~3/4" chunks
1/2 cup finely chopped broccoli (stalks only is fine)
3 cups vegetable broth
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons flour
1 cup almond milk
6 oz tempeh bacon (I used half of the Vegan Brunch recipe, but whatever your not-bacon preference is is fine)
3 scallion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Daiya vegan cheese (I used mozzarella cause I had it, but cheddar probably makes more sense)

Heat the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat, then saute the onions in it for about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about two minutes more. Add the potatoes and stir them all around before adding the broth, mashing some of the potatoes up with the spoon as you go. Add the broccoli and cover.
Meanwhile you're going to make a roux. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the flour and stir and cook for about two minutes, until it looks gold-ish and smells toasty and delicious. Add the roux, almond milk, broccoli, scallions, salt and pepper to the soup, raise the heat and cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about ten minutes, then add the Daiya "cheese" and cook for five minutes more. Serve with more chopped scallions and some croutons, if that's your thing.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vegan Mofo, Day 13: Soup, A-Soup, A Tasty Soup, A-Soup

    Well Mofo-ers...I'm sick. But unless I'm running a fever or too dizzy to stand, I'm one of those annoying people who waits until a day off and tries to power on through everything they have to do instead of just taking it easy when they notice they're coming down with something. This week, that involved making soup. A lot of it. Which is fitting, because that's all I'll be willing to eat for the next few days anyway.
    First up was the Arabian Lentil and Rice soup from Appetite for Reduction, which is a favorite under-the-weather soup for me. It's super lemony and garlicky and just all-around comforting. This I froze a few servings of for later on. Additionally: cute Halloween-themed ramekins are my new favorite thing. They were like $0.60 each, even.

    Second: split pea soup, which I was a dolt and didn't photograph. It's ugly anyway, and I kind of made it up on the fly based on the recipe on the back of the bag of peas. I split that up with someone and finished my half within two days, it was so yummy.  I brought it with me to school today (Thermos brand food jar, which kept it warm for a good four hours) with a bento of grilled asparagus, crackers, soy yogurt, mango and strawberries.

    And since, like I mentioned, I feel the need to be a hero and keep on working until I fall down, there's a third soup planned for tomorrow. An interesting soup, I think, since it's something I've never had. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Vegan Mofo Day 8: What do you guys eat?

    This is on a list of brainstormed MoFo ideas, and it's a good one. I close at work a lot so I either eat dinner at 10:30 at night, or have leftovers of some kind. See? Vegans are just like other busy people. Generally I don't consider my everyday food bloggable, but hey, people ask me what I eat often enough, so maybe it's worth a shot.

1. Salads!
    Let's get this out of the way. Yes, vegans eat salads, or at least I do. No, they are not boring piles of iceberg lettuce and concentrated sadness. Here's one I do pretty regularly, especially in the summer:

Baby spinach, cucumber, grape tomatoes, carrots, red onion, chickpeas, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and Italian dressing.

2. Stirfry!
    Well, sort of a pseudo-stirfry. I've never been able to  stir fry anything properly, but basically veggies and tofu and rice with some kind of stir fry sauce is a really easy way to make a filling meal.

3. Sandwiches!
    Aside from pb&j (which is a favorite), I really like grilled avocado and tomato with plenty of salt, or even just tofurkey, mustard, lettuce and tomato. I've also been known to go to subway if I don't have time to bring a lunch to work. As for spreads, if you can't imagine a world without mayo, never fear! There's Vegenaise, but you can also experiment with hummus or guacamole: this sandwich has both plus some veggies, and it was pretty satisfying, especially because someone else made it for me.

4. Spaghetti!
    Actually, any kind of pasta, which is so basic to me that I never really thought to take a picture of it. My dad instilled in me that pasta with tomato sauce is the ideal standby food, when you don't know what to make or have much on hand, and there's some truth to that. I'm still trying to get him to realize that homemade sauce is quick and tastier than jarred, but whatever. Tofu balls, "beanballs" or gardien if you have it (I buy it once in a while, when I've got a coupon) are obviously contenders, but if I'm feeling really lazy I'll just throw some cannelini beans into my marinara sauce and have that with whole wheat pasta, garlic bread and broccoli (my default veggie) or zucchini. Bam. Dinner. Done.

5. Bowls!

This is outlined in Appetite for Reduction, but the basic idea is that you have a grain, a vegetable, a bean and a sauce and you mix them up in a bowl and it's tasty. Sometimes I do more veggies, sometimes more than one kind of bean, whatever. Sometimes the sauce is actually guacamole or salsa. Here's a burrito bowl I did that was quinoa, broccoli, salsa, black beans and guacamole.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vegan Mofo Day (oops) 7: Dried Beans

    We all know it's even cheaper to buy your beans dried and cook them instead of buying them in cans, but it's still a pain in the butt if you're busy. You have to remember to soak them the day before you actually need them, stick around the kitchen for two hours while they simmer--and then there's the matter of actually using that many beans before they start to get iffy. So this week when I actually soaked and cooked the chickpeas that I bought instead of forgetting about them, I took note of what was done with them. The pound of dried beans made about six cups.

2~ cups: Chickpea Salad
    Everyone and their vegan grandma has a chickpea salad recipe for sandwiches and whatnot that they like their own special way. Mine is mayo free (never did care for mayo or vegenaise, and besides it's more lunchbox-friendly without) and has a ton of lemon zest, some mustard, onion, celery and raisins, plus olive oil (a lot) and lemon juice to hold it together. I eat it in paninis or with triscuit-type crackers and veggies for a light bento.

~2 cups: Hummus
    My hummus preference is pretty bare bones--I just use a head of roasted garlic instead of a few cloves of fresh.

~2 cups: Falafel
    These were baked, and half of them were frozen for later cooking and eating. I actually didn't make them, my friend did, so thank you Jordan.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Vegan MoFo, Day 3: Indian Food

   Indian food! Oh man. Veganism expanded my culinary horizons in a lot of ways, but the biggest of those was introducing me to food from other countries, and of those, Indian food might be my favorite. And why not? It's super-easy to find recipes for curries, samosas and other dishes that rely on lentils and beans for protein, rather than having to sub in familiar but expensive faux meats or scary (to a brand new vegan) tofu, tempeh or seitan. And there's nothing quite like a kitchen that smells like curry powder and garam masala, especially after a steady diet of Boca burgers and french fries.
   I do have one mildly embarrassing confession: I am the hugest wimp about spicy. I've gotten better about it with time, but I just don't understand the appeal of feeling like your tongue is on fire. This is an issue with Indian food, obviously; it's nothing if not spicy. Usually I reduce the amount of chili peppers, red pepper flakes or what have you in a recipe and up other spices like cumin and ginger, but with this recipe I decided to grow up a little and deal with it.
   Oh wow.

   First off, she's not kidding: Isa Moskowitz's Cashew Vegetable Korma makes an absolute fork-ton of food. I used an 8.5 quart stock pot to make mine and it was filled right up to the top. Luckily this is even more delicious the next day and my friends like curry, but I'll still halve the recipe next time.

   Pakoras! These are spinach and a little less free-form than they should be, but they were yummy. I got a frying thermometer for my birthday, and I don't know how I lived without one for twenty-one years. Having pakoras available at pretty much all times is worth getting a frying thermometer, if you don't have one already.
   And one more curry, for which I unfortunately don't have a photo. I made it tonight and I'm eating it right now, but my camera's dead and, well, curry isn't really all that pretty to look at. It sure is tasty though. This is my basic recipe using things I pretty much always have on hand. I love red lentils in curry because they dissolve and make a really nice creamy base for the curry. This is really versatile so go ahead and add peas or cauliflower or whatever you have around.

Red Lentil Curry

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger (I got this out of a little less than an inch long piece of ginger)
2 Tablespoons curry powder (if your curry is really strong you might need much less)
1/2 Tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a little extra for the onions
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
pinch of red pepper flakes

4 cups vegetable broth, or half broth half water
3 medium yukon gold potatoes, chopped
10 oz baby carrots, halved lengthwise

1 1/2 cups red lentils

Heat the oil in a large-ish saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute for about ten minutes--they should give up some of their water and be soft and a bit translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another minute, then the spices and saute for another thirty seconds or so. Add the vegetable broth and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to make sure any bits of ginger, garlic or spice that are stuck to the bottom are scraped up. Add the potatoes and carrots, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about ten minutes. Add the lentils and stir well to make sure they're evenly incorporated, and simmer for about half an hour, until they're soft and mushy. Serve with whatever kind of rice you have on hand.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 1: Oh, New Eng-land.

    Last year some time in early September, some friends and I went apple picking. Rookie mistake: it was way too early in the season. We did buy plenty of apples, and they were delicious, but there were only a few varieties available, and the apples were still pretty small.

    This year we know better and held off until today: conveniently, day one of Vegan Mofo, the perfect excuse to kick my un-blogging ass back into gear. We went to Holmberg Orchards, where there were also bosc pears and pumpkins, as well as a cute little orchard store with all kinds of goodies (few of which are vegan, I think they have some nice herbal tea though.)
    Do you know what $22 worth of apples looks like? Well neither do I, because a few got eaten before I could get them all together, and it's not really worth it to find a clear surface big enough to arrange them all. But it's a whole lot of apples. Most of them are Jonathan apples, but there are also Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and a few Winesap apples.
    It's been a long time since I've baked much of anything, but looking around on the internet I didn't find an apple bread recipe that really suited my tastes--I wanted something using grated apple, lots of spice and whole grains. What I made up on the fly is alright but needs some tweaking, there'll be a recipe in a week or two.

    And of course, applesauce. If you've never made your own applesauce, you need to get your butt into the kitchen and do it right now. Peel and cut up a few apples, put them in a pot with some water--not enough to cover-- cook over medium heat with cinnamon and lemon zest until everything's mushy and then take a potato masher to it. Add sweetener if you need to, but depending on how sweet your apples are, you might not want to.

   Here are four apples of different varieties, peeled and coarsely chopped, with about half a lemon's worth of zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I added maybe a quarter cup of water to it and it was WAAAAY too much, so it really does vary. There are some great recipes available if you need more guidance than that (the one in Yellow Rose Recipes is really good) but trust me, it really is that easy. You probably will eat the jarred stuff again because it's convenient and good to have around for baking with, but you'll wish you had homemade instead.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Nutty Vegetable Fried Rice

It may be obvious, but I'm going to say it anyway: this is not authentic Chinese food. This is not even close to authentic Chinese food. This is authentic "Oh God, what's for dinner, I'm hungry" food when there's some leftover rice in the fridge.
Weird confession? I like broccoli to be soft and steamed when the rest of the veggies are still a little crisp. If you're less weird than me, small pieces of raw broccoli work fine.

Nutty Vegetable Fried Rice
Serves 4

1 T canola oil
1/2 t sesame oil
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 yellow or green squash, halved and sliced
3 oz baby carrots, sliced
3 cups steamed broccoli
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen edamame
1 cup cooked brown rice
1-2 t soy sauce (to taste)
1 t mirin
1/4 cup chopped cashews
sesame seeds for garnish

Heat the canola and sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and stir fry for two or three minutes, then add the onions. Continue to cook until the onions are beginning to look soft, then add the squash and carrots. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the broccoli, corn, and edamame and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the rice, stir everything to incorporate, then add the soy sauce and mirin. Finally, add the cashews and cook for another minute or so. Tada! Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you're feeling fancy.