Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year's Resolution #239: Blog More Often

Wow. Two months later, we remember - we have a blog. Not that we completely forgot, but boy has it been easy to just stick a frozen pizza in the oven or go out to eat with the family or with friends. But, we now have high motivation to get back on track with the cooking: our grocery bill has notably risen, and let's just say those splurges on honey roasted peanuts or half-priced Christmas candy haven't helped our figures.
So, in celebration of my (Tamar) immune system shutting down for the second time this winter season, we present to you our first recipe of 2010: a hearty vegetable stew, greatly inspired by a good cook and friend of ours. It's simple, cheap, and - with enough spice - helped clear my sinuses for a heavenly 15 minutes.

Hearty Winter Stew (vegan)
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 eggplant, peeled if not organic (waxy? Yeah, that's from the chemicals) and diced
1 pint mushrooms, cut into mid-sized chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1.5 tsp dried basil
1.5 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Generous, but careful, amount of salt and pepper
Some white wine and some olive oil

Heat a large pot over medium heat, and pour two swigs of olive oil around the pan.
Toss in the onion, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and garlic, ensuring that all are coated with the oil; mix in some salt and pepper.
Let the vegetables cook for about 5-7 minutes over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Add in the spices (cumin, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano) and the liquid smoke and stir.
Pour in a little bit of white wine (we only had a tablespoon or two left in our bottle, so alas, that's what went in), turn the heat to high, and let the alcohol cook off for a minute or so.
Add the can of crushed tomatoes, plus about a can's worth of water, depending on what consistency you're going for.
Season with extra salt and pepper, place the bay leaf on top, and cover and let simmer over medium heat for 1 hour.

We ate this with a side of garlic bread - a mixture of Earth Balance and oregano spread on chiabatta bread, baked in the oven for a few minutes, topped with parmesan cheese, and broiled for an additional minute.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Much-Delayed TG Post

In the Nov. 25th post, you will find our vegan Thanksgiving menu, along with links to recipes and/or explanations of how we made everything. Greg taunted me for my obsessive compulsive e-mail, but it really did all go according to plan. We made sure not to eat much all day (which caused an entertaining fainting experience when I got my blood tested earlier that day! Lesson learned), and by 7pm our dinner was ready to serve.

A few notes on the dishes:

-For the tofurkey, we really went simple, and used the orange baste recipe on the box. It was a pleasant mix of orange juice and soy sauce, and really carmelized the tofurkey's surface.

-The green bean casserole came out great - unusual for vegan casseroles... We didn't quite follow Guy's recipe for the onion topping (which called for buttermilk); rather, we used it as an inspiration. We cut up about half an onion into rings, and let them sit in a cup or so of soy milk mixed with 1 TBSP Earth Balance for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, we heated up a thin layer of canola oil until it sizzled when flour was dropped it in. Dunked the onions in a cup of flour mixed with some dry mustard, salt, pepper and paprika and fried the rings for about 3-4 minutes each, until lightly brown and crispy.

-For the apple stuffing, we sauteed carrots, celery and onion until fairly cooked, about 8 or so minutes. We added in one diced Red Delicious apple and half a loaf of white bread made in our bread machine. We sprinkled about a cup and a half's worth of vegetable broth into the mixture, and put it all into the greased baking dish.

-The stuffed mushrooms were delicious, and Mr. Sous Chef - aka Greg - needs to remember to post what he ended up putting in them.

-For the sweet potato recipe, we did indeed use the recipe we had posted, but since we had no nuts (they were too expensive), we replaced them with oats. We also used less sugar than called for, to save on at least some calories. Worked out wonderfully.

-We ended up using the same pumpkin pie recipe we used once before. Here's the link again:
Really one of the best pumpkin pies I've had, vegan or non-vegan.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Back to the Land

While I don't have the time to go through our vegan thanksgiving meal - and my successful planning for it (preparation and baking time took a total of only 2 hours, take that Rachel Ray) - I did want to take a minute to share a great article from the NY Times:

Back to the Land by Maira Kalman

Healthy eating and building of habits start when you're young. While we can always educate ourselves late in the game and change the way we eat at any age, wouldn't it be great if we all learned the harms of McDonald's, pesticides, laziness and overconsumption right as we learn to read and write?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tamar's Thanksgiving Day Planning: An Email

Here's what I came up with. Very productive day at work.

Tofurkey: 1.5 hours at 350

Green bean casserole: 350 for 35 min
top with these onions: and put back in for another 5

Apple stuffing:
Sautee veggies, add in apples and bread at last minute. Dress with some veggie broth. Put into greased pan, 350 for about 30 min.

Stuffed mushrooms:
inspiration: Between 15-20 min at 350.

Cranberry sauce: about 20 min on stovetop

Sweet potato casserole: 45 min at 350 or check vegan southern cookbook

Pumpkin pie: vegan southern cook book

3/3:30pm: take out tofurkey from fridge and let defrost
4:45pm: cut veggies to roast with tofurkey
5pm: create baste for tofurkey
5:15pm: Preheat oven to 350. Start boiling pot of water for sweet potatoes, and peel and dice them.
5:30pm: put tofurkey in oven
put potatoes in water and boil for 20 min or so
Dice bread, veggies and apple for stuffing
trim green beans
make gravy for green bean casserole
heat veggie broth
mash sweet potatoes and mix with rest of ingredients. put in pan and start baking.
finish up green bean casserole, put in pan and start baking
sautee stuffing stuff and dress with veggie broth, put in pan and start baking
clean mushrooms and destem, prepare stuffing
wash cranberries and make sauce
put mushrooms in oven
start on pumpkin pie, put in oven when everything else is out.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tamar & Greg's Vegan Italy

New assignment for you tv watchers: Lidia Bastianich on Lidia's Italy. Her recipes are always so simple, and more importantly, give great ideas for vegan interpretation!

On one of our typical weeknights on the couch, Lidia was making what she called a "pesto sauce" for her homemade pasta. However, the pesto sauce was not what we had expected - ricotta, walnuts, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. It looked amazing, and given that tofu is often used as a substitute for ricotta, we thought why not? We had tofu in the fridge, a handful of pecans left in the cupboard, and some pasta and veggies.

Tofu Pecan Pasta (vegan)

1/4 cup pecans
1/2 lb firm tofu - equal to half of a vacuum sealed package
non-dairy milk for consistency
1 tsp or more lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 TBSP nutritional yeast
Plenty of salt; pepper to taste
additional suggested spices for sauce: garlic powder, onion powder, basil and oregano
1/2 lb cooked pasta
Steamed or sauteed vegetables - we sauteed broccoli and tomato in a little bit of cooking spray

Press tofu between two plates and paper towel and set aside to drain. Meanwhile, grind pecans in food processor until fairly fine, but not powdery. Place pecans in bowl and set aside. Crumble tofu and put in the food processor. Carefully pulse rather than turning the machine on; you are going for ricotta consistency, which is not entirely smooth. As you pulse, add rice or soy milk in very small amounts. Tofu should be close to liquid form but still clumpy.
Mix the tofu in a bowl with the pecans, and add remaining ingredients. Since tofu is so bland, we were not shy about the salt quantity - you want to get just the right amount so that you can bring out all the flavors without having to sit with a large jug of water.
Drizzle the pasta, sauce and veggie mixture with a little bit of olive oil.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our Take on Palak Paneer

Last week, I came home and Greg had made a delicious vegan tikka pizza, which consisted of a yummy tomato sauce and tofu. When both of us tried the tofu, the first thing that came to our minds was that it had such a similar consistency as paneer - Indian cheese. We were immediately inspired and dedicated to creating a vegan version of Palak Paneer (a creamy Indian spinach curry with cheese), and though we didn't master the exact flavor, our dish still came out delicious. It may seem complicated, but it's super simple - you'll make great use of your food processor.

Vegan Palak Paneer

Tofu and Marinade
1/2 block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed (see Greg's tip), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium-large tomato
1.5 TBSP plain soymilk
1 clove garlic
a generous amount of salt and pepper

Place tofu cubes in a bowl. Puree the marinade ingredients in a food processor or blender until only small lumps remain, and mix in with tofu. Cover the bowl and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or longer.

Once the tofu is done marinating, you can start working on the rest of the dish. Here are the ingredients you will need:

1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 onion, diced
1.5 cups soymilk
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp coriander
1.5 tsp cumin
1 TBSP curry paste (we used a Roland's yellow curry paste - cheap and vegan!)

Start browning the tofu cubes (without the excess marinade - you'll use that soon) in a little bit of oil over medium heat. The cubes will take about 15 minutes to brown on all sides.
In a food processor, blend spinach with leftover marinade from the tofu.
In a separate pan, sautee the onion over medium heat until it turns translucent and add in the spinach-marinade mixture. Add in all the spices, and turn down the heat to a low simmer. Slowly pour and mix in the soymilk. You want the spinach curry to be liquidy but still relatively thick.
Add in the tofu and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over rice (we used basmati).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

On our last week of the CSA pickup, we cringed when we saw the vegetables: more squash... more and more squash. We had to brainstorm what we haven't made yet with that dreaded, yet delicious, vegetable, and so we succumbed to soup, served with stuffed mushrooms and a side of kale and garlic.Slowly but surely, I've come to realize how genuinely easy it is to make soup (with a proper blender, of course). The formula is simple: sautee onion, add 1 lb of diced vegetables and garlic, add 4 cups stock, and simmer for as long as you can wait. This has worked with various vegetables we've tried - carrots, potatoes, broccoli, squash, and probably works with many others.

Easy Butternut Squash Soup

1/2 onion, diced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb butternut squash, diced into small cubes
4 cups of vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

Sautee onion until fairly translucent, about 5 minutes, over medium heat. Toss in squash and garlic, some salt and pepper, and stir occasionally for 2 minutes. Pour in vegetable stock and cover. Once the soup has come to a boil, lower the fire and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the squash easily slips off a fork. Blend the soup using either an immersion blender or the dreadful regular blender technique (in batches, covering the top with a towel), cover and let simmer for at least another 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garlic and Kale

1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, chopped and the thick part of stems removed
salt and pepper to taste

I think this is one of the healthier ways to cook kale - it was still bright green when the process was finished, meaning it was able to retain many of its nutrients. There have been many times when I've tried to just sautee kale, and it's come out brown and overcooked.

Back to the recipe... Steam kale for about 5 or so minutes - you want it to taste cooked but still have a crunch. Meanwhile, begin sauteeing garlic in about 1/2 a TBSP of olive oil, more if it's a non-non-stick pan like ours. Toss in the steamed kale and sautee for only a few minutes until the kale has slightly wilted, but again, has still maintained its bright color. Season with sat and pepper to taste.