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.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Belated Halloween!

And we're back!

It's been a busy two weeks, we're not really sure why. But lately the scene at our apartment has included quick dinners and falling asleep at 10pm on the couch. Unfortunately, pretty much everything we have cooked has been based off of others' recipes. Tomorrow is our last CSA pickup (how sad!), so we're hoping to have some good stuff coming our way, that will inspire us to come up with some new recipes.
For now, here's a glance at some of the recipes we've used these past two weeks - all came out delicious with some of our personal touches, and most were very budget-friendly:

Butternut Squash and Macaroni Casserole
(vegan) - pretty much followed the recipe as is, but sprinkled with paprika and of course served with Louisiana Hot Sauce.
Roasted Squash and Spinach Pizza - we used a mix of smoked mozzarella and crumbled blue cheese. We also decided to keep the skin of the squash on, since we know where our squash comes from (meaning, no chemicals) and washed it. Why not use all parts of the vegetable? We also used leftover homemade whole wheat pizza dough that we had frozen a few weeks ago.
Cabbage and Chickpea Minestrone (vegan) - in our endless search for uses for cabbage, this soup warmed us up on a rainy night. We used 2.5 fresh, diced tomatoes instead of canned and used canned chickpeas. Other substitutions included: green cabbage instead of red, 1/2 of a large red onion instead of 1 yellow onion, 3 chopped radishes instead of celery, 2 garlic cloves instead of 4, and the most important - vegetable broth instead of water, for more flavor. We loved this soup, not only for the massive amount of soup we now have in our freezer, but also for its simplicity and flexibility of its contents.
Beet Rosti (vegan) - by far, one of the best uses of beets that we have found. So filling, and so nutritious. We made two smaller pancakes out of the recipe instead of one large one. We dipped our slices in some greek yogurt.
Pancakes (vegan) - our favorite pancake recipe, which we made both days this weekend since we were already on a sugar kick from all the Halloween snacks... We mixed in pecans and chocolate chips, because apparently we enjoy paving the path to obesity sometimes.
Pumpkin Pie (vegan) - perfect recipe. This woman is a genius - we hate using tofu in vegan pies.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Spicy Tom Ka

We spent a good 15-20 minutes today looking for vegan tom ka soup recipes online. Though we found a handful, they all included expensive ingredients. Then we remembered that we have a food blog - and that part of having a food blog means experimenting and coming up with our own interpretations of food! We knew the main ingredients - coconut milk, lime, cilantro, lemongrass, tofu, and red chili paste. Since we sadly found out our paste was actually not kosher and had fish and shrimp flavoring in it (disgusting), that went straight to the trash and we decided to give cayenne pepper a go.

So, we present to you our version of tom ka soup. It's not authentic - it probably isn't even remotely thai - but we think it's damn good. And really spicy, so be careful!

Spicy Tom Ka Soup (vegan)

2 TBSP oil - we used safflower
1/2 red onion (yellow or shallot would work too; we had red lying around), diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14 oz can coconut milk - try to use the full fat, it's thicker and the lite stuff will make your soup too watery
2 cans worth of water
1 veggie bouillon cube
3 lemongrass shoots
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 block of firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1/2 medium tomato, chopped
a bunch of mushrooms, sliced
1 or 2 tsp lime zest
Juice from 1/2 a lime
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

In a large pot, saute onion and garlic in oil over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. Add in the following ingredients: coconut milk, water, veggie bouillon cube, lemongrass, mustard powder, ginger, tumeric, cayenne, soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn heat down to a simmer, cover, and let the flavors blend together for about 20-25 minutes.

While the soup is doing its thing, work on prepping the vegetables and sautee the tofu in a pan until cubes are lightly browned and slightly firmer. Once the 25 minutes for the soup to simmer have passed, add in the tofu, tomato and mushrooms and let cook for another 10 minutes or so. For your final step - add in the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro and give it a taste to see if you need more salt.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Homemade Pizza

We love pizza, and we love it even more when we get to make it from scratch. Thanks to our bread machine, that is no-problemo. Our favorite whole wheat pizza dough recipe never fails us, and makes enough for not one, but two! whole pizzas. Thursday night's toppings: stuffed green olives, mushrooms, spinach, grated ricotta salata, and strips of smoked gouda. The sauce was yet another one of Greg the Saucier's magical creations. Delicious.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shepherd's Pie

This dish is great for the fall and winter because you can pretty much bake it for as long as you like. It'll make the kitchen all warm and fill you right up!


4 large Russet or Idaho potatoes (about 3lbs)
1/2cup water or veggie broth
1/2cup tomato sauce w/basil or whatever pasta sauce you have
16oz. frozen mixed veggies (I used a mix of carrots, green beans, peas, and Lima beans)
8oz. mushrooms
2 medium sized onions
1/2cup non-diary non-sweetened milk
1sprig fresh rosemary de-stemmed
1.5tbs vegan margarine (we love Earthbalance)
2tbs salt
2tbs soy sauce
.5tsp liquid smoke
9"x13" baking dish


2 stalks of chopped celery for the veggie mix

Start by boiling the potatoes until they're tender nice and tender. If you can easily push into the potato the length of the fork tooth, you're probably good. I would say give them a good 35-40min.

While the potatoes are boiling, place water or veggie broth in a pot, bring up the water temperature over medium heat and add chopped onions and mixed frozen veggies (the mixed veggies can be defrosted before hand or thawed right in the pot, don't worry, either way works). After about 7-8min the onions will get soft and the frozen veggies hot, add chopped mushroom and cook an additional 7-8min stirring occasionally.

Once all the veggies have softened, stir in tomato sauce, soy sauce, and liquid smoke then allow to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Take boiled potatoes and mash in non-dairy milk, fennel, salt, and vegan margarine until smooth. Taste and adjust flavors as necessary. Then test to see if the potatoes spread easily, if not, get to mashin' so more. Spread veggies evenly across 9"x13" baking dish and top mixture with mashed potatoes. Bake for 35min-45min until bubbling. Allow cooling for 15min and serve.

Note: My dish was done at 30min but I let it bake for about an hour while waiting for Tamar to get home from a long day. The result: the top came out deliciously crispy and the whole dish was amazing. So take that winter...let it bake!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

All-American Dinner

We looooooooooooove the Morningstar Bacon Strips. Grandma Lydia was making me BLT sandwiches with them when I was 10 years old; it was my first introduction to meat substitutes. Luckily Target is fully stocked with them, and at less than $4, we've found our chief supplier.

Last night's dinner: BLT sammies, boiled corn, and roasted potatoes with rosemary.

It was just so good. We brushed the veggie bacon with a reduced balsamic vinegar and honey glaze that we used to flavor our kale a few days ago, and then stuck the strips in the broiler for a few minutes until they were slightly charred. The sandwich was simple: toasted bread with mustard, fresh lettuce, slices of tomato and the bacon. An easy sammie idea! Unfortunately the bacon strips are not vegan. Argh.

Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary (vegan)

4 red potatoes, cut into one inch cubes (we kept the skin on again)
1 full sprig of Rosemary, chopped
1 TBSP olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss diced potatoes with rosemary, olive oil and S&P in a bowl and spread out on to a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes. Yum.

Scalloped Potatoes

Part of our CSA pickup this week included two pounds of red and yellow potatoes. Thursday morning, Greg suggested we make scalloped potatoes, and we just couldn't get the idea out of our head for the rest of the day. We opened up our favorite cookbook, Don't Feed the Bears, and there it was! One of the yummiest vegan scalloped potato recipes ever. Since the authors of the book don't care if their recipes are reproduced, and in fact encourage it, here it is (though, really, you should buy this book! It's our vegan bible):

Scalloped Potatoes (vegan)

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tahini
2 TBSP whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
5 medium potatoes

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Thinly slice the potatoes; we didn't peel them since they were organic and we knew there wouldn't be some weird chemicals caked on. May as well take advantage of all the nutrients in that skin!
Heat oil in pan and saute onion and garlic on medium heat until onion is translucent. In a blender, mix together the tahini, flour, salt and water.
Layer the slices of potato in a lightly greased square pan, overlapping the edges. Use the onion and garlic mixture as the top layer, and pour on the tahini sauce. Cover with foil and bake for an hour. Uncover and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until golden brown. We topped ours with a bit of paprika and seasoned with salt and pepper.
We are big fans of the New York Times recipes - both the ones in the Magazine and in the Health section. With 3 types of squash, and little knowledge of how to cook them, we deferred to the newspaper to supply us with a great dinner.

It would be wrong to post the recipe on our site, but we can at least put the link!

Pasta with Roasted Winter Squash and Ricotta Salata

We're just becoming familiar with the idea of roasting, and the squash tasted amazing. Out of our 3 squashsters, we chose the butternut squash for this recipe. It came out perfectly tender, firm on the outside but melted in your mouth with every bite.

The greatest part about this dinner was the cost. The Ricotta Salata, which sounds like a hard-to-find expensive cheese, was less than $3 for a large block at Whole Foods. This type of ricotta is firm - unlike the usual type found in the refrigerated dairy section - and is very salty; you really don't need to use a lot for flavor. We had a lot of it left over after this dinner, and have been using it in several meals since. This meal would also taste just as good if it were made vegan, without the cheese.

Fall Harvest

We'll admit, keeping a blog actually does take a lot of time and dedication. Outside of the writing part, sometimes we feel pressured to come up with our own recipes, rather than using ones on the web or in our cookbooks. Alas, we had forgotten the point of a food blog - a blog that discusses food, that doesn't necessitate our own recipes (though, that is always a plus), and that proves that cooking at home can be fun and increase your awareness about what goes into your food, whether it be a healthy salad or a scrumptious dessert. (On that note, put 15 minutes aside to read this article: Putting America's Diet on a Diet)

And so, I present to you our next few posts - most of which were meals based on recipes we have found. We actually had a lot of fun with these dishes; they were all extremely successful and finger-licking delicious.

Our challenge this week (thanks to our CSA pickup this past Monday):

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Very Ginger Carrot Leek Soup (vegan)

1 leek, white and light green parts chopped
1 lb carrots (5-6 carrots), diced
2 TBSP ginger, minced
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Super easy:
Sautee leek, carrots and ginger in a large pot with a little bit of olive oil for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste. Add in vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 min to an hour until carrots are soft.
If you have an immersion blender now is the time to whip it out! Otherwise wait for soup to cool down a little and blend in batches in your blender. Blend until smooth a silky. Add in lemon juice, and simmer for an additional 15 min or until you are ready to eat.

Break It Down

When we started this blog, the movie Julie and Julia was just coming out and getting publicity. Aside from reasserting our claim that this blog was a pre-movie idea, I (Tamar) do have to admit that while watching that movie I couldn't help but laugh and empathize when Julie threw a tantrum during one of her cooking nights. I'm finding out that the more I cook, the easier I get frustrated (read: have a major breakdown) when a recipe doesn't succeed.

And so, I present to you Thursday night's complete failure:

It started off as vegan green bean casserole and pasta with breadcrumbs, garlic, tomato and green onion. It ended up as a soupy, oily mish-mosh mishap.

We have our good days and our bad, and cooking is no exception. We ate what we had, but the next day, frozen pizza provided a much needed break.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Easy Mushroom Marinade

There's nothing better than a good grilled mushroom, well nothing better if that mushroom already went through a round of this marinade! Below is a simple and delicious 30 minute marinade, the longer you marinade, the tastier the mushroom of course.

In a mixing cup whisk together the following:

2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
dash Onion Powder/Salt
Dash Honey
.5 tsp Cracked pepper
dash Salt

After sauce has been whisked, simply dip a paper towel (or a brush if you have one) in the marinade and generously wipe across top side of mushroom. Once mushrooms have been well covered in marinade, drizzle any left over marinade onto the gills of the mushroom. Yield is enough to marinade 4 Portabella Mushrooms. Just double the amounts if you need more. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beans, Beans, Beans

Given that we don't eat meat (well, most of the time), we get most of our protein from beans and soy. When Tamar's cousin and her friend, both from Israel, came by on Monday night, we decided to give them a taste of Southwestern American cuisine. We served them black bean soup, cornbread, and sweet corn on the cob, all of which led to a fun conversation about how much food differs between here and Israel, and their questioning of why we serve "cake" with soup...

Hearty Black Bean Soup (vegan)

1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 small/medium onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, core and seeds removed, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 15 oz cans black beans with liquid
1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes in juice
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
2 tsp or so of cumin
1 tsp cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, sautee over medium heat celery, carrots, onion, jalapeno and garlic in olive oil (two-ish drizzles around the pot of oil shoudl be enough) and add in cumin and cayenne. Once onion becomes fairly translucent and garlic takes on a light brown color, add in the beans, tomatoes and broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Place bay leaf on top, re-cover, and let simmer for about 45 minutes.
Remove bay leaf, and use hand or standing blender to blend about half of the soup, depending on how chunky you like it. Once blended, let simmer for a while longer (about 15 minutes or so).
This tastes even better as leftovers, once all the flavors have really set in.

Makes about 6 large servings.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tapenade Meets Burrito

So we've constantly talked and raved about Grandma Lydia's recipes, which we have been meticulously working through. Grandma was excited when I told her how great her banana cake came out, but not nearly excited as I was when I took that first bite.

Last night we were looking for a quick meal and decided to make Grandma's very simple burritos. For years, I had been trying to recreate the delicious flavor she came up with, and the recipe made it much simpler.

Grandma Lydia's Burritos (can be vegan)

2 cans refried pinto beans
15ish stuffed green olives (more or less, depending on how much you like olives!)
1 bunch green onions, white and green parts - hard to measure out, but again go by taste
1 jalapeno, core and seeds removed
10-12 flour tortillas, heated in microwave
optional cheese combo: Monterey Jack and Chedder

Stick the olives, onions and jalapeno in food processor. For each burrito, about 3-4 TBSP beans, between 1/2-1 TBSP topping [and a little bit of cheese]. We rolled the burritos up and stuck most of them in the freezer for quick-grab dinners. To heat them up, we pan fried with a little bit of cooking spray.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy New Year!

Have no fear, there will be more recipes posted soon. It has been a busy week, and yesterday was a crazy cooking day in time for Rosh Hashana. I championed my grandma's banana cake (though mine and greg's teeth hurt now from all the sugar), and we had a nice Eastern European Jewish meal of potato kugel and noodle kugel alongside homemade challah. It was our first time buying eggs since we moved into the apartment, and boy did they make a comeback. We have yet to learn vegan Jewish cooking methods.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

You got a sweeeeet sweetback Bar-b-que Sauce

I'm a true believer in sweet bar-b-que sauces and this recipe doesn't disappoint. It's super easy and when used in grilling it'll char slightly giving foods a whole extra layer of flavor.

The ingredients are:

1 small can of tomato paste (1 cup ketchup works well as a substitute *see below)
1.5-2 cups warm water
1tbsp salt (or too taste, be modest, too much salt will kill a sauce)
1tsp pepper
1tsp molasses
1.5tbsp sugar
1.5tbsp brown sugar
1tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2tsp onion powder
1/2tsp garlic powder
1/2tsp mustard powder
1tbsp mustard (any variety honey, dijon, etc.)
dash lemon juice
1/2tsp liquid smoke
tiny dash of hot sauce

Combine tomato paste and water (*if using ketchup, mix ketchup instead with 3/4 cup of warm water) in medium sauce pan and stir together over low heat until tomato product dissolves completely. Add remaining ingredients and bring heat to a low simmer. Allow sauce to simmer for 30min stirring occasionally, the more time you give it, the better. Lastly, you'll notice the sauce reducing as it simmers, this is good! The sugars are really deliciously blending at this point so simply stir in a tablespoon of water, then as the sauce simmers, continue adding dashes of water as needed so the sauce avoids getting too thick or a skin on top.

note: As with most sauces, this recipe is a good foundation, so go crazy adding stuff taking out stuff.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mayo-less Coleslaw

Following last night's meal, we had still most of the head of cabbage. Since we got a load of carrots this past week, we decided to enjoy the veggies in their raw state and make some vegan coleslaw.

Coleslaw (vegan)

1 small head cabbage, chopped
3 carrots, shredded

6 TBSP olive oil
4 TBSP apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP soy yogurt
2 tsp mustard
2 tsp sugar

Directions: Mix. Add salt and pepper. Done :)

Vegan Cabbage Rolls

We got cabbage from the farm this past Monday and decided to get a little creative with it. I (Tamar) have not really worked with cabbage much, except one time in college when I needed lettuce and bought cabbage by mistake (that may have been in my pre-glasses days, or so I hope). Needless to say, our cabbage rolls came out delicious; Greg made a peanut butter-coconut sauce to put on top, which perfected the dish.

Cabbage Rolls (vegan)

10 outer leaves of cabbage
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 onion
1/2 cup chopped vegan meat or tofu (we used morningstar chicken strips, which I actually think might not be vegan... oops)
1 clove garlic
~1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 carrot, cut into short sticks
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 TBSP hoisin sauce (an Asian barbecue-ish sauce)

To prepare the cabbage:

People have all sorts of tricks for getting the leaves off the cabbage (freezing the cabbage, sticking the whole this in a pot of water, etc.), but we were lazy and wanted to find a way around it all. So with some determination, we ran a knife across the bottom of each leaf we intended to pull off, right near the core, and used a sort of "popping" method to get it off by pushing from the bottom up.

Heat up a large pot with a few cups of water and bring to a roaring boil. For each leaf, stick it in the boiling water for about 2 minutes; remove it with a slotted spoon and immediately run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside so that the leaves dry off, or wipe with towel.

To prepare the carrot sticks:

Place the sticks in about a TBSP or two of canola oil in a frying pan. Stir, coating each piece with oil and cover for about 5-6 minutes until the carrots get softer, but are still crunchy.

To prepare the filling:

Sautee the tofu/fake meat/whatever with the onion and garlic for about 2-3 minutes. Add in the rice, and occasionally stir for another minutes. Pour in the soy sauce and hoisin sauce, and taste to make sure you don't need any additional seasoning. Stir in chopped cilantro.

To assemble the rolls:

Place 1-2 large scoops of the filling in the center and top with 2 or 3 carrot sticks. Fold in the top and bottom (it's a little tricky with the vein toward the bottom, so cut some of it off if necessary) and roll the leaf, making sure to tuck in the edges as you go. Very burrito like, only smaller.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And then our mouths burned...

Yeah, it's not the most appetizing picture... but we never claimed to be great photographers. Nor do we have good lighting in our kitchen. But tonight's dinner was delicious, until all of our tastebuds were burned off. We got about a pound of tomatillos from our CSA on Monday, and neither Greg nor I have ever worked with them before. So we decided to use them in the simplest way that we know - salsa.

HOT Tomatillo Salsa (vegan)

When we say hot, we mean it. Even Greg, the king of spicy food, agreed with me on this one. Turns out jalapenos are spicier than we thought.

1 lb tomatillos, taken out of their husks and rinsed
1/2 - 3/4 of an onion, sliced
2 jalapenos, seeded and sliced
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup cilantro
1 or 2 tsp of canola oil
salt to taste

Turn on your broiler. Slice the tomatillos into halves and lay face down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Add onto the sheet the garlic cloves, onion, and jalapenos. If you are slightly obsessive compulsive, your baking sheet will look something like this:

Put in the broiler for 4 minutes, so that veggies are browned but not burnt. Let cool, and put all ingredients into a food processor. We love you, Cuisinart.

Dinner was a burrito stuffed with spicy refried beans, lettuce, tomato, a tiny bit of smoked gouda cheese (we craved calcium), topped with our smokin' hot salsa. We ate it with some braised kale, which didn't come out all that great, but at least we got a good amount of vitamin A, C and apparently K for the day!

BBQ Chili and Corn Muffins

Wow, we are way behind. I could conjure up some stories to tell, but we're sitting here and falling asleep at 9:30pm (so cool).

On Sunday we still had some veggies leftover from the last CSA, and the temperature dipped below 70 - whoa - so we thought we could somewhat justify a hearty chili.

Spicy Barbeque Bean Chili
Chili's so great because you can throw whatever you've got in it... so that's basically what we did.

1/2 onion, diced
Most of a poblano pepper, seeded and diced
Corn kernels from one husk corn
1/2 tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1.5 cups barbeque sauce (Greg's recipe will be posted at some point)
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1 TBSP tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne
a dash of hot sauce
salt, pepper, and any other spices you deem fitting

In a large pot, sautee over medium heat the onion, poblano, corn, tomato and garlic in some olive oil until onion starts to become translucent. Stir in beans and coat the mixture with about a TBSP of flour, mixing as you sprinkle it in order to avoid clumps. Pour in the liquids, tomato paste, and spices; lower heat to a simmer, stick in the bay leaf, and sit and distract yourself for about 30 or so minutes.
We went a little crazy with the heat in this, but spicy=good.

We enjoyed are chili with some poblano corn muffins, using up the rest of the pepper left from the chili.

Poblano Pepper Corn Muffins (vegan)

This recipe is adapted from our absolutely favorite vegan cookbook: Please Don't Feed the Bears; if you want to cook vegan, you should own this book - it's cheap and all the recipes we've tried are super good. The original recipe makes cornbread, but we thought we would spice it up a bit - pun intended.

Dry Ingredients
1.5 cups corn meal
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar

Wet Ingredients
2 TBSP melted Earth Balance
1 cup soy/rice milk + 2 tsp lemon juice
1 egg's worth of egg replacer

+ leftover poblano pepper, diced.

Mix dry ingredients into wet, or wet into dry, depending on your school of thought. Fold in poblano pepper and pour into pre-greased muffin pan. We got about 10 muffins out of the mix.

The original recipe, since it's for cornbread, says to bake for 20 min at 425 degrees. We baked our muffins at that temperature for 10 minutes, and they came out a little dry, though still tasty. Baking is most definitely not my expertise - upon reflection, probably would have made sense to have baked them at 350-375 for 12-15 min. Oops.

Friday, September 4, 2009

For the Love of Vegan Cooking

This week reminded us that everyone has their good days and their bad days when it comes to cooking, especially vegan cooking.

On Wednesday, as Greg posted earlier that day, we had our friends Cristina and Dave over for dinner. We had planned a vegan meal consisting of asparagus crepes, mushroom and tofu ricotta crepes, a tomato and peach salad, and an appetizer of homemade french bread and olive tapenade. It all sounded so good and easy to make, especially since the only things that needed to go on the burner were the veggies and the crepes for a few minutes each. By 7:20 - 10 minutes before C & D were set to arrive - our kitchen turned into a food network show, with Tamar scrambling around the kitchen trying to figure out what to make, and Greg silently focusing on quickly chopping vegetables before heading out to the grocery store to buy a frozen pizza or pierogies that we could serve instead of what was turning out to be a disastrous meal.

Somehow, by the time Greg returned from the grocery store, I had 4 plates on the table, each showcasing a crepe stuffed with mushrooms and vegan ricotta, alongside sauteed asparagus with hollandaise sauce. Turns out, like those 20 page papers in college that I used to write the night (or morning) before, I do much better under pressure.

We pulled it off, just barely, but not without a slight nervous breakdown, a few muttered swears, and a deep hatred for vegan cooking. Needless to say, it was comforting to hear that Cristina, who so wonderfully took her first shot at vegan baking and made delicious cupcakes as a result, had a similar experience only a few hours earlier.

Recipe for the tapenade to come later on, perhaps once the white sox vs red sox game is over. Below, I am posting the recipes for things that came out, so the awful crepe recipe that we used is most definitely excluded. I have lost my faith in vegan crepes, but maybe one day when we own proper equipment, we'll give it another go.

Tomato and Peach Salad (vegan)
(Mark Bittman's recipes for 101 simple salads:

2 medium-size tomatoes
2 peaches
1 very small red onion (probably between 1/4-1/2 reg size onion)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 TBS olive oil
1-1.5 TBS lemon juice (we usually used fresh, but had concentrated LJ in the fridge)
a dash or two of red chili pepper flakes

Cut the tomatoes and peaches into similar size wedges. Sliver the red onion, and toss everything in a bowl. Pretty darn simple.

Sauteed Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce (vegan)

We sauteed about a lb of asparagus, stems chopped, in olive oil for 4-5 minutes and then slathered it with a tablespoon of Earth Balance and some salt and pepper. For the sauce, I found a great blog -; one of the better vegan sauces I have had.

1/2 cup silvered almonds
1/2 cup hot water
2 TBS Earth Balance
2 tsp lemon juice
2 TBS nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp mustard
salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder

Mix ingredients in food processor or blender and season to taste.

Sauteed Mushrooms and Tofu Ricotta (vegan)

We used about a 1/2 lb mini portabella mushrooms, sliced into quarters. Sautee the mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil for a few minutes until pan is fairly dried out. Grab a swig or two of white wine and use it to deglaze the pan and give some mushrooms a meaty flavor. Season with salt, pepper, dried herbs, and various powders to your liking!

The tofu ricotta pretty much follows a recipe from Veganomicon, our vegan bible by Isa Moskowitz.

1 lb extra firm tofu
2 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
salt, pepper, tumeric, garlic powder, onion powder, dried herbs, and we like to add a little bit of heat - whether it be red chili pepper flakes, cayenne, or hot sauce.

Crumble tofu (roll up those sleeves and just dig in there with your recently washed hands), add lemon juice and garlic and continue to smush. Once it's seemingly close to ricotta appearance, add olive oil, nutritional yeast, and spices and mix and mash with a fork.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More to come...

We're having some dinner guests this evening, to keep their lovely palettes entertained, we plan on making some asparagus blintzes/crĂªpes . Stay tuned, we'll update the blog with our recipe and make sure to tell you all about how it goes later on tonight.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Grandma's Borscht

As much as we would like to always eat vegan, we have stumbled into a few obstacles:

1) Sudden cravings for Wisconsin cheese
2) Passover

and the newest one,

3) Tamar's Grandma's recipes.

In respect for my Grandma Lydia's cooking - cherished in the Hellman family clan- I cannot get myself to start finding substitutes for the eggs and dairy in her recipes. So as I start to run through my grandma's 1,000+ recipes in the coming months, veganism will have to be temporarily pushed aside, hopefully not for more than a few hours at a time...

We picked up beets from our CSA last week, and knowing that my grandma's borscht is legendary, we decided to tackle her recipe. Like many of my grandma's recipe notecards, this one needed a little deciphering:

One thing was easy to understand: the heart in the corner meant this was a Hellman family classic.

We used Grandma's recipe as a guideline. We had fresh beets and no sour salt (I didn't even know such a thing existed until wikipedia explained it to me). To be honest, we didn't really measure anything as we went along - we relied on constant taste testing. So following is our recipe, based on the above, but it should also be used only as a guideline, depending on your own taste.


1 lb beets (about 3 beets), peeled and shredded - thank you, Cuisinart.
1.5-2 cups water
1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice
Garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper to taste

Bring beets, water and some salt to a boil on medium heat, add spices, and let simmer for a few more minutes so that beets are tender but still crisp. Take beets off the heat, and let cool for 10 minutes. Stir in yogurt, lemon juice and additional seasonings to taste.

Best to refrigerate for an hour before serving. Though in our case, I think we lasted for about 15 minutes before we gave in and ate. In keeping with our polish neighborhood cuisine, we ate the borscht alongside store-bought mushroom and sauerkraut pierogies.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Vegan Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Squash "Blossoms" are a really great versatile shell for stuffing, and more importantly, act as the eponymous donor to the finest supper club in all of Brooklyn (the Mayim Bialik Supper Club, of course). The blossoms have a very light flavor, while adding a wonderfully tender and subtle outer skin. This stuffing recipe is very easy, inexpensive, and delicioso.

Tofu Filling (vegan)

1 package of flavored extra-firm tofu pressed and drained* (we used garlic and pepper)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (use more as needed)
1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper or paprika
1/2 tsp liquid smoke

After the tofu has been drained and pressed, mash well until there's a mostly smooth consistency with small chunks throughout. Add nutritional yeast and stir. Continue with other ingredients, tasting small amounts throughout to ensure the balancing of flavors.

Stuffing the blossoms was tricky. We thought we could use a makeshift "pastry bag" (which was a sandwich bag with a small hole cut out on the bottom corner), but turns out using your fingers works best... Once they're stuffed, spray a frying pan with some cooking spray and fry the blossoms for about 1.5 min on each side. Season with a little salt and pepper.

This recipe can have endless variations, so if you find one that works and tastes good, please share.

*Greg's 15min drained and pressed tofu works wonders if you don't have time to wait: Take one clean cloth or paper towel and place it on a plate. Fold the cloth/towel into a square and lay the tofu on top so it sits about 1 inch in all directions from the outer edge of the folded cloth/towel. Take a second plate and flip it so the top-side is facing down and then place it on top of the tofu. Now use a heavy object (ie phone book or whateves) and gently place it on top of the second plate so a balanced pressure is upon the tofu. After 10min remove cloth/towel, drain bottom plate, and squeeze out excess water from cloth. Replace towel and repeat pressing for 5 more min.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Late Summer Vegetable Delight

Last night we got a little fancy. We picked up yet another round of corn and zucchini from our CSA this past Monday and made zucchini and corn risotto with a side of vegan stuffed zucchini blossoms. Greg was in charge of the flower filling, so I'll leave that blog post for him.

As for the risotto, ugh. So good, but such a pain in the butt to make. Maybe it's the brand of rice we bought? We have no clue. But for some reason, every time we make it, although it's totally worth it at the end, it takes forever and our arms get sore. We decided to conquer the beast once more, thinking maybe this time it will actually take us less than an hour. It didn't.

Zucchini and Corn Risotto (vegan)

1/2 medium size onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1.5 cups arborio rice or risotto - for some reason rice labeled arborio rather than risotto tends to be cheaper, but it seems to basically be the same thing?
1/4 cup white wine
5 cups vegetable broth, heated
Corn kernels from one stalk corn (cooked)
1 medium size zucchini, chopped
1 TBSP Earth Balance
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat up two swigs around the pan of olive oil over medium heat and toss in chopped onion. Sautee for 4 minutes or so, until onion soaks up some of the oil (but not all). Add rice and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and stir on and off for about a minute or so, making sure the rice doesn't stick to the pan. Deglaze (Tamar's favorite cooking action word!) the pan with white wine and let alcohol cook off for about a minute while - yes, you got it - continuing to stir the contents of the pan.

Now for the fun part (it's fun for about 3 minutes, then we start to get impatient, grumpy and hungry).

The trick is to balance the stirring and the addition of the vegetable broth. Add one ladle of broth at a time, continue to stir rice and wait until most of the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next ladle of broth. Some people claim you have to continuously stir, others say you don't. It really depends how motivated you are - we stir, occasionally get tired, walk away to change the song on the playlist, come back to stir... you get the point. As your broth supply dwindles, add the zucchini and corn so that the zucchini starts cooking. Also begin to taste the rice to see if it's getting close to being cooked; we like our rice firm, but not crunchy.

You may use all the broth we say to use, you may use less, or you may run out and start using water - use your bite to figure it out, don't trust us. We had about 4 cups set aside of broth, and ended up having to add about a cup water to finish cooking the rice. It was annoyingly frustrating since it seemed to never end, but there was a turning point during which the rice magically cooked in a matter of a minute or so after we added the last batch of water.

When all is said and done - rice tastes nice and creamy, zucchini is cooked - stir in that tablespoon of Earth Balance and add sallt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Baker Boy Lives Up to His Name

Back when we started dating, Greg used to leave me loaves of bread in my mailbox (so much better than getting real mail). Since we've moved away from Madison and the industrial ovens at the Nature's Bakery, I've been awaiting the day that I come home to smell fresh, homemade bread.

Today was the day.

Greg made French bread - without using our bread machine - and served it alongside roasted garlic (from our CSA!), marinated artichokes, and brie. We also had a bowl of leftover cream of broccoli soup, which was even more delicious two days later.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
(adapted from Sunny Anderson's Cream of Asparagus Soup)

1 TBSP Earth Balance + 2 rounds around the pot of olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb broccoli, florets and peeled stems chopped
4 cups vegetable broth (or 4 cups water + 2 MSG-less veggie bouillon cubes)
1 small container greek yogurt (6-8 oz)
1 tsp lemon juice
salt, pepper, paprika

In a large pot, heat oil and EB and sautee (on medium heat) onion and broccoli stems for 3-5 minutes, until onion is somewhat translucent. Add broccoli florets and garlic, and season vegetables with salt, pepper and paprika. Cover and steam for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add vegetable broth, cover, and let simmer for 35-40 minutes until broccoli is tender. Turn off heat, and blend vegetables using either an immersion blender (our tool of choice) or a regular blender. Whisk in greek yogurt and lemon juice and adjust seasoning to taste.

Given that we're not gourmet chefs, we had white specs in our soup and occasionally choked on a few broccoli floret remnants here and there. But you know what, it was totally worth it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Quest for the Perfect Hummus

Welcome to our blog! After much procrastination, and numerous photos now deemed useless and outdated, we have decided that this is it - time to launch this blog and start sharing our food creations/disasters/works of fine art.

Tangentialist - is it a word? No, of course not. But Greg one time used it to describe us, two people who cannot hold a simple conversation without getting distracted and going on tangents. Our food has come to reflect this lovely aspect of our personalities, as well. We would love to say that we are vegan, but our Midwestern roots have prevented us from doing so. So while many of the recipes we [hope to] share will be vegan, we do occasionally go on tangents (also interpreted as strong cravings for Wisconsin cheese) and make lactose-filled meals that end up giving Tamar a huge stomach ache.

As the first posting to our blog, I (Tamar) thought I would share a recipe for one of my greatest new loves - Black Olive Hummus. I am on a constant quest to make the perfect hummus, and every time I go back to visit Israel, I am reminded of how far I am from reaching that perfection. Needless to say, this combination of my favorite smear with my favorite snack - because, yes, a can of olives is the best snack - made a quite delicious combination.

Black Olive Hummus

1 can chickpeas, drained - but reserve half the liquid
1/2 can pitted black olives
1/4 cup tahini paste
salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and a little za'atar if you're lucky enough to have it

Directions: Pretty simple - put it all in a food processor and use your eyes and taste buds to tell you when it's ready! If it's not as creamy as you would like, olive oil is key. The olives may add a good amount of saltiness, so make sure to add the salt last.

Za'atar is commonly use in the Mideast. I'm sure there are recipes on the web that list the correct combination of spices, but because I am a Za'atar snob, I prefer to buy the brands imported from the Middle East. I found a great Lebanese Za'atar in Whole Foods in NYC.