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.