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.