Sunday, December 5, 2010

Great pate, mom, but I gotta motor if I wanna be ready for that party tonight...

Things I've never made before: pate, chestnuts, and lentils. Here they are all fancied up together into a rockin' appetizer. It's the chestnut-lentil pate from the Veganomicon. Couldn't be easier and is really quite sophisticated and yummy. Bring this to your next holiday soiree.

The best vegan pate I've had is faux-gras made by Ella, the Regal Vegan. She brought this to the Our Hen House launch party and I kinda sorta camped out by it after I helped set up the raffle prizes. What? I was hungry and it really is that good.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vegan cookbooks, lip balm, rescue chocolates, cloth diapers, and River made my recipe!

So I came home to not one, but 2 new vegan cookbooks. Amazon pre-order is the way to go when you want to give yourself a gift you'll forget about by the time you get it.
Just in time for the holidays Isa's new book Appetite for Reduction offers a whole bunch of easy recipes that are easy on the waistline. Jerk asparagus, eggplant dengaku, buffalo tempeh oh my!

In Color me Vegan Colleen Patrick-Goudreau invites you to eat the rainbow of the fruit and veggie world. Red-Beet Burgers; Orange-Carrot Fries; Yellow-Cashew Cheese; Green-Avacado Pudding; Blue-Blueberry Ketchup and more!

Yes, you really do need a new cookbook or 2...

Now for some vegan lip balm from my lip stuff.
Brea is vegan and most of the lip balms can be made vegan even though the normal formula uses beeswax. Mmm Candy Cane...

I also popped by a meet up event in NYC tonight for Rescue Chocolates
Sara makes the most awesome vegan chocolates and proceeds go to animal rescue organizations.

If you've got rugrats and are interested in cloth diapering, my friend Patti (who is also a serious scrabble opponent) has a blog called The Clothspring and she's got a giveaway going on for some flannel diapers. Check it or pass it along to someone with rugrats.

And last but not least, the ever awesome River of wing-it vegan made my eggplant ballz from the last veggie conquest. It's on her MoFo after-post.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes

This is adapted from my high school boyfriend's mom's recipe for Tasty Kakes - Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes.
I wasn't sure how to handle the 4 eggs it called for, so I hadn't attempted to veganize it before. I used 1/2 ground flax seed and 1/2 tofu for the eggs, and soy milk instead of milk. The cake part should be spongy but firm and almost chewy, so this combo seems to have worked out OK.

Here's the original recipe that's a little worse for the wear. I love handwritten shared recipe cards.
My vegan baking arsenal.
Vegan Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes

2 TBS ground flax seeds
6 TBS water
1/2 cup tofu
1 TBS shortening or vegetable oil

1 cup soymilk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup peanut butter

12 oz vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a rimmed cookie sheet or jellyroll pan. I lined mine with a silpat and canola oil spray and flour. (At this point you should also make sure you've got some room in the fridge to put the sheet pan in to cool.)

Blend together the flax seeds, water, tofu, and oil and set aside.

Mix together the soymilk, vinegar, and vanilla and set aside.

In a large bowl combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add the soymilk mixture and blend until incorporated. Add the flax/tofu mixture and blend again scraping down the sides to combine.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread out to the edges. The batter will form a thin layer over the entire pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. When done, a toothpick will come out clean and the top will feel spongy; don't let the sides get browned.

Spread a thin layer of peanut butter over the hot cake. I don't actually measure the peanut butter, but I used just over 1/2 a 16 oz. jar to cover the top.

Put cake in fridge until peanut butter has set and firmed up. About an hour or so.
Melt the chocolate chips and pour over the cake. Put back in fridge until chocolate has set. About another hour or so.
Cut into 2 inch squares. Enjoy with a nice big glass of chocolate soymilk. Yum.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Seitan Piccata with collard greens and chive mashed potatoes

Vegan meat and potatoes doesn't get better than this.
Seitan from the Yellow Rose Recipes and piccata from the Candle Cafe Cookbook. My summer CSA is over, so I'm using up the last of the hardier veggies. The collard greens got a bit frozen in the fridge, but turned out good. I stripped off the tough stems and chopped them up, then sauteed them in garlic and veggie broth with a bit of liquid smoke. The potatoes are mashed with earth balance and soy milk and dried chives.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Triple Truffled Orzo Mac-n-Blue Scheese

Opulence. I has it. Oh, the sweet and smoky aroma of truffles. Real truffles are a luxury that can blow through an entire weeks grocery budget for one small piece, but using truffle oil and truffle salt amps up the flavor without breaking the bank.
Decadent yet super easy, this orzo mac-n-cheese is takes about 15 minutes to make. I'm sure it would make a great side dish, but I had this for dinner.

There's a store in Grand Central called O & Co that has a great selection of truffle products and their olive oil and balsamic vinegars are a staple in my kitchen as well. I used a few chopped summer truffles in olive oil mixed with some chopped up blue scheese and a little tofutti cream cheese. I cooked and drained the orzo, then dumped it over the scheese and truffle mixture and mixed it around so it got a little melty. Then I added a little black truffle oil and some truffle salt.
So good and so easy. One day, I'll have to get my hands on some fresh truffles. Until then, I'll get my fix from the truffle oil and truffle salt.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Totally Vegan Philly Cheese Steak

There is a technique when it comes to philly cheese steak making. I've been making them a long time and this works for all fillings.
You can make it with packaged vegan deli slices (the picture on the box is not what you're looking for in a cheese steak - see above for a real cheezy steak)or home-made seitan; daiya cheddar or nooch sauce; vegenaise or tofu mayo, but at the end of the day, it's all about how you pull it all together. Here's my tried & true vegan cheese steak that never fails to cure my greasy meaty craving.

Start with a flat skillet and a little canola oil on medium heat. Add about 1/2 onion sliced in thin half moons.
Saute the onions until they are translucent, then shake on some oregano or italian seasoning.
Saute a little more until almost browned. Then spread the onion out around the pan and lay on 5-6 philly style deli slices (or thinly sliced seiatn.) Let brown a minute, then flip them over bringing most of the onions to the top as well. Then with 2 spatulas, rip the slices into bite sized pieces and heat through.
Pile the chopped faux meatiness into a strip down the middle of the pan and top with cheese (Tofutti American).
Toast a sub roll (or baguette or onion sub roll-yum) until just warmed, and spread on any condiments, I like vegenaise and ketchup and sometimes a little sriracha hot sauce on it. Then place the toasted roll over the pile in the pan.
Let sit a minute as the cheese melts to the bread.

Now here's how to get it out of the pan intact. Place a piece of foil over the roll and hold the foil and sandwich in place with one hand and using the other hand, flip the pan over so now you're holding the foil and the whole sandwich in your hand. It will be hot, so you may need a potholder over the foil if you've left it on the pan too long. Also have a plate ready to plunk the sandwich down on.
Slice in half and enjoy. If you like mushrooms and/or peppers on your steak add them when you saute the onions. You can also make a pizza steak, by spreading pizza sauce on the bread (toast it with the bread to warm) and using a mozzarella style cheese.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

World Vegetarian Day and Our Hen House launch party

Yesterday for World Vegetarian Day, I managed to convince a few co-workers to order vegan dim sum from Buddha Bodai in Chinatown (NYC). It was kind of last minute and the skeptics stuck to the spring rolls and fried dumplings. So I ordered a bunch of other stuff to share like eggplant with black bean sauce, watercress dumplings, "shrimp" rice rolls, fried oysters (mushrooms) and sticky rice wrapped in bamboo. I think the variety worked out pretty well, and most people liked what they tried. The vegan cheesecake was super awesome.

Then after work I walked up to Moo Shoes for the Our Hen House launch party.

"Our Hen House is a central clearinghouse for all kinds of ideas on how individuals can make change for animals. With a blog, podcast, and video page, we identify opportunities, report on successful activists and enterprises, and brainstorm ideas ranging from the brilliant (if we do say so ourselves) to the farfetched."
So check our Our Hen House for all goings on in animal advocacy. Jasmin filmed Veggie Conquest 4 (Potato battle) for Our Hen House which I participated in. You can see my stellar communication skillz here.

So back to the launch party...I thought it started at 7, but it really began at 8, so I ended up volunteering to help set up. Marlene (aka Isa's Mom) and I helped organize the raffle prizes. Too bad we didn't win any of them, but there was a ton of cool vegan swag! The raffle included vegan pottery, a whole slew of books and cookbooks, gorgeous vegan jewelry, gift certificates to vegan stores and restaurants, and original artwork from Dan Piraro.
I did pick up a cool Our Hen House tote bag and some rescue chocolates. I'm giving away the tote and any of the chocolate I manage to keep from the Ninja, so pop in a comment for a chance to win.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saving the bounty of summer with home canning (that's really in a jar.)

Just in case you're wondering...25lbs of tomatoes is a whole lotta tomatoes. I got this copier paper sized box of plum tomatoes from my CSA, Rexcroft Farms, which held the most perfectly ripe unblemished tomatoes I'd ever seen. Not a bad one in the bunch. So how to save this little slice of summer? Home canning is the key. Yup, just like grandma used to make.You really just need a big 'ole pot and some tongs, but I picked up this canning set which included all the gadgets that made it really easy. I'll bet you can find one at a yard sale. My mom swears there's one in the garage somewhere. You also need mason jars with lids and I recommend a basic canning book if you've never done it before. It's easy, but kind of a lot of work. I know I can just buy a can of tomatoes for a couple of bucks, but I'm really proud that I did it myself. Peeling and coring the tomatoes took the most effort, but I think it's gonna be worth it. Put the tomatoes in the jars, add a little lemon juice, basil, and salt then process in boiling water for about an hour and voila, home made canned tomatoes. The 25 lb box made 12 quarts of tomatoes.Aren't they pretty? It's hard not to want to open them up right now, but I'll be glad in January that I saved them now.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I won 2nd place at Veggie Conquest 5!

Oh heck yeah. The judges liked me. They really like me! The secret ingredient for Veggie Conquest 5 was basil and I threw down with an entree of some Basil Eggplant Ballz. Most everything came from the farmer's market or my CSA and was organic. Pretty meaty for a bunch of vegetables.

I made two sauces. A roasted red pepper basil sauce and a creamy walnut pesto. I enlisted the help of the Ninja* in deciding on the sauce. He liked the pesto, but I had just spent all this time roasting peppers over the totally safe open flame of my gas burner. I tried mixing them together, but it was a weird light brownish color and didn't really do either sauce justice. So in the end I served it with both sauces. I think that worked out.

I totally forgot to get a photo earlier, so this is from the taster judging table and had been sitting around for awhile. I swear it tasted super awesome.

Basil Eggplant Ballz

1 large or 2 small eggplant sliced lengthwise and roasted on a grill or in the oven at 400 degrees

2TBS olive oil
1 handful of washed basil leaves (no stems)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup water or broth

1 cup vital wheat gluten
1 cup bread crumbs (I like whole wheat panko)

Oil for frying

Blend roasted eggplant with olive oil, basil, salt, dried basil, Italian seasoning, and water. You can leave it chunky and it will be eggplantier or really smooth and it is meatballier. Those are real words.

Transfer the blended mixture into a medium mixing bowl and taste for seasonings. Add wheat gluten flour and bread crumbs. Mix it with your hands until it comes together then knead for a minute or so in the bowl. It may be really squishy at first, but you'll start to feel the gluten strands coming together as you knead.

In a cast iron skillet heat up a 1/2 inch of canola oil. Scoop out about a teaspoon for mini balls or tablespoon for bigger balls. Roll into a ball and pan fry on all sides until golden brown. Transfer to the oven to keep them warm.

Roasted Red Pepper Basil sauce

4 red peppers
1 big handful fresh basil leaves
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic smashed

Roast red peppers carefully over the flame of a gas burner, in the oven, or on a grill. When the skin is charred, wrap in a paper towel and place in a plastic bag for about 15 minutes. The skin will peel right off. Cut off the top and pull out the seeds.

Blend roasted peppers with basil, salt, and garlic. Taste for seasonings.

Creamy walnut pesto

1 big handful fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup silken tofu
2 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp salt

Blend everything together until smooth. Serve meatballs in the red pepper sauce and top with pesto sauce.

Now for the rest of the Veggie Conquest chefs...

First place went to my buddy Cathy who has twice hooked me up with some wine at the Veggie Conquest.

Thanks Cathy and your dish was super awesome. This rockin' mezze plate featured some basil falafel. Everything was perfectly cooked and the flavors were well matched. Totally yum.

Third place was an eggplant rollatini with a coconut sauce. There are 2 ways to go with basil. Italian and Thai and this one rocked them both.

Honorable mentions: Father daughter team made a terrific spaghetti and seitan dish. The seitan had a perfect chewiness and the chef said he both boiled it, then baked it. Whatever he did it rocked.

I love sticky rice and this dish was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The bamboo wrapper is how it's cooked. Inside is the sweet sticky rice concoction.

There was a whole lot goin' on in this dish. Lentils, tarot, I think a pear, and some fig. Really interesting blend of textures.

Everyone rocked and it was another jamin' Veggie Conquest. With tunes from Lil Ray and MCing by the Discerning Brute Joshua Katcher. Thanks to the organizer Jessica for another great event.

* The Ninja (aka my husband) has expressed that he wishes to be known henceforth as "the secret ingredient" - I really need a secret code name...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hummus tip from the Vegetarian Times

I've made a lot of hummus in my day. Starting with a recipe from the original Moosewood Cookbook and moderating and using other recipes from there. I've used a regular blender, the vita-mix, a food processor, and a mini chopper. So it never tastes exactly the same, but it's always pretty good.
This month's Vegetarian Times features an article on Hummus Perfection. I've kind of gathered that starting with dried chickpeas usually comes out better than using canned, but even then sometimes it's better than others. The trick is to blend the chickpeas when they are STILL WARM. Who knew it was so simple. It does seem to make a difference. The hummus was super creamy and lush. I let it come down to room temp, topped it with some Zatar and enjoyed with some cucumber slices.

I began subscribing to Vegetarian Times again when I became vegan 2 years ago. There's a really subtle shift to vegan recipes. You'll still find recipes with an egg or two, Parmesan cheese or yogurt, but without coming right out and saying it, I'm noticing lots more recipes, articles, and even the ads are vegan.

Today's Hummus

1/3 cup tahini
2 TBS olive oil
1 cup chickpeas drained (mine were previously soaked, cooked, frozen, thawed, then warmed by pouring boiling water over them and letting them sit for 10 min)
2 TBS lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water

In the mini-food processor add all ingredients in order and process until smooth. Let come to room temperature or chill in the fridge.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Eggplant-Potato Moussaka from Veganomicon

I started off planning to make some veggie lasagna so I went hunting for the pine nut cream recipe in the Veganomicon. The pine nut cream actually goes with the Eggplant-Potato Moussaka, so I switched gears and decided to make moussaka. As instructed, I tried reading the recipe aloud three times and clicking my heels, but following the recipe was almost as easy.
I'd already roasted eggplant, zucchini, onions, and garlic, so this was even easier to make than lasagna. I just roasted the potato layer, simmered the sauce, and blended the pine nut cream. Layer it all together and pop in the oven.

The pine nut cream gets a little crusty on top and really seals the deal on this dish. Totally easy and delicious.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Grilled veggie panini with Daiya mozzarella

Oh the trendy panini, how I love thee. I got way too many veggies going on from the CSA with loads of zucchini, squash, and eggplant and I need to start getting creative on ways to use them. Daiya cheese melts so well and really rounds out the panini experience.

I have the older version of this cuisinart panini grill that I like, but from the Amazon comments it looks like this updated one is even better.

Off to watch more Avatar, the last Airbender...gotta love cartoons where the main character doesn't eat meat! I haven't seen the movie yet.
Don't miss this giveaway Vegan Crunk Bianca is giving away soap nuts on her blog.

Also remember to renew your Veg News subscription. This month's 10th anniversary issue features a gorgeous Peter Max cover, but only on the subscriber issue. It also has the 10 top vegan blogs, articles by Joshua Katcher and his sister Joelle, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Terry Hope Romero, Robin Robertson, Hannah Kaminsky, Dynise Balcavage and more. It also showcases the top veggie cities where of course New York Rules!!! There's Vegan Drinks, Veggie Prom, Veggie Pride Parade, Lula's Sweet Apothecary, Moo Shoes and 42 vegan restaurants! Go NYC!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Steamed Red Seitan from Viva Vegan and more

It's yet another rice bowl of Mexcellence. This one is topped with steamed red seitan from Viva Vegan. The sauce is tofutti better than sour cream mixed with aji panca.The aji panca is not too spicy, but has a really nice red peppery bite that is more bitter (in a good way) than a red bell pepper.

Now for the seitan...if you haven't made steamed seitan yet, what are you waiting for? If you haven't gotten a chance to pick up Viva Vegan yet (yes, you really do need another vegan cookbook, it's Terry Hope Romero awesomeness...) just google "steamed seitan" or check out the PPK post On Sausage and Community. Steaming seitan is slightly easier than boiling it (honestly, I've never bothered baking seitan) and it has a nice finished texture. Because you wrap each steak up in aluminum foil, it keeps it's shape as it expands when steaming. Also I think it breaks apart a little better if you want to make crumbles out of it. I made these a few days ago when it was a little cooler, and I think they are even better after chilling in the fridge. Lemon lime aid is a summer must. Limes were 12 for $2 at the store, so I had to get them even without a plan for them. The lemons were organic, so I grabbed that bag, too, though I don't think they were as cheap. Instead of letting them linger and go bad in the fridge, I juiced them and kept the juice for other things. Here's the freegan part...instead of tossing the peels after juicing, plunk them in a large pitcher, cover with water, and pop in the fridge. By the time the water is cold, it's infused with all the juice you didn't quite get out of them and the oils from the rinds. You can add a little sweetener if you like, but I dig it straight up. Cool and refreshing.

Fast and easy pickles.

My CSA has been providing me with way more cucumbers than I know what to do with. My mom used to can pickles, but I wasn't really into making that much effort on a hot day to preserve them. So I pulled out Vegan Deli by Joanne Stepaniak and found an easy Garlic Dill Pickles recipe. You just slice the cukes, pack them in a jar with seasonings, garlic, dill, peppercorns, mustard seeds, and bay leaves. Boil some water with salt, then pour over the cukes. Ball makes plastic lids that fit their jars and also fit lots of other jars from other commercial products. Classico spaghetti sauce and Zukay salsa are 2 jars that I know the lids fit. Yeah, I know plastic is evil, but it's easier than messing with the metal 2 part canning lids and you're going to reuse them forever.

Oh and in other exciting vegan blogger news...River is back at Wing-It Vegan and Halloweegan is on!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rockin' the rice bowl

Burrito schmurrito, all you need is rice bowl. Mexcellent rice, pinto beans, avocado, salsa, and tofu sour cream with a splash of lime.The secret to eating more grains and rice really is a fancy rice cooker. I don't have a microwave at home, so not only does it cook perfect rice every time, it also reheats beautifully in a snap. The secret to amazing Mexcellent rice is sofrito. Sofrito is a mix of onions and peppers that adds the perfect seasoning to any Latin American cooking. Most people have their own special way to make it (mine originated from Daisy cooks,) but it's basic components are onions and peppers. I don't cook it first, (Terry's recipe in Viva Vegan calls for cooking the sofrito) but it usually ends up cooking anyway in the final recipe. I generally use a sweet vidalia or maui onion so it's less overpoweringly oniony if I leave it raw for guacamole or something. My new addition to the sofrito this time is aji peppers. I haven't been able to find them fresh, so I finally broke down and got the jarred ones. My local grocery store has a pretty good selection of Latin American items. The aji peppers are about the same spiciness of a jalapeno, but a little bigger and with a different flavor.


1 vidalia onion
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
2 aji peppers
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch culantro (recao)

Chop all ingredients really fine or throw into a food processor. I do mine in batches in a mini food processor and mix them together. Keeps a few days in the fridge, or forever in the freezer. I save sofrito frozen in 1/2 cup portions in ziplock snack bags.

Mexcellent Rice

1 cup long grain rice
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup sofrito
1/4 cup green salad olives
2 TBS capers
1 good pinch saffron (optional, but makes the rice yellow)

Mix all ingredients together and press the on button on the rice cooker, or cook on stovetop according to rice directions.

I also made some monkey bread. This came from a mix that happened to be vegan (yay!) but it's pretty easy to find a vegan version. Essentially you could use any quick bread recipe and just take balls of the dough, dunk in sugar, and pop into a pan. Top with a sugar and melted earth balance mixture then bake at 375 for 30 minutes, and voila, monkey bread. I have a ton of zucchini, so maybe I'll try out a zucchini monkey break later this week. I'm all for sneaking vegetables in unusual places...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary and The Garden Cafe

Here's some photos of the animals at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. Loads of fun. We took the tour and walked around and took way too many pictures of the critters...

The educational information is available, but not too "in your face" because the animals really speak for themselves. In the case of the roosters, quite literally. The farm is very interactive and totally kid friendly. Everyone liked to be petted and the pig particularly likes the belly rub, though he couldn't really be bothered to wake up or anything. It was really hot out so most of the pigs were hanging out in the mud pond...
We headed into Woodstock for some dinner after the farm to the Garden Cafe. You can't miss it, it's right behind the drum circle. In case you're wondering, Woodstock is chock full of hippies like it's 1969...
At the Garden Cafe,I had a lovely asparagus tart, but I wolfed it down before I took a photo. We got the blinis which were an Indian spiced something over the little pancakes.

And the rockin' black bean quesadillas.

The Garden Cafe is a great vegan place to eat in Woodstock. You can sit outside, but we opted for the air conditioning which turned out to be the right move because just as we were leaving, the skies opened up for a downpour. I think the drum circle was still going...