Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Vegan Cheese Steak Sandwich at Sweetgrass

I almost missed this on the menu.  Vegan cheese steak?  Done.

The waiter promised to try it, so I'm reposting to their Facebook page.

Perfectly meaty seitan with melted Daiya and mildly spicy sauce.

Sweetgrass has always been veg friendly, and has amped up the vegan dishes on the regular menu.  This one is a keeper.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Too hot to cook? Cold summer vegetable soup.

The secret ingredient is cashew cream, but I'll get to that in a minute.

When my first world complaint is that there's simply too much broccoli in my CSA share,  it's time to make soup.

Soup is always about the ingredients and the fresher the better.  A few simple tricks can make this an almost instant treat.  Advance planning when it's cooler, and you can create a simple base that can be used to create quick soup throughout the week.

This soup had about four big heads of broccoli with the stems.  The addition of carrots and potatoes did lighten the green tint.

Almost Instant:

For instant cold smooth soup, add pretty much any vegetable or bean combination (raw, pre-cooked, frozen, or whatever you have that you like) to the blender or food processor about halfway up and completely cover with water or vegetable broth with about an extra inch above the vegetable line.  Blend this first and you can quickly see if you need it thinner or thicker.  It's a good time to add some salt or vegetable bullion to taste and blend again.  Add more broth or water for thinner.  I don't use raw potatoes because I find them gritty raw, but I usually add some cooked potatoes or dried potato flakes to make it thicker.  I also generally opt for only a small amount of raw garlic, scapes, shallot, scallion, or sweet onion. Too much or a really potent one can totally overpower your soup.  I add a dollop of cashew cream to blend in.  It's a bit tangy and salty and balances out the veggies nicely.

Advance planning version:

If you've got too many veggies that are at risk of going bad in the fridge, making a soup base will help preserve them.  I do prefer them cooked generally so basically add them all to a pot and include some potatoes and more of the onion family.  Carrots and celery are also good bases.

Last week I had carrot, onion, garlic, shallot, celery, both cooked and raw potaoes, some unidentified root vegetables, the aforementioned too-much-broccoli, parsley, and some cooked lentils.  Put it in a large pot, cover plus one inch with broth and water, salt to taste, simmer about an hour and blend it all together.  I store it in the fridge in quart mason jars after it's cooled but not cold.  Not canned, but the mason jars get sort of vacuum sealed and it lasts more than 2 weeks in the fridge.  This is good reheated or cold, but in 95 degree weather, who am I kidding; I'm opting for cold.  If it gets too thick in the fridge I add some cold water to make it less like baby food and top with cashew cream and a dash of seasoned salt.

You can also use the base as the canvas for other more complex soups or add herbs and spices or more diced veggies or beans after blending. It is incredibly diverse and versatile.

I made the cashew cream topping with rejeuvalac, but that requires advance planning so the cheater version is below.

Cashew cream:

1 cup unroasted unsalted cashews
Juice from one fresh lemon
Salt to taste

Soak the cashews in water for about an hour and drain.  Blend together.  Add a little water if it doesn't come together or is too thick.

Really it's all about the cashew cream, but getting more vegetables and soup is always a good thing.

Monday, August 10, 2015

BLT sushi rolls

Here's my iron chef sushi submission.  Weirdly it's the tomato that's the oddball ingredient as the bacon is tempeh, and avocado (swapped for the lettuce) is a fairly normal American sushi roll ingredient.  

Topped with a vegan mayo mixed with some sriracha.  

I brought the rice cooker into the office and made this at work.  I did pretty good with the rolling.  

Mixed verdict with the tasters.  I usually waited until after they tried it to mention "fermented" and "soy" in the same sentence with "it's not really bacon."