Thursday, December 1, 2011

Butternut Quinoa Bulgur Toss


I had a squash from my mom’s garden, and some grains from the bulk aisle needing to be used in something. The result was gorgeous! What a beautiful and hearty dish for fall or winter.

Butternut Quinoa Bulgur Toss
To be honest, this is a busier recipe than others I've posted thus far - but it's worth it. I had a roasting pan, a sauce pot, and a skillet all engaged (in addition to my cutting board and knives), so you may want read through the recipe first and understand the timing. 

A note on the grains: you could just use one type of grain (double the amount) but it really added a lot of texture to use the two different types of grains. In fact, you could use any type of grain in this recipe, really. If you've got some leftover rice, feel free to toss it in, at the end, or substitute it for some or all of the quinoa or bulgur.

Ingredients:
  • Olive oil (sorry, I didn’t measure an amount before I started)
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cubed (1/2 to 3/4” cubes). Note: if the squash is very fresh, you can leave the skin on. Mine had been sitting on my counter for several weeks, so I peeled it first by cutting it into rounds with a heavy knife, and then using a paring knife to cut the rind off the rounds. Cinchy.
  • Optional: 2 tsp veggie bouillon or 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 1/3 c (dry) quinoa; OR 2/3 c cooked
  • 1/3 c (dry) bulgur wheat; OR 2/3 c cooked
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries, golden raisins, or other dried fruit of your choice
  • 1/2 small onion (yellow, white, or red), chopped
  • 4 oz (1/2 small carton) fresh mushrooms (white or baby portabella), chopped
  • 1/4 c walnut pieces
  • 1 TBS fresh chopped sage
  • Salt & pepper to taste


Directions:
Prep the vegetables while preheating the oven to 450 F.

If using dry grains: rinse the quinoa in a sieve under running water to remove the bitter saponin. Heat 1 1/2 c water in a small pan to a boil (add optional bouillon or soy sauce). Add the quinoa and return to boiling, reduce the heat to simmer, and put a lid on it. Set a kitchen timer for 7 minutes. If using pre-cooked grains, skip this part, but put the dried fruits in a small bowl and cover with a bit of of boiling water to allow them to soften; set aside.

Toss the squash cubes with olive oil, spread in a heavy roasting pan, and put it in the oven. The time will depend on how old the squash is; younger ones will need less time.

When the timer for the quinoa goes off, add the bulgur and give it a good stir. Bring it to a boil; and then reduce it to a simmer again and put the lid back on it. Set the timer for 10 minutes.

Check the squash. When the cubes are somewhere between soft and firm, remove the pan from the oven and set aside (as the squash will continue to cook for a few minutes after removing the pan from the oven).

When the timer goes off for the grains again, check them and give a good fluff. If they’re not completely done, that’s OK. Remove from heat, add the dried fruit, put the lid back on it, and set aside.

In a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil, sauté the onions and mushrooms for two minutes; add the walnuts. Continue to sauté, stirring so the walnuts don’t burn. When the onions are translucent, fluff the grains/fruit; if there is any liquid that hasn't been absorbed, just drain it off carefully. Add everything into the large skillet. Give it all a good toss together; add a bit more olive oil if you’d like, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve!

Serving suggestion: I made some tiny Gimme Lean! sausage style "meatballs" and browned them off in a nonstick skillet. No extra ingredients needed, perfect complement!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mustard Slaw

The last post was for a hot cabbage dish. Since I had half a head of cabbage left over... why not a cold slaw? Creamy style isn't my favorite, but I do love mustard. This dish would make a nice salad on a holiday table, and the mustard vinaigrette is a nice accompaniment to savory main dishes.

Mustard Slaw

Toss together:
1 head cabbage, shredded or chopped fine
1/2 bunch kale, washed and chopped fine
1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin shoestrings
(optional: finely diced celery, julienned jicama, radishes, or even shredded beets)

  • Whisk together:
  • 1/2 c. vinegar (cider vinegar, white, or rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 TBS sweetener of your choice (maple would be good)
  • 2 TBS prepared mustard (sweet-spicy, Dijon, or your other favorite)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. strong vegetable broth or reconstituted bouillon
  • Dash cayenne pepper

Combine and serve. Pack it all down and let it marinate overnight for the best flavor development.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Crack Slaw" & Cranberry Sauce

Boyfriend's mom sent him this link for a low-carb entree, called "Crack Slaw," supposedly named because it's that addictive. Being the cabbage lover I am, I had to try it. It's a hot dish rather than a cold salad-type slaw.


I made it with reconstituted textured soy protein instead of the hamburger. (Use equal volumes of dried TSP and boiling water, with a good dash of soy sauce.) As you can see, I added a bit of kale to the cabbage; also, I used fresh ginger instead of paste. 
"Crack Slaw" & Cranberry Sauce


The seasonings really made the dish! Don't skimp, especially if you're using unseasoned soy protein instead of the burger. It was a great weeknight meal, and easy to put together. And yes, I had to go back for seconds.


If you have any leftovers - but I doubt you will -  you could wrap it in lettuce leaves or softened cabbage leaves, or toss it with leftover rice, or stuff it into peppers or small squashes or eggplant.


The cranberry sauce was as simple as can be. Simmer the following together in a pot with a lid, stirring and mashing occasionally:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 package fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 TBS grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 a grapefruit OR orange OR lemon, zested
  • Dry sweetener of your choice, to taste. I used 1/2 cup Splenda.
Serve it hot, like a sauce, or cold, like a jelly. Eat it by itself, or on pancakes/waffles, or in a sandwich.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Do You Do Tofu?

You don't really need a recipe for a tofu scramble. You can use either water-packed or silken tofu. The trick is to start the tofu first, and let it cook for five to ten minutes (or longer) before adding vegetablesThis one trick improved my scrambles vastly! It's not that the tofu needs time to "cook" as much as it needs time to lose moisture and firm up - especially if you use silken tofu. That's the trick to getting a good scramble texture. Then, I add my veggies and seasonings and let it continue to cook until the veggies are tender-crisp.


Tofu scrambles are one of the most basic veg*n dishes, but I'm surprised how many vegetarians confess they have never made their own.


Aside from tofu, here's what I added to this scramble:
  • broccoli, cut into fine florets
  • yellow onion
  • white mushroom
  • carrot shreds
  • nutritional yeast - about 2-3 TBS. This is my one "must have" ingredient, because it adds so much flavor! I add it at the end, just a minute or so prior to serving.
  • a good dash of soy sauce (actually, it was Bragg's Liquid Aminos) just before taking it off the heat
  • seasoned salt, granulated garlic, and a very small dash of dried dill weed
Here's a great how-to video, and where I learned the importance of letting the tofu cook for some time in the pan first. (I use much less oil than she does, by the way.)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes & Tofu

I still have green tomatoes on the vine. This morning, I wanted to jazz up my tofu scramble, so I sliced a few smallish green tomatoes, and did this. The amounts you use aren't important, as long as you don't go crazy and over-season it:


Fried Green Tomatoes


Green tomatoes, sliced about 1/2" thick
Baking mix (I used Hodgson Mill)
Seasoning blend (I used Spike Hot & Spicy)
Nutritional yeast
Sea salt & pepper


Mix all the dry ingredients in a shallow dish. Spray a skillet with a liberal amount of nonstick spray and let it heat over medium-high. Dredge the tomatoes in the dry mixture, coating them well, and place in the heated skillet. Spray the tops with spray, also. Flip when the bottoms are browning... you understand the rest.


The tofu scramble was just a package of Mori-Nu tofu, onions, a few of the ripened red tomatoes, a dash of soy sauce, and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast. The key is to really let the tofu cook for quite a long time in the skillet on medium to medium-high heat, before adding the other ingredients.

This was such a simple breakfast, but so satisfying! 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Makin' Bacon

You don't need to buy the pre-packaged kind of veggie bacon. Really. It's easy to make your own. 


I'm at the the end of the garden season, and I have a few eggplants left. There are many lovely things to do with eggplants, but I'd never considered that they could be turned into - yes, truly - bacon. When I saw this recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen, I thought, "No way. That will be soggy and gross. But it wasn't - it was crispy and chewy and just right.  And if you don't count the non-stick spray, there are really only three ingredients. I just made half the recipe - one eggplant's worth - and immediately regretted that I'd only made half. I ate the entire pan's worth of "bacon."


(You could make it look more "bacony" by using the long, Japanese-style eggplants and slicing the strips the long thin way, if you wanted.)


You can use a similar marinate to make tofu bacon. I didn't get fancy when I sliced it, but if you prefer the long, thin strips, you can certainly do that. I used my Tofu Xpress and the water-packed style of tofu for this recipe; I don't recommend the soft/silken style that you buy in the aseptic boxes. I made it almost exactly the same way as the eggplant recipe above, but I baked the tofu about twice as long to evaporate more water out of the tofu, and I added a little nutritional yeast and a bit of real maple syrup to the soy-smoke marinate.


1 package of water-packed tofu, drained well, sliced into 1/8" strips, and patted dry
1/4 c. soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 TBS nutritional yeast (optional)


Heat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray it with nonstick. Lay the tofu pieces on the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake another 5-10 minutes. While they're baking, mix the other ingredients in a shallow dish. 


When the tofu comes out, dip each piece in the sauce, and return to the baking sheet. Bake another 5 minutes, then remove them and dip them again.  Repeat this process until the "bacon" is as chewy as you'd like. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for a long time. Use them for BLT's, dice them for "bacon bits", whatever!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Curried Carrot Soup


Curried Carrot Soup (Yeah, it's vegan!)


Curried Carrot Soup
2 TBS olive oil
1 medium red or yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 TBS curry powder
1 TBS chili powder
1 TBS cumin
2 c. shredded carrots
1 apple, diced
1/4 c. lentils (red preferred, but any will do)
2 c. vegetable broth or reconstituted bouillon
2 c. unsweetened almond milk (or sweetened, if you like... your preference)
sea salt & pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in a medium stock pot. Add onion, garlic, and spices, heating over medium and stirring occasionally until onion is translucent. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 30-40 minutes until lentils are tender. Remove from heat and let it sit to cool. If you're in a hurry, fill a sink with cold water and a tray of ice, and plunge the pan for a bit. Process in a blender, or carefully use an immersion blender, processing until smooth.


Serve with crusty bread, and say "OMG, this is so simple and good!"

Seafood!


I live in Nebraska, where people like steak and are somewhat leery of anything that could vaguely be construed as "hippie food." 


Roasted Seaweed Snack
I was recently snacking at my desk, and commented, "Oh, these are really good, you might like them. Want to taste?"


My coworker naturally asked me what "it" was. I said, "Well, I know you like seafood. This is actually a seaweed chip. Try a little corner?" Cautiously, she tried it.

When an omnivore coworker says, "Hey, that's kind of good!" you should go get some, especially when you can eat HALF A PACKAGE for 30 f***ing calories. It scores h
igh in flavor and mouth feel. It starts cripsy but ends chewy--and that, my friends, makes a fun snack.


http://www.traderjoes.com/pdf/onthecounter-seaweed.pdf

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Trader Joe's Creamy Polenta...

 ...with spinach and carrots...


Cover with wrap, nuke, and serve? Gotta try that.


When I opened the package, I wasn't prepared to see little muffin-looking things amid crumbles of frozen spinach. I thought there must be a mistake - that didn't even remotely resemble the photo on the package. Not even close. But I took about a third of the package (three servings per package) and put it in a glass bowl, covered it with wrap, and microwaved it. The microwave instructions suggested 5-6 minutes, but I checked it after 3 minutes, and was glad I did... what emerged had miraculously transformed from muffin-looking things into... well, something resembling cheesy polenta.


I had to let it cool a bit before tasting. Not bad... creamy and subtle, not over-seasoned. Would it be wrong to suggest adding curry or garam masala? Nomnomnom.



  • Easiness factor: 9/10. (You do have to cover it with wrap.)
  • Taste factor: 6/10. Nothing wrong with it at all. It was just fine.
  • Cost factor: $2.99 ($1 per serving)
  • Would I buy it again? Sure... though polenta isn't difficult to make anyway. But it's great when I'm feeling Really Quite Lazy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Spent Grain Bread

As I'd posted earlier, I am learning about beer, and particularly about craft homebrews. Today, I spent most of the day actually observing and photodocumenting the process, and I couldn't help but wonder to what purpose the spent grain might be put. Ah, yes - breadmaking. 

A quick search yielded this recipe for Spent Grain Beer Bread, from Jasmine at Beer At Joe's

If you like, veganize it by using almond milk instead of dairy; I used applesauce instead of the egg. I halved the recipe and free-formed the loaf into an oblong, baking it at 350F for 25 minutes.

This bread was THE BOMB. It was yeasty and caramelly, sweet and dense. I'm so glad I saved even more of the spent grain in zip baggies and froze it for later use!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oso Burrito, Lincoln, NE

HappyCow.net's mobile app is awesome, and I use it to find somewhere to eat wherever I travel.

I kept seeing Oso Burrito pop up as a veg-friendly option in Lincoln, so today was the day. I ordered the tofu burrito, no rice, add black beans, with ginger garlic salsa.The thing was huge - almost too big!

Although I didn't ask, I'm reasonably sure they soak and cook their own black beans, because they were too firm for my liking (beans should mash with light pressure); and the burrito kind of fell apart as I was eating it. Next time I'll add guacamole to help paste the ingredients together. However, it was very fresh-tasting and a healthy option.

Oso has a surprisingly nice beer selection for a little burrito shop.

More here at the Lincoln Journal Star.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Beer Quest

And now for something completely different. Well, maybe not completely, as it does fall into the food category. 


I've been learning a bit about beer - most importantly, that I don't dislike it, as I had previously thought. You see, I tried very, very hard in college to like beer, and yet despite trying it again and again, I could never choke down more than about three-quarters of one really cold beer. I just didn't like it. It tasted rotten and watery; and the stronger stuff tasted rotten and strong. (Strangely, I found whiskey and Scotch acceptable.)



My feelings about beer changed recently, as I was introduced to the world of craft beers and homebrewing, and gently nudged into sampling. Surprise! Much different. Flavor, nuance, and even some brews with big bold tastes. To be sure, I don't like them all, but I was intrigued enough to learn and sample more.


Unexpectedly, I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to help steward at the semi-finals for Empyrean Ales Beer Quest in Lincoln, NE, where 21 homebrewers' brews were narrowed down to a list of ten by six judges. Today was the public judging of those ten - and a chance to meet and talk with the brewers. (Also of great interest was simply listening to the public talk about the beers and what they were noting.) There were some interesting flavors: maple, chocolate-orange, pumpernickel/caraway, molasses, peach cobbler, orange "creamsicle", and rhubarb, just to name a few.


What I took away from it all, is the striking similarities between brewing and cooking. Some of the brewers had a particular goal in mind and planned for it ("I want to make something that uses ginger; how should I go about it best"); while others were inspired somewhat on a whim by a particular ingredient or idea ("Hey! I wonder what these wild raspberries would taste like in a beer; I'll buy a few pounds and take them home") . This is not unlike cooking or even baking - sometimes I will have something very specific in mind and go shopping for ingredients; while other times, I improvise based on what I have on hand and end up with something really remarkable.


Congratulations to Belding & Anciaux on their lovely rhubarb witbier and also their rhubarb saison, and to Watson on his orange blossom rye (one of my favorites; the type I could drink all-around as a general beer). But, the real winner was me, for expanding my horizons. 


In the future, look for suggested beer pairings with the dishes I serve up for RQT.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Where did RQT go?

That's a great question. Landed a day job! Struggled with some personal life stuff. Seeing somebody special. Will be updating more regularly, sorry for being a cad.

Made the most amazing veggie korma the other day from allrecipes, but got so caught up with my company that I actually forgot to photograph it and blog it. It's not vegan, but could easily become so by substituting your favorite non-milk cream or coconut milk. I served it with dahl, flatbread brushed with olive oil (my local store didn't carry naan this time around), and cucumber raita.

I love photographing food I've made. The fact that I didn't shoot this meal should say something about the quality of the company I was keeping... :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

RQT visits Pepe's in Lincoln, NE

Front counter & kitchenette
Is it Pepe's Veggie Mix Bistro, or Pepe's Veggie Mex Bistro? I'm still not sure! 

Located in the Havelock neighborhood in Lincoln, NE, the Happy Cow Guide listed this as a full vegetarian restaurant with good reviews, and so ReallyQuiteTasty investigated. The bistro is located up the flight of stairs atop an art gallery.  (If street parking isn't available, there is parking in the rear--the tall wooden stairs with the deck lead up to the back entrance.) Note that if you or your companions have mobility issues, you may have a challenge in reaching the top.

The day's offerings are influenced by the season and change daily, though from what I can gather from previous reviews, there is a regular rotation of items. On the day we visited, the choices on the menu board included chips & salsa, sweet potato & black bean quesadillas, and a sandwich featuring tofu on ciabatta bread. Very limited, but it prevented me from needing to agonize over a long list of offerings. My companion and I ordered at the register and sat down to enjoy the eclectic but homey vibe.

I couldn't decide between the quesadilla and the sandwich, so I ordered both. The salsa was tasty and bright. I had hoped the chips might be homemade, they didn't appear to be so. The plating of the quesadilla was beautiful, as you can see, and though the pairing of sweet potato and black beans is always lovely, the dish didn't particularly stand out; it was a nice but basic dish, though the guacamole was made special with the addition of chopped apple.



Can I say that I was disappointed in the sandwich? From the description on the menu board, I expected a tofu cutlet (perhaps marinated?) layered with some type of spread on the ciabatta bread, but I was greeted instead by a few slices of vegetarian mock deli meat (perhaps Lightlife® Smart Deli™, or maybe Yves® The Good Deli™ brand) and a thin smearing of spread, salsa, and pickle chips. Don't get me wrong - it tasted fine, and it was presented neatly, accompanied by beans and rice. But it just wasn't what I'd hoped, and I felt a little cheated by the deli slices.

I was glad I ordered the cucumber lemonade. From what I've gathered from others, it's a signature beverage for Pepe's. It was unique, refreshing, and not overly sweet; and the serving size of the glass was generous. Definitely try it!

All in all, I will return again - not because I was impressed by the food, but because vegetarian restaurants deserve our patronage. Previous reviewers have raved about the offerings. I found them acceptable but not outstanding, and therefore I was somewhat disappointed; but the atmosphere is nice and I'd like to imagine that maybe I happened to be there on a less than stellar day.

Pepe's is located at 6220 Havelock, Lincoln, NE. Telephone (402) 466-9774.



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review: Tofurky Breakfast Links (vegan)


Tofurkey Breakfast Links packaging
 Sausage is one of those things from my pre-vegetarian days that I really enjoyed a lot. I've made my own sausages, and I've had Morningstar Farms and quite liked the taste and texture, but it was time to try something completely vegan, so I picked up a package of Tofurky Breakfast Links for about $4.25.

The recommended preparation: "Cut diagonally into 3/4" slices or cut down the middle lengthwise and pan fry until golden brown." So... that's what I did, as you can see. I coated the pan with a little non-stick spray and used medium-high heat. They looked quite attractive.

Time for a bite. The texture was a bit soft and spongy - not surprising as the primary ingredients are water, vital wheat gluten, canola oil, and tofu. I would like a little firmer texture, but they were acceptable. Next time I might use slightly more oil in the pan and crisp them up a little more.

Prepared per package suggestion

On seeing the flecks of black pepper and red pepper, I wondered how spicy they would be - but not to fear, they were somewhere between mild and medium. (My five-year-old said, "Mommy, the reason I don't like these is I need to take a drink every bite. They're too spicy." But she's also at a very picky stage in her food life.)

After the first link, I ate the next one wrapped up in a piece of toast with sweet & spicy mustard. Lovely! The mustard really complimented the seasoning in the sausage.

The links are sizeable for breakfast, about the size of a traditional hot dog. They'd be a nice alternative to veggie dogs on the grill. I'd think like them with grilled onions or kraut.

Nutrition commentary: 4g of fiber, yay! 11g of protein, yay! Too bad they don't reduce the sodium content.

Nutrition info per link, from the packaging:

Size: 1.6 oz. (5 per package)
Calories: 130
Fat cal: 50
Total fat: 6g
Sat fat, trans fat, & cholesterol: 0g
Sodium: 330mg (14%DV)
Total carb: 6g
Fiber: 4g
Sugars: 1g
Protein: 11g
Vitamin A, Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 2%
Iron: 4%

Bottom line: I would buy them again if they were on sale, or if I was having omni guests, as they have the traditional look of sausages. On the other hand, I can (and have), made my own sausages which are just as tasty, for less money. But if convenience is a factor for you, these are definitely worth trying.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Maggie's Vegetarian Cafe, Lincoln, NE

I had occasion to travel to Lincoln, NE, today to drop my daughter off with her father. (Must confess it isn't my favorite reason to travel, but I mitigated it somewhat by turning it into a ReallyQuiteTasty roadtrip.) I tried out HappyCow.net's mobile app to maneuver my way to Maggie's Vegetarian Cafe. Maggie's features a small menu of wraps, soups, salads, and select entrees with an emphasis on local/seasonal foods.

First, I was surprised at how small the indoor seating area was, but it had a cheery shade of green on the walls and was attractive while avoiding being either overly kitchy or hipsterish. My friend and I ordered at the window and then sat down. (Be prepared - Maggie's does not accept credit/debit/atm cards.)

I really wish the person behind the counter would have smiled. She seemed bored.

The food was fine - not amazing, but certainly sufficient. I had the Un-Fried Falafel wrap. (There are three other vegan wraps on the menu, including Curried Tofu, Baked Tofu, and Spicy Hummus.) The falafel was tangy and seasoned nicely and I couldn't find any fault with it (nor anything that made it stand out). I did appreciate that it wasn't oily or greasy at all, so I liked the un-fried-ness of it.

My friend ordered a garden salad with toasted sesame dressing, hold the onions and tomatoes (heresy, I say!). Though my friend likes sesame, he said the dressing on the salad was overwhelming. However, I really like sesame and enjoyed the dressing quite a bit - it's a matter of taste, I suppose.

For my almost-kindergartener daughter, I ordered the peanut butter/banana smoothie. The flavors were distinct (yup, definitely peanut butter and banana), the consistency was good, and I appreciated that it wasn't overly sweet. My daughter, who lives on sunlight and carrots, pronounced that it was OK. That's pretty high praise from her!

Something I enjoyed were the posters showing the producers/growers/artisan suppliers - nice touch. Overall, a nice experience and I'm sure I will return again... but not before checking out other vegetarian/veg-friendly spots.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Like Vegetables

Shhh, I'm memorizing this, so I can bust into a verse and chorus at a time of my choosing.

Creamy Coconut Pie. (I said "PIE!")

Creamy Coconut Pie
You have got to try this pie.

This is the first time I made this recipe. When I finally tried a slice (it was hard to wait long enough to let it chill!), it was like a coconut was making love to my mouth. The filling reminded me of sweetened condensed milk. If you've always been vegan or non-dairy and you don't know what sweetened condensed milk is... well, it's like this stuff. If you have friends who have never had tofu or are avowed tofu-haters, make this pie for them. (Unless they're allergic to soy, of course. That would just be mean.) Don't tell them what's in it until later - they'll probably ask you how you made this amazing thing, anyway. See more commentary following the recipe.

Creamy Coconut Pie [From How it all Vegan! Irresistible recipes for an animal-free diet, by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer.]

Classically creamy and light as a cloud, this is the kind of pie dreams are made of.

2 cups soft tofu
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups dry sweetener [white sugar, turbinado, sucanat, whatever...]
2 1/4 cups coconut, shredded
1 graham cracker pie crust (p. 151 [of How It All Vegan!])

Preheat oven to 350F. In a blender or food processor, blend together the tofu, oil, vanilla, salt, and sweetener. Pour into a large bowl and fold in 2 cups of the coconut. Pour into a graham cracker pie crust and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of coconut on top and bake for another 10 minutes, until filling looks set and centre is firm. Serve chilled.

What I used:
• Tofu: Mori-Nu light firm silken tofu
• Oil: Peanut oil, as I thought it would be light tasting for desserts.
• Sweetener: Yes, I used white sugar. I hardly ever do this, but it was a dessert, I splurged. The pie was very sweet. Frankly, I enjoyed it, but some people might want to reduce the sugar to 1 cup.
• Coconut: Unsweetened, raw coconut flakes. Wow, am I glad I used unsweetened coconut.
• Graham cracker pie crust - I made my own ahead and made sure it was cool before using it. "Comment" me below if you want the recipe, it was awesome and easy.

A slice of coconutty love

What I did:
I used a food processor for the blending; and when I added the oil, I streamed it slowly into the processor so it really incorporated. You want this to really process/blend, so it's smooooooooth and the sugar dissolves and there aren't any tofu-y lumps. I suggest scraping the sides down at least once, because when you first start up the food processor or blender, some pieces of tofu will probably go flying and stick to the sides.

When I sampled the filling, I'm pretty sure my eyes rolled to the back of my head. I did add 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice - not part of the original recipe - to mitigate the very slight tofu taste, and it worked great.

I had to cook the pie longer than the total of 25 minutes... it was closer to about 35 minutes until I felt the center was beginning to set. Next time - and there will definitely be a next time - I will cook it for about 20-25 minutes and then add the coconut topping and return it to the oven for the second bake.

It's like manna. Seriously.
Some day soon, I’m going to try making this in an 8x8 or 9x13 pan, with a thicker graham cracker crust. I will probably fold in some almonds or walnuts or pecans, and I might even try adding lemon or lime juice, but the pie – as a pie – is really quite tasty!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quick Sweet Potato & Rosemary Pizza

This isn't really a recipe (no exact proportions) as much as an idea. I'd been craving sweet potato and rosemary pizza, and if you've ever tried it, you'll know why. If you've never tried it before, you must. Here's what I did - I had one medium sized sweet potato, and it made three flatbread pizzas. Don't skip the rosemary, pepper, or olive oil - they add a lot of fragarance and flavor. I'm sure you could use whatever crust you wanted or make your own. But with flatbreads (pitas, wraps, whatever), it's really easy, and really fast... and of course, really quite tasty. [EDIT: I have just learned from the company that Flatout breads are not vegan; wanted you to know.]


Ingredients:
Flatout Flatbread Healthy Grain Multi-Grain with Flax
Extra firm water packed tofu
Sweet potato, raw
Daiya mozzarella style shreds
Rosemary
Freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar or balsamic syrup

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 375F. Press the water out of the tofu and slice it as thinly as possible. With a vegetable peeler, peel the sweet potato into strips/slices. On each flatbread, sprinkle a little Daiya, then arrange the tofu and sweet potato slices on top. Sprinkle with more Daiya, rosemary, and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar, and bake until crust is starting to crisp and the Daiya is melty. (I baked two of them on an extra large pizza pan, side-by-side; the third one I baked right on the rack - each way worked fine, I just had to watch them.)

I ate two of them, by myself, because they were so good. Oops. (Oh well, with the Flatouts, at least they weren't all that calorie-laden!)


What are your favorite vegetarian/vegan pizza toppings? What's the most unusual thing you've had on pizza?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Orange Greens & Mushrooms served with Blackened Tempeh

Orange Greens & Mushrooms w/Blackened Tempeh
I had a big mess of fresh greens leftover from making Jana’s Spring Garden Soup. The greens were still crisp, as I had wrapped them in a damp paper towel and placed them in a loose produce bag in the fridge, but I wanted to use them up before they got limp, so here’s what I improvised. You can start with a LOT of greens because they’ll cook down. I had a very large colander full. Sorry to admit, I ate the whole lot in one sitting.

Ingredients for the greens:
1-3 TBS olive oil
2-6 garlic cloves, depending on your love for garlic, and the amount of greens you’re using
1/2 to 1 entire onion (yellow, white, or red)
4 to 8 oz. mushrooms (I used white – you could get fancier with this)
Fresh greens: kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, spinach, whatever
1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable base, bouillon, or strong stock
1 orange
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Ingredients for the tempeh:
1 block of tempeh – whatever kind you like
1-2 TBS olive oil
“Blackened” seasoning to your liking

Preparation:
Clean, dry, and chop the greens roughly and set aside. (I recommend taking out the spine of the kale and the collard greens.) Separate the onions into rings, or half-rings and set aside. Roughly chop the garlic. Slice the mushrooms fairly thick. Zest half of the orange, reserving the zest and that half of the orange (slice the other half of the orange for garnish). Slice the tempeh into 1/4” thick slabs.

Directions:
In a very large skillet (or heavy soup pot - you'll need a lid for either) heat the olive oil over medium to medium-high heat (...without the lid... unless you want a fire). Sautee the onions, mushrooms, and garlic until the onions start to turn translucent, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the greens and vegetable base/bouillon/stock. Cover and reduce heat to simmer; simmer until the greens are not quite tender.

While the greens are simmering, heat a medium-sized nonstick skillet on medium to medium-high. Brush the tempeh slices with olive oil and sprinkle with blackened seasoning on both sides. Put them in the skillet and cook until browned, checking that they don’t burn, while finishing the next steps.

Remove the lid on the greens, increase heat to medium, and add the orange zest and a good squeeze of the half that you zested. Add salt & pepper, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced and the greens are as done as you would like. Plate it, garnish it, serve it, and enjoy it!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Indian Cauliflower Curry Recipe


Cauliflower Curry

I was in the mood for curry, but don’t have garam masala on hand. When I came across this recipe, I had to try it. (http://bit.ly/9c2Kss) I already had all the spices on hand, and fresh ginger – perhaps you do, too? I liked that it didn’t call for anything too exotic, and the description said “This authentic Indian curry recipe is both vegetarian and vegan.” Well, I’m all for authentic.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp sesame seeds
3 tbsp peanuts
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, diced
1 cauliflower, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Preparation:

In a blender or food processor, grind together the ginger, sesame seeds, peanuts, garlic, spices and water. Sautee the onions in vegetable oil over medium high heat about 3-5 minutes, or until onions turn clear. Add cauliflower and spices mixture and cover. Allow to cook another 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally until cauliflower is almost done. Add lemon juice and allow to cook for 3 more minutes. Enjoy!

I have a two-cup food processor which I thought would be great for making the spice mixture. I ended up having to add some liquid to actually get the stuff to grind. I added another TBS of water and 1 TBS of olive oil. It did smell heavenly though!

As I was breaking my head of cauliflower into florets, I realized that it was a huge head of cauli, so I only used half of it. In addition, I added one small potato (diced, with the skin - to remove it is a sin!) at the same time as the onion, and a small green pepper when I added the cauli.

Perhaps I didn’t have the heat high enough, but it took much longer than 10-12 minutes for the cauliflower to be done.

Might I suggest adding some extra firm tofu? Maybe some chickpeas too. If you wanted to be fancy with the thing, a slight char on the cauliflower would add something to the dish - perhaps this could be accomplished with a few minutes of broiling the cauliflower before adding it to the recipe.

The recipe couldn’t be much simpler. The end result was pretty. Although it didn’t have the complexity of some of the Indian dishes I completely adore, it was quick and satisfied my need for Indian food, and it was really quite tasty.