Monthly Archives: November 2009

Breakfast Rissoto & Vegetable Soup

This weekend it was nice to start cooking non-Thanksgiving food! My house was practically wiped out of vegetables and staples but we managed to come up with enough to keep us happy and well fed.On Sunday I made Fennel Breakfast Risotto, a recipe from Vegan Brunch. I made a lot of little changes to pump up the flavors because it was a little lacking but with more seasoning, nooch, and vegeta it turned out wonderful, especially since I made the smokey mushrooms on top. I think the mushrooms were very important and should always be a part of the recipe not optional!

We also made crepes over the weekend, again from Vegan Brunch. I just adore this crepe recipe, they are the best one I have found since going vegan. We stuffed them for lunch with Kittie’s recipe for Atar Allecha

I was a little disappointed because the recipe said it would serve 6 to 8 but I should have realized that would only be true if you were making a traditional Ethiopian feast of many different dishes because it wouldn’t have served the two of us without the last minute addition of steamed broccoli. I am excited to try the other recipes she has for Ethiopian food now that we have the niter kebbeh made. Later that night I stuffed the crepes with bananas and white chocolate and the were amazing.

And speaking of Ethiopia, I won a cookbook called The New American Table by Marcus Samuelsson. The author was born in Ethiopia but grew up in Sweden and then moved to the US as a young man. He fell in love with all the different styles of food coming together here and became a chef. I love this book, it is really big, with tons of really interesting recipes and has the most beautiful pictures. Even though there is lots of meat and dairy he also has plenty of completely vegan recipes since he focuses on new twists of immigrant food. He even cooked a vegetarian feast for President Obama and the Prime Minister of India at the white house! I wonder what I would cook for Obama. Probably I would have a total panic attack trying to decide and then end up making something really stupid that was inspired by the White Sox. Like crepes that are shaped like socks stuffed with polish sauasges and sauerkraut.

Anyway, I have found the book very inspiring and am excited to try some of the ideas like tea-poached bok choi. Mr. Smurf made the vegetable soup last night and it was amazing, the flavors were kind of Asian but Italian too. I didn’t make it so I don’t remember everything that went in it though! It had amazing depth of flavor. We will make it again I am sure.

One of the reasons that I picked this recipe was because we had almost everything we needed on hand except for the avocado. On the way home from the gym I stopped by the store to pick one up and they gave it to me for free! So I didn’t spend one cent over the four day weekend. I am proud because I have to save up for Miami for New Years, Chicago for Serbian Christmas, and maybe London for a wedding in February! So expect a lot of cabbage, rice and potatoes in the weeks ahead.

Thanksgiving Dumplings

We had the best Thanksgiving Dinner ever! I have been working on a recipe for seitan dumplings all week but they didn’t come together perfectly until the actual meal, they were awesome and everyone really liked them more than I thought possible! Here is a picture of one of the earlier versions before I realized that I should wrap them in cheesecloth.The version on thanksgiving was stuffed with a cornbread chorizo dressing that I just loved. I made the stock the day before I made the dumplings so that I would have more time and also because I learned that it is really important to use COLD stock when making seitan. If you want to make this recipe, you could use powdered broth cubes mixed with water but the roasted vegetable stock made a big difference in the final taste of the seitan. I made the dressing while I made the stock and refrigerated overnight. It is easy to make the dressing while stock is simmering because than you can easily add the liquid whatever amount of liquid you need.I didn’t put specific quantities of everything for the stock because I didn’t measure. It will work out regardless, you don’t need to add everything on this list if you don’t have it.
Roasted Vegetable Stock
2 leeks, edges cut off and split in half
2 onions, quartered
3 carrots, halved
3 parsnips, halved
4 stalks celery
bay leaves
thyme sprigs
sage leaves
peppercorns
white wine
soy sauce
water
parsley
vegetable odds and ends (onion skins, garlic tops etc)

Lay the vegetables on a greased cookie sheet. Spray with olive oil and top with thyme sprigs, salt, and sage leaves and place in the oven at 350 degrees for about a half hour until starting to brown. Put the vegetables in a pot along with the other ingredients and cover with water and add the other ingredients. Simmer for an hour and refrigerate over night.

If the cornbread isn’t a day old you can put the cubes in the oven and toast them for a half hour while roasting the vegetables

Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing
1 recipe of day old cornbread, cubed (I used a recipe from “The Dirty South” it was great!)
1 cup of vegan chorizo
1 TBSP oil
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 TBSP garlic
1 roasted skinned and seeded poblano, chopped
1 TBSP fresh cuban oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 TBSP ground flaxseed mixed with 3 TBSP water
~1/2 cup of vegetable stock

Saute the chorizo in a large saute pan and cook about five minutes, until it changes color. Add the oil, onion, and celery and cook until the vegetables are soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and poblano and stir for about a minute and then add the cornbread, tossing the mixture to get it covered. Add stock if necessary to stop the cornbread from sticking and keep the whole thing from drying out. Once the mixture looks softened and like dressing add the herbs, salt if necessary, and the flax-egg.

Thanksgiving Dumplings
Yields 12 dumplings

3 Cups Vital Wheat Gluten
1/4 Cup almond meal
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
6 Cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 Cup olive oil
2 cups stock + 4 cups for baking
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the oil and 2 cups of stock and mix with your hands and knead until the gluten becomes activated and stringy. Separate into 12 small balls. Using either a tortilla press or two pieces of parchment paper and a rolling pin, squash the ball of gluten flat. This can be kind of difficult because the gluten isn’t going to want to stretch out. The best way I have found is to press it flat for a minute, and then put something heavy on top of it while you prepare the cheesecloth and the stuffing. Cut a square of cheesecloth that has at least two or three layers folded and is about 6X6 inches and lay it flat. Grab a handful of stuffing and roll it into a ball, about the size of a golf ball, and keep it in one hand when you remove the weight or tortilla press off the flattened gluten. Quickly place the stuffing in the middle of the round and grab the edges surrounding the stuffing with the gluten. Form a ball with your hand, part of the stuffing will probably be uncovered where the edges meet, but that is just fine. You don’t want overlap because than you will have a really thick piece of gluten. Put the opening side down on the square of cheesecloth grab the four corners and twist them together and tie off tightly with a piece of string. Place all 12 balls in a roasting pan, I squeezed them into an 9X9 pan, and cover them completely with stock. Cover with foil or a lid and bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours. Unwrap the dumplings and enjoy!

For the rest of the meal, we made jalapeno gravy with roasted poblanos, holiday cranberry sauce, and the mac daddy from the Veganomicon, roasted garlic mashed potatoes,  pumpernickle apple-sage dressing, agave-miso glazed brussels sprouts with red onions,

and my friend Andrea brought a Sri Lankan Sweet Potatoe casserole that was so good.

When we finally got everything to the table it seemed like more food than we could possibly eat, like a cartoon!

The dogs took their places under the table, ready to get any food that dropped to the floor.

and then I put way too much food on my plate

this is where I realized that I would never have to eat again

But then Giovanni busted out the garam masala pumpkin cupcakes while we were playing trivial pursuit and I spent the rest of the night laying around drinking cider. It was the perfect day!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Save a Turkey Day!

Last year I asked one of my co-workers if she wanted to go in on saving a turkey together from Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey program. While I was telling her about it another coworker overheard and said he would participate too. The next thing I new we started taking donations and saved three turkeys! This year, with the tiniest bit of organization, we raised a hundred and fifty dollars for Farm Sanctuary! Enough to save a whole flock! I am so excited because it has gotten everyone talking about turkeys and how great they are and the horrible things that happen to them in evil factory farms. And I have learned that I work with some really wonderful people. This morning I saw that farm sanctuary rescued some baby turkeys and they are omg adorable.

In other cute animal news I wanted to tell you a story about our dogs.Dinger, on the right in the charming baby blue sweater, has been sick for the last month. We had to change his food to prescription dog food that is very expensive. Willow, on the left, loves Dinger more than anyone in the world. She is just crazy about him, but she is very jealous of his special food, even though she has always been perfectly happy before with her dog food. In the past, she would always wait until Dinger had eaten before she ate. If she came near him he would growl and she would sit behind him looking adoringly at him until she got permission.

Since he got the new food she has become totally desperate for it. When we first switched him she went on a hunger strike for a couple days. She went back to eating her own food but occasionally got into his food and wolfed it down psychotically. And I mean totally crazy like a starving dog on the street, not at all like a pampered, sweater-wearing, bed-sleeping, full-bellied house beagle that she is. Dinger has been watching her recent exploits with what appeared to be very little interest until a few days ago.

We noticed that now, when he gets his bowl of food, before he starts to eat, he puts a few pieces of food in his mouth and carries them over to Willow. He drops them on the floor and then goes back to finish his meal. Can you believe that? He knows that she wants the food so bad but we won’t let her have any so he gives her a little treat. They love each other!

And on that note, Happy Thanksgiving even if you are not American. I am so thankful for good people and good dogs in my life.

Miso Glazed Brussels Sprouts

I love Brussels Sprouts. I think they would be more popular if they were called “petite cabbages” or maybe “tiny green balls”. Maybe then green balls would enter the vegan lexicon and could later be used in other ways like vegan slang for when you think a restaurant is going to have vegan options but really everything has animals in it and you leave unsatisfied. We could say things like “The Salt Lick gave me the worst green balls, my balls were so green you’d think my daddy was a leprechaun”. Well maybe that would be kind of horrible.

I usually eat Brussels Sprouts sliced and roasted but for Thanksgiving it is nice to serve them whole and sauced. This recipe doesn’t have to be exact because it will depend on how many sprouts you have, you can use more or less sprouts if necessary just increase the shallots too. If you are going to be using a whole stalk I would double the recipe for the sauce. If you like your sprouts cut in half you can get a nice sear if you lay them flat on the pan when you add them; just start the shallots first, lay them down and then don’t disturb them for 3-5 minutes. If you want them whole, here is the recipe

Miso Glazed Brussels Sprouts

2 shallots, sliced
about 30 Brussels Sprouts, outer leaves and stem trimmed
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon miso
1/2 cup white wine

Heat a skillet on medium high heat with a little bit of cooking oil. Saute the shallots and the Brussels Sprouts until the latter are brown, about five minutes. Separately, whisk together the agave, miso, and wine. Add to the pan, turn the temperature to low and cover. Cook 10 to 12 minutes stirring every now and then until the Brussels are done. Enjoy!

Snack Bar Austin – open for business

I am so excited to report that I finally got to try Snack Bar for brunch over the weekend. I have been watching the progress on the building for months and my friend Judy has been giving me updates on their progress and telling tales of a vegan friendly menu for so long that I was beginning to think it was all a big joke and that they would have a vegan entree like “mixed vegetables” . Kind of like when I read that the Black Sheep Lodge had the best veggie burger in town but it turned out that it was a garden burger. I am happy to say that Snack Bar is everything it was hyped to be. They must have a vegan in the kitchen, or at least know one that is into food! The owner, an artist names Bethany Andree, has been beset with structural problems with the building since acquiring the place last year but has done a great job, with help from her friends, turning it around. They have done such an amazing job with the place! The outdoor patio looks really nice, it is right on South Congress but nicely shielded from the traffic with plants and the inside is bigger than I would have thought it would be and really nice. I love the casual modern style. The concept is to have a place where guests at the hotel behind it can pick up things that they forgot and also get drinks, food, and coffee but the location is going to also get lots of foot traffic and vegan traffic as well.

I went with Alin and Molly, who are both vegan food lovers in Austin and we were all happy with the overall experience. In fact, we talked about coming back separately the next day! There are several places in Austin where a vegan can find some brunch, notably Bouldin Creek and Somnios but Snack Bar is the first place in Austin to really make an effort at vegan diner food rather than ovo-lacto vegetarian food minus the cheese or tacos. Don’t get me wrong, I love tacos and scrambles but when I go to other towns I am always so excited to have things like biscuits and bacon-style tempeh. When I checked out the snack bar menu I was thrilled. We were spoiled for choice and had a hard time making decisions. The first thing I ordered was coffee, I was a first let down that they didn’t have vegan creamer but then thrilled when they brought me a glass of steamed soy milk, there was enough for the multiple cups that the wait staff kept bringing which was a really nice treat. The coffee itself was surprisingly good.Alin got the “Freedom Benny” which was griddled tofu, smoked tomatoes on petite waffles and topped with vegan Hollandaise. It looked really good and I can’t wait to try it. Molly got the waffles with apple chutney and maple tempeh strips. I tried the latter and I thought that they were super, tempeh can be tricky to prepare correctly and they did it just right. I really wanted to get the seitan sausages or the tofu scramble that is made with leeks crimini mushrooms and carrots but I couldn’t stop myself from ordering the biscuits with tempeh gravy because I was so excited that they were on the menu.The biscuits were really good, the gravy needs a little work but I am confident that they will get it together, the place did just open. It was cold the first time they brought it out but the waitstaff rectified the situation very quickly and handled the incident very well. I thought it needed a little more spice and that is was under-seasoned but I was a still a happy smurf and ate every bit. Alin and I both got the potato hash cake and that was definitely my favorite thing that I tried. The potatoes in this baby are mixed with cabbage, leeks, and onions and then pan seared. It was just perfect and only a dollar fifty. In fact, my whole meal was less than ten dollars with tip which means that I can go back any time and I certainly will!

The lunch menu looks really good too, the have an avocado stuffed veggie burger and a seitan BBQ sandwich in addition to quite a few salads, including a raw offering. Hopefully they will add a vegan monte cristo and then it will be perfect! The only real problem is that pretty soon they are going to have a long waiting line. Snack Bar os definitely be worth the wait.

Vegan Dad’s Vegetable Stew with Biscuit Topping

I made this stew last night and it was comforting and enough to feed an army. Well, a very small army anyway. The biscuit topping was my favorite vegan biscuit so far which is amazing because I had a lot of trouble following the recipe. I think it turned out so tasty because of the nutritional yeast which I couldn’t really taste in the final biscuit but perhaps added some wonderful dimension because they were really flaky and tender. The stew itself was pretty good, a little bland for my taste even though I upped the spices. I want to make it again with roasted poblanos and corn added because I think that would be damn near perfect on a cold winter day.

Speaking of winter, it is upon us here in Texas. My house is so cold all the time now and the beagles are constantly cuddling to get warm.Dinger is still under doctor’s orders to stay in bed and Miss Willow (above) is keeping him company because she loves him like crazy. I can’t wait until everyone is healthy again!

Planning for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, I know it irritates a lot of people for reasons like animal rights, genocide, football, and the start of the Consumer Christmas shopping season. But for me it is all about having a feast with friends and family, adopting turkeys, being thankful for what I have, and a four day weekend where I get to eat awesome leftovers.

I am still not 100% certain on my menu because I want to make everything. I thought I would blog about my ides to get some clarity. An experimental blog post! Last year for the centerpiece I made a seitan roulade from a recipe by Emilie from the conscious kitchen. It was fabulous. The site is sadly no longer functioning but the video and recipe is still up on another site

If you are interested in making something like this but worried about how it will go she even made a video that described the whole process thoroughly so I think it would be a successful dish for anyone to make. I also made her fabulous fig and wild rice stuffing. Last year Robin Roberton, author of 1,000 vegan recipes, posted a similar roulade but her’s had a sausage and oyster mushroom stuffing. I was thinking about a wild rice and sausage stuffing myself, maybe the cherry sage sausages from Vegan Brunch, but it seemed kind of silly to have seitan stuffed with seitan! Maybe I will use tempeh bacon or just stick with the mushrooms.  Or tempeh sausages like in Vegan Brunch, I haven’t tried them but they are supposed to be pretty good. Healthy Happy Life has a couple stuffing recipes, one of which is pretty similar to what I was thinking. Then there is a recipe for an Oaxacan Stuffing that looked fabulous but then I would have to go Mexican for the rest of the meal and I have already been forbidden to go in that direction.  Bryanna Clark Gorgan also has a famous recipe that most people seem to love for a soy & wheat “turkey”. There is another turkey roast with a video on Everyday Dish that looks really good and turkey like if that is what you are craving and I think that one might be my backup.

I think that instead of doing a big roast this year I am going to instead make seitan dumplings that are stuffed and then baked in the oven. Here is a similar idea from Vegan.com where they have personal portions of seitan wrapped with filo dough except mine is going to be more like a casserole. Vegan Dad made individual Thanksgiving potpies with roasted mushroom gravy that look super awesome too.

There are a lot of alternatives to a roast. Jes the Cupcake Punk has not one, not two, but THREE stuffed squash recipes with tutorials included on her blog and includes gluten free recipes. Also, the Veganomicon has a recipe for a chestnut roast that is really good, but I haven’t seen chestnuts at the store yet and, for me, that is more of a Christmas thing so I can sing about it. Then there is the savory nut loaf/hippie loaf route which Vegan Lunch Box has a whole loaf generator! But that is a lot of nuts! Maybe I should see what everyone else wants.Potatoes are important to thanksgiving as well. Mashed potatoes are traditional but so are sweet potatoes! I like garlic smashed potatoes with the skins on. Spinashed potatoes are a somewhat healthier and more colorful alternative. One thanksgiving Bazu made a mix of both kinds of potatoes and parsnips into a puree and I think I might go that route.  Last year I thought if I just made roasted fingerling potatoes it would be good enough, and they were great but it didn’t lead to a lot of leftovers. Plus you can’t roast everything!

The year before I just made sweet potato casserole with pecans & brown sugar and I think I might make something like that again but we need something to put gravy on! For the last few years I haven’t been doing mashed potatoes because I think they are the easiest thing to overeat but this year they could make a shocking comeback.

And speaking of gravy, that is one of the hardest things to decide on because there are so many great vegan gravies that I love; miso, chickpea, white bean, roasted onion, garlic, mushroom, and jalapeno corn gravy are all great! How will I ever decide. Then, I just found out about apple cider gravy that sounds like the perfect Thanksgiving accompaniment. Normally I made a gravy from the seitan stock, maybe I will do that again but turn it into apple cider gravy. Or I might just go traditional, in my family Thanksgivings I was always responsible for the gravy, my Baba taught me how to do it with a roux and I have made it so many times now that it is a specialty.

Brussels Sprouts are key to my Thanksgiving. My Baba loved Brussel Sprouts & as time goes by I have learned to love them too. Last year I made miso glazed sprouts with pearl onions and pecans and they were super but then I made them again for Christmas and didn’t like them as much. They do look really pretty. Maybe I will try them again but with roasted shalots. Or I could go the casserole route and make this Brussels Sprouts HashI also made the Voluptous Vegan cranberry sauce and I didn’t care for it at all. So I don’t know what to do this year. I loved other ones that I have made but now I have no idea where I got the recipes. That is why keeping a blog is so important.  Maybe I will make Martha Stewert’s Cranberry & Cognac sauce but then I will have to tell everyone I got the recipe from Martha! Or this roasted cranberry sauce with jalapenos looks terrific too, but it doesn’t really go with the menu. I also like the look of this recipe for Cranberry Sauce with Red Wine, Pomegranate Molasses, and Mediterranean Herbs.

I am not much of a dessert person but for a feast you have to do something. I was thinking of making an Apple Strudel, but the Pumpkin Pie we made last year from a recipe in the Voluptuous Vegan was really easy to make (yeah, I bought a crust) and really good. I really wanted to make the recipe for Pumpin Shell Casserole too so maybe I will do that, it looks easy and festive.SO this was helpful in helping me decide.

I am going to try and make seitan dumplings, stuffed with bread, sausage, mushrooms, sage, and apples, failing that, I don’t know…. but there are lots of options!

Root bake puree or mashed potatoes

traditional roux gravy made from roasted vegetable stock & apple cider

roasted brussels sprouts with shalots and a miso glaze

cranberry sauce… undecided which kind

pumpkin pie or casserole because I am not going to have time to make a strudel!

 

Please leave me any recommendations with links if possible! Or let me know what you are excited about.