Saturday, July 19, 2014

Beer-Battered Chicken and Cornmeal-Herb Waffles

I'd never before had chicken and waffles, vegan or otherwise. But I'd been dreaming of savory waffles for ages, so when I visited my mom (who, unlike me, has a waffle iron), this seemed like a very good idea.

I adapted two recipes from the venerable vegan brunch cookbook: Using trader joe's "chickenless strips" instead of tofu, I made the beer-battered tofu recipe, and I also made the cornmeal waffles, reducing the sugar and adding some herbs.

This was delicious--the beer batter was fantastic--but it also felt really unhealthy. I'd definitely want to serve it with some greens next time. I also wasn't sure what to do about sauce: maple syrup was out, since I don't really like sweet things; maybe gravy? Spicy gravy? Something other than the abortive spurt of sriracha with which these chicken and waffles are pictured below.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Creamy Mushroom Kale Soup with Wild Rice

I loved this soup. I started with this very not-vegan recipe, but it ended up wonderful. I halved the recipe, then changed some things, but I added so much more veggies that it ended up still serving four.  You can adjust the ratio of stock to coconut milk depending on how rich you want it.

Creamy Mushroom Kale Soup with Wild Rice
(adapted from the 36th avenue)

1/3 cup dry wild rice
2 TB olive oil
2 c sliced button mushrooms, chopped
1 c sliced shiitake mushrooms (I used rehydrated ones), chopped
(any combo of 3 c mushrooms will do)
1/2 c celery, chopped
1/2 c leeks, sliced (white part only)
1/4 c fennel, chopped
2 c kale, chopped (ribs removed)
1/2 TB garlic, minced or pressed
2 TB all-purpose flour
2.5 c vegetable stock (use less stock and more coconut milk for a richer broth)
1/2 c coconut milk
fresh thyme and parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 TB scallions, minced

1. In a medium saucepan, cook wild rice according to package directions.
2. In a large stock pot on medium heat, warm olive oil. Add mushrooms, celery, leeks, fennel, and kale. Cook until liquid from mushrooms evaporates (about 5 mins); stirring frequently. Add in garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute more.
3. Whisk in flour and stir constantly for a couple of minutes. Slowly whisk in broth and half-and-half until no flour lumps remain. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until thickened. Add herbs a few minutes before finishing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Divide in four separate bowls and add a scoop of rice to each serving.  Garnish with scallions. Serves 4.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Lemon-Fennel Beans with Dill

Mmm... lemon, fennel, and dill. This feels like a fish recipe, but it worked brilliantly as it was, with beans. I used pinto beans out of necessity, which caused the size discrepancy issue (the little things fall to the bottom), but otherwise, the pinto bean texture was just fine--still light but hearty.

The fennel is best when really browned and also simmered until seriously succulent, so take your time with this. I always think of fennel as more of a background vegetable, but here it is legitimately delicious.

I had this with wild rice and a kale-edamame saute (motivic unity of small beans?). Good.

Lemon Fennel Beans with Dill

4-5 small fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
Half a lemon, scrubbed and sliced or cut into wedges
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups cooked white beans (corona, cannellini, etc)
1/2 cup water (or reserved liquid from cooking the beans)
1/2 cup roughly chopped dill

  1. To prep the fennel, remove each bulb's tough outermost layer. Trim each bulb's base, and slice along the length into 1/2-inch thick wedges.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil starts to ripple and move away from the center of the pan, add the fennel. Scatter the wedges across the surface of the pan rather than gathering them into a clump, and let them sit without stirring until the sides touching the pan caramelize and brown a bit, roughly 2 minutes or so. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until the fennel has cooked through. Add the honey, lemon, salt, and wine to the pan, stirring to combine. Let the wine heat and reduce for a minute or so before adding the beans and water. Cook until the beans are warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  3. These beans are good at just about any temp- hot, warm, or at room temperature. Serve topped with a big handful of chopped dill and a drizzle of your best olive oil. Serves 4.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dandelion Greens Pesto

I know dandelion greens are like the healthiest edible thing to ever grow, but sometimes I find them a bit too much to handle. I had a big bunch languishing in my fridge, and I just couldn't force myself to saute them with garlic and tamari yet again. So, after considering a few other recipes, I decided to make pesto, inspired by this recipe from the kitchn. I used raw cashews instead of roasted pumpkin seeds and nutritional yeast instead of parmesean, and I had to add a bit of water to get it to blend properly, but in no time I had this satisfactory (if slightly bitter) creamy pesto. It tastes very much like the nasturtium pesto I once made, though this one has more nuts and is therefore richer. Also: I just took my leftover chimichurri sauce out of the freezer and used it as pesto with pasta, and that was great too! I love basil, but it's not the only option here.

Dandelion Greens Pesto
(adapted from the kitchn)

3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1 bunch dandelion greens (about 2 cups, loosely packed)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
black pepper, to taste


Pulse the garlic and cashews together in the bowl of a food processor until very finely chopped.

Add nutritional yeast, dandelion greens, and lemon juice and process continuously until combined. Stop the processor every now and again to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The pesto will be very thick and difficult to process after awhile. Add some water if needed.

With the blade running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until the pesto is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 1-1.5 cups.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Humble Piccata

I know I've posted a piccata recipe before, but this one's different (actually maybe it's not technically a piccata at all)--particularly because I just made it off the cuff. No wine, but there's coconut milk, lemon juice, and capers to give the sauce that lovely sour-richness.

Humble Picatta

3 servings ww rotini
bunch of shredded kale, steamed
olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 block tempeh
1/2 c 'chicken' stock + tiny bit liquid smoke
other 1/2 c 'chicken' stock + tiny bit liquid smoke
1 TB earth balance
1 tsp sage
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp lemon pepper
2 tsp capers
1/2 coconut milk
1/4 c lemon juice
salt to taste

1. Steam your kale and get your pasta cooking. Then, in a frying pan or saucier pan, heat some olive oil, then saute the garlic. Add the tempeh and brown on both sides before adding stock-smoke mixture and simmering until the liquid is absorbed.
2. Remove the tempeh and set aside. In the pan, add the remaining ingredients and simmer until you have a slightly thicker sauce.
3. To assemble, put the pasta in a bowl on a bed of kale. Top with tempeh and pour sauce over the top. Serves about 3.

Pearl Onion Sambar

I was really interested in this onion sambar from holy cow!. Onions are always the supporting character, and here they were as the protagonist. That said... I wasn't crazy about this dish. There is so much coriander seed in it that I felt like that was all I could taste. Also, I couldn't find the special pearl onions that Vaishali says have a different flavor.

Onion Sambar or Vengaya Sambar
(from holy cow!)

1 cup tuvar dal or split pigeon peas
1 tbsp of tamarind extract mixed with 1 cup of water
½ tsp turmeric
3 tsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 dry red chillies
1 tbsp chana dal or bengal gram dal
¼ tsp dry fenugreek seeds (methi)
2 cups red pearl onions, ends trimmed and papery skins peeled. Tamil cooks sometimes soak the onions overnight which makes it easier to slip the skins off.
1 sprig of curry leaves (about 12 individual leaves)
1 tsp mustard seeds
A generous pinch of hing or asafetida
Salt to taste

  1. Mix the lentils and turmeric, add water and cook until tender in a pressure cooker. Or cover the peas with an inch of water in a pot and bring to a boil, then slap on a lid, lower to simmer, and boil for 30-45 minutes or until the peas are tender enough to mash. Add more water if needed as they cook.
  2. Prepare the ground masala by heating 1 tsp of oil. Add to it the coriander seeds, chana dal, fenugreek seeds and chillies and saute until the coriander seeds and dal turn a few shades darker and are lightly golden-brown. Remove to a blender, add enough water to keep the blades moving, and process to a smooth paste.
  3. Heat 1 tsp of the oil, add the pearl onions and stir-fry until the start to turn golden. Add the tamarind extract and let the mixture cook about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the ground masala and stir well to mix. Add the cooked tuvar dal and bring everything to a boil.
  5. Lower the heat to a simmer, add salt to taste, and let the sambar cook for 10 minutes so all the flavors have a chance to meld together.
  6. To temper the sambar– an important flavor-building step– heat the last teaspoon of oil in a small saucepan and add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the asafetida and curry leaves. Fry for a few seconds, turn off the heat, and pour over the sambar. Mix well. Serves 8.

Yummy Thai-ish Things

We also had that awesome hot and sour soup from the asian vegan kitchen.

ad hoc red curry with tofu, muushrooms, kale, corn, and green beans

delicious cucumber peanut salad from the asian vegan kitchen