Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Something was fused here

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai, Sesame Slaw with Chickpeas, and Fried Collards

I'm not sure whether anything in this dinner merits an entry, as it was all so simple, but it turned out so pretty and delicious! So what follows is an exposition of my laziness. :)

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai
Serves 1

1-2 TB peanut butter
1-3 tsp garlic chili sauce (the kind with the rooster on it)
1 serving leftover spaghetti squash
one green onion, sliced

Instructions: In a saucepan over low heat, mix peanut butter and chili sauce, adding water to thin to saucy consistency. Add spaghetti squash, mix. Remove from heat, garnish with onions, and serve.

Sesame Slaw with Chickpeas
I started making this when I was home visiting my mom. She had a purple cabbage that just wouldn't go away, no matter how many times she shaved some off into a salad.
Serves 4-6
1/2 small to medium purple cabbage, chopped
2-4 large carrots, julienned in 1-2 in long pieces
2 scallions, sliced
1 cup chickpeas
1/8 cup tamari
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 TB sesame oil
3 TB sesame seeds
pepper or wasabi to taste

Instructions: Combine the cabbage, carrots, scallions, and chickpeas in a bowl. In another container, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour over vegetables and mix well. Allow to sit before serving.

Fried Collards
Serves 4
1-2 TB canola or peanut oil
2 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 large collard green leaves, stems removed and cut into half-inch-wide strips
more sesame seeds!

Instructions: Heat oils to med-high heat in cast iron skillet. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add collards and make sure they are evenly covered with oil. Add tamari and continue to stir for a short while. Remove from heat, stir in sesame seeds, serve.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Very Distant Cousin of Spaghetti and Meatballs...

I have heard about the wonders of the spaghetti squash for years, but until tonight I'd never tried it myself. I have to say, it really should be called the angel-hair squash or the vermicelli squash...

While the squash was baking (45 min at 350*, split in half lengthwise, hole-poked), I made a winter (cilantro) pesto and browned some tempeh with onions and cumin. The lemony tastes of the cilantro and lemon in the pesto, and the cumin in the tempeh, are offset nicely by the meatier, yangy flavors of the nuts in the pesto and the tempeh itself. While I get the feeling that spaghetti squash is often valued mostly for its novelty and/or its "low carb!" nature, I think it actually works better in this recipe than normal pasta: it was lighter and slightly crunchy, which balanced out the tempeh in a way that pasta wouldn't.

This first-attempt recipe worked really well, except the proportions were all off. I wound up with 4-6 servings of squash and of tempeh, and about half as much pesto. On the other hand, the pesto is really strong, so you don't need much.

Spaghetti Squash with Blackened Cumin Tempeh and Cilantro-Lemon Pesto

Cilantro-Lemon Pesto

Serves 4
1/4-1/3 cup pine nuts, almonds, or pistachios*
1-2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 large bunch of cilantro leaves (stems removed), coarsely chopped
1-2 TB lemon juice
2 TB olive oil
salt to taste

*Pine nuts are outrageously expensive. Unless someone gives them to me, I always use almonds or pistachios instead.

Instructions: In a food processor, grind nuts and garlic. Add cilantro and pulse until pureed. Add lemon juice and olive oil until smooth. Add salt to taste (continue blending).
Note: For a milder pesto, use more nuts.

Blackened Cumin Tempeh
Serves 4
canola oil
1/4 onion, diced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 block tempeh (Trader Joe's has started selling an organic multigrain tempeh for $1.69!), cut into small slabs.

In a cast iron frying pan, brown the onions and cumin (5 min). Deglaze with tamari (and extra water). Add tempeh and cook on medium-low heat until browned, turning over.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pumpkin Bread Through the Ages

My mom and I have often commented on how the recipes she (and to a lesser extent, I) grew up with can sometimes seem too rich and too bland. Yet these recipes are still very good, and they have emotional value as well. Therefore, a double challenge: 1) to veganize a favorite recipe, and 2) to adapt it to our tastes.

For my grandmother's pumpkin bread recipe, this entailed: replacing eggs with egg replacer, reducing the sugar by 1/2 c, adjusting the ratio of brown to white sugar (not that brown is any healthier, but it is more delicious), reducing the oil by 50% (!), adding orange jest, changing some of the flour to whole wheat to make it less gummy, and increasing the spices. The OJ, the pumpkin, and the 4 "eggs" make the bread so moist and cohesive that that much oil and white flour were simply not necessary. The added zest and increased spices emphasize what was already special about the original recipe.

It's really, really good. I may never need another pumpkin bread recipe in my life.

(Tri-generational Sattre) Pumpkin Bread

2 c pumpkin
1 c white sugar
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c cooking oil
2/3 c orange juice
zest of oranges used for juice (optional), to taste
4 "eggs" (prepared ener-g egg replacer)
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 c white flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
nuts (optional)

1. Lightly oil and flour 2 loaf pans (or 4 small ones). Preheat oven to 350.
2. Blend sugars and cooking oil. Add pumpkin, juice, zest, and "eggs."
3. Combine flours and baking powder, soda, salt, spices and then add to first mixture. Stir in nuts if desired.
4. For 2 large loaves, bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes. For 4 small, cut time to 45-50 minutes. Loaves are done when a wood chopstick stuck in the center comes out clean.

Grain Salads

Rage, rage, against the dying of the summer... but I guess grain salads are always in season in Southern California.

I have the good fortune of living next door to the best supermarket in the world, where fresh herbs are
$0.20-$0.50 per big bunch, avocadoes are currently 4 for a dollar, and you can buy a kilo of really good kalamata olives for $9.99. Jons also sells big bags of grains for amazing prices. Wheat berries and bulghur abound! Since moving to my neighborhood, with its large Middle Eastern and eastern European populations, I’ve learned that bulghur comes in grades like sandpaper, from #1 (very fine) to #4 (very coarse). #3’s the best, I think.

So what to do with all these olives, fresh herbs, and grains?

Mediterranean Wheat Berry Salad

(adapted from The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics)

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon minced white part of green onion
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dried and crumbled oregano

4.5 cups water
2 cups wheat berries
2 bay leaves

1/3 cup pitted and chopped kalamata olives
1/3 cup drained capers (optional, can substitute more olives)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts*
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

* The pine nuts are really optional. When the recipe is made with wheat berries rather than barley, there's so much more texture already that the pine nuts don't add very much.

1. To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, pinch sea salt, vinegars, onion and olive oil in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. To prepare the salad, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the wheat berries with the tamari and bay leaves. Simmer until the berries are tender and all of the water is absorbed, 45 minutes to 1 hour total cooking time. Remove from heat and cool. Remove bay leaves.
3. Place the wheat berries in a large bowl, and stir in the dressing and oregano. Cover and chill for about 2 hours or until ready to serve. Before serving, gently stir in the olives, capers, and green onions. Garnish with pine nuts.

Another tabouleh recipe? It seems to me like all tabouleh recipes are very similar and yet the differences between them are rather important. The way I like to make it is heavier on the greens than the grains, and heavier on lemon than on garlic or onion. I think these aspects make it more refreshing.


1 c bulghur

1 bunch scallions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

½ to 1 c chopped tomatoes

1 c chopped mint leaves

1 c chopped parsley leaves

salt to taste

pepper to taste

juice of 2-3 lemons

Instructions: Prepare bulghur according to instructions (usually add two parts water to one part bulghur and let sit). Chop all the other ingredients while bulghur is "cooking." Toss together, add salt, pepper, and lemon to taste. Let sit for several hours before eating.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes +

I recently made cupcakes for my friend's birthday. She's a professed chocolate maniac, so I knew that whatever I made would be chocolate, but I guess I wanted to make it a little trickier, while it's still summer and I still have the time to bake. I therefore made two variations on the chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Chocolate Amaretto Frosting, and Chocolate Mint Chip Cupcakes with Mint Frosting. I adapted my frosting recipes from The Joy of Vegan Baking, because these recipes don't call for vegetable shortening, which necessarily contains hydrogenated oils, I think. Changes to the cupcake recipe consisted of reducing the sugar (especially when frosted, they are more than sweet enough), changing the oil to corn (butterier taste), and adding extracts and other small objects. Changes to the chocolate frosting recipe included reducing sugar, increasing cocoa (for a fantastic consistency), and adding almond extract. Changes to the plain frosting recipe included adding mint. The mint frosting still needs work--it was too minty and too buttery, and not stiff enough. Next time I might just make chocolate mint, since the cocoa so improves the consistency.

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Chocolate Amaretto Frosting

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes
(adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World):
1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 to 5/8 cup turbinado sugar
1/3 cup corn oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 TB coffee, finely ground
(directions follo
w other recipes)

Chocolate Amaretto Frosting
(adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking):
1/2 c Earth Balance
2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
3-4 TB nondairy milk
12 coffee beans
(directions follow other recipes)

Chocolate Mint Chip Cupcakes with Mint Frosting

Chocolate Mint Chip Cupcakes
(adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World):

1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 to 5/8 cup turbinado sugar
1/3 cup corn oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp mint extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 c chocolate chips

Mint Frosting
(adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking):
1/2 c Earth Balance
2 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp mint extract
2 TB nondairy milk
chocolate bar for shaving
small mint leaves


For either cupcake recipe:
1. preheat oven to 350 and line 12 cupcake tins
2. whisk together soy milk and vinegar in a large mixing bowl and set aside for at least 10 minutes so that the milk can curdle
3. Add the sugar, oil, and extracts into the soy milk/vinegar mixture and beat with an electric mixer until foamy (about 3-4 minutes)
4. sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder
5. gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold until just combined
5.5. fold in coffee or chocolate chips
6. fill the cupcake tins about 3/4 full
7. bake for about 20 minutes-the tops will slightly crack
8. let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then let them cool completely out of the tins
9. frost, and garnish with coffee beans or mint leaves and chocolate shavings

For either frosting recipe:
1. cream Earth Balance
2. add sugar, cream it
3. add extracts and cocoa (if using), beat until fluffy
4. add milk as necessary
5. cover extra to store