Sunday, September 30, 2012

Marinated Eggplant with Capers and Mint

Eggplant, when roasted properly, is very succulent and velvety, while the skin remains chewy. It's awesome. This recipe is easy and would make a great addition to many summery meals.



Broiled Eggplant with Capers and Mint

Ingredients
1 pound thin Italian or Asian eggplants (2 to 3), cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
5 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 TBSP red-wine vinegar
1/4 c chopped mint
2 TBSP small capers, rinsed

Instructions
1. Preheat broiler. Arrange eggplant in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and brush both sides with 2 TBSP oil (total). Broil about 4 inches from heat, turning once, until golden, 8 to 12 minutes total.
2. Stir together vinegar, mint, capers, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and remaining 3 TBSP oil and toss with warm eggplant. Marinate at least 20 minutes.
3. Marinated eggplant can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serves 4 as a side.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thai / Dinner Party

When my friends Sina and Shoshana came over for dinner recently (well--not so recently; I'm pretty behind on posts), I made some Thai recipes from The Asian Vegan Kitchen, featuring these kaffir lime leaves:


On the menu was an awesome hot and sour mushroom soup with two kinds of mushroom and deep-fried tofu strips. With lemon basil and cilantro, plus a kind of ginger-lime-garlic paste, this soup was FANTASTIC.



The other main event was a tofu-vegetable mussaman curry. I took a short cut and used pre-made red curry paste, but also added bell pepper and cauliflower to an already wide array: potato, tofu, green beans, and more. I subbed cashews for peanuts, but either way, between the coconut milk, ground nuts, and potatoes, you have an amazingly creamy dish.


We also had jasmine rice mixed with brown basmati, and some sauteed spinach with onion, garlic, tamari, lemon, and water chestnuts... which reminded me of my dislike of water chestnuts. Like jicama, I guess: what is the point???

Both these recipes were from Hema Parekh's Asian Vegan Kitchen. It's a fantastic cookbook; the recipes are usually pretty complicated but so worth it.

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But there's more! Sina brought many beautiful items from his garden, including these perfect little tomatoes:


He also brought fresh oranges, passion fruit, and watermelon, from which (with a bit of mint) we fashioned "Sina surprise."


Monday, September 24, 2012

Cool things made from nuts


Almond milk was so easy, I am not sure why I hadn't made it before! I soaked 1/2 c almonds in water overnight, then drained them. They got so bloated that I had 1 c almonds in the morning, which I then blended with 3 c filtered water, and then strained through a cheesecloth. You could also blend the soaked almonds with a few dates or honey for sweetness, but I think sweetened milk is just silly, and anyway, almonds have a natural sweetness of their own.




This was fantastic in iced coffee, which I brewed at about 1.5x regular strength and then immediately poured over a ton of ice; as the ice melts, you end up with the regular concentration of coffee.


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Finally, here's an awesome sandwich I made on sprouted rye bread with smoked cashew gouda, avocado, tomato, and horseradish mustard.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Brunch


This brunch involved:

* hash of sauteed peppers and onion, roasted potatoes, and tomatoes

* roasted asparagus with olive oil, smoked salt, and roasted garlic cloves

* sausage florentine with tofu steaks and hollandaise sauce

* coffee and grapefruit mimosas



I am so excited/proud about the florentine recipe. The idea came from a few different places. 1) Sage Bistro does a florentine that pairs spinach, sausage, and hollandaise (but also includes baguette and avocado). 2) The Vegan Brunch cookbook has a tofu benedict recipe with potatoes, tomato, marinated tofu, and, of course, hollandaise. This is basically a mashup of the two dishes, with a few of my own innovations.

The night before, I made the sausage (recipe at bottom). Now, a search for 'sausage' on this blog turns up many different recipes, but this one was a serious keeper, certainly the best in the 'ground meat' category (as opposed to patties or, um, sausage-shaped sausages). I always keep a jar of premixed sausage seasonings on hand, because it makes many recipes much faster. This recipe is super fast and easy, and amazing!! It would go great in pie, stew, or especially, I think, PIZZA.

With the tofu, I mostly followed the recipe in Vegan Brunch, although we did momentarily entertain fantasies of a lightly battered tofu (see account of 'French tosfu' at the end of this post). After marinating the tofu overnight, I patted the tofu dry and pan-fried it.

The hollandaise sauce from Vegan Brunch was great, but it seemed a bit too tangy (use less vinegar) and definitely too gelatinous (use less arrowroot). That said, it is a totally brilliant recipe.


Sausage Florentine with Tofu Steaks and Hollandaise Sauce

Ingredients
4 c baby spinach
lemon juice 
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1 block tofu, pressed, cut into triangles, and marinated as in the Vegan Brunch recipe for 'tofu benny.'
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1 recipe tempeh-walnut ground sausage (see below)
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1/2 batch hollandaise sauce from Vegan Brunch

Instructions
1. The night before, press, cut, and marinate the tofu. Also, make the ground sausage, and leave both these things in the fridge.
2. The next morning, prepare the hollandaise sauce. It's okay if it gets cool before you're ready; you can heat it up again.
3. Lightly pan-fry the tofu on both sides, then remove and set aside. Keep warm under foil if possible.
4. Steam the spinach according to your favorite method. Drain and toss with a little lemon juice.
5. Now you're ready to assemble! Scatter a layer of spinach on the bottom, then place a tofu steak on top. Carefully pretend-scatter the sausage atop the tofu, and then drizzle with hollandaise. Serve with extra sauce on the side. Serves 4.

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Tempeh-Walnut Sausage

Ingredients
olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 block tempeh, chopped
1/2 c walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 TB tamari
1 c water

Instructions
1. In a small saucepan or sauciere, saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat. After a few minutes, add tempeh and saute until it's slightly browned (5 min).
2. While the tempeh is cooking, combine the spices, tamari, and water together and set aside.
3. Return to the pot on the stove. Stir in walnuts and cook another minute or so.
4. Now add the liquid to the pot. Simmer until the liquid is all gone. Makes about 1.5 c.

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The asparagus was tossed with olive oil and smoked salt and then roasted at 450* for 15 minutes. I roasted the garlic cloves separately in the toaster oven, because I wasn't sure how long they would take.

Zippy did the art design.  :)

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I par-boiled the potatoes for the hash the night before, too, but I overcooked them, and they didn't roast properly in the morning. It should have been easy to toss them, with perfectly seared outsides, into the skillet with sauteed peppers and onions, and with fresh tomatoes.


















 
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There was also a foray into battering the tofu steaks. As I'd left half a beer on the counter the night before (btw, don't hold me to the measurements in the sausage recipe...), it seemed perfect, but there's a big difference between 'beer-battered'/deep-fried and the delicate crust I was imagining, which was actually achievable with pan-frying alone. Nevertheless, we tried one (already-marinated) steak with a beer batter (flour, cornmeal, beer, salt), and it was surprisingly good, though not for the florentine. It was sort of like a savory french toast. French Toasfu?


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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Kale Salad, the second

There is a palate of the understanding, as well as of the senses. The taste is taken with good relishes, the sight with fair objects, the hearing with delicate sounds, the smelling with pure scents, the feeling with soft and plump bodies, but the understanding with all these, for all which you must begin at the kitchen. There the art of poetry was learned and found out, or nowhere, and the same day with the art of cookery. 
--the Cook to the Poet, in Neptune's Triumph by Ben Jonson

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Kale salads have been a standby this summer, when I am often too busy/hot to cook much. This is an easy thing to keep around for a few days in the fridge and just munch on when I remember that all I've been eating is tater tots on campus or something. I would never order a kale salad at a restaurant--this, perhaps, is the curse of the vegan, to think 'Why would I order another fucking salad when I don't have to? I'll save that for Applebee's with the fam.' And also, kale can taste real, um, healthy, in a bad way. But if you balance out steamed kale with richer things, like edamame, avocado, or oil, it's actually fantastic.


Another kale salad, this time with avocado and radishes 
(as well as, again, edamame and sesame-lime vinaigrette)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mediterranean Roasted Tofu

I was inspired by Tanya's recipe for marinated tofu, with its unusual ingredients like olives and lemon.

I then made a marinade using ground cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, saffron, fresh garlic, chopped minced lemons, sliced green olives, lemon juice, olive oil, vegetable stock and salt and pepper. Instead of pan-frying, like Tanya, I baked it in the oven at 375*, for a long time--almost 60 minutes--occasionally flipping tofu or spooning marinade over the top. Even after a lot of the marinade was gone, I continued cooking for a chewier, firmer texture than usual--which was AMAZING.

Texture aside, the tofu was also delicious. I ate it both hot and cold, on rice, in sandwiches, and in salads.