Sunday, May 26, 2013

Nako Clare Brunch

My friends Clare and Nako came to visit a few weeks ago, and we had a lot of food adventures. We had some awesome meals at Sage and Mohawk Bend (and the always-underwhelming Bulan), and we hit up the LA Vegan Beer Fest. And, we made a brunch.

Fruit salad with mint and maracona almonds

Perfect whole-wheat bicuits from the Vegan Brunch cookbook

Roasted potatoes and mushrooms

The full haul (also including tempeh sausage and mushroom gravy)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pho-ish Soup Stock

This post from the native foods blog got me started on a Asian-inspired soup stock kick. Though the original recipe turned out pretty bland (just too much water--the ingredients ratio was good), it's been really fun playing with these basic ingredients:

Soup makings: star anise, ginger, peppercorns, garlic, sugar, mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves, chili sauce (or chilies), cinnamon, soy sauce (or miso)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Polish - Asian Fusion Brunch

One Saturday I woke up with a burning desire to make brunch. The only thing in the Vegan Brunch cookbook that appealed to me was the pierogis... but I had no potatoes. No problem: I would just make the mushroom sauerkraut filling. Looked in the fridge. No sauerkraut! But...

Long story short, I used this homemade kimchi of mine (which is really part sauerkraut anyway). I also used the premade wonton wrappers that had been languishing in the fridge for about a month (after verifying with smitten kitchen that this was okay).

As it became clear to me that the palate of this meal was strangely somewhere between Poland and Japan, I tried to think of other flavors that would work: fennel seed, sesame, and garlic would work as bridges, but we had to be careful to keep ginger and caraway from fighting (the kimchi-tempeh ruben experience was highly instructive here).

The results were glorious (though a bit more on the Asian side than the Eastern European). To go with the dumplings, I spiced up some applesauce with ginger and sesame seeds. I also made some gingery kale and some tempeh bacon that was heavy on fennel and savory flavors. Sprinkle everything with some scallions and sriracha, and it actually came together delightfully!

Mushroom-Kimchi Pierogis with Ginger-Sesame Applesauce, Smoky Fennel Tempeh Bacon, and Gingery Kale


Mushroom-Kimchi Pierogis

A few notes about these guys: cutting the wonton wrappers into circles (with a glass, as Deb suggested) was a bit more work, but it was a lot easier to ensure that the dumpling got totally sealed--as a half-moon rather than as a little diamond-shaped package. Secondly, I didn't get to pan-frying til the last batch, but this produced a wonderful crispy-chewy texture that was missing from the only-steamed dumplings. Also, I think that lightly pan-frying might be less risky than boiling when it comes to the tragic disintegration of dumplings. Steaming, of course, would be another option, if one had a steamer. Which is about as likely as me investing in a waffle iron.

Mushroom-Kimchi Pierogis
(inspired by vegan brunch and smitten kitchen)

1/4 c butter (earth balance)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 serrano chili, minced
3 c chopped mushrooms
pinch salt
1.5 c drained and chopped kimchi or sauerkraut
25 wonton wrappers

1. In a large frying pan, heat 'butter.' Saute garlic and chili for a minute or two, then add mushrooms and pinch salt and cook 5-6 more minutes, until mushrooms are soft and juicy. Add kimchi and cook for another minute or so, then turn off heat.
2. Transfer filling to a bowl and refrigerate. Get a big pot of salted water boiling.
3. When filling is down to about room temperature, you're ready to continue. On a smooth, dry surface, lay out 6 wonton wrappers at a time. Cut them into circles with a glass.
4. Place just less than a tablespoon of filling on each wrapper, then close it up like a half-moon, using water to seal the edges. Seal them well!! Or else!
5. Place 6 dumplings in pot at a time and boil until they are floaty (about 4 minutes). Remove with slotted spoon and have them stand by while you do the same with other dumplings.
5b. If you're feeling adventurous, try pan-frying the dumplings instead of (or after) boiling.
6. Garnish with scallions, sriracha, and ginger-sesame applesauce (see above).
Makes 18-24 dumplings.



To make the tempeh 'bacon': I basically followed the procedure for this braised tempeh.

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 block tempeh, cut into strips like bacon
1 c 'beef' broth
splash tamari
tiny splash liquid smoke
juice of 1/2 lemon
dash nutmeg
1/2 tsp fennel seed

1. In a large frying pan, cook garlic and tempeh in oil for a few minutes on each side (until golden brown).
2. Combine other ingredients separately; then, when tempeh is browned, pour the liquid over the tempeh and simmer until it's evaporated. Serve hot. Serves about 2.


For the greens:


1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic, minced
1/2 in ginger, peeled and minced
1 bag kale 
splash tamari
sesame oil
sesame seeds

Saute onion, then add garlic and ginger. Then add kale and cook til tender, adding water and tamari as needed. Turn off heat and finish with sesame oil drizzle and/or sesame seeds. Serves 2-3.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spaghetti and Meatballs

More successes from the Lotus and the Artichoke cookbook. This time: spaghetti sauce and tofu-vegetable meatballs. 

The meatballs were tasty, and they held together really well, but they had a kind of light/raw/veggie taste and texture rather than a meaty one. I think that I prefer these tempeh ones.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kitchen Sink, Indian Style

I think this dish was something like a cross between dhansak and baingan bharta. I really was just trying to use up everything in my fridge. A creamy mixture of split peas and roasted eggplant, with little bits of crunch from broccoli stems and fresh spinach, this dish is a balancing act: pungent and heavy flavors like mustard seed get balanced out by sour lime juice. I was surprised by how good (if unphotogenic) this was. But... what to call it?

Dal with Spinach and Roasted Eggplant

1 c yellow split peas
pinch salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seed
2 TB ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 fresh serrano chili (or to taste), minced
1 roasted eggplant, peeled and chopped
1 c broccoli stems, diced (potatoes would work too)
pinch salt
3 TB coconut
2 tsp garam masala
1-2 c baby spinach
lime juice to taste (1-2 limes)
salt, cayenne to taste

0. Roast/blacken the eggplant over the stove, then set aside to cool. Then, peel and coarsely chop.
1. Set the split peas a-simmerin' with the water, salt, and turmeric. They will probably need about 40 minutes to cook.
2. When split peas are getting soft, in a larger saucepan or skillet, heat the oil with mustard and cumin. When the seeds start to splutter, add the ginger and cook for a minute or two, then add the garlic and the chili. Saute a few more minutes. Now add in the chopped roasted eggplant, the broccoli stems, pinch of salt, coconut, and garam masala. Stir and cook for a few minutes.
3. Add split peas to the mixture, cover, and simmer 10 minutes, adding spinach at when you only have a minute or so left to go. Season with lime juice, salt, and cayenne pepper to taste, and serve hot. Serves about 4.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tofu-Chickpea Omlettes and Apple-Rosemary Scones

A while ago, Zippy and I tried some new recipes from Vegan Brunch and they came out fantastic. The tofu omelet recipe surely reflects hours of painstaking testing and tweaking, because it doesn't just use chickpea flour or tofu, but a perfect mixture of the two. We filled the omelets with sauteed mushrooms and greens. The apple-rosemary scones, too, had a wonderful texture, due in part to the ol' curdled soymilk trick, but also to the generous amount of shortening.