Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Carrot Soup 2 (or 3... or 4...)

Hi folks. So I came home from making soup at Sara's house. But I was so psyched about carrot ginger soup that I promptly made another the same day!

This soup uses the same basic recipe, but I omitted ginger and five-spice and added some herbs like sage and marjoram, and I roasted the chickpeas with lemon peper, not cayenne. I also used more carrots in ratio to liquid, so it was a thicker soup. Just don't ask me to decide which one I liked better!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Smoky Vegan "Clam" Chowder

I'm obsessed with this chowder. I've used cashew cream in soups before, but I'd forgotten how easy and how good it was. This stew has a few more tricks up its sleeve, too: the broth is made with kombu, which imparts a slightly fishy taste. While the recipe calls for you to smoke mushrooms, I sauteed them with tamari and liquid smoke, and they emerged from the pan chewy smoky little morsels of amazing.

Also, it's really easy, considering how gourmet it tastes. I've made two half-batches in the past week. The first time I used cooked rice instead of potato, and got a very thick soup. The second time I added a bit more liquid (and went back to potato) for a brothier--but still rich--soup. I also added some sage and thyme, which made it taste more like Thanksgiving stuffing but may have obscured the more subtle fishy flavor. Oh, and both times, I used way more mushrooms than called for, because why wouldn't you want more mushrooms? Similarly, I used more onion, more lemon juice, more tabasco...I've noted these changes below.

One last tip: I didn't have the patience to soak cashews, so I simmered them while preparing the rest of the soup components. They resulted in one of the creamiest cashew creams/milks I've ever made, so if you're short on time, definitely do this.

Smoky Vegan "Clam" Chowder (version with rice shown)
(adapted from Tal Ronnen via la times)

Cashew cream
2 cups whole raw cashews, rinsed under cold water
Kombu broth:
2 pieces kombu seaweed (about 5 by 8 inches)
1 quart water
Smoky mushrooms:
1 heaping cup diced mushrooms (I used cremini, sliced not diced)
2 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
Chowder assembly:
1 TB canola oil
1 c diced white onion
1/2 c diced celery
1 cup peeled and diced baking potato (or 3/4 c cooked white rice)
2 cups kombu broth
cashew cream
smoky mushrooms
1 TB lemon juice, more to taste
1 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce, more to taste
2 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
1 tsp pepper, more to taste
sage (optional)
thyme (optional)


Cashew Cream:
1. Put the cashews in a pot and cover with water. Soak overnight, or simmer until soft.
2. Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place the cashews in a blender and add enough water to cover by an inch. Puree until completely smooth. If needed, pass the cashew puree through a fine strainer to remove any coarse bits; the final "cream" should have the smooth, thick consistency of heavy dairy cream. This makes about 3 cups cream (consistency will depend on the amount of water added while blending, and can vary from just over 2 cups to about 3 1/2 cups; thin as desired).

Kombu broth:
1. Combine the kombu and water in a medium pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook 40 minutes. Strain. This makes about 4 cups kombu broth, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The broth will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 10 days.

Smoky mushrooms
1. Heat oil in a cast iron fry pan. Add mushrooms with a pinch of salt and saute until juicy (about 8 minutes).
2. Deglaze with tamari and liquid smoke (mixed together before adding). Cook another minute or so until liquid is absorbed/evaporated.

Chowder assembly:
1. Heat the oil in a medium-sized soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and potato (if using rice, wait) and sweat, stirring frequently, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Add the broth, cashew cream and smoked mushrooms (and rice, if using). Reduce the heat, and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for 10 to 15 minutes to develop and marry the flavors. The cashew cream will thicken as it cooks, and you will need to add water from time to time to thin and adjust the consistency.
3. Season with the lemon juice, Tabasco, salt and pepper, and other seasonings as desired. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Serves about 4-5.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Eggplant Methi

The smell of frying onions with mustard seeds and fenugreek leaves is insanely wonderful. That alone made this recipe worth it.

Despite chopping it into what I thought were small pieces, I struggled to get my eggplant cooked, and I definitely couldn't get the breading to stick. In the end I think it turned out okay, as I simmered the final product longer (adding water as needed) until the eggplant was soft enough.

Since the chickpea flour was ultimately just a general thickener rather than breading, I threw in some ground cashews left over from the greens soup recipe as well. I ate this with white basmati rice (with cumin, mustard, and fennel seeds, and turmeric) and with greens-ginger-miso soup.

Eggplant Methi
(from holy cow!)

8 small eggplants, stem removed, then halved lengthwise and quartered. Each eggplant will yield eight pieces. If your eggplants are on the larger side, you may want to cut them into smaller pieces.
2 tbsp besan or garbanzo bean four
1/4 tsp cayenne
A pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp mango powder or aamchoor
Salt to taste
1 tsp vegetable oil
water if needed to help the besan stick to the eggplants.
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
8-10 curry leaves
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 small bunch methi or fenugreek leaves, tough stems and roots removed, leaves chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste
1-inch knob of ginger, grated
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp garam masala

1. Place the eggplant pieces coated with the besan mixture under a broiler for about 10-15 minutes or until the eggplants are tender. Toss every few minutes with a ladle to ensure all sides cook evenly. Keep an eye on the eggplants when they are under the broiler because they can burn fast. Once they are cooked, set aside.
2. Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the onions, ginger, garlic, and curry leaves. Saute, stirring frequently, until brown spots appear on the onions. If the ginger and garlic stick to the bottom of the pan, add a little water.
3. Add the cumin and coriander powders, cayenne, and the garam masala. Saute for a minute, then add the methi leaves and salt. Saute the methi on medium-low heat until it starts to tenderize.
4. Add the tomato paste and 1/2 cup of water. Mix thoroughly, cover, and let the mixture cook for about 8 minutes or until the methi is cooked and tender.
5. Add the eggplants and stir them in. Cook for another two minutes, check for salt, then turn off the heat. Garnish, if you like, with some fresh coriander. Serve hot.**See notes above.

Greens-Ginger-Miso Soup

I made this recipe after visiting Sina at his garden and coming home with an absurd amount of greens.

First, I made this delicious quinoa caesar salad from the ppk with all the lettuces.

Then, with all the greens (mostly collards), I made this unusual soup.

I think that with kale and spinach this would have been less of an issue, but blending the ingredients raw and then heating them meant that the soup never lost that raw, bitter taste. If I did this again I might sautee the greens first, or, at the very least, cook the soup much longer. I did like the combination of seasonings--mustard, ginger, miso, and a touch of maple syrup.

I ate this with white basmati rice (cooked with cumin, mustard, and fennel seeds, and turmeric) and with eggplant methi.

Greens-Ginger-Miso Soup
(adapted from vegan richa)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Five-Spice Powder

I made some more five-spice powder for the holidays. So easy it's not really a recipe, unless you tweak it to your own tastes. This is the blend I used in the carrot ginger soup guest post on add a little lemon. You can toast the spices before grinding, but it's optional.

Five-Spice Powder

equal parts of the following (for a standard-size spice jar I would use 2 tsp each):
star anise
fennel seed
cinnamon stick
nutmeg (I buy this pre-ground)
black peppercorns

Individually (optional: toast and) grind each spice, then mix together and put in a dry, airtight container.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cranberry-Orange Chutney

Sina's housemate Jonathan brought this delicious chutney to Thanksgiving, and here is the recipe!

Cranberry-Orange Chutney

a bag of cranberries, washed
couple of navel oranges, cut into eights
cup of sugar(or a bit of grade b maple syrup)
pinch of salt

1. pulse process until right texture, scraping down if needed (not mushy)
2. add finely chopped walnuts if desired can toast them beforehand

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Down home brunch

tiny chili-chive cornmeal drop biscuits (recipe from vegan brunch; i added chives, serrano chilies, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast)

bbq roasted tofu (roasted with canola oil, apple cider vinegar, frank's hot sauce, ketchup, mustard, worcestershire, agave, tamari, salt, liquid smoke, water)

(greens would have been a nice addition, here)

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving happened last week. It was the biggest and best of Thanksgivings I have spent in LA (5 total).

photo credit: zippy

photo credit: zippy

photo credit: zippy

photo credit: zippy

photo credit: zippy

photo credit: zippy

photo credit: zippy

(Pumpkin pie in process)

(Stuffed eggplant ingredients)

Sweet potato latkes with horseradish-dill sour cream and homemade applesauce; roasted greens and orange-cranberry chutney in background


Thanksgiving 2013 Menu!

Apps/Snax (thanks, Devon!)

Crude vegetables

Mulled wine (thanks, Alexandra and Joel!)
Old fashioneds (thanks, Chris and Mac!)
Beer and wine (thanks, everyone!)

Green veg
Salad(s!) from Sina and Devon

Hearty Things
Potato-yam latkes with horseradish/dill sour cream and applesauce (used the ppk recipe but with a combo of root veggies)

Other Carbs
Challah stuffing (used this recipe, but with challah substituted and mushrooms added)
Cream biscuits (by Alexandra and Joel!)
Fruit salad (thanks... crap, who brought this?)

Additional Saucy Things
Cranberry sauce (this recipe, sans ginger)
Cranberry-orange chutney (thanks, Jonathan!)
Sour cream with dill and horseradish (used this recipe and added fresh dill and a ton of horseradish)
Applesauce (self-explanatory-ish? crockpot, apples, spices...)