Monday, January 25, 2010

Citrusy Millet-Crusted Aubergine

This was sort of an experiment; I've used couscous as a crust for aubergine (aka, eggplant) before, but never millet. As with my previous experiences with couscous, I found it difficult to get the millet to stick to the aubergine--but the stuff that did stick made a nice crispy coating. Personally, I prefer millet over couscous any day.

For the millet mixture, I pre-cooked about 1 cup of millet in lightly salted water until just cooked, but still firm and toothsome. Then I drained the millet and mixed in the zest of 1 large orange and about 4 tablespoons of fresh orange juice, drizzled some olive oil through, and let the warm millet soak up the flavors. The mixture looked like this:

For the aubergine, I sliced one large aubergine into 1/2 inch slices, dredged them in some flour, then dipped them in prepared Ener-G egg replacer and water (double recipe prepared per package instructions), and finally the millet. As I mentioned, it didn't stick very well, so I'll have to work on that in future.

I baked the aubergine on a lightly greased baking sheet in a 375 F oven for about 20 - 25 minutes until the millet was golden and the aubergine was tender.

In my book, aubergine always goes well served with a simple tomato sauce:

3 cups pureed tomato (I pureed a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes)
3 garlic cloves, slivered
1 teaspoon good quality dried oregano (or use a few generous sprigs of fresh and add it with the parsley)
pinch of red pepper flakes
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Gently saute the garlic, chili pepper and oregano in some olive oil over medium-low heat, when the garlic and herbs are fragrant (but not browned) add the tomato sauce and bring to simmer. Toss in the parsley and salt and pepper and let it cook gently for as long as you like, (at least 45 minutes - 1 hour). Add water as needed to maintain desired consistency.

On the side, we had a dandelion and parsley salad with warmed orange slices and walnuts, which complemented the orange millet crust.

As an extra experiment, I also made a couple little "sandwiches" with hummus spread in between two aubergine slices:

I'll definitely make this sort of thing again, if anyone has any tips on getting the millet to stick to the aubergine, let me know;)

Ad Hoc Note:
Alicia from Vegan Epicurean made a great observation in her comment...the millet would work just as well used dry (not pre-cooked) and would stick better as a makes sense, and I think that the dry millet would toast up nicely in the oven.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Taco Salad Revisited

This wasn't a true taco salad, but rather just a salad in a baked corn tortilla...taco salad-style.  I was thinking about having BBQ tofu on top of salad for a while now. It made a quick and satisfying mid-week dinner.

To make the corn tortilla bowls, I preheated the oven to 375 F, made 4, 1-inch perpendicular cuts at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock around the tortillas, and then folded them into oven proof bowls. They bake off in about 8-10 minutes; as they cool, they harden and retain the bowl shape. For a bit of flavor, I brushed them with Bragg's Liquid Aminos and lime juice on one side before baking (bake them with the flavored side up). They're not perfect, but they do...and it's fun to eat a salad, bowl and all.

For the salad portion, I just threw together a mixed green salad with veggies on hand and topped it with some BBQ tofu and avocado.

Incidentally, the new tofu love of my life is sprouted tofu. Apparently, as with other sprouted legumes and grains, it has higher nutrition than unsprouted versions. I love it for its texture...very firm.

And one last thing: Hooray, it's Friday!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Balsamic Blueberry Frost

This violet-colored sorbet is perfect for after dinner or as a palate cleanser. It has a deep blueberry flavor with mild sweetness...primarily the natural sweetness of the blueberries. When the sorbet is cold out of the freezer the vinegar is not all that discernible, but as the sorbet warms up, the sweet balsamic flavor comes through...just FYI for those who are a bit sketchy when it comes to vinegar.

The recipe below is adapted from a recipe for Strawberry Balsamic Sorbet that I found on the Mayo Clinic site. Another cool thing about it is that if you let it melt, you've got a good base for a blueberry salad dressing. I used frozen organic blueberries, which worked perfectly.

Here's my version of the recipe:
4 cups frozen organic blueberries, thawed
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon raw agave

Pour the vinegar into a sauce pan and let it "cook" over very low heat until reduced by should be thick and syrupy when ready. Blend the blueberries, balsamic reduction, and agave in a food processor until very smooth (several minutes). If you blend it enough, there's no need for passing it through a fine mesh to extract solids...or at least not in my opinion. Transfer the mixture into a glass bowl, cover and put it in the freezer. Stir the sorbet every 1/2 hour or so until frozen through.

The vinegar in the recipe allows the sorbet to freeze without becoming like ice. You end up with a nicely textured sorbet that is perfectly "scoopable," not too sweet, and quite healthy.

You may have noticed in the photo that the sorbet is sitting on top of a collection of Robert Frost poems. What gives? Well, this is also my entry in the Home Baked Challenge, hosted by Hannah over at the Home Baked blog. It's a very fun idea: every month she selects a broad theme--entries have to be edible and made by the contestants--those are the only two requirements. It just sings creativity.

January's challenge theme is "Frost." So although making a frosty sorbet is not very original, it is double-edged: I selected blueberries in reference to a poem by Robert Frost called Blueberries. Temperatures may be frosty at the moment, yet through this poem, we are reminded of the pleasure of picking ripe berries in the heat of summer. 

And finally, I wanted to express my solidarity with the people of Haiti. My thoughts and heart are with them. We've donated to a couple charities for the earthquake relief, but I also wanted to pass on this link to Craft Hope for Haiti; it's an Etsy shop and all the proceeds go to Doctor's Without Borders for victims of the earthquake.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tofu Caprese

It seems like whenever you cut tofu into little circles fun things happen.  Although this is an unseasonal dish (in this hemisphere at least), I couldn't resist...I am getting a little tired of winter vegetables.  The tomatoes didn't come from too far away: they were organically grown in British Columbia.

To give some flavor to the tofu, I marinated it for about 6 hours in a mixture adapted from the Uncheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak—it imparted a mild flavor:

1 tablespoon white miso
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, slivered

But honestly, tomatoes and basil are versatile and any sort of marinade that tickles your tastebuds would work...I was considering using  a simple blend of soy sauce and sherry. It's all good with a little olive oil and balsamic drizzled over the top:

Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Collard Rolls and Beautiful Beans

Dinner tonight consisted of  beans and grain wrapped in collard greens. The recipe is loosely based on my mom's cabbage rolls, which  were a wintertime standard in our house growing up. I kept the seasoning very basic...use any combination of spices and herbs you like.

We ate this with some salad and a side of lightly steamed green beans. I found some especially lovely ones at my local co-op. They're organically grown in Mexico...I try to stick to locally grown produce (even this time of year) but these were so beautiful, I couldn't pass them up:

Collard Rolls (makes 6-8 rolls, depending on size)
6-8 large collard greens, destemmed
2 cups cooked grain of choice ( I used Kashi Pilaf cooked in veggie broth)
2 cups cooked beans of choice ( I used white beans)
1 cup finely chopped leek
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely diced
1 large green pepper, finely chopped (throw any veggies you like in there)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
optional secret ingredient: 1/4 cup sauerkraut, drained or 1/8 cup lemon zest
a few sprigs of  fresh thyme, leaves pulled from woody stem
salt and pepper to taste
chopped hazelnuts (or other nut/seed of choice) to garnish

Saute the carrot and green pepper for 4-5 minutes, toss in the leek and garlic and saute for another 3-4 minutes, then add the beans, grain, parsley, thyme, and sauerkraut or lemon zest (if using), and stir to combine. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste.

Take a collard green and remove the thick part of the stem by cutting along the edges.  Lay the collard leaf in front of you lengthwise and place a several good-sized tablespoons of the cooked grain and bean mixture in the middle of the leaf closest to you and fold the leaf over the filling, tucking it under and pulling it as tight as possible w/o tearing. Then, fold in the two lateral sides and continue to roll up the other half of the leaf as tightly as possible to form a roll.

Note: If you lightly steam the collards first, the rolls will be easier to make. Also, I didn't have enough collards to do this, but if you double up the leaves for each roll, laying two collards top-to-tail on top of each other, the rolls are practically fool-proof, and you get double the collard greens!

Ladle some slightly sweet/sour tomato sauce (recipe below) into the bottom of a casserole dish and place the rolls in the sauce, cover with more sauce, and bake covered in a 350 (F) oven for 30 - 45 minutes until heated through and the collards are tender. This will depend on how big the rolls are and whether you steamed the collards before making the rolls. Serve topped with chopped hazelnuts or other nut of choice.

Slightly Sweet and Sour Sauce
28 oz diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 bay leaf
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon vinegar of choice
1 tablespoons agave
handful of fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the celery and onion with the bay leaf and red pepper flakes until tender. Add the the rest of the ingredients, bring to simmer, turn down heat, cover and let cook gently for 30 - 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water as needed to maintain desired consistency.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Taco Salad - Lite

Dinner last night was taco salad...a very light version.

I started by marinating some shredded cabbage in vinegar for an hour or so, then tossed it with some cucumber and romaine in the bottom of a  baked corn tortilla bowl (instructions follow).  For the beans, I water-sauteed some refried beans with green pepper, shallot, garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes.  I then dolloped the beans on top of the cabbage salad mixture and in turn, topped that with shredded carrot and a quick salsa made from mango, green onion, and cilantro.

We used fresh tomato salsa as the dressing, but any dressing would be good, as would tofu sour cream and avocado...I was too lazy to make the sour cream and just plain out of avocado.  All in all, it was a lot of flavor in a few calories.

The baked corn tortilla bowls could have turned out better, but they did their job and they were tasty broken up with the salad.  Here's what I did to make the tortilla bowls:

Take a corn tortilla and brush one side of it with a 1:1 mixture of Bragg's Amino's (or soy sauce) and lime juice.  Then cut a 1-inch perpendicular slit around the edge at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock.  This enables you to fold the corn tortilla without it breaking (alternately, you could try warming the tortilla first and see whether that makes it pliable enough).  Then fold the tortilla into an oven-proof bowl, lime juice side up, and let it bake in a 450 (F) oven for about 5 - 8 minutes...watching it closely so it doesn't burn.

When you remove the tortilla from the bowl it may still be a little soft, but will harden up and retain the bowl shape as it cools.  I have a feeling that this would work very well with flour tortillas, as they are more flexible and would be easier to fold into the bowls without tearing...also they tend to be bigger, which would make them easier to work with and a better size overall...the tortillas do shrink a bit while baking.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Raddichio, Orange, Avocado & Fennel Salad w/ Champagne Citrus Dressing

I was looking at at the photo of my previous post and thinking..." that really doesn't look very appetizing"...the meal was good....the photo, not so good.  So, here's a nice bright salad in its place.

The sweetness of the orange and the richness of the avocado contrast with the crunch of the fennel and the slight bitterness of the radicchio. I think that pumpkin or poppy seeds would have been a nice addition too.

For the dressing, I combined 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar, and 1 teaspoon flax oil...I know...the dressing sounded a lot fancier in the title. If you can't stomach the flax oil, any oil you like would work of course. Although it seems to be on the tart side, the orange I used was really sweet, so it balanced out pretty well.

I hope everyone's having a good weekend.

Ciao for now :)

Tofu Cacciatore

 Dinner last night was tofu cacciatore-style on whole wheat pasta with mustard greens and cauliflower on the side. I'm not 100% sure what a traditional "cacciatore" dish contains;  I just threw this together from a vague childhood memory--a spicy red sauce with oregano, mushrooms, and red onion, served with a "chicken-style" tofu and topped with black olives and a bit more oregano.

The chicken style tofu turned out really well, I followed this recipe, but made a couple of alterations. I used regular unsalted veggie broth instead of  faux chicken broth, used Bragg's Aminos instead of straight soy sauce, and used oregano instead of thyme (can you tell I like oregano?). I didn't have time to marinate it for as long as the recipe recommends, but I'm sure it would have been even better if I had. If you're interested in a chicken-style tofu recipe...I definitely recommend it.

And don't forget to check out the Healthy Cooking Challenge that Alicia and I put together. Head on over to Vegan Epicurean and check it out; it should be a lot fun and a lot of great recipes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Chick Pea Cakes, Horiatiki, and Baba Ghanouj

For dinner last night we had chick pea cakes with baba ghanouj and fresh salsa on a bed of fresh spinach; a horiatiki-style salad with cucumber, tomato, red onion and black olives in a flaxseed oil, vinegar, and oregano dressing.

The chick pea cakes were basically the same as Vegan Epicurean's recipe here; I also added shredded zucchini and parsley. The baba is so simple and delicious, it's the roasted flesh of one medium-sized eggplant, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 clove garlic, 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds, Bragg's Aminos, cumin, and pepper to taste, all blended up for several minutes unitl smooth.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chili over Baked Plantain

This was dinner last night. The dressing on the salad is a Creamy Caesar dressing from Eat for Health. It has rice milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, roasted garlic, and dijon mustard...really good. I had some more for lunch to day on a green salad mixed with fresh tomato was delish.

And it's not in the photo, but we also had some delicious tofu sour cream from Vegan Epicurean's recipe. Very good too!

Ciao for now :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Spaghetti Squash with Raw Broccoli Pesto

Dinner last night was baked spaghetti squash topped with some raw broccoli pesto, chard lightly cooked in veggie broth, some chick peas toasted in the oven with a sprinkling of Bragg's Liquid Aminos, and some raw mushrooms and carrots.

For the pesto, I blended 2 cups of chopped raw broccoli, 2 oz of raw walnuts, 1 garlic clove, a handful of fresh basil and two tablespoons of nutritional yeast. I used veggie broth instead of oil to bring it together...and I could have used more because it turned out kind of thick.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cucumber and Hummus Rollups with Salsa & Peppers

I got a mandoline for Christmas, and decided to take it out for it's first run today with these cucumber rollups.
The rollups didn't turn out as solid as I wanted; the idea was to stand them upright, but they held together better flat.  It doesn't matter; it all went down just the same:).

The peppers are just raw peppers with fresh salsa and a piece of avocado.

The hummus was sort of an experiment because I put some horseradish in it, and I have to say I enjoyed it. Here's what I put in the hummus (just an idea rather than a recipe) makes about 1.5 cups worth.

1 cup cooked chick peas
juice from 1/2 of a medium lemon
4 sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted in warm water
1/2 teaspoon prepared vegan horseradish
1 small garlic clove

The sweetness of the s/d tomatoes balanced out the zing of the horseradish. In keeping with Eat to Live, I didn't add any salt (except for the salt in the horseradish) or other fats, and it was pretty tasty just the same.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Apple Blueberry Salad with Fresh Basil and Ginger

Ok, so here's my first breakfast on the Eat to Live plan.  I used frozen blueberries, which turned the apples a magenta color...but that wouldn't happen if you use fresh ones:

For the salad I used:

1 Granny Smith apple
1 cup thawed wild blueberries
1 rib celery
a good handful of fresh basil

For the dressing I used:

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon flax oil (which provides the daily req for Omega-3s)
freshly grated ginger
lemon zest

The salad was crunchy and satisfying. The lemon and ginger made it zingy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Pasta and Pan-seared Hearts of Palm

Ok, what's going on?

I never post this much in one day...but I had to post a pic of our din-dins tonight (01/01/10).

Tomorrow, I'm starting the 6-week Eat to Live Plan from Dr. Joel Fuhrman with my friend, Alicia. I'm really excited about it.  I'm mentally prepared and psyched up for it...but just wanted to post my last pasta for the next 6 weeks :)

The pan-seared hearts of palm are from this Peta food blog post.

Whole Wheat Tea Brack

Tea Brack, also called Barm Brack, is a traditional Irish tea bread. "Breac" means "speckled" in Irish, and that describes this bread, which is speckled with dried fruits. It is traditionally eaten with butter and a nice hot cuppa tea...I like it slathered in orange marmalade.

The first time I had it, I was at my husband's cousin's house just outside of Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.  Her name is Veronica, and she wrote the recipe down for me, but I've never used it until now. I've veganized it here, and used whole wheat flour to make it a little healthier. If you use white flour, it will turn out more tender and moist, and will raise better. Actually, in Veronica's version, she calls for self-raising flour...if you use this, you can omit the baking powder and salt listed in the recipe below. Also, note that with the egg replacer, it is a fat-free recipe.

For the fruit, I used a combination of raisins, unsulphered apricots, and bing cherries (which, when dried, taste like prunes not cherries in my opinion). The whiskey is optional, and it wasn't in Veronica's original recipe, but I was feeling cheeky. And, one last note: I've spiced this mildly to suit my honey-hubby's tastes (he doesn't like cinnamon or cloves or other things like that if they're pronounced) so feel free to add more spices  and suit your fancy.

1 cup mixed dried fruit
1 cup hot black tea ( I made it strong, w/ 2 bags of Tetley's British Blend)
2 tbsp Irish whiskey (optional, but good)
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour for a lighter texture)
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons all spice (or more and other spices to your liking)
Ener-G Egg replacer for 2 eggs

In a large mixing bowl, soak the dried fruit in the hot tea and whiskey for several hours, perhaps overnight. After the fruit has soaked for several hours and has become nice and plump,  preheat the oven to 350ºF, grease a loaf pan, and line it with baking parchment.

Add the sugar to the bowl of soaked fruit and mix it up until dissolved, then mix in the prepared egg replacer. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and allspice together, and add the flour mixture to the fruit and sugar mixture.

Bake in the loaf tin for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until firm and and a knife inserted in comes out clean. Check on it periodically, and cover with parchment or aluminium foil if it's in danger of getting too brown.

For best results, let it cool a while before cutting and serving.

I'm starting the Eat to Live 6-week Plan from Dr. Joel Fuhrman tomorrow, which means that processed grains like flour are out, as are dried fruits. So, I ate my fill of brack today, and my honey-bun hubby will just have to finish the rest off himself.

Sweet & Sour Tofu & Vegan Prawns

Our last supper of 2009 consisted of sweet and sour tofu and vegan prawns. (The broccoli is from my winter garden...luckily it pulled through the cold snap we had a few weeks back.)

Now, vegan prawns are not something I buy often...but sometimes they're fun. I picked these up at Sidecar for Pig's Peace:

They're made of vegetable gum and root starch, with paprika for the color. They have a firm texture and taste mildly, well, prawns. 

Sweet and Sour Sauce
2/3 cup pineapple juice (from a can of pineapple...I couldn't find a ripe fresh one)
1/4 cup agave
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons corn starch

Mix all ingredients in a pan and heat over medium until thickened, stirring frequently. Pour the sauce over any stir fry mixture of your choice.

All in all, it was a tasty way to end the year.

Happy New Year All!
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