Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jalapeño Burgers and Avocado Fries

If I eat fried stuff, it's almost always onion rings. But last night, we gave fried avocado wedges a try. They will never take over the position of onion rings in my book, but they're fun because you dip them in salsa instead of ketchup.  I'm thinking anyone who had a penchant for fried mozzarella in another life would enjoy these.  If I make them again, I'll add a slice of onion to make an avocado/onion ring hybrid.

I used the recipe from American Vegan Kitchen. If you don't have the book but are interested, you can find a similar recipe on Tami's blog here. They are coated in a batter that is basically equal parts flour and beer, with a little lime juice; they fry up quite nicely.

I couldn't get a good shot of the inside, but here's a blurry one:

The burgers were sort of an experiment that turned out reasonably well. I baked a loaf of seitan, ground it up into mince, then sauteed it with some finely chopped mushrooms, onion, garlic, jalapeño peppers, oregano, a splash of vegan worcestershire and salt/pepper.  I tossed the mushroom/seitan mixture into a bowl and added a cup or so of  vital wheat gluten and a bit of water to get a patty-making consistency. Then, I browned them on the stove before baking them in the oven for about a half an hour.

They were soft, but held together well...if I made them again, I would add walnuts. They were fairly tasty and paired well with some vegan sour cream.

Baked seitan works especially well for making mince, I find.

seitan loaf

chunks o' seitan

seitan mince

mushroom/jalapeño/seitan patties

Now I'm off to carve these pumpkins:

See y'all Monday for  Vegan MoFo

Happy Halloween! 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pizza, and...More Pizza

Who says a good pizza necessarily involves cheese?

Not me. In fact, even before my vegan days, I always preferred pizzas with more sauce than cheese.

Now, don't get me wrong; I love a pizza with some good old vegan cheeze as much as anyone. But sometimes, cheeze-less is fun too. Over the weekend,  I threw together a couple of of those very specimens--it was a pizza-fest; we ate pizza twice!

The first pizza had tomato base with grilled mushrooms, fresh basil, and mustard mizuna:

This combo was based on a pizza I posted about here, and had been wanting to recreate at home ever since. The mushrooms were a little pricey, but I splurged a little and bought a Chef's Sampler from Mycopia.

The sampler contained these tasty varieties:

Buttons and crimini are great, but they don't begin to compare with any of these. Just upon opening the pack, a robust mushroom scent fills your nostrils. The velvet pioppini were very fragile to touch, but had the most full-bodied flavor. They were my favorite and well worth the splurge.

(For some extra browning action before adding them to the pizza, I grilled the mushrooms under the broiler with a little olive oil, black pepper, and a pinch of garlic powder for 1 - 2 minutes.)

Normally, I whip up a quick pizza sauce with pureed tomatoes that doesn't involve pre-cooking. This time, I made a cooked version, which added extra flavor and fragrance. The following makes a generous cup/enough for liberally saucing one 14-inch pizza:

2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 large tomato, chopped
red chili flakes to taste
oregano to taste
1.5 cups strained San Marzano tomatoes, or whatever kind you want
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the garlic and chili flakes over medium-low until garlic begins to become fragrant, toss in chopped tomato and oregano, continue to saute for another ~ 5 minutes until the tomato starts to break down. Add the strained tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and allow to simmer for another 15 - 20 minutes. You can allow it to cool before putting it on the pizza.

Pizza II
The second pizza feast involved spinach-walnut pesto, thinly sliced red potatoes, red onions, and chili flakes topped with fresh walnuts and rosemary:

The key to success in getting the potatoes to cook through in the same time it takes a thin crust pizza to cook is to slice the the tatoes very thin (as with a mandolin) and then soak them in warm, salty water for an hour or two before putting them on the pizza. In this way, the potatoes become softer and cook up more quickly.

If the potatoes are nice and thin and the pesto is rich and tasty, this pizza is not "too starchy" in the least...though it may sound like it would be.  This is the kind of pizza you take in your hands, fold in half, and eat like a sandwich:

Spinach-Walnut Pesto
(makes about 1 cup)

Blend in food processor:

2 cups fresh spinach, rinsed
handful of fresh basil ~ 1/2 cup ( or more to taste...I would have used a little more, but that's all I had)
1/2 cup raw walnuts (or other nut of choice)
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
1 generous tablespoon nutritional yeast
olive oil, water or veggie broth to bring up to desired consistency

The Dough
Last week, I found some Tipo "00" (zero zero) pizza flour in the store, which is what put pizza in my head in the first place. I had never used it before, so it was kind of exciting. This is a soft, finely milled flour containing very little gluten that is traditionally used in Neapolitan-style pizzas. From what I understand, a Neapolitan pizza crust should be made with "00" flour, fresh yeast (not the granules) and fired in a wood oven...Well, I got one out of three.

When elaborated according pizza-purist guidelines, a "pizza napoletana" crust is meant to have a soft edge with a very thin layer of crunch. I seriously doubt mine would be up to snuff for the pizza police, but it did come out with a nice crispy finish.

Here were the rough measurements I used for this dough:

~ 4 cups flour
1 1/3 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2  1/2 teaspoons yeast
cornmeal or semolina for dusting pizza pan

I always use a wooden spoon for making bread--not sure whether it make a difference, it's just the way I was taught--: Dissolve the yeast in 1/3 cup of the water, warmed to just above body temperature, it should feel quite warm to the touch but not hot. Stir in the sugar and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until you can see the yeast reacting and foam develops on the top.

Toss about half the flour in a large bowl, add the salt, then pour in the yeast/water mixture and the remaining cup of water. Stir it up into a shaggy mass. Add in more flour in 1/4 - 1/2 cup increments until you can bring the dough up into a ball and it is no longer sticky.

Turn dough out onto a floured board, and knead the dough for a a few minutes, adding in more flour as you go to take up any stickiness. With plain white pizza dough, I usually don't bother kneading for more than 2 or 3 minutes, but it's up yourself.The end result should be an elastic texture that is not at all sticky.

Form a dough ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl (w/ olive oil) brush the top of the dough with a very light coating of olive oil, place bowl in a warm place and cover with a cloth or some plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise until it's doubled in size.

At this point, you can punch the dough down and let it rise again, or shape it onto your cornmeal dusted pizza pan, add your ingredients and bake. This makes roughly enough for two *thin* 14-inch pizzas.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Braised Fennel with Grapes and Oranges

From what I gather, fennel is not necessarily everyone's favorite veggie. I think it's one of those things like cilantro; you either love it or hate it. I love all things fennel (and anise)-related from black licorice to sambuca and everywhere in between.

Botanically, fennel and anise are two different plants in the same family that have similar flavor characteristics. From what I understand, anise is used mostly for its seed, while fennel is used bulb, stalk and all as a vegetable.

This was part of the meal I posted previously, so I thought I might as well put up the recipe.

Also, can anyone tell me what this means?    <3

I keep seeing it, and I can't tell whether it's a face or a booty or what.

Serves 4 as a side dish:
2 fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons olive oil (or whatever you like to saute with)
1 cup veggie broth
1 cup grapes
1 organic orange, sliced thin with skin on (save the ends for juicing over the top at the end)
salt and pepper to taste (if your veggie broth is salted, you probably won't need to add much salt)

Cut the fennel stalks from the bulbs; save the frondy parts for garnish and save the stalks to use later for soup stock or whatever. Slice the bulbs into 1/2-inch slices lengthwise.

In a large fry pan, saute the fennel slices in a single layer over med-high heat for 1-2 minutes, when the fennel starts to brown a little, turn the fennel over and saute the other side for another 1 - 2 minutes, tossing in the grapes and orange slices at the same time you turn the fennel.

Reduce heat to medium - low, add salt and pepper to taste and pour in the veggie broth. Cover pan and allow it to cook gently until fennel is tender ~ 6-8 minutes. Garnish with fennel fronds and a squeeze of fresh orange.

The cooked fennel has a mild, sweet flavor and a creamy texture.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Balsamic-Maple Glazed Vegan Sausage w/ Figs and Red Onion

At the risk of posting a dish that has the gnarly aspect of meat, I had to post about these seitan skewers we had over the weekend. They made a wonderul fall meal along with some braised fennel, fresh kale salad, and crusty bread.

I used Field Roast Italian Style sausages, which are my favorite store-bought sausages, and come in handy for quick fix meals. Any Italian-style vegan sausage that you prefer, homemade or otherwise, would be good this way, I think.

Just in case anyone is interested:
In general, I recommend browning these sausages off before you use them in whatever recipe. I definitely did that in this case, because I knew they wouldn't have enough time to get brown and nicely cooked before the onions and figs were done.

Maple/Balsamic Glazed Seitan Skewers:
(Makes 8, so serves two to four people depending on how many skewers each)

1 punnet fresh figs ( ~ 8 figs) I used  fresh Turkish figs, cut in half lengthwise
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
4 Italian-style vegan saugages, cut into 2-inch peices
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Black pepper to taste
Fresh rosemary for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 F (~ 200 C). Brown off the sausage peices in the oven or a fry pan...not too dark, because they will cook a little more on the skewers. Slide the figs, onions, and sausages onto the skewers and brush with the glaze on all sides. Let the skewers cook in the oven for ~ 10-12 minutes, turning halfway though. Serve sprinkled with fresh rosemary and black pepper to taste.

Note: if you use wooden skewers, it's probably a good idea to soak them in a little water for about an hour or so before going into the oven. (To speed up the process, soak them in hot water.)  I usually do this if I'm going to use them on the BBQ, but not sure that it's strictly necessary here, as they are in the oven for a relatively short period of time...I soaked them anyway to be on the safe side.

The kale salad was much flavor out of a few simple ingredients. I highly recommend it. I followed this recipe from 101 Cookbooks. Of course, I omitted the pecorino cheese, and replaced it with some raddichio and sliced almonds.

Also wanted to thank Jessica, for the info on making photo collages in Picasa. I haven't entirely got the hang of it yet, but it is fun.
Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apple Sorbet with Sauvignon Blanc

This is a simple recipe I tried over the weekend. It's from the October issue of Sunset magazine, a copy of which is usually hanging out on my mom's coffee table. The October issue is kind of a nice one; among other things, there is a full page layout of all the different 5-spice mixtures from different cuisines. 

But I digress...

This sorbet is basically a fancy version of applesauce (wine = fancy) frozen to make a refreshing sorbet. A scoop of it is also a nice addition to a glass of a light-flavored white wine and results in an apple-y, granita-like drink.  The recipe is available online here.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly:

I used 1 cup of  Italian apple soda instead of the water the recipe calls for. This made the flavor extra apple-y. Because the Italian soda was sweet, I used 1/2 cup (vegan) sugar instead of the 3/4 cup the recipe calls for. And finally, I didn't use an ice cream maker; I just stirred it every half hour until it was frozen through.  The recipe makes enough for about 6 servings.

Ad Hoc Note: For a non-alcoholic version, I think a sparkling apple cider would sub perfectly for the wine and the water as well.

If this sort of thing sounds good to you...I think you'll like the recipe. And it is a nice twist on autumnal fare.

The leaves haven't really started to turn yet around our yard, but isn't this a pretty orangey color?

Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Broccoli, Cauliflower, & Runner Bean Salad (with Versatility and an Award!) lemon tahini dressing.

This crisp salad makes a perfect accompaniment to an autumn meal. Or, with some chickpeas, tofu, or similar thrown in, it could double as a meal in itself.  I like to make it by blanching the veggies and then refreshing them, so it's not completely raw (which would be good too), but still packs a healthy crunch and retains the natural color of the veggies.  Alternately, you could make an oven-roasted version, which is also good...that's why this is a versatile dish (I think).

It's based on a salad from a cafe where I worked at in 03/04. If my memory serves, I think we used green beans instead of runner beans and peppers instead of red onion...but again, the little extras you decide to throw in are up to your own whimsy.

1/2 lb broccoli florets (save stems for veggie broth, stir fry, or broccomole (scroll down on the broccomole link for recipe)) 
1/2 lb cauliflower florets
1/2 lb runner beans (or green beans), large chop
1 - 2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion, finely sliced (~1/2 cup - 3/4 cup, or to taste)
1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Put the broccoli, cauliflower and runner beans in a large bowl. Bring a large pot of water to the boil pour over the veggies, and let it stand for 5-7 minutes. Drain the veggies and cool them off immediately by covering them in cold water and tossing in  tray or two of ice cubes.

Or, you could drop the veggies into the boiling water and let them cook for 1-2 minutes, then refresh.

I like the 7-minute happens more slowly, so you can afford to get distracted for a minute or two w/o the veggies getting over cooked.

When the veggies are cool, drain and toss in a large bowl with the red onion, cherry tomatoes, and almond slices.

Lemon Tahini Dressing:
The dressing didn't come through in the photo.  I recommend you make a double batch and drizzle more over on at the table, if you feel like you want more dressing. Depending on how thick your tahini is, you may need to add a little more or less water to achieve a good consistency. Mine came out a little thin, which is why it's not too visible in the photo. If if it were just a little thicker, it would have stuck to the veggies better.

2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, very finely minced
splash of soy sauce, tamari, or Bragg's Liquid Aminos ( I added about 1 teaspoon worth)
water to bring up to desired consistency ( I used about 1/8 cup, but depending how thick your tahini is, you may need to add more/less)

Serve with lemon wedges and black pepper to taste. Saves well in the fridge for a couple of days.

Speaking of versatility, Carissa from Coffee and Sunshine awarded me a Versatile Blogger award. Thanks Carissa! I didn't post to the blog in Sept, so I was delayed in posting this. 

The award consists in sharing 7 obscure facts about oneself, then passing it on. I found it difficult to come up with stuff, so here goes nothin':

Pierce Brosnan once touched my elbow and asked me were the toilettes were.

I taught EFL in Madrid, Spain for 6 years (in the 90's).

I'm not sure, but I think I have a little crush on Alec Baldwin.

After a beer or two, I'm a sucker for karaoke.

You know the Ad Sense things you can put on a blog? Well...

I was thinking of a plan to dye one's whiskers green, and always use so large of fan that they could not be seen....

(just kidding, that's from Through the lOOking Glass, of course)... 

I was thinking of a scheme where a large group of people get together, run ads on their sites and then click on each other's ads in order to bulk up the money they earn... Probably already been done.

I never had the chicken pox as a kid, but I got them at the age of 23, while spending a month in Paris. 

My very first real boyfriend was from Serbia; I fell for him because on our first date, he prepared a dinner that consisted entirely of Brussel's sprouts and corn was odd, but yummy.

Note to Recipients: If you're not into these blog award worries, just do with it/or don't do with it what you will :)

I'm passing this award on to the following versatile bloggers (in no particular order):

DirtyDuck (check out her most recent pics of Lilly!)
Good Luck Duck (a recent find for me...funny, clever, intriguing, and sometimes cryptic)
Mehitable Days (fun spirited, interesting, and definitely mehitable)
Blessed Vegan Life (I think you have to be versatile with 5 hungry vegans to feed)

And, because I know how much she loves these awards:
Shenandoah Vegan (just kidding SV--just messin' with ya)

Ciao for now

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ratatouille-Stuffed Aubergines

Ok, I admit it's a little pretentious of me to be calling eggplants by their otherwise French/British English name, seeing as how I'm blogging from the US. But, what can I say? I love that word! And since 'ratatouille' already had me on the turf of the ancient Gauls...why not?

I thought I might as well use the three wee eggplants that graced my garden this year; late-bloomers that they were, they weren't going to get any bigger from here on in. So, I whipped up some hummus, topped it with a bit of harissa, and served it with some ratatouille-filled mini eggplants. It got a bit messy, but it was a colorful feast of the eyes.

The harissa was a treat that my neighbor presented me for watering her houseplants while she was away.  I had never had it before, and while it's bit on the salty side (this particular jar is anyway) we enjoyed the deep, peppery tang of it.

Also, if you haven't already, don't forget to sign up for VeganMofo IV. It really is a lot of fun and a great way to discover cool blogs from all over the globe. 

Speaking of vegan coolness (or should I say "ghoulness"), if you haven't yet, I have to recommend you check out Manifest Vegan's seasonal take on chips and guacamole, cuz it is really is way too cute. 

Happy Thanksgiving weekend Canada!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cats, Squash Boats, and Gardeny Things

Meet Jada, houseplant eater, super talker, loving sweetheart, black beauty:

September was the month of the cat at our place. When the cat isolation room at the shelter gets full, the officers appeal to volunteers to take some of the iso cats into foster care...just until they get better, in order to make room for new incoming cats. It runs the gamut, but many of the cats in the isolation room are not too sick; they just have mild upper respiratory infections. It's only a matter of giving them anti-biotics for a couple of weeks until their symptoms disappear, and they can return to the shelter for adoption.

Jada was nearly fully recovered when she came to stay with us. I had to relocate all my houseplants, because she loved munching on them...I bought her some wheat grass to nibble on instead. She was with us for 2 weeks, and then went back into the adoption room of the shelter. Man, it was difficult to bring her back to the shelter that day...but she's since been adopted to a good home. (yaay Jada!)

She must have been living with a colony of ferals at one time, because her ear is tipped in the way they do ferals after they have been spayed/neutered in TNR programs. She wasn't the least bit feral herself though.

Next up, meet Lucky: long, lean, athletic, elegant, as graceful as a gazelle, and super friendly (though he looks rather nonchalant in the photo).

Lucky's situation was pretty much the same as Jada's...he just needed to finish up his meds, as his symptoms had already disappeared. He's still with us...we're planning on adopting him, but we have to wait and see; his status is still pending.

And, this is our long-time family member, Cheeky

Cheeky, taking time out to smell the flowers

She's a Drumcondra kitty, because she was born in the Drumcondra neighborhood of Dublin, Ireland. We picked her up as a stray kitten on the busy Drumcondra Road back in 2003, while we were living nearby at the time.

Here's a yummy Sunday dinner (apologies for the dark photo):

I was inspired to try these "squash boats" a while ago, while reading Meeps' blog: Alien's Day Out: A Vegan in Seoul, South Korea.  She totally doesn't know it (probably), but I love her's full of  crazily delicious food. She even makes oatmeal look appetizing. 

Anyway, she had posted about these stuffed squash that she ate for lunch in a department store food court. Food courts around here are full of junk, so I was struck by how healthy and delicious these seemed for food court fare.

My take on it was roasted kabocha squash stuffed with roasted cauliflower, shallots, and yam--and  then topped with pumpkin seeds, cashews, and almonds that I caramelized in maple syrup. Fresh thyme and rosemary made perfect garnishes.

We ate it with beans from the garden, some homemade seitan, and our usual salad.

Vibrant kabocha boats:

September was a good month out in the garden too, and tomatoes finally came into season...

**OK, all you people who have been harvesting tomatoes since July can stop laughing now! :D**

In spite of the cool summer, I got a pretty sizeable tomato harvest. I got 3 good pulls all about 3 lbs- worth, so ~9 lbs all together:

The dark-colored cherries are "Black Cherry" variety. They are super sweet, but skins are on the tough side. The large slicers are "Peron" tomatoes...fairly prolific and have a mild sweetness, nice and juicy too. The romas are, well, romas...extremely prolific, fairly tasty and great for drying or sauces.

I kept the tomatoes under a ventilated poly-tunnel all summer, which kept temps about 10 degrees warmer than ambient. Had I not done this, I would have ended up with multitudes of green tomatoes.

Squash harvest was not so great...I got three mini-kabochas. The cool thing is that they grew orange, knobby scabs over areas that had been munched on by some critter. You can see a big orange scabby thing on the righthand-side squash:

Still waiting on three little eggplants that I have since moved into the sun room:

I was hoping to see these peppers go from yellow to red, but who am I kidding? That's not going to happen: the intensity/warmth of the sun has diminished too much by this time of year. Instead, we'll be eating these greeny/yellow peppers soon:

Here are my autumn greens busy growing under a winter-time poly tunnel:

Dahlias and sunflowers waited until Sept to bloom too:

Next up for the garden is planting some vetch in for a cover crop and putting in some Russian Red stiffneck garlic.

Ciao for now.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...