Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stuff I Never Posted

Season's Greetings everyone! I haven't been too active here lately, so I thought I'd shake off my blog paralysis with some blasts from the recent past, some stuff I never posted. All the way from August, this was a white gazpacho: lemon cucumber, fennel, garlic, white onion, celery and blanched almonds. Seasoned with salt and white pepper and topped with smoked paprika and basil oil, it was very summery and refreshing, but I prefer tomato gazpacho.

From not quite so long ago, this was the main course I made for our Thanksgiving dinner. We were at my bro's house, and I brought these along for our vegan dinner. My niece, who's vegetarian ate them too. What are they you ask? 

Why, they're cashew, leek, and mushroom stacks of course. These were inspired by a recipe from a vegetarian cafe I worked at back in 03/04. The base is sprouted bread crumbs and cashews sauteed with garlic, onion, and herbs. The filling is the part I tweaked. I don't remember exactly what went into the filling at the restaurant, but I made this one by blending tofu, white miso, ume vinegar, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and some mushroom powder. The powder I made by grinding up some dried forest mushrooms; it imparted a great umami flavor, but a little goes a long way.  Then I stirred in some sauteed crimini and maitake mushrooms, shallots, and parsley to the tofu mix, and topped off the stacks with sherry-braised leeks and raw cranberries.

Once the cashew crust, tofu, and toppings were layered in these nifty open-bottom molds, they went into a 350 F oven for about 30 minutes. The cranberries cooked down, and once out of the oven, garnished with some ground hazelnuts or walnuts, these make a flavorful and festive little main course.

We also had some vegan stuffing: herbed walnut baguette, sourdough baquette, walnuts, apples, and wild rice along with the usual stuffing seasonings: onion, celery, thyme, parsley, veggie broth and Earth Balance. I served in a baked buttercup squash, which turned out kind of cute:

On to a quick mid-week lunch: one of MeloMeal's 3-ingredient bean burgers in an eggplant "bun" with sweet onion and ginger-tomato chutney.

The next item is truly a blast from the past: spaghetti squash casserole, based on the recipe from one of the first Moosewood cookbooks. One of my college roommates and I used to love this recipe and made it a lot. We were vegetarian back then, not vegan, but the recipe was easy to veganize by using olive oil instead of butter and cashew cream and tofu ricotta instead of the cheeses. 

It totally looks like a piece of carrot cake, especially with the extra cashew cream and ground walnuts on top. 

Finally, this was a fairly recent meal. I started of by sauteeing loads of sliced garlic, (like a full heads-worth) some red pepper flakes and oregano, then added collard greens, crushed tomatoes, and oven-fried tofu and let it simmer for about 40 minutes.

 It was simple, but so tasty.  Next time I make it, I'll use two bunches of collards instead of just one, just can't get enough of it! 

Happy holiday season to all! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hello, It's Molly

This is just a random post, so feel free to ignore it. I felt like posting something, but I don't really have anything to post about except for the fact that we adopted Molly the cat. We've been fostering her from the animal shelter since September, and well, she just became part of the family.

At the shelter, it's jokingly referred to as a "foster failure" when a foster parent adopts one of their fosters...and I'm pretty much a foster failure. Last year, we fostered Lucky and ended up adopting him. But in our defense, we have fostered several other kitties that ended up getting adopted by others. It's not safe for me to foster too often though, lest I become a crazy cat know the type who lives in a little house at the end of the road with dozens and dozens of cats around the place.

Anyway, how could we not adopt her...look how sweet she looks sitting amongst the plants.

And check out this kitty snuggling:

Lucky (right) and Molly have become good friends. Molly follows him around like a big brother. And, Lucky's young and playful enough to enjoy playing chase and cat wrestling. Whereas, Cheeky our older cat is really not that interested.

In food news, though I cook everyday, I haven't been too blog-oriented on that front. But, here are a couple dark shots (apologies...these were taken in our bat cave of a kitchen) of a pretty good pizza we had recently:

lot's of herby sauce, green pepper, mushroom, onion, tomato, and black olives

Out of the oven with fresh basil and oregano on top:

It's going to be a short, but busy week. Have a good one! Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thai Curry-Coconut Squash (and other eats)

This is such a simple and tasty dish. It's one of our favorites, and it makes a great side dish or a meal in itself along with a bit of brown rice and tofu or what have you...toss in some greens even. We like to eat it chunky, but you could also puree it into soup if you prefer.

Start with a kabocha squash...butternut would work too, but you want a nice sturdy squash that will hold its shape while gently braising. Cut  the squash into big chunks (if it's organic, I leave the skin on; it really becomes quite soft and palatable with braising, but it's up to you). Whisk together 2 parts unsalted veggie broth, 1 part full-fat coconut milk, and some Thai curry paste to taste. Bring the broth mix to a simmer then add the squash and let it cook gently over low until the squash is nice and soft, but still holding its shape.

Just in passing, I like Chaokoh brand coconut milk; it's good stuff, sumptuously thick and creamy. The only way it could be better is if it were organic...but hey, it's not a perfect world. Of course it's up to you, but, if you're inclined to buy light coconut milk because of fat/calorie concerns, my advice is: don't. Just buy full-fat and dilute it; you get twice as much for your money. (It stores fine in the freezer too.)

Use whatever type of curry paste you prefer. Green curry would be good too, but I prefer  a yellow or red curry paste. Heck, you could use more of an Indian style curry or whatever suits your fancy, so long as it's tasty.

These are rough estimates, but for ~2.5 lbs of chopped squash, I'll use 2 cups veggie broth, 1 cup thick coconut milk and 1 generous Tablespoon curry paste. (Adjust the paste to taste.)  Saltiness of prepared curries differ, so I recommend using unsalted veggie broth and then adding salt to the coconut/broth/curry mix if need be.

Serve with generous amounts of fresh squeezed lime juice, and garnish with chili sauce if you want more heat. Lime rounds out the flavor nicely. 

In other news, I don't blog about everyday eats very often, but here are some recent weeknight meals:

Big salad of lacinato kale, chard, and romaine along with shredded carrot, red cabbage, sweet onion, and cherry tomato, topped with some oven-roasted buffalo-style tofu. I made the buffalo sauce starting with tomato paste, vinegar, and coconut palm sugar, and garlic, then added water and a generous amount of Tapatio sauce. It was spicy!

After the pic, I dressed it with some vegan ranch dressing, (plain soy yogurt, cider vinegar, umeboshi vinegar, a pinch of kala namak salt and lots of garlic and herbs)...don't know whether ranch tastes like that dressing, but it was rich-tasting, garlicky and herby, and I thought it suited the spicy tofu well.

Another pile of greens, this time with roasted apple, brussel's sprouts, and Japanese sweet potato, green beans, pomegranite, hemp seeds, and tomato. Yam would have been nicer visually, but I can't resist Japanese sweet potato, they're so sweet and good. I think this was dressed with nut yeast, Bragg's aminos, and cider vinegar.

Very plain, but delicious nonetheless, lentils with Field Roast Italian-style Vegan sausage and kale. Saute base was celery/onion/ garlic and spiced with fennel seed, bay leaf, chili flakes and oregano.

And the true star of the bunch (in spite of being photographed in the drear of my kitchen) this sandwich was the farthest thing from dreary. It was one of the many sandwich creations sparked by Maud's enticing offering a while back. Seriously, versions of her sandwich did the rounds on the the blogs. My version ended up as balsamic-roasted eggplant, smoky white bean spread (basically hummus made with cannelini beans instead of garbanzos and a few drops of liquid smoke added), sun dried tomato pesto, baby greens, and sweet onion on a wheat/herb/walnut baguette. 

I'm really looking forward to the holiday season this year...(unlike in past few years for various reasons). The time for cozy nights and delicious harvest meals is upon us! What are any US vegans planning for Thanksgiving? I always look forward to seeing the many ingenious, sumptuous creations that end up on the holiday tables and shine at mixed gatherings!

Talk to you soon! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Vegan "Clam" Chowder

It's not the most photogenic thing in the world, but it sure is good. This vegan clam chowder is based on the recipe from the LA Times, and it's something I make on a regular basis. The base is cashew cream and kombu broth, which I think is genius. It adds a subtle sea flavor, which is great for seaweed wimps like me. (Of course, folks who like a stronger seaweed dimension could add some dulse or other seaweed to the broth and/or garnish with dulse flakes.)

The "clams" are smoked king oyster mushrooms; the recipe tells you to smoke them on a stove top smoker like this little set up of wood chips in a foil-covered heavy pan:

Place a bamboo steamer over the top of the chips and it works pretty well as a makeshift smoker.

The stove top smoker is not essential however. I've made this recipe many times just coating the mushrooms in a smoky spice mix (smoked salt, paprika, garlic granules, Old Bay), and then cooking them under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. I actually prefer the taste from the smoked salt rub method better than the smoker method. You could also marinate them in a smoky marinade.

Once they're broiled or smoked, cut them into strips and they're ready for the chowder.

As I mentioned, I make this often and have come up with my own deviations from the original recipe:
  • Added: a generous Tablespoon of white miso and a good few drops of umeboshi vinegar to the cashew cream. I do this more often than not with any creamy base; it makes it richer and nuttier and salty. Do a taste test, but you usually don't need to add extra salt to the recipe.
  • Added: 2 cups of Seitenbacher veggie broth to the finished kombu broth. Seitenbacher broth is unsalted and has nutritional yeast in it; it adds some nice flavor. 
  • I usually only use 2 cups of cashews instead of the 4 the recipe calls for, and I don't soak them overnight as it suggests in the recipe. That's total overkill in my opinion. Soaking them for 45 minutes to an hour is plenty if you ask me; they blend up just fine.
  • Added: a finely diced jalapeno to the celery/onion saute base. 
To top it off, I cook up some smokey tempeh strips, chop them up and sprinkle them over each bowl of chowder. With a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some hot sauce (both essential), this is soo tasty! And, it's so much healthier than the non-vegan variety to boot!

In other family news, meet Molly. She's a foster kitty from the local animal shelter. I help out with cat fosters when the isolation room gets full. She's just about a year old, though she's already had a litter of kittens! She started early. :D Anyway, she's spayed now and is so cute and fun, still full of kittenish play.
These photos don't capture what fun she is...I really should post a video of her at play, because she gets up to the funniest and cutest things.

She loves the sun porch, where as in the photo above,  she hangs out in the plant pots. And, my cat Cheeky, who is a hard sell for new cats in the house will even tolerate her enough to share the sun room with her.  

Cheeky is still not 100% sold on the idea of Molly being around, but our other cat, Lucky, has become a fast friend. They run around the house cat wrestling and playing together and then snuggle up on the bed. Again, I wish I had a vid of them at play, but we'll have to do with pics for now. 

Anyone in the Seattle area who knows someone interested in making Molly part of their loving home and cherish her know where to find her. Here's her petfinder posting
Healthy Clam Chowder Recipe
Rosanne Tobin
Roseann Laponte

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms and Spicy Squash

The seasons have changed since the last time I posted, so I figured it was high time to move on to something more in keeping with them: hearty mushrooms and winter squash just seem to say autumn. 
Portabella steaks with vegan feta and savory stuffing, runner beans, and spicy caramelized squash
This meal was inspired by Michelle at Lovinlivinvegan, who has been posting about portabella steaks recently, and she pretty much convinced me it was high time to bring on some 'shrooms. She linked to Happy Herbivore's recipe, which includes a nice gravy.  I followed the recipe faithfully, except that I upped the sherry and reduced the balsamic in the gravy, and thickened it with a little arrowroot powder.

After I simmered the mushroom steaks, I decided to go a step further and stuff them with some of Happy Herbivore's vegan feta combined with a savory bread stuffing.
Happy Herbivore's Fat-free Vegan Feta

I really liked the feta recipe and that she included white miso in it. I added a little umeboshi vinegar to the mix. I'll definitely make this again, but next time I'm going to try it with a little less red wine vinegar and more lemon juice.

For the stuffing, I sauteed some onion, garlic, and celery; tossed in some sprouted grain bread crumbs and herbs, salt and pepper and a bit of veggie broth. I should have added walnuts and parsley, but I forgot.

After they were stuffed, I baked them in the oven for about 20 minutes at 375 F, until the tops started to brown and turn golden. 
   Stuffed Portobellos pre-baking

Thanks to both Michelle and HH for the recipes and inspiration! 

Now, on to the squash. I got three mini hubbards out of the garden this year...that's it! Three. Pitiful. There were lots of squash on the vine, and I hand pollinated them just to make sure, but the squash just kept fading as if they hadn't been pollinated. I've grown squash and the like many times and done the hand pollinating, so not sure what went wrong. Any ideas? 

But, I'm moving off topic...I talk about the hubbards because that's what I used to make some spicy, garlicky, caramelized, oven-roasted squash.

I drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the squash chunks and sprinkled it liberally with red pepper flakes and some coconut palm sugar (wanted to use maple syrup, but I was out). Then, I baked the squash at 375 F for about 20-30 minutes. The squash chunks kind of look like avocado, because they  were slightly immature and still a little green under the skin. 

About 10 minutes before I took them out of the oven, I poured a mixture of soy sauce and water blended with about 8 cloves of garlic over the top. The result was some spicy, garlicky, caramelized squash.

Last but not least, hats off to all you Vegan MoFoers out there! I participated in '09 and in 2010, but I'm sitting this one out. That's partly because I didn't think I'd have the energy or time to blog that much this year, but mostly because in years past, I was so busy doing my own posts that I didn't have anywhere near as much time as I would have liked to read and explore other blogs. So this year, I'm cheering from the sidelines and reading to my heart's content.

Talk to you soon, and Happy October everybody!
Rose Tobin
Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Marie Tobin

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hey, It's Still Summer Chili Dog

I think I may have been cyber bullied into doing this post. (j/k Shen!). But, I know I wasn't the only one who was moved to make chili after seeing Shen's appetizing batch last weekend. (Just in case you don't already know, that's Shen of Shenandoah Vegan fame, aka SV)  Her chili looked so beany and thick and delicious, I had to make a batch the following day. I mentioned this to SV, and at her subsequent request, here are some pics.

We've been eating it since last Monday, so by today, I only had a bit left...just enough for a chili dog. I also thought this was a good time to try out the new Field Roast Frankfurters that have been in my freezer for about a month. I guess they sell them at the baseball park here, which I have to say is cool.

Here's one frying up in a pan:

As far as the frankfurers go, they seemed drier and grainier to me than other veggie dogs; the texture is similar to their veggie sausages. The flavor is distinct and savory; overall, I liked the taste and the texture. I don't buy veggie dogs too often, only when I get a hankering. I think I'd buy these again, but maybe not to the exclusion of the occasional Smart Dog.

On to the chili...Shen, per your request, this one's for you:

Shen's batch was far more delicious-looking than mine; hers was the quintessential bowl of chili. I didn't have Crystal's chili mix, but I did base mine off the what I could gather Shen put in.  It had onions, garlic, and pepper (anaheim, sweet banana, and poblano) sauteed with chili flakes, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and ground coriander,  tons of par-cooked beans and a large can of tomatoes tossed in with salt and pepper, cooked for several hours. Chili always tastes better the next day, and the day after, and the day after that...

On a side note, I tried some spiralized oven potatoes. I used the largest blade on the sprializer and I was hoping they'd come out like curly fries, but no go. Even the largest blade is too thin; they were more like hash browns--not bad, just not like fries.

Summer is still in full swing around here, but this weekend will probably be the last blast of it. Both the chili and the chili dog really hit the spot: spicy, tasty food that goes great with beer. Thanks for the inspiration Shen!  

Speaking of beer, I love seeing signs like this:

Yes, please!!

Rose Tobin
Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Marie Tobin

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gone Spiral

summer squash, daikon and carrot noodles with cinnamon basil pesto

Holee molee, this post has been a long time getting off the ground. It's been sitting in my publish Q since last Sunday...better late than never, I guess. 

Last Saturday, when I received my latest kitchen acquisition, I couldn't wait to try it out:  

I'm a big believer in the saying that the best tool in the kitchen is your hands but, I'd be hard pressed to do this to such effect with my bare hands: 

spiralized veggies 

I've been wanting one of these for a while, and in looking around for which kind to buy I read several product reviews. Some spiralizers were said to produce a lot of waste, leaving a lot of the vegetable unspiralized after it was all over. Others worked on soft veggies like zucchini but didn't do so well with hard ones like carrots and beets. This one got good reviews on both those counts. 

It has a simple design, which is an attractive characteristic in a gadget if you ask me. It may seem a little pricey for what it is, but it works well, is easy to use, and easy to clean. I feel like it's worth the money, provided it's something you'll use with some frequency. It's funny, you read such wildly different reviews; some people hated this product, others loved it. In the end, everyone has to decide for themselves. 

I know a lot of you have spiralizers: any tips or tricks or things you especially like to use them for? There's a picture in the instruction booklet of potato curls...(I'm thinking curly fries). 

For my first run, I decided keep it tame and make some veggie noodles to toss with pesto.

Speaking of kitchen gadgets, I don't know whether a pestle and mortar qualifies as one or not, but either way, I don't have one.  A shameful state of affairs really, so I usually make pesto by chopping it up really fine, tossing it into a bowl and stirring in a tablespoon or two of oil at the very end.  I used cinnamon basil for this batch--the leaves are less spongy than sweet basil and it has a subtle cinnamon scent and taste. It's great used in desserts and produces pretty purple flowers.

In other new products, I ran across these tofu-based dips:

We tried the curry flavor, which was reminded me of tofu "egg" salad, but, I'm not sure I'll buy it again. They have a few other flavors, has anyone seen or tried any of them? 

We spent most of the weekend lazing around in the garden, which gave way to making pickled nasturtium seeds.  I have lots of them in the garden and it was easy to gather a little jar full of fresh green seeds. It's an interesting idea from one of my fav kitchen books called The Magic of Herbs; they're supposed to be a similar to capers when they're done, which makes sense. They won't be ready for another six weeks, and I'll post more about them then if they turn out well. 

green nasturtium seeds

And finally, please ignore my gnarly knuckle, but here's a cute little ring made from a blade of grass, a clover, and some teeny yellow flowers. It actually stayed on most of the day; I was quite chuffed about it:

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