Monthly Archives: October 2008

Pasta and Polenta

Tonight’s dinner was fantastic and garlicky, just the way I like it. I went with a gluten-free meal, in practice for when my celiac friend comes to visit over the No-Turkey Day holiday.

This is a wonderful corn and quinoa macaroni tossed with a very simple sauce of olive oil, crushed red pepper, basil, salt, pepper and garlic. The difference here was that I heated up the olive oil and tossed in five whole  but slightly crushed garlic cloves to give the oil flavor. After about a minute or two, I removed the garlic and set it aside. Then I added in one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of red pepper flakes, a few grinds of black pepper, and 4 cubes of basil that Trader Joe’s sells in their freezer section. Once those were mostly melted, I tossed in the cooked and drained pasta. The hot oil tends to give the pasta a wonderful texture that becomes almost slightly chewy. At the end of it all, I also chopped up the garlic i removed and added it back in. It was soft and mushy. If I had left it in while I tossed the pasta around, it may have become burned and bitter and that just plain old sucks, my friend.

Our  side dish tonight was equally simple although, I must admit, I had to start it early in the  day so that it would be nice and firm for baking in the oven.

You take one cup of corn meal, four cups of water, one teaspoon of salt and place them in a large pot over high heat. Stir often. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and continue stirring constantly for about five to ten minutes or until thickened. At the end, you add in your julienne sun-dried tomatoes and about one teaspoon of crushed rosemary. Pour into oiled 9X9 baking dish and refrigerate until firm, quite a few hours.

Later on, you cut the lump into triangles and don’t worry about accidentally removing tomatoes during cutting, it happens. When those tomatoes come into contact with hot oil, you’re in for a wonderful chewy sweet treat. Now, you take your triangles and you can bake them in a 400 oven for about 25-30 minutes or you can fry them in hot oil until browned on each side. I haven’t ever had much luck with frying polenta cakes, they usually turn into piles of mush with a little crispness here or there. If you think you can do it, go nuts. In fact, tell me your secret because I blow at it.

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Whole Lotta Cookin’

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for sticking around even though I haven’t posted in about three weeks. I got terribly ill and now I have something else wrong that is completely unrelated to the virus I had. Gads, what a sicky I am. I lie awake at night wondering what could be wrong with me and while that may make me a textbook hypochondriac, it doesn’t allay the fears I have that SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH ME. I find out tomorrow. I hope you’re excited, because I know I am. To the food…

This was an artichoke piccata-type thing. Since I obviously don’t eat any type of meat, I had to fill the gap with someting and that nice bag of frozen artichoke hearts from Trader Joe’s taking up space in my freezer fit quite nicely into this recipe. Next time, I will add more lemon juice. Basically this recipe consisted of white wine, capers, olive oil, said artichokes, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. I tossed in a little bit of flour to thicken the sauce then poured it over the cooked, drained, and NOT rinsed whole grain pasta. Delicious!

Next we have vegan risotto. Didn’t think you could make risotto vegan, did ya? It was the same pain in the butt it used to be when I made it with butter  and cheese, only this time, zero cholesterol but just as creamy.  Risotto gets its texture from being stirred continuously for thirty minutes. I used olive oil only as opposed to the usual concoction of butter and olive oil. I took one cup of risotto rice and sauteed it in the oil with four cloves of minced garlic for about five minutes. Then it got hit with about 2/3 cup of white wine and when that started to soak in, I had four cups of veggie broth/stock waiting on the warmer. Don’t forget to keep your heat as low as possible on the rice. You only need to add as much stock to come to the top of the rice each time. Keep the stock warm so you don’t have to wait for the rice to come back to boiling after each addition. At the very end, I added in the salt and pepper, some julienne sun-dried tomatoes, and sliced shiitake mushrooms. You can feel free to experiment with your favorite vegetables here, or if you want to add minced onion at the beginning with the garlic, be my guest.

This was a batch of five-minute coconut fudge from my newly acquired book, My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky. This book is amazing. It is desserts only (if you didn’t quite get that from the title) and honestly, you can’t go wrong here folks. She’s an amazing cookbook writer.

When this pan was done cooling but not quite set up, I just grabbed a fork and started hacking away like the heroine in a remade zombie flick. My next project will be the cashew pear tart even though I don’t have a tart pan.

Here is my little stinker, Olivia, after her bath, holding my new cookbook. Altogether now…”awww….”

I have a confession to make. I’ve never really liked turkey, even before I stopped eating animals. When Thanksgiving dinner would roll around, I would fill up my plate hungrily with all the different side dishes that the women from our family make and bring. Oh, and did I mention the dessert table? We are not a skinny family and for the most part, we don’t mind. Every holiday has to have about fifteen different desserts with the obligatory pumpkin pie, my personal favorite. This year, all I could think about last week was how to veganize this so you couldn’t taste the tofu but so that it was still solid in the middle. My previous attempts at this have been disastrous but I think we have a winner here!

1 can pureed pumkin (not pumkin pie mix!)

3/4 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup pure maple syrup)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 package Mori-nu extra firm tofu, drained very well. Let sit on paper towels for a few minutes to remove any excess water. You don’t want extra moisture in this pie or it will stay mushy.

1 nine inch unbaked vegan pie shell. I bought Mrs. Smith’s because they had no animal products in them.

Blend pumpkin with tofu in blender or food processor. We’re going for a nice smooth texture here so you don’t want little chunks of tofu hanging around. If you can get this job done with your hand mixer, then go nuts. Add in the sugar and spices and blend very well. (At this point, if you want to add in a Tbs or two of cornstarch to kind of help the pie get firm, you can. I didn’t because I was worried about being able to taste it.) Pour into unbaked crust. Place tin foil around edges only of crust, otherwise they will burn to a crisp. Place pie in preheated 425 oven. After fifteen minutes, reduce heat to 350 then bake for one hour. Let cool completely, then place in refrigerator to firm up. Serve with this marvelous can of Soyatoo soy whipped cream, something else I thought I would never be able to experience again. The universe must really love me this year. Of course, if that were true then I would be able to find a job where I wasn’t enabling old drunk people to stay old and drunk. Ahem, anyways.

This was simply delicious. The center did not get as firm as I would have liked but at least it wasn’t raw eggs in there so eating a little bit of slightly mushy pumpkin was no big deal. I thought I would have to miss out on pumpkin pie this year, but alas, I do not. I win!

Halloween is this Friday so I will be back to post pictures of some food I’m making for my brother-in-law’s party. Good times!

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MoFo: Blueberry Pancakes

I had a whole thing where I was going to teach you how to make ‘flax eggs’ but i accidentally started taking pictures without my memory card in the camera and I lost the cord to get them from the camera to the computer and I’m too mechanically UNinclined to figure out how to get the pictures from the camera itself into the memory card. How exasperating,  I must say. So today you get a picture and a recipe. That’s it.

You can see the steam coming off them! They were so delicious and fluffy, the blueberries were so juicy and sweet…mmm…I may go make some again for my lunch today!

1 cup Bisquick Heart Smart baking mix (yes, it’s vegan!)

2/3 cup almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy beverage)

1 flax egg

3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I used frozen and even though the recipe on the box says wait for them to thaw, I did not)

I use my Magic Bullet to make my flax eggs because it has a nice and small cup attachment as opposed to the traditional size of a blender. You put one tablespoon of flax seeds in there with three tablespoons of water. Blend for about ten or fifteen seconds. Set aside while you assemble all the other ingredients. You want the ‘eggs’ to get somewhat gelatinous. (God, I hate that word. It just sounds gross, doesn’t it?) Once you’ve mixed together the baking mix and the milk, stir in the flax eggs. Then add the blueberries. Cook the way you would a regular pancake, waiting for bubbles to form before flipping.

This recipe made three medium-sized pancakes. Delicious!!

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Pasta With Veggies

Today’s entry will be short and sweet. Here is the pasta that I make all the time. It’s simple, delicious and has plenty of protein, and some other stuff my body needs to live. Here is the recipe:

8 oz whole grain protein fortified vegan(most pastas are already vegan) pasta, cooked and drained, not rinsed

1 can canellini beans

1/3 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tsp basil, minced

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1 small zucchini, peeled and diced

four medium sized roma tomatoes, diced

Heat oil in a high sided fry pan. Toss in zucchini and tomato. Let them sweat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and the beans, cook for one minute, then add in everything else. Stir until it’s all nicely melded together and hot.  Add  salt to your liking. I don’t like salt. It’s the biggest complaint about my cooking. I don’t notice that it’s not there because I never use it but not one person has had my cooking and NOT doused it with a generous helping of salt. I’m okay with it, though. I top my pasta with Parma! vegan parmesan cheese which to be honest, is a mixture of ground raw walnuts and nutritional yeast. It’s good though. Enjoy and see you tomorrow!

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The Best Lunch Ever

First up- Vegan MoFo! It stands for Vegan Month of Food and it was started by my future wife’s blog last year. No, I’m not gay, but if I were, I’d definitely pick a vegan chef. I missed out on last years Vegan MoFo in November but this year for the month of October it’s going to be all about the things I eat every day posted to this blog for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!!

You know it’s a good lunch day when your house smells like the most delicious curry and cinnamon that it makes your whole body melt with anticipation.

I get tired of making the same old pasta with beans and veggies combo, but I’m trying desperately to keep my nutrition at a high level so I don’t have to take supplements.

To be honest, vegan vitamins made me very sick. I sat them on my counter and for days wondered, “what is that awful smell?” because I hadn’t started taking them yet. Then I opened the bottle to take one and almost passed out from the rank stench of something that had died in there. My oldest daughter had come up the stairs from the basement at that very moment and said “Wow, that smells really gross. What are you cooking?” I told her it was the vitamins, not food. She told me that she could smell them even before she opened the basement door, that’s how potently smelly these things were. I took them out of the bottle and put them in two plastic bags, then into a plastic container hoping to hide that foul aroma, to no avail. Plus, they gave me the worst-ever after taste for hours without end.

So I’m on a quest to make sure that all my meals and snacks contain things that my body needs, as we all should be, really. These chickpea cutlets are packed with protein and super easy to make. The red lentil cauliflower curry has veggies and, well, lentils. I got the recipes out of Veganomicon and followed them almost exactly as the book said. I should note that the last time I made the cutlets, I didn’t have enough gluten and they turned out awful. Not bad tasting mind you, but having even one tablespoon less gluten than the recipe requires will screw up the texture. This time, I had plenty. These couldn’t be any easier, by the way, if I were standing in your kitchen making them for you.

Chickpea Cutlets (makes 4 cutlets)

1 cup cooked chickpeas (I used canned and froze what was left)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (i used 100% whole grain)

1/4 cup veggie broth or water

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated

1/2 tsp lemon zest (i didn’t have any, so I put in 1/4 tsp lemon juice)

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp dried sage

In a mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas until there are no more whole chickpeas left. Add in all the remaining ingredients and knead for about three minutes or until the gluten has formed strings. You’ll see what this means as you knead.

You can pan fry these, or you can bake them, which is what I did. Put your oven at 375. You divide the mixture into 4 parts then pick a piece and to form a cutlet. Knead in your hand for a few moments, then flatten and stretch each one into about a 4X6 inch cutlet shape. Repeat for the other three pieces.

Brush your baking sheet with olive oil. Place cutlets on sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip, then bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer. They should be a tiny bit browned.

I served mine with the “cheesy” sauce on page 214. I know they already have a mustard sauce on page 204 but i think they should call their “cheesy” sauce “mustard sauce part 2.” I know it’s super good for me because of the nooch but all i could taste was mustard. Luckily, I love mustard so it’s no big deal. I don’t need anything to taste like cheese. I couldn’t eat cheese that much anyway because of my tummy so it’s not like I miss it or anything. I’m going to try the OG mustard sauce next time. It has capers and I love capers. Rambling a bit there, sorry.

I served mine with Jasmine rice and the red-lentil cauliflower curry from page 186. My changes to that recipe were as follows: No coriander, I hate the stuff so I don’t buy it. No shallots or onions. Don’t like them either. If it’s a sauce, I’ll use shallots and If I happen to have a vidalia onion, I’ll use it. Not the case here. Also, I used already-cooked brownish looking lentils from Trader Joe’s. This means that I should have reduced the broth by half but my head was up my rear that day so I made more of a red lentil cauliflower curry soup. The stuff tasted just fabulous anyway, maybe because I love curry so much that it hurts me inside. (Or is that pain from having too much curry? No matter…)

I hope this post finds you all in good health and Happy New Year to all my Jewish friends! L’shanah tovah!(I hope I spelled that right or I may have just told someone to go lick a goat.)

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