Saturday, June 30, 2007


Matt and I had sundried tomato and basil calzones for dinner. The recipe was in the Vegetarian Times cookbook and calzone recipes are easy to come by so I'll just share a few pics:

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bulgur Stuffed Veggies

These colorful stuffed veggies with a moist, savory, bulgur filling offer a punch of sweet-tart goodness with currants.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vegan Gourmet

I have a bit of an inferiority complex about my limitations as a cook. I know most cooks look down on vegan cooking and imagine it is boring and un-fancy. Although I know this is untrue, I love to read fancy gourmet cooking magazines and turn their recipes vegan just to show it can be done and that it can turn out well.

Since I adore Thai food, this Hollywood Thai Beef Salad recipe seemed an ideal candidate for veganization. I skipped the fish sauce and used Morningstar Farms steak strips instead of steak. I also added in some diced celery.

The recipe made for a light tasting but filling meal. The refreshing combination of citrus, mint and cilantro made this a perfect summertime dinner.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Breakfast For Dinner

When faced with a brunch menu my dilemma is always the same -- sweet or savory? Pancakes or Tofu Scramble? French Toast or a Vegan BLT? Today Matt and I had both. We've been wildly out of control with our sleep habits since he is on break from school. We've been going to bed at sunrise and getting up at 2pm. As a result meal times have kind of become a joke and we never know what meal we are eating or what time we should be eating.

We spent our Sunday preparing a delectable feast of club sandwich style lettuce wraps and vanilla scented "fronch" toast with maple syrup and loads of fresh fruit. I guess this was our brunch which we ate around 10pm but we began working on the feast around 4pm.

First of all, I have heard that Challah bread makes the most spectacular French toast so I began my day by making a couple of loaves of vegan Challah from scratch using a recipe I found online.

The Challah took a long time to make so while we waited for it we made club sandwich inspired lettuce wraps. To make the wraps we sliced the following into very skinny strips:
- cucumber
- tomatoes
- cubanelle pepper
- shallots
- celery

We also grated some baby carrots and fried some Smart brand veggie bacon in a pan. To assemble our wraps we placed a leaf of red leaf lettuce on a plate and put some Vegannaise (vegan mayo) on the edges of the leaf. Then we filled the leaf with our cut up veggies, a veggie bacon strip and a slice of Tofurky brand vegan turkey slice. (We applied a little additional vegan mayo to the "turkey" slices and then rolled them up and stuck them on top of the bacon and veggies.)

Then we rolled the leaf up and the mayo on the edges helped to keep the lettuce wraps closed up.

In retrospect, iceberg lettuce might have been easier to work with since it has bigger leaves. A lot of our wraps did not come out as pretty as the ones in the picture but they all came out completely delicious -- crunchy, light, crisp, savory, refreshing, and a little salty.

By the time we finished assembling our wraps, it was time to turn our attention to our Challah bread which was ready to be turned into French toast. We used the recipe in the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook but we used vanilla flavored soy creamer instead of the plain kind that the recipe called for. We served our French toast with maple syrup and fresh bananas, blueberries and raspberries.

The French toast was completely amazing. I mean, imagine making French toast out of a loaf of fresh bread that you made from scratch and just pulled out of the oven. The French toast had a faint vanilla aroma and a nice slighty crisp and slightly salty toasty exterior with a melt-in-you-mouth, soft, doughy, yeasty interior. The French toast coupled with the sweet and tart berries and bananas and the sweet maple syrup made for a mouthful that delights every tastebud.

The whole meal was so worth the trouble and satisfying beyond words. I am still sort of on cloud nine from it. If you have a Sunday to waste, this is definitely a good project for it.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sandwiches, Stir Frys, Etc.

The new gadgets from our recent Bed Bath and Beyond shopping spree having been getting lots of use. I made another batch of Eggplant "pasta" using our new Y-peeler with micro-teeth and look how noodle-like my eggplant turned out.

That is all eggplant and homemade sauce. Not a carb in sight, in case you are trying to cut back on that kind of thing.

We've been a little off schedule with cooking since we had visiting relatives and a ton of leftovers from a catered party so we only made a few other things during the past week.

Club sandwiches with toasted whole wheat, baby spinach, tomato and celery slices, vegan mayo, veggie bacon and veggie turkey slices.

Ginger Mango Tofu with steamed asparagus from the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook.

I actually thought this recipe could have been better. The original recipe calls for pressing, marinating and baking the tofu but this only got us soggy soft tofu and unless you like fairly raw tofu -- this is not the best thing. I ended up sticking the tofu in a pan to fry after the fact to improve its texture but if I were going to do this recipe again I would recommend that after you press the tofu, you slice the tofu and fry it in a pan with a bit of oil until golden brown and then go ahead with the marination and baking. The marinade the recipe involves is very good but rather time consuming to make.

Lastly, I adapted one of my favorite Thai style Veg Times recipes. The original recipe is nearly all eggplant, which is not Matt's favorite thing and calls for a lot of oil, which is not my favorite thing. We also had veggies in the refrigerator to use up so they got incorporated. Here's my version of the recipe:

2 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 baby eggplants, cubed into bite-sized chunks
1 medium-sized onion, diced
1 medium-sized red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 bunch asparagus
1 package flavored tofu*
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 Tbs. white vinegar
6 Tbs. dark soy sauce, such as tamari
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn

Add cooking spray to a wok or deep pan and heat the pan over high heat. Add the crushed red pepper and let it sizzle for about 10 seconds. Add the eggplant and cook it for a minute or two. Then add the onions, bell pepper, asparagus, tofu and garlic. Cook until all the vegetables are soft and then add the vinegar and soy sauce. Sprinkle with sugar and toss for a few minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in the basil to wilt it. You can serve over rice noodles or rice if you like although it is perfectly good without that.

*The Asian market near our house sells "flavored tofu" in plastic pouches in a refrigerated case. It is kind of similar to vegetarian chicken. You can use any product that is similar -- seitan would also work.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Long Time No Post

I've been terribly neglectful on the food blogging front but Matt and I have been really busy and not cooking every day. My parents are coming to visit us from Florida and we have been trying to get our act together around the house. But enough about that, here's what we've been making:

Last week, I got some purple scallions. Aren't they pretty? I made a miso soup with them. Matt and I have been out for Japanese food a few times in the last two weeks and we've decided that we can no longer enjoy ordering miso soup in restaurants because it is like a bowl of pond water compared to the miso soup we make at home. If you love miso soup give this recipe a shot, you'll never view restaurant miso soup the same way again.

We've been doing a lot of cookbook cooking. We made Balsamic Glazed Mushrooms and Garlicky Greens with Tahini Dressing from Vegan With A Vengeance. Both recipes were really good although my pictures of them didn't turn out as nicely as I would have hoped.

We also tried out a few recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. We tried the Cappuccino cupcakes which were good but not amazing. If I were to make them again I think I'd skip the coffee flavored pastry cream filling in favor of something that had more of a flavor contrast to offer. We also made the Tiramisu cupcakes which were really good but if you are looking for a more true-to-the-original tiramisu experience this tiramisu recipe is the way to go.

Lastly, Matt and I had friends over on Friday and I made some really good chickpea bruschetta. I regret that I did not write down the exact proportions of my ingredients but I don't think this is the kind of recipe you really have to measure to get right.

6 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped (with their juice)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
balsamic vinegar to taste
olive oil to taste
salt to taste
a bunch of fresh chopped basil
a bunch of fresh chopped oregano

I combined all of the above in a bowl and stirred it up and then spooned the mixture onto a loaf of sliced toasted French bread that had been rubbed with garlic.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Hot Cash Injection

I could not decide what to title this blog entry. The updates have been sparse because I have not cooked much, yet a lot has happened in our culinary life. First of all our dishwasher broke. Matt and I hate doing dishes so this made us not cook very much for several days. Replacing a dishwasher should have been a snap but it turned into a huge ordeal that is not interesting enough to get into so let's just leave it at this -- it took longer than it should have to replace our dishwasher. The good news is our shiny new dishwasher is now in place. It is a fancy Energystar Kitchenaid dishwasher that does solid food disposal and has many special and glorious features but I do not remember what they all are. The dishwasher was pricey ($600) but it does a great job which is important since we cook a lot and do not enjoy washing dishes.

To celebrate the restoration of dishwashing in our house, Matt and I cooked up the contents of our crisper in a delicious stir fry. It had cabbage, broccoli, tofu and fresh basil from our yard. Speaking of the yard...

During this debacle Matt and I got a little charcoal grill! Matt and I live in the city in an adorable 19th century rowhouse with a really fancy private courtyard in the back. It has a koi pond and ivy covered privacy walls and our little organic container garden where we grow lots of fresh herbs and cherry tomatoes and strawberries and hot peppers. Last year our lovely little yard was overrun by motherfucking mosquitoes and we could not use it at all. This year we stuck a bunch of mosquito dunks in our pond and they've worked like gangbusters. Not a mosquito in sight. Why didn't any one tell us about these before? They rock. Anyway, this year we've actually been enjoying our lovely outdoor space and we got a grill so we could have friends over for cook outs. Last weekend we made kebabs, veggie hotdogs and asparagus. It was all super delicious. We got a marinade at Whole Foods that was pomegranate, pear and port flavored.

The spending did not stop there though. I finally got a copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and made their Sexy Lowfat Vanilla Cupcakes. They were really really good. I was impressed.

Not having entirely depleted our bank accounts, Matt and I went on a very long overdue shopping spree at Bed Bath and Beyond and equipped our kitchen with several items that either Alton Brown convinced us our lives were meaningless without or items that we'd been fantasizing about owning for months. Lest you think this $700 shopping spree was totally frivolous and indulgent, I should point out that this was actually an early birthday present for someone who might be turning twenty-ten in a couple of weeks. Someone who shall remain nameless...

The loot included:
- 5 qt Kitchenaid mixer
- reversible stovetop grill/griddle
- Cuisinart popcorn machine
- immersion blender (Alton, this thing better be good)
- new french press (my old one was falling apart)
- mortar and pestle
- a very expensive, sharp-enough-to-murder-a-pumpkin Japanese chef's knife
- fancy knife sharpener
- strainers with fine mesh in various sizes
- a Wok
- Y peeler, ice cream scoop with release lever and other assorted utensils
- Crazy about Cupcakes, a cupcake cookbook with great art and petit fours recipes (I am starting to obsess about petit fours these days). The book is mostly not vegan but I can adjust their recipes for my purposes.

About the popcorn machine; I LOVE LOVE LOVE popcorn. I probably eat it almost everyday. Sometimes more than once a day. I could live on popcorn. Fellow popcorn addict Karin insisted this popcorn maker was the best thing ever and that all other popcorn pales in comparison so how could I not buy it. I am a little troubled by the amount of oil required with this new machine though. I am not a fan of very oily popcorn.

Still not yet in the poor house, Matt and I turned our attention to Mom's. If you crossed co-op health food shopping with Nordstrom, it would be this place. We spent $80 on assorted exotic treats including some vegan marshmallow fluff, a ton of fancy jam, agave nectar, and some beautiful purple scallions. I had no idea scallions came in purple. We also got some organic lemons and raspberries and I made the most glorious lemonade of all time.

To make your own Fizzy Raspberry Lemonade you need:
- 8 oz sparkling mineral water (I recommend Poland Springs raspberry lime mineral water)
- The juice of one lemon
- 2 Tbs sweetener (sugar, agave nectar, whatever you like. I used Splenda because we are watching our figures and it dissolves in cold water)
- 2 Tbs crushed fresh raspberries

If you wanted an adult version of this most delicious beverage, Stoli Ras and a dash of raspberry schnapps would work nicely. Serve over ice -- with a silly straw if you like.

I know it seems that we've spent an outrageous amount of cash on our culinary life this week but to be fair we do not do this sort of thing often, the dishwasher was needed, the BB&B spree was for a big birthday and well... we love to cook.