Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mmm Chocolate

Once a year I make like 100 chocolate truffles. I spend an entire day on them and make them with different flavored booze and roll them in fancy toppings. They make great holiday gifts for people who kinda already have everything (aka parents and other adult relatives) and people you have no idea how to shop for.

My truffles, are of course, vegan. I use this recipe which works so well that every non-vegan in your life will be pleased with the results. In fact, an omnivore foodie friend of mine who is into candy making actually traded in her truffle recipe for this vegan version several years ago because she was so much happier with the flavor and texture of these truffles than any other recipe she'd ever tried.

Here's a picture of my creations:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Spicy Lemongrass Chicken and Broccoli

Adapted from "Simple, Tasty Vietnamese Cooking" in Food & Wine Magazine, Oct 2007

2 T soy sauce
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 T curry powder
2 1/2 T sugar
1 package soy chicken, diced (I used Morningstar Farms soy chicken strips)
3 T water
2 lemongrass stalks, minced
1 shallot, sliced
3 chilies, seeded and minced
2 cups broccoli florets, steamed to tender crisp texture
1 scallion, finely sliced
cooking spray

In a small bowl whisk together the soy sauce, garlic, curry and 1/2 Tbs sugar. Then add the soy chicken to the sauce and toss to coat.

In a small pan mix the rest of the sugar with 1 Tbs of water and cook over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Cook until a deep amber caramel forms. Rmove from heat and stir in the rest of the water. Set this mixture aside in a bowl.

Heat a wok over high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add the lemongrass, shallot, and chilies. Stirfry for about a minute. Add the chicken (with the marinade), broccoli and caramel mixture to the wok and cook until heated through.

Top the dish with the sliced scallions and serve over steamed basmati rice or rice noodles.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

So warm up with a steaming bowl of soup. Soup is one of my favorite winter meals. Here are a few I've tried lately and liked:

Rosemary Cauliflower Soup by La Tartine Gourmande

The great thing about this soup was that it was really rich and creamy without being heavy and filling. It's perfect comfort food without the calories. I did find the original recipe somewhat lacking in flavor so you'll want to raid your spice cabinet for additional flavor. I added garlic salt, onion powder, coriander and cumin.

Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Onions and Apples from Spa Flyer

This recipe had the perfect flavor profile. The butternut squash, onions and apples were ideal compliments to each other. We ended up using vanilla (soy) yogurt for garnish and found the slightly sweet vanilla flavor actually enhanced the flavor of the soup greatly.

Heirloom Tomato Soup by Two Yolks

It's tough to imagine why any one would ever eat soup from a can with recipes this simple and delicious around. This soup derives it's "creamy" consistency from rice. It was a great excuse to pull out our immersion blender so we can feel like Food Network cooks. We served this light soup with some roasted potatoes seasoned with fresh dill and topped with a vegan mayo/horseradish dip.

Chorizo and lentil soup
by Seven Spoons

Who says you need veg recipes to make a vegetarian meal? We substituted vegetable stock, soy sausage and soy Parmesan for the chicken stock, sausage and Parmesan this soup recipe called for. The variety of ingredients made for a rich hearty flavor.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ode to Eggplant

Whether you're looking for a quickie or a long romantic evening with Eggplant it's happy to accommodate. I can't say enough good things about this versatile and underrated veggie so here are a couple of things I've done with it lately that were delicious.

Inspired by Jaden's Steamy Kitchen, I halved some baby eggplants, brushed them with olive oil and roasted them at 375 F for 10 minutes. Then I put them under the broiler (set to high) for a couple of more minutes. I topped them with jarred Whole Foods brand artichoke bruschetta and fresh julienned basil. We had a quick tasty meal in less than fifteen minutes and it was colorful and well-presented to boot!

We also tried out Mario Batali's Eggplant Caponata recipe. This exotic rendition of caponata called for cinnamon and cocoa powder! The results were spicy, unique, and flavorful with just a hint of sweetness.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Thanksgiving Not-Vegan Style

We spent actual Thanksgiving at my parents' house. My mother shared the kitchen with me so we were able to make a few things for ourselves. They really made a special effort to offer food we could eat. This was, of course, appreciated. Actually, there was a lot more vegan food than Matt and I could ever have eaten between the two of us any way. The salad alone was so good I didn't really need anything else. I love a great salad!

"I've Died and Gone to Heaven" Salad with toasted almond slivers, olives, spinach, cucumbers, peppers, red onions, carrots and I forget what else. Yum!

The omnivore spread

Cherry and Clove Spiced Cranberries prepared by your's truly

Baked apples filled with stuffing that my mom made for me and Matt

French Vanilla Pumpkin Pie with a Ginger Praline Crust that I made for the family

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Thanksgiving Vegan Style

Usually we have a giant dinner party at our house for Thanksgiving. We cook up a huge vegan feast and all of our (mostly vegetarian) friends come over and we stuff ourselves and get drunk and have a terrific time. This year our presence was, well, demanded at my parents' house so we had to have our annual Thanksgiving dinner party early. It was a great time, albeit a bit hectic. The power company has a habit of fucking with our electricity around this time of year and we had a 13 hour outage that started as soon as I began cutting veggies for our meal the night before and lasted until about 2 hours before our guests arrived. As a result, we had to borrow a friend's kitchen in order to make this dinner happen. This was tough since the friend is a bachelor and has a kitchen you'd imagine a bachelor would have. It's not just ill-equipped, it's small and sort of in the process of being rehabbed. We felt like we were trapped in some kind of horrible Top Chef challenge.

"Tonight on Top Chef the chefs are working in teams of two to prepare a dinner party for 12. They have 6 hours, no electricity and 8 square feet of space, stay tuned for the dramatic event."

The Menu:
- A Salad of Winter Greens with Roasted Beets, Crushed Hazelnuts and a Pomegranate Balsamic Reduction with White Truffle Oil (adapted from the Millenium Cookbook)
- Spinach Garlic and Chickpea Soup
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes (made by friends, don't have the recipe details)
- Cherry and Clove Spiced Cranberries
- Homemade Chestnut Stuffing (made by friends, don't have the recipe details)
- Soy and Seitan "Turkey" with mushroom gravy
- French Vanilla Pumpkin Pie with a Ginger Praline Crust
- Apple Crisp

I am not going to try to convince any omnivores reading this entry that vegan turkey is similar or comparable to real turkey. I've been a vegan since I was a kid so I wouldn't really have any basis for comparison any way. It's a good substitute if you don't eat meat and it is tasty but meat has just never appealed to me so a vegan version of it doesn't thrill me like an amazing salad or delectable pie. We make it out of tradition but I am not trying to sell anyone on the idea of it.

This year was the first year I ever made cranberries from scratch. I don't know what took me so long. The cherries and cloves with the cranberries were amazing!!! Matt wanted to eat it all himself. I doubled the sugar that the recipe I linked called for. That is my only suggested alteration, other than maybe doubling this recipe since it's really really good.

About the pie, I am going to level with you here, I am not a huge fan of pumpkin pie. It's always been my least favorite really. This changed when I happened upon this particular pumpkin pie recipe last year though. The original recipe came from Fine Cooking Magazine and was written by Abigail Johnson Dodge. Here is my vegan version though:

Pie Crust
1-1/4 C flour
1/2 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c soy margarine
2 Tbs cold vegetable shortening
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs cold water

1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 Tbs soy margarine
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh ginger

1-2/3 c canned pumpkin puree
2/3 c dark brown sugar
4 tsp flour
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp salt
6 Tbs cornstarch
3 Tbs soy milk
1 cup French Vanilla Silk Non-Dairy Creamer
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine flour sugar and salt in a food processor, pulsing to combine. Add the bugger and shortening, pulsing until crumbs form. Tyrn the dough onto a work surface and shape into a disk. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to one day.

Roll the dough out and line a 9" pie pan with it. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes then bake it in the oven at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes or until the crust's edge is golden brown.

For the praline: In a bowl mix the sugar, soy butter and fresh ginger until well blended. Cumble the praline evenly over the bottom. Bake until the sides of the crust are golden and the praline is bubbling -- about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees F.

For the filling: In a bowl, whisk the pumpkin, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, and salt until smooth. Add the remaining filling ingredients and whisk until blended. When the praline is hardened but still warm pour the filling into the crust.

Bake for about 45 minutes and then cool on a rack. Refrigerate over night before serving.

This is what a vegan Thanksgiving platter looks like

Our friends gathered around our dining room table

Fancy Salad