Friday, February 26, 2010

Soul to the Max

As the new Soul Food banner highlights the beauty of the black-eyed pea, I here (again) highlight its deliciousness:

Chipotle Black-Eyed Peas with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Collards from Jae Steele's fabulous cookbook, Get It Ripe.

And though it's been rained out, the enVeg Veguary potluck today was to celebrate Soul Food, too! We're on a roll here, folks. I'll just eat all these biscuits and gravy myself.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Will Dunkin do dairy-free?!

After being tipped off by the February VegNewsletter, I decided to enter Double D-Nut's Create Dunkin's Next Donut contest, in hopes that I might someday be able to eat a donut again without going all the way to Portland! Here's my entry:

I call it "Chocolate Extra-vegan-za": chocolate cake donut, chocolate frosting, Oreo crumbles on top. The description to accompany reads: "My parents have been drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee every morning for as long as I can remember. I used to love to tag along on days off from school for the special treat of a fudgy cake donut, but when I became a vegan, I could no longer allow myself to indulge because of the eggs and milk included in the recipe. My dream donut would look and taste just like a chocolate cake donut, only vegan-friendly too!"

If I could just get a dozen of those right now...can you tell I'm craving sugar a lil' bit? Still going strong, though. No sugar since two Mondays ago. You knowwwww.

Anyway, the more vegan entries there are, the more likely it is that one will actually become a reality! Not to mention you can win $12,000. So go make dreams come true, y'all.

Monday, February 22, 2010

One loaf, three ways.

The mess of a dish pictured above was actually very tasty! A vegan, sugar- and gluten-free take on spaghetti and meatballs, this is Dish #2 in a series of three based on a variation of this lentil loaf recipe from a new blog inspiration, SmarterFitter. My alterations:

-Used 1 1/2 cups cooked rice-and-bean pilaf and 1/2 cup split peas
-Omitted celery and used a whole cup of onions
-Replaced soy sauce with Bragg's Liquid Aminos
-Omitted caraway seeds

First, formed burger-like patties out of the stuff and fried 'em up in coconut oil. Ate with mustard and a side of garlicky kale. Tasted great, but didn't fill me up for very long. The next day, shaped it into little meatball-like spheres and again fried in coconut oil until browned. With quinoa spaghetti noodles, homemade tomato sauce and kale, these suckers added worlds of flavor to a very filling dinner.

Today, I think I'm going to finish this batch of lentil-y, fennel-y yum by actually following the original directions and smothering the baked loaf with cashew gravy. This was a great time-saver! After the initial prep, it's been available for use in whatever I dream up. I might use less celery and fennel seeds next time, in favor of some dried basil and parsley.

My momma and step-papa visited this weekend, which means the past couple days were an all-out culinary tour of Gainesville - not too much home-cookin' going on! But wow, do I love the food in this town. The Jones for a premium local lunch was my personal high point.

I'm on my eighth day of the no-sugar cleanse and feeling pretty strong. I hope to find time this week to experiment with Stevia-sweetened treats. I will, of course, report back.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On a cold night, what do you crave? SOUP!

And that's a lot of what I've been eating the past coupla days. In an attempt to cleanse myself of bad bacteria, I'm taking a break from sugar. This hearty Proven├žal soup, paired with a movie on the couch with the roomies, adequately distracted me from any dessert cravings. Success!

Yellow Split Pea Soup
serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 bay leaf
2 cups dried yellow split peas, rinsed
5 cups water
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Saute the mirepoix with the bay leaf in olive oil until slightly softened. Add split peas, water and almond milk, then sprinkle with salt and Herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to simmer until potatoes can be pierced with a fork. Taste and adjust your seasonings.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Food is love.

Tonight, I'm excited to report that I have cooked with a fake meat product and really enjoyed it. They often kinda skeev me out, but I remembered a recommendation of the Gardein Chik'n Scallopini I found over on Vegan Pandamonium and decided to employ it in my rendition of Arroz sin Pollo.

So tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and that's usually perceived as a day on which lovers show their love extra-a-lot. Boyfriend and I, for the past couple years, haven't really made special plans, but it might appear as if we've been celebrating something for the past couple days, what with the home-cooked dinners and ample dark chocolate we've been indulging in.

We'll just call it our own little Carnival! (That being said, although there is a party going on at a friend's house tonight, we'll be watching M. Hulot's Holiday on the couch. Haha!) This dish was festive for the occasion (of Valentine's Day? of Mardi Gras? of the CHINESE NEW YEAR?) and soulful in a Cuban kinda way. I'd recommend it for any dinner at home with a loved one.

Arroz sin Pollo
serves 2 very hungry party animals

3 tablespoons Earth Balance
3/4 cup uncooked long-grained brown rice
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon oregano
2 Gardein Chik'n Scallopini cutlets, chopped
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 15-oz. can of peas
1/2 to 1 full 4-oz. can of green chilies (whatever level of spiciness you prefer)

Saute the onion in 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance in a cast iron skillet while the rice and the other tablespoon of Earth Balance simmers. To the softened onion, add the chopped tomato and tomato paste. Add the oregano, the chik'n pieces and the lime juice, cooking that mixture for 6-7 minutes and stirring occasionally.

Add the cooked rice to the chik'n mixture, along with the peas and green chilies. Flatten the top with your spoon/spatula to let the bottom rice get crispy. Add s&p to your taste.

We followed this delicious dish with chocolate-covered sweet plantains and vegan sour cream. A not-so-well-disguised Valentine's Eve dinner! Maybe you can test this on the designated holiday tomorrow...let me know how that goes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Celeb Inspiration: The Barefoot Contessa

Ina Garten, elegantly known otherwise as the Barefoot Contessa, was my Mimi's favorite Food Network chef. I think she liked her best because Ina is more than a cook - she's an entertainer. With all her experience in catering, she really has a way with selecting the right foods for any occasion, and presenting them beautifully.

All three of my grandma's Barefoot Contessa cookbooks are now in my hands. Though almost none of her recipes are vegan, they provide plenty of culinary inspiration anyway. Last night, I felt like using this adorable little fennel bulb freshly pulled from a Gainesville farm that my roommates visited this week. Having seldom worked with fennel before, I looked to Ina for direction. Found her recipe for Potato-Fennel Gratin and decided I haaaaad to veganize it! Here is the VERY successful result...

Potato-Fennel Gratin
serves 5 (she says it serves 10, but we were damn hungry!)

1 small bulb fennel w/ stalks
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Earth Balance
6 small potatoes, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
2 cups water
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon salt
Panko bread crumbs for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Ina says to chop off the fennel stalks, but I included them with a sprinkling of the leaves too to make up for only having one bulb instead of two. Anyway, throw the fennel and onion into a skillet with the olive oil and EB, sauteing until soft.

Meanwhile, saute the garlic in a sauce pan with a little more olive oil, just until fragrant. Whisk the flour into the 2 cups water. Add the onion powder, flour-water mixture, nooch, tahini and salt and whisk until thoroughly combined. Allow it to bubble and thicken.

Toss the sliced potatoes with the faux Gruyere, then mix in the fennel-onion saute. Pour it all into a baking dish, top with Panko and throw it in the oven for 1 hour. Allow it to set for around 15 minutes for optimum flavor-melding.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Everything is better roasted.

This is the conclusion I have reached regarding vegetables of all kinds; the test subjects tonight were beets and brussel sprouts. I have the house to myself this evening and it is mighty cold in here, so I opted for a quick prep and a roasty toasty finish that I could relish before crawling under my electric blanket for some hardcore reading and sleeping. (I would hibernate wrapped up in this thing if I could.)

Anyway, this dish hit the spot! I'm off to immerse myself in Assata, which I highly recommend, by the way.

Roasted Beets and Brussel Sprouts with a Mustard Glaze
serves 3 (unless eaten as a side - then 5!)

16-18 brussel sprouts, halved
3 beets, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 orange's juice
2 teaspoons agave nectar
olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sprouts and beets in a large bowl with all ingredients except walnuts. Spread everything on a baking sheet, brussel sprouts cut side down. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. In the last 5, pull out the sheet and sprinkle on the walnuts.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Finally, ICE CREAM!

Because the Cheetah House hasn't gone grocery shopping in well over two weeks, it's super slim pickings right now. We finally made it over to Ward's today, but last night was another adventure in picking through the pantry, trying to cobble together something delicious. Thankfully, everything necessary for a homemade batch of ice cream was present!

Butter Pecan Ice Cream
an adaptation from The Vegan Scoop, makes 1 quart

1 1/2 cups coconut milk (1 normal-sized can)
1 1/2 cups soy or almond milk
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
3 tablespoons Earth Balance
1 cup evaporated cane juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Measure out a 1/4 cup of the non-dairy milk and whisk in the arrowroot powder. Set it aside.

In a pot that's not Teflon, whisk the coconut milk and remaining soy or almond milk together with the butter and sugar. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to boiling point. Remove from the heat, whisk in the arrowroot mixture (should immediately begin to thicken) and then the vanilla.

Allow it to cool until you can put it safely in the fridge. Leave it there, covered, for 2 to 3 hours. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions, adding the pecans in the last few minutes of freezing.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy February!

January went by so slowly for me...certainly in a good way, I just can't believe I've only been posting on this thing for one month! But onto month TWO, y'all.

I thought I was having a bit of chef's block, as our pantry is rather bare at the moment. But after taking a thorough inventory, I realized I had almost everything I needed to make the incredible Open-Faced BBQ Tempeh Sandwich with coleslaw from Vegan Soul Kitchen! Here is my coleslaw recipe and a variation on the BBQ tempeh.

Open-Faced BBQ Tempeh Sandwich with Creamy Coleslaw
serves 5

1/2 a medium head of cabbage, chopped
1 big carrot, shredded
5 radishes, chopped
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
5 heaping tablespoons Veganaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

[BBQ Tempeh]
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1/4 water
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped with some sauce
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 packets powdered Stevia
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 pound tempeh cut into 1/2-inch fingers

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk all ingredients except tempeh in a large baking dish. Add the tempeh and coat it with the marinade. Let sit for around 15 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for 15-17 minutes.