Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vegan seafood strikes again!

My family had this tradition back in the day of eating brunch for Easter each year at Charlie's Crab, this fancyfancy place on Palm Beach island down south. For both my Mimi and me, the crab cakes were always the first thing we went for at the huge buffet - along with handfuls of the Easter-y candies decorating the table. So when I discovered a recipe for faux cakes from the infallible PPK, I HAD to make 'em. Now that Easter's drawing near again, knowing I won't be at home to have brunch with family, I decided this was the yummiest way to honor our tradition.

Tempeh Crab Cakes
a doubled adaptation of Isa Moscovitz's recipe, makes around 15 cakes

1 pound tempeh
2 cup water
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 bay leaves
6 tablespoons Veganaise
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 small red onion, diced
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 sheet crumbled nori
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper
1 1/2 c panko breadcrumbs, plus extra for dredging

For the cakes, here is Isa's method: crumble the tempeh into a small pan. Add the water, soy sauce, oil and bay leaf. The tempeh won’t be fully submerged, but that’s fine. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 12 to 15 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated. Stir once during boiling.

Transfer contents to a mixing bowl, remove bay leaf, and mash with a fork. Let cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to hasten the cooling process.

Once cooled, mix well with the remaining ingredients, then begin to heat some oil in a large skillet while you form the mixture into cakes. Fry until golden brown on both sides, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to soak up the excess oil, and serve with...

should make enough to cover yr cakes

6 tablespoons Veganaise
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Combine in a food processor and ladle over top. SO GOOD!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Know yr farmers!

On this cloudy Sunday, I was able to attend a tour of Sandhill Farm, a biodynamic operation just outside of Gainesville. Got to meet the man behind some of the beautiful, fresh vegetables I buy at the farmers market each Wednesday, sift some compost and take in the lush acre of land on which he manages to grow enough to feed 25 families invested in his weekly CSA.

It's always such a valuable experience simply to visit small, organic farms like Sandhill. Serves as an important reminder that your food is actually grown by other human beings, y'know? And I'm really looking forward to attending one of the neat workshops I learned they're holding in the coming months: herbal medicine, soap and bread-making lessons?! Count me in.

So I started off the morning with a simple, über-healthy and protein-rich breakfast to hold me over until after the farm visit - something I like to call...

Grainless Granola
serves 1, but can certainly be doubled or even quadrupled!

1/3 cup almonds
1/3 cup pecans or walnuts
a handful of shredded coconut
various dried or fresh fruit, to your taste
10-12 drops liquid stevia

Pulse the nuts in a food processor until they reach a chunky consistency, with few whole nuts remaining. Mix in a cereal bowl with coconut and fruits of your choice (today I used raisins), then either cover with non-dairy milk or dollop with yogurt. I've even tried it with coconut kefir. Just prepare it however you would normal granola! Because the almond milk and soy yogurt I use are unsweetened, I swirl in some stevia for sweetness, but you could use agave nectar or honey or whatever sweetener you have around with similar results.

Voila, guilt- and gluten-free granola! Yum.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring has officially sprung!

This is Olive, my bf's roommate's new lil' bunny. Idn't she the cutest thang?

I was thinking recently about how I really feel like it's important to celebrate the changing of the seasons, and harvest times, and other important earthly cycles. Conveniently, in this exceedingly busy part of the semester, the Spring Equinox fell this past Saturday! So I resolved to have a lovely little dîner de deux avec mon petit chou in honor of the occasion.

Inspiration this time? 4 Course Vegan! Their very springy, gourmet menu for the equinox was:

Yellow Split Pea Soup with
Pea Shoot Pesto and Citrus Crème Fraîche

Roasted Beet Salad with
Micro Arugula and Hazelnut Butter

Early Spring Vegetable Pastry with
Creamed Kale and Smoked Chile Puree

Flourless Chocolate Cake with
Meyer Lemon and Cocoa Butter Tuile

Incredible, non? Well, though my intention was to have four courses too, it was a little ambitious considering the school work I was putting off to celebrate at all! So we drank ginger juleps while I made my split pea soup and whipped up a raw cheesecake. The cheesecake was my first attempt at anything of its kind, and it turned out pretty darn good, but I'm gonna save that recipe until it's a little more refined.

Now that it's finally warming up in Gainesville, I'm looking forward to a picnic. That roasted beet salad will likely make an appearance! Have any of you rung in the season with something special?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Celeb Inspiration: Dead Prez

Yep, that's right, the radical rapper duo Dead Prez provided the spark for tonight's dinner! I was lucky enough to see 'em up close and personal at Harvest of Hope this past weekend, along with a ton of other sweet music (Dr. Dog! Mountain Goats!! Broken Social Scene!!!), and their performance was absolute purrfection. As soon as they came on, the sky opened up and it poured rain for the large part of the set, which definitely added to the intensity.

So anyway, they didn't play this song, but it's one of my favorites and upon listening, I think you'll hear where I first heard of the dish we made tonight:

Stic.man has been a vegan for 11 years! And, to my incredible delight, I also learned his wife wrote Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy, a cookbook that's been on my list for a while. So much inspiration!!

Okay, finally, here it is.

Doesn't it seem to say, "EAT ME!"?

Curry Falafel

serves 4

1 box Fantastic Falafel Mix
1 1/4 cups water
1 heaping teaspoon red curry paste
1/2 inch of canola oil in a large skillet

Stir up the mix with water and curry paste, let it sit for 10 minutes, then roll into little balls. Heat up the canola oil, then fry those little buggers up until browned and crispy on the outside. Transfer them to a plate with a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

We ate this EASY little creation on Chapati by Halie (my roommate's GF version of this that happens to sound like a perfume), schmeared with hummus, dappled with red onion and sprinkled with sprouts. DELISH!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ah, the comfort foods of home...

This visit to my hometown of Lake Worth has already been chock-full of delectable food, from last night's GF grilled vegetable pizzas to the palm cake sandwiches my momma and I wolfed down at Darbster's earlier today.

So what's next? An easily veganized rendition of the Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Tomato Basil Soup and a batch of GF imitation Red Lobster cheesy garlic biscuits!!! My mom had been raving about this soup since she had it at a dinner party over the winter holidays, and these biscuits have been on my list of things to make since my dear friend Morris teased me with a thoroughly non-vegan version he made a couple years ago.

Here's my take on 'em:

Red Lobster Cheese & Garlic Biscuits
makes about 14 biscuits

2 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit and Baking Mix
1/2 cup cold Earth Balance
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup shredded vegan cheddar (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Blend the baking mix and EB with an electric mixer until, according to the biscuit package directions, "it resembles a course meal." Add the almond milk and blend until combined. Fold in the shredded cheeze, garlic and herbs, then dump the dough onto a lightly GF-floured counter. Knead it a little, then roll out to whatever thickness you like your biscuits to be, as these don't really rise. Cut out biscuits with an upside-down mug and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

I failed to realize they weren't gonna puff up any, so mine may look a little flat, but MY, are they tasty! Plus you can eat four and not even feel puffy yourself. I can personally attest to this. ;)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner: An Occasionally Recurring Theme

One thing I've been avoiding that sometimes isn't commonly associated with sugar is gluten. Gluten actually has a glycemic index just as high as sugar, so it affects a person's blood glucose levels in a similar way. In other words, it feeds bad bacteria, allowing the bad to overpopulate and overpower the good bacteria.

Well, I love bread. And pasta. And oats. And when the pantry is bare, I have to do without. But lots of gluten-free alternatives to all of those things now exist, even in the Greenwise section at the Publix by my house! The limitation, instead of making me feel really deprived, has inspired a foray into cooking/baking with gluten-free flours and actually made me feel more energetic and less bogged down by heavy carbs.

Here's a clever twist on two items, one breakfast and one dinner, that I loved plenty independently, but now can't wait to combine again:

FAWAFFLES!!! Thanks for modeling, boyfriend.

Our Big Fat Greek Breakfast for Dinner
serves 8

1 cup red quinoa
1 cup barley
4 cups water
1 cucumber, diced
2 small tomatoes, diced
3 green onions, white and green parts chopped
1 large bunch parsley, chopped
1 lemon's juice
2 tablespoons olive oil

Rinse and then boil the two grains in water for 14-15 minutes, until most of the water is gone. Pour into a large bowl and allow to cool while prepping the vegetables and parsley. Once they've stopped steaming, toss the grains with the veggies, three-fourths of the parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. Put in the fridge to chill while you make the...

serves 4

1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
1 cup millet flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 t cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
reserved 1/4 bunch chopped parsley

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add water, stirring until it takes on a waffle batter consistency, then fold in the minced garlic and the rest of the parsley. Heat up your waffle maker and make according to its directions.

Scoop some tabbouleh on top of a waffle, then drench with tahini sauce! So good.