30 November 2006

Weird Fondue

For some weird reason, a couple of weeks ago, I made the "Vegan Lunch Box" Fondue recipe for my first go at the cookbook. It's weird because I don't care for cheesy things (except the artichoke dip at Green) and I had no idea what I was going to dip in it. It's also weird but more on the stupid side, that this recipe has been posted on her blog for months and I never had a desire to make it then, so why would it be the first thing I made with the book?! Weird. Anyway, I made this fondue and modified it a lot. I didn't take notes because I wasn't that thrilled in the first place. I know I added garlic and made it spicy, added more nutritional yeast and a few other things. Basically, I made it as-is from the book and it was too bland for me (and weird) so I doctored it. Let's just say this needs work. I can understand how a child would like this dip because it is creamy, simple and bland, but Ray grossed me out by saying (at the end of the "meal") that it reminded him of either cafeteria cheese or the cheese that pours out of those metal square boxes at gas stations. When he said that my whole opinion of the meal went downhill. I am willing to give this another go, just modified a lot more and possibly by having it not as thick. It was sort of dance-y and wiggly. It was a weird meal that I quickly threw together. I served it with way too old bread, some purple potatoes (aka smooshies), raw carrots and raw green bell peppers. It pretty much wasn't the best but the idea was good (yet at the last minute). Then, about an hour later I wasn't feeling so grossed out, so I ate half a pint of Turtle Trails. Then I was happy.

PS... Sorry for a crappy "disaster" post.
PPS... I don't have a fondue maker/set. This was made with a saucepot and consumed with a regular fork.

26 November 2006

Soup of the Gypsies

This is one of the best soups I have ever consumed in my whole life and where I got it from it's called Gypsy Soup, but I prefer to call it Soup of the Gypsies. Same difference. It is up there with Tofu Noodle Soup and Sloppy Lenties and VwaV Corn Chowder (my variation, anyway). By the way, tonight I made tofu noodle soup for the 9th time. Yes, I'm keeping a tally. I felt something weird coming on and decided to kick it early. Back to the Gypsies... I got this recipe from Kris who adapeted it from someone else. So that means I adapted an adaption of an adaption that most likely was already adapted. Anyway, this soup we all created (like the "telephone-game") by passing it on, has turned into something that is going into the routine. At least the fall-winter routine. I have made it three different ways, but with the same basics.

This is my version of the recipe. I hope you all like it. If you are going to modify, please at least keep the spices, it really is a nutritional party in a bowl.
Leslie's Soup of the Gypsies
~serves a lot (use a 6qt pot)~

2T (or less) olive oil
1 large onion, chopped small
3 stalks celery, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, diced small
1 large or 2 small yams, peeled and diced small
2t paprika
1t ground tumeric
1t basil, dried
1t sea salt
black pepper to taste
1/8-1/4t cinnamon, ground
1/8t cayenne pepper, ground
1 bay leaf
5-6 cups water
1 bullion cube or stock equiv.
1T tamari
2c chickpeas (or a 25oz can)
15oz can great northern beans (or white beans)
1/2 can diced tomatoes

My variations include: one time I didn't use northern beans, just a lot of chickpeas, the next time I also didn't use any tomato, which I prefer. The second time I made this I also used 3 purple potatoes which made the soup even more colorful along with a jewel yam and garnet yam, both locally grown at the co-op. My green bell pepper was also locally grown at an aquiantance's home.
Method: Heat olive oil in the soup pot over medium to high heat. Saute the onion, garlic, celery, green bell pepper and sweet potato (or equiv) for about 10 minutes, until semi-soft. Season with paprika, tumeric, basil, salt, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper and the bay leaf. Stir to blend and then add the water, bullion and tamari. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Add beans and tomatoes if using and simmer for another 10 minutes, uncovered, until all the veggies are tender. If they aren't close to being tender, keep the lid on for a bit longer. Remove the bay leaf and consume.
This soup makes the house smell amazing and it is even better the next day once the flavors have married. I highly recommend trying this very soon, it leaves lingering flavors that seem exotic, but are not (see simple ingredients). Enjoy!

20 November 2006

Amazing Snacks!

Featured above is a spread of soy ice cream, local granny smith apples and homemade creamy caramel sauce from Vive le Vegan. I made this once before with turbinado sugar and decided to have a go at it again, but with darker, muscovado sugar. Oh, yum. This had strong accents of molasses from the dark sugar. At first, I wanted to sweeten it with agave but decided to let it do it's thing, and I'm glad I did. This was wonderful, having apples, ice cream and caramel all in one. Plus, plenty of caramel sauce for apple dipping. I also topped it with Soyatoo whip, not pictured.

This was a nice, dark, creamy caramel sauce. And easy, hence the name.
I didn't know what to do with myself one day, it was late afternoon, I had only consumed a small amount of food that day and needed something substantial- fast. Good fats, protein, veggies and carbs (and more)... I pulled out two processed items (aka, pre-made, not homemade leftovers), crackers which are light, yet super crunchy and heavy duty at the same time. They are made with everything from quinoa to flax and sesame with a nice japanese-style-cracker-crunch. I also had some pita bread leftover from falafel delivery (yes! vegetarian delivery!) a few nights ago. I whipped up some creamy hummus from one of my favorite books, Vive le Vegan, peeled and chopped a few carrots and took raw cashews out of the freezer. I think it may have been between 5 and 10 minutes, this snack was complete. I ate so much hummus, I'd call it lunch.
It's been a while... I love ice cream pie. I love just taking pre-made whole wheat non-bake pie crust, and filling it with a food-processor-mixed blend of ice cream, nut butter (in this case cashew), sunspire chocolate chips, pecans, maple syrup, tons and tons of blueberries and a lot of love (and probably other things I'm forgetting and anything you want). I topped it with Ahlaska chocolate syrup and the Easy Caramel Sauce from Vive le Vegan. Oh, yum.

I usually eat most of this pie myself. This time was no exception. I could probably have 2. Notice how blue it is from all the blueberries... my favorite.

Warning, if you thought all of the above looked awesome (or not), check this stuff out...
...This creamy cashew dip is courtesy of Dreena Burton. I can't get over how quick, easy and awesome this dip is. I could go on and on about all I'd dip in it, but I just ate it with some local organic granny smith apples. This dip has 4 or 5 ingredients and is going to be featured in her upcoming third cookbook. I however, have a subscription to VegNews and within 24 hours of reading the recipe, this fabulous, creamy, healthy, addicting yet filling dip was created. The main ingredients consist of vanilla soy yogurt and cashew butter. Yep- killer. Go make it now. Go get the magazine. Seriously people, this is some intense, wonderful stuff she creates!

18 November 2006

The Best Stir-Fry I've Ever Made (Twice)

I randomly came up with my own spicy stir-fry the other night. It was quick and easy. The spices lingered the rest of the night (most likely the red curry paste) and the thought lingered in my head a few days later. I decided to make it again with the same spices, except the second time I made this I served it over quinoa. I can't decide which way I like better. They are both spicefully fabulous. It's the curry paste that ties it together. I get the Thai red curry paste kind, it's about 2 dollars and lasts for many many uses.

I recommend using firm or extra firm tofu, pressed well and marinated for as long as possible.
Leslie's Special New Stir-Fry
Serves 3 hungry people (probably 4)

5T tamari (or soy sauce)
2T rice vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1.5t red curry paste (this is the part that gives it spice and ties the recipe together)
*red curry paste ingredients: red chili, garlic, lemongrass, thai ginger, salt, onion, kaftir lime, coriander, pepper*
2t agave nectar
1t fresh ginger, grated, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1T olive oil (optional)

1/2c edamame
1c thin sliced bell peppers
1/4t red pepper flakes
14oz rice noodles
2-3 carrots, peeled, cut
1/2 small onion, cut
1t arrowroot
2 more cloves garlic, minced
10oz firm tofu cut into triangles

Method: In a container with a lid, combine marinade ingredients and place pressed and cut tofu in the container. Let sit for at least an hour, shaking or stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, fill a saucepot with water and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and add rice noodles. Soak for 10 minutes then rinse and drain with cold water. Set aside for later.

Heat a wok with olive oil and add stir-fry ingredients, minus the arrowroot. Cook on med-high for a few minutes and then add the tofu. Keep the marinade in the container and add the arrowroot, stirring to dissolve. Add arrowroot-marinade mix to the wok and heat until it is a thicker sauce and veggies are cooked and heated through. Serve over rice noodles or quinoa.

I like to mix up the sauce with the noodles on my plate, not before hand. Plus, I think it makes the presentation better and the noodles not soggy. The second time I made this I served it over quinoa. Eating this with quinoa made me 100 times fuller, faster (duh).

Edit to Add: I finally responded to all the comments in the post below.

15 November 2006

Whole Fennel, Cranberry Almond Bark & Coconut Chocolate Pudding

This is fennel. I always used to just pass it by in the produce section having no idea what it was like or knowing what on Earth to do with it, until the day I needed it for some nasty potato leek soup. As you know, that went to shit, and I still had a fennel bulb in the fridge. Surprisingly, I do like fennel, just not the first way I prepared it. I decided to make these and I like fennel now (or at least prepared a certain way). So here's a photo for all of you (in whole form) who have always passed it up like me. You can save the little hairs and dry them and use as dried herbs.

What you sort-of see above (sorry, this is around when I messed up my camera) is some Cranberry Almond Bark from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer. It only has dried cranberries, raw almonds, cocoa powder and maple syrup. All organic and all yum. They lasted in the fridge for about 10 days. They were easy to make and you don't need a double boiler or anything fancy. I already have variations lined up in my mind...
Above is some very wiggly chocolate coconut pudding from VwaV. This is nothing like I have ever made before, hence me using tofu for pudding all the time. I'd say this is more like a real pudding and my regular recipe is more like a mousse, so it is unfair to compare- they're different categories. I enjoyed this because it is made with soymilk, coconut milk and arrowroot to make it wiggle. I think I had more fun wiggling it like a child would do (holding it upside down above my head and all), than making it and eating it.
And lastly, another photo of moroccan chickpea patties... I made them for a second time only a few days later, but served it the same way both times with the ginger dipping sauce and raw cashews. I forgot to post about this last week, so here's a look.

Also, if you haven't noticed yet, I've been posting more often. I plan on keeping it up...

11 November 2006

Tofu Noodle Soup (Post 1 of 2, #2's Below)

I am absolutely hooked on this tofu noodle soup. Talk about comfort food, this soup is so flavorful and seriously addicting, I have made it five times in the past two weeks. It's just all around soul-soothing. It all started when Ray started coming down with the flu. I told him I'd kick it for him with my cooking (lots of garlic, ginger, tumeric, etc.). It was only the day before that my wonderful soup book by Nava Atlas came in the mail. I decided the first recipe I'd make would be Mock Chicken Noodle Soup (page 54 if you have the book). I didn't like the name at all since I'm not a fan of real dead meat nor fake meats, but reading the ingredient list, it didn't sound chicken-y at all, especially with tofu (I think seitan can be subbed easily). I decided to have a go at it, especially because I convienently had all the ingredients on hand. Minus the baked tofu, but I fried (lightly) up my own and it came out wonderful. My only issue with this book is that it calls for one teaspoon of "salt-free seasoning", forget the salt-free, that's fine, it's the whole mix up of spices in one container (minus good curry powder) that I don't care for. I don't like seasonings like this guy does. So, I decided to think up what the hell would be in mock chicken noodle soup. Besides the called-for dill (which totally ties the whole soup together). I made up my own spices using almost everything in my spice rack, sort of, and the soup came out wonderful. I used way more than 1t. of spices!

Since I have made this recipe 5 times now, I made it the first time following the recipe almost exactly, minus the baked tofu and my own seasonings, plus more. The next few times I tweaked it around, and I'd say I've come up with close, but my own modified version of this recipe. The photos you see here are from my modified and very different, more medicinal than the original version. It is so wonderful, the leftovers are good but the noodles absorb a lot of the water so you have to either add more water and add more seasonings or just eat really non-brothy soup.

Leslie's Tofu Noodle Soup (adapted from Nava Atlas Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons and modified by me, Leslie)
This yields about 4 quarts.
1T olive oil
3 large celery stalks, diced small
4-5 carrots, peeled and diced small
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2t. minced or grated fresh ginger
1 yellow onion, small, diced
8c water
2 boullion cubes (or broth equiv)
1 to 1.5t dried dill (you must add this!)
1t. oregano (all seasonings are dry)
1t. basil
1/4 to 1/2t. paprika
1t sea salt
1t black pepper
1t tumeric
1/2t thyme
8oz thin noodles broken into 1.5" sticks
8oz firm tofu, pre-baked, pre-fried, or make your own like I do using firm tofu, pressed, heat up a bit of olive oil in a pan, place 1/2" thick squares on the pan and add all of the same spices you put in the soup plus optional breadcrumbs and heat until golden brown. Dice small.

Method: In a large stockpot (I use 6 quarts), heat olive oil and add carrots, celery, onion, garlic and ginger. Heat on medium and add 2T of water (I just grab a bit from the sink in my palm). Put a lid on and let it "sweat" for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Carefully take the lid off (the steam is quick and hot) and turn up the heat. Add the boullion or broth, water, and all the spices. Bring to a rapid simmer and then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the veggies are soft. Take the lid off, increase the heat again but not as high, and add the noodles. Cook them 5-8 minutes, until al dente. As soon as you throw the noodles in is a good time to start sauteing the tofu. Heat the tofu in a bit of olive oil, and a pinch of each spice in the soup, plus 1T soy sauce (optional, but good) and mix and heat until crispy and brown. The noodles should be soft but not mushy now. Lower the heat even more, add the tofu. Stir, serve immediately. If you don't serve immediately, you can choose not to add the tofu right away. I like to put it in at the last minute and Ray likes it soaking, even overnight. It's up to you. There are many spices total, but they totally make the soup wonderful. I even use a lot more tumeric and ginger, as I said above, we were trying to kick the flu.

Oh, and Dreena told me about a ginger tea that I think also helped kick it. Not to mention I didn't even get one symptom of illness (hence the veganness). No one needs to be sick or even close to love this soup. It is wonderful, healthy, full of healing ingredients and easy and quick to make. I'm addicted I think. You should be too.
See the next post below for post 2 of 2.

The Potato Trio (Post 2 of 2)

I found these local purple potatoes at the co-op for $1.49 a pound. Usually I prefer cheaper deals, but these were so vibrant that day they were hard to pass up. Since they were a bit costly, I didn't want to buy 4-5 pounds of just those so I got some yukon golds and red potatoes. There was a man who was curious about them while I was checking out and he was very surprised that I exclaimed with enthusiasm that they were just as vibrant on the inside (he thought they would be white). Check them out all cut up.

I decided to make mashed potatoes. And mashed taters are not even close to complete without VwaV Chickpea Gravy (I love that stuff with a big part of my heart). Here you see the very creamy mashed potatoes. I was so excited to eat that I almost forgot to take a photo so this is the very very creamy bottom part that my handheld mixer didn't get to (too much Earth Balance at the bottom). Oh well, they were still fabulous and super-colorful. I left the skin on but peeled the skin on the red ones beacause I couldn't get all the dirt off. I love colorful potatoes. I have a few more and I plan on dicing them up and doing something with them on the stovetop. These were served with Sunshine patties (SouthWest kind, of course) and a side of sweet corn. Yum.