Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The curry incident.

Yesterday my friend bought a beautiful cauliflower for me and I wanted to make 'Pav Bhaji', a spicy mashed vegetable curry that is eaten with buttered rolls. I was very excited to make it and I got some rolls and a nice large potato, green beans and peas for it. This morning I got to work. Everything was working out as I stirred away at my curry, marveling at the wonderful smells and delighting in how perfect it was looking. It was only until after I finished cooking and putting away the pav bhaji masala spice mixture when I noticed the bugs. Yes, there were BUGS crawling around in my spices! And no doubt dead ones floating around in the curry. I didn't even look, I just couldn't even think about eating it so I regretfully tipped the whole pot into the trash bin. I hate wasting food so I was a little upset. To make myself feel better I drove to Trader Joe's and picked up a ready made curry.

I got the Choley which was one of the only vegan ones they had. They had Pav Bhaji but it had butter in it. :(

But no matter, I enjoyed the Choley very very much. It was really spicy and perfect with my rolls that I grilled with Earth Balance margarine.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Soup for the week and plans for the weekend.

You see this? This is approximately 8 cups of soup that I will be eating all week. It's the sephardic red lentil soup recipe from Olive Trees and Honey that I just absolutely love love love. I don't know if 8 cups of this is enough for the rest of the week to be honest!

Yesterday I had a day off and my two younger cousins visited me. We made a day of tea sandwiches, tea, cookies, chips and a Doctor Who marathon! Sorry, no pictures!

This saturday is my dad's 65th birthday party and I'm planning to make the following for my family: spanakopita (recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance), potato salad (Veganomicon's Prospect Park recipe), hummus and a three bean salad (kidney, white and fava). I'm also making Isa's cookies again because everyone loved them last time. All these treats shall keep my mind occupied until the weekend. I love to cook!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Made Baklava! And a Sandwich! And Kabob!

I love baklava. I never thought I'd be able to make it myself. It just seem so complicated, all the layers of gooey, juicy, walnut-ty sweetness. I used a recipe from a cookbook called "Tables of Lebanon" and just went for it. I had to switch out the butter for Earth Balance margarine which was no big deal. I sprinkled the top with chopped almonds as I did not have pistachios. It came out pretty.

One of these delicious pieces goes a long way. It's ridiculously sweet! I may have to share these with friends.

Bonus sandwich. My lunch today.

Bonus broiled tofu and veg (squash, onion, green pepper) kabob. My dinner. I seasoned the tofu and veggies with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and a kabob seasoning blend (granulated onion, garlic, sumac, parsley, salt, pepper, tumeric and other spices). I served them with hummus and bulgur relish with lots of chopped tomato and onion.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Vegan Sandwich!

So I spent all day in downtown serving jury duty and boy was it boring! I brought a book and my ipod to keep me busy but I pretty much lost interest in my book and instead plugged in the ipod and closed my eyes to doze on and off for about 8 hours. I dreamt of food. In particular sandwiches. I have no idea why. My memory went way back to high school where I used to buy turkey/swiss on a french roll from the snack cart everyday. I missed that sandwich and that sandwich is what occupied my thoughts all day. I was determined to have it for dinner tonight while I watched Dodger baseball on tv. As soon as I was let free from jury service (wee!), I stopped by the store to get all the ingredients I needed. This sandwich is quite different from my high school sandwich but was much much better.

What's all in there? Tofurkey slices, lettuce, tomato, red onions, russian style pickles, pepperoncini, vegan mayo, mustard, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper on a fresh baguette. It was AMAZING. I don't like to eat a whole lot of fake meats but this was just too good to pass up. I was so into it that I finished it all in a half Dodger inning.

For the love of all things pickly.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dee Da Doo Day...

I'm bored. I know I should be getting to bed early (have to wake up at 6am for jury duty tomorrow!) but I don't feel sleepy. I've been going through old food pictures I took before I started this blog. Some of the yummy dishes I made I almost forgot about! I'd like to share them here with you.

This is Eggplant and Chickpea Kibbeh that I got from a book called "Vegan Planet". This was really good. It has bulgur, tomatoes, eggplant and chickpeas of course. I made a lemony garlic sauce to go with it along with roasted asparagus and boiled potatoes. i have to make this again soon.

Pineapple Tofu. So so awesome. I like to fry up tofu cubes after dipping them in cornstarch and then drowning them in a pineapple sauce. The recipe for the sauce is here.

Oven Herb Roasted Tomato Pasta. Now this looks very plain and almost boring but wow, does it taste good. The recipe is from "The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen".

How did I forget about these Grilled Yuca Tortillas??? Recipe is from Veganomicon. These are so gorgeous. It's mashed up yuca with lime, jalapenos and corn. I've made this a few times with fresh guacamole.

Cashew Coconut Curry Casserole. Wow, I remember this. It was soo rich and so delicious. Recipe is here. It's one of those throw in a baking dish and bake kind of recipes.

Szechuan Noodles. Easy and cheap and yummy. Recipe here.

Sexy Lowfat Vanilla Cupcakes from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World". This book rocks.

Ok now, off to bed. Good night!

Hummus-Baba Ganouj Sandwich?

Last night I broiled two small japanese eggplants in hopes of making baba ganouj. Well, those two puny eggplants didn't produce enough pulp so I added a handful or two of chickpeas and made a mixture of two spreads: hummus-baba ganouj! Not authentic in any way but it sure was delicious. I made a sandwich for today with whole wheat pita, cucumbers, russian style pickles, onions and tomato. So so fresh and delicious.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Meze: Hummus, Bazargan and Za'atar in olive oil

This is the perfect kind of meal for a hot (not quite summer) night. No need for turning on the stove. I prepared the hummus and bazargan (Syrian bulgur relish) this morning so they were ready to eat when I came home from work. I topped the relish and za'atar dip with fresh tomato and onions. I had whole wheat pita and sesame crackers for dipping. The bazargan is a recipe from 'Olive Trees and Honey'. It is a bulgur relish that is flavored with olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, cumin, tomato and cayenne. There are chopped walnuts in it and fresh cilantro (didn't have parsley) as well.

My salad from lunch. Just green leaf, red peppers, walnuts with an olive oil/lemon juice dressing

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Casserole and Cookies.

Creamy Chickpea Tahini Casserole (the famous recipezaar recipe) with spinach and olives. I love this to bits.

Isa's recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I added coffee flavored chips to mine. The best cookies ever. These were gobbled up in record time!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Kale Pesto Linguine and Thai Coffee Agar Dessert!

I've never made pesto with kale before. I've made it with basil of course, broccoli, arugula, cilantro and spinach. I had two big bunches of kale in my fridge that needed using up so I decided to give it a go. I processed fresh kale with walnuts, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and a little bit of salt. It came out nice and creamy but was quite bitter. I was a little disappointed. I ended up sauteeing some tomatoes and garlic in olive oil and added the pesto to the pan to cook it out a bit. It lost a lot of the bitterness as a result so I was good to go. I tossed it with hot linguine and topped it with "Parmezano Sprinkle" (almonds, nutritional yeast, miso, salt).

For dessert I had Thai coffee flavored jelly agar dessert. If you remember the last one I made, this is the same thing just a different flavor. It was so delicious. I like coffee flavored everything so this was a treat. This flavor worked much better with the sliced bananas.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Raw Red Pepper Soup

Since I've been doing soups for the week, I figured it was about time to make a raw soup. I got this idea from a friend at work. We got some beautiful organic red bell peppers that we weren't using so we brought them home. I wanted to use them up before they spoiled so I whipped up this raw soup in my blender this morning. It's very flavorful and sweet from the peppers with a spicy kick from the jalapeno!

Raw Red Pepper Soup

2 large red bell peppers, chopped
4 ribs celery, sliced
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
2 tsp. red miso paste
2 TB chopped jalapeno (or more if you are so inclined)
2 TB olive oil
2 cups water
freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed for a few minutes until completely smooth. You may top this soup with a raw salsa, avocado or fresh corn kernels for texture.

10 Stupid Questions Vegans Get Asked

Someone forwarded me this link this morning. It's quite funny and I do find that I get asked a lot of these questions. Number 2 and 6 make me laugh, laugh, laugh....
Read Article. (for entertainment purposes only)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sephardic Red Lentil Soup (with Kale)

Oh my this soup is good! It is so rich in flavor; it's earthy, tangy and just tasty! It's the Sephardic red lentil soup recipe from the coobook "Olive Trees and Honey" which happens to be one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks. Seriously, go buy it right now. I made a big pot of this soup which is flavored with garlic, onions, cumin, olive oil and lemon juice. Soooo good. I served some to my dad who ate it over rice (he eats everything over rice, even pasta!) and he loved it. I'll be happy to eat this soup all week. I added chopped kale at the end which gave the soup some texture as well as giving a little color.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Eats.

We don't celebrate Easter so no big dinner or anything. Just a veggie-full sub sandwich with cheesy kale chips on the side and Dodger baseball on TV.

I also made Mexican Chocolate Cake with chocolate ganache icing. I had a couple pieces that were really chocolatey and spicy!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thai Jelly Agar Dessert

I bought a packet of this at Bangkok Market on Melrose last week and thought I'd give it a try today. It's the easiest thing ever. You just mix up the packet with 2 cups of water in a pot, bring it to a boil, pour into a mold, add sliced fruit, put it in the fridge for about half an hour and voila! A fun jelly like dessert. It's got a very nice fruity and not too sweet flavor. The sliced bananas upped the sweetness a bit more. I liked the bananas in it but I think their flavor overpowered the jelly a little too much. I think I'd rather have it plain next time. And in case you're wondering, no this does not feel or taste anything like Jello. By the way, Jello is made from gelatin which is derived from animal connective tissue, skin and bone, ew! This product is made from agar which is derived from algae that has thickening properties like gelatin. Ingredients of this product: Agar agar, sugar, anti-caking agent, silicon dioxide, artificial flavor

Look at that lovely green!

Weekend Tostadas

I was inspired to make tostadas this weekend after seeing a photo of "mexican pizzas" that someone had posted at the ppk message board. They used flour tortillas baked with refried beans and all kinds of wonderful toppings like tomatoes, olives, vegan cheddar cheese etc. But I didn't have flour tortillas! Or canned refried beans! One thing I wasn't going to do was go to the store. That was off limits. To save money, I was to use only what I have in my fridge and pantry. So with a little internet research on bean recipes (no I've never cooked my own before), I decided to make refried beans from scratch using dry salvadorean red beans that I bought on a whim one day. I also had in my fridge: corn tortillas, tomatoes, onions, olives, cilantro, cabbage, red peppers and corn.

I looked online and found a recipe here for Salvadorean Refried Beans. (It's the 4th recipe on the page.) I wanted to only make a half recipe so I soaked 1 cup of beans last night and proceeded with the recipe this morning. The only problem was, some of the beans doubled in size and some did not! That was really annoying. So I put them in a pot with cold water, brought it to a boil for a few minutes then turned the heat off, put the top on and let it soak for an hour. Then I proceeded with the recipe. It took quite a while; about an hour to cook the beans, then blend them and then slow cook again for another hour with some onions. They came out great. I wished I would have made more. 1 cup of beans is really not enough! I remedied my bean shortage with a pot of canned chickpeas that I cooked with some chili powder, onions and red peppers. I used the cabbage, red peppers and corn to make a slaw and the tomatoes, cilantro and onions to make pico de gallo.

Refried beans on top of a baked corn tortilla along with fresh pico de gallo, black olives and hot sauce. (Bake corn tortillas brushed with olive oil in a 400 degree F oven until crisp and browned.)

Cooked and mashed chickpeas with cabbage, corn and red pepper slaw, black olives and hot sauce.

Recipe for slaw:

1 bag shredded cabbage (about 6 cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 14 oz. can sweet corn, drained
3 TB Vegenaise
1-2 tsp chili powder
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp agave syrup or sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine Vegenaise, chili powder, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Toss with vegetables and let chill for a while to let flavors blend.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cookbook Contest: And the Winner is...

BJ! You have won my cookbook contest for a lovely little book called "Pasta & Vegetables"!

Your comment was #10 and you have been randomly selected by!

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-04-10 14:51:10 UTC

This is BJ's favorite pasta and vegetable combination:

"My favorite pasta dish is one from a bread book, "No Need to Knead". It's so simple, but so good. It's simply fresh pasta topped with chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil, and splash of olive oil. Top with the ubiquitous Parmesan (vegan of course)and the secret ingredient: freshly browned bread crumbs. This is served at room temp. Even my pasta-hating hubby goes for this. However, don't try this unless you can get garden-grown's just not the same."

Thank you BJ and everyone who participated in the contest. Your pasta/veggie ideas gave me much inspiration!

(BJ, I will send you an email shortly...)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

White Bean and Kale Soup

I just had my last serving of Super Green Kale Soup that I made a few days ago. It was delicious and I went through it a lot quicker than I planned. So today I made another big pot of soup, this time a white bean, yam and kale soup. The recipe can be found online here. This soup is really flavorful with smoked paprika and curry powder and hearty from the beans and sweet yams. This should last me until the weekend, I hope!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango

It feels like summer today. It's warm, there's a breeze (I live 3 miles from the ocean) and I can smell the jasmine flowers in my backyard from my open studio door. In this kind of weather, a salad is refreshing and delightful. I didn't want to make a regular lettuce based salad so I quickly went through my copy of Veganomicon and found this quinoa salad. I was lucky to have a ripe mango in my fruit bowl so I used that along with scallions and fresh tomato (to replace the red pepper). I punched up the flavor a bit by adding lime juice and chili powder to the dressing. It's yummy! It makes a lot so I'll be having this throughout the week along with my kale soup. I'm quite happy.

I just checked the weather forecast and it looks like we'll be getting rain this week. Great.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back on Track...

The month of March was really stressful for me with business slowing down and job hunting that I didn't stick with the healthy eating that I wanted to continue from my diet in February. I know for a fact I ate way too many potato chips, packaged cookies, lots of bread and not enough fresh vegetables and salads. I felt it in my body too. I felt sluggish, heavy and just not good at all. I'd like to get back on track to feeling good again. So back to fresh green smoothies in the morning, maybe some oatmeal and fruit, soup and salads for lunch and healthy dinners. I made a big batch of "Super Green Kale Soup" from Gillian McKeith's You Are What You Eat cookbook. I absolutely loved the soup when I was on her diet that I was more than happy to make it again.

I floated a dehydrated cheesy kale chip on top for decoration. The kale chips were from a batch that I brought home from work because they were less than perfect for packaging. (I work part time as a kitchen assistant at Rawk n Roll Cuisine) And sorry, I can not give out any recipes for the products we make there!

This was my dinner. A giant salad of green leaf, romaine, cabbage, tomato, mandarins and unsalted walnuts drizzled with sesame miso dressing (You Are What You Eat cookbook). It was filling and delicious. I'm feeling better already!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Weekend Frittata

Yay, weekend! I figured I'd have more time to cook today so I made a tofu based frittata this morning. It has zucchini, red peppers, potatoes, spinach and onions in it. While it was in the oven I caught up on some television. After the frittata came out of the oven, I wanted it to rest for a while so it would set properly. If you cut into it too soon, it will be too soft and mushy. It does well to even let it set until completely cool or you can chill it for several hours in the fridge. You will have nice firm slices in that case. I will be eating this through the weekend with a nice salad. It can be served at room temp.

I cut into mine too soon so I turned the soft side away so you can see the crusty part on the sides. I served them with a sauce made from Vegenaise, dijon, ketchup and black pepper.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Taco Salad

So my crockpot disaster chili came back tonight as I revamped it into a taco salad! I wished so hard that I had cubed avocado on this but oh well... This was delicious. I don't know what happened but my less than perfect chili tasted awesome on top of crunchy greens, crisp red peppers, crushed tortilla chips with creamy vegan ranch (which is just Vegenaise, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, all purpose seasoning and dried parsley by the way). I think the flavors of the chili improved overnight. Whatever happened, I'm glad it did because dinner was great. I also had the last of the perfect cornbread with this.