Saturday, May 30, 2009

Really Good Sandwich...I Mean Really Good.

Wow, this was so flipping good! Not the healthiest sandwich around but if you're going to indulge on a weekend with a great sandwich, some chips and a ballgame on tv (go Dodgers!), why not make it really really tasty? It's got a bunch of good stuff in it: veggie turkey slices (Smart Deli brand), spinach-walnut pesto that I made early this morning, tomatoes, pepperoncini, olive salad that I made as well (which you can see in the little bowl in front), lettuce, red peppers, vegan mayo, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper, all on fresh ciabatta bread. Amazing. About the olive salad: I have no idea what a traditional olive salad has in it but I quickly made mine up with kalamata olives, green olives stuffed with garlic, more garlic, onions, olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Spaghetti with Spinach and Mushrooms + Strawberry-Mango Crumble

I made this pasta recipe the first year I went vegan. I had just subscribed to Vegetarian Times magazine and I was exploring and trying recipes from various issues. That was about 2 1/2 years ago so I thought I'd come back and make this dish again. This recipe requires baking the dry spaghetti in the oven for a while to toast them which creates a nutty flavor. The toasted spaghetti is then cooked in a broth flavored with mushrooms, tomato paste and harissa (a North African red chili paste) and allowed to plump up which creates a rich and silky texture. The mushroom flavored broth with the kick of spice from the chili made it taste similar to asian style noodles. Very comfort foody.

Not the best picture, I was too anxious to start eating! I served it with fresh slices of ciabatta bread.

I also made a strawberry mango crumble for dessert. Behold...

I veganized this recipe which simply required substituting Earth Balance margarine for butter. Otherwise it was all as written. I did switch out rhubarb for strawberries, I kind of think they have a similar tarty sweetness, don't you?

Not pictured but I had this with a scoop of vanilla non dairy ice cream. It was perfect. So glad I made this!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Egyptian Lentil Soup

I'm so used to making lentil soup with split red lentils that I wanted a break from it to cook with brown lentils. I found the perfect recipe for egyptian lentil soup from a new cookbook I just acquired called 'Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East and North Africa'. As most of you know, I love middle eastern flavors so this soup was right up my alley. It's dead simple but richly flavored with cumin, garlic, onions and lemon juice. The recipe requires an extra step at the end of adding fried onions as a garnish on top of the soup but I wanted to save my fat and calorie count. This is my soup o' the week and I'll be having it for dinner every day after work. Yum!

Long weekends and leaving room for quiet moments.

What a weekend! Hope your Memorial Day weekend is eventful as well as relaxed with time to recover from a long work week. My weekend was full of fun; my cousin's beautiful Thai wedding on Saturday morning, followed by a beautiful backyard reception all evening and into the night with tasty food, family, friends, great music and tired feet! I felt totally beat up the next morning but had to get up to go to my little brother's house for a bbq and a Dodger game on his large HD flat screen television. That was a lot of fun (even though we lost!) and I ate way too many veggie dogs. I was still tired from the wedding and nursing a small headache and achey limbs. When I got home, I did as much household chores as I could handle and relaxed most of the evening. To contine the "relaxation" trend today, I prepared breakfast in bed to eat leisurely while I lay in bed enjoying this quiet morning.

Very simple but perfect breakfast. Cardamom flavored coffee, pita with margarine and a really nice Bulgarian wildberry jam, and a little bowl of mangos, oranges and bananas sprinkled with cinnamon.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Beautiful Beautiful Cookies.

Oh, these are just so beautiful and heavenly. I'm going to a family wedding tomorrow and planned to bring some food and dessert to the reception. I decided on a recipe for Ma'amoul B'Jowz from 'The Essential Mediterranean Cookbook'. As much as I love middle eastern food, I am not an expert and the last time I checked, Ma'amoul were described as shortbread cookies filled with dates or nuts and made with semolina flour. The recipe that I used did not require semolina, only white flour and the nut filling was not encased in the dough but rather filled partially and not covered on the top. So I can't say how authentic this recipe is. If someone knows, please let me know!

Authenticity aside, I have to say these cookies are absolutely gorgeous. They are soft and buttery (I used Earth Balance margarine instead of butter), slightly sweet and scented/flavored with orange blossom water. The walnut/sugar/cinnamon filling makes them all the more perfect. I really hope the wedding guests like them.

I hope I made them as pretty as they are pictured in the cookbook.

I have a Ma'amoul mold so I tried making a few with it. I need to practice as these weren't as pretty. And I think I need to fill them more as you can see there is not much filling inside when I cut it open.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Red Lentil Dhal and Peas Pillau

I was going to make a plain soup today for dinner but I wanted to use up the vast quantities of basmati rice and red lentils I have in my pantry. So what better meal to treat myself to than an indian feast? I adore the red lentil dahl recipe posted here. I was lazy and didn't grind up and toast the spices like the recipe says but I had a little taste and it was amazing, especially with a squeeze of lemon juice. To go with the dahl, I made the 'Peas Pillau' recipe from a lovely little vegetarian book called 'Flavors of India'. This rice is beautifully fragrant with the aromas of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and clove. I took these pictures in the afternoon to get the best light but I won't be eating until tonight after I get home from work. Can't wait!

Peas Pillau in all it's glory.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Moroccan Tagine of Chickpeas

I got this recipe from a cookbook I just bought called 'Food of Morocco'. It has mostly meat recipes but a few were vegetarian or vegan. The Tagine of Chickpeas recipe was completely vegan to my delight. This stew is beautifully flavored with a medley of spices: paprika, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cinnamon and harissa (a North African red chili paste) and is bathed in a rich tomato sauce. I didn't feel like couscous tonight and I don't know where to get Moroccan bread, so I enjoyed it with a loaf of Iranian Barbari bread (wheat flour, water, yeast, salt) that I picked up from Payless Produce on the way home from work today.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Soup and Salad.

I'm trying to be good and eat soups and salads through out the week. It keeps things light and easy on my schedule as well as my stomach. I try to save the more indulgent foods for the weekend. I whipped up my favorite red lentil soup (sephardic recipe from 'Olive Trees and Honey') and a half recipe of "black pepper cheeze" from 'Ani's Raw Food Kitchen'. It's the easiest raw cheese recipe I think, just raw cashews, garlic, black pepper, lemon juice and water. I used the soft cheeze as a spread on top of fresh tomatoes and persian cucumbers. If you want, you can drizzle olive oil and balsamic or cider vinegar over it. That would be very tasty indeed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Breakfast in Bed.

I have mornings to myself before going to work and I usually get loads of things done before then. I work on jewelry, run errands, walk the dog, do a bit of cleaning and many other things that I allow myself to squeeze into these free hours. I was off yesterday and worked on jewelry so I took a break from that today. I walked the dog early this morning, came home and after a fresh shower, I prepared a tray of breakfast that I brought to my room to eat. It was a lovely little breakfast of pita toasts with margarine and a drizzle of agave syrup, a bowl of oranges and mangos sprinkled with cinnamon and a cup of my favorite Ceylon tea. It was delicious. I should do this more often!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lazy Falafel.

Now, when I usually make falafel I make it from scratch but today I was really lazy and wanted to be quick about it. A while ago, I bought one of these packet falafel mixes by Sadaf and it looked pretty easy, you just need to add water. I bought some fresh pita and made a lemon dill garlic sauce to go with it (it's vegenaise, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill). I also made a side dish of lemon dill rice with pinenuts. The falafel was alright though not as good as my homemade stuff (isn't homemade everything so much better?). It was a little on the dry side but I had baked them instead of frying so maybe that contributed to the dryness. But all in all, it was a very satisfying meal.

I served the falafel sandwiches with fresh cucumber slices, tomato and onions sprinkled with sumac.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mom's Day! And More Cookbooks For My Collection.

Hope all you moms out there are having a wonderful day. I made a yummy date cake to celebrate. Later on, we are ordering pizzas for Mom because that's what she has been craving.

Soft, puffy and sweet cake topped with walnuts. Recipe here. (Substitute soymilk for the milk. And no need to soak dates, just puree them in a blender with soymilk and sugar.)

These are the latest books in my collection. The Moroccan, Mediterranean and Soups book have both meat and vegetarian recipes. I am determined to veganize a few of the meat recipes somehow...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thai Red Curry and "Kanom Jean"

I've been craving red curry served on top of "kanom jean" (thin somen noodles) that my family eats all the time, especially at holiday parties. My auntie usually makes a big pot of red curry and a big bowl of "kanom jean" prepared into coiled mounds. Since the curry is always meat based I haven't been able to partake in this wonderful marriage of foods. There's something about the noodles that works so well with the curry. They provide a soft, neutral cushion of slippery noodle goodness for the spicy curry that rice doesn't quite do. The only problem is that it goes down so well, you can eat bowl after bowl very easily!

Little coiled mounds of cooked "kanom jean".

My curry was made with coconut milk, chickpeas, zucchini, baby corn and thai red curry paste. I served it with a side of miso sesame coleslaw to extinguish the heat!

Red Curry with Chickpeas

1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 heaping tsp thai red curry paste (the more you use the spicier it will be!)
1 14oz. can coconut milk
1 cup water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp rhizome (krachai) powder (If you can't find this, it's ok. But if you can, use it. It really lends an authentic flavor to kanom jean curry.)
1 zucchini, sliced into small pieces
1 14oz. can baby corn, drained
1 14oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 TB mushroom soy sauce or 2 TB regular soy sauce

Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add red curry paste and saute for few minutes. Add coconut milk and water and bring to a boil while stirring to dissolve currry paste. Add vegetables, chickpeas, sugar and rhizome powder. Lower heat to simmer for about 30 minutes. Season with soy sauce.

Psst...I edited the recipe to include rhizome powder which is one ingredient that I forgot about. I didn't put it in my curry at first but the next day, I heated up the leftovers and added the rhizome powder and it made it even more perfect!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lip Smacking Sweet and Savory Tofu.

All I can say is this: anyone out there who is not a big fan of tofu because you never know how to prepare it, try this recipe. It's quick, simple and so tasty. It's a little sweet though, let me warn you. I always eat it with plain rice and plain steamed cabbage to offset the sweet. Go make it now! Recipe is here. If you're not into plum sauce and hoisin, you can always substitute your favorite bbq sauce.

Edited to add: I've also substituted mango chutney for the plum sauce with delicious results.

Carob Banana Avocado Pudding

Another breakfast treat. Smooth and silky avocado blended with carob powder, a few bananas, dates and a drizzle of agave syrup. This recipe is not completely raw because I used roasted carob powder. But it was still very decadent and delicious. Reminded me of chocolate banana creme pie!

Carob Banana Avocado Pudding

8 dates, pitted
1 large avocado, pitted
2 large ripe bananas
3 heaping tsp (or more) of carob powder
drizzle or two of agave syrup

Combine all in a blender and blend until smooth.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Raw Breakfast Pudding

Last week my friend Cassidy gave me some raw strawberry pie that she made. It was deeelicious! I wanted to recreate that flavor by making this breakfast pudding. It has the consistency more like yogurt I think but the flavors were spot on. A sweet and creamy mixture of bananas, strawberries, dates and cashews. Yummy.

Raw Strawberry-Banana Pudding

8 dates, pitted
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 ripe bananas
6 strawberries, frozen
juice of 1/2 an orange

Soak dates and cashews together in a bowl of hot water for about 20 minutes. Discard the water and put the dates and nuts in blender along with the other ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl, cover with cling film and place in the freezer for about 20 minutes. (This step is not necessary. I liked eating it cold.) Serve.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sweet Potato Samosa and Cinco de Mayo food.

Today is my day off and I didn't want to waste a chance to cook. I had a large sweet potato to use up so I made baked samosas which were a recipe from 'Vegan Planet'. They are stuffed with mashed sweet potato, peas, onions and seasoned with curry powder and cayenne. I know this is not very "Cinco de Mayo" so I made up for it by making fresh guacamole and chipotle refried bean dip with grilled peppers and onions topped with lettuce, tomato and cool ranch sauce. The ranch is from 'You Won't Believe It's Vegan'. It has pureed tofu in it which I was very wary of at first but after adding some seasonings like taco spices, lemon juice and garlic powder it didn't taste half bad.

Here are the pics. All this food was gobbled up while watching Dodger baseball!

Samosa in a variety of sizes. They were delicious.

Yummy bean dip. Only things missing were jalapeno and olives.

Creamy guacamole made from 2 large avocados.

Oh and I did make something healthy. A mango, orange banana salad.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Moroccan Carrot-Orange Salad

My cousin Oraphan (of Easy Veggie blog) came to my dad's b-day party on Saturday and made this beautiful salad. I loved it so much. Hers was flavored with orange, lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, cinnamon, raisins and pine nuts! I re-created it this morning and didn't remember the exact proportions of ingredients but I was able to add little by little until it tasted just right. The bright citrus notes of the lemon and orange contrasted beautifully with the sweet carrot and spicy cinnamon. I added agave syrup to mine instead of sugar and toasted almonds instead of pine nuts. This salad is very refreshing and perfect for a mild spring day like today.

Edited to add recipe.

This is approximately what I did to make this salad:

3-4 carrots, grated
1 orange, peel and pith removed, cut into chunks
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 TB olive oil
1 TB agave syrup (you may use less to cut down on sweetness)
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Mix all ingredients together and chill.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spiced Mixed Bean Broth

I like to revamp food. Yesterday's bean salad leftovers was revamped into this delicious spicy and tangy bean soup flavored with cumin, turmeric, jalapeno, lemon juice and cilantro. The recipe is from a bargain cookbook I got at Borders called "500 Soup Recipes" and originally calls for black eyed peas. This is my soup o' the week.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Foods that I slaved away to make but had much fun doing it. I was lucky that it all came out great! Hope everyone enjoys them at the party.

Spanakopita from 'Vegan with a Vengeance'. These were quite challenging to make. I was originally going to make a large pie but thought that individual servings would do better at a party. They came out really cute and have been taste tested by my husband. He gives them two thumbs up. (The party has not yet started and I saw him sneak another one and steal away to his room!)

Prospect Park Potato Salad from 'Veganomicon'. I've made this several times and it's always a hit.

Beautiful bean salad (kidney, white, fava) seasoned with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and parsley.

Isa's famous chocolate chip but with added mocha chips. Yay!

I also made fresh salsa and hummus which came out fabulously as well.