Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cherry Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta

I got 'Vegan Italiano' yesterday and wanted to break it in so I made this delicious bruschetta. So simple and so fresh, it has cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, garlic, fresh basil, olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar. This makes me think of what summer is going to be like. Fresh and colorful foods, baseball, sunny days...can't wait! (And this is coming from someone who loves rain and grey weather as well.)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Eggplant Chickpea Stew, Russian Salad and Lemon Cake

Munazalit Bathinjan or Eggplant and Chickpea Stew from "Classic Vegetarian Recipes from The Middle East and N. Africa". Origin of this recipe: Lebanon and Syria. It's wonderful both hot and at room temperature and served with pita and/or quinoa.

I made this delicious Russian Salad (from The Olive and The Caper cookbook) a few weekends ago and made it again today. It has potatoes, green beans, carrots, peas, baby lima beans and lemon caper mayo. This time I added lots of fresh dill.

Lemon cake!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Risi e Bisi (with carrots!)

This is the Rice and Pea soup from 1,000 Vegan Recipes aka "Risi e Bisi" in Italian. I only had "peas and carrots" in my freezer so I used them. The arborio rice is really creamy and gives the soup a comfort factor. It reminds me of Thai rice porridge. This is dinner tonight after an active day at work.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pita Pizzas & Penne with Walnut-Dill Pesto

I'm really enjoying all of these mediterranean foods I've been eating. I already know that a lot of the ingredients in mediterranean cooking are very healthy and should be eaten as often as possible. Fresh vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruits and all of the wonderful flavorings like garlic, olive oil, spices, herbs just make this the most wonderful kind of cooking in my book.

Last night for dinner I made pita pizzas using whole wheat pita bread, tomato sauce, fresh sliced tomatoes, red onions, mushrooms, tangy black olives, faux feta and oregano. Delicious!

For lunch today I made this tasty penne dish with walnut-dill pesto, sauteed garlic, eggplant, zucchini, tomato, mushrooms and olives. A gorgeous symphony of flavors!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Weekend Meze.

It rained last night and the forecast had predicted rain today but it has yet to come. I took advantage of the current blue skies and sun with slight breeze to lunch al fresco once again. I'm really getting used to this! It makes me look forward to the weekend. Come summer, this is will be a regular thing. Can't wait.

Another meze lunch with lots of things to nibble on and again with the mediterranean theme. I just got a new cookbook, "The Greek Vegetarian" and I wanted to use it today. I made from it Eggplant Puree with Walnuts and Fava Bean Stew with Mint. I also made hummus and a greek salad.

Hummus on the left and Eggplant Puree with walnuts (Makedonitiki Melitzanosalata) on the right. The eggplant puree was delicious and garlicky. The walnuts are first ground to a paste and then processed with roasted eggplant pulp.

Fava bean stew with mint (Koukia Stifado me Dyosmo). Delicious and filling tender fava beans with a base of tomatoes, red onions, garlic, mint and dill. I added dill because I'm crazy about it and a lot of greek dishes have fresh dill so it seemed rather fitting.

Greek salad with cucumbers, olives, red onions and "Betta Feta", a tofu based faux feta from The Ultimate Uncheese cookbook. Drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.

First of the jasmine blooms I've seen this year.

Buster eating pita.

Dessert is banana bread that I made with the biggest ripest bananas that I found in our fruit bowl. The cake sunk in the middle a bit because of my impatience. I peeked in the oven way too many times!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Drunken Spaghetti with Tofu

I'm a big fan of Drunken Noodles or in Thai, "Pad Kee Mao" which is a delicious pan fried noodle dish flavored with Thai basil. Thai basil has a gorgeous flavor which has been described as slightly licoricey or minty. It's just wonderful! Unfortunately for me I didn't have any Thai basil today. I did have fresh mint leaves from the garden which I substituted with great results. This recipe is from the 1,000 vegan recipes cookbook. I chose it today because I had a ziploc bag of cooked spaghetti in my fridge that I had no idea what to do with. I used garlic, red onion, red pepper, kale, zucchini and mint with thin slices of fried tofu to whip up this fast and easy dish. In the Thai version of this dish we use flat rice noodles and they can be a pain to work with. The spaghetti makes this dish very easy. It came out very tasty and I plan to make this again.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Zucchini-Lemon Couscous

Ah...another gorgeous day in sunny California. More Mediterranean flavors here with the zucchini lemon couscous from a great cookbook called 'The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen' by Donna Klein. I believe this is the first vegan cookbook I ever bought and it's been wonderful. It doesn't call for any meat substitutes or tofu or tempeh or anything like that. It's just fresh and inherently vegan recipes from the mediterranean that have ingredients that are easy to find at your grocery store. Buy this book!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lunch on the Patio.

This was a valentine's gift to myself: a relaxing, leisurely lunch on the patio with the sun blazing overhead and me shaded underneath an umbrella reading a good book. I can't ask for anything better to do on this gorgeous Sunday. We're lucky to get this kind of weather here while snow storms ravage the majority of the country. I will enjoy it while we have it. So, on to my lunch. I had a platter of dips (hummus and baba ganouj) with pita bread and cucumbers, a Lebanese eggplant and chickpea stew, sweet little clementines and a beer and tomato juice. Yes you heard that right! I used to love Clamato y cerveza when I was omni and the only way I can kind of duplicate that is to use tomato juice instead of Clamato. Tastes great and works for me!

The two dips in the front are hummus and baba ganouj that was leftover from my lunch yesterday at Gaby's Mediterranean cafe. I also had a big thing of hummus that I made last week so I added some of that to my plate as well. Drizzled with olive oil and flanked by cucumbers, this was heaven.

The star of the meal. Mnazalet Al-Batinjan or Eggplant and Chickpea stew from "Tables of Lebanon" cookbook. Easiest recipe ever. It's beautifully fragrant with cumin and mint leaves. The eggplant is so tender, it melts in your mouth. I love this dish.

Scoop some on bread and eat!

Dessert was the chocolate beer waffles from Vegan Brunch cookbook. Yummy! I served them with blueberry/maple syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Muffin Gods Must Be Angry With Me...

You're looking at the bran muffin recipe from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. Now, if I would have followed directions correctly I could have gotten a totally different muffin. But the way things panned out, I got these instead. They are good and well enough but not what I was looking for. You might remember I made oat bran muffins a few weeks ago and didn't get the result I wanted then either. I wanted fluffy, dark brown, sticky and sweet bran muffins that were like the ones I used to buy before I went vegan. I know there's a recipe out there!

So back to these muffins... I made a huge mistake. Robin says to use 3 cups of bran flakes cereal. She also said that if the flakes were especially large, to measure them out first and then crush them into smaller flakes. I totally did this backwards and crushed a bunch of flakes first, then measured them out. Ugh. And I wondered why the batter seemed kind of dry. They baked up small and firm on the outside and a little moist on the inside. I spread Earth Balance margarine on them to make them more special. Again, they are good and healthy but not what I was looking for.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Olive Tapenade Pasta

Used up the leftover olive tapenade to make this pasta. I just sauteed it with olive oil, garlic, red onions and mushrooms and tossed it all with noodles. Simple and delicious!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hummus, Black Olive Tapenade, Black Pepper Cheeze

To continue yesterday's delicious Mediterranean theme, I made a few things to enjoy today. The rain had gone, leaving a bright, breezy and sunny day in it's wake. I was not going to waste a weekend by staying indoors and not enjoy the beauty. I brought my book and a tray of delicious snacks to the patio.

My tray of deliciousness. I made hummus and I always use the same recipe everytime which is from the "Tables of Lebanon" cookbook. It's creamy, lemony and garlicky and just perfect. I also made black olive tapenade, black pepper cheeze and mint iced tea. And of course with all these dips and spreads, I had pita bread and fresh baguette slices.

Black olive tapenade. Recipe from "The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen". It's made with olives, garlic, dijon, capers, herbes de provence and olive oil. So good. I can see this being used to toss with hot pasta.

Black pepper cheeze from "Ani's Raw Food Kitchen", made with cashews, garlic, lemon juice, black pepper and crushed red pepper.

Mmm, can you imagine?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

It's all Greek to me.

I went to the library a few days ago and checked out a Greek cookbook called "The Olive and The Caper". It's not a vegetarian book but there are so many appealing vegetarian recipes in it that I wanted to try out this weekend. I should say that my interest in Greece and greek cooking has been sparked up again because of a suspense novel that I'm reading that takes place in this magical place. (The book is My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart by the way.)

First up, Eggplant and Yogurt Dip. I swapped greek yogurt for plain unsweetened soy yogurt. It's a beautiful mixture of eggplant pulp, yogurt, garlic, red onions and salty black olives. This was amazing. I'm definitely going to make this for parties.

Next, "Russian" Salad. Green beans, carrots, potatoes, in a lemon-caper mayonnaise (vegan mayo of course!). It's supposed to also have lima beans and peas but I left them out. Very good and creamy.

For the main dish I made Gigantes which are big beans in a tomato based sauce. We're supposed to use authentic greek big beans here but large lima beans are a popular replacement. I didn't really use the recipe from the book but instead adapted this recipe I found online. The beans are baked with diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, celery, dill, oregano and olive oil. I replaced the honey with a bit of sugar and left out the carrots. They baked up beautifully (though a little mushy) but were so tasty both warm and at room temp.

Closeup of the tender buttery beans. The dill flavor shined through just the way I had hoped.

My plate with a side of pita for dipping!

To go with the Mediterranean theme, dessert was orange blossom cake with fig yogurt sauce. I used kittee's basic vanilla cake recipe and subbed a little orange juice and orange blossom for some of the water. For the sauce, I just whisked a few spoonfuls of fig jam into plain soy yogurt.

The cake was moist and sweet with orange blossom notes. The yogurt sauce took it to another level. So many beautiful flavors!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Split Pea Soup w/ Baking Powder Dumplings

I pureed last night's soup and made these baking powder dumplings from a recipe I got from the coolest little cookbook I found at the library's "Free" table. Turns out it was published sometime in the late 1920's. There are hardly any vegan recipes in it but I think I can work with them to make them animal free. The dumplings recipe only needed rice milk to switch out for the milk. They came out fluffy and soft, perfect with the hot and creamy soup!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Oriental Salad, Split Pea Soup and Daiya Quesadilla

This was dinner:

Oriental salad with romaine, pea shoots, mandarins, carrots and a sesame dressing.

Curried split pea soup (recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance) and Daiya vegan cheese quesadilla.

Meatloaf sandwich

The day after I make "meatloaf", I look forward to making this. A cold meatloaf sandwich piled high with tomatoes, lettuce, vegenaise and ketchup!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chickpea "Meatloaf"

Finally finally I put The Magical Loaf Studio to use! I've known about this handy recipe generator for over a year and I've been meaning to use it. All you do is pick and choose your ingredients, hit 'submit' and out comes a recipe complete with measurements. How cool is that? I liked meatloaf and I had it all the time growing up. Now that I'm vegan, my loaves are meat-free and even more delicious. I usually make my veggie meatloaves with tofu and vegetables and I've never tried one which comprised mostly of beans. Today's loaf has chickpeas, brazil nuts, whole grain bread crumbs, onions, carrots, garlic, celery, ketchup, soy sauce, black pepper and bbq spice blend (mesquite powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder and other stuff). I also spread a little ketchup on top of the loaf to give it that 1950's touch.

I cut into it about 15 minutes after it came out of the oven. It was moist and very flavorful. If I didn't use bbq type spices in it I would have made a gravy to go with it. I love the versatility of the Loaf Studio and I can't wait to use it again to make an entirely different loaf.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy Monday.

Well, not really happy Monday but you know, I try to be positive at the start of the week. Also a good breakfast doesn't hurt. I had a bowl of Weetabix with bananas and rice milk this morning. It was the perfect start to my day. Lately I've been obsessed with breakfast. I've been eating loads of hot cereals like farina (cream of wheat), oatmeal, oat bran as well as more indulgent foods like pancakes and Monte Cristo sandwiches (these are a breakfast item in my book!). They're not messing around when they say that a good breakfast is an important part of your morning. I've wasted so many years without it. I remember every day of high school, I'd wake up, get ready for school, skip breakfast completely, then around 10am would have a diet coke and a bag of chips at school. Dreadful! College wasn't any better. Now that I'm a proper grown up, haha, I try my best to get in a good breakfast every morning. If anything, it keeps me focused and energized during the day. Also I find that taking the time to enjoy the bit of morning I have free with a bowl of delicious breakfast sets the tone for the day. Today is going to be a good day and like I always say on Monday: it will go by fast!