Sunday, September 30, 2012

I'm a VeganMoFo - for the Whole Month!

I'm a VeganMoFo for the whole month of October!

No, I'm not swearing at you or myself, a VeganMoFo is a vegan month of food, created by Post Punk Kitchen six years ago and this year more than 600 bloggers will be participating (that's a whole lotta vegan blog posts!!)

Doing what exactly? Well, we will be posting at least 20 posts this month all related to vegan food. Posts can contain recipes, restaurant or product reviews, or simply ramblings about veganism. Who knows what we'll see, it's my first time, it's just an adventure!

All of my posts will involve something from my DIY Pantry series, and will include the VeganMoFo badge to the left. Of course it will all be recipes, so stay tuned.

And in case you're a regular reader of this blog and are wondering if the lack of meat and dairy in my posts over the past several months means that I've gone vegan, well, not quite, but perhaps someday! But vegan cooking is still so fascinating to me that I will likely continue this trend for some time.

I have added the VeganMoFo blog roll to my blog roll if you're interested in seeing what others are doing. Personally, I think I'll spend more time reading blogs this month than actually cooking!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Savory Onion Tofu Scramble

Tofu scramble - it's not the latest craze - and while I'm pretty late to that party, I have to tell you that this version is really worth checking out. The basic recipe is from Post Punk Kitchen, naturally, but the added savory onion is my inspiration.

Part of my reluctance to try out the tofu scramble was because I was never a big fan of eggs to begin with. I have such an aversion to cooked eggs that the current fashion of putting a fried egg on top of just about anything - pizza, salad, toast - makes my stomach do olympic size flip flops. In the past when I have eaten eggs, it was only scrambled and very very well done. So anything mimicing my least favorite food was never at the top of my must-make list.

However, upon spying a recipe at Post Punk Kitchen's blog, I knew it was time to give it a go since Isa Chandra is a vegan goddess. It didn't disappoint. Her special spice mixture not only makes the scramble taste fantastic, but her method of making sure the tofu developes a lovely brown crust was my idea of heaven! Of course the real taste test is with my omnivore friends, who were convinced I was lying about the tofu in the scramble, Skol!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tarragon Artichoke Potato Salad

Potato salads seem to be a dime a dozen but not all are created equal! Being from the Midwest my mom raised us on the traditional creamy potato and hard-boiled egg version, which is beloved by many. But here's a decidedly French take that is lighter and still full of fresh flavor - packed with tarragon, artichoke hearts, and red bell peppers. I add just a touch of vegenaise (or mayonnaise if you chose) to provide the creaminess that makes this my new favorite comfort food.

If you're able to find multi-colored potatoes such as red and blue it makes this dish so festive and pretty. Feel free to add green bell peppers or even a mix of red and green. However, the fresh tarragon is not optional, it is the star of this dish!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Forbidden Rice Bowl

When is an ordinary bowl not so ordinary? When it's chock full of lip-smacking goodness! There are lots of variations on the "bowl," by which I mean a bowl full of grains, layered with vegetables and a protein, smothered in some sort of sauce. Vegetarian and vegan restaurants love to offer these, and places as low brow as Take a Bao to higher consciousness establishments like Cafe Gratitude also provide similar fare. For me, it's just a great lunch, for home or work.

While the version you see above was my need to clean out some of my unused pantry items, do not think that you need something fancy for tummy-rubbing satisfaction. It truly is a simple formula:

- cooked grains in the bottom of the bowl (rice, quinoa, barley)
- topped with chopped veggies - carrots, greens, bell peppers, cabbage, you name it
- crowned with a protein - beans, tofu, mushrooms
- slathered in some sort of sauce (or dressing, depending on your word preference)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jicama, Corn and Herb Salad

Do you know jicama? If not, allow me to introduce you to one of the more curiouser root vegetables that you have yet to meet. Native to Mexico it has migrated to the far East and has been described as a cross between a potato and a water chestnut. Sweet and crunchy, starchy and crisp, it pairs really well with citrus, especially lime, and a pinch of chili powder like cayenne really brings it to life.

Individual jicama are usually fairly large, so ask your produce clerk to cut it in half for you. Chock full of vitamin C, A and B - belying the myth that only green veggies are healthy - you will probably only find it in special stores (Latino, Carribbean, Asian) if you are not living in Southern California.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"Pigs in the Blanket" with Vegan Merguez Sausage

One of my favorite food memories of my childhood revolved around when my parents would throw Bridge parties (the trick-taking card-game). The next morning my sisters and I would race downstairs to feast on the leftover nibbles from the party - assorted cheeses, mixed salted nuts - and if we were really lucky a leftover "pig in the blanket." What is that you may ask? Pigs in the blanket are '70s haute hors d'oeuvres whereby mini smoked sausages were wrapped in puff pastry (most likely Pilsbury crescent dough) and baked with the little edges sticking out. For kids they were almost better than candy!

Fast forward several decades and fond memories of those morning feasts led me to recreate that fun with my DIY vegan merguez sausages. Sure, I could have used puff pastry but with homemade tortillas in the house and my lazy-cooking bone screaming at me, tortillas it was. Although these were an inventive way to use the merguez I had recently made, you could easily buy vegan sausages at your favorite natural food store and do the same.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Merguez Sausage (Vegan) - DIY Pantry

Take a gander at that photo above, kind of eye catching, right? Not for its photographic qualities but for its meat-like qualities. Folks, what you see before you is a vegan, gluten-free, homemade sausage. This is the stuff of dreams, at least mine! It has the chewy texture of real meat without the gummy-ness of gluten based, vegan sausages. And such flavor! Even eaten cold, my omnivore friends pronounced it delicious!

And while I'm crowing about the look, feel and taste of this beauty, let me give myself one more pat on the back because this is my own recipe! After discovering the steaming technique for making vegan sausages with beans and vital wheat gluten that apparently took the vegan world by storm in 2011, I made a recipe but didn't follow the directions very well and ended up with super gummy, overly glutenous sausages that nearly destroyed my intestines. So I went tooling around the web looking for a recipe without gluten. I found a variety of them, but none of them looked very promising. Putting on my thinking cap I pondered how to substitute ingredients that would mimic what vital wheat gluten does.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Asian Sauteed Collard Greens

Eat your greens! is a resounding cry that nutritionists will tell anyone trying to eat a more healthy diet. And while this is true, the caveat to this suggestion is dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and collard greens also contain what are known as fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K. In lay terms this means that eating those cooked greens along with a little of bit of healthy fat is the best way for your body to extract those vitamins from your food. Without the fat, the vitamins will pass through your system and eating your greens was all for naught!

Healthy fats are the non-saturated ones such as olive oil, seed and nut oils - sunflower, safflower, peanut - or even coconut oil. So sauteing your greens in a little oil and adding some seasonings is a great way to ensure you get all of the benefits of those great greens.