Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Arroz con Tofu, Lentil Pasta Sauce

When I made these dishes, it was dark and stormy, so these pictures aren’t the best. For the Arroz con Tofu I used a pre-vegan recipe for Arroz con Pollo and simply substituted some baked tofu for the chicken. I baked the tofu in an Italian style marinade, then added it to my rice and veggies. I still don’t have saffron, so this picture is deceiving under the lights on my stove top.

I served it with some spicy pintos and steamed broccoli. See, on my table it’s not really very yellow, as it should be. But what a delicious meal!

Another evening I finally made the Lentil Pasta Sauce from Vive. I’ve wanted to make this for a long time because I love lentils. Again, bad lighting.

For lentil lovers like me, it’s heavenly. I spooned it over zucchini shreds.

Here’s a clean out the fridge goulash.

When my sister was here, I took a day off to take her shopping at this fancy pants new outdoor mall (it was raining then too!). I’m talking Neiman Marcus, Barney’s, Tiffany’s, Betsy Johnson, Coach, Lucky, Cole Haan, Diesel, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton – tiny little tee shirts on sale were still $30 marked down from $75. I didn't know Austin could support these kind of stores.

But there is a Sur la Table, which was about all I was interested in seeing, and it was wonderful. Using great restraint, I walked out with only some disposable pastry bags, a spatula, and this mandolin. It’s double edged, so you can go back and forth over the blades with your whatever you’re slicing. I haven’t tried it out yet, but I did just buy a cucumber, so maybe tonight.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Farewell Foods

It was great spending time this past week with my sister and nephews, and parents and brother. I only got to take one day off from work for all day shopping and dinner, but I also spent several evenings with them, and then on Saturday we had a big family feast at my parents house. They were grilling chicken and also made baked potatoes, broccoli, and fruit salad. I brought “chicken” for Chase to eat, and treats.

First, Creamy Hummus from Vive, a huge hit.

Seitan Chicken from LDV….

…. which became Seitan and Veggies with Marsala Sauce.

I had a taste and it was fantastic. My sister, who had never heard of seitan, asked to try it and thought it was really good, although she kept eating real chicken.

I saw a post somewhere that showed how to slice a pepper, so I thought I would show my unique, and I guess wrong/weird way of slicing.

For sweets I took Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and Raisins which I found on Roxy’s blog.

Everyone liked them, but I wish I had added a teaspoon of vanilla, which I meant to do but forgot.

And I also made Fudgy Brownies from Vive. I think they needed another minute or two of baking. The outside was really good, but the inside tasted raw to me.

Tomorrow I have to say farewell to my trainer I’ve had for three years. I knew this day was coming, but I’m going to miss him so much. I’ve been taking him treats I bake on Sundays, but today I baked a batch of cookies all for him, Coconut Lime Cookies from Vive. I suppose you’ve all made these already, but if not, they are delicately flavored and have a wonderful texture.

It’s weird spending this Sunday all alone. I’m used to having so much family around! Now I'll have a chance to catch up on all my fave blogs.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Green (but not Irish) Food

We’re not Irish, but if we can celebrate with food, we will! We’re a day late, but for dinner tonight we had a green meal.

Okay, I did make IRISH Soda Bread. I got the recipe off Vegweb. This was my first time to make it and I’ve never eaten it before. I’m not sure if it turned out right, but the texture was dense and chewy and for a plain bread, surprisingly flavorful.

Appetizer, a green salad - Broccoli Salad.

Mixed greens with lightly steamed broccoli florets, red onion, sundried tomatoes, raisins, and toasted pumpkin seeds, and a citrus garlic dressing. Confession: I squeezed an orange into my favorite fatfree garlic dressing. What could be better than a broccoli salad!

On the side, Garlic Mashed Lima Beans (why not?) ….

1 bag cooked limas, 3 cloves garlic, soymilk, a tiny bit of EB, and S&P, all blended together in the food processor because they didn’t mash very easily with a masher. These were just as good as any mashed potatoes, and in my mind much healthier.

For the entrée, Blackened Chik’n and Tempeh with Avocado Cream. I used the recipe for Blackened Tempeh from Real Food Daily to season and bake Lightlife Chik’n Strips (just had to try them!) and tempeh strips. The strips were served over avocado cream and drizzled with a maple soy sauce, both recipes I got from the April Bon Appetit and both delicious. The marinade and blackening seasoning were excellent, really spicy. You could have a little of the avocado cream to keep it spicy or a lot to mellow it out. The chik’n and tempeh were equally delicious. Our green plate.....

And for dessert, Green Apple and Green Grape Pie in an oatmeal crust.

Kinda weird looking, huh? This was totally experimental. I sliced the apples into a bowl and tossed in the grapes. I used your basic apple pie spices and some fresh nutmeg, a little brown sugar and cornstarch, and mixed altogether. Then I picked out the apples and layered the slices onto the crust, then put the grapes over the apples. I wasn’t sure how long it should bake, so I just baked it until the apples were soft, about 40 minutes. The sweet green grapes paired perfectly with the tart apples, and the texture contrast of soft apples and plump grapes popping in your mouth was…. unusual, but nice! We did have a little trouble with the grapes rolling off of our forks. Here’s a slice.

Earlier this week I made an Indian Chickpea and Rice recipe that I got in my Veg Times email. I used quinoa instead of rice.

It wasn’t near as spicy and flavorful as what I made last week, but it was a good weeknight meal. The recipe called for raisins, so I used some red raisins I found at the store. (I used them in the broccoli salad too.) They’re new, have you seen them and/or tried them? They’re really red and I think they taste pretty good!

I also made a spicy tempeh and broccoli stirfry and a cold cucumber and tomato salad to go with it.

My sister and nephews arrive tomorrow from Alabama for a week long visit, and Chase will be out of town on Sunday, so I’m not sure how much cooking I’ll get to do or if I’ll have much time at the computer. I’ll leave you for now with VCTOTW chocolate cupcakes with white icing, Aunt Diann’s welcome for her nephews. Not my best work, but I think the boys will like the cute sprinkles – dinosaurs, fish, stars & moons, etc.

Have a great week!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Satay, Soup & Slaw - Thai Style

Before I tell you about food, first let me tell you there’s a rumor going around that the homeless man who accidentally set fire to Mother’s Café was going to cook himself a steak. Our local columnist (NOT my favorite person!) wrote “Ultimate Irony: Meat Fire Brings Down Tofu Joint,” “A fire at a veghead place? Have you ever tried to set fire to a zucchini?” and “first steak ever done at Mother’s.” Mother’s owner said he doesn’t believe that. (Do homeless people carry around steaks?) He also said he has had to run this man off several times because he’s very ornery and likes to berate his patrons. I’m still glad he didn’t get ticketed or fined.

Back to food. Chase came over last tonight for a Thai dinner. I made Tofu Satay from my new cookbook Foods That Don’t Bite Back. It is thinly sliced tofu marinated (the night before) in a peanut sauce and then baked. Since it’s peanutty, we loved it.

For our sides, we made this recipe for Thai Lemongrass-Coconut Noodle Soup, a delicious broth with fresh broccoli, napa cabbage, and carrots, and served over rice noodles. I left the tofu out since it was elsewhere on the menu, and doubled up on the broccoli. This was a very mellow soup, more suited for cold weather or healing. We added some lime juice to bring out more flavor, and also spiced it up with some sriracha. It's topped with lots of fresh basil.

I also made Tofu Mom’s Thai Style Cole Slaw. I used a package of broccoli slaw instead of cabbage and carrots, and also added in some salad greens. I served diced cucumber, tomatoes, and jalapenos on the side for add-ins. The slaw is cold and spicy and the dressing is sweet and delicious!

I had time to make Susan V’s Pineapple Coffee Cake before I started dinner, a recipe many of you have made and has been on my "must make" list. It turned out perfectly and was just as Susan described – a little dense and not too sweet.

Chase said it was great to have a Sunday dinner in the middle of the week. I said it was just soup and salad, but actually it turned out to be quite a nice meal!

Earlier this week I made Leslie’s Sloppy Lentils, finally. I can’t believe I haven’t made these until now. Everyone has raved about them and it is a wonderful and easy to prepare recipe.

Still eating tiny bites of broccoli and wilted salad.

Thanks for all the nice comments on the Indian food post. I hope I live long enough to sample all the recipes I have lined up to cook. I can't wait to see what you all have been up to!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Spicy Indian Dinner

My first homemade Indian dinner was difficult for me to plan. I didn’t want to make the usual Chickpea Curry, but rather something with lots of veggies and a great blend of spices. With all my new cookbooks I had an overwhelming amount of choices and became confused by so many regional variations of recipes. But finally I was inspired by a recipe I already had on hand from a local chef, “Vegetable Pulao,” and by “Indian Spiced Cauliflower” from More Soy of Cooking. I first began with a visit to the Gandhi Bazar.

I bought relishes (which were too oily), coriander chutney (amazingly wonderful), spices, frozen Parathi, and Crispy Cashew Cookies, just in case my cupcakes didn’t work out. (I wanted a cookie soooo bad, and fortunately, they were so crispy they actually crumbled – so I could have one!) Gandhi Bazar was a fabulous grocery store. I have never seen so many dals – dry, split, roasted – and so many spices in all my life. I saw Pillsbury brand Naan and Roti in the freezer! There was rose water and mustard oil in huge bottles, and pastes and curry flavors I never knew existed. And the prices seemed very reasonable. I paid $14 for my things. The green chutney was the most expensive at $2.99 (and the best purchase). I was thrilled to find the green cardamom pods and the asafoetida. I looked up asafoetida on Wikipedia and found that it is also called Devil’s Dung and Stinking Gum, and has a sulfurous odor. I guess that’s an accurate assessment. I can’t really describe how it smells in the bottle, although “dung” didn’t come to mind. I just used a half teaspoon in the cauliflower dish, and it definitely adds an Indian flavor.

The Vegetable Pulao is made with texmati rice, carrots, onions, green peas (frozen), and chickpeas, and is seasoned with bay leaves, green cardamom pods, whole cloves, cumin seeds, stick cinnamon, and a pinch of saffron (tumeric for tonight). It’s garnished with cashews and golden raisins fried in a bit of margarine. The cardamom and the garnish put it over the top. It is incredibly fragrant and totally delicious.

I’m sure it would look prettier with chunkier veggies, but I can only eat tiny pieces in one spot in my mouth without too much pain.

For the Spiced Cauliflower, I changed the ingredients a bit and added the asafoetida, but otherwise followed the recipe. I liked the cumin and cilantro in it, but I actually thought it was pretty bland. I also used more tofu instead of mushrooms (didn’t seem Indian, but maybe would have soaked up more flavor) and added fresh spinach, and I also added a fried onion garnish. The fried onions and a dip in the green chutney helped to make this a quite tasty dish in the end. It took awhile to prepare, and since it wasn’t very flavorful on its own, I don’t know if I’ll make it again. It needs a little work.

I guess it's one of those dishes that looks better than it tastes.

We pan fried the frozen parathi and also served the various store bought relishes and chutneys. Here's our table.

Chase liked the Pulao so much, you get another look at it.

And here are the all the condiments. See how oily the relish is?

Mango seemed to be the proper ingredient for a sweet treat. I used the "Pineapple Right Side Up Cupcakes" recipe from VCTOTW and instead of pineapple, pureed some fresh mango and changed up the spices a bit. These cupcakes are small, only half-filled liners. I made the basic vanilla buttercream frosting and added in toasted coconut for the topper. The mango flavor wasn’t really there, but the little cakes, as always, turned out perfectly, and the coconut topping was a great complement.

This dinner was fun to make. The Pulao was outstanding and didn’t take long to prepare – or eat! I could have left Gandhi Bazar and gone next door to Curry in a Hurry, and I may do that one day. But this meal was definitely delicious Indian fare and definitely vegan!

In other news…….. I forgot to mention on my Wednesday post about a longtime veg restaurant that caught fire. Mother’s Café and Garden opened here in 1980 and has been loved since that time. Ruthie ate there, at my recommendation, when she was in Austin for a visit during Christmas. Early Wednesday morning a homeless man stopped on Mother’s outdoor patio, built a fire, and fell asleep. A cook arrived at 5:00 a.m. to prep breakfast, and shortly thereafter a passerby noticed flames on the patio. A fire department is just blocks away, but the deck and all the beautiful trees were destroyed, and the restaurant suffered heavy smoke damage. Estimated repair cost – half a million dollars. The poor homeless man said he was just trying to keep warm and didn’t mean to fall asleep with a fire going. He received a warning citation for trespassing. So sad.

In still other news…… I went back to the periodontist on Friday to get my stitches out, but didn’t. I am healing nicely, but hardly any stitches have dissolved and there is one particularly painful knot I wish would go away. They wouldn’t take out any stitches, so I had to get more pain pills, the low dose kind, so I can function. I’m still eating mostly mush. I made more kale soup – it’s so good. I’ve missed my daily salads so much! So I’ve started wilting my greens and letting them cool, then adding dressing – voila!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Never Shop When You're Hungry (Score!)

I wasn’t really hungry, just food deprived. Monday I had to take my car back to my mechanic, who for the first time in 10 years didn’t service my car properly. He apologized profusely, said he would fix it right away, free of charge of course, but he would need about an hour. While waiting, I could walk to The Room Store, Fry’s Electronics, the Dollar Store, or the brand new Half Price Books. I had been to this particular bookstore once before when it first opened and only found 2 veg cookbooks, but I decided it was the best way to kill an hour so off I went. Oh, my, I hit the jackpot! I narrowed my choices to THIRTEEN cookbooks (one not shown for my sister) and 2 yoga books. One book, Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian, cost $20, but I got all these books for $120 – each between $4 and $8. (I also got a free tote bag for spending over $30!) I figure with the free car service and all the food I can’t buy at the moment, I came out about even.

I’ve read almost all the books. My favorite by far is Peanut Butter Planet, because I am crazy for peanut butter and peanuts. So is Chase. I’ve decided I must go to Costco and get a gallon of peanut butter to try all the yummy looking recipes.

Half Price Books originated in Dallas about 30 years ago, I think. There are several locations here in Austin, and Emmy recently found one in Chicago. I’ve got a box of meat books I’m going to take over and see if they’ll buy from me.

I haven’t cooked anything from the new books, of course, but here’s the mush I’ve made.

Kale Soup – by far the best thing I’ve been eating. Bazu posted about VeganYumYum’s recipe for this soup. I added a half cup more lentils to mine for a heartier version, since it would be a meal for me. It is incredibly delicious. Sometimes if I need a snack, I just go eat a couple of spoonfuls. I will never get tired of eating this soup!

Baby Food Chili – just mashed up some leftover chili beans.

Pasta Sauce over Shredded Zucchini.

Cauliflower Puree I morphed into Arugula Soup. I miss my salads so much, so this really hit the spot.

Mashed Black Beans and Rice with (a not so good) Avocado.

Red Lentils.

and two treats -

an Oatmeal Smoothie made with a frozen banana, ½ cup chocolate soy milk (I found chocolate milk in my fridge – thanks, Mom!), a dash of vanilla, 1 t. agave, and ¼ cup raw oats. I got my chocolate fix and the oats made it very filling.

and Peanut Butter Oatmeal – prepared oatmeal with a teaspoon of creamy pb, a dash of cinnamon, and a little agave. I got my pb fix, and again very filling.

What boring pics. I promise not to post any more mush. Unless it’s something amazing, but nothing could surpass the kale soup – try it!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Successful Surgery and a Bit of Sunday Cooking

After what I’m told was a successful two hour surgery and bone graft, I am home and relatively comfortable. This recovery is not nearly as awful as the last one, even though this one was more extensive. Perhaps the techniques have evolved or my periodontist is just more experienced. My parents took excellent care of me this weekend, Chase was a huge help to me today, and I had lots of calls and emails from friends. And of course, thanks again to all of you for your well wishes, sympathy, empathy, and sound advice.

I have been eating soft fruits (fresh mango!), oatmeal, mushy lentils, Amy’s soups, and some pureed cauliflower I made last week. Everything has to be room temp, and it’s still quite painful to eat or drink anything. But I have been off vicodin since Saturday afternoon and hope to stay off. I have to take xanax before bed so I won’t clench, and then there’s 2 antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory to take for another week. This is what I see first thing every morning and last thing before bed …..

The roof of my mouth feels huge and very hairy with all the stitches, and my speech is a bit lispy. I have a just a touch of a cough left over from the flu, and I’ve finally gotten rid of a monster headache, which I think is from the 20 shots of novocaine! My dad told me I have a dead guy’s bones in my mouth now. I said that’s better than a dead cow’s bones. I guess I mean that. I believe in donating organs, and not that I know anything about it, but I think my body would prefer human rather than animal parts in it.

Enough of that, and on to food!

Chase came over this afternoon and went to the store for me and made the most awesome Tofu a la King! He made a simple white sauce, then seasoned it and added in the tofu and a bag of frozen peas and carrots. I made his favorite English Toasting Bread to serve it on. Some like to serve it on rice or noodles, but it’s great over homemade toasted bread. We made a salad with the arugula from the farmers market, steamed broccoli, and for me – boiled to mush sweet potatoes from the farmers market. I had a little of the sauce (it was really excellent) on the sweet potatoes, and I did get a couple of broccoli trees that were very small and soft. I was so happy!

Chase thought you would like to see some different table angles. I guess he thought you’d enjoy seeing how much we mess up the kitchen on Sundays.

I did feel like baking cupcakes this morning. My nephews from Alabama are coming to visit in a couple of weeks and they are crazy for cupcakes at the moment, so I thought I had better start practicing. Good thing I have I have a copy of VCTOTW! Today I decided to bake Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes because I had 4 farmers market oranges left. Of course these cupcakes did not disappoint. I made orange flavored cupcakes (Isa’s cupcakes turn out perfectly every time)….

orange pudding to fill them with…..

and orange buttercream frosting. Yes, these were soft enough for me to eat. And they had vitamin C!

Thanks again SO MUCH to all of you for helping me through my “ordeal.” I’m quite tired right now. I’ll be staying home tomorrow for one more day of rest and catching up on home things, and I’ll be by to visit your blogs then.