Sunday, September 16, 2007

We’ve Been Artful Vegans

Saturday night we made “Broad Noodles with Southeast Asian Peanut Pesto and Five-Spice Baked Tofu” from The Artful Vegan. Though we’re not big fans of pasta, we thought it was time to make a noodle dish, so we were happy to find one without tomato sauce. This recipe is an array of interesting flavors that come together for a light but satisfying entrée. It’s probably one of the easier recipes from this book. You can bake the tofu, make the pesto, and cook the fettucine ahead of time, then it all comes together like a quick stirfry.

I’ll begin with what I found at the farmers market Saturday morning.

The peanut pesto is to be made with fresh roasted peanuts, so I was glad to see the peanut vendor Saturday morning. I used the green beans and one-third of the monstrous zucchini (which was $1) for side dishes. The hot chilies were used several times. The gala apples are for baking a nonvegan cake for my mom (who doesn’t have or want a stove) to take to the IGNC Fall Fiesta. My parents are very active in the Austin Chapter of the IGNC and I’ve been baking for their events for many years.

Now for the dinner. First I baked the tofu in the five-spice sauce. The house smelled so good while it baked. It baked for about 40 minutes, until it had a caramel glaze.

After you shell almost half a bag of peanuts (boring!), you make the pesto. I must say as a peanut lover eating her first fresh roasted peanuts, these were amazingly delicious. The pesto was a wonderful blend of the peanuts, cilantro, mint, Kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, and chili pepper.

While the fettucine cooks, prep your stirfry veggies, and when the noodles are done, stirfry, and you end up with this:

For myself, I reserved some pesto and added it to rice and then put some veggies on top, so my wheatfree soyfree plate looked like this:

I HAD to have a bite of the real deal. My rice version wasn’t anywhere near as good as the noodle version. The peanuts in the pesto gave the noodles a parmesan look and feel. If you have The Artful Vegan, I recommend you give this recipe a try.

Early in the day I made tortilla size sesame seed crackers from the King Arthur Baking cookbook. Chase liked them; I didn’t. All I can say is they certainly look homemade.

I also made a salad. Do you ever substitute zuke for cuke? I always leave the skins on, but I recently ruined a cucumber salad because of some very bitter skins. So I’ve been subbing in raw zucchini in a lot of cucumber salad recipes. I made this simple salad of zucchini, mango, purple onion, cilantro, lime juice, and S&P. We ate lots of this.

While Chase stirfried, I steamed the green beans and tossed them with lots of garlic, some cilantro, and a spicy red pepper. We ate all of these – yum!

Finally, a dessert of my own creation (mostly) with not spectacular results. Here’s the step-by-step.

The crust was super fantastic, better than I dreamed of. It was inspired by “Barley Coconut Crust” from ExtraVeganza. I mixed together 1-1/2 cups ground oats, 1 cup toasted unsweetened coconut, ½ cup sweetened coconut, 3 tablespoons brown rice syrup, 2 tablespoons canola oil, and a pinch of salt. I pressed it in the pie plate and baked it at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, until very brown.

When cool, I layered on sliced bananas.

I made a double recipe of “Banana Cream Pudding” (which is really vanilla pudding on top of bananas) from More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts. I only used half of it. This was an omen that I had just goofed. I poured the pudding on top of the bananas.

I put the pie in the fridge to set. After a few hours I took it out to finish. It didn’t spill out, so I was hopeful the pudding had set well. I topped it with toasted coconut and “Ultimate Chocolate Sauce” also from MGGDFD. I only made half a batch of that, thank goodness, because it truly is the ultimate in chocolatey goodness.

Isn’t it beautiful? Too bad the pudding didn’t set.

I think I didn’t cook the pudding long enough. The recipe says to simmer one minute, but maybe since I doubled it I should have cooked it longer. I was terribly afraid of ending up with rubber, so I didn’t want to overdo. But this deserves another attempt. The crust is like those Nature Valley granola bars that are really crunchy, and the coconut flavor is so nice. The pudding was made with my cherished Mexican vanilla that imparts such a wonderful flavor and my bananas were the perfect ripeness. And then topped with Ultimate Chocolate Sauce. Oh, yeh, it deserves another shot.

Chase and I are going to a vegan baking class at Whole Foods on Wednesday night. I have a few questions I need to ask! I’m not familiar with the guest instructor. Here’s a description of the class.

Vegan Baking 6:30–8:30 p.m. $45
Lex Townes, Chef, Veg Advantage
Lex Townes trained at the New York Restaurant School, has more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant world and now works solely on developing vegan and vegetarian dining options with Veg Advantage. Here is your opportunity to add some innovative recipes to your dessert repertoire! Lex will demonstrate and discuss techniques for creating scrumptious vegan desserts, as well as share tips on substitutions you can successfully make to convert favorite recipes to favorite vegan recipes. Guests will sample: Avocado Key Lime Parfait; Chocolate Layer Cake with Vegan Mousse; Coconut Ginger Ice Cream Sandwiches; Fruit Tart with Lemon Pastry Cream.

I hope I have time for a broccoli salad before class because I’m not used to a dinner of desserts only! If any of you have any questions for the chef, let me know before Wednesday evening and I’ll be glad to ask him.
I promise to visit you all soon!


Vegan_Noodle said...

What a beautiful creation! I would be licking my plate of all that banana pudding goodness.

That tofu dish from the artful vegan looks amazing as well, what a unique pesto!

Can't wait to hear about how your cooking class goes. Hope you get some broccoli beforehand!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Oh, and yes, I'm definitely planning on heading to the cook off! Meeting up with you and veganasm sounds great!

Emilie said...

I can't help but love the Artful Vegan, thanks for pointing out that particular recipe, it's good to know it's one of more manageable ones in there and it looks delicious. Your crust inspired by ExtraVeganza looks great--I'll have to give that book another try. I made one or two things from it and disliked both so I haven't looked at it since...but it seems to deserve another peek.

VeggieGirl said...

wow, I never thought of using peanuts for pesto - what a brilliant idea! it takes peanut butter/spread to a whole new level of sophistication :0)

the final dish, after all your preparation with the tofu, peanuts, and other ingredients, looks divine! and your wheat-free/soy-free plate looks quite delicious as well. I really need to get a copy of "The Artful Vegan," for sure!

That pie certainly is a beautiful creation, Diann - and even though the pudding didn't set, it still looks tantalizing to me!! :0)

How fun to have a vegan cooking class at your Whole Foods - I always look at the cooking class calendar at my Whole Foods, and the classes always revolve around grilling meats and cooking with dairy and/or eggs. I hope you have fun!! Be sure to share photos of what you make :0)

Vegan*asm said...

Peanut pesto? Five Spice Tofu? That sounds right up my alley. I need to check into those classes at Whole Foods. It would be fun to take a vegan baking class, or any vegan class for that matter.

laura jesser said...

I've heard much about the Artful Vegan; your meal looks fabulous but from what I hear the recipes can be quite time-consuming. I'd still love to give it a try sometime, though! Your pie is lovely and I think that if the pudding had set better it would be absolutely perfect!

Anonymous said...

Even if your pie didn't turn out, I still think it looks fabulous and I would have happily devoured a slice (or two!).

Anonymous said...

so many beautiful photos, so many beautiful foods! i have the artiful vegan book, but i only tried the chocolate cake... looking at your photo, i feel like i should open that book again! your sesame seed cracker looks so nice... mmm!

Monika K said...

I'm definitely making that pesto - I love peanuts! Your baking class sounds fantastic - can't wait to hear about how it went.

Have a great week!

Emmie said...

You're so awesome. Every time you update there's plenty of incredible looking food. If I ever go to the U.S and Texas I'll make sure I find out where you live and then I'll sneak in and eat all your food!

Everything looks fantastic. I'd kill for that pasta dish. This is making me want to buy The Artful vegan so much.

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

Your Artful Vegan dish looks georgous! I have the book & eaten at Millennium - so very decadent. Can't wait to see some of the desserts you & Chase learn to cook!! :)

bazu said...

Hey I love tomato sauce and pasta (traditionalist, I guess!) but love your different take on things. And, I've never thought to replace cucumbers with zucchini, because I love cucumbers so much! That salad looks excellent, though.

I can't wait to hear how your class at WF goes, keep us posted!

Ruthie said...

Yum Yum Yum! :-)

We get a cilantro-peanut thai pesto when we go to the pasta joint in town. Its SO good and greasy!

Kumudha said...

When I think of pasta, I always think of tomato sauce. The pasta looks so good!

So many wonderful vegan dishes.

erica said...

Diann, that is the most wonderful compliment anyone has given me for quite a while! I'm fine, really, I've just been in a "not eating much" phase, which I go through sometimes (even when I was small). It's been a horribly stressful few months for me, and yoga teacher training is on the cusp of beginning.

I love love love love love how much fresh vegis you always have. I just ate and you're making me hungry again :)

Peggy the Veggie said...

The “Broad Noodles with Southeast Asian Peanut Pesto and Five-Spice Baked Tofu” looks VERY artful indeed! Your plate looks especially lovely and colourful.

I always use yummy zucchini instead of cukes- cucumbers are one of the only fruits or vegetables I don't like (the others are potatoes, avocado, and artichoke). Your salad looks divine!

Your banana pudding pie looks really great! I think that I might try making that crust sometime just to use as granola bars, since I can remember liking those Nature Valley ones.

Ooh, have fun at the baking class!

Judy said...

I am so intrigued by the peanut pesto, it sounds so good. And your pie at the end looks lovely, even if it wasn't set perfectly. You can always salvage sweets!

The Little Vegan said...

Thanks for the super-nice comments on my blog!

Oh, and that banana pudding pie looks to-die-for! I am almost ready to drive the four hours to Austin just to barge into your home and have some ;o).

springsandwells said...

Hi Diann!
Wow, what a great post. I will definitely check out that recipe in the Artful Vegan. As you've probably noticed, I have made a few recipes out of that book this summer... but a recommendation is most helpful!

Also, I think that pie is stunning! Sorry the pudding didn't set, but I definitely agree that it's worth another try. Maybe I'll have to give it a try! :)

Can't wait to hear the details from the vegan baking class... I wish we had something like that here in Santa Cruz.

Also - off topic - it was great to hear about your free day of yoga! We don't have that event here in Santa Cruz, but it's a cool idea. Maybe we could get it started up for next year.

:) amey

urban vegan said...

I have to remember to bake tofu more often. It's easy and damn tsty, to quote a now famous cookbook.

Fruit species said...

Those green beans are nice. I always try to have them in my meal..

erica said...

Hey there - that website does look like it has some really good classes. Are you going to take some?

Carrie™ said...

The cooking class sounds like fun. I did one a few years ago at a health food store and came away with some great tips and good recipes. All of your dishes look amazing.

scottishvegan said...

Wow, it all looks so good! Even though the pie didn't set it looks fabulous! I can't wait to hear about your cooking class.