Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sizzling Corn, Roasted Salt, and “Why Didn’t I Think of That?”

Earlier this week I made Urban Vegan’s 10 Minute Meal No. 48 and served it over rice. I call it Sizzling Corn - quick, delicious, perfect.

Did you see that she's done something similar this week with zucchini stuffing? I wish I had seen that post before I made this - an Italian Stirfry of fresh broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and parsley. I served it with cannelini beans, and fresh sliced tomatoes.

I came across a recipe I had torn out from Sabroso! magazine, a wonderful but not really veg friendly southwestern magazine. The recipe is "Roasted Pepper-Salt." It’s simply ½ cup kosher salt and ¼ cup peppercorns roasted 5 minutes over medium heat in a dry skillet. The recipe recommends Szechuan peppercorns, which I thought I had but didn’t, so I used black peppercorns and red pepper flakes. Warning: turn on the hood vent before you begin cooking!

Grind it up when the 5 minutes are up, and sift to remove any pepper husks. The red peppercorns would have been much prettier.

I tried some on fresh tomatoes.

The chef also recommended using green chili peppercorns. Have you ever run across these? I’ve never seen them. He also says any peppercorns can be used, and the seasoning is all purpose. Use it in soups, on salads, and in breakfast scrambles. If I hadn’t inhaled the red pepper flakes so thoroughly, I might be able to give a better critique. Anyway, I thought it was interesting.

THE BEST thing I ate this week was a Hummus Spring Roll at a favorite lunch spot called Koriente. Why do we all think hummus has to go in a pita? Look at this roll – it was fabulous! The pic is from the website, but I swear what I got looked just like this.

Hummus Roll: $4 Our homemade hummus, avocado, organic greens, red cabbage, cucumbers and carrots in a thin tapioca wrap. Served with your choice of peanut sauce or a spicy red pepper sauce.

It was incredibly good, stuffed tight with all those crispy veggies and creamy hummus. The hummus was like Dreena's!

I also got this…

Spicy Noodle Salad: $3 A spicy vegan treat made with a wide variety of vegetables and chilled myung bean noodles tossed in a spicy korean pepper dressing.

They also brought us a special tea "on the house" because they thought they took too long to serve us. It was all of 3 minutes. A tiny handmade bulb was put into the bottom of a glass pitcher, and when the waiter poured the hot water over it, the bulb bloomed so big it filled the pitcher. It was just beautiful and smelled heavenly.

Who’s ready for the long weekend? I am, I am!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Texas Tandoori

I’m not sure if that’s proper nomenclature, but we grilled Indian spiced veggies and tofu for one of the best meals ever. I used the marinade for "Mixed Grill" from World Vegetarian and it was fabulous. We had our first grilled broccoli and cauliflower, along with onions, portobellos, peppers, potatoes, zucchini, and tofu.

One mishap. I must have thought this pepper was from the farmers market, but it had a grocery store sticker I didn’t see.

I had so much fun making chutneys. Chase found the elusive curry leaves for me at our neighborhood Gandhi Bazar and I am completely in love with the flavor they impart.

I made a cooked tomato chutney, using my favorite parts of many different recipes, which was perfect with all the grilled veggies, and added great color.

I also made a cilantro chutney, which tasted just like my favorite jarred chutney from Gandhi, so I just added it to my near empty store bought jar. Chase made a tamarind “yogurt” chutney, but wasn’t happy with it. The BEST chutney recipe came from this week’s food section in our local paper. It’s made with ridged gourds which I buy frequently from my neighborhood grocer. (They’re called Chinese okra there and I buy them because they look like star shaped zucchinis!) The article was entitled “Vegan Chutney Wins Our Hearts.” One of the editors had just become a father and his in-laws from India came to help out with the baby and household chores. One day he brought a chutney (which he called “Indian guacamole”) to work for his colleagues to enjoy on toasted bread. The food editor was so impressed she asked for the recipe and the opportunity to watch it being made. Here’s the link to this wonderful article with the recipe and excellent ingredient tips. And here’s how mine turned out.

We also made "Lentils with Spinach" from World Vegetarian.

And "Coconut Milk Rice" from Rice and Spice which was like risotto and fabulous.

My plate.

I needed a colorful cool salad, so I tossed together one with greens, slaw, cilantro, chickpeas, radish, mango, and tomatoes – yum!

Peanut Butter cookies were our treats. I made Isa’s big soft cookies from this recipe on ppk. These were OMG fantastic! I made the whole batch of 40. I substituted spelt flour for the whole wheat. I added chocolate chips to one third, craisins to another third, and the other third were plain. The ones with craisins were my fave.

The cookies were also a great snack while we prepared dinner.

Chase starts classes tomorrow and has a full load this semester, so we’re going to do family feasts on Saturdays instead of Sundays. The only thing I dread about school starting is the 50,000 students who return to UT and create a traffic nightmare. My commute time will now double and that makes for a dreadfully long work week. I'm going to try to post more frequently with make-ahead and portable type meals for my hard working student, and I also need to get more creative for myself. My diet seems so limited without tofu and wheat (seitan) and although I've been enjoying lots of salads and steamed veggies, I've really gone into a summer slump.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pizza with Broccoli Pesto

We had our family dinner on Saturday when scheduling conflicts arose Friday evening. We made a trip to Whole Foods in the afternoon, then came home and got busy making pizzas.

Chase has decided he loves pesto. I’ve made pesto maybe twice in the past year. So when I saw Celine’s recipe for Broccoli Pesto, I mean, how perfect is that for me and my family! This pesto so good and just beautiful. We had it as a snack with crackers, and then made it the base for our pizzas. I recommend all broccoli lovers make this pesto ASAP. (Celine, I also made some of your delicious cookies I’ll get to in the dessert portion.) Here’s the pesto.

We made two pizzas, one on a pizza stone and one on a baking sheet. They both were made with homemade whole wheat crust and topped with pesto, then spinach, then sauce, then veggies – zucchini, mushrooms, onions, red peppers, tomatoes – then lots of tofu and some cheez for Chase, and finally topped with fresh parsley and basil. It was so tasty you get 4 shots.

I also made two salads – a green salad, and a white bean salad with red pepper, tomatoes, purple onion, and a light dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and parsley.

I think this next picture is a little blurry, but doesn't my table look unusually sparse?

I made Peach Muffin Cake for our dessert. I used this recipe, which I love because it has no sugar in it. I had run out of spelt flour as the recipe called for, so I used 1 cup oats and 1 cup GF baking mix for my flours. I also didn’t need to add any apple juice to my batter, and I diced all the peaches. I did add a bit of sucanat, because I had a mix of farmers market and store bought peaches and of course the store boughts weren’t sweet enough. My family likes sweets, but like many of you, what we really like is flavor and this cake really lets the peaches shine through.

It was especially good slightly warmed with Good Karma Very Vanilla ice creme. This is hard to say, but Good Karma is right up there with my hometown NadaMoo!

Earlier in the week I made Celine’s Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies. Please make these awesome cookies using brown rice and spelt flour. Two sugar free, wheat free treats for me in one week!

I’ve also enjoyed Celine’s Rice Flour Banana Muffins. I think I’m hooked on brown rice flour now, but I’m not complaining.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Our Beach Vacation

You may remember a few weeks ago we took our first vacation in several years. We arrived in Galveston late on a Sunday afternoon. We went to the beach as fast as we could. We were pleased to see a clean beach with few people.

We spent all the next day at the beach. I can’t tell you how great it was to be out of the rain we had been dealing with at home. Here, no clouds, nothing but sunshine.

As we are not ones to just sit on a beach towel all day, Chase and I spent all our time riding the waves on boogie boards. We must have ridden in a hundred times, and each ride was a thrill. We waded out…

…. waited for a good wave….

….then rode it in….

… and waited to do it all over again. I am always happy at the beach. I’m sure my face never looks like this in my office.

Taking a break.

The seawall.

We went downtown each night for dinner and strolling, sightseeing, and shopping. Sunday night in Galveston is not the same as it is in Austin. Most places were closed and we only managed salads and so-so veggie burgers for dinner. We noticed a Mediterranean restaurant and checked it out for the next night. It turned out to be great. I wish this picture had turned out better, because Chase’s Falafel Salad was excellent. It was a nice tossed salad with halved falafel patties drizzled with hummus surrounding it, and spicy salsa mounded in the middle. I gotta make my own version of this.

I was having serious broccoli cravings, but made do with this yummy fried cauliflower and tahini sauce.

We also got a veggie kabob platter.

The next night we scored at a Chinese buffet – plenty of steamed broccoli and other veggies, steamed rice, salads, fruits, and even veggie sushi.

One evening downtown we happened upon this giant chess match.

We spent one afternoon at Moody Gardens in the Tropical Rain Forest Pyramid. The grounds are beautiful. Here we are at the entrance.

Here’s Liz looking lovely in a tropical setting.

Many of the birds and small animals are free roaming inside the pyramid. Crystal, I waited and waited for two sloths to come down from the tree tops so I could a get a picture for you, but you know how slow they are! I did get a shot of a shy lemur. I love his big round eyes on his little round head.

Two turtles on a log.

A pair of parrots, one waving to Chase!

We were fortunate to enjoy a full moon while in Galveston, so walks on the beach at night were amazing – a time of reflection, meditation, soothing, and appreciation.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A No Cook Sunday Dinner & Birthday Cupcakes

Sunday was the first time we reached our normal high temp of 100 degrees. Inspired by Urban Vegan, Megan, DGMGV, and Vegan Noodle (sorry if I’ve left anyone out) we made a Sushi and Summer Roll Sunday dinner. We used half sheets of nori for the sushi and they were difficult not to overstuff. Chase made most of it. He got creative and rolled up some baked tofu along with red pepper, daikon, and cucumber.

I tried to be creative with the summer rolls. We filled the rolls with leafy greens, broccoli slaw, cilantro, mango, avocado, onion chives, and baked tofu. I wanted a couple of rolls without tofu for myself. To distinguish the rolls, I rolled the filling without tofu halfway, then added the chives, more cilantro, and the tofu (or not) so you could clearly see which roll was which.

I also made a yummy salad with spinach, mung bean sprouts, radish, oranges, mango, craisins, and peanuts. The fruit was so juicy I only needed a little dressing, so I mixed up 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce, maple syrup, and cider vinegar, and just a teaspoon of sesame oil.

I even changed up the broccoli and added a miso dressing using a recipe from The Saucy Vegetarian.

What a nice, light, and refreshing meal. Here’s a plate…..

… and the table.

I have been anxious to make Green Bean Swirl Bread ever since I saw it on Dr. Stonielove’s blog. The green paste is verrrry sticky and a little difficult to work with, but this is a delicious, slightly sweet bread. My top separated - that's never happened before - but we just overlooked that.

Isn’t it pretty (pretending the top is fine)? I’m envisioning a version with cherries in it for Christmas. I toasted slices of the bread and added fresh fruits and NadaMoo vanilla for our dessert. The bread is really nice toasted.

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. She requested VWAV Lemon Gem Cupcakes. I reminded my nonvegan mother that she was asking for vegan treats, and she assured me those were her favorites. Yay! We like cake and not so much the frosting. Here’s what I hastily baked Monday night.

They were the best batch I’ve ever made. The cake was so soft and lemony. Last night we went out to eat at my mom’s favorite seafood restaurant. She called ahead and was assured the chef could prepare two vegan entrees. On most occasions, Chase and I have been very well accommodated. But last night we were shocked when the waitress told us the chef could make us baked potatoes without butter. I almost said, Well I would hate for him to go to any trouble. But we made out okay. We ordered broccoli without hollandaise, sugar snap peas in sesame garlic sauce, and soba noodles without crab on top. Nothing was picture worthy, except the decoration on my mom’s dessert.

That's it for the family birthdays until next year.