Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cool Food for Hot Days

The past 16 days have brought record heat to Austin with temperatures between 100 and 107 degrees every day. It couldn’t even cool off at night. Several people I know had their a/c go out, including my mom. Our office a/c went out too. Thankfully, today we caught a bit of a cool front and even got some rain. It’s been rather pleasant. I’ve been eating tons of cold food, and even when I would cook dinner, I wouldn’t eat it until it was room temp.

My last CSA box included much of the same, squash, oriental cukes, carrots, onions, and chard. Not pictured are cherry tomatoes, radishes, garlic, beets, and red potatoes. My prize was finding this gorgeous heirloom included!

I haven’t eaten an heirloom tomato in ages. I simply sliced it and ate it with just a bit of salt.

I had forgotten how completely delicious they are. It was like eating the tomatoey-est tomato juice you can imagine. Simply fabulous.

I’ve also made a great big cucumber, onion, and tomato salad, which I seasoned with basil and salt.

There’s been many many batches of Green Smoothie Dressing to go on everything, from green salads I take to work to leftover steamed broccoli.

Of course there was more raw beets to eat. I had been hesitant to put them in my spiralizer, but I finally relented and ended up with a lovely bowl of red and gold beets and a few radishes. Jessy, can we call these *boodles*?

I got a near-empty jar of Dijon mustard, thinned it with water, and poured it over the beets for my dressing.

I mentioned in my last post that it was my brother’s birthday. I was thrilled that he (not vegan) asked me to bake him the Moosewood Deep Chocolate Vegan Cake. I made it for my own birthday last year and it was beautiful.

Sadly, I knew a layer cake would never last being transported in my car to my mom’s house with an air conditioner that had only been working a few hours. So it looked like this. (My brother is much older than the number of candles on the cake!)

Quality trumps beauty! I made it using my best Scharffenberger cocoa and 99% chocolate. Bro loved it, once again proclaiming it the most delicious, moist, richest, and best cake ever. I think it has a lot to do with the fantastically yummy peanut butter frosting. I just had to take this picture.

A funny restaurant story – when we were eating out for our birthday dinner, there were no vegan entrées, so I ordered sides of asparagus, sugar snap peas, and mushrooms, then handed the waiter my menu. He said, Ma’am, you forgot to order your entrée!

Before I end, I want to ask you all to go visit my blogger friend Judy. I’ve been following her for several years and have admired her cooking and baking skills, even when the food wasn’t vegan. Well, now she has publicly declared her decision to go completely vegan! Please let her know how delighted you are and go give her some love.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge – Bakewell Tart

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Well, this Texas lady has never seen or tasted a Bakewell Tart, and I admit I had no idea what I was supposed to be baking. I was not confident enough to do anything but follow the recipe as written, making vegan substitutions of course. The dessert was easy enough to make. It didn’t take a lot of time and was pretty easy to veganize.

If you are like me and unfamiliar with this dessert, it is a sweet almond pie crust, a layer of jam, and frangipane. Frangi-huh? This was the part that really threw me. As far as I know, I’ve never eaten a dessert with frangipane. Heck, I don’t even know how to pronounce it. The recipe called for three eggs, and I’m not sure I made a proper vegan equivalent.

What I did make was a delightfully soft tart dough, which baked up quite nicely. I wish I had had time to make homemade jam, but I relied on seedless Strawberry Allfruit, which I think is wonderful. And I confess I used a lot of jam, probably too much. It’s just that the crust and the frangipane are mostly butter and the jam was the only relatively healthy aspect of this dessert. I figured based on 8 servings, your slice of tart would net you about 800 calories.

So here’s how it looked out of the oven.

And here’s a slice.

As you can see, I didn’t achieve the layering aspect that a correctly prepared Bakewell Tart should have. I think the copious amount of strawberry jam commingled with the frangipane. A Bakewell Tart, or whatever I created here, would never be my dessert of choice, but I did end up with an excellent, very delicious Strawberry Almond Tart, which I was more than happy to serve to my family.

On a side note guys, I feel bad when I post and don’t have time to come around and leave comments on your blogs. I have been extremely busy with life and work and I have just not been able to sit down at the computer for any stretch of time. I think I will have a quiet day tomorrow and be able to catch up with you all - after I clean my house. It's such a wreck. Gotta run again. It's time to celebrate my baby brother’s birthday. Oh, and I'll try to get back to a Sweet Freedom Saturday next week.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dreamy, Refreshing Soup

It may not look like it from my picture, but this cold soup is the lightest, smoothest, and most refreshing thing I’ve eaten in all of the past two weeks of 102 degree heat. I got the recipe from GOOP.com. Gwyneth says it will be in an upcoming book called “Clean.” I made a double recipe, and what I couldn’t eat I used as salad dressing. It’s so delicious and you can make it in less than five minutes.

Cucumber and Avocado Soup
as posted in GOOP.com

Zest of ½ a lime
Juice of one whole lime
½ teaspoon salt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
½ an avocado, peeled and chopped

Blend everything together until totally creamy and smooth.

I’ve not been around lately due to the College World Series, but there’s a two hour rain delay now so I’ll take this time to come see what you all have been up to!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lemon Berry Scones – Sweet Freedom Saturday

You got a peek of this week’s Sweet Freedom treat covered in strawberries on my last post. Ricki’s Lemon Berry Scones are so light and absolutely bursting with fresh lemon flavor. The recipe bakes up six huge scones.

I really really wanted to bake these for my lemon lovin’ mom, even though I had apparently eaten all my fresh blueberries and I let my strawberries get moldy. Thankfully I have a big sack of dried mixed berries and they were an excellent replacement for the fresh ones. As I said, the scones are quite big, so mom and I split one, and mom provided fresh, non-moldy strawberries for the top.

I know I keep making changes to these Sweet Freedom recipes, but they’ve all been honest mistakes. I don’t think Ricki’s recipes need any alterations. I just consider my changes a testament to her perfect recipe writing, which allows for adaptation and screwups!

By the way, I fixed the Carrot Ribbon Salad recipe in my previous post into a more readable format. I made the recipe Mexican style, but the original recipe was Asian style with sesame oil and sesame seeds – yum! Lots of you commented on it. Please let me know if you try either version.

Finally, thank you to everyone who alerted me that my posts (and others) are being uploaded onto another site claiming them as their own. You might want to check this site to see if any of your posts are there as well.

My content isn’t copyrighted, so I guess that’s a risk I take. I don’t understand starting a blog to steal other bloggers’ posts. I do, however, get a kick out of seeing my posts translated on one site that seems to pull them up in French, then retranslated them into English. There I’m known as Vegan Nutriment & Recipes - I love it!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mexican Food for Game Night

This is the dinner I took to my mom’s for an evening of watching baseball. It wasn’t a particularly spectacular or memorable meal. Oh, it was yummy, all right. And it was quick and easy to make each dish, and it definitely hit the spot on a 100 degree day. The beauty of this meal was the recipes I put together. It had perfect mix ‘n match-ableness. Here’s what I made.

Corn Soup
from Vegan Fire & Spice

Soup when it’s 100 degrees? Yes! This soup is made with fresh corn and potatoes and served at room temperature. My mom loves corn soup and she loved this recipe. It was very good.

Carrot Ribbon Salad
Adapted from a recipe by Dr. Ben Kim

Makes 6 small servings

6 medium carrots, washed and peeled
Large handful of fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of one orange
1 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1. Slice carrots into thin strips using a mandolin or vegetable peeler.
2. Combine carrot strips and cilantro leaves in a salad bowl.
3. In a separate bowl combine the orange juice and lime juice. Whisk in the olive oil. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and whisk again.
4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Gently stir in the avocado.

This simple salad was really really delicious. Of course I love cilantro, and Dr. Kim says:
Cilantro is particularly good when combined with carrots and citrus juice - we were introduced to this recipe by an old family friend, who learned it from celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver.
Wild Rice Salad with Mango, Onion, and Red Pepper

This was simply a box of wild rice, cooked and cooled. Then I added chopped mango, onion, and red bell pepper. I served it at room temp too. It was a wonderful way to use that box of rice I’ve had in my pantry forever.

Tipsy Soft Tacos
I bought burrito sized spinach wraps and just made the bean part of Lisa’s recipe, so I will call these Beer Bean Wraps. These beer braised beans were terrific! I think they may have tasted even better the next day. Is it just me or does everything taste better when you add alcohol to it? Oh, I made the toasted pepitas too. Fabulous idea, Lisa!

Like I said, the mix ‘n match aspect of this dinner was the best part. The rice salad and the carrot salad could remain a side dish, or they could go in the wraps or garnish the soup. The toasted pepitas got sprinkled over everything.

For dessert, fresh strawberries on top of a Sweet Freedom treat which I will reveal on Sweet Freedom Saturday.

A refreshing and delicious meal to go with a victory for the Longhorns!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge – Chinese Dumplings

I was nervous about this month’s dumpling challenge as I have never been successful at making filled pockets of dough. I just can’t seem to crimp properly and always end up losing most of filling. But the recipe provided by our hostess, Jen from use real butter, was a winner!

The dough recipe is naturally vegan, and a vegan filling was easy to come up with. Mine was all veggie, mostly Napa cabbage, with onions, peppers, and water chestnuts.

I am sorry there are not more pictures of my dumpling-making but I was by myself and my hands were doughy and I needed to work quickly. The hardest part for me was rolling the dough into actual circles. I have terrible trouble with pie crusts too. Surprisingly, I found the pleating to be quite easy. I had every intention of becoming bored after making only a dozen, but it was so much fun that I amazed myself and quickly made the whole batch. I got 25 adorable dumplings.

I put them all in the freezer even though it was for just a few hours. It just seemed like the right thing to do. It’s already 100 degrees here and I figured the dough would be happier all nice and cold.

I only took out six of them to steam because I wasn’t expecting Chase to show up for dinner. Well, at first I was expecting him, then I wasn’t – and you know how that’s been going. I’m starting to think that if I plan on him NOT showing up, he WILL show up, and that’s the way to get my Sunday dinners back! Chase did come for dinner, so the six dumplings went into the steamer basket lined with cabbage leaves.

After about 7 minutes, they were perfect! I served them with a simple dipping sauce.

Such delicious little treats!

Along with the dumplings, we also had cilantro rice.

And Asian baked tofu.

And a bean sprout and very veggie stirfry.

I no longer fear the dumpling. This successful challenge has inspired me to give hand pies and empanadas another try. I truly enjoy these Daring Kitchen challenges. Even though I’ve been cooking and baking well over 20 years, there is always something new and fun to try. You are always welcome to join us!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Banana Oat Bars – Sweet Freedom Saturday

This week’s edition of Sweet Freedom Saturday features the most excellent gluten free, soy free Banana Oat Bars. Ricki describes them as a cross between a cookie and a granola bar.

As you can see, I added chocolate to this recipe. I just can’t help myself.

I didn’t eat all of them myself this time, but I do have another confession to make. I completely forgot to include the sugar in the batter! Of course I didn’t realize my mistake until the batter was all spread in the pan and I was just about to pop them in the oven. I decided to sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of sucanat on top. Thankfully, the batter recipe is very forgiving because the bars were a perfect granola cookie, and the caramelized sugary topping turned out to be all the sweetness we needed. I love that bananas can be your sugar.

I will try very hard to prepare next week’s recipe correctly, but I can’t promise I won’t eat them all. Sweet Freedom recipes are the best!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Heads Up!

Last night after I wrote my post, I got a bite to eat and did a few household chores, then sat back down at the computer to make the blog rounds. I was just about to leave a comment on River’s awesome post when a storm blew in and my power went out for the night. Not only was it a scary storm, but it was hot and so very boring. We are supposed to get another storm again tonight. My candles are out and ready.

ANYWAY…. I was going to update my post to include the link to River’s sweet giveaway of Healthy Chef, an amazing 4-in-1 kitchen appliance that acts as a food dehydrator, rice cooker, steamer, and yogurt maker all in one. Head on over to WingItVegan and enter for a chance to win!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Local Eats

My most recent CSA box had a mix of red and gold beets, and the usual onions, garlic, chard, and squash, plus the first of the tomatoes and some red potatoes. The beets were pretty small, so I didn’t get very many greens. I found Mark Bittman’s Raw Beet Salad recipe and have been enjoying it all this week. It’s very easy to make, and quite a delicious. I didn’t grate my veggies as per the recipe. I just diced cuz I like to get out a big knife and whack veggies at the end of a long stressful workday.

Raw Beet Salad

Yield 4 servings

Time 10 minutes

by Mark Bittman

Uncooked beets are less sweet and earthy than they are when boiled or roasted. If you just can't resist cooking them, once they're shredded, they can be quickly sautéed in butter or oil.

1 pound beets
1 large shallot
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, or to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or other good strong vinegar
Minced parsley, dill, chervil, rosemary or tarragon

Peel the beets and the shallot. Combine them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, and pulse carefully until the beets are shredded; do not puree. (Or grate the beets by hand and mince the shallots; combine.) Scrape into a bowl.

Toss with the salt, pepper, mustard, oil and vinegar. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Toss in the herbs, and serve.

Remember the cute little flying saucer squash?

They were so good just steamed whole for 3 minutes. If I get any more, I may get fancy and stuff them with something.

Most of the zucchini and yellow squash have been made into stirfries, such as this one with mushrooms, onions, and daikon.

Here’s a fun recipe I haven’t made, but it’s on my long list of recipes to make.

Kids Watermelon Pizza Supreme
From the National Watermelon Promotion Board

1 (8-to-10 inch round and 1-inch thick) watermelon slice, drained to remove excess moisture
1 cup strawberry preserves
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Place the watermelon slice on a serving platter and cut into 6 wedges leaving them in the shape of a pizza. Spread the preserves over the watermelon and sprinkle the toppings over the top.
Serves 6.

That’s all I have for now!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Vegan Brunch

I have just a quick post of a couple more recipes I’ve tried from Vegan Brunch. My ‘Horns are playing and if they win they go to the College World Series!

I made the Curry Cauliflower Frittata for Chase, using some beautiful orange cauliflower from the farmers market that I roasted.

It smelled wonderful as it baked. Here it is out of the oven.

I don’t have a picture of a slice, because it didn’t hold together. Chase didn’t care. He said he would just call it a scramble and enjoy it that way. I’ve noticed several other posts where these frittatas haven’t held together. When I made it, I thought it seemed dry and there was no liquid or binder at all in any of the frittata recipes. Maybe my tofu was squeezed too dry. Have you run into this problem? Or are you adding some liquid to your mixture? I would love to make another one for Chase, but I want it to turn out right.

The other brunch item I made was the Potato Spinach Squares. I added some onion and sundried tomatoes to my batch. This baked up beautifully.

These squares got RAVE reviews and I thought they were super delicious.

Isn’t it pretty?

I’ll be around to visit after the game! Hook’em ‘Horns!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Maple Walnut Cookies – Sweet Freedom Saturday

Last Saturday I mentioned I was undecided on which of Ricki’s Sweet Freedom cookies to bake. I was looking for a cookie to complement my Peach Strawberry Ice Cream and finally decided on Maple Walnut Cookies. Ricki describes them as chewy with a crisp exterior. These delicious cookies were the perfect choice.

I’m glad the recipe only makes a dozen cookies, because although I tried to save some for Chase, I ate them all myself!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Whole Lotta Green!

I’ve been eating lots of fresh greens, salads, and zucchini lately, so this post will be pictures of how I’ve been enjoying them.

My CSA box and trip to the farmers market 2 weeks ago was quite nice. Hooray for fresh, local foods!

Radishes, dill, cucumbers, flying saucer squash (very delicious), broccoli, romano beans (my fave), tomatoes.

Orange cauliflower, carrots, red and gold beets (yay for more beet greens!), swiss chard.

Zucchini, squash, and peaches.
Salads I’ve had:

Beet greens and sunflower sprouts

Mixed greens, radish sprouts, beets, and Green Smoothie Dressing (and a side of orange cauliflower)

Spiralized zucchini and radish sprouts with Green Smoothie Dressing (I just can’t eat store-bought dressing anymore!)

I ate quite a few raw spiralized zucchini salads. Then I decided that just because I spiralized them didn’t mean I had to eat them raw. So one evening I made a big pile of ribbons and then just gave them a quick sear. This was delicious with lots of saltfree seasoning on top.

I also cooked a big pile of squash and zucchini noodles. These I put in my wok with some onion, let the water release, then they just sort of steamed themselves and turned bright green and yellow. Wow, this was the most delicious simply prepared squash ever!

Another night I added some of the leftover noodles to a veggie curry.

I made another curry with the chard. (See end of post for explanation of curry cravings.) I put on a pot of red lentils for my sauce, and while they softened I prepped my chard. I had the loveliest striped stems!

This dish turned out quite nice, topped with some cold chopped tomatoes to balance out the heat.

Then I had to clean the stove where the lentils boiled over.

Gee, it’s weird what I take pictures of sometimes….

Spring is over here and now it’s just downright hot. I’ll be anxious to see what veggies survive the heat and arrive in my CSA box this weekend. I hope there will be lots of tomatoes, peppers, and chilies. That means I can make fresh salsa, and fresh salsa is great on everything!

So, do you know why spicy foods are craved and appropriate to eat in the summertime? Because they make you sweat and your sweat cools your body! And I don’t know about you, but I always crave ice cream after a spicy meal this time of year. Another appropriate way to cool the body down. I think I just figured out why I love summer.