Monday, December 1, 2008

Anything mashed and fried in oil...

I have a confession to make: I try to turn most leftovers into a pancake. If it can be mashed up and tossed into some bread crumbs, I will pan fry it and declare it an "Olde World" specialty. When I ate eggs, I would even take leftover noodles, pour egg on them, griddle them up and tell Lance that I was making chinese food.

So, we had a ton of that puree from the last post. The puree was really good, with fragrant celery root and spicy black pepper, but we were getting tired of eating it straight, as if we were two 30 year old babies eating our blended food. Bleh. Enough was enough.

So, I took some of the puree and started experimenting. I added in a bit of flour and wheat gluten and mixed it with a fork until it started pulling together, but I made sure not to put in so much flour that it turned into raw dough...yuck.

I probably could've just thrown them on the cast iron pan right then, but I thought a dusting of panko would add a good crisp. This turned out to be a superfluous step since I wasn't baking or deep frying these pancakes. Instead, the moisture in the pancake just absorbed the panko and I ended with a smooth cooked surface regardless.

But, yeah, a few tablespoons of melted Earth Balance and some cooking time later, we had nice little puree pancakes, with crispy outsides and warm, smooth insides. I topped mine with mango chutney from the fridge--total taste explosion! Lance opted to eat his plain, and enjoy the original flavors of celery root and fennel...he's such a purist. =)

So, am I the only one who makes pancakes out of leftovers? Anyone else? Anyone? ;)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm Sorry, the Thanksgiving Edition

I've been bad! I haven't posted in forever.

What can I say? Life has been hectic. I've been doing a lot of vegan cooking, but it's been the "holy crap, it's 8 o clock! Throw a veggie burger in the microwave and I'll saute those baby carrots you were going to take for a snack tomorrow" kind.

However, my mom tapped me this year to make as many vegan dishes for Thanksgiving as we could, because we had a good number of veggie friends dropping by. So, here's my "I'm Sorry" in the tune of a long Thanksgiving post. =)

The vegan menu was vast, and I wish I had pictures of it all, but, in the end, we'll just all use our imaginations and get on with our lives.

The menu:

  • Roasted acorn squash with curried apple and cornbread stuffing

  • Lebanese green beans (green beans sauteed with onions and cumin)

  • Celery Root and Apple puree, which was amazing--adapted from this recipe from my muse, Ina Garten (Ina! Isa! Who's next? Ida?). Just use Earth Balance instead of butter and soy milk/creamer instead of cream.

  • Mashed potatoes, of course

  • Layered salad, with PPK's easy mock egg salad on top instead of mayo dressing, and tempeh bacon instead of piggy

  • Quick Mushroomy Thanksgiving Gravy, which I made up on the spot

I'm not sure if the pies they made had butter in the crust, but all the non-vegans went and used agave instead of sugar this year, so you can't fault people for trying, can you? And we're talking about, like, 8 fruit pies.

Since I can still remember what I put in the gravy, I'll post the recipe right now before I forget. I'm sure it's like any other mushroom gravy, but I had fun making it on the spot and it tasted very Thanksgivingy.

Quick Mushroomy Thanksgiving Gravy

by Keith S.

2 cups rich vegetable broth (if you make your own, include carrots)
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp vegan margarine
1/2 of a large red onion, or 1 small red onion, chopped finely
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 tsp poultry seasoning (Penzeys is vegan and salt/msg free)
1 tsp thyme
A pinch of sage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

In a separate bowl or cup, whisk the flour and vegetable broth together. Set aside.

Melt the vegan margarine in a saute pan over medium heat.

Add onions and cook for about 3 minutes, until they start to become soft.

Add mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms start to give up their moisture and reduce in size. If the mushrooms soak up all the margarine before giving up their moisture and you think they'll start to stick to the pan in a bad way, feel free to add another pat of margarine. No one is watching you, and non-vegan gravy is full of turkey fat, so you got a ways to go to ever hit that level of fattiness.

Add poultry seasoning, thyme, sage, and minced garlic and cook together for another minute or so. Pour in the wine. The mixture should bubble and the wine should start to evaporate and reduce. If it doesn't, turn the heat up a bit, but don't burn your mixture.

When the wine has reduced by about half, give the flour/broth mixture a good last whisk and pour into the pan. Raise heat to medium-high and stir constantly until the mixture thickens. (Pull off the heat immediately if it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.)

Once the flour is cooked through and the mixture has thickened, pour into your favorite fancy gravy boat! If you want to be ironic, make sure it's in the shape of a turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, October 24, 2008


Sorry y'all! I want to post and even have high res pictures of my Unfortunately, my job stepped things up lately and Lance and I have had barely any time to eat, much less post about said food.

In the meantime, I'll take this moment to say that we're visiting Ethos Vegan Restaurant in Orlando tonight on the way to a professional certification exam for Lance. It'll be our first time eating at Ethos, so I'm really excited. =)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

VeganMoFo - Totally Surprised

I'm really surprised and grateful that my job has been able to get us vegan lunches two days in a row! We're currently under the gun with a software release and needed at our desks for much of the day, so it's been a real relief that a corporation could actually get vegan lunches right two days in a

First day - salads and gyros minus the meat and sauce -- doable and almost sweet in the execution of the meal...kind of like, "They don't like eggs, meat, or milk, but who doesn't like Gyro bread!? That plus veggies - voila!"

Second day - amazing wraps from Robek's, a smoothie/wrap place nearby. The wraps came stuffed with carrots, lettuce, tomato, avocado, roasted red pepper, and, I kid you not, jicama!

This is so much better than the years of people saying, "You don't eat meat? So, we can get you fish?" Sigh.

Monday, October 13, 2008

VeganMoFo - Improvisation

Knowing that I had a busy week ahead, I jam packed the weekend with cooking from my new copy of "Veganomicon"...I finally bit the bullet and bought it!

Wow! The recipes I've tried so far have been amazing. Lance is in food heaven.

In the midst of preparing my Baja Tempeh Tacos and my Pumpkin/Caramelized Onion Ziti, I realized that I had a gigantic half a purple cabbage left over and no recipe to use it. Normally, I would've wrapped it up in plastic, put it in the crisper drawer and, to be honest, forgotten about it until the entire fridge smelled like a dead rat. But something in me said, "Who needs a recipe? Just make something out of it, put it in a pretty Pyrex container, and stash it away for lunch or a snack."

But what to make?

Well, I had some huge Fuji apples looking for friends. And a nice purple onion who plays well with others.

So, into the cast iron pan they went, the cabbage chunks, the diced apple and onion. I sauteed them in canola oil with a dab of Earth Balance. A sprinkle of sea salt, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and a stir finished them off before I dropped the mixture into a Pyrex container (antique Pyrex makes everything I cook seem more fun).

I would just like to say: improvisation = yum. I would say that the cabbage dish reminded me of my winters in Moscow, but I've only been in Moscow up to November, so I wouldn't know. =)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

VeganMoFo - Dr. Soymilk (Or How I Learned To Love The Bean)

I was a sickly, nerdy kid. You wouldn't know it now, but I was way tall and way skinny, with a big bushy head of hair, sallow complexion, and deep-set brown eyes. I was allergic to almost everything and, as I put it facetiously, all my mom fed me was blue corn cereal, soymilk, and acorn squash.

Tempeh tacos, too, but it's fun to gripe.

Enter elementary school. Now what is a conscientious mom to do about sending her kid to a school full of dog-food-sausage pizza and daily chocolate milk?

Well, buy a huge case of soymilk, drive it to the school, and demand that they give me one every day, whether or not I buy my lunch that day.

Thus started my love/hate childhood relationship with soymilk. "Ah Soy!" brand to be exact.

I loved that it was slightly sweet and that I could have chocolate soymilk whenever I wanted and no one cared the slightest.

I hated that NONE of the other kids had heard of it and, thus, would watch me like hawks when I drank it, just in case I dropped dead halfway through. I also hated that "Ah Soy!" was really gritty, so, when I grew out of my allergy and started eating more animal products on my own, I treasured the smooth, fatty quality of cow's milk, but something always tasted off. And then the lactose intolerance kicked in.

Long story short, they introduced "Silk" brand soymilk, way before I even considered becoming vegan, and my fight with grit ended immediately. In fact, it seems like all soymilks have gotten less gritty since then.

I really can't think about cooking or drinking anything else now...well, besides almond, cashew, rice, or coconut milks ;)...but I could never go back to cow's milk.

It's crazy -- I went from being the weird kid to being the vanguard kid, just because of my silly allergies...score one for the sickly nerds!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

VeganMoFo - The Converted Tart of Greatness

So, I love cookbooks, of all kinds. I don't know if it's the same gene that makes me like blogs, but from the moment that I could get my own library card, I came home with at least three cookbooks every trip to lovingly read, page by page.

Since making the transition to vegan eating, I find that reading non-vegan cookbooks takes on a whole other feel. Not only am I adoring the chef's creativity, I'm VEGANIZING their hard work, especially when it comes to desserts.

Now when I read: "3 eggs whites, whipped", I'm thinking, "Okay, don't think egg replacer will work...but maybe flax seeds...wait, whipped silken tofu! That's it!"

And, of course, all the chocolate gets upgraded to vegan dark chocolate, which, in my humble opinion, is a replacement that every omnivore should make as well, but I don't want to open THAT can of beans. (People are so protective of their favorite chocolate...maybe if we put that on the ballot, EVERYONE would vote. But I digress.)

My mom has this series of cookbooks called "La Brea Bakery". One of them is for bread, the other for pastries. Just the thick paper in the La Brea cookbooks screams "heirloom", but the recipes themselves scream "EGGS, BUTTER, AND CREAM!!!" about as loud as possible...almost to the point that I think it would be safer to invest in butter than gold in these economic times.

Well, deep in the middle of that pastry book is a recipe for a Triple Almond Tart, with bittersweet chocolate glaze. I found it and I was transfixed for half a day. People would ask how work was going and I'd talk about veganizing that tart. My mom asked if I wanted coffee and I said that the almond tart would go great with coffee, thank you very much. Every trip to a grocery store was "can I find pure almond extract, you think?"...

So I did it...and it was ALMOST there. So, I figure I'll give the recipe and then I'll tell you how I want to improve it. =)

Triple Almond Tart - Veganized!
(Adapted from a recipe by Nancy Silverton)

Crust: Spelt Shortbread recipe from my blog

3/4 cup whole *roasted* almonds - buy them roasted or toast in oven beforehand, allowing to cool
1/2 cup vegan sugar
3/4 cup vegan powdered sugar
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup silken tofu (like Mori-Nu), blended smooth
1 Tbls. pure almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz (I know, yikes!) vegan margarine, melted and cooled slightly

2 Tbls. water
2 Tbls. brewed coffee or espresso
3 Tbls. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbls. vegan sugar
1 Tbls. agave nectar
2 oz. vegan dark chocolate, as bitter as you can stand =)
1 Tbls. Disaronno amaretto

Prepare crust by directions, but instead of spreading it out on a cookie sheet, press into the bottom of a springform pan and build a two-inch side around the bottom of the tart. Put in the fridge until ready to fill. (Note: Part of my problem with the crust was how dense it was after cooking, so you might want to do my recipe testing for me and blind bake it for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven...let me know how it turns out...should be

For filling, in the bowl of a food processor, put in almonds and granulated sugar. Pulse until you get a fine "almond sugar". Add powdered sugar and flour and pulse until combined. Drop in the silken tofu, extracts, and melted margarine. Process until it makes a thick, well-combined paste.

Pour the almond mixture into the crust and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a dense, marzipan-like're mostly just cooking it until the flour cooks through and thickens. Check periodically, because the tart will want to puff up. Pop these puffs with a fork periodically so that the tart remains flat.

Remove from oven and cool completely before trying to glaze.

For glaze:
In a saucepan on medium-high heat, mix water, coffee, cocoa powder, sugar and agave. Stir until the mixture starts to boil, remove from heat, and then mix in broken dark chocolate pieces. Once the chocolate pieces are combined, add in amaretto and stir until smooth. Pour over tart and allow to cool.


So: YUM! And veganized! Score one for the "no butter" crowd. =)

Note: I should've added almond extract to the crust, but I can try that next time. Also, I think a vegan-friendly whiskey or bourbon would give a good depth to the glaze, rather than amaretto.