Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Vegan Mac-n-Cheese

I was craving something creamy and delicious this evening and settled on a vegan version of mac-n-cheese. This is not my recipe; I made it using Isa Chandra Moskowitz's classic recipe.

A couple of small substitutions: the pasta is Tolerant lentil pasta (boosting the protein component of the meal) and the seasoning, rather than standard pizza seasoning, is Pike Place dipping herbs. I didn't sautee the onion and garlic in oil before adding to the blender (I'm sure it would have improved the sauce, though not by much, as it was damn tasty as it was). Other than that, the recipe's there and I can attest that the results are, indeed, comforting, creamy, and fantastic.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Squash-Kasha Patties

Still living off the soaked kasha from two days ago! Today, I mixed about a cup of it with a cup of pureed butternut squash, added some herbs and flavorings and grilled patties made of the mixture. It was very tasty, especially served atop mixed sautéed leafy greens, but didn't have as  much of a cohesive structure as I'd hoped. I'll had to add some chia in water next time I make patties.

What with this, the flax crackers, and the lovely vegetable broth slowly brewing in the slow-cooker (from all the stems and ends of the vegetables I used today), I think I'm good, foodwise, for a few days.

Flax Crackers

To the left: an image of the very first batch of (oddly shaped) flax crackers, made in my new Excalibur dehydrator.

I used to eat these quite a bit after falling in love with them at Cafe Gratitude; they made theirs with grated carrots and whole flax seeds. Then, I bought ready-made varieties, but their prohibitive price made them something to be enjoyed on an infrequent basis. But, as it turns out, I have a huge bag of ground flax in the freezer, and the equipment necessary to make it into a tasty batch, so I set out to make some.

There's really nothing to it: you mix the flax with water until you get something that has the consistency of yogurt. You let it sit for a few moments, during which the mixture thickens a bit, add seasonings (I threw in a generous handful of blackened cajun seasoning) and, using a rubber spatula, smooth it over a dehydrator tray (or three) until it's a fairly thin layer (I'd say, about the thickness of two flax seeds.) I left mine working overnight, and was pleased to have a ready-made batch in the morning; just ate two of them and they are delicious.

I bet the following varieties would also be fabulous, but haven't tried yet:

  • grated carrots (Cafe Gratitude style), possibly with curry or masala seasoning
  • with a hefty spoonful of tomato puree, a bit of thinly chopped garlic, and some dried basil or oregano
  • with thinly chopped onions, parsley, and sumac
For lunch, I plan to have squash-kasha patties served atop sauteed collard greens. Good times!




Thursday, June 11, 2015

Adventures in Fruit Rolls

The curious object in my hand is a fruit roll piece made of strawberries, mango, and melons, with a generous addition of ground flax seeds. I used to love eating fruit rolls, or as we called them, "fruit leather", as a kid, and started incorporating them into my feedings as I started swimming long distances in open water: they were flat and easy to pack, and delivered a satisfying sweet jolt. I typically bought the ones with no sugar added, but they came in a fairly limited assortment of flavors; imagine my joy when I figured out I could make some of my own using my new Excalibur dehydrator (buy directly from the factory: they have some great deals.)

This is my second attempt so far, and it has been a partial success. I put ripe strawberries, mango, and melon pieces in the blender with some lemon juice, because I remembered that pectin was an important ingredient in many commercial leathers. I added flax seeds and pureed the mixture. Then, I spilled it over my silicone mats and shook them a bit to guarantee an even spread, and started the dehydrator at 135 Fahrenheit. After about six hours I got what you see here. I suspect that a thicker layer would be more flexible and less brittle, but would take longer to dry; I'll try that next time. But I should point out that even the mistakes are tasty, and I plan to continue experimenting.

The thing also makes fabulous banana and strawberry chips, and I plan to use it to make seed crackers soon.

Kasha with Greens, Squash, and Mushrooms

I just found out something amazing! You can soak kasha (buckwheat) in water, and the result is just as tasty as cooked kasha.

It was the result of a happy accident; I intended to soak it for just a couple of hours, but forgot it in the soaking pot for a day and a half. Ah, well, I thought - I'll just cook it up. But then I tasted a couple of kernels and realized it didn't really need any cooking - just a quick turn in the pan that already had a stir-fry from yesterday in it.

Chad had made himself a dinner of greens, squash, and mushrooms, and ate it (probably) over pasta. I got about 8 leaves of young chard, and a handful of spinach, from our garden, threw it in there with the stir fry, and added a few handfuls of kasha. The result was extremely tasty, and improved with a generous sprinkling of nutritional yeast while cooking, as well as a tiny bit of truffle salt.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chard from the Garden!

These are two or three chard plants from our garden, fresh and ready to eat!

I stir-fried them with tofu, garlic, ginger, coconut aminos, and sriracha, and served the whole thing over rice noodles. There's nothing like eating vegetables straight from the garden.

We have great plans: tomatoes of four kinds, cucumbers, okra, and herbs. So far, the tomato plants seem to be doing fine. I hope there's lots and lots of fruit, because I just got an Excalibur Dehydrator and I plan to dry lots for the winter season.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mini Pita Sliders

We had lovely guests over the weekend, and yesterday I made a Mexican brunch for them that included short-grain brown rice and Rancho Gordo pinto beans. This morning, as an airport sendoff, I used some of the leftover grains and beans to make them travel sandwiches, and there was enough to make a tasty breakfast for us, too. 

Serves four:

1 cup brown rice, cooked
1 cup pinto beans, cooked
1/2 white onion
1 tsp olive oil
4-5 drops liquid smoke
1 tsp coconut aminos
1 tsp nutritional yeast
2 whole-wheat pitas
2 tbsp tahini or vegenaise
vegetables and herbs according to taste (I used some of yesterday's pico de gallo and cilantro)

Chop onion finely and brown in olive oil. As the onion is browning, in a mixing bowl, mash together brown rice and beans. Add onions to rice and bean mixture. Add liquid smoke, aminos, and nutritional yeast.

Make eight small balls out of the mixture and place in hot pan. Flatten the balls with wooden spoon. Brown 5 minutes, then flip and brown other side for 5 minutes.

Cut each pita into quarters. Coat insides with tahini. Place a burger in each quarter, then garnish with vegetables and herbs.

Bon Appetit!


Saturday, May 02, 2015

Spring Stir-Fry

This simple and delicate dish combines many spring flavors and uses vegetables from our CSA and rosemary from our garden.

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp safflower oil
3 green onion stalks, thinly sliced
1 pound green beans, with the ends trimmed
3 summer squashes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups chickpeas, cooked
3 twigs rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp lemony pepper
2/3 cup white wine

Heat up safflower oil in a wok. Add garlic, ginger, and green onions, and simmer a bit. Then, add green beans, squashes, and chick peas, and stir fry for a few minutes. add herbs and wine, cover wok, and cook for 10-15 mins, or until wine is absorbed and beans are cooked but perky.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Leek Fritters

It's Passover Eve! Hurrah! And we are invited to celebrate this holiday of spring, freedom, and questionable historical existence, with our good friends of 15 years from the East Bay!

Our friends are having the entire meal catered, and we were told not to worry about food. But I assume most of the invitees are not vegan. On one hand, I don't like disrupting other people's plans for the meal; on the other, I don't want to just bring clandestine tofu blocks for the two of us and ignore everyone else around the table. Also, in the off-chance that anyone around the table eats kosher under the Ashkenazi rules, I don't want to flood the table with soy or other beans. I've come up with two solutions and I plan to do both!

Solution 1: bringing a "cheese plate" of Miyoko's Cheeses. YEAH!

Solution 2: making amazing leak fritters!

Ori Shavit's wonderful blog is full of terrific vegan recipes, with an entire section devoted to Passover that I'm sure I'll be using for years to come. I used her leek latkes recipe with a few minor substitutions. For non-Hebrew readers, it's as follows:

5 leeks, white and light green parts
4 tbsp matzo flour
1 large onion
4 garlic cloves
1 large fistful parsley
1 large fistful cilantro (I substituted oregano and sage)
celery leaves from 5 stalks
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Hawaiiej  (I have the real deal, but you can substitute with cumin and cardamom)
safflower oil and potato flour for frying

Cut each leek into three pieces. Place in a pot, cover with water, boil and simmer for 10 mins. Drain.
Then, place cooked leeks and all other ingredients into food processor and process until smooth.
Heat safflower oil in a large pan.
Place spoonfuls of the mix into the pan (you can dip them in potato flour to assist the frying) and fry a few minutes on each side, until firm and golden.