Saturday, June 30, 2012

Recipe Review: Get It Ripe: Sesame Kale Soba

Sesame Kale Soba 
from the Get It Ripe cookbook by Jae Steele.
  • 1 large bunch green or black kale (about 8-oz/227 g) -
  • 1 (8-oz/227 g) pckg soba noodles (or spaghetti noodles if unavailable - preferably wheat free)
  • 3 tbsp tamari or shoyu soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, *grated or pressed
  • 1/2 tsp dulse powder (optional)
  • freshly ground pepper* to taste (a few generous twists)
  • 1/4 cup arame (a dark sea veggie), soaked for 5 minutes until soft, then drained (optional)
  • 3 tbsp unhulled sesame seeds
*You can mix it up a little by using 1 tsp grated fresh ginger in lieu of garlic or replace a touch of wasabi paste for black pepper.

Place a large pot of water on high heat to boil. Meanwhile, wash the kale thoroughly, remove the ends of the stems and discard, then chop kale to preferred size.

Add the noodles to boiling water and cook for 4 minutes.

Stir in the kale, and continue cooking until noodles are al dente, then drain and transfer noodles and kale to a large bowl and set aside.

Combine the tamari or shoyu, oil, garlic, dulse, and pepper in a small bowl, mix well, then pour on top of noodles and kale.

Toss gently with the arame ans sesame seeds, and serve.

Makes about 3 servings. GF, NF

Notes: Fascinating food fact about little old me - I love soba noodles. I love to eat with chopsticks (it makes me feel dexterous). I love kale. I love starting sentences with "I". Try adding shiitake mushrooms and/or extra firm tofu for some extra protein and heartiness. You can use the sauce topping as a marinade for the mushrooms and/or tofu. Dulse powder and arame can be difficult to find, so I have thus far made it without and it is still very good and healthful. This is fantastic served cold for lunch too. In addition to a bunch of tasty recipes this book contains very useful information regarding a vegan lifestyle - a good read in every respect!

 Shootin' the shiitake while the mushrooms marinate in the sauce.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What to Bring to the Cookout: Vegan Diner: Garlic-Dill Potato Salad

This recipe can be found in the ultimate vegan comfort food  cookbook Vegan Diner by Julie Hasson. Steve Legato contributed photos that make you want to try and make every recipe immediately.

Garlic-Dill Potato Salad
(makes 4 servings)
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes
  • 1 cup Garlic Mayo (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
  • 2 large cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, add potatoes and cook until just tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and let sit until cool enough to handle. Dice into large chunks.
   In a large bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, fresh dill, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the diced potatoes to the bowl and toss to coat with the mayonnaise mixture. Give the potato salad a few good stirs, as it helps the salad become thick and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
   Serve the potato salad right away, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Homemade Garlic Mayo
(Makes about 2 cups)
  • 1 (12.3-ounce) package extra-firm silken tofu, preferably the Mori-Nu brand
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
In a food processor or blender, combine the tofu, olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Puree tofu mixture until ultra smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl or blender as necessary. Make sure that there aren't any little bits of unblended tofu.
   Taste the mayonnaise, and adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate for an hour, if possible, to let the flavors meld before using.

I made this recipe for a small, intimate weenie roast and it seemed to please both the omnis and the vegans. We also had...

 Broccoli slaw topped with crunchy chow mein noodles made by Big D (back left), baked beans, Kettle Chips - lightly salt and salt and pepper flavors, and garlicky chip dip.

Fixin's for Chicago style hot dogs! Mustard, onion, relish, tomato, pickle spear, celery salt, and pepperocinis. The blasphemous natural ketchup is mine. I know, I know, it's a sin to put ketchup on a hot dog. I'm a sinner!

I asked Chickie Jay to write down the meal stuffed into a bun known as the Chicago style dog. Who can remember all that? I kept referring to this list as reference material like a chump.

In addition to vegan hot dogs we also served Field Roast Sausages - Smoked Apple Sage. HO-LEE K-RAP these are good eatin'! If you are very careful you can slide them up a roasting stick (the long way) and warm them over a cracklin' campfire.

Chickpea & Massaged Kale Heat Beatin' Salad

I have literally been eating variations of this salad for both lunch an dinner throughout our entire Iowa heat wave/drought/tire fire. It's fast, nutritious and requires no blasted oven.

Chickpea & Massaged Kale Heat Beatin' Salad
  • 2 to 5 leaves of kale, depending on how much you like kale
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sea salt
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon
Add above ingredients to a large bowl and massage kale with your hands until fibers are broken down. You'll be able to feel the softening of the leaves - it only takes about 1 minute of gentle massaging. It's an oily massage. It's fun! 

  •  1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Add one can rinsed chickpeas and combine.

  • Assorted vegetables of your choice such as: cucumber, carrot, baby tomatoes, bell pepper, green onion, etc. chopped. Add as many and whatever variety you desire. Customize!
  • 2 to 6 cloves minced fresh garlic - amount to your taste
  • Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, or slivered almonds (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Olive oil to taste
Add assorted fresh vegetables to your own tastes and combine. If desired add nuts and/or seeds. Taste and add salt, pepper, olive 
oil to taste.

I make a huge batch and parse out amounts for lunches and/or dinners as desired. I also just add more ingredients as needed throughout the week as the salad dwindles in size. 

Helpful Hint: Brush and floss after eating as the black sesame seeds and kale chunks tend to get wedged in the toofuses, and your breath will be hella garlicky!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Basil Beast Unleashed: Vegan Pesto

The Basil Beast Unleashed! Pesto is fast on the dash to make and versatile - it can be slathered on pasta; used as a pizza sauce; or as a spread on bread, crackers or crudite.

Vegan Pesto
  • 2 Cups tightly packed basil
  • 1/3 Cup olive oil
  • 1 Cup nuts - walnut, pine or almond
  • Garlic to your taste - I use 5 to 6 cloves but I am a legit garlic luvah
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast or faux Parmesan cheese substitute - Parmela is a fave of mine (optional)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until nuts are finely chopped. You want some nice texture - stop before pesto is smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. If the pesto is too thick, add a small amount of plain soy milk or water.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Recipe Review: BIG VEGAN: Three-Nut "Cheese" Quesadillas with Fresh Mango Salsa

Recipe from the BIG VEGAN cookbook by Robin Asbell - more than 350 recipes No Meat/No Dairy ALL DELICIOUS.

Three-Nut "Cheese" Quesadillas with Fresh Mango Salsa

Nut "Cheese"
  • 1/3 cup/40 g macadamia nuts
  • 1/3 cup/40 g raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup/40 g slivered/flaked almonds
  • 1 acidophilus capsule (make sure it is dairy free)
  • 1 tbsp cold-press corn oil
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large mango, diced
  • 1 large jalapeno, chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint or cilantro/fresh coriander
  •  1/4 tsp salt

  • 2 scallions/spring onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup/7 g cilantro/fresh coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Eight 6-in/15-cm whole wheat/wholemeal tortillas 

1. To Make the Nut "Cheese": Put the nuts in a bowl, cover them with cold water, and refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain the nuts, then puree them with 1/2 cup/120 ml fresh water in a blender or food processor. It make take some scraping down and repeating to get it smooth. Add the contents of the acidophilus capsule and puree to mix. Transfer the mixture to a glass or ceramic bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap/cling film, and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. It should form some bubbles and smell cheese-like.

2. The next day, stir in the oil, lemon juice, and salt, then refrigerate.

3. To Make The Salsa: Put the mango in a medium bowl and add the jalapeno, onion, lime juice, mint, and salt. Toss to mix and refrigerate until needed.

4. When the nut "cheese" is cold, mix in the scallions/spring onions, cilantro/fresh coriander, and chili powder. Divide the mixture among four of the tortillas and top them with the remaining tortillas.

5. To cook, preheat a large cast-iron frying pan on high heat. When it is hot, put one quesadilla in the pan, and cook it for about 2 minutes per side, until it is dappled with brown spots and the "cheese" is heated through. Transfer it to a cutting board and slice the quesadilla into six wedges. Repeat with the other quesadillas. Serve hot with the mango salsa.

Notes: YUMMY! I really enjoyed making my own cheese for this dish. Making food from scratch and knowing exactly what is going into my food is becoming increasingly important to me. Having complete quality control makes me feel good about what I make and serve. This was a fun and tasty meal - the mango salsa was a really fresh taste explosion! The quesadillas were good ole fashioned, messy fun-to-eat. Having yeasty nuts brewing made me feel especially fancy and pro-style! Also, saying nut-cheese is just juvenile giggle time!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Recipe Review: BIG VEGAN: Tortilla Soup with Mock Duck & Chipotles

This recipe is from my favorite new cookbook: BIG VEGAN by Robin Asbell published by Chronicle Books.

Tortilla Soup with Mock Duck and Chipotles

  • 1  tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 oz/225 g Mock Duck (page 38) or chicken style seitan, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 qt/960 ml Basic Vegetable Stock (page 49) or mock chicken stock
  • 1 small sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/4 cup/45 g quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp chopped chipotle chile in adobe sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Six 6-in/15cm corn tortillas
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup/15 g cilantro/fresh coriander
  • 1 large lime, cut into wedges, for serving
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the onion and stir for 5 minutes or so, lowering the heat to medium. When the onion is soft, add the mock duck, garlic, cumin, and cloves. Stir for a few minutes.

2. Add the stock, sweet potato, quinoa, chipotle, and oregano and bring to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp of the salt. Reduce the soup to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. When the quinoa is throwing off its tiny white halos and the sweet potato is tender, reduce the heat to low.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C/gas 5. Stack the tortillas and slice them into strips 1/4in/6 mm wide. Place them on a baking sheet/tray and drizzle with the canola oil and the remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes until the strips are crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Serve the soup topped with the cilantro/fresh coriander and tortilla strips, with lime wedges for squeezing over the soup. 

  Working with mock duck for the first time was a little unsettling. It is almost too like poultry - pimply goose skin and all - and it sort of plops meat-like out of the can. I gagged a few times, to be honest. It is delicious if you can get past that resemblance!
Out of my four taste testers, two thought there was too much clove flavor in my soup. I suggest a very conservative, small pinch. 
   I took the lazy route and used store bought, tortilla chips for the crispy topping. Next time I will set aside more time to make the lower fat homemade version detailed in the recipe.
This was a fun recipe to make and I think meat eaters would like the mock duck, so it would be good for a mixed crowd meal.
   This cookbook has been my go-to for the past few weeks. I really like the recipe page set-up, with ingredients on the left in a green box and instructions to the middle/right. The recipes I've made thus far have been quick, easy and tasty. In my opinion, it  would be a good cookbook for any vegan to have in their arsenal.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sandwiches Are Magical!

Sandwiches are just about the perfect cooling hot-ass  Summer day lunch, aren't they? They work at the beach, at the pool, at the shooting range, in a cage, in a cave. (I don't know your struggles. No judgement). Vegan sandwiches are fast, easy and require no heating up of the house with the stove. Here are some products (which I personally use and in no way getting compensated for promoting) and foods I like on my sand witches:
  • Vegenaise - How much do you l-o-v-e this product? You omnis might want to give this one a try too! We switched to this mayo alternative years ago simply because it was a healthier choice and haven't looked back at Hellmann's (Best Foods to you non-Mid westerners) since! Follow Your Heart brand has also joined the NON-GMO Project which gets big points with this little lady.
  • Smart Deli Roast Turkey Style veggie protein slices - Okay, they sound and look gross. I try not to use super-processed convenience food too often, however I do enjoy these deli slices on occasion - mostly for a quick, easy, protein source. No, they don't taste or look like deli meat, but they have a similar texture.
  • Udi's Millet-Chia Bread - I recently became obsessed with this bread. It is both delicious and healthful! I like mine toasted, then cooled for a crunchersons sandwich. It is also gluten-free. Could it get any better? Also very good as toast points with a tofu scramble.
  • LOTS of vegetables - avocado slices, kale, baby lettuce, spinach, sprouted anything, bell pepper slices, cucumber slices, tomato slices! YUM! I try and add the rainbow to my sandwich - no, not make it gay! Add a vegetable of every color of the rainbow for maximum vitamin (pronounced viiit-ah-min in the English style) power punch!
  • Hummus - preferably homemade or if not, Oasis hummus from our local falafel joint here in Iowa City. Since I am trying to eat a low fat diet too, I have been making my own hummus which has less olive oil, for a taste treat I get a container of the Oasis deliciousness. Hummus is also good on a sandwich as it is a little sticky and keeps the veggies from sliding around as much. 
  • Pickles - Current favorite = Brooklyn Brine Co. NYC Deli Pickle. This is a pickle spear on a whole other level! Chickie J got a deal (Groupon, maybe?) where we got three jars in the mail and NYC was gone almost upon delivery. I love a good pickle finger spear with my sandwich!
  • Mustard - Check the ingredient list carefully as some mustard's are not vegan Big D's homemade is my very favorite - we even went to the mustard museum where he got some supplies! Annie's has some good choices as does Organicville.

What do you like on your sandwich? Any wack-a-doo combination you enjoy? Any product recommendations? If you were to have a sandwich named after you - what would it be called and what would it consist of?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Vegan On The Road: TC: The Barbary Fig & Spoonriver

BLERGH! I don't have any food pron photos from these last two restaurants, so please enjoy some touristy shots of the Twin Cities - Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts museums from our trip. I *photo of Spoon Bridge and Cherry* Minneapolis. I really should have gotten one of these tee shirts at the Walker!

Where: The Barbary Fig

What We Ordered:
Appetizer: Hummus with warm pita bread
Entrees: Special order by the owner! When we told our server that we had two vegans and two vegetarians in the group she spoke to the owner/chef and he made us a delicious special lunch. The falafel was just mouth watering and their pitas were so thin and flavorful - I wanted the recipe. The hummus was a taste treat and had some different subtle flavors I wanted to figure out to add to my own. It was a real treat having a customized meal made with such care - I didn't see The Barbary Fig on many veg dining sites, so it might be a well kept secret. Vegans do NOT shy away - we were completely accommodated in every way!

What is happening to this young woman's face? I do not know. She appears to be a half pig/half girl "Animal Farm" hybrid (but a nice, sweet piglet, not a Nazi boar!) and I could not get enough of her.

Where: Spoonriver

What We Ordered: My fellow vegan, Big D and I both got the Chicken Udon Salad with Mock Duck subbed for the chicken.

Notes: In all fairness to Spoonriver, I must divulge that we met friends for dinner here and I was pretty busy jabbering away at my beloved college gal pal rather than paying attention to the menu. Bitches be triflin'! This restaurant was in an amazing location, had a lovely space and after dinner we walked over and toured the Guthrie Theatre ( which offered stunning views of the river and city. As a place to meet for a nice dinner and to accommodate vegans, vegetarians, an omnivore and a gluten-free diner; Spoonriver did an excellent job of making us all happy.

Why are dudes dressed as chicks almost always better looking than me? This painting also had me singing Tone Loc's well loved line from Funky Cold Medina "Sheena was a man..." under my breath.

I tripped over this hobo camp sculpture about fifty times and may have lost a toenail to bruising in the process. Who leaves a lead hobo in the middle of a gallery? Again, my mind wandered to my version of "improving" the art by adding an old can of pork and beans and a spork.

I do not see why the flattering, practical and comfortable neck ruff ever went out of style? I'm sure plenty of bed bugs bug, lice and sores could be daintily covered under so much white starched lace.

And that's a wrap for the Twin Cities May, 2012 visit! I can't week to return in November for my big Scorpio birthday bash with Cindy Sherman!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Vegan On The Road: TC: Ecopolitan

Where: Ecopolitan

What We Ordered: 
Appetizer: Trio Sampler - pesto, hummus + olive tapenade served with flax crackers (first image below); Chilled Celery Soup (no image)
Entrees: Rawvioli (top image), Pesto Pasta (second image below, Pesto Pizza (not shown)
Desserts: Sadly, my memory failed and I don't recall exactly what the three desserts were. (third image below)

Notes: Ecopolitan is a 100% organic, vegan, raw food restaurant (exterior, fourth image below). This was my first time eating raw food and it was educational, and tasty too. It was fun trying all the menu offerings and learning more about the raw food diet. The Rawvioli was my main course and it was heavenly - I would eat that any day of the week. The appetizer sampler was amazing and I would love to serve it at a party - very filling and a flavorful explosion in the mouth! We sat on the charming porch and read about colon hydrotherapy. 
Apparently colon hydrotherapists love a pun, for example eCOLONogical - only they take it dead serious. These are some hardcore butt water practitioners - so do not make fun! Well, you may make fun later - it's called manners!
The Ecopolitan building does NOT have air conditioning - so be aware of that if you were planning to go in the high heat of Summer. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Vegan On The Road: TC: Jasmine 26

Where: Jasmine 26

What We Ordered:  
Appetizers: Sea Salt and Pepper Tofu Cubes (below left), Spring Rolls with Mock Duck (below right)
Entree: Lemongrass Noodle Salad with Mock Duck (above & second below)

Notes: Our meal at Jasmine 26 was my personal favorite dinner we enjoyed in Minneapolis. This was no doubt fueled by the day spent dehydrated and hungry in a dive of a pinball/pool hall where I easily lost $20 on the Twilight Zone pinball game. Being able to wash our hands in the clean restrooms at Jasmine 26 seemed like the height of luxury! Despite the look of my atrocious low-light stealth attempt at i-phone photos; the food was bright, fresh and delicious with many vegan options. Yet again, we gorged ourselves on mock duck and it was succulent!

Below - pre-dinner pinball photos: African-American Santa Yeti??? and "Gorbie" (clearly NOT based on Mikhail Gorbachev - allegedly) are two of your fares in the pinball game "Taxi". Look at that shining neon beacon of a pinball sign! Glorious!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Vegan On The Road: TC: Hard Times Cafe

Where: Hard Times Cafe

What We Ordered: Sadly, I can't recall the name of what we ordered and Hard Times has no website (champagne problems!) for me to reference. I know I got a burrito, and it was a big fattie that I slapped contentedly. Weird habit: I like to smack my burritos before I eat them to test the ingredients packing level, distribution and fullness. This burrito passed the test. (below)

Big D, my vegan mentor, ordered a falafel plate and some monstrosity of a soda called Jolt. Jolt's original slogan from 1985 was "All the sugar and twice the caffeine". In my eyes it is a man-made abomination, but I guess it is something of a legend among cola drinkers. Admittedly, I hate all cola drinks - I am an anti-colite. Fun fact: on an episode of "30 Rock" Tracy Jordan demands a can of Jolt Cola, which he explains "will be hard because it no longer exists". (below)

Tacos, y'all with the softie shells! You really can't go astray with good ole tacos, amiright? Served with a side of chips and salsa. (below)

Notes: Hard Times interior is reminiscent of a punk rock dive bar from the early 80's once the lights go up after a hard drinking night and maybe a small fire and a few fist fights. We were there in late afternoon for lunch and the food was cheap and filling, the music was quiet and there weren't many other patrons present. The diners were varied and all very quiet ranging from a guy in a suit to some punks rock guys bumming cigarettes to a schoolgirl chic middle aged lady in a gyno short plaid skirt. I did think our cook was wearing an oxygen mask but it turned out to be my own fanciful interpretation of a side view of a tribal face tattoo. I have to say, it would be a fun place to eat after a concert (when I was in my twenties and could still handle mosh pits, loud music, and wore my knee high lace-up Docs). Try not to use the restroom - or just go to look at the graffiti and wash your hands. CASH ONLY!

B.A. Baracus pities the fool who doesn't recycle!