Tag Archives: dinner

Asparagus with Peanut Sauce

I was not really able to stick to my menu plan starting almost immediately after I got home from the store. I was scheduled to make a tofu dish but I was really feeling noodles and I also didn’t feel like following a recipe so this is what I came up with. It was so delicious! I used the peanut sauce from Get it Ripe which was delicious, maybe the best creamy peanut sauce recipe that I have tried. Unfortunately, it used coconut milk and a lot of peanut butter so it was probably very fattening.

All I did was stir fry some onions, garlic, and asparagus while I cooked the udon noodles. When the noodles were done I mixed them with the peanut sauce, topped with the asparagus stir fry, cilantro, lime, and spring onions. It was a great fast meal.

A Newflower in town

I have been eagerly waiting for the new grocery store to open close to my house and yesterday was finally the grand opening of Newflower in Austin so I ventured down there into the craziness, it turned out I wasn’t the only one excited about a new store. See, South Austin is the superior part of Austin in many ways but we are far enough from Wheatsville Co-op that I can’t just hop over there every time I have a craving for popcorn tofu. We have a lot of grocery stores but they all have their problems, sun harvest and randalls both have limited selection and are over priced. Central Market is fantastic but it isn’t a place you can just drop in easily and it is too easy to buy unncessary gourmet items (I am looking at you aztec dark chocolate at 12.99 a pound). HEB is the cheapest and they have the freshest produce and nearly everything I need but I hate going there because it is so crowded with children, shopping carts, hookers, and people doing their shopping for the next year that it can be an all day afair. And you can’t turn left from the parking lot and I don’t have a left turn signal so it is really the antithesis of fun.

It turns out that I have never been to a grocery store for its grand opening before and I don’t think it is something I would ever do again. Sure, there were some great deals (Boulder potato chips for $1.50! 10 limes for a dollar!) and we got a free reusable bag and a flower but I had to stalk a women with her children in order to get a parking spot and you could hardly manuver through the store because people were standing in line almost to the back of the store waiting to check out! And it is a big store. Did you know that they make seperate bread for men and women now?

Don’t worry gender neutral, transexual, and other readers there is bread that isn’t as gender defined as well as vegan at newflower. Their produce seemed really well priced, right up there with HEB and they had a full organic selection. In fact, the whole place kind of reminded me of an HEB if you just took out the junk food aisles, the candy aisles, the aisles of shaving cream, the aisels of holiday junk, and all the other stuff that makes it a “normal” grocery store. They didn’t seem to have any fresh vegan deli items or products but they did have the normal standbys, garden burgers, tempeh, seitan, tofutti, earth balance, vital wheat gluetan,  amy’s meals etc but sadly nothing new and exciting. The bulk section had really well priced nuts and flours and there was a small wine and beer section as well. Overall it was more of a “grass fed beef” place then a vegan place but if I can park there and not spend a million dollars on organic avocados I will be a happy vegan.

I felt silly taking a picture of my groceries!

I felt silly taking a picture of my groceries!

When I got home I didn’t know what to make. This is what happens when you go to the grocery store with no definite purpose! I decided to make something with the eggplant because sometimes I forget about eggplants and I made a Pakistani dish from World Vegetarian that used the Panch Phorum and amchoor that I got last week. I also made some Lemon Rice from Heaven’s Banquet which was good, but should have been a little less lemony.It doesn’t look beautiful even with the sunflower they gave me! Dan wasn’t impressed with the eggplant but I thought it was great. Instead of draining the eggplant while you salt it, the recipe called for soaking it in salt water which lead to a texture similar to cooked mushrooms. I also threw in the spinach because the meal was noticeably lacking in greens. The rice was really good and you don’t add the lemon until the very end so if you want to try it add a little at a time and see how you like it so next time I will do that. If anyone want the recpies just let me know and I will add them to the post.

Vegetable Love – You sexy mother dumpling

Is food sexy? Should food be sexy? If cooking for someone is love and love is sex does that mean that cooking for someone is seduction? Here is what prince has to say about it:
(you should listen to the song while you read this post, but I didn’t want to force you to)

We need to talk about things
Tell me what cha do, tell me what cha eat
I might cook for you
See it really don’t matter ’cause it’s all about me and you
Ain’t no one else around
I’m even with the blindfold, gagged and bound
I don’t mind
See this ain’t about sex
It’s all about love being in charge of this life
And the next
Why all the cosmic talk?
I just want you smarter than I’ll ever be
When we take that walk

Come here baby, yeah
You sexy motherfucker

These are the questions that were circling my mind last night as I made the sexiest food I could think of.  Susan over at Fat Free Vegan is having a Vegetable Love contest. The idea was to make a sexy dish for Valentine’s day and just the idea of it sent my head spinning. My first thought was asparagus and then quickly followed by mangoes. I thought about Oysters, I remember Dan Fielding was always seducing his conquests with oysters on Night Court but obviously they fall into the not vegan category. I knew I wanted to make some sort of dumpling as well so that the meal would be squishy and bursting with flavor but it also had to be spicy so I decided to stuff my dumplings with some sort of mango Thai fry. I thought about making a seitan sausage but I quickly decided that would be too much work and it would overpower the filling. I didn’t want to use tofu because that is such an easy way out! Then, inspiration hit me in such a way that if I were a cartoon a light bulb would have burst over my head: Oyster Mushrooms! It occurred to me to wrap the dumpling like a giant tortellini around an asparagus and finish them off on a bed of coconut rice. I went to the store thinking about how I was going to create something that could truly be called food porn. 

Making the meal was certainly a labor of love but once I tasted it and Dan said, “I can’t believe you came up with this whole dish” I knew it was all worth it. This was one of the best meals I have ever made.

Asparagus Mango Dumplings with Coconut Basil Rice

For the Dumpling Wrappers:
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup of boiling water

Add the water to a bowl with the flour and mix together with a wooden spoon. If it is too sticky you can add more flour a tablespoon at a time. If it is too dry you can add more water a tablespoon at a time. Knead for 10 minutes until a hole poked in the dough fills back in. Let it rest in a covered bowl for 30 minutes.

For the Filling:
*save your onion, garlic, scallion, and cilantro scraps for the steaming water
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon of ginger, chopped
2 red chili peppers, chopped
1/2 lbs of oyster mushrooms, separated into smaller pieces
1/2 cup of mango pineapple juice (or one or the other)
1 mango, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Heat a bit of oil or broth in a large skillet or wok on high heat. Once hot, add the onion and sauté for about three minutes. Add the spices wait a minute, stir, and then add garlic, chilies, and ginger. Stir for another minute then add the mushrooms and stir fry for another 3 minutes. Deglaze the bottom of the pan with the juice and add the mango. Sauté for another minute or two then add the scallions and cilantro and remove from the heat.

For the Rice
1 teaspoon of coconut butter
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of basil, reserve some for plating and chop the rest
1 cup of rice
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon of Vegeta or broth powder

Melt the coconut butter over medium heat making sure that it doesn’t burn. Add the garlic and scallion and sauté for about three minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, the rice, and the basil and cook another minute. Finally, add the water and the broth powder, mix well, reduce heat to low, cover and steam rice for about 30 minutes.

To Assemble
6 asparagus, end removed
red cabbage leaves to line the steamer
2 limes, quartered

Fill your steamer pot with water, the leftover trimmings, and the limes. Line your steamer tray with red cabbage leaves. I have a bamboo steamer that has two layers, you could use a steamer insert though and just do three at a time putting them upright and then keeping them warm in the oven. Roll out your dough into a rope and tear of fist sized portion. Roll the dough into a ball and then press it together between to parchment sheet. Roll it into a thin flat disc, about 7 inches in diameter. Scoop two tablespoons of filling into the middle of the disc and then seal into a half moon shape. Place the asparagus with the bottom in the middle of the dumpling and fold the two corners over it and seal the edges with water if necessary. Repeat until you have 6 for two people. I made extra dumplings with the leftover filling for later and just folded them into half moons without the asparagus. Bring the steamer water to a boil and place the dumpling in the tray. Alternate the trays after about 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the dumpling with tongs and if the rice isn’t ready put them in a warmed oven until you are ready. For plating I put the steamed red cabbage leaves and some basil leaves on the bottom of the bowl, I molded the rice into a smaller bowl and inverted it in the center of the dish. I topped arranged the dumplings on top, and sprinkled some sesame seeds and a mix of soy sauce, lime, and siracha. Enjoy!


Thanksgiving Leftovers: A slice of Thanksgiving

I don’t know if I made it very clear that I love Thanksgiving. Now that the big meal is over I keep having all these flashes of different things I could make with the core ingredients. As I side note, I think it is really weird that the internet at the papers are filled with “what to do with all this leftover turkey” I mean, how hard is it? It is roasted poultry, just cook anything? Since becoming vegan I realized that the turkey is not the flavor if Thanksgiving. The key, really, is the mix of gravy, potatoes and cranberries together that is so unique and representative of the meal. And stuffing. Oh I love stuffing. I love it and I am not afraid to admit it.

So I was thinking about eating the potatoes, roasted, for dinner (we had already had the leftover seitan for lunch) I wanted to slice them thin and utilize Brussels sprouts and then I starting thinking how nice it would be if they were roasted together on a pizza. When I thought of making a gravy as the base a lightbulb went off and I went to the kitchen to work on the pizza. First I used I made the dough using a standard recipe and adding chopped sage and rosemary into the crust. Next, I started to caramelize a sweet onion and sliced and prepared the rest of my toppings: potatoes, Brussels sprouts, pearl onions, garlic, pecans, and green beans. When the onion was finally done I added a dash of celery seeds and pinch of sage and then set it aside while I made a roux in the same pan with a little earth balance and flour. I added about a half a cup of stock, added the onions back in, and threw the whole mix in the food processor to blend it into a paste. I smoothed it out over the crust, topped it with the vegetables and put the whole shebang in the oven for about 20 minutes. When it came out, I topped it with dollops of leftover cranberry sauce and then enjoyed it to an extent that I can not convey to you. It was all the wonder of the Thanksgiving leftover sandwich but toasty, roasty, and better.

I was worried that the pizza was going to suffer from the absence of the stuffing element but I think the crust and the celery seeds in the gravy perfectly melded into the correct flavors and even a similar texture.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I was a kid I used to sing a song about chocolate chip cookies. So imagine this tune being screamed by a bunch of 7-year-olds.

Chocolate Chip Cookies you gotta have more
You can bake ‘um in the oven or buy ‘um at the store
But whatever you do have ‘um waiting at the door
And I’ll love you ’til I die

Last night I was feeling very ill and my wonderful man Dan made me a Shephard’s pie for dinner, then went to the store to buy chocolate chips while I watched the Cosby show, and then made me these mind blowing cookies. This is, yet another reason why I love him.

Tequila Sausage & Cornmeal Crusted Plantain Tacos

I made some tequila sausages based on Isa’s recipe. They came out really good, I love making these sauages, I have been trying to eat less soy so I keep falling back on thinking I need to make seitan even though what I really need to do is eat more vegetables! The problem is that I love making seitan, it is like a science experiment where you get to taste the results. It always leads me to think, next time I will make this or that but really I need to chill out, eat my greens and stop frying everything. I guess that is the problem with being a good cook, you eat all the time!

Despite my complaining I really liked these tacos. We got a fall harvest of tomatoes (take that North!) and I made a simple tomato salsa with them that was really spicy but perfectly complemented the tacos. I also had a plantain that I covered in cornmeal and pan fried. In another pan I sauteed the sausages with a red onion and then, just for good measure, I threw in some broccoli. Broccoli is really becoming one of my favorite things to add to tacos. It is hard to overcook and it really soaks up whatever you are cooking with in a lovely way while still holding up, unlike most of its leafy green friends.

If you already had the sausage made and the salsa ready to go you could easily make this meal in 10 minutes, just chop the onion, sautee it with the sausage & then the broccoli and meanwhile make the plantains.

Tequila Sausage

1/2 Cup Refried Pinto Beans (or cooked pintos mashed)
2/3 Cup Broth
1/3 Cup Tequila
1 TBSP olive oil
7 cloves of garlic
2 tsp fresh sage
1 heaping tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 heaping tsp salt
1 1/4 Cup Vital Wheat Gluetan
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Prepare steaming apparatus, I use a pot of water with a bamboo steamer sitting on top. Mix the dry ingredients together and the wet ingredients together. After everything is incorporated well add the wet to the dry and knead for a minute or two. Lay a piece of foil on the work area. Place 1/2 cup of the mix in the bottom third in the middle of the foil. Roll up into link and then tie off like a tootsie roll. Place the links in the steamer for 30 minutes and then refridgerate.

Makes 4 links

You know you are a vegan when….

You have 10 different recipes for mac and cheese and not one of them contains cheese! I feel like I make this dish all the time and I think at the point I like the vegan versions better. The first couple I tried tasted mostly of nutirtional yeast and I had to cover them in BBQ sauce to eat them but lately I have had several different versions that are wildly different and yet all satiate me when I want something creamy and startchy.

Although my favorite is still the I made a couple weeks ago and is a combination of the cashew ricotta from the Veganomicon and the Grilled Cheeze from the Uncheese book I really like this version from Veg News mac&cheese. The interesting aspect here that drew me to the recipe was the fact that nooch wasn’t subbing for the cheese, instead it got is creamyness from potatoes and cashews, its color from carrots, and its flavor from spices, shallots, and garlic.

I also finally found some Panko Breadcrumbs at central market and though they were expensive I bought them and then decided to bread my seitan cutlets with them similar to this recipe from Vegan Dad. I made this meal because my Dan really wanted fast food and when I was done he agreed that this was much much better.

Stuffed Sweet Dumpling

Did you ever want to just eat stuffing for dinner? Was there a time when you cracked open a squash and said “Where is the stuffin’ in my dumplin” well if so folks I have the meal for you. The Wild Rice & Pecan Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash. I think this could even be a good Thanksgiving or Christmas meal with some gravy and a cranberry dish. I was worried that it would be dry but I ended up just stuffing the squash not roasting it all when it was done. Mostly, because I was hungry and the squash was already cooked.

Recipe

2 Sweet Dumpling Squashes (or any other similarly sized squashes)
1 cup of uncooked wild rice
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped,
2 ribs of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 small apples, chopped
1/2 cup of pecans, chopped or crushed
1/2 cup of broth
1 TBSP fresh sage, finely chopped
1 TBSP fresh parsley
1 tsp rosemary
.5 tsp thyme
1 tsp marjoram
salt and pepper

First, bring the wild rice to a boil on the stove with 2 cups of water, reduce to heat to low and cover once it starts boiling. Next, cut around the stem of the squash in the same way you cut off the top of a jack-o-lantern. Remove the seeds and the stringy flesh and put the tops loosely back and place in the microwave. Heat on high for 7 minutes, rotate and flip, and microwave another 7-9 minutes. (If you don’t microwave you could also roast the squash in the oven for an hour or so). Meanwhile, heat olive oil or margarine in a large saute pan to medium high heat. Start sauteing the onion, leek, celery, and carrot until the squash is done (about 10 minutes). Open the squashes and remove as much flesh as possible with a spoon or knife without puncturing the outside. Chop the freed squashes into pieces and add to the pan. Add the apples and pecans and some broth to deglaze the pan. After apples are cooked through and starting to soften add the herbs, stir well but carefully and then add the drained wild rice. Salt and Pepper to taste. Stuff mixture into the squash and Enjoy!

Pecan Crusted Seitan Cutlet with Balsamic Glazed Carrots & Brussel Sprouts

One of my favorite restaurants in town is called Threadgill’s. It is this really old southern style comfort food place that is famous because Janis Joplin and others got their start there. I love it because they actually mark their vegan options on the menu which is very unusual for these southern-style places. Usually they go out of their way to add bacon or lard to every vegetable side dish. In my pregen days my favorite entree to order was the pecan encrusted chicken with brussels sprouts and candied yams. The other great part about Threadgills is that they have free refils on sides. How absurd is that!

Anyway, I decided that my seitan cutlets needed to be pecan crusted so I mixed some ground flax seeds with almond milk in one dish and chopped pecans, paprika, and minced garlic in another dish. The flax bath adhered to the cutlets really well, better than anything else I have tried and the pecan mix mostly stayed attached.Meanwhile, I had been sauteeing some baby carrots in eath balance on another burner. When it was time to panfry the seitan cutlets I moved the carrots to another saucepan with balsamic and brown sugar and placed the halved brussels sprouts face down in the remaining margarine and let them carmelize. Everything finished up 10 minutes later, I topped the carrots with chives from the backyard. The meal was truly delcious. I think I really captured Threadgills spirit. The seitan came out just perfect and the sprouts were ncie and carmelized.

Brussel Sprout’s Tower of Seitan

I have been wanting to try Joanna’s Chicken Style Seitan Cutlets for some time because they looked really nice and I haven’t had a lot of luck with other boiled seitan recipes. Rolling the pieces between parchment paper worked a lot better than what I have done in the past and my dough seemed really nice so I thought these cutlets would turn out just perfect. I decided to make broccoli polenta at the same time as the cutlets so I would be able to watch over them and make sure that the water didn’t boil- if it does then the seitan turn out spongy. I put the cutlets in a big pot and went to make my polenta and the water didn’t boil. As I was stirring the polenta I was inching the temperature up on the seitan so that it would start to simmer. Finally it did, I turned it down a little, covered the pot and watched as the simmer stopped. With the polenta cooling now I had nothing left to do but stand over my pot of seitan and watch to get it to simmer. I was worried that if it wasn’t simmering it wouldn’t cook right either so I boosted the heat a little more and hoped for the best and went into the living room. Five minutes later I came back to check and the pot was rapidly and frantically boiling. NOOOOOO! I couldn’t believe it after all that time. What a disaster.

The seitan cutlets finished and they tasted pretty good but the texture was all wrong so I decided to chop them into pieces and add to another dish where texture wouldn’t play a role. I came across this recipe in the Veganomicon for Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale, and Sun-dried tomatoes. I checked and I had everything but the Kale so I supped spinach and made the recipe. It was terrific! The polenta was already chilled and I broiled it while the braised seitan finished up. When It came time to plate the dish I knew there was only really one plating option and so Brussel Sprout’s Tower of Seitan was created and it was delicious! The sun dried tomatoes went so well with the Brussel Sprouts, I don’t think I ever had that combination before and the broccoli polenta was so good a creamy. A perfect meal.