Tag Archives: potatoes

Brussels Sprouts Christmas Trees

Sometimes I get really ridiculous ideas for pictures like restaging an incident when my friends broke my dining room table, or the famous KFC bowl redone but this one in particular was a long time coming. I think it was two Christmases ago that I came up with the plan to form a tree out of mashed potatoes and Brussels Sprouts but I have yet to make it for the actual meal because I keep thinking of ways to make it more complicated; cranberry decorations! ravioli and beggar’s purses surrounding the tree like presents! a star anise topper! gravy whipped into a snow like foam! The possibilities are endless really but the problem is the more you add the more people think you are a lunatic. It is a fine line.

We did this simple test run to see if the tree would even hold up and it did quite well. First we made mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and herbs. Then sautéed the sprouts (cut in half) with onions and balsamic. Then formed a pyramid with the potatoes and pressed the sprouts into them. Next time we are going to make the potatoes a little thicker so that they hold together better and cook the brussels sprouts with a nice miso glaze so they aren’t so dry. I also think chilling them in the fridge would also be a good idea. Finally, we baked them in the oven about 5 minutes, just to make sure everything was toasty and warm and then plated them (carefully) with a spatula. Everyone gets their own tree! What could be better?


How to French Fry a Potato or How Oil and Water are not friends

I think french fries were one of the very first things I learned how to make, somewhere between the olive sandwich and buttered noodles. My Baba would always cook them for my sister and I when we were staying with her and I have a distinct memory of trying to recreate her methods at my Dad’s apartment in Chicago while he was out. We poured all the oil into a pot but it didn’t look like enough so we filled the rest of the pot with water. I remember looking at the pot of water with the big circle of oil in the middle and trying to stir it up so that it would mix. We lit the gas stove and threw the potatoes in and for some reason we couldn’t get them to turn into french fries, I guess we never heard that saying about oil and water.

Somehow we didn’t burn the building down and my Baba told me how to make them. Although we were out of oil to try again that day I have made french fries a lot since then. There is something really fun about deep frying even though it makes a huge mess and is pretty bad for you. I do it just a couple times a year but it seems like I meet a lot of people who are terrified of deep frying things and that you need all sorts of extra gadgets or skills. You really don’t need anything besides a lot of oil and a pot. And something to fry. State Fairs have taught us that you can fry anything but french fries are probably the easiest. I thought I would give some tips for all the deep-fried vegans out there who eat out every meal because it is one of the easiest cheapest things you can do and a great way to celebrate Independence Day because there can be fire involved and what is more American than a pile of Freedom Fries?

First cut up your potatoes in whatever shape you want and toss them into a bowl filled with water. Next, set the scene. Although I can only remember one grease fire in my life it is a good idea to grab the baking soda and have it ready or a lid for the pot you are going to use just in case. You never want to throw water on a grease fire. That is the most important thing to remember because the fire will probably just go out on its own if you don’t put water on it. Water will will cause the oil to sputter all over the place and that is how you can lose the house.Also this is a good time to put a shirt on if you like to cook topless or an apron if you have nice clothes because some oil will probably splatter on you. If you are particularly paranoid you can also wear glasses to protect those seein’ eyes although it is unlikely the grease would take out both eyes. Probably you would just lose one and have to wear a patch. It would be really annoying to explain to people for the rest of your life how that happened though. Once when I was 12 I twisted my ankle playing ping pong and people still give me a hard time.

Next you want to fill a pot or skillet with some high temperature oil like peanut or sunflower. This is not the time for extra virgin unless you are Italian and cook everything that way.  This is the time to use really cheap oil, American oil. If you have a candy thermometer you can use it to see when the oil reaches about 375. If you don’t have one just wait a couple minutes and then throw in a test fry. If it bubbles immediately you are probably all right. If it sinks and you can count how many bubbles are on it you are not ready.

Here is another important tip: after you take the potatoes out of the water dry them off with a towel. It seems like an unnecessary step BUT  remember water is oil’s enemy and you don’t want to get caught in between.

Once the oil is ready gently drop in some a potion of the fries in using some sort of utensil like a fryer basket or tongs or even a fork. The key is to just place them in the oil rather than tossing them. Once they turn golden place them on some paper bags or paper towels on a baking sheet to get rid of the excess oil.Here you have a choice. You can be impatient and eat the fries or you can put the whole baking sheet in the fridge, let them cool for an hour or so and then give them a second frying in hotter oil. This is the step that separates the best restaurant fries from the worst. That and letting the fries sit out for awhile before serving. You have to eat those fries while they are still hot or no one is going to love you. And then you will be all alone with a bunch a mushy french fries wondering what the hell happened to your life. I take it back, the dog will still love you. Dogs are great that way. The best way to do it is do the first round of fries, beer batter something and fry it and then put it in the oven on warm, and then do the second french frying and serve everything together with malt vinegar.

To summarize this ridiculously verbose post:

1) Water Hates Oil

2) Deep frying is fast and easy but only if you do it right

3) soak your potatoes after chopping

4) mise en place! baking soda nearby, baking sheet with paper lining ready

5) dry the potatoes after soaking

6) fry the potatoes in batches

7) get rid of the excess oil before eating

8 ) cool for an hour

9) fry them again in hotter oil

10) Enjoy with malt vinegar and something else battered and deep fried because  you don’t want to waste all that oil

11) Dispose of the oil in the trash not in the sink

If you live in Austin and you don’t want to make your own fries there is a Belgian french fry trailer downtown called Frietkot they have tons of different sauces to try and many of them are vegan.

Vegan Bangers & Mash

Once when I lived in  Olympia Washington we went 97 days without the sun. It rained every day. The local news would keep a very dramatic SUN WATCH and report the number of rainy days like we were approaching the apocalypse. People started to act a little weird. One guy stopped leaving the apartment building and even stopped changing out of his robe and slippers. I stopped sleeping at night because I was working on a  project and it was easier to get blocks of editing time in the wee hours which made everything seem even more out of whack. The whole experience made me really crave sunshine which partially lead to settling here in Austin TX where you can have 97 days of sun and 100 degree days.

People say that England is very similar to Washington and that the winter is cold and rainy all the time. I haven’t ever been there and I haven’t really had any English food, it all sounds either disgusting (blood pie) or really fun (bubble & squeak) but either way I never know what the hell they are talking about until I look it up. I decided to make bangers because I saw ideas for the spice mix on a sausage forum. I knew the bangers were sausage but what the hell was the mash? I guessed mashed potatoes but this is the country that calls fries chips and a cooter a fanny so who knows what other backward ideas they have. After looking at a lot of disgusting pictures I learned that bangers & mash is indeed sausage and mashed potatoes. It is pub grub so you are supposed to drink a pint alongside. It is so British that Radiohead has a song about it. Thom Yorke is vegan so maybe they are searching for recipes to recreate this dish right now! (Hi Thom Yorke I dig your music, please play Austin next time you are around so I don’t have to drive to Houston). I thought the recipe for the bangers was pretty awesome but I don’t know if it is authentic! I tweaked it a little and I think it turned out great. Mr. Smurf applauded after he finished! If you try it and you have had the non-vegan version let me know how they compare.Bangers (make about 8 sausages or 4 servings)

2 Cups of stock
2 Tablespoons of oil
4 Tablespoons of soy sauce
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon pepper
dash of cayenne
1 tsp salt (if there isn’t any in your stock)
1 Cup of pinto beans, mashed
2 1/2 Cups Vital Wheat Gluten
First, get a big pot of water boiling and set up your steaming apparatus. I use a bamboo steamer on top of a stock pot.  Then tear off 8 pieces of foil, about 8X11 inches or (30X20 centimeters). Next mix all the ingredients, except the Vital Wheat Gluten in a bowl. Once everything seems well incorporated mix in the Vital Wheat Gluten. It shouldn’t quite be a dough but if it isn’t holding together at all add a little more vital wheat gluten. Divide it into 8 pieces and roll each piece up like a tootsie roll in a sausage shape and steam for 45 minutes, rotating the top and bottom tiers.
In the meantime make mashed potatoes however you like them. I like roasted garlic, earth balance and hemp milk added to mine.

When the sausages are done steaming, unroll them and fry them in a little olive oil with garlic on the stove and serve them with the potatoes and a nice pint. Enjoy!

Italian Feast, some Broccoli Quiche, and a Swiss Chard Fritatta

I have been cooking up a(heat) storm from Vegan Brunch so I thought I would share the wonder that is this books. First I made the Broccoli Quiche which was surprisingly creamy but somehow the Broccoli flavor wasn’t strong enough for me. I think next time I will saute it for longer with more liquid to bring out the flavor. It could have been a problem with my broccoli too. I love this picture I think it looks like some sort of a broccoli space ship.I also made the Italian Feast Sausages with Spinashed Potatoes and the Jalapeno corn gravy from the Veganomicon. I loved these sausages! It is so nice to have the recipe right there too, so I don’t have to come up with one on my own or look it up on my blog. We used these the next day for some Seitanic Jambalaya and they really elevated the whole dish. And the gravy was kind of magical despite its somewhat off putting yellow color. It uses only corn and cornstarch for thickening so it might be a good choice if you are trying to avoid flour or beans.  Finally the real star of the show, the Swiss Chard Frittata. I don’t know why this was so yummy, I think the only spice was Thyme or Oregano but I just loved it! I also made the lemon pepper roasted potatoes and they were really easy and good. Homemade Iced coffee has become my new staple and I am really excited to have it always on hand, but that is another post!I do wish this book had come out in the winter when I had nothing do all night besides cook, now that it is a hundred degrees outside and about a thousand in my kitchen is getting really hard to cook but I want to make everything from Vegan Brunch. What a conundrum.

The dog days of summer have arrived.

Vegan Brunch- Sausage & Greens with Smoked Almond Gravy

We have been day dreaming about opening a vegan brunch spot for forever. It is my favorite meal and probably what I make the most: breakfast tacos. Well now my concept of brunch has been greatly expanded since Isa Moskowitz finally put out the much anticipated Vegan Brunch book. I can’t wait to get a waffle maker and make some of the savory waffles! And here I thought I didn’t need any more kitchen appliances. Our first meal was in the top ten meals of all time according to Mr. Smurf who is a huge fan of Ms. Moskowitz’s work. We made Cherry Sage Sausages which were comparable with any vegan or non sausages we have eaten in out lifetime, smoked Almond gravy which was terrific, bagels with Kalamata olives that I raved about yesterday, and paprika spiced roasted potatoes which were (sadly) much better than my paprika roasted potatoes that I make all the time. Since it was breakfast for dinner we also had PBR.

The gravy was really terrific, it wasn’t as creamy as a normal gravy but the smokey taste added a lot to the whole meal. It is the kind of gravy you could eat with a spoon.

We had the cherry sage sausages in  a dish called something like “Collard Greens and Sausages” but I used kale because that is what I had on hand.  This is something that I make quite a bit but I followed the recipe for everything instead of just throwing stuff in and it really paid off. The potatoes, the greens, and the sausage were all great. I can’t wait to try more from the book! Hooray for Everything!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. It is a holiday that involves cooking, eating, being with your loved ones and being thankful for what you have got instead of buying something else. What could be better than that?

I started cooking yesterday by making a stock to carry through the rest of the meals and it worked really well. The stock started with all the vegetable odds and ends in the freezer bag and garlic and then I baked the seitan in it. While the seitan was in the oven I simultaneously roasted celery, parsnips, carrots, leeks, onions, and garlic and then when the seitan came out I used the leftover stock from that and added the roasted vegetables. Soon the stock was so rich and tasty that I couldn’t believe it. I added some soy sauce, a bay leaf, and some apple cider vinegar and at that point I could have just eaten the stock, but instead it was time to put the stuffed roulade back in the oven with the vegetables and some of the stock. The rest I saved to make the gravy which I made using a method from gourmet magazine.

All you do is roast a head of garlic, take it out of the peel and puree it with a fork, Make a roux: whisk together a tablespoon or so of earth balance and sprinkle in flour until you have a paste. Add the garlic puree and then incorporate as much stock as you like, if it gets to thin just sprinkle in more flour. I also added in kitchen bouquet gravy magic because I love it, it really rounds out the gravy and gives it some depth, salt and pepper and it was good enough to eat directly from the pot. It made me really happy to make this gravy because it is exactly how I used to make gravy except using roasted garlic instead of animal fat. I have to say that it was much better! It was so flavorful and you can make it any time.

The roulade turned out perfect, I must thank Emilie from the conscious kitchen for her fabulous recipe. (Note: That site is sadly down now but the video and recipe is still up) I was a little worried because during the first cooking I didn’t wrap it up well enough and it stated to look like it would fall apart, but after stuffing it and wrapping it the second time it worked perfect. The wild rice and fig stuffing was really good. I added sage, apple cider vineger, and used oat flour and it all came together so well. The Roulade was so yummy, I want to make it again except that it took forever and didn’t yield enough leftovers! I guess I will have to wait to enjoy it again next Thanksgiving.

and so I roasted fingerling potatoes in olive oil and then topped them with earth balance with chopped garlic. Instead of making Mashed Potatoes I decided (for the second year in a row) to opt out and make roasted potatoes. I had an epiphany that the thing that I always overeat on Thanksgiving that pushes me over the edge is the mashed potatoes. They are mostly just take up room that could be better utilized by alcohol. So now I make the multi-colored potato you have to chew, ahh, the healthy choice! They were so perfect.

The Brussels Sprout were my favorite part of the meal though I think. The recipe was from the Voluptuous Vegan except that I used miso instead of Dijon. Basically you brown pearl onions and the sprouts in olive oil and then add a mix of maple syrup, miso, and water. After that, you cover and cook for a few more minutes until it turns into a glaze and finally add in the pecans. They were delectable. I ADORE Brussels sprouts and these were next level.I also made cranberry sauce from the Voluptuous Vegan which was less of a success. The idea of cranberries, dates, and balsamic with sugar sounded great on paper but the recipe called for a whopping one and one fourth cups of sugar. My instincts told me that this was way too much sugar and I hope to some day learn to follow my instincts because the cranberries were good, but way too sweet.

It was the perfect thanksgiving meal you couldn’t ask for anything more, so thanks to everyone for the recipes and cooking tips! And thanks to everyone in the office who donated money since we were able to save three turkeys!

Thanksgiving is also McPuppenstein’s favorite holiday because there are always leftovers. He is not, however, allowed to eat from the table which  I guess is rather specist.

I am also thankful that there is still some pumpkin pie