Day 29 of vegan recipe challege: 3 things to try

Who doesn’t like a round up blog post? It’s the cheat for promoting great ideas/content without actually creating much of said ideas/content. Call it the Upworthy or Buzzfeed creed. Without further ado:

1) Last Sunday, I held my inaugural “Cooking with Friends” adventure centered around a vegan staple: tofu. One of the most highly acclaimed dishes came from none other than everyone’s favorite crafter-gone-money-launderer Martha Stewart.

broiled tofuAfter broiling this tofu, make a wreath!

The recipe (found here) is ridiculously easy. The soy lemon pepper dipping sauce was a nice, punchy touch, and would make a great marinade or dipping sauce in other dishes, for sure.

2) This past Monday was Chipotle’s much publicized sofritas special. If you purchased a bowl/burrito/taco with sofritas on that day, you would be able to score a free bowl/burrito/tacos using your receipt on another visit. Alas, we were not able to partake due to time and finances (and the fact that we have a silly amount of food in our house). BUT – we did taste the sofritas a couple of Saturdays ago: I did a bowl with black beans, pico, and lettuce while Aaron took his in taco form topped with black beans and the corn salsa. The verdict: quite tasty with some nice heat. What a gesture to have another protein option outside of the bean staple in the takeout realm.

sofritasThanks Chipootle for bringing tofu to the hipsters

3) I still have yet to post about my (now TWO) sushi roll making adventures. If you’re in the market to get your nori on, the BambooMN brand is the set my friend Chelsea recommended to me, and I shall pass it on as well.:

sushikitKeep it rollin’

Even better, the price for the set is under $8.

Speaking of sushi, a new restaurant opened in downtown Durham this week. Basan brings more new life into the American Tobacco section of the Dirty D with a menu that boasts some pretty fabulous looking veggie sushi. For example:

Bonsai

Avocado, broccoli, carrot, asparagus, tempura green beans, wrapped with soy paper and cucumber, soy salsa on top

Garden

Frisee, tomato, avocado, cucumber inside, roasted pepper, chive on top, whole grain mustard dressing

This has been added to our restaurant must-hit list.

QUESTION TIME:

Alright vegans and non-vegans alike, are you a fan of sushi? If so, what are the ingredients you like to find in your roll?

Day 28 of vegan recipe challenge: channeling the God(dess) in all of us

I shall defer from making a litany of excuses and instead dive right into another recipe (blogger guilt in effect!) Although, I did write a blog post for our organization in the interim.

Need something simple, comforting, and cozy? From the brain of Isa Chandra Moskowitz, this dish combines tahini with tempeh, broccoli, and linguine to make that ideal bowl of goodness (or goddess). I tried this dish out last Friday on a friend, and rave reviews were heard around the table,

noodles2

Goddess Noodles with Tempeh & Broccoli
Serves 4
Total time: 30 min; Active Time: 30 min

8 ounces whole-wheat linguine
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt plus a couple more pinches
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flake
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
8 ounces tempeh, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
6 cups broccoli florets and thinly sliced stems
4 cloves garlic. minced
1 cup chopped fresh chives
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. When it’s boiling, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside, reserving a cup or so of the cooking water.

In a liquid measuring cup, use a fork to stir together the tahini, warm water, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Depending on the consistency of your tahini, you may need to add more water to get it to be relatively smooth. Mix in the nutritional yeast. Set aside.

Preheat a large pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Saute the tempeh in the soil with a big pinch of salt for about 7 minutes, tossing frequently, until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same pan, cook the broccoli in another 1 tablespoon oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes. The broccoli should be bright green and still have a snap to it.

Push the broccoli over to the side of the pan, and add the garlic, along with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Toss together and let the garlic cook for about 15 seconds, then  mix it in with the broccoli.

Now, add the pasta and use a pasta fork (or fork) to mix together the pasta and broccoli. Turn off the heat, add the tahini, and stir to coat. Now add the reserved pasta water as needed to thin the sauce and get everything coated.

Stir in the tempeh, chives, and some black pepper. Serve.

Notes from Isa:

  • The consistency of tahini can vary greatly from brand to brand. Some are thin and smooth, and others are firm and clumpy. Even the temperature of your tahini can make a difference. Depending on what your tahini is like, you may need to add more warm water to get it smooth. And if it is really clumpy, you may even need to transfer it to a small blender to smooth it out. For the best results, let your tahini come to room temperature before using for this recipe.
  • If you’re not up for tempeh, then you may use 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas instead. No need to saute: just toss them in with the linguine to heat through. And if you can’t find fresh chives, then chopped scallions make for a great dish, too.

noodles1

Day 27 of vegan recipe challenge: it’s time for Taco Tuesday

Plug (and not shameless) for The Lego Movie, which recently was snubbed by the Academy in this year’s Oscar animated movie nominations. This is one of the 3,409,340 movies I watched over Christmas (also known as 7 in my frame of reference), and I really, truly enjoyed it. So watch it, and say: everything is awesome. Which you will. Because it will be stuck in your head. (If you would like to remove that song from your head, I would recommend watching Frozen…so you can…let it gooooo…let it go.)

Back to taco Tuesday: no picture of these beautiful tacos because – tacos don’t last long enough in this house for their photoshoot.Fortunately, Isa and her crew at PPK also shared this recipe on their blog:

Ancho-Lentil Tacos (photo by IsaChandra)

This is also found in the Isa Does It cookbook (am I starting to sound like a broken record?) and one that is fast, tasty, and taco-riffic. For the times I have made this recipe, I have cooked up my lentils the night before. You can make them prior to starting the rest of this dish, or, if you’re in a pinch, you can purchase cooked lentils from the store. Canned lentils may throw off the salt balance, so be warned if you go that route. You can often find cooked lentils in either the produce or healthy foods sections.

Ancho-Lentil Tacos
Serves 6
Total time: 20 minutes; Active time: 20 minutes

For the Ancho Spice Mix:
2 teaspoons ground ancho chili
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the lentils:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion. minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons hot sauce (Isa recommends Cholula; I used Frank’s)

For serving:
Corn tortillas
Shredded lettuce
Salsa
Slice avocado or guacamole
Whatever else you like on your tacos

Prepare the spice mix: Put ingredients for spice mix together, Boom goes the dynamite.

Prepare the lentils:
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Keep a cup of water within reach; you’ll need to add splashes as you cook. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil with a pinch of salt for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the spice mix and toss for 30 seconds or so to roast.

Lower the heat to medium, and add the lentils, a few splashes of water, the tomato paste, and hot sauce; use a spatula to mash the lentils a bit as they cook, until they hold together. If your spatula isn’t working to accomplish this, just use a fork. Do this for about 5 minutes, adding splashes of water as necessary if it appears dry. Taste for seasoning; you may want to add more spices or hot sauce.

To assemble:
Lightly toast the tortillas in a dry pan, if desired, or microwave briefly just to warm through. Stuff with filling and fixings and then stuff face.

Taco Tuesday doesn’t just have to be on Tuesdays. Because today is Wednesday. And that makes this recipe taste even better. And, because:

Day 26 of vegan recipe challenge: cooking with friends

Perhaps “Cooking with Friends” could be the “Words with Friends” for the new year. Less wordy, less competitive, and the outcome literally puts food on the table.

Yesterday afternoon, my friend Jessi and I took on our own culinary friendship date. During the process, we touched on our own challenges when cooking with our partners: the improv chef versus the stick-to-the-recipe, the “this is how I do it” mindset [totally guilty of this one], so for a friend to be willing to chop, simmer, and saute along side you, I chalk that up to a pretty big deal.

We started with Angela Liddon’s Thai-Inspired Hydrating Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas.. I showed some self-restraint and allowed the chickpeas to cook longer than I had previously, giving them even more crunch (and subsequently keeping fewer on the baking sheet as I snuck a couple each time I walked by – oops!). Below, find the recipes from the Oh She Glows blog for both the salad and the roasted chickpeas.

Bowl2You will be quenched, my friends.

Thai-Inspired Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Yield: about 3 portions

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1.5-2 tablespoons natural cane sugar, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Salad:

  • 2 medium field cucumbers
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish
  • Roasted spiced chickpeas (recipe follows)

1. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and adjust to taste. Feel free to add more sweetener if you prefer. Set aside.

2. Peel cucumbers, slice off the ends, and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a small spoon (see photo in post if necessary). Slice halves into 1/8-inch “half moons” and toss into a large bowl. If your cucumbers are really big you can slice the half-moons in half as well.

3. Dice the red pepper and red onion and add into bowl. Roughly chop cilantro and add into bowl. Pour in all the dressing and toss to combine. Let this salad sit for about 30 minutes in the fridge, tossing every 10 minutes or so to help the dressing soak in.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the roasted chickpeas (if desired). Recipe follows.

5. Portion into bowls and top with peanuts and roasted chickpeas (optional). Serve immediately.

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Yield: 1.5 cups chickpeas or 3 (1/2 cup) servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (or 1.5 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a medium baking sheet with a couple pieces of paper towel.

2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and place onto paper towel. Add a couple paper towels on top and roll the chickpeas around until completely dry. This helps them crisp up in the oven.

3. Add the chickpeas into a medium mixing bowl and stir in the oil until coated. Now stir in the rest of the seasonings.

4. Discard paper towel and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Add chickpeas back onto the baking sheet.

5. Roast at 400F for 20 minutes. Give the pan a gentle shake to stir the chickpeas and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until golden and lightly charred on the bottom. I roast for a full 40 minutes because I like them on the crispy side, but keep an eye on them as oven temps vary.

6. Cool for 5 minutes or so and then top on your salad. They will lose their crispness quickly so these are best enjoyed immediately. If need be, you can freeze them once fully cooled, reheat them in the oven for about 5 minutes or so to bring back the crispiness.

But, that’s not all!

That was just the starter set. We jumped over to Isa Does It for the Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu & Kale. Recently, I reveled in my love for peanut butter. If you have the same lust in your heart, you will MELT over this sauce. After making it, I would put it on anything (even a bird):

No, not really a bird. But as pizza sauce? Yes. On salads? Yes. Over a bowl of quinoa and veggies? Yes. On ANYTHING? Almost yes.

Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu & Kale
Serves 4
Total time: 25 minutes; active time: 25 minutes

For the tofu:
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used peanut)
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the sauce and kale:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (!!!)
2 teaspoons curry powder (see note)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari (can sub soy sauce)
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 bunch kale, stems removed, torn into pieces
Pinch of salt

For serving:
4 cups brown rice, quinoa, or rice noodles
Sriracha (optional)
Fresh cilantro (optional)

Note: Isa recommended S&B Oriental Curry Powder. I could not find it so I used a traditional curry powder. If you can find the S&B brand, the star anise in it supposedly really shines. It’s on my list!

Prepare the tofu:
You’ll need a cast-iron pan, or something nonstick that can take very high heat. Preheat the pan over high heat. Once the pan is good and hot, apply the oil in a thin layer. Add the cubed tofu and sprinkle with the salt. The tofu should immediately sizzle when it hits the hot pan; otherwise, turn up the heat. Cook for about 7 minutes, tossing often, until it’s nicely browned.

Prepare the sauce:
Preheat a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat and add the oil. Saute the ginger and garlic in the oil for about 30 seconds. Add the water and deglaze the pan, then turn up the heat a bit. Once the water is warm, add the peanut butter, curry powder, rice vinegar, tamari, agave, and sriracha. As the ingredients heat up, the peanut butter will blend smoothly into the water as you stir. It should take 5 minutes or so, stirring often. Taste for seasonings, especially to see if you like the level of curry, and add more if you like.

Prepare the kale:
Get your steaming apparatus ready. Place the kale in the steamer and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Steam for about 5 minutes, until soft but still with a little spring to it.

To assemble:
Spoon the rice into bowls. Add the kale, then the tofu, and smother in the peanut sauce. Top with sriracha and cilantro, if you like.

How differently our three bowls turned out:

Bowl4Aaron

Bowl3Jessi

Bowl1Katie’s…and the worst photo (le sigh)

Have you cooked with any of your friends? Was it a success? Or is it still something we don’t talk about?

Day 25 of vegan recipe challenge: everyday I’m Brusselin’

Starting this post on a slight homage to Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks led by resident good-guy Russell Wilson. Still with the bitter taste of defeat on my tongue, I’ll still root for the Hawks since cheering for New England is not an option.

After the previous Sunday’s long run of 14 miles causing quite the mental consternation for me, I am happy to report yesterday’s 15-miler proved quite the opposite. Breaking my vow of no headphones, I donned a pair for the 2.5 hour journey, listening to two NPR Ted Radio Hour shows and one Pop Culture Happy Hour. Two things I learned:

1) Japanese bakeries in the United States actually invented the fortune cookie. During World War II when fear-monger and hate from the rest of the country led to Japanese internment camps, the Chinese ended up picking up the cookie market, forever cementing in the short-sighted minds of Americans that these treats were part of the traditional Chinese food experience.

2) The story of David and Goliath isn’t as epic as first told (or, repeatedly told). David was a skilled slinger, and the stones found in the particular region were much denser than traditional rock. Based on calculations, the force of the rock coming from David’s slingshot was likely equivalent to a .45mm bullet. Additionally, there is evidence Goliath had acromegaly, a form of giantism caused by the growth of a bengiun tumor on one’s pituatory gland.

Andre the Giant had acromegaly

Shifting from giantism to giantly good eats, I was surprised to find a recipe in the January/February 2015 Health magazine that: 1) was vegan; and 2) was simple. I have seen a shift to include more recipes in publications that are plant-based, which is great. I also received the latest Cooking Light in the mail:

It might be time for us to part ways, CL. It’s not you; it’s me.

So, Health magazine earns a win on this Brussels Sprouts salad. The instructions call fr you to break the sprouts up into thin ribbons. You may certainly do that. I got out the ol’ food processor and shredded away. Or, if you’re really short on time, you can purchase Brussels Sprouts pre-shredded from stores like Trader Joe’s.

bsprouts

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Mustard Seeds
Prep Time: 20 minutes; Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw pecans
16 ounces Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar (I substituted red wine)
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. honey (I substituted agave nectar)
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. brown mustard seeds (I used mustard seeds)
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet-tart red apple such as Braeburn or Pink Lady, cored and diced

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast, shaking pan once or twice, until golden brown and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on a cutting board for 5 minutes and then coarsely chop.

2) Thinly slice Brussels sprouts crosswise in 1/4 inch rounds. Remove any woody stems that remain and using your fingers, break up Brussels sprouts into thin ribbons. (Or, use your food processor to shred away).

3) Make dressing: whisk cider vinegar, honey, mustard seeds, shallot, salt and pepper to taste.

4) In a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add shredded Brussels sprouts: saute, stirring, until soft but still retaining some crunch, about 5 minutes. Add dressing and cook, stirring to combine for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Toss apples and pecans with sprouts. Serve immediately.

brusselsprouts

Oh yes, this is a warm salad. Great texture, tang, and crunch. I really cannot get enough B. sprouts in my life, and this will be a go-to, especially to complement a heartier protein or grain dish. Like this:

dinner1

The vegan Hoppin’ John recipe to come. Until then, reflect on the reason why many of us have today off: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his historic contribution to the Civil Rights Movement. I have Selma on my must see movie list. After watching 42 and 12 Years a Slave already this weekend, I still can never claim to have a full understanding or even comprehension of what transpired (what still transpires) in our world. But, I must stay present in it, must continue to learn, and then must continue to do what I can to transform the institutions and cultural norms that feed this vicious cycle of powerlessness, of fear, and of hate.