Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Entree Course- Butternut, Beans and Kale (The BBK)

Yesterday I shared this Watermelon Salad, part of a dinner created from a bunch of odds and ends in my refrigerator.  It felt like I was cooking like they do on a the Food Network Show Chopped.  You know the one, where they get a basket of seemingly unrelated ingredients and are challenged to make a great dish out of them.

I decided that the watermelon salad was good enough to get me to round 2- the entree round and so I share with you today the rest of my meal (sadly, there was no dessert round).

This turned out great.  I had cut up an eggplant to go into the kale filling for the butternut squash but  when I finished eating I realized it was still sitting in the colander in the sink!  That's OK, I ended up using it the following day. I wil share that meal with you tomorrow!

Butternut Beans and Kale (The BBK)

1/2 butternut squash (rounded bottom part, peeled cleaned ands sliced into rings)
2 handfuls of kale leaves, stemmed torn and massaged
1 tbsp garlic
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 cup pinto beans (if using canned drain and rinse well)
1 tbsp olive oil plus some for drizzling
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the squash rings on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the squash is soft and starting to brown.

In a saute pan over medium heat add the olive oil and garlic and allow to heat for about a minute.  Add the kale and vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper.  Allow to cook until the kale is starting to wilt and turns bright green- about two minutes.  Add the pinto beans and cover the pan.  Allow to cook until the kale is nicely cooked down and the beans are heated through.  This could take up to ten minutes.  If necessary, add more vegetable stock throughout the cooking process.

To serve stack the butternut squash rings on a plate to form a bowl shaped vessel.  Add the kale and bean mixture and serve.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Savory Watermelon Salad a'la "Chopped"

After a weekend of cooking for family what I had left in my fridge was a bunch of odds and ends.  Half a watermelon, a few bites worth of my Baked Almond "Feta", half a butternut squash, some kale, etc.

Not really having a clue what I wanted to do with these items I put it out to my friends on Facebook and one of them replied that she felt like it was the basket on the Food Network Show Chopped.  That made me laugh because for one thing, I agree, it did feel like that, and for another, my kids and I watch Chopped- a lot. I mean A LOT.

Now that I think of it many of my meals are like an episode of Chopped- staring into the fridge looking at what is there and figuring out how to make good sense of using what I have on hand.  In fact, sometimes my kids ask me to present the meals I cook to them as if they were Chopped judges. They taste, critique and then we all eat.

Today I share with you what I came up with in my "appetizer round" last night.  Not all that inventive really, but  a delicious way to use watermelon.  The quantities in this recipe are really to be left up to you based on how many watermelon chunks you wish to serve.

And, stay tuned- tomorrow I will give you the main course I came up with using my basket ingredients :)

Watermelon Salad with Baked Almond Feta

Bite sized seedless watermelon chunks
Baked Almond Feta, crumbled (recipe here)
Champagne vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Whisk equal parts of champagne vinegar and olive oil together until incorporated.

Place the watermelon chunks on a plate. Top with a mint leaf and a piece of the baked almond feta.  Drizzle with the champagne vinaigrette.  Sprinkle with salt and serve.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mini "Quiches"

I had a great Memorial Day weekend with family. My sister and her three boys came to visit and they along with my two kids had a great time playing. Cousins really are the best friends, aren't they?

On Monday my sister took four of the kids over to my Mom's house for an afternoon of swimming. My son,who was not feeling well stayed home to rest.  All of the sudden,what had been a very noisy house for several days (the kids range in age from 3-13) became very quiet.

I took the opportunity to whip up these mini quiches for a late breakfast.I got my inspiration from this  recipe that I found on Pinterest (I just love Pinterest, don't you?).  I changed it up a bit, because I wanted to use an eggplant I had in the fridge. I also used more chickpea flour than the recipe called for. I think given the moisture content of the eggplant it needed the extra flour.

These were a perfect late breakfast.  They would also be great along side a main lunch or dinner entree.  I think next time I may use some jalapeno or other pepper to give it some heat.  I will also add some green onion. I am not sure why I didn't this time, I have plenty in the refrigerator. I guess hindsight is 20/20 :)

Mini "Quiches"

3/4 cup chickpea flour
1/2 medium sized eggplant peeled and cubed1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
1 tsp paprika
1 large pinch baking powder
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the cubed eggplant in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt and allow to stand for about fifteen minutes until the eggplant releases some of its moisture.

Combine all ingredients except the eggplant, bell pepper and water in a large bowl. Stir until smooth..  Add the water whisk until smooth, and about the consistency of pancake batter. Add the eggplants and peppers and stir gently.

Lightly grease a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour the mixture into the muffin tin filling each spot about halfway.

Bake for 35 minutes until the "quiches" are set and start to pull away from the side of the tins.  Allow to cool fully before removing them from the pan.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Plan B Potato Salad

Memorial Day weekend.  Picnics. Potato salad. It is practically an obligation, right?  Well, I went to make some of my creamy potato salad and lo and behold I was out of Vegenaise. Gasp!! Since the grocery store promised to be an absolute zoo with people shopping for their own picnics I went straight to plan B.

Plan B was mighty tasty- this will definitely become part of the regular rotation.- it was delicious.

Plan B Potato Salad

48 oz fingerling potatoes, cubed (I used multi colored potatoes)
1 clove garlic minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
Sat and pepper to taste

In a large pot boil the potato chunks in salted water until fork tender.  Drain in a colander and set aside to cool.

Place the minced garlic an a small glass bowl and add the olive oil.  Heat until oil is just warmed through. I did mine for one minute in the microwave on high power.

Add the tablespoon of mustard to the oil and whisk to incorporate.  Add the oil mixture, the champagne vinegar and the oregano to the cooled potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and refrigerate.

Serve chilled.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Loc Lac (The Tofu Version)

Recently I wrote about my awesome dining experience at The Elephant Walk in Boston.  You may recall that I mentioned my sister has their cookbook. This weekend she is here visiting and she brought the cookbook with her.

While none of the vegan menu is in the book there is a recipe for Loc Lac- a marinated beef dish served with a lime dipping sauce t I think the dish is somewhat of a signature dish for the restaurant.  She and Mr. Meat and Potatoes decided to make the beef version. I opted for using tofu in my dish.  Very good.

We had some leftover corn on the cob from the evening before so we whipped up some corn salsa to go with it. They ate the beef dish, I ate my vegan version and all were happy with our meals!

Loc Lac (The Tofu Version adapted from The Elephant Walk Restaurant's Recipe)

1 brick super firm tofu (I used WildWood Organics Hi-Protein SprouTofu)
7 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 tbsp tamari sauce
1 tbsp organic sugar
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp water
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Zest of one liime
Butter lettuce leaves
Corn Salsa (optional)

Combine the garlic, tamari, sugar and 1 tsp black pepper in a bow.  Add the tofu and stir to coat.  Set aside for at least 30 minutes to marinate.

Combine the lime juice, water and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Saute the tofu until it is warmed through.

To serve wrap a lettuce leaves around some corn salsa and top with the tofu.  Serve with the lime juice mixture as a dipping sauce.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vegan Cuisine a Simple Art : Flow Bar and Restaurant Jim Thorpe, PA

Wow, wow, wow! I knew it was going to be great.  A weekend in Jim Thorpe with one of my best girlfriends,  dinner co hosted by myself and my dear friend JL at Flow Bar and Restaurant featuring a ten course vegan tasting menu prepared by Chef Zach Pelliccio, getting to meet up with some awesome fellow vegans- how could it not be great?

Parsnip Scallop with Sweet Ginger Carrot Puree

As much as I knew it would be great I will tell you, my expectations were completely surpassed. I was just blown away by the whole experience.

Cranberry Bread Dumpling with Miso and Chocolate Roux Gravy

I can honestly say that this is the BEST vegan meal I have ever had. And that includes the ones I create in my kitchen as well as the ones that I have had at acclaimed vegan restaurants!

Jicima, Fennel and Mint Salad with a Green Apple Coulis

Chef Zach's food demonstrated amazing creativity and he was able to develop such depths of flavor with each dish. It was sheer heaven!

Balsamic Pan Chard Brussels Sprouts with Sautéed Oyster Mushrooms

I love the fact that there was no fake meat, no fake cheese, not a single piece of tofu, tempeh or seitan to be found the entire meal.

Zucchini Wrapped Vegetable Sushi

There were no beans, no rice and no baskets of bread. The star of this dinner were the vegetables. So many varieties and such diverse preparation is what nade this meal really exciting.

Tempura Fried Squash Blossom Stuffed with Potato and Spicy Brined Cabbage
Served with Roasted Tomato and Coconut Sauce Aurore (Gluten Free)

The restaurant is located in the tiny little town of Jim Thorpe, PA which is only 90 minutes from my house. I just kept thinking to myself the whole time I was there "why have I never been here before'?

Tempura Fried Squash Blossom Stuffed with Potato and Spicy Brined Cabbage
Served with Roasted Tomato and Coconut Sauce Aurore 

It is an absolutely adorable town, with many bed and breakfasts, cute shops and restaurants with the feel of an artist community.

Organic Local Spinach and Herb Salad, Fresh Strawberries and Rhubarb 

There are galleries, an opera house, artists shops and everything is so quaint and within walking distance. I am definitely going back soon.

Sweet Corn with Roasted Cauliflower Dumpling and Cilantro Leaves

It was great to see and spend time with my friends Colleen and JL. And it was great to meet some fellow bloggers that I had only previously known online- Lydia and Mauro of From A to Vegan and Jen of The RA Vegan, who drove three and a half hours for this great event!

Sautéed Kale with Housemade Russet Potato Gnocchi finished with Black Truffle Oil

The restaurant is located in a converted factory. Owned by Victor Stabin and Joan Morykin it is a beautiful space whose artwork is abundant and stunning.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Beet Panna Cotta with Pomegranate
Lemonade Coulis, and Shaved Lemon Rind

Contained within is the restaurant, The Victor Stabin Gallery, an art workshop space and a very cool loft style apartment.. It really is an amazing place worth checking out. The food we were served by Chef Zach that night was really just an extension of the rest of the artwork contained in the space. It was as visually stunning as it was tasty.

And as if that were not enough, our hostess Terry at the lovely Rendon House Bed and Breakfast served us an awesome vegan breakfast.

She did a special seating for my friend and I along with Lydia and Mauro.

It was amazing!

This was truly a magical experience. And, rumor has it we will be doing it again so stay tuned. It will be something you want to attend!

Monday, May 21, 2012

So Much to Love Giveaway- Porcini Mushroom Stroganoff

I am so excited that my Porcini Mushroom Stroganoff is being featured this week in the So Delicious So Much Love Giveaway (and I promise you, is So Delicious!).

Even though my Sigara Borek did not win last week I am having a lot of fun with it- you can vote every day and for each day you vote you will be entered to win some really cool prizes!  And, if you vote for my entry at it wins you will have a chance to win an awesome weekly prize, too!

I hope you check it out and if you vote for my recipe, thank you!!

Happy voting!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Coffee Cupcakes with Biscoff Spread Icing

Oh, Biscoff Spread where have you been all my life? We seriously need to make up for lost time!

While traveling recently in Atlanta someone introduced me to Biscoff Spread. I eat the Biscoff cookies often, as they serve them on US Airways, a company I spend far too much time with.  The stuff is amazing!! It is the creamy twin to the cookies- and amazingly, it is vegan!

As soon as I put the first spoonful into my mouth I knew that I was in love! So creamy and sweet with that distinct Biscoff cookie taste.  The first thought that crossed my mind was icing.  As soon as I got home I got a jar and I searched for some recipes.  The first search result turned up this recipe from the Biscoff Blog.  Coffee cupcakes and Bscoff Spread icing? Sounds like a match made in heaven to me.

The cupcake recipe was super simple to veganize. I used applesauce instead of eggs and So Delicious Almond Milk Plus instead of dairy milk. For the icing I substituted vegan butter instead of real butter and  used So Delicious Almond MIlk for that, too.  The results were a success and I suspect the cupcakes will not last too long!

I can't wait to figure out other uses for Biscoff Spread. Or maybe I will just eat it right out of the jar.

Coffee Cupcakes with Biscoff Spread Icing

For the cupcakes:
1 1/4 cup cake flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup natural applesauce (no sugar added)
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup So Delicious Almond Milk Plus (Original)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
8 tsp instant coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the almond milk until hot but not boiling.  Remove from the heat and add the instant coffee and apple cider vinegar.  Set aside to cool to room temperature (you may want to place it in the refrigerator).

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt into a bowl.

In a second bowl mix the applesauce, vegetable oil and vanilla with a hand mixer until well incorporated. Add one half of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.  Add half the milk mixture and beat to incorporate.  Repeat using the rest of the flour mixture and milk.

Pour into muffing tins prepared with 15 cupcake liners.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clan.  Set aside to cool.

For the icing:
1/4 cup softened vegan butter
1/2 cup Biscoff Spread
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
3 tbsp So Delicious Almond Milk Plus (Original)

In a stand mixer, or with a hand beater beat all ingredients together until very very smooth.

Once cupcakes are completely cooled either pipe or spread icing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Elephant Walk- Boston

I have not been to Boston in years and just like that I am required to head to Boston twice in three weeks.  Ironically,  I had recently put out a request to my Twitter peeps for a friend for some vegan friendly restaurants. Little did I know that information would come in handy for me, too!

One of the suggested restaurants was The Elephant Walk, which for reasons unknown to me at the time rang a bell. I decided to give it a try.

I arrived at the restaurant and was greeted warmly by the staff and seated in a room with a great view of Beacon Street where the restaurant is situated.  As soon as I looked at the menu I knew I was in love-- a plethora of items labeled vegan!

The restaurant is billed as both Cambodian and French- I stuck with the traditional Cambodian fare as none of the French dishes appeared to be vegan and I had never tried Cambodian food before.

I started with the Vegan Rouleaux which are spring rolls stuffed with all sorts of vegetable goodness served with greens and sprouts.  The suggested method to eat them is wrap a spring roll in a piece of lettuce, add some sprouts and then dip into a lovely tuk trey sauce.  These were absolutely the highlight of my meal.  I dare say they were divine!!

I decided on the Tofu Citronelle which came beautifully presented in a lemongrass sauce with a variety of fresh vegetables including onions peas, peppers and scallions.  I found it a bit sweet for my liking, though I think this is really just a matter of personal preference and not a commentary on the preparation of the dish itself. I had suspected something a little more savory/spicy but I did enjoy the dish. I am not sure I would order it again, instead opting for a different entree.

Though not usually a dessert eater I decided that really ought to experience a Cambodian dessert. None of the options were specifically labeled vegan but my server was most gracious in offering to have something vegan prepared fo me.

I was served a beautiful plate that consisted of T'Peh which is a sweet fermented black rice. It was served with coconut and rum soaked pineapples.What an interesting dish. Sweet, with a great chewy texture.  I loved it.  Also on the plate was a bowl of what I believe was the Pot K'tis- more or less a sweet coconut corn soup.  The soup was silky smooth with a decided coconut flavor and laced with lovely chunks of sweet corn.  Delicious.

I am going back, for sure.  Oh, and that familiarity I mentioned earlier?  They have a cookbook, which it turns out my sister owns. Years ago we cooked a few recipes from it and I remember they were very good. I can't wait to borrow it- I am hoping the recipe for the Vegan Roleaux is in there!!

The Elephant Walk is located at:

900 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02215

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Sexy Vegan Cookbook- Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude- A Review and Giveaway

Brian L Patton, the author of The Sexy Vegan- Extraordinary Food for and Ordinary Dude, was kind enough to send me a review copy of his book and oh, thank goodness he did!  This is a really unique cookbook.  Yes, it has great recipes, but isn't that really just the price of entry when it comes to publishing a cookbook?

Cashew Ricotta

The book is funny. I mean, laugh out loud funny. I love his sense of humor and I actually did laugh out loud more than once while reading-  Brian has a very unique way of telling his story while also giving you really great vegan recipes- and not the type you need weird ingredients for, either.  Every recipe I tried I pretty much had the ingredients on hand.

Plus, any cookbook that starts out with a chapter on "The Most Important Meal of the Day....Cocktails", contains a "Pesto Manifesto" and Pizza's named after Nintendo video game characters really can't be bad, right?

For newbies to vegan cooking he does have some "WTF" references referred to throughout the book- "WTF is Nutritional Yeast?, WTF is arrowroot powder?", etc which I could see being quite helpful.

The Cashew Ricotta (pictured above, stuffed into something ending in "i" as suggested) was absolutely delicious. How could it not be with artichoke hearts as one of the main ingredients?  It has a wonderful depth of flavor,  is extremely versatile and is a new staple in my kitchen. I can honestly say I loved it.

I also fell in love with the Beany Tahini Burgers with Dreamy Tahini Dressing. As a kid, growing up in a home where we ate Middle Eastern  a lot the flavors were familiar and comforting.  The burger has a nice texture that held together well, created with some surprising ingredients- not the least of which are cous
cous and kalamata olives.

Beany Tahini Burger

I am thrilled to offer you a chance to win a copy of this book. All you have to do is leave me a comment below letting me know why you would like to win (along with an email address where you can be reached) and you will be entered. Simple! I will pick a winner on Saturday May 12, 2012.  Good luck!

Bottom line, highly recommended. Go out and get yourself a copy. Today!