Monday, October 28, 2013

Spicy Black Bean and Baby Kale Soup

For whatever reason it was freezing cold in my office building today. By the time I left all I could think about was warm soup.  I had a few things on hand that seemed as if they would come together for a quick soup.



For as thrown together as this was it sure did come out great. The recipe makes quite a bit so there are leftovers for lunches this week and probably some to go in the freezer as well.

With the weather getting colder putting some soup in the freezer sounds like a great idea to me, plus it was a good way to use up the baby kale I had in the fridge. I don't know about your supermarket, but mine sells baby kale in absolutely huge containers! Not that I am complaining, mind you.



This came out on the spicy side, so if you are not a big fan of spice you can cut back on (or omit) the red pepper flake.  After being cold all day today I think the extra spiciness was a nice touch.

Spicy Black Bean and Baby Kale Soup

1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into coins
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
4 large handfuls baby kale
1 tsp red pepper flake
7 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat add the olive oil. Once hot add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute until vegetables start to soften.

Add the vegetable stock and allow to heat through.  Add the Italian seasoning, black beans and red pepper flake.  Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the grape tomatoes and re cover and simmer another 15 minutes.

Serve hot.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spiced Pumpkin French Toast

Ah, fall. The crisp air, the changing colors, kids making piles of fallen leaves to jump in, and of course the pumpkins! Yes, there is pumpkin carving, but also the wealth of dishes you can make with a simple pumpkin that become so popular this time of year.



I was lucky enough recently to receive some samples from the So Delicious company. Included in my box of goodies was the Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk Beverage (oh, how blogging does have its perks!).  One of the very few milk-like products I can actually drink straight from the glass, it is also a wonderful add to any chef or "wanna-be" chef's kitchen.

In the mood for French Toast, something that does not happen too often, I decided to kick up otherwise ordinary French Toast with some pumpkin spice.  What better way to do that then with the Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk?

This comes together easily. I had a lot left over which I put in the freezer and have been reheating in the oven before serving.  I would encourage you to make "extra" to freeze, it freezes beautifully and is just as good the second (and third) time around.

Spiced Pumpkin French Toast

1 loaf day old baguette or other crusty bread, cut into thick slices
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups So Delicious Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk Beverage
2 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
Maple syrup
Powdered sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Cooking oil spray

Whisk the pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice beverage, tapioca starch, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla  together in a large bowl until smooth.

Place a few bread slices in the liquid and allow them to sit for a few minutes to soak up the liquid.

Heat a griddle or large frying pan over medium to medium high heat. Spray with cooking oil and place the bread in the pan. Allow to cook for about five minutes or until it gets golden brown on the bottom. Flip and allow to cook another three to four minutes on the other side.

While the first batch is cooking soak the second batch of bread to be cooked in the liquid.  Repeat until all slices are cooked.

To serve drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with powdered sugar (if desired).


Monday, October 21, 2013

Tofu Bahn Mi

I am so excited to blog about this sandwich. Until very recently I had never had a Bahn Mi sandwich.  While traveling on business in Chicago recently I ordered a grilled portabella Vietnamese Bahn Mi and I liked it.



I started researching "authentic" Bahn Mi sandwiches online and found that there are quite a few varieties out there. It seems that most recipes call for pork (or other meat) along with a liver pate and some pickled daikon and carrot.  I began to ponder how to make a vegan Bahn Mi that was true to the spirit of the original yet without the meat.

My version uses a mushroom pate instead of liver and thinly sliced tofu instead of meat. I will tell you, that beyond a shadow of a doubt this is THE BEST sandwich I have ever made and quite possibly the best sandwich I have ever eaten!

I made only one sandwich so I have a lot of leftover mushroom and pickled daikon and carrot which is a good thing because its what the family is having for dinner tonight!

Tofu Bahn Mi

For the quick pickled daikon and carrot:
1 daikon radish, spiral sliced (or cut into thin matchsticks)
2 medium carrots, spiral sliced (or cut into thin matchsticks_
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp salt

For the mushroom pate:
2 portabello mushrooms rough chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Braggs liquid aminos
Fresh ground black pepper

For the tofu:
Thinly sliced tofu (about three or four slices per sandwich, pressed to remove excess water)
1 tbsp sesame oil

For the sriracha mayo:
3 parts vegan mayo
1 part sriracha sauce

To build the sandwich:
Crusty sandwich rolls
Cilantro for garnish

First make the quick pickled daikon and carrot by mixing all ingredients into a glass jar. Shake well to ensure the sugar dissolves. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

To make the mushroom pate heat olive and sesame oils over medium heat in a saute pan. Add the mushrooms, onion and liquid aminos.  Saute until soft. Put in food processor and season with plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Pulse until almost smooth. Set aside.

Combine the vegan mayo and sriracha sauce in a bowl and whisk until incorporated.

In a saute pan over medium high heat add one tablespoon of sesame oil.  When hot, place the tofu slices in the pan.  Allow them to get golden brown on one side and flip to brown the other side.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the sandwich roll(s) in the oven until the crust starts to get crisp and the roll is heated through.

To assemble the sandwich slather one side with the sriracha mayo and the other side with a generous portion of the mushroom pate.  Layer the tofu slices on top of the mushroom pate, then add the pickled daikon and carrot and garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy!

While I looked at a lot of Bahn Mi recipes online this one is where I pulled the majority of my inspiration from.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

(Vegan) Sausage and Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

I am a big fan of stuffing squash. And peppers.  So, when I came home from the grocery store with a beautiful acorn squash I decided to roast it and then stuff it with the same filling I used recently to stuff some peppers.



My 11 year old daughter absolutely loves the filling (unfortunately she won't eat the vessels I have stuffed it into thus far).  It's funny. She is a vegetable fan, just not a cooked vegetable fan. For whatever reason she prefers vegetables raw. Hey, nothing wrong with that!

The recipe for the filling is probably enough to stuff a few squashes, I only did one with the intention of having leftover stuffing for her to enjoy.

(Vegan) Sausage and Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 - 3 Acorn Squash, cut in half and seeded
1 package frozen vegan sausage style crumbles (I used Wegman's "Don't Be a Piggy")
1/2 small onion, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 small red pepper, minced
2 cups cooked brown rice (I used Uncle Ben's Ready Rice)
1 tbsp fennel seed
1/4 cup parsley
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly spray squash halves with cooking oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on a baking tray in the oven and allow to cook for up to an hour and a half, until tender.

While squash are cooking place olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat.  Add peppers and onions and saute until starting to become soft.  Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and continue to cook a few more minutes.

Add the frozen sausage crumbles, cooked rice and fennel seed.  Cook until heated through.  Stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Place stuffing into the roasted squash halves, reduce the heat in the oven to 350 degrees and return the squash to the oven.  Allow to cook for about another 10-15 minutes.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lahmajun

When you decide to go vegan you know there are certain dishes and certain foods you just need to write off and/or forget about. If your convictions are strong enough it's not a big sacrifice, not something to be lamented; rather it is something you embrace.



There are a few Middle Eastern dishes I grew up with that were staples in our house. One of them was Lahmajun; an Armenian/Turkish pizza of sorts.  Traditionally made with ground lamb or beef and served with lemon wedges, it is something that we not only ate often, but something I really enjoyed. My Mom used to buy them frozen at the Middle Eastern grocer, and we would often have them for dinner. Sometimes we would even just pull them out of the freezer, heat them in a pan and eat them as a snack.

I had not really thought much about Lahmajun until I recently saw a picture of it online.  The memories literally came flooding back.  Not just the dinners and snacks at home but also thoughts of big family gatherings with stacks of Lahmajun being served along with lots of other Middle Eastern goodness. It got me not only thinking not just about how much I enjoyed it but about how certain foods, smells and tastes can literally transport you back to another time or place.

I started to research traditional recipes and figured I would give a vegan version a go. I would not only call this a success but I would call it a success of supernova proportions!  The flavors were exactly right, and the texture like I remember it; I was literally taken back to my childhood and the many, many times I enjoyed this dish.

If you have not had Lahmajun before you should give it a try. If you have had it, and like me thought it was something you would not experience again, give this a whirl; if the Lahmujan you ate was anything like what I did, this will not disappoint!

Lahmajun

For the dough:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage)
3 tsp salt
1 tsp organic unbleached sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Cooking oil spray

For the topping:
1 lb frozen soy crumbles, thawed (I used Boca)
1 red pepper, seeded, veined and cut into chunks
1/2 green pepper, seeded, veined and cut into chunks
1/2 medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 handful parsley (about a cup)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1/4 cup olive oil
Cornmeal
Lemon wedges

To make the dough:
Put all ingredients into a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.  Turn on low and allow to run for five or six minutes until all ingredients form a loose ball. The dough may be a bit crumbly, that is OK.  Remove from the stand mixer, form into a ball, place into a bowl spray lightly with cooking oil spray and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow it to sit for two hours.

To make the filling:
While the dough is resting, place the peppers, onions, tomatoes, onion, tomato paste, parsley, cumin, olive oil and paprika into a food processor.  Pulse to combine into a paste.  Place in a bowl.  Put the thawed soy crumbles into the emptied food processor bowl.  Pulse until finely crumbled.  Add to the bowl with the vegetable paste ad using your hands combine until well incorporated.

When the dough is finished resting preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a pizza stone or baking sheet dusted with corn meal in the oven  Break off a piece ad roll into a ball. Flatten into a circle on a floured surface and roll into a very thin circle. The dough should be cracker thin- no more than a quarter inch thick. You can make them as large or small as you want in circumference; I made mine about the size of a personal pan pizza.

Place enough filling on top of the disc to create a thin layer on top.  Place on the pizza stone and cook until crispy, about 7  minutes.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice on warm Lahmajun before eating.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Frozen Hot Chocolate

One of the really cool things about blogging is that occasionally companies reach out to me to try their products.  I must admit, though, I am a little behind in trying all of the cool stuff I have been sent. I will eventually get to all of it but for now, lets talk hot chocolate.  More specifically Frozen NibMor Organic Drinking Chocolate.



Recently NibMor reached out and asked if I would be interested in trying their Organic Drinking Chocolate.  Organic chocolate?  You don't have to ask me twice!!  They sent three packets of chocolate, and a recipe for a vegan frozen hot chocolate.  While frozen hot chocolate may sound counter intuitive it really works!

I used the mint flavor to make this, but the six spice or traditional would be great, too.  I also topped it with a few frozen strawberries which I found to be quite good.

I hope that this product will be available in the grocery store locally, I really enjoyed it!

Frozen Mint Hot Chocolate

1 package Mint Organic Drinking Chocolate
1 cup Coconut Milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage)
1 cup ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Enjoy