Bok Choy Bohemia | A Vegetarian Blog

Sunday, June 29, 2008

"half" Vegan quiche

I know there's no such thing as "half vegan". Either a dish is Vegan or it isn't...but with quiche I'm taking it slow. We're talking about a dish that's normally got three different dairy product, cheese, milk, and eggs. If I make a tofu cake in crust, that could very well be a good dish, but as far as I'm concerned, it's not a quiche.

The best thing about making quiches (I find) is that you can put whatever you have on hand into them, they're a great way to just finish off some produce or canned products, and things you never thought went together...become great friends. It all reminds me of a Ham on the Street episode on food network a couple years ago, when George Duran has a couple groups go into the supermarket and bring him back two random cans of their choosing, refusing to tell them what he's making. He ends up with one mandarin orange/cherry pie filling quiche, and one chickpea/tomato one, if I remember correctly. The tasters confirm that both are good.

Last night I had leftover Kale and Mushrooms in the fridge, and more sun dried tomatoes in the pantry. I also made a last minute addition of a quite random flavor.

2 cups flour
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup water
I bunch kale, de-stemmed and wilted down
5-6 button mushrooms, sliced
Couple handfuls sun dried tomatoes
Two spoonfuls capers
1 HALVED recipe V'con Cheezy Sauce
approx. 1 cup soy milk
4 eggs
Sweet Paprika
Red Chili Flakes
Salt and Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350. To make the crust, mix together the flour, oil, and water - add salt and pepper. Knead, and then press down into a pie tin, making sure it goes all the way up the sides.
2. Wilt the kale down in a skillet with lid, using oil and water for approx. 15 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms and a handful of sun dried tomatoes. Once the kale is done, add all three ingredients to a large bowl, along with the prepared Cheezy Sauce from V'con.
3. Add 4 eggs soy milk, spices and capers, and whisk everything well. Pour combination into the crust, and bake in a 350 oven for one hour.

kale/mushroom quiche
My crust was pretty crunchy this time, I'm not certain why, since I used the recipe that normally works out great. It was very humid, and the dough seemed a little different from the usual, so that may have had something to do with it. Otherwise this was pretty good...I didn't miss the real cheese as much as I'd thought I would, and the random combination of veggies turned out fine...although the capers WERE a bit strange....

All in all a success though, and since I've never made the same quiche twice, it'll probably only get better next time.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pasta Italiano..sort of

On our way to Chef's the other day (A HUGE kitchen supply store where I could liquidate my bank account in minutes if not chaperoned) I noticed a building signed "Connecticut Natural Foods Market" and being well...ME, I was intrigued. As it turned out, the store itself wasn't terribly exciting, but we did find one treasure. For under three bucks, we picked up a huge container of fresh sun dried tomatoes, where the only ingredient was...TOMATOES. I can't tell you how happy that makes me, and they smelled delicious. I had to have them.

Last night I decided to use my find, putting together a quick and easy dish that allowed the tomatoes to star:
sundried tomato pasta
The general theory with this dish was simply to sautee all the veggies while the pasta was boiling (I used a rigatoni) so that in twenty minutes or less, you have a meal.

sun dried tomatoes, chopped
green olives with pimentos, roughly chopped
one onion, halved then sliced
2 tbsp. minced garlic
4 sliced button mushrooms
Generous handful mustard greens, de-stemmed
Splash balsamic vinegar
olive oil
sea salt and ground pepper
chili flakes
dried basil; optional

I started by sautéing the onions, garlic, and mushroom with pepper and chili flakes. I then switched those out for the tomatoes and mustard greens, which wilted down even quicker than I'd expected.

The final step was simply to throw everything in with the pasta (reserve a little cooking liquid when you drain the noodles, it'll plump up the tomatoes) and add a generous splash of balsamic vinegar and a grind of sea salt. I also tossed in a handful of dried basil, although it's not necessary.

It was all topped off with some "veggie Cheese topping" (Not Vegan, but it eliminates animal rennin...and unfortunately isn't quite close enough to real Parm for my liking) and was gobbled up with some fresh made iced tea. The one conclusion we came to was that it would have gone great with some marinated artichoke...something to keep in mind for next time. Arugula as the green would've been great too, we just happened to have mustard greens to finish.

Easy Peasy...told you!


Friday, June 27, 2008

First TRINIDADIAN food ever...

We really did two main courses last night...a pretty hefty Asian soup, and a Trinidadian curry over Moroccan whole wheat couscous. (tastes just like the normal stuff, score huge)

The soba noodle and Napa cabbage soup came from Claire's All-American Vegeterian Cooking, written by Claire Crisculo, the owner of the BEST vegetarian restaurant in New Haven county. I do appreciate the irony in having chosen an Asian dish from an all American cookbook, but then I'm all about irony, and I tend to find classic American food pretty boring. (No offense to the American Gourmet Academy...)
saba noodles with Chinese cabbage in broth
This soup was made start to finish by my boyfriend, who unlike me, actually follows recipe directions to a T, and it was absolutely delicious. The only change we made was adding a diced up portabella mushroom, because it was starting to look pretty sad and I didn't want it to go to waste. In the end the portabella was voted a great addition, and we'd probably include it again in future enjoyment of the soup.

For my part, I made the Trinidadian Mango Curry from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. I was a little concerned when the first step involved puring a whole bunch of onion and garlic in a blender (not a smoothie I'd want to drink straight) but it turned out great. They key part of the recipe is to really let it simmer for awhile, so that all the sugars caramelize and sweeten the dish. I also replace the called-for jalapenos with one (seeds and all) Serrano pepper.
trinidadian mango curry
The couscous made the perfect base for the sweet and spicy curry in the starring role.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

New favorite snack?

I felt the need to buy a plantain the other day...because they were calling to me while I picked up bananas for my smoothie addiction...and they were cheap. There is of course the small detail that I've never bought a plantain in my life, never mind cooked one. But I decided I was up for the challenge.

I was thinking I'd end up with a savory side dish to balance out my dinner...but it didn't work exactly as planned. I'm pretty sure my plantain could have stood another week to ripen in the fruit basket for starters. I decided to keep things simple, and fry up slices of plantain with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
fried plantains

The end result reminded me a lot of dried banana chips, which isn't bad...I like those. These were very snacky, and went great with some evening activities...the salt was pretty key. Next time I'll probably let it ripen a little longer, and try working some sort of glaze into the skillet.


Some Asian Flair

I'd been thinking about Thom Kha Gai for awhile...which is interesting, considering I've never so much as tasted it. My boyfriend's mother ordered it when we went out for Thai before his graduation in May though, and it looked and smelled great. (although that version wasn't veggie) Add to that his statement that it's one of his favorites, and I was on a mission.

One thing I learned, was that the "gai" in the name means chicken. Therefore, the dish has hereby been renamed 'Thom Kha Tofu". When I served it up, sans chicken...he informed me it was a more than passable rendition, and while I can't compare it to the original I've never was damn good soup.
thom kha tofu
I got my basic recipe from Rodney B. over at Recipezaar and omitted/altered a couple ingredients to make it veggie/vegan friendly. (That's right, this soup is 100% vegan, and creamy beyond your wildest dreams.)
The recipe I used is here:
Thom Kha Tofu


  • approx. five cups vegetable stock
  • 1 (13 1/2 ounce) can coconut milk
  • Generous squeeze lemongrass (I buy it in a tube)
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • zest of two limes
  • juice of two limes
  • 2 chopped Serrano chilies, seeds intact
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, julienned in fine,short 1/4 inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • half block extra firm, cubed tofu
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 ounces chinese rice noodles, presoaked in hot water
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (leave the stems in!)


  1. In 4qt or larger, heavy-bottomed pot, begin heating vegetable broth and coconut milk on low-medium heat.
  2. Add the other ingredients for the broth, down through the brown sugar, as you prepare them.
  3. Bring broth to a slow simmer; never allow it to reach a rolling boil, and do not cover it at any time during cooking.
  4. When broth is simmering, begin adding remaining ingredients starting with the tofu, as you prepare them in the order listed, stirring regularly.
  5. Add the cilantro
  6. About a minute after adding the cilantro, taste the soup and add some additional lime juice as desired to punch up the flavor (maybe 1-2 T--don't overdo it!).
  7. Enjoy the heck out of it!

This is a pretty intense soup, but to round out the meal a little, we also made some of the Asian marinated tofu from V'con. I didn't bother with their detailed instructions for perfect grill marks, but rather cut the block into small triangles, and marinated and cooked it that way.
asian marinated tofu
My other half did a great job pressing these down as they grilled, so they were perfectly crispy on the outside, and had a toothsome chewy texture on the inside. I love traveling the world by cooking.


Apple-Cranberry Sausages

I've been excited about giving these a shot ever since I saw them over at Pamela Cooks. I've posted the direct link to the recipe on her blog, so that you're able to easily check it out.

As luck would have it, the huge chain-grocery store I do my shopping at...doesn't carry dried apples. After canvassing the store and enlisting the help of a dozen or so employees, I had to settle on the reality that a "dried cranberry-apply medley" was the best I could do. I'm creative...and cranberry sausages didn't sound bad.

Sausages are something I'd never eaten much of, even when I wasn't vegetarian, so I'm not sure why this recipe excited me so much, but it did. I've probably had more fake sausages in the four and a half years I've been veggie than real ones in the 18 prior years. Maybe that's why I was so excited about making my own.

They're definitely cool looking, as you can witness here:
apple-cranberry sausage
And they don't taste bad either, unsurprisingly. The only real complaint I had was that they're pretty mild...they don't have that savory spike that store bought fake sausages do. I'm considering adding barbecue sauce into the mix next time... to locate that missing element.

Regardless, they were MORE than edible, and with some Tobasco Sweet and Spicy (new product, you MUST try it!) absolutely delicious.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Breakfast Scramble

The one rule I have about tofu scrambles is that they must be yellow. Generally I’m not terribly concerned about food colors, since taste is much more important, and what law states that all scrambles MUST be yellow? But I like my breakfast protein yellow, and so yellow it was this morning.
tofu scramble
I wrapped half a block of tofu in paper towel, and placed a handy bottle of cider vinegar on top as a weight. In the meantime, I chopped up a GARGANTUON button mushroom, half a green bell pepper, and a tomato. The pepper, mushroom and crumbled tofu were all added to the skillet at the same time, along with mustard, turmeric, dill and sweet paprika. Once these were almost cooked, I added a healthy dose of my homemade pesto along with the tomatoes.

TA DA! I sliced up some of my remaining raisin bread from the market, and then there was breakfast… (Admittedly, I added a bit too much turmeric today, as evidenced by the almost neon yellow color)

I also spent some time last night turning my bountiful supply of basil into pesto, leaving a Tupperware full for the fridge, and several small Ziploc bags in the freezer for future use. While I don’t have a picture of the pesto alone, it is in the scramble, and will probably be appearing as an “incorporation” of several dishes in the future, so I”ll give out my TOP SECRET recipe.

Pesto is pretty much the easiest thing on earth to make, and I change it a bit each time, depending on what is on hand. This batch involved stuffing the food processor (several times) with basil leaves, a few mint leaves, some parmesan cheese (I considered replacing it with nutritional yeast, but wasn’t quite ready to make the leap on such a large batch), grinds of sea salt and pepper, and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. That was it…and it’s SOOOOO good, I just love pesto.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

The BEST, most eclectic dinner ever

Forget themes, random is WAY more fun...and tonight's meal was definitely fun. Fun and really, what more could you ask for?

This was a 3 course extravaganza, and it was all ready (start to finish) in under an hour. Pretty sweet huh? Be jealous.

The only dish of the three that was the least bit time consuming, were the Gujarati-Style Hot Sweet and Sour Potatoes from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. (I've got it out from the library right now, and the more I read the more I want to buy it) These were AMAZING. I like potatoes...I cook them a lot...I probably eat more than I should, considering they're sugar laden, high carb juggernauts....but I've never had them like this. I somehow managed to cook them to perfection, and in their sauce laden, very spicy, but also surprisingly sweet state...they didn't taste like any potato dish I've ever had.
sweet and sour potatoes
This must be what potatoes were MEANT for, thank you Madhur!!!

The green part of the meal could not have been more simple, and unlike with yesterday's escarole, I didn't blow it this time. We'd picked up some exciting "spring rabe" at the Farmer's Market, and I treated it just as I would normal brocolli rabe...which is to say I piled it in a skillet with olive oil, garlic, salt, and chili flakes, and stirred it around while it wilted down to perfection. Could NOT have been better.
I have to say that the coolest part about rabe, is being able to cook something that looks big, leafy and spinach like....and having the kitchen smell EXACTLY like broccoli. I think that's wild.

Last but not least, we were coming back from the pool earlier today, when my boyfriend mentioned that he really had a craving for buffalo wings. Since neither one of us eats chicken, that wasn't going to happen. I did however remember some remaining Franks Buffalo Sauce in the fridge, and it was suggested that in a marriage with the block of fried tofu from the Asian Market, we may have a match.
buffalo tofu
I cut the fried tofu into triangles, and then refried those in a skillet to crisp the "inside" parts of the triangles. Once fried, I tossed the tofu in a mixture of the bottled sauce and a healthy addition of cayenne pepper, since we'd decided the product was a bit mild for us the last time.
This was SO good. While the pre-fried tofu helped speed the process a bit, I'm sure it would be just as good starting with plain old extra firm. With a side of blue cheese dressing (what can I say...sometimes I'm bad) it simply couldn't be beat.

I wish I could magically bring this dinner back for a second time was THAT good, and all its parts will be recurring in my (not-to-distant) future.


Soul Soup in the Summer!!!'s summer, and yes, I realize that's not "warm the heart" soup season. I'm about 4 months late...either that, or I'm getting ready for next winter several months early. However, yesterday wasn't overly hot by the time the sun set, and in checking out the pantry, I discovered I had all the ingredients for the chickpea-noodle soup from V'con...something I've been wanting to make for awhile.
chickpea soba soup
I didn't have cremini mushrooms, so they were replaced by oyster (mushrooms), a texture I rather relished in the soup. (That's right, I just used the word "relish" as a verb!). I also shredded up a single leaf of kale because the pot seemed to be crying out for something green. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I poured in an entire package of soba noodles, which in hindsight were probably two to three times more than the recipe called for. In exchange for this indiscretion, the noodles soaked up almost all the liquid, and our soup was more pasta dish than well...soup. Never mind, it was still REALLY good...and totally heart warming.

I had a head of escarole from the farmer's market, and decided I wanted to do something with it. (I'd never cooked escarole in my life). I didn't have any white beans, but figured I could use the V'con recipe anyway, and simply omit those...after all, I wilt down greens all the time, it was bound to be good. probably WOULD have been good had I not burned the last of my garlic into black char, and decided to still use it. For some reason, I thought that would work out, and the char would magically vanish...but long story short, it didn't.
The escarole itself wasn't all that bad. Picking off the hunks of charred garlic however...not that good. Moral of the Story: If you screw up, start over, don't assume more ingredients will simply drown out the mistake. I will make this again...minus the whole burning part, and will then report back.


Friday, June 20, 2008

A little Asian Flair

The hot and sour soup recipe from V'con is a favorite in my home, and last time I made as much as would fit in the pot, so that I could put another meal's worth in the freezer for a later date. Yesterday was that "later date". The flavor and all the veggies were still as though I'd made the soup yesterday...the tofu apparently didn't freeze very well. It ended up very porous and a bit chewy, although to be honest, I'm not sure I hated it that way. With a sprinkling of green onion on top, the soup was good as new.
hot and sour soup

To back up the soup, I made the "baby bok choy with black mushrooms" from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. This recipe was DELICIOUS! I've been making the baby bok choy recipe from V'con every time I've had the vegetable recently, but this may just trump that as a new favorite. The sauce was thick, sweet, and yet subtle. The wood ear mushrooms I used were a perfect textural compliment to the bok choy itself. WHEN I make this again...I won't change a thing.
Doesn't it make you hungry just looking at it?


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Take THAT morningstar!

So I have to admit something to you all before we go any further. I AM AN........morningstar veggie burger lover. The first bite I had of their mushroom lover's burger began a not-so-secret affair of which my boyfriend should be jealous...if he isn't already. They are SO good, and as I discovered looking at the side of the box...SO BAD. The fact that they aren't totally Vegan doesn't really bother me, after all, neither am I. The fact that the entire second HALF of the ingredient list is made up of chemical compounds, preservatives, and colors does.

So I decided I was on a mission. I was going to make my own mushroom lovers burger, it was going to taste exactly the same as theirs, if not BETTER, and it wouldn't have any of that gross fake stuff my body hates. I wrote down the ingredients on the box, stopping about halfway down where the names start to get longer than my vocabulary. Because they included a very vague ingredient called "spices" I had to do some improvising of my own. I also didn't have the sweet red peppers they listed, so I went with some green bell instead. The soy protein and wheat gluten was replaced with vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast.
mushroom burger
I won't lie...mine aren't bad. Are they the same as Morningstar's? They aren't...yet. The taste is actually pretty close, I'm having more of a texture problem. Because my mixture was very wet, I kept adding more and more wheat gluten to try and soak it all up. The end result of that created a very "chickpea cutlets from V'con" sort of texture, chewy and almost spongy...good, but not what I was going for here.

They are definitely edible, and quite good, so I will post the recipe. (And anyone who wants to try it out and tell me what measurements they used, that would be highly appreciated) I do think I'd use MUCH less oil, if at all, because the mixture was very oily.

2 large button mushrooms; minced
1 portobella cap; minced
balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups vital wheat gluten
2 egg whites
Half bell pepper; minced
Heaping spoonfull garlic
1 cup water
Chili flakes
Mesquite seasoning

Sautée mushrooms and garlic in oil, a generous splash of balsamic vinegar, mesquite seasoning, and salt until cooked through.
Pour cooked mushrooms into a bowl and combine with ALL the other ingredients. I did all the dry ones first, then added the water, egg whites and oil.
Mash everything together with hands, and then form balls. Flatten the balls into 1.5 inch thick patties, and fry in the oil, approx. 4-5 minutes on each side.
It is very important that you mince the vegetables very small, or they will not mix into the patty and will simply separate out while cooking. I experienced some of this.

They're great on a toasted bun, although the supermarket ones we've got at the moment are a crime towards homemade veggie burgers. I enjoyed my burger with grey poupon on top, barbecue sauce on the bottom, and some red onion and mustard greens. Yum!

I will be trying these again at some point to try and correct the texture, so I'll let you all know how it goes!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Salad and's too hot for soup

Tonight's dinner was pretty eclectic. One of my bosses at work is a Veggie who eats fish and shellfish, and we often exchange recipes. Thinking I eat shellfish (I don't) the other day she gave me a recipe for a mango/shrimp cocktail from Rachael Ray's morning talk show. I looked at the ingredients and decided it wasn't a total throwaway, and that I could replace the shrimp with a light vegetable.

I was thinking kohlrabi would be a good stand in, but as luck would have it, between the farmers market, the health food store and the Asian market...I couldn't find any. I did however see lotus root at the Asian market, and decided that might work as a stand in...if nothing else, it's cool looking. I changed Rachael's recipe enough that I'm ok posting I'll do that here.
the best
What I did, was as follows:
Peel lotus root, and slice about 1/6 of an inch thick. Boil the slices of lotus root in water and a couple splashes of rice vinegar, with a lid on the pot...for about 20-25 minutes.
In the meantime, cut up one mango into chunks, and mince half a small red onion. Roll up a healthy handful of fresh mint, chiffonade and mince.
Make a vinaigrette out of lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes.
Once the lotus root is done, toss it in with the mango, onion and mint, than mix in the vinaigrette. This was good...but I think I undercooked my lotus root a bit, it still had a little bite to it that I'm not huge on.

The sandwich was the Vietnamese Seitan Baguette in Broth.
best pic
I used the sourdough baguette we got at the Farmer's Market today, and replaced cilantro with mustard greens, which I rather liked. The taste was awesome, but it was a mess-and-a-half to eat, and hard to get your hands around. I don't think I'd change it though...the whole thing just tasted so darn good together.
I also learned something new today in looking for Nayonaise...apparently it's now just called "Nasoya Spread" and comes in a very different looking jar. The clerk assured me it's the same thing, and it tasted the same to me, so I have no complaints.



I'm sorry I've been gone for a few days...I was working the gross 3-11 shift that obliterates any chance at life, and then we lost power for about 18 hours, which makes cooking well...tough, to say the least. I actually made a really good pasta sauce while the power was out, but didn't bother trying to photograph it in the dark. I can give you the ingredients though.

White Wine and Caper "no power" sauce
1 minced onion, sautéed in butter
Heaping spoonful of minced garlic
About a cup of wine
One Veggie bullion cube
1 cup water
2 heaping spoonfuls of capers
Generous grinds of pepper and sea salt
Red Chili Flakes

Stir onions and garlic until onions are translucent. Once you've reached this stage, all the other ingredients can be added. I used Sauvignon Blanc for the wine...but any dry white would do. Turn the burner down to simmer (thank GD we have gas burners, or none of this could have happened) and allow to reduce down. The sauce is very light in general, with a great peppery taste. Pouring some brine from the capers in doesn't hurt.

Today we did lots of shopping! We hit up Thyme and Season, which is the local organic foods store, as well as the farmer's market that started its season in New Haven today, and the local Asian Market.

Asian 6/18 2

The best thing about the local asian market is that it's INCREDIBLY cheap. For under $20 bucks, we scored 6 baby bok choy, the largest head of Napa cabbage I have EVER seen, a lotus root, a bundle of green onions, some Vietnamese spring roll wrappers, Panko bread crumbs, some rice noodles, a lifetime supply of soba noodles, canned leechee, seaweed snacks, and a block of fried tofu. (my boyfriend picked out that last one). The most expensive thing on the list was the HUGE package of soba noodles at a measly 4 bucks, and there's about 16 meals worth in there.

Then there was the farmers market, which I was bit disappointed in (I'd hoped it would be bigger with more selection) but there were still some pretty sweet finds.
farmers market 6/18
That loaf hanging out in front is cinnamon/raisin, and I could literally smell it as we walked UP to the farmer's market...and it wasn't even in the first tent. The entire loaf is covered in cinnamon sugar, and while I can't wait to rip into it...I'm sure my dentist (who I visited this morning...cavity free, yay!) would have a heart attack. We also got a sweet sourdough baguette that will find its purpose in the Vietnamese Seitan Baguette recipe from V'con tonight.

The rest was all in the green. I bought a rosemary plant that I hopefully won't kill immediately (I have the opposite of a green thumb, it's horrible) but turned down my boyfriends request to buy a cilantro plant the size of a large fern. GD knows what we'd do with that much cilantro...never mind where we'd put it...AND I'd probably kill it before we got our money's worth anyway. We also scored some organic mustard greens, kale, escarole, spring rabe, and a HUGE bunch of basil. (pesto anyone?)

The cooking will commence after jeopardy...


Monday, June 16, 2008

Hash Browns

I’ve been wanting to make these ever since I first saw them at Vegan Yum Yum.

I used the simplest recipe possible…grating 5 potatoes, mincing an onion into them, and giving the entire heap a good grind of salt and pepper. I squeezed as much liquid as possible out of the heap, and set to frying.

For the first serving, I used PAM and the hash was the perfect crispy consistency, but the color wasn’t exactly the golden/brown hue I was going for. The potatoes were pretty pale with brown freckles throughout. After that, I decided to try out olive oil in the skillet instead. This gave me the perfect color, but no matter how long I left the potatoes in there, with the exception of the edges, they never got very crispy. Worse still, when eating, I discovered they were squishy in the middle and a bit greasy tasting.

Does anyone know what method works best for that perfectly crispy, golden potato dream I’m going for? I’d love any help…

has browns

These were still delicious though…especially with my favorite breakfast dipping sauce: ketchup mixed with Frank’s Xtreme Hot.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

As promised

Here it is...the stirfry. I've noticed that stirfry isn't the most photogenic food on earth, especially when made with buckwheat soba noodles which are a murky beige/brown to begin with.

I must admit that I'm FAIRLY sure they were buckwheat...they looked and tasted that way, but unless I learn chinese STAT, I won't be able to read the ingredients on the second package either when I use those. I love shopping at the Asian Market, but sometimes the packaging can be a bit confusing.

The first (and most essential step) of this recipe, is squeezing the water out of the tofu. I wrapped it in paper towel, and then left the block under a cast iron skillet for about half an hour. Once done soaking, I started with some tofu geometry, cutting the entire block of "extra firm" into triangles and then tossing it in a miso glaze.

The glaze was made up of: white miso, mirin, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, powdered ginger, and lime juice. I then put all the tofu in a skillet, lying flat, and poured the remaining glaze on top. I let that cook for about 7 minutes, pressing down with a spatula, then flipped. After removing the tofu, I deglazed the pan with some mirin, then tossed in carrots, broccoli, onion, mushrooms and mung beans. I add tandoori masala to this mixture, and once done, poured everything over the soba noodles with a generous squirt of red chili oil.
miso glazed tofu closer
I wasn't a huge fan of the noodles...I think the buckwheat flavor was a little strong. I'd also assumed the leftover glaze from the tofu would incorporate enough salt into the dish, but in the end an extra squirt of soy sauce or braggs (depending on taste preference) was added to each bowl.

The tofu was however the shining star of the dish. It was VERY yummy, and cooked just right. I would definitely use the glaze again, although making it a little different each time is the most exciting part of cooking...


Saturday, June 14, 2008

A side

Last night's dinner was a conglomeration of leftovers and such, but I did make one very simple, yet incredibly delicious side.

Dump a bunch of baby carrots into a pot, drizzle generously with maple syrup (The real kind, from VERMONT...if yours is named after or is in the shape of someones Aunt or Madame, throw it out...go back to the grocery store...and get the real stuff) The good stuff has a grade...if yours doesn't, it isn't the right stuff. that we're over my little maple syrup rant, on to the meat (excuse the totally irrelevant metaphor). Cover the carrots and syrup with a generous splash of orange juice, and then fill with water until carrots are just covered. Simmer on stove until a fork can be easily inserted into a carrot. Most, although not ALL of the liquid will reduce away.
Added bonus? The leftover liquid is AMAZING soaked into the remaining cornbread I had from the night before.

I did more cooking today and took pictures, but I don't have the energy to post about it right now, so expect an Asian inspired tofu/noodle dish coming to this blog near you!



Friday, June 13, 2008

A Little Southern Flair

I was running on a theme yesterday, and I think I did pretty well considering it was all improv. I used the V'con recipe for skillet cornbread since I've been wanting to make the jalapeno variation since I bought the book. As luck would have it (and since making the cornbread at all was a spur of the moment decision) I didn't have any jalapenos. I did however have onion, and some red chili flakes, so I decided to rock that combination instead. The recipe said to scatter the onions/pepper over the top of the cornbread, which I did, and although it made it very pretty, for optimal taste benefit I think I'll mix them into the batter next time.
The cornbread on the whole was a little dry, I think mixing some soy yogurt into the batter next time will alleviate that problem...or perhaps simply adding a bit more soy milk than I did this time around.

The star of the meal was a jambalaya of sorts that was compiled of pretty much anything I could get my hands on, and nothing that I couldn't. Since I actually made this one up myself, I can give you the recipe, although you must take into account that I don't measure anything so all "measurements" will be very vague. Besides...that's half the fun.
Everything but the Kitchen Sink Jambalaya

5 cups veggie stock
1 six ounce can tomato paste
1.5 cups of rice (any medium-long grain will do)
one large onion, minced
Few handfuls frozen peas
4-5 large mushrooms
1 head broccoli
1 package Veggie Patch sun dried tomato/artichoke sausages (sliced into chunks)
1 Green (or any color you prefer) bell pepper
HEAPING spoon of minced garlic
10-12 cherry tomatoes, split in half
3 spoonfuls green olives with pimento
Mesquite Seasoning
Ground Peppercorns
Garlic Salt
Cayenne Pepper
Franks xtreme hot
Cilantro for Garnish.

In a large pot (I like to use a wok with a lid...the lid is very important) pour some olive oil and sautee the onion and garlic. Add ALL of the spices (I use a small handful of each, but obviously it's up to you), and once the onion starts to become translucent, the rice. Stir until everything is coated with oil and the rice starts to smell a bit toasty.

Meanwhile mix together the 5 cups of veggie stock and the can of tomato paste until well combined. Pour this mixture over the spice/rice mixture, wait for it to boil, and then turn the wok down to a simmer and cover.

While the rice is cooking, chop and stir fry all your other vegetables in a separate pan. Don't spice these, because chances are you've already got more than enough flavor going on in the rice. Don't bother with the tomatoes, frozen peas, or olives, because these will get tossed in at the end and you're really only trying to HEAT, not cook them. The sausages will spend the most time in the pan as the key to their role in the dish is being very crispy.

Once the rice tastes done/slightly al dente (probably 10-15 minutes) you want to mix in all of the vegetables. At this point I also like to add a couple dashes of Franks Extreme Hot, but that's suited to me and my boyfriend's palates. I also use a ton of cayenne...this may not be for you. Garnish with Cilantro.

The good part, is that after all this work, you will be able to eat something that looks like this:
And even better close-up!
jamabalaya 2
(sorry, I couldn't decide between the two pictures)
And you know what's even better about this recipe? You can use WHATEVER veggies you want...seriously...WHATEVER. Beans of all varieties are great in this too, if you want to use a premade marinara sauce (or your own) instead of the paste, that also works great. Whatever floats your boat would be great on your dinner table. The only reminder I have is that if you use brown rice, the liquid should probably be increased a bit, and cooking time will vary.

But go out, have fun, cook, eat!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pineapple-Carrot Sunshine Muffins

This is a V'con recipe that I must admit to slightly de-Veganizing because I didn't have the soy yogurt the recipe called for. I used dairy Vanilla yogurt, and kept everything else according to recipe. So we'll call them "almost-Vegan Sunshine muffins".

My boyfriend requested that I make half without carrots, so really these were half pineapple/raisin, and half full-on sunshine glory. Amusingly enough, in the end I think he may have even had more of the carrot ones than I did.

Just as the authors warned these don't inflate up into huge muffin tops, they stay pretty flat and you can definitely fill the muffin cups all the way to the I did. (I wasn't about to compromise my muffin size in the name of caution!) They did end up a little gooey on the inside, but I'd tend to think that's user error and not a mistake in their recipe. Next time I'll probably keep them in the oven for a couple extra minutes.

Otherwise these were just perfect, and quite summery!
pineapple-carrot sunshine muffins
Doesn't the one in front almost look like it's speaking to you???

They were even better slathered in lingonberry jam (yes it's an Ikea product, yes I'm a corporate whore...and furthermore I have no idea where lingonberries come from or what they look like outside of jam...happy now?)
muffin w/lingonberry jam

I'm still rather shocked these came out so well, baking tends to not agree well with me...I suck at following directions.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A classic and a Favorite

I was raised on Israeli salad (and many other Middle Eastern specialties) and made it a daily indulgence when I was studying abroad there during college. It's a total coincidence that my boyfriend who has never been to Israel was introduced to the dish by a friend years ago, and fell in love with it. We must be a match made in heaven.

This salad is quick, easy, and perfectly light for summer. While you can do any number of variations on the vegetables involved, the general rule is that you don't include lettuce, and all the vegetable are diced as tiny as possible. My favored combination is of baby cucumbers, bell pepper (green in this case, although any color is good) and organic grape tomatoes. (I like those because they're easy to mince in seconds, and I just think they taste amazing) Parsley is often added as well, but since I was out of that I used a handfull of chopped cilantro and I think it may even be better.
israeli salad
The dressing is just as simple: A splash of lemon juice, a liberal dose of olive oil (nothing from the Mediterranean is without), salt, pepper, and zaatar. If you don't have zaatar, it is available at any middle eastern grocery, and worst case scenario, a mixture of oregano and sesame seeds will do you.

The asparagus-lemongrass risotto was one of the first things I made from V'con, and I loved it so much I can't even bring myself to try the other risotto in the book. I have yet to make it with mint, because it seems Shaws has some sort of "mint embargo" going on, as they haven't stocked it in about two months now. I could try one of the other 3 grocery stores on the street, but old habits die hard. The recipe seemed a little different this time, I think because I poured in more lime juice in an effort to finish our little plastic lime squeezy, and may have downsized the sugar a bit, in an effort to less sugar.

Nevertheless, it was certainly still good, and nearly all of it was gobbled up before it could see the light of day as leftovers.
lemongrass-asparagus risotto


It's Burger Season!!

So I've never made a burger from scratch...the freezer in my apartment is usually full of Morningstar Farms Mushroom Lovers (me) and Original Gardenburgers (my other half). It's something I've been wanting to do for awhile, especially since I'm big on trying to eliminate artificial "junk" from my body, and processed "meats" are where I get the majority of it. That and I know the morningstar farms aren't Vegan...but I can't seem to find another one I like as much.

I decided today was the's summer, it's hot, and it's BURGER SEASON!!! I made the black bean burgers from V'CON and OMG are they good. I don't think I'll EVER buy a pre-made veggie burger again. The recipe gave an option between ketchup and tomato paste, and while I had the paste, there was nothing liquid in the recipe besides water, so I decided ketchup might be a better idea. It turned out great, and I'd definitely go with that in the future. Cilantro was also optional, but since I picked up a huge bunch at the supermarket today, I not only included it, but nearly doubled the amount called for. Another choice I stand behind 100%.

The burger is pictured below, I arranged it for optimal patty viewing:
burger close-up

I served it up on a whole wheat bulkie roll ($1 for 6 on the day old cart at the market, whoohoo!) with my signature burger spread.

I don't measure anything, but the ingredients in the spread are:
A healthy dollop Nayonaise or mayo
A splash of lemon juice
Grinds of salt and peppercorn
A large spoonful of capers...if yours are monstrous like mine were, you may want to give them a quick chop first.

Mix everything together, spread on your bun...and enjoy!!!! (trust me it's not hard to enjoy these, I'm getting exciting just thinking about the remaining ones in the freezer)


Monday, June 9, 2008

Seitan Piccata!!!

This is another one from V'con. I've never made piccata with actual chicken, so I'm not sure how this measures up, but it is definitely good. I fried up some of the simple seitan that I made earlier this week using the V'con recipe, and then got to making the sauce and green beans to lay underneath.


As I'm sure you can see in the picture, the one major difference between the recipe for normal piccata and mine is that I used green olives with pimentos intact instead of the kalamata/black ones recommended. The black ones always kind of taste like the can to me, and I couldn't find any PITTED kalamata olives....and I didn't plan on sitting in my kitchen for an hour attempting to pit them. Doesn't matter though...I really like the green ones in the sauce, and when I remake this recipe I think I'll continue to use them.

It is bedtime for me.....I need to pass out before I get all motivated and start cooking food I can't eat fast enough again.


Sunday, June 8, 2008


WARNING....this one does involve eggs.
The potatoes were totally Vegan, I made the diner home fries from V'con, for once following the recipe EXACTLY as it was written. I was tempted to add some chili pepper flakes, but I left them out. It was good, but I'm definitely excited about having a little kick next time, so I think I will do that in the future.

Nevertheless, the finished product was good, and very much enjoyed.
They really did remind me of ones I would get in a diner...crispy...kind of greasy, and oniony/peppery delicious. thumbs up!!!

And then I made scrambled eggs. I was going to to do a tofu scramble, but we've only got one block of tofu at the moment and about a billion eggs that no one's been eating, so I had to go the egg route. Perhaps it's a sign that in the future we should buy more tofu and less eggs. But anyway. I mixed a few eggs with organic 1% milk, paprika, zataar, salt and pepper, chiffonaded a bunch of fresh basil (that means I rolled it up and sliced it basically, not to be overly fancy) and rocked that with a healthy helping of salsa before the eggs finished cooking completely.

With some ketchup for the home fries (mmm corn syrup!) and a nice glass of milk for me and VERY Pulpy orange juice for the boy, breakfast was complete. And OOOH was it a good. I'm fairly convinced a good breakfast always means a good day...


Saturday, June 7, 2008

I've arrived I read food blogs CONSTANTLY. Particularly Vegan and Vegetarian food blogs, although sometimes I run the gamut. Well I also cook all the time, and although photography may not be my strong point, I've decided it's time I shared some of my own creations. So here I am!!!!

My first entry is probably not the best choice, because it lacks a bit in the photogenic category, but according to my other half, who is eating it now...the taste isn't a bit lacking.

I've done the herb scalloped potatoes from Veganomicon pictured in all their glory below
scalloped potatoes

And looking even better in a close up here:
scalloped potatoes

I don't know why the close up looks golden crisp and gorgeous while the wider one looks like the behind of a boy who hasn't seen sun in 3 years...but that's just how it is, and y'all will have to deal. So there. If you don't like my attitude this might be a tumultuous relationship, but I think we can be friends.

The only change I made to the originally V'con recipe was using a miso base instead of straight up veggie stock where called for, but since my boyfriend is a salt addict, I certainly don't hear any complaints.

One more thing...I like to sign off in my personal blog with the word "selah" which is a way of signing off and signifying the end of a yiddish story. I didn't want to confuse you now that I've got all that plus some food on the table...we'll call it a wrap on my first entry.

Here's to many more!

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