Bok Choy Bohemia | A Vegetarian Blog

Thursday, October 30, 2008

lychee seitan and a sugar snap stir-fry

I remember when I was a kid, there was this fairly classy chinese sit down restaurant my family would go to from time to time. We always got the moo shoo pancakes (which I've already done a veggie version of) and another dish we often ordered was the lychee chicken. I actually haven't had lychee chicken in years...the last time we went to that restaurant I was barely in middle school, and your average take-out menu doesn't have any lychee dishes on it, not to mention the fact they'd have to do a lychee tofu for me to order it...

The time had come:
lychee seitan
The lychee chicken I remember had an orangey sauce on it, and I wasn't able to re-create that color, but from what I remember, the flavor here was spot on, so I'm rather proud.

About 2 cups simple seitan, cut into chunks
Corn Starch
2 tbs. brown sugar
15 ounce can lychees (you need canned, in juice, for this)
4-5 dried red chilis
1/2 cup pulp free OJ
2 tbs. minced ginger
generous squirt hot chili sauce
Peanut Oil

1. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with peanut oil, and heat over med-high. In a small pot, combine the liquid from the can of lychee, the OJ, brown sugar, chilis, ginger, and chili sauce. Bring to a boil.
2. Toss the seitan chunks in corn starch to coat, and then add to the skillet. You want to keep an eye on these, tossing every so often to make sure they crisp up on all sides.
3. Once the sauce ingredients hit a boil, lower to simmer, and add a cornstarch slurry. Start with about a tablespoon's worth and add more as deemed necessary. Allow to thicken for about ten minutes.
4. Once the seitan is crisped on all sides, pour the sauce and the lychees in with it. Mix everything together and allow to simmer for another ten minutes or so before serving.

I backed this up with a very simple stir fry of celery and sugar snap peas. I started them off in some peanut oil with minced ginger and scallions, and seasoned with some cracked white pepper and gomasio...which if you haven't come across it, is essentially sesame seeds and salt.
celery and sugar snap peas

The entire time I was eating this meal I wanted it to come out of a card board I'm wondering where I can buy those, I'm sure they're available somewhere, and it would be so much fun to eat home made take out from cardboard with chopsticks....


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Syrian Tomato Salad and Tuscan Zucchini Pie

I was feeling pretty global last night, so I decided to pull out Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian and see what she had to say that worked with my fridge contents.

Her first offering was a Tuscan Zucchini pie, that looked an awful lot like a quiche without the crust. I replaced the egg in the "batter" with silken tofu, and soy milk takes the place of the lactose version quite nicely.Unfortunately, there's not much more I can say about this. It's pretty bland and boring, and will be forgotten as soon as the leftovers are gone. Thankfully I made an arugula pesto (not pictured) to coat the top of this, and that helped things along, but it's still nothing to write home about.
tuscan zucchini pie

I also whipped together what she calls a "Syrian Tomato Salad". As far as I'm concerned it was an Israeli salad without the cucumber, but to each their own.
syrian tomato salad
Whatever it was, it was good.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Savory Kugel and Neatloaf

Tonight’s meal was pretty rustic and comfort food-esque, without a lot of fat. Sadly my kugel is not vegan, due to the egg noodles and the two eggs I used to bind everything together. I’m not sure what would take the place of the eggs here, since Ener-G is more of a rising than a binding product. I made this up as I went along, but it came out well so I’ll share, and if you’ve got ideas about how to replace the egg and still have everything mold together…please let me know.

savory kugel


1 lg. onion, halved and sliced into strips

1 cup frozen corn

Half cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

Half cup buttom mushrooms, sliced

1 lg. bag wide egg noodles

2 eggs, beaten

2 tbs. dried basil

Half cup dry white wine

Liberal sprinkling bac-uns

Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil

Sweet Paprika

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Boil water for the noodles. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over med. heat and add enough olive oil to coat.

2. Add onion and celery to the skillet, stirring until “just” translucent. Add all the other ingredients EXCEPT eggs, paprika (and noodles) and cook until corn is bright yellow, no longer, since these will finish in the oven.
3. Once they’ve cooked to al dente, drain the noodles. Mix in the vegetable mixture, along with the eggs.
4. Coat a large casserole dish with PAM (or equivalent) and pour in the noodle mixture. Sprinkle the top with Paprika, and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Once this is out, it’ll need to cool for awhile in order to retain its shape well, if you don’t mind eating a more “free form” kugel, feel free to dig in right away.


The “neatloaf” is another “Vegetarian Times Cookbook” recipe, and it is vegan. The recipe listed eggs, but had them down as optional, and although I was worried about what would keep the loaf together, I decided to go ahead and attempt it without.

While this tasted good, it did have some intrinsic (and not totally unexpected) issues. As expected, it didn’t hold together very well. The outside got a bit brown and crisped which helped it to maintain it’s shape, but once I attempted relocation to my plate, the soft, loose insides completely fell apart, creating more of a ground beef style dish. I was also looking for a tomato-ey presence (read; ketchup) that I should have added on my own, but I was too concentrated on following the recipe. While its been awhile since I’ve had either, the mild flavor and light color of this reminded me more of my mother’s fish loaf then a meatloaf dish. If I were to do this again, I think I’d extend the cooking time to solidify the insides more, and probably add ketchup and liquid smoke, if not a straight-up steak sauce to make the dish more “meaty”. I was also thinking about sautéing the veggies with some red wine to deepen the richness of the dish, and while I decided against, I think it merits experimentation in the future. For what it was, this was good, and I’ll have no problem finishing off the leftovers…but for what was touted as an American Favorite look-alike….it needs some work.


Mediterranean Burger

We still had two of those horrible “Bahama Burgers” I reviewed a while ago sitting in the fridge, and I decided it was time I “manned” up and took care of…one. I went with a “the more I put between the buns, the less I’ll taste the burger” theory, and it actually worked out quite well. In all fairness, the Mediterranean flavor is also not as bad as the pineapple-mango ones were.

mediteranean burger
I set these up in whole-wheat bakery rolls, with my traditional nayo-lemon juice-caper-pepper spread. I then sliced up nearly half a HUGE avocado, and piled that under a healthy mound of alfalfa sprouts. Pretty simple, and it was so good I plan on having the last burger the same exact way tomorrow…which will be even quicker, since I’ve got leftover spread and the avocado is already partially sliced.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Mushroom Stroganoff


Since the Vegetarian Times Cookbook is due back to the library this week, I figured I should try out a couple last recipes. (although I’m considering renewing). All of a sudden the mushroom stroganoff recipe was looking really good to me, which is interesting because I’ve never had a stroganoff in my life, and wouldn’t have known one prior to tonight if it hit me in the face.

mushroom strogonoff
This looked really good, and my better half thought it was great…but I wasn’t a huge fan. I’m not big on rich, creamy foods at all, and somehow it didn’t occur to me that something with a full container of soy sour cream would be rich and creamy…I’m not sure what I was thinking there. The recipe also called for a “meaty mushroom such as oyster or portabella” which is odd, since they’re nothing alike. I figured that since I already had a huge bag of oyster mushrooms in the pantry I’d go with those…bad decision. The oyster mushrooms were very “fishy”, which I didn’t like with the creaminess one bit, and in the future I’ll think an option like that through. I am thinking about eliminating the sour cream and going with a plain yogurt instead, to limit the “richness” and add an acidic component…perhaps a greek yogurt would do the trick.


Yam Noodles with Peas


First off, I can’t believe that I’ve lived in this town for more than five years, and just today learned that there is a fully vegetarian supermarket not ten minutes from my apartment. Who knew? To top it all off, the prices are more than fair, the selection is great (it’s the first place we’ve found in the area that sells nooch…up to now, we’ve been getting it from Massachusetts), and it’s got a full bakery and cafeteria, not to mention a second floor of herbs, spices and vitamins. SCORE!!! And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

For lunch I decided to whip up something quick and simple with the yam noodles we got at the asian market last week. While the noodles were cooking (they’re pretty much done once the water comes back to a boil) I set up some peanut oil in a skillet, and added minced, preserved garlic (a recipe from Vegetarian planet), sugar snap peas, dried red chilis, green peas, tamari, a bit of sesame oil, and some hot asian chili paste. Once the noodles were done cooking, they were drained, and added to the vegetables in the skillet.

yam noodles and greens
This was incredibly good, had just the right amount of kick, and was ready in less than 15 minutes…as lunches go, it really doesn’t get any better than that. To top it off, my other half introduced me to “Mochi” which is this sheet of hardened sweet brown rice, that actually puffs up when you toast it, way cool!!! He preferred his toasted plain and then dipped in Braggs…but that was a bit salty for my liking. I discovered that brushing the squares with agave before toasting was simple, and much more to my taste, although sadly these were gobbled up much too fast for a picture.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Potato Gnocchi

This one isn’t Vegan, and while I know you CAN make vegan gnocchi, I’ve never done it before, and everything I read said if you want to eliminate eggs, to use them the first time, halve them the second time, etc, to make sure you’ve got the hang of it before going completely without. Considering this was my first attempt at gnocchi, I think it came out pretty well, although I wish I’d had more than 4 small potatoes to work with.

Gnocchi Ingredients
4 potatoes
Approx. 2 cups cake flour (it’s lighter than normal)
Sprinkle Parmesan
1 egg

1. Peel and cube potatoes; cover with water in a med. Pot and boil until soft, then mash.
2. Add in the remainder of the ingredients, and then mix until it forms a single mass, at which point you can knead by hand. You don’t want this to be sticky, but it shouldn’t be so dry it flakes either.
3. Form the dough into uniform tubes about 3/4 of an inch thick, and then cut into small “nuggets”.
4. Drop the gnocchi into boiling water, and once they rise to the surface and float for about a minute, pull them out with a mesh strainer.

While the gnocchi was good, the “sauce” was the real star of this dish, although it’s so hearty, I’d hardly just call it a sauce.

Heaping tbs. minced garlic
Whole onion, halved and then sliced the long way.
1 leek, chopped into rounds
2 cups button mushrooms
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup dry red wine
2 Tbs. earth balance
Salt and pepper

1. Melt the EB in a large skillet over medium heat, and add garlic and leek, as these will take longest to cook.
2. Add the onion, mushrooms, salt and pepper, and allow everything to cook for a couple minutes until onions are translucent.
3. Add both wines to the sauce, and allow to reduce for approximately ten minutes…adding salt and pepper to taste.
4. Drop the cooked gnocchi into the sauce, and stir to coat.
5. Serve!

You can replace the EB with Olive oil, I just find that it adds a creamy element to the sauce which is nice with all the wine. Now that I’ve got my first attempt under my belt, I’m looking forward to trying an egg (and parmesan) free version, pesto gnocchi, and even other vegetables, like sweet potatoes.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chili Dogs and Beer-battered Seitan

Sometimes you just want some junk food...and tonight was one of those nights. First off I made some beer-battered simple seitan. I used the classic simple seitan recipe from V'con, and made a pretty standard beer batter with flour, baking soda, paprika, and beer. fried in some canola oil.
beer battered seitan
I set these up with some homemade honey-mustard (by which I mean I mixed mustard...with honey)and was somewhat weirded out by how close they looked to fried chicken, since I was expecting something closer to fish and chips.

Like Vegan Dad, I'd never actually had a chili dog, but when I saw his, I HAD to have one. His of course look perfect but mine weren't so bad either. I made the buns from scratch earlier in the afternoon, using the really easy recipe found here. They weren't bad, but the shape threw me off a bit before eating. They're also pretty pale, which I found a bit unnerving, but I don't think the pre-meal steaming did much for their color..although it worked wonders on their consistency.
chili dog
I made Vegan Dad's recipe verbatim, with a couple small changes do to pantry stockage. I didn't have any tomato paste, so I double the ketchup in the recipe and added some liquid smoke. I didn't have cocoa powder either, and instead chopped up half a bittersweet baking square, which gave the entire dish a slightly mole-like flavor. This was great, and I almost feel bad for the people out there eating "actual" chili dogs...they must be missing out.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Schnitzel and Fruit "cups"

Way back before I went Veggie, one of my favorite foods that my mother cooked was schnitzel...essentially chicken patties, breaded and then baked. That doesn't sound very exciting...but somehow, it IS. In Israel you can buy "vegetarian schnitzel" at every run of the mill grocery store, and it is generally full of corn or some other vegetable. That's great of its own accord, but it's nothing like the real thing, and I'd been craving it for years.

Fast forward a bit, and melbedggood posts her own veggie rendition, hooray!!!
Now before you start saying "oh, well that doesn't look very exciting", BITE YOUR TONGUE!! These were so good, I was nearly in tears when I finished the two allotted to me, since the recipe only made four. I hate to shake my allegiance...but these could unseat V'con's chickpea cutlets as my favorite "faux meat" entree.

I did have some timing and measurement issues, so I'll tell you all what I changed from the original. (I'm not putting it all here, since I gave you all the link to the original, and you should check out melbedggoods blog anyway!
The original measurements left me with a very watery end product, and to fix that I ended up quadrupling the vital wheat gluten called for. I also replaced the chicken salt with a .5 serving of garlic salt. I skipped out on the parm in the breading, and mixed nooch (nutritional yeast) into the breadcrumbs instead. As far as the oven baking goes, I checked out the patties after 7 minutes at 375F and they weren't even close. I turned the temp. up to 400F, and gave the first side another ten minutes. The second side got exactly ten, and these were cooked to perfection. An hour later, and all I can think about is when I'm making more...

I never learn that I should stick to food and stay away from desert...and I had some filo dough that had outstayed its welcome and was already beginning to dry and crack at the edges. I used my muffin tin to create little filo cups, which I then brushed with some soy milk. To fill, I sliced up some fresh strawberries, and mixed those with some frozen mango chunks, a sprinkling of raw sugar, lemon juice, and a shot glass of water. This all simmered for about five minutes, and was then poured into the "cups". I baked it at 400F for about ten minutes, and removed everything when the visible part of the cups was golden brown and flaky. Problem being, the fruit mixture completely soaked through the bottom half of the filo, making the cup bottoms soggy and prone to tearing.
filo fruit cups
regardless of their bottoms (or lack thereof) the fruit inside these was amazing, and the filo that did crisp up was a great contrast. I'm just wondering if anyone knows the trick to protecting the filo...baking it alone first, perhaps?

Cranberry Stuffing and Buttercup-Udon Stew

I’d been eying the kabocha-udon stew in Veganomicon for awhile, but held off, hoping I’d one day see a kabocha squash…no such luck. I wasn’t able to find the kombu either, which is supposed to flavor the stock. I finally decided the time had come regardless, and I would just improvise. I had all the other ingredients on hand, and the dish did come out pretty well:

buttercup udon stew

I definitely under-tamari-d a bit, because I was afraid of sodium overload, and as a result, bowls of the leftovers will each get a squirt of braggs. This needed some additional spice as well, and I think I’d add a generous squirt of hot chili oil in future editions. Who knows…I may even find the kombu someday…

Just to be totally random, I decided to make some stuffing as well. I had a bag of the potato rolls that was STILL rolling around in the fridge, and even though they were long stale, I figured stuffing would offer them a noble ending. I was also in the mood for cranberries, and in honor of Veganmofo, wanted to keep this one dairy free, which left me short my normal binder…eggs. My favorite stuffings of the past were also heavy on the butter, another no-no for the vegan challenge and my waistline.
cranberry stuffing

I started by creating a pretty simple cranberry sauce, simple boiling down the berries with some sugar and water. I then mixed that into the bread, a couple stalks of slicked celery, a minced onion, rubbed sage, cayenne, bac-uns, 1 cup veg. stock, and salt and pepper. I’m not going to bother you all with more specific directions, because to be honest it wasn’t very good. It held together much better than anticipated. (and I’m not totally sure how) Apart from the tang provided by the cranberries, this was just bland…and pretty boring. I think it had a lot to do with the rolls, which were too “wheaty” tasting for the dish. I was also hoping the bac-uns would come out more, since I’m told bacon in stuffing is amazing, but they got completely drowned out somewhere in the cooking process. All in all, this one definitely needs work. I’m very into the idea of a vegan, low-fat stuffing….this just isn’t quite it.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Roasted Root Veggies

With a serious chill setting in, I decided to try out a heartier version of roasted veggies. It ended up a little different from my original plan, but still not bad.

Into the casserole dish went: a HUGE daikon root we picked up at the asian market, a couple very large carrots, a large onion, two zucchinis, and 4 beets. Those were hit with some salt, pepper, and fennel seeds, and then tossed in canola oil.
roasted root veggies
I put these in a 400F oven for 45 minutes, but as it turns out, they need a bit longer than that….I’d say an hour at 425F to really soften up and develop all their flavors. I’m not sure how I feel about roasted daikon…it’s not bad, but still has a bit of that bitter “radish” taste to it. I’ll probably stick to my favorite method of pickling from here on in. Beets on the other hand, which normally sketch me out, are REALLY good roasted, the sugars develop and make them really sweet…the only downside is that they turn everything else purple too.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Asian Experiment

Today I decided it was time to hit up the Asian Market again...mostly because I was down to the last drop of peanut oil, and there's no better (read; cheaper) place to get it.

We decided to play around in the aisles a bit, picking up a bunch of stuff we'd either never seen...or never eaten before. After the trip there as well as an over-flowing cart full at Shaws (I haven't been posting because we've had no food!) it was high time for a late lunch, and I decided to try out some of the new ingredients we'd picked up.
asian experiment
I pulled out the wok, and stir-fried "vegetarian pork in sauce", bamboo shoots in chili sauce, mung beans, fresh straw mushrooms, and the leafy greens from the beets we picked up at Shaws. I got everything started with the last of our former peanut oil, and spiced it up with an overflowing spoonful of hoisen and some five spice powder.

In summary? The fake pork I could do without...the texture's ok, but it's got a faint aftertaste that isn't my favorite. The bamboo shoots in chili oil on the other hand....NEW FAVORITE FOOD. I liked the straw mushrooms as well, they turned out a lot like spaghetti, and given the choice...I'm ALL over straw mushrooms with there's an idea.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


This was definitely an "everything but the kitchen sink" type dish, inspired by a paella I saw Curtis Stone make on Take Home Chef this afternoon (I admit to watching way too much television) and a need to finish off a bunch of things in the fridge that didn't add up to any more specific recipes.
I'd been making saffron rice forever, and never realized I could call it paella until I heard the term on an episode of Weeds a couple years ago, and googled the dish. That was all it took...I could make saffron rice, dump a bunch of leftover veggies into it, and call the dish something fancy and gourmet sounding, who knew?
This was a much brighter yellow then it appears in the picture, I'm not quite sure what happened with the lighting there.

2 cups rice
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
1 large onion, minced
3 cloves garlic
bunch fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup chopped cauliflower (the last of my yellow head)
half jar whole black olives
1 cup julienned baby carrots
3 tbs. capers; chopped
half block frozen and defrosted tofu
1 cup re-hydrated oyster mushrooms
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 stalks green onion, sliced
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. saffron powder
Generous grind pepper
Generous splash hot chili sauce.

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Boil some water in a tea kettle to re-constitute the mushrooms, and heat the vegetable broth. Set a wok or paella pan on med/hi heat, and pour the olive oil in the bottom.
2. Add minced onion and garlic to the pan, and stir until translucent. Add the saffron powder, pepper, and all ingredients from spinach to peas, along with the rice. Add the wine, and stir until the rice smells a little toasty.
3. Add the vegetable broth one cup at a time, allowing everything to simmer for approximately ten minutes. Add the chili sauce, and stir together.
4. Put the entire pan in the oven, and cook at 400F for 20 minutes. Once the paella comes out, stir in the green onion, and serve!

If you're not into spice, eliminate the chili sauce, we like everything with a kick around here, but asian chili sauce isn't exactly a traditional paella ingredient.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vietnamese Spring Rolls w/Dipping Sauce

I was craving the chili-cherry dipping sauce in the fridge, and rather than eat it straight with a spoon, I made some simple spring rolls to back it up. The inside of these consisted of julienned carrots, red bell pepper, onion, jalapeno, rice noodles, green onion, and some grated frozen then defrosted tofu. I stir fried all of that with some peanut oil and five spice powder, and then commenced to make the rolls.
vietnamese spring rolls
These were very simple...after all, the whole affair was an excuse to eat copious amounts of the cherry dipping sauce. Unfortunately, with all the veggies and noodles I ended up with about 15 of these, and I've learned the hard way they don't make great's hoping I'm really hungry again in about 15 minutes.

Linguine and Beanballs

I’d been eyeing this recipe in V’con for awhile, but was a little scared about making it. I’m sorry, but “beanballs” just does not sound very appetizing to me, not something that makes my mouth water in the grand scheme of food-dom. I was wrong about these…wrong, wrong, wrong. Would I rename them? Probably, although I’m not sure to what. The one thing I can attest, is that they are VERY good.
sphagetthi w/beanballs
I chose to go with the oven-baked method, since I’ve been trying to save a bit on fat lately…not to mention that we need more olive oil, and I’ll be picking up ANOTHER huge bottle at BJs tomorrow. These stayed pretty soft, so unless you’re trying to make a Bolognese sauce (not necessarily a bad thing) you’ll want to add the beanballs on top of your serving, not try to mix them into the pot. The taste on these was spot on, and with some time to cool, I noticed that the texture also firms up a bit. I used enriched durum wheat linguine instead of spaghetti because I like a more hearty pasta. For the sauce I decided to finish off some prepared mushroom marinara from Prego, and simmered it with sliced black olives, chili flakes, and about half a cup of merlot.
This is an awesome comfort food, and with the kidney beans and vital wheat gluten in the beanballs, there’s plenty of protein going on. Wheat pasta elevates it another step, and oven-baking makes it very low fat. My only complaint is that I don’t have a sub-roll on hand to make a beanball sub with the leftovers….good thing there’s still pasta.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Potato Rolls and Vegetable Phyllo


The last time I attempted a roll it was also potato…sweet potato in fact, and I was making it for thanksgiving last year. Long story short, it didn’t work, and I ended up with two dozen orange rocks….yum….rocks. It reminds me of a childhood story about stone soup. Almost twelve months later and I finally worked up the nerve to attempt some more rolls, this time with white potatoes.

potato rolls
They look great, and to be honest, they don’t taste bad either. Everything in between however, was a complete disaster. I used the potato roll recipe from Veganomicon, and since I didn’t have much flour, I decided to halve the entire recipe, which usually works out fine. Instead of forming a dough as the cookbook dictated, I ended up with a finished product closer to a soup. I was of course out of flour at this point, and the only back up I had was garbanzo flour, so I used that. I kept pouring it in…more….and more….and more. When all was set and done, I’d used MORE than the recommended 5.5 cups, with the liquid from the recipe halved. The dough remained very sticky, but I was nearly out of the garbanzo flour at this point, and I figured the rolls would probably end up fit for the trash anyway. I allowed the dough to rise for 2 hours, which it did, albeit light and full of bubbles because it was still so wet.
The recipe suggested that the dough then be cut into two halves, and those rolled out into ropes, then split into walnut sized pieces. I attempted to cut the sticky mass into halves…not a chance. I floured my hands and attempted to roll the suggested balls to put in the muffin tins…no way. I ended up just ripping chunks of the mass of dough, and separating those off my fingers and into the tin as best as possible. I was expecting nothing of this…seriously nothing, so when they came out pretty well, I was shocked. True, they taste like a roll and look like a muffin…but in the grand scheme of things, it could have gone a LOT worse. I have no clue how the proportions of the recipe could have been so off, since for once in my life I measured EVERYTHING, but no harm no foul. We’ll be able to enjoy these for a couple days, and I’m not too scared of trying out more muffins in the future.

The next recipe was found in the Vegetarian Times Cookbook under the title “spinach-filled crepes”. I didn’t make crepes, and of all the vegetables, herbs, and spices stuffed into this, I barely remember the spinach. In addition to Popeye’s favorite, these had onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, parsley, basil, and a hearty vegan béchamel sauce. In place of the crepes, I used layers of phyllo dough, and spooned the béchamel over all the veggies, placing another few layers of phyllo on top of that. The phyllo was brushed with soy milk, and the whole thing was baked in a 350F oven for 25 minutes.

spinach and mushrooms in filo
The only complaint I can make about this dish is that it was a bit sweet for my taste. I don’t think I can blame that on the cookbook though, I’m pretty sure it can be traced back to the vanilla soy milk I used the béchamel…I didn’t have any plain.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Matzo Ball Soup

Confessional time: I hate Passover, and that’s mostly because I hate matzo. The lack of real carbs makes me feel sick, and all the fake ones in matzo and matzo products makes me feel constipated, but then you didn’t need to know that. The one thing I do love about Passover (besides those kosher chocolate covered jelly rings—Vegan too I’m pretty certain!) is matzo ball soup, and I make it year round. It has to simmer for about 40 minutes, but you spend 35 of those doing whatever else you need to, so it’s a great hands off dish when you don’t have much time, like my schedule today.
matzo ball

¾ cup matzo meal
Approx. 3 tbs. vegetable oil
3 med. Eggs
2-3 tbs. water
Pinch Salt
6 cups vegetable stock
Couple Twigs fresh thyme
Grinds fresh pepper
Approx. ½ cup sliced carrots
2 celery stalks sliced
1. Bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Add the fresh pepper to it at this time. While it is boiling, mix together the matzo meal through salt in a large bowl. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
2. Slice the carrots and celery, and once the stock has come to a boil, add them along with the fresh thyme leaves.
3. Remove the matzo mix from the refrigerator, and form into ball slightly larger than walnuts. (in shell). Drop these into the broth, and allow to everything to simmer over medium heat for approx. 40 minutes.
4. You can add anything you want to this depending on mood. This time I added a handful of mushroom ten minutes before the end, and garnished with some green onion, but let your imagination run wild, that’s the best part!


Stuffed Crust Pizza

Ok I admit it…the Pizza Hut commercials were getting to me, and this one most definitely isn’t vegan. The pizza is topped with sliced, fresh mozzarella, mushroom pasta sauce, fresh spinach, and black olives. I used a crust mix, and rolled string cheese into the sides to create the “stuffed crust”.
stuffed crust
In no way was this healthy or gourmet (unless I get points for the spinach) but OH BOY was it good…sometimes you just need some fast food from home. Since it was my second to last dinner before the Yom Kippur fast, I figured I deserved a little treat. In addition it was fast…15 minutes in a 420F oven and it was ready to eat.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Butternut Squash Soup and a Stir Fry

Since it’s been getting a bit chilly outside, I figured it was finally time to try out some butternut squash soup. I’ve never attempted a squash soup before, but I figured it couldn’t be too difficult…if only I’d gotten my proportions right.

I’d picked out a pretty small butternut squash at the farmer’s market, since I didn’t want to make a ton of unsuccessful soup and throw it all out. In retrospect, I should’ve picked out a much larger one. Long story short: I used way too much broth and not enough squash…so this was good broth, but had none of the creamy texture I was going for.
butternut squash soup
I’ll type up the recipe as I made it, but I would recommend halving the liquid, if not quartering it, to make a thick and creamy soup.

1 butternut squash
6 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp. sage
2 tsp. liquid smoke
Garlic Salt
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil


1. Preheat the oven to 420F. Split the squash in half the long way, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and rub halves with olive oil. Bake squash for 1 hr.
2. Heat broth until boiling over high heat. Season with sage, garlic salt, and pepper.
3. Once you’ve allowed the squash to cool, scoop it into a blender. Pour one cup of the broth in, and blend until smooth.
4. Add the squash mixture to the remaining broth, and add the liquid smoke. Simmer for ten minutes, and then serve.

I added some Italian seasoning on top of this, but it really wasn’t necessary, I just wanted some color.

I backed up the soup with a stir fry designed to finish off all the vegetables hanging out in the fridge. The coolest part was the awesome yellow cauliflower I picked up at the farmer’s market, along with a dark purple bell pepper that sadly turned green when it cooked.
cherry stir fry
I used a bottled cherry dipping sauce for the flavoring, and watered it down to really coat all the veggies. Since cranberries make me think Moroccan food (I’m not really sure why) I served this up over couscous…and made enough of the grain to eat EVERYTHING over couscous this week…


Monday, October 6, 2008

Quick Pasta Dinner

There’s nothing simpler than a white wine sauce over pasta, and I was going for simple last night. We also had a bag of green beans and a red bell pepper that were about to kick the bucket, so I used those up as well. Photobucket

1 red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
Approx. ½ lb green beans, trimmed
Handful cherry tomatoes
2 cups extra wide egg noodles (or any veg. pasta)
1 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
Dash red Chili Flakes
Salt and Pepper
EB or Margarine


1. Boil water for the pasta, and toss in the noodles.
2. Heat EB in a skillet over med/high heat, and add garlic. Stir until toasted and JUST starting to brown.
3. Slice the pepper into rings. Add the wine, red bell, chili flakes, salt and pepper to the skillet, and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes last, pressing down on each with spoon until it “pops”.
4. When the noodles are almost al dente, add the green beans to the pot. Allow to cook for approx. 2 minutes and drain together.
5. Add lemon juice to the sauce, and cook for an additional 2 minutes before adding everything to the pasta and stirring. Feel free to garnish with some green…but it’s not totally necessary.

I make variations of this all the time…if you’ve really got time to reduce the sauce. Some veg. stock mixed in with the wine is good as well…otherwise the salt, pepper, and lemon balance the flavors well enough.


Sunday, October 5, 2008


Kale is a super food…it’s so packed with nutrition that you can practically do a Popeye style flex after consuming just a few bites. So knowing all this, I must be eating it everyday, right? Weeelllll…maybe not everyday. I’ve had a lot of bad kale experiences…it’s very chewy, it can be a little bitter, the huge curly leaves have a habit of taking over any dish to which they’re added…kale scares me, and that’s the honest truth.
All that aside, I was feeling brave this week, and so I decided to pick up a huge bushel of kale leaves, and see what I could do with them.
The result was AWESOME, and even my other half, who prefaced the meal by saying he HATES kale, invited me to make this recipe as often as I want.

1 large bunch kale, washed, de-stemmed and chopped into ribbons
Organic Bac-Uns
Red Chili Flakes
Splash Umeboshi Plum Vinegar
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper


1. Boil 4-5 cups of water in a large pot. Once the kale is prepared, add it to the boiling water and cover. Allow to cook for approx. 5-7 minutes, until the Kale is bright green and has wilted down significantly.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet/wok. Drain the kale into a colander, and then add it to the oil, tossing to coat.
3. Add a generous splash of the umeboshi vinegar . Sprinkle generously with the Bac-Uns, pepper, and chili flakes, but be stingy with the salt…there’s plenty already in the umeboshi.
4. Stir the greens, and allow them to cook for another 5 minutes or so.
5. Serve!

I could’ve had bowls and bowls and bowls of this…for the first time in my life, I was bemoaning how much kale shrinks down, go figure.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Buttercup Baked not Ziti

I'm done with my pumpkin experiments for the season, but I still wanted to make the "pumpkin baked ziti" recipe from V'con, since I'd been eying it long before pumpkin season even began. The recipe actually calls for canned pumpkin, which would make my life much easier, but I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel and use canned squash....yet. (right after completing this dish last night I discovered canned pumpkin is on sale at Shaws this week...go figure) I went with a buttercup squash instead...which contrary to outside appearances, tastes a lot like pumpkin, so there.
buttercup baked pasta
You can't judge this one by its cover, it looks pretty unexciting, but it was actually delicious. The dish is very sweet on the whole, for which we can probably thank the squash, nutmeg and brown sugar. Due to the the fact that I may have double the cayenne called for in the original recipe, it had a nice kick to it. This was also my first time making cashew ricotta, and I must say I'm quite pleased...doubling the recipe in the future wouldn't hurt though...


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