Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008 Menu Update

Yesterday, while at the grocery store for the third time this week--picking up the Thanksgiving items I forgot during the second trip this week--I finally finalized our menu. I also locked myself out and forgot the shoyu, one of the main reasons I went to the store in the first place. When I finally got a hold of my roommates and they let me in, I started getting ready to make my pie crusts, only to find that my previous day's purchase of flour included some kind of insects. Rather than go back to the store again, which would mean either taking the bus or walking about 2 miles each way, and could take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours, I did what any sane person would do at this point in a bad day. I napped.

Later, JD graciously took me to the store and I was able to get some decent albeit pricey-as-all-get-out flour, and I made my pies and cornbread. I also made a mini test batch of the savory corn pudding, mulled the cider, washed the gluten, and made the cranberry and cherry sauce. With all that prep already done, and since I had made the vegetable stock a few days ago, I feel like I'm starting the day with a decent jump start.

If things go according to plan--which has never in my life happened, as the first paragraph indicates, but it's nice to be able to say you planned anyway--then we will be enjoying:

assorted green olives
Roasted Tomato Tart with Fresh Basil
Maple Macadamia Nuts
Sweet & Spicy Pecans

Homemade Mulled Cider
Blanc de Blancs Sparkling white wine

Main Event
Stuffed Seitan with Yuba Skin (basically like an Unturkey, but with different flavors)
Cranberry, Fig, Walnut, and Cornbread Dressing
Mashed Potatoes
Wild Mushroom Gravy
Cranberry and Dried Cherry Sauce
Caramelized & Spiced Butternut Squash
Wild Rice Pilaf
Raw Cranberry Relish with Orange, Apple and Ginger
Green Beans with Shallots
Savory Corn Pudding
Jelled Cranberry Mold
Garlic Sautéed Broccoli
Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie
Sweet Potato Pie

Oh yeah, and JD will be making a turkey. I made a Cranberry Sorbet, but I don't think we'll be eating it, with so many other cranberry dishes--seriously, I had to restrain myself with the cranberries and mushrooms, as there were two other cranberry dishes I was keen on, and I just always want to use tons of mushrooms. When I was little I didn't even like cranberries, now I eat them as much as possible when they're in season.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Guide to a Vegan Vanguard Thanksgiving, Part 3

Where Can a Vegan in Austin Go to Get Their Thanksgiving Grub On?

In Austin, there are many food-related events for vegans in the days leading up to, and including Thanksgiving Day.

Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts
Annual Very Best Thanksgiving Class and Luncheon
Great community-building event, where all dishes are vegan and gluten-free.
Class is 9:00am-noon, lunch is 12:15pm-1:45pm
Saturday, November 22
Class & lunch are $55 for the first person, $40 for the second, or attend lunch only for $25
1701 Toomey Road
Austin, TX 78704

Royal Co-op
Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck
Enjoy a sense of community and meet new people
Sunday, November 23
512 478-0880
1805 Pearl Street
Austin, TX 78701

Happy Vegan Baker
Eat Thanksgiving dinner in your own home without having to prepare a thing.
Complete 8-part meals prepared by Inge
Order by 5 pm on November 25, pick up or get it delivered(for a fee) on November 26.
Full meal is $28 per person, but dishes can be purchased separately.
Order via the website, phone 512-657-3934, or email

Casa de Luz
Austin's only totally vegan restaurant continues its tradition of offering lunch on Thanksgiving.
Thursday, November 27
$15 includes full meal and dessert
1701 Toomey Road
Austin, TX 78704

I know other cities are host to similar events, unfortunately, I don't have any info about them.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Guide to a Vegan Vanguard Thanksgiving, Part 2

What Do I Eat, Now That Turkey's Off The Menu?

I remember the panic of my first Thanksgiving. I had been a perfectly content vegetarian for about 4 months, and while I had experienced my share of food disasters, for the most part, I was having a lot of fun learning about nutrition and trying out new foods. Then, a few days before Thanksgiving, something occurred to me: for the first time in my life, I wouldn't be able to join in the family traditions. I wouldn't be eating the turkey, or the gravy, or the giblet stuffing, and I definitely wouldn't be making my family's annual Thanksgiving Jell-o. As I was only 14 at the time, this was a big moment for me, and I suddenly felt extremely alienated and isolated. Not because I wouldn't be eating turkey, but because I would be breaking one of the few traditions we observed, and I would be the only one doing so. I thought that I would be left out. As it turns out, my mother was great, and set aside stuffing for me without giblets, and the other dishes that couldn't be converted were things I didn't really care for anyway, so I was able to be part of the family and share most of the meal.

What did I eat instead of turkey for my first vegetarian Thanksgiving? I actually don't recall. I think it was some savory tofu dish that seemed daunting at the time, and ended up tasting okay but was generally underwhelming. The point is, the food itself didn't really matter, having my family make an effort on my part was enough to allow me to realize I could never not be a part of the family, and see how loved and accepted I was. I do know that for Christmas that year, and for the all of the Thanksgivings since that I've spent with them, my parents bought me a Tofurky. A whole Tofurky. Just for me. I've always appreciated the sentiment, even if I didn't really enjoy the entrée itself....I rag on it a bit, but it does make things easy, and I know many people who enjoy it immensely.

I actually was never a big fan of turkey on Thanksgiving because it usually came out kind of dry and wasn't particularly flavorful, which may account for why I don't miss turkey and don't care for Tofurky roasts. Give me a variety of delicious side dishes, or even just a plate of dressing and cranberry sauce, and I could be totally happy. I do enjoy the ritual of cooking for days, having a big production leading up to the main event, and then the delicious sedated afterglow, though. Plus, JD, my love, has a healthy appreciation for tradition, so we do a full spread, and we do it right.

I've been away from my family for 6 years now, so I've had some time to work on my Thanksgiving dishes, and I've done many different things for the vegan entrée at my Thanksgiving celebrations. For a few years, I made a simple harvest bake by mixing fall vegetables like celery, onions, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips in a casserole dish with tempeh or seitan, seasoned it all with soy sauce, garlic, herbs, and wine if I wanted, and baked until everything was tender. I've also made yummy but not especially festive protein dishes like tempeh marsala. Last year I tried making a tofu and gluten mock turkey, but it was terrible. I generally enjoy foods more when they're not trying to mimic something exactly, so I should have known better.

I usually try to do something a little different each Thanksgiving. Here's a recap of last year's Thanksgiving feast. I haven't finalized this year's menu yet, and there are over 20 recipes in contention, including chocolate bourbon pie, cranberry sorbet, cranberry, currant and champagne relish, cranberry upside down cake --yes, I have lots of love for fresh cranberries--and yuba holiday "duck". I do know we'll definitely be making the Cranberry, Fig, and Walnut Cornbread Dressing and Spiced and Caramelized Butternut Squash from last year's menu as well as traditional favorites like mashed potatoes.

Many blogs have compiled great recipes and ideas, some of my favorites include:

Vegan Bits - The link will take you directly to a compilation of holiday recipes, but check out the more recent posts for more Thanksgiving info.

PETA's VegCooking - Tons of recipes, most of which look like they were tailor-made for home cooks with limited time.

Bryanna Clark Grogan
- The vegan food mogul and author offers up recipes for some of the most common holiday dishes. Great info, ideas, and recipes for soy-free vegans.

Karina's Kitchen - Anyone with gluten or wheat allergies will understand why Karina is a Gluten Free Goddess. While it's not a vegetarian or vegan blog, Karina does make sure her vegan readers have plenty of gorgeous recipes to try. In her pre-Thanksgiving post she includes tons of dishes that everyone can enjoy, just make sure click on any recipe that sounds inviting, as many of Karina's recipes have tips or variations for vegans.

101 Cookbooks - Heidi's compiled and organized all of her vegan Thanksgiving recipes, so you don't have to search. She's even separated all of the vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes on another page so everything is simple and easy for her readers. I love Heidi's style because it's simple, elegant, beautiful, and everything starts with quality ingredients.

- Do you remember Now and Zen's UnTurkey? So do the vegans who created this site. They've opensourced the recipe, so you can recreate it in your home.

Finally, there's Field Roast - many people serve the Celebration Roast version, but I'm partial to the Hazelnut Herb Cutlet. The official website also offers recipes.

Up next: Guide to a Vegan Vanguard Thanksgiving, Part 3 - Where Can a Vegan in Austin Go to Get Their Thanksgiving Grub On?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guide to a Vegan Vanguard Thanksgiving, Part 1

How to Have a Thanksgiving with Less Stress and More Quality Time

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. For most people, this is a day of family, food, and hopefully, love and community--but for some vegans and vegetarians, especially new vegans or vegetarians and their families, Thanksgiving can be especially stressful. Here are some things I've picked up over the years:

If you're around all of your family for the first time since making a huge lifestyle change, your family is bound to be curious. Some people handle their curiosity better than others, but be prepared to play 20 questions with each and every one of your relatives. I've experienced everything from family members who sneakily fed me dip loaded with bacon grease, to cousins who went out of their way to make sure I had something I would eat, to my immediate family who have always been supportive. I've had people try to serve me butter and eggs, or ask if chicken and fish are okay. I've even had family members assume my veganism was a result of my (Catholic) high school brainwashing me. Remember that when your family voices concerns, they do so because they love you. Gently inform them your beliefs, and, if they persist, agree to disagree. Remember, you're not going to change everyone's mind all at once, and getting in someone's face, being beligerent, etc. only gives vegans a bad name while doing nothing to further the cause, and ultimately, Thanksgiving is a day for family, friends, and gratitude.

Nothing makes people understand veganism like amazing vegan food, so, if possible, take an amazing vegan dessert to share with everyone. If you can, help prepare the whole dinner. Not only is this great bonding time, but you can try to convert some of the dishes and make them vegan. This can be especially helpful for your hosts who want to accommodate you, but are unsure of what exactly is and isn't in your diet. Some dishes can be easily converted with no loss of flavor, using everyday ingredients available at most stores. For example,you can make vegan dressing/stuffing (use vegetable stock and bake in a dish instead of stuffing the turkey), or vegan mashed potatoes (use Earth Balance or olive oil instead of butter, and soy milk instead of milk). Make sure to pay special attention to the presentation of anything vegan you serve, because your food will be judged. I used to find it helpful to wait until after people had started eating and enjoying a dish before mentioning that it was vegan--although now everyone I know is well aware that I'm vegan.

If you know nothing will be vegan, or are unsure if there will be anything for you to eat, eat ahead of time and/or take a dish you love, to share with others. This is a good general tip for vegans at any event, and it makes any food you find that's accidentally vegan, a happy surprise!

Instead of obsessing about food, relax and enjoy the company. This a good general tip for everyone in any situation. In my experience, it does the most to promote veganism because it shows that vegans can be well-adjusted and social, and that veganism can be easy and fun. In college, both of my roommates became vegetarians after living with me, and they each said something along the lines of, "You showed me it didn't have to be hard (to give up meat)".

On the flip side, don't act like a vegan martyr. By that, I mean the modern common usage of martyr, i.e. someone who is constantly suffering. Being a vegan is a choice made freely, and it's something to be happy about. If you feel deprived or angry about it, you're doing it wrong. Additionally, no one wants to hang out with someone who is down about everything. A few years ago, one of my best (omni) friends, J, met a cute vegan girl and wanted to take her out, but they couldn't get their schedules to align until one night when J was going out to a steakhouse with his friends for a birthday party. The girl repeatedly said she didn't mind going to the steakhouse, and they wanted to hang out with each other sooner rather than later, so the plans were set. As soon as they stepped inside of the steakhouse, the girl loudly declared, "It smells like death in here," and proceeded to make snide comments all evening. Did anyone have a good time that night? Of course not. I'm not saying you should stay mum if you're uncomfortable, but I know I would like to eat without having to defend my choices, and I'm sure my dining companions feel the same way. Since we respect each other, even if we disagree, we can enjoy spending time together.

Up next: Guide to a Vegan Vanguard Thanksgiving, Part 2 - What Do I Eat, Now That Turkey's Off The Menu?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November Updates

Okay, okay, okay. I fail Vegan MoFo to a ridiculous degree. I'm sorry. It's not for lack of news, food, or inspiration.

In October, I was in Colorado with my family. My 8 year old nephew, N, was scheduled to have some intense surgery. Basically, he has cerebral palsy, and his hamstrings are extremely tight. He's already undergone a few procedures to help him walk better, including botox and casting, and tendon lengthening. Up until now, he's used a wheel chair, a walker, AFOs, and molded-plastic and velco braces to get around, and he's done well for himself, but he has the bad habit of W sitting. W sitting is basically sitting on his knees with his feet and calves splayed out to either side of his body--which above, looks like a W. Sitting in this position has turned his hips out, and his knees in, so his doctors decided that this needed to be corrected immediately. When I first heard about the surgery, I was told he would undergo three separate procedures at once, his hips would be broken, they would realign his knees, and they would take the muscle from the back of one of his calves and move it to the front. Yikes! It all sounded like too much, and I know my mother, N's legal guardian, was overwhelmed. As luck would have it, I wasn't scheduled to teach in October, and so I would be able to spend nearly the whole month with my family, be there for the surgery, and also for Halloween and my father's birthday, while still making it back to Austin for the presidential election. Unfortunately, I did not really have the time, energy, or means to blog most of the time I was in Colorado, but I think this is a pretty damn good excuse.

The hospital stay was intense, but overall, the trip was great, and I feel so fortunate that I could take it. N ended up only requiring one surgery for the time being, but that--breaking his hips--necessitated an almost-full body cast, starting below his pecs and going all the way down to his ankles. His recovery time was also increased, although his hospital stay was cut down by a few days. N is still in his cast, but we be getting out of it just before Thanksgiving. He's uncomfortable, and grumpy to be so immobile, but as rascally as ever.

While in Denver, I managed to make it to my favorite restaurant a few times, as well as try some vegan ice creams that aren't available in Austin, and I'll review those in a later post. I also got a chance to hang out with H, and see her new house, and to catch up with a former roommate.

Just before my trip, I had been in contact with Addie Broyles, the food editor for our local newspaper. I ended up winning a small contest by talking about my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes, and she mentioned that she'd be interested in posting the recipe. Last week, she held a photo shoot for the food and the chefs, and I got to meet the creative and sweet Diann, who is also having a recipe published. I was ecstatic when I realized that Addie had picked two vegans for the feature, especially when I returned to Austin and found out she had interviewed my friends, students and coworkers at NE/ Casa de Luz for a feature about macrobiotics. I feel so grateful to live in a city where the major paper acknowledges vegans, and doesn't compartmentalize us. If you're an Austinite, pick up a copy of the Austin American Statesman on Monday, November 24 to see all the Thanksgiving side dishes. Also, if you're on Twitter, you can follow Addie, or join the Austin Food Bloggers group on Facebook (assuming you're in Austina and a blogger).

Last week I also notice that someone had scraped my entire blog and was using the posts for their gaming site to try and sell illegal WoW gold. They had also scraped a severely right wing racist blog, and I think the most offensive aspect of all was having my name (my posts were stolen word for word, with my name intact on the recipes) associated with that kind of vitriol. Thankfully, JD notified the fake blog's admin that they had violated copyright, and within minutes, all of my content was down.

It's been a crazy month, and things probably aren't going to slow down until after the new year.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Vegan Pork Belly Review and BLT of AWESOMENESS.

BLT of AWESOMENESS (that it is vegan should be understood by all, since it is AWESOME)

First, I have to say, I was a little bit surprised by all of the positive responses I received after my meat analog post. I thought it would either be completely unnoticed since there were no pictures, or totally polarizing. I'm really glad so many people read it.

Over the weekend, I played with the first of the many analogs I picked up at MT Market, the vegan "smoky pork belly". I have to say, first of all, that while I used to love bacon, and I've often heard of it as "the gateway back to meat", I don't really miss it, and I don't like most of the bacon analogs I've tried. Most bacon analogs have a really intense liquid smoke flavor, or if the flavor is okay, the texture is too much like a cracker. I am NOT a fan of liquid smoke. When I want a flavor as smoky, salty and complex as bacon, I usually add alder wood smoked sea salt and a dash of olive oil or toasted sesame oil. If I want something that's similar to bacon in both flavor and texture, I like to use either pan-fried dulse, tempeh that's been simmered in a marinade of shoyu, alder wood smoked sea salt, water and occasionally garlic, smoked paprika, or black pepper, or, for the most fatty bacon texture, fresh shiitake mushrooms pan-fried in olive oil until slightly browned and seasoned with alder wood smoked sea salt and a dash of shoyu. As you can tell, in my house, we're big fans of alder wood smoked sea salt--JD uses it whenever he can, and always pleads for me to put it in the greens-blanching- water.

In the package, the vegan pork belly looked like a thick piece of black pepper cured, unsliced bacon. I toyed around with a few ideas, like using it as the pork in a batch of green chile, but in the end, I decided to try a bit of it simply pan-fried with some of the beautiful Asian greens I had, so that we could really taste the flavor, and get a feel for the texture. I cut about 1/4 cup of the vegan pork belly into 1/4" dice and as I diced I was a little impressed with the way the "meat" and "fat" had different textures, and I wondered if they would taste different, too. If I had been using actual bacon or pork belly, I would not have needed any salt or oil, but since the white part of the vegan pork belly wasn't really solid fat, I figured I'd need a bit of oil. I heated about a teaspoon of safflower oil in a cast iron pan, then added the diced vegan pork belly. I used safflower oil because I wanted a flavor-neutral oil, so that we could taste all the flavor nuances of the pork belly. After the pork belly started to brown, I added the thick, sliced stalks of the Chinese broccoli, but didn't add any salt, because I thought the vegan pork belly would have plenty of salt. At this point, I decided that a little garlic and some chili flakes would add a really nice flavor, so I added a pinch of crushed red chili flakes, and about 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder (normally, I'd use fresh crushed garlic, but since my pan was already hot, and there was some liquid in the pan, I knew the garlic powder wouldn't burn). After about two minutes, I added the gorgeous, super-tiny heads of mystery greens, which I just washed and cut in half. I sautéed these for about one more minute, then added the leafy tops of the Chinese broccoli and sautéed for about two more minutes. Since the dish had a definite Asian bend, I thought some toasted sesame seeds would be a nice garnish.

Slightly blurry, here's my serving of greens.

Overall, the dish was really pretty, and the flavor was good, although it would have been hard to screw up those lovely greens. The vegan pork belly was kind of neat and fun, but in this dish, it didn't really offer anything new. JD like it enough, but didn't rush back for seconds, and as I told JD, it didn't really add anything that tempeh or even smoked or fried tofu couldn't. The large pieces of black pepper added a really good flavor, and the smoke flavor was mild enough to be enjoyable without tasting overpoweringly artificial, but it was almost too mild, in fact, I found myself wishing I had added a bit of smoked salt while cooking. The "meat" and "fat" part of the pork belly did have slightly different tastes and textures, which was novel, but after this dish, I wasn't impressed enough with this aspect to imagine going out of my way to buy it again.

At least, I couldn't imagine going out of my to buy it again until I had The BLT of AWESOMENESS. As I was putting away the remaining unused vegan pork belly, I thought I should really try slicing it and using it like bacon. I decided that a BLT would be the way to go, partially because I had most of the ingredients on hand. I often make Dulse, Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches with a slice of avocado, and I love these because they're quick, easy and delicious. I figured the vegan pork belly could be an interesting addition, but I no idea...

I started by heating a small amount of safflower oil in my cast iron pan, then adding the sliced vegan pork belly, and a little bit of smoked sea salt to improve the smokiness. While that was browning, I cut my ciabatta into a sandwich-size square, and sliced it in half. I spread FYH vegan mayonnaise on the top half, then topped that with two layers of thinly-sliced tomato--you could use one layer of thick-cut tomato for less mess, but come on, sloppy is more delicious! At about this point, the first side of vegan pork belly slices had browned, so I flipped then, and placed slices from half a small avocado on the bottom half of the ciabatta, sprinkled it with sea salt, and put a nice bed of baby red and green romaine leaves over the avocado. By now, the vegan pork belly was nicely browned, so I placed it over the lettuce, put the top half of ciabatta on, and sliced it.

Look, it's almost reaching out and inviting you to take a bite.

It was gorgeous. Thinly sliced layer upon layer, mayonnaise coating tomatoes and causing them to gently slide down the baby lettuce, while the vegan bacon glistens and the avocado all but hides under the lettuce. I almost didn't want to eat it. Almost. It was definitely one of the top five sandwiches I've ever had in my life. I think it'd probably even be the second best, only behind a tempeh reuben made with fresh, homemade sourdough rye.

A perfect sandwich.
While I was building my sandwich, JD noticed I was in the kitchen, and came to see what I was making. He decided he also wanted a sandwich with the vegan pork belly (even though he had lunch meat and smoked salmon in the fridge), so he sliced up and fried the remainder. Since he does not like avocado, lettuce, raw tomato, or mayo in any form (JD picky?? Nah!), he just had a vegan pork belly sandwich, so apparently it was more than tasty enough to satisfy even a omnivore, even when meat options are available. Because of its stellar participation in The BLT of AWESOMENESS, I have to say I would definitely buy vegan "smoky pork belly" again, but probably only for use in sandwiches.

Friday, October 3, 2008

VeganMoFo: Meat Analogs

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I found a great alternative to chicken, and received a comment, which I (possibly incorrectly) assumed was snarky, namely that "meat substitutes are great for the transitioning vegetarian, but a great veg cook shines with fresh veggies and leaves the fakes alone". I couldn't help but feel that this comment, while not directly pointed at me, was posted for my benefit, and it got me thinking.

I know there's a lot of debate about eating meat analogs, both in the vegetarian community and outside of it, like, "how real is too real?", "if you don't want to eat meat, why do you want to eat fake meat?", and "shouldn't we focus on eating whole foods as opposed to refined analogs?". I think these are all valid questions, and this post is my attempt to answer them.

First of all, I don't think many meat/egg/dairy analogs are really that close to the actual meat/dairy/egg, and no one is going to confuse a glass of soy milk with a glass of cow's milk, or a slice of FYH with a slice of mozzarella. That being said, I have had some foods that were just a bit too close to the real thing, which squicked me out a little, and usually made me worry about whether or not the item in question was actually vegan . While I've found meat and dairy analogs to be most useful as transitional or comfort foods, when I was a new vegetarian, I wasn't very fond of them, simply because they didn't really taste/feel/smell like the real thing. Now, in the 11 years that I've been a vegetarian, there have been vast strides in the meat and dairy analog market, and the longer it's been since I've eaten animal products, the more realistic plant-based analogs seem. I know some vegetarians who refuse to eat foods that are "too realistic", but I haven't really found that to be a problem with truly vegan foods.

As far as why a person who doesn't think animals should be eaten, would eat fake meat (or dairy, or eggs), well, there are tons of reasons people choose to be vegetarians. The three most common reasons are 1)ethical -- animals are intelligent, caring, feeling individuals that should be treated accordingly, 2)ecological -- raising livestock creates methane which contributes to global warming, and it's inefficient to grow grain to feed livestock, instead of using grain for human direct consumption, and 3) health -- vegan diets offer many health benefits, including being low in saturated fats, cholesterol-free, and helpful in lowering high blood pressure and high cholesterol. You may have noticed that none of these reasons have anything to do with animal products not being tasty... Certainly, some people may not enjoy certain animal products, but in my experience, most vegans are vegans for one of more of the above reasons, not because they necessarily think meat tastes bad.

When answering the question of focusing on whole foods or analogs, we have to first decide how analogs are defined. I've seen tofu, tempeh, and mushrooms called meat analogs. One could argue that grains and beans when formed into patties or burgers, or jackfruit, when stewed and seasoned for taco filling would be meat analogs. I define analogs as products made expressly to resemble some other specific item, and there is an understanding that an analog is generally inferior since 1) it's probably not a whole food and 2) it's likely been very refined. In my opinion, tofu and tempeh are protein sources, but not meat analogs, while seitan and tofurky are meat analogs. By this definition, yes, we our main sources of protein should be whole, minimally refined foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, tempeh and tofu, with seitan and other analogs supplementing our diet.

That being said, I think there's room for the occasional meat analog in your diet. To me, they seem best for transitioning because of the convenience and familiarity that they offer (as far the "hey, I can cook a vegan hot dog pretty much same way I cook a kosher dog!" aspect), and as sporadic treats, for the comfort they offer. There's also something to be said for the inclusiveness they provide, especially for kids who take sacked lunchto school, or during holidays and family gatherings. For example, my parents used enjoy purchasing a Tofurky for me during the holidays, to ensure that I wasn't left out (although, honestly, I'm not a big fan of Tofurky roasts, and I'd rather just have an array of vegan side dishes for Thanksgiving).

In conclusion, analogs are probably not the most healthful food, but the emotional comfort they provide can be quite enriching, and they can be really fun and interesting in moderation. Join me later this month, for some deliscious examples of both whole protein sources and more refined meat analogs.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

MT Market

I had heard a lot about the fabled MT Market, but had not visited until today. MT Market is a huge Asian grocery store in north Austin, which has "the largest selection of vegetarian items in central Texas". They definitely had a ton of meat analogs. Dried, canned, refrigerated and frozen; ground, in tubes, in pastes, shaped like animals, shaped like patties, and in balls, they carried multiple varieties and even multiples of the same variety by different manufacturers. For instance, at least 12 kinds of tube meats; four tube chickens, three tube ducks, and five tube hams. It was kind of overwhelming, and I'll talk about meat analogs in depth tomorrow.

Other than the sheer variety of meat analogs, the thing that was really exciting to me was the big selection of fresh produce. They carried a wide variety of fresh greens, fruits, melons, and inexpensive mushrooms. I was particularly impressed with their fruits. They have durian, usually fresh and frozen, fresh jackfruit, fresh dragonfruit, fresh jujubes, fresh and frozen longans, and their green papayas and mangoes were some of the most beautiful I'd ever seen. Usually green papayas are pitted or bruised, with spots of uneven ripening, but these were smooth, unblemished and bright green. I only have about a week left in Austin, so I didn't want to buy too much produce, and I didn't look very closely at the dried goods, like the spices or sauces, but I probably have way too many of those anyway.

Since today has been a long day, and I'm super tired, I'll leave you with a couple pictures of my haul. Some of the things I'm most excited about: super tiny heads of greens, Chinese broccoli (which does not have any kind of florets), lotus root, sorghum grains, yuba, bamboo shoots, black rice flour noodles, corn flour noodles, oat flour noodles, black wheat flour noodles, vegan pork belly, and "vegetarian intestine" (!?).

Fresh Vietnamese rice noodles, sorghum grains, super tiny heads of greens, amazingly inexpensive fresh shiitakes, dried bean curd sheets (yuba), agar bars, baby bok choy, fresh red and green shiso leaves, Chinese broccoli, fresh lotus root and vegetarian log.

Fresh Vietnamese rice noodles, "vegetarian log", lemongrass and chili fried tofu, beancurd laverfish, vegan crab balls, vegan salmon, vegan smoky pork belly, fresh bamboo shoots, "vegetarian intestine" and vegan "king prawn".

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Almond Ricotta-Stuffed Shells and Vegan MoFo

You may have felt an inexplicable buzz of excitement, heard the unmistakable sound of food bloggers taking pictures, uploading and typing, or maybe you've just noticed vegan and vegetarian bloggers coming out in droves lately, and wondered why. Well, it's because today is the first day of Vegan MoFo, the magical time of the year when we all band together and update our blogs at least once every weekday for a whole month.

Last year my computer crashed a mere four posts in, but, given that my computer has already crashed once this year, that I'll be out of town and away from computer for about 2/5 of the month (more on that later), and that I have a back up plan, I'm ready for Vegan MoFo 2008. For an ever-expanding list of Vegan MoFo Bloggers, check out Isa's Blog. Hopefully, this will introduce new bloggers to a different audience, widen and reinforce the vegan support network, inspire people, and show how gorgeous, tasty and fun vegan food can be!

I also have an update about a new blog that I've joined, Lone Star Plate, which is a group blog comprised of vegans from all over Texas! I'm aiming to post a combination of new content and cross-posted content from Vegan Vanguard.

Now, onto the food!

Almond Ricotta-Stuffed Shells with Blanched Broccoli and Seitan Sausage

Summer in Austin can be unbearably hot, and on most days, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour in front of a hot stove, which is what made this one of our favorite easy summer meals. If you blanch your greens in the water before you cook the pasta, then you'll only end up using one pan, too, which makes clean up super easy! I came up with this simple dish when JD's mother was in town and I wanted something that was semi-familiar, like pasta and marinara, but also simple, elegant and tofu-free. I know that a lot of people use and love tofu ricotta, and while I think it's great in lasagna, I don't think it's quite right in dishes where it's the main ingredient, and I like to show people who haven't had much exposure to vegans that we really do eat more than just tofu and salad.
This recipe does require a long soak, which you can either start in the morning before you go to work, or in the evening, for the next day. If you start this a day ahead and you don't want the almonds to ferment, place the soaking almonds in the fridge. To make a fermented almond cheese, after soaking the almonds for 8 hours, drain the water and allow them to ferment for a more complex flavor and additional healing benefits.

Soaking nuts makes their protein and fat more digestible and accessible.

Almond Ricotta Stuffed Shells up close

Almond Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells
by Christina Terriquez

1 cup raw almonds
1--2 cloves fresh garlic
ume vinegar
sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, minced

8-12 jumbo pasta shells, boiled until al dente and drained
2 cups of your favorite marinara, red sauce, or Mama Mia sauce

Either blanch and skin the almonds, or soak the almond until the skin inflates and skin the almonds. Soak skinned almonds for 8 hours.

Blend soaked almonds and garlic, in a blender or food processor, slowly adding water as needed to achieve a homogeneous, but slightly textured ricotta consistency. Season to taste with ume and sea salt, then add parsley.

Heat marinara.

Gently spoon almond ricotta into each shell. Pour a little marinara on each plate, then arrange shells over marinara, and finish with more marinara. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve with blanched or sautéed greens.

-Use fermented almond cheese, but dilute with a little water and season with garlic, ume and sea salt.

-Use basil and oregano in place of or in addition to Italian Parsley.

-Add freshly ground black pepper.

-Use with almond ricotta with manicotti instead of jumbo shells.

Almond Ricotta-Stuffed Manicotti with Red Kale

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Seitan Asada, and Wheat Flour Tortillas

My computer has apparently died. Last week, I installed the new microsoft update and firefox 3.0, one of which, I guess caused my firewall to disengage, which let in a virus, which killed my comp. Thankfully, JD's computer is across the room, and I can use it, although I can't access many of my recipes, pictures, movies, and music.

I promised to post about the seitan asada tacos and homemade flour tortillas, so here they are.

Carne asada was traditionally made with the cheap, tough cuts of meat, which were marinated in a citrus or vinegar based sauce or rubbed with spices, and then grilled or roasted to produced an easier to chew and more flavorful, dish. When I was growing up, my dad would buy carna asada tacos from roadside taco stands and taquierias, which consisted of carne asada served in a small tortilla with a wedge of lime, a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, occassionally grilled onions or scallions, and your choice of salsa.

I don't really measure ingredients for my seitan asada, so this is a broad recipe.

Seitan Asada Tacos
by Christina Terriquez

1 batch of Quick and Easy Seitan, homemade seitan, storebought seitan, or beef-style strips like Morningstar Farms Veggie Steak Meal Starters
cold-pressed unrefined safflower oil
garlic powder
onion powder, optional
chipotle powder
Mexican oregano, optional
sea salt
6-10 tortillas
1 medium onion, sliced into thin half moons
lime wedges

If using seitan, cut seitan into thin strips, approximately 1/4"x 1/4" and 2" in length.

In a cast iron skillet, heat a small amount of oil. Add seitan strips, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, a shake of chipotle powder, and a shake of oregano. Sauté for a few minutes, and taste. Season with spices and salt to your tastes and sauté for a few more minutes. Remove seitan from pan, but do not wash pan.

Heat the same skillet over medium high, with fond and bits of seitan intact. Add onion and two pinches of salt. Allow onion to brown before turning, and cook about 2-3 minutes on each side. Alternately, sauté onions until translucent or grill.

Heat tortillas in a clean, dry skillet.

To serve, place about 2-3 tablespoons of seitan in each tortilla, garnish with a few pieces of onion, and a sprig or two of cilantro. Plate with a lime wedge and salsa.

-Steam tortillas.

-Add lettuce, and tomatoes.

-Add avocados.

-Add Quick-Pickled Pepper Onions instead of cooked onions.

And since almost everything is better when it's homemade, why not try your hand at making tortillas from scratch? They're much easier than they seem, and don't require special equipment, although the resting time is mandatory.

Flour Tortillas

2 cups wheat flour (white, whole or a combination)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup cold pressed unrefined safflower oil
1/2-3/4 cup water

In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients. Add oil and mix well. Add 1/2 cup water slowly and knead until dough is soft and consistent in texture, adding more water if needed.

Cover dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 8 equal balls. Flatten balls intos discs and let rest 30 more minutes.

Roll each disc into a 7--8 inch tortilla, but do NOT stack. Heat griddle or large cast iron skillet. Heat tortillas, separately, about 45 seconds on each side. They should puff up with air, turn opaque, and become speckled with brown.

Wrap in a dry towel to keep warm.
Both recipes are pretty simple. They are tasty together, but that's an awful lot of flour, so I would serve corn tortillas with the seitan asada, and use the flour tortillas for something else. Sorry about the lack of pictures, I can't access the stuff on my computer, so back logged photos might be lost, but I CAN upload directly to JD's computer, so I'll still be able to post new photos.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vegetarian 100

I wouldn't normally do another very similar meme so recently after doing the Vegan 100, but I just found the Vegetarian 100 from Feeding Maybelle. I really liked this meme because its emphasis is more on produce and unusual or unrefined natural wonders. It's closest to the list I would write. My one problem with the Vegan 100 was that many of the items were just vegan versions of things that are made from meat or cheese, instead of amazing things that everyone should try. My second biggest problem with the Omnivores 100 (the first being all the animal products, of course), is that it seems to promote elitism through conspicuous consumption and to be monetarily beyond the reach of most folks--can every omnivore afford to spend upwards of $120 on something as luxurious as a bottle of whisky, especially in a recession? I think Maybelle's Mom's Vegetarian 100 is particularly great because it kind of subversively shows how much wider the diet is of most people once they become vegetarians.

When I ate meat, my diet was very simple, consisting mostly of potatoes, white rice, carrot, onion, tomatoes, peas, green beans, corn, pinto beans, wheat, apples, oranges, bananas, and iceberg lettuce in addition to the usual animal products. Now I probably have twenty different kinds of grains alone in my pantry. I can't find it now, but about a year ago, I read a study that said most Americans eat only twenty kinds of plants in their lifetime. Since crop diversity is such a huge issue, which most people are completely unaware of, this seems like a great way to raise awareness about the enormous variety of food available.

bold = have eaten
unhighlighted = haven't eaten
struck out = won't ever eat

Vegetarian 100
Click on the (?) if you need an example. Thanks to Maybelle's Mom for the original list and links!

  1. Edamame (?)
  2. Cha Soba (?) - It's so pretty.
  3. Arame (?)
  4. Earth Balance Buttercream - I'm not a huge fan, it's so sweet it gives me a terrible headache, but it can be beautiful.
  5. "Homemade" sprouts
  6. Green Bamboo Rice (?) - It has a lovely subtle flavor, great smell, and it's so pretty!
  7. Absinthe
  8. Eat at a raw restaurant - Well, only had a la carte items from Whole Foods' raw bar and The Daily Juice, aside from the things I've made.
  9. Fresh (real) wasabi - I've had real wasabi, but not fresh. I've heard it's more complex.
  10. Deep fried pickle - I tried them at the Alamo Drafthouse. I don't really like dill pickles to begin with, so I wasn't expecting to like them, and I didn't. I guess I was really just trying it to say I did.
  11. Fiddleheads (?) - They look sort of neat, but they also kind of remind me of rolly-polys, which is a bit unsettling.
  12. Garlic stuffed olives
  13. Smen (?)
  14. Goji Berries (?)
  15. Shiso or Perilla (?) - Pickled and fresh. I like the fresh kind in sushi, and the pickled leaves in pressed salad, or wrapped around tofu, dipped in tempura and fried.
  16. Amaranth (?) - I eat the grain much more often than the greens, which are super high in oxalic acid and should be avoided.
  17. Pomegranate molasses (?)
  18. Water convulvulus (Water Spinach) (?)
  19. Pea eggplant, Thai eggplant, green eggplant, Japanese eggplant, Indian eggplant, Sicilian eggplant... - I don't really like eggplant much, although I think it looks gorgeous.
  20. A Zen Buddhist Vegan Meal (?) - Only the ones I've made, though.
  21. Kohya Dofu (?) - The texture is interesting, and it soaks up a ton of flavor, but it squeaks against your teeth when you chew, and it's kind of like eating a sponge. I prefer freezing tofu myself.
  22. Wild Asparagus (?) - It has such a lovely delicate flavor and presentation.
  23. Elderberry (?)
  24. Candlenuts (kemiri) (?)
  25. Salsify (?) - I eat this often, usually in kinpira, but I call it burdock.
  26. Nutritional Yeast (?) - I know many vegans love it, but I use it very rarely and sparingly.
  27. Pandan (?) - It sounds great, and I'd love to try it, especially after seeing these photos.
  28. Roman cauliflower (?)
  29. Anything with acorn flour (?)
  30. Poi (?)
  31. Chaya (tree spinach) (?)
  32. Pitahaya (dragon fruit) (?) - Looks neat, but I've heard that it isn't very flavorful.
  33. Asafoetida (?) - I've known many yogis and other people who abstained from eating onions and garlic because they said onions and garlic brought about the "Seven Bad Buddhas" (sort of like the Seven Deadly Sins for Buddhists, I think?) and were too physically stimulating, when they wanted to be mentally aware. Often, they used asafoetida to approximate the taste.
  34. Fried plantains - I tried to make these once, long ago, but I didn't know that the plantains should be very, very brown to indicate ripeness, and they were terrible.
  35. Basil seeds (?)
  36. Cardoon (?) - I really want to try these, I bought a cardoon seedling, but the bugs ate it almost immediately.
  37. Durian (?)
  38. Ground Cherry or cape gooseberry (?)
  39. Fresh water chestnut (?) - I see these all the time at the grocery store, but I don't know how to prepare them.
  40. Cashewnut cheese - Yummy, especially in desserts, but I think I actually prefer macadamia or almond cheese.
  41. Nettles (?) - Christina Pirello has a recipe for Stinging Nettle Gnocchi, which I'd like to try, but it sounds dangerous.
  42. Fake duck from a can, tofurky, or any prepared vegetarian product to resemble meat - The faux Peking Duck is interesting occasionally.
  43. Kimchi (?)
  44. Masala Dosa (?)
  45. Lotus Seed (?)- I love them cooked with brown rice.
  46. Matcha (?) - I don't like it.
  47. Loubie Bzeit (?)
  48. Quince (?)
  49. Blue Potatoes (?)
  50. Injera (?) - I LOVE injera!
  51. Nasturtium (?) - They have a nice spicy flavor and look pretty growing in your garden.
  52. Turkish Delight or Lokum (?) - I have a feeling I've tried this, but I can't recall when I would have.
  53. Spruce tips (?)
  54. Breadfruit (?)
  55. Mangosteen (?)
  56. Swede or Rutabaga (?)
  57. Garlic Scapes (?)
  58. Lavash (?)
  59. Candied Angelica (?)
  60. Rambutan (?)
  61. Sambal (?)
  62. Bhutanes Red Rice (?) - Pretty, more nutritious than white rice, and a bit more toothsome than brown rice.
  63. Candy-cane or Chioggia beets (?) - Gorgeous.
  64. Mango -Rich, sweet, and creamy....what's not to love?
  65. Ras el Hanout (?)
  66. Vegan marshmallow (?)
  67. Umeboshi (?)
  68. Red Currants (?) - I love substituting dried currants for raisins in recipes. Fresh currants come in black, red and white. They are so pretty and luminous, and they're in season right now.
  69. Puy or French lentils (?)
  70. Millet (?)
  71. Fresh Bamboo shoot (?) - I can't believe I've never tried these. I don't really like the canned kind, but I'm intrigued by fresh bamboo.
  72. Jerusalem artichoke (?) - These are great.
  73. Wild strawberry (?)
  74. Jambool (?)
  75. Po cha or Yak butter Tea (?)
  76. Adzuki beans (?) - I love them.
  77. Shirataki (?)
  78. Manioc, yuca, cassava (?)
  79. Quinoa (?)
  80. Ramps (?)
  81. Chufa (?) - I'm really curious about the horchata made from this.
  82. Purslane (?) - We're growing some in our garden for salads and garnishes, but it grows all over. I've seen it in creaks in the sidewalk along busy streets.
  83. Curry Leaves (Kadipatta) (?) - I use dried curri leaves often.
  84. Sorrel (?)
  85. Sumac (?) - I love it in zatar seasoning. Apparently, it was the original coloring for pink least according to JD.
  86. Vegan cupcake
  87. Montreal bagel (?)
  88. Peri-peri (?)
  89. Syllabub (?)
  90. Chartreuse (?) - I am so intrigued by this.
  91. Kamut berries (?) - I like using puffed kamut to make vegan "rice" crispy treats.
  92. Kalamansi Lime (?)
  93. Aloe (?) - When I lived in Tennessee, my boss used aloe juice often for her clients with inflammation. It's very cooling, but not so tasty (it's often sold with fruit flavoring or juice added to temper it). Since then, however, I've heard some negative things, but haven't done much research.
  94. Morels (?)
  95. Raw “bread” - I'm assuming this includes manna and Essene bread.
  96. Dandelion Wine - It sounds interesting.
  97. Rosti (?)
  98. Loomi (?) - I'm so intrigued by these, I was into Persian food in a big way last year, and almost mail ordered some, but I've found at least two markets that sell these in town since. Perhaps I buy some for a stew when it gets cooler.
  99. Stinky tofu (?) - I'm equal parts intrigued and complete put off. On the one hand it's deep fried and served with a sauce, on the's stinky.
  100. Something grown by you

Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer Pico de Gallo, Salsa, and Tacos

Seitan Asada Tacos with "grilled" onions, cilnatro, limes, salsa and a side of papas

Salsa is one of those great foods that can do triple duty as a garnish, an appetizer or a condiment. It's also widely available, inexpensive, easy to make and, pretty much always vegan. In fact, the only other food I can think of that fits that bill is hummus. And while both are simple to prepare from scratch, they are generally store bought. Well, since it's the height of tomato and pepper season, and some many beautiful varieties of both are available right now, I thought I'd post a few recipes.

Pico de Gallo
by Christina Terriquez

1/4 cup white or yellow onion
1 clove garlic
sea salt
1 lime, optional
2--4 red ripe tomatoes, skin off, if desired
1--2 jalapenos

Chop the onion and place in glass bowl. Mince garlic and add to onion. Add two pinches of salt and the juice from half of the lime, if using lime. By salting and adding citrus juice to the onion and garlic, you are starting the pickling process, which will take some of the edge off of them.

Chop the tomatoes and drain the seeds and juice. Add tomato pieces to the onions.

Wearing gloves, mince the jalapeno, then add it to the onion. If you like really mild food, remove the seeds and all the white pith from the pepper before mincing it. Mix well and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Season to taste with lime juice and salt.

-Add some chopped cilantro.

-Add some cubed avocado.

Pico de Gallo has many things going for it, it's pretty quick, assuming you have a good knife, it's easy, only requires one bowl, doesn't call for any cooking, keeps for a few days, a little goes a long way, and it can add a lot of texture and flavor. I like pico as a condiment, or for adding it to other things like soup or guacamole. However, when I want salsa to eat with chips, I make the following version.

Simple Summer Salsa
by Christina Terriquez

1--2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1/2 medium onion, minced
sea salt
2 serrano or jalapeno peppers, washed and dried
4 ripe tomatoes
chopped cilantro, to taste
fresh lime juice, optional

Place minced garlic and onion in a medium size bowl, sprinkle with two pinches of sea salt and toss. Set aside.

In a 3 quart saucepan, place approximately 4 cups of water on to boil. While waiting for that, proceed to the next step.

Roast peppers over flame until skin is black and blistered, being careful not to puncture skin as juices will leak. Set blackened peppers aside or in brown paper bag to cool. Repeat until all peppers are roasted.

Using plastic gloves, under cool running water, peel the skin away from the peppers, de-stem and de-seed. Mince pepper flesh, and place in the bowl with the onions.

Make an x-shaped score in the bottom of each tomato. Blanch each tomato for about 30 seconds, then let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin from each tomato, starting at the scored x. Cut each tomato into quarters and discard the juice and seeds. Mince tomatoes and add to bowl.

Mix all ingredients and season with salt, cilantro and lime juice.

-Use a food processor instead of mincing ingredients. This will make a slushier, juicier salsa. If you have a molcajete, you could also crush the chopped ingredients in that.

-Add some fresh diced peaches, mango, pineapple or other seasonal fruit to the salsa.

-For a spicier sals increase thae amount or type of chilies you use.

-To cut the acidity of the onion and garlic, instead of mincing and salting the garlic and onions, cut the onion into 1/2 inch thick wedges, and peel the garlic but leave it whole. Sauté the onion wedges and whole garlic cloves until the onion becomes tender and slightly translucent. Mince or process until finely minced in food processor.
This is my favorite style of salsa because it's fresh, has great texture and flavor, and is still really simple, but the elements that cause most people trouble have been neutralized a bit. The skins from nightshades that are hard to digest have been removed, and the peppers have been cooked just enough to add a wonderful flavor and smell while reducing the risk of heartburn. The onions and garlic which can have an unpleasant edge, have been either salted or sautéed to cut that edge, while maintaining some pungency.

For people who are avoiding nightshades all together, but still want a little heat, quick-pickled pepper onions are perfect.

Quick-Pickled Pepper Onions
by Christina Terriquez

1 whole white, yellow, or red onion
umeboshi vinegar
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Slice onion into thin half moons and place in a glass bowl. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of ume vinegar over the onions, then gently massage the vinegar into onions. Set aside.

Using a rolling pin or coarse pepper mill, crush the peppercorns, and sprinkle half over the onions. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Taste onions. Season with more pepper if desired.

-Use a mixture of lime juice and umeboshi vinegar for a more tangy flavor.

-Omit the black pepper.
These onions are not only tasty and easy to make, they're also a beautiful bright pink.

Quick Ume Pickled Onion (black pepper omitted)

Recently, we've been eating a lot of salsa and tacos. The breakfast taco is ubiquitous in Austin, and it usually contains two ingredients, one of those often being beans. Common pairings include bean and cheese, bean and egg, and chorizo and egg. As a vegan, bean and potato tacos are often the only safe bet (if the beans are free of lard and meat), although many establishments carry some kind of vegetarian friendly item, like tofu scramble, sautéed vegetables, or soy chorizo. They're always served on a flour or corn tortilla(not in a taco shell) and are usually under 2 bucks each. Salsa is available, but vegetables are never served unless specifically requested.

Bean and potato tacos with avocado, green leaf lettuce and salsa
I love bean and potato tacos, but I really like them with salsa, lettuce, and avocado, so when we happened to have all of those ingredients, I knew we had to make some. I also decided that some carna asada-style tacos would be really good with the salsa, so I made some seitan, and homemade tortillas, which I'll post about next.

The Vegan 100

Last week, food blogs were abuzz over The Omnivore’s Hundred, a list of 100 foods that one blogger thought every omnivore should try in their lifetime. Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet, and My Sweet Vegan, responded by making a list of 100 foods she thinks every vegan should try. Here it is as a meme, with my answers filled in. Both authors provided some links in case you're unfamiliar with some of the ingredients, and I've added links to the things I've blogged about in the past, plus any comments I had.

I have 34/100 on the Omnivore's 100, and 70/100 on Hannah's vegan version.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble - These were a staple when I was in high school.
4. Haggis
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue - I've had chocolate fondue, but I don't think that counts in this case.
8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush - I'm not really a fan, it taste like bland, silky hummus to me.
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich - I never like PB&J as a kid, and hated when adults tried to feed it to me. I prefer almond butter and raspberry jam. I really only like grapes in their whole form, or as juice.
14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart
16. Boba Tea - It's not that exciting, but it oddly makes me miss Orbit soft drink.
17. Black truffle - I would LOVE to try a fresh truffle.
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans
25. Knish
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper - I don't see the point. It would face-meltingly hot, and I don't really enjoy that.
27. Dulce de leche - This is one thing I keep meaning to attempt.
28. Caviar
29. Baklava
30. Paté
31. Wasabi peas
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl - I would try it, but I don't really like the bread-as-a-soup concept or chowder very much.
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw Brownies
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - I cannot imagine spending this much on a drink.
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi - One of life's perfect foods.
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed - We should all eat more.
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi - We always have some whole plums in our pantry, they're kind of a miracle cure. I also use the vinegar frequently when I want to give a dish a cheesy bite, or add a bright zest.
53. Tofurkey - The dogs, brats and deli slices are nice, but I hate the Tofurky roasts, and I think it kinda makes vegetarians look bad.
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. Piña colada
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple - I'd try it since it would be all plant matter, but the name/idea wigs me out a bit.
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls - I avoid TVP.
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can - It smells like playdoh.
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky - I like the Thai Peanut Primal Strips.
80. Croissants - I'd love to find a commerically available vegan version.
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes
83. Tings - These do not appeal to me.
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate - I've have many versions of chocolate with chilis and molé which can contain both, but I've never had this kind.
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk - This sounds disgusting to me.
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee - I usually leave the coffee drinking to my housemates.
100. Raw cookie dough - The fact that raw vegan cookie dough is (salmonella)worry-free should be advertised more.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Horchata, and updates

I've been absent for a bit, but I've still been cooking, of course. I've also updated a few things here on the blog, published a few old posts that were languishing in my drafts folder because the pictures had not been uploaded, and created a flickr account (the slideshow in the corner also links to my photostream) so I can upload pictures, when there's no story or recipe to necessitate a blog post.

It's been insanely hot here, which means three things, 1) I don't feel like being active, 2)I've been having a decreased appetite, and 3) I don't feel like slaving over a hot stove. Taking all of those things into account, here's a simple, refreshing recipe to help beat the heat. Horchata is a sort of chilled and spiced rice milk. It's almost always served at taquerias, where it's one of the three most common flavors of aguas frescas. It's made with different seeds or nuts, and just about every recipe has a different ratio, so play with it, and see how you like it. Apparently, in many areas of Mexico, sweet melon seeds are used, in Puerto Rico, sesame seeds are used, and in Spain, tigernuts are used. I'm only familiar with almond horchata, but that's probably just because they are more widely available here...I mean, I've never even seen a tigernut. This horchata will be a bit thicker than normal to allow for adding ice which will melt and dilute the flavor--and sweet, but just sweet enough so it's refreshing, although you can make it a bit thinner and sweeter than you want the finished product to be.

by Christina Terriquez

1 cup organic long grain brown rice, rinsed
1 cup organic blanched raw almonds or raw pumpkin seeds
6 cups spring or filtered water, or more
1 whole cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract, alcohol-free variety
2–4 tablespoons organic agave nectar, or other sweetener, or more to taste
ice or water, if desired

Combine the rice and almonds 2 cups water and let soak 4 hours or overnight.

Pour into a blender. Add cinnamon stick and vanilla bean now, if using. Process until the rice is finely pulverized. Add the remaining water, agave nectar and vanilla extract. Strain through double or triple layered cheesecloth. Sweeten to taste.

Refrigerate for 2 hours and/or pour over ice. Serve chilled.

Add 1 whole organic cinnamon stick before soaking or 1 teaspoon ground organic cinnamon after

In different regions of Spain, Central America and South America, various seeds and nuts are used. Experiment with substituting sesame seeds, melon seeds or sunflower seeds for the almonds.

Try a 1/4--1/2 teaspoon fresh organic lime zest.

Basmati rice, white basmati, or white long grain rice may also be used.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Valentine's Day Love Bites

Valentine’s Day is a perfect special occasion to indulge in something really decadent with your loved ones. However, one of the biggest problems with indulging is the indigestion and feeling of heaviness that accompanies most baked goods. Nothing ruins romance like an upset stomach or feeling bloated and too-full.

These Love Bites are gluten-free for easy digestion. They have a complex yet classic combination of flavors which is rich and satisfying, yet their petite size makes them a perfect end to your meal, that won’t leave you or your sweetheart’s tummies feeling overstuffed.

Love Bites
Christina Terriquez

Yields: 20 servings

1 recipe Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
1 recipe Crème Anglaise for garnishing, optional

1/4 cup organic juice sweetened raspberry preserves, diluted
with 1 or 2 teaspoons of water

3/4 cup organic unsweetened non dairy milk, like soy, oat,
coconut, almond, rice, etc.
1/2 cup organic grain-sweetened chocolate chips

organic fresh raspberries for garnishing, optional

Prepare Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake and Crème Anglaise according to recipes.

Place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, heat soymilk over medium-high heat until soymilk just begins to boil. Pour hot soymilk over chocolate chips and let stand for two minutes. Whisk soymilk and chocolate together until a smooth homogeneous texture is achieved.

To assemble Love Bites:
Place a wire cooling rack over a cookie sheet.

Cut off any crisp or tough edges of Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake and set aside for other uses. Cut remaining cake into individual servings using a small heart cookie cutter, or cut into 1 inch squares. If using a cookie cutter, make sure it is no more than 2 inches by 2 inches.

Cut heart in half, so that you have doubled the amount of hearts.

Spread 1/4–1/2 teaspoon of thinned raspberry preserves over the top of half of the hearts, then place another heart on top, creating a sandwich.

Place heart sandwiches on a wire rack/cookie sheet set up. Slowly pour chocolate sauce over each heart, allowing some chocolate to flow down the sides of each heart If chocolate has thickened, heat it or whisk in a tablespoon or two of more nondairy milk. Decorate hearts with raspberries while chocolate is still soft, if desired.

Place chilled and whipped Crème Anglaise in a small plastic bag and cut the very tip of one corner off the bag. Use the bag to gently drizzle crème over each heart.

Allow chocolate and crème to set up. Share with your loved ones.

Try using a different flavor of preserves or Cashew Crème.

Substitute your favorite cake recipe for the Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake.

Add 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract to soymilk before boiling.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
Christina Terriquez

Yields: 9–16 servings

1/3 cup organic quinoa flour
1/4 cup organic chick pea flour
1/4 cup organic white rice flour
1/3 cup organic, free-trade cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon, optional
1/4 cup organic safflower oil
5/8 cup organic unsweetened soy milk or coconut milk (1/2 cup
plus 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons organic white wine vinegar
1/2 cup organic agave nectar
1/8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt, Lima or SI brand recommended
1 tablespoon organic ground flax meal
1/4 cup filtered or spring water
1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon organic almond extract, optional

Preheat over to 350° F.

Prepare one 8 inch square cake pan by lightly brushing with safflower oil, then lining with an 8x16 inch piece of unbleached parchment. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, sift flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together.

In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients together. Add dry ingredients and gently mix to incorporate.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30–50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool completely on cooling rack. Run a knife along the edges of the cake, and use long ends of parchment to gently remove cake from baking pan.

Double this recipe for a two–layer 8 inch square cake.

Frost with Creamy Chocolate frosting, chocolate ganache, Tofu Cream Icing, Cashew Creme, or serve with Orange Blossom Syrup.

Garnish with a fruit sauce made with fruit sweetened preserves diluted in apple juice or water and thickened with kuzu.

Crème Anglaise
Christina Terriquez

3/4 cup organic unsweetened soymilk
2 tablespoons agar flakes
1 organic vanilla bean
1/3 cup organic coconut milk
1/4 cup organic light agave nectar
1/4 cup organic amasake
1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract
1 tablespoon organic coconut oil, optional

In a medium saucepan, combine soy milk and agar flakes and let rest for 10 minutes.

While agar and soymilk are resting, split vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape the tiny black seeds from each half, and put vanilla seeds and pod into soymilk.

Add remaining ingredients to saucepan and simmer for 10–15 minutes, until agar flakes have dissolved and sauce has thickened slightly. Remove vanilla pod from sauce. Remove from heat and blend in blender or with immersion wand once again. Use immediately for glazing.

If using sauce for garnishing, cool until set. After sauce has set, purée in blender or with immersion wand. Sauce should be soft custard consistency.

Crème Anglaise is usually made with cream, refined sugar, egg yolks and vanilla beans. This vegan version is much healthier for your heart.

Store it in a squeeze bottle (this is a perfect use for your agave nectar bottles when you've used all the agave inside), and use it to garnish any other desserts you make that week.

Make a double or triple batch and put it in an ice cream maker for a rich, French Vanilla-style ice cream.