Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Potato Nachos

I got a coupon for a free package of Wayfare's "We Can't Say It's Cheese."  This is a "cheese" dip that comes in a tub, and it's tasty, but in kind of a dirty overprocessed way.  I had some of it on crackers, but I can only handle so many crackers so I also made these potato nachos (potatachos?)  I thinly- sliced a few red and purple potatoes, rubbed them all over with olive oil, and baked them at 450 for about 20 minutes, turning them about midway through.  Then I covered them with olives, salsa, and dollops of the "cheese," and broiled them until the cheese got melty.  These were one of those dishes that looks ugly and sounds ill-conceived, but tastes fantastic.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas dinner

No recipe for this, but here's a quick shot of my Christmas dinner:

Tamales with avocado, mango, and pineapple.  Tamales are my standard holiday dish, but I've never made the filling the same way twice.  For the dough, I use the recipe from Veganomicon; the vegetable broth in the dough gives it a nice savory depth.  I filled these with ground seitan, black beans, and onions, which I covered in a tangy-sweet homemade barbecue sauce.  I think the hardest part of making tamales is estimating the right amount of filling for the dough.  I ended up with too much filling, so I stuffed the leftovers into steamed buns the next day (steamed bun recipe coming soon).

Friday, December 24, 2010

The worst microwave ever

I recently stayed in a cheap hotel that had a "kitchenette" featuring the worst microwave ever.  Not only were there no power settings on the thing, it also had this gross little list of cooking times printed on the front:

Even if I wasn't vegan, I can't imagine wanting to microwave a pound of ground beef.  Ick.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vegetarian Goose

About once a month, I make a trek to the asian grocery store to stock up on tofu, rice noodles, sesame oil, and assorted condiments.  On my last trip, I spotted this "Vegetarian Goose," and decided to give it a try.

The "goose" consisted of sheets of bean curt skin wrapped around a seasoned vegetable filling.  The package didn't include any cooking instructions, so I decided to baste it with a little olive oil and bake it.  It came out of the oven looking like a gelatinous blob, but looked much better once sliced:

I served the goose with stuffing and some leftover garlic soup.  I enjoyed the first bite or two of it, but then found it too salty to continue eating.  Won't be purchasing this again, but I enjoyed experimenting with it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Carrot Cake Waffles

These waffles were the result of a delicious Sunday morning experiment, when I was thinking about carrot cake but knew I shouldn't eat cake for breakfast.

The ingredients:
3 cups flour
2 T baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 1/2 cups almond milk
1/2 cup olive oil
1 t vanilla
6 carrots, grated (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup pineapple, crushed or finely chopped
2/3 cup raisins, soaked in hot water until plump, then drained

The process:

  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  2. Whisk in juice, milk, oil, and vanilla.
  3. Fold in carrots, walnuts, pineapple, and raisins.
  4. Cook on a well-oiled waffle iron.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Other People's Recipes: Vegan Yum Yum

I have an enormous collection of vegan cookbooks, and have never cooked a recipe from at least half of them.  I read them for inspiration, but almost always find that my food turns out better if I don't strictly follow a recipe.  However, I recently acquired a copy of "Vegan Yum Yum," was drawn in by the gorgeous photos, and decided to try some of the recipes.    I've had overall good results, but did end up tweaking most of the dishes after I'd tasted them—while they are a good basic starting point, I think many of the recipes are pretty one-note, so I ended up tweaking most of the sauces to add nuance.  Overall, I'd still recommend this book, if only for the great photography; however, be careful with the binding as my copy started losing pages the second time I opened it.

What I've tried so far:
Soy-Mirin Tofu with [Snow Peas] and Peanut Sauce
What I changed: subbed broccoli for snow peas, thinned down the sauce with vegetable broth, halved the sugar in the sauce, halved the tofu, doubled the vegetables.  Though the mirin was hard to find, it adds a nice dimension to this sauce, though in my opinion mirin is so sweet it negates the need to add sugar.

Tamarind Tofu Cabbage Bowl
What I changed: subbed mung bean sprouts for 1/3 of the cabbage, doubled the amount of sauce, used less tamari and more chutney in the sauce, used less curry powder in the chutney.  I loved the almonds in this dish, and the tamarind chutney is a good condiment to keep on hand.

Creamy Broccoli Mushroom Bake
What I changed: subbed barley for the orzo.  This was the one dish I've made from this cookbook that I would absolutely never make again.  It looked about as good as it tasted, which is to say, pretty bad.  Maybe if the broccoli was in larger pieces and was only baked instead of being fried and then baked, it would be more palatable, but I don't plan on finding out.

Lime Peanut Noodles with Seitan, Kale, and Carrots

What I changed: subbed white wine for part of the lime juice, increased ginger powder, decreased tamari (and should have decreased it more, as this was WAY too salty), thinned down sauce with water.  This dish was a good way to use up some of the kale that I overplanted in my garden.  I liked the dish overall but was overwhelmed by its saltiness.

Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles
What I changed: subbed cilantro for mint, subbed regular spaghetti for whole wheat, doubled vinegar and mustard in sauce, decreased sugar in sauce, added 2 T almond butter to sauce, thinned sauce with white wine, cut broccoli larger than recipe specifies.  This was my favorite of the recipes I cooked from this book, though I found the instruction to cut the broccoli florets "no bigger than small grapes" ridiculous.  This made great leftovers for lunch the next day.

Unphotographed: Hurry-Up Alfredo
I would have liked this dish more if it had been called an "uncheese" instead of an alfredo.  The creamy texture was nice, but it tasted nothing like alfredo to me (for alfredo I'll stick with a roux and soy milk sauce), and the flavor was quite bland.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Banana Breakfast Muffins

I rarely eat anything but oatmeal for breakfast, but I had some overripe bananas to use and wanted something lighter than banana bread, so banana-oatmeal breakfast muffins were born.  They were good enough that I'm now letting my bananas go bad on purpose so I have an excuse to make more muffins.   This recipe makes a dozen standard size muffins or 6 jumbo muffins.

The ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 T tapioca starch
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 very ripe bananas
1 1/3 cup milk alternative
1/3 cup margarine, melted
2 t vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3-1/2 cup chocolate chips

The process

  1. Preheat oven to 400.  
  2. Smash bananas with a fork or pulse in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Whisk together flour, tapioca starch, sugar, baking powder, salt, and oats.
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients until just combined.  The batter will be quite thick.
  5. Oil muffin tins and fill 'em with batter.  The batter will probably just barely fit in the tins.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Have I mentioned how much I love vegansaurus?  They're weird and irreverent and kind of snarky (and I mean that in a good way).  And now I love them more than ever because they included my dog Jasper's photo among their "adorable animal" posts. Yay for cuteness and dogs!