Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tomato-Rice Soup

Cookbook Challenge Week 2 - Veganomicon

I have a special fondness in my heart for Veganomicon, as it was the very first vegan cookbook I purchased.  With that said, for the cookbook challenge,  I wanted to be sure to make recipes from the book that I had never tried before.  With all the snow lately, and temperatures being down in the single digits, the Tomato-Rice Soup with Roasted Garlic and Navy Beans sounded too good to be true.

What I like so much about this recipe is that is was simple, and that it called for BROWN rice, something I had been really craving. I followed the original recipe almost exactly, except for a couple things:  Instead of the roasted garlic, I used six whole cloves of garlic, smashed, and simmered those along with the soup, and I used 1 tsp of dried basil instead of marjoram.  I ate my first bowl as is.  Once the soup had cooled, I added the slightest touch of agave nectar, just to round out the acid of the tomatoes.

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Simple, warm and comforting, and certainly puts that can of condensed Campbell's to shame!

*This recipe make A LOT of soup, so half went into a container in the freezer, and the rest will be for my lunches the rest of the week. ^_^

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Olive Lentil Burgers

There is something completely satisfying about making veggie burgers from scratch. While I do (usually) have a box of frozen veggie burgers on hand for a quick, no-fuss dinner, many of the store bought burger varieties contain some not-so-wonderful ingredients.

When you make your own though, you have the freedom to pick any flavor you like: Mexican, Indian, Cajun, Italian... the possibilities are endless, and YOU get to control exactly what goes in them.

So when I saw this recipe for "OLIVE LENTIL BURGERS' on the Post Punk Kitchen Blog, I was immediately intrigued.  That, and I had a lovely container of fresh kalamata olives left over from making Artichoke Olive Salsa for New Year's!

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These were DELICIOUS!  The salty brine of the olives mixed with the meaty texture of the mushrooms made a perfect match.  For the mushrooms, I actually used a 50 gram bag of dried shiitakes that I had picked up at Job Lot for $2.00. They were already finely chopped and just needed to be re-hydrated.  I wasn't really sure how much re-hydrated shiitake I as going to end up with, so I soaked the whole bag and figured I'd hope for the best.

The amount ended up being perfect, and the substitution was perfect because the shiitakes added a wonderful smokey flavor. After they were well soaked, I drained and then added them to the already sautéing onion, garlic and spices, just to  heat them through and let the flavors combine.

One thing I also really liked about this recipe was the addition of dried tarragon.  I do have a small plastic bag of the spice, but I don't really come across too many opportunities to use it.  To me, tarragon has a licorice and slightly minty flavor.  The flavors of dried tarragon are quite strong, but the 1/4 tsp called for in this recipe, gives the perfect subtle hint.  I might be able to use up that bag after all!

I did end up baking the burgers in the oven about 15 minutes longer than stated, so about 45 minutes total.  I served them on toasted wheat bread with some romaine lettuce leaves and some Guacamame from Appetite for Reduction.  More on Guacamame to come!

Mushroom Olive and Lentil Burgers

Friday, January 14, 2011


Cookbook Challenge Week 1 - Appetite for Reduction

Too many starchy, carbs getting you down? Looking to cut down on your MASHED POTATO consumption, but fear the sudden withdrawal? Well look no further, CAULIPOTS are here!

Caulipots - the fact that it looks like a cauliflower is purely coincidence 

I think Isa sums it up best: "Mashed potatoes are pretty much the clouds of heaven - I definitely indulge - but the fat and calories therein can make them the spuds of hell".

This delectable 'half-and-half' blend of the beloved potato, and the often forgot-about cauliflower, uses no milk or butter (that's 'no unsweetened almond milk and Earth Balance to you and me') but rather, uses a touch of olive oil and vegetable broth to smooth it out and give it flavor.

Now, back in my pregan days, the no-carb, low-carb Atkins thing was running rampant.  And with that "carb be devil" attitude, emerged the phenomena of the Mashed Cauliflower, a heaping mound of boiled cauliflower mixed with HEAVY cream and butter, and them whipped into a mash we all could relate to, because god FORBID you eat a potato!!  I admit, I made it once, and it was well received.  But something inside me thought "someone's got something very wrong here".

Can't we have the best of both?  And I think this recipe proves that yes, yes we can. 

*Best thing about the Caulipots: serving them to my cauliflower-hating GF, waiting until her last bite, and THEN telling her there was cauliflower in them! she was blown away...and converted, yay

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma

Cookbook Challenge Week 1 - Appetite for Reduction

I can honestly say I have never had a "korma", but I have made my fair share of Indian inspired curries, slightly sweetened and made creamy with a can of coconut milk. Most of them don't really follow a recipe, and are more like a bit of this and that...

BUT, if I'm going to add coconut milk to my curry, what do I do??  I ADD THE WHOLE CAN!  This recipe has taught me restraint.  You don't need to add a whole can to make a deliciously light and creamy vegetable curry.

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What did help in this discovery was the fact that I had half a can of light coconut milk left over from making the sauce for the New Year's Samosas, but now thanks to that bit of luck, I am all the wiser. 

The original recipe calls for fresh zucchini, which I sadly did not have.  I did use chopped baby carrots, cauliflower, peas, and then tossed in about a cup of cooked chickpeas to make up for the missing zucchini.  They're buried in there somewhere...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Everyday Chickpea-Quinoa Salad

Cookbook Challenge Week 1 - Appetite for Reduction

I cannot tell you how excited I am to own this cookbook.  I've been skimming through the recipes, and I have to say, I can see myself making ALL of them.  They are all quick and simple, which is great for me, especially on busy weeknights when I get home from work after 6.

And... there are TONS of recipe ideas that are great for work lunches. One of my (silent) New Year's resolutions was to start packing more interesting, healthy lunches.  I was quite pleasantly surprised as I flipped through the book and was met with tons of great ideas for lunch, like in Chapter 1, for example: 


"THERE WAS A TIME -- A LONELY, LONELY TIME -- WHEN SALADS were a pale and limp affair, relegated to the side of your plate, practically weeping.  I think those dark days were also know as the '80s.  Then all of a sudden, salads came alive... the line between salad and entree was blurred. The walls came down, and arugula came up".

Reading Isa's introduction MAKES me want to make and eat salad! Even in the cold, dead of winter, when the thought of a crisp and cool green salad makes me shiver...

So why not start at recipe numero uno?  (I had all the stuff on hand too)  

I give you: Everyday Chickpea-Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette:

Everyday Quinoa & Chickpea Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Delicious! This is going to be my go-to salad for work for a while.  I decided to keep the quinoa and chickpeas in a separate container in my fridge, and then mixed them in with the greens and dressing each morning.  The quinoa and chickpea combo really adds nice bulk to the greens, which made me feel full the rest of the day.

Appetite for Reduction really has some wonderful homemade salad dressing too, great to keep mixed up in the fridge for salad variety anytime.  The Balsamic Vinaigrette that follows this recipe in the book uses soaked cashews instead of oil, to give a creamy body to the dressing. L O V E! Cannot wait to make more...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cookbook Challenge!

My cookbook collection has just about grown out of its alloted space - O N E whole bookshelf. Yes, that's right, I have one WHOLE bookshelf dedicated entirely to cookbooks.  To some, this might seem a bit excessive. Yet for a gal like me, who tends to read cookbooks like novels, I feel this is nothing short of wonderful!

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Partial shot - Veganomicon was in the car...

To help put this monstrous collection to good use, I will be participating in the Post Punk Kitchen's 12-week cookbook challenge!  Starting January 10th, I will (attempt to) make at least three (3) recipes from the following Top 10 Vegan Cookbooks:

January 10 - Appetite for Reduction
January 17 - Veganomicon
January 24 - Urban Vegan
January 31 - Vegan with a Vengeance
February 7 - Eat, Drink & Be Vegan
February 14 - FREE choice week - Choose any cookbook. Dessert cookbook will be Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World or other.
February 21 - 500 Vegan Recipes
February 28 - American Vegan Kitchen
March 7 - Yellow Rose Recipes
March 14 - Viva Vegan
March 21 - Vegan Brunch
March 28 - Final Week! Free choice - choose any cookbook. Dessert cookbook will be Vegan cookies Invade your Cookie Jar

Now, most of these I already own, and thanks to the wonderful NOOK Color I received as a birthday gift from my mom (yay), I have two more: Viva Vegan and Appetite for Reduction.  (I treated myself... instant gratification is nice).

For the rest, I'll be hitting up the good 'ol Woonsocket library.  Not sure if they even have a cookbook section (or even a vegan cookbook section) but we shall see...

I the meantime, I wish my fellow PPKers happing cooking.  I'm off to pick some recipes... ^_^

Monday, January 3, 2011

Vegetable Samosas: a Perfect Start to a New Year!

Vegetable Samosas with Coconut Mint Chutney

These delectable stuffed pastries, filled with fragrant potato and pea filling, were actually the FIRST Indian dish I ever tried.  I remember, skeptically, going to the original India Restaurant on the East Side of Providence with an old friend, wondering what the heck I was going to order.  "Try these, I know you'll love them" she said.  When they arrived (only two) I remember being sad that they only came (2) to an order, and that we didn't order at least six... A PEICE!  And so, the humble samosa will forever be my inauguration into the wonderful world of Indian cuisine, and for that I am truly thankful.
For my small, yet tasteful New Year’s Eve party this year I wanted to have a selection of tasty appetizers for my friends, none of whom are vegan.  In my zeal to be Betty Crocker, and the fact that I had two days off prior, I decided make samosas from scratch.  Plus, I had been eyeing the samosa recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance (VWAV) for quite some time.
What makes this recipe nice is that the samosas are not deep fried, but rather, brushed with a bit of olive oil and baked in the oven.  The pastry dough is easy to make too, and I got to use my Kitchen Aid mixer, which helped with the kneading immensely (10 minutes)!

I will say this:  These guys are time consuming little buggers, but are SO worth the effort.  And please, if you have VWAV, do yourself a favor and make the Coconut-Mint Chutney recipe that follows for dipping.  This recipe is so quick and simple and (magically) mirrors the mint chutney dipping sauce they serve at India Restaurant.  In fact, I think it’s even BETTER! ^_^