Saturday, December 17, 2011

Recipe Testing: Yu-Xiang Eggplant (Szechuan Spicy Eggplant)

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iPhone pic, not the best, but you get the idea!


HOORAY for  trying new ingredients! And, let me tell you, testing for Terry Hope Romero's new international cookbook has really given me the opportunity to try all sorts of ingredients and spices I have never worked with before.

This recipe called for Chinese Garlic Bean Paste, something I had heard of, but certainly never used before.  This condiment is made from fermented black soybeans, garlic, CHILI, and soy sauce.  Conveniently, I have a wonderful Asian Market within walking distance from my house (Asian Market & Video!!) so I was able to find it easily. 

Now, if you know me, you know I like things SPICY, but let me tell you, this Chinese Garlic Bean Paste came darn near close to blowing my head off!!  And, I loved every second of it.

Although not a fan of eggplant, I do see myself making this sauce for a variety of different vegetables and perhaps tofu.  I served mine over ramen noodles, which I thought was quite yummy ^_^

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Recipe Testing: Lemon Coolers!


I'm not sure WHAT possesd me to take on another recipe testing project, but when I saw a tweet asking for testers for VEGAN Holiday recipes, it was all I could do to contain myself!

These lovely little cookies are from Joni Marie Newman's (Self-appointed Queen of Veggie Burgers) upcoming cookbook: Vegan Food Gifts.

How exciting is that?!  The bulk of my holiday gifts are baked cakes and cookies.  Last year, I even made up batches of home made cinnamon granola.  Testing for this book is a treat, because I already socked away forty of these lovely cookies in my freezer for the end of the month.

Think of these as a lemony twist on the holiday butterball cookie.  The coating on these has a special suprise ingredient that adds a hint of tart to these sweet and lovely lemon cookies ^_^

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Recipe Testing: Greek Village Salad with Cashew "Feta"


Who doesn't love the tangy bite of a fresh Greek-style salad?  This recipe uses cashew pieces, marinated in a salty brine, as a stand-in for the feta cheese found in traditional Greek Salads.

I usually do a vegan feta that involves marinated tofu, so It’s nice to have another “feta” recipe that isn’t tofu based, for folks who can’t have soy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Recipe Testing: Black Bean Soup with Roasted Poblanos and Pickled Onions


Another successful test from Terry Hope Romero's upcoming cookbook!  Warm and comforting black bean soup, with a subtle hint of heat from the roasted poblanos.  I took the time and soaked my black beans from scratch, which gave the most amazingly creamy texture to the beans in this soup.

I also learned how quick and simple it is to make pickled red onions, which will now become a regular soup, sandwich or burrito topper in our house.

As good as this soup was the day it was made, topped with pickled onions and some avocado, it got EVEN BETTER the next day! 

Freshly Roasted Poblanos, right from the broiler!
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  Another winner, for me!
Thank you, Terry!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Our Thanksgiving Eats, 2011 Edition

This year, I had much to be thankful for.  My loving family and friends, my health, my home, and the delicious food that we were ALL able to share.

I am fortunate enough to be in charge of SIDES and DESSERTS on Thanksgiving, so even though there is a turkey served, I can eat the better part of the feast as well. It's a lot of work, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

You see, if you cook it well, AND it looks beautiful, no one even bats an eye that they are being served an entire feast of cruelty free vegan dishes!

Here is what I made this year:
Caramelized Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Squash

Always a hit, and so simple.  Peel and de-seed three (3) Butternut Squash, and chop into 1" pieces. Peel and halve 4-6 shallots. Toss everything in a single layer on baking sheets with some olive oil (or melted Earth Balance Margarine), brown sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg (maybe some allspice too, depending on how I'm feeling).  Roast in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, turning once or twice, until tender.

Roasted Butternut Squash


Harvest Green Beans

Harvest Green Beans
From the Penzey's Spice Catalogue! This dish is a nice change from the usual "Green Bean Casserole" we've all seen so many times. For those of you who aren't familiar with Penzey's spice blend Mural of Flavor, it is a salt-free mix of: shallots, onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, basil, coriander, lemon peel, citric acid, black pepper, chives, green peppercorns, dill weed, and orange peel.

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb fresh green beans
1/2 cup pecans
2 tablespoons olive oil or 2 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons Penzey's MURAL of FLAVOR, or your favorite salt-free seasoning
2 teaspoons agave nectar

DIRECTIONS:
1. Wash the beans, and cut the stem end off. (this can be done a day ahead of time).
2. To cook: Bring a pot of water (at least 2 quarts) to a rolling boil.
3. While the water is coming to a boil, heat the butter/oil in a medium pan and simmer on low with the pecans.
4. Once they are lightly browned, add the SESAME SEEDS and MURAL OF FLAVOR.
5. Add the green beans to boiling water and cook 2 minutes.
6. Drain and rinse the beans to stop the cooking, but leave them warm.
7. Drizzle the pecan mix with the honey, stir regularly, then when the beans have been drained and rinsed, add them to the pan and toss with the seasoned nut mix.
8. Place in a serving bowl.
9. Cover the bowl with foil and place in a warm oven until ready to serve.
 
Harvest Green Beans

Mashed Potatoes & Vegan Gravy (mostly for me)
Although my mother surprised me and pulled out some of her mashed potatoes that she mashed with Smart Balance instead of butter, so I had extra potatoes!

Mashed Potatoes & Vegan Gravy
Posted by EmilyStrikesAgain @ Food.com, this recipe for Vegan Gravy is one of the simplest, BEST tasting gravies I've ever made. I use this 99.9% of the time when I need a basic, all-purpose gravy.  100% omnivore approved! I usually use shallot in place of the onion.

Broccoli Aglio Olio (With Garlic and Olive Oil)


Simple and delicious. A true Italian staple for any dinner. This recipe is just about the ONLY way my mother and grandmother cook their vegetables, and it's the way I do too!

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb broccoli floret
1 -2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 -4 garlic cloves, sliced thin (sometimes I mince too)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Steam broccoli over a pot of boiling water, or in a veggie steamer, for about 5 minutes.
2. Feel free to steam more or less, depending on how your family likes their veggies cooked.
3. Keep in mind that you will also be sautéing the broccoli in the next step.
4. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
5. Add the garlic and saute for about 45 seconds to impart its flavors into the oil.
6. Before the garlic begins to brown, add the red pepper flakes and broccoli to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, or until cooked to your liking.
7. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

AND WHO CAN FORGET DESSERT!!!!

I want to personally thank Vegan Pie in the Sky, the third installment of Isa and Terry's dessert Trilogy, for the bulk of my inspiration this year! They were truly the stars of the show ^_^

We have, Maple Pecan Pie:


And Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Crunch Topping (this literally blew my MIND it was so good)!!


And, then my version of Tarte aux Pommes, which you might remember from here:


And, there you have it!  Vegan food fit for kings and queens, that stands up to even the most picky meat-eater, and even... my family. ^_^