Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Miso Soup... err, Stew

We were blessed with an extra head of cabbage this week, and I'm looking in our fridge at two full heads of cabbage and a bin full of sweet potatoes and thinking, "What on earth am I going to do with all of these veggies?" Out of curiosity, I looked on for soup ideas, and came across a recipe for miso soup with sweet potato wonton dumplings. I know, it sounds weird, but it worked! Even the hubby liked it, which is saying alot since he is not a fan of sweet potatoes! It is really salty, but you can reduce the amount of miso and tamari (or use reduced-sodium tamari) to reduce the sodium content.

As per usual, I tweaked the recipe a bit, and this is what ensued... (it was more of a stew than a soup, but if you prefer a brothy miso soup, reduce the amount of cabbage by half or double the liquid and spices)....

Miso Soup with Sweet Potato Wontons
2 medium sweet potatoes (just over 1 lb)
1 large shallot, minced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
1 tbsp. ginger, minced or grated
1-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
30 wonton wrappers
1 tbsp of tamari for sprinkling over the finished wontons
4 cups cabbage, thinly sliced (approximately half a small head of cabbage)
1 daikon (optional), thinly sliced in half moons
1 inch piece of ginger, diced
8 cups water
2 tbsp. tamari (omit if you want a less salty broth, or use reduced-sodium tamari)
4 veggie bouillon cubes
3 heaping tbsp. yellow miso (reduce this amount if you want a less salty broth)
1 cup of bean sprouts (for topping)

Heat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Prick sweet potatoes and put on a baking sheet. Bake for one hour, turning once. Cool, peel, and set aside in medium size bowl.

Heat oil over medium-low heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes or until caramelized. Add shallot/garlic mixture, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt to sweet potatoes. Mash and stir well to combine. Set aside.

Place cabbage, daikon, and ginger in large soup pot. Cover with eight cups of water and add tamari and bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil and cover.

Place one wonton wrapper in the palm of your hand. (Cover the others to prevent them from drying out) Place a scant 1 tbsp. of sweet potato mixture in the center of the wonton wrapper. Wet two adjacent edges of the wonton wrapper and fold the opposite two edges into the wet edges to form a triangle. Place the wrapper so the tip of the triangle is facing upwards. Take the two bottom edges and twist them outward. Then bring the tips of the two twisted edges together and overlap them. It should form a hat-like look.Once you have six or so, place them in the pot of boiling veggies and cover for 3-5 minutes. They will turn translucent when they are done. Remove gently with a slotted spoon and place in a single layer on a plate to cool. Continue this process until all of the sweet potato mixture has been used. Sprinkle tamari over the finished wontons. This will prevent them from sticking and add a nice touch of flavor for added depth.

When the veggies are done, after about an hour of boiling gently, turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Place the 3 heaping tablespoons of yellow miso in a small, separate bowl and mix 1/4 cup of the liquid from the veggies, one tablespoon at a time, into the miso until the mixture is smooth. Pour into the soup pot. Spoon into separate bowls and top with the bean sprouts and two or three wontons. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Red Lentil Stew in the slow cooker

As I was going through our fridge and devising a menu and shopping list for the week, I discovered that I had a small amount of butternut squash left over from when I had roasted part of it a few weeks ago. I also discovered that I have several sweet potatoes on their last leg, and while my bean stores are a little low as of late, I have a lot of red lentils. I then took a recipe that I really liked (Red Lentil Dhal from The Post Punk Kitchen) and decided to merge them and pray for the best :). Lo and behold, a yummy stew unfolded! The hubby was not a huge fan, but he doesn't tend to like my forays into Indian cuisine. It was spicy, but the sweet potatoes and squash lent it a subtle sweetness.

Here are a couple really bad pictures.... (the baby was throwing up this evening, and I forgot to grab a picture until I was cleaning up and putting it in the fridge)

... and the recipe...

Red Lentil Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Winter Squash
2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
6 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
2 black peppercorns (optional)

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 large carrot, diced
2 small sweet potatoes, diced or cubed depending on your preference
1/4 butternut squash, diced or cubed depending on your preference
2 14.5 oz. cans of diced tomatoes (I used cans with no salt added)
1 cup dry red lentils
3 cups water
3 small cubes veggie bouillon
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (if you are making this for kids, you may want to start with just a pinch or leave it out altogether and offer it at the t
1 tsp. salt, or more/less to taste

Combine all spices (except the peppercorns) into a small or medium size skillet and toast over medium-low heat until the mustard seeds start to pop. Stir them or shake the skillet occasionally to prevent them from burning. 

While the spices are toasting, heat the oil 
over medium-high heat and add the onions. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until they just turn translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple minutes more, or until your onions are caramelized. Remove from heat and pour the onion mixture into your slow cooker.  Put your carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash in the slow cooker next.

At this point, the spices should be finished toasting. Remove them from the heat and place into a coffee grinder or spice mill.  Add the peppercorns and grind until you have a fine powder. Pour the powder into the slow cooker atop the veggies.  Here's a pic of the spices before they were ground.... (your mustard seeds will turn a purplish-gray color when they are toasted)
Next, pour the two cans of tomatoes (including the juice in the can) over the veggies and spice mixture and then add the lentils. Pour 3 cups of water into the slow cooker and add your veggie bouillon cubes. Add cayenne and salt (if using).  Stir to combine all the ingredients. Cook on high for two hours, stirring occasionally if you are able, and then cook on low for four hours. 

The stew will thicken considerably in the last hour of cooking, and the lentils and tomatoes will almost dissolve in it. Serve over rice or by itself.  This recipe serves four hungry people if it is being eaten with no or few accompaniments, but it could easily be stretched to feed eight. I hope you enjoy!

Monday, February 16, 2009

I have returned... with a potato and pea curry

No, I have not abandoned this blog. However, the business of the holidays coupled with an infant who is still not sleeping (and a frustrating search for a post-college job in a failing economy) has led to a premature sabbatical. I will try to be better about posting in the upcoming weeks, and my goal is to catch-up and share some of my favorite vegan recipes from the past holidays, so the theme of some of my posts may not correspond well to the date on which they were posted (ie, Christmas recipes will probably be posted in June at this rate! just kidding... sort of). Anyways, back to the business at hand....

The other night, I made a potato and pea curry. I know it's not the most appetizing name, but it was fantastic! Money has been tight as of late, and I've been challenging myself to find creative new ways to maximize taste on a minimal budget. This particular dish was inspired by a recipe in Vegetarian Times. I must mention that this recipe is not at all authentic, but it is yummy!

Here's a pic:

And the recipe:

1 c. quinoa
1/2 c. bulghur
3 c. water or veggie broth
2 tbsp olive oil (or vegetable broth)
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
one large onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
6-8 medium size potatoes (I used all purpose white potatoes), peeled and diced
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1-2 tsp. red curry powder, depending on taste
2 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne, or more depending on taste
1 c. frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon plus wedges for serving (optional)
cilantro for garnish

In a small pot, bring the quinoa, bulghur, and water/broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and toast, stirring occasionally, until the seeds turn from yellow to brown and pop. Add the onion and garlic, turn the heat up to medium/medium-high and cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic is slightly browned (3-5 minutes). Add the bell pepper and cook for another minute or two, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and spices and cook for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender. Add the peas and cook until just heated through. You may need to add some water and/or more oil to keep the potatoes and/or peas from sticking. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, mix the bulghur with the curry and spoon into bowls or onto plates. Sprinkle with lemon juice and cilantro.

This comes together in about 45 minutes; please don't be daunted by the ingredient list and feel free to change it to suit your personal preferences!

I found peaches on an amazing sale at a local grocer last week, so I decided to make a peach cobbler for dessert that night. I did some googling for a vegan peach cobbler and came up with several options. Not knowing which to pick, I combined different aspects of each and came up with this! The filling was yummy, but the cake was not as dense and moist as my hubby and I prefer. I think I overstretched my baking know-how by trying to use spelt instead of all purpose flour... It needs a little tweaking, but when I get it perfect, I'll post the recipe. Here's a pic:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Baked Oatmeal goes Bananas!

With the cooler weather we've had recently, I have fallen back in love with a childhood favorite: oatmeal! However, after a couple weeks of eating the same old oatmeal every day, I decided to jazz it up a bit this morning... inspired by a couple black bananas sitting on my table.

Since high school, my all-time favorite breakfast was a baked oatmeal recipe from a bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, it is far from vegan. Not to be undone, I looked it up this morning, determined to create an equally delicious version. Normally, there is a custard-like layer beneath the crusty oatmeal top, and I was a little unsure how to recreate that since I did not have silken tofu. Then I saw the black spotted bananas on the table. Voila! Magic! Instead of having a separate custard layer, the center is very custard-like while the top and edges are slightly crispy like an oatmeal cookie. mmmmm....

Here are pictures of the end result:

And my recipe:

1-1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking oats)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. soy milk
1/4 c. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 to 1-1/2 bananas, mashed
2 tbsp. flax seeds, ground
nutmeg to sprinkle on top as garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine oats, baking powder, and salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine soy milk, canola oil, vanilla, brown sugar, banana(s), and flax seeds. Gradually pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until well combined. Pour into a greased 8x8 or 2 quart glass baking dish. Sprinkle nutmeg over the top and bake 35-40 minutes.

This would probably also be really good with chopped pecans... Feel free to experiment with this recipe; it's so easy and lends itself to so many variations. Should you try this, let me know what you come up with!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Lasagna Pizagna

When I first went vegan, I was a little dismayed that I would have to give up old favorites like lasagna and such, but then I found Isa's Veganomicon and all was not lost! Omg, her lasagna recipe was incredible!!! It tasted just like my mom's lasagna, minus the dead cow. Even my picky hubby enjoyed it! The only downside: it took me 8 hours to put together... but then again, I have a four month old that wanted in on the action, so trying to do things one-handed was likely the reason. I just hope she's learning something as she watches from her perch upon my hip!
Anyways, I just had to put up some pics, just in case anyone is reading this and wondering "so, just what do vegans eat?"

This is the roasted garlic marinara sauce, into which I tossed some spinach...

... and these are my sauteed mushrooms that I added as an extra layer in the 'sagna...

...and this is the cashew based "ricotta," which I thought tasted too lemony, but it worked amazingly well in the lasagna after it finished baking. Hubby thought there was a slight nutty aftertaste but that it otherwise tasted just like ricotta!

... and lastly, I topped it off with Isa's fab pine nut cream...

And oh my goodness it was soooooo yummy!
Yes, we ate half of it. It was that good!
Do yourself a favor and spend an afternoon making this lasagna. Your tummy will thank you!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Food, Glorious Food!

Alright, so I know it's the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo for short), and I have been wanting to get this blog up and running so I can post some of my new fav foods, but alas I have not sat down long enough to type until now. Unfortunately, it's late so I only have time to share one, but I will return tomorrow with another one.

When hubby was out of town earlier this month, I ate alot of really simple dishes. Caring for a four month old by myself was not an easy task, and there was not a lot of time for cooking. However, I discovered collard greens, black beans and rice. Easy peasy and soooo delish!
I always cook my beans from scratch since it's so much more economical, but otherwise, it was a 20-30 minute meal! Here is my recipe:

Smoky Black Beans and Rice over Greens (serves 2)
1 c. brown rice
2 c. vegetable broth
2 c. cooked black beans (or 1 can, rinsed and drained)
2 tbsp. Chipotle Tabasco sauce (adjust to taste)
1 bunch of collard greens
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. vegetable broth
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
2 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce

I put the brown rice and veggie broth in a pot and brought to a boil. While that was working, I put my black beans in a bowl and sprinkled with the Chipotle Tabasco sauce and stirred to combine.  

In a massive bowl, I tore the collard greens from the stalk into smaller pieces and covered all the pieces with water.  Swirl them in the water a few times to get rid of all the sand and dirt.

Check your rice; once it comes to a boil, you want to turn the heat down to low and cover. Let it cook for 15 or so minutes.

In a medium size saucepan, heat the olive oil over med-high heat. Add the garlic and stir until slightly browned and fragrant.  Add the collard greens (or as many as will fit; you may have to wait for the first few to wilt in the pan before you add more) and the veggie broth, liquid smoke, and tamari.  Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the collards are wilted and a bright green.

To serve, pile collards on each of two plates, top with rice and then beans. Pour the extra nutrient-rich liquid from the collards over the whole shebang and voila! Dinner is ready!

I think I ate this meal a couple times that week, and once I added a Mac and "Cheese" dish on the side. We're talking good ole Southern comfort food! Here's a pic:
I adapted the recipe from "Macaroni Hates Cheese" on Isa's website. Unfortunately, since it was a couple weeks ago, I don't remember exactly what my modifications were :(. I guess that's what I get for being such a procrastinator. 

Tomorrow I'll share my adventure the other day w/lasagna... yummmmm!! For now, though, happy dreams and happy eats!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Awakening

As my first post, I would like to share with you my vegan journey thus far...

My vegan awakening occurred about 6 weeks ago, when my hubby and I discovered that our 3 month old daughter had an allergy to milk and/or peanuts.  The doctor advised me to abstain from milk and nuts, and although my initial response was, "I really don't eat much dairy," I quickly discovered how wrong I was. I baked with it, I cooked with it, and I ate a lot of yogurt and cheese.  When we returned home from the doctor, I looked at the meals I had planned for the week and realized that most of them were no longer feasible.  I didn't know what to do, what to cook, or even how to cook without using dairy products.  So I went to our public library.

I entered the library looking for info on how to cook for kids with allergies, but on the next shelf, I happened to see several vegan cookbooks. It dawned on me that vegans were the best people who would know how to cook without dairy products, and I picked up a copy of Vegan With A Vengeance and Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan.  Just out of curiosity, I also picked up Erik Marcus' book, Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, not knowing that my life would forever be changed. (okay, so that's a little melodramatic, but seriously... how random is life sometimes?!)

That evening I opened Marcus' book and could not put it down! While I easily bought the health reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle, I was initially skeptical of his research and conclusions in the section regarding animal rights.  However, I could not easily dismiss the stories I had read of routine animal abuse and the impact that a carnivorous lifestyle has on the planet.  My curiosity was piqued. I googled veganism, and I looked up podcasts that I could listen to while running, driving, or cooking.  I had already adopted several vegan recipes, but I had not yet committed to the lifestyle as a whole. I told people that I was going vegan for "health reasons" and that I did not believe that it was wrong to eat animals.  In the end, the "Food For Thought" podcast convicted me of my blindness and convinced me that veganism was more than a dietary choice.  I learned that veganism is a lifestyle and that this lifestyle better conforms to my Christian ideals of compassion, kindness, gentleness, and enables me to be a better steward of the Earth's precious resources.

 This transformation occurred over the period of maybe a week. There was no "last dinner." Once my eyes were opened to the suffering embodied in a piece of chicken, cow, or pig, I swore I would never eat animals again, and I have never looked back.  My hubby has been supportive for the most part, but he does not yet see anything wrong with eating animals.  He has greatly diminished his consumption, and he will eat what I prepare, but he is not ready to embrace my veganism and make it his own.  It saddens me that we still have dead animals in our freezer, but in his eyes, I made a sudden, drastic, and radical decision that negatively impacts his ability to eat what he wants.  However, he is my husband, and I took an oath to love him and respect him regardless of all else, and all I can do is talk to him about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and pray that, in time, his eyes will also be opened.  

Now that I have typed a novel for my first post and y'all have a better picture of where I'm coming from, I hope this blog will serve as a place for me to share my adventures in food and also in grappling with vegan issues as they arise. Thanks for reading!