Thursday, July 31, 2008

An Even More Perfect Burger?

We needed a quick meal tonight, and since it felt nice and summery I thought burgers and fries out on the back porch sounded like a good idea. But there were a few snags. First, I only had half a block of tempeh. And no bread crumbs. And no soy sauce. So I made a few substitutions and created a similar but different tempeh burger. One that may even be better than the original in that it has a more meaty texture. Try it and see what you think.

Makes 6 burgers
- 1/2 pkg tempeh, grated (boil for 10 mins first, then cool, if you don't like tempeh's taste)
- 2 vegan sausages, grated (or pulsed in a blender)
- 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1 tsp each garlic and onion powder
- 1 tsp coriander
- other spices of your choice (oregano, sage, parsley, fennel, etc.)
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp HP/A1/or BBQ sauce
- 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp vegetarian stir fry sauce
- 2-4 tbsp water

1. Mix together tempeh, sausage, wheat gluten, and spices in a bowl. Add in sauces and enough water to make a firm dough. Squish dough between your fingers for a min or so to thoroughly mix. Divide in 6 portions and shape in patties (I find thin patties work best, but you could make 4 thicker ones if you want).
2. Heat a think layer of oil in a frying pan over med-lo heat. Cook burgers for about 5 mins per side, until firm to the touch.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rosemary Tofu and Vegetables En Croute

Don't dishes sound better with some French thrown into the title? This is a dish that may be better suited for colder weather, but I needed to use up the puff pastry I made the other day. You may want to keep this in mind for Thanksgiving dinner. I also wanted to use up the potatoes, carrots, and beans from the farmer's market. I put tofu in the filling, but you could use beans instead, or both.

- 1/2 recipe puff pastry (1 sheet)
- 2 potatoes, diced
- 4-5 small carrots, sliced
- handful of yellow beans, chopped into 1/2" pieces
- 1/2 pkg extra firm tofu, small dice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp crushed rosemary
- 1 tsp sage
- 1/2 tsp marjoram
- 1/2 tsp parsley
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 3/4 cup soy milk
- 1/4 cup vegan sour cream
- soy milk for brushing

1. Place potatoes and carrots in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 8-10 mins, until potatoes are getting tender. Add beans and simmer another 5 mins. Remove from heat and drain.
2. While veggies are cooking, heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add tofu and let cook for a few mins to release some of the water. Spray tofu with oil and cook until golden. Remove from pan.
3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in pan and saute onion and garlic for 5 mins, until soft. Add tofu and vegetables and mix well. Add spices and season to taste.
4. Add flour and nutritional yeast and mix well. Add soy milk and stir well. When thickened, remove from heat. Stir in sour cream. The filling needs to completely cool before you can put it in the crust. Stick the pan in the fridge while you prep the dough.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
6. On a floured surface, roll dough into a 13" x 16" rectangle. Place cooled filling in a line down the centre (there is a lot, so heap it on). Fold sides into the middle, making sure they overlap and inch or so. Fold ends in and press down to seal.
7. Flip over onto the baking sheet (seam is now down). Seal ends by pressing down on them with a fork. Brush with soy milk. With a sharp knife, cut slits along the top every 1 inch or so.
8. Bake for 35 to 40 mins, until golden brown.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Raspberry Mango Ginger Turnovers

Because I am insane I made my own puff pasty today. It actually was not that hard. I followed this recipe (because it had pictures), subbing Earth Balance for the butter. I stopped buying puff pastry from the grocery store once the trans fat thing hit the news, and the brand they sell here still has 3.5 g of trans fat per serving. Pepperidge Farm puff pastry is trans fat free (but nowhere near fat free, of course) and is vegan. But there is something satisfying about making your own. I stood around for a good 5 minutes congratulating myself! Whatever puff pastry you use this filling will still taste awesome.

Makes 4 large turnovers
- 1 sheet of puff pastry (1/2 of the recipe posted above)
- 1 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 1/2 cup finely chopped mango
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/2 to 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- soy milk and coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Mix together raspberries and mango. Add sugar, flour, ginger, and almond extract and mix well.
2. Roll pastry sheet on a floured surface into a 12" by 12" square. Cut that into 4 equal squares. These are fairly big turnovers, so make them smaller if you want.
3. By this time, the filling will have released quite a bit of water. Strain the filling so it is not too juicy. Place 1/4 of the filling in the middle of a pastry square. Fold into a triangle and seal edges with a fork. Smooth edges with your fingers, making sure no filling can leak out. Repeat with remaining filling and pastry.
4. Place turnovers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with soy milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cut two slits in the top of each turnover.
5. Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden brown.

Monday, July 28, 2008

On Steaming Seitan

I have received many emails over the past month asking me what a steamer is, or how I steam my vegan sausages. In this case, picture is worth a thousand words.

Fettuccine Marsala

The first thing I did when I got home was pull out the pasta maker because I didn't get to play with it enough before I left for the research trip. I made a batch of Bryanna's fresh vegan pasta which turned out really well. I have learned that the secret to good eggless pasta is not to cook it too much. Once you have some pasta on hand (you can refrigerate or freeze fresh pasta), this dish is quick, easy, and tasty.

Serves two
- 3 cups cooked fettuccine
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 cremini mushroom, quartered
- 1/3 cup marsala
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup water
- salt to taste

1. Get water boiling and cook your pasta.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Saute shallots and garlic for 5 mins, until soft. Add mushrooms and cook for 4-5 mins, until beginning to soften.
3. Add marsala and sugar to the pan and cook until almost all reduced. Then add paste and water and bring to bubbling. Add more water if you want a thinner sauce. Season to taste.
4. Add cooked pasta to the pan and heat through. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Raspberry Shortcake with Blueberries

When life gives you berries, you have to make shortcake. To me it is the quintessential summer dessert. Of course, strawberry season is over so it's time to move on to raspberries and blueberries. These personal-sized shortcakes have a wonderful pinkish hue from the berries, and are nice and tender with the right amount of sweetness.

Makes 9 medium, or 12 small, shortcakes
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup cold Earth Balance margarine
- 1 cup raspberries, mashed with a fork
- 3/4 cup soy creamer (or milk)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a muffin tin.
1. Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together. Cut in margarine (or work in with your fingers) until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
2. Mix in mashed berries and milk in with a fork. Use two spoons to drop dough into 9 or 12 sections of the muffin tin. Sprinkle each with a bit of sugar. Bake for 12-15 mins. Cool on wire racks.

From here, you have a few choices. My original plan was to make vegan cream, but I had no coconut milk. So, I made the vegan clotted cream from Vegan Yum Yum. You can also serve it with soy or rice ice cream, or douse the whole thing with some non-dairy milk (still my favourite way to eat shortcake).

On Code Reds, a Good Read, and Coming Home

I am home! After a two hour delay in Toronto due to two Code Red shutdowns (read: lightning storms), I have finally returned to the northland. Ahhhh. The weather is a nice change from hot and humid Philadelphia, though I am sure I will miss the perks of the big city soon enough. I spent my time in the airport reading--I already had a 3 hour layover, so the additional delays just added to my pain. I purchased Tristram Stuart's The Bloodless Revolution and got through about half of it. It is a British history of vegetarianism and charts how Hinduism and contact with Asia challenged Anglo notions of food and diet. It is a fascinating look at how the clash of eastern values of non-violence and Christian ideas of dominance shaped British culture from the 1600s to modern times.

We are having a banner year for raspberries, and are even getting some wild blueberries--we would get more if some animal wasn't getting to them first. I picked some this morning and promptly made pancakes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Easy Yellow Curry Tofu and Noodles

I am heading back home to Ontario tomorrow so the cupboards here are getting a wee bit bare. I looked around at what I had and came up with this quick and easy dish. I love this picture because you can see the steam rising off of it--that's fresh food, baby!

Serves 4
- about 4 cups cooked somen noodles
- 1 pkg firm tofu, cubed
- 1 can coconut milk
- yellow curry powder to taste
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 cup frozen mixed veggies

1. Do what you have to do to cook your noodles.
2. Meanwhile, prep tofu. You can toss it in flour or cornstarch and fry in oil (like I did), or just cube it. Or cube it and fry in a lightly oiled pan until golden. Your call.
3. Heat coconut milk over medium heat in a saucepan. When bubbling, whisk in curry powder, salt and sugar. Add veggies and return to bubbling. If you are using plain tofu cubes, add them in now. Let simmer while noodles finish.
4. Rinse noodles under cold water and drain well. Place 1 cup of noodles in four bowls and top with sauce. Top with tofu cubes and enjoy!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Vegan Dad on the Road: Horizons

Tonight I ate one of the best meals of my life at Philadelphia's premier vegan restaurant, Horizons. It is so awesome to go to a place where you can eat everything on the menu, and where you don't have to quiz the server on the ingredients of every dish and how it is prepared. I emailed for a reservation and for permission to take some pics. The owner, Kate, gave me a warm welcome, and the staff was helpful and friendly. I placed my order began sipping on my drink. I was soon greeted with complimentary focaccia with fresh basil olive oil for dipping (pictured above). It was incredibly tender with a wonderfully buttery flavour.

My first course was the Golden Beet Panzanella Salad. I have to say that my favourite part of the dish was the beets--they were tender and had a very mellow flavour. The smoked tofu was also very nice. My only complaint is that the tomatoes had a bad taste and texture; I think they may have been refrigerated.
Second course: Grilled Seitan with yukon potato mash and horseradish cream. By far, this is the best seitan I have ever had. I have experimented a lot with seitan but nothing has come close to the tenderness, texture, and taste of this dish. Superb grilled flavour that was only enhanced by the horseradish cream (which is really quite mellow with a nice tang).
For dessert: saffron creme brule. Oh, baby.

Quiz Time at the Grocery Store

Do you ever feel like you are giving the cashier a produce quiz every time you check out? Such was the case when I hit the local supermarket on the weekend. Once we sorted out the basil and cilantro, it was on to the other items in my basket. First up: a portabello mushroom. "What kind of mushroom is this?," she asks. Fine. Not everyone eats a wide variety mushrooms. But, I knew we were in trouble with item #2: chanterelle mushrooms.
"Is this some kind of fruit?," she asks. Also fine. It's not like I buy these everyday either because they are a tad exotic. Lastly, these babies:
"What in the world are these?," she asks. I just stood there, blinking.
Images from Wikipedia and here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vegan Dad on the Road: Capo Giro

I finally took Claire's advice and went to Capo Giro today for some sorbetto. Oh, baby. This is by far the best dairy-free, fat free, ice cream-like dessert I have ever had. Smooth, creamy, and spectacular flavour. Kind of a weird combo here, but I went for the black fig (totally awesome) and espresso (equally awesome) flavours. It was somewhere in the 90s in the city today so this was the perfect way to end lunch. I am definitely going back before I leave Philly.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Roasted Red Pepper and Mushroom Baked Wrap

This dish is based off of a wrap I had on the weekend at a place called Marathon Grill, a wrap I thought could be much improved. The chanterelle mushrooms give a wonderful flavour and texture to the filling, and they are complemented by the smoked paprika. The cheese is entirely optional here, but it does add a bit of salty, fatty, flavour which is nice. I used Veganrella, which I have never had before and which I have to admit is rather interesting/nasty on its own. But when mixed with other flavours it really works. I also baked the wrap which begs the question: when does a wrap become a chimichanga?

Makes 2 wraps
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 large flour tortillas
- 1 portabello mushroom, sliced
- 1 roasted red pepper, skinned and sliced
- 1/2 cup chanterelle mushrooms
- water
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup roasted garlic hummus
- shredded vegan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
1. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry portabello mushrooms for 5-7 mins, until mushroom softens and begin to release its water. Add a splash of water, if needed. Add roasted pepper to the pan and fry for 2 mins.
2. Add chanterelle mushrooms and fry for 3-4 mins, until they begin to soften a bit. Add spices and season to taste, adding a splash of water to help mix all the spices into the mushrooms. Remove from heat.
3. Spread 1/2 of the hummus in a thick layer in the middle of each of the tortillas. Top with 1/2 of the mushroom mixture. Top that with as much cheese as you see fit. Wrap up, tucking in ends, and place seam side down on a baking sheet.
4. Spray each wrap lightly with oil. Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden. Let cool, then serve. You can eat it with a fork, or let it cool more and eat it with your hands.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Trying to Get my Mojo Back

Now that my conference is over I had high hopes of getting back into the kitchen and making something great. OK, maybe not great, but at least passable. Let's face it, I am pretty wiped after two solid weeks of research capped by a presentation at a conference. I was not about to reinvent the wheel (or whatever the culinary equivalent is). I had bought a jar of green curry simmering sauce at Trader Joe's for such an occasion and envisioned making a nice tofu curry. The curry itself was nothing new (really just a store-bought version of this recipe), but I thought it would be cool to serve the curry in noodle nests that would cradle the sauce and veggies. For the life of me I could not figure out how to make a noodle nest that did not look like a pile of noodles. I tried a sort of noodle braid (failure), frying some noodle (big time failure), and cooling noodles in a small bowl (not really a nest). Finally I got too hungry to experiment any more and just spooned sauce over some noodles. Tasty, but not what I was after. Not a bad picture, though.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vegan Dad on the Road: Govinda's

Just a brief post about my lunch trip today to Govinda's. I got the chicken cheese steak sandwich (or something to that effect) and a root beer. The taste was pretty good, though nothing exceptional. I certainly enjoyed the fact that it was close to where the conference was being held, but the service was really, really slow. The cooks kept screwing up peoples' orders which just made things even slower. I ate outside on a very rickety table, preferring the fresh air to the cramped quarters and rather dingy decor inside. Still, I think I will go back once more before this research trip is over just to enjoy the experience and convenience of eating at an all veggie restaurant.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Brief Hiatus

I am going to be busy over the weekend attending a conference here in Philly. I will be out to dinner with grad school colleagues and all that, so I shan't be posting for a few days. Tonight was the plenary session followed by a reception. The food was really heavy on the meat and cheese (surprise, surprise) so I spent my time drinking beer and eating garnishes. To be fair, they did have some very mediocre grilled tofu cubes and some fruit skewers. It's always hilarious to get a group of historians together--picture a bunch of ill-dressed, socially awkward, introverted nerds trying to socialize.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Vegan Dad on the Road: Sahara Grill

The archive stays open late tonight so it means I walk home from the train station in the dusky dark. The fireflies were out, which made me happy. Fireflies remind me of summers at my grandparents' place in Ohio (I guess it is too cold in Ontario for fireflies). An extra long day of research meant little was happening in the kitchen today. I did stop by the Sahara Grill today for a light lunch of pitas and hummus. It wasn't bad, but nothing special. As you can see, they pour oil over the top (not necessary) and it was more tangy than I like it. Oh well. I then went to Rittenhouse Square and relaxed in the shade before heading back to work.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Quick and Easy Maque Choux

I'm not really sure this dish can be called maque choux since many of the ingredients are missing. But, that's what makes it quick and easy, right? The basic essence of the dish is still here--creamy corn with a hot pepper bite.

- 2 cups cooked corn
- 1 heaping tbsp vegan sour cream, or vegenaise
- 1 tbsp plain soy milk
- hot sauce to taste
- sliced green onion for garnish

1. Mix all ingredients together and top with green onions.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rotini with Creamy Basil Tomato Sauce

Yesterday's jerk tempeh dish was originally going to be made with tofu, but the tofu I had bought was too crumbly for the grill. That meant I had a pack of tofu that needed to be used up soon. I also had two leftover Tofurky sausages from last week that needed to be used up as well. The end result was this dish. The sauce is really simple to make and is nice and creamy with bursts of basil flavour. Fresh basil is best, but use dried if you don't have any.

- 1 cup raw cashews
- 4 cloves of garlic
- plain soy milk
- 1/2 pkg tofu
- 1 jar marinara/pasta sauce
- 2 tsp oil
- 2 vegan Italian sausages, sliced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil (or about 2-3 tsp dried)
- salt to taste
- about 400g rotini, cooked

1. Start boiling water and cooking your pasta
2. Place cashews and garlic in a blender and pour in enough soy milk to just cover. If you have time, let sit for 5-10 mins to let the nuts soak up some of the soy milk. Blend until smooth.
3. Add tofu and blend again until smooth. Add in more soy milk if too thick. Add in 1/2 jar of pasta sauce and blend again until smooth. Set aside.
4. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat and fry sausage slices until browned. Pour in mixture from blender and remaining 1/2 jar of pasta sauce. Bring to bubbling and simmer while pasta finishes cooking. Add more soy milk if too thick. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt.
5. Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Again, add soy milk if too thick. Serve.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Grilled Jerk Tempeh and Mushrooms with Roasted Peach Salsa

I decided that since it was Sunday I had some time to do a wee bit of grilling. They don't have a propane BBQ where I am staying so I purchased some hardwood charcoal at Trader Joe's and went totally old school. The idea for the dish started with a packet of jerk seasoning I bought at the Reading Terminal Market the other day. As far as jerk seasoning goes, it is fairly mild. I thought it would taste good with tempeh and so I began constructing what was in my mind was a terrine-like dish. In the final analysis, I don't think it works as a coherent dish, but all the different elements of the dish are tasty (I particularly like the roasted peaches). I am posting the recipe and you can do with it what you want. Instead of tempeh on the top and bottom I think it would work better to pile everything on a slice of tempeh.

- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp jerk seasoning (or to taste)

- 1 pkg tempeh, cut in half vertically and horizontally
- 1 portabello mushroom

- 1/2 red pepper
- 1/2 cup (frozen) corn
- 1 large peach peeled and halved
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup chickpeas
- 1/2 tsp jerk seasoning
- 1/4 tsp salt
- splash of oil

1. Combine ingredients for the marinade and marinate tempeh and mushroom for a few hours. Steam or boil the tempeh first if you think it has a "taste."
2. Make 2 rectangular containers out of heavy duty foil. Place corn in one. Toss chickpeas with spices and oil and place in another. Wrap peach in foil.
3. Start roasting the red pepper (BBQ should be nice and hot). When skin in blackened, remove from grill and place in a bowl. Cover with a lid and let steam.
4. Place corn and chickpea foil containers on med-hi grill (stir every min or so to keep stuff from sticking). Place peach on the grill, turning every few mins. Grill tempeh and mushrooms, basting with extra marinade, until done. Mushrooms should have released some water, tempeh should be golden, as should corn and chickpeas.
5. Remove skin from roasted pepper. Chop pepper and peach, and mix with roasted corn. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Mash chickpeas with a fork (add splash of water, if needed). Slice mushroom.
7. Put a tempeh slice on a plate. Top with mashed chickpeas and mushroom slices. Top with another tempeh slice (if you want) and peach salsa.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Strawberry Peach Mini Strudels

Tonight's meal was actually leftovers from a great veggie Chinese place on Sansom Street. So I thought I would share these strudels I made before I left for my trip. I went a little crazy with my new pasta roller and made my own phyllo from this recipe, but you most certainly can use the store bought variety. The filling was made with fresh local berries that made it all the more tasty.

Makes 4 strudels
- 6 x 8" squares phyllo dough, 4 layers thick (you might want to use 5 if using store bought)
- melted margarine (about 1/4 cup)
- cinnamon and sugar
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
- 1 peach, chopped
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp flour
- icing sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
1. Mix together sliced berries, peach, sugar, lemon juice, spices and flour in bowl. Set aside.
2. Brush a sheet of phyllo with margarine and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Lay another sheet on top and brush with margarine. Top with another sheet, brush with margarine and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Top with another sheet of phyllo.
3. Place 1/4 of the filling just off center, along the 8" side, leaving some space on either end. Roll up, not too tightly, placing seam side down. Fold up ends and pinch to close. Repeat with remaining filling and dough.
4. Brush each strudel with margarine and cut 3 slits in each. Bake for 30 to 35 mins, or until golden brown.
5. Let cool on a wire rack, then dust with icing sugar.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Vegan Reuben Sandwich

I enjoyed yesterday's reuben sandwich so much I decided to try my hand at making my own. Fantastic success! The vegan corned beef turned out far better than expected. But first, I had to find out exactly what corned beef is. How can corn be an adjective? As it turns out, the corn in this case refers to the large grain salt used to cure beef brisket. The whole process takes about 10 days. Well, this version takes only one hour and tastes fabulous. The key is the seasoned salt and the smoked paprika. If you don't have smoked paprika, use regular paprika and add a few drops of liquid smoke.

Vegan Corned Beef
- 1/2 cup chickpeas
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp dried mustard
- 4 dried juniper berries, crushed into powder (optional)
- 1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten

Get water on its way to steaming in your steamer
1. Place chickpeas in a food processor and process until smooth. Add everything else except the wheat gluten and process.
2. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the wheat gluten with a fork. Knead for a minute or so to get everything mixed.
3. Shape into a rectangle (about 8" x 5") and wrap in foil. Double fold the seams so the seitan will steam properly.
4. Steam for 45-60 mins. The seitan must swell against the foil, so make sure that happens before you remove it from the steamer.
5. Let cool and bit, then thinly slice for the sandwich.

Vegan Reuben Sandwich
- thinly sliced vegan corned beef
- sauerkraut, squeezed dry
- Thousand Island dressing (1/4 cup Vegenaise, 1 tbsp ketchup, 2 tbsp relish or minced pickle)
- vegan cheese (optional)
- light rye bread
- vegan margarine

1. "Butter" two slices of bread (like you are doing a grilled cheese sandwich). Slather some dressing on a piece of bread and top with corned beef. Top that with some sauerkraut and cheese (if using). Top with more corned beef, dressing, and the top piece of bread.
2. Cook for a few mins per side on a griddle until nicely browned.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Vegan Dad on the Road: The Belgian Cafe

They say that the internet is isolating us under the guise of bringing us together; that we have traded face-to-face friendships for cyber relationships. Today I proved that theory wrong. I went out to dinner with two of my blog readers, Claire and Justin, who live in Philadelphia. They suggested we hit The Belgian Cafe for vegan wings and beer. Good call. We enjoyed a bunch of laughs, cheap $3 pints, and some mighty good food. We started with the stuffed tofu (pictured above), which isn't so much stuffed as sliced with stuff in the middle. The tofu was stuffed with Spaten Optimator (what is that? It sounds like a Transformer), cherries, cashews, cilantro and garlic, and was served with garlicky sesame spinach. We also got the pomme frites (read: French fries) served with a smoky ketchup and vegan aioli.
And, as promised, the vegan wings (not bad, but I actually prefer mine).
Justin ordered the vegan burger, which seemed to be lentil-based but no overly mushy.
Claire got the gazpacho and salad.
I settled on the vegan Reuben because it has always struck me as a weird sandwich. Although I think they doused the bread in oil before toasting it, it was very tasty indeed. I will have to look up Isa'a recipe when I get home. It came with a salad of greens and beans. Nothing special but a nice balsamic dressing.

All in all, a great time was had by all! Thanks, Claire and Justin!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Maple Dijon Brussels Sprouts

I like Brussels sprouts. There. I said it. I don't know why they get such a bad rap. They are tasty, look funky, and add green to your meal. Even if you don't like them you really should try this tasty recipe.

- 15 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 2 tbsp margarine
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp maple syrup

1. Steam Brussels sprouts for 5 mins while you heat the margarine over medium-lo heat in a frying pan. Add sprouts, cut side down, and cook for about 5 mins, until browned.
2. Add mustard and syrup and a splash of water if too dry. Serve.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tangy Bean and Fruit Burritos

I went for a variation of yesterday's fruit theme for tonight's dinner. I love the tangy zing of tomatillos, and combined them with mango and peach. Pinto beans help mellow out the fruit, and the spices round out the flavours. This is a simple recipe and is packed with all sorts of summery goodness.

Makes 4 large burritos
- 1 tsp oil
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 tomatillos, chopped
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 mango, peeled and chopped
- 1 peach, skinned and chopped
- water

1. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook onions for 5 mins, until soft. Add garlic and tomatillos to the pan with a splash of water. Cook for 7-10 mins, until tomatillos cook down and begin to form a thick sauce. Add spices and mix well.
2. Add beans and mango and cook for 5 mins. Add water, if needed. Add peach and cook for 1 min.
3. Wrap in warmed flour tortillas. Serve with guacamole and sour cream, if desired.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Papaya Relish

After a commute to Philadelphia and back, and after a day of looking at books from the 1700s, I was pretty tired. I decided to go with a Tofurky sausage since it was quick and easy. But as I was getting them out of the fridge my eye caught the papayas I had bought. Why not jazz up the sausage and make life more exciting? I have called this a relish, but it could be considered a salsa of sorts. Whatever you want to call it, it brings a sweet and fruity tang to sausages, or anything else you might like to put it on. I think mango would work just as well in this recipe, so I am adding it to the recipe.

- 1 tsp oil
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced
- 1 small papaya (or mango), peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch cayenne
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced

1. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry onion for 5 mins, until soft and translucent. Do not brown.
2. Add papaya to the pan and fry for 3-4 mins. It should darken and bit and begin to release some juice. Add vinegar to the pan and let it reduce right down (about 2 mins).
3. Add water and sugar to the pan and mix well. The water should cook off, but if it seems too dry, add another tbsp. Let relish cook and thicken.
4. Add spices and adjust seasonings to taste. Remove from heat and stir in green onions. Let cool a bit and serve. Store leftovers in the fridge.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Teriyaki Tofu with Somen Noodles

Kind of a lame pic today I am sorry to say. I am settling in here in Philly (actually, I am in Cherry Hill, NJ with friends) and am trying to get back into the groove and hit my culinary stride. I miss my well stocked pantry, and my many kitchen utensils and gadgets. I am sharing a small kitchen and I am cooking for one. I feel all out of whack. On the plus side, I can shop at Trader Joe's once again. Oh, Joe, how I have missed you. Tonight I went for a balanced one plate meal. Nothing special, but still tasty.

- cooked somen noodles
- 1 pkg firm tofu, diced
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 2-3 handfuls frozen green and yellow beans
- 1 mini bok choy, sliced
- 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over med-hi heat. Toss tofu in flour and fry for 5-7 mins, turning regularly, until golden. Remove and drain.
2. Add a splash more oil to the pan, if needed. Add green pepper and fry for 3-4 mins, until softened. Add beans and bok choy and fry for 2 mins. Add in sauces and water and bring to bubbling. Let thicken a bit.
3. Add cooked noodles to the pan and mix well. Add tofu and mix well. Add more sauce if it looks too dry. Top with green onions and serve.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mango and Black Bean Salad

Spending the day either in an airport or on a plane has left little time to create in the kitchen. So, it's time to start cleaning out my backlog of recipes. My mom made this salad for us on the Canada Day weekend from a recipe she copied from "some magazine." So, apologies to whatever magazine it was.

- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup diced red or sweet onion
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 mango, peeled and chopped (or more if you really dig mangoes)
- salad dressing (this was served with a raspberry vinaigrette, but I think a strawberry dressing would be good as well (see below))
- chopped cilantro for garnish

1. Mix beans, onion, pepper, and mango in a bowl. Toss with dressing and garnish with cilantro. Tastes even better if you let it sit in the fridge for a while.

- 6 strawberries, 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, pinch of sea salt blended in a blender

Friday, July 4, 2008

Strawberries and Cream

I am off to Philadelphia tomorrow for three weeks so I don't have much time to post tonight. I am sad to leave the family behind, but there just is not enough money in my research budget to take everyone along. I will be staying with friends and cooking for myself (and maybe them as well), so I will still be blogging. Philadelphia should have a lot to offer a vegan, so I hope I don't get spoiled. Tonight's post is a decadent dessert, but since fresh strawberries only come around for a few weeks every year, why not treat yourself?

- 1 can coconut milk
- fruit sugar
- vanilla
- fresh strawberries

1. Place coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours to let the cream rise to the top. A can of low fat coconut milk will yield about 1/3 cup of cream. If you need more, get a can of high fat coconut milk.
2. Remove can from fridge and open top with a can opener. Scoop out cream into a bowl and discard the watery stuff left behind. For every 1/3 cup (or so) of cream, whisk in a generous tbsp of sugar and a few drops of vanilla. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve over berries.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hickory Smoked Tofu Steaks

Yet even more BBQ goodness for those planning to grill this weekend. I bought some smoking chips and thought they would enhance the flavour of some marinated tofu steaks. Indeed they did.

- 1 pkg extra firm tofu, frozen, thawed, pressed, and cut into thick slices
- 1/4 cup HP or A1 steak sauce
- 1/4 cup vegetarian stir fry sauce
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- few drops sesame oil
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp water
- smoking wood chips (optional)

1. Combine all ingredients in a shallow dish and marinate tofu slices for 30 mins or more.
2. Preheat grill with smoking chips (see instructions on bag) to about 500 degrees.
3. Oil grill and cook tofu 4-5 mins per side, flipping 4 times to get those nice criss cross grill lines, and basting with extra marinade.
4. Serve slathered with HP or A1 sauce.

Sweet and Sticky BBQ Skewers

While I was visiting family for the Canada Day weekend I made these skewers and thought I would post them for those south of the border about to relax for the long weekend. These work best went cooked on a perforated BBQ grate, like the one pictured here.

- 1 recipe of wingz, cut into chunks

Preheat BBQ to about 400 degrees. Oil grill.
1. Thread seitan chunks on skewers and lightly spray with oil.
2. Cook skewers about 3 mins per side to let them brown up. Then begin basting with BBQ sauce. Rotate and baste skewers every 3-4 mins. Be careful that they don't burn or dry out. They should cook for about 20 mins.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fettuccine with Maple Balsamic Portabello Mushrooms

Tried to go for something a bit more snazzy tonight for the ol' birthday dinner. Fresh fettuccine pasta with a simple garlicky tomato sauce and slices of sweet portabello mushrooms. Of course a thunderstorm snuck up right at dinner and ruined the lighting for the photo. Thanks a lot, nature! The recipe here is for one serving so you can increase it for the number of people you are feeding

Makes 1 serving. Increase as needed.
- 1 potabello mushroom, thickly sliced
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar + 1 tbsp
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 large tomato, diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- parsley for garnish
- cooked fettuccine pasta

1. Whisk together 2 tbsp of the vinegar, oil, and maple syrup in a bowl. Add mushroom slices and toss. Marinate mushrooms for 30 mins.
2. Get pasta cooking. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add mushroom slices and cook for 5 mins, turning regularly, until slices are soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Add garlic to the pan (adding a touch of oil if needed) and cook for 1 min. Add tomatoes and cook for 2-3 mins, until tomatoes begin to create a bit of a sauce. Add additional vinegar and salt and pepper. Stir well.
4. Toss tomato mixture with the drained pasta and put in a bowl. Fan portabello slices in top, garnish, and serve.

Fresh Pasta

Today is my 33rd birthday. My gift was the pasta roller/cutter attachment for my KitchenAid mixer that I have been eyeing for quite a while (next purchase: ice cream maker). Booya! I have really missed fresh pasta since it always contains eggs. I veganized the recipe that came with the roller and the results were pretty good. As you can see, the dough held up very well--even with the thin spaghetti. The cooked final product was a tad mushy, I thought, so I want to play with it before I post it. I also see that Bryanna has a pasta recipe so I should probably try that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day!

Ah, Canada Day. 1 July 1867: that great day when the British North America Act was signed, establishing an independent Parliament for Canada. Well, independent in the sense that Canada was still part of the British Commonwealth. And the Queen of England was still the head of state. And the Governor General was the royal representative in Canada. With Americans trying to reconstruct their country after the Civil War, Canadians adhered to the principles "peace, order, and good government." Makes your pulse quicken, doesn't it?