February 17, 2008
I was hoping to make these lemon bars from Veganomicon before I came back to school, but life (and packing) took over and I never got the chance. When I got here one of my (omnivorous) friends raved about them to me. That was all the motivation I needed to make them.
I had never made anything with either agar flakes or arrowroot before. Thickeners are crazy! The bars weren’t hard to make, but I wasn’t sure whether I was handling the thickeners properly. A word of advice: don’t get boiling agar on your hands. Not only will it burn, it will stick to you most persistently. Eventually everything mixed smoothly and I filled the crust and set the bars out to cool.
Having had a half dozen tasters for these, I can say confidently that they’re a hit. Whatever reservations my friends had about the lemon bars’ radioactive hue (hard to detect in this picture) disappeared after the first bite. Want testimonials? “Oh my god, I’m majoring in lemon bar eating.” Fact: making these lemon bars has been proven to increase your popularity by at least 46%.
That said, I should point out that their texture is different from that of the lemon bars I used to eat. The agar makes it quite gelatinous, smooth, and firm (“like a petri dish,” said the lemon bar majorer, and with good reason: most petri dishes are made of agar). The lemon bars I remember from my pre-vegan days were basically thick lemon custard over shortbread. I might try to recreate them someday. Please don’t let that turn you off, though—the only reason we have one lemon bar left is that I’m saving it for the friend who recommended them.
February 1, 2008
Okay, I must admit that this is a meal of ambiguous origins. The corn pudding is southwestern, the collard greens are southern, and the hot seitan “wings” are…from Buffalo? It’s not really a Buffalo wings kind of sauce, though. One thing I’m sure of: it all came from my kitchen.
The Veganomicon Southwestern Corn Pudding caught my eye when I saw it on Vegan Dad. I just wasn’t sure what to make it with. The pudding looked like a bit of work, so I wanted one salty/filling thing and one green thing to go with it that wouldn’t be too labor-intensive.
I settled on seitan for the salty/filling component and collard greens for the green component (you can only eat so much spinach and kale, after all). The former I marinated in the Hot Sauce from Veganomicon‘s Hot Sauce-Glazed Tempeh. (I could have just coated the seitan in Frank’s Red Hot—I practically drink that stuff by the gallon—but I could only find generic! I bought it and it’s just not the same.) Then I coated it in Ener-G Egg Replacer and cornstarch and pan-fried it (a trick I learned from VeganYumYum), topping with more marinade. I used the leftover hot sauce, garlic, and a few drops of liquid smoke to sauté the collards. I’d never cooked collard greens before and I think I could have left them in the pan a little longer. How tender are they supposed to get?
The seitan and the greens were good, but the star of this meal was clearly the corn pudding. It’s not very photogenic, but don’t let that fool you. It’s full of different colors, flavors, and textures. It’s creamy from the coconut milk; it’s crunchy from the corn and red pepper. It’s yellow from the corn (duh), but it’s flecked with red and green from the pepper, scallions, and cilantro. It’s a little sweet and a little salty but mostly just good. Yeah, it’s not the fastest recipe, but I thought it warranted a late dinner. If you like corn—or if you miss summer—make this pudding.
January 31, 2008
A couple nights ago a family friend came over for dinner who seemed a bit leery of vegan food. I decided to recycle two of our favorite recipes that I’ve posted about before—no experimenting when doubting omnivores come to dinner. Sure, my dad’s an omnivore, but he’s related to me, so it’s no disaster if I make him something less than dazzling. I made VeganYumYum‘s Pan-Fried Tofu, Kale, and Stir-Fried Noodles and Veganomicon‘s Tea Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce for dessert.
These recipes worked before and they didn’t fail me this time, either. I may not have dispelled the idea that vegans subsist on tofu, but I hope I at least demonstrated that we eat good tofu. Our friend seemed to like both components of the meal; he’s not the type to gush, but he did compliment. Good enough for me.
January 25, 2008
Well, yes. This is part of dinner. This is also the bottom of a celeriac, or celery root.
Lolo’s post about celeriac and Celery Rémoulade on VeganYumYum intrigued me, but I had forgotten about making it until I stumbled upon this beauty sitting next to the broccoli. Lolo tells you everything you might want to know about celeriac and I don’t have much to add. I’ll just tell you how my attempt to make this French side dish went.
It tasted good, but it didn’t come out quite right. We lost the shredding attachment for our blender, so the texture was a bit off, for one thing. But the main problem was the dressing-to-celeriac ratio. I don’t know if it was that the celery was diced too small or that I had a particularly small celeriac, but my rémoulade resembled rice pudding (as you can see). It was fine over baby greens—and even better on Swedish crisp bread—but it would have been too saucy on its own.
Part 2 of dinner was similarly tasty-but-imperfect. I tried to make the Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes from Veganomicon; in my rush to get dinner on the table, however (I had two hungry parents sniffing around the kitchen), I broke the potato skins. So they became inelegant (but certainly not inedible) Samosa Mashed Potatoes. Kind of an odd combination, my slightly mangled French and Indian dishes, but I enjoyed them both anyway.
January 22, 2008
Our house is freezing. We’re always complaining about it and sitting about shivering, but we don’t want to turn up the heat and we can’t keep piling on the sweaters. The only solution seems to be consuming hot liquids in large quantities.
Thus we’ve been having soup and tea by the gallons. And what better winter comfort food than chicken noodle soup? I can think of one: chickpea noodle soup, from (surprise surprise) Veganomicon. It’s got the usual suspects, like carrot and onion, but also includes soba (Japanese buckwheat) noodles and miso paste. (Plus I added some kale—it’s hard for me to resist putting leafy greens in everything.) It’s exactly what we wanted it to be, though, and tastes down-home and simple. One of the things I really like about the recipe is that it has the flavor of celery from celery seed, but doesn’t have actual celery, whose texture I’m not crazy about. My mom especially loved this one.
Speaking of my mom, look at the apple mango crisp she made! She made a vegan adaptation of the Apple Crisp from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, our tried-and-true vegetarian starter book. We didn’t have enough apples so she added mango. Doesn’t it look crispy and delicious?
January 18, 2008
After all the soups and pastas we’ve been eating of late, I decided it was time for good old-fashioned burgers and fries. Or burgers and fries made over into black bean burgers and roasted potatoes. I don’t know about you, but I usually prefer black bean burgers to run-of-the-mill veggie burgers.
The BBBs were another Veganomicon recipe and I served them with the Cilantro Sour Cream they recommend. I could pretty much eat cilantro in every dish, and my mom’s the same way. (Has anyone made cilantro ice cream? I mean, it worked for mint.) The sour cream recipe calls for non-vacuum packed silken tofu, but I could only find the vacuum packed, and it worked fine. Yum! I thought the sour cream made this dish—the burgers are nice, but they’re pretty plain (as they’re supposed to be) and without a condiment they might have been too dry. Since I hate ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and relish, sour cream seemed like an appealing option. The combination of lime juice and agave gives it the necessary sour cream tang.
I should state that as with Mac and Cheese, burgers were never something I liked or ate as an omnivore. But does anyone expect BBBs to replace GBBs (ground beef burgers)? They’re just a casual, fun, unseasonally backyard-barbeque-ish meal.
January 17, 2008
Since having the Tofu, Noodles, and Kale from VeganYumYum—possibly our favorite dish so far—I’ve been wanting to make more stuff with kale (that’s kale looking pretty in the background). You can never have too many leafy greens, right? So for my next kale recipe, I went back to VeganYumYum and made Lolo’s version of Creamy Kale Soup. Not only is it full of leafy greens, it also has quinoa. Isn’t quinoa supposed to be the best grain ever or something?
In any case, this soup was just what we needed on a cold January night. The quinoa and lentils give it body and the tahini (that’s what you see drizzled over the soup) makes it creamy. Plus it’s another easy recipe. (Do I ever make hard recipes?)
I could eat bread and soup every day, but my dad wanted something to supplement our liquid meal. I flipped through Veganomicon and arbitrarily chose the Corn and Edamame-Sesame Salad from all the mouthwatering salads in there. While it’s really more of a summer salad, being chilled and corn-y, it was another simple and scrumptious dish.
You might think I’m uncritical—not a dud yet—but my previously-skeptical parents assure me they’ll let me know if I make a misstep. The food is all so good because I know where to find my recipes!
January 15, 2008
Five dinners, including one dessert; one batch of baking; a mango lassi. All I had left to complete the week’s Challenge was a breakfast or brunch. I decided to make the Lemon-Corn Waffles (sans blueberry syrup) from Vegan With a Vengeance and Diner Home Fries from Veganomicon. (Is it any wonder I had a dream about Isa Chandra Moskowitz?)
Hoping to keep the morning as stress-free as possible, I decided to follow Isa Chandra’s advice and make the waffles the night before, to be reheated the following morning. I dug our twenty-year-old waffle iron out of the basement—literally prying it off the shelf on which it has sat for the last decade—and hoped I could figure out how to use it without the manufacturer’s instructions. No suck luck; when I opened the waffle iron there was no waffle, just a burned skin sticking to both faces. So I made pancakes.
Despite the stack of pancakes all ready in the fridge, the next morning was pretty frantic. I accidentally overboiled the potatoes, so my dad and I did careful surgery on them by frying them on high heat and carefully turning over each potato. Miraculously, it worked. The Diner Home Fries live up to their name, the pancakes are tasty even without the blueberry syrup, and we had a great brunch with good friends and good food. I still want waffles, though, so maybe I’ll see what I can do about reseasoning that waffle iron.
January 13, 2008
Two nights ago we had some friends over for my dad’s birthday dinner. My mom made my favorite dish of all time, chickpea curry (I’ll post the recipe sometime), and I was responsible for dessert. Dessert is really the battle ground for veganism. A lot of people can’t imagine what we eat for dessert; they think of vegans as sallow, emaciated, dour sorts of people, eating our alfalfa sprouts in self-righteous silence. Not that our friends are the sort of people who think that, but still, many omnivores and even vegetarians can’t imagine dessert without dairy.
So I knew I had to make something good. Not just good, like pie good, but decadent. Chocolatey, perhaps. But not just decadent-chocolatey, like brownies decadent-chocolatey; it had to be sophisticated. I turned to trusty Veganomicon and found what I was looking for. What says “decadent, chocolatey, and sophisticated” better than tea-poached pears in chocolate sauce? With ice cream on the side, garnished with mint?
Lacking an ice-cream maker and time, I decided to use vanilla Tofutti ice cream. Of the brands I’ve tried, Tofutti is my favorite, and I’ve found that dairy-eaters tend to like it, too. Still, vegan ice cream is a bit of a gamble, so we just gave everyone a dollop.
The recipe is really pretty easy to make. Since we had ten people, I made a double-and-a-half recipe, and the only labor-intensive step was peeling and coring the ten pears. If you make a normal recipe, you only have to do four. The bruises on the pears also disappear once you poach them.
And…it was a big hit. The pears and even the ice cream fetched a lot of compliments, but the real praise came in the eating. Almost everyone had seconds on both, and we ended up with a stack full of scraped plates. What little leftovers we had were gone by the next afternoon. Score one for veganism!
January 10, 2008
Yet another Veganomicon hit. If you don’t have this cookbook, go buy it! Last night I made this pasta with the yummy basil-cilantro pesto they recommend. The only change I made to the recipe was to double the amount of pasta to a pound—half a pound isn’t quite enough for the three of us. I would have made more pesto but I didn’t have enough basil. It was fine the way it was, though.
After we finished our meal, my parents confessed that they’d been pleasantly surprised by the food so far. (Clearly they had expected me to serve them boiled sawdust.) I hope to change more minds tomorrow—we’re celebrating my dad’s birthday, and I’m planning to make the Tea-Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce from you-know-what-cookbook.