January 31, 2008

Broccoli Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

Posted in dinner, soup, the Challenge at 8:58 pm by veganalects

My internet was down for a couple days, so I have some posts to make up. Don’t worry, I’ll keep them brief. I made this soup from VeganYumYum when I wanted vegetable soup that was hearty and filling. We all liked it a lot because it has lentils and soymilk, so it sticks your ribs. All it requires is a slice of crusty bread for sopping up the bowl.

What really makes the soup, though, is the roasted red pepper coulis (forgive the psychedelic pattern). Roasting peppers over a gas stove is so much fun. It might make your kitchen smell weird, but trust me, it’s worth it. The maple syrup and the tahini in the coulis complement each other well, and the sweetness of the whole thing contrasts nicely with the savory soup. I recommend making crazy shapes out of the coulis. Faces would be good.

Quick Update: An Omnivore’s Opinion

Posted in dessert, dinner, tofu, Veganomicon at 8:09 pm by veganalects

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 29, 2008

Oops, I made brunch.

Posted in brunch, tofu, VwaV at 3:18 am by veganalects

I said I was switching to dinners again—and I have—but one of my best friends just came back from El Salvador last night, so of course we had to see each other immediately. And of course brunch had to be involved. As the vegan brunch pickings are pretty slim in my ten mile radius, it looked like cooking was in the cards.

I wanted to test out the Sour Cream Pancakes recipe again to verify the proportions, but it I was also craving something salty. I love a good tofu scramble and I was feeling rather lazy. My friend and I (well, more she than I) made the Scrambled Tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance and ate it in style—with a tablecloth and everything. We both liked it a lot. (And isn’t that some foxy grated carrot?) It’s nice to have a good tofu scramble in my repertoire.

And for the record—the pancakes were just as good this time around.

January 28, 2008

Kid Tested, Mother (and Father) Approved

Posted in dinner, pasta, the Challenge at 4:26 am by veganalects

No, not Kix. (Though I do love my Kix.) I’m talking about vegan mac and cheese.

I was very pleased with the recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen, and while I’ve been meaning to try other recipes, I always just feel like making that one. It’s quick, simple, and so good. So when I promised to make lunch today and realized that the cupboard was rather bare, it seemed a divine signal to see how my parents reacted to cheeseless mac and cheese.

Thumbs up! They both had seconds and my dad almost went for thirds. True, that may have had something to do with how long I kept them waiting for it, but I think they liked it, too.

Tomorrow: back to making actual dinners.

January 26, 2008

Sour Cream Silver Dollar Pancakes

Posted in brunch, recipe, the Challenge at 7:50 pm by veganalects

There are two schools of thought when it comes to pancakes. Some prefer sweet batter; some prefer neutral or slightly savory batter. I am a card-carrying member of the Savory Pancake Society, and I can debate passionately about sugarless pancakes’ superiority over their sweetened counterparts. In my book, sweet batter + maple syrup = too sugary. I like the sweet-salty contrast and I like to let the syrup speak for itself. But it’s really just a matter of taste, and no debating can change that. If you share my taste in pancakes, read on. (Or just skip to the recipe and make it immediately.)

What with all the pancakes sprouting up on vegan blogs these days, I could no longer resist making some of my own. I skipped my standard pancake recipe in favor of one I’ve been curious about for a couple years now: the Sour Cream Pancakes in the 1961 New York Times Cook Book. I don’t know why I didn’t make these sooner, but sometimes things need to lie dormant in my mind for a few years before I get around to doing them.

I used Tofutti sour cream for this (I almost got adventurous and used my leftover cilantro sour cream before I realized it has roasted garlic in it—not what I want in my pancakes). Homemade sour cream would probably work too, but I can’t vouch for it. I’ll have to try it out and let you know how it goes. Obviously I veganized this recipe, but I also altered it by adding a significant amount of soy creamer to improve the consistency. I’ll include my version here.

But I’m getting off track. Here’s the verdict: these were great! To return to my sweet vs. savory rant, I loved the slightly salty, slightly sour notes that come from the sour cream. For obvious reasons, these pancakes are also creamier and smoother than most. Their only downside is that the batter is a funny consistency and takes a little bit of coaxing into shape. But that’s really not hard. I made silver dollar pancakes because they’re easier in my pan, but I’m sure bigger ones would work well too.

Sour Cream Pancakes
adapted from the NY Times Cook Book
makes 14 silver dollar pancakes

1 cup flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 ¼ cups vegan sour cream (homemade or Tofutti, as long as it doesn’t have things that would be gross in pancakes)
1 Ener-G egg replacement
½ cup + 2 Tbs soy creamer (soymilk also works)

1. In a large mixing bowl, sift or mix together flour, salt, and baking soda.

2. In a small mixing bowl, combine sour cream, Ener-G egg, and soy creamer. Pour into the flour mixture and stir gently until just mixed. Do not beat.

3. Heat a griddle or skillet (do yourself a favor and use non-stick if you have it), grease lightly if necessary, and drop the batter by ¼ cupfuls onto it, spreading carefully into ¼ inch-thick circles. When bubbles break on top of the pancakes, check the underside with a spatula. If it’s golden brown, flip and cook on the other side until that’s golden brown as well.

January 25, 2008

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Posted in baking, cupcakes, dessert, the Challenge, VCTOTW at 8:29 pm by veganalects

Ever since I got Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World back all I want to do is bake hand-held desserts by the dozen. After the green tea cupcakes, the apple mango crisp, and the almond scones, the time was ripe for something chocolatey.

I’ve made the Basic Chocolate Cupcake from VCTOTW a handful of times, so I was looking for something new. Why not continue the Cupcakes Baked With Beverages theme and make something with chocolate and beer? Now there’s a winning combination. No Guinness in these stout cupcakes, though—Guinness is refined with isinglass, from fish swimbladders. I used Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, but there are a number of other vegan stouts[Edit: I should clarify that these do come from a recipe in VCTOTW.]

Despite my absentminded errors—I accidentally added the beer to the dry ingredients instead of the wet, I forgot to top the cupcakes with the chocolate crumble till they’d been in the oven eight minutes—these came out quite well. I like them better than the Basic Chocolate Cupcake; the stout makes them richer and even more chocolatey-tasting somehow. They’re a little on the muffiny side (although that might be due to my bungling the directions), but that doesn’t diminish them for me at all. How can twelve cupcakes seem like so few?

Mango Lassi Test Lab #2

Posted in beverages, dessert, recipe, the Challenge at 7:19 pm by veganalects

Oh, the elusive mango lassi. As I mentioned in my last post about it, mango lassi is one of the few things I really miss from my pre-vegan days. The obvious solution to my craving is to concoct a vegan version, but I have yet to find the perfect recipe. My last attempt was too yogurty; this one was closer, but still not flawless.

Part of the reason this recipe is hard to pin down is that I’m using fresh (and therefore unpredictable) mangos. This mango was less sweet and flavorful than the last, so it caught me off guard. Even though this time I used only half the yogurt I did last time, because of the mango’s inferior flavor, it was still slightly too yogurty. I also had to increase the sugar. I may try using mango pulp, but I’d really prefer to use fresh fruit if I can. And maybe changing soy yogurt brands would help—I like WholeSoy better than Silk anyway.

This recipe is better than the last one, but if you decide to use it you may need to adjust the sugar based on your mango and your taste. I dusted this one with cardamom, which I don’t think is standard but is definitely scrumptious.

Better Mango Lassi
makes a scant two

medium mango
3/4 cup plain soy yogurt (or less)
4 large ice cubes
1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon rosewater
cardamom, optional

Peel, pit, and dice the mango. Blend all ingredient in a blender (food processor is also fine). Dust with cardamom and garnish with mint if desired.

This is Dinner?

Posted in dinner, salad, the Challenge, Veganomicon at 12:33 am by veganalects

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.

pic.jpgIt 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 24, 2008

Almond Scones

Posted in baking, brunch, the Challenge, VwaV at 7:05 pm by veganalects

I’d been planning to make the Hazelnut Scones from Vegan with a Vengeance for a while. I finally got it together and settled down to make them when I discovered, mid-recipe, that I didn’t have enough hazelnuts. Horror of horrors! I had my heart set on these particular scones and I’d already started brewing the coffee for them, so I raced to the closest grocery store for more. No dice. Are hazelnuts some kind of specialty item? Why could I find eleven glazes of roasted peanut but not one measly hazelnut?

In any case, I was determined to make scones, and I noticed we had slivered almonds on hand. I decided to adapt the standard scone recipe in VwaV slightly. I made a half recipe and added one tablespoon of sugar, 3/4 cup of almonds, and 1/2 teaspoon each of vanilla and almond extract.  I also sprinkled them with a few almonds and turbinado sugar before putting them in the oven.

They were quite tasty. I could have added a little more almond extract, but other than that I wouldn’t change anything. I had reduced the recipe because I thought sixteen scones for three people seemed a little excessive. But the nine scones I made disappeared in a day and a half. So I’ve learned three valuable lessons:

1. Make sure you have enough of everything before you start cooking.
2. If you run out of something, improvise something else yummy.
3. You can never have too many scones. In fact, you should make some more this weekend. With hazelnuts this time.

January 23, 2008

Sweet and Sour Seitan

Posted in dinner, seitan, the Challenge at 1:37 am by veganalects

As soon as Lolo posted the Sweet and Sour Seitan on VeganYumYum, I knew I had to make it. I followed its progress from seitan to tofu, from sauce #1 to new-and-improved sauce #2. That was ten months ago, and I finally got around to it…tonight. I would have made it earlier, but my mom doesn’t like sweet and sour sauce. So I bided my time until she had other dinner plans, stocking up on seasoned rice vinegar and slivered almonds in the meantime.

It was definitely worth the wait for me. The last time I cooked seitan (also my first), I lamented that I didn’t know how to make it crispy. I considered using tofu in this dish, but I thought the savoriness and (dare I say it?) meatiness of seitan would provide a better contrast with the sweetness of the sauce. I didn’t have to wait long before I found this method of cooking seitan, which gives it a perfect crispy taste and texture. Lolo simply coats it in Ener-G Egg Replacer and cornstarch and pan-fries it in lots of peanut oil. Not the healthiest way to cook seitan, sure, but probably the most delicious. I’ll be cooking it this way in other dishes, too. And the sauce, for those who like sweet and sour sauce, is equally delectable.

If only I hadn’t overcooked the broccoli. Yuck.

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