March 2, 2008

Dinner Party!

Posted in dinner, pasta, tofu at 7:13 am by veganalects

Oh yeah. An all-vegan dinner party. Whose chefs, with the exception of me, are not vegan. Aren’t my friends great?

What was most impressive about this dinner party was not its veganness, however—that accomplishment may have impressed my lacto-ovo and omni friends, but most of you know that’s no problem. The feat lay in cooking all our dishes in a tiny, dirty dorm kitchen with a stove that only has the strength to heat two burners at a time, a considerable shortage of pots and utensils, an oversensitive fire alarm, and a handful of neighbors trying to make their own dinners. Sure, I broke my blender. Sure, we had to waft smoke out the windows with plastic bags. But the food was excellent. And for managing as successfully as we did despite the circumstances, I am particularly proud of us.

On to the fare. What you see above is a vegetable stir fry with fried tofu and a most delectable peanut sauce (not pictured). I’m not responsible for any of that, although I did graciously offer my taste-testing services to its cooks.

At first I was just going to make dessert (more on that later), but we thought we might not have enough food (ha!), so I decided to make a double recipe of my easy-delicious staple, Mac and Cheese from FatFree Vegan Kitchen:


Good as always. Below you see a full plate, which has both of the above dishes plus “Mullatkes”: potato-sweet potato latkes, loosely based on the Potato Latke recipe in Veganomicon. There were about ten gazillion of these, the majority of which we ate while we cooked. I think they might have been the best latkes I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lotta latkes in my day. (Sorry, I just can’t resist the opportunity to make latke puns.) And we even had vegan sour cream on the side! It was practically Channukah.

Not pictured are the tasty but unphotogenic Tom Yum Soup, Amy Winehouse, eighty-three dirty dishes, and Cappuccino Cupcakes. The cupcakes are my babies and thus get their own post. So stay tuned…and throw a dinner party this weekend.


February 24, 2008

Brain Food: Mexican Oatmeal Soup

Posted in dinner, recipe, soup at 2:35 am by veganalects

My room is a sty. I haven’t had clean socks in days. I have three loads of laundry, 150 pages of reading, and a fearsome paper to do this weekend. But there’s always dinner.

I pried myself out from under the crushing pile of obligations long enough to make said dinner, as dining hall vegan hot dogs seemed somehow less than appealing. Good meals to good think!

My mom sent me a veganized recipe from the New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook which she figured would be simple and quick enough for a college vegan to make. I had most of the ingredients on hand and a grocery store run covered the rest.

I further adapted my mom’s adaptation by adding spinach and cayenne to the recipe, so I figure it’s different enough from the original to reproduce here. Oatmeal soup sounded a little strange to me initially, but it was quite tasty. The oatmeal gives it a nice texture and substance, and, well, I always like spinach. I eat cayenne on everything these day; you probably should too. The soup was indeed fast enough for a busy college student to make. On a crusty dorm stove, to boot.

(Sort of) Mexican Oatmeal Soup
Serves Six…or one, with five days of leftovers!

1 1/3 cups rolled oats
4 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, or 2 large fresh tomatoes
6 cups vegetable broth*
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne (or more, to taste)
3-4 cups loosely packed spinach
black pepper, to taste

1. Toast the rolled oats in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are brown but not burned. Set them aside in a bowl.

2. Heat the oil in the skillet; add the onion and garlic and sauté briefly.

3. Add the tomatoes, broth, salt, cayenne, and oats. Simmer for 6 minutes over medium heat.

4. Add the spinach and stir in until wilted. Grind pepper liberally over soup and serve immediately.

*Because this soup is simple and barely spiced, the quality of the soup will depend largely on the quality of the vegetable broth. Homemade broth is ideal, but I know I don’t have time for that. Make sure the ingredients don’t include too many things that aren’t vegetables; you might need to try a few brands before you find one you like.

February 10, 2008

Chickpea Curry

Posted in dinner, recipe at 5:16 pm by veganalects

Yikes. Is it Sunday? How did that happen?

Well, I kind of know how it happened. My lovely long winter break ended and I went back to college. In other words, my free time suddenly disappeared and my kitchen became a filthy stove and a clogged sink. So, unfortunately, I won’t be updating (or cooking) as frequently as I have been. I will make my best effort to keep posting regularly, though—but now regularly will probably be a couple times a week. Yesterday I drove to Cleveland to stock up at Whole Foods, so now I can actually get back to cooking. (I’m planning to make lemon bars. Oh yeah.)

In the meantime, here’s a recipe for my favorite dish ever. My parents make it whenever I come home because it’s always the first thing I want to eat. I think it came from my dad’s grad school days, but it’s been substantially adapted to our tastes since then.

Chickpea Curry
serves six to seven

vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
(or about 4 large fresh tomatoes)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp or more cayenne
at least 2 tsp salt
pinch (or more) cinnamon
pinch (or more) cloves
pinch (or more) black pepper
2 large (25-oz.) cans chickpeas, plus at least some of the liquid
olive oil
2-3 Tbs lemon juice
chopped cilantro (or parsley) to taste

1. Sauté onion in oil until translucent.

2. Add garlic and green pepper. Continue to sauté until the pepper is softened.

3. Add tomatoes, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. Cook 5 minutes.

4. Add chickpeas with quite a bit of the liquid. Simmer for a half hour or more.

5. Stir in lemon juice and garnish with cilantro or parsley just before serving. Serve over rice.

February 1, 2008

Sort Of South-by-Southwest Dinner

Posted in dinner, seitan, the Challenge, Veganomicon at 6:15 am by veganalects

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

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 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 25, 2008

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 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.

January 22, 2008

Chickpea Noodle Soup and Apple Mango Crisp

Posted in baking, dessert, dinner, soup, the Challenge, Veganomicon at 1:13 am by veganalects

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?


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