Archive | April, 2009

The Redi-Burger Experience

30 Apr

Today, I introduced Mags to the unparalleled joy that is the Loma Linda Redi-Burger. She was skeptical. I mean, it costs $8 and comes in a can. Now, she is madly in love and may never forgive me for getting her hooked. She wonders if the unnamed “spices” are really crack cocaine. Ah, the devotion of a convert. Bwuahahah.

The next morning: As if we needed further proof that I should not post when I am tired, I forgot the important half of this post yesterday.

The FC introduced me to Redi-burger when I was a kid. On sick days, I would go hang out with him at work and we would go to this little lunch counter they had in the back of the health food store. They served up the redi-burger with cheddar, green bell and onion, and it was Dad’s favorite thing to order there. I, who idolized my pops, wanted to eat whatever he ate. I was a kid who liked being sick and hanging with dad a lot more than school, so we shared a lot of burgers. As an adult, I hear a ton of stories from people who tried to go veggie as kids but their parents freaked out and made them eat meat. When I came home at age 8 and told the FC I was going to be a vegetarian, I think he thought it was a weird decision, but he supported me. As a kid I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have parents who went out of their way to support my vegetarianism. Hell, I didn’t realize I was lucky to have a dad who loved to go out to lunch with me. Now, the taste of Redi-Burger brings back those lazy days swinging my feet from the lunch counter stools and eating a burger with my pops. When I introduced Mags to them, I wasn’t sure if they were really superior to every vegi-burger on the market, or if the taste just made me feel warm and fuzzy inside because of awesome childhood memories (like Eegee’s). Thankfully, I was vindicated. The burgers, like the FC, are amazing. Thanks, Dad!

Be careful out there

-C

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Baja-style “street tacos”

29 Apr

I’ve been craving tacos for weeks, it seems like. I picked up some tempeh at the health food store the other day, and I thought it would be great cut into strips and grilled like chicken then topped with a spicy chipotle lime cream sauce + veggies.

When I lived in SoCal, they put this zesty sour cream sauce and cabbage on everything. Coming from a Sonoran background (where we deep fat fry everyhing and then cover it in enchilada sauce and cheese) I thought the whole “fresh tasting” Mexican food thing was real weird. But, who am I to snub my nose at a spicy crema? Baja-style tacos need some love, too, and with summer pretty much here, I’ve been craving lighter-tasting food. Even the Boyfriend was into the crema, and couldn’t tell it was vegan.

Chipotle-Lime vegan crema:
1/2 cup unsweetened plain soymilk
1/4 package silken tofu
1 cup roasted, salted cashews, pulverized in food processor
1 1/2 tblspns chipotle powder
1 tblspn chili powder
1 tblspn garlic powder
1/2 tblspn onion powder
1 tspn dried oregano
1 tspn ground cumin
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lemon
generous splash of apple cider vinegar
salt
pepper

Veggie taco topping:
some green cabbage, shredded
1 Roma tomato
1/2 large avocado
pepper
lemon garlic salt

1 pkg Spicy veggie tempeh, cut in strips + grilled on griddle (would have been better sauteed in more oil for more crunch)
2 small flour tortillas (corn would also be excellent, flour is more traditional)

Put crema ingredients in food processor, process until smooth + taste for spices. Put in refrigerator to thicken.
Grill or saute tempeh strips until golden brown and crispy on the outside.
I shredded the cabbage, but in retrospect I wish I’d left it in bigger pieces for the crunch. Dice tomato + avocado, mix with cabbage and season.
Put tortillas on griddle to heat. Top with tempeh, crema + veg.

I did not take pics because I cannot find the camera, but they. . .looked like tacos. They were very tasty. I love the texture of the tempeh, but the taste was not everything I wanted. I may try to batter some soy fish next time. I think chicken strips cooked in some green enchilada sauce would be amazing for my next tacos. Back to my Sonoran roots.

Be careful out there (and eat great Mexican food),
-C

Carrot-Parsnip Potato Pancakes

29 Apr

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3 carrots, peeled, cut into inch thick pieces

1 parsnip, peeled, cut into inch thick pieces

2 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed

2 Tbs Earth Balance

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cardamon

2 Tbs apple sauce

2 Tbs soy milk

1/4 C whole-wheat flour

2 Tbs flax meal

Cook parsnip, carrot and potato in boiling water until soft. Drain and mash. Add all ingredients and mix to combine. Mixture should be sticky enough to form into patties. Heat skillet/griddle and coat with cooking spray. Cook pancakes until golden brown on each side. Serve with soy yogurt, mild veganaise or other cream sauce.

– Mags

Rainbow chard gratin in sage-walnut bechamel

29 Apr

This weekend, D. (that man I love) finally got to visit the Farmer’s Market I had been raving about since last summer. Located at St. Philip’s Plaza, visiting it is like taking an Amelié-inspired trip to Europe. The street is leading up to the market is cobbled, and the booths are surrounded by the sun-washed walls of buildings and arches of surrounding businesses and all around is bathed in splotches of light diffused by trees. Usually, a local artist accompanies the shopping, harp, a cello. It’s a dream-scape. [As a side note, I will try to remember to bring my camera next time I go and share with you some of this experience in image as well as flavor :)]

I was meeting a friend for coffee, so it was a surprise to me what goodies D. had acquired at the market. As he returned, face a-glow with pride, he produced yellow summer squash with skin so delicately yellow; beautifully crinkly-leaved kale; two tennis ball sized purple and red striped heirloom tomatoes; a tiny paper bag of dates; and some rainbow chard!

I have always been fascinated with chard. But I never understood what one can make with it. I stared at it longingly in the produce sections of grocery stores, oftentimes picking up a stalk and ruminating about it but inevitably replacing it among its brothers and then moving on. It wasn’t until C. and I started this blog, and I began actively perusing food blogs and cook-books, did I put it together, that chard is just the leaf part of the beet! And I know beets – I am Polish of origin. My kind has survived predominately off of root vegetables for generations!

Ah beets! We (the Poles) have cooked them and grated and sautéed them in a rue, or mixed them with horseradish. We have borschted them. [I dislike borscht, and have survived through it EVERY Christmas I remember due to my mommy’s love affair with the stuff.] We have even turned it into a delicious cold soup called “Chlodnik” (literally “cold-soup”) which uses both the chard and the root.

But the question remains: “What to do with the chard?!” In this situation, my Polish heritage fails to satisfy my query.

Luckily, I am a multi-cultural foodie, and gladly seek out recipes from all edges of the globe.

The first time I got chard, I flash-sautéed it and served it over couscous. Strange, I know, but it was delightful. It must have gotten ingrained in D.’s mind – otherwise he wouldn’t have purchased it for me this Sunday. Chard is earthy but mild and slightly sweet, like a beet, but less obnoxiously (sorry, beets – you are very bold roots!)

Today, I came upon a wonderful French inspired blog called Chocolate & Zucchini. The author had posted a Swiss Chard Gratin with Vegan Bechâmel. I was intrigued, honestly, about someone who is not vegan, taking the time to try and post a vegan alternative to a very French recipe – and you know the stereo-type of the French, of being extreme foodies! [Another side-note: I have been noticing that the vegan trend is global, so there are some amazing vegan French blogs out there!] So, I decided that this would be something worth trying out on my own. I had left-over sage and walnut bechâmel (cream) sauce from Sunday’s sun-dried tomato pesto ravioli (sorry – I didn’t take pictures – I will have to make it again…), and bechâmel goes wonderfully on casseroles/bakes/lasagnas AND gratins! With the rainbow chard D. got me, the gratin sounded magnifique! Here are the recipes for the Rainbow Chard Gratin and the Sage Walnut Bechâmel Sauce (adapted from the Sage and Walnut Cream Sauce recipe featured in The Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook).

I served it all up with Carrot-Parsnip Potato Pancakes.

Peace!

– Mags

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Sage-Walnut Bechâmel

3 C soy milk

1/4 C Earth Balance Spread + 2 Tbs more

1/4 C white flour

1/2 C chopped walnuts

1 small package (~2-1/2 sprigs) fresh sage, chopped finely

dash of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Melt 1/4 C Earth Balance in saucepan or non-stick pot. Whisk in 1/4 C flour. While stirring, add 1 C soymilk slowly. Continue stirring until thickens. Add 2 Tbs Earth Balance and the remaining soymilk, stir until spread melts and mixture is uniform. Remove from heat. Add,sage, walnuts and spices and let infuse for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Rainbow Chard Gratin

1 small bunch of rainbow chard, leaves and stalk separated and chopped roughly

1/3 onion, diced

2 Tbs olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1C sage-walnut bechâmel

2 Tbs oat meal

2 Tbs oat bran

1 Tbs nutritional yeast

2 Tbs grated vegan cheese

Preheat oven to 400F. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add chopped chard stalks and sauté until softer. Add chard leaves and cook until wilted. Cook until all moisture has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add bechâmel. Pour into small pan. Sprinkle surface with oatmeal and oat bran and nutritional yeast. Top with grated vegan cheese. Place in oven and bake 20 minutes.

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Magnificent Creamy Summer Squash Soup

24 Apr

Oh my god, I just created a work of art that warranted two bowl-fuls! This soup germinated in my head after the vichyssoise, which as delightful as it was (especially according to D. AND when paired with crispy garlic toast) was a little bland. It sprouted and grew a stalk over the course of this week. And today, it grew a leaf! Yup – this soup’s a-planted! It has so much body, so many layers of flavor, and is  so light and perfectly summer-esque! I hope you try some! And invite all your friends, too, ’cause it makes a BUNCH

Peace!

– Mags

Magnificent Creamy Summer Squash Soup

Photo by D.

Photo by D.

1/4 C Earth Balance

3 dried red chilis

3 stalks celery, chopped

3 medium yukon potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 yellow summer squash, 1 zucchini and 1 Mexican summer squash cubes (not peeled)

3 C No-Chicken broth

3 C unsweetened soymilk

1 – 15oz can garbanzo beans, drained

1 garlic head, roasted and mushed

1 tsp paprika

2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 Tbs nutritional yeast

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp ground sage

1 tsp salt

1 tsp miso

1 Tbs sherry vinegar

juice from 1/2 lemon

(more salt to taste – I ended up adding another teaspoon)

Chopped parsley, fried wontons and drizzled coconut milk for garnish

Melt Earth Balance in a large soup pot. Add celery and chilis and saute until celery gets a bit softer (3-5 min). Add potatoes (by this time, the Earth Balance is cracklin’) until they begin to smell like they are frying (about 2 min). Add squash/zucchini and cook for about 1 min. Add stock and soymilk. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Add miso, sherry, garlic and all the remianing spices except for the lemon. Cook covered until potatoes are soft. Take out the chilis. Transfer soup in batched to blender and purée. Transfer back into pot. Add lemon juice and salt to taste. bring back to a low boil and serve garnished with fried wontons and chopped parsley. Drizzle with coconut milk for that special look! (Is also great chilled.)

Photo by D.

Photo by D.

A little note, the wonton wrappers I had left over form the ravioli, chopped into strips (about five rows) and fried in sunflower oil are a fantastic garnish and so easy to make!

Another little note, the only way this soup may have come out better, is if I actually had onion. The onion powder does add that flavor and smell, though, so the soup’s still awesome! Also, I served mine with about half of a Tofurky kielbasa torn up into it for added protein. It goes very nicely!

Dear ED 4/24/09

24 Apr

Dear ED,

Have you ever seen a Renoir nude? I know you have, because you lived with me when I had them plastered all over my bedroom and we even saw some together in person. Do you remember what that was like for me, to be up close and in the presence of those paintings? I do. It was a breathtaking, world-altering, the-beauty-stops-your-heart kind of thing. I would run out of superlatives before I encompassed what Renoir’s work does to my soul. I was looking at a book of his nudes the other day, and I remembered something that I have known a thousand times and have forgotten, with your help, a thousand times. Those women look like me. I am built like that. I could have posed for the crazy old coot. Are you going to argue that my body isn’t beautiful, then? Are you really going to argue beauty with Pierre-Auguste? That’s like getting into a battle of wits with a Sicilian when death is on the line, and you, sir, are no Dread Pirate Roberts. Not only is there nothing wrong with my body, my body was celebrated and adored by a man who knew A TON about adoring women’s bodies. I love Renoir, and he would have LOVED me. You, sir, lose. Love wins. Please see yourself to the door. 

I said, Good day, sir. 

-C

Philly cheesesteak + asparagus salad

24 Apr

The last time we went to the 17th St. Market, I picked up some “philly steak-style” Tofurkey slices. Moment of product truth: I love Tofurkey. I should really start making my own kielbasa, italian sausages, and lunch meat, because it would save money, but I love tofurkey. I love the loaf (I unstuff it and put in my own stuffing) and I love that they slice thier deli meats super thin. I picked up some slices that had sundried tomato and other spices in them, and they make amazing turkey + avocado sandwiches. Anyway. I kept meaning to try philly cheesesteaks, and last night all the pieces fell into place: I had onion and bell pepper and good rolls, I had all the ingredients for vegan cheese sauce, Mags was coming over for dinner.

The steak part was easy: I thickly sliced onion and red bell and sauteed it up with strips of tofurkey. Mags will have to tell you what all she put in the cheese sauce, because all I remember is horseradish. It was tasty, although I later found a recipe for vegan cheez whiz that would have been more authentic. We put some slices of avocado on our toasted hamburger buns and piled them high with yummy messy “meat” and “cheese.

On the side, we roasted some asparagus lightly so it was still crunchy and tossed it with fresh roma tomatoes, chives, and some meyer lemon vinaigrette. Pretty, fresh, tasty. A nice counter-point to the heavier comfort food of the sandwiches.

OK, here is the “cheese” sauce as I remember assembling it:

Horseradish Cheese Sauce

1 C unsweetened soymilk

2 Tbs flour

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1 Tbs dijon mustard

1 tsp miso

2 tsp ranch salt (onion, chives, garlic, salt)

1/4 tsp pepper

1 Tbs horseradish

1 Tbs tahini

1 tsp paprika

1/2 Tbs fresh thyme

Bring the soymilk to a gentle boil while stirring in the flour. When the solutions starts to thicken, add the remaining ingredients and stir.

On side note, I added about 1 tsp onion powder and 1 Tbsp tomato paste to the cheese sauce, and poured it over kielbasa Tofurkey, brown rice and quinoa pasta and steamed broccoli, added in some cubes of vegan cheddar and had a fantastic “mac’n’cheese” for two meals!