Sunday, August 30, 2009

Daiya is the O'Doul's of cheese

There's queso on my quesadilla! No really, it's vegan cheese, but it's cheese. Daiya cheese melts, is stringy, and tastes really, really good. You've seen me make "ninjadilla" before-since I couldn't really call them quesadillas without the cheese-and I would have sworn that they didn't need the cheese. I was wrong. It's even better with the daiya. I used cheddar flavored daiya on the quesadilla. Who cares what the rest of the filling is it's freakin' cheesy...but in case you do care, it's black beans, tomatillo salsa, and rice. On the side is chipotle vegenaise, and some awesome Zukay salsa.
OK, now for the vegan meat lover's pizza. This was killer. Well, without any animals being actually killed. I used the Italian style daiya, field roast apple sage sausage, and Yves pepperoni. Melty cheese, spicy peperoni, and meaty sausage, and yes, it's totally vegan. Compared with any boxed freezer pizza, this would definitely fool an omni. The daiya cheese is almost buttery and tastes shockingly like cheese.

I've got a bazillion veggies from the CSA that I really should be eating instead of vegainzing freakin' meat lover's pizzas. Don't worry though, there's some eggplant and zucchini snuck into the sauce, and fried eggplant is great on the pizza, too. Sometimes it's just satisfying to make something inherently meaty totally meatless.

Daiya is a little hard to come by just yet (some of the NYC vegan restaurants like Candle 79 and Blossom are serving it) and I ordered mine online from pangea the vegan store. You can also order it from Cosmo's vegan shop.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I won the taster's choice at the 1st Veggie Conquest!

"What is Veggie Conquest? Veggie Conquest is a monthly amateur vegan cooking competition. Before the event, chefs prepare a dish at home based on a secret ingredient revealed a week in advance. At the event, judges and tasters choose the top dish, prizes are awarded, and everyone chows down and has a great time!"

This month's secret ingredient was apples. I made a rustic apple ravioli stuffed with apple, zucchini, eggplant, and cashew-cannellini bean ricotta topped with an apple infused marinara and pine nut parmesan. Most of the ingredients came from the farmer's market, my mom's garden, or my CSA share. It's plated for the judges on eco-friendly bamboo dishes.

Here's the recipe as I made it with all the apple stuff:

Apple ravioli

2 cups KAF white whole flour
1 cup KAF all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup applesauce (August Macintosh peeled, cored, cooked, and smashed)
1/4 cups apple cider

Mix together and knead for 10 minutes (or throw it in the bread machine on dough cycle.) Then chill for at least 1 hour.

Apple Zucchini Eggplant mixture:

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 shallot minced
1 eggplant diced
1 zucchini diced
4 ginger gold apples peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp Italian seasoning

Saute garlic and shallot in olive oil. Add eggplant, zucchini, and apples and cook until softened-about 20 min. The ginger gold apples will retain their shape, but any tart apple would probably work.

Cashew-Cannellini bean ricotta

1 15 oz can (2 cups) cannellini beans (white beans) drained
1 cup raw cashews ground in food processor
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs boiled apple cider
1/4 cup apple juice
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

In a medium bowl, mash beans with a fork. Add ground cashews, basil, sweetener, juice, lemon, and salt and mix thoroughly.

1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic chopped
1 shallot minced
1 28 oz can san marzano tomatoes with juice
6-8 fresh plum tomatoes peeled and chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 tsp salt
1 cup applesauce
1 cup apple cider

In a large sauce pot, saute garlic and shallot in olive oil. Add tomatoes, basil, salt, applesauce, and cider and simmer until thickened and the tomatoes are cooked.

Pine Nut Parmesan topping
1 cup ground pine nuts
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
1 Tbs miso
1 Tbs boiled apple cider

In a food processor, ground pine nuts, add nutritional yeast, salt, miso and sweetener, and blend to combine.

To assemble:

Mix apple, zucchini, eggplant with the cashew-cannellini ricotta.

Roll out bits of ravioli dough to desired thinness. I used a pasta machine up to level 5. Cut into pieces about 2 in by 1 in. Place 1 tsp filling on bottom half and fold over so you have about 1 in square. Press down on the edges so the filling is in the middle and the 4 sides are pressed flat. Place on a floured baking sheet while you make the remaining ravioli. Repeat about a hundred times.
The beauty of calling this dish "rustic" is that the ravioli don't all have to be uniformly shaped. Just go with what gets the filling into the shape of dough you've got rolled out.

*note: You can freeze ravioli you won't be using right away. Space them out on a floured baking sheet so they don't get stuck together and pop in the freezer. When fully frozen, transfer to an airtight freezer container.

Boil a large pan of water. Add salt. Add about 10 ravioli at a time. When they float, remove with a slotted spoon. Top with sauce and pine nut Parmesan and serve hot.

This was such a fun event and I met some really cool people like fellow amateur chef contestant Mike Lieberman from Simply Raw Recipes and Michael Parrish DuDell of and Here's a link to the first place winner Julie Tran’s Baked Apple & Seitan Phyllo Purse and the link to judge Kathy Patalsky's site for a review of the Veggie Conquest event.

There were a couple cool seitan dishes and some couscous in there. We got to sample all the dishes, then there was more food to follow and some cookies from gone pie vegan bakery.

The big surprise of the night was that I won the taster's choice for best dish. I won a gift card to the amazing Lula's Sweet Apothecary. I can't wait to check it out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Banana Orange Bundt Cake

Orange you glad I said banana?

Today's cake is adapted from the Carrot Cake/Banana Bread recipe in the original 1977 Moosewood Cookbook. The cookbook cover fell off ages ago and it is held together by a rubber band. My mom annotated the pages with such fantastic sayings as "Peggy brought this to dinner-fabulous!" My parents used to have a gourmet group with their friends in the early 80's and I think one of the themes was vegetarian, or at least recipes from the Moosewood Cookbook.

I was watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding recently and I realized I didn't have a bundt pan. I got one of those floppy silicone ones at Bed Bath and Beyond, so I'm testing that out*. This recipe usually makes 2 loaf sized cakes, but fills a bundt pan perfectly.

Banana Orange Bundt Cake

The wet stuff:
1 cup oil (I used canola)
1 3/4 cup sugar (I used sugar in the raw)
1 cup soft tofu
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp orange extract

The dry stuff:
4 cups flour (I used KAF 2C white whole wheat and 2C all purpose)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder

The orange banana stuff:
2 cups smashed ripe banana
1 cup OJ

Preheat oven to 350 and grease bundt pan.

In a medium bowl (or this cool sifter thingy,) mix all the dry stuff together.

In a separate bowl, mix the mashed banana and OJ together

In a large bowl, beat the oil and sugar in a large bowl until most of the sugar has dissolved. Add tofu and blend thoroughly. Add extracts.

Alternately mix in 1/3 dry mix, then 1/3 banana, and repeat until all incorporated, but don't over-mix.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in pan 10 min, then turn out onto cooling rack.

Once cool, you can eat as is, or make a quick orange glaze.

Orange glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp soy milk
1/2 tsp orange extract.

Blend together with an electric mixer and drizzle over cooled cake.

*Verdict is that the silicone bundt pan is quite awesome. You have to put it on a baking sheeet, so it's level in the oven, but it came out of the pan perfectly...and the cake is pretty delish, too.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

Last day of the Quantum Wellness cleanse and if you're paying any attention to me at all you know that the caffeine was the hardest part. I steered completely clear of alcohol, caffeine, and meat and dairy (I still want credit!) for 21 days, and I rarely had anything with gluten or added sugar.

Here's my gluten-free eggplant parm that I just had for lunch.

1 large eggplant sliced into 1/4 inch slices (I did lengthwise, but you could make circles.
1/3 cup Chick Pea Flour (garbanzo bean flour, besan)
1/3 cup soy milk
1/2 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal, grits, whatever you've got. Polenta just sounds more Italian.)
1 cup vegan cheese (or cheese sauce)-I used the cheese sauce from the Eggplant Parm in the Uncheese cookbook, but some shredded vegan mozzarella would work just as well.
2 cups marinara sauce (I used yesterday's eggplant sauce)

I salted, then rinsed the eggplant slices, but you don't really need to. It supposedly gets rid of the bitterness, but I'm not sure it actually tastes any different.

Heat a 10 inch skillet with 1/4 inch cooking oil (I use canola.)

Season each of the breading parts with a little salt and pepper. There's lots of flavor in the sauce, so I don't usually bother with a lot of seasonings in the breading for this. You could add Italian Seasoning if you like. Coat each slice in chickpea flour, then soymilk, then polenta.

Fry slices in batches until golden brown. Remove and let cool on a baking sheet.

Put 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of a loaf pan. Add eggplant to cover (if you sliced lengthwise, 2 pieces will usually fit in a layer.) Add cheese, then sauce and repeat until you run out of ingredients (about 4 layers.) Top with some vegan parmesan. Bake 375 for about 1/2 hour. I refuse to have a microwave at home, but this reheats really well in the microwave at work.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Eggplant Meatballs

Slave to the CSA...

Eggplant is the Iron Chef ingredient today. Everything is going to have a little eggplant in it.

Since I don't want a whole bunch of leftovers, here's a 1-2 serving eggplant meatballs and some sauce to go with it. Step one goes into both parts. There will be extra sauce, for eggplant Parmesan, eggplant pizza, etc.

Step one:
1/4 cup olive oil (you oil phobes can use less, I like my sauce with a lot of olive oil)
1 small onion
1 head garlic (6-8 cloves)
1 pretty big eggplant peeled and diced pretty small 1/4 in cubes
10-15 fresh basil leaves if you've got 'em; chopped
1TBS Italian seasoning (I like Penzeys Italian Sausage seasoning)
1 tsp salt (to taste-the sausage seasoning is salted)

For Eggplant balls:
1/4-1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

For Sauce:
1 28 oz can tomatoes (or 4 cups fresh plum tomatoes peeled since it's tomato season and all)

Vegan Parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts (ground)
1 TBS nutritional yeast
pinch salt

Saute onion and garlic in oil in a large sauce pot, add eggplant, basil, and seasoning and cool until eggplant is well cooked. Mash some of the eggplant if you like, so there are still some small chunks. Processing in a food processor would cut the seeds which may make the sauce bitter, so just mash it with a masher or fork or food mill.

In a separate bowl, take 1 cup of the eggplant mixture and let cool to room temperature. Then add the bread crumbs (try 1/4 first, then more if it's too wet.) Form into 8 small balls and bake at 400 for about 30 minutes turning occasionally.

Add the tomatoes to the remaining eggplant in the sauce pot and simmer until eggplant balls are done baking.

Place 3-4 eggplant balls on a plate and top with sauce and vegan Parmesan.

I ate this for breakfast. Yum! I still have 5 eggplant left, so I'll be making this again to top some spaghetti.

On top of spaghetti, all covered with vegan cheese....I lost my poor eggplant meatball, when somebody sneezed....

Friday, August 14, 2009

Flavah Trippin' in NYC

I had never heard of flavor tripping until Diann's post last week. I just had to try this and I couldn't wait to see if I won her contest, so I bought some of the mBerry Tabs from Amazon.

Here's the NY times article and apparently this was also a feature on CSI.

Basically the miracle berry makes sour foods taste sweet. You just get the miracle berry on your tongue and it changes the way your taste buds perceive sour flavors for between 15 minutes and 2 hours (our effects lasted about a half hour.)

So I got a bunch of recommended tasting items together and talked some co-workers into tripping with me today at lunch. The limes were the best. They tasted like limeaid. Also good were the lemons, grapefruit, tomatillos, salt & vinegar potato chips, pickles, salsa, and kimchi. The red pepper hummus was good, but weird and almost fizzy? The spicy things were still spicy despite other accounts of the spicy not being hot. I like hot foods, but the jalapeno still packed the punch of jalapeno even without the seeds.

The hot stuff. Still spicy, just tastes sweeter. I thought the sundried tomatoes tasted like dried apricots, but everyone else said just tomato. And I usually like umeboshi, but it was sweet and even weirder than usual.

Lemons and limes were the favorite.

Trippin in the lunchroom...

So all in all an interesting experience. If I get my hands on the real berries, I'll have to try this again. Makes for a fun party, even if it's at the office.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yankee Garlic Fries but no veggie dogs

I finally went to a Yankee game. I've been in New York for almost 5 years and never even made it to the old stadium. My first comment was "well, it's bigger than Fenway." It's nice, but I was hoping to happen upon some magical veggie dogs that many other ballparks are sporting. No dice.

I forgot I wasn't having gluten (I remembered not to have beer) when I bought a NY pretzel. It was OK, but didn't really cut the mustard (despite drenching it in mustard.) When lo and behold I stumbled upon the garlic fries. These fries were total vampire killers and were pretty darn tasty. Basically it was just some jarred minced garlic and parsley piled on top of some fries. Still for ballpark fare it was pretty good. Other items that might be vegan, but I didn't ask were PB&J, knish, Cracker Jacks (vegan), potato chips, and nachos without cheese or chili.

Here's a guide to vegetarian options at ballparks nationwide. Looks like San Francisco is the place to go. I'll have to go to a Mets game and I hope they bring back the veggie dogs! I also hope they all start getting vegan dogs. How hard can it really be?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Quantum Wellness Cleanse day 15 and some corn pasta

I'm still doing the Quantum Wellness Cleanse. Caffeine was the only major hurdle and no gluten is just annoying. However, I've discovered some interesting things that are made gluten free. So here's a sort of product review of corn pasta. Pasta is my go to weeknight meal because I seem to always have something I can throw together to make a sauce. There were several gluten free rice pastas at the store, but something about the corn pasta made me really want to try it.

I made 2 dishes with the corn pasta. One was kind of a Mexican pasta sauce since it's corn spaghetti and all. Tomatillos, corn, part of a can of chili, some black beans, onions, garlic, that sort of thing. It came out really good. I thought I might have overcooked the pasta, but it kept its shape and didn't fall apart. It didn't really taste like corn, but it was really good anyway.

The second round was a basic Italian style sauce. Some garlic, red basil, olive oil, cherry tomatoes and zucchini. This time I tried not to overcook the pasta, but it ended up a little under done. It was probably perfectly al dente, but I guess I like mine a little less to the tooth. Still good, I just let it sit in the sauce for a little while to cook more and soak up the sauce.

All in all, for a gluten free pasta this corn spaghetti comes pretty close to normal. I'll probably get this again, and I really dug the Mexican pasta thing. Mexican Italian fusion cuisine.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

She's been decaffeinated...Quantum Wellness Cleanse day 8

As Sgt. Murtaugh says in Lethal Weapon 2... she's "been decaffeinated." Don't let Starbucks fool ya. Caffeine is an addictive drug. I know it's not crack or anything, but that was pretty rough. The first day without it was like a super hangover without the party. Ugh. I think I'm sticking with decaf even after the cleanse.

Anyway on to some food. Here's a mostly from the farm dinner. It's also gluten free!
At the CSA* this week I got some squash blossoms and prepared them simply by frying them in some olive oil and garlic. Then I made some kale chips, since the only thing growing like gangbusters this rainy summer seems to be kale. Cut out the stems and cut into chip size pieces, then spray with olive oil and bake 375 for about 10 minutes or until crispy. Check them often because you don't want them to burn.
S & G potatoes, yup, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and garlic. Roast in the oven with olive oil, 375 about an hour.
I got romaine lettuce, from the CSA which was way greener than the usual translucent romaine you find in the grocery stores, so I tried to make a Cesar dressing. I used the one from the uncheese cookbook, but it was not very Cesar like (nooch, tahini, mustard.) I added some almonds from the vcon recipe which helped. Then I dumped in a bunch of seaweed flakes. In the end it was just OK. I threw some squash blossoms in the salad, too just because they're so pretty. Corn from the CSA. The tempeh was a last minute add on. I sprayed it with braggs liquid aminos, then fried it in the olive oil from the blossoms. Not much on flavor, but if you take a bit of tempeh with a bite of potato, it is a nice balance.

I'm on day 8 of the cleanse. Other than the lack of artificial stimulants, I'm feeling pretty normal. Skipping the morning bagel, but that's OK, I got 20 peaches from the CSA, so I'm having them with oatmeal. I'll try to get to the new agey part of Quantum Wellness by meditating and stretching and stuff, but my meditation time has lately been taken up by reading all the Harry Potter books again. What?...they're really good.

*CSA is Community Supported Agriculture- you pay the farmer before planting, then throughout the summer get a box of freshly picked veggies and fruit for your share.