Monday, September 30, 2013

Vegan Mofo #36 - Mark’s Linguine With Clam Free Sauce & Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Scallops...

Vegan Mofo #36 - Mark’s Linguine With Clam Free Sauce & Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Scallops 

The Region - Italy
The Book - The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe
The Author - Mark Rienfeld
The Recipe - Linguine With Clam Free Sauce
Page #23
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 35-40 minutes

And now we’ve reached the end. It’s a bitter sweet end for me, because on one hand I hate to see Mofo end, it’s been so much fun, but on the other I’m finally starting to feel burned out. Not burned out with cooking but burned out because I always have to make sure my camera is handy. Then there’s uploading photos, editing photos, writing daily - sometimes twice and thrice daily - posts and getting everything organized. I love it, but to keep that pace consistently when I have so much else going on is draining too. I’ve loved and enjoyed every minute of mofo, loved reading everyone’s blogs, seeing everyone’s creations, it’s been an inspiration and so I close this mofo with an unexpected dish.

Unexpected because I hadn’t intended to make this for mofo at all. Then last night I came across a box of Sophie’s Kitchen vegan scallops in my local grocery and knew I had to try them. I’ve been hearing great things about this brand for a while now but had never gotten the chance to try it, so I excitedly picked up a box upon making the discovery that it was now being sold in my area. Problem is, I never liked scallops, as I mentioned in my post about the tofu scallops, and short of serving them as I had the Mark Reinfeld way a few days ago I didn’t know what else to do with them. But then, scallops in my mind seem to go with Alfredo, and once I had that idea in my head I remembered Reinfeld’s recipe for Clam Free Sauce and thought why couldn’t vegan scallops work in that dish too?

So tonight, after a busy day, needing something quick and easy for dinner that’s exactly what I decided to do. I made the recipe as pretty well as stated, except I used only a 1/4 pound of shiitake’s instead of three cups since I used a box of scallops as well. The sauce is made of garlic, oil, shiitake mushrooms, arame, vegan butter, non-dairy milk, cashews - which are listed as optional but I used them - lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, parsley - I didn’t have any and so I used some basil instead - white wine, and nutritional yeast. I left the pine nuts out too. I decided to cook the thawed scallops in the pan right along with the garlic and mushrooms rather then cook them separate and I’m not sure if this made any kind of difference in taste or texture but I think it worked fine.

Once the sauce is finished you add it to your linguine except I didn’t have any and so I used Angel Hair pasta instead. No biggie. Overall I thought the sauce was great, rich and creamy. It wasn’t overly seafoody and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t like an overwhelming fish flavor but a little more sea would have been nice. I would definitely make this again and maybe add in some crumbled nori sheets too. Now whether or not this sauce tastes like clams I can’t say, I’ve never in my life eaten a clam and I’m glad of that. Clams to me were always a disgusting culinary oddity, so if you’ve tried this dish and you’ve eaten clams before let me know what you think.

As for the Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Scallops - well, it’s been so long since I’ve eaten a real scallop I can’t really comment on similarity. The vegan scallops were mild in flavor, and not fishy. I think a stronger flavor would have been better, but texture wise they seemed pretty dead on as far as I can remember. Since scallops were not my favorite thing to begin with I’m not sure I would buy these vegan scallops again myself, but my husband loved them. I suppose scallops, vegan or otherwise just might not be my thing, so in the future I suppose I’ll stick with the tofu version.

And that my friends concludes this years Vegan Mofo. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting and thanks for participating. It’s been a blast. Stay tuned tomorrow for my Vegan Mofo 2013 Recipe Round-up of my top 10 Favorite dishes from this year’s mofo event!

Vegan Mofo #35 - Mark’s Beer Braised Greens...

Vegan Mofo #35 - Mark’s Beer Braised Greens 

The Region - Germany
The Book - The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe
The Author - Mark Rienfeld
The Recipe - Beer Braised Greens
Page #189
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 20 minutes

I’m not entirely sure how this is a typical German dish - except for it’s use of German beer it seems a rather ordinary braising recipe. - But Mark includes it in his Germany Chapter in The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe and so, because I had some greens begging to be used I decided to make it as part of my German Schnitzel feast. I hadn’t intended to use the recipe for Mofo as it was simply a side, but it turned out so much better then expected I could hardly see why not to include it.

The dish is simple, thinly sliced greens - Mark calls for Kale but I used Collards because that’s what I had - sauteed in garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, caraway, lemon, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and of course beer. I thought the beer would be overpowering but it wasn’t. Somehow it worked with the bitter greens and the red pepper flakes gave the dish a nice kick.

The Full German Feast.
Top - German Potato Salad & Vegan Schnitzel
Bottom - Red Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts & Beer Braised Greens 

Is it my favorite vegetable recipe ever? No, but it was a new and interesting way to use greens that I hadn’t thought of before, and it worked really well as a part of the German feast. Each dish complimented the other, and so if you choose to make the schnitzel, potato salad and the red cabbage I highly suggest also adding one more pan to the mix and braising up a batch of beer braised greens. Yum, yum!

Vegan Mofo #34 - Mark’s Greek Halvah...

Vegan Mofo #34 - Mark’s Greek Halvah

The Region - Greece
The Book - The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe
The Author - Mark Rienfeld
The Recipe - Greek Halvah
Page #177
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 30 minutes

I love Halvah. Back in the day I used to work in a delicatessen, and it was there that I got my first taste of the stuff. I loved the rich flavor, and crumbly texture like chocolate almost but better. To this day I love it, though I don’t often eat it. Until recently I didn’t realize that there are actually two types of Halvah, and I also didn’t realize that it’s origins span a wide range of geographical locations from the Mediterranean, through te Middle East, Asia and, North Africa, and Eastern Europe. I’ve always thought of it as being a Middle Eastern dessert, but I suppose many cultures and traditions have their own variations on it.

Mark’s Halvah recipe is the kind of halvah that uses Semolina Flour rather then tahini. I have never tried this kind of Halvah before, and so I was really curious to give it a shot. As far as I can tell both versions are found in Greece, though this version may be more popular there. Where as the tahini version is more popular in the Middle East.

As strange as it sounds a semolina based halvah is actually pretty quick and easy to make by brining water and soy creamer to a boil then pouring in the flour, sugar, oil, vegan butter, rose water, cinnamon, and sea salt. After that you basically cook until it’s thick like polenta, and keep cooking until it’s thick enough that it pulls away from the sides of the pan. Then you mix in your raisins, almonds, and mint leaves place it in a casserole and refrigerated until cool and solid.

Instead of being crumbly this halvah is more gelatinous and at fist I found the texture weird, but I really enjoyed the flavor. Mark also includes a rose water syrup to go over top of the halvah but I didn’t think I needed all that sugar and so I neglected to make it, really the halvah is sweet enough as is so I don’t think I was missing out anyway. In the end I think I like the crumbly Tahini based halvah’s better, but this was certainly a nice change of pace and I look forward to maybe making this recipe again with a few different ingredients. I’m thinking pistachio’s and cranberries!

Vegan Mofo #33 - Mark’s Brussels Sprouts and Red Cabbage...

Vegan Mofo #33 - Mark’s Brussels Sprouts and Red Cabbage

The Region - Germany
The Book - The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe
The Author - Mark Rienfeld
The Recipe - Brussels Sprouts and Red Cabbage
Page #190
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 20 minutes

One can hardly think of German Cuisine without thinking about Red Cabbage regardless of how right or wrong that may be. I can honestly say that in my time spent in Germany I didn’t eat a single dish of red cabbage anywhere, but I ate enough of it growing up. Since cabbage is a favorite vegetable of mine - and red cabbage in particular - I’m quite fond of the German way of cooking it. A little bit sweet a little bit sour and I make a killer version of this traditional dish. Though in all my hears I’ve never thought to add Brussels sprouts to the mix. Which is a great combination I have to say, provided of course you like sprouts as much as I do.

I’d been wanting to make this particular dish for some time as well, but never had the opportunity until of course I made Mark’s Schnitzel and then what better side to make then cabbage? They paired beautifully together and made for a real German feast alongside the Potato Salad, and the beer braised greens - more on them in a bit.

Mark’s version is a little different from my version, and it differs I think from a traditional recipe as it uses beer. I thought the addition of beer would make the dish bitter but somehow it infused more depth of flavor and I found it to be quite delicious even though I personally can’t stand beer as a beverage. He also uses oil, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, sea salt, stone-ground mustard, black pepper, red pepper and sesame seeds to flavor the dish and these pairings all work amazingly together. In fact I liked this dish so much I made another pan of it the next night! If you plan on making the Schnitzel, you have to make this to go along with it, you won’t be sorry, I promise! A bonus is this dish can whip together in about 20 minutes or maybe even less if you chop quickly.

Vegan Mofo #32 - Mark’s Dutch Stamppot...

Vegan Mofo #32 - Mark’s Dutch Stamppot 

The Region - The Netherlands
The Book - The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe
The Author - Mark Rienfeld
The Recipe - Dutch Stamppot
Page #222
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 30 minutes

This was not a dish I originally intended to make for Mofo but last week I needed something quick and easy to throw together before work and this dish caught my curious eye. I had never heard of Stamppot before but apparently it’s a traditional Dutch dish that is similar to Ireland’s Colcannon or Champ. Typically it’s a dish of mashed potatoes mixed with other vegetables - onions and kale are typical - mashed together and then served alongside smoked sausage of some kind. It isn’t pretty, I’ll give you that, but much to my surprise it’s damn delicious!

Mark’s version keeps the trio of potato, onion and kale and flavors the mash with soy sauce, soy milk, vegan mayo, Dijon mustard, vegan butter, salt and pepper. He also uses sliced up browned sausage right in the Stamppot recipe rather then serving it on the side. I quite like this as it makes a quick easy one pot meal. Since he doesn’t specify in his recipe what type of sausage to use I used some Italian Seitan Sausages I had in my freezer and it worked out beautifully.

This dish is true comfort food, and you can really have fun with it by using other ingredients to change it up. Since it’s so easy to throw together I know this’ll probably be a go-to meal on cold winter nights when I have little time and less patience for cooking.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Vegan Mofo #31 - Donna’s Spicy Hunan Hot Pot...

Vegan Mofo #31 - Donna’s Spicy Hunan Hot Pot 

The Region - China
The Book - The Chinese Vegan Kitchen
The Author - Donna Klein
The Recipe - Spicy Hunan Hot Pot
Page #46
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 20 minutes

By now it can be no secret that I love soups, so when I saw this recipe in The Chinese Vegan Kitchen for the Spicy Hunan Hot Pot, and saw that it only takes about 20 minutes how could I resist? Hunan Is a region in south central China. The cuisine in this region is known for it’s diversity and it’s liberal use of chili peppers, shallots and garlic. Hot pots are also a popular cooking method there, and seeing as how I’ve never made a Chinese hot pot before now would be a good time to try it out.

This particular hot pot contains ginger, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, vegetable broth, water, soy sauce, brown sugar, chili paste, sesame oil, rice noodles, tofu, bok choy, green onions, cilantro, and more hot chili sauce for garnish. It comes together faster then you can believe, the most laborious time is spent chopping, and once that is done you throw everything in the pot and simmer till done. It makes a perfect quick weeknight or weekend meal, and tastes so darn good.

As I said before I’m not normally a fan of plain tofu diced up in soup but I liked it here as it provided a cool smooth contrast to the spicy flavor. I also loved the use of bok choy and cilantro the colors of which really made the dish pop!

Vegan Mofo #30 - Taymer’s Eggplant and Seaweed Accras...

Vegan Mofo #30 - Taymer’s Eggplant and Seaweed Accras 

The Region - The Caribbean
The Book - Caribbean Vegan
The Author - Taymer Mason
The Recipe - Eggplant and Seaweed Accras
Page #60
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 1 hour

Okay, so the finished product may not be pretty, and the photos don’t do it justice but please don’t let that stop you from making these delicious Eggplant and Seaweed Accras.  Since Eggplant is not my favorite vegetable this recipe never really appealed to me, it never stood out, but my opinion of it changed dramatically at the Toronto Vegetarian Festival. The Festival was back in the first week of September, and so my husband and I decided to shorted our stay in Montreal so that we could go. It was a great time but I’ll give you a full recap after Mofo. For now I’ll say that Taymer Mason herself was there doing a cooking demo. We went to her Demo on Sunday which was the last day of the festival and these eggplant accras were one of the things she made. Watching the demo I saw how quick and easy it was to make, and that got me curious about it. Then I tasted the finished product and was blown away. They were so freaking good! She served them with a slightly sweet nutmeg sauce that really brought them to a new level of awesome. I knew right then, still chewing the piece of Accra in my mouth that I would have to - HAVE TO - make these for Mofo.

Incase you don’t know what an accra is it’s like a savory fried fritter, usually fried and sold by vendors on the street as a quick and easy street food. Sometimes it’s eaten as is, and sometimes it’s eaten in a bread. The traditional way to make an accra is to use fish, but Taymer uses nori to get that fishy flavor and it works! Of course the day I made these I had something else going on the stove, and seeing as how I don’t like to deep fry things anyway I decided to taker her recommendation and bake them instead. That’s why they don’t look as good as on the cover of the book, or as good as they did in Toronto. When you bake them they don’t get that crispy brown shell but they’re still freaking good trust me!

They really are simple to make. It’s just eggplant, salt, oil, nori, onion, green onion, habanero, thyme, black pepper, flour, baking powder, and water. Baking time is about 25 minutes but I baked them an extra 20 just to get them extra crispy. As for the nutmeg sauce, well that’s not a recipe in the book. I sent Taymer a message on Facebook asking her what was in it because I’d loved it so much at her Toronto demo and wanted to recreate it. She replied that it was a mix she’d been whipping up for years that didn’t really have a recipe. Mayo, ketchup, mustard, nutmeg, sugar etc.. so I did my best to recreate it. It didn’t taste exactly like hers but it was still great. Loved the addition of nutmeg. If you own a copy of Caribbean Vegan and haven’t made these yet, do it and I promise you won’t be sorry.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Vegan Mofo #29 - Terry’s Creamy Corn Crusted Tempeh Pot Pie (Pastel De Choclo),,,

Vegan Mofo #29 - Terry’s Creamy Corn Crusted Tempeh Pot Pie (Pastel De Choclo)

The Region - Chile
The Book - Viva Vegan!
The Author - Terry Hope Romero
The Recipe - Creamy Corn Crusted Tempeh Pot Pie (Pastel De Choclo)
Page # 144
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 1 hour 15 minutes or less depending on how fast you chop.

We’re really zig-zagging across the globe now as I scramble to wrap up the last of Mofo. From India, to France, and now back to South America with a Chilean dish known as Pastel De Choclo. Apparently a version of this dish also exists in nearby Argentina and Peru but Terry’s version is more akin to the Chilean variation.

Traditionally the dish is made using the new sweet corn which is ground and seasoned with fresh basil. The filling is typically made up of minced meat - gross- vegetables and seasonings, then topped with a blended corn mixture and poured into individual earthenware bowls where it is then baked. Since it was only my husband and I eating, and I didn’t feel like getting very fancy with it I took Terry’s suggestion and cooked the entire thing in a big casserole dish rather then individual bowls, and I think it turned out pretty great, though the pictures make it look more like a lasagna then a pot pie - oh well.

I was pretty ecstatic to try this dish as I’d been eying it with curiosity ever since I originally bought Viva Vegan! I don’t know why it takes me so long to make some recipes but that seems often to be the case. Maybe the long ingredients list threw me off, but really this dish doesn’t take so long to prepare. The filling is a hearty mix of potatoes, tempeh, onion, carrot, cumin, oregano, paprika, vegetable broth, red wine, soy sauce, pepper and the classic combination of raisins and green olives. I love the sweet addition of raisins into a savory dish, and the slaty olives make for a good contrast as well. I think the only thing I would do differently is add a little heat, maybe a tsp or two of Taymer’s Bajan seasoning or a few dashes of cayenne pepper. Also for my tastes a tad more salt would have worked wonders.

Once the filling is prepared and layered in your casserole you top it with a blended mixture of sweet corn, cornstarch, non-dairy creamer, garlic, salt, pepper, fresh basil, and a pinch of sugar. Once the filling is placed over top you bake until golden brown. I think next time I would add a bit more garlic to the topping as well as some unblended corn kernels as I like the texture of whole corn. Other then that I think it was a really fantastic dish. I like that it’s unique, and different to what I normally eat, and I love how fast and easy it comes together. Most of the cooking time is just waiting on the baking to be finished which is always nice as it gives you time to prepare a side salad, do some homework, or read a book. I also love that this dish is pretty healthful, low fat, and doesn’t contain any processed ingredients - well besides the cream but if you make the cream yourself as I did then no problema right? It makes it a delicious, virtually guilt free dinner that you can feel good about.

Vegan Mofo #28 - Mark’s Roasted Squash With Truffle Cream Sauce...

Vegan Mofo #28 - Mark’s Roasted Squash With Truffle Cream Sauce

The Region - France
The Book - The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe
The Author - Mark Reinfeld
The Recipe - Roasted Squash With Truffle Cream Sauce
Page # 74
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 35 minutes

Today we move from India Back to Europe with a French inspired recipe out of The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe. Personally I’m not sure how French this recipe is and Mark doesn’t really go into detail about why it’s in the French section, but I can surmise it has something to do with the truffles and the cream sauce.  After all truffles are big business in France, and the French are particularly known for making great cream sauces.

I typically never make cream sauces myself, not because I don’t like them but because the mood never particularly strikes me. I do however love squash and so I thought this would be an interesting dish, and seeing as how I already had the truffle oil called for - oil is more pocketbook friendly then actual truffles - I thought why not give it a shot?

The dish is easy enough to prepare. You dice up some butternut squash - though in my cause I used Delicata because that’s what I had - then you toss it with olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and tarragon. Then you roast it. While it roasts you make some caramelized onions with a bit of red wine vinegar, sugar and some of the prized truffle oil. Then you make your cream sauce which is made from a mixture of cashews, non-dairy milk, truffle oil, salt, white pepper, and more tarragon. When everything’s ready you plate your squash drizzle over some cream sauce and top with the deliciously caramelized onions. Voila, you have a très sophistiqué side dish

As for the flavor - well, how can you go wrong with roasted squash, especially as we transition into fall, am I right? Caramelized onions are always divine and the cream sauce was good too, it came out very thick which I liked. My only complaint about it is that I didn’t think the truffle taste was very prominent, he only suggests using a 1/4 tsp as the stuff is very strong but I didn’t think that was enough. I upped it to a ½ tsp and still think it could have used more. Perhaps that’s just me, but next time I would make this with a bit more white pepper, a touch of garlic and perhaps a full tsp of the truffle oil. Though, if you’ve never used truffle oil before I really suggest - as does Reinfeld - that you air on the side of caution. Too much and your dish will be irrevocably destroyed.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Vegan Mofo #27 - Madhu’s Onion Stuffed Flatbread (Pyaj Paratha)

Vegan Mofo #27 - Madhu’s Onion Stuffed Flatbread (Pyaj Paratha) 

The Region - India
The Book - The Indian Vegan Kitchen
The Author - Madhu Gadia
The Recipe - Onion Stuffed Flatbread (Pyaj Paratha)
Page # 162
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 45-60 minutes

I had so much fun making Aloo Paratha - or Potato stuffed flatbread - a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d try my hand at it again with a different filling this time. Potato stuffed flatbread is really my favorite but I love onion and cauliflower stuffed breads as well. Now that I know how easy it is to make home-made paratha I knew I’d have to try Madhu’s recipe for Pyaj Paratha - or Onion stuffed flatbread.

The technique is basically the same as with any paratha. You make a dough of chapati flour - which I didn’t have so I used half and half whole wheat flour and all purpose - water, and salt. Let it sit and make your filling. For the onion filling you simply need to dice some red onion and chilies, then add in some cayenne, coriander, and amchoor powder. Once that’s all done you divide your dough, roll it out into balls, place some of the filling in the center close it up and roll it out again. When all that’s done you’re ready to fry them in a cast iron skillet and there you have it.

Initially I was a little concerned that by using raw onion instead of sauteed onion there would be an overpowering onion flavor that would make the bread inedible. Still I staved off the temptation to disregard the recipe and saute the onions first. I used them raw, grilled my bread and hoped for the best. Much to my surprise the onion flavor wasn’t overpowering in the end. I suppose if you mince the onion small enough it allows them to cook relatively well despite the fact that the bread is only in the pan for a minute or two a side.

Another thing I noticed this time around is that I’m getting much, much better at making paratha. The more you do it, the easier it gets and the quicker you are. I don’t think I’m ever going to buy another store-bought Naan or flatbread again. It’s like making your own corn tortillas, once you have homemade you just can’t go back, especially when it’s so easy. If you’ve never made paratha at home you simply have to try it! It was the perfect accompaniment to some South Indian Humus .

Vegan Mofo #26 - Anypy’s South Indian Hummus...

Vegan Mofo #26 - Anypy’s South Indian Hummus 

The Region - India
The Book - Vegan Indian Cooking
The Author - Anupy Singla
The Recipe - South Indian Hummus
Page # 132
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 10 minutes

I love a good hummus, and so when I first saw Anupy’s version for a South Indian take on the classic dish I knew I’d have to make it at some point and yesterday was a lazy kind of day. It was the kind of day where I didn’t feel like doing a lot of cooking or making anything that required a lot of ingredients. I wanted fast and simple and something I wouldn’t have to thick about and so I thought it would be the perfect easy dinner with some homemade Naan.

Besides being quick and easy I was also immediately intrigued by the ingredients, and was particularly curious to use lentils instead of chickpeas for the base. Anupy doesn’t specify what type of lentils to use and so I used a can of brown lentils. I was also really interested to use mustard seeds and coconut oil, not to mention excited at the prospect of using my Rasam and Asafetida powders for something. Other ingredients in this twist on hummus include garlic, lemon juice, black pepper, salt, smoked paprika, cumin, and water as needed to thin.

See? Simple. It’s also an extremely delicious combination. The lemon and Rasam powder gives the hummus a tart, tangy flavor, and the coconut oil gives it a subtle tropical flavor as well as a smooth buttery flavor. The mustard seeds don’t get entirely pureed and so they leave a bit of crunch in the mix and the asafetida just brings the whole thing together. This is probably one of the most creative and best tasting hummus’s I’ve ever eaten, and it tasted so darn good with that homemade Naan I mentioned - but more on that later.