Friday, February 27, 2009

Mac N Cheese; Thai Peanut Stirfry

So I still haven't gotten around to the Indian food, but I made two quicker recipes for dinners this week.  And I obviously have no photo skills whatsoever, so I apologize for that.  

I made the Mac n Cheese from Veganomicon on Wednesday and it was great.  J and I liked it a lot, even though J is not a big fan of nutritional yeast.  So I would recommend that recipe if you want a lower-fat vegan mac & cheese option.  (The one on veganyumyum is loaded with Earth Balance!). 

And then we made this recipe last night for tofu and vegetables in Thai peanut sauce.  It was simple and pretty tasty.  I stir fried the veggies instead of steaming them, and omitted the coconut extract, but otherwise followed the recipe as written.  I would probably make it again.  

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pasta e fagioli recipe

1-1/4 cups dried white beans
1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
8 to 10 cups salted water or broth*
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp. black pepper
8 oz small pasta shells or elbows (scant 2 cups)
1 medium zucchini, chopped

1. Cook the dried white beans in 8 cups water. (May be done a day in advance.)
Note: White beans cook in about 1-1/2 hours after soaking (all day or overnight) or quick soaking (boiled 1 minute and then left to sit 1 hour). Unsoaked, they take closer to 2 hours. I once used canned white beans in this recipe, but it wasn't nearly so good.
2. In your soup pot, saute the onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat just until the vegetables begin to get tender.
3. Add the water or broth, tomatoes, oregano, pepper, and the cooked beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 1/2 hour.
4. Add pasta and zucchini. Continue to simmer about 10-15 minutes more until pasta is done and zucchini is tender. Add more water if thinner soup is desired.
5. Serve with a spoonful of pesto swirled into each bowl at the table. (Pesto loses its flavor if cooked into the soup. If pesto is unavailable, make a paste of raw garlic, olive oil and dried basil and stir a little into the soup at the table. It's not the same, but it's good!) If you eat cheese, you may sprinkle a little grated Parmesan onto each portion also.

*How much salt depends on the broth and your personal taste. I usually use water with a few teaspoons vegetable broth powder and 1/2 tsp. salt. If you use canned broth, use only one or two cans and the rest water or the broth flavor will be overpowering. The sauteed vegetables help to enrich the broth as the soup cooks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Awesome Dinner

[Pictures when I get them off my camera]

Last night for dinner, I made the Curried Carrot Dip and Broiled Tofu recipes, put them on a whole wheat bun with some steamed kale and nutritional yeast ... it was truly incredible. This was a really, really, really great dinner, and I may have eaten 2/3 of a pound of tofu because I just couldn't stop. This was really great.

You know what else was great? I came home on Tuesday to a copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World! Thank you ribbit. :) I just made my first batch - I made the Agave Vanilla cupcakes with blueberry frosting! I haven't had one yet - we will see how they go.

More updates as I get pictures/have time to write!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pasta fagiole and roasted green beans

I could eat soup every day -- tasty, satisfying, warm, nutritious soup. Yum! Pasta fagiole is one of my favorites.
My original recipe of this has the comment "J likes!" and is dated 1985. It's pasta and white beans with seasoning vegetables (carrots, onions, celery), with a little tomato and zucchini added near the end. At the table you stir in pesto -- I'm not sure that's traditional, but it is delicious. You all may have favorite pasta fagiole recipes, but if not, let me know and I'll edit this post to include it.

Lately we've been having roasted green beans two or three times a week. They are so good, and so easy. We toss them with a dab of oil (seriously, not much -- you don't want them greasy) and roast them for 20 min at 425. If the pan isn't crowded, I don't even bother turning them -- the undersides get plenty brown.

For years I avoided pre-mixed seasonings but on a whim I tried this and we really like it. I sprinkle it on the beans when they come out of the oven (we use it on other veggies, too), and they are delicious! Do any of you have other seasoning suggestions? I'd like to try something a little different.

So we had a really good dinner tonight! And even better, we started with pieces of a Mirabelle boule dipped in Yellingbo olive oil ...

Monday, February 23, 2009

No-knead bread variations

I have been working with this no-knead bread recipe and I haven't nailed down a version of the classic crusty boule that I love, but I have been having a great time with all the variations.  Last night I made focaccia inspired by this blog post. Delicious!  I baked it in a cast iron skillet and topped it with rosemary, kosher salt, and of course, olive oil.

The bread dough also made an absolutely fantastic pizza dough (esp. when topped with San Marzano tomatoes, if you were following my previous post)...

And I loved this cinnamon raisin bread, which I improvised with, since I don't own a loaf pan.

So I'm making this recipe over and over again because I love the versatility, and I love having bread dough ready to go in the fridge.

I'm on a bread hiatus tonight though because tomorrow I want to make this chole dish and accompany it with spinach paratha (I bought Indian whole wheat flour just for this purpose).  Let's see if I get to the bean soaking step in the morning, which will determine whether I manage to carry through!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


So the more vegan recipes I read, the more cashews seem to be a prominent theme. I'm guessing this is because they blend well and are kind of creamy? Can anyone speak as to why this is and what the outcome has been if you've tried it? Does it still taste cashew-y? Is it hard to get it blended finely enough?

Cashews. Enjoy!

Banana Nut pancakes

J. & I are big breakfast fans.  We do pancakes, waffles, crepes, french toast--I'm not a fan of savory food for breakfast most of the time. 

This morning we used one of our favorite pancake recipes from Vegan with a Vengeance (Isa's first cookbook)--banana pecan pancakes. We made them with all white whole wheat flour, and used hazelnuts instead of pecans (because that's what we had).  I subbed the oil with soy yoghurt.  This recipe comes out wonderfully every time for us.  Just keep the pancakes small (I make 4 to a pan), because they are thick and cakey and won't cook well if you make them too big.

I found the recipe online here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cornmeal Roasted Brussels Sprouts; Poached Pears; Roasted Portobello

So, you've all been blowing me away with both the frequency with which you cook, and the obvious expertise. To join the conversation, I thought I'd post a picture of the (unadorned) yam I had for lunch, or the chopped-up raw cauliflower + plain noodles I had for dinner last night. I suppose it's people like me who give vegetarians a bad name (though I'm perfectly capable of butchering a meat meal as well).

Last Friday I went to the grocery store with a new friend (who, incidentally, I spent valentine's day with, but no cooking or dining), so for the first time in months had ample free time with which to collect my produce. Usually my two roommates are in a hurry, and I scurry around collecting any vegetable in sight before my time is up. This time, I picked up far too many items, bringing my bill to an alarming 160$, more than twice the usual (I go about once every 2.5 weeks). As a result, I now have copious amounts of perishables to consume before I can make a trip for the more exotic ingredients Veganomicon calls for.

But, I figured I'd try to make a dent in the fridge today, while still trying out some things from the book. 

I already had all the ingredients for the poached pears, so started with that. I forgot that when doubling a recipe you don't double the liquid, so am now gently boiling my chocolate sauce in an effort to thicken it. I'm not even sure I'd recommend the chocolate sauce; the sweet black-tea pear marinade is delicious on its own. Also, I followed Jocelyn's inspired suggestion of using an icecream scooper! This recipe is totally worthwhile.

I had one of those clubs of brussels sprouts, mostly because I can't resist the urge to pick them up and shake them at my shopping companions. I looked through Veganomicon, and lo-- a recipe for which I already had all the ingredients! Yay for finally getting to use my garbanzo flour, and proving to my roommates that it was not, in fact, another of my cute, but ultimately useless, purchases. At some point through the recipe I realized this was a dish my dad used to make with cauliflower, which I had loved as a kid. He'd use falafel mix instead, and fry it rather than roast it, but the result is pretty much the same. And, just as highly recommended, even if you're turning a fine healthy vegetable into pub food.

Finally, I made the roasted portobello mushroom from Veganomicon, because I'd bought two on a whim, and have never known what to do with them. These taste really nice, and are very little work. However, I don't understand how people (the authors included) can think of them as a meal or reasonable substitute for a burger. Where's the calories??

So, that's my food for tonight. Plus, a pop quiz. Without glancing up, spell the missing words: _____ sprout and ______ mushroom. Did you get them right? Both took my by surprise. I never realized the former didn't end with l, or that the latter didn't have a fairer share of a's. 

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

If you haven't seen this book, it's worth looking for. It's written by the same wonderful ladies who brought you Veganomicon.
Make no mistake: these are not health food. But they are the most creative, inventive vegan cupcakes I have ever seen. A blogging friend with allergies to both eggs and dairy alerted me to this book, which even has a couple recipes for people who are also gluten intolerant. The photos are wonderful, and the writing is what you'd expect from Isa and Terry. For example, their intro to S'mores Cupcakes reads:
We may be city girls but we love us some campfires. And not just because we like to steal people's bras and hide them in trees. These cupcakes will bring out the rustic survivalist in you--the rustic survivalist that knows from scrumptious cupcakes.
Oh, yes, and did you know Isa has a vegan brunch cookbook coming out in May? I don't see Terry as co-author, though.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Indian House Dinner

So my house dinner is done! People liked the food, but I was a little iffy on some of it:

Samosa Baked Potatoes
I thought these were good, although mine ended up being a little dry. I regretted that I didn't have any chutney or anything to put on them! I think that would really make a difference. I've never liked samosas much for some reason, but I think that these were really pretty good.

Tamarind Lentils
I didn't really like these. :( I'm not sure if I don't like tamarind or gharam masala or some combination of things, but the flavor was just too weird for me. Sad, but now I know.

Pumpkin (er, butternut squash) Saag

I thought this was neat - I would, next time, put in a little less cinnamon and maybe play around with the spices to make it more my own style. It was really nice to be able to cook it and then let it chill while I was cooking the rest of the meal.

Tea Poached Pears

These were super good. Everyone loved them, and the recipe was really, really simple. I followed it basically exactly as it was written and I could definitely imagine making these for just a 2 or 3 person meal as long as there was a little advance planning. I didn't put out ice cream since it was a vegan meal and I didn't pick up any non-dairy dessert, but I think that a little vanilla would be a great compliment to this. The presentation is also a really important part of this, and something that I would work on more on future iterations. My favorite part of making these was figuring out how to get out the seeds with an ice cream scooper and get a beautiful, perfectly circle-shaped hole. :) [Sadly, no picture. However, see below proof that my housemates not only ate but appeared to enjoy the meal!]

For Valentine's day, Ben and I cooked a few recipes from Veganomicon as well:

Porcini Wild Rice Soup
This was really good. Wild rice never gets quite as soft as I think it will for some reason, and Ben pointed out that this might be good to try with barley or some other grain. Has anyone else done a soup like this with another grain that worked?

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

A definite classic! Very Thanksgiving-y. I left out the salt and I think I shouldn't have.

Chickpea Cutlets
We were at Whole Foods buying the ingredients for the dinner, and I picked up an extra can of garbonzo beans because I figured that it would be good for Ben to keep around. He was in charge of mashing the beans and kneading the dough, and I put all the ingredients in - or so I thought. While I was measuring out the vital wheat gluten, he saw the other can of beans, opened them, and added them, not realizing they were just to keep around. This actually turned out really well, despite doubling the main ingredient! I would definitely make these again, even trying the correct proportions. :)

Curried Carrot Dip (Veganomicon)

Yum! We all really liked this -- Brian and Val are both taking it for lunch tomorrow. Guess I'll have to make more for me.

What I did
I followed the recipe as written except:
  • I substituted almonds for sunflower seeds, because I love almonds and I like their fatty-acid profile (and, well, I didn't have any sunflower seeds...).
  • Canola oil replaced the grapeseed oil (which I also didn't have).
  • I used Penzy's Maharajah Curry Powder. I imagine the particular curry powder used would make a noticeable difference in the flavor.
  • I used a food processor, not a blender.
Normally I don't care for curry dips. Val said the same, but this one has a lovely flavor. Freshly made, the lemon flavor is strong, but after just an hour in the fridge, everything melded together. (That is, whatever was left after my several samples of the freshly made dip!) This is very easy and can -- should -- be made in advance. We spread it on leftover naan and onion kulcha, but it'll be spread on rye bread for lunch tomorrow.

And it's true, carrots improve eyesight! I couldn't find my Veganomicon, decided I never really owned it, and got a new copy. But while munching on Carrot Curry Dip at dinner, I glanced at the bookcase, and what to my wandering eyes should appear... Lucky Val, after dinner she was given her own copy of Vegonomicon.

Pudding; Cauliflower Popcorn; Eggplant stew

The pudding came out alright.  A little spicier than necessary, but still perfectly enjoyable.  I would recommend the recipe :).

Tonight we ate: Popcorn Cauliflower which was a hit.  It was an easy way to use up half a head of cauliflower which I had in the fridge.

And then we had this Curried Eggplant Stew which was good but not great.  Josh wasn't a huge fan, so I'm not sure I'd make it again.  I found the flavor combination intriguing and appealing but I didn't fall in love.

I hope your dinner party is a great success, Jocelyn!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bruschetta; Bread pudding

My first post!

Nothing too exciting here, but I thought I'd share my latest cooking adventures--however modest.  

On Valentine's Day, Josh and I cooked (err mostly reheated from Whole Foods) an Italian themed meal.  We made my new favorite wintertime bruschetta recipe, and I wanted to recommend it.  It is adapted from the artisanbreadinfive blog.
-1 can of diced San Marzano tomatoes
-fresh basil
-kosher salt
-olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Slice the baguette and arrange slices on a cast iron skillet. Spray or brush each slice with olive oil.  Drain the canned tomatoes over a fine-mesh sieve--leave them for a couple minutes so they are well drained.  Rub each slice with a piece of garlic that has been cut open.  Or, if your garlic isn't very juicy, use a microplane grater to very lightly dust each slice with a bit of garlic.  Add a heaping spoonful of the tomatoes on top of the bread.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.  Top with chopped basil.  Bake for 5 minutes.  And that's how you can pretend it's August, when it is really February in Boston.

The key was really the San Marzano tomatoes.  They make it smell like summertime, even though they come from a can.  We used the leftover bread and basil to repeat the appetizer the next night, but with regular (Muir Glenn) canned tomatoes, and decided that it's really worth the extra $2 for the San Marzanos.  I discovered them just a couple weeks ago on the strong recommendation of the elderly proprietor of a specialty food store in my neighborhood, who insisted that they are what makes the pizzas at my favorite gourmet pizza spot taste so good.

I just pulled the Chocolate Chip-Banana bread pudding from V-con out of the oven.  I haven't tasted it yet though.  I had a minor disaster with the nutmeg though (didn't realize there was no top on the spice and accidently dumped it directly over the batter), so we'll see what happened.  I thought I scooped most of it out, but the pan still smells suspiciously spicy..

Prepping the Meal

Well, it turns out that whole foods had neither pumpkin nor butternut squash - so all I got for the pumpkin saag recipe was a 2lb butternut squash I happened to have sitting around. Also, I think this was my first time baking potatoes, and I didn't quite let them bake long enough ... but I am still hopeful for the rest of the meal! Onion and garlic chopping are done!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


If you give a mouse a cookie... 
do you think you could make it an administrator? 
Also, can we be anonymous? I'm happy being referred to by any name save my own. 
And, thank you for setting this up!!

Recipes to Try

Hi everyone! Ribbit and I were talking this afternoon and thought it would be fun to have a blog where we can all make the same food (or different foods), and post pics and info about them for everyone to share. This is going to be the most fun if we all have the same cookbooks, so if anyone starts getting crazy on one book it may be worth checking out. :)

I'm putting a little list of things I want to try below - I'm not sure if there's a better place to keep these so we can all edit and add to the list, so let me know if you know of one.

On Tuesday night, if anyone wants to start then, I will be making (all recipes are from Veganomicon):
Samosa Baked potatoes (p60)
Tamarind Lentils (p123)
Pumpkin Saag (p184)
Rice (...)
Tea-poached pears (p246)

I'm cooking for 14 so I don't expect anyone else will also be making 5 dishes, but if you want to try out a couple with me, it should be good!

List of recipes I want to try:

Spicy Tempeh Nori Rolls (Veganomicon, 47)
Grilled Yuca Tortillas (Veganomicon, 49)
Broccoli-Millet Croquettes (Veganomicon, 51)

Main Course:
Mac N "Cheese" (VeganYumYum -
Cashew crusted tofu (The Vegan Foodie -
Tofu & Noodles (It Ain't Meat Babe -

Breads, Muffins, etc:
Poppy Seed Cornmeal Roti (Veganomicon, 221)
Pumpkin Cranberry Scones (Veganomicon, 225)
Almond Quinoa Muffins (Veganomicon, 227)
No-Knead Bread (NYT Blog -

Sweet potato chocolates (Diet, Dessert, & Dogs -
Carrot chocolate pie (
Sweet potato and almond cookies (Vegan Food & Fitness -