Saturday, July 31, 2010

Seasonal Berry Cobbler

With all the berries being in season right now I see that everyone has been making cobblers and I just had to join in on the fun! I choose to do mine with strawberries and blackberries but a combination of any two berries will do as well. Or you know what I really love, peach cobbler! Oh cobbler how I love you and your many different versions! If you happen to have vegan ice cream on hand, serve this with a heaping scoop but if you don't, as I didn't, it is just as good to eat alone.

Serves 8

Ingredients - For the Dough
* 1 1/3 cup flour
* 2 Tb sugar
* 1 1/2 Tb baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 cup canola oil
* 3/4 cup almond, soy or rice milk

For the filling
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 Tb flour
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
* 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
* 1 Tb sugar to sprinkle on top

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl, whisk oil and milk, then add to the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined, but do not over-mix.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon, then add berries. Toss until berries are coated with sugar mixture.

3. Pour berries into a 9-inch baking pan or distribute evenly into 8 ramekins. Using a tablespoon, scoop lumps of dough on top of berries.

4. Brush the top of the dough with extra almond milk and sprinkle liberally with sugar.

5. Bake for 45 minutes or until dough is thoroughly cooked and lightly browned on top. Be sure to rotate after 20 minutes for even baking.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hot Sauce-Glazed Tempeh with Mashed Potatoes and Jalapeno Corn Gravy

I am slowly starting to like tempeh, after being traumatized from a bad tempeh cooking experience last year. I think its more the texture that I have to get used to than the taste. I really like it crumbled but having it as one slice is something I am still getting used to.

The marinade for this tempeh can be really spicy or mild, depending on the hot sauce you use. I used Cholula's Chili Garlic hot sauce and it wasn't that hot. The gravy was also a little on the spicy side because of the jalapenos, so if you are not a fan of spice, this dish is not for you. But like I said, the heat is controllable depending on what type of sauce and how many jalapenos you add. If you would like, you could even leave the jalapenos out all together..a corn gravy would be just as good!

Hot Sauce-Glazed Tempeh
Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main
Time - 20 minutes, plus time for marinating

* 1 ( 8 oz ) package tempeh
* 1/2 cup wine ( whatever kind you've got on hand, just nothing sweet )
* 1/4 cup hot sauce
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 2 Tb soy sauce
* 3 Tb lemon juice ( juice of 1 lemon )
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1/8 tsp cayenne


1. Bring a medium-size pot of water to a boil. Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to fit the tempeh slices.

2. Cut the tempeh in half, width wise, then cut each of the resulting squares diagonally, to form four triangles. When the water is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook the tempeh triangles for 10 minutes. This steams the tempeh and removes and bitterness, plus readies the tempeh to absorb the marinade.

3. Use tongs to immediately place the tempeh in the marinade bowl. Let marinade for 1 hour, flipping the tempeh every now and again to cover with the marinade.

Grilling Instructions
Preheat a greased cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat. To grease it, brush lightly with olive oil or, if you have a spray bottle of olive oil, that works, too.
Grill each side of the tempeh for 5 minutes. When the second side is almost done, spoon some of the marinade over the tempeh and let it cook for 30 more seconds.

Panfrying Instructions
Preheat a heavy-bottom pan over medium heat. Add about 1 Tb of oil to the pan. Cook the tempeh for about 10 minutes, turning often and spooning a bit more marinade over the tempeh as you turn it.

Broiling Instructions
Preheat the oven to broil. Place the tempeh in an oven-safe pan ( such as cast-iron ) or a rimmed baking pan. Spoon some of the marinade over the tempeh and broil for 5 minutes. Flip it and spoon some more marinade over it, and cook for another 5 minutes. When the second side is almost done, spoon some of the marinade over the tempeh and let cook for 30 more seconds.

Jalapeno-Corn Gravy
Makes about 3 cups

* 1 cup vegetable broth
* 1 Tb cornstarch
* 1 Tb olive oil
* 1 medium-size onion, chopped coarsely
* 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, chopped
* Generous pinch of dried rubbed sage
* 2 cups fresh or frozen corn ( thaw partially if frozen )
* 1/4 cup plain soy milk
* 1/4 tsp salt
* Juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Preheat a sauce pan over medium-high heat. In a measuring cup, mix the cornstarch with the vegetable broth and set aside.

2. Saute the onion and jalapenos in the oil for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sage, and saute for 1 more minute.

3. Add the corn and cook for 5 minutes, until the corn is slightly browned.

4. Add the vegetable broth, soy milk, and salt. Stir often and let thicken for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool a bit, just so that it's not steaming very much. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree. Add the lemon juice to taste and puree again, then taste for salt. Gently heat before serving if not serving immediately.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal

My boyfriend loves oatmeal and usually eats it at least once a day but always buys the packaged instant kind. He did attempt to make it once but it turned out horribly. Trying to get rid of all pre-made, boxed foods, I finally went out and bought some steel-cut oats. I am so glad that I did because this turned out really well, much better than I thought. I might have to start making some for myself too and play around with different types of fruit to add. I think peaches or even pears would go great in this oatmeal as well.

On another note, as I was typing up the recipe on here, I looked over to my left to see my cat Taffy staring at me through the glass door, holding a bird in his mouth! My boy is very crossed-eyed and usually never catches anything but the occasional grasshopper. I had to do a double take, thinking maybe it was just his little catnip mouse but no, it was for sure a bird. I ran over to him and he dropped it and the poor little bird's feet were moving. I had no idea what to do...he grabbed the bird again and took it outside. I managed to take a couple pictures and then, just like that the bird got up and flew away! The bird wasn't injured but instead just playing dead. Poor Taffy looked at me, like "where did my toy go?" I am so glad that I taught him well to know never to hurt another animal : ]

Serves 1 hearty breakfast portion or two petite portions

* 2 tsp non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
* 1/2 cup steel cut oats
* 1 1/2 cups hot water
* 1/4 tsp cinnamon
* 1 pinch of salt
* 1/2 cooking apple, diced
* 1/4 cup soy, oat, or nut milk
* 1-2 tsp brown sugar ( or regular sugar with a small drizzle of molasses )
* 1 tiny pinch nutmeg, optional

1. Heat margarine in a small sauce pot that has a tight fitting lid. Add oats and toast them for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add cinnamon and salt, stir well. Stir in hot water and bring to a brisk boil. Cover and turn down heat. After 15 minutes, add apple, milk, and sugar and stir. Cook for another 5 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.

2. If after 5 minutes you'd prefer your oatmeal to be thicker, cover and turn off heat and let sit for an additional 5-10 minutes. This gives the oats a chance to absorb more liquid without running the risk of burning the oatmeal. Also, the oatmeal at this point is approximately the temperature of magma, so you might as well let it cool down a bit before you dig in.

3. If you feel like dressing up your oatmeal, drizzle it with a small amount of molasses and a pinch of nutmeg, or sprinkle it with additional brown sugar, or add a fresh apple slice or two to the top.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tabbouleh with Pita Bread

I got the idea to make this from an Emeril Green episode. Seems like I am in a little Mediterranean phase for this week. Loved how easy this dish was to make and how different it is from food I would normally make. Putting cinnamon in my main dish was definitely a first for me. I toasted my pita bread for 4 minutes in the oven for a warm, slightly crunchy texture. Served this with a side of lentil soup for a really healthy Wednesday lunch.

Serves 6 to 8 servings

* 1 cup bulgur wheat
* 1 bunch scallions, chopped
* 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped (about 1 cup)
* 1 cup (about 1 pound) chopped vine-ripe tomatoes
* 1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped cucumber
* 1 cup chopped fresh mint, chopped
* 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
* 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
* 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 head romaine lettuce, for serving
* Pita bread, for serving

1. Rinse the bulgur in a sieve under cool running water until the water runs clear, then transfer bulgur to a bowl. Add enough hot water to cover the bulgur by 1 inch. Set aside, covered for 5 minutes, then drain in a sieve and set aside while preparing the remaining ingredients.

2. In a large bowl, combine the scallions, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, mint, salt, pepper, cumin and cinnamon. Remove any excess water from the bulgur by squeezing it dry. Add the bulgur to the bowl and gently toss. Add the olive oil and the lemon juice and lightly toss, adding more seasoning if necessary.

3. Set the tabbouleh aside for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend. When ready to serve, arrange the romaine lettuce leaves and the pita bread on a platter around the tabbouleh.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas

I felt like making something special today so I went with this recipe from Veganomicon. They suggested to serve it with polenta, so I included the recipe below. I never had polenta before, didn't really like how it tasted alone, but eaten together with the stew, it went along perfectly. I did make one change to their recipe, which is I cooked the polenta with my Better than Bouillon Vegetarian Chicken stock, instead of water or vegetable broth. Another thing is that the recipe said it would only take an hour and ten minutes, I was cooking for at least 2 hours. It is a lot of work and if you have a small oven, like I do, I had to do batches for the eggplant roasting. But I am glad I tried this recipe because I really do love eggplant and all things Mediterranean.

On another note, today marks the first day that I will start making extra food and delivering it to my mom. I think I said it before but if you didn't know, she is suffering from high cholesterol. Last week I finally went out and bought myself a copy of "The China Study". Reading about how heart disease is the number one killer in the United States made me want to try and see if I can do something to help her. She's a lazy cook, which results in her going out and buying fast food and then complaining later about how she feels sick. It gets really annoying when someone doesn't care about their health. But on the plus side, I have extra time, so I am glad I can help and I am always up for another person to try my food and critique it.

Back to "The China Study", if any of you haven't read it already, I highly suggest you do. I thought, but I am vegan, I am healthy, what can I possibly learn from this book? But I did learn, I learned about what carbs are good and which are bad and how even too much oils in one's diet can be harmful. Something I kinda already knew but needed to read it for myself to really understand. For the people that have read it, what do you think about it? I myself, love it.

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas
Serves 6
Time : 1 hour and 10 minutes

* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 2 large eggplants ( 3 pounds )
* 1 bulb garlic
* 2 red bell peppers, stems and seeds removed
* 1 white onion, sliced into thin half moons
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 cup white wine or veggie broth
* 2 tsp dried tarragon
* 1 tsp dried thyme
* 1 tsp ground coriander
* 1/2 tsp paprika
* 1 tsp salt
* Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 ( 28 ounce ) can whole peeled tomatoes
* 1 ( 15 ounce ) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

1. Arrange two oven racks so that one is in the upper third and the other is in the lower third. You're probably not going to be able to fit both of your pans on one rack. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Quarter the eggplant lengthwise and slice across into 3/4 inch slices.

2. Line two rimmed baking sheets with baking parchment and brush the parchment with the olive oil. Lay the eggplant slices on the baking sheets and brush or spray the tops with olive oil. Leave a little room on one pan for the peppers. Brush the outsides of the peppers with olive oil and place them, cut side down, on the pan.
Remove the papery skins from the garlic bulb ( as much skin as will come off easily ). Place the garlic on one of the pans as well. Place the pans in the oven and roast for 25 minutes.

3. Remove the pans from the oven. Place the red pepper in a paper or plastic bag and close up the bag ( so that the pepper skins steam off ). Flip the eggplant pieces and brush a little oil on any pieces that look dry ( they should be fairly browned, albeit unevenly ).

4. Return the eggplant to the oven for an additional 15 minutes and remove the garlic, setting it aside to cool. The garlic should have been in for 40 minutes, but if you did the eggplant flipping with lighting speed, give the garlic a few more minutes to bake.

5. On the stove top, preheat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions in 1 Tb of olive oil for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. The eggplant should be ready while the onion is browning, so remove the eggplant from the oven and set it aside ( if you are running out of counter space, use tongs to transfer the eggplant to a bowl ).

6. Add the garlic to the onions and saute for 2 more minutes. Add the white wine and herbs and cook for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tearing up each tomato with your hands before adding to the pot, and add the remaining tomato juice from the can.
Add the eggplant to the pot and mix well. Don't be afraid of crushing the eggplant; in fact it's good if it gets a little crushed.

7. Remove the peppers from the bag and peel away the skin. If for some reason the skin won't peel, don't sweat it. Chop the peppers into bite-size pieces and add to the soup pot along with the chickpeas. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

8. To prepare the garlic, wet your hands ( to avoid sticking ) and squeeze each roasted garlic clove into the soup pot. Mix well, turn off the heat, and let the stew sit for as long as you can stand to let the flavors to develop.

Soft Poppy-Seed Polenta

Serves 4 to 6
Time : 30 minutes

* 5 cups vegetable broth or water
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 cup polenta corn grits ( polenta )
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 2 tsp poppy seeds

1. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium size saucepan. Add the polenta in a slow steady stream, mixing as you pour it. Add the poppy seeds and olive oil, and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 12 minutes, stirring often. Turn off the heat and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Creamy Corn-Crusted Tempeh Pot Pie ( Pastel de Choclo )

Curious little kitty wanted to know what mommy was doing : ]

Shepherd pie has to be one of my favorite things to eat. But it just seemed like the wrong thing to make in the middle of summer. This dish takes on a new spin to what most people think a shepherd pie should be. Since corn is in season now, I had to take advantage of all the fresh, organic corn that has been piling into my local market. So I decided to cooked up some Pastel de Choclo, which translates to Corn Pie. To me it tasted like a sweet corn tamale but of course a little different, but different in a good way. I omitted the raisins and olives from mine just because I am not a big fan. But please don't feel the need to copy me and do add them if you like.

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

* 8 ounces tempeh, sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
* 2 Tb peanut oil or olive oil
* 2 medium-size yellow onions ( 1/2 pound), chopped finely
* 1 large carrot, diced
* 2 Tb white or red wine or vegetable broth
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1 tsp ground sweet paprika
* 1/2 pound potato or yuca, peeled, cooked, and diced into 1/4 inch cubes
* 1 cup vegetable broth
* 2 Tb soy sauce
* 1/4 cup dark raisins
* 1/2 cup sliced green olives
* Freshly ground pepper

Corn Toppings -
* 3 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels ( thawed and drained, if frozen )
* 3 Tb cornstarch
* 2/3 cup soy creamer or heavy cream substitute, or a combination of the two
* 1 clove garlic, chopped
* 1/2 tsp salt
* Freshly ground pepper
* 3 Tb peanut oil
* 8 to 10 large fresh basil leaves, chopped finely
* 1 Tb sugar, or about 1 tsp of sugar per individual pie

1. Cook the tempeh for 10 minutes, either by steaming in a steam basket or microwaving for 8 minutes in a covered glass bowl with 1 cup of water. Drain the cooked tempeh if necessary and crumble when cool enough to handle. Lightly oil a glass or ceramic 11 by 7 inch baking dish that measures at least 3 inches deep, or use four 2 cup oven-proof individual ceramic casserole dishes.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil, add the onions and carrot, and saute for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the onions are very soft and translucent. Add the wine, stir, and bring to a simmer. Add the cumin, oregano, and paprika, and stir. Add the crumbled tempeh, potato, vegetable broth, soy sauce, raisins, olives, and a few twists of freshly ground pepper. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasonings with more ground pepper if desired. Remove from the heat and ladle into the prepared casserole dish(es).

3. Preheat the oven to 400 F and make the corn topping. In a blender jar, pulse the corn kernels, cornstarch, soy creamer, garlic, salt and pepper until thick and creamy. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat, then pour in the corn mixture, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of thick cooked oatmeal. Remove from the heat, stir in the basil, and spread evenly over the filling. Sprinkle the top of the pie(s) evenly with the sugar.

4. Place a baking sheet with a rim under the pie in case the filling bubbles over the edges of dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the corn topping is golden and the filling is bubbling. If desired, broil on high for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, to create dark brown spots on the corn topping, to give your pastel de choclo a much-desired, traditional well-browned look. Let the pie(s) cool for at least 15 minutes before serving; the filling and toppings will be very hot!

For a soy-free variation, replace the tempeh with 4 cups of cooked chickpeas, chopped coarsely.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Seitan Saltado ( Peruvian Seitan and Potato Stir-Fry )

Ever since making my own seitan a week ago, I've been in love. I used to dread having to cook with store bought seitan and would marinate it for hours, trying to make it taste better than it was. The difference between this seitan and what I use to buy is huge and on top of that, the cost is much cheaper.

I came across this recipe last week and it reminded me of a meal my mom used to make when I was little. I remember her buying frozen fries, mixing it with meat and serving it over white rice ( yeah, my mom's food usually is not very healthy ). I gotta remember to ask her if she has heard of this dish or if she just created something similar.

Anyways, a little about this recipe is that it is a Peruvian recipe that was influenced by Japanese and Chinese immigrants. I can totally see that because it does have a tangy soy-based sauce. If you are watching your carbs and don't want to serve rice along side this meal, a side of salad would work just as well.

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

Ingredients - Baked Fries
* 2 pounds russet or other high-starch potatoes, scrubbed clean, peeled ( or leave them unpeeled for a rustic look )
* 2 Tb peanut oil or olive oil

* 1/2 recipe ( two loaves ) Steamed Red Seitan( Recipe Here ), or slightly less than 2 pounds purchased seitan
* 4 Tb soy sauce
* 3 Tb red wine vinegar
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 tsp ground cumin
* A generous pinch of dried oregano
* 1/2 pound yellow onions
* 1 to 2 Tb aji amarillo paste or hot red chiles
* 3 Tb red cooking wine or vegetable broth
* 3 large, firm plum tomatoes
* 4 Tb peanut oil
* Freshly ground pepper
* Steamed long-grain white or brown rice, about 1 cup per serving ( optional )
* 2 Tb finely chopped cilantro

1. Make the baked potatoes fries first. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slice the potatoes into french fry sticks about 1/2 inch thick, pour the 2 Tb of oil onto the large, rimmed baking sheet, add the sliced potatoes, and toss thoroughly with the oil. Don't crowd the pan; use two pans if the fries are overlapping. Bake the fries for 20 to 24 minutes, flipping once halfway through the baking, until the potatoes are golden and the edges are crisp and browned. Sprinkle with a little salt, if desired. Turn off the oven, open the door just a little, and leave the baking sheet in the oven to keep the fries warm.

2. Prepare the seitan and prepare the stir-fry ingredients. Slice the seitan into 1/4 by 1 inch strips. In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce and the red wine vinegar, garlic, cumin, and oregano. Add the seitan strips and use tongs to toss and coat the seitan completely with the marinade. While the seitan is marinating, peel the onion, slice it in half, then slice it into thin strips. If using fresh aji amarillo or other chiles, remove the seeds and mince. Slice the plum tomatoes in half, remove the seeds, and slice into thin strips. Measure the cooking wine and have it handy in a small cup.

3. In a 12 inch nonstick skillet ( or wok, if you have one ), heat 2 Tb of the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Add half the seitan strips and fry on each side for about 2 minutes. The seitan should be browned on the edges but still juicy. Transfer the seitan from the pan to a dish and repeat with the remaining seitan. Add the remaining 2 Tb of oil to the pan and add the onions. Stirring, fry the onions for 3 to 4 minutes, until they begin to softened and turn golden on the edges. If using minced chiles, stir into the onions and fry for 1 minute. If using aji amarillo paste, whisk into wine.

4. Pour the wine over the onion mixture and stir to deglaze the pan ( dissolving any browned bits from the bottom of the pan ). Scrape in any remaining seitan marinade. Using tongs, stir in the tomato strips to coast them in the bubbling wine mixture. Sprinkle within remaining Tb of soy sauce and season with plenty of freshly ground pepper. Add the seitan strips and continue using tongs to coat them with the sauce, then turn off the heat. Have ready serving dishes and mound a serving of rice into the dishes, if using.

5. To put everything together, place a serving of baked fries in a large mixing bowl ( maybe even the one you use to marinate the seitan with ). Use tongs to add a portion of stir-fried seitan and vegetables on top of fries and drizzle a little bit of the pan juices over the whole thing. Toss the fries with the stir-fry, taking care to coat the potatoes with the seitan juices. Slide onto a serving dish, sprinkle with some chopped cilantro, and serve immediately.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Spicy Tortilla Casserole with Roasted Poblanos

Another great recipe from my Viva Vegan cookbook! But I think I timed this is way too hot to be roasting peppers and baking. Last week tricked me with the cool 75 degrees we were having here in California. Then the heat wave hit and it was too late to change the recipes I had planned. But either way, I am happy I made this dish, it came out looking and tasting great. Definitely like no casserole I have ever made before!

Serves 6, or 4 to 5 generously
Time : About 1 1/2 hours

* 1 1/2 pounds white potatoes, peeled
* 1 pound poblano chiles ( about 4 large chiles )
* 1 small white onion, minced
* 1 ( 28 ounce ) can diced tomatoes
* 2 to 3 serrano or jalapeno chiles, stemmed seeded ( if less heat is desired ) and chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 2 Tb peanut oil
* 1 cup vegetable broth
* 1 pound corn tortilla, preferably a few days old ( 14 to 16 tortillas )
* 1 recipe Pine Nut Crema ( See Below )
* 2 Tb pumpkin seeds or pine nuts

1. Roughly chop the potatoes, place them in a large saucepan, and fill with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, partially cover, and cook for 14 to 16 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, press into large crumbles.

2. Meanwhile, over a gas burner, roast each whole, intact poblano chile. Use metal tongs to turn the chile several times over the flame until its skin is blackened, sizzling, and blistered, 3 to 5 minutes. Place the roasted chile into a tightly covered container or a sealed paper bag. Repeat with the remaining chiles. Alternatively, you can roast all the chiles on a rimmed baking sheet at 450 F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until their skin is blackened and the chiles have collapsed. Allow the chiles to cool enough to be handled. Gently remove their skin, split open, cut away the stem and seed base, and remove any excess seeds. Chop the chiles into 1/2 inch strips and set aside.

3. Make the tomato sauce : In a blender jar, pulse together the onion, diced tomatoes with their juice, chopped serrano chiles, garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt, to blend an almost smooth salsa ( some fine chunks are okay ). In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and carefully pour in the salsa. It may splatter a little but that's all right, just keep stirring. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. While the sauce is simmering, preheat the oven to 375 F and have ready a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan and a sheet of foil large enough to tightly cover the pan.

4. Assemble the casserole : Pour 1/2 cup of the sauce into the bottom of the pan and tilt it to spread it around. Using tongs, dip a tortilla into the pot of sauce and place it on the bottom of the pan. Continue with five more tortillas, dipping them in the sauce and overlapping them, spreading their edges a little up on the sides of the pan. Top with about half the crumbled potatoes and sliced poblanos, then ladle another 1/2 cup of sauce on top. Dip another tortilla in the sauce, layer it on top of the potatoes, and continue as before with five more tortillas. Finally, sprinkle the remaining potatoes and poblano strips on top. Tear any remaining tortilla into thick strips, dip them into the sauce, and spread them on top of the casserole. Pour any remaining sauce evenly over the casserole and cover with foil, crimping the edges tightly. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and take off the foil. Increase the oven temperature to 400 F.

5. Spread dollops of the Pine Nut Crema over the top of the steaming hot casserole. You don't have to be even about it; a few bits of the casserole showing underneath are fine. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the crema. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the top of the crema is golden and the seeds are toasted. If desired, broil the casserole for 4 to 5 minutes to continue browning spots of the crema, but watch carefully as not the burn the seeds.

Pine Nut Crema
Makes about 1 1/2 cups crema

* 12 ounces soft silken tofu
* 1/2 cup pine nuts
* 2 Tb lime juice
* 1 Tb olive or peanut oil
* 2 tsp cornstarch
* 1 clove garlic, grated
* 1 tsp salt

1. In a blender jar, pulse together the tofu, pine nuts, lime juice, olive oil, cornstarch, garlic and salt until smooth and creamy, scraping down the mixture several times with a rubber spatula. Taste and adjust the flavor with more salt and lime juice if desired.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chimichurri Baked Tofu

I've never heard of Chimichurri before but after looking it up, I found that it is very popular in Argentina and served with most proteins. It's said to be Argentina's version of pesto. This recipe is from my Viva Vegan cookbook ( I've been cooking a lot from it lately, too many good dishes! ). When making the sauce, it smelled really strong in vinegar and shallot..I was afraid that I was not going to like it. But after baking, the taste of the sauce completely changed and was not as strong as it once smelled.

Other ways to eat the sauce are in sandwiches, paired with empanadas and dabbed onto grilled tempeh and seitan. Also, like I've suggested before, if you chose to make it with tofu, I like to marinate it the night before, allowing the tofu to absorb the sauce as much as possible.

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

Serves 4, two slices each of tofu
Time : About 55 minutes

* 1 pound extra-firm tofu
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 1 Tb soy sauce
* Chimichurri Sauce with Smoked Paprika ( See Below )

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slice the tofu into eight 1/2 inch thick slices and dab the slices dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. In a shallow glass 9x12 inch baking dish, combine the olive oil and soy sauce. Lay a tofu slice in the baking dish, pressing it into the sauce mixture. Repeat with the remaining slices and bake for 30 minutes, flipping once, until the slices are beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from the oven but don't turn the oven off.

2. With a rubber spatula or large spoon, spread about a third of the chimichurri sauce evenly and completely over the tops of the tofu. Flip the slices and spread another third or slightly more on top of the tofu. If desired, use a fork to poke holes through the tofu, pressing a little bit of sauce into the center of the pieces. Bake for another 25 minutes, until the tofu is firm and the edges are golden brown. Bake longer if an even chewier texture is desired. Serve the tofu hot with remaining chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri Sauce with Smoked Paprika
Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce
Time : Less than 10 minutes

* 4 cloves garlic, chopped
* 2 large shallots, chopped
* 1 large bunch flat leaf ( Italian ) parsley, thick stems removed
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 3 Tb red wine vinegar
* 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
* 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1 tsp dried basil
* 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
* 1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Place the garlic, shallots and parsley into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Stream in the olive oil, red wine vinegar, paprika, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and sea salt, and pulse until creamy. Taste the sauce and adjust with more salt or red wine vinegar, if desired. Store in a tightly covered container and keep chilled until ready to use.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Peruvian Seitan and Potato Skewers ( Seitan Anticuchos )

Wow this recipe was amazing! So so amazing! And as you can probably tell from the recipe, a lot of work to make. Today is not a special occasion but I just had to try these skewers from my Viva Vegan cookbook. The So Good, So Green sauce is not necessary to make but it does add a nice touch. The seitan was like nothing I've ever tried before. Probably because I always buy my seitan from the market and only attempted at making my own once, when I really didn't know what I was doing in the kitchen. This meal is great for all the upcoming outdoor summer parties. I hope you all have the chance to try it. Again, so worth all the extra work!

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Steamed Red Seitan
Makes 4 seitan "loaves," each loaf serving 2, generously incorporated into entrees and other dishes
Time : Less than 45 minutes

( I found that the liquid was too much for the flour mixture. My seitan got drenched in liquid and I had to try to save it by adding more wheat gluten and chickpea flour. So please add a little liquid at a time and not just pour the entire thing in the bowl. )

* 1 1/2 cups cold vegetable broth
* 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or grated with a Microplane grater
* 3 Tb mild soy sauce
* 4 Tb tomato paste
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
* 1/4 cup chickpea ( garbanzo ) flour
* 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
* 1 tsp dried oregano
* 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1. In a measuring cup, whisk together the broth, garlic, soy sauce, tomato paste, and olive oil. In a large bowl, combine the wheat gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, oregano, and cumin and form a well in the center. Pour the liquid ingredients ( remember a little at a time )into the well and stir with a rubber spatula until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes to develop the gluten. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes; knead again for 30 seconds. Place the dough on a cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and lightly knead each piece a few times. Shape each into a roughly oblong loaf shape.

2. Tear off four 12 inch square sheets of aluminum foil. Place a piece of dough in the center of a piece of foil. Fold the short sides of foil over the loaf, then fold over the ends. The foil should be secure but there should be some loose space around the dough to allow it to expand during steaming. Repeat with the other three pieces of dough. Place the wrapped dough in a steamer basket and steam for 30 minutes. Allow the dough to cool to the touch before chilling in the fridge for an hour or overnight.

3. Store the seitan in the fridge, tightly sealed in a plastic bag or airtight container, for up to 2 weeks. Seitan can also be frozen ( wrapped tightly ), then thawed in the fridge for later use.

So Good, So Green Dipping Sauce ( Green Aji Sauce )
Makes about 2 cups sauce
Time : Less than 10 minutes, not including chilling time

* 1 to 3 fresh green chilies, such as jalapeno, or serrano, seeds removed for less heat, if desired
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
* 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 3 Tb lime juice
* 1/4 pound romaine lettuce ( about 1/4 of a large head ), thick base removed, leaves chopped coarsely
* 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, lightly packed
* 3 whole green onions, trimmed and chopped
* 3/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
* 2 to 4 Tb water

1. In a food processor or blender, blend all the ingredients except the water until smooth and creamy; stopping occasionally to scrape the sides or the processor bowl with a rubber spatula. Add a Tb of water at a time to thin the sauce to your desired consistency, if at all necessary. Taste the sauce and season with more lime juice or salt, if you like. Chill the sauce in a tightly covered container for 30 minutes or overnight before using. Keep chilled when not using.

Peruvian Seitan and Potato Skewers
Serves 2 to 3 generously as a main dish, or 4 as an appetizer
Time : About 45 minutes, including assembling the kebabs

* 1/2 recipe ( two loaves ) Steamed Red Seitan, or 3/4 pound seitan

Marinade :
* 5 cloves garlic
* 3 Tb aji panca paste or 3 tsp mild ground red chile powder, such as ancho
* 1/4 red wine vinegar
* 3 Tb peanut oil or vegetable oil
* 1 Tb agave syrup or brown sugar
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 1 tsp dried oregano
* 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper, or to taste

* 1 pound waxy potatoes, preferably very small new potatoes ( about the size of a Bing cherry or smaller )
* 1 bell pepper, red or green, seeded and sliced into 1 inch pieces ( optional )
* 1 large yellow onion, sliced into 1 inch pieces ( optional )
* 12 to 14 bamboo or metal skewers ( if using bamboo, presoak skewers according to the package directions )

1. Slice the seitan into bite-size cubes, about 1/2 inch across, and place in a large mixing bowl. If using onion or pepper slices, add along with the seitan. In another mixing bowl, use the Microplane grater to grate the garlic into the bowl. Add the aji panca paste, red wine vinegar, peanut oil, agave syrup, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper and stir until smooth with a whisk or fork. Pour the mixture over the seitan cubes and veggies ( if using ) and toss to coat completely with marinade.

2. While the seitan is marinating, cook the potatoes. Thoroughly clean the potatoes first, leaving the skins on. If you're using potatoes other than small new ones, cut them into bite size chunks; leave small new potatoes whole. Place in a large, heavy pot and add enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until they are tender but still hold their shape, 12 to 14 minutes. Drain and spread the potatoes on a dish to cool enough to handle.

3. When the potatoes have finished cooling, preheat your grill according to the manufacturer's directions. Since these are quick-cooking ingredients, you want your grill to have an evenly hot, not blazing, heat that can crisp the outside of these skewers without over drying the seitan. If you're using a grill pan, you'll probably need 6 to 8 minutes to get your grill ready to go over medium-high heat. Make sure to oil your grill well, as seitan and veggies ( even the marinade ) doesn't contain loads of fat to keep things from sticking. I like to use those new high-smoking-point cooking sprays ( including ones designed for grilling ) just for this.

4. Prepare your anticucho by alternating pieces of marinated seitan with onions, peppers, and an occasional potato piece on the skewers. Brush with additional marinade, taking care to especially coat the potatoes. place the kebabs on the preheated grill. Don't crowd the pan; leave enough room so the edges of the ingredients can cook evenly. Occasionally brush the cooking kebabs with leftover marinade. Cook on each side for 3 to 4 minutes, until the seitan and vegetables are browned on the edges and look juicy. If the ingredients stick to the grill, spray more oil onto the grilling surface. Take care not to overcook the skewers. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with a cold beer, any potato dish, and So Good, So Green Sauce, if desired.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chili-Glazed Tofu over Asparagus and Rice

The tofu in this recipe reminded me a lot of a Teriyaki marinade I've made in the past. The only real difference is that this one is a little spicy. If you can't handle much spice, try adding less chili sauce or no chili sauce, would also work. I would recommend marinating the tofu over night because the longer you let it sit in the sauce, the more the tofu will absorb the flavor. The rice tasted like a grown up version of fried rice and the asparagus and carrots went very well with this dish.

On another note, I haven't been really been myself lately..I feel like my mind is somewhere else. A pit bull that I love dearly has been diagnoised with cancer, again for the second time. The first time resulting in him losing his right leg. Currently his poor little body has five tumors and the doctors said he might have had a stroke recently. This is the first animal that will be passing soon, that I have gotten so attached to. To anyone who has lost a pet, my heart goes out to you. I never expected how painful this would be. This picture was taken Monday of my beloved Buddy.

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* 1.5 cups of long-grained rice, cooked
* 2 1/4 cups chopped asparagus ( about 1 pound )
* 1 Tb peanut oil
* 2 Tb sugar
* 4 Tb rice vinegar
* 4 Tb low sodium soy sauce
* 2 tsp ginger, minced
* 2 tsp hot chili sauce, such as Sriracha
* 1 pound Extra-Firm Tofu, drained and cut lengthwise into 6 pieces
* 1 cup, carrots, julienned
* 2 cloves of garlic, minced
* 1 tsp dark sesame oil

1. Combine sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and hot chili sauce in a medium sized bowl and mix well. Add cut tofu to the bowl and marinade for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

2. While rice you cook your rice, heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Add a little of the soy sauce mixture; cook 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

3. In a medium size wok or medium pan, add 1 Tb of olive oil and heat over medium flame. Add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until it become fragrant. Add carrots and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the start to soften up a little. Add asparagus and cook for another 2 minutes. Lastly, add the cooked rice and sesame oil and mix well.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Black Bean, Corn, and Zucchini Enchiladas

I've made so many different versions of enchiladas, from kale and potato, to faux chicken and cheese but these have to be one of my favorite veggie combinations. I made mine with cheddar cheese, which was a first for me, and surprisingly tasted wonderful. The enchilada sauce recipe is from Veganomicon but if you are short on time, a can of enchilada sauce will work too. But if you can, I highly recommend making the sauce. It's a little spicy and full of so good!

Makes 8 Enchiladas

Ingredients - Enchilada Sauce
* 2 Tb grapeseed or olive oil
* 1 onion, cut into small dice
* 3 large green chiles ( such as Anaheim or even Italian-style long green peppers ), roasted, seeded, peeled and chopped coarsely
* 2-3 tsp chile powder, preferably ancho
* 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
* 1 tsp marjoram or Mexican oregano
* 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice ( roasted preferred )
* 1 tsp sugar
* 1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt

Directions - Enchilada Sauce
1. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, saute the onions in oil for 4 to 7 minutes, until softened. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, bring to a simmer, and remove from heat.

2. When the mixture has cooled enough, taste and adjust the salt if necessary.

3. Puree with an immersion or regular blender until the mixture is smooth and even.

Ingredients - Enchiladas
* 1 tsp olive oil
* 2 cups diced tomatoes
* 1 10 ounce package of frozen whole kernel corn ( or the kernels from 1 large corn ear )
* 1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 recipe Enchilada Sauce
* 8 corn tortillas
* 2 cups ( 8 ounces ) vegan cheddar cheese, shredded ( I used Daiya Cheddar cheese but any other type of cheese would work well with this too )

Directions - Enchiladas
1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups zucchini and corn; sauté for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat, and stir in beans.

2. Spread 1 cup Enchilada Sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Spoon about 1/2 cup zucchini mixture down center of 1 tortilla; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese, and roll up. Place seam-side down in baking dish. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas, zucchini mixture, and vegan cheese. Spread remaining 2 cups sauce evenly over enchiladas.

3. Cover with foil; bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover; top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until cheese melts.

Blog Awards

There's been cute posts floating around where people are awarding their fellow bloggers and every time someone gets awarded they must speak a little about themselves. My award was given to me by Rikki Cupcake, who writes an awesome blog called Seitanic Vegan Heathen. She was one of the first blogs I added when I first came on here. I love how she always posts great recipes with step by step pictures. Lately, she's been interviewing other vegans and posting their responses on her blog. I don't know about you, but I love learning about about why other people went vegan and how they feel about it. Such a great spin to your blog Rikki! Thank you for nominating me and I encourage everyone to go follow her blog!

Okay, so the rules of the Blog Awards is to first thank the person who nominated you, which I just did. And then second, share seven things about myself. So here it goes...

1. As you might already know I have one kitty named Taffy. He was a street cat that I used to see wondering my block and one day I decided to go up to him and see if he would let me pet him. And he did! Since then a friendship was born and I now consider him my own. His life has totally transformed...he's gained a little weight and now has only eats the best food. Although he does get mad at me sometimes, I think deep down he loves me back.

2. The only other country that I have traveled to, other than Mexico, is Japan. I am absolutely in love with Japan. Tokyo was one of the cleanest cities I have ever been too. But what was funny was that trash cans were so hard to come across. Japan also has some of the nicest people you will ever met. When asking for directions, people went above and beyond my expectations, Walking me all the way out the building, to the street to help point me in the right direction. Japan is definetly somewhere that I would love to visit again.

3. My favorite show is America's Next Top Model. I've been watching it since I was a senior in high school, seven years ago. It's funny because my boyfriend got into photography four years ago..which turned to specifically fashion photography two years ago...and within the last year has shot two of the top contensents from the show. Funny that the people I used to idolize are now being photographed by my boyfriend.

4. I believe in ghosts. Maybe its because of all the ghost stories my mom claimed happened to her when she was a kid in Mexico. But then even as a young child myself, I used to hear weird noises and footsteps in my house. It was really creepy..I just remember hiding beneath the blankets every night.But then thankfully one day, it all just stopped. I wanna just think it was my imagination but I really don't know. Makes me really think about this whole life after death thing and maybe there really is something on the other side. Sorry I hope I didn't creep anyone out haha

5. I started collecting Uglydolls and other Japanese dolls back in 2005. Im not sure exactly how many I have but I know it's a lot. Sadly, during the past two years, my collecting has stopped. I think it was because I ran out of room to display them all. If they must be kept in storage bins, I really don't feel the urge to buy them anymore. Hopefully, when I have more room, my collection will start up again.

6. I am a total night person. I love how the streets get so empty and the house so quiet late at night. When its possible, I love staying up until 3 am and just drawing or learning something new. If it was possible, I would probably be nocturnal, just like Taffy.

7. Lastly, I love tea...white tea to be exact. It can be 90 degrees outside and I'll still crave a cup. Been drinking tea and coffee since I was really young. Finally gave up coffee last year...which in turn, has increased how many cups of tea I drink. But hey, at least white tea is really healthy.

Now I am suppose to nominate 15 other blogs but instead I am going to nominate all my followers. I would really love to learn more about each of you and this post was really fun to do : ]

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pasta E Fagioli

Today I decided to make Pasta E Fagoioli, which when translated means, pasta and beans. The best part about this dish is that you get to make your own pasta sauce, and I don't mean buying a can of diced tomatoes and seasoning it. The taste difference between using a can of tomatoes and dicing fresh tomatoes is enormous. The time required to make this pasta is very little and it is also very filling. This would work great as a weekend dinner or something to serve to guests.

On another note, I hope everyone has a happy and safe Fourth of July tomorrow! What's everyone's plans? I am not quite sure yet where I want to go. I wish I could have a little barbecue in the backyard but out here in Southern California, fireworks are not allowed in residential areas. Oh and I hear somewhere that the Fourth of July is the day that the most dogs run away from home. So if any of you have dogs, please make sure they are in a place where they cannot go wondering off. I think I am going to bring my cat in for the night..I don't know if it's a Siamese thing but he gets very jumpy to any little thing. But anyways, once again, I hope everyone has an awesome day tomorrow! : ]

Serves 2-4

Ingredients - For the Sauce
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 6 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 pounds plum tomatoes, diced medium
* 1/4 cup dry white wine or vegetable broth
* 1/2 tsp dried thyme
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* a few dashes of black pepper
* 1 tsp salt

Ingredients - For the pasta
* 16 oz can white beans, washed and drained
* 1/2 pound small tube pasta, like penette or tubetti, or even small shells

1. Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta and preheat another large pan over medium heat. Add the oil and garlic to the large pan and saute for about 1 minute, until garlic is fragrant. Add the tomatoes, wine, thyme, oregano, black pepper and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium heat until the tomatoes are broken down and sauce is reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, add pasta to the water and cook according to package directions. Once the sauce is thickened, simmer on low heat to keep warm. Drain pasta and set aside.

3. When sauce is finished, add the beans and pasta and use a pasta spoon to mix. Serve when pasta and beans are heated through, about 3 minutes.