Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stuffed Poblano Chiles over Forbidden Black Rice Risotto with Roasted Corn-Avocado Abdi

This meal made me feel like I was eating it by the beach on some tropical island. What originally drew me to this recipe was the roasted poblano peppers. I used to love eating Chile Rellanos, which is a Mexican dish consisting of poblano peppers that are stuffed with melted cheese. So I knew I just had to try this because it sounded a little similar and definitely healthier.

Everything went so well together and again, I am not a huge tempeh fan but this I can do. The black rice I was a little iffy about...chocolate, curry rice? Didn't sound that appealing but it did sound different and so I wanted to see what it would taste like. I am glad I did because it was really good and so different from what I normally eat. I found mine at the bulk section in Whole Foods but if you can't find any, mixing 2 parts Arborio with 1 part Thai black or purple rice would also work.

I would save this recipe for special occasions only because it did take me about 2 hours to make. But what I do love about it, is it is very versitle. The tempeh pepper ragout smelled just like fajitas and therefore, would go great wrapped up in some whole wheat flour tortilla. The roasted corn avocado abdi was so crisp and refreshing that it could be served alone or as a side dish for another meal, such as a sandwich. I am thinking about making this again next time I want to really impress my friends.

Serves 6


Jerk Marinade

* 2 tsp olive oil
* 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
* 1 clove garlic
* 1/2 serrano chile
* 2 Tb Sucanat ( or any raw sugar )
* 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
* 1/4 cup tamari
* 1/2 bunch cilantro
* 1 tsp dried thyme
* 1/4 tsp ground cloves
* 1/2 tsp ground allspice
* 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
* 1/2 cup vegetable stock or water

Roasted Corn-Avocado Abdi

* 1 red onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
* 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
* Kernels from 1 ear corn
* 4 to 6 kumquats, sliced, or 4 to 6 orange segments
* 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
* 1 tsp dried oregano
* 1 tsp allspice berries, grounded
* 1/4 bunch cilantro, stemmed and finely chopped

Forbidden Black Rice Risotto

* 2 Tb olive oil
* 1 red onion, cut into small dice
* 1 carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
* 1 celery stalk, cut into small dice
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tsp curry powder
* 2 tsp ancho or guajillo chile powder
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
* 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
* 1/2 cup cashew cream
* salt

Tempeh-Pepper Ragout

* 16 ounces tempeh, cut into 1 inch dice
* 1/4 cup canola oil
* 1 red onion, cut into large dice
* 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2 inch dice
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 3 to 4 red, yellow, purple and green peppers, cut into large dice
* 1 medium-ripe plantain, peeled and diced
* 2 tsp chile powder
* 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
* vegetable stock
* salt and freshly ground black pepper

* Juice of 1 lime
* 1/2 habanero chile, seeded, plus more as needed
* 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
* salt
* 6 poblano chiles
* 6 cilantro springs, for garnish


To Make the Marinade
1. Place a saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and saute for 10 minutes or until carmelized.

2. Transfer to a blender and add the remaining ingredients. Blend on low to form a thick, smooth paste.

To Make the Abdi
1. Preheat the broiler. Place the corn on baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes, or until some of the kernels start to brown.

2. Mix the onions, carrots, corn, kumquats, cucumber, oregano, allspice, and cilantro in a bowl and set aside.

To Make the Risotto
1. Place a deep skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, or until soft.

2. Add the curry, chile powder, cinnamon, chocolate, and rice and stir well. Stir in the stock. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

3. Remove the lid and simmer, stirring often, for 5 to 10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.

4. Stir in the cashew cream and add salt to taste. Remove from the heat.

To Make the Ragout
1. Preheat the broiler. Put half of the jerk marinade in a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of the canola oil and the tempeh.

2. Place the tempeh on a baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes or untl dry and browned.

3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, and saute for 5 minutes or until just soft.

4. Add the peppers, plantain, chile powder, cumin, and the remaining jerk marinade and saute for 10 minutes, or untl the peppers are soft. Add the stock, if needed, to prevent scorching.

5. Remove from the heat, and add the tempeh. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To Make the Chiles
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the chiles on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, slit the chiles lengthwise, and remove the seeds and membrane. Fill each chile with about 1 cup of the ragout and return to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until heated through.

To Finish the Abdi
1. In a blender, blend the lime juice and the habanero with 1/4 cup of the abdi mix. Combine with the rest of the abdi. Gently stir in the avocado and add salt to taste.

To Serve
Place an equal mounds of the risotto on each plate. Top with a chile, and surround with some of the abdi. Garnish with a cilantro spring.

Nutritional Info :
Per Stuffed Chile : 330 calories, 17 g protein, 36.8 g carbohydrate, 15 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 42 mg sodium, 7.6 g fiber

Per 2 Tablespoons Marinade : 14 calories, 0.6 g protein, 2.9 g carbohydrate, 0.1 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 252 mg sodium, 0.2 g fiber

Per Serving Abdi : 125 calories, 2.8 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 5.4 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 15 mg sodium, 4.5 g fiber

Per Serving Risotto : 315 calories, 7.8 g protein, 46 g carbohydrate, 12.9 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 30 mg sodium, 5.7 g fiber

Monday, August 30, 2010

Broad Noodles with Southeast Asian Peanut Pesto and Five Spice Baked Tofu

This meal was a definite wow! If you don't feel like making the entire dish, the tofu alone is still a must try and would go great with some brown rice and veggies. Are most of you like me and cook food from many different cultures? If so then the ingredients listed should be something you already have in your pantry. If not, then it might be a pain to buy all the Asian ingredients needed. But I will again urge you to at least try the tofu, that is if you like Asian food.

There's only one thing listed that will be hard for most people to find and that's the Kaffir lime leaves. Would you believe that I've never heard of them before but after looking up what it was, realized that I have the tree in my backyard! My boyfriend's mom addes the juice from the limes to her conditioner all the time. It's said to help promote healthy hair. I never knew that the leaves were also useful until now. The leaves of the tree smell really lime-y but also have a really unique smell that I can't really describe. If anyone wants, I will be happy to mail you the two leaves needed. But I think the leaves aren't a must have and the pesto will be just fine, if you choose not to add them.

I also couldn't find Chinese broccoli at my local market and had to settle with regular good ol' broccoli and that worked out just fine. Oh and the last thing was I forgot to purchase peanuts when I went to the market yesterday, so I had to make the pesto with almonds. You can totally play around with the ingredients needed, as I did and still get a great result. This meal took me about an hour and a half to make, including clean up...not too bad for how great the end result was!

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

Serves 4

Five Spice Tofu
* 3 Tb tamari
* 3 Tb mirin
* 1 Tb toasted sesame oil
* 1 tsp unrefined sugar
* 1 1/2 tsp five-spice powder
* 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
* 1 lb firm tofu, pressed and drained, cut into 1/2 inch thick by 2 inch long strips

Peanut Pesto
* 1/2 cup fresh peanuts, toasted
* 1/2 bunch cilantro
* 1/2 bunch mint
* 2 fresh Kaffir lime leaves
* 4 cloves garlic
* 1 serrano or Thai chile, seeded
* 1 Tb peeled and minced fresh ginger
* 2 tsp sesame oil
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp grated lime zest
* 1 Tb white miso
* Juice of 2 limes

Broad Noodles
* 1 tsp canola oil
* 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 head Chinese broccoli, sliced into bite sized pieces
* 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
* 3/4 lb fettucine, cooked al dente

To Make the Tofu
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a mixing bowl, combine the tamari, mirin, sesame oil, sugar, five spice powder, and peppercorns to make the marinade.
2. Place the tofu strips in the marinade and toss to coat. Place the tofu on a baking pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until light brown. Turn the tofu and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Baste with more marinade and cook for 10 minutes, or until the tofu has a caramel glaze. Set aside.

To Make the Pesto
1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Blend, adding water as needed, to achieve a smooth, thin paste. ( Store refrigerated, in an airtight container, for up to 2 days. )

To Make the noodles
1. Heat the canola oil in a wok or large nonstick saute pan over high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 30 seconds, or until just browned.
2. Add the broccoli and bell peppers and saute for 1 minute, or until lightly wilted.
3. Add the tofu, followed by the pesto and the pasta, and cook for 3 minutes, or until heated through.
4. Add a small amount of water to thin out the sauce if needed, and toss well. Add salt to taste.

Nutritional Info :
Per Serving : 603 calories, 28 g protein, 71 g carbohydrate, 21 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1600 mg sodium, 12.3 g fiber

Per 1/3 cup Pesto : 154 calories, 6 g protein, 8.6 g carbohydrate, 11 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 636 mg sodium, 2.9 g fiber

Per Serving Tofu : 145 calories, 10 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 763 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

I'll be going to the Hollywood Cemetery again tonight to watch another movie under the stars and listen to some good music. Tonight is the last showing and I just had to take advantage of it, since there will be no more until next summer.

I made some grilled veggie sandwiches, lentil soup and these very yummy cookies for my picnic dinner with my friends. These cookies reminded me of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups but in a cookie form. I'll be giving most of them away to all my friends and eating what is left for breakfast tomorrow with a tall glass of soy milk.

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

Makes 2 dozen cookies

For the Chocolate Dough
* 1/2 cup canola oil
* 1 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
* 3 Tb non-dairy milk
* 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 2 Tb black unsweetened cocoa powder or more regular unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 1/4 tsp salt

For the Filling
* 3/4 cup natural salted peanut butter, crunchy or creamy style
* 2/3 cup powdered sugar
* 2 to 3 Tb soy creamer or nondairy milk
* 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, sugar, maple syrup, non-dairy milk, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Sift in flour, cocoa powder, black cocoa powder if using, baking soda, and salt. Mix to form a moist dough.

2. Make the peanut butter filling : In another mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together peanut butter, powdered sugar, 2 Tb of the soy creamer, and vanilla to form a moist but firm dough. If peanut butter is dry and crumbly, stir in the remaining Tb of non-dairy milk. If dough is too wet, knead in a little extra powdered sugar.

3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Shape the Cookies
1. Create the centers of the cookies by rolling the peanut butter dough into 24 balls. Scoop a generous tablespoon of chocolate dough, flatten into a thin disc, and place a peanut butter ball in the center. Fold the sides of the chocolate dough up and around the peanut butter center and roll into a smooth ball between your palms. Place on a sheet of waxed paper and repeat with remaining dough. If desired, gently flatten cookies slightly, but this is not necessary.

2. Place the dough balls on lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cookies stand for 5 minutes before moving them to wired racks to complete cooling. Store cookies in tightly covered container. If desired, warm cookies in a microwave for 10 to 12 seconds before serving.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Santa Monica Cat Show

Being a huge cat lover I just had to go check out the cat show happening in Santa Monica, Ca right now. It's going on again tomorrow, if anyone lives in the Los Angeles area. I seriously must have said 'awww' 100 times today. So many cute faces and so many cats in need of a home. Most got adopted and I am hoping that the ones that didn't, will tomorrow.

This cat was my favorite. I think because his little card said he was very scared. Makes me think of my Taffy. If it was possible I would have taken him home but Taffy doesn't get along with any other cats.

and now some of the other cats at the show...ENJOY! : ]

Friday, August 27, 2010


Gazpacho is a cold raw vegetable soup that originated in Spain. Since the weather has been warm, I figured this would be perfect to serve alongside some sandwiches. I loved chopping up all the fresh veggies and fruit and adding them to the blender. The smell was just so crisp and fresh. This makes for a great appetizer or side dish.

Serves 8 to 10

* 4 cups tomato juice
* 1 onion, minced
* 1 green bell pepper, minced
* 1 cucumber, chopped
* 2 cups chopped tomatoes
* 2 green onions, chopped
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
* 1 teaspoon dried basil
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
* 1 teaspoon sugar or agave nectar
* salt and pepper to taste

1. In a blender or food processor, combine tomato juice, onion, bell pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, tarragon, basil, parsley, sugar, salt, and pepper. Blend until well-combined but still slightly chunky. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.


Tempeh isn't one of my most favorite things to eat but surprisingly, tempeh bacon has got me hooked. The taste is so similar to real bacon and because the tempeh was sliced thinly, the grainy texture that I hate wasn't there. What a guilt free way to eat bacon.

I marinated mine overnight and did a quick 15 minute bake this afternoon. Served on whole wheat bagels with a little Veganaise and of course, lettuce and tomatoes. So simple, so good!

Tempeh Bacon

* 1 ( 8-oz pkg ) tempeh, sliced into 24 very thin slices or as many as you can slice
* 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
* 2 Tb apple cider vinegar
* 1 tsp light brown sugar
* 1/2 tsp ground cumin
* 1/2 tsp ancho chile powder
* 2 tsp liquid smoke, optional
* 1 Tb canola oil
* Smoked paprika, optional

1. Lay tempeh slices in 2 13- x 9-inch baking dishes. Bring soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, cumin, ancho chile powder, and ½ cup water to a boil in small saucepan. Boil 1 minute, then remove from heat, and stir in liquid smoke, if using. Pour over tempeh slices. Let cool, then cover and chill 2 hours, or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Carefully transfer tempeh slices to prepared baking sheet, and discard marinade.

3. Brush slices with canola oil, and sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Flip tempeh slices, brush with oil, and bake 5 to 7 minutes more, or until crisp and dark brown.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vegetable and Orzo Casserole & A Taffy Video

I got this recipe from Martha Stewart's site. My first time making any of her recipes and this one attracted me because I had most of the ingredients lying around my house already.

I am also trying to get my boyfriend to like yellow squash..there's just so much that he doesn't like...mushrooms, eggplant, raisins, etc. It makes cooking really hard when you have a picky eater. On the plus side, I noticed that the more I cook the vegetables he claims to hate, the more he slowly starts to like them.

Since the casserole is mostly orzo pasta with added veggies, I added marinara to the original recipe. Serve this with a slice of garlic bread for a really yummy meal.

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* 1 cup breadcrumbs
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
* Extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 pound orzo pasta
* 2 small yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
* 2 small bulbs fennel, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 1 small red onion, julienned
* 5 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1-inch pieces
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped
* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
* Marinara sauce and/or Soy Parmesan cheese ( optional )

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Divide butternut squash between two baking sheets, spreading in an even layer. Drizzle each baking sheet with 2 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to oven and roast until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 5 minutes; drain and transfer to bowl with squash.

5. Heat 1 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer fennel to bowl with squash and orzo.

6. Return skillet to medium heat and add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, garlic, and 1/4 cup water; let simmer until tomatoes begin to soften, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to bowl with orzo, squash, and fennel. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Transfer orzo mixture to a 3-quart baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle top with bread crumb mixture. Return baking dish to oven and bake, uncovered, until panko is toasted, about 10 minutes more.

Serve with marinara sauce and soy parmesan cheese if desired.

And now for a very pointless video of Taffy. Just him being himself on his very favorite spot, the hamper! Hope you all enjoy.
P.S. He does nothing in the end haha I still find it entertaining to watch : ]

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Brownies

I know we're so far away from Halloween and all the pumpkin goodness that comes along with it but I couldn't help making these scrumptious pumpkin brownies. I got the recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's cookbook "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar." I swear those two have never disappointed me.

I had my boyfriend's two nieces taste test them and they said they were very, very good. I was afraid that they would turn out dry because most vegan brownies are but these were so moist. If any of you are like me and can eat pumpkin pie any day of the year, this is a must try recipe.

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Makes 8 Brownies

For the Brownie Layer
* 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
* 1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin ( not pumpkin pie filling )
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup canola oil
* 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup flour
* 1/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
* 1 Tb tapioca flour ( or arrowroot powder or cornstarch )
* 1/4 tsp baking soda
* 1/4 tsp salt

For the Pumpkin Layer
* 3/4 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
* 2 Tb tapioca flour ( or use arrowroot powder or cornstarch )
* 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
* 1/4 tsp ground ginger
* 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
* A pinch of ground nutmeg
* A pinch of ground allspice

To Decorate
A handful of chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 inch spring form pan, or use a 9 inch square pan, preferably lined with parchment paper.

To Make the Brownie Layer
1. Melt the chocolate. Either use a double broiler. Which consists of a set of fitted glass pots that safely melt chocolate without the risk of burning it. You can also fake this setup by resting a small pan inside a larger one filled with enough water to cover the bottom of the small pan, but not so much that it will overflow. An easier, faster way to melt chocolate is in a microwave. Heat chocolate in a microwave safe glass bowl for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes at 60% heat ( low power ) - just enough to make chips soft and easily form a melted mass when stirred. Because it burns so easily, never use high microwave powder when melting chocolate.

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the pumpkin, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, tapioca flour, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine, then mix in the melted chocolate.

To Make the Pumpkin Layer
1. Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.

To Assemble
1. Use a spatula to spread the brownie layer mixture into the prepared baking pan, taking care to bring the batter to the edges of the pan. Pour the pumpkin layer over it, leaving a little room at the edges if you can. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pumpkin layer looks fairly firm ( a little jiggling is okay ) and has cracked at the edges a bit.

2. Let the brownies cool for 20 minutes and then transfer the pan to the fridge to set for at least an hour and a half. Once set, decorate with chocolate chips, slice into wedges and serve.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Orzo with Roasted Veggies

Tonight I'll be going to the Hollywood Cemetery to watch Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with some of my friends. I found out recently that they play movies every Saturday out in the courtyard and people can bring food while they watch the featured movie. It sounded like so much fun and I needed a meal that could be eaten cold, while still being super yummy and more than just a sandwich or hot dogs.

So I roasted some veggies and tossed it with orzo and lemon juice. I love how roasting the veggies gave them a crisp exterior but stayed moist on the inside. Roasting also takes the bitterness away from the veggies and leaves them with a slightly sweet taste. This dish is definitely something that will impress my friends, while still being a simple dish.

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

* 1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
* 1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
* 1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
* 1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
* 1 cup white button mushrooms, sliced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/3 cup good olive oil
* 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 pound orzo or rice-shaped pasta
* 1/4 cup pitted black olives
* 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
* Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

* 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
* 1/3 cup good olive oil
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.

3. Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

4. For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables.

5. Let cool to room temperature, then garnish with tomatoes and parsley. Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

Sweet and Spicy Seitan-Potato Empanadas

Okay so now I can say I've made tamales and empanadas from scratch. These were a lot of work to make and why am I doing them for just an everyday Friday, I have no idea. I think I just like making them, just to say I've made them than saving them for a special occasion. These were really good, the dough became really crunchy when baked and turned this beautiful golden brown color.

The recipe says it makes 12 empanadas but I was only able to make 8. I think this happened because I didn't roll the dough thin enough. But when the dough circles were a little thin, it tended to break when folding and assembling. Maybe I just need more practice since this was my first time making them.

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

Makes about a dozen 6 inch Empanadas
Time : About 1 1/2 hours with baking and cooling the filling, not including making pastry dough circles

* 1 recipe Wheat Empanada Dough, well chilled ( recipe below )
* 1 pound waxy potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
* 1 large carrot, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes ( about 1 cup )
* 3 Tb olive or peanut oil
* 1/2 recipe ( two loaves ) Steamed Red Seitan, diced into 1/2 inch cubes, Recipe Here ( or about two cups of store bought seitan )
* 4 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1/2 pound yellow onion, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
* 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
* 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 2 tsp red hot chile sauce or paste, or more to taste
* A generous twist of freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
* 1/2 cup dark raisins
* 2/3 cup sliced green olives
* 1 2/3 cups rich vegetable broth
* 4 tsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
* 1 Tb sugar
* 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

1. Place the potatoes and carrots in a heavy saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes just start to turn tender but are not mushy, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain in a colander over the sink and rinse with cold water to stop the vegetables from cooking further. Leave the colander in the sink to drain any excess water.

2. Now make the seitan veggie filling. If desired, you can do this step in advance and keep the filling chilled until it's time to bake the empanadas. In a heavy bottom pot, heat 1 Tb of the oil over medium heat and add the diced seitan, sauteing for 5 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Transfer to a plate. Heat the remaining 2 Tb of oil over medium heat and add the garlic and onions, frying until the onion becomes soft and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the cumin, oregano, and hot sauce and grind a few twists of pepper over everything. Add the seitan, drained potatoes and carrots, peas, raisins, and olives and fry for about 2 minutes.

3. While the seitan mixture cooks, use a wire whisk or a fork to beat the vegetable broth, arrowroot, sugar and salt in a mixing cup until dissolved. Add to the seitan mixture and stir occasionally until the mixture starts to boil. The mixture will begin to thicken now, so switch to stirring constantly until a thin gravy has formed. Taste the gravy, it's fully cooked when no chalky texture remains. Adjust the seasoning, if needed, by adding more salt, pepper, or even hot sauce, if desired. Remove from the heat and allow the filling to cook for at least 25 minutes. It should be cooked enough to handle easily.

4. When ready to assemble the empanadas, preheat the oven to 400 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. You may want to use baking sheets with a raised edge for these emapanadas, as juices may bubble out.

5. Take a dough round, place it on a lightly floured surface, and gently stretch it slightly outward by its edges. Scoop up a generous 1/3 cup of filling ( making sure to scoop up some of the gravy ) into the center of the round, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space along the edges of the dough and pinch together to a form a "purse" to help prevent the gravy from spilling out. Continue to press the edges together and work toward the top to create a bottom heavy, half circular purse like shape. Now really press those edges of the dough together, enough to squish the dough out to create an edge 1/2 inch wide. Carefully crimp the edges and tuck them under. It's an important step to make sure all the filling is secured inside the crust.

6. Gently lift the empanada by hand ( or use a thin spatula ) and place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the top and sides generously with soy creamer. Continue with the rest of the dough and filling, dividing the filling equally among the dough rounds.

7. Bake the empanadas for 28 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the edges are browned. A little of the filling may bubble out of the edges, but as you get better at crimping the edges of the dough it won't be much of an issue. Allow them to cool for 6 to 8 minutes before serving, as the filling will be extremely hot right out of the oven.

Wheat Empanada Dough

Makes about a dozen 6 inch dough rounds
Time : About 35 minutes, not including the chilling time

* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1 1/4 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 6 Tb chilled non-hydrogenated vegan shortening
* 4 Tb chilled non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
* 3/4 cup cold water, or more as needed

1. In a food processor bowl, pulse together the flour, salt, and baking powder for a few seconds. Slice the shortening and margarine into 1/2 inch chunks, add to the food processor, and pulse until everything resembles fine, sand like crumbs. If your food processor bowl is small, prepare everything in two batches. If you prefer, you can also use a large fork or pastry cutter to blend the fats into the flour.

2. Pour the flour mixture into a large bowl and stream in the cold water while mixing the dough with your fingers. Continue adding just enough cold water that you can press the mixture together to form a soft and stretchy dough. Briefly knead a few times, divide into two balls, flatten each into a round about an inch thick, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Handle the dough minimally to keep it from getting tough. Chill it overnight or for at least 4 hours.

3. Tear about 10 pieces of waxed paper to about 7 inches square and keep them near your workspace. Lightly dust a large, stable rolling surface and a rolling pin with all purpose flour. Roll one of the dough roughs about 3/8 inch thick, stretching and pulling the dough a little if necessary. To keep the dough from getting tough, use long rolling motions, occasionally lifting the dough by the edges and turning it a little to ensure an even thickness throughout.

4. Using a 6 inch diameter bowl pressed into the dough as a guide, take a small, sharp paring knife and run it around the edge of the bowl to cut out circles. Or, use a huge round cookie or biscuit cutter. Stack the circles of dough on top of one another, separating them with the waxed paper pieces to keep them from sticking. Chill the dough scraps, while you roll and cut the remaining unworked dough into rounds. Gather up all the remaining dough scraps, reroll them only one more time, and cut out as many circles as possible.

5. Chill the finished dough circles, the entire stack well wrapped in plastic wrap while preparing the filling, or store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Keep the empanada dough chilled until you're ready to fill and bake them.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Asparagus Quiche with Tomatoes and Tarragon

My first time making and eating quiche and now I am a huge fan. I always thought 'warm, vegetable pie? I am not sure if I'd like it'. But it actually is really tasty and it turned out so pretty that I dreaded slicing it.

I bought a much needed tart pan just for this meal at Williams Sonoma for under $10. I would suggest purchasing one, if you don't have one already. The main reason why I got the pan and didn't just use a pie dish is because the bottom comes out. That makes removing the quiche from the pan so easy.

The only problem I encountered while making this was with the crust. Everything was fine until it came time to roll it. The texture was really crumbly and started to break apart as I rolled. So I ended up rolling it out a little and then just grabbing and pressing pieces into my tart pan until the entire thing was covered with dough. I don't know why it turned out crumbly, anyone have any ideas? Maybe I did something wrong? Water or shortening not cold enough I was thinking.

But anyways, I made the crust and the filling the night before, to help cut down on the time needed in the morning. It's just getting too hot to spend so much time in the kitchen during the day time. So when morning came, all I had to do with put everything together and do a quick bake. The end result was totally worth all the work and now I want to experiment with other quiche recipes.

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Asparagus Quiche with Tomatoes and Tarragon

Time - 1 hour 30 minutes, plus cooling time
Serves 6 to 8

* 1 recipe Basic Single Pastry Crust or a Pre-Made Pastry Crust ( Recipe Below )
* 4 Tb olive oil
* 1 pound asparagus, rough ends discarded
* 2 shallots, skins removed, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic
* 1 cup walnuts
* 1 1/2 cups cooked navy beans, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
* 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh tarragon, plus 2 Tb finely chopped
* 2 Tb cornstarch
* 3/4 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
* Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
* 1/3 cup plain whole wheat bread crumbs
* 4 slices beefsteak or Holland tomato, or any really big tomato

1. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut the tips off four pieces of the asparagus and set aside for garnish. Slice the rest into 1/2 inch lengths.

2. Saute the asparagus ( except for the reserved tips ) in a tablespoon of the olive oil for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. While the asparagus is cooking, place the walnuts, the 1/4 cup of tarragon, and the nutmeg, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse into crumbs, so that no whole walnuts are left.

4. Remove the asparagus from the pan and transfer to a shallow bowl to cool a bit. Saute the shallots in another tablespoon of the olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 3 more minutes, being careful not to burn it. Transfer the shallots and garlic to the asparagus and let cool for a few more minutes.

5. When the vegetables have stopped steaming, add them to the food processor. Pulse a few times and scrape down the sides. Add the beans and puree until relatively smooth, although the walnuts will still be grainy. Add the cornstarch ( sift first, if very clumpy ) and pulse until thoroughly combined. Transfer the mixture to a bowl ( use the bowl the veggies were cooling in, to cut down on dish duties ), cover, and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Roll out the pastry dough to fit an 8 inch glass pie plate. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.

7. Remove the baked crust from the oven. Spoon the asparagus filling into the crust and smooth out evenly. Sprinkle the top with half the bread crumbs and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Then, place the tomato slices on top of the bread crumbs with an asparagus tip between each tomato. Sprinkle on the remaining bread crumbs, some freshly ground black pepper, a few pinches of salt, and the chopped tarragon. Drizzle again with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

8. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Basic Single Pastry Crust

Time - 20 minutes, plus chill time
Makes 1 pastry crust

* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 Tb sugar
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp baking powder
* 1/3 cup cold non-hydrogenated vegan shortening
* 1/4 cup cold water, plus 2 Tb if needed
* 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the shortening by the teaspoon, but you don't need to be precise about this. You just want to add it in small chunks in three batches and then cut it into flour with each additional.

2. Cut the shortening in until the dough in crumbly and pebbly.

3. Combine the vinegar with 1/4 cup of the water. Add the mixture to the dough in three batches, gently mixing it into the dough with a fork, until the dough holds together when pinched. If need be, add up to 2 tablespoons more water.

4. Gather the dough into a ball and knead gently a few times, just until it holds together. Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour, then flatten the ball into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

5. When ready to roll out the crust, place a large piece of baking parchment on your work surface. Unwrap the dough and place it on the parchment. Sprinkle your rolling pin with flour and roll the dough into a 12 inch circle. It may slip around a bit from the parchment, but that's okay, just work steadily and gently. Your crust is now ready to use.

6. Lift the parchment and flip the crust into a pie plate. Tuck in and trim the edges.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gumbo with Wild Rice, Baked BBQ Black Eyed Peas and Jalapeño Onion Cornbread

I've been craving soul food lately and there's really only one place that I know of that serves vegan soul food called Stuff I Eat. The only problem is their food runs at about $18 a person. It comes with a little more than I made but still, I am not about to drop that much on food when I can just make it myself. I chose Gumbo because I have never ate it before and was curious about how it tasted. I know there's no seafood, so it probably doesn't taste exactly like the traditional version but in my opinion, the vegan version I made was just as good. I love soups where I can add many different types of greens (especially cabbage mmm).

The baked beans were also really good, with a hint of spiciness, thanks to the cayenne. Molasses can be substituted for the agave nectar and would add a little more flavor. The cornbread was exactly what I made two days ago but this time I took the advice of what most of you said and added jalapeños. It does give it a little extra something...making it look so much nicer and adding another flavor than just corn. Thank everyone for the suggestion! : ]

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Gumbo With Wild Rice
Serves 6 to 8

* 3 Tb olive oil or vegetable oil
* 3 Tb flour
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 3 Tb chopped green onions
* 1/2 Tb chopped garlic
* 2 to 3 small bay leaves
* 3 quarts vegetable stock
* 1 cup wild rice
* Salt
* Cayenne, to taste
* Pinch ground thyme
* 2 pounds mixed greens (1/2 pound each spinach, collard greens, turnip
greens and cabbage leaves), tough stems removed and coarsely chopped
* Up to 2 Tb all-purpose flour, as a thickening agent, optional

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add the flour, stirring until toasted and peanut butter colored, about 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the onion, green onion, and garlic, cooking until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the bay leaves, stock, wild rice, 1 teaspoon salt, cayenne to taste, and thyme.

3. Bring to a boil, add greens, a handful at a time, stirring until wilted before adding next bunch. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Taste and adjust seasoning—greens should be tender and slightly spicy; add enough salt to enhance flavors. Wild rice should be tender and puffed.

4. To thicken, have gumbo bubbling gently and stir in 1 tablespoon flour, that is mixed a little with cold water. Add more flour if a thicker consistency is desired.

Baked BBQ Black Eyed Peas
Serves 4 to 6

* 1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
* 1 3-inch piece kombu (dried kelp)
* 3 Tb plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
* 1/2 cup diced onions
* 1 cup diced red or green bell pepper
* 2 cloves garlic
* 2 Tb red wine vinegar
* 2 Tb lime juice
* 1/4 cup tamari
* 1 cup canned tomato sauce
* 1 chipotle in adobo sauce
* 1/2 cup agave nectar
* 1 Tb ground cumin
* 1 tsp dried thyme
* 1/8 tsp cayenne

1. Drain the black-eyed peas. Combine beans with kombu and fresh water to cover in a
medium pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, skimming off any foam. Reduce heat to
maintain a simmer, and cook until tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Drain, reserving cooking water. Discard kombu. Or if you're short on time, a 15 ounce can of black eyed peas, drained and rinsed will work too. Instead of using the cooking water, plain water can be used.

2. Heat two tsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes, until fragrant. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a blender, combine the vinegar, lime juice, tamari, tomato sauce, chipotle, agave nectar, spices, 1 cup of the reserved bean cooking water and the remaining olive oil. Puree until smooth.

3. In a 2-quart baking dish, combine the black-eyed peas, sautéed vegetables, and sauce. Stir well. Bake uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve at room temperature.

Jalapeño Onion Corn Bread
Makes 8 Big Slices

* 2 cups plain soy milk
* 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
* 2 cups cornmeal
* 1 cup corn flour, or masa harina, or all-purpose flour (I've notice that corn flour or masa harina gives the corn bread a stronger corn taste than just adding plain flour)
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/3 cup oil

For the Topping
* 1 Tb canola oil
* 1 medium size yellow onion, sliced into 1 x 1/2 inch slices
* 3 jalapenos
* 1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and jalapeno in oil for about 5 minutes, until the onions are softened. Add the salt and mix well. Transfer to a bowl. Don't wash the pan; you'll pour the batter right into it in a bit.

3. Combine the soy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside to curdle as you prepare everything else.

4. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Create a well in the center and add the soy milk mixture and oil. Use a wooden spoon to mix together until just combined; some lumps are okay.

5. Pour the batter into prepared cast-iron skillet. Scatter the topping over the batter in the pan. Bake for 30 to 32 minutes, until a toothpick or butter knife inserted through the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool just a bit before serving.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Leek and Bean Cassoulet with Biscuits

This stew is so good and even though the directions look intimidating, it was really simple and quick to make. I've never made biscuits before and I was amazed at how easy it was the create the dough and bake. No more $5 biscuit bags for me! I used wheat flour for the biscuits because I wanted the extra fiber and protein but if you're going for taste, I would say to make them with white un-bleached flour.

On another note, I took this silly picture of Taffy playing with string. My boyfriend did a quick little edit and put him in a classroom. I hope it brings a little LOL to your day : ]

Serves 6
Time : 1 hour and 20 minutes

* 2 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice
* 3 cups vegetable broth
* 3 Tb cornstarch
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 2 leeks, washed well and sliced thinly ( about 2 cups )
* 1 small onion, cut into medium-size dice
* 1 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 heaping Tb chopped thyme, plus extra for garnish
* Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 tsp salt ( more or less depending on how salty your broth is, so taste first )
* 3/4 cup frozen peas
* 1 ( 15 ounce ) can navy beans, drained and rinsed

* 3/4 cup plain soy milk
* 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
* 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour ( I used whole wheat flour )
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated vegan shortening

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

2. Place the potatoes in a small pot and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are just ender enough to be pierced with a fork. Drain immediately so that they do not overcook. While they are boiling, you can prep the rest of the veggies and start preparing the biscuits - the potatoes should definely be done by the time you are.

3. Now, prepare everything for the biscuits. You're not going to make them yet, but it's good to have everything ready when it comes time to top the stew. Add the vinegar to the soy milk in a measuring cup and set aside to curdle. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl.

Now leave that alone and start the stew

4. Mix the cornstarch into the vegetable stock until dissolved.

5. Preheat an oven-safe skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Saute in the oil the leeks, onions, and carrots until very soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Keep the heat moderate so that they don't burn.

6. Add the garlic, thyme, freshly ground black pepper, and salt, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the cooked potatoes and frozen peas, then pour in the vegetable stock mixture. Raise the heat just a bit; it will take a few minutes but the liquid will start simmering. Once it does, lower the heat again. Let it simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, but no longer than that. If you need more time for the biscuits, then turn off the heat under the stew.

Back to the biscuits

7. Add the shortening to the flour in small slivers and work it into the dough with a fork or with your fingers until large crumbs form. You don't want to cream it in; there should be clumps. Drizzle in the soy milk and mix with a fork until everything is moistened ( some dry parts are okay ).

8. Wash and dry your hands, then lightly flour them and get them dirty again. Gently knead the dough about ten times right in the bowl, just so that it is holding together and not very sticky. If it seems sticky, as in sticking to your fingers, then gently work in a little more flour. Set that aside and check on your stew.

9. The stew should be simmering and slightly thickened. Mix in the beans. Now, let's add the biscuits. Pull off chunks of dough that are about slightly larger than golf balls. Gently roll them into balls and flatten a bit; they do not have to be perfectly round. Add them to the top of the stew, placed an inch or so apart.

10. Transfer the whole megillah to the preheated oven. Bake for about 15 minutes. The biscuits should be just slightly browned and firm to the touch.

11. Remove from the oven and use a large serving spoon to place some of the stew and a biscuit in each shallow, individual bowl. Sprinkle with a little chopped fresh thyme.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Corn Bread

Cornbread! The plan was to wait until Friday, when I am making Gumbo but I couldn't wait! Oh so many things I haven't eaten in so long, since going vegan. I had my boyfriend's nieces help me make this ( which means they did everything and I just did the clean up ), since they too are dying to bake.

The bread was prepared and ready to eat in under an hour. I like to eat my cornbread with a little spread of Earth Balance margarine. Oh and in case you don't have a cast-iron skillet, which I do not, any other baking pan will work just as well. I used a 9" cake pan and the end result was perfect.

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

* 2 cups plain soy milk
* 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
* 2 cups cornmeal
* 1 cup corn flour, or masa harina, or all-purpose flour (I've notice that corn flour or masa harina gives the corn bread a stronger corn taste than just adding plain flour)
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/3 cup oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of the cast iron pan and place it in the oven to warm while the oven preheats, then proceed to prepare corn bread.

2. Combine the soy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside to curdle as you prepare everything else.

3. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Create a well in the center and add the soy milk mixture and oil. Use a wooden spoon to mix together until just combined; some lumps are okay.

4. Pour the batter into prepared cast-iron skillet. Bake for 30 to 32 minutes, until a toothpick or butter knife inserted through the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool just a bit before serving.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Banana Nut Bread

After not having a real oven for a little more than two years, I finally purchased one today! I can't tell you how happy this makes me. An oven really is necessary for so many recipes, desserts and main. I always thought that I would have to buy a full stove/oven set and never knew the possibilities with toaster ovens until Kelly posted about her wonderful new convection toaster oven. I started saving up and researching and I ended up buying Breville's Smart Oven. It does everything a traditional oven would do but does not heat up the room. It's great for me because I mostly only cook for my boyfriend and myself.

So getting this today, the first thing I did was rush to the kitchen and start baking. I chose to do banana nut bread because I have never had a vegan version before. I really couldn't taste the difference between this and one that would contain eggs. It was really moist and so yummy! I really enjoy eating this for breakfast with a hot cup of peppermint tea.

P.S. Taffy says hi : ]

* 1 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
* 2 tsp Baking Powder
* 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
* 1/2 tsp Salt
* 3/4 Cup non-processed white or brown sugar
* 1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans or Walnuts
* Equivalent of 2 Eggs Using Egg Replacer
* 2-3 Ripe Bananas Mashed
* 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
* 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Sift together dry ingredients. Stir in nuts, egg replacer, bananas, oil and vanilla. Mix well.

3. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for 45-60 mins (until knife comes out clean).

4. Cool for 5 mins before removing from pan. Cool on wire rack.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tortilla Soup

I haven't made tortilla soup in awhile and thankfully because the weather has been on the cool side, I figured I'd make myself a bowl. If you don't like spice, you can skip adding the dried chiles, although ancho chiles aren't really spicy but more on the sweet side. I used Better than Boullion Vegetarian Chicken for my stock, if you also use that, no extra salt is needed. My favorite part about making this soup was baking the tortilla strips. It got me motivated to make my own tortilla chips next time or even pita chips. You can't beat the taste of homemade chips!

Serves 6

* 3 large dried New Mexico chiles (or pasilla or ancho chiles)
* 1 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, peeled
* 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (optional)
* 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or to taste)
* 4 cups vegetable broth or no-chicken broth
* 4 cups water
* 1 1/2 cups pinto beans, cooked
* 1 1/2 cups black beans, cooked
* 1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
* salt to taste
* 6 corn tortillas
* 1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges
* 1 ripe large avocado, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
* 4 cups chopped spinach, chard, or kale leaves (packed)

When the chilies are cool enough to handle, stem and seed them, tear them into pieces, and put them in a blender along with tomatoes and their juice.

1. Toast the chiles. If you have a gas stove, you can hold them with tongs over the flame one at a time for a few seconds until fragrant. But if like me you use an electric stove, put them in a dry skillet over medium heat and press them flat for a few seconds on each side.

2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Spray lightly with olive oil (optional) and add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Pour it all into the blender along with the chipotle powder and process until smooth.

3. Return the pot to medium heat. When hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 minutes. (Careful–watch for hot, bubbling “eruptions”!) Add broth, water, oregano (if using), and drained pinto beans. Bring to a boil, then adjust heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.

4. While the soup is cooking, prepare the tortillas. Preheat oven to 375F. Cut each tortilla in half (can be done in a stack if you have a sharp knife). Then cut each half into 1/4-inch wide strips. Place the strips in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, if desired. Bake for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool uncovered until soup is ready.

5. Add spinach (or chard or kale) to the soup and season with salt to taste, depending on the saltiness of the broth. Cook, stirring, until the greens are wilted, about 2 minutes for spinach, longer for chard or kale.

6. Ladle the soup into 6 soup bowls. Divide avocado and tortilla chips among the bowls. Serve warm, with lime wedges.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu with Corn Pudding and Green Pumpkin Seed Mole

I made the tofu before, about a year ago, and now I have totally got the breading down. The trick that I use is I coat the tofu first in whole wheat flour, then dip it in the soy milk and finally coated in the cornmeal. The recipe says to only to dip it in the soy milk/cornstarch mixture but when I do that, it doesn't really coat nicely. I've also heard that ditching the flour and the soy milk and just dipping it in plain yogurt, followed by the breading mixture would work just as well.

The pumpkin seed mole reminded me a lot of the So Good, So Green sauce I made a couple weeks ago with the seitan kabobs. There's no real work needed for this except for a quick roasting of the pumpkin seeds. But I do believe the corn pudding was the star of this meal. The coconut milk gives it a slight sweet taste and the jalapeños bring a little spice to the dish. I really do wish I made more because after I give some to my mom and the rest to my boyfriend, I only really get two small servings. I think I might just have to go to the market and buy more corn to make another batch!

Chili Cornmeal-Crusted Tofu
Time : 20 minutes ( not including pressing tofu )

* Corn or vegetable oil for frying
* 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
* 1 cup soy or rice milk
* 2 Tb cornstarch
* 1 cup cornmeal
* 2 Tb chile powder
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 1/4 tsp cayenne
* 1 Tb grated lime zest
* 1 1/2 tsp salt

1. Slice the tofu width wise into eight slices, then cut each of those slices into half diagonally - from the upper left corner to the lower right corner - so that you have sixteen long triangles. Set aside.

2. Combine the soy milk and cornstarch in a wide, shallow bowl. Mix vigorously with a fork until the cornstarch is mostly dissolved.

3. In another shallow bowl, toss together the cornmeal, spices, lime zest and salt.

Frying Directions
1. Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. To test if the oil is ready, sprinkle in a pinch of batter. when the batter sizzles and bubbles form rapidly around it, you're good to go.

2. Dip each individual tofu slice in the soy milk mixture. Drop it in the cornmeal with your dry hand and use your other hand to dredge it in the mixture, so that it's coated on all sides. Transfer the tofu to the skillet in two batches so as not to crowd the pan. Fry tofu for 3 minutes on one side, use tongs to flip over each piece, and fry for 2 more minutes. Drain the fried tofu on a clean paper bag or paper towels.

Baking Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Place the coated tofu on the baking sheet in a single layer. Spray with oil until lightly coated. Flip over and spray the other side. Bake for 12 minutes on each side.

Southwestern Corn Pudding
Serves 6
Time : 1 hour 20 minutes

* 2 Tb corn oil
* 4 cups fresh corn ( about 6 ears )
* 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped finely
* 2 jalapenos, chopped finely
* 1 cup coconut milk
* 1/4 cup cornstarch
* 1/2 cup cornmeal
* 2 Tb pure maple syrup
* 1 cup finely chopped scallions
* 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
* 1 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp cayenne

1. Preheat the oven 350 F and lightly grease an 8 inch square baking casserole dish. A cast-iron pan would work here, too.

2. Saute the corn, bell pepper, and jalapenos in a large skillet for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, the corn should be very light browned. Meanwhile, stir together the cornstarch and coconut milk until the cornstarch has mostly dissolved.

3. When the corn and peppers are ready, transfer 2 cups of them to a blender or food processor. Add the coconut milk and cornstarch mixture, and pulse about twenty times, until the mixture is mostly pureed but not completely smooth.

4. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and mix with the remaining corn, cornmeal, maple syrup, scallions, cilantro, salt, and cayenne.

5. Pour the batter into a baking dish and bake for 40 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Green Pumpkin Seed Mole
Makes a little over 2 cups
Time : 20 minutes

* 1 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
* 4 whole black peppercorns
* 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
* 1 cup lightly packed fresh parsley
* 1 ( 7 to 8 ounce ) can tomatillos ( if you can't find them canned, fresh works great too, about 5 to 6, wrapper skin removed and boiled until they turn a darker shade of green..about 6 to 7 minutes )
* 1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, coarsely chopped
* 2 scallions, white parts discarded, chopped coarsely
* 2 lettuce leaves ( such as romaine or green leaf ), torn into pieces
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
* 1/4 cup olive oil

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Toss the pumpkin seeds, turning occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a food processor or blender ( a food processor works better ). Add the peppercorns and pulse into a coarse powder.

2. Add everything else save the olive oil and grind into a thick paste. Add the olive oil and blend for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the processor to incorporate all the ingredients. Add salt to taste ( if may not even be necessary ).

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chipotle Chili

I know, I know it's the beginning of August and I am making chili! Totally not the season for it but I couldn't help but make it. There's this new little restaurant out here in Los Angeles called Chili Addiction and after eating there and looking through there menu again online, I had a huge craving for some home-made chili.

I love how the chipotle peppers add a smokey, spicy taste. This recipe makes a whole lot of chili, so I decided to play around with it and serve it in different ways. The first was the traditional chili in a bowl, garnish with vegan sour cream and chives. Next, I just had to make chili cheese fries for my boyfriend. I am most likely going to have this again for lunch tomorrow, since it made so much. I'm thinking that I will cook some macaroni noodles and serve the chili over that. Oh and I garnished all of it with Daiya Cheddar cheese mmmm!

Serves 6 to 8

* 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
* 1 large carrot, chopped
* 1 stalk celery, chopped
* 1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
* 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped chipotles in adobo 1 tablespoon dried oregano
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
* 3 cups cooked red kidney beans, drained
* 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned.

2. Add chipotles, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt. Stir to blend. Add tomatoes and 4 cups water. Gently simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

3. Add beans and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Garnish individual bowls with green onions or vegan sour cream, if desired.