Tempeh Mole

I got a new cookbook! It is from Candle 79, a vegan restaurant in Manhattan that I have read about a ton online. Since I have no idea when I'll get to New York next, and I do kind of long for fancy pantsy food (too much Food Network, I guess), I figured I'd make it myself!

I'm finding a trend with the restaurant cookbooks. They tend to have really complicated (or at least time consuming) recipes that generally involve more than one recipe per dish, but it's all so worth it (I've talked about this a lot). This dish was no exception. The recipe was for the Tempeh Mole. The photo showed pretty much what I have here, only they put microgreens on top, which includes a sweet potato mash and braised green beans. I'm so glad that I made the whole shebang because the flavors balanced really well!

The mole sauce was really very good. The last mole that I made was such an ordeal, that I've not gone near it since. This one was comparatively super easy. The whole combo of dishes was hours of cooking, but the sauce wasn't too involved by itself. The tempeh gets marinated for 4+ hours, then there's the mole to make, the sweet potatoes to bake (they're baked, than mashed), and the beans to braise.

Also, how I've gone 21 years as a vegetarian and never braised green beans is beyond me. That method really packs them with super flavor. The potatoes were incredibly sweet, but all three dishes went together beautifully. The crunch of the beans was a refreshing addition to the heavy mole and tempeh and the sweet taters.

All in all, it was quite a big production, but totally worth it. I'm excited to try more recipes from this book (probably not for at least a week though!)

Pinto Bean Enchiladas

These are from Ann Gentry's new book, "Vegan Family Meals". She is the founder of the life-changing Real Food Daily restaurant and accompanying cookbook). If you've seen this blog before today or met me or Davey, you know that we eat RFD either from the restaurant or the book at least once a week. Their food is mind blowingly amazing. So, I was really looking forward to new recipes from Ms Gentry, since, as amazing as RFD is, you can burn out if you're eating the Taco Town tacos a few times a week (Davey would beg to differ, but still.) However, this book is a bit different. She explains that the RFD cookbook recipes are so complex because they are literally what the restaurant uses. So, they have one person making seitan, another making sauce, another making cashew cheese, etc. So this book is supposed to be more geared for a home cook who has to do it all themselves and may not have time to make 4-6 recipes for one dish.

I gotta say, though, so far- I give it a firm 'meh' for a review. This dish (the pinto bean enchiladas) was actually one of the best that I've tried, and so far, I've tried; the Hippy Granola, Baked Kale Chips, One Pot Vegetables, Lasagna Rolls and this. The recipes are a bit shorter than the RFD ones, but they really are no where near the amazing heights of those either. Which kind of points to a truth that I think all of the cooking that I've done with this blog has taught me- generally- great meals take time. You'll notice a huge gap in this blog where I hadn't posted much for about 6 months until last week. It was because I was working a job that took up about 60 hours a week and about 100 hours of head space a week. So I wasn't making great meals. I was using a lot of jar sauces and pre-made things, and none of that is really worth exploring on here, because it's food, but it's not a meal.

So, back to these enchiladas. They had a load of Asian ingredients, which I found odd for a Mexican dish; Tamari, Umeboshi Paste and Kombu. They used soaked bean water as a stock (versus chilis or tomato based sauce, like enchiladas usually do). They were alright. They were actually pretty good- but you have to readjust your "enchilada" expectations, because they just aren't what your mouth is expecting. I may make them again, but it's kind of unlikely. They did take hours with the bean prep and all, and if I'm going to invest that time, I'd rather make the enchiladas verde from the RFD book. I am a bit let down at this book, but I have no bad feelings because RFD literally changed our lives- we eat so much better and so differently than before we moved here. I'd buy any book that she comes out with- if only as a thank you.


Not the most glamorous food pic I've ever taken, mostly because the bottom papusa is half eaten... (I forgot to photo them until I started dinner!).

These are from "Viva Vegan!". This version is filled with refried beans and left over chorizo from the sopas (HERE). It was my first time making homemade refried beans, and that's really the best part about having made this recipe- those were fantastico!

I must say, between the sopas and the papusas, I think I preferred the sopas. The papusas were great too, but the masa overpowers the other flavors of the fillings a bit more just because they're wrapped in it (versus sitting on top of it where you can pile your fillings up to the moon). Still, they're relatively easy, pretty darn tasty and really versatile.You could probably stuff them with almost anything that you'd put in a burrito or taco. And who doesn't love new incarnations of those?

Chipotle Mexican Chili

I made this up. I rarely do that unless I'm aiming to replicate something amazing that I've eaten elsewhere. But, I was drawing on deadline and didn't have the time to go get groceries. We had a lot of bits of good things in the house, and I figured that they had to amount to something.

This was testing the theory that any combo of protein, onions and spices, and broth and/or tomatoes will make a good chili. Turns out, I think that's true. This recipe came out amazing! It was intensely flavorful, has great textures and a nice smoky aftertaste. If you adore chipotle, I would add an extra pepper in. The flavor is there as-is, but it's not overwhelming or overpoweringly chipotle flavored.

1/2 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
1T cumin seed
2 small tomatoes, diced
2.5 cups vegetable broth
1 chipotle chili (in Adobo sauce), de-seeded and diced
2T chipotle/ Adobo sauce from the can
1 1/2 t oregano
1T chili powder
1 16oz can pinto beans
1 green bell pepper, diced
5T tomato paste
1/2 cup TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)
2 bay leaves
1t salt
1/4-1/2t cayenne pepper
1T canola oil

Heat oil in a large stock pot. Sautée onions until translucent, add garlic and cumin seeds and sautée another two minutes or so until fragrant. Add the broth, tomatoes and all other ingredients except the can of beans. Simmer 1 hour. Add rinsed beans and simmer another 1/2 hour.

This is great with crumbled tortilla chips on top.

Tarascan Bean Soup

This is the Tarascan Bean Soup from Beans and Barley's Little Book of Beans Volume One. I'm not sure what they were going for with this (or what I was going for with this slanty slanty pic). The soup is basically a soupier version of refried beans, which I'm not fond of eating by the bowl. It could be "soup" if you thin it like the directions say, but I'm not sure why you'd want that. I had thought before I made it that it would be more of a hearty, whole bean soup.

After soaking the dried pintos overnight and making the soup, I basically realized that it's refried beans in soupy form and decided that it wasn't for me. I ate this bowl to be sure (it was weird), and then cooked it longer to thicken it and just made a mexican casserole with this, black beans, the spanish rice from RFD and tortillas. It was pretty good.

So, using this soup as a refried bean mixture (keeping it thick) is a winner- except I would ditch the coriander seeds. I really don't know what those were doing in there, and when you hit one while eating, it's overpowering (and makes you just want curry). On the whole, the recipe's not so much of a winner, but it was fine and on the up side- this was the first time that I used dried beans in a recipe (I'm slightly embarrassed to admit). My goal is to start using them at least half of the time or more in the future. They're cheaper, have less sodium and make me feel more like a real cook!

Mexican Quinoa Salad

This is a recipe from Milwaukee's Beans and Barley café. It's a great place that I utterly miss not living closer to. This is from their teeny book "Another Little Book of Beans". I have no idea if they still sell their cookbooks, this is from the year 2000. I hope that they do, though, b/c this is volume 2, and I'd like to get #1.

Anyway, this is delicious. It's great as a side, great alone, would be great as a pot luck or picnic dish, it's amazing. For such a little salad, there's a ton of nutritious goodness in it; the qunioa, black beans, peppers, tomato, avocado, etc. It made a TON (I noticed after the fact that it said that it made 8-12 servings), and I made it only for Davey and me. So, right now, I'm tired of it and won't be making it probably until summer when we have a picnic to go to where I want everyone to be asking who made the tasty salad.

J-R Black Bean Soup

This is a recipe that I made up and LOVE. It was modeled after (I'm a hint embarrassed to say) Panera's black bean soup. My office in Chicago was down the block from a Panera, and their black bean soup was about the only vegetarian thing there that didn't have a million calories (I loved their asiago bagels until I learned that plain with no cream cheese they have 330 calories- with the cream cheese- something like 700 ;)

Anyway, if they have Paneras in L.A., we're no where near one, so I decided to make my own black bean soup. This is also a great end of the week dish when you have 1/2 of an onion, bits of bell peppers, etc. left in the fridge and need a use for them.

Black Bean Soup (makes 4-6 servings)

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 6oz. can tomato paste
2 stalks celery, chopped small
2 medium carrots, chopped small
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped small
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped small
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped small
1 T canola oil
1 1/2 T chili powder
1 t cumin
salt to taste
1 t ground black pepper
1/4 t ground red pepper
*great with crusty bread

Sautée the onions, celery and carrots in oil until all is soft and onion is translucent. Add garlic, sautée another minute or so. Add the beans,broth, tomato paste and spices (all but the bell peppers). Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour. Add peppers and simmer another hour. The long cooking time lets everything get married and taste delicious.

20 minutes prep, 2 hours cooking.

Vegan Chorizo

Craaazy! Vital wheat gluten is a thing of wonder.

To continue my trend of making things that I henceforth never considered actually making (bagels, seitan...) this is a homemade vegan chorizo from scratch, featuring the magic of vital wheat gluten and zero soy. The rest of the base of this is mashed pinto beans. Then there's a bunch of spices, veg broth and tamari (oh, a bit of soy, I guess).

This is from Vegan Brunch and for the life of me, I can't imagine how anyone could invent this- but I'm so happy that she did. It's magical. You make this springy dough and then form it into "sausages", roll it in tin foil and steam it for 40 minutes. Then, slice it, pan sear it a tad to get a nice crispy outside and a better, deeper color. This stuff is amazing. It's spicy, flavorful, eyes-roll-back into your head amazingly good. Plus, there's no intestinal casing involved (not to get grodie, but that's a pretty nasty component of real sausage.

This is used as a brekkie side (hence it's origin in the Vegan Brunch book), but we made tacos with it. Flipping. Amazing.

Black Bean, Sweet Potato Burrito

These are from La Dolce Vegan and have become a staple in our house. The first time that I saw the recipe, I thought it sounded weird. The sweet potatoes are boiled and mashed and then layered with seasoned black beans. The beans have a very deep, rich flavor, and coupled with the sweetness of the taters- these are amazingly tasty. I used Frontera's Jalapeño and Cilantro salsa- a bit inside and some on top. Also, from the crappiest little taco hut in Chicago (Burrito House, oh how I miss thee), I got the trick of pan cooking a finished burrito to get that crispiness on the top and bottom. I don't do it for all burritos, but it's absolutely necessary for this one. A soft tortilla just wouldn't work with this. This recipe is also always a hit with non-veg peoples too. It's A+ #1 delicious.

Chili (Sick days= Chili days)

I was just sick for a few days, but stayed out of bed long enough to make chili. Not the classic J-R chili HERE (we just had that), this one is based off of a recipe from the awesome Milwaukee café Beans and Barley. They rule. They're Real Food Daily in Milwaukee, basically (only the entrees are about $8 tops versus $18 or so here). Many years ago, when we still lived in MKE, I got their second Little Book of Beans, a dinky pamphlet of a cookbook that has this great chili recipe in it. What I love about it is that it's kind of the anti- J-R chili. Ours is thick and heavy and chunky, which is great when you want that, but this one is far more veg soupish. Also, since I've seriously altered the recipe from the book, I felt that it was safe to share it. The Beans and Barley chili was a springboard, but this one's pretty different. I like it a lot, and it was perfect for this latest stretch of sickness. I got to eat super healthy for two days while only cooking once. Also, like most soups and chilis, crusty bread is an absolute must with this.

2 cans Kidney Beans
1 quart vegetable broth
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, coined
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green bell, diced
1 small white or sweet potato, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t thyme
1 T oregano
1 T + 1 t chili powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 t black pepper
salt to taste
2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
1 T ground cumin
1 t sage
1/2 cup TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)
1T oil
salt to taste

Sautee onions, carrots and celery in oil, add all other ingredients except TVP and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to very low heat and simmer for at least an hour, up to an hour and a half. Add TVP when there's about 20 minutes left of cooking time, taste for salt and spices. Finish cooking, let stand for about 20minutes (to an hour, the longer spices steep, the better this stuff is). Enjoy with crusty bread and cold medicine.

Pasta e Fagioli with Spinach

New Cookbook! I just got Appetite for Reduction, Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new book (awesome title and cover), which features low cal vegan recipes (it is the new year and time for that sort of thing- especially after the 3 dozen batch of sugar cookies that Davey and I ate in a week). This is the Pasta e Fagioli with Spinach on pg 185. We had never had pasta with beans, and both loved it. I thought that on the whole, the tomatoes made it a bit acidic and that it could have used some deeper tones. The spinach and beans were great in it though, maybe I'll add more beans next time to round it out a bit more. All in all, very good, though. Davey loved it and had seconds, which is always a good sign. Also, since it cooks up rather fast (about 30 minutes total), it may be a recipe that tastes better the next day after everything has steeped overnight. And, it's good to know that you're only eating 440 calories of pasta too!

J-R Chili

This is today's version of the Julson-Rieley chili. The beans vary, the tvp is optional, sometimes there's fresh tomatoes, sometimes a ton more chili powder... but today's turned out pretty nicely, and we had all the ideal components on hand, so here's the recipe for youse...

1/2 onion, chopped
2 t veg oil
2 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coined (if that's a word)
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 c. veg broth
1 can 16 oz tomato sauce
1 can 8 oz tomato paste
1 can garbanzo (or dried equivalent)
1 can dark kidney beans (or dried equivalent)
1/2 c TVP
3 bay leaves
1/2 t sage
1 t oregano
1 t thyme
1/2 t marjoram
4 T chili powder
1/2 t ground red pepper (or to taste- this gives it the kick)
3/4 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1 t cumin

Chop onions and sautee in oil until onions are soft, add carrots and cook until onions are translucent. Add garlic, broth and spices. Then add tomato, sauce and paste. After about 20 min, add bell peppers. After another 20 minutes, add TVP. Simmer over low low heat for at least an hour. Let stand a few minutes and serve with fresh crunchy bread, flour tortillas or if tortilla chips. This makes enough to serve 4-6.

RFD Nachos

Oh. My. Gosh. Okay- if you're in Los Angeles, just go to Real Food Daily and order the nachos. They are beyond. The best mix of flavors that ever I have had in a nacho- and I consider myself a connoisseur. To make these at home is quite a lot of effort, but like all recipes from RFD's cookbook- it's well worth it.

There are five recipes within this recipe; The Cashew Cheese, the Black Beans, the Pico, the Guac and the Sour Cream. I mod'ed these out b/c I had made their burritos or something which required making the ranchero sauce and the spanish rice. So- these particular nachos have; The Spanish Rice, The Guac, plain Black Beans, Cashew Cheese and the Ranchero Sauce. Amazing!

I have to talk about this cheese too. I was addicted to Meet Market's cashew cheese, but the damn restaurant closed. Also, theirs is more of a spread that's the consistency of hummus or something. It was delicious and I'll still try to replicate it, but RFD's is in a universe of its own. For one, it melts. When you first make it, it's a sauce (see the pic). It has phenomenal flavor as well. But then the magic part happens after its cooked. Any cheese sauce that's left over can be poured into a tupperware and refrigerated. Hours later- you have a block of f-ing cheese that you can grate to put on top of tacos, burritos, etc. Can you even believe that? It's like some magic substance (real cheese). It blows soy and a certain name brand oil based faux cheese out of the water. It's the absolute best, and I shall never go back to any other cheese substitute. I cannot sing it's praises any more, it's the best!

Chiliquiles. Tastier than they look.

This would be an instance of the photo really not doing the dish justice! This is a Rick Bayless recipe- mutilated into veganness (no cheese or meat). I did use refried beans in it as a protein (otherwise, you're really just eating saucy chips). It's an excellent recipe (no real surprise, the man makes amazing food). Spicy, saucy, flavorful- and the perfect way to get rid of multiple 1/2 bags of chips.


Black Bean Tostadas

This is from Real Food Daily p. 165 + 135 (and could be potentially from p 70 and 64... geez!) Only this book could turn tostadas into a 4 recipe affair. Again- it's time consuming b/c it's good, but even I don't have that much time on my hands.

The Spanish rice for this is really good, but again- makes a vat for an army. Next time, even though it would involve halving a carrot and a few bell peppers, I'm halving it. If I even make it again, it was good, but not amazing good. I think that the other flavors in the tostada just don't balance it enough. It's really pretty sweet from all of the tomatoes, so I feel like it needs some spicy seitan or something instead of black beans.

Also, I didn't make the tofu sour cream (I had tofutti in the fridge, but forgot to add it), or the Pico de Gallo because I had already been cooking for hours and was tired of chopping. Also, the rice has enough tomato flavor, the dish didn't really need more.

It was cool to make my own tostada shell by baking a corn tortilla though. I'm sure it's Mexican cooking 101, but I've always bought the crispy shells vs making them (duy).

I am happy, with how high this was piled, that Davey worked late tonight since I ended the meal with as much tostada fixings or more on the plate and my lap as were on the damn thing when I started.

All in all- it's so-so. That seems to be my pattern with this book so far. Over the top amazing or ... eh, s'alright. Maybe the over the top ones just set the bar too high (?)