2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma


Okay, clearly I've reached the point of only cooking Isa recipes, this one is from Appetite for Reduction (p226)- and, I feel I don't even have to say it at this point- it's f*ing fantastic.

This really seems more like a curry to me, the korma's that I have had at restaurants taste not as coconut-y/ curryish. However, that is not a bad thing, this one is flipping delicious. I did a small amount of changes to the recipe, I at least doubled the curry powder, as I thought it didn't pack enough of a punch (I have come to realize that I like things pretty intensely flavorful). Also, I thought it was odd that the garam masala was listed as going in with the rest of the spices early in cooking. I once was making Creamed Lentils and really didn't get the importance of spice timing. I put the garam masala in at the start and the dish was nearly inedible. The same amount of the spice that- usually, when added at the end of cooking, subtly compliments the other flavors- became a big, fat, bossy, pushy, a-hole- bowling over all the flavors to the point that it tasted like you were eating a spoonful of the stuff with some lentils on top. Not a good thing at all. So, in the spirit of live and learn, I did the exceptional act of disobeying Isa and held the garam masala to the end (which worked out great)

This will become a go-to Indian night staple, me thinks, as it whipped up far faster than Aloo Ghobi. We also ended up skipping any rice with this since it was on the thick side and didn't really need it.

Fusilli Roasted Veggie Primavera



This is the Fusilli Roasted Veggie Primavera from (of course) Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction. Losing weight can never hurt (especially since I gained about 15 lbs the past few years), and all of the recipes in this book are lower in calories and nastiness than your average meal. This one made me feel good about my life choices, for sure.

I was a bit surprised that there was no sauce to speak of with this, I expected it to be a bit on the dry or dull side. Turns out that the freshly roasted veg is so flavorful and juicy that it doesn't lack anything in the sauce department.

The recipe calls for a pile of roasted vegetables, which were damn pretty in all stages of cooking this (see photo). I also swapped butternut squash for yellow, since it's oddly what the store had (yellow is more in season). There was zucchini, asparagus (which I held on putting in till the last 10-15 min b/c it was so spindly), Red bell, red onioin, cherry tomatoes and garlic. Other than that, it was pretty simple (oregano, thyme, olive oil, salt, black pepper and balsamic).

Keeping it pretty simple really accentuates the flavor of the veg. The cherry tomatoes were fantastic, hitting one of those was like having a really fresh Italian sauce since it was combo'd with the aforementioned spices.

This will be a staple for sure, probably more when fall comes around though, as it needs a hot, hot oven and my apartment is 88 degrees in the shade today (though there's always the grill!)

Bistro Beet Burgers

Ohmehgawd! These are fantastic (apologies for the bad photo)! They are from Isa Chandra's Isa Does It book, and are the Bistro Beet Burgers (p82). They are flavorful, they do what few veg burgers do- coagulate nicely, and they aren't a boat load of work. I made "slider" size burgers to be sure that they cooked all the way through and made them on a cast iron skillet (which I am forever loyal to). These were also served up on pretzel buns (or a sliced pretzel baguette), which elevates any burger to amazing heights (ala Kumas Korner in Chicago <3 )

Beefy Asparagus Stir-Fry

Okay, if the last two posts didn't sell you on Isa Does It, this has to! This dish, like the others is nearly devoid of seasoning, but is so intensely flavorful, it tastes far more complex than it is. I used homemade seitan (RFD recipe), and followed the recipe to the letter with the exception of adding the bean sprouts that I forgot to get at the market. This has a lovely sauce with fresh mint and basil in it, there's a good amount of ginger in the stir fry along with garlic, asparagus, cashews and the seitan. All combine for a really delicious stir fry that lets a lot of the flavors come through (not overly saucy or gunky like some recipes are). My only change would be to either lessen what I call the high notes (the soy sauce, mint, ginger) and intensify some deeper ones- I think sesame seeds would work really well in here, a few tablespoons are gonna get added in next time. But on the whole, I loved it- especially how it whipped up so fast. Also, I served it over quinoa vs rice (a theme of mine lately), and loved the texture that added in. A+

Summer Seitan Sauté (...in winter)

New year, new cookbook (yay!). This one was on my pre-order list (though I never pre-ordered it, got it for xmas this year) because it's by Isa Chandra Moskowitz who is probably my favorite cookbook author (Vegan Brunch, Vegan with a Vengeance, Appetite for Reduction, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, etc etc). Though her recipes aren't usually weeknight friendly (there's some for sure, but most are the longer labor and love over kind). Anyway, this is the inaugural run of this book, the "Summer Seitan Sauté". Selected not because of the season, but because of the ingredients in it and lack of spices since I wasn't cooking at home in the comfort of my spice cabinet. This is a really solid, good dish and whipped up in under an hour- totally doable on a weeknight. I used storebought seitan (I know, I know), and it was still really delicious. It was a weird almost stir fry but really southwest flavored meal with the jalpeño and corn and lime juice in it. The corn added sweetness and with just salt and pepper added to season, all of the ingredient's flavors really came through. I had it over quinoa with sliced avocado on top (which added a great creaminess to it), though she recommended rice and guac (maybe next time, as I'm sure I'll make this again). Stoked to try another recipe from the book soon!

Jackfruit Tacos

Vegans are so clever. Making mock meat from canned jackfruit- it's just bananas. There are a few places in town that I've had jackfruit tacos- both Golden Road and Sage have really good ones. I was looking to replicate theirs at home (as I do), and found an archived Quarrygirl blog post pointing to this recipe for Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos. You'll need a crockpot for this recipe, but it's insanely simple to put together (essentially throwing everything into the pot- the only "work" is chopping an onion and mincing the garlic). After my first try at it, I'm not 100% that it's exactly what I was going for. It's really good, but I think I'd like to alter the flavors a bit. I suspect that my 'meh' feeling has to do with the tomatillo salsa. I think it's a bit bright and I'd like a deeper flavor to these, so maybe I'll experiment with salsas first and then spices if that still wasn't it. Overall, though, it's very good, and kind of a miraculous transformation from what you take out of the can to the end product!

Braised Cabbage and Seitan



Man, why have I waited until I was 36 to learn how to braise food?! It is my new favorite thing- the flavor that braising adds to veg is just over the moon. This was a delicious dish! I also really don't use cabbage in much of anything besides spring rolls or stir fries- but this was fantastic and made me wonder why we don't eat it more often.

I used RFD's "chicken style" seitan for this (just realized that "seitan" is an e before i word- like "weird"). Anyway, it's a really simple dish and since it was from Appetite for Reduction, was super low calorie too- which made me feel better about overeating because it tasted so great.

The seitan was cooked first to establish a crust that would keep the braising later from making it soggy. I have to say, though, I'd probably sautée the seitan next time and remove it from the pan before braising the cabbage- then add it back in at the last minute. The recipe has the seitan in the pan when the cabbage is braising, which adds a good flavor to the seitan, but does make it a bit floppy. Anyway, the whole thing was super delicious, very weeknight simple (other than making the seitan), and it also held up the next day, which I found shocking. I fully expected the cabbage to be too wilty, but it was still great. Also, the night that I made it (this is a left over pic), I baked potatoes as she recommends in the book. The braising broth poured over the potato was amazing! Also, it's great that we didn't need a load of vegan butter because of the broth as well (since the aim was a low-cal meal). Four stars- I highly recommend it.

Naan Pizza



This is a fast, fast weeknight dinner, and is cheat cooking (jarred sauce and pre-made naan), but it really makes for a tasty, good meal. This is my take on the Naan Pizzas at "Cowboys and Turbans"- the Indian/ Mexican fusion place on the east side (that looks like it may be closed now, but...?) It's a place as weird as their name, but the food is really good. They have these Masala fries that are ridiculously good, as well as these Naan Pizzas, which is essentially an Indian dish piled on top of naan (like a pizza!)

The recipe requires that you're near a Trader Joe's too- as their masala sauce is awesome!

- 4-6 pieces naan (TJ's has it frozen, but that's not vegan- it's kind of hard to find vegan naan, but possible if you hunt for it)
- 1 large bag spinach, stems removed
- 1 brick tofu (TJ's shrink wrapped organic super firm is great for this), cubed small
- 1-2 jars of TJ's jarred Masala sauce (we use about 1 1/2 usually)
- 1 cup peas
-1-2T canola oil

(Preheat the oven if your naan requires baking) Heat the oil in a large sautée (or sauce) pan, add the tofu and cook until slightly golden brown, add sauce and peas to the tofu, cook until peas are cooked through. Throw your naan in the oven. Add spinach by the fist fulls until it wilts down, add more, etc until you've added the whole bag.

Now, I'm not a dunker with cookies and I don't like soggy food, so my preference is to cook the naan a bit crunchier than usual, and pile the spinach/ tofu masala mix on top just before eating. I wouldn't assemble and wait at all before diving in or your naan will get soggy. I also recommend a fork and knife vs pizza slice-style eating unless you happen to be wearing a rain poncho.

Stuffed Acorn Squash



This is a catch-up post, I made this in fall and never talked about it. It really is more of a fall dish. It would be great as a starter or side at a huge Thanksgiving or holiday meal, especially if you could find small little acorn squashes. I made it as an entrée, and although it's incredibly flavorful and delicious (not to mention super healthy with all that veg inside it), it was just too much veg and needed something else with it to balance it out (Tofurkey, perhaps!)

It's from the RFD original book, and was a bit of a time investment, but not quite as bad as most recipes in that book, but just as amazing and delicious. If you're in to vegetables for dinner, try it- otherwise, I'd say to save it for an impressive side dish at a huge meal.

Stuffed Poblano Peppers



This is the Stuffed Poblano Peppers from Candle 79's cookbook with the Sautéed Swiss Chard and the Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Tomato Sauce.

The sauce was fantastic. I love how roasting the veg deepens the flavor so much. The dish on the whole (all 3 parts together) was really very good- which is great b/c it was another one of those huge time investments- so I'm glad that there was a payoff. There was just so much to it- roasting veg for the sauce, charring the poblanos to remove the skin, rice making, chard sauteeing...

On the whole, though, I thought that it needed a beefier element. This is weird for a vegan to say, but some dishes that are just 100% veg (curries and stir fries aside) just need more variety to me. This is why most of the world eats them as a side, I guess- but maybe even some black beans in the pepper would have done the trick. It tasted great, it just needed a protein element, I guess. It was good, though.

Red Curry- BLURG!



This is why I do this blog- as a record of the hits and misses of all of these cooking trials. And yet, I f'ed up. This pic is a delicious, amazing red curry that I made from scratch months ago. It was a bit of an ordeal because I had used a chili powder that I bought at India Sweets and Spice that turned out not to be a mild chili powder blend (like the recipe needed), but full on Cayenne style powdered hot chili. So, it was almost too spicy to consume since there was like 2T of this fire pepper powder in it. We even drained it of the sauce to make it edible. So, I guess in that sense it was a bit of a fail, but it had great flavor and I was sold on the recipe (only with using the correct chili powder). Yet I did not blog about it, so I have no idea where I got the recipe! I've dug around the computer and can't find it, google searched to no avail, etc.

I wanted to make it this week, but I guess I'm starting over from square one.

Rats.

Italian Vegan Sausage Ravioli with Fresh Pasta and Mama Sauce



I have to apologize for the pic- the lighting makes the food look like hell. Which is tragic, because this is one of the best eyes-rolling-back-into-my-head meals that I've made in awhile. It was for my Valentine, so it was a bit more all-out than ... who am I kidding, I'm always cooking all out :)

So- for starts, I made the Italian Sausage from Vegan Brunch. You'll recall that her Chorizo is amazing from the same book, and this is equally so. I had actually made these before and we ate them on buns and they were kind of meh (nothing fantastically exceptional). But pairing these with the pasta sauce turns out to be the trick. Literally, Davey and I were taking sausage slices and just dunking them into the sauce ala chips and dip and it was amazing! For the ravioli filling, I minced the sausage and we just went with it alone. It would be great with cheese too, but I'm not wild about vegan cheeses, so for us, the sausage plain was great.

I then made the pasta dough. I got the recipe online HERE. It was good. I am a bit of a pasta making amateur. We did it a few times in Chicago years ago when we first got our handy Kitchenaid pasta attachments for the stand mixer, but we used egg in those days. This was a really stiff dough that was a bit hard to work with at first, but it turned out alright. It was also pretty heavy, I think that had to do with thickness, but, it was fine. I did find the most fantastic trick for ravioli making, though! I looked up how to seal them up without egg online and found a fella who did the following; you lay the dough down over a mini muffin tin loosely, push the dough down gently into the muffin cups, fill the divots with your filling, top with another dough sheet, roll over the whole thing with a rolling pin (which seals and gets bubbles out), flip the whole thing over, cut your squares out, and voila! It was so flipping easy, and such a great trick. I highly recommend that (versus laying the stuffing on top, then sealing- which I remember to be a bit of a pain).

The ravioli just gets boiled like normal and that bit is done. Meanwhile, I was simmering mama sauce all day. I'm posting my recipe below, which, like chili, gets altered depending on what's in the house. On Valentines, I used about 1/4 c of fresh herbs (oregano, sage and rosemary), then added dried thyme, oregano, marjoram and such. That was absolutely delicious, but this is too. The key, I think, is to simmer for 4+ hours and also to go with what the sauce is doing. It never seems identical to me, throughout the day, I taste and add sugar if it's too acidic, oregano and pepper if it's too bright, etc. Go with what tastes good for you. But, by all means, make that sausage with it because, holy amazing!

Mama’s Sauce

1 roma or small tomato
2 28 oz can tomato sauce
1 lil (8oz?) can tomato paste
1 small palm full (2T or so) dried basil
1 small palm full dried parsley
¾ onion
6 cloves garlic
1 ½- 2 cups veg stock
3 T dried oregano
1 T ground sage
½ t thyme
shake-a shake-a cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1 t sea salt
1 t ground black pepper
2-3T sugar

Sauteé onions until translucent, add garlic, sauteé a bit more, add basil (or save for the last hour- if it's fresh, I wait, but I've added dry at the start) and parsley, add 1 28 oz can of tomato sauce, paste, broth and all spices- no sugar.

Mix well, bring to a rapid simmer, turn heat down to low, simmer- stirring somewhat often for about 4-5 hours, tasting and adjusting every hour or so. Add sugar if it’s too acidic. Blend with an immersion blender, add 28 oz can of sauce, mix well, heat until warmed again, stir and serve.

Soffrito Seared Seitan




Oh my, this is good! This is from the Candle 79 book and is to die for. The sauce is prepared with a load of great, fresh, raw ingredients (except for the roasted tomatoes). You marinade the seitan in the sauce for 4 hours and then take it out, pan sear it, add the sauce back in to heat it up. It is fantastic. It would be a great summer meal because except for the tomato roasting at the beginning, the cooking is minimal- and it has a really light, fresh flavor to it which would be excellent on a hot day.

They recommend serving on rice with avocado on the side which adds to the aforementioned light, fresh aspect. The sauce almost tastes like pico de gallo. There's tomatoes, garlic, onion and cilantro- which I think is where that fresh salsa idea comes from, but there's also red bell peppers, parsley and some other stuff that hints more at a meal sauce. Anyway, we loved it and I do think that this will become a staple meal. Minus the marinade time, I think it's an hour of cooking tops (oh, also minus the seitan making time too, but still!) It's an excellent dish!

Stroganoff



This is a mushroom stroganoff from the Native Foods cookbook. This is another new book for me, but after trying the Moon Dahl recipe online, as well as eating at the restaurant- I was sold on getting the book.

Despite resembling wet cat food, this is a really tasty dish! The flavor really reminded us of Isa Chandra's mushroom gravy (which I also realize I never photo'd- that is really good too- it's in Vegan brunch and makes for a great biscuits and gravy!) I also added asparagus to the mix since I am a huge fan of asparagus with mushroom sauces. It worked out great- it's a bit too intense to eat regularly, but once in a while would be amazing.

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!)

Eggplant Bolognese




This recipe came from Whole Foods website. Not sure what rabbit hole got me there, but I thought I'd try it (we had a spare eggplant). It had great flavor for sure. It wasn't very saucy- the chopped veg is just chunky and the sauce was pretty runny (vs a nice thick, stick to your noodle sauce). We ate it over spaghetti noodles the first night and then took the leftovers and used them as a pizza topping the next day. Davey (who eats cheese) did; crust, pizza sauce, Bolognese and covered it with cheese for his 1/2. My 1/2 had; crust, olive oil, shredded FYH "mozzerella" and Bolognese on top. It was so-so. Davey said his was great. I doubt I'd make it again because it's not really my thing. But, if you're into chunky veg, this may be the sauce for you.

The recipe is HERE.