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!)

Yam and Black Bean Stew with Orange and Cilantro

This recipe was great for me because it was a lesson in learning to trust my gut. We had a bag of yams left over from a dinner party last weekend, and with the price of food being out of control (plus the moral issues with wasting food), I wanted to do something with them. The recipe is from Appetite for Reduction- kind of. I say "kind of" because all along the way, I was switching things up to my taste. Which is the beauty of this. I am finally getting to the point with cooking where I can anticipate how things will work together and what I like and how I can alter things to my taste. There's definitely still something to be said for following recipes to the letter to experience new flavors and ways of doing things, but I think that this is a big step for me.

I changed the water that it called for (3 cups) to broth because I thought water was going to make it too bland (it may also have been water in the recipe b/c it's a low-cal book. Adding broth adds calories that she may have been trying to shave out of the soup). It called for a cup of orange juice at the end too. I tasted it and it was really sweet as-is, so I was inclined to skip it all together. But, because "orange" was in the title and she said that it jazzed up the yam flavor, I added 1/4 c. anyway. I was right, I didn't like it. The orange was sweetness that this soup sure didn't need. Really, I wasn't fond of it at all. I think that I like far more savory soups, and the yams really overpowered it. The taste and the texture weren't my thing at all. Which isn't to say that it wouldn't be the bees knees for someone else. And, another up side is that had I not tried this soup, I just would have made piles of sweet potato fries, which sure aren't all about 'reduction!

Tamarind BBQ Tempeh & Sweet Potatoes with Polenta Stuffing

These two recipes are from Appetite for Reduction, and though I've only tried three or four from this book, these are the best so far. I picked this dish solely b/c I wanted to use my Tamarind Concentrate that I bought at Indian Sweets and Spice. The tempeh/ sweet taters get marinaded and baked in a high heat oven similarly to RFD's tempeh treatment for the Sweet and Sour Tempeh, which is amazing. Tempeh is so nutty anyway, that marinading it and roasting or baking it like this really makes it hearty and flavorful. I could make these types of tempeh and pretty much throw it in a bowl and eat it like popcorn. But, the other flavors help too. The marinade was smoky, sweet and tart all at once. The sweet potatoes balanced the nutty, hearty tempeh, and the polenta (a separate recipe) was a lighter, delicious compliment to the BBQ dish.

Also, the "Appetite..." book lists calories and nutritional info, so it's nice to see that the BBQ dish has 530% of the daily required Vitamin A, 17 g of protein, and only 380 cals per serving. Coupled with the polenta, it was still around 600 cals or so each for dinner, which is great when a dish is this delicious and filling. Davey put in a request that we make this once a week- which I'll add to the list of 20 or so other recipes that he'd like to have weekly! (It's great to cook for such a fellow foodie!)

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.