Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It is winter and you really, really want this!.....Vegan Spelt and Kale Minestrone

There is something so great about making your own vegetable broth.  I seriously never buy premade broth anymore.  It is just not the same!  There is something special about taking your time to do this.  I don't know if it is the love and passion that I have for cooking, or that gorgeous, fresh aroma of the carrots, celery, onions, tomato and garlic blowing steam into the kitchen.  Or even better, straining the cooked vegetables, and pressing them to remove any excess liquid and then snacking on the remaining cooked veggies.  Either way, it will always be better and healthier for you to make it yourself!

Now I like to play around with soups....A LOT!  I wanted to do something a little bit different with the traditional minestrone, so while meandering around Whole Food's bulk aisle, I chose to go with adding spelt instead of a pasta.  Now, if you have yet to cook with spelt, you may want to think twice about it!  This is pretty much another super food that is overlooked because of the quinoa craze!  In fact, there are many grains that are high in nutrients, fiber and protein other than the ever so popular quinoa.  No, I am not hating on quinoa, I am just letting you know that we have many other options!!!!  So lets change things up!

So here is the low down on spelt....It is a wheat, so if you are gluten intolerant, stay away!  Otherwise, have at it!  It has more protein and fiber than quinoa and will most definitely fill you up without feeling guilty!  And, it is a great, hearty addition to a veggie filled soup!

Vegan Spelt and Kale Minestone
1 c spelt, soaked overnight
5-6 c homemade vegetable broth
1 can crushed tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 zucchini, sliced into quarters
2 cup chopped kale, stems removed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp evoo
s+p to taste

Drain and rinse soaked spelt and set aside.  In a large bowl, heat evoo over medium-high heat and saute minced garlic, onion, cellery and carrots for about 5 minutes.  Pour in crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, zucchini and spelt.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.  After the 30 minutes, toss in the kale and seasonings, stir and cover and let simmer for another 10 minutes.  Thats i!  Pour in a bowl and warm up with your spelt and kale minestrone1

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Meanie Greeney Linguine......Fresh Homemade Vegan Spinach Linguine!

I love a cooking challenge...always have, always will.  The first few times making my own pasta was a disaster!  But, that makes me want to make it more and more so I can perfect something I once thought was impossible.

Please note: I DO NOT have a pasta maker/roller...you really do not need that fancy attachment on your your mixer! We are going old school, people, using a rolling pin and cutting board.  And, guess what?  With a little love and muscle, this recipe makes one meanie linguine!

 Your Cuisinart definitely comes in handy when making the dough!  I think this is the step that I have missed in the past when attempting to make pasta dough.   Before, I would just use my hands to combine the water, oil and flour.  And man, that was a beast of a project!  Instead, use the dough blade, add in flour and then slowly pour in water and oil.  After a few minutes, a perfect ball of dough will form.  Voila!  You just saved a good amount of time!

Note: the key to a great, traditional pasta dough is semolina flour.  If you don't have this, it is worth making that trip to the grocery store!  I typically buy Bob's Red Mill brand.

Vegan Spinach Linguine 

1 c semolina flour
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 c water
1 tbsp evoo
pinch of salt
5 ounces blanched spinach pureed

With your food processor, using the dough blade, add in flour and salt and start the machine.  Slowly pour in the evoo and then water.  The consistency will resemble crumb like texture at first and then will slowly combine into a ball of dough.  Once that happens, remove the dough from the machine and just knead with your hands until smooth.  Your dough is now ready.  With a rolling pin, roll out dough until it is as thin as you can get it.  You may need to do this with a quarter of the dough at a time.  With a pasta cutter (or a pizza cutter), cut out each piece of linguine.  When done, carefully transfer to a pasta rack.
Air dry your pasta for about 20 minutes.  Your pasta is ready now!  You can either boil it right away or store in air tight package.  Note, your fresh pasta will only take about a minute or two to boil.
Serve with your favorite sauce!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Vegan Lemongrass Infused Soba Noodle Soup

Who doesn't like a big bowl of delicious noodles in a "creamy" vegan lemongrass scented broth?  It is light yet comforting and aromatic.

I love lemongrass, especially in tom yum soup or tom kha gai.  Those are some of my favorite Thai soups out there!  Not only does it have a fresh citrus like flavor but has many medicinal properties and is great for your health!  The health benefits go on from helping with laryngitis to fever reducing to alleviating muscle spasms to stomach and muscle pains/spasms to an antidepressant....just to name a few.

I actually found chopped up, frozed lemongrass in a Vietnamese market, so I have been using it quite often!  It is also great to just use to make a simple tea! 

Ok now that you have your fun lemongrass facts, grab your soba and some vegetables and lets get cooking!

Vegan Lemongrass Infused Soba Noodle Soup
1 package soba noodles
4 c vegetable broth
2 c coconut milk
2 heaping spoons of chopped lemongrass, or 2 stalks of lemongrass
1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 chopped enoki mushrooms, or mushrooms of your choice
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 c tightly packed baby spinach
1-2 carrots, peeled into thin slices
1/4 c mirin (optional)
salt to taste
2 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp sesame or peanut oil
In a large pot, heat sesame or peanut oil over medium heat, add in minced ginger and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes.  Add in vegetable broth, coconut milk and lemongrass and bring to boil.  Cover, turn to low and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.  When you are ready to cook the noodles, remove lid and bring back to a boil.  Cook the noodles according to package, adding in all remaining vegetables and spices in the last minute (you do not want your greens to turn brown!)  Serve immediately!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Citrus-Soy Marinated King Oyster "Scallops" with Forbidden Black rice Stir Fry

I've been waiting some time to  make this recipe, or just really any recipe that emulates regular scallops.  Finally, I headed back to China and voila...the first thing my eyes zoomed in on were the king oyster mushrooms.

It is crazy how much these really emulate scallops and I will definitely be making the faux scallops again, playing around with another recipe.  Once cooked, the texture and touch was so similar to the real thing!  A fun and kitchy little idea that will make your taste buds dance and put a smile on your face.
The black forbidden rice is simple amazing.  I actually prefer forbidden rice over any other kind of rice.  The texture is a bit more firm and tastes slightly nutty. Not only does it taste better to me, but it is the most nutritious of all kinds of rice!  It has the highest amount of protein and double the amount of fiber.  Time to swap out brown rice for the forbidden kind!  Visually, it makes a sexy statement as well!

Citrus-Soy Marinated King Oyster "Scallops" with Forbidden Black rice Stir Fry
for the scallops:
1 large king oyster mushroom, sliced about 1/2 - 3/4 in thick
1/3 c soy sauce
1/2 orange, juiced
1 tbsp. agave nectar
1/2 tbsp sriracha
1 tbsp evoo
In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, orange juice, agave nectar and sriracha together.  Marinate the mushrooms in this sauce for about 10 minutes.  Save the reserved liquid for reducing and using as garnish at the end.
Heat evoo in a saute pan over medium.  Place each "scallop" in the pan and saute each side for about 2-3 minutes.  Poke with finger to assure doneness .  The should feel firm yet tender. 
for the forbidden rice stir fry:
1 c forbidden black rice
2 c water or vegetable broth
2 carrots, shredded
5 brussel sprounds, shredded
3 scallions, chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tbsp sesame oil
In a pot, bring water or broth to a boil, add in rice, cover and let rice cook for about 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.  Once the rice is done, set aside.  In a wok, heat the sesame oil on medium, add in garlic and ginger and shredded carrots and brussel sprouds and toss for about 3-5 minutes.  Add in the rice and scallions and toss for another minute or two. 


Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Best Vegan "Beef" Stew!

It's just mid November and it snowed in the city today.  So, clearly it is unseasonably cold for this time.  And, it is going to get down to the single digits on Monday as well.  Now comes the time when I want to move to Florida.  I swear we talk about it every year when it starts to get cold!  Maybe we need to strike gold and have two homes!

So on a night like this, who wouldn't want a hearty, comforting bowl of vegan beef stew???  Even better, we can enjoy the leftovers cuddling on the couch, watching Sunday football all day.  Sounds pretty good to me! 

So our last trip to the Vietnamese grocer, Ryan noticed some chunks of tvp beef.  We usually buy the tvp chicken, but this is the first time I have seen a soy beef product in this manner!  The specific product we bought was Verisoy Vegan Beef Slice.  Just like other tvp products, you have to rehydrate the product in broth or liquid for about 10-15 minutes. 

What to know about these products is that proper seasoning is crucial, otherwise the product could be a bit off-putting.  For this recipe, I used a vegan beef broth, vegan Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce to rehydrate the product.  Then, quickly tossed it with a vegan steak sauce before adding it to the stew.  This turned out to taste great!

The Best Vegan "Beef" Stew

for the tvp:
2 c vegan beef tvp
2 c vegan beef broth, or broth of choice
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp vegan steak sauce

for the stew
2 tbsp evoo
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 white or russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 c red wine
2 tbsp flour
reserve liquid from tvp
2 tbsp steak sauce
2 tbsp corn starch
2 bay leaves

for the beef tvp:
Bring broth with Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce sauce to a boil.  Stir in tvp beef slices, turn off heat and let soak for about 10-15 minutes.  Strain, reserving the remaining liquid for the stew.  In a bowl, toss the tvp beef slices with your vegan steak sauce.  Set aside.

for the stew:
In a large pot, heat evoo over med-high and saute onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.  Stir in you tomato paste and continue to stir.  Add in flour, stir for an additional minute or so, then add in red wine and let reduce by half.  Pour in broth and reserve liquid from the tvp.  Bring to boil, add in remaining ingredients and the tvp beef strips.  Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Serve with rice or noodles when ready to serve.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's another Smash Up!.....Vegan Carrot-Coconut Curry with Vegan Baked Pakoras

I just got a new laptop yesterday so I am still trying to get used to this thing.  I am so used to my Apple laptop and have no clue what all this new Windows stuff is.  I want my Apple back :(
And, I keep striking the wrong keys because this keypad is so much larger.  So I guess that is my excuse if there are typos and just plain weird stuff going on in this post.

I have so many recipes that I have yet to post.  There is a long list on my refrigerator of what I still need to write about...if I wait any longer, I am going to forget them!  But, I am so excited about what I prepared this evening, I am going to put them on a longer post, to talk about this Indian-Thai smash up recipe!

If you aren't familiar with pakoras, they are originally from India but are also becoming popular in Southeast Asia.  Typically they are a fried snack using gram flour.  I used a different method, replacing the gram flour with rice flour or chickpea flour and baking them instead of frying. 

I chose to make the pakoras into an entrée by involving them into a carrot coconut curry.  Both have the curry aspect, but the lime in the curry adds a nice acidic element to the dish and cuts through the richness of both the soup and the pakoras.  I am not sure if a carrot coconut curry exists, but if you have never tried it or seen it, it is absolutely spectacular.  And, if you would like, top with vegan raita sauce.  This brings a nice refreshing and cooling aspect to the dish!

Vegan Carrot-Coconut Curry with Vegan Baked Pakoras
Ingredients/Directions for the Carrot-Coconut Curry:
5 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of light coconut milk
3-4 c vegetable broth
1/2 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp evoo

Heat evoo on med-high and saute carrots, onions, garlic and ginger for about 5 minutes.  Add in broth and coconut milk and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Add soup back to pot and heat when ready to serve.

Ingredients/Directions for the Vegan Pakoras:

1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
2 carrots, shredded
1 zucchini, shredded
1/2 c broccoli, chopped
1 c chickpea flour
3/4 c water
1/2 tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
salt to taste

Preheat oven 500.
In a bowl, combine chickpea flour and the spices together, mix in water and stir until completely combined. Toss in all your vegetables and stir the batter into the veggies.  With your hands, for about 2 inch balls and place on an oiled baking pan.  Bake 10 minutes, flipping half way through.  Drop these babies in your carrot coconut curry soup or try with vegan raita or a chutney!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Herbed Polenta with Vegan Sausage and Ratatouille

Ryan and I just got back from Green Bay this afternoon and man did we have a great night!  Box suite seats for the Packers vs Bears game.  Great win for Green Bay, tough night for Chicago though.  I kind of felt like royalty though.  While most fans shivered in the cold, all bundled up, we lounged in a suite with free food and beverages.  I mean, who can complain??

Now, lets talk food.  Typically I am not the biggest polenta fan because it just seems pretty bland to me.  But this time, things were much much different!  The polenta was firm with a nice crust to the top of it, and screaming with an Italian herb mixture.

I love Ratatouille....both the dish and the movie!!!  What a cute movie!  Now I want to watch it again!  Anyway, adding your homemade Italian sausage crumbles to the mix, spices things up a bit.  The two really compliment each other!  Also, I prefer to roast the ratatouille...for me, roasted anything is better than sautéed!

Herbed Polenta with Vegan Sausage and Ratatouille 
for the polenta:
1 c corn meal
1 quart vegetable broth (I like to make my own!)
1 small yellow, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. vegan butter
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2-1 tbsp Italian herb
s+p to taste
Preheat oven to 350.  In a pot, heat vegan butter over medium-high heat and saute garlic and onion until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.  Pour in vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Slowly whisk in the cornmeal and continuously stir.  Add in Italian herbs and s+p to taste.
Lightly grease a pie pan and transfer polenta mixture into the pie pan.  Place in oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes.  Make sure you stir the mixture every 10 minutes.  Once done, remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes.  To remove the polenta from the pie pan, take a knife and run it around the edges.  Carefully flip it upside down and remove the polenta.  With a round mold, cut into cakes.
for the Vegan Sausage and Ratatouille:
1/2 c tvp
1/2 c vegetable broth or vegan jamon broth (I love that stuff!)
1/2 tbsp chipotle adobo sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste
1 eggplant, cut into cubes
1 zucchini cut into quarter pieces
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh basil
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary
2-3 tbsp evoo
s+p to taste
Preheat oven 450.  Toss the eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion, garlic, evoo and seasoning in a bowl.  Pour into a baking dish and bake for about 30-40 minutes.  Stir the ratatouille every 10 minutes and add more evoo if need be.  Note that eggplant soaks up a lot of moisture!  Remove from oven when all the veggies are soft and caramelized in the own juices.  Also note that the longer this sits, more flavors develop....yum!
As for the sausage, bring the broth to a boil and mix in tvp.  Turn off heat and let the tvp soak up the liquid for about 10-15 minutes.  Stir in the remaining ingredients until completely combined.  Add to ratatouille and serve over your polenta!  Whew!  I know, but it is worth it!