Thursday, December 20, 2007

Leek and Bean Cassoulet With Biscuits

How on earth do you post pictures side-by-side in blogger?

Anyhoo, this is the leek and bean cassoulet with biscuits from Veganomicon. This dish is comfort food at its best. It's a sort of vegetable stew with biscuits baked right on top. Yummy! My boyfriend tried to convince me that since he'd never had leeks before, that this should count as Mission 3 of Operation Let's Eat Some New Vegetables, but I voted him down. After all, we eat onions all the time and they are both from the same genus. I didn't pick out a new vegetable at the store the other day, so there probably won't be a new mission until after New Years (we are going to visit his parents in Nashville all next week).

Something I have noticed about Veganomicon is that when they tell you approximately how long a recipe will take from start to finish, they are actually right. That might sound like a small thing, but someone the times are rarely right for other cookbooks, so this makes me happy.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mission 2: Spinach

Mission 2 for Operation "Let's Eat Some New Vegetables" brings us the mushroom and spinach strata from Veganomicon. I am pleased with myself for getting my boyfriend to eat spinach without complaint. Normally he's quite scared of the stuff and has even pleaded with me not to add it to lasagna. I picked out this recipe to make before we went grocery shopping yesterday. When we were in the produce section, I simply said that I needed some spinach and picked some out. He did not even question what I was going to do with it. I was already working on the recipe when he came home from work, and he said that it smelled good. Not once did he balk that it contained spinach. And....he loved the dish! (As did I.) It uses blended up soft tofu (with some other ingredients) as the base of the custard, which is poured over the vegetable and bread cube mixture. I should have taken a picture of the whole dish, as it was pretty neat looking.

The spicy yogurt tempeh is a test recipe for frecklefoot (another ppk member) of One Chubby Vegan. It was tasty and I was glad to find another tempeh preparation that my boyfriend likes (although I think his favorite will always be tempeh wingz....I can't really blame him on that one). Mine didn't turn out to be all that spicy at all, though. Most of the other testers have reported that theirs was, though, so either some of my spices weren't as hot as theirs, or I just like things spicier. Either one is certainly a possibility. I will still make this dish again, but will add more spice to it probably. I'd also like to try baking it. I tend to like to try the same recipe both pan-fried and baked, to see which we prefer.

We have finally finished all of our stuffed mushrooms (there were several meals between the previous post and this one). They were good, but I was getting kind of tired of them. Perhaps that's why people usually serve stuffed mushrooms as party appetizers, as there are more people around to eat them.

Operation "Let's Eat Some New Vegetables"

This is our first meal from Operation "Let's Eat Some New Vegetables." Said new vegetable is cauliflower, mainly chosen because 1) we never use it and 2) it was on sale at the grocery store. I got the idea for popcorn cauliflower from mollyjade on the ppk forums. You cut the florets off the head of cauliflower, toss with olive oil, and roast at 400 degrees F, stirring occasionally (which I did not do...woops), until the cauliflower is soft and the edges begin to caramelize (approximately 45 minutes). Serve sprinkled with seasoned salt or your favorite seasoning. It really did remind me of popcorn (probably due mostly to the seasoned salt, but still). Mission 1 from Operation "Let's Eat Some New Vegetables" was a rousing success.

I served the cauliflower with tempeh wingz from Issue 1 of Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk and some stuffed mushrooms. Said stuffed mushroom recipe was just kind of made up, mainly because I was missing ingredients for just about every stuffed mushroom recipe I found. They were good, but there sure were a lot more mushrooms in that package than it looked like at first glance. We had enough mushrooms to fill both a 9x13" and an 8" square glass baking dish.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sesame Tofu

Somehow this picture slipped through the cracks when I was looking through all my backlogged food pictures. I got the recipe for sesame tofu from the Whole Foods' website, and the only change I had to make was subbing agave nectar for the honey (and I left out the scallions because I did not have any). This was good, but I don't know if I'd make it again. I think I'm just not a huge fan of sweet sauces at dinner.

And here's some more....

I finally got around to trying the pumpkin cinnamon rolls from the second issue of Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk. I have no clue why I waited so long to make these, because they are awesome. They were nice and soft with just a hint of pumpkin flavor. For those of you who haven't ordered the second issue yet, she put the recipe up on her blog. The only change I made was I used a 9x13" pan, as a 9" square pan just seemed to small to me. Normally I like my cinnamon rolls covered in cream cheese (Tofutti non-hydrogenated, of course) icing, but these were good with just the glaze.

For Hanukkah, I made the potato latkes from Veganomicon. Sorry I didn't get a very good picture of them. These were good, but I am undecided as to whether I prefer latkes with or without matzah meal. They had more body this way, but still...I'm just not sure. I like both, though. Last weekend we had a family Hanukkah celebration in Columbia, SC. We spent the night at my parents' house in Greenville, then drove down to Columbia just for the day on Saturday. I brought the leftover latkes to serve with dinner Friday night and my dad really liked them (I'm sure Momma would have, too, but she wasn't there...she went to go help out my sister with her new baby). At the family Hanukkah celebration, they made me some vegan latkes before they fried the non-vegan ones. My aunt even made me vegan cookies (Mexican wedding cookies from The Joy of Vegan Baking, which she got me for Hanukkah).

I brought some dessert with me to the family Hanukkah, so there were vegan cookies galore. I got this sugar cookie recipe from A Veg*n for Dinner. I didn't use any food coloring for the icing, though, as I avoid artificial colors and the natural food colorings are just too expensive for me right now (and I've never seen them locally anyway). I also made the sparkled ginger cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance, but I didn't take a picture because I've also blogged about them before. I have learned that my family is scared of the word ginger, but if I call them "molasses cookies," they are okay. Crazy people.

This is the hot and sour soup with napa cabbage and woodear mushrooms (I may have muddled that name up a bit) from Veganomicon. My cabbage was being stubborn about coming off the head of cabbage neatly, so I cut it up in the food processor instead. The only other time I've had hot and sour soup was at a restaurant in Richmond, VA called Panda Veg. It was good, but homemade is better (and quite simple). Awhile back we were at a Whole Foods and we found this little package of dried woodear mushrooms for a reasonable price. We'd never even heard of woodear mushrooms, but we bought them anyway, then couldn't think of a use for them. Veganomicon arrived and ta-da, finally a recipe that calls for them. This soup is both spicy and filling and the leftovers reheat well.
Hanging out behind the soup are some homemade fried wontons. They would have been spring rolls, but I was having a ton of trouble with the rice paper wrappers. I got so frustrated that I defrosted the wonton wrappers that I had in the freezer and decided to use those. I know that wontons are normally boiled, but I already had the oil all set to fry, so I just went ahead with this. They actually turned out pretty well this way. The filling was napa cabbage, red cabbage, dried shiitake mushrooms, Morningstar Farms chik'n strips (they'd been hanging out in the freezer for quite awhile, so I figured I might as well use them in something), soy sauce, sriracha sauce, ginger, and garlic.

I'm still here. No, really, I am.

I have been a really lazy blogger in the past month. As you can see from all of these pictures, though, I haven't been so lazy about cooking and baking.

We went to my sister's house in North Carolina for Thanksgiving. In addition to the vegan Thanksgiving meal I brought with me, I also brought some blueberry muffins for breakfast. I want to make the ones out of Damn Tasty, but I didn't have any soy yogurt. I found this recipe on VegWeb. I had all of the ingredients and it got such good reviews, that I figured it was worth a shot. The results were...meh. Despite turning out fairly pretty, if I do say so myself, the muffins weren't very flavorful (okay, they were downright bland) and were rather crumbly. I definitely don't plan on trying that recipe again. I don't know...maybe they'd be better with a teaspoon of vanilla and some sort of binder.

For Thanksgiving, I made whole wheat dressing/stuffing from homemade bread. I didn't really follow a recipe on that one, just looked at several different recipes to get a basic idea of what I should do, then went from there. This turned out well, but I should have let the bread dry out a bit more before I used it.

I also made the holiday cranberry sauce from Veganomicon. It got rave reviews from everyone who tried it (even my incredibly picky-eater sister tried it...I was impressed). I also made the mashed spiced sweet potatoes from Veganomicon, but I didn't take a picture because I've blogged about them before. They are so simple and everyone loved them, too. My brother even ate sweet potatoes for the first time. Have I mentioned that my siblings are not very adventuresome eaters? My brother's girlfriend is getting him to try new foods, though. One day, I will get my siblings to actually eat vegetables (besides corn, which they already eat).

This is the rustic white beans and mushrooms from Veganomicon. This recipe made a TON. I would probably cut it in half the next time I make it (and I will make it boyfriend saw me make it, but didn't get to have any because he went to his parents' house for Thanksgiving. He said it looked good and asked me to make it another time, though.). I was going to have this as the main part of my Thanksgiving meal, but my boyfriend insisted on getting me a Tofurky when we were at the store. I do like Tofurky, but I sure can't get it to slice very neatly. Every time I try, the stuffing crumbles and spills right out. I think their stuffing recipe could use some work, personally.

One night I decided to be adventurous and make homemade sweet potato gnocchi. Oy, what a pain. I have no idea how people manage to shape gnocchi into anything remotely attractive-looking. It tasted good, but was a little gummy. It also made quite a bit and there is more waiting for me in the freezer. I served it with a homemade sundried tomato cream sauce, but I didn't write down what I put in it and it's been a couple of weeks now, so I don't remember. I know I used pureed canellini beans as the base, though.