Monday, August 31, 2009

tempeh helper

It’s been a very very long time since I’ve had Hamburger Helper, but as far as I can remember, this recipe is spot on. It took me back to that small house in Abilene, TX. After school, after homework, after playing and right before some sort of prime time TV lineup. This Tempeh Helper left me wih a happy belly and a happy conscience considering it’s 4,000 times healthier and fresher than the boxed nonsense.

From the PPK Blog:
Tempeh Helper
Makes 4 roughly one cup servings (serves 2 if you’re super hungry)
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 oz tempeh
3 cups water
6 oz small shell pasta, or about a cup (I used quinoa pasta)
A handful frozen peas, about 1/4 cup
For the seasoning mix:
2 teaspoons onion flakes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon mild chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoon broth powder (I used Frontier chicken-style broth)
2 teaspoons arrowroot or corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Have a lid at the ready because you’ll need to cover it at some point.
Drizzle the oil in the pan and tear the tempeh into bite sized pieces, adding them to the pan. Saute for about 5 minutes, until tempeh is lightly browned. In the meantime, mix the seasoning together in a mixing bowl.
Add a few tablespoons of water to the tempeh to deglaze the pan. Add the 3 cups of water and seasoning mix, giving a good stir to get it all mixed in. Add the pasta and cover. Bring the heat up to a boil. Once boiling, you can reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring once. Remove the lid, and cook until the sauce is reduced and thickened to your liking, usually about 3 minutes. Taste for salt.
Serve topped with Eazy Breezy Cheezy Sauce.
Eazy Breezy Cheezy Sauce
Makes 2 cups
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons onion flakes
1/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/8 ground turmeric
2 tablespoons broth powder (I used Frontier chicken-style broth)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
Add nutritional yeast, flour, garlic, onion flakes, salt, turmeric and broth powder to a bowl and mix together. Add 2 cups water and use a fork to mix and beat out any big lumps. Once relatively smooth, pour into a 2 quart sauce pot. Turn heat up to medium high and stir often for about 5 minutes. Once boiling, bring it down to a slow boil. It should start bubbling and thickening. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly, until it has a thick, smooth melted cheese consistency.
Mix in mustard and taste for salt. Serve hot or warm.

Monday, August 24, 2009

avk: scattred sushi

Another meal from The Asian Vegan Kitchen Project: Scattered sushi (sushi rice, snow peas, carrots, lotus root and nori strips) and Crunchy Vegetable Salad (not pictured.)

Not much to say. It was extremely tasty!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bento this week #2

I only packed two dinners this week.

Scrambled tofu, mushroom rice balls, sautéed broccoli, two more rice balls and a little bottle of soy sauce.

TJ frozen penne alla arrabiata, sauteed tofu with broccoli/red bell pepper/zucchini, green olive tapenade (in the sm. container), pumpkin shaped garlic bread

Friday, August 21, 2009

family recipes: oma’s potato salad

What constitutes a German potato salad? Does it have to be warm? Sans mayo? Made by a German? I don’t know. This salad is not warm, but it does not contain mayo and it’s made by a German: my Oma. I was totally spoiled as a kid with this salad. To me, potato salad always meant potatoes, bacon, eggs and pickles. I was really turned off when I saw people eating gloopy potato salad with mayonnaise.

I always crave this salad, but with the eggs and bacon, it seemed kind of a pain to veganize. False! It’s totally easy. I’m so glad to have this salad back in my life. It’s sans gloop and super tasty. Thank God I can finally eat it again. I’ve felt really left out at family events :-(. Now I can make my own, and show them that a delicious vegan version is totally possible.

It seems like there’s a lot to this recipe, but it’s just prep work. You can even take some short cuts if you want. Read on:

Oma’s Potato Salad:
(makes 4 side dish servings)
  • 4 medium sized yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cubed (or sliced) and cooked
  • 1/4 cup TVP bacon bits (recipe follows) or any vegan bacon, chopped and browned
  • 2 oz. salad tofu egg (recipe follows)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vegetable broth powder dissolved in 2 tsp. water
  • 1 medium sized pickle, small diced
  • 2 tbls. onion, small diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. In a bowl carefully toss together potatoes, “bacon”, tofu egg, pickle and onion.
2. Into potato combo drizzle olive oil, vinegar and vegetable broth. Caferfully toss together. If it looks too dry, add a little more oil or vegetable broth. It will be dryer than mayonnaise-y potato salad, but it should stay together when stirred. The consitancy you want is dry, but stuck together. Does that make sense?
3. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temp or cold.

TPV Bacon Bits
(should make about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 Tbls. tvp granules
  • 2 Tbls. hot water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1/4 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. rice vinegar
1. Combine tvp and water to rehydrate.
2. Into the tvp, mix in the rest of the ingredients. Combine well!
3. Brown tvp in a cast iron skillet. I just spray with a little bit of canola oil spray and stir often. The bacon only needs to be a little browned so it should only take a few minutes.

Salad Tofu Egg
(if you’re like me and miss hard boiled eggs on your salads)
  • 2 oz firm tofu, only slightly pressed
  • 1/4 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 generous pinch Kala Namak (indian black salt)
1. Cut the tofu in 1 inch long thin strips. They should resemble sliced hard boiled eggs (example *WARNING! UNVEGAN PIC OF AN EGG*)
2. Carefully toss with olive oil and black salt

I just want to point out how stellar this recipe is for potlucks and picnics. It doesn’t have to be kept cold (no mayo!) and actually tastes better at room temperature.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

family recipes: s.o.s.

Another meal from my Veganizing Family Recipes project.

Apparently this one came from my Opa even though I swear I remember Oma making it. They always made it for breakfast, but Mom would make it for dinner. It goes both ways!

I’ve missed S.O.S. dearly. It’s delicious and perfect and comforting and cheap and way easy. I’m beginning to feel more at home already :-).

(serves 1, but can be altered easily to serve more)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2.5 oz veggie crumbles or 1 veggie burger, crumbled
  • 1/2 sm. onion, diced
  • 1 tbls. flour
  • 1/2 cup original unsweetened rice milk (Soy milk tastes too soyish.)
  • 1 -2 dashes of soy sauce*
  • salt and lots of pepper to taste
1. In a sm. nonstick pan or cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onion and veggie crumbles. Stir often and cook until onions are fragrant and crumbles are browned.
2. Whisk in the flour, making sure all the fat is absorbed. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking. Once everything is combined, turn heat to medium low. Add the soy sauce. Let simmer until thickened and gravy like (around 2 – 3 mintutes.)
3. Once the gravy has thickened, turn off heat and add salt & pepper to taste. Serve over toast or bicuits.

* The soy sauce adds a certain depth of flavor that makes this dish work without beef. Don’t forget it!

So Delicious.

Monday, August 17, 2009

avk: kinoko no takikomi gohan, iridofu & miso shiru

Otherwise known as mushroom rice balls, scrambled tofu and miso soup.

This is the third meal I’ve made for the Asian Vegan Kitchen project. I’ve never been crazy about mushrooms, but I made a promise to make as many recipes as possible, and these rice balls were possible. And……… they’re delicious! The recipe is rice, burdock, carrots and mushrooms cooked in shiitake dashi broth and rolled into balls. There’s some sake and soy sauce in them, too. I’m opening up to mushrooms 🙂

The scrambled tofu was different from any other scrambled tofu that I’ve made. The flavor profile was unique and gingery and fresh. I’ll be making this A LOT. And even though I said I wasn’t going to post a bunch of recipes from the book, I’m posting this recipe. It’s just too good not to share.

Scrambled Tofu
(from The Asian Vegan Kitchen)
  • 1 1/4 lb. firm tofu, pressed
  • 1 tbls. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms caps, diced
  • 3 tbls. bell pepper, any color, diced
  • 3 tsp. soy sauce
  • pinch chili flakes
  • pinch salt
  • chopped chives (garnish)
  • kaiware radish sprouts (garnish)
  • shichimi pepper, to serve
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the ginger. Put in scallions, shiitake and bell pepper and saute over high heat for 1 minute.
2. Put the tofu in the pan and mix with a wooden spoon until crumbled. Keep stirring for 2 – 3 minutes, until excess liquid has been absorbed. Add the soy sauce, chili flakes and salt.
3. Serve garnished with chives and radish sprouts. Sprinkle with shichimi pepper to taste.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

school lunches (erm..dinners)

As much as I don’t like talking about school, I do enjoy showing off my dinners. I haven’t gotten into the intensely artistic side of Bento, but I make my meals looks as appealing as I can.

My schoolmates are always commenting on how cute my boxes are and how delicious my meals look. Yay veganism!

I say ‘boxes’, but my other bento box broke so I’m down to one and a half at the moment.

Thursday’s dinner:

Edamame spears, stirfry (asparagus, home grown zucchini, home grown bell pepper, onion and spinach), pan fried tofu, brown and white rice combo and soy sauce. Simple and tasty.

I was planning on putting more dinners up here, but I only packed a lunch for school once this week. So…more next week! If they’re interesting enough.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

avk: nabeyaki udon & kakiage

The second meal for the Asian Vegan Kitchen Project: Udon! And vegetable fritters.

I was particularly excited about this one because I’ve never had udon. In all my years of eating Japanese food, the popular soup never made it’s way into my belly. I think this attributed to my expectations being a little too high.

It’s not that it wasn’t good. It was good and very warm and the broth was DELICIOUS. I guess I was expecting the clouds to open up and angels to sing, but I really just got a bowl of noodles. Good, but not great. It was pretty basic, but I can see it being a nice comfort food. Nevertheless, I was underwhelmed.

The vegetable fritters were incredibly good and really really easy. They made a great addition to the udon noodles, and I will make them again and often. Yum!

P.S. Soup is really hard to photograph.

Monday, August 10, 2009

family recipes: fried noodles

Another project under my belt: veganizing family standards. As all vegans do. My grandmothers each had their own recipes that I cherished as a kid. So far I’ve veganized, like, two of them. That’s all going to change.

At home, my parents did what they could. Neither of them were foodies nor did they know much about nutrition. My mother knew a little, but could only do so much. We ate instant ramen and Hamburger Helper, but God forbid we keep white bread in the house. We rarely kept candy or chips around because Mom opted for pretzels, fruit and peanut butter crackers. She did what she could. One of the few things she would make from scratch was my favorite of her mother’s (my Oma) specialties. Fried noodles.

The gist of my Oma’s fried noodles is this: Cooked macaroni and bits of bacon pan fried together with scrambled eggs in bacon grease. Don’t let the bacon and eggs fool you, this is a dinner. As a vegan, thoughts of eggs and bacon make me feel pukey, but when I look back to my childhood I don’t see eggs, bacon and noodles. I see Fried Noodles. One of my most challenging projects since going vegan (5 years ago) has been to veganize it.

The recipe here is really good and the closest I’ve gotten. Does it taste exactly like what everyone else in my family blindly enjoys? No. But it is delicious, cruelty free and more than enough to satisfy my cravings. Oh yeah….and it’s AMAZING. Make it.

Fried Noodles:
(makes one big serving)
  • 2 rounded tablespoons bacon bits/tvp bacon bits/chopped up tempeh bacon
  • 4 oz tofu egg (recipe follows)
  • 2 oz (about 1/2 cup) dry macaroni (or bite size pasta), cooked
1. Pan fry “bacon” with the smallest amount of oil as possible. It’s important to use little oil in this recipe because it can get greasy really fast. I use canola oil spray.
2. When bacon is almost browned, add the tofu egg. Add a little more oil* to give the tofu something to cook in, but remember: minimal oil!
3. When tofu is pretty golden, add pasta (and a little more oil if needed.) Pan fry until pasta is slighty browned.
4. Season with black salt (or sea salt) and lots of pepper.

* It seems like it would be easier to add enough oil in the begining to fry everything, but it’s really not. It gets really greasy that way. With this way, you can control the oil. It doesn’t take but 30 seconds or so to heat up as it’s such a small amount of oil that you’re adding at a time.

Tofu Egg:
(slightly modified from Native Foods Cookbook)
  • 4 oz firm tofu, lightly pressed and crumbled
  • 2 pinches tumeric
  • 1 generous pinch black salt (Kala Namak*) or sea salt if you don’t have black salt
1. Gently add tumeric and black salt to tofu. Save until ready to pan fry.

* The black salt really takes this dish from awesome to REALLY REALLY awesome. Regular salt is fine and still good. It just won’t have that eggy, sulfury taste.

avk: shiitake mushroom dashi

I don’t plan on posting recipes from The Asian Vegan Kitchen because I think everyone should buy it immediately. But I will make an exception for the Shiitake Mushroom Dashi because it’s simple, traditional and probably not a recipe thats impossible to find out there. So I’m putting it on my blog. The reason is this: it’s wonderful. So warm and comforting yet light and barely there. If that makes any sense. It’s the perfect base for miso soup (or any light soup) when mixed with konbu dashi or on it’s own.

Shiitake Mushroom Dashi:
(from The Asian Vegan Kitchen)
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 cups water
1. Wash the shiitake briefly.
2. Soak the shiitake in 3 cups of water. Place a small lid or plate over the mushrooms to prevent them from floating. Leave for 4 – 5 hours then remove the shiitake and use water for stock. (If short on time, pour 3 cups of boiling water over the mushrooms and let them stand covered for 10 minutes.) The broth should have an amber color and the fragrance should be mushroomy.

matcha green tea latte

I’ve come across so many wonderful looking recipes requiring matcha green tea, but I just couldn’t bring myself to buy any. It’s always $10 – $20 for a small container, and I had no idea how much I would use, if I would like it or if it was cost effective to own. For years I debated buying some until I found a small bag for 4 bucks at Mitsuwa! Yay! Debate over! I bought some. Turns out I LOVE it and it can be very cost effective.

Due to genetic heart problems, my body started rejecting caffeine late last year. I’ve had to significantly cut down my caffeine consumption and I was worried about matcha green tea giving me heart palpitations. Lucky for me, there’s no need to worry (at least for the time being!) I won’t get into the nitty gritty details about MGT because I’m still learning, but I am going to link to a few helpful articles that I hope you read if A) you are skeptical about buying MGT, but are considering it B) you can’t drink a lot of caffeine, but really miss it or C) have some in your pantry for baking, but haven’t made a cup for drinking.

It really is wonderful. I can drink a whole cup/glass without skipped heartbeats or anxiety. It tastes wonderful, feels wonderful and is so good for you. If you have the time, read on:

Article on MGT from SleepWarrior
Prepare for the REAL Matcha Revolution
Matcha – Wikipedia

Also, if you have any in your house, make a Matcha Green Tea latte. Not an authentic drink, definitely not ceremonial, but delicious all the same. Cut down on the sugar if need be! I do. Slightly modified from RecipeZaar:

Matcha Green Tea Latte:
1. Mix matcha green tea powder with water until completely dissolved. Stir in sugar.
2. Add milk and vanilla and stir well.
3. Serve over ice
Optional: If drinking warm, just heat milk with water. Be careful not to boil!

the asian vegan kitchen project

I miss cooking. I mean, I cook regularly, but not from cookbooks. I guess I miss making other people’s recipes. So that’s what this project is about.

I want to go through an entire cookbook. At least get through as much of it as possible. When going through my books, The Asian Vegan Kitchen popped out at me almost immediately. Hema Parekh takes you anywhere you’d want to go in Asia with her authentic recipes. Her book includes recipes from India, Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia and Korea. Where to start?

Japan, thats where! I came up with 14 menus and my plan so far is to make three – four a week until I get through the country. Then I’m off to Thailand! Or China. or Malaysia.

I made my first menu last night, but being hungry and new to photographing food, I didn’t take a picture. I won’t do that again because it was beautiful and delicious and I can’t believe I have no documentation. In case you were wondering, I made: Miso Shiru (miso soup with tofu and wakame), Goma-ae (Spinach with Sesame Dressing) and Teriyakidofu (Tofu Teriyaki Steak with Sauteed Asparagus and Mushrooms.) Yum. Yum. Yum.