Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Burgers, "Doritos" & Pasta Salad - Summer in Brooklyn!

The weather here in Brooklyn (and all over the US I'm sure) has been hideously hideously hot lately.  Unbearably so in fact.  What Hubbs and I initially thought of as a great grilling summer has turned into a stay inside or sweat to death outside and die of dehydration kind of summer thus far.  We grilled for the first and only time about a month ago in Prospect Park when it wasn't exactly warm, but rather cool and refreshing out and had a great time.  We had veggie burgers, homemade pasta salad and those strange natural doritos-like chips they have in health food stores.  It was a simple outing with simple fare, but was a great time.  We vowed to do it again and again.  But it has been in the triple digets so much or the lowest being the low 90's, that it has not been worth it or even desirable.  I'm hoping the weather will cool slightly (mid 80's are great!) and we can bust out our tiny NY grill.  It actually looks relatively decent sized in the pictures, but if my family or friends back in MI saw the size, they would laugh hysterically!

Anyway, we had a great time and definitely want to go again soon!

Hubby lighting the charcoal, wearing the gloves
his wifey insisted upon bringing! ;)

The tasty fare: Veggie Burger, "Doritos", Pasta Salad

All the goodies piled on the burger.  Yum!



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Crepes with Homemade Nutella

These pictures are admittedly from the very first time I made vegan crepes for the family I was cooking for almost a year ago now.  You can tell from the first picture that the first couple were thicker than they should have been, but they were still crazy delicious!  Now you may be wondering how or why there is nutella in the middle of the crepes, since nutella isn't vegan - it contains both skim milk and whey.  That's why I made my own vegan nutella, which turned out amazingly!  It wasn't as smooth as the nutella that comes in the jar, but is was just as delicious as I remember it being, probably even more so because it was sweetened with agave and was both dairy and soy free. 

I made another  batch several weeks ago when Hubbs and I were testing smoothie recipes for our cafe.  We wanted to make a breakfast coffee chocolately smoothie and everything we had tested so far was pretty terrible to be honest.  Then I had the brilliant idea to put some of the nutella I made in it and it was crazy delicious!  Smoothie approved for the cafe!  Yay!  So, I'm not going to include the recipe for the crepes, because they came from the vegan brunch cookbook, but I am including the recipe for the vegan nutella.  Make it and soon because it is so freaking delicious!

Crepe filled with delicious chocolatey vegan nutella!

Vegan Nutella

Yields about 2 cups

8 oz. raw hazelnuts

1/2 oz. cocoa powder
2 1.2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
heaping 1/3 cup agave
heaping 1/3 cup hazelnut milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the skins come off easily.
3. Allow the hazelnuts to cool for several minutes, then remove the skins.
4. Place the still warm hazelnuts in the food processor and process for several minutes, until the hazelnuts turn into a butter.
5. Add the remaining ingredients: the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, canola oil, sea salt, agave and hazelnut milk.
6. Blend for several more minutes, or until completely smooth.
7. Season to taste.
8. Place in a sealable container. Allow the mixture to cool for several hours in the refrigerator before using, to thicken.

Pile o' vegan crepes!

Look at that deliciousness!



Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dominican Okra Stew Over Steamed Rice with Fire Roasted Eggplant & Salad

This was a very simple recipe that came together quickly in this hot hot heat, which I really appreciated, because although I usually absolutely love the kitchen and want to spend hours upon hours there, it has been unbearably hot and uncomfortable.  Today the kitchen must have reached over 100 degrees, and I wanted to spend as little time as possible in there.  So before I started cooking of any kind, I prepped all the veggies for the okra stew and eggplant and made the entire salad and dressing.  Every couple of minutes I ran sweating for the ac in the living room, gulped some ice water and ran back into the kitchen.  Then I got the rice cooking, started roasting the eggplant and cooking the okra stew all at the same time so that everything would be done as close to the same time as possible.  It got really hot in there, but all finished within half an hour, then hubbs and I had a beautiful dinner.  Yum! 

That's the one thing I don't like about the summer - relying more on take out because it is just too miserable to cook.  But I'm not the biggest fan of places I don't really know or workers I don't know cooking my food - I'm weird like that.  I also don't like that I don't know exactly what is going in my food.  I might have sweat a lot, but damn did we enjoy a delicious dinner!  I think for dinner tomorrow I'm going to be making a tomato and tofu salad with a balsamic marinade.  My work is going through so much organic produce and throwing away thousands of pounds of food a day, which is sickening, and I am taking home as much of it as I can use.  So I have a lot of tomatoes, berries and eggplant (hence tonight's dinner!).  I made pico de gallo yesterday and had some nachos loaded with veggies and kalamata olives. Yum.  I could almost eat the pico as a soup it's that good, seriously.  I'll have to put the recipe up soon.

Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Okra Stew over White
Rice, Fire Roasted Eggplant

Fire Roasted Eggplant

Serves 2-3

1 eggplant, well washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sofrito
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons adobo with cilantro
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon boullion
1/2 cup filtered water

1.  Place washed eggplant on the stovetop directly over the flame.  Allow the eggplant to cook on all sides, turning frequently, until blackened all over.  (Keep a window open-it gets a little smoky.)
2.  Place the eggplant in a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow the eggplant to sweat for 10 or so minutes.
3.  Once the egggplant sweats, bring it to the sink and begin removing all of the blackened skin.  If a few pieces remain, that's ok, it will only mean more flavor.  Remove any tough spots, as well as the very top.  Use your hands to mash up the eggplant as much as possible. 
4.  Place the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and allow to become hot.  Once the oil is hot, add the sofrito and tomato paste and "fry" for several minutes, stirring frequently.  Once the mixture becomes fragrant, add the eggplant, adobo, black pepper, bouillion and water.  Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is very well flavored and some of the water has evaporated. 

Fire Roasted Eggplant
(Not the prettiest thing I know, but crazy delicious!!)