Friday, November 29, 2013

Steamed Romanesco

I am Gorgeous!

Last Sunday my Husband and I attended a vegan potluck with the TC Vegans.  I believe we have gone to three of the potlucks so far since we have moved to Michigan, and this one was definitely the best so far.  So much tasty vegan food!  I made a couple tasty things too.  An Israeli cous cous salad (recipe coming soon) and Peanut Butter Cream Pie.  We also had some vegan gf lasagna, sweet potatoes, homemade baked beans, a sort of enchilada casserole and I'm sure a couple other things I am forgetting.  One of the lovely ladies there made a tasty stir-fry using romanesco and was talking about how much she liked the vegetable.  I told her I wasn't a fan of the vegetable and she gave me a piece of it raw, before she added it to her stir fry.  I was pretty sceptical, but tried it, and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor - a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.  Perhaps the one I tried all those years ago wasn't super fresh?  I was fortunate to have the Hubby bring one home from work and decided to try it again.  But since Thanksgiving was so close, I didn't want to make something super involved.  So I simply steamed it and tossed it with olive oil and sea salt.  It was very simple and tasty!   Hubby thought it was a little plain, so he added some tamari and red pepper flakes.  Simple and tasty - I'll definitely have to make something out of it again, once I feel more like cooking after the Thanksgiving food coma goes away!

Simply Steamed

Steamed Romanesco:

1 head romanesco, separated into florets
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Seasoned Salt, Red Pepper Flakes, Tamari, Chipotle Pepper as desired

1.  Steam the romanesco in a steamer basket over boiling water till just tender.  Remove from steamer basket, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt (or other desired toppings). 


Monday, November 18, 2013

Vegan "Shrimp" in a Creamy Sauce, Tomato "Cheese" Salad, Steamed Broccoli

One of the last times I went to the store May Wah in Chinatown in Manhattan, I looked at their board with posted sales.  It's usually the most random and strange veganized items you could imagine - like lamb, duck and shrimp - all vegan mind you!  So the shrimp were on sale and I decided on a whim to purchase them.  Years back, when I was still eating seafood, I had this delicious shrimp in a garlic cream sauce that I remember being out of this world.  I thought that would be a delicious thing to try to mimic. 

Since my husband still eats seafood, I decided I would just tell him that I was making a shrimp dish when he asked.  He thought that sounded good and I kept up the charade that it was "real" shrimp until I served it up.  When I put it in front of him, he looked at it a little strangely and asked me if I was sure it was shrimp.  I couldn't keep a straight face and ended up laughing a little hysterically.  I told him yes it was real shrimp - real vegan shrimp that is.  Way too funny!  He was very suspicious and kind of grossed out and took a tiny bite.  I have to say those things look way realistic and the texture was creepily reminiscent of how I remember shrimp being.  Hubbs thought the texture was similar, but the taste not even close.  I agreed that the taste was a bit strange - kind of sea-weedy.  It's probably not something I would buy again, but it was definitely fun and the sauce was crazy delicious!

Creamy Sauce, Fresh Crispy Broccoli and Yummy Tomato Salad

 Serves 3-4
1/2 package bowtie pasta, cooked until al dente

"Shrimp" in a Creamy Garlic Sauce:
1/2 package vegan "shrimp", thawed & cut in half if desired
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons earth balance
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-2/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup unsweetened mimiccream
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Tomato "Cheese" Salad:
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup daiya mozarella-style vegan cheese, chopped into cubes
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Steamed Broccoli:
1 head broccoli, separated into florets, hard outside of stems peeled
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and black pepper to taste

1.  Prepare the tomato and cheese salad first.  It comes together very quickly, but definitely is better after marinating for a little while.  In a medium bowl, add the chopped tomato, chopped daiya, a splash of vinegar and olive oil and sea salt and black pepper.  Toss well to coat.  Taste a piece of tomato and add more vinegar and salt if necessary.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate while preparing the rest of the meal.
2.  Bring a medium pot with a bottomful of water and a steamer basket inside, to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, carefully remove the lid and place the prepared broccoli inside.  Cover with the lid and allow to steam from 3-5 minutes, or until broccoli is cooked to your desired texture.  Once the broccoli is cooked, turn off the heat, remove the pot from the stove and place the broccoli in a bowl until closer to the time when dinner will be served.
3.  While the broccoli is steaming, start your sauce for the shrimp.  In a deep saute pan, add the olive oil and earth balance over medium heat.  Once the earth balance has melted, add the minced garlic.  Allow the garlic to slowly cook.  Do not allow it to become crispy or overcook.  It is preferable that the garlic have a slight raw flavor than a crispy, overcooked flavor.
4.  Increase the heat to medium-high and add the white wine - remember, never pour directly from the bottle, like you see Chef's on tv doing it - that is extremely dangerous!  The flame can leap inside the bottle, causing the contents to catch on fire, exploding the glass bottle in your hands.  Always pour the wine into a cup before adding it to the pan.
5.  Allow most of the wine to cook off.  Lower the heat back to medium.  Add the mimiccream, sea salt and black pepper.  Whisk together  and allow to cook for a couple minutes.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings - you may need to add more earth balance to give it a rich, buttery taste.  Add the shrimp into the sauce and keep warm over very low heat.
6.  Finish the broccoli: in a medium saute pan, add the olive oil and allow it to become hot.  Once it is hot, add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant and beginning to crisp.  Add the cooked broccoli and sea salt and black pepper.  Toss to coat in the oil and garlic.  Season to taste.
7.  To serve: place a portion of the pasta on the plate and top with the shrimp and sauce.  Place a serving of both the steamed broccoli and the tomato salad and serve.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pasta With a Creamy Sauce, Steamed Broccoli

Do you ever crave super super simple things to eat?  Sometimes I find myself going through these phases where I only want some pasta with a creamy white sauce and either a steamed veggie or seasoned veggie on top.  This is one of those times.  I was very hungry, didn't feel like making something complicated or time consuming in the least and wanted really simple flavors.  So this tasty pasta came to mind.  I have my Mum to thank for this, because the base of the sauce came from her.  She taught me how to make a basic white sauce so long ago, and it comes in handy so often!  It is a kind of base for a vegan bechamel sauce, for a white sauce for a pizza or lasagna, pasta, or really anything at all.  So this is for you when you're feeling like eating simple tasty food, and are not in the mood to make something complicated or time consuming.  But still tasty!

Pasta with a Creamy Sauce, Steamed Broccoli:

Creamy Sauce with Yummy Steamed Broccoli

8 oz. desired pasta shape, cooked

1 head broccoli, separated into florets
extra virgin olive oil to coat
sea salt to taste

White Sauce:
4 tablespoons earth balance
2 tablespoons unbleached flour
2 cups unsweetened soymilk
3 tablespoons vegan cashew parm, or as desired
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Bring a large pot of salted, oiled water to a boil.  Drop in the pasta and cook until al dente.  Scoop the pasta out with a large slotted spoon.  You'll want to keep the boiling water to blanch your broccoli in.
2.  While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.  In a medium pot, add the earth balance over medium heat.  Once the earth balance has melted, add the unbleached flour, whisking together immediately, and continuing to cook until golden in color.
3.  Once the flour has cooked slightly, add the unsweetened soymilk, vegan cashew parm, sea salt and black pepper.  Whisk immediately or the flour will seize, creating a lumpy sauce.  Continue cooking over medium heat until the sauce has thickened and flour has cooked all the way.  Season to taste, adding more parm, salt or pepper as desired.
4.  While the sauce is cooking, submerse the broccoli in the boiling pasta water and cook for about one minute, or until softened but still crisp.  Drain, discarding the water.
5.  Toss the steamed broccoli with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.
6.  To serve, toss the cooked pasta in the sauce, coating evenly.  Place a serving in a bowl and top with the blanched broccoli.  Top with fresh cracked black pepper or additional vegan cashew parm. 


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mustard Sage Seitan, Tostones, Marinated Beet & Simple Salads

At this point in the season, most everything is out of our garden.  The only things remaining are some kale, beets and onions.  Hubby and I took it upon ourselves to finish harvesting everything from the garden and start preparing it for storage.  We dug up the onions and allowed them to "dry" for a couple days in our garage.  The beets were dug up as well, trimmed and allowed to sit for a couple days.  The kale has been sorted and placed in a big bag in the fridge, until I have some time to clean it, dry it and freeze it.  My mom also has a couple trees that produced nuts this year - very exciting!  So we picked heart nuts for a couple hours in the cold; searched for hazelnuts on the branches and the ground - and found 8!  This is the first year that tree has produced and we are definitely going to enjoy those nuts! 

We were also afforded the amazing opportunity to go to our neighbors and pick apples from her trees for free.  Such a generous woman!  She and her husband are in their late 70's, in the beginning stages of failing health and are unable to pick the apples themselves - and really wouldn't use them anyway.  We picked a ton of them!  We plan to make lots of pies and crisps and freeze the rest of them.  Exciting!   After picking all of those amazing things from off and around our property, I was really craving eating those beautiful beets.  And they were crazy delicious!  Seriously  - they taste nothing at all like they taste in the store - even as fresh as I have been able to purchase them.  So sweet, earthy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious!  Yum!  We were also able to make it to the local Spanish food store and bought a couple plantains to fry up.  Delicious dinner!

Comfort food and healthy salads all in one!  Yum!

Mustard Sage Seitan:
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons filtered water
1 tablespoon tamari
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed in fingers
2 tablespoons white wine
1/2 teaspoon agave

4 large pieces seitan, homemade or store-bought

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  
2.  Place all of the marinade ingredients into a medium mixing bowl: the mustard, olive oil, water, tamari, black pepper, garlic, sage, rosemary, white wine and agave.  Whisk together very well until combined.  The taste will be strong before baking, but it will tame down after baking.  
3.  Slice the seitan into large slices and place in the bowl with the marinade.  Gently toss the seitan in the dressing and carefully place into an 8x8" baking pan.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until most of the marinade has been absorbed into the seitan.  
4.  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.  



Monday, November 4, 2013

Yucca, Brazilian Braised Kale, Chickpea Artichoke Salad

While deciding what to make for dinner, I decided to make a couple recipes out of the billions of cookbooks I have.  I found the chickpea artichoke salad from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook, which I love.    The other recipe I got out of one of my many cookbooks was the braised kale, which came out of Viva Vegan.  I have made several of the recipes out of that cookbook, some successful and some not.  It's a beautiful collection of recipes, but I also have my Dominican Hubby here to give me ideas first-hand into traditional Spanish food.  The good thing about getting recipes/ideas from him is that his recipes are all meat-based.  (Hubbs is not vegan or vegetarian at all.)  This does force me to be a little more creative, yes, however, it makes me understand the food a little more and the flavors I am trying to mimic and create.  I am always asking him about new ideas he has for food his mom used to make for him back home, and he has been giving me great feedback lately.  So I have a lot more ideas for tasty Spanish food coming up.  Until then, I have Viva Vegan and a lot more time to experiment and test!  

Yucca, Brazilian Braised Kale, Chickpea Artichoke Salad:

So much delicious food!

2 medium yucca, waxy outer layer peeled, sliced in half lengthwise and cit into 2-3" lengths

Simple Salad:
romaine lettuce
scallions, chopped
carrots, peeled and julienned
lime vinaigrette or preferred dressing

Brazilian Braised Kale:
1/2 bunch large kale, chiffonnaded  (leaves rolled into cigar shape and thinly sliced)
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil (you can use whatever kind of oil you want)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, small diced, about 3/4 cup
1/4 cup filtered water
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
3/4 teaspoon vegetable boullion powder
pinch black pepper

Chickpea Artichoke Salad:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cooked chickpeas
4 cloves garlic, minced
7 artichoke hearts, squeezed of excess moisture and cut in half
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or additional, as desired
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1.  Prepare the yucca first.  Place yucca in a medium pot over medium-high heat and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until yucca can be easily pierced with a fork.  Drain and return to pot, cover with lid and keep warm.
2.  While the yucca is cooking, prepare the Chickpea Artichoke Salad: in a large pan add the olive oil over medium heat and allow to become hot.  Once the oil is hot, add the chickpeas and cook for about 10 minutes, or until very browned and crispy, stirring periodically.  Add 1 teaspoon more of the oil and add the minced garlic.  Cook for a couple minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining ingredients:  the artichokes, toasted almonds, lemon juice, sea salt and parsley.  Stir to coat the chickpeas and season to taste. 
3.  Prepare the braised kale.  In a medium pot over medium-high heat, add the coconut oil and allow it to melt.  Once it melts, add the chopped onions and cook for several minutes, or until fragrant and lightly golden in color.  Add the minced garlic and cook for several minutes, or until fragrant.  Working in batches, add the chiffonaded kale to the pot, stirring constantly until it wilts and you can add more to the pot.  Continue until all of the kale fits in the pot and it has all wilted.
4.  Add the water to the kale and stir to coat.  Add the seasonings: the liquid smoke, boullion and black pepper, stirring to coat.  Season to taste. 
5.  Prepare the simple salad as desired.
6.  To serve, place a serving of each of the items on the plate: the cooked yucca, braised kale, chickpea artichoke salad and the simple salad.  Eat!  Yum!  (Keep in mind that once the kale is refrigerated, it will harden because of the coconut oil.  So, don't try to eat it cold out of the refrigerator like I sometimes do  - make sure to heat the kale thoroughly before eating, so that the coconut oil melts sufficiently.)