Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Want s'more?

I'm working on making every VwaV recipe before the sequel comes out. Maybe I'll even get brave and make Orange-Glazed Beets. Until then, here's Chickpea Broccoli Casserole.

This dish really surprised me. I picked it for a night with Princess, since it seemed rather, well, bland sounding. It wasn't. It's not a dish that you'd want to eat a whole plate of by itself without something else of textural interest, but it's really yummy and "casserole-like". It also inspired me to cook chickpeas in the pressure cooker, which are a thousand times better than canned.

Next up is VwaV's Corn Chowder.

Princess really liked it, as it contains two of her favourite things - potatoes and corn. I liked it too, but if making it for only adults, I would definitely put in the jalapeno. I sacrificed the heat for the "family" version.

On an "adults only" night, I made Dal with Coconut Milk from Mangoes and Curry Leaves, and served over brown rice with spinach.

It was quite simple to prepare, and the coconut milk gave it a rich creaminess. And I got to use curry leaves! I bought these at an Indian grocery about three weeks ago and stored them in a ziploc between paper towels. They were still very fresh.

Last are S'mores Cupcakes from VCTOTW.

Cupcakes are so cute. And caloric.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Chocoholic's Delight

As I had mentioned yesterday, I decided to make some ice cream, and resorted to my favourite ice cream book, Vice Cream. I made the Chocoholic's Delight (for some reason, I feel like I've made this before...ah, I just checked my photo file and I did make this recipe, but without the chocolate chips). I made a sub for the purified water, and used organic chocolate soymilk instead for extra creaminess and chocolate flavour! My new blender did a much better job at pulverizing the raw cashews than my food processor did.

I just realized that I don't have a snack for this week at work (somehow bringing in my ice cream seems a little impractical). I saw somewhere that someone made a banana split loaf from Vegan Planet, so I'm going to check the recipe and hope I have all of the ingredients or come up with a recipe of my own that incorporates the browning bananas on my counter and homemade freezer jam that I made.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Spaghetti Saturday

I haven't made anything new this week, except for tonight when I decided to make the Spaghetti with Winter Tomato Sauce and 'Meatballs' recipe from January 2007's issue of Vegetarian Times. I made the VwaV seitan mid-week, then ground it up with pecans, breadcrumbs, spices, etc. I didn't use the fresh parsley and basil as the recipe specified, but the balls tasted great! I'll make the meatballs again, as I'm longing for a good meatball recipe that will hold together to pair with a chili sauce/grape jelly recipe my mom made years ago.

I'm also going to try out some of my recipes from Vice Cream, now that I have a blender that may actually pulverize the raw cashews that are called for in so many of the recipes. I'll post that pic tomorrow since I find the ice cream has to harden a little overnight in the freezer, since my pics of the soft-serve style never look appetizing.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Trumpets and Mousse

Last night I got one more dish from VwaV under my belt - Asparagus and Sun-dried Tomato Frittata.

I doubled the recipe as we had lots of asparagus and two pounds of tofu to use up, and a larger-than-called-for skillet. It was really impressive, and much more flavourful than I thought it would be. Princess had a hard time with the nutritional yeast taste, but at least ate all the asparagus.

Tonight I wanted to use some pasta that I got on sale in the health food section at Loblaws called Veggie Trumpets, as well as use up other leftovers. I sauteed red onion slices, garlic and mushrooms in olive oil, then added 1/2 cup red wine and a few handfuls of spinach, 1/2 can of diced tomatoes and a cube of frozen basil. Tossed with the cooked trumpets, it came out like this.

And for dessert, Chocolate Mousse from the September VegNewsletter.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Happy B-day to Me!

This past Tuesday was my b-day (thanks for all of the b-day wishes!), but I didn't get to spend it how I always do - having a yummy dinner with the fam. Instead, I was off to Regina, to face weather that we have not yet been accustomed to so far this year in Ottawa - temperatures in the -40 and -50 degree zone (with the wind chill). It was awful!

One good thing about Regina - Earl's Restaurant. Who would have known that a chain restaurant in the prairies would have steamed edamame as an appetizer? I haven't even found that in Ottawa! I also had an awesome salad with an apple-sherry vinaigrette. My god, it was so good. After heading back to the hotel to work out, I couldn't stop thinking about the salad and how I could re-create it. Sure enough, when I got back into town, I found a recipe here, and instead modified it by halving the recipe, and using apple juice concentrate instead of waiting for juice to boil down to a syrup.

With pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries, it tasted just like what I had in the restaurant! I loved it.

Despite being up at 3:30am that day to catch my flight back to Ottawa, I also made a lentil soup from Vegan Italiano. As with most lentil soups that I've tried, I didn't find it had all that much flavour and was a little pasty. It didn't help that I am still being stubborn and not giving in to myself in allowing myself to salt my food.

So the family b-day celebration was last night, and we celebrated mine and my mom's b-day. As always, I made the cake! After eating Brooklyn vs. Boston Cream Cupcakes from VCTOTW back in October, my mom and I were craving Boston Cream Pie as our cake. I had made one from Veggie Life a few years back, so I decided to go that route. I managed to find my issue (it's also on the web here), and only made a couple of subs: I doubled the cake part of the recipe to make two layers (I found the cake too short when only making one layer and cutting it in half), and I used Isa's recipe for chocolate ganache from VCTOTW instead of the one in the recipe. It turned out great! I had forgotten to take a pic of the cake before, because I just wanted to dig in, so here is a shot of what was left when I finally remembered to take a picture (of course it's the side where I dripped some ganache by accident). Fortunately, the link to the recipe also has a picture of an uneaten cake.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Gentle Lentil

My culinary exploration of the common pulse begins with Shallot Sambar from Mangoes and Curry Leaves.

This was an interesting dish to cook as it used ingredients that I don't normally have in the pantry, such as toovar dal and curry leaves. The spices were roasted whole and then ground to a powder making the dish taste peppery and somewhat smokey. Sambar can be served with basmati rice, or a flatbread such as a dosa.

I made another dish from Mangoes and Curry Leaves - Mountain Dal. It uses mung dal, which is yellow and close to a split pea in texture. It's not a photogenic dish. Mine looked like the photo in the book except I don't have beautiful pottery to showcase it in.

Our last lentil dish is Fusili with Lentil Sauce from Vegan Italiano. The book doesn't state which kind of lentil, so I used brown. It seemed the most Italian to me. I omitted the rosemary because rosemary doesn't soften for me, ever. I don't like pine needles in my food. This dish was super fantastic, not a lot of trouble to make and is a lentil dish attractive enough to photograph, and even serve to guests. Princess liked it, I think because the lentils were hiding amongst the fusili, or "grubs" as she called them.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tea for Me

I was very spoiled over Xmas, and finally used one of Tracy's gifts to me - an Adagio tea set. It came with a really cool teapot that lets you steep tea leaves, then drain the tea (not pour) into a mug from the bottom. I really like the flavours she got me, and have had the vanilla and gingerbread so far. Yum!

I also made Penne with Butternut Squash and Pesto - a 5-ingredient recipe from January 2007's issue of Vegetarian Times. I had some leftover pesto from making Isa Pizza late last week, so I decided to use it in this quick recipe with frozen onions and frozen butternut squash. It was OK - but found it lacked oomph. One of my three new year's resolutions this year is to avoid adding salt on a ready-to-eat meal, so perhaps I found it lacked flavour for that reason. The whole avoiding-the-salt-shaker thing is going to be very hard for me, but it should be worthwhile.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sarah's Top Ten

Here are my faves:

Vegan With a Vengeance

1. Vegan with a Vengeance

I find the recipes all suit my taste, aren't 'weird' and feature 'normal' ingredients, with a few exceptions that enable me to try new things. I really like the focus on avoiding commercial products since they cost alot of money. I really like that it doesn't recommend soy cheese for many recipes. I didn't like cheese before going vegan, so I don't use fake cheese now.

Vegan Planet

2. Vegan Planet

I really like how there are like 400 recipes, and often vegan spins on traditional, normal fare. Again, pretty normal stuff in here that is tasty, and I've gone through the entire pasta section (may favourite!). I only had two bombs out of the 30+ recipes I've tried, so that's pretty good.

The Vegetarian Family Cookbook

3. The Vegetarian Family Cookbook

Even though I don't have a little family to feed, I thought I'd like this book since featured non-weird items. Even though it's not totally vegan (many of the recipes are or often vegan options), it's good. I really like the muffin recipes and side dish recipes.

Lorna Sass'' Complete Vegetarian Kitchen

4. Lorna Sass' Complete Vegetarian Kitchen

I use this cookbook with my pressure cooker, as it features instructions for using it or with regular saucepan method. It offers many recipes for cooking beans and grains.

Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

5. Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

There are a few vegetarian slow cooker cookbooks out there, but this one is my fave. I make the Ratatouille, Vegetable Soup and Maple Squash recipes most from this one. Again, not entirely vegan, but all of the recipes I like are.

Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen

Vegan Italiano

6. Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen/Vegan Italiano

Like Tracy, I like these books (I just got Vegan Italiano from Kyle for Xmas). Very focused on beans and grains compared to tofu/seitan recipes. When I cook from these, it feels a little more gourmet - like I've made something you'd find in a fancy restaurant.

7. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Love it! I like how pretty these can look (although I need a lot more practice with the icing part), and how they are in single servings, and easy transportable (especially in my new cupcake carrier from Tracy!).

Vice Cream

8. Vice Cream

At first when I saw this cookbook, I was skeptical about making ice cream from ground cashews, but the recipes I have tried are great! Although the final product can be a little grainy, I find the added texture kind of nice. I've tried soy cream- and tofu-based recipes that do not compare to those in this book.

More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts

9. Great Good Desserts Naturally/More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts

Both of Fran Costigan's books are very good. I find the recipes very healthy despite being desserts.

Healthy Cooking for Kids: Building Blocks for Lifetime of Good Nutrition

10. Healthy Cooking for Kids

I got this cookbook a long time ago, since it appealed to my picky nature. It is completely vegan, and again, despite not having any kids around, I like the simplicity of the recipes, and everything I've tried has been really tasty - for instance, the stuffed shells, cookies, peanut noodles...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tracy's Top Ten

If I was moving to another continent, or a little shack in the woods, and I had to limit the number of cookbooks I took with me, to say, ten, these are the ones I would pack:

Vegan With a Vengeance

Vegan with a Vengeance

For original flavourful recipes, and veganized versions of old-favourites, this cookbook beats all others, hands down. Most of the recipes require some effort and planning, but the cook is well-rewarded with a fantastic meal.

150 Vegan Favorites: Fresh, Easy, And Incredibly Delicious Recipes

150 Vegan Favourites

This is a great book for “quicker” weeknight dinners. I’ve made most of the dishes and haven’t been let down (flipping through my copy, most of the pages have my note “Good!” written on them). Many of the recipes contain beans or lentils, which I love. There isn’t a lot of tofu in the book.

Vegan Planet

Vegan Planet

This must be the largest collection of vegan recipes in a printed volume, save my sister’s kitchen binder. I like how the flavours of different parts of the world are featured, and most things I’ve tried have come out well. This book is a great buy for the price.

Mangoes and Curry Leaves

Mangoes and Curry Leaves

This is a beautiful travel journal and cookbook in one, adorned with breathtaking photographs. While it isn’t completely vegan, or even vegetarian for that matter, the food from the Subcontinent is generally very vegan-friendly. The recipes call for oil instead of ghee, and the wonderful stories are worth reading, even if you ignore the recipes from the meaty chapters.

The Bread Baker''s Apprentice

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

My recent obsession with bread brought me to this book to learn artisan bread techniques. Most of the general bread recipes are vegan in that they use flour, water, salt and yeast, but I wish more of the recipes for holiday breads were vegan.

The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet

The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet

Again not all vegan, but great for weeknight dinners when you don’t have time to do a lot of chopping.

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

This is not a vegan cookbook, but when I’m looking for how to cook something, or for a basic recipe that I might be able to veganize, I look here. Not everything I’ve tried from this book has turned out well, though. The Tortilla Soup was hotter than Hades.

Jump up & Kiss Me: Spicy Vegetarian Cooking

Jump Up and Kiss Me

Not strictly vegan, but great spicy dishes and the ones I’ve made have been over-the-top fantastic.

Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen

Vegan Italiano

Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen/Vegan Italiano

Some of these recipes were good, especially the pasta dishes. I couldn’t really choose between these two cookbooks, as for my palate, they are virtually identical. If pushed, I would choose Vegan Italiano first.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

This is a super dessert book, with cute cupcake photos. It would make a great gift for anyone. My only complaint is that eating cupcakes makes me gain weight.