Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recreating an old favorite: California Crepes

When I was a vegetarian I frequently went to a restaurant called Crepeville in downtown Sacramento. They serve up some really great savory crepes. Since going vegan I have been unable to enjoy my old favorites. The restaurant is very vegetarian friendly but I don’t even need to ask if their crepes are vegan, I know they are usually made with eggs and/or milk.

So I decided to create a vegan version of my favorite crepe, the California Crepe. The original crepe is made with provolone cheese, onions, spinach, sun-dried tomato pesto, and avocado. I was really happy with how my vegan version came out! This also got rave reviews from the BF who has also consumed many a Crepeville crepe as well. Success!

I served these with the Diner Potatoes from Vegan Brunch.  The crepe recipe is also from the same book but I reduced the amount of agave since these were being used for a savory meal.

Vegan California Crepes
Makes 6 crepes

1 batch of crepes, or enough to make 6 crepes
1 medium onion, diced
1 bunch spinach, chopped
½ cup sun-dried spinach pesto (or plain pesto)
1 large avocado, sliced
½ package Daiya Mozzarella shreds

Make your crepes first, then set aside.

Heat a small skillet with a little bit of oil and add the onions. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped spinach and cover until spinach is wilted. Remove cover and turn up heat to evaporate most of the liquid. Salt to taste.

Now you are ready to assemble the crepes. For each crepe, sprinkle some cheese in the middle, then add a large scoop of the onion/spinach mixture. Top that with some pesto and then add two slices avocado. Roll crepe into a burrito shape.

Once all crepes are assembled, heat a skillet on medium heat. Add crepes and brown for several minutes on each side, or until cheese is melted.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Buckwheat Soba with Butternut Squash, Smoked Tofu, and Cilantro

The flavor combo of this dish is very intriguing. This pasta features onions, butternut squash, smoked tofu, and cilantro in a light miso broth. Sounds weird huh? Weird but really really good. What I like about this dish is that you can really taste all the different flavor elements – and they do actually work together.

This recipe comes from Vegetable Heaven by Mollie Katzen but I changed a few things. Mainly I used cilantro instead of basil because basil season is over and I also added garlic for a little extra flavor. This recipe is going into my favorites box (the one in my head) and I will be making this again in the future. It doesn’t hurt that this is a very easy dish to put together either!

Buckwheat Soba with Butternut Squash, Smoked Tofu, and Cilantro
Adapted from Vegetable Heaven

1 heaping tbsp white or yellow miso
1 ½ cups hot water
1 tbsp peanut oil
2 large onions, sliced
½ tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ - ½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 small butternut squash, diced
8 oz smoked tofu, diced
½ cup cilantro, chopped (or basil)
8 oz buckwheat soba noodles

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Combine miso and water in a small bowl and mix well.

In a large, deep skillet, sauté onions in oil for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Add salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered for 10 minutes.

Add garlic and red pepper flakes, sauté for 1 minute. Add butternut squash, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until tender.

Add tofu and miso/water mixture. Cover and simmer for a few minutes, or until noodles are done.

Add noodles to pan and cook until everything is heated.

Turn off heat and toss with cilantro. Serve.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Thanksgiving with Soul

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I cooked this year for a small family gathering. I’ve done this a few times before, and I usually try to make fall-inspired foods that are relatively reminiscent of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. But this year I decided to do something a little different – Soul Food! I figure it’s still on theme because Soul Food is real American food. Right? Right.

So, without further ado,
My Thanksgiving menu!

Hottie Black-Eyed Peas and Greens - Appetite for Reduction
BBQ Tofu
Crisp Green Beans with Roasted Shallots and Pecans – Vegan Soul Kitchen
Candied Sweet Potato Discs and Apple Slices – Vegan Soul Kitchen
Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins
Maple Pecan Pie – PPK, with homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream

So how did it turn out? Awesome! The two recipes from Vegan Soul Kitchen were really amazing, BTW. If you have the book I highly recommend you give them a try.

And Isa’s Maple Pecan Pie?  Freaking fantastic. This pie is made with caramelized sugars which add an amazing depth of flavor and not-over-the-top sweetness.

All in all, it was a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hearty Irish Stew

This is a wonderful stew, full of earthy mushrooms and root vegetables, flavored with yeasty beer and miso. I was really happy with this and will make it again in the future. This truly hearty stew comes from the March 2011 issue of Vegetarian Times. I added beans to the recipe to make it a complete meal. I think white beans would be best but all I had was chickpeas so that’s what I used.

 Hearty Irish Stew
Adapted from Vegetarian Times

1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium leeks, white parts only, sliced
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 large carrots, sliced
5 red potatoes, diced
1 ½ tsp dried thyme
2 tsp tomato paste
15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
½ cup lager
1 tbsp cornstarch
½ head green cabbage, finely chopped
15 oz can chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp miso
Salt + pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Add leeks and sauté for a few minutes. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and sauté for 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.

Add carrots, potatoes, and tomato paste and sauté for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on medium-low for 35 minutes.

Whisk lager and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Add to pot and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Add cabbage, beans, and miso and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, or until cabbage is wilted. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Crepes with Apple Cinnamon Filling

At our house we like to have something special for Sunday breakfast. We have a lot of apples accumulating in the fridge right now, so we decided to make a crepe filling. At my house the BF always makes breakfasts (everything else is made by yours truly). The crepe batter is the one from Vegan Brunch. The apple filling is pretty simple to make but tasted great.

Apple Cinnamon Filling (for crepes)

5 tart apples, peeled and diced small
¼ cup sugar (white or brown)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbls water + 1 tbls cornstarch, mixed

Combine all ingredients except the water/cornstarch mixture in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, or until softened. Add water/cornstarch mixture and simmer for another few minutes, or until thickened.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Green Curry Noodles

I must confess I’m not feeling very chatty this evening but I did at least want to post about my dinner because it was easy and yum yum. Once again, curry paste and coconut milk are the stars of the show. Enjoy!

 Green Curry Noodles with Veggies & Seitan

1 tbls peanut oil
1 large onion, diced
8 oz seitan, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
3-4 tbls green curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
4 cups water
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped
1 medium head broccoli, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
6 oz angel hair pasta, broken into thirds
3 tbls soy sauce
Green onions, chopped (optional), for garnish

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add onions and seitan and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add curry paste and sauté for another minute.

Add coconut milk, water, and veggies. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Add broken pasta to skillet and stir well. Make sure most of the pasta is submerged. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until pasta is al dente.

Turn off heat and stir in soy sauce. Serve garnished with green onions, if desired.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Indian Night!

Tonight was Indian food night at my house! Yum! I have had the cookbook 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer for quite a while but never made anything from it. So I decided to finally give two recipes a go. I am trying to make a conscious effort to use some of my more neglected cookbooks so good for me! This is a pretty awesome cookbook by the way. Although it is not vegetarian, there are hundreds of vegetarian recipes. Included in that number are about 30 pages of paneer recipes, which in vegan translation means 30 pages of tofu recipes. Awesome.

On to the food. I decided to make the Punjabi dum Aloo (Baby Potatoes with a Carmelized Onion Sauce, p. 554) and the Simia Mirch Paneer (Cashew Cheese with a Bell Pepper Sauce, p. 289).

The potato recipe consisted of baby potatoes cooked in a sauce made of red onions and tomatoes, and was seasoned with Serrano chiles, cumin, coriander, and turmeric. I’m not going to post the potato recipe because I didn’t change much and also because the recipe was very time consuming (about 90 minutes). Although these potatoes were very good, I don’t think they were 90 minutes good. If you know what a mean!

The Paneer (read: tofu) recipe, on the other hand, was out-of-this-world delicious. I changed quite a bit about this recipe, including adding coconut milk. This makes a lot of sauce for the tofu – I think you could double the tofu or add veggies here if you would like. If there is one recipe I hope you will try on this blog, it’s this one. Yes, it’s that good.

Simia Mirch Tofu

¼ cup raw cashews
2 medium yellow or red bell peppers (about 12 oz), chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 serrano chiles, not seeded, sliced
6 cardamom pods
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
Pinch of cayenne, or more to taste
½ cup full fat coconut milk
12 oz extra firm tofu, cubed
1 tbls soy sauce
1 tbls rice vinegar
1 tlbs peanut oil
Cilantro, for garnish

In a medium saucepan, combine cashews, bell peppers, onions, chiles, cardamom pods, and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine cubed tofu with soy sauce and rice vinegar in a bowl. Toss to coat and allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes.

In a medium skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add marinated tofu and fry until browned on most sides. Remove from heat.

When bell pepper mixture is done, puree until smooth with an immersion blender or blender. If using a blender, be careful! Hot liquid + blender = potential explosions!

Pour blended sauce back into saucepan. Add salt, cayenne, coconut milk, and tofu. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until heated through. Taste for salt.

Serve over rice, garnished with cilantro if desired.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tempeh Paprikash

Super easy but delish dish tonight. This is a simple paprikash made with tempeh, lots of mushrooms, and a creamy paprika/wine/sour cream sauce. I used Tofutti brand sour cream for this. You'll notice that I added some lemon juice. This is because I don't think Tofutti is as sour as the dairy variety. I also think this would be even better with some homemade vegan sour cream. Maybe I'll try that next time.

Tempeh Paprikash with Ribbon Noodles

12 oz package ribbon noodles
8 oz package tempeh, cubed
1 tbls tamari or soy sauce
1 tbls dry sherry
1 tbls olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls ground paprika
1 pound mushrooms, sliced (I used crimini and portobello)
½ cup water
½ cup dry sherry
1 cup non-dairy sour cream (I used Tofutti brand)
1 tbls lemon juice
Salt & pepper, taste

Prepare noodles according to package directions.

Place cubed tempeh in a bowl with the tamari and 1 tbls dry sherry. Toss to coat and allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes.

Heat a large skillet with the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the tempeh and fry until brown on most sides. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Lower heat to medium and add onions and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Add paprika, water, and sherry. Turn up heat to high and reduce liquid for a minute or two.

Add mushrooms, a pinch of salt, and toss to coat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add tempeh back to pan, cover, and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix sour cream with lemon juice.

Turn off heat and add sour cream mixture to pan and mix well. Add noodles and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday Night Out: Andy Nguyen

Andy Nguyen is one of the older vegetarian restaurants in Sacramento. We used to go to this restaurant a lot but now that there are move veg-friendly choices we don’t go so often anymore. We’ve tried quite a few items on the menu over the years and most of them are very good.

This time we tried one of their new specials, the Tempura Garlic Fries. These were huge fries dipped in a garlicky tempura batter and then deep fried. These were delicious!

For the main I had the Self Nurturing Chow Fun which was veggies, soy beef, mushrooms, and chow fun noodles in a sweet sauce. I thought this dish was a little overly sweet but overall really tasty.

The BF had his usual favorite, the Peaceful Existence Clay Pot. This is veggies and various soy meats served in a thick curry broth.

Overall, we like Andy Nguyen but it is not our favorite. The restaurant has a very nice atmosphere and I think this is a great place to take the omni’s because the food is something that everyone is familiar with. Their soy meats are also very good if you are into that sort of thing. Although this restaurant is vegetarian, all items that are vegan or can be made vegan are clearly marked on the menu.
2007 Broadway
Sacramento, Ca
(916) 736-1157

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sunday Brunch at Sugar Plum Vegan

Last Sunday we finally made it over to Sugar Plum Vegan for their Bottomless Brunch Plate. This is an all-you-can-eat vegan brunch buffet for $12. On my plate was a tofu scramble with sautéed veggies and Daiya, biscuits and gravy, and roasted potatoes. Also available at the buffet were pancakes, fresh fruit, muffins, and salad. They also had vegan donuts for sale!

So how was the food? Pretty darn good. The scramble was packed with veggies which I loved. I would have preferred a more firm texture but it was seasoned really well. The biscuits were soft and fluffy and the gravy had a nice peppery bite. The roasted potatoes were nothing fancy but were delicious.  I didn’t have room for much else but I did have a part of a muffin (good) and some fresh fruit.  All in all I was very happy with the meal and I will probably visit again. Next time I’ll try a donut too!

2315 K Street
Sacramento, CA
(916) 706-3302

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Creamy Sweet Potato Peanut Stew + Cornbread

This delicious stew is from Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero.  This stew is made up of potatoes, onions, bell peppers, spices, peanut butter, and tomatoes. I changed it up a bit by using sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. It’s what I had on hand and I think they go great with peanut butter! I also used the optional chickpeas instead of TVP. Lastly, I partially pureed the soup before adding the chickpeas to make it extra creamy. I thought this had a wonderful flavor. Next time I might add a bit of cayenne for a bit of heat.

On the side I made a vegan cornbread. I had a bit of canned pumpkin left in the fridge so I used that in place of an egg. You really can’t detect a pumpkin flavor but it makes the bread wonderfully moist.  You could sub apple sauce or a flax egg if you don’t happen to have extra pumpkin around.

Vegan Cornbread

½ cup white flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup cornmeal
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup soy milk
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup canned pumpkin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together wet ingredients with a fork. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet. Stir until just combined. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 baking dish.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is golden.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Indian-Spiced Lentils with Persimmons & Spinach

This unusual combo was inspired by a recipe in the June 2011 issue of Vegetarian Times. That particular recipe called for rhubarb. Back then I did make it with rhubarb and it was excellent. But rhubarb is long out of season. What is in season is persimmons. We get these Fuyu persimmons in our CSA box (more about our wonderful CSA in a future post) every year and I never know what to do with them. These are the firm variety of fruit; they are supposed to be eaten like an apple and unfortunately are not the soft type (Hachiya) that are so great for baked goods. I don’t really like the Fuyu persimmons but I had the brilliant idea of using them in this lentil recipe.  I would definitely make this again. I love it when I come up with tasty ways of eating foods I am not usually fond of.  Yay!

Indian-Spiced Lentils with Persimmons & Spinach
Adapted from Vegetarian Times
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbls mustard seeds (yellow or brown)
1 large red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbls fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Large pinch of ground cinnamon
1 cup Le Puy lentils, rinsed
3 ½ cups vegetable broth, divided
3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled, cored, and diced small
5 cups (packed) baby spinach, chopped
Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium-low heat. Add mustard seeds and cover. Once seeds start to pop, cook for about 2 minutes.
Remove lid, add onions, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and spices and sauté for a few more minutes.
Add lentils and 3 cups broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add persimmons and last ½ cup of broth and simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook for 5-10 minutes. Salt to taste.
Serve over rice and garnished with cilantro.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday Night Out: Boon Boon Café

Almost every Friday night the BF and I go out to eat. It is a way to celebrate making it through another week. So I will often be posting about these adventures on the weekend.  At least when we visit a restaurant I haven’t already written about here. Don’t want to get repetitive.
This week we visited Boon Boon Café. This is a place we have been to many, many times. Enough times that the waitress knows our usual. We always get the Sesame Tofu, which is battered and fried tofu with a sweet sesame sauce. Lately the waitress has been giving us a little of each of their three sauces so we can have some of each. They are: orange, sesame, and Korean BBQ. It is hard to decide which is my favorite between the BBQ and the sesame. The BBQ is more like a spicy sweet and sour sauce and is delicious.
The second dish was the Pad Woon Sen Tofu, which is jelly noodles with veggies and tofu. This was our first time ordering this one (usually we get the Cashew Nut Tofu) and I really loved the jelly noodles!
When you look at the in-restaurant menu, this place doesn’t appear to be super veg-friendly. But they will make most dishes with tofu instead of meat, just ask! Also, with any Asian restaurant, you may want to ask about any fish or oyster sauce that may be lurking.
Overall we love this restaurant (hence the many visits)!
3022 Stockton Blvd
Sacramento, Ca
(916) 456-4647

Friday, November 4, 2011

Enjoying food again + Pumpkin Loaf

Perhaps you have noticed that I have been M.I.A the last few days. The thing is that I got a nasty cold and that means I really didn’t care about food. Not cooking it, and not eating it. There’s nothing like a cold to make you completely apathetic to even your favorite past time. Not that eating is my favorite past time . . . .well, ok, maybe it is.

Also, I always feel like a bit of a failure when I get sick. I’m a pretty healthy vegan who eats a TON of fruits and vegetables. Shouldn’t I have a more kick-ass immune system? Apparently not. My resistance does not seem to have changed much since trading in burgers and fries for tofu and kale. Oh well. At least I feel a million times better in the day to day. Small comfort when hacking up a lung though.

Enough whining! I think I’ve done that enough over the past week.

This is the first thing I made in the last week just for the pleasure of eating. And it’s damn good stuff. Sure there’s nothing terribly revolutionary about a pumpkin loaf, but I swear this one is extra good and moist. Hope you give it a go.

Pumpkin Loaf

½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
¾ cup canned pumpkin
2/3 cup soy yogurt
1 flax egg (3 tbls warm water + 1 tbls ground flax)
¼ cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup white flour
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
Pinch of nutmeg
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix sugars, pumpkin, soy yogurt, flax egg, oil, and vanilla extract with a fork. Add flours, spices, baking soda, and salt and mix until no white steaks remain. Some clumps are okay.

Lightly oil a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and pour batter in pan. Bake for about 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove loaf onto a wire rack.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vegan MoFo is No Mo'

Well, Vegan MoFo has come to an end. I really enjoyed this event and I'm glad I got this blog up and running in time to participate. I have tons of new recipes to try, found some new favorite blogs, and even connected with some local bloggers. Awesome! While I am taking a short break to catch my blogging breath so to speak, I wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone that stopped by. I will be continuing to post regularly in the future so I hope you will stick around!

See more of us in a future post!