July 29, 2009

Edamame hummus

Several weeks ago we attended a fabulous vegan dinner as part of our Madison vegetarian meet-up group. (Although this is a vegetarian, not vegan, group, all the food served is vegan so that everyone in the group can eat it.) It was catered by local chef Jen Gaber, owner of Nutshell Catering. I still remember when Jen, as chef at The Ivy Inn, created a series of Sunday vegetarian brunch buffets, each featuring food from a different region of the world. We spent many happy Sundays lingering over a wonderful meal, pretending it was normal to find fabulous vegan food in Madison. The Ivy Inn is long gone, but Jen is still here, cooking great food.

I knew what the menu included when I signed up for the dinner, but by the time I attended I had no idea what we were having - my memory can be like that sometimes. It was a four course meal and the appetizers were out when we arrived. One of the appetizers was a bowl of green dip that I assumed was made with avocado, surrounded by toasted pita points. When I tasted it, it was kind of hummus-like, but better than regular hummus. It was edamame hummus, and it was delicious. I couldn't quite figure out what was in it, but when I got home, I wrote out a recipe I thought would make a similar dip. A friend visited after work today for a glass of wine and an appetizer, and I finally got to try out my version of edamame hummus — maybe not as great as Jen's, but not bad.

Edamame hummus
  • 2 cups shelled edamame, cooked (I used frozen)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried, ground coriander
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  1. Sauté the onion for a minute or two until translucent. Add the garlic and cook about 3o seconds.
  2. Place edamame, onion, garlic, tahini and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until well- combined. It doesn't have to be completely smooth. Add coriander and salt. Pulse to mix. (Taste before adding all the salt as you might not need it all.) Grind pepper over the bowl and pulse to mix.
  3. Serve with veggies, chips, pita or crackers.
1. My tahini was kind of weird and thin so everything blended up easily. You may need to add a tablespoon of water if your mix is too thick to process.
2. If you live in the Madison area and need a caterer, you should call Jen Gaber!

July 24, 2009

Fresh garden broccoli stir-fry over quinoa pasta

It seems like just yesterday I bought teeny tiny broccoli plugs for 25 cents each from a farmers market vendor. They looked so small and helpless I couldn't believe they'd survive the rabbits and other predators of tender young plants. The first week I bought four plants, and they did so well in the garden that the next week I bought four more. All have survived and grown huge and one has just yielded a large head of broccoli. It may be just a broccoli plant to you, but to me it was a gardening milestone. The broccoli got planted. The broccoli survived. The broccoli will be eaten by me and not the rabbits! I was practically hysterical with glee. I couldn't decide if I should do something simple or fancy with this ultra-fresh vegetable but decided I really wanted to focus on tasting, not disguising, the broccoli. I made a simple but delicious stir fry with artichoke hearts and lemon zest adding a special punch. Since I have lemon thyme and chives growing in the garden, I added some of those herbs, too.

The Ancient Harvest quinoa spaghetti that we used is gluten-free, and although we're not intolerant of gluten, this noodle has become a favorite of ours. The noodles are bright yellow and have a very good texture and taste. I think the only thing in the dish that wasn't gluten-free was my husband's home-made seitan sausage, and that could easily be substituted with cashews, mushrooms or beans.

 Ingredient list
  • broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • garlic, minced fine
  • vegan sausage or substitute a gluten-free item
  • artichoke hearts
  • shredded carrot
  • Quinoa pasta
  • lemon zest
  • lemon thyme
  • chives
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • crushed red pepper
First, I steamed the broccoli gently in a covered wok until almost tender. Then I removed the cover and added some oil to the wok, and added finely minced garlic to cook for a minute. Thin slices of homemade seitan sausage were stir-fried in, then artichoke hearts, shredded carrot, lemon zest and lemon thyme. The cooked veggies were placed on top of quinoa spaghetti, and crushed red pepper, fresh ground black pepper and chives were added.

Garden tour (of our garden) on July 20.
Dill © 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking

Basil  © 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking

This has been eaten. © 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking

Three kinds of lettuce.  © 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking

One of the tomato plants. © 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking

Tumbling Tom.  © 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking

Swiss chard. © 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking

Asian lily. © 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking

July 19, 2009

Á La Mode e-cookbook review

© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking
In my greedy little hands I have a copy of Hannah Kaminsky's newest ebook, "Á La Mode: Vegan Desserts That Will Keep You Churning All Year Round." This little gem, sent to me for review by Alisa Fleming, author of "Go Dairy Free," contains a selection of beguiling recipes for very unusual ice cream treats. These are not high-speed versions of cool confections, but require a bit of time and patience in exchange for highly unusual and scrumptious frozen delights. I was magnetically attracted to Birthday Cake Ice Cream, Buttered Popcorn Ice Cream and Chai Latte Ice Cream, but settled on the homey-sounding Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ice Cream, because I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand, and who could refuse an oatmeal raisin cookie?

© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking
Hannah gives us permission to tweak the recipes, and I did tweak a little to suit my lazy-cook ways. For example, after I ground the oats in the food processor, I went ahead and emulsified the rest of the ingredients (except the raisins, of course) in the processor rather than whisking in the pot. I didn't pre-melt the margarine (sorry, Hannah) and I added an extra cup of soymilk and an extra teaspoon of vanilla. I also added some chocolate chips just before the ice cream was finished freezing because I like my oatmeal cookies with said chips.

So how did it turn out? Well, if you like oatmeal cookies and you like ice cream, you will love this. I agree with Hannah that it would go well in an ice cream sandwich, but really, it sparkles all by itself. It's luxuriantly rich and creamy (even after spending time in the freezer) as well as pleasantly crunchy from the praline and chips. If you like to experiment with unusual and intensely flavored ice cream - anyone for Peanut Butter Bomb Shell? - you should buy this book. It's gorgeously illustrated with Hannah's photos, and a bargain at only $5. Available here. There are provisions in the recipes for non-soy and gluten-free ingredients.

Notes for this recipe:
1. Although I ground the oats as fine as I possibly could, when I took the chilled mix from the fridge, it resembled tapioca, a mass of teeny bumps. Plus, it had a thick skin. (Was it from one of my shortcuts?) I put it back into the food processor and blended it until it was perfectly creamy, figuring that it couldn't hurt to buzz in as much air as possible anyway. The only problem with doing this was the raisins got puréed along with everything else.
2. I don't own a microwave so I cooked the syrup for the praline on the stove and it worked out fine. To save myself from cleaning two sticky containers instead of one, I added the toasted oats to the syrup instead of vice versa as in the recipe.
3. Here's a David Lebovitz post about how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker.
4. I was so anxious to eat my ice cream that I just couldn't wait for it to firm up in the freezer, hence its less than photogenic shape in the photo. Really, you should let it firm up a bit, but it's just so good that it's hard to be patient!
© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking

July 16, 2009

Pizza, buns, bread

The "first" pizza.
I've been on a pizza bender lately. I'm not sure if it started with a conversation I had with my son about Peter Reinhart and grilled pizza, or with an urge to eat summer-kissed vine-ripened tomatoes baked into a pie. But I've eaten pizza on three consecutive days this week so, whatever the influence, it was a powerful one!

My son Aaron and I were talking on the phone while he was in the process of making pizza dough. He was planning to take the dough to his brother's house later, to make grilled pizza for dinner. Aaron had based his dough on a recipe from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice," and it had taken two days to make. He had substituted white whole wheat flour for most of the unbleached flour in the original recipe, which led us to a discussion of Reinhart's newer book, based on whole grains. Then, because although I love Reinhart's book and recipes, I'm generally too lazy and impetuous to spend two days making bread, no matter how superior it might be, we started talking about "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. After a long wait, Aaron had finally reached the top of the library hold list and had this book in his possession, though he hadn't yet used it. Now this is a book title I can wrap my attitude around. Five minutes is so much more manageable than two days. I've been incorporating Hertzberg and Francois' techniques into my bread baking ever since I first ran across their book, and now that my bread machine has stopped working, I've turned to them

Buffy, hoping for a little taste of something.
All this talk of pizza and bread dough was too much. And there on the counter were two deep red, ripe tomatoes from the farmers' market that I could use to top a pizza. I quickly popped the tomatoes into a drawer to keep them safe from hungry prowlers, and set upon making dough. I didn't use a recipe - just started with two cups of water and went from there. (I was basing what I did on the Artisan Bread book mentioned above.) I used about two thirds white whole wheat flour and one third unbleached white. Sometimes I use all whole grain but I was planning to sneak in a few cinnamon rolls and wanted a slightly lighter dough. I wanted to have enough dough for a pizza, a few cinnamon rolls, and a bread to be made later in the week. (The Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day technique has you storing the dough in a covered container in the refrigerator to use as needed for up to two weeks. I like to use mine within a week or so because the flavor can get a little wonky as time goes on. At first it's like sourdough bread, but eventually it starts to taste just plain weird to me. Here's a link to the basic recipe. I decreased the salt and yeast and added olive oil and agave to my pizza dough. At some point I'm going to buy the whole grain version of this book.)

Anyway, I mixed up my dough in a large bowl, kneading a little in the bowl because I like to do that when the dough gets hard to mix with a spoon. After rising and punching down a couple of times, I created a pizza with fresh tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, fresh basil from the garden, Follow Your Heart cheese and a little drizzled EVOO. I baked it on a hot pizza stone (using Peter Reinhart's directions), and the crust was excellent - both crispy and chewy. My only disappointment was the tomatoes. They just didn't have the rich, deep, tangy summer flavor I was after. But, overall, it was really good.

A whole pan of cinnamon buns. Darn.
Intending to make just three cinnamon buns with a chunk of the remaining dough, I "accidentally" ended up with a whole pan. I rolled out the dough and spread it with Earth Balance, agave, raisins and cinnamon before rolling it up, cutting it into pieces and letting it rise. Warm from the oven, tender and slightly sweet, they were so delicious.

Lunch pizza #1
The next day I still had a bad case of pizza-on-the-brain, so I decided to make an individual pizza in a 6-inch cast iron pan in the toaster oven. This time I used grape tomatoes along with the other stuff and added a few odd scraps of field roast, and the result was fabulous.

Lunch pizza #2
You'd think that would have been enough, but on the third day I once again made a small pizza, topped this time with some thin slices of toferky sausage. Then I took the remaining dough and shaped a loaf of bread, since clearly this was the only way to put a halt to my obsession. The loaf is fine-grained and springy, with a delicious, slightly sour flavor. Enough already.

Crusty loaf of bread

July 11, 2009

Swiss chard with udon, raisins, garlic and toasted pumpkin seeds / baked marinated tempeh

First, I should mention that I've never really liked Swiss chard. It's just too beety tasting, and I'm not thrilled with beets. That said, I will eat these things if I come upon them at the table. My son and d-i-l in Seattle are very fond of Swiss chard and when they cook it it always tastes much better than I think it will. It tastes good, and makes me think I don't dislike it after all. But it's not something I would buy on purpose at the store. I'd rather have kale.

The garlic is added to the wok.
However, this year when we planted the garden - a garden that will be beneficial mainly to our renters since we'll be gone before most of it is ready to eat - I decided to plant Swiss chard because it grows fast, and the thought that I might be able to actually eat something from the garden other than lettuce, was enough to get me past my true feelings. Well, yahoo, the chard is indeed ready, and today I gathered a huge bowlful of thinnings. (The pole beans are also doing well and who knows, maybe we'll get a few of those. And the broccoli plants have tiny broccoli heads forming. And the Tumbling Tom tomato is covered with green cherry tomatoes, so there's a glimmer of hope that we might get to harvest something besides Swiss chard before August 15.)

The Swiss chard gets stir-fried in the wok.
Anyway, faced with this giant bowl of fresh greens, I had to cook something. I made a simple dish from the chard with crimini mushrooms, lots of garlic, raisins and toasted pumpkin seeds, and it wasn't too bad. It was seasoned with Shark brand sriracha. (I read that Shark sriracha is a more traditional chili sauce than the commonly used rooster brand. It's what is used in Thailand, and unlike Rooster sriracha, it has no preservatives. Now if only it didn't have 20% sugar. In Australia, my husband was able to find chili sauce that contained neither preservatives or sugar, but we haven't found anything like that here. If you know a good brand, please let me know.)

This is a very flexible recipe, and in keeping with that theme (and because I didn't measure), I'm going to be a little vague with ingredients and cooking directions. It's the basic idea that counts.

Swiss chard with udon noodles
  • about 2 cups crimini (or whatever) mushrooms, sliced
  • handful of raisins (1/4 cup?)
  • olive oil
  • lots of fresh garlic, minced fine (at least 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha chili sauce (more or less to taste)
  • handful of grape tomatoes, halved (I would have added these but we didn't have any!)
  • BIG bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems, roughly cut
  • 10 ounces udon noodles
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • handful of pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds), toasted
  • chopped green onions might be nice added at the end, though I didn't add any
  1. First toast the pumpkin or sunflower seeds in a wok until browned and fragrant. Set aside in a small bowl.
  2. Cook the udon. Drain it, rinse it well with cold running water and drain again. Place it in a bowl and toss with toasted sesame oil.
  3. Cook the mushrooms and raisins for a minute or two in oil in a wok. As they begin to soften, add the garlic and cook for a minute. (Add a little more oil if needed.)
  4. Mix in the sriracha and tomatoes, then add the chard and stir fry briefly until the chard is wilted, mixing ingredients together.
  5. Add the noodles to the wok and toss for a minute until noodles are heated.
  6. Place in serving bowl and grind pepper over the noodles.
  7. Sprinkle the toasted pumpkin seeds over all.

We had our chardy noodles with Basic Oven-Baked Marinated Tempeh from Crescent Dragonwagon's "Passionate Vegetarian."

July 07, 2009

Wheeler's pear balsamic vinegar ice cream recipe

© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking
As part of a virtual book by Wheeler's Ice Cream, I've made ice cream using an exclusive recipe Wheeler's sent me to use and share with my sweet-toothed readers. Wheeler's published "Vegan Scoop," a vegan ice cream cookbook, in June, thus enabling premium vegan ice cream-making at home. Although I've never personally tasted Wheeler's ice cream, I've read the reviews by others who've raved about it, so I was very excited to try a Wheeler's recipe. And the combination of pear juice and balsamic vinegar is intriguing, don't you agree?
Now, if you've read this blog before (or noticed the title), you know I prefer to keep my recipes easy without compromising quality or taste. Sometimes the definition of easy gets confused with the definition of fast, though I do my best to keep those two words united. The yummy mango ice cream I posted about recently, for example, was easy and fast. The Wheeler's ice cream was very easy to make, but required cooking and chilling prior to the actual freezing, making it easy but not fast. These two extra steps can be a deal breaker for me because it means planning ahead — cooking and chilling the night before the actual freezing when I'm more inclined to be chilling and not cooking, if you know what I mean. (see note)

One thing I have to mention is that although I followed the directions, and the finished ice cream tasted rich and flavorful, in my ice cream freezer it came out a little icy, and after freezer storage it was very hard and icy. I really don't know why this happened. When I make cashew-cream and fruit ice cream, it comes out smooth and creamy and stays creamy even after freezing. I haven't seen this noted in other reviews so it could be my ice cream freezer isn't suited to this recipe. Also, be aware that the combination of the pear juice and sugar made for a very sweet product. Even my husband, who likes his desserts sweet, thought it was extremely sweet. Adjust accordingly.
© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking
Pear Balsamic Vinegar ice cream
  • 1 cup (235 ml) soy milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (16 g) arrowroot
  • 2 cups pear juice
  • 2 cups (470 ml) soy creamer
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  1. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup (60 ml) soymilk with arrowroot and set aside.
  2. Mix soy creamer, remaining 3/4 cup (175 ml) soymilk, pear juice, and sugar in a saucepan and cook over low heat. Once mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and immediately add arrowroot cream. This will cause the liquid to thicken noticeably.
  3. Add vanilla extract and balsamic vinegar.
  4. Refrigerate mixture several hours until chilled. (*see note) Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.
Yield: 1 quart (approximately 600 g)

note: After 2 hours my mix was still ver
y warm. After 3 hours it was sort of cool but not cold enough to make ice cream. I ended up letting it chill for about eight hours. I recommend making the mix the night before you plan to use it, or early in the morning of the evening you'll be making ice cream.

The other thing about this recipe is it uses an ingredient I don't normally use or recommend - soy creamer. The only brand I could find was Silk, and I'm a little down on that company (agri-giant Dean Foods) right now. The creamer wasn't organic and it had ingredients I don't like to use. But, if you don't share these qualms, have access to a better soy creamer, make your own creamer or don't mind compromising your standards occasionally, give this ice cream a try.

July 03, 2009

Katrina's cold Chinese noodles

© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking
We were recently treated to a dinner at the home of Katrina, one of my husbands graduate students. The food was all wonderful (I forgot my camera, of course) but I particularly wanted to share one of the recipes - a cold noodle dish - with you. It's perfect for summer, tastes fabulous and is so easy to make. I used Ancient Harvest quinoa noodles which are made with corn flour and quinoa and are gluten-free. I had considered making this with udon noodles or whole wheat spaghetti but opted for the quinoa instead, and it was perfect. I also think buckwheat noodles would be a good choice.

Katrina, who is from China and thus knows the best ingredients to use for this traditional Chinese dish, gave me a package of specially seasoned nori to use in the recipe, but I think you could use plain toasted nori as well. When she gave me the noodle recipe, Katrina told me what ingredients she used, but didn't give me any quantities, so the amounts I'm listing are what I decided to use. The finished dish tasted wonderful, but feel free to make adjustments if you disagree with my quantities.

Katrina's noodles

  • 8 ounces spaghetti (I used Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar (or brown rice vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili sauce (sambal oelek)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, cut fine (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced very fine
  • few grinds black pepper
  • 1 sheet seasoned or plain toasted nori, cut with scissors into small rectangles
  • chopped cilantro, optional
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions al dente. When cooked, drain and rinse under cold running water to cool quickly. Drain noodles again and place in a bowl.
  2. Add the oil and toss to coat the noodles.
  3. Add vinegar, tamari, chili, garlic, ginger, sugar and pepper, and mix well.
  4. Just before serving, add the nori. Mix some in and transfer the noodles to a serving bowl. Arrange the remaining nori over the top of the noodles.
  5. Optional: Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
Makes two average, or three to four very small servings.

© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking
We served the noodles with barbecued seitan and steamed kale. The seitan was supposed to be barbecued, but since we don't currently have a barbecue, we marinated it in sauce and pan fried it in a small amount of oil. You could also broil it.

© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking
Eating raw garlic doesn't agree with my digestive system, but these noodles are so good I was willing to feel a little sick in order to eat them. Maybe next time I'll try drinking a big mug of peppermint tea with my raw garlic.


Vegan restaurant alert
Have you ever worried that the restaurant food you were told was vegan, contained animal products? If yes, then you might want to read about this startling undercover investigation taken on by two foodies in LA. It's a long but amazing post, and worth reading all the way to the end. (from quarrygirl)

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July 01, 2009

Red zinger smoothie

During our recent bout of steamy weather, I became smoothie obsessed. Not the "drink a green smoothie in the morning for your health" thing, but the "it's so hot the only thing I can think of consuming is an ice cold fruit smoothie" obsession. I made my smoothies with rice milk and various kinds of frozen fruit plus banana. One day it was so hot that even a rice milk smoothie seemed too heavy. My husband made a big gallon jar full of cold Red Zinger tea, and I made Red Zinger smoothies with frozen mango chunks and frozen raspberries. Curiously refreshing, as they say. This was the perfect refreshment for a ghastly hot day.