October 30, 2009

Speculoos smoothie, veganmofo 2009

When I was a child, once a year my mother used to buy ginger snap cookies in an rustle-y orange paper sack. These cookies were only available in October. They were large and flat and crackled on top.

They seemed very hard and crunchy on the outside but when I started chewing them, they got tacky, and stuck to my teeth. My mother and I loved these spicy cookies, looked forward to them every year and lamented the fact that we couldn't buy them whenever we wanted.

I would open the bag and inhale their spiciness. The fragrance was so strong I could almost taste the cookies before they touched my lips.

Today I added speculoos spice blend and a small amount of agave nectar to my almond milk-banana-mango smoothie, and when I took my first mouthful, I heard the rustle of that orange paper sack, smelled the gingersnaps, and saw my mother's smile.

October 29, 2009

Breads and speculoos / veganmofo 2009

I want to say upfront that I haven't been sent a review copy of the cookbook I'm about to mention (darn - I'd love to review it). It's just that the authors have developed a bread baking style that fits perfectly with the theme of this blog. Following their method couldn't be easier, and I've been playing with their recipes since their first cookbook, "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" was published. I used their technique, but made the recipes healthier by using whole grains, less salt, etc. Now they've come up with a new book called, "Healthy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day," and of course I watched their video, and made bread. I haven't actually seen the new book yet, but I know it has recipes using whole grains, fruits and veggies, plus a chapter on gluten-free baking. It's not a vegan cookbook, but probably easy for a vegan cook to adapt the recipes.

The bread pictured above was made from the basic recipe. I didn't have any unbleached flour on hand so I subbed semolina flour. For the topping I used a mix of sesame seeds, caraway seeds, dill seeds and crushed red pepper. The bread was delicious with the kind of springy texture I love, and it looked very pretty.

The dough - a rather wet dough - is mixed and stored in a container in the refrigerator, and taken out in blobs whenever a bread is needed.

Tonight I wanted to make a bread with the speculoos spice mix I got from Mihl's blog. (Are you reading this, Mihl?) I grabbed a blob of dough and rolled it into a rectangle. I mixed one tablespoon of speculoos spice mix, one tablespoon of cocoa, three tablespoons of evaporated cane juice and about 1/2 cup of raisins, and spread it onto the dough. The dough was then rolled up and the edges sealed. You can see from the photo I didn't do a very even job - perhaps I was rushing - but the taste is delicious.

The authors will be in Seattle Monday night to do a reading and book signing and I hope to be there. I doubt they'll be talking about speculoos!

October 28, 2009

Buffy / random food / veganmofo 2009

Buffy got groomed today and she looked so cute I had to give her some blog space. Buffy is at least 16 years old and holding her own quite well. She's still sweet and playful. I found her at the Humane Society when she was three, and she's been with us ever since. She was adopted to be our beloved Starr's sister so he would have company during the day, and they had a lot of good years together. Now Buffy lives only with humans but she doesn't seem to mind. In fact, at this stage of her life she's not that into other dogs anymore, though she still gets excited to see a cat. Lucky for her, two of her human brothers have cats, and sometimes she gets to visit them.

Buffy reclining regally (and hoping I'll go away and stop taking her picture).

At the secondhand store yesterday I found two really nice little white CorningWare dishes. They're rounded rectangles about 5 inches by 7 inches, and the perfect size for heating up and serving a single portion of lunch. I was envisioning them as handy little serving dishes for spreads or olives at a party. They were only fifty cents! Here you see one filled with leftover quinoa pasta (my favorite) and stir-fry from the previous night's dinner.

My son has been making himself humongous burritos with different fillings. I wanted today's potato-carrot-pea-chipotle-tofu filling but not the tortilla so I made a salad and put the filling on top for a burrito salad. It was great. Below you can see one of the burritos.

October 27, 2009

A Vegan Table / win $25,000 / veganmofo 2009

I got a new cookbook for my birthday — "The Vegan Table" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau — and we've started giving it a try. My husband found the can of artichoke hearts I bought to make a Turkish dish, and he made red lentil artichoke stew from Colleen's cookbook, instead. It wasn't the Middle Eastern dish I had intended, but it was delicious. I'm sure we'll want to make this again. I have a real weakness for artichoke hearts.

To go with the lentils he made cauliflower with spicy vinaigrette. This was an extremely easy dish of steamed cauliflower with a piquant dressing, proving once again that a dish doesn't have to be complicated or take hours, to be terrific. This dish might end up on our Thanksgiving table.


Cooking contest

Are you feeling creative and in the mood to enter a cooking contest with a $25,000 grand prize? I received an email from French's Mustard representative Danielle Nuxxo who wrote:

"I came across your Easy Vegan Cooking blog...and wanted to send you some info on a new cooking contest from French’s Food, where you can win a trip to NYC for a cook-off and get a chance at the $25,000 grand prize. Since mustard is naturally low in sugar, fat and calories, I thought your vegan readers would enjoy the challenge of coming up with a naturally delicious recipe that fits well into the gluten-free and vegan lifestyle.

Here are the details on how to enter the contest. Time is running out, since all entries need to be entered by Saturday, Oct. 31. Each recipe must:
• Be original, unpublished, and created by you
• Include at least one French's product
• Include no more than 8 ingredients (with the exception of salt, pepper and water…those are freebies)
• Be prepared and ready to serve in under 60 minutes (Parents are busy, we all know that!)
• For recipe inspiration and giveaways, check out the French’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Frenchs/129122660682?ref=ts
Recipes will be evaluated on appearance, creativity and overall deliciousness and must be submitted by Saturday, October 31, 2009 online at: http://frenchs.com/Login.php?redirect=/Contest/SubmitRecipe.php. Five finalists, determined by online voting and a judging panel, will compete in a LIVE Cook-Off event to be held in New York City for a chance to win the Grand Prize of $25,000!"
I know it's a tight deadline but my fellow bloggers are so creative!

October 26, 2009

Bottoms up / veganmofo 2009

Oooo. Edamame, corn and spicy potatoes - my fave.

Only one more week of vegan mofo, and I really haven't exploited the cute baby pix opportunities at all. So here we go. Babycakes (a.k.a. my granddaughter) was at our house all day Saturday, and in addition to puzzles, books, ball throwing, singing, dog petting, walk taking and discovering rotten apples in the dirt, etc., I got to try out my "microwave cake-in-a-cup making activity for those with short attention spans" (no age requirements). Apparently, even five minutes start to finish is too long for some.

Bottoms up! Cheers and all. Sure do love this almond milk.

I shared all the ingredients and told her what the final product would be but she just wanted to put her hands into everything and toss it around. Cool. Once the batter was on her fingers she didn't put them into her mouth as I thought she would, and I just managed to wipe them off before she ran out of the room to join her Uncle Jordan. The one ingredient she was most excited about (it wasn't the coconut) was the almond milk. When I was putting the almond milk into the measuring cup, she wanted some, so I gave her a little in a cup. She loved it, and drank quite a bit before spilling it onto the floor. She had some with her lunch, too. She's still too young to make the leap from ingredients to final product, but I can assure you she was quite pleased with that final product when she consumed it with her lunch. "Kek," she said. Cake, indeed.

On Friday night I found myself alone for dinner. My husband was traveling home from a meeting in D.C., and my son was working. When I cook for myself the food choices tend to be based on availability and convenience. That usually means: what's in the fridge and can it be cooked in a wok? There was lacinato kale, a small slab of tofu, leftover brown rice and some red pepper. Fried rice with good seasonings and a dab of cashew cheese made my perfect dinner. And maybe a little leftover kek.

note: How to cut lacinato (dinosaur) kale for a stir-fry or salad: Remove the center stems from the leaves with a scissors or by "stripping" the leaves with your fingers. Gather all the kale into a wad and roll up into a tight roll. Slice thinly across the roll with a santoku or other sharp knife.

October 23, 2009

It's Friday it's late / Veganmofo 2009

I've got quite an unrelated variety of foods here representing everything from serious and healthy to ridiculous but healthyish. First the ridiculous. Some time ago Diann posted a five-minute microwave chocolate cake-in-a-mug on Eat'n Veg'n. A similar recipe was also in a cookbook I reviewed. I was mildly interested in trying it just to see if it would work, but we didn't have a microwave at the time so I forgot about it. I don't know what triggered the memory in my brain, but I was about to watch Mad Men one night and suddenly I wanted chocolate cake, and remembered Diann's post. WE HAVE A MICROWAVE in this house was all I could think of. Now, I'm not sweet obsessed, and rarely ever have dessert unless we have company. My husband usually has an apple for dessert. But suddenly I was obsessed with microwave cake. I don't even like microwaves, but I had to do it. This led to a series (I'm too embarrassed to say how many cakes were in the series) of microwaved cakes, all of which got eaten before they could be photographed. Me and the apple-eater gobbled 'em up. Not that they were photogenic, understand, as they didn't necessarily come out of their mugs, bowls, dishes, etc. in one piece.

One of the reasons I've been trying so hard to get this right (one of the reasons, uh huh) is I want to make this cake with my tiny granddaughter, and the speed and ease of assembly and nearly instant gratification fits well with her attention span. This cake is basically done about 5 minutes after you start. I had to make a non-chocolate version because her mom doesn't like her to eat chocolate, and I think I'm ready for our play date tomorrow!

As Diann said, this won't replace a carefully made "real" cake, but it works great for a sudden dessert craving. The taste and texture are really good, especially served still warm. It's kind of like a big, soft muffin. Add some jam, ice cream or whatever, or just eat it plain.
Instant microwave cake - chocolate version (easily serves two)
  • 4 tablespoons whole spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons evaporated cane juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 5 tablespoons soymilk (or other milk)
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • splash of pure vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, sugar and baking soda. Mix well.
  2. Stir in the chocolate chips to coat with flour.
  3. In a glass measuring cup, place the soymilk, then vinegar. Stir in the oil and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid to dry and mix thoroughly but gently.
  5. Lightly grease a mug or small bowl. Add cake mix.
  6. Microwave for 3 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove from microwave (it will be hot) and allow to cool for several minutes. Loosen edges and turn onto a plate. Let cool a little.
  8. Serve while warm.
Instant microwave cake - coconut version (easily serves two)
  • 5 tablespoons whole spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened dried shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons evaporated cane juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate chips (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons almond milk (or other milk)
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • splash of pure vanilla extract
  • apricot jam
  1. In a small bowl, combine flour, coconut, sugar and baking soda. Mix well.
  2. Stir in the chocolate chips (if using) to coat with flour.
  3. In a glass measuring cup, place the almond milk, then vinegar. Stir in the oil and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid to dry and mix thoroughly but gently.
  5. Lightly grease a mug or small bowl. Add cake mix.
  6. Microwave for 3 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove from microwave (it will be hot) and allow to cool for several minutes. Loosen edges and turn onto a plate. Let cool a little.
  8. Serve while warm, with jam on top
Notes: I know almost nothing about microwaves but they seem to vary a bit so cooking times may be different. I think the one here is 850 watts, if that means anything to you. Err on the side of too little cooking so the cake isn't dry. You can always put it back in for another minute. It may appear to be moist at the edge but if the rest seems springy and done, it's OK.

Cashew cheese with toasted sesame oil
Now for something a little more serious. I've been eyeing recipes for cashew cheese for a while but can never remember to soak the cashews, and then we end up eating them before I get around to making the cheese. Well, I finally soaked some, and made an uncooked cashew cheese. I was pretty surprised to find that after five hours of soaking, some of the cashews had actually started to sprout! You can find endless variations for this delicious cheese online so it seemed pretty safe to deviate from the recipes and make this stuff based on the ingredients I happened to have. I didn't add any herbs, choosing instead to flavor the cheese with a fruity vinegar and toasted sesame oil - two additions I didn't come across in my recipe search. This stuff is sublime and I can't wait to make some as a starter next time we have company. It would be a perfect dip with crisp raw veggies.

Cashew cheese
  • 2 cups raw cashews plus water to cover
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • very small clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unpasteurized mellow white miso
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fruity vinegar (I used balsam cherry)
  • a few drops of toasted sesame oil (more to taste)
  • water as needed to process
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • paprika
  1. Soak the cashews 4 to 6 hours. Drain and rinse.
  2. Place cashews, garlic, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Process until very creamy and smooth, adding water as necessary for processing, keeping mixture as thick as possible. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
  3. Add miso, pepper, vinegar and oil. Process to mix well.
  4. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave out for 2 to 4 hours until preferred level of sharpness has developed. Then refrigerate.
  5. Before serving, sprinkle with paprika and more black pepper.
Here's a link to another cashew cheese recipe you might want to try. It's baked. And here's another. More ideas here.

update: I added jalapeño hot sauce to the cashew cheese on Saturday, and also recommend adding chopped parsley and/or chopped green onions. The cheese got very firm and spreadable in the refrigerator overnight. Next time I make it I plan to use umeboshi paste and tahini instead of the miso.

No-knead whole-grain bread with barley flour and sesame seeds
Today I made a no-knead bread using white whole wheat, barley flour and sesame seeds. It was baked on a stone and had a wonderful taste and texture - nutty from the barley and rich from the sesame seeds. I used one cup of barley flour to four cups of white whole wheat. I originally needed the barley flour to make blondies from Sweet Freedom. My husband does the shopping, and he bought a large bag of the stuff. Even though I've made the blondies three times, I still have a ton of the flour left so I've been adding it to my baked goods with good results.

Oatmeal with a side of news
I'll leave you with my healthy breakfast (from Wednesday) just to show that I am occasionally responsible and sensible. I need to counteract the completely silly things I've been doing with the microwave. (FOOD things!) The picture above shows a wonderful bowl of oatmeal with coconut, raisins, cashews and rice milk. The only thing that could make a breakfast like this more perfect would be to come downstairs and find it already made. I seem to be the only one in the house who wants oatmeal in the morning but I love it.

October 22, 2009

Eggplant this and eggplant that / veganmofo 2009

Roasted eggplant and garbanzo bean soup

We managed to accumulate a lot of eggplants this week - good deals at the market that we couldn't refuse. Since I seem to have a soup thing going, I decided to combine the eggplant with the soupathon and make roasted eggplant and garbanzo bean soup. I'd been wanting to make this ever since I first got my hands on Love Soup. I also wanted to try roasting an eggplant on the stove top (gas stove) like our cooking class teacher did. I mean, I've roasted peppers on the burner, but an eggplant is so much bigger.

I roasted one eggplant in the oven and one on the stove burner. And I made quite a mess on the burner. But now that I've roasted another eggplant (story below) I know what I did wrong the first time. I kind of ignored my roasting eggplant a little too long on a flame that was a little too high, and by the end I was certain I was going to set off the smoke alarm. By the time I remembered to turn the eggplant there was goo oozing out and turning to charcoal all over the burner. I got the eggplant cooked, but yuck, what a mess. I used a scrubber to VERY CAREFULLY clean the burner while it was still hot and everything came off in a snap so it turned out not to be so bad, but it can be better.

We combined the two eggplants for the soup because I was hoping to give the soup an edge of smokiness, but the soup just tasted like regular oven-roasted eggplant to me. The soup was delicious, but I could have saved myself some trouble by just using the oven.

For eggplant roasting experience number two, I played smarter. I turned the eggplant often so it would char evenly rather than get too cooked on one side and burst. The whole thing only takes about 15 minutes so there's no excuse for not sticking close by and doing it right. The flame was on the lowest simmer. The hardest part is cooking the thicker bottom but setting the eggplant upright for a couple of minutes did the trick. There was still a small spill but nothing like the first one. When the eggplant was soft, I set it in a bowl for a while to drain out the bitter fluids, and cool a bit.

The next part involved cutting it in half and scooping out the flesh, carefully retrieving all of the eggplant that was clinging to the charred skin. This was easy, easy.

Baba ghannouj
Next I used my chef knife to chop the eggplant into a purée, which I mixed with tahini, lemon juice, sea salt and finely minced garlic to end up with baba ghannouj - smoky and fabulous, just like it should be. I think this is the only way I want to have baba ghannouj from now on.

October 21, 2009

Creamy broccoli mushroom bake / veganmofo 2009

Bear with me here. I'm going to start with one thing and end with another but it really will all tie together in the end, you'll see. And all of it involves food. It all started with an email from my son asking if I knew about AmazonFresh. Well, no, I didn't, but soon after the email arrived I was on my way to placing my first-ever delivered-grocery order. Said son had a coupon code for 25% off the first order and we both decided to try it out of curiosity. Naturally, I was overcome with guilt about ordering from a subsidiary of giant Amazon instead of shopping at the local coop, but I used weird logic to calm my nerves. The delivery service is associated with Amazon but separate from it and operates only in Seattle - not even the whole of Seattle. The organic veggies I was looking at were from Washington and Oregon. Still. Is this OK? We went to the farmers market AND the coop in addition to the order, but still.

So I went online and made up a shopping list. I chose a pre-dawn delivery time for Sunday morning and waited in suspense. The next morning there was a stack of plastic bins on the porch, filled with our food. All we had to do was put it away. We felt very strange about this but kind of liked it too.

In addition to food and other items usually found at a grocery store, you can add certain other things usually found at Amazon - need a CD with your groceries? A pedometer, maybe? A cookbook? A cookbook. Well, actually, Vegan Yum Yum had been in my Amazon cart for quite a while, and it just happened to be available at AmazonFresh. So I added it to the list. And that brings me to the next part of the post. When the food was delivered, so was the cookbook. It's a gorgeous cookbook filled with wonderful food pictures, and tonight we tried one of the recipes. My husband made creamy broccoli mushroom bake. All I can say is, "yum yum."

October 20, 2009

Another day another soup / veganmofo 2009

As veganmofo continues, I find my posts are getting out later and later in the day. At first it was fun to post every weekday, and I had a post up by 6:30 a.m.. It's still fun, but now it's getting harder, and here it is almost 5:30 p.m., and the post is just getting started. I've been so focused on getting a post out every day I completely missed celebrating (or at least mentioning) my 200th post. (Of course, I also missed my 100th post, and that had nothing to do with veganmofo.) So, hooray, this is my 207th post. And it's going to be about soup. Because we can't seem to stop eating the stuff. And it's going to be short.

If you've been reading along, you've probably noticed all the soups we've been making from Love Soup. And why not make them? When you find a good thing, it makes sense to take advantage of it. So, we made another, and this time it was red lentil and squash soup, made not with butternut squash as per the recipe, but with delicata squash that we purchased at the farmers market. We also had steamed brussels sprouts, and I just added mine to my bowl. Then we garnished the bowls with a little grated Daiya cheese that we bought to try, and can't seem to use up. Another fabulous soup.

I made some flatbread to go with it. The dough was refrigerated leftover Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day-type bread that had been constructed with white whole wheat and barley flour. I got the idea for the bread shape from the mezze cooking class we'd just recently taken. I would have topped it with sesame seeds if we'd had any, but had to settle for pumpkin seeds instead.

My son also got his hand in the soup-making frenzy around here but he didn't use "the book." I saw him looking at a recipe on the PPK but he said we were missing most of the ingredients so he used whatever he could find in addition to the potatoes and beans I'd asked him to build his soup around. The soup was excellent but he was not able to provide a recipe. Sorry.

October 19, 2009

Chestnuts exploding over an open fire / veganmofo 2009

My mother was a pretty straightforward cook, and our dinners were usually meat, potato, salad when my father was home, and chicken, potato, salad when he wasn't. There was an occasional foray into frozen green beans or canned peas, but she didn't experiment much. For every holiday, we knew the menu. I can remember the few times she experimented with new recipes; for example, there was the flounder baked in sour cream, the schnecken, and the roasted chestnuts...

I was about 14 the first time my mother made roasted chestnuts. She made them in a covered pan on the stove. We were pretty excited as this was something we'd never had before. There was a nice toasty smell, and then suddenly there was the sound of gunfire, or firecrackers. The lid flew off the pot, and sharp, hot objects began catapulting around the room. We started shrieking and ducking for cover under the kitchen table. We soon realized the chestnuts were exploding, and stopped yelling, but all hell was breaking loose, and we were powerless to leave our shelter. The shrieks turned to gales of laughter as we waited for the disaster to end. All of the chestnuts had exploded into a zillion pieces and the kitchen was covered with debris. We were practically paralyzed with hysterical laughter as we tried to undo the damage. My mother checked the recipe and found she'd skipped the part about cutting an x into each chestnut to allow the steam to escape. Oh well.

Before we moved here and rented the house we're living in, I don't think I'd ever seen a chestnut tree. Here, I noticed trees with odd, prickly green fruit and wondered what they were — some kind of nut tree? All of a sudden, the tree at our house dropped its fruits, and chestnuts were lying all over the sidewalk and street. The minute I saw this nutty display, I ran for bowls and started collecting. But wait a minute ... are these really chestnuts? After a bit of Internet research I've learned that what we have covering the street and sidewalk are HORSE CHESTNUTS, and they are POISONOUS. Figures. The question here is why do people plant poisonous horse chestnut trees when they can have sweet, edible chestnuts instead? Why, why, why?

Here's what a sweet chestnut pod looks like.

This is a horse chestnut pod.
Sweet chestnut pods are covered in long spines that go every which way. The spines are so thick the pod skin can't be seen. Horse chestnut pods have much fewer, shorter spines. I collected the sweet chestnut pod on a walk. If I could just remember where...

Horse chestnuts


Today is my birthday and we plan to try out a new (to us) restaurant tonight. The restaurant I really want to go to is closed on Mondays. Sometimes we get caught in a restaurant rut and go back to the same places again and again, so I'm willing myself to try someplace different tonight. With so many options available to us, it's the fun and adventurous thing to do. Right?

October 16, 2009

Middle Eastern mezze cooking class / veganmofo 2009 / cookbook winner

Spiced olives
On Tuesday night my husband and I took another cooking class at PCC Natural Markets, and I can't say enough good things about it. Please excuse me if I blabber on and on about how wonderful the food was. The class was taught by Sureyya Gokeri, originally from Turkey, who taught us the Turkish versions of several well-known dishes. Sureyya teaches classes at PCC as well as at her family's business, Istanbul Imports, and if you live in the Seattle area I highly recommend taking one of her classes. Although the class syllabus (baba ghannouj, taboulleh salad, spiced olives, Turkish artichokes, flatbread from Jordan, stuffed dates from Iraq, and tahini sauce with bean salad) sounded very familiar, Sureyya's versions of these dishes were a revelation.

Mezze refers to food that comes to the table before the main course — Middle Eastern hors d'oeuvre. The main meal usually contains meat, but mezze consists of fresh vegetables, bread and olive oil. We started with zaytun musabbeh — spiced olives from Lebanon. In my mind you can hardly go wrong with olives - I always gravitate to the olive tray at parties — and this salad was an olive-lovers dream. Sureyya used marinated olives bought from the olive bar at PCC. The recipe contains pomegranate juice, and Sureyya also added fresh pomegranate arils. She showed us how to open the pomegranate by removing both ends and peeling carefully like an apple.

We learned a few cooking tricks to make the food more flavorful. For example, Sureyya always adds each dried herb to a small amount of olive oil to more thoroughly release its flavor. She then adds the oil and herb to the dish. She also told us her mother stored fresh herbs wrapped in tissue paper rather than in plastic. She said this keeps the herbs fresher longer.

When she made the taboulleh, she added paprika to color it, as well as ground cumin and crushed red pepper. It was served Turkish style in crisp leaves of romaine lettuce. (Do you see the pomegranate seeds in there?)

Bean salad with tahini sauce
Our teacher made a simple bean salad with lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and Italian parsley, to go on top of a thick and creamy tahini dressing. It was so good, just thinking about it makes me hungry.

baba ghannouj and khoubiz

I was most impressed with the baba ghannouj. Traditionally, eggplant for this dish is grilled over charcoal, imparting a smoky flavor. Sureyya roasted one eggplant in the oven, and grilled the other eggplant on the gas stove burner over very low heat until it was black and completely soft. She peeled off the blackened skin and chopped the eggplants by hand. The result was a smoky and fabulous dip. To go with the dip she made Khoubiz, flatbread from Jordan. The bread was very simple to make, and tasted amazing.

The enginar, or Turkish artichokes, was something I've never eaten before, but am sure to eat again now that I know how to make it. I've never seen a better use for peas and carrots!

I'm sorry to say the photos of our dessert, holwah tamar or stuffed date sweetmeats from Iraq, were too blurry to use. This was simply dates pureed in a food processor, mixed with chopped blanched almonds, rolled into balls and rolled in either toasted sesame seeds or shredded coconut. Very simple and delicious.

Sureyya has graciously allowed me to share her recipe for olive salad.

Zaytun Musabbeh (Spiced olives from Lebanon) serves 6 to 8
  • 1 lb. pitted green olives or marinated olives
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 firm tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh red or green pepper, chopped
  1. Place olives in a bowl (rinsing the brine is optional) and chop into small pieces.
  2. Add the dried spices to olive oil and then rub into the olives by hand.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the tomatoes and peppers.
  4. Add the tomatoes and peppers just before serving.
  1. Instead of olives you can use one of the following: potatoes, cucumbers, roasted eggplant, beans such as chickpeas or kidney beans, or mushrooms.
  2. Add chopped walnuts to the salad.
  3. Add fresh pomegranate arils.
  4. If tomatoes are out of season, use 1 tablespoon of tomato paste or red pepper paste.


The winner of the cookbook giveaway is Courtney. Courtney, please send me your address and I'll send the book to you. Congrats!

October 15, 2009

Chipotle vegetable soup / veganmofo 2009

I should call this post "Pantry Soup" because I made use of stuff from the refrigerator and pantry in an effort to move older stuff out and use up leftovers, including a container of leftover pasta sauce and the end of a bag of frozen corn. I started out wanting a simple cauliflower soup but one thing led to another, and before I was done, it was a full-blown vegetable bean soup. I quick-soaked a cup of kidney beans in eight cups of water by bringing the water to a boil then turning off the stove and letting the beans sit for an hour in the covered pot. I then cooked the beans until they were tender, adding more water as necessary. When they were soft, I added the leftover tomato sauce. I made a flavoring mix of peanut butter, miso, chipotle powder and dried crushed red pepper, and added it to the beans. The onions were caramelized by cooking slowly in a wok for about 30 minutes. After making three soups from "Love Soup" that required caramelized onions, I've become very fond of the added flavor caramelizing brings out. The veggies (except corn) were cut, and simmered with water in a separate pot (to preserve color) to tenderize them and make broth. When cooked, they were added to the beans.

The corn was added last so it wouldn't get over-cooked. I intended to add parsley at the end, but our bag of parsley was gross and unusable. So what's in your refrigerator? Maybe it's time to make soup.

I'm providing a list of ingredients but all quantities are approximate, as they should be. Remember, a tasting spoon is your most valuable piece of cooking equipment!

Vegetable and kidney bean soup
kidney beans (cup dry)
water (8+ cups for the beans, more for the veggies)
leftover tomato sauce (cup) or a can of tomatoes
onion, chopped - caramelized
cauliflower, cut up (head)
celeriac, sliced thin (chunk)
potato, large dice (1)
carrot, sliced (2 large)
frozen corn (cup)
salt to taste
peanut butter (Tbsp.)
mellow white miso (Tbsp.)
chipotle powder (tsp.)
dried crushed red pepper


Vegetarian spiders found

Just in time for Halloween comes a nice but slightly creepy spider story. The spiders in question are (almost) vegetarian so I thought you'd want to know about them. Except for an occasional treat of ant larvae, these tropical spiders eat plant buds. Check it out. This is real - not a joke.

October 14, 2009

Surprise box

It was a gray and gloomy day. There was wind. There was rain. It was damp and chilly. "Bleh. Is this what I have to look forward to?," was the thought in my mind as I arrived home. Five more months of weather forecasts that predict, "rain at times, chance of showers, rain and then showers, rain with sun breaks." Sun breaks? Might as well check the mail, I thought, a bunch of junk mail will make the day complete. But in addition to the junk mail, sitting on the landing was a box addressed to me from Lindsay from Cooking for a Vegan Lover. My mystery box had arrived, and suddenly the day seemed a lot better. (Not sunnier or drier, mind you, but better.) Lindsay had held a giveaway contest a few weeks ago and I was the lucky winner. I love surprises almost as much as I love sunshine.

Here's what was in the box: There was a one pound bag of crunchy veggie chips, and

And a pine-y bar of shea butter soap that smelled just like the North Woods (of Wisconsin, even though it was made in N.Y.).

There was a bottle of vegan Worcestershire sauce.

There was a spicy jar of peanut butter with several kinds of hot peppers.

The box also contained two gnu bars, rosemary and sea salt flatbread, parma, hummus, Heart Thrive energy bars and green tea. Thank you so much Lindsay for all these special vegan treats.

Lindsay is doing a care-package swap. Click here for more information on how to participate.