Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mediterranean Dinner

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It's officially summer. It's hot outside and cooking feels like such a chore. This is the time of year when I prefer no-fuss cooking that showcases the freshest summer produce available. So here, we have some simply roasted eggplants and golden zucchini with some diced ripe tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, green olives and tangy feta cheese on a basil mint lemon sauce. It's so simple but stunningly fresh and bright -- just the perfect summer meal. I served it with some homemade hummus, toasted pita, dolmades and roasted beets.

For the basil mint sauce, you will need:
  • 2 cups packed basil
  • 10-12 mint leaves
  • small handful Italian parsley (about 1/2 cup packed)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
Blend all ingredients together into smooth sauce. That's it! You can also serve this sauce with some roasted artichokes and beets.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hemp Burger

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When I started this blog, my only goal was to make good vegetarian food that I want to eat. That means, making satisfying and soulful real food that happen to be vegetarian -- none of the bird/hippie food that carnivores associate with vegetarian/vegan meals. For the most part, I've avoided ingredients that you can only buy at health food stores and stuck with vegetables that can be found at any supermarket.

Now, that said, I took a big step away from what I usually make with this hemp burger. We bought a big bag of hulled hemp seeds at Costco and I made some patties by mixing the seeds with some tofu. It was a little weird working with hemp seeds. Maybe I've gone crazy, but the patty mixture totally tasted and smelled like egg yolks. That led me to think that the mixture would make good egg-less quiches -- but that's another experiment for another day. This hemp burger had good substance and texture -- super hearty when sandwiched between two slices of whole grain bread. The addition of pepitas made the burger more substantive and added a bit of crunch. Aside from tasting like egg yolks (again, maybe it's just me), the burger is pretty flavor neutral, which means you can add a ton of toppings and condiments.

For this hippie-dippie hemp burger, you'll need:
  • 1 cup hulled hemp seeds (I used Bob's Red Mill Hulled Hemp Seed)
  • 1 block (14 ounces) firm tofu
  • 1 cup cooked white rice (preferably day old, but if you don't have that handy, bread crumbs will do)
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
  • 1/4 cup (about 2 stalks) green onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
To make the burgers, you will need:
  • burger buns or bread
  • toppings (I used tomatoes and spinach, but the possibilities are endless)
  • condiments (I really like whole grain mustard with this)
Mush everything together. Make sure that tofu is totally broken down and well integrated. Refrigerate for 30 minutes so the mixture can set up.

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper. Form about 6 patties and place them on the parchment paper. Spray the top of the patties with canola or olive oil spray (optional for better browning). Bake for 30 minutes. Turn the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes. The top should be golden brown. Assemble your sandwich and consume.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Avocado, Jicama and Daikon Radish Gazpacho

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I got the idea for this gazpacho from encuentro, a wine bar in Oakland. I thought the idea of making gazpacho out of avocado is so ingenious that I had to try it for myself. For my version of this gazpacho, I added some Daikon radish to balance out the sweetness of the jicama and the creaminess of the avocado. I also added some spinach for its bright green color. The resulting gazpacho had a nice peppery finish -- a little bite in the end.

You will need:
  • flesh of 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 medium jicama, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup Daikon radish, peeled and diced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • a small handful of spinach (about 1/4 cup packed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup filtered cold water
  • small diced jicama for garnish (optional)
  • mint for garnish (optional)
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for garnish (optional)
Begin by blending jicama and Daikon radish together in a blender with a cup of water. I thought that the jicama and Daikon radish mixture was too grainy and fibrous at this point, so I passed half of the mixture through a strainer and returned the resulting liquid back into the blender. Then add the remaining ingredients and blend together. If you're making this ahead of time, pour the gazpacho into a prep bowl and cover with plastic wrap. To prevent oxidation, make sure that the plastic wrap is directly on top of and in contact with the gazpacho. Refrigerate and serve cold with optional garnish on top.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Pin It Pictures of Tangerine and Raisin, because they are just too cute. They sleep and bird watch. You know, things cats are good at.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Birthday Dinner + Yonanas

Pin It For VB's birthday, I made him dinner comprised of dishes that he had mentioned that he'd like to try. So the mix is a bit... eclectic.

First up, we have a vegan mac n' cheese from Yeah, That "Vegan" Shit. I have to say, I'm not sure that there will ever be a vegan mac n' cheese that's going to come remotely close to the real deal, because real mac n' cheese is incomparably awesome. That said, this vegan mac n' cheese was good for what it is -- good for vegans, lousy for meat eaters.

We also had some ful muddamas from midEATS. You can sort of see it next to the dolmades (more on that later). By the way, did you know it's next to impossible to find some dried or canned fava beans around here? Seriously, I had to go to 4 stores and finally found them at Rose International Market, our local Middle Eastern market. I ended up adapting the recipes using dried fava beans -- turned out alright, a bit al dente but flavorful and pretty good.

Finally, I made some dolmades after we bought a jar of grape leaves at the farmer's market. I need a bit of practice wrapping the grape leaves tighter, but this turned out totally delicious -- by far the best item of the night. The recipe came from Tyler Florance (I know...) and it is a winner, if not a bit time consuming.

For dessert, we tried "frozen yogurt" made by Yonanas 902 Ice Cream Treat Maker. It's a bit of a misnomer, because technically, Yonanas makes mushed up frozen yogurt out of bananas. It's a pretty cool idea -- it grinds frozen bananas and other fruit into a mixture that has the texture and consistency of frozen yogurt. VB and I were both stunned that the product looks just like frozen yogurt. However, the product can turn a bit slimy (like mushed up bananas) after the mixture melts a little.

As for the taste, we added some frozen peaches and raspberries to the mixture. But this product is definitely for the banana lover in you, because even though it looks just like frozen yogurt, it still tastes like bananas. Also, I think there were some human errors involved -- the product required ripe bananas and mine were not quite as ripe. I wonder if I had riper bananas, the end result would be sweeter and of a better mouth feel and consistency. That means, we have to try this one again sometime soon! With ripe bananas, next time. I do think that this can potentially be a great product for vegans and others who want to enjoy a frozen treat without dairy or artificial products.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Braised Seitan My Way

Pin It As I mentioned in my last post, our earlier batch of braised seitan didn't come out the way we wanted. Seitan is actually a very easily manipulable protein -- it takes on flavors easily and it's impossible to overcook it. I think the previous batch didn't come out right because the recipe we used didn't use enough flavors or the right flavors, resulting in a bland, overly sweet product. Well, I'm not making that mistake again. For this braised seitan recipe, I'm adding lots of aromatics, herbs and spices. The result is anything but bland.

For this braised seitan recipe, you will need:
  • 18 ounces of cooked seitan (store bought or you can make my seitan recipe but be sure to shape the dough into palm sized chops)
  • 2 yellow onions, medium diced
  • 3 carrots, medium chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, medium chopped
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 3/4 bottle of red wine (I used Trader Joe's Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place seitan, onions, carrots, celery, thyme, rosemary, Bay leaves into a oven proof baking dish. Make sure there's enough room for liquid. Combine red wine, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder and onion powder. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour mixture over seitan. Cover with aluminum foil and braise for 30 minutes.

Remove and flip the seitan. Cover and braise for another 30 minutes. Remove. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Return dish to the oven, uncovered, and roast for 20 minutes. Flip the seitan and roast for another 20 minutes. Check occasionally to see that there's enough liquid in the dish. You don't want to clean up a burnt-on mess.

Remove seitan. By now, the seitan should look deep brown and developed a little bit of a crust. It's virtually impossible to get the burned crusty bits on seitan like you can with real meat, so don't expect it to have quite the same crust. You now have braised seitan!

One serving suggestion is to slice this up and make a cheesesteak sandwich by sauteing seitan with some onions and then jam it into toasted French bread with some Cheez Whiz. Mmmm... Cheez Whiz (the spelling suggests industrial strength orange deliciousness). OR. You can use some vegan soy cheddar instead. But, as far as I know, you only live once -- so bring on the Cheez Whiz! FRFR3MD7WGCU