Monday, November 22, 2010

Panang Curry Tofu

I happen to be a pretty big fan of Thai food. I love (and I mean love) Thai iced tea. I love Panang curry. In fact, I really enjoy most Thai curries. However, I really don't like leaving the comfort of my home to go out to eat (unless there is some rational behind it). Thus, on Friday night, when my partner and I were all settled in (and it was really cold outside) we decided that we were not going out and that we would, in fact, make Thai food in our own home. Below is the recipe for Panang curry that I had jotted down in my recipe journal long ago and from who knows where:

1 lb. block of tofu (frozen, thawed, and cut into smallish cubes)
1 teaspoon cumin, turmeric
2 teaspoons tamari/soy sauce
1 cup of onions
1 tablespoon red chili paste (recipe below) (includes: red pepper flakes or red chili peppers, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and peanut sauce/peanut butter)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 clove of minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 lime peel, grated
Juice from 1 lime (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup of water
1 can of coconut milk
1/3 cup of peanut butter
1 carrot, diced

After you have cubed your thawed tofu, heat some oil in a frying pan, add cumin seeds, onion, and tamari/soy sauce, and let the tofu fry (flipping it consistently) for a few minutes, until it is nice and crisp on the outside. Set aside the fried tofu and sprinkle it with the turmeric.
To make the red chili paste combine red pepper flakes, or diced red chili peppers, with a dash of rice vinegar and soy/tamari sauce, and a teaspoon of peanut sauce or peanut butter in a blender/food processor and blend for several seconds until all the ingredients are incorporated.
Now, on medium heat, add the garlic and ginger to the pan (with the oil and onion etc. still in it) and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Now add peanut butter, red chili paste and water to the frying pan, stir until the peanut butter has dissolved (a couple of minutes)
Now add the brown sugar, coconut milk, lime juice, lime peel, and carrot. Stir well and let cook about 5 minutes.
Now add the tofu, making sure to cover each piece completely with the sauce. Cover and let cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with rice. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Squash Casserole

At almost every holiday get together my sister makes this amazingly delicious squash casserole. It is always the first dish to disappear, and everyone is always asking for more. So, after acquiring some adorable yellow squash from the farmers' market a couple of weeks ago, I absolutely had to try to make this casserole.  I called my sister, got her recipe, and then tweaked it to the ingredients I had at home. Below is what I created, and it is delicious. You might want to make two, just to be safe.

Squash Casserole

5-6 small to medium yellow squash, sliced (you can add zucchini too if you want)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup of vegetable broth
1 8 oz bag of cheddar cheese
2 cups of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup of crushed crackers (any of your choice, I used herb and garlic wheat crackers)
1 cup of onions
1 teaspoon each of sage, garlic powder, onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 350
Heat some oil in a pan on med-high heat for a few minutes (maybe while you are dicing your squash) and then add about 1/2 of the onions, let them cook for a couple of minutes, then add the squash. Cover and let cook for about 6-7 minutes (stirring occasionally)
In a small pan, add a little oil, heat it on medium heat, then add breadcrumbs, the rest of the onions, the sage, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir well and then let this cook for a couple of minutes, until it is slightly browned and the onions are cooked.
In a baking dish pour the mushroom soup and vegetable broth, mix well.
Add the cooked squash, and then add about 1/2 of your breadcrumb mixture in this and mix well
Now add the cheese, on top of the squash
Add the rest of the breadcrumbs and your crushed crackers
Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes
Uncover and bake for about 5-7 more minutes, until the topping is browned


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mexican-Style Casserole

Friday  night we decided to have some friends over. Since we're all homebodies now, after graduating from college, this was a really big deal. We planned everything out, decided on tequila for drinks and, to complement the drinks, Mexican-style food. Our friends offered to bring tequila, and I baked a Mexican casserole on the fly. This is what I came up with:

Mexican-Style Casserole

2-3 cups of crushed blue corn chips (crushed them with a potato masher)
1 box of "fantastic world foods" brand vegan taco "meat" mixture
1 can of black beans
1 can of whole kernal corn
1 cup of salsa (any kind you like, I make my own with summer tomatoes, I will provide the recipe below)
1 cup of tofutti brand vegan sour cream
1/4 cup each of fresh diced tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos
1 8 oz package of Mexican-style cheese (this is optional, you can leave off the cheese for a vegan casserole)

Preheat your oven to 350, and in a baking dish crush your corn chips up
Prepare the taco "meat" as directed on the box (I also add a little cumin and garam masala to add some extra flavor and spice to the mixture)
Layer the taco mixture over the corn chips
Next, layer the sour cream over the taco mixture
Place a thin layer of salsa (about 1/3 of a cup) over the sour cream
Next add a layer of black beans
Add another 1/3 cup layer of salsa
Add a layer of corn
Now add the rest of the salsa
On top of this place the fresh cut tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos
If you are using cheese place the cheese evenly on top
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the casserole is all nice and bubbly


Homemade Salsa
(disclaimer: This is a salsa I make out of summer garden ingredients, and mostly I randomly throw things together in a food processor and see how it comes out, but this will be my best attempt at listing an official recipe for this salsa. It's a great salsa, a little like pico de gallo, a little spicy, and can keep for a long time in the refrigerator. Play around with it to find a taste you like the best.)

2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 cup of onions, diced
1-2 green chili peppers, diced
1 spring of mint, chopped up
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons of cilantro, chopped up
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoons of vinegar
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
3-4 tablespoons ketchup
salt and pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until you have a smooth, but chunky mixture, place in a sealed container and refrigerate. Enjoy whenever!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Koftas

     I have this vegetarian cookbook that my mom bought me when I was about 14 (I'm sure she was hoping I would take the hint and learn how to cook. It only took about 10 years for me to get started on that.) Recently, though, I have been flipping through the book, trying to figure out some new recipes to make, and I stumbled across a recipe for koftas made from sweet potatoes and chickpeas.
     Now, in the past I have attempted to make Malai Kofta, a delicious Indian dish with vegetable balls made from potato dough served in a delicious spicy, creamy tomato sauce, but failed miserably. When I stumbled across this recipe for sweet potato and chickpea koftas, I was intrigued by the author's technique, and as I had sweet potatoes on the verge of going bad and some chickpeas in my cabinet, I decided I needed to make myself some koftas. Below you will find the recipe (slightly tweaked, but otherwise unaltered) for these sweet potato and chickpea koftas, additionally I am going to list a recipe for some good raita (an Indian yogurt-based dip/sauce) which goes along well with the koftas, and, if you prefer to turn them into a curry, I will also include my recipe for malai kofta gravy.
So, without further adieu, the recipes:

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Koftas:
(taken from Vegetable Heaven by Mollie Katzen) 

1-2 medium sweet potatoes
1 1/2 to 2 cups of chickpeas (or 1 can, rinsed and drained)
1 large clove of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of minced ginger
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
pepper to taste
6 tablespoons flour
1 cup of peas (optional, I did not use these)
oil for sauteing

Peel and cut your sweet potatoes, then boil them for about 10 minutes until they are soft, and mash them.
In a blender/food processor mix sweet potatoes, chickpeas, garlic, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, lemon juice, and pepper, blend until the mixture is well mixed and smooth (this may take a little bit, as the potatoes are thick).
Transfer mixture to a bowl, add flour, and stir well.
Put about 1/4 cup of oil in a frying pan, turn it on med-high heat, and leave it until it gets hot
While the oil is heating up, pat out your dough mixture into little balls
Once oil is hot, place the koftas into the oil, flipping them consistently, until they are golden brown on all sides.
Remove them from heat, sprinkle a little cumin and cinnamon on top, and they are ready!

For a good snack, you can eat them with this Raita:
1 cup of yogurt
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of golden raisins
1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, cumin, tandoori powder, thyme

Mix all of the ingredients together and serve

If you would prefer to use the koftas for a meal, try them in this Spicy Malai Kofta Gravy:
2-3 large tomatoes, diced
1 cup of diced onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of ginger, minced
1 teaspoon each of red chili powder, garam masala, cumin, and red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of heavy cream or milk
1/2 cup of chopped cashews
1/2 cup of golden raisins

Puree everything in a blender, except the onions, milk, cashews, and raisins. In a saucepan, heat a couple tablespoons of oil and add onion, cook until transparent (about 2 minutes).  Place the puree mix in the sauce pan and bring to a boil on med heat, then stir in the cream/milk, whisking for about 2-3 minutes. Add cashews and raisins. Cook for another 5-7 minutes on low heat. 

Place you koftas in the sauce and enjoy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cranberries make Autumn Official

Cranberry sauce is my favorite. It always has been. I remember being young and loving November because I would steal cans of cranberry sauce out of our cabinets and hide in my room to eat the whole can, by itself, with a spoon. Maybe you think that is slightly strange, but what can I say? I love cranberry sauce.
I haven't had real (that is homemade) cranberry sauce in many many years. Celebrating the holidays away from home, or in between several homes, makes it difficult to get to the cranberry sauce. This year, however, I felt the need to make my own cranberry sauce, and when I received a coupon from Earth Fare for a FREE pound of fresh cranberries, I really didn't have a choice. So now I can celebrate the season in true autumn fashion. Cranberries, fall spices, and deliciousness.

Below you will find my cranberry sauce concoction: a blend of tangy taste, classic fall sweet and spicy, with lots of flavor and happiness.

Fall Cranberry Chutney

1 pound of fresh cranberries
1 peeled orange or 1 can of drained mandarin oranges, pureed
1 cup of chopped walnuts
1 apple peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2-3 tablespoons each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
1 tablespoon cardamom powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Prepare all of your ingredients (dice apples, chop walnuts, mince ginger, puree oranges in blender/food processor until they are a smooth but pulpy liquid)

prepared ingredients

Heat 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water in a sauce pan until boiling, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. After it has boiled for a few seconds, turn the heat on simmer, add rest of ingredients, and stir well.

Just added everything!

Cover and let simmer for about 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour so that it can thicken

Finished chutney!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy Diwali!

November 5 officially marked the Hindu festival of Diwali. During Diwali Hindus light lamps as part of the festival; in reading about it I came across this quote that I believe is absolutely beautiful:

"What is the significance of lighting a lamp? There is a logical answer to this question. It is through the light that the beauty of this world is revealed or experienced. Most civilizations of the world recognize the importance of light as a gift of God. It has always been a symbol of whatever is positive in our world of experience.
To Hindus, darkness represents ignorance, and light is a metaphor for knowledge. Therefore, lighting a lamp symbolizes the destruction, through knowledge, of all negative forces- wickedness, violence, lust, anger, envy, greed, bigotry, fear, injustice, oppression and suffering..."

And while I do not prescribe myself to any religion, the idea of celebrating knowledge and the beauty of knowledge's capability to illuminate the world in such a way that we can erase oppression, injustice, fear, etc. seems like one of the best reasons to celebrate that I can think of.

Thus, moving into a less serious tone of thought, I decided to partake in the Diwali celebration by attempting to make a delicious north Indian dessert, Gulab Jamun, that I have always enjoyed. 

My partner and I, self-proclaimed gulab jamun amateurs, went to work on these delicious pancake-like balls of syrupy sweetness, and the recipe that follows is what transpired:

Gulab Jamun

Sugar Syrup Ingredients:
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of water
2-3 tablespoons of cardamom powder or 3-4 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon cinnamon (optional)
1-2 tablespoons rose water (optional)

Directions for Sugar Syrup:
Mix ingredients in a sauce pan, heat mixture to boiling while stirring, until sugar dissolves. Allow mixture to boil for a few seconds, then turn down to a simmer. Leave syrup simmering, so that it may thicken (though you do not want it too thick, a good thin syrup consistency). Be sure to stir it occasionally, as you are making the jamuns, so that the sugar doesn't burn to the pan. 

Jamun Ingredients:
1 cup dry milk powder
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup milk
Oil for frying

 In a thick bottomed pan (like a Dutch oven, or just a thicker bottomed sauce pan), pour enough oil in to cover the small jamuns in, and turn on a low heat (between 2-4, if using an electric oven). Let the oil heat up while you are making the jamuns (you do not want your oil too hot, as the jamuns will instantly burn, they need to fry slowly so that they can plump up and cook thoroughly inside and out). 

* Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then add butter. Using your fingers mix the butter in until the butter is completely crumbled up and integrated into the dry mix.
*Next, add milk, and mix into a sticky dough. Form one large ball, and then from that ball make smaller balls (about the size of a rubber bouncy ball you would get from a quarter machine, or a large marble). Place these little dough balls on a plate, and cover in a damp (but not wet!) paper towel. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes. 
*Now, test your oil by placing one jamun in it. It should take a good 15 seconds for it to rise to the top, and then it will slowly cook from there. If it cooks faster than that, or fries to a crisp, your oil is too hot and you should turn off the heat or remove the oil from the stove until it cools down.
Jamuns frying
*When your jamun cooks at the appropriate pace, you can then add about 6 or 7 at a time. Gently turn them in the oil using a spatula,so that they cook evenly on all sides. Once they have plumped up and are golden all the way around (this takes a few minutes), remove them from the oil and set them on a plate to cool. 
*Once all of the jamuns are finished, you can remove your sugar syrup from the heat, let it cool for a few minutes, and then place the jamuns in the syrup. They may be eaten immediately, or you can let them sit overnight (so that they soak up the syrup) and warmed up the next day. Either way, they are delicious.

Finished Gulab Jamun
Enjoy! And be sure, while you are enjoying these delicious sweets to think about the meaning and significance of Diwali, and maybe in your own way celebrate your own triumphs over darkness in life.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vegan Cushaw Squash Pie

So, I recently acquired an amazing cushaw squash from my farmer friend. For those of you who don't know, cushaw is an heirloom squash that has a naturally more sweet taste than pumpkin. Apparently, the canned pumpkin you buy in stores is largely made up of cushaw, because it makes better pies. After learning all of this groundbreaking news about the truth of pumpkin pies, I decided to make a cushaw squash pie.

Now, if you go to the farmer's market and pick yourself up a cushaw, you will have to prepare it for pie use.
This is actually quite simple:
cut your squash in half, take out the seeds (I saved my seeds so I can plant cushaw squash next year, but you can also roast them in salt if you want a tasty snack), and scoop out all of the stringy goop, then place the squash face down on a greased baking sheet (or two) and bake at 350 for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (until the squash is soft). Let the squash cool, then scrape it from the skin. Then, mash the squash with a potato masher or in a food processor/blender until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes. I saved my squash in two large mason jars (one squash can make about 4 pies!).
(information on cushaw squash gathered here)
Cut in half
About to bake

Now, you can use 2 cups of squash to replace 1 can of pumpkin in any pumpkin pie recipe. I decided to go the vegan route, and made this pretty amazing vegan cushaw squash pie (it has a good consistency, and since it doesn't use tofu it doesn't have the usual "vegan" taste of many tofu-made desserts)

Vegan Cushaw Squash Pie
(recipe tweaked from: Vegan Pumpkin Pie Recipe)

Pie Filling:
2 cups of mashed cushaw squash
3/4 cups of sugar
2-3 teaspoons each of: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom (optional) (you can just use cinnamon, or a pre-blended pumpkin pie spice mix)
1 1/2 cups of silk brand soy pumpkin spice drink (I think this is out only during the winter holidays, if you can't find it the original recipe calls for vanilla soy milk)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water

Mix squash with spices and sugar
In a saucepan on med-low heat, heat up the soy milk
In a small bowl dissolve the corn starch in the water (add more water if you need to, just make sure the cornstarch is completely dissolved, but also make sure it's not just a watery mixture)
Add cornstarch to the soy milk, turn to med-high heat, and let the mixture come to a boil while stirring constantly
After about 1 minute the mixture should look like pudding, add this to the squash mixture, mix well, and then place in your crust (pre-made vegan crust or recipe below)

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then at 350 for 40-50 minutes (until the pumpkin feels solid to the touch in the middle) 
Let the pie cool for at least 2 hours

"pudding" consistency of soy milk and cornstarch

Pie about to bake!
1 cup of flour
1/3 cup of vegan butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons water

cut butter into the flour using a fork or knives, until all of the butter is small flour-covered chunks
add sugar and cinnamon, mix well
add the water, and roll of the mixture into ball (if it isn't sticky enough add slightly more water, 1/2 a tablespoon at a time)
place on a floured surface and roll out flat
place in your greased pie pan and make sure you cover the surface of the pan evenly

Enjoy your deliciously perfect fall treat!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vegan (not)Meatloaf

Meatloaf was always one of my favorite foods for some odd reason (I think it is all the ketchup), but I haven't eaten meat since I was about 11, so, as one can imagine, I haven't had meatloaf in quite some time (and particularly the thought of ground up beef, all soaked in ammonia and full of slaughter-house left overs grosses me out, so I don't even like to think about real meatloaf). However, I decided I would like to have some (not)meatloaf, with some delicious homemade mashed potatoes and some spicy habanero macaroni and cheese, to really enjoy my southern self.  Thus, I have tweaked this recipe to create a delicious vegan meatloaf that is nothing but tasty.

Vegan (not)Meatloaf

1 package of soy crumbles (check to make sure they are vegan)
1 bottle of ketchup
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
1/3 cup of onion
1 clove of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of Veganaise
1/4 teaspoon each of parsley, thyme, basil, celery salt
salt and pepper to taste
2 diced green chili peppers (if you want it spicy)

Mix the soy crumbles with 1/2 bottle of ketchup, add onion, garlic, spices, Veganaise, bread crumbs, and peppers, mix well
Grease a 5X9" loaf pan (I used a cupcake pan, because I don't have a loaf pan, and it takes less time you may want to consider doing this as well) and bake for 45 minutes (using a cupcake pan bake about 27 minutes, or 25-30 to be more vague) and then add the remaining ketchup to the top of the loaf and bake 15 more minutes (for both loaf pan and cupcake pan).