Iron Chef/Eat to the Beat: "Jalapeño Face" Spicy Waldorf Salad & Iggy Pop and the Stooges

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

 

The song: “I Want to Be Your Dog” by Iggy Pop and the Stooges, performed live at Rock the Waldorf Astoria 2010 (lyrics)

The foodstuff: “Jalapeño Face” Spicy Waldorf Salad (recipe below)

The connection: Is improv for Iron Chef.

 

'Jalapeno Face' Spicy Waldorf Salad for Iron Chef (0031)

 

As tempted as I was to make another pizza for this week’s Iron Chef challenge (hot peppers, sunflower seeds, and grapes!), I ix-nayed the idea-ay, since we literally just made two pizzas yesterday – and have the leftovers to prove it. Instead, I decided to go the healthy route with a Waldorf salad. (Which is to say, Shane had salad for dinner whilst watching me chow down on pizza, ’cause hot peppers? Not my scene. HE’S A SAINT.)

Though I eat a ton of salad, I almost never follow a recipe proper. For me, it’s as easy as tossing all my favorite veggies and toppings together in a ginormous Tupperware bowl (mere dinnerware cannot contain my Big Salads!) and getting my nom on. Before today, I had only the vaguest idea of what goes into a Waldorf salad.

According to the Wikis, “A Waldorf salad is a salad traditionally made of fresh apples, celery and walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise, and usually served on a bed of lettuce as an appetizer or a light meal. […] Other ingredients, such as chicken, turkey, grapes, and dried fruit (e.g. dates or raisins) are sometimes added. Updated versions of the salad sometimes change the dressing to a seasoned mayonnaise or a yogurt dressing.”

The “Jalapeño Face” Spicy Waldorf Salad* I came up with is a mix of old and new. It’s got all the classic fixins of a Waldorf salad: greens, apples, celery, grapes, walnuts, and mayo – as well as a few new additions: spicy, jalapeño-roasted sunflower seeds and an equally spicy jalapeño mayo dressing. A mix of sweet and spicy, the “Jalapeño Face” Spicy Waldorf Salad is not for the faint of tongue!

Pro tip: The mayo is just my go-to DIY Nayonaise recipe with some diced jalapeños thrown in. You can just blend some hot peppers with your own favorite vegan mayo, if you’d rather. Make a whole batch of the stuff, or just enough for the salad – it’s super-flexible.

Paired with Iggy Pop because he and The Stooges played the Waldorf-Astoria (the birthplace of today’s meal) when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. That, and Iggy Pop is all the awesome.

 

'Jalapeno Face' Spicy Waldorf Salad for Iron Chef (0026)

 

“Jalapeño Face” Spicy Waldorf Salad

Ingredients

a bed of leafy greens
diced apples
diced celery
green grapes
walnuts
jalapeño-roasted sunflower seeds (see recipe below)
spicy vegan mayo (see recipe below)

Directions

In a large bowl, put down a layer of greens. Top with the apples, celery, grapes, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and mayo and enjoy!

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Iron Chef/Eat to the Beat: Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce & Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

 

The song: “Gimme Pizza” (Slow Jam) by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (original)

The foodstuff: Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce (recipe below)

The connection: P.I.Z.Z.A.

 

Y’all, I’ve been wanting to incorporate pizza (my favorite!) into these Iron Chef challenges for some time now – but tragically, none of the ingredients have really screamed “pizza.” (Which is weird because pizza, much like ice cream, never fails to make me scream. And cry and moan and a few other things that are too obscene to mention here.) Until this weekend, that is!

Two words: potatoes and sesame.

 

Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce for Iron Chef (0021)

 

Two more words: potato pizza!

To start, I made a basic white pizza dough (my go-to recipe!), with a little garlic powder mixed in. The crust is dusted with a bit of rosemary-infused olive oil, then stacked high with several layers of paper-thin, salty Yokon Gold (or, in my case, red skin) potatoes, also seasoned with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and, voilà, an Iron Chef inspired pizza for four!

Since this is all so basic it feels rather like cheating, I also made a Garlic Sesame Sauce: silken tofu, blended and dressed up with sesame seed oil, tahini, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and a few other things. I used the Sour Cream recipe found in Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food as a jumping-off point, testing and adding ingredients until I had something that was a little bit sesame, a little but garlicky. Not half bad, if I do say so myself!

It’s meant to be drizzled (or plopped, as the case may be) on the pizza post-baking

 

Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce for Iron Chef (0041)

 

or served on the side as a dipping sauce,

 

Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce for Iron Chef (0063)

 

but you could easily use it like a more traditional pizza sauce. Cut the olive oil in half and add the sauce first, followed by the potatoes, olive oil, and optional sesame seeds. Easy as pie! (Because it is a pie!)

The pizza’s pretty great on its own, but I like the sauce because it helps to add a little moisture to what can sometimes be a dry pie. (Mashed potatoes work wonders too!) Got leftovers? Don’t fret! The sauce also makes for a tasty dressing, dip, or sandwich spread.

We also made a pretty epic Bruschetta Pizza, a slice of which you see on my plate. (When we make pizza, we ALWAYS make two. One for everyone!) And yup, I’ve got a recipe for that too!

You’re welcome.

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Iron Chef, Doggie Edition: Cinnamon Cranberry Carrot Oatmeal

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

My poor little lady Kaylee was brutalized at the vet’s yesterday. She went in for a dental cleaning and ended up having two teeth extracted. To be fair, this was no real surprise, what with her past dental issues. But her one remaining fang, GONE! The horror and injustice of it all!
 

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Kaylee circa 2007, after her second round of dental surgery. If you look closely (or click through to flickr for the notes!), you can see how her mouth is lopsided: many of the teeth on the left side of her mouth were removed, making her look adorably silly, but also kinda sad. As of yesterday, the “fang” on the right side of her mouth is now history, too.
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At our request, the vet also removed some rather large fatty deposits – which had been growing progressively larger over the past few years – from her left shoulder and right side. The one near her rib cage was especially stubborn coming out, and she’s got the 2″-long, ragged, angry red incision to prove it. Her shoulder looks even worse: because she had two lumps there (don’t worry, all benign, thank dog!), he had to make two separate incisions, which kind of meld together visually for an especially horrifying effect. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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Iron Chef #4: Quick Oat & Veggie Pancakes

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

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When Katie announced the ingredients for the final Iron Chef Challenge – carrots and oats – my mind immediately went to carrot cake/oatmeal muffins. And then I kept reading and slunk back to bed in shame. (Also, for a nap. The dogs woke me up entirely too early yesterday morning!)

After sleeping on it for an hour (or two or three! sue me!), I decided upon veggie pancakes. You might not have noticed (lol, who am I kidding?), but I’ve been on something of a breakfast pancake kick this month. So its heartier dinner counterpart seems about right.

For this dish, I substituted processed quick oats for the flour I’d normally use to bind the veggies together, and it worked like a charm. If you don’t have any green onions on hand, feel free to sub in a leek (and maybe a little onion powder) instead. Veggie pancakes are a versatile dish, so don’t be afraid to experiment. (Hint: tomatoes taste delicious when paired with zucchini and fried in a skillet.)
 
Quick Oat & Veggie Pancakes

Ingredients

1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Egg substitute equivalent to 1 egg (I used NRG Egg Replacer: 1 1/2 teaspoons powder mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water.)
1/4 cup soy milk
1 large carrot, grated (about 1 cup’s worth)
1 medium-sized zucchini, grated (about 1 cup’s worth)
1 green onion (or leek), sliced and diced
margarine

Directions

1. Process the quick oats in a blender or food processor until they’re finely ground. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ground oats, baking powder, salt and pepper and mix well.

2. In another bowl, combine the carrots, zucchini, onion, soy milk and egg substitute. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

3. In a medium-sized skillet, heat the margarine on medium, using just enough to coat the bottom of the pan (about 1 tablespoon per pancake). Pour the batter into the pan, forming a pancake five or six inches in diameter. Using a spatula, pat the veggies down firmly; be sure to pat the sides as well, pushing any stray veggies back into the pancake. Cook on each side until golden brown. Enjoy immediately!

Optional: Rather than making all the pancakes at once, you can store any extra batter in the fridge and cook it as needed. The pancakes taste way better fresh than reheated, so it’s a thought!

 
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Bonus Iron Chef!: Chocolate Chip Brownies with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

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What! You didn’t think that I’d be able to stay away from sweets entirely, did you? Coconut and chocolate, chocolate and coconut – they go together like…well, like me and pizza! Or me and dogs! Or me and pizza dogs! (And that, my friends, is how magnets work.)

Anyhow, enough with the silliness. Desserts are a serious biz. And this one hits the coconut trifecta: coconut milk, coconut extract and shredded coconut (in the brownies, frosting and garnishments, respectively), all without overpowering the dessert. For this Iron Chef Challenge, I started with one of my favorite brownie recipes, replacing the soy milk with coconut milk. As it turns out, this didn’t make a huge diff, as the original recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of soy milk. If you want the brownies to have a stronger coconut flavor (or any coconut flavor at all), try adding in a teaspoon or two of coconut extract. (Likewise, if you don’t have any coconut milk on hand, just use soy or almond!)

In contrast, 1/2 a teaspoon of coconut extract goes a long way in the buttercream frosting, giving it a sweet – but subtle – taste of coconut. Top it all off with sweetened, shredded coconut and chocolate sprinkles (vegan, of course!) and you’ve got yourself a triple coconut, triple chocolate masterpiece.

Also: a sugar hangover headache the next morning. BUT SO WORTH IT!

 

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Chocolate Chip Brownies with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

…for the brownies

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

…for the buttercream frosting

1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

coconut shreds and chocolate sprinkles to garnish

(More below the fold…)

Iron Chef #3: Vegan Chicken Cashew Salad with Coconut Lime Dressing

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

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Upon setting eyes on this week’s Iron Chef Challenge ingredient – coconut! – my mind immediately went to sweets. Coconut ice cream! (Talk about your no-brainers.) Raw coconut balls! Chocolate chip cookies coated in coconut shreds! Chocolate coconut candy, à la Almond Delights! Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! Oh, the possibilities!

And then reality set in and I opted for practicality – which, for someone with two bags of salad in the fridge set to expire soon, equals salad dressing. Coconut and lime are a natural pairing, so coconut and lime it was. Silken tofu and coconut milk form the base of this dressing, while lemon and lime juice give it that sweet tropical kick. Add in a splash of coconut extract for a little extra coco-nuttiness, and you’re good to go!

You can either use this as a salad dressing – in the picture above, it’s nestled on a bed of leafy greens, along with some shredded carrots, cashews and vegan chicken strips (Morningstar Farms Chik’n Strips, leftovers from the Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup I made on Thursday – recipe coming soon!) – or as a condiment, e.g. on a vegan chicken sammie. For a thinner or thicker consistency, tinker with the tofu-to-coconut milk ratio before adding the seasonings. (As written, the recipe makes a dressing similar in consistency to ranch.) This particular configuration yields about three cups worth, which I’m guessing you can divide and freeze for later use. But I haven’t tested that idea out yet, so experiment at your own risk!

Major props to the husband, who helped with the taste testing. I’m not all that adventurous, so it helps to have a partner who has all the fussiness of a garbage disposal!
 

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“Put the Lime in the Coconut” Salad Dressing

Ingredients

12 ounces silken tofu
1.5 cups coconut milk, room temp
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 tablespoons parsley

Directions

1. In a blender or food processor, combine the silken tofu and coconut milk and process until it’s smooth and creamy.

If you’d like to tinker with the consistency of the dressing, add the coconut milk a half a cup at a time; the more milk you add, the thinner the dressing will be.

2. Add in the lemon juice, lime juice, coconut extract and parsley and process until well blended. Most likely you’ll need to stop once or twice to scrape off the sides of the bowl as you go.

Since this dressing is suited to my husband’s tastes – and your preferences may differ – you may want to add the seasonings in smaller increments, adjusting the amounts to your liking!

3. Enjoy drizzled on a colorful salad or spread on a vegan sammie! Store any leftover dressing in an airtight container and consume within several days.
 
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Iron Chef #2: Chocolate Chip Banana Ice Cream, with a Caffeinated Coffee Kick!

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

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Fuck you, Monday! You ain’t got nothing on vegan breakfast ice cream!
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My very first Iron Chef Challenge, y’all! 2011 is the first year I’ve ever felt confident enough of my culinary abilities to join in, and I hope my Chocolate Chip Coffee Banana Ice Cream doesn’t disappoint.

As you’ve probably already guessed, the ingredients for this challenge are (drumroll please!) banana and coffee. I really wanted to cook up a batch of banana pancakes, topped with coffee-infused syrup (what can I say, I’m on a pancake kick!), but just didn’t have the time.

(We’re sealing the concrete floors this weekend! I know it sounds like a drag, but it’s so worth it in the end. When freshly sealed, the floors look like they have a candy-coated shell! So rad! And then someone – *cough* Mags *cough* – pees in the hallway and it’s all downhill from there.)

Instead I settled on coffee-flavored banana ice cream (as always, no ice cream machine required!), which fits in nicely with two of my themes (meant in the loosest sense of the word!) this mofo, namely ice cream and frugality.

I was a little skeptical of the banana-coffee flavor combo – especially since the taste of bananas can be overwhelming in these ice creams, what with bananas serving as the base and all! – but this is one delicious dessert. The bananas complement the coffee nicely, and how can you go wrong with chocolate?

Okay, so maybe coffee is a bit more than just an accent flavor, but the good news is that you can vary the strength of the coffee according to your tastes. Use two teaspoons for a light touch, or four (or more!) for a stronger brew. Decaf or no, it’s your call. But may I suggest this is as an early morning pick-me-up? Coffee and fruit, all in one convenient little bowl. So simple, yet so divine.
 

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The artsy crop.
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Chocolate Chip Coffee Banana Ice Cream

(Makes slightly more than one quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4-5 over-ripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup soy milk or – better yet – soy creamer
2 to 4 teaspoons instant coffee, depending on how strong you like your ice cream! (I used three.)
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chocolate bark

Directions

In a small mug, whisk the soy milk with the instant coffee. Combine the frozen bananas, vanilla extract and coffee in a food processor and mix until smoothly blended. Sample the batter and, if it’s not sweet enough for you, add a tablespoon or two of sugar (or other vegan sweetener) and the chocolate chips or bark and process until blended. Try not to overprocess the batter, as this can result in soupy ice cream. If the soft serve is too much on the soft side, transfer it to a covered container and store in the freezer for an hour or until it’s thickened up a bit.

Optional: for more finely chopped chocolate chunks, process the chocolate chips or bark first, and then add the bananas and follow the directions from there.
 

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Soft serve, freshly whipped.
(Ignore the icky Cool Whip container, mkay?
It’s a throwback from my pre-vegan days.
Reuse, then recycle!)
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