Greek Creamy Lemon Rice Soup with Yogurt Naan Griddle Bread

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

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One upside to the end of VeganMoFo? I can finally turn my attention back to the many other tasks I neglected throughout most of September. Like finally reviewing that copy of Vegan Eats World that Da Capo Press sent me all those months ago! (I’m so sorry you guys, really. The time just got away from me!)

Since the weather’s starting to turn chilly, I decided to concentrate on the soups: starting with this Creamy Lemon Rice Soup! Subtitled “‘No’ Govlemano,” this is a veganized version of the “zesty [Greek] classic egg-lemon chicken soup.” Which I’ve never had (I don’t think I ever tried an egg-based soup in my omni days!), so I can’t really comment on its authenticity vis-à-vis the original – but I can say that it’s delicious: thick and creamy, with pureed white beans and both orzo pasta and arborio rice, the pairing of which adds multiple textures to the dish. And the lemon is unexpectedly awesome.

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I decided to pair it with naan bread, mainly because I wanted to see if I could do it. I don’t have such a hot track record with breads, you see. But the naan turned out to be super-easy to make, even if baking it in the cast iron skillet did smoke up the house a little. (Worth it!) I couldn’t find any vegan yogurt locally – it seems to have plummeted in popularity lately – so I used this recipe at Oh She Glows to make my own. I know, right! How cool is that?

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The leftover naan is perfect for baking individual quickie pizzas, pita pizza styley. The bread is a little thinner than pita and results in a floppier crust, but no complaints here.

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Incidentally, the flexibility of the bread also makes it awesome for hummus wraps. (Or is this considered a sammie?) Naturally I overdid it with the fillings, so that the bread stood no chance of staying put when folded, but trust me when I say that it works even better for this purpose than the (thicker, less pliable) pita bread I normally use.

This is definitely a recipe that’ll be entering into regular rotation ’round these parts. Ditto: the soup.

You say “tomato,” I say “Red Lentil and Tomahto Soup.”

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

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So I know I said that I wouldn’t have time to cook out of Simple Recipes for Joy until after VeganMoFo. (Just six days, y’all! SIX DAYS!) But as fate would have it, I have a ton of fresh tomatoes from my garden – and Simple Recipes for Joy has a recipe that calls for a whole two pounds of fresh tomatoes. (Count ’em, TWO.) On the weird side, it’s a hot soup recipe in a week when the temperature has been topping out in the high 90s every. single. day. But hey, air conditioning.

I was concerned that maybe Shane wouldn’t be in the mood for soup after eight hours spent mowing the lawn in what is essentially hot, humid August Missouri soup, but he was actually stoked on the idea: “I need to rehydrate!” Um, okay then.

So the soup is really tasty, though a little on the thin side. I ended up adding an extra cup of lentils and cooked the soup a little longer, just enough so that the lentils were tender, but didn’t dissolve (like the first batch did, and was supposed to). Along with the tomatoes and lentils there’s cumin and curry, which gives the soup a rich, savory taste.

Perfect for dipping bread in! We didn’t have any fresh bread (boo!), so I cooked up some frozen dinner rolls and those were almost as good.

X is for Xaver Suppe (Xavier Soup)

Friday, September 27th, 2013

X is for Xavier Soup (0010)

And so we have arrived at the letter X! X, which is the bane of every blogger who attempts an alphabet theme, vegan or otherwise. X, which usually results in baked goods bound together with Xanthan gum. X, which is a pretty badass letter and really should have some equally badass desserts to go along with it. Someone get on this, okay?

My only real option for this dish was, ironically, a Catholic soup that’s traditionally served on St. Francis Xavier’s Day. (Ironic because I’m not just an atheist, but an apostate to boot. And yeah, that’s probably not the correct use of the word “ironic,” but wev. I live by my own rules!) It’s a pretty plain dish, just dumplings in clear chicken broth. Yawn, right? I added some veggies to make things a bit more interesting, but it’s still rather understated. Also less canon, but whaddya gonna do?

I based the veganized version on this recipe from Catholic Cuisine, using flax eggs as a substitute in the dumplings. Since I halved the dumpling recipe, there’s a rather odd amount of eggs: one egg and one egg yolk, the latter which the internet tells me is equivalent to one half of an egg. The quantities are a little weird, but it works.

My only other experience with dumplings being the Seitan and Herb Dumplings from American Vegan Kitchen, I wasn’t quite sure how the dough would – or should – turn out. Tami Noyes’s dough is dry enough that you can roll it out on the countertop, but this batch proved much stickier. At first I tried making marble-sized balls with an (improvised) piping bag, as suggested in the original recipe, but quickly gave up and did it by hand. If you go this route, grease your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to them. It’s far from foolproof, but works much better than flour!

The finished product is…okay. Kind of like chicken noodle soup, but with dumplings in place of noodles, and a little plainer all around. Me, I think I’ll stick to vegan chicken noodle soup in the future – it’s heartier, and hella easier to make.

Served with a freshly made loaf of Kalamata Olive Bread. I doubt that this pairing is in keeping with tradition, but so what? KALAMATA OLIVE BREAD!

X is for Xavier Soup (0012)

Xaver Suppe

Ingredients

…for the dumplings

1.5 tablespoons ground flax seed + 4.5 tablespoons water (or an egg substitute equivalent to one egg + one egg yolk)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (plus extra as needed)
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese (less?)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
a pinch of nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons parsley

…for the soup

8 cups vegan chicken broth
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1 large carrot, diced (optional)
1 celery stalk, diced (optional)
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon parsley

Directions

1. First, prepare your egg substitute. In a blender, combine 1.5 tablespoon ground flax seed + 4.5 tablespoons water. Pulse for about a minute, or until fully blended. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the flour, margarine, soy milk, and parmesan cheese. As the margarine melts, stir until the flour forms a solid dough. Work in the salt, pepper, nutmeg, parsley, and egg substitute.

3. Put the mixture into a piping bag with a big nozzle and pipe marble-sized balls onto a greased tray. Alternately, you can do this by hand, rolling pieces of dough into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

4. Next, make the soup. In a large stockpot, bring the veggie broth to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Whip in the arrowroot powder and then add the carrots, celery, bay leaves, and onion powder. Simmer for about ten minutes, or until the carrots start to become tender. Remove the bay leaves and add the dough balls. Cook for five to ten minutes (cook time will vary depending on the size of the dough balls), or until cooked all the way through. Add the parsley and serve hot.

 
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U is for The Ultimate Corn Chowder Experience

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

U is for The Ultimate Corn Chowder Experience [Betty Goes Vegan] (0005)

I don’t know if the corn chowder found in Betty Goes Vegan can rightly be called THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE – mostly because I haven’t tried nearly enough corn chowder recipes to consider myself the arbiter of such titles – but it is pretty damned good. It gives my own recipe a run for the money, anyway. With two kinds of corn and potatoes (creamed and frozen and fresh and hashed, respectively), it’s almost as hearty as it is easy to make. The secret ingredient? Lemon pepper, the presence of which is subtle yet unexpected. (But you can always add more for that extra kick. I did!)

Along these lines, I paired the soup with the Lemon Pepper Garlic Bread, also from Betty Goes Vegan. Sounds a little weird, but lemon on garlic bread? Crazy good. Genius, even. But then I’ve been hooked on the stuff (lemon pepper; though I am addicted to all the breads, too) since I discovered it last summer.

U is for The Ultimate Corn Chowder Experience [Betty Goes Vegan] (0009)

 
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T is for Tuscan Bread Soup

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

T is for Tuscan Bread Soup [Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook] (0003)

So this meal started out as the Tuscan Bread Soup from Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook – but I tinkered with it enough that I’m no longer sure it qualifies as either “Tuscan” or a “bread soup.”

First up, the white beans had to go, on accounta beans make my belly bloated and gassy. I replaced those with a cup of mini pasta shells. And celery? Ew! It’s so stringy, like a coil of dental floss. I swapped that out for carrots. I also used fewer onions and more garlic, ’cause that’s how I roll. And more broth – vegan chicken instead of vegetable, since that’s what’s in my cabinet – so there would be leftovers. Fresh tomatoes, too; ’tis the season! Of course I just had to make the bread garlic, which I then served alongside the soup rather than under it; I just couldn’t bear the thought of diluting its extra-awesome garlicky flavor. (With minced garlic AND garlic powder. That’s what I’m talkinbout!)

This soup was so kickin’ that I decided to write down the modified recipe, since it’s definitely something I plan on making again. Probably it’s a little more in the area of a minestrone now, but that’s okay. A soup by any other name.

T is for Tuscan Bread Soup [Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook] (0010)

Some Kind of Soup, Not Necessarily Tuscan Bread Soup

(Adapted from the Tuscan Bread Soup found in Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook.)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large white onion, diced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups grape tomatoes, halved
3 large carrots, diced
8 cups vegan chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup miniature shells (or the teeny tiny pasta of your choice)

4 large slices French or Italian bread
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
a dash of garlic powder

Directions

1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onion and cook on medium until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium low. Continue to cook for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes release some of their juices.

2. Add the carrots, chicken broth, and spices. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to simmer for another fifteen minutes, or until the carrots and tomatoes are to your liking. (I prefer mine on the tender side.)

3. While the soup is cooking, prepare the garlic bread. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, minced garlic, and garlic powder. Spread onto the bread and let sit until step #4. When the soup’s nearly ready, bake the bread at 450F for five to ten minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.

4. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Add the miniature shells and cook for about five minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Remove from heat and enjoy while hot. You can either pour the soup over the bread in a large bowl, or serve the bread alongside the soup for dipping.

 
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Roasted Carrot and Potato Soup & Sicilian Bread Pie with Broccoli

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Epic mealtime was epic.

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After a slew of cold and rainy weather, I was craving some hot soup and warm bread something crazy. Enter: Roasted Carrot and Potato Soup from Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook (hint: not just for vegetarians!) and Sicilian Bread Pie with Broccoli from Vegan Italiano, by Donna Klein. (Reviewed yesterday, in point o’ facts!)

Rich, creamy, and super-savory, the soup is a new favorite. It takes a little extra planning, since you’ve gotta roast the veggies beforehand, but it’s so worth it. (Bonus points for using leftover roasted vegetables.) You’re supposed to process the whole shebang in a blender or food processor, but I like my soup a little chunky, so I set about 1/3 aside – you can spot a stray carrot piece in the photo above.

Pre-blender, the soup resembles chicken noodle, with potatoes playing the role of featured carb. Also quite delicious! Not creamy, but still totally nom-worthy.

The bread pie was more of a pain; the refrigerated french bread dough didn’t take kindly to my efforts to reshape it from a rectangle to a circle. But I persevered and, while the pie ended up a bit misshapen (like all my pies inevitably do), it was still really good.

The top and bottom pieces didn’t completely fuse together, so I was able to remove the top piece for dunking purposes. Turns out that this soup? Was made for bread.

Craving, satisfied.

Cauliflower Soup with Parsley

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

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To be honest, cauliflower soup sounded rather boring to me. But I had a head of cauliflower that needed eating, and it’s a good thing it did. Because this soup? Way better than it has any right to be!

The recipe – another one from Vegan Italiano – is super-simple and includes a mere eight ingredients: cauliflower (duh!), veggie broth, garlic, olive oil, and assorted seasonings. (I added a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast to give the soup a slightly cheesy taste, but most of the flavor cred goes to garlic.) Boil the cauliflower, sautee in a stockpot, add the other ingredients, simmer, blend, serve. Dinner in 30 minutes or less.

Well, assuming your other half didn’t accidentally misplace the top of the blender, thus sending you on a 15-minute scavenger hunt for the damn thing.

Served with the remaining Kalamata olive spread. Ditto: the last of the Italian bread. We seriously need to do some grocery shopping.

Tomato and Bread Stew with Pasta

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

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Orzo, to be exact. The most adorable of all the pasta shapes! They’re just baby pastas, yo!

This is yet another dish from Vegan Italiano, which I seem to be devouring in record speed. Most of the recipes are ridiculously simple, with ingredients lists coming in at a dozen items or less. You can see the attraction, no?

This soup-stew-bread pudding-thingie has just eleven: olive oil, white wine, veggie broth, onions, garlic, tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, pasta, and toasted Italian bread. Throw it all together and you’ve got one hearty bowl of carbs.

The only thing I’ll change the next time around (and there will be a next time, oh yes!) is when I add the bread, namely: closer to the end of the cook time, rather than with the orzo. After fifteen minutes simmering in broth, it’s hardly recognizable as bread anymore. More like little blobs of mush. Tasty blobs they are, but I still prefer chunks. I like my bread with some bite, okay.

Seitan and Herb Dumplings

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

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From American Vegan Kitchen!

I can’t even remember the last time I had dumplings, y’all. Back when I was a wee little thing (okay, not so little; my nickname was Jelly Belly Kelly for a reason, you dig?), my mom used to make sauerkraut and dumplings for my grandmother – complete with a side of liver (ew!), which stunk up the house something awful. I don’t remember liking it much: not the sauerkraut, not the dumplings, and certainly not the liver.

Besides, I thought dumplings were stuffed with goodies, instead of being baked in them? Kind of like pierogies plus!

Point being, I was curious to try the Seitan and Herb Dumplings recipe in AVK, just to see if my feelings vis-à-vis dumplings had changed any in the intervening twenty-five years. Besides, if I didn’t like it, there was a big fat bowl of leftover fusilli sitting in the fridge with my name on it.

Turns out, dumplings aren’t half bad. Since I have no idea what a dumpling is supposed to taste like, I can’t be 100% certain that I nailed it. The outsides of my dumplings were soft and mushy, having absorbed all the stewy juices they’d been simmering in. Makes sense! It was hard to tell if the innards were done, though. They seemed a bit…spongy, maybe? Not bad, but dense. I think I like ’em, but in moderation. Maybe five to a bowl? Yeah, I’m specific.

The stew (or is this a soup? idk!) is really hearty and flavorful – quite good! Surprising, given that there aren’t too many spices in it. Must be the thyme. And the seitan – I lazed out and used store-bought, but AVK does include a few homemade seitan recipes – is reminiscent of the beefy chunks in Dinty Moore Beef Stew. (Oh, how I loved that stuff in my omni days! One Christmas my aunt even gave me a huge Costco size as a stocking stuffer.) Even if I don’t go for the dumplings, I’ll most definitely make the stew again.

Belly, full. Pants, off. Or at least exchanged for sweatpants. I’ll leave it to your imagination, reader.

Baked (!) Vegetable Soup

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

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Now that I’m doing more cooking, I’m for serious starting to appreciate the convenience and flexibility of baked dishes. (Prepare it an hour or even a day in advance, and pop in it the oven when your stomach starts threatening to grumble. Easy peasy!) Stuffed pasta. Spaghetti pie. Lasagna. Herbed rice. Baked French toast. And now: Baked Vegetable Soup, courtesy of Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano.

This soup is surprisingly tasty, given how few seasonings it calls for. Just minced onion and garlic, along with salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and veggie broth. (Though I must admit to doubling the thyme and oregano!) After Tami Noyes’s ‘Big Soup’ Minestrone, this seems downright stingy. But together they create a savory, chunky soup. (Potatoes, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes, oh my!)

One which you’re supposed to serve on top of toasted French bread, but I enjoyed mine on the side (yet still partially submerged) because I like a little crunch in my bread. Otherwise I’m totally on the bread-bottomed-soup bandwagon.

My only quibble is with the cook time: after 45 minutes at 350F, the soup was hardly bubbling and the potatoes were still a bit crunchy, so I jacked the heat up to 400F and let it bake an extra 15 minutes. Next time around I’ll probably try 375F for 45 minutes, or 400 for 30. Depending on how hungry I am, natch.

‘Big Soup’ Minestrone with Baked Garlic Bread and Herbes de Provence

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Say that five times fast!

Today’s meal is three recipes in one, namely: ‘Big Soup’ Minestrone from American Vegan Kitchen, seasoned (in part) with Herbes de Provence from The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe (yup, another new cookbook for me to play with!) and served with a side of Baked Garlic Bread from Vegan Italiano. Oooh-la-la.

First, the soup. Hot damn, THE SOUP.

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A delicious, slow-cooked pot of goodness including white beans (or tempeh, take your pick), diced tomatoes, green beans, carrots, onions, garlic, pasta, veggie broth, and red wine. The seasonings are many – seven, not including the spice mix Herbes de Provence, which Wiki describes as “a mixture of dried herbs typical of Provence.”

Since it’s not something I normally keep on hand, I was lucky that my newly acquired copy of The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe had a recipe for it. (Serendipitous!) So that’s at least another seven herbs right there.

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While the soup was simmering, I also threw together some Baked Garlic Bread: Italian bread topped with sauteed garlic, parsley, salt, and olive oil and baked in the oven for about five minutes. So easy, with a most excellent taste-to-effort ratio.

In fact, I think I like this even more than the Skillet Garlic Bread from the same cookbook: the minced garlic is much more difficult to burn this way. Plus, it’s a little less oily, so it doesn’t sit as heavy in the stomach. Just as tasty though!

Mighty Miso Soup (still needs a sidekick)

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

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Yet another dish from the pages of American Vegan Kitchen (I’m on a roll, yo!): Mighty Miso Soup. Filled with carrots, scallions, orzo, and mushrooms and seasoned with miso (duh!), veggie broth, soy sauce, ginger, chili oil (or paste in my case), and five spice powder, this soup is mighty delicious. (Minus the bok choy. I’m not particularly fond of cooked leaves!) Not hearty enough on its own, we served it with some store-bought, accidentally vegan “egg” rolls. Five minutes in the toaster oven and they’re good to go!

Though I really liked this soup, I found it to be a bit on the salty side. Which is weird, because sodium and I are BFFs. Next time around, I might swap out some of the veggie broth for plain water. Otherwise, it’s a winner!

Also, am I killing it re: my pledge to make at least one new dish a week or what? Public failure, quite the motivator.

 

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Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

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Another dinner cooked up in the American Vegan Kitchen! Tami Noyes’s Loaded Baked Potato Soup is somewhat similar to various potato soups I’ve tried in the past, with one notable difference: you bake the potatoes beforehand and leave the skins on when you add them to the soup! Interesting, right?

The result is a tasty, chunky soup that really is reminiscent of baked potatoes. (More so if you top it with sour cream and vegan bacon, which I failed to do here. Sadly, we were out of sour cream and forgot to defrost the bacon. Boo!)

The only thing I’d do differently next time around is cut the potatoes into smaller chunks. As it turns out, scooping 2″ pieces of potatoes out of hot liquid and trying to bite them in half while still steaming? Kind of dangerous.

Eat to the Beat: Creamy Tomato Soup with Beer Cheese Bread & Blind Melon

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

 

The song: “No Rain” by Blind Melon (lyrics)

The foodstuff: Creamy Tomato Soup served with Beer Cheese Bread – recipes from Veganomicon and Vegan Junk Food, respectively

The connection: Rubber boots and rainy day soups!

 

Tomato soup and grilled (Daiya) cheese sandwiches: does a more perfect rainy day meal combo exist? I think not! THIS ONE’S FOR THE BEE GIRL! Now a woman! But you get the idea!

 

Creamy Tomato Soup from Veganomicon (0004)

 

Isa brings the soup – namely, a Creamy Tomato Soup straight from Veganomicon. This is a rich, satisfying dish that’s so creamy you could almost mistake it for dairy. (The secret? Potatoes!) With canned crush tomatoes and sundried tomatoes for double to the tomato-y goodness. Seriously, this is a soup for lovers. Tomato lovers! (Oh snap!)

Overall, this is a ridiculously easy meal to make, as soups often are. But there’s a caveat! The whole process will go a whole lot smoother if you have an immersion blender – otherwise, you have to let the soup cool, transfer it to the blender in batches, and then reheat it again. Yuck, right?

I thought I was gonna hafta go the blender route, until Shane whipped out a Thunderstick thingie that he uses to make shakes. I’d totally forgotten that we owned such a device, initially confusing it with the ($2,000!) Hulk Hogan Thunder Mixer he used (and I supposedly broke, though I remember no such thing!) back in the mid-aughts. It may or may not be an immersion blender proper; we’re still investigating. It doesn’t even have a brand name stenciled on its handle! Either way, it did the trick.

Normally I’d pair this with a toasted Daiya cheese sammie, but I decided to go a slightly different route this time: cheese bread! This recipe is from Vegan Junk Food, and I’ve been eying it since I reviewed the book way back in April. (It also doesn’t help that the husband bought some Daiya cheese wedges, ostensibly for toasted cheese, and then ate them all without telling me. Boo!)

 

Creamy Tomato Soup from Veganomicon (0027)

 

As lip-smackingly good as the soup is, it’s the bread that’s the real star of the show. Seriously, it wins all the awards! The loaf proper is just flour mixed with beer and a little bit of brown sugar. Pour it into a loaf pan, top with melted margarine mixed with nutritional yeast, and bake for 45 minutes. By no stretch of the imagination am I a master bread-maker, yet even I was able to pull it off without a hitch.

And the payoff is inversely related to the effort required. This Beer Cheese Bread? Divine. The sugar and beer add just a hint of sweetness, and the cheesy nooch topping I could eat all by its lonesome. (And I did, in crumb form. There may or may not have been some plate-licking involved, and not of the canine variety.) Even if you’re not a beer person – and I’m not – you’ll love this bread.

Pro tip: The leftover slices – assuming there are any – are crazy good topped with a pat o’ margarine, toasted, and served with homemade bruschetta. Don’t say I never did anything for ya!

 

veganmofo 2012
Eat to the Beat

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Vegan Junk Food Cookbook Review: Riots, not diets!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold (2011)

 

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher.)

Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food is my new favorite cookbook. (The previous title holder? Wheeler del Torro’s The Vegan Scoop – which should tell you a little sumthin’ sumthin’! Namely, that I like my vegan food filled with empty calories.) At my request, I was lucky enough to receive a review copy – along with two copies to give away – from the publisher, Adams Media. With a name like “Vegan Junk Food,” I figured it couldn’t disappoint.

Whether you like your junk food sweet or savory, chocolaty or cheesy, Lane (can I call you Lane?) has got you covered. The 225 recipes in this collection are divided into ten categories: breakfast foods; deli favorites (i.e., sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and sliders); comfort-meets-takeout foods (entrees); crusts and carbs (pizzas and breads); festive grub (party foods!); dips, hummus, and sauces (including sundae toppings!); savory treats; cakes; candies and cookies; and grab ‘n’ go sweets (brownies and bars). As you can see, the recipes are roughly divided between meal-type items (entrees, main courses) and snacks/desserts.

The husband and I tried out about twenty recipes before I sat down to write this review; and, while I don’t usually review cookbooks, this is easily the largest number of recipes I’ve sampled for a cookbook review, like, ever. (I just couldn’t stop myself; everything looks so good!) Possibly it’s the most recipes I’ve made from a single cookbook, period. Though I own a ridiculous number of them, I don’t use cookbooks with much frequency; more often I cook from memory or pull recipes off the internet. But Vegan Junk Food? Most definitely joining my repertoire!

The book’s obvious strength, of course, is the food: oodles and oodles of junk food! Pizza. Pasta. Tacos. Pot pies. Casseroles. Cupcakes, pies, and brownies. Empty calories as far as the eye can see! Wait, that’s not entirely fair: some of these foods aren’t all that bad for you. Ironically, many of the recipes in Vegan Junk Food are actually healthier than my own versions. The Mac and Cheese Bake, for example, uses a vegan Velveeta-like cheese sauce made of potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, nutritional yeast, and soy milk. Even factoring in the additional vegan cheese shreds in this dish, it’s still way better for you than my own mac & cheese recipe, which is basically just pasta and processed vegan cheeses (namely, Daiya and Follow Your Heart). Don’t let the book’s title fool you: while these foods may look and taste like junk food, they’re not all super-trashy.

With options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, Vegan Junk Food is versatile. Mix and match the recipes for something new – or experiment to make them your own. For example, I used leftovers from some of the recipes to create new banana ice cream dishes!

While some of the recipes call for pricey vegan meats and cheeses, Gold doesn’t rely on these products exclusively. (Unlike the PPP blog, Vegan Junk Food doesn’t read like a Lightlife ad!) In fact, she offers diy recipes for many of these vegan staples so you can make ’em your own bad self, oftentimes at a fraction of the price! See, e.g., gravy (page 61); ricotta (pg. 120); sour cream (pg. 120); cheese sauce (pg. 121) basil pesto (pg. 124); and ranch dressing (pg. 126), to name just a few!

My complaints are few and relatively minor. Some recipes reference other recipes – to return to the Mac and Cheese Bake, the Cheese Sauce is its own recipe, located in a different section of the book – but don’t include a page number alongside the recipe title, thus forcing the reader to consult the index in order to find it. A minor annoyance, compounded by the index’s lack of user friendliness. (I find it counter-intuitive and difficult to use.) An estimated cook time and rating for difficulty on each dish would have been nice too, but I suppose both are easy enough to gauge by reading through the instructions.

I also ran into issues with two of the recipes – the Almond Joy Bar Cake and the Red Pepper, Caramelized Onion, and Hash Brown Quiche – which I’ll explain below. Still, out of twenty recipes, two small glitches? Not so bad! Especially when you consider my lackluster track record with baked goods. Brownies, why you no like me?

What follows is a run-down of all the dishes I’ve tried thus far. I’ve only tackled about half the items on my to-do list, so I’m far from done with this cookbook! I’ll post additional pictures as I take them, so keep an eye out for those.

 

  • Pesto Chicken Pizza with Creamy Garlic Sauce (page 85)

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    This was the first recipe we tried out, and quite possibly it’s also my favorite! The pureed white beans, seasoned with vegetable broth, nooch, and garlic, makes for a savory and filling pizza sauce, and the Basil Pesto is simple yet delicious. Enjoy this pizza with a fork and bib, though – it’s a messy one!

    (More below the fold…)

  • Vegan Bacon & Cheddar Potato Soup

    Monday, November 7th, 2011

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    Vegan Bacon & Cheddar Potato Soup, y u no photogenetic?
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    Ever since I first saw the adorably silly “proposal” commercial for Progresso’s Loaded Potato Soup With Bacon

    (You know which ad I’m talking about, yes? “What is that?” “That’s a big chunk of potato!” I would embed it, but it doesn’t yet seem to be available on the you tubes. Boo! Hiss! Boo!),

    I’ve been craving bacon potato soup like a mofo. Which is funny, ’cause I’ve never had it before – not even in my pre-vegan days. (So many of those processed soups contain milk, to which I’m allergic. Good times!) Anyway, I decided to modify the Creamy Potato -n- Corn “Spowder” recipe I so love, making it creamier and soupier (if that makes any sense), while also adding some vegan bacon …and cheddar cheese!

    I know, I know, Progresso’s version doesn’t have cheddar cheese, and this makes the dish so much more unhealthy, but I just couldn’t help myself! Plus I had a brick of cheddar Follow Your Heart that was set to expire, and surely this is a sufficient reason for adding cheese to yet another dish that doesn’t require it? Yes? No? Maybe?

    As you can probably imagine, this is one delicious dish! Kind of like liquefied cheddar mashed potatoes, with extra chunks of potatoes and greasy fried bacon for supercalifragilisticexpialidocious goodness. Next time I’ll try the loaded bacon potato soup, minus the cheddar. Hopefully I’ll even one-up Progresso, though that’ll be a hard one to judge since I’ll never taste the competition. (Or does vegan always win? Yeah, that sounds about right!)

    Bottoms up!

     
    Vegan Bacon & Cheddar Potato Soup

    Ingredients

    1 medium onion, chopped
    4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    6 medium white potatoes, divided
    2 cups plain soy milk + extra to taste
    2 cups water + extra to taste
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    4 tablespoons margarine
    5 ounces vegan cheddar cheese, shredded (1/2 package cheddar Follow Your Heart)
    5 ounces vegan bacon (1 package Lightlife Smart Bacon)

    Directions

    1. Wash and peel the potatoes. Set three aside for later. Cut the other three into quarters. Fill a medium saucepan three quarters full with water; bring to a boil on the stovetop. Toss in the quartered potatoes and cook on medium high for about fifteen minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and, in two batches, process them in a blender or food processor: blend one half of the potatoes, along with one cup of soy milk and one cup of water, until the “batter” is smooth and creamy. Repeat with the second half of the potatoes. Transfer back to the saucepan (or a large mixing bowl) and set aside.

    2. While the potatoes are boiling, slice the bacon into small, bite-sized strips. In a large skillet or frying pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil on medium-hot; once hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the bacon. Cook on medium for approximately ten minutes, or until the strips are brown and crispy, like so:

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    Stir frequently to keep them from burning! When done cooking, set aside.

    3. Peel the onion and dice it into small bits. In a large soup pot, heat two tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat; once hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the onions. Cook on medium for ten minutes or so, until the onions turn golden brown. Add the potato “batter” and continue to cook on medium.

    5. Dice the remaining potatoes into small, bite-sized pieces and set aside.

    6. Once the soup has heated up and started to bubble, add the margarine, spices and shredded cheese. Stir constantly so that the cheddar cheese and potatoes don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add extra water as needed.

    7. Once the cheese has melted, sample the soup; add any extra seasonings to taste. Toss in the rest of the potatoes and the bacon – grease and all! – and continue to cook on medium for about ten minutes, or until the potatoes are tender (to your liking). Serve hot!

    Optional: for crispier bacon, you can add it to the soup closer to the end of the cook time – or use some or all of it as a topping!

    (More below the fold…)

    Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup for the Animal Lover’s Soul

    Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

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    There’s a chill in the air and a nip at my nose, and we’re slowly coming to the point at which I can’t leave the house with wet hair lest I end up walking around with an icicle helmet on my head. Winter, must you come again so soon?

    The only upside to this cold weather that I can see – sweat pants and baggy sweaters excepted – is hot soup and hotter chocolate. Let’s concentrate on the soup today, mkay? This one’s a vegan version of the perennial classic, Chicken Noodle. I’ve been fantasizing about it ever since VegNews published a version on its blog a few months back. (Or at least I thought I saw one over there; I can’t seem to find it now. Brain freeze, I think it came early this year!)

    This recipe is pretty standard; I found similar versions on Chow Vegan, Choose Veg and The Vegetarian Times, and tweaked them to my own fussy liking. Even though I loathe the stuff, I left celery in the recipe, because chances are that you dig it. But my protest, I’m registering it. I WOULD RATHER BE SHOT IN THE FACE THAN EAT THIS STUPID FOOD.

    The celery, I mean. The Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup? Warms the soul, baby (yours and the chicken’s!).

     
    Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup for the Animal Lover’s Soul

    Ingredients

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 onion, finely diced
    1 medium leek, white and a little of the green part, sliced into 1/8″ thick rounds
    2 or 3 carrots, sliced into 1/8″ thick rounds
    2 celery stalks, sliced (optional; I HATE CELERY!)
    8 cups vegan chicken broth (either 8 cups of water mixed with the appropriate amount of vegan chicken base bouillon – chooseveg.com recommends Osem and Telma brands – or 8 cups premade liquid broth, e.g., Imagine Foods Organic No Chicken Broth)
    2 bay leaves
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    2 tablespoons parsley
    6 to 8 ounces of vegan chicken strips, diced (e.g., Gardein Chick’n Filets or Morningstar Farms Chik’n Strips)
    6 ounces dry fettuccine, broken into 2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
    salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onions and leeks and sauté until almost translucent. Add the carrots and celery and sauté for another five minutes, or until almost tender.

    2. Add the bouillon broth, onion powder, salt and pepper and bay leaves. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to medium and simmer for five minutes or so.

    3. Add the Gardein chick’n filets, parsley and noodles. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil a second time, then reduce the heat and let simmer for ten minutes, or until the noodles are tender.

    4. Serve warm, but remember to remove the bay leaves first!

    We forgot the soup crackers, but the impromptu garlic toast tasted even better. Happy accidents!
     

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    Cheddar Cheesy Garlic Biscuits and Potato & Corn Soup/Chowder

    Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

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    I’ve had my eye on these Cheddar Biscuits for quite some time – if my delicious account is any indication, last November! – and I honestly don’t know why I’ve waited for veganmofo to make them. I mean, it’s such a simple recipe! And so easy to veganize, with just a few substitutions! Okay, so maybe it’s a wee bit messy – but deliciously so. And cheesy, too. If you’re to know one thing about me, it’s that I LOVE MY (VEGAN) CHEESE!

    Interestingly enough, the best part of this recipe isn’t the cheese, but the garlic spread that goes on top. So tasty, y’all! I almost think that you could omit the cheese entirely and still produce a pretty tasty biscuit. I mean, Daiya is expensive, yo!

    Because sixteen fist-sized biscuits aren’t carbtastic enough, I served them alongside a steaming pot of potato soup-slash-chowder. Carbs dipped in carbs and loaded with more carbs. That’s how I roll, people.
     

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    Cheddar Cheesy Garlic Biscuits

    Ingredients

    2 cups of a vegan biscuit mix (e.g., Bisquick)
    1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
    1 to 2 cups of vegan cheddar cheese, shredded (I used 1 1/2 cups of Daiya)
    2/3 cup soy milk, plain
    2 tablespoons margarine
    2 teaspoons oregano
    1 teaspoon garlic salt

    Directions

    1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

    2. In a large bowl, combine the biscuit mix, garlic powder and cheddar cheese. Add the soy milk and mix until well blended. If the batter is too thick, you can add a little extra milk – but you don’t want it to get too sticky! Likewise, if the batter’s on the sticky side, toss in a little more biscuit mix.

    3. Drop balls of the dough onto a greased cookie sheet by the spoonful. Bake at 400 degrees F for ten minutes.

    4. As the biscuits are baking, melt the margarine and combine with the oregano and garlic salt. Remove the biscuits from the oven and brush the margarine mix on top of each biscuit.

    5. Bake for another five minutes, or until they’re lightly browned. Enjoy warm! Reheat in the toaster oven at 350 degrees for five minutes, or until warm.
     

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    "Spicy" Three Bean Soup,* Redux

    Monday, November 29th, 2010

    On Friday, I cooked up a massive, steaming pot of my all-time favorite soup – “Spicy” Three Bean Soup* – letting it simmer and marinate throughout the day, checking in occasionally during the start of my weekend-long CriFSMas decorating marathon. (Pictures of the deliciousness thus far!) After a long day spent cursing the x-mas tree lights (3 out of 4 strands were on the fritz, each dying in the exact same place – imagine that!), a warm bowl of comfort food was, well, comforting. Bonus: the dishes were the husband’s problem.

    Looking back on the original recipe – which I blogged almost three years ago to the day! – I realized what a frakking mess it is. Like, why on earth did I feel the need to write a novella-length backstory – in the body of the recipe itself? 2007 Kelly boggles 2010 Kelly’s mind. It’s no wonder I never make this soup the same way twice. No more! What follows is a cleaned-up version of the recipe, complete with suggested modifications listed separately at the end.

    Feel free to share your own, mkay?

    “Spicy” Three Bean Soup,* Redux

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    “Spicy” Three Bean Soup: with a deep red, tomato-vegetable broth, and lots of veggies chunks, including four types of beans, Italian cut green beans, white potatoes and carrots. In the background: a bag of extremely nom-worthy, store-bought VEGAN breadsticks. Now that I’m hooked, it’ll be a few short months before they add whey or honey, just you wait and see!
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    (More below the fold…)

    Pizza Soup! (Take 1)

    Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

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    Close on the heels of my Loaded Canadian Pizza Style Baked Potatoes, I decided to try something similar with soup. In other words, Pizza Soup! (I’m all about pizza lately!) Initially I considered cannibalizing a few of the many tomato, minestrone and/or pizza-esque soup recipes available on the intewebs, but Google turned up so many results that my head near e’sploded. Instead, I used my favorite, tried and true soup recipe – “Spicy” Three Bean Soup – as a jumping-off point (mainly for the base), incorporating some elements from the baked ‘taters into the mix (i.e., the fried tomatoes, mushrooms and olives).

    All in all, this is a rather decent dish that could – imho – use some refining. (Trial and error, baby!) This particular concoction is, believe it or not, a little too tomato-y for my tastes; next time around, I think I’ll omit the sundried tomatoes altogether. Also, because I made this while Shane was in the midst of a liquid diet (he’d had a root canal a few days prior), I decided to run the canned tomatoes, mushrooms and olives through a food processor and stay away from mixed veggies altogether. Yay on the former, nay on the latter. Take 2 will have a cup of carrots, methinks. Finally: more orzo. At least two cups, maybe three.

    Oh, and come to think of it, maybe I’ll fry up the Smart Pepperoni with the tomato/mushroom/olive mixture. My thinking was that I’d prefer it be crispy, so I should add it last, as a garnish; but unless you eat it asap, it sogs up anyway. Probably it makes a better seasoning than a decoration. Thoughts?

    Pizza Soup, Take 1

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    Ingredients

    4 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons minced garlic
    3 ounces canned black olives
    4 ounces canned mushrooms
    14 ounces canned tomatoes

    46 fl. oz. vegetable juice
    3 cups vegetable bouillon
    3 cups water
    6 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons minced garlic
    1 cup sundried tomatoes, diced
    2 tablespoons brown sugar
    1 tablespoon parsley
    2 teaspoons garlic powder
    3.5 teaspoons basil
    2 teaspoons oregano
    1 cup small pasta (e.g., orzo)
    3/4 cup mozzarella Follow Your Heart (or the vegan cheese of your choice; OPTIONAL: omit the cheese and use nutritional yeast instead!)

    Lightlife Smart Pepperoni or Smart Bacon to garnish

    (More below the fold…)