G is for Gnocchi

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

G is for Gnocchi [Betty Goes Vegan] (0005)

Unlike pierogies, vegan gnocchi is super-easy to find in regular grocery stores, and so I’ve never been tempted to try making it myself. That is, until this whole alphabet thing came into my kitchen. What else to make for the letter G than one of my favorite carb delivery systems?

As it turns out, this experiment? Totally confirmed my suspicions. Gnocchi is a food better bought than made. As per usual, it was the blending of the baked potatoes that proved the most trouble; by the time I was done, blobs of mashed potatoes covered one whole side of my kitchen, and I was ready to retreat to my soft, comfy bed for a nap. According to the directions – I made the Whole Wheat Gnocchi from Betty Goes Vegan – I was to blend the potatoes until “soft and fluffy.” Instead, mine turned into a giant, gooey blob, the likes of which you’re apt to see in the cheesiest of ’70s B movies. (I suspect I left them to cool too long; you’re supposed to blend them while still hot.)

At this point I was rather skeptical that I could ever transform this monster dough into something edible but alas, I powered through and ended up with a batch of gnocchi that may be lacking in the looks department, but is pretty tasty nonetheless.

G is for Gnocchi [Betty Goes Vegan] (0002)

Gnocchi-in-progress.
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They’re not the prettiest things, but hey. It’s only my first time, right? I vacillated between making shell and cornucopia shapes (most of which came to resemble vulvas), and while it took me awhile to work through all the dough, the process went much faster once I got the hang of it. Supposedly the recipe only makes two servings, but we ended up with five hearty bowls full, at least. With sides, this could easily serve six to eight people. I counted the gnocchi as I boiled them – twenty at a time, in a large stock pot – and there were 128 total. Big ones, too!

Annie recommends topping them with basil, but I opted for homemade marinara sauce, owing to the abundance of tomatoes in my garden. I mostly winged it, but the final concoction was rather similar to this Greek-Style sauce.

Stick-to-your-ribs good, though next time around I’ll mostly likely get my gnocchi from a bag.

 
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F is for French Bread Bruschetta Pizza

Friday, September 6th, 2013

F is for French Bread Bruschetta Pizza (0009)

Really you can make this recipe using any loaf of fresh bread, but hey! I needed an F, so French bread it is.

This is a dish I make with some frequency in the summer months. Bruschetta is an excellent way to use up a bunch of tomatoes in one fell swoop; doubly so when you load it up on a pizza! Homemade dough, pita bread, store-bought bread – doesn’t matter. I’m like MacGyver, yo; I can make a pizza out of anything.

This time around, I used Trader Joe’s Mozzarella-Style Shreds instead of my standard Daiya or Follow Your Heart. Shane and I happened to take a trip south of the city last month, and we hit up not one but two Trader Joe’s stores: one on the Kansas side of the border, the other in MO. It was my first visit, and I was not at all impressed: both stores are on the small side, rather unorganized (with product shoved haphazardly over the – open! gasp! – freezer cases), and not very vegan friendly. As far as we could tell, the Kansas store doesn’t even stock any vegan meats or cheeses! The Missouri store is slightly bigger, but its vegan meat/cheese section is maybe two feet wide. (Compare this to the wine section, which occupies at least 1/5 of the entire floor space.) Neither store had a single vegan pizza on the shelf. Ahem.

In addition to their famed soy ice cream (which both stores had in stock, yay!), I had hoped to pick up some whole wheat pastry flour and TVP chunks – both of which I struck out on. But when I stumbled upon the mozzarella shreds, I decided to give ’em a try. The vegans on tumblr seem to love them.

My thoughts? Meh. They taste okay and melt quite well, but stick to the roof of your mouth like crazy (not to mention my stupid Invisalign attachments!). I prefer the taste of Daiya and Follow Your Heart, though I do appreciate TJ’s ready meltability. It’s something I might buy again, if I ever find myself in another Trader Joe’s. So, not very likely.

 

F is for French Bread Bruschetta Pizza (0002)

 

French Bread Bruschetta Pizza

Makes three to four servings.

Ingredients

4 cups tomatoes, finely diced
4 tablespoons diced marinated sun-dried tomatoes (optional but tasty)
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil (OR 1 teaspoon dried basil)
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 loaf French bread
margarine
vegan mozzarella cheese

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Cover and chill for an hour or more.

2. When you’re ready to make the pizzas, preheat the oven to 425F.

3. Cut the French bread into three or four sections (depending on its length). Next, slice each section in half lengthwise, as if you were making a sub. Spread a bit of margarine on the top of each piece of bread; just how much you’ll use depends on the thickness of the bread. You want to use enough margarine to lend a little extra moisture to the pizza, but not so much that it’ll soak through to the bottom of the bread and weaken the integrity of the pizza. If you’ve ever made garlic bread using margarine, you should have a good idea how much is appropriate for the task at hand.

4. Spoon the bruschetta onto the bread. Start with the solids (tomatoes and garlic) and, when done, drizzle a bit of juice on top. You should have enough bruschetta to cover a loaf of French bread, but you may have some leftovers, depending on how heavy your hand. Top with a bit of vegan mozzarella cheese.

5. Transfer the bread onto a baking stone or baking sheet (lightly coated with cooking spray). Bake at 425F for ten to fifteen minutes, or until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese, warm and bubbly. Enjoy immediately.

 
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E is for Eggplant Fries

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

E is for Eggplant Fries [Vegan Comfort Food] (0008)

When I first spotted this recipe in Vegan Comfort Food, it immediately brought to mind the Baked Zucchini Sticks I got hooked on last summer. Sadly, I did not plant zucchini in my garden this year, and thus spent the summer mostly vegetable fry-less.

Enter: Alicia Simpson and her amazing Eggplant Fries. These babies are coated in a mix of white flour, Old Bay seasoning, and black pepper and oven-baked to crispy (on the outside)-soft (on the inside) perfection. One problem I had with the Zucchini Sticks was getting the batter to stick – but the finer granules in this batter made the whole issue moot. It sticks like gangbusters! Still, I bet a little nooch would take them to the next level.

At first I worried that I’d cut some of the fries too thick, but it just so happened that these were my favorites of the bunch. The eggplant dries out a bit as it bakes, and the thinnest fries shriveled up to almost nothing. The fat ones, on the other hand, were just about perfect…meaty like steak fries, but way healthier.

I couldn’t decide between photographing these in a diner-style french fry basket (classic!) or on my Halloween kid’s plate (it’s purple, like eggplants!), so I did both. Which one works better, do you think?

E is for Eggplant Fries [Vegan Comfort Food] (0012)

 
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D is for Doughnuts, Mini Pumpkin Spice

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

D is for Mini Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts [Betty Goes Vegan] (0002)

Originally I was going to blog about the Dollar Tree for the letter D (You can special order cases of soy milk online! Even if your store doesn’t carry the stuff! It’s true!) – and then Shane suggested the obvious: donuts. Or doughnuts, if you prefer. I should probably use the latter spelling, since that’s how Annie Shannon rolls – and it’s her recipe featured here today.

Betty Goes Vegan includes no fewer than eight doughnut recipes – thirteen if you count churros, fritters, and turnovers. (And why not? The famed Ronald’s Donuts in Las Vegas sells turnovers, and that’s good enough for me.) In an uncharacteristic effort to keep it seasonal, I chose the Mini Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts (but only because I didn’t have the Betty Crocker Praline Crunch ice cream topping required for the Baby Bluths). My first foray into the art of doughnut making wasn’t the rousing success I’d hoped for – but neither was it a total loss.

My first clue that something was amiss was when I ended up with waaaay more batter than needed to make just two dozen mini doughnuts. Probably I could have made at least 48, but after the first two batches I threw in the Ove Glove and turned the leftover batter into thinnish cupcakes (about the same size as the mini-doughnuts, but minus the hole in the middle!). It wouldn’t have been so bad if I had bought two mini-doughnut pans (WHY DIDN’T I BUY TWO MINI-DOUGHNUT PANS?!?), but as it was I could only bake a dozen doughnuts at a time. Two rounds of that and I was fried.

(More below the fold…)

C is for Cheesy Fries

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

C is for Cheesy Fries (0002)

Vegan comfort food at its trashiest! This is a really simple, super-delicious dish that Shane I binged on entirely too often in May. (Not to be a killjoy, but this happened.) Basically it’s just frozen fries baked in the oven (deep frying would be too much, even for me!) and smothered in a mozzarella Daiya cheese sauce. I don’t know why, but I vastly prefer mozzarella to cheddar for french fry asphyxiation purposes. If you’d rather swap it out for cheddar (or pepperjack, or whatever floats your boat), that’s cool. I won’t judge.

The cheese sauce recipe makes enough cheese to cover two heaping plates of fries. If you have some extras, better still. It’s easily reheated in the microwave and takes great on nachos, pasta, hash browns – or more french fries. Assuming you’re not still hung over from the first batch.

 

Cheesy Fries

Ingredients

Frozen french fries (enough to fill a baking sheet measuring 10″x15″)
8 ounces (1 bag) mozzarella Daiya cheese shreds
13 oz soy milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
4 oz margarine

Directions

1. Cook the french fries according to the instructions on the package.

2. While the fries are baking, prepare the cheese sauce. In a saucepan, bring the soy milk up to a boil, stirring often and being careful not to scorch the soy milk on the bottom. Once at a boil mix in the margarine, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the margarine is mixed in well, stir in the nutritional yeast until totally blended. Then mix in the cheese shreds, keeping the heat on high. Once the cheese is blended enough for taste, bring the heat down to simmer, stirring occasionally to keep it smooth and creamy. Serve hot on fries (or nachos, pasta, sandwiches, hash browns, whatever).

 

C is for Cheesy Fries (0004)

 
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B is for “Bow Ties Are Cool” Greek-Style Bow Tie Pasta

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

B is for 'Bow Ties Are Cool' Greek-Style Bow Tie Pasta (0003)

 

I know, I know! Two Doctor Who references in two days – what is this, a Whovian VeganMoFo? Actually, that sounds pretty awesome, but I’m afraid not. Next year, maybe?

So this is a pasta dish that I’ve been meaning to try for months now, and VeganMoFo gave me a pretty handy excuse. I absolutely adore the combination of garlic, lemon, tomatoes, red peppers (roasted! is there any other kind?), Kalamata olives, and spinach, so much so that I put them on all the things; see, for example, my Greek-tyle couscous, pizza, and potato recipes. The spinach in this one is chopped into small bits, on accounta wilted spinach leaves give me the heebie jeebies. But if you’d rather leave them intact, just add ’em to the veggies at the end and cook for several minutes.

Of course you can serve this on top of any shape pasta your heart desires: gemelli, rigatoni, elbows, shells. But bow ties?

 


 

“Bow Ties Are Cool” Greek-Style Pasta

Ingredients

16 ounces bow-tie pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced into halves
4 ounces spinach, fresh
2 roasted red peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces (if home roasted, include the oily juices!)
1/2 to 1 cup Kalamata olives, depending on how much you like Kalamata olives (I LOVE THEM!), pitted and halved
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (dehydrated, not those packed in oil)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon peel
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions

1. In a food processor, process the spinach until paste-like. Set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook on medium for several minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant and lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook for another five minutes. Add the spinach, roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, lemon juice, lemon peel, and salt and pepper and continue to cook on medium, stirring well. Once the tomatoes have started to become tender, cover and simmer on medium.

3. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

4. When done, toss the pasta with the veggies and parsley. Serve warm!

 

B is for 'Bow Ties Are Cool' Greek-Style Bow Tie Pasta (0004)

 
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A is for Apple Pie Ice Cream

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

It’s that time again, folks: VeganMoFo, where vegans (and the veg-curious) the world over gather to drool over their favorite foods. This year I’m doing an alphabet theme, Vegan A to Z, where I try to hit all 26 letters of the alphabet while cooking/baking/eating my butt off. Let’s kick things off with – you guessed it – the letter A!

A is for Apples! In this case: Apple Pie Ice Cream. Made with frozen bananas, so no ice cream machine required!

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Always start with ice cream, and Always take a banana to a party.

In all seriousness, this dessert is as tasty as it is healthy. Basically you start with a half a batch of my apple pie insides, and blend them with a few frozen bananas. It’s that easy!

 

A is for Apple Pie Ice Cream (0010)

 

Apple Pie Ice Cream

(Makes about a quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
brown sugar or another vegan sweetener, if needed
a splash of nondairy milk or creamer, if needed

3 medium-sized apples, cut into slices 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 vanilla bean (or a teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a dash of allspice
2 tablespoons margarine, cut into small pieces

Directions

1. Begin by preparing the apples. Preheat the oven to 400F. After you’ve cleaned and peeled the apples, cut them into slices about 1/4″ thick. Consistency is more important than the size; try to cut them as evenly as possible so that they bake at the same rate. The thicker the slices, of course, the longer the bake time!

2. In a medium sized bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice; mix well.

3. Transfer the apples to a small baking dish. Dot with the margarine. Bake, uncovered at 400F for about 45 minutes, or until the apples are soft and tender. Stir halfway through so that all the apples bake evenly.

4. When done, allow the apples to cool. Transfer the apples (and their juices!) to an airtight container and refrigerate for 6-8 hours or until cold. You can make and store the apples up to a day before blending the ice cream.

5. To make the ice cream: Put the apples in the food process and pulse until chunky.

Tip: If you’d like your ice cream chunky, set a few apples slices aside. Cut them into smaller pieces and mix them into the ice cream at step #8.

6. Add the (frozen) bananas iand pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead. The juices from the apples should help in this regards.

7. Sample the batter and add a bit of sugar or other spices if desired.

8. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

 

A is for Apple Pie Ice Cream [with granola] (0006)

Doubly amazing when topped with fresh apples, cinnamon, and a handful of Apple Cinnamon Granola.
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VeganMoFo VII: Vegan A to Z!

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Vegan A to Z - The VeganMoFo 2013 Book Pile (0009)

Behold! The VeganMoFo VII book pile!
Guarded by a stuffed mini-Ralphie, who will be with us in spirit.
Ditto Kaylee, though I’ve yet to find a stuffed animal that resembles my lumpy little girl.
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Happy VeganMoFo, ya’ll! This is the month that vegans the internets over gather to discuss and share all things food-related: Recipes. Cookbooks. Tips and techniques. Favorite websites. And most of all: hundreds (thousands?) of gorgeous, melt-in-your-mouth, so-good-you-can-almost-taste-it food photos. Not like we need a special month, but hey. It’s nice to be on the same page for a few weeks, innit?

Because I got hooked on the theme thing last year (Eat to the Beat! Remember me?), I decided to do that same in 2013. Not the same theme, just a theme. I rilly rilly rilly wanted to do a month’s worth of foods found in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, but had to shelve the idea due to lack of time and energy. (Regular readers might remember that I lost my two eldest dogs, Ralphie and Kaylee, back in May – a mere twelve days apart. Not to be a bummer, but I’m still recovering.) But hey, there’s always 2014, right? On the bright side, that’ll give me time to reread the series and hopefully come up with a few more menu ideas. At last count I was still four posts shy of a full month.

So instead of HDM, an alphabet theme! As I understand it, it’s customary to pick an ingredient for each letter of the alphabet and then cook a dish that includes it, preferably in a prominent position (A for apples, B for blueberries, etc.). Because I play fast and loose with the rules, I won’t be quite as strict as this. Mostly the letters will correspond to the recipe’s title, but not always. (This is what they in the biz call a “teaser”!) Living dangerously, this is how you do it.

The goal for the month is to work through all 26 letters of the alphabet (Sundays are reserved for Iron Chef – assuming it isn’t too difficult! *fingers crossed*), while trying all new-to-me recipes. A few are Kelly G. originals, but most come from cookbooks – in this case:

  • Betty Goes Vegan: 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Family by Annie and Dan Shannon (2013)
  • Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food: 150 Down-Home Recipes Packed with Flavor, Not Calories by Alicia C. Simpson (2012)
  • The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain…and Beyond by Mark Reinfeld (2012)
  • Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For–From Asparagus Omelets to Pumpkin Pancakes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (2009)
  • Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (2007)
  • Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson (2010)
  • The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook by Robin Robertson (2002)
  • Chloe’s Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way by Chloe Coscarelli (2012)
  • The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur: Over 140 Simply Delicious Recipes That Treat the Eyes and Taste Buds by Kelly Peloza (2010)

    If this looks like a ridiculously ambitious book pile, you’re right. Truth be told, most of the menu will come from Betty Goes Vegan and Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food, with the other cookbooks contributing a recipe or two each. Not because they aren’t awesome; Betty Goes Vegan and Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food are just my two newest acquisitions, so it makes sense.

    Let the feeding frenzy begin!

     
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  • VeganMoFo 2013 Sneak Preview

    Thursday, August 8th, 2013

    2013-08-07 - VeganMoFo Sneak Preview - 0010

    Sign-up began yesterday, but I started working on my theme weeks ago.

    On this plate: the Classic Deli Potato Salad from Betty Goes Vegan, along with Eggplant Fries and Baked Hush Puppies from Vegan Comfort Food. A weird combination, but it works. Three letters down, just 23 to go!