Monday, October 3, 2011

CSA Cooking: Acorn Sqush Mac-n-Cheez

I confess: I was checking my Twitter feed in the middle of Biostatistics class today. Thanks to my short in-class attention span, I discovered a great recipe via Oh She Glows for squash mac-n-cheez. I'd roasted up a bunch of our CSA veggies last night, including some acorn squash. After scooping out the roasted squash flesh, this recipe came together quite quickly. Because we're always looking for healthier versions of favorite dishes, this delicious and nutritious pasta was a winner. 

I followed the original recipe, only deviating by adding a little red miso to the sauce and some petite peas.

of course that's broccoli in the background.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

CSA Cooking: Red Pepper Upside Down Cake

Vegan MoFo, we meet again! My theme for this year's MoFo is going to be cooking with the local, organic produce from my Maryland CSA. Today's post is brought to you by yesterday's cake. I was attending a "pepper" themed potluck and wanted to bring a dish that departed from your typical savory pepper fare. Enter: upside down cake. I can't take credit for the idea, but I'm the one who made it vegan. This recipe is sure to impress.

The original recipe is from, ironically, No Recipes. Instead of making a corn-based cake of masa harina like No Recipes, I used cornbread. The very best cornbread I've found is Trader Joe's corn bread mix, subbing nut milk and flax instead of the milk/eggs. Use any cornbread recipe you like, just add extra sugar and a bit of vanilla.

Vegan Pepper Upside-Down Cake
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 1/2 tsp saffron
  • 1 T water
  • 4 T Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Your favorite corn bread recipe + 1/4 cup sugar + 1 tsp vanilla extract
Remove the tops of the peppers and slice into quarters lengthwise after removing seeds and white membranes. Place on a baking sheet with skin side up. Broil on high until charred and almost completely black.  Remove from oven and place in sealed plastic bag. The steam will help loosen the skins as they cool. Once cool, peel the skins from the pepper strips.

Preheat oven according to your cornbread recipe. Place water and saffron in a small bowl; let rest. 
Slice pepper strips into thin triangles. Grease the bottom of a 9" pan and arrange the strips in a radial pattern.

Warm Earth Balance on stove at medium heat until melted. Add brown sugar and cinnamon, stir until sugar is completely melted. Pour caramel mixture over the pepper strips.

For the cornbread: make per your recipe's instructions. Remember to add your extra sugar, vanilla, AND the saffron/water mixture. The saffron supplies a very unique and lovely flavor. Pour the cornbread batter over the peppers/caramel, and smooth the top. 

Bake per cornbread instructions. After removing from oven, allow to cool enough to touch, then flip onto a plate. Voila! 

Friday, August 19, 2011

CSA Cooking: Roasted Tomato Chickie Pea Soup

My CSA has been generous with the tomatoes lately. I have more than I need for TLT's and salads. Growing up in a home of surplus tomatoes (my mom runs a seed company: Tomato Growers,) I learned some creative ways to deal with the abundance. I figured I'd roast some with other good stuff: onions, garlic, and herbs from the CSA. What could be bad? I also soaked and slow cooked some chickpeas until quite soft. The result of all these endeavors is this savory soup with some added protein, thanks to the chickie peas.

Roasted Tomato Chickie Pea Soup

  • About 4 large tomatoes, roughly diced
  • Medium onion, sliced into half moons
  • A few cloves garlic, minced
  • Herbs of your choice, fresh is best (oregano, basil, rosemary, etc.)
  • Sprinkle of kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup soft-cooked chickpeas, or just canned peas drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup broth
Preheat oven to 425. Line a roasting pan with foil, and layer in the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and herbs. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Roast at 425 until the tomatoes have released their juice and onions are very soft.

Let cool a bit, and then place roasted mixture in blender with chickpeas and broth. Blend until well combined and at your desired texture. 

Warm on stove in a saucepan, and serve with cracked black pepper. 

Serves 4. Nutritional info: 113 calories, 23 g carbs, 4.5 g fiber, 0.5 g sugar, 4.5 g protein.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

CSA Cooking: Eggplant Tomato Casserole Remix

I have a soft spot for those yellow-paged old 1970's vegetarian cookbooks. One of my favorites is The Vegetarian Epicure, given to me by my wonderful Aunt Susan (with the inscription "Bon Appetit! -Susan.") The book includes a recipe for Eggplant Tomato Casserole that was always good for using up the summer surplus. The original version keeps the eggplant fluffy with eggs and tops it off with cheese. My mom and I have talked about veganizing this recipe but never got around to it. Here's my go at it.

1 large eggplant
1.5 tsp salt
3/4 block firm silken tofu
1 T Ener-G (flax would probably work too) + 2 T water, combined
1/3 cup finely diced onion
2/3 cup bread crumbs
2-3 large tomatoes, sliced thinly
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
* smoked salt
* nutritional yeast
*= Optional but worth it. Trader Joe's just released a very affordable grinder of smoked salt that is quite good.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Peel and dice the eggplant into 1" cubes. Dice tofu into chunks about the same size. Place in a sauce pan,  add 1" water, sprinkle with salt, cover tightly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 10 mins.

Drain the tofu and eggplant. In a bowl, mash with a fork or potato masher. Stir in bread crumbs, onion, "egg replacer" mix, oregano, smoked salt to taste.

Prepare a deep dish pie plate or 8x8 baking dish by giving a quick coat of spray oil. Lay half the tomatoes in a single layer in the bottom of the dish. Spread eggplant mixture over tomatoes, then top with the remaining tomato slices. Sprinkle some smoked salt and nutritional yeast over the top. Bake for 45 mins. Allow to set at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.

Your friendly nutritional breakdown for 4 servings: 76 calories, Carbs = 8.3 g, Protein = 7.3 g, Fat = 2.2 g

Sunday, July 10, 2011

CSA Cooking: Fava Bean Piccata

Fava beans, made famous by a very non-vegan movie quote:  "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti." I've never eaten fava beans but always enjoy the big-beaned meatiness of butter beans, another sizeable legume. I recently bought some dry fava beans in hopes of making The PPK's Lemon Garlic Fava Beans This week the CSA brought some gorgeous red onions, and I had zucchini and garlic scapes still around from last week. I'm a big fan of the PPK chickpea piccata, and this recipe is quite similar. 

The only substitutions were a large zucchini diced into half moons instead of the mushrooms and sliced scapes instead of green onions for garnish. We ate this with some crusty farmers' market bread after a long day of tubing on the Gunpowder River. I think the leftovers are even better today. 

Lazy River, Maryland.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

General Tso's Got a Brand New Bag

I don't know who General Tso was, but I'm a fan of his tofu. The spicier, the better. What I don't like is when my beloved spicy-sweet dish comes with these grease-logged sponges of tofu. Here's my version, using a method of oil-free, dry frying the tofu that I learned from Vegan YumYum. The sauce recipe is from VegWeb and is one of the top recipes on their sites. I served this over quinoa that had been cooked with a touch of tamari and lots of steamed broccoli.

General Tso's Non-Greasy Tofu
serves 4
  • 1 block firm or extra firm tofu
  • several scallions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 2 table spoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • scant 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sherry, optional
  • 1 to 2 tsp crushed red pepper, depending on your thermostat
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch + 1/4 cup water, combined
Geometry time: Cut the block of tofu into 8 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle into two squares. Cut the squares into two triangles.

Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Needs to be at least ten inches across to fit all the tofu. Lay the tofu on the hot skillet, and depress with a strong spatula. Water will be released and will "dry fry" your tofu. When side one is golden, flip to side two. Repeat.

When tofu is done, set aside on a plate. In the same skillet, reduce heat to low and add scallions, ginger, and garlic with 1 tablespoon of water. Stir so that nothing burns and let cook for 2-3 mins. In the mean time, combine the remaining ingredients in a measuring cup (except for the cornstarch mixture.) Add liquid to the skillet, increase heat to high. Add the tofu and allow to slightly reduce. 

Add cornstarch/water mixture, stir to combine. It should begin to thicken and look glossy. Turn off heat, let set for a moment. Serve tofu and sauce over your grain and broccoli.

...and thanks to Kevin for--once again--helping me get the shot. You may be a nursing whiz kid now, but you're photo skillz aren't forgotten. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Where do you get your protein?

From my muffins, of course!

If I had a nickel for every time I've been asked this, I'd still want to pull my hair out. Since becoming vegan, I've become much more focused on nutrition and have done a lot of research on clean eating. Even experts disagree on how much protein you need. Some say you should calculate your weight in kilograms (2.2 lbs per kg) and eat 1 gram protein for each kilogram of body weight. I'm of a slightly different camp. Having completed a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell via Dr. Campbell's program, I really don't think we need so much protein. If you divide your body weight in pounds by three, you should eat that many grams of protein.

For example, if you weight 150 lbs, you should eat 50 grams of protein daily.

I spent a couple weeks tracking my protein intake with a handy iPhone app. Despite avoiding animal products  I'm somehow (shockingly!) getting more than enough protein. (Also of note: we don't eat processed, protein-heavy, "mock meat" products.) These scrumptious little muffins are one of my favorite protein-friendly baked goods. I have adapted my own recipe from Bittersweet Vegan. My version is a bit lower fat, since I'm also of the opinion that we really don't need so many lipids in our lives. This is a good breakfast recipe, very nutritionally dense and not overly sweet.

Quinoa Spice Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour 
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy/almond milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, optional (if you like sweeter muffins)
  • 1 cup berries (blueberries, or rehydrated dried fruit like cherries or cranberries)
  • Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease muffin pan or 12 muffin cups.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  • In a separate smaller bowl, combine the wet ingredients and stir to well combined.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the large bowl of dry ingredients, and stir until just combined. I recommend tasting before adding the brown sugar to assess whether you want this recipe sweeter or not.
  • Scoop into prepared muffin vessels.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. They're done when a toothpick inserted to the center is dry.

Notes: You can certainly add other nuts, like 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans. 

Bonus! I plugged this in for a nutritional breakdown of each muffin: 167 calories, 5 grams protein, 35 grams carbohydrate, 4.3 grams fiber