21 June 2014

Collard rolls

We had something pretty similar to these during our Puravegan cleanse.  After buying some collards on a whim today at Local Harvest, I developed a craving for these tasty collard rolls.

After blanching them for 10-20 seconds each, I cut out the thickest part of the stalks. 
While I did not follow a recipe, I did some googling for advice on how to best roll these.  The answer was one I would not have thought of on my own: use TWO collards per roll and overlap them!

I just winged it on the filling.  I threw some radishes and carrots in the vitamix and tossed them with some kale, cashew cheese, hemp seeds, braggs, and vegetarian fish sauce.  Pretty good, but I think I should have added some acid.  You could put anything you wanted in these really.
Then I wanted to get rid of a half cucumber I had laying around, so I peeled it and sliced it and threw it in.  Fold in the sides first, and then roll just like you would a spring roll or burrito, making sure to tuck in the filling as you go so that the roll ends up nice and tight.

05 May 2014

Cinco de Mayo tacos

Smoked shitake mushrooms, baby kale, chipotle salsa, cucumbersPanko encrusted tofu, pickled red cabbage, cucumbers

After pressing liquid from tofu, season with salt, cayenne, and coriander
Spread mayonaise (or veganaise) all over tofu, then toss in panko breadcrumbs. 

Bake the tofu at 350 for 20 mins per side, or until browned on both sides

Saute mushrooms until all liquid is released.  Salt lightly and sprinkle with a little bit of Wrights liquid smoke.

Easter Feast

Easter is the only holiday I'm "allowed" to host since I don't want meat in my house or on my dishes.  I think my family fared pretty well with this meatless meal if I do say so myself.
From left to right:
Lidia's Ligurian Potato Salad - This time with lots of extra parsley and horseradish pickles!
Roasted Asparagus
Cousins Quiche from Sweet Art, a vegetarian bakery by my house.  Red onion, green onion, leek
Curried Carrot Salad - with lots and lots of mint from the garden!
Red quinoa, fresh peas, tomatoes, basil, garlic, red wine vinegar and olive oil

26 March 2014

3 Day cleanse

I've always thought cleanses were kind of stupid.  But after a decadent couple of months, and a few extra lbs, I was craving a way to just reset myself.  To get hold of the reigns again.  I knew that this local restaurant Puravegan offered cleanse packages ranging from all 2-5 days, all liquid to some liquid, and all of a sudden, it seemed manageable and even desirable.  
For first time cleansers, they recommend phase 1, which is 3 days, and consists of 1 juice, 1 smoothie, and 1 raw food meal.  All juices and smoothies come pre-made in mason jars, and the dinners in to-go containers.  Everything was incredibly tasty.  These people know their way around a smoothie!
When you pick up your cleanse from the restaurant, they sit down and explain the hows and whys of everything.  This is a nutrient dense program, and not particularly low-calorie.  The idea of the juice and smoothie is to give your body a chance to heal itself rather than using all its energy on digestion.  And it is designed to make your body more alkaline.  I don't know what that means exactly, but I know it is preferable to an acidic body.  
kale collard wrap with sprouted quinoa and cashew almond spread
The other benefit to the cleanse is that you rebuild your relationship with food.  This was the biggie for me.  99% of the time I eat really really healthfully.  But I also think about food constantly, and often go back for seconds, and when I do add up my calories from food and cocktails, it is far more than I need to be consuming.
carrot and walnut tacos in a cabbage shell
 Could I make by own juice and smoothies?  Sure, but I would end up making them twice as big and would not know when to stop.  The advantage of having them pre-made is that when it is gone, it is gone.  No more til the next meal.  This was kind of a major revelation for me.  I realized that I haven't been truly hungry in years.  I LOVE eating, love it, but I looked forward to these meals like a kid looks forward to a birthday party.  They tasted amazing, and I relished every bite.  And because I wanted it to last as long as possible, I took the time to savor and CHEW them completely!

sweet potato curry pasta
I had my concerns about having enough calories to get through my 2 hour a day workouts, but honestly, it was a non-issue.  I usually burn about 600 calories at the gym.  It is not like I'm an ultra-marathoner or something.  This cleanse provided plenty.  

They say to supplement your dinner with extra raw veggies if you want to.  I did have some pepper strips with the wrap, and snap peas with the tacos, but I didn't need them.  It was just psychological.  I also broke the rules and had some clementines between lunch and dinner.  Not a mortal sin, but so much for the digestion break!

We're going to do this cleanse once a month!  Next time I think I will be able to really own it, and not worry so much about my fear of hunger.  The first night when I went to bed, I felt sorry for myself, but then my mind went to people who are literally  starving all the time.  You feel like an asshole for even thinking you know what it means to be hungry and you get over it.  

10 March 2014

Hearty Seitan Stew

My mom often made lamb stew when I was a kid.  I don't remember it being super flavorful, as is often the way with traditional Irish food, but I enjoyed its reliability and variety of textures.  

I've made stews before but this one is a definite improvement on my previous attempts.  Once again, I was snowed in and craving this wintery dish.  And since I am a grocery-shop-aholic, I had everything I needed to make this recipe.  Here is that recipe complete with my own tweaks.  Instead of putting potatoes in the stew, I boiled little ones whole and served them on the side.

1 lb. seitan, cut into bite sized chunks (recipe calls for homemade, but I didn't have THAT much time!)
2 Tbs. oil (I used sunflower)
3/4 cup flour

Put the flour into a bag, dump in the seitan chunks and give it all a good shake.
In a deep pot, bring the olive oil to frying temperature
Brown the seitan until it resembles beef that's been lightly fried

Turn off the heat and add to the pot:
4 large carrots, cut into 3/4" pieces
4 stalks celery, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 large celery root, cut into 3/4" pieces
1 large onion, sliced thin so it will nearly disintegrate into the gravy this recipe automatically produces
2 small bay leaves or 1 large one
1 garlic clove, minced

In a large measuring cup place:
1 1/2 cups of hot broth, vegetable or no-beef broth
1 tsp. Annie's Worcestershire sauce (vegetarian)
1 Tbs. Kitchen Bouquet (in the spice aisle and vegan; it adds a great beefy taste)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
Pinch of ground cloves (don't leave this out; it's what gives this stew it's extraordinary taste)
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of hearty red wine (I use Burgundy)

Stir the liquid to distribute everything evenly, then pour it over the seitan and vegetables. Cover the pot and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until the vegetables are fork tender.

It would be filling even without the potatoes on the side.  And without potatoes, you can feel ok about serving it with some awesome bread to sop up the delicious sauce.

Brussels Sprout Pizza

In November we took a vacation to NYC with our only two goals being 1) see friends and 2) eat lots of delicious things.  On our very first night in town, our friends suggested a pizza place that just happened to be across the street from our hotel.  One cannot go to New York and not eat pizza, so why not do it right away!  The great thing is that this was Neapolitan pizza, which is delicious, and not New York pizza, which is flavorless and floppy.  If you are in Brooklyn, check out this place Sottocasa.  You will not be dissappointed!  This is my take on their "Autunno" pizza, only mine is on whole wheat, no speck, and probably way less cheese.  Smoked mozzerella and brussels sprouts is a combination I recommend highly.  Sorry for the crappy picture.

English Muffin Bread

Sometimes when I'm snowed in, I have to spend the entire day cooking so I don't lose my mind with the boredom.  It is not that I don't have plenty of things that need doing around the house, but cooking is my way of blowing those off!  Cooking is the the brighter side of my "dark playground" Breads and soups are staples of the housebound menu because they don't involve going to the store if you keep a decently stocked kitchen.  

I had just seen an episode of Cooks Illustrated Cook's Country where they made this bread.  Kurt says - "I want that!"  I've got a subscription to their website, so I looked up this recipe and went for it.  It turns out super crispy on the outside, which makes me love it enough to forget that it is made with all white flour.  I've copied the recipe here for your use.  I hope they don't mind!

  • cornmeal
  • 5 cups (27 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 41/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups heated milk (I used almond)
  1. Grease two 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pans and dust with cornmeal. Combine flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking soda in large bowl. Stir in hot milk until combined, about 1 minute. Cover dough with greased plastic wrap and let rise in warm place for 30 minutes, or until dough is bubbly and has doubled.
    Stir dough and divide between prepared loaf pans, pushing into corners with greased rubber spatula. (Pans should be about two-thirds full.) Cover pans with greased plastic and let dough rise in warm place until it reaches edge of pans, about 30 minutes. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
    Discard plastic and transfer pans to oven. Bake until bread is well browned and registers 200 degrees, about 30 minutes, rotating and switching pans halfway through baking. Turn bread out onto wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Slice, toast, and serve.

03 March 2014

Mexican Chile and Mushroom Soup

I was planning a Mexican menu for a dinner party and went in search of a recipe that did not contain corn and would not be too filling.  I didn't want to have more corn since we would already be having chips and guacamole AND enchiladas.  Surely 3 corn courses is too many.  

The other dishes were to be my Frontera Salad and Spanish brown rice, and the weather was freezing, so a soup made sense.  I had gone a little crazy buying mushrooms, as I do from time to time, so that narrowed the search down to Mexican+Mushroom+Soup.  Who knew that was already a thing?  I thought I was going to have to wing it or adapt a different recipe.  I ended up going with this Epicurious recipe because I liked the simplicity, and I had all the indredients already.  I've copied it directly below since I didn't really change anything for fear of making something gross for guests.


3 large garlic cloves (unpeeled)
1 (1/2-inch-thick) slice large white onion
1 (3-inch-long) small dried ancho chile* (1/4 ounce) - I think that's what I used, although the bag wasn't labled, and I bought it a long time ago so who knows.
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (28 fluid ounces)

Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Lightly smash garlic in skins with side of a large knife, then add to skillet along with onion slice and cook, turning over once or twice with tongs, until onion is well browned and garlic is slightly softened, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, discard stem, seeds, and veins from chile and tear chile into 4 pieces. Add chile to onion and garlic in skillet and toast, pressing flat with tongs and turning over occasionally, until chile turns a brighter red, about 1 minute.
Discard garlic skins and coarsely chop onion, then purée garlic, onion, and chile in a blender with water, salt, and oregano until smooth.
Heat oil in skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until golden and any liquid is evaporated, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to moderate, then add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add purée and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Stir in broth and simmer 5 minutes.

Try this recipe for your next Mexican dinner, or just make it any old evening!  It's hearty and spicy so it is perfect to warm up with on a winters night.  And it's basically zero calories so you can eat a ton of it!