Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Spicy Tempeh with Stuff and Other Stuff

This right here is where a picture would be if my camera wasn't being a son of a crap and out of commission AGAIN. Quarterly bonus time is coming up and work and who's getting a new camera? I think it's me. In the meantime, this here is someone else's pic of the dish.

Lately I have been feeling kind of like, you know, a failure on the challenging myself food-wise front. It's supposed to be the whole point of my blog and yet nothing has felt like much of a challenge, it's just so easy to stay in the habit of making food choices based primarily on how easy it is, which is not to say I've been making bad food so much as I haven't been making food I feel really proud of and can show to other food proclaiming "See this food, this is GOOD FOOD, suck it!" and imitating Nelson from the Simpsons.

So I was just the right kind of vulnerable while I was flipping through Veganomicon and the Spicy Tempeh with Broccoli Rabe and Rotini started winking at me suggestively in the photo section. I almost chickened out when I read the recipe, I mean, come on cooking things and then putting them aside and wiping the pan down and cooking them again?! Cooking three different things at once?!?! But then I looked closer, amazingly enough I actually had everything to make the dish so I thought "What the hizz." and got my challenge on. By the way, I'm fully aware that this recipe will not be such a challenge for most people out there, but I am pretty lazy. I think my laziness might end up being my legacy (along with my deep fear of birds). Like, if there were some kind of award I think I'd place in the top 5. Top 10 for sure. Assuming I was not too lazy to show up, of course. But, oh, my gods people, this ish is so good! There is nothing more gratifying than putting a lot of effort into a meal and having that meal be totally and completely worth it! It's nice and spicy, but not so spicy as to cancel out any other flavor. It was satisfying and felt healthy, and one of the best parts is that the cooking process leaves you these little pockets of time in which to clean up your dishes. I cook in a very small kitchen where counter space it as a premium, so not creating an ever-growing mountain of dishes that I will have to face later when I am in food coma is a gigantic plus for me. Specifically to the food though, it is so good I went to work today and said to at least three co-workers "Oh, my god, I made the best thing for dinner last night, I can't wait to have it for lunch." I got glassy-eyed responses which I choose to interpret at jealousy.

Here's some recipe action for ya, my changes are in the parentheses. Please, make, enjoy, savor. If you are like me, you will eat it while kicking yourself for returning Once before you could watch it again and instead watching Mystic Pizza.

Spicy Tempeh with Broccoli Rabe and Rotini

  • 1/2 pound whole wheat rotelle or other spiral-shaped pasta (I used fusilli)

Spicy fennel tempeh:

  • 1 (15 oz.) package tempeh, cubed
  • 1/2 c. plus 2T vegetable broth
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 T. fennel seeds
  • 1-1/2 t. red pepper flakes, or to taste (I went with just 1 tsp, I'm a spice wuss)
  • 1-1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 1/2 t. red wine vinegar

Broccoli rabe:

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed and chopped coarsely (I used regular old broccoli, the book has a little saying it's okay to)
  • 2-3 T. white wine, water or vegetable stock
  • 2 t. red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Boil salted water for pasta and prepare according to package directions. Drain, toss with a teaspoon or so of olive oil, cover and keep warm.

While pasta is boiling, prepare other ingredients:

Prepare the tempeh:

Place the tempeh in a large, nonstick skillet. Whisk together the remaining ingredients listed under “Spicy fennel tempeh.” Pour over the tempeh, stir to coat, and cook over medium heat until the liquid starts to simmer. Cover the pan and steam the tempeh, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Transfer the tempeh to a bowl and crumble about half the cubes with the back of a spoon.

Wipe down the skillet to remove any leftover tempeh sauce, return the skillet to medium heat and add two tablespoons of olive oil . Drop a cube into the hot oil to test the temperature — if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Add the rest of the tempeh and stir-fry for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until it begins to brown. If the pasta is ready, add the tempeh to the pasta, toss and keep covered and warm. If not, just transfer to a bowl and keep covered and warm.

Prepare the broccoli rabe:

Pour the remaining olive oil into the pan and add the sliced garlic. When the garlic begins to sizzle (be careful not to burn it), stir and cook for about a minute. Add the broccoli rabe, stir to coat with the oil, sprinkle with a little salt, and cover the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with about 2 T. of the white wine (or water or broth) and steam for 8 to 10 minutes, until the broccoli rabe is bright green and its stems are tender. **Bea's Note Time: If you are using regular broccoli I might suggest using more liquid, assuming that is why my broccoli turned out...shall we say...crispy on one side. Or maybe I should have turned the heat down below medium. Honestly I'm open to suggestion.**

Remove the cover and sauté for an additional minute or two, until any excess liquid is absorbed. Pour the cooked broccoli rabe onto the tempeh and pasta, sprinkle with red wine or balsamic vinegar, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and toss to combine.

This recipe was originally posted at Kindly Pog Mo Thoin

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cashew Curried Soy Curls Salad

sweet! my camera works again!

This salad was inspired largely by the Tempeh Salad I've talked about before (seriously, if it were crack, I would be Whitney Houston) but also by a friend of mine who shared some curry she'd made with me. I've never considered myself a curry fan and spent most my life before this past year turning the other way and running from it. But veganism has made me a lot braver on the food front, so now I'm giving curry more of a chance.

If you don't have Soy Curls, get some. Barring that, you could use steamed tempeh or fake meaty strips or baked tofu or something. Also, I think my finished version could have used *more* curry, how do you like that for a non-curry fan? So if you really like curry put in a lot more curry powder than what I tell you to.

Salad Recipe Time!
1 cup Soy Curls
Some chicken-flavored seasoning or chicken-flavored broth (I used Bill's Best Chick'nish)
1/4 cup cashews, chopped small
2-3 carrots, grated
3 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
1/4 cup vegan mayo
1/4 tsp curry powder (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (I use some kind of grill seasoning)
salt to taste

Put the Soy Curls and the chicken-flavored seasoning in a large bowl and cover with hot or boiling water (or hot chicken-flavored broth). Let sit for at least 10 minutes while you chop your vegetables.

Drain the Soy Curls and combine the veggies, cashews, and parsley. While the curls are draining mix the mayo and the curry powder to your liking. When the curls are drained and cooled, roughly chop and add to the veggies, then add the mayo and salt to taste and stir it all together. Eat right away or let cool off a big.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Oh, Sweet Gluttony

My camera is still having it's issue (I really must look into getting a decent one. Soon.) and I'm trying to get to 70% completion on the scarf I'm making so I'll keep it short. Plus Potato is being whiny for attention and just jumped on me.

Yesterday I made some fancy(to me)-ass food. I made the Onion and Leek Tart from Vegan Cooking School, which was my first experience with puff pastry and was very disappointed that Trader Joe's puff pastry is not vegan so I had to make an extra stop when I was out yesterday. It was so good! Kind of like a really light pizza and oniony and garlicky and I did the cream cheese on the bottom option and oh, so easy.

For dessert I finally got around to making kittee's No-Bake Strawberry Pie which did not turn out nearly as pretty as hers but was freaking delicious. Even more so when I had some for breakfast this morning. I used a pre-made graham cracker crust which I found on sale at Sidecar, and I would not recommend it, graham cracker crumbs do not like having cream cheese spread on them, and they don't care if it's vegan or not.

Today I've got some Red Beans and Rice from Fat Free Vegan going in the crock pot and I plan to make some zucchini bread with the lovely zucs that came in my CSA box last week, and another batch of the Tempeh Salad from pakupaku which I can never seem to get enough of, and I hope I never do.

I'm not at all sure how I'm going to fit out the door to go to work tomorrow but I'm pretty sure I don't care.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Pajama Pasta

If someone were to ask me how I would define this year (I expect it to happen any day now, sure), I would have to say it's the Year I Liked Cooked Greens. I've always preferred my veggies raw (except corn), when I was little my mommy used to call me a bunny rabbit because she'd find me in the fridge eating leaves of lettuce like chips and tomatoes like they were apples. She was okay with the lettuce but she got a little pissed about me eating up all her tomatoes. Cooked veggies though, greens specifically, have always presented a problem, I just couldn't deal with them. I would put spinach in my bowl at the Mongolian grill but then I'd just cover it in peanut sauce so I don't think that counts. That's all turned around this year though, thank goodness! It started, I believe, with the sauteed spinach and mushrooms and seitan dish from V-Con and then really took off with Johanna's White Beans and Kale from Yellow Rose Recipes. And now it has led to this, a recipe I made up myself involving greens. Gasp.

I made this up last weekend when I was having what I like to call a Pajama Day, I had nothing to do, so I just stayed in my pajamas, attractive as all get out, until it was time to take a shower and put on new pajamas and go to sleep. It was wonderful, and on such a lazy day, I don't like to cook too intensively, so this is perfect. The spinach and the pasta go into their respective cooking vessels at the same time, and less than 5 minutes later you've got foody bits. Unfortunately, my camera is being a butt-head again, so no picture. But if you can close your eyes and imagine pasta, and then you imagine cooked spinach, then I would not be showing you anything that spectacular anyway.

Pajama Pasta (enough for 1 lazy person like myself)
Angel hair pasta for one
1/2 bunch or so spinach leaves, rinsed and spun
1 shallot, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Salt your water and start it heating in a big pot. In a pan over medium, heat a little olive oil and add the shallot and garlic, cooking until the shallot is starting to brown. If you're stove is behaving, the water should be just about boiling. Add the spinach to the pan and toss it around, at the same time add your pasta to the pot. Keep stirring the spinach around until it's nice and wilted. (Sidenote, last night I made this and I added in a splash of white wine when I added the spinach, it tasted okay but I think I prefer it without.) The pasta should be done. Remove the spinach pan from the stove and drain the pasta (if it's done, of course). Stir everything together, season with salt and pepper to your liking, and stuff it in your face.