Wednesday, January 20, 2010

seitan sauteed with mushrooms and spinach

I'm sorry for the lack of posts lately. G. was out of town (in Florida!) for days and I wasn't feeling very ambitious or creative while flying solo. I did manage to put together some really delicious brunch tacos with black beans, purple cabbage, and avocado, which reminded me of California. The weather was appropriately and unseasonably warm (I think it got into the 50s that day) and I enjoyed the afternoon of sun.

We spent Monday and Tuesday wrestling with a new medicine cabinet (domestic joys!) and last night, I finally got around to making the dish I'd been prepping for since Saturday. The recipe comes from Veganomicon, so, I can't share the full recipe with you, but as I've said before, go out and buy this book! It's the best.

The dish is seitan (which I made from scratch... you could use store-bought, but the texture and taste of the stuff you make yourself is just so much better that it's hard to go back, even if it is convenient) sauteed with mushrooms (I used specials from the market... they were out of cremini, though either would work just fine), spinach, onions, and a little white wine. The spinach was my favorite part, and I would actually add to the 6 cups that the recipe calls for because it cooks down so much. I served it with mashed potatoes on the side. (If you don't already know this, Yukon Golds make, in my opinion, the absolute best mashed potatoes... not too starchy and perfectly creamy.)

If you use storebought seitan, or have the foresight to make it ahead, this dish can be made in about 30 minutes. (Add an hour if you're seitan-ing from scratch.) In the book, one of the testers says that this seems like something that Julia Child would make if she were vegan. I like to think so.

Friday, January 15, 2010

potatoes + shallots with red wine

G. says that this dish is quintessentially me, which I guess that it is. One of my favorite things to eat? Potatoes. (Right now, I am seriously craving a knish.) One of my favorite things to drink? Wine. Put them together and I'm pretty much in heaven.

The sauce is full and rich, flecked with toasted shallots and mushrooms and pours over lightly sauteed fingerling potatoes. It's perfect for weekday winter evenings, as it comes together quickly.

potatoes and shallots in red wine sauce
about 1 lb mixed fingerling potatoes, sliced in half if they're large
2 large oyster mushrooms, chopped
1 medium shallot, chopped
2 - 3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
olive oil for sauteing
2 tbs earth balance
1 tbs flour
1/2 c red wine

Saute the mushrooms and shallots in a fair amount of olive oil over medium heat until the mushrooms begin to sweat. Add the potatoes and thyme and stir. Saute for another few minutes until the potatoes begin to brown. Stir well, and add a dash of salt and pepper.

In order to reduce the cooking time for the potatoes, you're going to create a quick-steam environment. Cover the skillet. Get about 1/4 c of water, lift the lid, and toss it in, quickly recovering the potatoes so that the steam does not escape. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, adding more water if necessary.

When the potatoes are tender, cook of the excess liquid, if there is any. Remove them from the skillet. Turn the heat to high and add the wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape off anything that's stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Prepare the buerre mane by whisking together the flour and earth balance, then add it to the wine and stir, until everything is dissolved and the wine has reduced (about 5 minutes). Pour the sauce over the potatoes, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Monday, January 11, 2010

sauteed kale with garlic and mashed potatoes

I love winter greens. I love how they’re heartier and tougher and denser than what grows in the summer and it just makes so much sense to me to eat them when it’s freezing outside. The more seasonally I eat, the more I really begin to understand the way that the plant world works, and the more it just feels internally crazy to try and eat tomatoes or strawberries when there’s snow on the ground. In the winter, only the strong survive!

While I love kale, I understand that a lot of people find it bitter or with too much bite. This is a great introductory kale dish, because the sauté really softens the leaves and, mashed in with the potatoes, the kale has this really delicious, slightly salty bite that balances and incorporates nicely with the starchiness of the potatoes.

sautéed kale with garlic and mashed potatoes

1 head kale, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

olive oil for sautéing

1 ½ tbs soy sauce

1 – 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped

1/8 – ¼ c soy milk

salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes until tender. While the potatoes are boiling, sauté the kale with the garlic in a fair amount of olive oil. Cook until it is well-wilted, stirring occasionally. Add the soy sauce, stir, and cook for a few minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain the potatoes and mash them into the skillet with the kale, adding the soy milk to your desired consistency. Adjust the salt and pepper again, and serve immediately, alongside some fried tempeh or seitan.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

sweet and spicy almonds and pecans

I remember the first time that my mom bought me one of those warm, paper cones filled with spiced nuts and just how thoroughly they seduced my young taste buds. I learned much later that, typically, spiced and sugared use egg whites as their adhesive, which is what results in that thick, crispy shell encasing each almond, pecan, or walnut.

In my version, a reduced simple syrup works to the same effect, and it's super easy. If you haven't noticed, I have a pretty high spice tolerance, so feel free to adjust all of these measurements to your own tastes. The cumin is subtle, but does add a nice savory note underneath it all.

sweet & spicy roasted nuts
1 lb almonds and pecans, mixed
1 c sugar
1 c water
3 tbs cinnamon
2 tbs allspice
2 tbs sugar
2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp cumin
dash of salt
Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Stir together all your spices and set aside. Mix together the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat it, stirring constantly, over medium heat for 5 - 10 minutes. You want it to reduce enough so that it's syrupy and sticky. When it gets to that point, pour in the spices and stir well to incorporate. Pour the mixture over the nuts and stir with a rubber spatula until all the nuts are well-coated. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the nuts begin to brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. *This step is important, so that the nuts become crispy, and not soggy/mushy.

Store in glass jars for up to a month.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

holiday recap

I really can't believe it's 2010 already. I also can't believe that I've been in Brooklyn for nearly six months.

I have a lot of posts to catch up on, with full recipes, but I wanted to start off with a re-cap of what's been going on for the past two weeks.

For Christmas dinner, I made Shepherd's Pie for my family, and it was a huge hit. I even heard my dad say, "If this is vegan, I'll go vegan," which made my day. The next morning, my mom faithfully made Irish Soda Bread and completely surprised me with a vegan version of the loaf. And, I have to tell you, it was amazing. It tasted just like what I'd remembered. Expect the recipe very soon.

I added two new books to my arsenal: Great Chefs Cook Vegan and The Vegan Table.

The first is more... aspirational than the latter. The recipes are put together by some of the top chefs in the world, including Jean Georges. The images are beautiful and seductive and elegant, and most of the recipes require skills which are slightly beyond this at-home chef. Perchance to dream. I'll try my hand at an asparagus terrine some day.

The Vegan Table, on the other hand, is accessible and seasonal and smart. The focus is on entertaining, so the entire book is broken down by crowd-size, then by season. I'm really looking forward to digging in to all the recipes.

Other things to look forward to this week: spicy almonds and pecans tossed with a reduced simple syrup, mini-brownies for winter relief, hot and sour ginger chili soup, and mashed kale and potatoes.