Archive for June, 2010

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Frühstücksparty

June 14, 2010

Guten Morgen, liebe Freunde!

For those who don’t know, I’m spending my summer studying German (for the first time) at NYU. The course is taught at a breakneck speed, cramming the equivalent of 4 semesters of German into a mere 12 weeks. I’m now entering my fifth week of classes, and it’s very intense, but also very rewarding. And last week, before our first midterm exam, we had a little breakfast celebration, what our teacher called a Frühstücksparty (‘Frühstück’ is German for ‘breakfast’). I was very excited to experience what a semi-tradtional German breakfast is like, and pleased to find out that it wasn’t just a bunch of meat paired with more meat. In fact, there was plenty of vegetarian fare up for grabs at our little potluck. Check out my plate:

Starting at 12 o’clock and moving clockwise, what we have here is half of a Hörnchen (croissant), Brot mit Tomaten, Schnittlauch und Frischkäse (bread with tomatoes, chives, and cream cheese), crackers, some Weintrauben (grapes), one slice of Apfel (apple), and one slice of Apfelsine (orange). All of this was delicious, or as the Germans say, ‘lecker’. The bread with cream cheese was definitely the most German thing on my plate, and definitely the highlight of the meal for me. But what’s that in the center of the plate, you ask? Well, nothing other than my contribution to our meal:

What you see there is a gluten-free Banana Nut Muffin! One of my classmates has a gluten allergy, and since I do enough weird vegan baking on my own already, I figured I’d volunteer to take a crack at gluten-free baking and make something he could enjoy (a more pressing need given the high quantity of gluten-y bread in our breakfast).

As I found out, gluten-free baking is not all that hard. The main difference is that you need to use a mix of different, gluten-free flours, along with a little bit of xanthum gum to make everything come together. I found this recipe on Gluten Free Mommy, which was itself a modification of this recipe for standard Banana Nut Muffins, which I then modified further to make vegan (a flax egg for the regular egg, and vegan margarine for the butter). It was a breeze.

Most importantly, though, these came out tasting very good! I wouldn’t say that they were incredibly awesome or anything (nothing I ever bake seems to come out that good), but they were still very tasty, and the lack of gluten really did not subtract anything from them. And thankfully, they were a big hit with all of my classmates as well!

So there you have it. I’m very happy that my first gluten-free baking experience was such a success, and I’m excited to do it again sometime soon (hopefully for another German food party!). And when I do, you know where to come to hear all about it. Bis bald!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Indian, Quick and Simple

June 12, 2010

Yo!

I love Indian food. A lot. I would even dare to call it my favorite cuisine at times. Yet when it comes to making Indian food myself, I’ve always struggled. Granted, the Indian dishes I’ve made have never turned out horrible, but they’ve always seemed miles away from the food I enjoy so much at Indian restaurants. However, since the start of this year my Indian cooking has been getting much better, thanks primarily to Vegan Dad’s recent string of astounding Indian recipes. I’ve blogged about the great success I’ve had with several of his other recipes in the past, and today I’m here to bring you yet another success story called Khichdi.

I was curious about this Indian recipe because I’d never had or even seen it at any Indian restaurant before. Admittedly, that may just be because it’s so simple and straightforward: it’s basically just a hash of lentils and rice, cooked along with some onions, garlic, margarine, shallots, garam masala, and cilantro (check out the recipe for yourself here). Now from that ingredient list, you may think that this dish would turn out rather bland, but you’d be completely wrong. The flavors in the end turned out awesome and were not bland at all. Perhaps a close up will make the deliciousness shine through…

Overall, I can’t say that Khichdi is my favorite Indian dish ever, yet given its affordable ingredient list and its ease to make, I think you definitely get more out of this recipe than you put in. I will definitely make it again in the near future, and I will definitely have to restrain myself again from eating the whole pot in one night.

I hope you all get to enjoy the wonders of Khichdi yourselves sometime soon as well! Enjoy the rest of your Saturday!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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I Dream of Blini

June 11, 2010

Happy Friday, readers!

Not long ago, I came home from a long day of school and schoolwork to be greeted by an exciting meal that Caitlin was just finishing up with: Buckwheat Blini with Mushroom Gravy and Vegetables! Sounds good, ya? Well, it was! By way of introduction, let me tackle this dish one part at a time…

First, on the left, we have the Buckwheat Blini, recipe courtesy of Veganomicon. For those that don’t know, blini are, according to Veganomicon, “light, savory, yeasted pancakes with a real Eastern European feel to them,” or, according to Wikipedia, “thin pancakes.” According to me, though, they are simply a delicious accompaniment to a hearty dinner. On its own, this recipe is nothing incredibly special, but used as we did as part of a larger dish, it becomes an excellent foundation to one’s meal.

And on the right we have the dish’s vegetables, a mix of sauteed carrots, peas, green beans, and okra. Again, on their own, these vegetables aren’t out of this world (although the okra did come out quite nicely), but paired with the blini and gravy, they worked really well.

And that brings us to the gravy, or more specifically, the Mushroom Gravy, recipe also courtesy of Veganomicon. Mushroom gravies are generally wonderful in my book, and this one did not fail to please (although, admittedly, it was not quite as good as VeganDad’s extraordinary Roasted Mushroom Gravy or How It All Vegan’s scrumptious Mighty Miso Gravy).

However, what I liked most about this meal was not so much any of its individual parts per se but rather how all the parts came together as a whole. The gravy really brought both the blini and the vegetables to new heights, and the blini and vegetables in turn enhanced the gravy. Here’s a picture of everything all together:

All in all, a wonderful meal. Thanks again, Caitlin, for making it for me! I hope everyone enjoys their weekend!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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It’s Asparagus Time

June 10, 2010

Yay summer!

Summer may not be my favorite season (I prefer the crisp air of autumn, personally), I do appreciate what summer brings food-wise. And one of the best things that’s in season right now is asparagus! Although I was never much a fan of asparagus growing up or even later in my adolescence, I’ve now come to really love it. Usually I’m content just keeping it simple and having it steamed or blanched, but the other day Caitlin and I went a little fancier and made this delicious Asparagus Pesto Pasta!

The recipe comes courtesy of Closet Cooking, where it is in fact a recipe for Asparagus and Ramp Pesto Pasta. Caitlin and I had every intention of making ours with ramps as well but, to our dismay, they were not in stock at Whole Foods the day I went, despite their also being in season right now! Bummer. (Even more so seeing as I have never tried ramps before and was really looking forward to.) Fortunately, this recipe is plenty good without them. And it’s simple—just blend some asparagus with a little spinach, pine nuts, and pesto’s other usual suspects, and then toss that with some pasta, adding more asparagus spears and pine nuts to your liking. I thought our use of farfalle “bowtie” pasta went particularly with this recipe, and we both eagerly devoured every last bite. Here’s one more close-up:

So go out and enjoy some asparagus, everybody–it’s the perfect time!

Until we eat again,

Willie

*Side note: When I looked up ‘farfalle’ in my computer’s dictionary to make sure I was getting the spelling right, I noticed that it lists it as an ‘exclamation noun’. I think this means that I’m permitted to go around shouting “Farfalle!” at people from now on.

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My New Favorite Vegan Pizza Recipe

June 8, 2010

(Update: In the time since I originally wrote this post, I have since discovered an even more favorite vegan pizza recipe that you might also be interested (spoiler: it’s Roasted Pesto & Hummus Pizza). Don’t get me wrong; the pizza you see above is still delicious, but if you’re in the mood for something even more incredible, you may want to give my other pizza a spin.)

(Even more update: In the time since I originally wrote the above update to this post, I have since discovered a yet even more favorite vegan pizza recipe called Guacamole Naan Pizza, so you may want to check that out too!)

Pizza: Almost everybody loves eating it, but for vegans, it can remain elusive. Although I’m usually fine omitting the cheese from some dishes that’d usually call for it (such as burritos or pasta) or using a vegan cheese substitute in others (like in our recent mac ‘n’ cheese), I’ve always struggled with creating a satisfying vegan pizza pie. The easiest way I found to do it in the past was just to go untraditional and make things like Hummus or Chili Pizza, which, although satisfying, don’t really give you that classic pizza experience. And it’s something I definitely miss. In fact, pizza is probably one of my most frequent reasons for “breaking vegan” when Caitlin and I go out to eat (see this delicious excursion, for example). Long story short: I love pizza, and it not being in my life is just not an option. However, I no longer have to eat cheese to satisfy this craving. That’s right: I’ve finally found a vegan pizza recipe that I feel gives traditional pizza a run for its money.

Admittedly, I can’t take any credit for this fabulous vegan pizza; I was simply just fortunate enough to stumble upon it on the excellent No Meat Athlete blog a few weeks ago (which, if you haven’t checked out already, you definitely should, especially if you’re an active vegan runner like me!). And in fact, Matt from No Meat Athlete can’t really take the credit for this pizza either, as the recipe which he posted came from Robin Robertson’s vegan cookbook, Vegan on the Cheap. And as the title suggests, that means that, in addition to being delicious and vegan, this pizza is also completely affordable to make. So you really have no excuse not to try this recipe. But enough exhortation—let’s get to the pizza!

As you can see, Caitlin was so excited to eat this pizza that she got her knife in my photo! Anyway, what you see before you is a White Bean Pizza. It uses a simple yet delicious white bean puree as its base and sauce, which actually is what serves as the “cheese”. On top, we placed lots of sliced fresh tomatoes along with some fresh basil and thawed frozen spinach. Admittedly, this was still a bit untraditional, but the taste was amazing and definitely stood up to conventional pizza in my book. I ate a whole personal pie of this when we made it and loved every bite. Here’s a slice a little closer up…

So there you have it, a quality vegan pizza. Is this pizza good enough to win over vegetarian or omnivore pizza enthusiasts? I wouldn’t bet my money on it. But it is good enough to make vegan pizza lovers happy, and that’s good enough for me!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Vegan Comfort Food

June 5, 2010

Hello readers!

Today I’m bringing you a simple yet delicious vegan dinner Caitlin and I shared a couple weeks ago: Mac ‘n’ Cheese ‘n’ Salad! Not the most complicated of meals, but some nights simpler is better. And these two dishes were far from bland and boring. Let’s check them out…

Mmm… Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Caitlin made this lovely little bowl using this recipe from Vegweb. Although it was not her personal favorite (she still prefers this Recipezaar recipe), I really liked it. Unlike other vegan macs I’ve tried, this Mac ‘n’ Cheese was not overwhelmingly nutritional-yeast-y, which is a definite plus in my book. The addition of green beans and the use of shells pasta only made it that much better. There was even a little bit of tofu mixed in! All in all, I enjoyed this a lot.

Along with the mac, we had some petite salads, filled up with kale, more green beans, shredded carrots, pumpkin seeds, and nutritional yeast. I haven’t been eating as many salads since getting to New York (remember, though, that I was eating a salad a day in Toronto), and it was definitely nice to have one again.

Although this wasn’t the craziest thing we’ve ever made in the kitchen, it was nice to enjoy such a simple, straightforward, and—most importantly—satisfying meal. Just goes to show that vegan cooking can be easy, cheesy, and pleasing! Check back soon to hear about more of our fun kitchen adventures!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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It’s Good To Be a Snob

June 3, 2010

Hi all!

Well, I’ve finally caught up with all the Toronto backblogging I had to do… and now I have a bunch of backblogging to do from Caitlin’s and my last three weeks in New York! And so today I’ll be sharing the first meal Caitlin made for us after we got back: Snobby Joes!

I had read about this Veganomicon recipe before and had only heard wonderful things, and so I was very excited when Caitlin decided to make this for me. It’s basically a vegan spin on the American classic Slobby Joes, using lentils in lieu of ground meat and lots of other great ingredients besides. And let me tell you, they more than live up to the hype. They are deliciously spicy and flavorful and, most importantly, sloppy! But Snobby Joes wasn’t the only thing Caitlin made for this meal—to go with them, she also baked some amazing Poppy Seed Buns!

This recipe also came from Veganomicon and they were as good as the Joes!

They worked well enough on their own, but paired with the Snobby Joes they were divine!

These made for a lovely dinner, and were also very tasty as a school lunch (even cold!). This provides only further evidence for me that Veganomicon is a wonderful cookbook and, furthermore, that it’s going to be a wonderful summer!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Two Roommates, One Dinner

June 2, 2010

Sorry that we’ve been so inactive lately, folks! It’s actually not entirely our problem—our internet here at home in Brooklyn has been out for about the past week, and that really put a damper on my blogging ability. But now the internet (and us along with it) is back, and I’m here to share the last meal I have to blog about from before I left Toronto: a two-person joint venture between me and my roommate Vee!

I was understandably very excited when I heard that a fellow cook was moving into our house a couple months ago, and since she’s moved in we’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen together. However, this meal was the first time we cooked for one another, and the occasion saw some very tasty dishes. I’ll start with Vee’s…

Vee’s main dish was this little bowl featuring tofu squares, tomato chunks, and pineapple tidbits. On top, if I remember correctly, was a sort of Chinese style sauce that Vee more or less improvised, and although I can’t provide more details as to what exactly went into it, I do know that it was very tasty, and the perfect accompaniment to the bowl’s main ingredients.

Vee also made a delicious side dish of sauteed bok choy. I love bok choy and it doesn’t need to be any more complicated than this for me to eat it all up, which is exactly what I did.

For my meal, I made some Asian-Style Tortilla Wraps, using a recipe from the wonderful 3 Bowls cookbook. I’d been making a lot of burritos lately, but this was my first crack at a distinctly non-Mexican style wrap. I started by making this amazing confetti-explosion-esque filling:

I can only vaguely recall everything that was in this skillet, but I know it included soft tofu, walnuts, carrots, onions, and spinach, and several other things as well. When I sampled the finished product, I knew these were going to be some awesome burritos: the filling was surprisingly fresh tasting and very true to its “Asian-Style” moniker. From this point, I simply loaded the filling into some tortillas, and then placed those tortillas in a baking dish to bake.

Thirty minutes later, they were ready to eat!

In the end, these burritos were just as satisfying as I suspected them to be from their filling, and I think Vee enjoyed them too! Overall, this meal was a wonderful night for me, giving me the opportunity to try out an awesome new recipe, eat someone else’s delicious cooking, and just enjoy a very nice meal with my new roommate. Hopefully we’ll get to do it again sometime soon!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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