Posts Tagged lentils

VeganMoFo: OBR Week – Bittersweet

I think Hannah of Bittersweet needs no introduction, but I’ll try anyway.  She is a blogger, cookbook author, photographer, crafter…just thinking about it all makes me tired!  I had the pleasure of meeting Hannah briefly at the end of Vida Vegan Con, and she was just as nice in person as I would have hoped.

Hannah is best known for her sweet treats, but she has posted a number of savory recipes as well.  I’ve made her Cold Sesame Noodles before and enjoyed it, so I wanted to choose another recipes I could eat as a main dish for dinner.

This is Matar Tofu Paneer Dahl, which is a mashup of Matar Paneer and Dahl.  It was a really tasty and easy to make one pot dish.  I don’t have a Tofu Xpress (yet!), so I used the old school method of stacking a bunch of heavy stuff on top of my tofu.  The tofu is a substitute for paneer here, but it’s not really masquerading…it is indeed just blocks of extra firm tofu simmered in a delicious sauce.  Luckily for me, I don’t mind plain tofu too much so it was not off putting.  The extra firm texture was a nice contrast to the soft red lentils.  No tofu haters allowed!  I added some cayenne pepper to bump up the heat, and served the dahl with steamed arugula.

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VeganMoFo: Vegetarian Times Week – Curried Red Lentil Soup

For my third installment of Vegetarian Times Week, I chose the Curried Red Lentil Soup with Lemon from the October 2009 issue.  I’ve been doing a whole lot of cooking for VeganMoFo, so I wanted to make a recipe that was a little more easy and less time consuming.

The soup didn’t have the most complex of flavors, but given how easy it was to make, I’ll take the trade off.  Basically, you simmer the lentils in broth a few minutes, then add the veggies and keep simmering, then add the spices and simmer some more.  Lemon juice is added at the end, but honestly I didn’t really taste it so I’m not sure it’s worthy of being included in the recipe name!  It did add a nice acidic balance though.  The soup was a little spicy from the curry powder, but not too strong, and it had contrast in texture between the soft red lentils and the diced vegetables.  Mostly, it reminded me that I ought to make lentil soup more often!

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More Personal Cheffing

For the rest of my externship, I did a few personal cheffing sessions.  I met with the client to assess their needs, planned the menu, grocery shopped, prepared the food in their kitchen, and cleaned up.  All of my “clients” were friends, so it was pretty fun!  Exhausting, but fun.

My first client was Miles.  Miles is a healthy, active guy, so I was sure to include plenty of protein and good fats in his meals.  He is trying to eat low gluten and low soy, so I took that into account as well.  I packaged his meals individually so he could grab them on the way to work.

For the first meal, I made the Quick Red Posole with Beans from Viva Vegan, served with Braised Brazilian Shredded Kale (also from Viva Vegan), toasted pumpkin seeds and quinoa with lime juice.  The kale is really great for such a simple recipe.

Since Miles strives to be mostly soy-free, he makes really interesting stuff like hemp tofu and Burmese tofu, made with chickpea flour.  He had prepared a batch of Burmese tofu, so I made Fragrant Burmese Curry with it.  The chickpea tofu held together much better than I expected.  I served the curry with brown basmati rice and roasted broccoli.

This is “tuna”-stuffed tomatoes with Italian pasta salad.  I used this recipe for the tuna, substituting hemp seeds for the sesame seeds and using an adaptation of this cashew mayonnaise recipe instead of prepared vegan mayo.  The pasta salad was based on this recipe, with gluten free pasta and Zesty Italian Dressing.  Miles didn’t care for the pasta salad much, but he said he loved the tomatoes.

My next clients were Alex & Kristin, an awesome couple who, apart from a few allergies and dislikes, aren’t too picky.  I packaged their meals for two, so that they could reheat and eat together.  (I forgot to bring my camera that day, so please enjoy the craptastic cell phone pics!)

Kristin reeeeeeally wanted lasagna, so lasagna she got.  I’m not sure I would make lasagna again for a client becuase it takes me forever to put together, but it was worth it to make her happy!  I based my lasagna on the recipe from Veganomicon, with the VCon marinara, spinach, tempeh sausage, and cashew cream with plenty of nutritional yeast.  I would’ve also added mushrooms, but they don’t like mushrooms.  The horror, I know!

This White Bean Salad with Mint was the side dish for the lasagna.  I’m not huge on fresh mint, but I think it was pretty tasty.

Atrocious picture.  I know.

Alex & Kristin love Indian food (who doesn’t?), so I made the Tamarind Lentils from Veganomicon and some saffron basmati rice pilaf.  Alex called it biryani, which I guess is what it was.  The slivered almonds totally made the rice.  I also made some kale saag, which tasted nice but photographed so horribly that I can’t bring myself to post it.  It’s unrecognizable as food.

To use some seasonal vegetables, I made succotash from a recipe I printed from Food Network’s website many years ago which doesn’t seem to be there anymore.  Instead of the bacon called for, I add a dash of liquid smoke.  I served the succotash with polenta cakes.  I wanted to do grit cakes, but the grocery store I went to didn’t have grits.

My last clients were Raelene and Wayne, and their adorable 2 1/2 year old daughter.  I packaged their food family style, which basically meant just putting the whole recipe away in the fridge or freezer.  I brought my camera that day but totally forgot to take pictures, and then left my camera there!  They were nice enough to take pictures on my camera when they tried the meals.  They wanted to eat kind of “light”, and they basically like everything, which made it easy to choose recipes.

First up, Quinoa-Corn Chowder and Classic Cabbage with Cilantro-Citrus Vinaigrette, both from Viva Vegan and both tasty and easy.

The next meal was Two-Broccoli Stir-Fry on Soba Noodles from Vegetarian Times, and Fat Free Vegan’s Double Mushroom Miso Soup.  I wanted this meal to be filling yet light, if that makes sense, and I also wanted to sneak in some seaweed :)

Lastly, we wanted to try freezing one of the meals, which worked out well since Raelene just had surgery (she’s fine), and they pulled it out of the freezer last night for dinner.

This is Curried Cauliflower Frittata from Vegan Brunch, with added spinach, and Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes from Veganomicon.  Looks like the served it with some chutney – Good call!

A few people have asked me about my experiences with the Natural Chef Program at Bauman College, so I thought I would share a few opinions here.  I enjoyed it overall, and I’m very glad that I did it.  Yes, It was difficult to attend the classes and complete the homework while still working full time, but I basically decided to dedicate my time and forgo a social life for six months.  The program is not vegan, but it is vegan-friendly, and I was never asked to taste or work with any non-vegan ingredients.  My classmates were super-cool about working with me and making sure I had enough to eat at the end of class.  The instructors were educated and experienced, and if they ever didn’t know the answer to a question they would find out before the next class.  If you’re vegan or vegetarian in the program, you do have to be okay with being around meat for a few classes, but you don’t have to work with it.  Also, you may have to listen to some talk about the merits of stuff like the Weston A. Price Foundation that you may not agree with.  Basically, you have to be understanding with your classmates, the same way you would want them to be understanding with you.  Overall, the program is extremely vegan/vegetarian friendly, and very approving of plant-based nutrition.  Also, because the program is a condensed six month program, you have to know going into it that you’re not getting the same education or experience that you would at a three-year culinary school.  In the end, I feel like I still have a lot to learn and to cook, but that I have a better basic understanding of food and nutrition, and a much better foundation in knife skills, cooking techniques, ingredient knowledge and kitchen timing.  Again, I’m very glad that I completed the program.  If you are considering attending Bauman and have any other questions about my experiences, e-mail me at jamboxrock AT hotmail DOT com and I’ll try not to take forever to answer!

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When Life Gives You Lemons…

When I finished classes at the beginning of March I had grand plans – plans to complete my required externship hours as soon as possible, plans to get back to creating new recipes and use my CSA deliveries creatively, and then…life happened, as it tends to do.  I woke up last Sunday and thought that my face felt a little funny.  At first I chalked it up to sleeping in a weird position or something, but after a few hours when I noticed that it was difficult to eat and one of my eyes wasn’t blinking properly, I really started to freak out.  Dave took me to the ER and I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, a condition where the nerve that motors one side of your face becomes inflamed.  The visible symptom is that the right side of my face is mostly paralysed – it looks like I’m winking at everyone!  It is certainly no fun, but Bell’s Palsy usually cures itself after a few weeks to a few months, so I’m trying to take it easy and hoping for a speedy recovery.

How this relates to food is that I’ve found it a little difficult to eat, what with half of my mouth not really opening or chewing very well!  So, I have been making foods that I can eat with a spoon or through a straw that don’t require too much chewing, while still trying to take in a good amount of nutrition.  I have been able to eat some solid foods by cutting them into small pieces, but it’s really much easier to just slurp something up.

Mushy is easy for breakfast…

Good ol’ grits with nutritional yeast.

Amaranth with strawberries and coconut kefir.

Super smoothie – First I juiced some red cabbage, celery, ginger and swiss chard, then I blended the juice with a banana, kiwi, frozen strawberries and mango, hemp protein powder and coconut kefir.  Odd maybe, but good!

A coworker mentioned that when her mother had Bell’s Palsy she ate a lot of applesauce, so I took applesauce to the next level.  This is store bought applesauce, warmed up, topped with peanut butter, ground flax and maple syrup.  It was like a warm pb & apple butter sandwich without the bread.

Luckily, I’ve been able to work from home since my diagnosis, so my lunches have been quick and simple.

Broccoli-Avocado-Lemon Soup.  I steamed a bunch of broccoli well then processed it with three small avocados, the juice of one large lemon, dried thyme, garlic powder, salt, white pepper and nutritional yeast.  Yeah, perhaps it looks like something from The Exorcist, but it tasted nice and simple.  I wanted to bulk up the soup, so I toasted a piece of Ezekiel bread, tore it into small pieces, and soaked it in the soup until soft.

Purposely overcooked brown rice pasta with jarred sauce and nutritional yeast.  Appetizing, no?

Dahl for dinner.  I’d never made dahl before (and I was out of curry powder – doh!), so this was my thrown together version with garlic, ginger, fenugreek seed, mustard seed, turmeric, cumin, coriander and cilantro.

With the dahl, I had some of the best mashed potatoes I have ever made.  I cooked baby red potatoes until very soft, then mashed them with a few spoonfuls of Cheddar-Style We Can’t Say It’s Cheese.  So good!  Now I understand why people put cream cheese or sour cream in their potatoes.

And for dinner tonight, to use up some sweet potatoes, I made Sweet Potato-Lentil-Wild Rice Stew, seasoned with ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin and coriander.  Ginger and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties, so I’m telling myself that eating them will help my swollen nerve calm down!

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Food Network Friday Followup

A few weeks back I posted about “beef-stuffed collards” for Food Network Friday.  Luckily, I received collards in the next two CSA deliveries, so I had the chance to perfect my version.  I think this is as close as I can get to the original, and it’s darned tasty!  Not to mention, much healthier than the meat-filled original.  And they’re really quite easy to make once the ingredients are cooked.

(This batch was made with a particularly stemmy bunch of collards; they’re not always this rampant with stems.)

Lentil & Tempeh-Stuffed Collards

1 bunch collard greens, at least 12 leaves
8 oz. tempeh
3/4 c lentils
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 Tbs vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs ketchup
1 1/2 tsp Ener-g Egg Replacer powder
2 Tbs warm water
1 c veggie or faux-chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Put three pots of water over high heat: a large pot with salted water, a medium pot with water, and a small pot with 1 1/2 c water. Bring each pot to a boil.
3. Add the lentils to the small pot, stir, turn down the heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes, until lentils are tender. If there is any water remaining, remove the cover and continue to cook until water is absorbed.
4. Cut the tempeh into 8 pieces, and add to the medium pot. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
5. Add the collards to the large pot of salted water. Using a spoon to submerge them occasionally, boil 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
6. Transfer lentils to a medium mixing bowl, and use a fork to mash them. It is okay to leave some whole lentils. Crumble the tempeh into the bowl with your hands. Add the dry spices (cumin through nutmeg) to the bowl and mix well to combine. In a small bowl, combine the Ener-g powder and warm water, and whisk until frothy. Add this mixture, and Worcestershire sauce and the ketchup to the lentil-tempeh mixture, and stir very well.
7. Divide the mixture into four, and use your hands to form each fourth into an oblong patty. Wrap each patty in four collard leaves, using the natural curve of the leaves and alternating the direction of the stems. Place seam side down in an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Pour the broth over the collards and cover baking dish with foil.
8. Bake for 25 minutes.

Serves 4.

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Piccata, Risotto & Focaccia

Time for some fancy foods!  Piccata, risotto and focaccia are all restauranty-sounding dishes to me, things that a few years ago I would have never thought I’d be making for myself.  They also all have double letters that I have a hard time remembering where to put.

Let’s start with the CSA delivery that brought me some of the ingredients:

leaf lettuce, chard, artichokes, collards, asparagus & rosemary

tangerines, beets, shallots, kiwis & apples

It was a lovely coincidence that I saw Lindsay’s post on piccata the very same week I received asparagus, which everyone knows is good with piccata.  Even those of us who’d never tried it before, like me.  She made hers with her chickpea cakes, which I’m sure are good, but I decided to go with the chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon, because I love them and it had been a very long time since I made them.  I followed Lindsay’s sauce recipe exactly though.  Like all of her recipes, the sauce is fat-free, so I feel like the end result might have been lacking a little bit of richness you might get from a “normal” piccata.  The sauce was definitely not lacking in flavor though.  In fact, I was quite happy the sauce was fat-free, because I used olive oil on the asparagus and earth balance in the mashed cauliflower.

Yes, I know that mashed potatoes go with piccata and asparagus.  But I like to use cauliflower instead of potatoes sometimes to lighten up a meal.  I chopped up a bit of fresh rosemary to go in the cauliflower, and it lent just the faintest hint of delicious rosemary flavor.  I was suspicious of using fresh rosemary because I’m not a huge fan of dried, but for serious:  fresh is awesome.  And it lasts a lot longer in the fridge than I thought it would.

I have always been intimidated by the thought of making risotto.  You hear about having to stand in front of a pot, stirring forever, and all for some flavored rice?  But I kept seeing risotto pop up on the internets, and it didn’t seem to be such a big deal.  So when the CSA newsletter came with a recipe for Red Chard Risotto, I gave it a whirl.

I had to figure out what “dry white wine” is to make this.  (Google it.)  And I learned that you don’t actually have to stir constantly; just a lot.  It turned out pretty well, but the rice could have been cooked more, and the flavor could use a boost.  So I will rework this soon and have a recipe.  The good news is that I am no longer scared of arborio rice.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the majority of my fresh rosemary, and the only idea that came to mind was focaccia, so I went with it.  I followed the recipe in Veganomicon, subbing half whole wheat flour.

This was very easy to make, and the rosemary flavor is awesome.  I have one question though:  What makes focaccia different from regular ol’ bread just shaped into a disc?  The texture seemed like normal bread.  Not that I’m complaining…I just want to know.

To go with the focaccia, I remade the stuffed collards that I first tried here.

My filling of choice was lentils and tempeh, and the flavor of the filling was great.  It didn’t quite stick together enough to recreate the original though.  I think I have a solution, and I happen to have collards in the fridge, so hopefully with one more tweak I will have a recipe to share.

Speaking of recipes that I’m working on, here’s a sneak peek.

It’s going to be my first recipe contest entry.  It’s fun to be working toward something instead of just cooking whatever I want sometimes.  Can anyone guess what the triangles are?  Hint:  it’s not tofu.

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Snobby Joes & A Hot Toddy

I’ve been wanting to try the Snobby Joes from Veganomicon ever since I got the book last Christmas, and last week I was in the mood.  The idea of using lentils intrigued me.  I like lentils but never eat them as much as I could, so I’m always looking for reasons to use them.

On the side I had plain boiled cabbage, which is my favorite way to eat it.  I also made a cream of mushroom and broccoli stem soup that didn’t turn out so well.  I kept adding a bit of this and a dash of that in attempts to make it taste good and rather than improving the flavor it just became more convoluted.  So I sprinkled some red bell pepper on top, which helped a bit, and got through it.

The Snobby Joe was pretty good.  I liked the texture a lot, and I love any recipe that starts with onion, green pepper and garlic.  I don’t know that I’ll make this recipe again though, because there’s a sloppy joe recipe in Minutemeals Vegetarian that I kind of love.  The only issue is that it’s made with processed meat substitute, which isn’t really that bad, but I’m trying to avoid processed ingredients as much as possible.  Made that way it really does taste like a regular ol’ sloppy joe.  Maybe I’ll try making that recipe with lentils instead of faux meat?  The recipe is more simple, made with tomato paste, ketchup and red wine vinegar.  I don’t think I cared for the maple syrup that sweetens the Snobby Joes.  However, I’m not saying you shouldn’t try it if you think it looks good!

Last week I had a minor head cold and was feeling generally crappy.  I came home from work Friday night and for whatever crazy reason, I thought I would treat my cold with a hot toddy.  Even though I’d never had one in my life.  That’s what they do on tv, right?  A search of the internet yielded many versions, so I stuck with a simple one.  I measured it out and drank it from a sweet Jameson glass that I inherited when my mom cleaned out her kitchen cabinets.  A lot of people find hot toddies repulsive, but I liked it.  Then again, I like whiskey, so…there you go.

Looks harmless, right?

Vegan Hot Toddy

1 1/2 oz whiskey
1 oz agave nectar
1/3 oz lemon juice
3 oz hot cider, tea, water or other hot beverage (I used orange tangerine tea)

Mix and drink.  It’ll cure what ails ya!

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Eggplant Parmesan

For dinner tonight I knew I needed to use up the last of my Teese and the eggplant in the fridge before they went bad, and since I was hoping to try my hand at eggplant parmesan it worked out swimmingly.  A quick trip to the grocery store yielded the rest of the supplies.

groceries

Having never made eggplant parm before, I studied up on the internet.  Unfortunately, I really wasn’t in the mood for the traditional accompaniment of pasta marinara since I had spaghetti for dinner last night, a couple bites cold after packing my lunch this morning, and then again for lunch.  I REALLY didn’t want any more pasta or marinara.  I wanted to beef up the protein in this meal and wasn’t completely against a red sauce, so it became roasted red pepper-lentil-basil sauce.  I still wanted a grain and strongly considered polenta, but I didn’t think it would hold up to the eggplant and the sauce, so I decided on bread.  I like to make my own bread as often as possible, but the scope of this meal was spiralling larger by the second, so I bought the one brand name loaf that I really like.  No HFCS, sweetened with raisin juice!

I normally buy roasted red peppers in the jar, and was feeling lazy and leaning toward it today, but I came across these instructions for roasting a pepper at VeganYumYum so I went for it.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll have a gas range, gotta take advantage of it!

roasted pepper

Yeah, my stovetop is filthy.  Deal with it.  Here’s the molted pepper.

roasted pepper

At the same time, I had already sliced and salted the eggplant to draw out some moisture, and I was cooking the lentils and snapping off the ends of my green beans.

I’m not very good at breading things, so I was worried about breading the eggplant.  I took some tips from here, although theirs still look better.  I think my breadcrumbs weren’t quite fine enough (ground them from a stale half loaf of bread I knew I was keeping in the fridge with a purpose, not just because I’m lazy…), and my eggplant was baked instead or fried.  Anywho, I set up the breading station – I rinsed the eggplant slices, made a cornstarch slurry and microwaved it a couple 15 second bursts, and seasoned the breadcrumbs with nutritional yeast, oregano, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper.  Then into the oven at 350 they went for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.

eggplant

Meanwhile I made the sauce by pureeing the roasted red pepper, an undrained can of diced tomatoes and some of the cooked lentils.  I added this back to the pan with the rest of the lentils, added olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and simmered to cook down the liquid a bit.  With a minute or two left I added this pretty chiffonade of basil, just to wilt it.

basil

When the eggplant were cooked, I topped each slice with some of the sauce, almond parmesan and sliced Teese.  Back into the oven at 400 for a couple minutes, then broiled for a couple minutes to melt the Teese.  I toasted my bread, plated everything, and took about 10 pictures.  Hungry and very ready to eat, I realized I had forgotten to add the basil garnish I had set aside for just that purpose.  I’m glad I took the time to take a few more pictures, because having that focal point made all the difference in the world for the aesthetics of the picture.  I didn’t keep any ungarnished photos, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

eggplant parmesan

In the end, this was a worthy use for the last of the Teese log.  The eggplant spent so much time in the oven that it was a tad overdone, but I’d rather have a squishy eggplant than one that’s not cooked through.  While the sauce tasted really nice, it was quite hardy and overbalanced the eggplant a little.  Next time I make this I’ll just not have spaghetti the three meals immediately preceding.

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Lentils Tartare – a Hezbollah Tofu contribution

This is a veganized recipe from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.  If you have seen Hezbollah Tofu yet, go check it out.  This was a fun challenge.

Hey look!  My camera actually focused on something properly!  The food photography gods must have been smiling upon me.  I ate my tartare with millet toast triangles and a salad of wilted dandelion greens, alfalfa sprouts, grape tomatoes and mustard dressing.

lentils tartare

Lentils Tartare

1/2 lb (about 1 1/4 cups) lentils (see note)
2 1/2 cups water
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 tsp ketchup
1 tsp miso
1 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp tabasco sauce
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
1 ounce Cognac (see note)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 ounces capers, rinsed
2 ounces cornichons (gherkins), finely chopped
4 sprigs of flat parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp toasted nori flakes, large pieces torn smaller
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1. Place lentils and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender and water is absorbed. Let stand for at least 10 minutes, then place in refrigerator to cool. Let cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, place the mustard, ketchup, miso, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce and black pepper in a large bowl and whisk until well mixed. Slowly whisk in the oil, then add the Cognac and mix again. Fold in the onion, capers, cornichons, parsley, nori flakes and salt.
3. Add the lentils to the mustard mixture and mix well using a spoon or your hands, breaking up any clumps. Spoon the mixture onto chilled plates and form into disks using a ring mold. Serve with toasted bread points.

Serves 6.

Notes:
- You can use any type of lentil, depending on your desired results. I used red in an attempt at beef-like color, and they end up being pretty well mashed. Black, green or even brown lentils will hold their shape better and have a firmer bite. If using those, you may need to add more water and increase cooking time.
- Hennessey, Remy Martin, and Martell brand Cognacs are suitable for vegans, probably along with other brands.
- The original recipe calls for an entire onion, so if you like raw oniony goodness, go for it. I think the half onion is a nice ratio.
- This would probably work nicely as a firm dip with thick crackers or veggie crudite. And unlike it’s original steak counterpoint, it will hold well in the fridge for leftovers.

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