Posts Tagged rice

VeganMoFo: OBR Week – Almost Vegan

I hadn’t seen Almost Vegan before I met Amber at Vida Vegan Con, and her charming ways immediately won me over.  Amber eats an “almost vegan” diet, and from what I can tell most of the recipes she posts are vegan, with a focus on raw food. She actually just turned in the manuscript for her first cookbook, an all raw cookbook.  Plus, her boyfriend Matt performs some mean karaoke.

A lot of her recipes were tempting, but on the day I was choosing this one-two punch of Latin food sounded fantastic.

This is Yellow Cilantro Rice, Venezuelan Black Beans and Cuban ‘Ropa Vieja’ Shredded Seitan, which were all adaptions from Viva Vegan.  Amber made this meal in three hours, I made this meal in…three days.  The first step was cooking the sofrito, a mixture of onion, peppers, garlic and oil.  I reduced the oil by half, because that’s what I do.  I also made seitan, from the recipe in Veganomicon.  The next day, I soaked and cooked the black beans.  Then on the third day, I finally prepared the meal!

The yellow rice is supposed to get its color from annatto oil, but Amber didn’t have any so she used turmeric, which worked just fine for me.  The black beans were seasoned with bay leaf, sofrito, tomatoes, cumin and brown sugar, and they were very delicious.  The seitan ropa vieja involved the same sort of seasonings, and reminded me that I don’t eat seitan often enough.  That’s some wilted swiss chard with onion in the back.  This was a darned delicious meal, and the recipes made a ton of food.  The flavors were mellow but good and harmonious, perfect for spicing up with Tapatio.

I’ve got my eye on more of Amber’s recipes, particularly the Single Serving Raw Blondie.

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VeganMoFo: The Great American Detox Diet

Alex Jamieson, author of The Great American Detox Diet, was Morgan Spurlock’s girlfriend at the time he filmed Super Size Me (now his wife).  She allowed him to eat nothing but McDonald’s for thirty days straight on the condition that she could put him on a detox afterward, and this was the basis for her book.

I bought The Great American Detox Diet hoping that it would have lots of healthy recipes to try, and it partially delivered.  The first two thirds of the book explain why we need to detox and how to do it, and the last hundred pages are full of recipes.  The how is broken down into an eight week plan, each week focusing on something like swapping out healthy sweeteners for sugar, kicking the caffeine habit, or choosing healthy fats.  I read the plan with interest, but I think everything in moderation is okay, so I’m not planning on cutting out sugar or coffee completely any time soon.

The first recipe I tried was Spicy Red Beans and Savory Rice.  You start by simmering cooked kidney beans with kombu, then cook them again in a spicy broth.  Cooking the already cooked beans for an hour made them pretty soft, and while I like spicy food, I thought the spice in the beans wasn’t balanced by anything; it was just spice for spice’s sake.  The rice, on the other hand, was great.  I loved the crunchy veggies interspersed with the rice.  I was surprised that a recipe which was supposed to be for a detox called for four Tablespoons of oil; I reduced that amount greatly.

These are Sang Choy Bow, or Chinese Mushroom Rice “Burritos”.  This recipe was great; the combination of rice, finely chopped mushrooms, garlic, bell pepper, celery and ginger was really tasty.  You’re supposed to put the filling in lettuce leaves to make “burritos”, but honestly I liked the mixture more just on its own.  For a side dish, I sauteed green beans and broccoli in peanut oil and topped it with chopped walnuts.

Next, I tried the Sweet and Sour Sauce with buckwheat, veggies, tempeh and microgreens.  I didn’t love the sauce.  The sweet and sour flavors come from maple syrup and apple cider vinegar and I don’t know if it was the ingredients or the ratios, but I just didn’t like it very much.

Lastly, this is Milanese Tomato Soup, which I really liked.  It’s a chunky tomato soup with other fun stuff like shredded carrot and chopped spinach.  I’m not a big fan of creamy tomato soup, so this was perfect for me.  The only change I would make next time would be to add the carrot and spinach a little earlier, since they were still a little raw at the end of cooking time.  And because tomato soup loves grilled cheese, I made the Gooey Grilled Cheese from The Uncheese Cookbook, which is always a winner.

I’m not sure what I think of The Great American Detox Diet overall.  I like the idea of cleaning up our food, and I like the idea of a detox versus a diet, but I don’t feel like the recipes were always the cleanest they could have been.  For instance, some call for canned items or use more oil than I would expect a “healthy” recipe to.  Some recipes were great, while some just weren’t my cup of tea.  Maybe it’s just a different cooking style than I’m used to.

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31 Before 31 Results

I wasn’t even close to doing everything on my 31 Before 31 list, but I’m glad I wrote it because it really did help me to focus on my goals.  Here are the results!

Stuff that I did:

2.  Hike to the peak of Mount Tamalpais.  Done, and it was so awesome that I’m hoping to go back soon and do an even longer hike!  Here are a few pictures.

San Francisco skyline in the background

4.  Take a kickboxing class.  It was literally one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.
5.  Try acupuncture.  It didn’t help with the issue I went for, but it sure was interesting!
6.  Borrow a foreign cuisine non-vegan cookbook from the library and try at least three recipes.  I chose Mexico One Plate At A Time by Rick Bayless.  His recipes looked so good that it was hard to choose only three.

Potato Chorizo Tacos with Avocado Salsa (recipe posted here).  These were so good, and so easy to make!  I used Trader Joe’s Soyrizo.

Smoky Chipotle Beans with Wilted Spinach and Masa Dumplings (recipe posted here).  You soak dried black beans, then cook them with onion and garlic, and it turns it to this wonderful, thick broth.  Then you add in tomato, chipotle and spinach, and simmer the masa dumplings on top.  This took some time to make, but the flavor was so worth it.  The side dish is my attempt at turnips Gracias Madre-style.

Chipotle Chicken Salad Tacos (lettuce wraps) and Red Rice.    I reduced the oil in the salad and left off the avocado, and the salad really could’ve used one or the other to balance the flavor – it was SPICY.  For the rice, I followed Bayless’ directions to substitute brown rice for white, and while the rice was cooked through the dish was still watery.  Tasty though.

8.  Advertise personal chef services at discounted rate.  Done.
13.  Register for Vida Vegan conference.  Yes!  I’m going!
15.  Get trumpet cleaned.
16.  Fix and update iTunes library.
19.  Plant herbs in the flower box.

planted mid-April - oregano, flat leaf parsley, sage, cilantro, curly parsley, basil

mid-May, not looking quite as good. The left side is faring better than the right. The parsley has actually made a comeback since this photo.

20.  Get a few houseplants and try to keep them alive.  I’m still working on the keeping them alive part.
21.  Get a new phone.  Got an iPhone, and love it!
22.  Learn some basic conversational Spanish.  I’m through chapter 12 of Spanish for Dummies and can say more words and phrases than before, so I consider this done.  I’m going to keep working on it.
24.  Visit a city I’ve never been to.  Done twice – Clayton GA and Mendocino CA.
27.  Go to SFMOMA or the de Young.  Went to SFMOMA in December.  Favorite sculpture:

31.  Go on a picnic.  I took a picnic lunch on my Mt. Tam hike.

Tempeh Salad from Vegweb, made with half the mayo and tamari, on a multigrain wrap with Persian cucumbers and red bell pepper.

Stuff I did not do, which may or may not be on my 32 before 32 list:

1.  Jog 2 miles without feeling like dying afterward.  (I have been jogging, but my stamina isn’t up to two miles straight yet.)
3.  Work up to ten real push ups.  (I tried, but am not even close.)
7.  Finalize the list of recipes for my zine idea and work on at least five recipes.
9.  Enter all of the recipes I Have printed into Living Cookbook database.  (I didn’t realize what a huge project this is.  Am chipping away at it little by little.)
10.  Read at least chapters 5-7 of On Food and Cooking.
11.  Change blog template.
12.  Update blog roll.
14.  Invest in some props for food photography and take more interesting pictures.
17.  Go to a symphony concert.
18.  Finalize the list of songs for cover album project and start to think about style/arrangements.
23.  Take a day trip up or down highway 1.
25.  Go to Millennium and order the Frugal Foodie prix fix menu.
26.  Take an SF City Guide walking tour.
28.  Host a dinner party.
29.  Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.
30.  Watch the eight movies on this list that I haven’t seen.

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Appetite For Reduction – Review & Giveaway

When I first heard about Appetite For Reduction, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s latest cookbook, I knew it would be right up my alley.  The recipes are similar to how I usually cook – whole foods, high flavor, low fat and calories.  I bought the book a few weeks before Christmas and having been cooking from it since.  Most of the recipes I’ve chosen so far have been based on what has been in my CSA deliveries, and there are a lot more recipes I look forward to trying.

Broiled Blackened Tofu.  You just coat the tofu with the spice mix and broil it.  Simple and tasty!

Butternut Coconut Rice.  Mixing in mashed butternut squash is a smart way to make rice yummy and coconutty without adding a lot of fat.  The only thing I would change with this recipe is to dice the shallot instead of slicing it, because the long slices were  kind of weird compared to the texture of the rest of the dish.

Pineapple Collards.  This maybe doesn’t look too appealing because my ginger was stringy, but the flavor is great.  I just wish I had used more collards, because the pineapple/garlic/ginger combo was a little overpowering.  Plus, I wanted to eat more of it.

All packed up to take for lunch.

Curried Cabbage & Peas, served with quinoa.  The texture on these veggies was great – they were cooked enough to be tender, but still have a bite to them.  The curry flavor isn’t incredibly complex, but the dish comes together really quickly, so I’m not complaining!

Not from AFR – I ate this Romanesco Carrot Salad with the curried cabbage.  The recipe was in my CSA’s newsletter, and it was a nice way to use the romanesco.

Irish Stew with Potatoes & Seitan.  This was a bust for me, but not due to the recipe.  I used the steamed white seitan from Viva Vegan, and even after being sauteed the seitan was squishy like raw dough, and really unpleasant to eat.  I’ve heard about other people having trouble with the seitan recipe, and also others who have had success, so perhaps it was just me.  I picked all the seitan out, and the stew was pretty good.

Tempeh Helper.  This is one I was really excited about.  The recipe is posted here, on The PPK blog.  This is super good!  It tastes like junk food from a box, but isn’t junky at all.  I was skeptical about the technique – you cook the pasta and other ingredients in a pan with a smaller amount of water than normal – but it worked out well.  The pasta came out al dente, and the water cooked off without the dish getting dry.  Next time I want to crumble the tempeh more finely so it’s spread throughout the dish.

The Gravy Bowl, slightly modified.  I know how to put together a “bowl” on my own, but the suggestions in the three-page bowl section are good when you’re looking for something easy to throw together.  Brown rice, baked tofu, steamed kale and collards and silky chickpea gravy.  The gravy is not as flavor-intensive as some gravies, but for a gravy made with 1 teaspoon of oil it’s darned good.

Sushi Roll Edamame Salad.  I’m no stranger to the sushi salad.  I had tried this salad previously at a potluck, so I knew how good it was, which is why I was surprised that mine didn’t taste as good.  I think I put too much green onion in the dressing (maybe my onions were particularly strong), and then added more as garnish, and the onion overpowered the whole thing.  Less green onion next time, and it will be great.

Orange-Scented Broccoli, which I served alongside the sushi salad.  This one was not my favorite; it tasted like ginger, garlic, broccoli and orange separately, as opposed to coming together as one big flavor.  It was more cohesive as leftovers the next day, after the flavors had a chance to meld.  Still, next time I would probably just steam the broccoli.

Morrocan Chickpeas & Zucchini served with Caulipots.  I used some early-season, tender zucchini in this dish.  The flavor in this soup is fantastic.  It’s really easy to make, and turns out with a really wonderful spiciness throughout.  The caulipots (mashed potatoes made partly with cauliflower) were a nice, creamy counterpart.  I looked forward to eating these leftovers each day.

Butternut-Apple Soup and Fresh Corn & Scallion Cornbread.  Sadly, this soup was another dud for me.  It’s not a bad recipe by any means, just a matter of taste.  I think I’m learning that I just don’t like apples in soup.  The cornbread was nice dipped in the soup, and the whole corn kernels made for good texture.

Lastly for today, Yam & Black Bean Soup with Orange & Cilantro.  I wasn’t expecting anything amazing from this recipe, so I was pleasantly surprised that it tastes amazing!  The simple ingredients combine to make one wonderfully tasty soup.  The two serrano peppers really turn up the heat, and the orange juice keeps it fresh.  I baked some corn tortilla chips for dipping.

Considering how much I’ve enjoyed the recipes I’ve made so far, this might be the first cookbook that I end up making almost every recipe from.

Luckily for you guys, my mom is an excellent present-buyer.  She also knew that I would love AFR, and bought me a copy for Christmas, which I am now passing on to one of you!  And, I got the book signed when I had the pleasure of attending a cooking demo that Isa did a few weeks ago.  She made the Thai Roasted Root Vegetable Curry and Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits, both of which I now want to make myself.

To enter to win this copy of Appetite For Reduction, leave a comment on this post with a healthy cooking tip.  It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just any tip for cooking healthy vegan food.  The contest will be open until midnight PST this Wednesday, March 9, and I’ll pick a comment at random.  Please be sure to include your e-mail address (unless I’m able to find it by following a link to your blog).  I’ll be back on Thursday to announce the winner and show you a few more recipes I’ve made from AFR.  Good luck!

PS – I should mention that this is open to residents of the US and Canada only.  Sorry, everyone else!  If shipping was less costly, I would love to send it around the world!

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VeganMoFo: Vegetarian Times Week – Hoppin’ John


My second choice for Vegetarian Times week was Hoppin’ John with Collard Greens from the November/December 2007 issue.  I’ve made dishes that were similar to Hoppin’ John before, but never by following a recipe, so I was interested to see what “real” Hoppin’ John tasted like.  I love the name Hoppin’ John!

I’m big into liquid smoke and use it whenever I want a smoky flavor, so using veggie bacon was an interesting change from the norm.  The recipe as printed was a little confusing – the first step is to mix a few ingredients and set aside, but then it never tells you when to add the mixture.  I added it to the rice and beans portion, since the collards already had plenty of flavoring, but it looks like the online version of the recipe is updated to add the mixture to the greens part.  Honestly, you end up mixing everything together when you eat it, so I would just put everything in the same pan instead of cooking it separately.  The good news is that it tasted really great!  It was a perfect mix of sweetness, vinegar, heat and wholesome ingredients.  My biggest complaint would be that there weren’t enough greens!  The collards wilted down so much that I would definitely recommend at least two bunches instead of one.  This is a great recipe if you’re looking for something traditional to serve on New Year’s Day.

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August CSA’s, and Getting Dave to Eat Tofu

8/12/10 CSA:  cauliflower, cucumber, bell peppers, plums, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, pears, patty pan squash, basil and a cantaloupe

Most of these veggies went into a salad that wasn’t worth mentioning, but some of them went into this.

I turned a standard tagine recipe into a stew by adding more broth and some millet.  Also included were cauliflower, carrot, chickpeas, tomatoes, peas and dried apricot.  This turned out pretty well, but the flavor was a little watered down, so I guess I didn’t compensate for the extra ingredients by adding enough spices.

8/26/10 CSA:  lemon cucumber, jalapenos, fennel, lettuce

lots of tomatoes, pears, apples, peaches and a cantaloupe

Some of these veggies went into a delicious Mexican-inspired meal which I will post about, just as soon as I get those recipes written up!

One Friday afternoon we came home from work, both ravenous.  I didn’t have anything planned for dinner and wanted to throw something together quickly, and asked Dave if he wanted to have what I was having for dinner.  When Dave is hungry and has no food in the house, it’s easy to get him to eat almost anything.

Ugly picture, tasty sandwich.  I thawed a block of tofu that had been living in the freezer for lord knows how long, and baked it with a smoky maple sauce.  Topped with a really nice tomato and crisp lettuce, and served on wheat toast with Vegenaise.  Who could say no?

I had some rice left over from Chinese takeout which was begging to be made into fried rice, so I threw it in the wok with all the veggies I had – onion, garlic, carrot, celery, tons of cabbage, edamame and broccoli.  This was light on rice and heavy on cabbage, and if I remember correctly Dave had some of it too.

Lastly, some braised mustard greens that I made to accompany some beanie weenies.  I bought the greens in a pre-washed and -chopped package from Trader Joe’s, which made ‘em that much quicker to prepare.  I started by cooking onion and garlic slowly to develop the flavor, then added the greens, a chopped tomato and a thin layer of veggie broth.  And, if I know myself at all, there was probably a bit of liquid smoke.  The greens turned out really well, and I could’ve easily eaten the entire pan at once!

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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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