Posts Tagged soup

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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VeganMoFo: Clean Start

I don’t remember where I first heard about Terry Walters and her cookbooks Clean Food and Clean Start, but I know I was immediately intrigued by the idea of “clean food”.  While these cookbooks aren’t marketed as vegan, the recipes I have looked at in Clean Start are totally free of animal products.

The book begins by introducing a clean diet, listing the benefits, essential kitchen tools and clean ingredients.  It then lists some basics cooking techniques for grains, legumes, greens and stock.  Then we get to the recipes, divided by season, which I think is fantastic for choosing recipes to match my CSA deliveries.  Each seasonal section includes appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts.

I made the Chilled Chickpea, Tomatillo and Avocado Soup and the Green and Yellow Beans with Garlic and Herbs.  The soup was such an interesting flavor combination, with ingredients that I never would have thought to combine.  The avocado is actually cooked with the vegetables and chickpeas before pureeing and chilling.  The soup tasted almost like a really interesting flavor of hummus, and if you didn’t know what the ingredients were you might not be able to pick them out.  I reduced both the olive oil and avocado called for, and I don’t think it impacted the dish negatively.  The soup was highlighted by lime juice, fresh basil, chives and cherry tomatoes, which kept it light and fresh.

The side dish was a basic saute, heating garlic and herbs in olive oil and tossing it with steamed beans.  I loved the color of the beans, especially because I wouldn’t have gravitated toward the yellow beans on my own.

Now that I’ve dived into this book, I’m excited to try more recipes as the seasons change.  Standouts for fall include Carrot Cashew Miso Spread, Red Lentil Soup with Turnip and Parsley, Cabbage Saute with Tart Cherries and Crisp Apples, Pan-Seared Tofu with Ginger Lime Glaze, and Pumpkin Spice Muffins made of teff flour, chickpea flour and almond meal.

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VeganMoFo: Appetite For Reduction

Happy VeganMoFo!  Technically, VeganMoFo began on Saturday, but my goal is to post every weekday so I’m right on time.  Head over to VegaMoFo HQ and check out the blogroll or rss feed!

For the first week, I’m going to feature some vegan cookbooks that I’ve been cooking from recently.  First up is Appetite For Reduction.  I’ve posted about this cookbook before and have already professed my love for it; the style of cooking is how I cook when left to my own devices – low fat, lots of whole foods and lots of flavor.

Baked Falafel & Hummus Wrap.  I love these baked falafel – all the flavor and crunch without the deep frying.  I actually over-baked my falafels, so they were extra crunchy.  The hummus recipe is low-oil and tahini-free, and to be honest I missed the tahini flavor so I added a tahini sauce to my wrap.  Next time I’ll add a bit of tahini to the hummus, or try one of the suggested hummus flavors such as pizza hummus.

Hottie Black-Eyed Peas & Greens and Creamed Corn, served with patty pan squash and red onion.  The peas and greens are a one-pot dish, which is great.  I found it wasn’t quite hot enough for me, so I added more hot sauce.  The creamed corn is made from blended fresh corn, and packs so much corn flavor without much added fat.  The patty pan squash were a great, buttery complement to round out the meal.

This is Caldo Verde with Crumbled Tempeh.  Caldo verde means green soup, and the tempeh stands in for sausage here.  The recipe calls for chard or kale, but I used cabbage because I had some in the fridge.  I liked this recipe but didn’t love it, and I think the cabbage was to blame.  Between the cabbage, tempeh and fennel seeds there was a bit too much bitterness going on.  I think with some chard or kale though, it would be great.

A Bee Ell Tee, from the sandwich section.  The sandwich and bowls sections of Appetite For Reduction are a great addition, as they give you more ideas for using the recipes, and make the style of eating seem more realistic and accessible.  The Bee in a Bee Ell Tee is eggplant bacon, which I’ve posted about before.  It may not look like much in this picture, but eggplant bacon is smoky and chewy and wonderful.  I could eat a whole eggplant worth of it.  The other standout in this sandwich is the Cashew Miso Mayo.  It’s not really like mayo, but it’s a salty, tangy spread which really made the sandwich.

Here we have Buffalo Tempeh with potatoes, asparagus and Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce.  I’m in love with the buffalo tempeh and have made it multiple times now, which says a lot, since I usually only make a recipe once unless I really like it.  The cheezy sauce is easily the best quick cheese sauce I’ve had.  It comes together really quickly but doesn’t taste raw like some sauces can.

This is a Mediterranean Bowl with quinoa, spinach, chickpeas, roasted cauliflower, Caesar Chavez Dressing and a sprinkling of ground seeds.  The original bowl combination calls for bulgur, and quinoa was a good stand in.  The spinach was my addition to get something green in there, but it would have been better if it was cooked down a bit.  And of course, the Caesar Chavez Dressing tastes good on everything.

I’ve been branching out to other cookbooks recently, but I know I’ll keep coming back to Appetite For Reduction until I’ve tried almost everything.  If you’ve cooked from Appetite For Reduction too, what have been your favorites?

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32 Before 32

I was so pleased with the results of my 31 Before 31 that I am forging ahead with 32 more goals!  It’s already been two months since my 31st birthday, so I have just under ten months to work on this list.

  1. Go camping.
  2. Run a 5k.
  3. Get fitted for running shoes.
  4. Go to the deYoung.
  5. Go on a hike of at least 7 miles at Mt. Tam.
  6. Build a light box for food photography.
  7. Borrow a non-vegan cookbook from the library and try at least three recipes.
  8. Do five real push ups in a row.
  9. Finalize the list of recipes for my zine idea and work on at least five recipes.
  10. Enter all of the recipes I have printed into Living Cookbook database.
  11. Read at least chapters 5-7 of On Food and Cooking.
  12. Change blog template.
  13. Update blog roll.Build a small collection of props for food photography.
  14. Learn and use a photo-editing program.
  15. Go to a symphony concert.
  16. Finalize the list of songs for cover album project and work on arrangements.
  17. Take a day trip up or down highway 1.
  18. Go to Millennium and order the Frugal Foodie prix fix menu.
  19. Host a dinner party.
  20. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.
  21. Watch the eight movies on this list that I haven’t seen.
  22. Volunteer.
  23. Advertise chef services somewhere other than my blog.
  24. Get business cards for blog & chef business.
  25. Complete Pimsleur Spanish program.
  26. Visit a new city.
  27. Visit the Winchester Mystery House.
  28. Do a jigsaw puzzle.
  29. Play tennis.
  30. Get a canning pot and can something.
  31. Find a houseplant I can’t kill
  32. Go to a spinning class.

I’ll do my best to update at least the blog-related goals a few times as the year goes on.

And, since every good post deserves some good food, here are a few dinners I made.  No recipes, but delicious nonetheless.

Mock chicken tacos with slaw, fresh and pickled jalapenos, and refried beans.

Millet with chard, fennel, capers, white wine and hazelnuts.

Biscuits with kale, sausage and mushroom gravy.

Soba, bok choy, shiitake and edamame soup with fried onion and dulse.

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Salads & Shrimps

A while back, I had a head of cabbage in the fridge that needed to be used, so I consulted How To Cook Everything Vegetarian and turned it into Wheat Berry Salad with Cabbage and Coarse Mustard.  I added celery per Bittman’s suggest and beans for protein, and used less oil than the recipe called for.  I really liked this salad but thought the red onions were overpowering; I ended up picking them out of the leftovers.  I really need to make more recipes from this cookbook!

Bad picture of a great salad – Caesar Salad with Eggplant Bacon from Appetite for Reduction, topped with broiled blackened tofu.  I didn’t have bread to make the croutons, so I toasted some tortilla strips instead.  I super duper love this salad!  The eggplant bacon is fantastic, and the Cesar Chavez dressing has become my go-to dressing, as I always have the ingredients on hand.

Orange-strawberry salad with fava beans, pea shoots, avocado-lemon-poppy seed dressing and almonds.  I had really high hopes for this salad but the dressing was, sadly, just okay.

Onto the shrimps!  Seafood was the very last meat I gave up before going vegetarian, and I had a rough time of it.  I really liked shrimp and tuna!  I haven’t craved seafood for a really long time, but I think it’s fun to eat mock seafoods every once in a while.

Dave wanted some noodle soup one Sunday afternoon, so I made a sort of combination of this recipe and pho.  I had a package of vegetarian prawns in the freezer for a long time, so I tossed it into my portion.


The prawns were interesting – the flavor was good, but they were really big and very chewy.  Strange, for sure.

What were not strange were these breaded vegan shrimp from Sophie’s Kitchen.  Imagine my delight when I spotted an assortment of new vegan seafood in the Whole Foods freezer!  I had to try it.

These breaded vegan shrimp are similar to the prawns above in taste and texture, but because they’re smaller they’re less chewy and weird.  And, they’re breaded, and, the breading stays on!  I really liked these shrimp and will definitely purchase products from Sophie’s Kitchen again.

Lastly, I realized it’s been a long time since I posted any pictures of Jake the handsomest cat, so here you go.

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On The Road Again, Part II

For the second leg of our tour, we were away from home for four nights.  This was the part where I got to go to Portland for the first time, and I was pretty excited for that!  We got up Monday morning and headed for Eureka, CA.  Once you get past Santa Rosa there is really not very much on the way, so my lunch was what I could scrounge up at the freeway corner store.

Yum.  Actually, I had never tried the Naked gold machine before, and it was quite nice.

When we arrived in Eureka it was like a ghost town.  It was Memorial Day, and nothing seemed to be open.  We checked in at the venue, and the bartender recommended that Eureka Natural Foods might be open, mentioning that they had a deli-style area including vegan options.

I had a hard time choosing, so I got a few things.

Hugely stuffed sandwich – horseradish vegenaise, spicy mustard, carrot, cucumber, pickles, tempeh, sprouts, avocado, tomato and lettuce on sprouted wheat bread.  The sandwich guy mentioned that they marinate the tempeh in soy sauce then saute it, and he cooked it again while making the sandwich so that it was nice and crispy.

Curry tofu samosa.  This was fine, but I think it would’ve been better warm.

Corn chowder, with carrot, potato and cauliflower too.  It was rainy outside, and the soup was hot, well-seasoned and comforting.

I’m not sure I would purposefully go to Eureka again, but if I did I would make a point to stop at Eureka Natural Foods.  They had a cute little area to eat the prepared foods, and walking around I saw lots of products that I would normally buy.  They had flavors of Zevia I had never seen!

For breakfast the next morning, I tried Artisana’s Cashini Butter.  We had stayed at a Hampton Inn, so I even had the luxury of toasting my english muffin!  Cashini, which is a combo of cashew butter and tahini, is delicious!  It tastes great on its own, but would probably be even better with some jam.  I felt really healthy eating something that said “high in calcium & iron” on the package.

We stopped over for lunch in a random commercial area and settled on Pita Pit.  I lived near a Pita Pit in college and ate it a bunch (admittedly, usually the tuna, before I was vegetarian), so going there is kind of nostalgic for me.  Although they have a new spicy black bean patty which is apparently vegan, I went with the old stand-by of falafel and hummus.

We arrived in Portland and sought out a sports bar to watch the A’s game, and managed to find probably the one restaurant in the city with nothing vegan on the menu.  Even the veggie burger had egg in it.  So, plans changed and we headed down the street to La Sirenita, a taqueria with decent online reviews.

The woman at the counter helped me figure out what was vegan, and I ended up with a very tasty fajita burrito with black beans.  I know the inside of a burrito isn’t very pretty, but this one was good enough to warrant showing!

After dinner we went to the hotel, and I started narrowing down my Portland must-do short list.  We only had one day there, and you can be sure I was planning to make the most of it!

With the help of The PPK forums, I decided on Junior’s for brunch.  Junior’s is a cute little hole-in-the-wall diner in the southeast quadrant which purportedly has lines out the door on weekend mornings.  I knew the boys wouldn’t want to spend quite as long as me in the city, so I hopped on public transit and went on my own adventure.

After reading this post I had a hard time deciding on the superhero scramble or the potato plate, but I went with the scramble in the end.  I think the sausage component won me over.  This scramble had “garden sausage”, tomato and spinach, and the potatoes were well cooked and crispy.  The toast came with earth balance, and I had a happy tummy.

My next stop was walking distance from Junior’s.

The vegan mini mall!

Cute stuff from Herbivore – a tote, a t-shirt and Papa Tofu.

Haul from Food Fight – white chocolate chips, Dandies marshmallows, bulk soy curls, Dave’s Killer Bread Good Seed Peace Bomb, and a Jokerz candy bar.

While I was shopping the mini mall, the boys called and said they were on their way into town, to go to Prost!, a German beer bar and restaurant.  While Prost! sounded excellent in and of itself, it also happens to be next to the food carts where Native Bowl is located, so it was a double win for me.  I picked out some goodies at Sweetpea Baking Company and hopped in the van.

On the way, I ate this amazingly delicious apricot danish from Sweetpea.  I don’t think I’d ever had a vegan danish, and this one didn’t disappoint!

The super-flaky crust was more salty than sweet, which played perfectly off the sugary jam and glaze.

I drank a delicious wheat beer and willed my stomach to have more room in it…Around 3PM, I decided I could handle lunch before the carts closed.

Because I wasn’t very hungry, I had a hard time deciding on what to choose.  The guy working the cart helped me narrow it down, and I went with the Alberta Bowl – jasmine rice, garlic tofu, Fire Breathing Dragon Sauce, housemade furikake, shredded green cabbage, carrots and scallions.

I knew the bowl was going to be good, but didn’t know it would be THIS GOOD.  The rice and tofu were cooked perfectly, the sauce was creamy and spicy, and the raw veggies gave it the perfect crunch.  I am in love with this bowl and can’t stop thinking about trying to recreate it at home.  The bowl was so good, in fact, that Dave chose to get one for himself over the other meaty food cart options.  He said his Couch Bowl was maybe a tad too spicy, but other than that he enjoyed it.

After some time driving around and checking out Powell’s (which might be the biggest bookstore ever), we decided to go back to the hotel to rest up before the show.  I had one more item on my short list of must-dos to take care of first.

Homegrown Smoker, ya’ll.  I couldn’t possibly fit anything else in my belly at that point, so we took it to go.

The entire menu looked fantastic, but their sandwich special made ordering easy.  (I did not get the fried oreos.  Even on vacation, I’m not sure I could let myself get fried oreos…)

This sandwich was seriously amazing.  The bread was really sturdy and somehow held all the fillings together.  The smoked soy curls were possibly the closest thing to meat that I’ve had since being vegetarian/vegan, texture- and taste-wise.  The mac and cheese was really good; it seemed like they sauced it once when making it, then sauced it again when plating, which made it really creamy.  I would compare the flavor to Souley Vegan’s mac.

My stomach was starting to protest at this point, but I couldn’t not eat this peanut butter brownie that I had bought at  Sweetpea earlier.  That would just be ridiculous.

After eating my way through Portland I was pretty pooped, so I got a soy latte at Stumptown Coffee Roasters before the show.  Even though it was ordered to go, the barista poured this cute little soy heart on top.

As expected, I pretty much fell in love with Portland and can’t wait to go back in August for Vida Vegan Con!

Breakfast on the way to Seattle was Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter on Good Seed bread.  Separately they are wonderful, and together it was the best breakfast ever.  I’m pretty sure you could ice a cake with the hazelnut butter, it’s so sweet and rich.  The bread is chunky with seeds and whole grains, and almost tastes buttery on its own.  I want to hire Dave to live in my house and bake bread every day.

Arriving in Seattle after a few hours, it was high time for lunch.  We drove by the venue just to check it out, and as you so often do on tour, we ate at the closest decent-looking restaurant.  This one had a big Pho sign in the window, which was enough to draw us in.

I started with fresh rolls of fried tofu, sweet potato, carrot, noodles and lettuce, with peanut sauce.

Tofu pho – I was excited to see actual vegetables in the bowl!  This was pretty good for your standard veggie pho.

A few of us had never been to Seattle, so of course we had to check out the Space Needle and Pike’s Market.  We had a very confusing bus ride back.  There was a sign over the place where you pay that said something to the effect of “pay as you get off”, but then nobody ever asked for money.  If Seattle doesn’t want my two dollars, they’re not getting it!

photo by Eric Atria

Most of the gang had pizza by the slice for dinner, and I convinced Stacie from Morningbell to take a hike with me to check out Cyber Dogs, a vegetarian internet cafe serving international gourmet hot dogs.  Intriguing, right?  I couldn’t decide between two dogs, so I just got both!

(iPhone pictures because my memory card was full)

Chicago-style dog – brat with dill pickle spear, tomato, pickled peppers, celery salt and mustard.  We realized after being served that these were not hot dogs you pick up and eat.  Stacie ordered a chili cheese dog, and couldn’t even see the dog under all the chili!  This dog was really tasty and I loved the pickle spear.  My only complaint is that there was a whooole lot of mustard, and I am generally a mustard lover.

Hungarian Goulash Dog.  I really only needed one dog for dinner, but this one was too amazingly weird not to try.  Potatoes, “beef”, celery, carrots and noodles stewed with Hungarian spices and topped with “bacon” and kraut.  There’s a hot dog and bun under all that, and there were actually lasagna-style noodles and veggie bacon lining the bun, and some sort of liquid pooling in the bottom.  Despite the wackiness, this actually tasted really good.  I couldn’t tell the potatoes from the beef from the vegetables, but I forged on and got through about half of it.  I would say it’s worth trying if you’re looking for something different.

We had a place to stay in Seattle, but decided to drive home through the night instead.  We just wanted to get back home.  The snacks I had packed came in handy, especially the ProBar.  Tour isn’t always the most convenient form of vacation, but I had a great time, saw some new places, and ate some great food!

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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: Thanksgiving 2010

We originally invited four friends over for Thanksgiving but only one could make it, so we had a small, relaxed gathering.  We set the table up behind the couch for easy football watching during dinner – excellent.

Our appetizer was Pepper Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese, balsamic roasted figs, and crackers.  The cheese log was AWESOME.  I super heart it.  The recipe is C’est La Vegan’s adaptation of the Vegetarian Times recipe, and I really appreciated the extra commentary and directions that she provided.  I was worried that my cheese wasn’t going to hold together because it didn’t drain off much liquid and felt soft coming out of the oven, but it held together well enough to transfer to the platter, and the consistency was perfectly spreadable.  I would highly recommend giving this a try if you like tangy, spreadable, delicious vegan cheese.  The recipe seems lengthy, but it doesn’t have to be; I soaked the cashews while at work the day before, blended it that night and let it sit overnight, then baked it in the morning.

The figs were tossed with a bit of balsamic, olive oil and salt and baked at 350 for about 25 minutes.  They weren’t a huge hit with Dave or our guest, but I liked them well enough.

I also put out a bowl of sweet ‘n spicy mixed nuts, which I over baked a little.  Oops…

I wanted to serve soup and salad, and kept the servings small so that we wouldn’t fill up before the main event.

Chestnut & Celeriac Soup with Sherry-Cider Reduction.  As I said in the recipe post, I put a bit too much reduction on the soup – It really only needs a small drizzle.

Chopped Salad with “Honey”-Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette.  I planned to make this for Thanksgiving ever since it went over so well at our Showcase dinner.  I substituted agave for the honey, and left out the apples and avocado.  I can see how it would be even better with avocado.  Neither of the guys ate their entire salad, but they both said they liked it, which is really impressive for a salad containing both raw kale and brussels sprouts.

There was so much food, we used every surface.  Dave did make a turkey with gravy and non-vegan stuffing, but other than that, everything was vegan!

He also made a vegan oyster mushroom stuffing, which was really nice because it was one less dish I had to worry about.  And as a bonus, it was really good!  Earth Balance, onion, celery, oyster mushrooms, fresh sage, thyme and rosemary, stale bread cubes, and unchicken broth.

Mound of mashed potatoes with Earth Balance, truffle salt and almond milk.

Green Bean Casserole, topped with French’s fried green beans as opposed to freshly fried onions, at Dave’s request.  While I do like my version with homemade crispy onions, I also have to admit that the French’s onions are quite excellent for this purpose.

Orange-Cranberry Sauce.  I wasn’t going to make any cranberry sauce this year because it’s not our favorite part of the meal, but my CSA sent me a package of fresh cranberries the week before, so what choice did I have?  I set out to make a mold, but it didn’t set up enough, so I called it a smooth sauce.  No recipe – I just cooked the cranberries with the juice of two oranges and zest of one, adding a pinch of salt and a squeeze of agave nectar.  They simmered just until soft, then I blended the mixture and returned it to the pot, adding a few Tablespoons of agar flakes and some maple syrup.  It tasted nice, but I was sad when the mold didn’t hold its shape.

My entree was the Nut Roast Extraordinaire that I froze a few weeks ago, on the plate with corn and Our Veggie Kitchen’s Turkey Gravy.  The gravy actually did kinda taste like turkey!  Granted, it’s been a long time since I had turkey.  While it wasn’t my favorite gravy ever, it’s definitely worth a try if you’re looking for a vegan turkey gravy.

All together.

Dessert was Pumpkin Pie from the Mission:  Impossible Pies e-book, served with Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Vanilla Ice Cream.  Dave wanted a store-bought pie and was suspicious when he heard that our pie wasn’t going to have any crust, but in the end he admitted that this version was good too.  He certainly didn’t complain while we ate the leftovers!

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VeganMoFo: Flavor Bible Week – Chestnuts

I think after planning, cooking, eating and cleaning up after Thanksgiving dinner I was just not in the mood to write about food for a day or two.  So, I’m back for the fourth installment of Flavor Bible Week – chestnuts!

I do not believe that I had ever had a chestnut in my life until this week.  I really didn’t know what they were or how to prepare them, so I did a lot of research online to make sure I was treating them correctly.  I had been seeing a lot of chestnut bisques online recently, so I thought a soup would go over well.  I wanted to make the soup uber-delicious in order to use it for a Thanksgiving starter, and the good news is that it turned out really well.  I was inspired by this recipe, as well as the recipe in the Millennium Cookbook, and ended up using eleven flavor matches:  apple cider, bay leaf, “butter”, celery root, “milk”, nutmeg, onions, pepper, sherry, sugar and thyme.  In perusing the flavor matches, I noticed that chestnuts could go with a lot of savory flavors, or a lot of sweet, so I decided on a savory soup with a sweet topping.

First, let’s talk about ingredients.  I know celery root, or celeriac, isn’t a widely used ingredient, but I think it should be!  They’re not very pretty…

…but they’re very tasty.  Celery root is kind of like a mild root vegetable with a celery flavor, and would complement anything that celery normally goes with.  Once you peel away the skin and the nubby parts, you’re left with a white, starchy veggie that is easy to prepare.

Now, the chestnuts.  I was actually hoping to find either jarred or dried chestnuts to make my life easier, but lucky me, I could only find fresh.  So, I looked up instructions and roasted them in the oven.

They cooked up okay, but they were a total pain in the butt to peel.  I think maybe if I had made the cuts larger, the skin could have come off more on its own and the peeling would have been easier.  As it was, it took me about three hours to peel while I was watching The Walking Dead.  Here’s what I ended up with:

Not very pretty, but they sure are tasty.

For the sweet topping, I wanted to make a gastrique.  A gastrique is just a fancy word for a wine/vinegar reduction made with fruit and maybe some sugar.  One of the flavor matches for chestnuts is prunes, which I think are an under appreciated ingredient in general, so I set out for a prune gastrique.  The problem turned out to be that the prunes sucked up all the juice, which I really could have anticipated it I thought about it.  If I had a high-speed blender I could’ve turned it into a puree, but my blender aint that strong.  So, I just accepted that the gastrique didn’t work and scraped out the few drops that I could for my first taste:

While the soup isn’t the prettiest color, it tastes awesome.  It’s creamy yet thick, and subtly flavored with the richness of chestnuts and that hint of celery flavor.  The gastrique added that little touch of sweet and sour which set of the soup perfectly.  To serve on Thanksgiving, I made a reduction of the same ingredients without the prunes, and this turned out good as well.  I probably put too much of the reduction on our Thanksgiving portions – it really only needs a small drizzle so you get the sweetness in a few bites, but not in others.  I promise, it tastes much better than it looks!

Chestnut & Celeriac Soup with Sherry-Cider Reduction

If you’re not into the sweet topping, some thinly sliced, crispy fried mushrooms would be a nice alternative.  If you can’t find fresh chestnuts or don’t want to bother peeling them, use about half the amount of dried chestnuts, or a drained jar of chestnuts.  The soup reheats well, so feel free to make it the day before serving, but I would recommend making the reduction just before service.

2 Tbs Earth Balance
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch sea salt
2 celeriac, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
1 lb fresh chestnuts, roasted and peeled
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh thyme
2 quarts vegetable broth
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
dash ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp white pepper
Reduction:
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
pinch sea salt
2 Tbs sugar

1. Melt the Earth Balance in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, leek, garlic and pinch of salt and saute for 12-14 minute, until onions are translucent and leeks are soft.
2. Add the celeriac, chestnuts, bay leaf, thyme and vegetable broth.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Uncover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about 40 minutes, until celeriac is easily pierced with a fork.
3. Meanwhile, make the reduction:  Combine all ingredients (apple cider through sugar) in a small pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until the mixture is reduced enough to cling to the bottom of the pot when tilted.  The reduction should drizzle easily off of a spoon.  If you reduce the mixture too much, add a Tablespoon or two of water and stir well to thin.  Remove from the heat when it is the right consistency.
4. Remove soup from the heat and discard bay leaf and thyme sprig.
5. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches if necessary.  Add the milk and blend until completely smooth.
6. Wipe out the pot if needed, and transfer the soup back to the pot.  Add the nutmeg and white pepper and stir.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
7. Gently reheat the soup and serve warm, topped with a small drizzle of the reduction.

Servings: 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 311.2
Calories From Fat (20%) 60.69
% Daily Value
Total Fat 6.79g 10%
Saturated Fat 1.42g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 231.35mg 10%
Potassium 685.05mg 20%
Total Carbohydrates 57.17g 19%
Fiber 2.11g 8%
Sugar 6.85g
Protein 5.67g 11%

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