Saturday, March 31, 2007

But This Doesn't Taste Vegan!: White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup

This is the Best. Soup. Ever.

Hands down.

It's no secret that I heart garlic soups. I've been known to chose restaurants solely on the fact that they have garlic soup.

I had been meaning to try this soup. I've had the ingredients for weeks now, but after the disastrous potato-asparagus soup of last weekend I was eager to make something edible.

White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup from "Vegan With a Vengeance" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium-sized onion,, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
A few dashed fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
4 cups of vegetable broth, or 2 bouillon cubes dissolved in 4 cups of water
3 cups cooked great northern white beans, drained (or canned beans drained and rinsed)
3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
2 heads garlic, roasted

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel off as much of the papery skin as you can and put the garlic in the oven for about 30 minutes. Removed from oven and, when cool, squeeze the garlic out or peal the skin away from each clove.
2. While garlic is roasting, saute the onions in olive oil for 5-7 minutes in a stockpot over medium heat (I accidentally used high heat and burned some onions)
2. Add the salt, pepper, and fennel seeds; saute for one minute. Add the broth, beans, sage, and bay leaf, bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
3. Remove bay leaf
4. Add the roasted garlic and puree in batches in a blender or food processor.
5. Return to the pot and add lemon juice. Serve garnished with fennel leaves if you have some, and /or some peeled carrot and/or parsley.

A few things:
1. I couldn't find canned great white northern beans for the life in me. Since I am too lazy to soak beans, I substituted Goya small white beans. I don't know what the difference is.
2. I didn't have fennel seeds, or fennel leaves for that matter. I did have some leftover fennel powder from a previous recipe, so I used a 1/2 teaspoon of that. I figured since I have to blend everything, it shouldn't make a difference. Right?
3. To make your life easier invest in a valdalia onion chopper and an immersion blender. You'll have to halve or quarter the onion to get it to dice, but it's worth it. And with the immersion blender you don't have to worry about spilling the soup when pouring it into a blender.
4. When squeezing the lemon to make juice, it's probably not a good idea to do so over the soup because lemon seeds may accidentally fall into it and create an unpleasant surprise later.
5. I only used about a head of garlic. I thought two heads was a little much. A head of garlic is the bulb, right?
5. Make a double batch. It's that good.

Finally, since it's Spring - toss out your old spices. Pretty much everything loses it's potentcy after 6-12 months with the exception of cinnamon. That lasts a little bit longer.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I Can't Believe it's Vegan: Potato-Asparagus Soup

To be honest, asparagus is not one of my favorite vegetables. Maybe it's the whole "it makes your pee smell funny" thing. Or the fact that pretty much only half of a stalk is edible.

But asparagus symbolizes that Spring has arrived, at least in the Supermarket. Of course as I post this, there are snow clouds overhead. Asparagus reminds me of flowers (they're related to the lily). I like that.

So I found a recipe in my "Vegan with a Vengeance" cookbook simply titled "Potato-Asparagus Soup." Pretty much all the main ingredients were asparagus, potatoes, and an onion, along with some vegetable broth. It looked easy.

Psych!

This soup seriously took two hours to make from start to finish. Why? Perhaps it was the fact I had to peel a dozen potatoes and then cut them into 1 inch cubes and cook them before I could start the rest of the soup. It was annoying to say the least.

Potato-Asparagus Soup from "Vegan with a Vengeance" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Serves 6

Ingredients
3 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled, cut into one inch chunks
1 pound of asparagus, rough ends discarded, tips cut into 2 inch pieces, lower part cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
A few dashes of black pepper

4 cups vegetable broth, or 2 bouillon cubes dissolved in 4 cups of water
2 bay leaves
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Directions
1. Place potatoes in a stockpot and cover with cold water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Add the asparagus, boil for 3 minutes, drain, and set aside.
2. Rinse out same pot, and then saute the onion in olive oil for 5 to 5 minutes; add garlic, salt and black pepper,; and saute for 2 more minutes.
3. Add the broth and bay leaves, boil for ten minutes, discard the bay leaves.
4. Add the potatoes and asparagus, heth through, then puree three-quarters of the soup in a blender or food processor.
5. Reheat if necessary.
6. Add a squeeze of lemon and serve garnished with fresh dill.

To be honest, I made a few mistakes while making this. #1 I didn't cut the asparagus into the right size pieces, but it didn't matter. #2 I accidentally pureed the whole thing. Whoops.

There was not a picture accompanying the soup, so I have no idea what it was supposed to look like, but by pureeing all of it, I turned it into a thick greenish soup. It looks like pea soup but smells like grass. And it doesn't taste bad. I even ate some cold this morning. Though, because of it's thickness, I'll likely add water or soymilk to it so that it goes down.



I won't be making it again. It took too long. But I will say the best part of making the soup was using my new immersion blender. I didn't have to worry about spillage when transferring it into a blender.

Finally, an update on the lemon-poppy seed muffins: I made 3 dozen last night, including a batch of whole wheat ones that were really tasty.

PS- I had leftover soup for lunch and this time added vegan sour cream, fakin' bacon, and chives, and it was a zillion times better.

Photos to come soon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I can't believe it's vegan (no, really!): Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I like muffins. Well, not as much as cupcakes, but they come in a close second or third. Sometimes I pretend like I'm really eating cake for breakfast (which is only allowed on birthdays).

I saw this recipe a few weeks ago, and thought it sounded good. Then this morning before work I decided I needed muffins. Plus they're wicked easy to make. And yummy. Did I mention that?

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
From "Vegan with a Vengeance's" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (special thanks to Sharona who surprised me with the cookbook last week).

Makes 1 Dozen Muffins

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I actually skipped the whole wheat four this time)
1/4 cup of sugar (I use Splenda for Baking)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup rice or soy milk (I like Silk)
1 (6-ounce) container plain or vanilla soy yogurt (Silk again, I used plain, but opt for vanilla if you want sweeter muffins)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (two lemons worth. It's a pain in the butt to zest, but without them it'd be just poppy seed muffins and that's just lame)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (I used 1 1/2 tablespoons)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (unless you have a gas oven like me. In that case, wait until you're ready to pop the muffins in, so you don't have to worry about accidentally gassing yourself or turning your kitchen into a furnace).
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk (keyword there. No blending yet) together the oil, soy milk, yogurt, and vanilla.
4. Add the lemon zest to the wet ingredients.
5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry; halfway through mixing, fold in the poppy seeds.
6. Spray a twelve muffin tin with non stick spray and fill each cup 2/3.
7. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve warm.


I love, love, love these. It took a lot of self control not to eat the muffins as soon as they were done. I recommend you make a double or triple batch, because they're so tasty.

They're almost better than cupcakes.

Almost.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I can't believe it's vegan! "Eggs" Benedict

It's no secret that brunch is my favorite meal of the day next to dessert. I take my brunch foods very seriously, especially eggs Benedict. In fact, I spent the better part of last summer and fall searching for the best eggs Benedict in Boston. As of this post, I haven't found it yet. To date the best eggs Benny I ever had was in Seattle at the Green Lake Bar and Grill. There was salmon on it. It was heaven on an English muffin.

In the 3 1/2 weeks I've been practicing veganism, I've been dreaming of eggs Benny. I close my eyes and picture the moment I slice into the egg on top and the yoke comes gushing down the side of the muffin.

To combat this craving I started searching for a vegan version of it. None of my vegan cookbooks touched the topic but I found a few recipes online that looked worthy of trying.

I found this on vegcooking.com.

'Eggs' Benedict
"Baked tofu, egg less hollandaise sauce, veggie bacon, and fresh tomatoes top a toasted English muffin for a delicious vegan version of a French classic."

Makes 8 servings

1 lb. extra firm tofu
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp. nondairy margarine
8 oz. nondairy sour cream (Tofutti has a pretty good one)
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 vegan English muffins, toasted (or 8 slices of toast) (note: I found vegan/raw English muffins at Whole Foods. They're called Ezekiel spouted muffins)
8 slices of faux Canadian bacon (I couldn't find any, so I used fake bacon)
8 slices of tomato

1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Drain the tofu, cut it into 8 slices, and arrange it in a single layer in an oiled 9”x13” baking dish.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, and olive oil and pour the mixture over the tofu. Bake the tofu for 20 minutes, basting it occasionally and turning it over after 10 minutes. Pour off any excess liquid and bake the tofu for a few more minutes—until it is brown and crispy. (Chef's note, I baked my tofu for about 25 minutes.)
3. To make the hollandaise sauce, melt the nondairy margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the nondairy sour cream, paprika, nutmeg, cayenne, and lemon juice. Make sure that the mixture is heated through but don’t allow it to boil.
4. Top each English muffin half or slice of toast with a slice of tofu, Canadian “bacon,” and tomato, and a generous spoonful of hollandaise sauce. Serve immediately.

Now this was not a quick breakfast. It took me about 40 minutes from start to finish. Also, since I wasn't feeding a small vegan army, I halved the recipe so that I could have leftovers for the next day.

I won't lie, it didn't really taste like eggs Benny. The hollandaise sauce tasted a little weird, maybe because I added too much Cayenne. Or maybe because there was the lack of egg factor.

But the tofu came out perfect. I'd never baked tofu before, so I was worried I'd ruin it. I think the baked tofu was the best part.

Will I make this again? Not on my life. There are some foods that should not be veganized and eggs Benny is one of them. Seriously. You can bet it'll be the first thing I eat as soon as Lent is up (even if I keep on being a veganite).

And I did eat the leftovers the next day, even though this wasn't my favorite.


Coming soon: vegan lemon poppy seed muffins!

I can't believe it's vegan: easy black bean soup

Last week I had a random craving for black bean soup but I didn't want to go grocery shopping to buy ingredients. After scouring the web for a few minutes I came across this recipe, and I miraculously had all of these ingredients in my possession.


From vegfamily.com


Easy Black Bean Soup


Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups water
15 oz can black beans, not drained
14 oz can diced tomatoes, not drained
1/3 cup rice
salt and ground cayenne, to taste


Directions:
1. Saute the onion in a large pot. When it is soft and slightly browned, add the garlic and saute a minute longer.

2. Add water, beans, tomatoes, and rice. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium.
3. Simmer until rice is done (at least 45 minutes for brown rice).
4. Add salt and cayenne and puree soup with a hand blender, blender, or food processor.


Variations: I spaced during step 4 and did not puree the soup. In retrospect I don't think it was necessary. The soup might have tasted the same, but it wouldn't have been as pretty.

I also added an additional 1/2 cup of rice because I totally heart rice. I recommend going with the long grain brown rice if you're not in a rush. It tastes even better with freshly sliced avocados.

Serve with warm whole wheat tortillas or crumble a few tortilla chips into the soup for an added kick.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Future Attractions

I apologize for my absence- even Wicked Good Cooks need a vacation from the kitchen every now and then.

While on the West Coast I indulged in vegan donuts (they taste like the real thing), muffins, and cupcakes (very crumbley, but still delicious) and my weight in french fries and grilled vegetables.

But now I'm back and ready to get my fake bacon shakin'.

Coming soon: vegan black bean soup, vegan eggs benedict, and more!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Hamantaschen for Purim

Happy Purim! It was a couple of days ago, so I dutifully made a double recipe of prune hamantaschen, which I then shared with my bachelor uncle, my Mom and Gramma in Florida, and everyone at work. Purim's all about bringing food and joy to others. I wanted to make poppyseed ones too, but sadly they were out of the stuff at the supermarket.

Hamantaschen (Gramma's recipe, sort of)
oven at 350

2 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbs milk
1 can Solo prune, poppy, or other fruit filling (usually in the Jewish section of markets)

Stir together the first five ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add eggs and milk and mix until dough binds together. Knead it a bit. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out circles with a 3-inch round cookie cutter (I use a glass). Put 1 tsp filling in center of each circle. Bring three edges of circle together in the middle to form a triangle, leaving a hole in the center. Squeeze tight so they don't fall apart in the oven. (This is easier than it sounds!) Place on greased baking sheets.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

All too soon, it will be Passover, and then you can learn my secret recipe for farfel kugel. And how I get my matzah balls to be oh-so-fluffy!

Friday, March 2, 2007

roasted veggie "lasagna"

It's not a lasagna at all, but it's all nicely layered, and you can cut yourself squares of it. It's lasagna-esque. I've had this for lunch for the past couple days with some leftover white bean dip on crackers, and it's just lovely.

Slice very thinly: white potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, onions
(enough to fill a 9-by-11 lasagna pan)

Put in a layer of the root veggies, mixed or not. (I did every vegetable in turn.)

Add a layer of onions, along with sliced garlic, salt and pepper, thyme, and a drizzling of olive oil. (I used a garlic salt mill a friend gave me, which I never thought I'd use, but there you go.)

Add another layer of root veggies. And then some more onions and olive oil. Repeat. End with more salt and pepper and thyme.

Bake at 350, covered for the second half, until a fork goes in easily. It should take between an hour and an hour an a half.

A great way to use up all those root vegetables!