Thursday, January 28, 2010

Friends + Food = Potlucks!

Potlucks: Joyous occasions when great friends and great food meet. Who could ask for anything more? For many years now potlucks have been drizzling down and I'm delighted to say that this years forecast calls for rain.
Last week I was invited to a potluck which gathers every Sunday. A wonderful weekly tradition to gather round, meet people, eat, drink, and to sound cliche, be merry!
Although this potluck wasn't strictly vegan, the vegan options were plentiful and delicious.
I contributed homemade focaccia with white bean aioli and BBQ Tofu. One vegan dish that blew my mind was a curry that featured butternut squash!
I have to say the Focaccia turned out amazing. The recipe I used comes from Dynise Balcavage's recent book, "The Urban Vegan". I'll admit, so far I haven't given this book much of a chance, to me the voice of the book is a little pretentious and who publishes a book without pictures ... !?!?!
But, tell you what, her foccacia recipe is simple, extremely easy, and completely dresses to impress.

My plate  = focaccia, aioli, bbq tofu, squash curry, bok choy with ginger, garlic, and tamari 

citrus salad

apple cake from Vegan Bites!

Grubbin' down.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chana Masala with Yellow Split Pea & Peanut Cakes

Curry n: any dish that consists of either meat, fish, poultry, legumes, vegetables, or fruits, simmered in or covered with a sauce, gravy, or other liquid that is redolent with any number of freshly ground and very fragrant spices and/or herbs. -Raghavan Iyer. 

To me, Indian cuisine had always seemed like an unattainable art. Many years back I attempted to make dahl, it turned out terrible and ever since I've steered clear of the dahls and masalas to avoid failure. Indian cuisine is definitely in my top 3 and it killed me that every time a hankering came on, I was forced to spend mucho $$ at restaurants or take-out. What was a girl to do??

Enter 660 Curries; the book that has changed my sad non-indian cuisine cooking life! This year for christmas my wonderful sister-in-law gave me "660 Curries" by Raghavan Iyer. This book is deemed "the gateway to Indian Cooking". And let me tell you, it is!!!! It's an awesome cookbook, not only are there 660 curries but also biryanis (rice-based dishes), breads, pickles, relishes, raitas (yogurt sauce), pastes, appitizers and sooo much more! This is an Indian Cuisine Bible and I just have to give a huge shout out to Mr. Iyer who was IACP's award winning teacher of the year. Now it's not geared towards vegans , and there are many poultry, beef, and seafood dishes.. . however, I bet they are easily substituted with tofu/seitan/tempeh and dairy of coarse can always be substituted by alternative milks and yogurts.

I decided to start with something simple (given my history) and a classic favorite ... Chana Masala. Then for a fun twist (and they sounded easy enough) I made Yellow Split Pea & Peanut Cakes with an awesome aioli that my dear friends and sous chefs whipped up.

I couldn't believe how simple and delicious the Chana Masala (chickpeas w/ a spicy tomato sauce) turned out. Basically it boils down to ginger and garlic sauted, throw in some coriander, turmeric, cayenne, cumin, and cilantro - add your chickpeas with tomato paste and water - cook on high until the sauce boils off and thickens and bam! Who knew?!!?!!?!

The Yellow Split Pea and Peanut Cakes (dal sengdana vadi) were a little on the dry side, but thanks to the awesome chef Lauren from Vegan Royale and our good friend Amy for their aioli saved the night. It was a perfect match and enabled us to wipe the plate clean. I don't know exactly what they put in it but it was a combination of just about everything we had lying around in the kitchen (coconut milk, ginger, garlic, cilantro, veganaise, tahini, carrots ... I know I'm missing some things, but you get the picture). The main ingredients in the cakes were yellow split peas (chana dal), raw peanuts, coconut, chilies, and ginger. Blend all together with more spices, fry up and voila! The author uses this recipe as a vegetarian answer to crab cakes. The greatest part is that the peanuts act as a binder so no flour or egg substitute is needed.

If you're into Indian Food, I highly suggest picking up a copy of 660 curries. It has tamed my fear of cooking indian cuisine and I can't wait to see what other amazing dishes will come out of it!!! I've got 659 to go!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The New year called for a New Look!!

This year for my low-budget christmas gifts, I decided to make a cookbook. The best of the best kind-of thing, recipes that I knew (or hoped) couldn't fail to impress even the meatiest of meat heads (brother-in-law). My amazing cutie-pa-tootie roommate Jameson Murphy agreed to illustrate my cookbook with his adorable drawings!
I named the book "Vegan Bites" and it consists of three different parts; little bites, big bites, and sweet bites, each only containing about 3-5 recipes. I don't mean to brag but the book came out awesome (with some help from the Howell Family) that I decided to re-name my blog, add Jamie's cute drawings, and continue to add to it for hopefully a future sequel (More Vegan Bites!).

So, Im sorry for the confusion, its the same great blog, just a new look, and a new name. Im not changing the web address which may be even more confusing, but I think yo-a'll can figure it out.

Below are some pics of the book. Let me know if any of you dear readers would like a copy - I am more than happy to share the love. (and get feedback, recipe testers, and the like.... )

table o' contents

apple cake recipe

How cute right?!
More lovely vegan food sharing to come!

Friday, January 8, 2010

A New Butter's In Town .... Spread it Around!!!

20-10: My first post of the new year! Please, please, hold your applause ... 

I am so excited about this first recipe that I have to share with you!!

A friend of mine sent this along to me and immediately after reading it, I knew exactly what was going to be for dinner that night. 

It starts with a butter. Yes, a new, beautiful butter in my now perfect world: Basil Cashew Butter. Of coarse, this in itself is delicious on anything - crackers, bread, sammies - you name it. But, not only did I get this recipe in my inbox but along with a tip for putting it on pizza! (butter and pizza, my two favorite things!) with asparagus brushed with olive oil sprinkled with koesher (I used Celtic Sea Salt) and fresh tomatoes! YUM! I also topped it off with garlic and fresh cilantro..... mmmmmMMmmmm 

So far for vegan cooking in the kitchen, the new year has been fantastic! Lets give a big thanks to the beautiful Lindsey in Minneapolis for sharing this 'pie with me and you! THANK YOU LINDSEY!

Basil Cashew Butter
(Straight from the chef...)

3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large bunch of basil
1 can of white northern beans
1 cup of raw cashews
lemon, salt, pepper to taste
put everything but cashews, lemon, salt and pepper into your food processor. after well blended, add the cashews slowly until they seem to have minimized down (to your own preference, i like them really blended, makes everything more pleasurable!)

All right - NOW that that's done, Go For it!

I used Isa's pizza crust from Vegan with a Vengeance. Once stretched and ready to go I spread the basil cashew butter as a base, topped with asparagus, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with chopped garlic and sea salt, and cilantro. Baked at 500 for about 9 minutes.  That's pizza #1 -

 for pizza #2 we got the cashew butter, then tomato paste swirled in, topped with olives, garlic, and diced tomato.