Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A little Cilantro love

A dinner staple at our house is Isa and Terri's Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon. They are a breeze to whip up, can be baked or fried, and used in dishes across the board. This time around I decided to add chipotle to them for an extra kick and made a delicious cooling cilantro aioli to dollop on top. Cilantro, an herb that is used all around the world, comes to us from the coriander seed. These little sprigs are also known to have aphrodisiac qualities, so please, spread the love around.

Cilantro Aioli
(makes about two cups)

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp. brown rice syrup
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup water (more or less depending on thickness)
  • juice from 1 lime
Place all ingredients in high speed blender and have at it!
Serve on chipotle chickpea cutlets or use as a dip or spread for sammies.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Carat of Carob Please

Carob is a foreign pod to most Americans; however, this sweet little pea has gained quite the reputation among the the vegan and health-conscious communities.  Usually used as an alternative to chocolate, carob has been wrapped around raisins, powdered on pastries, and stirred into sweets as a rich, all-natural dairy free substitute.

Carob, like chocolate, is a legume. It is the fruit of the carob tree, Ceratonia siliqua, a member of the pea family.  Native to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, these sweet pods are very popular across the pond and used in a number of dishes and desserts. The genus is derived from the Greek word for carob - keration. Back in the day (and by that I mean thousands of years ago) they weighed gold and gemstones against carob seeds, thus deeming the term "carat," from the Greek keration. With modern advances, the carob beans were left to be eaten and the carat was standardized to .2 grams.

Lia stopped in our favorite Middle Eastern market, Bitar's, and picked up some Carob Molasses.
Carob Molasses has proved itself as my new favorite sweetener. Also, mix it with tahini and it makes a killer breakfast spread.

 Carob molasses is made by soaking milled carob pods in water, straining the liquid, and boiling it down until it forms a thick, dark syrup. That's right: No cane sugar, thickeners, or any other ingredients, just pure, sweet, delicious carob.
Lia in front of a Ceratonia siliqua in Schinos, Greece.

Fresh-off-the-tree carob pod.

I decided to calm my craving for pizza with a Middle Eastern spin, and instead of using tomato sauce, I spread on some of this new sweet love. Paired with caramelized onions and red peppers, this pizza turned out absolutely delicious! And of course, we all know the rules to pizza making:
1. has to be made with friends
2. consumed with a nice cold bubbly beverage 
3. you can't make just one.

Along with the carob 'za, we put together a lovely veggie with broccoli, tofu ricotta, and roma tomatoes, and a portobello and onion 'za, both with red sauce.

Carob 'Za!
Look at that team work - just screams fun.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spanakopita = Spinach Pie!

My apologies for the long delay in posts, but as always I have a viable excuse: I'm in Greece!
This is the land of meat and cheese, I don't even bother saying vegan because it doesn't mean anything here. Even with the word "vegetarian," we are greeted with quizzical stares and many questions of how and why. But one word that has gotten us through thick and thin - Spanakopita. The ever wonderful hand filled pocket pie packed with spinach, leeks, and dill.

Currently we are staying on an organic farm full of orange and olive trees, an acre of fresh greens, and veggie patches galore. Our host is a real "DIY" guy (we call him D) and even has us grinding wheat for bread. It's been absolutely lovely. We will return stateside March 3, so be on the look out for more deliciousness from some ordinary vegans reaching beyond the imaginary cuisine. (sooo excited to cook and bake again, its going to be great folks!)

Here are some of the pictures from the adventures thus far... ENJOY! 

Homemade Spanakopita - there was a little feta sprinkled in, but have no fear, we picked it up from the local shepherd!

All of the happy little goats! These billies roam the beautiful lush hills all day. On a hike in the nearby mountains we ran into a mother giving birth au naturel.

Fresh picked oranges (navel), mandrins, and lemons. Since Feb. 1st I have consumed 107 oranges.

D loves mushrooms! Every time we go for a hike he's in the woods searching. Here's a Saffron Cap.

Deb, Lia, and D showing big love for the big bread.

Melomakaronas. The best cookie in the world.

Home for the past 3 weeks...

Homemade bread and baked olives, the go-to snack, lunch, breakfast, etc ..

Shelling beans.

How can you not eat more than 5 of these a day!?!

Lia cleaning horta (greens) for dinner.

Whole grain wheat berries = whole grain wheat flour. Voila!

Fresh carob - it's super sweet.

...so many olives to be picked.

Step 1. Clean olives.

Step 2. Put the olives in a sewn-shut pair of pants with salt and shake shake shake for 10 days straight! (curing)

Another find - Hedgehogs!

Underside of Hedgehogs.

D lived in Portland for 20 years and was craving chocolate covered raisins for our "movie night," so we made our own! SO easy and delicious when using real 70% dark chocolate.