Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm back!!

After a lovely 5 days on the beaches of Florida, we are back home and back to cooking! Actually, we cooked all but a couple of our meals while on vacation but I am back to my own beloved kitchen and pantry staples and it is so good to be home! I made two fabulous meals today - and after a few meals of mediocre status in the last couple of weeks, I was so happy! I guess that's the hard part about trying so many new recipes - you are bound to make several that are just "ok". Anyway - my 2 meals today were outstanding in my opinion!! For lunch I made an adapted version of Pine-Nut Crusted Gardein from Conscious Cook (the picture isn't great but it really was delish!) and for dinner I made a polenta dish that was a perfect meal for my gluten-intolerant father-in-law (who came to dinner tonight!). I am loving polenta more and more! I always loved eating it at my sister's house (she makes really great polenta and makes it quite frequently in fact!) but up until a couple weeks ago had never tried it myself. Mmmm - so yummy! Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the polenta and when I realized, there were no leftovers to photograph! Oh well.

I find recipes in the Conscious Cook to be pretty detailed and lengthy. I have abbreviated this recipe and also modified it in several places so the recipe is not as it appears in the book!

Pine-nut-and-basil Seared Gardein With Lobster Mushroom Beurre Blanc
For the "Chicken"
1 cup toasted almonds (instead of using the outrageously pricey pine nuts!!)
1 cup flour
1 T dried basil
8 (2 oz) Gardein frozen scaloppini, thawed
Sea salt and black pepper
4 T canola oil

Place almonds, flour, and basil in food processor and pulse until coarsely crumbled. Place in pie plate. Flatten scaloppini with your hand to 1/2 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. Press each side into crumb mixture. Heat oil in skillet and pan-fry fillets until golden. Keep warm.

For the mushroom beurre blanc
1 t olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
8 oz package of button mushrooms, sliced (I chose to slice instead of chop finely because my family doesn't like mushrooms and bigger pieces are easier to pick out!)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup cashew cream (see recipe below)
2 T nutritional yeast
6 T Earth Balance

Heat oil in skillet. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add mushrooms and saute 2-3 min. Add broth and cook until reduced by half. Add cashew cream and cook 5 min. Whisk in nutritional yeast. Remove from heat and stir in Earth Balance 1 T at a time.

Top scaloppini pieces with mushroom sauce and serve.

His version is much more elegant and looks far more beautiful but I used what I had and didn't purchase some of the pricier ingredients (pine nuts and lobster mushrooms) but this was truly an incredibly delicious meal!! My 4 yr old loved the "chicken" and told me he loved it so much! Thrilled my little vegan-cook's heart!!

Polenta and Veggies (Source: The Complete Vegan Cookbook)3 T olive oil
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 t fennel seeds
1/2 t dried chili flakes
1 EACH red, green, yellow pepper, sliced
1 8 oz package mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1/2 t dried rosemary
1/4 t salt
1 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
6 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups uncooked polenta

Heat the oil in a skillet. Stir in garlic, onion, fennel and chili flakes. Cook until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms and peppers and continue to saute about 1-2 min. Add parsley, rosemary, 1/4 t salt, and 1 cup broth. Cook about 10 min or until liquid has reduced to about half. Set aside and keep warm.

Bring the remaining broth to a boil. Pour in polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 20 min. When polenta begins to pull away from sides, it is done.

To serve, spoon polenta into bowls and top with veggies.

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Crispy Herbed Potato Stack

Crispy Herbed Potato Stack
I was going to try a recipe for herbed scalloped potatoes and at last minute decided to do something fast and easy. I made up the recipe and it was yummola! I layered sliced russet potatoes in a baking dish, drizzled with olive oil, and then sprinkled with coarse sea salt, fresh ground pepper, basil, rosemary, paprika, and garlic powder. Then I baked them at 425 fr about 45 minutes. They were crisp and very flavorful!

My thrown-together salad today - after discovering I had no leftovers for lunch!

Tamale Fixings

Tamale Fixings
Plain pintos (for Keith), pintos, corn and onions; corn, jalepenos and Daiya; mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, and chard

Making these was a bit time-consuming but kinda fun! They didn't turn out as good as I had hoped - the outer tamale part (not the filling) just wasn't as flavorful as tamales I have had in restaurants. I have another recipe I will try for the dough next time. Tamales are one of my favorite foods so I won't give up on this one!

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes
I modified one of my favorite pancake recipes to make it vegan and then I added blueberries. Turned out quite yummy. Soymilk sours and thickens well - very similar to buttermilk. I have been really impressed with it's ability to substitute for real buttermilk.

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes

Egg replacement for 1 egg
1 1/4 cups soured soy milk (put 2 T vinegar into a 2 cup glass measuring cup. Add enough soy milk to equal 1 1/4 cups)
2 T canola oil
1 cup flour (I wouldn't recommend whole wheat or whole wheat pastry - it really takes away from the fluffiness of these pancakes)
1 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
Blueberries, optional

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Heat griddle pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Sprinkle blueberries on pancakes after ladling onto griddle. Cook just until golden on both sides.

Veggie and Seitan Lo Mein

Veggie and Seitan Lo Mein
Overall, this was fabulous! However, I don't think the seitan added much so I would just leave it out next time. The lo mein also needed about double the sauce so I would simply do that next time for added flavor. This was especially spicy and yummy with some Sriracha drizzled on top. I made our favorite veg egg rolls to go with this and it was truly a Chinese treat!!

Veggie Seitan Lo Mein

I really did my own thing for this recipe so I am just going to outline the instructions and include the sauce recipe. I heated oil in a large skillet and added 3 minced cloves of garlic and about 1 cup of half-moon cut onions (I was out of green onions but next time I would use green onions as I like them a lot in Chinese food) and about 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots. After about 5-6 minutes, I added about 1/4 lb of whole green beans. I cooked these veggies until tender. Meanwhile, I cooked a 16oz package of chow mein noodles. Once the veggie mixture was cooked, I poured the sauce on the veggies, heated through and tossed with the noodles. Next time I would double the amount of sauce and have adjusted amounts below to reflect double recipe.

Sauce (Source:Adaptable Feast)
3 T soy sauce
3 T rice wine (I used 3 T rice vinegar and 1 t sugar as I didn't have any rice wine)
3 t sugar
4 T black bean garlic sauce
Mix all ingredients and toss with above mixture.

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth
Pretty yummy. I found that steaming the wontons worked much better than the recipe suggestion to boil them. The broth was very mild and a bit too mellow for us. Still pretty yummy though. I added extra veggies to the wontons and scallion to the broth. The seasoning in the wonton filling was quite tasty!

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth (Source: Vegan Yum Yum)

(As usual, I modified several things so it's not exactly the recipe in Vegan Yum Yum!)

1 cup chopped broccoli
3/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 T oil
1 t fresh ginger, minced
1 clove fresh minced garlic
1/2 t hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
1 t hot Chinese mustard
2 T plus 1 t soy sauce
4 cups water ( I think this might have been more flavorful had I used vegetable broth or faux chicken broth???)
6 slices fresh ginger
1 T mirin (I used a splash of cooking wine as I didn't have mirin)
1 1/2 t sugar
2 t rice vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup chopped scallions
16 wonton skins

For filling: Heat oil in skillet and add broccoli, ginger, garlic, carrot, onion and cook until veggies are crisp tender. Add chili sauce, mustard, 1 t soy sauce and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make wontons, take one skin and place in diamond shape. Fill with 1-2 t filling. Fold in half to make a triangle and moisten edges with water and pinch sides to seal. Set triangle in front of you with point up and take the 2 side points and bring them together in front to cross. Set aside and prepare remaining wontons. When finished, place wontons in a steamer basket and steam over pot of boiling water until translucent.

Meanwhile, in a pot, combine remaining ingredients (except wontons) and simmer 10-15 min.

Place 3-4 wontons in bowl and ladle broth over wontons. Serve.