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The first two weeks of summer brought some really nice greens to our dinner table. Introducing a new feature on Graasland as well! But you gotta read on a little for that. ;)

Organic CSA vegetables week 26, 2011

Here’s what we found in our CSA box the previous week.

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 26, 2011

  • Leek
  • Spinach
  • Radicchio
  • Gooseberries
  • Celery
  • Chinese cabbage (napa, michihli)

It may seem a bit meagre but there’s something missing from the picture! Half a head of Chinese cabbage and a whole head of red Batavian lettuce. We picked up the veggies on our way to my aunt’s and since our fridge was still rather full we decided to leave some of the loot with her.

Organic CSA vegetables week 27, 2011

Now more importantly: this weeks veggies…

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 27, 2011

  • Broad beans!!! Love ‘em!
  • Tomatoes
  • Field peas
  • Basil
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Pak choi (bok choy)
  • Savory (bonenkruid)

I hope I won’t bore you by sharing another menu plan?

Menu plan July 7-12 2011

Due to our schedule there’s a lot of ‘easy food’ on the menu this week.

  • Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese [Wednesday]
  • White bean & tomato soup (freezer stash), baguette, green salad with scapes, radicchio and pinenuts [Thursday]
  • In between hike and going to the vets: Indian lentil soup (dahl, freezer stash), homemade pizza, cabbage & carrot salad (recipe below) [Friday]
  • Broad bean soup, rosemary focaccia from Broodnodig, leftover mashed carrot salad, radicchio salad [Saturday]
  • After a day of hiking: vegan ‘shoarma’ (Vivera roerbakreepjes) with pita bread, garlic sauce and leftover carrot-cabbage salad [Sunday]
  • Field peas with veggies Provençale (adapting recipe for fresh peas), baguette, salad
  • Stir-fry of pak choi, leek, mushrooms and tofu with rice

New feature!

Cabbage contours by Jacqueline Tinney

Cabbage contours by Jacqueline Tinney

Many people don’t know what to do with cabbage. That’s a pity because it’s such a healthy vegetable; loaded with vitamins A & C, potassium, calcium, phosphor. It is also thought to be anti-carcinogenic! And if you’re a CSA participant like us you’ll often find it in your box. :)

So. I decided to share some cabbage recipes I like as a special feature on Graasland! Starting of with this week’s side dish of cabbage & carrot salad. Other recipes you can expect in the future are ‘Cabbage with Coconut’ and Indonesian ‘Sambal Goreng Cabbage’.

Easy cabbage-carrot salad

This is a veganised version of Eethuis Iris’ recipe from Zonnig zomers tafelen (p.20).

Cabbage-carrot salad & orange juice

Cabbage-carrot salad & orange juice

Ingredients
Serves 4.

  • 350 g pointed cabbage (I used a mix of pointed and Chinese cabbage; you could also take ordinary white)
  • 100 g carrot, cleaned
  • 3 tbs veganaise
  • 0.5 dl fresh orange juice
  • pinch of curry powder
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbs of roasted sunflower seeds
  • chopped parsley (optional: it’s not in the original recipe but I added it for colour)

Preparation

  1. Clean cabbage and cut out the hard core.
  2. Shred the cabbage very finely.
  3. Grate the carrot — or pulse a few times in your kitchen machine.
  4. Make a sauce of veganaise, orange juice, curry, salt and pepper.
  5. Mix vegetables and dressing, top with sunflower seeds and parsley.

On the contrary of what you may expect, the cabbage in this recipe is not overwhelming. I will make this salad again, maybe tweaking it here and there looking for an even better version: like adding a dash of lemon juice and possible some sweetener like agave syrup or golden raisins.

Do you have any favourite cabbage recipes to share? I’d love to hear them!

Join Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking with a food related post!

Recipe submitted to the July Whip Up Something New! Challenge hosted on Joyfully Retired

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Mosaic of entries for June Whip Up!

This month seven participants entered nine recipes for the Whip Up Something New! challenge. Two of those were potato recipes…

Raksha shared some spicy Baked Baby Potatoes from her kitchen that look absolutely yummy in their flower presentation. What a lucky coincidence I recently bought some amchur (mango powder)!

Uniflame reviewed mouthwatering Sweet Potato Fries from the Vegan Family Meals cookbook.

And since both these tater recipes are vegan, I certainly plan to put them on my dinner table!

Carol found the ‘thyme’ to cook up a Greek Sandwich that will probably end up in my lunch box someday — without the feta cheese of course, but with home-made hummus.

As always there were several sweet-tooths around. Joanna from It’s all about me made a Gluten-free Banana Bread to celebrate her part in Hello Dolly!, while Kristina baked another favorite: a red, white & blue Patriotic Pie — which closely resembles the Dutch flag!

Uniflame had 1 kilogram of cherries to use up in her White Chocolate & Cherry Muffins and Margot is harvesting the joys of her retirement with an abundance of raspberries from her garden, turning them into Raspberry Chocolate Scones. I have a raspberry plant on my balcony, but will never be able to grow enough berries for baked gooooods like this!

I did however submit two recipes this month too: an easy Savoury Summer Picnic Pie and Orange-Basil Tempeh from the same vegan cookbook Uniflame reviewed.

Now I don’t know if you remember but… We haz prizes! I promised to reward one of the vegan entries. Here’s the loot I put together!

June Whip Up Something New! challenge (Sur)Prize

I let Mr Random.org do his thing and the winner is… (drumroll):

Winner June Whip Up Something New! Challenge

Raksha! Please send me your address and the parcel will be on its way!

Since there were only two vegan entries this month (besides mine) I decided to offer Uniflame a consolation prize: something that’s on her wishlist… I’ll give her my gently read copy of Bento Box in the Heartland by Linda Furiya — if she can wait a little because I still have to write a short review for the Foodies Reading Challenge?!

Cover Bento Box in the Heartland, Linda Furiya

Before I finish there’s just one more thing I need to mention in this wrap-up post. I made a pledge. And I failed. I did not start organising my recipe cut outs and neither did I cook from them… It’s terrible, but there’s always next month! So hop over to Margot from Joyfully Retired and submit your JULY recipes in the Whip Up Something New! Challenge!

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Sunday Salon logoThe Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of book lovers on the web, blogging about bookish things of the past week, visiting each others weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)

My experience with Ann Gentry’s Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone kind of resembled a sugar-crash.

Know what that is? When you’re taking in big amounts of refined sugars at a time (like having a Mars bar or a donut), blood sugar levels spike, releasing insulin into your body which then causes your blood sugar levels to plummet. Some of you may call it an afternoon dip. ;) You experience a roller-coaster ride as the body works hard to stabilize its blood sugar levels.

Cover Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone (Ann Gentry)Reading the introduction to Vegan Family Meals got me extremely enthusiastic. Ann Gentry is the busy chef of Los Angeles’ popular vegan restaurant Real Food Daily. She wants to make plant-based cooking accessible for the time-strapped cook who craves delicious meals that are easy to prepare. By showing that the vegan cooking process isn’t so different from vegetarian cooking she specifically means to help omnivores wanting to reduce their intake of animal products, newbie vegetarians-turned-vegan like myself or even die-hard vegans. If you eat (strict) vegetarian for just one day a week, it will have a positive impact on your health and the environment. That’s why Meatless Mondays are getting more popular every day!

“If you’re intimidated by the thought of preparing plant-based foods, don’t be. A standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich is vegan. Most of the easy vegan recipes that follow have fewer than a dozen ingredients – and they’re much more delicious than a PB&J.”

YAY!

“The dishes in this books are designed for family meals. They are simple vegan recipes with approachable ingredients lists and techniques, relatively short preparation time, and, of course, wide appeal.”

Hear hear!

“For help with ingredients that might be new to you, simply turn to the Real Food Pantry listings throughout the book for extra information that will demystify the likes of spelt and umeboshi, and more plant-based staples.”

YES!

Can it get any better? Simple but yummy meals with less than twelve ingredients that do not rely heavily on unfamiliar ingredients or which components can easily be substituted. And Ann Gentry promises to do all this on an affordable budget.

So. You may understand I got a little discouraged when I discovered that the first recipe of Vegan Family Meals — Super Hippie Granola — contains 15 ingredients, among which dried Hunza mulberries (never heard of), goji berries (not in stock) and melted unrefined coconut oil (erm…). Thankfully the author suggests common substitutes like coconut flakes, cranberries or or other dried tropical fruits. And it’s a breakfast dish that you are meant to prepare in advance so maybe I should not worry too much about the long ingredients list.

On to the next breakfast recipe: Acai Granola Bowl. It consists of only 8 ingredients, but alas: one of those is the previously mentioned Super Hippie Granola and the main element is frozen acai berry bars… Can’t get those in in The Netherlands! The same goes for the following breakfast recipes: they either contain products that are ‘strange’, hard to get or need to be prepared well in advance. Also, vegan cheese substitutes are needed for several of them.

I couldn’t help feeling disappointed by this time. I guess the Vegan Family Meals cookbook isn’t really meant for the European market – and things are certainly different over here in The Netherlands. There are less vegan products and options. For example there are no vegan ‘cheeses’ that can be considered real alternatives for dairy cheese, as was recently confirmed by a test panel of Vegatopia (article in Dutch). The on the internet much appraised Daiya is not available in my country.

Still, there’s hope: on most things we’re supposed to be 5 years behind on the UK and 10 on the US. If I think back to when I stopped eating meat, there were much fewer vegetarian options as well. Ann Gentry herself writes that most products were only available in natural food stores when she started her alternative food journey. Now they’re sold in mainstream supermarkets – and being vegan is hip. :)

I was happy to find that further on in the book there were several recipes I felt I could try.

I ended up making 5 of them:

  • Ginger Miso Soup (p.98)
    Just a good miso soup recipe, flavourful but not really anything special.
  • Kombu Dashi (p.99)
    Needed for the Ginger Miso Soup.
  • Sweet Mustard Tempeh (p.116)
    Tasty. I had some of it on a sandwich and with the rest I plan to make a salad with the saffron-orange tahini dressing that accompanies this recipe in the cookbook (p.115).
  • Orange-Basil Tempeh (p.129; recipe below)
    Very flavourful: will definitely be making this again!
  • Watercress and Butter Lettuce Salad with Israeli Couscous, Orange Basil-Tempeh and Sweet Miso Dressing (p.128)
    This is a really good salad recipe, although I found that the many flavours pushed the orange-basil tempeh to the background. I will be making it again, especially for pot-lucks or a picnic, but probably without the tempeh – and with the Roasted Pistachios (p.55) that I forgot to add this time.

Still on the menu plan with pak choi from this week’s batch of organic vegetables: Szechuan Noodles with Spicy Hot Peanut Sauce (p.147).

Another positive aspect of Vegan Family meals is that it’s an easy and interesting read. It’s well-stocked with appetizing photo’s, cutting techniques, info on so-called exoctic superfoods, non-dairy milks, sweeteners, food history et cetera. Each of the sections (Breakfasts, Snacks & Sandwiches, Soups, Family-Style Salads, Simple Meals, Grains and Vegetables, Desserts) is introduced by a one page article that educates us a little more about the topic as well as the author’s life. So after plummeting from euphoric to frustrated, my end verdict for Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone is a positive one.

Thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing I was given the opportunity to preview the e-book version of Vegan Family Meals through Netgalley. The key question is now: will I buy a paper copy when it is published on June 14th? I’m afraid not. The dishes take a little more time to prepare than expected and often times another component needs to be made first. I also felt I had to ‘tweak’ too many of the recipes because of lacking ingredients. But maybe this will change in few years from now, when we’re up to speed with the US here in The Netherlands?! ;)

To get a taste of the book yourself I’ll share the recipe for Orange-Basil Tempeh. Since Mr Gnoe and I are a family of two I just made half of it.

Salad with couscous, orang-basil tempeh and sweet miso dressing

Recipe for Orange-Basil Tempeh (salad condiment)

Ingredients
Serves 4.

  • 225 g tempeh, halved horizontally and then cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 120 ml fresh orange juice
  • zest of 1 organic orange
  • 3 tbs finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tbs agave syrup
  • 2 tbs tamari
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Preparation

  1. I immediately moved away from the recipe by steaming the tempeh for 10 minutes. I’ve read elsewhere that it improves absorbency (and alleviates the slightly bitter taste some people dislike). It’s your choice whether you do this or not.
  2. Whisk the orange juice, basil, agave nectar, tamari, garlic, olive oil and zest (= everything except tempeh ;) together in a bowl.
  3. Add the tempeh (either raw or steamed) and turn to coat.
  4. Arrange the tempeh in a single layer so it’s (partly) submerged in the marinade.
  5. Set aside to marinade for at least an hour or refrigerate overnight. I did the latter.
  6. Put in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes until tempeh is hot and the marinade has reduced.
  7. Serve the tempeh warm or at room temperature.

ENJOY!

Hop over to She Likes Bento for another review of Vegan Family Meals including the recipe for Sweet Potato Fries!

The recipe for a Spring to Summer Vegetable Dish can be found on the Real Food Daily website.

You want to have a look at the cookbook yourself? Go to the publisher’s page and check out the Google preview.

This is my first submission to Cookbook Sundays, a meme from Mom’s Sunday Café!

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Easy Summer (Picnic) Pie

With our CSA veggies from Amelis’Hof comes a leaflet, de Amelisbode, usually containing a recipe for some of the week’s vegetables. This week it’s a savoury ‘Picnic Pie’ with oven-roasted garlic, tomatoes and rosemary. I only had to substitute the anchovies to make it vegan/vegetarian! The rosemary came from the herb garden on our balcony.

This recipe is definitely a keeper so I’d like to share it with you for Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking and the Whip Up Something New! challenge (which I’m hosting this month btw). It’s the ultimate summer pie! And since I made a few more adaptations I feel it’s okay to rename it. :)

Amelis’Hof Summer (Picnic) Pie with Garlic and Tomatoes

Ingredients
Serves 2.

  • olive oil
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 350 gr tomatoes
  • 1 small or 1/2 big red onion
  • 3 sheets of vegan puff pastry
  • 12 black olives
  • 1 tbs caper berries
  • 1 tbs of chopped rosemary
  • (optional) some chopped oregano or other fresh herb of you choice
  • freshly ground salt & pepper

Easy Summer (Picnic) Pie

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven at 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Soak sun-dried tomatoes in hot water.
  3. Separate garlic cloves — leave the skin on! — and put them in some olive oil in a high oven-proof dish.
    Easy Summer (Picnic) Pie
  4. Cut tomatoes in thick slices, put them in an oven dish.
  5. Slice red onion and add to tomatoes.
  6. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil over the tomato-onion mix, and add some freshly ground salt & pepper.
    Easy Summer (Picnic) Pie
  7. Roll out pastry dough and fill baking dish, punching a few holes in the bottom with a fork. Layer with beans or ceramic beads for pre-baking.
    Whatever you’re using for blind baking; it’s always smart to put some parchment paper in first to prevent your beans/beads from sticking to the dough… I often forget. ;)
    Easy Summer (Picnic) Pie
  8. Put all three dishes in the oven and bake puff pastry for 10 minutes, tomatoes and garlic  15 minutes.
  9. In the meantime mince olives, caper berries (you may want to rinse these first if they’re really salty) and soaked sun-dried tomatoes.
  10. After 10 minutes take your pie dough out of the oven, remove blind filling and bake for another 5 minutes.
  11. Now your tomatoes, garlic and puff pastry should be ready at about the same time. Allow the roasted garlic to cool for a few minutes.
  12. Peel the garlic cloves, mince, and mix HALF of it with the olives, sun-dried tomatoes and capers.
    Easy Summer (Picnic) Pie
  13. Spread the mixture on the bottom of your pie, layer with tomatoes and onion, add rosemary (& other fresh herbs of your choice) and the rest of the crushed garlic. Sprinkle with a little more salt & pepper.
    Easy Summer (Picnic) Pie
  14. Put your picnic pie into the oven for another 5-10 minutes.

BON APPETIT!

We had this quiche accompanied by a green salad with asparagus, more fresh herbs from our ‘garden’ (thyme & oregano), chopped walnuts & pistachios and a balsamic vinegar dressing with extra virgin olive oil, agave syrup, salt and pepper. I’m afraid the picture has a weird colour: we had the shades down because it was so sunny!

Easy Summer (Picnic) Pie

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Post submitted to…

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& Part of Zesty Palette’s ongoing Bake Fest #4 hosted by Tomato Blues

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You’ve landed on the JUNE host post for the Whip Up Something New Challenge!

My disastrous pile of recipes

This is a picture of the recipes I plan to try… someday. Does it look familiar? Then you may want to join our Whip Up Something New! challenge!

Just pick a recipe from your pile, bake it or make it, and blog about your experiences. If you’re not a hoarder like me you can try any new recipe from a cookbook or The Interwebs as well! There’s just one small catch (if you wish to call it that): you’ll need to share the recipe with us or provide a link to it. *

The Mister Linky for June’s contributions is at the end of this post. Need to know more or want to grab a button? Check out Joanna’s introductory post on It’s all about me (time).

Button Whip Up Something New! Challenge

Now I’ve been ‘cheating’ a little with this challenge. Since turning vegan in January I’ve had to find lots of new recipes to cook anyway. But none of these came from my pile – I took refuge in books and on the web, even though organizing my clippings was one of the tasks planned for my original ExtraVeganza! project earlier this year. So. Here’s my pledge for this month.

  1. I’ll start sorting my cut out recipes into animal-free versus vegetarian (the latter of which I’ll browse for ‘veganizable’ dishes).
  2. I’ll test at least 1 recipe from the vegan collection.

Now I dare you to get out of your comfort zone and make something vegan this month! People are getting used to Meatless Mondays, so why not take it a step further? It really is not as hard — or scary ;) — as it seems and there are plenty of resources on the web to help you, like Vegalicious, Seitan is My Motor or Vegweb (this last one is cluttery, but a repository full of rated recipes).

Of course you don’t NEED to do this: all kinds of recipes are welcome in the Whip Up Something New! challenge. But as an incentive I’ll (randomly) reward one of the vegan contributions with a SurPrize!

Now let’s start cookin’! :)

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Click on the Mr. Linky button below to submit your recipe and to check out the other participants! Please enter the direct link to your June Whip Up post in the Mister Linky. For example:

Your Name: Gnoe (Marvellous Vegan Mayonnaise)
Your URL: http://gnoegnoe.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/marvellous-mayonnaise/

We don’t want people to have to go searching all over so general links to your webblog instead of specific posts will be deleted. Deadline for this month’s entries is June 30th — that’s a Thursday. I’ll round up the links in a wrap-up post shortly after!

* Please don’t forget about copyright; always give credit where it’s due.

I always know when CSA season starts: one of the first bags is going to hold rhubarb. Now for some of you that may be a feast, but rhubarb and me? We’ve got a strange relationship. I HATED it as a child while my mom loved it…

Amelishof CSA vegetables week 20, 2011

  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Oak leaf lettuce
  • Turnip tops (rapini)
  • Radish
  • Plum tomatoes

Now as an adult I’ve eaten rhubarb several times and it really isn’t that bad. Still, my brain refuses to catch up! So each time I’m confronted with these reddish-pink stalks I go “uh-oh” and my mind goes blank.

Creamy Coconut Almond Tarts with Rhubarb

It was a relief to have family coming over for dinner on Sunday so I could use this veggie for dessert. I decided on the lovely Rhubarb-Coconut Tarts from Vegalicious because they look pretty and I had all the ingredients at hand except coconut flavouring. Of course I usually try out recipes before I serve them to guests… But I trust the Vegalicious website: earlier this year I made the vegan Spicy Applesauce Cake with Lemon Frosting for my birthday and it was a success.

Was I right to dare preparing these tartlets without practising first?

You’ve got to remember that I’m not my usual self right now. Actually, I’m a real scatterbrain these days: I can read a recipe ten times and still not pick up everything. That’s exactly what happened… AND — I’ve hit myself several times for this already — I forgot to make a photo of the end result!!! AAAAARGH! So here’s the only picture I took.

Almond-oat crust for rhubarb coconut tarts

The base: oat-almond crusts. Looking good though, aren’t they? :)

What went ‘wrong’?

  • The sharp-eyed reader may notice that something went wrong here right away. I was supposed to make the tarts in ramekins! I only discovered that when the crusts were good & ready to get ‘filled’ with coconut cream…
    But you know what? I liked it this way! It’s like having a huge cookie on a plate with toppings. :)) So this will be a fixed alternation of the recipe from now on. ;)
  • I was sure I had some wholemeal flour… but I didn’t. Just took regular flour and it was fine. But I do think wholemeal will be good!
  • When I was supposed to be making sugar water to ‘cook’ the rhubarb in, I threw in the lemon juice with the sugar from the start… It turned out fine; rhubarb always has a bit of a tart taste, doesn’t it? ;)

My version of this dessert may not have been as pretty as the picture on Vegalicious. I peeled the rhubarb (I hate those stalk threads, don’t you?) and it lost its beautiful pink colour because of it. But you’ll have to trust my word on this — it looked delish! I put on a fresh mint leaf for garnish (as suggested) and threw over a pinch of cinnamon as the personal finishing touch. It tasted g-r-e-a-t: crunchy bottom, creamy and (not too) sweet middle layer and slightly sour rhubarb on top. Yum! We were unanimous in our verdict, including our omnivore guests.

So yes, next time I might plunge in at the deep end again and serve a new dish without trial! And this rhubarb recipe goes on the pile ‘For Keeps’.

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New recipe(s) tried for the Whip Up Something New! Challenge!

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This month I’ve tried several new recipes for the Whip Up Something New! challenge that Trish was hosting. All these dishes were vegan — but I bet you wouldn’t have noticed!

Tempeh ‘Sausage’ Crumbles

Tempeh topping

Something absolutely new to me were tempeh ‘sausage’ crumbles, a kind of topping from the Appetite for Reduction cookbook that I found on the Post Punk Kitchen website. It was recommended for pasta with marinara sauce or as a pizza topping, but is also supposed to be good as a burrito filling or served for breakfast alongside scrambled tofu. Pigheaded me decided to try it for something totally (?) different: as a topping for potato mash with raw escarole, accompanied by caramelized red onions. It was good but sort of weird too because the saltiness combined with anise-fennel taste reminded me a little of liquorice. :\

Also, the substance was a bit wetter than expected. I had thought it would be dry, like tempeh goreng, whereas on the other hand the fennel seeds had kept their bite more than I’d figured. Now that had nothing to do with the fact that I had forgotten to add the lemon juice at the right time and just threw some over the mixture at the dinner table. ;) (TG that we always have a bottle of good organic lemon juice at hand ;)

Maybe this is just how it’s supposed to turn out? Or shouldn’t I have used tempeh that was slightly past its expiration date? :-o Anyway, it seemed to me that the liquid wouldn’t evaporate more if I’d cook the dish any longer — rather the opposite.

This was a very interesting recipe to try — it looks rather meaty, doesn’t it? But I really wouldn’t sell it as ‘sausage’ crumbles.

Since I also had an open packet of tortilla’s I made a wrap with the leftovers for lunch the next day. I was happy to learn that the food-additive E471, which can be animal-derived as well as plantbased (and no way to tell them apart chemically), is vegan in the case of the Dutch Albert Heijn‘s brand tortillas!

Vegan tortilla with hummus

Will I make this ‘tempeh helper’ again? I’m not sure to be honest. Let’s just wait for a moment when I see the need for it.

Red Endive, pear & walnut salad with raspberry vinaigrette

Endive, pear & walnut salad with raspberry vinaigrette

I found this Broad-leaved endive, pear & walnut salad with raspberry vinaigrette recipe in the Vegetarian Times. It’s a nice salad, but no real surprise for us: the combination of pear & walnut/endive is a classic and raspberry vinaigrette of course goes well with pear. If you’ve never made raw escarole salad before, you should definitely try it! I used red endive, and replaced honey with agave nectar to make it completely vegan. Since I only had one head of endive I also added a few leaves of Salanova lettuce.

Yes, I’ll probably make this again, but I won’t be following the recipe to the letter. Though this pear & raspberry vinegar combo with endive is certainly more delicate to serve guests than our usual variation with apple & lemon juice.

Roasted Romanesco Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts

I had some Brussels sprouts and Romanesco cauliflower in my fridge, so the Roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts recipe in the Vegetarian Times seemed like the perfect dish to try. And it’s great! It’s very easy to make, although you have to remember to prepare the ingredients one day in advance… That makes it the perfect dish for entertaining guests. Just don’t forget to keep your eye on the oven; I almost let my veggies burn. Oops.

Mr Gnoe especially liked these veggies so it’ll definitely find its way back to our table!

Vegan meal with Curry Couscous Stuffed Mushrooms and Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts

Curry Couscous Stuffed Mushrooms

I found a Curry couscous stuffed mushrooms recipe from the 500 Vegan Recipes cookbook online and they sounded so yummy that I made them the same day, to accompany my roasted Romanesco & Brussels sprouts. Alas, they were rather a disappointment.

I like the idea of mushrooms with spicy grains (couscous) but there’s something missing in this dish and I just can’t figure out what it is. Mango chutney? Ginger? More salt?

I followed the instructions for preparing couscous on the package, not the 500VR recipe, which means I mixed the dry couscous with herbs & spices, added water and let it rest for 4 minutes (covered). Sautéed onion, garlic and mushroom stems in separate skillet, then added the ‘finished’ couscous to the onion mixture.

According to the instructions of the cookbook I should have sautéed the dry couscous & herbs/spices together with the onion mixture instead, adding water and stirring until all liquid would have been evaporated… It could be that would have made the flavours come out better (especially the curry & garam masala). But as far as I’m concerned, it’s really not worth giving this snack another chance: it’ll never have that Wow-factor I need for my omnivore friends.

The amount of couscous in the recipe was also way too much for 12 medium cremini mushrooms (the required 8 oz), so we’ve been eating it as a side-dish for days after…

Sun-dried Tomato Aïoli

Sun-dried tomato aïoli

I want to buy a good vegan cookbook and for that reason I’m looking for recipes from recommended books on the web to give them a try. The mushrooms with spicy couscous were a #FAIL but I found another recipe of which I’m relatively certain that it’s from the same 500 Vegan Recipes cookbook by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman: Sun-dried tomato aïoli. Please correct me if I’m wrong because I have no way of checking this.

Well. About that Wow-factor: this sun-dried tomato aïoli has become an instant favourite!!! It’s the perfect substitute for a previous fav of mine: sun-dried tomato butter (which I can no longer have now that I’m going ExtraVeganza!). It is a great dish to bring along to pot-lucks and I will definitely serve it on my own birthday party next week.

I made just half the recipe as a try-out and used some veganaise that I made with part sunflower oil, part olive oil. It wasn’t really clear to me what I was supposed to do with the pine nuts — I felt they should be toasted & ground but the recipe didn’t say so. I decided to do both: ground half and keep the rest as a whole. Seemed perfect to me. :)

Quick Spinach Quiche

Quick (vegan) spinach quiche

I stumbled upon an easy recipe for spinach quiche that seemed great to take along on our ‘Day at the Oscars’. It’s in Dutch and we made some adaptations, so I’ll just summarize.

Ingredients

  • frozen puff pastry (vegan); 4-6 depending on your pie mold
  • large packet of frozen spinach (slightly thawed) — or fresh spinach leaves (cleaned & cut)
  • (optional) small onion, diced
  • small can of corn kernels
  • sun-dried tomatoes, cut and welded
  • pesto
  • dried basil
  • ground pepper
  • soy sauce or salt
  • a few dashes of soy cuisine (cream)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven (220 °C).
  2. Cover pie or oven dish with parchment paper.
  3. Thaw puff pastry, roll out dough a little and line in pie dish, covering the sides.
  4. Sauté onion, add spinach and let it shrink a little. If you’re going the easy way with frozen spinach you can leave out the onion and skip this step!
  5. Stir in all the other ingredients, mixing well.
  6. Put the filling on the pastry, folding any protruding dough over the filling.
  7. Put in the oven for about 30 minutes.

This spinach pie is best eaten cold. I think we’ll make it again for a pick-nick or such.

The crust looks a bit bleak and I would love to get (vegan) tips on how to get a golden-looking pie?! We’ve covered the dough with a bit of olive oil but that didn’t help. ‘In the old days’ I used either egg or coffee creamer — do you think a bit of soy milk or plain water would do the trick?

Gnoe’s tip for any hearty pie: you can sprinkle some yellow cornmeal (polenta) on the bottom of the pie to soak up any excess liquid.

Also whipped up in February

And here are this month’s new dishes that I’ve already posted about.

Homemade veganaise

Quinoa stir-fry with kale & cashews

Pumpkin-Coconut Soup

Japanese sesame-crusted rice patties

Yaki-Gyōza recipe post

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. February’s mission is ‘Cooking Japanese’!

I’ve wanted to try gyōza for ages. I never had any and I don’t know where to get a vegetarian/vegan version around here, so there was no other option than to make them myself. With a little lot of help from Mr Gnoe, because it’s fun to cook together on a Sunday night!

Nameko mushroomWe took the recipe on Something to Eat for guidance but skipped on the tofu, added some nameko mushrooms to the shiitake and used white cabbage instead of Chinese. We poured boiling water over the thinly sliced cabbage in a colander and left it to cool. A major improvisation is that we sautéed the mushrooms, garlic and spring onions first, mixing it up with the cabbage, soy sauce and sesame oil in the end. The filling should actually cook within the skin, but we are a little pigheaded. ;)

Using a small bowl I cut some square wonton wrappers into circles. And then, finally, we got to use the handy gyōza press mold that had been waiting useless in our kitchen for some months now! ;)

Molding gyoza with our special kitchen tool

We followed the steam-fry method Something to Eat describes and the yaki-gyōza turned out delicious, although a bit ‘mushy’ — no way we could eat them with chopsticks so we had to use a regular knife & fork. LOL We dipped the dumplings in a sauce I had whipped up from two tablespoons of tamari, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, some splashes of tabasco chilli sauce (since we don’t have any hot oil) and a little yuzu powder. YUM!

Steam-frying gyoza

Next to our Japanese potstickers we had some improvised mushroom-miso soup with ginger. (Of course I really should have been reading In the Miso Soup because discussion in the Japanese Literature Book Group starts today… uh-oh) “Not a lot of veggies?” I hear you say, but we’d had spinach quiche in the late afternoon, so a big or balanced meal wasn’t really required.

Sunday dinner: yaki-gyoza & miso soup

We’ll probably have the leftovers for dinner this Meatless Monday.
Are you eating vegetarian today as well?

I’m definitely going to make gyōza again, trying different recipes (with tofu or minced seitan) and cooking methods (steaming, boiling, frying). The lazy days are over for our gyōza kitchen tool! ;)

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New recipe(s) tried for the Whip Up Something New! Challenge!

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Join Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking with a food-related post!

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Recipe submitted to Vegan Mondays & Midnight Maniac’s Meatless Monday.

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Meatless Monday

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. February’s mission is ‘Cooking Japanese’!

A while ago I promised you the recipe for Japanese sesame-crusted rice patties from The Vegetarian Table: Japan cookbook by Victoria Wise. They’re easy to make and you can do that from scratch — or use leftovers like I did. Don’t you just love leftover cooking? It feels like spring cleaning! ;)

Ingredients

This is what you need according to the recipe.

  • 1.5 cups basic steamed rice, warm or reheated
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 0.5 ts salt
  • 1 large or 2 small scallions, trimmed and minced
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds, preferably black
  • vegetable oil for frying

And here’s what I used instead. ;)

Ingredients for Japanese rice patties

As you can see I took some wilting leek, a mix of black & (toasted) white sesame seeds and ordinary cooked (not steamed) leftover Surinaamse long-grain rice.

Preparation

  1. Place rice, flour salt and scallions (= everything except sesame seeds and oil) in a medium bowl.
  2. With wet hands, mix until well blended.
  3. Form the mixture into ca. 6 patties, rewetting your hands as you go to keep the rice from sticking. But if you’ve ever made sushi you know that, right?
  4. Sprinkle both sides of the patties with sesame seeds, set them on a plate, and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour. I put them in the fridge and continued the next day.
    Japanese sesame-crusted rice patties resting before processing
  5. When ready to cook, pour a small amount of oil (more than enough to coat the pan but not so much as to float the patties), into a frying pan and heat until beginning to smoke.
  6. Place as many patties as will fit in the pan and fry over medium heat until lightly golden; about 1 minute. 
  7. Turn and fry until golden on the other side, about one minute more. Note: the frying took a little longer on both sides in my case and I actually turned them over twice.
  8. Transfer to a platter and continues until all your rice patties are fried.
  9. Serve right away.

Appreciation

Experimental Bento, 27-01-2011Now it’s important to look at the last remark. Serve right away. That’s not what I did: I left them to cool and put them in the fridge for next day’s lunch. So I have no idea what they taste like warm… Pretty dumb, I know. :\ And when I had them in my bento the following day, well, I admit they were a bit dry. This may have been caused by either one or all of next three options:

  • that I didn’t serve them right away,
  • refrigerating the patties, both before and after frying (refrigerating is known to dry-out rice, you shouldn’t really put sushi in your fridge either),
  • the use of Surinam long-grain rice instead of Japanese, which is supposed to be more sticky i.e. more moist.

Although the recipe didn’t call for an accompanying sauce I made a spicy soy-lemon sauce from the same cookbook for a dip. Alas, that was no real solution since it was too strong for the patties and took away their subtle flavour.

Will I make this recipe again? Yes, but only when I’ll be eating the sesame-crusted rice patties right away and/or have some Japanese rice to use up. I rather like Victoria Wise’s cookbook, so the fault probably lies with me. ;)

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New recipe(s) tried for the Whip Up Something New! Challenge!

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Join Beth Fish’s weekend cooking with a food-related post!

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Homemade vegenaise

This awesome egg-less mayonnaise is the discovery of the year. Not just for me — Mr Gnoe also thinks it tastes better than any ordinary variety we’ve ever had. So even in the unlikely event that I’ll turn into my old 100% lact-ovo vegetarian self again, we’ll probably stick to eating this veganaise!

And you know what? It’s soooooo easy to make: you can whip it up in under 5 minutes! Of course only if your stick blender doesn’t die on you in the process, like mine did today. :\

The recipe originates from EVA, the Belgian Vegetarian Association, but I learned about it in my ExtraVeganza kick-off: Happy Herbi’s Eat Good, Feel Good cooking class. And it made my vegan pilot project so much easier! I’ve put it on sandwiches with avocado, used it for several dipping sauces, guacamole, salad dressing and wasabi ‘mayonnaise’ for sushi. Now how could I keep a fabulous recipe like that from you? Not.

Veganaise

Ingredients

100 ml soy milk (it is very important to shake well before use!!!)
175-250 ml sunflower oil
1 tbs cider vinegar
1 ts mustard
1/2 ts salt
1 ts agave syrup

The original recipe states double measures but since this egg-less mayonnaise keeps well in the fridge for about 2 weeks these are the amounts I use.

Preparation

Put all ingredients — except oil — in a tall bowl and slowly mix with the immersion blender while pouring in the oil. Voilá! ;)

Now you can add al sorts of things (herbs & spices) to make your own fabulous sauces.

Mr Gnoe & I like ‘olivonnaise’ so next time I’ll be trying olive oil (partly) instead of sunflower.

ExtraVeganza logo, © variomatic

Eat Good, Feel Good Cooking Class

I promised to tell you more about the Eat Good, Feel Good vegan cooking class I took, mainly because I had some leftovers for lunch on my third day of ExtraVeganza. Well, it was great fun!

Ingredients for the 'Eat Good, Feel Good' vegan cooking class (27-01-2011)

After an introduction on the vegan lifestyle and answers to some questions we had asked in advance, the four of us made a three course meal together of potato-carrot soup & kale pate on toast for starters, a main course of spicy seitan satay (made from scratch!) with peanut sauce, rice with capucijner peas, cumin & veganaise and bean sprout & apple salad. For dessert we had a delicious (but pretty heavy for someone not used to afters ;) raw banana mousse ‘petite-pie’. And like I said, us lucky participants got to take the leftovers home! :)

Kale paté made in Eat Good, Feel Good cooking class

Kale paté

Rice salad made in Eat Good, Feel Good cooking class

Mixed rice salad

I was the only first-timer but didn’t do too bad. ;) I am glad I took this cooking class for a kick-off because it totally inspired me!

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Join Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking with a food-related post!

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New recipe(s) tried for the Whip Up Something New! Challenge!

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Recipe submitted to Midnight Maniac’s Meatless Monday & the newly discovered Vegan Mondays.

Meatless Monday

Vegan Mondays button

 

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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