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Day 10 is officially the last day of my ExtraVeganza! pilot project. The test phase ends here, but my adventures in the world of (wannabe) vegans will go on!

I’m determined to try and keep eating vegan as much as possible. I have a book bloggers meetup Afternoon Tea coming up next Tuesday where 100% vegan isn’t an option — yes, I checked — but I made sure I won’t be getting any cheese at least. The day after that we’re supposed to have dinner at my mother-in-law’s so I’ll call her tomorrow and will offer to cook. It won’t be difficult as I know she likes chilli!

And then there’s this VERY special occasion on Friday, when a dear friend will get her PhD on Bartholomeus van der Helst — she is the specialist on the 17th century artist (from the Dutch Golden Age), and we’ll be having a celebration dinner afterwards. It’s a buffet, so there’s bound to be something I can enjoy!

I’ve made a vegan menu plan for the upcoming week. Are you interested? I’m going to serve it to you anyway! ;)

Menu plan February 6th-12th

  • Ratatouille with chickpeas & couscous
  • Mushroom risotto with spinach, tempeh & bean sprout salad
  • Miso soup, tofu puffs (inarizushi), Japanese sesame broccoli and salted lemon wheels; maybe I’ll finally try my hand at gyoza
    (Hello Japan here I come! ;)
  • Mexican chilli with tortilla wraps, guacamole and possibly salsa picante [Wednesday]
  • Turkish bulgur and red lentil soup, kohlrabi salad

Now that the ExtraVeganza pilot has ended I won’t be blogging daily about my food anymore. But here’s what I had today!

Menu Day 10 (Saturday February 5th 2011)

Breakfast
This morning I went for the successful oatmeal in almond milk again.

Lunch
Three slices of toast for lunch:

  1. Tartex olivera with olives and alfalfa.
    Good.
  2. Yesterday’s ‘green gunk’, which had gotten a little brown but was still tasty. ;)
  3. Tofutti ‘cream cheese’ with sun-dried tomato & radish.
    Good.

You may wonder about the rotating Tartex, tofutti, avocado (& smoked tofu). There’s just so much I can eat at a time so I don’t want to open any more types of spreads.

The avocado is still the same from Day 1: each time I cut off a slice I cover the green pulp with lemon (keep the stone in of course) and a piece of saran wrap as snugly on the surface as possible. If I’m correct the browning of avocados is an oxidation process, which you can delay by letting as little oxygen touch the fruit as possible. I finished the avocado today (how appropriate!), but I’ll try to remember to photograph the next one. Yes, there are more yummy avocados in my fruit basket. ;)

Dinner
Our plan to conclude ExtraVeganza! by dining out at Kitchen Punx failed again, because the eatery is closed on Saturday due to other activities. No worries, I’ve made reservations for tomorrow! Eating at the only vegan place in all of Utrecht city must be part of this project.

So tonight we had some more of the Pumpkin-coconut soup from earlier this week instead and I tried a new recipe out of today’s Guardian newspaper: quinoa stir-fry with kale chilli and nuts. It was pretty nice — better than I had expected ;) Very lemony, which I like. I tried it with, and without soy sauce (like the article suggests) and appreciated both variations. A crunchy salad on the side would have been good but on the other hand we couldn’t have eaten any more food. ;)

One of the attractions of this dish is that author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall states it’s good hot as well as cold… Me thinks “bento!” ;) So Monday will introduce my first Quinoa Bento ever. Before today I had never eaten, let alone cooked this type of ‘grain’ before! While it’s up to 7000 years old and was considered sacred food by the Incas. And it’s a great source of proteins!

Will I make this recipe again? I may, or may not — just not sure!

Quinoa stir-fry with kale & cashews

Snacks
In the afternoon I had a fruit salad (apple, pear, kiwi, banana) with lemon juice, ginger syrup, toasted coconut, walnuts and almonds. Yay for vitamins & fibres! ;)

I’m not sure whether it’s permanent, but over-all I seem to crave less food in between meals..?! As a matter of fact: I stocked up on a whole bunch of hearty vegan snacks (and I don’t mean veggies now ;) and haven’t opened a single package!

Experiences

Anything special about today?

Yep: it’s the very last day of my ExtraVeganza pilot. And I’ve told you all about it. ;) I hope you liked to read about Gnoe’s vegan adventures and maybe even got a little inspired? That I haven’t bored you to death for the last ten days is the best I can hope for! ;)

Any difficulties?

No. Having hardly ventilated any problems at all in the past 10 days, you must agree with me it was easier than expected! :)

Though the project ends here, you may expect more ExtraVeganza! posts on Graasland; whenever the topic or recipe is vegan. And someday Gnoe’s vegan adventures may migrate to the separate ExtraVeganza! weblog!

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Menu Day 8 (February 3rd)

Breakfast
For breakfast I had oatmeal gruel with almond milk.
I had almost made some beschuitpap (rusk porridge) because almond milk seemed to go well with it, but when I checked the label I noticed there’s egg in these biscuits. *SIGH*
It is unbelievable how many foods contain animal products! So I changed to oatmeal — and I’m glad I did! Boy, it was good. Probably even better than with cow’s milk! (LOL that’s a lot of exclamation marks in a row! ;) The gruel was creamy and a little sweet thanks to the milk’s 1%  of agave syrup, so I didn’t need to add any sweetener like I usually do. So another great discovery today! *HAPPY DANCE*

BTW I always add ground flax seeds to oatmeal, to insure a sufficient intake of omega-3. After breakfast I had some green kukicha tea.

Lunch
Vegan Wholewheat Sunflower Seed SammiesAt midday I had 3 whole wheat sunflower seed sammies and drank some San Pellegrino with lemon juice. I concluded with a (decaf) latte. Here’s what I put on my sandwiches:

  • last night’s leftovers: falafel, salad & spicy sauce,
  • avocado & radish on veganaise with basil and African Peper mix,
  • smoked sesame & almond tofu with spring onions and toasted sesame seeds on ketchup.

Dinner
Thursday night, soup night. Mr Gnoe has piano lessons to go to. The meal I prepared helped clearing out the fridge. I used up half a pumpkin, a lonely chilli pepper and an open container of coconut milk to make pumpkin-coconut soup. From a wilting apple, open can of pineapple, green onion, red and white cabbage I mixed up a salad with curry-ginger dressing. We enjoyed it with the last bit of Monday’s pizza and some baguette. It was all very nice and so easy to make!

Snacks
Gnoe ate nothing in between meals today..!

Experiences

Anything special about today?

Rice-Almond MilkI’m so happy with today’s discovery of Isola Bio almond milk! It’s even good to drink straight from the glass. :) I’m not sure whether it’s always the same, but the type I bought is actually rice milk blended with almond paste. When I took my first sip there was a slight hint of that ‘dusty’ rice taste, but I didn’t notice it afterwards.

This is exactly what I had hoped to achieve in ExtraVeganza!: trying out many different products to find the perfect ones. Even Mr Gnoe said so yesterday. He is not too fond of ontbijtkoek but when he cut off a slice for my breakfast he noticed it smelled so good! :)

Today also proved that the sunflower seed bread I discovered on Tuesday holds up well after it has been frozen. Yay! Now I just need to look if the organic store closer to home also sells this Flemish bread.

Any difficulties?

None whatsoever.

Pumpkin-Coconut Soup

I used a Dutch on-line recipe to make this heartwarming pumpkin soup. It’s officially a starter but it came out pretty thick and served well as a main course. That might be the result of the fact that I added a sweet potato the recipe didn’t call for, but on the other hand I had only half a pumpkin. Anyway, you can choose to dilute it by adding more broth. Here’s 10 steps to comfort food!

Pumpkin-Coconut Soup

Ingredients

Serves 4.

  • 1 small orange pumpkin (washed)
  • optional: 1 sweet potato
  • 1/2 stalk lemon grass; washed (I always put fresh Asian herbs into the freezer in portions ready to use)
  • 30 gram ginger (I had only about 15 grams left)
  • 1 red chilli pepper; cleaned and seeds removed
  • 1 tbs oil (sunflower)
  • 350 ml vegetable broth
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbs pumpkin seeds

Preparation

  1. Cut the pumpkin in half, remove seeds and chop up the meat.
  2. Peel potato and cut into small dices.
  3. Chop up lemon grass.
  4. Peel ginger and chop finely.
  5. Chop chilli pepper.
  6. Heat oil and fry all the chopped up ingredients for a few minutes.
  7. Add broth and coconut milk, bring to a boil and let cook for 15 minutes.
  8. Toast the pumpkin seeds in the meantime.
  9. Mash up soup using blender.
  10. Serve sprinkled with pumpkin seeds.

Enjoy!

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ExtraVeganza logo, © variomatic

It’s only the 2nd day of my ExtraVeganza project and I’m already not keeping up with posting daily. Sorry! But more importantly: the vegan eating is going well and I feel weirdly ehm.. ‘clean’. And you may take that by its different meanings. ;) It feels good!

Day 2 Menu

Breakfast: winter fruit salad (apple, banana, kiwi fruit, pink grapefruit & lemon juice), toast with Marmite & soy margarine (Provamel).

Lunch: 3 ‘5-seeds sandwiches’

Vegan sammies

  1. Veganaise, avocado, tomato, mustard cress, chili flakes, salt & pepper. My favorite of the day! It was smoothy & crisp — YUM!
  2. Tofutti ‘cream cheese’ spread (garlic & herbs) with gherkin, walnuts, salt & pepper. This sammy was pretty good too: garlicky, nutty & sour — a good combination.
  3. Slices of Taifun almond-sesame smoked tofu with tomato, mustard, capers and fresh herbs (thyme & parsley). The mustard was a bit too sharp, overwhelming the tofu. But it was funny to notice this combination tasted slightly Japanese! It was the tamari soy sauce and sesame of the smoked tofu combined with the bite of the mustard and ‘pickled’ capers. Still, next time I will use some other toppings, like the leftover spicy soy-lemon sauce from my Experimental Bento.

Dinner: hamburger

Snacks: home-baked Paradise Cookies, Bonvita vegan chocolate (rice milk chocolate & 71% dark with cranberries), cashews

Experiences

I was hungry again pretty soon after breakfast, but that might have something to do with the fact I had been looking at cookie recipes non-stop. ;)

Since I then made an extra sandwich for lunch (I usually take 2), it tided me over to dinner after 7. Completely averting my usual hunger attack around 4 o’clock! Wow.

Any difficulties?
Nope. What might have been a complication on Day 2 was No-Problem-At-All. We were having dinner prior to a Lost-2 mini marathon at my cousin’s and decided on a hamburger meal together. :)

So I had my Albert Heijn organic vegan burger on a small ciabatta bun from the whole food store, piled with veggies, ketchup and… garlic sauce based on the amazing veganaise I had whipped up in Happy Herbi’s Eat Good, Feel Good cooking workshop that was my official ExtraVeganza kick-off.

And no telly night without snacks to munch on! ;)

Vegan chocolate couvertureI’m one of those rare people that doesn’t have a craving for chocolate. I like a bite every once in a while and at those moments I prefer milk chocolate with nuts or white. You won’t catch me eating a piece of dark chocolate. ;) But my cousin likes it a lot so I wanted to bring some — and of course I tasted both.

To me the ricemilk chocolate couverture tasted pretty dark although the 71% one is stronger and the cranberries are a great addition. This brand uses 100% FairTrade and organic cacao.

Vegan Paradise Cookies

Today was also my first try at vegan baking. I chose an easy-looking recipe from Vegalicious for which I only needed to buy 1 extra ingredient: canned pineapple. My Vegan Paradise Cookies didn’t turn out as good looking as promised — rather pale as you can see, but they do taste nice!

Vegalicious' Vegan Paradise Cookies

They’re not as sweet as mass-produced, shop-bought and I rather like that. They’re a little crunchy on the outside, soft and a bit cake-like on the inside. I didn’t know they would be that way, so I had them in the oven twice as long as I was supposed to because they still felt elastic to the touch. It also took me waaaaaaay longer to make them than I had thought, because getting the ingredients ready (chopping nuts, mincing pineapple) took some time. So we were a bit late on our dinner date :-o

The recipe on Vegalicious doesn’t mention when to use the vanilla, so I put it in with the flour and baking powder. My batter didn’t turn out too wet to handle, like a note on the original recipe says, but that might have to do with the fact I couldn’t find any ‘sweetened coconut flakes’ and used ordinary grated coconut, which I always have in stock.

Everybody liked the chocolate as well as my coconut cookies. My family also tasted the garlic sauce and thought it good (although they took the dairy version that was also available, probably not wanting me to have too little ;)
So it’s safe to say that our ‘Friday Snack Night’ was a success. ;)

On with Gnoe’s vegan adventures on Day 3 of ExtraVeganza!

– – – – –

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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Oh nooooos! Reading up on some of the Weekend Cooking posts I stumbled upon a new challenge Margot mentioned: Whip Up Something New! *SIGH* I just updated my Challenge Page & sidebar yesterday and now they’re not up-to-date any more. Behind again! Yeah well, I had to join, right?

Whip up something new! logo

Whip up something new! is a monthly challenge for the many of of us who promise ourselves that we’ll try new recipes and yet we end up cooking the same old things. Although it was inspired by organising those ripped/cut out recipes, if you don’t have such a pile of paper to sift through, feel free to make something from one of your cookbooks or from the hundreds of fabulous cooking blogs. The point is to try cooking new things!

As I try some new recipes each month (often even weekly) this really isn’t much of a dare to me. The hard part is blogging them! I’m hoping this challenge will help me do just that. Fits perfectly with the newly set blogging routine of 2×4 hours I decided upon; I might even need to make a monthly topic schedule! LOL

Anyway, as January’s Hello Japan! mission is to try Something New as well, I thought I’d share  the white miso soup recipe I tried yesterday.

Miraculous Miso Soup

Undeserving picture of white miso soup

I made this dish to bring along to a friend’s house, where we were going to watch Chef of South Polar, about a Japanese cook making marvellous meals for a small research team on Antarctica. It was just a small offering compared to the work she put in making us vegetarian sushi, which even turned out completely vegan. One of the maki rolls contained kanpyo: sweet pickled pumpkin which I had never had before and tasted wonderful! It’s on my grocery list ;) and I’m looking forward to making onigiri with it!

Cover The VegetarianTable: Japan (Victoria Wise)

But on to the White Miso Soup recipe I took from The Vegetarian Table: Japan cookbook by Victoria Wise (page 41). It is absolutely delicious! I don’t think I ever want to try another recipe ;) The picture above really doesn’t do it justice.

I had made some parboiled carrot flowers and small bundles of mustard cress for decoration — which unfortunately dropped straight to the bottom of the bowls… :( Well, lesson learnt ;)

Ingredients
Serves 4.

  • 1 tofu puff sachet (aburaage) cut in 8 thin slices; can be substituted by 115 gr / 4 oz soft tofu in cubes
  • 825 ml / 3.5 cups vegetable dashi (Japanese stock)
    Note: prefab dashi usually contains bonito, which is a type of fish. You can sometimes buy a vegan version in health stores or well-stocked Asian stores, but why not make it yourself? I’ve used the recipe from Victoria Wise’s cookbook, freezing portions for quick future use. I have no doubt Maki’s on-line recipe is quite as good. Since I’m now out of dashi stock I might just try it myself!
  • white part of 1 small leek, sliced into very thin rounds and well rinsed
  • 5-6 tbs white miso
  • 12 strands (about 4 cm / 1.5 inch each) of lemon zest ~ use organic!
  • personal addition (optional): thin slices of carrot (pre-cooked), any kind of cress or finely shredded cabbage

Preparation

  1. Place the tofu slices in a colander and pour boiling water over them to rinse off the oil. Set aside.
  2. Optional: prepare other decorative ingredients.
  3. Put the dashi in a medium pot or microwave bowl and bring to a boil.
  4. Place the miso in a small bowl, add 125 ml (0.5 cup) of the warm dashi and whisk to smooth. Set aside.
  5. Add the tofu puff slices, leek and optional carrot to the dashi an simmer very gently for about 2 minutes until wilted.
  6. Stir in the miso, taking care not to let the liquid boil again.
  7. Ladle into soup bowls, dividing the ingredients equally.
  8. Garnish with lemon zest (and optional cress).
  9. Serve right away. Itadakimasu!

The easy part

This soup is really easy to make and it only takes a little time when you have all the ingredients at hand.

The hard part

The hardest part was cutting my slices of lemon zest, even though I have a special tool for it — called lemon zester ;) I guess I’ll need to practice! Since the soup is cloudy and ingredients sunk to the bottom, it also wasn’t easy to share them equally.

White miso

I’m submitting this post to January’s Hello Japan! because I haven’t used shiromiso before. At least not to my knowledge — although Mr Gnoe disputes that. There are three major types of this Japanese fermented bean paste: white (shiromiso), red (akamiso) and awasemiso; which is a blend of both.

For many years we’ve only had red miso (like I said: solely, as far as I can remember), which is much saltier. I’m now dying to try miso tamago with the more subtle flavoured shiromiso — the way it’s supposed to be made! Better do that before my ExtraVeganza pilot starts next week ;)

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Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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