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I can hardly believe it: here’s Monday again and a whole week of VeganMofo has passed. Not only that, I managed to post every day! Yay me. ;) I’m really enjoying blogging again. :))

Today we’re having comforting Thai carrot soup here at Graasland. There are three ways to make this recipe:
a) quick and dirty easy,
b) less quick but still dirty easy,
c) elaborate — involving making your own curry paste from scratch.

I’m a medium-sized grrl. ;) So here’s version B!

Thai Carrot Soup Recipe

Thai Carrot Soup

Ingredients
Serves 2-3.

  • 300 g clean carrots (if you’d like to peel instead of wash them you’ll need about 450 g to start with)
  • 1.5-2 tbs olive, peanut or rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 heaped tbs of red curry paste (check the ingredients to make sure it’s vegan)
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • salt & pepper
  • optional: 1 tbs lime juice
  • optional: chopped cilantro

Oven-roasted carrots for Thai Carrot Soup

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 225 °C (gas 5).
  2. Cut the carrot into 1 cm pieces. Put them in a casserole with 1 tbs of oil and mix until all the carrot is coated with oil.
  3. Put it in the oven for about 25-35 minutes or until tender.
  4. In the meantime chop the onion.
  5. When the carrots are done, heat the left over oil in a pan. Bake onion, crushed garlic and curry paste for a few minutes until soft.
  6. Add carrots, stock and coconut milk, bring to a boil and quietly simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and blend to a smooth consistency.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus lime juice if using.
  9. Garnish soup in bowls with chopped cilantro.

The easy way out -you may have guessed- is to just cook the carrots in the stock. The soup is still good that way, but I really recommend roasting the veg in the oven because it enhances the taste. And it’s not much effort; just waiting time in which you can type up a blog post. ;)

This is one of the favourite dishes on our rotation scheme. It’s great for bento too, as it can be eaten on room temperature or chilled. If you plan to eat it cold I advise you to add some more broth as the colder the soup, the thicker it is.

I hope you’ll like this Thai carrot soup too!

ExtraVeganza logo, © variomatic

Don’t you think today’s office lunch looks really cheerful?! :D

Flowery Fall Bento #197

First tier
Red Batavia lettuce, French onion, cucumber and radish flowers finished off with African Peper Mix, salt, yuzu powder and nori cutting. Nooo, I did not do that by hand. ;) Oven-roasted butternut squash with coriander seeds in the cup, and a tiny tomato from the balcony.

Second tier
Seitan stroganoff and minty leek bulgur with a fresh mint blossom.

Third tier
The fruit tier: kiwi, red grapefruit, orange and home-grown yellow raspberries with a bundle of mint.

On the side
Dressing for the raw vegetables and more proteins: a soy caramel dessert.

A little of the fresh mint went into the bulgur, the rest I used for a cup of herbal tea. :)

This bento mostly consists of leftovers: the seitan, grains and pumpkin were all on the menu the past few days. The citrus wedges I put aside yesterday when I was having a bowl of fruit. So you see: it really doesn’t have to be a lot of work!

Now, maybe you’re wondering what happens to the cut-off pieces of crudités — I know I used to when I was a beginning bentoïst! But there are several solutions.

  • In this case they’re hidden beneath the flowers. :)
  • You can snack on them while compiling your bento.
  • They can be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated until evening or the next day, when you can throw them in a salad, soup, tofu scramble, stew or whatever.

Maybe you have an even better idea? Whatever you do: wasting them is not an option. ;)

ExtraVeganza logo, © variomatic

Today’s small Meatless Monday bento, next to which I had two houmous-cucumber sandwiches providing the necessary carbs in my lunch.

Messy Meatless Monday Bento #185 (11-06-2012)

Main container

  • Steamed broccoli with garlic pepper, salt and dried yuzu zest
  • Cherry tomatoes wit basil and black olives
  • A date
  • 2 homemade parsley-tofu balls with musterd sauce and cocktail sauce
  • Chocolate mousse in heart-cup, covered with strawberries

All on a bed of lettuce.

Side container

  • Wild peach
  • Cucumber slices
  • Sauce container carrying basil dressing for the tomatoes, olives and lettuce

On the side

  • Clementine

A lunch like this is a good start of the week!

 

Meatless Monday button (NL-versie)

As a Dutch foodie blogger quartet we had so much fun with our previous ‘cool collective Weekend Cooking post’ (about dips & spreads), that we decided to do another blog hop this month. Tofu & Tempeh is today’s topic.

Greek salad with faux feta

I chose a recipe that I had my doubts about but wanted to try anyway: tofu feta. I’ve heard plenty of positive stories but would not believe it could really taste like the real thing. And there was only one way to find out! As a newbie vegan I do sometimes miss the fresh, somewhat stingy taste of dairy, like in feta, yoghurt, sour cream and things like that.

But what am I saying… v-gan newbie??? This post marks my 1 year anniversary of going ExtraVeganza!

ExtraVeganza logo, © variomatic

What started out as a 10-day pilot meant to help reduce my intake of animal products in January 2011, turned into Gnoe going totally herbivore. Although I know I’ve come quite far, it’s rather shocking to hear it’s already been a year. O_o

My biggest hurdle is still the feeling that I’m a pain in the *ss for other people, whether they are friends, family or restauranteurs. :\ But I’m healthy and it feels really good to live this way, so I’m mostly very HAPPY about the step I took! :)

As you probably know, soy products like tofu and tempeh are an important protein source for vegetarians and vegans. Except if you’re unlucky like our Weekend Cooking host Beth Fish, who is hyper-sensitive to it. I don’t know what I’d do without my daily soy cappuccino!

Faux feta

So today I’m sharing a tofu recipe: faux feta. There are many recipes around, but I used the one from Becky’s Tasty Planet. She served it to a Greek omni friend and it passed the test!

Most mock feta recipes are easy to whip up but they need a lot of waiting time. Marinating often takes a minimum of 24 hours. What actually happens during that time is that the fermenting process is (re)activated.

Ingredients

Ingredients for Faux Feta

  • 250 g tofu
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 big or 2 small garlic cloves, smashed but left whole
  • dried oregano (to taste)
  • crushed red pepper (to taste)

Preparation

  1. Drain tofu and wrap in a clean kitchen towel or paper.
  2. Place a cutting board on top and weigh that down with something heavy like a cast iron or water-filled pan, books, cans of beans, etc. Leave for ca. 30 minutes to drain out excess liquid.
  3. In the meantime whisk together the rest of the ingredients for the marinade.
  4. Unwrap the tofu and cut into 1 cm thick slices.
  5. Put the tofu in a container with a well-closing lid, pour over the marinade and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, preferably 2-3 days.
  6. Flip the container every few hours to ensure even coverage.
  7. Pat the tofu pieces dry before use and crumble or cut into desired shape.

Taste test

I was pleasantly surprised with the taste and texture of this faux feta. The bite actually resembles the real thing and its sour tang is good too. You could use a little more salt (real cheese is pretty salty most of the time), but that can be easily fixed with a salad dressing as well. Still, this is no feta cheese. I guess that’s why Becky called it “feta-style marinated tofu” in her post. :)

I will probably make it again and try other recipes as well, like this one on Vegweb. Have I made you curious enough to have a go at it?

Salad with feta-style marinated tofu

Please check out the yummy recipes my fellow blog hoppers shared!

- – - – -

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

Beth Fish Weekend Cooking logo

ExtraVeganza logo, © variomatic

Today is the 10-week anniversary of Gnoe going ExtraVeganza! It has been going well and I feel really good about it all; I finally have some peace of mind. Of course it’s not all easy (like spontaneously eating out), but I expect most hurdles will get easier in time. Although I’m not sure yet what to do about Easter… :\

We’ve got nothing special planned for today — in fact there’s usually something easy for dinner on Thursday and tonight it’s falafel. Yum!

Hiking Bento (#138)

Even before I started my ExtraVeganza! pilot project at the end of January I had already taken on the challenge of veganizing my bentos. Resulting in a 100% plant-based bento year!

Yesterday’s was a box of four o’clock goodies that I ate on stage 6 of the Groene Hartpad with @variomatic, a 12 km hike from Nieuwkoop to Slikkendam. We wanted to walk on a bit longer but then we would have had to continue for another 10 kilometres and that really was too much… The weather was absolutely awesome so we had a great day out! Let’s get that summer going! ;)

Hiking Bento, 06-04-2011

Left tier

  • Braised eggplant
  • Nasi goreng (fried rice)
  • ‘Facon Bacon’ strips (tempeh)
  • Endive, radish, cucumber and wasabi sesame details

Right tier

  • BBQ-style mushrooms (cremini and portobello)
  • Stir-fried spinach & leek with sesame seeds
  • Radish divider and cucumber flower

Side container

  • Dried fruit (cranberries & apricots)
  • Nuts (cashews, walnuts, peanuts & pecans)

Bento Lunch button

Whip Up Something New! button

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

food pics bar

Next year, early January 2012, it will be 20 years ago that I stopped eating meat. I started out as a pescatarian but as time progressed, fish just seemed to become a replacement for meat. That was not what I had intended. So I banned seafood from my diet as well, and became a lacto-ovo vegetarian: eating no animal products except dairy, eggs and honey.

Now I’m ready for the next step.

I’ve made a resolution to eat much fewer animal products in 2011.

I didn’t particularly start out being a vegetarian just because of animal welfare; that was part of my motivation along with environmental issues and the belief a meat-free diet is healthier. But I now really hate the thought that animals are being harmed and killed to produce cheese, milk and yes, even eggs. That I buy organic produce does not change that fact.

So where to begin?

First I need to get the vegan lifestyle more into my system; have loads of animal-free products, recipes and alternatives at hand. I can only accomplish that by committing 100%! So let me introduce my personal 10 day vegan pilot: ExtraVeganza!

ExtraVeganza logo, © variomatic

Cool logo huh? A HUGE ‘THANK YOU’ to variomatic who created it for me! :))

ExtraVeganza

I’m going to kick-off Gnoe’s vegan adventures on January 27th by taking part in Happie Herbi’s Eat Good, Feel Good workshop.

I hope to blog about my findings each day for the whole 10 day period (Thursday January 28th-Sunday February 5th). Think Julie & Julia, but in a vegan version. ;)

I want to log my menus for future reference but you can also expect recipes, product reviews and my thoughts on cookbooks or recipe websites. As time allows, anyway ;)

I plan to visit the recently opened Vegetarische Slager (‘Vegetarian Butcher’) in The Hague, compare different vegan alternatives like seitan (‘Buddhist meat’), tempeh, different kinds of tofu and possible ready-cooked ‘meat replacers’. Most shop-bought vegetarian burgers contain either egg or milk-derived proteins though.

One evening Mr Gnoe and I will be eating out at Kitchen Punx in ACU, the only (!) vegan eatery in my not-so-small hometown.

Of course I’ll make sure that my diet is healthy, supplementing B12. If it’s not too much of a hassle I’ll keep track of my nutritional intake in the ‘nutrition gauge’ (Eetmeter) on the Voedingscentrum website. This Nutrition Centre is funded by our Ministry of Health and considered a reliable source of information.

But to begin with I need to put together an ExtraVeganza pilot tab in my Netvibes page so I’ll have all vegan resources in one spot — I might just share the page when I’m done!

- – - – -

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

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