Sunday, August 23, 2009

In which I honor a non-veg's request

In July, my good friends from CA came to visit me for a long weekend. They are both omnis, but having eaten my food before, trust me to feed them well. Still, the hostess in me needed a back up plan, so I bought a frozen dinner to have on hand just in case either of them wanted something else.

During that weekend we had my famous potstickers and now-famous lasagna (both recipes will be blogged the next time I make them). We also had these quick and easy raspberry turnovers.

When Sharon learned of my new blog, her first request was for this recipe. So here it is, Share-bear. Enjoy!

Almond-Raspberry Turnovers

1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed (Pepperidge Farm brand happens to be vegan!)
raspberry jam

For the icing:

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 TBS soy milk
slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut each piece of pastry into 4 or 5 pieces (a pizza cutter makes this easy).

Open each piece by unfolding it. Place about a TBS of raspberry jam in the center portion.

Fold the sides back up, first one then the other. Press gently to seal. If you don't, the jam will all melt and run out while they're cooking! And that just sucks.

Bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle rack, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 30 minutes.

To make the icing, combine everything except the slivered almonds in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the cooled turnovers. Before icing sets, sprinkle with slivered almonds.

These are best served warm.

I've also made these into a hor'dourve-type dessert. To do so, cut puff pastry into squares. Top each square with a tsp of jam in the center (centering it is important; the jam will sort of sink in while it cooks, instead of running all over). Bake for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Top with icing and almonds when cooled, as above.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In which I loathe tofu

I have a confession to make.

I hate tofu.

Ok, that's not really true. It's ok in hot n' sour soup. And I've had it a few times in restaurants, battered and fried (which just seems wrong) and it's "ok." I can eat it, but I don't really love it.

Then I went to P.F. Changs. Now P.F. Changs is a little bit of veg heaven, since everything on the vegetarian menu is vegan. I also hate making a fuss in restaurants, so going somewhere, where I can order stuff right off the menu, is lovely to me.

And that's how I met P.F. Changs' veggie wraps. The contrast of the little chewy bits of tofu, the crunch of the lettuce, the spicy tang of the sauce. YUM.

Turns out I do like tofu when it's chewy and not mushy, and is imbued with soy sauce and ginger and garlic.

It wasn't long until I had to make my own. I started by buying some pre-baked tofu at the grocery store, and the texture is great, but it's hella expensive. So I've also learned to make my own baked tofu, too.

The lettuce wraps aren't exactly the same as P.F. Changs, but they are close enough to satisfy my cravings. The only really bad thing about them is that I have to share with the kids :/

Veggie lettuce wraps
Serves 4 for dinner; more as an appetizer

1 block extra-firm organic tofu, drained and pressed**
4oz shitake mushrooms, diced
1 can sliced water chestnuts, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 bunch of green onions, sliced thinly
3 tsp minced garlic, divided
1 TBS fresh mint, minced
2 tsp minced or grated ginger, divided
3 TBS soy sauce, divided
2 TBS sesame oil, divided
Iceberg or other lettuce leaves
Special sauce (recipe below)

** to press tofu, drain and place on a plate lined with paper towels, put another couple paper towels on top, and cover with a heavy pan for approximately 15 minutes

Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Dice the drained and pressed tofu into 1/2" cubes. Spread on the baking sheet, and sprinkle with 2 TBS of the soy sauce, 1 TBS of the sesame oil, 1 tsp of the ginger, and 1 tsp of the garlic. Toss gently to coat, spread out as much as possible, and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring 2-3 times, until lightly browned and chewy.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 TBS of sesame oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for a minute, then add the red and green onion, water chestnuts, 2 tsp of garlic, 1 TBS of mint, 1 tsp of ginger, and 1 TBS of soy sauce. Stir fry for another minute, add the tofu to combine, and cook for 1 minute more.

Spoon into lettuce cups and top with special sauce.

Special sauce
recipe is per person; adjust as desired

2 parts potsticker or gyoza sauce (or use soy)
1 part chinese hot mustard
1 part fresh ground chili paste (available in most grocery stores, or at an asian market)

Mix with a whisk and serve. Note: adjust hot mustard and chili based on your heat tolerance. I put just a touch of them in the portions I serve to the kids, for example.


Monday, August 17, 2009

In which I begin this blog

I'm still tinkering with this, but I'm tired of the details. Let's get to the good stuff.

Bean burgers with garlic roasted fingerling potatoes.

These burgers are one of my staples. They're cheap, easy, the kids love them, and they're good for you. The vital wheat gluten is available from Bob's Red Mill (among other sources) and I can find it at my local store (PCC, Whole Foods, QFC). Vital wheat gluten may sound strange, but it's just the stuff that lends chewiness to breads and doughs. In this recipe, it's what gives the burgers their "meaty" texture.

Once you have the basic ingredients, you can make 4-6 burgers for the price of a can of beans. These grill up like normal burgers, so they're great for camping (and since it's dry/canned ingredients, no worry about spoilage).

Bean burgers (my adaptation of a recipe from Veganomicon):

1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 TBS ketchup or tomato paste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup water

In a bowl, mash the beans with a fork or potato masher until no whole beans remain. Add remaining ingredients and mix (hands work well) for a minute or two until a dough forms. Divide into 4-6 burgers. Pan fry or grill (these work on the BBQ just fine). Serve as you would any burger.

For the potatoes, I just cut them in half, tossed them with a little olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic. You can use any small potatoes; these are a mix of various fingerlings, including purple. Roast at 450 for about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender, stirring once. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and serve.