clean out the fridge Pra Ram style noodle dinner

fridge food

Quite recently, I purchased peanut butter after forgetting it existed for a couple of months.  I was glad I did, because it came to the rescue the other night on an almost too-warm-to-cook, clean-out-the-fridge-for-dinner evening. I was grasping for ideas and near gasping for breath until I remembered that I had just enough odds and ends of vegetables and to lightly cook and pair with an easy peanut sauce.  The sliced tofu was the last piece of Nasoya extra firm that had been marinating in a light fishy mixture of crumbled nori, soy sauce, vegetarian fish sauce, mirin, and fresh ginger.

The completed meal was reminiscent of Pra Ram, but served with buckwheat rice vermicelli, as opposed to a bed of greens or steamed rice.  I dig this type of vermicelli because it’s cheap, versatile, and remains sturdier vs. the traditional rice version – especially as leftovers.

Satisfyingly served at room temperature, and sprinkled with gomasio.

clean out the fridge

The extra peanut sauce is requesting some satay action. Dip party to commence.

Picture 020

One last thing – I’m quite possibly in love with my new tablecloth.

Tales from the Nut: Cashew Mushroom Alfredo

Vegan Cashew Alfredo, topped with sautéed Maitake and Porcini Mushrooms

cashew

If you’re vegan and enjoy cooking, I’m sure soaking nuts for cream sauces and vegan cheeses has already entered your culinary repertoire. If not, get on it. I’ve enjoyed my share of tofu-based cream sauces, but the silkiness of soaked nuts usually overrules thick soy.  If you’re allergic to nuts, well, I’ll cry into my cashew alfredo for you, and sympathetically relay my soul-crushing hazelnut allergy developments. It’s hard to admit, because that makes it real.

This recent cashew and mushroom alfredo was inspired by a lovely meal at a famed vegan trattoria down the street, and the never-ending container of soaked cashews in my fridge. I must be secretly hosting soft-toothed squirrels because my cats are simply not capable of such a production.

I loosely followed this recipe for Cashew Alfredo Sauce on Vegweb.  The sauce consisted of soaked cashews, water,  salt, freshly ground black pepper, freshly ground nutmeg, and nutritional yeast. It was pureed in one of the prides of my kitchen (and oh-my-god, food blogging perks), the Vita-Mix. I didn’t have any lemons, so I omitted that, and utilized garlic and olive oil while sauteing local maitake and porcini mushrooms. I half-considered indulgently adding the cream sauce to the mushroom mixture, but my personal preference was to keep things separate.

When I nut alfredo it up again, I’ll be sure to add sautéed or roasted garlic into the actual sauce.

alongside: Balsamic Grilled Sugar Snap Peas

balsamic grilled sugar snap peas

Cashew Alfredo, served over housemade fresh pasta from Pastaworks (a few varieties are actually vegan!)

cashew

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dave’s killer breaded seitan

Dave’s Killer Breaded Seitan, Steamed Kale, BBQ Sauce

This very American dinner was appropriately based around the seitan lite from the American Vegan Cookbook.  Of course, the other star is the pride of the Pacific Northwest: Dave’s Killer Bread.

The baked seitan cutlets were breaded with a mixture of toasted, pulverized Dave’s Killer Good Seed bread, freshly ground black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, oregano, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, and sweet paprika. The cutlets were dipped in a water and cornstarch slurry, and then pressed firmly into the mixed crumbs. The cutlets were sprayed with canola oil and baked on parchment paper at 375F for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through and spraying again. They were baked at 425F for an extra 5 minutes for crispy-ness’ sake.

Soon to be breading action

Your dinner is served

steamed kale and blueberries, direct from the new Pioneer Square farmar

I picked up two half pints of blueberries. My berry excitement is about to come to well, fruition this weekend – the first in a series of therapeutic and fulfilling weekend berry picking adventures!

before the surprisingly competitive slashing of prices…

Grilled Seitan and Portobello with Pistou

Grilled Seitan and sliced Portobello with Pistou

pistou

I may not have a garden with fresh basil, or a backyard to grill in, but I do have access to numerous, inviting farmers markets and my handy dandy cast iron grilling pan.  I don’t completely forget about it in the winter; the desire to grill simply springs out this time of year.

Pistou sauce is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. I don’t have one in my life, but I do have blending machines. This post really is all about looking on the bright side and smashing basil.

The seitan is based on the Seitan Cutlets in Veganomicon.  I cooked it as one large uh, dough, and played with the seasonings a bit.  The baking broth included basil, black pepper, and Bill’s Best Chick’nish seasoning.  Both sliced seitan strips and de-gilled portobella mushroom slices were carefully tossed and marinated in 1/2 cup of pistou for 30 minutes prior to grilling.

Basically, pistou is a generous, nutless pesto.  A lot of the recipes online call for fancy cheese, but traditionally, it doesn’t have to.  I stuck with a tablespoon of nooch. Any more, and it would have become cheesy sauce pistou.  Nothing wrong with that, and I believe in pesto mac, but it wasn’t what I was going for with this.  I added the vegetable broth because I didn’t want something incredibly oily, so do what you will.

The Pistou ingredients:

  • 1.5-2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable broth, or water
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 clove of garlic (go for 2 if you’re using small cloves)

Directions: Pulse quickly in your blender or food processor.  You’re not looking to completely puree this, you want some specks of herb left.

This makes about 1 cup of sauce.  Use the leftover pistou as a marinade, spoon onto soup, make a sandwich spread mixed with Vegenaise, or do as I did, and top your favorite dishes.

Pistou

Pistou

Plated, over local green leaf lettuce

Pistou

Photo Essay: The Best & The Rest of NYC (of my winter vacation)

Vegan Ice Cream at Stogo

STOGO

Starting with the Ten Best NYC Vegan Experiences of my winter vacation, in no particular order:

  1. The entire Vegetarian Dim Sum House Experience
  2. Carrot Tahini spread and Terra Sana Syrah at Candle Café – nothing else I sampled there interested me.  It was underwhelming the more ‘upscale’ dining attempt (on a budget) of my vacation. Photos below.
  3. Earl Grey infused Vodka Cocktail at Angel’s Share
  4. Toasted Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with blueberry tofu cream cheese from Bagels on the Square – plus the half dozen I brought back with me
  5. Dinner at Soy & Sake – specifically, the specialty sushi rolls and shrimp tempura appetizer. It was the vacation of fake shrimp and Daiya.  Overall, the best dinner of my vacation was here.  No photos, because every now and then I refrain.
  6. Gluten & Vegetables Pan Fried Noodles at Buddha Bodai – I get this every time I’m there.
  7. Vegan Knuckle Sandwich at Boneshakers -While I still think Daiya is more to look at than actually eat, I appreciated it in this glorious bagel sandwich.
  8. Dr. Cow’s cashew hemp nut cheese from Lifethyme Market – brought back to Portland, but in the running!
  9. The atmosphere & organic Ambrosia White Plum Tea at Wild Ginger, NYC
    • Side note: They refer to themselves as a vegan cafe, but the menu notes a few non-vegan offerings with whey, for example. Order carefully. My lunch here was the night after food poisoning, so I can’t say much about my meal because I picked at it.
  10. Toasted Almond Joy ice cream at Stogo – I dig this solid, gelato style shop. I’m not trying to take sides in the vegan ice cream shoppe wars, I just really like their ice cream. I haven’t been wowed by every flavor I’ve sampled, but I’ve been at least intrigued.  Toasted Almond Joy and Coffee have been my favorites so far, and my sister repeatedly orders the Coconut Vanilla..

Honorable Mentions:

  • Veganized Novice Pesto slice with sun-dried tomatoes and Daiya at Slice – even though once my friend Millie sampled it and said the pesto tasted like pickles, it invaded my experience. You order custom, organic slices here, and they offer vegan pesto and Daiya – which again, was all over NYC.
  • Soy Latte at Tillie’s of Brooklyn (another place with Daiya!)
  • Soy Cappucino at the dear minibar, East Village
  • and because it may have been the cause of late night food poisoning, but I’ll return for more, just the same: Oasis falafel, Brooklyn
  • Economy Candy – because it rules.

Recs? I’m well aware of favorites  I didn’t stop by during my brief vacation, and places I wanted to try (like Cocoa V, the freaking new vegan chocolate shoppe, Counter and Blossom) – any suggestions for my next pilgrimage?

The Photos and the arrival:

nyc

Upon arrival in NYC via good ‘ole Fung Wah from Boston, I decided to walk a few blocks into Chinatown for some vegan Chinese food. It was time for an early lunch after a long bus ride, the sibling I was staying with was just waking up for the day (of course), and her current neighborhood isn’t exactly known for its vegan options. Little did I realize, I was walking into the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade.   I didn’t quite comprehend the growing crowds, and then I was stuck first inside, and then within 1 block of Buddha Bodai with my suitcase, unable to go further for a couple hours.  On the plus side, I had meal in Chinatown, in New York City, and I witnessed the excitement of the New Year Parade!  It was wild, and I remembered what crowds are like, to an extreme.  Towards the end I did get a little angry, knocked over a few dozen people with my suitcase, and inched my way to a subway entrance and my mini family reunion.

Smiley Soy Latte at Tillie’s of Brooklyn (I was way too excited to be at a cafe named Tillie’s, with my friend Millie. It made my day).

tilly's

Candle Cafe

The wine

candle cafe

Carrot Apple Ginger juice

candle cafe

Blueberry smoothie

candle cafe

Bread with marinara dip

candle cafe

Bread with carrot tahini spread

candle cafe

Millet Casserole

candle cafe

Daily Special Lasagna (with Daiya)

candle cafe

Cajun Seitan Sandwich

candle cafe

Daily Special: Macadamia encrusted tempeh with quinoa and sautéed vegetables.

candle cafe

This was my entrée – the sides well cooked, but utterly boring, and the tempeh was bland, which breaks my heart to say that anything encrusted, in macadamia nuts, could be.

Vegan Knuckle Sandwich with soy sausage, Daiya cheddar, and tofu scramble on a bagel at Boneshakers in Brooklyn

Boneshakers NYC

Vegan sausage sandwich at Boneshakers

boneshakers, nyc

Boneshakers

boneshakers, brooklyn

Cappuccino from miniBar

nyc

Falafel at Oasis, Brooklyn

Oasis Falafel

My sister, Jen, creepily waving her hand, in front of the Vegetarian Dim Sum House. The rest of my photos can be found on the Stumptown Vegans Guide.

Veg Dim Sum, NYC

Pesto Slice, at Slice

Slice, NYC

Stogo counter

Stogo

Lifethyme Natural Market - I’ve rarely been in NYC and not stopped here.

NYC

Wild Ginger – first time.

Wild Ginger

King Oyster Mushrooms appetizer

Wild Ginger

Sauteed Tofu & Vegetables in Brown Sauce (lunch special, my order – I really appreciated the side of kabacha squash)

wild ginger

Smoked Teriyaki Seitan with Sugar Snap Peas (lunch special, not vegan, not mine!)

wild ginger

Miso Soup

wild ginger

Singapore Mai-fun with vegi fish cake (lunch special)

wild ginger

Ambrosia White Plum Tea

Wild Ginger

Wild Ginger, and my reckless suitcase

Wild Ginger

Only in New York.

freaking Rice Pudding restaurant

rice puddin'

Jenny, Millie, and Mike in front of MooShoes

strike a pose

Alright, that’s it for the travel recap of my winter vacation in Boston and NYC! Here’s Part I and Part II.

Mr. Paik’s Favorite Grilled Seitan Bulgogi

After his daughter surreptitiously purchased a controlling interest in Paik Heavy Industries, Woo-Jung Paik’s stress levels were a scary sight. Not as scary as the blank look in Sayid’s eyes these days, but enough that he finally listened to his doctor (Dr. Mittlesomething?) about lowering his semi-worrisome cholesterol.  Which brings us to his personal chef’s Grilled Seitan Bulgogi.

grilled bulgogi seitan

Served with white rice and steamed broccoli raab, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

steamed broccoli raab and white rice

Let’s pretend I snuck into the Paik mansion’s kitchen and stole this guide for a cholesterol-free vegan version of Korean Bulgogi Beef.

The homemade seitan was thinly sliced and marinated overnight in a sauce of soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil, dark agave, sugar, minced garlic, grated ginger, green onions, rice vinegar, tons of freshly ground black peppers, and liquid.  I used leftover seitan broth to impart more flavor.  I composed the sauce based on my own taste – please adjust to your own liking.

Bulgogi Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of sherry
  • 2 tablespoons dark agave
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (or all 3 sugar)
  • 2 green onions, chopped (I skimped on this)
  • 2-3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
  • very generous pinch  of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup broth or water

Whisk together. Marinate for multiple hours.

The strips were cooked on a stove top grill pan, and basted with additional sauce after the first flip.  They were kept warm in a baking dish with leftover sauce.

This was served with white rice, steamed broccoli raab, and Sriracha

Sawyer’s Southern Spaghetti and Smokey Greens

Southern Spaghetti with Seitan and Smokey Greens

paired with an Australian merlot

We’ve yet to see this side of James Ford, but I know it’s there.  There is one dish in this LOST character’s romancing-and-swindling-the-ladies repertoire, and this is it.

Smokey greens for three reasons: the name, of course, the Southern tradition, and because Sawyer knows greens help you look that good.

There’s really not much traditionally Southern about the spaghetti sauce itself – I simply discovered after a quick google search that a lot of ‘Southern spaghetti’ recipes called for ground beef or chicken and extra heat.  Let’s just pretend that Sawyer’s parents used to eat this in Alabama, before you know who came along.

I browned diced, homemade seitan in a bit of olive oil, added minced garlic, crushed red pepper, dashes of sea salt and pepper, and tomato basil marinara I had made previously.  I let it simmer for a bit, and served it over whole wheat spaghetti.

The greens were the ‘greens mix’ from Trader Joe’s (collards, mustard greens, kale, etc.); sauteed with garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, crushed red pepper, agave, pepper and liquid smoke.

Also a wonderful accompaniment to a good book.

Image Property of ABC!

Last night’s episode touched my heart, for the record! If you’ve seen my previous LOST related posts, you may know that I adore that you know who.

No spoilers, please.

Veganized Dharma Ration: Macaroni & Cheese Supper

Warning: Simply put – don’t read this if you’re just starting LOST.

It’s a wonder what one can do with their emergency powdered soymilk and stash of nutritional yeast. I’m glad I always travel prepared, just in case my fate is to crash on a mysterious island that cures my woes and never stops testing me.

Dharma Macaroni & Cheese Supper (vegan style)

Sorry, the lighting in this hatch sucks!

This is actually the Lower Fat New Farm Mac & Cheeze, my favorite vegan mac, made with whole wheat shells. I’ve been joking with my fellow LOST fanatic friend, Joanna, that I’m going to make one LOST meal a week during the final season.  I’m already a week behind, but I think Mr. Cluck’s Outback Combo Seitan may have to be next.

dinner is good: cornmeal crusted baked tempeh

Leigh and Ann’s Homemade Creole Sauce from the Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti spooned over thyme-y, cornmeal crusted, baked tempeh strips. Roasted broccoli with fresh lemon, coarse sea salt and pepper.  Steamed yam with sea salt.

creole sauce, cornmeal tempeh

I had been craving good ole tempeh. The tempeh strips were marinated overnight in tamari and the Creole sauce (so good! such a nice tangy flavor!), dipped into a water and cornstarch slurry, then pressed into fine cornmeal with thyme, garlic powder, sea salt, lots of freshly ground pepper, and crushed red pepper, and then baked at 375F for 20 minutes on one side, and then 15 minutes at 400F – for the crispin’.  Served with roasted broccoli, steamed yam, and more Creole sauce.

In my head, and mouth, this meal was channeling the great The Lone Ranger plate at Chaos Cafe.  Except without the quinoa and kale, since I didn’t have them on hand.  Out of quinoa, I know – not even an extra bag of red hiding in my cabinets.  What’s my life coming to?

creole sauce, cornmeal tempeh

In other news, I had no idea there was a tea store tucked behind SE 12th and Division.  My life has changed.  The intersection hosts the new Gorditos, a cute pet store, vegan-friendly Artemis Cafe, and The Beer Mongers (note to self – finally visit!)

Foxfire Teas: Passion Yerba Mate (drinking right now – lovely), Foxfire Herbal Chai and Charcoal Baked Dong Ding. All purchased by the ounce, loose leaf.

apparently, I live near a tea store.

Tea makes everything better.

there’s a recipe for tangerine teriyaki sauce in this post

Tangerine Teriyaki Soba with Tofu, Cabbage and Spinach
teriyaki tangerine soba

I’m giving myself a little pat on the back because this was the best clean-out-the-fridge dinner I’ve made in a while. Really, I’m giving Isa a pat on the back, because I was clearly inspired by test recipes I’ve made for her new book. It’s such a positive influence already! There’s tofu, sautéed cabbage, spinach, garlic,  ginger, and soba noodles, topped with some spur-of-the-moment teriyaki sauce.  I’ve been on a spending hiatus and have been focused on throwing odds and ends into scrambles, stir fries and risotto.

Tangerine Teriyaki Sauce (small amount for 2 servings, double as needed)

  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • juice of one small tangerine
  • dash sesame chili oil (or quick dash of sesame oil and chili paste)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Whisk together. Heat briefly on the stove or in the microwave. Add to your stir fry after everything is cooked, toss, serve, smile, eat, take a walk, sleep.

If I hadn’t already added a lot of minced garlic and ginger to the stir fry, I would have added it here!

Next up is another hodgepodge dish – Chickpea Breaded Seitan Tenders

chickpea baked seitan

It’s boiled seitan cut into strips, and breaded with a mixture of ground, roasted chickpeas, nutritional yeast and seasoned breadcrumbs.  They were simply dipped into vegetable broth, breaded and baked at 400F for 20 minutes on each side.  Basically, I was on a roasted chickpea kick, and then fell out of it and ground them to make a super-protein-ist meal.

And here’s Zelda doing one of the things she does best, investigating a plate with greens.  From The  Urban Vegan: Sloppy Joes – these were so easy to whip up!

-Sorry, photo unavailable-

They were a little sweet for me, so next time I’d cut down the sugar a smidgen.  Served with grilled creminis and kale salad ala The Ruby Dragon – with avocado, sea salt and fresh lemon juice.  I’ve been on a roll with that this past week!  I really like that the avocado doesn’t brown and I can keep a big bowl of it around.

Coming soonLOST themed party snacks, GALORE.  My friend Susie is in town and we’re hosting Benjamin Linus Throws a Dinner Party this weekend.  Dharma labels make me happy.