Lemony Ricotta & Summer Squash Pizza; Pea Coconut Puree

Squash, squash y'all

When one is faced with this lengthy summer bounty, they start with the classics. They grate. They bake. They stuff. They roast. When it is warm, they carefully peel raw noodles. When there’s a breeze, they contemplate how this could extend their summer chili. They shred some more. From there, they google. With that, they stumble in love with Smitten Kitchen’s kemony zucchini goat cheese pizza.

From the moment I saw the result pop up with its enchanting image of thinly layered summer squash, I felt that much better about this weird summer. Inspired by Smitten’s design, my version changes the layout a bit, colorwise, adding a ring of black cherry cherry tomatoes, with plenty of fresh lemon juice whisked into the herbed tofu ricotta, on top of Hot Lips pizza dough ($2). It was all topped off with extra virgin olive oil and a bunch of freshly ground black pepper. As it should be.

Lemony herbed ricotta spread

Finale: Lemony Summer Squash Pizza with Tofu Ricotta, Fresh Basil & Cherry Tomatoes

This same weekend, I found myself shelling fresh peas. It was instantly therapeutic and I started thinking fresh pasta! risotto! creamy soups! puree! getting fishy!?! Blame on all the Gordon Ramsey I’ve been watching (I don’t have cable, so I make do with whatever cooking shows I can), but I took inspiration for this dish from all his bleeping scallops. My sister was quickly horrified when I told her I was making pea puree for dinner, but turned it around and approved once I assured her that was “fancy”. Er, thanks, sis! You enjoy that fettucine alfredo, I’ll break out the peas, coconut milk and fresh basil, thank you very much.

Grilled Tofu, marinated in a Citra Summer Blonde Ale & Yellow Curry sauce, fresh Pea & Coconut puree with Basil, Sesame Green Beans & Wild rice

Grilled tofu & peas: because when in doubt, play with textures and marinate in beer.

Tis the Tofurkey Day MoFo: Kabocha Squash Pot Pie, Thai Iced Tea Pumpkin Pie & Dinner with Friends

I may not really celebrate the holidays, but I do celebrate proudly made from scratch dishes, friends, wine, and the warm wonder that is a multi-course, cruelty-free thanksgiving dinner with said friends in a city we’ve made our home. Aww.

Commence warm and fuzzies and vegan food with part of the spread:

My contributions to the dinner were pies of both sweet and savoury varieties. This marked the production of my first-ever pot pie, so it’s time for a photo pictorial to capture my stirring hand’s excitement.

Sautéing the diced green beans, carrots, mushrooms, potato, baked tofu, and spices.

The savoury was a Smokey Kabocha Squash & Baked Tofu Pot Pie inspired by Karen from the Vegan Conversion Challenge’s recent Kabocha Pot Pie. She’s doing a month of chili-dominated dishes for VeganMoFo, and as soon as I saw her adorable baked-in-the-squash, smokey pot pies, I wanted to try them. Fatefully tying this plan together, I had roasted freaking kabocha squash the night before, so the question became – do I buy more squash (on the day before thanksgiving) or do I reach for a little more adventure? I chose the latter, following Karen’s recipe as closely as possible. There was no time for finding Soy Curls or big tvp chunks,  so I decided to bake tofu cubes in a marinade of tamari, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, garlic, and herbs. As for squash, it seems to get saucey in Karen’s, so I figured simply adding chunks of roasted squash into the mix with the broth would work for my take. A squashy gravy, if you will. I went light on the chili peppers, and ended up adding quite a bit more of smoked paprika and hot cayenne before baking.

Things take a turn for the saucey and squashy:

Dished into a pie plate and ready for some puff pastry action.

The finished dish, with its learning-as-we-go puff pastry weave, from my camera phone:

Enough of my silly tales of pot pie production – Chelsea’s famous Gluten Roast, stuffing & itty bitty, adorable potatoes follows:

Knowing this would be there just may have pushed me out of the house.

Damn good pumpkin pie and damn fine pecan pie:

My friend veganized John Edwards’ secret family recipe for us and I’m still thinking about it:

Sweet, sweet pumpkin cheesecake!!

My second contribution – half of a vision come to life – Thai Iced Tea Pumpkin Pie.

Take Bryanna’s classic Vegan Pumpkin Pie, sub coconut milk for the soy, and add a ton of powdered cardamom and star anise along with the usual suspects. If there was Thai tea in my cabinets, it would have been involved.  And one excuse short of my vision, I had just missed the stores closing on my way to dinner, or there would have been coconut flakes (or, in retrospect, dollops of coconut whipped cream) with the straws.

Note: I did not make people drink out of them.

A Brunch in the Life: Tempeh Benedict with Butternut Hollandaise

It’s not very often that I find myself making brunch anymore. It’s a little sad, but I’m usually heading here or there and grabbing coffee on the way, or meeting friends for brunch at Tube or Hungry Tiger Too, knowing my routine. This weekend, however, was practically a countdown to when I could break out the butternut hollandaise again.  I had made it earlier in the week to pair with pecan breaded tofu, and yesterday became the official day to re-acquaint myself with a vegan Benedict. It was everything I was aiming for, which incorporated Diner Tempeh Patties from American Vegan Kitchen into the rest of the elements of a Tofu Benedict ala Vegan Brunch.

As for the Butternut Hollandaise, 1/2 cup of roasted butternut squash and 1/2 head of roasted garlic were added into the saucepan before it was pureed and warmed once more. The complete Benedict plate has a toasted multi-grain English muffin, diner-style homefries, sliced tomato sprinkled with Alder smoked salt, a baked tempeh patty, hollandaise, and a side of straight up roasted broccoli.

Late in the season tomatoes and peppers from the Saturday farmers market:

I’ll miss them so. Onto a winter of roasted red peppers, which brings us back to the Saturday farmers market in Portland on a very nice day come fall & winter…

creamy content: acorn squash sauce over pasta

Whole Wheat Rotelle with Squash Sauce, Sorrel, Tempeh, Red Pepper & Roasted Pecans


Broken record: I’ve been warming my way across various posts-in-progress for this site and Stumptown Vegans – where there’s always something – multiple posts, second and third visits, site development ideas, etc. –  going on behind the scenes. Working on that, the grand invites and open registration (why, could it be next weekend?!?) for Vida Vegan Con almost makes it less depressing that my sunny culinary photograph is now limited to the weekends and sporadic lunch hours. Will my dinners become boring? Not necessarily, I typically vow to never eat leftovers at home, but last night I did make a mini pizza on lavish bread, which was pretty lame. It wasn’t an abomination of ingredients (a mix of homemade sauce, farmar goods, and teese); I just don’t feel right calling it a pizza. I can just imagine my Italian great aunts giving me the stink eye over the crust (and the whole soy cheese thing, but whatever).

As for the titular pasta dish, there’s a layer of chopped lemony sorrel, Trader Joe’s whole wheat rotelle, squash sauce, sautéed tempeh bacon and sweet red pepper, and roasted pecans. The sauce is a go-go Magic Bullet puree with a base of sautéed garlic and a teeny bit of olive oil, black pepper, sea salt, roasted acorn squash, plain soy milk, nutritional yeast, ground pecans, thyme, sage, oregano, red miso, a little tamari, mustard, and probably something else or another. Those fun things that go into cheesy sauces.

Whole Wheat Rotelle with Sorrel, Squash Sauce, Tempeh,                                        Sweet Red Pepper & Roasted Pecans

In continuing adventures of confirmed deliciousness and fall acceptance, Savor Soup House is still delicious. I had a cup of Tomato Fennel Orange soup earlier for lunch, and a big kudos for a soup-maker that knows how to meld flavors other chefs might use for sheer attention.

Savor. Soup.

 

SW Alder and 10th, Downtown PDX


I took my lunch to Director Park for reading & eating, and there was a ‘flashmob” taking place. I would have assumed it was a colorful, regular theater troupe, but I heard a few excited mentions of “flashmob”  around me and grabs for smartphones. Sadly, no sign of dancing zombies.

Activity! Director Park!


And one more time – Vegan Bloggers, wherever you are – if you’re interested in attending the Vida Vegan conference late next summer, I’d selfishly advise subscribing to the site for the registration opening. Once it’s booked up, it’s booked up. I don’t think I’m the only one who’s going to squeal when our amazing speakers, or you know, special vegan guests from the dreamlist, like Moby, confirm…

dude, everyone has a curried butternut soup recipe.

who doesn't have a curried squash soup recipe?

Fact or Fiction: Last spring, I sent in my registration materials for the NWFBP (NorthWest Food Bloggers Picnic) and was rejected!  Their response letter gave one sole reason: I had never featured a photo of butternut squash soup.

Eventually, I decided to right this wrong, and mildly adapted a recipe from The Food Network via some Nova Scotian firefighters, so you know there was potential. There’s only so many ways you can go with butternut soup, but with the assistance of my precious Vita-Mix, that half a jar of peanut butter sitting around, and locally based, Thai and True curry paste, it was totally to my liking.

Yellow Curry, Peanut Buttery, Butternut Squashy Soup

(adapted from The Food Network CA)

serves 4-ish

Ingredients:

  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • ½ yellow or sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1.5-2 cups of slightly mashed, roasted butternut squash (from 1 small squash, or half a large one, or canned)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (use more if you like more heat!)
  • 1 teaspoon of yellow curry paste (I use Thai and True)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • Dash of freshly ground black pepper, more to taste.
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • ½ cup peanut butter, chunky or creamy
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:

  1. In a large sauce pan or stockpot, sauté the chopped onion and celery in the peanut oil for 5-7 minutes on medium heart, until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic, sauté an additional 2 minutes, stirring often.  Lower the heat if needed.
  3. Add the curry paste, salt and pepper; stir well.
  4. Stir in the peanut butter, broth, roasted squash and light coconut milk.
  5. Turn the heat up, bring to a boil, turn the heat low and simmer covered for 30 minutes.
  6. Use an immersion blender to puree to your liking, or slowly, carefully transport to a blender and puree till smooth.
  7. Return to pot, stir in agave and lemon juice.
  8. Serve with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Enjoy.