Backlog: Home-cooking

I may have spent the entire month of October barely doing more than copy/pasting and clicking upload over here, and shaking a few cocktails over this way, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t cooking. Discussing my culinary tales was simply pushed to the side by a bunch of furry animals. We’ve all been there.

My apologies if you’ve seen these on the facebook already, but now they’re all in one place! I promise, I won’t ask you to click back and forth on the same link for minutes of your day. This isn’t that type of place, nor do I really know what that means.

In no particular order, here’s the month in creations, including a bunch of brunch, Vegan Diner fun and a prominent obsession with chanterelles. I realized I had a problem when I was buying them from farmers markets not once, but twice a week, and now there’s a suspicious van parked outside my apartment. Just waiting.

Chanterelle omelet with steamed kale, Cajun roasted fingerlings, fresh thyme, roasted garlic boursin-style spread and seitan sausage.  Recipes sourced from Vegan Brunch, Vegan Diner and World Vegan Feast.

Smoked tofu & cherry tomato benedict with hollandaise, balsamic creminis, steamed kale & baguette. My applewood chips are up next, and on my gosh.

Olive oil & sliced garlic base with baby spinach, roasted red peppers, sliced heirloom tomato, shredded Cheezly & chanterelles sautéed in red wine. Cheezly, I miss you so.

Spicy Ethiopian-style Chickpea Stew, white rice, roasted peanuts. Based on this Whole Foods Kitchen recipe.

With quite a few of these…

Spaghetti with fire roasted marinara, nutritional yeast, grilled pilsner tofu, roasted eggplant, zucchini, garlic & basil. 

This marks the last photo this plate will ever star in. Ker-plunk.


One week, I had a loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread in my house, so I re-learned the art and convenience of sandwiching making.

Additional Pilsner grilled tofu, sliced tomato, green leaf lettuce, Vegenaise, hot sauce and a side of roasted fingerlings with coarse salt.

Baked “fried” green tomatoes and roasted red pepper aioli from the Sunny Days for Texas cookzine.

Pumpkin chocolate chip pancake, seitan & greens, apple ginger juice.

Sun-dried Tomato Chickpea Spread, ExtraVeganZa. My BFF sent me this book for my birthday and I am just as ecstatic about the number of fancy mushroom recipes as I’m sure she was.

Muhammara. Recipe from Epicurious.  I may have bought an incredible number of end-of-season red bell peppers and carried the bag home over my shoulder.

An almost classy, bastardization, dedicated to my girl, Vegan Moxie: Salted Caramel Mocha. I used this DIY method for french press-style espresso (I know), my wee IKEA frother, and this recipe for vegan caramel using Sucanat, with the generous addition of sea salt. 

Next up, the backlog of out-and-about dining, including some of Portland’s latest vegan brunch delights, and a countdown to my upcoming month abroad in Thailand – and beyond.

S’mores Pie with Roasted Dandies

Oh, hey, pie, what's up?

In a shocking turn of events, this pie is not from the upcoming Vegan Pie in the Sky cookbook. I repeat, this is not an official, Post Punk Kitchen endorsed pie. This creation was inspired by the recent Portland VegFest, Chicago Soy Dairy’s sweet deal on those sweet little ‘mallows, Julie Hasson’s cream pie demo and perhaps the most mind-blowing aspect of all – was poured into a goddamn, pre-made crust. Testing for Vegan Pie in the Sky helped me conquer my fear of homemade crusts, for sure, but you know, sometimes you just find yourself picking up a graham cracker shell or two when you see them on sale in the ‘natural’ aisle at Grocery Outlet.

Inside the graham cracker shell, the only actual grahamy-element here (because every vegan who’s ever searched knows the pain of finding the mysteriously spotted-every-couple-of-years store-bought, honey-free graham cracker), was a rich chocolate tofu mousse, Vita-Mixed with Mori Nu firm silken tofu, melted semi sweet chocolate chips, a bit of coconut milk, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, based on the Mint Truffle Pie in Julie’s Vegan Diner.  To complete the s’moresey scenario, I added broken cinnamon cookies and chopped dandies, along with a layer of dandies on top. It’s recently popped into my head that my kitchen absolutely needs a mini blowtorch, but since I’ve yet to make this ridiculously awesome purchase happen, I broiled the topped pie for 5 minutes. I was quickly happy with the lightly golden color, but freaked out as it rested, as the mallows seemed to harden! No worries, upon arrival to my little happy hour club, my friends and I learned that smush remained, and the pie was a hit, particularly when paired with a microbrew. Classy.

S'mores pie, topped with roasted dandies and crushed cinnamon cookies

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.

Recreation: The Farm’s Herb-Crusted Tofu Marsala

Breaded and herbed tofu cutlets with steamed pea shoots, mashed potatoes and chanterelle mushroom marsala sauce.

Ah, The Farm Cafe’s Herb-Crusted Tofu Marsala. It’s been a while, but I swear, I’ve been on more than one awkward date where this dish owns my attention over the person sitting across the table. It’s Italian fine dining meets Northwest greatness meets home cooking meets a plate high in the running for my last meal request.

The dish is constructed as a multi-layered tower of wonder that’s been impressing vegfolks and omnis alike for years.  On The Farm’s menu (which I understand has been sporadically featuring vegan specials the past couple of years), it’s described as, “Breaded and herbed tofu cutlets with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and crimini mushroom Marsala“. Yes, indeed.

Witness: Mashed Potatoes

This recreation features local chanterelle mushrooms, the addition of smoked salt in the breading, the absence of roasted garlic in the potatoes, yet the incorporation of minced garlic scapes in the sauce, and a generous side of some green with steamed snow peas & shoots. All of the produce used was acquired locally from farmers markets, and the herbs were from a gift from a friend’s garden (Thanks, Liz!).

You can find the original recipe here on Everyday Dish with the lovely Julie  Hasson.

Why I don’t make this more often is beyond me, but I’ll say this much, it’s time to restock on Marsala. Who’s coming over for dinner next week?

Spicy Thai Basil Noodles with Soft Tofu, Peanuts & Garlic Scapes

local garlic scapes have arrived.

It’s time for my warm weather motto: I may hate the heat, but I heart farmers markets. I also heart venturing into other neighborhoods and secretly pretending that I live in them. The day will come that I move out of my dear Division St. apartment. That day could bring me further-out southeast into a neighborhood I have strong feelings for – Lents. I’m a frequent visitor to the farmers market, particularly come late July, because the hot pepper prices are unreal. I took my first trip of the season to the market opener on Sunday, and while I was ‘out there’, I stopped by J.C. Rice Noodle for a couple pounds of their fresh namesake, fresh tofu, and continued onto Fubonn for randomness. Once home, I quickly threw together something of a Pad Kee Mow with saucey, soft tofu and roasted peanuts taking the place of the scrambled eggs.

There is nothing quite like the combination of fresh rice noodles you pull apart with your hands, salty soy sauce, hot chiles and fresh yet sweet Thai basil. What a freaking thrill to semi-confidently create things like this (without the worries of fishy sauces) at home. WHAT A FREAKING THRILL.

holy.basil.

Spicy Thai Basil Noodles with Soft Tofu and Peanuts

Serves 3-4

Note: This sauce is based on my own taste buds of the moment. If you like things sweeter/saltier/spicier, do it. I’ll be listing the bolded ingredients in rounds, as I started mixing and cooking like so…

Round 1 of Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package soft, water packed tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons vegetarian stir fry/mushroom sauce, like this 
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetarian fish sauce, like this
  • 1 small handful roasted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic paste, like so
  • dash of black sesame oil
  • pinch turmeric
  • pinch black salt
  • fresh lime juice, to taste

Mash together the tofu and above ingredients with a fork in a medium or large bowl. Leave some chunks of tofu. Set aside.

Round 2 

  • 1.5 cups chopped vegetables: I went with swiss chard, daikon, carrots, asparagus and zucchini
  • 1-2 cups of vegan protein of choice: tempeh cubes, tofu strips, seitan, or tofu sheet knots
  • Cooking oil of choice

Tofu Sheet Knots: because sometimes you need to buy things out of the freezer at Fubonn with your eyes closed

If using a frozen protein, make sure to defrost. Pan fry your protein in 1/2 tablespoon oil on medium heat for 5 minutes, turning over to reach a golden brown. Remove from oil and set aside.

Heat the same pan and add more oil if needed (I didn’t). Add your vegetables and stir fry for an additional 5 minutes over medium heat. Add a tiny splash of vegetable broth or white wine if vegetables begin to stick. You want to keep your vegetables vibrant – do not over cook. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan you keep on using, sauté the following:

  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 garlic scapes, chopped (whatever, use the top!)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1-3 minced Thai chiles – stick to 1 if you’re unsure and grab the Sriracha later!
  • 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil

Tightly sealed Thai chiles, clearly not from the farmers market

Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the tofu mixture and bring to a boil.

It'll look like this mess.

Once boiling, lower heat and cook until some sauce is absorbed, about 2-4 minutes. Quickly add cooked noodles (Note: if using fresh noodles, rinse or immerse in cool water first) for 2-4 servings, vegetables, vegan protein, and a handful of fresh Thai holy basil.
Serve quickly, garnished with fresh bean sprouts, more Thai basil, roasted peanuts & lime wedges.

If you're awesome, you'll garnish it with a curled scape.

behold, the casual Lents International Farmers Market

Anatomy of a Grocery Trip, from Fubonn: Thai holy basil,ginger,bean sprouts,limes,Thai chilis,Tacoma soft tofu,coconut milk,young coconut juice,lychee juice,mango nectar,Ota soy nectar,fried seitan,frozen tofu knots,tamari,vermicelli noodles,coconut cookies,roasted seaweed snacks,roasted green tea,vegetarian mushroom stir fry sauce

Omelette emulation

Vegan Brunch tofu omelette filled with seared asparagus, red bell peppers and crumbled, smoked potato cheese. Served with curry roasted potatoes and field greens with lemon.

I started to write a couple of corny ‘Fakin’ It’ style post titles above and had to stop myself.

If I was attempting to melt less-than-favorable vegan cheese slices on said tofu omelette, that would be sadly, faking it.

If I was upping the turmeric factor to the level of neon overload, that would be faking it – and pretty damn trippy.

However, I’m not, and don’t think the recipe is going for that, either. It’s a matter of creative emulation. The vegan omelette above is not desperate vegan rip off or a faux omelette or fake omelette or whatnot.

It’s a new original. [Recipe from Vegan Brunch]

One of the reasons I’m involved with Portland’s Vegan Iron Chef organization is because I truly believe – and have seen – flavorful, artisan, vegan cuisine.

This deep thoughts brunch-for-dinner contained no artificial ingredients, and with the exception of locally produced silken tofu and a bulk-purchased curry powder blend, was made from scratch. I certainly think it’s legitimate to call this vegan tofu omelette an omelette, and with the assistance of black salt and a nice pinch of that turmeric, it not only looks and somewhat tastes crazy reminiscent of the real thing, it was cooked on my large omelette/crepe pan.

Signed,

a lady who had BBQ tofuffalo for dinner this week,

jess

Test run #1: smoked potato cheese

Truth: Every time I attempt vegan omelettes, I have a varying success rate of 25% – 50%. Go, go patience.

My Queso Bowl is Better Than Your Queso Bowl.

Probably.

Queso bowl with long grain brown rice, cherry bomb spiced black beans, steamed greens, avocado, crumbled tortilla chips, cornmeal-chili baked tofu cubes & vegan queso. If I permitted that c-herb in my life, it'd be on top.

Even fast food chains have bowls these days, so don’t you dare expect another break down on how to bowl it up.  I do happen to live in a bowl mecca (toot, toot on Portland’s horn), frequent both Cafe Yumm and The Whole Bowl for lunch – wishing Native Bowl was within reach – and crazily, it’s been two whole weeks since I’ve had bowl construction in my life. Blame fracturing my foot or something, and thank my friends for providing sustenance.

Now, I dig bowl meals because they offer variety, they’re saucy, they become a saucy mess, and as work lunches, can offer this assembly all over again, whether packed with sauce on the side or constructed level by level. The bowl below is my journey back to this land of bowl making, and includes several components – with one very special guest.

Cornmeal & Chili Baked Tofu

Special Guest Star: Food for Lovers Vegan Queso!

I definitely recommend Food for Lovers Vegan Queso and want to see this in more restaurants & stores – it’s so creamy and well-spiced! I’ve made the recipe in the past, and I was pleasantly surprised at how the jarred version was even better! Two words are in my future: Hello, nachos!

Note: Queso was purchased with my own money from Food Fight! Grocery. Word.

Uwaijimaya, Veggie Buns & PPK Udon

Boring story short, I was out on the suburban west side yesterday for an appointment, and the redeeming factor follows:

Northwest baked Veggie Buns!

The brand is based in Seattle, WA and these buns are refrigerated, alleviating the mysterious and often gross frozen food factor.

I have been on the search for more-than-decent (and non-frozen) steamed buns for years in this city! Thank you, Uwajimaya – please come downtown, soon.

These seem near identical, if not a little smaller, than the faux pork buns served at Van Hanh, and formerly, Nhut Quang, RIP. Annual visits to Vegetarian Dim Sum in New York are always wonderful, but it’s nice to know I can have a little store-bought steamed bun action at home, too.  The filling is nothing remarkable, or very discernible, but they’re indeed, more-than-decent (and convenient!) with an accompaniment.

Paired with the super quick & flavorful PPK Broccoli Curry Udon, and served with a soy/chili garlic dipping sauce. This curry includes broccolini, kale, spinach, jalapeño and sliced, baked tofu.


The mini haul: Coconut Nectar juice (which I  picked up because it didn’t have added sugar – sadly, it’s still gross), udon noodles, Sencha green tea – which I’m on my 4th or 5th cup of the day of, the Veggie Buns, non-GMO Mellow White Miso, and the indulgent purchase of Taiwanese Peanut Mochi.

Please don’t suck.

Needless to say, I have acquired a new camera, and I am fairly content so far (despite these photos being taken in a half dark kitchen).

feeling fancy and feeling girly

In regards to Blog Post Title Part I

Well, I still don’t have many photos to show, but my weekend included a lot of feeling fancy – at least some contributions to it. I hid and cooked in the kitchen during the first Heartichoke, my friend’s new vegan supper club, and we pulled off five French-inspired courses & seemed to have content guests on our hands. It was a great experience; the smoke alarms didn’t go off and there’s talk of a Tapas and Basque inspired dinner this Spring.

The photos I do have, thanks to my camera’s 5 second life span, were not from the dinner, but are pretty fancy and productive for the end of a weekend:

Tuscan Braised Beans, The Urban Vegan. With the addition of gigantes beans and fresh basil. Dynise’s dishes always class it up.

First theme, continued:

Herb Crusted Tofu with Mushrooms Marsala ala The Farm Cafe in Portland, via Everyday Dish TV.  As for changes, I baked the tofu, used a mixture of maiittake and shiitake mushrooms in the sauce, and served it over braised beans and steamed baby spinach.

In regards to Blog Post Title Part II

Hey! If you’re in the Portland area tomorrow night and you’re a vegan or veg-curious female or you’ve ever met one or even if you plan on spending the rest of your life surrounded by the XY chromosome and no other, you should come show your support for Melisser Elliott, the talented author of the The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life, at everyone’s local vegan owned and operated clothing store, Herbivore. The signing party starts at 5pm.

Later this week: Thoughts on the revolutionary documentary, Forks Over Knives. Have you seen it yet?

a very cast iron christmas (breakfast)

Tofu Omelette, Smoky Creminis and Garlic Roasted Potatoes from Vegan Brunch. The omelette itself was stuffed with the mushrooms, baby spinach and Wayfare Hickory-Smoked Cheddar-Style Spread.

Breaking in the new cast iron skillet on a holiday morning. I am so happy to have an omelette, pancake & crepe friendly pans again!