The Hashtag MoFo ###

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Day 15> In which Jess plays catch-up thanks to an Instagram obsession after a few days of root canal recoup. Continue reading

Long Weekending: Home-Cooking, Test Kitchen, Bay Leaf & BOH

I had a wonderful long weekend. It marked the first time since November I’ve truly had a free weekend to cook and bake in a relaxed manner, in addition to a couple of swell meals out of the house. There was no special occasion, I wasn’t prepping for a dinner party or the week ahead, I was simply in my kitchen. No rush required.

Here’s the weekend, foodwise, including the casual, pasta from Isa’s latest PPK test kitchen, a return to Bay Leaf, cookies, and the first BOH dinner.

CTate's Queso. This was the original version of the Food For Lovers queso. It's delicious. Do a google search for "ctate's queso" and you'll come across the recipe.

If all I eat are quinoa and black bean bowls covered with queso for the next week, it’s fine by me.

The following pasta meal is a dish from Isa’s latest book in progress, with the working title, “Isa Does It”.  I skipped the toasted walnuts (dang you, potential allergy woes) and topped it with roasted sunflower seeds. I’ve been hooked lately.

Olive Angel Hair with Seared Brussel Sprouts

testing, testing

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance

note to self: look into a tablecloth you actually fancy

From lunch at Bay Leaf. I hadn’t been in quite some time, and my girlfriend had never. Their hot and sour soup and Sizzling Tofu is my go-to meal when I’m sick.

Springrolls

ah, delightful

Sometimes it’s nice to dine somewhere where the dishes stay the same, time after time.  It’s  even nicer to say that place is a vegetarian restaurant (somewhat) down the street.

Veggies Delight Noodle aka lo mein

-

The Dong Po Tofu lunch special and my obvious adjustment to a droid.

Most of the time, I crave variety in my dishes, and I choose to dine out because I desire the experience of new dishes, different cuisines, creative dining, interesting textures – everything I don’t, and probably can’t – try in my own little kitchen.

Dry Rosé, Winter’s Hill, Portobello’s kitchen

don't mind me, I'm a cellphone pic on a candlelit table...

Over the weekend, I was invited to attend the first BOH dinner at Portobello Vegan Trattoria, which never stopped impressing, course by course. It started with a miniature potato pancake smaller than my thumb, moved onto a kimchi and kumquat (among other things) adorned green onion pancake, on-wards to beet and pinenut-filled ravioli with blood orange sauce and moscatel syrup (and more), two more stunning courses (both on the plate and in my mouth), and this rarely ever happens with me, but my favorite of them all, if you forced me to pick, was the finale: a miniature slice of sweet potato bourbon pie, topped with housemade coconut ice cream and caramel sauce. Yeah. The full menu is on the facebook.

Of course, I was already a big fan of Portland’s vegan Italian spot and moan about gnocchi pretty much whenever it’s mentioned, but this experience was damn avant-garde. Bear with my phone photos, and head over to their facebook page for a full album of much higher quality.

don't mind me, I'm another cellphone pic on a candlelit table...

Up ahead, a thankfully short week ahead capped off with a visit from my sister from  NYC, bagels in tow.

Corn Chowder & The Epic Vegan MoFo Survey, with photos

First up, I would say that 75% of what I’ve eaten in the past two days has been this Corn Chowder from Vegan with a Vengeance. It’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s a pleasant color, offers the surprise bite of rosemary (and bonus roasted garlic from my fridge), and was made with local ingredients. Sorta funny story, while at the market last weekend, I learned that I must look like a tough sell for corn, or it’s simply become passé – because the farmer selling it told me, assuredly, “This is really good corn. You’ll like it.” That may have been a bit odd, and I almost wanted to consider it a threat because that’s more exciting of a story and I had no doubt about my purchase – but he was right. It was really good corn.

And now, The Epic Vegan MoFo Survey from The Post Punk Kitchen forums:

The original is here.

What’s your favorite spice or spice blend? Saigon Cinnamon. When I first visited Penzey’s a few years ago and learned that there were different varieties, my mind was blown.

You have $20 to spend on fresh groceries and produce for the whole week (with a fairly well stocked pantry of dry goods, legumes, grains, and spices). What do you buy? I hit the farmers market with $10, Foxfire or Limbo with $6 for loose leaf tea, bake some seitan, a block of bulk tofu from the coop or Ota, and make a huge pot of soup with beans.

What’s your favorite way to make tofu? As for cooking, tofu ricotta and straight up baked with BBQ sauce have been high on my list for years.

Vegan guilty pleasure? Tator tots with Vegenaise and Sriracha.

If you could make anyone vegan, who would it be? I would say Ronald McDonald, but I really don’t want to see the insane effect of that – so I’ll go with the Obama Family and hope they’re not criticized too much for this decision.

If you could only read one other vegan blog, what would it be? http://www.theppk.com/blog/ PPK cult, represent.

Were you always interested in cooking, or did veganism change the way you saw and interacted with food? I had a light interest growing up and remember entering kids’ bake offs at the local library with sloppy layer cakes. I never won, but I liked combing my mom’s baking books and making whipped cream and chocolate chip cookies . Years later, I worked at a bakery/café in high school where I didn’t do much more in the kitchen than fill cannolis and butter rolls, but I picked up names and flavor combinations. Fortunately, though it was a rocky road, I started living on my own at the same time I was going vegan, so I had to learn how to cook.

Excluding analogues, what new things have you tried that you probably wouldn’t have as an omni? A wide assortment of vegetables – especially since moving to Portland with the year round markets. I was very much a grilled cheese-and-little-else eating vegetarian for years.

What is the one vegan staple that everyone seems to love, but you can’t get behind? I appreciate it, scientifically, and have warmed to its impressive goo – but, Daiya. I’m not on the love train.

My biggest Daiya success: Mac & Cheese

What was your first “wow, I’m such a stereotypical vegan” moment? I don’t know what the very first was – maybe living on 123s & Chreese for a year during college?, but [insert creaking voice] back in my day, we’d smuggle Follow Your Heart in insulated bags from Lifethyme in NYC via  Fung Wah bus rides back to Boston.

First recipe you veganized? Lasagna or stuffed mushrooms.

What would you like to veganize, but haven’t yet? What wouldn’t I? I’ve yet to pull together a traditional, kickass white pizza. It’ll happen.

Favorite kitchen utensil/appliance? I really like my Vita-Mix and Magic Bullet blenders.

Most disastrous kitchen failure? Sometimes I really suck at crepes and pancakes. I’m about to place an order for a new pancake pan, so hopefully, that will help. I’m great one day, and then it’s awful, and I take a year off and forget these things exist.

First vegan cookbook? My best friend from high school gave me How it All Vegan as a gift when I first went vegan. I still have it.

What question about being vegan do you HATE answering? Anything that makes me roll my eyes. For example. I went vegetarian at a young age and grew up with family members teasing me about not eating turkey. It came as a shock when an omnivore asked me what I eat for Thanksgiving a few months ago. Like, what year is this? What bizarre world do you live in? Tofu turkey jokes are so last decade (in my life). However, I answered nicely, fully knowing that I live in the Portland bubble and hang out on the vegan internet. A lot.

If you could tell the world one thing about vegans, what would it be? That maybe we’re weird to you, but we’re really just making smart, ethical, healthy, compassionate decisions (and still weird)! To quote the Food Fight! button, “Being Vegan Means I’m trying to Suck Less”.

Funniest vegetable? When eggplants grow dongs.

What is a family recipe you have veganized? My mom’s Sweet Potato Pie Casserole (warning: old blog link) and my grandma’s Italian Struffoli. Unfortunately, the veganization of the second is MIA. I don’t recall what the egg replacer was, but I recall using light agave with orange zest in place of honey.

Vegan Struffoli for a Grandma's Recipe piece in Herbivore Magazine online, 2007

Weirdest food combination? I don’t think I pair anything too crazy, but I do have a soft spot for toasted tempeh bacon, peanut butter & tart apple sandwiches.

Is there something you wish you could veganize, but can’t/couldn’t? I have a strong Italian background, and I’ve never had vegan cheesecake or sweet ricotta-filled cannoli with quite the consistency I would have enjoyed in my earlier years. I’ve had excellent vegan versions of both, but nothing that’s quite what I want, and I feel like something the creators try too hard and shouldn’t go in that direction. Those, and the simple, meringe-coated wonder that is Baked Alaska. I do feel confident that I will try an amazing vegan version of that one day. There’s been a lot of progress in the field of vegan meringue.

Favorite ways to prepare tofu, seitan, tempeh, any other vegan proteins? I like breading seitan cutlets in even more savoury bread(crumbs) and baking. My go-to way for tempeh is either tempeh bacon, or marinated, baked, and served in a bowl with grains/sauce/greens or over pasta.

This was awesome: Jalapeno and Herb Roasted Tempeh

Are your pets vegan? if so, what do you feed them? My two cats are not vegan, but one does have an obsession with leafy greens and microbrews.

case in point: I lock up all my greens now

Favorite non-dairy milk? It was almond until an allergy arose recently – therefore, I’ll go with coconut. Besides packaged and fresh coconut milk, So Delicious Coconut Beverages & Creamers are so fantastic!!

What’s one “vegan myth” you’d like to squash? That vegan food is boring. Creative vegan dishes can be so impressive and artistic! And I don’t just mean plating style – I love that exploration that can happen in a kitchen – with new flavors, fresh ingredients, etc. It’s a big reason why I’m involved with with putting on Vegan Iron Chef events and wanting to show off Portland’s local chefs!

photo essay: potluck weekend

Why, I had quite a pepper, courgette, culinary productive & smiling vegan-filled weekend.  I’m allowing this stateside use of courgette, since I assembled a Gordon Ramsay recipe using said squashes on Saturday.  It’s a shame that I don’t have photos of my personal, colorful (finally!!) Saturday Farmers Market haul, or of the actual potlucks and smiling, socializing vegans, but I do have a few from the market and proof that my dishes happened.

Look! It’s tomatoes that likely have flavor!

The best deal on lovely, organic jalapeno at last Saturday’s market – 5 for $1 at Gathering Together Farm

If I hadn’t already been at the market with the mission of buying chili peppers, the sight and smell of these fire roasted chilies would have done me in.

A delight of freaky outy proportions: black jalapeños!

What I made with my hot peppers is coming, but first, let’s get to the dish I brought to my friends’ beautiful -and - all vegan – weddingcamp reception: Stuffed Courgette Rolls.

I veganized Gordon Ramsay’s (Inner Monologue: 1) holy moly, I watch a lot of his American shows and I adore him. 2) I have holds on 2 of his books at the library, which brings me to 3) how the hell have I never veganized/made one of his recipes before?) recipe from BBC Good Food. Instead of the dairy ricotta, I pureed a Vegan with a Vengeance-style ricotta of firm  tofu, fresh basil, red miso, minced garlic, roasted garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and soaked pine nuts. It’s topped with balsamic vinegar, marinated fresh, chopped tomatoes & basil, and toasted pine nuts.

I peeled! I rolled! I’m proud. And I only lost 1/4 a fingertip (and started over! and cleaned up! calm down)

With that, let’s get to the peppers.

Stuffed, open-faced jalapeno and cherry bomb peppers.

These open-faced peppers are stuffed with spicy, roasted vegetables and pinto beans. Baby potatoes, sweet corn, zucchini (of fucking course), bell peppers, jalapeno, shallots and other things I’m forgetting were chopped and roasted with a whole lot of minced garlic, olive oil, chipotle powder, chili powder, sage, oregano, black pepper, sea salt and hot paprika. I added sliced cherry tomatoes and pinto beans towards the end. I considered mixing everything together with the spicy tomato, tofu, garlic & smoked paprika cheese, but decided to go this route. All in all, one of the spiciest things I’ve ever made. I’ve never made anything like it before, and was trying to clean out the fridge of my produce before embarking on business trips the next 2 weeks, so it’s pretty mish mash. Next time I make something similar, I’d chop smaller and cut down on the spices a wee bit!

Baked:

Plated for Isa’s Vegan Chili Potluck, with lemon cucumbers.

Fun fact: Zucchini squashes are the swollen ovaries of female zucchini flowers. Thanks, Wikipedia entry on Zucchini! From, a girl who doesn’t have a garden.

The Teese Challenge: Broccoli Raab, Garlic & Teese Rolls

The long-awaited (in my head) goal of recreating the classic broccoli & mozzarella pinwheels of the local pizzerias of my childhood finally came to vegan, teese-covered fruition!

This is definitely the first test batch, but overall, I’m pleased with how they came out.  The one BIG difference I’d change for the next round is to double the pizza dough.  There was a little bit of both fillings left over, and with double the dough, I’d be able to make even large, spiral rolls – aka pinwheels! I used broccoli raab, because, you know, farmers markets, the joy of raab, etc.

Broccoli Raab, Garlic & Teese Rolls

teese challenge

Here’s what you need:

  • Double batch of pizza dough, fully risen.
  • Flour for the dough.
  • One bunch of broccoli raab or small head of broccoli, roughly chopped.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves of minced garlic
  • One batch of Tofu Ricotta (I used Nasoya firm with the recipe from Veganomican/Vegan with a Vengeance with the addition of a teaspoon of tahini).
  • One small tube of Mozzarella Teese, shredded.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Prepare the Tofu Ricotta and set aside.
  3. Sauté the garlic on low/medium heat in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add a dash of crushed red pepper, freshly ground black pepper, a generous pinch of sea salt, and the chopped broccoli raab (or broccoli).  Add a splash of water, and stir for 5-7 minutes, until well-cooked.
  5. Remove the sauté pan from heat, cover and set aside.
  6. Flour your hands and roll out the pizza dough to a large oval.  Use more flour if needed.
  7. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil, or use a mister.
  8. Place large spoonful of tofu around the dough.  Use a spatula to spread out.
  9. Carefully do the same with the broccoli raab mixture.
  10. Spread 3/4 of the shredded teese log onto the other fillings.  It’s okay if it clumps a bit.
  11. Roll up like cinnamon rolls, and precisely cut with a sharp knife.  Rinse your knife between cuts if you need to.
  12. Lightly grease a 8×13 pan (you may need more than one).
  13. Place rolls in the pan(s).  If there is a more open side, place that side up.
  14. Sprinkle the rolls with the leftover (1/4 tube) of shredded teese and a drizzle or spray of olive oil.
  15. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
  16. Serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping.
    Ready to roll

roll

Teese, Teese, Teese! The eventual double-dough rolls will be prettier!

teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese

These rolls are part of the official Teese Challenge.  Chicago Soy Dairy generously sent vegan food bloggers their soy cheese to cook with and document.

New York State of Mind: Knishes

These are almost offensively non-traditional, but I’m proud, all the same.

knishy

Since returning from vacation, I’ve been feasting on a few magnificent, toasted bagels, all the while, being briefly haunted by another traditional food from my New York heritage – knishes.  I have really fond memories of my very Italian family visiting Jewish delicatessens, and slurping bowls of chicken noodle soup after an obligatory knish.  Throw a pickle in for good measure.  Please.

I spent a lazy Saturday afternoon making these knishes.  They’re made with love, and filled with boiled, mashed potatoes,  mixed with olive oil, a ton of sauteed garlic and shallots, various greens, salt and freshly ground pepper.  The jellyroll style knishes (I was having fun with this) have added roasted garlic, nutritional yeast and a bit of miso in the filling.  All are brushed with a mixture of soy milk and olive oil.  I overbaked them a bit, cause that’s what I do.

Knishes

knish party

The dough recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance, of course.  The knish recipe from that book is one of the first couple things I ever made from it!  I simply didn’t have the patience to roast my potatoes this time, and was winging the filling.

<3 Po-ta-toes

knish.

And hey, bagel talk, coming soon. Straight from my bagel shaped heart.

BAGELS

chickpeas are cheap: an outpouring of thoughts about the garbanzo and dried beans.

Roasted Chickpeas with Nutritional Yeast, Oregano and Sea Salt

As usual, my history with using dried beans is linked to the Post Punk Kitchen.  I remember a blog post years ago, challenging people to soak their own beans and base meals around the outcome.  When I finally had the balls to soak my own, I was thrilled x 40 at the results, and most importantly, how far it stretched my initial, mere investment. It’s so resourceful, healthy and cost-effective!

There are definitely occasions I’m short on time or stockpiling a bit for an apocalypse, and I’ve yet to make the move for a pressure cooker, but a simple colander, large pot and time are all I need to bring beans to life in my kitchen. FYI, they’ve never spoke to me.

Quick & obvious notes on using dried beans:

  1. Buy dried beans in bulk. In Portland, you can go to co-ops, farmers markets, New Seasons, Fred Meyer, and I think even Safeway has a bulk area.  You can buy dried beans in bags  at most stores, of course, but it’s more fun and economical to buy them by the pound.
  2. Pick out any really noticeable crud. I just give my beans a quick look over, and toss a couple times.
  3. Soak them during the day, 4-8 hours, while you’re out working or counting leaves (clearly the only two things I think people do during the day).
  4. Rinse in a colander (one the beans won’t fall through).
  5. Cook according to bean specifications. There’s a guide halfway down this page, and one in Veganomicon, which I’m sure you own. I normally don’ t need more than 1.5 hours for chickpeas.  I usually just cook in water, but you can always play with broth with herbs and alliums.

I spent this past Friday night wildly cooking chickpeas and prepping for the next day’s event.  FYI, I store my cooked beans in pitchers, and change the water every couple days.

Over the course of the weekend, the chickpeas went into Yellow Curry & Sweet Potato hummus, 40 Cloves Chickpea & Broccoli, and Chickpea Cutlets.  I try and save money, bringing lunch to work, as boring as it can be.  I’m sure I’ll do much more  with these little pieces of protein over the next week or so, and extra will go bagged into my freezer!

Ten Chickpea-y Ideas:

  1. Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon. I always bake these, and I’ve been known to mold them into ball-form as well to serve with marinara. There are gluten-free versions floating around the internet.  I’ve had ones my friend Michelle has made, they’re really good!
  2. Roasted Chickpeas. This was the first way I ever cooked chickpeas, back in college, when I spent a lot of time playing around on Vegweb.com.  Dreena Burton’s Tamari Roasted Chickpeas is an easy way to start if you’ve never made them before.
  3. Chickpea Quinoa Pilaf - again, from Veganomicon! Really versatile. Quinoa + Chickpeas = nutrition!
  4. One word: Falafel
  5. Pasta: There are recipes for this on every cooking website that exists. Lightly saute in extra virgin olive oil with minced garlic, crushed red pepper, and spinach, and serve over pasta with sea salt, fresh pepper and nutritional yeast to your liking.
  6. Add to Bowls: ala Joanna’s Almighty Bowl style post or Blossoming Lotus
  7. Another one word: Hummus. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are entire cults based around this dip. I’m going to post the recipe for the Yellow Curry inspired hummus this week.
  8. Gravy: I’ve actually never made the famous Punkrock Chickpea in Vegan with a Vengeance, but I have made a Silky Chickpea Gravy in testing for Isa’s new low-fat book.
  9. Chana Masala: The Indian Classic. I love when this is in the lunch special at Bombay Chaat House!
  10. Add to Soups: add to any soup that calls for beans, or you’d think would work in. Who makes vegetable soup without beans?  huh? Years ago, I tried and liked this recipe for Chickpea Garlic Soup from The Angelica Home Kitchen.

Runner Up: Chickpea salads. These aren’t really my thing, but I have caught myself with no time and lack of ingredients, snacking on chickpeas + nooch + sea salt…

Fun fact: There are white, green and black chickpeas.

Wow, that was so About.com of me.

Chickpea-usage, the photos!

40 Cloves Chickpea & Garlic - a tester for Isa’s new book (second time I’ve made it!)

Chickpea Cutlets - I made these in my food processor, but they’re super easy to make without it.

Chickpea Cutlets

Chickpea Cutlet Balls

Tamari Roasted Chickpeas from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan

Chickpeas in a really colorful Tofu Scramble

Baked Tofu and Chickpea Quinoa Pilaf

Chickpea Pitcher

chickpea pitcher

I wish my photo did this more justice, clearly I was in a rush to dine.

Chickpeas added to Pasta e Faglio, from The Urban Vegan

Comforty, Lower-Fat New Farm Mac & Cheeze, Gluten Free, and thickened with Chickpea Flour

Chickpeas Romesco from Veganomicon

Baked Falafel from Vegan with a Vengeance

And a plate of fresh vegetables, with store bought pita and stellar hummus from Barbur World Foods. For the record, their fresh baked pita is one of the best things in the world. Lunch@work.

P.S.

Thanks to anyone reading this who came to the presentation at the library this past weekend!  There was a huge turn out, which delighted both the library staff and myself! I had a blast talking about a topic I adore – Local & Vegan Eating in Portland, OR.  Totally makes me want to visit the People’s Farmers Market this week! I just love the Portland vegan community.