Sunday, November 29, 2009

Just Because It's Vegan: Spiced Persimmon Flax Cake

Wow - I just realized it's been awhile since a "Just Because It's Vegan" post. Although most of my dishes are either vegan-friendly or can be with some simple modifications, I like to make sure I'm posting recipes that highlight just how tasty vegan eatin' can be.

So this recipe is one of many firsts for me. One, first time I've ever used persimmons in anything. I was at our local Asian market and saw the most gorgeous persimmons and immediately grabbed a few to bring home, having no idea what their fate would be. Secondly, I've never used this particular bundt pan, as I'm not really a baker. (those astute readers will probably realize that by checking out the recipe archives at the side) Baking intimidates me as the science is more exact and I don't feel the liberty to just add and throw things in as it suits, as I can do with cooking.

That being said, I just decided to use this recipe as a guideline, made my own modifications, and crossed my fingers, hoping that it would actually work. And did it ever! The cake is moist, tasty, and the perfect showcase for the fantastically sweet persimmons. Not only is the cake super easy to throw together, but you can easily substitute apples or pears if you can't find the persimmons. No matter how you slice it, I think this is a tasty cake that will be making a few appearances this season.

Spiced Persimmon Flax Cake

Spiced Persimmon Flax Cake

2 cups chopped persimmon
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup golden flax seed
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup soy yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with cooking oil and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, flax seed, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. In a smaller bowl, whisk together water, lemon juice, agave, vinegar, and vanilla. Add to dry mixture, along with yogurt, and stir well to combine. Fold in persimmon until well mixed. Pour into pan and place into oven.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven, allow to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, and then completely cool after removing pan.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Happy Thanksgiving to All!

It's Thanksgiving and I'm excited to be hosting my very first Thanksgiving day meal at my home. Although most of the menu is traditionally the same, there are a few new additions. The vegaquarians in the house will be eating scallops in a mushroom white wine sauce, and there's even a vegan turkey to sample.

This year, I'm so thankful for wonderful friends, amazing family, a job, my new home, and my lovely little dog Gracie. I hope that ya'll are enjoying the day and have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Here's last year's Pumpkin Pie with Marscapone to drool over.

Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Braised Artichokes with Horseradish Butter Sauce

Those of you longtime readers will know that cooking artichokes was something I learned last year, and thankfully so! Artichokes are absolutely delicious and surprisingly, not that difficult to make.

I was shopping with a friend of mine when I spied some lovely artichokes in the produce section. I immediately snatched two up and brought them home. My intentions was just to make the old stuffed variety of last year, but that seemed boring, so I thought I'd give braising a try.

Well, that just moved this recipe into my number one spot! Not only is this recipe relatively easy, but it's incredibly delicious. The artichokes are sauteed first in the garlic and butter, and then braised in a simple horseradish stock mixture. Touch it off with a bit of stoneground mustard at the end, and you've got yourself a recipe with some serious WOW factor! This may just be another "Ace in the Hole" recipe!

Braised Artichokes with Horseradish Butter Sauce II

P.S. I think this sauce would be stunning with mussels too!

Braised Artichokes with Horseradish Butter Sauce
Serves 2

2 large artichokes
A bit of lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 tablespoons butter
1 tbsp horseradish
1 cup cooking stock (vegetable, chicken, or whatever floats your boat)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp stoneground mustard

Cut off stems of artichokes. Using a very sharp knife (serrated is best), cut off the top 1/3 or so of each artichoke. Peel off the outer layer of leaves (the tough ones). Place on cutting board, bottom up, and cut in half. Using a spoon, dig out the hairy choke and all of the purple leaves. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Repeat with the other halves.
In a large pot, heat butter over medium low heat. Add garlic and saute for a few seconds. Add artichoke halves, face down, into the butter. Saute for 5 minutes or so, until lightly browned. Meanwhile, whisk horseradish into cooking stock and pour into pot, along with salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 18-20 minutes, until tender. Remove artichokes and place in serving dish and cover. Whisk mustard into remaining butter sauce, turn heat up to medium, and saute for another minute or two. Serve butter sauce along with artichoke halves as dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Braised Artichokes with Horseradish Butter Sauce

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Spicy Sweet Potato Coins

Okay, confession time. I'm not a huge sweet potato fry fan. I wish I was, but every time a friend orders them in a restaurant, I'm put off by the sweeter mealiness (is that a word??) of the inside. There is a local restaurant that serves them with some fun dipping sauces, like a chipotle aoili and a lime cilantro vinaigrette, that makes the bearable for me, but otherwise I'm out.

So I had a few sweet potatoes left over from last week, and the recurring sweet potato fry theme kept kicking around in my head. I finally decided to do something about it and this recipe was born.

Whoa. These are delicious. No, seriously. They're tasty! The brown sugar carmelizes to give them a nice crispy crust, but then the spiciness of the cumin, crushed red pepper, and chili powder comes soaring through. The best part about them - the recipe is a cinch to make so this is a side dish you'll want to make over and over again!

Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Coins

Spicy Sweet Potato Coins

2 sweet potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp salt or seasoning salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil

Preheat oven to 425 and cover a baking sheet in parchment paper. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4" slices and place into bowl. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and remaining spices. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes and toss well with hands to coat. Sprinkle spices over potatoes and toss well again with hands to coat. Drizzle with sesame oil and toss briefly to coat slices.
Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and place in preheated oven. Bake for 7-10 minutes, then flip. Bake an additional 5-7 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they don't burn. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Potatoes will crisp up more as they cool. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Crispy Baked Tofu with a Quick Curry Sauce

I know I've had this discussion before, but regular tofu just isn't my favorite thing. It's definitely a texture thing, and the crumbly texture of regular sauteed tofu isn't my first choice. However, baked or smoked tofu is a whole different story! The texture is denser and much more enjoyable. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend you do. Tofu is such a wonderful way to get protein without a lot of fat, as well as a nice dose of B-vitamins and iron.

Although you can purchase baked tofu in the store, it's so much more fun to make your own version, and here I've coated and baked it until crispy, giving it a wonderful texture. I've tossed it with a quick curry sauce, that is wonderfully rich from a touch of butter and fat-free half and half. All together, you've got a nutritiously sound meal that delivers in taste! And if you aren't a tofu eater, don't despair - you can toss this quick curry sauce with tempeh, beans, or even sauteed chicken.

Crispy Baked Tofu with a Quick Curry Sauce

Crispy Baked Tofu with a Quick Curry Sauce
Serves 4

1 pkg. water-packed tofu, drained and cut into 1" cubes
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar

1/2 c cornstarch
1 tbsp chili powder

3 tbsp butter
1 cup slivered onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sugar (depending on the acidity of your tomatoes)
1/4 c fat-free half and half

In a ziploc bag, combine tofu and the remaining marinade ingredients. Place in refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least an hour, although overnight is best. Preheat oven to 350. Combine cornstarch and chili powder in a shallow bowl. Toss tofu cubes, a few at a time, in cornstarch until well coated and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Lightly spray with cooking spray and place in heated oven. Bake for 45 minutes, flipping at least once, until crispy on the outside.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat butter oven medium high heat until melted. Add onions and saute 3-5 minutes, until almost tender. Add garlic, and saute an additional minute or so. Add curry powder, coriander, cumin, and cayenne pepper, and saute for another minute. Add tomato sauce and allow sauce to simmer for a few minutes. Add sugar if desired. Simmer for another few minutes, then remove from heat. Stir in half and half. Toss tofu in sauce and serve over rice.

This is part of "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday" - be sure to check the site for the rest of the tasty recipes!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Ever come home from work on a cold, dreary day and just want something warm, hearty, and filling to eat? Today was one of those days for me, and with it getting dark earlier and earlier, I just wanted something that just felt good in my stomach.

Soup usually fits the bill for me when I get those cravings. I had a few lovely sweet potatoes sitting on my counter for a few days that I wanted to use, but knew I couldn't just make a plain old sweet potato soup. And so this soup was born. There's just enough cumin and coriander to let you know this ain't a boring soup, and the green chilies add just enough heat to make it exciting. So go ahead and give this a try - I guarantee your stomach will thank you!

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chopped and peeled sweet potato
1 (4.5 oz) can of chopped green chilies
8 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1/2 c fat-free half and half
Pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and saute until just tender. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add sweet potato, chilies, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and continue to cook, uncovered for about 15 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, and salt, and continue to cook until potatoes are tender, about another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add half and half. Puree with a stick blender until creamy. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Indian Eggplant Fritters

A lone eggplant wandered its way into my kitchen, and knowing I have a busy week ahead of me, I decided to use it up as soon as possible and cook something tasty with it. I immediately grabbed my newest "go-to" cookbook, 1000 Vegan Recipes, that I reviewed last week. Although there were a few tasty eggplant recipes, I quickly settled on the eggplant fritters, especially since everything was already stocked in my kitchen.

What a quick and tasty recipe to make. And what I love about it is that I'm already thinking of a zillion variations. I made a few changes of my own, but kept pretty true to the original recipe. I think next time, I may try using zucchini instead of eggplant, and then try a potato variation. I'm also thinking these would be lovely to make ahead of time and store in the freezer, making them just perfect for a tasty appetizer for unexpected guests.

Indian Eggplant Fritters

Indian Eggplant Fritters

1 small eggplant, peeled and diced (this was about 3 cups for me)
1/2 c water
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1 tbsp minced fresh mint
1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp coriander
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

In a large saucepan, combine the eggplant, water, and lemon juice. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and cook until the eggplant is very soft, about 10 minutes. Drain the eggplant, pressing out excess liquid, and place in a small bowl. Add chili sauce and mint, and mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, coriander, cumin, baking powder, and salt. Add to the eggplant mixture and toss to combine.
In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant mixture, a tablespoon at a time, adding as many fritters as you can without crowding. Fry, turning as needed, until golden brown all over, 2-3 minutes per side.