Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Giveaway and a Fun New Site!

I was recently contacted by an associate from the foodie site, Yummr, about a promotion they are having this month. During their "Hot July Foodie Reads Giveaway," they are giving away copies of some wonderful books, which are being given away courtesy of Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt Books.


The one I have reserved for my readers is "Serve the People," which is a fantastic book to read. I have already devoured quite a bit of the copy they sent for my reading pleasure and it's a great book. It's essentially a story that follows a journalist as she eats and cooks her way through authentic Chinese cuisine. And even though it's a great story, it's loaded with recipes, liberally sprinkled all throughout the book.

All you have to do is simply leave me a comment by midnight on July 31st. One will be picked at random on August 1st.

But even if you don't want a copy of this book, or if you aren't the lucky winner, you'll want to be sure to stop by Yummr. It's a great website loaded with all sorts of things any foodie would love. There's all kinds of giveaways, recipes, and surveys to take, all in the midst of a great community of other food lovers. You can even upload videos and pictures of your own creations!

So go ahead, give Yummr a try.

Don't forget to leave your comment for a chance to add this great read to your library!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cilantro Zucchini Hummus

I love to talk food. I will talk about it anytime with anyone. And it's usually a great inspiration for recipe creation. This recipe came from a conversation I had with Theresa, an old friend of mine yesterday afternoon. We were discussing the vegetarian, vegan, and raw diets. Both of us have a desire to try a raw diet so we were talking about ways to incorporate more raw food into our daily diets. We then started taking about some healthy treats to make and of course the conversation turned to hummus.

It was only natural that my mind immediately went to trying to make a raw hummus. I was on my way to the grocery store, mentally kicking around a few ideas. It wasn't until I passed a table on someone's driveway with a huge table of zucchini that said "Free - Please take it all!" that made me think of using this often over-abundant vegetable.

This recipe is fantastic. I absolutely love it. It's fresh-tasting and is simply fantastic. Serve with fresh vegetables or pita chips. You could also use it as a sauce or a dressing by decreasing the amount of zucchini to 4 cups, as shown here. Or add some fresh jalapeno for a nice little kick! And the best part is that it only takes a few moments to chop everything up and throw it in the blender or food processor. So go ahead - give it a try.

Cilantro Zucchini Hummus

Cilantro Zucchini Hummus

6 cups zucchini, peeled and chopped
1/4 c tahini
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1/4 c fresh lime juice
1/4 c olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped

Add all ingredients, except cilantro, into a blender or food processor. Process until creamy and smooth. Stir in cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Just Because It's Vegan - Spicy Italian Sauzage

It's been quite some time since we've had a "Just Because It's Vegan" recipe. The premise of the JBIV recipes is that vegan food is quite delicious, despite the stereotype that all vegans and vegetarians eat is cardboard and salad.

So this is a recipe that's been floating around the Internet for quite some time, sort of like Susan V's Ribz. I've had a few recipes and variations printed out to try for quite some time, but I just never got around to it.

Thankfully I gave it a try. I'm not kidding you when I say these are absolutely delicious. The flavor is good, the texture is pretty spot on, and they are simply fantastic. I served this to a few of my omnivore coworkers as well as my meat-eating roommate, and most agreed that they would never have been able to tell that it wasn't real sausage if I wouldn't have told them. Seriously - it's that good. Here they are served in marinara sauce with sauteed baby bella mushrooms and onions. However, you could probably serve them a million ways!

This variation came from "Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk," and it's pretty much true to the way she made it. I didn't add red peppers however, and added some garlic powder just for fun. True credit, of course, goes to the recipe creator, Julie of Everyday Dish.

Spicy Italian Sauzage II

Spicy Italian Sauzage
Makes 8 links

2 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 c nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 c chickpea flour
2 tbsp vegetarian chicken broth powder*
1 tbsp fennel seed, crushed
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
Pepper to taste

2 cups water
2 tbsp soy sauce (or Worcestershire sauce)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp hot sauce

Mix together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together all wet ingredients. Using a fork, gently stir into dry ingredients. Stir just until mixed. Scoop 1/2 cup of the dough mixture and shape into a log. Place each log on a sheet of aluminum foil and wrap up, twisting the ends. (Logs do not need to be perfect - they swell and fill out during cooking). Place sausages into steamer and steam for 30 minutes. Once they have cooled, remove from foil and refrigerate. These also freeze well. Serve and enjoy!

*I think this is a key ingredient. I used Frontier brand, and the powder provides a nice fullness and juiciness to the sauzage.

Check out the rest of the "Just Because It's Vegan" recipes:
*Thai Curry Tempeh Salad
*Raw Brownies

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Simple Thyme Vinaigrette

It's summer time, so the last thing you want to do is be a slave to the kitchen. Everyone has their grills out for the season, and it's nice to be able to cook your entire meal out there.

This vinaigrette is not only perfect for salads, but it's very tasty tossed with grilled vegetables. The best part about it is that it only takes about 3 minutes to whip up, so you can easily throw this together in a matter of time. Feel free to substitute any other fresh herbs in place of the thyme.

Food 009

Simple Thyme Vinaigrette
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
salt/pepper to taste

Pour vinegar into a small food processor. Slowly drizzle olive oil while processing until it's emulsified. (Or stop and add small amounts of oil each time, processing between each addition) Add thyme leaves, salt and pepper, and pulse. Serve over salad or roasted vegetables.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Announcing "Behind the Apron 2!"


I'm always amazed at the number of new food blogs that appear on a weekly basis. And we're talking about some serious food blogs with some serious talent! It was realizing that there were so many new players to the game that made me think back to last year's Behind the Apron.

What a great event that was! We got a chance to see the cooks behind some really great food blogs and it gave us the chance to put a face to the blog names we've become familiar with.

So I thought it would be a great idea to do another year's round-up and see who's cooking. If you're a new blogger, or you didn't participate last year, or you just want to participate again and give us an update on what you've done since last year, I'd love to have you join!

Starting today, and ending July 31st, post a picture of yourself on your blog, revealing as much (tastefully, of course) or as little as you want. Introduce yourself, show us your family, do whatever you want.

Send a link to your post to 28cooks AT gmail DOT com, and I will round them all up, posting the final tally on August 4th. Please make sure you place a link to this post in your entry. You can also feel free to snag the handy button up at the top.

So go ahead and come out from behind those aprons!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Summer Vegetable Cacciatore

There's nothing like the fresh bounty of summer that has you scrambling to find ways to use up all of the fresh produce available. One of the running jokes for summer produce is always what can be done with the 97,000 zucchinis that are in your garden.

Thankfully, I love zucchini. I don't think there's a way it's prepared that I don't like. It's easy to prepare, it's tasty, and it's healthy. I was in desperate need of a quick dinner the other night and wanted to use up the 2 zucchini I had sitting on the counter from my CSA box.

Enter this delicious recipe. It's quick, easy, and can be changed to suit your needs. I used mushrooms and zucchini, but you can easily add onion, asparagus, peppers, or any other vegetable that suits your fancy. You can also feel free to add tofu or seitan to make it a full meal, and carnivores would have no problem dropping a little chicken into the mix. No matter how you make it, this is definitely a quick and easy recipe you'll want to keep on hand to use up all of that delicious summer produce.

Vegetable Cacciatore I

Summer Vegetable Cacciatore
Serves 4

1 lb baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 zucchini, washed and diced
4 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp paprika (use hot if desired)
1/2 tsp crushed fennel seed
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add zucchini and saute for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Add paprika, fennel seed, and Italian seasoning and stir well to combine. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and sugar and simmer an additional 2-3 minutes. Serve and enjoy!