Archive for July, 2009

Busy, not dead

July 24, 2009

April-October is a really busy time for me and these past few weeks have been even more so. I’ll be back, hopefully soon, with a ton of good stuff (vegan donuts!).

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Vegetable Fajita Quesadilla, Guacamole

July 14, 2009

Vegetable Fajita Quesadilla, Guacamole

One of my wife’s guilty pleasure used to be a chicken fajita quesadilla, which, as you might surmise, is a quesadilla stuffed with everything that would normally be served with fajitas – notably onions and peppers. It had been literally years since I had a quesadilla myself (vegan cheese sorely lacking – until recently) so I decided to try and approximate her guilty pleasure. And the results were immaculate.

I’m not one to just throw a bunch of onions and peppers in something and call them vegetables and be done, but she was pretty adamant about not using things like broccoli and cauliflower. So I went with a pretty standard mix of zucchini, yellow squash and carrots – all diced small – in addition to the onions and peppers. In a very hot pan I added some garlic oil (a shock, I know) and began to sautee the vegetable mix until everything was cooked through.

While that was sauteeing I shredded some Teese so that as soon as the vegetables were done I could combine everything in a bowl. I’m glad I didn’t try to add Teese directly to the pan – it would have melted too fast – as well as not trying to use it from a cold state. Adding the hot vegetable mixture to the cold Teese in a separate bowl was the perfect idea.

I laid out my whole wheat tortillas, filled them halfway and began to sear each one individually to get the optimum crust. The key here is to have a hot pan, low amount of oil and not be scared of hot things – it will allow you to keep an eye on the bottom of the pan without flipping too early or too late.

Before all of that had begun, however, I had made some guacamole. I love guacamole – I eat at work almost daily. I also criticize guacamole a bit too harshly. It sounds like it’s a really easy dish/condiment to make, but to make a really good guacamole takes more than just an avocado, salt and lime juice.

For mine I use the following in varying amounts – literally until it tastes right:
Avocado
Lime Juice (I cheated and used the bottled stuff – shhh) [Lemon Juice will suffice as well]
Salt
Pepper
Tomatoes
Cilantro
Cumin

The key here is to get that perfect blend of salt, lime and cumin. Too much of either will overpower everything, but the right blend? Sublime.

Kitchen Cart

July 11, 2009

Kitchen Cart

I’ve been looking for a way to increase my kitchen space for about a year now. Every time I think I’ve narrowed down my options, something creeps up and I throw it all away. So, it was one random day while in Bed Bath and Beyond that I turned the corner away from the kitchen area. And what did I see? The cart I had been looking at off and on. It was bamboo. It had counter top space. It had drawers. It had a cabinet. It was less than what it cost online AND I had a 20percent off coupon. It was literally everything I wanted. So I bought it, built it and it’s seemed like I’ve doubled my productivity space. No longer am I forcing all of my kitchen utensils into one small drawer. No longer am I forced to do the dishes to make space to make more of a mess (I know, I should).

Jasmine Rice, Kumquats, Mixed Vegetables

July 8, 2009

Jasmine Rice, Kumquats, Mixed Vegetables

It’s simple meals like this that keep me sane. A ton of my favorite foods all come together to create something, simple, flavorful and filling.

In this case, it was the gorgeous-looking kumquats at the grocery store that provided the inspiration. As soon as I saw them, I knew they could be passed up, so I bought them with no plan for using them.

I’ve loved kumquat since the first time I tried them – sour, yet sweet with a great texture they’re hard to beat when their ripe and in season.

I quickly looked through my cupboards and fridge and came up with a quick stir fry of vegetables with jasmine rice with the kumquats.

Jasmine rice is soft, fragrant and flavorful, but the best part is how quickly it cooks. Fifteen minutes on the dot and you’re ready to go. I wish I had thrown in a few kumquats while it was cooking instead of adding them later, but I’ll know for next time.

The vegetables were just a medley zucchini, yellow squash, baby carrots and spinach chiffonade with some dried cilantro all quickly sauteed with some roasted garlic oil, salt and pepper. Easy.

Gnocchi, Spinach, Italian Bread

July 8, 2009

Gnocchi, Spinach, Italian Bread

Now, I’ve blogged about gnocchi before, but I really just wanted to talk about this bread.

This bread, you see, has revolutionized my bread-making abilities. Ok, revolutionized may be a bit strong, but it certainly has changed how I’ve made bread going forward. What was the big discovery? Dried herbs.

It sounds so simple, no? It is, but you get such an amazing effect from them it’s almost a waste not to use them. They’re cheap, don’t go bad (well, eventually) and pack a ton of flavor.

That also leads me to the perfect bread recipe. I mean perfect.

6.5 cups of flour (use any kind you want, just make sure that 4 cups of it is high gluten – whole wheat or even all purpose. The full 6.5 cups of something like spelt flour or barley flour just won’t work).
2 tablespoons of yeast
2 tablespoons of salt
.5 cup of olive oil (or any kind of oil, flavored or otherwise)
3 cups of water (lukewarm, but don’t stress the temperature too much)
Seasonings to taste – I’ve yet to add too much

Combine all ingredients and store in a non-reactive container (I use a stainless steel bowl) lightly covered. On the day you want to bake, just pinch off the size of loaf you want and form into the shape you want. Bake on 400 degrees until it’s nice and dark on the outside. If the bread is sticking to your hands while you’re shaping, add more flour (whole wheat or all-purpose) until it stops doing so. You should let the bread rest at least 15 minutes before cutting into it – no matter how tempting it may be.

Whole Wheat Farfalle, Basil Pesto, Heirloom Tomatoes

July 6, 2009

Whole Wheat Farfalle, Basil Pesto, Heirloom Tomatoes

I’m a sucker for heirloom tomatoes. Whenever I see them for a reasonable price (<$4/pound) I feel obligated to pick them up. Even if I know I won't possibly have time to use them. I think it's because there's just a short season for them (and good tomatoes in general, for that matter). So, when I saw them on sale recently, I grabbed four of them.

And, like clockwork, I forgot about them just long enough for them to be on the verge of going bad so I either had to use them or freeze them for a later batch of marinara. I had that basil pesto from before in the fridge and some whole wheat farfalle (which is frustratingly difficult to find at a decent price) in the pantry. Boiled up the pasta, diced the tomaoes and tossed it all together. Another delicious meal that took about ten minutes to make (once the water boiled, of course).

Must read article

July 1, 2009

The below article, from LA food blog quarrygirl.com is a must read for all of the vegans out there. It will really make you think about where and what you eat.

http://www.quarrygirl.com/2009/06/28/undercover-investigation-of-la-area-vegan-restaurants/