Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Soy Vey es Meir

It's my birthday today and I'm thinking of what I want to do with my veganizing experience.
Probably write it up for a free-lance article, but also maybe a vegan Jewish cookbook (I'd call it Soy Vey but I think the sauce maker has that copywrited)

Tonight, dinner with hubby and sons at Source in SF -- a mostly vegan restaurant. I'll report back.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tofu Baked in Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Sauce

Here's one of those concept dishes, that I just did and didn't create an actual recipe.
I made a batch to bring to a dinner featuring meat so I would have something to eat.  The hostess left some potatoes plain for me before she made non-vegan mashed potatoes and there were steamed green beans and my vegan cauliflower "steaks" along side (watch for that recipe).  I may recreate this tofu dish soon and when I do I'll write down the proportions and update this post.

Tofu Baked in Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Sauce

The genesis for this dish is my sauce, which you can see below-- basically it's pomegranate molasses with tomato paste and brown sugar.  I added about 3/4 cup of hot water and stirred the sauce until smooth and added 1/4 of a small onion, chopped and 3 chopped garlic cloves along with a container of  extra firm (not super firm), tofu, drained, rinsed and cut into cubes.  Let marinate for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Put in an oiled baking dish in a preheated 425 degree oven, bake, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is creamy when you bite into a piece, onions are browned and the sauce is almost entirely incorporated into the dish (it shouldn't be liquid).

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Drizzle with additional pomegranate molasses before serving if desired.

I used a 12 oz. container of House brand tofu and it I could have eaten the whole dish myself, so I'm not sure how to rate the serving size. Maybe 2 if you are not ravenous.

Pomegranate Molasses BBQ SauceMakes about ½ cup

½ cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Mix well. Heat, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Pour into container or serving bowl and allow to cool. Mixture will thicken as it cools.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vegan Latkes for Chanukah

Vegan latkes use flax seeds as binder
Tonight's the first night of Chanukah (or Hanukkah or Hanukah or even Xanuka). It's always very special watching the glow of the menorah's candles in the darkened room surrounded by those I love. (You can find links to all my Chanukah posts here)

Since I'm about 99.9% vegan these days (I do still create and sample non-vegan recipes but I don't inhale), I thought I'd try adapting my latke recipe so I could scarf them up just like everybody else.  The recipe worked well and the non-vegans who sampled the test batch liked them just as much as I did.  The flax seeds gave the latkes a faintly nutty taste that was very pleasant.  Since the symbolism of the fried potato pancake at Chanukah is all about the oil, not about the egg, a vegan latke is perhaps unorthodox but still in keeping with holiday tradition. If you would like the recipe and technique to make the more traditional latkes, please click here.

Vegan Latkes
Serves 6 as a side dish, if this is a main course serves about 4.  If you are feeding folks that like to grab the hot latkes right out of the fry pan for a little taste or nosh, yield will be significantly less.

I use flax seeds that come preground. I don't peel the potatoes. Shredding the onions with the potatoes is alleged to help retard browning, however once the potatoes are fried, any discoloration can't really be seen.

4 Tbs. ground flax
3/4 cup of water
3 lbs. of russet, Idaho or other baking potato, peeling optional
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Canola or other frying oil

Mix the ground flax seeds with the water.  Stir or whisk until combined.  Let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thick and gelatinous.

Shred potatoes alternating with onion.  (Larger shreds produce lacier latkes with rougher edges. Fine shreds or grated potatoes produce more "pancake"-like latkes.)  Squeeze dry and discard liquid.  Stir in garlic, salt, pepper and flax seed mixture.  Mix well.   Let sit for a few minutes so mixture can bind.

In a very large skillet (the heavier the better) over medium-high heat, heat oil that is about 1/4-inch deep until it is very hot. (I drop a bit of batter in to see if it sizzles with bubbles all around.)  Take a handful of the batter (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup depending on how large you want the pancakes) and press the the batter between two hands to make a patty, squeezing again to remove any moisture. Place carefully in the hot oil, pressing down on the latke occasionally to flatten it somewhat.  Do not over crowd the pancakes in the pan. Fry them until browned on both sides and crisp on the edges, adding more oil as needed. Drain on parchment paper (see note below). Repeat until all latkes are fried. Keep cooked latkes warm in a low (250 degree) oven if desired.

Note:  The flax seeds not only "glue" the potato shreds together, they also cause the latkes to stick to paper towels or brown paper bags (the usual medium for draining them).  Use the parchment paper instead to avoid or lessen the problem or pat the latkes with a paper towel and set them directly on the serving platter.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My first vegan cookies

I recently made my first vegan cookies.  I swapped margarine for butter in this peppermint cookie recipe.
I felt that the taste was a bit "off" but they tasted great frozen.  I think I'll try again using an Earth Balance product.  I did manage to finish them all off, though.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

10 Rules for New Vegans

  1. Shake the soy milk carton
  2. Plan ahead, make a pot of beans but not a kettle
  3. Get a cast iron pan, take a multi-vitamin and look for foods high (normally or adapted) in iron and calcium.
  4. Learn to explain to your friends that no you don't even eat cheese.
  5. Learn to patiently explain to your friends that some times being able to eat cheese is not an inalienable right
  6. Do not try any vegan cheeses or other "analog" products until  you haven't eaten the "real thing" for at least a month. That way you can enjoy them without a direct comparison. Then get Dairya mozzarella shreds.
  7. Steer any restaurant meals toward Asian and Indian -- usually there is something delicious for you
  8. Make peace with plain baked potatoes, pasta with veggies and simple salads, that's often the choice at more mainstream restaurants.  Focus on your family and friends not the food.
  9. Try not to indulge in too much fried or processed food -- some is desireable, unavoidable or understandable, but too much will undo the good impacts of a vegan diet and make you the dreaded "French fry vegan"
  10. Develop a 10-second "elevator" speech about why you are vegan and practice it.  Somehow it will be everybody's business.  To save time and aggravation make it about your own needs. Anything else can feel threatening and you will often end up finding friends and family feeling threatened and create mutally defensive confrontations.  Unless of course, that's your goal, in which case go for the extremes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bill of Fare - Some Thoughts on Eating Vegan and the Virtue of Plain Baked Potatoes

Assume that's vegan spread on this hot potato

There is something so creative to me, at least at this stage, about cooking without animal products.

I wouldn't exactly say I've lost my taste for non-vegan foods, but I'd also say that the flavors of what I do eat seem so much stronger and cleaner. 
The food I've been cooking (as opposed to making do with when I eat out) has been astounding.  Take today for instance -- portobello mushroom onion soup (made with my good homemade stock) and cranberry bean and dried tomato bean slather on crusty whole wheat bread for lunch (with a small side of leftover kale and bean saute) and sauteed potatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, turnip greens and tomatoes with smoky tempe with lots of spice for dinner.

The flip side is having to almost always find some way to accommodate my veganism when we go out.  Asian and Indian restaurants are the easiest, everything else can be tough.  Do I really want a sorry-looking iceberg lettuce salad and a plain baked potato for dinner?  No.  Have I eaten that, yes. Partly because going out to eat is usually now not about the food but about the convenience (lots of bean and rice burritos have been consumed) or about being with friends or family (lots of baked potatoes and side orders of veggies). 

Since I've always been so food-focused I kind of relish this switch in perspectives and think it is a good thing. Part of my acceptance comes from knowing what I am doing is good for me, part comes from the "game" I'm playing with myself to do it and part comes from feeling like what I reach my weight loss goal I will add in the occasional animal product so nothing will be off limit forever (disclaimer - I still take tastes of dishes with animal products as part of my freelance food writing efforts, although I find that I am creating fewer and fewer recipes that require that compromise).

The truth is I no longer enjoy (nor does my body) eating more than a few spoonfuls of anything non-vegan.  I am enjoying how I feel with being a vegan.

Photo credit: WP Clipart

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thoughts on Creating a Vegan Basil Pesto

When I first started eating vegan I focused on foods and cuisines that were if not naturally vegan easily adaptable.  I had never been a big fan of "fake" meats and cheeses, preferring to just focus on the wide variety of plant-based foods that are out there.  But after a bit, the lure of these analogs combined with missing some familiar food forms lured me in.

Cheese is the big threshold for many who would consider a vegan diet and I have a lot more to say about that, but for now I wanted to focus on one particular dish that uses cheese - basil pesto.

I had just bought a fragrant bunch of basil and was trying to decide what to do with it when it hit me I wanted pesto. REALLY wanted pesto.  I had tried some herb pesto combinations without cheese and I hadn't been totally satisfied with them, they tasted flat or overly sharp and didn't have the taste and mouth feel I wanted.  Yesterday I had a revelation -- nutritional yeast.

It worked beautifully.  I'm sorry to say I didn't write down the proportions of what I did, but I will make it again and do so and share.  Here's what I combined:

Basil leaves
Garlic clove
Olive Oil
Pasta Cooking Water (or use hot water or veg stock)
Slivered, blanched almonds (I stay away from pine nuts now due to the cost and the issues of pine nut mouth)
Nutritional Yeast (powdered kind)

With everything whirled in the food processor to a nice consistency.

I served the pesto tossed with whole wheat pasta as part of a meal with steamed artichokes with homemade lemon hummus, green bean and cherry tomato vinaigrette salad,  onion and peppers saute with tofu cubes in red wine sauce, green salad and rustic bread.  It was just a dinner for my hubby, Gary, and me, but it was a feast.

photo credit:  MS Clip Art

Friday, October 28, 2011

Silken Tofu with Tomatoes, Basil and Olive Oil

Shown above is Hodo Soy brand silken "soy custard" tofu with sliced heirloom tomatoes, basil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. I made it my whole dinner one recent hot night, but it would make a lovely appetizer.  The Hodo tofu comes in a tub and is not "pressed" into a cake.  You can also find tofu like this in some Asian markets. (Hodo's tofu is handmade and is really only available now in northern California and is worth seeking out.)

Delicious, simple, healthy and good.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Roasted Apple Sauce with Warm Spices

Please go to Blog Appetit for this recipe of roasted apple sauce with "warm spices."
I really enjoyed it for snack topped with plain soy yogurt (as shown in the photo).  It also worked well as a side dish for my kale and bean saute.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple Cranberry Pie with Granola Streusel Topping

Click over to Blog Appetit to see the recipe for my Apple-Cranberry Pie with Granola Streusel.  I used granola that was made with agave syrup rather than honey and a vegan frozen deep dish pie shell (Safeway) as well as Earth Balance spread instead of the butter to make this vegan.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Dish It Up Vegan Manifesto (or Mani-feast-o, This is a Food Blog After All)

This is me - your Temporary Vegan or is it Pragmatic Vegan?
I'm still trying to figure out how to fit this blog and vegan blog concept together with my life and other writing, which is not surprising since trying to conceptualize "what" kind of vegan I am and how that fits into my life and other writing is an on-going issue for me.

Am I a Temporary Vegan? A Sometimes Vegan? A for Now Vegan, but We'll See About Later? A Pragmatic Vegan? A "Really, It's NOT that Hard to Give Up Cheese, Don't Start on That Vegan? I started eating vegan months ago and remain committed to it in my way until I am back at goal weight and all my cholesterol and related "numbers" are in sync.

I think one reason it took me so long to create this adjunct blog was that I just didn't have clarity.  Just naming this blog was an interesting intersection of available blogger URLs, my chameleon vegan identity and not wanting to create a brand/persona/id too similar to other vegan bloggers out there.  Be glad the blog is not called "I am a Veganess (for now) Hear Me Roar."  Since that clarity hasn't yet occurred, I went for Dish It Up Vegan and here are the limited goals I'm starting out with:

1. To record and share my vegan journey -- you get to hear the stuff I'm careful not to bore my friends with, since I assume if you have sought out this site you are interested in the topic.

2. To parse what being vegan means to me which is subject to change at any time and to create a non-judgemental place for readers and me to explore this.

3. To share vegan restaurants, products, foods, books, blogs, menus and recipe ideas and feature other vegan friends and cooks ideas. Note: recipes will most likely be posted in Blog Appetit (my main "all foods" blog) and either linked or reprinted here depending on my whims and page view stats over at BA.  (I publish my RSS feed for Blog Appetit on the page tab marked "Blog Appetit" above.) But I make a lot of vegan food that you couldn't characterize as having formal recipes and I'll be sharing those ideas EXCLUSIVELY on Dish It Up Vegan.

4. I'm Jewish and often write about Jewish food and related topics, although I consider my food, cooking, tastes and blogs more global than specifically Jewish. I do expect some of that Jewishness will leak over into Dish It Up Vegan and I look forward to sharing that with everyone, but it is just one aspect of what we'll be talking about here.  If a recipe is labeled as Jewish it will conform to Jewish dietary law standards, however other recipes may or may not be kosher.

I'd love to hear about your rookie vegan adventures, tips, resources, post/recipe requests or whatever you'd like to share.  You can comment below, email me through my Blogger profile or send an email to clickblogappetitATgmailDOTcom.

Photo by Bonnie Burt

Sunday, October 16, 2011


This is a placeholder blog for a future project
Please go to my "all" foods Blog Appetit for hundreds of recipes, posts and more.
Click on the Vegan/Vegan Option label for my vegan-friendly recipes.