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.