19 October 2014

Pressed Eggplant and Olive sandwich

I made this recipe again this week.

Changes I made:
- My greens had gone slimy, so I didn't have any spinach to put on the sandwich.
- I added some smoked tofu to help even out the deep flavours of the olives and eggplant.
- I put vegan cream cheese on both sides of the bread.
- I picked up the olives already chopped from the olive bar at the grocery store, and they also had artichokes and roasted garlic so those got added into the sandwich.

I pressed it for about 24 hours in the fridge and the olive oil had seeped into most of the bread. So so great.

I liked the tofu on the sandwich, it did bring a more neutral flavour to the heaviness of the olives and eggplant. I did NOT like the cream cheese. I'm not sure if it was the brand I used (Daiya, it was soo sweet) or if having it sit for 24 hours allowed it to react with the rest of the ingredients in some weird way? It nearly ruined the sandwich for me. Next time, no cream cheese. The rest of the sandwich was good, but the first time I made the sandwich was much better.

18 October 2014

Soy Curls with rice and broccoli

Back by popular request (well, one person requested that I start posting again)!

Sorry for the crappy cell phone photo! Sometimes the delicious food does not want to wait for the good camera to get out for the party.

Have you heard of soy curls? They are the new faux meat of choice here in Portland and I have really enjoyed trying all the different takes on them around town. I first tried them in a Buffalo "Chicken" sub at the Sweet Hereafter (all vegan bar) and fell in love. My next taste test was at the Double Dragon with the Orange Sesame Soy Curl sandwich. In a Mexican iteration, Los Gorditos allows you to add soy curls to practically any menu item so I had them in Gordito form, which was delicious. The latest soy curl consumption came from Canteen (another all vegan place) in the Southern bowl (see below).

The Southern Bowl and Apple Ginger Greens smoothie from the Canteen.

My husband was walking by the vegan grocery store after work a few weeks ago and picked up a package of soy curls for us. We just finished cooking through the 1lb bag (which lasted about five meals for the two of us) and I am eager to go pick up another package (or twelve). The texture is what I find so amazing about them. They are very substantial and don't break down like tofu can do. They also really do take up whatever flavour you put on them (like tofu is SUPPOSED to do) and don't require several long steps to get a good texture consistency (pressing, then marinating, then cooking it just right), just some rehydration, some sort of sauce, and go. They are wonderful!

Other things we tried with our package of soy curls:
- rehydrating and sautéing them with veggie broth, white wine, and butter, served with rice and vegeteables
- rehydrating with veggie broth, then sautéing with cumin and chili powder for use in fajitas

Ideas that look tasty from other food blogs:
Mongolian Soy Curls
BBQ Soy Curls
Sesame Soy Curls
Thai Soy Curl Pizza
Smokey Soy Curl Chili
And for more ideas, Pinterest seems to have a lot of recipes for these amazing bits of awesome.

warm veggie broth
1/4-1/3 cup of soy curls (for 1 VERY large serving or two normal size servings)
sweet chili sauce

fresh ginger, minced
fresh garlic, minced
broccoli, chopped


Start cooking rice in whatever method you choose (I can't live without my rice cooker).

While the rice is cooking, put the soy curls in the veggie broth and allow to rehydrate and marinate.

In a skillet over medium heat, add some olive oil and sauté the garlic and ginger for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the broccoli and some of the veggie broth (about 1/4 cup) from the soy curls. Stir, then cover and steam for about 5 minutes until the broccoli is to the desired doneness. I like it more on the crunchy side than soft. Taste for salt and pepper needs. Remove broccoli from pan.

In the same skillet used for the broccoli (no need to wash it!), add the soy curls with about 1/4 cup of the veggie broth and several glugs of the sweet chili sauce. Sauté over medium high heat until the broth has evaporated and the chili sauce is coated around the soy curls.

Serve soy curls with the rice and broccoli.

Seriously, get your hands on soy curls. This was a winning dish and I can't wait to get another package for more experimentation!

08 August 2014

Vegan Pho - Inspiration

I recently moved back to the Vegan Mecca - Portland, Oregon! I am so happy that I am now able to get a wide variety of vegan options at pretty much any restaurant I go into. My problem is, however, that when a restaurant makes a vegetarian dish from what is traditionally a meat dish, they tend to add vegetables to bulk up the meal that don't always go with the dish - green beans, bell peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, ugh. When I order a vegetarian version of a meat dish, I would like to just have tofu/tempeh/beans/whatever protein sub is appropriate to substitute for the meat and I want the same vegetables as you would get with the original dish. For example, I have ordered veggie fajitas from Mexican places only to be given mixed frozen vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, carrots) to put in my tortillas, instead of just getting the bell peppers and onions. And if I modify a dish to fit my diet it can end up being mediocre because I took off something that was essential to the flavour of the dish.

Anyway, all of this is to say, I don't want to order veggie pho with mushrooms, green beans, bell peppers and whatever other random vegetables they want to throw in, so I am going to make it at home. I spent some time searching for recipes online this afternoon and I thought I would share them on here.

I searched for recipes that made their own broth using flavourful ingredients because that is the most important part of any pho.

http://www.steamykitchen.com/271-vietnamese-beef-noodle-soup-pho.html (NOT VEGAN, but I am including it for ideas on what spices/veggies to use).

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/23/health/nutrition/noodle-soups-from-the-garden-simple-vegetarian-pho-broth.html?_r=0 (Onions as well as the ginger is grilled before making the broth... count me intrigued on how that brings out that real ginger flavour).

http://thecozyherbivore.blogspot.com/2012/12/vegan-pho-with-green-tea-broth.html (This is made with my favourite green tea - gen mai cha! I'm not sure if I want a "popcorn" flavour in my pho, but it is something to consider).

http://www.oneingredientchef.com/vegan-pho/ (If you are not following this blog, I highly suggest that you do so. Each of his recipes uses "one ingredient" - meaning only whole foods. Everything is as minimally processed as possible and all the recipes look super tasty).

I'm going to be at my sister's house in the 'burbs this weekend and I'll probably take the opportunity to go by Uwajimaya for proper rice noodles, fried tofu cubes, and Thai basil without paying "white people" prices.

Have you made Vegan Pho? If so, any recipe you recommend? Or do you know of some place in Portland that I should check out?

27 October 2013

Orange Tofu with rice and broccoli

We bought a tofu press this week. This one to be exact. It is essentially two plastic cutting boards with screws on two sides to compress the tofu. It is amazing. I looked at the reviews for both this one and the Tofu Xpress and decided to go with the simpler gadget. It took about 20 minutes to press the block of tofu down to dense deliciousness. For the first go with the press, I decided to use the resulting tofu in an orange sauce over rice with broccoli. I used a combination of three recipes for the orange sauce (Food52, Vegetarian Ventures, and the PPK).

1 16 oz package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
olive oil

zest from 1 orange
juice from two oranges
2 - 4 T rice wine vinegar (I think the higher amount balances out the sweet and salty well)
1 T maple syrup
1 - 2 T soy sauce
2 inch chopped fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic
Sriracha (or a fresh chili, or red chili flakes)
1 T cornstarch


1 head broccoli
olive oil

green onions, chopped

Press tofu using whatever device you fancy until it is firm, dense, and dry. It took about 20 minutes with our new gadget.

Cook rice in whatever way you fancy. We have a cheapo rice cooker and I'm not sure how I cooked rice without it.

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400F. Chop broccoli into pieces and coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put on a small pan in a single layer and place in the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes until the florets are a bit burnt and the stalk is tender.

While the tofu is pressing, rice is steaming, and broccoli is roasting, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust sauce, although not too much, the character changes a bit when it is heated. Make sure there are no clumps from the cornstarch.

When tofu is done pressing, cut into slices. Heat some olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat and add slices. Cook on each side until crispy, about 10 minutes all together.

Once the tofu goes into the pan, add the sauce to a large high sided skillet. Heat the sauce over medium heat until it starts to bubble and thicken and turn off the heat. Stir every so often to keep the sauce from becoming too stiff. Add the broccoli and tofu to the sauce when they are done and stir to coat. Serve over rice with fresh green onions.

We both loved the texture of the tofu after pressing it and the sauce was delicious. The tofu was chewy and not mushy at all. I am a tofu press convert. I cut the tofu into cubes and because I didn't marinate the tofu before cooking, the tofu was a bit bland in the middle. I suggest cutting thin slabs for this dish or marinating in the sauce before cooking. I am eating the leftovers for lunch tomorrow and perhaps the sauce will soak in by then.

27 March 2013

Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwiches

When I was growing up, church was three hours. In order to feed our hungry bellies after church in the quickest way possible, my parents would usually have something going in the slow cooker before we left for church. One of the things that I really enjoyed were the BBQ sandwiches. I'm not sure what meat was used (pork? beef?), but it was placed in the cooker and covered in BBQ sauce. When we got home, it was shredded and placed on toasted buns with slices of American cheese and pickles. I loved it. This is my vegan recreation of that.

Serves: 4 sandwiches (with about 1/2 cup leftover)

Inspired by BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich

1 15 oz can of jackfruit NOT IN SYRUP
1/2 12 oz jar of BBQ sauce (I used Stubb's BBQ Sauce, I think I was feeling particularly nostalgic for Texas the day I bought it.)

1/4 small cabbage
2 T vegan mayo
chiptole powder

Bulkie buns
vegan cheese, optional (a nice vegan cheese sauce might be good here)

Drain and rinse the jackfruit. Place the jackfruit into a 1.5 qt slow cooker, add BBQ sauce and stir until the jackfruit is covered. Cover the cooker and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours. I let it go to 8 hours and that might have been too long. Using a strong fork "shred" the jackfruit.

For the coleslaw, shred the cabbage into "coleslaw" style pieces. Mix in the vegan mayo and spices. Taste and adjust seasoning. This is here to provide some crunchy contrast to the jackfruit.

Toast the rolls, place a portion of the jackfruit on the rolls, add some coleslaw, and top with pickles and optional cheese.

This was amazingly delicious. I have one more can of jackfruit in my pantry and I think I might have to make this again. We both really really enjoyed it, a lot. Make it, and make it soon.

26 March 2013

Vegetable Bowl

As the day was winding down at work today, I was trying to decide what to make for dinner. We had several vegetables near the end of their lives and I knew that we had a lot of lentils and rice in the pantry. Thus the vegetable bowl with lentils and rice was born!

Serves: 2 (with about 1 cup leftover lentils, and 1 cup leftover vegetables)

1/3 - 1/2 cup brown lentils
1+ cups water
chipotle powder
smoked paprika

1 "cup" rice
1.5 "cup" water
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 medium butternut squash
3 stalks broccoli
1/2 onion
4 stalks rainbow chard
olive oil

Measure and rinse lentils. Place in a small saucepan and add water and spices. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn to a medium simmer and stir every so often to prevent sticking. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Using the "cup" measuring device from your rice cooker, measure and rinse rice. Put rice in rice cooker with the water and cumin seeds. My very simple cooker has one setting, but if you have a fancy pants cooker, you might want to set it specifically to the type of rice you are using. Cook until rice is done.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Peel and cut butternut squash into 2 cm pieces. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut broccoli into 4 cm long pieces, place on prepared baking sheet. Chop the onion into large pieces and place on baking sheet. Any other "roastable" vegetable can be used here - carrots, beets, potatoes, etc. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, rosemary, and anything else you think would be tasty. Stir vegetables to coat.

Place in oven, and bake for about 25 minutes or until tender, flipping vegetables over halfway through. You can also bake the remainder of the butternut squash at this time, but if you leave it in large pieces, it will have to bake for longer.

While the vegetables are in the oven, chop chard into 2 cm pieces. Sauté in a cast iron pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper, until wilted.

Grab a bowl, put in a scoop of rice, a ladle full of lentils, half the roasted vegetables, and half the chard. Repeat with second bowl.

This was delicious. I was reminded that we need to do vegetable medley dinners more often. We get a lot of produce with our food box delivery and I hate seeing portions of it go to waste each week. My husband was a big fan of this meal.

Other ideas for combinations:
Quinoa, beets, sweet potato, spinach
Quinoa, kale, carrots, potatoes
Rice, kidney beans, onion, carrots, jalapeno, cilantro, avocado
Rice, white beans, cabbage, onion, thyme
Millet, chickpeas, carrots, chard, onion (inspired by Vegan Richa)
The possibilities are endless!

03 March 2013

Breakfast Board

I started eating what I call breakfast boards when I visited Svalbard, Norway for work a few years ago. At the hotels they had Pickled breakfast buffets - pickled fish, pickled onions, pickled pickles, brown cheese, soft-boiled eggs and I loved making myself a plate with everything I could eat.

The last time my husband and I visited Portland, we went to Broder and I was so happy to have something so similar to my Svalbard memory. Over Christmas, we went to Berlin, Germany and had breakfast at Cafe Marx where they had a delicious vegetarian breakfast board (if a bit salty, but all German food is too salty to me). It was time to make a breakfast board at home.

You can use a variety of vegetables/dips for your board, this is just what I had on hand today.
bell pepper
bread and butter pickles
toast points with homemade bread

I love being able to put together different food bites during my breakfast to get a variety of flavours and textures.

11 November 2012

Butternut squash sauce over pasta

Today I was planning on going up to school to get some work done. Instead, I finished watching Breaking Bad and I answered e-mails from my advisor. I did get a lot of work done and because I was at home, I had the luxury of cooking something tasty for lunch.

I had two butternut squashes in my cupboard from our produce delivery that needed to be used up. I found a recipe for Smokey Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese at Manifest Vegan when I was looking through recipes I had starred in my Google Reader.

I loved this. Instead of using the smoked paprika, I added 1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce. I added some sriricha sauce because I wanted a bit more heat. I wanted a cheezier flavour, so I added about double the nutritional yeast called for, but it never got the flavour I wanted. I also use whole wheat rotini instead of gluten free pasta.

When my husband came home from his brewery tour, he finished off the rest of my portion and asked if I would boil him more pasta. I guess it is a winner.

09 November 2012

Butternut Squash Stacks

I have been playing around with more raw food recipes lately. I enjoy the freshness of raw food and I think SOME of the philosophy behind eating raw foods is compelling. Anyway, so I have been dabbling here and there with recipes. I tried to follow this raw food recipe from Callie England for these stacks, but I couldn't get the butternut squash soft enough to chew through. I ended up boiling the butternut squash for a few minutes in order to eat it.

These were super duper tasty! The cat came over to sniff them and ended up licking up some of the spinach filling. She is so weird.

I did boil the squash for a bit too long, so it became a tad mushy. Overall, pretty good.

08 November 2012

Beer brewing/pumpkin carving party food spread

My husband brews beer. Every few weeks he has his brew buddies over to brew a new batch. He has gotten very technical with all of it and now our basement is filled with two chest freezers with temperature controllers to have the beer brew and condition at the proper temperature as well as a lot of other peripheral brew equipment. The newest piece of equipment saw its debut a few weeks ago. We had a group of people (mostly physicists) over for beer brewing and pumpkin carving. The equipment is a plate chiller and is used to cool the boiling wort to yeast pitching temperature. Unfortunately, we didn't have the proper fittings to hook the hose onto the plate chiller, so they brainstormed and came up with a way to gravity feed the water from our second floor bedroom through the plate chiller to cool the beer. You can see pictures of this adventure at my friend, Robert's, blog. After all the shenanigans, I was glad I made a lot of food!

The entire spread

Dehydrated banana bread, from Practically Raw
It tastes just like banana bread, and only has a few ingrediants. Delicious!

Chocolate kale chips, also from Practically Raw
This is a pretty similar recipe, although I used raw cashews, maple syrup, cocoa powder, and no chia seeds or lemon juice. The massaging of the kale took the longest time. These taste like crispy bits of chocolate. You cannot taste the kale at all. The Practically Raw cookbook has an entire chapter on kale chips and another one on hummus. It is a fantastic book. I need to just buy it, I have been using the library copy for the past few months. The perk of being a graduate student, I get to check out books for as long as I desire.

Hummus, baba ganoush, pineapple, guacamole
All pretty standard recipes.

Homemade pita bread
I used a recipe from Whole Foods for the Whole Family and cooked them on a cast iron griddle in a 400 degree oven. I had the oven heating up to 500 degrees, but the smoke detector went off. Obviously, something was burning off the pan, but 400 degrees worked out fine. I got into quite a rhythm while I was making them. I divided them out into 12 balls. Rolled one ball out into a round with the rolling pin. Put it in the oven. Rolled out the next ball. Turned the first pita over. Put the second one in the oven. Roll out the next ball. Take the first pita out of the oven. Turn the second one over. Put the third one in the oven. I was so happy that these actually puffed up in the oven, it was great and amazing.

Everyone enjoyed the spread and we only had minimal leftovers. I would say the day was a hit!

The day after the beer brewing/pumpking carving, we were hit with the outskirts of Sandy. School was cancelled for Monday and Tuesday, but there wasn't a lot of damage in the area, thank goodness, and we never lost power. We did, however, see a pack of wild turkeys wander in our backyard during the worst of the wind and rain. They hung out for an hour and then moved onto whereever they were going.