18 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.

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?