Friday, July 30, 2010

Soba noodles, Salt and Pepper Tofu, and Ice Cream Balls

We are having dinner guests tonight. One is a vegetarian! I am really excited because there is so much less stress in cooking for people that are not a) scared of tofu, b) going to ask me defensive questions about my dietary choices during dinner, and c) going to describe to me how they are going to "un-vegan" the meal in the future because it was so good. :-)

So, on the menu:
Soba Noodles with Zucchini and Carrot Ribbons (Thank you, Vegan Vicki) (left out the mushrooms; added carrot ribbons)
Salt & Pepper Tofu (Thank you again, Vegan Vicki!)
Oven Roasted Green Beans
Sauteed Mushrooms (substitute vegan butter!)
And for dessert:
Ice Cream Balls with Hot Fudge Dipping Sauce

I found organic soba noodles at the Asian Market (that 18.00 price tag is Danish Kroner not USD!!). The package says they are ready in 6 minutes but mine were done in less than 3. The package contains 3 individually wrapped groups of noodles. I made all three and it was a good ratio of veggies to noodles (I tripled the veggie recipe) but too much food for 4 people. I am not complaining about the leftovers though!

The veggie stir fry originally calls for Mirin. I did not have this and did not feel like buying a bottle of it considering I have lived without it for this long. Instead, I added half the amount of Rice Wine Vinegar. The result was a much tangier flavor; not the sweet/saltiness of a Mirin and soy combo. I think it went over well. As for the "ribbon" style veggies, I spent over an hour with a veggie peeler making these ribbons with carrots and zucchini. For guests, worth the effort. If I ever make this again for John and I, I would just chop it all up and call it a day.

I was really interested in the "5 spice seasoning" that this tofu recipe calls for. It is a new spice for me and I get easily excited by new flavors! John was not crazy about this tofu but I enjoyed it. Instead of a jalapeno pepper, I used red pepper flakes and they definitely added a kick.

I love the flavor of lemon in mushrooms! I added a tablespoon of diced red pepper simply for color.

I don't have a picture of the green beans, but they were green and slightly shriveled. John's first comment about the meal, "The green beans were good." Enough said.

And finally, the ice cream balls! I bought sugar free strawberry ice cream from a place called Paradis. All of their fruit flavored ice creams are vegan making it a very dangerous place for me. Here is an example of why:

After my second trip to Paradis, I returned home with this "feeds 4-6 people", multi-flavor packed, Styrofoam cooler of vegan ice cream.

The Hot Fudge Dipping sauce was more like mousse because I left it in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving it. Below are the soy creamer and vegan butter that I used.

Soft Poppy Seed Polenta with Roasted Veggie Stew

This meal turned out to be a huge success, but it took so many strange turns during the prep that I really never knew what I was making until it was finished!

It all started out as an attempt to make a Polenta Pie. After adding the water to the polenta, I realized I was mentally following a recipe for "soft" polenta, not the kind that molds. So, I threw in poppy seeds and decided it would sit well inside a hearty stew. Veganomicon suggests this polenta with an eggplant and chickpea stew....I did not have eggplant or hydrated chickpeas. Instead, I roasted a variety of veggies and herbs (and actually burned them a bit accidentally, but the flavor was great and the crispness of the veggies held while they heated in the stew). For the stew broth, I added a veggie bullion cube to water along with 2 diced tomatoes. I had the idea of adding a tablespoon of flour to give it a bit of texture but the flour just clumped before I could whisk it together. So, I got out the blender and blended the mixture, which turned out to be a great idea!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Golden Curry with Basmati Rice

In September, I will be changing my status from full-time housewife to "I need more help around the house because I now have a full time job!"
Although I have loved spending my days experimenting with vegan cooking, obsessing over housework, reading, catching up on American TV, traveling, and other adventures inside the home and beyond, I am extremely excited about a) a schedule, b) daily adult interaction that doesn't involve someone being paid to help me (e.g, check-out clerks, ikea employees, dry cleaner, etc.) and c) my own paycheck!

To help me get back into the swing of full time work, John is helping with dinner a few nights a week. For his first meal, he chose this boxed, Indian-inspired, "just add water" dish. I love him to pieces and he is an amazing partner.....but I quickly established it was an old favorite from his bachelor days.

That aside, it was a hot vegan meal, contained veggies and rice, and came together quickly, and quietly!

He added chickpeas, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, and onion. He was going to add tofu to the mix, but forgot! :-)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Double Broccoli Quinoa and Chickpea Cutlets

This is my absolute favorite recipe for quinoa from the blog site 101 Cookbooks. I followed her recommendation to add sliced avocado, additional toasted almonds, and chili oil before serving.

Incidentally, last time we were at the Asian Market, John bought Chili and Garlic oil. It is extremely hot but added a nice element to the dish.

The broccoli pesto portion of the recipe calls for Parmesan cheese. I made a batch of Sesame Parm. I did not have white sesame seeds though, so I substituted black. Great flavor, interesting color!

Chickpea cutlets are always a hit around here and impossible to mess up.

Spicy, Roasted Veggie Tofu Omelets

This is my third attempt at the recipe for Tofu Omelets in Vegan Brunch and John and I agree, they get better each time! Of course, my first omelet of this batch was a complete failure, reminding me that if the batter is too thin, it is impossible to flip. On the other hand, too thick results in a raw, gooey and pasty like mess. My other conclusion, don't be afraid to cook the omelet until it is a dark, golden brown. A little crispiness compliments this dish nicely!

I melted mozzarella style cheese slices inside the omelet along with black olives and a mixture of spicy, roasted veggies. I found these slices at a super cute organic grocery store here in Denmark called Ganefryd.

Hot Sauce Glazed Tempeh

So much for eating less soy! John put his foot down this week exclaiming, "But I love tofu!" It is very difficult to argue with him considering how supportive he is of my vegan cooking. It isn't like he is asking for hamburger!!! I still plan to "limit" our consumption, but for now, it is on the menu to stay!

So, I followed this recipe from the Veganomicon cookbook and it was perfect. Spicy and tangy. I was never a fan of tempeh until I was introduced to the "steam out the bitterness" technique. Now, I enjoy it almost as much as tofu.

On the side, Cornmeal Roasted Cauliflower (The original recipe includes garam masala and other Indian spices. For this batch, I substituted basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes) and Salt and Vinegar Potatoes (I am obsessed with these!)

I was a little sad while preparing this post as I noticed nothing green on the plate!!! But, the left-over tempeh was absolutely delicious the next day heated and served on a bed of mixed greens.

Ginger Veggie Stir Fry (2 ways)

Initially, this stir fry was to accompany bean curd. The bean curd flopped but this recipe was a fantastic score. I made it two nights in one week, once with rice and once with noodles. It isn't really anything special (I used flour instead of corn starch) but for some reason, I couldn't get enough of it!

Cream of Broccoli Soup and Salad

The soup recipe is from the Vegan Dad blog. I used oat milk instead of cashew cream. I really love this guy's recipe for cashew cream but our movers had not delivered our stuff yet, so I didn't have a blender. To get the soup somewhat smooth, I spooned out the chunks of veggies and mashed them with a fork. Time consuming, yes. Worth the effort, yes!

John made a very delicious salad to go with the soup. He decided the sweetness of pears would compliment the balsamic vinegar dressing along with yellow peppers and mixed greens.

Dried Bean Curd Sheets

John and I used to order Ginger Bean Curd from a restaurant in Eugene, Oregon called Lotus Garden. It was amazing; so when we saw dried bean curd sheets at the Asian Market, we were very excited!

I couldn't find much in the way of directions or recipes online but decided to make a ginger and veggie stir fry, wrap it up in the bean curd sheets (egg-roll style) and then fry the rolls.

After soaking the bean curd for almost an hour in hot water, it was still pretty tough. It did not turn into the soft, fluffy layers that I so fondly remember, even after being fried. The texture was rubbery and did not smell appealing. To sum it up, it was like eating band-aids. No, I have never eaten a band-aid, but I am sure this is what it would be like.

Needless to say, I will be leaving the bean curd to the professionals.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Spicy Black Bean and Tempeh Tacos

Over the weekend, John and I went to the Asian market and bought soy sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar, and other staples. They had a huge block of fresh tempeh and John was practically drooling over it. Although I am trying to minimize our soy consumption, we agreed that we would put it on the menu once a week. I followed this recipe for the tacos. It was really simple. We did not include vegan cheese but made a batch of guacamole instead and used chopped cabbage instead of lettuce. We also topped the tacos off with salsa.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Veggie Lover's Pizza

This pizza was amazing!!! The crust was sweet because of the added sugar but spicy because I also added red pepper flakes. It was thick on the edges but thin in the middle. I pressed it out into a large, rectangular oven pan. I spread spaghetti sauce on the crust then spooned on the following chopped veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, onion, red, green, and yellow pepper, and mushrooms. I also added black olives. The veggies were seasoned with oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and a little olive oil. It baked at 425 for about 12 minutes. Here is the crust recipe that I followed. Instead of white flour, I used Durum.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Salt and Vinegar Potatoes with Roasted Veggies

The recipe for the potatoes came up on my blog list and I knew I had to try it! Then, a friend posted a link to the same recipe on facebook and that sealed the deal. So, they made it to the menu for dinner tonight along with a hodge podge of roasted veggies including mushrooms, red peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower. I mixed the veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika, and dried basil.

I don't have a grill, but the potatoes turned out fantastic roasted alongside the veggies. I also made a salad of mixed greens, avocado and olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing.

Herb Garden

Here is another attempt of mine to grow herbs! I found a cute set of three pots, compost, and seeds for a very reasonable prices. Herbs, like all other things, are very expensive here in Denmark. Hopefully, I will soon have Chives, Basil, and Parsley.

Red Lentil Sloppy Joes

I am continuing to focus on vegetables, grains, and fruits (i,e., no soy). So, even though I found burger crumbles at the store, I was really excited to try Sloppy Joes with beans instead.
The verdict: awesome! Sweet, tangy, insanely messy, and very filling.

The recipe is from the blog Vegan Dad. I bought whole wheat hamburger buns at the grocery store, toasted them for a few minutes, added lettuce and tomato and the meal was complete.

I did have to make a few substitutions to the recipe. Instead of red wine vinegar, I used half as much balsamic vinegar. I left out the Worcestershire sauce and used white instead of brown sugar. And finally, I used Sriracha instead of Tabasco.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bran Muffins

While packing to move from Austria to Denmark, I had to dwindle our kitchen supplies down, including a hearty supply of wheat bran. I made these muffins, which were not fantastic. I would go as far as to say "good" for bran muffins though!

The recipe is not vegan but easily made so. I substituted agave for honey, powdered egg substitute for egg, soy butter for butter, and soy yogurt for regular. I added hazelnuts and dried mango to the mix for a bit of flavor.

Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna Spirals

I am catching up on posts that I didn't get to while still living in Vienna!

A while back, I made a very similar recipe with sun-dried tomatoes and pesto. This time, I added roasted red peppers and spinach, sauteed in garlic, along with a tofu ricotta base. To save time, the tomato sauce is store bought. This meal is an extremely simple way to make something comparable to lasagna, it is very filling, and versatile because of the many flavors that can be added to the tofu ricotta base.

Red Curry with Spinach Noodles

Even though our apartment still has the lingering odor of Indian curry from the previous tenant, Thai curry surprisingly sounded good for dinner. I found red curry paste and organic coconut milk at Foetex (a grocery/Target style store within walking distance of our apartment). I start by cooking down an onion and handful of chopped garlic in water. After the onion is soft, I add 2 tablespoons of the curry paste and the can of coconut milk and cook until it is boiling. Next, turn the heat off, add whatever veggies you want and let them cook down in the hot sauce until they are your desired texture. We like ours still a little crisp. I added a little sliced avocado to the dish.

Normally we eat the curry over Jasmin rice but I found spinach noodles in the Thai food section and decided they would be an interesting substitution for the rice. I also get very tired of rice so a brake is always welcomed.

The coloring of the picture makes everything look a bit green (or yellow??) because the lighting in the apartment is very sparse.

I would also like to point out the white dishes we are now using!!! The yellow and blue floral, Aztec, country fusion pattern of the dishes in Vienna (we live in furnished apartments and have no choices!) was nothing to be sad about leaving behind!

Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa and Tomato Sauce

Even though tofu is available here, we are trying to cut back on our consumption of soy. This means, lots of vegetables and grains! Our oven here in Denmark is exceptionally nice and roasts veggies in just minutes. The oven in Vienna could take up to an hour just to heat up. For a quick meal, I roasted zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, red and yellow pepper, onion, and garlic with a random assortment of herbs. The veggies were served over quinoa, cooked, then mixed with a jar of organic pasta sauce. On the side, olives stuffed with garlic cloves and guacamole.

Every time I make a meal that consists of random flavors, textures, and temperatures, John comments it is his favorite type of dinner. I agree!

Welcome to Denmark

My husband's company purchased these flowers for us as a "Welcome to Denmark" gesture!

So far, finding organic fruits and vegetables is not difficult. I have not noticed if they are local or imported but the concept of buying local is very strong here. I have also found a brand of marinated tofu, soy burger crumbles, and something resembling chicken nuggets in the frozen foods section. Soy, rice, and oat milk are easy to find in most grocery stores, and yesterday, we found soy creamer. The usual variety of grains (quinoa, bulgur, all varieties of rice, polenta, all varieties of beans, etc) are available. On my to-do list for this week, I plan to visit the asian market, turkish market, and an all organic supermarket in search of nutritional yeast and agave, along with a few other "must-have" staples.

As for restaurants, we have only had lunch out a few times at a place called Jacob's Pita Bar. They have a humus and falafel pita that is very tastey! Yesterday, a friend gave us a mini guide to the city that lists a few restaurants with vegetarian selections. Dining out is VERY pricey, so it won't happen often. But, I am thrilled to know that I might have a few options for when our budget opens up to a night out!

In a nut shell, Denmark is not vegan-friendly, but also not vegan-impossible!

Floradix: Flora Iron & Herbs

When we first arrived in Denmark, it felt normal to be exhausted for a few days. But after a few days of sleeping in and continuing to be tired throughout the day, I didn't feel normal. I also noticed that I was bruising very easily on my arms, hips, and legs. I don't know if this was connected at all, but I decided my iron might be low. Fortunately, the grocery store down the street carries Floradix. Here is a website with great information and the ability to order online. I can't be certain that there is a connection, but after taking it for a week, I notice a significant increase in my level of energy.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Spicy Polenta Pie

Officially our second meal as residents of Aarhus, Denmark. (The first was just pasta with a jar of tomato sauce.... Not really blog worthy!) We are still figuring out where to shop, unpacking, and heavy duty cleaning of the new apartment. Fortunately, there is a grocery store within walking distance and they have a decent selection of organic produce, grains, cereals, and other general necessities.

I followed this recipe for the polenta but added thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. I didn't use the recipe for the vegetables though. It has a really delicious, sweet flavor but I was not in the mood for anything sweet. Instead, I chopped onion, zucchini, mushrooms, red and yellow pepper, cauliflower, broccoli, and whole garlic cloves. I mixed it with olive oil, thyme, red pepper flakes, paprika, salt and pepper and roasted it.

We spooned on tomato sauce before eating. It was very simple but so flavorful.