You might not be vegan, but it's hard to look at that plate of food and not be at least a little tempted, right?
Not only is that dish vegan, but most of the ingredients came from Aldi, which has been getting a lot of press lately. It occurred to me as I was making dinner for Taco Tuesday that very little of what went on the plate didn't come from there. Here's what came from Aldi:
I put in the tortilla picture at the end to even it out, but even the plastic wrap came from Aldi. Essentially, the only ingredients that weren't from Aldi were spices. The recipe from Vegan Richa requires some chipotle chili powder (or a canned chipotle in adobo) and some smoked paprika. I had those in my cupboard, along with cumin. If you were Aldi restricted, though, they do carry regular paprika, regular chili powder, and cumin in their spice section. The only spice you won't likely find there in any way is coriander seed, and you could sub fresh cilantro or just leave it out. I used yellow onion because that's what I bought but they do carry red.
My point here? Aldi has some great buys, and some of it is organic (the lettuce mix, salsa, and tomato paste here are all organic). So, if you have an Aldi near you, why not give it a try? There are lots of good items once you get past the initial chips and candy section when you walk in the door.
Work has been busy the last couple of months, so I've not been doing a lot of experimentation that I could share with you. I did get my hands on a used copy of Andrea Chesman's 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains, and one of the pictures you see above (the third one of minestrone soup with greens) is inspired by a recipe in the book. I added a can of tomatoes to the soup (who does minestrone without tomatoes?), but otherwise was pretty faithful to the recipe.
The other dishes up there include my spin on an old Reynolds Wrap recipe for "Cuban Spiced Pork Chops". I used to make that years ago, and I've since veganized it. I cooked the black beans in the pressure cooker with a good bit of cumin, garlic, and smoked paprika and chipotle powder. I then made the seitan "chops" in the slow cooker and cooked them in the drained bean broth. Once those were done, I threw the beans, a cup of orange juice, some chopped onion, and cut up sweet potatoes in and pressure cooked it all together for about 15 minutes (I could have gone less, the sweet potatoes were pretty soft).
The picture on the end is my take on Seitan PIccata with a side of chard with quinoa. You can probably spot the preserved lemon bits on top, as well. The chard recipe is from Vegetarian Times, and you can find seitan piccata recipes all over the Internet. Once you learn the method to the sauce, you can piccata just about anything.
None of those recipes, though, are friendly to the gluten intolerant. So, I leave you with a gluten-free beauty, my most recent Paella. I used short grain brown rice here, as I was out of arborio and I won't get my Vitacost paella rice (which I'll blog about here later) until today. This weekend, I declared that all I wanted to do was drink Spanish wine and eat paella. We wound up drinking a bottle from Portugal, but it was so good I didn't care. We also got a lot done around the house, including a porch makeover.
The trick to using the short-grain brown rice, it turns out, is to parboil it first. I have Susan Voisin over at FatFree Vegan Kitchen to thank for that tip. I swapped out asparagus for green beans here, and there are artichoke hearts and red bell pepper in there to boot. I wound up with leftover saffron broth (I infused all four cups at once), which is going in the freezer for a later round, but like piccata, paella is really more about method than it is about what goes in (well, other than rice and saffron--those are must haves). And, get a paella pan. You'll be glad you did.
First, the unadorned version:
I have a fondness for cake. Gingerbread has always been one of my favorites, as is carrot cake. There's just something about the sweet and spicy all in one bite that I find hard to resist.
Back over the holidays, I spotted a bottle of molasses at Aldi, and ever since I bought it I've been wanting to make my favorite gingerbread, which is based on an old Cooking Light recipe. I don't often have eggs around, and since both siblings are no longer eating gluten, I wound up veganizing these and making them gluten free (no one will ever know if you don't tell them). A couple of notes--I like these as muffins because they are portioned out and easy to grab. And, really, who doesn't love the extra crust? These are just fine, too, without powdered sugar on top or you could go wild and frost them as you wish. Also, I didn't bother with the cloves and threw in a dash of Vietnamese Cinnamon, but that's just me.
Makes 8 robust muffins
1/4 c. hot water
1 T. (heaping) of flax meal
1/4 cup coconut oil (or you can use whatever oil or shortening you like)
1/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup plant milk (I used vanilla soy)
1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour mix
1 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon of cloves
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Powdered sugar (optional)
My cooking has been a bit different of late because of a few factors, including travel and lots of holiday visits (Thanksgiving at my mom's house, Christmas at D's dad's house). Another change here has been that I finally decided that though it seems like a luxury I would try out KC Organics Door-to-Door. So, a lot of the cooking I've been doing has been dictated by what I get in the box. If you live in KC, Chicago, Colorado, Michigan, or Milwaukee, you might give this service a try. Here's why:
So, what seemed like a luxury at first has turned out to be pretty cost effective, really. I have yet to price things out, but I don't think I could buy non-organic and get the variety I get in a box and spend less. Check out the site and you'll see some samples of what the different boxes contain.
As a result, I've been letting the box dictate what I cook in a way. That led to Sicilian Chard over Quinoa and Spinach Potato Tacos this week. Both of these recipes are keepers. I will admit that I made a few adjustments in the chard recipe--I used a bunch of chard and a bunch of Lacinato kale because that's what was in my fridge. The kale also helped cut the earthy taste of the chard (which I like, but it can be overwhelming). I would think kale alone would be fine if you don't like chard. Also, dark raisins were what I have and I used walnuts for the pine nuts. Because my preserved lemons were done and this dish is very tagine-like (olives, dried fruit, quinoa is very couscous like), I decided to chop one up and use it. Incredibly tasty!
The Spinach-Potato Tacos are from the folks at Forks Over Knives and they are quite tasty. I didn't have any cilantro, but I did have a jar of green salsa that went well with these. I also can recommend the FoK app for your phone. It's great if you are in the store and need to figure out what to cook for dinner so you can grab the ingredients. They add new recipes every week, too, so if you balk at the $4.99 price tag just know the app will grow over time.
A guest post today from my sister Debbie, who is working on cleaning gluten out of her diet. You can see her blog here. Enjoy! --Angel
Recently, my husband was told he might be a Celiac. Looking at the laundry list of symptoms, I came to realize I actually seem to have a lot more of the symptoms than he does. Adding to that, I am the one who cooks and largely shops for the kitchen. I would much rather just adapt to living gluten-free than have to fix food for each of us, and I have been tinkering around with some gluten-free ("GF") cooking--mainly trying to bake breads. I haven't had what I consider much success. The breads are dense and sometimes come out wet in the middle and well-done on the outside.
We donated unopened gluten-containing food items to the local Salvation Army food kitchen and distributed partially used items to friends and family who don't have any problems. It was a LOT of stuff. When you start thinking of cutting gluten from your diet, it becomes clear just how ubiquitous gluten is in our foodstuffs. Before this latest transition, we had been following a largely plant-based diet for the past two years. Getting rid of gluten cuts quite a range of vegetarian meat replacements out of one's diet. But not to fret, we will endure this as well.
Anway, I was commiserating with my spouse about the lost joys of pizza, french bread...you get the idea. I was searching the internet for recipes and came across one for Farinata Genovese on www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com. The recipe is an adaptation from one of Mark Bittman's recipes. Farinata is a Ligurian (province of Italy) flatbread made with chickpea flour. It's very simple as you basically mix a little chickpea flour with water, salt, and olive oil and let it rest for at least an hour and up to 12 hours. I'm thinking that since I loved the recipe letting it sit for an hour, I wonder what letting it sit for 12 will do for it. Ok, on with the cooking!
Farinata Genovese with Eggplant, Squash, and Peppers
1 cup Chickpea Flour
1-3/4 cup Water
3/4 teaspoon Sea Salt or 1/2 teaspoon Table Salt
1 teaspoon, ground Black Pepper
At least 5 tablespoons Olive oil, divided (I used my garlic-infused olive oil)
1/2 large Onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh Rosemary
1 eggplant, sliced
1 zucchini squash, sliced
1 yellow crookneck squash, sliced
3-5 small brightly colored sweet peppers, sliced
smoked mozzarella cheese (or cheese/vegan cheese of choice)
1. Mix the chickpea flour with the salt. While whisking, add 2 TBS of the oil and then slowly add the water. Once mixed, cover and let the mixture sit for at least 1 hour up to 12.
2. While the chickpea mixture is resting, prepare your mise en place. Wash and discard the ends of the eggplant. Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds. Lay the eggplant onto a platter and lightly salt the tops of each layer when building the platter. Treat the squash the same way as you did the eggplant but add some garlic powder as well as salt.
3. Heat about 1 TBS of the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet and spread it around. When the skillet is hot, add one layer of squash to the skillet and saute about 1 minute. Flip the squash and cook another minute. You are looking for a nice sear on each piece. Place the cooked squash on a clean platter. Proceed in this manner until all the squash is cooked. You may have to add 1 TBS of olive oil between each batch.
4. Cook the eggplant in the same manner as the squash until all the eggplant is cooked.
5. Preheat the oven to 400°F for at least 8 minutes.
6. Add about 3 TBS of olive oil to the skillet and saute the thinly sliced onion until brown and caramelized but not burnt, about 1-2 minutes. Spread the onions evenly over the bottom of the skillet.
7. Stir the chickpea mixture and add directly over the onions in the skillet and swirl to make sure it covers the entire bottom of the skillet.
8. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and the center is cooked.
10. Bring the skillet out and sprinkle the ground black pepper and rosemary over the baked farinata. Drizzle olive oil over the base. Layer the seared eggplant over the base. Layer the squash over the eggplant. Spread the cut peppers over the squash. Grate enough smoked mozzarella cheese to make a thin covering over all the vegetables.
11. Return to the oven and bake an additional 8 minutes at 400°.
12. Cut the finished farinata and serve in wedges while hot.
4-8 servings; serve with a crisp green salad with a lovely balsamic vinegarette. Buon appetito!
I've been making versions of this soup for several years, first with chicken as in Emeril's recipe, then with seitan, later with soy curls. The thing is I like this non-meat (of the animal or vegan kind) the best! If you don't have a variety of lentils, just use the plain ones you find in any grocery store (brown). As you can see from the picture above, my latest batch used green, brown, and red. The red lentils fall apart, thickening the soup as it cooks. The brown get soft, and the green French lentils hold their shape and are firmer I did this in the pressure cooker set for an hour of cook time. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you'll need to pre-soak or hot-soak the chickpeas before proceeding.
6 ounces dried chickpeas, rinsed and sorted (soaked overnight or by hot-soak if you're using traditional stove top cooking method)
6 ounces of lentils (I used 2 ounces red, 2 ounces brown, 2 ounces French green), rinsed and sorted
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 14 ounce cans of diced tomatoes (if you have an Aldi, this is the time of year where fire-roasted are on the shelf, but plain will do)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 quarts vegetable stock
1/2 cup brown rice (mixes of brown and wild are nice, as is red cargo rice)
Juice of a lime
Lime wedges and cilantro or parsley and hot sauce for serving
*Stovetop: If you are cooking this on the stove, do not put the rice in at this point. Cook on the stove, covered, for an hour and check the doneness of the chickpeas. When they are tender, stir in the rice and cook, covered for an additional 40 minutes or until the rice is tender. Add lime juice and serve as above.
My apologies to those of you who are gluten sensitive. This would work with tempeh, and of course, it will also work with chicken if you're a meat eater. Back in the day, I used to make this with thinly sliced chicken breast. If I was in a mood for fish, tilapia was good prepared this way. As with many saucy dishes, this one isn't really a looker, but it does make up for it in terms of flavor.
This isn't so much a recipe as a technique. Pan sauces like this one are great for weeknight dinners as they pack a punch of flavor in a short amount of time. Here's the process for the meal you see above. I served the piccata on top of mashed potatoes (made with a bit of olive oil and fresh cashew milk) and sautéed broccoli with garlic and crushed red pepper. I assume if you're adventurous enough to try the pan sauce, you probably are handy enough in the kitchen to make the mash and the broccoli on your own :)
1 batch of seitan prepared in the oven (I made a double batch yesterday and froze one of the blocks of seitan for a different meal), reserve the broth
1/2 cup flour of your choice, seasoned with seasoning salt or salt and pepper (I use Seasonello, but Serendipity or Cavender's would be great)
1 cup white wine (I often use dry vermouth; last night I used leftover Two Buck Chuck Chardonnay)
1/4 cup of capers (it's fine if there is a bit of brine in there
1/2 cup of sliced shallot or diced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon of cornstarch + 1 Tablespoon water
I hope you enjoy! If you're a bit hesitant to try seitan you might want to read this old tutorial I did about using this recipe in the slow cooker and then using in a vegan take on chicken fried steak.
My mouth is still sensitive. Just as I was pretty much healed up (at least in a practical way related to eating) from having 1/3 of my teeth forcibly removed from my mouth, I got my bottom wires and elastics on top to move my fangs back.
1. That tiny rubber bands could hurt so much and cause soreness on all the teeth?
2. That people buy elastics on Amazon to set dreadlocks and dog top knots?
3. Apparently that people also buy the 6mm bands to correct gaps in their front teeth on their own.
As you can see, like everything else in my life, I read Amazon reviews about elastics.
But I digress.
The reason I've been largely absent from this blog is because I don't really know that posts about smoothies, puddings, and apple sauce are really something the world needs. But, as I get used to the new sensations and get adjusted to eating, I'm starting to cook again. Thankfully, we're entering cooler weather which means that seasonally softer food is called for anyway.
The following recipe can be used as a filling for a pot pie, for phyllo triangles (which is what mine was used for), over egg noodles, in shepherd's pie (great for GF peeps), topping for a baked potato, topping for polenta, or just eaten with a spoon. You could easily thin it out and add some sort of something (pasta, rice, barley) and make a soup out of it if that's your thing. SOS would work in a pinch too. I do love some SOS.
Angel's pot pie and everything else filling
1/2 cup French green lentils
2 1/4 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic (or whatever level you like)
4 cups sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)
1/2 cup of frozen or fresh green peas
2 cups vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon or so of Marmite (optional)
1 Tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water
Rinse and sort the lentils and cook for 25 minutes or so in 2 1/4 cups water and a bay leaf. When lentils are tender, remove the bay leaf and set lentils to the side.
Saute the onions, carrots, and celery for about five minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the mushrooms have let go of their liquid and the pan has dried back out. Add the broth, marmite, reserved lentils, and peas. Simmer to reduce the liquid until it looks about right for a filling consistency. Add the slurry and cook for an additional minute or two until the sauce thickens and looks glossy.
That's it! The marmite is nice as a beef flavor substitute. Don't let the initial oddness of it freak you out--it's great in soups and stews! It is sticky like a thick molasses, so you might want to dissolve it in the broth before adding it to the pan to make sure you don't have a blob in the pan. I had just enough left in the jar, so I put hot water in and got to shaking.
If you want a "beefy" flavor but don't have marmite, consider subbing soy or tamari to taste or even a bit of good red wine or tomato paste (or a combination of wine and tomato paste). You just want something to add that beefy "umph" here.
We love coffee and tea around here. Recently we made two upgrades to our kitchen tools by installing a Filtrete under the counter filter system to replace the faucet mounted Pur filter (which sprayed all over the place after a year of use and whose diverter switch was stripped). I love that I don't have to look at the filter and that I should only have to replace the cartridge every six months. I cook with filtered water most of the time, so this is a huge help.
The other treat was a Rosewill 4 Liter Hot Water dispenser. We had an electric kettle that we used for coffee and tea, but this little darling is always at the ready and allows us to make one cup of coffee or tea at a time (which is important right now with Dr. D leaving the house around 3:30 or 4 am and soon to be on nights). With winter approaching, the Rosewill unit will make instant oatmeal and soups easy, as well as keeping busy writers' and doctors' cups full.
When we still ate a lot of chicken, I found two recipes that I adored in Food Network Kitchens: Making it Easy. One of them was this number, Philippine Chicken Adobo. You brown chicken pieces (thighs were my go to cut) and then simmer them in a sauce that is slightly sweet but has the tang of vinegar and the mellowed bite of tons of garlic.
So, I set out to adapt this recently to make it vegan, and I have to say it's a winner with tempeh.
Philippine Tempeh Adobo
Adapted from Food Network Kitchens: Making it Easy.
1 block of tempeh
15 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 bay leaves
2 cups of water
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
2 Tablespoons of soy sauce (or tamari to keep it GF)
1 Tablespoon of sugar (I'm sure honey or agave would be great)
3/4 t. black pepper
1/4 t. crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
1 Tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water
Preheat a skillet as you prepare your tempeh. I do not steam my tempeh, but if you prefer to do so, go for it. I don't find it bitter and skip this step. I cut the block into thirds. Each third is then cut diagonally into two triangles and I stand those triangles on end to slice through to make two thinner triangle shaped pieces. So, from one block of tempeh, I get 12 triangles. You can cut it however appeals to you--I just like the thickness and shape when cut this way. Brown the tempeh on both sides.
Once the tempeh is browned, scatter the garlic and bay leaves around it and pour in the water, vinegar, soy sauce, and the seasonings. Simmer for 20-25 minutes. I used that time to make a batch of mashed potatoes to serve this on (four yukon gold potatoes cut in chunks, bring to a low boil for about ten minutes, drain, mash with 1/2 cup non-dairy milk, salt, pepper, and olive oil or other fat of your choice).
If your pan is simmering really hard, you may find that you want to add some water to it, just so you have some sauce to thicken at the end. Pour in the cornstarch slurry at the end and the sauce will get glossy and have a bit more body.
This would be great with smashed sweet potatoes instead of regular, with rice, quinoa, or even plantains.
Angel lives in Camden, Arkansas where she writes stuff and sometimes sends it out to other people to read. She used to grade papers, but not anymore. Check out her main site to see what she's up to lately.