vegansaurus!

05/08/2012

Recipe: Creamed Spinach!   »

I think that decadent, holiday fare is my forte. Living in San Francisco is great—with the weather being so mild, I can make it and eat it year round. Potluck to go to? Well, I know even in July the nights will be as cold as Chicago in the fall, so heavy vegan food it is!

For Easter at my family’s house, I made creamed spinach! My grandma loved it and I was pretty stoked with it as well. The rest of my fam—well, the whole eating vegan food thing is still a struggle, but they always make sure I have Vegenaise in the house! Gotta appreciate the support where I get it. Oh, and you can always lighten this recipe up by adding less cashew cream!

Ingredients:

For the cream:
1 1/2 cup cashew cream (I’m sure you can use the same amount unsweetened soy creamer instead)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

For the creamed spinach:
Aforementioned cream
2 TBS oil
1 chopped onion, any variety (I myself used red)
1 pound of fresh spinach
4 cloves of chopped or minced garlic
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
A dash of cayenne pepper (it won’t add heat, only a depth of flavor)
A dash of nutmeg

Directions:

Make your cream first! All you have to do is blend the cream ingredients together and you’re done. I made mine the night before putting this recipe together, because holidays can be a very stressful time in the kitchen, and I like as much prep work done beforehand as possible. Now, heat up a pan with the oil—you will know it’s ready when you flick water on it and it sizzles. Add your onion, and turn heat to medium. Cook until translucent or caramelized. Add garlic, making sure not to burn or brown it. Only cook until fragrant, about three minutes. Pour in the wine, as a means to deglaze your pan. Vegetable stock would work fine too, or you can leave out this step altogether. Now, it’s time for the spinach. I tore mine up, by hand, but you can chop it or leave it whole—totally up to you! Spinach doesn’t take very long to cook, also only a few minutes. So, put spinach in your pan, along with the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Once it’s cooked to your liking, add the cashew cream and cook until heated through and through!



04/26/2012

Recipe: Vodka cream sauce!   »

This recipe is inspired from watching Jersey Shore. I like what I like and I’m not going to apologize. If Snooki can make vodka cream sauce, from scratch, for her roommates without burning down the house, I imagined that I could very well make a vegan version! And you know what? I was right! We all benefit from my choice in television programs.

I have a version of this same recipe completely from scratch here. However, it has come to my recent attention, and real-life situation, that not everyone has time to make a three-hour sauce. So I give you, vegan vodka cream sauce for the busy, working, and socially active person on the go!

Ingredients
1 jar of marinara sauce (the plainer the better—no mushroom or red bell pepper varieties for this dish) OR 2 cans of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup vodka
1 cup unsweetened soy creamer (or 1 cup cashew cream!)
2 Tbsp. oil (I used olive)
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced*
1/4 cup red wine (optional)

Instructions
Now, you can actually skip sauteing the onions and garlic, but I wanted to feel like I did some cooking for this dish. Heat up oil, in a pan on medium high heat and when hot, add chopped onion. Bring down heat to medium, cook  onion to your liking — until translucent or caramelized. Add garlic, and cook until fragrant, which is only a few minutes. Be careful not to let the garlic brown.

At this point I add wine, which is not completely necessary, but I think of my vodka sauce as the jungle juice of marinara! I like the added flavor wine brings, and it deglazes the pan. Cook it off for another couple of minutes, to burn the alcohol out and to absorb into the onions and garlic.

Now add your jar of marinara or diced tomatoes to the onions and garlic, and then the vodka! Let it come to a light boil, turning up the heat if you must. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes, then add your cream. Stir it in, let it heat up in the sauce, and remove from heat.

This sauce must be smooth! Pulverize this baby in a food processor, blender, or Vita-Mix.

That’s it! I don’t need to tell you how to cook pasta, right? I like penne the best, so that is my pasta of choice when I make this sauce. I often like to used gluten-free pasta, which makes for an entirely gluten-free entree! 

*I used 8 cloves of garlic. Maybe more. Obviously, I am terrified of vampires coming for me in the middle of the night.

04/25/2012

How to, yo: Caramelized onions!  »

In my recipes, I talk about caramelizing onions a lot! I always do it, because I like the depth of flavor it adds to food. I remember when I first started hanging out in the kitchen,* learning how to cook, I was like, “Hey, what’s the difference between caramelizing onions and burning them?” No one could give me an answer I liked. I think it’s the difference between browning them to release the sugars and blackening them because the heat was too high. Does that work for you?

I’m also a visual person, so we’ll do this step by step. Pictures included!

Ingredients
2 Tbsp. oil (I’m using olive, but vegetable is more than fine!)
2 red onions

Instructions
For most recipes, you will probably only need one onion, but for the sake of this demonstration, I’ll be using two. Let’s say, one tablespoon of oil to one onion? I think that sounds good. Caramelizing onions can take up to an hour, so plan accordingly!

Another great thing about caramelizing onions is that you can keep them in the fridge to use later, though I’d say store them no more than five days. Then, when you want to use them for a recipe, heat and go.

Let’s get this onion party started! Heat oil on medium high heat. You will know it’s ready when you flick some cold water into the pan and it sizzles. Add your chopped onion and turn heat down to medium.


Chopped onions.


Chopped red onions in heated olive oil. Let the caramelizing begin!

Now is the part where you don’t have to do much, but stay close to your onions so you can keep an eye on them. You don’t have to constantly turn them with a spatula, maybe about every 7 to 10 minutes.

My onions took about 50 minutes to caramelize. I turned the heat down low; not only was I in the middle of watching Big Love, but my porcelain pan gets very hot in the middle and I didn’t want my onions to burn. I scooted them to the sides, where less heat was concentrated.


Scoot action.


The finished product.

The point at which your onions are done is kind of up to you. I stop cooking mine when they are nicely brown, through and through. You will reach this point anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes. Taste them during your cooking process to see if they’ve achieved a level of caramelization to your liking!

Another little thing I did, which is totally optional, was deglaze my pan with white wine. When I felt my onions were done, I added a healthy splash of wine into the pan, and let it cook into the onions for a minute or two before turning the heat off. This lifts all the caramelized bits off of your pan and back into the onions. Yum! If wine isn’t your thing, you can do this with vegetable stock.

I want to give a shout-out to Chef Fox at Source, because he has given me tons of tips on how to caramelize onions. Thanks, boss!

*Did you know I’ve worked at The Chicago Diner, Cafe Gratitude, and now Source? Well, now you do!

04/19/2012

How to, yo: Cashew Cream!   »

In my recipes, I use cashew cream a lot! It’s soy and gluten-free, which I think is important when cooking and eating on a vegan diet. Gluten and soy are in EVERYTHING! I need a break. Plus, some of my friends have allergies—nobody gets left out when I’m cooking.

Here is my basic cashew cream recipe. We’ll come back to this one a lot in the future, when I post my recipes for green bean casserole, vodka cream sauce, ranch dressing, and Hawaiian macaroni salad! Those are intense, but if you got the cashew cream down, you’re golden!

First of all, let’s talk about the cashews:

  1. You want to use dry, unsalted, raw cashews. I usually buy mine from Trader Joe’s, but they are available at Safeway, Whole Foods, and most health food grocers.
  2. The cashews need to be soaked! 1/3 heaping cup dry cashews, when soaked, equals 1/2 cup of soaked cashews.
  3. How you get to the ‘soaked’ part is up to you! If you have the time, or are making a raw recipe, soak them in water for at least six hours at room temperature. Any longer and you will want to refrigerate them. Make sure the water covers them, plus extra for what the cashews absorb. However, if you don’t have the time, boil them on medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until soft.
  4. Always dump the water they were soaked or boiled in and then rinse the cashews off!

Now, to make the cream!

Ingredients
1/2 cup soaked cashews
3/4 cup water

Instructions
Blend!* This will equal about 1 cup cashew cream! If you add a little salt and vanilla extract, it makes a delicious coffee creamer.

*I use a Vita-Mix, which is one of the greatest kitchen tools ever invented. Of course, a blender or food processor will work too, but you may need to strain any chunks.


Homemade BBQ seitan wings and a dollop of cashew-based ranch dressing!

04/12/2012

Recipe: Sauteed green beans with mushrooms!  »


The springtime holidays are upon us! Did you be make anything special? I made  this green bean recipe, slightly modified from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s in Vegan with a Vengeance. This side dish is a huge hit with my family, which is a huge ego boost for me! It’s very exciting to make them dishes that they ask for, because it doesn’t happen often! (Let’s just say no one else in the Bradley clan is a huge tofu, tempeh or seitan fan.) I love this recipe because it’s relatively easy and extremely tasty.

Ingredients
2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1 medium onion (I use red), roughly chopped
4 to 8 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped*
2 lbs. fresh green beans, washed with stems cut off
3/4 to 1 lb. of cremini mushrooms, chopped or sliced
1/4 cup coconut aminos, soy sauce, or Braggs
1/2 cup sherry
1 1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. pepper
1/2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

Instructions
Heat up your oil on medium high, in a pan or pot large enough to hold all of these ingredients! If it has a lid, that would be preferable, but I have been known to stick a baking sheet over my pots as a lid. No judgment here!

Once the oil is heated, add your chopped onion. You should cook them until they’re translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes, but I like to caramelize my onions, which can take up to a half hour or more! Whatever you’ve got time for, right? If they start to cook so fast they burn, turn down your heat.

Once your onions are cooked to your liking, add your garlic and saute about three minutes, or until fragrant. If you haven’t already, turn down your heat to medium and don’t let the garlic brown, as it will become bitter! Add your mushrooms and saute for about 10 to 15 minutes, until they’ve noticeably shrunk in size. Next put in your salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings; let them cook into the mushrooms and garlic for a couple minutes.

Time to add the sherry, soy sauce, and water! Let everything come to a light boil (you may need to increase the heat), then place your green beans into the pot or pan. 

Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer until beans are fork-tender!


Done!

*I use a lot of garlic in my dishes, no joke. Whatever a recipe calls for, I usually double or quadruple the amount. I’ve given you a healthy spectrum in this recipe, so you can use at your discretion. Of course I use eight cloves (or more), but the average cook would probably use four.

03/30/2012

How to, yo: Steam tempeh!  »

I like tempeh all right. The first time I ever had it, my friend Krystle made TLTs—tempeh, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches with Veganaise. I wasn’t vegan yet, but after eating her sandwich, I decided it was time to seriously try. I have often told Krystle her TLT was what finally made it me go vegan. It was a gateway sandwich!

When I have tackled the TLT on my own, I noticed that the tempeh soaks up so much of the oil and soy sauce I sauté it in to make bacon. I decided one night, last year, to try steaming my tempeh first. I had skimmed many a recipe that suggested steaming, and it was time to try it.

Turns out it’s easy to do. Seriously, once I started steaming my tempeh first, I began enjoying it so much more. I’ve heard steaming takes some of the bitterness out, but I’ve never noticed a bitter bite to begin with. Plus, when steamed, it soaks up less oil when preparing it afterward.

Yes, steaming does add one extra step, but I’m doing it as I write this post! You can steam anything (vegetables, fermented soy), and do other stuff at the same time! Multitasking!

Ingredients
Tempeh
A steam basket
A pot with a lid
Water

Instructions
Cut up your tempeh into sizes that are desirable for you. Place your steam basket into your pot, and fill pot with water just until it reaches the bottom of the steam basket. Bring water to a boil, place tempeh in steam basket.

To boil the water, I set the stove burner to high, but once the tempeh is in the pot, with the lid on, I turn down the temperature to medium high/medium. Then I let it do its thing for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Lift the cover; your tempeh should be tender and ready for however you like to prepare it! 

Once you’ve steam your tempeh, you can then sautee it or bake it—whatever you usually do. I still like to make myself TLTs, with homemade mayo, of course! I am steaming tempeh today, because I am getting ready to write a battered tempeh taco recipe for you! With a gluten-free version included, of course.


My desire to play around with tempeh was brought on by a recent dinner at Millennium with my roommate, Crystal. We decided to share the Maple-Black Pepper Smoked Tempeh, as neither of us has been the biggest fans of tempeh. We were like, “If we are ever going to have tempeh at its most delectable, it’s going to be here.” We were not mistaken.

03/27/2012

Recipe: The Haight-Ashbury eggless tofu salad!   »

image
Back in the day, when I was an omnivore, I loved egg salad. Actually, I loved anything mixed with mass amounts of mayonnaise because I’m an American gross! So, of course as a vegan, I took it upon myself to come up with an eggless tofu salad! I know there are a million and a half variations upon which to make one’s tofu salad, which is why I’m calling mine ”The Haight-Ashbury” (upper Haighters, represent). I hope that you like it, and please, share your versions in the comments; I would love to know how you make yours! I know dill is quite popular in this kind of dish, but I’m not a big fan. (Except when it’s in here!)

Ingredients
1 batch homemade vegan mayo (or 3/4 - 1.5 cups of store-bought)
1 block of tofu (I used Wildwood super protein, 20 oz.)
1 Tbsp. mild vinegar (red wine, white wine or rice vinegar)
2 tsp. salt (I used black salt)
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. turmeric
3/4 - 1 tsp. cumin
2 dollops of yellow mustard
3 ribs of celery
2/3 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped green onion

Instructions
In the future I will use the extra-firm tofu, as opposed to extra protein, as I like a softer consistency in my salad.  Extra firm has to be drained, for which I use the best, most genius technology known as the Tofu Xpress (but I totally used to do the paper towel technique—you know, wrapping up tofu in paper towels and stacking cans of beans on top to drain the water out!)

Once the tofu is drained, I crumble it into very small pieces, till it’s practically a mush. Next, finely chop celery and red and green onions. Now add all the ingredients and mix!

You can eat immediately, but I like to let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, even  overnight. It’s one of those foods that tastes best after it marinates, like potato and pasta salads!
image


I may have a had a few libations when I “plated” this. However, I can report back from experience, that it makes a great late-night snack!

03/07/2012

How-to, yo: Make vegan mayonnaise!   »

Store-bought mayo is expensive! I mean, it probably won’t break the bank, but if I could give you a cheaper alternative, you’d be into it, right? Right! Let’s get started! Summer is coming, and we need mass amounts of vegan mayo for all of our potato salads!

Ingredients
1 10 oz. package silken tofu
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. rice or white wine vinegar
Juice of half a lemon

Take these ingredients and process until smooth in your pulverizing equipment of choice. I used a food processor, but a blender works too! That’s all there is to it—now you have mayo! Get to making your sandwiches, potato salad or tofu “eggless” salads!

This recipe yields about 1.5 cups mayo, and I usually end up doubling it. This should last about five days in the fridge.

Remember when Laura showcased all the upcoming Vegenaise flavors? You can make them at home! Add some pesto, garlic, chipotle sauce, bbq sauce, or horseradish to this basic recipe—your options are endless!

02/02/2012

How to, yo: Cook yourself some beets!   »

Beets! They are delicious and so good for you! I learned how to make them a few years ago in Chicago, when my then-roommate, Jeremy Cox (also a vegan! That’s why I picked him!) showed me how. He was also the one who introduced me to sauteing the beet greens! Beet greens? Let me tell you, back then, I was a 27-year-old who didn’t know kale was edible. What? I’ve come a long way since then!
Let’s get this started!
Making beets the way I do is a little bit of a process, but so worth it! You need to steam, then sauté. Elbow grease never hurt anyone, right? If you have a different approach, as always, post in the comments! Let’s trade tips!



1. Buy yourself a bunch of beets, greens included!
2. Wash and chop your beets. I like to leave the skin on, and then cut it off once the beets are steamed.
3. Steam your beets until fork tender. I NEVER use a microwave to cook food. (Just saying! I prefer you use the stove top method, but I’m not your mom!)
4. Now that your beets are soft, peel or cut the skins off. Wash the beet greens, stems and all. I cut the stems into 1 inch pieces and slightly tear chop the greens into smaller pieces. Like, the size of spinach leaves!
5. In a pan, heat up some oil. I use whatever is available—sometimes it’s vegetable and sometimes it’s olive. Put in your beets, stems and greens. Sauté on about medium/medium high heat until greens are cooked to your liking! When I made mine, I didn’t use any seasonings; I think beets are that flavorful! Plus, I think you’ll find that the stems and greens are a bit salty by nature. However, I bet some lemon juice or balsamic vinegar added to the sauté process would be delicious. Garlic powder? Probably!


Roughly chopped.


About to steam!

Serve. Knock the socks off everyone. My Dad loved this side dish. Man, it always feels great to impress my parents with my cooking prowess! (And to give my mom a night off in the kitchen when I’m home!)

When the beets exit your body the next day, don’t worry! You don’t have to go to the emergency room, I promise! It’s just that beets have a tendency to turn EVERYTHING red [Ed. note: Jenny! Gross!].


01/27/2012

How-to, yo: Roast asparagus!   »


"What’s on that asparagus?" my roommate Dan asked me.
"Why?! IS IT THE BEST ASPARAGUS YOU’VE EVER HAD IN YOUR LIFE??"
"Yes. It’s really fucking good.”

This conversation happened. It happened 30 seconds ago. You see, I’m trying muster up the energy to write about my trip The Detox Market, which is the cutest vegan specialty shop in San Francisco, but I am so very tired. You feel me, right? So I’m going to share my dinner instead and also teach you how to roast the best asparagus of Dan’s YOUR LIFE. (Think you have a better recipe? Share the love in the comments! I want to know!)

My other roommate Crystal was the one who introduced me to roasting asparagus. I had always steamed it before. BORING!

Here’s the lowdown:
1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Wash your asparagus (I used a little over a pound of it). Snap off the ends. I forgot to do this (so very tired tonight) and it’s important because the ends are so tough you won’t be able to chew threw them. I had to cut off all the ends after they were roasted! LAME!
3. Lightly coat a baking sheet with oil. I used vegetable, but olive oil would probably be ideal. Place asparagus on baking sheet and lightly drizzle with more oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (garlic salt or powder would be delicious as well!) and then squeeze the juice of one lemon over the stalks.
4. Place in oven and roast until fork tender!
5. Serve to all your roommates, the friend you invited over, and yourself. You will be the most loved person ever.

(Also pictured is my cheesy eggplant casserole! Changes I made to the original casserole recipe posted include using Daiya cheese instead of Italian-style cashew cheese or tofu ricotta, and substituting kale for spinach. Next time I think I’m going to use kale AND spinach! Leafy greens galore!)


It’s not hard for me to get people to come over to dinner at my pad! Plus I’m ALL my roommates’ favorite roommate. Just kidding! We all love each other equally!

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