Saturday, March 30, 2013

Chinese Takeout that you make yourself, more soup, and a recipe for chickpea salad

Jason posting: 

A couple weeks ago I was really jonesing for something with a real "Chinese Takeout" feel to it - but have become irrationally afraid of the Chinese Takeout place in Kenmawr plaza.

At first I thought they were really friendly - then one night I ordered Vegetable Mei Fun and asked for no egg and all freaking hell broke loose.  I kid you not there was a woman literally screaming - in actual hysterics - in the background in an Asian language while the girl on the other end of the line explained, dead-pan, that there isn't egg in Vegetable Mei Fun.

Well, there is egg in it at like every other Asian takeout place I've ordered from - thus being trained to ask them not put it in.

So every time I would go in there after that I was convinced that they were looking at me with something close to hate.

So I actively avoid it now while being at least partially aware that all of this likely happened in my head and not in reality.

Anyway - like I was saying I wanted something with a Chinese Takeout feel to it without wondering if they were going to spit in my food because I asked for no egg in something.

Gina reads this blog called the V Word.  You should too - its really good.  The recipe that I found for Sweet and Sour Cauliflower (it ryhmes) was from that blog.

It's surprisingly easy to make, it just feels like you're chopping vegetables forever because you're really hungry because you worked overtime and then had to drive to the grocery store and then had to explain to the 16 year old cashier what that weird looking brown thing is (ginger) and that yes, you can actually eat that.

Then you get home and you're all, "Why dont I just order a no-cheese pizza?"  but then the part of you that isn't 17 years old says in this annoyingly adult voice that you suddenly realize is your own: "That would be a waste of money since you just bought all these freaking groceries.  Now clean your room."

In truth, her recipe - found here - only really calls for cauliflower and the ingredients to make the freaking amazing sweet and sour sauce.  I wanted more so I added green pepper and celery.

While making this I recommend listening to something radio Pop.  Anything will do.  This chinese takeout place I used to go to in Oakland always blasted radio pop and I now associate it with eating cheap asian food.

Anyway, the final product is delicious and easy and looks like this:

A few nights later I wanted soup and Gina was all "Yeah, that sounds good!" but was really thinking ("Why do you always want to make soup that you have to simmer for like an hour - and that's after all the freaking prep work when we're already really hungry?")  And because I can read minds I answered her back, telepathically, ("Because it's so goooooooooooooooooood!")  And the lightbulbs all exploded around us from the strength of my Carrie-esque telepathy.

That didnt really happen.

But this did:

It's from the book Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero.  She calls it Egyptian Lentil Soup.  The neat spin on it is that while the lentils are simmering with carrots in broth - you slice up 3 large red onions and saute these for about 15 minutes in olive oil with toasted sesame seeds and fennel seeds.  When that is done you add the wonderful sauteed onion mixture directly into the lentil soup.

Lastly, today we made what has become our own recipe for chickpea salad sandwiches.  I'll let you in on the secret:

First, put on LaGrecia and then CRANK IT.

What you'll need for the chickpea salad:
1 15 oz can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed if them being in an aluminum can freaks you out like me.)
1 medium onion (chopped into very small pieces)
2 stalks of celery (chopped into very small pieces)
1 medium carrot (grated into it)
1/4 cut of nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 heaping tablespoon of brown mustard (or deli mustard or really whatever you've got)
3 tablespoons of Veganaise

How you do this thing:
In a mixing bowl, dump in the drained can of chickpeas and use your hands to smash them to smithereens.  It's cathartic.  Make this a really positive, hippyish experience by picturing them as all of the world's negative energy and you're not just crushing them, you're coercing them into understanding, empathy, and total transcendence.

You don't have to be really anal - I mean, it's okay if some of the chickpeas dont get crushed.  Seriously, you can stop squishing them now.  Stop it!  COME ON! STOP!

Thank you.

Now dump in all the other ingredients and mix very very very well with an absurdly large fork.

Spread that noise on whatever bread you've got lying around (if its moldy, pick it off.... I'm joking, I was never that punk.)

It looks like this:

Gina made "fries" out of chickpea flower and some kind of magic.  They look like this:

I LOVED them but she thought they were too spicy.  I was like, "Nothing can be too spicy."  She was unimpressed with my resilience. 


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy Spring! (If you aren't in Pittsburgh where it's SNOWING)

Hello friends! Gina here. Thought I would give you a nice and hefty update on our food lives recently. We have a lot of ground to cover so let's get started.

I think it was last month when I decided we should start using tempeh more, it's so delicious and a nice change from tofu. The problem is, you can't really buy tempeh in bulk anywhere around here and it's expensive at our local Market District. So it will be a once in awhile treat. I did however make the most convincing version of bacon I have tasted yet! I used a recipe entitled "Tempeh Bacon" (surprising recipe name, right??) from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and it turned out awesome. I promptly made a vegan BLT and rejoiced. I think Jason was at band practice when I made this and when he came home I was giddy with excitement and then we both rejoiced and promptly ate all the tempeh bacon.

Every Christmas Day we spend the afternoon and evening with Jason's family at my sister-in-law's house. Her husband always makes Beef Wellington for dinner and he makes a delicious veggie version for us as well. When I saw the recipe for Portobello Wellington on Pinterest I was smitten immediately. The recipe is here. I had for some unknown reason decided to embark upon this recipe on a weekday after work. It is definitely a long process, I would save it for a weekend dinner or a holiday event. We did not sit down to eat dinner until about 8pm and had transformed into the grumpy versions of Gina and Jason that appear when we are starving. We made the entire recipe and it was absolutely amazing and by the time it was actually finished we really deserved it to be amazing or we probably would have broke all of our plates and ran into the streets screaming. 

The next one I want to show you is Chocolate Black Bean Brownies. I sadly did not get many pictures of these before they were devoured. We had a food day at work that I made them for and they got destroyed. Everyone loved them and they amazed me solely because you really cannot taste the black beans or peanut butter in these brownies. The way they come together they taste super fudgy and chocolatey and perfect, I was very pleased and cannot wait to make them again. I was actually going to make them tonight but Jason at some point ate the last can of black beans and it's cold and SNOWING(wtf spring?) out so I am not leaving my house. Here is my one picture of them, it's not a good picture and it makes the brownie look kind of gross when it was seriously like heaven. This recipe was from a blog called The "V" Word that I adore. I previously posted about Tofu Georgia which was another recipe from the same blog. Every recipe we have tried on there has been incredible. Jason made a really good sweet and sour dish from a recipe on there and I will let him tell you about it, but it was also super super good. 

Lastly, we come to my new favorite dinner (last two nights dinner anyways) which is pretty much just frittata again. I found a dinner fritatta recipe on The "V" Word and we made that last night. No pics though because my mama stopped by to see us and we got distracted and forgot to take one. I used this recipe for Spinach, Artichoke, and Mozzarella Fritatta and it tasted just like one of my favorite things, Spinach and Artichoke Dip. It didn't taste like you were eating dip though. It just was awesome. 
So tonight I used the same idea for my own fritatta and used up some stuff we had in the kitchen. I used one block of tofu and crumbled it up in a mixing bowl, I mixed in probably half a cup of nutritional yeast, two healthy squeezes of Dijon mustard, about a teaspoon each of garlic powder, turmeric, pepper and smoked paprika. On the stove I steamed mustard greens and assorted veggies. I used one small white onion and sliced it pretty carelessly regarding size. Once the veggies and greens were done I threw those along with the onion into the mixing bowl and got a little crazy. Mixed it all up with my hands because that's easiest and most thorough. I then added in a bunch of mozzarella Daiya which you can tweak to wherever your love of cheese falls on the cheese meter. In a pie pan I sprayed the bottom with canola oil cooking spray and then coated the entire bottom with panko bread crumbs. I then put my delicious mixture into the pie pan and pressed it down as much as I could. I sprinkled some bread crumbs and some more Daiya on top. I had preheated the oven to 400 and threw that sucker in for 30 minutes, let it cool for 10 and then grabbed a large dinner plate and flipped that baby upside down onto the plate.....and spilled stuff everywhere. It wasn't thaaaat bad, I just misjudged where the plate actually was so I lost a little bit of this glorious fritatta. It was so good, I wish I had made two of them because we devoured it almost entirely. 

Before I had any cats I had the best dog ever, I end this post with Rudy. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

I am the King of Breakfast - And other stories.

This is Jason, and I think after 31 years I have finally decided that Breakfast is likely my favorite meal.

Well, maybe sometimes dinner.

Or lunch if its, like, the Loving Hut Buffet.

But more often than in the past, Breakfast is my favorite meal (on the weekends when I'm not rushed.)


All distinctions aside, this weekend I went a little cray, starting on Saturday morning when I woke up with a plan.  My band was recording a little demo that day and I didn't have a ton of time, but I wanted to eat something that would keep  me going (that wasn't Morning Soup - my normal fall back).  I banked on Frittata and biscuits to keep me full (it worked until like 3pm, which is kind of a long time).

Frittata, like a lot of recipes, is very different depending on where you have it.  In my family, we eat it Easter morning, and it is a big bowl of eggs and sausage and things not formally held together in any kind of shape.  In Gina's family it is more like a quiche without the crust.

The version I made was more like Gina's fam's.

Italian in origin, Frittata is a term for cooking eggs on a skillet.  Actually, in reading about it on Wikipedia, Gina's family's way of making it is actually the way its supposed to be done.

Basically you mix a bunch of stuff up with eggs, cook it in a pan for a while, the invert the cooked mixture onto a plate and VOILA!  You have a Frittata that you can cut up and distribute to your hungry family.

In place of eggs I used tofu.  The recipe was from Vegan Brunch and believe me, it is not your grandmother's Frittata.  It was tofu kneaded until it was the consistency of ricotta, then I sauteed garlic and cups of finely chopped cauliflower until browned.  I added these to the tofu along with nutritional yeast, soy sauce and lemon juice, and a small carrot grated in, and 2 tablespoons of curry power and a little cumin - and then mixed it well.  The mixture was then pressed into a pie pan and baked for 20 minutes.

When I took it out, the top was slightly browned:

I let it cool for about 10 minutes.  In the meantime I made biscuits in the toaster oven.  You heard me.  The Toaster.  Oven.

Then I inverted the Frittata onto a plate, like so:

The final product looked like this - all in about 35 minutes tops:

While I ate it, I tried to imagine that this was what Led Zeppelin always ate before recording and then gave up.

That was Breakfast #1 of the weekend.

ROUND TWO (Breakfast born from bitterness)

 Round two - I woke up Sunday morning, sat in the living room watching it snow and thought with bitter envy at how a little over a year ago this would have been the perfect day to go to the Quiet Storm, or gather up a crew and head to Zenith.
I thought about our options.  Bob's Diner, Eat n' Park, Central Grill, First Watch.  They all amounted to the exact same meal in a different setting (at variably different prices):  Oatmeal, toast (if you beg them not to pre-butter it) and homefries.

And this Saturday, that just would do.  I broke out Vegan Brunch yet again thinking there had to be something in there that would save us from oatmeal.

Gina was still sleeping when I started to chop up the potatoes.  She awoke around the time the water was starting to boil.  I threw on the album Father, Son, Holy Ghost by Girls and cranked it.  It was Sunday, after all.

Around the time I was straining the boiled potatoes and beginning to mash them with a big fork, I had finished the Girls album and was blasting and singing along to Hi, Everything's Great by Limbeck.  This was the soundtrack while added to the mixing bowl nutritional yeast, lemon juice, breadcrumbs, and 16 ounces of thawed frozen mustard greens.  I pressed all this down into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan and covered the top with more breadcrumbs and some smoked paprika.  That sucker was then baked for 30 minutes.

This probably would have been enough for a meal but I was defiant.  I wanted freaking Quiet Storm soysauge and I was going to have it dammit.

I threw on Dinosaur Junior's Green Mind album while I set up the steamer.  Then I mashed up some cannellinni beans, mixed in vital wheat gluton, soy sauce, vegetable broth, fennel seeds, oregano and basil, salt and pepper, more nutritional yeast and mixed it up into a dough ball.  I divided the dough ball into four deliciously smelling parts and rolled them in tin foil, plopped them into the steamer and let them steam for 40 minutes.

I also heated up the left over Frittata from saturday.

This is the potato/mustard green thing when done:

And here's the whole freakin' plate

And Angels wept.

So while I was blogging this tonight, Gina was busy at work making what will become our lunch tomorrow (and probably dinner or more lunch the rest of the week)

She will have to tell you more about its story but here is a picture.  I cant wait for lunch tomorrow!  I know that it has broccoli in it, and quinoa, and cheddar daiya (because I bought the ingredients) but I dont know much else about it's preparation.  It smells awesome:

And Fin.