Sunday, December 27, 2009

Swedish meatballs

Vegans, for some reason I woke up this morning with "Swedish meatballs" repeating in my head like an old song. I became vegetarian at 13 and I don't think I'd ever eaten Swedish meatballs before that, and frankly had but a vague conception of what they actually were. A short trip over to the Food Network brought this recipe up, and, inspired, I decided to adapt it.

If you go to the original recipe, you'll see that a number of the comments are complaining about the sauce or gravy having little flavour. The flavour depends entirely on the quality of the broth you use, so just take care to use a rich, excellent-tasting broth. Otherwise, the recipe wasn't difficult, and was actually pretty quick. I baked the balls rather than fried them because of the additional gluten flour, and the texture was great. In my opinion, my version looks just as good as (okay, better than ;-) the picture in the original recipe, and I can't imagine it wasn't even more tasty. What "chuck" is I don't know (and please don't tell me if you know). This is what I did:

Swedish "meatballs"
serves 3

2 tbsp Earth Balance
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp unsweetened soymilk
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 lb ground seitan (plain or at most mildly flavoured)
1/4 cup gluten flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
large pinch ground allspice
large pinch ground or freshly grated nutmeg
2 more tbsp unsweetened soy milk (approx.)

2 tbsp Earth Balance
2 tbsp cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups good tasting vegetable broth
2 tbsp Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
salt to taste (you may not need any)

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the Earth Balance over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat.

In the bowl of a food processor, place the onions and all of the ingredients up to nutmeg, and pulse briefly to blend. Add more unsweetened soy milk until the mixture is moist enough that it can easily be formed into balls.



Shape balls approximately 1 inch in diameter, and place in baking tray. Drizzle with canola oil and roll the balls around in it to coat. Bake the balls for approximately 1/2 hour or until firm and beginning to brown.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tbsp Earth Balance in the frying pan you used for the onions, and add the flour. Whisk until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the vegetable stock and whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Add the Better Than Cream Cheese and continue to cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency (not long; this sauce should not need to reduce), and taste for salt. Remove the meatballs from the oven, add to the gravy, stir around a bit to coat, and serve hot…

…with creamed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and Brussels sprouts. Oh, heavenly day!

Linguini al cardinale

This was based on two other recipes, Lolo's Cappellini in fresh tomato cream sauce from Vegan Yum Yum, and the Penne al cardinale from Anna Thomas's The Vegetarian Epicure Book 2. I'm sure the original recipes are both delicious as is, but what I wanted was a light tomato cream sauce (rather than a bechamel) with brandy in it (thanks, Anna!). If you can believe it, I bought brandy for this recipe. Was it worth it? Oh, yes. And thanks to Lolo's blender technique, the whole thing came together in the time it took to boil the pasta.

I usually prefer my tomato sauces quite plain, but of course, if you don't, feel free to add basil, marjoram, or whatever other herbs you like. This sauce would probably also work with tofu ricotta (or almond ricotta) in the place of the Better Than Cream Cheese if you can't get or don't buy the latter, though speaking from a very reluctant vegan-cheese-purchasing point of view, this product lives up to its name and is worth a try.

Linguini al cardinale
serves 2

2 cups canned diced tomatoes, with juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1 tbsp Earth Balance
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp brandy

Place all the sauce ingredients into a blender and blend until relatively smooth. Pour the sauce into a shallow saucepan and heat over medium heat to simmering. You want it hot with the flavours well incorporated, but this sauce should not have to reduce. Also (and I'm not sure why this is) this appears to be one of those sauces that, like a cashew sauce, will "crumble" a bit as it cools, so my advice would be literally to start making it after you've put the pasta water on to boil.

Mix the hot sauce with the hot, drained pasta, dust with pepper, and serve.

I had it with sautéed kale and crimini mushrooms:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Corn and white bean stew with a carrot juice base

I've been craving stew these days, and finding this recipe for smoked paprika corn dumplings yesterday inspired me to create a stew especially for them. Disappointingly, the dumplings weren't all that great, in my opinion—they took a full half hour to cook and then had a kind of dusty corn chip taste and texture that I didn't much like. For me, they would have been better in every way had the corn chips (and the corn) been replaced with whole wheat flour and maybe a little cornmeal. Then, also, you wouldn't have to make them in the food processor. Next time!

The stew, however, rocked. It was based on the corn and lima bean ragout from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. However, that ragout is not something you want to cook dumplings in, since it's a very quick fresh stew (with an awful lot of corn in it—4 cups to 1 1/2 cups lima beans and not really any other substantial ingredients) that gets to actually stew for just a few minutes, but there was a really neat idea in it, in the use of carrot juice as a stock. Ms. Madison writes that "Carrot juice gives this ragout a soft glow and delicate sweetness," and she is quite right.

Carrot juice is one of those drinks I craved for years without ever having an opportunity to taste it. Readers of this blog may be familiar with my longtime culinary carrot fetish, which began when I could only bang my baby spoon on the highchair tray and scream for what I wanted—but my mom got the message, and my babyhood was pretty much all carrots all the time. Although I now enjoy other food items as well, carrots still hold a warm orange place at the centre of my heart. But in my youth and early adulthood carrot juice was very expensive, when you could get it at all, and I was in my 40s before I got to try it at a farmers' market, $5.00 for about a cup and a half. But oh, what heaven! I don't have a juicer and don't want one because of the hassle of disposing of the pulp, not to mention appliance storage issues, so I didn't try it again until this recent commercial juice-and-smoothie craze brought the Bolthouse Farms brand of carrot juice into grocery stores at a pretty reasonable price. So yay for Bolthouse Farms! Now my fridge is never without a big bottle of it. Mostly I drink it plain, but I'd like to cook with it more, and this is one of the first things I've tried.


Corn and white bean stew with a carrot juice base
serves 4 generously

2 tbsp canola or sunflower oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1 bay leaf
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 potato, diced
2 cups peeled and diced acorn or butternut squash
3/4 cups carrot juice
2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups white beans (navy, cannellini, even garbanzo)
large handful of dehydrated carrots, crumbled or chopped, or 1/2 cup canned chopped diced tomatoes, with juice
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
1/4 cup cilantro
sambal olek (garlic chili sauce) to taste; I used about 3 tbsp for a fiery stew
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the onion in a medium-large stew pot, and, when hot, add the diced onion and bay leaf. Sauté until the onion turns translucent, then add the corn kernels and sauté three minutes more. Add the potato and squash and continue to cook until the vegetables are hot.

Add the carrot juice, stock, tomatoes, beans, and scallions, and bring the stew to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, covered, until all of the vegetables are tender, 30-40 minutes. If you're cooking dumplings right in the stew, drop them in around 10 minutes or so into the simmering process.

Now add cilantro, sambal olek, and salt and pepper to taste, and serve!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vegetable stew with a pastry crust


Here's some plain and pretty easy comfort food, especially easy and impressive if, as I did, you have a little extra pastry dough already made up. I found the recipe at Cooking in Color; it's been published by the blog's author, Nanette Blanchard, in her book 'Tis the Season: A Vegetarian Christmas Cookbook.

I made a very few changes, halving the recipe, adding Soy Curls and dried tomatoes, using pastry dough instead of puff pastry because it was what I had (Nanette also suggests a biscuit topping, which would have been good, and I'll suggest my own perennial favorite, dropped dumplings, if you'd prefer not to bake the stew. How about these smoked paprika corn dumplings? Ooh!).

What attracted me to this particular stew recipe was the vinegar/brown sugar/mustard/cinnamon seasoning palate, and the fact that you add the flour at the beginning and cook the vegetables right in the roux. Both worked out great. The seasonings were subtle, not overpowering, and complimented the vegetables nicely. This again is one of those recipes where it really helps to start with a delicious vegetable stock. It was especially nice on a day like this, the kind of day you spend with a good book, a cup of tea, and a couple of warm cats, watching the snow fall and fall. This is turning out to be a very pretty winter for us here in Edmonton, Canada.

Vegetable stew with a pastry crust
adapted from Nanette Blanchard's 'Tis the Season: A Vegetarian Christmas Cookbook
serves 2

1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp unbleached flour
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp prepared ballpark-style mustard
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry Soy Curls
small handful dehydrated tomatoes (not oil-packed), crumbled
large pinch ground cinnamon (don't omit this!)
1 carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 large potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
pastry dough to cover the baking dish

Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil for 5 minutes over medium heat until tender. Stir in the flour until completely mixed. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard. Stir in the broth, cinnamon, carrots, potatoes, Soy Curls, and dehydrated tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until thickened and the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Add the peas and corn and cook an additional 10 minutes. (The recipe can be made ahead at this point.)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly oil a 1-quart casserole dish. Spoon in the vegetable stew and let cool slightly. On a floured board, roll out the pastry to cover the top of your casserole dish, with a little overhang if you have enough pastry. Fit the rolled pastry over the top of the stew in the casserole dish. Bake the casserole, uncovered, until the pastry is golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bocconcini with mushroom soymilk reduction sauce


You will get to (sort of) see the Ligurian herb stuffing after all, albeit in a not too great photograph. I had some of the filling and some of the crepe batter left over from the other night, and was going to quietly make it into lunch, but then I found a recipe for a similar filling online to point to, and wanted to try a mushroom sauce based (very loosely) on this one. Stuffed crepes are a great company dish, but now that I've tried them both ways, in my opinion they're more impressive and less risky appearance-wise as baked crepes than bocconcini, whatever sauce you use. I would encourage the timid not to be afraid of crepes. They really are extremely easy (far easier than stuffing cooked pasta tubes), plus you can stand and cook them while you're preparing the rest of the meal.

In Nonna's Italian Kitchen, Bryanna Clark Grogan remarks that "Filled crepes that are cut into short lengths and baked are called bocconcini, which means 'little mouthfuls.'" No more details are given, so what I did is rolled the filling into the crepes, cut the filled crepes into 1-inch lengths, and arranged them, cut side up, in a small casserole, which I then smothered in mushroom sauce and baked for about 20 minutes.

Recipes for filling and for crepes are on Bryanna's website, so I'll direct you straight there and not reproduce them here. I made the crepes from Vegan Brunch, but they're pretty similar to Bryanna's (and the batter lasted two days in the fridge no problem).

The mushroom sauce intrigued me because there's no flour added to thicken it; it's a milk (or in my case soy milk) reduction. In the end I reduced it too much, so learn from my mistakes and watch it. The reduction should be fairly liquid if you're planning to pour and bake. The Alton Brown recipe was meant to be layered into a crepe cake and not re-cooked, so his version is thicker.

Mushroom soymilk reduction sauce
adapted from Alton Brown
makes about 1 cup
whole recipe serves 2

1/2 cup diced yellow onions
1 1/2 tbsp Earth Balance
5-6 mushrooms (I used cremini), half thinly sliced, half finely diced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup unsweetened soymilk
2 tbsp almonzano, nutritional yeast, or other shredded sharp vegan cheese or cheese sauce

4 small savory crepes (1/4 cup crepe batter to each)
1 cup spinach-ricotta filling
1 green onion, finely chopped

In a large sauté pan, melt the Earth Balance and sweat the onion. Add all the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms are soft. Add the soymilk and reduce by half. Add the almonzano.

Wrap one quarter of the filling into each crepe, and cut into one-inch (bite-sized lengths). Arrange cut side up in a small, oiled casserole. Pour the mushroom sauce over top and bake at 350F for approximately 20 minutes, until everything is hot and the sauce is bubbly and light golden on top. Serve hot.

Served here with sweet potato coins and braised broccoli rabe.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ribollita


The other day when I was making the filling for the manicotti I took to my parents', I used only the leaves of the gai lan and yui choy. Normally (in stir fries, for instance) I chop up the stems and use those too, but I wanted my filling to be soft and leafy, not chunky. If you're familiar with gai lan (and if you're not you should seek some out because it's one of the tastiest greens around), you'll know that the stems are very thick and substantial, so what I ended up doing was making a batch of vegetable broth of which these stems were a major component. That was a success. It's probably the best broth I've ever made, and that's what I used in this soup. You could make it with water instead of broth, but the broth really does add taste and depth.

The recipe is online here, but I've adapted it to two servings and made a few other small changes. I've left the cooking times per the recipe, but I found I only needed about half that time. The toast at the bottom of the bowl is a nice touch, though in my opinion dumplings would have been even better—though, of course, not as quick or easy, which the rest of this soup certainly is.

Ribollita (4-6 servings)
adapted from Vegan Planet
Serves 2

1/2 small head green cabbage, quartered and cored
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup diced celeriac or 1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, in small dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp tomato paste blended with 1/2 cup warm water (I used a small handful of reconstituted dried tomatoes instead)
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked white beans (borlotti, cannellini, garbanzo, etc.)
2 thick slices Italian bread or bread of your choice, toasted

Cut the cabbage into 1/2-inch-wide strips and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celeriac or celery, carrot, and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, potatoes, diluted tomato paste, stock, bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 45 minutes. Add the beans and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, then taste and adjust the seasonings.

To serve, place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl and ladle hot soup over the bread. Serve immediately.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weeknight comfort food + tofu ricotta

I have not abandoned this poor blog, and did eat real food for most of last week, but it's been wild here at the Airy Way outside the kitchen, leaving little time for culinary innovation, so I mainly stuck with tried and true (and revitalized leftovers). In the interest of posting something, and because these recipes really are worth repeating, here are some recent meals, which I think all took less than 20 minutes to put together but were bright spots in a week that didn't otherwise have many of them. Goodbye, bad week, hello Christmas holidays!

First up, the last of the pierogi (from the freezer), with fried onions and cabbage, topped with Gooda cheeze and shichimi togarashi (which goes great with pierogi, by the way).

Then the Rebar mushroom pecan burgers, re-made into a meatloaf, which was delicious though still crumbly, with okara gnocchi in tomato sauce and Brussels sprouts.

Then the Sichuan kung pao tofu from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Authentic Chinese Cuisine, with homemade tortillas and stir fried pea shoots.

Pea shoots taste lovely, like snow peas, only they're all leaves and stems. Unfortunately, the stems can be quite tough. I ended up with a big bag of them, and yesterday boiled it all up along with some gai lan and yui choy leaves, chopped everything fine, and made it into the filling for the Ligurian herb-stuffed pasta triangles from Bryanna's Nonna's Italian Kitchen. This recipe isn't online [On edit: this is close enough], but basically what it is is a mixture of cooked chopped greens, herbs (the recipe calls for basil or other herbs of choice—I used dill and tarragon), nutmeg, and tofu ricotta. Instead of making pasta triangles, I used it as a filling for rolled crepes, poured on a little tomato sauce, and took it to my parents' for a family supper. From the outside, it looked exactly like the manicotti of recent memory, though I left off the cheese topping. My brother Douglas pronounced it "the best vegan thing you've ever made." Thanks, Douglas! There were no leftovers! It was great and I'd recommend it.

The tofu ricotta was a pleasant surprise. It has that tofu taste until the cashews are thoroughly incorporated, and then it magically becomes a creamy, slightly sour product that, after it's been chilled, has the texture and pretty close to the taste of cream cheese. I didn't fuss with the coffee grinder or adding the extra tofu at the end, but just used the same food processor to do the initial processing on the cashews and added all the tofu at once and processed for probably about five minutes in total to get everything as smooth as could be. The recipe is online here but I reproduce it for you:

Bryanna's ricotta di soya (tofu ricotta)
makes 3 1/2 cups

[Bryanna writes] This mixture is very similar to the creamy full-fat ricotta used in Italy, which bears little resemblance to the watery, grainy ricotta available to most North Americans. It's so creamy that you can use it as a spread on bread, or a filling for crespelle (crepes), or even in desserts.

2 (12.3 oz) boxes extra-firm silken tofu, crumbled [I used fresh tofu, well-squeezed in a twist of sturdy clean dishtowel]
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp raw cashew pieces, ground very fine in a coffee/spice mill or mini-chopper
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

In a food processor, mix about 3 cups of the crumbled tofu, the ground cashews, the lemon juice and salt until they are VERY smooth. Then crumble in the remaining tofu and process again. The resulting mixture should be mostly smooth, but with a little graininess—it doesn't have to be like cream cheese.

Scoop the "ricotta" into a plastic container and refrigerate. It firms up when chilled.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fideos with Gooda cheeze

Welcome to my world. It is a world where air sparkles and adheres to the insides of windows and the branches of trees, where you can get frostbite on your thighs if you aren't wearing snow pants or a long coat over your jeans, where your glasses instantly frost over on coming inside, where it's so dry your cats give off sparks when you pat them, where I get arthritic-type pains in my finger joints (which I pray are not actually arthritis) so I have to be careful how I lift things. I pity any poor creature who has to be outside in weather like this.


Clearly, it is a day for soup. Hot, spicy soup, so I tend to think Mexican, although it probably never even snows in Mexico. The word fideos got stuck in my mind on the way home, though I'm still not sure exactly what it is. I think the main thing that separates this from any other tomato-noodle soup is that you fry the noodles for a while with the onions as you would rice in a pilaf. I looked at many recipes, and ended up winging it, so there is no doubt this is not authentic, but it was still hot and delicious:


Fideos
Serves 2

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Vermicelli or spaghettini or other long, thin pasta, diameter of one quarter, broken into pieces
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1-2 cups protein element (reconstituted yuba, cooked beans, seitan, Soy Curls, etc.)
Red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
chopped avocado, Gooda cheeze, lime slices, and/or chopped tomato for garnish

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, and, when hot, add the onion, and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and pasta, and continue to fry until the pasta is slightly browned. Add the vegetable stock, tomato sauce, and jalapeno pepper, and cook until the pasta is al dente. Add red pepper flakes, cilantro, salt and pepper, lime juice and zest, and continue to cook until heated through.

Top with the garnish(es) of your choice and serve immediately.

Yes, I am continuing my experiments with cashew cheese. This is the Gooda cheeze from Joanne Stepaniuk's The Uncheese Cookbook, but I subbed 2 tsp yellow miso for the nutritional yeast. The recipe is online here, but I reproduce it for you:

Gooda cheese
from The Uncheese Cookbook
yield: 3 cups

1 3/4 cups water
1/2 cup chopped carrots
5 tbsp agar flakes
1/2 cup raw cashew pieces
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (sub 2 tsp miso if you want a break from nooch)
3 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp onion granules
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Place the water and carrots in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the agar flakes.

Bring to a boil again. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile, put the remaining ingredients into a blender. Pour in the cooked carrots, water and agar and process until very smooth.

Pour immediately into a lightly oiled, 3-cup bowl or mold with a rounded bottom. Cool, cover, and chill several hours or overnight.

This is pretty much a non-melting (and thus relatively low fat) cheese, and despite the spices is quite mild. It's not as rich as the Real Food Daily cashew cheese I made earlier, but I still quite like it—it's something I would happily grate into an omelet or sandwich or even, as here, on soup.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rebar's mushroom pecan burgers + vegetable slaw

Temperatures in the -30C range, two-hour bus commutes, and pre-Christmas work stress make for a lot of thrown-together, freezer-based, comfort food-type meals. But I did get a chance to make one real meal recently, for Diane's second birthday party, which was at my house yesterday afternoon. The women in the family generally get together when one of us has a birthday, so present were: my mom, Diane, my aunt Barbara, Grandma Lulu, and me.

I wanted to make something fun that I could do mostly ahead of time because this is a lunch and I didn't want to be getting up at 4:00 a.m. to start the preparations, and I turned to the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook for inspiration.

I must have got my shopping lists confused, though, because despite extensive and uncharacteristic planning ahead, when I came to make the burgers, I realized that I had forgotten to buy fresh mushrooms. So I used reconstituted shiitakes instead of fresh buttons, and the result was actually really good—a much more intense mushroom flavour than would have been the case with buttons, which paired well with the bittersweet roasted pecans.

This I did on Wednesday. I tested out one of the burgers on that day (seen here with the steamed vegetable wraps with ponzu sauce from the opposite page of the Rebar cookbook), and it was great, earthy, sweet, subtly spicy, and it held together well.

Then I froze the buns and the rest of the shaped uncooked burgers until Saturday morning. Tragically, this did not work out as well as I had hoped, as the thawed-out burgers tended to break very easily apart. Perhaps I should have re-made them, but it was too late, so I baked them at 350F for about half an hour and they were still pretty crumbly. So the wise will profit by my mistakes and either make these burgers on the day they're to be cooked, or freeze the raw burger mix and form the patties from the thawed mix.

I found the recipe here, so with no further ado, here are:

Mushroom pecan burgers
from the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook
makes 10-12 burgers

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, diced
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp red chile flakes
6 cups sliced button mushrooms
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups grated carrot
1 cup pecans, roasted and finely ground
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and sauté onion. Turn up the heat and add the garlic, mushrooms, salt, thyme and chile flakes. Stir and sauté until the mushrooms have released their juices and the pan begins to dry out. Deglaze the pan with balsamic vinegar. Let the liquid evaporate, turn the mushrooms out into a large bowl and let cool.

2. Add the brown rice and grated carrot to the mushrooms. In a food processor, pulse the mixture in two or more batches until well combined but still coarse in texture. Return to the bowl and add all of the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and season to taste. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight. Shape into patties.

The Rebar cookbook says to sauté the patties until golden brown on both sides, but I find this doesn't get them cooked, so I experimented with a few different methods, and the most successful was to brush the patties with canola oil and bake them at 350F on a parchment paper covered pan for about 35 minutes, flipping once.

These burgers really are good, but as I was moaning about how they weren't holding together so well, my mother very kindly offered that hamburger patties often don't either, which made me reflect that it's been so long since I've tasted a meat-based burger that I can't remember the texture of them at all, except the fast food kind (Teen Burgers from A&W purchased from a drive-in and eaten on long car trips which were even more mushy than anything vegan I've made). So maybe I'll just stow the crazy unreal expectations of attaining some perfect burger texture and enjoy the fantastic taste of these burgers. The recipe made more than I knew we would eat, so I didn't cook them all, but pressed the rest of the mix into a little casserole for meatloaf, which maybe I'll try tonight.

I baked my own buns:

And served the burgers with fried onions, the horseradish mayonnaise recommended by the cookbook (1 part horseradish to 4 parts Veganaise: I have come to the conclusion that anything mixed with Veganaise will be ambrosial, and this really was no exception), condiments and toppings of various kinds, slow-roasted beets, and the Vegetable slaw with jalapeno-lime dressing from the Rebar cookbook (more Veganaise, how could it go wrong?). The flavour of the slaw dressing was, as usual with Rebar sauce and dressing recipes, divine, and the red cabbage turned the slaw a lovely pink, which beautifully complimented the antique Bridal Rose pattern china that belonged to Grandma Lulu's mother and is over a century old, and that I use on most special occasions when I am entertaining, since I only have four settings of my everyday dishes:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Macaroni with cauliflower, lima beans, and herbs


Sick of baked stuff and cashew cheese? Me too. Today I did some Christmas baking (more on this later, perhaps, the fruits of my labours being currently in the Great Freezer Outside), and at the end of it was craving something simple and comforting, but definitely not sweet, and turned to my old standby, pages 450 and 451 of Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. If I had to pick two pages of this really outstanding cookbook that (1) epitomized the book as a whole, and (2) I've got the most use and enjoyment out of over all the years I've cooked from it, these would be the pages. Here you'll find recipes for: Lumache with broccoli and capers; Orecchiette with broccoli rabe, Fusilli with cauliflower, olives, and herbs; and Spaghettini with cauliflower, butter, and pepper. But you can mix 'n' match, my friends.

Tonight, what I did was the following:

Macaroni with cauliflower, lima beans, and herbs
Serves 4

1/2 medium head cauliflower
4 scallions, including most of the greens, thinly sliced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 cup pitted and chopped Spanish green olives
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups dried macaroni (any small pasta would do)
1 1/2 cups cooked lima beans
almonzano
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, then peel and dice the stems. Salt the water, add the cauliflower, and boil until partially tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Scoop the cauliflower into a large bowl and add the scallions, herbs, olives, lima beans, and oil. Cover to keep warm. Cook the pasta in the salted boiling water, then drain, add it to the bowl and toss well. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Add the almonzano, toss again, and serve.

Simple, versatile, quick, and delicious!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Manicotti

I was going to do a test run today for Diane's second birthday party next Saturday (yes, she already had one but birthdays are a big deal in our family and your status is so determined by the number of parties you get), which I am hosting and for which I have ambitious plans, but then…I didn't. Will I just wing it? Maybe! Owing to recent distressing events at work, I had to prescribe myself some brain bleach so I headed out to the local library for some easy fiction instead—and to the grocery store for cat food (wet, pate-style) since I am apparently the slave of my own pets, don't even ask. Since we were in the middle of our first winter storm and I had to slog through a foot of snow most of the way, this was also a workout, which was cool with me since I had excess energy to burn. And did I mention that I really, really love my pets?

Then I returned, alive…what to make for supper…flipping through cookbooks I came upon the cannelloni recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Nonna's Italian Kitchen. You know I have some ground up seitan just waiting to be used. But then, on the opposite page to her recipe for cannelloni, in the little sidebar, Bryanna mentions that "Crepes have been made in Italy for centuries with many different types of flours…in southern Italy they are often referred to as manicotti…" Well, I don't have any cannelloni noodles on hand right now, but I was intrigued by the filling and can certainly make crepes. So I did. Good god, if you own this book, turn to page 104 and start cooking. If you don't, then you can do the following:

Manicotti
adapted from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Nonna's Italian Kitchen and Vegan Brunch
Serves 3 (I made just enough for one nice meal as you see in the accompanying photographs, but there is some of everything left over)

1 cup tomato sauce (I have a thing where I don't really like tomato sauce with a lot of powerful herbs, so what I do is heat up 3 tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan, add 2 cloves garlic, minced, and cook until the garlic is fragrant. Add 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, homemade or from a can, and salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, or longer if the sauce needs to cook down to reach optimum texture. Your preferences may differ, so feel free to add oregano, basil, or any other herb so the sauce tastes good to you.)

Filling:
1/2 lb fresh spinach (or, as it were, bok choy or any other greens you happen to have handy)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups ground seitan (any kind; I used the baked "chicken" type from the Real Food Daily Cookbook)
salt and pepper

1/2 of the crepe recipe from Vegan Brunch (alas, it doesn't seem to be posted anywhere else, so you'll have to buy the book, or else use Bryanna's recipe, which I am sure is totally delicious)
cashew cheese, grated

Make the crepe batter and put it in the refrigerator to cool.

Fry the greens in the water that clings to their leaves after washing until wilted. Drain, cool, squeeze dry, and finely chop.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft; then add the garlic and sauté a few minutes longer. Add the crumbled seitan and the chopped greens and salt and pepper and continue to cook for a few minutes until the mixture is fairly dry. Set aside to cool.

Now make the crepes, using 3 tbsp batter for each crepe and following the directions for whichever recipe you are using. As each crepe is finished, roll it up around about 3 tbsp filling and place it in a small casserole into which a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce have been spread.

You see here five crepes in a cute little casserole dish; as you'll see from the image at the start of this post, I didn't really have side dishes for this meal, so I had no problem eating all five, and there's quite a bit of the batter left over—woo hoo, Sunday brunch, I am so ready for you!

Pour a little more of the tomato sauce over top, and cook in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes. I added some cashew cheese at this point and broiled it for another 2 minutes. The crepes are soft and don't come out of the pan as individual items. Nevertheless, they can be tasted, and the taste is out of this world! This is a dish you can cook just for yourself, as I did tonight (it's that easy), or serve at a dinner party (it's that good, and good looking). The seitan filling seems to sort of melt into everything else, so I wouldn't even hesitate to serve this to omnis. Just make sure you start with good-tasting seitan.

This was a great little meal, and very tweakable according to your own tastes. Go forth, friends, and tweak!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Roast supper


This is a fairly elegant weeknight meal that took about 15 minutes to put together out of the fridge and freezer: healthy, delicious, colourful—what more can you ask for?

These are the last of the botanical balls, which, to be honest, don't freeze all that well because of their high water content, but they were good baked in a béchamel sauce and, when nearly done, sprinkled with cashew cheese and put under the broiler for a minute.

The rest of the meal is simply squash, new potatoes, mushrooms, and broccoli tossed with a little olive oil and lemon pepper and cooked in the same oven (add the mushrooms and the broccoli about halfway through the potato/squash cooking time).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Spanish omelet with cashew cheese

I had this big vegan cheese manifesto prepared for this post, but after all pictures speak louder than words, so I'll just give you the theme and get on with it: once you step away from irrational expectations, cashew cheese, in itself and not as an ersatz something else, can be excellent. For me, it took leaving out the nutritional yeast (the "cheesy-tasting" element) to make me start to really enjoy it, and now I'm pepped for more experimentation.

The cheese recipe I'm giving here was adapted from one from the Real Food Daily Cookbook (which I'm going to buy since everything I've tried from it so far has been so outstanding) as given on 101 Cookbooks, except that I halved it and left out the nutritional yeast—and see my remarks on agar below.

What's so good about it? The miso for one thing, which gives the cheese a sharp, cheddary flavour. I also liked the use of soy milk in place of water, which made it creamier. The cheese itself has a mild, creamy, slightly tart taste, and, because of the oil, will melt (into a saucy texture). Meltability is not a requirement in my world, but just so you know. I've made this cheese before with nutritional yeast and didn't like it half so well; while I have nothing against nutritional yeast, I seem to enjoy it best in a raw state, as part of almonzano or sprinkled on popcorn. Maybe it's just me, but nothing reeks of the health food store more than nutritional yeast in cheeses and sauces, not in a good way.

Some remarks on agar. If you click on the 101 Cookbooks link above, you'll see some header notes to the original recipe from the author of the Real Food Daily Cookbook on how many kinds of agar there are, how you have to weigh it, and if your cheese doesn't turn out well it's because of the agar, and so on. She's right about all the different types, but in my experience agar is pretty forgiving. The agar I've been using comes in threads, as in the picture above. These threads in dry form are very tough—you can't process them into powder or flakes with a regular food processor, for instance. The agar shown above weighed half an ounce (making it half what half the recipe required, if you follow me). It was all I had so it was all I used and the cheese turned out fine. I've used much less, and there wasn't a whole lot of difference. Agar in powder form as it is sold in health food stores is heart-stoppingly expensive, for no reason that I can see. Agar in the various forms in which it is sold in Asian markets is dead cheap, so I'd encourage you to shop around.

Agar is made of seaweed and has no taste at all. If you're not planning to make a block of cheese that you can slice or grate—that is, if what you want is a cheesy sauce—just skip it and make one of the many great cashew sauces around instead, such as Vegan Dad's or the transcendently brilliant Super quick tomato basil cream from VeganYumYum—you'll save yourself time and trouble and get a better end result. These sauces, incidentally, shouldn't be baked, as they solidify and crack in an unattractive manner—use a béchamel base if you're baking the sauce, not a cashew base. Maybe this one is better for baking than most, again because of the high oil content, but I wouldn't chance more than sprinkling on some breadcrumbs and giving them a quick zap under the broiler.

So here's what I did:

Cashew cheddar cheese
adapted from the Real Food Daily Cookbook
makes 2 1/4 cups

3/4 cup raw cashews
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp unsweetened plain soymilk
1/2 oz agar flakes
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tbsp yellow miso
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Using the pulse button, finely grind the cashews in a blender; don't allow the cashews to turn into a paste. Add the onion powder, salt, and garlic powder and pulse a few more times to blend in the spices.

Combine the soymilk, agar, and oil in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the agar is dissolved.

Pour in the soymilk mixture and blend for 2 minutes, or until very smooth and creamy, and then blend in the miso and lemon juice.

For grated or sliced cheese, transfer the cheese to a container, cover, and refrigerate about 4 hours, until very firm.
So what did I do with my cheese? I made a Spanish omelet. Actually, I made two, one last night for supper and one this morning for lunch with some of the leftover omelet mix (half the omelet recipe from Vegan Brunch, which is what I used, makes three regular-sized omelets).

Spanish omelet
adapted from The Vegan Epicure: Book One
makes 3 omelets

1/2 omelet recipe from Vegan Brunch

1/2 jalapeno pepper, diced
1/2 sweet bell pepper, any colour, diced
1/3 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb peeled or canned chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp sliced green olives
1 tbsp capers
1 bay leaf

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the onions, garlic, peppers, and bay leaf, frying on medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the other ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper; simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Pour 1/2 cup of omelet mix into a lightly oiled non-stick frying pan and cook on medium-low heat until the top of the omelet has nearly set. Spoon on some of the pepper sauce, and sprinkle grated cashew cheese over it.

Now you can either do as the original recipe advises, and place the open omelet under the broiler for a minute until the cheese begins to brown:

Or you can leave it in the non-stick pan, cover the pan, and cook for an additional 5-6 minutes, until the cheese is melted. This is today's omelet and, yes, they really were this yellow. You know how sometimes turmeric just sticks in the jar and then suddenly sprays out all over everything…

Both omelets tasted great. Back to substitutions, sometimes, as in the case of this omelet recipe, they're much better than the originals. Who would ever want an egg omelet again after tasting this one?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mushrooms and potatoes in wine sauce

Vegans, this is a dish for the ages. My intention tonight was to do a whole post on cashew cheese, but that will have to wait. This is so good you too will want to run, not walk, to the nearest Asian market to buy various interesting mushrooms that you can cook into this dish. It is perfection! The secret is a very light hand with the onions and garlic, which compliment the flavours of the mushrooms without overpowering them, so don't be tempted to add more than the recipe calls for.

Here's the recipe:

Mushrooms and potatoes in wine sauce
adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure: Book Two
Serves 2 as a main dish, 3-4 as a side dish

8 dried shiitake or other dried mushrooms, soaked in warm water just to cover for approximately a 1/2 hour (save the soaking water) and sliced
3 tbsp Earth Balance
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/4 lbs russet potatoes
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 lb mixed fresh mushrooms
dash dried dill weed
dash dried thyme
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup cooked lima, garbanzo, navy, or other white beans

Melt 2 tbsp Earth Balance in a large pot and sauté the chopped onions until softened. Add the garlic and the potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes. Pour in the white wine, add the salt, stir, and cover the pot.

Simmer on medium low heat for 10 minutes, then add the soaked mushrooms and the mushroom liquid, stir, and cover again. continue simmering, stirring occasionally, for another 20 minutes. The potatoes should be completely tender.

Meanwhile, wash and slice the fresh mushrooms (I used brown mushrooms, shimeji, and enoki). Melt the remaining 1 tbsp Earth Balance in a skillet, add the dill weed, thyme, chopped parsley, and sliced mushrooms, and sauté them, stirring constantly, until the mushrooms are tender. Set aside.

When the potatoes are cooked, add the sautéed, herbed mushrooms and the beans to the pot, and simmer, uncovered, for a few more minutes, stirring often. Add fresh-ground pepper to taste, and more salt if needed. The liquid should be reduced to a thick, gravylike sauce.

This is so much more fantastically, amazingly delicious than the ingredient list would lead you to suppose. I served it with some baby bok choy stir fried with garlic and sea salt, for a colour contrast. Oh, yum!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Beet and pineapple salad + focaccia

Diane's birthday party is tonight! My brother Douglas is hosting (so we can decorate his place while we're there) and making chili, Mom is bringing cabbage rolls (vegan and non-veg), and I'm on for focaccia and salad.

I have been, as you know, taking a stroll down memory lane with The Vegetarian Epicure: Book Two, and wandered across this recipe. Actually, what I'm going to post is not that recipe exactly, but only because I had just one big beet, which came to about half a cup after it had been cooked instead of the 3 1/2 cups the recipe calls for. My family aren't huge salad eaters, but bringing a cup of salad for five people is…well, it just isn't the thing, so I made some additions of my own and actually judging from taste tests along the way in my opinion I improved on it. The major improvements consisted of slow-frying the beets instead of boiling them, and using balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar (which I generally dislike).

The salad itself is kind of trippy though. I picked it mainly because I had this beet but also because it looked so strange. Beet and pineapple? Hard to imagine. Why pineapple? Well, as it happens, pineapple pieces are rather translucent, and take on the loveliest colour when mixed with the beets, becoming like adorable little magenta jewels. The sweetness of the pineapple (and the balsamic vinegar, if I may say so) compliments the earthy taste of the beets beautifully. This is a sweet-ish salad, in fact truly more of a condiment, but I think it will go well with the other items on the menu, particularly the cabbage rolls.

On edit: It did, and several people had second helpings!

Beet and pineapple salad
loosely adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure: Book Two
makes approximately 2 cups

1 very large or 2 regular beets (about 1/2 cup when cooked and diced)
1/3 cup chopped, drained pineapple (I used canned)
1/3 cup celery, finely diced
1 green onion or 1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup kidney beans, or black beans, cooked
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
sea salt, to taste

Peel the beets and cut them into 1/4 inch dice. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick pan and sauté the beets on medium heat until barely tender, approximately 20 minutes.

Combine the cooked beets with the pineapple chunks, celery, and green onion or shallot. Add the beans, the remaining olive oil, and the red wine vinegar, and add salt to taste.

Chill the salad for several hours, then stir it up again and take it out of the refrigerator at least half an hour before serving, so that it is cool but not ice-cold. Serve in small bowls or on lettuce leaves.

This salad, though kewl and quite delicious, will not make me the culinary star of the party, I can tell already. Vegans, if you haven't learned this already, very few salads ever will. But here is a recipe that will guarantee you a place at the giddy heights of popularity. Hosts will request it, or if you tentatively suggest to someone who's eaten it before, "Well, perhaps I could bring focaccia…" the reaction is sure to be an enthusiastic "Oh, yes! That would be wonderful!"

This is because the recipe I am about to disclose contains almost no nutrients—in fact, it is candy cleverly disguised as bread. I never make this for myself, but I tend to make it for all kinds of social events. "What's your secret?" the guests all ask, as they inhale big wedges of the stuff. The secret is sugar. Sugar and fat. Sugar and fat and refined starch. The magic fails if you use an atom of whole wheat flour, or something other than white sugar. The recipe comes from the booklet that accompanied my first bread machine, a West Bend Automatic, now retired. I've veganized it, but that's basically it.

Focaccia

1 cup + tbsp water
3 cups all purpose flour
3 1/2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp Earth Balance
2 tsp active dry yeast or 1 1/2 tsp fast rise yeast

Toppings (optional except where indicated):

olive oil (not optional)
sea salt, preferably rough-ground (also not optional)
dried oregano
cracked black pepper
chopped olives
caramelized onions
thinly-sliced tomatoes
almonzano
rosemary

I generally make this in the bread machine, and if you are doing the same, you'll be adding all the focaccia ingredients in the order your machine's handbook advises. Put it on Dough cycle, and when it's done turn the dough out onto a floured surface, pat into a rough circle, and, if you love yourself, let it rest 10 minutes so it will be easier to handle. If you're making it by hand, presumably you know what to do; this is like a soft pizza dough.

Once the dough has rested, either pat it out into a larger circle or roll it with a rolling pin (I'm a rolling pin girl) to the thickness you want. The thickness will approximately double during rising and cooking. Place the round on a pizza stone or cookie sheet (I'm lucky enough to have a gorgeous ceramic pizza stone that Diane and our mother made for me) sprinkled with cornmeal.

Now take your fingers and poke shallow depressions all over the dough to make little places that all the olive oil you're going to pour on can settle. Pour on olive oil to taste—either regular or extra-virgin, whatever you like—but use at least 3 tbsp, and spread it all around over the surface of the dough. Now add your other toppings. Keep it simple, if you take my advice. Usually I just use sea salt and a little oregano, though today I used caramelized onions and sea salt.

Now turn on your oven to 350F. Once it heats up, put the focaccia in; my oven takes about 10 minutes to heat up, and that much rising time is enough. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the bottom is done and the top is golden.

If you can get it warm and fragrant to the party, so much the better, but it should be eaten within a few hours of coming out of the oven. Enjoy!



Happy birthday, Diane!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tortilla a la paisana

This is a recipe adapted from Anna Thomas's The Vegetarian Epicure: Book Two. I bought this and The Vegetarian Epicure: Book One not too long after they were published, in the 1970s, and must say that in many ways they shaped my culinary tastes. Reading through them now, I can see they're dated and written by a young person. For instance, back then even vegetarians were absolutely paranoid about where they were going to get their protein, so these recipes are very, very high in cheese, eggs, cream, sour cream, butter, and every other kind of dairy product you can imagine, which seems extreme today, but honestly were just par for the course in the 1970s whether you were omni, vegetarian, or whatever—the word vegan was coined in 1944 but take my word for it, in 1972 and 1978 when these books were published, not a lot of people knew what it meant. These were the books I learned to cook from. Soufflés, rye bread, pumpkin corn bread, cream of carrot soup, béchamel sauce, spinach and cheese gnocchi, fried mozzarella, oh my god the memories! I would weigh 400 pounds and have a heart condition if I were still cooking like that today, but this, my friends, was good food.

The books contain sentences like "This two-hours-later course is especially recommended if grass is smoked socially at your house. If you have passed a joint around before dinner to sharpen gustatory perceptions, you most likely will pass another one after dinner, and everyone knows what that will do…" Well, it was another world.

My copies of both volumes are lovingly bound together with duct tape.

Imagine the thrill, so many years later, of hearing that Anna Thomas was coming out with a third volume, The New Vegetarian Epicure. I was so standing in line to buy it! But I guess the new part referred to the inclusion of recipes for roast turkey and chicken stock as a regular ingredient, WTF? I couldn't get over it. No matter how often I tried to give that book a chance, my fingers would automatically riffle with horrified fascination through to her husband's (?) extremely graphic roast turkey recipe ("Even the vegetarians want to try a slice of my roast turkey.") Uh, no. They don't. Or they're not, you know, vegetarians. Anna, if you are no longer a vegetarian, that's your choice, but calling your book The New Vegetarian Epicure was an epic error. If you'd just called it something neutral, like Lorna Sass did after she reverted, I'd have been able to deal. I own many omni cookbooks, but for heaven's sake, roast turkey? On a spit? In a recipe fully three pages long and set on specially coloured pages so you can't possibly miss it? You must really, really love your husband. Probably you have suffered enough already over this unwise decision, if even I, a normally pacificistic and gentle person, am thrown into such a violent excess of rage by it that Amazon.com wouldn't even publish my review, but I had to give the book to charity and you have lost my love and my money for all time in the future.

But your two first cookbooks remain classics in my world. I can't help it. Even though I'm vegan now and have to veganize nearly every recipe, I don't care. I still love them. I'm imprinted.

So, in the spirit of cooking for one, I give you the following:

Tortilla a la paisana
adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure: Book Two and Vegan Brunch
serves 1

Omelet ingredients (this is basically 1/3 of the divine and ever-versatile tofu omelet from Vegan Brunch)
1 small garlic clove
1/3 lb fresh or silken tofu
2 tsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp chickpea (besan) flour
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot

Throw all this into a blender and puree until smooth, adding a little water if you need to to make it blend. Set aside.

Tortilla ingredients
1/2 small potato, peeled and finely diced
1/4 medium-sized onion, finely diced
1/2 medium sized carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup green peas, fresh or frozen (I used edamame because that's all I had and it worked out very well)
1/4 cup sweet red pepper, finely diced
salt and pepper

In a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil, and, when hot, add the potato, onion, and carrot and stir fry for about 3 minutes. Add the peas and red pepper, and continue to cook until the potato is just tender, about 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.


Now stir up the omelet mixture one more time and pour it over the vegetables, shaking the pan gently to distribute the mixture evenly. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook the tortilla for about 10 minutes, or until the omelet is set.

Loosen the edges of the tortilla with a knife or spatula. Turn a large plate upside down and place it over the pan like a lid. Holding the plate in place, overturn the pan quickly, dropping the tortilla onto the plate. Slide the tortilla carefully back into the pan and brown the other side for a few minutes (I was careful, but my tortilla still stuck to the plate. Don't fret, it will still be great!).

The tortilla may be served at any temperature, from hot to very cool.

This was served with some shredded cabbage--purple, green, and Chinese--stir fried in Earth Balance with a little nutmeg, salt, and pepper; some mango salsa from Rebar; and Champinones a la plancha also from The Vegetarian Epicure: Book Two, which are essentially mushrooms sautéed in Earth Balance, garlic, and white wine and seasoned with parsley and salt and pepper (enokis were on special at the Asian market this week so I used those but any mushroom would have been just as good). I also topped it with some plain cashew cheese, which I am liking more and more the more I eat it. As you can see, it even melted a little!

What a great meal! Challenging, yet rewarding. Delicious, and I also got to vent about Anna Thomas in public, which I have been dying to do for years. A great day!