Monday, January 28, 2008

Chocolate And Lavender Cookies

Recently I was at the store looking for some thyme when I noticed the lavender. It was so pretty that I snatched it up. Then I realized I was going to have to figure out what the heck to do with it. I did a little searching through recipes for inspiration and came up with these flowery bites. These are 'healthy' cookies due to the small amount of fat used. If you wanted to make these 'unhealthy' you could up the fat, add some more sugar, and just decrease the amount of applesauce accordingly.

Chocolate and Lavender Cookies
Makes 24 small cookies

Mix the following:
2 Tbsp. margarine
1 Tbsp. agave nectar (or other sweetener)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup applesauce
2 Tbsp. lavender
1 egg sub. (I used flax--1T ground flax+3T water)
2 Tbsp. soy milk
1tsp. vanilla

Mix together in a separate bowl:
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 3/4 cup flour (I used spelt)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chunks (I chopped a dark chocolate bar)
3 Tbsp. chopped crystallized ginger

Earth Balance and Lavender

Mix wet and dry together. Drop onto oiled baking sheet by teaspoonfuls. Press down slightly with your fingers (they will pretty much hold whatever shape you give them). Bake at 350 F for...oh...a little while. You want them to set and brown on the bottom. Because of the low fat content they won't get very dark on the top, so be careful not to overcook them waiting for them to brown, or they will be dry.

We loved these. On the first bite I worried they were too flowery, but then the other flavors kicked in and it worked really well.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Chickpea Cutlets, and Chickpea Patties, and Chickpea...

Two new cookbooks recently showed up on my doorstep. Eat, Drink And Be Vegan, and Veganomicon. I haven't done much cooking from them yet, but have spent a lot of time with them just reading, and I really like them both.

The first thing I had to try was the Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon. I've read a hundred places online about how good they are, and wanted to see what all the hubbub was about. I've also never cooked with vital wheat gluten before, so I was curious. I opted to bake rather than fry. I really liked them, but wouldn't make them quite as thin again, because it was hard to find the right spot between done and burnt. I would also double the recipe, because it seems crazy to only make 4 cutlets. I would have gladly warmed these up for lunch the next day.

I made the 'Red Wine Roux', also from V-con, to go with. It was tasty, but I wasn't thrilled with the way it looked...sort of a grayish purple hue. If I make it again I would use a wine that doesn't have such a deep purple color. The sauce was also good on roasted carrots, turnips, and parsnips with a little olive oil, sea salt, and some parsley tossed in. For anyone averse to or inexperienced with turnips and parsnips, roasting is the way to go. Both, by themselves, are a bit too much of a good thing for me, so I like to mix them with other vegetables.

I had some chickpeas left from this recipe, so I decided to try them once again in patty form. First I sauteed some green pepper and shallot. Then I mashed the chickpeas (about a cup) and added a few tablespoons flax meal, some bread crumbs, thyme, chopped scallions, sea salt, garlic, a bit of spelt flour, and some oil. I mixed in the green pepper and shallot, and added just enough water to bind everything. I made small patties and cooked them in my nonstick skillet with just a little olive oil. I was unsure how these would turn out, but they were fine. I loved them.

We had them with the leftover Red Wine Roux, some quinoa (a delicious grain that just happens to be a complete protein) , and more roasted veggies. This time it was turnip, potato, carrot, onions and garlic with olive oil, sea salt and chives.

I have noticed that there is a recipe in Eat, Drink And Be Vegan for 'Chickpea Sensation Patties', so it looks like there are more chickpea patties in my future!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Magic Leftovers

The other night I threw together one of our favorite quickies-beans and rice. Brown rice cooked with tomatoes and spices, refried beans, lettuce, fresh tomato, and plenty of salsa, olives, and (tofu) sour cream. Simple stuff, but nourishing and delicious. I fixed quite a bit of both rice and beans, so we had a lot left over.

In one of my recent posts I mentioned that I love leftovers. The only time I don't like having leftovers is when the food wasn't any good to begin with. Otherwise, what's not to like about having tasty food cooked and ready to go? It's also easy to transform leftovers into something a little different.

I was pondering the possibility of making a casserole using the beans and rice when I decided to press the rice into a glass pie dish. The rice was fairly sticky, so it pressed into shape perfectly. I brushed the rice with a little olive oil to keep it from drying out and put it under the broiler for a few minutes to try to help it firm up a bit. Then in went the refried beans, and some frozen mixed vegetables that have been hanging out in the freezer (mostly corn with bits of cauliflower, broccoli, and red pepper). I steamed the frozen veggies briefly in the microwave and seasoned them with a little chili powder, Bragg's, and chipotle sauce. I also had half a can of diced tomatoes left in the fridge from making the rice the night before, so those went in with the vegetables.

I put it in the oven till everything was nice and hot, and that was that. I was hoping I would be able to get pretty slices out of it, but it was fairly messy looking on the plate. When I do this again I will play with the crust (flour, flax?) and let it set a little longer when it comes out of the oven. But that's just being picky, because it was delicious. The textures all worked well together and the rice was nice and crusty around the edges.

Magic Leftovers

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Jeff has been asking for enchiladas for a long time. On one of our last trips to the grocery he picked out a jar of enchilada sauce, followed closely by everything else we would need for enchiladas. He was tired of waiting.

I don't even remember the last time I had enchiladas, if ever, so I hadn't seen any reason to rush. You can't miss something you've never had. As of last night that has all changed, because these were good in a serious way.

For the filling I chopped and sauteed an onion, then added a package of Morning Star Farms Chik'n Strips that I had pulled into shreds. When they had started to brown I added crushed black olives and a little sea salt. Then I transferred the filling to a bowl and added some soy cheese and enough enchilada sauce to help everything stick together.

It's traditional to dip corn tortillas in hot oil (or lard) before filling them, but I sprayed them on both sides with a little cooking oil and heated them in a nonstick skillet. While the second tortilla was heating I spooned some of the filling onto my first tortilla, rolled it up tightly, placed it in a baking dish into which I had already added a thin layer of enchilada sauce, and continued with more tortillas until I had used all the filling. I had enough for eleven tortillas.

Naked enchiladas.
After pouring the rest of the sauce over the filled tortillas and covering them in soy cheese and more black olives, they went in the oven at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes.

Clothed in their Sunday best.

I served them with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, tofu sour cream, and cilantro. For the tofu sour cream I just blend some silken tofu with a little lemon juice (or vinegar), and salt. It's pretty runny at first, but sets up in the fridge. While not delicious by itself, it's great on the enchiladas (or tacos etc.) as a cold and creamy counterpoint to the spicy sauce.

Now that I have known enchilada bliss, I'm excited to try again with different homemade sauces and vegetable fillings. However, these were so good that I will definitely be happy to fix them this way again.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Luck and Money

I'm not superstitious. Many in the south, however, will tell you that if you don't eat your Peas and Cabbage on New Year's Day you will have no luck in the coming year. The black-eyed peas are for luck, and the cabbage is for money. Like I said, I'm not superstitious...but I love me some cabbage and black-eyed peas.

Nutmeg also loves her some cabbage.

For the black-eyed peas, I started out by sauteing an onion in my pressure cooker along with some diced carrot, celery, green bell pepper, and a couple cloves of garlic. While that was going on I sorted and rinsed the dried peas. I'm always tempted to skip the sorting part, but considering that I found a rock in with the peas this time, I'm glad I didn't. I added some bay leaf, thyme, chili powder, and a touch of allspice. Then the peas and about 6 cups of water. I let these cook under pressure for about 20 minutes. They get soft before that, but I like 'em starting to fall apart. Then all they needed was lots of salt and Tabasco.

I decided to do the cabbage a little differently than I usually would. I sliced it into sections, and set them in some vegetable broth in a covered skillet to steam. Once they were tender I moved them to a baking sheet. I sprinkled on a little dill+salt+some grated soy cheese and put it under the broiler until the cheese was browned. This turned out better than I expected. I highly recommend it.

I wanted cornbread. I didn't have any cornmeal. Walgreens is a block and a half away. No cornmeal, but there was Jiffy. Cool, that will work. WRONG! I didn't think to read the box until I had poured it's contents into my mixing bowl. I now know that Jiffy contains lots of animal shortening. For some reason it just didn't occur to me that this could be the case. So that was wasted. BUT!! ...I made a modified batch of Deborah Madison's Basic Buttermilk Muffins, and they turned out great. So in the end we were happy, and at least I can say everything was homemade.

Luck inducing? Maybe not...but tasty.