Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cheddary Tofu Quinoa Pie

I make some version of this 'pie' on a regular basis. This was the first time I have used the cheddar or the quinoa in this dish. The fact that I call this a pie is getting me thinking it would be good baked in some kind of crust...puff pastry maybe?

Cheddary Tofu Quinoa Pie

1 lb. firm tofu (chinese)
1 tsp. mustard
1 Tbsp. tahini
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or diced
lots of black olives*
pinch of turmeric and paprika*
dried thyme*
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup FollowYourHeart cheddar (soy cheese)
1 /2 cup cooked quinoa
salt to taste
fresh basil and chives*

In a large bowl, mash the tofu (I just use my hands) and mix in the mustard and tahini. Set aside.

Saute the onion and garlic in a little oil. When the onions are soft add the olives, turmeric, paprika and thyme. After a couple of minutes the olives should be getting toasty and it should be smelling really good. Add the lemon juice and remove from the heat.

Combine the tofu with the onion mixture and the rest of the ingredients. Stir to mix well. Turn into a lightly oiled pie pan and press into shape. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until it's hot in the center and starting to brown on top. Put under the broiler briefly to brown it a bit more. Be careful, it will burn fast! Let it sit for several minutes until slightly cooled. Cut into slices and eat it up. Sometimes it falls apart all over the plate, but it's just as tasty.

*I never measure for things like this unless it's important to the recipe. The only rule is that it's better to use too little than too much (except olives...you can't have too many olives).

Served with baby yellow beets and their greens, and more quinoa

P.S. Spring is here!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Eggplant Burgers

For this I started with a recipe from Crescent Dragonwagon's "Passionate Vegetarian" and modified it to suit my needs. The resulting eggplant cakes are my new favorite thing. There's really not much else I can say about these. You simply need to try them. They were twice as good as I was expecting.

Eggplant Burgers

2 eggplants sliced into rounds
3 Tbsp. Braggs or soy sauce
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 small slices of bread torn into pieces
1 Tbsp. tahini (or more)
1 teaspoon Chipotle sauce (or more)
1 1/2 cups dry textured vegetable protein

Bake the eggplant on an oiled baking sheet at 350 degrees until tender, turning halfway through. Remove from oven and transfer to a food processor.

Add the Braggs, garlic, bread, tahini, and chipotle sauce. Blend until smooth, then add the textured vegetable protein. Blend to mix well. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes. Blend again briefly and taste for seasoning.

Form into 8 patties (approx. 3 inch). When I am making patties from something sticky like this I find it helpful to form the patty between two layers of plastic wrap so they don't stick to my hands. Bake the patties on an oiled baking sheet at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, flipping over halfway through. If you would like the burgers a little crispier, put them under the broiler for a few seconds on each side.

Serve as is, with the sauce of your choice, or on a bun with greens, tomato, Veganaise, and spicy ketchup.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Apricot Almond Cookies

I recently purchased a mold for making mamoul, a traditional Lebanese cookie. They are a bit like shortbread in texture, and have a date, walnut, or pistachio filling. They are also some of the best cookies I have ever eaten.

The first thing I made using the mold, however was not mamoul at all. I didn't have everything I would need for mamoul, and didn't want to make something with as much fat as mamoul would require. Instead, I came up with these soft almond cookies with an apricot filling. Using the mold was so much fun that I turned right around and used it to make a coconut cookie.

You don't need a mold to make these cookies. It's easy to shape them in your hands, but if you can find one you will have twice as much fun making them. Mine was under 5 dollars at Mona's Cafe; a Lebanese and Mediterranean restaurant that also houses a small International market. They just recently opened a location near my house, and not only does it make my life easier to have such convenient access to falafel sandwiches, tahini, grape leaves, split fava beans, giant glass jars of tomato paste, dried figs, mamoul molds, etc., but I think it's important to support small independent ethnic markets and restaurants. My local Vietnamese, Korean, and Middle Eastern markets are usually less expensive then the supermarkets, and shopping there challenges me by introducing me to foods I am unfamiliar with. Now, on to the cookies.

Apricot Almond Cookies

2 Tbsp margarine, softened
1/4 cup soy milk
1 Tbsp flax meal
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cup flour ( I used spelt)

Combine everything but the flour and mix well. Stir in the flour. The dough should be firm and dry enough to handle. Add more flour or soy milk if necessary.

For the filling puree some dried apricots with a teaspoon or two of agave nectar and just enough water to moisten and make a paste. Sorry, but I didn't measure any of this. If you make too much it just means you will have to make more cookies!

Lightly flour the mold. Press a small amount of dough into the mold, making an indentation for the filling. Fill the indentation with the apricot filling. Form a disc large enough to cover the filling and press firmly into place so the apricot will stay sealed inside.

Turn the mold over and give a firm tap on the counter or into your hand to release the cookie. If you floured the mold it should come out easily. Continue with the rest of the dough and filling. Make sure to flour the mold each time or the cookies will stick.

Bake at 350 degrees until browned on the bottom. These are tasty as they are or lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Makes approx. 18 cookies.

Sadly, I didn't get a picture...but I gave Nutmeg a bite of one of these cookies, and she gave them her highest rating.