04 November 2010

BBQ Lunch Box

So- my new phone has a camera and I thought it would be a great way to take a picture of my lunchbox for the blog. As you can see, it was not the best idea ever and the rice looks positively radioactive, which I promise you it was not. So, if you will excuse the picture, let me tell you about my lunch.

First off, I like tofu. I always have and it's nothing that I'm forcing upon myself (or Zach) for the vegan challenge. I don't really understand it when people say they don't like tofu, as I think it's fairly neutral in terms of taste and texture. What I love about tofu is it's ability to soak up flavors in a sauce or a marinade. I would say that about 90% of the time that I eat meat, I'm not actually after the meat itself, but the delicious curry, sauce or marinade that it's in, so tofu is a perfect substitute for me. In preparation for the Vegan MoFo, I got
Vegan with a Vengance from the library and marked a ton of recipes that I wanted to try, including BBQ Pomegranate Tofu.

I'd never made BBQ sauce before, so I thought I would try it, along with some coconut rice and roasted broccoli. I made a few changes to the recipe, substituting fresh pomegranate for the pomegranate molasses as my grocery store didn't have it, and leaving out the peanut butter, since Zach can't stand it. I've also decreased the amount of oil and soy sauce that the tofu is baked with, as I thought it could do with less. The BBQ tofu took a bit longer to make than expected (45 minutes total) so by the time dinner was finally ready, I was starving, but it was totally worth it. I can't remember the last time I made a protein plus two sides, so that in itself was novel. The BBQ sauce was great on the tofu, and the roasted broccoli was crisp and delicious, both with and without the sauce. I overcooked the rice a bit, but I'm sure you won't have that problem. Recipes after the jump.

BBQ Pomegranate Tofu
Adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance
Serves 4

For the tofu
1lb/450g firm tofu, cut into 12 pieces
1 t. olive oil
2 t. tamari

For the BBQ sauce
1 T olive oil
1 C/2 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1t five-spice powder
4oz/120g tomato paste
2 C/500ml vegetable broth
2 T pomegranate molasses
1/2 C pomegranate arils
1T Tamari or soy sauce
1/4C/60ml maple syrup
1t hot sauce (or to taste)
1t liquid smoke

-Preheat oven to 350. Put the tofu in baking dish, pour the olive oil and soy sauce over it, and turn to coat. Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from the oven, flip the tofu and bake for another 15 minutes. While the tofu is baking, start the sauce.

- Heat a saucepan over medium. Add the oil and saute the shallots for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic, 5 spice and tomato paste and sauté 1 minute more. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

-Put a few ladle fulls of sauce over the tofu and bake for 15 minutes longer.

Coconut Rice
Adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance
Serves however many you'd like it to

Jasmine Rice
Light coconut milk
1 Lime

- Prepare rice according to package directions, substituting coconut milk for about 1/4-1/2 of the water.

- When rice is finished cooking, add the zest of one lime and fluff.

Roasted Broccoli
Serves 4

1.5lb/700g broccoli
olive oil

- Preheat oven to 350F (you may already have it going for the tofu).

- Cut broccoli into florets, put in on a large baking sheet, drizzle on a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Give it a good mix and stick it in the oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring once. It's done when it's crisp-tender and starting to brown.

03 November 2010

Lentil Chili

Since the weather had suddenly gotten cold here and I've had to pull out my winter biking gear for my daily commute, chili seemed like the perfect thing to help me defrost after the ride home from work. One of my favorite cooking magazines, Cuisine at Home, had a recipe for lentil chili which was practially vegan so it I thought it would be a good start to my Vegan MoFo. I will admit to being slightly sceptical of a lentil chili, thinking that chili had to include beans, but I was completely blown away at how delicious it was. Smoky and full of spice without being too hot, it was absolutely perfect with fresh hot corn muffins and even better for lunch the next day along with a hunk of fresh bread and avocado. You won't miss the beans- I promise. Recipe after the jump.

01 November 2010

A New Challenge

Ok- I know that some of you may be slightly wierded out by the logo, and rightfully so. I don't think I've ever (intentionally at least) made something vegan for the blog. Vegetarian, sure, and there probably have been a few things that didn't have any animal products, but it wasn't something I'd ever set out to do. I haven't become a vegan, and I don't think I ever will, however, I have been thinking about what I need to do to get the blog up and running again. I decided that I needed a challenge, some kind of outside goal, something that would force me to try out new things. In short, I needed to get back to my goals for starting this blog in the first place.

A friend of mine has been trying out all sorts of vegan things lately, and I've seen a few vegan cookbooks that looked amazing, so I thought, why not give it a try?
My initial idea was to attempt one completely vegan week and write about it, but with travel plans for nearly every weekend in the next month, I didn't think that would be possible. Then I came across Vegan Month of Food and decided this was the inspiration I needed; a month of something totally new, with lots of other people doing it and providing recipes and ideas. I can't promise that I'll be a vegan for the next month (and I'm slightly afraid I'll get kicked out of the MoFo because of it) but I will be cooking vegan at home, and letting you know how it goes. I hope you'll stick with me for the next month as I try this experiment as I hopefully gain some new cooking skills, recipes, and inspiration in the kitchen.

28 October 2010

A New Look

What would a new start be without a new look? I rather impetuously decided to try out a new template last night. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, but I'll give a few days to get settled, and me a few days to make some formatting tweaks, and see how I feel about it. As always-- your comments are welcome.

27 October 2010

A Return to the Daring Bakers- Doughnuts

I have an unhealthy obsession with doughnuts. I love them, well and truly. Although I avoid most fried foods as I don't think they're worth the calories, doughnuts will get me every time. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I'll eat any doughnut that crosses my path. As a rule, I prefer cake style over yeast, especially if those yeast doughnuts come from Krispy Kreme. A certain college roommate of mine loved Krispy Kremes, particularly the way they 'melted in your mouth'. Her words, not mine; I like to masticate my baked goods, thank you.

The only other time I attempted doughnuts was in my 10th grade foods class in high school. I remember the special cookie cutter we had (with center hole removal device) and covertly snacking from a brown bag of doughnuts for the rest of the day. Needless to say, I was pleased with the first challenge to bring me back in to the DB fold.

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

I chose the
Pumpkin Doughnut recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine, by way of Epicurious, as it was a cake-style doughnut, and I had half a can of pumpkin in the fridge from another recipe. I didn't get creative with this one, besides cutting the recipe in half (as there was absolutely no reason for me to have 24 freshly fried tempting treats in my kitchen), so you can follow the link to get to the recipe. This time around, I didn't have a special device for cutting out the center hole so I improvised and used a rolled up piece of paper. Not the best, but it worked, especially once I started dipping it in flour between cuts. The only word of advice I have on the recipe-- make just half the amount of spice sugar to roll the doughnuts in. I made the amount the recipe called for and had tons left over.

12 October 2010

A Tuesday with Dorie

I just spent a Tuesday with Dorie, and not just in cookbook form, in real, live, reading from Around My French Table, telling stories about Madame Saucisson form. This was my first book signing, and I was utterly charmed. Dorie is, as they always say, much smaller than the slim woman you expect from pictures. So small, you wonder how she could really be the author of so many books about food, but then she starts talking and you immediately think that yes, this is someone who knows food and loves to share it, both in cookbooks, and in person for those lucky enough to be guests in her home.

As I was waiting in line to have my book signed, I started chatting with some fellow Dorie-admirers, who happen to be food bloggers as well. Strange as this may sound, it was the first time I had ever met other food bloggers in person. Three out of the four of us had been
Daring Bakers at one point, and I was reminded again how easy it can be to talk to complete strangers when food is the common denominator. Meeting them, and talking with one of my food idols has inspired me to give Real Good Taste another go, so you will be hearing from me again in the near future. Until then, I'll leave you with a few links to my favorite Dorie Greenspan recipes.

Perfect Party Cake (the name really does say it all)
Macarons Parisiens (I'm still working on perfecting this one)
Florida Pie (you'll never go back to plain Key Lime again)
Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes (you can see the recipe if you search in
Baking: From My Home to Yours on Google books
And finally, Dorie's own
website, where she often posts recipes and stories about her fabulous life.

11 December 2009

Spinach Parmesan Polenta with Mushroom Ragu

Hearty but not heavy, a breeze to make, especially if you have a slow cooker. Recipe up tomorrow.