Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Northampton Hipster Art Walk

Last night I partook in an art walk run by friends of friends in my neighborhood. I wish I'd taken pictures to report on the food in the last house we went to, but I didn't feel it fully appropriate as it was someone else's house and food. However, because it was truly 'art food' I wanted to at least blog about it.

My roomie and I walked into this house, aptly named 'The Pop Culture museum' dressed up with an array of twisty-style desk lamps atop a table in the living room, piled with every board game you could imagine against a wall, lots of toys, and every nintendo game you could ever want. We further walked into the kitchen where an array of what I can call only 'art food' lay for us. I didn't eat everything, but quickly became enamored with what I did eat, the most amazing, lovely, surprising house-party food ever. There were your obligatory tortilla chips and chunked artisinal bread, as well as a corn and bean salsa, but also much much more. As more food and beer appeared on the table, we were offered the following:

Chocolate cake flavored with something I couldn't name, at first I thought rose or lavender, but later found from the cook, my new buddy E., that it was Basil! It gave the cake a fresh and herbal flavor which almost was reminiscent of very good, fresh dark chocolate, and gave the rich cake a clean finish.

Chipotle and (I think) roasted pepper dip, smoky and rich and amazing.

Parmesan 'chips' (Parmigano baked into cracker like form) with chopped Preserved Lemons (a traditional Moroccan condiment) that our chef had hand made. There was also a mellow green to garnish it with, maybe spinach or lettuce? But it tempered the lemon and gave the DIY canape a leafy crunch.

The most amazing and strange thing on the table was a cumin flavored caramel. Most people dipped bread in it, our hosts suggested dipping your fingers, and I decided to dip the shaved Parmigano Reggiano into it. It was sweet and almost musty in a good way, and had flavor reminiscent of some sort of dish that would be served at a ancient Middle Eastern or Aztec royal feast.

There were also sugared sliced almonds that looked like they were candied with Demetra sugar, and next to them, 'cookies' made out of them with a balsamic reduction drizzle. The balsamic's tart/sweetness hit first, then the crunch and the sweetness of the sugar, and then the tasty, toasty nut finish.

Lastly, a bruchetta, moist with caramelized onions and green olives, a dish of roasted garlic, and much more which I didn't get to try. I found the lady who cooked all of it, quickly made her acquaintance, and told her to get on the food blog train (She'd been thinking of starting a blog anyhow). I hope we have her as a new reader and writer!

The table had also directions on what to try with what, and which food was Vegan or not Vegan. Highly appreciated. Amazing creative food with unexpected flavors yet attainable ones, as everyone was at least trying and at most devouring everything.

Thanks to our hosts and E. for an amazing food and art experience!

Note: I may be speculating on some of the ingredients, but I used my best guesses and the info I got from the chef and people around.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Creamy Vegetable and 'Burger' Stroganoff

This is a pretty great recipe I found in a book that I've had for a bunch of years and finally took a peek into a couple of months ago. It's really more of a wintery comfort recipe, and as I'm fully aware it's now Spring/Summer depending on where you are, I still suggest it highly. The Book is 1001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes by Sue Spitler. I altered it a little, as always, and you can too, to taste. This recipe is especially close to my heart, as I used to eat full meat stroganoff growing up.

Creamy Vegetable and 'Burger' Stroganoff


Vegetable Cooking Spray (*You'll note that most of my suggestions here add fat, but also add flavor. Please use olive oil).
2 medium Onions, thinly sliced (*Vidalias are best)
12 ounces mixed wild mushrooms (*I used baby bellas and frozen shittake)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry red wine or canned vegetable stock (I used reconsituted vegan boullion)
12 ounces broccoli florets and sliced stalks
1 package (9 ounces) frozen vegetable 'burgers' thawed and crumbled (*I chose to use well rinsed and chopped seitan)
1 cup fat free half and half (*Abomination! Use regular half and half or milk)
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard (*I suggest Annie's organic dijon)
1 cup fat-free sour cream (*I used some full fat regular sour cream, and some 'Better than sour cream' vegan sour cream)
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed (*Fresh dill is nice, too).
Salt and white pepper to taste (*Hungarian paprika makes this dish genuine and lovely, use for seasoning but also for garnish).
16 ounce noodles, cooked, warm. (*Use whatever you like, but traditionally flat egg noodles are used).

Your main characters


1.) Spray large skillet with cooking spray (*Ahem, coat with olive oil) heat over medium heat until hot. Saute Onions, mushrooms and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Add wine (or stock) broccoli, and patties (seitan, in this case). Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until broccoli is tender, 8-10 minutes.

Seitan in action. Impersonating beef at every turn.

2.) Mix in half-and-half, flour and mustard, stir into vegetables. Heat to boiling. Boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Reduce heat to low, stir in sour cream and dill and cook 1-2 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over noodles.

Done! An easy but extremly hearty one. Feel free to alter with whatever other vegetables, spices and meat subsitutes that you wish!

Like a dream come true. Kind of.

Original Recipe! (sort of) : Cuban Fried Rice

I'm sort of cheating here, because I blogged this recipe a few years ago in my livejournal. I'll re-'print' the original post here with notes and pictures, as i've updated it quite a bit since it's conception. This is a household favorite, a fun and fairly quick lunch, dinner, or side dish, and can be made vegan or vegetarian.

What makes this dish 'Cuban' is it's Caribbean feel, the combo of spicy, sweet and sour, and the fact that Cuban food is tasty? And it's tasty? Oh just let me have my clever names...

Cuban Fried Rice!

I read a recipe in "Jane" mag a while back, and I kept thinking about it, as we kept not eating our bananas. This is way tasty and with the added elements (I altered it a little) and a good full lunch.

(*I am the queen of redundancy!)

1 medium sweet potato
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups cooked rice, room temp. (I used jasmine, but use what you like). (*I used Minute rice but use what you like. Heh. Leftover Chinese food white or brown rice works best).

This a product that legitimately freaks me out.

canola or vegetable oil (olive oil works fine if you want, too). (*I now suggest peanut oil for a lighter, more authentic flavor).
1/2 avocado *or use the whole thing...yum.*
1 medium bananna or plantain
salt and pepper
2 eggs (optional, I made it vegan-style, because eggs make me a little ill, and we were out...and it tastes great).
1/2 lime
1 dry hot pepper or pepper flakes (*Or a nice fresh Thai chili. Or a Jalepeno. Or a Habenero. Or chipotle. Whatever.)

1.) Throw your sweet potato in the microwave, or the oven, until it's almost baked but a little firm, still. Remove, cool, peel, cut into bite-sized pieces. (*Please, for the love of god, do not 'throw' your sweet potato.)

2.) Take the garlic, onion, and some oil and sautee. After onion and garlic are cooked *not browned* add sliced banana (cut in half and sliced is the best way) and sweet potato as well as your pepper flakes or hot pepper and pan fry until done but not squishy. Salt and pepper to taste. (*I would actually suggest first heating your oil until glistening, adding your hot pepper first so it can flavor the oil, garlic, then onion, turning heat down accordingly. Then sautee the Banana or Plantain and sweet potato at high heat to brown them up a little. Don't burn! I also suggest adding a little fresh chopped ginger around the same time you add the garlic.)
Your (I mean my) beautifully sweated onions, chili, ginger and garlic.

3.) add a little more oil, add and incorporate your rice, and fry until desired crispiness, watch the heat because the sugars from the banana and sweet potato tend to stick to the pan and burn. Salt and pepper to taste again. If you wanted eggs, now would be the time, make a hole in the middle or the rice, and scramble the eggs in that little 'pan', until mostly cooked, then incorporate with the rest of the rice.

4.) Serve with diced avocado on top, and a squeeze of lime, you can have a lime slice and some cilantro and maybe even some fresh tomato on there as garnish as you want. (*Current suggested garnish: crushed peanuts, loads of cilantro, fresh lime, diced avocado, and Siracha chili sauce).

Super tasty. I'm on my second bowl, but it looks as though it could serve 4 *as long as there was a salad or something involved), or 2 very hungry folks (hehe...or me...4 times, today.)


(*Hehe. Yeah, make a lot, it goes quick. And ALWAYS have extra avocado on hand).

Current Mood: full
Current Music: Fischerspooner-Emerge

(*For posterity's sake).

Half eaten with seconds on the way

Back-like a heart attack!

After my ridiculously (too long) hiatus, I have returned! I hope I haven't lost too many of you in the process, but I promise lots of lovely food and crafts posts are ahead!

I have acquired a new arsenal of cookbooks, a new Singer sewing machine, and a new boyfriend to cook for, so inspiration abounds!

Lets start with something that's not nutritionally beneficial at all, at that at some point my roommate asked me to stop making because it would be all he ate for 3 days, thus making him nutritionally deficient! (But it sure is tasty)...

Lovely Copycat Cinnbons (tm)!

Prepare to gain 5-7 pounds! Guaranteed!

I was never too aware of the whole 'copycat' recipe world, but apparently there are dozens upon dozens of websites devoted to the fine art of re-making home versions of the crappiest chain food you ever ate and wish you could eat again in the comfort of your own home. I suggest these recipes for the following scenarios: PMS, A Bad Day at Work, Pregnancy, and Because You are Feeling Particularly Sinful and Suddenly Anti-Gourmet. I have not experienced all of these scenarios personally, but I'm taking a long-shot guess here. You get the idea.

As far as suggestions for this recipe, my notes will still be in italics and marked with asterisks (*). I will tell you if you have a Kitchenaid mixer with a dough hook attachment or a bread machine, this will be a heck of a lot easier.

So without further wait or want...

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls



(bread machine-- recipe):

2 eggs -- room temperature
1 cup warm milk
1/3 cup melted margarine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 1/2 cups bread flour (*all purpose unbleached works, too).
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast (*again, fast rise yeast works great, too).


1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons makara cinnamon -- (cinnabon brand) (*I call shenanigans on this. I used lovely Organic Cinnamon from whole foods and it tasted great.)
1/3 cup softened butter (*Unsalted and preferably organic, please).


4 tablespoons softened butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Note: These are most like the original when using Cinnabon's own brand of Makara Cinnamon - available at any Cinnabon Stand. (*Again, shenanigans.)

Dough: Add ingredients in order listed to bread machine baking pan. Insert pan into bread machine and start "dough" cycle on machine. When dough is done, turn out onto floured rolling board and allow dough to rest for ten minutes. Roll dough out into a 16" wide and 21" long rectangle, with a dough thickness of about 1/4 inch.

(*So, if you are using a Kitchenaid or some similar bowl-mixer with a dough hook, you want to mix your ingredients, use the dough hook to knead until smooth, and let sit in a warm but not hot place, covered with a towel. Let it rise to about twice, punch the dough down, and then knead with the dough hook for another few minutes. Let rest for 15 min or so before rolling out. You can do the recipe by hand by stirring or hand mixing your ingredients together, kneading by hand until smooth and then re-kneading for a few minutes after the first rise. I've tried neither, but this dough is fairly easy to work with so i'm sure it will work out regardless of your equipment. A second note is that you want your measurements to be correct, so use a kitchen ruler or a measuring tape. Make sure your dough is an even thickness all the way through, and that the surface you roll it out on isn't something you mind making a mess of).

Filling: Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl until well mixed. Spread softened butter over the surface of the dough and sprinkle sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough surface.

(*Your butter should be the consistency of a thin paste, spread evenly with a spatula, and then use long 'bird feeding' like movements to spread your cinnamon sugar).

Roll dough jelly-roll fashion along the 16" wide side of the rectangle. Cut dough roll into 12 slices. Place 12 rolls into a 9" by 13" baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes or until light brown on top. Remove baking pan and allow to cool.

(*'Jelly Roll' just means roll it into a spiral. Make sure you roll evenly checking your ends and evening out throughout the roll ever few movements. Roll tightly, also, or your buns will fall apart. Baking in a properly heated oven doesn't take long at all, so watch your time.)

Ready to Bake

Cream Cheese Icing: Combine in a mixing bowl until well blended. Frost cinnamon rolls with icing while rolls are still in the baking pan.

(*The best luck i've had with this icing is a whisk or whip attachment on my bowl or hand mixer, it makes it fluffy and lovely. Do not refrigerate before spreading or it will get too thick, and don't spread on too-hot buns or it will melt.)

Post-bake, pre-ice!

Original Recipe Location: (where you can resize the recipe or even turn the recipe into a word search puzzle!) : HERE.

I suggest serving these right away, covering with plastic wrap at room temp to store, and microwaving for 10-30 sec depending on your microwave to reheat!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thanks Exitquote!

An acquaintance of mine, (a girlfriend of a friend) recently posted a re-make of the tofu and the pilaf recipe! Check it out! 

Fair Warning (entry:Delicious Food, about 3 entries down).

This is exactly the community I've been looking for! Keep cooking, commenting and posting, everyone!

More food and craft entries coming soon.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New books!

I took a short trip to Raven Books in Northampton yesterday, and picked up a few new (used) things. The best thing about this place is the used cookbook section. You can get 40 dollar books for 15, and it has a mildly strong veggie section. After scouring the piles and shelves, I picked up these:

Click me

Sacred food:Cooking for Spiritual Nourishment by Elisabeth Luard. This award-winning book is full of beautiful photos of people eating and worshipping food together. It has recipes from around the world that celebrate everything from courting and fertility, to birth and death. While not specifically veggie, i'm excited for it.


Japanese Vegetarian Cooking:From Simple Soups to Sushi by Patricia Richfield. This veggie (and incidentally almost completely vegan) is written by a woman who spent years in Japan. I'm looking forward to cooking with it as I love Japanese food, and I'm a huge fan of cooking culturally accurate food.

I know I haven't been as good about updating the blog, and for that I apologize. New job, new life, etc. Hopefully some new books will give me the inspirational push I need. I'll keep you all updated about how the books are, maybe even write some mini-reviews at some point. Hope you all are keeping warm and fighting through this end-of-winter madness. And for those of you in warmer climes-my jealousy has no bounds.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tofu and Pilaf...It's been awhile...

I am lame and have had this blog entry in storage for a week....But here it is. And I promise you will hear more from me.

What is to come

Still loving on the v'con, I made this awhile ago, but as said, I'm lazy and it takes a while for me to get some posts up sometimes. This is dish that was a big hit amongst my housemates, but not me, unfortunately. I liked the tofu a great deal, but it 'caramelized' (read:burned and did not make a syrupy sauce as I was hoping) probably because I cut the tofu differently than the recipe called for and didn't use a shallow enough pan (I was dying to use my new pyrex casserole dishes).

So, a word to the wise, unless you like gummy-burn-sauce, be sure to use a shallow dish and WATCH THE TOFU like, check on it more than you deem necessary.

As for the Quiona, I will say that it is an EXTREMELY easy grain to cook. It's hard to overcook, it cooks quickly with a nice chewiness-but-not-too-chewiness, and it seems like, because of it's versatility, that it could easily become a breakfast-grain, salad grain, etc. I disliked this dish only because...I think I really don't like beans larger than black beans unless they are smushed (ie: Hummus, Kidney bean spread). I also might of sort of skimped on the bean-price, or bean-work, as I bought discount store (but they were organic!) 'salad' bean mix when the recipe called for chickpeas. They sort of were surrounded by that bean-y soup that canned beans get, and it was a little creepy altogether. As said, my housemates loved it, so maybe I was just freaked out by the bean-goo.

Without further ado, here's the recipes, tell me what you think, and how you would make them better!

Tangerine Baked Tofu
From Veganomicon ( pg. 126)

I used clementines for this recipe, cause I had a ton. Either would work.


-1 pound extra-firm tofu, pressed and sliced width-wise into eights.
-1 heaping teaspoon tangerine zest
-3 tablespoons lime juice
-2 tablespoons soy sauce
-1 tablespoon agave nectar or pure maple syrup
-1 tablespoon peanut oil
-1/4 teaspoon cumin
-1/8 teaspoon allspice
-Freshly ground pepper
-2 tablespoons dark rum

1.) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. *I suggest lowering this to 400 or 350 and cooking a bit longer. Maybe you won't end up with no sauce that way.

2.) In a shallow glass baking dish whisk together all your marinade ingredients.

3.) Place the tofu cutlets in marinade. Using a fork, carefully poke a few holes into the cutlets. Flip them over and do the same on the other side.

4.) Bake the tofu for 45 minutes, flipping several times, about every 15 minutes or so. The tofu is ready when most of the marinade has reduced. Spoon any remaining marinade over the cutlets before serving.

Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf
Veganomicon (pg. 115).


-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 small yellow onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-1 tablespoon coriander seeds
-Several pinches of freshly ground pepper
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 tablespoon tomato paste
-1 cup quinoa
-2 cups cooked or 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
-2 cups vegetable broth or reconstituted bouillon

1.) In a small stock-pot over medium heat, saute the onions in olive oil for about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes.

2.) Add the tomato paste, coriander, cumin, black pepper, and salt. Saute for another minute.

3.) Add the quinoa and saute for 2 minutes

4.) Add the chickpeas and broth, cover and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat to very low, cover, and cook for about 18 minutes, or until the quinoa mixture has completely absorbed the liquid. Stir occasionally. Fluff with fork and serve.

I know I may not have made this sound too appetizing, but hopefully you'll find ways to make this your own and improve it! (Or maybe it's wicked good like everyone else says and I was really picky that night?) Good luck!