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Monday, March 22, 2010

Savory Kale Bread Pudding

A couple of blocks from our house lives a neighbor who runs a catering business. Christie & I were out for an evening stroll last week and ran into the neighbor as she arrived home after an event. She greeted us with a baguette in her arms, asking us if we wanted one. We said sure and as we walked we ate a few bites off the top. The rest came home, went onto the counter and promptly went stale & hard.

Usually at this point the compost pile is involved, but this time I thought I'd try out an idea for savory bread pudding. It turned out fantastic and Christie asked me to jot down a recipe.

The custard for this is based directly on a recipe from the Fat Free Vegan blog site for Mini Crustless Tofu Quiches. This is a fantastic recipe we've made several variations of, mostly because we don't like mushrooms, so we always wing the ingredients to fit something we'd enjoy more. I'd wondered for some time if I could adapt the tofu custard for other purposes so it immediately came to mind as a way to make the bread pudding.
The Stuff
  • 1 stale baguette, coarsely cut up
  • 1 medium bunch of kale, washed, stemmed & shredded
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced small
  • 1 medium carrot, diced small
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced small
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

  • 2 12.3-ounce packages lite firm silken tofu, drained of water
  • 1/2 cup plain soymilk
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • sweet paprika
The Making

Preheat oven to 375.

In a skillet heat the olive oil and saute onion until they begin to soften, add garlic and continue sauteing until the garlic and onion begin to caramelize. Add in celery and carrots and saute until they begin to soften. Add kale, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Continue to cook, turning occasionally, until kale is softened. Remove from heat. Put coarsely chopped up bread and sauteed vegetables into a large mixing bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients into a blender. Process until mixture is completely smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides to be sure everything is incorporated. Pour this mixture over the bread and vegetables. Mix all ingredients together, making sure bread is coated with custard.

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with canola oil. Pour bread, custard and vegetable mixture into dish. Lightly press down so that the pan is evenly filled. Lightly dust top with sweet paprika.

Put pan into the oven and immediately reduce heat to 350. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool before cutting and serving with a lovely salad.

Organics to You - March 22, 2010

Today's box from Organics to You contains:
  • spinach
  • collards!!
  • asparagus
  • a yellow onion
  • a big leek
  • Russet potatoes
  • a bunch of cilantro
  • green leaf lettuce
  • orange carrots
  • 3 Rainer apples
  • 3 d'Anjou pears
  • 2 Honeygold grapefruit
  • 3 Mineola tangerines
  • an avocado (looks Haas-like)
From last week the fridge still contains:
  • 2 artichokes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • a few carrots
  • fingerling potatoes
  • Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
  • an eggplant
  • several potatoes
  • a few Chioggia beets
  • some garlic
  • 3 grapefruit
  • 2 Mineola tangerines
Christie has been making more smoothies so we have some supplemental produce in the house from New Seasons as well as a treat from the Farmers Market, which opened for the seasons this past Saturday on a gloriously sunny first day of spring!
  • Romaine lettuce
  • 7 navel oranges
  • 6 bananas
  • a Haas avocado
  • 5 Roma tomatoes
  • Brussel sprouts rabe
  • parsley
  • shallots
The Compost Pail of Shame (what I didn't use and had to compost):
  • Spinach (Ugh, two weeks in a row! I mean it is spinach, it isn't that hard to figure out what to do with it!)
Last week saw 5 qts & 2 pts of fruit sauce!! With all the kiwis in it (at least a half dozen) the end result looked like freckles in the blondish sauce of pears and apples. I believe some of this will go in the fridge or I'll set up the boiling bath to fully preserve a few of the jars. I did take pictures of this and will post about it. The mix of pears, apples and kiwis is really nice.

I also made a stir fry with asparagus, broccoli and fried tofu. Other quick, easy meals included pasta, veggies & tempeh crumbles over polenta and a hash made with potatoes, onions, broccoli rabe from the Farmers Market served with tempeh bacon. The Bacon avocado was divine and I made raw, sunseed pate from it.

While walking one evening last week a neighbor handed us as a baugette as we passed her place. She does catering had just come home from an event with extras. It meant we ended up with a stale, mostly whole loaf in the house so I experimented with a savory bread pudding that included kale, mirepoix, garlic, fresh parsley, dried herbs in a custard of silken tofu, tahini & cornstarch. It was pretty fabulously good and I will post the recipe.

This week has some trickiness to it since Christie and I have things going on every evening through Wednesday and Thursday we be on a trip. Now, I could leave leftovers for the friends who will be house sitting, but I'm not 100% they'll want them! I do have several dishes I am going to be cooking ahead on Tuesday & Wednesday to take with us, that will use up some of the ingredients.

Cooking for Mom is tricky since she is allergic to some nuts and somewhat soy-sensitive. She's also a bit picky and not entirely adventurous when it comes to food. The menu for the weekend will include:

Marvelous lentil quinoa nut loaf with mashed potatoes & miso shallot gravy (using chickpea miso)
Tostadas with re-fried black beans
Bean soup or perhaps a stir-fry with Aduki beans

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Kombucha Day 7

After seven days of brewing there was a distinct, apple-cider vinegar like scent coming from the glass jar. There were also a lot of bubbles and a new child culture forming on top of the mother culture I'd obtained from Jordan.

I did a taste test with a clean spoon and the result was tangy, not too strong, still a little sweet. I decided to go ahead and try making a new batch of sweet tea and bottling the brewed kombucha.

Here's everything ready to go. The two cultures have been removed to a clean plate. I have a water pitcher to pour kombucha into and 3 clean bottles (recycled Dragonfly Chai bottles) ready to fill.

Here's a nice close up shot of the child culture that has been growing on top of the original mother culture.

The kombucha filled the 3 bottles right up to the top with enough left over to keep the batch going as well as a glass for me to try. After having a glass full I realized it was still pretty sweet, perhaps it could have brewed for a couple of extra days? From what I've read on line the brewing can take anywhere from 5 days to two weeks at which time most of the sweetness should be gone.

The bottles will sit for at least 5 days to mature in flavor. Sometime next week I'll be opening them up to try it out.

Sunseed Pate

This raw pate is served at Proper Eats in St. Johns. Christie & I order it nearly every time we're there. Piper, one of the owners, wrote down a recipe for me on one visit.

The Stuff
  • 3/4 cup soaked, raw sunflower seeds (soaked at least 6 hours)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 Tablespoon sundried tomato (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons raw tahini
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water (may need more or less depending upon desired consistency)
The Making

Pulse soaked seeds, avocado, tahini, spices, lemon juice and tomato in a food processor to incorporate roughly. Add in water a little at a time and keep processing until you have
a smooth consistency.

Serve with pear and apple wedges, veggies, raw crackers, etc.

Raw Almond Pate

This is a variation a recipe served at the late Veganopolis. I enjoyed this so much I started looking for it to make at home, especially now that Veganopolis is no longer in Portland.

The Stuff
  • 1/2-2/3 cup unblanched whole almonds (raw)
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 3 spring onions (green onions)
  • 1 carrot
  • lemon juice from half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. dulse or snipped up nori
  • dash of cayenne pepper powder (or more to taste)
  • sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar (optional)
The Making

Soak the almonds at least overnight (changing the water every 12 hours), then drain

Roughly chop the celery, onions and carrot. Add vegetables and soaked almonds into a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Add lemon juice to taste, mix in dulse/nori and seasonings.

Makes a great dip for fresh veggies or crackers, or as a wrap filling

Monday, March 15, 2010

Organics to You March 15, 2010

Today's box from Organics to You contains:
  • spinach
  • green kale
  • asparagus
  • a yellow onion
  • green cabbage
  • yellow & orange carrots
  • fingerling potatoes
  • a big avocado
  • Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
  • little Chioggia beets
  • 3 apples
  • 3 pears
  • 2 grapefruit
  • 5 tangerines
From last week the fridge still contains:
  • 2 artichokes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • some broccoli
  • carrots
  • a yam
  • an eggplant
  • several potatoes
  • beets
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 red onion
  • some garlic
  • a whole lot of apples
  • too many pears
  • many kiwis
  • 2 honey gold grapefruit
  • 2 Orlando tangerines
The Compost Pail of Shame (what I didn't use and had to compost):
  • Spinach
Thank goodness for the Interwebs and information on how to store & cook the sunchokes, totally a new veggie in the house for us. We have an embarrassing number of apples, pears & kiwis - Christie has suggested cooking them all together for another fresh batch sauce, it has become a favorite sweet snack for her. I'm pondering the rather large number of carrots and considering if there's enough to do some soup with them. I really like puréed carrot soups, so this might be a possibility. Might be a simple cabbage stir-fry this week or perhaps a borsht with the leftover red beets & and cabbage.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Miso Shallot Gravy

Honestly, I really don't like mushrooms. I may be willing to use some shitakes in making my dashi, but generally I don't have much like for them. That said, the endless list of mushroom based gravies haven't exactly inspired me. I like gravy, but I don't really want mushroomy stuff. This past autumn, in time for all the mashed potato goodness of Thanksgiving I came up with the following gravy. Finally, here is the recipe (didn't realize I hadn't posted it yet).

The Stuff
  • 1 good sized shallot, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 Tablespoons white or red miso
  • Fresh pepper
The Making

Heat a sauce pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot add minced shallot and fry in oil until well caramelized. In a small dish combine soy milk and flour, whisk well to make sure they are combined. Pour slowly into oil and caramelized shallots, reduce heat to medium-low and whisk to incorporate. Add in miso, whisking it in well, and freshly ground pepper. Let continue to simmer, whisking occasionally, until the gravy is a desired thickness.

A nice variation is to add in 1/4 cup of chopped up, fresh parsley at the end. This is wonderfully tasty.

Too thick? Add a little more soy milk, slowly.

Too thin? Sprinkle in more flour, a little at a time, and whisk well until it it the desired thickness.

**Update as of September 22, 2010**

I have made this using brown rice flour in place of wheat as well as rice milk in place of soy - making this gravy both gluten and soy free.

I've also tried this using only a little spray canola oil to saute the scallions and no additional oil. This has worked just perfectly as well and makes for a almost fat-free gravy!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Home-Brewed Kombucha - Day 1

That's right! A bold new step into living the hippe-vegan stereotype... Home brewing kombucha!

The first few times I was offered kombuha I didn't really care for it. Too vinegary. Too funky tasting. Generally not very tasty.

I've been liking it quite a bit this past year, it has certainly improved into a tasty beverage. There are a few good varieties at markets around town and get some once in a while. A few places are putting it on tap around Portland, haven't checked out this yet. I really like a particular brand that I only get a couple of places around town, Kombucha Wonder Drink (Asian Pear, yum).

Last month I had some awesome homemade kombucha out at Great Vow Zen Monastery. After talking to the brewer, Jordan, I was encouraged to give it a try at home. He generously packed up a piece of his mother culture into a bag and it is been residing in the fruit crisper drawer for about a month now. I'm hoping it is still active, the cold should have kept it dormant. If not, I'm going to go out to Great Vow a week from Sunday and can always ask for another piece.

Shopping with Mom on the 5th I picked up a very large glass jar with a lid (which I won't be using since it needs to breathe). She also requested that I give it a try, she recalled it being beneficial to her one of the times she had cancer. Today's the day I decided to get going, cleaned the kitchen up and got out the supplies.

I'm following Jordan's advice as well as guidance from a recipe on the Get Kombucha site.

Into the jar I've got:

3 liters + 1 glass (8oz aprox.) water that was brought to a boil and cooled.
1 liter sweet tea made with Wuyi Oolong from Tao of Tea and 1 1/3 cups evaporated cane juice
1 piece of Jordan's mother culture
400ml of Kombucha Wonder Drink made with Oolong tea.

We'll see in 5 days if I've got my own kombucha brewing or nastiness in which case I'll get a new piece of culture and start over.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Organics to You March 8, 2010

Today's box, with the promise of spring, from Organics to You contains:
  • small bundle of asparagus
  • 2 artichokes
  • bunch of carrots
  • Romaine lettuce
  • red beets
  • Yellow potatoes
  • bunch of spinach
  • 2 honey gold grapefruit
  • 2 Orlando tangerines
  • 3 Gold Blush apples
  • 3 Bosc pears
  • a lovely eggplant
  • a yellow onion
  • an avocado
From last week the fridge still contains:
  • some broccoli
  • carrots
  • 2 yams
  • leeks
  • a lot of potatoes
  • beets
  • parsnips
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 red onion
  • head of garlic
  • little bit of celery
  • 12 apples
  • 10 pears
  • 4 kiwi
The Compost Pail of Shame (what I didn't use and had to compost):
  • Spinach
  • an orange that went moldy in less than a week
  • half an avocado I'd missed in the back of the veggie drawer
This past weekend saw another fresh citrus juice fest as we used up all of the citrus in the house. Are now looking forward to this - Monday's citrus delivery becomes Saturday or Sunday morning fresh juice.

I find that we have a lot of beets and carrots so a shredded salad with both of them shall show up this week. I have plans for sweet & sour broccoli with tofu skins for dinner tonight. The lentil quinoa nut loaf was requested, served with some mashed potatoes will help out with getting those eaten. The sheer number of apples & pears indicates the need to make up some more chunky fruit sauce. We've both been enjoying that plain or added to oatmeal, so it will be a good way to process the fruit. The eggplant and parsnips are tricky since Christie doesn't actually care much for either of the, particularly the eggplant. I may roast or grill these up and have on hand for my lunches this week.

Quick & Easy Stir Fry Dinner

I really file this one under the category of "Too Easy to Need a Recipe", however, I've been reminded repeatedly that to people who don't cook as often and/or do not have the level of experience & confidence that I do in the kitchen, this dish does not appear easy. In light of that, here's my favorite stir-fry with a few variations.

This does require some Asian ingredients. These can often be found at your "regular" market, however, if you have an Asian community it is worth the trek to an Asian market for these ingredients so that you have them on hand. They will be far less expensive and you'll also have the chance to shop for lovely things like steamed rice buns stuffed with mustard greens (or pumpkin, tofu & celery, etc.), delicious Asian veggies & fresh herbs including bamboo shoots in water (as opposed to canned/pickled), dried tofu skin, and other great things you won't find in an American market.

The Shopping List
  • Hoisin Sauce (often mistakenly referred to as "plum sauce", this is a must-have)
  • Mushroom Sauce (a.k.a. "vegetarian oyster sauce")
  • Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Mirin (a sweet cooking wine)
  • White Miso
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Seasoned Rice Vinegar (a.k.a. "Sushi Vinegar")
  • Sriracha (a.k.a. "Rooster Sauce")
  • Peanut Oil
  • Tomato Paste in a Tube
The Stuff

This is where you can truly be creative. Stir-fries and soup are the best way to use up the veggies you have on hand. Some work better than others, but if you just choose an assortment of what you have on hand and know you enjoy, the dish will be delicious.

Plan on having 3 or more cups of vegetables sliced or diced into relatively small, bite-size pieces. If you are using a kind of green that will cook down you will want to use at least 3 cups of the fresh greens cleaned that have been shredded/tore roughly. Consider using some of the following:
  • carrots
  • celery
  • beets (roots & greens)
  • chard (stems removed, diced and sauteed ahead of the greens)
  • kale
  • spinach
  • broccoli (crowns & stems)
  • rapini
  • rabe (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, etc.)
  • snow peas with pods
  • green beans
  • cauliflower
  • bell peppers
  • daikon
  • winter squash
  • summer squash
  • bok choi
  • ...getting the idea here?

  • Add some aromatics:
    • onion
    • leek
    • garlic
    • shallot
    • ginger
    • Thai basil (e.g., Siam Queen basil)
    • Shiso leaves
    • Kefir lime leaves (for a very Thai flavor)
    • fresh coriander (cilantro)
    • fresh chilies
  • Then pick one of the following:
    • 8 oz firm or extra firm tofu, cubed
    • 8 oz tempeh, cubed
    • 8 oz aduki beans, chick peas or other legume
The Making

Several variations here for you to experiment with. All, variations start by heating a tablespoon each of canola and peanut oils in a wok on medium high (use all canola if you have a peanut allergy). When oil is hot and forms ribbons on the bottom of the wok add in the onions. As the onions start to soften, about 3 minutes, add in garlic and/or shallot. If you are using leeks instead of onions saute the garlic and/or shallots first and add leeks when the garlic starts to soften. If you want to use fresh ginger, add it a minute after the garlic/shallot. If you are using tofu or tempeh, add it in next and stir-fry until some of the sides turn slightly golden.

Add in vegetables to onions and stir-fry at medium high for a few minutes. Reduce heat to medium low, add 2 tablespoons of water, and cover with lid. If you are using greens, do not add these in yet. Let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes, remove lid and stir. If they have brightened and have started to soften any greens can be added in next. If you are using legumes like aduki or chick peas, add them in too. Toss well and then add one of the sauce variations below:

Basic Stir-fry
Add 2 tablespoons each of hoisin and mushroom sauces and a dash of vinegar. Toss well with vegetables, cover and let cook on low for 5 more minutes. Nice served with Thai basil or fresh coriander as a garnish.

This variation reminds me a little of the basic brown sauce seen in some Vietnamese dishes, particularly if I caramelize the onions & garlic a bit first.
Sweet & Sour
Whisk together a tablespoon each of hoisin, mirin, vinegar, sweet chili sauce, water and tomato paste, add to vegetables, toss well, and cook on medium-low heat for 5 additional minutes. Toss vegetables in sauce often to help reduce liquid in sauce.

This has a more distinctly SE Asian flavor than a standard American/Chinese dish.
*Kefir lime leaves should be added to the stir-fry when the vegetables are first added to any onion or garlic. Once the vegetables are tender, add 2 tablespoons each hoisin and mushroom sauces, a tablespoon sweet chili sauce, and the juice from half a lime. Toss well with vegetables, cover and let cook on low for 5 more minutes. Remove lime leaves before serving with Thai basil as garnish.

If you want to go extra crazy, chop up a stalk of lemongrass, smash with side of knife and add that in at the beginning as well. Remove chunks when the lime leaves come out.
Japanese Style
Whisk together a tablespoon each of tamari, mirin and white miso. Toss well with vegetables, cover and let cook on low for 5 more minutes. Garnish lightly with shiso leaves cut into very fine ribbons and furikake.

Kind of a sweet stir-fry as well. Also nice with a very small dash of sesame oil.
Serve stir-fry with brown rice, quinoa, steamed buns, rice noodles or just by itself. For 3-4 people.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Organics to You March 1, 2010

Today's box from Organics to You contains:
  • chard
  • bunch of carrots
  • green curly kale
  • broccoli
  • red beets
  • 4 Russet potatoes
  • parsnips
  • 2 honey gold grapefruit
  • 3 navel oranges
  • 3 Enterprise apples
  • 3 D'anjou pears
  • 4 kiwis
  • a yellow onion
  • an avocado
From last week the fridge still contains:
  • red lettuce
  • some broccoli
  • carrots
  • 2 yams
  • leeks
  • Russet potatoes
  • beets
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 red onion
  • head of garlic
  • little bit of celery
  • 10 apples
  • 7 green pears
  • 2 honey gold grapefruit
  • 2 blood oranges
The Compost Pail of Shame (what I didn't use and had to compost):
  • Spinach
  • a few kiwis (oops)
  • a tangerine
  • some chard
  • bok choy (which went off surprisingly quickly)
Made a great stir-fry with the chard last week and fried onion tofu from Uwajimaya. On Saturday I made another huge scramble with broccoli, carrots, celery, potatoes and tofu - we fed a houseguest & ourselves Saturday plus had plenty leftover for Sunday breakfast. Sunday night I made the delicious potato, broccoli & fresh herb soup in Veganomicon - a great way to use up broccoli stems! I also made a huge amount of fresh squeezed juice on Saturday which helped us up the citrus we had around. We actually ended up eating out a lot last week, so we had a lot more go into the compost.

Tonight I'm making the ruby beet pockets as well as some broccoli & tofu stir-fry for dinner. There's a great rice casserole with chard in Veganomicon I'm going to try since we have the chard. Wednesday we'll be at Ignite, so eating at the Bagdad. I'm going to try to make some kind of hearty dish easy to take to the Dharma Center on Thursday for our monthly get-together with our practice cohort.