Saturday, December 26, 2009

Veganize It: The Year In Review

What a year it has been here at Veganize It...Don't Criticize it! No recipe this week. You have one minute to weep.

Okay, that's enough, pansy.

Instead of ending the year with a recipe, I decided to do a year in review! It has been quite a ride in my kitchen. First, I had to move kitchens from west side to half-way east side. I assure you, moving my kitchen is perhaps one of the most daunting challenges I could possibly face. My kitchen required more boxes than my bedroom and living room combined. Then, I moved into an apartment with not only the shittiest oven I've ever had the displeasure of using, but with about half the cabinet space I had grown accustomed to having.

Jane has grown quite fond of showing our guests the overly-stocked-with-
ingredients shelves of our cabinetry, always making sure to point out that there is only one shelf allocated to actual "ready to eat" snack foods. In all fairness, I warned her before we moved in together that the kitchen would be my territory. Sure, she can use it...but not without me peering slyly around the corner making sure she doesn't damage my stunning new oven.

Anyway, on to the review. Let's start at the very beginning. Some of the recipes I chose were my favorites from the past year, and others were your favorites.

January's Heirloom Bean, Red Russian Kale and Wheat Berry Chili [above] post started off my year with a bang when it accidentally sparked international controversy. Turns out my sense of humor doesn't cross cultures, and I received more Paraguayan and Brazilian hate mail from Avril Lavigne fans than I can even count.

Not much to say about this one except that I entered it in a recipe contest and didn't even get an honorable mention. They can kiss my bundt cake.

In this post I touched on my love for all kinds of mushrooms...even the one's that make you think trees are talking to you and that eating on the floor of Domino's Pizza is a great idea.

'Nuff said.

The most decadent vegan mac and cheese you will ever eat. Yes, the ingredients are a bit of a treasure hunt...but why should vegetarians get to have all the fun?

Like the title says, "Veganize It...Don't Criticize it.

If you couldn't tell from my 9 million blog posts including Morel Mushrooms, they are one of my favorite earthly gifts. This recipe tops my top 10 list of "Ways To Enjoy Morels". Yes, they're pricey. Yes, I pawned my grandmas old necklace to but a pound. And yes, it was worth every ounce of Jew Guilt I experienced.

The post with my first cooking video. I know I've been slacking on making more of them, but I promise a second season in 2010. You know how it is in show biz. I'm waiting for results from my focus groups...or until I can afford a new video camera.

A spicy surprise for my mother's birthday. Unlucky for her, chipotle and chocolate have similar coloration muahaha.

Yes, please.

It's getting cold out. Keep warma with Shawarma hahahaha. Oh, really...I'm just too much.

And that concludes our Veganize It! Year In Review. I hope you have the munchies as badly as I do right now from all these photos. Well, it could've been the joint that magically disappeared as I was writing this post. Just kidding. I don't BUI (Blog Under The Influence).

See you next year, kids.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Candied Masala Yams Coulis Casserole

If thinking about food counted as caloric intake, I would be one of those 800-pound people that eventually gets saved by Maury Povich. I'm sure it's pretty easy to gather from reading this little bloggy blog, but I think about food constantly. The only other subject that gives food a run for its money is sex. I guess I'm a fan of self-indulgent quick fixes, and I like it that way. When I'm not actually eating, I'm reading about food, writing about food, and downloading restaurant menus online purely just to examine their offerings.

The funny thing is that my fiance is the complete opposite. [Edit: I'm referring to the "food" issue...not the sex issue. That would be simply ludicrous]. She doesn't think about food unless I shove it in her face. She eats purely out of necessity, unless it's cherry pie. I've seen the woman plow through an entire cherry pie in one sitting...and she's 5'9" and 115 lbs. Can you say sexy bitch? Yes, please. Aside from cherry pie, though, she couldn't give a crap less about eating. When I start rambling about a dish I'm creating, I've started to notice that her eyes glaze over as her mind wanders off to a far away place I'll never know or understand. It's our differences that make us a good match...and it also provides me with a challenge.

I know that if I cook something and Jane likes it, it has to be good. I like to think I have good taste in people that have good taste. None-the-less, picky eaters have always piqued my curiosity...the first being the little sister I always talk about. Conspiracy that she and Jane both happen to be Pisces? I think not. Impressing a discerning (aka difficult) palate has always been somewhat of a game to me, so I let Thanksgiving be my playground.

"What do you want for Thanksgiving?", I asked Jane.

"Candied Yams.", she said.


"That's it. Just the yams."

"Alright", I said, fully knowing I would find a way to secretly make them spiffier than usual without her noticing. I'm like the conniving mother that sneaks vegetables into milkshakes.

Needless to say, they were a hit. I've made them with both Chicago Soy Dairy's Dandies and Sweet and Sara's Plain Marshmallows, and both versions were A++.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Jesus.

Candied Masala Yams Coulis Casserole

  • 4 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 4-5 large Yams
  • 1/2 cup Vegan Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 cup MimicCreme (or Alternative, pg XX)
  • 1/4 cup Soy Creamer (Original Flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3 Whole Cloves, ground
  • Pinch of Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • 1 bag of Dandies Vegan Marshmallows (or 1 tub Sweet and Sara Marshmallows or Ricemellow Creme)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then boil the yams until very soft to the touch...about 20-30 minutes. Drain the yams well, then set aside until cool enough to handle.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel off the yam skins completely, then place the peeled yams in a large bowl. Use a potato masher to mash the yams up a bit, then set aside.

In a very large pot over medium heat, melt the vegan margarine. Add the brown sugar, MimicCreme, soy creamer, garam masala, cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg. Whisk together well, then bring the mixture to a simmer while whisking occasionally. Allow the mixture to simmer until the brown sugar has melted completely.

Add the mashed yams to the pot, and stir to fully combine. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then remove the pot from heat.

Using either a food mill (an immersion blender or food processor will also suffice), pass the mixture though the food mill while straining over a large bowl. If you decide to use an immersion blender or food processor, just blend/process until fully pureed.

Transfer the yams to a casserole dish, then spread out evenly. Top with Dandies Marshmallows, then bake 20-30 minutes until the marshmallows are golden brown and the center is warm.

Let cool a moment prior to serving.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Belgium Ale and Roasted Garlic Fused White "Chicken" Chili Gumbo

Well, I've finally joined the rat race...and by "Rat Race" I make no allusions to animal testing, of course. Yes, I found myself a full time, sit at a desk all day from 9-5, J-O-B. I would much rather have a job in a restaurant, but you wouldn't believe how difficult it is to find employment for something you do well.

I have a desk. I am surrounded by a cast of characters that aren't a far cry from my favorite show, "The Office" I've spent my first four days there not only fitting every employee into mold of one of the show's cast members, but also deciding which character from the show I would be. "Angela" is a petite vegetarian, but my energy is more "Pam" and I'm far less bitchy than Angela. "Oscar" is gay like me, but my sense of humor is so much more "Jim".

Facebook tells me I'd be Andy Bernard, but Facebook also tells me I'm "Blanche" from Golden Girls when I feel I'm definitely more of a "Dorothy". Why does Facebook think it's so damn smart?

Anyway, I'm way off track here for the recipe. It has been FUCKING COLD in Los Angeles this past week. I'm not just talking about that "Ohh, Boo Hoo. It's 65 and I'm freezing my balls off" cold. REAL cold. I've had to bust out my winter down parka circa 2002 that makes me look like an orange Michelin Man. And to top it all off, it's actually been raining here. And my heater is broken.

While I can't stand the cold, I do love to warm myself up. Hot cocoa, tea, and my personal favorite, soup. This recipe fuzes two of my favorite "in a bowl" meals: Chili and Gumbo. I ate it cozied up next to my space heater, and I was in a state of bliss for a few hours following.

On a related not, you've seen my previous blasts about my friend Trevor's program in the past. They are now offering sign-ups for the next course, so definitely don't miss out! Here's all the info:

Discover How To Thrive On A Vegan Diet

If you'd like to thrive on a vegan (or vegetarian) diet, whip up delicious meals in 10-30 minutes, and stop being vulnerable to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, here's great news...

There's a new certification course, The Vegan / Vegetarian Mastery Program. To give you a sneak preview, the Director is publishing a free newsletter, “Trevor’s Vegetarian Health Secrets”.

When you sign up, you’ll get brief excerpts from The Mastery Program once or twice a week -- with no cost or obligation.

What's more, we've arranged a *special bonus* for you. It’s a yummy "Vegetarian Holiday Recipe Collection" -- including a delicious tofu turkey, mushroom gravy, pumpkin pie, savory egg nog, and more.

To get the bonus ebook, just type “Jennifer” when prompted for a Promo Code. To sign up, click here:

The Vegetarian Health Institute

5740 Maccall St, Suite C
Oakland, CA

Belgium Ale and Roasted Garlic Fused White "Chicken" Chili Gumbo

  • 2 sticks of Vegan Margarine
  • 1 1/4 cups Self Rising Flour
  • 1/2 batch Vegan Chicken, ground in a food processor or blender (about 8oz.)
  • Olive Oil, enough for sautéing ground Vegan Chicken
  • 1 head of Garlic, roasted*
  • 1 medium Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks of Celery, finely chopped
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 4 cups Better Than Bouillon's No Chicken Broth
  • 1 bottle of Belgium White Ale
  • 1 tsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 TBSP Green Tabasco Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Salsa Verde
  • 1/2 lb Okra, sliced
  • 1/2 lb of White Button Mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of Collard Greens
  • 1 can Cannellini Beans, drained
  • 5 Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Flat Leaf Parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Creole Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • Pinch of Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp File Powder
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • 4-6 servings of Cooked White Rice

*Chef's Note: To roast garlic, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Slice off the top of the head of garlic so that all the cloves are revealed. Place the head of garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, then wrap the head up in foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 1/2 hour, then set aside to cool. The roasted cloves should squeeze right out.

Drizzle some olive oil in a large skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the ground vegan chicken to the skillet and saute until browned, about 6-8 minutes.

Preheat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Make the roux by
melting the vegan margarine, then combining with the flour and stirring until it just reaches the color of the margarine. Add the roasted garlic, and sauté 30 seconds until fragrant.

Add chopped onions, celery, bell pepper and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Saute until the onions and begin to soften, about 6-7 minutes. Add the No Chicken Broth and Beer, then bring to a boil.

Add green tabasco, vegan worcestershire, salsa verde, cut okra, mushrooms, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Boil for about 1/2 hour.

Add beans, green onions, collard greens, parsley and cilantro, and boil for another 20 minutes.

Turn down the heat to a simmer, and season with cumin, Creole seasoning, oregano, cayenne and onion powder. Add vegan "chicken", and allow the Gumbo/Chilli to simmer until vegan meats are fully cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in the file, corn meal and lemon juice, then cook and additional four minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve with rice.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Curry Pork, Enoki Mushroom and Purple Basil Potstickers with Porcini, Shiro, Sake, Brown Rice Vinegar Reduction

I never get sick. Maybe it's my Super Vegan Immune System or the 2+ bottles of Kombucha I drink daily, but illness does not cramp my style. Well, last week I had to change my "never" to "sometimes". For whatever reason, I fell terribly ill with the flu the day after Thanksgiving. For three days, I was bed-ridden, booger-crusted and just plain crabby. I blame it on one of two things, because I refuse to blame myself for lack of personal upkeep:

A) The ridiculous amount of Thanksgiving cooking I did for 10 people.
B) The fact that it actually feels like winter in Los Angeles, and it's FUCKING COLD.

Okay, it's not "Bitter East Coast Winter" cold, but it's damn near chilly for this part of the USA. At least I can bust out my plaid scarves.

In any event, I ate lots of soup, couldn't cook to save my life, and whined like a little bitch, and now I'm feeling much better.

I did make one terrible mistake in hopes of keeping myself occupied, though. I purchased The Sims 3. I've never divulged my former addiction to the EA Games phenomenon, but I was heavily hooked on The Sims in high school. It all started because my best friend's dad is somewhat of a computer program hacking pro. He had two computers in his office, and hooked us both up with a version of the game on each computer. It started as innocent fun, and quickly turned to a need for a 12 step group to help us de-value our virtual relationships with our Sims.

Instead of interacting with actual human beings on a Friday night, Amy and I would get stoned silly and play The Sims for hours on end. We'd exchange maybe 10 words, and demolish gigantic bags of Sour Patch Kids. Eventually, there was an intervention, and we were able to step away from the screen.

I thought I'd stepped away from the world of RPG games, scoffing at the World of Warcraft addicts. Well, I've fallen off the wagon. Not only will I Sim with a vengeance, but I've also taken quite a liking to FarmVille and Restaurant City on Facebook.

Let's just hope I find a job sooner than later.

Curry Pork, Enoki Mushroom and Purple Basil Potstickers with
Porcini, Shiro, Sake, Brown Rice Vinegar Reduction

For the Potstickers...
  • 1 batch Vegan Pork, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • 3.5 oz Enoki Mushrooms, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tightly packedcup of Purple Basil Leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of Green Cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 TBSP Salt
  • 1/4 cup Scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Leek, top removed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 TBSP Vegetable Oil
  • 1 TBSP Tamari
  • 1 TBSP Curry Powder
  • 1 TBSP Mirin
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely grated
  • 1 tsp fresh Ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp Dark Sesame Oil
  • 2 TBSP Chives, minced
  • Touch of Salt and Pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 1 package of Vegan Potsticker Wrappers
  • Vegetable Oil, enough for fry potstickers
  • 1/2 cup Hot No Chicken Broth (alternatively Vegetable Broth or Water), divided in half.
Purple (aka Opal) Basil
Chef's Note: You are going to need to grind the pork seitan shortly after it's finished cooking, so don't make it a day in advance if possible. Alternatively, you can buy packaged vegan chicken or beef instead of making seitan. Grind up as directed for the vegan pork.

Once the vegan pork has cooking, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon instead of draining off all the broth. Immediately place the pieces of pork seitan into a food processor, then pour 1 TBSP of the broth inside the food processor. Grind to the texture of ground beef, then place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Take your chopped cabbage, and place it in a large bowl. Sprinkle a 1/2 TBSP of salt over top, then let it stand for 1/2 hour while you prep the rest of your ingredients. After the cabbage has sat for 1/2 hour, use a cheesecloth, dishtowel or paper towels to drain as much liquid from the cabbage as possible. Set the drained cabbage aside to dry further.

Once the vegan pork is ground and all the ingredients are prepped, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add the vegan ground pork, enoki mushrooms, leek and scallions to the skillet, and saute for 3-4 minutes until the leeks are soft and translucent. Turn the heat down to medium low, then add cabbage and stir to combine. Add curry powder, tamari, garlic and ginger and ginger to the pan, stir will, then saute another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, add the purple basil, chives and sesame oil, then use your hands to combine completely. Taste for salt and pepper.

To assemble the potstickers, prepare a small bowl of water for moistening the wrappers. Take each wrapper, and lay it out on a flat surface. Place a small spoonful of the filling in the center of the wrapper....

Dip your finger in the bowl of water, then run your finger around the outside edge of HALF of the wrapper. Making sure that the wet and dry side don't meet yet, carefully fold the wrapper in half like a taco.

Start at one end, and carefully pinch the sides together. Work your way around to the other end, making sure the potsticker is completely airtight so that the filling remains inside. Repeat with each potsticker, then set aside with the "fold" side up so that the bottom becomes flat. Let sit until you're ready to cook them.

You can cook the potstickers one of several ways. I used the steam/pan fry method, but you can also feel free to use other methods:

1. Steam/Pan Fry:
Using a large skillet with a lid, pour in enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil over high heat until it's shining, then place enough potstickers in the pan so that it is filled, but not over crowded.

Add 1/4 cup of the No Chicken Broth (or veggie stock or water) to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, then cover with a lid. Allow them to cook for 4 minutes, then remove the lid and add an additional 1/4 cup of broth. Let the potstickers cook until the water fully evaporates. Once the water is evaporate, cool an additional minute, then remove from the pan and serve.

Repeat the process until all of the potstickers are cooked.

2. Deep Fry
Heat several inches of oil in a large stock pot or deep fryer until it registers 350 degrees F. Carefully drop the potstickers in the heated oil, then fry until golden brown (about 5-7 minutes). Carefully remove them with a mesh strainer or slotted spoon, then place on a towel to drain and cool. Serve.

3. Steaming
Using a rice cooker with a steamer basket, place about 2-3 cups of water (depending on the width of the pot) in the bottom of the rice cooker. Place the steamer basket over top of the water, then place enough potstickers in the basket so that it is full but the potstickers do not overlap. Turn the rice cooker to the "cook" setting, and let the potstickers steam for about 10-12 minutes, until cooked through. Be careful that the water doesn't fully evaporate.

Once the potstickers are done steaming, carefully remove the steamer basket then pour the remaining liquid in the cooking pot over top of them to help unstick.

Serve immediately.

For the Porcini, Shoyu and Sake Reduction
  • 1 handful of Dried Porcini Mushrooms
  • 1 cup Hot Water
  • 1/2 cup Shoyu
  • 1/2 cup Sake
  • 1/4 cup Brown Rice Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Mirin

Place the dried porcinis in a deep bowl, then the hot water over top of them. Use a heavy object to ensure that the porcinis are submerged in the hot water. Let the porcinis soak in the hot water for 1/2 hour.

Using a mesh strainer, place a bowl in your sink to catch the soaking liquid. Pour the porcinis over the strainer so that the soaking liquid pour into the bowl. You can save the porcinis for another recipe, or discard them.

Place the porcini soaking liquid, shoyu, sake, brown rice vinegar and mirin in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and allow it to boil until the mixture reduces by 2/3rds. Serve as a dipping sauce or drizzle over potstickers.