Tag Archives: vegan

Roasted Cauliflower – Too Delicious to Ignore

Roasting cauliflower is akin to transforming an unappreciated commoner like Eliza Dolittle into an empress. Perhaps I should mention that I never had anything against cauliflower – I just never sought it out before now.

I happened to somehow end up with three or four cauliflower at once – so…what to do? Yes, why not try roasting? Brings out the sweetness of the vegetable and gives it a great texture. Yummy, yummy. I’ve decided it will be a non-guilty pleasure, what with the all vitamin C and other nutritional goodness it represents as a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables.

cauliflower slathered in olive oil and salt

on the grill/cookie sheet

roasted cauliflower

Ingredients/Tools:

  1. 2 cauliflowers;
  2. approximately 1/4 cup of oil;
  3. salt;
  4. mixing bowl/zippered plastic bag; and
  5. toaster oven.

Directions:

  1. Set your toaster oven to broil. While that’s getting hot, get into the prep.
  2. Break off the cauliflower florets and slice the largest into quarters, cross-wise.
  3. Pour some oil into the zippered bag, then add 2 teaspoons of salt.
  4. Add the florets and shake the bag! Cover all the florets with this oil mixture.
  5. Pop the cauliflower pieces into the toaster oven. (I did this in 2 batches, 30 minutes apiece).

It’s so easy. What about sauces? I was thinking about glazing the cauliflower with some miso butter – haven’t gotten around to doing that, mostly eating it just roasted. Squeezed some home-grown lemons (gift from a friend) onto the roasted cauliflowers with some dashes of soy sauce – worked great!

Low-Carb Experiment #1: Tofu Bok Choy Hot Salad

Is there anything good about carbs? Results from a recent study suggest that a low-carb diet may be better for your heart than a low-fat diet. I guess you need them at times for quick energy…but last time I checked, my work tends to be about sitting at a desk, and less about running after animals or other more athletic pursuits. So, I’m eating fewer carbs.

One of my favorite preparations of tofu, yudofu,  is nearly zero preparation at all: slice a tofu cake into large-ish pieces; simmer in some water* to soften; serve with rice and garnishes of katsuobushi, sliced green onions, and soy sauce. That’s it! I love the simple, beany flavor of the tofu that is inexplicably sturdy enough to stand up to these aggressive garnishes. Hint: make sure you really like the tofu you are using, because you definitely be tasting it. This is not a matter of hiding or camouflaging it!

That spirit of simplicity made me think of eating tofu with gingery bok choy. Mainly because I bought a ton of baby bok choy and tofu in the fridge. I’m going to call this a hot salad.

Hot Tofu and Bok Choy Salad**


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of baby bok choy, sliced into halves; (about $.85, since it was $1.69/ lb at ye olde Ranch 99 Market);
  • 1/2 cake of tofu, torn into large pieces; (about $.45 at $.89 for 1 cake);
  • 1/2 cubic inch of ginger sliced into matchsticks (pennies, $1.59/lb);
  • soy sauce (pennies); and
  • vegetable oil.

(total cost per serving: .45 + .85 + miscellaneous pennies for soy sauce and ginger = 1.30 + X = under $1.50 per serving.)

The baby bok choy cook very quickly. Wash them. Halve them. Heat up a skillet. Slice the ginger into small, matchstick-like pieces. Once the skillet is medium hot, throw 1 teaspoon of veggie oil in the middle of the skillet. Spread the oil by lifting and angling the pan (or just smearing the oil with a bit of paper towel). Throw the sliced ginger into it. (I always love the smell of frying ginger!) Let the ginger cook for about 2 minutes, flipping it with a spatula a few times. This will infuse the oil with the fabulousness of the ginger. Throw the baby bok choy into the skillet. It will wilt immediately. Cover the skillet with a lid, and turn off the heat. You are basically steaming the veggies.

Next, open a package of medium-firm tofu. Tear the tofu with your hands, into large-ish pieces. I just like the way the torn tofu looks for this dish…you can of course cut it into cubes. Put the tofu on a plate and…microwave it! Yes, I said, microwave it – it’s already cooked, so it’s now just a matter of heating it up. This prep is the ultimate in laziness! Depending on the strength of your microwave, this might be for 1 minute to 90 seconds. Ladle the bok choy, with whatever gingery-liquids that developed in the skillet, onto the tofu. Drizzle generous amounts of soy sauce. Done.

When I ate this, I felt strangely satisfied. It’s very plain, but for me, tofu is a comfort food. Can’t get much simpler than this!

* I guess some use dashi – but I’m accustomed simmering it in plain old water.

** If there is such a thing as a roast beef salad, I think I can name this a salad too. The word “salad” is rooted in the use of salt to flavor veggies.

Holiday-Friendly Recipes + Umeshu-kan (Japanese vegan jello shot)

Cream Puff

Just thought I’d round up some holiday-friendly recipes before the Thanksgiving whirlwind (recipes from this blog and tasty-looking recipes from other bloggers).

Note – The holidays are probably not the time you want to experiment with recipes you haven’t mastered, but it can be nice to try out new things!

make ahead dishes, for the day or two before

oven multi-tasking

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Umeshu-kan

Umeshu-kan mise en place

Umeshu-kan

I have read about people using umeshu (Japanese plum wine) to make kanten desserts. It went on sale the other week, so I pounced on it! It’s been many, many, many years since I’ve had umeshu. I quite forgot that it is VERY potent, like any other fruit-based liquer.

I made a very small amount of umeshu-kan, just enough to test. I’ve never had a Jello Shot, but I think it’s similar…except that it’s fancy and delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup boiling water;
  • 1/2 cup of umeshu;
  • 1″ x 2″ rectangle of agar-agar if using the sheet form (least expensive form of agar-agar).

I poured out all of the boiling water into a large mug, then returned 1/4 cup to the saucepot. I threw in the agar-agar, making sure it really melted all the way. Then I added the umeshu, let it heat up, and put it in a mold. I let it set in the fridge for about 1.5 hr. It was ready for eating. So I and my taste testers sample it. It was SO good. But I could not have very much of it because of the potency (made with distilled liquor!). Very good with a big cup of black tea.

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Container Gardening Update

My two first broccoli rapa (container-grown). They were delish!

in the container

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Mango Kanten

I am falling in love with kanten all over again. Summer = = cool, fruity desserts. Like mango kanten! Sometimes mango kanten comes out like this:

Mango No Kantent (mango pudding)

And that’s fine. It’s actually quite pudding-like. But, I kinda like it to be firmer, more like yokan.*

Mango Kanten

  • 1 can of sweetened mango puree ($3.49 for 30 oz – I used Ashoka, a brand sold in Indian markets);
  • 2 cups of water;
  • 4 grams of powdered kanten (about $.50 worth);
  • sugar to taste (optional); and
  • lime slices (optional).

Boil the water. Add the puree. Mix, mix, mix. Once the temperature rises again to barely a simmer, add the powder. Mix, mix, mix. You want to avoid lumping! Taste it. Add sugar/sweetener if necessary. Pour into a 9″ pie plate (it will just barely fit). Let it cool to room temperature. Then cover with wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Cut it into squares and serve. Makes a lot…at least eight or nine servings (turns out to be about $.50 per serving or less). Squeeze a bit of lime if you have it – I kinda like the contrast with the dense mango flavor.

*One of these days, I will have to make a tea-flavored yokan (photo displayed here by kind permission of ya ma):

P.S. I had no idea that people prepare kanten in Mumbai…interesting!

P.P.S. Here is some gratuitous food porn, of castella (fantabulous Japanese dessert by way of the Portuguese):

It’s something you can enjoy even if it’s cold and gloomy out!

I love sweets, but, I don’t make very many…I guess I’m trying to be more daring about my desserts! So, here are some other recipes I’ve blogged about that are perfect for you if you are a novice like me:

My Mom’s Kohi Kanten – Coffee Pudding (Vegan – and about $.10 per serving!)

Kanten…so many reasons I love it:

  1. it’s a naturally ZERO calorie food. That’s right. I said, ZERO!
  2. it’s filling and yet not wiggly-jiggly (unlike gelatin);
  3. even the laziest prep yields yummilicious results; and
  4. I grew up eating it!

Below is a picture of agar agar in stick form.

At any Asian market you can find premixed packets of almond kanten for less than 2 or 3 dollars – really tasty with even the least interesting fruit cocktail. Growing up, we had that all the time. Perfect summertime dessert. Nice and cool! But avoid buying agar agar at Whole Foods. I have seen the Eden versions for almost 6 dollars!!! You should be able to buy the stick agar agar for $2.00 or less per 10 grams (.35 oz). the urban vegan recommends buying the stick format and sticking the sticks into the food processor to make flakes.* I’m used to the stick forms, but, I think this is a great tip for people accustomed to the flake format. Also, people can get quite glamorous with agar agar (also known as kanten in Japanese). I am stockpiling ideas for what do with it. And coffee kanten is a classic (kohi = coffee in Japanese). So here it is!

Mom’s Kohi Kanten

  • 2 cups of boiling coffee – sweeten to taste (pennies);
  • 5 grams of powdered agar agar (about 1/2 of a stick of agar agar – about $.50 worth); and
  • coconut milk – this is optional (about 10 teaspoons – roughly 1/4th of a 13 oz can – $1.59 = $.40 cents worth).

Dissolve the agar agar in the boiling hot coffee in a saucepot. Mix mix mix. Add your sweetener. Mix. Pour the piping hot mixture into a pie plate. Alright, just cover and chill it for about 2 hours. Done. It’s traditional to cut it into squares (as you see above). Splash on a teaspoon of coconut milk per serving. If you have them around, put a roasted coffee bean on top. Makes eight~ ten servings, depending on the size (less than $.10 per serving – half of that if you do not use the coconut milk of course). Be sure to have this with some lovely tea!

(you can also cool it into cute little cups for individual servings)

* the urban vegan’s post is actually VERY helpful for gaining a good understanding of agar agar. Read it and let the erudition flow!

P.S. I don’t really follow diet news, so, maybe someone can tell me if there are any standards for what is “low-carb”? My very casual research shows me that the FDA hasn’t made a decision yet, but, I’m guessing that might not be the latest info.

Update: VegCookingBlog, thanks for linking to this post! My stats are blowing up 🙂 !!!! I’ve also written a post on making Mango Kanten.

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Housekeeping notes:

(1) I’ve added a “Tips” page to the blog to park handy things I learn about (and/or blog about). For example, last week, limes went on sale – 10 for a dollar. So…I’m not going to use ten in a given week…and they don’t last forever…but they can last longer if you slice them and freeze them. Like so:

Might be better to peel skin off – haven’t tried it that way yet. Works grrrrreat in iced tea. (This is a tip contributed by my mom.)

(2) Not sure why, but Feedburner sent off an old post (from April ’07) on May 10. It wasn’t my doing! I’ll try to find out why that happened.

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

Only for people who want a high fiber, high protein, insanely delicious and cheap snack. Or if you want to get major props. Because people will like them. They will disappear like nobody’s business. And they are way more exciting than popcorn! Since I have that 2kg bag of dried chickpeas, I thought I should find a way to enjoy them. Many, many, many, many, many people love roasted, spicy chickpeas. “Addictive” is the perfect word to describe them. I had no idea. But now I know, and I can never be the same. I encourage you to go forth and seek chickpeas!

Roasted Spicy Chickpeas

  • 1 lb cooked chickpeas(about $.30 cents worth of dried, cooked chickpeas – 1/2 lb or less) ;
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (likely any type of oil would suffice – pennies); and
  • 2 ~ 2 & 1/2tablespoons of seasoning (I used a mixture of Pappy’s and dried cilantro (coriander) – pennies).

Um…but…it’s complicated…first you have to turn on the oven, to about 400…then you have to mix the cooked chickpeas (which you have patted dry) with spices and olive oil…then you pour the beans in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Whew! It’s a lot to think about, but, you can do it! When’s the last time a 3-step recipe yielded you insanely gratifying results?

P.S. Even before roasting, as seen below, they tasted pretty good! But the popular vote was to try roasting…and a good thing was rendered into the hallowed dimensions of fabulousness.

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Other DWTS recipes involving chickpeas (both very inexpensive to prepare – less than $1.00 per serving):

Chana Masala (Chole) and
Madras Chicken Curry.

Subversive Peanut Butter Cinnamon Chickpea Fudge (under $.03 per serving)

Sssssh. I have a secret. Dessert can be nutritious. And, in the old countries, it frequently is. Recipes for yōkan, burfi, and halva routinely use beans, sesame seeds, and even carrots to establish foundations for sweets. They are dense dessert formats, just like fudge.

And what if such a dessert were to be made of chickpeas? Well, one cup of these yields more than 20% of your Recommended Daily Value of folate, vitamins B6, C, and zinc. That means these beans might be good for you. Let me say right now, I don’t know much in the way of desserts.* This was a total experiment. But I really liked how it worked out. And you won’t even have to trick anyone into eating their veggies for this sweet. (I frown upon that sort of trickery!!!)

Peanut Butter Chickpea Fudge

  • 4 cups of hot, cooked chickpeas** (about 1.5 cup of dry chickpeas, about $.60 worth);
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar (less than $.10);
  • 5 tablespoons of unadulterated creamy peanut butter (about $.50 worth);
  • 3 tablespoons of cinnamon ($.20? unknown***);
  • water; and
  • cookie sheet.

Basically, I just pureed the chickpeas with a little bit of water immediately after cooking them to make a paste with the peanut butter. I realize now that it would have been much easier to add the sugar/cinnamon/coffee first to water, then the peanut butter, and then adding that to the chickpeas. It should end up being thicker than peanut butter – very thick – and just wet enough to incorporate everything into the chickpea puree. The amount of water will vary with the moisture left in the chickpeas after draining of course.

Grease a cookie sheet, and spread the mixture with a spatula. I actually put them on a piece of waxed paper laid inside the cookie sheet, and this was fine…but it would have worked better if I had greased it first – later I had to absolutely pry them off that paper. I put them in an oven that I preheated to 425, for about 1/2 hour. Makes about 50 approximately 3/4″ x 2″ pieces (covers 1 cookie sheet fully) for less than $.03 a piece (as in, makes $1.40 divided by 50 = $.028).

Let these cool before eating. They will taste sweeter. The pizza wheel was very handy for cutting these, by the way. The peanut butter and cinnamon stand up and shout, which is just what I like. It freezes like a champ. I absolutely adored having this with my lunch the other day. They are a little bit moist, and very crumbly. (Update: likely a more experienced baker would add some sort of binder, like cornstarch, to render less breakable. But not me!) It’s perfect to have with a cup of strong tea, after popping a frozen one in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.

* Hm, I know how to make apple pie, pumpkin pie, flan, cranberry fruit salad, and tropical fruit salad from scratch…and now this! Cake mixes doesn’t count!

** Canned chickpeas will add saltiness.

***You can get a big bottle of cinnamon powder for $1.00 at some dollar stores, according to one of my friends who bought a lot of her spices that way.