Monday, July 21, 2008

Mythical Chickpea Cutlets of Glory

Yes, I made them; the infamous chickpea cutlets of Veganomicon! They were tasty, although they didn’t quite blow my mind the way they seemed to for other vegan kids. They tasted a bit wheaty, but when covered in a packet of golden vegan gravy (just add water on the stove), they were hearty and satisfying. For a little side dish, I sautéed some kale and mushrooms with onions, garlic, salt and pepper. I think next time, I might try running the chickpeas in a food processor, because they were also a bit chunky for my taste.

The best news is this is a red wine friendly meal. Don’t let people tell you vegan food is for white wine. They are ninnies! Yes, I used the world “ninny.” I would consider a European red wine with subtle tannins for this. Specifically, it could go nicely with a Montepulciano from Italy with a good amount of fruit and smooth tannins.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Guest Post from Julia in NYC

My lovely friend who lives in New York created a hardy salad with a combination of fresh and grilled veggies. If you want to make a salad that is filling and satisfying, adding grilled veggies is a great idea. Here is her description:

After catching up on Veganlush today, I felt inspired to create a meal that was both delicious and beautiful! My boyfriend went and got our CSA share today, so we had lots of fresh veggies. I made this awesome salad (and BF helped) with fresh lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, quinoa, grilled zucchini and shredded radish. Delicious! Everything was grown at an organic farm upstate except the tomatoes and quinoa. It was so pretty I had to take a picture and share it with you.

We paired this fresh salad with a glass of ice water to combat the ever-present heat, but I think it also would have been very nice with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or a light Chardonnay.

My Thoughts: I love that there is a Dunkin Donuts bag and other random stuff on the table, so NY! While salad doesn’t necessarily have to be paired with white wine, the hot weather in NYC, and the herbal quality of the veggies used in this dish call for it. A grassy Sauvignon Blanc would definitely hit the spot.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lush Chow Mein

I like to cook up an easy batch of chow mein from time to time when I have some good Asian greens like baby bok choy or cabbage. It’s so simple. In reality, I usually use buckwheat soba noodles, but you can use any noodles you like. First just sauté up your veggies of choice. I always start with a little bit of oil and a couple cloves of garlic, let the garlic cook for a minute, then add some onions and chili flakes. After that toss in all your veggies and some tofu. I had carrots, celery, and baby bok. Flavor the veggies with some Tamari (or soy sauce if you must) and/or Bragg’s amino acids. If that's just not enough salt, use some veggie broth or powdered veggie broth. Then add some spices to jazz it up. I used a bit of chili powder and lemon. You can also add ginger if you like the flavor.

For pairing, the light flavors in a veggie chow mein don’t like red wine! Stick with a softer white, maybe a subtly oaked Chardonnay, or if you’ve used a lot of lemon, you might want something more zippy like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Simply Elegant

This is a simple but elegant meal of roasted herbed tofu, asparagus, and potatoes. Roasting veggies is one of my favorite preparations, and it’s super easy. Just chop up your veggies toss them with olive oil and herbs (in this case herbs de province, salt, pepper, a bit of paprika), and roast them until golden and crispy. This is usually at about 450 degrees in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, depending on the veggie. Thinner asparagus will take less time, and so will thinly cut potatoes. You should stir them around with a spatula from time to time to make sure they cook evenly, and check whether they are done yet.

Most wine writers are frightened by asparagus, but the flavors in this meal are clean and savory, and I don’t think it’s too hard to pair. A dry Riesling would do nicely (that’s what we had), so might some California Sauvignon Blancs, or you could be adventurous and get an Albariño from Spain, known for their grassy characteristics.

Devil Cookies

So, I listened to the devil and made the chocolate cookies for the evil chocolate cookie frosting sandwiches I thought of. I had a little extra time one night and I busted out Isa’s recipe for chocolate-chocolate chip walnut cookies from Veganomicon. I didn’t have a bunch of stuff, including soy milk (for which I subbed half plain silk soy creamer and half hazelnut soy creamer, ‘cuz that’s just what I had), walnuts (for which I subbed more chocolate chips), canola oil (for which I subbed "vegetable" oil), or flax (for which I subbed nada). They still turned out great and made some ridiculously decadent cookie sandwiches! I know the photos aren’t the loveliest and neither are the cookies, but they were rich and sweet and very satisfying.

To pair, I would suggest a tall glass of cold soy milk. You would need a really sweet wine to stand up to this. Perhaps a Tawny Port with some nice caramel notes, but wow would that be a sugar rush!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pasta Party!

I decided to blow everyone’s socks off (that’s right I said it) at my book club this month, so I made a baked pasta dish with cashew cream topping. I apologize for the awful photo. I realize now it looked a lot more appealing on the plate! For the pasta I made my go-to arrabiata sauce that has just a hint of spice. It’s trés simple, considering the delicious results you get. I just start with a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, add a few cloves of garlic (crushed and chopped) and about a teaspoon of chili peppers. Next I add the sauce and let it simmer for about a half hour. Approximately fifteen minutes in, you can add any veggies that suit your fancy. I used mushrooms and spinach in this. Olives work well too. I spread that out in a pan and topped it with cashew cream (blended up cashews with some water, lemon juice and in this case fresh basil, salt and pepper). I got the idea from Vegan Yum Yum (those peeps are genius!). Then I baked it at 350 for about a half hour, just until the pasta seemed nice and heated through. My friend made a super easy garlic bread for this. She spread Earth blance on a crusty bread, then spread chopped up garlic on it and baked it for about 10 minutes.

A few nights later I made some marinara from a mirepoix base. Mirepoix is just onions, carrots, and celery in a 2:1:1 proportion. You have to be sure to chop up the veggies really small for this sauce, then coat them in as much crushed or pureed tomatoes as you want and cook for about a half hour. I’m not too precise about pasta, because it usually turns out well no matter what you do.

To pair with these recipes, I would definitely consider two different wines. With the baked pasta, go with something acidic enough to stand up to red sauce, but also something earthy enough to match the cashew cream. A fruity youngish California Cab might work or you might want to go to France and try a Côte du Rhône wine. For the mirepoix sauce, I would stick to tradition and go with a Chianti. Chiantis are ideal for red sauce, because they have the acidity to stand up to the tomatoes. I’m not usually a traditionalist when it comes to pairings. I don’t think you need to have a German wine with German food, or sake with Japanese food, etc. I think it’s all about flavor, but marinara is one of those things where you just can’t go wrong with a good Italian wine.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wakey Wakey

I am not a morning person. I usually hit snooze four of five times, then force myself out of bed for a bowl of cereal with soy milk and a glass of bottled orange juice, but one thing that can get me going, especially when I have some time on the weekends is a good tofu scramble. My methodology is pretty simple. I start with a little bit of oil in a pan, then add garlic, onion and usually some chili peppers. Then I chop up some plain firm tofu into tiny little squares (For some reason I usually don’t use the squish method; maybe it’s the dirty hands.), and I dice up whatever veggies I have in my fridge and add them in order of whichever will take the longest to cook. I try to add veggies that complement each other, of course. This one happened to have asparagus, mushrooms and tomatoes. If it’s that sort of combination, I usually call it garden vegetable scramble and add Herbs de Provence (my favorite spice combo), some braggs, and maybe a little extra garlic powder, et voila; a lovely tofu scramble is born. For a variation, I will sometimes use more Mexican friendly veggies, add black beans and Mexican spices and serve with tortillas. For this version, I toast some bread with Earth balance.

To pair with this weekend brunch, I made fresh squeezed orange juice. We happened to have a lot of oranges and a brand spankin new juicer to work with. You also can’t go wrong with mimosas for brunch (unless of course you drink way too many and are useless for the rest of the day… not that I’ve ever done that.)