Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Tips & Tidbits

Here are some super easy, fresh and yumtastic meals I’ve been making this summer.

First off, here is my favorite favoritist breakfast of all time or yunno of the past few weeks: bagels and hummus with veggies! I like to get the Alvarado Street sprouted bagels, because they help me pretend this is a healthy meal. I slather them with my favorite hummus (spicy flavor is the best) add chopped veggies (tomato, cucumber, avocado) and salt and pepper. Then I stuff it all into my face (nom nom nom!). To pair, I would suggest a nice glass of orange juice or a soy latté, or if you’re having it for lunch, perhaps a cold beer would do the trick.

Next up is my recent go-to lazy day meal; Thai curry. You can buy vegan Thai curry paste at most stores. I use Thai Kitchen red curry paste. It says “vegan” right on the jar, so no need to worry about hidden ground up fishy bits! Yay! Take some tofu or seitan and whatever fresh veggies you have on hand. I had green beans, red bell peppers and mushrooms. Sauté them with oil, garlic, chili peppers and fresh ginger if you have it. Then simply mix the curry paste with coconut milk to your liking and pour it over your tofu and veggies. Allow all the flavors to combine while you boil up some rice or soba noodles. Dish up some of the noodles and pour your curry mixture on top and you have a delicious meal that didn’t hurt your brain to make! To pair, you might want a wine with a little bit of residual sugar, because the coconut milk is lightly sweet. I suggest a Viognier or a Riesling with just a touch of sugar.

As a bonus, here is some food porn of my vegan bake sale submission. These are the Vegan Joy of Baking oatmeal raisin cookies with lots of chocolate chips added. They sold out! Woohoo!

Also, from my recent trip to Orange County, here are two fantastic dishes from native foods. The Philly Peppersteak Sandwich and my personal favorite the Chicken Run Ranch Burger. God that stuff is good! (Please, please, please open a restaurant in SF!) I went there twice in one long weekend! We paired these with their delicious Native tea and their special summer Watermelon Agua Fresca. They told us this was super easy to make at home by combining watermelon, agave and some mint in a blender. This is the perfect summer drink!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Seitan is My Friend: Stuff I’ve Been Cookin’ up Lately

My bf recently had a birthday, and since I have no trabajo and am subsisting on unemployment, I decided to make him a fancy pantsy dinner instead of taking him out to a nice resto (Although I did consider going to the new Plant Café on the Embarcadero, would make a nice date spot, veggie kids!). I knew he liked seitan and asparagus, so that was my outline. As I contemplated the two ingredients, a recent conversation about the types of meat I once liked as an omni (Yes, I still remember.) popped into my head. One of my favorite things was Steak Oscar (steak with hollandaise sauce and asparagus), and I thought, why not try to reproduce that in an elegant veggie dinner?
I did this by using packaged White Wave seitan (this stuff is the bestest best pre-made seitan ever). For this, I sautéed some garlic and chili peppers in olive oil, added the seitan and seasoned with some herbs de provence, a little extra thyme and salt and pepper. I then sautéed the asparagus in EB until just barely tender and sprinkled it with salt and pepper and a splash of lemon. To round out the meal, I made lemony potatoes from Veganomicon (I seriously think it’s a requirement for boys to love potatoes). Lastly, I used the recipe for hollandaise from VeganYumYum with some extra EB and fresh parsley added, which was well, yummy, but not terribly hollandaisish. I plan to do some experimenting and come up with my own recipe at some point (I’m thinking possible avocado or coconut milk based). The end product was an elegant veg meal that the bf seemed to enjoy a lot.

We paired it with bubbly, of course. Champagne can be a great counter to rich foods, and it made a nice complement to all the citrus in the meal. It cuts through the fats and cleanses the palate, readying it for the next bite of food.

I thought I’d share some photos of variations of this meal I’ve made in the past. First off, this is a veggie tube sausage I grilled up with pre-packaged vegan white gravy with mushrooms added.

Here is a version with roasted broccolini, which is super easy. Just toss it with olive oil, chili peppers, garlic, salt and pepper and maybe some lemon and roast until tender at about 360 degrees. I also made some canned beans on the side that I gussied up with some extra spices and a splash of lemon. To add some starch, I made brown rice in veggie broth.

For pairing, seitan is a versatile food that, like tofu, takes on the flavors of the things you cook it with. Although it is often used in a similar manner to red meat, it doesn’t overwhelm white wines in the same way many red meats can, so go ahead pair it with a nice chilled white or bottle of sparkling. You might even go for a blanc de noirs with a bit of light fruit and mouth watering acid. These can make great summer deals, especially if you stick to $20 Cali versions.