March 2009

Well, one thing is done and over with.  Come this late-summer I’ll be living in Roanoke, Virginia and working towards my MFA in poetry at Hollins University.  Hollins was one of my top two choices and it ended up being my only choice (this is not the best year to try to get a graduate degree or a job, money anywhere is few and far between), but I think I’ll be happy there.  I first thought about attending Hollins for my undergraduate degree, but the school was a bit too conservative (everyone wore pearls, everyone!), so I nixed it off my list.  I then discovered Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and fell in love with the muskrats and frogs and mountains described in her beautiful philosophical nature-writing text.  I definitely plan on finding her muskrats as soon as I can once I move up there.  All in all, I’m excited.  I would have loved to have gone to UNC Greensboro and worked with Stuart Dischell and Jennifer Groatz, but the chance to work with Eric Trethewey (Natasha Trethewey’s father) and Thorpe Moeckel will be amazing.  As nature-obsessed poets, I know I’ll learn a lot from them.  So hooray, one piece of my life is decided!

Another major piece of my life (well, since I read about it over at Smitten Kitchen) was successfully completed on Saturday morning: veganizing Deb’s migas with tomato-chipotle coulis.  Eggs & chorizo?  No problemo.  The recipe is really quite simple.  It seems a bit daunting, but even making my own homemade tortilla chips was quite easy, given my mother’s awesome 1970s Fry Daddy that I stole from her the last time I was at her house.  Seriously, the seventies brought so many wonderful, strange things to home-kitchens everywhere!

I substituted one recipe of scrambled tofu for the eggs, Trader Joe’s soyrizo for the chorizo (I wish I’d had time to make my own, like my chorico), and the rest of it was the same as the original recipe.  And most seriously, make your own tortilla chips if you can.  It’s worth it for the satisfying, salty, thick crunch of freshly fried corn tortillas.  So so so good.  All of my omni-friends loved the recipe, and while it might have been a bit hot for some, I thought the heat level was perfect.  I love me a good chipotle recipe!

Migas with Tomato-Chipotle Coulis

To make the tortilla chips:

Take 10 6 or 8″ round corn tortillas and cut into 8 triangles.  Heat up 1/2″ of vegetable oil in a pan.  Once the oil is hot, drop in 5 or 6 triangles at a time and fry until the chips become hard and golden.  Transfer the fried chips to a paper bag and salt.  (The paper soaks up the excess oil.)

To make the Tomato-Chipotle Coulis:

2 large, round tomatoes or best available
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 white or Spanish onion, minced
1 chipotle en adobo, from a can (use 1/2 if you’re not a big fan of hot, spicy food)
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Puree all of the above in a blender jar. Heat a sauce pan over high heat. Add oil to coat. Once the oil it hot, add the sauce. Cook for 15 minutes or so and season to taste.

For the Migas:

2 links Trader Joe’s soyrizo
1 recipe scrambled tofu (I used Isa’s)
2 tbsp oil
20 corn tortilla chips, preferably fresh
Fresh cilantro for garnish

First, start the scrambled tofu.  Mince 1 onion and cook in 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet (5-7 minutes).  Once the onion is tender and translucent, add 2 minced cloves of garlic.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add a spice blend of 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp tumeric, 1 tsp salt.  Cook for one minute.  Crumble 1 lb of extra-firm tofu into the onion-spice blend and cook for 15-20 minutes over medium-high, or until the tofu is firm and ready to eat.

Next, add the soyrizo.  Stir the soyrizo into the tofu and add 1 tbsp oil.  Cook for 5 minutes or until the soyrizo has absorbed the oil and is cooked through.  Add the chips to the mixture and break them up slightly.  Cook for 1 more minute.

Set up four plates for serving. Ladle some coulis in the bottom of each dish, top with some of the tofu/soyrizo and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve immediately.

Oh my lord, did you miss me? I missed you guys, that much is for sure! Since my last post I have finished my thesis (during spring break, I pretty much just spring thesised), celebrated the long-awaited US release of The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume I, grew another year older (I won’t bore you with the age or make you feel any older than you are!), ate some great vegan food in Asheville (dinner at Rosetta’s, organic beer at Pisgah Brewery, brunch at Over Easy,), and have eaten a ton of hummus on corn tortillas to get through the days.

I’m not quite up to speed with life, but I wanted you all to know that I’m still around and I’m about to get back into commenting like a mad woman. For the meantime, enjoy this salivating picture of Vegan Dad’s Vegan Reuben Sandwich.

The poet’s favorite food-thing, besides a good po’boy, is a Reuben sandwich. So for St. Paddy’s Day I decided to make him a vegan version. Vegan Dad’s recipe was super simple and easy and, according to my meat-eating friends and poet, tasted pretty darn close to the real deal. Whether the meat is authentic or not, it sure tasted good! I have a thing for sauerkraut, so the whole ensemble, vegan Thousand Island Dressing and sauerkraut, gets major points in my book. After I ran out of “corned beef,” I used Kittee’s gluten log with spectacular results. Vegan mayo+sauerkraut+”meat”+pumpernickel or rye bread=heaven.

I’ll be back soon with recipes on a regular basis, but I think I need to get through figuring out where I’m going to grad school (my deadline is this Saturday, eep) and defending my thesis (next Tuesday morning) first. You know, all those little details in my life at the moment. (smile)

P.S. Ricki, over at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs is giving away maple syrup and a cake in honor of her new blog home!  Go check it out and enter the contest!

I haven’t baked anything interesting in awhile, but given that the poet is out of town and it’s the start of my spring break, I decided to go all out. I’m also celebrating going to graduate school for sure (just got accepted to Hollins University’s MFA with a full tuition waiver and a full stipend), and although I’m not certain I’ll end up at Hollins (still waiting to hear back from the other programs I applied to), it’s certainly a reason to celebrate!

When Peabody posted a recipe for Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies I knew I had to make a vegan version. I’ve never been too good at making brownies–I always make the batter too oily or too thin or too thick, but I decided to try my hand at it again. I tweaked the Joy of Vegan Baking’s recipe and Peabody’s enough that I feel fine posting it here.

These brownies are killer. They are a serious indulgence. And I plan on making them again. Dark, moist, not too sugary, definitely Kahluaey, they define everything I’d ever want a brownie to be. I can’t wait to get back to my house after work tonight to eat another!

Kahlua Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

For the brownies:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup apple butter
2 tbsp water
2 tsp flax seeds, ground
1/2 cup water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

For the Kahlua Cream Cheese Swirl:
4 oz vegan cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp Earth Balance, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp apple butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp Kahlua liquor

For the glaze:
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tbsp Kahlua
soy milk to thin out (if needed, amount will vary)

Preheat the oven to 350. Oil a 9×13 pan.

In a medium bowl, cream the vegan cream cheese, Earth Balance, and sugar with a hand-held mixer (or use an upright one, if you have it). Add the flour, apple butter, and Kahlua. Once smooth, set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the sugar and apple butter. Add the ground flax seeds, water, and vanilla. Once combined, add the remaining 1/2 cup of water. Slowly stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Once the batter is smooth, stir in the chocolate chips.

With a spatula, spread the brownie batter evenly in the pan. Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownies. Use a knife to swirl the cream cheese into the brownies.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Let the brownies cool for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar and Kahlua together. If the glaze is really thick, thin with soy milk. Using a pasty brush, brush the glaze over the cooled brownies.

Allow to cool another 15 minutes, then slice and serve!

Confession: Besides the fact that I’m a vegan who drinks Guinness (and other non-vegetarian beer, wine, and liquor), I also hate salad.  Seriously.  I abhor it.  Sure, I’ll choke it down when I have to, and I’ve been known to survive on mostly salad when in South Georgia where the concept of non-meat-infused vegetables is foreign, but I really really hate it.  Salad dressing has never cried out to me, lettuce gives me the shakes, and raw veggies just don’t turn me on.

In my meat eating days, I could be convinced to eat a chicken Caesar salad…but since Caesar salad dressing isn’t vegetarian I’ve had to swear off of that (and I’ve been too lazy to make V’Con’s recipe).  Which left me with Italian vinaigrette or some other bland form of lettuce enhancer.  The day I met Soul Veg’s house salad dressing, everything changed.  Radically different than anything I’d had before, their tahini, lemony, misoey, I have no idea what is in it awesomeness was so delicious that I wanted a salad.  I wanted a big salad!  I wanted lettuce and sprouts and whatever else comes on salads!  (Well, minus cucumbers.  Shudder.)  Recreating their dressing has proved problematic, however, and even though I said the tahini dressing was good, I gave it to the poet, because, really, it wasn’t my cup of tea.

When Ricki of Diet, Dessert, and Dogs posted her anti-candida bowls of love yesterday, the sauces called out to me.  They cried make me, put me on that hunk of romaine lettuce you have sitting in your fridge, slurp me up with croûtons and greens, cherish me! Ok, well maybe not that tahinily, but every single recipe looks killer.

Thus the Tahini-Miso Salad Dressing Sauce was born at 4:15 pm today in my blender.  I followed the directions exactly, no substitutions, and the result was out-of-this-world.  Sweet and tangy, with a ginger bite, this sauce is the perfect addition to any tofu, tempeh, bowl of grain, salad, whatever you want to put dressing on.  To point out how good it is, I just licked my bowl clean.  For reals.  Ricki calls it “light and tangy,” but I simply call it damn good.  I mean, it made me like a salad!  Ricki, you might have just made my life a little more delicious and a lot more healthy!  So thank you Ricki for saving my salad-less lifestyle, and thank you head of romaine lettuce for staying fresh in my crisper.  Personally, I can’t wait to try the Orange Fig Sauce next!

Tahini-Miso Salad Dressing Sauce

from Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs

2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
1 Tbsp tamari/Bragg’s Amino Acids
2 tsp pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
1 Tbsp light miso
2 Tbsp water

Combine all ingredients in a blender and whir until smooth.

**Warning: this recipe is neither low-fat nor healthy.  In fact, it is the antithesis of good-for-you.  However, it is the most ingenious way to fight cold weather and winter-time blues.  Besides, no one is putting on a bikini any time soon, right?**

**Oh, and I’m aware that Guinness isn’t vegan, I should have mentioned that.  I’m one of those people who just isn’t willing to give up alcohol for the cause.  However, I’m sure there are vegan stouts out there that would be 100% acceptable if you so desire!**

I like a challenge. So when Sam Sifton of the New York times posted an article and recipe on British meat pies, I knew I needed to make one. You might be saying “hold on Jes, aren’t meat pies…well, made of meat?” Verily. But I never let main ingredients stop me from veganizing things that should probably never be veganized. Can anyone say crepe cake? Thankfully this one didn’t take quite as long as the crepe cake and thankfully the result was just as tasty (in a savory kind of way).

Sam describes the pie as follows:

But let us stipulate right from the start: meat pie for our ­purposes today is beef in dark, silky gravy composed of fat and reduced stout, flecked with tender vegetables, covered (if not encased) in pastry, served alongside peas and, perhaps, mashed potatoes. Cooked on a dark February afternoon as low clouds scud across a distant horizon, meat pie will fill your home with good cheer and the promise of contentment across the table at dinner. Eating it — salty and rich, buttoned with sweetness — will occasion thoughts of a coming walk or a nap on the couch with the dog, in equal measure. You’ll want some red wine to drink.

I’ll redescribe the original recipe: beef, trotter gear, suet, beef fat, beer.

Ew. My take includes seitan, veggies, and Guinness simmered down to malty perfection, topped with a flaky pastry crust.  Sounds tempting right? The consensus is that I need to start a vegan gastropub and this meat pie ought to be on the menu. I could go with that. If I didn’t have to work ridiculously long hours for no pay, that is. For now, I’ll stick with this pie, warm slippers, and a cat on my lap. And trust me, I’m dreaming of the day when Spring finally comes and flavorful, colorful vegetables are an option!

Guinness Pie

Adapted from the New York Times

For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) very cold Earth Balance, diced

For the filling:
4 tbsp olive oil
2 large red onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
10 mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1/2 recipe of Kittee’s basic gluten log, chopped into bite-size pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 sprig rosemary
About 4 cups (2 cans) Guinness or other stout

To prepare the pastry:
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, quickly work the Earth Balance into the dough until it is the texture of coarse meal. Add ice water, a splash at a time, until a firm dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To prepare the filling:
While the pastry is cooling in the fridge, cook the onions in 2 tbsp olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are dark in color and the moisture released by them has evaporated, about 15 minutes.

Add the seitan, flour and rosemary to the pan and cook over high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.

Add enough Guinness to just cover the setian. Cover the pot with a lid, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer the Guinness for 1 hour. Stir occasionally. After 1 hour, remove the lid and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the liquid has reduced.

To assemble:
Remove the pastry from the fridge and place it two sheets of plastic wrap and. Using a rolling pin, roll to the thickness of a computer mouse pad. Pour the stew into an 8-inch-square, 2-inch-high Pyrex dish or a deep 9-inch pie pan. Place the dough on top of the pie and pinch it closed around the edges using the tines of a fork, then slash the center lightly with a knife.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until the pastry is puffy and golden.