Archive for the ‘Vegan’ Category

Rainy Day Soup

In Asian, Vegan on December 23, 2009 at 4:28 pm

At this point Christmas could go either way: rainy or snowy. Today — T-2 days before my entire extended family converges on the former home of my paternal grandparents (what is now my aunt’s home) — rain is a constant, and snow is in the forecast. There, we’ll exchange inexpensive novelty gifts (I’ll be giving away a book entitled Pilates for Men to some unsuspecting couch-bound relative) and baked goods (homemade cinnamon bread and chocolate crinkle cookies are the annual favorites).

For the moment, however, the sky is overcast and weepy, and I have very little desire to leave the comfy seclusion of my warm, dry home. And, after having already had my fill of baked seasonal favorites (both the sweet and savory varieties), I’m craving the crisp bite of fresh vegetables.

This rainy day soup is full of colorful vegetables — carrots, mushrooms, snow peas, and bok choy.  Wheat noodles and whole-grain tempeh drowned in a rich, steamy sesame-infused broth give the soup a certain heartiness that perfectly combats the chill of the weather. And, with a generous amount of fresh ginger, it tastes  very seasonal, too — albeit somewhat unconventionally so.

A while back I typed up the recipe, and have kept it in pdf form; that recipe can be downloaded here: Esculency Rainy Day Soup.

Rainy Day Soup Bowl


Turkish Fig and Pecan Coffee Cake

In Baking, Cake, Vegan on December 14, 2009 at 8:03 pm

empty espresso cupAlthough I enjoy baking, I don’t often bake sweets. Mostly it boils down to a desire to avoid the guilt that inevitably stems from having inhaled half a dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies or polished off two or three pieces of fresh peach and cherry pie in a single go.

You see, I love good food — all varieties of it. But sweets are my Achilles’ heel.

Even though I don’t tend to stock up on sweets, believe me, I eat them. And I certainly don’t lead an ascetic life of denial — particularly during this time of year, when the weather has turned chilly and all of the local coffee shops start peddling their own competing versions of the gingerbread latte. Admittedly, I can easily bypass sugary coffee drinks. (I prefer coffee black and unadulterated, and espresso strong, with just the slightest hint of demarera). What these commercial concoctions do leave me craving are flavors such as cinnamon and spice — albeit in a different, more substantial form.

And yesterday was a day in which I found myself doing just that — that is, craving the sweet and spicy flavors that have come to define the gastronomie of the winter season. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any ginger on hand — nor did I have any brown sugar. So, foregoing anything gingery, I settled on a recipe for a cinnamon-rich, ultra crumbly coffee cake. And although the recipe calls for brown sugar, I made up some of my own using baker’s sugar, a little molasses, and this recipe. To put my own personalized spin on the cake I decided to throw into the mix some dried Turkish figs and pecan pieces that I had on hand.

It was a day of slowly making my way through the Sunday paper, drinking cup after cup of coffee, and indulging in this coffee cake — which had managed to become my main source of sustenance by the day’s end.

coffee cake

Coffee Cake with Turkish Figs and Pecans

(This recipe is an adaptation of one that appears in Vegan Brunch).

The ingredients:

For the topping:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 – 4 tablespoons canola oil

2 – 3 tablespoons Earth Balance (or salted butter substitute), melted

For the middle layer:

1 cup of finely chopped dried Turkish figs

1/2 cup pecan pieces

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons brown sugar

For the cake:

3/4 cup soy milk (other nondairy milks also work fine as a substitute)

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

The how-to:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch pan.

Begin by measuring out and combining the milk and vinegar. Set aside and allow to curdle while preparing the topping.

To make the topping, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Drizzle in approximately 2 tablespoons of canola oil and two tablespoons of the melted butter. The addition of the salted butter gives the topping a slightly richer salty-and-sweet taste than using canola oil alone. Combine until crumbs begin to form. Then continue to add either canola oil or butter (or both) until the fat is mixed in completely, and the final result contains mostly large crumbs. Note: A bit of remaining sandiness is not a problem, as long as most of the mixture has taken on the form of large crumbs. Set the mixture aside.

For the middle layer, using your hands combine the chopped figs, pecan pieces, cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

To make the cake:  Mix together the milk + vinegar mixture, sugar, canola oil, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Then sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until smooth.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Next, evenly sprinkle the combined middle layer ingredients over the batter.  Finally, sprinkle on the topping evenly and then pat down gently. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let cool and enjoy with a strong cup of hot coffee.

Friday Fotos: Fiery Red Curry

In Asian, Friday Fotos, Rice, Vegan on December 11, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Fotos: Either the phonetic of photos, or a tribute to the Dutch spelling of the term (perhaps a remnant leftover from having accumulated a couple of years living in the Netherlands prior to moving back to the US). In either case, Fridays on Esculency will be devoted to images related to food, and the rituals surrounding its creation and consumption. Truth is, I love taking pictures of the good food experiences I’ve had — for me they always conjure what’s really going on behind the scenes. That is, a lot of delectable conversation and the simple, singular pleasure that is taken from sharing a meal and its preparation.

Red Curry

This first installment features an extremely spicy red curry that was thrown together for a quick weeknight dinner. The key ingredient, of course, was a dab of red curry paste — and the rest of the dish was improvised from there. It was served up with a side of basmati rice, Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale and some airwaves, which were tuned to a college basketball game.

Red Curry Bowl (And Beer)

The food itself might have not been perfect. A stickier rice might have been a better compliment to the curry. The vegetables were nearing overdone. Some of cubes of tofu were cooked unevenly. But everything — even the game — turned out just, deliciously, right.

Next-day Sushi Bowls

In Asian, Rice, Vegan on December 8, 2009 at 8:52 pm

We made veggie sushi this past weekend, using a patchwork of recipes from Moskowitz and Romero’s Veganomicon and the Southern Sushi Chef (aka Marisa Bagget).

The best thing about the Southern Sushi Chef’s website is that it includes tutorials on how to prepare sushi — they’re great, because a written explanation on sushi rolling will only take you so far. As for me, I got as far has standing before a sushi mat that I had laid carefully out on the table in front of me. Then I abruptly started waving a piece of nori around while saying, “okay, how do I do this again?”

Having a sushi chef, on the other hand, visually walk you through the process step-by-step certainly helped to clarify things (it was at this point in the process that I paused to watch the tutorials — however, I recommend watching them far enough in advance to thwart any unnecessary panic).

Making sushi is about as much fun as you can have while preparing food — particularly if you pair the activity with a bottle of wine, which of course we did. And the outcome was extraordinarily delicious — quite as good as anything we might have gotten that night at a local sushi bar. If I can voice one complaint about the enterprise, it would be that the rice turned out a little too moist, thus making the rolls themselves a bit on the mushy side.  (To combat this problem in the future, I’m thinking of trying out this promising sushi rice recipe).

After we had prepared a sushi stockpile that would have no doubt amounted to well over $100 worth of delectables had we gotten them at a restaurant, we still had a ton of ingredients left over. Hence, the creation of the next-day sushi bowls. They’re a lot less laborious to prepare and taste just as good.

The how-to:

For these bowls, I simply began with a generous scoop of prepared sushi rice in a bowl (which had been cooked according to package directions).

Over 1/3 of the rice, I heaped a scoop of leftover yamroom filling.

Over another 1/3, I heaped a scoop of the spicy tempeh filling.

Over the final 1/3, I layered fresh red pepper, carrot, scallions, cucumber and avacado — all sliced into thin sticks. To this mixture, I also added some blanched asparagus.

Finally — because I love the taste —  I dusted the whole arrangement generously with sesame seeds. I served the bowls with a side of tamari for dipping.

I adapted both of the sushi filling recipes from Veganomicon, but later discovered versions over at the Post Punk Kitchen.

For the yamroom filling (as adapted from this recipe):

Over low-medium heat, simmer 1 -2 handfuls of shitake mushrooms in 1/4 cup tamari sauce (or enough to cover the bottom of the sauce pot) combined with a tablespoon of mirin. Remove from heat after 10-15 minutes.

Clean and peel one large sweet potato (or small yam). Cut into cubes and boil for 10 minutes or until soft. After draining, mash with a fork.

Combine the two ingredients by layering the mushrooms (drained of sauce) on top of the mashed sweet potato.

For the spicy tempeh filling, (as adapted from this recipe):

Steam one 8-oz package of tempeh, cubed, for 10 minutes.

To the steamed tempeh, stir in:

2 teaspoons of hot chili oil

3 tablespoons mayonnaise (I prefer Vegenaise).

1 teaspoon of sriracha

When this filling is added to a sushi bowl, drizzle with a little extra sriracha sauce for an additional spicy kick.

And enjoy!