Monday, August 26, 2013

Vegan BBQ Mac & Cheese Pizza

This pizza "recipe" was made from Amy's soy mac & cheese, Gardein BBQ pulled pork shreds, and Stubbs BBQ sauce.  We used a prepared dough for the crust.

Have you ever seen pizza....on weeeeeeeed?

Allie: This is possibly the best thing I've ever tasted.  When I'm feeling lazy I always grab an Amy's mac & cheese (No, I was not paid to say that, but I'm open to offers.  Hit me up, Amy!  P.S. I love you.) and it is always gooey, cheesy, and decadent.  I don't know where I got the brilliant idea to spread it on a pizza, but I am more proud of this idea than I am of my law degree (Diploma pizza?  Pleh!).  We used whole wheat pizza dough because we are obviously healthy and into nutrition and fiber and whatnot.  In an interesting turn of events, Brian single-handedly assembled and baked this pizza because something (gin and tonic) happened to me.  We couldn't make it on the grill because Mothra's spawn somehow invaded our corn meal but I can safely say it couldn't possibly have been any better.   I would give this 6 out of 5 slices but there are rules.  So, 5 slices.

Brian: We’re mac! I mean back! Apologies for the long delay between posts, which have been primarily due to my own negligence (Allie has been dutifully writing blog reviews which have gone unpublished, maybe a future lost letters of AJ edition?) Well trust me when I say the adventure buddying did NOT go away, as there has been camping, dinners, adventures and buddying galore. I could not be happier to make our triumphant return with this entry.

Did you know that Einstein discovered the theory of relativity when he was just too tired to do something else? No? Well, that’s probably because it’s not true. However, this pizza is evidence that sometimes something great (and I consider this on par with ANY so-called scientific breakthrough) can happen when you just don’t want to do something else.  The original plan was to make a pizza with roasted garlic, veggies, maybe some vegan cheese and various other things I no longer recall. At the last minute though, we decided it would be a far better idea to just dump some amy’s mac and vegan BBQ shreds on some dough and chuck it in the oven. Boy did we ever choose the right path. This was contender for best pizza we have ever made. The amy’s mac, while vegan, was still creamy and decadent enough to serve as a topping and sauce for this pizza. We did add some extra BBQ sauce to the shreds, but I don’t even know if that was totally necessary, as I think this pizza would have been plenty moist without it. Allie had one slice plus a few bites and I absolutely HOUSED the rest of it. Quite frankly I was ready for more afterwards too! This will most definitely continue to be a regular arrow in our quiver of delicious food…archery…. 5 OUT OF 5 SLICES!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Curried No-Meat Balls

This recipe was from Vegan Fire and Spice.  We added an extra teaspoon of hot curry powder and hot chile powder at the end.  We also baked the veggie balls instead of pan frying them.  We served it over short-grain brown rice.

Allie: This recipe was frustrating to make and I don't think it was written very well.  First of all, I had the blot the chickpeas dry, but chickpeas are kind of in a gel so that is really not possible.  Second, I had to process the chickpeas through a potato ricer, which we do not have so I mashed them with a fork.  Next, the instructions told me to chop peanuts and onions, but after I mixed it all together I determined that they should have said to dice them instead because the larger chunks were not holding together with the chickpea batter.  I formed the balls to the best of my ability.  Then I had to heat a pan to fry the balls, but the recipe failed to specify a temperature so I just used medium.  As soon as I dropped the balls into the pan they started falling apart so I set the oven to 400 and just baked them for 15 min, then flipped and baked for 10.  They mostly held together but once we added the balls to the sauce they mostly fell apart.  The sauce was easy to make but it came out bland and we needed to add extra spices.

THAT BEING SAID, this was super yummy!  I loved the crunch of the peanuts and the comforting flavors.  The coconut yogurt made it rich and creamy.  I have to penalize this recipe by 1 slice due to how irritating it was to make, and I probably would hesitate to make it again but I'm glad I ate it so 4 slices.

Don't curry, be happy! Wait... do curry!

Brian: I was not witness to the ball drama unfolding in the kitchen while Allie prepared these, but if she hadn't told me something was wrong when I came in I don't think I would have ever known. Sure, the curry balls did fall apart a little bit, but I don't think it's exactly reasonable to expect a perfect meatball like product from something that is not actually a meatball (though we have had great success when replicating more traditional fake meatballs.)  The balls themselves were delicious and had a good crunch from the peanuts and onion in them that made it very satisfying to eat in the sauce. My main gripe with this dish probably comes from the fact that I am not a huge fan of how vegan yogurt, or really any yogurt, tastes. To me, when it is in sauces it tends to overwhelm everything else and a lot of the flavors get lost, which might explain why we had to basically add twice the spices at the end to bring it up to any sort of heat level. From a book called "fire and spice" I would expect the recipe to come out already on the hot side. This is not to say it was bad because it was definitely delicious, I just don't know if it would go in to regular rotation at any point in the future. I would rank this at a 3.5 out of 5 slices.

Cameroon-Style Seitan with Spinach

This recipe is from Vegan Fire and Spice.  We added 3 dried dundicut chile peppers and served it over Israeli couscous cooked in vegetable broth.

Allie: I can't say enough good things about this recipe!  It was easy, fast, and packed with flavor.  The recipe called for store-bought seitan, which we used, but next time I would make my own since the ready-made stuff is not that great and a waste of money.  We added the dried chiles with the onions as suggested, which caused the kitchen to be filled with spicy fumes and made all 6 people who walked in and out of the kitchen cough.  Brian's roommate's throat is "all f***ed up now," so there is probably a lawsuit there.  But it was all worth it because the resulting dish was perfectly spiced and very comforting.  The little bit of peanut butter in the sauce gave it some creaminess without going overboard.  I got to eat the leftovers, but not before Brian picked out all the remaining seitan.  But he did the dishes so I'll let it go this time.

Hope you saved Came-room for seconds!

Brian:  It's amazing how easily recipes like this come together when you don't have to make your own seitan. It's also amazing that in the past little while we have gone from thinking seitan was a "impossible to make as good as the stuff you buy" type product, to our homemade version being far superior. Sometimes you need to just go with what's convenient though. This recipe was amazing even with the inferior seitan (though I admit the charges of stealing the rest of it out of the pot at the end.) As Allie mentioned, we practically broke the Geneva Conventions against chemical weapons cooking this by causing my roommates considerable distress, but the outcome was well worth it. The sauce was creamy and spicy and blended well with the Israeli couscous in a way that made this a dish easy to go back for more. 5/5 would definitely make again!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Penne Arrabbiata

This recipe is from Vegan Fire and Spice, we added a fresh jalapeno, a small can of diced tomatoes, doubled all the herbs and about 1/2 teaspoon of thyme.  We topped with some vegan parmesan and served alongside a yummy mixed veggie salad.

Allie: I LOVE PASTA.  I could eat it for every meal forever.  I wanted to increase the amount of servings in this recipe, so I added extra pasta and sauce ingredients.  It was almost embarrassingly easy to make and the ingredients cost pennies.  Besides chopping garlic and hot pepper, the only other tasks were to simmer the sauce and boil pasta. It came out awesome!  The spice level was perfect.  I simmered it longer than the 15 minutes advised because I happened to have plenty of time and I think it really developed the flavors.  Recently when I make salad I've been dressing it with a dash of sesame oil and soy sauce, and the resulting veggies added a fresh, light note to the meal.  We shared some with Brian's band after practice and it was a hit.  I rate this 5 out of 5 slices.  Next time I'll try adding something, like meatballs or maybe using fresh pasta.  I may never buy a jar of sauce again!  I know it was good because Brian actually brought the leftovers to work for once, even though I was totally planning to sneak into his house and eat the crap out of them.  Foiled again!

mettere questo in faccia!

Brian: I am not proud of this fact, but pasta is the only thing I have ever eaten so much of I actually threw up (why wasn't it pizza?)  I mention this to say that Allie's first sentence goes double for me. It is so easy to make (I'll have to take Allie's word on this since, once again, I didn't have to to doodly squat) and delicious that I can't believe all Italians don't just lay around clutching their stomachs and rolling to wherever they need to go. Maybe not being americans means they are less inclined to do things like eat until they are literally sick? Who knows! This pasta dish was no exception, it was spicy and simple and incredibly delicious. It would be very good with some sort of meatball, tempeh, tempeh meatball etc in it but on its own it help up to other incredible meals we have had lately. The accompanying salad was made from leftover sushi ingredients mixed with a little oil and was honestly just as good as the main pasta dish. Having it for leftovers today, with a little more time to marinate in the sesame oil and soy sauce, it was even better.  A 5 out of 5 to be sure, and I look forward to variations on the sauce we could make in the future, and the resulting leftovers Allie won't be able to have any of.

Citrus-Marinated Tempeh with Sweet Potatoes

This recipe was from Vegan Fire and Spice, except we used peanut oil instead of canola and reduced the oil by 1 tablespoon.  We also cut the marinating time from 1 hour to about 30 minutes.

Allie: The more I think about this recipe, the less impressed I am.  First of all it took a long time but there wasn't enough inactive cooking time that I could actually go do something else, so that was annoying.  In the end I got impatient and halved the marinading time, and I also probably didn't saute the tempeh for as long as I should have either, because it didn't get very brown.  That being said, the marinade was also the sauce and the tempeh was very flavorful so I don't think it made much of a difference.  The marinade/sauce was extremely citrus-y, which I know is in the title of the dish but I think maybe it was overkill.  The other ingredients in the sauce were completely overpowered.  It called for a dried chile and I used EIGHT dried chile piquin, and it was not that spicy at all.  The sweet potatoes were average.  This recipe made me think that maybe I just don't like citrus-flavored things or sweet potatoes all that much at all.  We had lots of leftovers but nobody really cared enough to save them.  I would not make this again, and I'm rating it 2 of 5 slices.  On the plus side, we are cooking from Vegan Fire and Spice all week so I look forward to finding recipes I like more!

A one note meal. A C note, the C standing for citrus

Brian: Like Allie, I was left feeling kind of mixed about this dish. In theory, a meal made of tempeh and sweet potatoes would be the best thing ever, but the sweet citrus flavor of the sauce kind of took over everything and made it taste like a slightly tempeh flavored orange and a slightly sweet potato flavored orange. I think if they had made you prepare the sweet potatoes a different way than cooking them, then putting them in the sauce to heat at the end it would have gone a long way to creating a wider array of flavors. Also the spice level way insanely low for the amount of peppers that were put in. Is it possible to get a whole container of duds? Are we just so used to ghost pepper sauces that we are now unaffected by lower spice levels? I think not, since the recent spicy sushi was pretty intense, but it makes you question yourself. Overall, I would give this a 3 out of 5, because like so many meals recently I didn't actually have to cook it. I would imagine if I had present during that laborious process I would be down with Allie's 2 out of 5. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sushi Bonanza!

Allie: Sometimes avocado rolls get boring, and it's hard to find creative vegan sushi.  While Brian was in another state, my law school buddy Sadie and I commandeered the kitchen and dining room for a whole day and figured out how to make delicious sushi for us to devour.  The rice recipe, which had 90000 steps and came out perfectly, is from World of the East.  The rolling instructions were from Veganomicon.  It was labor-intensive but the instructions were easy to follow and I had fun.  Sadie and I made some experimental lunch rolls that were delicious and then I made 5 fancy dinner rolls:

1. Spicy tempeh, avocado, scallion 
2. Spicy tempeh, jalapeno
3. "Yamroom" Steamed sweet potato and shiitake mushroom (inside-out, rolled in black sesame seeds and sea salt)
4. Roasted garlic, scallion, roasted salted peanut
5. Jalapeno, avocado, sugar snap pea, scallion, cucumber (inside-out, rolled in hot chile powder)

Somehow I got the spiciest jalapeno ever grown and it was unbelievably hot.  It was like, a ghost chili or something.  And I have a very high tolerance for spice.  The #5 roll was almost too hot to eat, especially with the chile powder coating but I managed to make it work somehow.  We almost killed Brian's roommate though.  The #2 also had jalapeno but I think the tempeh mixture with the mayo cooled it down a bit.  My favorite was the roasted garlic roll.  It was sweet, salty, crunchy and full of flavor.  Overall this meal gets a strong 5 out of 5 slice rating and I wish I could eat it every day.

Don't lose your tempeh, you too can make this

Brian:  I am starting to get incredibly spoiled by the amount of awesome food getting made for me. This was another dish that Allie prepared, with help from a friend, before I got home. On one hand, that is clearly awesome, but on the other kind of a bummer (not really) since I have wanted to learn how to make sushi for a long time. I suppose that just means we will have to prepare it again together soon! I've always heard that making the rice is one of the hardest parts about making good sushi, and judging from Allie's description of the process I can see why. Lots of rinsing, filtering and very specific cooking instructions. However, she nailed it and the rice was restaurant quality perfection, and each roll was rolled with precision (see above. Ain't it beautiful?) My favorite was the sweet potato and mushroom roll with the black sesame seeds on the outside, followed closely by the roasted garlic roll which was reminiscent of a roll you would get at local sushi place Miyas. The jalapeno rolls packed a pretty intense punch which made them the last to go, but as leftovers the next day they had mellowed and went pretty quickly. Overall, definitely a 5 out of 5 and I look forward to making these as a team in the future!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vegan Cobb Salad

This salad was loosely based on a recipe from the sweet life, except we didn't have time to make cheese so we used soy feta, and since we were doubling up on soy products we made eggplant bacon from Appetite for Reduction instead of fakin' bacon.  We used herb dijon gardein chicken breasts but omitted the sauce packets.  We also substituted a vegan bleu cheese dressing from earthen feast, minus the crumbled tofu.

Allie: I know this recipe sounds like it has a ton of elements but it actually was no big deal to make and I really enjoyed making fake hard-boiled eggs.  I added a little black salt for that "eggy" flavor but let's not kid ourselves, those eggs were not very eggy although they looked quite convincing.  The real star of this dish was the bleu cheese dressing, I could have eaten it by the spoonful!  I loved arranging all the elements into a stunning dish and once it was all mixed up the flavors were WOW.  The eggplant bacon was great as always (also good in BLTs) and the feta and chicken were good too.  I made the bacon, eggs and dressing before Brian got home which was a good choice because finally I got to eat a little bit of bacon before he snacked it all.  This was a decadent and filling meal.  I rate it 5 out of 5 slices and I would totally make it again with infinite variations.  Thanks internet!

The stripes come from the official flag of the Cobb Islands

Brian: I had never had a cobb salad, vegan or otherwise, prior to this one, but if this was any indication of their general quality I have been really missing out! I was lucky enough to have Allie make all the ingredients of this salad prior to me getting home, only leaving me to oversee the final assembly (also done by Allie.)  I can't remember if food is supposed to taste better if you have made it yourself or if you didn't have to make it at all, but judging from our mutual reaction to it both probably work (we both loved it.) The eggplant bacon we used in this is probably one of my favorite things we have picked up in our months of cooking. It doesn't quite hit pure bacon, but liquid smoke and soy sauce make it something that adds a huge flavor pop to whatever you use it in. It also pairs incredibly well with anything with avocado in it, making a salty, smokey, decadent flavor bomb in every bite. I'm not sure what sort of witchcraft went in to the dressing, and I will throw Allie in a lake later to see if she floats, but it was incredibly creamy and delicious and made it really hard to believe it's good for you. While the hard boiled "eggs" didn't add a huge amount in flavor, getting lost in the dressing, they definitely pulled their weight in the aesthetics department and as the Dude would say "They really tied the salad together." This is a definite 5 out of 5 and I am looking forward to having the leftovers tomorrow, if they make it that long.