Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Red Lentil-Cauliflower Curry

This was a hearty, warm and delicious curry stew, full of flavor and spice. And who could complain about how healthy it is too?

I must admit, I had all my notes for this written up just after we ate this, but of course I not only lost them but waited months before posting this.

In any case, all I can say is that I'll definitely be making this again...probably this fall or you should make it too.

Now if you don't mind, I have some peanut butter ice cream (see page 262) thawing and I must eat it now. I'll post on this later, but I'll just say it's one of the best damn things I've put in my mouth lately, especially when you eat it fresh out of the ice cream maker.

Price: About $10.
Difficulty: Moderate; fair amount of chopping.
Modifications: None (except no cilantro, or as I call, the filth of the earth).
Cleanup: How should I know? It's been at least 3 months.

This recipe is on page 186 of Veganomicon.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Black Beans In Chipotle Adobo Sauce

This was one of those dishes that I screwed up but still tasted damn fine in the end. It was a simple, pure and delicious meal.

The part I screwed up was the part I always screw up...not reading the recipe thoroughly (and believe me, I certainly hear about that each and every time I don't). So instead of the "1 large onion, cut into small dice" that I was to then remove from the beans, I diced the onion and cooked it with the beans. Let's just say I tried longer than most would at trying to pick out as many of those diced onion chunks as I could.

In the end, though, it was still delicious. The beans were so tender and lovely (not sure why, but I really wanted to use the word lovely just now), the chipotle adobo sauce was rich and full of flavor and the Mexican Millet (which I'll have to blog on separately) was wonderful, as usual.

Sadly, I think I actually made this dish back when it was still cold (relatively speaking...this is Seattle after all) outside. Which means, I haven't posted updates in a while. Bad, bad me! I've got a backlog of about 6 or 7 that I'll post over the coming weeks.

Anyway, the breakdown:

Price: Around $9-$10 (including the millet)
Difficulty: Normally not, unless you're dense like I was.
Modifications: Zilch.
Cleanup: One more pot than I'd like, but really not so bad.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Jimaca-Watercress-Avocado Salad With Spicy Citrus Vinaigrette

I almost felt like a food snob eating this dish. I mean really, a watercress salad? But I was excited to use jicama for the first time and was glad I did.

The salad was very flavorful and fresh. The vinaigrette was excellent and full of myriad flavors: sweet, hot, fresh and tangy. The avocados added a nice bit of fat and creaminess to the meal while the peanuts provided a nice crunch and some additional protein. I couldn't believe how wonderful the jicama was. It really was sort of like an apple-potato hybrid, with the texture of a potato and the sweetness of an apple. If I can find other ways to use this in the future I certainly will.

As for the watercress, it was green.

We paired this with a side of the Tangerine Baked Tofu (or as in our case Orange Baked Tofu since we can never find tangerines at our store). We love that dish.

One thing this meal was not was filling. It would be a great diet dinner, but we're two people who generally fill up like little piggys on carbs and protein each night, so there was a definite lack of appetite satisfaction here. But for most normal people, I think it would suffice just perfectly.

Cost: A bit pricey at around $15. The salad was about $10-$12.
Difficulty: Not difficult, but the jicama shredding was definitely messy.
Modifications: I squeezed out a lot of the jicama liquid after shredding. And of course, no cilantro.
Cleanup: Moderate. With the salad alone it would be fairly easy.

This recipe is on page 83 of Veganomicon.

Plantain and Pinto Stew With Parsnip Chips

This was the first time I've cooked with plantains. I've had fried plantains before and thought they were one of the best things ever, but it had been at least 5 years since then so I forgot what their taste and texture was like.

In our case, the texture was somewhat dense and meaty, but from what I hear it can vary a lot depending upon the ripeness of the plantain. I think the one I used was maybe a little less ripe than I'd prefer, but my husband loved it. Next time I'd probably try to get one a little more ripe...or just wait longer until it was more ripe. However, the selection in our store was not the best as most of them were very green.

Anyway, the dish was delicious and filling. The flavors were deep and mostly mild, but with some tang and spiciness (I didn't seed the me doing that is almost blasphemy). The parsnip chips were wonderful, although I probably oversaturated them with oil. No complaints here though! They were very tender and sweet, much like a sweet potato.

Cost: $12-$14.
Difficulty: Not. And only 45 minutes to boot.
Modifications: No jalapeno seeding, sub white wine for cooking sherry, NO cilantro.
Cleanup: Excellent...just one pot!

This recipe is on page 183 of Veganomicon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Manzana Chili Verde

This was a surprising winner in this household. The husband was very (and I mean, very) skeptical as he's not a fan, or anything even close to a fan, of tomatillos. But the finished product won him (and me) over.

This thick and hearty chili was tangy, lightly tart, lightly sweet and very fresh. There's nothing bad I could say about it. I didn't make the jalapeno corn bread - I must have been feeling extra lazy that day - but I'd sure love to try that next time. Instead, we make some homemade pita crisps by slicing some tortillas, brushing them with olive oil and cripsping them in a hot oven.

It was a fair amount of work preparing this dish, so I'd save this for a weekend.

Price: About $15.
Difficulty: Moderate.
Modifications: No cilantro, thank you! Oh, and I skipped the avocados. It cost enough already and I didn't think that would change the end result that much.
Cleanup: Between easy to moderately difficult.

This recipe is on page 171 of Veganomicon.

Udon With Shiitake Mushrooms And Kale In Miso Broth

The ladies were almost spot on with their summary of this dish: "This is a great weeknight meal that's healthy and hearty." Spot on, with one minor nuance being that I would say it was good and not great.

There wasn't a ton of flavor in the dish, but it was indeed hearty and healthy. Anything with kale makes me happy. The miso didn't add as much flavor as I thought it would, so next time I may add just a bit more. But I just love the texture of udon noodles, enough to even eat them plain with just a little salt. And I certainly wouldn't mind adding sauteed seitan, as they recommend. But that would take this from an easy weeknight meal to perhaps a weekend meal.

Price: $9 (about half of this was from the kale, which is probably cheaper most anywhere else).
Difficulty: Simple.
Modifications: None.
Cleanup: Easy.

This recipe is on page 201 of Veganomicon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chickpea Cutlets

I just love these things. For me, they're one of the best things from this book. Unfortunately, my husband has "issues" with the texture, which is one of the things I love best about them.

The resultant texture is a balance of soft, spongy and meaty. They can be a bit "chewy" but again, that's something I really enjoy. Having to work for food makes it taste better.

And they're super easy to make.

I've made these several times and my favorite adaptation, as seen in the picture, is to brush some barbecue sauce on them after they're fried up. Deliiiiiciouuuuuuuuuuuus.

We paired this with the Prospect Park Potato Salad along with the suggested roasted asparagus.

Price: $4-$5 (nice!)

Difficulty: Simplicity city for the cutlets themselves, but when also making the potato salad and asparagus it trends it more toward the "not so bad" category.

Modifications: None

Cleanup: Easy for the cutlets only, "I'd rather be watching TV right now" for the entire meal.

This recipe is on page 133 of Veganomicon.

Prospect Park Potato Salad

The best thing about this potato salad was how the diced cucumber gets all nice and "pickley."

Other than that, to me it falls into the good or a little better than passable categories. I've made it a couple of times already, so that at least confirms we liked it well enough. I think I tend to prefer slightly creamier, somewhat less vinegary salads. The dressing was a bit runny, so consider cutting down slightly the wet ingredients if you try this.

Actually, aside from the cucumber, another great thing is the light and bright yellow color, thanks to the turmeric. So in terms of appearance it gets an A.

This round, we paired it with the Chickpea Cutlets, which I barbecued. Those are one of my favorite things from the book, although I can't get my husband to get excited about them.

If you're cooking for two or three, you probably want to halve the recipe unless you like eating potato salad for lunch all week.

For 1/2 recipe:
Cost: $6-$7.
Difficulty: Muy simple.
Modifications: I doubled the sugar. We like our potato salad a bit on the sweeter side.
Cleanup: Clean before you know it, with the best part being you don't have to clean the bowl that day if there are leftovers.

This recipe is on page 91 of Veganomicon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


This is my first post for "Sauces and Fillings." I'm pretty sure I've made others but just haven't posted them separately. If so, I'll get those added.

Anyway, their fake "parmesan" recipe is a total hit in this household. We used to spend $4 on a small bottle of fake vegan "parmesan," and it was full of fillers. This version is just as tasty, if not tastier, is less expensive and we know exactly what's in it: just 4 basic ingredients.

It has a great nutty taste and texture with just the right amount of tang from the lemon and a hint of bitterness from the toasted sesame seeds. I add about a half tablespoon of nutritional yeast to give it just a bit more tang, but you really don't need it. I'm nothing if not a king of doctoring things up.

To prepare this, I like to use a coffee grinder and blitz the hell out until it's mostly fine with a few larger chunks of almonds.

We use this on pasta, rice and risotto dishes and anything else that calls for parmesan. In fact, we use a lot more fake "parmesan" now that we know how to make it at home.

Cost: About $1 - $1.50 per recipe. We usually double the recipe.
Difficulty: Way easy.
Modifications: About 1/2 tablespoon of nutritional yeast.
Cleanup: Super easy.

This recipe is on page 207 of Veganomicon.

Green Pea and Lemon Risotto With Roasted Red Peppers

This was an easy and delicious meal and was a great balance of creaminess and richness with lightness and brightness from the lemon and peas.

We topped this with some Almesan, which I have to admit is a really awesome homemade version of grated "parmesan." Oh, and of course some toasted pine nuts, which in my opinion is basically a must for any risotto dish.

I'm not sure I was a huge fan of the roasted red pepper slices (and I *know* my husband wasn't... he's got issue with big chunks of a lot of different things). To me they added maybe a bit too much of a contrast to the much milder risotto. Next time I may try chopping them up to see if the flavors integrate more smoothly.

Price: $13-$14. So yeah, maybe a bit on the higher side.
Difficulty: Easy.
Modifications: Topped with Almesan and toasted pine nuts.
Cleanup: Easy.

This recipe is on page 199 of Veganomicon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mac Daddy

When I read the ingredients for this recipe I wasn't sure it would be any different or better than versions of "mac n cheese" I've already made. I was mostly right.

The sauce was different than others I've made, mostly due to the addition of flour, which I thought was a great way to make the sauce cheesy, and the lemon juice, which to me made the sauce a bit too tangy. I prefer the richer, creamier type sauces. I know they exist; I had the most amazing "Mac N Yease" at a local vegan restaurant, Plum Bistro, a few months ago. I think the Mac Daddy sauce was on the right path, although I'm not sure yet what's needed to make it purely decadent.

I'd give this dish a B. All in all, it was good and I wouldn't mind eating it again. Not a resounding endorsement, I know, but hey, in order to appreciate the really fantastic meals you have to have some just plain good meals sometimes.

I paired the pasta with a large side of tater tots (one of my biggest vices) and some sauteed kale. They did a nice job of balancing out the tang of the pasta.

Difficulty: Simple.
Cost: $6-$7 (excluding the sides). About $10-$12 with the sides.
Modifications: None.
Cleanup: Average.

This recipe is on page 195 of Veganomicon.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lasagna Marinara With Spinach

Okay. I must admit, this was probably, for me, my piece de resistance of lasagnas (and maybe most anything else) that I've made.

One word of caution: Be prepared to drop some dough for this dish. It was probably twice as much as anything else I've made from the book so far, but it makes tons (almost quite literally) of lasagna that could last two people 3 or 4 days (especially if you're dinner hogs like we are). And the leftovers were just as delicious each day.

This was so rich, so creamy, so delicious and was accompanied by wonderful aromas. This was the first vegetarian lasagna I've made that even had that traditional lasagna smell to it. I'm not sure how to describe it but it was definitely there.

And let just say that the pine nut cream is definitely NOT optional! That stuff is so damn good and was definitely the crown on this dish. There's so much flavor in every bite of that stuff and just a little went a long way in every bite.

This was a lot of work, for sure. But the amazing smell of the marinara sauce early on kept me excited throughout the entire preparation process.

A couple of notes here: Make sure you bring your tofu (for the 'ricotta') to room temperature first. I thought my hands were going to fall off they were so cold. Also, despite 2 lbs. of greens seeming like a lot, they really cook down and were just the right amount in the end. So don't skimp on those either.

Besides how decadent it tasted, it was packed full of nutrition. There was a ton of protein from the tofu and noodles and of course lots of vitamins and minerals from the greens and tomato sauce. I used about half spinach and half rainbow chard.

I could go on and on about this, but someone is at the door. But if you're a lasagna lover, you MUST make this. But do it on a weekend if you want to get to bed at a decent hour.

Cost: About $27 (yowza!)
Difficult: Hard.
Modifications: I used the truly no bake noodles and split the greens between spinach and rainbow chard.
Cleanup: Moderate to difficult.

This recipe is on page 196 of Veganomicon.

Curried Udon Noodle Stir Fry

This was a nice, basic stir fry that was good and acceptably tasty, but not overly delicious and with an obvious lack of depth of flavor.

With that said, though, I actually would make it again but would probably doctor it up a bit more with maybe a little bit of curry powder. And frankly, the way I douse on cayenne pepper on most of my meals anyway, I don't necessarily need the dish to have a ton of flavor. Actually, the less flavor in the dish the more I can actually taste the cayenne.

The seitan was "interesting." I've used their boil method but this dish was the first time I tried their oven method. I expected the seitan to be a little drier and meatier, but it was actually quite rubbery. That was, until I sauteed the crap out of it and gave it a nice brown crust. That helped decrease the rubberiness and increase the chewiness (in fact, the next night I took the leftover seitan, cubed it, sauteed the hell out of it in some garlic and oil and put in on pizza. It was just like "beef" jerky. Delicious!)

Cost: About $9-$10.

Difficulty: Moderate. This required 3 primary cooking dishes.

Modifications: Powdered instead of fresh ginger. Regular soy sauce instead of shoyu, which I couldn't find.

Cleanup: Not too bad, but not quick and easy.

This recipe is on page 200 of Veganomicon.


Finally, a one-word, simply-titled dish, which was also simply delicious, simple to create and simple to clean up. See Wikipedia's cholent page for more information on this Jewish stew.

To me this dish was like a new twist on chili; it had most of the flavors of chili but with unexpected ingredients like potatoes and peas (we used them in place of lima beans, which I forgot to buy) and rice (which can be served under or over the cholent).

The end result was a thick, hearty and rich concoction that made boatloads lasting as long as the flavors were deep.

I pretty much stuck to the script on this one, but could not find the TVP chunks, so I used the TVP crumbles. I'm not even sure what TVP chunks are, but the crumbles worked just fine.

The only issue we had was that the lentils were still a bit firm, so next time around I'd probably cook them on their own first for a bit.

This was truly an easy one pot meal that would make a great weeknight dinner on any chilly night.

Cost: About $10.
Difficulty: Simple simple simple.
Modifications: Crumbled TVP instead of chunks and peas instead of lima beans.
Cleanup: Simple simple simple.

This recipe is on page 183 of Veganomicon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Braised Seitan With Brussels, Kale and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This dish was so packed with nutrition and flavor it didn't bother us that the seitan was a bit squishy squishy (I may go back to our original baked seitan recipe as theirs usually turns out too waterlogged).

Anyway, back to how good it was. The flavors and textures were very complementary, from the meaty seitan, sun-dried tomatoes and rice to the kale, or as I like to refer to it in this dish, the bridge of the textures, to the crispy brussels sprouts. I think I want a t-shirt identifying how much I love brussels sprouts. People just have no clue what they're missing out on when they've only tried frozen, not fresh ones.

There was so much flavor throughout the dish, thanks to the red wine and broth along with all of the herbs. One bit of caution, though: If you take this to work the next day, be prepared to have people start asking what the hell that nasty smell is. I'm not sure if it was the wine or the brussels, but whoa. It still tasted great, though, but not as fresh as the first day.

I'll definitely be making this one again, especially considering how nutritious it was.

Difficulty: Moderate. Again, try not to make the seitan on the same day as the main dish. Or, do it all on a day you have off. Also, a fair amount of chopping.

Cleanup: Quite easy. This dish used just one stock pot as the main piece of cookware.

Alterations: None.

Price: About $14 (couple dollars cheaper if you don't have to spend $4 on kale!).

This recipe is on page 182 of Veganomicon.

Seitan Picatta With Olives and Green Beans

This was quite the "stick to your ribs" sorta dish, but with a fresh twist.

The base was a delicious veganized rich, garlic mashed potato recipe I got from Cook's Country. And the main ingredient of battered seitan is something one can rarely go wrong with, this not being an exception to that rule. The potatoes and seitan were the heavy half, while the freshness of the green beans, shallots and lemon juice were the lighter half of the dish. And the olives and capers added a needed salty kick.

The assembled plate looked like a freaky science experiment that was growing sparse, thick-follicled green hair. I think I put it together as they suggested, but since we were the only ones looking at it and it was two minutes I'll never get back, the second round was just a pile of green beans plopped on top.

All in all, this was a lovely, nutritious and tasty meal. Time will tell if I make it again, since it wasn't a total standout.

If you're going to make the seitan on the same day as the main dish, do this on a weekend or a day you have off. Otherwise, be prepared to eat a late dinner.

Difficulty: Moderate. A decent amount of chopping and preparation.
Cleanup: So so. Not easy but not the worst.
Alterations: I used dried parsley on top. Hey, parsley is expensive here, especially for just a garnish.
Price: About $10-11.

This recipe is on page 174 of Veganomicon.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tempeh Shepherdess Pie

This dish should have been named "Thanksgiving in a Dish," or "One Pot Thanksgiving." It had all the flavors of a typical Thanksgiving meal in this house and most of the textures.

Potatoes, gravy, "meat", mushrooms, peas, corn. The only thing missing was dressing, but this pie was so good I didn't miss it.

Okay, so the picture isn't all that appealing, but nevermind that.

The potatoes were creamy, the sauce was thick, rich and herby and the tempeh was nice and tender.

You know, I should really write these "reviews" much closer to the actual eating experience. It's probably been a few weeks since I made this dish and I had it all worked out in my head what I'd say. I pretty much do for every meal but by the time my lazy ass gets up to write it, I've forgotten. The memories of the flavor details fade fast. Let this be a lesson to me.

In any case, I remember how good this was. It was relatively simple to make, too

I made no substitutions, with the exception of using canola oil instead of grapeseed oil. You can assume from here on out that I will use canola oil unless there's a really good reason to do otherwise.

Cost: Sorta high, in the range of $13-$15.
Difficulty: Moderate.
Cleanup: Pretty easy. Just a skillet and a pot as the main dishes used.

This recipe is on page 167 of Veganomicon.

Creamy Tomato Soup

I just love a good, thick tomato soup. And that's exactly what this was. Thick, creamy, deeply-flavored with a hint of tang. I will be making this one again soon.

To make it even better, my husband suggested I make some of the Caesar Salad croutons to go on top. Since I could live off of those things, you know I said "hail, yeah!"

I love how creative the authors were with their use of potatoes in the soup. It gives it richness and thickness without changing the desired flavor. And makes it more nutritious, too, of course.

I didn't substitute or modify anything for this soup. And neither should's easy and so delicious.

Cost: About $8 for a huge pot of soup that lasted for days.
Cleanup/Prep Complexity: Easy Fosheezy (try looking for the spelling of that sometime).

This recipe is on page 148 of Veganomicon. Go make it before soup season is over!

P.S. Sorry, but I forgot the picture. Actually, I didn't forget the picture, but forgot to charge the camera so that I could take the picture. You get the picture.

Friday, January 15, 2010

French Lentil Soup With Tarragon And Thyme

Despite the authors saying I'd find myself going back to the fridge for more all night, I was skeptical. Looking over the ingredients I didn't think the soup would be all that good and if we were lucky it wouldn't be boring.

I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The soup was thick, deeply flavored and even a little "beefy," but in a good way. The lentils were tender and meaty, but the tarragon was the real star of this dish. It's an herb we've come to love in the past few months. I never cooked with tarragon until making the Veganomicon recipes. It's an herb, somewhat like cilantro, but less polarizing, that can probably go either way with someone's taste buds. It was an excellent herb to pair with lentils, which on their own don't have much flavor.

I wasn't sure if my husband would be okay with the tomatoes in the soup, but they blended in so well he didn't even know they were in there until I told him. He was excited that he finally found an acceptable form of tomato chunks.

Price: $6-7.
Difficulty: Easy. Most of the hour was inactive.
Cleanup: Very easy. Just one pot was used for the cooking.
Modifications: None.

This recipe is on page 141 of Veganomicon.

Cauliflower And Mushroom Potpie With Black Olive Crust

So creamy, herby, rich and delicious! I love loved this dish and it's kick ass salty black olive biscuit crust and copious veggies. There's not much else to say other than yum!

Once again, these Veganomicon gals really know their baking as this is the fourth dish I've made that involved some sort of baked item and each time that item has turned out wonderfully. I may have slightly over-saturated the dough, but it wasn't that noticeable. The top was lightly crispy and the innards were soft and chewy.

I'm probably a little easier to please than most, but I just couldn't get over how good this dish was. Yet one more for the rotation.

Price: Around $8.
Difficulty: About a 7. A fair amount of chopping and dough rolling/cutting.
Cleanup: Fairly easy.

This recipe is on page 161 of Veganomicon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bonus: Homemade Pizza

This isn't from the Veganomicon book, but this pizza was so pretty I had to take and share a picture of it.

My husband has been making homemade pizza dough for years. We haven't been making the pizzas as much as we used to, but I absolutely love our homemade pizza nights. I say the best pizza is the one you make at home. With so many possible combinations of ingredients and a food that is as much an art as a science, building a custom pizza at home is the surest way to pizza satisfaction.

This pizza I made has a base of homemade pesto with green and black olives, red onion, unseeded jalapeno (woo woo!) and tomatoes. I also added some veggie pepperoni and soy cheese, but wanted to take the picture without those as they tend to hide all of those beautiful colors.

Spicy Peanut And Eggplant Soup

If I'm going to make, and then eat, a soup, please let it be this one! This was probably one of the best soups I've ever made and is now one of my favorite meals.

It was creamy, spicy and sweet with a rich, deep flavor. The eggplant, tomatoes and green beans were oh so tender and the blister peanuts we used on top were the perfect crunchy garnish. Even my eggplant-hating husband didn't mind the eggplant here since it was so tender.

I didn't make any adaptations with the exception of not seeding the chiles and using 3 instead of 1. It takes a lot of heat to impress us.

We served the soup over/with some rice. I dished mine up like a curry over rice while my husband mixed a smaller amount of rice into his soup. I think his way was probably better as you get to focus more on the deliciousness and loveliness of the soup rather than the rice.

This was a fair amount of effort to make with all of the chopping of vegetables, but it only required one stock pot, so cleanup was easy.

One modification I almost forgot to mention: We, especially I, like peanut stews a little sweet, so I added about 4 tablespoons of brown sugar.

The cost was in the $11-12 range. Not cheap, but for us not prohibitively pricey. And who cares about price when it's this good. Did I actually say that?

The recipe is on page 147 of Veganomicon. Make it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Porcini Wild-Rice Soup

The biggest surprise about this soup was that my husband liked it much better than he thought, whereas I thought I'd like it much better than he did but ended up liking it less and a little less than I thought I would.

But in all honesty, it was probably due to my tainted perception after I bit down on something grainy and sandy after already being a bit nervous about that as I heard something gritty in the pot as I stirred it. I feel as though I attract grit in my food like white on rice. Why? Whyyyyyyyyy?

My guess is that some of the grit came from the porcini mushrooms or from the wild rice. So if you make this, you may want to rinse off your rice. You should also reserve just a bit of the mushroom liquid when adding it to the soup as it's possible some grit from the mushrooms will settle to the bottom during re-hydration.

Aside from this, it was a tasty, earthy, woodsy and meaty soup, thanks to the porcinis and wild rice. I agree with the authors that this would definitely make a great soup to serve at a dinner party or to friends if you want to impress them. There's just something classier about it than most soups.

The authors suggest using a blend of wild rices, but I could only find the black wild rice at our store. If you can, I'd try to find the blend though, to give the soup a bit more visual interest.

Oh, and no, I could not find any chervil at our store. They suggest that finding it may be challenging and that going on a hunt for it would make for a great blog entry. Sure, but as someone without a car, there was no way I was going hunting for anything on foot, especially not a garnish. I substituted it with a bit of dried parsley and some lemon zest, since they say the chervil has a lemony taste.

The cost of the soup was in the $10-12 range. Almost half of that was from the porcini mushrooms. Hopefully where you live you can get them for a bit less. Since everything costs more here in Seattle, I'm confident you can.

This recipe is on page 140 of Veganomicon.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Penne Vodka

I was so excited to finally make this dish as I got over my inhibition to run to the liquor store and pick up some vodka. But since Bryan needed some dark rum for some rum balls, who was I to stand in the way between him and his rum?

This was probably the easiest dish to date I've made from the book. And quick, too. I think the whole thing took me about half an hour, as advertised. And clean up was just as easy.

The taste was subtle, creamy and delicious. The nuts gave it just a little additional, and desirable, toothiness. The sauce reminded me of the sauce that would be served on a margherita pizza.

To help ease the blending of the almonds, I pre-ground them using a coffee grinder, then finished them off with the immersion blender. Much to my surprise, it was the immersion blender that really mixed the nuts into the sauce and gave it the creamy, milky texture.

I skipped the basil on top, although it would have been an excellent garnish. I was just too cheap to buy it and used dried basil instead.

Cost-wise, this was probably around $8. Because of the reasonable cost, the taste and how easy it was to make, it will most definitely be going into our rotation.

I hope you make it and enjoy it as much as we did.

This recipe is on page 193 of Veganomicon.

Baked Potato and Greens Soup With Potato-Wedge Crutons

This soup was deeeelish. And how can you go wrong with a huge crispy potato wedge nested right on top!?

There's not much else to say, really, other than the soup was hearty, healthy (a special thanks to kale, our new best friend), salty, hot and thick. That's the kinda soup I like. This soup will definitely go into the rotation.

As for adjustments, I think I pretty much stuck to the script on this one, even using white wine. It was a cooking wine, yes, a no no, I know, but I knew we wouldn't drink it, thus the reason I used it instead of a 'good' white wine.

The cost was a tad higher than I like, around $10-12. It could have easily been below $10 if the store where we shop didn't charge so much for kale. This would be a good time for a shout out to local farmers markets, where the kale is probably a lot cheaper. But since we don't have a car, laziness tends to predominate (although one might wonder why we have thrice walked 5 miles to get donuts).

Make this one. You'll love it. The recipe is on page 146 of Veganomicon.

Sweet Potato-Pear Tzimmes

First of all, for those of you wondering how to pronounce this, it's si-mi-s. Not 'zimmus' or 't-zimes' as I was saying all week before making it. More about tzimmes can be found here.

This was probably one of the strangest things I've made in a while for dinner, but it was surprisingly good. This was the side for the Tangerine Baked Tofu which I made several months ago already.

I also learned that although I knew sweet potatoes and yams were different, I didn't know that sweet potatoes were much lighter in color. At least the ones I bought were. They were just a little more brown than a regular potato, but nowhere near the orange color of yams. And their flavor seemed a bit more subtle, too.

The final result was excellent. It was a nice blend of salty, sweet and spicy. For my own extra spice spin, I added some cayenne pepper for good measure. I pretty much put cayenne on everything and I thought the pears would be a great use for it.

The potatoes were tender and lightly sweet, the pears were sweet and still a little crisp (I wouldn't mind them being a bit more tender, but they were great they way they were) and the pecans were very crunchy and a little sweet.

All the flavors were well balanced and it heated up great as leftovers.

I forgot to buy the raisins, but it turns out that was fine since Bryan hates hot raisins and I can't say I'm a huge fan either.

Aside from leaving out the raisins, no other modifications were made.

The cost of the dish was about $6-7, but since it was just a side, it was a tad pricey, relatively speaking. But worth the cost in my opinion.

This recipe is on page 156 of Veganomicon.