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.