I think as vegans, we can all relate to Lisa Simpson on one level or another. Whether you're at work, with friends or family, or at a wedding (ugh), you can bet that you will be in the dietary minority (unless you're only around fellow vegans all the time, which, congrats). I get strange looks all the time from people when I politely decline their food and start to drink green juice instead. I've also gotten positive reactions from chefs willing to accommodate me to acquaintances asking insightful questions pertaining to the reasons why I went vegan, etc. Navigating social landscapes is definitely something that can be challenging but also rewarding as someone who lives this unique lifestyle.
The most challenging dish to sell to people who aren't keen on vegan (or just "healthy" food in general) is plain old salad. Hence this...
Yep. I feel her pain. (#same)
The funny thing about salad is, though, it can be just as easily mind-blowing as it can be boring and unappetizing. This rule applies to every food, though, in my humble opinion. Omnivores throw fried meat, potatoes and tons of cheese on their salads and say it makes them "tasty", so why can't vegans do their equivalent of the same?
I love salads. They're great all year round. I love that they can consist of cooked and raw vegetables alike. I also like to mix pickled and fermented vegetables in mine to add flavor, texture and nutrition. A great, quick and easy lunch is some salad greens, chopped seasonal vegetables and some make-ahead protein to throw on top. When I'm feeling lazy, I'll throw beans on top that are barely seasoned. However, for VeganMofo, I decided to do something a little more involved and special...
I made some oven-fried cornmeal crusted tofu. Not only did I make delicious and crispy tofu, but I made a Japanese bulldog sauce to go on top of it. What's bulldog sauce, you ask? Well, it's basically a sweet and sticky BBQ sauce that's usually served with tonkatsu (or fried pork cutlets). This is a classic and homey Japanese meal that I enjoyed as a young kid. I definitely recommend making a vegan version of the cutlets if you can (Here are a few ideas from some fellow bloggers: Vegan Ronin | Lazy Cat Kitchen). They're coated in panko breadcrumbs and are wonderfully addictive.
The sauce itself is interesting because it has fruit purees in it that lend their sweetness. Along with the fruit, bulldog sauce has tomato paste in it as well as carrot. Instead of trying to automatically recreate the sauce itself, I decided to create my own vegan version with household ingredients that most people have already or can find easily at the store. I added a kick to mine by throwing some Frank's Red Hot sauce in there! You can definitely sub sriracha and that would be an excellent idea. The resulting sauce is slightly spicy, tangy, thick with a depth of sweetness from molasses and mirin.
If you can't find mirin, you can always sub maple syrup or your favorite liquid sweetener. This sauce goes very well with the tofu and works as a dressing for the salad on its own. You can also dress your veggies with your favorite dressing if you'd like. I don't care for a lot of dressing so I left mine alone with the exception of a splash of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper!
The only thing I will tell you is this: if you're trying to impress someone with tofu, salad and your sauce making skills, use this recipe! There's no way anyone can deny that eating a vegan salad is a good time if you serve them this. (If they don't like it, then more for you!) Go out there and make some friends! 👯🥗
Bulldog BBQ Tofu Salad
Yield: About 5 Servings
Free from: Nuts, Gluten
Preheat oven 400 F.
This weekend and upcoming week will surely be hectic for everyone preparing for the holidays. I've been doing some last minute chores today and suddenly realized I had skipped lunch. 💀
Since I knew I couldn't starve in the name of gift wrapping, I whipped up a single serving of peanut noodles and decided to share the recipe with you! It's a quick and easy meal or snack for when you're home alone or just in the mood for some noods. I'm always up for noods. 😁
These noodles are creamy yet light at the same time. They can be oil-free, in fact, if you omit the sesame oil garnish. I love the taste and aroma of sesame oil, so I drizzled a little on my plate after cooking everything. If you wish to make this dish without the oil, the sauce will still be decadent and satisfying while also providing you with protein. For the noodles, I used brown rice with green tea from Star Anise Foods. I love their products. Some of their noodles come with soup base, which I think is genius for a quick weeknight meal. I also love their name...so cute! ☺️
Peanut Noodles for One
Yield: 1 serving
Free from: Gluten, Refined Sugar*, Oil-free option
Today's prompt is "favorite food", which, if you've ever seen my first year participating in Vegan MoFo, you would know is Japanese Food!
I love to cook Japanese inspired dishes that combine the American hodgepodge, often unorganized style of cooking with traditional ingredients and simple flavors. I love food that is prepared in a minimal way that emphasizes the individual ingredients. Although, sometimes I like to get complicated when I bake. 😅
This dish is a rendition of one of my favorite college breakfasts: an omelette on top of rice with some vegetable. I love eating out of bowls...the act of digging into my food is appealing some how. I bought eggs quite a lot in college since I was poor and a vegetarian still. Now, I usually substitute tofu for eggs and it suits me perfectly fine. I made my tofu a little more robust so I could fry it into an omelette shape. The result is nice savory croquette of "egg" like flavor and texture, although it is much drier than an omelette would be. It's still delicious!
I sauteed some white button mushrooms on the side for a meaty addition that offers protein and earthy flavor. My grandmother always made her omelettes a little sweet by adding a pinch of sugar and soy sauce to her eggs before she cooked them. I added a little mirin into the mushrooms, which create a wonderful sauce in the pan as they cook. For an interesting depth of flavor, spoon some of the sauce onto your rice for a finishing touch. It's a wonderful departure from your generic tofu scramble and toast. 🤓🍳🍞
Japanese Omelette with Sauteed Mushrooms
Fusion food day is here!
Last year, I made some risotto with a Mexican twist. It was quite magical. For some reason, I can't stay away from that theme so here I am again. I'm fusing the burrito and spicy chipotle flavor with the Philly staple: the cheesesteak.
Cheesesteak was always something I disliked, even when I ate meat. The ones they served in elementary school for lunch always put me off...something about the gross fake cheese. 😖
Now, I figured I should give cheesesteak another go, but with some conditions: no cheese, no steak. Sounds great! 👍 I replaced the steak with nutritious portabella mushrooms. You can also use a vegan meat substitute if you like. I tried to keep this recipe as clean and healthy as possible. I also love the meaty and earthy taste of mushrooms. I can't get enough of them.
The cheese sauce is made with sweet potato for extra flavor and nutrition. I think it makes a wonderful counterpart to the spices in the mushrooms. I wrapped the whole mess up in a gluten free tortilla. This would also be wonderful on bread...or on rice...or any old way, really.
Dig in and try to forget about the election. I know I haven't, but this food might help me get there a little. 😜🌶🌯🍄
Chipotle Portabella Cheesesteak Burritos
Free from: gluten*, refined sugar
Yield: About 3-4 servings
Sweet Potato Cheese Sauce Ingredients
I'm. Finally. Back!
I apologize for my absence these past few months, but I've been very preoccupied with moving! The process was not as extensive as I expected, although it still took me over a month to finally get everything from point A to point B. Luckily, I'm just about settled.
Not being able to cook in my own kitchen has been tough, but I am slowly adapting to my new one. I definitely like the layout (plus it has an island!). I do miss having a gas range, but I actually don't mind my new stove. The change in temp is pretty immediate, which is all I ever need!
Since tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, I'm going to make my come back with a fusion taco recipe. I was going to feature another dessert, but I'm not really sure I can top last year's Tres Leches Cake! No, I wanted to go savory and simple this year. Tacos are indeed a Cinco de Mayo staple, but they rarely ever look like these.
I filled organic taco shells (which you can always use soft, if you prefer) with a curried tempeh filling. The tempeh is crumbled into a stew of veggies and spices and resembles "beef" when it is fully cooked. The vegetables are those that you may find in a basic curry, such as potatoes, carrots, peas...I added some corn in for sweetness as well.
Japanese curry, in my experience, has always been slightly sweeter and more earthy than Indian or Thai curry. I gave the filling this flavor by adding in a bit of cinnamon and mirin to offset the savory garlic and cumin-based curry spice. The resulting flavor is rich, but not hot. Feel free to add chilies or red pepper flakes to increase the hotness. I left this batch mild to accompany the slightly sweet and acidic cabbage slaw I made as a topping!
Enjoy these with any and all taco fixings, a festive drink, and maybe some guac and chips if you're extra hungry. ;)
It's good to be back! <3
Japanese Curry Tempeh Tacos
Free of: Gluten, Oil (dressing only)
Yield: about 6 servings
Curried Tempeh Filling
Apple Slaw Ingredients
Last year for VeganMoFo, I ventured to make my own mochi from scratch and it was tasty! Sometimes, though, I want mochi for a snack and I'm not able to make it myself. I try not to buy the prepared mochi desserts as they contain a scary amount of sugar! When I was in cooking school, my instructor Christine introduced the class to a great brand called Grainaissance that makes mochi for cooking at home and it's made with wholesome ingredients and brown rice.
I grabbed a pack one day just to have in case I needed a quick breakfast one morning. What I ended up doing with said pack will amaze you!
I cut the block of mochi in half and prepared it 2 ways: one sweet and traditional and one savory and crazy! If you're feeling one resulting mochi over the other, feel free to prepare your entire block that way. I wanted a little of both, as usual, so I went a little nuts.
The mochi "chicken" nuggets that I'm highlighting here are surprisingly easy to make. I love that mochi is naturally sticky so all you need to do to get something to stick to it is coat it in a little water. No egg wash needed! ^_^
The breading that I created definitely tastes like the outside of a chicken nugget. The texture of the fried mochi is slightly more firm than a mozzarella stick. So, if you're into mozzarella sticks and/or chicken (or meat-free chicken) nuggets, try this recipe. It's much less processed, contains no soy, has whole grains, fiber and protein and is absolutely delicious. The mochi nuggets came out crunchy on the outside (and I mean, crunchyyy!) and soft and chewy on the inside. It's a great snack for watching football, too (if you're into that).
The kinako mochi is very simple to make and is a great accompaniment to tea or coffee. These little bites are slightly sweetened with coconut sugar to highlight the nutty flavor of the kinako. It's a great way to enjoy something sweet without overindulging.
Mochi "Chicken" Nuggets
The only way I can describe their texture is by saying that it is between that of a plum and a tomato, but without seeds in the center. They have a similar "slippery" feel to them. They are light and delicate and have a deliciously sweet flavor. They aren't acidic hardly at all, which is why I like to pair them with citrus. This tart that I've created does just that!
I got the idea to create a frangipane filling for these wonderful persimmon slices to nestle into. I wanted to try to make the tart nut-free, though. I've always wanted to try to substitute almond meal for chickpea flour. I love the flavor of chickpeas in desserts. They provide an earthy savory flavor that I love when it's slightly sweet.
This tart can easily be made into a pie if you wish. I included a recipe for the tart shell that I made. It's a cornmeal-based crust. If you'd rather a more traditional tart shell, head over to the Post Punk Kitchen's blog. I adapted the frangipane filling recipe from Isa's in Vegan Pie in the Sky. I wanted to keep my tart nut-free, so I opted for the cornmeal crust.
All this baking is getting me pumped for Thanksgiving! I wanted to provide a recipe for everyone to enjoy that was simple yet elegant. It's also a little lighter than a pie, so feel free to compensate by smothering it in vegan ice cream! ;D
Orange Persimmon Frangipane Tart
Yield: 1 - 1o inch tart/ 9" pie
Free from: Gluten, Nuts, Soy
Cornmeal Crust (OR prepared crust of your choice)
Preheat oven 345 F.
Tart Filling & Assembly
Preheat oven to 350 F.
It's the last day of VeganMoFo 2015!!!! ='(
I'm very sad to see this month come to an end. Even though I faced a bit of a challenge making sure I posted every day while working full time, I managed to pull it off! Phew!
Although it was tiring, it was the most fun I've had in the kitchen in a very long time. I loved being able to come up with creative ideas (sometimes on the fly...eheh) and see them come to life. Tasting them wasn't bad, either. ;)
Best of all, I got to share my dishes with all the vegan blogging community! I've never felt so supported and humbled at the same time. I think everyone did an amazing job and I want to commend all those who participated!
My final dish for you this month is my answer to the Fusion Challenge: Chipotle Risotto & Beans!
It took everything I had to not make a Japanese fusion dish, but I'm glad I didn't. I have to credit by boyfriend for this idea. He helped me when I was second guessing what to make and he suggested this dish. What an amazing thing.
What I love about risotto is that it's very easy to customize once you know how to cook it correctly. The first time I made risotto, I did it right but it took forever! I didn't prep adequately so I spent forever gathering all my ingredients. Now, I feel that simple is better.
This risotto may look complicated, but it really isn't. I basically took a "rice and beans" approach to this with regards to flavor. I coated back beans in chorizo-type spices and roasted them to give them a little bit of texture.
The beans pair nicely with the creamy risotto. The risotto is a tad spicy and buttery, while the beans are warm and smokey. I garnished everything with some bright cilantro and my goodness it was perfection! The smell of this dish is great just by itself.
Serve this risotto in small portions for an appetizer or larger ones for an entree. You can also make them into arancini. I won't stop you. ^_^
Thanks for reading, everyone! I'm stoked for next year's MoFo already. Keep reading for my rocky adventure into the holiday season! ;)
Chipotle Risotto & Beans
For my rainy/snowy/generally dreary day meal, I'm going to make some broth and put stuff in it.
I love soups of all types, all year round. The best time for soup, though is the fall and winter for me. I love coming inside from the cold to a bowl (or sometimes cup!) of piping hot liquid with deliciously seasoned veggies in it.
Soup is always great, too because its flavors become more concentrated as time goes by. I love to eat soups the day after I make them, when the ingredients have had time to marinate and become more rich. There's nothing better to make you feel at home!
I also love to eat sandwiches and soup together. I like sandwiches by themselves, too, but much more if they're next to a bowl of soup. There's something about eating bread and soup together...it's such a classic combination. I'm going to throw together a sandwich from ingredients that I have on hand, so definitely do the same if you're into the idea! I didn't include a recipe for the sandwich because I think it's a fun thing to play with depending on the ingredients you have at your house and what's in season near you. For me, it's early Autumn and I decided to go a little sweet and savory with sliced apple, caramelized onion (reserved from the soup!) and vegan cheese. You need to indulge every now and then, people! ;)
This prompt was interesting because I really had to think about what ingredients I had in my house already. I always keep certain things in my fridge, like miso, onions, etc. I figured miso soup would be a great thing to make since I almost always have the ability to make it! I tried to make my miso soup a tad different than the normal scallion and tofu combo. My grandma taught me to make miso with whatever I had to put in it. If you have daikon, put that in it. Potato? Put that in. Onion? Yup! So, I figured, what's something cool I can do with onion? Uh, caramelize them! And leeks too? Why not?! =D
This soup recipe is meant to feed approximately 4 people. You can make it stretch if you serve everyone a smaller portion. For a small crowd, though, I'd double the recipe. Plus, leftovers!! ^_^
Caramelized Leek & Onion Miso Soup
Yield: About 4 servings
Free of: Gluten, Nuts, Sugar
My sandwich was:
This retro recipe is inspired by a few things for me. I wanted to pick a recipe that reminded me of my grandparents. I picked halva because it is one of my grandpa's favorite treats and I always thought it was weird as a kid (and it's also a totally ancient recipe...now that's retro!). The only memory I have of it is seeing it in the Joyva package while thinking, "What is that?". Only till I became vegan and discovered all the wonderful things you could do with tahini did I realize that sweetening it was genius.
Tahini is just the sesame seed version of peanut butter, right? ;)
So, deciding that I wanted to make a tahini confection, I decided on grain-free cookies. I took inspiration from a traditional pignoli cookie recipe which is just almond meal, egg and sugar. When she first started eating a gluten-free diet, my mom requested these cookies at Christmas time. She isn't a big fan of sweets, so this came as a surprise to me. Pignoli cookies have a different character than a regular cookie, though. They are crispy, chewy, light but full of flavor. They're moist too! Moisture without butter or oil...what a wonder!
I decided that in order for my cookie to taste like tahini first and foremost, it must be grain-free. I added some things to the cookie dough for texture and sweetness, but not overly so. I think this cookie is wonderful as a snack because it satisfies a sweet craving but also offers some nutrition without a ton of processed fats included. The only fats in this recipe are from seeds (flax and sesame), so it is suitable for those who are allergic to nuts!
I added in a pop of acidity and flavor with chopped dried apricots and apricot jam in the icing. There's also a candied apricot on top because, why not? ;D
Apricot Halva Cookies
Yield: Approx 15 cookies
Free of: Nuts, Gluten, Refined Sugar (excluding icing)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
This is my very first food blog! I post revised conventional recipes of foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. My cooking here is all gluten-free and cruelty-free, but full of flavor and comfort.