Thursday, January 10, 2019

Creamy "Cheese" Cauliflower Soup (Almost No Added Fat)

Recently we stopped by Living Kitchen, a very nice vegan and (subject to ingredient availability) organic restaurant, and had a tasty thick cauliflower soup. I picked up a head of cauliflower today and decided to try making a similar soup. I had made a cauliflower soup back in February 2011 that was good but I wanted to better it.

I found a roasted cauliflower soup recipe from a very nice site by a woman named Jessica and it looked great. The key ideas were to roast cauliflower, coated in a little olive oil and along with garlic cloves, at  450°F for 15m, then blend with sauteed onion.

I made a few changes; I used the convection ("air bake") function on my air fryer toaster oven which cooks faster and went with 400°F for 15m, instead of using oil, I mixed in Coconut Secret brand coconut aminos garlic sauce (soy sauce or their normal coconut aminos would have been fine), and I used oregano instead of thyme.  I didn't have any bouillon cubes on hand or broth, so I used filtered water and just a few (maybe 5) raw cashews for creaminess and thickness. I had sauteed the onion in a cast iron pan and then mixed all the ingredients in my Vitamix blender - including some nutritional yeast. As Jessica suggested, I saved a few pieces of roasted cauliflower and added atop the soup.

Here is a copy of the original recipe from Jessica's site.





INGREDIENTS
Roasted Cauliflower Soup - Vegan, Incredibly Easy
  • 1 large head cauliflower, de-stemmed and florets broken up
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed with skins still on
  • 1/2 large vidalia onion
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme, stems removed
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth

Roasted Cauliflower Soup - Vegan, Incredibly Easy
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.
  • Add the cauliflower to the baking sheet and 1 tablespoon olive oil, about ½ teaspoon salt and grind some pepper over it all. Using your hands, mixing it all in, massaging the ingredients into the cauliflower. Add the smashed garlic (skins still on) on the baking sheet. The skins help to prevent it burning; you'll remove thee afterwards. Roast for 15 minutes. I like to reserve a few pieces after roasting to top the soup with.
  • Meanwhile, in a large high sided pot over medium high heat, sauté the onions in the ½ tablespoon olive oil until fragrant and browning, about 8 minutes, stirring infrequently.
  • Add the roasted cauliflower, the garlic (skins remove), 2 sprigs of thyme and vegetable broth. Mix together with spatula.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir once more. If using an immersion blender, blend the soup together. If using a high powered blender, let cool slightly and add slowly to blender. Press the "soup" setting or blend on high until soup is thoroughly mixed and incorporated, at least 1 minute. Be careful that your soup is not too hot to crack your blender. Taste and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour into bowls and top optionally with extra cauliflower, crushed red peppers, extra thyme and a drizzle of coconut milk. Enjoy!


I'm glad that I found this recipe and this site! I also made some quinoa cooked with chopped broccoli stalk and with tofu (the tofu wasn't for my wife).

Results

The soup was excellent! I loved the flavor and consistency. It's a winner!

Ideas for the future

I share Jessica's enthusiasm about roasted cauliflower. My toaster oven is fast and I think I could have baked for maybe 10m instead of 15m. I should also try other cauliflower soups maybe with kale or broccoli.

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Monday, January 07, 2019

Air "Fried" Eggplant with Homemade Tomato Sauce, Grits with Edamame (No Added Fat)

I made an air fried eggplant dish with grits on the side. I used Ener-G Egg Replacer to have a sticky "egg" that I dipped eggplant slices (about 3/8" thick) into, followed by dredging them in a mixture of panko bread crumbs, along with a little nutritional yeast, sesame seeds, salt, and black pepper. I air fried with no oil for 5 minutes at 400°F. I also made a fresh tomato sauce by gently simmering cubes of tomato with onion, dried oregano, a little hot red pepper, and salt, and serving it atop the eggplant.

I prepared grits by getting 3 cups salted water boiling then adding maybe 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame. I cooked for a few minutes till the edamame was defrosted, then added 1 cup grits and a few tablespoonfuls of nutritional yeast. I stirred occasionally and cooked for 5-7 minutes until thick.


Results

Dinner was very good! My daughter particularly liked the meal and ate leftovers again later in the evening. The eggplant was nicely crispy and the sesame flavor was quite nice. The grits were very good!

Ideas for the future

I should use egg replacer and sesame more often in making air fried dishes. I was originally going to air fry other vegetables along with the eggplant and should soon make a melange of air fried mixed vegetables maybe served with a tomato or creamy sauce.

I was not initially planning on using edamame but it turned out to be convenient. It wasn't an ideal flavor combination, but wasn't bad. I should experiment with other grit combinations.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Vegan Ricotta and Baked Bean Manicotti

My daughter loves manicotti and I decided to make a batch tonight. She readily agreed to help. It ended up being too late for my wife, who enjoyed leftovers; she will eat this tomorrow and I may cook a tofu dish for my daughter and me.

I used Jovial brand manicotti shells made from brown rice. I used the recipe that they had on the box as a rough starting point.

In one pan, I made a sauce with a 14.5 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, along with peas (my daughter's request; I would have used artichoke hearts), spinach, butternut squash, nutritional yeast, oregano, salt, pepper, and red chili powder. As it simmered, I prepared the filling.

I had purchased on sale Kite Hill brand "ricotta cheese" made from almonds. The box's recipe called for 16 ounces of ricotta, but my tub was half that size, so we needed to improvise to get additional bulk for the stuffing (the recipe even had additional items - 4 ounces of Parmesan cheese, a beaten egg, and 4 ounces of mozzarella cheese). I was thinking of blending some cannellini beans but my daughter loves baked beans and, when she spied that I had a can of them, insisted that we use them. That's what I did, and I blended them with the ricotta and, to cut the baked bean sweetness a bit, a bit of onion, as well.

We preheated the oven to 375°F and put half of the sauce in the bottom of a 9"x13" glass baking dish. We boiled the manicotti shells for 4 minutes then stuffed each with the filling and put in the dish. Once all the manicotti shells were filled and placed, we covered with the remaining sauce and cooked, covered, for 40m. If we had put "cheese" on top, we would have cooked another 5 minutes, uncovered; in fact, I had a few shells that were shy of filling, so I added a few sprinkles of Daiya brand shreds on those for my daughter and did cook for the extra 5 minutes.


Results

My daughter loved the manicotti! I thought it was good but missed artichokes and wish that the filling were less heavy.

Ideas for the future

The ricotta I used had 7g of fat per serving, with 8 servings in the tub. We each went through about 1/5 of the yield, so the cheese contributed about 56g/5 or 11g of fat, which isn't low. While I wish that the fat content were lower, I still want to experiment with more ricotta dishes, such as:

  • I remember years ago enjoying Seva, an Ann Arbor vegetarian restaurant. They made an excellent Mexican dish with cream cheese and butternut squash, or something similar. I bet this ricotta mixed with the squash and pureed would be good as a manicotti.
  • My Mom used to make a ricotta Indian dessert, ras malai or burfi. I generally find Indian sweets too sweet, but it might be worth trying to bring back a food that my Mom used to enjoy making.
  • I could make a manicotti with this ricotta and spinach with some olives or other punctuation of flavor.
  • It would be fun to try pizza with dollops of the ricotta.

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Friday, December 07, 2018

Pressure-Cooked Risotto with Peas and Carrots, Air "Fried" Tempeh (or Tofu) (No Added Fat)

I decided to make risotto like I described last May with a 1 to 2 ratio of arborio rice to water pressure cooked for 5m, along with cubes of potato and carrot, plus peas, onion, and garlic. I also prepared tempeh (tofu for my daughter; I had some tofu, too) in the air fryer at 350°F for 4m.
Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

Anasazi Beans with Fresh Tomato, Quinoa with Cranberry Sauce (No Added Fat)

I prepared Anasazi beans in my my Instant Pot pressure cooker by soaking for 8 hours then cooking with just enough water to cover for 23m. I put the beans in a large Saladmaster skillet pan after sauteing, without oil or anything else, shallot slices. I mixed in bell pepper, salt, and cumin, and cooked for a few minutes. I then added 1/2" cubes of fresh tomato and cooked for another 2 minutes or so.

I served alongside some quinoa that I had made (1 part quinoa to two parts water and a vegan bouillon cube, brought to a boil and then, with the heat off but covered, let stand for 10m or so). Originally, I was going to experiment with using cranberry sauce mixed into the beans, but I had purchased some tasty organic cranberry sauce that tasted so good that I decided to top the quinoa with the sauce so that the sauce could be used by itself, with the quinoa, or with the beans, as each of us desired.
Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

I should indeed experiment with mixing cranberry sauce - maybe even fresh cranberries appropriately sweetened or otherwise tempered - in with ingredients like beans.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Red Split Dhal with Vegetables, Arugula and Mixed Tomato Salad with Mango Miso Dressing in Celebration of Friends' New Baby (No Added Fat)

I'm so excited that friends of mine just had a baby and I'm first in the meal train to bring food over! It's always a privilege to be able to be connected in any way with a new baby and I'm thankful that I get to take food over.

I like to include fenugreek when I cook for new Moms to help stimulate lactation; I don't like the flavor of fenugreek but when I cook with it, I always make sure that the fenugreek is enveloped with many other strong flavors so it doesn't show through. Here is what I did.


Ingredients
  • 3 cups red split lentils
  • 2 cups kale (I used frozen, but fresh is fine)
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups carrot (2 medium carrots) cut into 3/8" chunks and then halved
  • 1T finely (1/8") chopped ginger
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely (1/8") chopped (about 1 1/2 T)
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1t turmeric
  • 1t garlic powder
  • 1t cumin seed
  • 1T fenugreek seed
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups chopped bell pepper (approx. 1/4" x 3/4" slices)
  • 2 cups onion cut into 3/8" cubes (I used about 1/3 of a red onion and 1/3 of a Vidalia onion)
  • 4T lime juice
  • 2t salt
Process
  1. Split lentils cook in a ratio of 1 : 2-2.5 parts water for 13-18m under pressure. I went with a 1:2 ratio for a thicker dhal for 16m. I put all of the ingredients except the onion, lime juice, and salt, into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 16m.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then mixed in the bell pepper, onion, lime juice, and salt.
I took this over along with long-grained brown rice (cooked in a 1:2.5 ratio for 45m) and various salad ingredients (arugula and mixed cherry tomatoes). I made a simple chickpea miso - mango dressing (a combination I'd not tried before but I think it came out well; I blended 2T miso with 1/2 t black sesame seeds - a great source of calcium, a medium shallot (maybe 2 T), 1T mango chunks, 1T maple syrup, and 1/8 t salt.  When I come home, this will all also be my dinner! 

Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Udon Noodles with Curry Tofu Nuggets

I had a full day and came home late. I love tofu and decided to make udon noodles with curried tofu, spinach, and bell pepper, for a simple dinner for myself.
Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Black Bean and Corn Pupusa, Sauteed Broccolini and Spinach (No Added Fat)

My family is traveling and I came home late from teaching, so a quick meal for myself was in order. I love the pupusas that Tres Latin Foods makes - each is only 3.5g of fat and they're so tasty! I heated two of the black bean and corn ones in a 350°F oven for about 10m. I also sauteed with no oil on a cast iron pan some onion, garlic, broccolini, and spinach.
Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Hemp and Chickpea Tempeh with Broccolini and Cauliflower, Quinoa (Almost No Added Fat)

My wife and daughter are traveling on Friday and I'm teaching tomorrow, so this is my last meal for the family till they return. My wife had picked up some broccolini, which I thought I'd make a mixed vegetable waterless dish out of. I picked up some Hempé brand soy-free hemp seed and chickpea tempeh, which I air fried at 350°F for 4 minutes then 400°F for an additional 2 minutes.

I put, in this order, a little onion, half a head of broccolini chopped into 1/2" pieces, maybe 2 cups of frozen cauliflower florets, 3/4 cup frozen bell pepper slices, and a large baby bok choy, cut into 1" lengths, into a large Saladmaster stock pan. I cooked waterlessly - i.e., I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 20 minutes.

I mixed the "fried" tempeh and vegetables, then mixed in 4T of Frontera brand key lime skillet sauce (1g of fat per 2T). I served with sprouted quinoa and some delicious tomatoes.

I don't list this as "no added fat" because the tempeh has 7g of fat per serving, which is a quarter of the package. I used maybe 4/5 of the package; divided by the three of us, we each got about 4/15 or 1/4 of the package, so about 7g of fat. That's still not bad!

Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Fava Bean with Sweet Potato and Plantain (No Added Fat)

Introductory comments go here. Here is what I did.


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potato cut into approx. 3/8" cubes (I used a medium Japanese sweet potato); unpeeled if organic (as mine was)
  • Medium plantain, ripe or not, cut into 1/2" cubes (mine was ripe and, surprsingly, good eating raw, perhaps the first time I've found this to be the case; cut, it made 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1t fennel seeds
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 15 ounce can fava beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1t lime juice
  • 1/2 t salt
  • (optional) jalapeno, hot sauce, or other source of spicy heat to preference (I omitted, but hot sauce would have gone well with this dish)
Process
  1. I put all the ingredients except the beans, lime juice, salt, and optional heat into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and pressure steamed for 9m.
  2. After the cooking was done, I waited a few minutes and gently released pressure, then mixed in the remaining ingredients.
I served with Pad Thai brown rice noodles.
Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Cranberry Bean Soup (No Added Fat)

I bought some fresh cranberry beans from a nearby farmers' market this past weekend. I love cranberry beans and haven't seen them dried (or fresh) for sometime now.

I sauteed some onion and baby ginger in a small Saladmaster stock pan for a few minutes, then added the fresh beans, enough water to just cover the beans, a diced carrot, a green (not quite ripe) tomato that I also bought at the market, a vegan bouillon cube, garlic powder, and salt. I brought to a boil and cooked, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, then covered and simmered on low heat for  20 minutes. I then mixed in a chopped roasted bell pepper that I had also purchased from the market, and served, along with a cucumber-caper-Ume plum vinegar salad and brown rice noodles.

Results

I was going to serve the beans as the main course, which I did, but it turned out a soup rather than a more firm plated dish. I am not normally so excited about soup, but my whole family loved the entire dinner, especially the soup. It came together so nicely and with just the right punch of flavor. Wow!

Ideas for the future

I love cooking with my Instant Pot, but it was fun to make a bean dish stovetop today. Of course, the convenience of dried beans is great, but I quite enjoyed using fresh beans today and should look for them again. I should make more fresh bean soups and regular bean dishes.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Braised Tofu (or Tempeh) with Bell Pepper, "Cheesy" Riced Broccoli (Almost No Added Fat)

The hurricane is slowly passing us by and finally we had some sunshine today - but also tornado warnings this morning, a lot of rain, and nearby areas experienced flooding. We are lucking out and haven't even lost power, but I'm still focused on bringing down my frozen food inventory.

I recently bought frozen riced broccoli (blanced organic broccoli and salt), and decided to cook it waterlessly (I just put it in my small Saladmaster stock pan, covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 7-10 minutes, really just to defrost and heat up. I made a "cheese" sauce to serve atop the broccoli by blending soaked cashews, water, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, and, for color, a little bit of tomato and red bell pepper.

I mentioned in the recent past about, for me, a new tofu company called Hodo Foods . I bought their braised tofu and used it with dinner as the main course by sauteeing with bell pepper and onion (on cast iron with no oil); my wife doesn't eat tofu as it doesn't agree with her, so her serving was of tempeh instead of tofu.
Results

Pending

Ideas for the future

Pending

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Eat up Frozen Food in Preparation for Hurricane Florence: Vegan Harvest Pizza, Waterless Broccoli and Kale, Cinammon Vanilla "Toastable" Quinoa Tart

Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the Carolinas and I am concerned about those who live or have property along the shore. I remember living through Hurricane Fran, which was scary, and that was a category 3 storm; this could hit category 5 and be much more destructive. However, I'm hopeful that by the time it hits our area, we'll get perhaps 30-40 mph winds, which wouldn't be bad.

With that as a long preamble, we are not going to be surprised if our power goes out, so I thought I should start eating up frozen foods. If we do lose power and have frozen foods, they will quickly spoil and need to be discarded. I had a favorite frozen pizza, Vegan Harvest by American Flatbread on hand; I love its crispy crust and find it better than some pizzeria pizza.

I also made a waterless broccoli dish with broccoli, kale, garlic, onion, lemon juice, turmeric, garlic granules, and salt. I recently found a nice breakfast dish with organic grains and quinoa called a Cinnamon Vanilla "Toastable", which I served with organic raspberries akin to dessert.
Results

Dinner was good. I love the pizza and am glad that I had a big serving of the vegetables (and seconds) so that I only enjoyed one slice; it's good but not low in fat. The vegetables were quite good. My daughter didn't like the "toastable", but my wife and I did. It would indeed be good with breakfast, but was nice with our dinner.

Ideas for the future

I should get these toastables once in a while and use them with breakfast or again try them with dinner. A fruit sauce or maybe a little melted chocolate and chopped fruit would be good atop the toastable.

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Saturday, September 08, 2018

Thai Curry Nuggets with Vegetables, Brown Rice Noodles

The day before yesterday when I was shopping at Weaver Street Market Coop, I found products from a new company called Hodo that looked appealing (and they were on sale). I bought their Thai curry nuggets as well as braised tofu with Chinese five-spice. The nuggets are great!

They have very nice flavor and a chewy texture. They are great right out of the package, but today I decided to cook them with vegetables and red curry paste, and serve with brown rice noodles (my wife and daughter were away so I could cook tofu, which my wife has problems digesting, since I was cooking for myself).

The nuggets are a bit high in fat; the whole 8 ounce package has about 17 1/2 grams of fat. For tonight's meal, I used maybe a third of the package, so will call this about 6 grams of fat, which isn't bad.

I simply sauteed (with no oil) some onion, garlic, kale, bell pepper, and the nuggets, mixing in red curry paste. I served with brown rice noodles topped with black sesame seeds and tamari sauce.


Results

The tofu is delicious right out of the packet so it's no surprise that dinner was very good with all of the other flavors cooked together. In hindsight, the red curry paste didn't go great, but I used it to add more heat to the tame curry. Though I had mentioned garlic, I actually forgot to cook with garlic; the dish would have been even a slight bit better with garlic.

Ideas for the future

I love this new tofu product and only wish that it were lower in fat. I may contact the company and see if they might consider a baked or even air fried product. I should continue to make dishes like this when I'm not cooking for my wife, but don't need a curry paste. Perhaps a hint of lemon and miso dressing may be nice.

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Friday, September 07, 2018

Black Bean and Corn Pupusa, Butternut Squash Soup with Corn

I like the vegan frozen black bean and corn, as well as the kale and pinto beanpupusa (thick stuffed corn tortilla) that have been available over the last 6-12 months. The pupusa is from El Salvador and Honduras and these frozen convenience foods are sold by Tres Latin Foods. I had some black bean and corn pupusas on hand and used them for dinner.

My wife went out to a performance. My daughter was slightly under the weather and asked for soup. I thought I'd make some butternut squash soup, and I mixed corn in. Two pupusas topped with salsa, as well as romaine lettuce completed the meal.
Results

Dinner was very good! I'll have to make this dinner for my wife. The corn was a surprisingly good addition to the soup.

Ideas for the future

I should experiment with soups more often. I like chunky soups and wonder if some air fried beans or seitan might be nice in soup.

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