Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spicy Seitan Strips with Pine Nuts, Asparagus, and Madagascar Pink Rice

I made a simple, but, my wife and I (and my toddler!) felt, tasty dinner tonight. I recently picked up a nice, new for me, Madagascar pink rice. It is simply cooked in a 1 : 1 3/4 ratio (i.e., put a unit of rice in a pan then add one and three quarters units water; I also put in a vegan bouillon cube). While it was cooking, I took half of a box of seitan strips and sauteed them in a little oil over medium heat in a cast iron pan. I also put in a hot chili pepper, quartered; it seemed to be quite hot, so I only left it in a few minutes, then discarded it (the flavor and heat did gently get into the dish). A few minutes into the saute, I added about a half dozen garlic chives, cut into fifths or so; a few minutes after that, with the seitan gently browning, I added a small half handful of pine nuts. Pine nuts can easily burn, so I turned the heat off and cooked, stirring, for another minute, before removing the entire dish to a bowl. I added some fresh squeezed lemon juice and Happy Human's Basic Boost Spice Rub (garlic, onion, paprika, salt, echinacea, "and other super secret organic spices"). I also cooked some fresh asparagus in that same cast iron pan over medium heat with a little oil. I cooked just 2 minutes or so, till the asparagus became a darker green. I served it with fresh lemon, freshly ground black pepper, and a little salt. Dinner was quite good. This rice has a lovely taste with lots of interesting nuances I'll have to try to identify; perhaps I'll have to make it plain without bouillon. I really like using this rice - it is a whole-grain rice but only takes 20m to cook.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thai Eggplant Stew with Tomato Salad and Pina Colada

Over medium heat, I sauteed half of an eggplant, cut into half lengthwise then 3/4" slices, in a cast iron pan while in a stainless steel stockpot, also over medium heat, I sauteed half of a package of seitan cut into large 3/4" or so pieces. When the seitan was showing signs of getting brown, I added about 4 or 5 stalks (not leaves - my wife enjoyed them with her lunch earlier) of Swiss chard cut into 1/4" slices, as well as 4 or 5 very small cloves of garlic (equivalent to one or two regular cloves, I suppose) and a little bit (1/2 teaspoon or so) of diced ginger; we are, alas, out of jalapeno, but I would have liked to have added some at this point.

After a few minutes, I transferred the eggplant, lightly brown, into the pan and added a little over half of a can of organic light coconut milk (I used about half of the remainder to make pina coladas - see below), maybe another 1/2 teaspoon diced ginger, a big handful of fresh coriander roughly chopped into halves or thirds, about a quarter bell pepper cut into 1/2" or so chunks, and a few stalks of garlic chives cut into 1" lengths. I also added some paprika and a little salt. I simmered for a few minutes and served.

We're also out of rice noodles, but I did have two packages of Ramen noodles, so heated one package and used that to accompany the eggplant. As a side, I made a simple version of Thai tomatoes by dicing most of a large tomato and mixing in 1 teaspoon or so of Ume plum vinegar, a few dashes of a vinegar-based hot sauce, and some alder-smoked salt (I wish I had Indian "kala namak" ("black salt" - really pink in color), and let it sit for as long as possible. I sprinkled the liquid and then some sesame seeds over the noodles, before serving the tomato.

I cut a fresh organic pineapple and put about half of it, roughly cut into chunks, into the VitaMix blender. One thing nice about this blender is that the pineapple core can be used, as I did. I also put in a little bit of ginger (!), half of the remaining coconut milk, maybe 3T of raw cashew pieces, 3 dates, and a few ice cubes, and blended. I rarely drink alcohol, and wonder what this would taste with a touch of rum, but in any case the drink came out well and went well with the Thai dinner.

I thought dinner was fine, but this turned out to be one of the only times that my wife said the food was "okay". I wish that I had had more of the ingredients that I had wanted for the main dish and noodles!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Organic Tricolor Quinoa with Fingerling Potatoes and Kale, Uttapam

We usually have uttapam, a South Indian pancake, batter made in our VitaMix blender and ready to use - it's really quite easy and created by just blending together rice and lentils, and letting the white batter ferment a day or so. It's probably my daughter's favorite food.

Today, my wife ate Senagalese food when she went to a parents' night out. I had the pleasure of my parents' coming over to eat. My Mom doesn't eat onions or garlic, and I wanted to make something that we could all enjoy.

I made a nice quinoa dish. In the past month or so, I've found a new kind of quinoa, an organic tricolor one. I took about a half dozen or so small fingerling potatoes, cut them in half and, in a stock pot with a little olive oil, gently cooked the potatoes over medium heat for 6 or 7 minutes till the potatoes were showing just a little bit of hint of brown. I then added a small zucchini, cut into maybe 3/8" thick discs that were then quartered. A minute or so later, I added a quarter teaspoonful or so of cumin seeds, stirred for less than a half minute, then added the tricolor quinoa (maybe 2/3 cup) and twice as much water, as well as some hand-torn kale leaves, a touch of salt, and a few small pieces of ginger. I brought to a boil, then simmered, covered for a few minutes. I turned the heat off and left the pan covered for about 7-10 minutes till the characteristic spiral was evident in the quinoa.

I served the quinoa with some tasty uttapam; for mine, I included bell pepper, green onion, ginger, and Daiya vegan cheddar-style "cheese". My daughter and parents ate well, and we all seemed to enjoy!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Farro Pasta with Vegan Apple-Sage Sausage

My wife had eaten on her own today before we went to a meeting. By the time I got home and was able to cook, it was fairly late, so I made a simple dinner for myself. I prepared some farro pasta, and served with marinara sauce, olives, and nutritional yeast. I cooked on a cast iron pan with very little oil a Field Roast Grain Meat Company apple-sage artisanal vegan sausage with onions and bell peppers. An avocado completed the tasty and easy meal!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crispy Seitan and Arugula, Baked Squash, Baked Potato, Baked Purple Sweet Potato

I had an interesting idea which my wife and I agreed came out tasting very good. I cut a box of seitan into thin strips, maybe 1" long and 1/4" thick, and marinated them in lemon juice for an hour or two (the longer, the better). I drained the seitan from its lemon juice marinade, pressing down to get the moisture out. I sauteed a diced garlic clove for a minute or so over medium heat in a cast iron pan with a little bit of olive oil, then added the seitan and let it cook for about 5-7 minutes till it was crispy. I mixed it in with raw arugula, topped with a little freshly ground black pepper, and a touch of salt - it was yummy!

I also served baked squash, potato, and sweet purple potato, as well as raw tomato slices. Dinner was filling and tasty!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Thai Coconut Galangal Mixed Vegetables

We got home in the evening after exercising and I had a desire to make a Thai dish (an out-of-state friend celebrating a birthday was going to a Thai restaurant, and that triggered it!), but I didn't want to take a long time because it was getting late. I would have enjoyed making some Thai noodles, but we were out - and there wasn't enough time to make brown rice.

Luckily, I had a bottle of Thai coconut galangal stir-fry sauce. For the noodles, I had some ramen noodles, which served as a quick side.

Over medium-high heat, I sauteed five or six little round Yukon Gold potatoes, quatered. As the potato started getting cooked (after about 5-7 minutes), I added seitan (not enough! I only had maybe 1/8 tub, but would have liked a half or full tub, sliced thickly - since I had so little, I cut it into smaller pieces to spread out) and half of a medium onion diced into pieces maybe 1/4-1/2" in size. A few minutes later, I put in two large handfuls of oyster mushrooms, roughly cut so that each mushroom segment was halved.

A minute or so later, I added about 1/2 teaspoon chopped ginger, about 1/8 large bell pepper cut into thick halved slices, and a few broccoli florets. Once the broccoli became deep green in about two minutes, I added a few tablespoons of cashews; I had hoped to use raw, but we only had a little bit of chopped raw cashews; I added them, as well as roasted ones. I cooked just for another half minute or so, then added about 4 ounces of the sauce and simmered just for a minute or two, then served with the ramen noodles, topped with sesame seeds, and some tomato (I wish I had cucumber). It was good!