Saturday, March 28, 2009

when the cat's away...

I finally got together some pictures of food.  It's about time right?  Michael's been out of town this week, so I've been eating stuff he doesn't like or gets tired of faster than me.  Like...falafel!  And capers!  The thing is, I forgot that when you cook for just yourself, if you don't cut recipes in half, you'll have leftovers forever.  So I really only had to cook twice in 5 days.  That's pretty sweet, in theory, but I did get a little tired of eating the same stuff.  Anyway, I guess you probably want to see it, yeah?  Ok.

A few days ago, I got this rad idea from Dreena Burton's blog for braising tempeh with lemon and capers.  She didn't post a recipe, but I got some ideas from the photo.  Besides...I really don't need an excuse to put lemons or capers in my food, so this was a no-brainer.  Still, I had some tricks up my sleeve that I blatantly stole from her.
bubble bubble toil and trouble

Yeah, so those are lemon slices.  They add a really great kick of lemon flavor that juice and zest alone do not.  If you do this though, make sure you don't eat those rinds...they are hella bitter if you bite into one.  They do look pretty though, don't they?  The other thing I ripped off Dreena was to add red onion.  That's not a real big rip-off, but I rarely remember about how awesome cooked red onions are, so I don't normally use them.  The best part about the whole thing?  Braised tempeh absorbs so much flavor that it's unbelieveable.  There was no trace of the bitterness that is associated with...badly cooked tempeh.  You could serve this sauce over just about any grain, but I chose bulgar wheat, which absorbed the sauce nicely.
brussels sprouts a la cart

I really want to post a recipe of this...but I need to think of a new title first.  Here:

Braised Tempeh with Capers, Artichokes, and Grape Tomatoes

1 block tempeh, sliced thinly into 16 rectangles
1 Tbsp olive oil
water, as needed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 Tbsp capers, chopped (or more if you like)
1 Tbsp caper brine
2 lemons, one sliced very thinly into rounds, one juiced
1/2 cup white cooking wine
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cups water with a chickn bouillon (or use veggie bouillon or veggie broth)
1/2 15-oz can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
couple handfuls of grape (or cherry) tomatoes
1/2-3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
cracked black pepper to taste

First up, steam your tempeh for about 12 minutes to prepare it.  In a large skillet, heat up the oil, then toss in the red onion, garlic, and shallot.  Cook on medium heat until the red onion starts to soften, then throw in your tempeh slices.  Things will probably start to stick to your pan at this point, so I add splashes of water (kept in a little salad dressing bottle by the stove) to deglaze and keep things moving in the pan.  Once the onion cooks down fully and the tempeh is getting some browned spots on it, add the white wine, capers, caper brine, water + bouillon (or broth), red wine vinegar, lemon juice and lemon slices to the pan and bring to a boil.  Once it boils, reduce heat to a simmer and let that liquid reduce by about 2/3.  You still want some liquid in there, but not over 1/2 cup (so my math is probably wrong here, huh?).  This will take about an hour, by my calculations.  Meanwhile, prepare whatever grain or pasta you want to serve this with, get any side dishes in order, and chop up your parsley.  Before the liquid is fully reduced (about 45 minutes in), add the tomatoes and artichokes.  Continue to cook until the liquid level is where you want it, then stir in the parsley and cook only for 1-2 minutes, so that's it's wilted, but not discolored.  Turn off heat, add black pepper to taste.  Serve with a grain to soak up that saucy goodness!

It's really a lot of downtime, you don't even have to really stir the sauce while it reduces.  I stirred the whole thing maybe twice in an hour.  Still, remember to pick out those lemon rinds!  They will be very soft and look enticing, but you really don't wanna eat 'em.

Next up is dinner last night.  Earlier this week, I made falafel and ate it on a salad that I'd made a hummus dressing for (which was totally awesome, by the way).  All the pictures of it are terrible though (pre-new camera).  Anyway, I made enough to have falafel for lunches and snacks throughout the week.  Last night I ate the last of it and made little flatbread falafel pizzas with it!
falafely goodness

I have these spinach flatbread things for rollups, but they're also great for crispy pizzas.  I just put a healthy dose of the hummus on them, then crumbled up the falafel and covered them with thin slices of tomatoes.  After baking at 400F for about 10-15 minutes, I took them out and added diced pickled jalapenos, avocado, lettuce, and......radish shoots!  Yes, those are shoots from the garden (the radishes needed thinned out and I couldn't bear to just throw out those lovely little sproutlings).  They were delicious, by the way.  As was this whole pizza!  A nice change from how I'd been eating the falafel...and I can never have enough creative pizza in my life.

So that's really all I ate of note while Michael was gone...  It all lasted me a long time, plus I had pizza out one night with a friend (and accidentally ate parmesan cheese on a breadstick, blarf).  I had a nice palate vacay, but I can't wait for him to get back today and for us to cook together again!

Oh, by the way, this stuff is amazing:
dr. cow tree nut cheese

My boss brought these back for me from New York last week (upon my request and payment, of course).  They are freaking tasty, kids.  Made from aged cashews, they taste like what I remember sharp cheddar to have tasted like.  I let my boss taste some and he said that I was crazy and it didn't taste at all like cheese, but that it did taste good (for weird vay-gun shit).  Anyway, I reccommend these to those of you with a penchant for a tasty spread, because these are a hit on fancypants crackers.  It's really rich, and it's also pretty expensive (about $9 for one of those tiny things), so use sparingly.  Thanks, Dr. Cow, for making something so yumtastic.  I'm not sure where all you can find these except in nice health food stores and possibly from food fight, but you can go to their website here and check it out.

I have more pictures of foods we ate last week (or...earlier), but I really need to go do some laundry before Michael gets home.  Hope you're all having a great weekend!  

19 comments:

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

That falafel pizza creation looks delicious!

I really like the Dr. Cow's too-- even if they are pricy. So good! I have that green one in the fridge to try. I get mine from Vegan Essentials. It's awesome your boss brought you some!

shelby said...

Mmm, that tempeh dish sounds lovely!

I love having leftovers but yeah it does get boring. I'll eventually make something new with it, eat it for breakfast (to mix things up), or mix a bunch of leftovers together.

Fabulous Dr. Cow cheese!

shellyfish said...

falafel pizza!!!! And next time Michael is out of town I'm coming to your place to help with those left-overs!
That Dr. Cow cheese sounds really interesting - I would love to try some!

Cera said...

That looks so good! Also, you said hella! I can't believe you don't live in NoCal....

miss v said...

ooo. thanks for the recipe, girl! i actually just ordered some tempeh starter so i can make my own. and i definitely need some tips on how not to hate it. :)

falafel pizza - you freaking rock!

veggievixen said...

holy crap, that tempeh dish looks fantastic. i recently discovered what braising actually means. must try this recipe...thanks!

jessy said...

look at all these beauuuutiful pictures! wahooooooo! and i'm still totally jealousfaced of your new rock'n camera! ahahahaa! yay!

flatbread falafel pizzas = brilliant! dan & i are having falafel tonight (w00t!) and looks like i'm gonna have to take the leftovers and make me some flatbread falafel pizza goodnesses! mmmmmmmm! freak'n brilliant on eating up those sprouts that needed thinning out! i never woulda thought of that, Jessica. damn, you rock so hard!

hooray for making mucho deliciousness when the boys are outta down! dan's a caper-hater (and an artichoke hater! wtf!?!) - so i'll need him to go away for a bit before i can make your totally scrumptious look'n (and sounding) braised tempeh with capers, artichokes, and tomaters! oh sweet jeebus, he needs to go soon!

i'm visiting my bro in NY in either may or june - totally gonna have to pick up some of those dr. cow cheeses. they sound divine!

Sal said...

hummus falafel flatbread pizza - genius!! I'm really hungry now. The tempeh dish looks great too.

aTxVegn said...

Falafel hummus pizza is a fantastic idea and it looks way too good!

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Ooh, I need to braise tempeh with lemon slices! So smart!
I love Dr. Cow! Most people think the blue is too stinky, but I loved it!

Virginia said...

thanks for the recipe! that nut cheese sounds interesting! nice of your boss to get it for you!

Celine said...

I've been itching to try these cheeses for a while now. that's it, I'm giving in and ordering me some.

T said...

I've been dying to try Dr. Cow cheese ever since I read about them in veg times. Good to hear they live up to the hype!

And that braised tempeh looks mighty tasty as well, can't wait to try the recipe!

Hannah said...

Oh I've been dying to try that Dr. Cow stuff... It sounds so different from everything else on the market, and pretty good, too! It's a shame it's not widely available... And so freaking expensive!

Eric said...

I love your falafel pic. It looks so professional and nicely presented!

I've been meaning to try the nut cheese. Thanks for giving a review, I've been kinda on the fence but I think I'm gonna give it a try!

be'ershevaboheme6 said...

Yum. Yum. Yum.

I can't believe I haven't added you to my blogroll over at www.bokchoybohemia.com yet...doing that NOW.

(And then braising some tempeh with onion, that looks AWESOME!)

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徵信社 said...

I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.
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