Saturday, May 9, 2009

i live, kind of.

So, I got the flu.  It knocked me on my ass.  'Nuff said.  

As a form of apology, please accept these delicious meals, in electronic form:
all kinds of rad

These are the Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes from Isa's blog.  They are pretty much the bee's knees.  Wait, is that vegan?  Regardless, is it too 1925?  Oh well.  You should make them.  As you can see, I burned mine slightly, but all in all, I'm pretty damned proud of my frying skills.  Cause I made this all by my lonesome one night.  I substituted tahini everywhere that the recipe called for Veganaise because I was all out of my trusty Nayonaise.  Still was totally awesome.  That remoulade on top is key, as well.  Make it all together when (not if) you do.  That soup in the background is the asparagus and spinach soup from Nava Atlas' Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for all Seasons (here on out called 'the soup book' because I gaurantee I will not want to type all that out every time I use the book).  It was a nice and simple soup, very fresh tasting and mighty easy to pull together.  I'm pretty smitten with this soup book.  You'll see.
giada pasta

Giada basically makes me want to vomit.  I hate most things about her.  She's too gorgeous and skinny to be this chef who makes all this fattening food.  She smiles too much and her teeth are too white.  Her shirts are too low cut.  And tight.  Which is probably why Michael was watching her show one day and got the idea for this pasta she was making (jk, but seriously).  It's cherry tomatoes roasted with garlic and capers and lemon juice (um, hello) and breadcrumbs on top of all that.  Then you mix it in with some pasta that you coated with parmesan (we've got a stockpile of vegan parmesan, it rules).  I got to pick out that fun pasta...I think it was called 'Wacky Mac'.  I could not resist.  Could you resist wagon wheels in your pasta?  Really though, this pasta was amazing.  So rich and creamy, somehow.  It had a lot of oil in it.  And it was wonderful.  Before the pasta, we ate this:
ceasar spectacular

As always, dressing recipe from the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook.  It's so fabulous.  I keep wanting to make the ceasar dressing from Veganomicon, but...I never have silken tofu.  Ever.  I kind of loathe it.  Plus, what is up with it needing to be fresh and not vacuum packed?  Really?  I love that cookbook, but so many ingredients just will not ever be found in West Virginia.  Ever.  Not to say I don't sub stuff in all the time.  It's just kind of a pain when I'm hungry and grouchy.  Anyway, that's all fine and well because the uncheese recipe is a favorite.  We added red bell peppers to our salad for some color and sweetness.  It ruled.
black bean quinoa mango etc

Ah...speaking of Veganomicon...  I made these two salads from it for a book club meeting I had a while back.  This one was a hit, but thank goodness the girls like cilantro.  A cup of cilantro?  Are you freaking kidding me?  I didn't add that much.  I mean, it tasted good.  I liked it.  But I think I just have a moral dillemna about adding that much cilantro to anything.  

This one was good too:
brooklyn deli pasta salad

I've never had pasta salad from a Brooklyn deli.  I get it though.  It's simple.  It doesn't need to have all kinds of complicated ingredients because the beauty is in the simple flavors shining through.  It was yummy.  I did think it was a little bland though, and added about a tablespoon of some mustard that Michael had made (I know!) to spice it up and add another dimension.  Because, no matter how important simplicity is, I am always up for fucking it up haha...  Oh well.

While we're on the subject of cold salads...
lunch perfection

I made a big pot of quinoa when I made that salad for the book club so I could have a base for some lunches the following week.  So on Monday when I came home for lunch hungry and in a hurry, this came together fairly quickly.  It's diced mango, sliced radishes, the quinoa, and green onions in my favorite poppyseed dressing.  It was light, but filling and darn tasty.  

On Cinco de Mayo, I went to a party and needed to bring food.  My taste buds had not yet bounced back from the flu (I feel like I missed a lot of good food during this time)...  So Michael made the food for it!  Coconut black beans with mango and avocado.
not really that mexican, but whatever

People went apeshit over this stuff.  It is good, though, I've had it many times before.  The beans get so creamy when you cook them with coconut milk, and the avocado only adds to that effect.  Then the mangos add the perfect amount of sweet...  Add some cayenne, cumin, and salt (and maybe some lime juice) and you're in business.  It's seriously the easiest and tastiest little meal to make.  I like to just eat it with a spoon, but it would be good wrapped in tortillas or eaten as a dip with chips, even.  And evidently, it is good party food.

So I don't know about where you live, but it's been raining pretty much nonstop here for the past 10 days.  Well, as I write that, the sun is shining, but it did rain earlier today, I swear.  Rain's cool and all, but sometimes you just get sick of it.  And what better way to chase away the rainy day blues than with a giant bowl of soup and some fresh bread?
bread-like, anyway

Those up there are the Onion-Rye Scones from the soup book.  It was serendipitous because Michael and I had just broken our pantry challenge (finally) and had bought some rye flour on a whim.  This was perfect also because you don't have to wait for it to rise.  That's another thing I like about that book, the breads are all quick breads that can be made in the time it takes to make the soup you're making to go with it.  Nifty!  These came together sort of quickly (it took the longest to saute the onions) and ended up being quite delicious.  My taste buds were in and out during this meal, but they were sort of sweet and salty and generally awesome.  I thought they'd rise more... and I would not really call these 'scones' per se, but... whatever.  Call 'em what you like, I just call them tasty.  And good for dipping into soup.
rainy meals are the best

mock clam chowder

We ate the 'scones' with the clam chowder recipe from the same book.  Now, I must tell you that I used to be quite the eater of clam chowder.  Creamy, salty, sweet, chewy...  I couldn't get enough.  We're talking New England here, not Manhattan.  Don't you dare put tomatoes in my clam chowder.  Or mock clam chowder, that is.  It's just wrong.  Anyway, if you didn't know it already, oyster mushrooms are the best substitute for clams out there.  The recipe calls for baked tofu, but we had oyster mushrooms in the fridge and used those instead.  And it was good.  Michael also added some dried veggie flakes to the soup for some color.  My only complaint is that there was way too much frigging corn in this soup.  It calls for 3 cups.  Next time I'd only put in 2 or 1 1/2 cups, because by the time you got to the bottom of your bowl, it was like you were forcing yourself to eat all this damned corn and it got kind of more filling than I would have liked.  Regardless, this is the best mock clam chowder I've had since becoming vegan.  Highly reccommended.

When you're on a pantry challenge, you find yourself making some interesting stuff.  Flavor combinations that never occured to you before suddenly sound like the most genius ideas ever.  Mostly because you're starving and detoxing from having your regular ingredients on hand.  What?  I'm out of turmeric?  I'm sure mustard powder will be fine in this, then.  At least it'll be yellow.  Huh?  No more nayonaise?  Well, tahini's creamy.  I'm sure that'll be great.  And in this case, no frozen blueberries for those muffins you are craving?  Who needs 'em when you've got strawberry jam?
aren't they purty?

This is a creation that apparently tasted amazing, but I didn't really taste much of it...  Stupid taste buds, and all.  But I was hungry on a weekend morning and we had no oatmeal or cereal or fruit.  Muffins are a generally good catch-all for random ingredients.  And I had strawberry jam and lemons.  The general idea (i.e., the measurements for flour/liquid/baking soda and powder) came from the Blueberry Lemon Muffins from The Joy of Vegan Baking.  They would probably be great with blueberries.  But they were damned fine with strawberry jam, too.  I also added some fresh minced basil to the batter, but no one could taste it.  Next time I'd add more, because I bet it would add an awesome flavor dimension.  Anyway, basically I just made the recipe without the blueberries and put them in the muffin cups, then went back and put a teaspoon of straberry jam on the top and swirled it around with a toothpick.  I thought this would fully integrate the jam, but as you will notice, it did not.
lovely little things though

It all stayed on the tops of the muffins, so there was this division of rich, lemony bottom half and sweet, sticky strawberry tops.  What I'm saying here is that these were awesome.  Michael ate like 8 of them in one afternoon.  And my friend Becca ate one when we went to the movies and said they ruled.  So.  Even without properly working tastebuds or a pantry stocked to the brim with fabulous ingredients, I (and you) can make stuff work that will blow people away.  Skip your next grocery trip and get creative.  

I have more to show you from the pantry challenge and all that, but I'm kind of tired from all this thinking and typing and remembering.  Plus, I don't want to spoil you with too much awesomeness at once.


shelby said...

I have so many things to comment on...
1. Even though Giada is my favorite Food Network Chef...I hate her so much. How can you eat that much cheese, bread, and olive oil and not be huge?! And I know what you mean about the t-shirts!
2. I am loving all of the salads! Cilantro...I hate it. But I really want to try that black bean dish. Oh and I totally think you should post that Coconut Black Beans recipe, it sounds to-die-for!
3. The muffins look great!

Virginia said...

*spoiled by awesomeness!*

giada has a huge head. i can't stand her. seriously, her head is like the size of a basketball and her skinny ass isn't big enough to balance it out.

i love that mango black bean quinoa salad! it's my favorite ever!

sorry you were sick!

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

I saw that first photo and got all excited.. thinking "are those Isa's tempeh good!" But this post is full of incredibleness...all of it. Except for Giada and the fact that you were sick, of course.

Hope you feel tons better and that the rain stops for you.

shellyfish said...

I hope you're all better! The flu is so hard to deal with - you just don't feel like doing a damn thing!
And the rain...yeah, I feel your pain. It's just non-stop raining all the time! I hate it!
You sure have a huge amount of deliciousness here, though! That rocks pretty hard. I think those muffins are so sweet!

Liz said...

Everything looks awesome! I love your pantry challenge substitution rationalizations- They led to some good looking muffins!

Jes said...

Everything does look rad! And I'm so glad you survived the flu--a vegan dying from swine flu would be kinda ironic though... ;)

I love the use of tahini in the tempeh cakes. I agree, the recipe is pretty darn good, although I have a few changes I want to make to it next time.

Cyn said...

We just made those tempeh cakes, they were so delicious! And I have to try the ceasar dressing from the Uncheese Cookbook now.

aTxVegn said...

I love Nava's soup book and every recipe I've tried has been great. I recommend the savory oat muffins in the back of the book.

Everything looks so tasty, but I think Michael's beans look especially awesome! And totally Mexican. You've given me some great ideas for my next potluck.

Sorry you had the flu.

Sal said...

gah the flu sucks - i hope you're all better now.

I love Giada! Even though she annoys me by going 'ya gotta have parmesan!' every 5 minutes, i have love for her!!

I love the idea of those muffins, i'm gonna have to put jam in my next batch. love me some jam!

A_and_N said...

The flu seriously sucks! I hope you've recovered by now :)

I really loved the addition of mangoes to quinoa. 'Purty' cool :)

And yes, Giada's smile is often artificial :)

jessy said...

i’m so glad you’re back, Jessica! i missed you! i got all superhappyfaced when my google reader popped up with your post! wahooooooo! that stinks that you had the flu – ugh! but you better believe i’m drooling over all the tasty eats you & Michael were creating! mmmmmmmmm! i really need to make those crabby cakes. i have a feeling dan’s not going to be the biggest fan, so i’ll wait for a day when he’s outta town, but i can’t wait to try them – especially after your stellar review! the remoulade sounds amazing, and nice sub with the tahini! i wouldn’t have thought of that – you’re too good! the asparagus ‘n spinach soup looks awesome, indeed – and so does your pasta! omg, mmmmmmm! i totally need me some giada pasta! the caesar salad looks so damn delicious, too! i’ve only had the vcon caesar dressing – it’s not too bad, but i really need to try the uncheese recipe ‘cause it’s the silken tofu that i don’t like in the vcon recipe – that, and it calls for some absurd amount of oil. and speaking of absurb/ridiculous amount of shiz – what’s up with a cup of cilantro and three damn cups of corn!?! that’s just banana pants. and why have i not made the deli pasta salad yet?! oh yeah, probably ‘cause macaroni salad = my absolute favorite kind of salad and i would eat all the servings and just pass out on the couch in some glorious carb coma for like a week from eating it all at once! damn, i need to make me some pasta salad! i see those cute little radishes all up in that quinoa (they are also my fa!)! and what kind of poppy seed dressing do you love the most?! do you buy it? make it? i’ve never had poppy seed dressing - i think i’m the last person on earth or something. i want to give it a whirl though – it sounds beyond delicious! i just don’t want to pick up some “meh” brand of poppy seed dressing and get all sadfaced over it! ahhahahahaa! coconut black beans with mango ‘n avocado sounds like one fantastically rock’n combination – totally gonna have to try that out – and oh my sweet jeebus for some onion-rye sconey thingies that were super delicious in the glorious soup of yum! huzzah! (i’d also like to add that your strawberry jam & lemon muffins are calling my name! i’ve totally gotta make some! they’re perfect and lovely and oh-so pretty! that stinks that your taste buds weren’t 100% and that you didn’t get the full on awesome that were your muffins, but that just means you’ll have to make them again soon! superw00t!) looking forward to more yummies! excitedface!

saveyrgeneration said...

I need to get off my ass and get Vcon. I've wanted to make those tempeh cakes ever since I saw them on Isa's blog and I must say, your look fantabulous!

miss v said...

holy foodie overload!

(glad you are feeling beter)

jodye said...

Your quinoa dish sounds right up my alley. I am totally obsessed with quinoa and have it for dinner in some form at least a couple times a week. I think I've even done 5 days of straight quinoa at some point. Also, the muffins look great!

Hannah said...

Those muffins sound ridiculously good... And what a creative use of ingredients you had on hand!

latinitasoyme said...

i finally tried your tofu scramble recipe, it was wonderful! thank you! i think my eventual transition to veganism won't be too bad.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about not making the caesar salad from Veganomicon. I did, and it just wasn't that great. Let me clarify - it was a pain to make and then it wasn't even good. So stick with the one you know and love.

tahinitoo said...

I hope you are feeling much better now, Jessica! I am behind on commenting, but I have been reading your posts - I promise! You always manage to make such well balanced meals. Mmmmm... I am especially interested in the black beans with mango and other yummies. Do you have a recipe, or is it a random medley of fun? I am looking forward to a porch garden update from you!

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