Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Chicken" Chowder

Chowders are great for cold or rainy days.

My hubby was sick the other day and I created this soup to make him feel better.

I used fake chicken, but you can leave it out and it would still be a hearty chowder (potato and corn).

Cut up 4 to 5 small red potatoes in small cubes. Boil on stove.

In a food processor blend the following:
1/2 sweet onion
10 or 12 baby carrots
a heaping spoonful of crushed garlic
seasoning salt
Cayenne pepper
hot pepper flakes
a few spoonfuls of olive oil
a cup 1/2 of plain soy milk
Dill weed
ground pepper
ground sea salt

Remove boiled potatoes and drain - set aside.

Pour blended mixture in soup pot. Add the following as soup cooks:
vegetable soup bullion cube
a few spoonfuls of gravy thickener or whole wheat flour
a huge, heaping spoonful of vegan margarine
a cup of water

As soup cooks, add more soy milk until desired thickness. You can add more water too, but don't go crazy with the H2O or you'll get a runny consistency.

1 frozen bag of fake chicken - cut into smaller pieces. Toss into soup.
Toss in the cubed potatoes
Toss in a 1/3 bag of frozen sweet corn

Cook into thoroughly heated.

I've made numerous variations of this. I've made it with leeks rather than sweet onions, which are cooked in the soup rather than blended. Hot peppers can be added for a spicy version. Dumplings make a great addition. Red bell pepper adds a nice flavor too. If you like mushrooms, add those too. Here's a picture of a variation on this chowder concept: 

Monday, October 15, 2007

Eggplant Spread

I just created an eggplant spread that was totally easy and super yummy.

Stuff you'll need:
1 eggplant
1 or 2 green onions
1 hot pepper
crushed garlic
pine nuts
kalamata olives
sun dried tomatoes
seasoning salt
fresh ground pepper
sea salt
olive oil
lemon juice
fresh basil
Slice up an eggplant (I did fairly slim pieces) and then cut the slices into quarters.
Pan fry the eggplant with olive oil and sea salt. Cook on medium heat until eggplant is soft, but not mushy.

In a food processor add the following:
a few scoops of sun dried tomatoes
10 to 15 kalamata olives
1 or 2 green onions
1 hot pepper
a giant tablespoon of crushed garlic
a couple handfuls of pine nuts
a few sprigs of fresh basil with the stems cut off
seasoning salt
fresh ground pepper
sea salt
add in pan fried eggplant
pour in olive oil (don't go crazy - add as needed to keep substance creamy, not greasy)


TIP: Tastes great with chips, bread, or as a pizza topping.
1 small lemon (Don't go crazy with the lemon juice, you just need enough to help balance the flavors)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lentil Hummus

I just came up with this recipe for SPICY lentil hummus. I've never actually heard of hummus made from lentils, but I went for it anyway. Mmmmm, mmmm - cheap and yummy!!

First -
Cook one cup dry lentil with a few cups of water.
Cook on medium high.
If the water is absorbed before the lentils are fully cooked, then add more water. Don't go crazy with the water.
Once all the water is absorbed and the lentils are soft, put aside to cool down.

Second -
In a food processor add the following:
a hefty scoop of crushed garlic
one or two hot peppers (take out the seeds unless you're a MAJOR spice fiend)
a few shakes of cumin
a couple of shakes of all spice
a few big shakes of seasoning salt
grind in some pepper
grind in some sea salt
5 or 6 good size shakes of paprika
4 small shakes of Indian Spices (I used two shakes of two different types - Masala blends)
around 1/4 cup tahini
scoop in the cooked lentils
lemon juice (add until you get the balance right)
olive oil (add until you get the balance right)

Blend until creamy. If the hummus is too thick, add more olive oil. If the hummus seems flat in flavor, add more lemon juice. Additional salt might be required, but if you plan on using salty chips, you might want to lay off the excessive salt.

Try your hummus as you go until you get the flavor you like. Don't double dip your chip!!

Keep in mind that the flavor will be brought out as it cools in the fridge.

Black Bean Burgers

In a food processor toss in the following (Blend mixture until there are no chunks):

1/2 an onion
1 can of black beans (drain all liquids first)
1 or 2 hot peppers
1 or 2 hefty scoops of garlic
toss in a few handfuls of walnuts

In a bowl (stir until everything is mixed together):
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
a few shakes of cumin
a few shakes of taco seasoning
a few shakes of paprika
rolled oats (quick cooking) - this is the binding element, so you'll need to add more if the burger is too thin to form into a burger)
flax seeds

Add wet contents to the dry contents, mix thoroughly.
Stir in frozen corn for an added flavor.
Form into patties.

You can either bake or fry patties.

TIP: Top with salsa, vegan sour cream and sliced avocado.

Seitan Picatta

Picatta is tangy and not for all palates. But if you like lemon and capers then you'll probably enjoy it.

In a frying pan, saute the following:

10 mushrooms sliced chunky style(use your favorite ones, I used a meaty variety. If you use a portabello, one would suffice)
2 green onions - chopped
heaping tablespoon of crushed garlic
5 or 6 twists of freshly ground sea salt
olive oil (enough to keep the pan coated but not greasy)

In a separate frying pan:

Coat pan with olive oil
add in a few giant scoops of whole wheat flour (if you have a gravy thickener you can use this alone or in addition to the flour)
heat and mix very quickly until it starts to brown slightly
add lemon juice (amount depends on how tangy you can take it)
a few shakes of cumin
Ground pepper
white wine
a little water (add a little as you go- until you get desired thickness and taste)
capers (several hefty scoops)
Stir until thick then add contents from other frying pan.

The empty frying pan can be used for the next step; add enough olive oil to coat the pan. Keep the gravy mixture on low and stir occasionally as you make the seitan.

In one shallow bowl, mix up one or two egg replacers
In a second shallow bowl, add whole wheat flour.

Dip seitan slices into faux eggs to coat, then dip in flour to coat and place in pan. Repeat until the pan is full with seitan.
Cook seitan on med-high. When the seitan starts to get crisp, flip pieces over. The seitan will cook very quickly.

Tip: Serve on a bead of brown rice, place seitan around edges and pour gravy mixture on top.
Tip: Serve a vegetable on the side, such as asparagus.
Tip: You can use my basic seitan recipe to create the seitan slices to be used in this recipe.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Vegan Comfort Food: Mock Meat Loaf

I've tried making mock meat loaf a few times using the fake ground meat and they always came out too wet. The other day I created a mock meat loaf by pure experimentation and I came across one tasty surprise.

I'm really not sure how much of each ingredient I used, but it filled up an entire loaf pan (that was on the long side - IKEA - got to love them).

Dry Ingredients (put in bowl first)
flax seeds
flax seed flour
rolled oats (quick cooking)
soy flour
Cajun spice
sea salt
ground pepper
red chili flakes
wheat germ
seasoning salt

Wet Ingredients (blend in food processor)
1 sweet onion
5 mushrooms
vegan Worcestershire sauce
organic ketchup
soy sauce
teriyaki sauce
hot pepper
walnuts (okay - these are not wet, but they need to be blended)
crushed garlic
cooked brown rice

Add to Dry Ingredients and stir until coated
Crumble one block of firm tofu
crumble one block of tempeh (I used the five grain type from Turtle Island Foods)

Add blended ingredients
Stir in blended ingredients, if it is too wet add more oats and flour. If it is too dry, add in more ketchup and teriyaki sauce.

Once thoroughly mixed, pour info loaf pan. Squirt Ketchup all over the top. Cook at 375 degrees for an hour. Let cool for 10 minutes and then slice.

Best part: the mock loaf tastes great the next day - even cold. You could make a yummy sandwich.

The Be-Bop Way: To prepare this dish, embrace the ingredients that you love and cook with them. If you don't like certain ingredients, then don't add them. However, keep in mind that you need a good balance of wet and dry to make this loaf otherwise it might turn out too mushy or too tough. If you don't want to add oats, be sure to add lots of breadcrumbs or something that will hold the loaf together.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What Do Vegan's Eat??

People (who are not vegan) always ask me, "what can you eat if you're vegan?" So if you're wondering...

  • Fruits and veggies: Mostly organic, fresh and raw. I do cook veggies, but I try to eat 50% raw at least 5 days a week.
  • Grains: Such as brown rice, couscous, quinoa, mock meats, breads, pasta, etc.
  • Legumes: Such as lentils, black beans, refried beans, butter beans, black-eyed peas, etc.
  • Sprouts: You can get a variety of sprouts and they're packed with nutrients.
  • Herbs: Yummy goodness. Fresh ones are the best.
  • Soy: Tofu, miso, tempeh, soy ice cream, soy sour cream, soy whip cream, soy milk, soy cream cheese, soy cheese (jack, cheddar, etc), fake meats, etc.
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts and pine nuts are my favorites to cook with.

Basically anything that is plant based and does not contain anything derived by an animal. The food I eat is loaded with flavor and full of compassion for our earthly friends.

Trader Joes has a new labeling system, where they put a V on a bunch of their vegan items. They don't have everything labeled yet, so if it doesn't have a V it may still be vegan. Check out their list of vegan items.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

What's Be Bop Vegan Cooking?

I enjoy cooking in a free form way that reminds me of Be Bop. I start with a structured idea (recipe), read it thoroughly and then toss it aside. I might jot down some notes (perhaps key ingredients or ideas I have to make it better) then I go into the kitchen and start cooking. I'm forced to cook with feeling and instinct.

My cooking reflects my passion for particular flavors and combinations of ingredients. I'm no longer locked down to a strict recipe and I'm able to use whatever I have in the house to improvise. This experimental way of cooking vegan food is fun and exciting. Meals never get boring because the same menu item never tastes exactly as it did before.

Super Easy: Seitan - goes with all types of meals

Seitan can be used in place of meat for a variety of flavorful meals. Seitan is made from gluten, so if you have issues with wheat, you should pass on this recipe.

A lot of recipes for Seitan are either heavy on the Asian flavor or have a tomato base. Both types are yummy, but are rather limited in regards to the types of different meals you can make from them. I came up with a recipe for Seitan that has the right flavors that can be used with all types of dishes, such as Mexican, Soul Food, Italian, Asian, Indian, Mediterranean, BBQ, etc.

Dry Ingredients (add to large bowl first)

1 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten (I use Bob's Red Mill)
6 or 7 hefty shakes of paprika
2 or 3 shakes of garlic powder
5 to 10 shakes of ground pepper
4 or 5 shakes of seasoning salt
1 or 2 shakes of All Spice
3 to 7 shakes of red pepper flakes
8 to 10 grinds of sea salt (using salt grinding mill)

Mix around using whisk. After thoroughly mixed, add wet ingredients (tip: to make sure all the flavors are blended; mix wet ingredients in separate bowl and then add to dry ingredients)

Wet Ingredients

8 to 10 shakes of Tamari
3 to 6 shakes of Braggs Liquid Amino
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
3/4 cup cold water

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. As dough forms, kneed dough with hands 4 to 5 times (in bowl). Let the dough sit.

In the meantime, using a soup pot (or a large cooking pot such as one you'd use for spaghetti) heat up water (fill the pot 2/3 up with water) with a few scoops of crushed garlic.

As the water heats, place dough on cutting board and kneed 2 more times. Stretch the dough and slice off thin slices. The slices can be a variety of sizes. I'd go thinner than thick. Long pieces will be easier to cook with later (approx. 2" long is adequate). As the water starts to bubble, drop the dough pieces into the water. Once the water reaches a full boil, turn down to a medium to med. low heat for an hour.

Drain seitan in colander and let cool. Store in refrigerator. If you do not use the seitan within a week, freeze for future use. Seitan always tastes better after its had a chance to sit (a few hours to 1 day will really bring out the flavor)

The seitan will have flavor on its own, however when you go to cook with it I'd recommend using sauces or a marinade. Have fun.

Easy Cooking: Tortilla Soup

I made this recipe by guessing what should be in vegan tortilla soup. I never made the non-vegan version, but the challenge wasn't hard at all. In fact, this is so easy to make that when I need a meal made in 20 min and have the hankering for something hot and spicy this is the recipe I like to whip up.

Tortilla Soup

1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can no fat refried beans
1 can vegetable broth
1 sweet onion (med)/(green onions work great too - I'd use two)
1 stalk of celery (optional - tastes fine without it, but if you have it on hand, toss it in)
2 heaping spoonfuls of crushed garlic
1 heaping spoon full of salsa
a few shakes of hot sauce
a few shakes of chipotle Tabasco
a few shakes of red pepper flakes
a few shakes of oregano
a few shakes of paprika
2 heaping spoonfuls of chili powder
tortilla chips - for topping
fake chicken cut up into pieces (1 bag)
1 3/4 cups frozen or fresh sweet corn
1 avocado for topping - sliced thin
cubed faux cheese (for topping) - fake Monterey jack with jalapeƱos

In food processor blend: (if you don't have one - get one, otherwise, you'll have more of a chunky soup.....if chunky is your thing - go for it)
diced tomatoes with green chilies
sweet onion
crushed garlic
hot sauce
chipotle Tabasco
chili powder

In a large soup pot:
On medium heat start cooking the blended mixture along with vegetable broth.
Add oregano, pepper and red pepper flakes
Cook thoroughly.
Add refried beans and stir to mix until creamy
Dice fake chicken into 1 inch long pieces - add to soup along with corn
Increase heat and cover. Allow for mixture to boil but not a rolling boil.

Ladle soup into deep soup bowls. Arrange sliced avocadoes, tortilla chips and fake cheese on top.

Optional: If you have a can of black beans around, throw those in too (while the soup is cooking). They'll give your soups more substance if you want more of a hearty soup.

Optional: If you're a spice freak, toss a couple of hot peppers into the food processor, sans the seeds unless you're a masochist.

Keep in mind - most of the flavoring stuff is optional. Once I was out of garlic and it came out fine. As long as you cook it with love in your heart, you're golden.