Friday, February 24, 2012

Oscar Noms #1: Meatyball

It's the final Oscar Noms post! I just watched Moneyball, which is probably the last film I'll manage to fit in before the Oscars on Sunday. I wish I could say I loved this movie, but I can't say that, because I fell asleep halfway through it. That could either be due to the fact that I wake up to feed the baby every three hours during the night, or because this is a film about baseball and statistics and probability. Zzzzzz. Sorry Brad. I wanted to love your movie, but you put me to sleep.

I did manage to complete this batch of Swedish Meatballs though. I must confess I've never tasted a Swedish meatball, despite my many trips to Ikea. Traditional Swedish meatballs are usually made with a combination of pork, beef, and veal. Obviously my version contains none of those, so it may not be authentic, but it's still good. Lingonberry jam is the key condiment to go with the meatballs, think of it the way cranberry sauce is a must-have for the un-turkey at Thanksgiving. I found it at my local Whole Foods, and of course you can buy it at Ikea, or online.

This recipe does take a little time, but it makes 48 meatballs, or 6-8 servings. If you're not cooking for a crowd, you can freeze these meatballs after forming and then cook them later. This recipe is adapted from this one in Bon Appetit, from the Smörgås Chef restaurant in NYC. Smaklig måltid!

Vegan Swedish Meatballs
makes 48 1-inch meatballs (6-8 servings)

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs 
2 1/3 cups vegetable stock, divided 
4 Tbsp. Earth Balance or other vegan butter, divided 
1 cup minced onion 
3 slices tempeh bacon (such as Lightlife brand)
2 14-oz. packages vegan ground beef (I recommend Lightlife brand again because it holds together best for this recipe)
3 flax "eggs" (3 Tbsp. ground flax meal mixed with 6 Tbsp. water)
1 Tbsp. salt 
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
1 1/2 tsp. sugar 
1 tsp. ground allspice 
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg 
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour 
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. vegan sour cream 
lingonberry preserves, for serving

1. Mix breadcrumbs and 1/3 cup stock in a small bowl. Set aside. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer onion to a large bowl.

2. Wipe out pan and return to medium heat. Add tempeh bacon and cook until browned on both sides. Remove from pan, mince, then add to bowl with onion. Add next 8 ingredients to bowl with onion mixture, mixing with your hands to blend. (I found it easier to break up the large chunks with a potato masher first, then mix by hand.) Fold in breadcrumb mixture. Using a 1 Tbsp. measure, roll mixture into balls; transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

3. Melt 1 Tbsp. Earth Balance with 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a large heavy pan over medium heat. Cook meatballs 6-8 minutes, turning frequently until browned on all sides. Transfer meatballs to a plate. Add remaining 2 Tbsp. Earth Balance to pan. Whisk in flour until smooth paste forms. Stir in 2 cups stock; bring to a simmer, whisking often. Return meatballs to pan. Cover; simmer until meatballs are fully cooked, 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat, whisk in vegan sour cream, and stir to coat meatballs. Serve with lingonberry preserves.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oscar Noms #2: War Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

It's hard to make mashed potatoes look interesting. Don't get me wrong, I could eat my weight in mashed potatoes. I love them, but what I mean is it is hard to photograph mashed potatoes in an interesting way. They just look like a big white or yellowish blob on a plate.

It's also hard to make a film about using horses in war look interesting. From a vegan point of view, War Horse is the Oscar film that I am least interested in seeing, as I disapprove of using horses to fight wars or to be exploited to star in movies. But back to the mashed potatoes. What is not difficult is to jazz up your mashed potatoes in new and exciting ways, like adding horseradish to them, which does not injure any horses in the process.

It's amazing how something as simple as just adding a tablespoon or two of horseradish to your usual mashed potato recipe can transform them and add the perfect zippy, zingy kick. You could also add wasabi for a very similar bite, although I think wasabi tends to hit you in the nose more than the mellower horseradish. Anyway, this is such a simple recipe I almost feel bad posting it, but here you go. This was a perfect accompaniment to an easy dinner of baked teriyaki tofu and some quick sauteed spinach.

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
serves 2 - 4

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (unpeeled is fine)
1/2 cup plain non-dairy milk of your choice
3 Tbsp. Earth Balance or other vegan butter
2 Tbsp. bottled horseradish, drained
salt and pepper to taste

1. Steam potatoes until tender and easily mashable. Drain and transfer potatoes to a large bowl.
2. Add non-dairy milk, Earth Balance, and horseradish to potatoes. Use a potato masher or hand mixer to mash until you reach your desired consistency. I don't mind mine a bit chunky.
3. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

There's only one Oscar Noms left before the big day! Can you guess what my final dish will be?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Oscar Noms #3: Extremely Linguine & Incredibly Close (to tasting like real crab)

Boy was it hard to try to come up with a food pun for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. I couldn't think of anything until I made this dish of Linguine with "Crab," Lemon, Chile, and Mint for Valentine's Day dinner, and decided it could work for this edition of Oscar Noms. If you can think of better food puns for this title, please leave them in the comments section, because I was stumped!

I was intrigued by this recipe in the January issue of Bon Appetit, especially after I found a frozen package of Match crab meat in the freezer. I used the Match crab meat for these I'm Not Crabby Cakes and I really love the texture and flavor. It seemed like a winning combination of flavors, and the perfect cozy dinner for a romantic night in. It was indeed delicious, but a word of warning - if you're one of those vegans who doesn't believe in eating any fats, then this recipe is not for you. Actually if you're one of those vegans, then most of my recipes are not for you, so you're probably not even reading this blog. But anyway, this recipe does not skimp on the buttery flavors, so consider yourself warned. The lemon juice and zest really brightens it up and counters the richness though, and complements the "crab meat" beautifully. For me, it had just the right amount of heat from the Thai chiles, but feel free to adjust based on how much heat you like or don't like.

Linguine with Vegan Crab, Lemon, Chile, and Mint (adapted from this recipe)

serves 2

8 oz. linguine 
4 Tbsp. Earth Balance or other vegan butter, divided 
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided 
1/4 cup minced shallots 
1 tsp. minced garlic 
1–2 Fresno chiles, red jalapeños, or red Thai chiles, seeded, sliced into thin rounds 
8 oz. Match vegan crab meat
1 1/2 Tbsp. (or more) fresh lemon juice, divided, plus 2 tsp. (packed) finely grated lemon zest, divided 
Freshly ground black pepper 
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, gently torn, divided

1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
2. Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp. Earth Balance with 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and stir until just soft, 3–4 minutes. Add garlic and 1 chile and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Add Match vegan crab meat to shallot and garlic mixture. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned.
4.  Add 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice and 3 Tbsp. pasta cooking liquid to shallot and crab mixture; add a pinch of pepper. Stir until liquid is almost evaporated, about 1 minute.
5. Transfer pasta to skillet and add 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking liquid. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, tossing pasta or stirring with tongs, until liquid is almost evaporated and pasta becomes glossy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 3 Tbsp. Earth Balance, 1 Tbsp. oil, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. lemon zest, half of mint, and more chile rounds, if desired.
6. Stir pasta until Earth Balance melts and pasta is well coated, adding more pasta cooking liquid if dry. Divide between bowls; top with remaining 1 tsp. lemon zest and mint. Sprinkle with more lemon juice if desired. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Oscar Noms #4: The Tartist

Yes, I do realize that for this Oscar Noms series I already posted a chocolate pudding pie, and this is another chocolate pie tart, and I did consider making a fruit tart but it was Valentine's Day and a fruit tart just seemed a little, I don't know, not quite passionate enough. That's right. The love I have for my husband can only be represented by this sinfully rich and decadent chocolate raspberry filling.

Like the chocolate pudding pie, I found the recipe for this amazing Chocolate Raspberry Tart in Vegan Pie in the Sky, which is quickly becoming my favorite cookbook. The tart was really quite easy to make, as the filling is composed of only coconut milk, coconut oil, chocolate, and mashed up fresh raspberries. The shortbread crust is perfectly crisp and buttery, and also quite easy to make as you just press the dough into your pie pan (instead of having to roll it out). The only thing is that you have to plan ahead, as the dough needs to be frozen and then baked and cooled before you prepare the filling.

This was a perfect Valentine's Day dessert. It would have been nice if we'd been able to go out and see a movie, like The Artist, for our date, but on second thought, staying in with my sweetie and having that second slice of Chocolate Raspberry Tart was much, much better.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Oscar Noms #5: Hugo-gi

Hugo-gi is a play on Best Picture Nom Hugo and bulgogi. I've been wanting to make Manifest Vegan's Bulgogi Style Tofu ever since I saw her incorporate her recipe into a Bulgogi Steak Sandwich when we participated in the project to veganize America's Top 10 New Sandwiches a while ago. I love Korean food and my office is located just two short blocks from NYC's Koreatown, but since I've been on maternity leave for the past twelve weeks, I've been missing my K-town lunches and am in serious need of a Korean food fix.

Allyson's marinade for this tofu dish is divine. I know it looks like a ton of onion and garlic, and it is, but the flavors mellow overnight and meld together into a sweet, salty, spicy combination that just gets better the longer you let it sit. It is seriously good stuff, I had a hard time stopping myself from nibbling on all the cooked tofu pieces before I could manage to plate and serve it. You have to plan ahead to let the tofu marinate overnight, which I confess usually makes me avoid a recipe, but this one is really well worth it. Just go here for Allyson's recipe (and for her gorgeous photos which put mine to shame) and make this for one of the best tofu dishes I've ever had. I recommend serving this with some spinach or bok choy sauteed in toasted sesame oil with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, over rice. Enjoy!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Oscar Noms #6: The Cauliflower Tree of Life

I've seen recipes for these cauliflower "steaks" in several places recently, and was intrigued. Roasting definitely brings out the best flavor in cauliflower, the caramelization simply transforms it from something simple to something fantastic. But cutting the head into these large slabs was something I'd never thought of doing before.

Another thing that intrigued me about these cauliflower steaks was how beautiful it made the presentation. The end result certainly does resemble a tree of life, which is fitting for a nourishing vegan meal, don't you think? It's also fitting with our Oscar theme, because The Tree of Life was one of the most visually beautiful films I've seen in a long time, and I'm not even saying that because Brad Pitt is in it.

The recipe I ended up using for the cauliflower steaks is this one here, from Bon Appetit, which I chose because of the olive relish and tomato sauce that accompany it. The olives and sun-dried tomatoes pack a serious flavor punch, and the raw cauliflower floret bits add some nice crunch. It's also one of those already-vegan recipes that are such a delight to stumble upon. I didn't have to change a thing. These couldn't be easier to make, just serve with a big green salad and perhaps some couscous on the side. It's a perfect light, flavorful, healthy dinner!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Oscar Noms #7: Midnight Sandwich in Paris

In my search for Oscar Noms, I discovered something called a Cuban Midnight sandwich, or a Medianoche. I had never heard of this sandwich before, but apparently it is basically a Cuban sandwich (ham + swiss cheese + pickle + mustard) with turkey on it, served hot. Simple enough. I also discovered that this is the favorite sandwich of Dexter, which made me like it even more, because Dexter is one of my favorite shows of all time (Breaking Bad might be my favorite, if you're wondering).

I'm not really going to bother giving you a recipe for this, because it is more about assembly than actual cooking. I will give you instructions though. I made this in my trusty Griddler, but if you have a grill pan with a press that will also be fine. Of course you could also just grill it in a regular nonstick pan, but then you won't have those cool grill marks on it.

Vegan Cuban Midnight Sandwiches
bread (suitable for pressing)
Tofurky slices
vegan ham slices (note: I also really like the Field Roast Smoked Tomato deli slices for this sandwich)
vegan cheese (I used Daiya Pepperjack flavor)
sliced dill pickles
Italian dressing
Earth Balance or other vegan butter (or olive oil)

1. Mix Vegenaise with Italian dressing to your taste. Spread mixture on one slice of bread, spread mustard on other sandwich half.
2. Layer slices of Tofurky, vegan ham, vegan cheese, and pickles.
3. Spread Earth Balance (or brush olive oil) on outside of sandwich, both sides. Grill in panini press or pan.
4. Serve with a side of plantain chips and/or black bean soup, with some cornichons on the side (to add a touch of Paris).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Oscar Noms #8: The Help (Yourself to Another Slice of Chocolate Pudding Pie)

I recently saw The Help, having already read the book, and I am totally rooting for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer to win Oscars for their moving performances as Aibileen and Minny. I wish I could say I was equally impressed by the other actors in this movie... but I can't.

There was no question, having seen and read the story, that I would have to make a chocolate pie for this edition of the Oscar Noms because such a major plot point revolves around a chocolate pie. (Obviously my chocolate pie is missing Minny's "secret ingredient." If you haven't seen the movie, I'll just let you guess what that is.) I made the recipe for Chocolate Pudding Pie from one of my current favorite cookbooks, Vegan Pie in the Sky, by the vegan queens Terry Romero and Isa Moskowitz. I can't give you the recipe, you'll just have to buy the book yourself.

This pie has become my go-to favorite. It's chocolate, it's pudding, it has a graham cracker crust (and the gals even give you permission to use a store bought one)... what more do I need to say? It's delicious. Buy the book, make this pie, top it with Soyatoo! soy whipped topping and chocolate shavings, and just try to not eat it all in one sitting, straight out of the pie pan.