Archives for category: Vegan

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Beautiful food always taste better, and when I say beautiful I don’t mean pastry or baked goods. I love letting the natural color and shape of ingredients shine through a dish, but sometimes it’s hard to retain these qualities after the cooking process. I’ve made this black rice salad twice now in the past 30 days, and that’s a rare occurrence for me since I always say there is not enough time for me to make all the dishes I want to try. This is one of those dishes that leave your eyes satisfied as well as your stomach. Read the rest of this entry »

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This quick and easy red pepper and walnut dip is good as an appetizer; like a pesto, it can be used as a spread on sandwiches, and also added to stews as a flavor enhancer.

To make the spread Read the rest of this entry »

Last time I made kimbap, I used a recipe I found on rasamalaysia.com. I was surprised at how easy it was to make these vegetarian/vegan treats that are great as a side or snacks.

Since then, I found a kimbap recipe from David Chang that was inspired from food he found on his trip to a Buddhist temple in South Korea. Read the rest of this entry »

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As an omnivore, I often have issues eating purely vegetarian dishes. Having been raised in a country at a time when meat was a commodity, most of my diet as a child have been vegetable based, seasoned with either lard, bacon, or bones. In my nearly 20 years in America, I’ve had no shortage of meat, yet I’ve only begun to appreciate meals that are completely vegetarian. Read the rest of this entry »

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This the last part of my Afro-Middle eastern inspired menu was a Swahili vegetable curry. Okra, green beans, tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, corn, cauliflower, baby potatoes, carrots….Nine total vegetables are featured in this all encompassing vegetable curry.

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The vegetables are stewed in a coconut based sauce with a variety of spices, and I cracked my own fresh coconut to extract the coconut flesh.

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The spices are first heated in a pan until fragrant, and then are finely ground in a spice or coffee grinder.

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To make the spice paste, grated coconut flesh is sautéed with some olive oil until lightly browned,

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The coconut is transferred to a blender along with the toasted spices and onions.

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And blended until a paste forms. The paste is set aside until ready for use.

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To start the curry, sliced onions and mustard seeds are cooked in a large casserole over high heat, until the onions are browned. Turmeric, mace, Garam masala and bay leaves are added to the casserole, and cooked until fragrant.

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The coconut spice paste is added to the casserole and simmered over low heat for 10 minutes.

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The coconut milk and water are added to the casserole and brought to a simmer.

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Sliced carrots and potatoes are added to the pot, and simmered for 15 minutes.

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All vegetables, except for the okra, are added to the pot with the tomato paste and simmered for 25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

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At this point, the curry can be made ahead of time, cooled and refrigerated over night, which is what I did.
The next day, the dish is slowly brought to a simmer, and the okra is added to the pot, and cooked for about 5 minutes. Fresh curry leaves and cilantro are stirred into the curry, adjusting the seasoning to your taste.

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I like to serve the curry with some hot sauce and basmati rice.

Swahili Vegetable Curry

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One of the recipes I picked for my Afro-middle eastern inspired menu is by Marcus Sammuelsson, a Swedish chef of Ethiopian heritage. Marcus won the title of Top Chef Masters a few years ago, and while I was rooting for a different chef to win, I’ve been intrigued about his heritage and cooking style. I found a brown lentil dip recipe from him that would be a great appetizer for our dinner, and i thought it would also give me a chance to learn about his cooking.

This lentil dip is made with brown lentils and loads of middle eastern spices. Beware of the recipe portions because although I made only half the recipe, it was still too much for our dinner. It did, however, made a great little snack for the rest of the week.

To cook the lentils, they are simmered with carrots and sliced red onions in water for about 35 minutes, until very tender and almost all of the liquid has evaporated.

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The lentils and vegetables are then puréed in a food processor.

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The spice mix used in this recipe consists of cumin, coriander, ginger, cayenne, nutmeg, and allspice.

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The spices are cooked in a couple of tablespoons of butter over low heat in a medium sauce pan until fragrant, about 3 minutes. To make this recipe vegan, substitute vegetable oil for the butter instead.

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The puréed lentils are added to the pan and stirred into the spice mixture, for about 5 minutes.

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The dip is finished of with some lemon juice and seasoned to taste. Before serving, I topped the dip with some chopped cilantro leaves, and served it with some baked pita chips.

African Spiced Lentil Dip

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The main course for our Sunday meal is Kitsune Udon, which is a Japanese style soup traditionally made with aburaage tofu, fish cakes, and dashi. The name Kitsune Udon comes from a folk tale that foxes love aburaage tofu, therefore the soup literally means “fox udon”.

I added peas, carrots, and shrimp to the aburaage to my udon, but the recipe is easily adaptable to your personal taste.

The first step is to make the dashi, which is the same one I used for the Yosenabe recipe. Since Dashi is made from dried bonito flakes, the soup is not truly vegetarian, however, you can try omitting the bonito and just use the seaweed and dried shiitake mushroom to make the broth. It will not have the unique fishy, saltiness that dashi is known for, but some people may not like the bonito taste anyway.

For the vegetables, I blanched sliced carrots and frozen peas in salted, boiling water for a couple of minutes, drained them, and set them aside.

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I bought premade fresh udon noodles and aburaage tofu from my local Asian supermarket. You can make you own udon noodles and aburaage tofu, but I felt lazy Sunday. To prep the noodles, a pot of water is brought to a boil, and the noodles are quick cooked for a couple of minutes.

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Then the noodles are drained and rinsed in cold water, to stop the cooking process, and set aside.

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While you are preparing the veggies and the noodles, the dashi should be brought to a slow simmer. When you are ready to serve, the noodles, veggies, aburaage, and whatever else you want should be arranged neatly in a bowl.

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Then the hot broth ladled over each bowl, topped with some scallions and sesame seeds, and the udon is ready!

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I also made some cucumber and seaweed Sunomono, which basically means a variety of vinegar based dishes, and “su” means vinegar in Japanese.

My parents were visiting last week and brought with them a ton of Chinese cucumbers from their garden. Chinese cucumbers are longer and crispier than the cucumbers you buy at your local markets. Sometimes they are sold as English or Japanese cucumbers, while I’ve never seen them grow in Japan or England, it’s the only cucumbers I’ve seen in China.

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My Sunomono also consists of hijiki and wakame seaweed. Hijiki seaweed are short skinny things, with a dark red tint to them. Wakame is the more popular type used in miso soup, with a deep green tint. Both seaweeds need to be soaked before eating.

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Wakame takes about 5 minutes or less of soaking in cold water, while hijiki takes about 30 minutes to get fully hydrated. The seaweed should be drained and set aside after it rehydrates.

While the seaweed is soaking, I very thinly sliced my cucumber, then sprinkled the slices with some kosher salt, and set the cucumbers aside to drain for a few minutes.

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The slices should be squeezed of all excess water, then tossed with both seaweeds, and a vinaigrette made from rice vinegar, sugar, and light soy sauce. The Sunomono should be set aside to marinate for about 5 minutes, and finished with toasted sesame seeds and green onions.

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Kitsune udon recipe
Sunomono recipe

As apart of the dinner party for my BF’s work friends, I had to find a vegan dessert to make. I found this vegan key-lime mousse tart at the same NYMAG.com recipe archive that I found the vegan lasagna from Pure Food and Wine recipe.

The tart is made with completely raw and unprocessed ingredients. The sugar is replaced with packets of Stevia, which next time, I think I will substitute with real sugar. I’m just not a fan of the fake sugar taste, and if I substitute agave nectar or maple syrup, the consistency of the crust will be off.

To make the crust for the tart, dried coconuts, chilled macadamia nuts, lime juice and zest, agave nectar, and packets of Stevia are processed together. The mixture is placed in a freezer to chill, and when ready to use, the mixture is pressed on the bottom of little molds. You can use a whole 9 inch removable bottom pan, but I wanted to make little tart-lets, so I used little french pastry molds.

The molds are placed into the freezer until the crust hardens. I lined the molds with plastic wrap so I can remove the crust easier.

To make the mousse filling, fresh avocados, vanilla bean seeds, lime zest, and coconut butter are processed together. Stevia added to taste. The Avocados and the coconut butter lend richness to the mousse that simulates heavy whipping cream and butter.

The mousse is spooned into the macadamia crust, and placed into the freezer until set.

I topped each of the tarts with a thin round of key lime for decoration.

Vegan Key Lime Mousse Tart from Pure Food and Wine: http://nymag.com/listings/recipe/keylimemoussetart/

My boyfriend was having some work friends over for dinner; 2 are vegetarians, and 1 a non-dairy vegan. I’ve made 1 vegan mexican enchiladas before, but to make a meal for 10 people which accommodates both omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans was a new challenge for me. I did extensive research through the recipe archives of my favourite food websites, and came across these great recipes from Pure Food and Wine, a vegan, raw, and all organic food restaurant in NYC. One was a vegan lasagna made from slices of zucchini, squash, and tomato “pasta”, lemon and pine nut “ricotta”, sun-dried tomato sauce, and a basil pistachio pesto. The dish is completely raw and uncooked, and you can make it ahead of time up to 4 hours. There is no processed ingredients at all in this recipe, even sugar is replaced with maple syrup. This was great for my dinner since I can do it ahead of time and worry about the other 6 dishes I’m making.

The dish is somewhat time-consuming since you have to make 3 sauces, and slice the vegetable thinly to get the desired effect of “pasta”, but the result is a great looking dish that taste pretty incredible for being composed of nothing but nuts and vegetables.

To make the Pignoli “Ricotta”, pine nuts that’s been soaked in water for 1 hour, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and sea salt are processed together until mixed, and, while the processor is on, water is added in, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the mixture resembles ricotta cheese.

To make the sun-dried tomato sauce, sun-dried tomatoes (not oil packed) are soaked in water for 2 hours, and processed with 1 fresh tomato, lemon juice, onions, maple syrup, sea salt, and hot pepper flakes.

This tomato sauce literally taste like cooked, but cold tomato sauce for pasta. It’s got a thicker consistency which helps the lasagna hold together.

To make the basil pistachio pesto, basil, raw pistachios, sea salt, and olive oil are processed together. Unfortunately I do not have a photo of what it looks like.

To assemble the dish, Zucchini, Squash, and Heirloom tomatoes are sliced into thin slices, you can use a mandolin, but my cheap $14 from OXO doesn’t really work that well, so I resorted to hand slicing my vegetables into approximately 1/16 inch slices. You want to slice the vegetables thin, to simulate the way pasta sheets would work in a real lasagna.

I lined a 9×12 inch baking pan (with 2 inch sides) with plastic wrap, leaving about 4 or 5 inches on each side of overhang. 2 Layers of Zucchini is layered on the bottom of the baking pan, and brushed with olive oil.

Then some tomato sauce is spread on top of the zucchini.

On top of the tomato sauce, dollops of “ricotta cheese” is spooned.

Then basil pistachio pesto is spread on top of the ricotta.

A layer of tomatoes are placed on top of the pesto.

The whole layering process is repeated with the zucchini slices, the sauces, and tomatoes.

I also sprinkled some fresh oregano and thyme on top of the tomatoes, and finished it off with a drizzle of olive oil. The dish can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for a few hours. This will help the flavours to meld.

When it was ready to serve, I unwrapped the lasagna and cut it into sections with a shape knife. I then used the plastic wrap and a spatula to help pick up the sections and place them into a nice plate.

It was time-consuming, but well worth the effort. Many of my guest couldn’t believe that it was completely raw and that it had nothing but unprocessed foods in it.

Vegan Zucchini and Tomato lasagna Recipe: http://nymag.com/restaurants/articles/recipes/zucchini_lemonpignoli.htm

While at the grocery store getting ingredients for my Caribbean food dinner, I found these Okinawa sweet potatoes for sale at my local central market. Okinawa sweet potatoes, also known as purple sweet potatoes, are supposedly an Asian variety of sweet potato (Supposedly because I’ve also heard they are not Asian at all). They are different from Ube, which is a Philippino, or southeast Asian yam of very brightly colored purple. I’ve had Ube and Ube icecream while in the Philippines and they are fairly hard to find in Texas. Yams and sweet potatoes aren’t the same thing!

Anyway, I saw these cute little sweet potatoes and wanted to make this boiled cassava like dish I had in Dominica, but decided against it because I was already making rice and beans. I looked online for recipes with Okinawa sweet potatoes, and there weren’t many, however, an ingenious blogger said that they made oven fried sweet potato chips with Okinawas using a Emril Lagasse recipe from Foodnetwork.com. When I first started cooking back in college I used foodnetwork.com almost exclusively, becuase I didn’t know any better, and honestly it was a good start for beginner cooks. There are great recipes from foodnetwork.com, but there are also many bad ones, and the hit or miss inconsistency of their recipes made me look else where. I have to say that I do really vouch for this recipe, if you have the right tools.

The Okinawa sweet potatoes are actually fairly light skinned on the outside, and vibrantly purple with some splashes of cream in the center. I sliced these by hand using a “Shun” knife my boyfriend bought for me two Christmas’ ago. I would suggest buying and using a mandolin if you don’t have the proper knife skills to slice these thinly. If the slices are too thick, the baking time will increase, and if you slice some slices thick and some slices thin, you will have to constantly check to make sure that the thin slices don’t burn, and the thick slices keep cooking.

The slices are brushed with olive oil and baked in a 400F oven for 10 minutes or thereabouts, depending on the thickness of your slices.

Meanwhile, I worked on the spice mixture you toss the baked chips in, which consists of a little bit of sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, nutmeg, and ground ginger.

These chips are very flavourful, and especially pretty in their purple color. I’ve since made them twice, and it’s a great little appetizer or a light side item. I served them with my Jamaican Jerk chicken and red beans and rice.

Oven Fried Sweet Potato Chips: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/oven-fried-potato-and-sweet-potato-chips-with-creamy-oven-cooked-bacon-dip-recipe/index.html