I love my job! End of the year goodies & parties! J’adore mon boulot! Petites fêtes avant les vacances avec gourmandises!

NB: Just a quick yet sincere thanks to everyone who left me such kind comments on this post! You all really made my day! I’m not ready for Etsy yet (it hadn’t even occurred to me) but now you’ve got me thinking!

It’s that time of year : Summer Vacation! Before putting away our textbooks and red pens and breaking out the SPF 200 and beach towels, we need to have a little fun, and with the Shellyfish that means some tasty vegan fun! I’ll warn you now, I could have sub-titled this entry : The Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero French Ad Campaign… with a little plug for ma chérie, the polyglot and chef extrordinaire, Céline.

One of my jobs is teaching Adult English Conversation Classes. I absolutely love my job & my students this year who were all fabulous, intelligent, witty and groovy women with lots of different experiences and talents to share. I also love parties. Cool chicks + party = :)

Un de mes boulots est d’animer des cours de conversation anglaise. J’adore mon travail et surtout mes élèves qui cette année étaient des femmes géniales, intelligentes, avec beaucoup d’esprit et de classe qui avaient toutes des expériences et des talents variés à partager. Des filles très cool + une fête = :)

Ce n’est pas une fête sans champagne!

Des jeunes filles en fleur!

I made these Chocolate & Raspberry cookies from Veganomicon, though I used some of my homemade strawberry jam instead. These are some of our favourite cookies, though I make these much bigger than called for (I’m such a rebel) and cut down on the cooking time a little so I end up with a very chewy, almost gâteau fondant centre, and a lightly crisp outside. Divine!

After raving about the glory of the Snickerdoodle (because it is virtually unknown here en france), I was obliged to also bring some of Céline’s Veg-Times Redoux Snickerdoodles. I actually had to make three batches because Mr. Fish kept sneaking them and I didn’t have enough to bring with me (I of course didn’t sneak any, ahem.)! If you haven’t made these yet, don’t. I mean it. Once you make them, you’ll fall in love with them and will be making them all the time. You won’t be able to stop yourself! These are seriously our most favouritest cookie of all time ever in the entire galaxy!

And because peanut butter anything is considered inherently North American, I always try to reinforce those stereotypes with some “Big Gigantoid Peanut butter Cookies” from Vegan With A Vengeance (yes these are the same cookies as here – I made a ton!). These are usually the cookies I make for folks here in France who declare “eeww, I don’t like peanut butter!”. I sneak these babies in and they usually really like them and then we have a little laugh about clichés, stereotypes, the North American’s and their peanut butter, the French and their Nutella…it’s all good!

before

after

While there are many culinary differences between France and North America (I need to do a post on that sometime), one fundamental difference is SUGAR (and snacking, and junk food, and ice cream consumption… I really need to do a post on this!). When I started getting my baking groove on about a year or so ago, I’d make my vegan buttercream and be all thrilled about it, but Mr. Fish who is most definitely a gourmand (that’s a polite French way of saying that he is incapable of controlling himself when faced with all that is delicious) can’t take it. Same for fudge! This is also one of the main reasons that as a country the French are collectively much thinner and remain in far better health until a far more advanced age, despite the heavy consumption of fats (also the snacking…). Anyway, all that to say I wanted to make a fun cupcake sans frosting and not too too sweet, so I made the Agave cupcakes from VCTOTW. This was the first time I made them and they were great! Very moist and a little heavier than the traditional cupcake, though this also could have been due to the fact that after baking up a storm for the Open House I was out of cupcake liners!

I had more cute pics of my lovely students, but as I mentioned, I had an evil happening with the technology and lost a host of pictures… hélas.

Cobblers & “Picniks”

The philanthropist & all-around-cutie Katie (or Special K) aka the Chocolate Covered Vegan posted her Little Vegan Crumble recently and it spurred daydreaming about summertime picknicks and BBQs with friends, light breezes and kite flying…you get the picture. The Guppy has been a bit slammed with a late-season cold, and was feeling a wee bit down about being stuck in the house with the sun beaming outside, so, I thought the moment for Katie’s Crumble had arrived, only, unbeliveably, I found myself oatless in the kitchen! I’d already promised a baking project to the eager Guppy who was already sitting on her knees on one of the kitchen chairs, playing the drums with a spoon and some mixing bowls, so my mental-roll-a-dex was spinning- what to make?

We’d already set the apples on the table, and I thought, hey, cobbler is yummy, too! And voila! Afternoon project and yummy snack rolled into one!

This recipe is adapted from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, which as I’ve said before, is such a great Vegan resource. It’s not as sexy or hip as some of the newer books on the market (first edition published in 1975), but that’s what I love – you don’t need any fancy ingredients to make any of the recipes (and the pictures are so darn hippy-retro-cool!).

Fruit Cobbler

for the fruit filling :

  • 6 large apples (cored & sliced or chopped)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • a little water

Sauté your apples in a skillet over low heat for 5 minutes, adding a few soup spoons of water from time to time to keep from sticking (the original recipe calls for 3 Tbsp margarine, which you could use rather than H2O). Add the sugar and cinnamon, and cook apples until they are pretty tender, about 5-10 minutes more.

for the batter :

  • 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (I don’t even use WW pastry flour & it turns out fine)
  • 3/4 AP flour (the original recipe calls for 1.5 cups AP flour if you don’t want to use WW, but it’s good!)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup oil (I don’t use that much, I don’t fill it all the way…)
  • 1 cup “milk”
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Sift together the dry ingredients, then slowly add the wet until just mixed. Put in enough batter to cover the bottom of your pan (recipe suggests 8×8 square, I used a round, I’m a rebel), then add the apples. You’ll have very little batter left, it’s normal, just scoop it onto the apple layer in little splotches – it will seem like there isn’t enough, so don’t stress. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350F. You could top it with anything, obviously, but we like to add a little cashew-vanilla crème sauce on top:

And now for the “Picnik” – you may have noticed my playing around with the pics in this entry. Being one of the only bloggers on the planet to not have any photo editing software, I try to do what I can with light, etc., when taking my pictures, but could never crop or correct anything…until now!

Going through some bookmarked blogs I revisited Full Circle, which is a great blog (there are so many fabulous ones out there!) that has a huge amount of universal appeal though it is a self-described homeschooling blog. Seriously, go check it out! I may be one of the last to hear the news, but thanks to Full Circle I’m in the loop because she introduced me to Picnik, an amazing – and free – photo editing tool! I haven’t had too much time to play around with it, but it is just fabulous!

Quinoa aux champignons! Mushroom & Fennel Quinoa!

Up until about 4 years ago I’d never cooked quinoa. Ok, up until about 4 years ago I’d never really cooked much of anything. My most common culinary feats came in to-go containers, and my version of a homemade dinner was my famous “safsouf au frigo”, a tabouleh you make in the morning with raw couscous, leave it in your fridge all day, and when you come home you stir & eat it. Whew! Slaving over a hot stove…what a drag!

Those days are gone and when I decided to cook, I realized I lacked the skills and basic know-how to do much other than boil water and chop veggies- and that’s really all you need to know how to do for this delicious dish!

Oh, right, back to my little 4-years-ago flashback. Because I am the academic-nerd type, I thought to myself “get ye a book of cookingness oh Shellyfish sans skills of the culinary variety” and that’s what I did. Recettes au Quinoa by Claudine Demay et Didier Perreol is a cute little book (literally, it’s not much bigger than my hand), but has 60 quinoa-based recipes. Not all the recipes are vegan, or even vegetarian, but the majority are, and those that aren’t are pretty easy to veganize. This book was great for me as a neophyte in the kitchen, because it has recipes spanning from breakfast-lunch-dinner, plus breads & muffins and more. I slightly adapted the following recipe, which is one of my family’s favorites (yes, even Mr. Fish likes it! go figure!). It’s also one of the only recipes I use with fennel – thanks to this recipe I cooked with it for the first time!

Quinoa aux champignons adapted from Quinoa aux pleurotes from Recettes au Quinoa

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • a pound of mushrooms
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced in lovely diagonals
  • cloves of garlic (minced) to taste- I used about 4 or 5
  • sesame oil
  • the equivalent of 2 plain soy yogurts or soy cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley

Clean & slice your mushrooms, and sauté them in a heavy-bottomed pan in about a half a cup of water for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, and adding water if it gets too dry. Drain off any water that may be left-over after 10 minutes, and add two tablespoons of sesame seed oil, the fennel, garlic, salt & pepper to taste, and cook covered, over low heat, for about 15 minutes, or until the fennel is nice & tender.

Remove the pan from heat and gently stir in the soy yogurt or cream and your herb of choice. Yum! Here is a really horrible picture of what it looks like, but you are all imaginative fish, so pretend it’s just beautiful!

RAW : Flourless Chocolate Cake & Vanilla Crème Sauce & Frozen Feet

My feet are in a 5-gallon tub of ice water (okay, my right foot up to the metatarsal arch, my left foot is trying its best, but the toes are but kissing the surface of the water). I just got back from some intense speedwork and have been really dealing with some ouchies, and so, it’s time to get tough with the pain (wasn’t that from a pain-reliever ad way back? could just be hallucinating from agony, R foot is now numb past arch, L foot has all toes in…). Rather than suffer alone, I thought I may be able to help divert my attention from the cold and hang out with my fellow Vegan friends. Thank you for being here for me!

Now, I could snap a picture of my incredibly scary-looking (purple) feet, but why would I do that when you can look at that delicious raw cake up there? I guess I should say *was* delicious, because it dissappeared like the sensation in my R foot just did! Ha!

I thought that disguising my attempts at nudging Mr. Fish gently towards better appreciating the delicious goodness of raw foods would be helpful. What better disguise than cake? My efforts, however, were in vein, because after looking at me rather sceptically and barely trying a nibble, he smiled apologetically and said, “I’m sorry, but it’s just too weird.” He also says that about me when he sees me doing things like icing my feet… hey, maybe I am just too weird?

The Guppy ate all the cashew cream and strawberries on her piece, but wouldn’t even taste the cake, and this surprised me because it smelled of vanilla and carob. Sigh. What I was able to do, however, was to whiz a banana with some of the cream and she devoured that.

What this all means my dear V friends is that the Shellyfish ate the entire 4-serving raw cake. Not in one sitting though- in about 24-hours. It was a great pre-run snack, and I also had it for lunch with a green salad, had a slice with some banana with the Guppy for our snack (again, she did the banana-crème thing)… So perhaps not a winner in my family’s book, but I thought this little gem of a raw cake ruled! Thick and moist, reminded me a bit of a sort of vegan-walnut fudge.

Flourless Chocolate Cake from Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, unsoaked
  • Dash salt
  • 10 pitted dates, unsoaked
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocao or carob powder (I used carob)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used 1 teaspoon & 1 teaspoon almond extract, too)
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • raw fruit for garnish

Put the walnuts & salt in your food processor and whirl until finely ground. Add the dates, carob powder, and extracts and process until it begins to get sticky, add the water and process briefly. Dump it out onto a plate and form it into your shape of choice, then off to the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Foot update- left foot no longer in wreched pain & in up to arch- hourrah!

Now for the Vanilla Crème Sauce, I’m guessing every vegan out there has one recipe or another for their own sauce like this. I don’t really measure mine anymore, but it goes something like this:

  • About two good handfuls of soaked cashews (I soak them over night)
  • 3 tablespoons (or more or less to taste) of rice, maple or agave syrup
  • about 1/3 cup of water
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of vanilla or almond extract

It all goes into the blender and stays there until smooth. Yum!

Oh thank you my blogosphere buddies. My feet have been iced. I will now shower as to not look quite so scary and smell not so stinky when the Guppy wakes up.

Tofu Cheesecake Madness! It’s Daring Bakers Time Again!

Unleash your sweet-tooth for this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts For The Serious Sweet Tooth by Jill O’Connor. I’m warning you now, this is not in any way a healthy-avid-yoga-runner-wholefoods-type recipe…but it was indeed very tasty, sticky, messy & gooey to make (which always hightens the fun-factor if you ask me).

This month’s lovely challenge hosts Elle from Feeding My Enthusasims and Deborah from Taste and Tell found we Daring Bakers a very decadent treat indeed (thank you for your time & effort, ladies!) Cheesecake is in itself quite an indulgence, but for this recipe it’s only the beginning! After you’ve baked your cheesecake you then freeze & form it into various shapes and give them lollipop sticks, then coat in chocolate and decorate! Wow! Holy calories, Batgirl! That being said, because they are individually sized, you can easily control your portions, so that’s a good thing. I guess. If you’re into that sort of thing…controlling cheesecake consumption I mean…

My favorite parts of this challenge were 1) completing the challenge with my super-cute mum who though battling a nasty nasty bout of illness played along and was available for planning consultations, official tasting & artistic direction (decorating) duty; and 2) the actual making of the tofu cheesecakes. I thought it was a blast! I totally admit to a heavy dose of finger-licking as well…see, these were indeed intended to be “pops”, but despite my best intentions (I visited two gourmet cooking shoppes & two super markets) I could not find anything that would work- I found popcicle sticks (too fat), super-thin straws (too flimsy), long, wooden sticks for cotton candy (too thick & long)… so I decided to turn this temporary set-back into a fun chance to use some new silicon molds that my mum brought me from the states! As a Daring Baker I was to follow certain guidelines, but using molds was ok’d by our hosts, so yeah for the molds! There were heart-shapes, disc-shapes, and flower-shapes, too!

Thing is, because there were no sticks to hold, I was hand-dipping them, which was a blast! Felt like a kid in the kitching doing something I could be scolded for! Another fun aspect of this month’s challenge was that a handful of the Daring Bakers Alternative Bakers got together to “chat” to exchange ideas & recipes & ideas, and that was a great chance to “meet” some new bakers & hear some ideas.

Here’s the recipe that I used (based on the tofu cheesecake recipe from The New Farm Cookbook (the original non-vegan Challenge recipe is at the bottom of this post if you want a peek!)

  • 3 1/2 cups firm tofu (rinse it, but don’t drain)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (I’ve used orange for orange cheese cake & it’s also good)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-2 table spoons vanilla or almond extract (or one of both if you’re really feeling crazy)

and for the chocolate coating:

  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated vegan butter

I wiz everything in the blender or food processor till smooth (adding a little more juice if it’s a bit too stiff, normally it’s very smooth). If you were making a normal cheesecake, you just pour it into the crust & put it in the oven for about 50 minutes at 170c/335F. Because I opted for silicon molds this changed my normal baking time dramatically because the molds were of different shape & depth & made by different companies so the individual baking times varied from mold to mold (the shortest being 25mins, the longest 45). What I did then was to leave them in the moulds while they cooled (which I totally admit made my life easier than trying to scoop them out of a pan and shape them).

For the chocolate coating, I melted half the chocolate and 1 tbsp of vegan butter in the microwave and stirred well (so much work there). Then, carefully not burning my fingers on the chocolate I swirled the shapes in the chocolate. I found that even after being very cool from the fridge they were still really difficult to coat so I put them in the freezer & found that the colder they were, the easier they were to coat (less cold = thicker, goopier chocolate coating, whereas colder = pretty, thin layer). I also found that I had to sprinkle the decorations on right away after coating them or the chocolate hardened and they wouldn’t stick.

I’ll be honest- while the cheese cake was delicious, having it coated in chocolate just seemed too much for my family who seemed to just peel it off. It was, however, a very fun challenge, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Here’s the original recipe from Ms. O’Connor’s book:

Cheesecake Pops

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature

2 cups sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup heavy cream

Boiling water as needed

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks

1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) – Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

Cranberry-Orange-Nut Bread

Cranberry-Orange-Nut Bread

I can’t believe that my mum’s annual visit is coming to a close, and she’ll be heading back to the states in a week. Many people live very far from the people they love, so I don’t want to start throwing streamers for a pity party here folks, and I am constantly thankful for the Internet and free International Long Distance, things that weren’t always available to me when I was so far from home (like when I was just a little 16-year-old non-French-speaking exchange student, lost in a rural village in the Loire Valley…), but her eminent departure does make me a bit sad…

I am however thrilled that since my marriage in 2004, my mum has come at least once a year for a visit in the Spring. One of her dreams was to visit France, and now her passport is beginning to look rather accustomed to travel! This year’s visit was a bit dampened by her being very, very sick for nearly two weeks, and that on her birthday to boot! We’d made reservations at a schmancy restaurant to take her out to celebrate (a restaurant which was willing to accommodate a vegan diner no less!), but she was so sick, she couldn’t even pretend to want to go. I could tell she wouldn’t be able to force down a birthday cake, but I wanted her special day to begin with something special, so enter Cranberry-Orange-Nut Bread from Veganomicon!

The following is not the original recipe in VCON, I made a handful of adaptations, and the result was delicious (as is the unadulterated recipe in VCON of course!). Here is my altered version, which my mum just loved for her birthday breakfast- we even put a birthday candle on it! Here’s my changed-up version:

  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup veg. oil (it was actually a bit less, I maybe filled it 3/4 full)
  • 1/3 cup Xylitol (all-natural sugar-sub made from birch bark)
  • 1/3 cup raw/brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar (reserve 2 tbs. to sprinkle on the bread & decorate plates)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tbs orange water
  • 1/4 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup whole frozen cranberries (they don’t have to be completely defrosted, just mostly)
  • 2/3 cups chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Sift together all the dry ingredients and slowly add the wet to dry, mixing until smooth. Fold in the cranberries, nuts & orange zest, and pour into a loaf pan & bake for about an hour at 325F/160C. Let it cool a bit, like 10-15 minutes, before trying to take it out of the pan.

We loved this bread, and since finding fresh cranberries is nearly impossible except in November here (my frozen ones were left over from Thanksgiving), I am going to try this with blueberries or blackberries.

Cookies for Monsieur Hotto

Chocolate Chip & Chocolate Raspberry

Not sure about you, but I really don’t need an excuse to bake cookies. My family loves cookies, and we love to eat cookies, so really, I need more reasons not to bake cookies…however…

Monsieur Hotto is an elderly neighbour that I met last fall when I saw him wrestling with his grocery bag in the cold (the bag was winning). I actually didn’t realize we were neighbors until I offered to help him home with his bag. He is just this adorable 83 year-old sweetheart – he’s got a quick wit and fabulous sense of humor, though he was recently widowed and sometimes seems a bit abandonded. I lived very far away from my grandfather (across the continent), and couldn’t be there to pick things up from the store for him or bring him little care packages of fresh-baked bread or homemade soup, but he had wonderful neighbours who did, and I am still so greatful to them. I really miss my grandpa, and so, one could say that there is something selfish in bringing my neighbor cookies or lemon bars (from Veganomicon, of course). I say, I’m happy to see him happy, and the Guppy loves to stop by and say hello and give him a kiss on the cheek and then laugh jokingly “oh! ça pique!” (hey! That’s prickly!). I like to check in on him and say hello, but I’m shy and need a bit of a reason to go visit. This is part of why I have really gotten into baking. If I make a batch of something, it’s far too much for my little family, so I just wrap up a portion for my cher voisin.

These are two of our favorites: Chocolate Raspberry cookies from Veganomicon and Classic Chocolate Chip from How It All Vegan.

The Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies from HIAV are pretty much our standard cookie, but I had been itching to try the Chocolate Raspberry ones from VCON so this was my excuse. They are really amazing, and have quickly gained ‘favourite’ status in our home, but I found that I needed to make them much larger than the recipe suggested in order for them to be soft and chewy. When I made the first batch they rather came out like crunchy ginger-snap type things, which made my jaw hurt, and the Guppy didn’t even want to try to bite through one. I found that when I made them much bigger and thicker, though, they were fudgy-raspberry heaven.

So next time you’re baking something up, make a little extra for someone who might need a little vegan-love…

Also, please visit Endless Simmer to vote against Anthony Bourdain and vote for Hezbola Tofu (and check out all the creative & beautiful vegan make-overs of clueless Bourdain’s recipes) a rather arrogant and ignorant French chef who is giving French chefs & cuisine enthusiasts a very bad name. As a Franco-American who lives in France I would like to say that that thankfully the French are not as closed-minded as Monsieur Bourdain paints them to be. I have encountered here in France the same sorts of mixed-reception my herbivore lifestyle initiated in all the other countries I’ve ever lived in/visited.

Tempeh with Bulgur and Celery

Tempeh & Bulgur Salad

 

I have been so crazy-busy since my Mum got here that I’ve been rather absent from the blogosphere of late… so I’m hoping to make up for my lack of posts with one of my favorite (and rather quick) recipes: Tempeh with Bulgur and Celery.

My omni-Mum has been rather enjoying all the delicious (hopefully) vegan offerings eaten here at the Fish household, but this has been one of her favourites by far. She wanted to be sure to have the recipe before she left, so I decided it was blog-worthy and will share this healthy and tasty composed salad with everyone!

I love the marriage of cilantro (with just about anything) and tempeh, and adding the nutty-flavoured quinoa makes it just perfect. I often make this dish with bulgur rather than quinoa, and sometimes too with left-over brown rice or kamut. It’s all good…

Tempeh and Bulgur with Celery

Tempeh with Bulgur and Celery

  • 1 cup bulgur (or quinoa or your favorite grain)
  • 2 cups water
  • oil for frying
  • 1 package of tempeh, cubed
  • 4 cloves crushed or finley minced garlic (or more)
  • 5 or more green onions (you can add more or less to taste, cut them on the diagonal, they look perdy like that, or just chop them up if you’re in a hurry)
  • 4 tbs soy sauce
  • 4 tbs agave syrup or rice syrup
  • 5 (or as many as you’d like) celery stalks, diced (the smaller, the better)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  1. Cook your grain of choice, here bulgur, and while it’s cooking dice up your veggies & tempeh. I usually start by frying up the tempeh. The original recipe I adapted calls for deep-frying it, which I don’t always do. Often I just cover the bottom of the pan with oil, then sauté the tempeh until it’s crispy and golden. Deep-frying does give it a great sort of “burn bacon”-like taste (which my mom loved).
  2. Let your tempeh drain on some paper towels while you sauté the garlic, onion and celery until the onions are bright green and the celery softens up just a tad. Add the soy sauce and your syrup and let things bubble up a bit, then add the tempeh and stir until well coated, and finally add your grain and fold until everything is coated with this delicious sweet-tasting sauce.
  3. Once you remove from heat (I usually pour it into a large salad bowl) fold in the parsley (or cilantro) and serve. You can also drizzle some lime or lemon juice if you’d like.

I like to serve this as a warm-cold salad, but in the summer (and when I’m organized enough) I make this ahead of time and chill in the fridge and it’s just as good.

We are all having a great time with my Mum, though sigh-seeing has been halted by her being slammed by a horrible cold/lung issue, but the Guppy is getting tons of snuggles and is just elated to have her “Pamma” here with her.

 

 

 

Christina’s Tofu-Noodle Bake

Healthy comfort food! Casseroles and one-pot meals rock when you are in a hurry but want to resist the urge to cave and get take-out. The convenience of just mixing random ingredients in a pot or pan or whatever and tossing it (gently) in the oven is not to be over-looked. When you can manage to use healthy ingredients in said pan, well, bravo to you!
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I was really curious about Macrobiotics about a year ago. I was aware of its existence and knew vaguely what it was all about, but I started digging around on the net and invested in a few books to find out for myself. I think there is a great deal that I can glean from the philosophy behind Macrobiotics, though a hard-core Macro lifestyle doesn’t really work for me. What does work for me is eating whole (locally-grown) foods whenever possible and avoiding processed and pre-packaged fare.
One of the Macro cookbooks I picked up along the way is Christina Pirello’s Cooking the Whole Foods Way- and I love it. This book is extremely user-friendly, and with 500 vegan recipes- has lots to offer everyone, Macrobiotic or not. There are some ingredients which may seem unfamiliar to some such as mochi or umeboshi paste (pictured above), but she’s got a great glossary section explaining everything, and really, many of the recipes can be made with substitutions.
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This noodle bake is very, very easy to make, and I have added and substituted various veggies depending on what I had on hand. It’s rich and creamy and comforting, and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy (in a good way). The mochi, a sort of pounded sweet brown rice cake, and thinly sliced on top it becomes very melty and cheese-like and adds a richness to the casserole, but it is also very good without it, so don’t let that hold you back!

Tofu-Noodle Bake, adapted from Cooking The Whole Foods Way by Christina Pirello:

  • package firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon white miso (I use more like a tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon umeboshi paste
  • 3 tablespoons tahini (you may want to use a little more)
  • 1 teaspoon brown rice syrup (I use more like a tablespoon. Agave works, too.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (again, I use more, it’s to your taste, really)
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups cooked small noodles (use whole-wheat, for your health! Then you can splurge on cookies or cupcakes or something for dessert…balance, baby, balance!)
  • 2 shallots, diced (I skip this)
  • 1 carrot, diced (I use at least 2, usually more)
  • 1 stalk broccoli (including stem), diced
  • 4oz package brown rice mochi, very thinly sliced
I add to that 1 diced onion, a cup of frozen peas or green beans, courgette slices, whatevah.
Oven heated to about 400F/200C, put the tofu, miso, umeboshi paste, tahini, rice syrup, soy sauce and water in food processor and add enough water so you have a creamy paste.
Toss noodles and veggies together and add the paste, being sure that everything is coated nicely. If you’re skipping the mochi, just cover and pop in oven for around 40 minutes or so, taking off cover (foil works well here) for last maybe 10 mins so it’s a bit crunchy on the top.
If you’re going mochi here, just cover the casserole with the mochi and lightly sprinkle with water, then cover with foil being careful it’s not touching the top because it will stick and you’ll be sad. Check after about 40 minutes and if the mochi isn’t melted add a little more water and put it back in for another 5. If it’s still not melted you probably didn’t slice it thin enough, but it’s not the end of the world, you can probably still enjoy it.
With a little pepper sprinkled on top it is almost as good as the mac & cheese casserole I loved growing up as a kid. It’s very good with just a simple green salad, but, I doubt I need to tell you what to eat with it!

 

Whatever happened to Sunday Dinners? Lentil Casserole & “Wanna Be” Twinkiesque Cupcakes

Ever since drooling over Jennifer McCann’s veganized Twinkie(r) recipe, I have been able to think of nothing else (sorry, just had to laugh at the absurdity of that sentence- can you imagine only thinking about spongecake & creme filling? No dwelling on worrying about stressing over thinking about things like paying the bills, what to feed your 2 year-old, grading papers for students who really don’t care anyway, your checking account’s current negative balance, et all.) Let’s say that the vegan Twinkies(r) have been on my mind. A lot.

I went to a few stores in town and none of them carried anything even close to the cakelette tins one needs to build the perfect vegan Twinkie(r). While ordering them on-line is a possibility, the shipping is more than the tins…so, I surrendered to the idea of just making cupcakes, but that is so not the same thing.

 

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The other little snag in my devious plot for vegan Twinkie(r) perfection was that the recipe for the creme filling calls for barley malt powder. Now, if you think finding the cakelette tins is a problem here, you can forget about finding something as obscure as barley malt powder.

Not prepared to renounce a chance at tasting the sweet nostalgia of my youth, I decided to improvise (as usual) and used the “Fluffy White Icing” recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance. I’ve made Isa’s (Can I call you Isa? I think I can. Or would you prefer Ms. Isa? How about Vegan Cupcake Goddess?) “Fauxstess Cupcakes” before (they are délicioso), though I’d not gone the extra caloric-mile with the cream filling. It was a mile well worth taking, because it was perfect. The recipe calls for non-hydrogenated shortening which is also impossible to find in ma ville, but doubling up on the non-hydrogenated margarine worked perfectly much to my delight!

The Twinkie-cupcake experience was all rather exciting for me as I’d never used a pastry bag to fill anything before- how fun! I actually exploded a few cupcakes in the process (which was also kinda fun), but it was no problem, I just decided to cover up the damage with some swirly-cream! (I felt so Martha Stewart).

 

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Before…

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after!

Mr. Fish had never before tasted the goodness that we call Twinkie(r), and he was converted instantly. I’d planned on bringing some to work with me today to make up for the Valentine’s cupcakes which never made it…and he persuaded me that it was better to keep them here, with us. For Us.

I was so busy being productive yesterday with the cupcakes and my long run and putting the finishing touches on my Pointy Kitty (which I’ll blog more on later), that the dinner part of Sunday just sort of slipped away from me.

Being that it’s the end of the month (we’re paid monthly here in France) and the cupboards are beginning to be a wee bit bare, and I was rather short on time (and energy, licking all that cream filling off my fingers was exhausting!), I wanted to find a nutritious and delicious casserole recipe, but where? how? Who would help me through this dilemma?

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Didn’t actually get a photo of the casserole, so here’s another cupcake!

Casseroles make me think of the 1950′s, which make me think retro, which logically make me think of looking in a Sarah Kramer cookbook. Makes sense, right? See, here’s the deal, I have a love/hate relationship with La Dolce Vegan!. You know, like the colleague you seem to always be sort of harping about, so much so that someone finally tells you “hey, you have a crush on them!”- Ha! and all the incredulous “No I don’t, whatever!”s in the world can’t change the fact that you spend an awful lot of time talking about said person.

 

That’s me. I totally think Kramer is a righteous fish and her books are hip, but I just can’t figure out how to effectively use LDV. I can’t find things easily. Take yesterday for example. I wanted I casserole recipe, so I look under casseroles in the index. I find just a few. Nothing that would work with my kitchen stock. I continue to flip through and accidentally happen upon “Wendy’s Lentil & Brown Rice Casserole” (which was not with the casseroles, go figure). Cool. I put down book, the Guppy picks up book and starts reading it and of course page is lost. I can’t find it. I know C for casserole won’t help, I then look under W for Wendy but that doesn’t work… luckily for me I found it under “lentils” because it was yummy. I amped up the spices adding more basil and oregano, adding turmeric, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes, and four carrots. Very tasty, very easy. One pot meals rule! Yes you have to take it out to stir a few times, but since I had dishes to do and papers to grade at the kitchen table, it wasn’t terribly difficult.

I would like to say we enjoyed the casserole with a fresh, green salad with mustard vinaigrette (that was the plan) and homemade rolls (also the plan), but we were so full from noshing on the cupcakes that, well, we just left those out.