Whatever Happaned to Sunday Dinners : The General, Mihl & a Monday suggestion (if I may…)

Before we get all food p*rny, I’d first like to apologize to Mihl of Seitan is My Motor. She is beautiful, talented, makes the most amazing cookies ever and shares delightful German recipes and cultural tidbits. Reading her blog is like taking a little trip to Dresden, and if you haven’t been over there lately, you should!

elephant

gummies

Why am I saying I’m sorry? Mihl so sweetly sent me super-delicious vegan Gummy Bears and an adorable handmade card decked out with origami animals and despite my best intentions, I inadvertently left her out of my Happy Mail round-up. I officially suck and will hang my head in shame as I compose the rest of this post

It’s almost Mardi Gras!!! Wooot! Here in France we don’t get as crazy-wild-fun as does our friend Kittee (I can’t wait to see pictures of her in her costume!), but it does mean crêpes! Love it! But wait, mardi is Tuesday…whatever will we eat on Monday? May I suggest you make yourself some extraordinary New Orleans Style Red Beans? I made these last Monday and good grief did my house smell amazing all morning while those beans were simmering!

monday-beans

Delicious, simple beany goodness served over a mix of wheat berries, wild rice and whole white rice. Leftovers were enjoyed rolled up in tortillas. So easy, so nutritious and so affordable!

And now on to Sunday Dinner, which is brought to you today by the letter “K” as in Krys of Two Vegan Boys. She served up some General Tao’s Tofu the other day and it got me craving take out Chinese again (what is up with that?). The recipe is here though I just used it as a guideline : I doubled the sauce, played with the spices a little, cursed the fridge gods for not having any peppers or green onions, and thanked them for the broccoli, mushrooms, green beans, cauliflower and carrots I did have. Oh yum. Thanks for the inspiration, Krys!

general-taos-tofu

This was the first time I dipped tofu in an egg replacer before giving it a good cornstartch coat. I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure if it was necessary. I think just giving it a little dip in some non-dairy milk or even just a smidge of water would have worked fine. Just sayin’.

Whatever Happened To Sunday Dinners? : Chow Baby, Divine Lemon Scones & an Award!

I am once again swooning but for the deliciousness of Ms. Joni’s “food courtesque” Chinese-style recipes! Be still my beating heart (and growling stomach) we have Chow Mein, or Mein Chow if you prefer, action happening here :

chow-mein

The most effortless and versatile vegan chow mein ever! Here we have carrots, onion, green beans, mushrooms, mung bean shoots…but baby corn, broccoli, and faux duck (aka seitan) would also be excellent choices. This was a perfect one-wok meal, and as always, I love you both Celine and Joni, as weekly meal planning is a no-brainer for me, and you all are going to love 500 Vegan Recipes! There are some fabulous photos at the 500 Vegan Recipes Cookbook Flickr group, too. But warning : don’t go on an empty stomach!

But let’s get onto the scones, shall we? As many of you know, since my little accident in November, my Sunday routine has been drastically altered. I loved Sunday mornings because they meant me sneaking out of the apartment before Guppy and Monsieur Fish were awake, greedily soaking up the warm smells of baking croissants and baguettes wafting from the boulangeries as I made my way through the streets of my still-sleeping French city… then on to the forest trails, where the morning mist was still hanging heavy, and save the occasional company of a fox, rabbit or (yikes!) wild boar, I was free to spend one and a half to two glorious hours of me time : the long run.

There was nothing like coming home after my long run, feeling both spent and refreshed at the same time (though not smelling so fresh, gotta admit!). After some stretching and showering, it was time for a decadent Sunday brunch with my little family. While I’m sad (and frustrated) to say my foot/ankle is still not letting me do much other than dream about running, I woke up Sunday morning with that basta! feeling we get when enough really is enough and damn it if I can’t go run at least I’m going to make a fun Sunday brunch treat!

And the Divine Lemon Scones were born. Out of necessity. Because I wanted something citrus, something sweetish (as opposed to Swedish, though, that would have been a good idea, too) and I have a sac of lemons that Monsieur Fish bought last week because they were 1E and he just knew I could use them for something.

divine-lemon-sconeI might have gotten a little carried away with the glaze on this one…what do you think?

These scones have a lovely lemon cakesque groove going on which is perfect for the lemon-lover in me. If, however, you are not as lemon crazy as I am, you may want to use less lemon juice or extract for the glaze, or just skip the glaze all together, though I would think you mad because it’s so good!

Divine Lemon Scones

Because I didn’t feel like washing a million cups, this is a metric measure recipe. Sorry Imperialists Imperial-measure folks. This makes about 12 scones.

  • 300 ml non-dairy milk (I use soy)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 350g AP flour plus 100g AP flour
  • 60g sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • pinch salt (but not hard)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • zest from 3 lemons

Preheat your oven to about 200c.

Mix the vinegar and “milk” and set aside. Sift together the 350g flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Now add the oil, zest and curdled soy milk mixture. Stir until just combined, adding flour from the 100g as needed to achieve a powdery, not-even-a-little-bit-sticky dough.

At this point I usually divide the dough into two or three as it’s easier to work with. Knead a piece a few times and flatten it into a bit of a disc-shape. Now cut wedges, about six if you divided the dough in two, and get those babies on a parchment or silplat-lined baking sheet. Bake them for about 10-15 minutes (my oven is psycho, so sometimes it’s more like 10, sometimes 14ish).

While they are on the cooling rack, make your Divine Glaze:

  • about 180g powdered/icing sugar (give or take, depending on the consistency you like)
  • the juice of three lemons (you know, the ones you just scalped for the zest)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional, this really gets things lemony)

All you need to do is mix this up until the powdered sugar dissolves. When the scones are mostly-cool just drizzle this all over them. Setting them on parchment paper is a good idea to help with easy clean-up since this glaze could also double as tasty super glue I think. If these don’t float your sconey-boat, you could also try the Rose & Almond Scones I made for BBD last May – delicate rose flavoured almond scones – yum!

Speaking of lemons, look what I got!

lemonade-award2One of my favourite blogger buddies, Jumbleberry Jam, passed along the Lemonade Award which goes to bloggers who show great Attitude and/or Gratitude. My wise and witty Jumblefriend loves gourmet vegan food, wine, dark chocolate…wait a minute, I think that this describes the majority of my readers! Anyway, thank you so much for this much-appreciated distinction. While I’m to pass this on to 10 other bloggers, I am incapable of choosing because there are so many of you that I just LOVE, so consider yourself awarded if you meet at least one of the following criteria :

1. You can’t wait to read your favourite blogs, and are incapable of keeping up with your “Reader” which makes you crazy!

2. You feel a genuine connection to your favourite bloggers and refer to them as “friends you met on the Internet” when talking about them to non-blogging people (as opposed to just calling them “bloggers”).

3. You’re eternally grateful for the fabulous recipes and food ideas you find in blogland and have no idea how you’d plan your weekly meals without them.

There you go! Do let me know if you’ve been tagged!

I love crêpes & la fête de la Chandeleur! Oh, and Whatever happened to Sunday dinners? Sweet & Sour Tofu and Asian-Style Veg

Happy fête de la Chandeleur! Let’s get crazy and eat crêpes!

While some of you are “celebrating” Groundhog Day, here in France it’s one of my favourite little holidays of all – la fête de la Chandeleur, and we get to eat crêpes! I wrote a lovely explination of this holdiay last year, and let me tell you, it is the most popular post on this blog. I can’t begin to tell you how many English language “Chandeleur” searches lead folks to me. There is also my tried & true vegan crêpe recipe on that post, which is also quite popular this time of year. So go read up on Catholic propaganda and crêpes – what fun!

But what about Sunday dinner?

sstofu

Sweet & Sour Tofu

One of my favourite “treats” as a child was going out for Chinese food. Now grant you, there was only one Chinese restaurant near-by (and near-by being a rather subjective distance), and it was only on very special occasions that my parents piled us all into the mini-van for some Chinese cuisine. Now a mum myself, I can only discern virtual Congressional Medals of Honor for the courage and heroism (and insanity?) my parents displayed bringing us all out to eat in public, in a restaurant. All six of us.

My absolute favourite thing as a kid was the Sweet & Sour Chicken balls. The sticky-sweet red sauce clinging to the deep-fried, breaded balls – which really should have been called Sweet & Sour breading balls with a tiny piece of chicken in them, seriously – and the sticky white rice painted pink after a proper slathering in the sweet & sour sauce…it was like dessert, but for dinner.

I haven’t had the sweet & sour goodness in so long it is crazy, since at least 1990 when I went veg, but probably before. This is a test recipe for 500 Vegan Recipes, and I feel like I need to have a second child and name her Joni in order to properly thank her for this recipe it is so damn good. If you ever enjoyed food-court-style take out in your pre-vegan days and miss that wonderful, terrible sticky red sauce, you are going to love this recipe.

ss-tofu-vegAsian-Style Veg and Sweet & Sour Tofu

I’m a little embarrassed, but I’ll admit it. I made this twice in three days I love it so much. There. I said it. Please don’t totally lose respect for me.

I don’t know what I’m going to do when Joni & Celine are done testing their recipes for their upcoming cookbook 500 Vegan Recipes. What will I make? Seriously, I love this because I just consult what needs to be tested and I have my menu for the week! Don’t forget the Flickr group for more food p*orn love.

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.

Back From Five Freezing Days In The South of France

toulouse_lautrec.jpeg

This is one of my favorite paintings by Toulouse Lautrec, the French painter who took the name of the beautiful city of Toulouse as his pseudonym (he was not in fact from Toulouse, but Albi, a gorgeous medieval city about 60k from where I was – Saint-Sulpice – very near Toulouse). This really hasn’t much to do with our trip, but since we were near Toulouse, and we went to Toulouse often during our visit…er…ok, anyway…

pretty.jpg

Spring has most definitely spring down there, there were blossoms and flowers and buds galore…but with the exception of my daily runs and literally running to the car or to the house to escape the hail and pelting rain, we didn’t really get to be part of the beauty outdoors. You can see my brush with the elements here.

The beauty we did get to enjoy was inside the toasty-warm walls of my in-laws home. We had such a wonderful time- especially the Guppy who was so excited to have other people around from the moment she woke up (we don’t get to see much of our families & extended families so this was a very special treat).

My in-laws have a beautiful home and they had a roaring fire going at all times keeping the house feeling very cosy and homey, and they were so great about my vegan dietary considerations. During their visit to our house during the holidays I had cooked up a vegan storm, wielding whisk and spatula to make satisfying meals for omnivores (and to charm the in-laws of course!). So it was only natural that they suggest I help cook up some dinners- because creating healthful, varied, vegan meals takes some planning and experience, and if you’re not used to it, well, it may seem a bit daunting.

The really big hit dish of our vacation was this fabulous recipe for orange chicken-style tofu. I have seen this recipe floating about all over the blogosphere, and it has lots of variations, but this is a great “base” recipe that you can easily expand on. For example I use way more orange juice – at least a cup – which means that you need to add more corn starch or arrowroot to compensate for the added liquid. I also usually add at least 1 red and 1 orange pepper, an entire sweet onion, and chunked pineapple.

My super-sweet 19-year-old nephew proved to be a wiz in the kitchen! He not only helped me make the orange-tofu, but he was also my main helper when rolling the 49 spring rolls for our final dinner there (my fingers were all puckery when I was done!). He was also amazing with the Guppy who just fell in love with him. He was so great with her, very intuitive for such a young guy, knowing if she needed a juice box or some applesauce, etc., and had no problem letting her jump on his bed or “hang out” with him while he was playing guitar (he even played on demand for her…)

It was also so fun to hang with my sister-in-law, L. She is so handy and crafty- a real inspiration with so many great ideas for various projects. She graciously donated a skein of yarn and some needles and showed me a great pattern for a skull-cappy-chuky thing, which I need to make time to finish. Plus she gave me various huge fabric scraps to amuse myself with.

Now if only we could find jobs down there…we’d pack up and move in a flash!

 

 

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!
sirop-tahini-et-umebosis-oh-my.jpg
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.
christinas-tofu-noodle-bake.jpg

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?” featuring tempeh, veggies and dessert!

In our continuing series “Whatever happened to Sunday Dinners?” I would like to propose:

  • Barbequed Tempeh from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook
  • Chickpea Broccoli Casserole from Vegan With A Vengeance
  • Gâteau au “fromage” à l’orange & aux amandes (orange & almond tofu “fromage” cheese cake) a Shellyfish original.

If you’re hungry, scroll down, this is a little long…

Being a vegan isn’t always easy. Dealing with an oft-misinformed public, tricky labeling, well-meaning but misguided friends and family members choosing sometimes radically inappropriate moments* to re-vegan-hash the “So why don’t you eat meat again?” question, stern-faced teachers and daycare personnel, incredulous about the lack of animal protein in your child’s diet…and so many other examples. I became a vegetarian over 18 years ago, and I was very lucky to have a supportive omnivore family, and then I moved to the other end of the United States and was living in an extremely veg-friendly city with great veg-friendly businesses, bakeries, groceries and restaurants. While I very, very rarely did anything resembling “cooking” or “baking”, I always had veg-friendly things to eat at my apartment, but I admit to very often eating out or getting take-out, and was generally a very lazy veg who was lacto-ovo much of the time.

It’s not the same life anymore for the Shellyfish, and I find myself spending more and more time in the kitchen. I used to cringe when I would imagine the “TMF” (typical married female) living somewhere between her laundry room and her kitchen, waiting on her husband and kids… (this reductionist view may well explain my former fear of commitment syndrome). I’ve evolved, and while some chicas are sadly uber-oppressed, I’m happy (most of the time) being a part-time stay-at-home mom, and I have discovered a new passion these past few years: spending time in the kitchen!

With the plethora of vegan cookbooks on the market and the growing numbers of vegan recipes on-line, it’s rather easy to find cruelty-free delicious things to prepare. While I am still in a far from veg-friendly French town, we have three, count ‘em, three health-food stores where I can find (expensive) tofu and other “oddities”, and when I lived in the area summer of 2004, there was much less choice to be had. It’s exciting to see things changing! While newly pregnant during Fall of 2004 (and home-bound and hungry!), I ordered a copy of The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook edited by Louise Hagler and Dorothy R. Bates at the suggestion of a friend brought up in a veg-household (and whose mom is a mid-wife). This cookbook is so amazing! I rarely see it cited on the veg-blogosphere, and it’s dommage because it is really one of the most complete, basic vegan bibles out there. It explains DIY tofu, tempeh, yuba, gluten/seitan, you name it. The other great thing about this book is that it doesn’t call for specific hard-to-find brand-names, most everything is findable for a country mouse or a city mouse. I admit NFVC isn’t as hip or sexy as the newer, glossy books available. This book is from the mid-70s (just like me!), and it’s retro without trying to be. Get this book. You will not regret it. Well, maybe you will, but I think you’ll really like it.

Enough babble, on with our Sunday Dinner menu!

Until yesterday I’d never made my own BBQ sauce. There is a snappy recipe in the NFVC that you let simmer for an hour, and it is tangy and sassy and all those great BBQ adjectives rolled into one. Get your sauce going, then start your gâteau au fromage. I adapted this recipe from the basic Tofu Cheesecake recipe in NFVC, and have never regretted it. I’ve got another variation with maple syrup & pecans, but that’s for another day…

gateau-au-faux-mage-a-lorange-aux-amandes.jpg

  • GATEAU AU “fromage” À L’ORANGE ET AUX AMANDES
  • 500g/about 1lb medium tofu (just pat dry, don’t press)
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup veg. oil of choice
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 tablespoon orange essence/orange water (different brands call it different things)
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • shaved almonds, orange slices, raspberry coulis for garnish

Break up the tofu, and add all ingredients together in a food processor or blender and whip until creamy and smooth. If things are a bit grainy, mix some more, adding a hair of orange juice if it’s too thick. Pour into your crust of choice and bake at 350f for about 45 minutes or until it hardly jiggles in the middle. Let cool completely before trying to cut it!

While your gâteau is cooking and your BBQ sauce is simmering, you can set to work on the “Chickpea Broccoli Casserole” from VWAV. I’d never made it before, and I learned the hard way that you can’t always do with a “stiff fork” what you can do with a potato masher. After getting nowhere with my fourchette, I decided to squish my chickpeas with my bare hands (I’m a brute).

Once you get your casserole in the oven, just deep-fry your tempeh, and pour a little of your now-finished sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, add your blotted tempeh, then bake for about 15 minutes at around 350f.

bbq-tempeh-chickpea-broccoli-casserole.jpg

Everything was so super delicious! Mr. Fish was a little afraid of the casserole because it looked so “healthy”, but once he tasted it (and covered it with BBQ sauce) everything was fine. The Guppy devoured her gâteau au fauxmage, but the BBQ sauce was a little too much for her.

*like at the dinner table when they are about to wolf-down a fork-full of dead animal…I usually say, “I don’t think this is an appropriate time to talk about this.” or something similar, they push, I begin discussing slaughter-house strategies, etc., and inevitably someone at the table is horribly offended and gets all ‘radical vegan’ on me…

Tofu Loaf, Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Mighty Miso Gravy & Brown Rice: Now Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinners?

Wanting to make a special dinner for Mr. Fish yesterday (it was his fête, or Saint Day, I told you, holidays, albeit little ones, all the time!), I felt a bit strapped for ideas. I try very hard to be an organized person, properly rotating dishes to vary the nutrients and tastes, eating in season, having the correct ingredients on hand…but frankly, it’s a bit of a full-time job to do it all 100%, so I just do what I can (that being said there is a great little article in the recent VegFamily newsletter/website on meal planning
which describes a great idea, which I just might try).

When I went to the marché on Friday with the Guppy we bought about 500g/1lb of brussels sprouts because they looked so tasty. We eat brussels sprouts fairly often, but I would like to point out that before living in France I could not stand brussels sprouts: their geeky-pallor, hideous aroma- YUCK! Alas I was, as are many, victim of boiled-sprouts syndrome, which is unfortunate, because fresh brussels sprouts are amazing, and so good for you. Frozen just can’t compare, though I am not against frozen veggies at all, on the contrary they are often better and more accessible than fresh, but frozen sprouts lose part of their delicious soul, which is dommage. My favorite way to cook sprouts is to roast them, which is sooo easy it’s crazy, and they are so darn good you’ll be nibbling them off the serving dish. Yes, you will. Vegan With A Vengeance (one of my favorite cookbooks) has a nice simple recipe for roasting them with garlic so you could opt for that to begin. Once you start, you’ll be making them all the time and your friends will threaten to no longer eat over if you don’t make something else.

Yummy Tofu Loaf with oven-roasted brussel sprouts
Yummy Tofu Loaf with oven-roasted brussel sprouts

Anyway, needed to cook the sprouts, which left me thinking, “OK, great, you have your vegetable, but where is your MEAL???”, which is when I had this sort of magic infinity-moment where all was right with the world, I saw myself sitting down to a Clever family Sunday dinner and tried to envision what would be served next to the steaming platter of brussels sprouts and then it hit me- meatless loaf! Hourrah! I love tofu loaf! It’s such an easy main dish to throw together in a flash, and makes you feel like you’ve invited an old friend to your table (even if you’ve never been partial to loaf!).

A good tofu loaf is really a subjective thing- a good base-loaf recipe for you to use if it’s uncharted territory is the “Tip-Top Tofu Loaf” from Sarah Kramer’s La Dolce Vegan!. Recently a friend asked me for my tofu loaf recipe, and because it is never the same I suggested this recipe (because I just sort of do it “by ear” or au pif, by nose). I’m glad I did because it gave me cause to flip through it- I’m just not a big fan of this book because of its presentation. I get weirded out by all the pictures of Kramer prancing about. I don’t know why. There are, however, some great basic recipes for newbie vegans trying to find good transition comfort foods- or for folks like me who often make vegan meals for omnivores.

Tofu loaf, oven-roasted brussels sprouts, brown rice & Mighty Miso Gravy

Tofu loaf, oven-roasted brussels sprouts, brown rice & Mighty Miso Gravy

Rather than go with the traditional mashed potatoes usually found lurking around loafy-dishes, I made some brown rice, and no loafy-meal would be complete without a delicious gravy, so I made my family’s favorite “Mighty Miso Gravy” from How It All Vegan. Delish!

I did, however, make too much rice, so I’ll be searching for a good rice pudding recipe later today…

(In a moment of incredible dorkiness, I found that if you look quickly at the above picture it looks like a man wearing a monocle is smiling at you!)