Wow, it’s February and we’re just posting about Christmas dinner! These last few months have been busy but it’s time to catch up a bit with this blog. Before Christmas I saw that Isa posted her recipe for Sweet & Smoky Glazed Tofu Ham from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook. We decided to make it for Christmas dinner and it was fabulous. On the side we had roasted brussels sprouts, whipped sweet potatoes and bananas and cranberry sauce. The sweet potato recipe was something from Tyler Florence that we did for Thanksgiving long ago and enjoyed. The recipe calls for honey and butter but it’s easily veganized by using agave and Earth Balance. This time we cut way back on both the sweetener and the fat and it was still great.
On another note, we didn’t accomplish our goal of using 52 different cookbooks last year but we decided to keep plowing ahead to see if we can get through all 52 by the end of this year. We’ve since purchased the new Isa book and it’s added to our list (we also made the Cheeseburger Pizza for the Super Bowl and it was awesome) and we have a couple others to add. Another book we’ve added to our collection was just released recently – Kathy Hester’s The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot. We love our Instant Pot and this book has been a good addition to our ever growing cookbook shelf. So far we’ve made the Jambalaya (pictured below), which was quick, easy and tasty, and also the Southern Breakfast, which is grits and a tofu scramble made in the Instant Pot at the same time. We decided we like a tofu scramble made on the stovetop better but the grits were awesome. Despite living in the South we don’t eat grits often but this recipe will change that. We’ve already made grits multiple times since then.
Now step into the way, way back machine for another cookbook we just added to the list. The Horn of the Moon Cookbook was one of the first vegetarian cookbooks we ever bought (there were quite literally only about two vegan cookbooks available at that time) and we don’t use it much anymore because it’s fairly egg and dairy heavy but the Cashew French Toast recipe (pictured below) is one we keep coming back to. It was especially good now that we have a Vitamix because the batter whipped up super creamy. If you’ve read this far, congratulations! Here’s a bonus recipe: mix 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk with 1/2 cup cashews, 2 Tbs. sunflower seeds, 2 Tbs. sesame seeds and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract in a blender or food processor. Pour over some thick slices of bread and cook like you would French toast.
Since we’re all about making things from scratch, we’ve really been enjoying The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner. And since we got a soy milk maker a couple years ago we’ve been making soy milk regularly and then wondering what to do with the okara, which is the leftover pulp from making soy milk. We use it for baking and granola but I was happy to find a few recipes in The Homemade Vegan Pantry that include okara, like these San Francisco Fab Cakes. They’re sort of a mock crab cake and they’re really delicious! And our 52 cookbooks list is finally growing again.
We’ve tried our hand at making flour tortillas on occasion but only very recently did we get a tortilla press and try making corn tortillas from scratch. We decided to take the plunge because the corn tortillas we were buying in the store were dry and crumbly. Then some friends put us on to some packaged, uncooked corn tortillas that you cook yourself at home (just a minute or so on either side in a hot pan). They were so much better than the dry crumbly ones! And the next logical step was to buy some masa and a tortilla press and make them totally from scratch. Which is very easy to do, and just a little time consuming but not too bad.
So now we’re making fresh tacos fairly regularly. For dinner last night we made them with our go-to “cheese” sauce and a tofu/kale mixture that was sauteed together and seasoned with cumin and chili powder. They were topped with avocado and salsa and the 7 year old ate 5 of them! OK, they were fairly small but still…
I’ve written this before but it bears repeating. Tradition is what you make it. Millions of people have turkey on Thanksgiving because it’s tradition. This was our 19th vegan Thanksgiving. This is our tradition. And we’re thankful we can have such a fabulous, flavorful meal without unnecessarily harming animals.
We generally have some sort of vegetable pie with puff pastry but we broke with that tradition this year and turned to one of the newest cookbooks in our collection, Street Vegan, and an older book from our collection, The Voluptuous Vegan. Street Vegan is packed with amazing recipes but many of them are rather involved so we hadn’t used it yet because so often we’re cooking meals that are simple and on the table quickly. Thanksgiving is a day to spend more time cooking so we decided to make the Hemp Seed and Rosemary Crusted Tofu with Tarragon Garlic Bread Pudding from Street Vegan. Rather than spelt bread as called for in the bread pudding recipe we used the Amaranth Studded Cornbread from The Voluptuous Vegan. Also from that same book we made the Sauteed Haricots Verts and Cranberry Relish with Apples and Pears. For the tofu and bread pudding we also made a mushroom gravy from the Oh She Glows cookbook. Despite the disparate sources it all came together nicely and was one of the best Thanksgiving meals we’ve made.
We also broke with tradition for dessert. Rather than our typical pumpkin pie or cheesecake we used our newly acquired donut pan and made these baked Maple Pumpkin Donuts with Spiced Glaze. The donut pan has been a big hit with the kids so far.
We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!
First some fun news. We’re going to be testing recipes for Robin Robertson‘s next cookbook! There’s not much more we can say about it right now but we’re really looking forward to it. Helping Robin with her next book reminded me of a time long ago when we reviewed one of her previous books on our first blog. One of the recipes we wrote about was the Tofu and Broccoli with Hoisin-Ginger Sauce. Looking back at our Eat Air blog from that time brings back a lot of memories because that was when Darlene was pregnant with our first child. Now that kid is not only old enough to help in the kitchen but even to use a knife (albeit with lots of our supervision). Yikes!
I thought he might enjoy this recipe and he certainly did. I dialed back the heat and kept it pretty mild but it still had a little kick from the ginger and he picked up on that. He still cleaned his plate though so we were happy. The recipe is really simple – mainly a tofu and broccoli stir fry with the addition of scallions and fresh ginger. The sauce is a mixture of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, water and a little chili paste. Delicious! We definitely shouldn’t wait almost 8 years before making this one again!
Yesterday we had some friends over to watch the penultimate stage of the Tour de France and we all enjoyed a delicious brunch. The tofu scramble and roasted vegetables were good but what really came out well were the peach beignets. Credit to Darlene for coming up with that idea. I’m not sure how authentic they were but they sure did taste good. I ended up using my tried and true recipe for Apple Uglies but instead of apples and cinnamon I used some nice local peaches we’ve been getting from our CSA. I cut back on the sugar a little too since the beignets got a generous dusting of powdered sugar at the end. The main modification to the recipe that I needed was to add a lot of extra flour since the peaches were so juicy. And rather than making each piece of dough into an oblong shape I rolled out the dough and cut it into squares beignet-style.
I posted my basic tofu scramble recipe a long time ago on our previous blog and this one was similar. Instead of onion I used a leek from our CSA and I also added a shredded carrot, mushrooms and kale. The roasted veggies were all from the CSA – red potatoes, purple potatoes, beets and bell peppers. These were coated with olive oil, salt and some fresh herbs from our garden (thyme, oregano, rosemary and lavender) and roasted in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes. All agreed it was an excellent meal!
We definitely had to put our new grill to use on the 4th of July! I had never tried freezing tofu before but I heard that doing so can give it a chewier texture so I gave it a whirl. I drained two blocks of tofu then put them in the freezer overnight. I took them out this morning and let them thaw then drained them on a towel. Then I cut each block into 8 pieces, brushed them with homemade barbecue sauce and put them on the grill. I’m still learning about grilling and I had some hot spots in my fire so some of the tofu got a little too charred but still it was good. And freezing did give it a firm texture that help up well to grilling. On the side we had coleslaw and potato salad, made with cabbage and some nice red potatoes from our CSA.
I kind of winged it in making the barbecue sauce but it came out really well so although I didn’t write anything down I’ll approximate it here from memory. I just mixed all this stuff together in a small saucepan and simmered on low heat for about half an hour:
3 Tbs. tomato paste
1/2 c. water
1 Tbs. cider vinegar
1 Tbs. molasses
1 Tbs. agave
2 tsp. vegan worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1/2 tsp. onion power
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
You could definitely add some cayenne or hot sauce too but I kept it mild for the kids. I made this up as I went along so if you try it you should definitely experiment with different proportions to suit your fancy.
We’ve been getting lots of bok choy and Napa cabbage from our CSA and they make for a good stir fry. We also added to this one onions, carrots, cashews, tofu, and even a little broccoli from our garden. You can stir fry almost anything you have on hand though. It’s all in the sauce. This is a recipe that we and the kids liked that’s adapted from the Beefy Asparagus Stir Fry recipe in Isa Does It. Just whisk all this stuff together in a bowl then add to your stir fried veggies at the end:
1/2 c. water
1 Tbs. cornstarch
3 Tbs. soy sauce
3 Tbs. hoisin sauce
1 tsp. sriracha (more to taste)
2 Tbs. lime juice
1 Tbs. agave
1 Tbs. sesame oil
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
We often serve our stir fries over brown rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds. And with the kids, we make everything very mild but I do enjoy some extra sriracha on top too!
We recently made an Ethiopian feast for dinner and Darlene had the fabulous idea to turn the leftover tofu wat into hand pies (or calzones if you like). Every culture has some sort of hand pie, though I’m not sure if you’d find something like this in Ethiopia. Regardless, they were awesome! Check out one of our previous pizza posts for a link to and discussion of the dough recipe. I don’t have a recipe for the tofu wat because I made it up as I went along but Google it and you’ll get some ideas. You could really fill these with anything though.
We had these hand pies with some beautiful collards from our Bellair Farm CSA. It’s so exciting to be starting off the CSA season again and we hope to showcase more of the beautiful produce we’ll be getting each week in our share. Our go-to method for collards is simply to chop a bunch of them into bite-sized pieces (removing any thick stems), then saute in a little olive oil for a few minutes. Then we add a minced clove of garlic, saute for another minute then add lemon juice. (The juice from half a lemon is about right for a large bunch of collards.) I also like to add a little sweetener – 1/2 teaspoon of agave or sugar does the trick.
Do you only have spring rolls when dining out at Chinese or Thai restaurants? Why not make them at home? It’s not as hard as you might think. The hardest part for some might be finding the spring roll wrappers but if you have an Asian market nearby it’s likely you can find them there (they’re in the freezer section of our local Asian market). We posted about spring rolls many times on our previous blog and this post has a bit of a recipe and some instructions for wrapping. It’s mostly cabbage, usually carrots, plus whatever else you want to throw in – tonight that happened to be tofu and kale. The key here is that if you’re nervous about or otherwise turned off by deep frying, well there’s another way. We deep fry these on occasion but they come out pretty good just by rolling them a little flat and frying in a shallow pan with a generous amount of canola oil. You can try baking them too.
It’s nice to have a good dipping sauce to go along with these and our usual recipe is to whisk together 1/3 c. apricot jam, 2 Tbs. soy sauce, 1 Tbs. rice vinegar, and 1 tsp. sesame oil. They can be a meal by themselves or you can serve them with some noodles or fried rice or whatever else suits your fancy.
It had been quite a while since we made spring rolls but they used to be a regular go-to meal and I think they may become so again because they’re so delicious!