Category Archives: Vegan Friday

A little gloating

With the last Friday and Saturday of 2014 behind us, I can gloat a little bit about the fact that I’ve kept my New Year’s resolution: I’ve posted an entire year’s worth of weekly Vegan Friday and Eco-Saturday projects.

I wasn’t sure I’d have enough Eco-Saturday ideas to keep going after this year, but after I sat down and looked at what was left on my original list and went through some books and websites in search of other possibilities, I realized I had enough potential material to carry me well into 2015, so we’ll keep rolling with that tag until I run out of ideas.

Vegan Friday was a bit trickier, partly because my standards are high: If a vegan recipe is a pain in the arse to make, I’m not trying it, and if I try a recipe and it doesn’t taste good, I’m not posting it. That filters out a lot of recipes. It was a worthy project while it lasted, but I just don’t have the time or will to continue it for another year.

Instead, I’m turning Vegan Friday into Vegetarian Friday. Aside from an occasional batch of chicken posole or pigs in blankets, just about everything I cook is meat-free, so coming up with 52 different recipes should be easy, and staying in my culinary comfort zone should give me more time to stage photographs properly instead of trying to snap something with my iPhone on the fly because I just realized it’s Thursday night and I still haven’t come up with a good replacement for the vile-tasting-but-gorgeous Brussels sprouts I made Monday or whatever. It occurs to me that my light-therapy lamp and a couple of sheets of foamboard would probably go a long way toward making my recipe posts a little more Pinterest-friendly.

The vegetarian recipes should help advance one of my long-term goals, which is to reduce my meat consumption in a sensible, sustainable way. (I’m still sorting out the details, but in essence, I’m hoping to phase out one food category per quarter until I’m more or less vegetarian again.)

I have a couple of other projects up my sleeve, too, but I’ll share those once I figure out the details.

Emily

Vegan Friday: Hard cider

Yes, I drink my cider out of a Champagne flute. The shape of the glass helps preserve the carbonation.
Yes, I drink my cider out of a Champagne flute. It’s that good. Plus the shape of the glass helps preserve the carbonation.

That’s right, kids: This week’s Vegan Friday project is booze.

This is not a quick recipe. It’s not terribly labor-intensive (you’re looking at maybe 30 minutes of actual work), but it’s done in three steps, and you have to wait two weeks between each step, so if you’re looking for instant gratification, this isn’t the project for you. Details below the fold.

Continue reading Vegan Friday: Hard cider

Vegan Friday: Gumbo

Gumbo is one of those recipes with endless variations. But to make a respectable gumbo, you absolutely must use the following:

1. Roux (flour browned in oil or butter)
2. Okra
3. File (powdered sassafras leaves)
4. Holy Trinity (sauteed celery, onions and bell peppers)
5. Cayenne

The best gumbo also contains shrimp and Andouille sausage, but this vegan variant isn’t bad. I used frozen and canned ingredients, but as always, fresh is better if you have time to mess with it. Don’t let the ingredients list scare you off; it looks long, but a lot of it is stuff you have on hand.

Ingredients
1 1/2 c. frozen celery, onion and pepper mix
1 c. tricolor pepper mix
Olive oil
Flour
1 can diced tomatoes
Water
1 cube veggie bouillon
1 tsp. file
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. Jane’s Crazy Mixed-Up Pepper (OK to substitute coarse black pepper)
Cayenne to taste
2 tsp. salt OR 1 tsp. salt + 1 tsp. smoked salt
Pinch of ground chipotle
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag frozen cut okra
1 1/2 c. frozen zucchini (optional)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 bay leaves

Saute the first two ingredients in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until onions are clear.

I've seen gumbo recipes that left out the celery. These were created by Communists, obviously.
I’ve seen gumbo recipes that left out the celery. These recipes were created by fascists, obviously.

While vegetables cook, put about two tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan and add enough flour to make a dryish paste. Heat, stirring frequently, until browned. This is your roux. It is absolutely essential to a decent gumbo.

I've also seen recipes that left out the file. These recipes were created by al-Qaeda operatives.
I’ve also seen recipes that left out the file. These recipes were created by al-Qaeda operatives.

Dump tomatoes into Crock-Pot. Whisk in the roux. Add two cans of water, whisking between each addition. Whisk in file, paprika, thyme, pepper, cayenne, salt and chipotle. (Chipotle isn’t traditional, but it adds a smoky note you really need if you aren’t using sausage.)

Gumbo before it cooks. The finished product won't be this colorful, but it will taste magnificent.
Gumbo before it cooks. The finished product won’t be this colorful, but it will taste magnificent.

Sitr in remaining ingredients except bay leaves. Add bay leaves last, turn Crock-Pot to high and ignore for four hours (or turn Crock-Pot on low and cook overnight or while you’re at work). If your finished gumbo seems too thin, add a little more roux.

Remove bay leaves and serve over rice or couscous.

Emily

Vegan Friday: Buffalo cauliflower monstrosity

I don’t have a recipe for you this week, because I don’t want to subject you to the horror that was yesterday evening’s dinner.

I had some good ideas for dinner last night, but I didn’t have the ingredients on hand for any of them, so I went rifling through the PETA website and came up with a monstrosity called “Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings.”

Trust me: They look way better than they taste.
These look OK, but trust me: They’re as awful as they sound. Kind of like chocolate-chip hummus or black-bean brownies.

I’d seen that recipe several times on Pinterest, and I kept passing it up on the grounds that it sounded like something you’d take to an office potluck. If you wanted to make sure your office never, ever had a potluck again.

I tried it last night.

I am not posting a recipe.

Because it tastes like something you’d take to an office potluck. If you wanted to make sure your office never, ever had a potluck again.

Emily

Vegan Friday: Stuffed peppers

pepper4

This recipe takes a few extra minutes because of the baking time, but it’s easy to assemble in advance and keep in the fridge or freezer for later. I’d initially planned to make these with red beans and Cajun seasoning, but I grabbed the wrong can of beans and didn’t realize it until I’d opened it, so I just switched to Mexican spices and called it good.

Ingredients:
Four bell peppers
Small onion, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
Can of tomatoes
Can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Taco seasoning (I use homemade)
About 1/2 c. whole-wheat couscous

Preheat oven to 350.

pepper1

Cut tops off peppers and remove cores.

pepper2

Chop up tops and saute with onion in olive oil until onion is clear. Add tomatoes, pinto beans and seasoning and bring to a boil.

Stir in couscous, turn off heat, and let couscous absorb liquid.

pepper3

Fill peppers with couscous-bean-tomato mixture and bake in a covered dish for about 20 minutes until pepper starts to soften.

Serve with hot sauce and salt. (Non-vegans can add a handful of shredded cheese to the top of each pepper halfway through the baking time if desired.)

Makes 4 servings, obviously.

Emily

Vegan Friday: Sushi

Contrary to popular belief, it is entirely possible to make vegetarian sushi. That’s because — also contrary to popular belief — the word sushi refers to the rice preparation technique, not the other ingredients. Pieces of raw tuna or salmon artfully arranged on a plate are delicious, but they are not sushi. They are sashimi. If you don’t have rice flavored with rice vinegar, you don’t have sushi.

With that in mind, here’s how to make a fantastic lunch.

Ingredients
1 1/2 c. sushi rice, cooked
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
3 nori sheets, toasted (available from the health-food store; do yourself a favor and buy the pre-toasted kind so you don’t have to toast it yourself)
Mild-flavored vegetables such as avocado, cucumber or carrots
Soy sauce
Pickled ginger
Wasabi

You’ll also need a sushi mat, available for about $5 at most health-food stores and Asian groceries. (Aluminum foil will work in a pinch, but I don’t recommend it, especially if you’re not used to working with sushi.)

Stir the sugar and vinegar into the rice and refrigerate it for an hour or so.  If you’re not great at making rice, get yourself an automatic rice cooker; they cost about $20 at most big retailers and will save you a lot of time and effort.

After the rice cools, cut your vegetables into thin strips.

Lay a toasted nori sheet on the sushi mat. Place about a third of the rice on the end of the sheet closest to you and use the back of a spoon to spread it to about 1/2 inch thick.

Avocado is my favorite filling, but cucumbers, carrots and other vegetables also work well.
Avocado is my favorite filling, but cucumbers, carrots and other vegetables also work well.

Make an indentation in the middle of the rice and lay vegetable strips in the indentation.

Use the mat to help you form the sushi into a tight roll.
Use the mat to help you form the sushi into a tight roll.

Starting with the side closest to you, roll the nori sheet up around the filling as tightly as possible, rolling the mat with it as needed to keep everything together.

The roll should look something like this.
The roll should look something like this.

Unroll the mat. Dip your fingers in a bowl of water and use them to moisten the loose edge of the nori, smoothing it down against the roll.

Dip your fingers in a bowl of water and run them along the loose end of the nori to seal it, smoothing it down as you go.
Dip your fingers in a bowl of water and run them along the loose end of the nori to seal it, smoothing it down as you go.

Using a very sharp knife, cut the roll into slices.

Arrange the slices on a plate. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. (Pickled ginger and wasabi both should be available from most grocery stores.)

Makes three rolls.

Vegan Friday: Mushroom bisque

Protip: If you’re considering going vegetarian, go buy yourself a copy of Mollie Katzen’s The Moosewood Cookbook. Like now. I’ll wait. If you don’t have a good bookstore in your town, here’s an Amazon link to buy the newest edition.

I’ve been using The Moosewood Cookbook for at least 20 years, and it’s never, ever steered me wrong. I think I have the 2000 edition, which was an update on the original that dropped the fat content of some recipes.

One of those recipes was for mushroom bisque, which I riffed on the other day, adjusting based on the ingredients I had on hand and veganizing as needed. This is one of those recipes that tastes so rich and creamy, no one will know it’s vegan unless you tell. Ron, who generally hates cream soups, liked it enough that he said it should go into the regular dinner rotation. That’s high praise coming from him, although he might have been influenced a wee bit by the fact that it was 19 degrees out the night I made it.

Anyway. The recipe:

Ingredients:
2 potatoes, diced
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 smallish onions, chopped
1-2 celery stalks, chopped
1 lb. mushrooms (or more if you have them on hand)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
Pinch of ground thyme
3 tbsp. red wine
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 c. soymilk
Scallions and/or parsley for garnish (optional)

Katzen says to peel the potatoes, but I like to leave the skins on when I make potato soup, so I left 'em on here, too, and it worked fine.
Katzen says to peel the potatoes, but I like to leave the skins on when I make potato soup, so I left ’em on here, too, and it worked fine.

Cover potatoes with water and boil until tender (about 15-20 min.)

It's OK if the onions and mushrooms start to brown a little bit as they cook. Desirable, in fact.
It’s OK if the onions and mushrooms start to brown a little bit as they cook. Desirable, in fact.

While potatoes cook, saute onions and celery in olive oil until onions are clear. Add mushrooms and saute until they release their liquid. Remove from heat and add garlic, thyme, wine and soy sauce.

Pour the soymilk into the potatoes, dump in the mushroom mixture, and puree. (If you have a stick blender, it comes in really handy for this.)

Bring to a boil over low heat and serve immediately. Makes about three big bowls.

Emily