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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 15: Hold the Onions

Today we’re adhering to the dietary restriction of our choosing, so I’m going with something I’ve encountered a few times: no onions! This is a simple pile of roasted veggies – Brussels sprouts, red potatoes, corn on the cob, chickpeas – with quickie tzatziki (Kite Hill Greek yogurt + shredded cucumber + lemon juice) and a sauce that’s new to me: zhoug. We saw it at trader Joe’s, but this is homemade. It’s pretty simple! Cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, cardamom, olive oil. Delish.

Some folks I’ve met who eschew onions also don’t go for *any* alliums, including garlic, which would make the zhoug a no-go, but surely an alternative could be found…

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 14: Skip the Salt, Please

For today’s prompt, I made one of my go-to dinners, just… Without adding any salt.

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Components:

  • Quinoa (steamed; no salt)
  • Tofu (baked with olive oil and liquid smoke)
  • Kale (steamed; no salt)
  • Tahini sauce (tahini (low sodium) hot sauce (low sodium), garlic, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast)

Easy and more or less just as flavorful without the salt I usually add (to the kale and tofu). Nooch hits that spot for me oftentimes, so it might be a handy alternative to salt for seasoning.

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 13: Who Needs Energy Bars?

I can make my own energy balls with pantry staples using the food processor. And look, ma, no waste!

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I’m starting a new gig this week, and Minimalist Baker’s peanut butter cup energy balls are a perfect afternoon snack. Only five ingredients: dates, chocolate, peanut butter, chia seeds, and rolled oats. Lovely.

Also, pretty flexible! I was running low on dates, so I amped up the peanut butter, chocolate, and oats a bit and achieved the same texture.

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 12: What’s Spicy Without Capsaicin?

Ginger! It’s warm, sharp, tangy, and yet seldom burns the tongue and isn’t likely to inflame any pepper allergies. So! I made carrot-ginger-chia dressing (Salad Samurai recipe) to drench my lunch in. Mmm.

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It turned out a burnt orange shade because I used a purple carrot and a red onion – it’s what I had! Still good though.

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 11: Fruit is Nature’s Dessert, or Something

Oh boy, it’s sugar-free (or no added sugar) day. I don’t have any sugar subs (unless you count dates?) and don’t believe the hype about “alternative” sugars that still contain calories. Look. I’m not a nutrition expert by any stretch, and I don’t wish to promote any kind of problematic health food/diet crap, but I’m pretty sure that sugar is sugar, more or less. So I wanted to keep this pretty straightforward and just bake fruit.

A lot of folks might go with dates and/or bananas. I don’t care for bananas and I usually use dates in a raw application, so I wanted to bake a whole fruit that I liked to eat on its own merits. And what I had was a very ripe nectarines.

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Usually a baked fruit recipe will call for sugar, and I think it helps break down the fruit and release juices, but it isn’t absolutely necessary, especially starting with a very sweet fruit. So I simply topped it with a little bit of sea salt (to help with that chemical reaction), a drizzle of coconut oil, and a pinch of cinnamon to trick the palate into tasting “sweet.”

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Baked at 350°F for 30 minutes, after which it is tender and juicy and a little bit browned.

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I enjoyed it with a dollop of unsweetened plain Greek-style almond yogurt for a lovely creaminess. It’s definitely sweet, but not too heavy or cloying, plus it required almost no actually effort. No mixing bowl! Practically no measuring! Easy!

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 10: … For a Friend

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This week there’s a bunch of baking themes among the prompts, and that’s more than I can justify for just myself, so today I opted to revisit my attempt at gluten-free baking from last summer. They were a thank-you for a friend who fed the rabbits while K and I went on a weeklong road trip, and I’m told their intended target enjoyed them. They’re chocolate chip cookies with almond and shredded coconut based on a Minimalist Baker recipe.

I don’t keep “GF flours” on hand enough to bake this way often, but it’s nice to know the options exist.

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 9: What’s Creamy Without Cream?

While it’s my understanding that many nut-allergic folks can eat seeds, which might make sunflower seeds and sesame tahini fair game–not to mention coconut, which is classified as a tree nut by the US government despite being botanically quite different–I’d like to meet this particular challenge by avoiding that altogether. With rice.

Creamy rice dishes don’t require actual cream, just a different cooking technique (and, to a certain degree, the right kind of rice). Risotto, traditionally made with arborio rice, is simmered and stirred while liquid is added a little bit at a time; the grains release starch into the liquid as they cook, and the whole thing comes out creamy without anything even pretending to be dairy.

Wanting to try a different recipe, I consulted my mountain of cookbooks and landed on the one in the Crossroads cookbook with leeks, cherry tomatoes, and corn. Well, and it’s supposed to have a cashew cream, which I omitted. And the choice of cooking fats is a sensitive one when it comes to allergies, so choose wisely. I used coconut and olive oil.

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I also made my own stock with the scraps from the leeks and corn cobs, though I am not sure how much it really added to the end result, since I didn’t simmer it terribly long (about an hour).

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The end result was rich and creamy without any cream, plus it used some super seasonal produce from the market! Colorful, too. I made a meal of it with some wilted kale and baked tofu (made with a spicy seasoning salt a friend brought me from Hawaii). Delicious.

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 8: If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Learning to make bread is, by all accounts, a lifetime pursuit, and I’m not nearly dedicated enough to aim for greatness.

But I can aim to improve over time.

So this is my attempt to make baguettes. I think I’ve made them… 3 or 4 times before? And they usually turned out kind of awkwardly shaped and pale colored, but decently baked on the inside.

Today’s batch was an improvement. Still far from the standard, but better.

The slashes didn’t spread except in a couple places, but the seams on the side sure did. The crust didn’t brown as much as I hoped, but it did get a halfway decent crunch. I used sourdough in the poolish but there wasn’t much tang in the end result. Plus I did manage to split the dough into precisely measures thirds and it was a consistency that was easy to work with for all the stretches and folds.

Dividing up the dough

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Folding into loaves

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Rolled into batons for a final proof

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Baking…imperfectly

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Final result

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Inside shot (yum)

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 7: Accidentally Purple

I love purple food, and it would be easy to make a SUPER PURPLE dinner with deliberately chosen purple veggies and “black” grains and beans that would blend in well in a photo.

That is not what I am sharing today.

Today I made dinner that turned out purple without entirely meaning to.

I made a lentil soup from Decolonize Your Diet. It calls for chard and carrot. The only carrot I had was a purple one. Between that and the rich red of the chard stems, the broth was a rich shade of plum.

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It is a very, very nice soup.

To go with that, I made pan-fried squash blossoms stuffed with a quickie almond flour ricotta (1 cup almond flour [not meal], juice of 1 lemon, pinch salt, ~⅓ cup water, mixed in a little at a time to desired consistency) and crusted with corn masa – you guessed it, I used a little blue corn masa. Which looks purple.

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I mean, less so after you’ve fried it, but you get it.

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 6: Eat My Vegan Food, Don’t Eat It; See How Many Fucks I Give

I refuse to pander to your lack of creativity, sir. I’m just gonna make some shit *I* like.

Tacos are a good bet, though. I’m not aiming to “convince” anyone, but who doesn’t like a taco? Cheese and meat are not necessities. Spice, texture, and a range of flavors are all that’s required. I’ve made my share of tempeh “chorizo” tacos for satisfied relatives, but tonight I felt like using some nice market-fresh mushrooms (trumpet and shiitake).

  • Filling: Chipotle mushrooms with red onion and pinto beans, made using homemade chipotles in adobo (based on a recipe from Isa Does It)
  • Toppings: Lime-juice marinated shredded cabbage, avocado, and tomato-mango salsa (mmm)
  • Tortillas: Homemade yellow corn

Some of my relatives wouldn’t eat this, but that’s primarily because some of my relatives are fungiphobes. That’s OK. I’d make ‘em something else. They usually like my food, and they aren’t vegan.

You can’t convince someone to give up animal products entirely based on a single meal. The meal can, at best, show them plants in a new light. Show them what’s possible. But change must come from within.

Just don’t fucking talk to me about bacon.

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 5: Finding New Inspiration in Old Faves

I mentioned in my Day 1 post that I’m inspired by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I’ve cooked out of her books a lot, and there are plenty of recipes I’ve committed to memory and made my own. So for today’s prompt, how could I not return to that well? But to make things interesting, I wanted to go back and try a recipe I hadn’t yet tried.

Paging through Isa Does It (my copy is signed <3 <3), I landed on the Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings. This is not the kind of thing I usually cook–stew with lots of delicious starches, mmm–so MoFo seemed like as good a time as any!

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So first you make a roux. Then you make a stew (potato, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, dill, thyme). Then you mix up some simple dough and drop that stuff in your stew and let it cook on the stove top. No oven! Weird!

Before:

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After:

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Anyway, pretty satisfying all around, though if I were to make it again, I might add fresh dill in at the end and maybe microplaned a little garlic in with the beans for extra garlicky punch. And possibly include more salt? I should’ve tasted it as I went a little better. I have watched sooo fucking much Top Chef, you guys; underseasoning KILLS.

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 4: Color, Composition, Technique

Today we’re asked how art inspires us in our cooking. I hope this doesn’t sound too pretentious, but cooking is–at least sometimes–my creative outlet, so arguably all my food is art (and would we call that pretentious? or… timeless?).

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But we need inspiration for today. Here’s a lovely chickpea socca, tinted yellow with turmeric, topped with some market-fresh rainbow chard and seasoned with onion, garlic, allspice, cumin, white wine vinegar, dried apricot, and pistachios. There’s texture, color; flavors ranging from earthy to bright. (Recipe from Vegan for Everybody.)

Come with me on a journey, if you will.

You’re on vacation. Or just spending a day off in a city, or a town, or somewhere with a museum or gallery you want to spend a long, leisurely day exploring. At some point, you realize … you’re hungry. You need something simple and pleasant to keep your mood and energy up. You stroll into a cafe and order socca and a coffee and people-watch and chat about what you’ve seen so far and what to look at next.

It’s a good day.