Monday, June 30, 2008

Veganizing Ray Ray

I happened to have the TV turned on as I was on the computer the other day, and Rachel Ray was making something that looked like it would be really good if only there wasn't chicken in it..........
love you, Ray Ray, even if you don't like tofu.

Roast Tofu with Lemon Sage Gravy

1 lb. tofu, pressed

2 T soy sauce


1-2 T nutritional yeast

1 T water

1 1/2 lemons, sliced

1 c green olives, pitted

10 bay leaves

1 large onion, sliced crosswise and then into wedges

Preheat oven to 450. Spray a large cast iron pan with oil (don't have a cast iron pan? Go get one - they are really cheap and they actually brown the tofu in the oven). Slice tofu crosswise into 8 slices, then cut slices in half to make 16 squares. Mix soy sauce, EVOO, yeast, and water. Dip tofu pieces (both sides) in the mixture and put in the pan. Top with sliced lemons, olives, and bay leaves. Roast for ten minutes. Remove from oven and spoon remaining soy sauce mixture over tofu. You can flip the slices to help them brown on both sides if you want, but it's not really necessary. If you do, don't let the other stuff drop to the bottom of the pan or it will burn. Roast for 10-15 minutes more. Make some mashed potatoes while the tofu is roasting.


2 T Earth Balance
2 T flour
1 T nutritional yeast
1 T soy sauce
1/2 t sage
1 1/2 c water
juice of 1/2 lemon

Melt Earth Balance and whisk in flour. Cook for a few minutes, then add yeast, soy sauce, sage and water. Simmer until thickened, then add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over tofu and potatoes.

Dare I say Yum-o? This is also great cold the next day!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yummy Treats

The end of the school year brings lots of opportunities for treats - year-end parties, girl scout parties, birthday parties, etc., etc. They taste great but I am compelled to eat the leftovers! The kids sure enjoy them because it is rare for us to have junk food in the house. They get so much on the outside that I don't want to keep anything in the house. This is a help for me, too, as I am definitely a sugar addict.

Anyway, at least what I make from scratch, while not exactly healthy, is not filled with trans fat and chemicals. And, (I'm repeating myself, I know) they sure taste great!

The cookies are the Chewy Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies from Veganomicon.This is the second time I have made them and they are really yummy. They are indeed chewy, especially the next day. I really like them slightly warm - I think I will experiment with making the dough the day before and then baking them right before dessert.

The cupcakes are from The Joy of Vegan Baking (vanilla and chocolate cupcakes). They were good, but I wouldn't say great. The vanilla had a lovely texture - very light and tender. The taste was pretty good, although maybe a vanilla fan would say great. The chocolate were a little dry, and they collapsed a little in the middle when cooling (they were definitely cooked through). The collapsing is not necessarily bad, though, as then they hold more frosting! They had a mild chocolate flavor. The vanilla were actually good enough without frosting, while the chocolate were saved by the frosting.

Here is the delicious frosting recipe, veganized from the recipe on the sugar box. Iv'e noticed in some of the baking books that recipes for frosting contain twice the amount of fat as this one does (with the same amounts of sugar and other ingredients). I haven't made any of those recipes, because this one is so good.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
  • 1/4 c Earth Balance, softened
  • 8 oz. confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder
  • 3-4 T soymilk
  • 1/2 t vanilla

Beat all together with a mixer until smooth. Frosts 1 9 inch layer or 12 cupcakes.
For vanilla frosting: omit cocoa powder and use 3 T soymilk. For lemon frosting: omit cocoa powder and use 3 T lemon juice instead of soymilk (adding some lemon zest is also nice).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Strawberry Heaven!

Is there anything better than local strawberries in season? As we all know, commercial strawberries are number 1 on the pesticide list. I really believe I can taste the pesticides on those - the organic ones are so much better. An article in our local paper talked about how the local berries are grown with few chemicals, because their season is so short and they aren't shipped. These beauties were grown a few miles from my house right here in LI suburbia, by a nice old Italian gentleman. And, he gave my daughters these gorgeous hydrangeas.

I have a weakness for old Italian men, seeing as my grandpa was one. I can remember all the veggies he grew in his huge garden in his tiny backyard. Strange, foreign (to me) things that he and my grandma ate, like dandelion greens and some other huge green leaves (collards? - I was so little I can't remember). These were totally unknown to me in my house, where veggies came in little frozen blocks (at least not canned!)

The other photo is Vegan Express's Seitan and Mushrooms in Paprika Cream. This was pretty good for seitan, which somehow always tastes like cardboard to me. I keep trying different recipes, determined to like this high protein source. This one had a nice flavorful sauce. I used Trader Joe's Beefless Stir Fry strips. They had an excellent texture like shredded meat, but not too meatlike. I don't know how this would work in an actual stir fry but it was nice in this dish. I served it over pasta with some sauteed garlic spinach (also from my Italian friend - a huge bunch of nice local spinach for $2!)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hi, everyone! I have been a reader of all your blogs for so long that I'm inspired to start my own. I hope to share some great food, and find community with other vegans.
I've been vegetarian for years, and trying veganism for a while. Your blogs have been a great help with recipes and just inspiring the urge to cook! I am not a perfect vegan, but cook vegan at home (hence the title) and am mostly vegan on the outside (i.e. I will order what appears to be vegan food at a restaurant but may not go all out to certify that every ingredient is vegan). I realize this may seem like my values are compromised to some, but it is my way of functioning in the very non-vegan world that we live in. And also to keep some peace living with a carnivore. It's not fun always being at odds with the one you love.

Although I have been wavering for a while between vegan and non, I realized one day while eating a (dairy) cheese pizza that it was so terribly nasty, heavy, and greasy, while I had really enjoyed the previous night's broiled tofu with pesto sauce. This was a big switch for me, because in previous attempts to go vegan, one of my issues was that I was constantly hungry. Now I am finding that that fullness was unpleasant, and instead crave that lighter feeling I get with my vegan meals. So, it's better to have a piece of fruit (or chocolate cookie) later on than to feel stuffed after a meal!

So, the meal that inspired my vegan transformation is from Veganomicon. It is the Basic Broiled Tofu and Sweet Basil Pesto Tapenade. These recipes are both genius. Most baked tofu recipes that I have made never have the right texture - they get hot but never crispy, or flavorful, unless they are sliced really thin, and that is not always the shape I am going for. This recipe addresses that. The flavor is great and the texture is right on, even though the pieces are big. I used the cast iron pan as recommended, and it worked very well. The pesto is great, too - really different edge with the lemon and maple syrup. I have always preferred vegan pesto to the kind with cheese, and this one is over the top. Give it a try!