Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sesame Roasted Cauliflower with Sriracha-Vegenaise Dressing

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Makes 2 servings
Total time: 1 hour

Is cauliflower the new kale? It seems to be popping up everywhere lately. I've seen it roasted alongside farro, mashed up like potatoes, tempura battered and fried and ground up and used in pizza crusts. Since I haven't ever really prepared cauliflower before, I decided to do a simple slice and roast in a cast iron pan with some toasted sesame oil. The taste and texture here was delicious: it was perfectly crispy and caramelized around the edges and soft yet toothsome towards the center. I decided to top it off here with some sriracha-Vegenaise dressing, but it can also be served plain with the toasted sesame oil it's been roasted in.

2 large pieces of 1-inch thick cauliflower slices
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper
2-3 TB Vegenaise
2-3 TB sriracha, to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

Make your cauliflower slices by removing the green leaves and most of the stem from the base. Leave some of the stem intact so the cauliflower doesn't fall apart. Then, place the cauliflower, stem side down, and slice into the center with a large knife. Slice again on either side to create two flat pieces. Rinse and pat to dry. Reserve the small and broken florets for using later.

Place 1 tsp of sesame oil into the bottom of a cast iron pan. Place the cauliflower pieces into the pan, then drizzle the remaining 1 tsp of sesame oil over the cauliflower. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Place into the oven to roast for 20-25 minutes, checking after 20 minutes. Once it is nicely browned around the edges, carefully flip the pieces over and roast for 20 to 25 minutes more. It's done when the edges are all perfectly crisp.

Whisk the Vegenaise and sriracha together, adjusting the heat level to your taste. Drizzle over the cauliflower and serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Vida Vegan Con 2013 Recap

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When I first went vegan several years ago, I had never spoken to or even knew another vegan. But once I began to blog in 2011, I slowly began connecting with other like-minded bloggers who were passionate about what they believed in, loved making vegan food and all had similar thoughts and opinions about it. It was kind of exciting to become a part of this community, even though it was only in a purely virtual way. 

However, when I recently attended Vida Vegan Con a few days ago, I had the chance to literally meet so many of these bloggers and cookbook authors whose work I have really connected with and truly admired over the past few years. Needless to say, it was an exciting three days, packed with handshakes and hugs, information and discussion—and a ridiculous amount of amazingly tasty vegan food.

On Day One, I got to attend a session led by Hannah Kaminsky, who discussed the basic principles of food styling, and watched her turn an ugly takeout box of pad thai into a beautifully styled work of art. Food styling is a pretty solitary experience, so seeing someone else's techniques in action from start to finish was fun! 

From there, I proceeded to attend another session led by Isa Chandra Moskowitz on iPhone Food Photography. I don't even have an iPhone, but I wanted to be in a class taught by my cooking idol, so loved every minute of it. Every word that comes out of Isa's mouth is hysterical, and the class has made me want to ditch my Android for an iPhone and learn about this thing called "Instagram."

Next, I attended a session moderated by Grant Butler of The Oregonian's Foodday section, where seasoned cookbook authors Nava Atlas, Dreena Burton and Terry Hope Romero discussed the art of writing recipes, how to engage an online audience and the ways that blog and cookbook writing differ. Useful and practical information from people who know the subject best!

On Day Two, I attended a session called "Ethics Beyond the Plate," moderated by Jason Das of SuperVegan, where Jezebel, Vegansaurus and VegNews writer Laura Beck, Leigh-Chantelle of Viva La Vegan!Jamie J. Hagen, Erika Larson of Sews Before Bros and John McDevitt of The Laziest Vegans in the World all discussed the ethical side of veganism, and how food choices, environmental concerns and human rights all intersect—and how to make the right choices when the "right" choice isn't always so obvious or black and white.

We then proceeded to a Vegan Battle Royale and lunch, enthusiastically and superbly hosted by Amey, Kittee and Mo—I think at least a thousand prizes were given out for correctly answered trivia questions, taste tests and more! I never went up on stage, but still had a blast watching everyone else. 

With a full belly, I went to a writing workshop taught by Isa, where she showed the group ways to get a blog post started, how to connect with readers and just simply enjoy the process of writing. I will definitely use some of the techniques I learned for future blog posts!

We ended the day with a session taught by Cadry of Cadry's Kitchen, where she explained how  to integrate our own unique voice and style into our blog. I loved Cadry's message, which was that you don't need to be perfect in blogging—just relateable and creative—and the rest will follow! I especially love Cadry's videos ...  view them here!

On Day Three, Nava Atlas, Joni Marie Newman of Just the Food and Ryan Patey of T.O.F.U. Magazine all discussed ways that they made the transition from blog to book, tips on what to do and advice for those who choose to follow this path. 

I then went to a session taught by Terry Hope Romero on recipe creation and testing. Terry has 8+ years of experience in the cookbook business, and knowledgeably and generously shared with the audience what she's learned along the way. 

Our last session was taught by Kelly Peloza on artful food photography. I found her explanations of lighting and styling to be quite clear and, although I don't shoot the photographs you see on this blog, found it to be inspiring and helpful.  

In between these sessions, I had a blast with so many fellow bloggers at the White Owl Social Club, Blossoming Lotus, Veggie Grill and Staver Locomotive, where the Vida Vegan Con Galarama for the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest was held. I already can't wait for the next VVC!

I tried to connect online with everyone new that I met but, in case we missed each other, you can connect with me on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, bloglovin' and tumblr. Or send me an email at erinwyso [at] olivesfordinner [dot] com!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Red Quinoa and Sweet Potato Croquettes

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Makes 12-14 croquettes
active time: 45 minutes
passive time: 2 hours, to overnight, to chill the croquette mixture

These croquettes are fun and easy to make, smell amazing while being prepped, and look really pretty once plated. To make these, sweet potatoes are mashed and combined with fluffy red quinoa, then binded together with panko crumbs and a touch of peanut butter, while everything is nicely balanced out with a touch of sambal oelek. Once the croquettes are browned, they can then be dragged through this rich and creamy coconut-tomato sauce, which has been kissed with a dash of cinnamon and garam masala to create a subtly spiced and beautifully fragrant dish. 

for the croquettes
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup red quinoa, rinsed a few times
1 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1 large sweet potato, cubed*)
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 TB natural peanut butter (preferrably chunky)
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1 TB sambal oelek (optional), or more to taste 

for the sauce
1 TB canola oil
1 cup shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp salt
2 TB wine or broth
2 TB tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 can full-fat coconut milk (13.66 oz)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the sweet potato cubes and boil, uncovered, while you prepare the quinoa.

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a small boil. Reduce the heat to low, add in the quinoa, cover, and allow to remain at a low simmer for 15 minutes without removing the lid during the cooking time. Remove from the heat but leave it covered for an additional 5 to 7 minutes.

By now, your sweet potatoes should be done and they should mash easily against the side of the pan with a fork. Drain, return them to the pan, and mash them up with a potato masher.

In a large bowl, combine the hot sweet potato and quinoa. Stir well to combine, then add in the rest of the croquette ingredients, adding 1 TB of sambal at a time and tasting it, adding more as you like. Cover and place the mixture into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

To make your sauce, heat the canola oil over medium-low heat. Add in the shallots and allow to sweat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent browning. Add in the garlic and ginger, stir and allow to saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in the cinnamon, garam masala and salt, then stir and increase the heat to medium. After 1-2 minutes, add in the wine or broth to deglaze the pan. Reduce the heat to low, then add in the tomato paste, fold in the parsley and add in the coconut milk. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To make the croquettes, roll them into golfball-sized spheres, then flatten them a bit between your palms. Lightly grease a flat-bottomed saute pan over medium heat. Fry the croquettes until golden brown on each side.

Serve immediately with the warmed sauce.

*If you have any leftover mashed sweet potatoes, this recipe is a nice way to use them up!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Whole Grain Vegan Baking: Review and Giveaway! [CLOSED]

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I don't venture into baking and dessert making that often, but when I received a copy of Whole Grain Vegan Baking by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes to review on the blog, it served as a good reminder that I should change that. After initially flipping through WGVB, I instantly spotted their trademark style of approachable recipes written in a clear, engaging and fun way and, after a more thorough read, was inspired to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty with the array of whole grains utilized throughout the book.

When Celine and Tami get together to write a cookbook, it's a given that the recipes are going to be amazing, easy and fun to make, and look dynamite on a plate. One of the first things I noticed in the book was the most obvious— Celine's amazing photographs (about 45 of them)—which are all breathtaking, inspiring and showcase her rustic-yet-sophisticated style of photography.

The next thing I was drawn to was the clear explanation of baking methods, flours and specific ingredients. Tami and Celine know their stuff, and clearly and generously want you to know about their stuff. So in addition to getting more than 100 recipes from breakfast to brunch, loaves and muffins, yeasted breads, "smarter" snacks and wholesome desserts to choose from, you'll also get a complete rundown and description the whole grain flours used in the book, as well as several baking tips and tricks. 

Because this book has already been so valuable to me in the short amount of time I've had it, I am excited that the publisher is offering a free copy of the book to one lucky reader through this blog post! To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below, indicating your:

  • favorite dessert or bread and/or
  • your favorite whole grain that you like to bake with.

Be sure to leave your email or some way to contact you in your comment in case you are chosen as the giveaway winner. 
Shipping is restricted to US and Canada only, and the winner will be announced on May 29 (I'll use to pick the winner) ... good luck! 

UPDATE: The winner of the giveaway is Angry Asian, over at morestomach -- congrats!

Tami and Celine have also generously agreed to share a recipe—their Chocolate Raspberry Tart—from Whole Grain Vegan Baking here. I absolutely loved making this dessert, which looked lovely and tasted rich and decadent without being too overly sweet or heavy. From here, I plan to move on to making more of their other amazing recipes, starting with:  

  • Puttanesca Scones with Barley and Spelt
  • Chickpea Rabe Calzoni
  • Pull-Apart Cinnamon Bread
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Focaccia
  • Pesto Knots
  • Whole Wheat Almond Plum Crostatas
Chocolate Raspberry Tart
Published by Fair Winds Press, 2013

Rich and creamy, this decadent tart could be served in a five-star vegan restaurant. With only 1/2 teaspoon oil per serving, this raspberry chocolate explosion lets you pamper yourself and your family without the guilt.

For Crust:
Nonstick cooking spray
40 g (1/2 cup) quick-cooking oats
60 g (1/2 cup) whole wheat pastry flour
10 g (2 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules
2 tablespoons (30 ml) pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon (15 ml) neutral-flavored oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) water, more if needed

For Filling and Topping:
105 g (3/4 cup) cashews, soaked in cold water for 3 hours, drained, and patted dry
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) vegan creamer, preferably Silk or MimicCreme brand
20 g (1/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
60 g (3 tablespoons) all-fruit raspberry jam
2 tablespoons (30 ml) pure maple syrup
190 g (1 1/2 cups) fresh raspberries

To Make the Crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Lightly coat a 6 1/2-inch (16 cm) tart pan with cooking spray. Combine the oats, flour, cocoa, and espresso granules in a small bowl. Stir in the syrup, oil, and water. The mixture will be sticky and should hold its shape when pressed together. If not, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it does. Press the mixture evenly onto the sides and bottom of the tart pan. Dampening your hands with water may help reduce some of the sticking. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet. Bake the crust for 7 to 8 minutes, until the edges start to look dry. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour, or until completely cool.

To Make the Filling: Combine the cashews, creamer, cocoa, jam, and maple syrup in a blender. Process until completely smooth. Spread the filling evenly in the prepared tart shell. Top with the raspberries, beginning at the outer edge of the tart and working in circles toward the center. Chill for 3 hours before serving.

Yield: One 6 1/2-inch (16 cm) tart

Recipe Note
This recipe can also be made in three 4-inch (10 cm) tart pans. You may have a small amount of filling left over; it can be chilled and eaten as mousse.

For more delicious Whole Grain Vegan Baking recipes, reviews or additional chances to win a copy of the book, be sure to check out these other fabulous bloggers who will be hosting them throughout this month!

May 14: Weekly Vegan Menu      
May 16: Vegan Eats and Treats
May 17: Three and a Half Vegans
May 18: Seitan is My Motor
May 19: My Zoetrope
May 20: Get Sconed!
May 21: Year of the Vegan 
May 22: Little Foxes
May 23: Vegan Feast Kitchen
May 24: Vegan Cookbook Aficionado 
May 25: Julie’s Kitchenette
May 26: Vegan Cookbooks Illustrated   
May 27: Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk! 
May 28: Urban Vegan   

Friday, May 3, 2013

Buffalo Chickpea Soft Tacos with Avocado Sour Cream

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I've drenched tofu and soy curls in sriracha and Earth Balance before, and decided I'd try it again this past week but with chickpeas instead. So they went straight into a crockpot to baste in some buffalo sauce and a few other ingredients for a few hours, while I mashed together  fresh avocado with some vegan sour cream to serve on the side. This tasted fantastic right out of the crockpot inside a soft tortilla, but was even better the next day served as leftovers, once all of the filling ingredients had a chance to mingle just a bit more.

Makes 2-3 servings
total active time: 15-20 minutes
total passive time: 4 hours, for the chickpeas to baste


for the filling
1 can chickpeas (15 oz.), rinsed
1/4 cup sriracha
1 TB Earth Balance
small onion, chopped
1 TB toasted sesame oil
1 TB minced garlic
1/2 cup vegetable broth

for the avocado sour cream
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup Tofutti sour cream
1 TB rice vinegar
salt, to taste

for serving
flat leaf parsley, chopped
spring onions, chopped
thai chilis, chopped (optional)

Place all of the filling ingredients into a crockpot. Place on the low heat setting for about 3 hours, then increase the heat to high for one more hour.

To make the avocado sour cream, mash the avocado until smooth, then stir in the vegan sour cream, vinegar and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to serve, place a bamboo steamer into a large skillet. Add a few inches of water into the bottom (make sure it isn't touching the bottom of the steamer basket. Place tortillas into the basket, one at a time, cover, and allow to steam for a few minutes, or until softened. 

Stir in the fresh parsley, spring onions and thai chilis into the chickpea filling before adding them into the tortillas. Serve immediately with the chilled avocado sour cream.