Monday, October 24, 2011

Red Curry Cacophony

My curry craving tonight was fierce. And with a "bare" fridge, the prospects were looking dismal. No  soy sauce, no coconut milk, no sugar, no lime. That pretty much means no curry. But who says I have to follow the curry rules? How many people keep a back-up stock of coconut milk and a constant supply of Kefir lime leaves? How is anyone supposed to make a decent Thai curry on a whim?!

Here's how. You dance to your own tune, you float your own boat, you write your own recipe. Nothing about this is authentic and it won't taste like it came from a food cart right off a beach in Thailand. But oh my sriracha is this deeeeeelish! Sea salt, almond milk, maple syrup and lemon were damn good stand-ins for what an actual Thai recipe might call for, though you can't really call it Thai at this point anymore. As long as you have the curry paste, you can wing it. You just need salty, creamy, sweet and a touch of tart to make the magic happen.

Those close to me know I have a little bit of a thing for peanut butter, and it really (and I mean REALLY) does this dish justice. It was a game changer when I mixed it in last minute, so don't skip. Unless your allergic, in which case I don't know how you eat. Ever. Just kidding. PS: add tofu if you'd like extra protein.

This might not be the prettiest of pictures and it might not be authentic Thai, but your panel of taste buds will be the ultimate judge.

Red Curry Cacophony
Makes: 1 serving
Cook time: 15-20 minutes


Cooking spray
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2-1 T. red curry paste
1/2 medium carrot, thinly sliced
1/4 c. red pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 c. fennel or cabbage, thinly sliced
1 c. cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1/4 c. green peas, from fresh or frozen
1/2 c. almond milk, unsweetened
1/2 tsp. maple syrup (or more to cut spice)
1/2 tsp. lemon juice, freshly sqeezed
1/2-1 tsp. peanut butter
1 tsp. chickpea flour
1/8 tsp. sambal or garlic chili paste (optional)
Salt to taste
1 green onion stalk, sliced


Heat a wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add curry paste plus 2 tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt. Stir in pan until paste is smooth and thin. Add carrot, pepper and fennel/cabbage plus a couple more tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan if it's becoming too dry. Cook until vegetables just start to soften, 2-3 minutes, and increase heat slightly. Add remaining ingredients except for the onion. Be sure to really whisk in the flour and peanut butter so that they coat the veggies. When milk is starting to boil, reduce heat again to medium-high and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.

Adjust seasonings to taste - if too spicy, add a little more maple syrup and/or almond milk. If too sweet, add a touch more lemon juice. If too thin, add a small pinch of chickpea flour. Garnish with sliced green onion and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Sliced Strawberries

Day 12 of Vegan Mofo: This recipes makes me giddy. A veganized version of a lovely favorite. I was stumped as to a good birthday dessert for a very Italian co-worker whose 2 favorite desserts are Tiramisu and Lemon Cake. There are a few vegan Tiramisu recipes out there, but I really wasn't feeling up to that challenge considering I was also making a pasta dish for the potluck (sounds like overkill for a work lunch, but I always need to bring a vegan sweet and savory option for the sheer pleasure of demonstrating how feasible vegan eating is). All tangeants aside, I found a great source of inspiration on Epicurious who has a killer Lemon Buttermilk Cake recipe that is very eaily veganizable.

The crowd's reaction: "This is seriously vegan? Can I please have this recipe?" Yes and yes. The cupcakes turned out incredibly moist for what I think is probably 2 reasons. The applesauce adds a ton of moisture, and the extra tablespoon of cider vinegar makes the batter a little more wet than the original version. Regardless of the real reason, these are fabulous, light and vibrantly flavorful. The cake itself has a very subtle lemon flavor, but the frosting...oh the frosting. It could be eaten (and maybe was eaten) by itself. Tanti auguri e buon appetito!

Lemon Cupcakes with Sliced Strawberries
Makes: 24 cupcakes
Total prep time: 2 hours with cooling

For the Cupcakes
1 1/2 c. almond or soy milk + 1 T. cider vinegar
1 3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. Earth Balance, room temperature
2 T. grated lemon peel
3/4 c. applesauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 c.cake flour (or all purpose)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

For the Frosting
12 oz. Tofutti cream cheese, room temperature
2 T. Earth Balance, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 T. lemon juice
2 tsp finely grated lemon peel

1 pint strawberries, washed and sliced

* For a thicker frosting, use lemonade concentrate (thawed) and decrease the fresh lemon peel.

For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray and flour muffin tins/cupcake pans or spray the lined paper cups.

Whisk vinegar and almond/soy milk together in a small bowl. Set aside to curdle while you prepare the other ingredients. In a separate large bowl, beat the sugar, Earth Balance and lemon peel. Add applesauce and lemon juice and beat until well blended. In a third bowl, sift flour, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet mixture alternately with curdled milk until batter is smooth.
Divide batter among tins or cups. Bake until tester inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks and cool 30-45 minutes.

For the frosting: Beat Tofutti and Earth Balance in large bowl until completely blended. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in lemonade concentrate or lemon juice and lemon peel.

To assemble: Top each cupcake with 1-2 tablespoons of frosting and 2-3 slices of fresh strawberries.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Warm and Creamy Sweet Potato Salad

Day 10 of Vegan Mofo. I guess I owe a bit of a eulogy to days 3 through 9. This thing called life got in the way, but those days did not pass in vain. In fact, the whirling of time right now is what generates the most inspiration. Which is what I absolutely love about this recipe. Even though senor time is totally trying to road block me from taking the time to cook and write most of my recipes down, this particular recipe was too resilient, too easy to make and too flavorful to let chaos keep me from giving it to you. If you're finding yourself rushed through this fall as well, just know that there is always time for a sweet potato.

There are about a million more things I love about this recipe other that it being busy-life proof. 1) I'm a sucker for sweet potato in any way shape or form. 2) Avocado for me is the equivalent of most people's butter, in fact I even spread it on toast I love it so much. Plus chunks of avocado taste even better than chunks of butter (cue in gag reflex). 3) Tahini dressing...enough said. 4) I hope I don't have to keep persuading you to make this. It's easy and lovely and tasty and you shouldn't have to think twice about a sweet potato.

Summer picnic potato salads are cold and generally appeal to everyone. But who can resist a warm autumnal  potato salad? Not me and not you. To make this super quick on the fly, feel free to microwave (gasp!) the sweet potato to cut down on cooking time. For serving at a dinner party, I'd probably go a little classier and boil the sweet potato. Everything else just falls into place.

Warm & Creamy Sweet Potato Salad
Makes: 3-4 servings
Cook time: 15 minutes


2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and cubed*
1 medium avocado, cubed
2-3 green onion stalks, green and white parts sliced
1/3 c. parsley, chopped

1 1/2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. stone ground or dijon mustard
1 T. tahini
1 tsp. pure maple syrup
Black pepper to taste


Prepare the potatoes by covering with water in a saucepan by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. When done, set aside in a medium mixing bowl and mix in avocado and green onion.

While the potatoes are boiling, make the dressing. Whisk all ingredients together and adjust seasoning to taste. If the dressing is too thick, add a little more cider vinegar. If too tart, add a touch more tahini or maple syrup.

Coat the potato/avocado mixture with dressing and top with fresh parsley. Serve warm.

*If you are opting for the microwave, poke each potato a bunch of times and microwave whole for 5-7 minutes or until tender.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mexican Risotto and Beans

Day 2 of Vegan MOFO: As I expected, coming up with a "recipe" is a little high maintenance every day.  But then again, what I think of as a recipe is really kitchen voodoo to someone else. And what someone else thinks is a recipe, I think is more an assembly. Tomay-to, tomah-to.

Call this a recipe or a matter of assembly, but it's one of my favorite convenience meals especially after a long and late workout when I have little energy to cook. This simply requires having the ingredients on hand rather than carefully crafting them in a cooking-like fashion. In short, the stove does the work for you. You just have to show up with the goods. What I'm calling "risotto" is truly just Mexican rice that comes out looking like Italian risotto because of the broth and nutritional yeast making a saucy, creamy goodness. In fact, this isn't just rice. I mixed quinoa and rice together because that's what I had left over in the fridge and there wasn't enough rice to make a whole serving. The spinach was the last of a bag that didn't have enough to make a salad. Creativity points?

So what perhaps is one of the laziest, unchef-ish meals to come out of this kitchen, is in fact a go-to staple at our residence and one that all kitchens should have on hand just in case. Bring out the can opener, scrounge through your leftover grains and eat like it's sophomore year in college.

Mexican Risotto and Refried Beans
Makes 2-3 servings
Cook time: 5 minutes


3/4 c. cooked rice
3/4 c. cooked quinoa
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne or crushed red pepper
  -- or use 2 tsp of your favorite taco seasoning
Pinch of salt
1/2-3/4 c. vegetable broth, divided
1 1/2 T. nutritional yeast
3/4 c. spinach

1 can refried beans
Fresh tomatoes, diced
Hot sauce


Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cover the bottom with 1/4 cup of broth. When broth is bubbling, add the rice, quinoa and spices (through the salt). Stir to completely coat rice. When liquid has almost evaporated and rice starts to stick to the bottom, pour in another 1/3-1/2 cup of broth, nutritional yeast and spinch. Stir again and cook a minute longer or until some of the liquid has evaporated and the texture becomes creamy.

Meanwhile, heat the beans in a sauce pan over low heat. To serve, plate the beans and risotto together topped with salsa, guac and fresh tomatoes. If you're like me and you like a kick, top it all off with a few shakes of Chalula.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Garlicky Parsnip Equinox Mash

Ok sorry I missed the equinox by a few days... Ah hem, well a week plus some. What is the equinox you ask? It's the transition from summer to fall. A time when all Phoenicians royally curse the summer, because this transition is much more tangible in other climates while we are stuck with an overly exuberant sun that perseveres through October.  The equinox my personal favorite of the seasonal changes. It sports my color wheels and means a whole lot more pumpkin in the kitchen! It also makes me nostalgic for falling leaves and autumn in New York. There is nothing I don't like about fall. Especially in Arizona, as fall does not symbolize the coming of chew-your-arm-off windchill winter. You win some, you lose some.

Ok another apology owed. I also missed the start of Vegan MOFO. What is vegan mofo you ask? It's the vegan month of food! October is world vegetarian month, with October 1st being the World Vegetarian Day and the day I was supposed to start blogging on my 31 day vegan montage (see the official site for more participating blogs). Hopefully despite my lack of time due to my yoga teacher training program starting and having a busy life in general, I will be able to contribute daily. Hopefully you despite your lack of time or want to analyze vegan ranting, will be able to enjoy the spirit and taste of this ultimate plant based booyakasha.

So this dish came about spur of the moment of course. Parsnips are one of my absolute favorite vegetables and taste like quintessential fall to me. But somehow every time I purchase them, they end up mingled in with the carrots and I never notice them until they are starting to prune. When they are in the beginning stages of sagging, I always revert to a mash. In a mash, it never matters what the veggie looked like before. And you get all the credit for the taste without the mess of presentation. This is a lighter mash because it's actually a blend of winter and summer squash - how perfectly equinox! Enjoy how simply season it is.

Garlicky Parsnip Mash
Makes 3-4 servings
Cook time: 15 minutes


2 c. parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 c. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 medium summer squash, sliced
2 garlic cloves
Pinch of salt


Place all ingredients in a large sauce pan and cover with water by about an 1-2 inches. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium. Simmer until veggies are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Add any fresh herbs you like to spruce it up!