Sunday, March 28, 2010

Curried Chickpeas

What a great weekend it's been! I took a vacation day Friday since we were celebrating our anniversary.. Friday and Saturday were wonderfully warm, sunny days and I got the raised beds and one of the flower beds bed cleaned out. I planted lettuce and spinach and sowed wildflower seeds. The only down side to the weekend was Kentucky loosing to West Virginia.

Friday night Paul and I had dinner at Shiraz, a relatively new restaurant here in Louisville. We enjoyed generous servings of tabbouleh, quinoa, hummus, falafel, and eggplant, along with a sampler of various flatbreads. We had a lovely chat with the owner, a first generation immigrant from Tehran. It never occurred to me to take pictures until it was too late. Next time!

I've had a couple pounds of dried chickpeas hanging out in the pantry for awhile waiting for me to get some inspiration. Inspiration actually came in the form sticking to the pantry challenge. So, yesterday afternoon I put the chickpeas to soak in my older, smaller crock pot. Last night I turned the crock pot on high, expecting to wake up to bubbling chickpeas, fragrant with the dried chipotle peppers I seasoned them with. Not! I woke up to very well-soaked chickpeas that were cold as a stone. Alas, my old crock pot is dead. Which is a little sad, since that old crock pot was a wedding gift to Paul and me many years ago. So I dumped the chickpeas into a big soup pot and cooked them on the stove, which worked out fine.

Two pounds of chickpeas will make a bunch of hummus and a big ol' pot of curried chickpeas, which was perfect for a cool, rainy weekend. This is my take on Curried Chickpeas.

Curried Chickpeas

4 cups cooked chickpeas (fresh are best, but canned will work in a pinch. If you use canned, drain and rinse well.)
1-2 tbs olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded (I used one of the chipotle peppers I cooked with the chickpeas for a smoky flavor)
1/2 large onion, cut into chunks
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground ginger or 1" fresh ginger
2 tsp curry powder (more or less to taste)
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
juice of 1 lemon

Place the onion, jalapeno, garlic, ginger, curry powder, chili powder, coriander, salt, turmeric, and garam masala in a food processer and blend into a thick paste.

Heat the oil in a dutch oven. Add cumin and mustard seeds and fry until they start to pop. Add the onion-pepper-garlic paste, and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and mix well.

Place 1 cup of the chickpeas in the food processor and pulse until the chickpeas are almost pureed. Add the processed chickpeas to the pot and stir to combine.

Add the remaining chickpeas to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes, or longer if you want, stirring frequently. Add a little water if it gets too thick. Taste for seasoning and add salt if desired.

Serve this over rice if you want, or scoop it up plain with pieces of torn toasted pita bread.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jamaican Black Beans and Tofu

Yes, I have made some changes to the blog's format. Any thoughts on the new template? I can't decide.......

Little by little the pantry has been filling back up and getting more cluttered. So, I am once again challenging myself to shop as little as possible and use only what is in the pantry and fridge to prepare our meals. Tonight's meal was the first of this current pantry challenge. It is bold and spicy and nutritious and delicious!

Jamaican Black Beans and Tofu
1-2 tbs olive oil
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 block extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups bottled barbeque sauce (I used Bulls-Eye Original; it contains no high fructose corn syrup)
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tsp Jamaican jerk seasoning
zest and juice of an orange

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven. Add sliced onions and sauté until onions are transparent. Add minced garlic, tofu, and the orange zest. Sauté until the tofu is browned on most sides. Add barbeque sauce, jerk seasoning, orange juice, and vegetable broth. Stir to combine and add beans. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce to simmer for at least 10 minutes.

Serve over rice.

Once again, tonight's photo is blurry. I think I'll switch cameras for the next post and hopefully it will turn out more clearly.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cheezy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Proof that spring is here! The day lilies are poking their heads up even though the crape myrtle is still as bare as a winter day. The roses are putting out new leaves and I can see tiny green shoots peeking out of the wildflower bed. We spent the day mulching, trimming, pruning, weeding, and raking. It has been a wonderful weekend!

This super quick and easy recipe is based on the cheezy sauce I make for tofu scramble. I added a bit of heat and a lot of roasted red peppers. I usually double this, because it is super versatile. Serve it as a macaroni and cheeze-style main dish or over veggies as a side dish. It also makes a delicious dip. After it is chilled, it is a really awesome sandwich spread - use it with your favorite veggie deli slices!

Cheezy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp onion granules
8 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
pinch of red pepper flakes or 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, more or less to taste)
2 cups water
1-1 1/2 tsp prepared mustard
2-3 tbs Earth Balance
smoked paprika

In a blender, combine the flour, nutritional yeast, garlic, granules, onion granules, mustard, water, pepper flakes or cayenne, and roasted red peppers. Blend on high until smooth. Pour into a sauce pan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until it becomes very thick. Remove from heat and add Earth Balance. Sprinkle with smoked paprika.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

African Peanut Stew with Whole Wheat Couscous

This isn't exactly Irish fare, but I wanted comfort food tonight. So, please forgive me for making a Nigerian dish on St. Patrick's Day. It's just been one of those kinds of weeks!

In case you hadn't noticed, I love bold flavors. Doesn't always have to be "hot" spicy, but it must always have LO
TS of flavor. Becoming vegan opened up a whole new world of spices and seasonings for me, and so far I haven't found one yet that I don't like. I have definitely discovered some peppers that I can't tolerate, but no seasonings that don't suit me.

This dish has the wonderful smokey flavor of cumin and chili powder, with the slight sweetness of coriander, and while I made it pretty hot with crushed red pepper flakes, it would be just as delightful without the heat. In fact, I think kids might really like the peanutty-ness of this one!

This dish is loosely based on a recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. If you have never checked out her cookbooks, they are quite wonderful!

African Peanut Stew
2 cans beans - I used pintos, but kidney beans are more traditional
1 cup chopped celery
1 onion,chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 tbs whole cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tbs chili powder
1 tsp salt
a BIG pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Add celery, onion, and carrots. Cook until vegetables are tender.

Add cumin seeds, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and coriander. Cook until seeds begin to splutter, or pop, and the spices form a kind of paste.

Add beans, with their liquid. Stir to combine. Add tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes.

Stir in peanut butter, stirring until it melts into the rest of the dish. If you use freshly ground peanut butter, you can mix it with some of the hot liquid from the stew before adding it to the pot. Replace cover and return to simmer while you prepare the couscous.

Follow the package directions to prepare the couscous. I used whole wheat couscous, cooked with about a tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tsp of salt. I also added 1/2 cup of lightly toasted pine nuts, which adds a yummy crunch. If you like, you can squeeze the juice of the other half of the lemon over the couscous.

Finish off the stew by stirring in the le
mon juice and spooning it over bowls of couscous.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini and Panch Phoran

I had no intention of blogging about tonight's dinner. I had planned to have broccoli - yes, again - but I didn't have any. I did find a head of cauliflower in the fridge, so I improvised. Paul took one bite of the cauliflower and actually yelped. "You gotta write about this one!" So here I am. The photo is a bit blurry, but Paul is right - this is a keeper!

This is super simple. It came together in about 5 minutes and took about 25 minutes in the oven. We had it with chickpea cutlets, based on this recipe, a staple in our kitchen.

Panch Phoran is a Bengali spice medley made up of five different seeds. You can find it in most international and Asian grocery stores. Sometimes you may find it already ground or you may find it as a bag of whole seasonings which you will need to grind yourself with a mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder. (I have 2 electric coffee grinders - one for coffee and one for spices.)

Roasted Cauliflower with Panch Phoran

1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup tahini (You may want to use more depending on the size of the cauliflower. Or just use more 'cause tahini is yummy!)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs freshly ground panch phoran
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine well. Make sure the tahini and spices coat all surfaces of the cauliflower. Dump it all out onto a cookie sheet and spread into a single layer. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. Stir once while cooking.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sweet and Sour Tofu with Broccoli, Almonds, and Mushrooms

SUNSHINE!!! SOOOO happy to see sunshine! Even if it does rain all next week!
I sat out on the deck and took a nap this afternoon and the horses got to spend all weekend out in the pastures. I might actually survive this winter!

Here is a quick, nutritious, and yummy dinner. It was great for the kind of week we had. The ingredient list is long, but it comes together very quickly!

Sweet and Sour Tofu with Broccoli, Almonds, and Mushrooms

1 box extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1" cubes
2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 4 tsp water
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp garlic granules
1 1/3 cup vegetable stock
4 tbs soy sauce
4 tbs brown sugar
red pepper flakes to taste
2 tbs sherry (optional)
2 tbs seasoned rice vinegar (can use plain white vinegar)
1 tbs corn starch mixed with 2 tbs water
1 lb frozen broccoli florets
8 oz crimini mushroom, sliced
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 tbs sesame seeds for garnish

For the tofu:

After draining and pressing tofu, cut it into 1" cubes. Toss these cubes in the Ener-G egg mixture, making sure to coat all the tofu. Put the 1/3 cup of cornstarch in a plastic bag. Add the tofu and shake to coat. Set aside.

For the sauce:
In a medium sauce pan, combine ginger, garlic, vegetable stock, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper and vinegar. Heat to a simmer and add corn starch and water mixture. Stir constantly until thickened. Remove from heat.

Heat oil in a wok, large non-stick, or cast iron skillet until very hot. Add tofu cubes and fry until browned on all sides.

While the tofu is frying, pan roast the broccoli and mushrooms using this method.

When tofu is brown and crispy on all sides, add the broccoli and mushrooms and pour the sauce over everything. Stir gently to combine. Sprinkle toasted almonds over top and garnish with sesame seeds.

Serve over fragrant jasmine or basmati rice.