Monday, July 23, 2012

Warm Chickpea Artichoke Quinoa Salad

I've been feeling really rundown all day so for dinner tonight I needed something super easy to make that was not only healthy but delicious too. My thoughts instantly went to my new favorite warm salad. The first time I made it was after a picnic I had with some of my PPK pals a few weeks ago. My friends Beth and Adam  brought the Golden Chickpea Artichoke Salad from VeganYumYum. I've had the cookbook for awhile but never thought to make that recipe, and after tasting it I was really wondering why I hadn't gotten around to it before. After I got home from the picnic, I couldn't stop thinking about how good it was so I decided to recreate it. I made it with no parsley or almonds, increased the lemon and added some cooked quinoa. I was hooked, eating it for several days straight.

I decided that is what I was going to have for dinner tonight, but I changed it up even more with a few things I had kicking around in the fridge, making it more awesome than it was but still just as quick. This salad was exactly what I needed to help me start feeling slightly human again. I'm not quite feeling 100% but I'll get there.

Warm Chickpea Artichoke Quinoa Salad
  • 1 cup warm cooked quinoa
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 12 grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 handfuls of pea shoots
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 whole lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a frying pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the chickpeas. Cook while stirring until they are nice and golden. 
  2. Put cooked chickpeas in a medium sized mixing or serving bowl. 
  3. In same frying pan, heat another tablespoon of oil. Add artichoke and tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes and artichokes are warmed through. Add to bowl.
  4. Add  pea shoots, quinoa, lemon juice, remaining olive oil, salt and pepper to bowl. Toss until mixed and pea shoots are slightly wilted.

PPK 100: #23 Camera+ for iPhone

So remember when I said I wanted to do/buy/eat/cook as many of the things on the PPK 100 list as I could before the end of the year? Even though I haven't been posting about it, I am working on it. Slowly. I'm going to start with #23 on the list: Camera+ for iPhone. I don't have an iPhone but I do have an iTouch. The app is slightly different for the touch vs the phone but overall, you get the same types of photos.

I use this app a lot, mostly for pictures of my dogs but I have gotten some pretty sweet food photos too. It gives you some fantastic filtering options to really change the look of the original photo. I highly recommend it to anyone with an iPhone, iTouch or whatever other platform you can get it on. Here are a few of the photos I've taken with it:


Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Vegg! Artichoke Tomato Quiche and French Toast

(Photo from The Vegg)
There are so many fantastic vegan meat, milk, cheese and even candy substitutes out there but there has never been anything that could recreate an egg yolk. Sure, there are recipes out there for vegan omelets and fried eggs, they look fantastic, though I have never been successful or happy with the results when I tried them. It didn't remind me of an egg at all, just weird liquidy tofu. Well folks, we now have The Vegg! Who knew that something with so few (and common) ingredients could completely recreate the look, feel and taste of an actual egg yolk. You can even make it into the shape of an egg yolk! I've been hearing about this product for some time now, and when I got my hands on a sample I couldn't wait to try it out! Once I mixed up the packet with water in my Vita-mix, the results blew me away.

It has been a few years since I have had any part of an egg, but I'll tell ya, the yolk was always my favorite. I had a friend try it who still eats eggs and asked him if it was legit. His response was "too legit to quit." I think The Vegg could definitely hold it down in a blind taste test!

I was going back and forth all week trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to make with it. I finally settled on 3 things that were a must: quiche, french toast and hollandaise sauce.

Let's talk about the quiche. Holy fuck, it was fantastic! I modified my basic vegan quiche recipe to come up with this Artichoke Tomato Quiche recipe. It had the complete look, taste and texture of a non-vegan quiche. Instead of making a pastry crust I decided to go with the box of phyllo dough I've been too scared to use up until now. I have never worked with phyllo dough before and it took some serious trial and error to get it down. I destroyed went through at least 12 sheets of it before I experienced the sweet taste of success. This recipe is definitely a winner, I highly suggest you try it out.

Artichoke Tomato Quiche with The Vegg

  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Vegg powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 package of firm tofu - drained and pressed. 
  • pinch or two of dried sage
  • 1/2 tablespoon of dried rosemary, crushed. 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts roughly chopped, drained and squeeze to remove extra liquid. 
  • 12-14 grape tomatoes, quartered. 
  • 6-8 sheets phyllo dough
  • 3 tablespoons of vegan butter or olive oil. 
  1.  Preheat oven to 350. While the oven heats up, place a sheet of phyllo dough on the counter, brush with melted vegan butter and place another sheet directly on top. Repeat until you have used all the dough. 
  2. Gently pick up the pile of dough and place it over the pie plate and using your fingers, push it into place, getting all around the bottom. Give the bottom a few stabs with a fork or knife, otherwise it wil puff up a bunch while cooking. 
  3. Cook crust for 8-10 minutes and start preparing filling. 
  4. In a blender, mix water, Vegg powder and cornstarch. 
  5. In a food processor crumble the tofu, add the spices and Vegg mixture. 
  6. Pulse until smooth and completely mixed.
  7. Pour into a bowl and mix in the chopped artichoke and tomato. 
  8. Once phyllo crust is pre-baked, pour in the filling and bake for 35-40 minutes. 

 I planned on serving the quiche with a side of asparagus drizzled in hollandaise sauce but sadly, the sauce didn't turn out so well. It was in no way because of The Vegg, it was the Earth Balance. There have been talks of EB having a slightly fishy flavor in recent months but hadn't really noticed. I don't use EB for much more than buttering a bagel before I smother it in vegan cream cheese. Well, last night the fishy taste was really apparent and gross. Once I mixed the sauce together, it certainly had the velvety texture that I remember hollandaise having but even when I added more lemon juice and Vegg, the fishiness still came through really strongly so I had to toss it. I will however, be making it again very soon with a different vegan butter. I am confident that I will be wowed with the results. Because of said confidence, I will post the recipe, but you have been warned: do not use Earth Balance for this!

Hollandaise Sauce
  • 6 tablespoons of premixed Vegg yolk
  • 1 tspn lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl and chill until desired consistency is reached. I think adding some cornstarch to this and maybe cooking it for a bit would help thicken it so you wouldn't have to chill it, but that is something I will try and report back. 

Are you ready to talk about french toast? I am. I used the recipe on their website and it came out pretty good, though I wasn't entirely in love with it. Again, nothing to do with The Vegg, this time it was the bread. I used my favorite sourdough bread but it wasn't the best choice for this recipe, the mixture didn't absorb deep enough into the bread and the edges were a bit too chewy for french toast but the taste was pretty spot on. I'm going to buy a regular loaf of bread and give it another go. Since I am not a huge fan of maple syrup I drizzled them with agave nectar and a raspberry-strawberry puree. Overall, I was pleased and they definitely hit the spot. 

All in all I am so in love with The Vegg. So much so that I want to scream it from the rooftop! Not only do they have a fantastically delicious and realistic product, but 10% of all net sales go directly to a very deserving non-profit animal advocacy group, Compassion Over Killing, from now until 2014.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why I haven't blogged in 5 months...

Because I suck. No, seriously, I do.

I can't believe I have let so much time pass without writing anything but...........My culinary motivation has been pretty much nonexistent lately. I've been talking to a good friend about this recently and have realized mainly why the motivation hasn't been there; I don't often have people around to share food with and I've been lazy. Also, it gets fucking expensive when you are cooking for one but still cook like there is a whole army to feed.

Before, when I was posting fairly regularly, I had people to cook for all the time. I was living both at home and at my best friend Jeremy's house. There was always someone more than willing to eagerly wait while I cooked a fantastic meal and then photographed it before letting them dig in. That is where the excitement came from, sharing my passion with others, not only here but in real life. Seeing the expressions on the faces of my loved ones when I cook something tasty is one of the best feelings to me. Now that I live alone, I cook more for my dogs than I do for myself. The past 6 or so months have consisted mostly of takeout, eating out and cooking boring meals not really worth writing about. Sure, they are delicious but I don't find a lot of pleasure in writing about eating out (unless it's a fantastic new vegan restaurant that needs to be shared with the world) or bowls of rice, fake chicken and veggies.

I have been feeling the itch to really get back into the kitchen and the vegan blog world. Luckily, I now have good reason. I have been reminded of how much I used to love it and it doesn't hurt that the fantastic folks over at The Vegg have sent me a sample of the new Vegan Egg Yolk to review! I am going to be cooking up a fucking storm this weekend and will be photographing it the whole way and will be back to tell you all about it. I've got quite the menu planned so stay tuned, I'm not dead, just lazy and boring.