Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spring Spring Spring Spring Spring

This spring has been a bit funny, alternating between cold, cold and rainy and warm and sunny until this week, when it decided to get really warm and the pee smell New Yorkers enjoy so much this time of year started to rise off the sidewalks once again. I'm thrilled in spite of the smell, because this means that the farmer's market selection will go from strictly winter greens, if you're lucky, and those wicked apple cider donuts (and I mean wicked in both the New England and traditional senses), to a cornucopia of greens, fruits, vegetables and flowers. It's so much more fun to eat in the springtime, and I was getting sick of winter foods.

Today's dinner, inspired by a recipe from Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins' The New Basics Cookbook, features a bunch of delicious springtime vegetables, and is quick and hearty to top it off. (One of the things I love about The New Basics is that I can look up whatever ingredient I have on hand, in this case, asparagus, and they give you, well, the basics, and a bunch of related recipes. Such a great resource!)

Here's what we've got: asparagus, ramps (whose leafy tops were erm, over refrigerated), some spinach, tempeh, and toasted sesame seeds, soy sauce and sesame oil. If you can't get ramps where you are, some garlic or green onions might do the trick. Shallots might also be good. That's all you need. It's simple, delicious, and cooks up in about 20 minutes.

I separated the tips of the asparagus from the stems (the original recipe called for just the tips, but I can't be bothered to find something else to do with the stems), and the ramps from both of those, and cooked in stages, according to the delicacy of my ingredients. Here's my method:
1) Heat about 2 Tbsp. of sesame oil in your trusty wok over medium-high heat and add the tempeh, stirring it around for a bit until it gets slightly brown. Add 1 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari and stir it around. I also add a splash of water so the tempeh steams a bit (I've heard this tempers the bitterness that tempeh sometimes has).
2) Add the stems of the asparagus and stir around (this is a stir fry, so you should pretty much be stirring constantly) until they just start to brighten in color.
3) Add the ramps (if you're using the leaves of the ramps, you should probably hold them to add with the spinach) and stir until they just start to get translucent.
4) Add one more Tbsp. tamari/soy sauce, stir.
5) Throw in those asparagus tips, and yes, stir.
6) When the asparagus tips are tender, but still crunchy, add the spinach and mix it in until it cooks down. Taste, and if necessary, add more soy sauce. Sprinkle sesame seeds liberally over the whole shebang.
7) Dinner is ready! (Oh, you could make some rice or cous cous to have this over if you want to, though I like naked stir fries every now and again.)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

So much catching up to do!

So the end of the semester happened, and even though I haven't been posting, I have been cooking, and taking photos. Here are some highlights:

POTSTICKERS
I mixed up recipes from Vegan Yum Yum and Vegan Dad and made these with a chickpea-shiitake filling. They're fun to put together!

Be sure to get all the air out so they do that thing where they seal up at the end:


You fry AND steam them, and then fry them again! (They go vacuum-sealed when you lift the lids after they're done steaming. So cool to watch.)
video

A quick, delicious and elegant meal. It will really impress someone if you invite them over for home-made potstickers, and it's a fun dinner to make with a friend, since you have to assemble them.

CHICKPEA PANCAKES
These might be the easiest thing ever, and they're delicious with Pete's curried lentils, or, as I had them here, with avocado and salsa for breakfast.

I didn't write down where I got the recipe from, but I looked at a few different places, and might have made this up as an amalgamation of a few, or maybe not. Apologies if this is your recipe. Here's what I used:

1 c. chickpea flour (garam)
1.5 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne (or a little more, if you like it spicy like we do)
1/4 c. vegetable oil

Gradually add the water to the flour, whisking to remove lumps. After a smooth paste is formed, add the rest of the water and spices. Cook these kind of like crepes over medium-low heat, brushing your skillet with oil before and between pancakes, and swirling the batter over the bottom of the pan to cover it. They should cook ~3 minutes/side. The cooked parts turn kind of reddish-brown when they're ready.
If you add a little curry powder to the batter, they get a nice flavor as well. This seems like a versatile base, and because it's made with chickpea flour, it's protein-packed!

BAGELS!

These took a long time, but most of it was spent waiting for them to rise. Plus, kneading them for 10 minutes was my workout for the day!

I made a half-batch, but should've made a whole batch, because then I'd have enough for Pete & I to have one each for breakfast every day for the whole week. As it is, we gave two to our friends this morning, split one, and will have one each tomorrow. Good enough for me!

SANDWICHES
We've been making some really yummy sandwiches lately. Pete likes to make a parmesean/honey sandwich every now and then, which is not not not vegan, but it's delicious if you eat that sort of thing. We've decided that sandwiches are the thing for the summer. You know what else sandwiches are good for? Picnics. But maybe not these monsters. I had sandwich all over my face while I was eating that thing. I had to hold on with both hands so it wouldn't totally get away from me, and I still had a bit of a salad left on my plate in the end.

Here's what's inside: roasted baby garlic & onions from the farmer's market, avocado, tomato, roasted cherry tomatoes, sunflower sprouts (my favorite) from the farmer's market, and cucumber (not in Pete's). So delicious.