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What’s a-Masala with You?

30 Apr

Well, now that we’ve officially established that my pun-circuits aren’t working.

I apologize for my lonngggg absence.  There’s lots of stuff going on with me right now and I’m trying to keep up with it.  In order to maximize schedule ease, I’m planning to update with new recipes Mondays and Wednesdays, possibly Fridays.  I’ll try.  But homework, you see, and moving.  So, we’ll see how it goes.

In any event, I return to you from a request: chana masala!  This is an exciting day for me, because I love, love chana masala, and how relatively easy it is to make.  And it makes a TON.  I made double the recipe I’m about to post, and ate it with some basmati rice for lunch all week.

Chana masala. Not my most recent vintage, but an excellent approximation of what yours should look like.

You can even plate it easily!  I’m not a great food photographer (I’m improving slowly!) but just piling rice on a plate with beans on top and a spring of either parsley or cilantro, depending on which way your tastes swing, is a totally acceptable and actually rather attractive way to get your food on the plate, that last way-station on a garbanzo bean’s long but inevitable journey into my stomach.  (Yes, all garbanzo beans.  I love garbanzo beans!)

Total time is about an hour, but only about thirty minutes’ worth of actual work, and worth it, especially to not make lunch for the next day.

Recipe after the cut!

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How to Onion Properly

20 Mar

Yup.  We’re making “onion” a verb.  To onion (infinitive form), in this case, is to do things with onions.

Click “Read More” to learn about how to do things with onions!  That is, to onion.

:Edit: I thought I published this yesterday!  Aarrgh.  Here it is, though.

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CINNAMON BUNS (also a sloth baby)

28 Feb

There are cinnamon buns under this sloth.  (They’re only there because the sloth hasn’t seen them yet.)


There they are.

Go ahead, guess the best part about these cinnamon buns, besides that they’re cinnamon buns.  Is it the fact that they don’t require overnight preparation?  That they don’t need any special equipment besides a $6 thermometer? All true.  But guess what else?

Surprise!  They’re vegan and whole-wheat with raw sugar (except in the glaze).  Enjoy your cinnamon buns and ethical consumption and a modicum of healthiness.  But they are still cinnamon buns, so let’s not get carried away here.

I’m baking caramelized walnut banana muffins with chocolate ganache right now, so I’ll keep my usual preamble to a minimum and get right to the good stuff.  Because what can you say when there’s cinnamon buns in front of you?  Nothing.  You’re stuffing them in your face.  At least I am, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Click through for the recipe!

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The sort-of saddest food post ever.

26 Feb

World's easiest tofu recipe. I mean it.

You may be wondering what is going on in this post, because it doesn’t look like where I usually take my food photos.  That’s because it isn’t.  This is an awkwardly-taken picture from me sitting (alone, like all the other saps in there enjoying a five-seater table to themselves) in my university lunchroom on a very short lunchbreak with my undeniably hip $5 food thermos thing I bought from CVS when I picked up my prescription last.  You can even see my Kindle (on which I’m currently reading this and this) and backpack in the background.

I am in class 5 days a week, generally for 3-5 hour stretches with (maximum!) a 25-minute break.  I now bring my own lunches for two reasons: 1) eating out vegan at a place that isn’t expressly vegan can be an exercise in frustration that I don’t have time for and 2) a healthy lunch won’t make me crash in the middle of the day (or I could just get a pile of fat on a piece of bread or something, but whatever).  Usually, this is pretty easy, since I just take a pile of leftovers from the night before.

But this time, the night before, I made curried tofu.  Big mistake.  The spice blend smelled great!  But both my boyfriend and I discovered that we are not fans of turmeric-heavy, super-spicy Indian food (though there are types of Indian food I like!)  The recipe came out fine, it was just not my favorite, because it burns.  So, even though I usually use leftovers to make lunch, I was left in a tight spot.  I didn’t want a pasta dish and I didn’t have leftovers–what to do?  Emergency tofu!

Read about how emergency tofu preparedness after the cut.

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Stout Little Cupcakes

21 Feb

I mean it!  There’s stout in these!    (Fortunately, Guinness Extra Stout, North America is vegan according to Barnivore.)

I was going to do a writeup of some of the more practical and also-delicious things I’ve made lately that are backlogged, but I feel like I don’t make enough pretty things to post here, so I am posting this takeoff of the Chocolate Stout Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World, which we all know is the only cupcake book for vegans.  Be happy!  Now you have a recipe to impress your coworkers, friends, and other people who need impressing.

The only change I would make is to not whisk the dry and wet ingredients for two minutes, as suggested in the original recipe, because I personally think that’s over-mixing and it resulted in slightly crunchy tops, despite a moderate sugar content, smooth batter texture, and a constant oven temperature, which I watch like a hawk while I am cupcaking (thanks, oven thermometer.)

The original also called for a crumb topping, but I had just made a crumb topping for the ginger snap-apple-peanut butter thing I have in my fridge right now, but I don’t like cupcakes to be smothered in sugar and fatty toppings, so I decided to go a little different.  Chocolate and raspberry go together!  So I made a half-recipe of raspberry buttercream frosting, a little chocolate ganache, and got out some powdered sugar/unsweetened cocoa powder (trust me, you’ll like it!) to make little pink flowers crowned with an eensy ganache truffle rolled in cocoa powder.

They turned out pretty attractively!

Cupcake group photo. See, not too terribly boob-shaped.

They’re a little boob-like, thanks to the lighting that is washing out the color of my icing (because I’m an awful photographer), but if you’re really worried about it, add extra red to the icing and make your rosettes bigger and more floral.  You can also substitute a little piece of fruit for the ganache drop, but personally I like them fine this way, and think their appearance as boobs is questionable enough to serve in settings unrelated to the Vagina Monologues.

In the interest of preventing well-intentioned cupcake disasters (and strudel sadness), I am making a “Challenging” category for this blog–stuff that requires special equipment, assembly, lots of time, or exotic ingredients.  This would probably fit here–both ganache and frosting should be prepared ahead of time, for example.

Click through for this moderately-challenging recipe!

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Back to Basics, Part 2: Oat-Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

18 Feb

I found these in Veganomicon immediately after making the Pasta e Fagioli.  I know it sounds weird!  I’ll be honest, I was not particularly arrested by the title (wheat-free chocolate chip cookies) because I don’t have a wheat sensitivity, but I was excited by the sentence: “These couldn’t be easier to make unless someone made them for you!”

Now, personally, I disagree with that.  I maintain that my peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are the flat-out easiest cookies, ever.  You don’t even need two bowls!  See?  Also, it would have been easier if the original recipe did not turn out a batter the consistency of pancake batter.  But don’t worry, follow my recipe and these will turn out fine!

However, these do have an advantage that mine lack.  They’re made with whole-grain oat flour, flaxseed, and just a little less sugar.  So, if you are feeling guilty about wanting that cookie for some reason (you should never feel guilty about food!) or you have wheat-related health concerns*, here is a recipe to try!  As for texture and taste, they are delicately sweet and mellow, pillowy-soft, with a noticeably nice crumb.

*Note: If you do have a wheat allergy (or if you want to bake cookies for someone with a wheat allergy), be sure that you/they are not, in fact, avoiding oats as well as wheat!  To my knowledge, some celiac patients do avoid oat products.

Recipe and tips after the cut.

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Back-to-Basics Double Feature, Part 1: Pasta e Fagioli with Kale

16 Feb

So I’ve been having a rough few days in the kitchen.  It’s bound to happen when you try something new pretty much every night!  First the baked barbecue tofu was a touch too sweet.  Then I tried to make meatballs with Simply Lean as the base, and the texture was not right (no savory crust on the outside/fluffy meatball center.)  Then I tried a new recipe for vegan mac and cheese–or, as my boyfriend calls it, the Ark of the Covenant.  (I poured it over whole wheat rotini and it looked like brains, oh god.)  Note for future generations of vegans: There is such a thing as too much nutritional yeast.  You don’t want that ashy aftertaste.  (Which, no matter how good the sauce was on first bite–and it was pretty good!–never went away.)

But the thing about cooking is that you can’t give up on it, because you have to eat!  Every day!  Sometimes more than once.  And if you are going to eat vegan, and you’re coming home kind of late from the gym, it’s all you.  You better figure it out.

So I threw up my hands and went for a recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Appetite for Reduction, which is great for a couple of reasons: 1) quick food 2) healthy food.  Okay.  I can handle making moderately fancy pasta.  So I did!

I was pretty delighted, because it turned out quite attractively!

Originally, the recipe was supposed to use spinach, but I suspected (correctly) that it would also work just fine with whatever other green I had on hand.  My only regret is not adding more kale.  (Attention vegan health people: Kale is a good source of calcium that is absorbed much more efficiently than equal quantities of the same mineral in cow’s milk!)  Plus it has vitamin A and lots of other good things.  Also, I genuinely like kale, mixed in with things or separately, and I really don’t like cooked/wilted spinach.  The leaves are too flat and slimy and whatever, and blue curled kale is much less bitter, I find.  I also used canned diced tomatoes instead of chopped plum tomatoes because I don’t have the patience and I do keep a bunch of cans of unsalted diced tomatoes on hand.  Plus there’s probably a touch more olive oil in mine than the original, but a little olive oil won’t kill you!

Plus, there’s beans for protein and nice whole grains, with just a touch of olive oil and garlic.  (Besides its health benefits, I actually really like the taste of whole grain rotini here!)

Pasta e Fagioli with Kale

Special equipment: Possibly a steamer for making greens; it keeps more of the nutrients than boiling

1-2 teaspoons of olive oil
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup of vegetable broth or white wine (I used vegetable broth because I keep forgetting to buy cooking wine–I could get wine, cook with it, and also drink a little with the same meal, but I still don’t seem to plan that well)
about 2 pounds of tomatoes, diced or chopped in some form or fashion (original called for 2 lbs of roughly chopped plum tomatoes, but diced regular ones from a can will give you something close enough; I also only had two 14.5 oz cans available, which is off by 3 oz, but fine)
1 15-oz can of navy beans, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups dried)
whole wheat pasta that is not spaghetti (I had some of the rotini left over, which worked out well.)
dash of coriander, garlic powder, and agave syrup (optional)
1-2 cups frozen kale or other green (you can use fresh; directions given for both.)

Set a pot of water to boil on the stove.  Preheat olive oil in a large skillet and mince garlic.  Saute for about a minute with salt and pepper, then add the tomatoes, wine/broth, and Italian seasoning.  Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil; once it comes to a boil, add the navy beans, then keep on medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to fall apart and the sauce reduces a bit.  (If you do have cooking wine, I would use it–I found that the sauce did not reduce as perfectly as I would’ve liked with broth.  It might just be me.  If you are using wine, keep the heat a little lower.)

While the sauce reduces and pasta cooks, bring about a cup of water to a boil in a saucepan and get your steamer assembled.  Once steam starts rising out of the steamer holes, toss the frozen greens onto the steamer and let them cook until de-thawed.  Set aside.  (If you have fresh greens, skip this step.)

The pasta and sauce should finish cooking at roughly the same time.  Drain the pasta.  In batches (again, I like to use a still-warm, emptied pot), mix the sauce and beans, the pasta, and the greens.  Keep stirring (with a pasta fork?  I don’t have one of these!  Stir with whatever, I guess) until the greens are completely wilted and soft.