Monday, April 30, 2012

Meatless Monday: Tofu Stir-fry with Miso Almond Sauce

There's no denying it, I'm into vegetables right now.  Spring is here and I'm ready to fill up on greens and broccoli and peppers and whatever else I can get my hands on.  Sadly, it's still raining in Seattle, though there's a warmth to the air that wasn't there even a few weeks ago.  I'm not much for salads until it's hot enough to wander about in a short-sleeved shirt so we are doing a lot of stir-frys.

This is a simple tofu stir-fry with a flavorful sauce.  I lightly fried soft organic tofu in high heat safflower oil and set it aside and cooked the vegetables.  I started by sautéing broccoli and carrots for a minute or two and then adding the bok choy and zucchini.  While the veggies cooked I whisked together a simple sauce of 3 T almond butter, 2 T lemon juice, 1 T white miso, 1/2 tsp dried ginger, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/4 tsp chili flakes and 1/2 tsp hot pepper sesame oil.  If you're a little more methodical in the kitchen, I recommend preparing all your ingredients before you start cooking.  Finally, I added the tofu back into the pan with the veggies and drizzled the sauce over.  Cook for another minute or two and serve over sweet brown rice, garnished with chopped scallions.  Start the rice a good 45 minutes before you want to eat but the stir-fry should take less than 20 minutes to prepare!

What are you cooking for meatless Monday?

Recipe inspired by Vegetarian Times, April/May 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Cupcakes and a Camera!

Yes, please.

It was my birthday last Friday.  I've always loved my birthday and I usually go all-out with a party or dinner out.  This year is no exception, and by pure chance, my birthday lasted for a week--on the Sunday before, Ben surprised me with a trip to Glazer's for a new camera!  Can you believe it?  Unbeknownst to me, he'd been saving since my little Pentax broke and I could get the exact camera I wanted with an extra lens and all the accoutrements.  As you can imagine, I spent the week cooking up lovely, photogenic recipes to share with you all, and I started with cupcakes!

Foreground: Coconut sugar out of the package.       Background: Coconut sugar put through the food processor.

I've been experimenting with coconut sugar, and this is the first baked good I've made with it. Coconut sugar is considered a low-gylcemic food and can be used in a 1:1 substitution with white or brown sugar. Nutritionally, coconut sugar is high in several vitamins and minerals.

Per Wikipedia:
"Coconut sugar has a high mineral content, being a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron.  In addition, it contains vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. When compared to brown sugar, coconut sugar has 36 times the iron, four times the magnesium and 10 times the amount of zinc."

I purchased mine in the bulk section of the grocery store for around $5.50/lb.  It's not cheap, but it has a wonderful dark and nutty flavor similar to brown sugar.  Right out of the package the coconut sugar was very coarse, and I had to put it through the food processor to make it fine enough to bake with.  I never got it powdery enough to use in the frosting.

Celebrate with me.   Have a cupcake!

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Frosting (Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free!)

62 g sorghum flour
62 g brown rice flour
25 g potato starch
25 g tapioca flour
1/2 c + 1 T neutral-flavored oil
7 oz sugar (I used coconut sugar)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 oz unsweetened cocoa powder (I used raw cacao)
2 tsp instant coffee
2 tsp vanilla

1/4 c coconut oil
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch-processed cocoa)
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
~2 T almond milk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil and flour the muffin tins, or fill tins with muffin cups.
  2. Weigh out flours and combine with baking soda, salt, cocoa powder and instant coffee.
  3. Place oil and sugar into mixing bowl and beat until combined and slightly whipped.
    Add eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.
  4. Slowly beat in dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time and mix until just combined.
  5. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for ~25 minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Allow to cool before frosting.

For the frosting:
  1. Beat together coconut oil and cocoa powder.  Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with almond milk and vanilla.  The frosting should be stiff and not too moist.  Refrigerate if planning to pipe through a pastry bag.

Cake adapted from The New Best Recipe Cookbook
Frosting adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World


Monday, April 16, 2012

How Does Your Kale Grow?

Lacinato Kale

I haven't put in my garden yet.  Have you?  Usually at this point in the season I've at least prepared my beds and planted my sugar snap peas.

However, this year is different.  This year the neighbors are building a townhouse right next to my garden and random crap keeps getting thrown over the fence.  Last week they sprayed our apartment with cement (accidentally, of course), but I'm sure some of it got in the garden.  So I'm waiting. Waiting until when, I don't know, but in the meantime, I have a great kale patch!

Flat Leaf Green Kale

Last winter I planted Lacinato kale and flat leaf green kale, and both are still going strong!  We ate fresh kale all through last winter except for a brief period when it died off in the snow.  I cook it any which way, sautéed or braised as a side, blanched as a warm salad, as part of a pasta dish or thrown in soups.  You'll remember from a couple of posts ago, I even throw it in smoothies.

I've posted many recipes about cooking chard, and the wonderful thing about leafy greens is that you can effortlessly substitute one for another.  Look at any of my chard recipes and just increase the cooking time by a few minutes!

Here are some suggestions:

Green Smoothies
Coconut Chicken Soup
Kale and Lemon Salad
Poached Eggs Over Greens
Pasta Over Greens
Blanched Greens

Go forth and kale!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Digital Disaster and Smoky Black Bean Soup

Gaze upon the face of my apocalypse.

My camera broke in February.  The sensor is dead, and it will cost more than the camera is worth to get it repaired.  My little Pentax DSLR has served me well these past 7 years, but I guess it was time to go.

I started taking photos with my iPhone and Powershot, but I wasn't happy with the results.  The past few blogs are excellent examples of mediocre photography.  I muddled along, insisting to myself that plenty of people can take beautiful iPhone pictures and I just needed to learn the new medium.  This delusion held until Lightroom (my photo-editing software) stopped loading on my computer and my older-than-dirt photo printer simultaneously gave out.  My shoulders sagged in defeat.

Beautiful pictures are an integral part of blogging for me, so I stopped.  It wasn't a conscious choice. It snuck up on me.  I've written a dozen recipes to post, but upon realizing I had no pictures to go with them, I stuck the recipes in a folder and forgot about them.  I told myself I'd put them up next week... and that turned into next month... and now here we are.

I'm working on getting a new camera, which it turns out is mighty difficult around tax time.  It will happen; I just have to be patient, which isn't my strongest virtue.  Back to practicing with my iPhone.

In the meantime, I give you this photo-less black bean soup!

Spicy Black Bean Soup

2 T high heat safflower oil
1 onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
2 cloves garlic, put through garlic press or minced
2 chiles in adobo sauce, minced
1 ½ tsp cumin
~ 9 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
4 cups of water or broth
Salt to taste
  1. Heat oil in soup pan over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onion and celery and reduce heat to just below medium.  Sauté, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until onion is translucent and soft.
  2. Add garlic, chilis and cumin and sauté for 30 seconds.  Add beans, tomatoes and water.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for ~20 minutes.  Salt to taste.
  3.  Lightly mash soup with potato masher or puree 2 cups and add back into soup.
Serve with diced avocado, cilantro and dairy-free, soy free plain yogurt.


      Canned adobo peppers are easiest to work with frozen.  Place indivudiual peppers on a cookie sheet and freeze at least 12 hours.  Place together in a storage container or bag.  The peppers will remain separate, but slightly soft and easy to cut.  Remove the desired number of peppers and chop on a cutting board.

      If you’re unable to find canned adobo peppers without gluten, simply purchase dried adobo chilis and grind in a coffee grinder until they form a fine powder.