Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kale and Tempeh Coconut Curry

Yet again, I tender my apologies for being the World's Worst Blogger, but this whole coursework thing translates to a lot more time reading than cooking (or even thinking about cooking). That said, we still need to eat, and we don't want to get rickets or scurvy or that wholly-imaginary-but-nevertheless-dreaded Vegan Brain Fog I keep hearing about. So last night I stopped dallying with my new boyfriend, Geoffrey Chaucer - see above for his picture; he is SO HOT! - long enough to whip up this quick, easy, veggie-packed curry, which not only kept body and soul together, but was pretty tasty, too.

The super settee, back I went to my joly lovere; ther is namoore to telle.

Kale and Tempeh Coconut Curry
~ 2 tbsp. canola (or other) oil
~ 8 oz. tempeh, cubed
~ 1 tbsp. soy sauce (or Bragg's liquid aminos, if you're a hippie)
~ 1 large onion, chopped
~ 1 tbsp. each: chopped garlic, grated ginger
~ 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
~ 1 large (or two small) sweet potato
~ 1 large head kale, cleaned and chopped
~ 2 14 oz. cans coconut milk
~ 2 tbsp. mellow white miso
~ 1 tbsp. Thai red curry paste
~ 1- 2 tsp. hot sauce, or to taste

~ Cook the sweet potato in the oven or microwave until it's cooked enough to cut into chunks, but not falling apart. (It took about 8 minutes to nuke a gibloodynormous specimen; your mileage may vary with a less gargantuan tuber.) When it's cool enough to handle, cut it into 1" chunks and set aside.
~ Toss the tempeh cubes with the soy sauce, then add the olive oil to a large, deep skillet and sauté for a few minutes over medium high heat, until lightly browned on all sides. Remove to a plate and set aside.
~ Add the onions, garlic, ginger, and bell pepper to the skillet, and cook about 5 minutes.
~ Add the sweet potato and the kale - you'll probably need to do the latter in batches - and stir until the kale just wilts.
~ Combine the coconut milk, miso, curry paste, and heat until nearly boiling. Add to the vegetables, turn the heat to low, and cook another 10-15 minutes.
~ Add the tempeh cubes and the hot sauce, stir to combine, and serve hot over rice, noodles, quinoa, couscous, or whatever wacky grain takes your fancy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Unusually Yummy Tofu Stir-Fry

Yes, I know what you're thinking: what kind of helpless, hapless hippie needs a recipe for a tofu stir-fry, right? But the fact is - as many a vegetarian can attest, having been obliged to make do with the pedestrian version offered by many restaurants as the sole concession to the non-carnivorous - all stir-fries are not created equal. This very quick, very easy meal is a case in point and (as M. Tofu reminds us in his passionate, Gallic way) has the additional benefit of being trés nutritif. It derives its particular yumminess from the combination of sweet, salty, and spicy flavors, and from the simple, extra step of frying the tofu separately, then setting aside to be added to the veggies at the last minute, thereby ensuring that it retains crispiness and structural integrity, and that you will have a happy mouth and tummy. Everyone's a winner!

Unusually Yummy Tofu Stir-Fry

~ 1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
~ 4 teaspoons cornstarch
~ 1/2 cup vegetable broth
~ 1 tbsp. agave nectar
~ 2 tsp. sesame oil
~ 1 tbsp. canola oil
~ 1 heaping tbsp. each: minced garlic, freshly grated ginger
~ 2 large carrots, juliennned
~ 2 cups mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced
~ 2 cups broccoli florets
~ 3 cups bok choy, cut into bite size pieces
~ 4 large scallions, thinly sliced at a diagonal
~ 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (more to taste)

~ Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes and pat dry. Sprinkle the tofu evenly with 2 teaspoons of the cornstarch.
~ In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, soy sauce, agave, sesame oil and remaining cornstarch. Set aside.
~ Heat the canola oil in a wok or large skillet over medium high heat.
~ Add the tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
~ Transfer the cooked tofu to a plate, then add the garlic and ginger to the wok and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
~ Add the carrots, mushrooms, and broccoli; stirfry for about 5 minutes.
~ Add the bok choy, scallions, and red pepper flakes, and continue cooking about 3 minutes more, until the greens are just cooked.
~ Add the tofu cubes and the broth mixture and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. (This should only take about a minute or two.)
~ Serve hot over short grain brown rice.

Friday, September 2, 2011

American Chop Suey

American Chop Suey, for the uninitiated, is one of those working-class New England staples, ubiquitous on diner menus and harried weeknight meal plans. I imagine this is because it's A. cheap, B. fast, C. filling, and D. pleasing to even the most childish of starch-loving palates.

My mother made this dish pretty often when I was small, and continued to do so well into her career as World's Most Compulsively Over-Feeding Nana, when her refrigerator often held a big Tupperware container of the stuff for after-school noshing. I have no idea from whence the appellation "chop suey" came, and had never given it much thought, but Wikipedia tells us that the dish does appear in other regions, where it is "sometimes known as American Goulash, Macaroni Goulash, or Macaroni and Beef," the last of which seems uninspiringly literal-minded.

Since we are currently heading into yet another busy school year, I've been brainstorming meals that can be prepared in large batches and fed off during the week. Casseroles and stews are obvious choices, but it recently occurred to me that a humongous batch of ACS might fit the bill perfectly. And so it proved! Aside from replacing the hamburger with a more compassionate and less disgusting alternative,  I kept things pretty old school, and the results were received so enthusiastically that all those hoped-for leftovers disappeared much more quickly than planned. (Dammit.) The first lesson of the semester? Always make twice as much as you think you'll need; that's why Mother Nature invented the freezer.

American Chop Suey

~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 onion, chopped
~ 1 large stalk celery, diced
~ 1 carrot, small dice
~ 1 green bell pepper, diced
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, oregano, chili powder
~ 1/2 tsp. each: basil, parsley, marjoram
~ A few grinds of black pepper
~ 1 tbsp. each: vegan Worcestershire sauce, HP Sauce, hot sauce (I like Frank's)
~ 1 package Trader Joe's "Beefless" Ground Beef or 1 package Nate's or TJ's veggie meatballs, baked and mashed
~ 3 cups marinara sauce (homemade or jarred; your choice)
~ 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
~ 1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked and drained according to package directions

~ Boil and drain the elbow macaroni, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
~ In a large skillet, sauté the onion, celery, bell pepper, carrot, and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until soft (about 10-12 minutes).
~ Add the salt, oregano, chili powder, basil parsley, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and the ground "beef," and cook another minute or two.
~ Stir in the marinara sauce and the nutritional yeast, and combine thoroughly.
~ Turn heat to low, and continue cooking another 5 minutes.
~ Remove from heat, stir into cooked, drained macaroni, and serve hot. To keep that Mom's Diner vibe going, we had ours with green beans and corn on the side, but it's so filling that a green salad is really all you need.
~ So what are you waiting for? Eat, eat; you're skin and bones!