Monday, November 17, 2014

Smoky Tofu with Creamed Leeks

This dish was inspired by a post on the PPK forums entitled "What to do with leeks?" While I've never had a problem finding uses for the allium ampeloprasum, this idea got in amongst me, and when I was recently felled by a truly horrendous cold/flu thing, it seemed like just the sort of comfort food this almost-doctor wanted to order (or, in this case, make). Not having any smoked tofu to hand, I marinated and baked some myself, and pretty much winged the rest; the result was creamy, soothing, and delicious, especially spooned over a pile of mashed potatoes. We had ours with some noochy kale on the side, but this could easily be a meal all on its own; either way, I recommend it be eaten while wearing pajamas, in front of the TV and/or a roaring fire.

Smoky Tofu with Creamed Leeks

The Tofu
~ 1 14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed 
~ 2 tbsp. soy sauce
~ 1 tbsp. each: olive oil, maple syrup
~ 1 tsp. each: Marmite, vegan Worcestershire sauce, Liquid Smoke
~ 1/2 tsp. each: garlic powder, smoked paprika
~ A few grinds black pepper

~ Slice the tofu into 1/2" cubes.
~ Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour into a large, shallow baking dish.
~ Arrange the tofu pieces in the pan, and flip them over to coat them with the marinade. Allow to rest for about an hour (most if not all of the liquid will be absorbed).
~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
~ Arrange the marinated tofu in the baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping them about halfway through. They should be firm and chewy but not quite crispy.

~ Remove from the oven and set aside.

The Creamed Leeks
~ 1 cup raw cashews
~ 1 tbsp. each: olive oil, Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
~ 2 cloves garlic, minced
~ 3 large leeks, whites and light-green parts only, cleaned, halved lengthwise, and cut 1" inch thick crosswise
~ 1/2 tsp. each: sage, thyme, white pepper
~ Dash mace 
~ 2.5 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 tbsp. "no chicken" bouillon ~ 1/4 tsp. turmeric (for color)
~ 1 tsp. English mustard ~ A big batch of your favorite mashed potatoes

~ Soak the cashews in hot water for at least an hour, until quite soft.
~ In a large,deep skillet, heat the olive oil and margarine over medium-high heat and saute the garlic for about a minute, until fragrant.
~ Add the leeks and the seasonings, stir well to coat, and continue cooking, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
~ Lower the heat, cover the pan, and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or so, until the leeks are very soft (give them the occasional stir and adda  splash of water if necessary to prevent sticking).
~ While that's happening, drain the cashews and puree them in a blender or food processor with the soy milk, bouillon, turmeric, and mustard until completely smooth.
~ Raise the heat on the leeks to medium, and begin adding the cashew mixture gradually to the skillet, stirring constantly.  
~ Continue cooking for about 10 minutes more, until you have a pan of creamy deliciousness.
~ Stir in the baked tofu, cook 5 minutes more, and spoon over mashed potatoes to serve.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Eggplant, Lentil, and Quinoa Chili

This stew is the perfect dinner for a chilly (see what I did there?) fall evening. On the eve of a recent trip, I needed to use up an eggplant but had little other fresh produce on hand; pantry staples seemed the way to go, so I rooted around in my cupboards et voila! An hour or so later we were sitting down to this thick, fragrant chili, which is not only a delicious nutritional powerhouse (lentils, black beans, and quinoa!), but ridiculously filling as well. I didn't have any fresh herbs in the house, but next time I'll toss in a handful of chopped cilantro, so I've included it in the recipe below. That said, if you're a cilantro hater you can substitute parsley or just skip it and I guarantee the results will be every bit as good.

Eggplant, Lentil, and Quinoa Chili
~ 1 tbsp. each: olive oil, coconut oil
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 1 large stalk celery, diced
~ 1 large carrot diced
~ 4 large cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes
~ 2 tsp. each: chili powder, cumin
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, coriander, smoked paprika, oregano, marjoram
~ 1/2 tsp. each: cinnamon, cayenne
~ Dash nutmeg
~ A few generous grinds fresh black pepper
~ 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
~ 4 tbsp. tomato paste
~ 2 tbsp. maple syrup
~ 1 15 oz. can black beans, with liquid
~ 1 cup red lentils
~ 1 cup quinoa
~ 4 cups "no chicken" broth
~ 1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro (optional)

~ In a large, deep pot, heat the oils and sauté the onion over medium-high heat for about two minutes; add the celery and carrot and cook another 3-4 minutes.
~ Add the garlic and eggplant and stir for about a minute to combine.
~ Add all the dry seasonings and mix well to coat; continue cooking 5-7 minutes, until the eggplant begins to soften (you can add a splash of water to prevent sticking if necessary).
~ Stir in the tomato paste, maple syrup, black beans, lentils, and quinoa. Mix well and cook for another few minutes, stirring.
~ Pour in the broth, stir, and then cover the pot and bring just to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant has broken down and the lentils and quinoa have become one with the whole delicious business.
~ Stir in the fresh cilantro (if using), adjust seasonings to taste, and serve with rice, cornbread, or both.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Black Bean Quesadillas

Apologies for the radio silence - it's been busy around here, and I haven't had much time or culinary ambition. But I did make these excellent quesadillas for dinner on Hallowe'en (the black, orange, and green color scheme was a happy coincidence), inspired by a dish I've eaten several times at Root, a vegan place in Allston. The prototype is filled with sweet potatoes and kale, but it occurred to me that some beans would improve the situation while adding a punch of protein, and so it proved. These came together quickly and were very filling, so you could really get away with just a salad or some simple veggies on the side, in addition to the quesadilla-appropriate condiments of your choice, and still have plenty to share with your enchanted toad friends!

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Black Bean Quesadillas
~ 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, roasted until soft and mashed
~ 1 batch noochtastic kale
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 small onion, diced
~ 1 small bell pepper, diced
~ 2 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tsp. each: cumin, chili powder, Adobo seasoning
~ ½ tsp. each: marjoram, oregano, cayenne
~ ¼ tsp. cinnamon
~ A few grinds black pepper
~ Dash nutmeg
~ 2 tbsp. tomato paste
~ 1 can refried black beans
~ 8-10 flour tortillas

~ Preheat the oven to 250 degrees fahrenheit and place a large baking sheet inside.
In a large skillet, saute the onion in the olive over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until soft.
~ Add the garlic, bell pepper, and seasonings and cook about 5-7 minutes longer.
~ Stir in the tomato paste and refried beans, mix well, and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
~ Lay a tortilla flat and distribute about 1/4 cup each of the mashed sweet potatoes, kale, and bean mixture evenly across the upper half, then fold over to make a crescent. Continue with the remaining tortillas and fillings. (I got 8 large, generously filled quesadillas from this recipe, but your mileage may vary!)
~ Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and cook the quesadillas one at a time, for about 3-5 minutes each side, or until browned and slightly crispy, removing the cooked ones to the oven as they're done.
~ Serve with guacamole, vegan sour cream, salsa, and/or whatever accompaniments you like.