Recipe: Quick and Easy Rice Salad

I had quite some rice over from last night because my hand slipped and I ended up putting much more rice than intended in my rice cooker. Which turned out to be quite perfect for today’s dinner as I didn’t feel much like cooking so I threw together a quick rice salad with chickpeas. Any other grain will work as well, quinoa, cous cous, bulgur, even pasta. You could also substitute the chickpeas by any other kind of beans but I found the subtle taste to go well with this dish. I used a red bell pepper, onion and some mushrooms because that was what I had at hand but you can basically throw in any vegetable you like. I personally liked the crispness of the pepper and the onion and as I found out yesterday red bell peppers have a huge amount of vitamin C so I was happy I still had one lying around and I’ll be making sure to eat them more often. I added some raisins because I liked to have something sweet in my salad as well to even out the onion and spicy dressing. I used mayo for the dressing today because it was the easiest but I will be better here next time and substitute for something vegan with less fat but I was lazy tonight. I realized later I still had some soy cream in the fridge I could have used… I didn’t have lemon or lime juice at hand but next time I’ll add a bit to the dressing (which may be completely different next time because I made this one up ad hoc and I might not remember exactly what I put in unless I come here to check.

Ingredients

Salad:
Rice
Chickpeas
Bell pepper
Onion
Mushrooms
Raisins

Dressing:
Mayo (or substitute)
Chili sauce
Curry powder
Cayenne pepper
Dried coriander leaves
Powdered mustard seeds
Agave syrup (or anything to sweeten it a bit)
Olive oil
White wine vinegar (rice wine vinegar would work as well)
Salt

Mix everything together to make the dressing and then mix it with the other ingredients and enjoy. Perfect summer time dinner which you can vary to your own likings.

Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower Soup

I had a cauliflower that needed to be used, saw a recipe for roasted cauliflower soup and it’s winter so perfect time for a warming soup. I didn’t exactly remember where I had seen the soup recipe but Google helped me find several vegan cauliflower soup recipes so I got a basic idea of where to go. I ended up going by Girl Cooks World’s recipe, which I tweaked to my likings.

I don’t know why but I’ve only recently discovered how to properly clean a cauliflower head without making a huge mess of it and while it’s probably known to most people, here’s the trick anyway:

Clean of the green parts and what you can get of the stem and then cut the head in four pieces, which then makes it really easy to get out the remaining parts of the stem and have your cauliflower fall into the florets you want.

On to the soup!

Ingredients

1 Cauliflower head
3 Potatoes
3 Cloves of garlic (I used 3 cloves but you can use less if you prefer)
3 Onions
Olive oil
1 tsp Curry powder
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Coriander
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
(I’m not completely sure on how much I used of the spices so feel free to vary or add or leave out some)
Vegetable stock (I used 700ml but I recommend a bit more depending on the amount of vegetables)
Soy milk (I have no idea how much I used, I just went by look and feel of the soup
Salt to taste

I roasted the cauliflower and the garlic with some olive oil, lots of garlic for me because one can never have enough garlic!

While the cauliflower was roasting, I sauteed the onions…

…and decided I wanted some potatoes in my soup as well so I put them in the oven with the cauliflower. I highly recommend deciding about the potatoes before and put them in right at the beginning.

I added the spices, roasted vegetables and vegetable stock to the onions.

I let all of that simmer for a while because the potatoes still had to cook through completely and once it was all done I mashed the vegetables and added some soy milk to make my soup a bit more creamier. I served it with some flat bread I roasted in the oven with a bit of olive oil sprinkled on it and garam masala on top, which worked really well with the already spiced soup.

Recipe: Indian Spiced Quinoa with Raisins and Pine Nuts

I’ve got quite some new recipes I tried to share but I’ve been too lazy to write them up, transfer the photos to my computer etc… I finally did the latter so I should start writing now as well. I guess I’ll just go backwards and see how much I remember.

Saturday I made another recipe out of Vegan Planet, something I usually do on Fridays, or well try to do unless I feel like eating something else like last night or in case I find another recipe to try elsewhere or if I feel like trying a new recipe another day. The recipe I tried was Indian Spiced Quinoa with Raisins and Pine Nuts, unfortunately it all sounded much better on the paper than it ended up tasting. Maybe it was because I had a little accident with my quinoa and had most of it going down the drain (so I used couscous), maybe it was the fact that I replaced the cardamom with turmeric (I really need to remember to look for cardamom at the Asian store next time I’m there because I’ve not been lucky at other places), maybe it was the fact that I added more water so the couscous didn’t cook dry. Or maybe it just wasn’t really my kind of thing.

About quinoa, I’ve cooked with it twice now but I’m not a huge fan of it. Mainly because of the hassle rinsing those little suckers and draining them, which was what went wrong today. I used a wrong drain with too big holes so a lot of the quinoa went through them. Yes, sometimes I don’t really use my brains. The first time I cooked chili with them and while I didn’t mind them in my chili much because they added some texture and all the other things overpowered the taste, when I tasted them before adding them to the big pot, I didn’t really like it. I’ll have to try again sometime and find a better method for rinsing and draining them. After all I gave tempeh another chance as well (another adventure I still have to write about I just realized).

I started by rinsing and losing my quinoa so that’s not pictured because there wasn’t much left of it. I then continued by chopping the shallots and ginger.

I sauteed the onion and ginger…

¬†…and added the quinoa, couscous, spices and vegetable broth.

While all of that was simmering, I decided to make some vegan cheese but I also had to roast the pine nuts for the dish I was cooking. Not the best of ideas because stirring and tasting in one pan and roasting pine nuts in another can lead to not paying proper attention for a second and roasting a bunch of your nuts to the point where they’re black. In the picture everything was still alright with the world.

I decided to add them all anyway and just pick out the burned nuts while eating, which didn’t make for the most relaxed meal but I was hungry by that point so I just wanted to get dinner on the table, which looked like this:

It doesn’t look like the tastiest male you’ve ever seen and as I said at the beginning, I didn’t like it that much but after I added some salt (which I forgot before) it was alright and the raisins did give it a special twist. I might try it again but maybe add some more spices or make it with quinoa completely.

Recipe: Garlic Ginger Tofu Stir Fry

I meant to post this last week when I actually cooked this but I forgot, or rather I was too lazy. While I was planning on cooking something from Vegan Planet each week, I felt like making this stir-fry the other week. It was good but not mind blowing, it’s something I had made before but with some variants. Or let’s say, I made stir-fry with soy sauce before or just tofu marinated in soy sauce on lazy days. This had a bit more additions which made it much better. I’m definitely going to make it again sometime.

Ingredients

1 small Thai pepper, minced
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder or cornstarch
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 16-oz. pkg. firm tofu, drained and cut into 1×1/2-inch pieces
1 tsp. soy sauce
2 carrots, cut into 2-inch strips
1 red pepper, sliced
1 large bok choy (or 4-5 baby bok choy), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1/2 cup yellow squash, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
Cooked lo mein or soba noodles

I did vary my recipe a bit with different vegetables and I added some brown sugar for a bit sweetness. I also didn’t go to the process of transferring the sauce and tofu to a separate bowl. Maybe it does something special I’m not aware of but the step just seemed silly to me and I was hungry.

I didn’t make it with noodles but with rice because I’m in love with my new rice cooker.

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I then proceeded to chop up my ginger, garlic and peppers. I didn’t have red peppers (or well I did as I discovered the other day but I didn’t remember when I made this) so I used milder green ones as those where the only ones I thought I had. As a huge garlic lover I can never just put in 1 clove, that’s just silly!

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After that I heated some oil

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And sliced my tofu.

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Then I stir-fried the ginger, garlic and peppers.

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Added the soy sauce, water and cornstarch, be careful to stir this in very quickly or you’ll get lumps!

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I then added my tofu which I had fried in a bit of oil in another pan first but you can also skip this step I guess, depends on how you like it.

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And finally my veggies.

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I served it over the rice and enjoyed it a lot! It was super easy and quick to cook so definitely going to make it again on days I need a quick dinner because it doesn’t require any special ingredients and you can basically make it with any kind of veggies you have at home.

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Recipe: More Brussels Sprouts

Last week polenta with roasted brussels sprouts was on the menu, an easy and delicious meal! Recipe courtesy of Veggie Belly, I basically did all she did with some tiny variations like adding some gorgonzola to my polenta and adding some more garlic cloves and slicing them because I love garlic. As I still had a lot of brussels sprouts left, I made soup with them the day after, recipe from my vegetarian basics cookbook. Really yummy! Both recipes serve about 3 to 4 people depending on how hungry they are.

Polenta with Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients for Polenta
250 ml water
350ml milk
170 gr polenta
salt
butter
grated parmesan cheese
gorgonzola

Usually there are instructions on the package but here you go: boil the water and milk with some salt and when it starts to boil, stir in the polenta (best done with a whisk), whisk until it’s all mixed. Let the polenta cook on medium heat until it’s cooked, stir every 10 minutes. When it’s done add the butter and cheese. It’s best to use a large pan because polenta tends to splutter while cooking.

Ingredients for Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
12 brussels sprouts.
3/4 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon  balsamic vinegar
clove of garlic, peeled
thyme sprigs (I didn’t have sprigs at hand so I used minced thyme)
salt
black pepper

Pre heat oven to 190C and clean your brussels sprouts. Once done, cut them in half length-wise. Place them in a bowl with all your other ingredients, toss them and then spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure they’re all in a single layer. Bake until they are browned (about 20 minutes) and half way through toss them.

Brussels Sprouts Soup with Barley

Ingredients

500 gram brussels sprouts1,5 l vegetable stock
1 large onion
100 gr barley
1/4 lemon (I didn’t have one so I used some lemon juice instead)
3 tablespoons butter or oil
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
parsley (I don’t like parsley so I used chives instead because I had them)
75 gr cream (or more if you like)
3 tablespoons pine nuts
Salt
Pepper

Chop the onion, wash the lemon and cut off the rind, wash the parsley and chop in little pieces. Saute the onion with the lemon rind and parsley for a couple of minutes in butter or oil. Add the barley and cumin, stir everything together and then add the vegetable stock. Cover the pan half and let it simmer for 30 minutes on low heat. Add the brussels sprouts (cleaned and cut as small or large as you like them) and cream, stirring everything together. Let the soup simmer until the brussels sprouts are done (about 15 minutes). Taste the soup with salt and pepper. Before serving, heat up some more butter or oil and roast your pine nuts. Serve the soup with the roasted pine nuts, some parsley to garnish and bread if you like. I also added some gorgonzola to my soup which was perfect.

Vegan Challenge 2013

I received the book Vegan Planet in the mail this week, a wonderful surprise gift for Christmas from a friend. Thanks again! Since I’ve become a vegetarian, I’ve been flirting with a vegan lifestyle now and then but never really went through with it. Excuses have been:

* I love cheese too much, can’t give it up. Yes there are some cheeses that I’d definitely miss, like Parmesan, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, maybe even cream cheeses because they’re so easy to throw on a sandwich to take with me to work. However every time I see another report on what actually goes on in the dairy industry I know that I should get over my love for cheese. There are substitutes and while they might not be like Parmesan or Gorgonzola, they will give me the knowledge of no cows being abused for my cheese.
* I’m lazy. Worst excuse ever, I should just stock up on soy and rice products and do it. I love soy or rice milk as much as actual milk. Still gotta try almond milk. And soy cream to cook works as well as dairy cream. Definitely no need for this excuse.
* Vegan products are expensive. They don’t have to be, there’s no need to buy the expensive stuff and a package of dried beans and lentils will go a long way. Besides I do sometimes eat meat substitutes, not too often because I feel all the ready made stuff is not good for me, and they’ve become so much cheaper nowadays. The only thing that might be expensive here is vegan cheese and the likes but no need for that, I can make my own and I have been told that nutritional yeast is a lifesaver.
* What if I want ice cream? Either try to find vegan ice cream, make your own, eat fruit flavors without dairy or suck it up!
* Some people will think I’ve gone completely crazy. Let them think what they want, it’s my life style and my decision.
* I can’t eat that delicious popcorn at the cinema anymore. Now this one will be hard and I can’t think of any solution. I’ll just have to resign to say goodbye to this addictive stuff and resort to only making my own popcorn at home without butter.
* No mayonnaise with french fries anymore. Well veganaise yes but that doesn’t really taste as good as the real thing, at least the kind that I have tasted. I’ll have to try other kinds and I’ll look into making my own without using eggs.

This said I have decided that in the new year I’m going to do a couple of vegan challenges. I’ll go vegan for 10 days. Maybe 30 after that. Also, I’m going to try at least 52 recipes from the vegan cookbook. There are 400 delicious recipes to chose from in the book, using at least 52 should definitely not be a problem. Obviously with the 10 and 30 day challenges the number of 52 will be quickly adding up and hey, when I end up cooking 92 recipes at least, let’s make it a 100 right? Or maybe more. Maybe this will be the final push I need to become completely vegan. I already don’t eat eggs and honey (honestly the latter only because I never really use it a lot anyway) and I don’t mind leaving out milk and milk products. It’s only the damn cheese that might be a challenge but I’m going to try.

We’ll see how this goes, I’m going for the proposed challenge and we’ll go from there!

Recipe: Brussels Sprouts Are Awesome

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Image by Sofie Dittman

I love brussels sprouts, hated them as a kid but absolutely love them now. I could eat them all the time, even just plainly cooked. I professed my love for them and shared some recipes a while back here over at Wit & Fancy. One recipe I shared I got from a friend, it’s pasta with brussels sprouts and gorgonzola. A couple of weeks ago I decided to change that one a bit and make it with rice, turned pretty good but that was to be expected because if you got brussels sprouts and gorgonzola nothing can go wrong.

Ingredients:

Rice
Brussels sprouts
Chickpeas
Gorgonzola
Sour cream
Onion
Garlic
Chili flakes
Salt
Pepper
Balsamic vinegar

Cook the rice and the brussels sprouts. In the meantime saute your onion and garlic and once everything is done, you throw everything together. Then add the gorgonzola and sour cream and keep on medium heat so the gorgonzola can melt. Add some salt, pepper and chili flakes to your liking and sprinkle some balsamic vinegar over your dish once it’s on the plate. Enjoy!