Baby Bok Choy and Mushrooms ~ Week of July 4th (plus bonus vegan July 4th BBQ menu!)

Another gorgeous box full of deliciousness this week. Here’s what came in my giant Harvest box from Full Circle:

Baby Bok Choy, Organic – 1.25 pounds
Russet Potatoes, Organic – 3
Cauliflower, Organic – 1
Celery, Organic – 1
Cremini Mushrooms, Organic – 0.66 pound
Avocados, Organic – 3
Red Leaf Lettuce, Organic – 1 bunch
Rainbow Chard, Organic – 1 bunch
Red Beauty Plums, Organic – 5
Pluots, Organic – 2
Nectarines, Organic – 4
Peaches, Organic – 5
Strawberries, Organic – 1 box

My substitutions this week were potatoes (traded in for radishes) and nectarines (switched with Valencia oranges). I’m so excited about everything that came in my box! The cauliflower is enormous. I don’t know if I’ve ever laid eyes on a bigger cauli. I can eat a small cauliflower’s worth of Impressionist Cauliflower all on my own at one sitting, so it will be nice to actually have enough to share with friends or stretch over several meals.

I’m quite pleased to see these nice big heads of baby bok choy, which I haven’t had in a while. A couple of old favorites come to mind. I could combine them with that gorgeous bouquet of rainbow chard to make Sunrise Noodles with Gingered Greens and Tofu or stir-fry up a mouth-watering batch of Spicy Bok Choy with Garlic and Ginger.

The lettuce, celery, chard if I don’t use it for noodles, and most of the fruit will all probably go into green smoothies. The mushrooms and potatoes look like they’d be delicious together. I’m not sure yet what I want to do with them, but I am already dreaming of some scrumptious savory mushroom-potato treat.

My 4th of July BBQ menu today was amazing! It didn’t actually incorporate much from my box; I’m not around grills much, so there were some very specific foods I was craving. It was an all-around winning combination of foods, and I want to record it here for future reference.

Vegan July 4th BBQ Menu

  • Sandwiches: GF garlic kale sourdough bread from Bread SRSLY, grilled marinated portabella mushrooms (using the marinade from Appetite for Reduction), grilled thick-cut red onion rings, spinach, sliced tomato, & wasabi mayonnaise.
  • Spicy sweet potato fries with vegan aioli (made from a mixture of 3 different types of white & orange yams/sweet potatoes)
  • “Banana boats” inspired by this post at Vegan Crunk. Our version: take very ripe bananas, make a slit in them & stuff with chocolate chips. Put them on a piece of foil on the grill & grill the heck out of ’em. Then pour some bourbon on top to do a kind of flambĂ© thing. Make sure you grill the bananas until they’re good and soft. Then if you like, you can do what we did, which was gather around about 20 people with only 2 clean forks, so we were all feeding each other bites in a kind of banana-chocolate-bourbon mouth orgy.

Variations on a theme

More socca pizzas!

One of the things I miss most from my gluten & dairy days is Indian pizza. It’s a regular pizza, covered with a sort of curry sauce, and then “Topped with Spinach, Egg Plant, Cauliflower, Ginger, Garlic, Green Onions & Cilantro.” It’s one of those foods that transcends its ingredients list, that forms an alchemy of flavor your mouth never forgets. They even make a vegan version of Indian pizza, so it’s really the wheat crust that is keeping me from experiencing that perfect taste again.

Once I became obsessed with making socca pizza, I decided to see if I could recreate or approximate the magical memory of Indian pizza. On a base of Trader Joe’s madras curry simmer sauce, I spread happyveganface’s potato-spinach-pea patty mixture (only I used red chard, which is why mine is purple), which I then topped with a thick swirl of cilantro-parsley sauce, loosely based on happyveganface’s green chutney. I didn’t even come close to the original Indian pizza flavors (possibly because the elements I was using didn’t really come close themselves), but I did make quite a tasty treat for myself nonetheless. I ate, oh… let’s see… about four Indian pizzas in a week? (There was a lot of potato patty mixture to use up!)

I did discover during my Indian pizza week that eating a full cup of chickpea flour every day (which is what happens when you eat half a socca pizza for breakfast and half of one for lunch) for many days in a row will lead (at least in me) to a tummy-ache. So consider yourself warned in the event that you turn out to be as much of a socca-glutton as I am.

But once I figured I had given my tummy sufficient rest and recovery time, it was back into the frying pan! My next creation involved a layer of vodka sauce (which is a tomato sauce with MimicCreme and vodka) topped with chard and kale steamed and tossed with balsamic vinegar, balsamic-roasted chard stems, and toasted walnuts. I toasted the walnuts separately and added them after the pizza came out of the broiler, so I didn’t risk burning them. There’s just something about the chard and nuts on pizza that makes me weak in the knees!

Welcome home to a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

Butternut Squash and Carrot Stew with Quinoa Pilaf
I just got back from a long trip. I had a great time (I was with my mom on the East Coast and in Canada), but the traveler’s diet is not heavy on dark leafy greens, and it was such a relief to come home and dive back into a delicious pile of kale. Duck had one waiting for me, of course, the minute I walked in the door.

We’ve put our CSA box on hiatus again, which means we can menu plan from cookbooks this week. So most of our meal plan is from Veganomicon or another cookbook, The Vegan Table, that we are trying out from the library. I hated it when I first looked at it because it seemed to be full of ingredients like “eggless mayonaise” and “tofu cream cheese,” but then I looked it over again and found many recipes that excited me, and then I tried a few and am back to feeling wary. I’ll let you know how the week goes.

Because of the heavy reliance on cookbooks I don’t have a lot of links or photos for you this week, just a few of the old standards – sorry!

Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness is hosting the GF Menu Swap this week with the theme of Carrots, which inspired me to take on the delicious (and time consuming, but worth it every once in a while) Moroccan butternut squash and carrot stew shown above. If you’ve been trying to eat quinoa regularly but are running out of ideas, try the quinoa pilaf that goes with the stew recipe. It’s so good that I often make it on its own. And of course, for a huge compendium of menu plans from all over the web, check out the massive Menu Plan Monday round-up over at OrgJunkie.

And please don’t forget – Sunday is the deadline to send me a favorite, tried-and-true, tested-and-approved recipe for beans, lentils, dried peas, and other pulses. I am putting together a master collection to help me – and others – conquer beanphobia. No need to write up something new for this event – the recipe can be in an old blog post, and in fact the longer you’ve been making it the better! Then come back here Wednesday, Nov 18th to check out pulse inspiration from all over the world!

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Monday:
Broiled smoky tempeh (VCon)
Smoky sauteed kale with onions (VCon)
Millet

Tuesday:
Rice bowl with black rice, kale, and leftover broiled smoky tempeh
I Am DIY Rice Bowl

Wednesday:
Hot and sour soup with tofu, carrots, shitake mushrooms, napa cabbage, and button mushrooms (VCon)
Braised bok choy with toasted sesame seeds (VCon)

Thursday:
Chana masala (made with canned chick peas)
Pumpkin coconut curry (The Vegan Table)
Brown basmati rice

Friday:
Cornmeal pizza crusts with chard & caramelized onions (Vegan Table) and balsamic portobellos (Vegan Table)

Saturday: Movie night – Little Chihuahua chile verde tofu burritos to sneak into the theater

Sunday:
Moroccan butternut squash and carrot stew with quinoa pilaf

Still crazy for pulses on a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

This week’s menu plan is sort of half-retroactive and half-hopeful. We get our CSA box on Wednesday so we’ve been trying to make our menu plan then, but I didn’t make it to the store for the rest of the stuff we needed until Thursday, so the whole week’s plan got moved to Friday. So this is the ghost of menus past, present and future.

Tangy red lentils over salad greens

We have another menu that’s heavy on the beans and lentils. We just can’t get enough! So cheap, so filling, such good protein and nutrients. We’ll get bored soon with the recipes in our own repertoire, though, so I hope there will be some great recipes in the Steady Pulse beans & legume recipe round-up!

This week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap is hosted by the lovely Cheryl of Gluten-Free Goodness. The theme for the menu swap this week is apples, and I don’t have any in my dinner plans, but we’ve certainly been crunching along all week long on the delicious first-crop apples that arrived in our CSA box! For millions more menu plans, check out the giant Menu Plan Monday compendium over at Orgunkie.

I usually do a little “mash-up” photo of some of the food from the menu plan to act as a header, but this week, for fun and inspiration, I give you the full-size experience!

Friday:
Nasu dengaku (broiled eggplant with miso)
Steamed bok choy with pickled ginger
Sloppy sushi with avocado

Nasu Dengaku - Broiled Japanese Eggplant with Miso Sauce

Nasu Dengaku - Broiled Japanese Eggplant with Miso Sauce

Saturday:

GF Mac and cheese (or “cheeze”) with green beans, tomatoes, and kidney beans

Sunday:
Cumin-crusted potatoes (5 Spices, 50 Dishes)
Punjabi creamed greens with kale and chard (5 Spices, 50 Dishes) (made with soy yogurt)

Creamed Greens (chard and spinach)

Punjabi Creamed Greens (kale and chard)

Monday:

Lentil dal (5 Spices, 50 Dishes)
Home-cooked cranberry beans
Dandelion greens with walnuts and raisins
Quinoa
Chocolate pumpkin loaf (made without eggs)

Tuesday:
Sweet potato and kale soup with fennel seeds
Pamela’s drop biscuits

Sweet Potato and Kale Soup with Fennel Seed

Sweet Potato and Kale Soup with Fennel Seed

Wednesday:
Tangy red lentils
Roasted broccoli with pine nuts and lemon zest
Brown rice

Thursday:
Tinkyada brown rice spirals with vegan pesto, roast zucchini, tomatoes

Gluten-free spirals with vegan pesto, zucchini, and tomato

Gluten-free spirals with vegan pesto, zucchini, and tomato

Don’t forget to send in your favorite tried and true recipes for beans, lentils, and other legumes and pulses!

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Reinventing an old favorite, better than ever

I woke up today and felt like making lasagna. Lasagna used to make an appearance a few times a year on my cooking rotation, combining long-simmered homemade red sauce with thick layers of creamy ricotta and chewy mozarella. Oh, and some garlicky spinach for color, of course. Then came cancer year, and the long list of “no” foods, and I created a “no”-food-friendly lasagna recipe for my mom and the other people in her treatement group that had lots of veggies and none of the forbidden stuff like refined flour or cheese or soy or meat or anything else that actually belongs in lasagna. It was pretty tasty, but not terribly filling. You had to eat about half a pan to feel satisfied, which is totally antithetical to the whole function of lasagna, which, as far as I’m concerned, is to spend more time than usual preparing a fairly elaborate dish, but then get a payoff which is that one small square of that jam-packed, densely layered dish can feed a family of four for a week.

lasagna

So today I woke up and felt like making lasagna for the first time in a long while, but this time it would need to be my first vegan, gluten-free, CFS-friendly lasagna. By CFS-friendly I mean that this would need to be a lasagna with the proper energy input-output equation; in other words, a few hours in the kitchen today that would translate to many “no problem, we’re having lasagna!” meals in the coming week.

As I gear up to recount the great lasagna adventure, now would be a perfect time to mention the big news of the summer. Not only has Farmer B returned at last from the East, she has brought her joyful sense of fun, gracious disposition, and farming/cooking/preserving/sauerkraut-and-kombucha-fermenting savvy and know-how into our home for the summer, and Duck and I could not be happier with our new housemate. Part of my inspiration to make lasagna was the amazing lentil, potato, carrot, mushroom dal Farmer B had made for us all the night before, spurring me to want to make an elaborate meal she could just relax and enjoy.

But of course, Farmer B being Farmer B, she had the day free and suggested that what could be more fun than making lasagna together, with her as my sous-chef, of course? So the great lasagna project got that much easier and a million times more fun. The only challenge that remained was figuring out what, exactly, would go in this thing. The gluten-free conversion for lasagna is easy since I’ve discovered Tinkyada brown rice pasta, the pasta that I actually prefer in texture and flavor to wheat pasta. But the vegan part is a bit trickier. There are many options – you can go the fake ground-meat route, or the soy-cheese route, or the just-veggies-and-red-sauce route, or, my personal favorite, the tofu-ricotta route.

I hate soy cheese in all its forms, and I don’t even like meat, so I am not going to go out of my way to find substitutes for it (most of which contain gluten, anyway). The just-veggies route seems to lead to rumbling, empty bellies five minutes after you finish a slice, plus I like my lasagna veggies simple. Just greens and maybe mushrooms, but none of this carrots and broccoli and zucchini randomness. But tofu-ricotta is tricky. You can crumble up tofu to the texture of ricotta, but it’s still crumbled-up tofu – bland, bland, bland. And sometimes it gets dry, because it doesn’t have all that nice dairy fat in it, and then you have a mouthful of dry bland tofu sandwiched between noodles.

To address the flavor issue I turned to vegan-cooking genius Isa Chandra Moscowitz of the Post-Punk Kitchen. Her recipe for Tofu Basil Ricotta sounded like exactly what I was looking for in the flavor department. And to deal with the lingering question of potential dryness, I called on my own vegan-cooking genius, and decided to incorporate some of my Savory Vegan Cream. I really think the addition of the cream was what ultimately pulled the whole dish together, flavor and texture-wise, plus I had not even anticipated the mouthwatering appeal of seeing a lasagna with a creamy red-and-white topping, as opposed to the usual plain vegan red sauce topping.

From my CSA box I had a huge bunch of chard, another of beet greens, and a few leaves of curly kale, as well as a bunch of fresh basil. Yum. Perfect filling. I made a simplified version of my old elaborate homemade red sauce, Farmer B whipped up some vegan cream sauce (and a little gluten-free peach and blueberry crisp for dessert), I massaged my tofu into ricotta-like perfection, we steamed the greens, and then finally I layered everything together. That’s the nervous part, for me, especially because I am never following one single recipe. Will there be enough sauce for all the layers? Did I use too many greens in the first layer and they won’t stretch all the way across on the next one? How much cream should I put – I don’t want it to get greasy! But everything came together beautifully (the lasagna gods were smiling on us today) and when it came out of the oven… well, you can see for yourself. I don’t think the picture does justice to the rich promise of herbs and tomatoes and creamy goodness that emerged from the oven. Perhaps you’ll just have to try it for yourself. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it!

Incredibly detailed recipe below… Continue reading

Oh, pretty!

pink_noodle

Duck was craving noodles. I wanted something satisfying and filling, but also fresh and healthy. I looked in the fridge and found red chard, baby bok choy, and tofu. A quick consultation of my beloved Moosewood Cooks at Home spreadsheet offered up Gingered Greens and Tofu, page 232, and things just kind of went from there. I riffed off the Moosewood recipe to end up with something delicious and stunningly beautiful. An unexpected side-effect of red chard + rice noodles is a sea of gorgeous, sunrise-tinted noodles. They tasted of lime and, somehow, lime tasted of pink.

pink_tofu

Sunrise Noodles with Gingered Greens and Tofu (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home)

Rice noodles (I used half of a 14 oz packet from Thai Kitchen)

Tofu marinade:
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. dry sherry or Shaoxing cooking wine
1/4 c. rice vinegar
3 T. brown sugar

1-1.5 lbs firm tofu, blocks cut into 1/2-inch slices and then into 1-inch squares

4 T. peanut or vegetable oil
2 T. grated fresh ginger root
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 bunch red chard, lower stalks removed (but don’t pull the stalks out of the leaves), coarsely shredded
1-2 baby bok choy, coarsely shredded (optional)

3 T. lime juice
2 T. thinly sliced scallion + more for garnish
pinch of cayenne or splash of chili oil

To cook rice noodles: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Turn off heat and immerse rice noodles in hot water for 3-5 minutes until noodles are soft, cooked through but still firm and al dente, not mushy. (Check firmness frequently, as you would regular pasta.) Rinse with cold water for 30 seconds. Drain well and set aside.

Make tofu marinade: In a small saucepan, bring the marinade ingredients to a boil. Simmer for one minute and remove from heat. Add the tofu squares to the pot of marinade, immersing them as much as possible. Gently stir in 2 T. of the peanut oil. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Make lime juice mixture: Combine lime juice, scallions, and cayenne or chili oil in a small dish and set aside.

Preheat broiler. Prep all the remaining ingredients and have them at hand before beginning to stir-fry.

Place the tofu in a single layer in a nonreactive heatproof pan, covered with the marinade, or remove tofu from marinade, reserving marinade for later, and place on a piece of foil (depending on how your broiler works). Broil the tofu for 7-8 minutes; then turn it over with a spatula and brown the other side. Ideally, the tofu will get nicely browned and firm on the outside, chewy on the inside.

While the tofu broils, heat the remaining 2 T. of oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Stir in the ginger and garlic for a few seconds and then quickly add the chard and bok choy. Stir constantly on high heat until the greens wilt. When the greens are just tender, gently stir in the rice noodles and lime juice, scallion, and chili mixture. Gently toss the noodles and greens together until the rice noodles are heated through. The noodles should turn a lovely shade of pink. Remove from heat. When the tofu is browned, gently toss it with the reserved marinade and the noodles and greens, reheating if necessary. Top with a few raw scallions slices and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Celebrations

I didn’t want to celebrate the 4th of July. I’m having very ambivalent feelings in the patriotism department, and, since the car accident, I just haven’t felt much like celebrating. But the day took on a life of its own, unrelated to any sort of officially declared bank and postal holiday. Duck and I were joined by Farmer B and another friend and we had a sparkly wonderful day that flowed from Indian-buffet brunch at our beloved “all fresh! never frozen!” vegetarian Indian restaurant down the street to playing our favorite board game, Settlers, in the backyard of our favorite local coffeeshop.

Nectarine clafouti

Then home to our newly set-up art room where Duck worked on his graphic novel and the rest of us made buttons and collages while the pets ran about, and then our visiting friends and I made a fresh-from-the-box meal while Duck worked furiously to complete his project and we all had this gorgeous dinner by candelight and then Duck washed all the dishes and we had coffee and dessert and played two more games of Settlers. We ended our glorious day by sitting together on the couch in our pajamas while Duck gave us the first look at his newly finished piece.

This was truly a celebration. Ever since the accident, I’ve been flipping back and forth between “Oh man, this is really, really an awful thing to have happened” and “Thank all that is holy that everyone is okay.” But mostly I’ve been floating through space, able to connect with how heartbreaking and terrifying it would have been if something worse had happened, but predominantly squashed by the weight of all that did happen and all that is still to come. So it was a gift to have this day, this seamless day of friends and games and art and food, where one moment flowed perfectly into the next and, as cheesy as it sounds, I got to really remember in my body why life is so precious.

And of course it wouldn’t be a celebration if it didn’t involve food – lots of it and only the good stuff, please! Our menu was drawn directly from the bounty of my box: Warm arugula with tempeh bacon and garlic over soft, creamy polenta made with scrap stock (batch IV), and chard with toasted walnuts made following Duck’s mom’s recipe. Farmer B found a bottle of wine someone had brought to a party years ago, way up on a shelf in my pantry, and we had this surprisingly good wine, and ginger beer for the non-drinkers. And while we ate dinner, dessert was baking in the oven. We would be having plum and strawberry clafouti, my first clafouti of the summer, which is for me a celebration all by itself.

Plum and strawberry clafouti

Plum and strawberry clafouti

Clafouti (or clafoutis) is a French dessert that is sort of like a firm fruit custard. Although traditionally made with cherries, the term clafouti is now used to describe this dessert when made with any kind of fruit. I made my first clafouti (a cherry one) in high school to accompany a French class report on the regions of France. In summers past I have made one after another all summer long, using surplus plums from friends’ trees, nectarine bounty from the farmer’s market – whatever stone fruit or berry comes my way. This is my second most frequently requested recipe (someday I’ll tell you about my ginger chocolate torte…) and now that we are getting all kinds of cherries and berries and lovely stone fruits in our boxes, I wanted to pass the recipe along to you.

French Summer Fruit Clafouti (adapted from epicurious.com)
This is one of the easiest dessert recipes I’ve ever encountered, and to make it even easier I’ve converted it to a “one-pot” style recipe. As long as you keep a bottle of Riesling or other sweet wine on hand you’ll be able to whip this up with whatever fruit you have. (Last summer I didn’t end up using all of the $5 bottle of Moscato I got from Trader Joe’s for making clafouti, but it still tasted perfectly good when I used it last night, a YEAR later, after sitting, re-corked, on top of my fridge!)

4-5 ripe nectarines (or the equivalent in weight of plums, peaches, berries, cherries or any combination thereof)
1 C. Riesling or other sweet, fruity wine
5 T. butter
4 eggs
1/2 C. sugar
1/8 t. salt
1/2 C. flour (to make a gluten-free version, use half a cup of whatever GF flour combo or mix you would usually use for pancakes)
1 C. milk/hemp milk/rice milk/soy milk
1 T. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.

Cut fruit into 1/4-inch wedges (or pit and halve cherries) and macerate in a bowl with the wine for 15 minutes. Leave peels on fruit – they add to a colorful presentation.

Melt butter in a medium-sized pot over low heat. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then whisk in eggs, sugar, salt. Whisk in flour until combined well. Whisk in, until smooth, milk, vanilla, and 1/4 C. wine from the fruit mix.

Transfer fruit to bottom of baking dish using a slotted spoon. Pour batter over fruit (fruit will float to top). (The rest of the wine the fruit soaked in can now be used for sangria or just sipped straightaway!)

Bake in upper third of the oven until puffed and set in the center, 55-60 minutes. Transfer clafouti to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers make a decadent but still vaguely “healthy” breakfast – hey, it’s fruit and eggs, right?