Corn for breakfast

I was lying on the couch, paging through Veganomicon for the millionth time when a recipe jumped out at me, the way that recipes like to do. “Corn pudding!,” I called over to Duck in the next room. I described it to him. “Breakfast!,” he called back. He has been my most stalwart ally in the breakfast struggles – looking out for gluten-free, egg-free, non-cereal breakfast solutions even when it’s the furthest thing from my mind.

Vegan corn pudding

So this morning (er, afternoon… it is Sunday) we decided to give it a try. We have these new (new to us, cast-offs from Duck’s dad) cast iron pans that we’ve been enjoying and getting used to, and I’ve always been so intrigued by those yummy cook-it-in-your-cabin- in-the-woods-style recipes that have you bake stuff right in the cast iron pan. We had to use frozen corn as the days of summer corn have long passed, and happily we had pre-minced some chilis and tucked them in the freezer (a mix of serranos and jalapenos, packaged with foresight into single-chili-sized packets). The other ingredients were cornmeal, maple syrup, cayenne, an intriguingly thick mixture of coconut milk and cornstarch, and a full cup of scallions.

We prepared everything and then slid the pan into the oven to wait eagerly the 45 minutes until our breakfast would emerge. I was less than impressed when I pulled it out of the oven. It just didn’t have a lot of presence, visually, and looked like it might be kind of dry, like an unpleasant variety of cornbread. But then I tasted it, and it was good – soft, creamy, sweet. It also had a very familiar quality I couldn’t identify until Duck said, “I bet this would taste great with vegan sour cream or yogurt.”

I applied a dollop of goat yogurt and took a bite. There it was! Latkes! The combination of the strong onion flavor from the scallions and the crisp flavor and texture from cooking in the iron pan was so reminiscent of latkes that I had a whole Southwest-Jewish medley dancing its way across my taste buds. Duck and I slathered our next slices with vegan sour cream/yogurt and applesauce and they were fantastic! Probably a topping Isa and Terry never imagined, but those ladies are nothing if not encouraging of eating outside the box.

I’m not going to give you the recipe, because you probably already own Veganomicon, and if you don’t, you might want to give it some serious thought. It’s not the best cookbook I own, or the one I use most often, but it’s so well written that reading it is an awful lot of fun, it’s packed with recipes, all of them vegan, and it is so considerately written, with indications on each recipe to tell you if it’s fast, gluten-free, avoids the use of soy, or can be made from ingredients easily found at any supermarket. So cooks, start your engines and turn to page 151 of your Vcons! This recipe can easily be made gluten-free by use of GF cornstarch (although there is debate about whether such a thing exists) or subbing your favorite GF thickener.

Everything’s Better with Brandy

Lentil Soup with Brandy

A while ago I came across a recipe for lentil soup with bourbon, a combination which makes me feel that through the sheer power of its ingredients alone it will conjure into being a roaring fire and possibly even some kind of alpine hut to go along with it. Perfect winter soup, in other words. Tonight I wanted something warm, and relatively simple, and filling, preferably with protein. But it turned out the aforementioned recipe called for red lentils, which I’m somehow out of, and of course bourbon, which I don’t own.

Veganomicon Cookbook!

I did, however, have brown and French green lentils, a big bottle of brandy I use for cooking, and a shiny new copy of the amazing Veganomicon, a perfect Chanukah present from my mom for both Duck (vegan) and me (cookbook-obsessed vegetarian girlfriend of vegan).

I decided to make Veganomicon‘s yummy-sounding French Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme. At the end I added my own finishing touch – fresh spinach and a generous splash (well, more of a pour, really) of brandy. And I can now state quite confidently that, when it comes to lentil soup, at least, everything’s better with brandy.

Recipe can be found beyond the “more” below. Continue reading