mustard & ginger pickled carrots

Anyone who knows me knows that, at times, I can lack patience. Give me 200 screaming/whining/complaining teenagers at work and I’ll be fine; but putting me in a traffic jam or expecting me to wait for baked goods to cool before sampling them is just going to end badly. I think this is the reason I’ve never made pickles. Who wants to wait six weeks for vegetables to be ready? I tried pickling cucumbers and cauliflower once using this delicious leftover juice from some pickled radishes my friend got me at Brooklyn Larder, but I ended up breaking down and eating them after about a week. So when I came across a recipe for quick pickling (overnight!) I had to try it. This is from the same magazine by the way, as the grilled strawberry shortcake.
There were several different pickling recipes in the article, and I chose to make the carrot one because I had most of the ingredients already. Peel 10-12 medium sized carrots and cut them into matchsticks – imperfection is fine. Prepare a pot containing 3 cups of water, 2 cups distilled white vinegar, 3 tbs sugar, 3 tbs kosher salt, 3 quarter-size thin slices of fresh ginger, 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced lengthwise, 3 tbs yellow mustard seeds, 1 tbs coriander seeds, and 1/4 tsp red chile flakes (side note- I did not actually have mustard seeds or coriander seeds so I substituted a grainy mustard which is almost all seeds anyway and ground coriander). Bring everything in the pot to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for one minute. Then add the carrots and simmer for another 3 minutes or so. Let everything cool to room temperature and then chill overnight to let the flavors develop. Yes! Just one night.

mustard & ginger pickled carrots


raw food night

So I thought vegan week was a challenge but last night I tackled a three course 100% vegan RAW meal. My friend Rosi is doing a raw food diet cleanse for a week and I was very excited to have her over as my willing guinea pig. First of all, I’ll explain for those wondering “what’s the deal with raw foodism?” The raw food diet is based on the belief that the most nutritious food is uncooked, or heated to less than 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking can denature enzymes (which help us digest food, absorb nutrients, and slow the aging process), kill vital disease-fighting nutrients, and form potentially harmful compounds. Some people find it really beneficial and cleansing to eat raw for a week or two, though it can be harmful if done incorrectly for long periods of time.
Ok, now that you have the “why,” here comes the “what.” A thorough internet search for raw food recipes left me initially discouraged, as it seemed like 80% of them required using a food dehydrator for 10 to 12 hours. So I found this recipe for Raw Spinach Manicotti, which didn’t require any dehydrating, but still had some extensive commitment involved, as I had to soak sunflower seeds and sun dried tomatoes for 4-6 hours. Thank god for my awesome Cuisinart food processor (thanks mom!), which I used for almost every component of this meal! The sunflower seed “cheese” would not have fooled me in a blind taste test, but it was pretty good (I think lots of garlic did the trick) and the tomato sauce was great and I would even make that again for a regular pasta.

Raw spinach manicotti

I also made a side salad of jicama, cucumber, and mango tossed with lime juice, cayenne pepper, and sea salt… pretty much just because I was craving mango. Simple, fresh, summery.

Mango jicama salad

Chocolate avocado pudding

For dessert, I stole an idea from my friend Christy, Personal Trainer/Registered Dietitian/cook extraordinaire! Last fall she made this chocolate pudding using avocado and agave syrup and brought it to a potluck dinner. I know it sounds weird, but you can’t really taste the avocado and it’s the creamiest most delicious stuff ever. In a food processor, just throw in one ripe avocado, 1/4 cup agave nectar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 cup water, 2 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp sea salt. When Christy made it she added shredded coconut on top – I opted for fresh strawberries since I had them left over from the other night’s grilled strawberry shortcake.

So I could totally eat raw food recipes (not all the time) if they didn’t take all day to make. Maybe a raw food week is in my future… one day. A great experiment, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Rosi is feeling after a whole week of this!


a simple summer pizza & salad

Even though the thought of turning my oven up to 500 in the summer makes me want to take an ice bath, I really wanted to make a simple summer pizza for dinner. I found this recipe for Caramelized Onion & Artichoke Pizza from Eating Well, and paired it with a salad of heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber, avocado, and basil, dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and ground coriander. Actually I used one yellow heirloom tomato, and a bunch of really fresh organic sliced grape tomatoes. I also bought pre-cut watermelon (if you think I’m buying a whole watermelon to tackle in a kitchen without counter space, you’re crazy). You could also add feta, or any sort of similar cheese, to this if you wanted.

Heirloom tomato & watermelon salad

For the pizza, I didn’t use the dough recipe they suggested. I wanted to use whole wheat dough, and intended to make it myself (you can just google whole wheat pizza dough recipes and find one you like), until I realized I was running out of time and ended up cheating and buying a round of pre-made whole wheat dough from one of my favorite stores, Union Market. Despite a few frustrations rolling out the dough (again, counter space… and the fact that my rolling pin is used to hold the window open), and the oven filling my apartment with smoke, it was a success! Really delicious. (And note: without the sprinkling of parmesan cheese, it would be totally vegan).

Caramelized onion & artichoke pizza


edamame salad

So I did an extra day of vegan-ism, unintentionally really. I had so many leftovers in my fridge to eat! My friend Jonill came over for dinner last night, because I had promised to make her veggie sushi after my first attempt last week. This time I did an avocado-cucumber roll and a tofu-carrot-grilled asparagus roll, both made with brown rice. I also made the veggie summer rolls with peanut dipping sauce that I made for Vegan Week day 2. I had some edamame in the freezer, and wanted to make some sort of edamame salad to round out the meal. Most of the recipes I saw involved corn, which is not what I was going for. I came across this recipe though, which was perfect. I had to go buy furikake (after looking up what it was first!) and I just used one large orange pepper instead of five small multicolored peppers – which would have made it look even more colorful than it did. I also sauteed the shiitakes briefly in sesame oil, because they didn’t taste that great after just soaking in water. Now to think of things to do with a giant container of furikake…

Edamame salad with shiitake, orange pepper, and furikake


Vegan Week, Day 7

Day 7: Brunch
A Sunday morning and the last official day of Vegan Week clearly calls for pancakes. Blueberry pancakes! I came across this simple recipe and replaced the soy milk with almond milk, since that’s what I had in the fridge. The pancakes fluffed up very nicely and tasted great. My boyfriend said he’d eat these pancakes in place of regular pancakes any time.

Vegan blueberry pancakes

Day 7: Dinner
I ate seitan (mock duck) last night, but I still hadn’t cooked with it, so on tonight’s menu was Seitan Gyros with vegan tzatziki sauce and arugula salad. I made a slightly different twist on this recipe, mostly with changes to the tzatziki sauce. I used plain coconut yogurt, because I didn’t see any plain soy at the store, just flavored (another recipe I saw suggested toffuti sour cream which actually might have been the best choice here). There was still a lot of sweetness to the coconut yogurt though, so I left out the sugar, doubled the lemon juice, replaced the dill weed with oregano, and added two large cloves of minced garlic, and a dash of cayenne, cumin, and paprika. The coconut yogurt is still an odd consistency if you’re used to greek yogurt, but it tasted good once I added all that extra spice. I got lazy and bought seitan strips so I didn’t have to shave a 1 pound block of seitan. The cooking itself was a little tricky – I think I needed more oil maybe? – but the gyro, once assembled, came out great! But very messy.

Seitan gyro with vegan tzatziki sauce

 

Day 7: Dessert

You can’t do a whole vegan week without attempting to make a dessert. And anyone who knows me knows my addiction to peanut butter.

Vegan peanut butter blondies

So vegan peanut butter blondies? Yes please! Insanely simple to make, but definitely heed the advice to wait until completely cooled until cutting (I couldn’t wait to taste it, so the edge crumbled). They were so good I had to give a bunch away otherwise I was afraid I’d eat the entire pan full. If these couldn’t fool a non-vegan, nothing could.

So this ends vegan week. I have to say I didn’t miss much except seafood. No cheese, egg, or meat cravings, no mood swings, and I feel like I’ve eaten a ton this week and never felt deprived or hungry! There are still tons of vegan recipes I’d like to make in the future, and I will try to post them when I do.