Monday, January 16, 2012

Vegan Pizza

Being vegan is getting easier the more time goes by. I am finding out that Mexican is really easy to do vegan and even went to an amazing vegan restaurant this weekend with some other 1-month vegan friends. The restaurant was called Dao Palate. The dinners were great but I was even more impressed with my soy cheesecake!

During the day I do a lot of different kinds of salads with vegan leftovers. One of my favorites is a cucumber, tomato, and onion salad. It is just those ingredients and a little salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. It is very tasty! The salads are good, but not very challenging or as exciting to blog about. This week I make vegan comfort food in the form of pizza…..twice.

The first pizza is something my mom always made when we were kids, Greek Pizza. It is just some pita, with humus instead of sauce, and lots of veggies on top. It was very good with Rich's homemade hummus. The ingredients are below.

Rich's Hummus
2 cup of chick peas soaked overnight
4-6 tbsp of tahini
4 lemons squeezed
1 head garlic
salt, pepper, cayenne, and Hungarian paprika for seasoning

Method: 1. Soak the chickpeas overnight. 2. Empty old water and bring chickpeas to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Keep them on simmer about 1-11/2 hours until the chickpeas can easily squish in your hand. 3. Save the water that you simmered the chickpeas in. This is really important, we found that our hummus comes out much better with this water. 4. Drain the chickpeas and let them cool (save about 2 cups of this liquid, let this cool as well). 5. When the chickpeas have cooled put them in a blender with the tahini, lemon, and minced garlic. 6. Add the liquid until you achieve the desired consistency. Remember, your hummus will thicken up once it goes into the fridge, so don't be afraid to make it a little more liquidy then you would like it. 7. Add spices to desired taste.

Greek Pizza Recipe

4 pieces of vegan pita
Fresh hummus (see recipe above)
1 small onion
2 medium tomatos
5 olives
Artichoke hearts
1 Avocado
Hungarian Paprika to spice.

1. Put the hummus onto the pita like you would pizza sauce on dough, covering most of the pita but leaving a little room on the sides. 2. Chop up and grill onion. 3. Divide the chopped onion, tomatoes, olives, and artichoke hearts evenly among the 4 pitas. 4. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. 5. Cut up some avocado into small cubes and place it on top of the pizza. 6. Sprinkle a little Hungarian Paprika on top.

We also made a fabulous regular vegan pizza based on the ones we used to love at Whole Foods. For years I hated any kind of vegan cheese. I thought they always had a nasty aftertaste. Then I tried the vegan pizza at Whole Foods. I really liked the cheese and started buying it. It is by a company called daiya . It is not very good plain, but cooked it actually tastes like cheese. The pizza tasted just as good as the one we used to get at Whole Foods and we both enjoyed it immensely!

Soy Cheese Pizza Ingredients
1 vegan pizza dough (most pizza dough is vegan, just ask to be sure)
1/2 jar of pizza sauce
1/2 package daiya mozzarella
10-12 mushrooms
1 onion grilled
4 cloves of garlic
Onion powder, dried oregano, thyme, and pepper to spice.

1. Spread out the pizza dough on a greased cookie sheet or pizza stone. 2. Liberally pour the sauce on the pizza. 3. Mince garlic and mix into the sauce. 4. Add vegan cheese. 5. Add chopped, grilled onion and all of the other chopped veggies. 6. Sprinkle onion powder, dried herbs, salt and pepper on the pizza. 7. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mushroom Risotto and Lime Cupcakes

One of the problems with being vegan for a month is that my friends don't realize I am vegan and are not prepared when coming over for dinner. When a few of my friends from college said they were going to be in town I was excited to have them over in my new apartment. Afterwards I remembered that it might be hard to make a dinner that everyone would enjoy with vegan ingredients. I imagined serving them hummus, carrots, and maybe some vegan chili. Not very exciting. Not to mention one of our friends is a chef. I wanted to make something more gourmet. I came upon a mushroom risotto recipe (one of our favorite dishes anyway) that could be made using vegan ingredients. I left out the parmesan that I usually add and just grated parmesan for my friends to put on their dishes. It turned out great and it wasn't a traditional vegan meal.

I knew just what to do for dessert. I have long been into vegan baking. Last year for Christmas, my mom got me Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I have tried out several of the recipes thus far and all of them have been amazing. Last year, Rich and I were having some friends over for dinner and we decided to have a bake off. He made the Vegan Coconut Lime Cupcakes and I made the Vegan Oreo Cookie Cupcakes. We didn't tell our friends who made which cupcake and they had to vote on their favorite. They were both delicious, but he won the contest. Naturally I decided to make these winning cupcakes again. Now that we had the recipe down, I was able to focus more on the presentation. I got some winter snowflake cupcake papers and put a piece of lime wedge in each cupcake.

Mushroom Risotto

6 cups mushroom broth, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 pound white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 shallots, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp italian herbs
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.
Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions. Cook about 5 minutes until soft and slightly brown.
In a separate sauce pan put the mushrooms on medium-high heat and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.
Add rice to the first sauce pan, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid and chives. Season with pepper to taste.

Everything came out great. The only problem…..our chef friend hates mushrooms! Next time maybe I will do an asparagus risotto for them. :)

Vegan Lime Cupcakes
I cannot add this recipe since it is directly from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (I didn't really change it) but I highly recommend the book!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 2 of Vegan!

My fiance and I like to challenge ourselves with a little detox diet for the month of January. After all of the holiday food and drink it helps us to feel a little less guilty. It is also fun to create new dishes we would never have otherwise tried! This year we decided to do Vegan, no alcohol, and no caffeine for the month of January.

I have decided to take it a little further this year and have a food goal for each month and then blog about it! The other months won't be quite so intense (although maybe a few will be. My sister is trying a raw food month). For example, I would like to create 2 Indian dishes a week in the month of February. It won't effect my daily food intake as much but it will push me to cook new foods.

We have had some minor set backs thus far. Last night, we went to see the Giant's game at a bar in Park Slope. We already had our vegan dinner an hour earlier and so we weren't very hungry. We felt guilty ordering seltzer, tea and some guacamole when we knew we were going to be staying for a while. My fiance (Rich) looked at me after the bar tender came back to see what drink we would be having. He decided to take one for the team and have a drink or two. My brother, who was also with us, gladly joined him. We decided we would just have to add one day on to our month. That was setback number 1. Today we went for a nice long run through Prospect Park and were starving afterwards. We talked about how excited we were to have a vegan carrot muffin at the Park Slope Food Co-op. There was a blueberry muffin next to the carrot, I just happened to grab it. "Wow! I cannot believe how good this vegan muffin is! I will have to figure out how to make mine this good!" I said as I ate it. Afterwards, I looked at the label. Butter, sugar, and milk were among the first ingredients. Humm…I guess not ALL of the muffins are vegan, just the carrot one. Oh well, one more day added on!

Things got better this evening when I made some great peanut butter sesame vegan cookies! I used a recipe from Veganomicon as a base. It just called for too much sugar and brown rice syrup which I didn't have. I altered it a little and they came out great! The recipe is below.

Peanut Butter Sesame Vegan Cookies!

2 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1/2 cup smooth unsalted peanut butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup candied ginger chopped (I would add more next time)
1/2 cup white sesame seeds for rolling


Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.

In another bowl, mix the Earth Balance, sugar, peanut butter, soy milk, and vanilla together.

Stir in flour mixture with a spatula.

Fold in ginger candy.

Roll in sesame seeds.

Bake at 350 for 11 minutes.

They were very tasty and not too sweet!