Green Tacos

I needed to use up kale from my garden before it went to seed. And I was in the mood for tacos. So I decided to try this recipe for sweet potato and kale taco filling. The recipe calls for grated sweet potatoes. I was a little skeptical of this, but I was pleasantly surprised. The texture was great in the tacos. The recipe is super fast and easy and very tasty. I made it with this tempeh chorizo recipe and kidney beans. The combo was great. I’ll definitely make this again. In fact I already bought another sweet potato!

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/green-tacos

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

I have a robust sweet tooth. For years I’ve been purchasing my sweets. My go-tos were frozen yogurt bars and bittersweet chocolate, with the occasional pint of lactose free ice cream thrown in. But recently, I listened to a Science Vs. podcast episode on processed foods. The episode featured a scientist describing ultra-processed foods as Clorox for your gut, taking all the good bacteria with them as they went through. That image really stuck with me. I have a lot of issues with my gut. So I decided to start making my own desserts.

This recipe for “vegan chocolate pudding” was my first attempt. The recipe calls for Mexican spices, but since I had fruit in the chococate I was using, I left those spices out. I used 1/2 cup of sugar instead of the 3/4 cup called for and found that to be enough. But I like super dark bittersweet chocolate. The recipe is ridiculously simple, essentially just chocolate, sugar, and silken tofu. But oh my goodness the result. It wasn’t really a pudding, but rather an ultra thick, rich, chocolate mousse. The kind that you only need a bit of to feel satisfied. I think in order to make it more like a pudding, you’d need to add an extra 4 oz of silken tofu.

I honestly cannot believe how good this was. I particularly enjoyed dipping strawberries in it. And amazingly, it was so rich that I found I had fewer sweets cravings throughout the day when I ate a bit of this at night. So far my homemade desserts experiment is looking like a success.

Next time I’m going to use baking chocolate so that I can better control the sweetness level. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Smoky Beet and Quinoa Burgers

I have been craving a good veggie burger lately. My favorite veggie burger place closed down during Covid and I haven’t been able to find anything good enough to replace it. So I decided to try myself. I had recently made way too much quinoa for another recipe, so I looked for recipes that included quinoa. I found this recipe and was intrigued by its inclusion of beets and smoky flavors. The recipe was straight-forward enough to make, but it required quite a bit of advance planning since you need to pre-cook a number of items and then refrigerate the mixture. It calls for barbecue sauce, which I don’t keep in the house, and didn’t feel like making a whole recipe or buying a whole bottle to use the two tbsp this recipe calls for. So instead, I looked at a few recipes and approximated using these proportions:

1 tbsp tomato paste

2 tsp vinegar

3/4 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/8 tsp mustard powder

I also added several tsp of salt to taste (maybe 3?), which were missing from the recipe.

The recipe made about 11 burgers. It said to bake them for 15 minutes, but I ended up baking closer to 40. Hard to say how much of that was my broken oven and how much was the recipe though. I basically just checked ever 15 minutes until they were somewhat dried out and seemed like they would hold together.

I really enjoyed the flavor of these burgers and would definitely try making these again. However, the texture was more mushy than I would have liked. I think I’d try replacing the 1 cup almond flour with 3/4 cup gluten flour 1/4 cup almond flour and adding a kneading step. All in all, not a bad first try at a yummy veggie burger full of healthy

1 recipe made 11 burgers.

Note: I realized that I missed the tsp of soy sauce in the recipe. So that’s likely why I needed to add the salt.

Rice Noodles with Eggs, Broccoli, and Dark Soy Sauce

Recently, one of my neighbors was giving away a bunch of vegetarian cookbooks. In the pile was Real Vegetarian Thai by Nancie McDermott, a cookbook I know my mother owns and likes.

The first recipe I tried was this rice noodle dish from page 164. Nancie describes the dish as easy to prepare and indeed it was. I could see myself making this on a weeknight when I want something comforting and indulgent as an alternative to ordering take out.

The recipe calls for a dark sweet soy sauce called si-yu but offers an alternative combo of regular soy sauce and brown sugar. I used this option since I didn’t have si-yu. But next time I go to the asian market I’ll be looking for si-yu so I can try making this again. The other change I made was reducing the oil. Nancie calls for 3 tbsp. I only used 4 tsp. Next time I think I’d try cutting it to 1 tbsp since the dish was still pretty high calorie.

I followed the timing of the dish carefully and the veggies came out crisp, just like I like them. The flavor of the dish was peppery and savory. And the eggs add a creamy aspect. Very yummy. Nancie calls for offering chili vinegar as a condiment, but I didn’t have any. So instead I used about a teaspoon of rice vinegar on each bowl, which added to the flavor. I’d like to pick up chili vinegar for the next time I make this.

Update: So far I’ve made this twice, once for myself and once for my sister’s family while in Germany. It was a hit both times. Easy, tasty, filling, and indulgent. A very good weeknight dish indeed. The only issue we had with the dish was the ratio of pasta to broccoli. Everyone, including my seven-year-old niece, agreed it needed more broccoli. Although I think I messed up the proportions when I made it for my sister’s family, so it probably was more that than the recipe. Still, I’d do 4 cups of broccoli instead of 3 and probably 7 ounces of pasta instead of 8 and see how that went. The other issue I had both times was volume. Flipping this recipe without a big wok is really hard. Next time I’m going to try making it in my cast iron dutch oven and see how that goes instead.

Green Bean Salad with Spicy Thai Dressing

I made a modified version of this thai green bean salad as a side to tofu larb. I omitted the dried shrimp and used cashews instead of peanuts since I didn’t have peanuts on hand. I enjoyed the salad. It was quick to make and very tasty. The only thing is it really needed to marinate for two days before the flavor fully soaked into the green beans.

https://www.delicious.com.au/recipes/green-bean-salad-spicy-thai-dressing/d8f3d75f-9612-4c0f-883d-046071c93b8b

Tofu Larb

I was recently turned on to the miracle of tofu lettuce wraps by a friend. This recipe for a vegetarian twist on Laotian larb intrigued me. The recipe is essentially a Laotian-flavored tofu salad in leaves of lettuce. Since I’ve never eaten traditional larb, I have nothing to compare it to.

I didn’t mind these, but didn’t love them either. The tofu mixture just wasn’t quite flavorful enough to keep my attention for more than one meal. Plus, every time I saw the mixture in the fridge, it just made me crave my favorite spiced tofu salad recipe. I did enjoy the interesting texture created by the toasted rice powder and fried onions. An interesting recipe to try, but I don’t think I’ll make it for a main course again. Though it might make a nice appetizer for a Thai/Laotian dinner. One commenter recommended adding vegan fish paste. I might try that for more flavor.

Roasted Yellow Beet Salad with Warm Maple-Mustard Dressing

I very rarely make salad recipes from my cookbooks, but I’m trying to add more raw vegetables to my diet. My new cookbook Isa Does It includes a number of intriguing salad recipes. Since I love beets, I picked out this recipe for arugula salad with walnuts and beets as the first one to try.

I used red beets instead of golden beets since they’re easier to find and I think they taste better anyways. The dressing is literally just maple syrup and whole grain mustard, which seemed really strange to me. This is not the type of dressing I ever make. But I actually really enjoyed the dressing. My main issue with the salad was that there were so many red onions in it and the dressing alone wasn’t enough to break their sharpness. I added a 1/4 cup of halved green grapes, which successfully cut the sharpness of the onions and rounded out the flavor of the salad overall.

I ran out of dressing before I ran out of salad. Next time I’d make 1.5x the recipe. Also online she adds 1 tbsp of water to the dressing, which I’d try next time to thin it out a bit.

Mushroom Hot Pot

We’ve gotten back to back winter storms in Durham this week, so I was craving something soothing. I thought this hot pot recipe from Post Punk Kitchen might be just the thing.

I liked but didn’t love the recipe. The broth was pretty good, but not quite as flavorful as I’d expected. I didn’t put star anise in the broth since I didn’t have any. There weren’t nearly enough mushrooms in my opinion. Maybe it would have been more flavorful if I had added them. I used broccoli, tofu, and rice noodles as my optional add-ins. But they didn’t really seem to go that well with the broth. Maybe rice would have been better?

Overall not bad. But I’m not sure it was good enough to make again.

Leek Top Risotto

I love leeks, and I’ve never been convinced that anyone should throw away leek tops (also known as leek leaves). But most recipes only call for using the white and light green parts. So I’ve created several of my own recipes to use the tops. I’ve found that ,with a little extra cooking time, they melt in your mouth. Here’s my recipe for a risotto that uses only leek tops. You could certainly add the leek bottoms if you have them, but I usually have leeks on hand because I used the bottoms in another recipe.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Tops of about 5 leeks sliced horizontally in 1/4 inch strips (approximately 3 cups)

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup dry wine (I use red or white, whatever I have on hand)

1-1 1/2 tsp table salt (I use 1 1/4)

3-4 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup grated parmigiano cheese (leave this out to make vegan)

3 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

Salt and black pepper, to taste.

Instructions:

1. In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

2. Add the rice and cook over medium-high heat for about one minute, stirring to coat with the oil.

3. Add the wine and stir until the wine is absorbed.

4. Add 1 tsp of salt

5. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the stock, a half cup at a time, stirring regularly until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding the next half cup. Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process until the mixture is creamy and a bit loose; the rice should still have some chew to it. Add the peas before you add the last 1/2 cup of stock. The process will take about 20 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped parsley and the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Leek and Potato Frittata

I have never made a frittata. When I studied abroad in Chile my host family only knew how to make three vegetarian dishes. One of the three was a tortilla española, which is pretty similar to a frittata. So I ate a lot of tortilla española. They would make them with a all sorts of vegetables, including lettuce. It was the only time in my life I actually moved my food around my plate to make it look like I had eaten. Needless to say, for years I had zero desire to eat anything resembling a tortilla española. But recently I had one made by a Puerto Rican friend of mine and enjoyed it, leaving me more open to re-approaching the genre.

I noticed this recipe in Peter Barley’s Fresh Food Fast for a Leek and Potato Frittata that I had previously overlooked for aforementioned reasons. I really like leeks so this seemed like the perfect way to dip my toe into the frittata waters. This was really easy to make, a great weeknight recipe.

I made a mistake when reading the recipe and failed to notice that it called for 3 tsp of coarse sea salt and instead used 3 tsp table salt. Once I realized the frittata was way way to salty, there was little I could do about it. I added two extra eggs but the frittata was still very very salty. My sister told me she always halfs the salt in Peter Barley’s recipes, but I think that 1.5 tsp of table salt probably would have been fine. Even though I added the two extra eggs to address the saltiness issue, I think this was the right ratio of veggies to eggs. Without the two extra eggs, there wouldn’t have been enough egg to fully cover the vegetables.

I used 3 tbsp of salt instead the 4 called for. I think I could probably reduce it to 2 tbsp next time. You can see in the photo that the frittata was fairly oily.

Other than the salt issue, I really liked this recipe. It was flavorful, filling, and easy to make. I’m going to try making it again with less salt and less oil.