Thursday, September 20, 2018

Insulated Jar & Sides #40

Tarragon cucumber salad, baked beans, and macaroni salad. The beans are canned; I am having a hard time. But this salad was easy and I could make a big batch to get me through the week.

A while ago, I started getting a hankering (somewhat less than a craving) for the deli macaroni salad sold in nearly every grocery store across America. So I found a recipe to veganize, and here we are! This tastes like I remember that tasting. It's not quite as saucy as that sometimes was, but you can always double the dressing if you want it saucier.

I put parsley on it as a garnish, but that's totally optional.

Classic Macaroni Salad
Serves 4-6

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1/2 cup vegan mayo (I used reduced fat Vegenaise)
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 mini sweet peppers, chopped, or 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 small carrot, grated
Parsley for garnish (optional)

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain, rinse in cold water, and drain again.

Meanwhile, whisk mayo, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and salt and pepper.

Combine macaroni and vegetables with dressing.

Chill for an hour or overnight to meld flavors. When serving/packing, garnish with parsley.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Laptop Lunches #301

Tarragon cucumber salad (it's the Scandinavian cucumber salad from Cookery for 1 or 2 made with tarragon), carrot salad in a walnut vinaigrette (from Healthy Cooking for Two (or Just You), cornichons, the pickled onions from the jar of cornichons, dijon mustard, off-brand Ritz crackers, and vegan mushroom-walnut pate.

Apparently, I was in the mood for French fusion food.

The flavor of cornichons and dijon mustard with this pate is hard to beat. I've previously made sandwiches of that filling but it's also great on crackers. The cracker version has the added bonus of photographing much better. I don't usually like cornichons that much but in this combination I can't stop eating them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Laptop Lunches #300

Skillet bulgur-mushroom casserole (recipe below), an attempt at veganizing a mixed berry Oklahoma cobbler, green beans, and carrots.

I've been trying to revisit the omnivore cookbooks I used before I went vegan and remaking recipes as vegan recipes. I never actually made the bulgur casserole as an omnivore but it looked really good and also easy to veganize, so I tried it. It's really good! Creamy comfort food. And if you're looking for budget recipes, bulgur is very cheap. Actually, everything here was really cheap.

As for the attempt to veganize the Oklahoma cobbler, for whatever reason, the fruit didn't sink. In Oklahoma and Texas, cobbler is often put in the oven with the fruit on top and it sinks to the bottom while it cooks. I think I need to swap soy milk for almond or something in this recipe; I don't know. But it tasted good, and maybe I won't bother to change it, because it's kind of pretty with the fruit on top. What would I call it then? Mixed berry cake?

This recipe is adapted from Healthy Cooking for Two (or Just You) by Frances Price.

Skillet Bulgur-Mushroom Casserole
Serves: 2-3

1 tablespoon vegan butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms (I use Baby Bella for these; brown mushrooms are a good, earthy choice for this recipe)
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions or shallots
2 cups chicken-style veggie broth
1/2 cup bulgur
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Dash of pepper, or to taste
Non-dairy sour cream (optional)

In a heavy nonstick skillet with a lid, melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms give up their liquid. Don't dry them out--the bulgur will soak up the mushroom water.

Stir in broth and turn up the heat to bring it to a boil. After it boils, add bulgur, thyme, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or the liquid is absorbed and the bulgur is tender.

You can serve it as is--it's quite flavorful this way--or if you need a bit more creaminess or you're just in the mood, stir in up to 1/4 cup of non-dairy sour cream.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Lunchopolis #55

This is a salad I've made before in a few different variations, but this one was as follows: Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, a Boca chick'n patty cut into strips, onion croutons, black olives, and my homemade dill dressing. I had it with some dark chocolate-coated shortbread cookies I found in the kosher section of my supermarket (the kosher section is pretty great for finding cookies and chocolate without dairy).

I like the Gardein chick'n patties better but I haven't been able to find them anywhere lately.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Restaurant Review: HipCityVeg

Every so often, I find myself in Philadelphia. It's an excellent excuse to visit the best vegan restaurant I ever found: HipCityVeg.

Carrot ginger lemonade, served in a compostable cup with a compostable straw and a compostable lid, starts us off. This stuff is amazing. I'm not usually one to finish my drink when it's that big (read: what most Americans think of as normal, but I digress), but I will finish off every bit of this.

I do not know if any photograph could possibly convey how wonderful the Crispy HipCity Ranch sandwich is. It's more like chicken than chicken. If there were a HipCityVeg where I live I would be broke from eating endless Crispy HipCity Ranch sandwiches. And also probably pretty fat. I have to believe that if one could get fat on vegan food (you can; it's why I had to scale back my non-dairy ice cream habit), this would be a good way to go about it.

I've had other things here (I've had three glorious visits to this place as I passed through the City of Brotherly Love), and the things pictured here are my favorites, but there is no bad food here.

And if you have room, have a chocolate chip cookie. Or, better yet, an Orangesicle milkshake, which is probably substantial enough to stand in for a meal all on its own.

I know I'm effusive, but believe me: Nobody has paid me for any of my opinions, not even in free food.

General thoughts: My absolute favorite vegan restaurant, hands down. I've eaten there with omnivores and they love it, too. If you're in Philly or DC, hit them up. You won't regret it. 5/5

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Pack-a-Snack #95

Pistachio, cardamom, and strawberry bliss balls from Quite Good Food.

The base recipe for these--dates and pistachio balls--is ancient; the cardamom made me want to make them because I love cardamom but I seem to put it in hardly anything. I think maybe I didn't process the nuts and dates enough, because it was very difficult to get these to hold as balls, but I persevered, and the result was rewarding. I used a cookie scoop and pressed the mixture in very firmly until it seemed to hold its shape. They seemed fragile and delicate, but after chilling to firm up they held their shape perfectly well even when they returned to room temperature (they're much better at room temperature than chilled, incidentally).

Friday, September 14, 2018

Temari Rabbit 2-Tier Bento #106

You've seen some of this already: More of the eggy potato salad from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Super Fun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook, some vegan "honey" mustard, cherry tomato halves, the last bit of my tofu nuggets, broccoli, and a makeshift macaroni with a cheesy squash sauce.

I attempted to veganize a recipe of my own invention I made in my previous life as an omnivore, a yellow squash casserole that was something like a timbale. It had pureed squash and onions, eggs, and cheddar, and everyone who ate it always loved it. I thought I'd try veganizing it with tofu to replace the eggs, akin to the tofu omelet muffins I've made, and Daiya cheddar, and it definitely, decidedly, did not work. I ended up with tofu-and-squash gruel. But it was tasty gruel, and I figured it might work as a pasta sauce. It was pretty good that way, but I'd welcome suggestions for how to address the problem, because I did really like that casserole!