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SusanV I'm SusanV, and I love good food. Join me as I create delicious dishes made with whole foods and without a lot of processed fat and sugar. Want to know more? Check out my FAQs, look through my recipe index, or get inside info on Facebook. Like what you see? Then subscribe to receive email updates. But above all, enjoy!


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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sichuan Tofu with Garlic Sauce

Sichuan Tofu with Garlic Sauce

My family had only one complaint about this meal: there wasn't enough of it.

I'd been looking for fresh water chestnuts ever since I saw the recipe for Chicken with Garlic Sauce on the food blog that has taught me the most about Chinese cooking, Barbara Fisher's Tigers and Strawberries. According to Barbara, the recipe benefits from using fresh rather than canned water chestnuts, so I went off looking for them right after she posted the recipe. Unfortunately, if the small Asian grocery store near me has them, I couldn't find them, so I pushed the recipe to the back of my mind until last weekend when I happened to find fresh water chestnuts on my visit to the huge Hong Kong Market in Terrytown, Louisiana.

Water ChestnutsI'd never bought or cooked with fresh water chestnuts before, so I didn't know what to expect. After peeling off the dark outer layer, I cut off a thin slice to taste and was amazed at how much sweeter it was than the canned ones, which have always seemed to me to be all crunch and no flavor. If you can find them, it's worth the time it takes to peel and slice them, but a word of caution: check them carefully to make sure they have no soft spots or indentations. A couple of the ones I bought in haste turned out to be unusable, and a few others had to be radically trimmed; it's probably best to buy a few more than you need. If you can't find them, Barbara suggests substituting fresh jicama root, though in such a flavorful sauce as this, I think the canned variety would be okay, though not optimum.

The real star of this dish isn't the water chestnuts; it's the incredible sweet and spicy sauce. My vegan version is less spicy than the original (I'm feeding a spice-intolerant 10-year-old) but it's still bursting with the flavors of garlic, green onion, and ginger. Besides using tofu instead of chicken, I made very few changes other than reducing the amounts of black pepper and chili sauce and modifying the marinade to account for the fact that tofu absorbs marinade more readily than chicken. I did have to leave out the black cloud ear fungus because I just didn't have it, but all in all, I think I remained true to the original recipe.

But the next time I make this dish, I plan to double the sauce and add broccoli or another vegetable, just to make it stretch further. I served it with some steamed brown rice and stir-fried tiny bok choy, but we're all big eaters so it fed the three of us with no leftovers. And this is one of those times when we'd have loved to have leftovers to enjoy the next day.

Sichuan Tofu with Garlic Sauce

Sichuan Tofu with Garlic Sauce
(printer-friendly version)

1 pound firm or extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup warm vegetable broth
1 tbsp. Shao Hsing wine, or dry sherry
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (up to one tablespoon)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons black rice vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shao Hsing wine, or dry sherry
2 tablespoons agave nectar or sugar
1 teaspoon chili garlic paste (up to 2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
6 large cloves garlic, minced (up to 1 head)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 bunch green onions
8 fresh water chestnuts
2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved into 2 tsp. water

Cut the tofu widthwise into 1/2-inch slices. Then cut each slice widthwise into 1/2-inch by 1 1/2-inch sticks. Put the pieces in a ziplock bag and add the vegetable broth, 1 tbsp. wine, and 1 tbsp. soy sauce. Let it marinate, turning the bag every few minutes, while you prepare the vegetables and sauce.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the vinegars, 2 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tbsp. wine, agave nectar or sugar, chili garlic paste, and sesame oil. Set aside.

Peel and slice the water chestnuts and cut each slice into shreds, about three pieces per slice. Slice the green onions thinly, separating the dark green tops from the light green and white parts.

Spray a large non-stick skillet with oil, and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the light-colored scallion slices, the garlic, and the ginger, and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Spray the skillet again, and add the tofu and its marinade to the pan, making sure the tofu is in a single layer. When the marinade has evaporated, carefully turn the tofu (which should be light brown on the bottom) and cook the other side until brown. Add the green onion mixture back to the pan and cook, stirring for another minute.

Add the water chestnuts and sauce and bring to a boil. Add cornstarch and water and simmer until thickened and glossy. Remove from heat and garnish with green onion tops.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 167 Calories (kcal); 5g Total Fat; (28% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 471mg Sodium; 1g Fiber.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Post-Thanksgiving Miscellaneous Edition

We had a good Thanksgiving visit with my husband's family in New Orleans, but I'm glad to be back home. A couple of people wanted to know what the Soy and Seitan "Turkey" was like, so I thought I'd post our impressions along with a couple of photos.

Seitan Roast

Here's how it looked just after it came out of the oven. I cooked it in my Chinese claypot, and when it went in, it was a small oval shape. By the time I turned it for the first time, it had grown to fill the pot and start to double back on itself. It wound up being somewhat misshapen, but it looked scarily like an animal roast. It took about 4 hours to cook.

seitan-roast-sliced

The texture inside was very dense in the middle but more porous on the outer edges. We kind of liked the taste of the porous parts best because they were more flavorful from the cooking broth. Overall, it was chewier than regular seitan and not quite as tender. We weren't really impressed right at first but then we sliced it very thin using a mandolin and made roast seitan poboys. That's sliced seitan roast and hot gravy on French bread with vegan mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes. Out of this world! D and I were "ummmm"-ing and "ohhhh"-ing so much that it sounded obscene. It tasted amazingly like the roast beef poboys we grew up eating. That's enough reason for me to make this seitan roast again.

The recipe made a huge amount, especially considering that D and I were the only ones eating it. (E doesn't really care for seitan, except Ribz. I heated her a few slices with barbeque sauce, and she would eat only one.) We've had leftovers for at least one meal a day every day since Thursday and still have enough left for another 2 or 3 days.

I was very happy with the other dishes I made for the big day--Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping, Cranberry Relish, and Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake--but there was so much food at the dinner that my dishes kind of got lost in the crowd. We didn't mind at all because that meant there was more for us.

St. Charles Streetcar

On Friday, we took a little time to take E and her cousin for a ride on a streetcar. The St. Charles' Avenue streetcar line reopened about two weeks ago after being shut down for over two years since hurricane Katrina. Neither E nor her cousin A had ever been on a streetcar, and they were both happy to get to take a ride.

St. Charles Streetcar

St. Charles Ave. Streetcar

If you look closely, you can see E through the back window. The car was so full that they had to stand for the first part of the trip. (Don't worry--D rode along with them!)

I stayed behind and took a few photos around Lee Circle. My favorites are these of the Lee statue reflected in a window of the Circle Bar:

lee-circle-bar1

lee-circle-bar-2

No trip to New Orleans would be complete for me without a visit to the Hong Kong Market. If it didn't smell like fish, this huge Asian foods store would be heaven on Earth! I guess I don't make a very good locavore because I love shopping here for produce from all over the world. In addition to baby eggplants and baby bok choy, I picked up a whole bag of some green vegetables that look like tiny bok choy, about an inch tall. I also found something I've been wanting for a while:

Water Chestnuts

Fresh water chestnuts! I've been hoping to veganize this recipe ever since I saw it, and now it looks like I'll be able to. Hmmm...I wonder how it'd be with leftover seitan roast.

Finally, here's the reason I was so anxious to get home:

Clementine

About 2 weeks ago, we added a new member to our family. Her official name is Clementine, though I call her Tiny and D forgets and calls her Catalina. After hearing me call her tiny so often, E thinks we should rename her Clemen-Tiny!

She really is tiny, so it was hard to leave her here alone with our three other cats, who want nothing to do with her. Still, I thought it would be better than being in a cage at a kennel for three days, and it looks like she used the time to get better acquainted with two of the cats. Domino, however, still won't tolerate her. He's used to being the baby of the family, and it's going to take him a while to come around. But he will. Who could resist this face?


Tiny

Hope you all had a great holiday and got home safely to your loved ones!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

[Insert standard "this is not a fat-free recipe" disclaimer here. Geez, what was I thinking when I named this blog!]

I know most of you who celebrate Thanksgiving have already figured out your menus. I'm probably the only slacker who still doesn't know what she's cooking! I'm lucky, though. I'm going to my in-laws' celebration which is essentially a huge pot-luck. We can usually count on there being some side dishes prepared vegan just for us, so I can get away with bringing just a dish or two. At this point, I'm relatively sure that I'm making Bryanna's Soy and Seitan "Turkey," but I'm absolutely positive that I'm making this:

Vegan Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

This pumpkin cheesecake is without a doubt the most delicious dessert I've had in a long time. The bottom layer is lightly flavored with lemon, while the top layer is pumpkin-flavored without being heavy; eaten together, they're just plain heaven. No, it's not fat-free, but I challenge you to find a lower-fat cheesecake that tastes this good. Also, it relies on agave nectar for much of its sweetness, so if you're concerned about the glycemic index, that's another point in its favor. But I warn you--you won't be able to stop at just one piece of this luscious cheesecake.

Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
(printer-friendly version)

8 ounces Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (look for the non-hydrogenated version in the yellow container)
12 ounces light firm silken tofu (or extra-firm)
1/2 cup agave nectar (or sugar)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned, not pumpkin pie mix)
2 teaspoons rum (optional)
3 tablespoons brown sugar or natural sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg (please!)

1 pre-made 8-inch graham cracker crust (or oatmeal cookie crust)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Put the first set of ingredients (toffuti through vanilla) in a food processor and puree until completely smooth. It should be silky smooth--not chalky or lumpy.

Remove a cup of this mixture from the processor and spread it in the bottom of the crust.

Add the next set of ingredients (pumpkin through nutmeg) to the ingredients remaining in the food processor and process until well blended. Smooth it carefully over the white layer in the crust, heaping it slightly in the middle. Bake until the center is almost set, about 50-60 minutes. (Insert a toothpick. If it comes out liquidy and cold, give it more time, until the center is firm.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 3 hours. Serve to delighted guests. (Don't tell them it's vegan, and they won't know!)

Serves 8. Per serving (not including the crust): 218 Calories (kcal); 7g Total Fat; (28% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 179mg Sodium.

Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

Hope all of you who celebrate it have a happy Thanksgiving. And if you don't celebrate, you may in fact be saving your own life!

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Trying On Thanksgiving

Save the Turkeys by E.V.I make no secret of the fact that I don't really like Thanksgiving. I've tried my best to see it as a time to get together with family without all the commercialization of Christmas, but all the emphasis on food just annoys me. It's probably not surprising that as a vegan I bristle at the whole notion of a holiday focused on killing and eating a big bird, but actually I rejected Thanksgiving long before I became vegetarian. As a child, I'd complain to my mother every year, "Why do we have to have turkey? Why can't we have spaghetti for a change?" It had less to do with my compassion for turkeys and more to do with my inherent rebelliousness. I just didn't like being told that I had to eat certain foods on certain days. Traditions make me cranky. Call me Scrooge, or whatever the Thanksgiving equivalent is.

So it's really out of character for me to have been thinking about the Thanksgiving meal for the last couple of weeks. I blame it on this blog--and reading other food blogs--but recently I've been trying out recipes with half an eye toward how they would fit into a Thanksgiving dinner. As I'm serving them, I don't announce that they're potential T-day recipes, but the aroma of certain seasonings--thyme, sage, rosemary--conjures up the holiday as effectively as those little paper pilgrim hats we used to make in grade school.

During this period of trial and error, I've managed to come up with three recipes that could be considered worthy of serving at The Big Feast. I'm going to give you two of them now. The third, and best, Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake, will have to wait until I've had a chance to take photos of it later today.

First up: Quinoa and Red Lentil Cutlets. I think all the croquette recipes really got to me because when I made these, I consciously stole from two of them. The quinoa and red lentils are straight out of Kristine's Thai Lentil Croquettes, and the seasonings and use of gravy were inspired by Sheree's Southern Blackeyed Pea Croquettes. And the name "cutlets"--you know I stole that from Veganomicon's Chickpea Cutlets. (I only steal from the best.)

Quinoa Red Lentil Cutlets

Quinoa and Red Lentil Cutlets
(printer-friendly version)

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed several times and drained
3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed
1/2 medium onion, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, crushed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or 1/2 tsp. rubbed sage, 1/2 tsp. ground thyme)
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 cup vital wheat gluten

Cook the quinoa and lentils in about 4 cups of water until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

After the quinoa/lentil mixture has cooled enough so that you can handle it easily, drain the excess water and pour the mixture into a large bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients except the gluten and stir well. Mix in the gluten and then use your hands to gently knead the dough for about 5 minutes, to develop the gluten.

Divide the dough in half; then divide each half in half. Then divide each piece in half again until you have 8 pieces. Flatten them so that they're about 1/2-3/4-inch thick and shape them into rectangles. Put them on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Turn each one over and bake for another 10-15 minutes, but be careful not to overcook or they will be dry. Serve hot with your choice of gravy.

Makes 8 cutlets. Each provides: 181 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (4% calories from fat); 22g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 370mg Sodium; 8g Fiber.


Roasted Pumpkin and Vegetables

Roasted Pumpkin and Vegetables

This is a non-recipe, but it's what my husband really wants for Thanksgiving dinner. You can do this with any vegetables, just be aware of their relative cooking times and add them to the oven at the appropriate times.

I started with a small pie pumpkin, which I cut into slices, peeled, and then cut into 1-inch cubes. Any winter squash will work instead (I prefer butternut for its delicate taste and easiness to peel). Put the pumpkin cubes into an oiled baking dish, sprinkle them with seasonings (I used thyme and rosemary) and lightly mist with olive or canola oil. Put into a hot oven (about 425F) and roast for 15 minutes. Stir and return to the oven.

After stirring, you can add your quicker-cooking vegetables. I used halved brussels sprouts, but I put them into a separate baking dish because they were still wet from being washed. Do not add wet vegetables to a hot pyrex baking dish or you risk breaking it. I let them cook for about 10 minutes and then added a package of mushrooms, half a diced red onion, a few cloves of minced garlic, and some more seasonings. I cooked them until the mushrooms were tender and juicy. Then I removed all the vegetables from the oven, poured them into a big bowl, and seasoned them with salt, pepper, and a little balsamic vinegar.

Those were just the vegetables I had in the house, but you can roast any vegetables you want. Some, like okra, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts, take longer to cook; others, such as green pepper, mushrooms, onion, zucchini, yellow summer squash, tomatoes, and eggplant, take less time. Put them in the oven in stages, starting with the starchy vegetables, such as winter squash and potatoes, and ending with the mushrooms and summer squash. Season to taste and enjoy.


Get ready for holiday decadence in my next post!

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Persimmon Bread

PersimmonsIt's persimmon time again, or at least it was, very briefly, in my parents' yard in Louisiana. I got an email a couple of weeks ago from my dad saying that if I wanted persimmons, I'd better come get them because they were rapidly going from ripe to overripe to compost. He'd pick what was left on the trees and hold them for me, but they wouldn't last long.

So last weekend I made a quick trip down to pick up my persimmons, along with boxes full of the citrus fruits--Meyer lemons, naval oranges, satsumas, and calamondins--that were just beginning too ripen. My kitchen now looks like a fruit stand! Fortunately, the citrus will keep, but many of the persimmons were at the use 'em or lose 'em stage. I've been eating them every chance I get, but since I'm the only one in my house who likes them, I knew I had to start cooking with them. My parents mentioned that they had been substituting them for banana in banana bread, so I decided to give that a try and adapted my Cherry-Walnut Banana Bread recipe.

Persimmon Bread

Before I get to the recipe, let me say a word about persimmons. As I've written before, most of the persimmons we get in the U.S. are of two types: the acorn-shaped Hachiya, which needs to be so ripe that it's practically squishy when you eat it or else it will be so astringent that your mouth will pucker, and the more squatty-shaped Fuyu, which is sweet and delicious even when the fruit is still firm. Conventional wisdom says that Hachiyas are the ones you cook with, but I'm going to tell you a secret: If you let Fuyus get ripe enough, they will get soft just like Hachiyas and you can cook with them, too. The persimmons I got from my parents are Fuyus, and they're delciously sweet whether they're firm and crisp or soft and mushy.

Persimmon Bread

I used the soft and mushy ones for this bread, about 6 of them. They had seeds, so what I did was cut them in half and scoop out the seeds and flesh with a grapefruit spoon. I tossed the seeds into a separate bowl and didn't even try to get off the flesh that clung to them--that's just too much work. It's a pretty messy job, so don't take your cutting board and bowls into the family room and watch TV while you're doing it, or you'll get persimmon pulp all over the coffee table and your daughter's homework. Not that anyone would do that, of course!

Persimmon Bread

The finished bread was amazingly moist and cake-like, even though I used all whole wheat flour (the white King Arthur kind) and no refined sugar. The persimmons gave it a lovely orange color, very fall-like, and the taste was mild and lightly sweet. The whole family loved it, devouring it in one day without any margarine or spread. The next time I make it, I may add a little cinnamon and cloves to spice it up, but then, I'm the spicy type.

Persimmon Bread 3

Persimmon Bread
(printer-friendly version)

I baked this bread in a small, silicone bundt pan, but you can use a regular bread pan, preferably a smaller sized one.

1 1/4 cups persimmon, mashed pulp
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons canola oil or unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup agave nectar (or substitute 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar and 2 tbsp. water)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup raisins (may use up to 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional--may use up to 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350. Oil or spray a loaf pan or bundt pan.

In a small bowl, mix the persimmon, lemon juice, oil or apple sauce, and agave nectar. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, except for raisins and walnuts. Pour the wet into the dry and mix just until all flour is moistened (do not over-mix). Fold in the raisins and walnuts, if desired.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes. (My bundt pan took closer to 40 minutes.) Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan. Cool completely before serving.

Note: Low-fat quickbreads like this really benefit from being allowed to cool completely, which is why they often taste better the next day. The crust, which is chewier than breads with oil, will gather moisture and softness over time.

Makes about 12 servings.

Made with all optional ingredients, including canola oil and 1/4 cup walnuts, each serving contains: 180 Calories (kcal); 4g Total Fat; (19% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 184mg Sodium; 3g Fiber. Weight Watchers: 3 Points.

Without canola oil or walnuts: Per serving: 145 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (2% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 184mg Sodium; 3g Fiber. Weight Watchers: 2 Points.



In the mood for bread but don't have persimmons? Try one of my favorite quickbread recipes:

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Congratulations!

Lentils, Quinoa, and Wakame

Congratulations to everyone who entered for making the contest so difficult to judge that it took us all day! Honestly, all of the entries were so good that every single one of them was in the lead at one time or another. They each had qualities that we liked, so narrowing it down to one was almost impossible.

In the end, it was one little ingredient that pushed Kristine's Thai Lentil Croquettes into first place. We loved the combination of quinoa and red lentils, but the addition of the sea vegetable hijiki, to replace the "fishy" taste of the original recipe, was the clincher. We look forward to testing the recipe soon. Actually, we're planning on trying several of the recipes soon!

Thank you all for sharing your creativity. I would give you all a prize if I could!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Save-This-Recipe Round-Up

Can This Recipe Be Saved? A couple of weeks ago, I asked my readers to help me fix my recipe for Thai Pumpkin Croquettes by making them themselves and using something other than pumpkin, which I felt was out of place in the recipe. At the time, I was a little afraid that no one would rise to the challenge, so I was frankly shocked when the deadline came and 17 people submitted their versions of the croquettes!

What's most amazing to me is that the recipes are all so different. Most of them are still Thai-inspired, but even they use different ingredients in different combinations. And some cooks took their inspiration from other regions' cuisines to put a completely different stamp on the recipe. It just goes to prove that there are an infinite number of ways to make a croquette--all of them delicious!

So many incredible recipes make the job of picking one winner extremely difficult. They all sound so enticing that I'd love to have the time to cook every one of them. They're all winners, and I hope you'll visit all of the blogs and congratulate the cooks.

Of course, I do intend to choose one winner, but to do that I must confer with my fellow-judge, D. I'm going to pick my favorite 3 and he's going to pick his, and hopefully there'll be some overlap. If not, I'll make him choose, so that he can be the bad guy to the 16 he doesn't pick. (Just kidding, sorta!) We'll make our decision tonight, and I'll announce the winner tomorrow morning.

Give these contestants a round of cyber-applause:

Kristine was the first to rise to the challenge with her Thai Lentil Croquettes. In addition to lentils, she uses quinoa and ground walnuts. Kristine says that the red lentils make them "an earthy sort of autumn like dish with a little sassy red colour to boot." There's no photo, but I can picture them perfectly in my mind.


Susan's Thai Cakes

Carla
was next with her yummy-looking Susan's Thai Cakes. She used potatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and cilantro and narrowly avoided disaster after forgetting to oil the baking sheet.


Thai Pumpkin Croquettes

Liz makes Thai Pumpkin Croquettes, with a twist: she uses pumpkin seeds, which make them "tender and flaky with a delicious nutty flavor."


Spinach-Sun Dried Tomato Hummus Croquettes

Jule substitutes spinach-sun dried tomato hummus for the pumpkin, with beautiful results.


Thai Peanut Croquettes

Miko the Midwest Vegan combines two of my favorite flavors, peanut butter and coconut cream, in her luscious Thai Peanut Croquettes. Then she goes on to make a sweet version using mango, cinnamon, and coconut milk. That's what I call going above and beyond the call of duty!


Thai-inspired Croquettes

Nupur uses one of my favorite ingredients in her tasty Thai-inspired Croquettes. (Any idea what that ingredient might be?)


Green Papaya Peanut Croquettes

Shvetha goes with two traditionally Thai ingredients to create these tempting Green Papaya Peanut Croquettes.


Thai Faux Fish Croquettes

Vineet takes inspiration from the original recipe with the very intriguing Thai "Fish" Croquettes, which includes a recipe for making vegan "fish!"


Veggie Hot Tamale Croquettes

Shelley goes in a completely different direction with her mouthwatering Veggie Hot Tamale Croquettes topped with guacamole.


Southern Blackeyed Pea Croquettes and Sweet Potato Biscuits

And Veg-a-Nut Sheree goes in yet another direction with her down-home Southern Blackeyed Pea Croquettes and Sweet Potato Biscuits. That's a meal I could eat every day!


SOS! Croquettes

Tintin uses not only two types of potatoes but also carrots and apple to replace the pumpkin in her tantalizing SOS! Croquettes. Plus she makes a Brown Curry Dipping Sauce in addition to my Thai sauce.


Thai Style Black Bean Croquettes

Talula_Fairie takes black beans to a delicious new level in her lovely Thai Style Black Bean Croquettes.


Thai Tempeh Croquettes

Dominique's savory Thai Tempeh Croquettes look delightful paired with Cilantro Quinoa.


Thai Style Red Bean and Rice Croquettes

Siri's Thai Style Red Bean and Rice Croquettes sound simply irresistible. And they taste great with ketchup, too!


Thai Moong Dal Croquettes

There's something about the texture of Coppe's Thai Moong Dal Croquettes that I really like. (And any blog called Something About Penguins has already got my attention!)


Vegan Pakora

Jennifer and her husband Ari collaborated to come up with Vegan Pakora using the delectable combo of peas, sweet potatoes, and red lentils.


Thai Croquettes

And finally, Suganya combines corn, sweet potato, and coconut to create her absolutely stunning Thai Croquettes. I'll bet they're as scrumptious as they look!


Thanks to everyone for all these creative recipes! I'll announce the winner of the gift certificate tomorrow.

Related posts:

The contest rules
The announcement of the winner

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Monday, November 12, 2007

5 Croquette Recipes

I'm busy compiling a complete round-up of all the Can This Recipe Be Saved Contest entries. But before I could do that, I needed to give the recipes that were emailed to me (rather than posted on blogs) a place of their own on the web. So here, in the order in which they were received, are the 5 emailed recipes, followed by a photo when available. Don't they look delicious?!


Kristine Elliott writes:

I picked up a few things after work and home I came to try to modify your Thai Pumpkin Croquettes. The lentils still allow this to be an earthy sort of autumn like dish with a little sassy red colour to boot!

We really enjoyed making our own additions and wanted to say thanks for a kitchen adventure! We left the sauce the same because it was just so darn good! These babies looked beautiful on a bed of Shanghai Bok Choy and we served with your double mushroom miso soup garnished with a few drops of thai chili sesame oil and some fresh grated (just a pinch) of lime. It was truly deeelish!

Thai Pumpkin Lentil Croquettes

12 ounces green beans, trimmed and sliced
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 C cooked , drained Quinoa (about 1/4C dry)

1 ½ C cooked, drained Red lentils (about 3/4 C dry)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon red curry paste
4 kaffir lime leaves, minced OR 1 tbsp. grated lime zest
1 teaspoon agave nectar OR brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten*
1 tbsp ground walnuts – or crushed, depending on your need to take out your aggressive impulses in the kitchen
1/3 C Bean Sprouts, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp hijiki (soaked in some hot water for about 10 minutes whilst you furiously crush walnuts and wash your bean sprouts!) – This part I think really helps the flavour develop, and is an especially nice and cruelty free addition from the sea considering as you mention the original recipe was a Thai Fish Croquettes recipe

Mash with a potato masher, or a fork, the lentils and quinoa together, you want to leave some consistency here, so best to not use the food processor for this part.

Place the green beans and basil into a food processor and pulse to chop coarsely (do not puree!) If you have a small processor, you may have to do this in batches. Pour into a bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Stir well for about 3 minutes, to allow gluten to develop. Set aside while you preheat the oven to 425F.

Spray a non-stick baking sheet with oil. Take a heaping tablespoon of the batter and form it into a patty about 1 1/2-inches (4 cm) across and 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) thick. Place it on the baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the batter. It should make about 30 croquettes.

Bake for 20 minutes, and then turn over and bake until browned, about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm with dipping sauce.

*You can make a gluten-free batch of these using 2 tablespoons of cornstarch instead of gluten. Skip the stirring for three minutes, and form the batter into croquettes by dropping by tablespoons onto the baking sheet and smoothing into patties with your fingers.



Jule J. (rusvaplauke) writes:

I tried your recipe by substituting the pumpkin with some homemade spinach-sun dried tomato hummus. Originally, it was a recipe by Lolo with my slight alterations (spinach instead of kale, added some garlic, etc.)

Actually, I can't really tell a lot about these croquettes as my family ate most of them - my father loved them! (By the way, they're not even vegetarians, let alone vegans, ha!) However, what I can tell from the several small ones I managed to grab for myself is that they were rather good. Just enough spiciness and the flavors of the basil and curry and sun-dried tomatoes are given a wonderful opportunity to stand out. I'm quite biased, though, because I, erm, HATE green beans. So this was quite a challenge for me.

Hummus Croquettes
Spinach-Sun Dried Tomato Hummus Croquettes by Jule


Shvetha Sankaran writes:

I made the croquettes with peanuts and green papaya, the inspiration being the lip-smacking green papaya salad served in Thai restaurants.

Green Papaya Peanut Croquettes

1/2 cup raw peanuts
1/2 cup finely minced green papaya
12 ounces green beans, trimmed and sliced
1 cup fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic
4 minced green chillies
4 kaffir lime leaves, minced OR 1 tbsp. grated lime zest (I used lemon zest.)
1 teaspoon agave nectar OR brown sugar (I used brown sugar.)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Soak the peanuts in water for 30 minutes.
Cook the beans till they are soft but not mushy (I did this in the microwave). Marinate the minced papaya in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for 15-20 minutes.
Grind together everything except the minced papaya, onion and chillies. Add these to the ground mixture.
Shape it into patties and bake for 30-40 minutes turning once in between.
Hope you get a chance to give this a try.

Green Papaya Peanut Croquettes
Green Papaya Peanut Croquettes by Shvetha



Vineet Aggarwal eloquently puts into words an idea that I think a lot of us had:

At the risk of sounding dorky, it felt really cool to make this recipe tonight knowing that I was in a contest with people who were all over the country (and perhaps world)! . . . It turned out quite tasty (the texture was great), so thanks for the idea/inspiration. Anyhow, here it is:

Thai "Fish" Croquettes

Croquette Ingredients:

12 ounces green beans, trimmed and sliced
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 recipe "vegan fish" (see below)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon red curry paste
4 kaffir lime leaves, minced OR 1 tbsp. grated lime zest
1 teaspoon agave nectar OR brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten*

Vegan Fish Ingredients:

1 cup almonds
2 cups soaked and cooked (or canned chickpeas), drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water (can use the chickpea water)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons olive oil
4 dried black Chinese mushrooms, blended to a powder (I used a Magic Bullet).

Vegan Fish Instructions:

Rinse the almonds, place them in a bowl, cover with water, and let them soak overnight in order to soften. Once this is completed, rinse and drain them. Add the almonds and the rest of the "Vegan Fish" ingredients to a food processor. Blend until well mixed and somewhat chunky/flaky like tuna (not smooth). (Side note: In case you were wondering, I was hoping the dried mushrooms would give this a "fishy" or "seafoody" flavor -- I can't really tell if it did -- I might do something different with this next time, and/or make it an optional step, because some people might not like that flavor anyway). Set this aside and proceed with the croquette instructions below.

Croquette Instructions:

Place the green beans and basil into a food processor and pulse to chop coarsely (do not puree!) If you have a small processor, you may have to do this in batches. Pour into a bowl, add the "Vegan Fish" mixture from above, and the remaining croquet ingredients. Stir well for about 3 minutes, to allow gluten to develop. Set aside while you preheat the oven to 425F.

Spray a non-stick baking sheet with oil. Take a heaping tablespoon of the batter and form it into a patty about 1 1/2-inches (4 cm) across and 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) thick. Place it on the baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the batter. It should make about 30 croquettes.

Bake for 20 minutes, and then turn over and bake until browned, about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm with dipping sauce, below.

*You can make a gluten-free batch of these using 2 tablespoons of cornstarch instead of gluten. Skip the stirring for three minutes, and form the batter into croquettes by dropping by tablespoons onto the baking sheet and smoothing into patties with your fingers.

Thai Fish Croquettes
Thai "Fish" Croquettes by Vineet


Dominique Nabholz writes:

We thought they were really good! Make sure you simmer the tempeh if you make them, it will really absorb the lime, basil, and curry paste flavors. (Of course, my husband and I are a sucker for low-cal vegan Asian food!)


Thai Tempeh Croquettes

Ingredients:
12 ounces green beans, trimmed and sliced
1 cup fresh basil leaves
12 ounces tempeh (1.5 packages)
juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1.5 tablespoons red curry paste
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1 teaspoon agave nectar
purified water
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
Optional Garnishes:
shredded carrots and scallions

Directions:
1. Chop tempeh into chunks and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, chop the green beans and basil in the food processor.

3. Dump the beans and basil into a big bowl.

4. Add the drained tempeh to the food processor. Pulse a few times (10?) then add all of the liquid ingredients, curry paste and flax seed. Pulse until a relatively smooth paste is formed. Add water by the teaspoon if needed.

5. Add the tempeh mixture to the bean/basil mixture.

6. Refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight (allows the spices to absorb [or marinate] into the tempeh)

7. Preheat oven to 425F. Remove mix from refrigerator.

8. Spray a non-stick sheet with oil and bake 20 minutes; flip; then bake until browned, appx. another 15-20 minutes.

9. Garnish and serve with dipping sauce.

NOTES:
I used your dipping sauce without any changes.
I didn't have any Vital Wheat Gluten on hand (oops!), so I omitted it. Two croquettes started to fall apart when I first flipped them, so if I had some I'd probably use it next time.

Thai Tempeh Croquettes with Cilantro Quinoa
Thai Tempeh Croquettes by Dominique

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Last Call for Recipes!

Can This Recipe Be Saved? Just a reminder that you have about 18 hours left to put your personal touch on my imperfect recipe. Entries are due by midnight tonight (or before I wake up tomorrow morning, if you want to know the truth). So far we have about 15 incredible versions of Thai Croquettes, but I know there are more creative cooks just itching to try their hands at the recipe. The winning entry will receive a $25 gift certificate to either Amazon OR Herbivore. Yes, if you win you can now choose to support a vegan-owned business! So get cooking!

See all the details here.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fresh Cranberry Sorbet

I have an addiction. It affects me during only one season of the year, but still it's a problem because I spend way more money than I should on it and then wind up stuffing my stash in the freezer and hoping that it will last me the rest of the year. I'm talking about my need to buy...

Fresh Cranberries!

To tell the truth, I don't even love cranberries that much, but just the thought that I can't get them any other time of the year sends me into hording mode. The beauty of cranberries is that they require no preparation to freeze--just throw the whole bag into the freezer. Each cranberry freezes up separately so you'll be able to easily measure out the amount needed for recipes. No need to thaw before using--just toss them in frozen. And a bag of frozen cranberries is good for about a year--just in time to buy a new supply.

Fresh Cranberry Sorbet

Which is where this recipe comes in. I was in the grocery store the other day and couldn't resist the impulse to buy fresh cranberries. But when I got home, it hit me: I still have cranberries left over from last year! I needed to get rid of last year's berries to make room for this year's, so I whipped up this dessert using a bag of frozen berries. It's kind of an unusual use for cranberries at this time of year, and you may need to throw on a jacket while you eat it, but if you love sweet-tart tastes, give it a try. It's kind of like frozen cranberry relish!

Fresh Cranberry Sorbet 2

Fresh Cranberry Sorbet
(printer-friendly version)

Ripe pears mellow the tart taste of the cranberries somewhat, but if you like things sweeter, you may need to add more agave nectar or other sweetener.


1 package (12 ounces) cranberries*
2 ripe pears, peeled and cored
1/2 cup agave nectar, or to taste
1/2 cup water (approximately)
grated rind of one orange

Put all ingredients into the food processor and puree until smooth. Pour into a shallow pan or dish and place in the freezer. Let it freeze until solid. About 15 minutes before serving, take it out of the freezer and let it thaw for about 10 minutes. Put it back into the food processor and process until it becomes fluffy. If necessary, add a little cold water to aid in blending. Serve immediately.

Or, if you have an ice cream maker, just follow the manufacturer's directions.

*You can use frozen cranberries, but be prepared to process in small batches before adding the other ingredients.

Makes about 8 small servings. Per serving: 107 Calories (kcal); trace Total Fat; (1% calories from fat); trace Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; trace Sodium; 3g Fiber.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Red Chile Rice with Black Beans and Dried Tofu

If you're a vegetarian looking for Thanksgiving meal ideas or a food blogger interested in improving your photography skills, check out the end of this post for some exciting happenings.

I don't have a lot to say about today's recipe other than that it's an adaptation of a Rick Bayless recipe from a book I checked out from the library and that I bought a jar of ancho chile powder just to make it. The original recipe included chicken, white rice, and 2 tablespoons of oil, but I managed to leave out all of those ingredients and come up with a recipe that is, I think, very faithful to the original. That's mostly because it's a very simply seasoned recipe; the aforementioned ancho chile powder is the predominant flavor in the dish. Fortunately, ancho is a mild chile, so this dish isn't rip-your-tongue-out hot. If there's a problem with the dish it's that it is sort of a one-note performance--I missed the complexity that a little cumin or oregano might have offered. Fortunately, adding salsa at the table really pulled the dish together. Don't omit the salsa!

We made a simple meal of this with a nice, big salad. The four servings that it makes are fairly large, but for more people or bigger appetites, add another vegetable or side dish.

Red Chile Rice with Black Beans and Dried Tofu

Red Chile Rice with Black Beans and Dried Tofu
(printer-friendly version)

To replace the chicken in the original recipe, I used the kind of dried bean curd found in Asian markets, but you can use TVP, smoked tofu, or additional beans instead. Rehydrate TVP chunks the same way as dried tofu; skip the soaking for smoked tofu or beans and add them to the rice along with the black beans. Add additional chile powder to taste.

1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup long-grain brown rice
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder (or other mild chile powder)
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
3 cups vegetable broth (I used No-Chicken)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 ounces dried tofu or TVP
1 cup vegetable broth plus sufficient water to cover
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 15-ounce can black beans (or 1 1/2 cups), rinsed and drained well
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 cups baby spinach (optional)
about 1/2 cup salsa, to serve

Lightly spray the bottom of a heavy saucepan with canola or olive oil. Heat on medium-high and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the rice and cook for another minute or two. Add the garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons of chile powder, and smoked paprika and cook for 1 more minute.

Add the broth and salt (use less if the broth is salted) and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot. Cook for 25 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the dried tofu or TVP if you're using it. Place the dried tofu in a microwaveable bowl and add the 1 cup vegetable broth. Add enough water to cover the tofu, and stir in 1 teaspoon of chile powder. Microwave on high power until broth boils. Stir and allow to stand until dried tofu is tender. (If you're using large chunks of TVP, additional cooking time may be necessary.) Alternately, bring to a boil on the stove for 1 minute and let stand until tender.

After the rice has cooked for 25 minutes, drain the dried tofu and add it and the black beans to the rice. Do not stir--just put them on top of the rice. Re-cover the pot and continue to cook until rice is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed, about 25 minutes. Add the green onions and spinach, re-cover, and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir well to combine and serve with salsa at the table.

Makes 4 servings. Each (excluding salsa) contains 379 Calories (kcal); 2g Total Fat; (4% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 69g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 729mg Sodium; 15g Fiber.


A couple of announcements:

If you're looking for resources for your vegan Thanksgiving meal, Nava Atlas has compiled a lot of her favorite recipes on Vegetarian Kitchen's Thanksgiving page; if you want even more delicious ideas, you can download her e-book called Nava's Thanksgiving Favorites for just $8.50. This 40-recipe e-book not only spares many a turkey, but Nava also donates a generous amount of the profits to an anti-hunger organization called Share Our Strength, which is especially dedicated to ending childhood hunger in the U.S. At a time of year when many of us bask in abundance, it's good to remember that many are not so lucky.

If you're a food blogger looking for tips on taking better photos, Nika's Culinaria is posting a series of posts called Food Photography 101 "to guide interested budding food photographers through the technical and creative barriers they may be experiencing." Nika will offer instruction and assign homework, and she's set up a newsletter, forum, and Flickr group to facilitate class feedback and discussion. It's sure to be a fun and informative series. Look for her posts tagged Food Photo 101.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Come On, Get Cooking!

Can This Recipe Be SavedThe "Can This Recipe Be Saved" contest is in full-swing. We now have three entrants: Carla, Liz, and Kristine (who emailed me her recipe for Thai Lentil Croquettes). But there's still a week to go, so you have plenty of time to get your scrumptious creations posted.

Act now and you can use the nifty cool "Can This Recipe Be Saved" graphic above. One super-creative cook will win a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate and bragging rights for all eternity. See all the details here.

So get cooking, because the woman in this picture really looks like she needs your help!

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

North African Chickpea and Kale Soup

If it seems to you like I've been making lots of soup lately, you're right. Not that it's been especially cool here, but once there's even a hint of Fall nip in the air, I crave nothing more than a hot bowl of soup. I haven't wanted to even glimpse a salad; give me all my veggies immersed in a comforting bowl of broth!

I firmly believe that simmering in soup is one of the healthiest ways to cook vegetables. Unlike boiling or even steaming, to a certain extent, all of the nutrients remain in the broth to be eaten along with the vegetables. And did you know that cooking actually increases the nutrients available in some vegetables, including carrots? Lightly cooking carrots breaks down the cell walls, increasing the amount of absorbable beta carotene.

North African Chickpea and Kale Soup

This particular soup is a nutritional powerhouse. The carrots provide beta carotene, the chickpeas offer protein, and the kale...well the kale is a powerhouse all on its own. It's rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, potassium, copper, manganese, and calcium. Plus, it's one of the cruciferous vegetables proven to reduce the risk of a number of cancers as well as heart disease. Eat more kale!

But don't try this recipe because it's good for you; try it because it's delicious: exotically seasoned with cumin, saffron, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice, yet not overwhelming or hot-pepper spicy. And I hesitate to say this because I know my daughter's tastes aren't always in line with other 10-year-olds', but she couldn't get enough of it, even though her first look made her go, "Yuck." But after the first bite, she was set on draining the entire bowl. We all were. Count this one among my family's favorite recipes.

North African Chickpea and Kale Soup

North African Chickpea and Kale Soup
(printer-friendly version)

Okay, I made up the North African part. This seasoning combination is of my own devising, but it conjures up images of Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt in my imagination. If you can get saffron, please use it. It offers a unique flavor that there's just no substitute for.


1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced or diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8-1/4 teaspoon chilli powder or cayenne
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
generous pinch saffron, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
3 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
8 cups vegetable broth (or water plus bouillon)
1 large bunch kale, thick center ribs removed and chopped (at least 8 cups)
about 2 cups water
salt to taste

Spray a large saucepan with olive oil spray and heat it. Add the onion and carrot and cook over medium-high heat until the onion begins to brown (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the spices, including bay leaves and cinnamon stick, and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the chickpeas and stir to coat them with the spices. Pour in the 8 cups of vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the chopped kale and stir. If necessary add water to cover the kale and cook until it is tender, about 10-25 minutes, depending on how cooked you like your kale. Check frequently to see if it is becoming dry and add water as needed. Add salt to taste and serve.

Makes about 6-8 servings. One-sixth of the recipe provides 199 Calories (kcal); 3g Total Fat; (11% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 36g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 54mg Sodium; 6g Fiber; 175mg Calcium.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Can This Recipe Be Saved Contest

Thai Pumpkin CroquettesIt was a good idea and I ruined it. I was all set to veganize a recipe for Thai fish croquettes using chickpeas and wheat gluten, but for some inexplicable reason I decided right at the last minute to use canned pumpkin instead. Maybe it's because it was Halloween and I hadn't made anything remotely seasonal; maybe it was the pumpkin sitting on my counter, taunting me with my unaccomplished goal of transforming it into some elaborate but still healthy dish. Whatever the reason, I chose pumpkin over chickpeas and lived to regret it.

Somehow the flavor of pumpkin was wrong in this recipe and especially clashed with the basil. The croquettes weren't inedible--D and I actually had several of them as an appetizer before dinner--but they weren't good, either. I was all set to destroy the recipe and put the photo on the blog with the caption "Don't Try This at Home," but D though it could be saved. He really thinks that with a little tinkering, this appetizer could be great, so he came up with the idea of passing the burden giving you readers the opportunity to fix the recipe. I know there are some wizards of the kitchen out there, so if anyone can do it, it's you.

Here's what we're going to do. Sometime between now and next Sunday, November 11, make a version of this recipe using something vegan other than pumpkin. It needs to be basically the same recipe, though you can change amounts and add or subtract an ingredient or two. (You don't have to use the sauce recipe, but it was delicious and probably saved the croquettes from inedibility.) Post your recipe and photos on your blog, or if you don't have a blog, email them to me. In your post, link to this post, and just to make sure I see it, leave a comment here on my blog.

Once all the entries are in, D and I (because he's the one who came up with this bright idea) will look them over and choose the one that we like the best. The winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or to Herbivore, where you may choose to purchase one of the terrific vegan cookbooks coming out, such as Veganomicon, The Joy of Vegan Baking, or the upcoming Vegan Express (with photos by yours truly) or Yellow Rose Recipes (available only at Herbivore). Or you could use it to buy some of the ingredients I'm always yammering on about, such as smoked paprika or agave nectar. Whatever you want (just don't order anything non-vegan or else you'll be cursed!) See all the fine print at the end of this post.

Without further silliness, here's the recipe:

Thai Pumpkin Croquettes

Thai Pumpkin Croquettes

12 ounces green beans, trimmed and sliced
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon red curry paste
4 kaffir lime leaves, minced OR 1 tbsp. grated lime zest
1 teaspoon agave nectar OR brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten*

Place the green beans and basil into a food processor and pulse to chop coarsely (do not puree!) If you have a small processor, you may have to do this in batches. Pour into a bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Stir well for about 3 minutes, to allow gluten to develop. Set aside while you preheat the oven to 425F.

Spray a non-stick baking sheet with oil. Take a heaping tablespoon of the batter and form it into a patty about 1 1/2-inches (4 cm) across and 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) thick. Place it on the baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the batter. It should make about 30 croquettes.

Bake for 20 minutes, and then turn over and bake until browned, about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm with dipping sauce, below.

*You can make a gluten-free batch of these using 2 tablespoons of cornstarch instead of gluten. Skip the stirring for three minutes, and form the batter into croquettes by dropping by tablespoons onto the baking sheet and smoothing into patties with your fingers.

Thai Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar*
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup agave nectar (or sugar)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon chili sauce (the kind with chopped peppers and seeds, not a smooth sauce like Sriracha) or use fresh chopped red chilies
1 teaspoon minced garlic

If you're using agave nectar, mix all ingredients together well. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

If using sugar, heat all ingredients until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.

*If you use regular rice vinegar, you may want to add additional maple syrup and some salt.


Can This Recipe Be SavedAgain, here's what you need to do:

1. Make the recipe, substituting another vegan ingredient for the pumpkin. Alter the seasonings to taste.

2. Post your recipe with photos to your blog (or email them to the address in the sidebar) with a link back to this post by midnight November 11.

3. Drop me a comment to let me know you're participating. Include your name and the URL of your blog.

I'll do a round-up of all the entries and select a winner within a day or two. Judging will be entirely subjective and based on which one we'd most like to eat. In the event that not enough entries are received, I reserve the right to keep the gift certificate and buy something for myself. Like expensive vegan shampoo. So there!

PS. This challenge isn't just for vegan bloggers. It's World Vegan Day, so how about some of you "regular" bloggers accepting the challenge and trying this vegan recipe? Remember, if you can cook, you can cook vegan.

Happy cooking! I can't wait to see what you come up with!

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