Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cheezy Broccoli Soup with Garlicky Croutons

So far, I've been loving this Colorado winter—it's been just the right amount of snow and cold, with so many sunny and warm days in between. It's kinda like eating my cake and having it too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Brandy Alexander Nice Cream Sundays for Two

Brandy Alexanders have intrigued me since I first heard the Feist song of the same name. They sounded like a hopelessly romantic cocktail with a turn of the century charm and my 20-year old self really wanted to try one.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Korean Seitan Bulgogi and Cheater Kimchi

This is based off of a recipe that I've had laying around for about ten years (no, really). The recipe I had predated even my pescatarian (while self-identifying as vegetarian) years, and as such was meat-based. I've always kept my favorite recipes in the same notebook, so I rarely look through the first twenty pages or so, since essentially none of these are vegan or vegetarian. However, looking through this section one day, it dawned on me that Bugolgi, or Korean barbecue, wouldn't be a difficult thing to veganize at all. So, I made some changes to the old recipe, and tried it out on seitan. 

The results were fantastic. The seitan is thinly sliced and marinated before being broiled. The brown sugar in the marinade caramelizes and the edges of the seitan blacken. The seitan is extremely savory and quite firm, with loads of umami flavor (umami is the "meaty" flavor that many people crave). 

Meanwhile, I was considering what veggies to have as a side with the seitan. Often, bulgogi is served with kimchi, which is the Korean equivalent of sauerkraut. But, I had a number of roadblocks. Roadblock #1 was that store bought kimchi costs more than I am willing to pay (at least at Vitamin Cottage, where I normally shop), at about $8 to $15 per jar. 

Fine. "I'll make it myself," I thought, and I found this really great looking recipe at the Kitchn. However, on week one Vitamin Cottage didn't have daikon. On week two, they had daikon but no Napa cabbage (they stock only organic fruits and veggies--at really great prices--but this also means that you don't necessarily have the huge selection of say, Whole Foods, who can fill in with non-organic or non-local produce if needed). I ordered the Gochugaru, but it came late, and then I accidentally used all my scallions on another recipe before realizing I needed them here. 

So, seeing as I really just wanted to see how the seitan would come out, and I was running out of options in my refrigerator for the week, I decided to cut my losses, and not pay the $$$ for kimchi and also not to spend my time trying to ferment it. I came up with cheater kimchi, which may not be exactly like true kimchi. However, this "cheater" kimchi captures many of the flavors of real kimchi, and is a nice, healthful accompaniment to the seitan. If it bothers you that this isn't very traditional, keep in mind that somewhere on this blog is a recipe for enchiladas that uses flour tortillas--a travesty for a New Mexican like me--and that I did this because I thought it tasted good and not because I'm a jerk. :) 

Korean Seitan Bulgogi and Cheater Kimchi

Time: 45 minutes (plus 1 hour to marinate the seitan)

Serves: 4-6

For the Korean Barbeque

1 pound seitan
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons sambal oelek
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil

Slice the seitan into slivers (as thin as you can!). Combine the garlic, ginger, sambal oelek, brown sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a large shallow dish. Add the seitan and stir to coat. Marinate for an hour, stirring occasionally. The seitan should soak up all the marinade. 

Preheat the broiler on Hi. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with the canola oil and spread the seitan out in a thin layer. Broil on Hi for 7 minutes. Remove from broiler, mix seitan with a spatula to expose uncooked seitan, and return to broiler for 1-2 minute intervals, stirring until the edges of the seitan are evenly charred (but, obviously, you don't want to completely burn the seitan). 

Remove from the broiler and keep warm until ready.

For the Cheater Kimchi

5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
3/4 cup scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 daikons, cut into matchsticks
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 Napa cabbage, halved and sliced into 2 inch chunks
2 tablespoons dulse (a crumbled seaweed, or use crumbled nori sheets)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add all ingredients to the skillet and cover. Steam the vegetables just until the cabbage is softened and the flavors begin to mix, no longer than 5 minutes. 

Serve with the seitan and cooked rice. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Chipotle-Infused Tequila Bloodless Maria's

For a long time I hated bloody Mary's. I wasn't a girl who liked fruity drinks by any means--Jack and Coke was my cocktail of choice for years. In fact, drinking a Jack and Coke still takes me back to my 21st summer at my husband's family's lake cabin in northern Minnesota. We would take the boat over to the creaky old bar at the other end of the lake in the afternoon to drink Jack and Cokes and eat tater tots while grumpy old men with John Deer hats filtered in and out, some picking up a to go cup on the way... a to go cup of bourbon and coke that is.

Only in Minnesota. 

Anyways, my mom has always been a big fan of Bloody Mary's. I'm sad to say I don't know when I came to the Bloody Mary dark side, but at some point I realized that they are pretty darn good. I also realized that Worcestershire sauce is pretty darn not vegan (it's got anchovies in it--so beware brunch-lovers!). 

So that became a problem. Over the summer I also saw someone post pictures of a Bloody Mary they had in Manhattan. It was basically a cocktail with an entire appetizer resting skewered on top of the drink. I think maybe aside from the lone olive, none of it was even vegetarian. But I was so jealous at the same time! I really wanted a Bloody Mary with an appetizer on top of it too! 

So I did some thinking. And Field Roast did some cheese-creating, which made appetizer-worthy garnishes possible. I did some learning about Bloody Mary's and came across the Bloody Mary's even more exciting relative, the Bloody Maria. Bloody Maria's are made with tequila instead of vodka. I was suspicious, but seeing as I've come around to liking tequila a bit more (another one of my mom's favorites that I have previously shunned), I thought I would give it a try. 

I didn't want to be boring and stick with tabasco, and the tequila had fanned the flames of my New Mexico heritage, and so I decided to experiment with a different pepper altogether. I decided to try infusing the spirits with dried chipotle chiles. Chipotles are just smoked jalapeños. To be on the safe side, I tried infusing both vodka and tequila, and while both came out well, I ultimately preferred the tequila. I'm not an expert on tequila by any means, but I can tell you that Jose Cuervo is bad, bad, bad. I've been drinking Espolón for quite a while now, and I personally really enjoy it. For this recipe I used their tequila reposado. 

Because the infused-tequila has a complex flavor all it's own, I kept the rest of the Bloody Maria (from here on known as Bloodless because it is more accurate) very minimal, to let the tequila shine. I only make one cup of tequila in the recipe, but you will be able to make many Bloodless Maria's from it. It ended up quite spicy, so for one cocktail I would use about 1/3 shot infused tequila and cut it with 2/3 shot regular tequila. This allows you to adjust the spice level to your own taste. 

The Bloodless Maria's will be delicious on their own without the garnishes, if you're not into that or don't have the time. But, if you're feeling celebratory (or hungry) for any reason, they make a great addition! I hope you enjoy!

Chipotle-Infused Tequila Bloodless Maria

Makes: 1 drink

Time: To infuse the tequila 3-4 days, to make the drink, 10 minutes

For the Tequila

1 cup tequila
3 dried chipotle peppers

Place the tequila in a sealable glass container, such as a mason jar. Add the three peppers and close the lid. You can keep infusing the tequila for about five days. I noticed that after one day the tequila was spicy, but didn't have much depth of flavor. By day three, the tequila was picking up a noticeably smoky flavor. I stopped at day four because I thought it tasted just about right, and I'd read that the longer you infuse chiles the spicier they continue to get. 

For the Garnishes

1 slice sourdough bread
2 slicess original flavor Field Roast Chao Cheese
1/2 Field Roast Italian sausage, sliced widthwise
1 pimento-stuffed olive

Heat a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Meanwhile, place two slices of Chao Cheese onto the sourdough and toast in toaster oven (or toast bread in toaster, place cheese on top, and broil until melted). While the open-faced grilled cheese is cooking, place the bacon strip and sausage in the pan. Cook until browned on one side, flip, and brown the other side. Once finished, remove from heat. 

Returning to the bread and cheese, once melted you can cut the bread into 1 inch squares. Add the grilled cheese squares, fakin' bacon, sausage, and olive to a cocktail skewer to complete the garnish.

For the Bloodless Maria

2 shots organic tomato juice (the good stuff)
juice of 1/4 lime
1 tablespoon olive brine (from a jar of pimento-stuffed cocktail olives)
1 tablespoon Annie's vegan Worcestershire sauce (I actually think it's better than the other stuff!)
1 generous pinch black pepper
1/3 shot infused tequila (to taste)
2/3 shot plain tequila 

While the garnishes are cooking, add all the ingredients to a tall glass and stir. Add ice and stir again. Add your garnish and you're ready to go! 


*Please note that while I have linked to several products in this post, I've done so only to help out readers who aren't familiar with these vegan items, and am not making commissions of any kind from these links.