carrots

Completely Board Post #16: Carrot Cake Protein Smoothie

Veg-am's Completely Board - Vegan Month of Food 2014

Vegan MoFo only has a few more days!  I can’t believe it’s gone by quickly.  I’m cutting it close, but I actually have a good chance of finishing my 20 posts by the end of the month. I have a plan, now let’s see if I can stick to it.  I’m actually loving the feeling of using some of my Pinterest pins, and there are so many more that I still want to try. I may just end up doing the occasional Completely Board post even after Vegan MoFo has ended.   Now on to post #16…

I love fresh juices and smoothies.  We’re fortunate to have a juice/smoothie bar right here in our own little town, but it can be an expensive habit. So, while I’ll go there for the occasional treat, I like to make my juices and smoothies right here at home.  I pinned this Carrot Cake Protein Smoothie sometime last year and can’t believe I waited so long especially since I always have all the ingredients in my kitchen.

Carrot Cake Protein Smoothie

This is going to be short and sweet (just like me…he he).  I followed the instructions using homemade carrot juice and Jarrow Vanilla Brown Rice Protein (2 Tbsp).  The only thing I changed is I used original almond milk and added 1/8 tsp vanilla extract.

It’s pretty.  It’s sweet.  It surprised me, but It really does taste a little like carrot cake. Yay for another keeper!

 

A Post Full of Firsts: Dragon Roll and Tempura Vegetables

No series on “Stuff, Wrap, and Roll” would be complete without vegetable sushi.  I always like to try new things during Vegan MoFo and this post is full of firsts.  This was my first attempt at making a dragon roll. In fact, it was my first attempt at making sushi with the rice on the outside.  My first attempt at tempura. It was even my first time eating tempura.  And it was my first time using Sriracha.

Dragon Roll and Tempura Vegetables | Veg-am

I used this tutorial as a guide. (warning: not vegan).  The tutorial was for a tempura shrimp dragon roll.  I chose to go with a tempura zucchini roll and changed up the other fillings too.  Since this was my first time making dragon rolls, instead of giving a recipe, I’m going to walk through what did and didn’t work.

When given the option, I usually like the  bad news first, so I’ll go through what didn’t work so well first.  As you can see by the fact that I actually did make dragon rolls and tempura vegetables, none was a total failure.

What didn’t work quite right:

The rice.  When I was first learning about rolling my own sushi, I searched all over the internet for how to make sushi using brown basmati.  What I found was a lot of people who said it was impossible because basmati wasn’t sticky enough.  I concluded that these people had just never been as inept at cooking rice as I used to be.  I know how to make sticky basmati (don’t turn the heat down enough and just keep adding enough water to keep it from sticking).  This works just fine for sushi where you have the nori on the outside.  It wasn’t ideal for dragon rolls (a little too sticky), so next time I might actually use real sushi rice.

My confidence level:  The tutorial said that it’s ideal to use just half sheets of nori for a dragon roll.  It further said that if you were a beginner start with 3/4 sheet or a whole sheet.  Surely, I could work with a half sheet.  As you can see in the photo of the single piece of roll above, I didn’t have a perfect seal.  So, I probably should have started with a bit more.

My cutting skills or my knives:  I had a little bit of a hard time cutting through the plastic wrap and the crispy tempura shell of the zucchini.  I could cut them, but I was squishing the roll out of shape doing it.  This may not have been as much of an issue if the two things above had been perfect.

What did work:

The fillings:  I used finely chopped red cabbage & carrots and strips of tempura zucchini.  I really liked this combination.  The finely chopped vegetables, as you can see, were a little hard to keep contained so a little got on the outside of the roll, so I may try shredded pieces next time, but I really liked the texture of this while eating.  Maybe I should just be more careful 😉  More on the tempura later.

Dragon Roll Fillings | Veg-am

The rolling: As I mentioned above, I probably should have used the larger pieces of nori.  But, the bamboo mat lined with cling wrap worked wonderfully for rolling and shaping. It peeled right off of even my too-sticky rice. The advice to have a bowl of water to dip your fingers in was brilliant.  I didn’t bother adding vinegar to the water bowl.  Just water worked fine.

The avocado:
I thought rolling the avocado on the outside of the dragon roll was going to be the hardest part. With a perfectly ripe avocado and the instructions provided, it was actually one of the easiest.  It does need to be a pretty perfect avocado: soft enough to be flexible, but not the least bit mushy.  If you’re looking to impress, this is a pretty fancy looking result for such an easy process.

The dipping sauces: I used two sauces.  First was an Asian sweet chili sauce straight from the bottle.  I really like the sweet with a touch of hot for the roll.  Second sauce was a Sriracha mayo. There was a recipe on the tutorial site, but all I did was take some soy-free Vegenaise and add Sriracha until it was the perfect level of heat for me. This spicy, creamy dip was perfect for the tempura veggies on the side.  I made a much less hot version of the Sriracha mayo for my mom.

The Tempura:  Oh yes, the tempura.  I was a little hesitant about this part as I decided to go with other information I found in several places that you could make tempura out of just rice flour and sparkling water.  Yes, just two ingredients. Both vegan.  Both gluten and soy free.  How often does that happen?

The recipe on the tutorial had baking powder and eggs, but I decided to try the simpler route.  Everything I saw on using rice flour was talking specifically about sweet rice flour.  I had brown rice flour (no shock for a gluten free person, eh?).  And I’m not a huge fan of brown rice flour all alone as it tends toward being gritty.  Thankfully, this post on making tempura veggies had good pictures demonstrating the perfect thickness for batter.  I ended up needing more water to rice than with the sweet rice flour (no surprise there).

Brown Rice Flour Tempura Vegetables

1-1/4 cup brown rice flour
1-1/3 cup cold sparkling water
Whatever vegetables you want – I used onions cut in half-moon “strips” and zucchini sticks
Cornstarch for coating vegetables
Oil for frying (I used canola)

Preheat your oil for frying (most sites say around 375, but since I did it in a pan and didn’t check the temperature – I’ll just say medium high heat.).  Tempura is traditionally a deep frying method, but I didn’t want to use the deep fryer.  I used a large cast iron skillet with about 1″ to 1.5″ of oil in it.  I ended up turning the vegetables over, but it worked great.  My skillet is actually bigger in diameter than my deep fryer, so I think it was faster and it was easier to watch.

Mix up the flour and sparkling water in a small bowl with a whisk.  You can add seasonings if you wish because it’s bland.  (For the zucchini to go in the roll, I used it as is.  For the onions, I added a little salt and cayenne pepper.)

In a large bowl, put a small amount of cornstarch – add in your vegetables and toss to coat.  This just helps the batter to stick.

One at a time, coat your vegetable pieces with batter and carefully place into the oil.  Don’t overcrowd the vegetables.  I have a 14″ skillet and did 7-9 pieces at a time.  Overcrowding will lower the temperature of the oil.  Hot oil is important as it allows your vegetables to float (and not stick) and they absorb less oil.  Cook until golden brown.  Remove onto a plate lined with paper towels.

One little tip that I gleaned from the dragon roll post (the shrimp tempura recipe) was if you want a better “restaurant style” coating for your tempura…use a metal spoon and drizzle a little more batter over each vegetable in the skillet after it’s been frying for a few seconds.  It works :)

With hot oil and the lightness the sparkling soda gave, the zucchini here (and the onions above) are not saturated with oil and have a light crispy coating.

Tempura Zucchini | Veg-am

All in all, I’d say sushi and tempura night was a success.  Some of it worked perfectly.  Some of it, I figured out better ways to do it next time.  All of it tasted delicious.

I shared with my mom again.  She said she’s starting to feel spoiled with all the good Vegan MoFo eats.  I told her not to get used to it. 😉

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Salad Rolls with Vegan Ranch Dressing

Salad Rolls with Vegan Ranch |Veg-am

Salad rolls are a staple at my house.  They’re a nice change from eating just plate full of salad, but still provide a nice variety of salad vegetables and some dressing.  Bonus: in the summer, you don’t have to heat up the kitchen.  Not one thing here requires heat.

Even when they have avocado in them, they will hold in the refrigerator until the next day.  You just have to be careful to store the rolls without letting them touch each other or they will stick and tear.

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Salad Rolls

All you need is 8″ rice paper wrappers, your favorite salad ingredients, and ranch dressing for dipping.

You can use your favorite salad ingredients, but these are my standard choices:

Romaine Lettuce, chiffonaded -or- Green Cabbage, shredded
Carrots, grated
Cucumbers, cut into matchsticks
Avocado, sliced
Red, Orange or Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced (not rings)

Directions:  

Fill a large pie plate or bowl with very warm water. Place two rice paper wrappers in the water at a time, completely submerged and let sit for about a minute, until they have softened.

Handle each wrapper gently as you place it on your work surface. Starting with the salad “base” (lettuce, cabbage, whatever you choose), place a layer in the lower third of the wrapper, leaving about 1-1/2 inches of margin from the far edges on either side (you’ll be folding those in.)  Layer your other ingredients on top of the base.  To roll, snugly fold the left and right sides of the wrapper over the filling. Lift the bottom of the wrapper over the filling and tuck it underneath the filling, then roll firmly but gently.  Place the rolls seam side down on a plate or clean cookie sheet.  Let them sit out about 15 minutes so the wrappers can dry some.  They will still be a little sticky, but they shouldn’t be damp.

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Although when I eat plates of salad I rarely use ranch, it is my go to dressing for salad rolls.  This is a slightly modified version of a recipe someone gave me.  Despite trying to find out the origin, I haven’t been able to in order to give credit.  It’s super good and even if I could do bottled ranch, I don’t think I ever would again.

It makes a little over 1/2 cup.  For me it works for 14-15 rolls, but it just depends on how much dipping you do.

Vegan Ranch

1/2 cup soy free Vegenaise
2 Tbsp unsweetened Almond Milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dry parsley
3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp dried dill

Using a whisk, mix all together in a small mixing bowl until evenly blended.

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I often cut other rice paper rolls for serving, but this particular one stays together better (and is therefore easier to eat) if it’s all in one piece.  But, I did cut this one for you to see all the vegetable-y goodness inside.

Salad Rolls with Vegan Ranch | Veg-am

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Notes:

1. My work surface is typically a piece of wax paper taped to the counter or a glass cutting board.

2. You’ll get a setup that works for you after you do it a time or two. My water bowl sits on the counter to the side and I have everything else on the kitchen island where I’m assembling the rolls.

3. Don’t feel the need to be too uptight about what goes in the roll. Some will have more of one ingredient than another.  By all means don’t stress yourself out by measuring.

4. If you’re scared of rice paper rolls, don’t be. They are a lot easier than you think!

5. Other ingredients that I think would work really well: sprouts, onions, scallions, shredded red cabbage, grated daikon, radishes (probably little matchsticks or half moons), chiffonaded spinach, fresh herbs. I do stay away from tomatoes in the rolls because I think their moisture content would be a problem for the wrapper.  So, if I’m in the mood for tomato, I just serve it on the side.

6.  There are tapioca papers as well.  They work ok in a pinch, but when I tried them, they split open too easily with the salad ingredients in them.


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1 food 5 ways, Mushrooms, Way #5: Mushroom-Prune Tagine

I got the amazing chance to go to Morocco 5 years ago. In addition to coming home with a lot of fabulous memories and photographs, I came home with a love for tagine.
I wasn’t vegan yet when I was there, so my favorite was a meat & prune tagine. This is the version I eat now: Mushroom-Prune Tagine. Ok…I can see you turning your nose up at the prune. Don’t be so hard on it. It has bad reputation for being useful for old people that need a little help with their regularity. But it’s really a sweet little gem. And it gives a tagine a sweetness that I’ve never had in a vegetable dish before. So don’t diss the prunes. If you do, don’t let me hear it.
Tagine is the word for the slow-cooked stew like dish that is traditional in Morocco, but it’s also the word for the cool cookware it’s prepared in.


Isn’t it beautiful? I wish I had gotten one when I was there. They’re too expensive here.

But instead, this is my setup…


It’s not a great picture, obviously, but that’s my large cast iron skillet and a cookie sheet. Nope, it’s not as pretty as the traditional dish. But it works. Even if you don’t have an oven safe skillet, you can use the skillet on the stove top and then move everything to a covered roasting pan to finish it in the oven. My understanding is that if you own an actual tagine, you’d need a lot less water than written below. But if you have one, you probably know how to use it!

How much you make depends on the size of your skillet/roasting pan. My skillet is a 12″ one, so it holds a lot. But this fills it up, so if your skillet is smaller, cut back a little. The vegetables you use and the ratios of them are pretty much up to you, but I find this to be a good balance and these all absorb the spices really well. But, really, don’t skip the prunes.

Mushroom-Prune Tagine


Not the most photogenic of foods, but it is tasty!
Ingredients:
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic (equiv of 2-3 cloves)
2 large portabella caps (just under 1/2 lb), cut into 3/4″ cubes
1 small eggplant (about 3/4 lb), cut into 3/4″ cubes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced (if tops are particularly wide, cut into half moons)
2 small zucchini (about 1/2 lb), sliced. (If zucchini is larger, cut into half moons)

10 prunes, cut into 4-6 pieces per prune

3 cups water (more or less – enough to cover the veg mixture)
Spice mixture:
1-1/2 Tbs cumin
1-1/2 tsp coriander
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cardamom
2-3 dashes fresh black pepper
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350
Heat the 2 tsp olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add about 1/4 cup of the water and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are beginning to get tender, about 5 more minutes. Add the other vegetables and stir (more likely fold) to combine. Sprinkle the spice mixture on top of the vegetables. Pour in the water – enough to come up to the top of the vegetable line, not above. Then stir (or fold) to get all the spices mixed in the water and the vegetables coated. Fold in the prunes.
Here’s where it goes in the oven. So if your skillet is not oven save, transfer everything into a casserole dish/roasting pan/anything that’s a comparable size to your skillet and can be covered. You want the veg not to be spread out on something big like a cookie sheet. The depth of it helps it to all get really tender just like in a slow cooker.
Put your skillet or other dish in the oven and completely cover. The steam should not have a vent. Let it slow cook until all the vegetables are really tender and the water & spices have been absorbed. For me this was about 2 hours.
Notes:

1. The vegetables were “done enough” at an hour, but there was still quite a bit of liquid. So check at an hour and see how the liquid is holding up. If it’s gone and the veg aren’t soft enough, you can add a little. But if there’s quite a lot left, let it continue to cook until it’s almost gone, but not completely dry. The vegetables just get softer and sweeter the longer they cook. The texture should be similar to what they would be like if you’d cooked them in a crockpot all day.

2. Tagine is frequently eaten over couscous, but that’s not gluten free. Millet, quinoa, and brown rice are all good substitutes if you want a to make your meal more carbolicious, but I like it as is.

3. If you happen to have any leftovers, it freezes and reheats well!


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