Monday, November 24, 2008

Review: Yves Satay Veggie Skewers

I've been wanting to try these for a while now but they always had egg in them. The last time I went to the grocery store I noticed it said "Vegan" on the package and scooped them up.
They are simuated chicken flavour and taste more like chicken than any other Yves product I have ever eaten. The texture was pretty close as well. I only mention that type of thing for the meat eaters who are eating these types of foods in order to cut back on Cholesterol or something.
I could care less if it tastes like meat, as long as it tastes awesome. These taste awesome. They are more expensive than I like, but I don't plan on buying them often. It's good to have options though.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I Think I'm Turning Japanese

Once upon a time I had absolutely no interest in Japanese food and culture. The older I get the more that changes or maybe its just because Dan is constantly excited about it and I'm catching his bug. I even want to name my male child Kaichi. I just love the sound of that name, no idea what it means though.

I made sushi for the first time about a year ago and it was pathetic. Delicious but pathetic. I overstuffed it and instead of wrapping how I was comfortable wrapping, I tried to follow the instructions exactly. It was a disaster and I was so embarrassed by it that I kept apologizing to our guests. Its now one of the easiest and prettiest things I make.

Both of these Sushi Recipe's are from Vegetarian Times magazine and I also made the Garlicky Kale from Vegan with a Vengeance. I used more garlic than the recipe called for of course, I always do. As long as Dan's eating it too I don't have to worry because we stink together.

Sorry about the quality of the picture, I'm still learning. :)

Sushi Rice
1 1/2 cups short-grain white rice (or "sushi" rice)
1 Tbs. sake
2 1/2 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt

Once the rice is rinsed you put it in a saucepan with 1 2/3 cups of cold water and the sake. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove it from the heat and let it sit for 10 more minutes with the cover on.

Whisk the vinegar, sugar and salt in a bowl. Put the rice in a large bowl and drizzle the vinegar mixture over it and cut through it with a spoon until it is all absorbed.

If you are making both of the sushi recipe's below double this recipe.

Although the recipe called for sake I left it out. If I'm buying sake its going in a glass. Seriously though we were broke and it would have made the dish too expensive for the small amount it would contribute. It also seemed redundant since there was already rice vinegar and sugar going in there.
I found this particular recipe for sushi rice to be too sweet. It was the first time I made it and next time I'm going to use less sugar, it took away from all of the other flavor's in the meal.

Nigiri Sushi with Avocado, Cucumber, And Shiso Leaves
1 tsp. prepared wasabi, or more as needed
24 thin avocado slices (3/4 of an Avocado)
24 paper-thin English cucumber half-moon slices (1/4 cucumber
12 shiso leaves, halved diagonally
Low-sodium soy sauce

Dampen your hands and shape about 2 Tbs. of rice into an oval. Smear some wasabi on the top and cover with 2 avocado and 2 cucumber slices. Then wrap the shiso leave around the middle.

This was the first time I have made this type of sushi and it turned out to be delicious. It's different from the little circle's that most people are used to seeing. Its rice shaped into ovals and the filling goes on top and then a leaf is wrapped around it to hold it all together. The recipe called for shiso leaves and if you couldn't find those to use fresh basil. Since shiso leaves are kind of minty I decided to use fresh mint leaves instead. It was delicious and the mint added to the crisp clean flavor.
Dan's Review: "The combination of the mint,avocado and wasabi is really different, but really good" (or something along those lines)

Maki Garden Rolls
2/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbs. low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs. mirin
12 green beans, trimmed
1 small carrot, cut into matchsticks
10 shitake mushroom caps
3 sheets nori seaweed
3 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
1 cup daikon radish sprouts

In a skillet bring the broth, soy sauce, and mirin to a boil. Add the green beans and carrot, cover and simmer for 6 minutes then remove vegetables from the broth. Add the mushrooms to the remaining liquid, cover and simmer for 4 minutes. Cool and cut into strips.
To roll the sushi place one nori sheet shiny-side down on a sushi mat. Wet your hands and spread some rice over the nori, leave a 1 inch border at the top but other than that cover the sheet and try not to make it too thick (about 1/2 an inch at the very most). Put some green beans, carrot, mushrooms, and sprouts in order below the center line of the rice. Dampen the top edge of the nori and roll up from the bottom. Seal with the top edge and cut each roll into 8 slices with a serrated knife.

Thats how the recipe explains it but I do it a little differently. First, I don't use a mat. It gets in my way. I just roll it up with my fingers and that allows me to keep it nice and tight. I also don't wet the top of the nori until I've rolled up to that point. Sometimes it doesn't stick very well so if I notice it coming apart at the seam after its fully rolled I just dip my finger in water and run it along the seam and then place the roll on the counter with the seam underneath until I'm ready to cut it. Another thing that I find makes the nori look better (and less chewy) is to toast it over the burner of the stove for a bit on each side. Just hold it there with tongs and watch it get darker. That's a little trick I learned from the Post Punk Kitchen and every time I forget this step I regret it.

I couldn't find all of the ingredients for this sushi so I made some substitutions. For instance the market didn't have any green beans or fancy radish sprouts when I did my shopping so I just used scallions instead of the green beans and cooked them in with the mushrooms. That way they didn't get all soggy. I also used regular sprouts instead of daikon radish sprouts.

Overall it was good but I prefer the other kind of sushi I make. I guess I just don't like the vegetables cooked. I like them to be crisp and refreshing.
I used the left over broth for a dipping sauce and it was ok but again not as good as what I'm used to. I don't normally use regular soy sauce in my cooking, usually its mushroom soy sauce, or at least Tamari and Braggs. This seemed flavorless in comparison even though it had vegetable's cooked in it.

Last but not least was the Kale. I've never had kale before but have heard it praised by vegan's as the healthiest green leafy vegetable, so I tried it. It was really good (I should have used more garlic though). I was worried that Dan wouldn't like it, because apparently its a 50/50 thing with people, but he loved it. "It's better than spinach!" he exclaimed. So I guess we will be having it more often.

All in all it was a good meal and so filling I almost regretted eating it all.....almost.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Everyone else is doing it so why can't I? Keeping a food blog I mean.
Since I spend so much time in the kitchen lately making delicious vegan meals, and since I lust after so many vegan products that I could never convince them to carry in Saint John, and since my dream job (other than being a full time mom) is to run a vegan restaurant, I thought it was a fun idea to share what goes on in my kitchen.
So I will post pictures, reviews, and even a recipe if I created it myself. If its something I'm lusting after I will just post a link and picture. I'll even have cook book reviews since I'm such a junkie. Its the standard food blog stuff.
Since I haven't gone to get groceries yet and just ate ramen noodles (cooking blog blasphemy!), I will spare you and only do a survey for my first post.

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Almond Breeze, The chocolate and natural flavors are both awesome. I don't really like any vanilla flavored milk, but if you do, I'm sure you'll find it awesome too.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
I need to put a link for this one. Dan's birthday cake this year will be...
Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon, and Spanakopita's from Veganomicon (its the newest cookbook around here until Alternative Vegan arrives in the mail.)

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
I just like it with lots of vegan margarine and salt. I'm boring like that.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
Once when I was a kid I tried to make donuts, but I wasn't allowed to use the deep fryer, so I tried to bake them, but they were the deep fry kind and it didn't work. So I tried to fry them in a pan, but the oil caught on fire. So I panicked and tried to run outside with the flaming pan. On the way a bunch of flaming oil fell out and onto the rug on the kitchen floor. I nearly burnt the house down.

5. Favorite pickled item?
Pickled garlic. All the goodness of raw garlic but without the burn.

6. How do you organize your recipes?
I have a special cupboard where I keep all of my recipe books, and anything else that I have tried and liked gets copied into this other little book thats called "Jennifer's Kitchen". Then of course I have a folder on my computer of vegan recipe sites and recipe's I have found, but thats not organized at all.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Hmmmm. Well I kind of have two compost's. One for greasy gross food that the city takes away every two weeks and another for veggie scraps. Since I don't have a bin for the veggie scraps (I really have to get on that), I just bury them in between the rows of my garden. It works out quite well and makes the soil kick ass for next year.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
Coffee, is coffee considered a food?

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
Just sitting down for dinner. The times with my immediate family were great but when the holiday's rolled around and my mom's side gathered at my grandmother's house, those were the best. Eating till we were bloated, making fun of each other, being together.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
I wish I lived in a vegan friendly city but alas...
I did have this chocolate mint kind once though. I think it was from Soy Good. I enjoyed it a lot.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
The coffee maker.
But if your talking cooking junk then I guess it would be the food processor. Anything that keeps me from getting carpel tunnel and saves me from standing for long periods is A-OK.

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Definitely garlic.

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
The Compassionate Cook aka Please Don't Eat the Animal's. Its a Peta Cookbook that I found when I tried vegetarianism for the first time when I was 15. I've only made like 3 things out of it though. It doesn't have pictures so it never seems worth it to flip through.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
Blueberry, especially homemade.

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
It was this Chocolate Pie, but I've been branching out.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Tempeh is hard to come by around these parts so we mostly eat tofu. Seitan, well I've never made it and I don't know if the stuff I buy would be considered seitan.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
I like to cook supper. I'm never that hungry at breakfast, and lunch doesn't seem like an appropriate time to stuff you face to the max. Supper it is.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
A steamer machine thingy that my mom gave me, the wine rack, some crappy movies that Dan's dad lent us and The Omnivore's Dilemma (a book a friend lent Dan, that I swore I would never read but did anyway, and then Dan didn't even finish it, so we couldn't bitch together about the pathetic attempt at vegetarianism at the end. It did make me want to go hunting for mushrooms though.)

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Tofu, some leftover mushroom gravy, frozen corn and peas.

20. What's on your grocery list?
I haven't made it yet, but it will be things that we don't already have for making:
Sushi (avocado, mushroom's, cucumber, etc)
Spring Rolls
Pea Soup with Tarragon
Fruit Smoothie's
and thats as far as I got picking out this week's recipe's.

21. Favorite grocery store?
We only have the standard's in lame old SJ. I tend to buy my veggie's and fruits at the City Market and everything else at the bulk barn and Superstore. Superstore has more selection for vegan versions of non-vegan food's but we have been eating less and less of those lately.

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
Every time I think I have one I find a recipe online. I never have to veganize anything thanks to the internet. I do modify a lot of recipe's though. Make them lower in fat and sugar, or just more herby.

23. Food blog you read the most. Or maybe the top 3?
Eat Drink and be Vegan, Alternative Vegan and Post Punk Kitchen

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
I'm really into chips, and licorice every now and again. I'm not really a candy person.
I do like the odd Ritter Sport Mint Chocolate bar though.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
We don't get special vegan items because they aren't available and we don't have credit cards (but when we do it will be maxed out in no time!). I cringe every time I spend 4 dollars on a block of vegan cheese...that seems expensive.

26. Favorite Vegan Recipe that you thought would be kind of gross.
Green Goddess pizza from Vegan with A Vengeance. I thought it would be all soggy and "healthy" tasting, but its just damn good.