Vegan Mofo: Green Goddess Dressing

So I've been on a garlic kick recently (like for the last 18 years or so). However, I am almost never on a salad kick. I don't know why, but salads just don't excite me the way that a good stew or casserole does. However! This is really dumb because I happen to live in a place where truly fancy salad greens like mache, arugula, butter lettuce, endives, ect are all totally commonplace and cheap.

Its kind of like how you can buy a stick of Brussels sprouts at Whole Foods for like $4.99, and a huge bag of them are like $.99 here in Berlin. (Chalk it up to being closer to Brussels, I guess.)

My point is, I should be exploiting this price difference to my advantage and eating my weight in fancy field greens! Yet, I often think of a salad as a pale side to a rich dinner.

Not today though! I've been working my way through Appetite for Reduction (insert obligatory gushing about Isa Chandra Moskowitz here) and she has a whole range of interesting salad dressings to try from. And her garlicky Green Goddess Dressing is truly a thing of beauty. With peppery parsley, creamy tahini and tons of garlic, its enough to even drive my salad-hating hubby to steal from my bowl.

This one is going in the permanent rotation.

Song of the Day: Taylor Swift- We are Never Getting Back Together


Vegan Mofo- Ginger Apple Cupcakes w/ Peanut Butter Icing

Guys, I know I should probably branch out a little from cupcakes. Aside from being calory-laden and packed with sugar, they are ubiquitous in the vegan world and beyond.

But the thing is, I'm so good at them! Its like the one dessert I have on lock! I make pies on very special summer days, I occasionally make cookies, and I've been known to make a real size cake when the mood strikes, but there's is nothing that I can whip up in 45 minutes flat like cupcakes. Cupcakes, once you get the hang of them, are ridiculously simple and can be altered to contain whatever is clogging your kitchen- plums, fig jam, cashews, wasabi.... (Well, I haven't tried that last one.)

Anyways, the obvious reason for my comfort and ease in the cupcake realm is because of the by now infamous tome 'Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World' by the Moskowitz/ Romero power house. I mean, it hardly bears mentioning since you ALL have this book. And like many of you, having familiarized myself with some of the basic cupcakes recipes, I can now invent cupcakes at whim with simple substitutions and combos.

So yesterday I felt the need for some fall-apple goodness, and decided to alter the Gingerbread cupcakes I love so dearly, subbing out diced crystallized ginger with diced apple. On top of this spicy, apple-filled cake I piped the luscious, crack-like peanut butter icing that is now taunting me from my kitchen.

They are very delicious. And now I have 12 11 of them. Maybe it is really time to step away from the cupcakes. Luckily, my good friend SMP has gifted me with an awesome ice cream maker AND a vegan ice cream cookbook, so now I have the perfect excuse to branch out into new arenas...

Song of the Day: Ronald Jenkees- Stay Crunchy


Vegan Mofo: Sweet Potato w/ Apple Corn Salsa

Hey guys! Just a normal Monday night, nothing too exciting but as its Vegan Mofo I will share my simple dinner. This was a baked sweet potato with some garlicky kale and "apple corn salsa" which is actually really good. You just saute some chopped red onion and add in a chopped apple and a handful of corn. Salt and pepper it up, then when everything is well-cooked add in a splash of balsamic vinegar.

The kale was also special because its super-rare in Berlin (at least, as far as I can tell.) I found a stand at the Farmers Market last week selling it so I bought a metric ton and froze it so I can have kale all winter!

Hurrah! Not every day can be exciting. :P

Song of the Day: Nie Mehr- CRo


Vegan Mofo: Trendy Chile w/ Chipotles, Sweet Potatoes and Chocolate

If you've browsed through recipe pages at all (and yes Mofoer, I know you have) you may have noticed that there are more Vegan Chile Recipes than there are vegans. Everyone has a slight variation with a wild weird ingredient that catches on like wildfire for a bit. For the last few years, you could say these were:
  • Chipotles
  • Chocolate
  • Beer 
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Tomatillos
  • Sweet potatoes
 Well, I love trying new things and I'm not really married to any special recipe of my own, so whenever I make chile, I go for broke. This time was no different. This chile contained 3-4 chipotles, a handful of dark chocolate chunks, sweet potatoes, and a sip of beer, among other, standard chile ingredients. I served it over soft polenta with some chopped onions and cool yogurt. It was outstanding, if almost a little too trendy.

I would post the recipe, but I don't want to add to the clutter of the online vegan chile world. Just go experiment kids, its hard to mess something so essentially and innocently good!
Song of the Day: Basement Jaxx- Do your thing


Vegan Mofo: Anxiety Reducing Tamarind Coconut Curry

Oh my Gosh you guys, I went to the doctor yesterday and I was so freaked out. No idea why, but the idea of going to the doctor in a foreign country always freaks me out. What if he or she doesn't understand what you are asking for and removes a rib or something? Or what if they totally miss any problems because you don't understand the question? I once went to a doctor in Budapest complaining of a stomach ache and they gave me a sonogram. True story.

But then I remember that my German is much better now, and because everyone here is way into holistic medicine the only risk of going to a doctor is likely to be a lecture about doing yoga and taking magnesium supplements. Yes, my doctor ended up being super chill. She even wrote in my prescription that I should get a hula-hoop to reduce menstrual cramps. What American doctor (who wasn't insane) would prescribe a hula-hoop? No, they would hand you a bottle of painkillers. Oh America, how I miss you.

Anyways, despite kind of being in love with my new German doctor, I was still a little shaky from the morning of predicting horribles. And what better thing to eat to calm you down than a big, spicy curry? For some reason curries always calm me down- the spicier the better. Maybe curry powder has a secret calming effect. Or its just the appeal of standing in the kitchen chopping vegetables for big aromatic stew- definitely takes your mind off you problems.

Either way, for me curries are the ultimate soulful comfort food- plus a good excuse to get rid of any veggies remaining in your fridge. Its not really an authentic recipe (I mean, obviously), but lemme give you the equation for how I do it. Its hard to screw up, it gets the job done, and coconut milk is pretty forgiving if you need to add in more curry or spice.

Tamarind Coconut Curry
 1 onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1" ginger root, peeled and chopped
[Lots of veggies]
1.5 T curry powder
Cayenne pepper
1 T Tamarind paste (if ya got it)
1 14 oz can Coconut Milk (light is fine)

Tomato/ Tomato paste
Agave nectar (optional)

1.) While a pot or wok is heating up to medium with a few tablespoons of oil, chop up an onion, 3-4 cloves garlic, and  ginger. When oil is hot, throw them in.
2.) While they are cooking, chop up whatever veggies are lying around, eg., carrots, leeks, peppers, zucchini, broccoli, bok choi, mushrooms, ect.
3.) Throw those in to the pot, and saute a few more minutes. Next, sprinkle over everything 1 and 1/2 tablespoons curry powder, plus 1 tablespoon tamarind paste and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Stir to coat.
4.) Finally, add in a 14 oz. can of coconut milk, plus a squirt of agave nectar (to counteract the sour tamarind.) Throw in some chopped tomato if you have some, or a squirt of tomato paste.
5.) Cook for 15-20 minutes and taste to adjust seasonings.

Serve with rice, cashews, chopped herbs, ect.

Song of the Day: Ben Folds Five- Do it anyway


Vegan Mofo: Homemade Pizza

There is something really great about being able to control your own pizza destiny. Once you have an excellent dough recipe and an excellent sauce, its like, the world is your oyster pizza! If you have some vegan cheese lying around you can toss that on, or whip up some tofu ricotta from Vegan With a Vengeance. Or you can make it all healthy green stuff, safe in the knowledge that it still won't be *too* healthy. You could throw on tempeh bacon, caramelized onions, pineapple, corn (like they do in Europe) or any other crazy thing and its still going to be awesome!

For this edition of pizza roulette, I topped my little monster with shallots, brocoli, spinach, mushrooms and, the real kicker: soy curls drenched in BBQ sauce. It was kind of like that BBQ chicken pizza that was such a hit back in the nineties. Except way better because it was vegan homemade!

I know you guys can search through my pages yourself, but let me just hook you up with the no-fail dough and sauce recipes I use and save you the trouble in case you are in the mood for some pizza yourself.

  Pizza Crust
-1 packet yeast
-1 and 1/3 cup warm water
-1 tsp. salt
-1 T. agave (or honey or sugar, if you swing that way)
-Approx. 3.5 cups flour (for use a mix of white and whole wheat flour)
-2 T. olive oil, plus extra for the bowl

1.) In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast into the water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
2.) Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend together, kneading for 10 minutes, or until relatively smooth. At this point you can add in a bit more flour if its too sticky. (Nice to have an assistant on hand for that, since your hands will be covered in dough.)
3.) Form dough into a ball and place into a bowl that has been coated in oil. Set in a warm corner, covered by a damp cloth and leave it alone for an hour or so. (Pro-tip: My friend SMP let me in on a secret to quicker rising- just put your dough bowl into an oven along with a pot of freshly boiled water. The steamy oven will guarantee good a rise.)
4.) After time has passed, punch down the dough and divide into two balls. Leave one in the bowl and take the other one out, rolling out on a floured surface to your desired thinness and leaving some width on the sides for the crust. Transfer to pizza pan/ stone/ cookie sheet or just a rack.
5.) Top with toppings and bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
6.) Repeat with the other ball, or freeze/refrigerate for later use as pizza, breadsticks, or calzones.

 Easy Tomato Sauce
2 14 oz cans Diced/ Crushed Tomatoes
1 small onion, diced.
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1 tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

1.) Cook the onion in oil over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes. Then add in garlic and cook a few minutes longer. Add dash balsamic to deglaze. Then add in the rest of the ingredients. Raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust spices, then, using immersion blender, blend until smooth.

Song of the Day: Universal Heartbeat- Julianna Hatfield


Vegan Mofo: Mushroom Tibs

One thing about vegans is that we tend to have serious cookbook lust. Vegan cookbooks are portals into another world of not being outcasts because of our aversion to animal products, and we cling to them for dear life, hoping they will provide the perfect thing to serve to our in-laws or boss to trick them into thinking we are "normal." *(Which we will be in 20 years, when the entire world is vegan and artisan vegan cheese is in every corner market.)

Here in my household, my husband is a pretty good sport about not getting his desired ham and schnitzel dinners on the reg, but I still love finding a recipe that knocks socks off, vegan or not.

And I just found one yesterday, courtesy of (who else?) Isa Chandra Moskowitz, grand doyenne of Vegan cuisine. I've been reading her new cookbook, "Appetite for Reduction," more as recreational reading than instructional, but I decided to cook one of my bookmarked recipes yesterday, Mushroom Tibs.

An incredibly simple and pantry-friendly side, this is essentially mushrooms coated in a bit of tomato paste and tons of warm and sexy spices that will make your kitchen smell great. Served with some turmeric rice with raisins, and de-frosted green beans with tons of fresh lemon, I had an amazing, almost restaurant quality meal which thrilled us both for almost no cash.

Next time I will make twice as much! And there will be a next time, trust me.
Song of the Day: Aluna George- Your Drums, Your Love


Vegan Mofo: Vegan Pad Thai, in a way

Pad Thai is supposedly the national dish of Thailand, but those of us who grew up in Northern Virginia know: this is the dish of our people, too. Nova has an overflow of excellent Thai restaurants, and every Friday night without fail, government bureaucrats return home to their Lake Barcroft mini-mansions from a week of thanklessly pushing papers and sitting in traffic in our nation's capitol, to turn to their spouse and sigh: "Lets just order Thai."

This prevalence among the cosmopolitan upper-class has leaked into every nook of NOVA society, to the extent that my Art Teacher in high school would let us leave mid-class to go get takeout, as long as we brought back a shrimp Pad Thai for her, too. As kids, we went our for Thai before Prom and Homecoming, we went after victorious swim meets, we went our for Thai when we didn't have dates on Friday night. And now, when I come home to the US the first thing we do when we get off the plane is swing by Rabieng's to pick up a takeout order.

My point is: I love this dish. So when my boyfriend Husband S offered to go pick up the ingredients, I was thrilled. Until it came time to actually make the dinner and I realized he forgot something rather important. The noodles. He forgot the Pad!

So I wondered... can you make it with rice? It turns out, you can! Kind of! So this is my very tweaked take on the classic dish- minus noodles, fish sauce, and shrimp. Its vegan, and more of a Thai-style fried rice I guess, but its still absolutely delish.

Pad Thai Style Fried Rice

1 c. rice

3 Tbsp. Tamarind Paste
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp. Agave Nectar
2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
Chile Sauce or Chile Flakes, to taste

Peanut oil
3 cloves garlic, diced
The white part of one leek, sliced (OR half a head napa cabbage, sliced into thin strips)
4-5 green onions, sliced
2 handfuls Mung Bean Sprouts
1 package firm Tofu, pressed and sliced into small rectangles
Any other veggies you want to use up (e.g., sliced mushrooms, strips of peppers, broccoli, ect.)

2 Limes, sliced
Plenty of roasted peanuts for garnish

1.) Cook the rice. When its finished, remove to a bowl and drizzle with peanut oil, tossing a bit to coat. Set aside. (You want it as cool as possible so this would be great to do in advance~ or use leftover rice.)

2.) Next, in a small saucepan, combine tamarind paste, soy sauce, agave nectar, and vinegar. Bring to a simmer then lower heat and add chili flakes or sauce to taste. (Note: I used really thick tamarind that doesn't break down entirely, requiring me to add the mixture over a sieve. There are various types of tamarind paste out there so this may or may not be necessary.)

3.) In a wok heat the peanut oil to medium (but not to smoking.) Add tofu and fry for about five minutes or until lightly browned. Add in garlic, leeks and onions and cook a bit longer. Then add the rest of your veggies and sprouts and cook a little longer. Finally, add in your cooled rice and the tamarind mixture, tossing to coat. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until rice is fried  and sauce is evenly distributed.

4.) Serve with limes for squeezing and topped with roasted peanuts.

Song of the Day: Anita Ward- Ring My Bell


Vegan Mofo: Silver Dollar Pancakes

In my ongoing quest to make soulful vegan mofo-foodsies, today I had a special request for breakfast: Silver Dollar Pancakes! For the uninitiated, these are very special pancakes that take years of training and have nothing to do with normal pancakes. (Shhhh.... you just make normal pancakes, except smaller.)

Any-old-way, I used my old standby recipe from Vegan Brunch and doused them in maple syrup and vegan margarine. I served them alongside some grapefruit and amped up vegan wurstchen (sausages.) I trick them out by sprinkling garlic powder and paprika on them, which is basically enough to trick out anything.

Awesome breakfast, to be followed by problematic but still awesome dinner of Pad Thai!

Don't worry, I'll tell you tomorrow. :)

Song of the Day- Scissor Sisters- Don't Feel Like Dancing


Vegan Mofo: Miss America

Mashed potatoes and chickpea gravy, spicy tofu, steamed veggies
You know, its really great living in Germany and I have a great life here. But sometimes, its unavoidable, I just miss the USA.  I miss being able to get a bagel or a vegan cupcake or a soy pumpkin latte with great ease. I miss being able to watch the Daily Show at 11 pm instead of the next morning. Hell, I miss "pm". I miss movies without subtitles. And I especially miss that special brand of sarcasm, pop-culture references, and absurdity that defines the American sense of humor.

My hubby just went to Toronto last week, and thought its not the US, (its in a place called "Canada" for those of you who don't know) I was still insanely jealous that he was on the North American continent, with possible fleeting access to bagels and the kind of boisterous diversity that Germany has yet to accomplish. So this week, as I was focusing on my Vegan Mofo topic of "Soul Food" I was trying to think about what kind of Soul Food is really 'Merican. For me, really, it comes down to TV dinners and Pad Thai.

Sure, Pad Thai isn't very American, but that's what I grew up on (at least on special occasions) and the fact that Northern VA has such a embarassing riches of great Thai restaurants (among great Ethiopean, Salvadorean, Peruvian, ect) is EXTREMELY American. On the other side of the spectrum are the convenience foods- Mac and Cheese, Hot Dogs, Hamburger Helper- that people of a certain age and class grew up with.

Anyways, long explanation over- I was longing for some USA soul food today, so I went for what is to me classic TV dinner- Mashed potatoes and chickpea gravy, steamed broccoli and carrots, and some mystery meat (in this case, tofu is our meatloaf stand-in.) Simple and perfect- now it just needs one of those mushy microwaveable brownies....

Next up, Pad Thai!

Song of the Day: Weezer- American Girls


Vegan Mofo: Pumpkin Fries at SY's

I have a friend named SY who is very funny and talented, being equally skilled at feng shui, explaining German culture to beginners, booty dancing, and cooking wonderful food. She also has many nicknames which I like to taunt her with, including "Mamph-Mamph" (German for "yumyum!") and "Sookie Younhouse." (Having never seen True Blood she is less than thrilled with the last one, but tolerates it.)

ANYWAYS. I'm at her house today "working" and she made a lovely lunch centered around a Hokkaido Pumpkin, sliced, drenched in pungent pumpkin oil, and baked, kind of like "Pumpkin Fries".

It was delish and maybe a good idea for mo-foers looking for a way to consume their October pumpkin bounty.

Song of the Day: Against Me! -Thrash Unreal


Vegam Mofo: Enchiladas and Tacos

Potato Spinach Enchiladas with Chipotle Sauce
 One of the nice things about having a repetoire of dishes that you've made dozens of times is that , if the dish is flexible enough, you can tweak it to include just about anything. That's how I feel about Enchiladas. I've got this so down that so long as I have some diced tomatoes and tortillas, I can make an enchilada out of just about anything. This week? I used chipotle for spicing up the sauce, and potatoes and spinach for a filler. Topped with a bit of vegan yogurt for cooling and its pure comfort food.

The leftover tortillas I used as a vehicle for using up some of the other veggies hanging out in my kitchen. Acorn squash, baked with some thyme and olive oil makes a nice, mashable base for  a simple sofrito from extra onions and peppers. Garnished with some hot sauce and guacamole and you've got a very serviceable quick and easy Friday dinner after a week of cooking up a storm.

Song of the Day: Metric- Synthetica


Vegan Mofo: Choco-Raspberry Cupcakes

Chocolate cupcakes with buttercream icing and homemade raspberry preserve filling, a birthday treat for a friend. Maybe not soul-food, but definitely heavenly. 

Song of the Day: The Shoes- Time to Dance


Vegan Mofo: Black Eyed Pea Stew and Battered Okra

Hey guys! Its day 3 of Mofo and so far I made something Southern, something Latino, and today I continue my journey of soulfood with a dish from Carribean Vegan, the Black Eyed Pea Stew. The author, Taymer Mason, specifically mentions that this is a good dish for recovering from a cold because its hearty and nearly fat-free. Since I'm recovering from a cold, that really spoke to me. Its even extra perfect because I have a special love for black-eyed peas. Who wouldn't love a bean that is tasty, renowned for bringing good luck, and much faster to cook from scratch than your average bean? In this stew its also souped up with some carrots, tomato, and bajan seasoning- a must for cooking from this cookbook that I will demonstrate in a later post.

On the side I decided to have something fatty after all- battered okra. I know some people are totally icked out by Okra but ever since I discovered its wondrous properties in gumbo I'm all about it. For this I soaked it for a minute in soymilk, then dredged in a mixture of cornmeal, flour, salt and pepper and garlic powder. Then I fried it in a couple inches of oil. (I was kind of thinking about hush puppies.) Worked like a charm!

All in all, a totally soulful and satisfying Wednesday supper. Now it would only be more delicious if I could eat it alongside the Presidential Debate tonight in the US, but alas, I will have to enjoy that event with my morning coffee here in Gerrrrrmany.

Song of the Day: Portugal, the Man- So American


Vegan Mofo: A Tale of Two Chard Soups

Creamy Chard Soup w/ Tostones, from The Inspired Vegan
 I have this vision that comes to me when I'm feeling under the weather. Since I'm already compelled to eat lots of garlic, my Dayquil-addled brain reasons, why not just roast a shitload then make it into a soup? Yes, roasted garlic soup! With some greens! Why not? It should work!

Roasted Garlic Soup (kinda)
But you know, it kind of doesn't. I mean, its not horrible or anything, but I've never successfully managed to bring out the rich, velvety flavor of roasted garlic without drowning it in broth. Well pas failures aside,  I tried my old trick again this week, this time spicing it up with some swiss chard, mushrooms, and a bit of miso. (And then, since I was sick and couldn't taste it anyways, I squeezed a bunch of lemon juice and put a bunch more diced up garlic in there too.) It was fine. It got the job done- the job being "transporting nutrients to my system"- but one couldn't really call it "Soul Food."

I will perfect this one day, troopers. But this week, I had to make room for another Chard soup, this one from Bryant Terry.

I actually spend a lot of time on this blog discussing how much I like Bryant Terry, I realize, but he actually is so freaking cool that he sort of deserves it. His cookbooks are packed full of exactly what I would describe as "Soul Food"- vibrant, multi-ethnic dishes with history and flavor that doesn't come from using fancy ingredients. His Creamy Chard Soup with Tostones (pictured above), for example, has very few ingredients- some chard, coconut milk, a pinch of cayenne, some plantains- but its all about the technique and the mix. He says its inspired by a Carribean dish, with Tostones naturally being a Latin American addition that brings some crunch to the subtle soup. (They are also a fun way to release aggression, I have learned.)

So thanks to Terry for saving the day. And now on to the next culinary soul food adventure!

Song of the Day: Sister Nancy- Bam Bam


Vegan Mofo: Jambalaya

Jambalaya! I feel like there was a dorky commercial in the nineties advertising some instant Jambalaya-flavored rice mix, where a couple danced around the kitchen while a brass band plays, instantly transporting themselves from their hum-drum lives to the spicy streets of New Orleans.

Well, that commercial may have been stupid, but it got one thing right: something about the food of New Orleans makes people feel festive! Its interesting, because so much of said food is like, rice, gravy, and boiled crustaceans, but somehow the people there know how to transform humble beginnings into rarefied gourmet delicacies. Jambalaya is no different- you can't help but feel a little bit special when you make it. Just please don't make me cringe by dancing around your kitchen shouting, "Jamba-LAYA!"

Note: I don't pretend to be an expert on Authentic Cajun cooking (and certainly, vegan food tends to not be very "authentic").  This recipe is loosely inspired by several in the Southern Foodways Alliance Cookbook but they also have widely different ways of preparing it, including one version where the dish is baked. Of course, if you have alternative suggestions please feel free to chime in in the comments.

Vegan Jambalaya 
1- 2 Servings Vegan chorizo, (or other sausage) sliced (A cups worth is great)
1 medium onion, diced
1 Green pepper, diced
3 stalks (or so) celery, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup mushrooms, diced
2 cups rice
3 and 3/4 cups veggie broth (or water + bouillon, or faux-chiken broth)
1 tbs. Creole/ Cajun seasoning
2 Bay leaves
Sprig thyme
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes (with green chiles is good)
Liquid Smoke
Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper

1.) In a large pot, saute your sliced soy-sausages in oil. If they are chorizo flavored, you're good to go, but if they are plain, then soup them up generously with the following: paprika garlic powder, liquid smoke. After they are good and browned, remove them with a slotted spoon to a separate dish, and keep the flavored oil.
2.)  Add in the onions, celery, and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Then add in garlic and mushrooms and cook until softened, seasoning with salt and pepper.
3.) Add in water or veggie broth, tomatoes, Bay leaves, thyme and Cajun seasoning. Bring to a boil, then add in rice. Stir to combine, lower heat to a simmer, and cover until rice has absorbed most of liquid and is soft (you might need to add in more liquid if its too dry). Stir sausage back in and a dash of liquid smoke. Season to taste with Tabasco sauce and serve, alone or as part of a Cajun dinner.