Mar 24, 2011

Vegan Corn Chowder, Updated

Soup is always on the top of my list on a cold blustery day like today. It seems like Mr. Snow Miser is still battling it out with Mr. Heat Miser, and here in Northern California, it's turned into Mr. Miserably Cold Rain Miser!

If you're too young to remember Mr. Snow & Mr. Heat Miser, here they are, in all their 1974 claymation glory.

Which strangely enough, leads nicely into the "corny-ness" of this soup (insert gratuitous laugh track here).

Anyway- this updated version has a touch of parsnips in it, which adds that disctinctive spicy sweet flavor that compliments the corn. I added a bit of tempeh bacon bits to add some salty smokey contrast- not to mention protein, and a garnish of fragrant lemon thyme, which is now growing like a chia pet on my windowsill. The scent of it makes me want to bathe in it (the lemon thyme, not the chowder).

Makes one big pot of soup- if you only have a few people, you might want to halve this recipe.

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch of salt
1 1/2 C. potato (I used red potatoes, skinned and chopped)
1 C. parnsips, peeled and chopped
6 C. water
1 16oz. bag of frozen yellow corn
1/3 C. nutritional yeast flakes
salt & pepper to taste

Sweat the onions and garlic in the olive oil with a pinch of salt in a large soup pot. Add potatoes, parsnips, and water. Cover, and let simmer until everything is tender. Stir in the corn, nutritional yeast
and salt/pepper to taste. Let it come to a simmer again, then turn off heat. Transfer to a blender, and puree until silky smooth. Remember to leave a small opening at the top of the blender to allow steam to escape, unless you want an explosion! You may need to divide into two batches. Serve nice and hot.

Mar 22, 2011

Vegan Fruit Sweetened Banana Bread

Sometimes you just want your food to give you a nice warm hug. It's that familiar feeling of comfort, as you inhale that special aroma from your childhood, savor that distinctive combination of textures and flavors on your tongue. Perhaps it'll remind you of days spent in your grandmother's kitchen, or that old haunt of a diner that served up your favorite mid-term meals in college.

It's the reason why you love to eat.

This is one of those foods for me, and I think for a lot of people. It seems like everyone's mom made banana bread- warm and fragrant from the oven, with that toasty carmelized crust, tender moist cake with crunchy walnuts and sweet raisins inside. It does take me back, to that goofy little wide-eyed girl who found the simplest things interesting. Sometimes it's fun to feel like that again!

This version, which is made with spelt flour and sweetened with dates and bananas, never lasts very long in my household of five adults. I have a feeling we share similar memories.

This makes 2 large loaves

1 C. soy milk
1 C. water
2 C. pitted dates (split in half to check for stray pits, and packed well into the measuring cup)
2 C. banana puree (about 2 large bananas, or 3 medium)
2-3 extra bananas for topping
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 T. ground flax seeds
1 C. canola oil
3 1/2 C. spelt flour (or all purpose flour)
1 T. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 C. chopped walnuts
1 C. raisins

In a sauce pan, heat water, soymilk, and dates until just boiling. Turn off heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. In a food processor, puree bananas, vanilla, vinegar, and flax seeds. Add the date mixture and puree until smooth. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt, making sure they are well mixed. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and mix until just combined. Mix in walnuts and raisins. The batter will be thick and gooey. Pour it into two 5 x 9" loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Slice extra bananas and press halfway into the top of each loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Mar 18, 2011

A Dream of Spring, and Vegan Cucumber Sandwiches

All nature seems at work
Slugs leave their lair
The bees are stirring--birds are on the wing
And winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face
A dream of Spring

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Light and refreshing, like Spring itself, these creamy crunchy treats are not only a favorite around here, but a snap to make.  It's all in the dip.

Creamy Dill Spinach Dip
1 package extra firm Mori Nu tofu (12 oz.)
1 C. Vegennaise
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
8 oz. frozen spinach, thawed, pressed, and drained (or a couple handfuls of fresh spinach)
2-3 T. fresh dill (or 1 tsp. dried)

Put the tofu, Vegennaise, garlic powder, and salt into a food processor and spin until smooth.  Add the spinach and dill, and pulse until well incorporated.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Makes a big bowl of dip.

To assemble the sandwiches, cut crusts off bread and into desired shapes (I used a biscuit cutter).  Toast the bottoms lightly if desired.  Spread dip evenly, add cucumber slice, and garnish with dill.