Happy & Healthy New Year! – Vegan “Hoppin’ John” for 2013

Creole Hoppin'-Jean (jon) Vegan Soul Kitchen

Creole Hoppin’-Jean (jon) Vegan Soul Kitchen

It’s 2013!  Happy & Healthy New Year! 

I’ve decided it’s time for me to get back to blogging soulful, vegan goodness.  (Bookmark me and put me in your feed!)  Why not start the new year with a delicious vegan or vegetarian version of “Hoppin’ John?”  In this case, it’s called “Hoppin’ Jean,” and it’s soooo tasty, I have come to think of it as comfort food.  When I first made this dish back in 2009, here’s what I said:

“This was so good, I ate it for Meatless Monday…and then I ate it again for breakfast on Tuesday. Nuff said.”   

Cook this and you won’t regret it.   (But be careful to adjust the spice level to suit your own needs.  More pepper if you like it wicked hot.  Less if you like things mild.)   Click HERE for the recipe!

Super Healthy Collard Greens!

VSK Citrus Collards with Raisins

If you want to pair this with collards for the new year, try Bryant Terry’s Citrus Collard Greens?  Click HERE for a video of Bryant in action!

An African American New Year’s Tradition!
Want to be healthy, wealthy, and wise in 2013?
Cooking Hoppin’ John and Collard Greens on New Year’s Day is an old African American and Southern U.S. tradition.  The black eyed peas represent pennies or coins.  The greens represent dollars.   It’s said that if you cook these dishes on the first day of the new year, it will bring you wealth and luck.   And while I can’t guarantee that cooking the vegan versions will make money grow on trees, I can definitely guarantee this: If you add these two easy, inexpensive, protein and nutrition rich powerhouse recipes to your culinary repertoire  this year, you will surely be HEALTHIER.  If you substitute plant protein for meat protein at least one day a week this year,  you’ll save money. (WEALTHIER!)  And making healthy, money-saving decisions in this year- or in any year-  is nothing short of WISE.

Cheers!

Faith

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Filed under Beans, Black Eyed Peas, Collard Greens, Entrees, Green Things, Happy New Year, Meatless Monday, Side Dishes

Isa’s Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Soy Milk

Vegan MoFo III copy

VSK - Choc-Choc-Chip Cookies 046A

Isa’s Chandra Moskowitz’s “Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.” Click on the pic for the recipe. Or pick up a copy of “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy Free Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Treats.”

Awww….This is the last day of Vegan Mofo III, and I hate to see it go!  Oh well.  If we have to put MoFo III to bed, let’s put it to bed with comfort food: soy milk and cookies. I’ve made this cookie recipe twice. The first time I made it, my husband and I wolfed these cookies down so fast, we didn’t have time to photograph them!  Oh well. The second time’s a charm.   You can find the recipe for this cookie right here, on Isa’s crazy, informative and entertaining vegan website, the  Post Punk Kitchen. Or you can pick up the book she co-wrote with Terry Hope Romero, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and get a head start on your holiday baking.

Thanks for visiting me during Vegan Mofo III.   I hope to be back and doing it even better for Vegan Mofo IV.  But until then, I’ll still be blogging regularly from my very, soulful kitchen.

Peace,

Faith

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Filed under Desserts, Snacks, Uncategorized

Roasted Plantain Pieces with Roasted Garlic-Lime Dipping Sauce

Vegan MOFO - Plaintains Poster

Yet another winner from the cookbook "Vegan Soul Kitchen." Click on the pic for the recipe. But honestly? You really need to buy this book.

Plantains or Platanos.  If you’ve never had them, then please note that this is a fruit that must be cooked.  It is most often served as a snack or side dish to a savory entree.  While cooked plantains are tasty served all by themselves, they also sit nicely next to rice and beans, any “meaty” style vegan dish, or next to a plate of greens, and in my opinion they always steal the show.   Platanos Maduros (sweet plantains) are just magical.  My husband used to eat them in the morning, drizzled with  mojo sauce, along with his scrambled eggs and home fries.  (Vegans may happily substitute scrambled tofu for the eggs.)  I don’t think you can possibly have a bad day if you start with sweet plantains on your breakfast plate.

Plaintains can be purchased while green, yellow or black.  If you buy one that is still green, you can keep it around for a week or two.  When a plantain is green, if you cook it it’s flavor will be more along the lines of starchy foods like potatoes or casava root.  If a plantain is semi-ripe and yellow, or yellow with black spots, it will be moderately sweet and similar to, but NOT the same as a “dessert” banana.  (The plantains I cooked above were semi-ripe.)   If a plantain is black but not rotten, don’t throw it out!  It’s completely ripe, the fruit inside will have a beautiful, pink tinge, and the fruit will be sweet enough to use in preparing a dessert, but it will still taste a bit different than a banana.

Until now, I had always cooked yellow plantains by pan-frying them in a little oil, until the plantain pieces started to carmalize.  This method of cooking always left my plantains a little on the soft and oily side.   Bryant Terry’s recipe calls for roasting them.  I found that with roasting, I still got that great, carmalized flavor.  However, the plantain pieces were firmer, less oily, and I liked them better this way.   The plantain is another food that Terry pairs up with Roasted Garlic-Lime Dipping Sauce.  (Since I had some sauce left over from the night when I made the Roasted Root Vegetables, I  purposefully decided to make this plantain dish.)    Once again, this sauce added a surprising twist to an old favorite.   Yum.

Faith

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Filed under Appetisers, Green Things, Side Dishes, Snacks

Getting Back To My Roots.

VSK-Blackened Tofu 2 002A Poster

Blackened Tofu Slabs on a bed of Roasted Root Vegetables with Roasted Garlic-Lime Dipping Sauce - Vegan Soul Kitchen. For the tofu recipe, click on the pic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Root Vegetables with Roasted Garlic-Lime Dipping Sauce

I love roasted root vegetables.  If you’ve never cooked root vegetables before, let me assure you that you can not go wrong if you toss your favorite ones in a little olive oil and sea salt, and then roast them until they caramelize into nothing less than a pure, cold-weather dish full of comfort.  And because roasting root vegetables into utter perfection is easier than pie, it is no surprise that the first part of Bryant Terry’s recipe is as simple as they come.   (My only standing complaint is that using rutabagas and turnips seems redundant.  If you are serving children, you may want to skip those two altogether.)

But now for the second part of Terry’s recipe: Considering all that roasted roots have going for them, why would Terry add a Roasted Garlic-Lime Dipping Sauce to the mix?   I looked at that recipe and  wondered if the man had gone daft.  Who adds additional flavors to something that is already naturally rich in flavor?  I didn’t get it.  Still, Terry has been a pretty reliable guide thus far, so I gave the sauce a try.   And the verdict?  What a revelation.   The roasted garlic melded nicely with the root vegetables, while the citrus and cilantro flavors spun around and gave an old, comforting favorite a surprising,  tropical and upbeat twist.  The lime flavor actually brightened my mood a bit.  Basically, Terry took an old steady and reliable Fall/Winter dish, and added a little dash of fun.  (Or a little dash of sun, depending on your perspective.)

This is an example of what people are talking whenever they say it’s time to bring in someone with a new and fresh perspective. (I would have said new blood, but hey, this is a vegan blog, lol.)  We can talk about the merits of “tried and true” all day long.  I like “The Old Standards” just as much as the next guy.  But frankly?  Nothing get’s a joint jumpin’ like a DJ with a good remix.   Serving up remixes seem to be Terry’s specialty.  ‘Nuff said.

Blackened Tofu Slabs (without Succotash Salsa.)

Now, let’s talk about the tofu.  originally, this was supposed to be Terry’s Blackened Tofu Slabs with Succotash Salsa.  I didn’t have lima beans on hand, so I skipped the salsa.  Also, I think I misread the instructions, as everyone else who has cooked this dish came up with something that looked more like this version from Chow Vegan.  (Click that link.  Doesn’t that look good?)  Anyway…the Blackened Tofu was easy to make.  The rub was tasty.  I served it warm to my little ones, and the 4-year-old ate it without much complaint. (That says a lot.)  The 2-year-old refused to eat anything tonight, so I sampled the tofu from her plate, and it was tasty.  However, Marc and I had to wait for our opportunity to really give this dish a try. (Our food was having its “portrait” taken.)  By the time Marc finished, our tofu was cold.  I reheated the tofu, and much to my disappointment, the flavor had vanished.  Each bite seemed like an overwhelming slog through a mouthful of desperately…plain…tofu.  For that reason, I’m going to revisit this recipe.  The next time I make it, I’ll cut it properly, I’ll serve it fresh, I’ll make the salsa to go with it, and then I’ll report back to you guys.  Wish me luck!

Faith

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Filed under Beans and Vegan Protein Foods, Entrees, Green Things, Side Dishes, Tofu

Easy, now. Tempeh, tempeh!

The Vegan Month of Food 2009

The Vegan Month of Food 2009

VSK-Tempeh 006A

“Open-Faced BBQ Tempeh Sandwich” topped with “Straightforward Coleslaw,” from “Vegan Soul Kitchen” by Bryant Terry. Want the recipe? Click on the pic!

Until today, I’ve never made anything with tempeh that would make me call home.  Well, somebody get my mother on the phone, because this sandwich has put tempeh at the top of the charts!  Seriously, Dawgs (am I channeling Randy Jackson or something?)  This dish is in the big leagues.  This is the one that will make your meat eating friends ask for seconds.  This is the one you serve when someone says “I could never be a vegan; it would be too boring.”  Is your mama nagging you about your diet?  This is the one that will shut…your…mama… up.   All the same, I have a few caveats, so stay with me, okay?

When I finally sat down to prepare this dish, a fortuitous thing happened: I misplaced my cookbook.  Yup.  I panicked.  And then I got on the internet and searched for the recipes.   The original recipe was the “Open-Faced BBQ Sandwich with Carrot-Cayenne Coleslaw.” I found both recipes at The Atlantic. In the comment section, somebody named “Lara” had made this dish and said the sauce was “FANTASTIC,” if a bit on the hot side.  She planned to make a vat of the sauce, but decided to omit the cayenne from the coleslaw, as it did nothing to mitigate the heat from the tempeh.  Okay..Note taken.  Then I found Victoria, who had already blogged her efforts at The Idle Loaf, and she had a mixed review:  She liked it. Her husband didn’t. Victoria really likes barbecue, so considering “cayenne” was in the title, she was surprised that the sandwich wasn’t very spicy.  (What?!?!)  Victoria said if she were to make this sandwich again, she’d use her own BBQ sauce.  On top of that, both she and her hubby agreed there was too much vinegar flavor in the dish.  Her husband said he would have preferred a creamy coleslaw for contrast.   (Victoria also baked her own sandwich bread.  Sounds like a winning idea!)

With these reviews in mind, I set about preparing the BBQ sauce with a little trepidation.  Everyone has their own idea about what a good BBQ sauce should taste like.  Mostly, your ideas simply come from whatever you’ve been exposed to.  If all you’ve ever had was a simple, mass-produced commercial sauce full of corn syrup, well then anything that tastes bold or spicy might be tough to take.  If you’ve been lucky enough to try a variety of BBQ sauces, including regional and homemade sauces from around the U.S., as well as Korean and Japanese sauces, to name a few, your mind might be open to experiencing  other types of flavors as the top note.  Whatever the case, here’s the good thing– if you simply taste this sauce before you pour it on, you can tweak it to  fit your personal taste.  I added additional tomato sauce, two extra chipotles, and a tad more agave to mine, so the final result was thicker and spicier.  If you don’t like a lot of spice, you might want to stick to one chipotle, and skip the cayenne.  You might even want to add maple syrup, molasses, or pinapples bits- whatever floats your boat.  Somebody on VegWeb said it was too salty for her tastes.  She recommended diluting the tamari or using a low sodium tamari and low sodium tomato sauce– all excellent ideas for the salt-sensitive Soul Food lover.  Whatever you do, simply taste the sauce before you make your decision.   Once you’ve got the BBQ sauce tweeked to perfection, pour and bake or barbecue for the requisite time.  I baked mine for an hour, but when I saw some tempeh pieces on the edge that were darker than the ones in the middle, I knew I wanted the darker, richer results.  I shoved the pan back into the oven, uncovered, and baked it for another 10-15 minutes.   (Despite what it says on the dial, oven temperatures vary, so your results may differ.)

Now…the coleslaw/vinegar issue:  I like vinegar but I have my limits, so I take this criticism seriously.   At this point, I’ve made 16 of Bryant Terry’s recipes, and I know that for me, some of his recipes run a bit on the citrus and astringent side.  (Maybe it’s because he lives in California, where citrus fruits are plentiful?)   I’ve already put apple cider vinegar and lime juice in the BBQ sauce.  The Cayenne-Carrot Coleslaw that originally went with this dish calls for a lighter-flavored champagne vinegar, which I don’t have.  I use apple cider vingar instead.   I made a small sample of the coleslaw, and taste-tested it in conjunction with a piece of the barbecued tempeh.  Hmmm.  I decided that Victoria’s husband was right.  Lucky for me, right next to the “Carrot-Cayenne Coleslaw” recipe was the “Straightforward Coleslaw” recipe.  There were fewer ingredients used in the “Straightforward” version,  and 1/4 cup of silken tofu served to make a creamy, delicious tasting coleslaw that took almost no time to whip up.  I drizzled in a little extra agave, and YUM.   I had the contrast I was looking for.  (And now I’m thinking Victoria’s hubby has to give this recipe a second try!)

The end results?  Hubby and I devoured these open-faced sandwiches without mercy.  My husband called Bryant Terry a genius. (Seriously, I kid you not.)   He also added that this was the first time he was ever looking forward to left-overs.

Nuff said.   Make this sandwich and let me know what ya think!

Faith

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Filed under Beans and Vegan Protein Foods, Entrees, Sandwiches, Side Dishes, Snacks

Sexy (Vegan) Sadie Struts Her Stuff

Sweet Avenue Bakery Sexy Sade CC Dough PosterWhat’s a “food-porn” blog that doesn’t show a little icing every now and then? “Sexy Sadie” and “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough” cupcakes from the Sweet Avenue Bake Shop: Serving Cholesterol and Cruelty-Free Decadence since 2007.

Marc Skinner, Photographer/Guest Blogger

Participating in the Vegan Month of Food can be daunting the first time out.  It’s exhausting spending every second thinking one of two things: the ubiquitous “What’s for dinner?” and the even more distressing “I wonder if I’ll ever be able to eat dessert again.”

So, when the opportunity to get out of the kitchen and let someone else do the cooking, driving, and blogging came along, my wife jumped on it.    (That’s why I’m writing  today’s post.)  And what’s a better way to escape the kitchen than to take the family out on a nice little day trip that ends with yummy cupcakes?  I couldn’t think of  anything better.  (As I already mentioned, lately I’d been missing dessert.)

The Girls at the Sweet Avenue Bakery

Our great escape was a road trip up North to visit the Sweet Avenue Bake Shop in Rutherford, New Jersey. The Sweet Avenue Bake Shop serves up a variety of vegan sweets, but mostly it’s a  “gourmet vegan cupcakery.”  (I know.  I looked up “cupcakery” in the dictionary, too.)  We sampled the “Sexy Sadie” (best “red velvet” anything I’ve ever tasted, topped with a truly awesome vanila icing.)  The “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough” cupcake was a cute, baked confection that actually tasted like raw chocolate chip cookie dough. (How did they do that?!?)  Our 2 year old devoured the “White Chocolate Chai Latte” cupcake.  Our 4 year old is a little ghoul in training, so it took her a minute to choose between the two Halloween-themed cupcakes: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and the “Corpse Bride.”  She settled on the “Corpse Bride,” then slowly savored the icing. (By the way, Sweet Avenue also sells “icing shots.”)

Sweet Avenue Bake Shop is a family run business. The owners/bakers (that’s two of them on the right, not the left) are friendly and helpful.

Sweet Avenue Bakery 122A Cupcake and Staff

They rotate through a menu of  about 30 flavors at a time,  serving at least 12 different flavors each week, to vegans and non-vegans alike. (The non-vegans form a devoted, neighborhood clientèle, so shhhh!  Don’t tell them there aren’t any eggs or dairy products in the cupcakes!)  The bakers don’t use any pre-fab mixes.  They make their own dough and concoct many of their own flavors using really good stuff, like Madagascar vanilla and imported European chocolate.  They bake everything in small batches, so if you want a lot of cupcakes, call and order in advance.  (They also do mail order, deliver door-t0-door, and cater events.)
Okay, so at this point my might be thinking this is nice, Marc.  But what does this post have to do with “Soul Food?”  Well, I admit it: I can’t find cupcakes on any “official list” of “Soul Food Desserts,” per-se.  (I can’t find tempeh on the list either, but I hear Bryant Terry’s working on it. )  All the same, I don’t think since the 1970’s there’s been a single, soul-food cooking mama who hasn’t had to make a few batches of cupcakes for a bake sale or two.  So in my opinion, you have to consider the spirit in which the item was cooked.  Was the cook creative?  Were the flavors intense yet blended well?  Did everything just melt in your mouth?  Were there moments of pure, insane decadence?   Yup.    When it comes to baking cupcakes, Sweet Avenue definitely puts their foot in it.” That counts as “cooking vegan with soul,” to me.

Now, what’s for dinner?

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Filed under Desserts, Snacks

“Vegan Peace Waffles,” Anyone?

veganmofo
Waffle with SpreadHubby’s cell phone pic of my tasty “Naked Vegan Waffle.” Click on the waffle for recipe!

Mmmmm, waffles!

Breakfast is different around the world.  From country to country and from house to house, you just never know what you’ll get when you wake up in the morning.   Still…most people are picky about the way in which they start their day.  For that reason, some people say you shouldn’t mess with breakfast.  I understand this sentiment, because the thought of making pancakes or waffles without milk or eggs gave me pause.   I wasn’t worried about a change in flavor, so much.  But I was worried about a change in texture and compositional integrity.  I don’t like big, doughy messes, and when I wake up in the morning I am not in the mood for failure.  I worried that vegan recipes for  pancakes and waffles wouldn’t pan out.  So I fretted.  And I procrastinated.  And my kids ate cereal.   For weeks.  And then I fretted some more.  And then I found this website: WaffleParty.com And then I learned that my fretting was wasted energy.  That waffle you see up there?  It tasted every bit as yummy as it looks.  There was no compromise in waffle flavor or integrity whatsoever.  Serve these to your non-vegan friends, and the only thing they’ll have to say to you is “yum-o.”  These waffles stack up.

Anyone who’s been throwing “Waffle Parties” since 1998 knows a good waffle when they eat one. Considering Dave and Jen Wheitner’sWaffle Parties” have been vegan since 2007, they’ve had lot’s of time to work out the kinks.  But why in the world do these people host “Waffle Parties?”   Good question.  I can’t really figure out why they started all this.  But whatever the genesis, today it’s the fun and friendly way in which they help people promote healthy, compassionate and sustainable ways of eating all over the world, during the months of May and June.

Make Waffles, Not War? On September 24, 2009,  in Pittsburgh, PA, Dave and Jen held a “G-20 Vegan Peace Waffle Summit” to express their support for environmental, food security, human rights, animal rights, and public health causes.  They offered their “Vegan Peace Waffles” to anyone in Pittsburgh who was participating in G-20 activities.  Now how cool was that?

Vegans everywhere share a concern for the health of our planet, it’s people, and it’s animals.  We all dream of a peaceful and creualty-free future.  However, nothing is going to change if we don’t act.  So the next time you want to make a difference, don’t club your friends and family over the head with veganism.  (Not sustainable.)   Instead, dust off your waffle iron, feed some folks, consider throwing a waffle party, and make a few people smile.   Then tell them the truth in love.  Talk about the food we eat and it’s impact on our our health and happiness.  Talk about how our choices affect food availability to people all over the world.  Talk about the environment, the animals, whatever you want if you can broach it in a way that won’t cause nausea and indigestion.   And then send people home with a recipe for vegan waffles, because breakfast is a great way to start a the day….and it’s even better if you start it the vegan way.

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Filed under Appetisers, Breads & Muffins, Desserts, Entrees, Snacks