Saturday, September 25, 2010

Roasted Garlic and Fennel on Bread


I have mentioned that I am moving into a new apartment at the end of this month.  This apartment will be the 4th apartment that Ash and I have lived in together.  I don't know about other couples, but for us, surviving 4 moves together is a big deal.  We've both agreed that moving tends to bring out some of the worst parts about each of us -- the little cranky moods and sarcastic comments that one can only utter when they are lifting an extremely large and heavy couch. 

We made the decision that this moving process is going to be different.  So far, like most resolutions, we're still struggling with it, but I have hope.  My little contribution to our goal has been (what a surprise!) making food.  When one of us starts getting fatigued and cranky from packing, I know this is my cue to head to the kitchen and not come out until I have something yummy in hand.  Today, this was our little lifesaver.

Even if you are not a big fennel fan, when it's baked like this and then nestled between fresh tomatoes and roasted garlic, you can't go wrong.  This involves minimal prep, which is perfect if you happen to be cooking amongst large stacks of moving boxes.  Enjoy!


Ingredients: 
1 loaf of fresh bread (I love rosemary)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
four bulbs of garlic
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper
balsamic vinegar
dried basil and oregano

Roasted garlic:
Remove loose outer leaves. Cut off tops of bulbs so that each clove is open at the top. Drizzle a little olive oil over each bulb. Set the bulbs in the center of a garlic baking dish (if you have one) and cover the the lid.

Place in a cold oven and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 45 minutes or until garlic is tender and husks are golden brown. Add more olive oil as necessary.

Baked fennel:
Select a heavy roasting pan or large gratin dish. Remove any fennel fronds. Cut the top stalks from the fennel and reserve for stock (or juice!). Slice the base into thin slices - it's best to have a very sharp knife for this.

Set in the roasting pan, seasoning lightly with salt and drizzling with olive oil. The fennel does not have to fit in a single layer.  Cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake alongside the garlic at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes to let the flavors heighten.

Bread:
Cut into 1-inch slices. After you have pulled the garlic and fennel from the oven, place the bread slices directly on the racks for 5-8 minutes to heat. Leave it in for 5 minutes if you like softer bread, 8 minutes if you like it a bit harder.

Once you have warmed your bread and given the garlic a chance to cool, remove the garlic from its skin and spread a few cloves over each bread slice. Top with a layer of roasted fennel and a few fresh tomatoes. Sprinkle with dried basil, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Drizzle with more olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Raw Tomato and Pesto Pizza


The other day someone asked Ashley why Americans love pizza so much.  She answered that it must be the cheese.  Her logic is that any pizza with good cheese is going to be delicious. What are your thoughts on the subject?

I'm not sure how I feel about the cheese theory.  Don't get me wrong - in my former life I have eaten plenty of pizzas topped with cheese, stuffed with cheese, and even overflowing with cheese.  Most of them were very delicious.  But now, living the cheese-less life, I still have faith that a pizza can be delicious without the meat, without the cheese, and (dare I say it?) without being cooked.

There are plenty of amazing cooked vegan pizzas, but I am loving this raw one at the moment.  It's a great way to use up any pesto you may have on hand and all those beautiful tomatoes lying around. 

Pesto:
1 cup de-stemmed basil
1/4 cup walnuts
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

Combine the basil, nuts, and garlic in a food processor and process until it forms a course paste. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady drizzle and continue to process until it becomes a smooth texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This makes roughly 1/2 cup of pesto, which is more than enough for the 8 pizzas.

Marinated onions:
Cut 1 red onion into thin slices. Place in a glass jar or container. Then fill with the apple cider vinegar marinade: 1 part apple cider vinegar to 1 part water. Let them marinate overnight. They will keep for about a week or so in the fridge.

Raw Flax Crust: From The Raw 50 by Carol Alt, this makes 8 crusts:
1 cup golden flax seeds
1 cup water
2 cups raw almonds, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Grind the flax seeds finely in a spice or coffee grinder. Soak the ground seeds in the water until it is completely absorbed, stirring occasionally (this should take about 2 hours). Place the soaked flax seeds in a food processor and add the almonds, onion, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Process until the mixture is finely ground and well mixed.

Roll the dough in your hands to form 8 balls of equal size. Once the balls are rolled, flatten them evenly with the palm of your hand.

Place the pizza breads on a Teflex-lined dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 115 degrees F for 4 hours. Then flip the breads over onto the dehydrator trays and remove the Teflex liners. Continue to dehydrate for another 4 hours, or until done. You can make bigger pizza breads, which will take longer to dehydrate.

Other ingredients:
Several tomatoes, sliced (use any variety you like)
Salt & pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
Any other fresh or dried herbs for garnish


Assembly:
Take your pizza crust and add a layer of pesto. Arrange your layer of sliced tomatoes and top with a little salt and pepper. Garnish with a few marinated onions, a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of fresh or dried herbs.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Roasted Summer Squash

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

What is your favorite memory from this summer? A few days ago I was at the gym and realized that the first day of fall was quickly approaching. It made me reflect on this summer and all of the goals I had made for myself: going to the beach more often, visiting with friends, and picking berries. I never made it to the lavender farm or out hiking, but hopefully there's always next year.

What made this summer amazing for me (besides the delicious produce!) was all of the little things that happened that I didn't plan for or anticipate. I didn't expect that my favorite memory of this summer would be riding my bike. I love challenging myself and pushing myself to do things that scare me. I decided that this summer would be the perfect time to start riding my bike to work. And riding a bike through downtown Seattle by myself? Terrifying. (Okay, there are a few bike lanes here and there, but it's still scary!) I never in a million years would have thought that I would have the physical endurance or ability to do it. But, I love proving myself wrong.

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt

I've had the most amazing rides in the last couple of days. The other day on my way home, I got caught in the rain. It was one of those gloomy Seattle rains too -- the kind where the entire sky turns grey and just when I thought it couldn't possibly rain anymore, the rain came down harder. Then harder.

At first, I wanted to give up. I had never ridden in rain like this and I wasn't sure if I could make it home. My shoes were gushing as I petaled and the sleeves of my jacket were filling up with water. I decided to take a piece of advice from Ms. Eleanor Roosevelt and keep going. Not only did I make it home in record time, but I proved to myself that, once again, I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for.

I rode across the Eastlake bridge this morning on my way to work and watched the sunrise. Leaves were falling along the sidewalk. The cool breeze flew past me. It was the most beautiful ride of the season. Bring it on, fall. I'm ready now.

The only thing better than that ride was coming home and making some of this delicious squash. It's super easy to make and I promise that you already have the ingredients. It's great as a side dish or served over some quinoa.

Ingredients:
olive oil
1 onion
4 medium summer squash (any variety of your choice)
salt & pepper



Directions:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Trim the ends off of your squash and slice them about 1/4-inch thick. Lay on a cookie sheet (it's best if they are in a single layer) and drizzle with olive oil.

Next, trim the ends off of your onion and peel it. Then slice it up into thin wedges and toss over the squash. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Bake it for about 15 minutes, then flip it over and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Bake the other side for another 15 minutes. It should be lightly browned. Pull from the oven and serve.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Storm Couscous Salad

If you are a big fan of the WNBA, live with a big fan of the WNBA, or happen to live in Seattle, I'm sure you've heard by now that the Seattle Storm won the WNBA championship on Thursday. Congrats, ladies! You had a great season and you earned it.

Other than that it's been a pretty quiet week here. I caught a cold a few days ago and have been fighting it off -- lots of fresh-juiced OJ and other healing tonics from my juicer this week. There's also been lots of naps. And boy, have I learned to appreciate the beauty of the nap in the last few days.

I've been eating a lot soup too, but since we're heading into soup season I don't want to give it all away too soon. Don't worry, there's plenty of soup recipes to come. Today I decided to make something quick and simple so, of course, couscous came to mind. Quinoa would also work well in this salad.

This is a great way to use up a few veggies in your drawer, celebrate with Storm colors (green, red, and yellow), and get over a cold. Salud!


2 cups cooked couscous
1 cucumber, halved, then sliced into thin wedges
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 cup garbanzo beans
small handful of kalamata olives, sliced in half
Juice from two lemons
About 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped finely
2 Tbs olive oil

Cook your couscous according to the package directions. Prep your veggies then mix your couscous, cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, garbanzo beans, and olives in a bowl. Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, and mint together then pour over the other ingredients and toss. It's best to allow this to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavors meld together.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Firsts, Lasts, and Baked Peaches

Firsts...
Apples started showing up this weekend. Their little red faces popping up at the market, ready and eager. It was as if they were saying, well it's about time. Yes it is.

Were you at Seattle Tilth's Harvest Fair on Saturday? I hope so. I hope you were one of the people crowding around to look at the most beautiful peppers. Or maybe I ran into you at the book tent where I bought one of my favorite cookbooks, The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook by Debra Daniels-Zeller. Nonetheless I hope you were there too, taking in the harvest, the last bits of sunshine, and the last bites of summer peaches.

Lasts...
I've mentioned that I'm moving at the end of the month. I'm definitely ready and excited for this change, but moving into a much smaller apartment means giving up a lot. Last night, it meant giving up my kitchen table.

I was okay with this idea. I mean, I was the one who posted it on Craigslist for sale. But for some reason, once it sold it was hard to let go. It's not hard to let go of the physical posession, but rather what that dining table meant. It was the first piece of furniture I bought myself. A lot of life happened at that table. A lot of growing up, change, conversations, and food happened there.

So there I sat for the last meal. Waiting for the person from Craigslist to arrive, reading my cookbook by candlelight, letting go, and making room in my life for what's next to come.

Baked Peaches
It would not have been a proper goodbye without baked peaches. I had always considered myself to be a bigger fan of nectarines than peaches, but somehow that changed this summer. It only seems right to spend my last meal at my dining table eating my new favorite food.

Once you try baked peaches - especially over Coconut Bliss ice cream - it will become your favorite too. Even if you're not fond of the fruit itself, there's something that happens in the oven that makes it absolutely magical.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe for baked nectarines in The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook.

Serves 2.

2 peaches, halved and pitted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar (if you want it sweeter, you can add a second tablespoon)
freshly grated nutmeg
dash of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the peach halves, cut side down, in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, nutmeg, and drizzle with agave. Bake uncovered until very tender, about 30 minutes. Serve over vegan ice cream or yogurt with a dash of cinnamon.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Classic Tofu Sandwich

It wouldn't be right to enter back-to-school season without talking about sandwiches. However, I have to admit I feel a little weird about putting a tofu sandwich on a vegan blog. I mean, that's all vegans eat anyway, right? Just tofu and salads?

Nonetheless, this is one of my favorite and easiest-to-make tofu sandwiches. Here are some reasons why you will love it too:
  1. Prep time is less than 10 minutes - which is perfect for when you're super hungry or scrambling to pack a lunch first thing in the morning.
  2. It's a cold sandwich (great for taking on-the-go!)
  3. It's filling! One of the big problems that I have with other vegan sandwiches is that they use too much processed fake meat or it's all veggies (and then I'm hungry an hour later). This one guarantees the best of both worlds.
Makes about 6 sandwiches

1 loaf of good whole grain bread (my fave is Dave's Killer Bread)
1 Block of Tofu (I usually use plain extra-firm)
1 container of sprouts
1 cucumber, sliced
1 onion, sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dijon Mustard to taste
2 Avocados

To keep prep time to a minimum, grill your tofu ahead of time:
Cut your tofu block into 1/2-inch slices. Add a little oil to a grill or frying pan and cook the tofu slices on medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side, or until it is medium brown. Place in a glass container and store in the fridge until ready to use.

To assemble the sandwich:
Grab your bread and add Dijon mustard to one slice and mash about a third of an avocado to another. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on one side. Add two pieces of tofu and a few slices of cucumber and onion. Top with sprouts and serve.

If you're not a cucumber fan, you could always substitute some grilled bell peppers or zucchini. Tomatoes go well on this too.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lemon Sesame Asparagus

Maybe it's just me, but I've been feeling fall in the air lately. The crisp, cool mornings. That beautiful rain all this week. I know, I know I just said the word that no Seattleite wants to think about it. So how about we really live up the last few weeks of summer?

And while we're celebrating the change in season, let's celebrate some food. This is the 100th post of the For The Love of Food blog. What a long way we've come. Thank you to all the readers and supporters-- those that have been here since the beginning and those that joined along the way. It wouldn't be as fun to cook without you.

I know asparagus season came and went, but apparently I didn't get enough. If your life is lacking in asparagus too, then join in the fun. You won't be disappointed.


Serves 6.

2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain. Rinse asparagus under cold water, draining again.

Heat toasted sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and sauté until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and toss until well coated, about 1 minute. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Greek Salad


Become a student of change. It is the only thing that will remain constant.
Anthony J. D’Angelo

You may have guessed by now that I love food. Well, in the process of reviewing my finances from August, I realized that I may love food too much. Last month I broke my own record and spent more on food than on my rent. Eek!

At first I wanted to kick myself for all the trips to the farmer's market for extra tomatoes or nectarines. These certainly aren't necessities and, of course, I could live without them. But, where would my life be without these things?

I had an internal debate with myself for awhile and then decided that even though these costs add up, the joy they bring me is worth it. This is the time of the year to enjoy perfectly ripe nectarines or tomatoes that aren't flown in from Mexico. And, this blog was started with the intention of reconnecting me with my food. Apparently it has worked! I can now confidently say that pleasure and joy are present in every one of my meals.

So, instead of regrets, let's celebrate! Let's celebrate and live up tomato season while we have it. After all, it won't be here forever.

This salad is a vegan twist on the classic Greek salad. With marinated tofu, you won't miss the feta and it makes the dish a bit heartier.

Marinade:
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1 block tofu, sliced into small cubes
1 cucumber, seeds removed & sliced into half-moon shapes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/3 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
1/2 red onion, sliced
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix the ingredients for the marinade and let the tofu soak it up for a few hours. Then mix the tofu and other ingredients together. Finish it off with a drizzle of olive oil and salt & pepper to taste.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies


There's been so much change happening in my neck of the woods. The leaves are starting to turn red. The days are growing dark by 8 pm. My organization recently moved. I suddenly like watching basketball (Go Storm!). Ashley is graduating. And in 30 days, I will be leaving my home. I've lived in the U-District of Seattle for the past six years. Let's just say I have my usual routines down -- shopping at the Farmer's Market each Saturday, eating at my favorite restaurants (Chaco Canyon Cafe, Araya's Vegetarian Place, and Pizza Pi), and getting the best vegan cookies from Starlife on the Oasis Cafe. In one month I will be moving to Fremont -- changing apartments, neighborhoods, gyms, the works. This may sound trivial, but it's been enough lately to rock my little world.

The non-profit I work for recently moved into a building right above Specialty's Bakery and Cafe. Being the only vegan in the office is torture. I am now subjected to the smell of warm cookies on a daily basis and have to constantly resist the tasty treats left on the kitchen counter.

I was inspired to make some vegan cookies that not only rocked my socks off, but gave Specialty's a run for its money. This recipe is a vegan version of Sarah's chocolate chip cookies from In Praise of Leftovers. I'm guessing that after you try these, you will also be able to resist all of the treats in your office. That, and Sarah will be your new favorite person.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. flour
2 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 ts. baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup Earth Balance, melted and cooled
Egg replacer for 2 eggs (I use Ener-G brand)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 bag chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. In medium bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, sugars, salt, and baking soda. Add egg replacer, Earth Balance, and vanilla, stir once or twice, then add chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for about 30 minutes to firm it up. Place balls of cookie dough on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, and bake for about 9 minutes. Take them out while they still a little underdone. Once they sit for 15 minutes, they’ll be just right.