Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vegan Pad Thai.

On the heels of my adventures in Pad Thai Soup a couple of weeks ago, I decided to try out the more traditional version of the dish tonight.  And so, armed with a recipe from the great Robin Robertson’s Vegan Planet, I got home and went straight to work in the kitchen.

Thai and Asian dishes are always very daunting for me – they have a ton of preparation steps – but once you get right down to the cooking, they’re really not difficult at all.  The same was true for this Pad Thai recipe!  Once I got through the prep work, I was home-free.

As the rice noodles cooked, I sautéed the tofu in peanut oil, and then stir-fried some bell pepper, garlic, and scallion.  Then I added a diced tomato along with some seasonings – soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and the like – and tossed the tofu back in.  By this point, the rice noodles were also finished, so I added them in and tossed everything around, dousing the pan with a little more peanut oil for good measure.

The end result was good, but “just” good – it lacked a bit of the peanutty taste I’ve come to know and love about restaurant-style Pad Thai.  I’m certain I read the directions properly and followed suit in my cooking; the peanut oil just didn’t add enough of that nutty flavor for my liking.  But LeeLee and I solved that tableside!  We just went into the cabinet, pulled out a jar of peanut butter, and added a spoonful to each of our plates, blending it in with the hot noodles.  Voila!  Extra peanut flavor in no time.

Even with our dinnertime hack, though, this wasn’t the best dish I’ve ever made.  I was glad to try it – and I love Robin Robertson! – but this just wasn’t my favorite.  It was edible, it was even enjoyable, but it wasn’t quite up to par.  Oh, well.  Not every recipe can win the Michelin Five Stars! ;)


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Old Faithful.

Tonight was Animal Shelter Night, and by the time I got home, LeeLee and I were both hungry and had neither the time nor the taste for tomfoolery.  The ingredients for black beans and rice – or, as longtime readers of this blog know it, Old Faithful – were close at hand, and a half-hour later the finished product was sitting on the table, ready for consumption.

I think one of the things I love most about Old Faithful – other than the taste, of course – is the versatility of the dish.  For instance, tonight we had some leftover lettuce, onion, and tomato on hand from Sunday night’s cookout, and so I diced everything up to add as garnish (or, perhaps more accurately, as a side dish – we tend to be a bit heavy-handed with the garnish around here!).  I pulled out a new bag of Daiya pepperjack cheese to add atop the meal, and we still had a wonderful jarred salsa from last week’s tostadas, plus some little spicy pickled peppers from a cocktail party this weekend.  And last but not least, I always keep several cans of black olives on hand for salads and suchlike – they fit in just beautifully with tonight’s dinner, as ever.

I’ve gone over and over the actual making of black beans and rice, so I won’t go into a long dissertation again here.  Suffice it to say, the rice blended nicely with a packet of Goya seasoning during its stint in the rice cooker, and I spruced up a plain can of black beans with some adobo seasoning during the cooking process.  We were both in need of a little extra protein, so I added a chik’n patty to each plate – instead of baking them, I microwaved them, because again, who had the time for tomfoolery?

And the final result was, as ever, delicious and spicy.  The salsa and pickled peppers added a little extra kick, which we both really enjoyed, and the vegetables gave us some much-needed greenery in today’s diet.  :)  Once again, Old Faithful came through for us – it always does in a pinch!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Veggie Burgers With Peas and Tater Tots.

First of all, let us just take a moment to breathe in the long-awaited spring air (pollen optional) and thank the Powers That Be for finally making it out of winter and into our very first cookout of the season.

Yes!  You heard me right!  Finally, finally, after several false starts over the last month, I fired up our trusty Aussie grill, complete with a showroom-new grill grate and ash dump, and got to work.  First up was an aluminum grill pan teeming with English peas (seasoned with black pepper), which I covered with foil and cooked for half an hour or so.  As it cooked, I baked a sheet of tater tots in the oven indoors (because I still can’t figure out how to make them nice and crispy on the open flame – but give me time!).

While the peas and tots warmed up, I opened up a beer and sat down to leaf through the latest Real Simple.  But not just any beer – a Double Take from a six-pack that LeeLee and I picked up today while at the Safeway.  Why am I mentioning this?  Because said six-packs were on sale for 50% off – on top of a pre-existing sale!  So a $7.99 sixer cost us $3.  Which, as LeeLee pointed out over dinner, means each bottle is precisely $0.50.  Fifty cents!  Now that’s what I call spring fever.

When I was about 10 minutes from dinnertime, I put four veggie burgers onto the grill to warm up, and before long they were sizzling and juicy.  As I took them up, I put two buns on to toast.  I like to cook with a wide-open heat (if it can’t be grilled at full steam ahead, what’s the point?), so they were nearly too brown in no time. ;)

The results were springtime personified.  Everything tastes better after being grilled, and tonight’s meal was no different.  The first cookout of the season always adds extra flair – the newness of the year’s Sunday cookouts hasn’t work off yet!  After the winter we’ve had, I doubt we’ll settle into complacency any time soon.  Veggie burgers, 50-cent beers – what’s not to love?


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Vegan Grilled-Cheese Sandwiches With Tomato Soup.

Roundabout 10 a.m. today, LeeLee called to say he’d been pulled into a meeting for tonight – a meeting, I might add, where they’ll serve nice appetizers and wine, so let’s not feel too sorry for him.  ;)  I had originally planned on making black beans and rice for dinner tonight, but once I’d be dining alone, I decided to forge a new path!

So once I got home and got hungry (for once, the two were not synonymous), I pulled a container of soup out of the freezer and began to warm it up in a saucepan.  I’d enjoyed the other half of this soup several months ago and froze the leftovers for just such an occasion as tonight’s!  (I admit, as well, that I’m a bit relieved to be cleaning out the freezer; I need more space for some Easter goodies!)

When the soup was almost hot enough, I plugged in my trusty sandwich press and prepared a grilled-cheese.  Atop two slices of bread I added some Vegenaise and two slices of Daiya cheddar, and then sliced a Roma tomato to sit in the middle of the sandwich.  Once it was assembled, I put it in the press and let it cook until the cheese was bubbling out and the bread was nicely golden brown.

And then it was time to eat!  I used a couple of leftover tostada shells from last night as a dipping vessel for my soup, which gave it a nice crunch.  And dinner was fantastic!  I didn’t have a single morsel left by the end, and if the Wonder-Cat had gotten her way, she would have helped.  (What you don’t see in the photo above is Lucky, sitting atop the coffee table just off to the left of my TV tray, watching intently, waiting for the perfect moment to strike!)


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vegetarian “Beef” and Bean Tostadas With Rice.

Tonight, in advance of this weekend’s Sushi Night (to celebrate the cherry blossoms, you see), LeeLee and I ventured to the West End of Alexandria in order to visit our favorite international grocery store, the much-beloved Grand Mart – which, we were surprised to see, has been rebranded “New Grand Mart” since our last visit.  Sushi rice, inari wrappers, nori, veggie dumplings, and Japanese desserts were at the top of our shopping list, but we also needed something to make for dinner and figured why not enjoy some one-stop shopping – and some fun international cuisine while we were at it!

That’s how we ended up with a package of tostada shells, a can of mayocoba refried beans, and a new spicy salsa in our cart along with our Japanese cuisine.  Paired up with some veggie beef crumbles and yellow rice from home, we had a feast coming down the tracks!

When we got home and unloaded everything into the fridge, freezer, and pantry, I put on a cup of rice (with Goya seasoning added for color and taste) in the rice cooker and then began to sautee the veggie crumbles (seasoned with adobo seasoning) at a medium heat.  I confess I was too lazy to heat up the refried beans the appropriate way on the stove, so instead I just warmed them in the microwave once the rice was nearly finished!  As everything cooked, I prepared some lettuce and halved some cherry tomatoes, then chopped some parsley (we were out of cilantro) and opened a can of sliced black olives.  Lo and behold, we also had an unopened bag of Daiya cheddar cheese in the fridge, so I added it to the table for garnish.

Once the rice was ready, it was time to dress up our tostadas!  On each shell we added a hearty helping of beans (this was our first time enjoying mayocoba beans – we loved them!), then a good amount of crumbles, and then all of our veggies and cheese and salsa and hot sauce.  :)  Several spoonfuls of rice rounded out the meal, which we devoured with gusto.  So much gusto, in fact, that we have no leftovers to show for it, but that’s OK.  Sandwiches will have to suffice for tomorrow’s lunch instead!