Weekly Wednesday Round-Up – Raw Pasta, Pita Pizza, and Whole Foods

I want to start doing a weekly Wednesday roundup of yummy meals I’ve made. Basically anything I’d put in the PPK’s Food Porn section, but doesn’t deserve an entire blog post.

One of my first raw food meals ever (not counting salad)! Spiralized zucchini and rich marinara sauce.
raw pasta

The mini restaurant inside our local Whole Foods has a vegan sandwich! It’s toasted sour dough bread with balsamic tomatoes, arugula, onions, and basil hummus. Served with a side of roasted red skin potatoes.

Whole Foods sandwich

Fried tofu (from Whole Food’s hot bar) and mashed cheezy bacon potatoes.
fried tofu and potatoes

Pita pizza with mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, and nutritional yeast.

pita pizza

Veggie stir fry with kale, tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms all piled on top of brown rice. rice stir fry

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Vinegar Variety (part I)

The other day, as I was observing my pantry shelf, I realized I had a semi-dusty almost full bottle of red wine vinegar. I hate buying something for one recipe then never using it again, so I searched online for “recipes with red wine vinegar” and almost every recipe was for salad dressing. Now I don’t mind a good red wine vinaigrette, but I was surprised with the lack of variety.

From that incident, I decided that vinegar seems to be a bit of an under appreciated pantry staple. Due to that, I’ve decided to dedicate two posts to writing about different types of vinegar and how to use them in your dishes (with no salad dressing recipes in sight).

Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV is a very common vinegar. It’s made by crushing and releasing the liquid from apples, then putting the juice through the vinegar fermenting process. It’s a pretty mild type and has a light fruit undertone with a sharp tartness. The latest health craze seems to be drinking ACV plain (yuck) or washing your hair with it (I’ll just stick with my Jason’s shampoo, thanks), but this vinegar is still great for eating too, as is shown with the coleslaw below. The recipe was creamy with a hint of sour from the vinegar and relish in it. I served it with a barbecue Boca burger.

coleslaw

Balsamic Vinegar

Equally sweet and sour, this vinegar has the richest flavor of them all. It is commonly drizzled over salads with sweet accents, like fruit. Although the traditionally made BV from Italy is amazing (I’ve only bought a bottle once, but it was worth the money), the commercial made will make due for those who don’t want to splurge on it. But if you’re doing a dish with the vinegar as a main focal point, it might be worthwhile to get the traditional. I didn’t want to do a shameless plug and encourage you to cook my balsamic pasta and beans (recipe here), so I chose some salty and crunchy goodness with kale chips. These chips were super simple and delicious. You only need kale, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt. I ended up eating these while watching Supernatural in lieu of an unhealthy snack.

balsamic kale chips

Malt Vinegar

MV is made by malting barley, then brewing it into ale, which is finally converted into vinegar. It is commonly used in the UK for fish and chips, but it’s also known for being a good pickling vinegar. I’ve never actually pickled anything before, so I thought I’d give it a go! I chose to make pickled mushrooms since shrooms are one of my favorite foods. In the finished product the Malt vinegar has a distinct taste and the slice of onion and garlic in the jar add an extra depth of flavor. I’m going to serve these sprinkled on a salad with a sweet raspberry dressing to balance the vinegar taste.

pickled shrooms

Last Meal (Vegan MoFo #21)

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I decided to end Vegan MoFo with an entire book-based meal. Main dish, sides, drinks, and dessert are all mentioned in the book, so I cooked it all! I’ll miss the challenge this month has been, but it will also be nice to be able to not worrying about blogging five days a week. I’m already planning my theme (*cough* Disney movies *cough*) for next year.
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The genre of vampire fiction has grown rapidly these last few years. But the first vampire series I remember getting truly invested in (before all the Twilight hubub took over)  was Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan. The first book in the series is A Living Nightmare, in which the main character is a young boy, Darren. Darren’s obsession with the supernatural and outlandish prompts him and his friend, Steve, to visit a traveling freak show that has just rolled into town. Due to their encounters at the show, Darren and Steve end up over their heads and thrown from their mundane everyday lives into being involved in the dangerous vampire world. Now Darren must choose between saving Steve’s life and sacrificing his own human future.

In the same vein as Goosebumps, but with much better writing, A Living Nightmare (and the rest of the Cirque Du Freak books) tells a harrowing story involving vampire mythos, a dash of sarcastic humor, and good old fashioned gore. Great for anyone wanting to read a vampire story that does not involve romance or sparkles.

This would be my last meal with them and I wanted it to be special. When I was looking back on it in later years, I wanted to be able to remember us together, at home, a happy family.

Mom cooked my favorite food: chicken, roast potatoes, corn on the cob. Annie and me had freshly squeezed orange juice to drink. Mom and Dad shared a bottle of wine. We had strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Everybody was in a good mood.” – Cirque Du Freak (A Living Nightmare) (paperback) page 225

I won’t tell why (I hate spoilers), but Darren is having his last meal with his family. Because of this it’s a very important dinner and I wanted to make sure I captured that in my last Vegan MoFo meal. For the chicken I used PETA’s cruelty free Chick-fil-a recipe, the potatoes were just thinly sliced and baked with Lawry’s seasoning salt and pepper, and then some fresh corn on the cob. I served it with barbecue sauce and orange juice.

cirque du freak mealThe best part of this meal though was the dessert. I decided to adapt my lemon-berry cheesecake recipe and make it into strawberry cheesecake. I wish I’d done this recipe earlier in the month when strawberries were more in season, but it still turned out well with the mediocre selection that was available.

strawberry cheezcake

Strawberry Cheesecake

Serves 8

Ingredients:

One graham cracker crust (store-bought or home-made)

1 cup silken tofu

2 cups fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor blend together all the ingredients (except the pie crust) until smooth.

Pour the strawberry mix into the crust, place on a cookie sheet, and bake for 60-75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chill for at least 5 hours and then slice and serve! This is also great garnished with strawberry sauce or vegan whipped cream.

Sentry Soup (Vegan MoFo #19)

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Matthias is the main character in Redwall by Brian Jacques. He is a small orphaned church-mouse who lives in the abbey called Redwall. It was founded by Martin the Warrior, a legendary mouse warrior, and has long been a place of peace. There, Matthias lives with other animal creatures like his fellow mice, squirrels, shrews, moles, badgers, and rabbits. Redwall’s happy existence soon ends though when they are attacked by a rat named Cluny the Scourge and his horde of rebellious rats, weasels, and ferrets.

Matthias sees this as his opportunity to work his way up from being an apprentice to a glorified warrior. Cluny’s relentless attacks soon begin to wear down the resolve and resources of Redwall. As the citizens struggle to continue on, Matthias and his friends learn of a venerable prophecy about Martin the Warrior’s ancient sword. Trying to fulfill it, he and his friends begin to search Redwall for clues to the sword’s location. Each solved puzzle, every unearthed scrap of paper, and any whispered bit of prophecy brings them one step closer to finding the weapon that could save Redwall and its’ citizens.

“When Friar Hugo hurried off to join the defenders he left Cornflower in charge of the kitchens. She had busied herself with setting pans of oatmeal and oven bread ready for the next morning’ breakfast. Cornflower then thought of the sentries up on the wall, and she set about making a large pan of vegetable soup. It was a great favorite with the defenders at nighttime, especially when she made it to her own recipe.” – Redwall (paperback) page 300

The food described in Redwall has always sounded delicious. Especially since most of the animals are vegetarian. I chose the warm and veggie-filled Louisiana River Otter Hot Root Soup from Redwall Kitchen.

otter soupThis is probably my new favorite vegetable soup recipe. I don’t know if it’s the Zatarain’s shrimp boil seasoning, the thick roux base, or just the combo of vegetables the makes it taste so freakin’ good. Either way, I’ll definitely be making this again.

 

Jace Doesn’t Care About Your Mangoes and Tomatoes (Vegan MoFo #17)

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The dish today is based on City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. But since that’s too far into the Mortal Instruments series to avoid spoilers, I’ll be reviewing the first book, City of Bones, today.

Clary Fray is a teenager living in New York with her single mother. She and her quirky best friend Simon spend their free time drinking coffee and listening to lame poetry readings. Things soon begin to change though when Clary witnesses several teenagers with odd markings on their skin “murder” another boy at a night club. The weirdest part of it was that when they stabbed him, he disappeared. Shaken, she tries to forget what she saw.

But soon one of the boys from the club, Jace, seems to be turning up everywhere she is. Despite his terribly sarcastic attitude, Jace decides to take a chance and reveal to Clary that he and his friends are Shadowhunters. Shadowhunters are an ancient race made by the combining of angels and humans. Their goal in life to fight demons and protect the unaware human society, which is exactly what they did in that night club. There are also the neutral Downworlders, which are a hybrid of demon and human (this includes werewolves, vampires, faeries, and warlocks). After learning all these overwhelming things, Clary is just desperate to get home. But she finds that her apartment has been ransacked and her mother is missing. Who would want to take her mother? Why does she suddenly have the Sight to see the Shadowhunters? And why does the name Magnus Bane keep rattling around in her head? Clary must answer all of these things if there’s any hope of seeing her mother alive.

What’s this?”
“That’s a mango.” Simon stared at Jace. Sometimes it really is like Shadowhunters were from an alien planet. 
“I don’t think I’ve seen one of those that wasn’t already cut up,” Jace mused. “I like mangoes.”
Simon grabbed the mango and tossed it into the cart. “Great. What else do you like?”
Jace pondered for a moment. “Tomato soup,” he said finally.
“Tomato soup? You want tomato soup and a mango for dinner?”
Jace shrugged. “I don’t really care about food.” – City of Fallen Angels (paperback) pages 124 and 125

It is so hard to find a recipe involving tomatoes and mangoes that isn’t for mango salsa. After much searching and by taking some creative liberties I came up with (drum roll please)… The ugliest chip dip ever! Seriously, it doesn’t look good, but it tasted great. I used this recipe for tomato-mango soup and added some salt, pepper, and a deseeded jalapeno. It was too thick for me to enjoy as a soup, but it was just right to dip pita chips into. I’m pretty sure even Jace would care about this food.

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Dragons, Magic, and (most importantly) Potatoes (Vegan MoFo #16)

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Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret  and Tracy Hickman is a classic fantasy tale and the beginning of a hugely popular book series. As usual, the story begins in an inn. A group of friends, who separated years ago to each follow their own journeys, reunite by the fireside. They are a diverse lot and include a dwarf, half-elf, kender, knight, mage, and warrior. They each tell of the rumors of war they heard during their travels and re-confirm that none have heard any tales of the gods (who disappeared many years earlier) returning to aid the mortals.

But before their reunion can have a happy ending, they are pulled into a fight by defending a foreign barbarian couple at the inn. The couple tells the friends of their magical blue staff and the evil that hunts for it. Soon the corrupted city guard is upon them, and the couple and friends must flee for their lives. This unexpected journey soon takes a turn, as they are informed that they must reach the ancient city of Xak Tsaroth within a few days to receive ‘greatest gift’, which may aid them in the upcoming war between good and evil. The way will be long and perilous for the companions, but the fate of the world is in their hands.

“Xak Tsaroth,” Tanis said. “That is my decision.”

“Is that what the mage advises?” Sturm asked sullenly.

“It is,” Tanis answered, “and I believe his advice is sound. If we do not reach Xak Tsaroth within two days, others will and this ‘great gift’ may be lost forever.”

“The greatest gift!” Tasslehoff said, his eyes shining. “Just think, Flint! Jewels beyond price! Or maybe -“

“A keg of ale and Otik’s fried potatoes,” the dwarf muttered. “And a nice warm fire. But no – Xak Tsaroth!” ” – Dragonlance: The Annotated Chronicles (paperback) page 145

I’ve always thought that Otik’s fried potatoes (which were served at the Inn from the beginning of the story) sounded delicious, so it was the first dish I thought of when writing about Dragonlance. I got the recipe off of Dragonlance Nexus, an awesome fan website with multiple DL based recipes. The potatoes were perfectly crispy and spicy on the outside, while being soft and buttery on the inside. Just as delicious as I imagined.

otik's potatoes

Not So Sharky “Shark Cutlets” (Vegan MoFo #14)

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Storm Thief by Chris Wooding focuses on two young thieves, Moa and Rail, whose story begins in a chaotic city afflicted by storms that rearrange reality. These mysterious “probability storms” cause changes, big or small, and the citizens of Orokos live in fear of them. One of those citizens who knows the reality of that fear is Rail, who lost the use of his lungs during a storm years ago, and now must wear a respirator. He and Moa are, quite literally, partners in crime. They retrieve (aka, steal) items for a crime boss in the ghetto they live in.

While working on one of these missions, Rail and Moa stumble upon a map that holds the key to the mysterious heart of Orokos. With this, they might be disable the ancient machine that causes the probability storms, escape the island without being killed by the sea guardians, or just use it to buy their way out of segregation and the ghetto. Either way, these two face a journey full of hardships and uncertainty.

Inside was a low, circular room, hot and heavy with the scent of aromatic smoke. In the centre was a square bar where cooks took orders from the clientele. Rail ordered each of them a heaping plate of shark cutlets and pumpkin mash. The food arrived with complimentary mugs of cold tuzel, a spicy drink that Moa loved when she could get it.

They took their plates to a small booth and sat opposite each other. Moa attacked the food with an indecent appetite. Rail was forced to eat much more slowly, lifting his respirator between bites. He hated eating in public, but they both needed a rest and a good meal. It had been an exhausting journey.” – Storm Thief (hardback) page 70

I’ve never had shark before, so this was a harder recipe for me to come up with. I’m assuming it’s fishy tasting, but that’s just about all I know. I tried looking up vegetarian/vegan recipes, but to no avail. So the following recipe is probably nothing like shark, but it sure is tasty!

shark cutlets and pumpkin

Tofu Shark Cutlets

Ingredients

3/4 cup yellow onion, minced (about 1 small onion)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 4.5 oz. can of chopped green chiles

1 14 oz. package of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed extremely well, then cubed

1.5 cups of water

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon seaweed powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

8 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup margarine

1.5 tablespoons dried parsley

2 teaspoons salt

Black pepper, to taste

2 cups panko bread crumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large pot add water, ginger, garlic, seaweed, turmeric, chili powder, salt, and cumin. Bring to a boil and then add the tofu cubes. Turn down to medium heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes, then drain and place in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, boil water in a large pot and add potatoes. Boil for about 15 minutes, or until soft then drain. In a pan saute the onion in oil until they are golden brown and fragrant. Add the onions and canned chiles to the bowl with tofu. Gently mix everything together.

Put cooked potatoes in a bowl and mash with margarine, parsley, salt, and black pepper.

On a non-stick surface, place 1/4 cup of the potato mixture. Pat it out into a circle (about the size of a veggie burger) then place 1 to 2 tablespoons of the tofu mixture in the middle. Put another 1/4 cup of potato on top, and pat into a covered mound (similar in size to a small fist).

Roll in bread crumbs and place on a greased baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the potato mixture and tofu.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

shark cutlets inside

Pumpkin Mash

Based on a recipe by Steamy Kitchen

Ingredients:

2 medium russet potatoes, cubed

1/2 cup plain pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon margarine

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoon original soymilk

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Boil a pot of water and add the potatoes. Boil for 15 minutes or until soft. Drain potatoes and coarsely mash with the remaining ingredients. Then transfer to a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.