Thursday, October 4, 2012

(Vegan) Mac and Cheese

I love mac and cheese.  I'm a huge fan of all the bougie versions that have invaded fine dining.  My favorite versions are spicy, very cheesy, and egg less.  At some point, I concocted this spicy version which I still love.  Since Liam and I still can't eat dairy, I've been experimenting with various vegan recipes to concoct one that tastes pretty good.  I've made cheese sauce with daiya cheddar and it was ok, but not really that great.  While daiya is much more palatable than rice or soy "cheese," it's overwhelming as a sauce.  Last night, I made a vegan mac and "cheese" that Brad deemed "the best one so far."  It's loosely based on The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese in the Entire World .... Seriously.  You may want to try that recipe instead, but my version has less fat, less salt, more tofu, and the smoky-bacony taste of smoked paprika.

Smoky Vegan Mac/Cheese/Peas

1 box elbow macaroni (cooked per package directions)

Sauce ingredients
16 oz firm tofu.  (As always, I uses twin oaks tofu.)
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup nutritional yeast 
1/2 cup water or unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
2 Tbs smoked paprika
1 Tbs Adobo seasoning

Stir-ins
1 cup frozen peas
 OR 1onion/poblano pepper/1-2 jalepenos/2 tomatos (see below)

Topping
1/4 -1/2 cup panko bread crumbs



1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. While your pasta is boiling, put all of the sauce ingredients into a food processor and puree until a smooth thick paste.
3. Spray a glass 9x11 pan with cooking spray
4. Drain the pasta and combine with the sauce and 1 cup of frozen peas directly in the baking pan.
5. Sprinkle pasta with panko and bake till golden brown (20-30 minutes). Makes 8 very large pieces.

I was cooking for Liam's palate as well as mine and Brad's so I did the classic mac/cheese/peas and added hot sauce to my portion directly. I think a spicy version would work well. In that case, you'd sautee a diced onion, 2 tomatos, in 1 Tbs olive oil with a diced poblano and a diced jalepeno.  You'd add the sauteed veggies instead of the peas.





Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Welcoming Fall with Winter Squash, Fennel, Tofu, and Kale

I haven't blogged about food in a very long time, so long that my 5 minutes of food fame are long over and no one is reading this blog. I have been, of course, cooking this whole time, but I've been limited in my endeavors by the arrival (about a year ago) of my baby boy.  He has a whole bunch of food intolerances (dairy, nuts, coconut) that have impacted my culinary adventures.  As a breastfeeding mom, I've also had to eliminate these delicious foodstuffs from my diet.  At first I found the whole thing mildly depressing and became somewhat disinterested in food, but then I realized it was an opportunity to participate in my own personal Top Chef-style challenge. There are lots of delicious things I've made this year that I failed to write about, but I'm committing to a blog post a week for the next 6 weeks.

So without further adieu ... it's starting to feel like Fall in central Virginia.  I've got a great new teaching gig at Randolph-Macon College so I'm in an Autumn kind of mind.  Since I had a beautiful Red Kuri pumpkin lying around, I thought I'd embrace the season and cook up something delicious, healthy, and hearty.

Squash-Tofu Bake with Israeli Couscous

Ingredients:
1 medium-sized winter squash.  Try a new variety, that's how I ended up with the Red Kuri.
Olive oil
1 lb extra-firm tofu with pressed dry and cubed into small pieces  [Virginians, I always buy Twin Oaks tofu.  It's even more delicious if frozen first]
Canola oil
1 Fennel bulb sliced
1 shallot minced
2-4 cloves of garlic smashed and chopped
Sweet white wine [I used Moscato]
salt [I used Himalayan pink salt]
pepper
1/2 tsp Beau monde seasoning (optional)
2 bay leaves
lemon juice
1 chili pepper chopped finely (optional)
1 head of kale chopped coarsely


Israeli couscous or quinoa prepared according to package directions.

1) Preheat oven to 400.  Peel squash, remove seeds, and cube.  Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes.  Rotate squash and bake for 15 more minutes. [If you have a picky-eating little person, reserve some squash for them at this point]
2) Heat about 1/4 cup canola oil in a large saute pan.  Fry tofu till light golden brown, but not crunchy.  [If you have a picky-eating little person, reserve some tofu for them at this point].
3) Add shallot, garlic, bay leaves, and fennel to pan.  Season with Beau Monde, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue sauteing. Deglaze pan with about 1/2 cup wine. 
3) Scrape contents of saute pan into a dutch oven or covered baking dish, stir in roasted squash, splash another 1/2 cup of wine over the whole mess, cover and put in the oven.
4) Meanwhile, prepare your Israeli couscous or quinoa. 
5) In the same saute pan, heat about 1/4 cup olive oil.  Saute chili if using, add kale and cook just till it wilts.  Splash some lemon juice over the kale to enhance it's brightness.
6) When the couscous and kale are done, take the squash mixture out of the oven.  Add the kale to the dutch oven combining so that all of the flavors layer and serve with the couscous.