Dinner for hungry people

As I usually say, lots of things have been happening, which explains my long-term absence. I hope this will assuage the concerns of those who began to wonder if I fell off the face of the planet.

I’ll post more about this week probably tomorrow, but in the meantime, I’d like to share a recent cooking success (tonight, in fact!) from the fabulous Veganomicon.

Smoky Grilled Tempeh

  • 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh (I used flax tempeh)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

“Bring a medium-size pot of water to boil. Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to fit the tempeh slices. Cut the tempeh in half, widthwise, then cut each of the resulting squares diagonally to form four large triangles. When the water is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer, add the tempeh triangles, and cook for 10 minutes.

Use tongs to immediately place the tempeh in the marinade bowl. Let marinate for 1 hour, flipping the tempeh every now and again to cover with the marinade.” (From Veganomicon)

If you have a grill pan, definitely try that, but I only have regular pans here, so I opted to panfry these bad boys in a little bit of olive oil. Put about a tablespoon of whatever oil you want to use in a pan over medium heat, slap those tempeh triangles in there and spoon some of the marinade over them each time you flip them (which should be relatively frequently over a span of about ten minutes). I ate them with stir-fried bell peppers and tomatoes and some leftover amaranth–deeeelicious.


Chickpea extravaganza

As promised, here are my two customized recipes of the previous weekend.

Pasta with garlic and oil (pasta aglio e olio)

Note: Another Bittman recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, I simply added to it. The cooking directions are again straight from Bittman’s cookbook. Super easy, fast, and it turned out to be a party fav.

  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp (at the very least, in my opinion) minced garlic
  • 1 or 2 dried chiles, or to taste (I used 2 ancho chiles, and it was nowhere near what I wanted–I don’t know that you could even detect the flavor at all. If you want spicy, get hot ones; if you want flavorful, perhaps try more ancho chiles and cook them in the oil before adding the garlic and everything else)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed (use a teeny bit more; also, since you’re dressing the pasta with just this, get an enjoyable, flavorful olive oil, not any cheap old thing off the shelf)
  • 1 pound penne pasta (which I chose since I was adding chickpeas)
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • At least 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • Grated Parmesan to taste (NOT SHAKEABLE KRAFT, FOR GOD’S SAKE)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put the garlic, chiles, oil, peppers, chickpeas, and a pinch of salt in a small skillet our saucepan and turn the heat to medium-low. Let the garlic sizzle a big, shaking the pan occasionally, just until it puffs and turns golden, then turn off the heat if the pasta isn’t ready. (I started cooking the pasta first so that it would be done before the oil and garlic mixture and have some time to drain and cool a little before I dressed it with the oil).
  2. Cook the pasta until tender but not mushy. Drain it, reserving a bit of the cooking water. Reheat the garlic and oil mixture briefly if necessary. Dress the pasta with the sauce, adding a little more oil or some of the cooking water if it deems dry; toss with the parsley and parmesan.

Chana masala burgers

Note: Chana masala is one of my favorite Indian dishes, and I love the promise of fusion food. I was already planning on making this bean burger recipe with chickpeas, so I thought, why not tweak it to compliment my love of Indian flavors? This is the simplest, cheater’s way to do it (after all, I should use a good chana masala recipe and make my own spice blend), but they tasted great and they are incredibly fast to prepare (I had less than an hour before I needed to leave to go to the party I was serving them at). Also a party fav. Please also note that this recipe is a variation on Mark Bittman’s recipe “The Simplest Bean Burgers” in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and uses Bittman’s cooking directions almost verbatim. This yielded me six nicely-sized patties, but could easily have made seven or eight bitty burgers or “sliders,” as they’re sometimes called.

  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained (I tend to prefer Eden; their cans are not lined with BPA)
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1/2 rolled oats, not instant oats
  • At least 1 tbsp of chana masala seasoning blend, or more to taste (Frankly, I added only 1 tbsp because I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone, and in my opinion, it could have for sure used a little more)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup tofu (I substituted this in for the egg that the recipe called for)
  • Liquid if necessary (to keep the mixture from being dry. You probably won’t need it, but I did use just a tiny bit of milk)
  • Oil for cooking (I used grapeseed, since it’s flavorless)
  1. Combine the beans, onion, oats, chana masala seasoning, salt, pepper, and tofu in a food processor and pulse until chunky but not pureed, adding a little liquid if necessary (this is unlikely but not impossible) to produce a moist but not wet mixture. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes if time allows.
  2. With wet hands, shape into whatever size patties you want and again let rest for a few minutes if time allows. (You can make the burger mixture or even shape the burgers up to a day or so in advance. Just cover tightly and refrigerate, then bring everything back to room temperature before cooking.) Film the bottom of a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet with oil and turn the heat to medium. A minute later, add the patties. Cook until nicely browned on one side, about 5 minutes; turn carefully and cook on the other side until firm and browned (I should have cooked them a few minutes longer on both sides, in my opinion–they tasted great but were very soft and I had a hard time keeping them intact as I took them out of the pan).

Delicious treats courtesy of me

I like to cook, and since cooking is something I do like to spend some time on while I am unemployed, I feel like the things I prepare should be shared here. That said, here are some recipes that tend to be my go-to for quick dinner after a long day. The first is one that I believe should be credited to Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, although Mark Bittman can essentially tell you what to do in less-ingredient-specific terms.

Boiled amaranth:

  • 1/2 cup amaranth
  • 1 1/2 cups water (or other liquid, like stock)
  • pinch of salt to taste
  1. Heat liquid to boiling over high heat.
  2. Add salt and amaranth, cover, turn down heat and let simmer for 25 min./until tender and slightly gummy/until water is absorbed, whichever happens first.
  3. Drain if necessary.

A good inclusion: shichimi togarashi, which Mark Bittman definitely has a recipe for.

Now for my custom recipe.

Fried tempeh bits with amaranth:

  • Single-serving portion of tempeh (a third or fourth of a packaged block), cut into small, thin bits (diced-ish)
  • Tamari to taste (2 or more regular spoonfuls, in my experience)
  • Nori furikake (called “Nori ‘shake'” by Mark Bittman; another recipe his veg cookbook boasts) to taste
  • Tbsp-ish of ginger (to taste), minced
  • 2-3 Tbsp-ish of minced garlic (I love garlic)
  • Grapeseed oil for frying (best choice in my opinion)
  1. Put diced tempeh in a bowl and add just enough tamari to coat tempeh bits plus a tiny bit more to keep the nori from sticking to the bowl.
  2. Sprinkle nori furikake generously on tempeh. Stir so everything is evenly distributed and covered in tamari. Let marinate while preparing other ingredients.
  3. Mince garlic and ginger.
  4. Heat pan/skillet/wok over medium-high heat with oil.
  5. Fry garlic and ginger for no more than 15 seconds, then add tempeh. Fry until golden on at least one side. Warning: sesame seeds from the furikake may pop a little in the skillet, so be careful.
  6. Serve atop reheated or just-boiled amaranth, depending on what you have time for.

Jingle jangle

I’ve been a little too quiet for a while. Still looking for work, still not finding anything. Still trying to write things, still not coming up with much.

In recent news:

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