Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another feature in Appetite Magazine + pretty good vegan alfredo and edamame pate

More vegan love in the local food magazine scene. I contributed some vegan baking tips to this month's Appetite Magazine. I also handed in an original oatmeal cookie recipe, fairly similar in taste to the old butter-and-egg laden version I used to make in my pre-vegetarian days.

Pick up a copy of the June 2009 issue of Appetite Magazine!

PS If you recall, my vegan baking business Kitchen Revolution was given a positive review in this magazine's pages last February 2009.

Zoom in to check it out!


Finally a restaurant in the metro is showing some vegan love. Healthy Kitchen in Serendra, Bonifacio High Street offers some nice vegan options that don't rely on fake meat and Indian spices. Sorry, no offense to India -- I mean I love Indian food, I eat Indian probably once a week. In the past if I wanted some good vegan food, I'd have to go to an Indian restaurant; Indian food can get tiring though if you eat it all the time. So if you have the option to eat good vegan food in a non-Indian restaurant, you take it.

Like Healthy Kitchen. I'll admit, at first I did not appreciate this restaurant's name. While health is certainly important, the word "healthy" tends to scare people away. Not sure if this is a manifestation of the scary H word, but the past 3 times I've been in the restaurant, majority if not all of the customers were female... I got 6 brothers and I know they aren't a fan of the H word.

Anyway, I like that this restaurant actually displays the V word prominently. And I'm not even talking about vegetarian, but vegan. Such a big relief that a food establishment recognizes veganism!

Here's one of HK's dishes -- wholewheat spaghetti with vegan alfredo sauce and tofu. I honestly did not have any expectations because I've never tried to make a vegan cream sauce (okay once I made the pine nut sauce from Veganomicon (link to amazon), which frankly sucked. I think I added too much lemon juice). I was pleasantly surprised. It tastes nothing like traditional alfredo sauce, but it's got a nice savory taste which I think comes from mushroom broth and onions. The cubed tofu was seared and tasted great with the sauce.

The next time I was in HK was for a merienda thing and I ordered the edamame pate with tortilla chips. The chips were supposed to be a combination of blue and red but the restaurant only had blue, which I didn't mind at all. The pate was very hummus-esque, with only its green tinge separating it from it's tan cousin. Good merienda, however I think it would've been tastier if it was served with salsa.

Healthy Kitchen also serves tofu adobo, vegetarian burrito wraps and Boca burgers.

I caution you not to take any of the green tea frappes, even if you can have them made with soymilk -- the green tea mixes HK uses has milk.

What the restaurant seriously lacks is vegan dessert. I miss being able to buy dessert...

141C Serendra Place, Bonifacio High St,
Global City, Taguig

Check out their menu here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jerk tofu to the rescue

Okay, this was one of the most amazing tofu dishes I've ever had. Get the recipe here.

I guess what attracted me to this recipe was the fact that it had the word jerk. I love exploring new recipes and using spices I don't normally use in savoury dishes -- such as allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon, usually found in fall / winter desserts. I may've tried cinnamon in a curry, but usually in combination with cumin, cardamom, coriander, etc where you can't almost detect it. I was pleasantly surprised with the results of this dish -- spicy and sweet, totally different from anything I've tried. Am now a fan of Carribean food, even though this Jerk Tofu isn't a traditional dish.

The recipe calls for maple syrup. Instead, I used a muscovado-ginger syrup from Tindahang Sakto, a brilliant liquid sweetener for the maple syrup-, agave nectar-deprived. I've used it in brownies too, and it's great because it's got this deep earthy taste, perfect for baked goods that don't call for butter but need a little more depth. BTW these guys sell vegan-friendly, earth-friendly bath soaps (one soap has honey, so avoid if you don't use honey) and eco-friendly cleaning agents! They sell super fragrant coconut oil which I've purchased and can't wait to try in baking. And I love reading the blogs by one of the owners (Yapak / Yakap and Gardencore) :)

Anyway, do try this recipe. It also calls for jalopenos, which you can't really find here; you can sub with sili labuyo or just add more cayenne pepper.

Also don't be scared about all the prep time. I usually keep some blocks of tofu in the freezer. You can defrost them in the fridge during the day (give it 24 hrs in the fridge); if it's still partially frozen, dunk it in hot water for a few minutes. To remove excess water I wrap it in a dish towel and put a heavy mortar and pestle on top -- let sit 15-30 min. I marinade usually for 15-20 min before I fry it.

Oh and quick tip, use a non-stick skillet. The marinade with the onions tend to burn if you use a regular skillet. Also, tofu will stick to the bottom of a regular skillet unless you add copious amounts of oil.

AND, play around with the spices! I've tried this without the allspice, cayenne, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and instead added dried rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and sage.

AND AND AND, it makes a lot of marinade. After frying up the tofu, cook the marinade a bit (it's chunky due to the chopped up onion). Pour it over the tofu or mix it up with rice -- instant fried rice!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lentils with smoked paprika and coriander

I've been pretty lazy with cooking with legumes these days. I've been relying a lot on good old lentils that cook up real quick and take on any flavor you put on 'em.

I usually cook my lentils with the usual garlic, onions, and tomatoes, sometimes I'll throw in some bell peppers, then I'll play around with the spices. Fennel seed is one of my favorites, like in this dish. I like whole cumin seeds too. I've tried Isa's Ethiopian lentil stew with like, 12 spices, and that was great with rice or even with linguini. I really love Isa's French lentil soup with thyme and tarragon too. If I have fresh herbs I'll add those in too.

So last week I really wanted a lentil dish that wasn't too Indian-y tasting 'cause I've been doing too much of that. One other spice I really really love is coriander seed because of its fresh lemony taste -- pretty different from the cilantro herb we all know and love. So with a little experimentation, I came up with...

Lentils with smoked paprika and coriander. I was amazed with the results because I've never used smoked paprika in my life, ever! I'm more familiar with sweet paprika, which quite frankly doesn't taste like anything. To be honest, I only thought of adding paprika for color, so using the smoked kind was a pleasant bonus.

If you have the chance of acquiring smoked paprika, GET SOME PLEASE. Not sure if regular grocery stores carry it, you can try Santi's or an Indian grocery store like Assad's. This is what I use:

Lentils with smoked paprika and coriander
Makes 4 servings

1 cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
olive oil or canola oil
2 small onions or 1 big onion, minced or in long slivers
4 cloves of garlic, minced
5 egg tomatoes, diced
1-2 tsp coriander seed, mashed in a mortar and pestle
2-3 tsp smoked paprika (don't use sweet paprika, it ain't the same)
cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
handful of cilantro or parsley, chopped (optional)

Place the rinsed lentils in a sauce pan and add 3-4 cups of water. Bring to a boil on medium heat then turn down to the lowest heat. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until al dente. Drain.

Heat some oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add in the onions, coriander seed, and cayenne pepper (if using), cook until fairly translucent. Add in the garlic, cook for 2 minutes then add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes break down, about 5 minutes. Add in the drained lentils and mix. Throw in the smoked paprika and mix well. Taste, add in more salt and pepper if needed. Throw in the chopped herbs if using.

Spoon the lentils in the serving dish and sprinkle more smoked paprika on top.

sorry, crap photo.
but you know what i mean about sprinkling smoked paprika on top.
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