Monday, December 22, 2008

Creamy Tomato Soup and Grilled Teese

This is like tomato soup for grown-ups. None of that weak Campbell's soup! This is way more intense but still hits the right spot when you're looking for comfort. This soup is especially good if you live near Chicago, it's the middle of winter, and your furnace stops working. It's even tastier when you find out that you probably won't have heat for another 24 hours. Trust me, I know. This soup staved off frostbite during 2 very sad (and cold) days of my life.

If you make this soup, I would definitely recommend using some fire-roasted tomatoes. Fire-roasted tomatoes are something I only recently discovered but I absolutely love them and I am on a one-woman mission to make other people love them too. They sound all special and fancy but I'm able to find them at my local supermarket (admittedly, they also have a large selection of non-gluten flours so this might not be everyone's experience). The recipe also calls for sun-dried tomatoes but specifies that you shouldn't use the ones packing in oil in jars. But all the recipes I found for making your own sun-dried tomatoes either involved putting them outside (I don't think the freezing cold and 3 hours of sunlight would help much) or putting them in the oven for 12 or so hours. So... I just used the jar ones.

Tucked behind the soup is a grilled Cheddar Teese sandwich. I've been pretty happy with the cheddar Teese, although I think it would be more accurate to call it American Teese as it tastes, looks, smells, and feels exactly like those American single slices of cheese that come wrapped in plastic. It also seemed to re-solidify pretty quickly after melting, which I don't remember happening as much with the Mozzarella Teese. Anyway, it makes some seriously delicious grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Leek and Bean Cassoulet

I ended up being pretty disappointed with this Leek and Bean Cassoulet. It had so much going for it! It smelled fantastic, looked pretty, and was filled with tasty veggies. Yet, somehow, it was like having a mouthful of bland. It probably didn't help that I didn't cook the biscuits enough - no one likes biscuits with doughy middles!

It also called for a lot of cornstarch, so the leftovers were a pretty gross-looking and congealed. I know that this problem is easily fixed by stirring some water or vegetable broth slowly into it, but it looked so unappetizing and hadn't tasted that great to begin with so I didn't bother.

This dish seems like it has been very hit-or-miss among other vegan food bloggers, so I guess it's just a matter of taste. If you're looking for wintery comfort food, I would recommend trying Isa's Chickpea Noodle Soup instead.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Yes, I realize that Thanksgiving was a week ago but after cooking a ridiculous amount of food and then eating mostly leftovers for the following days, I couldn't even think of what I'd made without groaning and having phantom back/foot aches. But I've finally recovered so here goes!

Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of most of the things I made because everything was so hectic. I even had to hold the stuffing for several minutes after it came out of the oven (using oven mitts, of course) because there was just nowhere to put it. This was my biggest culinary undertaking and I emerged victorious!The Home-Style Potato Rolls are delicious and adorable. They also nearly gave me a mental breakdown. The dough was ridiculously sticky, something that wasn't very noticeable until after it had risen the first time. I ended up adding at least 4 cups more flour (almost twice as much as the recipe called for) and reworking the dough made the rolls a little bit tougher than they were probably supposed to be but I don't think anyone noticed. The important thing is that I didn't cry into the dough, no matter how tempted I was. I topped them with poppy seeds or toasted sesame seeds and left a few unblemished for my seed-hating brother. The best thing about these is you can pull them apart into three pieces. Neat!

Mini-falafel with tahini dressing! I was really proud when I came up with this as an appetizer. I've made falafel more times than I've made anything else so I am fiercely proud of my work on this front. I can't remember the size exactly, but they probably had about the diameter of a quarter. The tahini dressing also came out great, although I think people were skeptical of it due to it having a heavy garlic/balsamic vinegar taste, which I loved but other people don't love garlic as much as I do (how they can live with themselves, I'll never know).

One of the other appetizers was the Mediterranean-style Cashew-Cucumber Dip from V'con (served with sliced pita bread). I've made this dip for various social occasions and it has always been a big hit. It's a great way to show your family that appetizers don't need to be covered in cheese! The texture for this one wasn't quite right. I suspect that I didn't squeeze enough of the juice out of the grated cucumber (I was rushed! And stressed!) so it was a tiny bit liquidy instead of its proper form - hummus' sexy cousin.

I also made:
- apple pie
- mashed Yukon Golds with Earth Balance and almond milk (I wanted to make roasted garlic mashed potatoes but was shot down. Someday!)
- The Best Vegan Green Bean Casserole from FatFree Vegan (I made some slight modifications so it would be gluten-free: arrowroot instead of flour and I skipped the crumb topping in favor of extra fried onions. I think this was the most successful/popular dish on the table.)
- roasted applesauce from Vegan with a Vengeance
- vegan stuffing/dressing

It was an intense several days, to say the least.