Monday, August 26, 2013

Curried Corn & Veggie Chowder (Vegan)

Have you been enjoying this beautiful summer?  I certainly have.  Today we had a typical rainy Pacific Northwest day, so it's time to catch up on some blog posts!

I've been cooking a lot out of one of my new cookbooks, Appetite for Reduction, and so far everything (but one dish) has been awesome.  I don't think I've ever had such success with a cookbook before... although I will admit I'm not sure I've ever made this many things out of one book.  At any rate - it's fantastic.  Easy, relatively quick, healthy and no funky ingredients - love it!

This particular chowder is really great, and unlike any other I've had before.  It's especially perfect for right now when the farmer's markets are full and you've got corn and zucchini coming out your ears.  It's very flavorful and goes well with a big, crunchy salad.  Or to make it a real meal on it's own, I've taken to adding a bit of cooked brown rice to it.  Perfection.

 Without further ado - make this!

Curried Corn & Veggie Chowder (Vegan)
(from Appetite for Reduction
 Makes 4-6 servings

1 tsp canola oil
1 cup shallots, chopped finely
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 - 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, and to your preference of spiciness)
1 zucchini (about 1/2 pound), 1/4 inch dice
1 3/4 cup corn, from 3 ears corn (reserve cobs)
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tsp arrowroot powder
1/2 cup peeled, finely chopped carrots (I really cheat and get shredded carrots and just roughly chop them from there)
1 heaping Tbsp mild curry powder
3/4 cup light coconut milk
Juice of 1/2 lime, or to taste
Fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Cooked brown rice (optional)

Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat.  Saute the shallots and red bell pepper in the oil until translucent, about 4 minutes.  Use a little broth, if it's sticking.  Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes, and saute for another minute.  Add the zucchini and corn and sprinkle in the salt.  Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring once.

Measure 1 cup of the broth into a measuring cup.  Mix in the arrowroot with a fork until dissolved.  You do this because it's just easier to get the arrowroot dissolved into smaller quantities of liquid.  Add the arrowroot mixture to the pot, along with the rest of the broth.  Mix in the carrots and curry powder.  boil.  Once boiling, break the corn cobs in half and add them to the pot (they add a fantastic depth of flavor).  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  Remove the corn cobs.  Add the coconut milk and lime juice.

Use an immersion blender to blend about half the soup  If you don't have an immersion blender, I'm sorry!  Transfer half of the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, then add back to the pot.  If the soup is still steaming hot, make sure to either keep the opening on top of your food processor open, or lift the lid often for steam to escape.  If steam builds up in a closed container it can explode the lid off and ruin your day.

Taste for seasoning.  Serve garnished with cilantro, if you like.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan)

I believe I'm lucky enough to already have the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, however it's not vegan friendly at all.  One morning, before work, I had a craving for cookies (c'mon, it's not that weird), and thought I'd give this vegan recipe a shot.

I love how quickly some of these vegan cookies come together.  When the husband came out of the bedroom, all ready for work, he was pleasantly surprised with the baked cookie scent wafting throughout the apartment.  In the morning?!?!?

(There really is no better way to start your day than a freshly baked cookie.  Just saying.)

Because it's vegan I didn't have to soften any butter, or cream the butter and sugar, and that saved quite a bit of time.  The base is white and brown sugars with oil that you beat with a fork until it's the texture of caramel (about 2 minutes).  A chemical reaction occurs when the sugars and oil mix, and if you get lazy about this step you will be left with some greasy, separated cookies and then nobody has a good time.

I brought these cookies to the office and everyone was so impressed - you baked these before work???  Little do they know how quick and easy it was.

The flavor was very good, and I seriously doubt anyone would have known they were vegan unless I had told them.

Do you have some vegan friends to bake for?  Are you out of butter/shortening/eggs?  Do you just want a quick and tasty cookie?  This is the recipe for you!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

(from Post Punk Kitchen)
Makes ~ 2 dozen cookies

1/2 brown sugar
1/4 white sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1 tablespoon tapioca flour (arrowroot or cornstarch are suitable substitutes)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I had to use 2 cups because it was just too wet to hold any shape)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups chocolate chips
     (If you're looking for vegan chocolate chips, Whole Foods has some, or you can use Ghirardelli     Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips that contain no dairy products).

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix together sugars, oil, milk and tapioca flour (or substitute) in a mixing bowl. Use a strong fork and mix really well, for about 2 minutes, until it resembles smooth caramel. There is a chemical reaction when sugar and oil collide, so it’s important that you don’t get lazy about that step. Otherwise the sugar and oil will separate during baking and create a gross, greasy mess on your cookie sheet.  Mix in the vanilla.

Add 1 cup of the flour, the baking soda and salt. Mix until well incorporated. Mix in the rest of the flour. Add in extra flour if the dough is too wet, like mine was.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop rounded tablespoon of dough onto lined baking sheet. They will spread just a bit. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 6-8 minutes until they are just a little browned around the edges. I did have to bake mine a little bit longer due to the wetness of the dough.  Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.