Thursday, June 30, 2011

Black Bean Burgers

The "Black Bean Burgers" (page 120) are my favorite of the burger recipes I've tried so far (four out of eleven total).  The recipe description of "dense and meaty" is fitting, as the burgers do have quite a resemblance to traditional hamburgers.  This no doubt pleases some, but maybe not others.  As for me, I was impressed with the texture and the taste.  Gluten flour gives the burgers chewiness, and the smoked paprika adds flavor complexity.  The instructions say to sauté minced onion in a tablespoon of oil, and to use another two tablespoons for cooking the formed patties in a skillet.  I left out the oil in both cases, and had excellent results.  Put between a whole grain bun and loaded up with my favorite condiments, this is a veggie burger I will have on my menu regularly. Notes: You are supposed to get four burgers from the mix, but I ended up with six.  It probably depends on how thick or thin you prefer your patties. Also, I did end up having to add about 1/3 cup water to the mixture as it was being combined in the food processor, as it was very dry and not holding together. This has been the case in some of the other burger recipes as well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Garden Scramble

When I want a quick tofu scramble, I admit I take the easy way out and open a block of tofu, and a package of Fantastic Food Tofu Scrambler mix.  But for a real treat when you're in the mood for a lazy day brunch, try the "Garden Scramble" on page 507.  Seasoned tofu is combined with sautéed onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, and carrots, with peas mixed in at the very last.  Not only delicious, but pretty to look at, and very colorful.  The yellow from the turmeric gives this dish the look of scrambled eggs, but if you prefer not to have that image, just leave this spice out.  I omitted the oil when sautéing the veggies, and that was the only change necessary to make this McDougall friendly.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ginger-Lime-Glazed Bean Curd Skewers

Up until now, grilled tofu intimidated me because I couldn't imagine how to prevent the tofu from sticking to the grill without using oil, and lots of it.  But my husband prepared the "Ginger-Lime-Glazed Bean Curd Skewers" (page 40) using a grill basket so the skewers didn't sit directly on the barbeque grill.  This worked like a charm, and we did not have to oil the grill or the grill basket.  The marinade is packed with flavor, made from soy sauce, ginger, lime, vinegar, garlic, and brown sugar. Although the recipe calls for a pound of tofu, there is plenty of marinade for double that amount.  We marinated and grilled 21 ounces, and had to stop ourselves from eating the entire batch in one sitting, it was that good! This dish is found in the appetizer section of the book, but we served it for dinner with green salad and couscous. Be sure to use the firmest tofu you can find for best results. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Garden Variety Couscous Tabbouleh

I'm a big fan of tabbouleh, whether it's made with bulgur, which is traditional, or couscous, as it is in "Garden Variety Couscous Tabbouleh", (page 87).  I especially love the variation which includes chickpeas, as this recipe does.  Along with the grain and beans, it has all the regular veggies, including tomato, green onions, cucumber, and parsley.  What was new and delicious was red bell pepper.  The dressing was supposed to be made using ¼ cup olive oil combined with fresh lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne.  I used about 1/3 cup of light vegetable broth instead of the oil with good results.  If you can get it, use whole wheat couscous to keep this dish not only oil free (with my suggested modification), but closer to whole grain as well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Peanutty Tofu Roll-ups

When it is hot outside, I look for dinners that don't require the stove or oven, so "Peanutty Tofu Roll-ups" (page 112) fit the bill.  The filling is a mixture of tofu and peanut butter, seasoned with garlic, ginger and lime, spread onto a tortilla, and topped with fresh veggies.  I found the peanut butter flavor a little dominant and would probably only use half the amount, were I to make this again.  There was enough filling for about 6-8 wraps (recipe indicates the yield will be 4), so I used the extra on toast and crackers over the next few days. No changes were required to keep this McDougall compliant.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Marinated Mushroom Wraps

"Marinated Mushroom Wraps" (page 111) could quite possibly become an addiction for me, they were that good.  Mashed avocado spread on a tortilla, topped with layers of fresh spinach, marinated mushrooms, bell pepper, and tomato, all rolled up into a delectable wrap.  I learned something I never knew about mushrooms, and that is, when you marinate them as called for in this recipe, they shrink down just as if you sautéed them.  Honestly, I could have marinated a couple of pounds of the mushrooms just to have around for snacking.  The marinade calls for sesame oil (as well as soy sauce and lemon juice), but I used water instead and had excellent results.  It's hard to find oil-free, whole grain tortillas or wraps, but if you can, this dish can be totally McDougall friendly.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Close to Cottage Cheese

In my non-vegan days, I was a big fan of dairy cottage cheese, so whenever I see a vegan recipe for this old favorite, I am anxious to try it.  "Close to Cottage Cheese" (page 514) really does live up to its name, in appearance, texture, and taste. Made by mixing ½ pound crumbled tofu into ½ pound seasoned and puréed tofu, you end up with a delicious non-dairy version of "curds and whey".  The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of oil, but I used a tablespoon of oil-free vegan mayonnaise instead, a perfect substitution. It is truly amazing how much this looks like its dairy counterpart, and how happy I am that it isn't!  I enjoyed this spread on a toasted bagel; scooped it up with baked oil-free tortillas chips; and ate it right out of a bowl.  You could use this any way you would use dairy cottage cheese.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pumpkin Soup with Chipotle Puree

"Pumpkin Soup with Chipotle Puree" (page 175) melds the smoky hot flavor of chipotle with the mild flavor of pumpkin in a wonderfully warming soup, perfect as a first course, or a light lunch.  This is a quick soup to put together, especially if you use canned pumpkin.  Onion and celery are used for additional flavor, along with a touch of cumin.  The directions have you creating a separate chipotle puree to add to individual soups servings, but I blended the pepper right into the soup along with everything else to diffuse the flavor throughout.  To keep this McDougall friendly, I skipped the oil when sautéing the onion and celery, using a little of the broth portion of the soup instead.  I found the soup to be a tad on the thin side.  This could be remedied by cooking a small potato into the mixture before pureeing, or thickening with flour or cornstarch.  A dollop of tofu sour cream atop each serving is also a nice addition.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Green Bean & Pear Salad with Almonds

"Green Bean & Pear Salad with Almonds" (page 63) reminds me of an exotic Waldorf salad, substituting pears for apples, almonds for walnuts, and carrots for celery.  Add to this raisins, green beans, and onions, and top with a creamy spicy dressing and somehow it all comes together, served atop a bed of salad greens.  The dressing calls for ¼ cup sesame oil, which I reduced to 1 teaspoon.  Normally I would omit the oil altogether, but I wanted at least a hint of the flavor the sesame oil would provide. In keeping with the advice from Mary McDougall, sesame oil can be used as a flavor enhancer in tiny amounts, on rare occasions.  I used up one of my occasions with this recipe.  This is a good main dish salad to serve on a hot summer day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pasta Primavera

Primavera means springtime, and the fresh ingredients in "Pasta Primavera" (page 206) really shine, allowing this dish to live up to its name.  Colorful bell peppers, delicate shades of green from zucchini and asparagus, green onions and parsley, all tossed together with rainbow rotini, and this dish ends up being as nice to look at as it is to eat.  I used only half the amount of pasta called for (8 oz instead of 16).  It's been my experience, or perhaps just a personal preference, that the amount of grains and pasta called for in most of these recipes can be reduced by half, yielding a more balanced proportion of ingredients. There really is no sauce to speak of in the recipe as written; rather it seems to rely on the two tablespoons of olive oil to bind everything together.  In order to keep it McDougall, ala oil-free, I prepared a cup of light vegetable broth, using some of it to sauté the veggies, and a little more to moisten the dish once everything was combined.  Perfect results!  The next day we ate the leftovers straight out of the refrigerator like a cold pasta salad, which worked equally as well.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Slow-Simmered Collard Greens

I think I've mentioned before I'm a big fan of greens.  Any variety, and any way you serve them up, I like em'! So I knew right away I would like "Slow-Simmered Collard Greens" on page 365.  Simple ingredients, simmered slowly in vegetable broth, and you wind up with a great side to serve alongside just about anything, but especially nice with grilled yams and baked beans. The flavoring in this dish comes from garlic, onion, and a chipotle chili.  I topped my portion off with a squeeze of fresh lemon, but that is purely optional.  I skipped the two tablespoons of oil when sautéing the onion, using a little of the broth instead.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Linguine Puttanesca

When I need something quick to make for dinner, I often turn to pasta.  The "Linguini Puttanesca" (page 196) is another one of the recipes in the "fast" category of the cookbook (ready in 30 minutes or less), and it did go together in a snap. I forgot to buy linguine when shopping for ingredients, and ended up using Chinese Lo Mein noodles, which happened to be in my pantry, and looked pretty close to spaghetti.  The recipe starts out by sautéing minced garlic in oil, but I skipped this step (and the oil) altogether and added the garlic to the completed sauce at the very end for more flavor.  The tomato-based sauce derives intense flavors from two kinds of olives, capers, and red pepper flakes, adding pizzazz to the dish, and helping it live up to it's name. (Did you know the word Puttanesca refers to Italian "lady of the night" style pasta dishes, so named for the quick meal that could be thrown together from handy ingredients after a hard night's work? The things you don't learn reading a cookbook!)  Using Lo Mein noodles does sort of detract from the Italian back story, but diversity is a good thing, right? J