Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sweet Potato dog biscuits, and people food

My two dogs - big Otter and little Maya - are big fans of home-made dog biscuits. Many dog treats include stuff that reminds me why I went vegan in the first place, like "animal digest." That kind of blew my mind when I first saw it, but it's a common ingredient in many products.

There are lots of good companies that make vegan and vegetarian dog treats, but they can be a little pricey. My standby solution is a peanut butter biscuit recipe, but this time I used half sweet potato and half peanut butter. It was an experiment - Otter and Maya love their peanut butter, but they gave these sweet potato biscuits two paws up.

Here's the recipe, really easy with a food processor:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or 1/2 cup roasted sweet potato, or a 1/4 cup of each)
1 1/2 tbsp. molasses (optional...I'm out of molasses too)
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup liquid, more or less (I use half non-dairy milk, and half water)

1. Combine everything except the water-milk mixture in food processor, and process until fine and crumbly. Keeping it running, add the liquid little by little, just until the biscuit dough balls together and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.

2. Roll dough out until it's about a half inch thick, and cut with your favorite cookie cutter. I bake these at 375 F for about 25 minutes, flipping all of the biscuits halfway through so they brown on both sides.

Readers without companion animals may not be with me any longer, but if you stuck around, here's some people food. A couple of Isa recipes, from Vegan Brunch and Vegan With a Vengeance, plus my first experiment with sourdough bread.

The VB omelette recipe always makes me happy, here stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, and Tofutti mozzarella slices. Tofu and chickpea flour, with some seasonings, and you'll never miss eggs again.

Here's a plate of Jerk Seitan, from VwaV, along with coconut-lime rice. Still one of my favorite recipes from VwaV.

Making sourdough starter is cool, just because it's fun to do things you're not supposed to do, like letting food sit around and ferment for a few days. This sourdough rye is from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Georgian Cilantro & Apricot Sauce

I learned about this sauce from the Republic of Georgia from an episode of The Splendid Table a few weeks back. Guest Martha Rose Shulman was talking about all kinds of wonderful cilantro based sauces, and included this recipe, adapted from Dara Goldstein's The Georgian Feast.

This versatile sauce features lots of cilantro and parsley, along with walnuts and dried apricots, soaked in boiling water and left overnight. Dried fruits like dates, raisins, figs, etc., almost always offer other cooking possibilities when they're rehydrated. I thought these dried apricots looked nice after spending the night in a jar filled with boiling water, almost doubling in size.

Soaking the apricots is the only advance step in this easy recipe, and your food processor or blender does the rest of the work. Here's the ingredients, listed in the order in which they were processed...I think it helps to do the garlic and walnuts first, to make sure they're finely ground before adding the rest:

4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 cup dried apricots, soaked overnight (or at least a few hours) in 1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 bunch (2 cups or so) fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 bunch (about 1 cup) fresh parsley
5 tbsp. walnut oil
reserved soaking water from apricots

After processing everything else in your blender or food processor, add the soaking water until the sauce reaches the consistency you like. I left mine a little thick, like a pesto.

Speaking of pesto, this evokes a classic basil pesto, but cilantro is the dominant flavor, and the pureed apricots lend both a citrus taste and a velvety texture. You could use this just about anywhere - I spread it over grilled marinated tofu, with roasted sweet potaotes, steamed broccoli, and some rice. After the photo, I just blended everything together, with the cilantro-apricot sauce smothering everything in sweet Georgian goodness.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Raw Breakfast Cakes, and Black-Eyed Pea Fritters

Today's theme is brown, lumpy food that tastes way better than it may look. I promise.

I based the breakfast cakes above on Ani Phyo's coconut breakfast cakes in Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. They look like veggie burgers, but the idea is pancakes...they might be prettier if I had used golden flax seeds. The basic recipe also includes coconut oil, which is expensive but worth it, especially if you use it sparingly. Banana pieces, blueberries, maple syrup, and walnuts are worked into the "dough," and sprinkled on top.

Since flax cakes may seem aggressively health-foody, you might think the taste or texture suffers for it. Happily, they're really light, and the maple syrup and bananas combine for a silky smooth texture. Not at all gritty or chewy, which I'd expected.

Chasing away any thoughts of eating raw are these black-eyed pea fritters, from Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen. They're brown, they're lumpy, and they're great. They also include peanuts, and are crunchy and spicy and greasy in the best possible way, as the soaked black-eyed pea and peanut batter nuggets are deep-fried in canola oil. I had these with a sweet and sour Thai mango dipping sauce.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Books and other good ideas

This evening I picked up Jonathan Safran Foer's new book about ethical vegetarianism, Eating Animals. I just heard about it this weekend, so in my expectation and hope that it's as good as its advance reviews, I thought I'd pass it along.

Maybe it's just my selective consumption of pop culture and fleeting optimisim, but I really believe we're in that transitional time when a social justice movement is moving from punchline to something that can't be marginalized any longer. It's like the Gandhi line - first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Since I'm off food and talking about authors I like, here's another one. Karen Armstrong is leading a project called Charter for Compassion, which will be unveiled on November 12. It's an admirable effort, calling on people of all faiths - and no faith - to affirm that all of the great cultural traditions share at their core a call for compassion. Shame it's taken us a few millenia to agree on that, but better late than never.