Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Round-Up Returns (and a link party!)

I'm not sure I could honestly say there was any kind of mass uprising demanding the second round-up post I'm about to write, but I did get two pleasant requests and that's enough in my book, especially when dinner was nothing to write about.

We had Indian-Spiced Vegetables on Basmati Jasmine Rice.  It was tasty, but relatively unremarkable.  I substituted chard for the napa cabbage in the recipe for two reasons: one, Whole Foods did not have a single head of napa cabbage, and two, because I accidentally picked up a bunch of chard last week.

On to part one of the Round-Up!  Although I hope you found my first round-up (beauty and personal hygiene) edifying, we're going to concentrate on food this time around.  Ironically, Mama Pea has been focusing on the same thing in her Pea Mail segments, so for more general information, feel free to read her posts.

Question #1: What are some things I always have on hand, essentials, if you will?

In the fridge:
Earth Balance
unsweetened soymilk
flavored soy yogurts
coconut milk coffee creamer
multigrain bread
100% juices for Mister
an 11 oz box of Olivia's Organics mixed greens, at varying levels of fullness
ketchup and 3 different mustards (two for Mister and one for me to use in recipes)
minced ginger
hummus and/or baba ganoush
various fruits and vegetables

In the freezer:
frozen veggies: broccoli, spinach (chopped and whole leaf), corn, peas, and cauliflower, sometimes green beans
frozen waffles and frozen berries in the winter
Tempt "ice cream" or some other non-dairy frozen dessert

Pantry essentials:
pasta in multiple shapes and lengths
Basmati rice (as well as sometimes arborio, Jasmine, and brown)
whole oats
canned tomatoes and beans
liquid smoke
vegan worcestershire sauce
agave nectar
maple syrup
peanut butter
coffee (regular, flavored, and decaf - we don't mess around)
a chest of teas for drinking and for recipes
kosher salt and sea salt
dried beans and lentils (red, French, and brown)
Clif bars and Luna bars, sometimes Larabars, Odwalla bars, and Clif C bars
dried fruits and shredded coconut
Oils: extra virgin olive, canola, peanut, and toasted sesame
Vinegars: balsamic, red wine, white wine, rice wine, apple cider
Cooking wines: Mirin and Rice Wine
My Herb and Spice Army - it would take a whole other post to give you their names.  Most commonly used herbs: organic basil, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, and parsley.  Most commonly used spices: cumin, curry powder, chili powder, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger.

Question #2: What are my favorite cookbooks/recipes?

There are three "tiers" of cookbook favoritism going on in my home: most favorite live on a bookshelf IN the kitchen, not quite as favorite but still awesome cookbooks live on a shelf just outside of the kitchen, and the ones I look at a time or two a year live on the bookshelf down the hall.

I love everything Isa Chandra Moskowitz has published, though I find it usually takes more than an hour to make the food contained in her books.  The recipes are always worth the time and effort, but I normally stay away from these books if I anticipate a particularly pressed-for-time week.

While I love all of Sarah Kramer's books as well, the one I find most useful is La Dolce Vegan, because the recipes cook faster and the portions are generally intended for her and her husband... Which is perfect, because that's who I'm cooking for - Me and My husband.  You can test-drive my favorite recipe from that book here.

I have three cookbooks exclusively devoted to getting dinner on the table in 45 minutes or less, without which I would be lost:

Vegan Express by Nava Atlas is absolutely Queen of these three.  I don't think I have ever come back to this blog after making one of her recipes and said, "Well, that sucked."  Not only do her entrees come equipped with suggested side dishes, you can also normally get from washing the vegetables to table in about 30 minutes, sometimes less.  See my full review of this book here.

The 30 Minute Vegan by Jennifer Murray and Mark Reinfeld.  This is my only cookbook that also deals with the Raw Food movement, so it gets a little fruity at times.  I am not as big a fan of the "diversity" of recipes presented in this book as I am of those offered by Nava, but there are certainly a decent number of great recipes.  See my full review here.

Vegetarian Times: Fast and Easy, a compilation of recipes featured in the eponymous magazine.  The recipes in this book are marked as taking 15, 30, or 45 minutes from the first slice to the first bite - helpful, but not always accurate.  The meals are tasty, if not a little tofu-centric.  When I first got the book, Mister and I weren't all that fond of tofu, so we've grown to like the book more as we have found tofu a more reasonable part of our dinner.  It would not be a good "starter" book for someone looking into a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle because there is just too much tofu.  I think it's better to focus on grains, beans, and vegetables in the beginning, but that's just me.

I am more or less in love with Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, a collection of recipes served at the aforementioned restaurant in Ithaca, New York.  The cookbook is divided into countries of culinary origin and it is an absolute treasure, given to me a long time ago by my mother-in-law, before I even knew I could cook.  In fact, I'm pretty sure most of my education came from that book.  Unfortunately, I don't think I have ever made a recipe from that book that took less than hours, so I reserve it for special occasions and holiday dinners.

Final Round/Link Party:  What are my favorite [speedy] recipes?

A short disclaimer: you may have noticed from the abundant use of links in my posts that I'm pretty big on citing sources and giving credit where it is due.  Consequently, I have a real problem sharing other people's recipes.  I have provided several cookbook recommendations, as well as links to amazon.com in the hopes that you will purchase at least one of these cookbooks and try your hand at the recipes I've mentioned.  All the links I share here will be to pages in my blog which contain self-composed recipes.

Toasted Quinoa Salad comes together in about 20-30 minutes, tastes great, provides a complete protein (all 15 essential amino acids), as well as plenty of greens and healthy fat from the almonds and coconut.

Broccoli Pasta with Savory Sauce takes about as much time as it does to boil the pasta - everything else goes on "meanwhile."  Just about everything can be speedy when you use frozen vegetables, but if you're quick with a knife, you can still chop up the broccoli before you need it to be ready.

Greek Quesadillas are easy to make, fun to eat, and give you great garlic breath.  For my spinach-allergic readers, you can easily sub out the baby spinach for arugula or a couple of leaves of chard, cut into ribbons.  If you're really slow it might take you 20 minutes to make these, including preheating the oven.  For a stovetop tortilla-based version, try Fiestadillas.

Pea and Pepper Risotto cooks quickly because of the arborio rice, which will absorb the broth even more quickly if it's at room temperature or heated up slightly.  I love how savory the broth makes it, while the red peppers and peas provide a complementary spark of sweetness.  The recipe, as written, will provide two adequate servings (adequate means you're eating a side dish and a salad as well).

Pear and Carrot "Fried" Rice is a quick side dish, provided you have some leftover cooked rice sitting around.  It would probably be a nice accompaniment to...

Pineapple-Tamari Braised Seitan with Vegetables.  Depending on what kind of rice you use (Basmati/Jasmine cook in about 25 minutes, long-grain brown cooks in 45...they say), this recipe will certainly push the limit of a 30 minute time-frame, but it tasted too good to be excluded from my little round-up.  The sweet-n-savory nature of the broth-turned-sauce is one of my favorite things about Asian-style cooking and I was very pleased I figured out how to replicate it.

There are a bunch of other recipes, but most of them take closer to an hour (or more, on occasion) to make, so I've left them out.  You can access every recipe I've ever posted by clicking on the "recipes" link at the bottom of this post.  That way you can also access my dessert recipes...

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