Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spicy Braised Tofu/Week 1 Review

Happy Easter! After a very exciting weekend of entertaining family, we didn't really feel up to cooking tonight. Our restaurant options are severely limited with our new diet. Lucky for us... Maia and Cecily LOVE sushi! With today's gorgeous weather, we figured sushi take-out in our backyard would be a lovely ending to the weekend. Much to our dismay, and even more to the girls', the Sushi restaurant turned out to be closed for the holiday. Boo! Fortunately, we had all the ingredients for Spicy Braised Tofu, a favorite of mine from childhood. My parents have made it for the girls on numerous occasions- I cannot stress how much they love it. Tonight was no exception- both kids ate HUGE bowls of it. I doubled the recipe and served it with brown rice, and there were no leftovers. I also chopped up some broccoli and added it to the tofu and sauce just a few minutes prior to serving- it was well received by everyone.

We've officially completed seven days of our dairy-free vegetarian diet. We are honestly awed by what a success it is. Maia really seems like a different kid these days- physically, she looks so different! Her color is amazing- her skin tone is healthy, her cheeks have some color, and she just looks vibrant to us! Her energy level is also incredible- we went for a long walk on a beautiful beach yesterday afternoon- she did not complain once. We couldn't believe it! We're excited to keep it up!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Veggie Matzo Ball Soup and Challah

For Wednesday's dinner, I decided to try a vegetarian version of Matzo Ball Soup and Challah. (A wonderful friend recently gave me a lesson in Challah. My husband and kids LOVE it, and it's become a regular staple in our home. I often make it on Fridays, and we have it as our afternoon snack with a smoothie. I was experimenting with dairy Challah, using milk and butter, but we're back to the non-dairy version that is equally delicious.) The soup recipe is from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special. The soup was delicious; everyone in our family gave it two thumbs up. I think the secret is taking the time to make the Mock Chicken Stock, though I have no idea if it actually tastes like chicken stock- I just know it's flavorful and yummy. (I did this on Tuesday afternoon while I was making dinner for that night.)

Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo Balls
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
2 Tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup matzo meal (I used Whole Wheat matzo meal)

Soup Broth
3 Tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 cups Mock Chicken Stock (recipe follows)
4 cups water

Matzo Ball Cooking Liquid
4 cups Mock Chicken Stock (recipe follows)
6 cups water

5 scallions, minced (I forgot to get these at the store)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (forgot this as well)
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 - 3 tsp soy sauce, or to taste

Whisk together all of the matzo ball ingredients, adding the matzo meal last. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 mins or overnight.

Warm the oil in a soup pot. Add the onions, garlic, salt, thyme, dill, and pepper. Cover and saute on medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown, 10 - 15 minutes. Add the stock and water and bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 mins.

Bring the ingredients for the matzo ball cooking liquid to a simmer in a large pot. Roll the matzo dough into Tbsp-sized balls, and drop carefully into simmering broth using all the dough. Cover the pot and simmer for 35 - 40 mins, until balls are firm, tender, and heated through.

To serve, sprinkle some chopped scallions and parsley and a few drops of sesame oil and soy sauce in the bottom of individual soup bowls. Remove matzo bowls from their cooking liquid and place a few in each bowl. Ladle in the hot soup broth and serve immediately. (My husband got home late and just reheated his complete soup in the microwave- it was just as delicious.)

Mock Chicken Stock

14 cups water
7 cups chopped onions
4 cups chopped celery
4 cups peeled and chopped carrots
4 potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
2 heads of garlic, broken apart (no need to peel cloves)
5 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 bunch of fresh parsley (I forgot the parsley)

(The veggies only need to be roughly chopped, no need to spend much time on them.)

Put the water in to a large stockpot on high heat. Add the vegetables to the pot, then stir in the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, turmeric, salt, and parsley. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 15 mins. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour. Set aside to cool and then strain. The stock can be used right away, refrigerated for 4 days, or frozen for up to 6 months. This makes about 8 - 10 cups. (I used 8 cups for the matzo ball soup and still have enough stock left for another soup recipe.)

Sweet 'n Sour Lentils

For Tuesday's dinner, I decided to make an old favorite from when I was a kid: Sweet 'n Sour Lentils. I couldn't find a recipe at home, so I looked for one online. I used this one I found through a Google search: Sweet and Sour Lentils. I served the lentils with brown rice. My husband was a bit wary when he saw the dinner, but loved it, as did I. The kids... I went a little light on the honey (I doubled the recipe and used 8 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar but only 7 Tbsp of honey). Next time, I'll add a little extra honey to the kids' and I think they'll be much more inclined to eat it. Cecily ate more than half her serving, Maia was a bit of a struggle but she did eat enough by our standards.

Seitan Stir Fry with Ginger Soy Sauce

Monday was our first Veganish day, and it went pretty well. I packed a special snack for Maia to take to school (dairy-free carrot bread), but we were happy to discover that the friend bringing snack for the class brought something she could eat (sun butter and jelly sandwiches). For dinner, I made a favorite- Seitan Stir Fry. We eat a fair amount of soy and tofu, so I like to mix things up a big with other yummy protein choices. My kids LOVE seitan, so until we find out Maia can't have wheat (we're hoping to never find this out!) it will be a staple in our house.

Seitan Stir Fry
A mix of veggies chopped into bite size pieces (I used broccoli, carrots, peppers, a leek, snow peas, zucchini, mushrooms, kale, and asparagus)
1 package seitan (found in the tofu section at my Whole Foods)

Warm oil in a wok or large saute pan, add all veggies and seitan and cook until they almost reach desired tenderness. Add ginger soy sauce a cook a few minutes more until sauce is heated. Serve over quinoa, brown rice, barley, etc., etc.

Ginger Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce (I use reduced sodium wheat-free Tamari)
1 Tbsp Grated Ginger (adjust according to taste)
Mix all the ingredients together. (I start with one batch and double it depending on how large a stir-fry I'm making.)