Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eating on the Road (Or in the Office) -- Vegan Quiche

One of the things I struggle with when I'm on campus for the day: lunch. I need something and eventually I get tired of sandwiches--hummus & tomato; hummus, tomato & avocado; peanut butter; peanut butter & jelly or peanut butter & banana.

I have to take food that's not going to get smashed and doesn't (necessarily) need to be refrigerated. For a while, I took rice & fruit salads, or millet dishes, or wraps with beans and veggies.

But I get tired of these things too--or run out of ingredients (at least as likely). Or I just want something different--for instance, now that it's getting colder, something that can be microwaved and make me feel a little warmer.

One of my current favorites is a vegan quiche recipe. I'm not vegan--but the nice thing about this (as opposed to an egg-based quiche) is that I feel less like I'm going to die if it's not refrigerated (a fear I find slightly ridiculous anyway). Since I use aseptically packaged Nori tofu (you can find this at most grocery stores, usually in the "Asian" or "International" sections), I feel like maybe my food has had less opportunity to pick up germs. I also realize that this rationalization isn't in fact all that rationale. Nevertheless, this little pie works well for me and it travels easily.

I discovered it over the summer on 101 cookbooks and modified it to meet my tastes. One of the great things about this quiche is that it's easy to modify. If you don't like lima beans, use something else that has about the same amount of bulk. I often add a cup of mixed frozen veggies. If you don't have garbanzo bean flour, you can use more whole wheat. If you like it spicier (and I do), add more red pepper flakes. And if you don't have a lemon, lime juice works as well (or even just a little more rice wine vinegar--though this does alter the taste some).

Vegan Spinach-Mushroom Quiche
1/2 cup rolled oats (quick or old fashioned)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup garbanzo bean flour (or more whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
1/3 cup unflavored soy milk or water
1/3 cup light sesame oil or pure olive oil plus more for brushing the pan

For the filling:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
10 ounces white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup zucchini, diced
2 tablespoons white wine (semi-dry works well)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
10 ounces frozen, chopped spinach
1 cup frozen lima beans
1 roasted garlic clove (see note)
10 to 12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes, divided
1 10-ounce package soft tofu, rinsed
2 tablespoons flaxseed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Paprika for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350. Meanwhile, to make the crust, spread the oats and sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 minutes while the oven is heating (watch them carefully to make sure they don’t burn). Transfer the toasted oats and sesame seeds to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the flours, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and process until the oats are finely ground.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy milk and oil. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the dry ingredients to form a dough. Lightly brush a 9-inch or 10-inch tart pan with oil. Put the dough in the tart pan. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the dough and press down evenly, making sure to fill in the fluted sides of the pan. Trim the tart of any excess dough and refrigerate while you make the filling.

To make the filling, in a wide saute pan over medium heat, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, mushroom, and zucchini. Raise the heat to high, and saute for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring and shaking the pan until the vegetables are caramelized and the pan is mostly dry. Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon pepper flakes. Add frozen spinach and limas continue to cook until dry, stirring frequently. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the vegetables into a mixing bowl and set aside.

Dump tofu into the bowl of the food processor. Add the flaxseed, basil, thyme, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper flakes and puree until smooth. With a rubber spatula, scrape the puree into the mushroom-onion mixture.

Fill the tart shell with the tofu and vegetable mixture and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Dust with Paprika. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until firm.
Let the tart cool for 8 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

**Note: If you don't have fresh herbs, dried ones will work too. Season to taste.
**Note: If you don't have ground flax, it's not the end of the world. Leave it out and don't worry.

Pictures to come soon!

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's Been a While

I haven't posted in a long time. Things have been busy and I haven't been playing with recipes I feel either 1) particularly like posting or 2) particularly like photographing so that I can, in fact, post them and make them at least somewhat visually appealing.

Recently, I started volunteering at a soup kitchen in my community. The guests who come have formed a community, a supportive community. They are, for the most part, grateful individuals and help those of us who are newer and don't know our way around that well. What surprises me is the number of children I see in the line on any given night. Fact: 1 in 5 people in line at a soup kitchen in America is a child. 1 in 5.

What's wrong with us as a country?

And what's wrong with us that we're not doing more to empower these people to move beyond their current circumstances? There are certainly plenty of options for programs that are more comprehensive than the one I volunteer at. Some provide job training, others have guests work in a community garden, or provide GED assistance, resume help, etc. How do these programs work? And how can we implement these successes in other places to help the guests move to a new position in life?

Yesterday, a volunteer asked me if the people who came to the soup kitchen were ashamed. He was a college student, a white male. I wanted to be annoyed with him, but his question was so earnest that I couldn't bring myself to be annoyed. Instead, I told him I felt confident some of the guests were ashamed, given the economic downturn. I'm sure some people thre never imagined they'd be guests at a soup kitchen. But, and this is the important thing, many of the guests likely see no reason to be ashamed--just as the volunteer saw no shame in asking the question he did.

Recently I listened to a Toni Morrison speech about the power of language--the power of language to subvert our racist qualities, our classist and sexist and agist qualities. Here's the link if your'e interested--it's about 40 minutes. Look for the September 24, 2010 podcast.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A long time coming - and a recipe!

It's been a while since I've written. Being a grad student is great because it means that (in my case) I'm being paid to do something I love and live in a wonderful little town. It also means that I go through weeks upon weeks where I feel like it's all I can do to keep my head above the water. Actually, this semester hasn't been too bad, but all my classes are night classes which significantly cuts down on the amount of time I spend experimenting in the kitchen. However, last night one of those classes was cancelled (hooray for small favors!) and I had a friend over for dinner. I wanted to make something I could store in my freezer and that used ingredients I already had on hand.

I decided on bean burgers because they'll make an easy meal later and are something I can easily take to campus with me if I need to. And because I haven't made my own bean burgers in a while and it's something I actually really enjoy doing. I'm strange, I know! Anyway, these use canned chili beans and the bit of nutritional yeast (in theory) makes them taste a bit cheesier than they might otherwise.

You can adjust the seasonings to make them as spicy (or not spicy) as you'd like but my very spice sensitive friend seemed to have no problem with these. On my own, I'd probably serve them with a chipotle sauce and/or a whole grain mustard. I served these with root vegetable fries (radishes, turnips, carrots, onions and garlic--these last two are not a roots technically, yes I know). They would also go well with sweet potato or green bean fries. In addition, because I had one that needed to be used up, I sliced an orange bell pepper and grilled it in the pan with the burger.

Chili Bean Veggie Burger
Yields 5 patties

1 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 cup grated or diced carrot
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon extra dark cocoa powder
1 15-ounce can chili beans (extra spicy), with liquid
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I used a whole grain dijon)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup oat or wheat bran
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes, optional

Saute onions and garlic in oil, over medium heat, about 5 minutes until onions begin to soften. Add carrots and saute another 5 minutes. Add cumin, cayenne, chipotle, and oregano and saute 2 minutes. Add cocoa and remove from heat.

Process beans in a food processor, or mash with a potato masher, until coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in mustard and sauted vegetables. Add oats, bran, and nutritional yeast (if using). Season with salt to taste.

Moisten hands and form into approximately 5 patties. Cook patties in lightly greased nonstick skillet about 5-8 minutes over medium-low heat, until patties begin to brown. Flip and cook another 5-8 minutes. Serve on a bun or tortilla!