Posts Tagged With: dinner

7 Days a Vegan – Comfort Food

This vegan adventure hasn’t been easy on me. I won’t lie. By Friday I was super cranky and yearning for something familiar. I had anticipate this and kept a few meals in my back pocket for such an occasion.

My friends and i were heading to the theatre on Friday evening, so I needed something quick, delicious, and comforting to prepare and gobble down before we started the long drive downtown. I opted for chapatis and dengu (lentils/dhal).

chapo

I can’t begin to describe how I make the chapatis, it’s so instinctive for me. But I can do a quick rundown of how to make the dengu.

Take some red lentils and boil them in water with salt. I don’t understand people who boil lentils in stock. I always feel like the water doesn’t “enter” them properly.

While the lentils are boiling away, in a separate pan fry up some chopped onions, green peppers, garlic and ginger. When they are translucent, push them to the side and toss some whole spices into the oil. I used cardamom, mustard seeds , cumin and coriander. When the mustard seeds start popping, mix the onions and spices together, before frying off a healthy dollop of tomato paste. Once the tomato paste is cooked out, throw in some chopped tomato and a healthy glut of coconut cream, then add the boiled lentils and let the two cook together.

Just before serving throw in some chopped fresh coriander leaves, and enjoy!

 

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7 Days a Vegan – Dim Sum

 

dipped

I’ve been eating rather rich food the last few days, so I was keen to have something fresh and clean for dinner. Ok, so I had chips for lunch. I was craving mashed potatoes with oodles of cream and cheese and fries were a good way to satisfy my potato craving without compromising my vegan ways. But I digress. Point: clean and fresh for dinner.

I have no idea how I dreamed up the idea of dim sum for dinner. it just felt right. The only problem is that all the store-bought wonton wrappers I’ve ever bought are rather yellow, which must mean they’re made with egg yolks, right? I could make my own wonton wrappers, but is there even a thing such as vegan wonton wrappers?

Turns out, no-egg wonton wrappers do exist and they’re not even that difficult to make. I used this recipe with a few modifications; I ended up using a touch more water than recommended and I didn’t have the patience to rest the dough for a full 20 minutes.

Not keen to roll the wrappers out by hand (impossible with my carpal tunnel issues anyway) I dug my pasta maker out of my cupboard and rolled them out nice and easy (-ish).

rollers

Aren’t my wonton wrappers pretty?

wrappers

l set them aside, and threw some red onion, garlic, ginger, half an aubergine, half a handful of cashew nuts and some yellow pepper into my food processor.

Blitz!

Blitz!

When blitzed, I turned it out into a bowl and threw in some tahini, sesame oil, chinese five spice, salt and loads of fresh coriander.

filling

I mixed the filling up and then spooned it onto my cut wonton wrappers, before sealing the ends with water and squeezing the bits together.

fill

this being my first attempt, the dumplings… erm… varied in size…

Some little and some less little dumplings.

Little and less little dumplings.

I lined the bottom of my steamer with baking paper then steamed the whole lot for 20 minutes (you really just need to steam them until the wrappers turn translucent).

steam

Dinner time! I whizzed together a quick dipping sauce of garlic, ginger, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, chili flakes and some dry white wine to have with the dumplings.

plate

Verdict: Pretty darned good. But this was the first meal this week where I missed animal protein.

What I would do differently: Add pork. All dumplings need pork. It’s just the way it is. I’d also try and be more consistent with the amount of filling per dumpling.

What I would keep the same: I’m super impressed with the wrappers I made from scratch. Also, the dipping sauce is amazing. 

Would I make them again? Probably not.. unless there was some pork in there 🙂 

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7 Days a Vegan – Vegan Biryani

Right now I am licking my lips in a most undignified manner. When I first thought up this scheme of mine of eating only vegan food for seven days, I knew the food would taste good (how could I not create delicious food?), but I didn’t expect it to be lick smacking good!

OK, backtrack. I have a pretty standard method when it comes to deciding what to make for dinner. I go to the store and check out what’s available in the fish section; if there’s nothing satisfactory I go to the meats. I buy the meat or fish first and build the meal around the protein. If nothing catches my fancy I usually settle for pasta-and-sauce or something that can go with beans or chickpeas. Or I just grab a bottle of wine and hope for the best. You need to understand – going meat-free doesn’t come naturally to me. I always knew the little piggy who went to market probably ended up as bacon, and I thought that was a most fitting end.

I thought it was time to challenge myself. Lord knows how I went to the vegan extreme. An ordinary person would say they’re going vegetarian and that would be good enough. Hell, a normal person would have considered meat free Mondays, then gone ahead and made a lovely pork belly roast on Tuesday. (My friend Tim makes a spectacular pork belly roast, by the way.)

I was utterly unprepared for this, but my 7 days of veganism started today. I didn’t have anything appropriate for breakfast, so I guzzled down some clemengold juice before leaving the house. For lunch I mixed up a glass of vanilla Ensure from my emergency office stockpile (I actually had some mushroom soup, but couldn’t find the list of ingredients to check fi it was vegan). Now apparently Ensure isn’t vegan as it contains milk products, but my label didn’t say that so it doesn’t count.

I digress. Dinner.

I swung by my local Woolies on the way home, as I barely had any veggies in my house. I got quite a good haul, but it cost me over R500, which proves the point that veganism is a rather expensive way of life.

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My shopping haul from Woolies.

While I was sitting at work this afternoon fretting over what to make for my first vegan dinner, my tastes leaned towards a vegetable biryani. I love a good biryani. Lamb biryani, usually, but I can’t stand the stuff people so often have masquerading as biryani. If lentils have been stuck in there I’m not interested. Saffron and layering are integral.

A quick google search and i found a couple of recipes to guide me. Here we go.

I got the rice started. I steamed some basmati with four cloves, half a star-anise, a bit of cinnamon quill, and three green cardamom pods. Don’t cook the rice through; just until it’s 2/3 done.

While the rice was cooking, I sliced up some onions and fried them in way too much oil. But I know that a great deal of oil is necessary, and besides, one of the recipes advised that I should “deep fry” the onions.

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While the onions were frying I rinsed some cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, sweet corn, aubergine, and a yellow pepper and chopped them up.

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Back to the flying onions. Once they were at that point between translucent and golden, I threw in some curry leaf, sliced yellow pepper and a handful of cashew nuts. Essential for protein, you understand. Be really careful with the cashews; they can burn really quickly without your noticing.

I then fished out the cooked stuff and threw whole cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and whole fennel seeds into the remaining oil. Take a moment to appreciate the sons and fragrance of the cardamom pods popping open. I followed that up by tossing a teaspoon of crushed garlic and a teaspoon of chopped ginger into the pot, then stirring furiously. The scent that emanates from the pot shows how magical an aromatic ginger is. I then went off-recipe and squirted in a good amount of tomato paste.

I allowed the tomato paste to cook out (essential step!) before throwing in the chopped veggies. I sautéed them lightly, then added about a 1/4 cup of coconut cream, a squeeze of lime juice, and a splash of water, before popping the lid on and allowing it to cook for 5 minutes.

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While the veggies were cooking out, I finely chopped a handful of coriander with a tiny amount of mint, and also heated up a 1/2 cup of coconut cream with a good pinch of saffron. Oh, and pre-heated the oven to 200*C.

Layering time! I wasn’t about to make something else dirty, so I eased some of the steamed rice up on top of the cooked veggies, the layered the chopped herbs on top. I then sprinkled the saffron-indued coconut cream on the whole lot, before putting one last layer of rice and sprinkling once again with saffron coconut cream. I sealed the casserole with foil, popped the lid on top, then stuck it in the oven for 25 minutes.

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Wait a painfully. long. 25. minutes.

When serving, dig right down to the bottom of the casserole to get all layers of the dish.

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My verdict: DELICIOUS!!!!!!

I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much. I tossed my serving spoon in the sink after my first serving, and had to get a clean one out when I went for seconds. The coconut cream was MAGIC, adding that creaminess I missed from not using yoghurt, ghee or butter. It was super creamy, super rich, and super tasty. Did I miss meat in the dish? Well, I thought of lamb once while I was eating, but honestly this dish doesn’t need any meat. Or dairy, for that matter.

What I didn’t love about this – I didn’t pay enough attention to the protein content. The only protein came from the cashews, and that definitely wasn’t enough. I need to think more about making sure I have enough protein in my food this week.

Has it completely turned me off this vegan journey? Absolutely not. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s culinary adventure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Succumbing…

Succumbing...

A couple of nights ago I had a hankering for fried chicken. I never eat fried chicken from fast-food outlets so was forced to whip up a batch myself. I could only find mini chicken breasts (I prefer wings), didn’t have time for the 24-hour soak in buttermilk, and in a nod to health consciousness (hah!) crumbed but did not batter the chicken.

I served it with potato salad and a sweet-&-hot sesame soy dipping sauce, made with jalapeños from my mini urban garden. Happiness!

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Last night…

Dinner last night…

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Dinner prep

Dinner prep – Woolworths thick-cut mature sirloin steaks marinated in lemon-infused olive oil, soy sauce, whole coriander seeds, dried tarragon, dhania jeera and, of course, freshly-ground black pepper. Talk about fusing food cultures! We’ll see how it works out.

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Risotto!

I made risotto for the first time this week! It turned out great, especially for a first attempt. Here it is bubbling away:

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I sautéed spring onions, sweet peppers, dried tarragon, mixed mushrooms and crushed garlic in a mix of Parmesan-infused olive oil and butter. To that I added my rice, and gradually ladled in simmering lamb stock. When the rice was almost done, I stirred in a tablespoon of double cream, a knob of butter, and grated some Parmesan liberally over the lot. Then right at the end I tossed in a healthy glug of white wine.

It was a meat-free meal, so I served it with tomatoes roasted with pesto, feta, black pepper, and lemon-infused olive oil.

Quick, simple, tasty. Bon appetite!

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Dinner with Friends = Happiness :)

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Dinner with friends. As you can see, my dinner last night was a rehearsal. Tonight’s meal is fillet steak on bone marrow on a bed of mashed sweet & nicola potatoes. The steak is topped with a home-made chicken liver and duck pâté. I’ve done assorted mushrooms in cream, port, butter and black pepper. The sauce is shallots, tarragon, port wine, cream and green peppercorns.

I’m just bummed I forgot to take photos while I was cooking. I guess I’ll have to do it all over again.

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Dinner for One – 19 June 2013

Dinner last night was a pork steak seasoned with a dukkah-inspired dry rub, served atop marrow bones, drizzled (drenched) with a port wine sauce. It hit the spot!

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Five Days With a Philips Airfryer – Day 5: Back to Basics

I know this post is late. I know this post is almost a full week late as I really should have put it up last Friday. However I’m the kind of person who can turn denial and procrastination into an art and come up with an unassailable justification for said procrastination and denial. For instance, I could say that I undertook to blog on five days with an Airfryer, not five consecutive days with an Airfryer.

Ah, language, I can always twist you to suit my needs.

What was I in denial about, you may ask? Well, quite simply that my time with the demo Airfryer was coming to an end. That thing made my life so much easier, it really did. Dinner was as simple as shoving some ingredients into it, and by the time I’d put down my handbag and kicked off my shoes there was that “ping!” letting me know my dinner was ready.

So, for my final meal with the Airfryer, I went back to basics and cooked bacon.

Let me explain – bacon and I have what you might call a special relationship. Bacon loves me, this I know. If scientists are to be believed that fat, sugar and salt in the right quantities make food addictive, then bacon is nature’s perfectly addictive food. Yes, yes, I know it was helped along by people curing pork belly (don’t worry, I’m not going to pull a Chrissy Teigen and try to make my own bacon). But my point is this: bacon is perfection. Unless you cook it wrong.

So while having bacon as my final challenge seems like a deceptively simple task, it was the one I was going to judge most strictly.

Making the bacon was ridiculously simple, though. I stuck some rashers in the Airfryer and ground some black pepper over them:

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Let them cook at 200* for 3 minutes before flipping them over:

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Then cooked them for a further 2 minutes at 180*:

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Before serving the bacon atop English muffins with scrambled eggs:

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The bacon. Was. Perfect.

Absolutely perfect. The fat was perfectly rendered without my having to use a bit of oil to do so, the bacon was crisp without being overdone or chewy. There was absolutely no grease on the bacon rashers, and looking at the drip tray that made perfect sense as the amount of fat in there was disgusting.

I will confess that I’m salivating a little bit right now at the memory of the bacony goodness.

The only problem is the Airfryer could only comfortably accommodate four rashers, although in my case, this is probably a good thing cos I could easily eat a whole pack of bacon singlehanded. Yes, you read that right – a whole pack. Even though it occasionally fails me, self control is a beautiful thing.

And that’s it, good people. Looks like my week with the Airfryer managed to convert me so I’ll need to get myself one ASAP. Thanks to Thandeka for arranging for my loan and introducing me to the Airfryer; it was plenty of fun.

Until next time, yours in baconness,

L

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