Friday, October 26, 2007

Recipe Reviews: Gumbo & Pie

Since the awesome trip to Boston's Veg Food Fest netted me three cookbooks, I decided to plan this weeks menu around some of the new recipes I have in my hands.

First on Monday I opened my Little Vegan Monsters cookbook and decided the Mexican Pie sounded awesome. I followed the recipe as close as possible for me, which is never exactly. The recipe asked me to sauté about 12 ingredients including tofu. Rather than put it all together I added the oil, onions and tofu and let it sauté until the tofu was reasonably dry. Once it seemed slightly firm, about 15 minutes, I added everything else and sautéed more. The dough was lovely though I did diverge and use a wheat flour. Once everything was ready I assembled the 'pie'.

Needless to say that once I poured the entire filling into my largest casserole dish I did not have much room for the topping. Rather than simply use less topping I scooped half of the filling and put it in a separate casserole dish. I divided the topping equally and plopped it all in the oven as directed. This turned out satisfying, savory and tasting like tamales but without the work of stuffing corn husks! This hearty 'pie' had all the traditional (to me) Mexican flavors. Creamy Pinto beans, crisp corn kernels, sharply biting cilantro all married to a lush savory cornbread fit for a king. Next time my goal is to use the large casserole but make mini muffins from the excess topping.

Unfortunately my pictures were a horrible blurry mess and I did not want to disgrace this awesome recipe with poor pics, so you only have my word. I am not sure what I will try next but this cookbook is simple, easy to use and the first test pulled out a hearty B+ with a definite need to repeat this one.

On Thursday night I tried out Veganomicon's Smoky Pepper & Bean Gumbo shown above. This was amazing. Seriously smoky, savory and oh so filling. I followed the recipe exactly as directed and only had to leave two items out, as somehow my fridge was mysteriously out of beer! That was a tragedy.

The steps were simple, completely explained and even times given on how long to let the roux simmer and the onions & peppers sauté. I followed that exactly and it turned out beautiful. The flavors have that fire roasted flavor but the kidney beans impart a lush creamy mouth feel. Even the okra was perfect with its subtle green flavor and softness to the tooth. I did serve this with Jasmine rice dollop. It added a smooth base for the tomatoes and peppers to shine from.

I will be making this again and it rates an excited A for making me stuffed beyond belief with just that bowl. Winter is coming! Get your soup bowls ready!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Welcome to Fearlessly Vegan!

Greetings and welcome!

I had all these great ideas fluttering about my head when I was setting up this blog. I planned on mentioning simple foods that were easy and delicious as well as some sample menus. Of course what really happened is that my mind immediately went blank the instant I started to create a post. Figures.

Since nothing comes to mind, here is my recount of the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival! The entire discussion can be found on VegWeb's Q&A.

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The Festival was awesome! In an attempt to be complete I tried to remember and take pictures in a journalistic manner, so all of you that could not attend still get a feel for the fun. So with that idea, here is my report!

At 6:35am I left my lovely little Connecticut town and began the 3 hour drive to Boston. Despite the early hour there were quite a few cars on the road but thankfully no accidents or inclement weather. I arrived at the site at 9:15am, just a wee bit early. So after finding a lovely parking spot, strolling up to the entrance and watching them hang the sign, I went inside. Much to my surprise, rather than making us wait while people finished setting up we were able to simply walk in at 9:50. This was great!

My first stop was the Herbivore table where I bought an awesome shirt. Next I tried some hummus from the good folks at Tribe. mmmm Pita & 40 spice hummus. Makes good breakfast food. A few tables down I spied Chef Colleen Patrick-Goudreau author of The Joy of Vegan Baking. After sampling one of her Chocolate chip (banana) mini muffins I got a signed & personalized copy of the cookbook. I am so looking forward to just about every recipe in the book. After this it gets a little blurry as I sample vegan treat after treat. I did buy a Little Vegan Monsters' cookbook. The sample of Lemon Poppyseed muffin and the picture of tamales sold me. I tried the seitan loaf from Cafe Indigo. Phenomenal! They are brilliant to have thought to add pureed cannellini beans to the mix. I am so going to try that but I do wonder if they ship. (Yes make 'nom nom nom' noises now!) I tried pancakes, muffins, rice mixtures, gladcorn, soup, and yes marinated mushrooms. Norm's Best mushrooms are an aphrodisiac. I bought two jars but one is already half eaten. I was completely serious when I asked if I could take Norm home. Man, those mushies are good.

Despite being full from samples I partook of a plate full of goodies the lovely Asian food table. Nom nom nom! I ate this lovely repast while awaiting the first speaker Chef Cathi DiCocco! The soups looked lovely and I learned very important things; to make broth use cold water, to cook veggies use hot. Brilliant information with the whys and hows explained. I lamented on my inability to try the Thai Sweet Potato Stew, but I asked what could be substituted for the pesky sweet potatoes and was told any yellow squash, like butternut, would work lovely! Yay!

After this I wandered around some more, shoveling sample after sample in my mouth. It was so exciting to not have to spaz about what I could and couldn't try. I bought my copy of Veganomicon and got a picture! I was so trilled and nervous that I hugged that book to my chest and took a step before Terry reminded me that it was $25! Doh! Feeling foolish I forked over the cash without relinquishing my book. I'm such a goober in front of such awesome people.
After that I took a minute to sit outside and enjoy the lovely 70 degree day. Veg*ns lined the building, walking in and out, talking about booths or samples or chortling over loot. Once I had caught my second wind I ventured back in and picked up some lovely fragrance free Arbonne body lotion after skirting the organic soaps table like a chicken. Now I wish I had the guts to go sniff them but then I did not want to risk a headache! After a sample or two of italian ices I slugged back another mushroom shot or two. Checking the time I realized that I had well over an hour to kill before the next talk was happening but my feets were tired. Looking at people's hands I decided a plate of soul food was in order. I stood in line and picked up a plate of rice, lentils, tofu salad and a veggie empanada. I took this upstairs to the speaker room and sat down on the last 10 minutes of the Why Animals Matter talk. Not quite the best time to be eating but Ms. Erin Williams made so many good points and had lovely slides. Very moving as I sat chowing down on vegan fare. The rice & lentils were good, but I was not fond of the tofu salad nor the empanada as they were cold and greasy (respectively).

By the time the talk ended I had finished and threw the plate away while sitting and enjoying not having a 15lb bag on my shoulder. Three cookbooks will do that to ya! Much to my surprise a green shirt rearranged chairs to have three free right in front of me. I laughed as I read the fuzzy black letters spelling out "Dinkfeet". Thats how I ran into the VegWeb crew! Yay! Dr. Michael Greger's talk was awesome. Funny, insightful and full of information. He told us to eat cocoa, date sugar, soymilk & berries every morning. Yay! He had the crowd laughing repeatedly, so much so that I decided to take video of his talk. Of course my batteries decided to put an end to that after 5 minutes. But soon as I figure out how to share it, there will be insightful video!

After that the VegWeb crew split up. I stayed to watch the next cooking demonstration where I learned something very important from Chef Colleen. "If you want to eat a healthy chocolate chip cookie, eat broccoli." *nods* She is wise! I ventured down stairs once more where I promptly found DinkFeet & CeltKat snatching up samples of organic tea. We stood and chatted for 30 plus minutes. We even saw oWalkerJillo & friend! It was nearing 5pm as we went our separate ways with hugs and promises to post of our Veg Fest experiences. I of course went and snatched up another mushroom shot and debated getting two more jars. I really should have.

The three hour drive home was not bad, except the torrential downpour near the MA/CT border but even that passed quickly. Honestly I was hyper from all the food, fun and experience. Even after three hours of driving I was able to go to a friends house till 11:30pm! Sharing my mushrooms and recounting tales of veggie goodness. All in all, it was an awesome experience. I hope to go next year as well and so should you!

The crowd was impressive! But my haul made it worthwhile!