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Rice is nice

We have a local eatery in town – which is about as close to a “soup and sandwich’ spot as you’ll find here – and their specialty for the last 25 or so years is their homemade bread made from wild rice.

IMG_4916In fact, Minnesota wild rice figures prominently in many of their lunch dishes, including soups and salads.

I like this place because their menu is pretty innovative with the combination of ingredients, and they will happily veganize something when requested. This yummy and filling Wild Rice salad that I had, for instance, normally comes with hard-boiled eggs. I asked if they could replace they eggs with avocado slices, and I believe that made it even more yummy! Plus, it’s served with a slice of their soft wild rice bread, which is pretty addictive.

I’ve loved wild rice (which is technically a grass) since I was a kid. I think it’s great that it’s being used so creatively at this restaurant, and it’s certainly proved popular as a result – just check out the longish lines at lunch hour!

 

Coronation street

Have you ever heard of “Coronation chicken’? If you’re one of Her Majesty’s subjects, then most certainly you have.

BeFunky_2010-10-04 04.jpgBeing the Anglophile that I am, I read of Coronation chicken a long while ago whilst reading a book of British recipes. It sounded simple but lovely: the Brit version of our good old all-American cold chicken salad (or a distant cousin of the Waldorf salad). It incorporates chopped chicken, curry powder, raisins (or sultanas, as they say over the pond), celery, onions, and whatnot.

It wasn’t until much later after I became veggie that I found a recipe for Coronation Chickpeas - a meat-free version of the original. Now, I love anything to do with chickpeas and curry – so this was a no-brainer for me. And you know what? It does make a lovely, light lunch on a hot summer day – I sometimes scoop the mixture into butter or red lettuce leaves and make a little wrap. You could also pile it onto some raw baby leafy greens or in a tortilla and call it a wrap. Or, do as I did the first time and just eat it plain with a fork.

Coronation chickpeas – healthful, quick to prepare, and a nice change from your usual sandwich stuffings or salad toppings. I used Vegenaise as my mayo of choice (as ever).

There are loads of recipes for Coronation chickpeas out there – feel free to experiment with any of them.

Playing with my food

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 Just having a little fun,  pre-burger – last weekend! Smile!

Pho sure!

Is there anything more satisfying than a humongous bowl of pho?
Maybe there is, to you, but I sure love sinking into this fragrant soup filled with amazing aromas, crunchy bean sprouts and fiery chilies.

2010-08-22 11.02.32I was first introduced to pho at a little hole in the wall Vietnamese place here in Florida. This place is authentic (and people do swear by its magical powers and great, cheap food) with Buddhas strategically placed and Vietnamese TV on in the background.

I had the vegetarian pho, and what struck me especially was the little side dish of condiments – basil, bean sprouts, chili peppers, lime) that signaled you to place them gently atop the finished soup, creating a masterpiece. It’s almost too pretty to eat!

When I get a hankering, I make my own at home (see above pic). It’s not hard. I love my river rice noodles, so those are very important. You can add anise, black pepper, garlic, and what not to a good veggie based broth. Add tofu (or leave it out), green onions, sliced mushrooms, gently simmer. Then you can begin adding your pretty condiments. Pho is adaptable to whatever you have on hand – it’s a lovely, gentle, forgiving soup. :)

Tempting tofu

Hey! It’s summer. Officially. I just moved house to a new locale, and the backyard is equipped with a nifty (and huge) gas grill.

Score.

Plus, there is an Asian supermarket just a few blocks away.

Super score!
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Tofu is plentiful and inexpensive there. Yay! I grilled some tofu slabs on the aforementioned grill this weekend, and voila: crispy on the outside, pliable inside, and with that BBQ taste everyone knows and loves. Oh, and look: grill marks! just like meat!

Here, the leftovers are pulling duty with rice river noodles, scallions (grown by moi, thanks very much), hot chili oil and a splash of sesame oil. Simple. Heavenly.

It’s going to be a good summer.

It’s summertime, and the canning is easy

Canning and pickling is ‘in’ again. How do I know? When I see Facebook posts from several of my friends about how they have discovered the joys of putting fruit or veg in a jar and covering it with a water-vinegar -sugar-blend. Yep, this ancient practice is back with a vengeance, and like any hip new trend, it latched its way on to me.

So: the other evening I was inspired by a) Pinterest and b) a craving for Vietnamese food, and decided to make do chua, or Vietnamese pickled veg. The do chua usually consists of simply carrots and daikon, but I only had carrots on hand, so I ran with it.

I have pickled other things before (cucumbers! How original!) but I’m curious to see how my half-batch of carrots turns out. Maybe with it  I can throw together my homemade version of banh mi, my most beloved sandwich in the world.

 

Save the chickens!

I do apologize for the inglorious photo here – it was taken on the fly – but I wanted to introduce you to my new best lunch friend, egg salad. Except this is not egg salad.

Looks like, it, no?

It’s tofu masquerading as egg salad.
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Before you go “EWWWW,” let me tell you. It tastes exactly like the real thing.

Taste and texture.

The key here: really good quality vegan mayo – I swear by Vegenaise, it’s the only kind I buy – and Dijon or stone ground mustard. The mustard is critical for giving the salad that “egg salad” taste.

I got the recipe here. Feel free to play around with it, as I did. So save a chicken, and serve it to your egg lovin’, tofu-hatin’ friends and see what they think!