Monday, October 19, 2009

The "Cooking From 1,000 Vegan Recipes" Project

Come on over and check out a new collaborative effort in which I'm involved--Cooking From 1,000 Vegan Recipes. Six of us are tackling Robin Robertson's latest cookbook, 1,000 Vegan Recipes. Sort of like the Julie/Julia Project, but totally not.

This new book is nothing short of amazing, and voluminous, and comprehensive. It is chock FULL of delicious recipes and ideas for making magic in your kitchen. It's perfect for new vegans, old vegans, non-vegans, new cooks, old cooks, and half-way cooks. It may quite possibly be the only cookbook you ever need! And that's saying a lot, coming from me, oh hoarder of all things vegany and cookbooky.

So come see what we're up to, what we're all making, and let us know what you think!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chipotle Basil Corn Chowder

Thanks to last weekend's trip to the country, I had some end-of-the-summer corn. And thanks to my cookbook whoring, I also have one of the latest amid a proliferation of vegan cookbooks, Lauren Ulm's Vegan Yum Yum: Decadent (But Doable) Animal-Free Recipes for Entertaining and Everyday, which is based on her popular blog, Vegan Yum Yum. So having fresh corn on hand, some basil fading out in the planter box, and a bit of a cookbook habit, I tried her recipe for Chipotle Basil Corn Chowder.

This is a simple soup, but it took me an hour to put it together because I had to shuck the corn, rinse the corn, cut the corn, dice the onion, and dice the potatoes. Then you have to transfer some to a food processor, then back to the pot. The recipe calls for 5-6 ears of corn, but I used eight; and I used six potatoes instead of the called-for five, and adjusted the other items accordingly. The only ingredient I was missing was lime juice.

My knife skills definitely need work and I'd love to take a class AND buy some fancy high quality knives. I think that might make kitchen life easier. But really, it IS a simple soup to put together, and I imagine using frozen corn would save a chunk of time. But as the summer's vegetables fade away, I wanted to make use of some beautiful farm fresh corn and highlight it in a dish.

I found the soup to be a standard corn chowder. Very good, but I missed the chipotle. If anyone knows me, you know my distaste for bland food and my constant need to smother everything in black, red, or white pepper AND hot sauce. However the first time out I like to try a recipe as written by the author, then make my tweaks. I almost added more chipotle, but really didn't want to overpower the soup, and I wanted to check the starting point. There was a hint of smokiness in the background, which is probably fine for most people. But I'm not most people and I don't like hints. I like full on in your face flavor. But if your palate leans more toward the softer side of life, stick with the recipe as written.

Overall, very nice corn chowder and the fresh basil brings it alive. Changes for next time: frozen corn for time and more chipotle in adobo for flavor.

And yes, there's a container in my freezer with a label that reads "Chipotle Basil Corn Chowder 10/8/09." Label makers are magnificent.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Baked Cheezly Chili Mac

With fall upon us, a girl's thoughts turn to hot boots, mulled cider, and soups and stews and chilis of course!

Yesterday I had the wonderful idea of making chili. I considered breaking out the bread machine to make some nice crusty bread to go along with it, then I decided to do cornbread and a salad, but I also thought of serving it over rice. So obviously, I didn't really have a plan. I just made chili. Nothing fancy or exotic, just a basic chili with TVP, canned beans, canned tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and gobs of spices.

By the time the chili was ready, I still wasn't sure what else I was going to do, so I went to stare into the pantry, as I so often do. There was a lone bag of fusilli, so I grabbed that and put a pot of water on to boil. When that was nearly done, I mixed the pasta and about two thirds of the chili, grated some nacho Cheezly on top, covered with foil, and put it in the oven on 350 for about 20 minutes. Then I brought the oven up to a low broil and let it have about five minutes sans the foil. Here is what resulted:

Added some roasted green beans--bought directly from Rock Hill Orchard this past weekend--and had a complete meal.

Was it pretty? No. Was it good and oh so easy? Yes!

The other great part of this is there was enough chili left over to use for another meal, whether served in bowls, atop nachos, or made into another casserole. It now lives in my freezer and thanks to my handy dandy label maker, there's no confusion as to what it is and when it was made.