Archive for February, 2013

February 11, 2013

Veganism Day 4 to 9: We’re like two burgers….

The Beard is here today, bringing you a brief and beautiful update.

Very often you do things that you like alone. Because no one likes them like you do. And sometimes you do things you don’t like, alone. Such as shoveling snow off your front door, ironing your most wrinkled shirts before a presentation, or anything else that leaves you enough time to do what you don’t like doing and think about it excessively. There’s one thing I hate doing, and this is smiling to someone I have fed but won’t return even a ‘Thank you!’ because that someone believes that the dish I offered lacked of character or style. Of course, this individual thinks of meat, knowing that the food that was shared is a sort of pre-game only. That the thankless person in question will grab real food on his way home –a kebab, for sure. Well, while this type of situation has happened to me a lot in the past, I had time to think about it excessively. And find remedies.

The remedy is, as I’ve previously mentioned, the Guide. How is it that I feel that my shoes now fit me so perfectly? How is it that seeing the meat stalls at the farmers’ market doesn’t bother me anymore? And that I don’t mind shoveling snow off my front door, that I wear neatly-ironed shirts lately, that… ? There’s something about body and mind. They make the connections we, as human beings, can’t force. V-E days (Vegan Emancipation… because I am still a Cold War historian after all) see my body thanking my mind for the careful turn it has decided to undertake. Little by little, you replace the need with the necessary, and the necessary with the essential. You don’t lack of anything, you discover how you can make it even better. Life. So you heap up the veggies on the bun. Are you craving a crunchy steak?: let it cook a little longer, resting on its heated pan, ready to offer you the right dose of iron. Reminder: you don’t like ironing, but you build up. Build up. Build up. Go grocery shopping together, spend your Saturdays, build something together. Share: our friends L, A, K, and E jumped into a sea of veganism (and wine) and went home smiling, I heard. Veganism is like that: altruistic. Listen, discover and build up on what you’ve learned. And eventually end up side by side, like two healthy bodies who don’t even bother thinking about any ‘I’ anymore. Have they ever existed? My body doesn’t remember. We’re like two burgers, side by side, feeling good as day 12 is about to start, wondering how better things could ever be. The Guide and the Beard. More will come. I’ll keep you posted…

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Double Double Drive-Thru Burgers

Serves 8

(adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen, but taken from another great vegan reference and Boston College friend, Veega)

What you’ll need:

Burgers:

  • 8 oz. package tempeh or 1 cup cooked brown rice (we used brown rice because tempeh is nowhere to be found in Strasbourg)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 15 oz. can lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Sauce:

  • 2/3 cup soft tofu
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons pickle relish (we couldn’t find this, but it was delightful nonetheless.)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill

Now what?

  1. Sauté garlic and onion in a pan until soft, browned and full of aromas!
  2. Combine garlic, onion, lentils, walnuts, flour and spices in a food processor (or maybe a high powered blender) and pulse until it is all incorporated. The walnuts should be in crumbs. If necessary, remove from the food processor and mix with your hands in order to mix fully.
  3. Heat the canola oil in the same pan used before. From the lentil mixture, form thin patties (we got about 8 out of this). The first time we made these, we made double decker burgers, which were delicious, messy and divine. If not making double decker version, make the patties a bit thicker.
  4. Once the oil is hot, fry the patties in the pan on both sides until browned and crunchy on the outside. Move them onto a plate to collect excess oil.

For the sauce:

  1. Mix all of the sauce ingredients except the dill and the relish in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and stir in the dill and the relish. We poured ours into an old ketchup squeeze bottle. The Beard named this sauce “homme-made” (man-made).
  2. To assemble the burgers on vegan buns, we poured sauce onto the bottom bun, smothered it with lettuce, a burger patty, another bottom bun, more sauce, another patty, and then red onions, red peppers, tomatoes, and or pickles (au choix! your choice!) bon app.
February 4, 2013

Veganism Day 3: Chickpea Veggie Burger with Tahini Sauce

Day 2 to 4: Veganism is tasty!

-by The Beard

So here we are, beginning our little journey into veganism. My guide’s aunt –a prominent vegan– used the right words for a better start: ‘do not replace dairy for vegan junk food.’ Yes, because it would be so easy: we’d live off salted peanuts, lots of wasabi chips, potatoes and raw carrots, and fake butter and baguette. And Coke. Well, I already know (thanks to my not-refunded 70 euros visit to the endocrinologist, which is unbelievable here!) that, due to my anarchist regulation of insulin that we call ‘pre-diabetes,’ I am not really allowed to eat French baguette or potatoes, for it turns into sugar once in my blood. Now, I already inquired about Coke. You, the people of the United States, are lucky: Coke is vegan. However, we Europeans, decided that Coke should contain Beta Carotene 10% DG/F. Can this really be… FISH GELATIN?! ‘Yes, Sir.’ So that fresh bottle went down the drain. Problem solved. Forever. In France.

Now, there is one thing I must say is very important: I am thankful for my guide. Because this chickpea and apricot tajine was the lightest and tastiest dinner I had in months! For several reasons. First of all, there are some wonderbarful (huh?) secret ingredients in there: cinnamon and ginger were my favorite. Then, because it came after the wonderful meatballs and gravy pasta my guide’s momma used to cook every Sunday, allowing me in the guide’s childhood memories. After carrying two gigantic bags full of 10 kilos (20 pounds) vegetables for 25 minutes (do Americans have a different time measurements, requiring the use of a converter?!) because I live right in the heart of the city where cars are NOT allowed, I noticed that the tajine had been forgotten in the fridge. The last reason why this dinner was the best in months is because it was delivered to my door at 7 pm, right when I felt hungry again!

I don’t want to spoil the day 3 recipe, but it was just as wonderful. I also cook on my own, but it goes back to more basic things (soups and salads mainly). And I have no camera. I’ll keep you posted…

 

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Chickpea Veggie Burger with Tahini Sauce

(adapted from shape.com, serves 6)

What you’ll need:

For the tahini sauce:

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame-seed paste)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

For the chickpea burgers:

  • 1 (15.5oz) (400g) can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs, divided

What now?

  1. For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth. It is a little liquid but it’s perfect for the veggie burgers nonetheless.
  2. For the veggie burgers, combine all of the ingredients except for the breadcrumbs in a food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure equal food processing.
  4. Mix the combination with the breadcrumbs in a large bowl.
  5. Divide the bean mixture into six equal portions, shaping each into a round patty-like disc. I tried both thicker and thinner patties and both were equally as good.
  6. Heat 2 teaspoons vegan margarine in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Add patties to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Mine were not crispy, crunchy all the way through, but they were still delightful.
  8. Serve in a pita with fresh onion, tahini sauce, lettuce, tomato.

We ate this with an endive salad, roasted Brussels sprouts,(and french fries and a pickle, to be 100% honest).

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(the Beard liked his with ketchup)

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February 3, 2013

Veganism Day 2: Mamoon’s Italian Faux-meatballs and Gravy

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On a recent trip to Germany (hooray for living on the border!), the Beard and I were astonished to discover a ton of products that France seems to be lacking.  That is to say — meatless meatballs, tofurkey, vegan butter, etc. etc.  We naturally spent every bit of our paycheck (and way too many hours on a Saturday morning) loading up on a couple of these delights. Normally, I can do without faux-meat because that is something that I’d like to try my hand at myself, BUT I couldn’t resist purchasing meatless meatballs and faux-italian sausage in order to make the Beard a dish that he has yet to taste.  A heritage piece.  Something that I ate every Sunday growing up in my Italian American household.  Waking up to the smell of frying garlic and onions at 10am on a Sunday morning — knowing what was in store was a carbohydrate lover’s delight.  I had to make my family’s “gravy.” Be careful — in my household, you’d be sooner caught dead than to call it “sauce” (or ‘sawce’ as the Beard likes to say with his New York accent.) It’s gravy.  And macaronis.  And that’s what I decided to make for day 2 of veganism. A sort of initiation for the Beard.  A good gravy is not complicated but boy oh boy is it delicious.

Mamoon’s Italian Gravy

What you’ll need:

  • olive oil
  • large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 large cans (800g) crushed tomatoes (Redpak for those of you in the U.S)
  • Italian seasonings (oregano, basil, fresh parsley, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, whatever your heart desires)
  • bouillon cube / a pinch of sugar

Now what?

  1. Sauté onion and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until fragrant.
  2. Add one can of crushed tomatoes and season to your likings (the more the better, you want to see specks of seasonings in every bite).  Mix well.
  3. Add the second can and season yet again!
  4. Add your bouillon cube and a pinch of sugar.
  5. Let the gravy heat through and simmer.  At this point you can add your broiled meatballs and Italian sausages.  In our case, we fried up the meatless meatballs and faux-sausages and added to the gravy once they were crispy on the outside.
  6. Plop everyone into the gravy and let simmer and infuse for 30-45 minutes (since they were meatless.) For real meat, I would let it cook longer, to be sure.  An hour? An hour and a half?
  7. Serve on with big macaronis (I prefer rigatoni, for example!)  Cover with Parmesan cheese if you aren’t a cheese-aphobe.  Nutritional yeast was a nice replacement!

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February 1, 2013

Veganism Day 1: Chickpea and Apricot Tagine

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Coming back after a two month + hiatus.  A lot has happened in two months.  I took a trip to the United States and indulged in so much pizza that I didn’t even know what to do with myself.  I confirmed the fact that, although the US has foods that quench my hunger in a cultural sense, the quality of the vegetables and the fruits have rien à voir (nothing to do) with the ones in France — (a quick google search translates ‘rien à voir’ to ‘it’s apples and oranges!’ heh.)  I couldn’t believe the choices in the supermarkets, but when push comes to shove, nothing is more odorous than the fresh market produce that I get once a week at the Boulevard de la Marne.  But anyway, passons.  Let’s get back to the topic at hand.  My return.

My return is special.  Because I am coming back with a new flavor of the month – as we should say. Veganism. Hmm.  Veganism? For someone who has eaten not one but TWO fondues this week alone? It doesn’t seem to add up.  Which is exactly why I am doing it.  Cheese and I have a tumultuous relationship.  As in, it ruins me.  After watching two particularly enlightening documentaries on the food industry and the effect of dairy products on our health, I have mulled over the idea for some time.   Let’s add the fact that hereditary can be cruel to us.  And so I’d like to ideally take the best care of my body that I can – that is to say before my genes decide for me!

And if I were to actually be a practicing yogi (oh how I miss my yoga classes these days) I would be taking the nonviolent route.  Essentially, I want to see if kindness to my body and to other sentient beings will affect me, for the better.  Bref.  My thoughts are unclear. In order to help with unclear thoughts, this next month shall be co-blogged by The Beard.  He has decided to follow me in my pursuits. For someone who eats a whole lot of mozzarella, I’m just really impressed by his kindness to join me.

The Beard, everybody.

Cheese is my dope. But there’s nothing you can’t put aside, really. At the origin was vegetarianism –which seems to have accompanied my life forever. There’s no way back, but there is a way forward. Veganism. Veganism? For I believe that the voiceless should talk. Not only animals, but anyone. But this is not it. Anyone who has ever experienced this strange moment when, full of animal protein, you feel like you owe it to someone. And as a Frenchman, let me tell you: we don’t like to owe anything to anyone, especially not on food-related matters. Someone opens your eyes. You agree. If you gotta talk the talk, you also gotta walk the walk. I’ve therefore become a follower. Because my guide to veganism is wise and tempered. Not a radical. Not like me. This move toward veganism –even though I don’t intend on becoming a permanent one today– is therefore an initiating journey into ethical and culinary improvement. Out of curiosity. And out of love.

To celebrate February 1st, one whole day of veganism, I give you the utmost delicious way to start 28 days of a plant based diet thanks to Ms. Kim.  Kim is a British colleague/marvel who knows how to cook with flavour (see what I did there, with the spelling of that word?) I want her to teach me everything she knows.  For those of you who don’t know : a tagine is a typical Moroccan dish that often incorporates a surprising fruit ingredient into a slow cooked dish.  The addition of the cinnamon is surprisingly welcome!

Chickpea & Apricot Tagine

(serves 5-6 people)

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What you’ll need:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 1 big sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • a bayleaf
  • 16 fl oz vegetable stock
  • as many dried apricots as you’d like, cut up
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes

Now what?

  1. Fry the onion and garlic until fragrant.  Add the spices and cook for a few minutes.  Then add the remaining ingredients in that order, mixing for about a minute in between each addition.
  2. Let is simmer for around a half an hour. “Cook until scrumptious” to quote Ms. Kim.
  3. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper and mint (or parsley or coriander).
  4. Serve over whole wheat couscous.

Honestly, the choices are endless, you can swap in or out any of the vegetables for other root or non-root veggies.  The vegan sky is the limit.

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