December 10, 2014

Holiday Giveaway: Food Rules Print from Holstee

The prize for this Holiday Giveaway is generously provided by Holstee

Photo Credit: Holstee

Am I the only one who can't believe it's already December? Another holiday season has snuck up on me, and before I get too deep into the craziness of my to-do list (decorating the apartment, shopping for gifts, attending holiday parties, baking, cooking, flying home to Michigan…), I just want to say one thing:

Thank you.

Thanks for reading, for commenting, for cooking my recipes in your kitchens. Thank you for visiting my little corner of the internet. I'm so incredibly grateful to have you here. To show my thanks, I'd like to share a holiday gift with one lucky reader.

This giveaway is made possible by Holstee, a small Brooklyn company whose unique and thoughtful Manifesto went viral a few years back. Holstee's message of mindfulness and community really resonates with me, especially since they believe in approaching food with those same goals in mind. Holstee hosts vegetarian potlucks in Brooklyn and is working to build a global movement of community potlucks, donating $25 to FoodCorps for each and every potluck hosted (Interested in hosting a potluck? Sign up here!). It's not surprising, then, that their Food Rules Collection emphasizes an intentional and community-focused approach to how we eat.

Photo Credit: Holstee

The Food Rules Collection is centered around a vintage poster published by the U.S. Food Administration in 1917, beautifully reproduced by Holstee as a 12x16 letterpress print. Originally intended to familiarize Americans with the guidelines of wartime consumption, the poster displays 6 simple steps of mindful eating that are as relevant today as they were nearly 100 years ago. 

1. Buy it with thought
2. Cook it with care
3. Use less wheat & meat
4. Buy local foods
5. Serve just enough
6. Use what is left

Photo Credit: Holstee

Do these tenants of mindful eating resonate with you? Would you like to display a beautiful print of this thoroughly-modern vintage poster in your own home? I thought you might! Holstee is offering one free 12x16 Food Rules Letterpress Print to a reader of Braisen Woman. Here's how to enter the giveaway:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post sharing your thoughts on mindful consumption. For example: Do you approach cooking and eating with the Food Rules in mind? Which rules come naturally to you? Which feel challenging?. Please note that anonymous comments will not qualify for an entry. 

2. Follow the entry instructions in the Rafflecopter window below! You can log in via facebook or email - be sure to use an account whose email you check regularly. Once you've logged in, click the green "I commented!" button to enter the giveaway. 

Each reader who leaves a comment and submits an entry by 11:59PM on Saturday, December 13th, will be entered into the Giveaway. The winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter. I'll notify the winner by email on Sunday, December 14th. 

Happy Holidays!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

November 19, 2014

Recipe: Plum Poppy Seed Cake

I've been busy lately, as you might have surmised from the pin-drop silence here on the blog. As penance for my blogging absence, I made you a cake. It just felt like the right thing to do. It became a plum cake when I remembered a handful of plums sitting in my fridge, stowaways from an autumn season that is all-too-quickly turning to winter here on the East Coast. Once plums were involved, it only seemed natural that almond extract - a great friend to plums - should be included. This led me to create a cake batter inspired by my one of my favorite breakfast treats: Almond Poppy Seed Muffins. And with that, Plum Poppy Seed Cake was born.

Plum Poppy Seed Cake is a cross between Almond Poppy Seed Muffins and a Fruit Buckle (an old-fashioned cake with fruit baked into the top). The cake is tender but wholesome, thanks to a winning combination of coconut oil and whole wheat flour. Poppy seeds add a welcome crunch, and almond extract (backed up by the coconut oil) infuses the cake with a heady fragrance and rich flavor. Slices of plums are the cake's crowning glory, forming dimples of jewel-pink fruit as the cake rises up around them.

Much like my Peach Polenta Upside Down Cake, this cake is an "anytime cake" - a just-sweet-enough treat that can be served for breakfast, as a light dessert, or alongside a cup of tea or coffee when your afternoon could use a pick-me-up. I mean, come on. Cake you're allowed to eat whenever you'd like? SOLD.

Plum Poppy Seed Cake
serves 8-10

4 medium plums
1 cup plain non-dairy milk (soymilk recommended)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons poppyseeds
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan with cooking spray. Halve the plums and remove their pits, then slice into 1/2-inch thick wedges and set aside. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, add the milk and vinegar, stir, and set aside to sour for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until evenly combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the soured milk, coconut oil, applesauce, 1/2 cup sugar, and almond extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl of dry ingredients and gently stir until a smooth batter forms.

Pour batter into greased pan and smooth out top with a spatula. Arrange the sliced plums on top of cake in whatever pattern you'd like, then sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Transfer skillet to oven and bake cake for 38-42 minutes, or until the center tests clean. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Once cake has cooled, run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the springform portion. Run a knife under the bottom of the cake to loosen it before carefully transferring to a plate for serving.

September 8, 2014

Recipe: Kimchi Noodle Soup

As a long-time nanny, I'm used to battling several rounds of colds each year. It's inevitable when you spend much of your time in the various germ-ridden hangouts of the toddler set - the children's corner of the library with books touched by a million little hands; the playground whose sandboxes may as well be over-sized petri dishes. It was an occupational hazard far-outweighed by the general awesomeness of my job.

My life in New York is presently child-free, so I was unpleasantly surprised when I started feeling under the weather last Sunday. Within 24 hours, both Daniel and I had been attacked by some kind of hideous cold/flu hybrid, a virus so evil I am convinced it was birthed in the depths of hell. The only slightly more likely source? Some unwashed crevice of New York (I'm thinking the subway was involved). Of course, knowing where this beast of a cold came from won't make me feel better. What will make me feel better? Kimchi Noodle Soup.

Think of Kimchi Noodle Soup as turbo-charged Chicken Noodle Soup… minus the chicken. Kimchi's spice and ferment-y funk permeate the broth with a sinus-clearing blast of heat that's as effective as it is delicious. Kimchi Noodle Soup will punch your cold in the face and then laugh at it. Each spoonful is a pleasant little fire that wafts into your sinuses, locates the congestion, and SMOKES IT OUT.

Honestly, I'd love this soup even if it didn't have cold-punching powers. It's an exceptionally full-flavored and umami-rich soup, simple to make and satisfying to eat. It's also a great introduction to kimchi for the uninitiated, since its pungency is mellowed by the broth and balanced with a bit of sweetness from carrots, shallots, and a splash of mirin (sweet rice wine). To sum it up: Have a cold? Make this soup. Perfectly healthy? MAKE THIS SOUP.

Kimchi Noodle Soup
Serves 4

Kimchi is a spicy Korean side dish/condiment of fermented cabbage and various other vegetables. When shopping for vegan kimchi, you'll want to avoid brands that include fish sauce in the ingredient list. My favorite vegan kimchi brands are Mother In Law's Vegan Napa Cabbage Kimchi and Britt's Pickles Market Kimchi.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large carrots, chopped
2 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
1 heaping cup vegan napa cabbage kimchi, drained and chopped, plus 2 tablespoons kimchi liquid
2 tablespoons mirin
4 cups vegetable broth (I use 4 cups water plus 2 teaspoons "No Chicken" Better Than Bouillon paste)
2 cups water
4 ounces eggless wide ribbon noodles*
Salt, to taste

*Eggless Wide Ribbon Noodles are an egg-free version of classic Egg Noodles, and can be found in many supermarkets. Alternatively, rotini or fusilli pasta will work well.

Bring a large pot over medium heat and saute carrots and shallots in oil for 5 minutes, then add chopped kimchi and saute 5 minutes more. Add mirin and 2 tablespoons kimchi liquid and cook for a couple minutes before adding broth and water. Cover and bring to a boil, then add pasta. Partially cover, reduce heat to maintain a low boil (around medium), and cook until noodles are done and carrots are tender, about 8-10 minutes. Season as needed with salt and serve steaming hot. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days, though the texture of the noodles is best the day the soup is made (the noodles continue to soak up the broth during their time in the fridge). When reheating, you might want to add a bit of extra water to offset the broth absorbed by the noodles.

August 8, 2014

Recipe: Savory Tomato & Sausage Cobbler

I'd like to say the transition from Seattlite to New Yorker has been a seamless one, but that would be a lie. I'm a creature of habit who finds comfort in well-worn routines, so you can imagine that a near-spontaneous move across the country is a challenging endeavor for me. One of the biggest challenges so far? Getting comfortable in our apartment's bite-sized kitchen.

I should clarify that I really love our apartment. I love the location, the 1920s character, the exceedingly wonderful doormen who bring you Venezuelan corn flour from Queens when you can't find it anywhere. I love that my sectional sofa fit through the door without having to saw it in half (PIVOT!!!). But 550 square feet only goes so far. Our apartment's layout gives the vast majority of that square footage to its generously-sized living room and bedroom… leaving a measly 30 square feet for the kitchen.

To be fair, the kitchen fits a lot into those 30 square feet. My favorite feature? A small-but-mighty 17-inch-wide dishwasher. It is magnificent and saves my sanity. The very sanity that is continually tested by my least favorite kitchen feature: the 20-inch electric stove. Fun fact about me: I've never had a gas range. Always wanted one, never had one. So the electric-ness of the stove is not the unbearable portion of the appliance. I can deal with that. What I can't deal with is burners that technically work - they turn on - but provide no consistency in temperature whatsoever. Level 2 can either burn your food to a crisp or leave it woefully pale, depending on the day. Recipe testing has become a comedy of errors; cooking dinner is fraught with profanity and frequently ends with takeout. I've become more fond of baking than ever, as the oven itself is blissfully accurate (save for a non-functioning broiler). It's been a journey, to say the least.

I trust that with time, I'll master cooking out of my new kitchen. Until then, I'm relying on forgiving, simple recipes, like this Savory Tomato & Sausage Cobbler. A savory cobbler is essentially a twist on pot pie, with a saucy, vegetable-laden base tucked under a golden crust. This version, which I developed for Field Roast, features vegetarian Italian sausage, juicy pops of tiny summer tomatoes, and sweet caramelized onions. Taking inspiration from the Italian-style filling, slices of store-bought prepared polenta are a simple stand-in for cobbler's traditional biscuit topping. It's summer comfort food perfect for the height of tomato season.

Savory Tomato & Sausage Cobbler
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion,  halved and thinly sliced
1 package FieldRoast Italian Sausages, crumbled into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/4 cups water
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, well-rinsed
1 (18 ounce) package of prepared polenta, cut into 12 round slices

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large skillet over medium/just-above-medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once oil is hot, add sliced onions and a pinch of salt. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in tomato paste until onions are coated evenly, then stir in the crumbled sausage. Stir in water, scraping bottom of pan to loosen all of the caramelized brown bits. Cook briefly until filling is slightly reduced and saucy, then remove from heat. Add salt and/or pepper to taste, then fold in tomatoes and transfer filling to an 8-inch square baking dish.

Cover dish loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and discard foil. Arrange polenta slices on top of filling (slight overlapping is fine) and brush slices with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Return cobbler to oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes, until filling is bubbling and polenta slices are golden (If a deeper golden crust is desired, you can broil the cobbler for the final few minutes). Remove from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

I am thrilled to be working with Field Roast as a "Cooks in the Field" recipe developer, but this post is NOT sponsored or commissioned in any way. In accordance with FTC guidelines, any and all sponsored content will be clearly disclosed as such.

May 22, 2014

Recipe: Edamame Jalapeno Soup

Moving across the country presents a number of challenges. One of the biggest (at least for cooks like myself) is realizing you have just a few weeks to use up your perishable food. The well-stocked refrigerator and freezer you've so carefully maintained suddenly go from wonderfully convenient to huge pain in the tuchus. I suppose you could just make peace with things and toss a bunch of food, but the wastefulness of that prospect just kills me.

Instead, I've been dutifully cooking my way through as much food as possible. It's kind of fun, really - like my very own game of Chopped. I imagine Ted Allen saying, "What can you make with frozen edamame, cashews, limes, and a bunch of slightly-shriveled jalapenos?". Well, Ted, I will be making a delicious pureed soup. And no, Scott, it will not involve raw red onions.

I was a little concerned that the firm texture of edamame (young green soybeans) wouldn't blend into a perfectly smooth soup, but a quick Google search turned up a number of examples proving otherwise. Heidi Swanson suggests straining this edamame soup, but I didn't find straining necessary with mine. Simmering the beans in the soup broth softened them nicely, and after that all it took was a couple minutes in my trusty KitchenAid blender to turn out a velvety-smooth soup.

Despite being a spur-of-the-moment recipe, this Edamame Jalapeno Soup is great. The edamame packs 16 grams of protein into each serving, making this an excellent high-protein vegan lunch or dinner. Removing the ribs and seeds from the jalapenos takes the heat level down to a gentle warmth and really lets the flavor of the pepper shine through. A handful of cashews adds richness, a dash of cumin lends a smoky note, and a bit of lime juice wakes up all the flavors. Move or no move, this recipe's a keeper.

Edamame Jalapeno Soup
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces jalapeno peppers (about 4 peppers)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound shelled edamame beans (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 quart vegetable broth (I used 4 cups water plus 2 teaspoons vegetable bouillon paste)
1 tablespoon lime juice

Cut the stems from the peppers, then slice peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds and ribs from the interiors. Finely chop the peppers.

In a large pot over medium heat, cook the peppers and onions in oil for 5-7 minutes until beginning to soften, then add the garlic and cumin and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the beans, cashews, and vegetable broth. Cover with lid and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until beans are very tender.

Transfer half of soup to blender and blend for 1-2 minutes until completely smooth (remember to remove the center portion of the lid and cover with a towel to allow steam from the hot soup to escape); transfer from blender. Blend remaining half of soup. Return blended soup to pot over low heat and add lime juice. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Serve with a dollop of vegan sour cream or plain yogurt if desired. Soup will keep in fridge for 1 week.

May 15, 2014

Recipe: Creamy Steel-Cut Oatmeal (Steel-Cut Oats Porridge)

Bodies handle stress differently. When I get stressed, I lose my appetite for healthy foods. This usually results in my falling back on a small number of "comfort foods" that are actually junk food (salty takeout, fatty pizza, all desserts ever) until my stress reduces and the desire for real food returns. As you might have guessed, planning a cross-country move and selling our house in a short number of weeks is making me mighty stressed.

In an attempt to keep my diet on track, I've been starting my mornings with a bowl of oatmeal. Not just any oatmeal, however. I've been making a veganized version of Megan Gordon's steel-cut oatmeal from her wonderful book, Whole Grain Mornings. Oatmeal has always been a breakfast workhorse, one of those unexciting-but-good-for-you dishes you eat because you should, not because you wake up craving it. But Megan's oatmeal is different. Megan's oatmeal is, dare I say it, crave-able.

Sautéing the uncooked oats in a bit of nondairy butter perfumes the oatmeal with a toasty aroma and amplifies the pleasant chew that steel-cut oats are known for. After toasting, the oats are simmered in a 3:1 mixture of water and nondairy milk seasoned with a touch of sugar, vanilla, and salt. What you end up with is perfectly cooked, luxuriously creamy oatmeal (or "porridge", as Megan calls it).

The consistency of this lovely oat porridge is risotto-like, with magical starch-infused "cream" lending an illusion of richness despite the recipe's scant amounts of butter and milk. I make a batch, pop it in the fridge after it's cooled, and reheat servings in the microwave for stress-free, nutrition-filled breakfasts all week long. A bowl of these creamy oats topped with a pile of fresh berries and a drizzle of maple syrup is just the thing to fuel me through a day of crazed, move-related shenanigans.

Creamy Steel-Cut Oatmeal (Steel-Cut Oats Porridge)
Adapted from Whole Grain Mornings (Megan shared a version of the recipe here)
Serves 4

1 tablespoon non-dairy butter or coconut oil
1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups water
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt*
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

*If using nondairy butter, add 1/4 teaspoon salt; if using coconut oil, add 1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring a good-sized saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Once butter is bubbling, add oats and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant (about 5 minutes).  Add water, milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla to the saucepan and increase heat to medium-high and partially cover the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until the oatmeal is creamy and oats have a tender bite. Be sure to stir oatmeal occasionally while simmering and keep an eye on the heat as the oatmeal has a tendency to boil over with little notice. Cool for a few minutes before serving as desired (with milk/maple syrup/fruit/nuts); oatmeal can also be refrigerated and then reheated in the microwave with a splash of milk to thin it if needed. 

May 14, 2014

We're moving!!!

Taking our first walk through Central Park

We're 5 months into 2014, and so far it's been a year full of curveballs, milestones, and chapter-endings. We took an amazing last-minute trip to India, I turned thirty, and my wonderful nanny job of 2+ years came to a close when the family relocated to California. The latest development? In two weeks, Daniel and I are moving to New York City.

Last month Daniel was offered a job opportunity he couldn't pass up, so we decided to throw caution to the wind, pick up our lives in Seattle, and move clear across the country. The last few weeks have been…. Well, "insane" is putting it lightly. We flew out to NYC and found an apartment in 48 hours, which, if you know anything about NYC real estate, is the very definition of insanity. But we did it! We found an adorable (read: tiny), sunny apartment on the Upper West Side. Soon I'll be sharing recipes that have been cooked in a kitchen approximately the size of a postage stamp. Hey, if Deb can do it, so can I.

Truth be told, I've wanted to live in New York City since I was a little kid. I don't know when that idea popped into my head, but somewhere along the way I became enamored with NYC.  It's not a unique goal, moving to this iconic American city in pursuit of your dreams. People have done it for generations, with varying degrees of success. And that whole dream-chasing thing? That's exactly what I plan on doing. Pursuing food writing as a career will be difficult, but I'm going all in.

My cynical self is side-eyeing the "follow your dreams" mantra of my wide-eyed youth, but I'm trying to quiet that voice. I've listened to it far too often over the past few years, to no great effect. It's time for me to cultivate the hopeful voice that's been drowned out; to resuscitate my confidence and positivity. So as we close the "Seattle" chapter of our lives, I'm choosing to close the "My life isn't what I'd like it to be" chapter as well.  Because, friends, that chapter was long and rambling and just WENT NOWHERE. What will the next chapter hold? I'm not entirely sure. But I hope you'll stick around for the ride. 

March 18, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

So, a funny thing happened over the weekend... I turned thirty. And, as "milestone" birthdays sometimes do, this particular birthday has spurred many moments of life evaluation, grieving, and general emotional despair. Let's just say the last month has been challenging, and move on to tastier and more uplifting subjects. Let's talk about cupcakes.

Is there anything more cheerful than a Funfetti cupcake? I don't think so. There's a reason Funfetti is the unofficial-official cake of birthdays - it's damn difficult to bum out about turning another year older when there's a rainbow of edible confetti bits in each and every bite of cupcake goodness. It's that inescapable cheerfulness that makes me return, year after year, to the loving, perky embrace of Funfetti cake. 

This year I abandoned my trusty box mix and made homemade Funfetti cupcakes. Why haven't I done this before? Old habits die hard, I suppose. But it turns out that making your own Funfetti cake is embarrassingly easy. Here's the breakdown:

1. Make your favorite vanilla cake batter.
2. Fold in a few tablespoons of multi-colored sprinkles.
3. Bake.

See? One little jar of sprinkles is all that stands between you and the happiest birthday cake in all the land. The vanilla cake recipe I used is adapted from the Golden Vanilla Cupcake recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. A couple tablespoons of coconut oil add a round richness and intense moisture to the cupcakes without making them taste "coconut-y" (we don't want to steal the sprinkles' thunder). The best sprinkles to use for Funfetti cake are "jimmies" - thin, elongated sprinkles - which melt easily into happy little rainbow dots once in the oven. My guess is you could try nonpareils or small shaped sprinkles (stars, discs, etc) as well, though I've not tested that theory myself - if you give another sprinkle variety a try, let me know how they worked in the comments!

Chocolate Stout & Funfetti Cupcakes (recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

Homemade Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes

For 100% vegan sprinkles, be sure to check the label for "confectioner's glaze", an animal by-product that many vegans avoid. Some stores (like Kroger/QFC) happen to have vegan sprinkles, but if your local store doesn't, you can find vegan sprinkles at an online vegan grocer like Pangea.

1 cup plain nondairy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil (2 heaping tablespoons coconut oil, melted, plus neutral oil to total 1/3 cup)*
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 heaping tablespoons vegan multi-colored sprinkles ("jimmies")

*To combine the oils: Melt 2 heaping tablespoons of coconut oil briefly in a microwave, then pour into a liquid measuring cup. Pour neutral oil (like sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, or rice bran) into the measuring cup until you have a total of 1/3 cup oil (you'll add about 3 tablespoons neural oil).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep a muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the milk and vinegar and set aside to sour. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined, then set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk together the oils, sugar, vanilla and soured milk until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until the batter is mostly lump-free. Add the sprinkles and stir briefly to incorporate.

Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake liners (they'll be about two-thirds of the way full) and place muffin tin in oven. Bake cupcakes for 20-22 minutes, until the center springs back when gently touched. Transfer cupcakes to a wire cooling rack, allowing them to cool completely before frosting and decorating.

February 27, 2014

Adventures in India

The past month has been a whirlwind, leaving little time for cooking, let alone blogging. But I'm back! Where have I been, you might ask?


Temple Dancer outside Jagdish Temple

Daniel and I were invited to attend our friend Janak's wedding in Ahmedabad, India. INDIA!!! Apologies for the all caps and multiple exclamation points, but this trip was worthy of both. I have always wanted to travel, and until now have not had much opportunity to do so. Between a tight budget and no paid time off, world travel has always seemed impossible. Daniel and I have worked hard over the last two years to improve our finances - paying off student loans in full, becoming homeowners, and prioritizing our saving accounts. All that hard work made this trip possible. For the first time, I got to fly halfway around the world and visit a country completely different from my own... and it was amazing.

Statue on the grounds of Fateh Garh Hotel

I think I said, "We're in India!" about a million times during our trip, trying to wrap my head around the fact that I was really there. We visited 600-year-old temples and mosques, explored crumbling, brightly painted neighborhoods, and marveled at the grandness of India's second-largest palace. We also saw more impoverished people, stray dogs, and skinny cows than I can count.

Stray dog in Ahmedabad's Old City

We spent the first 4 days in Ahmedabad, celebrating Janak's (amazeballs) wedding and sightseeing before driving 4 hours to Udaipur for more sightseeing (and some much needed R&R) for our final 3 days. Indians know how to throw a wedding, my friends.

Daniel, Janak, and Me before the Wedding

Janak's family was so gracious and helped us plan an incredible trip. Janak's brother-in-law Vishal took us to visit Gandhi Ashram, the 36-acre compound that served as Gandhi's home and headquarters from 1917-1930. I stood where Gandhi lived. That's an experience I'll never forget.

Gandhi's House at Gandhi Ashram

Statue of Gandhi at Gandhi Ashram

Janak's good friend Udbhav accompanied us on a guided tour of Ahmedabad's "Old City", where nondescript doors on crowded streets open to reveal stunning temples and mosques (a clever tactic to protect places of worship from the destruction of conquerors).

Exploring the streets of Ahmedabad's Old City

Jama Mosque in Ahmedabad's Old City (Can you believe this is hidden from the street?)
Ahmedabad is located in the state of Gujarat, which is almost entirely vegetarian (yea!). As such, the care of animals is seen as the responsibility of the people. Stray dogs and wandering cows are fed scraps, and chabutros (tree-like towers with food and water pans for birds) are found throughout the cityscape, built centuries ago when the city's growth replaced much of the area's tree life.

Cows and Dogs feeding on scraps
My favorite Chabutro (Bird Feeding Tower)
We only had a few days in Udaipur, but I am so glad we decided to visit (It's a city of lakes! And palaces! And palaces in the middle of lakes!). City Palace and Lake Pichola will take your breath away (do plan on spending quite a while at the palace - it is MASSIVE).

View from our Boat Tour of Lake Pichola (City Palace in back)

Vlad, Donna, Me, and Daniel in one of City Palace's many courtyards
We stayed in the most amazing hotel EVER, Fateh Garh, a modernized and restored palace (seriously, a palace). It was a total splurge (though Vishal secured us a fantastic deal) but the atmosphere, service, and meals were worth every rupee. I am still in shock that I got to stay somewhere so beautiful.

The View of Lake Pichola and City Palace from Fateh Garh's Pool

Enjoying dinner under the moonlight at Fateh Garh

Me and Daniel at Fateh Garh

I feel like I should have taken more pictures of the food, being a food blogger and all… but I was so focused on enjoying the food and the views that I rarely took out my camera at mealtime. That said, I came home with a TON of inspiration and some new favorite meals. I'm already starting to work on recipes and I can't wait to share with you all!

January 30, 2014

Vegan Super Bowl Recipes

Mini Burritos, Burger Bites, Fried Corn Frankfurters, and Vegan Queso Dip (Photo Credit: Field Roast)

Last Sunday Daniel and I spent the evening at a Championship Game Party hosted by David Lee, the founder of Field Roast Grain Meat Co. Despite not being a football fan, I ended up getting really into the game and had a fantastic time watching Seattle's very own Seahawks win a spot at the Super Bowl. I met some amazing people, including Makini Howell of Plum Bistro (one of my favorite vegan restaurants in Seattle) and Keith Tucker of Pursuit of a Green Planet (a documentary exploring the connection between the Hip Hop and 'Green' movements). I also ate a ton of delicious vegan "Game Day" food. Do you want the recipes? Of course you do.

Field Roast is rolling out four vegan "Game Day" recipes to celebrate the fact that their burgers and franks will be served at this year's Super Bowl. How amazing is it that high-quality vegan food will be available at the biggest game of the year? Such a huge step forward. You should absolutely check out the recipes, because they are solid - full of flavor, hearty, and easy to make ahead of time. If you're hosting a mixed group of vegans and meat-eaters for the big game, this is a great place to start. Here's a quick breakdown of the menu:

Vegan Queso with Smoked Tomato Crunch: By far the best vegan cheese dip I've ever had. Creamy, rich, and convincingly cheesy, with the perfect amount of spice. Highly recommend.

Mini Mexican Chipotle and Sweet Potato Burritos: These little guys were incredibly satisfying - the sweetness of the potatoes provides a great balance to the heat of the chipotle sausages. The crispy pan-fried exterior is GOLD.

Field Roast Burger Bites: These mini "burgers" are baked dumpling-style, with pre-made pizza dough enveloping a savory, mustard-spiked burger filling. I may have eaten a lot of these.

Corn Fried Frankfurters: A crunchy homemade vegan corndog. Need I say more?

I am thrilled to be working with Field Roast as a "Cooks in the Field" recipe developer, but this post is NOT sponsored or commissioned in any way. In accordance with FTC guidelines, any and all sponsored content will be clearly disclosed as such.

January 18, 2014

Recipe: Smoked Tomato Briks with Chermoula Sauce

Almost every culture has fried pastries of some kind - sweet, savory, or both - and Tunisia is no exception. Briks are a savory Tunisian treat of delicate pastry sheets enveloping any number of fillings - spiced potato, an egg and tuna combo, ground meat - and then fried until the exterior is crisp and golden. This recipe for vegan briks is a play on the ground meat version, which I created for Field Roast Grain Meat Co. as their "Urban Foodie" Recipe Developer (more about that here). 

Field Roast's Smoked Tomato Quarter Loaf makes a beautiful ground "meat" when pulsed in a food processor. Mix in traditional Tunisian ingredients - spicy harissa, bright lemon zest, and briny capers - and you've got a simple and flavorful filling for your vegan briks. Once the briks are filled, fried, and sprinkled with crunchy shards of coarse salt, you'll serve them alongside Chermoula, a traditional North African sauce bright with lemon, cilantro, and parsley. The combination of hot, crunchy fried pastries and the cool, vibrant sauce is phenomenal. 

Traditional briks use a special pastry sheet, called maslouqua or warka, which is very similar to wheat wonton and springroll wrappers. If you can locate the real stuff at a local Middle Eastern grocer, by all means do so! This recipe calls for wonton wrappers as I've found them to be widely carried in a well-stocked supermarket. Keep an eye on the ingredient list, as some wonton wrappers aren't vegan. I used the Twin Dragon brand of wonton wrappers, which were available at my local Safeway and QFC.

A quick word on frying at home: I'm generally not a huge fan (it can get messy; using a ton of oil can get pricey) but there's really no way to do a brik justice without some hot oil-y action. You can minimize the amount of oil needed by choosing a pot 8 to 10 inches wide - you'll be able to achieve the proper depth without a ton of oil. 

Smoked Tomato Briks with Chermoula Sauce
Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

6 ounces (half of one loaf) Field Roast Smoked Tomato Quarter Loaf, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon capers, well rinsed
1 teaspoon harissa
1 teaspoon finely-grated lemon zest
16-24 vegan wonton wrappers
water, for sealing the wontons
2-3 cups oil for frying, such as grapeseed or peanut
Coarse salt
Chermoula Sauce (recipe below)

In a food processor, pulse the Field Roast, capers, harissa, and lemon zest until the mixture has the texture of ground meat. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. Place your wonton wrappers on a plate covered by a slightly-moist paper towel and prepare a "landing" zone for the assembled briks with a large platter or sheet pan covered by slightly-moist paper towel.

To assemble each brik: Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling in the center of one wonton wrapper (a #40/medium cookie scoop is the perfect tool for this job). Moisten the edges of the wrapper (all four sides) before placing a second wonton on top on the first to create a ravioli-style pastry. Positioning the second wrapper works best if you match up all of the edges first, then lightly press down on the pastry's center to release any air trapped in the filling. After removing the air from the pastry, press all four edges to form a good seal, then transfer to the "landing zone" platter and cover with the moistened paper towel. Repeat this process until all of the filling is gone - you should end up with 8-12 briks.

To fry the briks: Lay a double-layer of paper towels over a cooling rack/sheet pan and set aside. In a large, high-sided pot, add enough oil to reach a depth of about 1 1/2 inches.  Place pot over medium to medium-high heat and bring oil up to 350 degrees - the easiest way to measure this is with a cooking thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, wait until the pot of oil is shimmering (but NOT smoking), then test the temperature of the oil by frying "test strips" of an extra wonton wrapper - a one-inch strip of wonton should fry up to a golden brown within 10-15 seconds.

Once the oil reaches 350 degrees, gently slide one brik into the pot, carefully spooning oil over any unsubmerged dough. Fry until the edges of the brik turn golden, then use tongs to turn over the brik and fry other side. Once brik is evenly golden brown and crisp, use tongs to carefully lift it from the oil, allowing excess oil to drain off before transferring to the cooling rack and sprinkling with coarse salt. Repeat this process, cooking one (or two, if your pot is roomy enough) brik at a time, until all the briks are fried. Serve immediately alongside Chermoula sauce.

 Chermoula Sauce

1 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
1/2 cup parsley leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons harissa
1/4 salt
1/4 cup olive oil

In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, harissa, and salt until herbs are very finely chopped. Add the olive oil and pulse until mixture forms a textured sauce (quite similar to a pesto). Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary, then transfer to a small bowl and set aside until ready to serve.

I am thrilled to be working with Field Roast as a "Cooks in the Field" recipe developer. Please note that my contract with Field Roast does not include any sponsored posts on Braisen Woman - all words and content of this post are my own. In accordance with FTC guidelines, any and all sponsored content will be clearly disclosed as such.

January 6, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Applesauce... made in your microwave!

Remember that time I picked an obscene amount of apples at the orchard? Well, over 2 months has passed and there are still 5 pounds of (past their prime) apples sitting in my fridge, desperately needing love. Upon returning home from Michigan after the holidays, I pulled the last of my Calville Blanc d'Hiver apples out of the fridge and made a batch of my favorite homemade applesauce. In my microwave. That's right. Microwave Applesauce. Or, as we affectionately call it, "Awesomesauce".

Cooking applesauce in a microwave takes a mere 10 minutes as opposed to the half hour you'd spend cooking it on the stovetop. I learned this method from Alton Brown, and haven't made traditional stovetop applesauce since (sorry, Grandma!). The hands-off microwave technique and an ingredient list of five always-have-them-around staples make whipping up a batch of homemade applesauce so easy, you'll wonder why you ever buy it pre-made.

The best apples for applesauce are sweet-tart, crisp apples with a lot of apple-y flavor - Golden Delicious is an easy-to-find option. You'll peel and core the apples, chop them into slices, and toss them into a large microwave-safe bowl with a bit of brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and water. After 10 minutes in the microwave, the apples will be soft, lightly sweet, and deeply spiced. A minute with a potato masher will transform them into a chunky homemade applesauce that puts store-bought applesauce to shame. 

Homemade Applesauce (aka "Awesomesauce")
makes 1 quart (4 cups)

2 1/2 pounds sweet-tart, crisp apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into eights
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large microwave safe container, add the apples, water, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and vanilla, tossing to coat the apples. Transfer to microwave and cover with a lid, plate, or splatter cover, leaving a gap for steam to escape. Microwave on high for 10 minutes. Remove from microwave and mash apples with a potato masher until you achieve a chunky applesauce texture. Cool completely before transferring to a storage container and storing in fridge.