Tag Archives: moskowitz

Where’s the beet?

9 Feb

Right here, baby! Oh, my goodness, I’m in heaven. I spent much of 2010 tasting veggie burger recipes and creating my own veggie burger recipes…in search of the perfect one. I have finally found it. This is so incredible, I wish I could take full credit for it, but I can’t. This recipe comes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, well-known vegan chef, cookbook author, and my new best friend – although she doesn’t know that!

If you’ve tried the store-bought veggie burgers, you’ve experienced that overly-compressed, flavorless disc whose only purpose is to fill your belly when you’re on the run and Burger King is the only restaurant in sight. Don’t buy those anymore, unless you are traveling and the only food in sight is BK! Make a bunch of these and store them in your freezer for future quick meals.

If you’ve experimented with homemade veggie burger recipes, you’ve enjoyed really good tasting “burgers” more comparable to a crab cake or potato pancake. Though I’ve enjoyed many black bean burgers, chickpea burgers and vegetable-based burgers, nothing compares to this one. Nothing.

It is dense, but not compacted. It has bite. It has flavor. It is not a colorless blob (quite the opposite, actually). And it takes the standard burger toppings as well as any beef burger you’ve tried before. Is it exactly like a beef burger? No. Does it beat the pants off of any veggie burger in existence? Absolutely.

Besides being mouth-wateringly good (is that even a word?!), these were a cinch to put together. The night before we had these, I made teriyaki stir fry for dinner. Since I had to cook rice for that, I cooked extra and put it in the fridge overnight. And since I already had the stove going, I went ahead a threw another pan on and cooked the lentils for this burger recipe. I put those in the fridge overnight, too. To assemble these burgers, it’s a matter of shredding a large beet with the food processor then throwing the rest of the stuff in and pulsing until well-combined. Easy breezy.

I prepared the recipe as written here, but made a few minor changes. And I mean minor. I really think Worcestershire sauce gives foods that “meaty” taste, so I added 1 teaspoon to the recipe. Next time I make them, I may bump it to 1-1/2 teaspoons. I mixed it all up as she explains, but I could not get them to stick together. I don’t know if my rice and lentils were a little drier than hers because I made them in advance, or what, but I mixed in 2 tablespoons of Veganaise and it came together perfectly. From the recipe, I made six burgers, each about 4 ounces. After I made all the patties, I sprinkled McCormick’s Reduced Sodium Grill Seasoning on them. That’s it for changes.

Isa cooks hers in a pan on the stove, but I grilled mine. Jason and the kids were all having beef burgers (from the locally-raised, pastured cow we bought last fall), so I decided to grill the veggie burger. I cooked one for me and an extra one for them to taste. (The other four were wrapped separately then put in a freezer bag in the freezer, uncooked.) Before grilling, I brushed both sides of the burgers with a little canola oil. I wasn’t sure if they would stick to the grill grates, so I used my Weber grill pan that I normally use for vegetables. It worked perfectly. They came out nicely browned on the outside. I melted a slice of vegan cheese on it, slid it onto a whole wheat bun, then piled it with all the usual burger toppings – mayo, catsup, mustard, onion, pickles, lettuce and tomato.

One bite and I was smiling. Oh, man. Fantastic.

Madison and Jason liked it (Jason ended up eating half of the extra burger after his beef burger). Logan is sick so he didn’t even eat dinner last night. Brady didn’t try it because of the color. He thought it looked like raspberries! I will admit, before you cook them, the color looks very much like raw beef. After you cook them, the color is only slightly darker. The outside gets a nice brown “crust” but the inside stays dark red. I mentioned this to my mom this morning and she had a brilliant solution – use yellow beets instead of the usual red. I’m adding yellow beets to the seed list for this year’s garden!

Here are some photos of the world’s best veggie burger. Thank you, Isa!

The mixture heading into the fridge.

My 2 beet burgers ready for the grill with the family’s 4 beef burgers.

The wonderful, piled high burger I savored through dinner!

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The new year is underway

7 Jan

…and so is my new plan.

What is the new plan? For starters, losing weight has been moved to the top of the list — above the trial and error efforts I’ve been working on for controlling my high blood pressure. I can’t help but think this might be the one thing keeping me from reaching my blood pressure goals. For the past week, I’ve really focused on what I’m eating and how much. And I’ve exercised for 30 minutes, four of the last five days. So far, so good. I can’t wait to weigh in tomorrow and see how I’ve done this week.

I’ve also been doing some reading. I have loved cooking vegan recipes. I’ve tried so many new foods and learned new ways to cook just about every vegetable and grain. Last weekend, I purchased “Appetite for Reduction,” the newest book by one of the top vegan cookbook authors ever — Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I’ve read her most popular cookbook, “Veganomicon,” and I often cook from my favorite of hers, “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.” Unfortunately, many vegan sweet treats are still high in calories and fat, so it’s time to move away from the baking for a while.

Lucky for me, Isa feels the same way. That’s why she wrote this new cookbook. It’s packed with low fat, low calorie vegan recipes. As she writes in the intro, this is not your mother’s low fat cookbook. This does not contain any fake stuff. It’s straight up, healthy cooking with grains, veggies and beans. The first recipe I made is the first recipe in her book — “Everyday Chickpea-Quinoa Salad.” I’ve only cooked quinoa once in my life and didn’t care for it. This recipe was fantastic! She said she eats this almost every day and I can see why. It’s filling, crunchy and tasty. As a matter of fact, it’s so tasty that my kids couldn’t get enough! Even my salad-hating 6-year-old went back for seconds and the other two said it was their new favorite. The dressing is to die for. We’ve already made the dressing twice and we’ve drizzled it on all kinds of stuff — even noodles. And, it’s adaptable. Start with her basic recipe but change out the quinoa for cooked rice or substitute spinach for the Romaine. I added shredded carrots to mine, but next time I’ll also add tomatoes and cucumbers. I can’t wait to whip up more of her recipes.

The other thing I read this week was an article in the January issue of Bon Appetit magazine. It was written by Mark Bittman, cookbook author and the author of “Food Matters.” It totally hit the nail on the head for me. It was exactly what I had been trying to figure out for my diet and it made total sense. He writes:

“…I decided to experiment on myself by creating a series of rules that I hoped would not only improve my health but also lead to a new, more sustainable American diet that would feature the sensibility, wisdom, and benefits of veganism and the pleasures of the omnivore way of cooking and eating.”

I love the benefits I’ve received from eating a vegan diet for the last year. And I truly have enjoyed the foods. I also 100% embrace the idea of sustainable eating and the belief that all animals should be treated compassionately, even if they are being raised for food. (I do NOT support factory farming and do not purchase meat products or eggs from my grocery store.)

Bittman explains that this philosophy is often called Flexitarian, though it is very much like the Mediterranean way of eating. He writes:

“I created a personal diet, one that was flexible enough to allow me to enjoy all of the food I love daily (and which could be adapted by others to fit their own schedules), yet one that was strict enough to really have an impact.”

He basically eats a vegan diet, with the occasional piece of meat.

This makes so much sense to me. Now, I know there will be vegans who will desert me because of this. But, honestly, the biggest struggle of my vegan year was what to do when eating somewhere other than home. It stressed me out beyond belief. I grew up in a family where meals were shared with loved ones. Great care was taken to make the meal and it was meant to be enjoyable. Let me ask you this — how enjoyable is it to go to a restaurant and have to nit-pick your way through the menu, requesting multiple changes, and ending up eating steamed broccoli (no butter), rice or noodles (no cheese or butter) and a roll (praying it wasn’t made with egg)? Trust me, there’s nothing enjoyable about it. I spent more time stressing over what to order than any person should have to, only to end up eating a pile of plain vegetables when everyone else was enjoying something they truly wanted.

And — even more stressful? Eating at someone else’s house. We get together regularly with my in-laws for Sunday dinner and games. I have to say my mother-in-law did a great job of making sure I had something to eat that was vegan, but it was often what everyone else was having but without the butter, cheese, dressing, or anything else that would have made it a wonderful dish. Most of the time I took something that I had made, or threw a veg burger into my purse so I could guarantee myself a protein. Totally stressful and completely goes against my philosophy that meals should please your senses, satisfy you, and be an enjoyable event shared with friends and family.

So Mark Bittman’s words really hit home for me. And I am giving his philosophy a try.

Right now, about 90% of my meals are vegan. I’ve had seafood on a couple of occasions, and I’m still eating eggs which I added back to my diet last fall. I also enjoyed some of my dad’s homemade chicken sausage on Christmas morning. I hadn’t had it in a year and I really missed it! I made his Michigan Dried Cherry and Toasted Almond Chicken Sausage with sustainably-raised (aka happy) chicken. It was so good and I didn’t feel guilty about eating it!

I haven’t added any dairy products back in and I don’t think I will. I know I will never drink cow’s milk again. There are so many better, healthier options out there. I wouldn’t mind eating a bite of blue cheese or feta once in a while, but I don’t have a local, sustainable-farmed source for it. So, no cheese for now (unless I’m at someone else’s house and it’s already on the salad).

So there you go. Lots of vegan meals, a small portion of ethically-raised meat once in a great while, and a lot more exercise than last year. I’m excited to see where this leads me. I’m hoping the combination of a re-vamped diet, less stress about eating, and more enjoyment when dining with family and friends will be just the thing that gets both my weight and my BP back to normal.

Even if you have no desire to go veg — please consider reducing the amount of animal products you eat. And look for a local source for your meat and eggs. Not only does that support your local farmer, the products are fresher and taste so much better.

OMG – Margarita Cupcakes?!

8 Mar

No, I’m not kidding. Yes, they have tequila in them.

I have a new favorite cookbook: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. If you haven’t seen it before, you must check it out. It has 75 recipes for fabulous cupcakes and none of them contain eggs or dairy products. I borrowed this book from the library and about 15 recipes into it, I went online and ordered the book from Barnes & Noble. These are not your typical kids birthday party cupcakes, although you could definitely make them for that purpose.

How about Chocolate Cherry Creme Cupcakes, S’mores Cupcakes, Elvis Style Banana Split Cupcakes, or Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes? And there’s no way I’m passing up the Toasted Coconut Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting, Chai Latte Cupcakes, Tiramisu Cupcakes or Mucho Margarita Cupcakes.

I honestly did not think it was possible to make a moist, fluffy cupcake without eggs. But it is. Yesterday I baked the Cookies & Cream cupcakes and took them for dessert at my in-laws. They were a huge hit. Super moist, rich and so satisfying. I made them exactly as listed except I used So Delicious Coconut Milk in place of the soy milk. (So Delicious Coconut Milk is now available in Kroger’s health food section where the refrigerated soy milk is.) I used the Newman-O’s dairy free chocolate sandwich cookies as it says in the recipe, also available at my local Kroger store.

Vegan Cookies-n-Cream Cupcakes
recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
makes 1 dozen cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1 cup soy, coconut or almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 Newman-O’s chocolate sandwich cookies, finely crumbled

Whisk together the “milk” and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin cups with foil liners.

To the milk mixture, add the sugar, oil and vanilla and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to wet ingredients while blending. Stir in cookie crumbs. Beat until no large lumps remain. Pour into liners, filling 3/4 full. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely.

Frosting:
1/2 cup vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1-3/4 cups powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons soy, coconut or almond milk
5 Newman-O’s chocolate sandwich cookies, finely crumbled

Beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and “milk” and beat for 5-7 more minutes until light and fluffy. Stir in crumbled cookies.

Spread generously onto the cupcakes and top each with half of a sandwich cookie. Enjoy!

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