Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Expert and The Elf--Week Three Havin' a BALL!!

No sooner had the digital ink dried on our blog of Sunday 2/8 than we were barreling into our commitment to stick to the menu we’d developed and make good on our pledge to minimize grocery store visits.

Sunday evening’s fare was determined to be the Tempeh Salad from Kittee Berns FABULOUS new Vegan Ethiopian cookbook with the great title TEFF LOVE. That salad was AMAZING!! We made a slight change when the Elf forgot to take the soup out of the freezer in time to thaw. So, we had grilled cheese sandwiches made with home-baked white wheat bread and Daiya Cheddar. I think it’d been a LONG TIME since we’d had a grilled cheese and it just hit the spot. PLUS…as Justin Wilson used to say “I’m here to tole you” that TEMPEH Salad was the BOMB (even though I left out one of the primary ingredients!) You can find Kittee Berns on FaceBook under Cake Maker to the Stars!

Monday evening, we had a bit of drama when it dawned on me that we MIGHT NOT have enough fresh cilantro to make that second batch of Tempeh Salad. However, as it turned out, we barely eked out the ¾ cup that was called for and we breathed a big Elfin sigh of relief. We also made a SLIGHT adjustment to the menu of cabbage, sausage and potatoes since Big Solid had a sausage for breakfast. (When we refer to sausage, we are talking the plant-based sausages developed by Chef Skye Michael in his excellent cookbook The Gentle Chef.) And, I’d seen this really cool recipe online for a nut/fat free cheese sauce that looked really good. So, I made the sauce and it’s not bad. I must admit that I did add some olive oil and a bit more salt for flavor but not a substantial amount by any means (1 Tablespoon of EVOO to about 3 cups of sauce and ½ teaspoon of salt). Made all the difference in the world. If you are on a fat/nut restricted diet, of course you would not want to do that. So, we wound up with the Tempeh Salad, sautéed cabbage, baked potato topped with sautéed Chickun Shreds and the No Cheese Sauce. A damn fine meal, said Big
Tempeh Salad from TEFF LOVE
Sauteed Cabbage
Baked potato with chickun shreds and no 'cheese' sauce
Tuesday evening, we had a FFVK recipe that sounded so good called Spicy Collards and Black-eyed Pea soup. It was a definite keeper and we LOVED it! We even made some vegan cornsticks to go along with the soup and those turned out quite nicely as well. 
You know, one of the cool things about Susan’s recipes is that she gives you the space within the recipe to add/lessen seasonings. We like our food very spicy so we found ourselves tasting and adding as we went along. We added extra cayenne to the soup and then added a tablespoon of liquid smoke.  It worked perfectly for us…not everyone likes their food highly seasoned so it’s nice to be able to adjust for our own tastes. And, as Susan mentions, the flavors of a soup like this marry over time and the second day for lunch, it was even better.
Spicy Collards and Black-eyed Pea Soup with Vegan cornsticks
Wednesday is our DAY for The Expert and The Elf’s FFVK elf-fort and this week we selected Chickpea and Broccoli Bowl with Tahini Sauce. Well, I can tell you that Susan’s picture LOOKS a whole LOT better than ours (we cooked the broccoli a wee bit too long, so it was not really a great green) and for some reason our Tahini Sauce never thickened up, even with the addition of the chia seeds. We used brown rice as our base as Big Solid is not a big fan of quinoa (or rice either, for that matter). In an effort to assist Big Solid’s thinking that he was getting a bigger meal than the original picture indicates, I served it in a much larger bowl (and increased the portion size). The result is that the food looks pretty lost and you can’t really see the sauce. The taste of the sauce was quite nice and it will be used again. However, this recipe will go down as an ok but probably not again for us. But, that’s the whole part of doing this…finding those recipes that we adore and will eat over and over. Like Woody Allen said in “Annie Hall”, ‘if you’re going to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs’. 
Chickpea and Broccoli Bowl with Tahini Sauce
For the coming week's Wednesday recipe from The Expert, we have selected The Puy Lentil and Portabello Stew . We both LOVE lentils and Portabellos, so this was a no-brainer.  The rest of the week looks like this:

Sunday 2/15 (tonight) We will have a Mediterranean Tofu Scramble with olives, mushrooms, onion, grilled miniature peppers and whatever else we can think of to throw in. We will also have fresh pumpernickel bread and Tempeh Salad.

Monday 2/16 Big Solid LOVES the 10 Spice Soup that we fix in a HUGE batch and freeze. So, we are having that and grilled Daiya cheese sandwiches.  Last week, as we were  working on various new menu dishes, he asked "Are we going to have something new every night?" I think he likes a little less variety and some of the same tried and true dishes, so we'll go with that this week.

Tuesday 2/17 (Mardi Gras!!) Gonna go back to the baked potato, chickun shreds, broccoli and no cheese cheese sauce that was so popular last week. No one ever said we weren't consistent.

Wednesday 2/18 (Ash Wednesday) The FatFree Vegan Kitchen's Puy Lentil and Portabello Stew

Thursday 2/19 -- 'Burger night"

Friday is Date Night

Saturday is also a night out.

My Vegetarian Times came this week with some really good vegan recipes that I want to try the week of 2/22, so get ready. AND, a dear friend of The Elf gave her a gift certificate at a great gourmet kitchen store here in Jackson MS (The Everyday Gourmet). I got a couple of great gadgets there this week that will be most fun to try--a bread scoring knife and a spiralizer for making zucchini noodles. 
My new gadgets...compliments of Gigi Carter and Everyday Gourmet
And last, we made up a double batch of vegan biscuits to freeze and have ready for breakfast on some of these chillier mornings. We made some of The Gentle Chef's Maple Breakfast Sausage that can be sliced so we can have 'sausage biscuits'.
Bag O'Biscuits
So there you have our third thrilling week of The Expert and the Elf, along with some other equally fascinating and entertaining stuffs. We'll see you next Sunday with Week Four, so in the meantime, enjoy FatFree Vegan Kitchen for yourownself.  So with that, we will sign off and say "y’all, breathe deep, eat plants and love life".

The Elf

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