Potato-Asparagus Soup

Another long-awaited asparagus recipe. Luckily we had a wonderful homemade veggie broth sitting around in the freezer waiting for this kind of opportunity. Then it was just a matter of cooking everything together and blending.

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I didn’t actually taste this one because I find the weather to be too hot for soup, but Daniel ate it without any complaint, and he recommends it. This is the last soup recipe, which means we’re done with our second section of the book (the first one was “sides”). Starting to close in on this!

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Green Goddess Garlic Pizza

This is probably the most involved recipe in the book. There are actually 3 recipes to make before assembling the pizzas: the dough, the pesto and the Green Garden Puree. Leave this one for a free Sunday afternoon.

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Was all the work worth it? Yes! The pizza was delicious, and we had no trouble finishing the Pesto and Green Puree leftovers (mind you, that’s after eating one pizza and freezing one) over the following days. I had originally thought we would have to freeze the puree, but we ate it on sandwiches, or just as is, as part of a lunch bowl. It tastes so fresh, it’s perfect for summer lunches.

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This time I opted to using the pizza dough from Peter Reinhart’s excellent book “Artisan Breads Every Day”. I’m not sure if it was the recipe or improved technique, but our thin-crusted dough came out much better than last time.

We almost always eat classic Neapolitan pizzas, so this was a nice way to shake things up. There’s one more pizza recipe in the book – the Potato and Tempeh Sausage pizza, so we’ll get to try some more pizza variety there.

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Bottom line: Excellent pizza! 10/10 would recommend (but not on a weeknight).

Sesame Asparagus

Brace yourself, asparagus recipes are coming.

Vegan with a Vengeance has four recipes in total that contain asparagus as an ingredient. Israel, on the other hand, has a very (very) short supply of asparagus. When asparagus season came, I prepared myself for the high cost and went to the supermarket in search of some. I found none. This went on about twice a week for a few weeks, until finally I admitted defeat on that front and accepted the fact that regular supermarkets around here are not going to stock asparagus. This led to some fishing around the internet, which pointed me to a specialty shop in the market that sells “exotic” fruits and vegetables. Apparently asparagus is exotic *sigh*.

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Exotic asparagus

Amazingly I’ve managed to find this shop that is hidden in an alley of the market I’ve never seen before, and they had asparagus! I paid through the nose (20$ for 2 bunches!) but actually thanked them because how would I have made these four recipes without asparagus?…

All’s well that ends well. By carefully rationing the asparagus, all four recipes were made and enjoyed. I’ll report them here, and then go back to my asparagus-less life.

This dish is simple but so good! The sesame oil and soy sauce provide a great depth of flavor, and I enjoyed it simply accompanied by a bowl of Japanese white rice. I skipped the sesame seeds (thought I had some but they weren’t good) and it still came out fabulous.

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This recipe concludes the “Sides” section of the book, which is the first section I completed. Exciting!

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Eggplant and Artichoke alla Napoletana

Most of the recipes in Vegan with a Vengeance are really simple and can be thrown together in less than 30 minutes. Still, I do enjoy the occasional challenge, and this dish was so much fun to make that when we were done with it, the first thing I said was “OMG this is delicious!” and the second was “buuut I’m never making this again”.

Maybe that was a little rash of me… In my mind, breading and frying is way too much work for weeknight dinners. However, I will consider making this again for an Italian dinner party (if guests are bringing the salad and I already have the pasta sauce ready haha).

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Most of the work is frying the eggplant. The filling itself is simple but tastes great, and would probably pair well with good Italian or French bread. For the eggplant, make sure you have more than the recipe calls for, because fried eggplant slices have been known to disappear from the cooling rack.

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I recommend trying this recipe even just once, because it tastes wonderful and it’s always useful to have your bread-and-fry technique down.

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Sautéed Green Beans with Mushrooms

Another easy side. The farmer from whom we buy a weekly box of veggies and fruits doesn’t grow green beans or mushrooms, so that’s why it took this long to make this dish. It was a treat because I like them both ingredients, we just never bother to make a special trip to the market for the green beans, and I’m way too cheap and environmentally-conscious to buy the tiny packaged green beans in the supermarket.

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The wine really added a nice touch here. I would not have thought of using it, but the mushrooms got this distinct, deep flavor because of it, and the whole thing turned out really well.

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Banana Split Pudding Brownies

I love brownies. It’s like cake but with all the good bits enhanced – more chocolaty, more gooey, mote intensely sweet. Just better all around.

We don’t usually make brownies because Daniel’s Dad’s wife (modern families are complicated…) makes them for us when we visit, so we get our monthly-or-so fix. She used to cook a lot of new things for us back when Daniel lived at home, but at some point a few years ago she settled on just a handful of favorites. Can’t complain really, because the few dishes that survived the cut are definitely tasty – chana masala, pesto pasta, quinoa stir-fry, peanut butter tofu balls and brownies, mostly. They’re all good.

Anyway. we made these brownies with my little sister when visiting my dad. We came about half an hour earlier than all the other family members, and finished in time for lunch. It’s really a cinch to make, and all the ingredients are easily available (we always replace arrowroot with the much-easier-to-find cornstarch).

They turned out delicious. My only comment is do not try to eat them an hour before Kendo practice, because “just a small piece” will quickly turn into “3 large pieces, and let me just straighten this corner out” which will then become “I’m never eating again!” when you sluggishly try to move away from someone hitting you on the head with a stick.

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Pumpkin Waffles

This was our second waffle recipe, after the excellent Oatmeal-Banana-Raisin Waffles we’d made a few weeks ago. It’s also the last pumpkin recipe to use the homemade pumpkin* puree I’ve made almost a year ago and has been waiting patiently in the freezer since then.

It did not disappoint. Pumpkin baked goods are really growing on me. The spices make it feel warm and comforting and you don’t really remember there’s pumpkin somewhere in there.

Since squashes keep making their way to our kitchen somehow, and we “borrowed” Daniel’s family’s waffle-maker (we’re still contemplating if we want to give it back or not), I’ve adjusted the original recipe to fit our weekdays better – I omitted the sugar completely and replaced half of the AP flour with whole wheat flour. Waffles are now a legit dinner/snack haha.

Waffles for the win!

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* Actually, it was butternut squash puree since we get a lot more of those from out local farmer than we do pumpkins.

Strawberry Shortcakes

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

Having never eaten shortcakes before, I had no idea what this recipe was about. But strawberry season was about to end and I happened to be in the market so I grabbed a bunch (or two or three…) to make sure I have enough for the strawberry recipes in the book (and then some leftovers to freeze for delicious fruit blender-ice-creams).

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Strawberry sauce

It looks like an innocent recipe. The scones are really straight-forward to bake, and for the strawberries you only have to mix them with sugar and let them rest. We couldn’t find macadamia nuts so we made our usual homemade Nutella recipe with hazelnuts sans the cocoa powder.

Something magical happens when you combine these things to build the shortcakes. The textures work amazingly well together and the strawberry-hazelnut combination is superb. Words can’t describe this well enough, you have to try it yourself!

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Scones

After two bites I told Daniel that we must bring this to the birthday dinner we were having for Daniel’s dad and his wife that weekend. The dinner had a Thai theme but I didn’t care, I simply had to let them taste this dessert. We subsequently froze the scones for a few days so they wouldn’t dry out (but kept the Nutella and strawberries in the fridge) and they were as perfect the second time as the first.

Strawberry season has since passed and we’re squarely in cherry season now, but this recipe will surely be revisited next year.

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A rather tall shortcake

Balsamic-Glazed Portobello Mushrooms

Another easy one. After the midway point there aren’t many easy recipes, but I couldn’t make this one earlier because I stubbornly insisted on not buying balsamic vinegar with added sugar. So it took a few months for me to stumble on an actual bottle of balsamic vinegar, instead of regular-vinegar-with-caramel-and-other-stuff-to-color-it. The portobello mushrooms were, in contrast to the vinegar, very easy to procure.

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Portobello mushrooms are delicious, and I highly recommend them. This recipe did not disappoint, and served as a great side for dinner.

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Isa Pizza

This recipe is another one I’ve made from the book way before starting this blog. It was a few years after I’d become vegan, and after meeting some other cool vegans at school and work, I decided a pizza night was in order. Vegan cheeses were not yet available around here, so Isa’s pesto and tofu-ricotta toppings were perfect for the occasion. It was a very successful (and filling) night and we ended up having another one a year later.

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These days Daniel and I have pizza every Thursday night, with a homemade 100% whole-wheat crust and the mozzarella from Miyoko Schinner’s “Homemade Vegan Pantry” (I love that book!).

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It was fun coming back to an old favorite. Alas, apparently I’m not used to working with AP flour-based pizza crusts so it came out a little too thick. It was tasty nonetheless, and made enough for two pizza nights (we froze one of the pizzas for the following Thursday).

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