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July COTM (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone): BEANS PLAIN and FANCY, GRAINS & THE SOY PANTRY

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  1. Malaysian-Inspired Tofu Curry (p.602)

    This dish was dead simple to make. Take 2 cans of coconut milk, some brown sugar, coriander, curry powder, tumeric, cayenne, salt, chopped ginger and garlic and tamarind paste and boil for a minute, add tofu cubes and simmeer for 10, then add chopped tomato and scallion for another 10 more, finish with lime juice and garnish with cilantro. For me, this was tasting wonderful until the addition of the tomatoes. Somehow they added a jarring note, although they may well be what makes this "malaysian-inspired" - I really don't know and would love to hear from people more experienced with Malaysian food. Served it over rice. Still good - definitely a B, but that tomato was a problem for me, having tasted and loved the sauce before I added it. My husband said "the tofu itself doesn't add much, but the sauce has so much flavor it doesn't really matter" Oh, and I'd say I probably doubled the cayenne (at least) - we like things spicy.

    12 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      That's interesting. I was going to make a different tofu recipe from the book this weekend but I have most of the ingredients for that one too, including tamarind. (I've had it for ages. I assume it keeps well.)

      1. re: NYCkaren

        I'd had mine around (tamarind, that is) unopened for a year. It seems very much like it will keep for a looong time, but this is my first time using the stuff.

      2. re: LulusMom

        I just had the leftovers for lunch; I have to say, pretty delicious, although definitely the next time I make it I will go *very* lightly with the tomatoes.

        1. re: LulusMom

          I made this last night and really liked it. I also didn't have a problem with the tomatoes, but it didn't really add anything either. I used two round ones v. 4 plums.

          Next time though, I would add more cayenne (I'm always generous with cayenne) but thought that this could have used more heat. Maybe a sliced hot pepper? Also, there was a lot of sauce and not enough tofu. I would also probably double the tofu in it. Oddly enough, the tofu didn't pick up the flavor of the curry the way I thought it would. After simmering for 20+ minutes, I thought the tofu would be infused with spices, but it wasn't. The broth was a bit thinner than I thought it would be as well.

          I agree with the poster that this curry would be good with meat or seafood as well.

          Pet peeve - I *think* the recipe said to use a medium pan. I needed to put the tomatoes and scallions in a large skillet and then pour the tofu/curry/sauce into it because my medium pan was too small.

          Pictures are on the home computer. Will post tonight or tomorrow night as well as other recipes that I've tried.

          1. re: beetlebug

            Here are the pictures. See how sauce sauce to tofu ratio in the skillet? I would add another box of tofu or other veggies to even it out.

             
             
            1. re: beetlebug

              I must say that your picture of the plate of food looks yummy. Can I invite myself over for dinner?

              1. re: beetlebug

                I am not a vegetarian, but this certainly looks like it would be so satisfying. Nicely done!

            2. re: LulusMom

              Made the Malaysian-inspired Tofu Curry again recently. Only put in one tomato, and added some baby bok choy. Delightful, although this time, weirdly enough, I sort of missed the tomato. I'm obviously a little crazy.

               
              1. re: LulusMom

                Yes, for the safety and well-being of us all, you should be immediately sent away to the loonie bin!

                PS: I love your posts so I figure I'll go with you.

                1. re: oakjoan

                  I figure we'll eat well!

                2. re: LulusMom

                  I have only one question. Why?

                  I too look forward to your posts... but this is beyond the pale... whatever that means. LOLOL

                  1. re: Gio

                    I'm asking myself the very same thing ... why did I miss those blasted tomatoes that had irritated me the first time? I did note when I looked back at this post that I'd enjoyed the leftovers. Live and learn.

              2. Spicy chickpea puree, p. 99.
                I assume this goes in this thread. It's under "Bean dips and spreads." It's a nice change from hummus. Basically hummus without the tahini and with some different spices. She says to use 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne. I used 1/4, and if I make it again I'll cut down on the cayenne so I'll be able to taste the other spices more.

                4 Replies
                1. re: NYCkaren

                  LulusMom got me curious about the Malaysian-Inspired Tofu Curry (p.602). I mainly wanted an excuse to use my long-forgotten tamarind. Yum! I absolutely love the combination of flavors in this recipe. No problem with the tomato either.

                  1. re: NYCkaren

                    I do wonder if it is just me with the tomato ...

                    Isn't it an easy recipe though?

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      Yes and if you wanted to veer away from vegetarianism I bet the same sauce would be good with cubes of chicken or fish.

                      1. re: NYCkaren

                        No question. A mix of scallops and shrimp would be incredible.

                2. Green Lentils and Spinach with Hard-Cooked Eggs and Toast (p.302)

                  I've been wanting to make some lentils for my baby daughter, and this seemed like a recipe that we could enjoy together with her. As it turns out, our daughter really likes it (we puree and freeze little cubes, which we then defrost and serve to her at mealtimes) -- which is great since it is quite nutritious. My wife and I thought that it was a decent enough dish, but not spectacular.

                  The dish consists of a few different parts that come together at the end: 1. boiled lentils (I added diced carrots) 2. sauteed onions 3. lightly sauteed spinach with garlic 4. hard boiled eggs and 5. toasted bread. The sauteed onions and spinach went well with the lentils; the contrast in texture and flavor between the stewed lentils, garlicky spinach, and slightly caramelized onions was quite nice. The eggs and toasted bread didn't add anything to the dish, in terms of flavor or balance.

                  For non-vegetarians, the addition of bacon would make the dish much more satisfying, and I think the lentils-onions-spinach (I probably wouldn't bother with eggs or toast) would be great with pan-fried pork chops. Photo attached.

                   
                  2 Replies
                  1. re: iandoh

                    Well that looks good!
                    Can you make an omelete with your dish by placing your spinach-lentil-onions inside the wrapped egg? Well what I'm thinking anyway, is what a great breakfast! Love carmelized onions, they are great addition to most anything!

                    1. re: chef chicklet

                      That's a fantastic idea, this would go great in an omelet. Much better than the hard boiled eggs, I bet!

                  2. Chickpeas and Greens with Moroccan Spices (p. 309)

                    Tasty, healthy, flavorful meatless main dish. I did encounter several "issues" making the dish, not all related to the recipe! First, my changes: I used spinach instead of chard (that's what the market had), I used a can of Muir Glen diced tomatoes because the farmer's market doesn't have tomatoes yet, I omitted the preserved lemon, I used a mix of red and green bell pepper (recipe doesn't specify), and I used the two cans of chickpeas instead of cooking from scratch.

                    Madison instructs us to remove the skins from the chickpeas. Admittedly more authentic, I did find this to be a pain in the patookus. When I make this again (and I will), I will omit this step. To me , it was unnecessary. Plus, the skins are a valuable source of fiber and when I eat a meal like this, health, not just taste, is a concern of mine.

                    Make the garlic paste: I only have a small marble spice grinder and I was trying to make a paste using 6 big garlic cloves. Needless to say, I was constantly picking up bits of garlic. Next time I'll make the paste in two batches. If you have a reasonably sized mortar and pestle, making the paste should not present a problem.

                    The spinach set off the flavorful chickpeas quite nicely. I am looking forward to having some of this for lunch! Madison does say that it is even better the next day, so lunch should be pretty tasty. I might cook up some whole-wheat pasta and serve the chickpeas over them.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: nofunlatte

                      Chickpeas and chard/spinach are such a wonderful combination.

                      And can I say how much I love the word "patookus", which I've never heard before. I'm assuming it's a polite way of referring to one's behind. I am going to use it whenever possible/appropriate!

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        I don't know where I got the word from, but it is a cute substitute for a$$.

                        And the chickpeas were even better today!

                        1. re: nofunlatte

                          Is that from Col. Potter on MASH?

                          1. re: nofunlatte

                            Sounds like a derivative of the Yiddish word, "tookas" (usually spelled "tuchas" or "tuchus").

                            Yiddish is, of course, a very rich source of words about food and eating. So there's my food content -- don't delete me, Chowhound moderators!!!

                            1. re: jlafler

                              Yep...my Jewish brother in law used to say "pain in the tookas" all the time...I believe that's where Nofunlatte got the word from...a malaprop ("patookas", perhaps a combiniation of 'patootey' and 'tookas'?) but we get it. And, yes, removing the skins from chickpeas is a huge pain...I have a co-worker whose husband has had a severe form of colitis and had to have surgery...he cannot eat any fiber so when she makes hummus, she diligently removes those skins....I've done it a few times and I think it makes the hummus smoother but for most of us who can and should eat that fiber, it's a tedious task.

                        2. re: nofunlatte

                          I received the book yesterday in the post; got a cheap copy on Amazon UK, and since I had everything but the greens in the house, I decided to try this one. I followed the recipe pretty closely, but I used plain "greens" from Sainsbury's (no chard around). I also used canned tomatoes, and I omitted the bell peppers because I don't eat those. Also, I thought briefly about skinning the chickpeas, but it was already 6:30 pm and I couldn't be bothered.

                          I thought it was absolutely wonderful. I did use the preserved lemon, and it added just the perfect zing. I also served it with a little harissa paste on the side, which was a good complement. Oh, and I served it over bulgur wheat because I didn't have enough rice on hand. I didn't have great expectations for this; it could easily have been a boring, generic veggie dish. But I was so pleased, and my SO enjoyed it too.

                          Like you, nofunlatte, I used a small marble mortar/pestle (I think that's what you meant?), and like you, I had a few flying bits of garlic. It occurred to me that microplaning it might have been the way forward.

                          Also, I discovered a neat shortcut. For harissa, I have a spice blend that I bought from Seasoned Pioneers (http://www.seasonedpioneers.co.uk/). You just add olive oil and garlic. But even better, I got lazy (yesterday was a very long day) and used some garlic-infused olive oil (store bought, for shame). It was delicious.

                          1. re: Kagey

                            Microplaning is a great idea, Kagey! I'll have to try that next time. Thanks for the tip.

                          2. re: nofunlatte

                            I don't have a mortle and pestal either, maybe next Christmas! But when I make a garlic paste I put the cloves of garlic (after a rough chop) on the cutting board (wooden) and I add a little salt, then with my large knife, I smoosh it. So far this works well for me with the least mess. Salt works as a terrific abrasive to help grind the garlic down. I'm not sure about adding a bit of salt to the grinder, never tried that yet..

                            1. re: nofunlatte

                              I've made this recipe many times (often making some of the same subs as you--canned tomatoes are so much better than fresh when it's not tomato time of year!). I think it's great! I've almost always skipped the skinning the chickpeas portion of the recipe--a total waste of time IMHO.

                            2. Golden Bean Curd with Tomatoes p.603

                              At least I think that's the name, I don't have the cookbook with me right now. I made this because I wanted to do something different than what I usually do with tofu, and I had all of the ingredients (almost all of the other tofu recipes called for coconut milk). This was...okay. I probably won't make it again, but I liked it fine while eating it. Ultimately, it was just too much work for too little payoff -- lots of slicing, then frying the tofu, removing it, adding the shallots (I used an onion), then garlic, then tomatoes, etc, simmering, then adding the tofu and simmering more. It didn't really come together as a whole, and the tofu didn't end up with much flavor. I also added some chiles to it, thank goodness, because otherwise it would have been pretty bland. I think I'm going to pick up some coconut milk and make that Malaysian inspired curry.

                              Also, this recipe was another reminder that a lot of the recipes in this book (even the ones that I really like) have steps missing. She tells you to fry the tofu, but doesn't say to remove it to a plate to wait for the next step in the recipe involving it, and while that's a small thing, at first I wasn't sure if I was to add the onion and garlic to the tofu, or remove it and add it later. Later on she tells you to add the tofu to the onion/tomato mixture, so I connected the dots, but this cookbook could use a revamp that connects the dots for you.

                              1. Red Lentil Dal with Aromatics, p. 304

                                Subs: I used olive oil instead of ghee, a Piment d'Espelette with seeds instead of a jalapeno w/o seeds, and Trader Joe's light coconut milk.

                                I wanted and expected to like this one, but alas, I didn't! I adore coconut milk in curries, so I thought I'd love it here, but the combo didn't work for me at all. I tasted the dal before adding the coconut milk, and I wished I could have taken it back out. It's not terrible, and I'll certainly eat it, but I won't make it again, at least not that way.

                                The recipe also makes a very thin dal, at 1 c red lentils to 3 c water, not to mention the coconut milk thinning it out further. I much prefer thicker dals, so I think I'd go down to 2 c water or even 1 1/2 (on the theory I can thin but can't take out). I'm not convinced the bay leaves at the end added anything. She calls for 1 dried red chile broken into pieces or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, which doesn't seem equivalent to me; I'm sure a whole crushed chile would be more than 1/4 tsp. But I was in a hurry at that point so I went with the 1/4 tsp, which hardly added any flavor at all. My standard dal also uses cumin seed for the final aromatic addition, which adds much more flavor than the bay leaves did.

                                Bottom line: it didn't work for me.

                                1. All-Bean Chili, p. 323

                                  I haven't made this in a while, but I just realized that this is the perfect opportunity to warn people that the recipe calls for *way* too much water. My husband has made this chili several times, and it's delicious. It's a fair amount of work, but it makes lots of leftovers. Anyway, the first couple of times he made it, it ended up very soupy, so he started using less water. But he didn't mention this to me, so when I decided to make the recipe one day I had the same problem. Now our copy of the book has a large warning written on the page: "Use less water!!!" How much less? Well, the recipe says to put the beans in a soup pot with "fresh water to cover by 4 inches." I'd make that no more than 2 inches. You can always add more later if necessary.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: jlafler

                                    Thanks for the warning. I'd say in general that her recipes give you a LOT of food; more than expected. Never a bad thing around here, we can always use leftovers.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      Polenta Croutons, p. 525

                                      I reported in the Soups/Salads thread about the dinner I made last night. The soup was NOT from VegCookEv, it was from Chez Panisse Cookbook - carrot and red pepper soup. Easy and terrif.

                                      Since we were only going to have a salad to go with it, I figured we'd need something more, so I made the Polenta Croutons. You just make some polenta, then spread it out on a baking sheet, form it into a square (about 3/4" thick), cool in fridge and then cut into squares. I fried them in sunflower oil until they were crisp and brown. I think deep frying here would be easier, but I was feeling chintzy. She calls for about an inch of oil for frying. Per her instructions, I dusted them with salt and chili powder. I added a tiny bit of garlic powder to the mix. Very good. I think these would also be good as a snack - crispy on outside and soft on inside.

                                      They were very good in the soup. Also served the Jicama salad on p. 149 (discussed in "Salads" thread).

                                      I'm very glad this is the COTM as I've had Veg Cooking for Everyone for ages didn't use it enough. I've always been partial to my Madhur Jaffrey veg cookbooks (Eastern Veg. Cookbook and World Veg. Cooking) and used them much more. Now I see that Madison has some great stuff in her book. I've always loved her other books.

                                  2. Tofu with Paprika and Sour Cream (p. 606)

                                    I had doubts about this but at the same time wanted to try it because most tofu recipes are asian, and this seemed totally different from any tofu thing I'd ever had. Basically a sort of tofu stroganoff. I had some qualms about how it would turn out, but in the end I liked it. Didn't love it, but was surprised by how ok it was - fairly tasty.

                                    You cube and then simmer tofu - she calls for 2 blocks, I used one. Saute some onions and celery in butter with either fennel or caraway seeds (I went with the caraway). After that softens you add a little flour, paprika (she calls for sweet, I used hot), salt and pepper, tomato paste, she calls for a diced green pepper but I didn't have so left it out - stir this, then add water/broth (I cheated and used chicken) and the drained tofu and let simmer for 15 minutes. Then stir in the sour cream (she calls for 1/2 cup to a cup - I did the half cup). I served it over buttered egg noodles. This is another one where the tofu itself doesn't have that much flavor, but the sauce (especially since I used hot paprika) more than makes up for it.

                                    All that said, this is the recipe with the most typos I've found in this book so far (and i think we're all agreed that it could have used a much better editing). I have the 10th anniversary edition, surely if they're going to tout that on the cover they should give it a once over first. Ingred. list says 3 tablespoons butter and canola oil when I think she meant _or_ - there is no mention of the oil in the text. And (especially given the title of the recipe) at the end of the instructions she says "stir in the creme fraiche..." with no mention of sour cream. Obvious what was really meant, but still.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      Yeah, I looked at that recipe and she obviously meant the sour cream. Weird how typos like this don't get noticed. I could understand 2 cups getting typed in as 1 cup and not being noticed, but I guess this slipped under the radar because it wouldn't be caught by spellcheck.

                                      I've been wanting to try this as it seems to be a variation on a Hungarian "paprikash" (sp) dish. I think that the green pepper is pretty vital to it, as my mother-in-law's recipe for chicken paprikash had lots of sliced red, yellow and green peppers in it. And she was born in Budapest.

                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                        It could be vital, but luckily I still enjoyed it without the green pepper. And different color peppers would be beautiful in it. It is worth trying - so completely different from other tofu recipes.

                                        The editing problems with this book seem a little out of control.

                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                          Spellcheck, scmellcheck. Cookbooks hace copy editors who are supposed to deal with these issues, but it seems to be a problem in recent encyclopedic cookbooks. There were some serious copyediting issues, and atrocious indexing problems, in the first go-round of How to Cook Everything (which I do hope were dealt with in later printings). It's a real shame that these errors in otherwise excellent cookbooks could throw off the less-experienced cooks that these appealing, simply prepared recipes should be perfect for.

                                      2. Black-eyed pea and tomato salad with feta, p. 174.
                                        This is a good recipe to have in the refrigerator for a quick, healthy lunch. It was good for several days. Madison says to use fresh or canned black-eyed peas. I have a prejudice against canned beans and I don't know that I've ever seen fresh black-eyed peas, so I used dried ones that I soaked and cooked. And I used ricotta salata instead of feta, since that's what I had. I'd probably like it even better with feta.
                                        Edit: I probably should have posted this in the salad thread. It's a salad and it's beans.

                                        1. Pinto Beans with Tomatoes and Serrano Chiles, p 320

                                          This is a fantastic weeknight meal or something to feed a crowd. I always use Madison's instructions as a basic guideline to cook beans. Upon her suggestion, I bought the epazote a few months back. On page 38, she describes epazote, a "semiwild herb" that lends flavor and also makes beans more digestible. I really like the nuance it adds to the beans. I found it at a small Mexican market.

                                          So -- I soaked the beans overnight as usual, cooked them with epazote, a whole halved onion, some garlic, adding salt partway through the cooking process. Basic pinto beans -- fantastic.

                                          Then in another pan, I heated a bunch of tomatoes with chiles and garlic and a little oil. I used oregano because I had it fresh from the farmers' market, and I'm sure that cilantro as suggested would be equally great. Cook, smushing the tomatoes, until this thickens into a sauce.

                                          To my surprise, adding in this ultra-simple fresh tomato sauce totally transformed these pinto beans! I ate them with just a touch of crumbled feta (as suggested) and scooped up with some great chips. YUM. Filling, healthy, delicious, simple to prepare. I wish I had known this recipe when I was a vegetarian in college! It's so much simpler and more flavorful than a lot of the fussy recipes I attempted at that point!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: foxy fairy

                                            Thanks for the recipe. I don't know this epazote stuff. Have you any idea what might work in stead?

                                            1. re: yayadave

                                              I've had some recent experience with epazote. Was looking at a few recipes for simple Mexican black beans, and they all called for fresh epazote. Everyone said that if you can't find fresh, don't bother. I didn't heed that advice and bought some dried from Seasoned Pioneers (UK). While I had to find out for myself, the advice was very true. Dried epazote has no flavor whatsoever. I made the beans once with and once without it, and there was no discernable difference to me. I'd say skip it altogether if you can't find fresh.

                                          2. Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu with Coconut Rice (p. 601)

                                            First thing - my husband (who has been very patient but is getting a little fed up with the amount of tofu we've eaten this month) said this should be called false advertizing. We didn't find this spicy at all. It did have nice flavor, but I'd bump up the spices a lot (at least double) if I made it again. And I did like it - this was the one recipe that actually gave the tofu itself flavor instead of relying on the sauce. You toss cubed tofu with cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, sugar and salt, then saute until golden, add some chopped scallions and then a bit of lime juice. Nice. The coconut rice was good but I've had better (out - this was my first time making it myself). I think it (the rice) desperately needed more salt. The whole thing was very pretty, the chopped cilantro on top of the yellow rice with the brownish cubes of tofu looked good (sorry not to have a shot of it - somehow whenever I've taken pictures chowhound doesn't accept them) and we agreed that if we went to a vegan's house for dinner and got this we'd be happy.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              Could your photos be too big? I always shrink mine before posting.

                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                I think that could be it, although I've had the pictures work once or twice. I'll ask my husband - he's much more computer literate.

                                            2. Southern Style Black-Eyed Peas, p. 306

                                              Totally delicious! It's straight forward enough, but her use of smoked chipotle powder as a seasoning was particularly inspired, giving the smoky flavor one might otherwise get from a ham hock or similar meat items. The allspice adds a lovely, sweet complexity (and alerted me that I'm in desperate need of more ground allspice!). I used bean broth from previous bean making sessions as my liquid and simmered it long enough that there wasn't much liquid left, just enough to be tasty. I always forget that black-eyed peas are quick-cooking beans that don't require presoaking, which makes this an easy, 1 - 1 1/2 hour dish. Perhaps this recipe will drill that into my brain.

                                              I only had 1/2 c of black-eyed peas (and I'm not growing any this year, such a sad gardening oversight!), so I cut the recipe mostly in half, though I still used a whole green pepper, a head of green garlic instead of 2 garlic cloves, and a whole celery rib.

                                              I served this as a side dish with grilled steak, but it could easily stand on its own as a main with rice and greens or a salad. I'm sure we'll eat the leftovers that way.