Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of 2011

Best of 2011

One of the main things I try to keep in focus when writing here is that it's not always about the recipes or the pretty pictures. After 10 years and 3000 posts(!), it really has been about the journey, the friends we've made, your feedback, and the commitment to finding new ways to cut tofu into funny shapes express vegan food.

Here's some of the more interesting things we made this year -- a mix of favorites and new favorites -- and why they made the list (in no particular order). Click on the links for more pictures, recipes and descriptions without the consent of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Hoisin Tofu Blocks stuffed with Radish & Beet Greens

A refinement of the Borg Cube from 2008, which also inspired Thanksgiving dinner (below) -- smoked, cored, deep-fried tofu blocks filled with braised greens. This was scary good.

Terrine, Spinach, Apple and Fennel Salad

We like to break out those old-school Time-Life books on Terrines and re-imagine what they could be like 40 years later. The result was elegant and tasty.

Chicago Style Deep-Dish Pizza

I joked over on Tumblr "The next time someone says that they could never be a vegan because they would miss pizza — show them this…" ;)

Seitan Osso Buco, Polenta

Just because comfort food never goes out of style doesn't mean it can't look good as it tastes.

Tomato and Basil Tart

Speaking of comfort food, this quick tart with phyllo dough hit all the right notes and looked great to boot.

Farro with Grilled Tofu

Continuing in the comfort food vein -- Farro is an underappreciated grain -- we like to pressure cook it and pair it with smoked, marinated and grilled tofu and nice glass of red wine. Perfect for when the leaves change color.

Seitan Bourguignon, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Braised Leeks

Finally, Bourguignon is my ultimate comfort food, any night of the week.

Raw Food Wednesday: Sushi

Another refugee from 2008 was a further refinement of a raw dish idea that involves frozen watermelon and a vacuum-sealer. This got some play on the internets.

Injera, Kabocha Stew with Okra and Collard Greens

Teff and Kabocha Squash: Two great ingredients that are even better together. Also, who knew a boy from the midwest could love okra so much?

Paella with Fennel and Seitan Sausages, Tofu and Mushrooms

If you buy a Paella pan, you might as well use it. ;)

Spinach Ravioli, Arugula Salad with Crutons and Tomatoes

While vegan wontons are not the easiest to find -- hint, Asian grocery stores -- that doesn't mean you need to always make Asian dishes with them.

Squash Blossom Fritto Misto

Moving on to the deep-fried portion of the list, squash blossoms from our garden are only available for use in a very short window of opportunity. This is our favorite way to use them.

Fiddlehead Fern Tempura

Ditto on the short window for the Fiddleheads -- they were blanched slightly to remove the bitterness and then coated and deep-fried.

Makin' Seitan

Our first video (still working on number two, honest) on making seitan.

Yes, that's my voice. No, I don't sound anything like you imagined. ;)

Seitan Roulade, Roasted Broccoli, Red Potatoes

Here's our favorite way to use that seitan from the video.

Mac 'n Cheese with BBQ Tofu and Roasted Broccoli

A mash-up of three great things that surprisingly work well together.

Ramp Pasta with Fava Beans

Speaking of pasta, we made quite a bit of our own this year, starting with Ramps.

Black Trumpet Mushroom Pasta with Fava Beans

Then we moved on to mushroom pasta, using Black Trumpets.

Cherry-Smoked Eggplant Po' Boy with Cole Slaw

Blasphemy? Perhaps. But tasty, tasty blasphemy.


Blanched tapioca pearls marinated in seaweed and black tea. So Good.

Blini with Beet Caviar

Blanched tapioca pearls marinated in seaweed and beet juice. So, So, Good.

Hickory-Smoked Mushroom and Quinoa Burger

Yes, these were as delicious as they look.

Oaxacan Black Mole with Mesquite-Smoked Tofu and Polenta in Tortilla Cups with Plantain Chips

This dish was inspired by a set of limitations -- a small, one bite dish, Mexican ingredients, easy to prep ahead of time, easy to assemble on site. Basically a culinary thought problem that didn't involve trains living from Wichita at 3pm traveling east at 35mph. ;)

Oaxacan Black Mole with Polenta, Hickory-Smoked Grilled Tofu, Plantain Chips and Pumpkin Seeds in a Tortilla Cup

The second pass was a shot at refinement. This is something we should explore more of in 2012.

Seitan with Black Vinegar Sauce

One day we'd like to do a whole book on veganizing a Chinese Take-Out Menu. Here's the first entry.

Vegan Test Kitchen

Prepping for Vegan Iron Chef is always fun...

What The Hell Does A Vegan Eat For Thanksgiving Anyway? 2011 Edition

Holidays are always an important time for us as we try to strike a balance between the classics (braised carrots, Brussels Sprouts) and inspiration (hello tofu cube!).

Bastille Day 2011: Seitan Roulade, Petite Pomme de Terre, Ratatouille, Haricot Verts, Blini with Vegan Caviar, Tapenade, Mushroom & Walnut Pate

We always like to throw a few dinner parties, and this year we had excellent weather to celebrate Bastille Day.

Sliders, Potato Salad

The July 4th weekend is another time to fire up the grill and get our burger on...

Valentine's Day 2011

Yes, after 26 years, I love my wife more than ever.

Asian New Year: Shumai, Steamed BBQ Tofu Buns, Lotus Root Chips, Scallion Pancakes

Click through for the rest of the spread, but the shumai were quite a treat.

Akron Vegan Bake Sale For Japan

A great way to donate money to a great cause, and eat high quality desserts -- Bonus!

Black Tofu

Tofu Party Tonight! Tofu Party Tonight!

(Why yes, I do have too much free time)

So, there you go -- onward to 2012 and more pictures of tofu cut into funny shapes. ;)

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