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Vegan Planet: April 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Spicy Coconut Noodles

A busy day with no time to cook prompted me to make a recipe from Quick-Fix Vegetarian even quicker. I adapted the recipe for coconut rice noodles, using leftover cooked linguine instead of preparing rice noodles and added extra coconut milk to make it more saucy and help the noodles heat up more quickly. I tossed in some thawed frozen peas, although the addition of some leftover cooked veggies such as broccoli would have been nice as well, or if you have time, you can sauté other veggies of choice, such as red bell pepper.

A generous sprinkling of cilantro (or parsley, if you’re out of cilantro like I was) and a squeeze of lime added sparkle, with some cashews on top to add a bit of crunch. Well, I had planned to use cashews, but at the last minute I noticed some fried rice noodles in the cupboard, so I used them instead for a nice change. I thought the dish might need some extra heat, so I brought the Sriracha sauce to the table, but it turned out the red pepper flakes provided just the right amount, more as a background of heat rather than being in the forefront. (of course, if you don't like heat, you can leave it out or use less.) Start to finish, this easy and versatile dinner was ready in about 15 minutes. Now that’s a quick fix!

Spicy Coconut Noodles
Adapted from Quick-Fix Vegetarian.

1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
8 ounces extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces cooked rice noodles or linguine
1/2 cup thawed frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
Lime wedges, for garnish
Crushed cashews, for garnish

Heat the oil in a skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the tofu and stir-fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the green onions and ginger and stir-fry another 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low and stir in the coconut milk, soy sauce, sugar, and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked noodles and peas and toss gently to combine until heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more soy sauce or sugar if needed, to balance the flavors. Serve sprinkled with the cilantro and garnished with lime wedges and cashews.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Book Giveaway on

For a chance to win a copy of Vegan Fire and Spice, go to (the April 25th post: Vegan Fire & Spice Giveaway) where Erik Marcus is giving away three copies of the book. Hurry, though, as the contest closes on Friday, May 1.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009


The Great Brownie Debate

Anyone who thinks “a brownie is a brownie” will have to think again after reading through the comments in the brownie poll. With well over 100 people (and counting) voting for their favorites, the “fudgy brownie” faction overtook the “cakey brownie” proponents by a landslide. Interestingly, almost equal in number to the cakey brownie lovers are those who enjoy either or both kinds of brownies or “something in between.” The question of “nuts” vs. “no nuts” favors "yes to nuts," with many respondents either not addressing the nut issue or listing other additions. Here’s how the numbers look as of this writing. Out of 115 votes (including a few that came via e-mail):

Prefer Fudgy Brownies: 74
Prefer Cakey Brownies: 19
Enjoy Both Kinds: 22
“Yes” to Nuts: 42
“No” to Nuts: 27

What I found most amazing is how passionately descriptive everyone is about the type of brownie they prefer, as well as the creative riffs on traditional brownie recipes that many of you shared, including additions from cayenne, mint, nutmeg, and peanut butter, to topping them with pecans glazed with hot sauce and peach preserves, and even adding chunks of brownies to brownie batter for a double-dose of brownie goodness — now that’s decadent!

As promised, I have randomly chosen someone to receive a copy of Vegan Fire and Spice for taking part in this poll. The winner is: Kiersten — (Kiersten, please e-mail me with your mailing address and I’ll get a book right out to you.)

I want to extend a big thank you to everyone who participated in the brownie poll — I wish I could give each one of you a nice big freshly baked custom-made brownie of your choice!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Brownies, Take Two…and a Book Giveaway

After the swift disappearance of the first pan of brownies from my last post, my brownie-addicted husband was looking for more, so I made another batch, this time with just a whisper of walnuts as the only addition. As you can see in the photo, these are very cakey brownies—the only kind Jon likes (see previous post).

It got me to wondering if everyone else is as strict in their brownie specifications as he is, so I’m conducting a totally non-scientific poll: What kind of brownies do you prefer? Cakey? Fudgey? With nuts? Without nuts?

As an incentive to participate in this poll, I will randomly choose one of the commenters to send a copy of my book, Vegan Fire & Spice (or another title, if you already have it). So, let’s make some brownie points! Describe your favorite kind of brownies.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009


Nutty Chocolate Brownies

My husband Jon is a card-carrying brownie lover. Not just any brownies — he especially likes chocolatey brownies with lots of nuts, and he prefers a cakey texture (as opposed to fudgy). Perhaps second only to his penchant for cakey nutty brownies is his devotion to all things coconut. The idea of combining these elements to create his “dream brownie” was the inspiration for “Nutty Chocolate Brownies,” which will appear in my upcoming book, 1,000 Vegan Recipes, coming out later this year.

Jon couldn’t even wait for these brownies to cool out of the oven, much less until the book comes out, so you shouldn’t have to either — the recipe is below. Another great thing about these brownies is their versatility: if you’re not a fan of coconut, leave out the coconut extract and shredded coconut and use soy milk or other non-dairy milk instead of the coconut milk. If you don’t like pecans, swap them for another nut. You can even leave the nuts out entirely, but then they wouldn’t be very nutty brownies, would they?

Nutty Chocolate Brownies
This recipe is from 1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson © 2009.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw pecans
1/2 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and oil until well blended. Stir in the coconut milk, vanilla and coconut extracts, and blend until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend. Fold in the pecans, chocolate chips, and coconut.
3. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, and bake until the center is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let the brownies cool 30 minutes before serving.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Blushing Fettuccine Alfredo

April weather in Virginia can be fickle, and this year is no exception. A few days of 70-degree sunshine teased of an early spring, only to give way to a final (I hope) blast of winter wind and snow flurries. The cold weather set off my “comfort food” alarm again, and I found the perfect solution in a tester recipe for an upcoming cookbook (sorry I can’t share the recipe just yet).

It’s called Blushing Fettuccine Alfredo, made with a rich creamy white sauce, blushing with a hint of marinara sauce. To remind myself that spring really is here (technically at least), I added some veggies to make a “primavera” variation and topped it with some pan-fried tofu that Jon thought looked like tofu croutons, so I called them “to-futons.” And while he didn’t find my pun terribly amusing, he did find the fettuccine to be out-of-this-world delicious.


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