So as it turns out, I didn't have anyone special to cook for on St. Valentine's day. I mean, there is always my roommate, but since her and I will likely spend the rest of our days together until we drop dead and get eaten by our 25 cats, every day is like V-day for us.
I turned to my beloved vegan food blogs to take solace in some crunchy, anti-"corporate holiday" rhetoric, but my RSS feeder looked like the inside of a goddamn Hallmark store by about February 6th. Recipe contests for romantic foods, tofu colored with beet juice and cut into heart shapes, good lord, it appears we're not even safe on the commune anymore.
Good thing there was a fantastic recipe for these Parsnip Dumplings. I love parsnips, and could not let my generalized dissatisfaction with all things valentine get in the way of making these beauties. Lucky for my dinner guests, even a jaded, rapidly-aging single woman on Valentine's day can acknowledge the power of pan fried dumplings made from caramelized onions and parsnips.
The sauce I made was a bit simpler than the one made by Becky Timbers. It was two red peppers pureed in my food processor, two cloves of pressed garlic, a can of tomatoes and some olive oil. I reduced it for a few minutes on the stove and called it good. The flavor had just enough punch and sweetness to nicely complement the flavor of the dumplings. I also grilled some romaine that had been marinated in olive oil and balsamic. Who knew cooking lettuce would be so delicious?
After the pan-fried dumplings were so amazing, I was inspired to make dumpling soup. It's been years since I've eaten dumpling soup, and I'm sure it contained chicken (as is traditional). The idea of tender dough with the parsnip/caramelized onion flavor cooked in rich, delicious vegetable broth was incredibly appealing.
I made a mirepoix in one pan, and sauteed my "chef's sampler" of mushrooms along with some sliced fennel in another, like so:
The dumpling dough was the same as in the recipe posted above, the only difference that I made the balls of dough much smaller and dropped them into boiling soup in lieu of frying. As for the soup, It really doesn't matter. Mine was comprised of all the vegetables in my crisper drawer (onions, carrots, celery, fennel, mushrooms, garlic) a cube of Rapunzel broth, some salt and pepper, a can of tomatoes, and enough water to fill the pot full enough to make lots of soup but not so full that it boiled over. I tasted the broth and seasoned it until it was to my liking. The soup was delicious, though not especially photogenic. It looked like this:
P.S.... The dumplings are done when they float to the top, akin to cooking fresh gnocchi or something similar.
For a fun rainy Sunday project, I made focaccia. The oil to pour on top was infused with garlic, sun dried tomatoes and rosemary, and I brushed on a very thin layer of the red pepper sauce for some sweetness. I kept the stuff i strained out of the oil (softened garlic, slightly crunchy rosemary, soft sun-dried tomatoes) and added it on after baking.
This stuff was like crack. If we finished it all in one day, you wouldn't judge us... right? Look at the picture before you answer...
Last but not least, in the category of "cleaning the fridge," this is cashew curry made with Vadouvan according to Susan's recipe over at the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. This spice is BRILLIANT. I'm pretty sure my onions were more "burned" than "dehydrated," but it still makes things taste really awesome, not the least of which was this curry. I think I did a bit of "globetrotting" here, but if it's ok with Nigella, it's ok with me.
About 3/4 cup of the vadouvan went into the food processor with about 1/2 cup of cashews. Those were spun around together, almost until the cashews formed a paste but not quite. I then streamed in soy milk until the texture was somewhat like a thin syrup. I added this to a pan full of onions, red peppers, cauliflower and cashews that were cooking up in a smidgeon of olive oil. I added a can of coconut milk to that, a few dashes of soy sauce to taste, and let it simmer until the vegetables got soft. I'll be trying this with more vegetables in the future, as it was positively delicious and really hit the spot during all the cold weather we've been having. Until next time...