Monday, March 03, 2008

New twists on familiar foods

I read in a magazine once that most people have an average of nine meals that they eat regularly in differing rotations, and they only occasionally step outside of that repertoire.

I don’t know if Andy and I fit into that statistic exactly, but we do have some staple meals that come up every fortnight or so. Normally we keep them pretty standard, but every now and then we’ll spice things up with some new flavour combinations.

Pizza is a perfect example. We have pizza fairly often, usually topped with chicken-style seitan, pineapple, capsicum, mushrooms, olives, and tomatoes. To mix things up, we tried a new topping combination that I’ve been meaning to try for a while now: Potato and Sausage Pizza. A simple crust provided the base garlicky tomato sauce spiced with oregano and aniseed, thinly sliced potatoes, and veggie sausages, all topped with freshly ground pepper and fresh rosemary. Andy was more than sceptical when I told him my plan for the pizza crust, but the simple elegance of this pizza won him over quickly (though he did add BBQ sauce to his half).

Notice the way the toppings come right up to the edge of the crust? Andy hates plain crust bites, whereas I enjoy a few of those at the end of my pizza slice. Similar to couples who have half-cheese/half-cheeseless, we have half-exposed crust, half-toppings right to the edge. How’s that for a compromise?

Risotto is a meal we have once a month, and our favourite is definitely lemon risotto with green peas. Unfortunately, lemons are expensive during the summer, so we have to change things up a bit. In my head (so Andy didn’t make fun of me), I called this ‘The Incredible Hulk Risotto’, because it was green, ‘meaty’, vegan and a little out of the ordinary. Yep, that’s right, The Hulk was veg, a little known fact I picked up when I was a member of the Vegan Freak Forums (which I unfortunately had to quit because it was taking up too much time and internet quota). Apparently there is one edition of the comic book where Bruce Banner is eating lunch and his co-workers make fun of his tofurkey sandwich. Out comes the green monster, shouting ‘TOFURKEY NOT FUNNY!!’

Anyways. The stock was a mixture of bad-tasting white wine we needed to use up, the dregs of a BBQ sauce bottle washed out with water, mushroom soaking liquid, and green herb stock powder. We stirred that into the Arborio rice along with broccoli, frozen spinach, green peas, and minced up veggie sausages.

Store-bought gnocchi is good for an easy meal that doesn’t require a lot of work. We usually pair it with a mushroom cream sauce, or a jarred tomato sauce. Inspired by Megan the Vegan, I wanted to try something a little different. I cubed some chicken-style seitan and sautéed it in veggie stock and bragg’s for a few minutes. Then I sautéed some mushrooms and cooked the gnocchi. Afterwards, I put the cooked mushrooms and seitan in the pan with the gnocchi and some fresh baby spinach, and poured in a mix of veggie stock, balsamic vinegar, and arrowroot. After taking it off the heat I mixed in ½ c. or so of minced fresh parsley. I would have liked the sauce to be a bit thicker, but it was a very yummy combination, anyways.

Finally, breakfast. I know I only recently lamented my boring breakfast repertoire. Saturday morning I woke up and really felt like corn muffins. I know that Andy isn’t a fan of muffins for breakfast, but I thought I could enjoy some fabulous corn muffins while he ate a boring bowl of cereal. As I was gathering ingredients, the good Theresa on my shoulder spoke louder than the selfish one, and I thought Andy might want some pancakes. Since the polenta was out, I made corn pancakes as a variation on our normal flapjacks. I would have added lemon or blueberries, but we didn’t have any. Still, I really liked them. They were like a denser version of corn bread. Andy didn’t love them, he didn’t even really like them, but he doesn’t like the gritty feeling of polenta in baked goods.

Plus, he’s a breakfast grinch, remember?

PS... Aussie vegans, voting has opened for the Aduki vegan awards. Vote for your favourite veg stuff!


Anonymous said...

You are definitely right, I use the same recipes over and over... gah!! It's such a bad rut, but you seem to be very motivated to switch it up! Great work. =)

pleasantly plump vegan said...

we use the same recipes but try to make something new each week. pizza IS a good base for change. those pancakes look yummy.

textual bulldog said...

yeah, so many of the same recipes.. I think I'll do a same recipe post soon, too, inspired by you! ;) I loooove the tidbit about the incredible hulk, too. "Tofurky not funny" is really funny, to me, so there, hulk!

DJ said...

I know what you mean about the same old recipes, but as you've demonstrated yet again, with a bit of ingenuity and utilising what you have in the cupboards, you can vary those dishes enough to keep them fresh. And that pizza looks great, but I'm with Andy on the crust issue!!!

Alec said...

That pizza looks delicious. Your pizza compromise is hilarious; it's funny how picky we can all be about certain food things. Great Hulk fact (and dinner). You can get super huge and muscley not eating dead animals!

Cookiemouse said...

Corn muffins for breakfast sound very nice, and that's quite a yummy looking pizza. I tend to eat pasta at least twice a week eg. today, and usually spaghetti or penne.

Ashasarala said...

I find myself on meal rotation. I don't like it. I've actually just started breaking out of my shell, though. Hooray for that!

That pizza looks so, so, so, so good. See, I am a typical American. I can't just have one normal meal. I need to have fifty thousand things on it. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw this!

It's so cute that half the crust has toppings and the other half doesn't. I'm with you- I like plain crust. But that's pretty odd that a breakfast grinch would need tons of flavour on the edge of a pizza. ;)

Liz² said...

haha, the hulk thing is awesome! very very awesome! and the crust thing is adorable. I love how you guys are always experimenting and playing with things (I don't remember if it was this post or the next one, but the roasted radishes are a perfect example). totally inspiring!

... and have I mentioned that every time I read Townsville I hear it in my head as the narrator from the powerpuff girls? :D