Mattoni's Cooking Blog

A veg*n cooking blog with photos, recipes, hints, secrets, and street cred. Get with it, sucka.

January 30, 2006

Color Wheel Vegetable Soup

1 carton of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons parsley
Olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup canned corn
A handful of baby spinach

1/2 cup chopped:
Red onion
Green beans

Using a big soup pan heat up onions and minced garlic in about 2-3 table spoons of olive oil.

Once onions start to get translucent add the entire carton of vegetable stock. Add carrots, zucchini, green beans, and celery and bring to a light boil.

Add parsley flakes, cover pot and cook for about 6-10 min or until vegetables are almost fork tender.

Once you get to that point add corn, spinach, tomatoes and cook for another 4 min.

You may need to add some salt to taste depending on the brand of stock you buy.

Makes about 5-6 servings -- just enough lunch for a week. This soup re-heats nicely and can also be frozen and re-heated.

January 29, 2006

Banana bread of opportunity

Banana bread is one of the greatest comfort foods ever. I decided to emphazize this by adding a few other warm and comfortable ingredients: trail mix, cinnamon, and nutmeg. You don't have to add all this, of course, but what fun is making banana bread for 15 people if you aren't going to cram so much into it that none of them feel left out. This is non-discrimanatory banana bread; the melting pot of breads; the bread of life, liberty, and the pursuit of deliciousness.

2 cups pastry flour
3/4 cups brown sugar
4 ripe bananas (make sure they're all old and brown)
1 cup of your favorite nuts or trail mix (I'm using "Dave's Mix" from Harvest Health, which has all sorts of nuts, seeds, and raisins)
1/2 cup applesauce
3 eggs or egg replacer equivalent (I'm using Ener-G Egg Replacer)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

You will need a greased bread pan for this (greased with shortening and a special kind of love), as well as an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Get on it!

Put all your dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg) in a mixing bowl and mix them all up into a uniform mixture (pictured below is before I mixed them).

Put the egg replacer in a small bowl or mug and mix it together with the warm water. This particular product by Ener-G takes 1 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer and 2 teaspoons warm water to make the equivalent of one egg. I need to equal 3 eggs, so I'm using 4 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer and 6 teaspoons of warm water.

If you're using real eggs, be sure to mix them well. Add the eggs to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl, along with the brown sugar and apple sauce. Mix them all up.

Now you can add your trail mix or nuts or whatever you do or don't want. It's the choose your own adventure part of the recipe.

Peel the bananas and break them into pieces over your mixing bowl. It is easier to mush everything up into a uniform dough when you have smaller pieces to work with.

Mush everything together until you get something that resembles an edible mud swamp (with bananas and nuts). This is your dough. Neat!

Pour the mixture into a bread pan and let it settle before you put it in your 350-degree-preheated oven for about 55 minutes.

After 55 minutes, take your bread out and brush something butter-ish on the top. I like to use veggie butter. Then, put the bread back in for about 15 more minutes. The butter will help the bread form a nice brown crust in the final few minutes.

Once you bread is done, again, take it out and poke it with a fork or a toothpick. If anything sticks, it's still not done. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Usher your bread directly into the oven for another 10 minutes or so. When the bread is finally done, take it out and let it cool before you flip it out onto a plate and serve it up. I don't want you to burn your resourceful little hands. I'm just looking out for you -- you should come to respect this quality in me.

I am, of course, using a special trail mix in this recipe but you don't have to. If the price of mixed nuts has got you down, why not switch to bulk walnuts or maybe even dates or cranberries? Using 1 cup of trail mix is the recipe that seems to work for me, so if you want to substitute something, make sure you use the equivalent amount so you get the right consistency.

January 24, 2006

Veggie Fajitas

This is another friend inspired recipe. Lisa and I love Mexican food and would always get together and make chicken fajitas. One day she made some without chicken and added a bunch of veggies instead. I haven't eaten chicken fajitas since. You won't even miss the meat.


Peppers -- green, red, yellow, or any colors you can find (Matt introduced me to purple last year)
Lime juice
1 packet of fajita seasoning
Anything else you like on your fajitas, like sour cream, cheese, guac, etc.

Cut up vegtables into manageable pieces. Use as much as you want. You can adjust the amout depending on how many people you are serving and how much leftovers you want. Combine all the vegetables into pan with fajita seasoning -- for the amount I made I used half the packet of seasoning (I made enough for 2). Then add a small handful of cilantro and pour about a 1/4 cup of lime juice in. This adds a nice flavor to the veggies and helps them cook.

Cook on med/high heat until veggies have darkened a bit in color and have a bit of crispness still, you don't want the veggies mushy.

Place a scoop on a warm tortilla and top with your favorite toppings. Tapatio Hot Sauce is my favorite if you like it spicy.

Mattoni's Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Sandwich

This recipe came about when Matt was visting me for a weekend and we tried to go to Eastern Market to buy food to make lunch. But, it was pouring rain -- not the best condidions for a mostly outdoor market. So, we went to Trader Joe's and Matt had the idea to make goat cheese sandwiches, we thought of things that might be good on it and this is the end result. We ate them and watched "Run Ronnie Run," a great rainy day combination.


editors note: during the watching of "Run Ronnie Run," Matt passed out cold because Toni drugged him with sleeping pills, cleverly disguised as anti-allergy medicine.


Hearty Bread, ie. italian, sourdough, (I used sprouted grain seeded Ezekiel)
Soft goat cheese (you may use the kind with fine herbs)
Baby spinach
Artichoke hearts
Roasted red pepper

(you can find all of these ingredients at Trader

Turn stove top on med. heat and spray with non-stick spray.
Spread goat cheese on insides of both slices of bread and top one side with spinach.

Slice red pepper and
artichoke hearts into manageable pieces and put on bread.

Put pieces of bread together and grill for
about 2 min. on each side (watch it to make sure it dosen't burn -- temps may vary).

Cut in half and share with a friend.

January 21, 2006

Sweet Potato Hash

Some mornings are coffee and an apple mornings, some mornings are just coffee mornings, and some mornings are just the end of the night before. Saturday morning was sunny and it started around 9 a.m., a good time to get up on Saturday. If you want something breakfasty, something that can dry you up from the night before, and at the same time get you ready for a long bike ride, potatoes are the happenin' scene -- soul food sweet potatoes that is.

1 sweet potato
1 zucchini
1 sweet onion
Olive oil
Chili powder

You're gonna need a grater, too.

Grate the sweet potato and the zucchini onto a large plate. Microwave the potato and zucchini for about a minute and a half, so it's slightly cooked.

Chop up the onion into matchsticks, don't dice it. Put a few tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of thyme into a pan and sautee the onion until it's semi-transparent.

Once the onions are done, add a few handfuls of the grated sweet potato and zucchini and lightly stir it around in the pan for a few minutes.

Separate the hash into two separate piles and smush them down. They need to start sizzling if you want some decent hash.

You want your hash piles to sizzle for only a minute or two on one side, or they will start to stick. If your hash starts to stick, add some extra oil. I have a air pump sprayer that works really well. Sprinkle on some more basil and a few hits of chili powder about now, too.

Your hash is done when it starts to get crispy, dark brown tips. Depending on how you are feeling the morning you make this stuff, you might want to make extra. It's good in more ways than one; that's why it's called soul food, brutha. I made it here with toast with avocado, bananas and orange juice.

You can use regular potato, of course, or add a spoonful of molasses to the onions while they sautee for a richer taste.

Easy cheesy broccoleesy

It's late, I'm hungry and I don't feel like doing anything too complicated. After 1 a.m., steaming bowls of mac and cheese take up about 75 percent of my thought processes. While the boxed version is tasty, it's a little more fun to come up with your own version. I had some chopped walnuts in the cupboard, so I used them in here, too. That's probably the least traditional mac and cheese ingredient in here but it adds a really nice texture (crunch), making this more than your average late night snack.


16 ounces of your favorite shaped noodles

1 head of broccoli

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 package of powdered chreese (Road's End has a decent line of vegan "chreese" products)

Sweet Basil

Start boiling some water for your noodles. You want to use a sauce pan big enough to hold enough water to cover your noodles completely.

Chop up the broccoli into florets and 1-inch pieces. Then get another sauce pan to steam them. If you have both pots going at the same time, you will obviously finish faster.

We need speed, demon speed, speed's what we need!

-Mickey Goldmill

Once the noodles are done, drain them and add the chreese powder, walnuts, and about a tablespoonful of sweet basil.

When you mix it all up, the noodles will probably look a little gritty, like they need butter or milk or something. Don't worry and don't give in, we'll take care of the problem in the next step.

Once the broccoli is done steaming, drain out all but about 1/4 cup of water. Pour the broccoli and the water into the noodle pot.

You're nearly done, and before sun up, no less! Once everything is mixed up, make yourself a bowl and throw some shredded cheese on the top, if you like. Then enjoy eating it while your brother comes back with a late night bag of smelly enchiladitos from Taco Bell.

If you want to use real cheese powder or something with dairy in it, the recipe would also need to include butter and a little milk for the right consistency. The vegan chreese powder only needs water.

January 19, 2006

Toni's tip #1 - Foodular Modification

For those of you who prefer to get your protein from other sources instead of tofu, by all means add whatever you like to these dishes. Modification is key. Change types of ingredients and/or amounts to your taste until it's just the way you like. Make the recipes exact or change them to suit you - the possibilities are endless.
Have fun with it!

January 18, 2006

Smokin' Hot Chocolate Chili

I got out of work a half-hour early on Monday and rode my bike seven miles to Harvest Health. For the chili, I got some generic TVP (called Harvest Burger), peppers, beans, and some spices I didn’t think I had. Harvest Health is a great place for spices you might or might not have because you can get little bags for 79 cents.

I also got some more tofu (firm and extra firm) for the spinach and tofu lasagne I plan on making someday.
Soy protein powder (cheap in bulk) was on the grocery list, too. With 20 miles on the bike for this week already, I will soon be carved out of wood. I think I will start keeping a tally of my bike miles for the week. Each week, you can find out how many BMs I have (insert laughter).

This week is chili week, and I’m not lying when I call it a week, either. It takes me a long time to get everything ready, not to mention I usually end up going back to the store at least once. You have to soak the beans overnight, then you heat them a little until they’re soft, then you drain them, then you put them back in the pot with all your other stuff, then you heat it more, then you add a pinch of this or that to taste, and then you might even want to top it with a little shredded soy cheese. Most of these steps take hours (except the optional topping with the soy cheese step). Those hours combine forces to form days. Those days secret handshake each other, do a whirligig dance, and turn into a week. That week is called chili week.
A fun thing about chili is that you make it sans-recipe, which is how I usually roll. Each chili outcome will be a different surprise, which you may name as you see fit. My previous forays into chili have produced such greats as: Liberty, Freedom, Communist Red, Smog, and Mean Green.
I am putting a decent amount of carob powder in this chili, as well as a lot of heat, and a bit of smoke. I would dare say this batch of "Smokin' Hot Chocolate Chili" pretty much named itself.

Beans - I like to use more than one kind. In this case black and adzuki. Make sure you use beans with similar cooking times, though, or you will wind up with half being undercooked and the other half being mushy.
1 sweet onion
1 green pepper
Tomatoes (diced, crushed, canned, whatever, as long as they are in pourable form)
Some dried red peppers (enough to suit your taste)
Minced garlic
Textured vegetable protein
Carob or cocoa powder
Liquid Smoke (if you don't know what this is, you gotsta learn, sucka)
Chili powder

Note: I'm using a fairly regular-sized crock pot here, other size vessels will change the amount of ingredients.

You will have to let the beans soak for at least 8 hours if you want them to cook right. I poured them in a crock pot of cold water early Monday evening. Tuesday morning, I turned the crock pot on, set it at "Low," and went to work.

When I got back from work, I noticed that the crock pot was filled to the top with beans, so I put some in a container and set it in the fridge to use for another time.

Once the beans have been cooking long enough to be soft, add your tomatoes, about 3 tablespoons of Liquid Smoke, the dried red peppers, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic, and about 1/3 cup of molasses.

Now dice your pepper and onion. I have a great knife for dicing, called an "ulu." It's a knife from Alaska, where the native peoples used it long ago to clean fish. Today, some Alaskans still use ulus but they use them to cut pizza, although some might still cut fish. Either way, if you don't have an ulu, I suggest you look into it. It is a great tool for dicing things.

Add the pepper and onion to the chili, give it a good stir and taste a little to see if you have the right amount of spice.

Now it's time for tamarind. I'm not going to say these things are easy to cook with - they can be a real pain - but here's a quick lesson in how to get the best out of them.

Tamarind pods have a hard outer shell that you can easily break. Inside is a sour/sweet gummy pulp, which covers the tamarind seeds. The gummy pulp is what you want but removing the seeds can be tricky.

I find that boiling tamarind is the best way to get rid of the seeds. To do this, you want to first fill a saucepan with about a cup of water and set it on the stove to boil. Crack open 4 or 5 tamarind pods and discard the shells and all the stringy parts from around the pulp. Put the tamarinds in the pan and let them boil down for a few minutes, checking occasionally so as not to burn the pulp. You will wind up with a syrupy/tamarindy soup.

Pour the boiled tamarind through a strainer into your chili. Give the stainer a few shakes so you get all the good syrup out. This is going to add a tangy flavor to your chili.

After the tamarind comes one of the more storied ingredients, one which can make more difference than some realize - the chocolate. I like to use about 1/2 cup of carob powder in my crock pot. Cocoa powder works, too, just be careful it's not "dutched" or has sugar added. Sugar is not what you are looking for here, it's the natural flavor of the roasted carob or cocoa beans. You don't want to add too much that the flavor is overpowering, though. Add a little chocolate, stir, taste test, and repeat if necessary. After you add your chocolate, stir the chili up until there is no powder still glomming on to your spoon.

The chili is almost done except for one last thing, the meat, except I'm not using meat, I'm using textured vegetable protein (TVP) which adds an incredibly similar texture without the ethical or dietary concern. You have to figure that TVP will double in size when fully saturated with liquid so don't add too much or your pot will overflow. But, you can also use the TVP to soak up excess liquid. If you chili is runnier than it should be, maybe you should use a little more TVP. I use about 1 1/2 cups in my chili but I try to go heavy on everything else, first. After you add the TVP, stir the chili up again and let it sit for another hour or two. This may seem like it takes forever but believe me, it's worth it.

When the time has come, or you can't wait any longer, gra the biggest bowl you can find and dish yourself up some chili. Some people like sour cream, others like cheese. I'm using a dairy-free version of both in the picture below.

If you can't find enough willpower to experiment with something that takes two days to make, you've got no business holding that spoon in your hand. There is really no easy way to screw up chili if you ask me. And, if you do screw it up, you probably wanted to in the first place.