Three Bean Salad

   This classic American Three Bean Salad is lighter than many of the recipes out there, but it’s the best one I’ve had.  Filling and tangy, with plenty of protein, this salad travels well.  The fresh, raw crunch of the celery and shallot are a great contrast with the silky beans.  Three Bean Salads have supposedly been around since the 1800’s, and possibly became so popular because they needed little refrigeration, and hence were often brought to picnics and outings.  Serve with a slotted spoon so as to drain off most of the marinade.

THREE BEAN SALAD

Makes about 8 to 10 servings?

INGREDIENTS
15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed,  reserve 3 Tablespoons of bean liquid
15 oz. can green beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can yellow wax beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium-to-large stalk celery, diced fine
1 large shallot  chopped fine,  or 1/3 of a medium white onion
1/3 Cup white vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 Cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
pinch cayenne  (a pinch = 1/16th teaspoon)

DIRECTIONS
Take three Tablespoons of bean liquid from the can of kidney beans, and set aside.  In a large non-metal bowl and with a wooden spoon, gently mix the green beans, wax beans, celery and onion.  In a separate small bowl or glass, whisk together the bean liquid, vinegar, oil, sugar, and seasonings.  Add the rinsed-and-drained kidney beans and the vinegar dressing to the green-bean mixture.  Fold this salad gently with a wooden spoon to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.  Stir gently with wooden spoon before serving (we are trying not to mash the kidney beans).  Serve with a slotted spoon so as to drain most of the marinade off and back into the serving bowl.

Notes:  This would also be good in a salad-in-a-jar situation.  For more salad ideas, check out the Salad category on this site.

Easy Blueberry Sauce

IMG_2946     If you have a bumper crop or windfall of extra blueberries, you could freeze them for smoothies or pies, or you can make this fabulous easy blueberry sauce.  It can be used on pancakes, or vegan ice cream, stirred into vegan cream cheese for bagels, swirled into vegan cheesecake batter, etc.

EASY BLUEBERRY SAUCE

Makes about one pint

INGREDIENTS
2-1/2 Cups fresh blueberries, washed
1/3 Cup plus 3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
lemon zest from one lemon  (optional)
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
Set aside 1/2 Cup of the blueberries, and the vanilla.  In a blender, add all other ingredients and blend until fairly smooth.  In a small saucepan, stirring often over medium heat, bring blueberry mixture to a boil.  Immediately turn heat down a click or two, and add reserved blueberries.  Cook at a low boil for two minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.  Stir in vanilla, let cool, and chill.  Use or freeze.

Notes:  If you let the raw blended mixture sit around without cooking it, it could clump, maybe from the pectin.  If that happens, you can re-blend or use a potato masher.
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Lemonana

IMG_2104     We had frozen “Limonana” (Lemonana) at Dizengoff in Philadelphia recently and I was struck by the herbal flavor of it, and by how well it went with their very excellent hummus.  Lemonana is basically lemonade with a generous dose of mint, and it’s been called the national drink of Israel.  This aint your Grandma’s lemonade–it’s assertively tart with a divine herbal edge.  It can be made in a good variety of ways, but I know they make a mint syrup at Dizengoff, and they choose to serve it frozen.  I looked at a bunch of Lemonana online and developed this easy recipe, which tastes a lot like the one at Dizengoff.  I’m convinced, however, that Dizengoff uses a secret ingredient–some savory herb or something.  I’ll be trying that in future, but in the meantime, this is so good and refreshing that I’m satisfied.

LEMONANA

Serves:  2 to 3

Mint Syrup
1 Cup water
1 Cup sugar
1.5 oz. fresh mint
Combine water and sugar in a very small saucepan and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and wait 10 minutes for the syrup to cool slightly.  Stir in fresh mint, cover and let steep for 15-30 minutes.  Remove and discard mint leaves or strain syrup through a mesh sieve and allow to come to room temperature.  Store in a sealed glass jar or bottle in refrigerator for up to one month.

Lemonana
1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 Cup water
2/3 Cup mint syrup
2 drops orange blossom water  (optional)
20-30 ice cubes

DIRECTIONS
To a blender, add lemon juice, water, mint syrup and orange blossom water, and stir.  Add ice and blend until frozen, adding a little more ice if necessary.  Taste.

Notes:  My ice cubes are those smaller crescent-shaped ice “cubes” that come out of an ice dispenser in my freezer.  You may need more ice than this, unless you’re using the old-fashioned, big rectangular ice cubes.  Any leftover mint syrup can also be used in iced tea, of course.  To save time, make mint syrup ahead and have it well chilled.  Two photos of Dizengoff below.  Dizengoff has a cult following for their hummus and their pita bread.
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Thyme-Roasted Grapes and Cheese on Grilled Bread

IMG_1668     Thyme-Roasted Grapes and Cheese on Grilled Bread is one of those recipes that’s almost too good to be true.  Quick, easy, elegant and especially delicious.  The earliest origin of roasted grapes I could find online was around 2004.  Here, we’re using vegan cheese, because nobody has to die so we can have really good food.  Having a sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy appetizer is wonderful, but knowing it’s also good for your body and the planet and the animals is priceless!

THYME ROASTED GRAPES AND CHEESE ON GRILLED BREAD

Makes enough for 2 to 4 people, for appetizers

INGREDIENTS
1 lb. seedless red grapes
2 ciabatta loaves, or a baguette
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
spreadable vegan cheese, such as Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread.  Or, Miyoko’s CreameryTreeline, etc.   Or even just Tofutti Cream Cheese (non-hydrogenated).  Any of them should work.

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 Celsius).  Line baking dish with parchment paper.  In a mixing bowl, place grapes, olive oil, sea salt and thyme, and fold gently with a wooden spoon to coat the grapes.  Tip ingredients into prepared baking dish and roast for 15 minutes or so, until grapes are a bit shriveled but still juicy.  Set aside.  Also set out your vegan cheese so it can warm up a bit while you prepare the toasts.

Slice ciabatta loaves in half the long way so you wind up with two wide/flat paddles, or if using a baguette, slice into rounds.  If grilling, brush bread with olive oil on both sides.  If baking in oven, brush oil on just the cut sides.  Grill bread 1 to 2 minutes per side–do not walk away, as it can burn quickly.  If baking bread, have oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 Celsius) and bake for about 7 minutes, keeping an eye on it.  Smear bread with vegan cheese and garnish with thyme-roasted grapes.  Serve.

Notes:  If using a good nut cheese, this can easily be a main meal, especially if served with a salad.  I used the Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread (made from almond milk) in the Chive flavor.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

IMG_2479    This Greek and Italian style Pasta Salad is simple to make, but deceptively complex in flavors.  It’s very versatile–you can make the basic salad and add or subtract whatever you like, or whatever you have on hand.  Perfect for a barbecue or picnic and especially good in summer.  With the beans, it’s great as a main dish too.   I make this at least once every summer, and it’s developed over the years.

MEDITERRANEAN PASTA SALAD

Serves about 6 as a main dish, or about 8 as a side.  (?)

INGREDIENTS
For the dressing:
1/4 Cup white Balsamic vinegar  (or red wine vinegar)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed and minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram (optional)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon grainy mustard from a jar  (Dijon style, or spicy brown, etc.)
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Basic Salad
2 Cups pasta cooked  (measure before cooking)
15 oz. can Cannelini beans  (or other white beans)
1 red bell pepper, diced fine
1/4 Cup sun-dried tomatoes chopped
1/4 Cup Kalamata olives chopped
2 Tablespoons capers, chopped
1/2 Cup chopped artichoke hearts
1/4 Cup diced red onion  (I use Pickled Red Onions)
2-inch piece of preserved lemon, minced into oblivion  (optional)
(or just use the zest of a lemon)

Other possible additions:
cooked broccoli florets
fresh raw corn off the cob
raw cucumber, seeded and diced
chopped fresh parsley
chopped fresh spinach

Optional Garnishes:
1 avocado, diced
1 large garden tomato, cut up and salted
toasted pine nuts

DIRECTIONS
Make dressing and pour into a large bowl.  Drain and rinse beans and set them aside.   As you chop ingredients, add them to the dressing so they start to marinate.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta and add to the dressing bowl.  With a wooden spoon, mix all bowl ingredients.  Fold the beans in gently.  If not serving right away, store in refrigerator.  Let salad come to room temperature before serving.  Garnish before serving, with fresh tomatoes, or avocado, toasted pine nuts, etc.

Notes:   Use smaller pastas, such as penne or fusilli, etc.  If you want to add broccoli florets (fresh or frozen), blanch them for two minutes in simmering water, and then rinse under cold water in a colander.  If you want to add fresh garden tomatoes, add just before serving (do not chill the tomatoes).  If using avocado, add just before serving (so it doesn’t turn brown).  Trader Joe’s has good artichoke hearts in a jar.  I make about a pint of Preserved Lemon once a year and then it’s on hand.

Grilled Teriyaki Tofu Steaks

IMG_2133    This vegan Teriyaki is great for the grill, or you can fry it up in a pan.  You can use this Teriyaki Sauce on tofu steaks, or tempeh or vegan meats, such as a vegan burger served with a ring of grilled pineapple on top, etc.  We like the leftovers in sandwich wraps for lunch, tucked in with shredded kale or lettuce, pickled onions, Vegenaise, and grated carrots.  This is my Dad’s teriyaki sauce that we grew up with.  As a young military man, he would go to this little mom-and-pop place in Monterey, California.  He loved their teriyaki and asked the nice Japanese lady there for the recipe.  She revealed the recipe to him (he was exceedingly handsome) and luckily for us, he wrote it down all those decades ago.  To grill tofu, make sure your grill grate is clean and smooth–I rub it with a wire brush, or a steel wool pad and then rinse it clean with the hose. Once the grill is hot, take tongs and dip a wad of folded paper towel into a dish of cooking oil, and swab the grill grate before adding the tofu, and repeat when turning the tofu.  You also want to make sure there’s a little oil in your marinade.  Soak your skewers for hours, and use two skewers per piece of tofu (for stability).

GRILLED TERIYAKI TOFU STEAKS

Serves:  3 to 4

INGREDIENTS
16 oz. block of Extra-Firm tofu,  pressed and drained
 for Teriyaki Sauce
1/2 Cup soy sauce or tamari sauce
1/2 Cup sugar  (not brown sugar)
1/2 -inch piece ginger root grated
1 jigger sake or gin or whiskey  (a jigger = a shot, or 1.5 oz. or 44.3 ml)
     (I use a mini bottle from the liquor store = 50 ml)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic pressed, or crushed and chopped
1 Tablespoon cooking oil  (not canola)  (I used peanut oil this time)

DIRECTIONS
Soak slender wooden skewers in water overnight, or for several hours.  Press and drain tofu.  Stir all sauce ingredients together until sugar is dissolved.  Slice tofu thickness in half.  Then cut each piece into two equal rectangles.  Soak tofu steaks in marinade over night, or for several hours, turning them over at least 2 or 3 times.  Before grilling, skewer each piece of tofu using two skewers, so the tips of the skewers protrude out the other end just a bit.  Make sure grill is very clean and smooth, and oil the hot grill before adding the tofu.  Grill each side.  Or, pan fry in a non-stick skillet on medium heat, until a nice caramelized sear is achieved.

Notes:  You can also marinate sliced tempeh.  I use organic Tamari sauce, but in Hawaii, Kikkoman soy sauce is the favorite, and many locals use the Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce, which is good, and my Dad is a Kikkoman man, of course.  Since the original recipe did call for “a jigger” of any of the three alcohols, I used gin this time for that juniper-berry flavor, but I think my Dad usually used sake or whiskey.  The original recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon MSG, which I eliminated.
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Vegan Raspberry Oat Bars

These vegan Raspberry Oat Bars are delicious and easy.  Elegant enough for high tea, but (wrapped in wax paper and eaten out of hand) rustic enough for a picnic.  The flavor reminds me of the beautiful raspberry cookies we had in Amsterdam.   On this site, there is also a vegan version of the Ottolenghi Raspberry Oat Bars.

VEGAN RASPBERRY OAT BARS

INGREDIENTS
(for crust and crumb)
1.5 Cups flour (any combination of all-purpose, whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat)
3/4 Cup brown sugar
1.25 Cups rolled oats (and/or granola)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1.5 sticks Earth Balance Buttery Sticks

3/4 Cup seedless raspberry jam  (Dickinsons’s brand has great flavor.)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place vegan butter out to soften a bit.  Line an 8-9 inch square baking pan each way with parchment paper extending up the sides of the pan (this will help you lift the bars out onto a flat surface for cutting).   Or just generously grease the pan and place it in the fridge.

In a medium bowl, dry whisk all dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to butter, and use pastry cutter to incorporate until there is no powdery texture left.  Reserve 1.25 Cups scant of the crumbles/dough and put aside.  Press remaining dough gently into the pan with the back of a spoon, or your fingers.  Bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven and set pan on rack to cool for 7 minutes.

With a spoon, spread jam on warm crust.  Crumble the remaining crust mixture on top of the jam.  Bake 15 minutes more.  Remove from oven and cool pan on rack.  Chill and cut into squares.

Notes:  I used Whole Wheat Pastry Flour.  You can substitute in a cup of granola for the oats.  And/or mix 2-3 Tablespoons of sweetened flake coconut into the jam before spreading.  You can also add 1/16th teaspoon of almond extract to the jam, if you want to gild the lily.

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

For the 4th of July, I made this Summer Berry Cobbler with Vanilla Bean Whipped Creme by Chloe Coscarelli.  The cobbler was good and easy, but really, it’s the Coconut Vanilla Bean Whipped Creme that’s AMAZING.  It’s easy and quick, could be used on a multitude of desserts, and it’s delicious.  Rich but light, it has the faintest hint of lush coconut essence in with the natural vanilla bean.  Chef Chloe was the first vegan to win a Cupcake Wars on the Food Network (Doron Petersan of Sticky Fingers Bakery in D.C. also won a different episode).   Anyway, I actually love the cobbler/crisp posted previously on this site, but Chloe’s cobbler is good in a different way.  Hers has an almost shortbread quality to it, and of course, any seasonal fruits can be mixed and/or substituted.

Vegan Vanilla Bean Whipped Creme

INGREDIENTS
14 oz. can of full-fat coconut milk, chilled. Thai Kitchen or Whole Foods 365 are brands recommended by Chef Chloe.
Seeds from one vanilla bean (slit and scrape the bean)
2/3 Cup powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)

DIRECTIONS
Chill the coconut milk in the fridge for an hour or more. You can also give it a head start by putting it in the freezer for 20 minutes, like I did.
Chill bowl and whisk of stand mixer in the freezer for 30 minutes. I just used a medium-sized mixing bowl and the beaters from my little hand mixer.
Scrape the cream from the top of the coconut milk can, and discard the remaining liquid. Or save it for a curry or something.
Add all ingredients to the chilled bowl and mix with chilled beaters a minute or two until fluffy.
Store in refrigerator.

Vegan Meatloaf – Hilo Style

IMG_3045     I adapted this delicious vegan meatloaf from my Auntie Pat’s Hawaiian-style recipe.  I also added in my Mom’s favorite–a surprise layer of green olives in the center.  A nice feature of this recipe is that the tomato soup makes a built-in gravy.  I serve it with my own simple, twice-baked stuffed potatoes.  A salad is nice too, but there are already plenty of carrots and onions hidden inside this decadent meatloaf.  This dish is perfect for picky eaters who want real comfort food.

Vegan Meatloaf – Hilo Style

Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS
1 pkg. Gimme Lean, Ground Beef Style
Ener-G egg replacer to equal one egg
2 heaping Tablespoon Vegenaise mayonnaise
1 rounded Tablespoon Hoisin sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
3 Tablespoons catsup (ketchup)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup finely-grated carrots (about three carrots)  (I use a food processor)
2 slices sandwich bread, soaked quickly in water and lightly squeezed, then torn apart.  (or, instead of bread, use 1/4 Cup rolled oats plus 2 Tablespoons golden flax meal)
2 Tablespoons Lipton Onion Soup mix, dry  (plus a little more to sprinkle on top)

1 can tomato soup  (I used Health Valley brand, low-sodium)
Optional: 5-10 green olives, thinly sliced
Optional: 5 or 10 sliced fresh mushrooms, to taste

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.   Set aside tomato soup, olives and mushrooms.   With an electric mixer, mix well the rest of the ingredients.
Pour ½ of the can of tomato soup on bottom of loaf pan.
Put half of the loaf mixture in pans and press with back of spoon.
Optional: scatter sliced olives and/or mushrooms on top of this bottom layer of loaf.
Put the 2nd half of the loaf mixture in the pan.   Pour rest of soup on top.
Optional:  Scatter a few sliced fresh mushrooms on top (I do).
Scatter some remaining dried onion bits from soup mix packet on top, trying not to put  the powdered salty part of the mix on.  Cover tightly with tin foil to avoid leakage.  Place loaf pan on baking sheet and bake 1 hour or more, until bubbling at edges.  It might take one hour and 15 minutes, especially if chilled.

  Bottom layer topped with olives.

Notes:  If you don’t have the Lipton Onion Soup Mix, add some dried minced onions and a sprinkle of salt on top instead.  Another thing you can do, if you’re cooking for two, or you want to freeze some or give some away, is use four of those mini quick-bread foil pans that you buy at the grocery store.  Usually, you can buy them in a pack of five (each pan is approx. 5.63″ length by 3.19″ width by 1.95″ depth).