STRAWBERRY CHIA JAM

  This quick-and-easy Strawberry Chia Jam intensifies the strawberry flavor while being healthier than most of the jams on the market.  It’s one of those gorgeously-simple foods.  The texture (as written) is a cross between a jam and a sauce, making it super versatile, but it’s easily made firmer by the addition of another Tablespoon of chia seeds.  I chose to make this jam with strawberries because strawberries already have tiny seeds, but you can choose any fruit you like.  The way I made it, it can be spread on toast, spooned over vegan yogurt or cheesecake, drizzled on oatmeal, stirred into lemonade, dolloped on strawberry shortcake, etc.  I froze some  so I could preserve the flavor of Spring.

STRAWBERRY CHIA JAM

Makes enough to fill two 8-ounce jars and then some

INGREDIENTS
3 Cups chopped fruit
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice  (yes, fresh tastes better)
1/3 Cup organic sugar
1 Tablespoon chia seeds  (or 2 if you want it thicker)

DIRECTIONS
Wash and prepare fruit, cutting away any bad parts, leaves and stems.  Leave berries otherwise whole and add them to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, until fruit breaks down and gives off syrupy liquid.  Mash the fruit with a potato masher, or if you don’t have one, the bottom of a canning jar or heavy glass tumbler.  Leave lumps, so it’s rustic and beautiful.  Stir in lemon juice and sugar.  Taste it to make sure it’s to your liking.  Stir in chia seeds.  Let it sit and cool, and try to not to eat it out of the pot.  Use within a week, or freeze.

NOTES:  This recipe is flexible, but these measurements above really hit the spot for us.  If using larger fruit, pit and chop it.  Next time, I’ll add the zest of the lemon.  The health benefits of chia are many–fully digestible and energy-boosting, they were an important food for the Incas centuries ago.  Chia adds antioxidants, fiber, protein, omega-3s and calcium to foods, while not interfering with the flavor of the main ingredient.  While this jam is not sugar-free, the chia seeds make you feel more satiated.  For another chia recipe, try my Chia Fresca.  And if you’re a real health nut, there’s also Chia Breakfast Porridge.  There is also a great Quick Freezer Jam on this site, that uses agar agar as a thickening agent.  Other related recipes include Strawberry Rhubarb Compote.

Easy Cold Brew Coffee in A Mason Jar

img_3207     With all the Cold Brew coffee on grocery store shelves and in coffee shops, I can never find any decaf cold brew.  I also wanted something without syrups in it.  So after combining tips from several youtube videos, here’s an easy way to get smooth, delicious cold brew at home without any fancy equipment.  This quick method makes a smooth concentrate that you can dilute with water, ice or any plant milk.  I like coconut creamer in mine, and about 1/2 teaspoon of agave syrup.  This will last about a month in the fridge.  More photos below.

EASY COLD BREW COFFEE IN A MASON JAR

Makes about a quart

INGREDIENTS
3/4 Cup freshly-ground coffee beans
water

DIRECTIONS
For cold brew, we want a medium grind.  I have the simplest little old $20 Krups coffee grinder that I also use for spices.  Place the beans in the Krups and pulse 12 times for a basic medium grind, waiting about one second between each pulse.  This might look a little bit coarser than you’re used to, but don’t worry about it.

Place grinds in jar and add filtered water, filling it almost to the top, stopping when the water is about 1 inch below the jar threads.  Place lid firmly on jar and tilt/invert jar gently a couple of times to mix the grinds with water.  Place jar in fridge for at least 16 hours, up to 24 hours.

Now strain the brew a couple of times.  The first time, strain through a sieve to get out the large particles.  When straining, tip the jar gently and slowly so as to leave most of the saturated grinds sludge on the bottom of the jar.  The second straining can be done through a paper coffee filter, changing the filter once or twice when the dripping slows way down, but be warned this is a bit time consuming.  Cheesecloth might be faster but you also might wind up with some tiny fibers in the coffee, not sure.  What I do is filter it through a nylon nut-milk bag and it’s done in 15 seconds.  There are many nut milk bags to choose from on amazon.com.

Notes:  I prefer freshly-ground organic coffee for smoothest flavor.
img_3196  This Medium grind was achieved by PULSING a simple Krups coffee grinder 12 times.
img_3198  After chilling in fridge for 16 hours, there’s a thick “sludge” at the bottom.”  You will carefully strain the cold brew, while trying not to disturb this sludge.  This is about how full the jar should be.
img_3201  First strain.
img_3203  Second strain.  If you don’t have a nut milk bag, or cheesecloth, dampen a paper coffee filter and use that.  It will be slow, and you will have to change the filter once or twice.  Do other things while it’s dripping.  Unbleached coffee filters are best.

Anti-Aging Smoothie with Red Grapes and White Mulberries

IMG_1653     Right now, organic grapes are plentiful and so I bought a bunch on sale.  Froze half of them and this resveratrol-bomb smoothie was born.  It has the summery grape flavor I loved as a kid, when I would eat grape popsicles and grape slushies.  This is natural, bright grape flavor in a delicious treat that makes a healthy breakfast too.  Red grape skins contain resveratrol, and so do the white mulberries.  Maqui powder is made from berries that have the most antioxidants of any fruit ever tested to date.  The grapes are naturally sweet, but if you’ve got a sweet tooth, I threw in an optional Medjool date.

ANTI-AGING SMOOTHIE WITH RED GRAPES AND WHITE MULBERRIES

Makes 1 medium smoothie or two small smoothies

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup frozen red grapes
1/4 Cup dried white mulberries
1 teaspoon freeze-dried maqui powder
1 Medjool date, pit removed (optional)
1/2 Cup coconut water
2 two-inch pieces frozen banana
1 Cup ice

DIRECTIONS
Blend everything but the ice.  Add ice and blend again until smooth.

Notes:  This is also good with granola sprinkled on top. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you can put the coconut water, mulberries and date in the blender and let it sit for 5 minutes, to soften the ingredients.  Don’t let it sit longer than 5 minutes, or the mulberries will thicken too much.  As with chia seeds, smoothies that contain mulberries should be consumed within an hour for the best texture.  Grapes are part of the Dirty Dozen and can have up to 50 pesticides, so organic is best.  Wash and dry your grapes and freeze them on a dinner plate before putting them in container(s).

Vegan Hollandaise using The Vegg

IMG_0420    This quick and easy vegan Hollandaise Sauce kind of blew my mind–it was so authentically good.  I put it on asparagus, and made vegan Eggs Benedict with it, but I can see where it would be good on a variety of vegetables, or just to dip toast points in.  You whip this up in the blender–so much easier than traditional Hollandaise, and cruelty free!    p.s. This is cholesterol-free too.

VEGAN HOLLANDAISE SAUCE USING THE VEGG

Makes approximately 2 Cups

INGREDIENTS
2 Tablespoons of The Vegg powder
1/4 Cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, melted
1/4 Cup Reduced Fat Vegenaise
3 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice
1.5 Cups to 2 Cups hot water (not boiling)
1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch cayenne, or 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Into a blender, put 1.5 Cups of the hot water and The Vegg powder and blend until smooth.  Add in all other ingredients except the vegan butter, and blend again.  Melt butter in microwave at 10-second intervals–do not overheat the butter or it might separate.  Slowly add melted butter to blender, and blend again until glossy.  Serve.

If the Hollandaise starts to set up or get too thick, add some of the remaining water, a Tablespoon at a time.  Store in fridge.  To reheat, add a little water, heat and re-blend, or whisk in saucepan.

Notes:  To make vegan Eggs Benedict, extra-firm Silken tofu is good to fry up, as it has the consistency of over-easy eggs.  The Vegg really tastes and looks like egg yolks and even has that slightly-sulfury smell.  Home cooks and chefs all over the world are doing amazing things with The Vegg.  If you don’t have The Vegg, I suppose you could substitute in nutritional yeast and a bit of kala namak (black salt), but I have not tried this yet.  This recipe is adapted from this post and this post.  As I make this in future, I’ll try cutting some fat out of it, and start by reducing 1 Tablespoon of butter and 1 Tablespoon of mayo.  Should be fine.

IMG_0414  I already put this on my Instagram, but will add it here.  I prefer thicker asparagus, but make sure to peel the bottoms of the stalks with a potato peeler to remove stringy texture.  Meaty but tender.

Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris

IMG_0281    If you can’t tell by my Instagram, I’m currently a bit obsessed with Superfood Smoothies  by  Julie Morris.  To date, I’ve made eleven of the smoothies from this book and am crazy about some of them.  My favorite so far is the Pistachio Cherry,  with the Lucuma Macadamia coming in at a close second.  Sometimes we want a lighter, fruity smoothie for breakfast, and then a creamy rich smoothie for an afternoon snack.  Some of these smoothies are on the level of luscious desserts but are actually good for you, body and soul.  Superfood Smoothies has opened my eyes to a whole new world of true superfood ingredients, such as Maca, Maqui, White Mulberries, Goji Berries, Hemp Protein Powder, etc.  I started out buying one superfood per week, and found them to be cost effective in that most of them had long expiration dates–some up to two years.  And a little goes a long way on most of them.  For example, even 1/4 teaspoon of camu berry powder is effective.  Each superfood is profiled in the front, with tips on what form to buy it in, how to store it and the exact benefits.  Each recipe has a row of simple graphic symbols above it, to indicate its bonus benefits (such as a little red heart for cardiovascular health).  There’s a Smoothies by Benefit Index in the back so you can tailor the smoothies to your needs, like Bone Strength, Low Calorie, Protein, etc., and all the smoothies have multiple benefits.   Julie Morris is a firm believer that smoothies must taste good, even when incorporating vegetables like beets or broccoli.   Although I juice a couple of times a week, this gorgeous book has me excited to try new smoothies.  To see more from Julie Morris, check out her other superfood cookbooks on amazon, or check out her Youtube channel.
IMG_0285  Grapefruit Pomegranate
IMG_0329  Cacao Mocha with Soyatoo Rice Whip on top
IMG_0275Orange Goji

Avocado Toast

IMG_1825    Yes, Avocado Toast is a thing.  If you’ve already had Avocado Toast, you know how good it is.  If you haven’t, get thee to a kitchen pronto.  Lots of people claim they invented Avocado Toast, it’s all over the internet and in foodie magazines, and famously on the menu at Café Gitaine in New York City.  There’s something rustically beautiful about this dish, and it’s so delicious that I’ve eaten it for lunch three days in a row.  Don’t forget the lemon–it makes it sing!

AVOCADO TOAST

INGREDIENTS
whole grain bread
avocados  (approx. one small-to-medium avocado per person)
extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
black pepper
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice  (lemon is a must, in my opinion)

DIRECTIONS
Toast whole-grain bread.  Cover toast with slices of fresh avocado.  Drizzle lightly with extra-virgin olive oil.  Sprinkle with fine sea salt and black pepper.  Squeeze fresh lemon over the whole thing and eat while toast is still crunchy and before avocado goes brown.

NOTES:  This somehow tastes even better with whole-grain bread.  I used Fleur de sel for salt and Shallot-Pepper from Penzey’s Spices, but it still tastes fabulous with plain salt and pepper.  I would avoid kosher salt (too chemical tasting) and I wouldn’t think of mashing my avo because I prefer the almost-toothsome texture of just-ripe slices.  That being said, make sure your avocado is not overly ripe, not mushy.

Carrot Pear Almond Smoothie

IMG_1435    When I don’t have time to juice, I turn to smoothies.  After the mornings of alkalizing green juices, smoothies feel like dessert, but this is serious nutrition too.  Because I juice and blend what I’ve got on hand, it always varies, but every now and then, some serendipitous combination hits the mark and I know it’s a keeper.  Here we have the sandy sweetness of a fully-ripe D’Anjour pear with frozen banana, creamy vegan yogurt, almond milk, a little almond butter and raw carrots.  A literal pinch of ground cinnamon is very faint, but it marries them all into a happy ending.  You can play around with this–omit the banana for a slightly thinner consistency, change the nut butter, plant milk or spice, etc., but this is the way I like it.   p.s. You will not be hungry after this vegan smoothie!

CARROT PEAR ALMOND SMOOTHIE WITH A HINT OF CINNAMON

Makes enough for 2 to 4, depending on serving sizes.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 frozen banana, cut into chunks
1 ripe Anjou pear
1 large carrot,  or 2 small-to-medium carrots
1/2 Cup vegan yogurt,  plain or vanilla flavor
1 Cup almond milk
1 Tablespoon almond butter
pinch cinnamon  (1/16th teaspoon)

DIRECTIONS
Blend all, and enjoy!

Notes:  Peel and cut the bananas before you freeze them.  You could add some ice during the blending process too.  The yogurt is providing probiotics.   After drinking a smoothie, it’s a good practice to rinse your mouth well with water, to help rinse the fruit sugars off your tooth enamel.

Seitan Bacon

IMG_0623    This Vegan Bacon Seitan is adapted from a combination of two recipes–this one from Vegan Nosh,  and this one from Veggie in Milwaukee.    You make two simple doughs that are easy to work with, stack them atop each other, bake and slice.   We had BLTs on sourdough bread with Old Virginia heirloom tomatoes, and we agreed this tastes more authentic than the store-bought vegan bacons we’ve tried.  It’s been years since I had a piece of bacon, but I remember it well.  I tweaked the original recipes–added some smoked paprika, changed amounts, added some oil (it is bacon, after all), etc.  This is meaty, smoky and chewy, and the best part is, nobody got hurt.

VEGAN BACON SEITAN

Red Dough
1 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
1/4 Cup soy flour  (or garbanzo flour)
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
2 teaspoons regular paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2/3 Cup warm water
3 Tablespoons Tamari
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
2 Tablespoons peanut oil

White Dough
1/2 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
2 Tablespoons garbanzo flour  (or soy flour)
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 Cup warm water
1 Tablespoon peanut oil

DIRECTIONS
Red Dough:  In a medium mixing bowl, dry whisk together the dry ingredients.
Separately combine all the wet ingredients and stir or whisk until well blended.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until mixed.
Shape red dough into a fat log and cut into three equal pieces.

White Dough:  In a small mixing bowl, dry whisk together the dry ingredients.
To the dry ingredients, add in the water and oil, and stir with a spoon until mixed.
Divide the white dough into two equal pieces.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and put one piece of red dough on it.
Cover the red dough with another piece of plastic wrap.
Gently roll out dough until it’s about 1/4-inch tall.  I suggest making it approx. 6″ x 7″.
Spray a piece of tin foil with cooking spray and transfer the flattened dough onto it.  I did this by picking up the piece of plastic and flipping it onto the foil.
Repeat the rolling process, alternating the white and red doughs, and stacking them onto the first piece that you laid onto the foil.  Don’t try to make them perfect.
Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the stacked doughs.
Rest a medium-heavy book on top of the plastic for about 20 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap, and wrap the whole slab of bacon in tin foil.
On a baking sheet, bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.
Your seitan will be a bit undercooked, but this is good because it will be easier to slice, and it will pan-fry better.
Cool and slice.

When you’re ready to use the bacon:  pan fry in a non-stick skillet with a bit of vegan butter and a few sprinkles of seasoning salt.  I used McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple Seasoning for some extra bacony kick.

Notes:  It’s my understanding that you can switch up the soy and garbanzo flours.  The red dough won’t look red until you add the liquid.  Once baked, you can freeze this bacon, and it’s good crumbled on casseroles, on mac and cheeze, in tofu breakfast sandwiches, etc.
IMG_0617  After pressing, before baking.

BANANA FLAXSEED QUICK BREAD

IMG_0159     Bananas and flax seeds are some of the best egg replacers around, so there are no eggs in this recipe (not that we need them any anyway).  Flaxseed meal is simply ground up flax seeds, one of the best sources for Omega 3 essential fatty acids.  I use Florida Crystals brand brown sugar.  Florida Crystals is the first and only certified organic sugar made in the United States!  Unlike most other sugars, It’s processed without bone char or any other animal products, and it is not genetically modified.  Either way, this delectable banana bread is easy enough for kids to make, and is great either served as a dessert, or smeared with peanut butter or Earth Balance organic whipped vegan butter.  p.s.  I love walnuts and dates in this bread, but you don’t have to put them in.

BANANA FLAXSEED QUICK BREAD  (with optional walnuts and dates)

Yield:  one loaf

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 Cup Spelt flour
1 Cup Florida Crystals Brown Sugar  (packed) (or demerara)
2.5 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (or regular salt)
3/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Flax Meal
1/4 Cup Safflower oil  (or other oil)
1/2 Cup apple sauce
1/2 Cup almond milk  (or other plant milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup banana, mashed well  (approx. 2 bananas)
1/2 Cup finely chopped walnuts  (optional)
3-4 dried dates, pitted and diced (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.    Grease one regular sized loaf pan with Earth Balance Buttery Sticks.    In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
If using the walnuts and/or dates, add them to dry ingredients now, and stir.
In another bowl, mix together the plant milk, oil, applesauce, vanilla and mashed bananas.    Gradually stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, just until incorporated.
Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan.    Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.    Cool pan on a rack for 5 minutes.    Invert pan onto rack until loaf pops out, and then invert bread again, so it’s right-side-up.    Cool on rack completely.

Notes:  Stirring the walnuts and dates into the dry ingredients just before adding the wet gets them coated with flour which should help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf during baking.  In the Fall, you could replace the Cinnamon with Pumpkin Pie Spice.  I like to keep a six-pack of 4 oz. organic applesauce cups in the pantry, to replace some or all of the oil in baking recipes.  I use an old-fashioned potato masher to mash the bananas on a cutting board until they are a fine consistency.   p.s.  If you want to go crazy, add in 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric for an enhanced golden color and natural anti-inflammatory for the body.

Chia Breakfast Porridge

Here’s another recipe for the Raw category on this site.  This cereal is full of Super Foods that pack a nutritional punch, it takes less than five minutes to make and it’s very versatile–you can put any goodies you want in it.  This is a single serving, but you can easily double or triple it, and you’re getting calcium, protein with all essential amino acids, fiber, phosphorus for healthy bones and teeth, and a whole lot more.  Chia seed is an ancient and powerful food used centuries ago by the Aztec Indians for endurance running.  The chia seeds will absorb more than ten times their weight in liquid and turn into a pudding-like consistency that may surprise you at first.  So, throw everything in the bowl, go brush your teeth and wash your face, and breakfast is ready.
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Chia Breakfast Porridge

Makes one serving

INGREDIENTS
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
2 Tablespoons raisins  (or other dried fruit or berries)
1 Tablespoon Goji berries
3/4 Cup almond milk
2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds   (or raw nuts of some kind)
1/4 Cup fresh blueberries  (or chopped fresh fruit of your choice)
a pinch of ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS
Into a cereal bowl, put chia seeds, dried fruit and Goji berries.
Add almond milk and stir well to wet all the seeds.
Wait 15 minutes for the chia seeds to absorb the plant milk and turn magically into a porridge consistency.
Stir again, and top with raw pumpkin seeds or nuts,  fresh fruit,  and a pinch of cinnamon.

Notes:   The cinnamon (besides being delicious) helps regulate blood sugar levels.  Of course, you can substitute any raw nuts,  dried fruits,  fresh fruits and plant milk you like!  I’m thinking of trying warm oat milk, raw walnuts, raisins, chopped apple,  cinnamon, and a splash of maple syrup.  The possibilities are endless.

Strawberry Scones

I’d never been a big fan of scones, and now I know it’s because I never had a really good one before.  When I took my Mom to the Cotswolds, I bought us a local Cream Tea, which consists of scones, clotted cream and a pot of tea.  Well, even those scones were not great.  As an aside, this was before I went vegan and the clotted cream was so unappealing, even as a non-vegan.  Since my friend Chris is a fan of scones, I decided to give them a go.  I was after a light, slightly sweet, slightly crumbly scone, and after two tries, found success.  My taste testers, Tim and Josie, told me they’re the best scones they’ve ever had, and I know they’re the best I’ve ever had.  One guiding principle was that Food Scientist Shirley O. Corriher advises making a very wet dough for a light, airy scone.  I also used self-rising flour for its lower protein, to achieve a tender crumb.  I used no equipment, just a pastry cutter.  With this basic recipe, the flavors can always be changed to suit the seasons or taste.
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Strawberry Scones

Yield:  12 scones

INGREDIENTS
3 Cups self-rising flour  (plus more for bench flour)
1/2 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon of additional sugar (for sanding/sprinkling)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 Cup (1.5 sticks) Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1.5 Cups dried fruit  (about 10 ounces)
1 Cup vegan buttermilk  (1 Cup plant milk mixed with 1 Tablespoon vinegar)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut butter into half-inch chunks and put in fridge to chill.
Put pastry cutter in fridge.
Mix plant milk and vinegar, stir and set aside to thicken into Buttermilk.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, dry whisk self-rising flour, sugar and salt.
Using a pastry cutter, cut the chilled butter into the flour mixture, until the butter is the size of small peas.
Add dried fruit and toss to coat.
Reserve 2 Tablespoons of the buttermilk on the side (to brush the tops of the scones with).
Pour half of the remaining buttermilk into the dry mixture, and stir to see if a dough will form.
Add some of the remaining buttermilk, little by little, and realize you may not need it all.  Although the dough should be fairly wet.
Transfer dough to a lightly-floured surface and gather together.
Knead dough briefly, about 5 turns in all, adding more bench flour by the spoonful, if needed.  Do not overwork the dough!
Divide dough in half, and form each half into a disc, about one inch tall.
Cut each disc into 6 wedges.  Cut down the middle from top to bottom, and then cut a wide X across the whole.
Transfer scones to parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart.
Brush tops of scones with reserved buttermilk, and sprinkle with remaining 1 Tablespoon of sugar.
Chill the scones for about 10-15 minutes (this will help keep them from spreading on the pan, and make them lighter).
Bake until scones are golden brown on top, about 20-25 minutes.
Serve with Earth Balance Organic Buttery Spread.  Or, if you must have the cream, Mimic Creme Healthy Top is better-tasting than clotted cream!
These scones freeze beautifully.

NotesThese take about 20-30 minutes to make, not including baking time.  I used one bag of Trader Joe’s Sweetened Dried Strawberries, which, while not organic, are softer, a bit more rubbery than some of the other dried strawberries.  I cut the berries in half as they were pretty large.  I hydrated my berries in a bit of water, and then made sure to drain them very well before adding to the dry ingredients.  If you don’t drain them, you run the risk of turning your batter pink.  Hydrating the dried fruit is optional, you don’t really need to.  The bench flour is important because you’re working with a wet dough.

 

Vegan Spiced Parsnip Bread

Here’s a delicious, unusual little quick bread, perfect for Fall.  The slightly-spicy parsnips create sort of an Autumnal zucchini bread.  Due to the sugar and perhaps to the generous greasing of the loaf pan, there’s a thin caramelization on the outside of the crust that’s pleasantly chewy.  Zap it in the microwave and put a little Earth Balance vegan butter on it, and it’s surprisingly good.  Vegan Mofo 2012.
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Vegan Spiced Parsnip Bread

Makes one loaf,  serves 8-10

INGREDIENTS
1.5 Cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup white sugar
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/2 pound parsnips (about 2 medium), peeled and finely grated  (I used a little food processor for this)
1/3 Cup Safflower oil, or some other oil
2 Tablespoons flax seed meal plus 6 Tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix flax seed meal and water well, and set aside to thicken.
Generously grease a 9×5 inch or 8×4 inch loaf pan.  I generously sprayed my loaf pan with cooking spray laced with flour.
In a medium bowl, dry whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt.
In a large bowl, stir/mix together sugars, parsnips, nuts, oil, flax-seed binder liquid, and vanilla.
Add flour mixture to parsnip mixture and stir well.
Spoon batter into pan, pressing batter gently into pan with your hands.
Bake 55 minutes, until a straw or knife comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool in pan for 15 minutes.
Invert onto baking rack to cool further.

Notes:  I like to use a Caffe Latte Frother or tiny whisk for my flax seed mixtures.  My pan was 9×5 inches (regarding cooking time).  The flax seed liquid is a must, as it’s the binder in the recipe.

Banana Pecan Pancakes

OK, here’s my first recipe to kick off Vegan Mofo 2012.  I have never made a vegan pancake before, so what better time to try it.  This recipe is from Vegan Goddess Sarah Kramer, and it was in her awesome 2011 calendar.  This recipe is easy and delicious, and I could also see these going sort of Elvis; slathered with peanut butter and eaten like a sandwich with vegan bacon.  Hot damn.
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Banana Pecan Pancakes

Makes about 6 pancakes.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Cup vegan milk
1 banana
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
In a blender, blend the milk, banana(s) and vanilla until smooth.
Pour wet ingredients into flour mixture and add pecans.
Stir together until “just mixed.”
Put a little pat of vegan butter into a non-stick pan on Medium heat.
Using a 1/4 Cup measure, portion batter into pan, and cover.
Let sit on medium heat until the center starts to bubble or become sturdy.  Mine took about two minutes per side.
Flip and cook the other side until golden brown.
Repeat process until batter is gone.

Notes:  You can keep these pancakes warm in an oven set to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.  I dusted mine with powdered sugar and used this amazing maple syrup from NH, which you can easily have shipped to you.  Lars really liked these pancakes but suggested he would also like some little chunks or slices of banana in there too (he loves banana), so I’ll definitely do that next time.  A time-saving tip would be to measure out the dry ingredients into a little jar the night before.

Vegan Jam – Quick Freezer Jam

This is my first attempt at jam, so I decided to make a quick, freezer jam.  Like my rhubarb strawberry compote, this is the kind anyone can make and enjoy (or freeze) without the fear of botulism.  This recipe takes three pints of berries, but it makes a lot.   I got five 8-ounce jars out of this simple recipe, with a little left over.  It takes about an hour to make, including washing and slicing the berries, and you do need to be near the stove for about half an hour of that time.  A small price to pay for the sublime experience of this homemade jam.  It looks like rubies and has the saturated taste of sweet strawberries right from the garden.  Make sure to use organic strawberries, because the non-organic strawberries are seriously toxic, high on the Dirty-Dozen list, no joke.  I developed this recipe myself and this is only my second or third time using the agar agar.  Veganomicon has a good cranberry sauce that uses agar agar and making that gave me the inspiration to use it here.  Agar agar comes in various forms and is odorless, colorless and tasteless, and doesn’t harm anyone the way gelatin does.  One tip is that you can often find it WAY cheaper in Asian grocery stores (I have bought packets for around a dollar).  I’ve been told it has an indefinite shelf life, so it’s great to have on hand.

VEGAN FREEZER JAM – Quick Strawberry Jam

INGREDIENTS
3 pints organic strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 Cup organic sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon agar agar flakes or kanten

DIRECTIONS
Place a small plate and some metal teaspoons in the freezer (you will use these to test your jam).    In a small cup, combine agar agar flakes with lemon juice.
In a large pot, combine all ingredients over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Bring heat up to a low boil and cook, stirring often, until jam has thickened, about another 20-30 minutes.    Stir in a figure-eight pattern about every minute.
The berries will get glossier looking and feel a bit thicker, you will see the change if you pay attention.    Once you feel it’s ready, put a little on one of your frozen spoons and place that spoon back in the freezer for two minutes.  Go back and tilt the frozen spoon of jam and if the jam on the spoon is thickened and not running thinly, your jam is done.  It will continue to thicken as it cools.    Cover and refrigerate.    Put your jam into individual canning jars (I like 8 ounce jars).    Refrigerate up to three weeks, or freeze up to one year.  There is also a great Strawberry Chia Jam on this site, that is even quicker to make.

Vegan Potato, Sweet Potato and Onion Latkes

I adapted and veganized this old Martha Stewart recipe that I’ve been meaning to try for years, and it came out great.  It’s simple, and I like that you get that deep-fried effect with only a few Tablespoons of oil.  I increased the onion just a bit to get a better potato/onion ratio.  Replaced the egg and followed a couple of Latke Tips from other web sites.  Now we’re able to make these ahead, and reheat them in the oven to an even crisper effect.  These little vegan Latkes are special due to incorporating the sweet potato, and the Martha recipe advises that you could also use carrots and parsnips.  I don’t think I’d eliminate the white potato altogether, however, for structural reasons.  There are many latke videos on youtube and I chose this one from the Culinary Institute of America to share with you here.  The C.I.A. also does an eggless latke, and I knew you didn’t need the egg after making this egg-free potato galette.  After doing some reading, I realize these are not kosher for Passover due to the small amount of flour in them, but they’d be great for Hanukkah.  Supposedly, you can simply substitute matzo meal to make them kosher for Passover, but I can’t vouch for that because I haven’t tried it myself.  But then again, I’m not Jewish, I just like Latkes.  I made a quick dill sour cream with some softened Tofutti and chopped fresh dill, and it was perfect with these, and I threw some organic applesauce on the side too, which played off the sweet potatoes.  Now we can have excellent Latkes at home, and serve them to guests without having the hot-oil fuss going on.  These would be great for a breakfast, brunch, luncheon, or side dish with supper.
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Vegan Potato, Sweet Potato and Onion Latkes

Makes 18 small Latkes

INGREDIENTS
1 all-purpose Yukon Gold potato (about 10 ounces), peeled
1 sweet potato (about 10 ounces), peeled
1/3 large white onion, peeled
1 Tablespoon dry Ener-G Egg Replacer
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, or rice flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt (no kosher salt)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil for frying (not canola) (use olive, peanut or safflower, etc.)

DIRECTIONS
Put filtered water in a large non-reactive bowl (I like glass).   Add a Tablespoon of fine sea salt to this water and stir to dissolve (this will keep the potatoes from going brown).   Grate both potatoes using the largest holes of a four-sided grater, immediately placing the grated potatoes into the salt water as you go.   Let the grated potatoes sit in the salted water for about 20 minutes while you work.

Grate the onion and place it in a small dish and cover it with a napkin (to spare yourself from the fumes).   Dry whisk flour, egg replacer, sea salt and pepper to thoroughly combine.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.   Place grated potatoes into a sieve or fine colander, let drain and press the water out well.   Rinse your mixing bowl and wipe it dry.

Place a Tablespoon of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, and let it heat.
Place potatoes back into the dry mixing bowl and stir to combine thoroughly with the grated onions.   Add in the flour mixture and stir thoroughly again.

With a heaping Tablespoon, shape Latke mixture into discs and place into hot oil in skillet, and do not crowd the pan.   Let latkes cook for three minutes and then turn them only once.   Flatten latkes lightly with a spatula and let cook 3 minutes on second side.  If skillet becomes dry, add a Tablespoon of oil, but you should only need 2-3 Tablespoons total by the time you’re done.   Place finished latkes on paper towels.

Keep warm in a 250 degrees Fahrenheit oven, until ready to serve.
Or, you can place cooled latkes in the fridge and then reheat in the oven on 350 degrees Fahrenheit, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, for 10-15 minutes.
If you must freeze them, reheat from frozen.

Notes:  The pale yellow color of the Yukon Gold potato fools the eye into thinking there is more oil in the latkes than there actually is.  The acid in the onion helps keep the potatoes from turning brown.  The salt water also helps the latkes crisp up, and it helps keep the latkes from browning too quickly in the pan.  Baking latkes after frying them actually creates a crisper latke.  The best ratio for latkes is 5 parts potato to 2 parts onion.  Have a few spidery “legs” sticking out of your latkes, so they’re not too round and perfect, to increase the texture variation, and give some good crunchy bits.  Turn latkes only once in pan, to reduce oil absorption.  My own preference is not to use canola oil for frying because even fresh canola oil can sometimes taste metallic or fishy on high heat.  My own preference is not to use kosher salt due to its metallic, chemical taste.  Supposedly, you can substitute part of the potato for any starchy vegetable, such as beets, zucchini, etc.

Classic Bloody Mary Mix

I adapted this mix from an old Martha Stewart magazine from December 2005.   After some searching, I did find the original recipe online.  I can tell you from experience that this is delicious without alcohol too.  It’s quick to throw together and you can make it a few days ahead.  I just recently put a batch in a nice Mason jar and sent it to a party as a hostess gift.  To fill up a quart jar, you might need to add a bit more tomato juice, but this recipe is so flexible, it doesn’t matter.  Here’s the way I like to do it.
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CLASSIC BLOODY MARY MIX

Serves: 8 drinks if using alcohol (vodka)

For each drink, combine three ounces of mixer with one ounce of vodka, and pour into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with celery stick and/or lemon wedge. You can salt the rims of the glasses with celery salt or fine sea salt, too, if you like.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups store bought tomato juice

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish (Kelchner’s plain is vegan)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Juice from half of a lemon
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (I like Wizard brand)
3/4 teaspoon hot sauce (I use Tabasco)

DIRECTIONS
Stir or whisk all ingredients together.
Pour into an airtight bottle.
Mixer can be refrigerated up to one week.

Garnish with a celery stick, lemon wedge, caper berry, or all three. Dip the very rim of glass in the tomato juice and then into a small plate of celery salt, for a savory edge.

Note: Delicious without alcohol too! For some reason, I can only find the Kelchner’s plain horseradish in the seafood section of my local grocery store, not on the main shelves. Their horseradish sauce is not vegan, but the plain horseradish is.

Buckwheat Sprouts

I received this post about buckwheat sprouts from the Food Matters site, and was amazed by the health benefits.  First of all, I thought buckwheat was a grain, but it’s not.  I really don’t care that it’s gluten-and-wheat-free, but I do care that it’s a complete source of protein, has all the B vitamins, is high in calcium, cleanses the colon, balances cholesterol, neutralizes toxins, and alkalizes the body.  As the site says, it’s also full of rutin, which is helpful for those with varicose veins or hardening of the arteries, because it actually strengthens capillary walls.  Our brains are made up of 28% lecithin and buckwheat sprouts are rich in lecithin, making this also a powerful brain food.  All in all, buckwheat sprouts are a superfood.  Buckwheat groats are simply hulled buckwheat seeds.  How easy is it to sprout buckwheat groats?  SUPER easy.  The hardest part was actually finding them, but I finally found some at Whole foods in Annapolis, although they were not organic.  There are all kinds of contraptions you can sprout with, but I love that this method only takes a fine mesh colander.  I’m going to buy a little plastic mesh colander for these because I’m guessing that over time, the metal colander will rust, not sure.  p.s.  I think this would be a fun project to do with kids of all ages.
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HOW TO MAKE BUCKWHEAT SPROUTS

Place 1.5 Cups of buckwheat groats into a bowl and cover it with 2 to 3 times as much room-temperature water.
Mix the seeds so that none are floating on top.
Allow seeds to soak for about an hour.
Rinse and drain the water in a colander and let them stand in the colander (with the colander resting over a bowl) on the counter.
Rinse 3 times per day with cool water, for two days.
When rinsing sprouts, use a little water pressure to make sure you are rinsing them wellI also shake the colander a bit to rotate the groats in the colander.
You may notice a gooey substance on the buckwheat, which is starch.  Make sure that you wash this off thoroughly.  I found no gooey substance.
Sprouts will form after only a day or two.
After a final rinse, dry the sprouts by laying them on a clean, lint-free towel.
Let sprouts dry on the counter for 8 hours or so.
Never refrigerate wet sprouts.
Sprouts are ready to use, or you can refrigerate them in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.  Here’s how to use your crop:

  • Pack sprouts into sandwiches.
  • Blend with fruits and vegetables for green drinks or smoothies.
  • Eat cold as a cereal (with nuts, dried fruit, plant milk, agave syrup or maple syrup, a sprinkle of cinnamon, etc.)
  • Sprinkle on top of other cereals.
  • Throw into salads just before eating.
  • Buckwheat sprouts are best eaten raw.

Notes:  My buckwheat groats sprouted after only one day, and by the second day the little sprouts were pretty long (see photo below).  Check out Sprout People for a LOT more info. on sprouting everything and anything.  They are also a source for organic buckwheat groats (hulled seeds).

Here are the sprouts by day two, ready to dry.

Ambrosial Vegan Granola

This is a decadent vegan granola; sweet, fragrant, and rich with fruits and nuts.  Store-bought granola pales in comparison.  I have two other granola recipes, but this one’s my favorite.  I make this for company, and give it for gifts.  This recipe fills two one-quart canning jars, so you could give one away and keep one.  I also throw this in my suitcase when I travel.   p.s. We like to raid the dried fruits and nuts section at Trader Joe’s when we’re near one.  As an aside, this granola can also be used to make these wonderful granola bars.
AMBROSIAL GRANOLA

Makes about 8 cups, or 16 servings

INGREDIENTS
2 Tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
1/3 Cup brown sugar
1/3 Cup brown rice syrup
1/3 Cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fine sea salt  (if using regular salt, use only 3/4 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 Cups rolled oats
1/4 Cup flax seed meal
1/2 Cup chopped raw pecans
1/2 Cup sliced raw almonds
1/4 Cup raw sesame seeds (optional)

1/3 Cup dried blueberries
1/3 Cup dried cherries, chopped
1/3 Cup golden raisins  (or regular raisins)
1/3 Cup shredded unsweetened coconut (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
Measure out and set fruits aside, as you will NOT be cooking them.
Into a large bowl, put oats, flaxseed meal and nuts, stir and set aside.

In a stock pot, melt vegan butter over low heat.   Add sugar, rice syrup, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and cinnamon.   Stir until well mixed and sugar is melted, do not overheat.
Add oats, flaxseed meal and nuts,  and stir until well mixed.   Spread granola mixture onto rimmed baking sheet.   Bake one hour, stirring after 30 minutes and again after 60.  It will harden more as it cools, don’t worry.   Let cool on baking sheet.  Transfer to a very large bowl, add all fruits and stir well.   Granola can be stored in airtight containers for about 3 weeks.

Nutritional Info:  Serving 1/2 Cup.  Calories 232.  Carbs 37.  Fat 8,  Protein 4.  Sodium 165.  Sugar 19.  This is with sesame seeds but without dried coconut.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins from The Joy of Vegan Baking cookbook

Blueberry Lemon Muffins  from  The Joy of Vegan Baking, were a success (see second photo below).  I did make a couple of slight changes.  First, I used sea salt instead of regular salt.  Secondly, and most importantly, I used only 1 teaspoon of baking soda, because this recipe was a bit over-leavened, especially since we have the white vinegar as our acid for the baking soda to react to.  And these muffins rose nice and high.  In order to create a “buttermilk,” I added the vinegar to the non-diary milk separately, stirred it and gave it a couple of minutes to thicken.  I added the lemon zest to the wet ingredients in order to keep it away from the baking soda until the combining of the flour mixture with the wet ingredients.  This batter just fit in my standard 12-cup muffin tin.  I had to poke a few berries into the last two cups I filled because most of the berries had poured into the other cups.  Because the cups had been filled so full, I was a bit concerned.  As I did the dishes, I peeked through the oven-door glass every now and then, and hoped these muffins would not overflow the pan.  They did not, and they are delicious.  In the end, I was glad I had chosen to use the full cup of sugar, because they were not too sweet in taste.  You may need to run a butter knife around each muffin in order to get it out of your pan, as I did, even though i had generously greased each cup with Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, which is made for baking (recipe calls for only a light greasing).  I broke one muffin open while it was still hot, and put some Earth Balance Whipped Organic Buttery Spread on it while it was still steaming, and it was wonderful.  The hint of lemon is nice, and the crumb is very tender and light.  The outside of these muffins have a very thin buttery golden crust to them.  Lars gave them a thumbs up too.

Quinoa Cereal

Here’s another great idea for breakfast; quinoa cereal.  Quinoa (keenwah)  is an ancient, whole grain that can be mixed and matched into many dishes (stuffings, salads, pilaf); or substituted for rice, pasta, bulghur, etc.  It’s gluten free, if that’s your thing, and so you could make quinoa tabouleh, for example.  Quinoa’s also a low-glycemic-index food, and provides all 8 of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.  And of course, it tastes great. This is easy to make in the morning while you’re having your tea, doing the crossword, doing dishes or making lunches, etc.

Quinoa Cereal 

Serves 1.   Double recipe for 2 or 3 people.

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup plant milk, such as WestSoy Organic Unsweetened
1/2 Cup pre-washed or rinsed quinoa, such as truRoots organic
1 Tablespoon brown sugar (or maple syrup, agave, date sugar, brown rice syrup, etc.)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Cup fresh fruit (sky’s the limit)
or a tablespoon or two of dried fruit
and a Tablespoon or two of raw nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.)

DIRECTIONS
If it is not pre-washed, then rinse quinoa.  Many are already pre-washed.
Add quinoa and plant milk into a 1 quart or 1.5 quart pot.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, and cover the pot.
Simmer, covered, until ¾ of the milk has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Stir in sugar and cinnamon (you could also add your dried fruit here).
Cook covered until almost all of the milk has been absorbed, about 10 more minutes.
I have a glass-top electric stove (not gas), so just watch it.
Stir in fresh fruit, or dried fruit, and nuts.
You can serve with additional plant milk, nuts, cinnamon and fruit.

There’s a little trick to knowing that quinoa is fully cooked, and here’s a quote from the truRoots web site:  The pale ivory seeds cook to translucent little orbs ringed with a tiny white germ thread.

Here’s an optional step for sprouting the quinoa.  If you’ve got a couple of minutes at night, and think of it, you can measure the quinoa into the pot, and just cover it with water overnight.  The next morning, dump the quinoa into a very fine sieve and rinse with clean water before preparing as usual.  I have not tried this yet and do not know how it affects cooking time.

Trader Joe’s Steelcut Oatmeal

Steel Cut Oats are somewhat time consuming to make, and yet many swear by them because they’re less processed.  I found this simple explanation online:  There are three basic types of oats. There are old-fashioned rolled oats, which are whole oats rolled flat. Then there are quick oats, which are rolled oats that have been ground up a little bit more to make them cook faster. Finally, there are the steel cut oats, where the whole raw oat was cut into smaller chunks.
The taste of the steel-cut oats (to me), is better too, sort of nutty with tiny little chewy bits.  I looked on the McCann’s Irish Oatmeal web site and the various preparations are impressive.  You can prepare it the night before and then finish cooking it in the morning.  You can cook it and stir it for 30 minutes to make porridge, and you can even make it in your rice cooker.  However, if you want quick Steel Cut Oatmeal, this Trader Joe’s product is one solution.  I really like to juice in the morning and then eat whole fruits, but once in a while, a bowl of hot oatmeal with trimmings is a real treat;  wholly satisfying, almost dessert-like.  I add some raw nuts and a tablespoon of agave nectar or Suzanne’s Just Like Honey , or my favorite maple syrup.  You can drizzle on some soy milk or soy creamer too.  Man, it’s good!  This is too pricey for everyday consumption, but again, a treat once in a while, and certainly nice for company.   The only tip I have is that you can pull one of the blocks of frozen oatmeal out of the freezer the night before and put it in the fridge, and it just cooks even quicker.  It’s worth noting that even though the box says it’s already sweetened, the sweetening is almost undetectable. Make sure to remove the plastic wrap before microwaving!   Nutrition Facts:  2 servings per box.  Per serving 150 calories, 2.5 g fat, 0 cholesterol (of course), 40 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 5 g protein.

Potato and Leek Galette with Watercress

This recipe is from Martha Stewart.  In light of her recent Vegan Show, I’ll put it here.  There are three separate video clips on that show, that you can watch.  I made this as a side dish to lunch.  I ate galettes in Paris years ago because they were cheap and good, so wanted to try this.  This recipe is not exceptional, but good.  Use the freshest potato and get it onto the plate when it’s very hot.  You should really serve it when it’s still sizzling, in my opinion.  I have a note at the bottom to put it in a hot oven if you can’t serve it right away.  One thing I learned is that with the nonstick pan, I could have put the heat higher as directed in the recipe.  I was afraid it would burn, so kept it on medium high heat once I flipped the galette.  So next time, I won’t be afraid to follow the directions and crank it up to medium-high.  I have an electric stove top, but if you have gas, you’ll want to check it more often, of course.  I think it could have been even better if it was browned a bit more.  The coolest thing is how this stuck together without any eggs or anything.  It’s slick and very French and accidentally vegan to boot!   An added note is that there are a bunch of cool videos on youtube that show how to cut and clean leeks.  They’re all different, because there are different methods.  I have a wonderful book on cooking vegetables that I used, and it’s called Vegetables by James Peterson.  There is some meat in this cookbook but it has really given me the confidence to try a lot of different vegtables over the years.  Yes, this was my first time using leeks, and I’m not kidding!  It was a snap, too.
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Potato and Leek Galette with Watercress

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
1 large russet potato, peeled and grated (1.5 cups)
1 small leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced crosswise and rinsed well
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pinch of ground or grated nutmeg (1/16th teaspoon)
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup watercress, rinsed and trimmed well
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS
Place grated potato immediately into a bowl of cold water and let it soak for 10 minutes.  This will help prevent browning.
Combine flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and set aside.
Combine lemon juice with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and set aside.
Drain potatoes well and squeeze in a clean kitchen towel to remove excess water.
Combine potato, leek and flour mixture, and stir gently but thoroughly.
Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Scatter potato mixture in skillet and press lightly with spatula to make sure it holds together.
Cook until underside is golden, about 6 minutes.
Flip the galette. I flipped mine onto the back of a baking sheet and then slid it back into the skillet.
Raise heat to medium-high and cook until underside is golden, 4 to 5 minutes.
Turn out galette.
Toss prepared watercress with lemon juice and oil, and scatter on top of galette.
Slice into 8 wedges and serve immediately.

Note: If you cannot serve the galette immediately, put it in a 275 degree Fahrenheit oven to keep it hot for a short time, but do this BEFORE sprinkling on the watercress.

Amish Vegan Baked Oatmeal

This one’s dedicated to my lovely friend Ellen, whom I ran into at the Amish Market in Easton last year.  We were standing at one particular vendor and I was lamenting how I used to like their baked oatmeal, but wouldn’t buy it because I’ve since gone vegan.  A few days later, Ellen emailed me her own recipe from a Pennsylvanian Amish Bed and Breakfast, and said everyone she makes it for asks for the recipe.  In closing, she wrote, “I trust you will be able to transform this into a vegan dish.”  And so I have, by using flax seed meal and plant milk.  I also adjusted a few other things to my own taste.  And experimented a bit with the heating/warming to make sure it was flexible, because breakfast can often turn into a looser schedule than you had planned.  The result is the sort of sinfully good one doesn’t always associate with oatmeal.  Due to the amount of fat and sugar, this is not for everyday consumption.  However, this is just perfect for company, the holidays, a special Sunday brunch, family gatherings, etc.  Thanks, Ellen!
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Amish Vegan Baked Oatmeal

Serves 6 to 8

Note:  This recipe must be refrigerated overnight.

INGREDIENTS
2 Cups organic regular rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
2 Cups plant milk, divided  (I used WestSoy Organic Unsweetened)
3 Tablespoons golden flaxseed meal
1/4 Cup safflower oil
1/2 Cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder (aluminum-free)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch nutmeg  (a pinch = 1/16th teaspoon)
1/4 Cup golden raisins
1/2 Cup finely-chopped raw nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, almonds (optional)
14 oz. can pie fruit, well drained

DIRECTIONS
Stir flaxseed meal into only one cup of the plant milk, and set aside to thicken (this is the egg replacer and binder).
Spray a covered casserole dish w/canola oil (my dish is approx. 7″x4″ inside, possibly about 2.5 quarts, but I notice many recipes call for flatter, larger dishes).
In a large bowl, mix all other ingredients except the canned fruit, and then fold in the flaxseed/milk.  Don’t forget the remaining cup of plant milk.  The mixture will look soupy, this is normal.
Gently fold in drained fruit now.  Cover.
Refrigerate overnight.
Bake covered at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for at least one hour.  I turned my oven off and left it in there to keep warm until I was ready for it, like another half an hour, with no ill effects.
Serve with toppings, such as So Delicious Dairy Free Creamer (tastes like Half n Half), fresh berries or raw nuts.

Notes:   I use Oregon brand pitted dark sweet cherries (well drained so it won’t stain the oatmeal pink).  You can vary the dried fruit and spices.  I’d like to try using chopped organic apple (skin on and tossed with a bit of lemon juice, prior to baking).     Casserole with cover shown is a vintage Hall, probably 2.5 quarts).

Papaya With Lime

I used to grow my own papayas when I lived on the Big Island (of Hawaii), so this was a staple in our house.  The lime is essential.  About five years ago, I began noticing papayas in our local grocery stores here in Maryland.  Back then, one grocery store had a better selection than others, and the papayas were all giant Caribbean papayas.  Now, you can occasionally get small ones, like “solo” papayas, sometimes.  What I found last week, was a medium-sized papaya at Giant grocery store.  I’m guessing it was approximately 8 inches in length, but I can’t be sure because we ate the evidence.  It was not organic, alas, but that’s how it goes.  You want to look for a papaya that has some yellow already showing on it, even if it’s just a patch of color.  Then wash it lovingly and set it on the counter for days, maybe even a week or more.  When the yellowy color is covering more of the surface, and some surface wrinkling is going on, you can then cut the fruit (see photos below).  Once you do this 2 or 3 times, you’ll get to know when it’s ripe, or too ripe.  The inner flesh should be the most gorgeous color (see photo), like orange underlaid with pink, and it should be sweet and somewhat-soft but not mushy.  Scrape out the seeds, cut away any loose stringy fiber, and you’re ready to go.  I like to cut the flesh very close to the skin, because it’s sweet there, if the ripeness is right.  Here’s a video on how to cut lime wedges.  I actually cut limes a slightly-better way, but that’s another post.  You can also gild the lily with a drizzle of agave syrup, brown rice syrup, or Suzanne’s Just Like Honey Rice Nectar.  Papaya can be an acquired taste, but once you get it, you won’t look back.  With fiber, beta-carotene, plenty of folate, potassium to combat high blood pressure, and an extraordinary amount of vitamin C, it’s worth getting to know the sweet papaya.

Here you can see the degradation of the skin, and the mostly-yellow undertone of the color.  Don’t be afraid of a little puckering, etc.  You may even have to slice the ends off, as I did here.  The photo below this one shows the inside of this very same papaya, just after I took this photo.

Cheesy Tofu Scramble

I’ve tried three different tofu scrambles now (including this one) and this is the best, the easiest and also a bit creamier than the other two.  At first this recipe looked odd due to the vinegar, but then I read the reviews on Vegweb, and decided to try it.  Serve as a breakfast scramble, or a breakfast burrito, and dress up with salsa, Tofutti sour cream, and slices of avocado.  I’ve changed this recipe just a bit, and added a few vegetables, and adjusted the seasonings to my liking, but the main premise of the original recipe is still here.

CHEESY TOFU SCRAMBLE

Makes:   8  half-cup servings

INGREDIENTS
1 pound firm tofu, squeezed and drained
1 medium onion, diced fine
1 green bell pepper, diced fine
1/4 cup nondairy milk, unsweetened or plain
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon tamari sauce  or  Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce  (less if serving to children)
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 Cup nutritional yeast

1 Tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter  or  olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 to 4 tortillas  (optional, if making burritos)

DIRECTIONS
In a cereal bowl, mix nondairy milk, apple cider vinegar, water, Tamari sauce, black pepper, paprika, Tabasco and turmeric.  Add nutritional yeast to this same bowl, and stir to combine.

In a non-stick pan, heat oil or vegan butter, and salt over medium heat.  Add vegetables and saute for about 3 to 5 minutes.  Crumble tofu into vegetables and cook for 3 minutes, scrambling tofu in pan.  I like to use a wooden spoon or wooden spatula with tofu.  Pour in the liquid mixture and continue to cook until all the liquid is absorbed.

Serve with fresh avocado slices, salsa and Tofutti Sour Cream.   Notes:  Can be eaten as a scramble, or as filling for wraps.  If using in a tortilla, cook it another couple of minutes and make it a bit dryer.

Nutrition per half-cup serving:  Calories 100.  Fat 4g.  Saturated Fat 1g.  Trans Fat 0.  Monounsaturated Fat 1g.  Cholesterol 0.  Sodium 205 mg.  Potassium 9 mg.  Carbs 6.  Fiber 2.  Sugars 2.  Protein 9.  Vitamin A 6%.  Vitamin C 15%.  Calcium 6%.  Iron 6%.

Vegan Granola Bars – Cherry Almond with Cashew Butter

Here’s my rendition of this recipe from the New York Times, and it took just minutes to make.  I just used what I had in the pantry; dried Bing cherries and cashew butter, and I have to say, they are the best granola bars I’ve ever tasted.  In fact, they put store-bought granola bars to shame.  I did not want to use honey, so I used Just Like Honey instead, and made them vegan.  I also added the salt to the warm nut-butter and nectar mixture, so it would melt and incorporate more evenly (as opposed to mixing it with the dry ingredients).  And I skipped the plastic wrap and vegetable oil, because there is no need to waste either as long as you have some wax paper or parchment paper (much healthier and greener alternatives).  This would be great for kids, especially since it’s versatile and you can change this up to use whatever fruits or nut butters the kids like.  For special occasions, you could even add some vegan chocolate chips and sub in some peanut butter.  You could substitute some oats for some of the brown puffed rice.  I love this cherry/blanched almond combo, but now I’m thinking of trying dried strawberries with agave syrup.  Or for adults, maybe black walnuts and good maple syrup.  I don’t know how other sweeteners would work, however.  p.s.  The tiny bit of sea salt is a key element, the perfect foil to the sweet fruit.
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Simple Vegan Granola Bars

Yield:  approx. 12 to 16 bars

INGREDIENTS
1/2 Cup of cashew butter (or any other nut butter)
1/2 Cup of Suzanne’s Just Like Honey
1 Cup crispy brown rice cereal (puffed)
1 Cup granola
1/2 Cup slivered almonds (or any other nuts)
1/2 Cup dried cherries (cut cherries in half) (or any other dried fruit)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (or other salt)
parchment paper,  or wax paper

DIRECTIONS
-Cut parchment paper or wax paper into two long strips the width of your 8″x8″ pan, and line the pan with one strip going one way and the 2nd strip going the other way (see photo below).  You will lift the granola bars out of the pan using these paper strips.
-Put nut butter and nectar (or syrup), and the salt in a small saucepan over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes until they melt together, stir to combine.
Put the crispy rice cereal, granola, nuts and dried fruit in a large bowl and stir.  Add the warm nut butter/syrup/nectar mixture and stir well to combine.
-Spread granola mixture evenly into the double-lined pan, and then fold down each of the four flaps of paper, and press down somewhat hard to compress the granola bar mixture.
-Refrigerate until set, approximately one hour or overnight.
-Once granola bar mixture has hardened in the pan, remove from pan in one piece, by lifting the edges of the paper out of the pan.
-Open the paper and cut the bars to any size you like.
Postcript:  My friend Piliki tried this recipe using brown rice syrup and said the bars were too sticky.  If you use agave or maple syrup or some other sweetener, please let me know the results.

Home Fried Potatoes from "The Vegan Table" cookbook

I had a couple of russet potatoes sitting on the counter and no time to use them in their intended dish, since I’ve got to be in Annapolis tomorrow.  So, I found this recipe in The Vegan Table cookbook.  The recipe calls for yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, but I just used the russets, and this dish came out  great anyway.  I omitted the garlic since I didn’t want it to burn (I was juggling other dishes too).  I like the recipe’s technique where you just quarter the potatoes and put them in a steamer for 14 minutes and then cut them up and fry them with the spices and onion.  I don’t have an electric steamer but I do have a big stock pot with a steamer insert that I use all the time.  And then since I had all that hot water in the steamer, I went ahead and steamed some vegetables while the potatoes and other things were cooking, and I recommend doing this as it saves water and energy and time.  The recipe calls for adding a third tablespoon of oil at the end, but I did not add it, and it was great without it.  I only had dried parsley, and am sure fresh would be better and prettier too.  This is a forgiving dish, it can cook away on low heat while you do other things, but we like our potatoes crispy with some burnt edges, so that’s how they look.  We don’t have white potatoes very often, so this was a real treat.

Cream Cheese and Olive Bagel

I looked online, expecting there to be a manifesto or even just a Wikipedia entry on the flavor profile of Cream Cheese and Olives, but there wasn’t.  However, there are tons of recipes;  for dips and sandwich spreads and canapes, etc.  When I was a little kid, I remember my mother eating a sandwich of Cream Cheese and Olives on toast, and thinking it was a bit odd.  Since then, I’ve enjoyed cream cheese and green olives on sandwiches and bagels in delicatessens and at home.  We were in Panera Bread recently and I asked if there was anything vegan in the bakery area.  I was handed a large binder notebook that I could look through.  While my husband waited for his to-go order, I looked.  They have a simple chart with the items and then whether or not they have eggs or dairy or  whatever.  So I selected the Everything Bagel (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic, toasted onion, kosher salt).  These bagels are huge, so have them cut them  in half for you.  They’re hard bagels and it’s not like cutting a tomato; you have to get out your big bread knife and give it some elbow.  Someday, Panera might get smart and have some vegan cream cheese on hand, but that day has not yet come.  So, once home, I got out the Tofutti Cream Cheese and a jar of olives.  Two tablespoons of the vegan cream cheese and however many olives you like per one half of a giant bagel.  As you can tell from this photo, I like a lot of olives, you might like less.  This would be a good solution if you’re having guests who want breakfast, and it makes an occasional special treat out of your own breakfast or lunch.  Some things can be easy.

Tofu Scramble and Breakfast Burrito

This is the tofu scramble from Everyday Dish TV.  It’s the best out of the two scramble recipes I’ve tried so far.  One caveat is I felt there was too much soy sauce, so I would cut it down to 2 teaspoons next time.   I didn’t use mushrooms but added a chopped garden tomato instead.

I also added:

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 T minced dried onion
1/16th teaspoon turmeric for golden color (you will not taste it)

Aside from decreasing the soy sauce (I use Tamari sauce instead as I think it tastes better), none of my changes are really necessary.  All in all, this is a simple, low-fat recipe, packed with protein and zero cholesterol, and, of course, it’s really good!   This would be a great substitute for scrambled eggs in a traditional breakfast, or in a breakfast burrito, as seen here.  I serve this with salsa, Tofutti Sour Cream, and diced fresh avocado.  I like Mission brand tortilla wraps.  This recipe is a keeper, especially because you can switch it up any way you want, by adding spinach or any other veggies you like.  It would also be good with the Crispy Smashed Potatoes I posted in July 2010.  After all, nobody should be left out at breakfast!