Tomato Tart with Almond Feta and Caramelized Onions

tomato-tart     This Tomato Tart with Almond Feta and Caramelized Onions is quite rich, so I serve it with a light salad.  It’s adapted from a recipe in Gourmet magazine (May 1995 issue).   I make this when I have leftover Sprouted Almond Feta, but store-bought vegan cheese could be used too (like Miyoko’s or Treeline, etc.).  I usually have a few Pate Brisee pie crusts in the freezer, so this is actually a quick dish to throw together.  Caramelizing onions takes about an hour, but you can do myriad other things while that’s happening.  This tart is also pretty when made with halved cherry tomatoes of various colors.


Makes 6 to 8 slices

2 large white onions, sliced thinly  (don’t use red onions–they don’t caramelize as well)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Almond Feta Cheese (less than 1/2  a recipe’s worth)   (or store-bought creamy cheeze)
2 large tomatoes, or a bunch of cherry tomatoes
3-4 Kalamata or Nicoise olives,  pitted and sliced
one single pie crust  (I use this vegan Pate Brisee)

Put rolling pin in freezer.  Add oil and salt to large non-stick skillet, and cook onions, covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 20 minutes.  Remove lid and cook onions another 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, and any liquid evaporates.  Remove skillet from heat so onions can cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.   Put a little bench flour on counter and roll out chilled pie crust.  Line glass or ceramic pie dish or tart pan with crust.  Spread caramelized onions over the dough, and top loosely with cheese.  Arrange sliced tomatoes and olives over the cheese and season with salt and pepper.  Use a pie shield or protect pie crust edges with crumpled tin foil.  Bake tart in center of oven for one hour or until pastry is golden, and cool on rack.  Serve tart hot or warm.

Notes:  I pull my pie crust from the freezer the night before, so the dough can rest a bit.  I prefer to use glass or ceramic with tomatoes, as acidic tomatoes do react to some metals.  Onions can be caramelized the day before, which saves a lot of time the day of.  Don’t put too much cheese–you should still see some of the onions underneath after you scatter the cheese.
img_3054 Cheese on top of caramelized onions.  This might even be a little bit too much cheese.
img_3053 Caramelized onions.
img_3057  The olives can be hidden underneath too.

Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs Casserole

IMG_3000     I adapted this Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs Casserole from a recipe on VegWeb.    Under the spaghetti sauce, there’s a layer of cream cheese with green onions and chives, and I added a layer of meatballs in the middle.  This is easy and pretty quick to throw together, and surprisingly delicious.  It makes plenty, so there will be leftovers, or you could serve it for a dinner party, with salad, garlic bread, and maybe a sorbet for dessert.


Serves 6

8 oz. thin spaghetti or capellini pasta
1/2 Cup vegan cream cheese
1/4 Cup vegan sour cream
1/3 Cup chopped scallions (green onions), white and green parts
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 Tablespoons vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
12 oz. vegan meatballs  (about 16-20 is good)
24 oz. pasta sauce  (from a jar is fine)
1 Tablespoon vegan parmesan, such as Go Veggie brand

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Add 2 teaspoons of salt to a pot of water, break spaghetti in half and start cooking pasta per package directions.

With a fork, mix vegan cream cheese, sour cream, scallions and chives in a bowl.
When pasta is cooked to al dente, scoop out 1/3 Cup of pasta water and set it aside.  Remove from heat and strain pasta.  Into the empty, still-warm pot, put the butter, nutritional yeast and the 1/3 Cup reserved pasta water.  Add strained pasta back to the pot and with a wooden spoon, mix until pasta is thoroughly coated.

Add half the pasta to the casserole dish and level it somewhat.  Place the vegan meatballs on top of this bottom layer of pasta.  Add the rest of the pasta on top of the meatballs.   Add dollops of the cream-cheese mixture to the top and spread gently with the back of a spoon.  Pour the pasta sauce over all.  Sprinkle with a Tablespoon of vegan parmesan cheese.  Bake 20-25 minutes–you should see the edges bubbling.  I bake the first 15 minutes with the lid on, but am not sure if this is necessary.

Notes:  I use an old Corning Ware 3-Liter casserole dish that is about 8″ square by 4″ tall.  This tastes even better the next day, so it’s a good one to make ahead.  I set out the sour cream and cream cheese for 10 minutes so they soften up a bit.  The variations are endless:  you could lean into a more whole-foods, gluten-free version with spaghetti squash instead of pasta.  Or instead of meatballs, mix chopped walnuts into the tomato sauce, to mimic ground beef and add protein and omegas.  During that summer glut of garden tomatoes, fold some in.  Or mix some chopped spinach into the cream-cheese and scallion mixture, etc.  Buon appetito!

Vegan Caramelized Carrot Risotto

IMG_2868     After seeing the movie The Fault in Our Stars where they eat the Dragon Carrot Risotto, I knew I had to make it.  So last Fall, I ordered organic seeds from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply, and began planning a few dishes to make.   I found this recipe online and veganized it.  Swapping out the animal products still produced a classic, restaurant-style risotto, with a real flavor of parmesan.  Caramelizing the carrots is genius, and this is good enough for company, for a birthday, or even for Thanksgiving.  In the end, I did use a mélange of carrot cultivars to make this dish, because that day, along with the Dragon carrots, I also pulled Cosmic Purple carrots and Atomic Red carrots from the ground.   This dish makes a lot and reheats well.


Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided  (not canola oil)
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, divided
6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped as finely and evenly as possible (about 3 Cups)
(I used a food processor for the carrots)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
5 Cups vegetable broth  (I used Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base)
1/3 Cup minced onion
1.5 Cups Arborio rice
1/2 Cup dry white wine
1/4 Cup vegan cream cheese  (I like Trader Joe’s)
1/4 Cup vegan parmesan, I like Go Veggie Vegan Grated Parmesan
1 Tablespoon finely-chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus 1 Tablespoon for garnish
1 teaspoon roughly-chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon vegan butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot.  Add carrots and stir until well coated.  Ad 1/2 Cup water, salt and sugar, cover and cook 5 minutes, or until tender.  Uncover and cook a few minutes more, stirring occasionally until water evaporates and carrots are just starting to brown.  Reserve half of these cooked carrots.  In a blender, puree the other half with 3/4 Cup hot water.

Bring broth to a simmer and keep hot, covered, over low heat.

In same (unwashed) pot used for carrots, heat remaining oil and butter over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add rice, stirring to coat rice with oil, 1 minute.  Add wine and cook, stirring until wine evaporates.  Add carrot puree and cook, stirring, until mixture no longer looks soupy.

Add 1/2 Cup hot broth, stirring often, until rice absorbs most of the liquid.  Repeat process, adding 1/2 Cup broth at a time and stirring often until each addition of broth is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is al dente (about 20 minutes).  At least 1 Cup of broth will remain.

Set aside 2 Tablespoons of the caramelized carrots.  Fold in the remaining carrots, cream cheese, parmesan, 1 Tablespoon parsley, and the thyme.  Add up to 1 Cup broth (1/4 Cup at a time) to loosen the risotto.  Season with pepper.

Garnish each bowl of risotto with the remaining parsley and reserved carrots.  Serve immediately.

Notes:  Better Than Bouillon also makes a very good Seasoned Vegetable Base that would work fine.  When reheating, add some leftover broth or water to loosen it up again.

cropped-IMG_2825.jpg  Organic carrots from my garden.

One Pot Pasta

IMG_2843     One Pot Pasta is a thing–it’s all over the internet, so I tried it.  It’s good, but be aware that since you’re NOT draining the pasta, there is a slight starchy quality to the sauce.  It was quite good though, and it makes a quick meal with no colander to wash.  Also, there’s no walking to the sink with a heavy pot of boiling water (to drain the pasta).  I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart, except I prefer thinner pasta, so I used spaghetti instead of linguine.


Serves 4

12 ounces spaghetti
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, or chopped fresh tomatoes, if in season
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 sprigs fresh basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4.5 Cups water
vegan parmesan for sprinkling, such as Go Veggie Grated Parmesan Topping

In a large skillet with straight sides, or a small stock pot (which is what I use for everything), combine uncooked pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, salt, pepper and water.  Bring to boil over medium-high heat.  Keep at a low boil, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente, and water has nearly evaporated, about 10 minutes.  Divide among bowls and garnish with basil.

Serve with any toppings you like, such as vegan parmesan, sundried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, lemon zest, toasted pine nuts, cannellini beans, sautéed vegan sausage, blanched broccolini, etc.

Notes:  Can also be made with linguine.  Do not try this with capellini or angel hair, because finer pasta sort of breaks down into a starchy mess (speaking from experience).  I made this twice so I could be sure of the technique.  If there are no fresh tomatoes in season, I suppose one could try using well-drained canned tomatoes, and a few Tablespoons less water.
IMG_2849  I used red and yellow Amish tomatoes.
IMG_2848  Toppings.
IMG_2846  Still cooking.

Chana Masala or Chole Masala

IMG_2657     Popular in Northern India and Pakistan, chana or chole (cho-lay) masala is made in a variety of ways.  It can be cooked on the dry side, or with a sour tang, but here I’ve made it richer with lite coconut milk, and served it with a spoonful of mango chutney for a sweet/hot finish.  Serve over fragrant rice, with naan or pappadums, etc.  I love the hint of cinnamon and other floral notes in Garam Masala, which can be found in most grocery stores in the regular spice section.  I’ve added a few other spices to round out the chana-spice flavor profile.  Canned chickpeas make this a more-convenient weeknight supper, but it’s delicious enough for company.  Please check out the Indian Category on this site for other recipes, including Dal Makhani and a Hawaiian Coconut Curry.


Makes about six servings

2 Tablespoons coconut oil,  or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
one medium onion, diced
1 Tablespoon finely-grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons garam masala spice blend
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon amchoor  (amchur, dried mango powder)  (optional)

1 Tablespoon tamarind paste  (optional)
1 large tomato seeded and diced
15 oz. can lite coconut milk  (or water)
2  (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

chutney, such as Patak’s Mango Chutney (found in many regular grocery stores)

In a medium-to-large saucepan or small stockpot, heat oil over medium heat.  Stir in onion and ginger, and turn heat down a click.   Cook until onions are beginning to brown, stirring often.  Stir in spices and garlic, and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly.  Add tamarind (if using), tomato, coconut milk and garbanzos, and simmer for a few minutes.  Stir in salt.  With a potato masher, mash at least half the chickpeas, so the mixture begins to look finer and thicker.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 15-20 minutes.   Pick out the cloves and discard them.  Add a teaspoon of chutney on each serving, and serve with naan bread, pappadums, Basmati rice, etc.  When reheating, I stir in a little water for better consistency.  Can be made a day ahead.

NOTES:  My favorite brand of tamarind paste is CTF “Pure Fresh Tamarind,” it comes in a 14 oz. plastic jar with blue label and blue lid.  Chole (cho-lay) means chickpea curry,  and Chana means chickpeas or white garbanzos (as opposed to black).  I like the Garam Masala spice blend from Penzeys, but any will do.  If tomatoes are out of season, I would not hesitate to use a can of chopped tomatoes drained well.
IMG_2670  Instead of using a thickener, just mash some of the chickpeas like some Indian cooks do.

IMG_2668  My favorite brand of tamarind paste.

vegan Hawaiian Coconut Curry

IMG_1909     This vegan coconut curry is adapted from an old recipe I got from a friend in Hilo, back in the 1980’s.  In Hawaii, locals love their chicken curry!  I’ve tweaked it over the years, and made it vegan, but it’s still a classic 1970’s American-style curry that brings the flavor.  It’s a really good, easy, and flexible recipe that doesn’t take too long to make.  Serve over rice and/or with naan bread or papadums,  with chutney and any of the toppings suggested below.  p.s. For other dinner ideas, there are about 60 recipes in the Main Dish category.


Serves 5-6

1 Cup vegetable stock  (I use Better Than Bouillon, either Vegetarian or No-Chicken)
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
2 Tablespoons vegan butter, such as Earth Balance
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon curry powder  (I use McCormick Curry Powder)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 small clove garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh peeled grated ginger (my favorite),  or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
15 oz. can Lite coconut milk
Any extra protein you want, including any one of the following:  Butler Soy Curls (3 oz.), Beyond Chicken, crispy tofu cubes,  nuts such as peanuts, cashews or walnuts, chick peas,  etc.

Saute onion and celery in butter over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Stir in curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, sugar, salt, garlic and ginger.  Turn heat to low, cover and cook 10-15 minutes.  To the pot, add the lite coconut milk and only 1/2 Cup of the stock, and stir.  Cover and cook 5 more minutes, but do not let it boil.  With a fork, whisk the flour into the remaining 1/2 Cup of stock until it’s smooth, and set this slurry aside.  When the 5 minutes are up, add the slurry to the pot, and stir until the curry thickens, just a few minutes.  Add your extra protein now and heat through.  Serve over hot rice, or with naan bread.  Serve it simply like this, or add toppings such as mango chutney (my favorite), toasted coconut, salty peanuts or cashews, etc.

Notes:  This can be made a day ahead, and it tastes even better the next day.  Jasmine rice is the traditional rice to serve with this, but I found it delicious even with Trader Joe’s sprouted red rice.  My favorite chutney is Patak’s Mango Chutney (the plain one or the hot one).  If you don’t have chutney, you can always just put out some raisins to sprinkle on top.  Other vegetables can be mixed in when cooking, such as green bell pepper (tiny dice), or even fresh corn at the last minute.  I do like the McCormick Curry Powder–it’s not gourmet, but it’s got the classic 1970’s flavor of this particular dish.

Zippys Chili Recipe Gone Vegan

IMG_1881    My parents called from Hawaii yesterday, and they had just been to Zippys for breakfast.  It reminded me that I used to like Zippys chili (it’s famous in Hawaii).  After looking at copycat recipes online, I made a vegan version, and it’s really good–a keeper.  Although I’ve made several vegan chilis before, this one is just a bit meatier and richer than the others, and it really does remind me of Zippys.  I could see serving this easy dish for the Superbowl, or any game day.  If you want a healthier vegan chili, try this Perfect Vegetable Chili with Quinoa.  I like to serve chili with these Fruited Cornbread Muffins, or Tostitos Original Restaurant Style chips, Tofutti Cream Cheese, fresh avocado, etc.  More photos below.


11 oz. package Beyond Beef Beefy Crumbles  (or other ground beef substitute)
15 oz. can Kidney beans, with liquid from can
15 oz. can tomato sauce
10 oz. can Ro-Tel Mild Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies  (use 1/2 can, or more to taste)
2 teaspoons peanut oil (or grapeseed oil or olive oil)
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Vegenaise Reduced Fat vegan mayo  (the secret ingredient)
1 Tablespoon Better Than Bouillon (No Beef, or Vegetarian,  or No Chicken flavor)
1 Tablespoon Sherry Cooking Wine, (or red wine, or vinegar)
2 teaspoons minced dried onions  (from the spices aisle)
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire, such as Wizard brand  (it’s delicious)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt  (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
pinch cinnamon  (a pinch equals 1/16th teaspoon)

Toppings of choice, such as vegan sour cream, avocado chunks and nacho chips.

Heat oil in small stock pot, and sauté onion and bell pepper.  Set beans aside for now, but add all other ingredients and simmer on medium heat for 5 or 10 minutes.  Add beans and bean liquid just before serving and stir them gently into the chili.  Serve with vegan sour cream, fresh avocado, nacho chips, etc.

Notes:  I avoid canola oil for purposes of flavor.  I prefer Eden Organic beans because they use kombu to “salt” their beans, but any kidney beans will do.  If you want it spicier, add the full can of Ro-Tel, or the Ro-Tel can simply be put out to dollop on bowls for those who like it hotter.  The mayonnaise might seem an odd addition to this recipe but it’s rumored to be the secret ingredient in Zippys Chili, and it does seem to add an unctuous richness.  I reduced the mayo by 75% here and the chili still tastes really good.  I deleted the MSG from the original recipes, but if you want to add it back in, use about 1/2 teaspoon.  I grew up eating a lot of Ajinomoto, and I didn’t miss it here.

Vegan Dal Makhani

IMG_2613    Dal Makhani is my favorite dal.   Translated from the Hindi, it supposedly means Buttery Lentils.  A Punjabi dish from the North of India, it was so heart-cloggingly rich and time-consuming that it was usually made only for special occasions.  With this relatively-quick, vegan Dal Makhani, we can have it whenever we want.  There are many online recipes for this traditional dish, all remarkably similar.  All I did was substitute in vegan butter, and coconut milk creamer.  I used products from Whole Foods, and substituted a jalapeno pepper for the traditional Indian chili peppers.  Nutritional values are below.  Despite being lower in fat, this still tastes rich.  This balance of heat is for our Western palates, but if you can find the real Indian chili peppers, feel free to set it on fire.


Makes six generous one-cup servings  (about 6.5 Cups total)

3/4 Cup whole black lentils  (urad dal)  (soaked overnight)
1/2 Cup kidney beans  (rajmah)  (I use canned kidney beans)
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced and chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds  (not ground)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds and pith removed,  do not chop
(protect your hands with gloves when handling the chili pepper)
1 cinnamon stick,  3-4 inches long
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
15 oz. can plain tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 Cup water
3/4 Cup So Delicious Creamer  (original plain flavor)
2 Tablespoons freshly-chopped coriander/cilantro leaves for garnish

Sort through lentils, rinse in a very-fine sieve, and soak in water overnight.  Drain and keep aside.  Put 3 Cups water in an uncovered saucepan and simmer lentils for about 25 minutes until soft and a bit overcooked.  Drain.

Mash garlic and ginger together into a paste.  In a small stock pot, heat butter and add cumin seeds.  When seeds crackle, add chili pepper, cinnamon stick, ginger/garlic paste and onions, and sauté over medium heat until onions turn brown.  Add cayenne, turmeric and tomato puree, and cook over medium heat until oil begins to separate from the tomato gravy (10 minutes or so).  Add the cooked legumes, garam masala, salt and the 3/4 Cup water, and simmer 10-15 minutes.  Add half the cream and stir to blend.  Just before serving, swirl the remaining cream onto the top of the dal, so streaks of cream are visible.  Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro, and serve hot, with naan or parathas, etc.  I served mine with Trader Joe’s vegan Uttapams this time.

Notes:    To save money, hit the bulk spices at your local health food store.  This freezes well.  If using dried kidney beans instead, soak and cook them with the lentils.  I like the Punjabi style garam masala from Penzey’s, but you can find Garam Masala in most grocery stores now.  Garam masala often has cloves and cardamom in it, and saves trying to fish cloves and pods out of the stew when it’s done.  Whole Foods has whole black lentils, the Organic 365 brand.  I will sometimes also add chopped garden tomatoes too.  I never increase the amount of cayenne, even if I don’t add the hot chili pepper.

Nutritional Values per 8-ounce serving:  Calories 199.  Fat 5.  Saturated Fat 1.  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5.  Monounsaturated Fat 1.  Trans Fat 0.  Cholesterol 0.  Sodium 226 (depending upon tomato sauce).  Carbs 28.  Fiber 7.  Sugar 7.  Protein 8.

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.


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

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

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).


Serves:  3 to 4

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)

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.

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!


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)

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.

Vegetarian Plus Vegan Tuna Rolls

IMG_1458    This vegan tuna tastes so much like tuna fish that it’s freaky.   It even smells like tuna fish.  I ordered these Vegan Tuna Rolls from Healthy Eating, a good resource for all kinds of things.   Here in the U.S., the word roll can refer to a type of sandwich–the exact type of sandwich pictured on the box (see photo below).   However, the world “roll” as used on this box of tuna rolls means you literally get two frozen, sausage-shaped rolls of vegan tuna filling (see last photo below).  So, the tuna filling comes all by itself, with no bread or anything.  You simply thaw and then cut open these tuna logs and use the filling as you would a can of tuna fish.   About price: I had no choice but to order six boxes of tuna rolls for a total of $59.99.  Shipping and handling was another $14.95, for a total of $74.94, let’s call it $75.   However, we got three sandwiches out of each tuna roll, and that means enough vegan tuna to make six sandwiches per box.  $75 divided by 36 = $2.08 per serving, and that includes frozen shipping with cold packs.  Now, the box says there are “about 4” servings per box, and that would make some big sandwiches.  The sandwiches I made were a generous-average size, in my opinion.  So, price would vary depending upon use.

As far as “dressing up” this tuna, the sky’s the limit.  My favorite ingredients include Vegenaise, chopped pickled red onions, sweet relish, salt and pepper.  I had a friend who always put Celery Salt in her tuna salad, and finely-chopped celery.  You could put capers or grated carrots, etc.  If these Vegan Tuna Rolls are not your thing, please check out the other vegan tuna salad also on this site–it’s delicious and easy.   p.s.  Lars never liked tuna fish salad, so I was surprised that he really likes this vegan tuna!
IMG_1454  Two rolls of vegan tuna filling per box.

Vegetarian Plus Vegan Ham Roll

IMG_1369    After having such good success with the Vegetarian Plus Vegan Whole Turkey, I decided to give the Vegetarian Plus Vegan Ham Roll a try.  And I’m glad I did.  I got this specifically for Christmas day, but I could also see having it at Easter.  I was amazed at how much it smelled like ham as it was baking, and the flavor is very hammy as well.  Everyone knows that Ham Biscuits are a Southern Tradition.  For many, Ham Biscuits are served on New Year’s, but I have a girlfriend from South Carolina who always serves them on Christmas Eve.  I ordered this from Vegan Essentials and it was shipped with cold packs around it.  When it arrived, I called Vege USA on their 888 number and was told I could put it immediately into the freezer, which I did.  I paid about $40 for it, including $4 for the cold-pack shipping.   The box says this 2 lb. vegan ham roll serves 14 and I believe it.  When it was partially thawed, I cut it in half and put half of it right back in the freezer, and we had ham every which way for the next 4 or 5 days.  On Christmas Eve I made a bunch of vegan Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits and put them in the freezer (un-baked).  On Christmas Day, I made the ham roll and some of the biscuits and we had them with slices of Daiya cheese and my homemade mustard (photo below).  I did prepare the Apricot Plum Glaze that came in the box and it’s surprisingly good (Lars has been having it on his ham biscuits).  I also made a delicious ham salad, with some Vegenaise vegan mayonnaise, organic sweet relish, and a bit of salt and pepper.  This minced ham salad would be good for a rustic ham roll, or tiny finger sandwiches for afternoon tea, or on the aforementioned biscuits.  With the half that’s still in the freezer, I’m thinking Portuguese Bean Soup, and Lars suggested Ham and Pineapple Pizza.  This is a convenient, delicious solution for those transitioning or entertaining omnivores, and for vegans who want traditional flavors on holidays.  I also like that it allowed me to focus on the baking and side dishes and holiday preparations, and not worry so much about the main dish.  If you want to make this at home for pennies, try this vegan Candied Ham.   We’re talking about vegan ham, of course.  Bless all the pigs and may we never torture and eat them again.  Happy New Year.
IMG_1383  Real Southern Style Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits (vegan) for the traditional holiday Ham Biscuits.


Vegetarian Plus Vegan Whole Turkey

IMG_1221  I meant to try this Vegetarian Plus Vegan Whole Turkey last year, but never got to it.  This comes with gravy and stuffing, which I promptly discarded (see postscript at bottom).  I served this with homemade sides:  classic stuffing dressing with apples and pecans, baked stuffed potatoes, cranberry sauce with Kirschwasser and Cherry, and Golden Gravy with chanterelle mushrooms.  We also had some delicious Treeline Scallion French-Style Soft Cheese as an appetizer, with some sparkling cider, and a salad.  For dessert, we had a choice of Pumpkin Pie with Streusel or Pear Crisp.  I basted the non-GMO vegan turkey with a glaze of vegan butter, a teensy bit of maple syrup and sea salt.  My review is that I was very happy with this soy turkey.  The “skin” on the outside does mimic turkey skin, and it could not be easier to make.  I rinsed it, patted it dry, baked it on a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet for 45 minutes, with a basting after 15 minutes and again after 30 minutes.  The basting also helped the appearance.  I do recommend stuffing the turkey as it keeps the whole thing moist, but you will need to bake additional stuffing/dressing on the side, because you cannot fit much inside this bird.  I would guess it serves about 10 people and is a great solution for those transitioning to a vegan or vegetarian diet.  Lars is vegetarian and really liked it.  It slices beautifully, and makes the best turkey sandwich I’ve ever had, great for leftovers.  If you eat a bit by itself, there is a faint hint of soy flavor, but with the other sides, you don’t notice it, and in a sandwich, it’s non-existent.  I would definitely buy this again.  This turkey can be bought from Vegan Essentials online, and also from the Healthy Eating Catalog.  Sometimes they run out, so get your order in when you can.  Additional photos below.    Postscript:  Nov. 2014.  Lars requested this turkey again, so I made it and am just as happy.  However, I decided to try the stuffing and the gravy this time, for you all.  I simply sautéed chopped acidulated Fuji apple, and onions, and then used half the dry stuffing and followed all other directions, and it was decent.  About the gravy, it was TERRIBLE–don’t do it, make your own!
IMG_1230  Slices like a dream, and makes killer turkey sandwiches for leftovers.
IMG_1215  We really liked this cheese on crackers.  I wouldn’t hesitate to make little canapés with it either.

Salad in A Jar

IMG_1079    I saw Salad In a Jar in a great blog post on these make-ahead, packable salads.  A few times a year, I have to attend a meeting where a lunch of dead animals is provided for everyone (except me).  This time, I had a beautiful meal instantly constructed on my plate, with just a shake and a tip of the wide-mouth canning jar.


wide-mouth canning jar(s), quart size
salad dressing
salad fixings

Put salad dressing on the bottom of the jar(s) and start building.  First, add ingredients that benefit from a marinade in the salad dressing, things like beets or beans or lentils.  As you build up further away from the dressing, you could add chopped nuts, dried fruit, diced vegetables, drained mandarin oranges, greens or lettuces, cooked quinoa, croutons, etc.  Make sure to leave an inch or two of space at the top–this will allow you to shake the salad, and it will also keep your food away from any BPA in the canning jar lid.

Notes:  It’s easy to fill more than one jar at a time.  I prefer to cut my greens or lettuces into smaller pieces.  Ingredients can change with the seasons–in the summer, you could tuck some nasturtium flowers from the garden on top, and in the Fall you could use roasted root vegetables.   Take these flavors in any direction by changing up the dressing and fixings–Mexican, Greek, etc.   I’m thinking cold Japanese somen noodle salad with smoked tofu, green onions, fresh peas and seasame seeds.  Or Middle Eastern with tahini dressing, roasted chickpeas, cucumbers, pistachios or walnuts, and dried apricots.

Sesame-Orange-Glazed Tofu Nuggets with Broccoli and Red Bell Pepper

IMG_0643    Here’s a link to a great review of this recipe by Your Vegan Mom.   This recipe is from The Chinese Vegan Kitchen cookbook by Donna Klein.  I’ve made this entire recipe and we liked it a lot.  It’s surprising how you roll the tofu cubes in the sesame seeds before you dredge them, and they do stick, and they don’t burn.  But, as an aside, they do benefit from a sauce–the sauce in this recipe being the perfect one.  However, today, for a quick lunch, and let’s be honest, for mofo, I decided to see how quickly I could get this together.   So, I improvised–I left out the tofu, and just cut up some vegan General Tso’s chicken from Whole Foods.  This saved a lot of time, and you could just throw on some cashews or walnuts instead of the General Tso’s.  I made a packet of Nissin Top Ramen (Oriental flavor, which is animal-free), drained the noodles and split them onto two plates.  I did steam the vegetables, and consider this important.  But people, it’s the sauce that makes this dish, it’s a winner!  I did not deviate from Donna Klein’s sauce, and it doesn’t take long to make.  With this sauce, you can elevate any stir fry!  I probably only used half a teaspoon of oil to sauté the veggies before I added in the sauce.  I used Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce (because I love it), instead of the chili paste called for, but I did cut it down to teaspoons because Lars is a lightweight when it comes to spicy.  Excellent meal in under one hour.   The sauce is mild but very flavorful, with the gentle sweetness of the orange, and the kick of the chili.  I’ve eaten at my share of upscale Chinese restaurants and this dish is comparable.  You can riff on it too, add some fresh grated ginger, mix up the veggies, use some fancy Chinese vinegar, etc.  I can’t wait to try several other recipes from The Chinese Vegan Kitchen cookbook, including the Velvet Corn Soup!

Bangkok Street Cart Noodles

IMG_0437    This recipe for vegan Bangkok Street Cart Noodles is slightly adapted from the March/April 2012 issue of VegNews.  To me, it tastes like a good Pad Thai.  If you make your sauce and chop all your veggies ahead of time, it’s much quicker to throw together at dinnertime.  Both Lars and I loved this dish.  Instead of cubed tofu, I sometimes just use the vegan General Tso’s Chicken from Whole Foods, which also saves time.


Serves 4

1.5 packages Kame brand Japanese curly noodles (Chuka Soba)
(or thin rice noodles, maybe vermicelli, not sure)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce  (I use Mae Ploy brand, a Thai brand w/garlic already in it)
1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon tamarind concentrate
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice  (or juice of one lime)
¼ Cup soy sauce or Tamari
1.5 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
½ Cup vegetable broth  (I use Better Than Bouillon, the organic/vegetable base one)

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (safflower or peanut or grapeseed oil)  (not canola)
12 oz. pkg. Tofu, pressed and cubed into ½” dice.   (or General Tso’s vegan chicken from Whole Foods, slice pieces in half)
2 bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips or tiny dice
1 Cup of some other vegetable here, such as snow peas, fresh corn off the cob, chopped kale, etc.
4 green onions, sliced into thin rings.  Use all the white parts and only half of the green parts

plenty of fresh lime wedges, at least two limes worth
3/4 Cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
Fresh cilantro, chopped.  About ½ Cup.
Sprouts, rinsed well and dried.  About 1 Cup  (optional)

Cook noodles according to package.   Rinse noodles in cold water, drain well and toss noodles with 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and set aside.
In a jar, combine chili sauce, hoisin, tomato paste, tamarind, cornstarch, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, tamari, ginger and broth.  Mix well and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 Tablespoon oil, and fry tofu cubes until browned.   Remove tofu from skillet and set aside.
Add all sauce, seitan (if using), bell pepper, any other vegetables (if using), and green onions, and stir fry one minute.    Add noodles back into skillet and stir to coat.
Serve immediately, with lots of fresh lime wedges, chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro, and optional bean sprouts.

Notes:  Prep as much as you can.  I make the sauce ahead to save time, and keep it in the fridge.  I think the original recipe just called for “rice noodles” but am not sure.  If the cooked noodles sit too long, they can clump together, so don’t prepare them more than an hour ahead.
IMG_2668  My favorite tamarind concentrate

Vegan Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

IMG_0247   If you ever enjoyed the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes from The Cheesecake Factory, you might also like these easy, delicious, vegan versions.  I whip up some quick Romesco Sauce to go with them, which really bumps up the protein, but you could use any topping you like.  Even just some vegan sour cream with chopped cilantro would be great.  I only make these when fresh local corn is in season.


Makes 10

1/2 Cup corn flour
1/2 Cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil  (I used safflower oil)
1 Cup Lite coconut milk
2 Cups grated zucchini  (about one medium-to-large zucchini, peeled)
2 Cups fresh corn, cut off the cobs  (about 5 ears of corn)
1-2 Tablespoons chopped chives  (or a chopped shallot)

Make your sauce, and set in fridge to chill  (I made this Romesco Sauce).
In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix oil, coconut milk, zucchini, corn and chives.
Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir gently but well with a wooden spoon.
Brush large, non-stick skillet with one teaspoon of oil, and set on almost-medium heat.
Using a 1/3 Cup measure for each cake,  pour out three cakes into skillet.
Cook about 5-6 minutes, until the cakes move when you shake the pan.
Carefully flip,  and cook other side.
Keep warm in 175 degrees Fahrenheit oven.
Serve with Romesco Sauce,  or vegan sour cream and chopped cilantro,  etc.

For reasons of flavor, I do not recommend using canola oil.


IMG_0112   This recipe is from the Peas and Thank You vegan cookbook  by Sarah Matheny.  I first heard about it on the Indy Vegan Family podcast.    This is possibly more of a cold-weather recipe as it has beautiful, warming spices, but I needed something to make for supper that night and had all the ingredients.  It was quick to put together, and it made a lot, so I froze some for quick lunches.  Lars ate two bowls.  It’s a nice, rich soup, so packed with protein and fiber that you won’t be hungry until the next day.  I put a spoonful of peanut butter right in the center of my steaming bowl of stew, and it was so good.  A few salted peanuts scattered over it as a garnish made it even more decadent, and perhaps it’s a good idea anyway so people can see that it does contain peanuts.   The recipe as written below reflects my own changes to a few of the spice amounts, and I added in a bit of turmeric.  You can’t taste the turmeric, but it’s great for a golden color, and it reduces inflammation in the body.  Thanks, Indy Vegan Family, for putting out a fun podcast to listen to and sharing your recipe reviews too!


Serves:  8

14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet potato, cubed into 1/4 inch dice (no larger)
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons fresh, grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, pressed/crushed,  or minced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
14 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes,  in juice
14 oz. can light coconut milk
2 Cups vegetable stock  (I used Better Than Bouillon)
2 Tablespoons natural peanut butter
1/2 Cup red lentils,  picked over and rinsed  (you can substitute quinoa)

Optional garnishes:  chopped cilantro,  salted or chopped peanuts,  dairy-free sour cream, or dairy-free yogurt.  You could also offer Sriracha for those who like it hotter.

In a small stock pot, combine all ingredients and simmer on stove top for 30 minutes.
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and turn on high for 30 minutes.
Then switch to low for 3 to 4 hours.
Serve, and pass garnishes at the table.

Notes:  Upon reheating, you can add in some extra liquid if necessary.  Also, if you want a creamier soup, you can always puree a portion of it in the blender and then add it back in.  It’s fairly flexible, I might throw in an extra can of tomatoes next time.  Also, I’ll try making a cool cilantro/yogurt to dollop on top, dairy free of course.

Vegan Chicken Gyro Sandwiches

IMG_9994  I’ve loved Greek food since I was in my 20’s, and these really satisfy something I’d been missing.  These were quick to make and so good, and lasted for several lunches for me and Lars.  The main ingredient is Beyond Meat vegan chicken.    Dressed with my own vegan Tzatziki Sauce, and Pickled Red Onions, they’re kind of special.


one package Beyond Meat vegan chicken, Lightly Seasoned flavor
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
vegan Tzatziki Sauce
Pickled Red Onions
Kalamata olives, sliced lengthwise
shredded lettuce
tortillas or flat bread

Slice vegan chickn slices in half the long way, to make them skinnier.
In a skillet, heat the olive oil, tiny throw in a pinch of salt too.
Saute the vegan chicken on medium heat, just until some color arrives.
Make your sandwiches!  I like to make a bed of lettuce, load up the Tzatziki sauce, layer on the chickn and then dress with onions and Kalamata olives.

Yuba Barbecue Ribs

IMG_9975This recipe for BBQ Yuba ribs caught my eye on Pinterest.    There are also other recipes for barbecue Yuba ribs, like this one and this one.  I have this 1981 cookbook called Kathy Cooks Naturally  by  Kathy Hoshijo.  Kathy had a TV show on PBS back in the 1980’s, called Kathy’s Kitchen.  The cookbook is not vegan but it’s perhaps closer to vegan than vegetarian, and a lot of the recipes are already vegan and do not need to be converted.   Other recipes are converted simply by switching in agave or plant milk.  I don’t think she has any eggs in this book either.  So, back to our main ingredient–Yuba.  Yuba is a by-product of soybeans.  When soy milk is heated, a thin film forms on the surface, and this is Yuba.  Yuba can be fresh, half-dried or completely dried.  The dried form is often available in Oriental grocery stores and can be labeled as “Bean Curd” and are available in sheets and sticks and rolls.  Fresh Yuba is highly prized in Japan, and dried Yuba is about 50% protein and rich in minerals.  Monks have eaten Yuba for centuries to maintain a compassionate and healthful diet.  So, in Kathy Cooks Naturally, she has Yuba recipes for Yuba Chips, Mock Bacon, Yuba Seaweed Rolls, Mock Peking Duck, Monk’s Ham, Yuba Sausage, Southern Fried Chicken, Festive Mock Stuffed Turkey, Yuba Vegetable Rolls and Monk’s Chicken.  On to the BBQ!  This is my very first time making Yuba and it was quick and easy, and I can see how versatile this food is.  The whole package was $2.50 and could easily feed 3-4 people as a main dish, depending on who you’re feeding.   I followed Miyoko Schinner’s recipe pretty much, except I switched in a bottle of store-bought BBQ sauce, and reduced the oil.  This is a fast, delicious main dish, but I agree with Miyoko, these vegan ribs would make great football food too.  And yes, good enough to serve for company.


Serves 3-4


1 package Yuba dried bean curd sticks (see photo below)  (5.3 oz. pkg.)
1 bottle Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce
2 Tablespoons peanut oil, or safflower oil (or some other oil suitable for high heat)

Place Yuba sticks in a 13-inch glass baking dish and cover with water
(the Yuba will float at first,  but it will settle down).
Cover baking dish and place in refrigerator overnight.

The next day:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
With scissors, cut Yuba sticks into 5-inch or 6-inch sections.
Remove Yuba from water, drain it and place it on a plate.
Wash and dry the baking dish, and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Put 1 Tablespoon of the oil onto the parchment paper and rub it around.
Pour BBQ sauce into a large bowl and stir the remaining Tablespoon of oil into it.
Toss the drained Yuba sticks into the BBQ/oil sauce and mix until well coated.
Lay coated Yuba sticks onto the oiled parchment paper in the baking dish.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, turn Yuba ribs over and brush them with remaining BBQ/oil sauce.
Bake another 15 minutes.
It’s good if the ribs are a bit blackened in a few spots.
Although Miyoko Schinner’s original recipe says they should be “somewhat” firm, don’t try to get the ribs totally firm.

IMG_9967  This is how I bought the Yuba from the Asian Food Center, at 2505 N. Salisbury Boulevard, in Salisbury, Maryland.

IMG_9974  Yuba sticks after soaking overnight, and draining.

Sweet and Sticky Cashew Tofu

IMG_9855I made this last night for dinner and can attest that it is delicious.  This recipe is by Erin at Olives for Dinner.  Why can’t I get a dish like this in my local Chinese restaurant, waah.    The only thing I would do differently next time is run the noodles through the sauce, or fry the cooked noodles in the pan for a minute.  I used Kame brand Japanese Curly Noodles (chukka soba) and they were perfect for this dish.  p.s.  I used white button mushrooms and salted cashews from a can, because that’s what I had on hand, and it was still great!

Breaded Vegan Shrimp by Sophie’s Kitchen

IMG_9824With shrimp being one of the most polluted and earth-polluting things one can eat,  Breaded Vegan Shrimp by Sophie’s Kitchen is a real find.  100% vegan, Non-GMO and gluten free, it tastes a lot like the many deep-fried shrimps I ate over the years.  I served these hot out of the oven, with cocktail sauce, homemade vegan tartar sauce and plenty of lemon wedges.  If you look closely, you can see the faint pink markings underneath the batter, that make it look even more like non-vegan shrimp.  Lars and I agreed they really satisfy that old seafood craving we get every now and then.  I’ll definitely be buying these again.   We found them at Whole Foods in Annapolis, and there were 23 vegan shrimp in the box.  Thumbs Up.

90 percent of shrimp we eat, more than 1 billion pounds a year, comes from foreign farms that decimate natural landscapes.  Because of the terrible density of this farming, the shrimps are swimming in lots of solid waste, and require antibiotics and chemicals to keep them alive.  For instance, health officials in the U.S., Japan and the European Union have found chloramphenicol, a dangerous antibiotic banned in food.  The inspection of these shipments of shrimp is minimal, less than one percent.  Five percent of the world’s mangroves have been destroyed, in some places 80% of them are gone.  This contributes to global warming and then conversely increases storm damage from hurricanes and tsunamis.  Two pounds of sea life is caught and ground up to feed and create one pound of shrimp.  With almost 1/3 of shrimp dying from the filthy living conditions, the dead shrimp, shrimp excrement and chemical additives are flushed into seas and rivers.  These shrimp come in every year, from China, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mexico, Honduras, India, Bangladesh, Guyana, Vietnam, Thailand, etc.  Carcinogens and bleach in non-vegan shrimp are not the only issues.  In impoverished areas, shrimp farms are surrounded by armed guards, local fishermen are found murdered by guns and machetes, and no one is prosecuted.  Eating American shrimp is no better.  The bycatch is staggeringly harmful,  with 3 to 15 marine animals killed so we can eat one shrimp.  This includes sea turtles, marine mammals, fish, etc.  American shrimp is also very polluted, due to giant garbage patches the size of Texas, oil spills, etc., and this says nothing of the boat/fuel pollution into the oceans.   For more information, see this article.

Barbecued Tempeh Sandwich with Quick Slaw


This is one of those fast, delicious things you can make for lunch or dinner.  For anyone not familiar with using or eating tempeh, this is the perfect introductory dish.  No steaming of the tempeh is necessary!


16 ounce package soy tempeh, cut into half-inch strips  (I use Lightlife brand)
18 oz. bottle Kraft Barbecue Sauce – Original Thick ‘N Spicy flavor
bread buns or baguette
raw cabbage sliced very thinly,  or raw slaw mix
1/4 teaspoon mustard
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour half of BBQ sauce into bottom of small casserole dish.
Lay tempeh fingers flat into the sauce.
Pour rest of barbecue sauce over the tempeh fingers to coat evenly.
Bake 30 minutes until some of the sauce is absorbed.
Pile Quick Slaw (see below)  onto buns, top with BBQ tempeh, onions and/or pickles, and then more Quick Slaw.

By the Tablespoonful, mix a little Vegenaise with the mustard, dill pickle brine, and salt and pepper.
Gently fold mayo mixture into the raw, shredded cabbage.

Notes:  We both like our Pickled Red Onions on any sandwich, it really brings it up to the next level.  The Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles also go really well with or on any sandwich.


IMG_3024     I had some leftover Almond Feta, so decided to make vegan Spanakopita.  Here’s a quick Greek spinach pie that’s great for any occasion, even on a special holiday like Easter.  Spanakopita is often made of phyllo dough folded into triangles (think of folding a flag), but here I’ve used Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets to make a simple casserole (photo below) that saves a lot of time.  Often made with eggs, feta and ricotta cheeses, and lots of olive oil, this is a lighter, cleaner dish that still has that savory decadence.  To make it even easier, we’ve used frozen organic spinach, but I did use fresh dill for the sake of authentic flavor.


Makes 8 pieces

1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets,  thawed but cold
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced fine
1 clove garlic, pressed, or smashed and chopped
16 oz. frozen organic spinach, thawed, and drained
1/2 Cup fresh parsley, chopped, stems removed
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped, stems removed

1 Cup Almond Feta
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, ground or grated
Ener-G Egg Replacer to equal one egg
1 teaspoon mild white miso  (optional)
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.   Lightly oil a 9×13 inch baking pan and put it in the fridge.   Remove puff pastry sheets from the box, and set to thaw on the counter. Squeeze spinach in colander until pretty dry, then press it with the back of a spoon to get any last water out.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.   Saute onion until soft, adding the garlic in toward the end.   To the onions, add spinach, parsley and dill, and stir to combine and heat.   Remove spinach mixture from heat and set aside.

Place almond feta in a small mixing bowl, and add salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg replacer, white miso and flour, and stir until well mixed.   Fold almond feta mixture into the spinach mixture until well combined.

Unfold one puff pastry sheet, and cut and piece it to fit the bottom of the baking dish, gently pinching together any seams.  Spread the spinach/feta mixture on top of the pastry sheet.   Cut and piece the second pastry sheet and place over the top of the spinach mixture.   With a sharp knife, score portions into the casserole (for ease of cutting later).   Bake about 25-30 minutes, until puffy pastry is cooked through and golden and puffy all over.  The corner pieces might puff first, so make sure the center pieces are puffy as well.

Notes:  You can remove the box of puff pastry sheets from the freezer and put into the fridge a few hours ahead.  The mild white miso just adds a touch of umami, it’s not vital.

If you want to, you could make your own vegan phyllo dough, and some other brands of phyllo dough are supposedly vegan, such as Athens brand.  I wrote an email to the Athens company and received this prompt reply:  Amanda, Thank you for your interest in phyllo dough and our products. Yes our phyllo dough and mini phyllo shells are vegan.  Sincerely,  A.J. Shepler,  R&D Chef,  Athens Foods,  13600 Snow Road,  Brook Park, OH 44142.  216-676-8500 ext. 338.


Pasta With Vegetables in Wine and Saffron Cream Sauce

Inspired by Crunchy Pappardelle by Yotam Ottolenghi, this elegant pasta is versatile.  You can substitute whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.  Using some French technique, this is also a great little exercise in sauce making, but don’t be intimidated; it’s simple.  We’re using coconut milk creamer instead of heavy cream, but don’t worry, it does not taste like coconut.  I’ve added some toasted pine nuts for a little added protein, flavor and texture, but some other type of nuts or even cooked or canned cannelini beans would be great here too.

Pasta With Vegetables
   in Wine and Saffron Cream Sauce

Serves 2-4

Pinch of saffron (a pinch is 1/16th of a teaspoon, be sparing or it will taste odd)
1/4 Cup pine nuts, toasted (or some other chopped nuts)
3 Tablespoons Panko (no more)
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot or two small shallots, finely diced (or finely diced onion)
3 Cups of fresh broccoli florets,  cut to bite-size pieces and ready to saute.
1/2 Cup white wine
1 dried Bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, or 2 sprigs chopped fresh thyme, stems removed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch
2/3 Cup So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Creamer
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
grated zest of one organic lemon
1 small garlic clove, pressed, or crushed and chopped
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, stems removed
pasta for 2-4 people

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Blanch the broccoli florets in the boiling salted water for two minutes.
Using tongs or a spider strainer, remove the florets to a colander and drain them, keeping your hot water in the pot as you will use it to cook the pasta.
In a small dish, place saffron in two Tablespoons of water and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, toast the nuts until you see a bit of color on them, or smell a toasty aroma.
Remove the nuts from the skillet and then in the same pan, toast the panko until golden, stirring occasionally.
Remove the panko from the pan and then heat the oil in the same skillet over medium heat.
Saute chopped shallots in the hot oil until they soften.
To the shallots, add the wine, bay leaf, thyme and sugar.
Boil wine sauce gently until liquid is reduced by half.
In a very small dish, add the corn starch to 2 Tablespoons of the creamer and stir to create a smooth slurry.
Add the slurry and the remaining creamer to the wine sauce, and stir until thickened.
Add salt, pepper, and saffron/water to the wine sauce, and remove from heat.
Mix together the lemon zest, garlic and parsley.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook it.
When the pasta is just ready, add the blanched broccoli to the cream sauce and warm it over low heat.
Reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta.
Add half of the parsley mixture to the cream sauce.
Add the drained pasta to the cream sauce.
If the pasta and sauce seem a bit dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
Transfer to serving platter.
Stir the remaining parsley mixture into the panko and sprinkle over the pasta dish.
Scatter nuts over all.
Serve immediately.

Notes:  The key to this dish is prep–get everything washed, measured, chopped and ready to add to the pan.  To reheat, just put a couple of Tablespoons of water in a dry skillet, add the leftovers and stir to heat, adding water by the Tablespoon if necessary.  If using a vegetable like red bell pepper or mushrooms, you can saute that with the shallots.  I suppose you could use frozen broccoli florets too!

Candied Vegan Ham

I love whole foods, but Lars went vegetarian and really likes seitan.  So, the Candied Vegan Ham I saw on Pinterest caught my eye.  This recipe is from Chubby Vegan Mom, is very easy to make, and has the flavors  of the candied hams my Mom used to make when I was a kid.  What you see below is the recipe in half, because my slow cooker is only a 4 quart.  I changed a few little ratios, and in future, I would add ketchup, both for the red color, and some added acidity/tenderness (although this was not tough in texture).  I cut back on the fat–just used a Tablespoon of oil, and it worked great.

Serves 4 to 5

1.5 Cups Vital Wheat Gluten
1/2 Cup water
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1/4 Cup pineapple juice
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon liquid smoke
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1.5 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 Cup vegetable broth  (I use any of the vegan Better Than Bouillon)
1/4 Cup of ketchup  (my addition)

For the glaze:
1/4 Cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons pineapple juice
1 Tablespoon oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1.5 teaspoons molasses

Spray/oil your crock pot and turn it on low.
In a large bowl, dry whisk together gluten, nutritional yeast, pepper, onion powder, paprika and cloves.
In a smaller bowl, stir together pineapple juice, soy sauce, liquid smoke, maple syrup, water and catsup.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir until well mixed, using your hands if you need to.  I ended up having to add a few Tablespoons of extra water to get rid of any dry spots.
Form a round loaf and place in slow cooker.
Pour vegetable stock over and let it cook for two hours on low, and then three hours on high.
Once your vegan ham has cooked, place the loaf in a greased casserole dish.
Score the ham (make shallow criss-cross slices in the top of it with a knife).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, mustard, pineapple juice, oil and molasses.
Pour this glaze over your vegan ham and bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Let it sit for 15 minutes before slicing.

Notes:  This makes good vegan ham-and-cheese sandwiches.  It’s also great on vegan sweet potato buttermilk biscuits.   If you double the recipe, then you must shape it into two loaves so that they cook properly, and use a larger slow cooker.  If you want to get fancy, you could also garnish each loaf with a ring of pineapple and a maraschino cherry, like my Mom used to do.

Vegan Moroccan Bisteeya (aka Bastilla or Pastilla)


This recipe comes from the March/April 2012 issue of VegNews magazine.  I could not find an online link for it though.  Bisteeya is also called Bastilla or Pastilla, and is a favorite Berber dish from Morocco, served at the beginning of special meals.   It’s often made from pigeon, chicken, eggs and chicken fat (yuck).  Our recipe here is a clean, fragrant dish that could be the centerpiece of any festive meal.  Even though this vegan version is a lot quicker (with no dead animals or secretions to cook),  this is still somewhat time-consuming,  maybe it took me a couple of hours all together, including washing some dishes.  This would be good served alongside some Persian RiceMore photos below.
Moroccan Bisteeya,  Vegan Bastilla or Pastilla

Serves 6 to 8
2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, divided  (instead of chickpeas, I used one rounded cup of Soy Curls, hydrated for 10 minutes in some broth)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 Cup vegetable broth
tiny pinch saffron (to flavor broth)
1 Cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 Cup frozen green peas, thawed (or other vegetables)
1/2 Cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 Cup golden raisins
1/2 Cup pitted prunes, chopped
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 sheets vegan puff pastry, thawed
1/2 Cup toasted, slivered almonds  (this is a key ingredient)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mash half of chickpeas thoroughly, and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil.
Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in garlic and ginger, and cook one minute.
Reduce heat to low, stir in coriander, cumin, allspice and cayenne, and continue to cook for a few minutes, or until onion is very soft, stirring in saffron vegetable broth as you cook.
Stir in mashed chickpeas, coconut milk, peas, raisins, apricots and prunes.
Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in remaining chickpeas, cilantro, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt, and set aside to cool completely.
In a 9-inch springform or cake pan, press one sheet of pastry.
Spread cooled filling mixture evenly inside the pastry.
Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top of the filling.
Arrange the second sheet of pastry on top, tucking in the sides.
Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the top of the pastry, creating your serving lines (see photo below).  In other words, if you will cut your pie into 8 slices, cut those slice lines into only the top of the crust, marking out your slices and creating vents at the same time Be careful not to cut into the bottom crust.
If using a springform pan, place it on a baking sheet,  to prevent leaks.
Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes (mine took 40 in my electric oven).
Dust the top ever so slightly with cinnamon (my addition, since it’s traditional).
Cool for about 8 minutes before removing from pan and cutting into wedges.
Serve immediately.

Notes:  The key to this dish for me, is prep, prep, prep.  I measured out all the spices into a little cup and stirred them together.  I pre-mixed the lemon zest, lemon juice and salt, etc.  I threw in some green bell pepper and cooked sweet potato chunks that I had on hand, instead of the peas.  The toasting of the almonds added a lot to both the flavor and texture of this dish, and I just did mine in a dry skillet on top of the stove, on medium heat.  Traditionally, powdered sugar would be sprinkled over the top of the  crust, and some cinnamon too.  I’m guessing this is best re-heated in an oven, due to the dough.  I used a 9-inch Kaiser springform pan.  Any other vegan meat would work here, TVP, TSP, chopped seitan, etc.  This is one of those times when a Springform pan really comes in handy.

Maple Smoked Tofu Steaks

This is my favorite savory tofu to date.  It’s fast, easy and best when it’s hot out of the pan.  It’s succulent with a hint of caramelization and sweetness.  If you or anyone you know is not yet crazy about tofu, this is a great intro dish.  Like my Easy Marinated Tofu Steaks,  this can be a main dish, or sliced up for any other use, such as Bahn Mi sandwiches, wraps, etc.  You could also cube it before frying, and then spoon the crispy cubes over other dishes that need a hit of extra protein;  rice bowls, noodles and the like.  But honestly, if you sit with it and open your mind and nose, this silky, hot tofu steak would be delicious simply atop a bed of brown rice, with a few pickled vegetables or greens on the side.  My favorite way to eat this so far is in a wrap with a little Vegenaise or hummus, sliced dill pickles and raw kale shreds.  Again, I love my Tofu Xpress to squeeze all the water out of the tofu, but you could always do it the old fashioned way.  One more photo below.   p.s.  There’s also a great Teriyaki Tofu under the Tofu Category on this site.


14 oz. package organic, extra-firm tofu
2 Tablespoons Tamari sauce
2 Tablespoons real maple syrup  (use the good stuff)
1 Tablespoon oil, such as grapeseed or safflower (not canola)
1 Tablespoon cooking sherry or sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Liquid Smoke  (found in most grocery stores)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Drain, press and drain tofu very well.
Mix all other ingredients and whisk to make a marinade.
Slice dry tofu into two or four thin steaks.
Marinate tofu in refrigerator for an hour or two, turning it over once or twice.
Fry tofu in a dry, non-stick skillet on medium heat, pouring any excess marinade into the pan as you go.
Do not add any additional oil, you don’t need it.
Fry tofu steaks until they are seared golden brown and gorgeous.

Notes:  One of my favorite ways to eat this is in wraps with raw shredded kale, Vegenaise or hummus, and slices of sour pickles.  This amount would make 3-4 wraps.

Nutrition:  Calories 538.  Fat 30.  Saturated Fat 3.  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.  Monounsaturated Fat 3.  Cholesterol 0.  Sodium 632.  Carbs 12.  Fiber 0.  Sugars 7.  Protein 53.  Calcium 80%.  Iron 54%.

Puff Pastry Squash Tart with Almond Feta

This rich, savory tart is great for lunch, brunch or even a fancy dinner.  The Almond Feta from a previous post provides lots of protein and antioxidants.  And honestly, it tastes a lot like feta in this dish, but better.  I put this together in under one hour, so we could have it for lunch, and it made 6 generous slices.  The only phyllo style sheets I could find were Pepperidge Farm brand, but it worked out.  I looked at the Trader Joe’s phyllo recently, and was disappointed to see that it was NOT vegan.  I did use Penzey’s Greek Seasoning, but you could just improvise with lemon zest, oregano, and marjoram.  Lars had to have another half a slice, so depending upon whom you’re feeding (and what else you’re serving), the yield does vary.  Another photo below.  Vegan Mofo 2012.

Serves 4 to 6

1/3 Cup chopped parsley (flat leaf or regular)
1 teaspoon Penzey’s Greek Seasoning
1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small zucchini, cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds
2 small summer squash, cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds
one package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1/3 Cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced the long way
1/2 Cup Almond Feta, divided in half

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure Puff Pastry sheets are thawed but very chilled.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together parsley, Greek Seasoning,  garlic, only 2 Tablespoons of the oil, salt and pepper.
Place squash rounds in a large bowl, and add the remaining Tablespoon of oil and only 1/4 Cup of the Almond Feta, and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Unfold one sheet of puff pastry/phyllo and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Unfold second sheet of pastry, and slice off long, one-inch-wide strips and use them to build up the edges of the bottom sheet of phyllo  (see photo below).  I built mine up twice.  Visualize a picture frame.
Spread parsley mixture all over the bottom phyllo sheet.
Spread zucchini and squash rounds on top of the parsley.
Top with sliced olives and the remaining 1/4 Cup of Almond Feta.
Bake 30 minutes, until phyllo crust is golden brown.
Cut into six pieces, garnish with a light sprinkle of tiny oregano leaves (optional).

Notes:  It is important that the squash slices be cut no thicker than 1/8 inch, so that it cooks through with everything else.  In hindsight, I would cut the kalamata olives lengthwise (not in rings) as it would be prettier.

Here below is a photo of the built-up pastry edges.

Easy Marinated Tofu Steaks

These Marinated Tofu Steaks are for any application; wraps, Banh Mi sandwiches, salads, stir fries, etc.  I’ve made various marinated tofu recipes and they’ve all been too strong for my taste, so I created my own this morning.  Take a basic pack of organic extra-firm tofu, press, drain, marinate and fry it up, and that’s it.  The meat industry has done a good job of scaring people off soy, but it’s mostly wrong information they dispense, unless we’re talking about the genetically-modified, pesticide-laden freak soy that industry giants like Monsanto pump out.  Studies have proven that soy does NOT cause breast cancer (on the contrary), or cause the feminization of males, or any of the other stupid claims.  Whereas studies HAVE proven that meat and dairy cause cancer.  Hello, haven’t we all seen Forks Over Knives, or read The China Study? Anyway, DO be sure to buy only USDA Organic tofu and soy milk, and you’ll be better than fine.
(Vegan Mofo 2012)   p.s.  Be sure to check out the Maple Smoked Tofu Steaks, also on this site, they’re my favorite.
Marinated Tofu Steaks

one package extra-firm organic Tofu
1/4 Cup Cooking Sherry (or any type of vinegar)
2 Tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Drain tofu, and press it to expel the water out of it.
I use my Tofu Xpress to really press it well.
Mix all other ingredients and put them in a little glass dish.
Slice pressed-and-drained tofu into two steaks (see photo).
Place tofu steaks in marinade and chill in fridge, turning the tofu steaks every now and then.
Marinate for an hour, or several hours.
Remove tofu steaks from the marinade and place them directly into a non-stick skillet on medium heat, or one click below medium heat, and fry on both sides until golden brown.  You’ll need to eyeball the heat, and the frying may take a good 15 minutes or more.  You do not need oil in the skillet because of the oil in the marinade.
Slice and use.

Here’s a marinated tofu and veggie wrap with hummus, kale, carrot batons, and cucumber sticks that were sprinkled with rice vinegar and chilled.  So good for lunch or dinner.  You do not get that sleepy or stuffed feeling after eating this for lunch.  Fresh mushrooms would also be good in this.

Vegan Chicken Divan

When I was a kid, my Mom used to make Chicken Divan on special occasions.  Here we have a vegan version in the classic style that’s easy to make if you have all your ingredients prepped.  You can use whatever type of vegan meat you like, but I used the vegan Chicken Cutlets I posted recently.  Gardein cutlets, or homemade seitan should work well too.  This is a casserole you can make and carry to someones house to cook also.  You could even make it ahead and leave it in the fridge for a few hours until you’re ready to throw it in the oven.
Vegan Chicken Divan

Serves 4-6

10 oz. bag organic broccoli florets, cooked and drained
     or cooked florets from 1 large stalk of broccoli
1/4 Cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 Cups vegetable broth  (I used Better Than Bouillon)
1/4 Cup sherry or white wine  (sherry is traditional)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 Cup unflavored soy cream  (or soy milk)
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
2 Tablespoons vegan mayonnaise (I like Vegenaise)
Vegan chicken cutlets, or seitan, or whatever.   I used hydrated Healthy Eating Chiken Cutlets.

2/3 Cup Panko and/or vegan corn flake crumbs (I used 50% of each because I had them on hand)
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use cooking spray on a 9×13 inch casserole dish.
Spread cooked broccoli florets on the bottom of the baking dish.
Dry whisk together flour and pepper.
In a heavy pot, melt vegan butter over medium heat.
Add flour mixture and stir to combine.
Add vegetable broth and stir with a wire whisk until no lumps remain.
Continue stirring until mixture is thick and bubbly.
Remove from heat and whisk in soy milk or soy cream, sherry or wine, lemon juice, Nutritional Yeast and vegan mayonnaise.
Place vegan meat evenly on top of broccoli.
Pour sauce evenly over casserole.

Melt 2 Tablespoons of vegan butter, add salt and Panko and/or Cornflake crumbs, stir very well, and then scatter these buttered crumbs evenly over the casserole.
Dust with paprika if desired.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Notes:  If you want to bulk this up, you can serve it over brown rice or quinoa.  Kellogg’s Corn Flakes are not vegan or even vegetarian, so if you want to use corn flake crumbs, try Erewhon brand.  You could add a little vegan cheese to the casserole if you want to, but I haven’t tried that.  Next time I’ll add a a sprinkle of paprika for a bit more color.  I’m thinking hydrated Butler Soy Curls would also work great here.

Vegan Tonkatsu

Here’s a complementary post to the Tonkatsu Sauce I did just prior to this.  This main course is special enough for company, and just right to serve with a light cabbage salad, and maybe some edamame.  You can use whatever vegan meat you like.  I used some vegan cutlets and just sliced them into fingers, such as you would see in a Japanese restaurant.  This is the perfect dish to introduce Japanese cuisine to kids or picky eaters.  This recipe is from the American Vegan Kitchen cookbook, which has high reviews on Amazon.  She has several recipes for seitan in her book, but I just used what I had on hand.

Serves 4

seitan or soy meat, cut into 1-inch strips
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Cup soy milk (we love WestSoy Organic Unsweetened)
2/3 Cup all-purpose flour
1.5 Cups Panko crumbs
safflower oil, peanut oil or vegetable oil for frying

Dry whisk flour, salt and pepper together in shallow bowl.
Place soy milk in separate shallow bowl.
Place Panko crumbs in another separate shallow bowl.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels for draining.
Dip each vegan meat strip into soy milk, then dredge it in flour, and then
dip the strip back into the soy milk and then dredge it in the Panko crumbs and arrange on prepared baking sheet.
Repeat until all vegan meat is coated.

Heat a 1/2-inch layer of oil in a tall pot to reduce splatter, over medium heat.
Test oil by carefully dropping a single drop of water in the oil, where it should sizzle.
Add two or three pieces of seitan to the pot at a time, do not crowd.
Fry first side golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
Turn and fry second side until golden, 2-4 minutes.
Arrange on prepared baking sheet.
Serve with Tonkatsu Sauce.

Vegan Fried Chicken

I had some hydrated chiken cutlets burning a hole in my pocket, but I needed a breading recipe.  Enter The Sweetest Vegan.  This site blows my mind with how multi-layered it is.  After I watched the first adorable video, then I saw a second one, and so on.  I even saw Moby cooking on there!  So, I used some Penzey’s vegan buttermilk seasoning and cut down on the mustard, but the backbone of it is her basic, easy recipe.  I was impressed with the old-fashioned baking-powder crust, and the way it actually stuck to the cutlets.  This would be great to have with my vegan biscuits, my vegan macaroni and cheese and any of my vegan greens, salads or vegetables.  What we really want with fried chicken is the crust, the fat and salt and flavor, and we totally get that here.  We took our vegan fried chicken and made KFC-esque sandwiches (see photo below).
Vegan Fried Chicken Breading

Yields:  4 Vegan Fried Chicken Breasts (at least)

2 Cups peanut oil or safflower oil
2 teaspoons Penzey’s Buttermilk Ranch Seasoning  (or whatever seasonings you have in your cupboard)
1.5 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 Cup water
2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
4 vegan chicken cutlets

Heat oil over medium heat in a pot with tall sides.
Whisk seasonings, flour and Nutritional Yeast in a shallow bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk mustard and water.
Stir 1/3 Cup of the flour mixture into the mustard water.
Whisk Baking Powder into the remaining flour mixture.
Make sure your hydrated cutlets or vegan meat is dry.
Make sure oil is hot by dropping one droplet of water into it.
Dredge, dip and coat the vegan chiken cutlets into the mustard and then the flour, and then right into the oil, one at a time.
Do not crowd the pot; cook only one or two at a time.
Fry the vegan meat until crispy and golden brown, and this took me less than one minute.  Watch closely or they will burn.

Vegan Sweet and Sour Chicken – Luau Soy Curls

This easy vegan main dish will satisfy any cravings for sweet-and-sour chicken.  You know, that classic “Chinese Restaurant” dish the Cantonese created for their American customers decades ago.  Good enough for company, and great over brown rice, You can use Butler Soy Curls, which are a nice staple for the pantry.  Or you can use a product like Beyond Meat Chicken Strips, which is even easier.  I saw another recipe for a similar dish, on Chez Bettay, but I haven’t tried it yet.  I adapted this version below directly from the Butler Soy Curls web site.  The first time I made this, we felt the Butler recipe was too salty, so I omitted the extra salt below.

Hawaiian Luau Soy Curls

Serves 4

3 oz. Butler Soy Curls
or  Beyond Meat Chicken Strips (any flavor)

1 Cup hot water or vegetable broth
1 onion chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
20 oz. Can of pineapple chunks in natural juice (reserve juice)
3 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast (aka Yeast Flakes)
4 Tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos   (I actually prefer Tamari or soy sauce)
2 Tablespoons oil for sautéing (I like Dr. Bronner’s Fresh-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil, unrefined)

Reserved juice from pineapple (entire amount from can)
juice from one lemon, or up to 1/3 Cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Put Soy Curls into a bowl and cover with hot water or broth,  let stand for about 10 minutes.  Drain well.    Chop onion and set aside.   Chop peppers.
Reserving the juice, drain pineapple.

In a small bowl mix sauce ingredients (pineapple juice, lemon juice, sugar and corn starch).    Stir until cornstarch is completely dissolved, and set aside.

In frying pan on medium heat, put 1 Tablespoon of oil.   Sauté vegan chicken in hot oil until a hint of crispiness appears.    Add Nutritional Yeast , and Bragg’s or soy sauce, and sauté until golden brown.   Remove vegan chicken from frying pan.

Add final Tablespoon of oil to pan, add chopped onion and sauté until soft.Add chopped peppers, and pineapple chunks to onions, and sauté until peppers are cooked but still a bit crunchy.

Add cooked Soy Curls back to pan with vegetables. Pour Sauce mixture into pan and stir until mixture becomes slightly thick (this happens pretty quickly)Remove from heat and serve immediately over brown rice.

Notes:  If using soy curls:  If using vegetable broth to rehydrate the soy curls (instead of water), and it’s got sodium in it, you might want to reduce the Bragg’s by one Tablespoon.

Curried Chickpea Cakes by Kim Barnouin

These Curried Chickpea Cakes are easy and delicious, with a definite-but-light Indian flavor profile.  This recipe is from  Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook by Kim Barnouin.  I made a quick condiment for them by mixing one part Patak’s Mango Chutney (from a jar), with two parts Vegenaise.  It makes ten cakes, and I ended up freezing 5 or 6 of them for another quick meal.  The cookbook says this makes ten servings, but we easily ate two each and a hungry boy or man could wipe out three with no problem.  I switched out the bread crumbs for Quinoa Flakes and had good success.  I guess this makes mine gluten free, except that I rolled them in Panko before frying.  However, you could also use crushed vegan Corn Flakes for the coating instead of the Panko.  I think if you made these really petite, maybe one tablespoon each, they’d make great appetizers topped with a little dollop of chutney and a cilantro leaf or something.  This is also a great recipe when you have some leftover brown rice you want to use up.   p.s. This is a pretty, reader-friendly, sort of California-chic cookbook and would make a great gift.


Makes 9-10 cakes (approximately 5 servings)

15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 Cup sliced green onions (both white and light green parts)
1/3 Cup light coconut milk
2/3 Cup Quinoa Flakes or bread crumbs or Panko
2/3 Cup crumb coating, such as bread crumbs, Panko or vegan corn flakes crushed
2 teaspoons cane sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional but I use it every chance I get for its health benefits and golden color)
2/3 Cup cooked brown rice
1/4 Cup grapeseed oil for pan searing

In a food processor, combine chickpeas and green onions, and pulse until combined  (see photo below for my consistency).   Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Dry whisk sugar, all spices and salt to evenly incorporate them.
To mixing bowl, add coconut milk, sugar/salt/spices and Quinoa Flakes.
Stir together with a wooden spoon until well combined.   Stir in the brown rice.
Mold into ten patties, using a scant 1/4 Cup measure.   Roll patties in crumb coating.

In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat.    Add chickpea cakes to the pan in batches and saute until there’s a nice golden sear on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Transfer to paper-towel-lined plate to drain.  Continue with remaining cakes.

Tip:  You can make these ahead and re-heat them in the oven or microwave.  They freeze well too.  For a quick condiment, mix 1/4 Cup of mango chutney with 1/2 Cup vegan mayonnaise, such as Vegenaise.

Nutritional Values:  Servings 123 g.  Calories 170.  Fat 7 g.  Saturated Fat 1 g.  Cholesterol 0 mg.  Carbs 23 g.  Fiber 3 g.  Protein 4 g.

Susan’s Ribz with a Z – Seitan Barbecue Ribs

I saw this easy recipe on Everyday Dish, and had to try it.  It originates from the popular FatFree Vegan Kitchen site, but it’s worth watching the Everyday Dish video because Julie Hasson eliminates the kneading, saving time and effort.  You could use your own barbecue sauce, but I simply opened a bottle of accidentally-vegan Kraft Original barbecue sauce and it saved a lot of time and really stuck to the ribs well.  I  don’t have a cast-iron grill pan, so I just used a cast iron skillet on the stove, with great results.  The ribs came out really delicious and I can’t wait to make them on the grill this summer.  If you don’t cut them all the way through, they hold together enough so that you can flip them in racks (see video), which would make outdoor grilling a lot easier.  I served them with my baked stuffed potatoes and steamed, chopped kale sprinkled with umeboshi vinegar.  Lars said these would make great vegan McRib sandwiches, so that’s what I made with the leftovers, and they were even better than just the plain ribs.  I never had a McRib but they can’t be as good as this.  I unthinkingly cut my ribs into only 10 pieces so they might look a little wider than those on the video.  Finally, this is a “man pleaser” as they’re very meaty in texture and really smell like classic BBQ while you’re cooking them.  They taste like good barbecue too, because what we really want is the sweet, spicy, smoky flavor, and you get that here.
Susan’s Ribz with a Z – Susan V’s Barbecued Seitan Ribs

Makes 10-16 pieces

1 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika (I only had regular paprika)
2 Tablespoons “nooch” (Nutritional Yeast)
2 teaspoons onion powder or granulated onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic

3/4 Cup water
2 Tablespoons peanut butter, or other nut butter, or tahini, etc.
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (I like Wright’s All Natural Hickory Seasoning)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce (I prefer Tamari)
about 1 Cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (I used 3/4 Cup at most)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lightly spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with canola oil.
Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, mix the water with the nut butter, Liquid Smoke and Tamari, until blended.  I used a Caffe Latte Frother for complete emulsion.
Add water mixture to the dry ingredients, and stir to mix well.
Put dough into prepared baking dish and flatten it so it evenly fills the pan.
Take a sharp knife and cut into 8 strips, but do not cut all the way through.
Then turn the pan and cut those strips in half to form 16 pieces (in 2 racks).
Bake for 25 minutes.
While it’s cooking, prepare your grill pan, or grill or cast-iron skillet; spray with oil, etc.  I just used a little Earth Balance vegan butter.
When it’s done baking, carefully cut down that main center line to break it into two racks of ribz.
Generously brush the top of one rack with barbecue sauce.
Invert onto hot pan or grill, sauce-side down.
While it’s starting to cook, brush the top with more sauce.
Watch it closely to make sure it doesn’t burn.
When it’s sufficiently caramelized and brown on one side, flip it over and cook the other side, adding more sauce if necessary.
You may want to brush and flip a few times.
When done, remove to a platter and finish cutting apart the riblets.

Notes:  I did the baking part and then put the whole pan in the fridge so I could throw it all together quickly on the stove top at dinner time.  The liquid smoke is a key ingredient, don’t skip it.

Vegan Momofuku Pork Buns a la David Chang

Here’s a vegan version of what is arguably David Chang’s most famous dish, from Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City.  These Vegan Pork Buns are so good that we had them for dinner two nights in a row.  Using vegan bao buns and vegan char siu might seem complicated and time consuming, but they are really neither.  All the elements of this dish are easy.  The only thing that can’t be made ahead are the quick pickled cucumbers, and they take literally 2 minutes to make and are ready in 10 minutes.  One tip is to make the bao buns ahead and put them immediately into the freezer.  Then they’re ready when you want to make the char siu and throw the whole thing together.  Another thing to consider is that the scallions are absolutely essential to the taste of this dish, as is the hoisin sauce.
Vegan Momofuku Pork Buns


vegan bao buns
vegan char siu
small jar of hoisin sauce
scallions, washed and trimmed, and cut into small circles
1-2 “meaty Kirby” cucumbers, peeled (I used regular cukes)
1 Tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (for cucumbers)

Steam frozen bao buns for 2-3 minutes until soft and warmed through.
Slice cucumber into 1/8-inch-thick rounds.
Mix the one Tablespoon of sugar with the 1 teaspoon of salt.
Toss cucumber rounds with salt/sugar and wait 5 minutes.
Rinse cucumbers and set to drain in colander.  They are ready.
Chill cucumbers in fridge if you are not using them immediately.
Open bao buns and slather with hoisin sauce.
Arrange cucumber pickles on one side of the bun and vegan char siu on the other side.
Scatter with scallions, and EAT.
Serve with sriracha sauce if you like (we did not).

Notes:  The scallions and hoisin are essential parts of this dish.  Supposedly, the pickled cucumbers will keep for up to 4 hours, but I found them too limp for my liking even one hour later, so I suggest not making them until the last minute.

Vegan Pumpkin Gnocchi with Chanterelles and Sage

Rolling gnocchi off an antique butter paddle.  The whimper in the background is my dog Ipo letting me know it’s time for her mid-morning snack, not kidding.

I veganized this recipe from an old Martha Stewart show.  You can watch the video here.  The famous chef says this recipe is hundreds of years old.  I had never made gnocchi before and this combination sounded so good.  And, it is.  There’s a line in one of the Isabel Dalhousie novels where she says something like, “I think chanterelles just elevate a dish, don’t you?”  They sure do, and their golden color and flavor are so simpatico with the pumpkin and this time of year.  It wasn’t hard to veganize this.  I lightened it up by substituting cheesy (and vitamin packed) Nutritional Yeast for the parmigiana, and then used rich soy creamer and vegetable stock.  I also couldn’t see using two Tablespoons of salt.   One thing I ran into was that I needed a lot of bench flour, like more than an extra cup of it.  The dough was so sticky.  Watching the video helped, and I noticed that the chef used a lot of bench flour too.  I had never cooked with sage leaves in this way before, and was surprised at how wonderful and mild the flavor was.  With the golden chanterelles and the squash flavors, it was like a little Fall symphony!  p.s.  My gnocchi look a bit clumsy, but they taste great.  There are also some good videos on youtube where they show the old method of rolling the gnocchi off a fork to get the sauce-catching ridges in them.  Like this one.  These gnocchi freeze very well too.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Mushrooms

Serves 4

1 small sugar pumpkin (1.5 to 2 lbs.), stem removed, halved lengthwise and seeded  (or use my easier baked pumpkin method) (I bake two un-cut pumpkins since I’ve got my oven going)
2 Cups “00”  (zero zero) flour, plus more for work surface (or all-purpose flour, which is what I used)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt in the flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt in the water
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for serving
1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
2 Tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance Buttery Stick)
2 shallots, finely chopped
20 medium chanterelle mushrooms, well rinsed, and sliced or trimmed
6 fresh sage leaves
1 Cup vegetable stock (I like Better Than Bouillon stock base, some are vegan)
1 Cup soy creamer  (I used Silk brand)
1 teaspoon dry sherry (totally optional)

Use my easier baked pumpkin method, or do the following:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place pumpkin halves, cut side up, on baking sheet and fill each with one Tablespoon of water.
Cover with foil.
Transfer to oven and roast until soft, about 45 minutes.  Let cool.
Scrape pumpkin flesh from skin, and discard skin.
I like to puree my pumpkin flesh now.
Reserve 1/4 Cup of pumpkin puree (for the sauce).

Mound flour in center of a large work surface; add 2 teaspoons salt and the nutmeg. Using a fork, mix until well combined.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
Add up to 2 cups pumpkin and the Nutritional Yeast to the well.
Slowly incorporate flour, beginning with inner rim of well.
Note;  I used another whole cup of bench flour to get rid of extreme stickiness.
When flour is incorporated, gather dough together to form a rounded mass; knead mixture until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes.
Divide dough into 6 equal pieces.
Roll each piece of dough into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter; cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces.  My knife kept sticking to the dough, so I switched to a plastic pastry scraper and it worked great for cutting the gnocchi.
Transfer gnocchi to a baking sheet and cover with a clean, wet/damp towel.
Repeat process until all the dough has been used.

Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.
Add last teaspoon of salt to water, and return to a boil.
Add gnocchi and cook until they rise to the top, about 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat and add butter and shallots.
Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until shallots are golden.
Add stock, mushrooms and sage; cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup pumpkin, vegan creamer, and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
If you want to, you can add an extra Tablespoon of Nutritional Yeast here.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to skillet and toss to combine.
Serve immediately with freshly grated nutmeg.
Everyone can season with salt and pepper at table.

Notes:  You can make the pumpkin a day ahead, as I did.   Note that once you begin to add the mushrooms, sage, etc., the sauce should be done in a couple of minutes.  If you overcook it at that point, it sort of turns into a loose pumpkin puree, instead of a creamy sauce.  I was surprised at how pleasant and mild the sage leaves were.  The second time I made it, I put the mushrooms in a couple of minutes earlier, and added 1 teaspoon of dry sherry, and we really liked it.  Be sure to rinse the chanterelles really well as they can have teensy bits of grit in them.  You could use cheaper mushrooms, but now that we’ve tasted the chanterelles in this dish, I wouldn’t even make it without them.  Their golden meaty flavor is just perfect here.  These gnocchi freeze very well.

Falafel Burgers

I never thought I liked falafel, until I made them at home and realized how light, tender and flavorful they could be.  Maybe you have a good falafel restaurant near you, but if you don’t, this recipe is easy and well worth the effort.  I decided to make falafel burgers instead of falafel balls because this takes some of the time and work out of it.  Serve with this excellent vegan Tzatziki sauce.
Falafel Burgers

Makes six burgers

1 cup dried chickpeas (or 1 can chick peas)
¼ C bulgur (optional)  or cooked quinoa (optional)
juice of one lemon (for soaking the bulgur)
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons flour
1 onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, stems removed (or 2 teaspoons dried parsley)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon fine sea salt (not kosher salt)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if you like it hot, double it)
1 teaspoon onion powder
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 more Tablespoons of flour
peanut oil, or other oil for frying
Chopped tomato for garnish (only if in season)
Tahina sauce, or hummus, or vegan Tzatziki sauce
Burger buns, or pita pockets

Put dried chickpeas in a glass bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, and then drain. Or use 1 can chickpeas, drained.

If using, put bulgur into small bowl with lemon juice, and let rest for 45 minutes.

Mix baking powder into 4 Tablespoons of the flour.
Place all of the drained, uncooked chickpeas in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and chop until coarsely ground.   Remove processed chick peas and put them into a large bowl.

Into the food processor add the onions, parsley, cilantro, salt, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, cumin and flour-and-baking-powder mixture.   Process until blended but not pureed.

Add the onion mixture and the hydrated bulgur (or cooked quinoa) (if using) to the ground chickpeas in the bowl, and stir with a wooden spoon.
Add last three Tablespoons of flour and mix again with wooden spoon.
Turn this mixture into a container and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.

Make burger patties, using a half-cup measure, making sure to use level cups, so you  get six burgers.  In a large, non-stick skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons of oil on medium-low heat.   Place burgers in skillet, and let them cook on one side for about 5 to 10 minutes.  You’ll  know if the burgers are ready to flip when you give the skillet a little shake and the burgers move.  If the burgers do not move, don’t flip them yet or they will fall apart.Drain on paper towels only if necessary.   Dress your burgers with sliced garden tomatoes, grated cucumber, etc.   Drizzle with tahina thinned with water, hummus, or my favorite cool and creamy vegan Tzatziki sauce.   Note: These also freeze well.  I tried substituting rice flour one time but did not care for it.

Vegan Baked Kibbeh

Kibbeh is eaten in many Middle Eastern countries, such as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and the Arabian Peninsula.  I adapted this recipe from one I found on epicurious, and then I read a recipe in another cookbook to make sure that kibbeh really is sometimes baked, and that the spices were right.  There’s a good Wikipedia entry on kibbeh too.  Kibbeh has two textures; the looser, “meatier” interior, and the finer, bulgur-laced shell.  It can be made in individual deep-fried balls, or baked in a pan, which is quicker and less fatty.  In order to achieve these two textures, I used two different analog meats; Boca Crumbles and Yves Meatless Ground, and it’s amazing how well they worked together to make authentic Kibbeh textures.  I was originally inspired to create a Middle Eastern section on this blog because I read an article about Conflict Kitchen.  It’s sad that a good concept blows it by promoting the violent killing of innocent beings, but I embrace the peaceful part of the intentions behind Conflict Kitchen.  So, I’m creating our very own, truly peaceful Vegan Conflict Kitchen, right here, for all of us.  I’ve already posted Persian Rice, and Spicy Lebanese Potatoes, and they’re both excellent.  Before I went vegan, I tried kibbeh at restaurants; those little fried footballs that were pretty bland and unhealthy.  So, this Vegan Baked Kibbeh was a pleasant surprise, because it’s light, delicately flavored and versatile.  We had flatbread sandwiches out of it, and I even made Kibbeh Pasties (see photo below), or Kibbeh Empanadas, if you will.  And, they were both superb.  As a side note, I once again missed out on the sign-up for Vegan Mofo (Vegan Month of Food), but am going to dedicate all recipes for the rest of October to Vegan Mofo.  Man, I just can’t get no love from Isa and Terry.  p.s.  There are more photos of this dish done in different ways, below.  And, this recipe looks long and involved, but active time is really less than an hour, and it makes a lot.

Vegan Baked Kibbeh

Active time:  40 minutes  (2 hours including cooking time)

Makes approximately 8 servings (or ten?)

For filling
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb. Boca Crumbles
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts plus 2 tablespoons for garnish, toasted

For bulgur mixture:
1 cup bulgur  (I used Arrowhead Mills Organic regular bulgur)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 package Yves Meatless Ground
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Special equipment: a 9-inch-square baking dish, or a 10-inch cast-iron skillet.

Make filling:
Cook onion in oil in a heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes.
Add Boca Crumbles, allspice, salt, cinnamon and pepper, and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup pine nuts.

Make bulgur mixture:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a bowl, cover bulgur with cold water.
When dust and chaff rise to surface, pour off water and then repeat this rinsing two more times.
Cover rinsed bulgur with cold water and let stand 10 minutes.
Drain in a very-fine mesh sieve, and quickly press and shake gently to remove excess liquid.  Set aside.
In a food processor, pulse onion until finely chopped.
Add Yves Meatless Ground, allspice, salt, cinnamon and pepper.
Pulse until mixture is finely mixed and somewhat smooth.
Add bulgur to food processor and process to blend all.

Assemble and bake kibbeh:
Lightly grease pan or skillet with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil (I just used cooking oil spray).
Press half of bulgur mixture evenly onto bottom of pan.
Spoon filling evenly over bulgur mixture.
Spoon remaining bulgur mixture over filling and spread to cover, smoothing top.
Brush top with remaining olive oil, or melted Earth Balance, or spray oil, and score in a crosshatch pattern with a knife.
Bake kibbeh in middle of oven until cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes.

Preheat broiler.
Broil kibbeh 5 to 7 inches from heat until top is golden brown and crusty, 3 to 5 minutes.
Garnish with reserved 2 Tablespoons of toasted pine nuts.
Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Serve with sumac spice, vegan yogurt sauce, etc.
Can be made into flatbread sandwiches, stuffed into pita pockets with shredded lettuce, made into hand pies, etc.

Note:  I served mine with my Turkish Yogurt Coriander Sauce, and it was killer good.  You could also serve it with plain vegan yogurt.

This photo shows the baked kibbeh in a pan.  Apparently some Middle Eastern moms will baste the top with butter, and you could do that with some melted Earth Balance, but I just sprayed mine with canola oil to give the top a bit of crunch.  This slices nicely due to the scoring, and you can easily lift pieces out with a dinner fork.  Keep going, there’s one more photo below.

OK, this last photo shows a Kibbeh Pasty.  Or it could be a kibbeh empanada, or  kibbeh hand pie, whatever you want to call it.  I made them with my buttery, flaky, vegan French Pate Brise, and man, it was absolutely delicious!  I drizzled them with the Turkish Yogurt Almond Sauce and sprinkled them with toasted almonds, and they were gorgeous.

Coconut Curry Quinoa Stew

img_3152     I adapted this easy recipe from a little brochure that came with my bag of Ancient Harvest quinoa.  This stew by itself is good, but we felt it could use a little something more, so I put out mango chutney and shelled some salted pistachios, and once we garnished our bowls with those, it was more along the lines of very good.  This is a great one-pot meal, really, but if you serve it with some greens and a good bread, it’s a healthy feast.  Lots of protein, warm and comforting.   You could also put out some sriracha sauce for those who want it hot.   I just use whatever veggies I have in the house sometimes–it’s flexible like that.  Some cornbread or a fruity quick bread would be a great accompaniment, or could serve as dessert.  I served it with steamed kale on the side, too.


Serves 6 to 8  (recipe said it serves 4 but it makes a lot)

1 Tablespoon unrefined coconut oil  (or olive oil)
1 medium onion, diced
1 small zucchini or summer squash, chopped
2 celery stalks chopped small  (optional)
1 yellow or red bell pepper diced
1.5 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ Cup uncooked quinoa
1.5 Cups water
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cinnamon stick,  or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Cup cooked kidney beans  (I use one 15 oz. can drained)
14 oz. can light coconut milk
If fresh corn is available, kernels from 2 to 3 ears, added in at last minute
Fresh parsley and/or cilantro for garnish
Chutney for topping (stir it up so it’s a little soupy for drizzling)
salted pistachio nuts, shelled, for topping

Chop vegetables.   Heat oil in a heavy-bottom soup pot or Dutch oven, on medium heat.
Add all vegetables and stir occasionally, for 5 minutes.   Add ground spices to vegetables and mix in.    Add quinoa to the pot and stir.    Add water, salt, cinnamon, beans and coconut milk.    Simmer until quinoa drinks up the liquid and vegetables are soft, 15-20 minutes.    Remove cinnamon stick if using.

Put out chopped cilantro, chopped parsley, plenty of shelled pistachios and a sweet chutney for drizzling, and let everyone garnish their own dish however they like.  It’s good to remember that cilantro is an acquired taste for some.  This stew will thicken as it sits.

Note:  I like Patak’s Chutney (found in many grocery stores) and there are different flavors, such as sweet mango or hot mango.

Grilled Seitan Bulgogi

This vegan seitan bulgogi (Korean barbecue) tastes authentic; very good.  I’ve seen a version of this recipe in several places, so it’s hard to know who started it.  The oldest posting I found is from a now-defunct vegan blog, but the new “hot” recipe is from a blog called Get Sconed!, and it’s a tribute to one of her favorite TV shows, Lost.  I’m thinking I’ll make this for my Dad the next time he comes to visit.  Lars and I really liked this and I’ll be using it again on the grill  this summer.  I served it over short-grain brown rice flavored with coconut milk and dried (unsweetened coconut).  I used seitan sausage I made myself, sliced on a slant.
Vegan Grilled Seitan Bulgogi

Serves 6

1/4 Cup vegetable broth
3 Tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce (no Bragg’s, please)
2 Tablespoons sherry
2 Tablespoons dark agave nectar (light colored agave works fine too)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic crushed or minced
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 green onions chopped (1/4 cup)
2 lbs. plain seitan, sliced on the bias

Whisk together broth, Tamari (or soy sauce), sherry, agave nectar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and pepper in a shallow dish.
Stir in green onions.
Add seitan, marinate two hours.
Preheat grill or grill pan to medium heat (or cook it in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, as I did).
Drain seitan, and grill 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until browned and firm.

Note:  If using a cast-iron skillet, you must watch it so it doesn’t stick, maybe scoop it with a spatula and add a touch of oil.   A non-stick pan might be useful here, not sure.  I only had time to marinate mine for an hour but it still tasted wonderful. 

Vegan Swedish Meatballs (Kottbullar) from The Vegan Table cookbook

This recipe for vegan Swedish Meatballs (kottbullar) from The Vegan Table cookbook was a success for us.  Before I went vegan, I used to like the Swedish Meatballs plate at IKEA but it was not vegan, of course.  I did tweak this recipe a bit, but it’s a winner, especially when paired with classic accompaniments such as gravy and potatoes.  I did not have any lingonberry jam, but cranberry sauce made a good substitute.  I did read some complaints about the sauce in this recipe, so I made a gravy of my own.  Either of the easy gravies on this site would be good here.  I made mashed potato puffs with dill, but any potatoes would do.  If you have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, this is the time to use it, because the vegan sausage is very dense and hard to mix.  Colleen Patrick Goudreau suggests using your hands to mix, so I’m guessing that works ok too, but perhaps you’ll get it more evenly incorporated with the flat beater on the KitchenAid stand mixer.  I added just a few things to make the meatballs richer:  1/4 teaspoon of dried dill, a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh flatleaf parsley, a Tablespoon of olive oil to the mixture (Gimme Lean is fat free), and 2 teaspoons of vegan Worcestershire sauce (such as Wizard brand, which is so delicious).  Make sure to dice the onion fine, because the meatballs are small.  I pan fried these in a cast-iron skillet which gave them a nice, authentic crust.  The main comment I have is that I will use the plain Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style with this dish next time, and not the Gimme Lean Ground Sausage Style.  You see, the “Sausage” has a distinct maple’y flavor, like that of breakfast sausage, that is not quite right in the Swedish meatballs.  Whereas, the Ground “Beef” is a plain flavor that should not mask and confuse the lovely seasonings in Colleen’s recipe.  I’m guessing the result would be more pure and simple, and classic in flavor.  I wasn’t too careful on measuring, I just used a cereal spoon to scoop up the meatballs and so I got 46 small meatballs, not the 60 “tiny” meatballs Colleen specifies.  This took an hour or so but now I have enough to freeze for the two of us, for 3 or 4 more meals.  Fry them before freezing because prior to frying, the raw meatballs are a bit gooey.  Lars is of Scandinavian descent and he really liked these, and I did too.  So, the next time you’re at IKEA, pick up some Lingonberry jam and make these vegan Swedish Meatballs!

Vegan Zucchini Crab Cakes

For all those who miss the flavor of crab cakes.   These are delicate and must be handled a bit gently.  In my opinion, this is a “wow” recipe; something you can serve as a special meal.  The Nori gives a faint hint of oceanic flavor, and the Panko gives the outside of the cake a delicate crunch that’s refined in a Japanese way.  Serving them with a vegan tartar sauce or better yet, this Vegan Remoulade Sauce is a must.  And so are at least two lemon wedges per serving.  These will take you at least an hour, but they’re worth it.  They freeze beautifully, so you’ll have some for future.  There are easy tips in this recipe; a non-stick skillet, pressing the tofu until it’s dry, etc.  Follow the procedures and all will be well.  This would be a great recipe to use when the zucchini ripens this summer.


Makes approximately 14 “crab” cakes.

3 slices whole wheat bread toasted and processed into fine crumbs (I use Ezekiel Bread with the orange wrapper)
1 flax egg   (mix 1 Tablespoon flax meal with 3 Tablespoons water and let thicken)
3 Cups (no more) zucchini, pulsed fine in food processor (don’t peel it if it’s organic) (I used two approx. 8-inch zucchini and got just about 3 cups)
1 stalk celery finely chopped (food processor)
1/2 yellow or white onion finely chopped (food processor)
1 carrot (food processor)
1/4 Cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
1 teaspoon neutral-tasting oil (such as canola, safflower or grapeseed)
16 oz. firm tofu, pressed and dry (food processor but do not puree)
1 sheet Nori seaweed, chopped (I fold it and use scissors to snip into very small pieces)
1/2 Cup vegan mayonnaise (I like Reduced Fat Vegenaise)
1 Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 Cup Panko crumbs (for coating)
Cooking spray (if baking)

Preheat the oven to 350 if baking.
In a lightly oiled skillet on medium heat, sauté zucchini, celery, onion, carrot, and parsley until the vegetables are softened but firm. Set them aside.
In a large bowl, combine the processed tofu, flax egg, sautéed vegetables, 3/4 of the whole wheat bread crumbs, vegan mayonnaise, seaweed, and seasonings, and mix everything well. If the mixture seems too wet and isn’t holding together, add the remaining toasted crumbs until you have a mixture that is moist and easy to shape into patties. Usually I use the entire amount of toasted crumbs.
Form about 14 half-inch-thick patties, using a level 1/3 cup of mixture for each.
Coat each patty with Panko bread crumbs and put on a plate.
Spray or heat a little oil in a seasoned (or nonstick) skillet until the pan is hot but the oil isn’t smoking.    Gently lay each patty in the pan and fry about 5 minutes.
Don’t fuss with the cakes until they move freely when you gently shake the pan forth and back.    When the cakes are golden brown on one side, gently turn them over and fry the other side.

Alternatively, you can place the patties on an oiled, lined (or nonstick) baking sheet.  Spray each patty lightly with cooking spray and bake about 15 minutes.
Then, gently turn the patties and continue baking until toasty brown.

Serve hot or warm with Vegan Remoulade Sauce and lemon wedges.   Note:  These freeze beautifully.  Fry them and cool completely before freezing.  To serve, thaw and reheat in the oven or microwave.  I highly recommend that you belly up to the food processor for this recipe, and process everything in groups.  It saves a ton of time.  If you cannot find the Old Bay Seasoning in your country, here is a recipe for it.  It really adds a lot and is the classic, essential seasoning here in the Mid-Atlantic on the Chesapeake Bay.  I did use myTofuExpress tofu press here, but it’s easy to simply put the tofu on a plate and put another plate on top and then a weight (a can of soup or a book) on top of the top plate, and just keep draining.

Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles

This recipe for vegan Dan Dan Noodles can be mostly prepped ahead, and then thrown together at dinnertime.  I made this the first time with soba noodles, but upon reheating, the soba stuck together and made a gloppy mess.  So now I use Ka-me brand Curly Noodles (Chuka Soba) from the store and they’re great, lending a Chinese-food flavor and texture.  But, many dried Oriental noodles would do.  You can play with this, as many chefs do.  For veggies, I’ve used chopped green cabbage, finely chopped celery, grated carrots, bell peppers, etc.  You could use water chestnuts, or throw in handfuls of chopped frozen spinach.  Again, you can make the base of the sauce the day before, and you could even chop everything that morning so you’d have everything ready for a quick throw-together at dinnertime.   p.s. If you want to go all out and be authentic, Penzey’s has the real Szechuan peppercorns, but plain ground black pepper is also good.  Traditionally, this is made with Chinese Chili Oil, but I’ve kept this recipe in such a way that it uses ingredients most people might have at home.


Serves 4

2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter or Tahini
2 Tablespoons Tamari, or low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon white miso paste  (or yellow miso)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Cup hot water

2 teaspoons peanut oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
½ tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns (or ground black pepper)
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

1 to 2 Cups chopped vegetables
12 oz. package soy crumbles, such as Beyond Beef,  or Boca
1 Tablespoon vinegar, such as brown-rice vinegar or umeboshi vinegar or Chinese black vinegar
squirt of Sriracha sauce (optional)

5 oz. (up to 8 oz.) pkg. Asian Curly Noodles, such as Ka-Me brand
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 Cup chopped toasted cashews or peanuts (I use Planters from a can)
Optional: 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

Whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, miso, sugar and 1 cup hot water in medium bowl, and set aside.   Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.   Add garlic, pepper and ginger, and cook 1 minute.   Stir in vegetables, and cook 2 more minutes.   Add vegan meat crumbles and cook 2 minutes more.    Add tahini/miso or peanut butter/miso sauce to skillet and stir.  Bring to a simmer, and cook 3 minutes more.    Add vinegar and optional squirt of Sriracha sauce, and turn heat off.

Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions, but throw a teaspoon of sesame oil (or some other oil) into the boiling water to prevent noodles from sticking together.    Drain noodles, and place in a large bowl.  Toss with 2 cups of vegan meat sauce, or ladle the meat sauce on top.    Garnish with cashews or peanuts and then green onions.    Optional: sprinkle sesame seeds over all.   Serve hot.

Vegan Hunt’s Manwich Sloppy Joes

This vegan Manwich is fast, easy and delicious.  I first saw Manwich on the Accidentally Vegan lists put out by PETA.  I doctor mine up with what I have on hand, such as grated carrot, finely-diced onion, garlic, or bell pepper.  I’ll sometiomes throw in a half Cup of raw walnuts, but you can’t really taste them.  For little ones, it might be easier to serve on hotdog buns.

Vegan Hunt’s Manwich Sloppy Joes

Serves:  about 6

15.5 oz. can of Hunt’s Manwich Original Sloppy Joe Sauce
1 medium or large onion, diced
2 small or medium carrots, grated (or one large carrot)
2 cloves garlic, pressed, or crushed and minced
1 teaspoon cooking oil, such as safflower or peanut, etc.
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 Cup finely chopped raw walnuts (optional)
1 Cup Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles, or Boca Crumbles

In a large skillet, add onions, carrots, garlic, salt and oil.
Cook on medium/low  heat until things soften up, maybe 5-10 minutes.
To the skillet, add can of Manwich sauce, stir and cook one minute.
Add the finely chopped raw walnuts, stir and cook one minute.
Add vegan beefy crumbles, stir and cook a couple more minutes.
Serve good and hot on some type of bun or a slice of bread.
Have flashbacks of the 1970’s.

Notes:  In place of vegan burger crumbles and nuts, you can instead  use a Cup of dry TSP (textured soy protein) or TVP (textured vegetable protein) from Bob’s Red Mill.  We like to serve these on Martin’s Potato Rolls, which are accidentally vegan.

Crispy Noodle Cake with Kale and Mushrooms

This recipe is from the April/May 2011 issue of Vegetarian Times. It says 30 minutes, but it took me a bit longer than that by the time I prepped the vegetables. This is absolutely delicious, different and a bit elegant. The addition of the nuts is mine. I do think the non-stick skillet helped with the sticky noodles. The crispy noodles will soften a little as they sit under the hot vegetables, but they’ll still be a bit chewy and will just taste even better that way!
Crispy Noodle Cake with Kale and Mushrooms

Cooked ramen or angel hair pasta can be substituted for the yakisoba noodles. I used a 5 oz. package of Ka-Me brand Japanese Curly Noodles (chuka soba) instead and thought they were perfect  (see photo at bottom).  I found these noodles at my health food store but am guessing they’re readily available in the international aisle of many large groceries.  If you want more noodles, Ka-Me also has an 8 oz. pkg. of “Chinese Plain Noodles” that fry into a lovely cake also.

Serves 4, but if it’s the main dish and you’re using less noodles like I did, I’d say it serves 2.

2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons peanut oil, divided
1 17 oz pkg. yakisoba noodles, precooked.  I used a 5 oz. bag of Ka-Me brand Japanese Curly Noodles (chuka soba) instead and really liked them.
1 large bunch kale, stems and ribs removed, coarsely chopped (4 cups) (I used about half of a bunch)
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced (1 cup) (I used celery, but here you could use other vegetables you have on hand, such as water chestnuts, etc.)
8 oz. fresh shitake mushrooms (4 cups), thinly sliced (I just used one cup of chopped white mushrooms).
2 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed and minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (essential)
¾ Cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, or Tamari
1 Tablespoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch
Optional: Salted cashews for sprinkling on top (I really like this and it adds even more protein). If you want a healthier nut, use chopped raw walnuts, or you could throw the walnuts in with the kale at last minute.

Precook your noodles.
Combine broth, soy sauce, sherry and sugar in a small bowl, and set aside.
Combine corn starch with 2 Tablespoons of water in a small dish, stir and set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat (I used a 12-inch skillet)
Arrange cooked noodles in skillet, in an even layer, pressing down firmly. If noodles are too sticky, spray your spatula with some cooking oil.
Cook about 5 minutes or until noodles are golden brown (or just golden) on the bottom.
Carefully place large plate over skillet and invert noodles onto plate.   I don’t own a large round platter, but My 10.25″ dinner plate (inverted) fit right into the bottom of the skillet, over the noodles, so I was just careful to keep my hand on the plate and not touch the pan.
Add 1 Tablespoon oil to skillet, and slide noodles from plate back into skillet, to brown second side. Cook 2nd side, pressing down with spatula a few times, and then slide noodles onto baking sheet and place baking sheet into preheated oven.

Add 1 teaspoon oil to skillet and heat over medium heat.
Add kale, and sauté 2 to 3 minutes, until just wilted. Transfer kale to plate.
Heat remaining teaspoon of oil in skillet and add carrot (or other vegetable), and cook 2 minutes.
Add mushrooms, and cook 3 minutes more.
Stir in garlic and ginger, and cook 1 minute.
Add broth, soy sauce, sherry and sugar mixture. Bring to simmer and cook 3 minutes.
Add corn starch and water slurry to skillet, stirring until thickened (takes a minute or less).
Stir in kale (and raw walnuts if using).
Remove noodles from oven and transfer to large platter.
Pour mushroom/kale mixture over noodles, keeping to the center of the noodle cake, and leaving an inch or so of bare crisp noodle edge.
Optional: Scatter salted cashews over the top.

Vegan Pot Pie

In my misspent youth, I ate my share of frozen chicken pot pies–those scalding, gluey things that one eats because of hunger for some hot comfort food.  These vegan potpies are a big step up from that.  Adapted from this recipe on VegWeb, I was surprised at how quickly this filling came together.  We enjoyed it, and it makes enough filling to freeze some for a rainy day. I used my own pate brisee pie crust, but you could also use puff pastry for the top, just check the label on the box because some are not vegan.  You can add in faux meats, such as Butler Soy Curls or Beyond Chicken for those who want it, but I would cut them into smaller pieces.  To save time, make your pie crust in the morning or the day before, or pull a prepared one from the freezer the night before.  The pate brisee can be made in 15 minutes and then popped in the freezer, in two single crusts for times like this.  If you roll one single crust out to 1/8 inch thickness, it should make enough crust to cover three individual pot pies.


Serves: about six pot pies (each single pie crust will cover 3 individual pot pies)

3 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1 large onion diced fine
1 medium carrot diced fine
2 celery stalks sliced fine the short way
A handful of white mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 russet potato, diced fine (like ¼ inch dice)
½ Cup flour
2.5 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast flakes (not brewer’s yeast)
1 cup soy creamer (such as Silk brand)
¾ cup peas
One mini can of corn (approx. 8 ounces)
1/4 cup sherry
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper or black pepper
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire Sauce
faux meat (optional)
One single pate brisee pie crust, or one 17 oz. box of vegan puff pastry (many are accidentally vegan)

Make pate brisee dough and let it rest for at least an hour (or overnight) in the fridge (or pull from freezer the night before).  Put your rolling pin(s) in the freezer.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large pot, melt vegan butter (Earth Balance).    Add onions, carrots, celery, potato and mushrooms, and cook on medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes.
Measure out flour and nutritional yeast into a cereal bowl, and add ½ cup of the vegetable stock to it and stir to make a smooth slurry.   To the pot, add the rest of the stock, vegan creamer and sherry or juice, and simmer for 10 more minutes.
To the pot, add Add parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and Worcestershire.
Add flour slurry and cook and stir for a few minutes until mixture thickens.
If adding vegan meat, do it now.    Stir in corn and peas, and gently stir.
Turn off the stove burner.

If using puff pastry, see notes at bottom.
Roll out the dough as per directions. Roll out and cut dough slightly larger than the shape of your pan(s).  For example, if  using round ramekins, cut the circles at least ½ inch larger than the top of your ramekin.  I flipped my ramekins upside down onto the rolled-out dough, and cut loosely around them with a butter knife, and then used a spatula to lift the circles.    Fill ramekins to 3/4 inch from top, or put filling in a casserole dish. (The original recipe calls for a 9×13 inch pan).   Place, fold and crimp the dough/crust edges.   Vent the crust with a decorative design or some simple slits of a knife.   PLACE CASSEROLE OR RAMEKINS ON A BAKING SHEET, AS THEY WILL DRIP.   Bake 30-35 minutes, until crust begins to get golden with some slightly-brown edges here and there.

Note: If using puff pastry, place the puff pastry on top of the filling, brush some melted butter over it, and cut a few slits to vent.  If the puff pastry is browning too fast, cover it with some foil until cooking time is done.

Vegan Shepherds Pie

This delicious Vegan Shepherds Pie is traditional comfort food.  I went to my old Joy of Cooking and it said to add the Worcestershire and also “1 cup of leftover gravy.”  I feel the gravy, while it does enhance the dish, is not critical, so no worries.  I’d say by the time you make the casserole and wash the dishes,  you’ll have at least an hour in the kitchen.  I’ve made this with Boca Crumbles, Beyond Beef Crumbles and Yves Meatless Ground, and all of them worked well.  I also make this in individual casseroles for special occasions, as shown above.


Serves: about 6

3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 Cup vegan mayonnaise  (I like Reduced Fat Vegenaise with the yellow lid)
1/3 Cup soy milk  (I like WestSoy Organic Unsweetened)
3 Tablespoons vegan cream cheese   (substitute vegan sour cream if necessary).
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter (I like the organic one)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 carrot diced fine
2 stalks celery diced fine
6 mushrooms chopped (optional)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire (I like Wizard’s brand)
2 cloves garlic pressed or chopped
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
12 oz. bag of Beyond Beef Beefy Crumble, or  Boca Meatless Ground Crumbles, or Yves Meatless Ground, etc.
Optional: 1 Cup of leftover gravy is nice to add in, but only if you have it hanging around in the fridge or freezer.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fill large pot with cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt.   Place peeled and diced potatoes into the pot of cold salt water. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain.   Place drained potatoes back in empty pot and add mayonnaise, soy milk, cream cheese and sea salt. Mash or whip until creamy and smooth. Set aside.

Heat vegan butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and add in the onion, carrot, celery, and (optional) mushrooms. Heat until softened, about 15 minutes.   Turn heat down one click.  To vegetables, add tomato paste, Worcestershire, garlic, pepper and salt.  If you have it, add the optional gravy here.   Cook at least 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.   Add in the meatless ground, and stir to mix well.   Cook three more minutes and add a bit of water or broth if the mixture looks at all dry (1/4 Cup or so, if needed).

Spray a 3-litre casserole dish with cooking oil.  Pour Boca/vegetable mixture into the casserole dish and spread mashed potatoes on top.  Spray top of potatoes with cooking oil and then dust with paprika.   Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until edges are bubbling.  Serve hot.

Perfect Vegetable Chili with Quinoa

This is a VegWeb recipe.  For anyone who isn’t familiar with VegWeb, it’s a free online resource of vegans and vegetarians who post and review recipes.   This Vegetable Chili with Quinoa also has a can of refried beans in it.  The original recipe is very good and very mild.  I had to bump up the heat a bit.  Here below is my twist on it.  You can throw in whatever you have on hand, and if you don’t have something, don’t worry about it.  This makes a ton, at least 10 servings, so you’ll be able to freeze a bunch or serve a lot of people.  I tried to cut the carrots very finely but they were still a bit too firm, so next time, I would put the carrots in a food processor, or grate them by hand.  I served it with fresh sliced avocados, fresh chopped cilantro, vegan sour cream and corn bread muffins.  It would also be good with corn chips when watching the football game  I can’t even IMAGINE the staggering amount of protein and vitamins in this!


Makes:  10-12 servings

1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 3 carrots, grated by hand or in food processor
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
2 teaspoons cumin
2 Tablespoons chili powder
3 cloves garlic, pressed, or crushed and minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (I used tomato puree this time)
1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz. can refried beans (make sure they’re vegan)
1 Cup quinoa
1 to 2 Cups vegetable broth (try one cup and then add if needed)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast (optional)
avocados (garnish)
fresh cilantro, chopped (garnish)
Tofutti Sour Cream (garnish)

Heat oil and Earth Balance in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat.
Saute onions, carrots and celery until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper and garlic, and saute until fragrant, about one minute.
Add tomatoes (or tomato puree) and cook one minute.
Stir in refried beans and stir well to fully incorporate.
Add drained and rinsed black beans.
Bring to a simmer, then stir in broth and quinoa (you may not wish to add all of the broth).
Cook over medium heat until quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes.
Season with salt, pepper, cayenne (don’t add salt until now).
If desired, add turmeric and nutritional yeast.
Serve piping hot with Tofutti Sour Cream, fresh chopped cilantro and freshly sliced avocados.  Corn bread is also good with this.  This tastes even better the next day.

Note:  This is a mild chili, so you may wish to put a bottle of hot sriracha sauce or a little can of jalapenos on the table.  p.s.  If you want a healthier corn bread,  here’s a different corn bread.

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.


Makes:   8  half-cup servings

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)

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 Tourtiere or Vegan Pork Pie

If you ever lived in Canada or New England, you might know what a tourtiere is; a traditional French-Canadian Reveillon dish (also enjoyed at New Years).  I was told of this dish by some French Canadians and once I tasted it, I was smitten.  It wasn’t so much the meat in this pie, but the marriage of a savory pie with spices I had previously only associated with sweet desserts.  One guy told me his mother would slice the potatoes very thinly, and lay them in the bottom of the pie tin, in concentric circles.  But the only tourtieres I ate in New Hampshire, had a ground filling that was whipped with the potatoes.  This is the perfect time to break out the vegan pate brisee pie crust recipe I posted under pastry.  It is so rich and delicious that almost anything would taste good in it.  The end verdict is that this tourtiere tastes almost EXACTLY like my old favorite pork pie that I made at Christmastime for about 30 years.  I don’t know that anyone would be able to tell the difference.


Yields 8 servings

A double crust of Pate Brisee, well chilled and preferably resting in fridge overnight.
2 Cups Beyond Beef  Beefy Crumble   (or Boca Crumbles )
3 medium russet potatoes (or two larger ones)
1 medium-to-large onion, diced small
8 oz. carrots, grated very fine (about 3-4 medium carrots)
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
½ teaspoon sea salt, divided in half
2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground Allspice

Put one or two rolling pins in the freezer to chill.   Set oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and immediately put washed potatoes directly onto cold oven rack, and bake potatoes for 30 minutes.  Then poke potatoes deeply twice along their sides with a fork, and then bake potatoes 30 more minutes.  Remove potatoes from oven, and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

While potatoes are baking:  Process carrots until very fine, or grate finely.    Cut onion into a small dice.  On medium heat, cook diced onion and processed carrots in 2 Tablespoons of Earth Balance vegan butter and ¼ teaspoon of the salt, until all are softened well.    Turn heat off under carrots and onions.   Stir together the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the cinnamon and allspice, and add this spice blend to the warm carrot mixture, and stir to mix well.

Slit open the potatoes and scoop out the hot potato (not the skins) into a large mixing bowl.   Add carrot/onion mixture to the potatoes, and beat all with a hand mixer until semi-smooth, about a minute.  Add vegan meat crumbles and mix lightly with mixer just until incorporated, maybe 15-30 seconds or so.

Remove pie crust halves from refrigerator.  Roll out bottom crust and lay gently into pie pan, and dock with a fork.  Trim edges just a little to even them.  Put filling into pie crust until full to the top, press gently and smooth with back of a spoon but don’t pack the filling in.    Top with second crust, trim and crimp, and score into 8 pieces, instead of poking holes (see photo below).   Cover the edges of the pie crust with a pie crust shield or tin foil, this is important!    Bake tourtiere at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, setting timer.   Reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 35-45 minutes. Check early. You should see the pie crust puff slightly and begin to turn golden at the edges, eyeball it and keep checking.   Serve hot, with a small pat of vegan butter on top of each slice, and sprinkle ever so lightly with fine sea salt.

Notes:   If you want, you can substitute 2 Cups rehydrated TSP (textured soy protein) for the vegan meat crumbles.  If you cut the potatoes open neatly the long way, you can use them for stuffed potato skins.  Try to use a lighter-colored vegan meat if possible.  Beyond Meat Beefy Crumble, for example, turns the filling quite dark, which is ok if you don’t mind the visual (it’s still delicious).


Score into 8 pieces for venting and easy serving.  I’m guessing you could freeze the whole pie at this point, before baking, as long as the crust has not previously been frozen.

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

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

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).

Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empanadas

This is a popular recipe from the Veganomicon cookbook.  I used a recycled 28 oz. tomato  can as my cutter to make perfect circles in the dough, and just crimped them with a fork.  Lest you think I did it perfectly, I rolled the dough too thick the first time.    They were still very good.  I found this youtube video of this woman deftly rolling the empanadas in five different ways, and I will try to do the 2nd technique she uses.  This filling is surprisingly delicate and delicious.  At first, I was afraid of the spice amounts, but I shut my eyes and threw them in there, and they were perfect.  I folded the coriander seeds into a sheet of parchment paper, and pounded on them with a rolling pin.  Because I don’t like struggling with sharp knives on tough squash, I devised a simple way to do the acorn squash, much in the same way that I do spaghetti squash.  Just wash it and poke four evenly-spaced holes along the indentation of one rib with a turkey truss pin, and a small hammer.  Place in a shallow glass baking pan in one inch of water.  Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minues.  Remove from oven, cut along the holes with a sharp knife to make a big slit.  Return to oven and cook another 30 minutes.  In this way, I had my squash ready for the oven in two minutes, and then I just read the Sunday paper while the squash cooked.  This dough is very easy to make and work with, but I prefer my own dough to theirs.   This makes a LOT of filling, so I froze half, for a quick dinner in future.  My first time making empanadas, and it was pretty easy.  Veganomicon suggests serving with their own Tropical Avocado Salsa Fresca, guacamole, or Sour Cilantro Cream, etc.  Lars put a bunch of stuff on his, but I liked it with just a touch of vegan sour cream, so i could really taste the filling.  Buen apetito!   p.s.  To make my empanada dough, simply use my pate brise recipe and substitute one half cup of the all-purpose flour with 1/2 cup of fine (not coarse) corn meal.  I just use a pastry cutter with this dough and don’t bother with the food processor.

Sausage and Peppers Sandwich

This is what I call “fair food,” meaning it’s something you buy at a County Fair, like cotton candy.  I don’t know about other parts of the U.S., but in the Northeast, we always looked forward to “sausage and peppers” every time went to the Fair.  I like to hollow out the buns so that there is less bread to the bite.  I used the vegan bratwurst I made recently, but any store-bought vegan sausage will do.  The trick with frying seitan sausages is to get them browned and then finish them in the pan with a Tablespoon of water and covered, to soften them up.  I just fried up one sliced green pepper and half a sliced onion, in one teaspoon of oil, in a non-stick skillet.   A crank of sea salt in the pan helps sweat everything out and give it a bit of savory.  Brush a little Vegenaise on the hollowed-out bun, and load it up.  Sprinkle Malt Vinegar generously over the sausage and peppers and onions, and it tastes delicious!

Vegan Bratwurst

This recipe is from The Blooming Platter vegan blog.  I actually made her entire meal but we weren’t crazy about the overwhelming vinegar in the sauerkraut, and I like my old recipe for braised cabbage better (so I’ll post that soon).  Also, her cabbage dish makes enough for at least 10 people, and there’s just the two of us at most suppers.  However, we really liked two elements of her festive Oktoberfest platter; the Vegan Bratwurst and the Horseradish Cream, which is killer.  If you make the entire meal, I recommend replacing most (or at least half) of the vinegar in the red apple sauerkraut with apple cider or apple juice, and I think that would render it pretty delicious.  The vegan bratwurst are so easy to make, and you can do other things while they’re steaming away.  I made them in the morning and then sliced them lengthwise and did a quick pan-fry just before serving, to give some crispness on the outside.  I put two of the brats in the freezer and will use them chopped up into my Thanksgiving cornbread stuffing in a few weeks.  All in all, this meal really reminded us of the French/German meals we had a couple of years ago, on the Route du Vin in Alsace, and again in the Black Forest; delicious with lots of contrasting flavors and textures.  And, I was thinking that this basic sausage recipe could be flavored any way you like, such as adding fennel seeds and oregano to make Italian sausages, or adding a finely minced apple to sweeten it up some.  Either way, these would be great in a hoagy bun with fried onions and peppers, or with a vegan breakfast, etc., etc.  This is a good time to remember that you can buy only the amount of spices you need for a recipe, for just pennies in the bulk section of your local health food store.
Vegan Bratwurst

Yield: 4 whole sausages or 8 halves

1/2 cup cooked white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup vegetable broth or stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons tamari sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos
1/2-1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten (available at health food stores)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (available at health food stores)
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon mace (I bought mine bulk, for a few cents)
coarse sea or kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place steamer over water in a large saucepan, cover and bring to a boil while you make the sausages, which go together very quickly. Tear off 4 sheets of foil about 6″ wide and set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the beans until no whole ones remain. I processed the beans for finer texture.  Add remaining ingredients in the order listed and mix well with a fork. Divide into four even pieces. Place one part of dough onto tinfoil and mold into a log about 5 inches long. Roll up and gently twist ends, like a piece of candy. Don’t be too concerned about the shape, as the vital wheat gluten will cause the sausages to rise as they steam, filling out any uneven areas. Place wrapped sausages in covered steamer and steam for 40 minutes, with the watering simmering. Unwrap and use immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat. These are especially tasty sliced in pieces or halved lengthwise and sauteed in olive oil over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes on each side. You may also grill them whole and then slice. They reheat better in the oven or a skillet than in the microwave.

Source: Adapted from the white bean sausage recipe in Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  This recipe was adapted by Betsy DiJulio on her blog:  The Blooming Platter.

Chickpea Cutlets

This recipe from the Veganomicon cookbook reminds me of chicken-fried steak.  These cutlets come out meaty and crusty and dripping with savory Golden Gravy.  I followed the recipe to the letter, and instead of baking them, I fried them in a minimal amount of oil in a cast-iron skillet.  They came out steak-y and had a nice crispy crust on the outside.  And the best part–no cholesterol, no guilt, no violence, no heart attack.  You can make the gravy the day before, to save time.  Some mashed potatoes really authenticate the meal.  Online, some people mentioned adding a bit of jerk seasoning to the cutlets, or cutting them into chickn nuggets and serving with a dipping sauce.  I can tell this recipe is pretty versatile, a real winner.  Just before we get to the cooking instructions, a word about gluten:

Alicia Silverstone says, “Wheat has gotten a bad rap lately because–like corn and soy–some form of wheat appears in almost every processed food, so our bodies have been bombarded and overloaded with wheat, sometimes creating a mild intolerance.  Some people have a hard time digesting just the gluten found in wheat (and barley, oats and other grains).  True gluten intolerance is a genetic disorder called celiac disease, and it’s relatively rare.  If you think your body is not digesting grains properly, you can have your doctor order a blood test that will determine if you have celiac disease.  For most people who consider themselves “allergic” to wheat, white flour is often the culprit.  Highly processed, often rancid and commonly overeaten, white wheat flour can cause problems that feel like allergies.  Cut out all flour for a while–to give your intestines a rest–eat healthy, and you may be able to tolerate whole wheat flour products after a few months.”

Here we go with the recipe:
Chickpea Cutlets from the Veganomicon cookbook

Makes:  4 cutlets
Time:  30 minutes

1 C cooked chickpeas (I used canned)
2 T olive oil
1/2 C vital wheat gluten
1/2 C plain bread crumbs (I use Ezekiel Bread and process)
1/4 C vegetable broth or water (I used Better than Bouillon, but only the vegetarian ones)
2 T Tamari sauce (fish-less soy sauce)
2 cloves garlic pressed or grated
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp dried thyme (I only had fresh)
1/2 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp dried sage  (I found rubbed sage at my local grocery)
olive oil for pan frying

In a mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas (I used a potato masher this time) together with the oil until no whole chickpeas are left.   Add remaining ingredients and knead for about 3 minutes, until strands of gluten have formed.   Preheat a large heavy-bottomed nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Meanwhile, divide cutlet dough into four equal pieces.  To form the cutlets, knead each piece in your hand for a few moments and then flatten and stretch each one into a roughly 6×4 inch rectangular cutlet.  The easiest way to do this is to first form a rectangular shape in your hands and then place the cutlets on a clean surface to flatten and stretch them.

Add a moderate thin layer of olive oil to the bottom of the pan.  Place cutlets in pan and cook on each side over medium heat for 6-7 minutes.  Add more oil if necessary (in cast iron, it’s not necessary).  They’re ready when lightly browned and slightly firm to the touch.  I just waited until a nice seared crust formed on parts of the outside, and didn’t really worry about it.

Notes:  I’ll probably add some onion powder next time, and use a food processor for the bread crumbs,  and the chickpeas, for a more uniform texture.  The recipe says you can bake these too, and that baking gives them a toothsome, chewy texture and firm bite.  Due to online reviews, I did not bake mine, but here are the directions to do so.  Maybe next time, I’ll bake one and see what happens.  Preheat oven to 375, lightly oil baking sheet.  Brush both sides of each patty with olive oil, place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Flip patties and bake another 8-10 minutes until firm and golden brown.

Trader Joe’s Mildly Spiced Vegetable Burritos

Back from a trip to NH, and weary from traveling.  So, a quick dinner was necessary for tonight.  These burritos looked a little plain, so I dressed them up with some La Victoria Enchilada Sauce (canned), and an onion.  You can find this enchilada sauce in many grocery stores.  Just put the burritos in a baking pan, sprinkle on half a chopped onion,  pour the can of enchilada sauce over all and bake uncovered for about 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  You could sprinkle on some Daiya cheese before baking,  or serve withTofutti Sour Cream, but I forgot to.  I served these with sliced avocado and some red beans and rice.  Really fast to put together, and inexpensive, and good to boot!  Plenty of protein too.  Trader Joe’s has an online list of their vegan products, but their web site does not seem to showcase hardly any of their individual items.  See photo of hot dish below.

Lentil Loaf

I have tried one of the mock meatloafs on the market, and did not care for it.   Enter Old Fashioned Lentil Loaf, a recipe on page 218 of The Vegan Table cookbook by Colleen Patrick Goudreau.  I served mine with baked stuffed potatoes, Tofurky gravy (for the potatoes) and a side vegetable.  You can find the Tamari sauce and the vegan Worcestershire sauce at most health food stores.

My tips on this dish would be to add some egg replacer, maybe enough for two eggs worth.  When this loaf first comes out of the oven, it will be a bit loose.  I used two spatulas and the first piece out of the pan fell apart some.  The next day, it held together very well though, and tasted even better.  I did not find it necessary to add any extra water to the lentils, but I did keep them covered.  The flavor on this lentil loaf was delicious.  My husband is scared of beans and legumes, so he felt the flavor was perfect but that the texture was too beany, ha ha.  We had it the next night, and he cleaned his plate, though.  Next time, I would not let the lentils cool completely before combining with the rest of the ingredients, because it was hard to stir once the lentils got completely cool.  I packed half of the loaf mixture into the pan, and then sliced fresh mushrooms and pressed them into the loaf, and then packed the rest of the loaf on top of that.  I also sliced some green olives and pressed those into the top of the loaf, before pouring on the rest of the ketchup.  I added the minimum amounts of Tamari and Worcestershire, but it could take the maximum amounts called for because the vegan products are much smoother than the ones with fish in them.  This is not only delicious but super healthy.  As I said, the next day it held together very well, and I was able to put a couple of perfect slices in the oven to heat.  And, you could slice this for meatloaf sandwiches.  This makes a lot so I did put some in the freezer and we’ll see how it thaws; will comment on that at some future date.

Tomato Sauce

This tomato sauce is all over the internet.  It’s adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.  I first made this in February, and what it taught me is that it’s super easy to make a really nice sauce without buying inferior-tasting bottled stuff that has additives. You can dress this any way you like, but it’s great as it is.

I use organic tomatoes (you can find them in most regular grocery stores now).  Quite a few bloggers have raved over this recipe, so I emailed it to my amazing friend Laurel on Kauai, and she replied that it was fantastic.  Enough of a recommendation for me!  So, with a 28 oz. can of tomatoes, one onion, and some pasta, you can make a lovely lunch or supper.  I served this to our friends Jim and Jan, and Jan commented that the tomato sauce tasted so fresh.  That’s what it tastes like, in a nutshell; it doesn’t taste like it comes from a can, and it’s got the subtle, delicate umami of the unmasked tomatoes.  The simplest version of the original recipe that I could find is here on epicurious.  All I did was switch out the butter for Earth Balance, and it still did have that buttery taste.  I reduced the fat in half as i just couldn’t see five whopping Tablespoons of butter in only one can of tomatoes.  Also, I have a problem with throwing away an onion, just couldn’t do it.  In fact throwing away an onion seems to be slightly bizarre behavior, and possibly a mortal sin.  So, I diced the onion and kept every bit of it in the sauce.  And yes, it is delicious, and simple, and quick to make.  I like to add some Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs into the pot with the sauce, for some extra protein.  Afterthought;  OK, OK, I guess for picky little ones, you could just cut the onion in half and then remove it at the end, as the original recipe calls for, but don’t tell me about it.
Vegan Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions 

Serves:  4 as a main course, at least.

-28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano tomatoes are suggested but I don’t worry about this as long as they’re organic)
-2 tablespoons Earth Balance
-1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved (I chop mine fine)
-Salt to taste

Put tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan (it fit well in a 3-quart) over medium heat.
Bring sauce to simmer, then lower heat to low, to keep the sauce at a slow simmer for about 30 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes.
Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.
Remove from heat, add salt to taste and keep warm while you prepare your pasta.

Serve with pasta of your choice, with or without grated vegan parmesan cheese to pass, but, it’s better plain.  For pasta, I like penne, or vermicelli, or capellini. 

I’ve also made this with crushed tomatoes (which saved the crushing of the tomatoes in the pot), and another time with a can of tomato puree, because it was all I had.  Both of these also worked well, despite having slightly less texture.   Note:  The leftovers are great for meatball subs!

Pesto Sauce

My good friend Jan told me she plants her basil seeds at the end of June, so that the basil is ready for harvest when the tomatoes are ripe.  If you have a little patch of soil, you’d be amazed at how easy basil is to grow.  You simply scratch the seeds into the soil, and voila, come August and September, you’ll have an embarrassment of basil.  I first tried pesto only six years ago, at a little Italian place in South Kensington called Dino’s.  The food was okay at Dino’s but the pesto was a revelation to me.  So when I came home from Europe, I decided to try making pesto, did some reading and came up with a basic recipe.  It was so good that I have never bought pesto in a jar.  Now that I’m vegan, I wondered how my pesto would be this summer without the parmigiano.  I’m relieved to say, it’s wonderful!  The toasted pine nuts already have a cheesy taste to them, and then adding a bit of nutritional yeast did the trick.   Nowadays, there are lots of pesto recipes that skip the blanching.  I do it because it sets the color and because, when you’re picking basil from the garden, there will be a few tiny bugs or caterpillars in it.  One last note is that I see online recommendations to add a bit of parsley in with the basil leaves, because supposedly the chlorophyll in the parsley helps the basil from turning black.  I just haven’t found this to be a problem since I blanch the leaves, but hey, a little parsley never hurt anyone.  I made a bit too much pasta here, so your finished dish might be a bit more green in color than this, hopefully.  Either way, it’s all good.
Vegan Pesto Sauce

1/2 C pine nuts toasted
1/4 C Nutritional Yeast (not brewers yeast)
2-3 C packed fresh basil leaves
¼ t salt
2 garlic cloves
2 T olive oil,  plus 1T olive oil

-Toast pine nuts under broiler, and set aside to cool
– Fill a metal sauce pan half full with water and set on medium heat
-Pick basil leaves (cut about 5 branches from the mother plant)
-Sort through basil leaves, discarding any that don’t look good
(use as many small leaves as you can)
-Enjoy the spicy cinnamon scent of fresh basil as you pluck the leaves
– Fill a small mixing bowl half full with ice water
-When water is simmering, blanch basil leaves for about 10 seconds
-Use a spider ladle or slotted spoon to lift leaves,
and scrape leaves into ice water

-Into food processor, add toasted nuts and salt and crushed garlic.
-Process about a minute.
-Gently squeeze basil leaves to remove most of water (not all).
-Add squeezed basil leaves to garlic/nut mixture, process another minute.
-Add 2 T of the olive oil and continue processing until smooth, another 2 min.
-Scrape pesto into a cereal bowl.
-Stir the nutritional yeast into the bowl, adding the last 1T of olive oil now.
-Mix well.

It’s fine to let this chill for a couple of hours or until next day, or divide and/or freeze now.

If serving now:
Boil pasta and drain, reserving a ladle or two of the hot pasta water.
Add a ladle of hot pasta water to the pesto and stir well to blend.
Gently toss hot pesto with hot pasta until well mixed.

NOTE: You can substitute raw walnuts in equal measure for the pine nuts.

Pesto keeps, its surface covered with plastic wrap, chilled, for a few days. 

Serves:  Makes two one-third-cup measures of pesto, enough for four big plates of pesto pasta, or more smaller side dishes.  Since I’m usually cooking for two, I freeze half of the pesto for a winter’s day.  I like to use fine spaghetti, vermicelli or capellini, or even angel hair.

Macaroni and Cheese

For some, a good vegan mac and cheese is like the Holy Grail.  Maybe it’s because cheese is the hardest thing for many people to give up.  Not surprising, since cheese has opiates in it that are designed to bring the baby calf back to the mama cow.  Yes, the milk in cheese is for baby cows, not humans.  Nowadays, some recovering opiate addicts are even advised not to eat cheese and other dairy.  When VegNews magazine claimed they had the best mac ‘n’ cheese on the planet, I cut out the recipe.  However, i also had a  recipe from the little cookbook Skinny Bitch in The Kitch, called “Macaroni and Four Cheeses.”  So, I wavered between the two recipes, wondering which one to try.  The recommendation on the Skinny B. recipe was very strong, but I won’t quote it here.  And looking at the ingredients, I could tell it was kind of a brilliant recipe, because they use frozen butternut squash puree to help give that neon orange glow we all used to know and love (admit it).  Now, i don’t have four different vegan cheeses in my cupboard, and this recipe made way too much, so I made just a few minor changes, and DANG it’s good.  And the best part is that it was even better the next day!  I think we’ve all reheated the gloppy, congealed mess that is leftover Macaroni and Cheese.  Looking at it is a metaphor for what it does to your arteries, not to mention all the animals that suffer horribly so we can have a bit of gunk. If you haven’t read the best seller Skinny Bitch, then you need to, because  IT  WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!  Don’t let the title put you off, it’s deceptive.  This is actually a deep and serious book cloaked in a somewhat-offensive kitschy title.  There’s also a male version of this powerful little book.  I halved the recipe (but not the topping) and changed some other amounts too.


Serves 6-8 (depending upon if you’re serving women and girls, or men and boys)

1 T fine sea salt, plus 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 pound whole wheat or brown rice elbow macaroni
1 10 oz. pkg. organic frozen butternut squash puree, such as Cascadian Farms
1 C soy or rice milk  (I use the 8 oz. boxes for cooking)
3 oz. Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds (approx. 3/4 Cup)
2 oz. (about 1/4 C) vegan cream cheese
3/4 tsp powdered mustard
1/16th tsp cayenne powder

1/4 C whole wheat bread crumbs  (equal to one slice Ezekiel bread)
2 Tbsp vegan parmesan cheese, such as Go Veggie brand (optional)  (could substitute Nutritional Yeast here)
1 Tbsp oil, such as safflower or canola

Pulse and grind 2 slices of healthy bread to fine crumbs.    Preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease or spray a casserole dish (1.5 to 2 qt. size).    Add 1 T salt to a pot of water and cook pasta according to directions,  drain and set aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan, over medium heat, combine frozen squash puree and milk, stirring until squash is defrosted.    Bring squash and milk mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally.    Remove squash mixture from heat, whisk in vegan cheeses, spices and the remaining 1/2 tsp salt, until smooth.

Return drained pasta to its pot,  and stir cheese sauce into macaroni.    Transfer macaroni/cheese mixture into buttered casserole dish.    In a cereal bowl, combine bread crumbs, parmesan and 1 Tbsp oil.    Sprinkle bread crumb topping over top of macaroni and cheese.    Place casserole dish on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.    Then broil for 2-3 minutes until top is nicely browned.  Don’t walk away here, don’t burn it.

Eat and have flashbacks from your childhood, only better.  I like to chop up some garden tomatoes and sprinkle them with a teensy bit of fine sea salt.  Top with hot mac and cheese.  The next day, you can reheat the casserole dish in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes.


Sometimes you just need to throw a simple dish on the table.  Or feed some kids or grand kids or something.  I got this recipe off which is an AMAZING resource of recipes and feedback.  It’s a very mild-flavored recipe, and so it would be great for kids and picky eaters.  You should definitely dress it up with chopped garden tomatoes, salsa from a jar, Tofutti sour cream, etc.  I show it here with a big slice of avocado, chopped heirloom tomato, shredded lettuce and Daiya cheese.  If you’ve never worked with TSP before, it’s just Textured Soy Protein, and it’s kind of magical.  I like the one from Bob’s Red Mill because it’s organic and made from non-GMO soybeans.  TSP comes dehydrated and then you re-hydrate it with your recipe’s liquids and spices and it soaks them up like a sponge.  TSP comes in different textures.  The TSP from Bob’s Red Mill ends up looking like ground beef, although paler in color (like ground turkey). And once you add your taco seasoning or Manwich or whatever, it tastes like your old favorites.  You keep a bag of this in your fridge and the possibilities are endless.  Lars likes this taco mix on a plate of nachos too.  1/4 Cup of TSP has only 1.5 grams of fat, zero cholesterol, 3 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein, damn!

Easy Vegan Tacos

1 C dried TSP, such as Bob’s Red Mill Organic Textured Soy Protein
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 t cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne
¼ tsp sea salt, or to taste
2 teaspoonsTamari sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 medium onion chopped
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons vegetable or coconut oil

Measure chili powder, cumin and cayenne into one small dish to have at the ready.
Chop onion.
Set small saucepan to boil with one cup of water.
In skillet, sauté chopped onion and salt in oil over medium heat, about 3-5 minutes.
Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about one minute more.

Add dried TSP to the one cup of boiling water.
Quickly add spices and soy sauce to TSP mixture and stir until water and spices are absorbed.
Add TSP mixture to the onions in the skillet and stir.
Makes enough filling for about ten taco shells.
Add chopped garden tomatoes, vegan cheeze, lettuce, salsa, avocado, Tofutti sour cream and whatever else you like.  Ole!

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!

Vegan Stroganoff

I veganized a quick-and-easy beef stroganoff recipe my Mom gave me about 25 years ago.  I think she may have cut it out from the newspaper back then.  The old recipe called for ground cow, condensed cream of mushroom soup, and canned mushrooms.  My how we have grown.
Vegan Stroganoff

Serves about 6

1 Cup cashew cream  (see note at bottom)
1 Cup chopped seitan (optional)
two 8 oz. pkgs. fresh white mushrooms
1 Tablespoon oil or vegan butter, such as Earth Balance
2 onions, chopped to a medium dice
2 garlic cloves, crushed, minced
1/2 Cup  to  3/4 Cup white wine
2 Tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce, such as The Wizard’s brand
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 C vegan sour cream, such as Tofutti Non-Hydrogenated
1 T fresh parsley, minced

4 oz. noodles (for two people)
1 Tablespoon vegan butter such as Earth Balance
1 teaspoon black poppy seeds

Rinse and slice mushrooms.
In large fry pan, heat oil or vegan butter, saute onions on medium for a few minutes.
Throw sliced mushrooms in with onions and saute another couple of minutes.
Add garlic, cashew cream, ketchup, vegan Worcestershire, salt, and pepper.
Let simmer (but stir often) while you prepare the noodles.
Heat the 1 Tablespoon butter and then add poppy seeds.
Once noodles are cooked, toss with poppy-seed butter.
Back to the stroganoff;
Simmer a few minutes until it thickens a bit, then add wine.
If using, add seitan.
Simmer a few more minutes.
When you are ready to serve, add in the vegan sour cream and stir to blend.
Simmer one more minute.
Place noodles on individual plates, top with ladles of stroganoff and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Notes:  To make cashew cream, soak 1 Cup raw cashews in water overnight.  Drain and rinse cashews (discard the soaking water).  Put cashews in blender with enough fresh water to cover by 1 inch at most.  Blend until super-smooth.  If you have a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix or BlendTec, you don’t have to soak the cashews, but I do to make it very creamy.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is a classic dish named for um . . . , ok we won’t go there.  Anyhoo, it’s so good with ripe garden tomatoes and a grind of sea salt on top.  A great thing to make when there’s not a lot in the pantry.  If you want to make it for less than four people, simply cut down on the capellini or vermicelli, as I do.  I prefer something thinner than spaghetti.  Also, any leftover cooked greens can be thrown in here too, but they’re not necessary.  Green olives can be substituted in a pinch, no sweat.


Serves 4 to 6

1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
2 ounces or more Kalamata black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped capers
2 large well-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 pound spaghetti  (or vermicelli or capellini)  (less if only for two people)
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:  place the olive oil in a frying pan and add the minced garlic.  When garlic is golden (don’t burn it), add olives, capers and tomatoes.  Stir well and heat through for about 6 minutes.

Cook the pasta al dente and drain it.  Put pasta in bowl and add half the sauce.  Toss well.  Add remaining sauce and sprinkle on the parsley with some salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot.