STRAWBERRY CHIA JAM

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

STRAWBERRY CHIA JAM

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

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

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

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

Three Bean Salad

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

THREE BEAN SALAD

Makes about 8 to 10 servings?

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

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

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

Vegan Pots de Creme

img_3215     This recipe for Vegan Pots de Crème is excellent the way it is, but there are some simple variations you could do (see below).   This is really easy, delicious, and elegant enough for a dinner party or New Years, or Valentines Day.  I topped mine with easy, homemade coconut whipped cream, but So Delicious also makes non-dairy whipped cream in a tub.

VEGAN POTS DE CREME

Makes about 6 generous servings

INGREDIENTS
3/4 Cup full-fat coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 oz. Mori-Nu Silken Firm tofu, drained  (organic if it’s available)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Cup vegan chocolate chips  (dark or semi-sweet)
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
In a small saucepan on medium-low heat, heat the coconut milk until very hot, but do not simmer or boil.  In a blender, put silken tofu, sugar, salt and chocolate chips.  Measure out only 3/4 Cup of the hot coconut milk, add it to the blender along with the vanilla extract, and blend until smooth and silky.  Spoon the mousse into small ramekins, espresso cups, demitasse cups, etc.  It’s rich, so keep the servings small.  Chill in fridge for at least 4 hours, but you can make this a couple of days ahead even.  Serve chilled or, I like it halfway to room temperature.  When ready to serve, top with vegan whipped cream, such as coconut whipped cream, So Delicious, etc.  See other variations below.

EASY VARIATIONS
For Black Forest flavor, make with dark chocolate chips, and top with a few pie-filling cherries and a dollop of whipped cream.  For Mocha flavor, make with vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips and add a couple teaspoons of espresso powder or instant coffee to the saucepan of hot coconut milk.  Or before serving, drizzle on some vegan caramel sauce.  You could layer the bottom of the ramekin with a few caramelized banana slices, or go for an almond-joy flavor with sweetened coconut and toasted almonds, etc., etc.
IMG_2875  I prefer the organic if I can find it.

Easy Cold Brew Coffee in A Mason Jar

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

EASY COLD BREW COFFEE IN A MASON JAR

Makes about a quart

INGREDIENTS
3/4 Cup freshly-ground coffee beans
water

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

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

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

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

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Spices

img_3146     This Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Spices is perfect for Fall, and good enough for Thanksgiving too.  I love it.  Sauté shallots and a little garlic in olive oil and white wine, add an apple and a bit of real maple syrup for sweetness.  Warming spices and coconut milk round it out.  Dress it up any which way, with homemade croutons, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried apple slices, etc.

INGREDIENTS
2.5 to 3 lb. butternut squash  (cooked, seeded, peeled and chopped)
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter
1 Cup chopped shallots  (about 6 shallots, depending on size)
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf,  one thyme sprig
1 Cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric  (for color–you won’t taste it)
2 Tablespoons real maple syrup
4 Cups vegetable stock
1/2 Cup coconut creamer or coconut milk
one single star anise

Any toppings you desire, such as homemade croutons, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried apple bits, etc.

DIRECTIONS
In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil and butter and then add shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaf and thyme.  Cook until shallots are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine, cinnamon, nutmeg and turmeric, and cook 3-5 minutes more.  Add squash, chopped apple, maple syrup, vegetable stock, coconut milk, and the single anise star.  Cook on low simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf, thyme and star anise.  Let soup cool.

Puree soup in blender.  Re-heat and serve with any toppings you desire.

Notes:  I like Better Than Bouillon “No Chicken” base for this soup, but any vegetable stock will do.  Substitute onion for the shallots if necessary.   An easy way to cook the squash is to poke some slits down one side with a sharp knife, and then place it in a baking dish with about an inch of water.  Place in cold oven, set oven to 375 and bake for 90 minutes to 2 hours.  I add the anise star later in the cooking process so it doesn’t overpower the other flavors, but instead gives a delicate hint.

Vegan Haupia Cake

img_3068     I adapated this Vegan Haupia Cake from a recipe by Roy Yamaguchi, a famous chef from Hawaii.  Haupia (pronounced HOW-pee-ya) is something we would enjoy at luaus on Kauai, back in the day.  It’s traditionally a cool and refreshing coconut pudding, often cut into squares.  Here it’s a softer pudding that’s been infused into a sponge cake.  It’s a bit richer than the original this way, but so ono (delicious).  We’ve eliminated the animal cruelty and the cholesterol, but added a sprinkling of toasted coconut.  You could use a vegan white or yellow cake, but the original recipe uses a sponge cake, which provides great texture.   Here is the vegan sponge cake recipe I use.  I make both layers and leave one in the freezer for future use.

VEGAN HAUPIA CAKE

Makes one 9-inch cake

INGREDIENTS
a single 9-inch layer of vegan sponge cake, frozen and set to partially thaw
4 Cups unsweetened full-fat coconut milk  (two 15 oz. cans is fine)
1.5 Cups water, divided
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2.5 teaspoons coconut extract
2 Tablespoons shredded sweetened coconut, for topping

INSTRUCTIONS
Remove the single layer of cake from the freezer to let it thaw by half.  You will slice it into two layers, and it’s easier to slice if it’s about half frozen at that time.  In a small dry skillet, stir and toast the shredded sweetened coconut over medium heat–do not walk away, it only takes a couple of minutes.

To prepare the haupia, place the coconut milk, 1 Cup of the water and the sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a low boil, stirring a bit.  In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and the remaining 1/2 Cup water together to make a smooth slurry.  Add the slurry to the coconut mixture, and stir until the mixture returns to a low boil and thickens.  Remove from heat, let cool 5 minutes, and then stir in coconut extract.

Cut a thin slice off the top of the cake layer to level it flat.  Slice the cake in half horizontally to make two somewhat-even layers.  Place the bottom layer in a cake pan.  Pour the haupia over the bottom layer to a thickness of about 1/2 inch (this will save some for the top).  Place the top half of the cake layer over the haupia-soaked bottom layer, very gently pressing down.  Pour more of the haupia over the top of the cake, using a spatula or the back of a spoon to gently spread it evenly.  Refrigerate the cake for 3 to 4 hours to set the haupia.  When ready to serve, garnish with the toasted shredded coconut.
img_3064  Bottom layer back in the cake pan and soaking in haupia.

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.

TOMATO TART WITH ALMOND FETA AND CARAMELIZED ONIONS

Makes 6 to 8 slices

INGREDIENTS
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)

DIRECTIONS
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 KEY LIME PIE

IMG_2951     There are quite a few vegan key lime pie recipes out there, but none were ever quite perfect for me.  The no-bake ones tasted of cornstarch, or I couldn’t get the vegan pudding packets required, etc.  So after a couple of tries, here’s one that’s really delicious, with easy-to-get ingredients.  It’s got that balance of sweet-to-pucker, it’s easy, and it’s pretty.  As with many cream pies, you make it the day before, so it’s perfect for a dinner party

VEGAN KEY LIME PIE

Makes one pie, approx. 8-10 slices

INGREDIENTS
3 medium-size regular limes, organic  (enough to yield 1/2 Cup fresh lime juice)
8 oz. vegan cream cheese  (I used Trader Joe’s)
12 oz. box Mori-Nu Silken Tofu, Extra-Firm, pressed
1 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons zest from the limes, plus more for grating on top
2 drops green food coloring (optional)
9-inch vegan graham cracker pie crust  (Keebler has one that’s accidentally vegan)
vegan whipped topping, such as coconut whipped cream, or So Delicious Coco Whip

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Zest the limes and reserve 1/3 of the zest for garnish on top of the pie.  Juice two of the limes and see if it comes to 1/2 Cup of lime juice.  If not, juice the third lime.  In a food processor, mix cream cheese, tofu, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, lime juice and 2 teaspoons of the lime zest.  Mix well, add green food coloring and mix again.  Pour into crust, place on baking sheet and bake 35 minutes.  It might jiggle just a bit when you take it out of the oven–that’s okay.  Let cool on rack.  Refrigerate overnight.  Grate or sprinkle fresh lime zest over the pie, and serve with vegan whipped cream.  When you cut it, rinse or wipe your knife between slices.  It cuts even better after two days in the fridge.

Notes:  Depending on the depth of your crust, there might be about 1/3 Cup extra filling, that you can cook alongside the pie in a ramekin (for a pudding snack) if desired.  If you don’t have a food processor, a hand mixer would probably do just fine.  The color of the pie will deepen a bit upon cooking.  Do not add extra vanilla, because it will muddy the green color.  Bottled lime juice does not taste as good as fresh–I tried it.  Mori-Nu silken tofu in the box is what is called aseptic packaging, see photo below.
IMG_2875  Silken tofu in an aseptic box.

Easy Blueberry Sauce

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

EASY BLUEBERRY SAUCE

Makes about one pint

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

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

Notes:  If you let the raw blended mixture sit around without cooking it, it could clump, maybe from the pectin.  If that happens, you can re-blend or use a potato masher.
IMG_2943

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.

VEGAN CARAMELIZED CARROT RISOTTO

Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS
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

DIRECTIONS
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.

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.

CHANA MASALA  OR  CHOLE MASALA

Makes about six servings

INGREDIENTS
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)

DIRECTIONS
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 Raspberry Oat Shortbread

IMG_2593     This Vegan Raspberry Oat Shortbread is buttery, with a light crunch from the oats and almonds, and sweetness from the raspberry jam.  This is more of a delicate shortbread–amazing with tea, or any time.  Other raspberry bars on this site include Ottolenghi Raspberry Oat Bars (thicker and nuttier with a touch of caramel), and plain Raspberry Oat Bars (more of a rustic crumble bar).  Yes, it would seem I have a thing for raspberry bars. . .

VEGAN RASPBERRY OAT SHORTBREAD

Makes:  16 squares

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon cold vegan butter (Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
3/4 Cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 Cup slivered almonds
1/4 Cup raspberry jam  (I like Dickinson’s Red Raspberry)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/16th teaspoon almond extract

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter an 8-inch baking pan and put it in the fridge.  Mix the jam with the vanilla and almond extracts, stirring until it’s a somewhat smooth consistency, and then leave it out at room temperature.  In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt.  Then add oats and pulse a few times.  Cube the vegan butter and add it, pulsing until the mixture starts to cling together in bits.  Then add almonds and pulse just until incorporated.  The idea is NOT to grind up the almonds–you just want them in pieces throughout the dough. We also do NOT want to overwork the dough, it’s going to be a bit crumbly.

Set aside 1/2 Cup of the dough.  Press the rest GENTLY but evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spread the raspberry jam evenly over the dough, leaving at least a 1/4 inch-wide border (in other words, do not spread the jam all the way to the edges).  Sprinkle the reserved dough evenly over the jam.

Bake until the edges are starting to turn golden, about 20-23 minutes.  Within 5-10 minutes, run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen.  You can also make your cuts after about 10 minutes, cutting straight down (do not use a sawing motion).  The end of a thin flat spatula works well for this.  The shortbread will firm as it cools.  Store in fridge, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Notes:  This recipe took me three tries to get right.  I started out adding fresh raspberries but the end result was then too gooey and wet.  I pressed the dough too firmly in the pan and it was hard to cut into squares, and a bit tough.  I also found that for best results, it kind of matters in which order you process the dough ingredients.
IMG_2588  Leave the edges of the dough bare, as the jam will spread on its own.

Vegan Brandied Cherry Sauce

cherry sauce     I created this easy and delicious vegan Brandied Cherry Sauce specifically for the Daiya New York Cheezecake I was serving at a small dinner party.  This sauce can easily be made without the alcohol too.  And because we’re using frozen cherries, it can be made in any season.  Also, if you want organic–it’s possible to find frozen organic cherries, while it can be difficult to find fresh organic cherries.  This would also be good on a vegan Black Forest Cake.

BRANDIED CHERRY SAUCE

Makes enough for the top of a cheesecake or black forest cake.

INGREDIENTS
10 oz. bag frozen cherries
1/3 Cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon scant fine sea salt
2 Tablespoons Kirschwasser  (or water)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
In small saucepan, dry whisk sugar, cornstarch and sea salt.  Add Kirschwasser or water, and stir.  Add cherries and cook over medium heat, stirring often until thickened and bubbly.  Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes.  Add extracts and stir to combine.

Note:  It takes 15 or 20 minutes for this to thicken up, so I make this while I’m working near the stove, so I can stir it often.  I used Dekuyper brand Kirschwasser.  If you can find Oregon brand Dark Sweet Cherries in the 15 oz. can, they are a good substitute for frozen cherries, but remember to drain them first, and discard the can liquid.

Lemonana

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

LEMONANA

Serves:  2 to 3

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

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

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

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

IMG_2081     If you have a block of tofu and a jar of capers in the house, you’re all set for this easy, delicious vegan ricotta spread.  We recently had dinner at Charlie was a sinner. restaurant in Philadelphia and loved it.  Our favorite dish was a chargrilled Caesar salad, but we also really liked their house-made “ricotta with agave, black peppercorn and olive oil”  served with grilled bread.  The waitperson said it was made of “whipped tofu.”  My version below is adapted from Tofu Ricotta Crostini by Ayinde Howell and Zoe Eisenberg.  It’s good, easy and  versatile, and would be great for an appetizer.  Alongside a salad, it would also be good for lunch or dinner.  If you’re looking for other starter ideas, check out the appetizer category on this site.

TOFU RICOTTA

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
14 oz. block of firm organic tofu, drained well  (not pressed)
2 Tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon Nutritional Yeast
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, or some fancy pepper
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, pressed, or crushed and minced
1 to 2  teaspoons fresh lemon juice
baguette to grill, or crackers

DIRECTIONS
In a medium mixing bowl, break up tofu with a fork until it’s the consistency of ricotta cheese.  Scrape 3/4 of this mixture into a food processor, along with the nutritional yeast, salt and pepper.  Pulse until smooth and then scrape the processed tofu back into the crumbled tofu in the mixing bowl, add capers and stir to blend.  In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes and then sauté garlic for a minute or two, just until golden.  Add tofu mixture to pan, stir and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, add lemon juice and stir to mix.  Top with a drizzle of good olive oil, and a sprinkle of your best salt (I used homemade basil salt).

Notes:  Some changes I made were to use the entire block of tofu, and to whip part of it for the creamier consistency of the restaurant dish I had.  I also reduced the initial oil and salt and then added a little more at the end to finish.  This recipe can be flavored any which way.  You could add a teaspoon of agave syrup when processing, and then top with thin slices of grilled fig or dried date,  or candied pecans, or toasted pistachio nuts.  Or use preserved lemon when you process, for a deeper lemon flavor.   On canapés, you could top it with slices of pear, or fruit compote, with shards of coconut bacon, etc.  It could even be used to enhance avocado toast.
IMG_2048  One photo from Charlie was a sinner.

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.

VEGAN KAMA’AINA COCONUT CURRY

Serves 5-6

INGREDIENTS
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.

DIRECTIONS
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.

ZIPPYS VEGAN CHILI

INGREDIENTS
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.

DIRECTIONS
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.
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Thyme-Roasted Grapes and Cheese on Grilled Bread

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

THYME ROASTED GRAPES AND CHEESE ON GRILLED BREAD

Makes enough for 2 to 4 people, for appetizers

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

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

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

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

Anti-Aging Smoothie with Red Grapes and White Mulberries

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

ANTI-AGING SMOOTHIE WITH RED GRAPES AND WHITE MULBERRIES

Makes 1 medium smoothie or two small smoothies

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

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

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

Ensalada de Aguacate – Avocado Salad

IMG_0348    I love to order Ensalada de Aguacate (otherwise known as Avocado Salad) at Mexican restaurants.  However, I always wish they were a bit richer in flavor, and less oily.  Keeping the simple, perfect ingredients, the main thing was to create a more-complex vinaigrette.  After a few attempts, here’s my latest obsession.

ENSALADA de AGUACATE   (Avocado Salad)

Makes enough for three or four side salads.

INGREDIENTS
1 small head iceberg lettuce
2 Hass avocados, ripe but not mushy
1/4 red onion, diced
1 medium garlic clove, pressed,  or smashed and chopped finely
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon cooking sherry
1/4 teaspoon smooth stone-ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon scant fine sea salt  (if regular salt, use a bit less)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
(if tomatoes are in season and really good, they can be cut into chunks and added)

DIRECTIONS
In a medium non-metal bowl, place garlic, oil, lime juice, sherry, mustard, cumin, sugar, salt and pepper.  Whisk until well blended.  Add diced onions to this vinaigrette, stir and set aside for the sugar and salt to further dissolve while you work.  The onion will do a quick “pickle” in the vinaigrette.

Wash, dry and chop enough lettuce into shreds.  Cover and protect shredded lettuce with a dish towel and set in fridge to prevent wilting.  When ready to serve, peel, pit and do a larger dice on the avocados, and immediately add them to the vinaigrette bowl (to prevent browning).  Using a wooden spoon, gently stir and fold the avocado cubes into the dressing/onion mixture.  As you stir, the dressing will become a bit creamier from the avocado.  Place a bed of shredded lettuce onto each plate and spoon the avocado and dressing over the center of each plate.  Let each person mix their own salad using their knife and fork.

Notes:  This classic and beautiful salad is popular in many Hispanic and Latin countries.  To stretch this salad a bit, add another avocado.

 

Vegan Southern Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits

IMG_2784    These vegan Southern Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits are especially good.   If we follow a few simple guidelines, Southern biscuits are easy to make.  With the addition of mashed sweet potato whisked into the vegan buttermilk, these achieve a bit of nutrition, and a lovely golden color.  The sweet potato flavor is not pronounced, so don’t look for it.  These would make good vegan ham biscuits.  Other vegan biscuits on this site include Yogurt Biscuits, Sweet Potato Biscuits by Nava Atlas, and plain Buttermilk Biscuits.

VEGAN SOUTHERN SWEET POTATO BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

Makes about 6-12 biscuits depending on cutter size

INGREDIENTS
2 Cups self-rising flour  (I used Gold Medal)
1/4 Cup Spectrum All-Vegetable Organic Shortening
2/3 Cup cooked finely-mashed sweet potato, chilled
3/4 Cup full-fat plain soy milk  (I used WestSoy)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

BUTTER GLAZE
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread, melted
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder  (no more)

DIRECTIONS
Put rolling pin and pastry cutter in freezer.  Cut shortening into chunks and chill in  freezer.  In a mug, stir vinegar into plant milk and chill in fridge (this is your buttermilk).  Measure flour into bowl and chill in fridge.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a very small dish, stir garlic powder into melted vegan butter.

With pastry cutter, cut shortening into flour until lumps are pea sized or smaller.  Whisk mashed sweet potato into buttermilk until well blended.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour and stir with a wooden spoon just until dough comes together.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and gently fold dough over onto itself 4 or 5 times, adding more flour by the Tablespoon if the dough is sticky.  Folding the dough creates the layers.  Gently roll dough out until it’s 1/2 inch tall, no less.  Cut out biscuits close together with a biscuit cutter, using a straight up-and-down motion–do not twist cutter.  Lay each biscuit immediately upon the baking sheet.  Brush all biscuits with the melted butter.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown (not brown).  Remove from oven and immediately brush biscuits with butter again.

Notes:  If freezing biscuits, freeze the cut-out biscuits unbaked.  Then bake from frozen as normal.  If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, you can use an empty 15-oz. can.  If you don’t want to use parchment paper, make sure to use a greased shiny silver baking sheet, because dark baking sheets can over-brown the biscuit bottoms.   Here’s a good  video.

Jamaican Rice and Peas in A Rice Cooker

IMG_2742    In the Turks & Caicos last winter, we drove to a resort at the end of a long, unpaved, chalky road.  When we arrived, there were no other customers and no restaurant menu like we had seen online.  We were seated in an empty outdoor bar, and we asked them to bring us something vegan.  There was one local guy cooking in the kitchen and he was really just cooking a simple meal for the staff of Belongers, but we were welcome to have some.  The revelation of that meal was the Rice and Peas.  Wanting to try it in the rice cooker, I watched several youtube videos, and it turned out well.  In Jamaica, Pigeon Peas are called Gungo peas (pronounced goongo), but you can find them in the Latin section of many grocery stores, and it will say Gandules Verdes on the label (see below).  Pigeon Peas contain high levels of protein, and the important amino acids.  There’s much debate between countries and cooks as to whether one should use long-grain or medium-grain, or Jasmine rice.  One lady on youtube even uses parboiled rice, and some cooks use the entire can of beans, liquid and all (a practice I’ve adopted).  Some use creamed coconut and some use coconut milk.  Some mix in a bit of chopped Scotch Bonnet pepper, and some simply lay the uncut fiery pepper on top of the rice while it’s cooking, and many don’t use any spicy peppers at all.  The main elements are here below.  Peas also often refers to kidney beans, so if you cannot find the pigeon peas, you could substitute them, but I do love the flavor of the Gungo peas.  Please read the full recipe, including the notes at the bottom, before you begin.  When I say “cups” in the recipe, I’m referring to the measuring cup that came with your rice cooker (see notes).  Once you make this, you’ll see how easy it is.    p.s. See my little Thyme patch below, and think about planting some, as it’s a perennial in many climates.

JAMAICAN RICE AND PEAS IN A RICE COOKER

Serves about 6

INGREDIENTS
2 rice-cooker measuring cups of medium-grain white rice, or Jasmine rice, rinsed of starch  (I’ve also used un-rinsed white Jasmine rice)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 scallions/green onions, sliced using the white and pale-green parts only
1 can pigeon peas, drained, but save the can liquid
3 sprigs fresh thyme  (strip leaves and discard stems)
15 oz. can lite coconut milk
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Sticks

DIRECTIONS
Add rice to rice cooker.  Heat olive oil in small skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and let it sizzle for a minute or two, taking care it doesn’t burn.  Add scallions, pigeon peas and thyme leaves, and sauté stirring for another 2 or 3 minutes.

To the rice in the cooker, add bean liquid, and enough lite coconut milk to bring your contents up to the appropriate mark on the rice cooker.  For example, I used 2 rice-cooker measuring cups of rice and added just enough liquid to bring the contents up to the #2 on the inside mark of the rice pot under the White Rice/Mixed Rice column (see photo)Now add skillet contents, salt, pepper and vegan butter, and stir contents.  Set rice cooker on the White Rice or Mixed Rice setting.  You may have a “Mixed Rice” option and that may be what you want (not sure, as every rice cooker is different).  In my old Zojirushi, I do use the Mixed Rice fill level mark.  When the rice is done cooking, open lid briefly just to stir contents with a rice paddle, and then close lid again.

Notes:  I’ve also used long-grain organic brown rice.  Every rice cooker comes with its own measuring cup, and they often do not equal a standard 8 oz. Cup measure.  For example, the cup in my 15-year-old Zojirushi NS-ZAC10 holds less than 8 ounces–it holds 3/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons of water, or only 14 Tablespoons of water (a standard Cup is 16 Tablespoons), and this is measuring level to the very top of the cup.  If I’m using brown rice in my old Zojirushi, even though I’m filling the liquid to the Mixed Rice level mark, I am then choosing “brown rice” on the electronic settings.  It’s important to add the skillet contents after adding your liquids, because the skillet contents will displace a lot of the liquid, and enough liquid is needed to properly cook rice, especially if you are using brown rice.
IMG_2727  I really like the flavor of these Goya pigeon peas.
IMG_2735   2 “cups” dry rice and enough liquid to reach “2” on the inside of the rice cooker pot, of my Zojirushi NS-ZAC10.  Note the “Mixed Rice” option under the white-rice heading.
IMG_2745  Fuzzy Logic.
IMG_2737  Here’s part of my thyme patch, peeking out from under Fall leaves and mums.  It often comes in handy, even late in the year here in Maryland.

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.

VEGAN DAL MAKHANI

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

INGREDIENTS
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

DIRECTIONS
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.
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Vegan Honeydew Matcha Bubble Tea

IMG_2593     This vegan Honeydew Matcha Bubble Tea or Boba is delicious, and much healthier than anything you can buy in a mall, where they generally use fruit powders and sugar syrup.  Matcha green tea is an acquired taste for some, so if you’re not sure about it, omit it from the recipe, and then just add a pinch or two to your own individual drink.

Makes approximately 2.5 Cups,  or 2 to 3 servings

VEGAN HONEYDEW MATCHA BUBBLE TEA

INGREDIENTS
2 Cups raw honeydew melon chunks (bite-size pieces)
3/4 Cup black tapioca pearls  (boba)
1 Cup almond milk
1/2 Cup So Delicious Creamer
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
2 teaspoons light agave syrup  (not dark)

for Simple Syrup to store tapioca pearls in:
1/2 Cup water
1/2 Cup sugar

DIRECTIONS
For the Simple Syrup:  In smallest saucepan, bring the 1/2 Cup water just to a boil.  Add the sugar and stir to dissolve any visible sugar.  Reduce heat to a simmer and let simmer a few minutes (less than 5 minutes).  Turn off heat and set aside.

In a large pot, bring 8 Cups of water to boil.  Stir the water and slowly swirl in the tapioca pearls and stir gently to keep pearls from sinking to bottom of pot.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 15 more minutes.  Rinse a pearl under cool water and chew to test for softness.  In a colander, drain and rinse pearls under cold water.  Put pearls into a glass jar.  Pour the Simple Syrup over the pearls and let cool uncovered and unrefrigerated.

In a blender, puree Matcha, almond milk, creamer, melon and agave syrup, making sure to put the matcha into the blender first, so it doesn’t poof powder all over the top of the blender.  If you do not have a blender, use a food processor to puree the melon and then mix it with everything else.  Chill in refrigerator.  When ready to serve, add 2 Tablespoons cooked tapioca pearls (drained of syrup) to each glass, and top with honeydew milk tea.  A straw is nice.  I like paper straws so I serve with a long, skinny ice-tea spoon to scoop up those chewy, chewy pearls.  In Mandarin, this perfect, toothsome chewiness is called QQ.

Notes:  The tapioca pearls can tend to harden a bit in the refrigerator.  To soften, drain the pearls, cover them with water and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, testing after one minute.   You can stretch the batch of tea a bit by adding an extra 1/2 Cup of vegan creamer.  You can freeze any leftover melon chunks for future use, if you want.  For inspiration, I visited Kitchen Simplicity.  To make it cruelty-free, I specify almond milk and agave syrup.  Upon reading the ingredients of several large boba chains, I noticed they use non-dairy creamer as a base in their bubble teas, so I have done the same.  Never heating the matcha helps minimize its natural bitterness.  I found the boba (tapioca pearls) at an oriental grocery in Salisbury, MD, but there are good sources online, and boba pearls come in various colors.

Nutrition values for the entire batch, not including boba:  Calories 328.  Fat 3.  Saturated fat 0.  Trans fat 0.  Cholesterol 0.  Sodium 214.  Potassium 150.  Carbs 64.  Fiber 2.  Sugars 59.  Protein 3.  Vitamin A 14.  Vitamin C 106.  Calcium 4.  Iron 6.  Nutrition values for 2 Tablespoons of boba:  Calories 41.  Fat 0.  Cholesterol 0.  Sodium 23.  Potassium 3.  Carbs 10.
IMG_2584IMG_2582
IMG_2587  I was able to find this locally.

Cinnamon Stick Beets or Quick Pickled Beets

IMG_2556      These Quick Pickled Beets are an easy and delicious way to preserve fresh beets for weeks in the fridge.  They bring a rare and beautiful color to salads, but my favorite way to eat them is in hummus wraps with pan-toasted almonds.  Many recipes for pickled beets call for cloves, but I found that flavor too medicinal.  After making these three times, I settled on a three-inch stick of cinnamon in each jar, for a complex hint of spice that tempers the earthiness of the beets.   For other preserving recipes, check out the Pickles category.

CINNAMON STICK BEETS  or  QUICK PICKLED BEETS

Makes about 3 pints.

INGREDIENTS
6 fresh beets of medium, uniform size  (better for slicing and fitting into jars)
1 Cup white vinegar
2 Cups water
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt  (not kosher salt)
small cinnamon sticks  (one 3-inch stick per jar)
whole peppercorns      (about 8 per jar)  (totally optional)
brown mustard seeds  (a pinch per jar)  (totally optional)

DIRECTIONS
Do not preheat oven.  Trim greens off beets, leaving about one inch of stems.  Wash beets very well, and wrap in tin foil.  Place foil packet in a pan and place in cold oven.  Set oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 90 minutes.  Let beets cool a bit, and then peel, and slice however you like.  Consider thick batons, or circular slices or half circles.  If you want to make a stacked salad, whole circles are best.

In a small stock pot, heat vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a simmer, and stir to dissolve any visible salt or sugar.  Remove pot from heat and let liquid brine cool a bit, maybe 10 to 15 minutes at most.  Into each clean jar place one small cinnamon stick, and, if using, any peppercorns or mustard seeds.  Pack sliced beets into each jar.  Pour brine slowly into packed jars and let cool on counter for about 30 minutes.  Store in fridge.  Use diced into salads, drained and sliced in sandwiches, etc.

Notes.  Make sure jars and everything are very clean.  I prefer plastic jar lids because they’re non-reactive to the vinegar, and I like them to be BPA-free, but any lid is fine!   I keep my beets about a month in the fridge.  A good tip is that Vegenaise lids will often fit on small-mouth canning jars.  Using medium-size beets of uniform shape will make it easier to get them into jars, and you’ll have more whole, round slices.

You can see my post Growing Beets.  Other recipes on this site that use beets include Roasted Beet Salad and Salad in A Jar.
IMG_2487  Scrubbed beets ready to roast.
IMG_2509   The jar on the right is a recycled Vegenaise jar.

Cantaloupe Vanilla Smoothie

IMG_2542    This Cantaloupe Vanilla Smoothie is incredibly refreshing in the heat of summer.   Sweetened with dates, only a few ingredients but packing a wallop of nutrition, and it tastes like good vanilla ice cream.    It’s almost like magic.  Thanks to Gail, my lovely neighbor who delivered three monster cantaloupes from her garden yesterday.

CANTALOUPE VANILLA SMOOTHIE

Serves 2 to 3

INGREDIENTS
2 Cups frozen cantaloupe chunks
2 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 Cup organic soy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
Scrape seeds out of cantaloupe, and cut into chunks .  Freeze chunks on dinner plates or a cookie sheet, for several hours.  Freezing the cantaloupe chunks is important so you get individual chunks of cantaloupe, not big lumps of frozen-together cantaloupe that won’t fit into the bottom of your blender.   Soak dates in hot water for 10 minutes, then discard pits and chop dates.  Put all ingredients into blender and blend just until smooth.  Enjoy one of the most refreshing shakes ever.  This makes 2 medium smoothies or three small shakes of about 3/4 Cup each.

Notes:  You can stretch this a bit by adding another half cup of cantaloupe.  You may need to add a little more liquid to finesse the blender.  If you want it less sweet, use only one date.  If using smaller dates, adjust accordingly (the Medjool dates are big).
IMG_2534  Frozen chunks of cantaloupe on cookie sheet.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

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

MEDITERRANEAN PASTA SALAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegan Mexican Crema

IMG_2345    This quick vegan Mexican Crema takes 5 minutes to make, and it’s great on plantains and anything else that might call for crema.  You can dress it up with finely-chopped cilantro, or spices, but it’s also really good just like it is.

VEGAN MEXICAN CREMA

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup Tofutti Sour Cream  (the Non-Hydrogenated one in the dark blue container)
1/4 Cup Reduced Fat Vegenaise  (the one with the yellow cap)
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon agave syrup
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

DIRECTIONS
Put all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well mixed.

Notes:  If you don’t have a fresh lime on hand, you can use bottled lime juice,  such as  Whole Foods 365 Organic Lime,  or  Lakewood Organic Pure Lime.  If you do have a fresh lime, you can add the zest from it as well.

Strawberry Vanilla Date Shake

IMG_2227    My wonderful neighbor Gail stopped by on Memorial Day weekend with pounds and pounds of freshly-picked strawberries out of their impressive garden.  We ate some, but there were so many I decided to create a shake smoothie worthy of them.  Sweetened with dates, and enhanced with natural vanilla, it’s the bomb.

STRAWBERRY VANILLA DATE SHAKE

Servings:  2 to 4

INGREDIENTS
2 Cups frozen strawberries
4 dried dates, with pits removed   (chop each date into about 4 pieces)
1.5 Cups plant milk
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean,  or  1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Add all to blender and blend.  If your blender gets stuck, a good trick is to slide a long teaspoon down the sides of the blender container or give a quick stir to allow contents to settle once again.  Add a little more liquid if you need to.

Notes:   Using store-bought frozen strawberries is just fine.  To freeze fresh strawberries, rinse them with cold water just before you need them, and lay them on an old dish towel to dry.  Use an old towel in case they stain your towelHull the strawberries using a paring knife, and discard the green tops.  Freeze strawberries on dinner plates until they are frozen.  Then place frozen strawberries into a freezer container.  This method will prevent the strawberries from freezing together in a solid mass.  If you can, organic strawberries (whether fresh or frozen) are worth buying, because strawberries are in the Dirty Dozen (among the most pesticide-laden produce).  If you do not have a high-powered blender, you might want to soak the dates in almost-hot water for 15 minutes before pitting and blending.  Here are good tips for splitting and seeding a vanilla bean.   Make sure to look in the bulk section of your local health food store for vanilla beans, for cheaper prices.  If you really want to gild the lily, add a few Tablespoons of granola to this shake after it’s out of the blender.  This is great with almond milk too.  My favorite soy milk is WestSoy Organic Unsweetened.

Approx Nutrition info for the whole batch:  Calories 489.  Fat 7 gr.  Saturated Fat 1 gr.  Polyunsaturated Fat 4 gr.  Monounsaturated Fat 2 gr.  Trans Fat 0.  Cholesterol 0.  Sodium 45.  Potassium 1538.  Carbs 106.  Fiber 20.  Sugars 78.  Protein 16.  Vitamin A 4%.  Vitamin C 180%.  Calcium 14%.  Iron 27%.

Grilled Teriyaki Tofu Steaks

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

GRILLED TERIYAKI TOFU STEAKS

Serves:  3 to 4

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

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

Notes:  You can also marinate sliced tempeh.  I use organic Tamari sauce, but in Hawaii, Kikkoman soy sauce is the favorite, and many locals use the Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce, which is good, and my Dad is a Kikkoman man, of course.  Since the original recipe did call for “a jigger” of any of the three alcohols, I used gin this time for that juniper-berry flavor, but I think my Dad usually used sake or whiskey.  The original recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon MSG, which I eliminated.
IMG_2130

Sweet and Pungent Spinach

IMG_1447    The title of this recipe is a traditional Chinese one, in honor of the upcoming Chinese New Year on January 31, 2014.   This year, Chinese New Year officially begins on February 4, and it will be The Year of The Wooden Horse,  or The Year of The Green Horse.  As an Earth Dog, I’m predicted to have a very good year, hurrah!  This fast and delicious recipe is from a Chinese cooking class my Mom took back in the 1990’s.  I’ve reduced the oil and sugar, and added the flake salt.  See photos of the original recipe below, including the Chinese teacher’s chop (seal).

SWEET AND PUNGENT SPINACH

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
5 ounces fresh spinach  (142 grams)    (I usually double it, see notes below)
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1/4 Cup peanuts  (I like salted cocktail peanuts)
a sprinkle of fine sea salt, or any good salt

DRESSING INGREDIENTS
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

DIRECTIONS
In a large, non-stick skillet, heat oil on medium or one click below medium.  In a little bowl or cup, mix dressing ingredients.  Stir fry spinach until crisp tender but not too wilted–this happens very fast!  I turn my heat off half-way through and let the hot skillet do the rest as I stir.  Toss spinach with dressing and put into individual serving bowls.  Serve immediately with peanuts and salt.

Notes:  Because American spinach is generally very small and tender, I do not remove the spinach ribs.  The spinach cooks down a lot.   I usually double the amount of spinach for the two of us, but I keep the dressing amounts the same.  Spinach is loaded with iron, calcium, protein and Vitamin A.
IMG_1451 IMG_1452

Carrot Pear Almond Smoothie

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

CARROT PEAR ALMOND SMOOTHIE WITH A HINT OF CINNAMON

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

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

DIRECTIONS
Blend all, and enjoy!

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

Vegan Brazil Nut Pate

IMG_1411    What we have here is a really nice vegan pate.  Inspired by a very simple Brazil Nut Pate I saw in Vegan For Her, I referred to my 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking, and also my 1961 copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Cook Book.  Pates in those old tomes call for some common elements to choose from, including salt, pepper, Worcestershire, allspice or nutmeg, pistachio nuts, truffles, grated onions, parsley or chervil and lemon juice.  Also, a single type of alcohol, such as brandy, cognac, Madeira or sherry.  A bit of flour is often added, possibly for a binder.  Also, sometimes, whipping cream, which can easily be replaced by cashew cream.  And we now also have vegan substitutes for other commonly-used pate ingredients like gelatin and cream cheese.

Garnishes often include parsley and cornichons, or even stuffed olives and thinly sliced limes.  I would suggest that tiny sweet gherkins would do if cornichons are not readily available.  I added olive oil to mimic the fatty quality of outdated pates.   We like this on Ritz crackers or very thin slices of toasted garlic bread.  I know some consider Ritz a bit lowbrow, but we like the buttery, salty quality of them, and their delicate crispness.

VEGAN BRAZIL NUT PATE

Yield: 1.5 Cups?  (not sure)  This recipe will fill two 4-inch ramekins for a party though.

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup raw Brazil nuts
1/2 Cup blanched almonds
1/3 Cup pickled red onions (or regular red onions), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed and minced
juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard
2 Tablespoons vegan cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 Tablespoon organic vegan Worcestershire sauce, such as Wizard brand
2 Tablespoons Madeira wine  (or cognac, or brandy or sherry)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin organic olive oil
1 to 2 Tablespoons water

DIRECTIONS
Soak all nuts for two hours, or overnight.  Drain and rinse nuts in colander.
In a food processor (not a blender), add all ingredients and process to as fine a consistency as you can, scraping down the sides often.  Add an extra Tablespoon of plant milk or water if necessary.  Set in fridge for a few hours or even better, overnight, for flavors to meld.   Garnish with parsley and cornichons.

Serve with thin slices of garlic bread, crackers, and/or raw vegetables such as slices of sweet red bell pepper, or endive.  I could also see stuffing cherry tomatoes and garnishing with a thin round slice of olive, for example.

Notes:  Read the lead-in for variations suggestions.  Brazil nuts are definitely a power food, providing calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, omegas, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, zinc, etc., etc.  Another vegan Worcestershire sauce is by Whole Foods 365 Organic.  You can also sprinkle with Paprika.

Cranberry Sauce with Kirschwasser and Cherry

IMG_1145    This might be the best cranberry sauce I’ve ever made.  To temper the astringency of the cranberries, I’ve paired them with cherry brandy and 100% real cherry juice.  I used a potato masher on the cooked sauce to give it a smoother texture while leaving a bit of Early American rusticity.  Kirschwasser is a clear brandy distilled from a fermented mash of cherries.  I’ll use the leftover cherry juice in the juicer, but you could make cocktails with it, or drink it straight in the morning, because it’s great for inflammation.  I don’t drink, but with the leftover Kirschwasser, you could make festive cherry Sidecars for the Thanksgiving bar too.  If you don’t want any alcohol in the house, just substitute more cherry juice for the Kirschwasser.   p.s.  There are three other cranberry sauces on this site:  Classic Cranberry SauceHoliday Cranberry Sauce,  and Cranberry Sauce with Amontillado Sherry.

CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH KIRSCHWASSER AND CHERRY

Makes about 2 Cups

INGREDIENTS
1 lb. fresh cranberries
1 Cup sugar
3/4 Cup Kirschwasser  (I used Dekuyper brand)
1/2 Cup 100% cherry juice  (I used R.W. Knudsen Just Tart Cherry Juice)

DIRECTIONS
Bring cranberries, sugar and Kirschwasser to simmer in a heavy saucepan over medium or medium-low heat.  Stir until sugar has dissolved, a minute or two.  Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the cherry juice.  Mash gently with a potato masher until it’s the consistency you want.  Cool completely.  Freeze or keep in refrigerator up to one week, in an airtight container.

Note:  If you don’t want to use the alcohol, just use more cherry juice instead of the Kirschwasser.

Chickpea Zucchini Fries with Sumac and Lemon

IMG_1104    Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, this is my riff on Mario Batali’s Chickpea Fries.  We found his version too bland, so these have been spiced up a bit, and this recipe below is halved.  I didn’t bother wringing out the zucchini, just left it to drain longer instead.  Packed with fiber and protein, these golden fries are addictive when served with wedges of fresh lemon and sea salt.

CHICKPEA FRIES

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
1 large zucchini, partially peeled and grated  (approx. 3 cups of grated zucchini)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 Cups water
1.5 Cups chickpea flour  (also called garbanzo flour)
1.5 teaspoon ground sumac
1 teaspoon Shallot-Pepper  or any other spice(s)
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour for dredging (optional)
1/2 Cup peanut oil
2 lemons, cut into wedges
sea salt or other finishing salt

DIRECTIONS
Place grated zucchini in a bowl and sprinkle with the 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and stir to mix well.  Transfer grated zucchini to a colander set over a bowl, and set aside to drain for 30 minutes or so.  Occasionally, gently stir and press it with the back of a spoon.

Grease a baking dish and line the bottom with waxed paper or parchment paper.  I used waxed paper and a Pyrex dish of approx. 11×7 inches.  Set this prepared baking dish in the refrigerator while you work.

In a medium mixing bowl, dry whisk the sumac and shallot-pepper (or other seasonings) into the chickpea flour.  In a medium saucepan, simmer the water over medium heat.  Pour in the seasoned chickpea flour and stir constantly for one minute, making sure heat is not too high.  Add zucchini, stir well and remove from heat.  Pour zucchini mixture into prepared baking dish, and gently press and smooth it out with the back of a spoon.  Chill for at least one hour, or overnight.

Onto a large floured cutting board, turn out the set chickpea mixture.  Peel off and discard the waxed paper.  Cut into fries approx. 3″ x 1/2″.   In a heavy-bottom pot, heat the oil.  Dredge fries lightly in all-purpose flour (this step is optional but it’s the only way I’ve ever done it).  Working in batches, cook the chickpea fries until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.  You’re going for golden brown here, not too dark.  Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with plenty of lemon wedges,  and sea salt for sprinkling.

Notes:  You can find ground sumac in any Middle-Eastern grocery.  These are worth getting out your best salt for.  Feel free to change up the spices.  I’ll try using black pepper and rosemary next time, to go with the lemon and sea salt.  These are called panisses in France, and panelle in Italy.  Here’s a video of Mario Batali making these.  More photos below.

IMG_1098 Zucchini draining into a bowl.
IMG_1100  Water drained from the zucchini.

Vegan Butterfinger Milkshake

IMG_0998    We recently tried the Butterfinger Milkshake at Café Blossom, and it was really good.  The key to this recipe is that old-school candy called Chick-O-Stick, because Chick-O-Sticks taste pretty much like the orange-colored center of a Butterfinger candy bar.  You can also get a vegan Butterfinger milkshake at Terri restaurants in New York City, but I haven’t had theirs.  Here’s my own delicious version of the Butterfinger Milkshake.

VEGAN BUTTERFINGER MILKSHAKE

Makes 3 to 4 servings

INGREDIENTS
6 oz. soy yogurt in plain or vanilla flavor  (I used So Delicious brand)
1 Cup cold almond milk  (or soy milk)
3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
2 dried dates (pits discarded), roughly chopped
8 Chick-O-Sticks  (sticks, not bites)
1 Cup ice

DIRECTIONS
Spoon vegan yogurt into ice-cube tray and freeze.
When yogurt cubes are frozen, get out your blender.
Set aside 4 Chick-O-Sticks
Into blender, put almond milk, peanut butter, cocoa powder and pitted dates, and blend until almost smooth.
Add the yogurt cubes and blend until almost smooth.
Add the ice and 4 of the Chick-O-Sticks and blend until almost smooth.
Add the last 4 Chick-O-Sticks and blend just a bit, so there are some tiny chunks of Chick-O-Sticks still intact.
Serve immediately.

Notes:  More photos below.  I put half the complete milkshake into the fridge, and it was still a nice, thick consistency an hour later.  I experimented, making this shake several times, trying different ingredients and mixing up the order of blending, in order to figure out better flavor and consistency.   I found the pretty paper straws at Target in their Thanksgiving paper-goods display, 40 for $3, and you get two different color combos (orange and brown in this case).

IMG_0993  I got the Chick-O-Sticks from amazon.com.
IMG_1000  I used only one 6 oz. container of yogurt.

Vegan Lychee Buttercream Frosting

IMG_0955    My lovely cousin Munam brought me some canned Lychee from Rockville.  And so I created this Lychee Buttercream Frosting to go with the Lychee Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World.   I was a bit skeptical about the recipe for the cupcake itself because it has a whopping 5 Tablespoons of flaxseed in it, but these cupcakes are very good–slightly dense and fruity, but still definitely cake.  I used only 1/3 Cup of finely-chopped lychee fruit and only 1/4 Cup of oil in the recipe, and they were still great.  I remember eating lots and lots of lychee as a kid on Kauai when we would pick them right off the branches.  This is my first experience with canned lychee and although it’s been decades, the fruity floral perfume of this Lychee Buttercream Frosting takes me right back to the Garden Isle.

VEGAN LYCHEE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

4 Cups confectioners/powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
3 Tablespoons lychee syrup/juice from a can of lychee
1 Tablespoon water
1/2 drop red food coloring (optional)

In a mixing bowl, bring Earth Balance Buttery Sticks to room temperature.  Add all other ingredients and mix with an electric mixer until smooth.  If you want the lychee flavor to be milder, use only 2 Tablespoons of lychee syrup and add 1 Tablespoon of water.  I’m going from memory, but it seems to me that the canned lychee flavor is a bit more intense than the fresh lychee.  Canned lychee are often available in Oriental grocery stores.  I used a 20 ounce can of lychee, so I had plenty of syrup to work with for both the cupcakes and this frosting.

Maple Glazed Walnuts

IMG_0893    These quick and easy Maple Glazed Walnuts are perfect for the Autumnal salad, alongside bitter greens, dried cranberries, etc.  If there are leftovers, I sprinkle them on a bowl of hot oatmeal, granola or vegan yogurt.  These take 5 to 6 minutes to make, literally.

MAPLE GLAZED WALNUTS

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup raw walnuts
3 Tablespoons good/pure maple syrup

DIRECTIONS
In a medium-size skillet, toast the walnuts (occasionally stirring) over medium heat until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn heat to low, drizzle the syrup over the walnuts and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until walnuts are glazed and there is no wet syrup left in the bottom of the skillet, about 3 minutes.  Cool on a plate and store in a jar.

Vegan Yogurt Biscuits

IMG_0721    Vegan Mofo 2013.  These quick Vegan Yogurt Biscuits work out to about one gram of fat apiece, which means we can crack them open and slather them with some vegan butter!  They’re really Southern style, if you follow the simple technique below.

VEGAN YOGURT BISCUITS

Makes at least 6.

INGREDINTS
1.5 Cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 oz. container So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt, Plain flavor only
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter and a pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt the one Tablespoon of vegan butter, stir the pinch of salt into it, and set it aside.
Whisk the 1.5 Cups of flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl.
Add the yogurt to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.
Sprinkle counter with extra flour, and turn dough out onto the floured countertop.
Sprinkle a bit of flour onto the dough and fold it in half 3 or 4 times, adding a bit more bench flour as you need it, but be sparing.
Pat dough until it’s no more than a half-inch-tall round.
Dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter into flour and cut out biscuits without twisting the cutter.
You can use a thin drinking glass if you don’t have a biscuit cutter, no worries.
Place biscuits 2 inches apart on baking sheet, and brush them with the salty butter, do not skip this step!
Bake 10-14 minutes, until golden.
Serve hot.

Notes:  These are best served hot and fresh.  For me, nothing compares to Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread.  My friend Jan hails from North Carolina, and years ago (before I went vegan) she taught me to brush Southern biscuits with a buttery, slightly-salt glaze, it makes all the difference.

Vegan Salty Oat Cookie

 

IMG_0662     Vegan Mofo 2013.  People are crazy for the Salty Oat cookie at Teaism in DC, so here’s a vegan version of that famous confection.  We can be conscious of suffering and still eat amazing sweets, and these wicked-good cookies are proof of that.  In my head, I’m calling them Be-ism cookies, because they let the animals be.

SALTED OAT COOKIES

Makes 36 to 45 cookies

INGREDIENTS
1.5 sticks Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, at almost room temperature
1 Cup light brown sugar
1/2 Cup sugar
pinch cinnamon  (1/16th teaspoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Ener-G Egg Replacer to equal 2 eggs  (1 Tablespoon Ener-G plus 1/4 Cup water)
1.75 Cups flour
2 Cups rolled oats
1/2 Cup golden raisins
fine sea salt for sprinkling  (not kosher salt)

DIRECTIONS
Dry whisk the baking powder and baking soda into the flour.  Then dry whisk the oats into the flour mixture, and set aside.  In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high for about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides, add the sugars, cinnamon and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well mixed, at least 2 minutes.  Add egg replacer and beat another 2 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture and raisins, just until incorporated.  Cover dough and chill for at least one hour, or overnight before baking.  If you’re putting the dough into a container for chilling, do not pack the dough, just put it in there gently.  Do not skip the chilling, or the cookies may spread on the pan during baking.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a Tablespoon for a measure, scoop out the dough and form gently into flattened balls (fat discs).  Do not pack the dough in your hands, be gentle.  Sprinkle each dough ball with fine sea salt, just as you would sugar.  Bake one sheet at a time, for 13-14 minutes, until cookies are beginning to turn golden.  Transfer to wire rack and cool completely before storing.

Notes:  I made these cookies smaller than some.  I like the cookies to have a little bit of a crispy edge, so I bake them at least 14 minutes.

Easy Fig Jam with Lemon and Sesame

IMG_0598    Vegan Mofo 2013.  For weeks, we’ve been having a contest to see who could get to the figs first–me or The Squirrels.  As you can imagine, the Squirrels are way ahead, but I did manage to snag a pound a half of these White Italian Honey Figs, and make some easy, vegan fig jam.  This fig jam is great with salty crackers on a vegan cheese board.  You can double this recipe, and you can use any type of figs–I’ve also made it with Brown Turkey figs.

EASY FIG JAM WITH LEMON AND SESAME

Makes about two 8-ounce jars.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 Cup water
1/2 Cup sugar
1.5 pounds ripe figs, rinsed
zest from one organic lemon
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (no more)
1 Tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted

DIRECTIONS
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast sesame seeds, shaking the pan gently until seeds turn golden.  Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, simmer water and sugar, until sugar is dissolved.
Cut each fig into about 8 pieces.
Into the sugar-water, add zest and lemon juice and figs.
Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, 1.5 to 2 hours.
Stir in sesame seeds.
If you want to, you can now use a potato masher to break up some of the fig pieces.
I like a mixed consistency.
Let cool a bit and then ladle into heavy little canning jars.
When fully cool, cap the jars.
Keep in fridge for one month, or put in freezer for up to six months.

Notes:  I’ve tried making this with stevia, and did not like the flavor at all.  One time I added extra lemon, but that made it taste kind of like Pledge, so keep it subtle.  I also tried adding more sesame seeds, but it was too much, threw the balance off.  This fig jam is great with salty crackers and vegan cheeses.  If you need to collect figs over 2 or 3 days, gently rinse and dry them, and keep them in a covered container in the refrigerator until you get enough.
IMG_0579  White Italian Honey Figs

IMG_0510  Here’s my haul from day one.  It took me two more days to steal enough from the squirrels to make jam.

IMG_0591  The picture of health, but not ripe yet.

IMG_0589  This fig tree gets cut back each Spring and then it grows about 4-6 feet in one season.  You can see it towering over our one-story garage roof here.  This fig tree faces SW, and is protected from wind by the garage.

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.

VEGAN SWEET CORN TAMALE CAKES

Makes 10

INGREDIENTS
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
and
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)

DIRECTIONS
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.

BANANA FLAXSEED QUICK BREAD

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

BANANA FLAXSEED QUICK BREAD  (with optional walnuts and dates)

Yield:  one loaf

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

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

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

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.

VEGAN CHICKEN GRYO SANDWICHES

INGREDIENTS
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

DIRECTIONS
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.

Spanakopita

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.

SPANAKOPITA OR GREEK SPINACH PIE

Makes 8 pieces

INGREDIENTS
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

DIRECTIONS
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.

IMG_3021

Easy Vegan Chai Latte – Santiva Chai Latte

Here’s my personal Chai Latte recipe, and it blows Starbucks out of the water.  Easy and quick, it’s evolved over the years.  It tastes rich without that sickly-sweet quality that coffee-shop drinks have.  In rural parts of India, they use jaggery sugar, but here I’ve substituted 1 Tablespoon of palm sugar, and you could also use coconut sugar, Demerara or brown sugar.  It’s traditional to use black tea and I prefer Assam for this, but you could also use Darjeeling, or even Oolong, with great results.  Or you can do like I did, and make your own personal chai blend by switching up the teas and spices.  You could add a single star of anise, for example.  The almond milk brings it over the top flavor-wise, and adds nutrition and protein.  This takes about 10 minutes to make and then you can keep the rest in the fridge and have it iced.  Remember that scene in Monsoon Wedding, where the prospective groom takes his fiance out into the streets to the best Chai Wallah in Delhi?  Over chai, Aditi confesses her adultery with a married man, puts her cards on the table so she can leave that old affair behind, and begin anew on a foundation of truth with this new man in her life.  Love that movie!

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Santiva Vegan Chai Latte

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS
2.5 Cups water
3 teabags of Assam tea (or Darjeeling or Oolong)
1 Tablespoon palm sugar (or coconut sugar or brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger,  or a 2-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, sliced.
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 inch cinnamon stick
6 inch vanilla bean, cut into 1″ pieces, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 whole cloves
3 Tablespoons agave syrup
2 Cups organic almond milk (plain flavor)

DIRECTIONS
Set almond milk aside.
In a saucepan, bring water to boil, toss in teabags and all other ingredients except almond milk.
Reduce heat and simmer 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add almond milk, bring just to a boil and remove from heat.
Strain and serve hot, or in tall glasses filled with ice.
Refrigerate any leftover.

Notes:  You can stretch this by adding another tea bag, another half cup of water and/or almond milk, it’s very forgiving.   Because we use sweet, rich almond milk, nobody gets hurt, and no veal calves are killed.   Also, by using organic almond milk, no farm workers are harmed by pesticides, nor is the earth.  Santiva means “Aiming at Peace.”

VEGAN GRAPE JELLY MEATBALLS

A few years ago, before I went vegan, I had these at a girlfriend’s.  There were these meatballs that had a nice flavor, sort of sweet-and-sour, but mild.  She wrote the recipe down for me on a scrap of paper, and I remember being surprised at the ingredients.  Here they are in their vegan incarnation,  perfect appetizers for a cocktail party, or Super Bowl or football food.  You could also bring these to any gathering calling for Heavy Pupus, and they take 5 minutes to make.  You could make your own vegan meatballs, but then it’s no longer a five-minute recipe.  I also read that homemade meatballs tend to fall apart in the slow cooker.  Happy New Year, Everyone.  In 2013, I plan to start blogging more raw food, less processed food, as I go along.  In the meantime, here’s this easy, delicious recipe that will have all the men at your house gathered around the crock pot.
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VEGAN GRAPE JELLY MEATBALLS

Serves:  however many meatballs are in the bags

INGREDIENTS
2 twelve-ounce jars Heinz Chili Sauce
1 32-ounce jar grape jelly, such as Welch’s
2 16-ounce bags vegan meatballs, plain flavor

DIRECTIONS
Put chili sauce and jelly in a large pot or slow cooker.
Cook on medium heat until jelly is melted smooth, stirring often.
Add frozen meatballs, and heat until thawed.
Simmer for an hour or so.

Notes:  I used a four-quart Crock-Pot slow cooker, and set the temperature to Low for half an hour while the jelly melted, stirring occasionally.  Then I added the meatballs and set it to High for an hour.  This way, the meatballs stayed nicely intact in the beginning when the stirring of the jelly was happening.  The crock pot also is a great party tool since it keeps the stove free, while keeping your appetizers hot.  I used Trader Joe’s vegan meatballs, but there are quite a few brands now, even at regular grocery stores, in the freezer section.  There is an easy variation–just use canned, jellied cranberry sauce instead of the grape jelly.

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Rosemary

Here is a silky, cream-of-mushroom soup with a luscious  flavor and texture that would please any Polish Grandmother.  Rosemary is a common ingredient in homemade cream of mushroom soup, but here it’s steeped into a subtlety that adds complexity without being overwhelming.  I’ve bumped up the flavor with white wine (using Madeira because it’s traditional), and made a cashew sour cream for extra protein and richness.  Now that I’ve made this, it inspires me to go ahead and try again on the white spargle soup that I failed on last year.  This vegan bisque is soy free, gluten free, and tastes even better the next day.  This is so sophisticated, and tastes so Alsatian, that I would serve it to anyone, even a European chef.
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Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup with Rosemary

Serves:  approximately 6  (I didn’t keep track too well)

INGREDIENTS
For the Cashew Cream
3/4 Cup raw cashews
1/2 Cup filtered water
juice of half a lemon

For the Soup
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance organic vegan butter
4 shallots, minced very fine
16 oz. fresh, organic, pristine white button mushrooms, rinsed well and chopped  (I only use the caps)
2 Cups vegetable broth  (I used Better Than Bouillon)
1/2 Cup white wine of some kind  (I used Madeira)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 Cup coconut creamer, So Delicious brand
3 small sprigs fresh rosemary,  2-3 inches long each,  rinsed
plus one tiny sprig for garnish.  Rosemary is a key ingredient of this recipe, don’t omit it!

DIRECTIONS
The day before, make the cashew sour cream:
Combine cashews, water and lemon juice in food processor and puree until very smooth.  Store in sealed container in fridge overnight.

The next day:
In a smaller stock pot, heat vegan butter on medium heat.
Add minced shallots and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add chopped mushrooms and cook until they begin to give off their liquid, about 10 minutes, adding a little stock if it begins to dry out.
Add all remaining vegetable stock.
Add the salt and white wine, and stir until blended.
Add the cashew sour cream and stir until blended.
Add the coconut creamer and stir until blended.
Remove from heat, add the sprigs of rosemary and cover to steep for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, stir soup and discard rosemary sprigs.
In a blender, puree 3/4 of the soup until very smooth.
Add pureed soup back into the pot with the un-blended soup.
Re-heat and serve, or refrigerate until the next day.
Heat before serving, but do not boil.
Garnish with a tiny sprig of rosemary.

Note:  I would not use soy creamer here, because it has a distinct flavor that would take away from the purity of these simple ingredients.

Strawberry Scones

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

Yield:  12 scones

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

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

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

 

Vegan Nut Bars

This Nut Bar is sort of like my old favorite, the Payday candy bar, which is unfortunately not vegan.  No worries, because this tastes way better.  The nuts and dried fruit can be mixed and matched here, using whatever you like.  The Lyle’s Golden Syrup, while British, is easily available in most U.S. grocery stores, and it adds a buttery unctuousness that’s hard to describe, with a slight caramel flavor.  The salt is a tiny bit intense but is an amazing foil against the sugar, and makes up the whole “salted nuts” flavor profile.  Any kind of nut combinations would do, so I plan to experiment with hazelnuts, pecans, etc., someday.   Vegan Mofo 2012.
*
VEGAN NUT BARS

Makes approximately 12 to 16 bars, depending upon how you cut them.

INGREDIENTS
1 Earth Balance Buttery Stick  (1/2 Cup vegan butter)
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 Cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 Cup slivered almonds (also called blanched almonds)
1/4 Cup white sesame seeds
1/2 Cup cocktail peanuts
1/4 Cup raisins

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.    Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper  (cut the parchment paper slightly long so you will be able to grasp it to pull the baked-and-cooled bar mass out of the pan).

In a large bowl, combine oats, all nuts and dried fruit, and stir well.    In a small saucepan, combine vegan butter, brown sugar, syrup and salt over medium heat.
Cook, stirring, just until you see a bubble or two, about 5 minutes, and remove from heat.   Add syrup mixture to oat/nut mixture, stir well and press evenly into prepared pan.    Bake 20 to 25 minutes, making sure edges turn golden brown, but do not burn.  Place pan on rack and allow mixture to fully cool in the pan, so it can harden and set.   Lift nut-bar mass onto a cutting board and cut into bars.  I used a long, sharp knife.   Store in airtight container with wax paper between the layers, so they don’t end up stuck together.  Chill in fridge, which will harden them a bit and make them less likely to fall apart.  Or freeze.

Notes:  Mix and match, use any combination of nuts and fruit you like!  Wrap in wax paper for the best lunchbox or road trip snack ever.

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.
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Vegan Chicken Divan

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
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

DIRECTIONS
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 Corn Chowder with Vegan Bacon Bits

Here’s an easy and delicious American chowder to celebrate the last of the summer corn, and the local potatoes that are available now.  Fried bits of Smart Bacon give a meaty flavor, and sherry and smoked paprika add depth.  Half of the soup is whirled in a blender to give a creamy base to this otherwise-chunky chowder.  Buttery and seasonal; perfect for late summer and early Fall.    p.s.  This photo is terrible.  I took it before I thought to add a touch of turmeric, so the end result has a hint of yellow color to it that this photo does not show.  Also, by the time I got the camera, all the fresh corn had sunk to the bottom of the bowl.  This soup is prettier than this photo shows!
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Vegan Corn Chowder with Vegan Bacon Bits

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

6 strips Smart Bacon diced small
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter
1 medium onion diced fine
1-2 stalks celery diced fine
1 large russet potato diced fine  (peel if not organic)
6 ears fresh corn, cut off the cobs
1 medium red bell pepper diced fine
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley chopped fine (optional)
2 Cups vegetable broth  (I used Better Than Bouillon)
2 Tablespoons sherry  (optional)
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce  (such as Wizard brand)
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 Cup Silk Original Soy Creamer (not flavored)

DIRECTIONS
Set raw corn kernels aside.
In a small stock pot, saute Smart Bacon bits in 1 Tablespoon of the vegan butter until sizzling, and then drain on paper towel.
Add last Tablespoon of vegan butter to stock pot, and sauté the onion, celery and potatoes for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
Add stock, sherry, Worcestershire, onion powder, smoked paprika and turmeric to pot, and simmer about 10 minutes until potatoes are tender.
Place half of the chowder and half of the raw corn in a blender and blend well to a creamy consistency.
Add the blended/creamed chowder back to the pot.
Add the rest of the raw corn to the pot, along with the diced red bell pepper.
Stir to blend, and simmer gently about 3 more minutes.
Stir in soy creamer and simmer 1 last minute.
Serve in bowls and ladle some bacon bits into each bowl.
Serve with crusty bread.

Notes:   The bacon bits add a lot.  Do not add any red bell pepper into the blender, unless you want a pink soup.  The turmeric won’t impart any flavor, but is very healthy and will add a little yellow tint to the color of the chowder.  A homemade, clear vegetable broth would provide best flavor and color, but this is the quick version.

Rice-Cooker Balinese Black Rice Pudding or Bubur Injin

Supposedly, this exotic Black Rice Pudding from Bali is also called Bubur Pulut Hitam.  I think you can find other recipes using the name Bubur Injin, and there are other variations on this delicious dessert.  I found the black Thai sticky rice at Whole Foods; it’s their “365” store brand.   Believe it or not, I got the organic palm sugar from Amazon last winter.  The first time I made this, I made it the traditional way, in a steam pot, and permanently stained my white flour-sack dish towel.  So this time, I used my beloved Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker, and it was a snap.  My recipe below also eliminates the traditional overnight soaking of the rice.  Compared with the steaming, I got a softer texture with the Zojirushi, so if you’re a stickler about that chewier texture, such as you would supposedly get on the street in Bangkok, then this method may not be for you.  But for me, it tasted great and was so easy.  p.s.  You can find videos for this very popular dish online.
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Bubur Injin or Balinese Black Rice Pudding
    or Rice-Cooker Thai Black-Rice Pudding

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS
2 Cups Black Thai Rice (such as the 365 brand from Whole Foods)
1/4 Cup palm sugar  (or brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt.
2 Cups, or one 14 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 Cup sweetened shredded coconut (optional)
one fresh mango, peeled and cubed

DIRECTIONS
Rinse rice at least twice.
Cook rice in Zojirushi rice cooker, according to the directions for brown rice.
In a small skillet, toast shredded coconut over medium heat, stirring often, until nicely browned, and then set it aside to cool.
In a small saucepan, mix sugar, salt and coconut milk over medium heat, bring just to a boil, and then remove from heat.
Using a small measuring cup (1/3 Cup or less) put a mound of the cooked black rice in a very small bowl, and then spoon some of the coconut milk mixture on top of it.
Top each dish with some cubed mango and then sprinkle on some of the toasted coconut.

Note:  The palm sugar gives a subtle but authentic flavor twist to this dish.  The salt is a key foil to the sugar.  Make portions authentically small, as this is a dense dish.  I like Thai Kitchen brand organic coconut milk, found in grocery stores.

Vegan Jam – Quick Freezer Jam

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

VEGAN FREEZER JAM – Quick Strawberry Jam

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

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

Vegan Raspberry Oat Bars

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

VEGAN RASPBERRY OAT BARS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegan No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I remember this fast and easy recipe from when i was a child.  This unlikely-looking cookie is one of the first things some kids learn to make, in part because there is no baking required.   With a zero-cholesterol butter like Earth Balance, vegan kids of all ages can enjoy this.  Before we get to the recipe, I want you to squelch that foodie scoff, because these are really delicious;  like a cross between an oatmeal cookie and the best homemade fudge.  The peanut butter flavor is faint but it gives complexity, and adds protein while filling the fat quotient of this recipe.  I was going to give this whole batch to the flooring guys, but somehow, there are a few missing . . .  must be Menehunes.  Vegan No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies.  See Nutrition Info. below.
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Vegan No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Makes about 24

INGREDIENTS
1/4 Cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
2 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup soy milk or other plant milk
4 Tablespoons Cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
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1/2 Cup peanut butter (my favorite is Maranatha Organic No Stir)
3-1/2 Cups Rolled Oats (organic, of course)
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
Add first five ingredients to large saucepan.
Bring to boil, and boil for one minute while stirring.
Stir in peanut butter until it dissolves.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Stir in oats and drop rounded tablespoons onto parchment paper.

Notes:  To make a half batch, as I did, simply reduce all above ingredients by half.  I stored mine in the fridge and really liked it ice cold.

Nutrition for one cookie:  Calories 157.  Fat 5.4.  Saturated Fat 1.2.  Trans Fat 0.  Monounsaturated Fat 2.2.  Cholesterol 0.  Sodium 68.  Potassium 6.3.  Carbs 25.5.  Fiber 2.  Sugars 16.8.  Protein 3.6.  Vitamin A 0.  Vitamin C 0.  Calcium 1.  Iron 4.8.

Vegan Potato, Sweet Potato and Onion Latkes

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

Makes 18 small Latkes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cacahuates Garapinados or Candied Peanuts

Cacahuates Garapinados are a common treat in Mexico, or so I’ve read, because I’ve never been to Mexico.  The packaged candied peanuts in our local Latin market do not look nearly as good as these; they’re obviously commercially made and look a bit like those Boston Baked Beans candy.  So, I went to Plaza Latina in Easton, and purchased two 10 oz. bags of peanuts-in-the-shell, for $1.50 per bag, and these yielded a total of 3 Cups of usable shelled peanuts (some were duds).  At first, I thought the hardest part of making this recipe was shelling the peanuts.  But afterwards, I realized the most difficult part is not eating them all in one sitting.  These would be perfect to take to the movies if your theatre has nothing vegan.  Placed into paper cones or twists, they would be great filler for a vegan Easter basket, or delicious with after-dinner drinks instead of a heavy dessert.  In the interest of science, I made two batches of these Cacahuates Garapinados.  The first batch I made using Planters Cocktail Peanuts from a can, and it was just as good as, if not better than the raw peanuts with the skins on, believe it or not.  I know this is heresy, but it’s true.  Because the Planters Cocktail Peanuts are already roasted, you get an intensified roasted flavor by the time you make this recipe, because you’re not only cooking them on stovetop, but roasting them again.  I found two wonderful videos on YouTube; one using peanuts, and one using almonds.  The almond video really shows the transformation of the sugar.  Latin markets also have shelled raw peanuts, which would save a lot of time.  I’m guessing it took me about 45 minutes to shell the two bags of peanuts.  p.s.  Plaza Latina is a lovely store.
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Cacahuates Garapinados  or  Candied Peanuts

INGREDIENTS
2 Cups unsalted raw peanuts (preferably with skins on)
(or you can use Planters Cocktail Peanuts from a can)
1 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup water
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, and stir.
Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil.
Once boiling, stir often for 10 minutes and then stir constantly for another 5 minutes, just until sugar gets sandy.
Stir again to coat, and pour peanuts onto prepared baking sheet.
Using two forks or spoons, spread the peanuts out a little.
Bake for about 13 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool completely.
Peanuts will harden as they cool.
Keep in a glass jar for up to a month.  Believe me, they won’t last that long.

Tips:  The raw “redskin” peanuts are the most traditional, but they are time consuming to shell, so next time, I’ll try using the shelled, raw peanuts.  My favorite flavor, however, came from using Planters Cocktail Peanuts.  One good ratio is using a 12.5 ounce can of Planters Redskin Spanish Peanuts.

Vegan Royal Icing

Here’s my first attempt at a Royal Icing without the egg whites or meringue powder.  It works great and tastes just like it ought to.  Simple to make and easy to work with, so I’m pretty happy.  I did read some vegan recipes online that call for corn syrup, but I decided to try using Ener-G Egg Replacer instead.  A box of this stuff is about $6 but it lasts for a couple of years, even if you bake a lot.  I would say it’s one of those basic pantry necessities.  The classic Christmas Cookie is one of my favorite holiday traditions, and Royal Icing is an integral part of it.  I always leave the iced cookies out overnight so the icing fully cures and hardens some.  Also, i always put a bit of colored sugar or sprinkles or something on the wet icing, because this helps keep the cookies from sticking to each other when they’re stacked in tins.
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Vegan Royal Icing

Makes 2 Cups or so

INGREDIENTS
1 Lb. confectioners (powdered) sugar
5 Tablespoons Ener-G Egg Replacer powder
scant 1/2 Cup water (you probably won’t need all this water)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

DIRECTIONS
Put powdered sugar into a mixing bowl.
Add Ener-G Egg Replacer powder, and dry whisk to combine.
Add water, a little at a time, and stop when it is the right consistency.  I usually do not add all the water, and you don’t want it watery.
Add the almond extract.
Mix well with an electric hand-held mixer.
Divide icing and tint each portion your desired colors.
Chill icing for at least an hour or overnight.

Notes:  For Christmas cookies, make sure cookies are fully cooled on racks before you ice them.  I like to immediately sprinkle the iced cookies with edible glitter, colored sugar, sprinkles, etc., while the icing is still wet enough so that the decorations will stick.  Once cookies are decorated, leave them out, uncovered overnight in a dry location, so the icing can cure and dry more.  Another classic thing to do is to flavor Royal Icing with lemon or lime juice and the zest of same.  I’m not crazy about the lemon, and I’m a lemon freak.  If you decide to flavor your icing with fruit juice, make sure to reduce the water added by the same amount.  I use a plain old table knife to apply the icing.

Romesco Sauce Dip

Romesco Sauce is a traditional Catalonian dish from Spain that can also be made with hazelnuts or pine nuts.  This dip is simple to make, delicious, and gorgeous to look at.  Great for the buffet table or to bring to a party.  Slather on sandwiches and wraps, or canapes.  Serve with crackers or crudites.  And, I almost forgot, it’s healthy!  I made this in my Vitamix and it came out really smooth, but I’ve also made it in a food processor before with great results.  You don’t really taste the almonds, but they pack a big protein punch and add a creamy body to the otherwise-loose texture of the dip.  I advise setting aside some of the almonds as a garnish, because this indicates there are nuts in the dish, in case anyone has allergies.  Otherwise, you’d never know they were in there.  Also, I like to make this one day ahead to give the small amount of raw garlic time to mellow out.
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Romesco Sauce Dip

Makes about 1.5 Cups

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup whole natural almonds (or slivered almonds), toasted
8 to 12 ounces roasted red peppers from jar, drained.  I have used Vlasic brand and also Sun of Italy brand.
1 Tablespoon dry sherry (or sherry vinegar)
1 small garlic clove, peeled
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

DIRECTIONS
Set aside a Tablespoon or two of the toasted almonds, coarsely chopped, to use as a garnish.
Very finely chop the rest of the almonds in food processor or Vitamix.
Add drained roasted peppers, sherry or sherry vinegar, and garlic.
Process to a coarse puree.
Add olive oil and salt, and process until puree thickens slightly.
Transfer to a small bowl.
Cover and chill.

NOTES:  I like to make this one day ahead, to give the raw garlic time to mellow out.  This can sit on the buffet table for hours and it gets better as it comes to room temperature.  Great on sandwiches, canapes, crudites, etc.

Vegan Con Queso Dip

IMG_2754

This is an old recipe from the 1970’s that I’ve veganized.  It’s sort of like the vegan Rotel Dip but has more vegetables and spices in it, and it’s really good.  Served with Doritos, Tostitos or Frito’s, it’s perfect for nacho night or watching football at home.  If you don’t want to use the beer in it, I suppose you could use soda water, but I haven’t tried that yet.  If you really want to do it up right, you could also serve the Excellent Bean Dip from this site.
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Vegan Con Queso Dip

Serves 6 to 8,  I’m guessing.

INGREDIENTS
2 Tablespoons oil
1 large onion, diced
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes, drained (any kind, even fire roasted)
4 oz. can diced green chili peppers (we like mild or medium heat)
1 clove garlic, pressed, or crushed and minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
8 oz. bag of Daiya cheese
up to 1/2 Cup of beer

DIRECTIONS
Saute onion in oil on medium heat.
Add tomatoes, chili peppers and seasonings.
Simmer on low until blended and some of the liquid is gone.
Put in double boiler and add cheese.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, until cheese melts.
Add splashes of beer as you stir, maybe a Tablespoon or two at a time, to smooth out the mixture and keep it “open.”
Serve with nacho chips or Fritos.

Notes:  You could probably substitute soda water instead of beer.  I haven’t tried this yet, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.

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.
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Falafel Burgers

Makes six burgers

INGREDIENTS
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

DIRECTIONS
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 Tzatziki Sauce

Being October, I had no fresh dill in the garden, so I used dried dill weed, and it still tastes great.  The sprig in the photo is actually fennel, just to make it pretty.  This quick and easy recipe uses vegan sour cream, for a rich texture, and it came out better than my try with soy yogurt a while back.  I’m not crazy about garlic in delicate cream sauces, so I omitted it.  For me, it’s brighter and fresher without it, and the cool, crisp cucumber and the dill can come through cleanly.  Besides, I already put plenty of garlic in my falafels.  I also added fresh lemon juice to this vegan tzatziki sauce.  p.s.  I made this recipe specifically to go on my Falafel Burgers.
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Vegan Tzatziki

INGREDIENTS
1 good sized cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
12 ouncesTofutti sour cream
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped fine (or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed)
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice

DIRECTIONS
Take vegan sour cream out of the fridge and let it warm up some.
Grate cucumber, put it in a small bowl and set it aside while you work, to let the cucumber juice accumulate in the bottom of the bowl.
With the back of a spoon, press the cucumber and drain the juice out of the bowl.
Drink the cucumber juice, don’t waste it!
Mix all the ingredients together and stir well.
Chill in the fridge.

Notes:  If I had fresh dill on hand, I would have added more of it, and fresh dill is preferable over dried. Some Mediterranean restaurants use sour cream for their tzatziki, so that’s what I did.  It’s better than the one I made previously with soy yogurt, and has a richer texture too.  If you have to have the garlic, I would try 1 to 2 cloves crushed and chopped.

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.

Turkish Yogurt Coriander Sauce

There are many variations of this Turkish Yogurt Coriander Sauce, but I’ve never seen a vegan one.  These sauces are used on roasted Middle Eastern foods, so would be great with veggie kebabs, Iranian vegan Kubideh sandwiches, etc.  I created this from a traditional recipe to go with some vegan Kibbeh that I made today, and I have to say the whole meal rocked.  This quick, easy, creamy sauce was so refreshing on the “meaty” kibbeh.  It would be great with any Middle Eastern dish (Persian, Moroccan, Lebanese, Syrian) calling for a cool, creamy sauce.  I’m even thinking of falafels.  Or anything Indian or Pakistani that would call for raita, or anything Greek calling for tzatziki.  I love the Trader Joe’s frozen cilantro cubes because they save me from buying a bag of cilantro (coriander leaves) when I know I’m only going to use a little bit of it, and the rest will go bad.  In closing, this sauce is easy, quick, cool and delicious.  A keeper.

Vegan Turkish Yogurt Coriander Sauce

Keeps for 2 days in fridge.

Makes: 1.5 cups approx.

INGREDIENTS
½ of a small garlic clove,  pressed, or crushed and minced
3 Tablespoons of onion, very finely chopped (sweet onion is sometimes preferred, but it’s not critical)
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar (or distilled white vinegar)
1 Cup almonds, chopped or sliced
a pinch of sea salt
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon fine black pepper
1 Cup plain vegan yogurt  (I used a 6 oz. So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk Yogurt, Plain flavor)
1-2 Tablespoons fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped fine (I used instead 3 teaspoons of Trader Joe’s frozen cilantro cubes, thawed)

DIRECTIONS
Put chopped or sliced almonds in a small skillet and toast lightly with a pinch of fine sea salt, and stir.
In a serving bowl, combine garlic, onion and vinegar, and let stand for 10 minutes.
Beat in the olive oil, until the sauce is creamy.  I use my café latte frother.
Add salt, pepper, coriander/cilantro, and yogurt, and then whisk or froth to blend well.
Add almonds just before serving, to keep them crunchy.

Vegan Fried Rice – Local Style

  With Seitan, caramelized onions and fresh corn.

Here’s a good, quick Fried Rice.  In Hawaii, there’s always someplace to get good local-style Fried Rice, but not here on the Mainland.  So, you can make this at home with whatever you have on hand.  This time, I used one of our favorite combinations of grated carrot, caramelized onion and fresh corn kernels.  Some considerations with Fried Rice, which is in essence a Stir Fry, are the order in which you add things to the pan, how finely ingredients are chopped, and most importantly, the seasonings.  I’ve tried using more shoyu (soy sauce) to get more oomph, but it backfires every time.  The key is subtlety–have some balance, keep it simple, not too much oil, and of course, use REAL rice!  If you’ve ever lived in Hawaii, you know that a common joke is to accuse someone of using “Uncle Ben’s” rice.  Yes, the rice must be actually cooked, by you, but you can use a rice cooker, of course, as most Hawaiians do.  I grew up having white “sticky rice” at every meal, but now I like brown rice, and for Fried Rice, I use short-grain brown rice, and it’s delicious.  This photo is not garnished because I didn’t have any green onions on hand, but they are important in this dish.  The protein i used this time was the General Tso’s Vegan Chicken from Whole Foods, cut into quarters, and sauteed with the rice toward the end.  But you could press and cube tofu and cook it beforehand, use nuts, etc.

VEGAN FRIED RICE – LOCAL STYLE

Make rice one day ahead.  Rice must be cold.  Freshly cooked rice will just make a sticky mess.

Serves 3 to 4 people

INGREDIENTS
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
1/8 tsp fine sea salt, or Hawaiian salt
4 Cups cold cooked rice (real rice only)
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 carrot, grated
½ C fresh vegetables, chopped fine
A protein, such as diced seitan or pressed-and-cubed tofu or shelled steamed soy beans, or nuts, etc.
2 Tablespoons Tamari sauce
1 Tablespoon Black Bean Sauce  (my personal secret ingredient)
Black pepper
For garnish:  green onions, sesame seeds, etc.

DIRECTIONS
Whisk together the Tamari and Black Bean sauces, and set aside.
In a large, non-stick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
If using tofu, fry it until firm or slightly browned, and set aside.
Heat the remaining sesame oil.
Add onions, carrot, the salt, and sauté until onions are a bit caramelized.
Add other vegetables now, if you have not added them with the onions.
Break up lumps of cold, cooked rice  (with your hands) and add to pan.
Stir until rice is heated and grains are separated.
Stir until thoroughly heated and mixed.
Sprinkle Tamari sauces mixture over rice and mix evenly through.
Sprinkle with black pepper if desired.
Garnish with green onions, sesame seeds, etc.

Note:  If using heavy, raw vegetables, chop them finer and add them earlier; when you add the onions, so they have time to really cook.  They key with this dish is to chop things somewhat uniformly.  We like our vegetables to be chopped pretty fine so it’s a more married dish.  When the fresh, local corn is ripe, we like it in this dish.

Spicy Lebanese Potatoes – Batata Harra

According to Wikipedia, Batata Harra can also be a Syrian dish if made with red peppers, coriander and chili.  There’s an Indian version as well, but here we have a Lebanese dish.  Since the cilantro is briefly sauteed, it’s milder in flavor, and so might even appeal to those who have not yet acquired a taste for cilantro.

Batata Harra – Lebanese Spicy Potatoes

INGREDIENTS
6-8 medium-to-large red potatoes, or fingerling potatoes to equal
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Cup washed, chopped fresh cilantro, with stems removed
4 cloves garlic, pressed, or crushed and minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.   Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Do not peel potatoes.   Chop potatoes into small cubes, maybe 1/2 inch dice.
In a large bowl, toss potatoes with only 2 Tablespoons of the oil, and half of the salt.
Spread potatoes onto lined baking sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes, stirring them halfway through, until golden.
In a frying pan or wok, sauté garlic in remaining Tablespoon of olive oil for a minute or two.  Add potatoes and stir and saute for another minute or two.  Add in cilantro, remaining salt, cayenne and freshly ground pepper, and stir in pan before serving.

Notes:  Some cooks deep-fry the potatoes.  If you’re using potatoes with thicker skins, such as russets, you could mostly peel them.  Best served hot, but fine at room temperature too.

Ambrosial Vegan Granola

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

Makes about 8 cups, or 16 servings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catalina Salad Dressing

I needed some Catalina salad dressing for an upcoming recipe, so I made enough for salads too.  Oddly enough, even something as simple as a Catalina salad dressing by both Kraft and Wish-Bone companies are NOT vegan, nor are they even vegetarian.  This one takes 5 minutes to make, tastes better than store-bought and is cruelty-free!  I don’t know the history of Catalina salad dressing, I just know Americans love it and it’s got a sweet and tangy edge to it.
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Vegan Catalina Salad Dressing

Makes about one Cup (notes for doubling recipe at bottom)

INGREDIENTS
3 Tablespoons sugar (I’ll try agave syrup next time)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (ground mustard seed)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 Cup vinegar (use white wine vinegar or white balsamic)
1/3 Cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (you could get away one Tablespoon)
grated onion or shallot, to taste  (maybe 1 or 2 Tablespoons)

DIRECTIONS
Place all ingredients into blender and mix, or into a jar and use a caffe latte frother.
Store in refrigerator.
Shake before using.

Should keep at least a week.

Note:  If you want to double this, do so.  But, do not double the sugar and oil.  If doubling, I would try using 1/4 Cup sugar and 2 to 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil.  And I would try 1/3 Cup of vinegar and taste it to see if it needed more.  I used my Bonjour cafe latte frother to blend the dressing and it was still emulsified the next day.  Using a light-colored vinegar gives it a brighter color, which is desirable.  I like Alessi brand for an inexpensive white balsamic from the grocery store, but white wine vinegar would probably work well and give an even brighter color.

Rhubarb Strawberry Compote

This is my own recipe that I developed about ten years ago when i was looking for the easiest way to make compote.  The answer is to simply combine some of the ingredients into a casserole dish and bake it in the oven, of course.  I saw a lot of recipes that called for whopping amounts of sugar (like two cups), but I’ve really  cut it down here and still have plenty of sweetness to offset the extremely stringent rhubarb.  Married here with its seasonal partner, the strawberry, this is so good that it has converted rhubarb haters.  Also, the finished hot rhubarb ends up cooking the raw strawberries and it comes out just right (said the baby bear).  p.s.  Keep in mind that strawberries are in the Dirty Dozen, so it’s important to buy organic when it comes to this fruit.  If you want to skip the rhubarb, there’s also a quick Strawberry Chia Jam,  and a Quick Freezer Jam on this swite.

RHUBARB STRAWBERRY COMPOTE

INGREDIENTS
1 pound rhubarb (3-4 large stalks)
16 oz. organic strawberries
½ vanilla bean (optional)
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 Cup organic sugar
¼ Cup Brown Rice Syrup

a teaspoon of Earth Balance to butter the casserole

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
(Do NOT add any water, because rhubarb releases a lot of water)
Butter the casserole dish with the Earth Balance, and set aside.
Cut rhubarb into 1-inch pieces, and place into buttered casserole.
Optional; scrape seeds from half of a vanilla bean, and add to casserole dish.
Add salt.
Pour pour sugar over all.
Cover with lid and place in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, slice strawberries into halves and quarters.
Gently mix strawberries with brown rice syrup, and set aside.
When timer goes off, remove casserole from oven.
immediately put strawberries in with hot rhubarb, and mix gently.
Replace lid and let strawberries “cook” with rhubarb as it cools.
Freezes beautifully!  This versatile compote is great on vegan cheesecake, soy yogurt parfaits, etc.  It also makes a big splash on the center of broiled grapefruit halves for a special brunch or breakfast, spooned over vegan ice cream, you name it.

Cauliflower Puree

I found this gorgeous green cauliflower at the grocery store.  The label says Carnival Multi-Color Cauliflower and it apparently comes in other colors too, such as purple or orange. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I used to make a cauliflower puree that was good, and so I veganized my old recipe.  I wanted a hint of cheesy-ness and not so much fat, so I added the Vitamin-B-12-rich “nooch” or Nutritional Yeast.  I tried making this in my steel Waring blender without a lot of success, so I scraped it into my Vitamix and got such a silky puree that it’s almost a soup.  If you do want a soup, it’s easily achieved simply by adding more liquid, by the way.  One last note is that I photographed this in different lights on different surfaces, trying to relate how green the color is.  Please know that this photo is several shades duller than the true celadon-with-a-hint-of-yellow green.  If you want a splash of elegant color on your plate, this is it.  Oh yeah, and it’s delicious too.
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Cauliflower Puree
Yield:  4 to 6 servings
INGREDIENTS
1 head of cauliflower
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper (ground)
1/4 Cup soy creamer (such as Silk brand) (non-flavored)
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast flakes
up to 1/2 Cup of the steaming water from the pot
DIRECTIONS
Trim the cauliflower and cut off all florets for steaming.
Bring water to a low boil.
Cover and steam florets for about 10-15 minutes, until easily pierced with a sharp knife.  Do not over-cook or the taste will become too strong.
Place about a third of the steamed florets into a Vitamix, food processor or blender (a blender would be my third choice).
Add the butter, and salt and pepper.
Add 1/4 Cup of of the steam water and the soy creamer, and process.
Scrape the sides down and add 1/3 more cauliflower, and process.
If you need to, add up to 1/4 Cup more of the steam water.

Add the rest of the cauliflower and finish processing.

Note:  If you want a soup, add more of the steam water, a little at a time.

Espresso Icing Glaze

This is an icing glaze I came up with a few years ago, and it takes less than five minutes to make.  Because caffeinated coffee gives me migraines, I use decaf instant coffee, or decaf instant espresso when i can find it.  This glaze is especially good on brownies but is versatile and can be drizzled on Bundt or coffee cakes, muffins, etc.  It has a gorgeous cafe au lait color.

Espresso Icing Glaze
2 Tablespoons soy milk or other non-dairy milk or creamer
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon  instant coffee or instant espresso GRANULES
1 Tablespoon vegan butter, such as Earth Balance
1.5 Cups confectioner sugarDIRECTIONS
Heat milk, butter, and coffee until butter melts.  Watch carefully that it does not boil.
Stir in sugar until smooth.
Glaze while hot.

Flapjacks – British Oat Cakes

In America, the word Flapjack is most often synonymous with Pancake.  However, it is something different in Europe.  No matter which country you’re in, these particular flapjacks are chewy and sweet and uber satisfying.  When I took my Mom to England in 2004, we stayed in South Kensington, but hopping the Tube and various trains, we went everywhere for eleven days.  I noticed these little packages of individual oat cakes in every convenience store.  The exchange rate then was so bad for us, that I ate a “flapjack” almost every day.  We were walking at least 8 hours a day and were spending sometimes $30 U.S. on lunch (including tip) per person, so these curious flapjack thingies were a great snack that kept me from hunger until dinnertime.  I’ve tried several recipes for flapjacks over the years and this one tastes the most like the ones I had in London, and Leeds, and the Cotswolds.  Sort of brings me back there, like Paddington Bear.
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Vegan Flapjacks – British Oat Cakes

INGREDIENTS
1/2 Cup vegan butter, or one Earth Balance Buttery Stick
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar or Sucanat
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 Tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup
3 Cups old-fashioned rolled oats (I use organic)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
In a small saucepan, over low heat, combine vegan butter, sugar, salt, and Golden Syrup.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter and sugar have melted.
Add vanilla.
Immediately stir in oats until coated.
Pour into 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.  Mixture should be somewhere about an inch thick, maybe a bit less.
Oil your wooden spoon and press the oats down into the pan.
If using an 8-inch square pan, bake for about 20 minutes.
If using a 9-inch square pan, bake for about 18-20 minutes.
Remove from oven and cut into squares or rectangles, but leave them in the pan until they cool completely.
They will harden more as they sit.

Notes;  Once again, I love my inexpensive Wilton9-inch square pan with cover.  A narrow offset spatula is helpful to extract slim rectangles or “bars” of the oat cakes from the pan, or you can just use a fork.  From what I’ve read, some Brits put raisins and/or nuts in their homemade flapjacks.  Lars likes them with chocolate chips.  If you’re adding anything like that, just add 1/4 Cup.  The store-bought ones I had in England, however, were just plain.

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

INGREDIENTS
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

DIRECTIONS
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.

Vegan Tapioca Pudding

This tastes every bit as rich as tapioca made with eggs and cows milk, and yet it has neither.  So good, and so easy.  Yes, you DO have to stir it for about 15 minutes, because here, we’re not using “quick tapioca” or “granulated tapioca.”  I made some quick tapioca for my Dad recently (a Jacques Pepin recipe) and I did not care for it at all.  Then I looked around online and noticed that many Thai and Vietnamese recipes call for “small pearl” tapioca, so I bought some at the supermarket.  I didn’t have high hopes for this one either, but to my delight, it came out perfectly delicious.   It has that Vietnamese-style warm, slightly-soupy texture when it was warm, but later it chilled and thickened into traditional tapioca texture, but was still more tender, more delectable, and more flavorful than the granulated/quick tapioca.  Now we have a good base to play off of in future, but for the record, it’s wonderful as is. The burning question about tapioca (for me) was to soak or not to soak the tapioca pearls first.  I looked at a LOT of tapioca recipes online and in cookbooks, regarding this question. Even the Bascom’s box said to soak the pearls overnight.  After reading a lengthy article and some non-soaking recipes, I decided to skip the soaking, and am glad to say it worked just right.  One article even said not to soak overnight because the pearls get mushy, but to only soak for 30 minutes.  You can decide.  Another article cautioned to only use a heavy-bottomed pot.  Between this recipe and the Persian Rice recipe, I’m glad I own a smaller stock pot with a heavy bottom.  Maybe you will have good luck with a regular pot, but after one failure, I wasn’t taking any more chances.  Postscript:  My girlfriend Piliki soaked the pearls for two hours and said it made a big difference to her, made it better.
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Vegan Tapioca Pudding

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
1 heavy-bottomed pot (I used a small stock pot)
3 Cups soy milk (I like WestSoy Organic Unsweetened)
1/2 Cup small pearl tapioca (I used Bascom’s brand)
1/2 Cup sugar (I used organic)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Earth Balance vegan butter

DIRECTIONS
Take one tablespoon of your measured sugar and mix it in a small dish with the cinnamon and salt.  This will help prevent the cinnamon from clumping, as mine did.  Set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, simmer soy milk, remaining sugar and tapioca over medium-low heat, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes until tapioca is  translucent.  Bringing the heat up slowly like this allows the un-soaked tapioca to absorb the liquid and swell.
Turn heat up to medium, add in the cinnamon/salt mixture and now when it is at a low, constant boil, stir constantly for 10 more minutes or so.  Mixture will thicken and tapioca pearls will continue to swell and become more translucentYou will all of a sudden see the translucent pearls become more visible as you stir.
Once mixture is thickened and tapioca pearls are completely translucent, remove from heat and add in the butter and vanilla, and stir to blend well.
This is fabulous served the Vietnamese way; warm with sliced bananas in it.  Or you can chill it and let it thicken all the way in the fridge–it’s good that way too!  If you’re leaving bananas in your pudding too, make sure they are covered completely so they don’t turn brown in the fridge (I read this but have not tried it).

This is the only way I’ve made it so far, but I do believe one could play around with this a lot.  Although I already used less sugar than many online recipes, I will try to reduce the sugar a little in future or substitute in some healthier sweetener.  Substitute some  other nut milk if you like, or add different flavored extracts or syrups to it, instead of the vanilla.  You could even go Middle Eastern with the flavors by adding some kewra and/or a tiny bit of rosewater.  Or make it more butterscotchy by browning a bit of vegan butter and using brown sugar instead of white, and a little butterscotch extract.  Or add some sweetened coconut flakes, substitute one cup of coconut milk and add some coconut extract.  Or substitute a bit of maple syrup and use maple extract.  Buttered rum, chocolate chips . . . let me know what you try!

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.

VEGAN SHEPHERDS PIE

Serves: about 6

INGREDIENTS
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.

DIRECTIONS
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.

Vegan Pigs in a Blanket

My girlfriend Piliki has been experimenting with vegan corn dogs for her grandchildren, but hasn’t been satisfied with the results yet.  I decided to try making Vegan Pigs in a Blanket, in hope that she would find them easier.  Of course, these are not exactly health food, but if you take into consideration the unspeakable animal products and chemicals in hot dogs (yes, even kosher ones), and all the preservatives in the store-bought buns, etc., you are still ahead of the game.  And these Smart Dogs have more protein, zero fat, zero cholesterol, and only 45 calories.  Once in a while, kids want to have what the other kids are having, and these would also be great for a Super Bowl football party or something.  So, I used Smart Dogs by LightLife and my own Vegan Pate Brisee dough.  You’ll want to make the dough a few hours ahead or the day before (so it can rest in the fridge), or pull it from the freezer.  It’s an easy and quick dough–once you make it, you’ll see.  And then you can pop one or both of the  single crusts into the freezer and just pull them out the night before.  These may seem like gourmet Pigs in a Blanket, and maybe they are due to the decadent French pastry crust.  I had to play around with the baking time, but it worked out perfectly and yielded a delicate bun with a flaky, buttery crust.  Be sure to serve with little pots of condiments, including different mustards, catsup and relish, chopped onions, etc.  Afternote:  Since posting this, I’ve learned that the Pillsbury Original Crescent Rolls are accidentally vegan, and those can be used in lieu of the pate brise dough.
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Vegan Pigs in a Blanket   or   Vegan Pigs in Blankets

Yield:  8 Pigs in a Blanket  (you can double this of course)

INGREDIENTS
one package of Smart Dogs
one Vegan Pate Brisee single crust (for 8 pieces)  (or Pillsbury Original Crescent Rolls)
Condiments for serving, including mustards, ketchup, chopped onions, sweet relish, etc.

DIRECTIONS
-At least 30 minutes before you begin, place one or two rolling pins in the freezer.
-Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
-Slice Smart Dogs in half the short way, so you’ll get two Pigs in a Blanket from each hot dog.
-Sprinkle a flat surface with flour, and take dough from refrigerator.
-Using one of your well-chilled rolling pins, roll out the dough on your floured surface.  Don’t be afraid to add more flour as you go, rolling and flipping the dough, no worries.
-With a butter knife, cut the dough into rectangles or squares and then cut those on the diagonal so you wind up with triangles of dough.  Immediately roll the little dogs up in the dough and place on baking sheet.  As you run out of dough, just improvise and use rectangles or whatever.
-You can re-roll the last little bit of dough if you use the other frozen rolling pin.  Otherwise, the dough scraps are  probably too warm to work with by now.
-Bake for 15 minutes.

Note:  You can briefly fry on medium heat some or all of your Smart Dogs in a teaspoon or two of Earth Balance and a sprinkle of sea salt–this will yield a slightly chewier dog.  Good but possibly not worth the effort.  We tried them both fried and un-fried, and liked both just as well.  The oven heat is high enough that it cooks the dog well, even if it is un-fried first.

Vegan Irish Soda Bread – With Spelt or Brown Rice Flours

These two vegan Irish Soda Breads are prettier, more delicious and healthier than the norm.  I took this to an Irish St. Patrick’s Day party and it was the best soda bread there, hands down, and I was asked by the Irish women for the recipe.   I developed this recipe two different ways;  a more traditional-looking one with all-purpose and spelt flours, and another version with all-purpose and brown-rice flours (see photo at bottom).  These are refined enough for a celebration, but still rustic enough to hold with tradition.  If you look at the bottom of the post for the photo of the brown-rice-flour version, you’ll see that it’s a pretty golden color.

Vegan Irish Soda Bread

INGREDIENTS
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
a bit of coarse corn meal to sprinkle the pan with
1-1/3 Cup all-purpose flour
1-1/3 Cup spelt flour (or brown rice flour)
5 tablespoons sugar, and set one teaspoon out of this sugar aside
1- 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks vegan butter, chilled.
1 cup cold soy milk (I prefer WestSoy unsweetened organic)
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or regular vinegar)
1/3 Cup golden raisins
1/3 Cup regular dark raisins
Plenty of bench flour (just extra flour to work with)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cut up butter into small (1/2″) pieces and put in freezer to chill.  Add vinegar to cold soy milk, stir and put back in refrigerator (this will thicken and is your vegan buttermilk).   Set raisins to soak in a cereal bowl, in a little water or juice.  Spray an 8-inch-diameter round cake pan with nonstick spray, and then sprinkle bottom of pan with coarse corn meal.

In large bowl, put flour, 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and dry whisk to blend.   Cut in cold vegan butter with a pastry cutter, until a coarse meal forms.   Make a well in center of flour mixture, add cold buttermilk and stir just until blended.   Drain raisins and then stir in the drained raisins, just until mixed.   Flour your counter generously.

Using floured hands, gently shape dough into a ball. Dough will be very sticky so add more bench flour as you shape the dough, several tablespoons if you have to, but know this is a pretty wet dough anyway.  Gently fold the dough ball over onto itself a few times. Transfer to prepared pan (seam side down) and flatten very slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan).   With an oiled knife, cut a cross into the top of the dough, and then sprinkle dough with remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Bake bread until golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.   Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Amish Vegan Baked Oatmeal

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

Serves 6 to 8

Note:  This recipe must be refrigerated overnight.

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

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

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

Vegan Welsh Rabbit – Vegan Welsh Rarebit

The first time I ever had Welsh Rarebit was in London at one of the restaurants in Fortnum and  Mason.  Obviously, I was not yet vegan.  My mother wanted to see the Crown Jewels, and I wanted to go to Fortnum and Mason.  We did both, and after lunch, we browsed through Hatchards Books, right next door–it was heaven.  Back to Welsh Rabbit;  the good news is that vegans can still have it, and it’s delicious.  My old Amy Vanderbilt cookbook (1961) lists this dish as Daisyfields Welsh Rabbit, under the section entitled “Use Your Chafing Dish.”  It calls for processed American cheese and a 12 oz. can of V-8.  No doubt, any Brits reading this are shuddering now.  I also recall that Fortnum and Mason served their Welsh Rarebit with a big slice of broiled tomato.  My old Joy of Cooking has at least four versions of rarebit; one calling for grilled tomatoes, and another, entitled  Tomato Rarebit or Woodchuck, calling for some sauteed onions, and a cup of condensed tomato soup being added to the melting cheese.  The most common denominators are a bit of cayenne and some type of mustard.  Thinning liquids include water, soup, milk (ugh) and any type of beer. I’m guessing we could substitute soy milk for the beer, but I haven’t tried it yet.  Please let me know if you do.  Either way, serving with tomato soup on the side is favored by many.  One last note is that I personally can’t think of any other vegan cheese (besides Daiya brand) that would really taste good here, but I could be wrong.
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Vegan Welsh Rarebit  or  Vegan Welsh Rabbit

Serves 3 to 4

INGREDIENTS
3/4 Cup beer
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon of tomato paste or 2 Tablespoons catsup (optional)
2 Cups Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
slices of bread, toasted and with crusts trimmed
tomato soup to serve on the side (optional)
pickled red onions to serve on top (optional)

DIRECTIONS
In a small double boiler over medium low heat, mix beer, mustard, cayenne, vegan Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste or catsup.
Add Daiya vegan cheese and stir constantly to make a smooth sauce.  You will find that you need to stir often and it takes at least 10-15 minutes to get the cheese sauce really smooth.
Toast your bread, remove crusts, and slice on the diagonal to make triangles.
Arrange toast points on plates and pour cheese sauce over bread.
If tomatoes are in season, you can grill them and add to the plate, or chop them and sprinkle over the rarebit.
Very nice to serve with tomato soup on the side.

Pickled Red Onions

These Pickled Red Onions are something I improvised years ago and we always have a jar in the fridge and we use them on everything.  They add oomph to just about anything calling for onions, you’ll see.

Pickled Red Onions

INGREDIENTS
1 red onion, sliced into 1/8 inch rounds (and some 1/4 inch too)
½ tsp fine sea salt
¾ C red wine vinegar
1 T agave syrup or 1T sugar
¼ tsp ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Separate the onion rings and put into jar.
Add all other ingredients and pour over the onions.
Toss and marinate for one hour in refrigerator.
These will keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator.

Use in sandwiches, on appetizers, in salads, on vegan hot dogs, and anything else you can think of.  I love these in various recipes on this site, including the Butter Bean CanapesFrench Red Potato Salad, Welsh Rarebit, vegan hot dogs, vegan grilled cheese, in the Excellent Bean Dip on this site, as a topping for chili, etc., etc.  Also, I mince these to use in place of shallots, with great results.

Note: I use a recycled jar with a plastic lid for these. Due to vinegar (high acid) content, I want a non-reactive lid, in case I choose to shake the jar once in a while. A re-purposed Vegenaise jar works perfectly.

Cranberry Cornbread Muffins

These fruited cornbread muffins are delicious with chili or soup, but are also fancy enough to grace the Thanksgiving table.  Drizzle them with a bit of Suzanne’s Just Like Honey Rice Nectar, and/or simply serve with a pat of Earth Balance vegan butter.  While you won’t taste the pinch of turmeric, it makes the muffins brighter in color.

CRANBERRY CORNBREAD MUFFINS

Makes 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/3 Cup brown rice flour (or use all-purpose again)
2/3 Cup yellow cornmeal (not coarse)
1/3 Cup sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 stick Earth Balance vegan butter, melted and then cooled
Ener-G Egg Replacer  (2 eggs worth) (3 teaspoons Ener-G powder mixed or frothedwith 4 Tablespoons of water)
1.5 Cups soy milk (I like whole organic unsweetened but any is fine)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
1/2 Cup dried cranberries
1/4 Cup golden raisins (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour soy milk into a tall glass, stir the vinegar into it, and set aside (it will now curdle into vegan buttermilk).   Generously grease muffin tin(s), and dust with flour, shaking off any excess.   In a large bowl, stir together flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and (optional) turmeric.   In a smaller bowl, stir together melted vegan butter, frothed egg replacer and vegan buttermilk, until well combined.   Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.   Fold in dried fruits.

Divide among 12 muffin-tin cups.   If using 2 six-muffin tins, bake them one at a time, for 25 to 26 minutes each, until tops are golden and just a hint of darkness appears at the edges (see photo below), and a tester comes out clean.   Cool in pan 5 minutes.
Run a butter knife around the muffins to loosen them and then invert the pan onto a cooling rack, or lift the muffins out with a teaspoon or the butter knife.   Let cool.
Serve with Suzanne’s Just Like Honey and/or Earth Balance butter.

Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms Laced with Madeira

Before I went vegan, I really liked the stuffed mushrooms at The Cheesecake Factory restaurant.  Since they’re  full of cheese, I knew I had to develop a recipe good enough so the addictive cheese would not be missed.  With the addition of rich walnuts and a nutty Medeira wine, we have success.  I had to make these three times before we were satisfied with the recipe, and ended up adding something each time.  They are buttery and rich, and every single time I serve them, they pull a fast disappearing act.  You can make the stuffing the day before and then put a guest to work washing and stuffing the mushrooms on the day of your meal.

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Vegan Walnut-Stuffed Mushrooms Laced With Madeira

INGREDIENTS
Two 8 oz. packages white button mushrooms
2 to 3 Tablespoons chopped raw walnuts
1 sleeve Ritz crackers (yes, they’re vegan), crushed fine
½ onion, chopped fine
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (such as safflower or canola oil)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon pepper (black or white)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed and minced
2 to 3 Tablespoons wine (optional) (Medeira has a nutty flavor that complements the walnuts here)
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance non-dairy butter
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar (if not using wine, add an extra Tablespoon of the balsamic) (I use Trader Joe’s balsamic)
2 Tablespoons Tofutti vegan cream cheese
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove stems from mushrooms, rinse well and set aside or freeze for some other use.
Wash mushroom caps with your fingers under running water,  and set in a colander to drain.
Chop walnuts, set aside.
Crush Ritz crackers finely in a large bowl with a potato masher.
Sauté onion in 1 Tablespoon oil, with salt and pepper, until soft.
At end of sauté, add crushed garlic and wine (optional) and walnuts, and sauté 2 to 3 minutes more.
Remove from heat and stir Earth Balance into onion mixture.
Mix balsamic vinegar, cream cheese and parsley into onion mixture.
Add onion mixture to the crackers, and mix gently but well.
Mixture should be moist.  If mixture is still dry, add a Tablespoon more wine or balsamic.
Spray baking dish lightly with oil or cooking spray.
Stuff each mushroom high with filling, and place in a shallow baking dish, in a single layer.  Pack the filling gently into the mushroom, so it is well-filled and firm (try not to split the mushroom caps if possible).
Also, fill the baking dish completely to the edges so the mushrooms don’t topple over.
You can cover and chill the mushrooms here, until you’re ready to bake them.
Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
Remove cover and bake 10-15 minutes longer until browned on top.
Mushrooms should be good and hot, and there should be a bit of sizzling liquid in the pan.
I like to serve these in the pan, as it keeps them hot longer.

Note:   You can make the filling the day before and keep it in the fridge, which really cuts down on prep time the day of.  Do not wash the actual mushrooms until the day you need them, however, as they are fragile and will begin to sort of break down a bit after washing.  These are excellent, no worries!

Vegan Twice Baked Stuffed Potatoes

IMG_3042     These vegan Twice-Baked Stuffed Potatoes are one of those classic things you can prepare the day before and even take somewhere (as long as you can use the oven at your destination).  I developed this potato one Thanksgiving when 30 people were coming for supper, and I knew the last-minute scramble before serving would be a nightmare if I had to mash potatoes too.  This is not the gloppy, cheddar-cheese-filled concoction of the 1990’s, but (while still rich) a lighter, creamier addition to the plate.  It’s forgiving, in that the final baking can be done in the oven alongside anything else, on almost any temperature, for varied lengths of time.  I like to use only onion, and some vegan sour cream to make the texture silky.  A perfect dusting of paprika is achieved when you put a bit in a very fine sieve and hold it high above the potatoes and tap gently with one finger.  Here, I did pipe the potatoes through a pastry bag, but these look strikingly rustic when you simply fork the whipped potatoes into their little jackets any which way.  You can also rake the fork over the top of the potatoes (like plowing a field) to make little ridges that will crisp, and little swales that will hold that pooling pat of Earth Balance vegan butter.  I leave the salt out of the recipe, because you can taste it better if you put a finishing sprinkle of sea salt at table.

VEGAN TWICE BAKED STUFFED POTATOES

Makes 8 generous servings, and they freeze well too.

INGREDIENTS
4 white baking potatoes,  such as Russets or Idaho
One white onion  (or yellow, or shallots)
4 Tablespoons vegan sour cream

DIRECTIONS
Wash potatoes well.    Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place potatoes directly on lower-middle oven rack, and bake 30 minutes.
Dice the onion fine, and place into a large mixing bowl.
When 30 minutes is up, pierce each potato (deeply) twice with a dinner fork, along one long sideIt’s important where you poke it, because when you slice the baked potatoes open to hollow out the jackets, you’ll run your knife along the horizontal fork perforations on the one long side.

Put pierced potatoes back into hot oven and bake 30 minutes more, and then remove all from the oven.    Let potatoes cool only slightly, maybe 15 minutes.
Measure out the vegan sour cream into the onions bowl (this will allow the sour cream to soften slightly while you do the rest).
Using a potholder or clean dish cloth to protect your hand, slice potatoes open the long way, along the fork holes.   Taking care to reserve the empty potato skins intact, scoop out the potato innards into the onions bowl.

Mix all with an electric mixer a minute or two, until a thick-but-creamy mixture is attained.    Determine here if you wish to add another tablespoon or two of the vegan sour cream, and complete mixing.    Pipe or stuff the whipped potatoes into the empty potato jackets.    Dust with paprika from on high, through a fine mesh sieve.
Cover and refrigerate until it’s time to do the second baking.
Put any extra, stuffed potato boats in the freezer (they freeze well).
When you’re ready to do the final baking, place stuffed potatoes in the oven on a baking dish, and heat to whatever temperature you are using for your main dish.  You’ll know when they’re done by their golden  appearance.  A guideline would be 35 minutes on 350, or 30 minutes at 400, etc.  No worries, just as long as they’re good and hot.
Don’t forget to serve with a pat of Earth Balance Organic Whipped Butter, and a sprinkling of fine sea salt.

Anna Karenina’s Vegan Russian Salad Dressing

If Vronsky is coming to supper, you MUST have a delicious Russian Salad Dressing,  nyet?  In my case, I simply wanted to make vegan Ruben sandwiches with homemade rye bread, and you can’t do that without a fine Russian salad dressing.  So I dug out my old Joy of Cooking (circa 1975) and found a recipe for Russian Dressing or Russian Mayonnaise.    JOC’s recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of caviar or salmon roe; which is both gross and ecologically irresponsible.  But I zeroed in on the grated onion and knew that was a key element.  I’m guessing this dressing is easily doubled;  just consider the salt, pepper and cayenne if you do so.
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Vegan Russian Salad Dressing

Makes enough for about four salads, or 6-8 sandwiches.

INGREDIENTS
½ Cup Vegenaise vegan mayo
1/3 Cup catsup (or bottled chili sauce)
1 to 2 rounded Tablespoon(s) of finely minced or grated raw onion (I prefer white onion for this)
1/16th tsp cayenne (or 1/4 tsp)
1 Tablespoon sweet relish
1 Tablespoon chopped capers
1/8 tsp fine sea salt (remember that the capers are salty)
1/8 tsp pepper  (I prefer white pepper)
1/4 tsp vegan horseradish (such as Kelchner’s Brand)

DIRECTIONS
Mix all and chill,  and prepare to fend off inappropriate advances from Vronsky.

Note: This is good on vegan Ruben sandwiches, and of course, on iceberg lettuce. Do not omit the onion. If you have fresh dill in the garden, you could very finely mince a half teaspoon of that and add it. This is my own recipe that I developed after looking in several  cookbooks.  The Joy of Cooking recipe also calls for the horseradish.  I’ve only found one vegan horseradish, a brand called Kelchner’s, made in Pennsylvania.  This can be tricky to find, but now I realize it is kept almost exclusively in the seafood department here.  On the main shelves, I could only find the creamed sauce horseradish blends.  Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Cookbook (circa 1961) calls for pimiento, chives and finely cut green pepper, all of which would be great too.  My recipe above is luscious as is, but I’m making these notes here so I’ll feel free to add things in future if I have them on hand.  You can use my recipe as a base and improvise!

Polenta with Butternut Squash

This is a polenta you can make ahead and keep warm for a few hours before the meal is served!  I adapted this from a recipe on epicurious.com,   veganized it, added a few things, changed a quantity or two.  It’s delicious, and it’s something different from the tasteless squares of polenta I’ve had at upscale restaurants.  Please note that this polenta does NOT harden, due to the addition of squash, which is part of its brilliance.  It’s almost a creamy pudding that you ladle onto your plate, or serve in a little bowl as a side dish.  We like it on top of homemade red sauce with spaghetti and vegan meatballs, etc.  I made it once with almond milk and it was too sweet,  so stick with no-sugar-added plant milks.  There has been much talk in recent years about the fact that polenta is not cooked long enough, and the supposedly-big difference between instant polenta and slow-cooked.  In the book “Heat” author Bill Buford explains a way to cook the polenta for three hours without constant stirring.  I have the book on hold at the library, but haven’t received it yet.   No worries, this polenta cooks way quicker than that!  The photo here does not really do this dish justice;  it’s a rich golden color and very pretty on any plate where you would normally have polenta.   My friend Jan, who is a phenomenal cook, gave this a thumbs up.
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Vegan Polenta with Butternut Squash

Makes 6-8 side-dish servings

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium onion)
4 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter, divided in half
1 (10-12 -oz.) package frozen butternut squash purée (sometimes called winter squash; 1.5 cups), thawed (or you can use freshly baked butternut squash, of course)  (in a pinch, you could also use a 15 oz. can of organic butternut squash, but I prefer frozen, if not fresh)
1 tsp brown sugar (no more)
¼ tsp ground cinnamon (no more)
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups soy milk or hemp milk or oat milk (not almond) (use a plant milk with no sugar added if possible) (I use plain, unsweetened soy milk)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup real corn grits (polenta), such as Bob’s Red Mill brand (not instant)

DIRECTIONS
Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until very soft, about 8 minutes.
Stir in squash and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes.
Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon.
In a 4 quart heavy pot, bring water, milk, salt, and pepper to a boil.
Add polenta in a thin stream, whisking.
Cook polenta at a simmer, stirring often with a long-handled whisk and turning down heat as needed to prevent spattering, 20 minutes.
Add squash mixture and cook 10 to 15 minutes more.
Remove from heat, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons vegan butter.
Serve immediately, or cover and keep in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven for up to two hours.

Notes: The polenta will still be soft and creamy the next day, due to the addition of the squash. If this is your first experience with polenta, usually you must serve it immediately or it will harden into a cake.  Warning, I made it with almond milk one time, and it was too sweet.

Vegan Buttermilk Ranch Salad Dressing

Buttermilk Ranch Salad Dressing sounds like the antithesis of vegan, right?  Not anymore, now that we’ve discovered Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Base from Penzeys Spices.  Despite its name, it’s totally vegan and made from all natural herbs and spices–it’s freaking genius.  And even though I veganized this  favorite American recipe, it still tastes like the old classic.  I can just imagine this on heirloom tomatoes next summer,  as a dip for crudites, or on crisp cold wedges of iceberg lettuce with some vegan bacon crumbles.
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Vegan Buttermilk Ranch Salad Dressing

Makes enough for at least six salads.

INGREDIENTS
1 Tablespoon Penzeys Spices Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Base
1 Tablespoon water
3 Tablespoons full-fat plant milk (such as soy, almond, oat, hemp, rice, etc.)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (this gives a good tang too)
1/2 C Vegenaise (I like the one with the green lid)
If you decide you want this dressing thicker, add 2 or 3 tablespoons more of the Vegenaise vegan mayo.

DIRECTIONS
-Mix the Penzeys Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Base with the water, and let stand 5 minutes.
-In a separate bowl mix the plant milk with the vinegar, and let stand 5 minutes to curdle (this is your buttermilk).
-Mix the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing and water mixture into the plant milk and vinegar mixture.
-Mix in the Vegenaise.  Stir well, or froth with a cafe latte frother.
-Cover and chill well in the refrigerator.
-Shake or stir before using.
-Keeps one week.

(I really do use the latte frother for anything like salad dressings or egg replacers it’s amazing how much volume you get, and how much more incorporated things can be)

Trader Joe’s Dark Morello Cherries in Light Syrup

I bought these Trader Joe’s Morello Cherries on a whim and then when I looked around online, I noticed people were confused as to what to do with them.  As you can see, I made a lattice-crust pie, but what I learned is that this 24.7 ounce jar holds a somewhat scant amount for a pie.  In other words, to do a generously filled pie, you’d probably want a few more cherries than this jar holds.  However, it’s kind of the perfect amount of cherries for an open faced tart.  And so, that’s my suggestion, and that is what I’ll do with a jar of these in future.  An open-face tart would also allow a single crust and you could freeze that second crust for future.  I love to cook once and use twice, it’s a lifesaver.  But as I was bumbling along here, I pored over several cookbooks and came up with a filling that is delicious.  One thing you should know is that the Morello cherry is classified as a sour cherry;  perfect for pies, tarts and cakes, where the sugar in those recipes will balance the acidity of this particular cherry.  I consulted several different cookbooks (like five) and put together a filling.  Alice Waters had a “tart and pie dough” crust that I veganized, and it came out lovely, and I have now posted that separately under Pastry.   Alice also suggests adding kirsch (a clear cherry flavored brandy) to the filling, so I did.  My vintage Amy Vanderbilt cookbook suggested adding almond flavoring, so I did that too.  I read up on techniques, such as adding a tiny dot of butter between the lattices of a crust, to stop the cherries from burning on top, that kind of thing.  So here below is my filling, but I’ll be doing a tart next time, if using this product.  However, this pie was delicious.  p.s.  Both Lars and I bit into cherry pits, so be careful!!!  It might be worth it to run a thin skewer through each cherry and make sure there are no pits.  The jar label does warn of pits, but I didn’t see it until it was too late.  Luckily, no teeth were broken.
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Trader Joe’s Morello Cherry Tart Filling

Makes approximate 8 pieces.

INGREDIENTS
one jar of Trader Joe’s Dark Morello Cherries (24.7 oz.)
1 Cup sugar (this is less than called for in other recipes)
2 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup of the cherry juice from the jar
1 teaspoon of kirsch (clear cherry brandy also called Kirschwasser) (optional)
1/4 teaspoon of almond flavoring
1 Tablespoon of Earth Balance vegan butter

DIRECTIONS
-Have your tart dough in your pie pan and chilling in the fridge.
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Mix sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
-Drain one third cup of cherry juice from the jar and add to the flour mixture, and stir to combine.
-Add almond flavoring to flour mixture and stir.
-Also add kirsch to the flour mixture (optional) and stir.
-Drain cherries fully and set aside.  Discard the rest of the cherry juice or use it for something else.
Run a thin, metal skewer through each cherry to remove any pits (there will be a few and it’s better than breaking a tooth).
-Pour sugar/flour/juice mixture over cherries and mix gently.
-Fill your chilled tart dough shell with the cherry mixture, and dot cherries with little pieces of the tablespoon of butter before baking.
-Bake tart according to your tart-dough recipe instructions, or see my posting for tart dough under Pastry.

Macadamia Nut Shortbread

If you’ve never lived in Hawaii, you might not know that the locals LOVE shortbread.  For instance, my friend Velma just emailed me that, for a fundraising effort, the Hilo High School soccer booster parents and soccer girls recently baked 1400-dozen shortbread cookies.  The cookies were bagged and sold for $6 a dozen, raising in the vicinity of $8,000, which will be used for activities such as travel to tournaments, and purchasing necessary items for the team’s use.  In short (ha ha), shortbread is ono (delicious).  Velma’s email reminded me that I’d seen a shortbread being made on a segment about the Big Island last year.  Here’s a good video on just a few of the amazing foods of my beloved Big Island.  About 17 minutes into this video, you can see a Macadamia Nut Shortbread being prepared by a member of Gourmet.  Of course, shortbread is traditionally made with cow fat and loaded with cholesterol, so I had to veganize it.  Earth Balance vegan butter saved the day, and produced a rich, buttery shortbread that we would describe in the Islands as “broke da mouth.”  I made this twice, and didn’t care for it as much the first time, so then I changed several other things to suit my own taste, including reducing the chocolate by half, and using vegan chocolate chips, which are simply real chocolate without the animal secretions.  When you have good macadamia nuts, you don’t need a boatload of chocolate.  One last note is that I was so lucky that my Aunt Pat mailed me a bag of the most amazing macadamia nuts I’ve ever tasted.  They’re from Kuni-Maru Farms in Captain Cook, Hawaii.  They’re large and buttery and incredibly fresh.  They also do sun-dried mac nuts, something I’d never heard of.  Terry Mariyama told me they sun dry them for about a week.  Their roasted nuts are lightly salted, and that’s what I used (as opposed to the strong dry-roasted nuts the original recipe called for).  With my changes, this shortbread became not only violence-free but also sublime.  p.s.  I recommend using a small scale to weigh the nuts before chopping, but it’s not critical.
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Vegan Macadamia Nut Shortbread 

MAKES 16 WEDGES 

• ACTIVE TIME: 20 MIN
• START TO FINISH:1 1/2 HR

INGREDIENTS
6 oz roasted and lightly salted macadamia nuts (1 1/2 cups)
2 sticks Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, softened to room temperature 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (or you can use brown sugar)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 oz vegan chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
-Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle or lower middle.
-Toast nuts in a 4-sided sheet pan in oven until golden, 8 to 10 minutes, then cool and coarsely chop.  Mac nuts are easy to chop by hand, being somewhat soft.
-Leave oven on.
-Stir together butter, sugars, vanilla, and salt in a bowl with a wooden spoon until combined well.
-Stir in flour, nuts, and chocolate chips until a soft dough forms.
-With floured fingers, pat dough into a 9-inch shiny metal cake pan (not a dark colored pan).
-Score into 16 wedges with tip of a thin, floured knife, wiping and flouring blade in between cuts.
-Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.  In my electric oven, I went for 27 minutes, and brought them to a slightly darker golden color.  This is because my first batch was too soft, not cooked enough.
-Cool on baking sheet 10 minutes.
-Cut into wedges (while still warm) with a sharp knife.
-Transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Vegan Rotel Queso Dip

I once met a girl from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who told me you could not have a party without Rotel dip.  She was horrified when I asked, “What’s Rotel dip?”  So she made it for me, and I was shocked to see there was Velveeta in such an apparently popular party food.  But there it was, and it tasted good.  So, I decided to give it a vegan whirl.  And guess what?  It was really good!  This would be a killer snack for Super Bowl parties and what have you.  No other vegan cheese would do but Daiya brand, and I decided to mix up the mozzarella and cheddar flavors to get the color and taste that might approximate Velveeta, and also added some beer to thin it out and keep it “open” and give it a bit of live culture, like bad cheese would have.  These little successes keep me going and I hope you like them too.

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Vegan Rotel Dip     or     Vegan Queso Dip

INGREDIENTS
one 10 oz. can of Rotel Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
4 oz. Daiya mozzarella cheese
4 oz. Daiya cheddar cheese
1 bottle of Corona beer (or some other beer)

DIRECTIONS
Put Rotel and cheeses in a saucepan, on medium-low heat.
Add 1/2 Cup of the beer and stir with a wooden spoon.
As it heats up, add another 1/4 Cup of the beer if necessary.
Stir often until bubbly.
Keep warm in a chafing dish or on the stove, on lowest heat.
You can add a Tablespoon (or two) more beer as time passes, and stir occasionally.

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.

VEGAN TOURTIERE  or  VEGAN PORK PIE

Yields 8 servings

INGREDIENTS
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

DIRECTIONS
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).

IMG_2171

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 Swedish Sweet and Sour Meatballs

My parents used to make a version of these for their family gatherings back in the 1970’s, so now it’s a real retro party dish.  I remember sitting around my Dad’s homemade sawbuck table with my sister and my Mom, rolling these petite meatballs.  I pulled up Mom’s old recipe, wondering if I could successfully veganize it.  Enter Gimme Lean “sausage” and “ground beef” vegan meats.  This is the same product I used for the delicious vegan meatloaf I recently created.  The Gimme Lean label says they do NOT use soybeans that were produced using biotechnology.  Because this vegan meat does not have fat and cholesterol, I modified the original recipe,  to give more taste and flavor and make the sausage mix a bit moister.  And wow, they’re just great!  The slight crunch of the toasted slivered almonds, and the blend of the sweet and the sour.  On the one hand, it was so NICE not to have to disinfect the kitchen after making these.  On the other hand, I had to get out my big KitchenAid mixer in order to get everything incorporated well.  These vegan ground meats are stiffer and harder to mix than the bad meats.  I think it would have been slightly difficult even with my hands.  I used the flat beater attachment.  An added thought is that these products are stamped “pareve” (par-uh-va) and so are very useful for those wanting to prepare Kosher dishes.  So with a lot of holiday spirit, here is the recipe:
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Vegan Swedish Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Makes approx. 70 to 75 meatballs

INGREDIENTS
1 pkg. Gimme Lean sausage style
1 pkg. Gimme Lean ground beef style
½ C slivered almonds  (or a bit more, if you like)
½ C dry bread crumbs (plain)
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced,  or pressed
Ener-G egg replacer, to equal 2 eggs, frothed
3 Tablespoons Tamari sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos
¼ tsp of Tabasco
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1/16th tsp (a dash) of nutmeg
One inch of peanut oil  (enough to fry meatballs in a medium sized  saucepan)
A cup or so of cornstarch, for coating
Toothpicks for serving

DIRECTIONS
In a medium saucepan, heat peanut oil, on medium heat.
In a small skillet, put almonds with one tablespoon of Earth Balance vegan butter, on medium heat and brown on medium low heat, stirring occasionally (don’t burn).  Remove from heat and sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt.

Thoroughly combine all above ingredients, including browned almonds. (a strong mixer, such as a Kitchen Aid, does help in this process)

Scooping with a teaspoon, form into small balls about the diameter of a quarter coin (approx. 1 inch), no larger!

Roll balls in cornstarch, gently brush off excess corn starch, and fry in oil for approx. seven minutes, turning after 4 minutes.

Drain on paper towels.  There will be a flaky white coating of cornstarch here and there.  Do not worry about this.  Once the meatballs are added to the sauce, these cornstarch flakes will melt and add to the thickening of the sauce.

IF making ahead, cool and drain and freeze meatballs here.

See below for sauce recipe.
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SAUCE

INGREDIENTS
1 large can (at least 20 ounces) pineapple chunks, drained
1 C pineapple juice
2 C apple-cider vinegar
½ C tamari sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos
1.5 C brown sugar
4 T cornstarch

DIRECTIONS
-In a small to medium sized stock pot, mix pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar.
-Mix cornstarch into a bit of pineapple juice and stir into a smooth slurry, and then add to the stock pot.
-Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat for 15 minutes.
-Sauce is done when it visibly darkens and thickens (you will know).
-Add meatballs and pineapple chunks, and serve in chafing dish.

TipsI bought the small Dole brand six-pack of pineapple juice, which is not from concentrate.  This way, I didn’t have to open a big bottle for just one cup of juice.
Also, if you have leftovers and you go to reheat, the sauce will be a bit clumpy.  Just pour in one of the six-ounce cans of pineapple juice when you re-heat, and whisk or stir, and it will smooth out the sauce again.
Lastly, if you’re buying good pineapple in its own juice, you can use that can juice instead of opening one of the smaller cans.  Just drain it into a one-cup measure to make sure there’s enough of the can juice to equal the one cup called for.
p.s.  Pineapple is high on the list of the “Clean Fifteen” so it’s more OK to buy the standard supermarket brands that are (sadly) not organic.
My mother made a note on her recipe that she sometimes substituted wine vinegar, but the flavor of these is what I remember; that fruity acidic pineapple with the almost-alcoholic aromatic tang of the apple cider vinegar in the original recipe.

So, this is what the meatballs will look like immediately after frying, with some fried cornstarch still clinging to them.  You can freeze the meatballs at this point.  Don’t worry about how they look, as the bits of cornstarch will help thicken the sauce in the final stage of preparation.

Spiced Ginger Cashews

I made these this afternoon to take to a Christmas party, and they’re quick, easy and really good.  The original recipe calls for an egg white, but once again Ener-G egg replacer saved the day!  I also eliminated the extra sugar and the fresh ginger.  This is spicy enough and it just takes the ho-hum salty nuts and kicks them up a notch.  Perfect for a party.
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VEGAN SPICED GINGER CASHEWS

Makes 2 cups

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarse salt  (use any nice coarse salt you like)
3/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Ener-G egg replacer to equal one egg
one 9.75 oz. can of Planters cashews (about 2 cups of nuts)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Stir together sugar, coarse salt, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.

Froth with a latte frother (or whisk) 1.5 teaspoons of Ener-G Egg Replacer with 2 Tablespoons of water together in a glass until very frothy.
Stir roasted cashews into Ener-G egg replacer and toss to coat.

Sprinkle sugar-and-spice mixture over nuts, and stir to coat. Arrange nuts in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake, 15 minutes and stir.
Bake another 15 minutes and stir.
Bake final 15 minutes, and remove from oven (for a total of 45 minutes).
Mixture will seem glue-y but don’t worry, it will dry and crisp up as it cools.
Once cool, separate any stuck together clumps, and put in a pretty bowl.
Voila!    p.s.  An added tip is that if you’re bringing these to a party, you can transport them in their original can, and just ask the host(s) to provide a bowl for them.

Vegan Meatloaf – Hilo Style

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

Vegan Meatloaf – Hilo Style

Serves 6 to 8

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

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

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

  Bottom layer topped with olives.

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

Amanda’s Vegan Biscotti

I make biscotti every year during the holidays, and people always want the recipe.  Back around 1995, I was given some homemade biscotti and it was a revelation.  I had always shunned biscotti because the only kind I had ever tried was from coffee shops; hard and sawdusty and sometimes possibly even stale.  My friend could not reveal the recipe because she planned to market the biscotti.  So I cobbled together some recipes from cookbooks and made several batches of my own, and in the end, I couldn’t really tell the difference between hers and mine.  This is my first vegan holiday season and so I pulled out my old recipe and set about veganizing it.  I had to change cooking times and amounts, and during the baking process, the dough didn’t feel or look quite the same as my old familiar.  But, Lo and behold, we have our own little Christmas miracle; a good vegan biscotti.  Rustic and golden and simultaneously crumbly, crunchy and tender.  Lars was out at a meeting of the Hysterical Society, so I was alone and felt free to scream “YES” in my little kitchen (although I think I scared my dog Ipo).  I should also tell you that I first tried looking around online for vegan biscotti recipes, but they all seemed a bit mediocre.  I drifted off to sleep that night, dreaming up other flavor profiles, such as:
-white chocolate, coconut and toasted almonds
-white chocolate, apricots and slivered almonds
-white chocolate, cranberries and pistachios
-white chocolate, dried pineapple and macadamia nuts
-chocolate chocolate chips and hazelnuts
-chocolate chocolate chips and dried cherries
-chocolate chocolate chips, almonds and coconut
etc., etc.

One final note is that I had to order my dairy-free white chocolate chips online, from Pangea.  The dairy-free chocolate chocolate chips, however, are readily available at most health food stores.  The vanilla beans can be found in the bulk section of your health food store, for much less than the jarred beans.  Here below is my new recipe, the first time out, and with a few minor adjustments for the next time.  For example, I forgot that they harden a bit as they sit, and so I reduced the cooking time slightly here below.  Also, I felt my old recipe was a little too heavy on the chocolate, so I reduced it to 1/3 Cup below.
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Amanda’s Vegan Biscotti

INGREDIENTS
2 ¼ cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
Ener-G Egg Replacer to the equivalent of 3 eggs (I use a latte frother)
2 T vegetable oil (I used macadamia nut oil but canola is fine)
1 tsp good vanilla extract
Seeds from one vanilla bean (slit the long way and seeds scraped out with a spoon (not a knife)
1/2 C macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped (I like Kuni-Maru Farms mac nuts from Captain Cook, Hawaii)
1/3 C vegan white chocolate chips
1/4 C candied ginger, diced very fine (if using something milder than candied ginger, use one half cup of other dried fruits, such as apricots)

DIRECTIONS
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
Chop nuts. Dice ginger.  Add these into a small bowl with the chocolate chips and stir a few times to get them evenly mixed up.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, and then whisk these dry ingredients.
Put Ener-G in a glass and mix well with a fork, or froth with a latte frother. You could also use one single beater of a hand-held electric beater, in the glass.  For three “eggs” worth, you need 6 Tablespoons of water and 1 Tablespoon plus 1.5 teaspoons of Ener-G powder.
In a small dish, add oil and liquid vanilla.  Slit vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into oil/vanilla mixture and stir with a fork.
Add oil/vanilla mixture to dough.
Add Ener-G mixture to dough.
Stir in nuts, white chocolate and ginger.
Dough will not be wet or sticky.  With your hands, form dough into a cylinder and then cut it in half the long way.  Shape dough right on the counter into 2 flat bottomed cylinders measuring approximately 9 inches long, 3 inches wide and 1 inch high.
Place dough on greased cookie sheet, or parchment paper or Silpat.

Bake for 25 minutes or until very lightly golden on top.
Remove from oven and cool slightly, maybe five minutes.
Remove cylinders carefully from cookie sheet and place on a larger cutting board.
Cut diagonally into ¾ inch slices.
Place slices, cut-side-down, on the parchment paper/cookie sheet. Return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until sides are golden.  Don’t overcook because they will harden as they cool.
I usually remove the 4 or 5 smallest biscotti ends early as they tend to get a bit too hard with the full cooking time.
Cool completely on wire rack, transfer to an airtight container.

If you want to substitute dried apricots, pour boiling water over them and wait five minutes, then dice.  See additional flavor profiles above.  Please also note that I have a non-convection electric oven that is pretty accurate temperature-wise.  If you have a gas oven that tends to run hotter than electric, you’ll need to adjust temperature or cooking times.  Please see below for photos that will show doneness and texture.


Makes approximately 20-24

This photo shows the biscotti logs after the first baking.  You can see they are starting to just turn golden.  See next photo below to see the cut edges and varying degrees of doneness at that point, before 2nd baking.

Edamame Scented with Star Anise – Hawaiian Style

I was caught short for dinner last night, so I made agedashi tofu and Trader Joe’s Vegetable Bird’s Nests, and of course this special edamame.  This Anise-Scented Edamame is something I first had at my Uncle Stanley’s house in Hilo, back in the ’90s.  I can’t remember who made it, but I was instantly taken with this twist on traditional edamame.  It’s an easy, protein-packed delicious snack or side dish.  I received no written recipe, but was told to just add the anise pods to the boiling water.  I always use my Uncle Stanley’s seasoned Hawaiian salt recipe, the way the locals do, but I’m sure you could use plain sea salt, maybe even some fleur de sel, or Maldon salt, etc.  As a reference, seasoned Hawaiian sea salt will sometimes have ginger, cracked black pepper and garlic in it.  Yes, there is the sodium, but potato chips have sodium too, and the way you eat edamame, some of the salt gets left on the pods.  The anise adds this faint floral note and it just brings me back.  Sometimes you have to tell those who are not familiar with edamame how to eat them.  I’ve actually seen people put the star anise into their mouths, or try to chew the edamame pod.  If you already know how to eat edamame, ignore this next part.  First, look at the soy bean pod, and you’ll notice a very thin string that runs along the outward curve of the pod.  If you start at the stem, you could peel this string off, like a string bean, however, you don’t need to.  This string simply shows you where the edamame soy beans will pop easiest out of the pod, and this is the side you want to put to your mouth.  You hold the stem end between the thumb and forefinger of one hand, and gently squeeze the pod with your teeth so that the edamame beans pop into your mouth.  In the process, you will taste the salt crystals and spices clinging to the pod.
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Edamame Scented with Star Anise – Hawaiian Style

INGREDIENTS
10 oz. bag of frozen soybeans (I sometimes use Cascadian Farm organic)
12 star anise (or more or less,  to your taste)
1 teaspoon seasoned Hawaiian salt  (or 1/2 teaspoon)

DIRECTIONS
Bring water to boil.
Add frozen soybeans, and the anise stars.
Bring back to a boil.
Boil 5-15 minutes, depending upon your taste.
Test for tenderness along the way.  The soy beans should be tender but not mushy.
Drain well, reserving the anise stars on the side, or in the pot.
Toss with seasoned Hawaiian salt, or other sea salt.
Garnish with the reserved anise stars and serve.
Feel free to let them sit out for hours on a buffet, they just seem to get better.
Or chill in fridge for up 4 days.
Note:  (three ten ounce bags is plenty for finger food for 15 people if you have other things to eat).  p.s.  Dictionary.com says it’s pronounced an-is, not ann-eese.

Vegan Herbed Cream Cheese Spread

This is a takeoff of a Daniel Boulud recipe.  A simple, elegant little spread for crackers and I was thinking it would be fabulous on tiny cucumber sandwiches, such as for a formal tea.  You could fancy it up for canapes; spread it on crostini, the possibilities are many.  You can make this a  day ahead, and it tastes even better the next day.  At Thanksgiving in Maryland, we still have lots of herbs in the garden; flat-leaf parsley and chives among them, so it’s a nice thing to do!

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Vegan Herbed Cream Cheese Spread

INGREDIENTS
8 oz. container of Tofutti cream cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
3 tsp fresh chives, minced finely
2 tsp flat-leaf parsley, minced finely
1/2 tsp fresh French tarragon, minced finely (optional)
1 T olive oil
3 tsp Sherry or sherry vinegar

DIRECTIONS
Bring vegan cream cheese almost to room temperature.
Mix all.
Spray a round cereal bowl or other small round bowl with olive oil.
Pack cream cheese mixture into this bowl.
Cover and chill for a few hours.
Remove from fridge, run knife around edge and upturn onto a plate.
Smooth surface of cream cheese with back of a spoon.
Garnish with a sprig of the flat-leaf parsley or a chive or two.
Surround cream cheese with crackers.
Enjoy!

Kale Quinoa Salad with Spiced Lime Vinaigrette

This salad is so delicious and pretty and healthy; packed with fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, etc.  Kale is lower in oxalates than spinach, making the calcium it supplies easily absorbed.  Kale is one of the Dirty Dozen, so it’s important to buy organic.  Of course, the vinaigrette could be used on lots of other salads or even cold steamed vegetables, such as beets or green beans, etc.  And it’s flexible; you can use whatever vinegars or whatever you have in the house.  However, I think the spices and ingredients lend themselves to paler vinegars, as opposed to dark heavy ones.  To save time, I toasted the almonds and made the dressing the day before.  I washed and spun the kale, and made the quinoa in the morning, and it was a snap come dinner time; I just had to do the chiffonade.  p.s.  Keep in mind that you will only use 6 tablespoons or so of the vinaigrette, for two people.  You will have leftovers if only making salad for two people.  I’ll just make more salad tomorrow, and use any leftover kale in the juicer.
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Kale Quinoa Salad with Spiced Lime Vinaigrette

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
1/4 C of dried cherries, chopped coarsely, rehydrated with water for 15 minutes, and then drained.
3 cups chiffonaded fresh, raw organic kale, rinsed, spun-dry and chilled
1 C cooked quinoa, chilled or room temperature
1 or 2 ounces of sliced almonds, toasted

For the Vinaigrette:
juice of one lime
3 T sherry wine vinegar
2 tsps fig-infused white balsamic vinegar, such as Alessi brand (inexpensive and available in my local grocery stores) (or any white balsamic)
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C canola oil
1/2 tsp fine sea salt (or 1/4 tsp, to taste)
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp curry powder

Whisk vinegars together in a medium bowl.
Slowly whisk in each of the oils.
Whisk or froth in all seasonings and spices.
Chill in a glass jar.
When you remove it from the fridge, whisk or froth again, and it will hold together better once chilled.

Toast sliced almonds under the broiler for a few minutes (watch closely).

Plunge organic raw kale in cold water and swish, and let drain.  If you have a salad spinner, spin it dry.  Dressing will cling a bit better if it’s dryYou can also put the kale in a clean cotton pillow case and swing it dry.

To chiffonade the kale, cut the thicker parts of the ribs out of kale with a sharp knife.  Then stack and roll kale leaves and slice thinly, so you wind up with thin ribbons of kale.

Note:  I think dried cranberries would also be good in this.

Chat Masala Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

So I had these pumpkin seeds left after cooking a pie pumpkin but I hadn’t roasted pumpkin seeds in years.  I’m sorry to say we didn’t save our pumpkin seeds when we carved our Halloween jack-o-lantern this year.  If I had tasted these Chat Masala Pumpkin Seeds before we carved the pumpkin, we would have saved the seeds.  The word “chat” (also spelled chaat) in modern-day Hindi means snack, derived from the word chatna, which means tasting.  I ordered my Chat Masala online (see photo at bottom) and it was not expensive.  Chat Masala is a very popular spice blend in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, and sweet fresh fruit can also be dipped into a little dish of Chat Masala.  This makes sense to me, since I remember that as kids we would sometimes sprinkle salt on fresh watermelon, or crisp apples, or make our pickled mangoes extra salty by marinating them in shoyu.  We’d bring the long slices of green mango to high school in recycled glass mayonnaise jars, floating in Kikkoman soy sauce.  And then of course, we would “share share.”  We’d also eat Li Hing Mui or crack seed and it was incredibly salty.  My girlfriend Shandra, when she was pregnant, would even take a salt-encrusted dried plum and press it into into the center of a lemon half and suck the seed and the lemon juice simultaneously.  My mouth would pucker just to see her and I would involuntarily shudder.  But no worries, these Chat Masala pumpkin seeds are baby food compared to that.   So I looked around online and hybridized a couple of cooking times and amounts and then added my own spices and some lime juice.  I was a bit worried when I smelled the Chat Masala, that the end result would be too pungent, but the baking with the vegan butter and lime juice mellows them out and they are zingily delicious.  They would be perfect before an Indian-inspired meal, or with a cold glass of something, or a hot cup of plain tea.  Make sure to share them with someone.  p.s.  Here’s my super-easy method for baking a pie pumpkin.
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Chat Masala Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup raw pumpkin seeds, stringy stuff removed
I did not rinse or dry my pumpkin seeds, feeling that the minute bits of pumpkin flesh on them would only add flavor and give the spices something to cling to.
2 tsps melted Earth Balance vegan butter.
1 tsp Chat Masala ground spice blend
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt (I like sea salt)
2 tsps fresh lime juice

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a medium bowl, melt Earth Balance vegan butter.
Add spices and lime juice to melted butter and stir with fork to blend.
Add pumpkin seeds to butter and spices and stir to coat seeds.
Spread on rimmed baking sheet.
Bake 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and stir seeds all around.
Return to oven and bake 15 more minutes.
Cool and enjoy, or store in a covered glass jar.

Easy Baked Pumpkin – Sugar Pie Pumpkin

You know those big pumpkins we turn into jack-o-lanterns?  Well, those are not the best pumpkins for baking and eating, as it turns out.  These cute little pumpkins are smaller than the large ones, and they’re called Pie Pumpkins, or Sugar Pie Pumpkins, or Baking Pumpkins, etc.  I found that even at my local grocery stores, produce clerks were not sure of the difference.  Supposedly, one pound of Sugar Pie Pumpkin equals one cup of pumpkin puree, and the puree is usually what you bake with, make soups with, etc.  I took a photo here with a coffee mug so you can see the approximate size of this very-small Sugar Pie Pumpkin, and of course, they can be larger or sometimes even smaller.  I got exactly 2 cups of cooked flesh out of this little pumpkin, but many bigger Sugar Pie Pumpkins will yield at least 4 Cups (one quart) of cooked flesh.  Here below is my super-easy method of cooking a raw pumpkin.

EASY BAKED PUMPKIN

DIRECTIONS
Use a pumpkin big enough for your recipe.  One pound of Sugar Pie Pumpkin will equal one cup of pumpkin puree.  So if you need two cups of pumpkin puree, buy a two-pound Baking pumpkin.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put Sugar Pie Pumpkin in a baking dish or casserole, in one half inch of water.  Note, I do not cover with any foil or anything, and it works just great.

Bake for 30 minutes, and then pierce the pumpkin in several places with a sturdy, sharp knife.  Doing this will prevent the pumpkin from popping or exploding in the oven.

Bake 45-60 minutes more, until tender to the touch.

Cool and scoop out the innards, setting seeds and stringy matter aside (do not discard if you want to roast the seeds).  An ice cream scoop may come in handy here, but a large metal spoon is fine too.

Scoop out good flesh down to the skin, and process in a food processor.   If you don’t have a food processor, you can mash the pumpkin meat with a potato masher until it’s really broken down, or leave a few chunks and mash for soups, as desired.  I found a blender did not work well because we are not adding any liquid.

Freeze in one-cup portions.

These are less watery and stringy than ordinary jack o’ lantern pumpkins, and sweeter and meatier.  See photo below, so you can see that the flesh can be light golden instead of the dark russet color of canned pumpkin.  Every fresh pumpkin is different so the color of the flesh will vary.  Also, it can be smoother or as stringy as this.  I could have baked this a bit longer, but I figure it’s going to get pureed and cooked in a dish anyway.

    This photo is after baking but before pureeing.

Don’t throw away those pumpkin seeds!  Once separated from the stringy guts, rinse them (optional), pat them dry (optional) and toss them with 2 tsps melted Earth Balance, and the spices of your choice, or just a pinch of salt and bake them in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes.  Stir them around on the baking sheet and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Pumpkin seeds are nutritious, with plenty of potassium and magnesium and some zinc, folate and iron too.  See my recipe for Chat Masala Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

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.
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Vegan Stroganoff

Serves about 6

INGREDIENTS
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.

Thousand Island Salad Dressing

    So popular in 1950’s America, Thousand Island Dressing has made a comeback in the ensuing decades.  Here’s a simple version that takes 5 minutes or less to whip up.  Make it ahead of time though, so you can served it chilled on crisp, cold wedges of iceberg lettuce.
Vegan Thousand Island Dressing

INGREDIENTS
1 C vegan mayonnaise, such as Vegenaise brand
½ C organic ketchup
1 T sweet relish
2 t dill relish
1 t mustard
¼ tsp Buttermilk Ranch dressing base (from Penzey’s, it’s vegan)

DIRECTIONS

Mix all and chill.
Makes at least 2-4 servings.
Note: If you don’t have the Penzey’s seasoning, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of onion powder, etc.   Optional:  you could also add 1/8 tsp cayenne and one teaspoon of minced capers, but it’s great as is too.

Santa Fe Wrap Sandwiches

Now that fresh corn is in abundance, it’s time to break out this recipe.  I created it after eating a wrap of the same name at The Lily Pad Cafe, in Denton, MD.   They are not a vegan restaurant, but will work with you, and they’re right near a couple of great antique shops.  Here’s my take on it:

SANTA FE WRAP SANDWICHES

INGREDIENTS
Large tortilla wraps (larger than medium size if you can get them)
(or pita pockets are also good)
1 or 2 ripe avocados
Juice of one small lime
1/4 t chili powder
1/8 t cayenne
1/4 t salt
1 14-oz. can of organic black beans, drained and rinsed
4 ears of fresh, raw corn, cut off the cobs
approx. 10 or 11 kalamata olives, chopped  (or green olives in a pinch)
vegan mayonnaise such as Vegenaise
optional; shredded lettuceDIRECTIONS
Mix beans, spices, olives, lime juice and corn together in a medium bowl.
Brush tortillas with Vegenaise mayonnaise.
Add slices of avocado (an absolute must).  Here’s a good way to cut an avocado.
Add lettuce if you want it.
Add bean corn mixture.
Fold ends in and then roll up the wrap.
Slice wraps in half on the diagonal and serve immediately.Note:  You can gild the lily by mixing up the mayo beforehand with some extra chili powder and cayenne.   One time I added in some leftover pickled artichoke hearts, and that was good, but don’t get too crazy because the simple combination above is too good to mess with.