Vegan Sweet and Sour Sauce

     This Vegan Sweet and Sour Sauce is quick, easy and delicious.   Sweetened with pineapple juice and colored with ketchup, it’s a bit healthier than the store-bought stuff.  I made this to go with the Whole Foods 365 Chickenless Nuggets, but it’s also good on vegan egg rolls, battered and fried tofu, etc.  More photos below.

VEGAN SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE

INGREDIENTS
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 Cup sugar
6 ounces pineapple juice
2 Tablespoons ketchup  (for color)
1/4 Cup white vinegar
1/4 Cup water
2 teaspoons Tamari or soy sauce

DIRECTIONS
Put cornstarch and sugar in small saucepan and dry whisk together.  Add rest of ingredients, and on medium heat, stir often and bring to a simmer.  Stirring constantly now, continue to simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes, until it thickens and becomes glossy.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Store in fridge, where it will thicken a bit more.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Notes:  If you must, you can add 2 drops red food coloring to make it look like Chinese-restaurant sauce.  Whisking the dry ingredients first prevents the cornstarch from clumping.  You can buy the pineapple juice in packs of six-ounce cans.
  I buy the pineapple juice in a pack of 6 oz. cans.
  So good!

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.

Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs Casserole

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

VEGAN SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS CASSEROLE

Serves 6

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

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

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

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

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

One Pot Pasta

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

EASY ONE POT PASTA

Serves 4

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

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

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

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

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.
IMG_1885
IMG_1887IMG_1888

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

Avocado Toast

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

AVOCADO TOAST

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

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

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

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.

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.

Maple Smoked Tofu Steaks

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

MAPLE SMOKED TOFU

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

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

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

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

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 Sweet and Sour Chicken – Luau Soy Curls

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

Hawaiian Luau Soy Curls

Serves 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curried Chickpea Cakes by Kim Barnouin

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

CURRIED CHICKPEA CAKES

Makes 9-10 cakes (approximately 5 servings)

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

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

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

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

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

Peanut Butter Quinoa Cookies

Since going vegan, I had not found a really good peanut butter cookie.  I tried the recipe from TJOVB, and didn’t love it, etc.  Recently, i found some  Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes, and on the back of the box was a little recipe for Crispy Quinoa Cookies.  I never thought this would also turn out to be a really good, gluten-free Peanut Butter cookie.  I took a bite, expecting more of a Middle Eastern or quinoa flavor, but no, it just tastes like a great little peanut butter cookie!  I switched out the honey and got lucky on the results.  These would be great to pack into lunch boxes, take on hikes and bikes, and are good enough to give as gifts.  Gluten Free and loaded with protein, but you’d never know.  I’d like to try making them as peanut-butter-and-jelly thumbprint cookies.

PEANUT BUTTER QUINOA COOKIES

Makes:  about 36 to 40 cookies

INGREDIENTS
1/4 Cup agave syrup
1/4 Cup real maple syrup
1/3 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup vegan butter (one stick of Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
1/2 Cup peanut butter (I like Maranatha No-Stir  or  O Organics No Stir)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup rice flour
3/4 Cup Quinoa Flakes (Ancient Harvest brand)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 Cup sliced almonds (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, beat agave and maple syrups, brown sugar, vegan butter, peanut butter and vanilla, until creamy.    In a medium bowl, combine rice flours, quinoa flakes, baking soda and salt, and dry whisk.    Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix until well blended.
If using, add nuts and mix just until incorporated.
Measure out rounded teaspoons and then flatten them slightly.  Place about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper).
Bake 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown (I found 13 minutes just right for my electric, non-convection oven).    Cool one minute before transferring cookies to rack.

Notes:  Cookies will firm up slightly once cooled.  I made them one time using 1/2 Mochiko flour and 1/2 brown rice flour, and they were good.  These cookies do not spread much, so that’s why I flatten the dough balls slightly before baking.

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.

Vegan Macaroni Pasta Salad

This is a good, creamy Pasta Salad that would be great for a picnic or BBQ.  It’s easy and doesn’t take too long to make.  You can put any spin on this recipe that you like, and you can double it for a crowd.  p.s.  I think I grated my carrot a little too finely, because it’s not showing up well in this photo.

VEGAN MACARONI SALAD,  PASTA SALAD

Serves:  at least 8, am not really sure yet

INGREDIENTS
2 Cups uncooked macaroni noodles  (I like Field Day organic pastas)
1/2 Cup vegan mayonnaise (I like Reduced Fat Vegenaise with the yellow lid)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (yes, it does make a difference)
2 Tablespoons Dijon smooth mustard
2 Tablespoons sweet relish
1 level teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast (not brewer’s yeast)
1 stalk celery, very finely diced
1/2 of a red bell pepper, very finely diced
1/2 of a small red onion, very finely diced (I used my pickled onion)
1/2 of a medium to large carrot, very finely grated
Optional additions could include a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of Old Bay Seasoning or celery salt, and a finish dusting of paprika.

DIRECTIONS
Bring the pasta water to a boil.  Add a pinch of salt and the macaroni and cook according to package directions, for about 7 minutes or until al dente.  Rinse in cold water, drain, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the vegan mayo, sugar, vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, sweet relish and any other spices.  Add celery, carrot, red bell pepper and onion to the bowl, and mix.

Add the drained macaroni and combine gently but fully.  This is best chilled in the fridge for a few hours before serving.  Can be made the day before!

Note:  If you want this to taste like a Pennsylvania Amish macaroni salad, double the sugar.  Double this recipe to serve “a large crowd.”

Vegan Zucchini Crab Cakes

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

VEGAN ZUCCHINI CRAB CAKES

Makes approximately 14 “crab” cakes.

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

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

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

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

Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles

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

VEGAN DAN DAN NOODLES

Serves 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegan Hunt’s Manwich Sloppy Joes

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

Vegan Hunt’s Manwich Sloppy Joes

Serves:  about 6

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 Pot Pie

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

VEGETABLE POT PIE

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegan Shepherds Pie

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

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.

Cheesy Tofu Scramble

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

CHEESY TOFU SCRAMBLE

Makes:   8  half-cup servings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sausage and Peppers Sandwich

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

Macaroni and Cheese

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

VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tofu Scramble and Breakfast Burrito

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

I also added:

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

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

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

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

VEGAN SPAGHETTI ALLA PUTTANESCA

Serves 4 to 6

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

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

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