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.

Coconut Bacon

IMG_0231    This fast, easy and delicious Coconut Bacon recipe takes five minutes to prep for baking.    I adapted this from the wildy-popular recipe by Fettle Vegan.  Of course, you can always buy coconut bacon from Phoney Baloney, but it’s so easy to make your own.  Wherever you get your coconut bacon, it’s great strewn over salads, and chowder, in BLTs, or eaten out of hand.  I plan to try this in an Elvis Sandwich someday.

COCONUT BACON

Makes 2 Cups

INGREDIENTS
2 Cups large flake coconut, unsweetened
1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
1 Tablespoon Tamari
1 Tablespoon plus one teaspoon real maple syrup
1 Tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Set coconut aside.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients, whisking or stirring to blend.  Add coconut and fold gently with a wooden spoon or spatula to evenly coat the flakes.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread coconut flakes evenly onto it.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  BE VERY CAREFUL during the last five minutes, checking it several times to make sure it does not burn.  Coconut will crisp up as it cools.  Strew over salads, chowder, use in sandwiches or eat out of hand.  Cool completely and store in fridge for two weeks (I store mine for a month if the flaked coconut is not due to expire soon).

Notes:  Bigger coconut flakes may take longer to cook.   After cooling, if your coconut bacon is not crisp, put it back in the oven for 2 to 5 minutes, checking carefully to prevent burning.
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Grilled Teriyaki Tofu Steaks

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

GRILLED TERIYAKI TOFU STEAKS

Serves:  3 to 4

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

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

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

Vegetarian Plus Vegan Tuna Rolls

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

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

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.

Vegetarian Plus Vegan Ham Roll

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

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Seitan Bacon

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

VEGAN BACON SEITAN

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

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

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

1/2 Cup warm water
1 Tablespoon peanut oil

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Barbecued Tempeh Sandwich with Quick Slaw

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

BARBECUED TEMPEH SANDWICH WITH QUICK SLAW

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

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

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

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

Candied Vegan Ham

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

Serves 4 to 5

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

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

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

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

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%.

Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Here’s one of the best Dill Pickles I’ve ever eaten.  I used organic, pristinely-fresh, full-size cucumbers, and store-bought dill seed, to make this a year-round quick pickle.  By partially peeling and then slicing the cucumbers into spears, we now have a pickle that you can begin eating the next day.  The result is a crunchy, fresh, semi-raw-tasting pickle that’s addictive.  The original recipe appeared in the Dayton Daily News on August 14, 2006, but I cannot find the link and adapted my version from an old photocopy.   It’s one of those popular refrigerator-pickle recipes that’s probably not approved by the FDA.  However, my friend Gail has been making the original recipe for three years and nobody’s gotten sick yet, despite the fact that she refrigerates them for three to six months at a time.  When you consider, for example, the crocks of sauerkraut made around the world and stored in grubby basements, I think we’ll live.  You can find many recipes for refrigerator pickles online, on sites like cooks.com and people are letting them sit in the fridge for months on end and even adding fresh veg into the jars of original brine.  Pickling is the oldest form of food preservation, but there’s a real rebirth of fermented foods going on here in the United States, as evidenced by the plethora of books published on the subject recently (just go on amazon.com and type in “fermented foods“).  The original recipe is called “Cold Pack Dill Pickles” which is a bit of a misnomer, because supposedly, Cold Pack means using a water-bath canner instead of a pressure canner, but this simple recipe uses neither.  I’ve also reduced the salt a bit, added some mustard seeds and brought the yield down from 16 pints, to two quarts, which saves a lot of time and is fine for our home consumption.  Like my Pickled Red Onions, I’ll just make another quick batch when we’re out.  Thank you, Gail, for the original recipe, and all the fabulous garden produce you folks shared with us last summer.  Vegan Mofo 2012.
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Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Makes 2 quarts.

INGREDIENTS
3 large, full-size, firm, fresh, organic cucumbers
(or four medium cukes)
3.5 Cups filtered water
1 Cup distilled white vinegar
3 Tablespoons fine sea salt
2 Tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Dill seeds
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds (optional)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

DIRECTIONS
To make brine:
In a large saucepan or small stock pot, add water, vinegar, salt, and sugar.
Heat until good and hot, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
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Have 2 clean quart jars at the ready (or 4 pint jars).
Wash cucumbers carefully and partially peel them, leaving some green strips along the sides.  If the cucumbers are from a safe, organic garden (un-waxed cucumbers), peel them only lightly for visual appeal.
Cut the ends off each cucumber.
Cut each cucumber in half the short way, and then quarter each half into long spears.
Slice away at least half of the seeds from the length of each cucumber spear.
Rinse peeled garlic halves in hot water to make sure they’re clean, and divide the garlic between the two jars.
Add 1 teaspoon of Dill seeds to each jar.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds to each jar.
Place prepared cucumber spears vertically into jars, packing them in tightly.
Fill jars with the hot brine and then tighten the lids by hand.
Wipe jars dry and place them immediately into the fridge.
Supposedly, these keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 months.

Notes:  I always run my canning jars through the dishwasher with the other dishes to make sure they’re sterilized.  Make sure cutting board and knives are impeccably clean, etc.  The original recipe calls for chopping the garlic and adding 2 fresh dill sprigs to each jar.  It did not call for heating the brine, or peeling the cukes, and it recommended letting the completed pickles/jars sit out at room temperature for 24 hours, but I was too scared to do that, especially with the garlic in there.

Easy Marinated Tofu Steaks

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

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

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

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

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.

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 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 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.

No Knead Rye Bread by Jim Lahey

OK, I had actually put away the cookbook My Bread by Jim Lahey.  But then I started to wonder what to blog for St. Patrick’s Day.  Vegan Corned Beef and Reuben sandwiches came to mind.  But first, we need rye bread, right.  So, here are my comments on this recipe.  The rye bread will not rise quite as high as the other boule loaves in the book, due in part to the rye flour.  I substituted one cup of stone-ground whole wheat flour for one cup of the white bread flour, with good results.  I added 1/4 teaspoon of caraway seeds and it was not enough, virtually undetectable.  So next time I’ll add 1/2 teaspoon at least.  I have found every recipe in this book to be very forgiving and would not hesitate to do a quick rise on this rye bread, even with the whole wheat flour in it.  To do this, you would simply add 1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or other vinegar) to the very-warm (almost hot) water (instead of the usual cool water).  Allow 3-4 hours for the first rise (instead of 18), and one hour at least for the 2nd rise.  That’s it.  I did it the slow way and with the whole wheat, got a denser, shorter (in height) loaf without so many big holes in it.  It was good and had a nice rye flavor without being overpowering.  p.s.  The bread you see above was grilled in a cast-iron pan to make the vegan Reuben sandwich, but it is a pleasingly dark bread anyway, especially with the subbing of some whole wheat flour.  And, if you go to make a vegan Reuben sandwich, check out the vegan Russian Salad Dressing also on this site.

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!

Vegan Better-Than-Tuna Salad

Recently, I was wistful for a tuna sandwich.  Not that I would eat one, but it’s natural to miss something you used to eat without thinking about it.  Some of what we miss is that hit of protein, and texture.  By pulsing chickpeas lightly in the food processor, you get that flaky texture of canned tuna.  And to my surprise, this actually tastes like tuna (without the fishy smell).  Not exactly, but pretty close, and it’s delicious.  This recipe is adapted from The Vegan Table.   An added bonus is that this recipe will make you feel good.  Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) have all the essential amino acids that adults need, and are packed with protein and fiber.  Here is a quote from the LiveStrong web site:  “The proteins found in garbanzo beans include all eight of the essential dietary amino acids: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. The only missing essential amino acid in garbanzo beans is histidine, which is necessary only for infants.”

Colleen’s addition of adding the raw walnuts (which you cannot really taste) supplies the Omega 3 Fatty Acids.    p.s. I changed some measurements and added the onion and relish.  The optional seaweed flakes give it a faint fish flavor.
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Better-Than-Tuna Salad from The Vegan Table cookbook

Half quantity shown here, makes at least 4 servings or sandwiches.

INGREDIENTS
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 Cup Vegenaise (eggless mayonnaise)
½ medium-sized red bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)
1 carrot, grated fine (or pulsed to a grated consistency)
½ celery stalk, minced fine (or pulsed to a grated consistency)
2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion or shallot
2 Tablespoons sweet relish
½ C raw walnuts, chopped fine (or pulsed in food processor)
1.5 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dulse granules (seaweed flakes) (optional, for that faint fish flavor)

DIRECTIONS
Rinse and drain chickpeas well.
Here, if you want to, you can pulse the carrot, celery and walnuts in the food processor, until fine.  Empty food processor and then process the chickpeas until they are a somewhat-fine flaky consistency. Do not over-process, or you’ll get hummus! The flakiness of the chickpeas resembles tuna in texture, which is important for this recipe.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir carrot/celery/walnut mixture with onion, relish, mustard, and mayo and seasonings (salt, pepper and optional seaweed flakes/granules).
Add flaked chickpeas and stir again to mix all well.  Chill until ready to serve.

Notes:  I use my Pickled Red Onions in this (and everything else).  Please note that this recipe (as you see it here) is halved.  A scoop of this would be good sitting in the middle of a green salad, or you could make vegan tuna melts with Daiya cheese, or stuff it into pita pockets, etc.

No Knead Ciabatta Bread – Adapted from Jim Lahey

I hope Mrs. Lahey knows I’m not after her husband, I just like his cookbook, My Bread, by Jim Lahey.  So here we have Ciabatta, named after old-fashioned carpet slippers.  One interesting thing is that I found this crust to be thinner and not quite as chewy as the boule-shaped loaves I tried previously, so it’s great for European-style sandwiches, subs, etc.  This is a very versatile bread that can be used for sandwiches, panini, for dipping in good olive oil, making garlic bread, etc.  There are various types of ciabatta bread, and supposedly there is a whole wheat version called ciabatta integrale.  I hope to move back into more whole grain breads in 2011.  After 20 years of nagging Lars to eat whole grain breads, and telling him that white flour has all the nutritional value of Kleenex, here I am making white breads all of a sudden.  I think part of it is that I want to show (and prove to myself) that our favorite foods can be vegan, from the everyday meals to the special-occasion offerings.  My goal was to make this particular bread without the clay pots or pizza stone called for in the book, and to make two long loaves instead of one wider one.  I was unable to find a link for this recipe, but if you have the book My Bread, you might appreciate the following notes, IF you want to make it the way I did:

1)  Let the 2nd rise happen right on your cutting surface, whether that is your counter or a cutting board.  You will still sprinkle dough with flour and cover dough with a lint-free cloth during the second rise.  Best not to let it rise on a very cold surface such as marble or granite or soapstone, however.

2)  I do not have the clay pots and pizza stones Jim Lahey uses for his ciabatta, and I did not want to buy them.  So, here’s what to do:  oil a cold rimmed baking/cookie sheet with a half teaspoon of safflower oil, and then sprinkle the oiled baking sheet with corn meal.  Do not put this baking sheet into the oven during pre-heat.

3)  I wanted two long loaves, suitable for slim sandwiches (think baguette size), so I cut the dough in two after the second rise, right on the surface where it rose.  Then gently stretch and lay the two dough pieces on the prepared baking sheet, so that each piece of dough is approx. 10-14 inches long.  Place each raw loaf more apart from each other, and closer to the long edges of the baking sheet.  Bake the loaves for approx. 18-20 minutes, depending upon your oven.  I use a non-convection electric oven and the temperature is pretty accurate.

This bread has a delicious taste right out of the oven with a little smear of Earth Balance vegan butter on it; rich but not too heavy.  If you want to save calories and have more room for veg and filling, you can slice away some of the crumb or center of the loaf before putting sandwiches together.  Another photo below:

Pita Bread

My best vegan girlfriend, Piliki, sent me this fabulous little cookbook for Christmas.  It’s called The Vegan Family Cookbook by Chef Brian P. McCarthy, whom you can see cooking on EverydayDish TV.  This is the first recipe I’ve tried out of the book, and it came out great.  I did reduce the oven temperature to 475 degrees Fahrenheit, and cut the recipe in half because there’s no way we’re eating 12 pita pockets.  Other than that, I followed the recipe.  What I like about this cookbook is that the recipes are all written very simply and have the least amount of ingredients.  This book is only 8 inches tall and many of the recipes only take up half the page!  So I made the pita pockets, and they were easy and actually better than the ones I get from the Lebanese restaurant in Annapolis.  Tender and forgiving, and they open easily into a nice wide pocket.  These would be perfect for stuffing with falafel, hummus, tabouleh, Better-Than-Tuna Salad, etc.  I don’t own a pizza stone but I do have a vintage cast-iron skillet, which worked wonderfully for baking the pita in the oven  (the recipe does say you can also use a cookie sheet).  Among the other recipes I’ve now got sticky notes on are: potato latkes, baked beans, blueberry crepes, spanakopita, curry baked tofu, watermelon agua fresca, banana bread, banana pudding, tapioca pudding, Grandma’s caramel corn, etc., etc. 

Cheesy Tofu Scramble

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

CHEESY TOFU SCRAMBLE

Makes:   8  half-cup servings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegan Turkey Roast

This is the Vegan Turkey Roast from Everyday Dish TV.  As a new vegan, I no longer want a dead animal in the middle of the table, but there was still a bit of angst as to how my husband would like a veganized version of such an iconic meal.  Before I get into the details, I’ll sum it up.  We felt this Vegan Turkey Roast was underwhelming as a centerpiece dish and would not have it again for that purpose.  However, the next day, we sliced it up and had it for “turkey” sandwiches and it was really good!  I had some excellent lemon/rosemary bread.  We mixed some Vegenaise with homemade cranberry sauce, added some baby romaine lettuce for crunch and it was so good.  In this sandwich, it tasted like turkey.  So, back to the beginning; I was waffling about what to make for a main dish, and had my eye on several amazing looking recipes that I’ll definitely be making sometime.   I was wavering between several entrees for this Thanksgiving meal.  There’s the Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empanadas from Veganomicon.  Tal Ronnen came up with Sage and Pumpkin Seed Battered Cutlets with Cranberry Cabernet Sauce.  But, I made this Vegan Turkey Roast instead and don’t regret it.  It was a good way to further experiment with seitan, it was quick and easy, and in the process, we found a really good homemade lunch meat that has no chemical taste whatsoever!  While versatile and loaded with protein, seitan is not the prettiest food, so I did use the phyllo dough to gussy it up.  Lars felt the thyme was too strong, so next time I’ll cut that in half.  Also, I substituted Tamari sauce for the soy sauce.  Tamari is just vegan soy sauce anyway.  Here’s my amended recipe below, with half of the thyme.
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VEGAN TURKEY ROAST – single batch

Serves 8

Also makes great sandwiches!

INGREDIENTS
1 gallon water
2 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1/2 tsp thyme (original recipes calls for 1 tsp but we felt it was too strong)
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups vegetable broth (if using homemade broth, you may need to add salt to this recipe)
1/4 cup light olive oil (I used canola for this high heat)
1 tbsp soy sauce  (or Tamari sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos)
Cheesecloth (one double thick 24-inch by 16-inch piece)
2 6-inch pieces of string
1 batch uncooked stuffing (optional)

DIRECTIONS
1) In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water to a low boil.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten, yeast flakes, thyme, onion powder, and salt.
3) Add the vegetable broth, oil, and soy sauce, stir just until combined.
4) Form into a loaf shape (making sure your loaf is shorter than your stock pot width).
5) Place gluten loaf on cheesecloth and roll up (not too tight). Tie each end with a piece of string.  (video shows four string ties spaced evenly apart)
6) Place in simmering water, covered, for 1 hour (2 hours for a double batch).  (you can make stuffing while it simmers)
7) Preheat oven to 325.
8) Take roast out of water and remove cheesecloth. Place in baking dish with prepared stuffing, if desired.
9) Bake, covered, for 30 minutes.

Variation: Vegan Turkey with Puff Pastry
After turkey is done boiling, remove it from the water and remove cheesecloth. Roll out a piece of puff pastry so that it will cover your turkey. Cover turkey with puff pastry. Brush puff pastry with a mixture of half ketchup and half water. Sprinkle with a little bit of thyme. Bake turkey, uncovered, at 400º F. for 25 minutes.

Copyright © 2008 Brian McCarthy

Sausage and Peppers Sandwich

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

Vegan Hot Dogs

OK, so I was at a charity dog walk, and they were grilling  hot dogs in the park.  What’s wrong with this picture?  But yes, they smelled good.  Just because I’m now vegan, doesn’t mean I don’t miss my old favorites sometimes.  But, I’m learning that your taste buds do catch up with your ethics and you can still have your old favorites!  Hot dogs are such an iconic food for Americans, showing up at BBQs on holidays such as 4th of July, and always in summer, and kids love them.  So I thought, why can’t we have hot dogs at home once in a blue moon?  And after trying a couple of brands, I found one that really is tasty when you do it right.  Now, I have always been of the Chicago Dog persuasion; liking a good strong mustard in contrast with sweet relish, and the tang of onions.  So, here it is, ta da,  the Smart Dog indulgence we had for lunch.  And damn, you get 8 grams of protein, and even a little potassium and iron, and no fat, and no cholesterol.  OK, OK, I did fry them in a cast-iron skillet and I put my Dad’s own Hawaiian salt on them, but still, zero cholesterol.  A lot of people do not realize that cholesterol only exists in animal products.  And I did brush the buns with a tiny bit of olive oil and fried them, and drizzled one teaspoon of olive oil in the pan for the hot dogs.  So, all in all, not a bad indulgence.  I’ll sleep OK, especially since nobody got hurt.  I have to tell you that the instructions on the Smart Dogs package call for boiling or microwaving the hot dogs, and do not mention pan frying.  But we’ve always liked our dogs fried, so that’s what I did, on medium heat. Now that I’ve read the Wikipedia description, I think I’ll add a dash of celery salt next time.  Also, I used my very own pickled red onions, and they make a difference.  But any chopped onion would do.

Yves Meatless Deli Bologna

If you were a kid in the 1970’s or prior to that, chances are you ate your share of bologna sandwiches back in the day.  And everyone had their own favorite way of eating them, such as with mayonnaise on Wonder Bread, ha ha.  No joke, unfortunately, since Wonder Bread has all the nutritional value and taste of Kleenex.  I can remember frying bologna around the age of 8, on a gas stove, while my Mom was at work.  You had to cut slits in the round edges so the bologna would fry flat and not turn into a cup shape.  Lest you think I’m still a baloney-eating person, I’ll protest that prior to going vegan this summer, I hadn’t had a baloney sandwich in probably 20 years or more.  Once I did go vegan, however, I was curious to try some of the mock meats on the market, and to simulate old favorite meals.  Enter Yves Meatless Deli Bologna.  I tried one of the other brands and did not like it at all; it was just off somehow.  Now, I haven’t tried frying this up, but wanted instead to do a grown-up version of a childhood favorite.  Got some really good kalamata olive bread from the French baker who comes to my nearby farmers market, and yes, I checked to make sure the bread is vegan (many of the better, artisanal breads are).  Used my favorite Vegenaise mayonnaise with the green lid, some good French Dijon mustard, heirloom tomatoes, and crunchy romaine lettuce.  Let me just say, this was good, like the best baloney sandwich you ever had.  Now, it doesn’t taste 100 percent like old Oscar Mayer, but maybe it tastes 80% like it.  It has that cured baloney taste and scent, and once you get it in with all the other good fixings, you’d swear you were eating Oscar Mayer.  A serving of Yves is four slices, way too much.  I only used two slices and that way, you just get a hint of baloney taste in among all the other stellar ingredients.  And two slices gets you 7 grams of protein, not counting all the other protein in your sandwich bread, etc.  Low fat, zero cholesterol, and would also make a great hoagie.  Here is the nutritional info., but keep in mind that this info. is for a whopping four slices!  So, in closing, I guess you can go back and revisit some of those nostalgic meals, but not pay the horrid price with your arteries, or hurt the planet or any other sentient beings.

Cream Cheese and Olive Bagel

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

Tofu Scramble and Breakfast Burrito

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

I also added:

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

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

Vegan Chicken Salad

What to serve for lunch for your omnivore loved ones?  Chicken salad, of course.  Ever since having the famously-delicious vegan chicken cheesesteak at Govinda’s in Philadelphia, I’ve been looking for a vegan chicken that tastes good in dishes.  Like most meats, chicken doesn’t taste like much by itself, without any seasonings or breading.  So, mock chicken is ideal for those who want to make their old favorites healthier and violence free.  Enter Trader Joe’s Chicken-Less Strips.   I could not find a link for this product but will highlight it in a post tomorrow or next day.  We both really liked this sandwich and so it’ll be a great thing to make for lunch a few times a year.  Every family has their own favorite way to make chicken salad, so the possibilities are endless.  Maybe next time I’ll go for green grapes and a bit of curry powder, but here’s how I did it today:

INGREDIENTS
one 8 oz. box Trader Joe’s Chicken-Less Strips
1 or 2 stalks celery, diced very fine
1 small apple, diced very fine
at least 3 tsps fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper (white or black)
1/4 C raw walnuts chopped
3 T vegan mayo, such as Vegenaise (or to taste)

Fry Chicken-Less strips in a small non-stick pan on medium heat for 5 minutes or so, until lightly browned.  No oil necessary.  Set to cool.
Cut strips into smaller pieces if you want to.
Put lemon juice in a small bowl.
Leaving the skin on, chop apple very finely, put into the lemon juice, and toss.
Add salt and pepper to the apple mixture and toss again.
Dice celery very finely.
Chop raw walnuts.
Cut chicken-less strips into small pieces and put into a larger bowl.
Add all other ingredients, including mayo, to chicken and toss well.
Chill and serve however you like, in a wrap, or on bread and/or lettuce.

Serves:  approx. six sandwiches, maybe more, not sure yet.  Note dated 04/19/13.  I have since found vegan chicken products I like better than this, such as Butler Soy Curls, and Beyond Meat.

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.