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.


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

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!

Easy Blueberry Sauce

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


Makes about one pint

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

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

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

Vegan Brandied Cherry Sauce

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


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

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

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

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

Vegan Hollandaise using The Vegg

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


Makes approximately 2 Cups

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

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

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

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

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

Quick and Easy Homemade Gochujang Paste


IMG_0270    I found this quick and easy recipe for Gochujang paste here, and simply reduced the amounts, and converted them into Tablespoon and Cup measurements too.  I don’t use a lot of Gochuchang, and this will supposedly last for 6 months in the refrigerator, as long as all your ingredients have that long of a shelf life.  Most authentic recipes call for letting the Kochujang ferment at room temperature for 30 days, or covering and uncovering the paste outdoors on a daily basis, which involves a lot of salt to prevent spoilage, etc.  I looked at buying some Gochujang paste, but was put off by added ingredients like corn syrup, calcium phosphate, etc.  Some store-bought pastes also contain wheat starch in the form of  isomaltooligosaccharide, which may not be good for those who are gluten free (not sure).  By making it at home, we can also use organic miso, and organic sugar.  Use Gochujang in stir-fries, sauces, dressings and marinades–anywhere you want a little spice!  On to the brilliant little 5-minute recipe.


4 oz. mild white miso  (1/2 Cup)
1.75 oz. sugar  (3 Tablespoons)
2 oz. Tamari  (2 Tablespoons)
.88 oz. Korean red pepper powder  (1/4 Cup)
2 to 3 Tablespoons water

Dry whisk the sugar into the pepper powder.  Add miso and stir until moist and blended.  Add Tamari and stir again.  In smallest saucepan, heat mixture over medium-low to melt the sugar a bit.  Add water by the Tablespoon, and stir with a wooden spoon to blend.  Cool and put in clean glass container with lid.  Supposedly will keep in fridge for up to 6 months.  This makes enough Gochujang paste for one or two recipes, but you can double or triple the first 4 ingredients and then add a little water as needed.
A nice big bag of Korean red pepper powder was $4.99.

Vegan Mexican Crema

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


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

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

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

Cranberry Sauce with Kirschwasser and Cherry

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


Makes about 2 Cups

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

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

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

Cilantro Chutney

IMG_0882    You might think of chutney as a chunky concoction, but many are velvety smooth, like this one.  There are at least hundreds of recipes for the favorite Indian Cilantro Chutney, and many are similar.  Some have peanuts or cashews, or lime juice instead of lemon, coconut meat instead of oil, garlic or green apple, etc.  I adapted this one by Indian chef, Vikas Khanna, and fell in love.  The salt, sugar and oil melt down the pungent onions and spicy ginger while they’re being whirled in the blender.  What really hit me was the fresh brightness of the lemon.  This tastes as good as it looks, the flavors are complex, but it’s so simple to make.  I cut the salt and oil in half, and it’s still amazing.  I also decided to freeze the leftover chutney in an ice-cube tray and keep it in the freezer, it’s that good.


1 large bunch cilantro, washed and roughly chopped  (I discarded most of the stems)
6 scallions, coarsely chopped  (both white and green parts)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
one knob of ginger, chopped  (I chopped a 1″ by 2″ piece of peeled ginger)
1/4 Cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in a blender, and start on low.  Slowly increase speed and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as you go.
Store refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Freeze any leftovers in an ice-cube tray.

Notes:  To save time, I used Lakewood Organic Pure Lemon Juice.   The original recipe calls for 2 hot chilis, such as Serrano or Thai chilis.  I often do not have such a thing in the house, so I substituted the cayenne, and then I put Sriracha on the table, because I like it hotter than Lars.

IMG_0889  If you want to elevate a bowl of Nissin Top Ramen (Oriental Flavor is vegan), this is the ticket!   If you find you like this, then you might also go crazy for this chunky Ginger Scallion Sauce.

Vegan Oyster Sauce

In order to veganize some classic Chinese recipes, I need vegan oyster sauce.  Although there are supposedly some you can buy, I doubt I could find them locally.  I found this simple recipe on Food Dot Com and think it’s kind of genius.  It does taste remarkably like what I remember oyster sauce tasting like.  It takes about 5 minutes to make and will last for three months in the fridge.  I found a bag of kombu type seaweed at my local health food store for about $5 and it’s way more than I need; enough to share with someone.  And now I’m inspired to find other ways to use it.  Maybe I’ll perfect my own miso soup, and use it to salt various dishes.  I heard recently that Eden Organic uses kombu to salt their canned beans.  From the Wikipedia link above, I see that Kombu is a natural sort of MSG, and is the umami flavor we hear so much about now.  Below, I cut the original recipe in half, as this vegan oyster sauce will surely go bad before I could ever use it all.  This is my 19th post for Vegan Mofo, and I even posted during Hurricane Sandy, while praying that the power didn’t go out.
Vegan Oyster Sauce

Yield:  1 Cup

1/2 Cup soy sauce,  or tamari sauce
1/2 Cup mirin (often available in the Oriental section of grocery stores)
a very small piece of kombu or kelp dried seaweed, measuring one inch at most

Soak kombu in soy sauce and mirin overnight in an airtight container.
Remove kombu and discard (you now have a thin oyster sauce).
To thicken, place oyster sauce in smallest saucepan.
In a small, separate dish, mix 2 teaspoons corn starch with 2 teaspoons of water, until a smooth slurry forms.
Set oyster sauce on medium heat, add slurry and stir constantly until thickened  (This takes less than 5 minutes).
Cool, label with date, and store up to three months in fridge.

Notes:  I used Main Coast Sea Vegetables kelp, an American seaweed that is supposedly like the Japanese kombu.  Make sure to taste the vegan oyster sauce before adding it to dishes, as it is very salty (just like the regular oyster sauce with mollusks in it).  Adding shiitake mushroom stock enhances flavor, but is optional.  I think you could also use dried shiitakes to make a quick broth if you want to bother.

Vegan Katsu Sauce or Tonkatsu Sauce

My friend Piliki gave me this easy and quick recipe for vegan katsu sauce because she knows I used to like Tonkatsu.  She copied it out of the American Vegan Kitchen cookbook.  This would be good with any panko-fried seitan or soy meat.   Last weekend I made vegan Tonkatsu and it was excellent with this sauce.  I did not care for the slaw that is included in the cookbook recipe, so am not posting it here.  Serve with vegan Tonkatsu meat.  p.s.  The reviews on amazon for this cookbook are very good!


1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic crushed or minced and chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 Tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons agave nectar
3 Tablespoons soy sauce or Tamari
3 Tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Add the garlic and ginger, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant.
Reduce heat and add remaining sauce ingredients.
Stir to combine.
Simmer 5 minutes for the flavors to blend and for sauce to slightly thicken.
Remove from heat and chill in fridge, where it will thicken some more.
This will keep in fridge for about a week.

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.
Romesco Sauce Dip

Makes about 1.5 Cups

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

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

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

Vegan Tzatziki Sauce

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

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

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

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

Turkish Yogurt Coriander Sauce

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

Vegan Turkish Yogurt Coriander Sauce

Keeps for 2 days in fridge.

Makes: 1.5 cups approx.

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

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

Old Bay Potatoes with Malt-Balsamic Reduction

Upon finding some really little  white potatoes at the grocery store yesterday, I decided to try my own version of a recipe I had torn from a magazine.  Just look for very small potatoes (red or white), and they might be labeled as “new potatoes.”  They’ll have a refined, soft-looking thin skin on them and usually they’re cleaner than large potatoes too.  The biggest thing I learned from this is how a balsamic reduction works; it’s pretty cool.  It seems every other restaurant dish nowadays comes with a miserly little drizzle of rich, syrupy balsamic reduction.  Decent balsamic is a bit expensive, but malt vinegar is cheaper, and malt vinegar is perfect for potatoes, so I’ve blended the two vinegars and come up with this reduction, which is delicious.  And just so you know, the Old Bay Seasoning is very faint in this recipe.
Old Bay Potatoes with Malt-Balsamic Reduction

Serves 3 to 4

8-12 very small white (or red) potatoes (3 cups diced small)
3 Tablespoons oil (safflower or canola)
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
For the Glaze:
1/4 Cup balsamic vinegar  (Trader Joe’s makes a well-priced one)
3/4 Cup malt vinegar (such as the very common Heinz brand)
2 Tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fill a large bowl half full of cold water.
Wash potatoes and cut into half-inch pieces and put directly into the cold water.
Let potatoes soak for 30 minutes.
Line a baking pan with parchment paper (or the potatoes will stick).
In a very small dish, mix oil, salt, and Old Bay Seasoning.
Drain potatoes and let sit in a colander for a minute, to drain.
Dump potatoes on a clean dish towel and wrap gently to dry further.
Dump potatoes into a dry bowl, add the seasoned oil, and toss gently until well coated.
Place potatoes on papered pan, and bake for at least 45 minutes, turning 2 times.
For the glaze:
In your smallest saucepan, bring vinegars and sugar to a simmer, on medium-low heat.
Simmer vinegars for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Let vinegar reduction cool and it will thicken as it does so.
Serve Malt/Balsamic Reduction sauce on the side, or drizzle over potatoes before serving.
Put a little shaker of sea salt on the table for those who want more.

Spicy Peanut Sauce

My favorite Thai restaurant is Lemongrass Too in Annapolis, Maryland.  They serve these amazingly fresh and crunchy garden rolls (like summer rolls), but what makes them is the dark peanut sauce, it’s almost black, if I remember correctly.  This one is not exactly that, but it’s somewhat close, and good.  Our local health food store makes summer rolls and sushi while you wait, luckily for me.  I can ask them to make it totally vegan, and they will.  But, then they give you a packaged sauce that leaves something to be desired.  So, now I can pick up some of those fresh summer rolls and come home and make this quick sauce to go with them.  This is an Epicurious recipe, by the way.  If I put it out for others, I will sprinkle some crushed peanuts as a garnish on top, so that others would know there are peanuts in the sauce, in case of allergies.

Spicy Peanut Sauce

from Gourmet, June 1995

(An accompaniment to Herb Salad Spring Rolls)

Yield: Makes about 1 cup

2 garlic cloves, minced  (original recipe calls for three cloves)
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup water

In a small saucepan cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden.
Whisk in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, whisking. Simmer sauce, whisking, until thickened, about 1 minute.
Serve sauce warm or at room temperature.
Garnish with crushed peanuts, if you have some.
Sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered.

Tip:  My friend Jan taught me that it’s really convenient to keep a tube of tomato paste in the fridge.  I got a tube of double concentrated tomato paste, Montali brand, at the Italian Market in Annapolis and they usually have a very long expiration date too.  It saves opening a whole can of tomato paste!

Crispy Tofu Slices with Orange Dipping Sauce

This recipe is from The Kind Diet cookbook by Alicia Silverstone.  And the tofu part is OK, but the sauce is growing on me for several reasons.  It’s versatile; could be used on any Asian savory snack, like little egg rolls or samosas, or even vegan chickn nuggets, for example.  Not only is it pretty, but it’s a lot healthier than store-bought sauces.  I found a jar of Asian Gourmet Chinese Sweet and Sour Sauce in my fridge, and it’s got 27 ingredients in it, and I don’t exactly know what all of them are.  This simple orange/maple dipping sauce has 3 ingredients, one of which I added, and could be made more complex by adding a pinch of cayenne powder, or a half teaspoon of tamarind concentrate, or whatever.  I also think this would be great for little children, and you would skip the cayenne for them, of course.  When I looked online, the main complaint about this recipe was that the sauce was too thin.  So I thickened it with some corn starch and voila, a nice little quick sauce.  As for the tofu, the cookbook says if you don’t have the corn and rice flours on hand, you can just use an all-purpose or whole wheat flour.  I also call for cutting the tofu into thicker slices because the first time I made it, the thinner slices (1/4″) were overwhelmed by even this light coating.  And next time, I’m going to just use plain tofu that I press at home.
Crispy Tofu Slices with Orange Dipping Sauce

Serves 2 or 3 (depending upon side dishes)

1 (8 oz.) package savory-flavored baked tofu
1/2 C corn flour
1/2 C brown rice flour
safflower oil

2/3 C fresh orange juice
1/3 C real maple syrup
2 tsp corn starch mixed with one tablespoon of water

Cut the baked tofu into slices at least 1/3 or 1/2 inch thick.
Mix flours together in a shallow bowl.
Pour enough oil in a large skillet to cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer, and heat over medium heat.
Dip each tofu strip into flour mixture and gently shake or remove all excess flour.  Otherwise, it tastes too floury.
Place tofu strips in skillet, and cook until lightly browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer tofu strips onto a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

In your smallest saucepan, stir together orange juice and maple syrup.
Stir over medium heat until starting to simmer.
While it’s heating, mix 2 teaspoons of corn starch into 1 tablespoon of water, and stir with a small fork into a smooth slurry.
Pour corn starch slurry into orange/maple mixture and keep stirring over medium heat as it comes to a simmer and thickens.  This will take about 5 minutes or so, if I remember correctly.
You can make this sauce a day ahead or hours ahead, and it will thicken slightly more as it chills in the fridge.

Pesto Sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tempura Dipping Sauce

Quick and easy, this Tentsuyu sauce  is the perfect dipping sauce for vegetable tempura or agedashi tofu.  I got this recipe from Everyday Dish TV.   I just happen to be nuts for Agedashi Tofu and vegetable tempura.  However, I don’t care for the taste of the dried fish used in most dashi sauces.  So, this sauce is PERFECT, both in its humanity AND its gorgeous flavor.  Yesterday I published a post here on panko coated onion rings.  In essence, these onion rings are really a simple vegetable tempura.  Since I had the leftover oil from the onion rings, I decided to go ahead and use the same panko/tempura recipe on a sweet potato that has been lurking around on the counter all week.  And I made this sauce to go with it.  Talk about a blissful lunch.
Vegan Tempura Sauce,  Vegan Tentsuyu Sauce

1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
About 1 tbsp nori shreds or flakes (or very thinly sliced nori)

In a saucepan, combine mirin, soy sauce, water and sugar and bring to a simmering boil. Remove from heat, stir in nori and pour over hot tofu.  Note, I prefer to serve this sauce on the side, for dipping.  Also, I just folded and snipped part of a sheet of nori very finely.

Vegan Remoulade Sauce Dressing for Vegetables

This remoulade sauce dressing is so luscious that you’ll want to eat it with a spoon.  It can be used also as a dipping sauce, and is superb on steamed artichokes, steamed asparagus, slices of ripe garden tomatoes, and is amazing on Mock Crab Cakes as a vegan tartar sauce.  I use only Vegenaise mayo for this, the most delicious mayonnaise I have ever found.  I adapted this recipe from a cookbook called The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.  Vegenaise can be found at any health food store.  As an added bonus, here’s a great little video on cooking artichokes.

Vegan Remoulade Sauce,  Dressing for Vegetables, Vegan Crab Cakes, etc.

1.5 C Vegenaise mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 T minced capers
2 T Lemon juice (no more or it will be too watery)
1/4 t salt
1/4 cayenne pepper

Mix all and chill.  Garnish with some lemon zest or a whole caper if desired.  Note:  If only for two people, this is easily halved.