Chocolate Mousse Pie

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Here’s a recipe that will impress your sweetie pie, or heck– just impress yourself!  A no-bake chocolate cookie crust filled with super easy, super rich and delicious chocolate mousse.

The secret is buying the best darn vegan-friendly chocolate you can afford! This is a dessert I pull out every so often for a special occasion or to share with non-vegans who doubt whether a non-dairy dessert can measure up to what they are used to.

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Personally, I never truly appreciated chocolate until I enjoyed it without dairy and additives and the other junk it is often processed with.

Chocolate Mousse Pie

Adapted from “The Joy of Vegan Baking” by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Ingredients:
1 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips, chunks or bar cut into small chunks
12 oz silken tofu (soft or firm)
½ cup nondairy milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch sea salt

Vegan cookie pie shell, homemade or store bought

Melt chocolate in double boiler or in microwave until smooth and pourable. Puree tofu, milk, salt and vanilla in food processor until well blended. Stream slightly cooled but pourable chocolate into the tofu mixture and blend immediately until fully incorporated. Transfer to pie shell and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

New Vegan Clam Chowder

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A rich, thick, stick to your ribs chowder–filled with hearty chunks of potatoes, celery and onion–this one has all the elements of the original, but gets its creaminess from my secret ingredient: navy beans! This version is not only healthier and cruelty-free, but it’s so filling and delicious!

New Vegan Clam Chowder

1 pound dried navy beans

3 strips dried kombu seaweed

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 strips tempeh bacon

1/2 medium onion

3 stalks celery

1 clove garlic, minced

8 ounces oyster or shiitake mushrooms

2 cups vegetable stock

1 large potato, peeled and diced

big sprig of fresh thyme

3/4 cup dry white wine

Handful fresh parsley, chopped

Dulse or kelp flakes (optional)

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Method:

Frame-16-09-2015-09-47-51Soak beans overnight in water. Cook in fresh water with kombu until beans are soft (they should look cracked open).

Frame-16-09-2015-09-49-32 (1)Drain beans and reserve liquid. Remove kombu and discard. Puree beans with enough liquid to make very smooth.

Frame-16-09-2015-09-50-45 (1)For a very smooth soup, run puree through a fine sieve. Transfer to a large soup pot and warm over low heat on stove.

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Dice the bacon, onion, celery and garlic.

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Heat olive oil in large skillet and add bacon.Saute until browned. Add onion and celery and  saute until softened.

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Add mushrooms and saute until softened. Increase heat and deglaze with white wine until pan is almost dry.

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Add stock, thyme and diced potatoes. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.

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Add  contents of skillet to pot on stove and heat through. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as desired. You may wish to add dulse or kelp flakes for more of a sea-derived flavor.

Barbecue Tofu with Baked Beans and Cheesy Mash

TofuBarbequeWith daylight savings time and the longer evenings, I just can’t wait for those summer cookouts. It’s fun to pull out the grill on a regular old weeknight and turn out some great barbecue!

Whether you like it smoky or spicy, savory or sweet, there’s no reason to give up your favorite barbeque flavors as a vegetarian or vegan. Tofu has a wonderfully absorbent quality when it comes to flavors. It’s especially so when it is frozen, thawed and pressed  beforehand.

Here’s a basic barbecue flavored marinade, that can be used by itself or along with your favorite barbecue sauce at grill time.

Smoky BBQ Tofu Marinade

¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or mirin)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1-1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika or chili powder

Blend all ingredients and pour over tofu. Makes about 1/2 cup, enough for 1 pound.

There are so many sides to choose from, but on a weeknight, I choose the easiest to prepare. Here is a quick and easy baked bean recipe that can be baking in the oven while you prepare the rest of the meal. It is sweet and tangy with a rich tomato flavor.

Homemade Baked Beans

courtesy of Jenna Weber (www.eatliverun.com)

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 tsp hot sauce
8 oz tomato sauce
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat oven to 350
In a cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté for about five minutes or until soft and translucent.
Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds more.
Add the maple syrup, tomato sauce, salt, ground mustard, hot sauce and ketchup and simmer for five minutes.
Add the beans and bay leaf, stir, then cover the skillet with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, stirring once during the baking process.
Allow to cool and serve warm.

Serves 4

Cheesy mashed potatoes is the simplest side dish of all, provided you have some leftover cheesy sauce hanging around in the fridge, which I think everyone should! https://veganflavorista.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/sexy-cheezy-sauce/

Cheesy Mash

courtesy of Vegan Flavorista

Wash and dry four big potatoes. Place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave 10 minutes. Mash with unsweetened non-dairy milk until desired consistency is reached. Stir in a big dollop of Dijon mustard, then season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Take about 4 scallions, washed and dried, and snip them with kitchen shears right into the potatoes. Stir to blend.

Gently reheat cheesy sauce and drizzle over warm mashed potatoes. Heavenly!

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Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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Every once in awhile, I am moved to pull out  various appliances and put them to work, such as the waffle iron, pasta machine, ice cream maker. It’s a fun weekend endeavor, when I have time, to enjoy the satisfaction of making something “from scratch” that I usually buy.

With the convenience of every flavor under the sun available at our local Whole Foods Market, making ice cream at home may seem like quite the ambitious undertaking.

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It is actually as easy as making a smoothie or anything else you might run through the blender, if you have a quality ice cream maker. Nothing else provides that essential smooth, frozen consistency.

I always keep my freezer bowl frozen for those times when an ice cream recipe will catch my attention. This recipe from “Crazy, Sexy Kitchen” by Kris Carr looked so simple, and I had all the ingredients on hand, so I just had to give it a try.

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I adapted the recipe slightly by substituting four medjool dates for the agave nectar. In the end, though, I added  a squirt of agave to give it just a bit more sweetness.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

1 can coconut milk

1/2 cup raw cashews

1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)

1/3 cup agave nectar (or five medjool dates, pitted and sliced)

1/2 cup water

Pinch sea salt

datesMethod:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and  refrigerate until very cold and to soak the cashews (at least four hours, overnight, if possible). Make sure your ice cream maker’s freezer bowl is completely frozen.

Pour mixture into a blender and puree until very smooth. Taste for sweetness and add more agave to suit your taste, if desired.

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Before

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker, according to manufacturer’s instructions.

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After

Two Bean and Bulgar Chili

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I came across this recipe, while sifting through a drawer. It was a page torn from one of those little paperback supermarket cookbooks at the register called “Meatless Meals”.

There is a handwritten note beside the recipe, “Steve’s favorite 2005”. This little memory jog took me right back to that year when I first met the man who would become my husband, though neither of us knew it yet.

I am really glad this recipe was Steve’s favorite back in 2005, because that was long before we  became vegan. What an evolution together, over time, to a more compassionate lifestyle, a deeper enjoyment of food and a more humble appreciation for nature.

I am ever grateful for my husband’s love and support on my personal and professional journey, and I can’t imagine a better partner with whom to share the ride.

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Two-Bean and Bulgar Chili

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups water

1/2 cup uncooked bulgar wheat

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

3 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

Method:

Saute in oil over medium-high heat, carrot, bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook and stir 4 minutes.

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Stir in remaining ingredients, except beans. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 40 minutes, until bulgar is tender and flavors are blended, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

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Add drained beans and simmer 5 minutes until heated through. Serve with your favorite cornbread.

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Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake (gluten and soy free)

 

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Image courtesy Steve daPonte http://www.dapontephotography.wordpress.com

I’m all about taking a good thing and making it better. That’s what I did with this classic chocolatey favorite. Rich, dark and decadent chocolate cake can now be enjoyed by those with gluten and/or soy intolerance. Add a layer of tangy, sweet raspberry preserves and you just kicked it way up to an elegant special occasion or company dessert.

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake

(adapted from Audrey Snowe’s Gluten-Free Vegan Cupcakes)

¾ cup + 2 tbsp superfine brown rice flour

⅓ cup + 2 tbsp potato starch

2 tbsp tapioca starch

½ tsp xantham gum

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

6 tbsp cocoa powder

¾ cup light coconut milk (the canned type)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp maple syrup

¼ cup grapeseed oil

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup raspberry preserves

Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch cake pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, xantham gum, salt, and baking powder. Add cocoa powder and mix until all ingredients are combined. In a large mixing bowl, mix together coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, grapeseed oil, and vanilla extract. Add sugar and mix once more until sugar is blended in. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and mix all ingredients together. Be careful not to over-mix. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Place in the oven on center rack and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

When completely cool, split cake into two layers and spread with the best quality raspberry preserves you can find. Assemble the cake and pour chocolate ganache over the top to coat. Refrigerate until about 15 minutes before service time.

Serves 8-10

Chocolate Ganache Recipe

Jam Session

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Here’s an easy recipe for blueberry preserves I found this morning in a sudden rush of inspiration http://www.marthastewart.com/355053/blueberry-jam

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Wash the berries

Warm the sugar in the oven

Bring blueberries and sugar to boil with water

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Cook for about 45 minutes, until thick

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Soup and Bread

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It occurs to me that there are two foods I can simply never do without–soup and bread.  I will never tire of a hot, comforting bowl–be it a thick, hearty stew or a thin, savory broth as long as I have a nice chunk of bread to sop in it.

The best soups and the best breads are those made at home. Here are a couple simple recipes worth trying for yourself.

Easy Olive Oil Bread

Creamy Chick’n & Mushroom Soup

from EpicureanVegan.Wordpress.com

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
12-oz pkg Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips, cubed
4 C (about 18) mushrooms, quartered
5 C vegetable broth
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 C vegan sour cream
3 Tbs flour
1/2 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C unsweetened, plain almond milk
3/4 tsp Herbs de Provence

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic. Saute 2 minutes, then add the onion and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables soften.

Add the broth and let simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Toss in the chick’n and mushrooms and let cook for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, flour, nutritional yeast, seasonings and almond milk; stir into the soup. Season with Herbs de Provence. Let simmer a few minutes until it thickens. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

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Tempeh Picatta

Tempeh Picatta

Tangy lemon and capers in a savory butter garlic sauce over pan-seared tempeh. A very easy, enlightened version of the restaurant classic!

Tempeh has been a staple in Indonesia for over 2000 years. It is a highly nutritious fermented food traditionally made from soybeans and its high protein content makes it a wonderful substitute for meat. It is found next to the tofu in the grocery store. I like to use it in recipes that call for a “meatier” texture like for loaves and faux meatballs.

This recipe makes plenty of sauce, so it goes great with pasta or rice on the side.

Tempeh Picatta

from “Chloe’s Kitchen” by Chloe Coscarelli

1 8-ounce package tempeh, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons vegan margarine

2 tablespoons drained capers

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

*In a large pot, place the tempeh in a steamer basket over enough water to reach the bottom of the basket. Cover and steam for 20 minutes, checking the water level periodically and adding more if needed.

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In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat and cook tempeh on each side for 5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Transfer to a plate.

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In the same skillet, heat remaining oil and saute onions until soft. Add garlic and let cook a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly add broth to skillet so the oil doesn’t spatter. Reduce heat to medium and let the broth bubble down for 1 to 2 minutes.

Whisk together cornstarch and water in a small bowl and slowly drizzle it into the skillet, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low. Add lemon juice and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the tempeh back into the pan and turn over to coat and heat through. Turn off the heat and stir in margarine, capers and parsley until margarine is melted and well incorporated. Check for seasoning and serve immediately.

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*Note: Use this steaming method to remove any bitterness from the tempeh. If you use West Soy Brand tempeh, however, bitterness will not be an issue and you can skip this step!