True Food Kitchen, Boca Raton, FL

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True Food Kitchen is a restaurant chain with twenty or so locations throughout the mid to lower section of the United States. We stumbled upon this newly opened restaurant located in the Boca Raton Town Center Mall at lunchtime on a Monday. The dining room and bar were bustling with friendly, energetic denim-clad staff sporting t-shirts with positive one and two-word messages such as “Honest”, “Nurture” and “Shine On”.

The menu boasts a large and seasonal selection of fresh produce-filled dishes, cocktails, health tonics, lemonades and teas featuring freshly juiced fruits and additions such as matcha. We noticed the mixologist never seemed to stop making these beverages the whole time we were there.

The overall scene has an open-air feel to it, relaxed and casual, yet lively with the constant flow of staff carrying beautifully presented and colorful food and drinks through the dining room, which is decorated in a modern eco style with lots of fresh plants surrounding cozy tables and banquettes.

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The menu offers items marked vegan in almost every category. We were pleased to see a tempeh BLT and dishes featuring healthful whole food protein sources like quinoa, hemp seeds and edamame, just to name a few.

We started with the soup of the day, a simple vegetable minestrone, which we were advised was vegan without the parmesan garnish.

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For our lunch we shared the vegan grilled artichoke pesto pizza with almond ricotta. The crust was thin, light and crispy, topped with fresh spinach, artichokes and slices of summer squash. The pesto tasted freshly made and the creamy almond ricotta had a bright and clean flavor, with just a hint of lemon. The pizza was definitely large enough for two people to split for lunch with the cup of soup as a starter.

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The dessert menu offered three vegan selections on this day. Vanilla ice cream, rhubarb crumble, and banana chia pudding.

I know True Food Kitchen will become a standard in our restaurant rotation with its creative vegan dishes, refreshing made to order beverages and excellent service.

Next time we will save room for dessert!

 

Pros: Fresh, creative, vegan menu items, Friendly, energetic staff, Contemporary, spacious decor and casual atmosphere

Cons: High noise level during peak hours, Serves meat

If you don’t already know the website happycow.net, click on this link and get up to speed with the best resource for locating vegan and veg-friendly restaurants, bakeries and stores throughout the U.S.

After stumbling upon this new restaurant in my area with vegan options, I decided to become a happycow.net contributor and added True Food Kitchen. I suggest you do the same and you will be providing a great service to us all!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

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It goes without saying that this time of the year begs for pumpkin spice, especially on weekend mornings. These pancakes are so moist and sweet with just the right amount of warm autumn spice. The recipe calls for pumpkin pie spice and I didn’t have any on the shelf, but not to fear, I made my own with pantry spices. The recipe follows.

Double up and keep a batch in the freezer for later!

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Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

                                                 based on a recipe from  minimalistbaker.com

Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup packed pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup flour (I used white whole wheat)

Method:

Whisk together wet ingredients and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients then stir into wet ingredients just until well-blended.

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Heat a cast iron griddle and cook just like any other pancake recipe. Serve with vegan butter and real maple syrup (of course).

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Serving suggestion: With a big scoop of tofu scramble!

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Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice

1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves

 

 

Vegan Pecan Bars

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Oh, my gosh! Scrolling through my reader the other day I came across this delicious recipe from Kaitlyn at myconsciouskitchen.com and was immediately inspired! I dropped everything and made it my mission to not only bake these sweet, nutty, layered cookie bars, but to photograph the process and post about it!

First, I preheated my oven to 325 and  gathered my ingredients for the bottom layer (the cookie part). I decided I would double up and make this part a bit thicker, kind of like a shortbread crust.

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Simple, simple. All stuff from the pantry. For the shortening, however, I substituted Earth Balance Buttery Stick.

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I mixed all the dry ingredients together with the fat, like a biscuit dough, then added the cool water, just until it was well-combined then pressed it out into an 8 x 8 inch pan, lined with a sheet of parchment paper and oiled with cooking spray. I baked it until the crust was firm and lightly browned, like a cookie, then set it aside to cool for about 20 minutes.

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Next, the ingredients for the filling. The flax egg takes a little forethought, but again, super-simple to put together while the crust cools.

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I mixed together everything with a whisk, folded in the chopped pecans, then straight in the oven.

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After 40 minutes, I checked it, then gave it another 5 minutes. It looked perfect. I allowed the pan to cool on a rack for a  couple of hours so I would get nice, clean slices.

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I ran a knife edge around the inside of the pan before carefully lifting out, then cut into servings.

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The verdict: Sweet and sticky and delicious! Like a combination of pecan pie and your most tender, buttery shortbread cookie. Perfect served warmed with a scoop of non-dairy vanilla, or as-is. We particularly enjoy a square straight from the freezer!

This one is definitely a keeper! Thanks so much, Kaitlyn! Find the full recipe HERE

 

Vegan Pumpkin (or Sweet Potato) Pie

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This is hands-down the best pumpkin pie recipe out there! The sweet, creamy filling is firm without being dry, and simple as a smoothie to put together. Perfectly spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, this pie will be the star of your holiday table!

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

(recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

Ingredients:

3 cups pumpkin or sweet potato puree ( I used sweet potato here)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup soy or other non-dairy milk

4 tsp. canola or other vegetable oil

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

pinch ground cloves

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. agar powder (see note below)

Pastry for 1 single-crust pie

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

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Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and combine until very smooth.

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Spread evenly into pie shell and bake in middle of center oven rack for 60-65 minutes.

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Let cool for at least four hours before cutting to allow filling to set. Perfect!

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*Note: Agar powder is a vegetarian substitute for gelatin. If you can’t find it at your local natural foods store, grab it online through amazon.com

 

 

 

 

David Lynch’s Quinoa With Broccoli

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I found myself inspired the other night by David Lynch’s short film, Quinoa, included as a special feature on his Inland Empire DVD. Filmed in black and white, in his own kitchen, the innovative filmmaker and artist leads us step-by- step through the preparation of one of his favorite dinners, quinoa with broccoli.

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While the dish cooks, Lynch takes a break on his porch with a glass of wine and a cigarette and tells us a story about his 1965 train ride from Yugoslavia to Italy. So random, yet so fascinating. So Lynch.

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Quinoa with Broccoli

from the short film, Quinoa by David Lynch

 

Ingredients:

A scant 1/2 cup quinoa, dry

Water for cooking

pinch of salt

1 small vegetable bouillon cube, cut into pieces

3/4 cup organic broccoli florets

Braggs liquid aminos, to taste

Olive oil, extra virgin, to taste

Method:

Fill a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan with about an inch of fresh water. Set it over a nice, hot flame and bring to the boil with a pinch of sea salt. Stir in the quinoa and reduce flame to low. Cover and simmer for 9 minutes.

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After 9 minutes, lift the lid and add the broccoli. Cover and continue to steam over low heat for another 8 minutes.

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Remove from heat and add the cut up bouillon cube directly into quinoa and stir until dissolved.

Taste for salt, then add liquid aminos and a splash of olive oil to taste. Serve immediately.

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Makes 1 large portion.

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Hemp Seed Parmesan

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Here’s a simple three-ingredient addition to pizza, pasta, salads, veggies and anywhere else you want a  sprinkle of savory flavor.

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Hemp Seed Parmesan

¼ cup Hemp seeds (or hearts)
2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast
¼ tsp. Himalayan Pink Salt

 

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Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Never-Fail Brown Rice

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I know, it seems simple, right? What could be easier than rice and water? You’d be surprised at how many ways there are to mess up rice cookery. I know, because that was me, before I found the best method outside of a rice cooker for preparing perfectly cooked brown rice.

It’s called the pasta method, and it’s just like it sounds. Fill up a big pot with salted water  like you are getting ready to boil spaghetti. When the water comes to a full rolling boil, stir in your brown rice and let it continue to boil, careful to regulate the heat so it doesn’t boil over!

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I always use my windup timer. Set for 30-35 minutes. Check a few grains after 30.

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Just like pasta, after checking for doneness, drain and use immediately or rinse with cool water and refrigerate for later use.

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So easy!! The grains are perfectly cooked, tender, separate and never sticky.

Use this method and I promise you will never over or under-cook brown rice again!

Fancy Potatoes

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Okay, we’ve established potatoes are cheap, vegan eats. They are also whole and perfect in their natural state. Although I wouldn’t recommend eating them raw, they cook up in so many delicious ways.

A plain old baked potato is fine, but if you’re looking to elevate your side dish a bit, this recipe can really spice things up at the table. It’s actually easier than it looks!

Hassleback Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized russet potatoes

1 tbsp. dairy-free butter or margarine, melted

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp garlic granules or powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Line a small baking tray with aluminum foil.

Wash and dry potatoes, then cut a series of horizontal slices about 1/8 inch wide and going only 2/3 of the way through the potato, so it holds together, but the gaps open wide enough to slip the seasoning in between.

Mix together the seasonings and the butter and oil, then rub the potatoes all over with the mixture, getting it in between the slices well.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, uncovered, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. You may wish to serve with a bit more seasoned butter, as potatoes are very absorbent.

 

 

 

House Vinaigrette

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Sometimes I just want a simple, yet tasty vinegar and oil dressing for my salad. This is the classic recipe we were taught at culinary school. You can dress it up or keep it basic. The variations are endless.

House Vinaigrette

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 tsp dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Peel and crush garlic clove and add to vinegar. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, then remove the garlic and discard. Whisk in the mustard and then slowly whisk in the oil in a thin stream until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Tofu Scramble

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Tofu scramble, when I reflect on my day to day cooking, is probably the recipe I cook most often at home and for clients. It’s quick, easy and versatile. Delicious on its own, it also lends itself well to sandwiches, burritos, casseroles…you name it.

And this recipe is SO tasty and good it’s a staple on my  menus. I think you will agree this recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the best!

Scrambled Tofu 

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Buffalo Chickpea Tenders

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Okay, I’ve really done it this time! I know there are vegan variations on chicken wings and I’ve tried them all. But this. This is different.

What I did:

I took Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s tried and true recipe for chickpea cutlets and formed them into tenders and served them with homemade buffalo and ranch sauces.

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Here’s what I like best about this version. The texture. These tenders have a real “chew” without being dry along with an excellent flavor that actually tastes kind of like its traditional counterpart.

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Oh, and did I mention they are so, so easy to prepare? Thank you once again, oh mighty Isa!!

Chickpea Cutlets

Oh, and in case you don’t have recipes for buffalo and ranch sauces, she’s got that covered, too. These are recipes in my regular rotation:

Isa’s Buffalo and Ranch Sauce Recipes

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Dan Dan Noodles

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Nowadays you can pretty much Google search any recipe, type the word ‘vegan’ in front of it and come up with something good. I do this as a matter of course when I have something in mind I really want to make.

Browsing noodle dish recipes for ease of execution and simplicity of ingredients, I came across this creative and healthful new addition to my repertoire on Caroline Phelps website, Pickled Plum.

This spicy Asian noodle recipe is super-simple to make. After cooking and draining my thin, whole wheat spaghetti, I blitzed the sauce ingredients in the blender. Sauce done. Everything after that went super-fast.

IMG_5800.jpgBrowning the mushrooms and celery over high heat.

IMG_5802.jpgI added thawed edamame for texture and protein along with the scallions.

IMG_5806.jpgWarming the sauce with noodles and spinach. I used almond butter instead of peanut.

IMG_5808.jpgIt all comes together!

This is a good veggie-ful weeknight dinner option. It will go even faster if you make the sauce and cook the noodles ahead, like maybe the night before, or use leftover spaghetti from Italian night.

Find the full recipe HERE

 

 

Coconut Chana Saag

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Here I am turning out a lovely pot full of Indian goodness called Coconut Chana Saag. Super simple when you have the spices handy. The rest is just basic cookery, like any other dish.

Coconut Chana Saag

1 tablespoon Coconut oil
½ med Onion, yellow, diced
1 ½ cloves Garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Ginger, fresh, minced
1 tablespoon Curry powder
½ teaspoon Salt
Pepper
¼ teaspoon Anise seeds or fennel
⅛ teaspoon Garam Masala
¼ teaspoon Cumin
⅛ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
12 ounces Tomatoes,whole, canned
30 ounces Chickpeas
4 ounces Lacinto Kale, chopped

Finish with:
7 ounces Coconut milk
1 tablespoon Lime juice
2 tablespoons Cilantro, chopped

Method:

Saute the aromatics and spices:

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Add tomatoes and simmer to blend flavors:

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Add the other stuff and simmer until heated through, then finish with the last three ingredients, stirring in off the heat.

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That really wasn’t hard…and the flavor is phenomenal. Home-cooked Indian food can be way more delicious and fresh tasting than what you purchase from a restaurant. You control the oil, the salt and the level of heat you prefer. What’s better than that?

The full recipe, courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz via theguardian.

 

Hearts of Palm Cakes with Tomato-Caper Remoulade

Image Credit: Melanie daPonte

This recipe is hands-down the menu item my clients request most often! Light, but filling these vegetable cakes are actually loaded with protein in the form of quinoa flakes that help hold it all together.

With a little fresh greenery and a bit of sauce, you’ve got yourself a meal!

HEARTS OF PALM CAKES

(6 servings)

14 OZ HEARTS OF PALM, DRAINED
1 STALK CELERY
½ CUP CARROT, DICED
½ CUP ONION, RED, DICED
½ CUP BELL PEPPER, RED, DICED
2 TBSP PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF, CHOPPED
2 TSP OLD BAY SEASONING
1.5 OZ VEGANAISE
1 CUP QUINOA FLAKES

1.DRAIN HEARTS OF PALM AND LIGHTLY PULSE IN FOOD PROCESSOR, PRESERVING TEXTURE. TRANSFER TO LARGE MIXING BOWL. :

2.PULSE VEGETABLES TO CHOP AND ADD TO BOWL WITH HEARTS OF PALM. MIX IN VEGANAISE, SEASONING AND QUINOA FLAKES. LET REST, REFRIGERATED FOR AT LEAST 20 MINUTES.:

3. FORM INTO PATTIES AND BAKE ON GREASED PARCHMENT IN 400 DEGREE OVEN 15 MINUTES, THEN FLIP AND SPRAY WITH OIL, BAKING ANOTHER 15 MINUTES, UNTIL FIRM.

Tomato-Caper Remoulade

¼ cup Vegan Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Chili sauce or ketchup
1 ½ teaspoons Mustard, Creole
1 ½ teaspoons Olive oil
¾ teaspoon Hot sauce
1 ½ teaspoons Lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 med Scallion, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons Parsley, flat leaf
1 ½ teaspoons Olives, green, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons Celery, chopped
¼ clove Garlic, minced
⅛ teaspoon Chili powder
¼ teaspoon Salt
⅛ teaspoon Pepper, black
¼ teaspoon Capers, minced

Mix all ingredients together by hand and allow flavors to blend for 30-60 minutes before serving.

Mushroom Bourguignon

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Well, isn’t this fancy? A classical French dish turned vegan!

Warm, savory and satisfying– this rich stew is filled with vegetables, potatoes and hearty mushrooms, simmered with red wine and fresh thyme leaves.

If you really want to go top shelf, bake a nice little puff pastry top hat!

Mushroom Bourguignon

1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 ½ Carrots, diced
½ large Onion, yellow, diced
½ cup Onions, pearl, peeled
1 cup Mushrooms, cremini, halved
½ cup Mushrooms, button, halved
½ cup Walnuts, toasted
½ 1 large Potato, russet, diced
½ cup Peas, frozen
2 cloves Garlic, roasted
1 ½ cups Red wine, Pinot Noir preferred
¼ cup Vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Tomato paste
3 sprigs Thyme, fresh, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon Sea salt
¼ teaspoon Pepper, black
1 tablespoon Earth Balance, softened
1.5 tablespoons Flour, all purpose
1 tablespoon Brown rice syrup ( I used agave nectar)

Method:
1.Heat oil and add carrots, yellow onion and pearl onions, cook for about 3 minutes to start browning. Add mushrooms and walnuts and cook for about 3 minutes.:

2.Add potato, peas and garlic and stir. Add wine, vegetable broth, tomato paste, thyme, sea salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook over low heat for about 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.:

3.While vegetable mixture is cooking, whisk together room temperature butter and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.:

4.After about 30 minutes of cooking add brown rice syrup and buter and flour mixture to pot and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes over low heat. Let cook for up to an hour if you have time.:

Recipe Source:  The Spork-Fed Cookbook by Jenny Engel and Heather Goldsmith

Summer Tempeh Sammies

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Okay, everyone knows tempeh is good for you. At first, I didn’t know what to do with it. I cut it up and slapped it in a skillet. And guess what? Yuck!

My dilemma in the beginning was how to make it taste good.  That is never a problem nowadays. First: You’ve gotta get with a good brand. Westsoy is the only brand I buy. Why? Because it is never bitter. If you can’t get ahold of Westsoy, no worries, simply fabricate your tempeh into slices or chunks or whatever size you need for your recipe and steam it for 20 minutes. That should do the trick.

Secondly: Marinate, marinate, marinate. If you really want good flavor, I think it’s the best way. Here is an awesome marinade from our good friends at Thug Kitchen. What? You’ve never heard of Thug Kitchen? You’re welcome.

Here’s the recipe (which for some reason has been removed from the site, but you should visit anyway. I forgive you, Michelle.  www.thugkitchen.com 

This marinade is zippy! That’s the best word to describe the tangy, garlicky, savory punch in the taste buds it delivers. One word of caution, though–if you are serving more than two people, double the recipe because it goes fast!
Thug Kitchen’s (Secret) Summer Tempeh Sammies
Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces of tempeh
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Marinade:
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar (chill out, that shit isn’t expensive but you can use apple cider vinegar if you already have that at home)
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite smoky hot sauce (something with chipotle pepper is fucking delicious)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic

Method:

Cut tempeh width wise into about 1/3-1/2 inch pieces (16 pieces). Marinate in shallow container for at least 30 minutes, no longer than 60 minutes. :

Brown tempeh in oil for 4-6 minutes each side. Moisten pan with marinade.

Serve on sandwiches with sundried tomato spread or your favorite mayo 🙂

Here are the pics:

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Black Bean Fajita Bowl with Cilantro-Lime Chimichurri

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I had an opportunity recently to work with a local vegan restaurant, helping them come up with new dishes to feature. This is one of the best-selling specials to come out of this project. The chimichurri and the crispy tortilla strips really elevate this simple, healthy dish into something extraordinarily delicious!

BLACK BEAN FAJITA BOWL

INGREDIENTS:

8 OZ BELL PEPPERS, MIX, RED, GREEN, YELLOW
2 OZ ONION, RED, JULIENNED
⅔ CUP BLACK BEANS, COOKED
2 CUPS QUINOA, COOKED
2 TBSP OLIVE OIL
2 CORN TORTILLAS, JULIENNED
½ cup CHIMICHURRI (recipe follows)
2 tbsp. CILANTRO, FRESH, CHOPPED

METHOD:
1.PREPARE CHIMICHURRI AND SET ASIDE.:
2.PREPARE BEANS AND QUINOA, KEEPING WARM FOR SERVICE.:
3.FRY JULIENNED TORTILLA STRIPS IN HOT OIL UNTIL CRISP. DRAIN AND SPRINKLE LIGHTLY WITH SALT.:
4.SAUTE/STIR-FRY BELL PEPPERS OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT UNTIL COLOR BRIGHTENS AND THEY SOFTEN SLIGHTLY. ADD ONIONS AND CONTINUE TO SAUTE UNTIL TRANSLUSCENT. :
5.PLACE 1 CUP QUINOA IN A BOWL. TOP WITH FAJITA PEPPERS AND ONIONS, FOLLOWED BY BLACK BEANS.:
6.DRIZZLE DISH WITH CHIMICHURRI AND GARNISH WITH TORTILLA STRIPS AND CILANTRO.:

CILANTRO-LIME CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

½ CUP CILANTRO, FRESH
¼ CUP PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF
¼ CUP OLIVE OIL
⅛ CUP LIME JUICE
1 TSP MINCED GARLIC
1 TBSP AGAVE NECTAR
¼ TSP CUMIN
½ TSP SEA SALT
⅛ TSP BLACK PEPPER, GROUND

PUREE ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER. USE IMMEDIATELY OR STORE COVERED IN REFRIGERATOR.

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Vegan Samosas with Mint Chutney and Sweet Tamarind Glaze

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A party favorite, these samosas are fun and easy to make and bake. They also freeze well, so when you’re in the mood, prep a big batch and store for whenever.

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Samosas with Mint Chutney and Sweet Tamarind Glaze

Ingredients:

Dough:

3 cups Flour, all purpose
1 tbsp. Curry powder
¾ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking powder
¾ tsp. Water, cold
2 ounces Earth Balance, cut into small pieces
¼ cup Shortening

Filling:
2 pounds Potatoes, russet, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 med Onion, chopped fine
1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh grated
½ each Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. Coriander, ground
¾ tsp. Garam Masala
1 tsp. Cumin seeds, toasted
2 tbsp. Water
1 tbsp. Lemon juice
1 cup Peas, frozen, thawed
3 tbsp. Cilantro, finely chopped

Sweet Tamarind Glaze:
¼ cup Apricot jam
½ tsp. Tamarind paste
1 tbsp. Cilantro, chopped

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Method:

1. Mix dough using biscuit method (15 min.) Wrap and chill (1 hour).
2. While dough is chilling, make filling (35 minutes). Boil potatoes until just tender. Drain immediately. Toast cumin seeds then saute onions in olive oil unti lightly browned. Add seasonings, jalapeno and ginger. Saute about 1 minute then add the water and stir until most of water is absorbed. Preheat oven to 400.
3. Finish with peas, lemon juice and cilantro. Taste for seasonings, then immediately transfer to container or sheet tray and quick-chill in freezer.
4. Form and Fill (30 minutes). Roll out dough one half at a time on lightly floured surface into a large rectangle, large enough to fold lengthwise into thirds, then cut on the folds. From the three strips, cut squares, about 2 x 2 each. Spoon about 1/2 to 1 tbsp filling into the center and fold over diagonally. Press edges with a fork to seal.
5. Make dipping sauce (5 minutes). Mix together first two ingredients on the stove to warm together. Run through a sieve or puree in bullet then add cilantro. Taste for salt.
6. Bake on parchment sheet tray for 20 minutes. Cool about 5 minutes before serving.

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Recipe takes 1 1/2 hours to complete. Add additional 30 minutes (roll, form and fill) for doubling and another 30 minutes for every multiple after that.

Mint Chutney

recipe courtesy foodviva.com

Throw all this stuff in your magic bullet. You won’t regret it!!

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1 cloves garlic

2 green chili peppers,  seeded and chopped ( I used 1/2 of a serrano pepper)

2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. sugar (optional)

1/4 tsp salt

1-2 tbsp water

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Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

This is one of those ‘I can’t believe it’s vegan’ recipes! Looking for ways to apply my new discovery, Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, I stumbled  upon this recipe: click heresalted  vegan chocolate chip cookies on Food52.com.

Turns out, these are the tastiest vegan chocolate chip cookies I have ever baked! I believe the secret is in chilling the dough overnight. Also, I decided to bump up the flavor with a teaspoon of vanilla and reduce the water by one teaspoon.

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Here’s the other thing: Unlike many, many vegan cookie recipes, this one uses no egg substitutes, no flax, or mashed banana or xanthan gum, or arrowroot powder or any  exotic ingredient that would send you digging through the shelves at the health food store.

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Just simple ingredients. The cookies taste just the real thing, because they are!! Procedurally, this recipe is fantastically simple, too. A real gift. Wet into dry. That’s it.

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The only real challenge? The wait. But I handled that. I let the dough chill for about four hours then scooped out and baked just four cookies. I had to know if they would suffer for the shorter time in the fridge.

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Turns out, they were delicious. A bit puffy, but still very, very good. Kind of like Chip’s Ahoy.

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The next day, however, I baked four more cookies from the fully chilled dough, pressing each scoop with my fingers to flatten a bit before baking. This batch turned out more like homemade Toll House cookies. The flavor was deeper, the cookie more crisp and brown-sugary. So delicious. So, was it worth the wait? Definitely.

I formed the remaining cookies and froze them on a sheet tray. Afterward I stored them in a covered container in the freezer. Now anytime I want a cookie or two I can just pop them in the oven. This recipe’s base seems to lend itself to variations as well. I look forward to creating more flavors in the future.

I hope you give this one a try.

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Easy Enchilada Sauce

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In my experience, you can stuff a burrito with just about anything. But the sauce…now, the sauce can make it or break it for me.

Here’s one of my essential recipes. It’s quick and easy and tasty. I pour this rich, tomato-garlic-cumin sauce  over enchiladas, burritos, tacos–even drizzle it over nachos.  I hope you give it a try!

Easy Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients:

4 tbsp. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour ( all-purpose flour works fine, too)
¼ cup Canola oil
3 tbsp. Chili powder
3 tsp. Cumin, ground
1 ¼ tsp. Salt
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Hot water
14.5 ounces Tomato sauce

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Method:

Brown flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly to prevent over-browning.  Carefully add spices and oil, stirring to avoid lumps. Slowly add water and tomato sauce. Stir until smooth. Simmer to desired consistency. Check for salt and add a bit of ground cayenne pepper if you want to make it spicy.

Yield: A whole lotta sauce, about 4 cups, so unless you’re making a big ole mess of enchiladas, you may wish to cut the ingredients in half.

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Recipe Test: Quinoa Pancakes

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

 

Here’s the thing about pancakes…I love the way they taste, but not so much how I feel afterward. All that doughy, sweet carbohydrate goodness seems such a decadent indulgence.

I’m always alert for a loophole–a healthier way to enjoy that sticky maple-buttery experience without feeling like I just consumed a loaf of bread in one sitting. When I came across this RECIPE (courtesy feastingonfruit.com) the immediate thought came to my mind: Quinoa=Protein. High-protein, low-carbohydrate, low-fat always feels good in my tummy. This recipe is also oil-free.

But, then, I thought…how will they taste without any gluten? Will they hold together yet not be dry and weird? Since I have quinoa flakes in my pantry anyway, I decided to see for myself.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The recipe suggests using a blender, so I thought, since I am cutting the recipe in half I’ll just use my Magic Bullet. BAD IDEA.

I would mix this recipe in a bowl, like any other pancake batter. Otherwise, you will leave behind a lot of it, due to its thick, paste-like consistency. I also substituted apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice because it was easier and cheaper.

I transferred the whole mess into a bowl and added more milk and a bit more maple syrup to achieve a smoother, spreadable batter. I also added a pinch of salt, because the recipe didn’t call for any. Salt adds a pleasing flavor contrast to the maple syrup.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The cooking was good. A nice, even browning without sticking to the griddle, which I  sprayed with a light coating of oil between each cake.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The result? A very good, gluten-free, high-protein, low-fat pancake. After tasting, I decided I would have added more salt, though–beyond a pinch. Otherwise there is no flavor at all.

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I added a little extra Earth Balance spread and this fixed the issue. The texture is good, too. Not dry or grainy or weird. Just light and absorbent. The half-recipe made three medium-sized cakes. I ate two of them and still felt good, not bloated.

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My final assessment:

An excellent representation of a ‘healthier’ way to pancake, but quinoa is exorbitantly expensive. If money is of no importance, and you want to impress your friends and family at brunch, go for it.

But…there are lot of other gluten-free pancake options and much, much cheaper. I dare say, even tastier. Here’s one in particular I like, made in a blender with bananas and oats.

GLUTEN-FREE BANANA-OAT PANCAKES

What’s your favorite way to pancake??

 

Golden Indian Dal Soup

 

Dal is my go-to comfort food. A warm, savory, nourishing meal, filled with creamy, protein-rich lentils and healing turmeric–tempered with cumin seeds, ginger and garlic.

GOLDEN DAL SOUP

 

INGREDIENTS:

½ CUP RED LENTILS
3 CUPS WATER
1 TSP SALT
½ TSP TURMERIC
⅛ TSP CAYENNE PEPPER
2 TBSP CANOLA OIL
½ TSP CUMIN SEEDS
1 TBSP MINCED GARLIC
1 TBSP GINGER, GRATED
½ CUP ONION, YELLOW, FINE DICE
½ CUP TOMATOES, CANNED, FINE DICE

METHOD:

  1. RINSE AND DRAIN LENTILS. COMBINE WITH WATER IN SAUCEPAN.:

2. STIR IN SALT, TURMERIC AND CAYENNE AND BRING TO ROLLING BOIL OVER MEDIUM HEAT. SKIM OFF AND DISCARD THE CLOUDY WHITE FOAM THAT APPEARS ON THE SURFACE. :

3. REDUCE HEAT TO LOW AND SIMMER, UNCOVERED, FOR 20 MINUTES, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY.:

4. MEANWHILE, HEAT OIL IN FRYING PAN OVER HIGH HEAT FOR ABOUT 30 SECONDS. ADD CUMIN SEEDS AND COOK FOR 1 MINUTE, UNTIL SEEDS BEGIN TO SIZZLE AND POP.:

5. ADD GARLIC, GINGER, ONION AND TOMATO AND TOSS GENTLY FOR 1 MINUTE. REDUCE HEAT TO MEDIUM AND COOK 5 MINUTES, TOSSING OCCASIONALLY. SET ASIDE.:

6. ADD ONION MIXTURE TO LENTILS AND CONTINUE COOKING 5-10 MINUTES, OR UNTIL LENTILS ARE COOKED. STIR WELL AND REMOVE FROM HEAT. TASTE FOR SALT AND SERVE IMMEDIATELY OR HOLD WARM.

NOTE: IF YOU PREFER A SMOOTHER TEXTURE, PULSE WITH AN IMMERSION BLENDER OR POUR INTO A COUNTERTOP BLENDER AND PUREE. I OFTEN PUREE HALF TO PRESERVE SOME TEXTURE, OR PUREE THE LENTILS BEFORE ADDING THE AROMATICS.

Muesli!!

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For some reason I’ve always believed Muesli was this mysteriously complicated cereal made in Europe using some super-secret old-world technique, unapproachable by the average person. Like maybe they hand-rolled the oats or something. Why else would the little box offered by that one brand perch so stoically high on the grocery shelf all by itself with its exorbitant price tag?

Turns out, Muesli is nothing but naked and un-toasted granola! This, in my mind, makes it an easier and healthier choice than granola. Why? And don’t get me wrong–I am a true granola lover from way back before it was cool–but, you know and I know even homemade granola can be full of sugar and sometimes full of fat. And sometimes, even full of sodium.

But this. This is not that. It is a bowl full of whole foods, in their natural state, completely unadorned. No sugar, no added fat or salt. Just clean, pure energy.

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Cooking a serving of oatmeal in the microwave takes 2-3 minutes. Putting together this cereal takes about the same amount of time and you have breakfast for the week!

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That’s it! No soaking, no cooking, no need to heat up the oven. This recipe is completely adjustable to your tastes, with an endless variety of nut, seed, fruit and cereal combinations.

Yield:  10 cups (that’s 10 1-cup servings or 13 3/4 cup servings). Store refrigerated.

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I topped my first bowl of homemade muesli with fresh chopped strawberries and non-dairy milk.

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There is so much going on in this bowl!! So many textures and flavors. It’s crunchy and chewy, sweet and tangy from the fruit and then the little edge of cacao nib influence is a pleasant surprise against the fresh berries.

A healthy and delicious breakfast to take you through the morning feeling satisfied and energized!

 

 

 

 

 

Original Ginger (O.G) Refresher

I am inspired once again by True Food Kitchen. This gingery, bubbly, slightly sweet and sour elixir  has become my very favorite brunch (or any time of day) “mock-tail”. It’s so easy to make!

Ginger-infused water is a game-changer. I keep a jar of it in the fridge and add it to my smoothies, tonics and even to dressings and sauces that need a little kick of  fresh ginger’s distinctive heat and flavor!

Ginger-Infused Water

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh ginger root, roughly chopped (organic, if available)

4 cups filtered drinking water

Method:

Combine in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve or nut milk bag (that’s what I use). Keep in airtight container, refrigerated.

Note: This makes a lot of ginger water and a little goes a long way flavor-wise. If you don’t plan to use it up within a week, half the recipe.


Original Ginger (O.G.) Refresher (inspired by True Food Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Ginger-infused water

1-2 tablespoons liquid sweetener, to taste (agave, maple or simple syrup works best)

1/4 fresh lime for squeezing

6 ounces bubbly water of your choice (I use tonic water)

Method:

Pour the ginger water into a 16 ounce glass and with a spoon, stir in the sweetener until dissolved. Taste for sweetness and add more if you like. Squeeze in the lime juice and throw away the peel part if it is not organic, otherwise you could just let it float around and look pretty.

Add ice and stir, then finish with the bubbly water to fill the glass. One more gentle stir, then enjoy!

Note: This is not the exact recipe from TFK, but I think it tastes pretty close. I also think it would be good with fresh mint.

Cheers!!

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Vegan Gumbo with Homemade Andouille, A Passion Project

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Every once in awhile I find myself overwhelmed by the urge to make something I know will be complicated. And I make it. Because it’s worth the extra time and effort.

And because I know there’s nowhere else I can get it but in my own little kitchen.

So, here it is. If you have a bit of extra time on your hands I highly recommend this savory, warming, stick-to-your-ribs recipe for gumbo that tastes every bit as good as what they make down on the bayou.

Just two notes right up front: There is no okra in my gumbo. Because I don’t like it. Feel free to add as liberally as you like, though. The other thing…although I chose to make my own sausage, there are packaged versions of andouille or similar sausage you may want to pick up instead.

Vegan Gumbo

Recipe courtesy eatfigsnotpigs.com (with slight modifications)

(Servings: 4)

Ingredients:

½ cup all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. Canola oil
½  Not Beef stock cube (or veggie, if you can’t find it in your store)
¾ cup Yellow Onion, chopped
½ cup Green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup Celery, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 1/2 tbsp. Earth Balance
2 cups Not Beef Stock (or veggie)
1 cup Stewed tomatoes
2 tbsp. Parsley, chopped

1 tsp. Thyme, dried
1 Bay leaves
1 tsp. Hot sauce
2 each Vegan andouille, sliced

1 cup white or red kidney beans
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning (I used Emeril’s Essence)
1 tsp. Gumbo File powder (ground sassafras leaves), optional
2  Scallions, sliced
3 cups Rice, Basmati, cooked

Method:

Start with your roux. Heat the oil and 1/2 bouillon cube over medium-low heat, preferably in a cast-iron dutch oven or deep skillet. Sprinkle in the flour and stir constantly until the mixture changes color from light to medium brown.  Be careful not to burn it!

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From this color…

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To this color!

Remove the roux from the pan into a heat-proof bowl and set aside.

Saute the veggies. Melting the margarine in the skillet, turn up the heat to medium-high and add the onion, celery and green peppers with a pinch of salt. Stir and cook until veggies are softened, about 8 minutes or so. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.

Now the easy part. Add the stock and tomatoes. With a rubber spatula, scrape all that lovely roux back into the pan. Over medium heat, cook and stir until well incorporated and thickened. If it gets too thick, add a bit more water or stock until the consistency is right.

Now the seasonings. Add the thyme, bay leaf, hot sauce and cajun spice and let simmer for a good 10 minutes on low. Give it a taste. Add a bit more spice or salt if you like.

Finish. Take your andouille slices and brown them off in a little oil in a separate skillet. This is an optional step, but I like the crisp outside that keeps the sausage from getting soggy too fast and the browned edges add color to the dish.

Drop the slices into your gumbo along with the kidney beans and allow to heat through while you chop up your garnishes–scallions and parsley. Add these right before serving and they will retain their color and fresh flavor.

The gumbo file powder is added after cooking, just a sprinkle for flavor. Serve over hot, cooked rice with a few more scallion slices.

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Notes From The Vegan Underground

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I’m still here, dear readers. Just focusing on work and other personal projects besides food.

Here are a few of my latest personal inspirations:

Caitlin Shoemaker, Food and Healthy Lifestyle Blogger

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This young lady has single-handedly re-inspired my cooking. That’s a big deal. She’s super-sweet and utterly obsessed with healthy lifestyle and healthful, tasty, whole food, low oil/no oil cooking.

In particular she has inspired my latest breakfast craze, the best granola recipe I’ve found so far and I’ve been eating and making granola for thirty years! There are so many more of her recipes in my queue just waiting to happen! Check her out on YouTube and her website, frommybowl.com  is pretty awesome as well!

Oat Milk

My latest discovery and I am so happy for it. I heard Michelle and Matt talking about oat milk on a recent Thug Kitchen podcast, Forked Up and I thought I would give it a try. Even the best store brand had added sugar so I decided to make my own.

A gamechanger! I first tried it with cheesecloth and then graduated to a nut milk bag which is phenomenal!

HOW TO MAKE OAT MILK from simpleveganblog.com.

Super-simple to make, just oats and water. The flavor is so pure and just works perfectly in recipes, too.

Till next time, friends!

Eat well and be well 🙂

Melanie

 

 

Sloppy Joe Sliders

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Here’s a new enlightened version of an old classic that is just perfect served in the traditional buns or over a bed of fresh-cooked grains.

Sloppy Joe Sliders

1 cup Cooked Lentils
1 cup Tempeh, crumbled
¼ Onion, large, chopped
½ med Green pepper, chopped
14 ounces Tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Brown sugar
⅛ teaspoon Garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon Salt
1/16 teaspoon Black pepper
6 Slider Buns

Method:

1.Saute peppers and onions until soft. Add tomato sauce and seasonings to blend well. Add tempeh and cooked lentils and simmer until flavors are well incorporated, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding salt or sugar.
2.Portion 1-2 tablespoons per slider and serve with sweet gherkin pickles as a garnish, if desired.

Deli-Style Potato Salad

 

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Here’s a plant-based side dish to bring to your Fourth of July get-together.  An enlightened egg-free version of a classic.

I promise no one will even suspect it’s egg-free!

Deli-Style Potato Salad

(from the official P.E.T.A. Website)

Ingredients:

6 medium potatoes, russet (if you use waxy potatoes, such as Redskin or Yukon, decrease cooking time to about 10 minutes)
½ cup vegan mayonnaise ( I prefer Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo)
¼ cup mustard, yellow
2 tbsp. vinegar (white or apple cider)
½ cup onion, white, chopped fine
½ cup celery, chopped fine
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Paprika for finishing (optional)

Method:
Cut potatoes into cubes and cook in boiling water 15-20 minutes. Drain and let cool completely. In a large bowl, combine with remaining ingredients. Sprinkle top with paprika.

 

 

The Best Plant-Based Cookbook is Waiting For You, And It’s Free!

 

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“Do you cook a lot?” asks the librarian behind the counter.

It’s after work, I’m in my chef jacket, stuffing a reusable shopping bag full of plant-based cookbooks I placed on hold a week or so ago.  A regular ritual for me.

“Um, yeah…I sure do. I’m a personal chef and I do a lot of recipe research here at the library!” I smile broadly as he helps me place yet one more gorgeously photographed hardback on my pile.

At home with my stack, I sit down in a comfy chair with a hot cup of tea and flip through one book at a time.

But I am not just looking at pretty pictures. I am on a mission. Seeking inspiration and also solid, no-nonsense recipes that I can modify or add to my regular repertoire.

What makes a good recipe, in my opinion?

  1. Reasonable number of ingredients. Reading a long list of stuff I need to buy/prep makes me exhausted before I even get started, so less is definitely better.
  2. Accessibility of ingredients. Can I find the items at my local grocery on a regular basis or are they seasonal or hard-to-find?
  3. Ease of preparation. Are there so many complicated recipe components that one dish takes two hours to cook? Unless it’s Christmas or I have committed my day to bread-baking or ravioli-making, that’s a deal-breaker for me.
  4. Recognition. Yes, familiarity. I have found for my clients, and for my family, we like to return to dishes and flavors again and again that are familiar to our experience. What says comfort to you?
  5. Cost. Some ingredients are just ridiculously expensive. Here is where you have to use your instinctual higher judgement. Some cookbook authors assume that money is no object on the quest for the perfect plant-based meal. Next.

Here are a couple highlights from this week’s haul:

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The Book of Veganish by Kathy Freston (2016)

Why? This cookbook offers simple, economical no-nonsense recipes and lots of great everyday advice on making the transition to a vegan, plant-based lifestyle. I especially appreciate the relaxed language and easy-to-read page layouts with colorful images and text boxes throughout. A great starter book.

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Natural Feasts by Ella Mills (2017)

Why? First, a disclaimer. When you open it up you know you are stepping into a world. It’s easy to lose your way amidst the lush, natural light, the soft-focus images of radiantly healthy women and men beaming lovingly at one another over rustically styled food and furnishings and hand-picked botanicals. You get the sense that everyone loves Ella. And by the end, you realize you want to be Ella.

But behind all the window-dressing, Ella puts out quality recipes. I enjoyed her previous and more basic “Simply Ella” cookbook because she really focuses on creative combinations of whole foods in her recipes. Most of her dishes are low in sugar and oil and include simple, easy to find and afford ingredients, like butterbeans. Yes, butterbeans!

I highly recommend exploring your local library’s inventory of cookbooks to discover the right one(s) for you. Key words really matter when researching the database. Try vegan, plant-based, whole food, vegetarian, healthy, meatless, for example. And don’t give up entirely on conventional cookbooks and magazines for recipe inspiration. There are many recipes that are incidentally plant-based (like salad dressings, barbecue and other condiments).

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The book business being what it is, publishers are looking to appeal to the widest audience, so don’t get hung up on labels. I have found many excellent vegan recipes hiding between the pages of lacto-ovo vegetarian cookbooks.

I have read that folks are cooking less nowadays, opting instead for grab n’ go meals, food delivery services, personal chefs (yay), restaurant dining and takeout  more often than not.

Nevertheless, for those of us who read them (and need them) as well as those of us who just like the pretty pictures, the plant-based cookbooks keep flying off the presses. And thank goodness for that!

 

 

 

 

John Legend’s Chili, Plant-Based Version

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I came across this recipe for chili in Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, “Cravings”. I decided to follow the recipe exactly (with a slight variation) just to find out what ole John is up to in the kitchen when he’s not at the piano working on another chart-topping single.

It’s super-simple if you’ve ever cooked a pot of soup. The recipe follows what I call standard procedure: saute the aromatics and vegetables, add seasonings and liquid, simmer and adjust seasonings. In this case I always save the beans for last, which I have pre-cooked, so they don’t fall apart.

I substituted Gardein meatless crumbles for the ground beef in John’s recipe and I would suggest taking it easy on the seasoning salt, depending on how much salt is in your tomato sauce. I also cut the original recipe’s measurement of 1 teaspoon ground red pepper down to 1/4 teaspoon, but you do you 🙂

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John Legend’s Chili

1 1/2 – 2 cups Gardein Meatless Crumbles
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp. seasoning salt (preferably Lawry’s)
3 tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 tbsp. garlic,minced
2 cans tomato sauce, 14.5 ounces each

2 cups water
2 cans Kidney beans, 14.5 ounces each
2 tbsp. brown sugar, light

Saute onions, mushrooms and garlic in a bit of oil or water.

Add seasonings, crumbles, tomato sauce and water. Bring to simmer until thickened.

Add beans and taste, adding more salt or spice as desired.

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Dixie Dharma Vegan Restaurant, Bakery and Bar, Orlando

 

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Breakfast at Dixie Dharma              Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

 

When traveling, we are always on the hunt for vegan eateries and this past weekend was no exception. iPhone technology has been a real game-changer in this regard and driving through the Orlando area we were able to nimbly avoid the Disney-bound traffic and score a real winner in Dixie Dharma vegan restaurant!

Market on South, which houses Dixie Dharma, is a vendor collective, located on the first floor of a small, gray two-story just off the interstate and abutting a picturesque and visibly gentrifying suburb of Orlando. The building itself seems oddly placed alongside an old barber shop with a gravel parking lot alongside, but don’t be put off by the funky surroundings. This place is not to be missed.

A small, but clean and cozy interior offers comfy, mismatched tables and chairs, a few booths and a short row of barstools at the counter, overlooking the open kitchen.

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Dixie Dharma interior, order counter/bakery          Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

 

We arrived early, around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. The restaurant was quiet, but the bakery cases were fully stocked with goods from Valhalla  and Valkyrie vegan bakeries.

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Dixie Dharma/Valhalla Bakery case                Photo credit:  Melanie daPonte

 

The cashier was friendly, attentive and fast! We ordered the dirty scramble and the biscuits and gravy along with two hot cups of coffee. While waiting for our food, we perused the various offerings for sale from local artists and artisans displayed on the shelves surrounding the dining room.

Meanwhile, the back of the kitchen bustled with energy as the row of cooling racks filled with fresh-baked cakes and cookies. Every now and then a baker would emerge, producing a huge iced and decorated layer cake to place in the cold display case with a price tag marked $50.

A line of eager patrons started to form as our food was delivered. Young, fit couples, some with baby strollers, many in athletic wear, an occasional smiling grandma in tow, ordered vegan doughnuts and coffee, seating themselves in a happy, relaxed smattering about the place.

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Dixie Dharma Dirty Scramble

 

The food was flavorful with generous portions! The dirty scramble in particular, I think, could have fed two or even three people for breakfast! The coffee tasted smooth and fresh. All in all,  one of the best vegan breakfasts I have ever eaten on the road.

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Dixie Dharma Biscuits and Gravy with Maple Bourbon Sausage           Photo: Melanie daPonte

 

The vibe was so low-key and comfortable I was sure we would return for a late lunch and a few choice baked goods before we headed for home.

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Dixie Dharma outdoor seating in front of building         Photo credit: Melanie daPonte


 

At lunch, the place was really at peak business with a long line waiting up front, but the staff was breezy and professional as they went about taking orders and delivering food to both seated diners and takeout customers.  We shared the chili dogs with ‘tater salad at one of the large picnic tables in the back yard.

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Dixie Dharma Chili Dawgs             Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

 

I can see why Dixie Dharma is famous for their vegan hot dog truck! The dogs were the best vegan franks I’ve ever tasted. I swear you couldn’t tell they were meatless. And the Indian-spiced chili was hearty and wholesome–filled with beans and lentils. A truly substantial meal before our drive back to Palm Beach County.

Saving the best for last, our visit couldn’t be complete without a sampling of the beautiful bakery offerings. There were just too many choices and I had to be reasonable, breaking it down logically. I have to be careful not to lose my head in the face of such a decadent display of sweet vegan goodness!

Although there were so many treats I wanted to sample,  I only had this one shot, so here is my selection:

Bourbon Chocolate Chunk

Thick, sweet bourbon vanilla buttercream chocolate chunk cookie sandwich.

Cake Slice

I fine wedge of chocolate layer cake expertly filled and iced with vanilla buttercream

(like birthday cake)

Lemon Bar

Lemon curd on a shortbread crust with crumb topping

Chocolate Brownie

Dark chocolate brownie, dipped in more melted chocolate

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Dixie Dharma/Valhalla Bakery selection              Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

 

It was a tough choice. Of course we had to try the cookies, and the cake and the buttercream and the brownies. The lemon bar was a wild card and I ordered it simply because I don’t like squeezing lemons and no vegan bakery in my town makes them!

What we didn’t order (this time):  Vegan cheesecake,  fruit cobbler, cupcakes, mini-cream pies, a chocolate-coated ‘Naimo(?)’ bar–which looked amazing, vegan doughnuts, a ‘brookie’ which is chocolate chip cookie dough baked on top of a brownie!! There’s more I am forgetting to be sure.

We we got home we sampled each item and they were delicious! Over time we have learned to manage these multiple item bakery sprees by cutting each item into small portions, say, the cookie sandwich into four quarters, and freezing them on a sheet tray, then transferring to an airtight container. Weeks later (or days) later we can enjoy them again.

Dixie Dharma was a delight. Wholesome, plant-based meals, a uniquely creative menu and presentations, outrageous, professionally-baked desserts, friendly, competent staff. They open at 8:00 a.m. and close at midnight!

We plan to make this outstanding vegan restaurant, bakery and artisan marketplace a regular destination every time we are in the Orlando vicinity!

DIXIE DHARMA WEBSITE

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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.

The Vegan Reuben Project

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I enjoy a personal culinary challenge. Especially one that results in good eats! I set out to create an old favorite from my pre-vegan days and I nailed it, if I do say so myself!

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This was a great opportunity to try my hand at baking my own rye bread as well as the corned “beef” recipe I’ve been meaning to try ever since I came across it in Brian McCarthy’s, “The Professional Vegan Cookbook”. The roast was easier than expected and turned out juicy and flavorful. The spices are on point!

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Baking my own bread is a favorite activity (when time allows) and rye was definitely a challenge. Even after three tries I don’t think I got the rise exactly as high I wanted, but it turned out delicious anyway!

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The thousand island dressing was a no-brainer to make, but is a crucial element in building the perfect Rueben!

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Vegan Corned Beef 

2 cups Vital Wheat Gluten
2 tbsp. Granulated onion
2 tbsp. Paprika
2 tbsp. Whole Fennel Seed, coarsely ground
2 tbsp. Caraway seeds, coarsely ground
1 tbsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cloves
1 tsp. Black pepper
1 cup Vegetable broth
½ cup Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Molasses
1 tbsp. Vinegar (white or ac)
Cheesecloth
String or twine

1. In a large pot, bring 1 gallon water to a simmer.
2. Whisk together dry ingredients in large bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in separate bowl. Combine wet with the dry until well combined.

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3. Form into a 5-inch by 8-inch loaf that will be about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Place on cheesecloth and roll up like a big flat rectangle tootsie roll (not too tight). Tie each end with a piece of string.

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4. Place in simmering water, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Take roast out of liquid and remove cheese cloth.:

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Serve warm in thin slices or chill for later. I froze half of my roast to enjoy another day.

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Vegan Andouille Sausage

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Here’s just the companion to my gumbo recipe, a tasty, spicy sausage to enhance the dish or slice up and fry with your morning tofu, your choice.

There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but trust me, the resulting flavor is well worth all the gathering! I would recommend doubling this recipe for your trouble and storing a few links in the freezer for later on.

Vegan Andouille Sausage

adapted from a recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups Vital Wheat Gluten
¼ cup Nutritional yeast
½ cup White beans
1 cup Veg stock
4 tsp. Garlic
2 tbsp. Soy sauce
1 tbsp. Tomato paste
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
2 tsp. Smoked paprika
1 tsp. Thyme, dried
1 tsp. Sweet paprika
1 tsp. Sage, rubbed
½ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Liquid smoke
¼ tsp. Black pepper
¼ tsp. Cayenne pepper

Method:

  1. Mash beans with fork until smooth. Add veg broth, soy sauce, tomato paste, and all spices and mix well. With a fork, mix in nutritional yeast and vital wheat gluten until a dough forms.
    2. Knead dough for a minute or two then cut into 4 equal pieces. Stretch and roll each piece into sausage shape and wrap in foil, twisting ends. Steam for 45 minutes.

Crispy Marinated Tofu with Braised Kale

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I can’t emphasize enough how tasty, simple and quick this recipe is. So much flavor, from so few ingredients!

Crispy Marinated Tofu with Braised Kale

Ingredients:

1 package extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 cup reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce

1 bunch green kale, torn into bite-sized pieces

1-2 tbsp. Olive oil

Method:

Prepare marinade. Mix soy sauce and brown sugar together and set aside. Slice tofu 1/2 inch thick slabs and then into squares. Place into container with marinade to cover. Marinate for  20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Salute tofu until brown and crisp, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove to plate and keep warm.

In hot skillet, add kale and saute until wilted, stirring constantly, adding remaining marinade halfway through and coating greens until mostly evaporated.

Plate and top with sautéed tofu. Serve immediately.

 

 

Vegan Creme Brûlée

 

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Yes, you read that right. Creme brûlée. Silky smooth and creamy sweet. And can I just mention, so easy that I memorized the recipe after the first time I made it?? Now I can just whip it up at the drop of a hat, using pantry staples. Sound to good to be true? Well, it’s true. So, check this out…

Vegan Creme Brûlée 

adapted from a recipe by Chloe Coscarelli

1 can full-fat coconut milk (14.5 oz)

1/2 cup sugar

pinch salt

1/8 tsp. ground turmeric (for color)

1/4 cup non-dairy milk, unsweetened

1/4 cup corn starch

1 tsp. vanilla

4 tsp. brown sugar (optional)

Method:

Stir together coconut milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to make sure sugar is fully dissolved.

Meanwhile, whisk together in a small bowl the cornstarch and milk. When coconut milk mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and slowly add the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly until custard is thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Transfer to dessert dishes and chill at least 3 hours before serving.

If you want to dress to impress, sprinkle a coating of brown sugar on top of each serving and caramelize with a kitchen torch until a crisp shell forms on top. Enjoy!

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One Big Vegan Pancake

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Sometimes I am in the mood for pancakes, but dread standing over the stove babysitting the griddle until all the batter is cooked. I actually chafe at the responsibility of seeing each cake safely through the journey until I can get that one or two on my plate. Sometimes the perceived commitment is just too much.

Using the ‘pan-cookie’ theory, I decided I would half my recipe and make this fluffy, sweet, colossal cake just for me. One and done!

One Big Pancake

Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tbsp. baking powder

1 tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)

1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk

1 tbsp. oil

Oil or pan spray for griddle

Non-dairy butter and maple syrup, honey or preserves for serving

Method:

Pre-heat large greased griddle or skillet over medium low.

Mix all dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Add wet ingredients and mix gently with a spoon, just until flour is dissolved. Do not beat! If batter is too thick add a bit more milk.

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When a droplet of water sizzles on the griddle or skillet, the pan is ready. Pour all batter at once onto surface of pan and spread around so it cooks evenly. Turn down heat if necessary to maintain thorough baking without burning the bottom of the cake.

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Not quite there yet…

When there are little holes all over the top of the pancake, it’s time to turn it over. You may need two spatulas to make this happen without breaking the cake! Let it cook another 3-5 minutes, then serve immediately!

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I did my best 🙂

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Restaurant Review: Toasted, Winter Park, FL

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Every time we travel up near Orlando  we make a point of having a meal at our favorite vegan restaurant in that area: Ethos Vegan Kitchen. But, on this particular day it was so jammed up with folks waiting for a table, upwards of 30-40 minutes, and we were so hungry, we decided to look around.

Siri brought up the next restaurant in the list, Toasted. What? How could this be vegan? It’s a grilled cheese and burger place. But, to our pleasant surprise, Toasted offers a full selection of creative vegan grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, salads and even rosemary truffle cheese fries! Yes, you read that right.

And here’s the thing…this is not Daiya or Follow Your Heart brand or even Chao cheese substitute. It’s something different that I have never tasted before and even in my forays into homemade cheese–I have never experienced a cheese substitute that tastes and has the mouthfeel of real melted cheese like this one. It’s a blend of pea protein and coconut milk, says the menu. And the bread is baked in-house!

I ordered the Fireball grilled cheese sandwich with sriracha and fresh tomatoes and slices of jalapeño. Boy, was it spicy and so, so good. The bread was crisp and buttery on the outside, without a hint of sogginess. The cheese, hot and melty, even better than I remember the conventional slices to be.

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Steve had the grilled vegetable and cheese sandwich. It was delicious, too–full of grilled, seasoned mushrooms, peppers and onions. And the rosemary truffle fries were one heck of a treat. As you can see by the photo, they look like real cheese fries and they tasted even better with the fresh herbs. Fantastic!

Oh, and the iced tea is brewed and tasted so fresh.

The service staff on this day were a group of energetic, pleasant, young adults. Ordering takes place at the front counter, you pour your own drink, the food is brought to your table when ready and they come back and clear away.

I have the feeling that next time we are in the neighborhood it may be a difficult choice between our usual vegan restaurant and our new favorite veg-friendly restaurant, Toasted.

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Kidney Bean-Quinoa Burgers with Easy Homemade Barbecue Sauce

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Okay, so I didn’t think about posting this recipe until I was plating it up for service. This was our dinner tonight. What I love about these burgers is that they come together so quickly and with pantry staples I always have hanging around. Bonus!

I don’t have any step-by-step process photos for this one, but I’ll throw in an extra recipe, just for fun, okay?

Kidney Bean-Quinoa Burgers

recipe courtesy Lindsay Nixon (Happy Herbivore)

 

Ingredients:

¾ cup cooked quinoa

1 14.5 ounce can kidney beans

2 tbsp. barbecue sauce

2 tbsp. ketchup

2 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce (or tamari)

1 tbsp. yellow mustard

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

½ tsp. paprika

1/3 cup vital wheat gluten

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain and mash beans then add remaining ingredients in the order listed. Mix together well and form into six patties. Bake on parchment-lined sheet tray for 8 minutes, then flip and bake another 5 minutes. The patties will firm up a bit more as they cool.

 

 

Easy Homemade Barbecue Sauce (no-cook)

Ingredients:

½ cup ketchup

1/4 cup molasses

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

 

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Makes about 1 cup of sauce.

 

 

 

 

Alternative Vegan Holiday Menus

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With the holiday season fast upon us–we, as conscious beings, want to participate in the festivities and merry-making and yet, trying to imitate long-held food traditions, albeit “vegan-style” can feel, well, a little regressive in light of everything we now know.

I have nothing against Tofurkey or Gardein or various seitan roasts.  And of course there’s the “Festival of Sides” as I like to call it. The “best of” parade of veggies, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and breads I have prepared and proudly brought to table over the years.

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But, if you want to try something really courageous, really unconventional– how about a theme menu? One that breaks the rules completely?

 

*Here are a few of my favorite vegan menus for alternative holiday (or anyday) celebrating:

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Soul Food Feast

Barbecue Ribz or Soy Curls

Macaroni and Cheeze

Simmered Greens

Corn Muffins

Sweet Potato Pie

 

 

Italian Feast

Antipasto Salad

Fresh Baguette or Focaccia

Big Pasta Dish: (Lasagna, Pasta Marinara with Meatballs or Sausage, Baked Ziti, etc.)

Tiramisu

 

Indian Feast

Vegetable Samosas

Big Curry Dish: (Chana Masala, Palak Paneer, Cashew Vegetable Korma)

Flat Breads

Cinnamon-Chai Rice Pudding

 

Thai Feast

Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

Cucumber Salad

Tofu Pad Thai or Red or Green Curry with Tofu and Vegetables

Mango or Coconut Ice Cream with Mango-Ginger Coulis

 

Chinese Feast

Pot Stickers

Spring Rolls

General Tso’s Tofu with Broccoli or Szechuan Stir Fry with Vegetables and Sesame GrilledTofu

Creamy Almond Pudding

 

*Stay tuned for recipes in upcoming posts for the menu items without links!!

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Sourdough Baguette

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Still in a baking mood, I embarked on a mission to create an old-fashioned, dense sourdough bread, like back in the day. I turned to a 1973 fundraising cookbook  published by the Southern Conference Educational Fund based in Louisville, KY.

From the acknowledgements:

“SCEF Recipes is published by the Southern Educational Fund, a Southside interracial organization which has been working since 1938 to end racial injustice, poverty and war through a program of organizing.”

The cookbook is filled with basic, economical whole foods recipes. Not vegan, but still worth browsing through for the little gems like this one contributed by Grambs Miller, artist and designer of the 1972 peace card.

San Francisco Sourdough Bread

Sour dough starter:

1 envelope dry yeast

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups warm water (not hot)

Mix above ingredients in a 1 1/2 quart glass container. Cover with cheesecloth. Leave in warm room 48 hours, to collect airborne yeasts. Stir 2 or 3 times. It will ferment and bubble and have a sourish smell. Makes 3 cups.

The bread:

1 envelope dry yeast

1 cup warm water (not hot)

2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 cups starter

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. salt

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In a large bowl sprinkle dry yeast over water, stir in sugar and starter and gradually add flour mixed with salt.

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Cover bowl with damp towel and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours in a warm place. Turn dough onto floured board, work in about 1 cup flour until dough is no longer sticky, knead until satiny–about 5 minutes ( I used a dough hook).

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Shape into 1 large round or 2 long loaves.

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Set on cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rise again in warm place for 1 1/2 hours. Put shallow pan of water on lower shelf of a pre-heated 400-degree oven. Make diagonal slashes in bread with razor blade ( I brushed the tops with aquafaba and sprinkled sesame seeds).

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Bake 40 to 50 minutes until crust is medium brown.

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Let me just say that this bread was so good we couldn’t stop eating it. I put the second loaf in the freezer for next weekend, otherwise I knew we would take it down in no time!

 

 

 

 

 

Soup: A Vegan’s Best Friend

 

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With the popularity of the raw food movement over the past few years it seems some of our old standbys may have faded into the background. I’m here to remind you that soup is good food.

I like salad as much as the next vegan, but, there is something to be said for that satisfied, warm tummy feeling that can only come from hot food, eaten slowly. We often make a meal out of a simple bowl of soup at my house. Maybe a little chunk of bread, maybe not.

It’s filling, it’s nutritious and most soups are inexpensive to make and prep for the week’s menu or even as a fill-in for those moments in-between when you want a quick something hot.

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Beyond my own personal preference, I did a bit of research and found there are actually benefits to eating hot food. Who knew??

 

Benefits of Eating Hot Food

excerpted from the cable lifestyle blog thecable.ng

Mode of digestion

Hot meals aid proper digestion because of the time it takes to consume it. This enables the consumer to eat in adequate proportions which in turn gives less work to the organ that breaks down food.

Also, during the preparation of the meal, the chemicals in the food would have been broken down before it is served and consumed; the body easily absorbs the nutrients as they diffuse into the system, increasing the nutritional value.

Low risk of bacterial contamination

It is difficult for micro-organisms to survive in hot foods. Micro-organisms die while cooking but allowing the food get cold will reintroduce the bacteria, if not careful; which makes eating the meal in a hot state healthier.

Generates energy for consumption

Warm food restores the energy cold food saps from the body and equally stores up more energy for future use.

Regulates body temperature and weight

One key thing about ingesting hot food is that it regulates the body temperature in response to a cold climate, as it provides warmth from the hot food ingested.

Hot meals also help with body weight and fat; the suppression of appetite observed during the body’s exposure to heat causes the body weight level to drop below set-point which aids greater metabolic efficiency.

Once the body is able to rid unwanted products, the weight would be regulated.

The after-feeling

The feeling you get after taking a hot meal is an amazing one, compared to a cold meal.

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Check out my selection of delicious soup recipes HERE!


Senate Bean Soup

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U.S. Senate Bean Soup  is traditionally made with navy beans, ham hocks and onions. It is served in the dining room of the United States Senate every day, in a tradition that dates back to the early 20th century.

This hearty, economical soup grew in popularity during and between World Wars I and II. It was frequently served to the military.

Here, I have taken the original recipe and made it vegan, by replacing the ham hocks with vegan bacon, kicking up the flavor with a bit of veggie paste and liquid smoke. I’ve given it a creamier consistency by pureeing half of the beans and I finished the dish with crisp, fresh-baked croutons.

Senate Bean Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound dried navy beans
2 quarts  water
1-2 cups chopped vegan bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoons olive oil

1 Tbsp. vegetable broth paste, such as Better Than Bouillon (optional)
1 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Soak beans overnight in water to cover, plus 2 inches to allow for swelling.

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Drain and rinse beans then add to a large pot with water to cover plus another inch or two over medium high heat. Bring to boil and skim off any foam that accumulates on the surface. These are impurities that should be removed.

Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour.

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Meanwhile, cook the onions and bacon in olive oil until lightly browned, about 10 minutes over medium heat. When the beans have been cooking for an hour, they should be tender, almost done.

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At this point, scoop out about half of the beans and puree them in a blender until smooth. You may want to remove some of the cooking water if it looks too watery. You can set it aside and add some back in later if you need it.

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Add the pureed beans back into the pot along with the bacon and onions. Add a tablespoon of vegetable broth paste and liquid smoke, if using. Stir and adjust water as necessary to make the soup the consistency you like. Simmer for another half hour or so, stirring occasionally until flavors are blended and heated through.

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Serve with crispy croutons, if desired. Enjoy!

 

 

 

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

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I have so many new ideas and recipes to share in my upcoming posts! First of all, I discovered Maldon Sea Salt Flakes this week.

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They add a crunchy finish to a simple fresh avocado, but they really added something special  to these Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Another thing I picked up on this week–and it’s a game-changer:

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Sweet Potato Toasts! That’s right, you heard me. Slip thin slices of sweet potato in your toaster and let it go until just tender, twice on the highest setting on my toaster. Then spread it with whatever! Ah-mazing!

On to this week’s passion projects:

Food history has been on my mind lately and I found myself cooking up a big pot of Senate Bean Soup

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I’m working on finding the perfect recipe for ‘meaty’ vegan burgers and this one comes pretty darn close:  Beet Burgers!

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To top it all off, I’ll be sharing a delicious preparation for authentic jerk-marinated and roasted tempeh.

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Stay tuned, friends, for these recipes and so much more to come!

 

Vegan Taco “Beef”

IMG_6132Hey, I can’t believe I haven’t shown up on the blog with this recipe until now. This one, from my home kitchen recipe box is always a big hit, whether featured in burritos, tacos, nachos, salads…the list goes on. Simple, simple ingredients, straight from the cabinet is what I like best about this tasty and quick to prepare recipe.

 

Vegan Taco “Beef”

Ingredients:

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1 tbsp. cooking oil

2 cups frozen vegan crumbles (Gardein is my favorite)

3/4 cup water

Spice blend:

2 tbsp. chili powder (mild or spicy, your call)

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic (or 1/4 tsp. garlic granules)

3/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)

Method:

Saute onion in oil over medium heat until translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in spice blend and sauté   for 30 seconds. Add water and crumbles stirring well to combine. Cover and lower heat. Simmer on low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally  until heated through and water is absorbed. Taste for seasoning, then serve hot. This stores well in the fridge for 2-3 days.

 

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

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

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These tasty sausage crumbles are versatile, lending a satisfying umami flavor and a chewy  bite to gravy, sauces, rice or other grain dishes–even pizza!

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

adapted from a recipe by Lindsay Nixon

Ingredients:

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 8-oz pkg tempeh

2 tbsp low-sodium soy or tamari sauce

1 tsp rubbed sage (not powdered)

1 tsp onion powder (granulated)

1 tsp garlic powder (granulated)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried thyme

dash of black pepper

1/2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Grind fennel seeds into a fine powder using mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder and set aside.

Shred tempeh using a cheese grater and mix with soy or tamari sauce and spices (add fennel last)

Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat then add tempeh mixture to saute, stirring constantly until browned and crisp.

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Use immediately or store refrigerated in airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Note: You can adjust the seasonings, such as leaving out the sage and adding basil and a pinch of crushed red pepper for an Italian flavor. For a sweeter breakfast style sausage, add a bit of maple syrup.

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Chik’n Noodle Soup

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There’s nothing quite like the distinctive experience of a steaming bowl of fragrant broth brimming with fresh simmered vegetables with plenty of slurpy noodles. Especially when the weather is cool or when you are feeling low.

Making a pot of soup is a caring, healing thing we can do for one another as well. A fresh-cooked, mindfully prepared soup tastes nothing like soup from a can or even from the local deli. This soup is so simple, anyone can do it.

The stars of my vegan show are a golden chicken-less broth,  a dash of  poultry seasoning, Gardein chicken substitute and lots of fresh parsley and cracked black pepper. Guaranteed to heal whatever ails 🙂 I hope you enjoy this soup and I hope you share it with a friend.

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Chik’n Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups vegetable broth (chicken-less flavor, if you can find it)

1 large carrot, sliced into wheels about 1/8 inch thick

2 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

1-1 1/2 cups egg-free noodles, cooked ( I used 2 lasagna noodles, cut into thin strips)

2 Gardein chik’n-less scaloppini filets, frozen or thawed

Big handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning (optional)

Fresh ground black pepper

Method:

Combine first four ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan and set to boil. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and cook vegetables until tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, saute filets in a little oil in a small skillet until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

When vegetables are tender, remove lid from pot and add the cooked noodles, stirring to make sure they are well distributed throughout soup. Dice the cooked scaloppini filets to about the same size as the vegetables and stir into the soup. Add parsley and lots of ground pepper. Taste for salt and continue stirring until all ingredients are heated through.

Yield: 4 servings

 

Vegan Gorgonzola: A Passion Project

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In between all the professional cooking I do, there is also all the household cooking I do, which includes, of course, food I like to eat. Once in awhile I embark on a very special veganizing project as shown here.  I ain’t gonna lie. As long as I have been vegan (about six years now) I have not forgotten the flavor of fine, aged cheese.

I chose THIS RECIPE for its simplicity. It’s not a science project like some I have read. It is straightforward and the wait time was only overnight. The result is very much like the real deal…which led me to veganize another old favorite of mine: blackened Gorgonzola steak with jalapeños. I know, what a crazy combo, but it was oh, so delicious back in the day.

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I picked up a package of Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers (the absolute best vegan burger, in my opinion) and pressed it out as flat as I could. Dusted it with blackening spice and seared it in a hot pan. Then I topped it with thick slices of this lovely vegan Gorg and a sprinkle of jalapeños. Heaven!

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