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Raw Blueberry Pie (aka Blueberry Un-Gel-O)

Perfect for summer! All raw, gluten-free, delicious, and (obviously) vegan.

Perfect for summer! All raw, gluten-free, delicious, and (obviously) vegan.

This recipe is perfect for the hot summertime, when fresh blueberries are at their peak, and the idea of turning on the oven is discouraging. This recipe will only work with FRESH, not frozen or canned, blueberries. It’s easy to make, quick to gel, and is a big hit at potlucks.

 

Blueberry Un-Gel-O Pie

Recipe By: adapted from 30 Days @ Delights of the Garden, by Imar Hutchins
Serves 8
Preparation Time: 0:30

crust
1 cup pecans
2 cups raisins

filling
1 1/2 pints blueberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dates chopped
fresh fruit

Grind pecans and raisins together in a food processor until they form a dough. Press dough into bottom of an 8 or 9 inch pie plate. Put crust in freezer for 10 or 15 minutes, until firm.

Don’t bother washing the workbowl of the food processor. Rinse the blueberries and remove any stems. Process blueberries, raisins, and chopped dates together in the food processor until they form a fairly smooth gelatinous filling. While the food processor is running:

Remove crust from freezer, and cover bottom with chopped fruit of your choice (banana slices and chopped peaches are especially nice). Pour in filling (Don’t dawdle! The blueberry mixture in the food processor will set up in minutes after you turn it off), then garnish pie with fruit of choice. Kiwi slices, peach slices, and strawberries are very pretty.

Chill the pie for at least one-half hour (one to two hours makes a firmer pie) then slice and serve.

Cook’s notes:

You can use pretty much any nuts and dried fruit that you like or have on hand for the crust. I like raisins with the blueberry filling, and they’re generally the cheapest, but feel free to experiment.

Banana slices under the gelled mixture will hold up quite well, but don’t garnish the top of the pie with any fruit that oxidizes rapidly unless you are serving the pie right away. You can wait to garnish pie until just before serving, but you will have to press fruit into the gelled mixture.

Additional bonus: the dough recipe can be used to make raw “cookies.” Make the dough as described, then pat the dough into flat patties the size of silver dollars. Put them in the freezer to firm. After they firm up, store them in a freezer bag or box.

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Fruit Kimchi (First Attempt)

Adapted from Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz

Makes 2 quart jars, plus one 1/2 pint (or 9 1/2 pint jars)

I whole pineapple, skinned, cored, and chopped into bite-sized pieces

I whole large nashi (Asian apple-pear), chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 cup brazil nuts (or any nuts), coarsely chopped

4 teaspoons sea salt 

Juice of 2 lemons

a dozen or so small Thai chilies, chopped (or 2 jalapenos)

2-3 tablespoons ground Korean red chilies (or any form of hot chili powder you prefer)

I onion, chopped fine or ground (I used my Omega juicer with the blank in)

8-10 cloves of garlic, minced or ground (see above)

4-6 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and grated or ground as above (I used the smaller amount this time)

Mix chopped fruit and nuts into a large bowl. Add/substitute any other fruit you like. (Leave grapes whole if you use them.)

Add salt, lemon juice, and the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Stuff kimchi mixture into clean glass jars. Pack it tightly, pressing down until the brine rises. If necessary, add a little water. (This is unlikely to be necessary if you use pineapple or other very juicy fruit.) Lightly cap the jars (leaving the lids loose) and place them into a pan to catch any juices that bubble over during fermentation. Uncap the jars every day and (using clean fingers!) press down the kimchi to keep it submerged. If the brine is well up over the fruit, the pressing is unnecessary, but gives you an excuse to taste the kimchi by licking your fingers once you’re done pressing. 

This kimchi should be ready in about a week, depending on how warm your kitchen is. I usually store my fermenting kimchi in my cold oven to keep the cats away from it, but you can keep it on the counter if that’s safe at your house. This fruit kimchi will taste more and more alcoholic as it ages. Refrigerate it when it’s done and serve as a relish.Image

Note: The original recipe also called for a bunch of chopped cilantro, which I omitted.

The original fruit mix in Sandor’s recipe was 1/4 pineapple, 2 plums, 2 pears, 1 apple, and 1 small bunch of grapes for 1 quart. (That sounds like a lot of fruit to squeeze into a quart jar, but that was his take on it.) All the other quantities were approximately halved from the recipe above, except that I only used 1 onion for a larger amount of fruit. He called for one onion or leek in one quart of kimchi. He used cashews but allowed a substitution of any nuts. Brazil nuts were what I had on hand.

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Vegan MOFO #1- Popcorn!

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I’ve thought for awhile about getting a Whirlypop pan (you know – the one with the crank that stirs the kernels & the oil) and I finally did it. Seriously – If I had known how FAST you can make old-fashioned stovetop popcorn, I would have bought one years ago. 3 minutes! As fast as the microwave, with hardly any “old maids” (unpopped kernels), The kernels pop up more fluffy, as well. (And no, I don’t have any stock in the company!)

1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels
1Tablespoon organic coconut oil
Sprinkle of popcorn salt
1/2 cup nutritional yeast

Place oil & corn kernels in the pan, heat and pop according to the directions that come with the pan. Add salt & nutritional yeast and NOM!

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My Favorite Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Appetizers

Olive-Fig Tapenade
Adapted from allrecipes.com

1 cup chopped dried figs
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 (8 ounce) package vegan cream cheese (optional)
Directions

Combine figs and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, and liquid has reduced. Remove from heat, and stir in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme, and cayenne. Add olives and garlic, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to blend.
Unwrap cream cheese block, and place on a serving platter. Spoon tapenade over vegan cheese, and sprinkle with walnuts. Serve with slices of French bread or crackers.

Cajun Spiced Pecans
Calm those ragin’ Cajun appetites until dinner is ready.
Recipe adapted from About Southern Food (about.com)
Serves 8
Preparation Time: 10 minutes plus 2 1/4 hours cooking time

1 pound pecan halves
1/4 cup melted margarine (Earth Balance)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 15 minutes. Turn to LOW and continue to cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 2 hours. Transfer nuts to a baking sheet and cool completely. Serve as appetizer, or pack into glass jars and decorate with bows for holiday gifts.

Main Dishes
Cashew Nut Roast with Herbed Stuffing

Recipe adapted from Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Christmas & PETA
Servings: 12
Preparation Time: 1:30

-DRESSING-
2 small onions
4 slices bread white preferred
1/2 cup margarine melted
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 cup parsley fresh, chopped
-ROAST-
2 large onion chopped
1/2 cup margarine
3 cups cashews raw (unroasted)
8 slices bread white or whole wheat
4 large garlic cloves coarsely chopped
1 cup water or light vegetable stock
1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (to taste)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
-GARNISH-
lemon slices
parsley sprigs

Set the oven to 400 F and line one large loaf pan with nonstick paper (or use non-stick pans); use some of the margarine to grease the pan and paper (if using) well.

For the most efficient use of your food processor, and the least clean-up, grate the onion for the stuffing first. Dump that into the bowl for the stuffing, replace the grating blade with the “S” blade, and grind your bread slices for the stuffing. You will have about 3 cups of soft crumbs. Add the crumbs to the stuffing bowl. Add the melted margarine and the herbs to the stuffing mixture. Set aside. (Don’t wash food processor yet!)

Using your food processor, chop the large onions medium fine. Melt the margarine in a large frying pan and saute the onions in it until they are soft and translucscent, but not browned.

In the meantime, grind the cashews in the food processor with the bread slices and garlic, until they form a uniform grainy mixture, then add that to the onion, together with the water or stock and add salt, pepper, grated nutmeg, and lemon juice to taste. Be careful with salt/lemon juice balance. (You can wash your food processor bowl now.)

Put half the cashew nut mixture into the prepared pan, top with the stuffing, then spoon the rest of the nut mixture on top. Press lightly and smooth the mixture. Dot with the remaining margarine. Stand the pan in a larger pan to catch any margarine which may ooze out, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned. (Cover the roast with foil if it gets too brown before then.) (Lisa’s note: I like my nut roast crispy and brown on the outside, so I bake it an additional 15 minutes or so. Be watchful, though, as the crust can go from brown to nearly black very quickly.)

Let the roast rest in its pan for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto serving platter. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley. Serve with gravy. Have copies of recipe ready for eager guests.
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Notes: You can double this recipe and divide it equally between 3 small loaf pans.

Leftovers freeze very well. You can reheat slices in the microwave, or reheat the thawed loaf in the oven about 30-45 minutes at 350 F.

Per serving : 412 Calories; 32g Fat (67% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 27g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 478mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch/Bread; 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 6 Fat

Wild Rice Stuffed Pumpkin

Recipe By: Lisa T. Bennett
Serves 8
Preparation Time: 3 hours

4 pound pumpkin
3/4 cup brown rice
3/4 cup wild rice
1 teaspoon salt or seasoning salt
2 tablespoons margarine (Earth Balance)
1 cup onion, finely diced
2 large scallions, sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
sea salt to taste
freshly ground pepper
dash cinnamon
dash nutmeg
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup pecans, dry-roasted, chopped
1/4 c hot water

Cut the stem end of the pumpkin as if you were about to carve a jack o’lantern. Set aside “lid”. Remove strings and seeds inside pumpkin and discard (or save seeds to roast and munch on). Using a grapefruit knife or melon baller, scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin, leaving a 1/4 – 1/2” thick shell. Chop flesh and set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring 3 quarts of salted water to boil and stir in the brown rice and wild rice. Bring rice back to a boil. Cook over low heat, covered until still a bit hard to the bite — about 35 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Heat the margarine in a skillet. Add the onion and celery and sauté until the onion is golden. Add the apple and sauté another 5 minutes.

In large bowl, combine pumpkin flesh, the sautéed mixture, the partially cooked rice, the orange juice, scallions, and dried cranberries. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon stuffing loosely into pumpkin, sprinkle with the hot water and put “lid” on tightly. Place on sturdy baking sheet and bake till pumpkin is tender to the point of a knife — about 2 hrs. Cut into wedges and serve.

Brown Mushroom Gravy

Recipe By: PETA
Serving Size: 24
Preparation Time: 0:15

1 medium onion diced
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water

Sauté the onion in the oil until soft. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 1 minute more. Shake the flour, broth and water together in a jar and add this to the onions and mushrooms. Mix in the soy sauce and stir over medium heat until thick.

Per serving: 36 Calories; 2g Fat (37% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 481mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 1/2 Fat
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Everybody’s Favorite Cream of Mushroom Soup

Recipe By: adapted from The Nutritional Yeast Cookbook, J.Stepaniak
Serving Size: 4
Preparation Time: 0:30

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound mushrooms thinly sliced
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
4 cups warm water or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh parsley minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup soy milk not low-fat

Place the oil in a 4 1/2 quart saucepan or Dutch oven, and heat it over medium-high flame. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and saute until they are soft, about 4-6 minutes.

Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the warm water or broth using a wire whisk. Work slowly and carefully to keep the mixture from lumping. Then stir in the nutritional yeast flakes, soy sauce, parsley, and paprika. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the saucepan, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in soymilk and serve.

Yield : 4 servings.
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Notes: To make a vegan version of “condensed” cream of mushroom soup for casseroles, reduce the broth to 2 cups.

Per serving (excluding unknown items): 81 Calories; 5g Fat (45% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 763mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat
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Cranberry Chutney

Recipe By: Vegetarian Celebrations, Nava Atlas
Serving Size: 8
Preparation Time: 1:00

12 ounces cranberries fresh
1 cup peeled apples diced
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup dried apricots diced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup maple syrup to taste

Place the first seven ingredients in a deep, heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat with the lid slightly ajar for 20-25 minutes, or until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Add maple syrup to taste and simmer uncovered for another 5-10 minutes until thick. Let the chutney cool to room temperature, then store in a sterilized jar, tightly covered but not sealed. Refrigerate until needed. Before serving, bring to room temperature.

Per serving: 97 Calories; less than one gram Fat (3% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 3mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 1 Fruit; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Braided Sweet Potato Bread

Recipe By: Nava Atlas, Vegetarian Celebrations
Serves 8
Preparation Time: 3 hours from start to finish

1 package active dry yeast (or 2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup canola, safflower, or olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup soy milk
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
soy milk to brush top of loaves

Combine the yeast and the water in a medium-sized mixing bowl and let stand 10 minutes. (The yeast water should look bubbly. If not, try again with fresh yeast.)
Stir in the oil and thyme, then the mashed sweet potato, maple syrup, and soy milk. Stir gently until the mixture is smooth.

In another bowl, combine the flours, cornmeal, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the wet mixture. Work together, using a spoon at first, then hands, until thoroughly combined into a dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 8-10 minutes, adding additional flour a little at a time until the dough loses its stickiness.

(Or you can knead the dough in your large stand mixer or large food processor according to the directions.)

Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

Punch the dough down and turn back out onto the board. Divide into six equal pieces. With hand, roll each piece into a long coil, about 1 inch in diameter. To make each loaf, braid three coils and pinch the ends together. Place the loaves on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal, cover with a tea towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Brush the tops of the loaves with soymilk. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the loaves feel hollow when tapped.

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Notes: To make a bread braid without stretching the dough too much, begin the braid at the center of the loaf, then braid out to each end.

To make the dough in a bread machine, cut the recipe in half, put the ingredients in the order your machine requires, and stop at the end of the first rising period. Continue on to punch down, divide, shape, and bake your bread as directed.

Creamy Mushroom Soup
Recipe By: Nava Atlas, Vegetarian Celebrations
Serves 8
Preparation Time: 45 minutes

3 tablespoons margarine (Earth Balance), divided
1 cup onions, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery ribs with leaves, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups water
2 vegetable broth cubes
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine, optional
12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
6 ounces fresh shiitake or other wild mushrooms OR 6-8 large dried shiitakes
2 cups canned or cooked navy beans or cannellini
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley

Heat 2 tablespoons of the margarine in a large soup pot. Add the onions and sauté over moderate heat until golden. Add the next five ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the seasonings and wine, cover and simmer over moderate heat for 15 minutes.

Add half of the sliced white mushrooms and simmer another 10 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and let stand several minutes.

If using fresh wild mushrooms, wipe clean, remove the stems (you can save these for broth or discard), and slice the caps. If using dried shiitakes, soak in warm water for 15 minutes, then remove and discard the stems and slice the caps. Heat the remaining tablespoon of margarine in a skillet. Add the reserved white mushrooms and shiitakes. Sauté, covered, for 10 minutes.

Puree the soup along with the white beans, in batches in a blender (Be careful! Don’t fill a blender more than half full of hot liquid) or with an immersion blender in the pot. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the sautéed mushrooms. Grind in pepper to taste. (You can make the soup up to 2 days ahead and refrigerate it, tightly covered, at this point.)

Before serving, bring to a simmer for at least 10 minutes. Adjust the consistency with more water if soup is too thick. Divide among soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with the parsley.


Georgia Kudzu Pecan Pie

Recipe By: Meredith McCarty, in Lorna Sass’ Complete Vegetarian Kitchen
Serves 8
Preparation Time: 45 minutes, plus time to set

1 9 inch unbaked pie shell (check ingredients or make your own)
1 1/2 cups brown rice syrup (see cook’s notes)
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup agar flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons kuzu or arrowroot
water, to barely cover the kuzu
2 cups toasted pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Set pie weights or beans into the pie crust and bake on the middle shelf of a 375 F oven until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. Set on a rack to cool. This is a good time to toast your pecans as well. Check them after 12-14 minutes.
2. In a heavy saucepan, prepare the filling. Whisk together the rice syrup, water, agar flakes, cinnamon, and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over very low heat until the agar completely dissolves, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, dissolve the arrowroot in water to barely cover and add to the agar-rice syrup mixture. While cooking the mixture at a low simmer, whisk it until the chalky color becomes clear.
4. Let the mixture cool for 15 minutes. Stir in the pecans and vanilla and pour into the prepared pie crust, taking care to distribute the pecans evenly.
5. Let the pie cool to room temperature and set, about 2 hours (or refrigerate pie about 1 hour to firm up more quickly). For optimum flavor, bring to room temperature before serving.
Cook’s notes: For the filling, Meredith favors the dark brown rice syrup made by Mitoku. Other brands (often lighter in color) sometimes prevent the filling from setting firmly. (Lisa’s note: I use either Tree of Life Rice Syrup or Lundberg Gluten-Free Brown Rice Syrup – both quite light in color – and both work well).

Option: To really make this pie a truly decadent Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie, use about 1 cup water and 1/2 cup bourbon to dissolve the agar flakes (the alcohol will dissipate while simmering, leaving just the flavor), and add 1/2 cup non-dairy chocolate chips to the partly cooled filling before you pour it into the crust. Yum!!
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Southern Fried Tofu – wedding buffet and picnic food extraordinaire

Sorry there’s no photo for this, but my husband and I made about 4 lbs of Southern Fried Tofu for a wedding potluck this weekend, and it was a huge hit with both the veg and non-veg. We fried up about 10 lbs of it for our wedding back in ’97, and it was the biggest hit on the buffet table that day, too – especially with the omnivore crowd. “I can’t believe it’s tofu!” is a typical response. It’s good hot, and also good cold. It’s quite salty, but that’s part of its charm. (The batter will actually cover about 2 lbs of tofu.) Use the densest, firmest tofu you can get ahold of. Extra firm is perfect. Make sure your fryer has a thermostat and fry at 360-370 F. Frying longer is better (4 minutes vs. 3) but if time if of the essence, 3 minutes is good enough. Having your oil hot enough is the key to making crisp fried stuff that isn’t greasy.

Southern Fried Tofu

Recipe By: Lisa T. Bennett, adapted from Friendly Foods, by Ron Pickarski
Serving Size: 4
Preparation Time: 45 minutes

1 pound Chinese-style tofu, firm or extra-firm
3 tablespoons veggie “chicken”-flavored seasoning (see notes)
1 1/4 cups flour, unbleached
2 tablespoons gluten flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons spice blend (see below)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup water
2 cups peanut, sesame, or canola oil for deep-frying

Spice Blend
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 tablespoons veggie “chicken”-flavored seasoning (see notes)
4 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons savory
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried basil

Remove tofu from package and pat dry (or press). Cut tofu into 2-3 pieces crosswise, then cut each of these into 4 pieces each. Place them into a bowl, and sprinkle cubes with 1 tablespoon chicken-flavored seasoning. Gently mix and set aside.

Stir together 1/2 cup of the unbleached flour and the remaining 2 tablespoons of the “chicken” seasoning. Set aside this breading mixture.

Mix the remaining 3/4 cup of the unbleached flour, gluten flour, salt, and Spice Blend. Blend well so that the gluten flour doesn’t create lumps. Stir in the water and 1 tablespoon of canola oil. If the batter does lump, blend the mixture in a blender.

Heat the oil in a deep skillet or deep fryer set to 370 F. Dip a piece of tofu into the breading mixture and coat it completely, then dip it into the batter, using tongs or long chopsticks. Remove it and hold it above the batter for about 10 seconds, tapping it gently against the side of the bowl to release excess batter. Then hold about one third of the piece of tofu in the hot oil for about 15 seconds to set the bottom so it won’t stick to the pan. Release the tofu and let it completely submerge. Repeat for the other pieces. Deep-fry the tofu a few pieces at a time to a light brown. (Don’t add too many pieces to the fryer at once or you will cool the oil down and make the tofu greasy.) Remove with a heat-proof slotted spoon and drain on paper towels for at least 30 seconds. You can place the tofu in the oven at 250 F for up to 15 minutes to retain crispness.
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Cook’s Notes:

“Chicken-flavored” veggie broth mix is available in bulk at most natural foods stores. Bill’s Chick’nish Seasoning is also a good choice.

Serve Southern-Fried Tofu with veggie gravy, biscuits or rice, and LOTS of vegetables. It is also great served cold – like that fried chicken my mom used to pack for picnics, only better!

If you’re in a hurry, instead of the spice blend, use 1 tablespoon of pre-mixed poultry seasoning (a mix of herbs – usually mostly rosemary, sage, and marjoram) and 1 teaspoon of salt.

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Quick and Dirty Lentil Chili Template

I had several requests on Facebook for my chili recipe when I mentioned I was making Lentil Chili with Sweet Potatoes. I didn’t actually follow a recipe – I just made it as I went along, so here’s how I did it, with some notes on ways you might embellish or modify the recipe. Do use the sweet potatoes if you have some – they are amazing in chili.

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OK, y’all. I have about 3 minutes before I need to pull a batch of whole wheat sourdough everything bagels out of the oven, so here’s the recipe as I made it:

1. Take inventory of your bean cabinet. I’m sure you have one. Move the several varieties of lentils from the plastic containers they’re in to glass jars. Whatever won’t fit – sort and wash and set aside for the soup pot. (I probably used a total of about 1 cup of several types – green and black and split red and yellow and some mung beans. Any small bean that doesn’t need soaking will be fine, including black-eyed peas).

2. Cut up an onion and several cloves of garlic and saute them in olive oil.

3. Add the lentils and enough water to cover plus another 3-4 inches. Simmer them while you…

4. Dice up a couple of sweet potatoes. Throw them into the pot along with

5. A 28-ounce can of Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes (diced or crushed). Or whatever kind of canned tomatoes you like.

6. Season to taste with Punjabi Chole Masala powder (or chili powder) and smoked Spanish paprika. We like the hot kind. And some salt. Some additional cumin would be nice.

7. You might also want to throw in a veggie boullion cube and some additional water as necessary to keep the lentils from sticking. If you want something more like soup, add more water. For something thicker, add less water, but you’ll have to watch the pot a bit closer to avoid scorching.

8. Add any other veggies you like. Corn kernels are especially nice, but I didn’t have any today. Carrots are a nice addition if you don’t have sweet potatoes. Some frozen green beans would be pretty.

This recipe is just a sort of template. I use all kinds of beans in chili – the more the merrier. Today I used lentils ’cause they don’t have to be cooked ahead, like garbanzos or butter beans or pintos or kidneys do, and I was literally cleaning out my bean cabinet. Use whatever is handy.

When I’m making a more Southwestern style chili, I often throw in a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips or a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder to give them sauce a more smoky, deep flavor. Smoked chipotle chilies are also good.

Have fun!

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Good Shepherd’s Pie (Tempeh & Mushroom)

Last night, it was a bit blustery here in Atlanta. It was also our last opportunity to celebrate Christmas for several months – January 7 this year was Eastern Orthodox Christmas. Ethiopian Coptic Christians also celebrate then, and all the women at the Dekalb Farmer’s Market were in their festive Christmas dresses yesterday (mostly white with gold trim). In honor of this last Christmas feasting for awhile, I made a vegan Shepherd’s Pie filled with mushrooms, tempeh, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), carrots, peas, and a bit of fresh thyme. (The Coptic Christians would consider this “fasting” because it’s vegan. It’s feasting to us!)

I served this with a simple salad (see below) and Triple Chocolate Brownies served with coconut milk ice cream (Purely Decadent Brand). A feast indeed.

Good Shepherd’s Pie
Serves 8 (one 9X13 or 1/2 hotel pan)
This is gluten-free is you use wheat-free tamari instead of standard soy sauce

Crust
about 6 or 7 medium russet potatoes
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup Earth Balance non-hydrogenated spread
salt and pepper to taste

Filling
2 packages (1 pound) tempeh, cubed (I like Light Life’s Garden Veggie variety)
1/2 cup olive oil (divided)
1 yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced (your favorite variety)
1 celery stalk, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or 2 15 oz cans)
1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (tamari)
1/4 cup dry white (or red) wine, optional
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in
2 cups cold water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9 X 13 inch pan or something similar in size (or two 8 X 8 square pans). You can spray up near the top of the pan to make the potato crust easier to clean up, but no big deal either way.

Peel the potatoes and quarter them. Put the potatoes into a saucepan and cover with water. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a low boil/high simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.

While the potatoes are cooking, chop the tempeh into small cubes (1/2 inch across or so). Fry up in some olive oil until browned all over. Pour the tempeh into the pan(s) and set aside. In the same pan (no need to wash it yet), add some more olive oil and saute the onion and garlic. When it starts to color a bit, add the mushrooms, carrots, and celery.

Cook until the mushrooms give up their liquid, and it begins to evaporate. The onions and garlic should be beautifully browned by now.

Add the soy sauce. Mix together the cornstarch and cold water and add the mixture. Cook until the gravy starts to thicken.

Add the garbanzo beans. Use the potato masher to smash them up a bit into the gravy. Add the peas, fresh thyme, and parsley (if using) and take the pan off the stove.

Pour this mixture into the pan with the tempeh. Stir the tempeh up into the mix.

By now, the potatoes have cooked. Drain them, and mash them with a potato masher, stirring in the soy milk and Earth Balance, salt, and pepper. They should be like delicious mashed potatoes – a bit rich and buttery. Add more soy milk if necessary to make them spreadable.

Spread the potatoes across the top of the casserole, adding a few swirls with the spatula. Pop the dish into the oven (you might want to put a cookie sheet beneath it to catch drips), and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the potatoes are beginning to turn golden on top of the swirled bits.

Serve hot, with a salad or something green.

Asian Pear Salad
mixed salad greens to cover four salad plates
one Asian pear (apple-pear or nashi), diced
1 cup of fresh blueberries or the seeds of a pomegranate
1 small or 1/2 long cucumber, diced

Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing:
1 tablespoon mustard (dijon, whole grain, etc.)
2 tablespoons wine vinegar (I used raspberry flavored)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

whisk together and drizzle over salads. Add salt and pepper as desired.

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