Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Vegan Fondue

Fondue is a family favorite recipe, and one I have tried, with varying degrees of success, to veganize over the years. Tonight, I found something that I am finally happy with.

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashew pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon light Miso
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet white wine (I used moscato)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • dash of nutmeg (about 1/16th tsp)
  • white pepper
Start by placing the cashews and about 3 cups of water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, and boil for 15 minutes. Drain the cashew pieces. Place them into a blender, and add the reserved cup of water, and all of the remaining ingredients. Blend until creamy and smooth, how long is going to depend on your blender - it takes about 3 minutes in my mid-grade Oster. Return to the saucepan and cook on medium low heat, stirring frequently, until it starts to bubble and is thickened. 

Serve with chunks of bread to dip, steamed broccoli, chunks of crisp, sweet apple (fujis are good), a salad, and the rest of the bottle of wine! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Soup soup soup!

Spilt Pea

Mirepoix - You want equal amounts carrot, onion, celery, totaling  6-8 cups, I usually use:

  • 1 BIG onion
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 3-4 ribs of celery 

Saute this in 1 TBS olive oil until onions are soft and translucent. Then add:

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic

Stir constantly for a few minutes, until you can really smell the garlic. Then add:

  • 9 cups of water
  • 3 cups spilt peas

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, for about 45 minutes. (It won't hurt this to cook for a couple of hours, just stir it once in a while). Fish out the bay leaves, puree, ideally with an immersion blender and add:

  • 2 tsps salt
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • And a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper.

"Orange Soup"

  • 5 big carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 big sweet potatoes cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, diced or sliced doesn't matter, you puree it all in the end
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • Water or stock to cover simmering veggies
  • Olive oil for sauteeing onions
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Saute onion in olive oil until translucent and tender. Add ginger, garlic, red pepper, stir until fragrant. Add veggies, lentils, juice, coconut milk, and enough water to cover it all. cover, simmer about 30 minutes, until the carrots and sweet potatoes are soft. Puree the whole mess with an immersion blender, if you have one (if you don't, get one)! Add salt (probably about 1 1/2 tsps, add it a little at a time to check) and pepper to taste.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pear Coffee Cake

½ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup oil
4 tbs flax seed
¾ cup hot water
1 tsp vanilla

3 ripe pears, diced

2 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cardamom
⅛ tsp white pepper

Combine each set of ingredients, then mix together. Spread into 8x8 pan, bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cashew Ranch

  • 1/3 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1/3 -2/3 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine these in a blender and process well, at least 2-3 minutes. The dressing will warm up slightly, and you will probably want to chill it down some before serving. Use less water for a dip. If you like, you can add a teaspoon of parsley to it and pulse a few times to mix it in at the end. Adding it with the other ingredients will just turn your dressing green.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Let's Talk Cashew Cream.

Ah, cashew cream. I don't know how I'd manage a dairy-free existence without you! Raw, unsalted cashews, liquid,  and a good blender make a thick, creamy sauce that substitutes marvelously for heavy cream or milk in many places. We use it in soups, desserts, sauces and salad dressings where dairy would be used.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will post recipes for creamy tomato soup, Alfredo sauce, ranch dressing, cilantro lime cream, lemon-dill sauce, and sweetened cream, but today, here is the basic formula for cashew cream:

  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews (According to Tal Ronnen, you should always use whole cashews for this, because the flavor is better. I suppose that if I were a celebrity chef, I might agree, but for those of us on a realistic food budget, take heart, I don't think you can taste the difference between whole cashews and cashew pieces once they are turned into cream. At least I can't).
  • 1/2 -2/3 cup cold water
Place ingredients in a blender and process for 2-3 minutes, until the nuts and water have emulisfied into a smooth, creamy liquid. You do NOT need a Vitamix or a Blendtec to do this - I have a basic Oster blender and it works fine. Use in any recipe calling for heavy cream, except for whipped cream - I'll cover how to pull that off in a later post.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Award-winning black bean chili

On February 6th, our awesome local vegan store, Never Felt Better hosted their first cooking competiton, a chili cookoff, and guess what?  WE WON FIRST PRIZE!  Here's the recipe we've developed. It's a bit of work, but worth the effort. I hope you enjoy it too! Makes a GIANT freaking pot o'chili.

  •  3 cups dry black beans, cooked in a 2qt crockpot full of water for 8 hours (this will be added, liquid and all, so don't drain them)
  •  2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
  •  2 tsps olive oil
  •  1 diced onion
  •  2 diced poblano chili peppers
  •  3 tbsp chili powder        
  •  3 tbsp cumin powder
  •  1 12 oz bottle hard cider (apple or pear)
  •  1 6 oz can tomato paste
  •  1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  •  1 lb frozen corn
  •  1 tbsp cocoa powder
  •  1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  •  1/4 tsp cinnamon
  •  1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  •  1/4 cup toasted unsalted pumpkin seeds (if you can't find unsalted ones, start with raw ones and toast them yourself, which is what we do, or add less extra salt) coarsely ground
  •  6 (or more) cloves of garlic, crushed
  •  1 very large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced and roasted at 425 for about 45 minutes, until edges start to caramelize
  •  1/2 tsp molasses
  •  1 tsp sea salt


Saute onion and peppers in olive oil until onion is translucent. Add cumin and chili powder, saute until liquid is absorbed by the spices. Add the cider, chipotle powder, cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, ground pumpkin seeds, and molasses. Bring to a simmer. Add canned tomatoes (do not drain) and liquid, and tomato paste. Stir in the beans, squash, rice, corn, garlic, and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for 12-48 hours and reheat, which lets the flavors meld and improves them. Really great with lime juice, chipotle Tabasco, Daiya cheese, diced onion, avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds, faux sour cream, or just as is.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lentil-nut Stroganoff

Ok, so it's February and I'm just now posting Christmas dinner. Sorry, folks. This is one of the most complicated recipes I make, something we use for a fancy holiday meal.

One of my extended family's favorite special occasion meals is beef stroganoff.  It's a dish of cubed beef, sometimes mushrooms, stewed in a paprika laden sour cream sauce, usually served over egg noodles. Tricky to veganize, right? In order to do so, I started with a base recipe that I was introduced to several years ago when my friend Juli made a bunch of freeze-and-eat dinners for our family to eat while we were dealing with some major medical crap. The original mixture was intended for a shepherd's pie filling, but I've found the combination to be quite adaptable to serve in things like taco filling, sloppy joes, and this dish. To make the basic mock-ground beef  you need:

  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • 1/4 cup short grain brown rice or hulled barley
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (walnuts will certainly work, I'd expect that sunflower seeds would probably substitute well if you needed to adapt the recipe to be nut-free)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon yeast extract spread, such as Vegemite or Marmite
  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon or 1 tsp vegetable broth concentrate (I use Better than Bouillon)

Combine this in a covered saucepan, a smallish one will do, and simmer on medium until the lentils are fully cooked, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables:

  • 1 pound cremini (white button will work too) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbs olive oil

You are going to want a larger pot for this step,  because this is where the whole deal is going to end up. Saute the onions and mushrooms in the olive oil until the onions are translucent and starting to reduce. Once you reach that point, add

  • 4 teaspoons paprika (I prefer smoked paprika in this dish, but either way works)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (fresh ground is going to have better flavor than preground, if you use pre-ground, then you might decide to increase it some) 
  • 1/2 cup white wine

Simmer this until the wine evaporates. At this point, add either

  • 2 tablespoons of flour OR 1 tablespoon tapioca or cornstarch

Stir this in to the mixture, and continue to stir for about one minute after the flour vanishes into it. Then add 2 cups of water. About this time, your lentil stuff should be ready, the lentils should be whole, but tender. Dump that pot into this one and stir it together. Add

  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 2-3 cloves minced or pressed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

You're almost done. The final ingredient you add right before serving,

  • 3/4 cup sour cream substitute 

I usually use Tofutti's non-hydrogenated Better than Sour Cream.

I usually serve this with a pile of steamed broccoli and a pound of Trader Joe's whole wheat rotelle. For the wheat free version, serve it over rice, quinoa, or gluten free pasta. Makes a whole lot - feeds 5-6 with leftovers as part of a holiday meal.