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Archive for April, 2010

 

I’d made a batch of Gyros-style seitan and wanted to use it in some traditional Greek-style dishes.  This impulse just happened to coincide with the arrival of a sample of  Teese’s newly revamped stretchy mozzarella-style faux cheese.  So there you have it, Greek-style comfort food was on the menu.  It was absolutely carb coma-inducingly decadent and delicious.

 

Pastitsio

Ingredients:

½ onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T tomato paste

½ cup red wine

1 28 oz can crushed plum tomatoes

2 bay leaves

1 T dried oregano

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

2 cups ground Greek Gyros Seitan

4 oz Teese Mozzarella Cheese, medium dice

olive oil

1 lb tubular pasta

For the Béchamel:

4 T unbleached whole wheat flour

4 T olive oil

3 cups non-dairy milk [I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut milk]

¼ tsp Freshly-grated nutmeg

3 cloves garlic, smashed

4 oz Teese mozzarella cheese, grated

Directions:

Sauté onion in a drizzle of olive oil until softened.  Add garlic and oregano and cook for a few minutes.  Add the tomato paste, stirring it about the pan to ensure that it’s being cooked.  [Canned tomato paste will taste tinny unless you first caramelize it a bit in the pan.]  Add the wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated.  Add the tomatoes, water, cinnamon, clove and bay leaves.  Cook until the sauce is no longer watery.  Remove the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.

For the Pasta:

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water about ¾ of the way through.  Drain and toss with some olive oil to prevent sticking.  Set aside. [The pasta will continue to cook once placed in the oven.]

For the béchamel sauce:

Heat the non-dairy milk in a pan and add the crushed garlic and nutmeg to infuse it with their flavors.  In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and flour, whisking the entire time.  Cook for a few minutes to ensure the rawness of the flour has been cooked out and the roux is bubbly.  Carefully pour the heated milk into the roux while whisking.  Add the shredded Teese and bring the béchamel to a simmer to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pulling it all together:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix the tomato sauce with half of the pasta and the ground seitan.  Place into a greased casserole dish.  Randomly add pieces of the diced Teese throughout the layer, using a knife to plant them well into the pasta.  Top with the remainder of the pasta.  Pour the béchamel sauce over the entirety and place into the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and browned on top.

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The other day H decided that she was going to make some soft pretzels [I believe she used Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s recipe].  They turned out really well and, as it also turns out, they freeze beautifully.  Now, knowing that there were frozen soft pretzels lurking in the freezer, and having the urge to make a new variant of tofu, I decided to fashion a meal out of the two items.  The only thing that remained unresolved was what flavors to infuse the tofu with; a combination of agave, mustard, orange zest and chili sauce grabbed hold of my mind and pulled me into it’s undertow.  Sweet and mustardy with a kick of heat turned this idea into an amazing dinner.

The glaze would also work really well baked onto store-bought tofu.  It would jazz it up and make it a great addition to any spicy dish.

 

Agave,  Mustard and Chili Tofu

Ingredients:

freshly made tofu,  ready to be pressed

½ cup agave syrup

2 T yellow mustard

1 T stone-ground mustard

1 tsp chili garlic sauce

zest of 1 orange

pinch of salt

Directions:

Drain the tofu curds and let cool.

While the tofu is cooling, heat the agave, mustards, chili garlic sauce, salt and orange zest in a sauce pan and bring to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let cool.

Once cooled, transfer the tofu curd to a large bowl and mix in ½ of the agave and mustard sauce.  Mix well, but gently.  Transfer the infused tofu to a mold and press for 30 minutes to an hour.

Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.  Reserve the remainder of the sauce for use as a glaze.

Preheat oven to 350°.

When you are ready to serve, cut the tofu into slices* and place upon a silpat on a baking sheet [or other non-stick, oven-safe surface].  Spoon ½ of the remaining glaze atop the slices and bake for 20-30 minutes.  Add the remainder of the glaze and repeat.  Baking the tofu will firm up the texture and the glaze will become thick and sticky. 

*I grilled the tofu prior to glazing and baking it in order to give it grill marks and to give the outside layer a chewier texture.

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Borscht Noodle Soup

We picked up some gigantic organic beets the other week while  at the Co-op.   I wanted to put a new spin on a traditional dish and decided that the main beet element of this “borscht” would be a beet root pasta.  It turned out to be a really nice meal though there may be a Russian grandmother out there smacking a computer monitor with a wooden spoon while shouting:  “Nyet, nyet nyet!”

Borscht Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

one recipe Beet Root Pasta

1 leek, sliced thinly

1 T olive oil

2 carrots, sliced into oblong coins

4 cups red potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

½ head napa cabbage cut into ¼ inch slices [or any other green you prefer, kale would be nice]

1 large beet, cut into medium dice

¼ cup fresh dill, chopped plus an extra frond for garnishing

2 quarts faux chicken broth

red wine vinegar

vegan sour cream or non-dairy yogurt, for garnish

Dill seeds, for garnish

Directions:

Place diced beets into 2 cups faux chicken broth and simmer until fork-tender.  Drain and transfer to a bowl.  Cover the beets with red wine vinegar and set aside.

Sauté the leek in a stock pot until softened.  Add carrots and potatoes and continue to sauté for a few minutes longer.  Add broth and simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender.  Add cabbage and fresh dill. 

Toss the pasta into boiling water and cook until it floats.  This should take about 2-3 minutes.  Plate the soup in a bowl and add a generous serving of fresh pasta and a few spoonfuls of the vinegar-marinated beets.  Garnish with vegan sour cream, dill seeds and dill fronds.

 

Beet Root Pasta

Ingredients:

½ cup semolina flour

½ cup unbleached white flour

1 tsp walnut oil

¼ cup beet juice

Water

Directions:

[The volume of liquid required to make a smooth and silky pasta dough will vary according to the moisture level and measurement of your flour.  Bearing this in mind, you may or may not need to augment the beet juice with some additional water.]

Place flours and oil into a food processor.  Slowly drizzle the beet juice into the flour with the processor running.  Once the dough pulls off the sides and forms a ball against the center rotor the dough is ready.  Remove the dough and knead a few times.  Form it into a flattened disk and cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes.  You can make this the day ahead and refrigerate.

Once it has rested, run the dough through a pasta machine [I use a hand-cranked model that I picked up for $25.  It was well worth the investment] and lay it upon a clean surface to dry out a little bit.  Cut into linguine-style noodles.  Toss loosely with extra semolina flour so that as it dries further, it will not stick together. 

Cook in salted boiling water for a couple of minutes until it is cooked through.

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We spent part of this past weekend in a cow pasture on an organic produce farm in the bucolic Nisqually Valley near Olympia, Washington.  The reason we, and a dozen or so others, were there was the offer to join a  nettle-picking with our local Co-op.  The full spectrum was represented in our motley crew of foragers; freegans, vegans and omnivores; college students,  post-grads and free spirits; Germans, Japanese and garden-variety American mutt.  Yet, as diverse as we were, we were also a collective that was solidly unified in our desire to gather greens from the Earth in order to feed ourselves well. 

This Earth Day has me thinking about that pasture and the salad of diversity that grew there.  It was thriving with plants that we, as Americans, have declared war upon after deciding they were intruding upon our plasticized lives.  It’s a funny thing that we humans do.  We give something a name and so, therefore, it must be.  We have these teeth that are in the same position, spacially, as a carnivore’s fangs so let’s call them canines.  Would you depend upon these mock canines in a true tooth and nail fight to the death with a carnivorous foe?  We have this plant that is disorderly and won’t bend to our will so, therefore, we declare it to be a weed and seek to destroy it. 

Food for thought, literally.  Happy Earth Day.

 

 

Chilled Nettle Soup

This is a very nice and light springtime soup.  It’s packed full of phytonutrients and antioxidants that’ll nourish your body and set your mind to daydreaming of sunshine and the season’s bounty.

Ingredients:

1 cup blanched nettle leaves, packed [You could substitute spinach.]

2 cups vegetable stock

1/8 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg

sea salt, to taste

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Add blanced nettles to a blender along with the stock.  Blend until smooth.  Add nutmeg and season to taste.  Chill in the refrigerator or serve at room temperature.  [If you want a thicker soup, you could add some of the soft interior of a fresh baguette and blend along with the greens, as you would in a gazpacho.]

 

 

Apple Dandelion Slaw

Along with nettles, we picked dandelion flowers and greens.  I wanted to incorporate them into this weed-based meal and this is what I came up with.

Ingredients:

1/2 an apple cut into matchsticks

2 flower’s worth of organic dandelion petals

4 large organic dandelion leaves, cut into a chiffonade

2 tsp raw sunflower seeds

fresh lemon juice

sea salt, to taste

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Simply toss all ingredients together and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the slaw.

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Apple and Pear Strudel

Ingredients:

1 apple, peeled and cubed

1 pear, peeled and cubed

juice and zest of one lemon [chop up the zest so there aren’t long strands]

⅓ cup turbinado sugar, divided

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ cup raw walnuts, chopped

¼ cup raw sunflower seeds

⅓ cup raisins

1 T whole wheat flour

6 sheets phyllo dough, thawed

walnut oil

pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Add cinnamon to the sugar and mix well.  Remove 2 T and set aside.

Add apple, pear, lemon juice and zest, cinnamon sugar, walnuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, flour and salt to a bowl and mix well.

Lay a sheet of phyllo upon a baking sheet and, with your fingertips or a brush, dot it gently with walnut oil.  Add another sheet atop the first and repeat.  Repeat once again and then sprinkle with 1 T of the reserved cinnamon sugar.  Add another sheet of phyllo atop the sugared sheet and repeat the oiling process.  Add two more sheets, oiling them the same way.  [You should now have 3 oiled sheets of phyllo on either side of a layer of cinnamon sugar.]

Spread the filling out in a line, length-wise about 3 inches from the bottom edge of the sheet.  Roll the phyllo over the top of the filling and tuck in the sides as you would while wrapping a present.  Continue to roll until all the pastry has been used.  Set the strudel seam side down and gently rub the entirety with walnut oil.  Dust the remaining cinnamon sugar over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes,  or until the phyllo is golden brown on the edges.

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Creamy Sunchoke and Potato Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups potato, peeled and cut into a large dice

2 cups small peeled sunchokes cut into same sized dice as the potatoes

½ leek + ½ onion, sliced

4 garlic cloves, sliced

3 cup No-Chicken or vegetable broth

⅓ cup non-dairy creamer [I prefer So Delicious Original Coconut Creamer]

½ cup white wine

6 sprigs thyme tied into a bundle

a few grates worth of fresh nutmeg

sea salt

freshly-cracked black pepper

freshly-cracked green peppercorns [For garnish.]

chives [For garnish.]

Directions:

Place potatoes and sunchokes into a pot of cold water and bring to a simmer.  Cook until fork tender.  Drain. 

Add a drizzle of olive oil to a pan over medium heat and sauté the leek and onion until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so then add the white wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated. 

Transfer to a blender and add the broth and creamer.  Blend until smooth and return to medium heat on the stove.  Add thyme and nutmeg.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.   Serve garnished with freshly cracked green peppercorns and chives and top with bite-sized of candied tempeh.

***

 

Candied Tempeh

Ingredients:

1 package tempeh

⅓ cup maple syrup

⅓ cup ponzu sauce without bonito [You could substitute soy sauce.]

1 cup No-Chicken Broth

1 T yellow mustard

3 drops liquid smoke

Directions:

Combine all wet ingredients in a container or zip lock bag.  Cut tempeh into ½ inch slices.  Cover tempeh with the marinade and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Remove the tempeh and set aside.  Transfer the marinade to a pot and simmer until it has reduced down enough that the liquid coats the back of a spoon. 

Place the tempeh slices upon a non stick surface [I use a silpat on a baking sheet] that is oven safe.  Glaze the tempeh with half of the reduction and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the glaze bakes onto the tempeh.  Repeat the procedure with the remaining glaze.

Remove from oven and allow it to cool a bit before serving.  [Be careful when removing the tempeh because the candied glaze will be very hot and is very sticky.  It can easily burn your skin if you touch it while screaming hot.]

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The folks over at Chicago Soydairy sent us another sample of Teese to taste test.  This time their goal was to create a mozzarella-style “cheese” that had more authentic melting properties [creaminess and stretchiness] and a better flavor.  For the record, neither of us are huge fans of faux cheeses because, in all honesty,  most of them are pretty nasty.  Daiya has remained supreme when it comes to a melted texture, and if your recipe calls for a cheesy texture, then it’s been the gold standard.  Problem is that, at least to us, it tastes plasticized and artificial.  Now along comes Teese with their new formulation, and we were eager to try it. 

There are a great many things we could have made with it, and we do still have half the sample left *wiggles eyebrows*, but in order to test their new claims, we really had to start with making a pizza.  We ended up making a very simple pizza with few ingredients [mushrooms and red peppers on one half each] so that the Teese would be the star, and it was.  Not only did it melt exceptionally well and was gooey and stretchy [as a great cheese pizza should be], but it actually tasted more like mozzarella than any faux cheese we’ve tried.  Chicago Soydairy is going to make vegans and those with lactose-intolerance very happy once this product hits retail; they’re seriously going to dig this mozzarella.   We don’t eat many processed foods, but on those rare occasions when we feel that urge to indulge, we would buy this product.

 

Quick Pizza Sauce

Ingredients:

1-14 oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes

2 T tomato sauce

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tsp dried oregano

pinch red pepper flakes

olive oil

Directions:

Drizzle a bit of olive oil into a pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook until the garlic gives off an aroma.  Add the tomatoes and tomato paste.  Whisk together, add oregano and simmer for 10 minutes.

 

 

 

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