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Archive for April, 2010

Roasted Acorn Squash with a Pomegranate Glaze

This is an incredibly easy side dish to prepare that not only looks beautiful, but tastes heavenly.

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash

1 cup pomegranate juice

1 T dark brown sugar

a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

olive oil

sea salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°.

Wash and then peel the squash on the ridges that protrude leaving the concave surfaces intact with peel [The peel is entirely edible.  When buying an acorn squash look for one that has dark green skin, the skin will be more tender than one that’s turning to orange.]  Slice in half, length-wise and remove seeds and stringy bits.  Cut into one inch wide slices.  Spray with a bit of olive oil and roast until tender.  This should take 45 minutes to an hour depending upon the thickness of your slices.

While the squash is roasting, heat the pomegranate juice, sugar and a pinch of salt to a low simmer on the stove and reduce by half.  Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Serve the squash drizzled with the glaze.

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Meatless Mondays… and Tuesdays and then the rest of the work week is just WTF [literally], so why eat meat at all?  Clearly, we have already made the leap and adopted an entirely vegan lifestyle, but the reality that is dawning upon me is that I don’t think most people realize that there are food options outside of meat-centered meals.  That is why we have decided to jump aboard the Meatless Monday bandwagon and help contribute to its success and awareness to affect change.

I am a firm proponent of taking control of what you eat.  Personally, I don’t want industrially-processed substances that have been purposefully treated with chemicals engineered specifically in order to ring all the bells and blow all the whistles of human sensory organs.  It is manipulation, and it is wrong.  If Americans knew what it is that they actually eat and regard as food, they would be horrified.  At least I hope they would be; we certainly were/are.

Regardless of the ethics of the matter, Americans consume far too much meat.  It is affecting our environment and our collective health as a nation.  When elective surgical procedures that rearrange one’s digestive system become the norm,  yet eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily is considered extreme, something has clearly gone diabolically wrong.  It is time to step up and accept responsibility for ourselves and to take a good long look at how our actions and whims affect our health and our planet.  The least anyone could do is to abstain from consuming an animal one day of the week.  Please, spread the word and encourage those you know to support Meatless Monday.  Awareness coupled with action is a powerful thing.

***

Yuba Asada

Yuba is also referred to as dried bean curd or dried bean curd sticks.  You can also sometimes find it as bean curd knots, which are very nice to use.  It is easily found in an Asian market and is worth the side-trip to have some on hand.

Ingredients:

1 package yuba, rehydrated in warm water until soft and then cut into 1/4 inch shreds [If you have knots rather than sticks, there is no need to cut, simply use whole.]

Juice and zest of one lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit

2 T cumin

2 T chili powder

1½ tsp dried oregano

1½ tsp ground coriander

5 garlic cloves, crushed

¼ cup soy sauce

2 jalapenos or one habanero [If you like it hotter], seeds and ribs removed and sliced thinly

1 onion, thinly sliced

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a zip lock bag or other container and add the yuba. [I prefer a bag because it’s easy to move the ingredients around occasionally to ensure it’s well marinaded.]

The following day, drain off the liquid in a colander.  Heat a bit of canola oil over medium –high heat and add the yuba asada.  Stir-fry until the liquid has evaporated and the yuba begins to brown.

Serve with black beans, pan-fried potatoes and some warmed corn tortillas.  Garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado, tomatoes and roasted garlic cloves.

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I’d been saying for a while now that I wanted to make some homemade dog treats for Rotti, our Yorkie, since his birthday was this month (yesterday, actually).  Knowing that I would do this eventually–and by eventually, I mean sooner rather than later–D was kind enough to purchase a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter for me.  I perused the web in search of a quick recipe that I could whip up in no time after a long day at work, and I found one via Manifest Vegan.

I altered the recipe a bit, using the almond butter and unbleached AP flour that I had on hand.  I baked these on parchment paper for 30 minutes.  The recipe easily made 30 dog biscuits using the cookie cutter that I had.  It only took a few minutes after I’d pulled them out of the oven before D was asking for one…for herself.  Haha.  I told both she and Rotti not to fight over the cookies; I’d made plenty! 😉  I’m glad the birthday boy loved the treats, though.  He sure does love his veggies.

The handsome boy after taking a bite of his biscuit

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Kombu Bay Red Chowder

Ingredients:

grilled Tofish [Could substitute regular grilled tofu.]

4 cups kombu/arame broth [2 dried kombu / 1½ T arame per quart of water.  Soak for 30 minutes and then bring to just under a boil and turn off heat.  Let sit an additional 30 minutes and then strain out the seaweeds.]

2 cups No Chicken broth

1 onion, sliced

1 leek, thinly sliced

2 carrots, cut into oblong coins

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1½  lb potatoes, diced into bite-sized chunks

1 28 oz can plum tomatoes, broken up into bite-sized pieces

5 cloves garlic, sliced

1 T dried thyme

1 T dried oregano

5 dried Turkish bay leaves [Not the fresh ones that taste like eucalyptus.]

5 fresh thyme sprigs tied into a bundle [This makes it much easier to remove later.]

½ cup white wine

olive oil

½  tsp liquid smoke [I would start by adding half the amount and tasting.  If you want the rest then add it.  Some people prefer a lighter smoke flavor.]

sea salt

freshly cracked black pepper

fresh basil [This adds a great flavor and beautiful color as a garnish.]

Directions:

Drizzle a bit of olive oil into a soup pot and place on medium heat.  Sauté the onion and leek until they have softened.  Add in the bell pepper, carrots and potatoes and continue to cook for about 10 more minutes.  Add the white wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated.  Add in the bay leaves, fresh and dried thyme, oregano and tomatoes.  Mix well and then add in the broths and liquid smoke.  Cook until the potatoes and carrots are fork-tender.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove bay leaves and thyme bundle.

Serve with a toasted piece of some crusty bread that’s been rubbed with fresh garlic and garnish with some fresh basil.

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Strawberry Tart with Gingered Coconut* Cashew Cream

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh strawberries

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours in water and rinsed

1/2  cup coconut milk

1 cup assorted raw nuts and seeds of your choosing [sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamia etc]

1 T freshly minced ginger

1/2  tsp vanilla extract

zest of one lemon, divided

agave syrup

sea salt

Directions:

Slice the strawberries and toss with a squirt of agave syrup, perhaps a tablespoon’s worth.  Set aside.

Blend the cashews together with the coconut milk, fresh ginger, vanilla and a pinch of salt until smooth.  Sweeten with agave to taste.

Add 1 cup of assorted seeds and nuts of your choosing to a food processor along with ½ the lemon zest.  Process until crumbly.  Add agave syrup until the nuts begin to clump.  Remove nut mixture and press into individual non-stick tart pans or into individual cupcake pan liners in a cupcake pan. [You could also just lightly press some onto a plate.] Unmold and place on a plate, if using the tart pans.  Top with the strawberries and cashew cream.  Garnish with the remainder of the lemon zest.

 

*I’ve recently revamped this recipe to replace the original use of ginger beer with coconut milk.  The reason that I initially used the ginger beer was because it was a dusty bottle sitting on the shelf and I was trying to figure out a use for it since we didn’t drink soda.  The addition of the coconut milk makes the cream more lush and delicious.

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Our largest local farmer’s market opened this past week and we ventured down there yesterday to prowl the produce.  The selection is still a bit sparse, given that spring has only just begun, yet we were able to find some interesting things.  The organic apples were gorgeous and crisp, as they should be considering that this is Washington state, and greens abounded.  We found some locally gathered stinging nettles and I couldn’t resist the novelty of them.  I’ve had nettle tea in the past but had never prepared, let alone eaten, a nettle.  The other food that made me stop and consider it was rhubarb.  I’ve always believed that I hated rhubarb because of a rather nasty piece of pie I once had, but I forced myself to gather up some of those gorgeous ruby-colored stalks and hand them to the vendor to purchase.  I knew that I could create something with these fearsome stalks that would be tasty, though I wasn’t sure yet just what that would be.  So there I was with organic Pink Lady apples, stinging nettles, rhubarb and Brussel’s Sprouts.  What to do…what to do?

Savory Rhubarb and Apple Sauce with Nettles

Ingredients:

3 apples, divided [2 grated and one diced]

8 stalks rhubarb [3 cups, sliced]

1 lb nettles* [You could substitute any green.  Spinach would work well.]

10 Brussel’s Sprouts

2 cups unfiltered apple juice

1 T light miso paste

1 tsp chili garlic sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

soba noodles

Directions:

Grate two apples and slice the rhubarb.  Transfer to a non-reactive pot and add in the apple juice.  Simmer until the apple and rhubarb dissolve.  Add in the miso paste and chili garlic sauce. 

Nettles should not be handled by bare hand until they have been cooked when the sting is no longer a worry.  Using gloves and kitchen shears, cut the leaves from the stalks.  Add to a pot of simmering water and cook for 10 minutes.  Drain. 

While the sauce is perking away, slice the Brussel’s sprouts in half and add to a pan containing a drizzle of olive oil.  Pan roast on each side until browned.  Add the diced apple to the pan and roast in the same manner as the sprouts. [If your pan is large enough, you can pan roast the sprouts and apple together.]

When the vegetables are about 5 minutes away from being ready, add the soba noodles to boiling water and cook.

Serve the noodles with the sauce and top with the greens, sprouts and apples.

***

*I can now say,  with amazement, that stinging nettles are my favorite green.  They are incredibly tasty and have a great hearty texture.  It’s no wonder, these greens are 40% protein! 

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Easter has been on my mind for a while now because it, along with Thanksgiving and Christmas, are important holidays where people gather for food and community.  These days can be especially stressful for vegans because you’re expected to do something a little extra special on these occasions and omnivores are used to substantial, rib-sticking meals that are centered around meat.  I’ve seen that many vegans and vegetarians are resorting to commercially made products that simulate roasts and thought, again, why not create something gorgeous that has identifiable ingredients and is made from scratch?  Why not, indeed.

I used the gyros-style seitan because when I think of traditional Easter foods, lamb comes to mind.   Back when I used to eat lamb,  I’d season it with bold herbaceous  flavors and lots of lemon.  Since I wanted to create a dish that shared these  flavors,  to my mind, Mediterranean was definitely the way to go.

 

 

This meal is essentially three dishes rolled into one,  and aside from the seitan, everything can be made a day or two beforehand to help de-stress the holiday.   Alternatively, you could make and bake the entire braciole a day or two ahead, refrigerate it and then slice and brown it up the day of the meal.  The longer it has to cool and set after baking, the better the roast will hold together.

For the braciole you will need:

1 recipe Gyros-style Seitan, uncooked in dough form

Mashed Potatoes with Celeriac, recipe follows below

Braised Mustard Greens, recipe follows below

Briny Cashew Cheese, recipe follows below

roasted red peppers

 

***

 

Mashed Potatoes with Celeriac

You will only need about a cup’s worth of this mash for the braciole but it makes a great side dish to fill out the meal, so make plenty to accompany the roast. 

Ingredients:

Russet potatoes

celeriac [Use half the amount as potatoes.]

roasted garlic, to taste [ 1 head garlic drizzled with olive oil and wrapped in foil.  400 degrees/45 minutes.]

Directions:

Whenever I make these root vegetable mashes, I always use twice the amount of potato as I do other vegetable.  Simply peel the vegetables and then cut into chunks.  Place in a pot with cold water.  The celeriac will probably float.  Simmer until vegetables are fork tender.  Drain and return to the pot to evaporate off any residual water.  Add in roasted garlic and mash.  Season with salt and pepper,  to taste.  Set aside for later.

 

Braised Mustard Greens

Ingredients:

1 lb mustard greens

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

olive oil

red pepper flakes

Directions:

Sauté the onion in a drizzle of olive oil until softened.  Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook until you can smell the garlic cooking.  Add the mustard greens and toss to coat.  Add ¼ cup water and cook until wilted down but still bright green.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Place greens in a cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove all excess liquid. [You don’t want your braciole to be soggy inside.]

 

Briny Cashew Cheese

This makes a great appetizer as well slathered on flatbread crackers.

Ingredients:

1 block firm silken tofu

1 cup raw cashews

Juice and zest of one lemon

1 T capers

10 Greek olives, pitted and diced

1 preserved lemon, diced

Directions:

Place the tofu and cashews in a food processor and run until smooth.  Add in juice and zest.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

 

Assembling the braciole:

Once you have mixed the wet and dry ingredients together to create the seitan dough, place upon a rolled out sheet of aluminum foil [2 feet long to give you ample room] and press out into a rectangular shape that has a thickness of about ½ an inch.  It’ll be roughly a foot long by 8-9 inches wide.  This is what you shall place subsequent layers upon and then roll the entirety into a log and bake.  It is important to leave a couple of inches of seitan bare on the right-hand end so that when the log is rolled you will have seitan-seitan contact and the log will seal.   

Top the seitan with a thin layer of mashed potato and celeriac, remembering to stop within a couple of inches of the right-hand end.  Next, layer with some roasted red pepper and then some mustard greens [Don’t pile them too high, remember you have to roll over this].  Finally add a strip of cashew cheese down the center from top to bottom.  If you want an entire layer of cheese that is fine, I wanted mine concentrated in the center of the roast and therefore only placed the cheese at the center.

Turn the braciole so that the right-hand end is now at the top and using the aluminum foil, begin to roll it upon itself until the log is formed.  Use the foil to maintain the structure and seal the braciole.  Add additional foil if necessary to cover the ends and fully seal the roast.

Bake for 90 minutes at 325°.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes.  Slice and serve as is, or as I prefer, brown the slices [or even the entire roast if you have a large enough fry pan]  in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil.

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