Archive | May, 2009

Cremini Mushroom Gravy

26 May

This is a delicious addition originally made to go with Meatloaf! and purple mashed potatoes on our Blue Plate Special Night but that will also go very well with veggie burgers, as a sauce for baked tofu, or even as a pasta sauce. It is incredibly tasty. It’s only downfall – it disappears rapidly.


– Mags

Cremini Mushroom Gravy (aka. Wait! Where did the gravy go? )

1 tub of cremini mushrooms, sliced medium thin

1 Tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tsp oregano

3/4 C unsweetened hemp milk

1 Tbs white flour

1 Tbs balsamic vinegar

Add the sliced mushrooms to a hot saucepan. Cook without oil until start to brown ever so slightly (this is to make sure they don’t end up soaking up all the oil and being soggy). Add the olive oil and sauté until they mushrooms have shrunken and turned golden brown. Add salt and pepper to taste (approx. 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper – but this varies per person. I believe that too much salt with mushrooms is a bad idea, but the pepper brings out the aroma and taste of the mushrooms excellently, so I tend to add more pepper to mushrooms than I do to other foods.) Add oregano. Turn down heat to med-low and add hemp milk. Add the tbsp of flour slowly, whisking it in with a whisk or fork. (If you would like a more watery gravy, add more hemp milk; for a thicker gravy, add more flour.) Cook on med-low heat bubbling lightly until it thickens. Add balsamic vinegar and stir cooking for a little while longer to incorporate the flavor. Serve hot.


Granola experiment #2

24 May

I used the same basic recipe as last time, but I omitted oil and added some peanut butter. I stirred in oats instead of corn flakes, spead the mixture very thin, and baked it at 350, breaking the chunks up periodically, until it was nice and brown. The texture is a winner. It’s much, much nicer than the last batch. I do feel the flavor is a little bland. I don’t get it: bananas, apples, peanut butter, ginger, allspice, cinnamon. . it shouldn’t be bland. Maybe I just need to add a little salt to the mixture next time? Or some OJ or lemon juice?

More to come! I predict this summer will find the perfect burger and the perfect granola.

Be careful out there,



23 May

In celebration of the sudden change of climate in the Tucson area to one more reminiscent of Seattle or Portland, C. and I decided to try our hand at the ultimate comfort food: MEATLOAF. I don’t know about most people, but the original meatloaf (or at least the versions to which I have been subjected) is disgusting. Yet, for many people it is a comfort food, being warm and fresh from the oven and loaded with carbs 🙂 Vegan meatloaf, does provide a lot of comfort, especially when served with mashed purple potatoes, lemony green beans and a hemp-milk and balsamic cremini mushroom gravy. So here it is: a fine loaf indeed!



3/4 C instant mashed potatoes (dry)

2 C regular (not-flavored) TVP

2-1/2 C hot/boiling water

1 C fast-cooking oats

1/4 C flax meal

1/4 C nutritional yeast

1/4 C vegetarian oyster sauce

2 Tbs soy sauce

2 Tbs yellow ground mustard

1/4 C unsweetened ketchup


1/2 tsp each: fresh thyme, basil, oregano, sage, chili powder

1 tsp onion powder

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and add water. Mix until the entire mixture is moist. Add wet ingredients and combine. Add spices, mix, then knead with hands to combine. Form into two equal sized bricks. Coat with unsweetened ketchup mixed with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Bake on a greased baking sheet in a preheated 400F oven for approx. 40 minutes or until tops and edges brown. Let sit for a couple minutes before serving.

meat loaf close up

Blue Plate Special

22 May

Yesterday afternoon, I had a number of ingredients in my fridge that needed to get cooked (always the start of a great culinary adventure). A small bag of purple and red potatoes, a large bag of green beans, a container of creminis, half a lemon. The easy thing to do with the aforementioned is green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy. But what to have for a carb (protein?). Mags and I simultaneously thought “meat loaf!

I asked Mags make the loaf (she is the TVP genius) while I made the smashed potatoes and green beans. I also had her make the gravy, because she makes better gravy than I do. This means that while she did all the creative cooking, I got away with super-simple but impressive tasting sides. I added unsweetened hemp milk (very sweet naturally with a heavy, creamy consistency), nutritional yeast and horseradish (just a smideon!) to the cooked potatoes and smashed. I steamed the green beans and tossed them in a little olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Seriously, it could not have been easier. My two great additions to the meal were a) adding the balsamic to the loaf glaze and b) playing MeatLoaf as background music while we ate.

Mags will have to tell you what secret magic she worked on the DELICIOUS WHY ISN’T THERE MORE OF IT?! gravy.

I will post pictures to make you wish you were here in the Old Pueblo listening to the rain and eating a blue plate special.

All spread out pretty on the table

All spread out pretty on the table

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

We are the hippy food ninjas, and we are the diner plate queens. (we are the music makers/and we are the dreamers of dreams/ wandering by lone sea-breakers/ and sitting by desolate streams/ -world-losers and world-forsakers,/ on whom the pale moon gleams/ yet we are the movers and shakers/ of the world for ever, it seems – Arthur O’Shaughnessy)



Tuna Melt and an update

18 May

Every time I go to a greasy spoon diner (which is once a week) I want a tuna melt. But clearly, no tuna melts in my world, except at Lovin’ Spoonfuls. Lovin’ Spoonfuls is across town and expensive. I am against these things. I had a can of weird Chinese soy abalone that Mags and I bought at the 17th St. Market. So, tuna salad is not a complicated food. Veganaise, dijon, dill relish, celery salt, garlic powder, onion powder (too lazy to press garlic or chop onion), pepper.  It didn’t smell fishy enough, so I added some capers + caper juice. (Real) cheddar, (fairly accurate) jewish rye, griddle. Yummy.

It was a fairly small sandwich, so I decided to have some of the soup I’d made on the side. It was a remake of the chilled curried soup, but a slightly different version. I cooked the garlic into the soup instead of adding it in raw afterward. I added more curry + ginger. And, most importantly, I cooked it in almost a full can of coconut milk with some added water to cover. At the end, I added some super-soft tofu and cashews + blended. 

Here’s the weird part: when chilled, it has the flavor and texture of pudding. Like, it tastes like it could be pie filling. Totally weird, but tasty. 

Chiles rellenos are in the works for the week, as are numerous kinds of bread and some black bean jalapeno hummus. 

Eat well and be careful out there,


Italian Sausage – home style!

18 May

Ahhh, Tofurky. Those of us who are vegan/vegetarian have come to know and love this brand’s products. One of my favorites is the Italian Sausage with sun-dried tomatoes and basil. It’s delicious! It’s also expensive. When I discovered other food-bloggers posting about home-made vegan sausage, I was ecstatic! My goal – get as close to the Tofurky ideal as is humanly possible. My first attempt was weak. I admit, that I got the steaming process down, and I realized just how insanely easy it is to create vegan sausage. I also created something, that for all intents and purposes was not edible – bland as heck, and I used anise extract instead of ground fennel, which was a HUGE mistake.  A little discouraged (especially after D. spat out his bite), I turned to C. who kindly reassured me that all it needs is MUCH more seasoning. So finally, here is attempt two. I looked to the Tofurky ingredients list for Italian Sausage as a guide: (tofu, vital wheat gluten, olive oil, water, soy sauce, sundried tomatoes, textured wheat protein, basil, spices, granulated garlic, salt and chili powder.) The only thing I didn’t have was textured wheat protein, so I figured it should be good. I was very liberal with the spices, and the result was phenomenal! Tastes just like the Tofurky sausage (I think it’s better, actually, but that might just be creator’s bias 🙂 )  I made the mistake of trying it in a quinoa risotto that C. and I made, that was over salted, and we ended up thinking that this time I over-seasoned the sausage, but trying it the next day, confirmed that it is ideal. I might go down a tad on the salt, but on the other hand, sausage is usually salty, n’est pas? So here it is: the fruit of my ehh, kitchen experimentation and perseverance:


– Mags

Italian Sausage

1/2 container silken tofu

1/4 C chopped re-hydrated sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 C fresh basil leaves, chopped finely

1/4 C olive oil

2 Tbs soy sauce

1 Tbs tomato paste

3 tsp salt

1 Tbs fennel

1 tsp chili powder, paprika, cayenne

1/2 Tbs rosemary, marjoram, oregano

1 Tbs dried basil

1 Tbs granulated garlic

1/2 tsp pepper

1-1/2 C vital wheat gluten

Makes 9 sausages (3″ long)

Crumble tofu into medium bowl. Add sun-dried tomato, basil, soy sauce, olive oil, tomato paste and spices. Add wheat gluten and mix by hand until strands of gluten start to form and everything is well incorporated. Now here is the trick – smell it. If you can smell the spices, then you’re good. If not, you may need to add some more. I know this is a strange suggestion, but it worked for me this time. I know that this looks like an exorbitant amount of spices (I know, I gawked at it myself) but either the steaming or the nature of wheat gluten dulls the flavor a LOT. Oddly enough, sitting in the fridge makes the severity of the spices dull down significantly – so sprinkle away!

Form into sausage shapes (approx. 9) and wrap in aluminum foil (I do several wrap-a-rounds to make sure the water doesn’t get into the sausage.) in the style of an old-fashioned candy-wrapper (twist the two ends). Fill medium pot with about 1/2″ water and bring to boil. Add sausages and cover. Steam for 40 minutes and voilà!

That’s amore

18 May

This week I’ve been playing around with pizza dough. I haven’t been posting about it because it’s. . .just pizza. I use Giada DiLaurentiis’ Roman Pizza dough recipe (yeast, flour, water, salt, olive oil) and my first pizza I just topped with store-bought marinara (I usually make my own, but I haven’t any made right now) and pepper jack because that’s the only cheese we had. Last night I did a 5-cheese blend for some calzones and filled mine with some Mediterranean Vegetable Caviar (to which I added jalapeno, olives and capers this time around) and Mags’ amazing italian sausage (which she’ll post the recipe to soon). Much as I love cheese, I think this would have done better as a vegan calzone with just the caviar + sausage. Both have very complex flavors that were overpowered by the cheese.

I have a feeling now that I can make a decent dough, there will be many pizzas coming out of my kitchen (quick, easy,makes a lot of food) so I’ll post some more interesting recipes. Later this week: chiles rellenos!

Stay tuned,