Archive | January, 2010

A Shout-out to Sarah Kramer

10 Jan

I have been on a cooking binge lately, so, dear readers, I have a backlog of recipes I want to share with you. Today, however, I will be sharing something that I cannot claim to be entirely my idea (or at all for that matter) but which turned out to be so delicious and exciting for me that I couldn’t help but share with you. Some of you may be familiar with the cool, chic, gorgeous, and inspiring vegan chef extraordinaire Sarah Kramer. You may know her from “How It All Vegan“, “The Garden of Vegan” and more recently “La Dolce Vegan“. I think she’s done an amazing job spreading the word on the vegan lifestyle in all that it encompasses is a cool and approachable way. “How It All Vegan” was actually one of the first books I picked up when I was first dabbling with veganism. C. recently acquired a copy of “La Dolce Vegan” and kindly lent it to me. Inside I found a recipe for Tu-no sandwiches and I jumped on it. It’s gluten-free, cheap and easy to make and sooooo delicious! I was beyond excited as I bit into my sandwich today at lunch, especially since I have also found a gluten-free bread that doesn’t taste like cardboard! (Actually, it’s as close to GF bread, as Tofurkey Italian Sausage is to meat sausage – not quite it, but so much better in the sense that it’s cruelty-free (to my poor intestines) and close enough to the real thing.) I, of course, altered the recipe to my tastes so I hope Ms. Kramer doesn’t mind if I post my version here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (which means, lots of exclamations of delight and smacking of lips.)

Peace,
Mags

Gluten-free Tu-No Cheeze Melt

(makes 2 servings)

1/2 C tempeh, crumbled
1/4 C Veganaise
2 hot pickles, mashed into a relish
a solid sprinkling of pepitas (approx 1-2 Tbs)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried dill
juice of 1/2 lime
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste

1 slice Tofutti Mozzarella
2 slices Ener-G white rice bread, toasted

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, slop on one piece of toast, cover with other side of toast smothered with melted Tofutti Mozzarella and devour!

Soul food Polish-style

7 Jan

One of my favorite foods in the world are potato pancakes or placki ziemnaczane. My earliest memories include my babcia (grandmother) grating the young golden potatoes, mixing up the batter and frying them up to a crispy goldenness and sliding them onto my plate fresh off the frying pan. I would gobble them up, in heaven as the little apartment filled up with the sweet and savory smell of frying potatoes. Hmm. To this day, potato pancakes remain my favorite food and a food in which I take extreme comfort, from the preparation to the final moment of feasting.

Becoming vegan raised the question of whether I would be able to continue enjoying this comfort food, as you need an egg to bind my babcia’s recipe. I have experimented and discovered, that flax meal works wonders and adds a slightest touch of nuttiness, which works great when fried, while apple sauce adds a touch of sweet. Today I share with you my vegan potato pancake recipe. These taste just as good (of course, nothing beats babcia’s, sure you understand). You can grate them finely almost to a mush, if you want a more pancake-y effect; this will make the grated potato give off more water, and you will need to add more flour. This time, I grated the potatoes coarsely with the effect of a more hashbrown-y pancake. The taste, is fantastic either way!

Potato Pancakes with Mushroom-Thyme Gravy, Tempeh-Mushroom Crumble and steamed green-beans

Potato Pancakes Polish Style

4 medium potatoes (grated to 3 C)

½ C Trader Joe’s Gluten Free pancake mix (or ½ C regular flour if you aren’t gluten free)

1 Tbs flax meal mixed with 3 Tbs warm water (option – 1/3 C unsweetened apple sauce)

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Grate potatoes.  Add flax meal and mix thoroughly. Add flour. Season with salt and pepper.

(Note: If you end up grating the potatoes finely, you will end up having to add more flour. You want the effect of American pancakes, not runny like for crepes – a bit clumpy and thick but wet enough to pour into a pancake shape. The thickly grated pancakes will result in a much clumpier batter and you will have to shape them on the griddle.)

Heat griddle or skillet. Spray with cooking spray or pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan (olive oil is not the best choice here – try canola, corn or vegetable oil). The cooking spray works just fine, but the more oil, the crispier the pancake will be.  Pour in batter into palm-size pancakes. Cook until golden brown and flip. Serve immediately.

To serve, sprinkle with sugar (I know it sounds weird, but if you can eat sugar (which I do not), it’s very tasty.), spread yogurt or sour cream (or the vegan alternative) or throw your favorite sauce on them. This time, I served them up with Mushroom-Thyme Gravy, Tempeh-Mushroom Crumble (Tempeh and diced mushrooms sauteed in Earth Balance with salt, pepper and a sprig of fresh thyme for the herby flavor.) with a side of steamed green beans.

Enjoy!

– Mags

The secret to mag-nificent vegan ricotta

5 Jan

1) Cook with a friend in her totally rad pad!

2) Use a food processor – honest to goodness, it helps.

3) Cashews

Yesterday being the first day after my two week vacation of being back at work, I didn’t particularly feel like cooking, but knew that the extra effort on my part, would make the transition back to the hum-drum 8-5 life-style a tad less painful. The decision was sealed when C called, also not in the mood to cook. Two tired and cranky vegans make one awesome delicious meal – don’t ask me how it works – we defy the laws of physics.  I cooked up a most delightful, aromatic and oooooh so yummy ratatouille with the eggplant, teeny baby zucchini, yellow summer squash, mushrooms, onions, bell pepper, roma tomatoes and fresh thyme that I had been hoarding in my fridge. (Recipe to come, I promise!) I packed it in my handy reusable cloth bag and walked (yes – you heard me, walked!) over to C’s apartment. (C. is now my neighbor and it fills me with glee, despite the fact that the reasons for her being my neighbor are bittersweet, with a heavy dose of bitter.)

C has a new gadget – a fine specimen of a food processor. My does this make a huge difference! Blenders, being by nature oblong and wielding a puny (by comparison) blade, tend to get clogged when prepping thicker pate-like substances. Food processors are like a blender on spinach! Yay! In any case, I have recently discovered the secret to successful “cheesy” and “creamy” vegan sauces, cheeses, etc. – CASHEWS! I came upon them while experimenting with mac’n’cheezy, but only recently attempted them in several recipes (also coming soon – I need to remake them and take pictures!) Ricotta is another recipe made phenomenal through the help of that humble little cashew.

On a side note, did you know that cashews are not a nut? They’re not! Cashews are little pods that hang off the bottom of apple-like tropical evergreen plants. They are encased in a shell that is abrasive to us people, much like poison ivy, and so they need to be processed mechanically to remove them, before they are safe to eat by us! But once we get them, boy oh boy are they tasty!

Anyway, C and I used cashew to make our ricotta, and the texture and taste was spot on! Mixed with the flavorful ratatouille, it was fantastic! Hope you give it a shot! (Oh and by the by, I am sure that you can totally use a blender. I don’t own a food processor, so most of my work gets done in the blender. The effect might be a tad more creamy, that’s all. It’ll still taste ah-mazing!)

Mag-nificent Ricotta

1 package Trader Joe’s Tofu (the high protein firm kind)

1/2 C raw cashews (you could even go to 3/4 C)

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs nutritional yeast

1 tsp lemon garlic salt

a dash of chili flakes (less than 1/8 tsp)

1/4 tsp black pepper

Throw the ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and mix until the consistency is a big grainy but creamy, like ricotta! Serve with your favorite veggies, ratatouille or sauce on pasta, spread on a lasagna, stuff into manicotti or try something new!

Cheers to all and a Happy New Year!

– Mags