Saturday, December 26, 2009

Veganize It: The Year In Review



What a year it has been here at Veganize It...Don't Criticize it! No recipe this week. You have one minute to weep.

Okay, that's enough, pansy.

Instead of ending the year with a recipe, I decided to do a year in review! It has been quite a ride in my kitchen. First, I had to move kitchens from west side to half-way east side. I assure you, moving my kitchen is perhaps one of the most daunting challenges I could possibly face. My kitchen required more boxes than my bedroom and living room combined. Then, I moved into an apartment with not only the shittiest oven I've ever had the displeasure of using, but with about half the cabinet space I had grown accustomed to having.

Jane has grown quite fond of showing our guests the overly-stocked-with-
ingredients shelves of our cabinetry, always making sure to point out that there is only one shelf allocated to actual "ready to eat" snack foods. In all fairness, I warned her before we moved in together that the kitchen would be my territory. Sure, she can use it...but not without me peering slyly around the corner making sure she doesn't damage my stunning new oven.

Anyway, on to the review. Let's start at the very beginning. Some of the recipes I chose were my favorites from the past year, and others were your favorites.

January's Heirloom Bean, Red Russian Kale and Wheat Berry Chili [above] post started off my year with a bang when it accidentally sparked international controversy. Turns out my sense of humor doesn't cross cultures, and I received more Paraguayan and Brazilian hate mail from Avril Lavigne fans than I can even count.

Not much to say about this one except that I entered it in a recipe contest and didn't even get an honorable mention. They can kiss my bundt cake.


In this post I touched on my love for all kinds of mushrooms...even the one's that make you think trees are talking to you and that eating on the floor of Domino's Pizza is a great idea.

'Nuff said.

The most decadent vegan mac and cheese you will ever eat. Yes, the ingredients are a bit of a treasure hunt...but why should vegetarians get to have all the fun?


Like the title says, "Veganize It...Don't Criticize it.

If you couldn't tell from my 9 million blog posts including Morel Mushrooms, they are one of my favorite earthly gifts. This recipe tops my top 10 list of "Ways To Enjoy Morels". Yes, they're pricey. Yes, I pawned my grandmas old necklace to but a pound. And yes, it was worth every ounce of Jew Guilt I experienced.

The post with my first cooking video. I know I've been slacking on making more of them, but I promise a second season in 2010. You know how it is in show biz. I'm waiting for results from my focus groups...or until I can afford a new video camera.

A spicy surprise for my mother's birthday. Unlucky for her, chipotle and chocolate have similar coloration muahaha.

Yes, please.

It's getting cold out. Keep warma with Shawarma hahahaha. Oh, really...I'm just too much.


And that concludes our Veganize It! Year In Review. I hope you have the munchies as badly as I do right now from all these photos. Well, it could've been the joint that magically disappeared as I was writing this post. Just kidding. I don't BUI (Blog Under The Influence).

See you next year, kids.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Candied Masala Yams Coulis Casserole


If thinking about food counted as caloric intake, I would be one of those 800-pound people that eventually gets saved by Maury Povich. I'm sure it's pretty easy to gather from reading this little bloggy blog, but I think about food constantly. The only other subject that gives food a run for its money is sex. I guess I'm a fan of self-indulgent quick fixes, and I like it that way. When I'm not actually eating, I'm reading about food, writing about food, and downloading restaurant menus online purely just to examine their offerings.

The funny thing is that my fiance is the complete opposite. [Edit: I'm referring to the "food" issue...not the sex issue. That would be simply ludicrous]. She doesn't think about food unless I shove it in her face. She eats purely out of necessity, unless it's cherry pie. I've seen the woman plow through an entire cherry pie in one sitting...and she's 5'9" and 115 lbs. Can you say sexy bitch? Yes, please. Aside from cherry pie, though, she couldn't give a crap less about eating. When I start rambling about a dish I'm creating, I've started to notice that her eyes glaze over as her mind wanders off to a far away place I'll never know or understand. It's our differences that make us a good match...and it also provides me with a challenge.

I know that if I cook something and Jane likes it, it has to be good. I like to think I have good taste in people that have good taste. None-the-less, picky eaters have always piqued my curiosity...the first being the little sister I always talk about. Conspiracy that she and Jane both happen to be Pisces? I think not. Impressing a discerning (aka difficult) palate has always been somewhat of a game to me, so I let Thanksgiving be my playground.

"What do you want for Thanksgiving?", I asked Jane.

"Candied Yams.", she said.

"Aaand??"

"That's it. Just the yams."

"Alright", I said, fully knowing I would find a way to secretly make them spiffier than usual without her noticing. I'm like the conniving mother that sneaks vegetables into milkshakes.

Needless to say, they were a hit. I've made them with both Chicago Soy Dairy's Dandies and Sweet and Sara's Plain Marshmallows, and both versions were A++.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Jesus.

Candied Masala Yams Coulis Casserole

  • 4 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 4-5 large Yams
  • 1/2 cup Vegan Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 cup MimicCreme (or Alternative, pg XX)
  • 1/4 cup Soy Creamer (Original Flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3 Whole Cloves, ground
  • Pinch of Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • 1 bag of Dandies Vegan Marshmallows (or 1 tub Sweet and Sara Marshmallows or Ricemellow Creme)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then boil the yams until very soft to the touch...about 20-30 minutes. Drain the yams well, then set aside until cool enough to handle.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel off the yam skins completely, then place the peeled yams in a large bowl. Use a potato masher to mash the yams up a bit, then set aside.

In a very large pot over medium heat, melt the vegan margarine. Add the brown sugar, MimicCreme, soy creamer, garam masala, cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg. Whisk together well, then bring the mixture to a simmer while whisking occasionally. Allow the mixture to simmer until the brown sugar has melted completely.

Add the mashed yams to the pot, and stir to fully combine. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then remove the pot from heat.

Using either a food mill (an immersion blender or food processor will also suffice), pass the mixture though the food mill while straining over a large bowl. If you decide to use an immersion blender or food processor, just blend/process until fully pureed.

Transfer the yams to a casserole dish, then spread out evenly. Top with Dandies Marshmallows, then bake 20-30 minutes until the marshmallows are golden brown and the center is warm.

Let cool a moment prior to serving.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Belgium Ale and Roasted Garlic Fused White "Chicken" Chili Gumbo

Well, I've finally joined the rat race...and by "Rat Race" I make no allusions to animal testing, of course. Yes, I found myself a full time, sit at a desk all day from 9-5, J-O-B. I would much rather have a job in a restaurant, but you wouldn't believe how difficult it is to find employment for something you do well.

I have a desk. I am surrounded by a cast of characters that aren't a far cry from my favorite show, "The Office" I've spent my first four days there not only fitting every employee into mold of one of the show's cast members, but also deciding which character from the show I would be. "Angela" is a petite vegetarian, but my energy is more "Pam" and I'm far less bitchy than Angela. "Oscar" is gay like me, but my sense of humor is so much more "Jim".

Facebook tells me I'd be Andy Bernard, but Facebook also tells me I'm "Blanche" from Golden Girls when I feel I'm definitely more of a "Dorothy". Why does Facebook think it's so damn smart?

Anyway, I'm way off track here for the recipe. It has been FUCKING COLD in Los Angeles this past week. I'm not just talking about that "Ohh, Boo Hoo. It's 65 and I'm freezing my balls off" cold. REAL cold. I've had to bust out my winter down parka circa 2002 that makes me look like an orange Michelin Man. And to top it all off, it's actually been raining here. And my heater is broken.

While I can't stand the cold, I do love to warm myself up. Hot cocoa, tea, and my personal favorite, soup. This recipe fuzes two of my favorite "in a bowl" meals: Chili and Gumbo. I ate it cozied up next to my space heater, and I was in a state of bliss for a few hours following.

On a related not, you've seen my previous blasts about my friend Trevor's program in the past. They are now offering sign-ups for the next course, so definitely don't miss out! Here's all the info:

Discover How To Thrive On A Vegan Diet

If you'd like to thrive on a vegan (or vegetarian) diet, whip up delicious meals in 10-30 minutes, and stop being vulnerable to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, here's great news...

There's a new certification course, The Vegan / Vegetarian Mastery Program. To give you a sneak preview, the Director is publishing a free newsletter, “Trevor’s Vegetarian Health Secrets”.

When you sign up, you’ll get brief excerpts from The Mastery Program once or twice a week -- with no cost or obligation.

What's more, we've arranged a *special bonus* for you. It’s a yummy "Vegetarian Holiday Recipe Collection" -- including a delicious tofu turkey, mushroom gravy, pumpkin pie, savory egg nog, and more.

To get the bonus ebook, just type “Jennifer” when prompted for a Promo Code. To sign up, click here:

http://www.abbeysvegetarianrecipes.com/cmd.php?af=1049384

The Vegetarian Health Institute

5740 Maccall St, Suite C
Oakland, CA
94609



Belgium Ale and Roasted Garlic Fused White "Chicken" Chili Gumbo

  • 2 sticks of Vegan Margarine
  • 1 1/4 cups Self Rising Flour
  • 1/2 batch Vegan Chicken, ground in a food processor or blender (about 8oz.)
  • Olive Oil, enough for sautéing ground Vegan Chicken
  • 1 head of Garlic, roasted*
  • 1 medium Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks of Celery, finely chopped
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 4 cups Better Than Bouillon's No Chicken Broth
  • 1 bottle of Belgium White Ale
  • 1 tsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 TBSP Green Tabasco Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Salsa Verde
  • 1/2 lb Okra, sliced
  • 1/2 lb of White Button Mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of Collard Greens
  • 1 can Cannellini Beans, drained
  • 5 Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Flat Leaf Parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Creole Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • Pinch of Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp File Powder
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • 4-6 servings of Cooked White Rice

*Chef's Note: To roast garlic, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Slice off the top of the head of garlic so that all the cloves are revealed. Place the head of garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, then wrap the head up in foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 1/2 hour, then set aside to cool. The roasted cloves should squeeze right out.

Drizzle some olive oil in a large skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the ground vegan chicken to the skillet and saute until browned, about 6-8 minutes.

Preheat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Make the roux by
melting the vegan margarine, then combining with the flour and stirring until it just reaches the color of the margarine. Add the roasted garlic, and sauté 30 seconds until fragrant.

Add chopped onions, celery, bell pepper and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Saute until the onions and begin to soften, about 6-7 minutes. Add the No Chicken Broth and Beer, then bring to a boil.

Add green tabasco, vegan worcestershire, salsa verde, cut okra, mushrooms, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Boil for about 1/2 hour.

Add beans, green onions, collard greens, parsley and cilantro, and boil for another 20 minutes.

Turn down the heat to a simmer, and season with cumin, Creole seasoning, oregano, cayenne and onion powder. Add vegan "chicken", and allow the Gumbo/Chilli to simmer until vegan meats are fully cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in the file, corn meal and lemon juice, then cook and additional four minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve with rice.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Curry Pork, Enoki Mushroom and Purple Basil Potstickers with Porcini, Shiro, Sake, Brown Rice Vinegar Reduction

I never get sick. Maybe it's my Super Vegan Immune System or the 2+ bottles of Kombucha I drink daily, but illness does not cramp my style. Well, last week I had to change my "never" to "sometimes". For whatever reason, I fell terribly ill with the flu the day after Thanksgiving. For three days, I was bed-ridden, booger-crusted and just plain crabby. I blame it on one of two things, because I refuse to blame myself for lack of personal upkeep:

A) The ridiculous amount of Thanksgiving cooking I did for 10 people.
B) The fact that it actually feels like winter in Los Angeles, and it's FUCKING COLD.

Okay, it's not "Bitter East Coast Winter" cold, but it's damn near chilly for this part of the USA. At least I can bust out my plaid scarves.

In any event, I ate lots of soup, couldn't cook to save my life, and whined like a little bitch, and now I'm feeling much better.

I did make one terrible mistake in hopes of keeping myself occupied, though. I purchased The Sims 3. I've never divulged my former addiction to the EA Games phenomenon, but I was heavily hooked on The Sims in high school. It all started because my best friend's dad is somewhat of a computer program hacking pro. He had two computers in his office, and hooked us both up with a version of the game on each computer. It started as innocent fun, and quickly turned to a need for a 12 step group to help us de-value our virtual relationships with our Sims.

Instead of interacting with actual human beings on a Friday night, Amy and I would get stoned silly and play The Sims for hours on end. We'd exchange maybe 10 words, and demolish gigantic bags of Sour Patch Kids. Eventually, there was an intervention, and we were able to step away from the screen.

I thought I'd stepped away from the world of RPG games, scoffing at the World of Warcraft addicts. Well, I've fallen off the wagon. Not only will I Sim with a vengeance, but I've also taken quite a liking to FarmVille and Restaurant City on Facebook.

Let's just hope I find a job sooner than later.

Curry Pork, Enoki Mushroom and Purple Basil Potstickers with
Porcini, Shiro, Sake, Brown Rice Vinegar Reduction

For the Potstickers...
  • 1 batch Vegan Pork, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • 3.5 oz Enoki Mushrooms, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tightly packedcup of Purple Basil Leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of Green Cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 TBSP Salt
  • 1/4 cup Scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Leek, top removed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 TBSP Vegetable Oil
  • 1 TBSP Tamari
  • 1 TBSP Curry Powder
  • 1 TBSP Mirin
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely grated
  • 1 tsp fresh Ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp Dark Sesame Oil
  • 2 TBSP Chives, minced
  • Touch of Salt and Pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 1 package of Vegan Potsticker Wrappers
  • Vegetable Oil, enough for fry potstickers
  • 1/2 cup Hot No Chicken Broth (alternatively Vegetable Broth or Water), divided in half.
Purple (aka Opal) Basil
Chef's Note: You are going to need to grind the pork seitan shortly after it's finished cooking, so don't make it a day in advance if possible. Alternatively, you can buy packaged vegan chicken or beef instead of making seitan. Grind up as directed for the vegan pork.

Once the vegan pork has cooking, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon instead of draining off all the broth. Immediately place the pieces of pork seitan into a food processor, then pour 1 TBSP of the broth inside the food processor. Grind to the texture of ground beef, then place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Take your chopped cabbage, and place it in a large bowl. Sprinkle a 1/2 TBSP of salt over top, then let it stand for 1/2 hour while you prep the rest of your ingredients. After the cabbage has sat for 1/2 hour, use a cheesecloth, dishtowel or paper towels to drain as much liquid from the cabbage as possible. Set the drained cabbage aside to dry further.

Once the vegan pork is ground and all the ingredients are prepped, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add the vegan ground pork, enoki mushrooms, leek and scallions to the skillet, and saute for 3-4 minutes until the leeks are soft and translucent. Turn the heat down to medium low, then add cabbage and stir to combine. Add curry powder, tamari, garlic and ginger and ginger to the pan, stir will, then saute another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, add the purple basil, chives and sesame oil, then use your hands to combine completely. Taste for salt and pepper.

To assemble the potstickers, prepare a small bowl of water for moistening the wrappers. Take each wrapper, and lay it out on a flat surface. Place a small spoonful of the filling in the center of the wrapper....

Dip your finger in the bowl of water, then run your finger around the outside edge of HALF of the wrapper. Making sure that the wet and dry side don't meet yet, carefully fold the wrapper in half like a taco.

Start at one end, and carefully pinch the sides together. Work your way around to the other end, making sure the potsticker is completely airtight so that the filling remains inside. Repeat with each potsticker, then set aside with the "fold" side up so that the bottom becomes flat. Let sit until you're ready to cook them.

You can cook the potstickers one of several ways. I used the steam/pan fry method, but you can also feel free to use other methods:

1. Steam/Pan Fry:
Using a large skillet with a lid, pour in enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil over high heat until it's shining, then place enough potstickers in the pan so that it is filled, but not over crowded.

Add 1/4 cup of the No Chicken Broth (or veggie stock or water) to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, then cover with a lid. Allow them to cook for 4 minutes, then remove the lid and add an additional 1/4 cup of broth. Let the potstickers cook until the water fully evaporates. Once the water is evaporate, cool an additional minute, then remove from the pan and serve.

Repeat the process until all of the potstickers are cooked.

2. Deep Fry
Heat several inches of oil in a large stock pot or deep fryer until it registers 350 degrees F. Carefully drop the potstickers in the heated oil, then fry until golden brown (about 5-7 minutes). Carefully remove them with a mesh strainer or slotted spoon, then place on a towel to drain and cool. Serve.

3. Steaming
Using a rice cooker with a steamer basket, place about 2-3 cups of water (depending on the width of the pot) in the bottom of the rice cooker. Place the steamer basket over top of the water, then place enough potstickers in the basket so that it is full but the potstickers do not overlap. Turn the rice cooker to the "cook" setting, and let the potstickers steam for about 10-12 minutes, until cooked through. Be careful that the water doesn't fully evaporate.

Once the potstickers are done steaming, carefully remove the steamer basket then pour the remaining liquid in the cooking pot over top of them to help unstick.

Serve immediately.

For the Porcini, Shoyu and Sake Reduction
  • 1 handful of Dried Porcini Mushrooms
  • 1 cup Hot Water
  • 1/2 cup Shoyu
  • 1/2 cup Sake
  • 1/4 cup Brown Rice Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Mirin

Place the dried porcinis in a deep bowl, then the hot water over top of them. Use a heavy object to ensure that the porcinis are submerged in the hot water. Let the porcinis soak in the hot water for 1/2 hour.

Using a mesh strainer, place a bowl in your sink to catch the soaking liquid. Pour the porcinis over the strainer so that the soaking liquid pour into the bowl. You can save the porcinis for another recipe, or discard them.

Place the porcini soaking liquid, shoyu, sake, brown rice vinegar and mirin in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and allow it to boil until the mixture reduces by 2/3rds. Serve as a dipping sauce or drizzle over potstickers.



Thursday, November 26, 2009

White Pepper Vegan Turkey Shawarma with Chipotle Tomato Relish and Roasted Garlic, Sage and Artichoke Tahini Paste

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Since I've already broached the topic of "What I'm Thankful For" in last week's post, this week I'm looking towards the future and how I want to improve upon my life. In fact, I've already purchased my 2010 planner...and intend to use it past January. My ultimate goal by the end of next year is to be completely financially independent of my parents. I can't really be considered a loser because I don't live in their basement. But by 25, I really need to stand on my own two feet.

The most ironic part of all is that my father is a financial planner. Instead of Goodnight Moon, I had pop-up books like "Don't Break The Piggy Bank" and "How to Make Your Allowance Work For You!". Yet I'm still clueless about and outright avoid budgeting. I partially blame Daddy Shags for my fears. I remember one day in particular during my teenage years, he gave me a calculator device that shows you how much buying a cup of coffee and a pack of cigarettes each day will ultimately add up to in one year. Instead of heeding his advice after seeing the astronomical sum of money, I adopted the "ignorance is bliss" philosophy.

Well, 7 years down the line, ignorance definitely does not feel blissful when I log into my US Bank online banking and view my account balance. So point A of improvement this year will be my financial well-being.

On a related note, if you are in the Los Angeles area and own any kind of business, please hire me. I'm smart. I'm overly punctual. I'm a quick learner, and I guarantee to make you laugh when you're feeling stressed. I'm also not that bad looking and tend to smell nice, so you won't mind having me around. My only limitation is that I'd like to work days as opposed to evenings, but it's not a deal breaker. Alright, that pretty much takes care of Point B...to find a job.

My final focal point of self-improvement is to be a better friend. Anyone familiar with lesbian relationships knows that we tend to sink into oblivion when we're in a stable relationship. The term "Cat Lesbian" can easily be linked to this behavior. I have indeed holed myself up in my domestic lesbian haven, and it's time for me to get out and live it up a little more. Just because I'm getting married doesn't mean it's time to hang up my dancing shoes, put away my eye glitter and let my amazing tolerance for alcohol drop. Point C is: Plan to party! Hopefully, this won't conflict with Point A: Plan to budget. And no, I don't really wear eye glitter.

Enjoy your UnTurkey Day!

White Pepper Vegan Turkey Shawarma with Chipotle Tomato Relish
and Roasted Garlic, Sage and Artichoke Tahini Paste

For the Shawarma:
  • 1 batch of Vegan Turkey, cooked in one large piece (recipe follows)
  • 2 Yellow Onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 TBSP Turmeric
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp White Pepper
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided (amounts indicated in recipe)
  • 8 Whole Pitas
  • 1 cup of Pickled Eggplant, thinly sliced (or thinly sliced Pickled Cucumber)

Slice the giant piece of Turkey Seitan into 8 cutlets. Take a large, shallow baking dish that's large enough for all the cutlets, then place the cutlets in the baking dish.

Combine all the spices together in a small bowl.

Place the sliced onion in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of the spice blend and drizzle 2 TBSP of the Olive Oil over top of them, turning them over to make sure both sides are coated well.

Sprinkle the remainder of the spice blend over both sides of the Vegan Turkey cutlets, using your hands to rub the spice blend in well. Drizzle 4 TBSP of olive oil over top of the cutlets, again turning to make sure both sides are coated.

Cover both the "Turkey" and the "Onions", then place in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours.

Pre-heat your oven to the "Keep Warm" setting, or between 150 and 200 degrees F.

After the 4-8 hours of chilling time, rub a grill pan or your grill rack with olive oil and get it pre-heating. Brush each pita bread with enough olive oil to coat well. Grill slices of onion until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes per side. Then grill the Vegan Turkey cutlets until browned and warmed through, about 3 minutes per side. Finally, grill the pita bread until you get some nice grill marks, about 2 minutes per side. Place on a baking rack in the oven to keep warm until ready to assemble the shawarma.

Place the Vegan Turkey Cutlets and onion slices on a cutting surface....

Make a kind of sandwich, placing a "Turkey" cutlet on the top and bottom, then onion slices in the middle. Thinly slice the cutlet sandwich crosswise, repeating the process until all the "Turkey" and onions have been thinly sliced. Transfer the sliced "Turkey" and onions to a large bowl.

Place even amounts of the "Turkey"/Onion mixture on each pita bread, top with Chipotle Tomato Relish, Pickled Eggplant, and Roasted Garlic, Sage and Artichoke Tahini Sauce.

Roasted Garlic, Sage and Artichoke Tahini Paste

  • 1 1/2 cups Tahini
  • 1 can of Artichoke Hearts, drained
  • 1 whole bulb of Garlic
  • Olive Oil, for drizzling on Garlic
  • 2 tsp Fresh Sage, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup Hot Water
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel away the outer layers of skin on the garlic bulb, then slice of the top 1/4-1/2 inch of the bulb so that the cloves are exposed. Place the piece of garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil, then drizzle the bulb with olive oil so that it's coated well.

Wrap the garlic up in foil and bake in the preheated oven for 1/2 hour. Set aside to cool.

Pulse the Artichoke Hearts several times in a food processor or blender to break them up a bit.

Once the garlic is cool, squeeze out the cloves into a food processor or blender, then add the remaining ingredients. Blend until the mixture becomes a smooth paste.

Taste for salt and pepper.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Chipotle Tomato Relish
  • 1 1/4 lb Vine Ripened Tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Dried Chipotle Peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/8 cup + 1 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • Handful of Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
Combine all of the above ingredients in a medium sized bowl, then taste for salt and pepper. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to use.

Vegan Turkey

Vegan Turkey Dough
  • 1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1/3 cup No Chicken Broth
  • 1/3 cup White Ale
  • 1/3 cup MimicCreme

For the Broth...
  • 4 cups prepared Better Than Bouillon's No Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Stock
  • 1 cup of Dry White Wine (I use Chardonnay)
  • 1/2 can of Light Ale
  • 1 1/4 cup MimicCremeTM
  • 1 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 cup Mirin
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Yellow Mustard Powder
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Stalk of Celery, sliced
  • 1 TBSP Mellow White Miso Paste
Combine all of the broth ingredients EXCEPT the mellow white miso paste in a very large stock pot. Bring to a boil, then add the mellow white miso paste and stir until dissolved.

Whisk together the liquids for the dough (No Chicken Broth, White Ale and MimicCreme), then by mix with the vital wheat gluten and knead until it’s completely mixed. Squeeze out any excess liquid, then depending on the recipe you're using the vegan turkey for, either shape into one large rectangle or flatten the dough into a circle and and use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut into four pie wedge “Turkey Breast” shaped pieces.

Drop the dough into the pot of boiling broth, reduce heat to simmer, and cover the pot with a lid. Let the seitan simmer for about an hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

Once done cooking, drain the Turkey Seitan well. Place the pieces (or piece) of seitan on top of a drying rack, then allow it to drain for a few hours to achieve that "dry" element that real turkey has.

Use as directed in any of my vegan turkey recipes, or substitute for real turkey in one of your favorites!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oregano and Basil-Rubbed Marsala "Flank Steak" stuffed with Saffron Wild Mushrooms

I'm pretty sure that this time of year indicates the need to reflect and "give thanks" for all we are grateful for on this earth. I find it most helpful to make a pros and cons list, thus the cons highlight the pros of the past year.

Pro:
I met the woman of my dreams and am happily engaged.
Con:
I lost my reigning title as "Pimpstress of Mystery".

Pro:
I have two adorable little doggies.
Cons:
Said dogs do not always understand that outside is the bathroom.

Pro:
My cookbook is getting published.
Con:
My desire to tackle my workload must now overpower my desire to smoke a bong.

Pro:
I bought some new furniture.
Con:
The furniture was from Ikea.

True, the pros far outweigh the cons. I feel I've also grown a great deal as a chef, lover and human being in general. A year ago, I never imagined I'd be sharing my home with someone I care for so deeply. I never imagined my thoughts would wander towards the desire to start a family. I also never imagined I'd have so much laundry to do every week. Indeed, I have much to be thankful for.

But if so much can change for the good in just one year, it also makes me fearful for the year ahead. I want to believe that all will continue on a positive path. The past has shown me the many ups and downs of life, and I'm just not quite ready for any downs to rain on my parade...except on my wedding day, because I hear that's good luck. It's tough for me to imagine anything going completely screwy. To protect myself a bit, I find it important to note that, even during one of the best years of my life, there was a little bad in the good.

What am I truly thankful for? My future wife. Our life together. My family's undying support of my creative endeavors. My OCD cleaning tendencies that prevent our apartment from turning into a bachelorette pad. My new lime green vacuum. The Veggie Grill for opening up the street from me. The now 5+ restaurants that will deliver vegan pizza to my home. My new oven. Armor-All doggie training pads. The roses Jane bought me last week. My sister being amazing and graduating from college this year. My super cool neighbor that sells cosmetics to Sephora. And lastly, Best Buy for declining my credit card application and saving me excess debt.

2009 was a good year indeed.

Oregano and Basil-Rubbed Marsala "Flank Steak"
stuffed with Saffron Wild Mushrooms

  • 1/2 cup Tamari
  • 1/8 cup Marsala Wine
  • 1 1/2 cups tightly packed Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Oregano Leaves
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • 2 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • Pinch of Spanish Saffron Threads
  • 1/4 cup Shallots, finely diced
  • 1/2 Leek, white part only, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup Oyster Mushrooms, sliced
  • Large pinch of Salt, for Mushrooms
  • Black Pepper, to taste, for Mushrooms
  • 1 1/4 batch of Vegan Beef* (See specific preparation instructions below)

*When making the Vegan Beef, instead of cutting into steak size pieces before dropping into the broth, leave it all in one piece. Shape it into a long, flat rectangle that's about 7-8 inches long and about 4-5 inches wide. Drop into the broth and boil for 1 hour, turning every 15 minutes. Drain well, and you're ready to go. It should look like this...

Place the vegan Steak in a large, shallow container. Combine the Tamari and Marsala wine, then pour over the "steak". Allow the "Steak" to marinate for 1/2 hour on each side. When finished marinating, reserve the marinade for a dipping sauce. You can also reduce it in a saucepan if desired.

In your food processor or blender, puree the Basil, Oregano, Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Salt and Pepper until it forms a uniform paste. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat the broiler on your oven.

In a medium saucepan, melt the vegan margarine, then add the Saffron, Leeks and Shallots. Saute 5-8 minutes, until soft. Add all the mushrooms to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Set aside.

Butterfly slice the "steak" so that it opens like a book, being careful not to cut the "steak" into two separate pieces. Place the mushroom stuffing inside of the steak, then roll it up lengthwise and tie up well with twine. It will now look like this...

Rub the "steak" all over with the Basil/Oregano paste, then broil for 5-10 minutes per side until brown but not drying out.

Serve.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Individual Broccoli, "Cheddar" and Rice Casseroles in a Chanterelle and Rosemary Cream Sauce


I had my first "mom" moment today. Our lovely little Jack Russel/Chihuahua mix, Shwee, took a trip to the vet for her vaccinations. We thought all was well, then a few hours later, her muzzle turns redder than a strawberry and starts puffing up like a penguin in heat.

Me: "Jane...does Shwee look funny to you?"

Jane: "Oh shit."

We grab Shwee in our arms and run across the street to the pet hospital, hearts beating faster than the sound of our feet on the pavement.

The second we bust in the door, the guy running the desk takes one look at her. "Oh no. Allergic reaction!", he yells. He pages a tech to the front who whisks Shwee out of Jane's arms and off to some unknown place where sick animals go to either be saved or bite the big biscuit. My heart falls to my feet. I feel this deep churning in my gut that I've never felt before: the pang of a worried mother.

Now I know how my mom felt every time I fell terribly ill...or if I even just had a bad case of the hick-ups.

Besides doing an excellent job at being a hypochondriac for me, my mom is also one hell of a chef. She could bang out one hell of a casserole. As the leaves turn to their autumn hues (but not in sunny California, bitches...hah!), I start planning my Thanksgiving menu. Sure, it may be a bit in advance, but I'm a highly motivated kid. This week marks the start of my slew of Thanksgiving goodness.

Stay warm, east coasters :)

Individual Broccoli, "Cheddar" and Rice Casseroles in a
Chanterelle and Rosemary Cream Sauce

  • 1/4 lb Vegan Margarine
  • 6 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP Fresh Rosemary, finely minced
  • 3 TBSP All Purpose Flour
  • 2-3 TBSP Water
  • 1 3/4 cup MimicCreme (or Vegan Buttermilk)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1 16 oz package Frozen Chopped Broccoli, thawed (or 3 1/2 cups Fresh, chopped)
  • 1 lb Chanterelle Mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Vegan Cheddar Cheese, finely grated (preferably Daiya)
  • 3 cups cooked White Rice
  • 1/4 cup seasoned Vegan Bread Crumbs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the vegan margarine in a large skillet over high heat, then add the garlic and rosemary. Saute for about 30 seconds, then stir in the flour to create a roux.

Add the chopped chanterelles, and stir well to fully combine.

Lower the heat to medium high, stir in the water, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms begin to soften.

Slowly whisk in the MimicCreme, then lower the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a slow boil while stirring frequently.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the thawed broccoli, rice, 1 cup of the vegan cheddar and chanterelle sauce in a large bowl, then spoon the mixture into 6 separate ramekins. (You can also spoon all of the mixture into one large casserole dish, but see the different baking directions below*.) Top each ramekin (or the 1 large casserole) with even amounts of the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar and bread crumbs.

Bake in your preheated oven, covered with foil, for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, then allow the casseroles to bake an additional 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.

*For one large casserole dish, bake in your preheated oven, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, then allow the casserole to bake an additional 10 minutes until the top is brown and the cheese is bubbly.


Serve.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Vegan Black Garlic and Chanterelle Chicken Korma with Saffron and Cinnamon Infused Basmati

Despite the sexual allure of the above photograph, Indian food is not really "my type". Don't get me wrong, I'm very open minded and love something about every cuisine. But let's imagine this scenario...

I walk into a bar, hungry and ready for action. I casually slide up on a bar stool, being careful to sit so that it looks like my feet can actually reach the ground. I look up from my Mai Tai to notice that a gorgeous plate of pasta puttanesca is batting her sultry lashes at me. I give her a sly grin and wave her over.

"Can I buy you a drink?" I ask.

"Dirty Martini with Olives and Olive Oil" she states.

Yes ma'am.

I am immediately lured by her intoxicating aroma of fresh minced garlic. She takes a long slurp of her drink and I...Oh my, this is too much. I lean in for a huge bite, then pull away. My cheeks are red from a mixture of blushing and sauce.

"I'm sorry. I couldn't resist".

I look away for a moment to collect myself only to notice that a bowl of Tofu Paneer is attempting to make accidental eye contact. *Sigh*. Women. I look back to Puttanesca.

"Let's get out of here. I've got a batch of vegan parmesan you can slip into and feel a little more comfortable. Did I mention I have sterling silver forks?"

Her eyes light up and she takes my hand. On our way out, I give a casual nod and smile to the Paneer. "I'll be back", I mouth at her, making sure to wink in a non-'lester fashion. Hopefully she'll stick around.

Ok...maybe that's a slight over-exageration on how I feel about Indian food. Italian food always wins, but I really love the exciting combination of spices and flavors utilized in Indian cuisine.

Just so Paneer doesn't feel too badly about herself, I thought I'd give a go at one of the more popular dishes of her native land.

No recipe for this week. I just thought I'd post some fun, alluring photos. I'm saving this bad boy for the cookbook. Have a great week!

Some Lovely Chanterelles

Simmering in the pot...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vegan Sausage and Beer Gravy over Cheddar, Scallion and Cilantro "Buttermilk" Biscuits with Fried Dill and Dandelion Green


If you're from the right part of the gold ole US of A, you know of a place called Bob Evan's. I'd call it a restaurant, but people in the know understand that it's more like kitchy, interactive dinner theatre. Let me first paint a pretty picture...

Red and white checkered table cloths, waitresses named "Fran" and "Ethel" that ask "What'll it be, sweet pea" in a raspy, twangy voice, biscuits that melt in your mouth like the butter smeared all over them, good pie, and lastly, a smoking section. As their slogan indicates, Bob Evan's truly is a "Down On The Farm" establishment.

Don't get me wrong...I'll always love B.E.s. But I had and heard my share of weird experiences that slightly taint my nostalgia. For example, my best friend, a vegetarian, ordered scrambled eggs and hash browns. As she's mid-chow, she looks up. Her face turns cracker-ass white.

"What?!" I ask, thinking she's about to start waving her hands in the air and I'm going to have to Heimlich.

"There's a piece of chicken in my hash browns!" She screams.

Vomiting and messiness ensue. Not to mention they only comp'd part of the check.

What? We're both Jews.

Part 2. Same friend that ate the chicken infused hash browns actually gets a job waiting tables at Bob Evan's. In her first few weeks of work, she has the pleasure of waiting on a large African American woman in a brand new ALL WHITE track suit. Best friend accidentally spills a glass of grape juice on said all white track suit clad African American woman, and almost looses her life.

Lastly, there was Rus. Rus seemed like a nice young man at first. Best friend was about to get off of work, so I decided to cozy up at Bob's breakfast counter and down some coffee to fuel our night of partying. One of her co-workers, aka Rus, took an immediate fancy with me. Before my best friend could stop me, he had my number in hand. Turns out Rus was a bit of a creepy creepster stalker. One horrendous date (let's just say it involved heavy metal and learning to drive stick shift), 50 phone calls from him a day and one week later, it had to end. I tried to let him down gently. I had to drop kick him to finally get the phone calls to end. It took a little over two months, but he finally gave up. Best friend still hasn't let me live that one down.

Bad stories aside, I still have a special place in my heart for Bob's place. I can't really eat there anymore...haven't in a long time, really. But damn do I miss my childhood feastings on their sausage, biscuits and gravy. Hell I just miss the damn biscuits.

I decided my own version was in order. Happy Halloween!

Vegan Sausage and Beer Gravy over Cheddar, Scallion and Cilantro "Buttermilk" Biscuits with Fried Dill and Dandelion Green

For the Biscuits...
• 2 1/3 cups Full Fat Soy Milk (4-5g per serving)
• 3/4 cup Vegan Sour Cream
• 3 TBSP White Vinegar
• 4 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
• Heaping 1/2 TBSP Salt
• 1/3 cup Baking Powder
• 1/3 cup Vegan Sugar
• 1/3 cup finely diced Scallions
• 1/2 cup fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped fine
• 1/2 Daiya Vegan Cheese Shreds (or other Vegan Cheddar, finely grated)

For the "Sausage"...
• 1 16 oz Original Field Roast Classic Meatloaf, or 2 packages of Gardenburger Breakfast
Sausage patties
• 6 TBSP Olive Oil, divided in half
• 2 cloves Garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup Fresh Dill Leaves
• 2 cup Dandelion Greens, halved crosswise and stems removed
• 1 Leek, top removed, split lengthwise, cleaned and thinly sliced
• 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
• 1 cup prepared Better Than Bouillon's No Beef Broth
• 1/2 cup Vegan Dark Ale of your choosing
• 1 1/2 TBSP Cornstarch mixed with 1 1/2 TBSP Cold Water (optional, for further thickening)
• Salt and Pepper, to taste

To make the Biscuits...

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare a lightly floured work surface or large cutting board.

Make the "Buttermilk" by whisking the soy milk and vegan sour cream together until fully combined. Stir in the white vinegar, and set aside for at least 5 minutes until thickened. Once thickened, mix the scallions and vegan cheddar into the "Buttermilk".

In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, completely combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar on a low speed or by hand. Turn the mixer up to medium, then slowly pour in the "Buttermilk", scallions and vegan cheddar until the mixture just comes together.

Quickly turn the dough out onto the lightly floured work surface, then roll the dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round cooking cutter or the rim of a drinking glass, cut circles out of the dough and place on a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, then set on a cooling rack until ready to serve.

To make the "Sausages" and Gravy...

If you're using the Field Roast Classic Meatloaf, cut into 12 slices. If you're using the Gardenburger Breakfast Sausage patties, make sure they're defrosted well.

In a large saucepan, heat the first 4 TBSP of olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the "sausage" in batches until browned and thoroughly cooked through, then remove from pan and place on a plate. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm, and set aside.

Add the second 4 TBSP of Olive Oil to the saucepan, and turn the heat up to high. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the dill, dandelion greens, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then fry for 1 minute. Remove the dandelion greens and as much of the fried dill as possible from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, add garlic and leek and cook until soft.

Sprinkle the cooked leeks with 1/2 cup of flour, and stir well to combine. Then slow pour in the No Beef Broth and Ale, stirring until all the lumps of flour are completely eliminated.

Bring the gravy to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer until thickened to your liking. If you like your gravy very thick, whisk in the cornstarch/cold water blend and simmer for a few minutes longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve...
Split each Biscuit in half lengthwise, the serve topped with browned "sausage" and gravy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

White Asparagus, Artichoke and Crimini Smothered Purple Potato Skins with Crisp Vegan Bacon and Garlic Creme Fraiche

Thank Goodness it's Friday! I'm an atheist (jew), or I'd say "Thank God". Here I sit in my "Legalize Gay" tank top, ready to get shit faced and shake my tail feather on the dance floor...although my friend does affectionately refer to my dancing as randomized tremors. I'll have a great time nonetheless.

What really comes to mind when I think of "TGIF"? Potato skins. And Food Network's Guy Fieri with flames shooting off of his body in a corny commercial. But more importantly, potato skins. I have fond childhood memories from my dorky theater days of cast meet ups at TGIF, gorging myself on the cheese-smothered spuds and chocolate cake. I really should say "TGIV" (Thank Goodness I'm Vegan) because my cholesterol would probably be sky high if I maintained my carnivorous fat kid eating habits.

I decided to give a go at my rendition of the appetizer, and I was pleased as punch to see them devoured solely by my omnivore posse and myself. Nothing makes me happier than meat-eaters savoring my creations. Well, maybe sex. But it's a close second.

In other news, I'm ENGAGED! I proposed to my lovely Jane, even though moments up until I showed her the ring, she was convinced I was about to murder her. Allow me to explain:

I made her dinner, told her I was taking her somewhere special, but wouldn't tell her where we were going. I had this lovely romantic spot picked out that overlooks the ocean. It's completely private, and utterly beautiful. We hop in my car.
"How long is the drive?", she asks...dying to know where I'm taking her.
"20 minutes", I say. I was wrong. It's more like 45.
Half hour into the drive, she says "Are you about to kill me? You're acting strange (I was nervous), driving to the middle of no where, we've already eaten, and there aren't any bars for miles. I've gone down the checklist, and I think you're heading for murder".
"NO! Trust me", I shout.
She starts patting me down, looking for a weapon. I freak out because there's the ring in my pocket. This only convinces her more that her fate is sealed.
To make matters worse, I pull over at our destination...and it's a 75 foot high cliff.
"That's it...I'm about to die", she says.
"Get over here and sit".
She reluctantly sits as I pull out the alcohol.
"No way...we can't drink here...we need to get the fuck out of..."
"Jane, will you marry me?"
Enthusiasm and a "Yes" ensues :)

I'm glad we have one to tell the kids one day. We'll be engaged for a long while, but it's such a great feeling to have that ring on my finger. Have fun with the tater skins, and a great weekend :)

White Asparagus, Artichoke and Crimini Smothered Purple Potato Skins with Crisp Vegan Bacon and Garlic Creme Fraiche

For the Potatoes...
  • 6 small or medium Purple Potatoes (or Russet Baking Potatoes), about 3 lbs
  • Olive Oil, enough for coating potatoes
  • 3/4 cup Vegan Cheddar Cheese (preferable Daiya, but any will work)
  • 1 batch of Vegan Creme Fraiche (recipe below) mixed with 2 cloves pressed or minced Garlic
  • 2 Scallions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Chef's Note: Make the Garlic Creme Fraiche the day prior, and store in the refrigerator overnight with the garlic mixed in. You can also just substitute packaged vegan sour cream mixed with 2 cloves pressed/minced garlic.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Scrub the potatoes well to clean them, then rub with olive oil and bake them for about an hour until soft to the touch.

Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool.

Once cool enough to handle, slice the potatoes in half horizontally and gently scoop out the insides. (Save them for garlic smashed potatoes? Yes, please.) Place the halved, scooped out potatoes on a wire rack set atop a baking sheet.

They will look like so...

Now go ahead and make the filling (see below).

Once the filling is complete, up the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Brush the skins all over with more olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake on the wire-rack-topped baking sheet for a total of 20 minutes, flipping the skins over after the first 10.

Let the skins cool, then fill each scooped-out potato skin with an equal amount of filling, then top with vegan cheddar. Turn on your broiler, then let the skins cool until the cheese is melted, browning and bubbly...about 3-4 minutes. Yum...


Top with Garlic Creme Fraiche, scallions and minced vegan bacon and serve.

For the Filling...
  • 2 1/2 cups White Asparagus, cut into small (1/2-1inch) pieces
  • 1 can Artichoke Hearts, drained well and quartered
  • 2 cups Crimini Mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 batch of Vegan Bacon, cut into small, thin strips
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil, divided in half
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • A splash of Lemon Juice, for deglazing
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Chef's Note: If you're pressed for time, feel free to substitute packaged Vegan Bacon.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Allow the cut white asparagus to cook for about 4 minutes, until softened, then drain well. Immediately submerge in or rinse the cauliflower with ice cold water to halt the cooking process. Set aside.

Heat the first TBSP of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the small strips of vegan bacon to the skillet, and allow them to saute for 6-8 minutes, until browned and crispy. Carefully remove them from the pan, and set aside.

Heat the 2nd TBSP of olive oil in the same skillet, then add the garlic, white asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Allow the veggies to saute until the mushrooms are soft and have given off most of their liquid (they'll shrink in size by a little more than half), adding a splash of lemon juice to the pan about 4 minutes into the sautéing process.

Taste for salt and pepper, then remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Once cool, toss with 3/4 of the vegan bacon strips. Take the remaining 1/4 of the vegan bacon strips, and mince into tiny pieces for garnish.

Basic Crème Fraîche
  • 2/3 cup MimicCreme (or sub 2/3 cup Soymilk mixed with 1 TBSP White Vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup Plain Soy Yogurt
Mix the MimicCreme and plain soy yogurt together well, and leave out un-refrigerated for 12 hours. Yes, you read that correctly. It won't kill you...I promise.

Stick in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cumin and Avocado Oil Rubbed Portobello Tortas with Dragon Fruit Pico de Gallo and Purple Basil & White Peppercorn Mayo


I'm not just white, I'm saltine cracker soaked in soy milk white. I like Scrabble. And musicals. And scarves...plaid scarves. Whenever I attempt to make an ethnic dish, I feel like I'm doing something dirty. How dare I tread on another culture's territory because my skin reflects more light than quartz during a solar eclipse.

Despite my pasty facade, I'm not much of an American foodie. I love delving into the realm of ethnic cooking. I love experiencing the different spices, flavors, aromas and sensations of satiety. I absolutely love Mexican food, but rarely post the recipes I write because I simply feel like it's not my territory. I grew up incredibly north of the border in Youngstown, Ohio...an old steel town now governed by mobsters and crack whores. It truly is a great place to raise a family.
It's also a great place to eat.

For as far back as I can remember, there's always been an endless amount of amazing Italian food. Up until I was 13, though, the only options for Mexican were "Taco Bell" and "Chi Chi's".
Did I mention "Chi Chi's" is hispanic slang for big titties? No thank you.

EDIT [Note to self: Did I really say "No thank you" to big titties? Big self-slap on the hand, Jenn. Tsk, tsk.]

Then, all of a sudden, Cancun appeared on the scene in the late 90s. It was delicious. It was authentic. You could eat a full meal for less than you make in an hour working minimum wage in Ohio. Their chips were free and always fresh. The margaritas are amazing, which I was able to discover at quite an early age due to their lax ID policy.

Ok...there was a slight catch. They may have been shut down once (or twice) for health code violations. I don't eat animals, so I figure I escaped danger. But on the plus side, they always re-open with a vengeance! You've gotta respect their determination.

Enjoy making the tortas! They rock socks.

Also, if you missed my post a few weeks ago...NOW IS YOUR CHANCE! Take advantage of my friend Trevor's amazing program:

If you'd like to end your restaurant challenges, enjoy traditional comfort foods on the holidays (without compromising your ideals), and get plenty of calcium, Omega 3s, Vitamin B12, and other "elusive" nutrients from plant foods, here's great news. When you enroll in the Vegan / Vegetarian Mastery Program, you not only get a free 15-day trial...

You can also get an early bird bonus package with these five super bonuses...


1) The Restaurant Survival Guide for Vegans & Vegetarians
2) Vegan & Vegetarian Menu Items at 21 Chain Restaurants
3) Vegan Sources of Protein, Calcium, Iron, Omega 3s, A, B12 and D

4) All Vegan Holiday Recipe Collection

5) Charter membership in The Association of Thriving Vegetarians.

But to qualify for this bonus package, you must be one of the first 200 to enroll. That's why I'm writing... Enrollment opens at 3pm EST this Thu 10/8. Rather than make you compete with thousands of others, I've arranged for you to join 200 V.I.P.s at the front of the line. Here's how it works. First, read the program description and decide which program makes the most sense for you -- Bronze, Silver, or Gold. Read it here:


*Important note* -- If you try to enroll before Thursday, the "Add To Cart" links will NOT work. They won't be activated until Thursday afternoon. Next, complete the new student survey here:


The first 200 people to fill out the new student survey will get a first mover advantage. If you're one of them, you'll receive the enrollment link two hours before everyone else -- when enrollment opens on Thursday 10/8.

Cumin and Avocado Oil Rubbed Portobello Tortas with Dragon Fruit Pico de Gallo and Purple Basil & White Peppercorn Mayo

Cumin and Avocado Oil Rubbed Portobello Tortas
  • 4 Portobello Mushroom caps, halved
  • 3 TBSP Avocado Oil, plus more for grill pan
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • 2 TBSP Dry White Wine
  • Shredded Vegan Mozzarella (use Daiya if possible), amount of your choice

Whisk together the avocado oil, cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper. Using your hands, rub of each piece of Portobello with the oil mixture to coat on both sides.

Drizzle enough Avocado Oil to coat the bottom of the grill pan (about 1-2 tsp), and heat over medium high.

Grill the portobellos on each side until browned and softened, about 4-5 minutes per side, adding the white wine about half-way through the cooking process to deglaze the pan. Top with vegan mozzarella for the last few minutes so that it has time to melt.

Use the "Other Sandwich Incidentals" listed below to build your Torta. Feel free to get creative and add whatever fixins you enjoy. I assemble mine like so:

1. Bottom half of roll
2. Romaine
3. Portobello with Cheese
4. Dragon Fruit Salsa

5. Purple Basil Mayo, smeared on top half of roll
6. Top half of roll

Other Sandwich Incidentals...
4 Torta Rolls (or Kaiser Rolls), sliced like a hamburger bun
Romaine Lettuce
Purple Basil Mayo (recipe follows)
Dragon Fruit Pico de Gallo (recipe follows)



Purple Basil Mayo
  • 1 cup tightly packed Purple (Opal) Basil Leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup Vegenaise
  • 1/2 tsp Sherry Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Ground White Peppercorns

Combine all the above ingredients, in order, in a food processor. Blend until the basil leaves are finely minced and the mixture is fully combined. Add salt if desired.


Dragon Fruit Pico de Gallo
  • 1 small or 1/2 large Dragon Fruit, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 Roma Tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 3 Radishes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped Cilantro Leaves
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • The juice of 1/2 Lime, or more if desired
  • A touch of Salt and Pepper, to taste
Combine all of the above ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Sparingly use salt and pepper if adding before tasting. You want just a hint of sweetness from the dragon fruit.



Monday, September 28, 2009

White Lasagna with Basil "Ricotta", Spinach, Young Rocket and Diced Vegan "Pancetta", To Start...

White Lasagna with Basil "Ricotta", Spinach, Young Rocket and Diced Vegan "Pancetta"

I find it kind of humorous that I bake Vegan Twinkies. Honestly, it could be snappy slang that describes me quite accurately. In essence, "vegetable consuming gay girl." Whatever the case, I make them well. If you haven't heard via Twitter or another form of addictive interweb networking platform, I am remotely back in business. I say "remotely" because I'm only filling private orders. I'll even send them to you in Fiji as long as you're down to cover the cost of shipping. Please also know that I'm not being a cheap Jew with the pricing. I do what I can to make a little bit of dinero and cover the cost of quality organic ingredients. Check out my snazzy updated web site for all the information:


In other news, life has been quite exciting in my quaint West Hollywood abode. My girlfriend and I are attempting to secure ourselves as cast members on the new L Word Reality Series, and I think we'd be excellent candidates. For starters, we're a very "non-traditional" lesbian couple. We have dogs instead of cats, and we waited at least 5 months before U-Hauling (lesbian terminology for moving in together quickly), which is like 5 years on lesbian time. Typical dyke couples wait about two weeks. We wisely decided to take it slow. I won't reveal too much about our personal lives, but lets just say the song "Life In The Fastlane" might indicate some greater truths about our day-to-day activities. But no, I don't do coke. And I'm not brutally handsome. Take it more figuratively.

My cookbook has been progressing along nicely. It's slated for a Fall 2010 release, so start saving your shekels ;) I've been writing recipes like crazy, as usual, and will probably have most of a second book finished before the first is even out. Instead of a recipe this week, you lucky readers get some mouth-watering photos and the cooking video from the Surf and Turf I posted a few weeks ago.

Above, you saw a White Lasagna with Basil "Ricotta", Spinach, Young Rocket and Diced Vegan "Pancetta".

Here, we have...
Roasted Garlic Green Curry with Mixed Wild Mushrooms, Thai Eggplants and Vegan Pancetta


Here's the home-made Roasted Garlic Green Curry Paste:


And lastly, "Crab"and Oyster Mushroom Mezzelune in a Roasted Hatch Chile and Walnut Cream Sauce
Happy Yom Kippur, Jews.