Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Apple Hazelnut Torte

For some reason my computer has decided not to work with me tonight, and will not upload the pictures of the beautiful Apple Hazelnut Torte that I made for my mom's Birthday! I will keep working on it, but it in the meantime I will happily share the recipe (which has a photo of it's own).

I saw this recipe in last month's Bon Appetit, and it is an Apple Torte however the crust is made with breadcrumbs and hazelnuts. I thought this was very interesting and decided to give it a whirl. I happened to have a bunch of homemade cinnamon bread in the freezer, so I used that bread to make the breadcrumbs which really added to the flavor of the crust, so I highly recommend doing that!

This was a very easy recipe to veganize because there were no eggs in it. When the recipe called for butter, I used Earth Balance, and when it calls for milk, I used almond milk. Simple as pie.

This dessert went over very well with the crowd, and I do recommend it. Can't wait to share the pics with you, but in the meantime, check out the recipe here...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cranberry Orange Walnut Muffins

As I often do on Sunday mornings, this past Sunday I felt like spending some time in the kitchen baking up something simple and nice to nosh on during our traditional Sunday morning TV, paper, coffee and tea-a-thon. I happened to have an orange and dried cranberries on hand, so voila, cranberry orange muffins it was!
This is a simple recipe, so there isn't much to say... I adapted it slightly from Isa's recipe in Vegan Brunch. I made the muffin whole grain, a blend of flours as I often do to create complexity in flavor and texture. I also added a touch of cornmeal for texture. You can use fresh or dried cranberries, I used dried. They are especially yummy when glazed, which I did not show in my pic (sorry). BTW- I learned not to shoot foods the same color as my bamboo cutting board, on my bamboo cutting board. Lesson learned!

  • 1 ⅓ cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  •  cup oat flour
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk or other non dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest from one orange
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped, (you can also use fresh cranberries)
  • ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • dash almond milk, add 1 teaspoon at a time
Preheat oven to 350 (convection) or 375.

In a large bowl combine flours and cornmeal with sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Mix well and set aside.

In separate bowl combine orange juice, oil, milk, zest and extracts. Mix well.
Add in to dry ingredients along with cranberries and walnuts and mix until just moistened...
careful not to over mix.

Line your muffin tins with paper liners and fill each tin 3/4 of the way full with batter.
Bake for 23-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center come out clean. Let cool.

While the muffins are cooling mix the powdered sugar with non-dairy milk, one teaspoon at a time,
until you reach an icing consistency. Drizzle over the muffins and serve.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's Enchilada Night and I'm talking about Mexican Food!

Yay for Mexican Food! A lot of people think that if you are vegan then you don't "get to eat regular food". I think the word "vegan" can scare people unnecessarily. Avoiding animal products is not hard, especially considering that most flavorings are plant-based: herbs, spices, oils, salt, pepper, tomato sauces, salsas, guacamole, marinades, barbeque sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, jams, chutneys, etc. I find that ethnic foods are especially easy to make without animal products and eating out as a vegan is almost always easy at ethnic foods restaurants.

Eating out:
When I go out to a Mexican restaurant I almost always get vegetable fajitas and enjoy building my own little tacos filled with the veggies, guacamole, salsa, beans and rice (always ask to make sure they are vegetarian- sometimes they sneak chicken broth or lard in there). Luckily, guacamole and chips and margaritas are usually animal free and I can make a meal out of that right there!
I have always loved refried beans, but those can be more difficult to find at a restaurant due to the fact that they are classically made with lard. Most of the time, a Mexican Restaurant will offer both black beans or pinto/refried beans and in my experience the black beans are almost always vegetarian and often the pinto or refried beans are not, but sometimes you get lucky and they are (Tres Agaves, I love you). The mexican rice is often also vegetarian, but again you have to ask because they could use chicken broth to cook the rice in, in which case it's not going on my plate...
I am happy to see that almost all restaurants now days are vegetarian/vegan friendly and no longer act surprised when consumers ask questions about the origins/ingredients of their dishes- whether it be about trans fats, sugars, animal products, etc.  Vegetarian or not, as a society, I think we are learning that we have to take control of what goes in our bodies, but we shouldn't have to sacrifice eating out to do so.

So back to these Enchiladas I made tonight...I have always loved Mexican Food, believe it or not I am a quarter Mexican- I don't look it at all, but I definitely have a love for all things Mexican- which makes my Grandma very happy! We ate a lot of Mexican Food growing up, and back in the day it was not vegan. My mom is great at making mexican food, but now as an adult I have had a lot of fun veganizing my favorite mexican dishes. Tonight I made my version of enchiladas. Inside those enchiladas were a combination of homemade refried beans (so yummy), diced and marinated seitan (a vegetarian protein made from wheat protein and has a meat like texture), which was sauteed with diced red peppers and corn. I also put a dollop of cashew creme in there to add a nice texture. I used regular corn tortillas, and made a homemade enchilada sauce from tomato paste, water, diced tomatoes, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin powder, salt and pepper. A top the casserole was the amazing and delicious Daiya Cheese which I have talked about before on this blog. I am so happy because it is SOY FREE! Not that Soy is bad but just like anything else, I think soy should be eaten in moderation - a topic for another day. Anyways, if you haven't tried Daiya yet, you must. A lot of pizzerias are starting to use it now as a vegan option which is awesome... Daiya is available at Whole Foods and probably most Natural Foods markets.

Lastly- those refried beans. I will post the recipe on another day this week, but in short, I use a bit of cashew cream as I mash my beans to give them that creaminess that  the best refried beans will boast. The flavor and texture is spot on, and lard-free. More to come later this week.

So, my final point today is that it is easy and delicious to make minor changes that can take a classically non-vegan dish, make it healthier and vegan and supremely delicious!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

South American Stew

This recipe is a recipe I adapted from Bauman College's Natural Chef program, where I received my certification in 2009.  It is one of my absolute favorite stews, packed with colors, vitamins, flavors and textures and lots of protein between the quinoa and the kidney beans, and is perfect for fall. I like to top mine off with a bit of fresh avocado and cilantro.  I always feel so healthy after eating this stew but it is so hearty and comforting you would think it was bad for you!

South American Stew
2 cups carrot juice
1 T. grapeseed oil
1 cup onions- diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 cup tomato juice
2 cups vegetable stock- plus more if needed to thin at the end
1 1/2 T. chili powder
3 cups sweet potatoes, 1 inch dice
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups green beans, cut to 1 inch
2 cups cooked kidney beans (1 15 oz. can - rinse if using canned)
2 cups corn- fresh or frozen
2 cups vegetable stock- or more if needed to thin
lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot,  add onions about 5 minutes. Add garlic for 1 minute more.
Add carrot juice, tomatoes and tomato juice, chili powder, sweet potatoes, and quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for 10-15 minutes.

Just as the sweet potatoes get tender add the green beans and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the beans and corn and continue to cook until just heated through. Add more vegetable stock if stew is too thick. Season to taste with sea salt, fresh pepper and lemon juice.

Serves 8

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What I love about Vegan MoFo...

So, I have to keep today's post a bit short, it has been a super long day! But I had to update a few things that I have been cookin the past couple of days. Well, ironically the one picture I have to post is of uncooked food. It was still delicious though!

I love Vegan MoFo because it is so much fun to explore the blogs of other vegan foodies such as myself, and I am constantly amazed at some of the brilliant combinations that people come up with. This site makes it super easy to surf blogs the world throughout. I recently made the super fudgy brownies from Not a Rabbit which were amazing! A bit more like fudge than a brownie, but a great hybrid a super recipe! (Pictures to come if I don't eat them all first). Also threw together some whole wheat cous cous with steamed broccoli, tri-color cauliflower and butternut squash, and dried cranberries, a very simple and satisfying lunch.

The pic I posted is of a super tasty fall salad that I made. I sliced fennel very thin and tossed it with some green apples, radishes, hazelnuts, and parsley. I made a tangy vinaigrette from white balsamic vinegar, agave nectar, olive oil and salt. Lots of flavors going on here, and the peppery radishes balance the sweet and tangy apples and dressing.  Very seasonal and pretty to look at, especially the way those radishes contrast with the green apples!

So, I have a few things on my radar for the next couple days: a tomato, kale cannelini bean soup, cranberry orange muffins, and gingerbread cookies... lots of good food blogging to come...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Winter Pasta - Brown Rice Penne with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard

I may have mentioned this before, but if I haven't, I really love winter squash... really, really, really love winter squash. Kabocha Squash is my ultimate favorite, but I also love, delicata, butternut and acorn. The health benefits of winter squash are numerous, namely they are packed with phytochemicals- those important anti-oxidants that help us fight off diseases like Cancer, and a plethora of vitamins and minerals, namely Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Folate, and the B Vitamins.

So, this week I was feeling like comfort food and decided to make this creamy pasta dish studded with chunks of fresh roasted butternut squash, along with swiss chard that had been sauteed up with a touch of oil, garlic, and Field Roast seitan sausage. This was a hearty plate, filling and satisfying. I had pre-roasted my butternut squash cubes very simply in a light coating of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 375 for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. (This can be done in advance, and then re-heated)

I used brown rice penne pasta. I am not gluten sensitive, but I try to reduce the amount of gluten that I eat when I can. Since the Field Roast sausage that I was using is made from vital wheat gluten, I thought I should go with a gluten-free pasta to balance it out. If you haven't tried brown rice pasta yet, I highly recommend it. You can't tell any difference, and it is more nutritious than regular pasta. The only thing that I have found is that brown rice pasta is not good for cold pasta dishes, it becomes very tough! But for hot pasta, go for it. Even Trader Joe's is now offering Brown Rice Pasta in a variety of shapes.

For the quick and creamy sauce, first I made a roux. Yes a roux can easily be made vegan! A roux is a combination of butter and flour traditionally used as a thickener to start off a sauce. I used earth balance and whole wheat pastry flour to start mine. You use equal parts of both ( I used 2 tablespoons of each). You put the roux in a sauce pan over medium low, and stir it frequently until it starts to brown a bit. At that point you build your sauce. I added vegetable broth and unsweetened almond milk, nutritional yeast, a touch of fresh nutmeg, and salt. I like to eyeball these ingredients, start out slow because you can always add liquid, but you can't take it out! You need to whisk constantly as you add these ingredients, and the roux will thicken it as it heats up. Once you reach the desired consistency and taste, you remove from the heat. You want to leave it a little bit thin so it can spread over the pasta well- if it's too thick it is not very palatable on the pasta. The resulting sauce is golden brown and deliciously flavorful.

To bring the pasta together, I added the cooked pasta to my skillet of swiss chard and veggie sausage, threw in the squash cubes, and finally tossed it gently with the creamy sauce. I like to top mine off with a touch of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat, but that is up to you!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's Vegan MOFO... My first post of the Month: Soba Noodles with Green Beans

That's right, it's Vegan MoFo! That is Vegan Month of Food! I was looking at the headlining page of Vegan MoFo headquarters and saw that I got a shout out for my recent posts... the headlining page is everchanging, but still cool to see my stuff on the main page. Every year, vegan bloggers all over the world commit to blogging about their delicious plant based cuisine for at least 20 days out of the month of November.  I am three days behind on my post, but I have been taking pics, so I am sure I will catch up with it...

I really think Vegan MoFo is great because it brings awareness to the benefits of a whole foods, plant based diet that is better for our bodies, the earth, and also for the animals. It is inspiring to see the incredible things that people come up with, and experience people with similar values from across the world. 

My first blog is these awesome Soba Noodles with Green Beans, Bell Peppers, Bok Choy, and Peanuts. Super simple dinner last night, and I was craving noodles for some weird reason. I really like Soba noodles and I look for the ones with the highest percentage of buckwheat flour. Buckwheat is very healthy, it  has more protein than regular wheat (which it is much different from) and a unique nutrient profile. Soba noodles are generally a blend of wheat flour and buckwheat flour, and the darker they are, the more buckwheat they have in them. I did a quick stir fry on the veggies while the noodles cooked, and to bring it all together I made a quick sauce reminiscent of something you would get at a chinese restaurant. 

In a saucepan, I combined ( no real measurements here, just eye-balled it) soy sauce approx 1 tablespoon, a splash of rice wine vinegar, a splash of hot sauce, about 1/3 cup of vegetable broth and about a teaspoon of sesame oil, and about 2 teaspoons of tomato paste. I whisked all that together, and added about a teaspoon of corn starch to thicken it. I whisked this over low heat until the mixture thickened, about 2 minutes... a super simple asian sauce for my noodles! 

Lastly the sauce goes in the skillet with the stir-fried veggies, add in the drained noodles and the sauce, and there's dinner. I topped it off with some fresh scallions and peanuts. 
Super yum!
Hope you enjoy Vegan MoFo...