Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Loaded Baked Potato Hash Brown Waffles

Makes one, six-inch waffle
Time: about 30 minutes

The idea of hash brown waffles certainly isn't mine and, after seeing them all over pinterest lately, I decided to give them a try. Getting crispy not mushy hashbrowns is all down to washing off some of the starch then squeezing every drop of moisture back out of it. Not touching them a lot in the pan and adding a little oil also plays a roll, which is why using a waffle iron to make them is so ingenious.

These crispy, savory triangles were a breeze to whip up and perfect for a weekend breakfast. If you are wondering what the "bacon" is here, it's Joni Marie Newman's epic seitan slab o'bacon from The Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions, which you should definitely check out and grab a copy of. It's full of great, creative recipes that are not only veganized, but also show you how to veganize other recipes yourself.

I finely diced up some of the seitan bacon, threw in some Daiya cheese and chopped scallions, then topped with a little vegan sour cream and sriracha and poof these were super baked-potato-ey! 

One large russet potato, peeled and rinsed
1 TB water
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp Ener-G egg replacer
1 tsp baking powder
2 scallions, chopped
a few dashes of salt and pepper
1/4 cup Daiya shreds, cheddar-style
2-3 TB chopped vegan bacon (I used the seitan slab o'bacon recipe here, but Sweet Earth brand, or vegan sausage (like Field Roast) would probably work too)
vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti brand)
cooking spray
sriracha, to serve
extra chopped scallions, to serve

Peel and grate the potato on a box grater. Fill a medium-sized bowl with cold water, then add the shredded potato to it. Allow it to sit in the cold water for a few minutes, then swirl it around with your hand to remove some of the starch. Transfer the shreds to a sieve by scooping them out with your hands, then rinse very well under cold water until it runs clear. Then, transfer the shreds to the center of a tea towel, twist the top, and wring out as much water as you can until the shreds are crumbly and bone dry. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl.

Preheat your waffle iron.

To make the hashbrown mixture, whisk together the water, oil, egg replacer and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl. Drizzle over the potatoes and toss to coat. Add in the chopped scallions, salt and pepper, vegan cheese and bacon. 

Once your waffle iron is ready, spray it with a generous coating of cooking spray, then distribute the potato mixture evenly over the top. Gently close the lid and press the top and bottom together to compress the mixture.

Allow it to cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crispy.

Serve immediately with the vegan sour cream, sriracha and chopped scallions.

Friday, August 21, 2015

I'm now a graduate of Rouxbe's Plant-Based Professional Certification Course!

I did it! I'm a graduate of
Rouxbe's Plant-Based Professional Certification Course

Since enrolling in the course six months ago, I have loved immersing myself in Rouxbe tasks and lessons, learning and reviewing basic prep techniques, making original recipes using completely plant-based ingredients, creating the perfect homemade manicotti from scratch and challenging myself in new and different ways in the kitchen.

Read all of my past Rouxbe posts here and check out some of the dishes I made as part of my assigned cooking tasks on my Pinterest board!

The final portion of the course involved implementing lots of the foundational cooking techniques covered in the entire syllabus. I especially loved how Rouxbe taught these techniques in an order and way that made sense. I didn't just read about or watch videos of techniques—I implemented them and really understood the how and why behind them.

After I took my final exam, Rouxbe gave me a breakdown of what I learned since I started the course:

But I think my favorite part was creating dishes for my final cooking assignment: making canapés! But, before I go into that, I just wanted to thank all of the Rouxbe chef instructors who gave such great feedback, guidance and encouragement throughout the course. In addition to the great platform and expert instruction, having them cheer you on and give insightful feedback for each cooking task was a great motivator to make each lesson count. Thanks Chefs Chad, Ken and Dawn for your expertise, enthusiasm and guidance, and for making it challenging and fun!

The next Rouxbe course seating starts November 5. Whether you want to learn all about plant-based cooking or already have a good working knowledge of plant-based cooking and want to hone your skills, Rouxbe is designed for both!

Micro-Wedge Salad with Maitake Bacon, Toasted Walnut and Vegan Ranch

If you were around in the 80s, you probably ate a wedge salad or two, which was a big hunk of iceberg lettuce with bacon, eggs, sometimes walnuts and some kind of creamy dressing. This is a mini, veganized version of that concept, but here I've used a raw Brussels sprout leaf, then layered it with smoky and salty maitake bacon, toasted walnut pieces, some softened shallot rings and vegan ranch made from Vegenaise, parsley, vegan Worcestershire, agave, garlic powder and a little black pepper, then topped with a microgreen.

Sweet Watermelon Radishes on Toasted Rounds with Vegan Feta and Balsamic Reduction

I had never seen a watermelon radish until we moved from Boston to the West Coast. They are always plentiful here. Bright and crisp with a peppery bite, they resemble watermelon only in appearance. I either eat them raw or pickle them but, for this canapé, I sprinkled them with sugar to offset some of their pepperiness. These rounds are tortilla wraps I cut out with a mold ring, and gave a quick toast to in a lightly oiled cast iron pan. 

One of my favorite recipes from Rouxbe is Chad Sarno's raw, cultured cheese, which is a raw nut base (in this case, macadamia nuts) which are blended with probiotic powder and cultured overnight to develop a rich, cheesy flavor by the next day. Once this cheese was cultured, I added enough salt until it resembled a crumbly dry feta cheese. A dot of this was placed between the round and radish to help them stick, then I added a touch of a balsamic reduction and layered again with more cheese and topped with fresh basil and black sesame seeds. 
Vegan Scallop (King Oyster Mushroom) with Amaranth Caviar 

I adore vegan scallops and wanted to use them here because they are so pretty and have a nice texture. After slicing them and giving them a soak in some warm water, I scored them on the top and seared them in a screaming hot stainless steel pan. To make the amaranth caviar, I boiled the amaranth grain in beet juice until al dente, and added in some balsamic, soy sauce and thyme in at the end. Once cooled, I placed into the refrigerator to chill and to allow the beet color to really penetrate the grain overnight. 

This was a really tiny one-bite canapé, and the flavors in the beet juice really gave it a nice flavor. This caviar doesn't really pop or taste like traditional or other vegan caviar brands—but visually I really like the way it looks. 

Vegan Negimaki

One of the tasks at Rouxbe was to make a vegan brisket (I know!) It was the first time I braised anything, and figured out that braising is fantastic. Here I cut the brisket into super-thin strips, rolled with chopped scallions and drizzled with homemade teriyaki sauce. They look really pretty on the plate, and have an amazing texture and flavor!

Baked Cashew Cheese Tortellini with Dried Tomato, Shallots and Basil

The pasta unit was probably my favorite part of the course. Getting the right dough consistency, learning how to roll it out and cook it once done is a fun challenge, and Rouxbe walks you through how to do each one. Here I made some cashew-cheese stuffed tortellini, topped with a dehydrated tomato slice, paper-thin shallot and fresh basil leaf. These were brushed with oil and baked, and made a fun two-bite appetizer.  

Rouxbe generously waived my tuition in exchange for blogging about my experience and sharing my honest opinions about their Plant-Based Professional Certification Course.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Pulled Jackfruit Sandwiches with Red Cabbage Slaw

Makes about 4 sandwiches
Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Canned jackfruit is amazing. You can dry it out and put it in tacos, use it as a crab analogput it in a salad and a bunch of other things. All you really need to do is find a can of it packed in either brine or water, break up the flaky pieces, then dry it out, braise or saute it to get the texture you want.

For this application, I smothered the flaked jackfruit in a new-to-me purchase I recently found at Trader Joe's: Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce. This stuff is perfectly spicy, super thick and perfect for making pulled jackfruit sandwiches. The flavors and heat get really concentrated and thick during the bake time, making a spicy and sticky sauce that clings perfectly to the jackfruit. 

Once the jackfruit is done, the rest of the sandwich is a breeze: some red cabbage slaw is added for crunch and color, some sliced jalepeno for a different kind of heat and some cilantro for a clean and herby finish. You can of course finish it with whatever you want, but you should definitely not skimp on toasting the bun before you assemble. The buttery crunchiness is magic and worth the extra few minutes of work!


for the pulled jackfruit
2, 20 oz. cans of jackfruit, packed in water or brine
2 tsp canola or grapeseed oil
1 1/2 to 2 cups vegan BBQ sauce (I used Trader Joe's Sriracha-BBQ sauce)

for the slaw
1 cup chopped red cabbage
2 tsp vegan mayo (I used Vegenaise)
2-3 dashes apple cider or coconut vinegar

to serve
1-2 handfuls of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 jalepeno, sliced thinly
4 hamburger buns
vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare the jackfruit, drain then pull it apart to create shredded pieced. Finely chop the tough parts and discard the seeds. Place the oil into a large cast iron pan, rub to coat, then add in the shredded jackfruit. Smother with the BBQ sauce until it covers it only halfway, stir to coat, then place into the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and give it a stir. Return it to the oven and let it bake for 15 minutes more. Repeat this process until you have a texture you like. BBQ sauces vary in viscosity and sugar content, so this time will vary. I baked for an additional 45 minutes total to get this texture.

Allow the jackfruit to cool and serve immediately, or chill in a separate container and serve later by warming it up over medium-low heat in a cast iron pan until heated through.

When you are ready to serve the sandwiches, first toast the hamburger buns. Don't skip this step because it really makes the sandwiches fantastic. 

To toast the buns, melt enough vegan butter in a clean cast-iron pan,over medium heat so the bottom is covered. Place the buns in the pan for a few minutes, or until toasty and crisp around the edges. Repeat his process until all of your buns are golden and crispy.

To make the slaw, quickly toss together the cabbage, vegan mayo and vinegar.

To assemble the sandwiches, divide the jackfruit into four portions and place them on the toasted buns. Top with the slaw, fresh jalepenos and cilantro and serve immediately.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Abundance Diet | Review + Recipe!

If you are familiar with and follow vegan blogs like I do, you've no doubt seen and read about Somer McCowan of Vedged Out's inspirational, plant-based story. If not, check it out hereSomer is a super-enthusiastic, super-sweet person who creates gorgeous vegan and mostly gluten-free recipes. I love her style, welcoming spirit and fun approach to food. Last winter, Somer told me I should join Instagram, and I was like, hmm, I don't know ... but signed up after that and now I love it ... thanks Somer!

Most recently, Somer has come out with a cookbook called The Abundance Diet. When Somer reversed her severe ulcerative colitis through a plant-based diet, she revitalized her health through eating in a way that not only kept her feeling full without counting calories, but also eliminated bad cholesterol and helped her blood pressure. The Abundance Diet is a reflection and celebration of that journey, and champions eating nutrient-dense plants to reinvent and improve health. With meal plan menus, fitness tips and ways to maintain this new lifestyle, The Abundance Diet is approachable, welcoming and offers gorgeous recipes designed to keep you feeling full between mealtimes.

With recipes like bbq tofu and avocado spring rolls, raw pad thai, oil-free goddess dressing, raw cashew horchata and chocolate chip mini-blondie muffins, Somer shows that eating low-fat and plant-based is not at all boring, but rather full of possibilities and abundant with vibrant colors and amazing flavors. 

And speaking of gorgeous colors, I first made Somer's rawkin' rainbow kale salad with creamy chili lime dressing. It was super fresh (take a look at all of the colorful and flavorful components below!), super tasty and we loved it! So I'm happy that the publisher, Vegan Heritage Press, is allowing me to share the recipe here with you ... enjoy! 

Rawkin’ Rainbow Kale Salad 

I call this “a salad for the kale haters” because my husband, who isn’t fond of kale, asked for seconds on this incredibly lush and dreamy salad. 

Recipe from The Abundance Diet, © 2015 by Somer McCowan. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press LLC.

Creamy Chili Lime Dressing:

1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup raw cashew pieces (soaked for 4 to 6 hours
1 tablespoon tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos 
Juice of 1 large lime
1 teaspoon chili powder, or more (depending on your heat preference)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper 

Rainbow Kale Salad:

1 large bunch (16 ounces) lacinato or dinosaur kale, tough stems removed, then cut into 1/4-inch shreds 
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/4 head small purple cabbage, cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
1/2 cup red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice or thinly sliced rings
1 large carrot, cut into thin 2-inch long matchsticks
1 large ripe Hass avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small jicama, cut into 2-inch long matchsticks
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Lime wedges, for serving (optional)

In a high-speed blender or a food processor, combine the red bell pepper, garlic, cashews, tamari, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Blend until completely smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. 

Transfer the kale and the cilantro to a large salad bowl and pour on the dressing. Toss until all the kale is thoroughly coated, then massage the kale with your hands for 1 to 2 minutes. (Massaging kale makes it taste better!) Divide the kale salad among four large plates and top with the purple cabbage, red onion, carrot, avocado, and jicama. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Makes 4 servings